Driving the Evo Triangle

The EVO Triangle is a driving road in North Wales that comprises a route that is sought out by drivers of performance cars. It’s achieved mythical status as one of the world’s driving Nirvanas and on automotive forums is considered one for any driver’s bucket list. However the Evo Triangle isn’t exactly the kind of road you happen to be driving along en route to another place.

To drive it, you actually have to make a detour to North Wales and unless you have business at Anglesey Race Track, it’s unlikely that you’re going to stumble upon it. So is the Evo Triangle as good as everyone says or is it simple a triangular shaped set of bumpy Welsh B Roads?

Like the Nurburgring, the ‘Evo’ Triangle is one of those driving locations that I’ve never really been inspired to investigate. The deluge of online blog posts about the road in Wales, together with the cliches that have been written about it over the years led me to believe that, like the ‘Ring, I didn’t really wish to join the club.

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Last year Lee Sibley over at Total 911 Magazine asked me to create a feature on a Porsche 911SC that was located a relatively short drive from the area. So we decided that it was as good a location as any to feature the car and use the Evo Triangle as a narrative to talk about driving the air cooled Porsche 911 away from the normal boring UK traffic. If you want to read more about the Porsche 911 we featured in the main story, you can buy the digital edition or order a back issue of Total 911 here.

Leaving Chester, it’s a forty minute drive over the border into Wales, where we planned our arrival at the top of the Evo triangle in Denbeigh. With me was photographer Chris Wallbank, his priority to shoot the photography for the magazine as we keep a watchful eye on the fast moving dark clouds being blown overhead by the very strong breeze.

My desire to drive is tempered by Chris’ need to capture the classic 911 outline while the weather remains on our side, so just a few miles into our anti-clockwise route on the A543, we take advantage of the spectacular elevated backdrop and Chris works industriously on our images. You can see some more images of this same location on the recent Behind The Scenes feature of the two Porsche Turbos.

driving the Evo triangle and shooting car photography
driving the Evo triangle and shooting car photography

After a half hour or so, I’m getting restless and so Chris is persuaded to stop shooting and we pull back onto the A543 heading south. This is actually a great route, with lots of elevation changes and a chance to crack open the side windows as we pass the dry stone walls to get the full exhaust effect. The road is quite bumpy. lots of huigh frequency ripples and bumps that show up the deficiencies of older car’s damper technologies, while if you’re in something newer or have recently upgraded your dampers, it’s a useful way to test the new equipment.

Arriving at the A5, we take a left onto what is probably the least inspiring part of the triangle. This is simply a typical British A Road, fairly smooth, arrow straight surface and the occasional open bend. It does, however, allow the Porsche’s Bilsteins to work at their best and also gives a chance to see whether the mid range power comes at the expense of top end breathing. For sure, it doesn’t quite sing at the top end as a Euro Carrera might, but it’s far from flat, making the signature howl in true air cooled 911 tradition. This part of the route isn’t overly long, though in my view, it does detract from the involvement, plus the traffic is heavier and the change breaks the rhythm you will have settled into over the previous section.

Turning left again onto the B5401 we enter the third side of the triangle. Climbing out of Cerrigydrudion, the B Road designation disguises the open nature of this section. From the signpost, I’d expected tight, twisty switchbacks that would exercise my forearms with the manual steering, but instead it’s a smooth open road, the tree line set back from the roadside bringing perfect vision through the bends and allowing the 911SC to sing, the rear end to squat down, the Bilsteins to work and the third, fourth, fifth gears of that 915 gearshift to become truly fluid.

Driving the Evo triangle in Wales
Pausing the drive to shoot the images

This is a real driver’s road and my favourite section of the Evo Triangle. We pass several great locations for photography but Chris knows better than to interrupt right now. We can always turn back later. We round a long, majestically sweeping, climbing left with wonderful positive camber, swoop down a long straight then across a bump where there used to be a cattle grid before arriving at the T Junction of the B5401 and A543. We stop, back at the top of the triangle, our original photo shoot location in sight just a short distance away. That was the Evo Triangle. Was it worth the trip?

In fact, probably one of the strongest reasons for me why it’s popular and is chosen for magazine photo shoots is quite simply that it’s very, very quiet. Even taking into account the mid week schedule of our visit, there really was very little traffic. For car photography, that’s a very useful thing if you don’t have the luxury of a closed off road or a privately hired circuit. For sure, it’s a successful photo location, as we returned there to shoot the two Gold Turbo Porsches for Total 911 only recently.

So that’s the famous Welsh Evo triangle. Is it worth the journey to North Wales to experience it? Well, that kind of depends. For me, there are an awful lot of roads in the UK that are very similar indeed to this one, so it’s far from unique. There are terrific roads in Yorkshire that I’ll be writing about very soon that are, in my view, significantly better and there’s a whole range of fantastic roads in the Scottish Borders that the Evo Triangle is totally outclassed by. If you have a Bucket List of roads and this is on it, I guess you have to go and find out for yourself.

Have you driven the Evo Triangle? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.

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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

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  • Interesting, I don’t think Evo magazines reasoning behind the triangle was ever that it was “motoring nirvana”, but a convenient (quiet, as you found) loop of mixed road types/conditions that could easily be run and repeated to assess a cars drive, handling and “evo-ness”. If you are assessing multiple cars with switching drivers then it seems a ideal loop for the task.

    I’d agree that in terms of great driving roads or inspiring drives its not even the best that North Wales can provide, personally I think there are “better” drives in South/Mid Wales also within easy travelling distance. The problem is really that the route has taken on some mythical status over the years and repeated magazine references, but few seem to recall its introduction and purpose to the magazine. Then again if you live in a southern city/metropolis, rarely get above 30mph on an interesting road and crave the roads highlighted in the photography of myriad magazine features it provides a focal point for trips … the shame is those people forgo the utter delights of the surrounding areas.

    • Very true, Craig. It makes a useful photo location, but I know of better places to evaluate a car’s capabilities. Glad you enjoyed the read.