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The earliest reference to a Cotton trials car appears in the 1st December 1950 issue of Autosport where a photograph taken at the Kentish Border Sporting Trial shows Doug Cotton with his own car NPE797

Like most specials of this time it used the combination of an Austin Seven chassis with Ford 10 running gear.

reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOSPORT

By February 1951 Tony Rumfitt was the new owner of NPE797, here is a superb photograph of Doug Cotton, at the Presidents Trophy Trial, regretting having sold it!

reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOSPORT

By February 1952 3 Cottons were in existence, the original Cotton NPE797, Cotton 2- PPH6 went to Tony Rumfitt, Cotton 3- RPD4 to Rex Chappell and later Cotton 4- RPJ3 to Percy Barden, here is a photograph of Rex with Cotton 3 at the Kentish Border Trial.
It is clear from the view of the rear axle that it isn't supported by coil springs or located by a Panhard Rod, the springs would protrude out the end of the chassis rails and attach to the axle providing both suspension and lateral location. Both the rear springs and nearside rear friction damper are identifiable in this photograph

reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOSPORT

reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOSPORT

Rex Chappell had considerable success with Cotton 3, here he is at the High Peak Trial in late 1952, the Ford steel front wheels and large drums can be seen. Note the distinctive single headlight and sidelights mounted almost level with the rear edge of the bonnet. Many specials had single headlights, probably the most well known was Gerry Pentony's car Cyclops!

At the Roy Fedden Trial in November 1952 Rex rolls Cotton 3 on the Castle Coombe hill called Nettleton and his wife breaks her arm, the hill was cancelled. This hill, Breakheart, is now known as Crooked Mustard on the Cotswold Clouds Trial

reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOSPORT

Motor Sport magazine occasionally featured Sporting Trials, Here is a photograph from April 1953 of Rex Chappell in Cotton 3, it is described as Blue in colour and now sports much lighter front brakes and wire wheels from a pre-war Morris Minor.

The Knott Cup trial of October 1954 appears to be possibly the last outing for Rex in Cotton 3, he won a first class award.

reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOSPORT

In total there appears to have been 4 Cottons:-

1950:Cotton in NPE797

1951:Rumfitt in NPE797

1952:Rumfitt in Cotton2 PPH6, Chappell in Cotton3 RPD4, Barden in Cotton4 RPJ3

1953:Roberts in Cotton2 PPH6, Chappell in Cotton3 RPD4, Barden in Cotton4 RPJ3

1954:Roberts in Cotton2 PPH6

1956:Potts in Cotton4 RPJ3

1957:Potts in Cotton4 RPJ3

All the Cottons bar Cotton4 disappear in early 1954, it is possible that these early Cottons, in their original form, fell foul of the specification of the 1953 RAC Trials Formula.

It is a fact that Rex Chappell had Cotton3 rebuilt by Mike Cannon with a new tubular chassis to become the Cannotton, the new chassis shows a strong resemblence to the tubular chassis already used for Cotton4.

Mr Cotton was active in car trials and possibly building specials until the mid 1950's. His original car: NPE797, Cotton2: PPH6 and Cotton3: RPD4 were very similar cars with narrow but tall frontal profiles whereas Cotton4 was built on more modern looking lower profile tubular chassis right from the start. The registration number NPE797 appears in 1952 on Alastair Baring's Dellow so maybe the original Cotton was used as a donor?


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