My interest in anything with an engine started at an early age. Probably as far back as the late 50s when I watched my Father repair his Ford MKI Consul at home. I remember him taking the sump off and fitting new big-end bearings the day before we were going on holiday!
In 1960 (I was 10 years old) and we moved to a derelict Canal Lock Keepers cottage, no road, the closest tarmac was 1.5 miles down the Staffs and Worcester Canal. No water, no electricity, gas, nothing. This was real boys stuff, a boat to get to school, no other kids did that!
All this gave me the opportunity to mess with engines. At the age of 12 I bought a BSA Bantam for a fiver and rode it up and down the towpath and in the farmers fields with no silencer or mud guards etc. To ride a motor bike on slippery ground and not fall off or end up in the canal took perhaps more luck than courage. At that age you don’t think about the dangers. But it was exciting stuff, to be in control, well mostly, of a machine.
Apprenticeships in the 60s were considered a normal route to gain hands-on education in many forms of employment, and be paid at the same time, especially the Motor Trade. Mine started in 1966 directly after leaving school. Lloyds of Stafford were the biggest garage, and Main Ford Dealers for the Stafford area. This and a back street garage were my only choices and the big dealership seemed the right choice to make.
In the late 60s Ford launched the Escort Twin Cam, hotly followed by the World Cup Rally Mexico and RS1600 and the birth of the Rallye Sport Dealerships. And the Advanced Vehicle Operations department (AVO) at Ford.
Lloyds was large enough to be granted Rally Sport status. I was already involved in the preparation of an Anglia 1650cc, sponsored by the garage, for local club events. And as payment for all the hours spent on the car was given a drive as second entrant. My first event in 1969 was a hill climb, promoted by Stafford & District C C, more like an autocross as it was in a field…………. I was hooked!
Around the same time, a program of apprentice training was launched and I became responsible for overseeing the training of new apprentices at the garage.
Space in the main service department was limited, so we moved to a basement workshop previously occupied by the hire cars. This also had sufficient space to house a rally preparation workshop. It had no windows, being underground, and soon became known as “The Bogey Hole”. It was big enough for about 10 cars.
First big event
Our 1st major event was the 1971 RAC Rally a grueling 3 day, virtually non-stop night and day International rally sponsored by Lombard. Our driver/co-driver was Harold Morley and Peter Bryant in a Lloyds of Stafford Escort Mexico, number 88.
The weather was so bad in Scotland that several of the stages were closed as rally cars were getting snowed in. Peter had a hunch that this would happen and diverted to the next major time control.
To the amazement of the press and rally officials we were the first car in! We did finish the rally, in 34th place, that in its-self was an achievement.
In the picture “waiting to service” is FEV 2H, an Escort Mexico which did gruelling 16000 mile London to Mexico World Cup Rally in 1969, finishing sixth driven by Jimmy Greaves with Tony Fall as co-driver, click here for Tony Falls comments on the Rally.
After the rally, Roger Stubbs of Potteries and Newcastle Car Club bought the Escort.
‘MOTORSPORT CAN BE DANGEROUS’
Is a sign often seen at rallies and most motorsport venues, this is just how dangerous it can be!
This is what was left of Bill Wood’s RS1600 MKI Escort after a roll in Derbyshire in 1970. The car rolled onto a dry-stone wall and ended up in a field. Bill Wood, in the glasses, was unhurt but navigator Laurie Richards, on the left, was less lucky and suffered a broken arm. No roll-cage in the car, not advisable. They were both lucky not to be seriously injured.
Strangely enough Laurie didn’t do much navigating after the Bill Wood accident, above.
But went on to do very well driving a succession of Escorts, mostly sponsored by Century Oils and Goodyear Tyres.
I co-drove with him on this rally win below.
Association with Harold Morley.
1972 saw us co-building an RS1800 MK I for Harold and Peter and an attack on the Motoring News Rally Championship, which was a night road rally series with events all round the UK including The Island of Mull. Harold finished 3rd in 1971 before coming to Lloyds.
We won the championship with Harold and Peter in 1972.
Mike Hutchinson also won for Lloyds in 1982 driving Escort registration DRF 222N.
