Stuart Harrold, in T6b/06, leaves the Bull Banks 1 restart
during the 2007 Cotswold Clouds Trial
Photograph by Dave Cook
A brief history of the Troll T6 – by David Alderson
Purpose designed and built as a competition sports car with ‘Classic Trials’ application foremost in mind, the Troll T6 model is the nineteen-eighties/nineties equivalent of the earlier post WW2 Dellow or even perhaps the pre WW2 MG PB Midget. The Troll T6 is the brainchild of successful Classic Trials driver, Peter James, a formally trained aeronautical engineer and practicing silversmith.
James’ T6 design, a development of his earlier T4 model, features a fully triangulated brazed small section box and round tube steel space frame chassis with semi-stressed floor and bulkhead panels. The front suspension is provided by unequal length tubular wishbones incorporating laterally angled coil-spring damper units. Steering is by rack and pinion provided by an Escort ‘quick’ rack. A modified Ford Escort live axle tube suspended on vertical coil-spring damper units located by unequal length twin trailing arms and a lateral Panhard rod thus creating the classic five-link rear axle location, provides rear suspension. Rose jointed linkages provide very positive location and the complete suspension system provides adequate articulation for trials usage whilst at the same time incorporating anti-squat/anti-dive characteristics making the car handle very well at high speed on loose or tarmac surfaces.
A Ford Kent cross-flow engine normally bored out to 1700cc and suitably modified for trials use provides motive power. The gearbox is also a Ford unit; normally the 2000E three-rail type providing four forward gears and a non-detent selected reverse gear. The braking system comprises nine inch front discs coupled with ten inch rear drums, a split hydraulic circuit allows the fitting of an outside hydraulic fly-off handbrake for use on section re-starts and timed tie deciding tests.
The Troll T6 is designed to run on fifteen-inch diameter central knock-off wire wheels and carries two spare wheels on a rear-mounted carrier. The bodywork is of riveted aluminium flat and single curvature panels with a moulded glass-fibre combined bonnet/nose section and cycle style wings. The fuel tank is mounted externally across the rear of the bodywork. In classic trials trim a Troll T6 tips the scales at circa 550kg and with a power output normally in excess of 110 bhp (subject to state of engine tune) provides a very handy power to weight ratio for serious hill climbing and timed tests.
In a production run spanning 1986 to 1995 a total of nineteen Troll T6 models were manufactured by Troll Engineering Ltd (a company jointly established by Peter James and Jim Templeton) at their Minehead factory, although at least four of these cars were actually supplied in component form and assembled by their owners.
In the twenty-two year history of the ACTC classic trials championships, Troll T6 drivers have taken the premier ‘Wheelspin Trophy’ championship on five occasions. Chris Reeson 1987, Tim Pearce 1993, Mike Chatwin 1995, David Alderson 1996, and Paul Bartlemen 2004. Between them Troll T6 drivers have secured numerous outright ACTC one day trial wins and MCC long distance trial premier awards over the past twenty years. With its purposeful, well-proportioned appearance and impressive performance both on road and on the trials sections, the Troll T6 captures the spirit of the leading cars of earlier periods in classic trialling history. Peter James designed and produced a car that has proved to be a worthy stable mate to the MG PB Midget, the Allard, and the Dellow. That is the brief he set for himself with the Troll T6, not an out and out freak trials machine, a competition sports car in the tradition of Classic Trials.
Origin of the name: Peter James is descended from Norwegian stock on his mothers side, his mother and father, a Minehead man, met and married in Minehead in 1952 but moved back to his mother’s native Lillehammer where Peter was educated until the age of seven. The family subsequently returning to Minehead. Peter’s Norwegian grandfather had many business interests including a bicycle factory where his two-wheeled product was manufactured and marketed under the name of Troll. In Norwegian legend a Troll is a type of goblin normally found high in the mountains. What better name could Peter have chosen for his charismatic snapping, snarling little goblin trials cars?
