Being based a mere grasshopper’s leap from the Goodwood paddock we get to chat to many folk about the cars they’re running on test days. And as mentioned in yesterday’s OTT, Graham Robson and Hilton Persaud came straight out and asked if I’d like to drive their 1958 Standard Pennant racer for a few laps – which doesn’t happen quite so often! How could I refuse?
So after a swift briefing from Hilton as to the car’s handling habits I signed the necessary paperwork, found a lid and minutes later found myself strapped in to the Standard’s hotseat! With Hilton sitting next to me to ensure I treated his car with due respect, I selected first gear and headed out on to the track.
‘You’ll need to pile the revs on to get away in first because it doesn’t have much torque’ Hilton advised. He may well have been right about the little Triumph-based motor’s twisting force, but once on the cam it was clearly producing more than double its original 37 bhp. And as for the original quoted top speed of 70.2 mph, this Pennant was buzzing its way past 90mph at the end of the Lavant straight.
Handling-wise the car was a hoot to drive. With Hilton sitting next to me it wouldn’t have been right to hurl the car about at ten-tenths, but even adopting a more conservative driving style it was moving about on its Dunlop Historical tyres in a very satisfying and predictable manner. Hilton reckoned that the car could do with being more stiffly sprung, and I’d agree; you can see from the footage that it was bouncing around a tad more than is desirable.
But with the spring rates sorted the Standard should be in good shape for the St Mary’s trophy where BTCC driver Sam Tordoff will drive the car with Hilton. Bearing in mind the number of top drivers taking part in the Fifties saloon car race, it should be some spectacle! I just wish I could be out there as well.