56 Teams Battle For The 1958 Alpine Cup: Coupe Des Alpes!

Illustration for article titled 56 Teams Battle For The 1958 Alpine Cup: Coupe Des Alpes!

An Alfa Giuletta duking it out with a Volvo 544 on a 2,450-mile race across the Alps in 1958? Well, sometimes there are more important things than slaving for The Man on a Monday afternoon!

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Yes, you're looking at a total of 34 minutes of vintage rally action below, in a vintage Shell documentary put up on YouTube courtesy of this kind soul. We don't want to spoil things for anyone, but you'll be awed by the parade of race cars that go past the starting line (about 2:20 into the Part 1), and it just gets better from there. The usual Alfa Romeo and Porsche suspects are there, of course, but fans of British and French machinery won't be disappointed. Thanks to Scroggzilla for hipping us to this super-addictive find!

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DISCUSSION

I'm lucky enough to have recently purchased "The Rootes Maestros" by Graham Robson. In this book, Robson (who was on the Rootes rally team in the early '60s, finishing 4th in the '62 Monte Carlo Rally) chronicles the exploits of the Rootes Group's Competitions Department from its formation around 1950 until its demise when Chrysler took over. I highly recommend it to other vintage racing and rally enthusiasts as well as anyone who owns a Rootes Group car.

According to Robson, the 1958 Alpine was incredibly punishing, with higher required average speeds than earlier rallies. Oh, and most of the roads (including the Stelvio Pass) were still open to normal traffic when the rally cars were flying through. We saw some of the carnage in the film, but even the top finishers had trouble with their cars. Peter Harper and Peter Jopp had brake trouble in their Sunbeam Rapier— we also saw Jopp forget to leave the handbrake on at one point in the film— but due to time restrictions, they had to change two brake shoes at four consecutive stops. Later, the overdrive started acting up, so Harper cut holes in the floor so that he could smack the solenoid with the jack handle when he needed to engage the o/d.