Almost exactly 55 years ago, end of September/start of October, 1960, a most unusual event took place here at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. The Ford Motor Company had rented the place to demonstrate ‘the speed and reliability of the ordinary Anglia’ – their brand-new 105E ‘notchback’ small saloon car.
Three new Anglia De Luxes were selected and prepared, with Speedwell electronic rev counters just to the right of the steering column, a radio ‘to help keep the drivers awake during the awful hours around 3 o’clock in the morning’, and odd bits of foam rubber attached to pad ‘such strategic projections as the gear lever knob, which might have rubbed the driver’s leg under the strain of incessant right-hand cornering at high “g”’. Halda speed pilots were also fitted as a certified check upon the actual mileage that each car would complete.
Recognition lights were added to assist lap-scoring from the pits at night, and drivers were allocated to each car. No.1 was shared by none other than contemporary BRM Formula 1 driver Graham Hill with former ERA owner/driver and Ford main dealer Cuth Harrison and rally driver-cum-future Shell Oil competitions manager Keith Ballisat. No 2 would be driven by Cooper Formula 1 star Bruce McLaren, Edward Harrison and veteran motoring journalist/driver Tommy Wisdom. And No 3 was allocated to Aston Martin Formula 1 star (and 1959 Le Mans winner) Roy Salvadori, teamed with John Mitchell and journalist Gordon Wilkins.
The objective was to run for seven days, and hopefully to exceed 10,000 miles. The biggest problem then proved to be breaking recognition lights and headlamp glasses, due variously to drivers running in close company throwing up stones and ‘careless behaviour of the boundary posts which lined the course’…
Required servicing was largely confined to tightening fan belts but a more serious problem was high tyre wear on Goodwood’s then notoriously abrasive surface. The new Anglia’s 7-gallon fuel tank and 32mpg consumption dictated refueling stops every three hours, and initially the left-front tyre would be changed as routine at each stop. The cars then proved to be driven so hard that more expensive Michelin X steel-band radial tyres were adopted, left-fronts then surviving six hours, and the other three a full 12 hours between routine changes.
The engines in cars Nos.1 and 2 both burned exhaust valves, and the heads were rapidly changed for fresh. One wonders what the Consumer Association would make of this today? Soon after, the No.2 car required new left-front hub bearings – and again after 7,932 miles. No.3 car had worse luck, being rolled on the grass at Lavant Corner, its (unidentified) driver being protected by his Richmond safety harness (unusual in those days). Some speedy panel beating was followed by a new left-front suspension assembly at 2,156 miles, and another at 10,254 – by which time Ford’s target had been achieved… although at 9,588 miles a half-shaft broke – being attributed to the accident. As ‘The Motor’ magazine commented, the car’s sustained average of 61mph (regardless) ‘…is a considerable tribute to the Ford mechanics’.
At 3.30pm on Monday, October 3, 1960, the three Ford Anglias finally crossed the timing line in echelon with Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren and Roy Salvadori at their wheels – recording respectively No 1 10,469 miles at 62.34mph average – No 2 10,423 at 61.89mph – and No 3 10,366 miles at 61.53mph.
And in their rest periods between driving stints Graham, Bruce, Roy and Keith Ballisat all took the opportunity to take flying lessons in a rented Piper Tri-Pacer aeroplane, rented with instructor from the Oxford Aero Club. Graham Hill confessed that none of them had taken into account the need for sleep while planning their week. He enjoyed the company of the car radio: ‘Before long I had a good idea of what Mrs Dale was up to’ – Mrs Dale’s Diary being the suburban equivalent of The Archers then – ‘…and I was able to sing the opening bars of the Top Twenty’. He also found an all-night German station, which amused him with a rendition of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ – in German.
Rain and wind afflicted the run and standing water puddles proved a real hazard, especially at night. The course was lined with reflectors mounted on kerbside posts, amongst which the mortality rate was high. Wheel tracks spotted one morning – curving outside the posts on the Lavant grass – went unexplained, none of the drivers owning up. The press were summoned to witness the run’s completion on October 3, after which each journo was given two laps in each of the cars, driven by Graham, Bruce and Roy… Graham crowing ‘Thus giving us an opportunity to settle some of our old scores…’.
That’s right, things were – well – ‘different’ then. But 10,000 miles in seven days round Goodwood was quite a feather in Ford’s cap, and the ‘notchback’ Anglia went on to achieve tremendous success.
As for its 105E overhead-valve engine, when breathed-on by Cosworth Engineering it would become the dominant power unit in single-seat Formula Junior racing, and thereafter the taproot of development which led in seven years to the record-breaking Cosworth-Ford DFV V8 Formula 1 engine. Between 1967 and 1983, Ford claimed 155 GP wins with those 3-litre V8s – and 40 years ago – in 1975 a variant won the Le Mans 24-Hour race in the Gulf Mirage co-driven by Jacky Ickx/Derek Bell.
All happy days – with Goodwood yet again playing a pioneering role…
Photography courtesy of The GP library