Due to heavy snowfall and frost the show was called off at the last minute as the showground was deemed too dangerous for the public. In fact the attendance would have been miniscule anyway, as many of the roads were blocked and I doubt whether my car and trailer or Nigels Olympic could have got through. I had already collected the trailer and was ready to load my Phase 1 shell when I checked their website to find the news only half an hour earlier it had said the show was on. It has been rescheduled for an allegedly warmer time of year (see above), so better luck next time.
We are proceeding with the manufacture of part-moulds using the Phase 2 shell we recently bought from Les Brown and by the time you read this the shell should be with Smith & Deakin. Part-moulds will be a great deal easier to transport and store than a whole body mould and will enable the parts most commonly needed (all four corners, nose and roof) to be supplied at shortish notice.
Following a consultation in 2007, it was expected that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would publish regulations during 2008 introducing a licensing scheme to allow the continued sale of vehicle refinishing products that do not comply with regulations introduced in 2005 to limit volatile organic compound content. Most cellulose based products fall within that description.
Nothing happened until early January this year, when - quite unexpectedly - a Consultation on Implementation of the Paint Products Regulations 2005 Addressing Monitoring and Enforcement Issues was published. At the time of writing this had not been considered by the FBHVC legislation team. This common-sense document recognises that the use of non-compliant paints is falling to near negligible levels as a result of economic considerations and so proposes not to set up a complicated (and therefore costly) licensing system. Instead, it is intended to introduce a code of practice for the sale of non-compliant products, which, if followed, would ensure that such products could be sold only for purposes that would have been permitted under a licensing scheme.
The down-side is that without the licensing scheme, the sale of non-compliant product would not comply fully with the terms of the derogation contained in the EU directive. To overcome this, the consultation proposes what amounts to a Nelsonian-eye approach to enforcement such that, provided the code of practice has been followed, it would not be in the public interest to take action. Enforcement will be the responsibility of local authorities, and the consultation includes draft guidance for such authorities.
Three extracts from the guidance document may be of interest to home and small business users:
no action can be taken against vehicle bodyshops for using non-compliant paints (unless they consume enough solvent to require a permit [>1 tonne/year in England and Wales, >2 tonnes in Scotland])
In relation to vehicle refinishing products, the 2005 Regulations apply to four-wheeled road vehicles only. Paints for motorbikes, agricultural vehicles and off road machinery (e.g. construction vehicles, train carriages) are not covered. However, vehicle refinishing products marketed for multiple uses must comply with the VOC limits in the 2005 Regulations if just one of those uses is the coating of four-wheeled road vehicles.
The Paints Products Directive says that a licensing scheme can be established to allow strictly limited amounts of non-compliant paint to be marketed for use for painting vintage vehicles or historic buildings. Because of the administrative complexities of setting up such a scheme and the burdens on those to whom it would apply, [it has been decided not to implement such a scheme] but to rely on local authorities taking a proportionate approach to enforcement.
Those statements, between them, say that:
it is the sale of non-compliant product that is regulated, not its use (if you have it, or can get it, you can use it);
the supply of paint for purposes other than road vehicles is not affected by the 2005 regulations (so a supplier may sell you paint for your light aircraft, or railway carriage, provided it is not labelled as also being suitable for four wheeled-road vehicles: once you have bought it see above); and
a local authority is unlikely to take action against a supplier selling non-compliant paint unless he is blatantly selling large quantities of it for purposes other than vintage vehicles.
This may not be entirely ideal, but must be far better for end-users than the licensing scheme that was proposed in 2007. The full consultation can be found at: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/paintproducts/index.htm and the legislation team will be considering the proposals at its meeting towards the end of February. Responses are due in to DEFRA by the end of March.
Not so very long ago, there was widespread concern that the controls on occasional sales (which include autojumbles) imposed by Local Acts such as the 'Kent Act' might be extended nationwide. We know the Home Office (as it then was) was planning to consult on possible new regulations in 2005, but those plans were quietly dropped.
At the time, we pointed out that the Kent Act is by no means unique, and we asked for examples of occasions when individuals or organisers had been inconvenienced (or worse) by the provisions of such acts. We had only one report, and that problem would have been resolved if the Home Office had decided to proceed with a national Act to replace the provisions of the various Local Acts.
Now James Fairchild, of the Transport Yorkshire Preservation Group, has raised a query that has shown that local authorities do already have some (but by no means all) of the powers that are contained in such Local Acts. Section 37 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1982 covers temporary markets and gives local authorities the power to demand that anyone organising such a market, and the owner of the land or premises where it is to take place, seek appropriate permission from the authority. There are exemptions for sales where the proceeds are to be used for charitable, social, sporting or political purposes, but some authorities still demand notification, perhaps using a relevant Local Act or ancient charter entitling a council to control markets as justification.
The purpose of such controls seems to be more to do with preventing unfair competition for traditional markets than anything else. Club events, especially if they are infrequent, are unlikely to be of interest to local authority enforcement officers as it would hardly be proportionate or in the public interest to take action on a modest event attended by a small group of people. A monthly car boot sale, on the other hand, would certainly attract attention. Nonetheless, organisers of club autojumbles or table top sales might be wise to check the position of any such event that they plan with the local authority.
Following the articles in the last two newsletters we have had a number of letters about the effects of ethanol in petrol and so we have summarised the main points below.
At concentrations of less than 5% there is no obligation for the petrol pumps to be labelled at point of sale, so petrol on sale can be 0% - 5% ethanol. Ethanol is hygroscopic so manufacturers should have been added corrosion inhibitors to it before blending with petrol. Ethanol changes the volatility of the fuel which although it can give a slight benefit to cold starting this is at the expense of increased vapour lock problems and hot start problems in susceptible vehicles. Corrosion could be a problem if inhibitors are not used.
Any tank sealant manufactured in USA should not be affected by ethanol (e.g. the Frost brand) as ethanol has been in USA petrol for some time. To be sure of avoiding problems customers should check that any such product does indicate it can be used with fuel containing ethanol. Many seals have a memory and may leak when introduced to ethanol when they are old. The same type of seal may not leak when new. Particles resulting from the breakdown of tank sealants and moving through the fuel system may also cause problems, although this would be for a finite time (until it has all been washed through). A solvent is available to remove existing tank sealant, Epoxy Remover made by Tank Cure. However the active ingredient in this product is methylene chloride, aka paint stripper, which is the subject of a proposed ban see elsewhere in this newsletter.
At present the number of problems reported is very small in relation to the number of vehicles which could be affected. We will be monitoring the situation closely and would like to hear from anyone who is experiencing problems, giving full details of the vehicle concerned. If the situation is seen to be more widespread than we will look into the possibility of further research.
This subject was raised back in 2006 but at the time no-one had realised the implications of the ban for historic vehicles, for example, only products containing dichloromethane (methylene chloride) are suitable for use on porous surfaces and aluminium. The most well known of these products is of course Nitromors.
In the UK the Health and Safety Executive HSE considered that there was no evidence to suggest that banning DCM would lead to a reduction in fatalities or serious injuries (the number of these being so small, or non-existent). It is now the subject of a Proposal for a Decision in Brussels. As the number of affected individuals within the vehicle movement is likely to be relatively small we have decided to link up with English Heritage, Fedecrail and Heritage Railway Association who have all made submissions. FIVA will also be looking at the problem in Europe.
At the beginning of January the Federation had one of the twice-yearly liaison meetings with the DVLA at Swansea. The meetings give us an insight to the workings of the V765 scheme behind the scenes, an update on DVLA news generally and are very valuable for maintaining a good working relationship.
The vast majority of clubs have renewed their membership of the V765 scheme, (whereby a vehicle may be reunited with its original registration number) and by now all renewing clubs should have received an acknowledgement of this. The next stage will be for DVLA to issue the new V765/1 list of clubs that are registered on the scheme, which is expected on the www.direct.gov.uk website by the beginning of February.
