Classic car insurance.
I have been using Footman James as insurers for my classic cars for many years and I have been very pleased with their service (apart from having to wait when trying to contact them by phone). They have now initiated a discounted vehicle insurance scheme, which the ROC has joined. Full details are given on pp 4 & 5.
Back issues of magazine.
To satisfy the demand for complete sets of magazines we are planning a reprint of some of the back numbers of which we have no or few copies. Getting them copied is no problem the problem is one of cost, as getting small runs could easily result in a unit cost of £4. If any member has access to low cost copying, please get in touch.
I must express my thanks to James Farrington for volunteering to supply early Rochdale articles from information supplied by Malcolm McKay, who has not been able to find the time recently to do his usual detailed and informative pieces. I don't know how James does it either, what with his other commitments (rebuilding an Olympic, running a website, young family and earning a living in his spare time). Perhaps he doesn't need to sleep.
Top tips (not really).
1). I like to use an old Anglepoise lamp to light up my work areas, but normal 60W bulbs are very fragile and break if given even a slight knock. But I find that a halogen version, which looks just like a headlamp bulb inside a domestic bulb, is vastly more robust and gives more light too. Certainly worth the extra price.
2). I like to carry a bottle of water on my journeys, but if left in the car it can get warm. A very cheepcheep way to delay this process is to pop it into a couple of old bubble-wrap padded envelopes, which provide excellent (and cheap) insulation. No batteries required.
making money from unwanted items
If you're anything like me (and I suspect most Rochdale owners are) then in the course of various car projects, you will have accumulated lots of parts off various vehicles which are too good to throw away yet are of no direct use. They may be of little apparent value, and attempts to sell (local papers, club magazines, motoring press) often meet with no response, and it's difficult to know their worth anyway.
Well - DON'T throw them away. There is ALWAYS someone, somewhere, who needs those bits, and the magic thing about eBay is - it puts you in touch with them, be they in Holland, Germany, Canada, Australia, Poland, USA, or Malta. Incredibly, people from all those countries and more have been in touch recently and seized on the opportunity to purchase bits I nearly threw out years ago; they are happy to get them, you feel good about the parts are being used rather than scrapped, and the price to which the auction floats is often a pleasant little surprise for things you had viewed as a financial writeoff. Would you believe £90 for old Herald seat belts? £80 for a Commer exhaust? £11.77 for a Minor starting handle?
So what's needed? Well, an obvious start is a computer with internet access - preferably broadband, though you can (just!) manage with dial-up if you're patient enough. You will need to get yourself registered with eBay - just go to www.ebay.co.uk and type in your details, including an eBay identity which you are pretty much stuck with once entered, so don't make it too silly. While there is no charge for any of this you WILL need to enter your bank account, and credit card details to link up to. While this kind of thing has given me no problem, you do need to be careful of any e-mail asking for such - I have had a number of scams claiming to be my bank as well as eBay in an effort to get to my details. You may also want to consider signing up to PAYPAL and transferring in a float to get you started if you are intending buying things. This is convenient when using eBay, and results in instant payments at the end of the auction (though getting money in from your bank can be painfully slow...) Cost to the buyer is nothing, though there are a few % charged to the seller each time. I personally would always go with Paypal as a buyer if possible, and much prefer to use it as a seller also - though not for very large or very small items. 23p on a 1 item isn't cheap and 2.9% of £3300 (my biggest sale) is far too much and I would insist on an alternative here (cash, cheque etc - but make sure its cleared!).
Once your account is set up, buying is the simpler option to start with - if you browse through the lists, or just type in the obscure item you have been looking for, it is amazing what shows up. Bidding is just a matter of typing in how much you are prepared to pay, with your identity + password and then letting things run their course. Auctions may be of various lengths though a week is most common. An item may lurk at virtually nothing all week and suddenly go crazy in the last few minutes - I did have one piece go from about £30 (more than I had expected) to over £300 in the last 5 seconds! The bidding is an art in itself, and a bid of, say, £100 does not mean this is the amount you pay. If the top bid stands at £50 then a £100 bid from you will push the price up to £52 (only), which you may just get lucky with. If the original bidder comes back with £100 this will push your bid to its limit (original one stands) and then demand £105 (minimum) from the next bidder. I been involved in a number of quite dramatic auctions - it's better than TV - one of the most remarkable being a friend who put £150 on obscure Mk 1 Land Rover vents he had spent years looking for. He turned out to be the only one interested and got them for £12!
