Imp National 1993

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Duncombe Park
North Yorkshire
7th/8th August

Yorkshire Area Centre

For the Imp’s 30th birthday the Yorkshire Area Centre put together a full programme for  the weekend with no less than 3 convoys organised for the Saturday:

  • North York Moors Railway
  • City of York
  • Scarborough and the Coast

In addition there was a Treasure Hunt available all weekend which took competitors on a drive of some 40 miles through breathtaking scenery. For those who who wanted to give their Imp a well earned rest, the furthest travelled UK Imp having driven 374 miles and the furthest from abroad 1681 kilometres, there was a Scenic Walk to Rievaulx Abbey through the countryside around Helmsley. Duncombe House was open to visitors on the Sunday so there was certainly something to suit every taste.

Auto jumble was available throughout the weekend and Sunday activities did not disappoint:

  • Autotest
  • Driving Test
  • Wheel Changing Competition
  • Tug-o-war
  • Raffle
  • Concours competition
Frank’s Chrysler Imp – Winner of the Rosemary Smith Trophy

Other Concours Winners

Councours Winners Line-Up

The Now ‘Infamous’ Top Gear Presence

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Imp Tony Mason and a Top Gear film crew covered the event on the Sunday for a slot in the BBC weekly programme. It has to be said that on the whole Imp Club members were less than happy with Tony Mason’s appraisal of the Imp. He can be seen below driving a bright yellow Stiletto in the Autotest.

Tony Mason taking part in the popular grass Autotest

Take a look at Tony Mason’s 4 minute Top Gear ‘slating’ here (you tube link).
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One of the comments from someone at the event:
“I watched him drive up and down the field about 4 times locking the brakes each time for the cameraman. Everybody was wondering what he was doing. I eventually saw the episode and realised he was being a prized **** and trying to do a Clarkson and insult the very people who invited him.”

Shortly afterwards Ed, one of the Club’s members, submitted a follow-up article for Impressions which fought back … 

From one ‘less discerning driver’ to about two-thousand others… 
Yes, I taped Top Gear, played it back again and again and could not believe what I was hearing. If ever there was an feature in a TV programme outrageously biased against the Imp this it. What a shame when a golden opportunity existed to extol the many virtues of the car that the BBC should go out of their way to damn it.
The press of the day referred to the engine as ‘turbine smooth’. The best Mr Mason could say of it was that it came from an old fire pump. Nobody doubts, or is ashamed of, its ancestry but it was always an engine that was acclaimed (both in Imp and earlier Coventry Climax form), even after production ceased, as was the transaxle. The quality of the gearchange was mysteriously absent in Mr Mason’s comments.


Throughout the Imp’s life, reference was continually made in the press to the car’s excellent handling qualities, which we all appreciate I’m sure. Again, the press of the day likened it to the Mini’s — high praise indeed — except for its cross-wind twitchiness. But, oh no, not our chirpy Tony who left the millions of viewers with the impression that handling is on a par with some ‘sixties and ‘seventies from eastern Europe. Then there’s that ultimate in cult cars, the VW Beetle — hardly a paragon of virtue in the handling department.
As if this wasn’t enough the question of the ‘problem ‘ of the engine being mounted on its side. What problem? This installation lowers the centre of gravity and makes most service items easily accessible.
What about the interior space compared to other small cars of the ‘sixties? The comfortable ride, the feeling of solidity, the convenience of the opening back window, the rigidity of the bodyshell, the smoothness of the engine and the excellent safe handling.
As for reliability, yes, of course the Imp has some weaknesses but I have owned Imps as first and second cars since the early ‘seventies and have always maintained them regularly at little cost, and have never suffered a blown head gasket or over-heating on our travels throughout Europe, from the North Cape to Sarajevo.
I for one will continue to appreciate this very individual car — you know, the one that gained Motor’s accolade of being the most underrated car of the ‘sixties. What’s more, I shall continue to form my own opinions of other vehicles on the market rather than be influenced by ill-informed reports by the likes of Top Gear.”

…and finally –

if you want to know more about Imp 30 at Duncombe Park then why not read the November 1993 Impressions magazine? To obtain back issues (subject to availability) please contact Membership Secretary/Back Issues via the Committee Contacts Page. The following articles appear in the November 1993 edition:
as well as the

Many thanks to those members who have provided photos and information about this and other Nationals – without you these pages would not exist.