The committee was mightily relieved when James Farrington volunteered (?) to take over from Roger Drinkwater as Secretary. Thank you James, it would have been difficult for the club to operate without a secretary. Not only that but he has enthusiastically taken over much of the Early Rochdales work to relieve Malcolm. So double thank you. Please help to make his life easier by renewing membership promptly, paying the correct subscription and letting him know of any changes of address, phone number etc.
On the editorial front, I was dismayed to discover that the local printing firm I had been using for the past 12 years, and which did such a fine job at economical rates, had gone into receivership. I have found another local firm which, incidentally, has taken on some of the other firms staff, and this magazine has been printed by them. I hope you like the new cover design.
On the Rochdale front, my Phase 1 shell is gradually coming together (literally), as those who saw it at the Bristol Show will have seen. The only major repairs that remain are to the right side rear panel, which had obviously been in contact with a solid object, and the roof, which is deeply crazed. I am trying to complete the bodywork before starting on the serious mechanical stuff, in contrast to my previous Olympics. After that it's a new subframe, so that it is a rolling shell, and then the rest. Should be done oh, sometime, there's no hurry, I tell myself...
My roadworthy car continues to clock up the miles, having recently returned from France (see page 13 on). I shall be interested to see how my Phase 1, which will have no modern parts, compares with it.
It is noticeable that most of the Rochdales that have come up for sale recently have gone abroad; now over 16% of our membership is overseas. Soon we will have to have a Continental section! Whilst I am happy that that the cars go to where they are appreciated, it would be a shame if we Brits lose our appetite for our motoring heritage.
The recent AGMs have had very poor Rochdale attendance. Why is this, as we used to get 10 or more cars lined up under the Vulcans wing? Surely they haven't all gone abroad? Come on, get your cars out before the petrol runs out!
South Midlands Classic Car/Bike Meet 1 & 2
The second Sunday of the month in the Winter and the second Tuesday evening of the month in the Summer, at Britannic Assurance, 1, Wythall Green Way, off Middle Lane, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG.
There was an article in Classic Car Weekly stating that Health & Safety had been checking out these type of events, and if over 100 cars turn up you must have Public Liability Insurance, marshals in reflective jackets, fire extinguishers and a first aider on site and as we had a visit from a Health & Safety executive at the event on March the 8th 2009 and we get over 400 cars in the summer the event has closed.
So I guess once again it could be the case of bureaucracy gone mad or just another example of how you can't do anything in this world without the threat of being sued. That's my moan for the day.
The last Thursday of the month in the Summer at The Moat House Inn,
Birmingham Road (A435), Kings Coughton, Alcester, Warks, B49 5QF
Thursday 25th June 2009, from 7pm.
Thursday 30th July 2009, from 7pm.
Thursday 27th August 2009, from 7pm.
Thursday 24th September 2009, from 7pm.
STONELEIGH KIT CAR SHOW 3rd & 4th May 2009.
Thanks to the ROC members who brought their cars to the event even though the weather was not too good. On Sunday we had 4 Olympics, DUFFY, Tony Wright, Syd Bartram and Brian Whitby. 2 Turners, Nigel Taylor and David Valsler, Andy Winston with his Fairthorpe and Rob Daniels in his Shirley. Also we had Mark Butlers Unipower GT, a TVR, Lotus Elan, Reliant GT and 2 Ladies in a
Frog eyed Sprite Special, 13 cars in total, the best day yet since I started the stand (I lost 2 cars to the Bristol Classic car show). On the Monday we had DUFFY, John Porter in his Silva Edwardian, a Super Two, the Frog Eye Sprite and 5 Gilberns who were celebrating Gilberns 50th anniversary.
SILVERSTONE CLASSIC July 24th, 25th & 26th 2009.
In conjunction with the F.S.C.C. we have secured a designated display area within the Historic Grand Prix circuit at this 3-day event, and we are seeking further club marque cars to join us on display during the weekend.
Featuring 22 races, 800+ competitors, and 600 of the most valuable racecars and motorcycles in the world. On top of the mouth-watering line-up of races lasting between 20minuites and 1hour each, starring the very best single-seater, GT and Touring Cars from the past 80 years, the entire infield will be packed with more than 4000 classic cars showcasing in excess of 50 famous marques. There will also be a period funfair, air displays, trade stalls, live music, barbecues and more than 30 hot air balloons are set to fire up for their traditional morning and evening fly-outs.