The question was asked: Has there been a significant improvement in the quality of applications? By this we meant an improvement in the inspection rates, and the supply of photographs or brass rubbings of the actual chassis plates, as well as the inclusion of a photograph of the overall vehicle. We do mention this in the DVLA article in nearly all our newsletters, but unfortunately DVLA are still getting some V765 applications where there is no recent photograph of the vehicle, let alone photographs or brass rubbings of the chassis plates. Also, some applications are missing the name and address of the vehicle keeper on page two of the V55/5 form. (The V55/5 form has the vehicle details on page one, and then on the reverse the keeper details must be added.)
It is quite understandable that the vehicle keeper might miss page two, not seeing it hidden by the carbon paper, as they have probably never filled in one of these forms before. However the scheme has been designed so that the form then goes to the clubs V765 certifier who should check the form for technical and clerical errors before sending it off, and in an ideal world would have already explained potential pitfalls to the owner. I would suggest that in some cases perhaps the club V765 certifier could fill in most of the form leaving the owner just to sign it and add the date of birth. So, if you are new to the role of a clubs V765 certifier, and are unsure what to do please ask us, the Federation is here to help you.
The scheme does rely on accurate information being sent in and each time the DVLA have to ask for extra information it does, of course, add to the cost of running the scheme. No-one has suggested that it has become too expensive or cumbersome to administer but if we can help the scheme to run smoothly then everyone will benefit.
I am not quite sure if we need to go as far as having some form of workshop session on the role of the club V765 certifier, but if there is a demand I am sure that something could be arranged at a mutually convenient time and place. Please do let the secretary know if this would be of interest.
There is no charge made by the DVLA for a V765 application (compared to an age related mark application which costs £55) and it is therefore quite reasonable that DVLA should look quite closely at a staff suggestion which will make the processing of V765 applications more efficient.
The suggestion is that if a V765 application is successful, then a copy of the acceptance slip will not be returned to the clubs V765 certifier, although any rejection will still be communicated. DVLA hope that this will save a great deal of administration time and therefore money. Any application should go through the system within four weeks, and DVLA anticipate that news of a rejection would be communicated much sooner than that.
The trial will be for six months, beginning on 1 March 2009. This timing will coincide with our next meeting with the V765 team at Swansea and the Federation would like to take clubs comments back to this meeting in the autumn so that all points of view can be considered and a judgement made.
Out of date forms
Also on the agenda at our meeting was the subject of out of date forms being issued from DVLA local offices. This has been brought to the attention of the DVLA local office involved, and also DVLA Swansea. I would recommend, that if possible, that forms are downloaded from the internet using www.direct.gov.uk website and doing a search using the form number, e.g. V765.
This is a topic that I have touched on before, but given a recent case which I have been made aware of, possibly the message has not got through. In the absence of a) an old style log book, or b) a tax disc, MOT, or insurance certificate dated 1983 or earlier, then the application rests on c) archive or library records, or lastly d) other documentary evidence dated 1983 or earlier.
Often where you have to resort to archive records, this could be the original registration records, which can have varying levels of detail, but they could be called a DVLA legacy record so DVLA can make an experienced qualified judgement, if they are prepared to accept that that particular record relates to that particular vehicle.
Where the original registration records are not available, and you are resorting to other documentary evidence dated 1983 or before, then it is more important that the certified copy of the document has a link between registration number and the chassis number. If that link does not exist, then the vehicle could well be allocated an age-related number.
At the end of 2008 the motoring and national press were full of stories about the scrapping of older vehicles. FBHVC is strongly committed to preserving the right to continue to use our classic vehicles on the road as freely as modern vehicles may be. We deliberately do not get involved with any matters concerning more recent vehicles, because this would tend to dilute our efforts and our influence. We are able to negotiate concessions from various requirements, particularly nowadays environmental requirements, on the basis that there are limited numbers of classic vehicles, and they cover only a low mileage. Similarly, the international body FIVA have been told by the EU that at the present level of historic vehicle numbers they are prepared to continue to grant concessions, but would be concerned if the numbers rose as a proportion. Partly for that reason, FIVA have raised the age in their definition of historic vehicle to 30 years. A corollary to there being limited numbers of historic vehicles is that the vast majority of mass market cars are scrapped, perhaps to be re-cycled, when their economic life as everyday vehicles is ended, with only a limited number being kept by enthusiasts to become classic cars, preserved examples of our motoring heritage. Specialist cars, produced in small number, are always much more likely to survive.
A House of Commons select committee, the Environmental Audit Committee, in its report on VED as an environmental tax, has proposed a cash incentive for scrapping old cars on environmental grounds. This has been supported in a paper prepared for the RAC Foundation suggesting an incentive to scrap cars that are 17/18 years old, the last tranche not fitted with catalytic converters. Effectively this is intended to speed up slightly what is anyway the normal cycle of use and disposal. FBHVC does not object to this in principle, but would be very concerned to examine the precise details of the proposal if it should be adopted by the government. We do wish to see a reasonable number of cars surviving to become the classics of the future, and we would be strongly opposed to any element of compulsion, if that were to be suggested. We should also of course object to any more widespread incentive that would apply to vehicles approaching 25 years old or older, and perhaps encourage the scrapping of what would be potential restoration projects or source of spares.
Drive It Day is on Sunday, 26 April. There are already many events listed on our website as well as pictures from past years and many motor museums are once again participating by offering special parking areas for those arriving in older vehicles.
Once again let's make DID a day when we think about those who are not lucky enough to have their own historic vehicles, and do something to give them a stronger flavour of what historic vehicle ownership is all about perhaps by inviting someone to, for instance, try the driving position or even offer them a ride. And for those who would like to give younger family members or acquaintances an opportunity to drive their historic car (and this does apply only to cars), RH Specialist Insurance can offer top-up cover whereby named drivers over 20 who have held a full licence for a year can be put on comprehensive cover for the day. This year however they can offer this to those who already insure their vehicles with RH, because of the high administration costs, and conditions will, inevitably, apply. Peter Best Insurance Services are also able to offer a Sons and Daughters scheme to encourage more young drivers into our historic vehicle world.
The primary aim of DID, of course, is to showcase the historic vehicle movement. Some have suggested that - in this age of concern about emissions - we are acting unwisely in encouraging people to use old vehicles: we disagree, obviously. The historic vehicle movement, as our survey of 2006 showed, is a significant contributor to society: hundreds of thousands of people derive pleasure from it, tens of thousands earn some or all of their income from it, and it contributes over £3 billion to the national economy. All of that depends on freedom of use: lose that, and the movement will, inevitably, decline.
To uphold the freedom we need, above all, to keep legislators on our side. Two things that always weigh heavily with legislators when they are considering new measures are, first, the number of voters who will be adversely affected and, second, whether the benefit resulting from the proposed measure is sufficient to justify upsetting that number of people. DID helps both: it shows the large numbers, and by making an obvious contrast with the other days in the year when it is rare to see anything over 20 years old, it shows how little historic vehicles are used. It thus demonstrates that restrictive measures will have negligible benefit on emissions, but would upset large numbers of people.
If your club has plans for DID, and would welcome visitors or participants from outside, do please send details to the secretary for inclusion on the website. Many clubs use DID for charitable fund raising activity, which is always to be applauded and provides an obvious public benefit to historic vehicle activity - do let us know which charities are being supported.
Ed note: The full text of the FBHVC newsletters may be found on their website www.fbhvc.co.uk.
by Richard Schofield
This is the story of the original building of EVH 273L, a Rochdale Olympic Phase 2. As the story began over 37 years ago I will have to be forgiven for any facts or events that the passage of time has caused to fade from my memory.
My family were car enthusiasts and as the youngest of three sons I was exposed to some quite interesting vehicles from an early age including Singer Le mans, Triumph Roadster, Volvo P1800, MGA. I was also a regular reader of magazines such as Popular Mechanics.