The Troll T6 Register
I am truly grateful to David Alderson, and the late Peter James, for providing me with the original information which kicked-off this list of all 19 (or is it 20? or …?) Troll T6s. Their information has been updated over time, as cars have changed hands and more history has been discovered. But if there are any errors, or you have any more information, do please let me know. All the cars (except one – see below) are, as far as we are aware, still running the Ford ‘Kent’ cross-flow engines and most are 1700cc (the original T6 “standard spec”), unless noted below. Cars with registrations in red have been seen in competition in recent years. In November 2018 all cars were shown on the DVLA website as currently registered except for those noted as ‘SORN’ below.
|T6/0P||–||–||Anonymous||Previous owner(s): 1. Paul Miller (to July 2012). 2. Tim Smith (to Spring 2016). 3. Mike Ellis (to August 2017). Although T6/01 and T6/02 were always regarded as the prototypes there was a further early T6 “development” chassis with Triumph Herald front suspension. It was never completed, nor given a chassis plate, before being sold to Paul Miller. When Tim Smith bought the chassis, Peter James confirmed that he would issue an official chassis number (T6/0P) when the car had been completed. (Information updated July 2019).|
|T6/01||944 PYA||Red||Mike Briggs||Previous owner(s): 1. Chris Reeson. 2. Mike Chatwin (to September 2017).|
|Powder blue||Tristan White||Previous owner(s): Anne Templeton (to November 2008). This car, bought by Anne from new, was the car used in the original artwork for Troll publicity.|
|T6b/03||Q 74 HAC||Yellow||Bob and Terry Hart||Previous owner(s): 1. Cyril Charlesworth. 2.Ian Cummings, Cyril’s grandson (to December 2012). Originally registered YYD 990. 1600cc.|
|T6b/04||677 TKN||Red||Russell Clarke||Previous owner(s): 1. Brian Bradshaw. 2. Peter Dicker. 3. Brian Bradshaw (again). 4. Keith Hodges. 5. Robert Gegg.|
|T6b/05||BHU 427 A||White (Blue stripes)||George Davey||Previous owner(s): Jim Templeton. Believed now re-engined, although I’ve heard different stories from different sources. Can anyone cast any more light on this? (Information updated July 2019).|
|T6b/06||UWP 122||Blue||Bill Moffat||Previous owner(s): 1. Phil Winnell. 2. Stuart Harrold (to March 2011). Originally sold as a kit.|
|T6c/07||JOD 980||Green||Jim Davidson||Previous owner(s): Peter James. Regarded as the ‘works’ trials car, it was advertised for sale in December 2018 for ‘Offers over £20k’. It has been entered in MCC events only in 2019.|
|T6d/08||PCJ 273 R
|Red||Mark Milne||Previous owner(s): 1. Chris Reeson. 2. Alan Wood. 3. Danny Nelson. 4. Paul Anderton. This is the “Sprint” car.|
|T6e/09||Q 435 NTM
|White||David Thompson||Previous owner(s): David Alderson. Sold as a kit.|
|T6e/10||HY 1177||Blue (Silver wings)||Nigel Moss||Previous owner(s): Tim Pearce. Originally registered 112 XAE.|
|T6e/11||BHT 948 A
|Cream (Brown wings)||Paul Bartleman||Previous owner(s): Derek Pearce. 1600cc.|
|T6e/12||KHT 778 E||Green (Yellow wings)||Jeremy Slatter||Previous owner(s): 1. Keith Hodges. 2. Ian Moss. 3. Ben Dyer. 4. Rob Wells (to March 2008), Martyn Halliday (to Autumn 2009). The Top Gear car.|
|T6e/13||PNM 707 J||White||Simon Groves||Originally sold to John Groves as a kit it was registered, but unfinished, for a number of years before passing to son Simon who completed the build. The car had its first competitive outing at a Camel Vale PCT in May 2011. 1600cc.|
|T6e/14||TVM 402 K||Green||Arthur Barnish||Never used for trials.|
|–||Previous owner(s): Ian Williamson. Damaged beyond repair in a road accident and mechanical components transferred to T6g/18.|
|T6e/16||279 TPD||Green||Peter Glasson||Out of competition for many years, it was entered by Stephen Glasson in the 2010 Lands End Trial and has been seen in a number of events since.|
|T6e/17||TSR 261 J||Blue||The Selwood Family||Previous owner(s): Lee and Danni Dove (to early 2019). Competed in classic trials from 1995 to 2001, including winning the MCC team award (year ???) in a team with Peter James and David Alderson. It was then used for hillclimbs and PCTs from 2001 onwards. Originally sold as a kit. (Information updated June 2019)|
|–||Incorporated the mechanical components from T6e/15 in a new chassis. Originally painted blue.