To enter your club car in the FSCC/ROC display area please contact Tony Stanton on 01527 402367 or firstname.lastname@example.org and I will issue the club reference number to quote when booking tickets and Marque car passes. More race details at www.silverstone.co.uk/classic
CLASSIC CAR SHOW NEC 13th, 14th and 15th November 2009
I am pleased to inform club members that your club application for a stand at this years show has been successful. We are in Hall 4 stand number C102, close to where we were last year. Andy Winston, the organiser of the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club stand and I asked the show organisers if we could have our 2 stands side by side; that request was granted and the FSCC have the stand next door. The stand size is 49 by 13. This should take 4 cars, so has anyone got a reasonably tidy Rochdale that they would either like or be willing to have put on show?
Ideas for new and interesting material for the stand and the display boards would be most welcome. Also offers of help with stand duty on any of the 3 days would be most appreciated this would include a free admission ticket.
PLEASE contact Tony Stanton on email@example.com�����
Tony Bostock To many of us who learned about Specials and Kit Cars from reading his articles in Car Mechanics and Hot Car in the 50s and 60s will be saddened to hear that he passed away in March. His articles influenced and educated me and others in the ways of repairing rather than replacing where possible. It was always obvious in his writing that he was quite a character and sadly we have far too few of those people these days.
Allan StaniforthPassed away 2nd May aged 85 from a rare form of lung cancer. Allan built and raced a Rochdale MKV1 reg SUG 55 and a Rochdale GT reg VWR 555, in 1959 he wrote a small book on the Rochdale GT called Building a Gran Turismo Special which can be read in ROC magazines 50 and 51. He also wrote the bible for people building competition cars called Race & Rally Car Source Book which is still updated and in print. He also designed, built, raced and sold plans for the Terrapin rear Miniengined racecar and created the string suspension guide.
Tony Marsh Passed away 7th May aged 77. In 1952 he designed and built an aluminium-panelled lightweight special for hillclimbing, it had a tubular Dellow chassis made to his design, twin wishbone IFS, Austin A70 engine and gearbox, A90 rear axle and was registered YRF 167. In 1955 he sold it to Ben Bainbridge who drove it for 2 years before badly damaging it in a crash. He bought a Rochdale F type body and widened it with a strip down the middle to fit the chassis. Photos of the car on page 22 of ROC magazine 50. Tony Marsh went on to win the British Hillclimb Championship in 1955, 1956 and 1957 in a Cooper Jap and then he then decided to build his own cars and constructed a MarshOldsmobile, which was developed using such unusual ideas as four-wheel-drive under acceleration but only rear-wheel-drive in corners. He won a second series of British Hillclimb Championships in 1965, 1966 and 1967.
Robin Rackham Following on to my article Looking for lost Olympics in America I received this e-mail from John Rackhan, the son of Robin Rackham who owned Olympic Phase II, reg 5348 DK.
Message Received: Mar 25 2009, 03:14 AM
Hi Tony, just stumbled across your site. My father Robin Rackham had a Rochdale back in the 60s. I think he imported it to the USA. He died a couple of years ago but I have just found some old photos that I could email you once I get them scanned. He told me he had a hell of a time with the fuel tank fibres blocking up the filters. Was a Phase 2 in blue. Cheers,
John Rackham. Lartington Hall, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham.
In my reply to John I asked if it would be all right if I made a reference to Robin passing away in the club magazine? He replied yes if I added the PS: - get your Prostate checked out!
I also sent John a copy of an article his father did for ROC magazine Summer 1992; which John had not seen before (reproduced below).
THE TROUBLESOME OLYMPIC LEFT-HOOKER by Robin Rackham
In 1963 while finishing university in the United States, I took an interest in a number of kit cars that were appearing on the UK market. I had always been keen on British sportscars having owned a Mkl Sprite and a TR4. I entered into conversation with a number of companies including Gilbern, Elva and Rochdale Motor Panels. I was particularly taken with the Olympic's advanced design and the price of £850 seemed to be within my limited financial resources. I would have preferred a Lotus Elite but I recall they were in the region of £2000.