It was this publication that interested me, in particular the adverts for and occasional articles on Specials. I was intrigued how an incredibly staid Ford or Austin saloon of the mid fifties could be transformed into a sleek sports car such as the Falcon Caribbean, Ashley, Rochdale, etc.
My first real experience came with my brothers acquisition in the mid sixties of an original special. I think the body shell was called a Martin and was a very crude affair comprising a front section up to the door hinges, two large doors and a rear section. My brother lost interest in the thing and I took over, spending many happy hours trying to get the side valve engine to work and amusing my school metalwork teacher with my attempt at a remote control gear lever, which despite his serious doubts worked quite well!
I was too young to drive it on the road and it would have been quite a task to get it road legal, even in those days! Fortunately I had a large field and long driveway to drive on. The Martin was disposed of when college and girlfriend arrived!
My interest in fibreglass conversions continued and during my college practical year (I was on a
thick sandwich course) I acquired a 1965 Bond Equipe. It was sky blue and was based on a Triumph Herald chassis with a Spitfire engine. It leaked through the roof joint and the chassis was starting to rust badly but it was fun to drive and quite distinctive.
It was during this period that I gave serious thought to building a car. I bought a copy of the excellent
Guide to Component Cars (which I still have) and which interestingly features a photo of a RO Phase 2 on the cover. I liked the look of the Marcos, Lotus Elite (there is only one Elite in my view) and the TVR which were all featured in the guide.
I also bought a copy of a Fun Car component car magazine in 1972 (which I still have) and inside was an article on the Olympic.� I thought the company had disappeared years before but no still producing body shells in Rochdale and I really liked the look of it!
A phone call was made to RMP and a visit to the factory followed shortly after. At the time RMP were producing metal ducting during part of the year and body shells to order in the other part. It didn't take long to decide on an Olympic and I put in an order for a Phase 2 Shell, self finished in red.
The Bond was sold to finance the purchase of the shell and all of the other necessary components. I knew it would take some time to carry out the build especially as I was just about to return to college for my final year. At least I wouldn't need a car during this period as I used public transport for my daily commute to Leeds from Huddersfield.
The order for the body shell required specification for certain options, which as far as I can recall were as follows:
Phase 2 Shell red self finished gel coat
Engine bay standard width you could order a wider bay to accommodate a free flow exhaust but this reduced the passenger foot well. Looking back at the problems I had fitting the exhaust this was a mistake!
Front suspension Triumph based bonded in sub frame. For some strange reason I didn't order an anti-roll bar!
Rear suspension based on a BMC solid rear axle
The shell specification included:
Opening Perspex rear screen and rear side windows
Glass, winding door windows
Door, boot and bonnet locks / latches
Rear coil spring / dampers, trailing arms and brackets
Fibre glass built-in fuel tanks (!)
Adaptations to owners rear axle for trailing arm mounting
Shorten owners prop shaft (!)
I cannot recall the delivery time for the shell but remember the day we collected it. We hired a large box van for the job and with the help of father and brother we manhandled the body shell into the back, tied it down and proceeded cautiously on the M62 ( I think it was open then!) over the Pennines to Huddersfield.
We had a couple of garages and lean-to structures at my parents house and Dad graciously agreed to give up his (drier and warmer) garage for the build. The shell was carried into the garage and stood on two very stout wooden trestles as I remember about 3 feet off the ground which gave excellent access for the suspension works.
Prior to receiving delivery of the shell I acquired the front suspension and steering components which I had reconditioned and painted. The rear axle had been delivered to RMP for modification and I think that it travelled back with us in the van.
All of the metalwork, both new from RMP and reconditioned was stripped, primed and painted gloss black to afford some protection against corrosion. The RMP components were constructed from heavy gauge metal as I recall but I had this thing about rust!
The preparation of the suspension bits was easy but the installation was not! The front suspension went together reasonably well, the sub frame alignment was OK and the Triumph wishbones slipped over the sub frame bushes without much difficulty.
The rear trailing arms were tricky as I remember. The three sided brackets that bolted into the fibreglass sockets did not align well and I recall a couple of rather frustrating calls to RMP before I finally got them to fit. (see ROC 116 pp 21-25 Ed). I do remember not receiving the rear coil spring dampers with the shell, eventually picking them up myself from the manufacturer.
They were held in place at the top with three rather small bolts which did make me a bit concerned at the time. The fibreglass at the mounting point was fairly thick but gave little purchase for the nuts. I do remember checking these on a regular basis for tightness!
The Panhard rod was also a bit tricky to fit as the fitting at the body end wasn't marked anywhere and of course there were no instructions with the shell!
I had all of the brake lines made up in copper and installed these along with the pedal box, another heavy duty bit of metal but right for the job. The steering column was installed. I was never happy with the security of the column where it came through the bulkhead although in operation it performed very well. The handbrake was an MGA fly-off which bolted to the transmission tunnel.
With all the main suspension and brake systems in place I looked for suitable wheels to get a rolling shell. The only ones that fitted both the Triumph front end and BMC back end were Vauxhall. Not a perfect fit in terms of the central hub but once the wheel nuts were on and tightened they were OK.
(Wot, no hub adaptors? Ed).
In between the mechanical work I took a bit of time to find some decent seats and bolted them in place. I also did a bit of trimming and made a cover for the dash.
The rolling shell was ceremoniously lifted off the trestles and wheeled out for some pictures!
The engine was from a Ford Corsair. It was a 1500 cc unit and attached to its original gearbox. I stripped and rebuilt the engine and removed the remote gear change linkage, installing a short gear stick directly into the box. The engine sat quite a way back in the shell giving an almost perfect location for the gearstick and as I remember it gave one of the smoothest changes I have ever driven.
Installing the engine and gearbox was an interesting task. The engine was mounted on brackets that were bolted to the side of the engine bay where the thickness of the fibreglass was built up to provide a solid mounting point. The gearbox was supported on a bracket that fitted between similarly reinforced areas in the transmission tunnel. Although I did not doubt the ability of RMP to calculate the appropriate thickness of these reinforced areas I did add more layers of mat and resin on the inside of the shell just to be sure!
The garage I was using had very stout roof beams and carried the combined weight of the engine and box with ease. I remember with some clarity the day I pushed the shell out of the garage, hoisted the engine and box with the mounting brackets attached, and fed the assembly into the engine bay. This required the whole assembly to be tipped at a considerable angle to feed it into the bay and under the bulkhead. I remember this well as I did it entirely on my own! There was considerable relief when it was finally lowered into place.
That was actually the easy bit as when I got everything in place I found a rather large gap between the mounting plates and the inside of the engine bay. I didn't want to start laying up fibreglass on the inside and decided to pack out the gap (about inch on each side I think) with marine plywood plates. (The original Marcos was built on a ply chassis so it seemed OK to use this material I was a poor student after all!)
The gearbox bracket set the position of the assembly on a front to back basis and I set the height of the mountings by having the sump just above the level of the under body, to give it some protection.
Once in position, the bolt holes were drilled and the assembly secured in place. I measured the prop shaft dimension and RMP cut and welded a prop shaft accordingly (more about this later!)
I cannot remember the exact sequence of events from this point but I can remember building up the wiring from scratch, tracking down the original rear light units, modifying VW headlights, fitting the instruments, windscreen wipers and the ignition circuits, etc.
I located a cross flow radiator and a header tank and connected these to the engine with flexible hoses. It was clear that cooling was going to be an issue and I bought a Wood Jeffries fan (made locally) and installed this in front of the radiator (more about cooling later!)
The exhaust system was fitted but I had serious problems with the limited space between the manifold and the side of the engine bay. I had to fabricate a connection with a very acute angle and installed a section of flexible exhaust tubing to get a reasonable flow. (This was a mistake and the flexible tubing failed disastrously one day after the car had been on the road for a few weeks!)
