Rally ace over­comes can­cer be­fore ready­ing his clas­sic Volk­swa­gen for a sea­son of Euro­pean ral­ly­ing

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - John Lakey

Rally prepa­ra­tion leg­end, Wal­ter Ainsworth, who re­cently suc­cess­fully beat can­cer, is pre­par­ing for a sea­son of ral­ly­ing in a 1981 Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI pre­pared by the stars of a clas­sic car TV show.

In his younger days, Wal­ter built cars for rally greats such as Rauno Aal­to­nen and Timo Salo­nen while work­ing as an en­gi­neer for Nis­san and Volk­swa­gen.

Wal­ter had orig­i­nally in­tended to build an ex­act replica of the iconic ‘Pier­burg Golf’ ( VW’s first of­fi­cial works rally ve­hi­cle) but in­stead had to un­dergo ex­tremely painful and de­bil­i­tat­ing ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment for mul­ti­ple myeloma can­cer.

Mean­while, stars of Chan­nel 4’s clas­sic car se­ries For The Love

of Cars, Ant An­stead and Philip Glenis­ter, fin­ished the build, then sold the car at auc­tion for Wal­ter at the Au­tosport Show in 2014.

It was sub­se­quently bid on in se­cret and ul­ti­mately bought by John Nixon, fa­ther of Wal­ter’s part­ner Lor­raine. Shortly after, it was pre­sented back to Wal­ter on TV as a sur­prise.

For­tu­nately, the treat­ment has left Wal­ter in re­mis­sion and able to man­age the dis­ease, although he is not cured com­pletely. Wal­ter tells CCW: ‘I re­ally wouldn’t wish it on my worst en­emy. It was ex­tremely painful, but they re­ally do know what they’re do­ing at Christie can­cer hospi­tal in Manch­ester and I’ve got noth­ing but heart­felt praise and thanks for the NHS.’

The car is cur­rently back at Ant An­stead’s Evanta Mo­tors work­shop be­ing read­ied for a par­tial re­paint in prepa­ra­tion for a full sea­son of Euro­pean his­toric rally com­pe­ti­tion later this year. Lor­raine, who is her­self a past Bri­tish Cham­pion rally co-driver, will be join­ing him.

Wal­ter Ainsworth’s Golf GTI will be see­ing plenty of rally ac­tion in 2017.

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