Car & Classic Dealer

Polson Motor Co. Ltd

Mill Farm, Ashfield Green, Wickhambrook, Newmarket, Suffolk

CB8 8UZ

1933/34 Talbot AV105 Alpine Trial Team Car Replica ‘BGH 22’ SOLD

Following the 1933 Alpine Trial racer Mike Couper, privateer Hugh Eaton and motoring journalist Tommy Wisdom made a joint approach to Jack Scott, sales director of Clement Talbot, proposing a factory team of three cars for the 1934 event. They suggested that there could be no better reason for tackling the daunting Alpine Trial again "than to prove that the 105 in its fourth year of production was still better than anything else in the world... a fact which the public was tending to forget after two years' absence from competition."

Scott was easily persuaded, appreciating that although the 3-litre Talbot 105 model was not new, still no rival product – including Bentley - could approach its specific power output per litre. The Talbot engine was also more robust than the finest offered by Bentley and Lagonda while the recently adopted pre-selector gearbox was a great advantage in Alpine motoring.

The Talbot accountants would prove a somewhat harder nut to crack. The Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq group, of which Clement Talbot Ltd was part, was in poor financial health and there was simply no money to compete. Couper and Scott however knew just the people to solve the problem, leading Talbot distributors Pass and Joyce, who enthusiastically agreed to fund the team.

The Talbot commitment to this relatively modest competition venture in fact was to mark the beginning of a period of Talbot racing which lasted almost five seasons "... and which in some ways was to be the most significant period in Talbot racing history". Furthermore, as Anthony Blight explained in his magnificent tome 'Georges Roesch and the Invincible Talbot,' "It was a period dominated almost entirely by Mike Couper and his Alpine team leader 'BGH 23'...".

Three new Alpine Trial team Talbots were produced. Registered 'BGH 21', '22 and '23. 'BGH 21' was allocated to the Wisdoms (Tommy and his wife Elsie), 'BGH 22' to Hugh Eaton, and 'BGH 23' to Mike Couper.
The 6th International Alpen Trial was organised by the German Automobile Club, attracting no fewer than 155 entries, including new models from BMW and Delahaye. Mike Couper's new team had to join battle with the Germans on their home ground, and a very long way from home.

On Wednesday, August 1, 1934, Couper in 'BGH23' led the three-car Talbot team off to battle. Through desperately stormy, rain-swept weather conditions, the new team Talbots battled their way to Nice by Friday. Sunday saw scrutineering on the Promenade, then parc fermé to await the Tuesday start, when from 4. 00am cars set off at one minute intervals.

Georges Roesch himself awaited the team's arrival in Aix-les-Bains after their first day's 306-mile grind. Next day comprised 263 miles to Interlaken over the Little and Great St Bernard Passes.

Many major passes punctuated the Trial's third day, including the Grimsel, Furka, Oberalp, Lukmanier, Splugen and Maloja before the night stop at St Moritz. The Talbots attacked the mighty Stelvio Pass in the order Wisdom, Eaton and finally Couper in 'BGH 23'. While Wisdom managed a clear run, both Eaton and Couper were delayed by a stalled official car, Mike Couper reckoned he had lost well over a minute yet still completed the climb in 23mins 23secs, Eaton 22:22. 2 and Wisdom 22:16. 8. These Talbots were by far the fastest in the entire Trial, and Wisdom's had set a new record for the Stelvio.

After the Italian Colle d'Aprica, Passo del Tonale and the Mendola, the Talbots checked-in at Bolzano, after which the Rolle and Costalunga Passes preceded an uninhibited charge into Padua, then 4, 000rpm and 80mph-plus for 10 kilometres through the Autostrada speed test and across the lagoon into Venice.

Next day the Talbots tore through Trieste to Fiume, holding "... an easy 70... arriving in the mid-morning check with ample time for a final fill of Italian petrol and a three-course lunch; they had averaged over 50mph from Venice..." (Blight). A dusty pot-holed time-wasting section followed through Yugoslavia to end in Zagreb before Day 6 took the entry some 550 miles back to the finish in Munich.
The Talbot and Adler teams were finally judged equal winners of Group II, both teams winning coveted Alpine Cups. The Talbot marque's record of seven official entries in three separate Alpine Trials with not a single mark lost by any car, and the highest possible award won in each event is quite remarkable.