With the shortened prop shaft installed and the requisite fluids in place I do remember the elation when the car started first time and was driveable even though it could only be driven up and down my parents driveway!
The next stage was to get it inspected and licensed. With all the legal bits installed and all systems running (apparently) well, I remember taking the car to a local garage for its inspection. It was winter and the roads were wet and slushy after a snow fall. As I drove the short distance to the garage two things became immediately obvious. The thing leaked like a sieve not through the windows or doors, but every joint around the wheel arches where the lay up was not solid. I arrived at the garage with dirty slush washing around my feet. Fortunately I had not fitted any carpets!
The second problem was a serious vibration from below. The cause was clear, the shortened prop shaft! The car passed its inspection but clearly more work was needed. Oh, and I nearly forgot the third problem, the two built in fibreglass fuel tanks leaked!
With the car back home these problems were tackled. Underbody putty was liberally squeezed into every nook and cranny under the wheel arches, a new Minivan fuel tank was fitted along the rear deck and boxed in with plywood, and the prop shaft was sent off to be balanced. The latter item proved to be extremely problematic and was finally resolved when following a call to GKN in Birmingham a brand new unit was installed. I do recall excellent customer care from GKN the new unit fitted perfectly and the problem was solved.
I was never happy with the self finish gel coat which had many holes and weak spots where the lay up hadn't bonded to the gel. I therefore decided to paint the car and set about rubbing down, filling and painting the body with my Dads old deVilbis gun. The results were not perfect but were much better than the gel coat finish.
Final trimming, carpets and interior details were completed, a Triumph heater was fitted, and the car was registered and finally usable or so I thought!
The car actually performed well, in a straight line. The engine was sound and the light weight shell made for quick acceleration and stopping. I realised I had made a mistake with not fitting the front anti-roll bar although it wasn't a serious problem as the car was so light.
The driving position and feel of the controls was superb even if I say so myself. I am 6' 2" and obviously set up the driving position for me. The gear lever position and feel was excellent, the MGA fly off handbrake fell easily to hand and the small leather rim wheel I fitted was just the right size. I don't think I have enjoyed a driving position as much in all of the cars I have subsequently owned.
The biggest problem was cooling. The W/J fan was clearly up to the job but the design of the nosing and engine bay did not allow for effective air flow. The radiator was also quite remote from the engine and the flexible hoses were perhaps a bit undersized for the job. The original header tank also failed miserably and was replaced by a unit from a Ford Transit. (Its amazing how these details are coming back to me!)
The most valuable instrument was therefore the temperature gauge! As I lived and worked in a hilly part of the county and used the car for business I was always mindful of the location of long uphill climbs which sent the gauge alarmingly high!
I drove the car on a daily basis throughout 1973 and 1974 and other than cooling issues and the occasional exhaust problem it performed reasonably well. I cannot recall any major disasters during this time but I must confess to hiring a car for my honeymoon in 1973 as my confidence in the car was not exactly 100%!
In mid 1975 I decided that it was time for a change and I spotted a car for sale in Sheffield that I really wanted, a 1972 TVR Vixen S3. I managed to agree a part exchange deal for the Rochdale and I do remember a warm summer evening driving over the top to Sheffield to exchange cars and stopping half way to let the engine cool down!
Driving back in the TVR was something else It was a great machine (for the time) and despite a few problems (it was a TVR after all!) served me well for a couple of years.
The Rochdale was certainly a great concept and it is a shame that it wasn't developed further. The monocoque construction was truly way ahead of its time and was extremely durable. It was a lovely car to drive and looked fabulous with its Porsche front end and E type rear photos I have seen of Duffy demonstrates how superb and timeless this shape is and how it could have easily been refined
I was delighted to find that EVH 273L is being restored and look forward to seeing her soon. Hopefully Russ Collins will allow me to drive her again!
This was sent to me by the cars current owner Russ Collins.
Tony Wright has the body parts for a Martin (but don't tell the local constabulary).
I am a bit surprised about the recurrent cooling problem, as I have never had any issues with my two Phase 2s. I suspect there was a blockage or an air lock in the system, as I believe there is plenty of air flow. The fan should only be necessary during prolonged driving at very low speed.
Following my discovery of Phase 1 118 JAC and subsequent unsuccessful efforts to find it a home I decided on a new strategy. I took photos and displayed them with basic details at autojumbles when I/we had a stand. I think it was at the Beaulieu September event, my first, at which I learned that peddling my usual collection of tired autojumble was not a sound strategy, that the Rochdale photos caught an eye.
Following a phone call at which basic details were given I posted photos of the car in all its far from glorious state. Subsequent phone calls indicated some degree of interest and a date to view was arranged for the following Sunday.
With a degree of panic and armed with a few basic tools and a stout tow rope I set about the mammoth task of freeing sleeping beauty from her long muddy slumber. If you remember the car had been left in a grassy paddock covered in tarpaulins for quite a few years with the front and back screens removed.
On removing the old rims, tyres and defunct batteries holding down the tarpaulin I discovered a previous sheet that had disintegrated and fallen to skirt the car. This removed, I then addressed the other problems. Firstly large amounts of plastic sheet had been left in the car to disintegrate, presumably the effect of UV light, into thousands of wet particles which had to be picked out by hand. Secondly the interior floor was three inches deep in murky rainwater. Neither feature added to the cars wow factor.
During bailing out I found several handles and vast amounts of slimy rotten flock carpet. The good news was that the boot, which was reasonably accessible due to absence of a rear screen, proved an Aladdins cave, as out came the missing door handles, the front and rear bumpers, spare wheel and various minor treasures removed prior to painting.
The next action on the plan was to move it closer to the paddock entrance. This sounds easy and could have been except for one problem the owners other vehicles, eight in all, with several in a similar condition to the Rochdale.
After attempting to blow up a tyre with a defective valve, a large Japanese bike was started and moved and a plan of action drawn up. The largest obstruction, a Peugeot camper, was coaxed reluctantly into life. It was ideally placed to tow the Rochdale and a heavy strap was attached to the front end of both vehicles. Following some camper wheel spinning on the paddocks muddy surface the Rochdale lurched from its muddy nest. Miraculously three of the Rochdales wheels turned, but the offside front cut a long furrow through the paddock grass. Wet and cold I decided enough was enough.
The owner decided he was off to the NEC for the National Home Show the following day but left a clear path for access. Sunday morning but no call from the potential victim to confirm he was close, then belated apologies, blamed on enormous queues guess where? the NEC.
We met on the M50 and drove the 20 miles into the Forest of Dean to its motoring Valhalla. This time I took a small trolley jack and soon had the frozen wheel off. I was amazed when the drum came off easily revealing exemplary contents. Mark Lowrie, the intended, didn't appear overwhelmed by the spectacle. At one stage I thought that Mark might be returning home empty-trailered, but Richard Parkers elegant sporting styling began to shine through and fortunately he succumbed, lost the plot and agreed to buy.
Marks tow car dragged the three-drummed Olympic to a metalled road whilst I walked alongside steering through the missing windscreen. Sale now completed I wondered how the Olympic would make it onto the winchless trailer. At this stage I began to realise that Mark had done this before. The trailer was detached, two of the largest breeze blocks found and wedged in front of the trailer wheels, the ramp laid and a hefty strap attached to Marks tow ball. The flat bed two wheeled trailer was obviously designed to accept an Olympics wheelbase and track.
What then took place put me in mind of the circus act involving a barrel, a plank and an elephant. The really exciting bit is when you reach the precise moment before the brakeless Olympic rolls off the front of the trailer. To our mutual relief it didn't.
The photo shows Mark with the Rochdale on the trailer prior to departure for the frozen north. To his credit, Mark appears aptly qualified to own the car as he already has a Honda S800 and his partner in crime has the ex-Chris Lawrence Le Mans Deep Sanderson.