In the summer of 1963, my wife and I decided to make the GrandTour of Europe (in our Olympic) picking the car up in the UK and then taking it over to the continent. As I recall, there were two individuals who were running the firm, Harry Smith, and another chap called Butterworth who seemed to be the Sales Manager (they were partners. Ed). Anyhow, after three months correspondence, I eventually settled on a blue Olympic with the 1500cc Ford Cortina engine with a twin-choke Weber carb. We arrived in London in July 1963 and drove to the Interplas Exhibition at Olympia where the car was being exhibited. When I first set eyes on it, it looked superb, next to an Elva Courier an the next stand. It was the first left-hand-drive Olympic that Rochdales had made and as far as I could gather, was one of the few assembled by the factory.
The following week, we drove to Rochdale and met Harry Smith. The works were down a small cobbled street where they turned out the bodyshells. There was an air of pleasant disorganisation about the place with dusty old shells lying around the factory. Harry and his wife made us very welcome and after staying over night while the car was taxed and finished off (it was registered 5348 DK Ed) we set off for the north of England to visit my grandparents. I was reasonably happy with the car, although the steering was very heavy and the car reeked of a smell of glassfibre. It was, due to its lightweight and l00bhp engine, very quick. In fact, I never dared open it up, although in those days there weren't many roads in Britain that were suitable.
However a number of things started to go wrong with it owing to poor assembly. The windscreen wipers would only work when it wasn't raining, and I started to get glassfibre filings in the fuel system. This was to prove a real nuisance and every 100 miles I had to use an air hose to blow them out of the Weber. Also, with a full load, the rear wings would start to rub against the oversized Dunlop SP tyres that had been fitted. That was corrected by sanding down the rear body panels.
We then drove to Southend and flew the car by Bristol Freighter to Rotterdam for our Tour of Europe. Our panned destination was the Costa Brava, in those days a quiet backwater just the other side of the Pyrenees. The trip could be best summed up as a bit of a disaster with numerous breakdowns from such things as broken accelerator cable, bits of trim falling off and the perennial problem with the fuel system. Also, the suspension left much to be desired and could best be compared to a Formula 1 racing car. Anyhow, we eventually made it to Spain and I was quite relieved to leave the car in the hotel car park in Tamariu and take a well earned rest.
We eventually departed for home three weeks later and after fond farewells with our many new friends, we managed to make it as far as the main road before OUR REAR SUSPENSION COLLAPSED! A local garage managed to weld what looked like a box section and we set off at last for Rotterdam where we planned to ship the car back through the Great Lakes to Chicago. Again the car would continually break down but I somehow always managed to fix it. All I can recall is the hammering we took from Belgium 'pave' roads as we eventually made it to the Dutch border and dumped the car on the shipping company.
Two months later the Olympic eventually arrived in Chicago and in fact my wife went down to the docks to pick it up. Apart from a layer of dust, it was in perfect condition. With a friend who had garage workshops, we set about sorting out the faults. I had the remaining rear suspension suspension box reinforced and filters put in the fuel lines. I kept it for a year and once the problems were sorted out, I really did enjoy the car. I still think the styling was well ahead of its time and very pleasing to the eye. But it was just a kit car and I suppose I should not have expected the standard of a modern production car. With a family on the way, I decided to sell it with an advert in Road & Track in the late summer of 1964. I only got one response from a young chap who lived in Kansas. I remember he turned up with a dollar draft for $2000 and disappeared into the sunset. I hope he made it to Kansas.
I also found on the Internet this interesting article on Robin Rackham and Lartington Hall.
Lartington Hall is in Teesdale, a few miles west of Barnard Castle. After Mrs Field's death, the hall stood empty and unwanted for six years until the arrival of Robin Rackham, a council house lad from South Shields. Robin had become an airline pilot, bought a house in Romaldkirk - two villages up the dale - formed the Teesdale Buildings Preservation Trust in 1976, tangled (and by no means alone in that) with a council planning officer called Michael Pease and, finding no one rash enough to take on Lartington Hall, vowed to preserve it himself. "Only a fool would do it," advised Frank Stephenson, his solicitor. He was given the keys, though hardly a present, on Boxing Day 1979. Robin's autobiography, just published, is called Defining Moment and is chiefly about his airborne exploits. (Defining Moment, an engaging and eye opening account of life on the wing, is published by Lartington Music and Media, Lartington, Barnard Castle, Co Durham DL12 9BW and is also available from Ottakars - £9, plus £1.70 postage).