All three of Couper's team Talbot 105s finished in excellent condition. Tommy Wisdom would report that after the total 3, 600-miles covered – "Oil consumption had averaged 1, 700 miles to the gallon and petrol 18mpg. Not a sparking plug had been changed, nor a tappet adjusted. Brakes were still 100 per cent efficient – they had been adjusted once. No car in the world could have given less trouble or performed better...".

Fast forward to the mid-1960s and Anthony Blight was the doyen of Talbot owner/ drivers, having published the standard work on the Subject- Georges Roesch and the Invincible Talbot and assembled in his own collection virtually all of the Team racing and rally cars. Of all these the most effective and that which he used and treasured most was ‘BGH 23’ which went onto great success at Brooklands following the 1934 Alpine Trial.

Having acquired the original body for ‘BGH 23’ in 1966 and having a great many Talbot AV105 spares Blight decided to put these to good use and build them into a reconstruction of ‘BGH 23’ sister car ‘22’, which he believed to have been scrapped by its custodians during the Second World War, since it had not been heard of in the UK since 1939. As such with the help of Talbot specialist John Bland using a correct AV105 specification chassis and running gear and with a 3. 3-litre '110' engine as fitted to ‘23’ for Brooklands racing ’22’ existed once again by 1967. The final touch being to acquire the registration number ‘BGH 22’ for the car.

What however Blight had no way of knowing at that point was that ‘BGH 22’ had not in fact been scrapped during WWII. The car’s owner Australian Undergraduate David Hawker having had to leave the UK in a hurry on the outbreak of War, had left the car in storage with his friends at Atalanta Motors in Staines. There it remained for the duration of the War and it was not in fact until 1948 that Hawker had his shipping agents Elder Smith & Co Ltd send an engineer from the AA to Atalanta Motors to see what had become of the car, he reported it to be fundamentally complete but in poor condition (see copy letter on file). Due to this Hawker made the decision to dispose of the chassis and body (to save on shipping costs) and have the rest of the car sent over to Australia to use as spares for his other Talbot.

All of this only became known to Blight after 1967, when founder of our sister restoration company Australian Ian Polson tracked down Hawker and all of the surviving parts of ‘BGH 22’ in Australia and was given this letter and established what had become of this famous car, he then made contact with Blight and passed this information onto him. These original ‘BGH 22’ parts would eventually be rebuilt around another original AV105 chassis incorporating all the surviving mechanical components of ‘BGH 22’ and the chassis number.

Blight used his ‘BGH 22’ sparingly, later transferring the original body from ‘23’ in exchange for an accurate replica version which the car has been fitted with ever since, this work being carried out by Ian Polson. In 1976 ‘BGH 22’ was sold to Blight’s son in law Stephen Curtis, a well-known capable and enthusiastic historic racer in his own right in ERA, Bentley, Frazer Nash, Cooper Bristol, Dixon Riley and Maserati amongst many other cars. He would successfully campaign ‘22’ for many years racing, rallying and hillclimbing the car successfully at events such as Le Mans Classic, being invited to the Goodwood Revival and many many other prestigious international events. In all those years the car has never been trailered to an event and only once had to return home from Goodwood on a trailer following a transmission failure.

Throughout his nearly 50 years of ownership ‘BGH 22’ has been maintained assiduously by him whilst more specialist work has been undertaken by leading specialists such as Arthur Archer and Cecil Schumacher- with a recent gearbox rebuild by the latter, see many invoices on file for various work throughout the years.

As offered for sale for the first time since 1967 ‘BGH 22’ has a proven record of reliability and speed befitting an example of probably the most effective British pre-War sports car, as at home on the rally stage as the racing circuit, with a proven record of eligibility for the world’s greatest historic events.

To be either enjoyed in its current form, or for someone with the ambition and foresight necessary to be reunited with its sister car containing the mechanical components and chassis number under one ownership to make an important, famous and valuable British competition car whole again after many years separated.

This advert has now been removed through sale or otherwise.
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