Before you can SELL anything, you will need to photograph your item and enter a description in your ad. Just about any old bits (preferably not too heavy) will have a ready market. Classic bike bits - BSA/Triumph/Norton etc - have an unbelievable market but old car parts, especially Morris, MG, Triumph etc are not far behind. If you get your advert and photos right, people get caught up in the frenzy of bidding and may end up paying well over the brand new price. You will need a small parcels list from Royal Mail, and a set of scales if you are doing things properly - some things are just too heavy to post.
Here are some (hard earned) tips for better buying and selling:
Time your auction. Nobody is watching at lunch times, or Saturday pm, though I have found Thursday and Sunday evenings optimal.
Make sure your pictures are top quality. Think about your backgrounds, make sure the part is clean and
get the lighting right - don't expect big bids for dark and out of focus images. Its a seasonal business. Don't expect high prices in the summer months or the lead in to Christmas. However, response can be massive from folks sitting around with a lap top in the few days AFTER Christmas when they have little to do.
The top bid is of little consequence - you never get to know it anyway. It is the SECOND bid which has the most influence on the price they pay and predicting responses can be almost impossible. If you start an item at 99p, that may just be all it makes. If you think there may only be a single bidder, then start it at £9.99 or higher. Alternately, you can set a RESERVE price for bigger items eg cars but let it start at 99p (its cheaper!).
Get your postage sorted. If it's a big item, then you may wish to insist on local collection (though this cuts down on potential buyers). When posting, a certificate of posting (free) is vital because some will claim it's never arrived, and you may even go for recorded delivery when the auction has hit big money (factor it all in to the postage you quote). Selling abroad is no hardship apart from having the airmail small packet list (don't even think of overland) and getting the payment before sending. This limits your overseas sales to 2kg, but all the lists you need are available at www.royalmail.co.uk A good supply of stout boxes (and bubble wrap from local supermarkets - ask at the fruit and veg section rather than buying it from stationery) is vital.
Use the ADVANCED SEARCH facility to focus on COMPLETED LISTINGS ONLY to give you an idea of prices. Just don't expect too many Olympics in there though.
Be careful. Most people are decent but you are bound to meet the odd plonker (I'm running at one in every hundred). If they don't pay they obviously don't get the goods, but they can often cause you considerable grief in the process. When selling a really expensive item (eg car) I insist on a 10% Paypal deposit within 24 hours, and full payment within a week. One clown strung my daughter along for 5 weeks on a £3600 Minor before finally refusing to pay.
Don't bid in nice round numbers. If you are prepared to pay £100, enter £100.56 or similar. You will then pip-at-the-post those offering a straight £100. www.justsnipe.co.uk are very useful for slamming in last minute - well 8 seconds, actually - bids that nobody was expecting. Its free and I never bid by any other means.
www.auctiva.com let you set up really attractive ads with massive pictures - I used 24 for my Commer - without charge. Again, I don't put an ad in without it, these days, though I have yet to master all the options they offer.
It's addictive! I'm running at about 500 items and Pats not far adrift, though she hasn't BOUGHT a single one! The garage has never been so tidy - and I havn't sold a single thing I had any use for....
Make photos clear, like this ...
... or this
I have had my collar felt recently by the originality police, not by anything I had done, strangely, but by a comment I made in the last Mag. In that I wrote in Dereks Olympic Registrar piece: In my defence, all the cars came as stripped shells and only EKF 818L had an engine, so there was no question of returning them to their original state. This was interpreted as being the default situation for anyone contemplating restoring an Olympic. Perhaps I should have added the words in my mind, or something similar, to make it clear it was my view only for these particular cars.
To make my view quite clear: if I bought a complete car to original spec (ie Riley 1.5 etc for a Phase 1 and Cortina etc for a Phase 2) today I would certainly not throw out the mechanicals just because they were old-fashioned or needed rebuilding and replace them with modern stuff, and I would not approve of anyone else doing it either. Original cars in working condition are very rare today, so should be preserved. Bare shells are less clear cut. My motive for buying an Olympic in the first place was to satisfy a desire to own a car that I had admired for years, but this was not a practical proposition until family commitments receded. It was also a car from the kit side of the blanket and so more amenable to individual interpretation than a conventional classic such as Lotus. It was also a practical car that could be used daily (especially in Phase 2 form with its hatch), and capable of holding its own in modern traffic. There are very few classics that satisfy these criteria. Finally, it does not rust (not seriously, anyway).
Of the cars I have rebuilt (all from bare shells), I plead guilty to the latest one, BNC 849B re lack of originality. This had a diesel engine originally, and came with no mechanical bits apart from a lethal front subframe and suspension. I don't know about you, but I don't associate Olympics with chuggy diesels original perhaps in this sample, but not in the spirit of the original design. The shell also needed such extensive repairs that I felt justified in doing my own thing to it. In retrospect I feel I overdid it in some areas, which I regret, but it achieved largely what I intended: a comfortable, quiet, economical but speedy car which I could use every day and go places. It has now covered over 8000 miles in 2 years, 2000 of them on the Continent, and I am not a robust traveller.