It could as easily have been called By the Seat of My Pants, though some other flier may have thought of it first. There's the story of how he was ejected from the USAF, how a fitter who went for lunch and forgot to finish the job almost cost the lives of 200 passengers and of the holiday flight co-pilot from Newcastle still drunk after a bottle of brandy the night before. "Poor Sven," recalls Robin, retired at 64. He had to go into a clinic after that". Both Robins father and grandfather, curiously, were pilots for the Port of Tyne, his grandfather one of 19 killed when the pilot cutter hit a Tyne estuary mine in 1916. Young Robin was sent - "dumped" - to a cheerless boarding school at Whitworth, near Spennymoor then back, little more joyfully, to Shields. "For me South Shields will always be remembered as a dreary and a lonely place," he concedes. His parents emigrated to America, where he joined the USAF until getting into a pretty fearsome tail spin and then flew commercially for ten companies, only one of which is still in the air. "Most have gone bust so I can say what I want," he says. "There's no glamour to being a pilot; the working conditions are horrendous. Some of the low cost carriers just drive you into the ground and you'll be hearing the pips squeak. I'm very glad to be out of it. What other profession places two men in a dehydrated aluminium tube for endless hours and with little respite from the boredom save for the odd call of nature". The routine, of course, is now steered by computer
Back to earth, he and his wife Claire have spent £400,000 of their own money and rather more of English Heritage's on restoring the 400-year-old, Grade II* listed building. Re-roofing alone took three years. The ballroom is now a recording studio, the chapel houses a squash court (to Mr Pease's considerable chagrin) and the garden ("a veritable jungle") has been wondrously restored by Mrs Rackham. The family lives in the former servants wing, the rest of the hall is let to large groups for weekend breaks (we could have our AGM here). It sleeps 30 people and costs £2,850 for a three-night weekend, on a self-catering basis).
And a little note to end on :- There's a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness"
How about this: A woman will worry about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife (HRG Gazetteer)
You may recall that this show was re-scheduled from February due to icy weather. Although the weather on May 2-4 was hardly tropical, it was a pleasant change to have the longer daylight. The theme of the show was Before and After, so yours truly took the opportunity to show off his rather tatty Phase 1 in bodyshell form as an example of the former, and Nigel Whittakers splendid Phase 1 as an example of the latter.
We were chuffed when Nigels car received a Highly Commended rosette from the organisers. The engine bay in a Phase 1 is not usually a thing of beauty, but Nigels showed how the usual drab appearance can be transformed by the fitment of an Alfa twin cam engine and much attention to detail in the surrounding panels, wiring etc. An example to us all and the subject of much attention.
I showed my car tilted at about 60% using the rotisserie I use for easy access underneath and this arrangement also came in for its share of attention, as it enables one to view the parts normally out of easy sight and displayed the Phase 1's unusual underside (together with sundry repairs all too visible).
I would recommend this rotisserie for anyone contemplating serious work to the shell of an Olympic. It pivots on two bearings, the front being fixed to a piece of plywood bolted firmly in the radiator aperture, and the rear being a piece of tubing passing through the reversing light hole. Ideally, this hole needs to be reinforced or otherwise protected from damage mine started cracking, which needed remedial action later. These bearings are supported on two steel tube frames and the pivot points enable the shell to be turned very easily by hand.
Back to the show. It was held over three days this time (and also clashed with Stoneleigh, which was a great pity). Attendance on the Saturday and Sunday was very good, with a steady stream of visitors and we even had a new member joining! Hello Adrian. Monday was a bit dreary and much quieter.
As usual this show contrasts with that at the NEC, being small and somewhat laid-back and access to the halls for setting-up a doddle. Our regular B&B also adds to the holiday atmosphere.
Thanks as usual to Derek Bentley for sterling assistance and providing the tow car and to Nigel for bringing his Olympic. Also to Alaric, Colin, Roger and Guy for stand assistance. Our usual helper Tony was on Stoneleigh duty sorry we were not able to help there.