118 JAC with its new owner
(actually the number has been transferred to a new vehicle, so this car will have a new number)
I suppose that I have always had a fascination with cars. My father and grandfather ran a business together and hence transport in the shape of the firms van was present from an early age. These were pre-war Morris Eights and Minors, all well past their best. I remember my father telling me on one occasion that the latest acquisition, an ex Post Office Telephones Linesman Morris (now of course quite rare and collectable) had used a pint of oil during the first 10 mile journey in his ownership.
Upon leaving school I really wanted to be a mechanic at the local garage, but my parents would have none of it. So, I got a proper job and used my self taught mechanical skills on bicycles and building models.
However, by 1965, at the age of 17, I wanted to learn to drive. My father agreed to teach me, but didn't have a car. I saved up for several months and eventually bought a 1949 Ford Anglia for pound12. 10s. (£12.50). This was the first car upon which I carried out any serious work. The big ends were knocking and I purchased one new re-metalled con rod from the local Ford dealer and fitted it. I didn't do anything to the crank, so it is probably not surprising that it did not cure the noise! Nevertheless, it did the job and I was lucky enough to pass my test at the first attempt, but not I hasten to add in the Anglia.
Exchange & Mart was a regular purchase every week and the Specials section was full of complete Specials and parts. A cost plan was drawn up to convert the Anglia and I still have the details and the cuttings from E&M. First choice for the body was the Rochdale GT, with the Ashley a close second. I remember a green GT in regular use locally and I drooled over it. Strangely enough the Olympic was being advertised in the motoring press at that time, but I didn't like the look of it!
Eventually, reality kicked in and I realised that I neither had the facilities, nor the skill, to build a special. After all, amongst other things, I had no formal mechanical training and no garage. A succession of cars from 100E to Standards followed, £25 being the top price paid. All were modified to a greater or lesser extent from a full brush paint job with Valspar to a padded Fablon dash!!
By 1969 I was 21 years old and still a boy racer at heart. Current transport was a four door Morris
Minor, which had been progressively modified, in a mild sort of way, by upgrading the engine from 948cc to 1098cc and the front brakes likewise from the early 7" to later 8" versions. The wheels had also been replaced with widened 13" steels with radial tyres. The rusty front wings had been replaced with GRP versions, whilst the rotten sills had benefited from the same material. MOTs were obviously less strict then.
The firm by whom I was employed had an associated garage and the young mechanic was in the process of converting a Morris Minor pick up. This was to acquire a Wolseley 1500 engine and brakes, wooden pick up bed and Metalflake paint.
Not surprisingly I had similar ideas for my Minor and when one of the firms J4 vans was to be scrapped I acquired its 1622cc B series engine, which had been a replacement not too many miles previously. An advert in the local paper found a Wolseley 1500 being broken, from which the brakes and differential were obtained.
However, before the project got any further an article, written by Peter Filby, in Fun Car magazine was, in hindsight, to change my future motoring dramatically. This was a one off publication on kit cars from the publishers of Car magazine. I still have a copy of this publication and although not dated, it must have been printed sometime in 1971 (also see p9 Ed). The article was about the Rochdale Olympic and they also reproduced the December 1964 Car road test of the Phase 2.
The magazine indicated that, whilst Rochdale were no longer producing kits they would, if you talked to them nicely, sell you a body chassis unit for you to fit all of your own mechanical components. My earlier opinion had obviously changed and I liked what I saw.
I wrote to Rochdale Motor Panels and received a copy of their leaflet, noting that as well as the Phase 2 they could also fit a sub-frame to take the Morris/Riley front suspension. I was impressed, here was effectively a rust free Morris Minor based sports car. However, reality eventually dawned again. Was I really up to building a complete car in the back garden, without any form of cover?
Fate then stepped in the shape of a 1962 Phase 1 Olympic advertised for sale in Exchange & Mart, and only 15 miles away. Up to this point I had never seen an Olympic in the flesh, so had to at least have a look.
It was a very standard Phase 1, finished in VW Orange, with only the odd crack and craze. Mechanicals were standard Riley 1.5. The owner, his wife and large dog had just returned from a two-week holiday touring Wales, so I reasoned, it must be reasonably reliable. Whilst I tried to be objective I think that I had decided to buy it even before I saw it, and the deal was done. £190 changed hands and I was the owner of 9557 LJ.
Photo provided by the original owner of my Olympic, taken at Shoreham Airport in 1962
(where the original owner worked)
This price included a new exhaust system, which had been recently obtained from RMP, but not fitted. The speedometer was reading just over 48,000 miles, which I was to subsequently learn, many years later, from the original builder was probably the second time around as he had done over 60,000 miles during his three and a half year ownership.
The first problem was soon to appear. My existing insurance broker couldn't find a company that would insure such an unusual car. So, whilst I searched, the Minor continued to be used as daily transport. Eventually an advert in Cars & Car Conversions produced a company that would provide the necessary cover and we were mobile. This would have been 1972.
The Olympic was a revelation after previous cars and became daily transport, although the Minor was not disposed of immediately.
By co-incidence a change of employment led to meeting another Olympic owner, Dave Kilner, who just happened to work at the factory next door to my new office. Dave had owned 564 CBL for about five years then and had fitted an Alfa Romeo engine. As a co-incidental aside Dave owned his Olympic for a further three years and then subsequently re-acquired it in 2001 from Tony Stanton. In between times he had acquired 886 WTF, another Phase 1, about which more anon.
For the next two years I used the Olympic as daily transport, including business use. Any work necessary was carried out as and when required in the evenings or at the weekend. One of the first modifications was to cut out the rear wheel arches so that the ex Minor wide wheels and tyres could be fitted to replace the ageing Pirellis with which the Olympic had come.
The car was generally fairly reliable, although a cracked trailing arm during one business trip necessitated a strip down in the office car park and visit to the local welder, before the homeward journey.
Fortunately my boss was an ex special builder and was amenable to the odd hour off repairing the Olympic and many hours in the office were spent talking cars. He had built an Austin 750 special, but gave up racing it when Mr Chapman came along and demoralised the opposition.
The Rochdale also received favourable comments from a Peter Cambridge, who rented an upstairs office. It was only some years later that I found out that he had designed the interior for the original Lotus Elite.
Winter brought a different problem. The Olympic would travel about one mile first thing in the morning before cutting out with fuel starvation. Eventually this was traced to water entering the fibreglass fuel tank
Reference to the MOT certificates indicates that I covered just under 17,500 miles in the first two years of ownership. When the MOT expired in November 1974 I decided that a fairly major rebuild was really necessary and put the Olympic in the garage. An MG ZB Magnette was purchased as daily transport and that became my pride and joy. However, that is another story so back to the Olympic.
It languished untouched for about two years, until comments such as that will never see the road again spurred me into action. The Riley engine was fully rebuilt by me and a brand new B series gearbox obtained at a knock down price. It subsequently turned out to be an MGA one, which didn't quite fit, so all the internals were transferred to the old Riley casing. A new dashboard and centre console were fabricated, to hide the Mini heater. A new wiring loom was constructed to replace the original spaghetti and several fuses incorporated.
It finally took to the roads again in June 1978, mechanically overhauled, but bodily multi-coloured, GRP, primer and filler. The following Easter I took a week off work to paint the bodywork. At the suggestion of my boss, who had progressed from cars to building a GRP boat, it was brush painted with two pack polyurethane yacht paint. One coat was applied each day, lightly rubbed down between coats, with a final coat of paint mixed with polyurethane varnish. After five days in the garage inhaling the isocyanides I felt distinctly ill, but fortunately recovered.
In 1976 I had joined the FSCC, which had just started a Register for Rochdales. Within a year I was persuaded to take over the post of Rochdale Registrar and my involvement with many more Rochdale owners and enthusiasts started. During 1978 I was persuaded to try a little mild competition in the Olympic and over a three year period entered a couple of dozen events, mostly Autotests and Production Car Trials.