My first rebuild was a Phase 1 which might be termed a baskit (sic) case, ie. as a shell plus sundry parts sufficient to make a car and which at one time had been whole. (This was bought to save it from the scrappie, as the owner wanted his barn back. I already had a Phase 2 to rebuild, so the Phase 1 delayed this for a year or three). Unfortunately, the Riley 1.5 gold seal engine had been stripped and left to rust, but the rest was usable (with repairs). This car was rebuilt to original spec, initially with the Wolseley 1500 engine from said Phase 2 but later with an MGB engine and o/d gearbox. The only other deviation from originality was to use a wider bush on the right side trailing arm and a bracing bar joining the two trailing arms at their forward ends to better locate the axle, and an attempt to get some Ackerman into the steering by moving the rack rearwards. It even retained the single wing fuel tank and drum brakes, though I used the pedal box from a Metro, as it came without one. So pretty original.
The Phase 2, whose rebuild had been delayed as above, also came as a kit of parts. It was a very late build, being 1972, and seemed to have had had little use. The original owner (probably) had widened the rear wheel arches by the cut and wedge method not very pretty but the shell was in pretty good nick otherwise and had never been painted, though the gelcoat was very dull. I restored the wheel arches to original state as far as possible. Its Wolseley engine and gearbox were in just about usable condition, serving time in the Phase 1 for a while, but I decided to replace them with items more capable of tackling long journeys using the new-fangled motorways, ie a Toyota 1600 pushrod engine and 5-speed gearbox from the Celica of the early 70s (and therefore in period). Apart from these, the non-original parts were: steel fuel tank (as the original was not usable); the instruments, which came from the Celica but were mounted so as to look more like classic gauges; the seats (modern); the pedal box (Metro again); wipers (Citroen BX copied from DUF). The suspension and brakes were original, though I replaced the rotted-out original subframe with a new one to the same basic design but bolted in rather than bonded in. Oh, and the spare wheel was relocated to a vertical position in the boot as the tank used its space. I completed over 15000 miles in this car, including a couple of trips to the Le Mans Classic, all without incident.
Would I have used a completely original car to the same extent? I just don't know, but there are now three Olympics on the road in good working order that might have lain in some damp and dusty corner had I not done my own thing (and a fourth is on the way).
Q: How many cars are now on the road?
A: fewer than 30, so I have been responsible for 10% of all current Olympics. Where are the rest? Mostly under tarpaulins, rotting in back gardens.
In the future I suspect standard Olympics will be at a premium, if only because of their rarity, and it would be a shame if they ended up as essentially museum pieces. Until then I'll just keep driving mine.
I must admit I would probably not contemplate buying an original, non-working Olympic. It is hard enough work rebuilding a bare shell without having to dismantle a long-disused tarpaulin escapee before the rebuild can start. The end has to justify the effort. For me, the prospect of spending over 3000 hours of often tiring, dirty and dusty work has to have a large carrot at the end for it to be worthwhile. It has to be more than a showroom example of the marque. I'm just a born tinkerer.
While I have your attention I thought I would give a short update on the Phase 1 currently occupying centre stage in my garage.
This car is just a shell, though complete with doors and bonnet. Although bought sight unseen, I was reasonably happy with its condition - the shell seemed relatively undamaged, only one wing showing any signs of repair and not much paint to remove. The subframe was severely rotted, but this was only to be expected and it is a simple structure to re-make - nowhere near as complex as that in the Phase 2.
Boy, how things change when you look deeper. The first task was to strip out all the rusted metal (apart from the subframe). This was a lot more extensive than ought to have been the case, as a past owner had gone to town with steel reinforcement in unexpected places. As this had converted itself to oxide it had further damaged the areas it was supposed to be reinforcing, as no attempt seemed to have been made to rustproof it, taxing my ingenuity in removal without collateral damage.
Inspection of the main area which had been reinforced (the mounting panel for the suspension doughnuts on the right hand side) explained why it had been done; the original glassfibre was totally inadequate, probably less than 5mm thick. What is more, the lay-up had been done badly, with patches of dry glass strands and voids filled with body filler! No wonder the panel had needed reinforcement, though glassfibre should obviously have been used and not steel.
Interestingly, the panel on the left appeared to be in perfect condition, which I thought reasonable, as the stresses are much less on this side (perhaps only one third), but a closer look showed it had been laid up with the same degree of care as the right dry glass, filler, etc.