For me it was a very disappointing weekend. Where were the Wildcat enthusiasts? On the Sunday, the only representation of our Club was the never-ending support of Dave and Jacqui Crabb and one other member, David Searle. Joining us on our plot were four E type Challengers and the rare 4x4 Challenger. The weather was sunny and pleasant so why did we not receive more support? I even brought a tent but there was no point in erecting it.
As normal, the Crabbs and I stayed locally overnight and though I was the sole member to return to the site on the Monday the only other Wildcat that arrived and which I just missed (having left early) was that of Paul Johnson. Paul had returned from his visit to New York that very morning and come straight over from his Birmingham home. Finding just two Challengers present on our plot and with a damp day he left shortly afterwards similarly disappointed.
Though the two main Exhibition buildings stocked the popular kits such as Ultima, Westfield, Pilgrim and Locost together with tools and accessories, the old sheds, where the more basic parts are on sale, were very barren. I would estimate that a third of the usual exhibitors were absent and the resultant width of the isles between the trade stands clearly showed this. It would appear that the lack of traders is down to lack of sales and possibly the cost of rented space but this must have originated from the SVA/IVA government tests which we all know has hit the Kitcar industry hard. I suspect that only kit manufacturers who guarantee a pass with the current IVA if the kit is bought as sold for this purpose are likely to succeed, though with notably reduced sales. It also means that the days of the Special builder are virtually finished with having to adhere to so many rules and regulations several of which are nonsense in my humble opinion and do not relate sensibly to safety measures at all.
We now have a potentially serious future for the kit manufacturers not helped by the credit crunch. For anyone wishing to own a kit car from now on, the obvious policy would be to buy a second-hand vehicle which already has registration. I'm sure many people will do this and not unaturally this will add to the woes of the industry trying to sell new kits.
One other point that arose at Stoneligh and is worth mentioning. Dave Crabb and Jacqui had an official pass for entry to the site but were stopped at the entrance and asked to pay £24. Dave pointed to the pass if it had not been noticed and paid the £12 for Jacqui to get in. A similar case was experienced with others we spoke to and I would hate to think that the gate-staff were trying it on.
Now, as a member of the Rochdale O.C. I dropped in to see the Historic Specials site on the Monday morning and had a chat with stalwart Tony Stanton as fine rain came down and joined a cool breeze across the park. Another quick look around the Show and I decided that it was time to drive home.
I left, as I mentioned, early because of the poor attendance, less to see and buy and of course the weather that had deteriorated.
I don't view the future at Stoneleigh with very much confidence and as I write I have doubts that I will return next year.
CNK 210B is a phase 2 Olympic with an interesting history. The description of its original build was written up in the February 1965 edition of Motor Sport. The article was written by L.A.M, who was the original builder and a photographer for that publication. However, until recently I have never known his identity. More on that later.
An article on the build-up of the same car also appeared in the 7th April edition of Motoring News. Whilst I have a copy of the latter publication it is in poor condition and if anyone can supply a better one I would be grateful. The Rochdale was replaced with an MGB and drew some interesting comparisons, namely The MGB feels like a tank after the quick tightness of the Rochdale.
The Olympic then passed to a Robert Trier and was involved in a major accident. Robert ordered a new shell from RMP, with the idea of transferring over all the mechanical components. However, this was never achieved and the shell and remains were sold at the 1992 Stoneleigh Kit Car Show. Steven Carr was then custodian of this kit of parts until his untimely death in 2004, whereupon they passed to Les Brown.
When the Club heard that Les wished to part with the still unused shell it was decided that this would be an ideal candidate from which to have some repair moulds made. This process is currently underway with Smith & Deakin in Worcester.
Now back to the original builder, the elusive L.A.M. A note in the FSCC magazine brought a response from Turner owner Andrew Marriott, who was able to tell me that this is Laurie Morton, who was a photographer for both Motor Sport and Motoring News. Furthermore, Andrew had been with Laurie the previous week and was able to give me current contact details. Hopefully there will more information to come from this source soon. Watch this space.
Two years ago I was approached at the Bristol Show by a Richard Tapson from Bath. He told me that he had owned a phase 1 Olympic from 1965 to 1972 and wondered if it still existed. He remembered the registration as 81 XPH, but consulting the Register I had no record of the car.
