TRIUMPH AND DISASTER ON THE MONTE CARLO

TRIUMPH AND DISASTER ON THE MONTE CARLO

Intrepid Club members Ben Stephens and Sorrel Gilbert were delighted when their 1934 ‘Monte Carlo’ model Triumph Gloria was accepted for participation in the 2018 Historic and Classic running of the Monte Carlo Rally. Ben spent many months preparing the car, rebuilding the engine and checking every mechanical aspect so that the old girl could cope with whatever Europe’s winter weather could throw at them. He even acquired and fitted original 1930s leather strapped snow chains to the spare wheels.

Motoring up from their home in the South of England over the last weekend in January, on the evening of Wednesday 31st January, and outside the historic Paisley Abbey, our fearless two left the starting ramp.

Seven and a half hours of night time motoring lay ahead and despite the freezing temperatures and snow on the long drag up the A66, Gloria was up to the task and they arrived at their first overnight stop at Barnby Moor, just north of the Nottinghamshire town of Retford. A few hours to defrost and catch a little sleep, it was soon time for a hearty breakfast and to don the layers for Thursday’s journey to their lunch time stop in Banbury.

Having completed that journey, welcomed, lunched and taken part in the display of participants, it was back behind the wheel for the trip to the south coast and the Channel crossing. It was all going very well with Ben delighted in how his historic car was performing.

More hard driving across France though, took its toll and many kilometres later the 84 year old engine fan decided enough was enough. Decades of spinning had work-hardened the steel blades and one decided to detach itself and make friends with the radiator core – and sadly, on Friday afternoon, that was that! They had made it all the way to Reims and were ready for the last leg but fate and metal fatigue had called a halt to their journey.

The car was recovered by a local garage but the management shared none of Ben and Sorrel’s enthusiasm to get it repaired and get back to the task. The garage closed with the car safely locked away with the comment “see you on Monday, Monsieur”.

Having come so far and built up friendships and camaraderie with the other competitors – and with hotel rooms booked in Monte Carlo, they took to the train and enjoyed watching the others arrive.

The insurance company came up trumps and agreed to recover the car and get it home – and Ben took an equally long way home in the spare seat in a competing MG TC. Sorrel, sensibly, took a flight!

And now the plan is to quickly repair the damage. A new core in the rad, a replacement fan and all should be good to go; and go it will as Ben’s plan is to get there. Later in the year he will set off from home, travel across the channel and travel through France – it’s Monte Carlo ‘or bust’!

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