Riverside Museum

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Rosemary Smith, the Hillman Imp and the Monte Carlo Rally

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Great news. Next year’s Monte Carlo Rally will kick off from Glasgow’s Blythswood Square as part of the race’s centenary celebrations. Glasgow might seem an unlikely starting point for one of the world’s most glamorous rallies, but the city was among the original line-up for the first Monte Carlo Rally in 1911. The tradition was revived in the 1960s and 70s, when Glasgow was again one of the endurance race’s starting points.  

One of the most renowned Monte Carlo Rally drivers is Rosemary Smith, who triumphed in numerous races in her Imp Sunbeam, the racing variant of the Linwood-produced Hillman Imp. In 1966, Smith won the ladies’ Monte but was later disqualified in a controversial decision that many people claimed was unfair. Glasgow Museums has in its collection several photos of Smith racing her Imp as well as photos of Provost Jean Roberts starting the Monte Carlo race from the RAC Club on Blythswood Square in 1961. Below’s a dramatic shot of Smith and her navigator Margaret Downey. We think it’s from 1971.

Glasgow Museums’ collection is also fortunate to have the very first Imp to roll off the Rootes factory production line. You’ll be able to see Imp 1 in its new home at Riverside Museum after it opens in spring next year.

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Written by Colin Campbell

October 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

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