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Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

The Sylva Fury

Mr Sylva Home

The Sylva is my favourite car. He may be a little battle-scarred, and he may well have a good few chips and war wounds, but he is still the best car I have.

The Sylva was one of those rare surprises that happen only once in a Blue Moon: - I received a phone call from a guy named Tony who said 'I understand you're buying my car'. That was news to me, especially as I had no money to buy a car and had no idea who he was or what he was talking about!

Tony who?

It turned out he'd been speaking with a couple of friends of mine, who'd decided that I had been out of motorsport for too long and so it was time I got back into it. They'd decided to organise me a car, tell the bloke who was selling it that I was going to buy it and give him my number. Amazing! I told him I couldn't possibly afford it and I would come down 'only for a look' but I wouldn't be buying it. Yeah right. One drive and I was hooked. Plastic cars and standard engines will always be so much quicker than anything you would normally drive. I was hooked alright. And so it was only a week later I was collecting it and driving it back home.

Mr Sylva first photo

I bought the Sylva Fury in 1993, as a one-year old ex-demonstrator. It's very easy to be impressed by a lightweight car with a standard engine, as the performance is always going to be much better than anything you'd get in any normal metal car.


There was a fair bit to do to prepare it for racing, but a few weeks hard work at evenings and weekends saw me ready for the 1994 season at Kirkistown, Northern Ireland, in the Roadsports category. I particularly like the philosophy of Roadsports, where all the cars have to be taxed, insured and MOT'd, and you drive to the circuit, race, and then, God willing, drive it home again. Plus it means you have a cool car to drive during the Summer when the weather is beautiful.

Early days and finding my feet

It's absolutely true that I found the early days quite difficult, as driving a car on the circuits is very different indeed to either rallying or road use. Everything has to be on the limit, acceleration, braking, turn-in and power on, and all done with up to a couple of dozen other cars all around you, from the start to the finish. But the rush is always there, and I couldn't believe how quick everyone else was. I was so far behind I just thought I'd made the biggest mistake of my competitive career.

Mr Sylva races

But, as with all things, learning takes time. I suppose I'd just approached it with the typical attitude of 'How hard can it be?' and the truth was much harder than I expected. I couldn't believe how late everyone else braked, and how late they turned in, how early they were on the power, and how quickly they went through the corners. Every time I tried any of that I spun. And oh boy I spun lots of times. To the extent that I had a personal invitation to see the Clerk of the Course afterwards, who very kindly suggested I took part in a practice day, to find my feet a bit. Sound advice, as it happens, but a little unfortunate for the Sylva.

It was on the practice Friday that I found the limits of my ability as I went through Debtor's Dip at around 95mph. I was sure I could go through at that speed, but I had a lot to learn, and went off backwards through the fence. I was surprised I couldn't make the turn, but confused why I went off on the inside of the bend. That bit didn't add up, but my friend Kieron explained it as simply 'A great example of a wonderful lack of talent'.

Cruel, but fair.

It's fair to say that the next year or so was a very interesting learning curve, as I started to understand the various strengths and weaknesses of both me and the car.

And the rest, as they say, is history....

Tosh Sig

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