That was the way it stayed until a few weeks ago when I received an email from Malcolm McKay, telling me that a friend, Don Mitchell, had just recovered an Olympic from a commercial scrapyard in Buxton, Derbyshire. Don then sent me some photos, which shows it still wearing its registration number 81 XPH.
It would appear that the car is complete, but from the condition, could have been there for upward of 20 years, to the extent that all four wheels had rusted through and a forklift was needed to load it onto the trailer. There appears to be no accident damage, so one wonders why it was scrapped.
From the engine number it would appear to have a 1622cc Oxford/Cambridge engine, but fitted with twin SUs. Hopefully more information will appear in due course, but at least one more Olympic has been saved. What is very embarrassing is that I seem to have mislaid Richard Tapsons contact details. I was hoping that he may have come to this years Show, so I could pass on the details, but no such luck.
Ex Olympic owner, now Unipower and Ogle king, Mark Butler was recently talking to someone who remembers another Olympic being in a scrapyard in the Wolverhampton area until fairly recently. He is attempting to find out more.
Talking of the Bristol Show, the ROC had a stand at the rescheduled Show over the May Bank Holiday weekend, the original in February having been cancelled at the last moment due to ice and snow. The theme was before and after, and to this end Alan Farrers phase I shell, 279 CWD currently undergoing a ground up restoration, was the before. This produced an extraordinary amount of interest from the general public, but unfortunately no new leads.
The after was represented by Nigel Whittakers phase 1, 7830 TD, which now features a 1300cc Alfa Romeo engine in place of the original A series. The car was immaculately presented, even though the major body rebuild works were completed some years ago and the car deservedly won a Highly Commended rosette from the organisers. I also understand that one of the Monthly Classic magazines want to do an article on the car.
I understand from reading one of the other monthly magazines that the organisers intend to retain this May date for next year. This is good from the point of view of those manning the stand as the weather is more clement, but unfortunate that it clashes with the Stoneleigh Show into which Tony Stanton is putting much effort.
I see from ebay that Robert James has sold his phase 1 Olympic, 590 MTT. I know that Robert had started the rebuild, but there was still someway to go. This was the Olympic I rediscovered in a garage in Kent back in 2007, where it had been, unused for some 20 years. The car has a new owner, Claude Jaumoillie who lives at Baurech in France.*
A further email from Malcolm was to tell me that he was putting his complete classic collection up for sale. This includes three Rochdales, two Olympics and one GT. They will be auctioned by H&H at their Buxton sale on 10th June. They can be seen on www.handh.co.uk. (probably over by the time you read this Ed)
The latest Farrer/Bentley escapade to la belle France was to the Pau Historic Grand Prix. Planet Rochdale was re-kindled with no fewer than seven owners and partners taking over the town centre restaurant. No doubt a fuller report will appear elsewhere. Needless to say Alans Olympic performed faultlessly for the 1100 mile round trip and returned nearly 40 mpg even when cruising at the statutory 130 kph speed limit.
* (Although I received the information from Roger about Claudes purchase before leaving, if only I had been awake I might have noticed that Baurech is close to Bordeaux, which we passed on the way to Pau. Another time maybe... Alan)
I can't remember who suggested the idea, but having done Le Mans and Angoul me it seemed like a good idea for Planet Rochdale to venture even further south for more Motorsport la Fransais. Pau is only just in France, being close to the border with Spain and with the snow-capped Pyrenees easily visible. The historic GP races take place on the original (more or less) GP street circuit, ie all Armco and no run-off, so pretty daunting I should imagine.
On the first night I had a dream... Je vous en prie ne pas mentionner la guerre.
Planet Rochdale, comprising Herr Dr.-Ing. & Frau Breakspear with both heavy transport and a light scout car, Sappers Bentley and Farrer of the West Sussex regiment in the rapid deployment vehicle, Ben (Biggles) Bettell in the heavy SS armoured car and Sqd. Ldr. N Whittaker with WAAF J Devons providing air cover, approached the target stealthily.
