1963 Hewison Final

Photo: Brian Foley
Stephen Griffin on his way to the 1963 Hewison Trophy win.

This report is reproduced from “Irish Motor & Water Sport”, May 1963.

Story and pictures by Brian Foley

ON Monday, March 18th, eighteen-year-old Stephen Griffin won the Hewison Final by the narrowest of narrow margins from Seamus Griffin, the man who held the Hewison Trophy for the last three years in succession. Steve beat his brother by just two-fifths of at second, and the Griffin Bros. were over ten marks ahead of the third man, Leslie Vard in an Austin-Cooper.

Seamus Griffin carries evidence of the muddy nature of some of the tests on his way to second place.

The Hewison Final was organised by the Royal Irish Automobile Club. Fifteen tests were laid out in two laps of a “dyed course” in the scenic Roundwood area of County Wicklow. The start was at 2.30 p.m. from Ballinastoe Bridge, about three miles North of Roundwood on the main Dublin – Roundwood Road. Despite the fact that a grid reference was given for the starting point in the regulations, several drivers experienced difficulty in finding the start location.

Charlie Gunn drove past the start and followed some red dye which took him to the eighth test, which was the last test on the first lap! When Charlie finally located the start, the official starter had left, and although he drove all the tests, minus an official number, he was excluded from the reckoning. Tom Burke qualified with his Volkswagen but the R.l.A.C. discovered that he had been driving since January without a competition licence and consequently his entry for the Hewison Final was not accepted.

At least two of the fifteen tests were very muddy and one of these had to he scrubbed on the second lap. After receiving the Hewison Trophy in The Wicklow Hills Hotel in Roundwood that evening, Stephen Griffin made a very short and simple speech. His words were: “I would like to thank the
organisers for making the tests suitable for Specials”.

Des Cullen finished fifth in his NSU Prinz 2 with a Prinz 4 engine. He lost out on a possible third place by stalling on one of the tests.

Two Specials filled the first two places, Steve’s 1,172cc G.T.S. and Shay’s 1,172 cc Griffin-Ford. The next six cars were saloons and were Leslie Vard’s Austin-Cooper, Paul O’Flynn’s Austin Seven, Des Cullen’s N.S.U. Prinz 2, Larry Mooney’s Volkswagen, Cecil Vard’s Austin-Cooper and Johnny Moore’s Austin Seven.

Paul O’Flynn put up a particularly praiseworthy performance. His Morris-Cooper had clutch trouble the day before the Hewison and could not he put right in time. Charlie Gunn lent him a second-hand standard Austin Seven from his garage and the Corkman finished fourth, only 3.5 marks behind Leslie Vard. Des Cullen also did well to finish fifth, only four-fifths of a second behind O’Flynn.

Cullen drove a Mark 1 Sprite for most of the season, but was back in an N.S.U. Prinz for the Final. This car is an early type Prinz 2 fitted with one of the more powerful Prinz 4 engines. Cullen was very good in the muddy tests, but he stalled his engine in one test and lost valuable seconds which
may have cost him third place overall.

1963 Trials Champion, had the old points system been used over the season, would have been Johnny Moore. However, he had to settle for eighth place in an Austin-Seven.

Drivers of Volkswagens are finding life increasingly difficult in Irish driving tests, as just one really tight test allowed the more manoeuvrable and smaller Specials and “Mickey Mouse” cars to snatch seconds from their larger rivals. Larry Mooney is the most consistent Volkswageneer and his
sixth place was a highly creditable effort, especially as he was only l.6 marks behind Cullen.

Cecil Vard was not on his usual crack form on March 18th. He dropped from second place last year to seventh this time. Johnny Moore would undoubtedly have won the Hewison Trophy had it been decided on a points system over the number of events throughout the season. For the Hewison Final, Moore was given one of the standard Austin Sevens that Lincoln & Nolan’s are entering in the Circuit of Ireland. He was not at all happy in this car and would surely have been better placed than eighth in his more usual, and more familiar, Austin-Cooper.

T.P.O’Connell was ninth in his VW Special. The engine is in the front and gearbox/diff’ is at the rear. Wheels, suspension and steering are VW.

Once again T.P. O’Connell qualified in his Volkswagen saloon at the last minute. T.P. is one of the best drivers in Ireland but unfortunately he cannot compete in many events as he is busy looking after his garage in Bundoran in far-away Donegal. He created quite a sensation by finishing fifth last year in the Hewison Final, with his front-engined Volkswagen Special. This car was re-bodied and cleaned-up for this year’s Final, but T.P. was possibly over-determined this time and his best effort was ninth.

Peter Jenkins, enthusiastic Hon. Secretary of the Motor Enthusiasts’ Club, drove his G.T.S. with his usual carefree abandon and finished tenth. Noel Smith was eleventh in his N.S.U. Prinz 4, and in twelfth position was Brian Kehoe. Kehoe drove Volkswagens for several years but, a few days before the Hewison, he bought a new Austin-Cooper. Certainly we shall be hearing much more about Kehoe in the near future when he becomes more accustomed to the Cooper.

One peculiar aspect of the Hewison was the number of drivers that were well up all during the season but who dropped out of the running altogether on the Big Day itself. Maybe for the 1963/64 season the R.I.A.C. will revert to the points system for the Hewison Trophy competition. It would certainly he a more popular system, and without wishing in any way to detract from Stephen Griffin’s Hewison Final victory, it would be a much fairer method of deciding the Southern Trials Championship.


  1. S.T.Griffin (Dub.) 1172 G.T.S. 497.4
  2. S.Griffin (Dub.) Griffin-Ford 497.6
  3. L. Vard (Dub.) Austin-Cooper 507.8
  4. P.O’Flynn (Cork) Austin 7 512.3
  5. D.Cullen (Dub.) N.S.U. Prinz 512.7
  6. L.Mooney (Dub.) VW. 514.3
  7. C.Vard (Dub.) Austin-Cooper 515.7
  8. J.S.Moore (Dub.) Austin 7 523.7
  9. T.P.O’Connell (Bi-In.) VW Sp. 529.5
  10. B.P.Jenkins (Dub.) G.T.S. 541.4
  11. N.T.Smith (Gsts.) N.S.U.Prinz 552.1
  12. W.B.Kehoe (Carlow) A-Cooper 554.8
  13. P.O’Callaghan (Kanturk) VW 560.9
  14. J.Fildes (Dub.) MG Midget 563.3
  15. W.D.Bradley (Dub.) NSU Prinz 563.4
  16. R.Redmond(Dub.) M.M.3 563.5
  17. B.Kenna (Dub.) A-Cooper 564.9
  18. M.Ivis (Dub.) A-Cooper 566.1
  19. L.Fitzpatrick (Dub.) MG Midget 567.4
  20. D.Glovcr (Dub.) A.H.Sprite Mk1 577.6
  21. J.Hayes (Dub.) A-Cooper 587.8
  22. D.Sheedy(Tramore) Austin 7 593.7

Club Team Award: M.G. Car Club – S. Griffin & C. Vard (9 points).