Sports Prototype Action

It was worth paying the admission fee at Gurston Down over the weekend just to see the release from hibernation of one of the most exciting cars that has ever been seen on the British Hills.

Stephen Cunningham SPA-Judd

Steve Cunningham warms the tyres for his first V8 run on the hills


Here at we have always loved big-banger sportscars, whether on the hills or on the circuits… Can Am, Interseries, Group C and even the 5.5 litre LMP1 cars of the past 10 years are all fantastic, full-bodied monsters with more grunt than grip.

The SPA-Judd certainly fits that bill!

As reported here a couple of weeks ago, Steve Cunningham purchased the car from Chris Cannell earlier this year and entered Gurston along with co-driver Tom Brown to give the car a proper run out.

It was great to see the big beasty out again, and it showed that it has lost none of it performance since it was last exercised. The engine is an ex. F1 3.5 litre Judd CV V8, similar to the engine used by Williams, Ligier and Leyton House March back in 1988. Although most of the Judd V8s we see on the hills have either been enlarged to 4-litre or at least run on softer cams in order to give more torque and drivability, this particular CV is still on full F1 cams which gives it some slightly wild power characteristics!


Former owner Cannell told us that “the car is savage, it is on full F1 cams and will only pull between 8 and 11 thousand RPM. Below 8 it just coughs and splutters, but above 8 it is just awesome”

The engine certainly did struggle at lower revs, but Tom & Steve soon learned to kick it hard and keep it revving, but it sure did look a handful at times. After his first day’s running Tom said “it is a mega car, down the hill off of the start it spins its wheels up in 3rd gear, and that’s at over 100mph!”


SPA-Judd Stephen Cunningham

The Judd engine is tricky to get off of the line, but it has serious grunt!


Several paddock observers were suggesting that new cams, timing and some modern electronics would make the car a more competitive proposition, but thankfully it seems as though this is unlikely to happen in the short-term, Tom’s opinion was “the car is a beast, and always has been, why would you soften it? It just wouldn’t be right.”

With no disrespect to Steve, who despite a lot of experience on the circuits, doesn’t have the hillclimb experience of his co-driver, Tom really got to grips with the car very quickly and by Sunday was absolutely ‘lamping’ it! The sight of the car laying black lines out of Ashes Bend and the sound of it screaming over Burkes Rise towards the finish at 120mph was just mega.


Thanks for bringing the car out to play guys, we cannot wait to see it at Barbon and Harewood in a few weeks.

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