The Olympic was still daily transport and over the next ten years was to average over 14,000 miles per year. 1980/81 was the year when most mileage was covered, rising to over 22,500 during a twelve month period and accounted for mainly by a girlfriend who had moved to Gloucester resulting in 300 mile round trips!
Zandvoort My first continental trip in the car in approx. 1980. The other Olympic (895 GBF) was then owned by Bernard Allum. It is now with Xavier de Vaublanc. The GT was owned by Dutchman Hans Jouvenaar and is now in Japan.
The Phase 2 (LYG 741D) was then owned by Geoff Shiner and is now owned by Brian Moore, Swindon. (It is the car that had the front cut off to replace the subframe!) Photo taken mid 1980s.
During 1982 a VW Beetle had been acquired, mainly for competition use, although it also doubled as a second car and the Rochdale mileage dropped to around 12,000 miles per year. Work on the Olympic was confined to routine servicing, although an annual check over and replacement of suspension bushes usually preceded the MOT.
The competition bug had bitten and in 1985 I acquired a second Olympic 886 WTF. The intention was to use it for Sprints and Hill Climbs and it was rebuilt with a tuned 1622cc MGA engine, disc front brakes and Vauxhall axle with limited slip differential. However, before it could be used in anger the loss of garage space resulted in the need to part with it. It eventually finished up in the ownership of Dave Kilner, mentioned above, who owned it until last year. It then passed to Roger Massey, who will hopefully complete the rebuild that started over 23 years ago.
Daily use of 9557 LJ was to come to a dramatic end in 1988 when the local plumber decided to use the rear of my Olympic to slow down rather than his brakes. This pushed it forward into the car in front, which happened to be my fathers. So both ends of my pride and joy were damaged.
His insurance company admitted liability, but we argued for nearly a year over the value and cost of repairs. At this stage the Rochdale was not insured on a classic car policy with agreed value. Eventually they came up with a cheque for £1100 and I agreed with a local body shop owner, who had repaired several Scimitars, to carry out the work for that cash sum. It was returned in Ford Signal Yellow.
So, at the end of July 1989 we were back on the road again. I had now acquired a lock up garage from an aunt and the Olympic was stored under cover for the first time during my ownership. It then became an occasional use car and the annual mileage dropped to under 2,000.
In 1996 the engine developed a rattle, which subsequently disappeared. This was very worrying, but I continued to use it for Club events.
A friend offered an unknown, but supposedly low mileage, Riley half engine and this was fitted to the Olympic. Taking the head off the original engine revealed a broken top ring, which had removed a small chunk of piston. Presumably the rattle had disappeared when these had exited via the exhaust valve! The engine had done 158,000 miles since I had rebuilt it in 1977, so I suppose I could not complain.
In 1999 I was persuaded by Paul Narramore to take over the role of Olympic Registrar for the ROC and another chapter in my Rochdale life was to unfold.
As an aside, access to the Factory Records, obtained by Paul from Harry Smith, indicated that the original owner, Ted Hann had placed his order on 2nd December 1961 for a Riley kit. It was delivered by British Road Services on 11th April 1962, but arrived damaged. There then followed much correspondence and telephone calls to RMP. Ted Hann had obtained a quotation from a local firm to repair the shell for £15. RMP thought this cost to be excessive and their letter makes interesting reading as they considered that £15 represented 10 hours work, whereas they estimated it would have taken them no more than 3 hours to complete the repairs as explained by telephone.
Eventually, RMP agreed to send a brand new replacement shell and this was dispatched on 5th June 1962. The original shell was returned and no doubt repaired and resold. I wonder who finished up with this shell? 9557 LJ was registered for the road on 1st August 1962, so its build up had taken about 2 months.
Not long after fitting the replacement engine to my Olympic a pre-MOT check revealed rot in the front subframe. The removal and repair of this was covered in a previous issue of the magazine. With the sub-frame repaired the car was back on the road again in 2000 and resumed its occasional use, mainly to various Club meetings, until the expiry of the MOT in June 2005.
Of the pre-Olympic Rochdales, I had always thought that the Riviera was a particularly attractive shell. This was reinforced upon seeing Roger Coupes excellent restoration. However, as only four were known to exist, this seemed a mere dream. Then in 2004 Rob Daniels decided to part with his Riviera. This coincided with the acquisition of another lock up, so the deal was done. Since that time I have concentrated on obtaining all the parts necessary for its rebuild, which is still some way in the future.
The Riviera as obtained
Back to the story of 9557 LJ. To date, since first taking to the road in August 1962 this particular Phase 1 Olympic has covered nearly 350,000 miles, surely a testament to both the original design and the original builder.
There is also more mileage to come as another major rebuild is planned to start later this year and I will cover the intended works and modifications in a later article. Be warned!
What a super story. I hope it will encourage others to write up their own Rochdale experiences. There must be a lot out there. Get it down on paper before OFT gets his scythe out and sharpened or the grey matter gets too slushy. - Ed.
Standing on the Westminster pavement outside our Ministry office we waved goodbye to Jock Gilmour, one of our senior surveyors. The rest of our group were indeed pleased that none of us had been given the task of driving the slow Morris Commercial 30 cwt van containing mountains of survey equipment all the way to Thurso on the northern coast of Scotland even if Jock had been given a two day start. Our party would be travelling by train.
It was 1954 and I had recently joined the Ministry of Works as a junior surveyor. This job in Scotland would be only my second outing with the team of surveyors and geologists. I recall that the train journey was fast up to Carlisle after which lesser motive power combined with hilly terrain cut our speed at times to a very frustrating crawl. Eventually, totally bored by the uncomfortable six-a-side carriage seating and the snail's pace we arrived at Thurso station and were met by a very large old Austin from our hotel, the Pentland.
From that moment on for three weeks non-stop we surveyed the old aerodrome site that was to become the Dounray power station. It was mid winter and the temperature together with a severe wind-chill factor was so low that we could only stand two hours outside work before it was necessary to come into the old flying control tower, our office headquarters, and attempt to thaw out from the minimal heat being projected from two smelly paraffin heaters before picking up a pencil to continue with the survey plotting.
Work and bed alone are no good for anyone and after working everyday in atrocious conditions for three weeks, a group of us approached Jock for a day off which we were happy to find was granted. I suppose many of us would have been happy to stay in our warm beds as a break from the cold tiring work but we were keen to see the surrounding countryside and a proposal for a motor tour got the vote.
Yours truly was detailed to find a large car and it was generally agreed that I should do the driving. The hotel was perfectly amenable to loan their large old Austin taxi for a small fee and on the Sunday six of us piled into the car and set off to drive east towards our nearby site. We didn't even make it to our daily workplace. There was a long climb out of Thurso and as we were near the top the Austin's big ends gave up. We coasted back down the hill and arrived at the front door of the hotel with all ends knocking merrily. Luckily we were exonerated by the hotel owners who admitted that for however many years the car had only travelled the half mile to the station and back and this was probably all that it was capable of. We were bitterly disappointed and several of the lads went for a walk. Not my cup of tea, I went to bed.
"Look Jock, we didn't really have a day's break - if I can find another car may we have next Sunday off to go sight-seeing please? Why, just imagine what people would think back in London asking what the area was like up North only for us to say we didn't see much though we had been up there for five weeks". Jock's kindly response was to say "OK, if you all put in an extra hour each day this coming week we could have Sunday off for the motoring tour". I was again given the task of finding a suitable car and enquiries with the hotel staff suggested that I get in touch with a Polish gentleman in town. "Get a decent one this time" they yelled as I made my way to the address one evening after dinner.
