trial Report 750 Motor Club Historic Plum Pudding
Many local members will know Dean Yarranton , the MOT man down at Yarranton’s of Eardiston. Working out of a cold and draughty workshop that had served as an aircraft shelter during the first World War, Dean would be your go to man if you had an old classic car that needed an MOT . You would get a sympathetic but fair test and a genuine interest taken in your vehicle and, as a result , people travelled for miles just to have their MOT done by Dean!
His interest in both cars and motorbikes began at an early age and I think he was about ten years old when he blew all his pocket money on an old James motorcycle to thrash around the orchard. That was the beginning of a never ending obsession with buying and selling (sometimes quite interesting) bikes and cars but all too often more buying than selling. Yes, it’s true, Dean had started hoarding!
Dean’s dad, Les, had been a very competitive rally driver in the fifties, driving a Morgan for the Worcester Motor Club team, so it was inevitable that Dean would follow his footsteps into the world of motorsport. He started out in schoolboy motorbike trials and then later competed in 4x4 trials with the All Wheel Drive Club, who during the eighties had a strong following in this area. He always preferred the technical nature of trials rather than speed events and would often switch between two and four wheels before eventually settling on classic trials with the MAC in a class eight special named Goose.
Then, one day, Dean bought an old Cannon trials car. He had gone with the intention of buying a motorbike but in the corner of the shed was this rather sad looking old Cannon. At that time an old Cannon was nothing more than an out of date and uncompetitive old trials car and quite frankly, pretty worthless too. But Dean just liked things like that, so it came home with him.
The previous owner had mentioned something about swapping the car for a piano when he bought it and this story rang a bell with Dean who had begun to realise what he had just bought. When he found a dealer’s sticker on the rear of the car and the remains of some gold coloured paint underneath the current red livery, he knew that he had bought a very well known car. Dean made contact with Eric Jackson who confirmed that this was indeed Goldfinger, his former championship winning car!
I don’t know if Dean had any real plans for Goldfinger when he bought it but in the meantime, the HSTA had been formed with the intention of getting some of these old sidevalve trials cars out competing once more. He began to prepare Goldfinger for its’s first outing in thirty years.. unseizing the engine and coaxing the old thing back to life again.
However, Dean never managed to compete in that first HSTA event. While preparing Goldfinger down at Yarranton’s garage one evening, he suffered a stroke and his life would never be the same again.
The severity of Dean’s stroke meant that driving in trials was no longer really an option and in addition to that he found that merely spectating had now become very frustrating. The popularity of the HSTA events and a shortage of cars led to Dean’s wife Sue getting constant phonecalls from people trying to buy Goldfinger but Sue was adamant that Goldfinger was not for sale!! Somehow, Sue decided, both Goldfinger and Dean would have to compete once more!
Almost exactly five years after Dean’s stroke we entered a HSTA trial near Wotton under Edge. Dean would bounce and I would do the driving.. Well, what a day that was! Despite persistent rain the old Cannon went well, showing some considerable promise and clearing a number of sections. The best bit of the day, though, was the permanent smile on Dean’s face. “Best day ever” he said.
After the success of that event we entered a few more trials but the fact that the car was basically something that had been coaxed out of a thirty year slumber and had not in any way been rebuilt or restored began to show. I don’t think we finished a single event! It ended the season with no brakes, a bent front axle and knocking engine. An engine rebuild was now needed before we could compete again but this would not be a cheap exercise. Dean was no longer working and Sue had given up work to become his full time carer. Money was tight and Goldfinger would have to wait.
Almost three years passed and Goldfinger ‘s engine was still untouched. We really needed to do something as Dean had very much enjoyed our season of trialling despite all the problems. So Sue contacted Car SOS, not really expecting any sort of reply, but reply they did! After that things happened very quickly, Dean was packed off to college for the day and the car was sneakily collected from the back of Yarranton’s garage. Work would begin that very evening!
Just two weeks later Sue and I were invited to the Car SOS workshop to inspect the progress. Again, Dean was despatched for the day, this time with great friend Phil Jones who took him to look at some tractors. We were rather concerned when we found ourselves inspecting a bare chassis and some fresh body panels. I’m not really sure what we had expected to see but now we were quite worried that Dean might not like losing the original bodywork, the battlescars and all that history. The day of the big reveal could easily go so very wrong.
Shelsley was an easy choice for the big reveal and it was decided that Classic Car Weekly magazine would do a feature on the HSTA and their events. A large number of historic trials cars would be invited and some sections marked out in the orchard for them to drive. As well as all this, Dean was to be reunited with Goldfinger.
I was given the task of collecting Dean and bringing him down to Shelsley, I took with me another old friend, Dan Burlingham as reinforcement. The three of us had met at St Michael’s College, Tenbury as small boys nearly fifty years ago! We often visit Shelsley together so the task of coaxing him out of the house did not seem like anything untoward. Even so, Dean had initially thought we were going to a farm sale!
With that first hurdle out of the way we did now at least have Dean on site and I had been instructed to steer him towards the centre of the pits area where Fuzz was conducting an interview with one of the owners in front of his car. Immediately, Dean recognized Fuzz. “ Drummer” he said and I thought then that he must surely have realised what was going on.
Fuzz turned to us and started chatting. He suggested that we could have a ride in one of the cars but first we must sign a disclaimer in the office. We followed him to the office, chatting as we went. I’m told that we were secretly being filmed the whole time. We then returned to find that the car that we were to take a ride in was now under wraps. I stepped back to allow Tim Shaw to appear out of nowhere. Dean looked around and said “Oh no!” as he suddenly realised what was actually going on. The wraps came off to reveal a beautifully restored Goldfinger, finished only hours before!
I think Dean’s permanent grin said it all, he had suspected nothing all along and was absolutely delighted with the outcome. A large group of friends and family had turned up for the reveal to show support for their old friend who has suffered so much over the last few years. What Car SOS have done for Dean and for so many others is really wonderful and has made him so happy. They have done for Dean a job that he would previously have loved to have done himself but is now incapable of doing. He is very proud of Goldfinger. What a wonderful, happy day! Thank you Tim and Fuzz and the great team at Car SOS!
Please Dean, can we take it trialling now?!
By: Ifan Davies
trial Report 750 Motor Club Historic Plum Pudding