Amazing vintage Derbyshire car breaks 200mph barrier in salt-flat speed trial

A car built in Matlock has made the journey across the Atlantic to Bonneville, California, where it achieved 200mph during speed trials.

Monday, 12th September 2016, 11:02 am
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:20 pm

The 1961 MGA was brought to life and entered into Bonneville Speed Week on its famous salt flats by cousins Colin and Steve Walker and David Chapman, of Darley Dale’s Milner Off Road Ltd.

But, as is often the case with such expeditions, the trip was beset by hitches from day one, with personal, logistical and mechanical problems from the outset.

Car owner, Colin, 64, was forced to fly back to Manchester when his wife was taken ill and the car almost never made it to the meet when the group’s tow truck broke down en-route.

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Colin said: “By the time I got back I had missed all the rock and roll stuff. For the first two days the car was completely buried in people wanting to look at it.

“People were interested in it because it does not really look like a speed car and they liked the fact that it was original.”

And, after a small problem with the car’s fuel pump, when it came to the crunch the Matlock-made hotrod, driven by Dave Chapman, held its own when many others were coming unstuck.

“The car ran faultlessly,” said Colin. “But the salt condition was not good due to mining extraction in the area and quite a few people span off at high speed.

“Dave drove really well and carefully and just clipped 200mph on the final run of the day.”

But Colin had to give a heartfelt thanks to Rich Stuhaan, a contact from their first, failed attempt on the salt flat in 2014, who donated the use of his truck to get them to Bonneville and now stores the car at his California home until their next crack at the record.

“The record is 223mph, which we could do with modifications,” said Colin. “All the indications are that the car is stable at high speed - the salt was bad but it still moved accurately.”

But the sports car racing is not a cheap hobby and Colin is now looking for sponsorship to cover the very high costs.

He said: “It’s difficult because this is a niche car. We would be more likely to find sponsorship in the USA than here.

“But we have the opportunity to do it again so we are going to keep going and see what we can do. We have persevered for the last five years and we do not feel like giving up right now.”