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The record breaking Triumph TR2, MVC575 returned to the hallowed Belgian town of Jabbeke last weekend to be reunited with the highway on which it broke the land speed record for a two litre production car at just short of 125mph.
On Saturday 20th May 2017, exactly sixty - four years ago to the very day since the successful world record achievement, the Triumph TR2 lead a procession of Triumph TR sportscars from De Haan, where the Ibis Hotel was used as a base for evening receptions, through the Belgian countryside and highways to the town of Jabbeke.
Although the exact highway is no longer there, (save for a small stretch that now makes up a service station slip road) the adjacent main roads and dual carriageways are still very much like the old highway would have been in the 1950s.
Belgium began work on their first Autoroute, the A10 through Jabbeke in 1937 but the onset of World War 2 stopped progress. Hitler's army to prepare it for carrying arms to Ostend for the planned invasion of Great Britain undertook some preparatory work but it wasn't until after the war that work really resumed fully. The stretch of Belgium's first motorway, by the Flanders town of Jabbeke was a gift to world record attempts due its tantalising 8-mile long straight that was also completely flat. Furthermore, the only junctions on the route were crossovers that could easily be closed by Police, there was very little to hit as the central reservation was a simple grass strip and there was a great diplomatic friendship between the Royal Automobile Club in the UK and the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium who could smooth the way with the local authorities for such endeavors.
Today the road has been absorbed into the pan-European E40 highway where modern traffic conditions make it virtually impossible to re-enact the record attempt safely. Today, unlike 1953, the road regularly see's tailbacks and congestion from traffic travelling to the coast from nearby Ostend, Bruges, Ghent and Brussels sixty five miles away.
Upon arrival at Jabbeke, the car was joined by over thirty TRs from the TR Register car club, representing all eras of the TR marque to recognise the vast and varied range of sports cars that the record attempt paved the way for. Thanks to the land speed record TR2 MVC575, the Triumph marque shot to a level of fame that was to ensure its success and reputation as a reliable and rugged sports car for over thirty years.
In front of large numbers of the general public and local dignitaries MVC 575 and its owner/restorer Glen Hewitt posed for photographs and interviews before heading out once again onto the roads around Jabbeke in scenes reminiscent of the press attention the car drew on 20th May 1953. The day could not have been more perfect, with wall to wall sunshine and an extremely warm welcome from the local community Glen Hewett was able to realise his ultimate ambition to return the car to the area of Belgium where it achieved such fame.
"To be back in the town where this little British sports car made motoring history was amazing. It was a wonderful event to be involved in, especially with all the other TRs that turned out to celebrate the car - fantastic! It had made the grueling 14-month restoration all worthwhile" Glen Hewitt of Protek Engineering who owns and restored the car explained at the event.
A special thanks to Luc Mahieu of the TR Register UK for organising the event and to Chiltern group of the TR Register for their unwavering support. Finally a massive thanks to Glen Hewitt for making the car available for such momentous occasion.