Swift caravans scooped the team award at the 1976 Caravan Club International Road Rally using Triumph tow cars, despite Peter Smith’s outfit being pushed to the limit on the track tests.
Smith hit a spot of bother when one of the caravan wheels parted from the road, yet the only damage was a burst tyre. However, he still obtained the joint fastest time for the track event along with professional rally driver Tony Pond. Taking the Esso Challenge Cup for best team performance, Swift caravans of Cottingham near Hull were able to confidently advertise their vans as having ‘proven reliability road holding and towability’.
Peter Smith’s caravan rallying skills were a result of both working for Swift, a business set up by his father, and an involvement in car rallying competitions. Taking part in the Caravan Road Rallies seemed a natural progression for him. However, he did not reach instant success burning out the clutch on his Ford Escort while climbing hills on his first attempt at the rally.
When asked about the rules of the competition Smith explained how competitors pushed them as far as possible in order to keep weights down. When asked to prove that the van was equipped with a toilet and food supplies he produced a shovel and tin of beans.
Although the events were an excellent publicity opportunity for the roadworthiness of Swift caravans, Smith commented that this was not the main draw for competing. The enjoyment of the rally and the social aspect behind the scenes was his main reason for taking part.
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