It was the same story in other areas too - panels that needed to be thicker were thin, yet other panels were overly thick, and the standard of workmanship in awkward places distinctly dodgy. The conclusion I have come to is that the laminator was inexperienced and/or not properly trained. This would have been inevitable in that working environment; it was hard and uncomfortable work, there was a constant need for speed, and if an experienced worker was off sick a replacement would have been needed pronto.
We must also not forget that the notion of quality control was virtually unknown in the industry at large at that time, so patchy quality is perfectly understandable in a small kit car manufacturer using a relatively new technology. It's just the luck of the draw, but I can't help feeling sorry for the first owner or two, who must have had to struggle to keep the car roadworthy. It also explains the feeling I had that the car had been used relatively little it must have spent an awful lot of time in the garage.
In my experience the doors on the Olympic can take as much time to restore as the whole of the rest of the body, especially if the hinges are regarded as part of the doors. They are quite complex (in my view the design was over-ambitious and as a result suffered from poor detailing) and are difficult to work on due to very poor access, especially in the hinge area. The window frames are especially feeble in the Phase 1, do not seal well and do not guide the window adequately in either phase, but here I am concentrating on the glassfibre parts.
The two skins forming the door are often found to have come apart, especially at the front and rear where the edges have been trimmed back to make the door small enough to fit into the opening, and the gap is usually filled with dirt. It is worthwhile spending some time doing a decent repair job here so they don't spring apart again.
Method: first prepare the surfaces by prising the skins apart and cleaning out the gaps, first with a blunt knife and then with coarse sandpaper (or even a high speed drill fitted with a small stone if the gap is really wide) to clean off the dirt and to roughen the surfaces. You can be fairly brutal as there is no point leaving a feeble original join. Then clean up and roughen the inner skins for about 2" from the edge. This is difficult, though possible at the rear edge, but pretty much impossible at the front due to poor access. Access can be improved enormously by cutting out a section of the inner skin by the lower hinge (this can be replaced quite easily later). If repairs are needed to the mounting surface of the lower hinge (quite likely in my experience), then the extra access is vital.
Next glue the skins together. I use normal laminating resin loaded with a powder filler to make a runny paste, as neat resin is too thin and dribbles out. Work this paste into the gaps, which have been opened up with wedges (eg screwdrivers), then remove the wedges and squeeze the skins together with small Gcramps or similar (this can get messy). Then stand the door on edge and ladle in as much runny paste as possible along the length of the join to make a fillet between the skins (this is obviously only possible if the front and rear edges are done separately) and leave to set.
Next laminate glass matting on top of the fillet two or three layers up to 4" wide. This helps to hold the skins together and with the paste should make a good strong join which can withstand a fair degree of trimming back. While the access is still good at the front it is worthwhile beefing up the panel where the lower hinge fits as this will almost certainly have suffered some damage in the past, especially if force has been used to remove rusted up bolts. I have not yet had to deal with repairing the upper hinge panel, but it seems to me that, unless the skins were separated completely (see last para) it would be best to cut out some of the inner panel to permit access, as it would be absolutely impossible otherwise.
If the skins have parted along the lower edge, then access from inside is totally impossible, so the method is to use paste if the gap can be sprung far enough to work it in. If not then the only recourse is to clean and roughen the mating surfaces as much as possible then pour in some resin and tilt the door to spread it along the gap, then clamp the edges until the resin sets.
If the skins have parted nearly all the way round it would certainly be worthwhile to go the whole hog and rip them apart, as you would then get access to parts which have not seen the light of day since they were first made and be able to clean the mating surfaces properly. This would certainly give access to the top hinge area. Another benefit is subtler; the top edge of the outer skin is not very rigid and tends not to hold the sealing rubber against the glass, so with the excellent access available a stiffening bar can be grafted on, over a paper tube perhaps. Even better would be to make proper provision for a proprietary sealing rubber too. I wish I had done this on the door I have just been working on, even though the skins were bonded fairly well along the bottom edge, so I will have to do it the hard way.
by James Farrington on behalf of Malcolm McKay
First of all, you may have noticed that over the past few Rochdale Owners club magazines the Early Rochdales Register feature has been sorely missed. Unfortunately, for the short term Malcolm McKay is unable to centre his time and effort required for this feature. In an attempt to help him out I have offered my services. Malcolm does a fantastic job in writing this section of the ROC magazine and after requesting some information for this quarters edition I realised the enormity of his position within the Rochdale Owners Club!