Previous owner(s): 1. Bill Faulkner (to March 2013). 2. Mark Endley (to April 2015). The car was damaged beyond repair in a road accident and was a Cat.A. ‘write-off’.
|T6f/19||–||–||–||The “Spare Sprint” chassis. Never completed as a trials car. The first “Sprint” car, T6d/08, was quite similar to the other T6s but T6f/19 was significantly different. It was only given a T6 number because Peter didn’t want to use T7 – see below.|
|T6g/20?||–||–||–||An urban myth persisted for some years that there was at least one further completed T6 chassis in existence, although its whereabouts were a closely-guarded secret. All was revealed in April 2011 when an advert appeared on the Classical Gas web forum. See below.|
Jim Templeton driving, passengered by Peter James, in Troll T6/02 YMV 350
crossing the ford at Crackington on an unidentified MCC Lands End Trial.
The Troll T6 – the story continues …
The advert above appeared on the Classical Gas web forum in April 2011. When Peter James decided to stop producing the Troll T6, he agreed that more could be produced on license. The license passed through at least one other party before ending up with Mark Milne and Chris Hodgson in 2007 or thereabouts. They inherited at least one completed chassis, made by Arch Motors, from the previous licensee and this is the one advertised.
The terms of Peter’s license were very strict regarding specification and build quality to ensure, as he said at the time, that “the reputation of Troll cars is not diminished by poor build quality and non standard construction”. Each chassis had a stamp but the agreement was that Peter would not issue an official chassis number, maker’s plate, or cast Troll bonnet badge until the car had been completed, inspected, and registered for road use. This means that no one is quite sure whether a completed car, never inspected by Peter, can ever be a genuine Troll.
Update: June 2016. Mark informs me that he still has the “panelled” chassis, as advertised above, four (?) other painted, un-panelled, chassis, and nose cones, wings, and some other bits. All the jigs, tooling, and drawings, went back to Peter James’ widow when the licence to manufacture was returned.
Update: July 2019. Mike Ellis tells me that he has bought one of these chassis, together with some of the parts which would have been included in the ‘kit’ for the few cars sold for construction by their owners. Mike is now on the search for the (many) other parts needed to complete the car.
The Troll T6 in the motoring media
- David Alderson’s 1988 article for Motor Sport.
- Review of T6d/08 and T6e/10 in ‘Kit Car’ for January 1991 – thanks to Mike Ellis.
- Review of T6c/07 in ‘Kit Car’ for March 1993 – thanks to Mike Ellis.
- Top Gear 1992 (Season 15 Episode 2). Tony Mason drives T6e/12.
Peter James drives the T4, JOD 980, up Norman’s Hump (we think) on an Exeter Trial
sometime in the late 1980s. With thanks to Mark Milne for providing the photograph.
During the course of creating the above Register I received a lot of other correspondence from Peter and David. These are just a few of the choicest nuggets:
- T1 : An Austin Seven chassis, never completed.
- T2 : A box-section chassis with MG J2 axles, never completed.
- T3 : An Austin Seven chassis with a 1098cc engine, now broken up.
- T4 : (Information updated January 2019). The first of the space-frame cars and subject to continual development (T4 to T4c). It started with a 1275cc MG engine, eventually ending-up with a supercharged 1380cc MG engine, Ford gearbox, and Ford back axle, in which state it was a multiple MCC trial winner. It was then sold to Chris Reeson, and fitted with a normally-aspirated 1275cc MG engine, but then re-acquired by Peter who intended to restore it with the correct supercharged 1380cc engine. It carried the JOD 980 registration before this was transferred to T6c/07. The remaining components of the car were sold, during 2014, to Kim Dear who is slowing acquiring the missing parts with the intention of restoring the car to the road in as close to its original specification as practical.
- T5 : (Information updated June 2016). Again a space-frame car, but with Triumph Spitfire-based front suspension and a 1275cc BMC transverse engine/gearbox at the rear, the gearbox being the car’s “Achilles’ Heel”. The engine/ gearbox was replaced with a 1430cc Peugeot 104 unit by Brian Cope, and the car renamed as the Peugeot Shuttle, in which form it was a highly-effective Class 8 Special for some years. The redesign caused quite a lot of acrimony between Peter and Brian, resulting in Peter telling Brian that the car should never, ever, be referred to again as a Troll. Brian sold the car on to the Painter family in the mid 1990s; it was advertised for sale on eBay in early April 2011, at a Buy Now price of £5800; and it is now owned by John Plant.
- T6 : See the Register above.
- T7 : This type number was never used because Peter didn’t want any confusion that his car was yet another Lotus/Catherham clone.
- T8 : To be used if T6f/19 had ever gone into production.
- T9 to T12 : Used for various one-off projects.
and … in March 2011 Robert Grounds published a load of photographs of Trolls, some taken as early as 1987. Magic stuff.
Page updated : 8 July 2019