What about the history? The clue is in the name. Who better to take us through the Hepworth Ferguson than Andrew Hepworth, son of the man that masterminded the monster, David Hepworth.
It quickly becomes obvious that this is a family project: One man’s no-holds-barred quest for speed that’s passed through the generations. The original concept was a specialised all-wheel-drive setup linked to a 5.0-litre 500bhp Chevy V8, retrofitted to a Brabham Formula 1 chassis. Following quite the struggle, it was obvious the slight Brabham frame and the muscular drivetrain wasn't a compatible match. A new Brabham-based chassis was designed and built and the drivetrain fitted. The Hepworth Ferguson FF AWD special was born. When put to work, it won the 1969 British Hillclimb Championship in 1969 and ’71, with commendable runner-up slots in ’70 and 72. The latter win also saw David be the first to break the 30-second barrier at Shelsley Walsh. Andrew alleges that this car played a pivotal role in the banning of all-wheel-drive in top-flight single-seater racing – including Formula 1.
Following its sprint successes, the Hep’ Ferg’ sat in bits for the best part of 30 years while David’s attention was turned to Can Am before being faithfully rebuilt and restored in time for the Centenary of Shelsley Walsh in 2006. It’s seen semi-regular use ever since.
The Hepworths are an unashamedly speed-crazed tribe whose penchant for power as inherited from their late father is evident in both this F5000, the BRM-Chevrolet P154 Can Am car that joined it at FOS and the numerous other muscle-bound monstrosities in their care. Who’d have thunk it from a family name etched in Hillclimb and Can Am history? What a pleasure it was having them all at FOS, and what a spectacular piece of Hillclimb machinery the Hepworth-Ferguson F5000 four-wheel drive special. The question is, when will it be back and will they have at the Hill in anger?
Photography by James Lynch, Drew Gibson, Jochen Van Cauwenberge, Nigel Harniman and Sam Todd