Hats off to Malcolm, the amount of emails that he receives about early Rochdales would definitely exceed my inbox limit 10 times over. My knowledge of early Rochdales is limited but with Malcolms help I shall attempt to collate this information and present an informative write up for your perusal.
While Tony Stanton was on his rounds at the July Silverstone classic event this year, a Mr Verdun Webley approached him and said that he used to navigate in 1960-62 for a driver called Frankie Martin in a Rochdale GT. The car in question entered a few touring car rallies between these years and Verdun remembers being part of a motoring club called SODS, The Sporting Owners Driving S????
(Unfortunately I can't remember what he said the S was). Verduns memories of the car are a little sketchy due to the 45 years since he's seen Frankie Martin or the car but remembers it being powered by a Ford sidevalve 1172 engine. It was planned to fit a Cosworth engine into the car but Frankie Martin sold the Ford engine and fitted it with a Wolseley 1500 instead, he thinks. The shell sat on a Bowden racing chassis with a live rear axle; the chassis was made up of a ladder-framed box section that was painted bright red. Unfortunately, we don't know this cars registration, but we do know that it lived in a shed in the back of Frankie Martins garden in Dunstable until he emigrated to Australia in the mid '70s. Frankie now lives in Australia and Verdun will hopefully be getting some contact details for Frankie Martin in the coming weeks. Hopefully we can find out some more competition history and details of this Rochdale GT.
The internet never ceases to amaze me with what information and facilities are available at the touch of a few keys. One facility that I particularly enjoy can only be described as an online dating agency for cars and their owners and is called Drive Archive. This site allows you to look at peoples requests for information on vehicles they have owned in the past and allows you to list your own vehicle to research the history. One such request on this site was from a Rob Northcott who was looking for a Rochdale Olympic (?) Ford-based special registered VOR 6. No record of this number plate existed in the ROC database and on further contact, Rob writes:
I put that message out in the vague hope of finding any info about my parents old car. I've only seen one picture of it, and looked a bit similar to an E-type coupe, but much smaller. My dad says it was built on a Ford Popular chassis, and thinks it was probably a Rochdale body. The reg was definitely VOR 6.
They sold it when I was expected in 1969 (baby forces sale, I'm afraid) and bought a sensible car (a Minor).
Last time I looked for that picture I couldn't find it, but next time I'm at their place I'll try again. If I find it, I'll certainly send you a copy - then we can at least confirm whether or not it was a Rochdale body. Luckily Rob managed to get a couple of photos of this Rochdale, which is new to the Register.
My parents managed to find the pictures of their Ford Popular-based Rochdale GT, VOR 6, which I have scanned and attached. They would have been taken in the late 1960s. They sold it in late 1968, soon before I was born, trading it in against a sensible Morris Minor. It was apparently in quite poor mechanical condition and the dealer didn't give them much for it, so it may possibly have been broken up for parts or scrapped soon after that, but perhaps somebody saved the shell? Not sure if I mentioned before, but those pictures were taken in Bristol, which is also where the car would have been sold. I'm afraid that's all I know, but I hope it's of some use for your archive.
We doubt that such a nice looking car would've been broken up at that time the mechanical side was very cheap to repair then with recon engines two-a-penny. Ballamy wheels are fitted, so it probably had a high ratio axle
Sadly, it's not known to survive now and doesn't appear on the DVLA computer - at least, not as a Ford or a Rochdale, though it might be there if registered as something else (sometimes the builders name was used, such as Broadley Special). The registration was issued in March 1959 so it was registered as a substantially new vehicle then, meaning it almost certainly had a new chassis at that time which should still have been pretty sound 9-10 years later.
In the summer 2007 ROC magazine Malcolm described the turning up of an MG-chassis C Type that subsequently disappeared as Absolutely bloody unbelievable! Then what should happen? Another MG chassis'd C Type turns up out of the blue in America. Remarkable!
The initial contact was made by Mark Palmer of Pennsylvania, USA who had seen the car in America and was interested in some more information before he approached the owner to make him an offer.
I believe I have discovered a Rochdale Type C here in the USA. See photo attached. The body is mounted on an MG TD chassis. It uses the TD engine, which has period race modifications (Derrington manifold, Vertex magneto, etc). The current owner bought it c1976, in the USA. The previous owner supposedly bought it in England in 1959, when he was there on business and saw the car being raced.
Actually I suspect that, if yours did come from UK, more has happened in the intervening years than you have discovered to date. I say that simply because it is left-hand drive and, had it been racing here in 1959, it would almost certainly have been right-hand drive. Perhaps it has been converted at some time, or more likely it has been swapped onto this chassis from some earlier race car chassis. Type C bodies were used on all sorts of different chassis in the 1950s - no doubt there were many that we do not know about, but of those we do know and which have not been seen since the 1950s there was a Lister, a Turner and a TVR... Any of these could have been exported to USA, then the body taken off later and transferred to the TD chassis.
