Defending his Rover 115SD, Calum challenges Murray Scullion and Richard Kilpatrick to a Brooklands time trial. It doesn't go well for team Metro...
Words: Calum Brown
Photos: Gillian Carmoodie
Some aspects go hand in hand, such as a Rover 800 and the overpowering aroma of Old Spice and fax machine toner, or Channel 5’s ‘The Cars That Made Britain Great’ and the urge to lob a brick through the telly, hunt down Phil Tuffnell, make him eat his stupid, stupid words alongside force-feeding him a ceramic mug. Some things, however, do not - such as children and automatic weapons, Donald Trump and politics or, in this case, a Metro and steep hills.
After defending my recent purchase of a ‘diesel powered wheelbarrow’ from the CCW hyenas, I dared Murray Scullion to a challenge after one cutting comment too far - expecting him to look at the floor sheepishly and for the print team to back off. However, to my surprise, he accepted. And then came the kick in the knackers, the challenge was to take place on Brooklands’ notorious test hill, courtesy of Paul Stewart. I was in for a beating - how in the world could a 1.5 diesel Rover 115SD top a Mazda MX5, even if it was Murray's ropey one held together purely with hope?
To try and mask the Metro’s frankly lethargic acceleration, a truly terrible car was needed to complete the trio - so I contacted Richard Kilpatrick, who held the CCW’s Ford Puma keys that week - and he agreed to join in. CCW's Ford Puma is a truly hateful car - like driving that little bit of material between the chocolates and the lid on a box of Cadbury's Milk Tray. You can find out how we got on with it in our 'Puma enjoys a mudbath and crashing into a ditch' article from October 2016 - and our opinion of it hasn't changed.
Nevertheless, the date was set for the Metro’s first challenge - taking on a Murray’s MX-5 and Ford’s runt, under Richard's control. This was going to be interesting - like watching Daniel Craig and Bradley Cooper take on Alan Carr.
Shoe-horned into the cacophony of traffic that is the M25 car park, after five gruelling hours dwarfed by trucks and pushed around by disgruntled commuters, team Metro bounced into the Brooklands courtyard, greeted by Murray and Paul. Then the Puma arrived, slicing Brooklands’ net value clean in half with it's gauping face and pathetic stance. And that's rich coming from a facelifted-Metro owner.
With the paperwork signed to disclaim that if we crashed and died it was our own senseless fault, we lined up for the start in, what was described as, ‘the worst cars ever to grace Brooklands’. That noise is Sir Malcolm Campbell spinning in his grave at 5000rpm.
After having witnessed Murray’s MX-5 depart in a plume of tyre smoke and roar up the hill on a crest of admiration from those watching, I approached the starting point with extreme trepidation. Chances are, my little blue tractor was going to stop two thirds of the way up and roll back down, probably on fire and upside down - like Benny Hill on steroids.
Paul instructed me to get ready and I prepared my biting point, resting the cars eager flatulence on the handbrake. Then the handbrake snapped completely, leaving me to jut forward and up the hill in a panic as the engine revved so hard I automatically changed into 2nd gear, which killed my momentum stone dead. My time was woeful - 16.20 seconds. However, in doing so I found that you could get impressive wheelspin from the Rover. And it even looked as though it happened on purpose.
You can see some snaps from the challenge below by clicking on the carousel:
For the second run I tried to be savvier, but instead left the marshals laughing hysterically. While the MX-5 and Puma held some style taking on the climb, the Metro offered all the elegance of a drunken clown running across a ploughed field. However, I discovered we had sliced 3 full seconds off our time - courtesy of a surprising burst of extra torque on the redline.
Then, for our final run, things went badly. My clutch was cooked, the biting point shallower than Katie Hopkins - this 3rd attempt could kill it completely. And it did. The smell was enough to curl your nose hairs, but I had set my best time of the day - 13.09 seconds. I was still the slowest, however - by a vast margin.
Yet, it’s not all about the winning, as quoted by most of history’s runners-up. At the end of the day, the little Rover 115 made it to Brooklands and back, completing three runs of the car-killing gradient, on only £15 worth of diesel. I’ll call that a win for the face-lifted Metro. Also, it’s not a Ford Puma.
You can find the full report in the 09 November 2016 issue of Classic Car Weekly - currently on sale throughout the NEC Classic Car Show.