Here is a youtube link to an audio track of Morley and Bryant on the RAC 1972
After a hard nights servicing on the Dubonet Rally in which the Morley/Briant pairing won their third 1972 championship event in a row. Kevin Broadhurst (on the left) and I thought we deserved some of the spotlight when we borrowed the silverware and posed for the press at the side of our service van.
We were gaining a reputation for the scariest driving of a service van, well we had to keep up!
RIP Kev. Left us in 2017.
As the Anglia had migrated to Hot Rodding with Ron Aiken I built a Lloyds Escort Twin Cam for autocross events and had a couple of good seasons Autocrossing around the UK. Several class wins came my way during the BTRDA championship and one overall (FTD) win at a Sixty and Worcester event.
Up to this time the Escort Twin Cam was still owned by Lloyds but I bought it in 1972 and converted it for Road Rally use. Eric Cowcil and I had some great fun doing night rallies but Lloyds couldn’t finance a cars rally prep that didn’t belong to them, and the cost of maintaining a rally car was proving too much for me and I sold it at the end of 72.
Jill and I were married in Nov 72 and rallying had to go on the back burner.
But things were looking up, and with the launch of the RS2000 MK I in 1973 Lloyds needed a motor sport presence again and we built a Rally car for special stage events and I was able to drive it! So ARE 200M was born. An RS2000 built from a bare shell, with one of our 2.1 litre engines.
Eric Cowcil was again alongside me and our first event was the Cumbrian Stages around Workington. Most of the stages for this event were in a stone Quarry, rough as blazes, and it wasn’t long before we lost the exhaust.
A road section took us through Workington and on spying an open bus depot decided to see if I could weld the exhaust in their garage, we were soon back in business and so hyped up that recorded the fastest time on the next stage.
Some fantastic rallies followed that year including the Arkell in 74&75, Castrol National, Birmingham Stages, etc as well as some Autocrosses in the road car class.
Of course it wasn’t my car so we were able to invite other drivers into the seat for special events. Some of these included; Tony Drummond, Laurie Richards, Andy Dawson, Linda Jackson, Mike Hutchinson and more.
Avon Tour of Britain.
During this time we were involved with other drivers and their car preparation, even a car for the
Avon Tour of Britain in 1975, and Texaco Tour of Britain 1976, both sponsored by Woolworths.
I co-drove for Glen Mitton in these events and were doing very well in the 1976 Tour lying 7th overall until Mallory Park race circuit where the car suffered from fuel evaporation, the car started again after a time and we did finish the rally but much lower down.
RAC Rally 1976
The MK II Escort RS2000 wasn’t long in coming and we soon became busy building mainly GP1 rally cars. We had a 3 car team for the RAC Rally in 1976, I co-drove for Ronnie Mc.Cartney but we had a very violent roll in Sutton Park and didn’t finish the event.
The Escort had only 1 wheel left after the roll but we got it to the stage finish somehow. I had been co-driving with Ronnie on several National Special Stage rallies during the year, including the Welsh, Castrol, Scottish. Ronnie used to giggle as we drove the stages, when I spoke to a previous navigator about this he said the time to worry is when he stops giggling!
Co-Driving was an inexpensive way of keeping in Motorsport, Mike Patterson (Ears Motorsport) who won the Motoring News Championship in 1976, with help from Lloyds, and he invited me into the passengers seat for the Forest of Dean Stages in 1977.
This was his first off road stage rally and he seemed to take to it well. I couldn’t do the next rally with him, and sadly on that event there was a terrible accident and his co-driver died.
Below, some night rally shots with Mike Hutchinson driving, me navigating.
Coming to the end.
From the above you will perhaps get the idea that I enjoyed it, mostly that’s true. It wasn’t easy and we had to constantly battle with the management to be paid something, anything, when we were away servicing on rallies that Lloyds were sponsoring.
In February 1977 I left Lloyds, after nearly 12 years there.
I needed to be more in control of my destiny and started my own garage business, straightaway, and so, the birth of ROB PENDLETON MOTORS. RPM.
Most of these photos are copyright. I have tried to contact as many of the photographers as possible but as most photos are 30-40 years old it this has been impossible. Thanks to those who have given permission, and credit is shown where applicable.