Sorting through my hard drives this month, I came across these grabbed shots of Malcolm Wilson at Goodwood in 2005.
This was the first year they ran the rally stage there and they brought back happy memories I just had to share with you. Attending the press day for a couple of different magazines, I’m standing by Mr Wilson having a chat about son Matthew, then running in the British Championships and the state of WRC in general.
Beside him is the Computervision Metro 6R4 he finished the RAC Rally in back in 1986.
“So how do I get a ride in this then?”
“Just go and sign the form and hop in, feller….”
60 seconds later, yellow wrist band attached and life suitably signed away, I’m adjusting the five point Sabelts and Malcolm thumbs in circuit breakers and fuel pumps whirr. A thumb on the starter and a sharp bark from the flat plane crank V6 directly behind our shoulders.
Flimsy composite doors clatter shut and we roll forward to the start line.
This car had recently been found in Italy and is exactly the same as when he stepped out of it in 1986, complete with scuffed bodywork, aged cut slick tyres and International spec 450bhp engine. On gravel.
This will be interesting.
The Goodwood rally stage was carved out between Lord March’s beloved trees and he wanted as few as possible removing, so in places, they’re just a little close to the stage, shall we say. The surface is traditional gravel rally stage and tight in places, so those 20 year old wet weather tarmac tyres might not be the perfect choice, but Malcolm doesn’t seem concerned.
A couple of sharp blips on the throttle, then the tail squats and the nose points skywards as Wilson side steps the clutch we charge off the line.
I’ve been in plenty of quick tackle of the years, both behind the wheel and in the passenger seat, but the International Spec motor in this Metro 6R4 gives you one of those ‘fired off an aircraft carrier’ moments that caught me out.
For the first 50 feet or so, your brain is going through a big re-calibration process of “OK, lets just speeeed everything up here, we’re a bit behind…..”
Calibration complete and reactions up to speed, I glance across to see that while Wilson Senior might have retired from active competing, he clearly hasn’t forgotten what to do. The Goodwood rally stage runs in both directions, one car at a time, with a hairpin-type loop at the end before returning back the way we came.
The 6R4 clearly doesn’t like the tight hairpin, Malcolm patiently getting the nose turned in and working those 20 year old tyres to generate some front end grip and get some oversteer going, then another fantastic bark from the V6, a flamboyant slide and off we go again, through the big green blurry tunnel towards a tight S bend section. Again the unsuitable tyres make it hard to get turned in, but once the front is committed, Malcolm’s hard on the gas balancing the oversteer as the scenery blurrs and the engine barks at each gearshift.
I can’t help myself and start laughing out loud, something I can’t ever recall doing in a car in many, many years.
The end of the stage is a long straight and the car really gets on the cam in the higher gears as we surge forward down the green tunnel. Broad daylight looms and finally, Malcolm lifts and gets on the brakes as we slowly coast back into the paddock area, V6 making that ‘I’m in a hurry’ fast idle noise.
There’s a thrum of adrenaline through your body as everything returns to normal speed. “I tell you what”, says Mr Wilson flicking off the ignition, “It’s still a really strong engine in this thing, just as I remember it”
Fantastic. Warm handshake, off with the harness and in steps the next joyrider.
As I walk away I hear the master switch snap on, a buzz from the fuel pump and it barks into life. This time we’re standing outside for the full exhaust effect and the distinctive bark from the motor as Malcolm charges off into the trees again. And it sounds just as good from the inside too….