Top rally driver passes away

One of the country's foremost rally drivers has died from a heart attack at his home in Longbridge age 63.

Colin Malkin's record as a 'marathon' driver, concentrating on the longer events like the Paris to Dakar race or the London to Sydney he twice won, puts him among the most decorated drivers of all time, according to his friend of 40 years Colin Goler.

"He was one of the best competitors I have ever seen," said his former co-driver, "volatile but generous. He was a very a logical man and very highly thought of in rally driving."

Mr Malkin won three British national championship titles in the 1960s driving a Hillman Imp.

His career spanned three decades and by 1968, following such domestic success, he was awarded the British Trial and Rally Drivers' Association's gold star and the Motoring News Title, which was a publication now better known as the magazine Motorsport.

Both honours were seen by those in the industry as reflecting dominance in night-time driving.

Mr Goler, who used to live in Kenilworth and now near Banbury, added: "He was absolutely unbeatable in the Imp. A superb driver."

On the back of this acclaim Mr Malkin's services were sought by manufacturers like Ford, with whom he subsequently won the Scottish, Welsh and RAC rallies, and later Mercedes, with whom he was successful for the second time in the longest rallying event in the world, the 30,000 kilometre London to Sydney in 1977.

Close links to the motor industry runs in the Malkin family.

Colin's son Darren, 29, is a former Formula 3000 and Touring Car racing driver himself and Mr Goler has co-driven with his father, mother, uncle and sister during his career.

The sport was very different in the days of Mr Malkin's career, not least because it was largely self-funded.

He was the son of a garage owner from Coventry - his mother Ivy still lives in Kenilworth - and went on to own a number of garages himself in the district, the most notable of which was Emscote Motors, in Emscote Road.

Mr Goler added: "In the 1970s we would do an event like the the RAC rally which would last five days with a one night stop.

"We would go from London to Scotland and back and do about 80 stages. Now the drivers do about 20 stages and they don't like driving after it gets dark.

"You wouldn't have a maintenance team with you or anything, you might have a guy running after you with a spanner, but that was about it.

"It was in that type of situation that Colin learnt his craft."

Events took the team, and Mr Malkin's other co-drivers including Andrew Cowan, John Brown and Rob Lyle all over the country.

Mr Lyle, who now lives in Ettington and drove with Mr Malkin for ten years between 1963 and 1973, added: "There is no question that he was one of the five quickest drivers in the UK at the time, probably even faster. There is no argument about that. His achievements were unbelievable."