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Sporting Trials cars

Search for 1950's Sporting trials car RPA539?  

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  1. 1. Have you seen or know of the RPA539?

    • Yes
      0
    • No
    • In a sporting trial
      0
    • I know someone who may have it
      0
    • Seen it in a museum
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I am trying to locate a car my grandfather built from scratch in 1947/49, for sporting trials and some circuit racing in southern england until the mid 1950's . The registration was RPA 539, and was named the  M&H special (after Murcutt and Harris), and was registered we believe the following year with the DVLA, although they have been unable to find any record of it so far. My grandfathers name was Charles Henry Harris, although he was known as Harry, or CH to close friends.

The engine was retrieved from a sunken boat in Chichester harbour, which took 2-3 visits including being hauled up from the boat below using a winch.  and then a full rebuild was done, to obviously include drying out and removing any rust etc from the engine. The chassis was from a pre war Austin 7 straight from a scrap yard, and was also modified to suit the car and style of driving. The car was made for car trials in Kent Surrey and Sussex, in events that were known as “mud plugging”, which you can see from a couple of the pictures where the mud must have been close to a metre deep, unlike some of the trials today. The car was  at times known to be used in local circuit racing aswell.

The  M&h special,  with its 1172 cc sidevalve Ford engine on an aquaplane head,  twin SU's were  mated to a  Wolsey 4 speed gearbox. My grandfather competed with the likes of  Bernard Dees of Croydon, and Percy Barden to name a couple of people of that time. Percy Barden was a well known  Builder who owned a large estate in Maidstone, which was also used for car trials before it was  developed it into the massive housing estate.

Another name that comes to mind is Rex Chapple, who was an undertaker, Rex drove  with his glamorous wife as passenger.  Rex  from Bromley in Kent, was like many others drivers from that period, from Kent Surrey and Sussex who gave up their Sunday for pleasure after such a hard War

After the War my grandfather won a Engineering scholarship to study at Walthamstow College, and then as a young man later served his apprenticeship at AMC in Plumstead,   and like many after the war started his own car business (in Redhill). He was soon working for Rob Walker of Pipbrook Garage Dorking repairing the race cars that had been damaged either the week before or during practice, including Rob Walker's stable of race cars. In later years he worked with Alf Francis who was head mechanic at Pipbrrok garage, a  tempermental eastern eurpean perfectionist

This brings me onto the M & H special,  which was a very well designed car for all intents and purposes. All of the chalk technical drawings were on the workshop doors and looked as if they had come straight out of a Ford factory. At an airfield sprint event, my grandfather and uncle started talking with a guy who had a car which looked very similar, he and my grandfather chatted, he turned out to be Colin Chapman of Lotus.

Charles Henry Harris, or Harry, was born in 1908, and lived in London until his family was bombed out in 39, then moving to Redhill in Surrey, and lived to the ripe old age of 86. He was also and was a member of the 750 motor Club.

It would mean a great deal to me and my family if we could find this car, or any news about it. anything  would be very gratefully received.

yours faithfully,

Nick de Meyer

07958625142

dynamicmotion1@hotmail.com

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Nick,

Do you know where the sprint was held when he met CC - I might be able to find something in the VSCC archives.....

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Hi

I don't unfortunately, it wouldn't have been too far from redhill in surrey where my grandfather lived and had his garage, maybe redhill aerodrome if that was used for them? he was a member of the 750 mc, and did some trials with the maidstone motor club

thanks in advance

nick

Nick,

Do you know where the sprint was held when he met CC - I might be able to find something in the VSCC archives.....

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