Paddy’s neighbour, a priest in Belfast, gave him the Putney in 1942 as a play thing, and this sparked the Irish rally man’s early interest in driving. At this stage the Harding had lever steering and a rudimentary braking system, operated via a hand brake only.
Hopkirk addressed this problem by fitting a new braking system, operated by a foot pedal, thus enabling the famous ex-BMC Works driver to begin perfecting his ‘Scandinavian flick’ cornering skills in this slow but inherently unstable mobile device, whilst still wearing short trousers.
Paddy’s Harding was kept in storage for a while, but as his motoring racing career blossomed, he lost contact with the car many years ago. Fast forward a few decades, and Paddy mentioned the Harding – his first motoring love – in passing during a BBC interview. Amazingly the then London-based owner of the car heard this interview, and contacted Hopkirk to say that he had the car, by then in a sorry state, stored away in Dulwich!