Historic Rally Car Register – Competition Classics

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By Darren Rungasamy

Rallying has always captured the imagination of the public, the direct link between your dad’s car and a similar version being driven within inches of its life through a forest stage or through the Alps triggers the adrenaline and memory of any petrol head of a certain age.

The Historic Rally Car Register was formed by a group of enthusiasts to help preserve the cars that represented the golden age of Rally sport. With a global membership of 1,400 covering every significant manufacturer, the HRCR holds their annual open day at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The event represents the many individual clubs who participate in over 70 events a year all over the country. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the RAC rally’s first use of forest stages, a series of forums and talks have been organised with actual key members of the BMC Competition Departments team on hand to discuss their memories, as well as other speakers discussing events, car preparation and driver advice to both HRCR members and the public.

The club is open to cars registered before 1991 and encourages organised rally sport at a competitive or even just a leisurely level. It caters for both professional time-shaving talent in MK1 Ford Escorts or those interested in simply touring the roads of the UK in a convoy of like-minded enthusiasts. Like all rally events, there are categories, depending on the age of the car, engine size and level of experience. Most if not all of the HRCR sanctioned events are organised, marshalled and run by volunteers, who will endure the unpredictable British weather, as well as dedicate their time to make sure the events are run safely and professionally. Visit
for more details on events, membership and how to get involved.

The event offered an insight into the dedication and hard work that goes into this level of motorsports. When you consider the costs of mechanics, tyres, accommodation, as well as car maintenance, the costs can easily spiral into thousands of pounds per event but what is a man without a hobby? There are cheaper options though, with scenic tours costing as little as £120.

The event was housed in the conference rooms of the BMH, with reduced entry to the superb museum. The talks provided a great insight into the past and present aspects of historic motor racing as well as an opportunity to pick up a few personal presents to reenact on the dining room table.

This green South African Mini Cooper S is the kind of car that you could easily walk by but it is significant for its locally made seats, and different roof seams. It’s also fitted with several unique parts, such as front reflectors, external rear window hinges and catches.

This Austin Maxi is almost as legendary as her driver, the always amiable Bronwyn ‘Bron’ Burrell seen here promoting her other passion. This very early 1500 example, affectionately known as ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’, competed in the World Cup Rally in 1970 and both lady and machine are just as strong today. Furthermore, the car will be returning to mark 50 years of the event with both Bron and her original co-driver, Tina Kerridge, to Mexico this year to compete in the Mission to Mexico 2020 event. Find out more via the car’s website

It’s not just timed runs through tracks in remote forests chasing Clubman Champion titles, the HRCR also hosts multiple events that offer scenic tours in the most picturesque parts of the UK, with fine dining and comfy hotels en route!

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the RAC connection, a number of cars that took part in the first event were present, including this aluminium bodied Frogeye Sprite and this competition prepared, Jaguar MK2.

Of the numerous clubs at the event, the Owen Motor Club is one of the longest established in rally sport. Named after Sir Alfred Owen, the Owen Racing Organisation was a major benefactor to the BRM F1 team. Organisers of the club turned up in these recent rally heroes, including this 46 WRC winning Group A 1990 Lancia Delta HF and this low mileage and very original 1998 Group N Homologated Peugeot 106 Rallye.

A chance for friends and competitors to catch up. Despite its huge popularity, the MGB is something of a forgotten hero in the golden age of rally cars. Tunable, plentiful and relatively cheap to buy, the B has a lot to offer for those considering the world of endurance and rally events.

Paddy Hopkirk MBE is the HRCRs president and was on hand to also pose for a few photographs. He turned up in a very different car to his 1964 Monte Carlo winning Cooper S but it’s still a Mini! Hopkirks original car is on display as a permanent exhibit in the museum.

Two Volvos on display, showing their heritage in historic rally sport. Volvo was used throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s thanks to their strength and excellent road holding. They were simple, reliable cars that were easy to tune. Unfortunately, it’s compatriot, the Saab 96 was more successful and tends to overshadow Volvo’s competition history.

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