"That will do nicely" I said gazing at the sleek black Buick straight eight, "There will be six of us and we need a large car for a day's touring" A few pounds changed hands and I filled up the tank before manhandling the car back to hotel. I say manhandling because I found there was about ten inches of play in the steering. Tomorrow's drive was certainly going to be exciting.
Now that we had a car with visible oil pressure we made an early start and, as we breasted the hill before the aerodrome, we all gave a loud cheer. I found that if the road was flat there was sufficient caster on the steering not to cause too much alarm, but on narrow country lanes successive layers of tarmac had led to a high crown and this made it difficult to hold the car straight on the appropriate side of the steering play.
We had a few moments but with virtually no traffic and deep concentration I was getting by, not seeing too much countryside, but getting by. That is until rounding one particular left-hander on the racing line of course, the front nearside wheel slipped off the deep tarmac road edge and on to the grass verge. It now meant that I had to quickly turn the steering wheel clockwise to the other end of the play and jerk it to try to get back on the tarmac. If I overdid it there was a strong chance that I would shoot across the road and into the ditch on the far side. In fact I ran into the ditch on the nearside the poor brakes not really coming to my aid. The chassis was now aground on top of the convex verge which led into the deep ditch. Damn! What do we do now?. All out I'm afraid chaps and push like hell - I'll try to help with the car in reverse. The car simply wouldn't move. Exhausted we all sat down and had a fag.
Soon someone noticed a shepherd high up in the field and naturally I was nominated to seek help. As we approached each other the shepherd said he had seen the car run off the road and did I want a pull out young man? I was told to stay by the car while he went to fetch help. After half an hour we started to wonder about the help when, coming down the lane, we suddenly saw a Ford model A with cowhands standing on to the running boards. We greeted them like gods. The old Ford wouldn't pull the big Buick backwards even with us pushing and me coaxing the car so we scratched our heads and had another fag.
The farmer decided that we needed to have a ramp under the wheels and set about taking the adjacent dry stone wall apart. We jacked the car up while stones were laid beneath the tyre tracks. Eventually there were sufficient stones ramped to virtually level up the car but now the wall looked decidedly second-hand. Using the minimum of revs and receiving advice from all and sundry, I was luckily able to drive the car along the newly laid stone ramp and back on to the road. We all began rebuilding the wall handing stones to the farmer but after a short while he said they would finish off and insisted that we got on our way. Try as we did, the farmer and his men would not take a penny nor give their address for later written thanks.
I can only add that if ever you ever run off the road in Scotland, make sure you are on the road between Thurso and Wick, the Scots up there are real gentlemen.
The late Dick Cawthorne, a close, long-time friend and Wildcat member had just finished building a 14 foot Thunderball racing dinghy and kindly asked me to crew for its maiden outing. This was back in the sixties and Dick, as a civil servant, was able to obtain permission to launch the boat at the Sailing Club based at Netley on Southampton Water.
Driving along the A27 in my firm's 1200 Anglia I was following Dick towing his boat when, suddenly, a Police Lotus Cortina flashed past me and pulled in ahead of Dick beckoning him to stop. It turned out that they were unhappy that Dick's simple trailer had no mudguards. From the innards of the dinghy Dick pulled out a nice pair of timber clip-on mudguards and to the somewhat amazed Policemen we were soon on our way.
By the time we reached Netley the already windy weather now brought with it heavy rain. The Sailing Club members had decided that this was no weather to go sailing and were happily socialising in the Club's lounge. But, having come this far, Dick and I were keen to see how the dinghy would perform regardless of wind and rain.
The boat was rigged and Dick pulled the trailer free as I, already seated, held on to the tethering rope. No sooner had Dick jumped in than a strong gust of wind accelerated the boat like a rocket causing one of the rudder ropes to drag in the water behind. We really had no time to get organised as Dick leaned over the transom to try to recover the rope.
By now the dinghy was travelling at some speed and gazing forward, I yelled at Dick, still overhung, to hurry up, we were rapidly approaching the solid-looking hull of a large boat. Too late, we crashed into what was later described as the Admiral's Barge, propelling Dick and me forward violently. Built from chiefly 6 mm marine ply, the dinghy was no match for the heavy teak hull of the Barge and consequently suffered a broken nose.
Dick quickly recovered the means of steering and again, as the wind caught us we were off on a fresh course at high speed. This sudden and violent introduction to sailing Dick's new craft had not given either of us time to realise that we had not yet lowered the centre-board, as a result of which the boat would not turn sufficiently to avoid charging into the mud flats on the other side of the harbour basin. We were truly stuck. Dick ordered his crewman to go over the side and help free the stricken boat.
The more I struggled to heave and push the boat the more my legs sank in the evil-smelling mud; this was getting rather frightening but, before I sank without trace, another gust filled the sails and shooting off, I was just able to keep hold of the boat as I was yanked out of the mud. I checked to see that I still possessed a pair of lower limbs but I did notice that my sailing espadrilles had been claimed for posterity by the unforgiving mud. We decided that perhaps the weather was too severe to venture into Southampton Water that day and with such a fast craft and small basin at low tide we would call it a day. Many friends had come down in dribs and drabs to see the launch and, as we dismantled the boat and changed into dry warm clothes we heard the sound of what appeared to be a very loud Hoover.
The Rover-BRM that had competed at Le Mans earlier that year arrived in the car park containing Mr and Mrs C Bulmer. Charles, the Motor magazine editor who was, by the way, my wife's boss had managed to prise the car from Rover for a full road test and had arrived at Netley in some style. Unable to find the correct Club entrance and with no reverse gear he was forced to drive across unfenced but private gardens carefully avoiding washing on the lines and causing onlookers to stare open-mouthed at this 60,000 rpm creature from outer Camberley.
I must add that the previous day, the Saturday, Motor magazine's photographer, Paul Skilleter had come over to take some startling photo's of the car being driven on public roads and the highlight, I believe, was when Charles wife drove her Fiat 500 down Camberley High Street with Paul, standing on the passenger seat, and, through the open roof took film of the following Rover BRM!
As we all made our way back home from Netley, I followed the gas turbine car and though Charles was just rolling along, I enjoyed myself driving the hell out of the Anglia to keep up.
If I spent as much time on my Rochdale Olympic as I did trawling the internet then my project would have been finished a long time ago! Malcolms list of known early Rochdales is slowly getting bigger and the internet is still coming up trumps in dealing out a few more each month. The Early Rochdale Register is a valuable piece of history that is slowly growing and needs your continued support so that we can carry on building this library of information. If you think you have any information that might be of use, then make sure you get in touch with either Malcolm or myself.
Two more Rochdale GTs to add to the growing list!
This month I've managed to surf across a picture of a Rochdale GT not known to the register and was able to get some more information from its owner at the time. Now, trying to jog someones memory from 40 years ago doesn't usually deliver any answers but luckily the one-time owner of this GT, Neil, is very passionate about his cars and has written a little about every car he has owned in an exercise book. I'd probably lose something like that after a few months in my carrier bag filing system! Neil was not very impressed with the car when he owned it and only had it for 3 weeks, stating in his email It wasn't exactly safe! The registration number is DVR 14, it was based on a 1937 Morris 8 chassis and it was fitted with an 8hp Ford Engine. The colour scheme at the time was blue and yellow and it looks as though it had an E-type grille bar in the front! Neil remembers paying £20 for the car and �34 for the insurance; I wish my insurance was that cheap now! Unfortunately the fate of this car is unknown, like many others, but it's one more on the list and you never know what turns up out of the blue.
Malcolm McKay writes:
Interesting that it was built on a Morris Eight chassis, then had a Ford engine fitted - seems daft but it's not the first I've come across; I rescued an Autobee Pacemaker from a scrapyard in the Rainham Marshes years ago that had the same spec.
Tony Stanton passed on an email to me from a Mr Mike Capping. Mike was enquiring about moulds for a phase two Olympic and some information on Duffy, having always kept an interest in all things to do with the Rochdale marque since owning a Rochdale GT. It turns out that this Rochdale GT was not known to the Early Rochdale Register and has been added to the ever growing list.