I am also attaching a photo of the TVR aforementioned, which also appeared on Rochdales brochure. Without wishing to get too excited at this stage(!), you might care to note the position of the sidelights (or are they indicators) on the flange below the headlights and, even more significantly, of the bonnet strap mounting just above the grille. Your body appears to have sidelight holes in exactly the same places and damage in the centre above the grille in exactly the place where that strap mounts - please have a look at your body and see if you can tell what caused that damage - could it have been the bonnet strap pulling out? It looks as if there were some other tiny clips in the front corners of the bonnet - it would be worth checking your body for those too; even if they've been filled on top, it's probably possible to see evidence on the inner face of the glassfibre if there ever were holes there. That TVR disappeared without trace in the late 1950s, so it is just possible...?
In fact, I will attach a few other photos, because the other highly significant point is that the C-type usually came without a grille opening - the builder was left to cut out as little or as much as he liked. As you will see from the attached images, most cut out more - only the TVR, I think, has an opening as small as yours. The original grille bars could easily have been swapped for the box-style grille at some time...
I haven't actually purchased this car in the USA just yet. The current owner is trying to decide what to do with it, sell as is, restore & sell, or restore & keep. I think his wife has convinced him not to keep it, and I am trying to convince him not to attempt a restoration himself. He is not really an enthusiast and judging by the condition of his Corvette, garaged alongside the Rochdale, I would not have much confidence in his restoration skills.
From what I have seen, the car appears complete, but partially disassembled. Body remains mounted on what I would describe as a rolling chassis - with complete suspension, steering, etc. Frame appears to be solid and un-rusted. Engine and gearbox are out of the car but appear complete; owner claims it was
running when parked. Body is very rough in places, requiring significant glassfibre repair. Interior trim is there, but very rough. All the electrics, instruments, hydraulics etc are there but in need of complete rebuild/replacement. Owner says he has all chrome trim but I would guess it all needs to be re-chromed or replaced. Windscreen is rather crude, but there, and owner says he even has the original hood. So I would characterize this as a complete car needing total restoration.
The current owner did not convert it to LHD, but doesn't know if the previous US owner may have done so. The current owner wasn't even aware that the TD chassis could be switched easily, in fact he wasn't really aware that you folks in England still drive on the left! He is truly not an enthusiast; he just lucked into this car 30 years ago.
If I purchase the car, I am NOT looking to make money, I just don't want to lose a lot of money if I have to re-sell later! My honest intention here is to see that the car goes into good hands, either my own or another enthusiast who will treat it properly. The market for this car in the US is probably pretty limited. Do you think it is fair to assume there would be more of a market in England?
I will try to keep you appraised of the status. I really don't have time for another project right now (I currently race an MGA 1500, am restoring an MGA Twin Cam to race, and maintain an MGC/GT road car) but I may try to buy the Rochdale mostly to protect it from further neglect - or direct it into the hands of someone who really cares about these cars. The current owner even asked me at one point whether I thought he should just scrap the car, due to the poor overall condition. I emphatically said no, but I'd be more comfortable if it were out of his hands ... soon. I will try to have another look at the car to see if it may be the ex-TVR car?
I do hope you succeed in rescuing the car, Mark - even if you don't have time to touch it for some years!
I just got back from my 2nd visit. Unfortunately, the current owner has an inflated view of the value, he feels it could be worth $10,000 or maybe $100,000 once he learns the entire history. I offered him $4,000 for the car as is, and he refused.
I examined the mounting of the bodyshell to the TD frame - it was done very professionally. There are hoops fabricated of steel tube, in the nose area, the tail area, and completely surrounding the cockpit opening. The steel hoops are glassed in to the fiberglass shell. There are various fabricated steel mounts, welded to the steel hoops, and bolted to the TD frame - all very well done. There is also a substantial hoop under the scuttle, perhaps adapted from the standard MG TD scuttle hoop. All in all, the body seems quite rigidly mounted to the frame - someone gave a lot of thought and engineering.
Oh, almost forgot - the paint, and the LHD. The current owner claims that the previous US owner bought the car in England, in 1959, and it was already LHD and already painted white with a blue stripe at that time. However, when he stripped the paint, he found BRG under the white. I strongly suspect that the car was BRG, and RHD, when it was sold in England in 1959 - and I further suspect that the first US owner converted it to LHD and re-painted it the American racing colours of blue & white. Anyway, if anyone remembers a blue & white Rochdale C-type in England (or has black and white photos of a light car with broad dark stripe), this could be it!
