A tribute to Paddy Hopkirk

Tony Pounder, writes:

Paddy Hopkirk MBE 1933 - 2022

I was very sad to learn of the recent passing of Paddy Hopkirk MBE (21st July 2022).

My thoughts are with his family and friends.

While he is rightly remembered for his many successes in the all-conquering Mini; not many people know that his first Works Drive was in a Standard 10 on the 1956 RAC Rally. A strong start - at one point he was leading the Rally - was undone by a holed sump relegating him to “finisher”.

Paddy charging up Prescott Hill in the 1956 RAC Rally

Two months later, he finished third overall in the 1956 Tulip Rally, driving an unmodified Standard 8. This enabled Standard to carry off the Manufacturers Team prize!

Because of the Suez Crisis, the 1956 Tulip Rally had been handicapped in favour of cars with smaller engines, (for example a TR3 had an hour added to its start time). Notwithstanding this, the organisers were so astonished by the performance of the Standard 8s (finishing second, third, fourth and fifth overall) that they demanded an immediate engine strip down and inspection. They found no unsporting behaviour as the superb results had been achieved through meticulous planning and support.

Paddy’s Standard 8 on the 1956 Tulip Rally

As a Standard Triumph Works driver, he achieved good results in the Tulip, Alpine and Midnight Sun Rallies in various Triumph TR3/3As as well as an overall win on the Circuit of Ireland Rally.

At the request of the Swedish Distributor, Standard Triumph entered three Standard 8s (badged “Vanguard Junior”) in the 1957 Midnight Sun Rally held in Sweden. The Rally was more akin to a modern gravel Stage rally and the poor unmodified Standard 8s were hopelessly outclassed. Paddy did well to finish twenty-second overall.

Paddy’s Vanguard Junior on the 1957 Midnight Sun Rally

Once again Standard won the Manufacturers Team prize in the 1958 RAC Rally following an epic drive by Paddy in a Standard Pennant.

Just outside the Scottish town of Kelso, Paddy realized that his noisy back axle was likely to fail in the harsh conditions. Calling in at the Standard Triumph Dealership, Tweedsmuir Motors, he successfully persuaded them to swap an axle from a Standard 10 in their showroom! The job took just over an hour keeping him in the rally. The drama didn’t end there. As he approached Hastings Paddy’s windscreen smashed! Gritting his teeth, Paddy finished his drive without any protection in the depths of a British winter!

Paddy’s Standard Pennant on the 1958 RAC Rally. Note the missing windscreen! This car has survived and is being restored from near derelict condition

Paddy’s career as a Standard Triumph Works driver ended abruptly in 1958 when he was dismissed for trashing his TR3a in that year’s Alpine Rally. Driving flat out up a mountain pass with only three inflated tyres will do that!

He remained loyal to the marque, at one point his business ran several Standard Vans.

One of Paddy's Standard delivery vans

One marque Paddy also helped promote, of course, was the Austin Mini, and in the Cooper version, he won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. In 2021, under its current guise in BMW ownership, a special Paddy Hopkirk Edition was launched, with one being delivered to his home to join the original car. This image and opening portrait credit: bmwblog.com

In 202INE OF COPYOne of Pa

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