Unfortunately I don't own an Olympic; I came close once when I went to look at a well-used yellow example in Birmingham around 1982/3, too well used to buy! I owned the Rochdale GT from 1962 to 1973, registration XWY 439. This car was originally painted in metallic silver (used to clean it with Brasso)! then when the paint wore off (surprise, surprise) I painted it in Dulux Dark Blue. I sold it to a boy-racer who wrote the car off just outside Otley in West Yorkshire. The car was originally built and registered in and around the Bradford area. It had an E93a side-valve engine, twin Zenith carburettors, Aquaplane cylinder head, 15" wheels etc. Very good fun and taught me the very best way to push a car! Always kept an interest in all things to do with the marque and will continue to do so via events etc. It is a shame this particular GT was written off, I'm sure this was the fate of many others though! With around 1350 of the Rochdale GT units being produced, I'm surprised more owners are not appearing with information about them.
What interests me most about Mikes reply is the fact he went to look at a well used yellow Olympic in Birmingham in 1982/3. These years are when the last owner of my car bought the yellow, well used Olympic from Birmingham that I now own; small world maybe!
XSK 297 was shipped over to Germany a few years ago and not much was heard of it since; it turns out
that this Rochdale is now for sale. The advert is located at the following website address:- http://www.wellssow.de/autodb/readpub.php?f=2&i=82&t=82&seite=
Priced at 6900 Euros this Rochdale is one of only six that are known to exist by the Rochdale Owners Club. The most famous of course is SUG 55, the example built and used for club racing by journalist/engineer Allan Staniforth, which had a tuned Ford 10 engine and claimed 90mph and 3540mpg. The Mark VI for sale is fitted with an 1172cc Ford engine and was built in 1955. As with most of our projects languishing in the backs of our garages it looks like the current owner has never really got round to sorting this car out! The advert states that it is not in a driveable condition and the engine and car need to be restored. Let's hope the next owner finds the time to give this car the attention it deserves! All the registration documents are available with the car and some literature.
The price does seem a little high, (a little high? Astronomical I would say Ed) but with only 6 cars remaining out of the 150 estimated that were produced, these cars are quite rare. With people looking for more and more unique cars to drive, I'm sure this will find a new home soon?
In magazine No 116 you would have seen the pictures of a fantastic renovation of the JW Lees Brewery Rochdale GT. I feel it necessary to include a photo of the latest stage of this rebuild as it is a credit to the owner/builder. I am in awe of the quality of this restoration and am trying desperately to get some more information for you all. Consider this photo as a sneak preview to a more comprehensive article. (I agree that the finish on this car is terrific, but it seems strange that it has the J W Lees livery here, but was plain in mag No 116. Presumably this picture was taken before it went to France. Can't see the French taking to the idea of British beer though Ed)
The Ebay advert said This is a rare opportunity to buy a piece of 1950's motoring and with only 7 surviving from an estimated 100 units sold this was certainly the case. I must admit I was one of the bidders for this car but, for the very same reason that Alaric was selling this, and I stopped bidding, was the arrival of more family (and the wife looking over my shoulder)! This Rochdale ST was never used, is unregistered and appeared at many NEC shows on display.
It offered a tubular chassis similar to a Halifax chassis, standard Ford wheels and a fluid cushion ride suspension conversion. There were also many Aquaplane tuning parts which are getting rarer nowadays. I must admit I am a bit annoyed at not getting the chance to own this car as I am a fan of this particular model. With my Rochdale Olympic project still needing lots of attention, I hope this car goes to an owner that will give it the restoration it deserves. EBay indicates that the buyer lives in Hampshire: has it gone to a Club member?
If a Club member has bought this car, do the decent thing and let James know - Ed
As there is a bit of space left on this page I thought I would pose the question which has puzzled me and many others: why, when there were so many GTs produced, are there now so few in roadworthy condition? I can understand there being few of the other types (Mk VI, ST etc) as they were never especially numerous in their day, but over 1000 GTs were sold!
I surmise that a Ford 10 based car is less well suited to modern driving conditions than the more advanced Olympic, of which there are perhaps ten times as many on the road. Are there any other reasons? Do tell.
One of only two Rochdale GTs known to be in the southern hemisphere has surfaced on a sales website (www.trademe.co.nz). This Rochdale GT is known to the register as FGC 282 but had been unheard of since 1991 and has not improved any since last seen! For the past few years it has been residing in a barn in Waipu, Northland, New Zealand and it requires total restoration. It has Ballamy wheels, 100E engine and 3-speed box with cable brakes. I thought I'd mention this in the magazine because I don't think the next owner will be bringing to the AGM! Hopefully I'll be able to get in touch with the new owner and see what his plans are for it.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye It is with great pleasure that I announce the Rochdale Owners Club Internet Forum well and truly active!
I feel I should put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to publicly announce the revival of the ROC internet Forum. The foundations of all motor clubs lie in its members and the ability to exchange prior experience, knowledge and advice between them is invaluable. There is a vast amount of information amongst the Rochdale fraternity and other ROC members need your fonts of knowledge in solving their Rochdale related problems! The internet has opened its doors for club members to ask advice and guidance from the comfort of their own home and the ability to put photos onto the internet assists in detailing handy hints and answering questions. The ROC internet Forum is thriving at the moment and the information and advice contained within it is invaluable. The more the ROC members use this service, the more the gems of Rochdale knowledge and history can be passed on to old and new members alike. Once you manage to register online then you will see a wealth of information available at the click of a mouse. Even if it's just to introduce yourself as a new member, some interesting history about your car or to tell us about your current project, it's all interesting to the Rochdale community. Go on, support your club at www.rochdale-owners-club.co.uk and come in and say hello. James Farrington
There has been a flurry of activity on the Rochdale front with several Olympics changing ownership.
is a phase 1 and was originally supplied to Boon & Porter, who were Riley dealers in London. The car was campaigned in speed events by Penelope Porter, the bosss daughter. I understand that Penelope possibly married a German racing driver. If anyone has further details I would be delighted to hear.
The Olympic has recently been sold by Simon Brindle and now resides in Switzerland with Markus Tanner, who I understand has an extensive collection of Classics.
I understand fellow Olympic owner Richard Disbrow was also involved in driving the car to its new home.
was supplied as an F Type Olympic, with sidevalve Ford mechanics and survived in this form into the late 1970s. It was then converted to more normal phase 1 specification, with subframe and Riley mechanics sourced from another burned out phase 1. It was then converted to wire wheels and later an MGB engine was fitted to replace the original Riley unit.
The car then disappeared from view for a number of years until discovered by Tony Wright about 12 months ago languishing in a field, covered by a tarpaulin. Just before Christmas I was informed that it had been rescued and despite its far from ideal storage conditions the engine started and ran.
The car has now passed to Mark Lowrie in Sheffield and restoration is underway. Hopefully another car will be back on the roads in the not too distant future (1 Olympic restoration year = 5 standard earth years Eds Law).
is a phase 2 that only came to my attention in 2005, when it was purchased by Mark Butler. The car had been off the road for a number of years with the shell full to the cills with water. As it was recovered the front suspension collapsed due to a rusted front sub-frame. Marks obsession with Unipowers has now got the better of him and the car has passed to Conrad Cunningham in Worcester, who already owns a phase 1. A full rebuild will be necessary.
is a phase 1 that has travelled the world during the last year. It was owned by Michael Parker up in Cumbria for about 3 years, but despite continual work Michael never seemed to be able to sort out all of the niggling problems and get it fully roadworthy. The car was put up for sale on ebay in 2007 and went to the USA. It then changed hands again and is now in Japan. I understand the current owner is a dealer, so no doubt the car will once again be with a new owner in the near future.