It appears that the owner will keep the car for the time being, unless someone offers in excess of $10,000, which I think is unlikely. I plan to bide my time for a little while, then re-approach him perhaps in a few weeks or months to see if he has come back to earth regarding the value - or perhaps his wife wants a space in the garage for her Buick.
THANKS for all your assistance, this has been interesting! I have learned quite a bit about the Rochdale marque, and have new-found appreciation. The Olympic is also quite an intriguing model!
Malcolms final thought:
It does sound as if the body has been well prepared for mounting to the chassis. I don't have my book on early TVRs at present (a friend has borrowed it) so can't check the layout of those early bodies, but if you look at the scan I sent you of the brochure photograph, it is possible to see inside the bodyshell what appear to be tubes glassed in to support the rear bodywork; I wonder if they are in the same positions? I am not sure that this is the ex-TVR bodyshell but it remains a possibility... Incidentally, John Walkington (who's had a C-type from new) said of that one, I was very interested to see the photo of the works C type, I have that photo, obtained when I bought my shell in 1955. I thought it was Riley mechanicals but am open to correction. The colour I seem to remember was a very smart pale blue metallic.
That doesn't tie in with the BRG of course, but then competition cars do change colour quite frequently (as do road cars - that Olympic I just rescued was registered in Feb 1962 as red, then in July 1962 as white, then in July 1965 as red again, then by Sept 1967 was black!).
Thanks again for keeping me posted with all this information. Does the car by any chance have a US registration number that I could make a note of? It's great to know of another surviving C-type and I do hope it makes its way into your hands in due course...
The early Rochdale shells featured on quite a number of competition vehicles. I suppose it was an easy and relatively light way to clothe the chassis. For some reason, however, the Olympic has never had a big competition history. I am sure that this at least in part accounts for the current relatively low values compared to the likes of Lotus, Ginetta and even Turner.
Lotus of course primarily produced racing cars and the road going side was almost a secondary means to bring in the money to finance it. The Elite was a forerunner to the Olympic and by all accounts not as practical as a road car. However, I would still have one if the price was right! To show how we all make mistakes I also turned down a Ginetta G4 (at £50) in favour of the Olympic. Not as practical as a road car, but it would have been a better financial investment.
Harry Smith mentioned some years ago that the Olympic had too big a frontal area to be considered as a serious race car, although I do not believe that this alone accounted for its minimal usage in competitive events. I also understand that they considered its strength would better suit it to rallying and other off road sport rather than circuit racing.
However, the company did produce a few lightweight shells, obviously with competition in mind. Some intrepid owners did venture out in their Olympics and I will attempt to list those known to me. Not all of these of course were lightweight versions.
Those known to me are as follows:
Order No 1515 was supplied in January 1961 to Mr A Arnold of the Union Street Garage, Andwick, Manchester and was registered 9735 NC. It was supplied with mountings for a Coventry Climax engine and in this form was sprinted at Burtons Factory in September 1961. Nothing further is known of this particular car.
The first listed order for a lightweight shell is Order No 1588 by a Mr Wilkin of Amstelveen, Holland. It was delivered in July 1961 to Youlgrave, Derbyshire and subsequently registered 797 URA. I have no record of any competition history, although one would assume that was the owners intention. The rolling shell still existed a few years ago, sadly neglected by its original owner, now in Kent. Details were published in ROC No 53.
The next lightweight is Order No 1601 supplied in August 1961 to Neville Hodkin of Thorne, Doncaster. It was registered 8500 DT and features in Autosport, competing at Olivers Mount hill climb, Scarborough in October of the same year. It also appears in Haynes Guide to Component Cars, parked alongside what seems to be an airfield. Unfortunately, nothing more is known of its ultimate fate.
A phase 1, Order No 1606, was sold to the London Riley dealers, Boon & Porter Ltd. in November 1961. This was fitted with an MGA engine and registered BPL 125. It competed at the Brighton Speed Trials and was hill climbed by Penelope Porter, the owners daughter. The car survives and is presently for sale by the current owner Simon Brindle from Romsey.
Harry Ratcliffe took delivery of a standard Olympic shell in September 1961 (O/N 1613). This was built up with parts from his racing Minor. However, it came to grief in collision with an errant lorry during road testing and never made it onto the circuits. An order had been placed in October for a lightweight shell, but this appears never to have been delivered following the above mentioned incident. As an aside there is a note in the factory ledger that the propshaft was collected from Union Street Garage, so there was obviously still contact with that organisation.
Order No 1676 dated November 1961 was from G Dixon of the Lincoln Racing Team, Kirks Motors, Longdales Road, Lincoln and was supplied in December of the same year, a remarkably short delivery period by RMP standards. I am fairly certain that this was subsequently registered TVL 145.
From photographs and programmes this car appears to have competed extensively during the 1963 season at Snetterton, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Mallory Park. Listed drivers seem to be a P Dobbs and a Mr Stamp. Engine capacity in one programme is listed as 948cc, so presumably it was Minor based. Unfortunately, no results seem to exist, although at least two film sequences indicate it crashing. Whether this was due to driver error or a serious handling problem remains a mystery.
Ron Scarfe bought a phase 1 in 1962 (Order No 1704). In 1965 Ron entered the car in The Lands End Classic Trial and gained a 3rd Class award. The car is still in Rons ownership and is currently being rebuilt.
The last entry in the ledger for a lightweight shell is No 1717 which was delivered to John Anstice-Brown in March 1962. This is probably the best known circuit racer and was used with a Ford engine throughout 1962 and 63. It was subsequently registered JJH 20G and now resides with Keith Hamer.
11 LOR was a phase 1 Olympic built by Derrick Bussey during 1963/64 and fitted initially with a 1340cc Ford engine. It was primarily intended as a road car, but was used for the occasional Sprint and driving test from 1964 to '66. During the 1967, '68 and '69 seasons the car was extensively Autocrossed. The car was sold at the end of the 1969 season and seems to have disappeared.
FRU 12D is a phase 2, built during 1965 by Bournemouth based Keith Ross. The car was used for
Autocross from 1965 to 1969 by both Keith and his wife Jean. The car was extremely successful with its Broadspeed tuned Ford engine and was a frequent class winner. The opposition included Derrick Bussey in 11 LOR. The phrase if you can't beat them, join them springs to mind and at the end of the 1969 season Derrick bought FRU 12D from Keith Ross. Derrick then continued the cars success throughout the 1970 season, finally selling it to a fellow competitor, David Dawson. The car was eventually sold, without engine and remained unused for a number of years. It is currently being rebuilt for further competition use by Joe Allenby-Byrne in Sussex.
In 1964 a lightweight phase 2 was built for Derek Alderson of Rochdale Caravan Services. It was raced for about half a season and was then bought by Jerry Jackson, who registered it KHX 378B. Jerry was in at the start of Drag Racing in this country and competed at several venues including Blackbushe Airfield. The car was allegedly extremely light weight and was generally driven to events. The car was last heard of in the Cambridge area in the late 1980's.
Geoff Thornton owned an Olympic in the early 1960's and entered club rallies as a member of Stafford Car Club. In 1965 he also took part in an Autocross that was televised on the BBCs Grandstand programme. The identity of this particular Olympic is unknown, although he was later to own a Phase 2, JDK 523F, now residing with Colin Breakspear in Germany.
The Woodside brothers, Robert and Ian, who were part of the Woodside Haulage family of Ballymure, Northern Ireland were alleged to have rallied an Olympic in the early 1960's, although the identity of this particular car also remains a mystery.
900 HLR is a phase 2, currently in the ownership of Gareth Davies. In 1965 it was photographed taking part in a Sprint, when in the ownership of R T Cox. I believe it was also entered at the same event as 11 LOR.
That is the extent of my knowledge in the competition history of the Olympic when it was current, however, any further information would be gratefully received.
In more recent years there have been a few instances of Olympics being used in competition.
Paul Gething has owned a phase 1, GUY 541C since the late 1970s. Initially it was purely a road car, although Paul then developed it into a fairly serious Sprint and Hill climb car., with some degree of success. The car, although not used for a few years, is still in Pauls ownership.
My own phase 1 (9557 LJ) formed an introduction to competition and was used for Slalom Autotests and
Production Car Trials from 1978 to '82. The only breakages were the panhard rod bracket on the axle (twice), which accounted for interesting drives home at no more than 20 mph.
John Blanckley (RGX 715), Malcolm McKay (BHU 404A) and Robin Stretton (104 WPK) have all entered their respective phase 1s in several Classic Rallies in recent years. I believe that John also used his original Olympic, 202 FLA for rallying back in the early 60's.
Over the water I understand that Mark Lynd Kennedy entered his phase 2 (LYG 741D) in the Circuit of Ireland on one if not two occasions.
I also understand that Patrice Wattinne has used MYG 393D in at least one continental event, although I do not have exact details.
If I have missed anyone please let me know, as it would be useful to build up a detailed competition history for the Olympic.
8500 DT at Olivers Mount in 1961