The plan was to attack Pau in a classic pincer movement, with the Brits approaching on a wide front from the north, south and north west and the German convoy from the north east. The latter agreed to open the attack and set up camp to the east, where they would be reinforced by the British amphibious contingent, the remaining Brits coming by overland and air direct to the very heart of the city. This was achieved without casualties. We were somewhat surprised by the casual attitude of the defence, the expected roadblocks failing to materialise, and on the planned P-day we were able to advance to the inner reaches of the town without opposition. All rather disappointing...
- 13 -
... Back on Planet Earth we learned that the number of entrants was well down on previous years. There had been confusion over pricing eg initially £2000 falling finally to £800. Presumably this put off early applicants, though clashing with a similar event at Brands Hatch didn't help to bolster British applicants either. Spectator fees had also fallen over time and the thinness of fields and watchers was apparent.
The experience for spectators was a mixed affair; the grandstands afforded a good view, although there were no big screens as we had expected, and viewing was also possible at various locations around the town, but getting from one location to another involved a lot of leg work, much of it uphill as the town is built on the side of a hill (like Angoulme) so one half of the circuit is about 30m above the other. A couple more spectator bridges over the circuit would have been nice.
While I am having a gripe, there was an enormous amount of empty space within the circuit and in the town just outside the circuit that could have accommodated spectator cars, with areas designated for classic cars. As it was, parking was a hit and miss affair. No account seems to have been taken of the punters. You just had to walk, so it was as well that the weather was not hot. We were left with the impression that the organisers and/or the town were not very interested with staging the event anymore and it is unlikely they covered their costs. If only Lord March had been in charge...
The racing: categories covered FJ, pre-war and post-war open-wheelers, sports cars and saloons. The racing as always was keen and there were remarkably few crashes thank goodness, I imagine the unforgiving nature of the circuit being a deterrent to rash behaviour. A familiar orange FJ car heralded the appearance of one-time ROC member Duncan Rabagliati who has resolved the fragile halfshaft problems that have beset him in the past (special strengthened halfshafts).
The saloon racing saw the usual exuberant Minis with wheels aloft even when the drivers were waving to the crowd. These were immaculately prepared, with absolutely no sign of hard racing behind them when back in the paddock. One even had its original passenger and rear seat in place (not the original passenger just the seat). The anti noise-abatement trophy went to a 12 cylinder Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta. The 1949 Skoda 1101, an 1100cc sports car and the oldest contestant in the category, impressed with its speed and serene progress. We were disappointed not to see the FWD Bond Junior FJ car in action that had looked so interesting in the paddock.
Other cars that caught the eye were an Amilcar with a beautiful supercharged 1500cc 6-cylinder engine and an ERA B-type with a supercharged 1500cc 6-cylinder engine that thumped all the Bugattis. Colin Breakspear discovered it ran at 2 bar and produced 200BHP. Not bad for a 72 year-old; I wish I were as sprightly.
Nigel and Jane were treated to a ride round the circuit in a Mercedes course car. When I asked whether it was at speed Nigel said the traction/stability control beeper was working overtime, so I guess the answer was yes. It was only one lap though shame.
When the racing had finished there was a parade of spectators classic cars. Ben had arranged to participate in his SSS Jaguar, together with friend Andy with an Elan Plus 2. Derek and I were invited to passenger, so I opted for the SSS as I had not previously experienced its delights and Derek had the Elan seat. The parade lasted about 2 metres, then it was blast off. Ben did well not to let the red mist get the better of him. The highlight was getting lost! In his defence, at one junction someone (a marshal?) stuck out his arm so Ben, who had started to turn left, obediently turned right. Wrong! A seven point turn later we were back on track, thundering along, and even managed to overtake a couple of cars. The cavalcade was waved in after 4 laps, but instead of returning to the pits we were let loose once again for another 3 laps. My theory was that limiting the action to 4 laps prevented the leaders overtaking the tailenders a good idea on this circuit. I managed to make a video of most of one lap and if I can find out how to do it may post it on the ROC website or perhaps YouTube. Altogether a great experience, but one which reminds me why I would never have made a racing driver.
Jo'l Trolliet's ex-JW Lees Brewery GT
Now, as some of you may be aware, I am now going to take on the role of ROC Secretary for the foreseeable future. As I'm also enjoying learning about the Early Rochdale scene so much, I'm afraid you're also going to have to keep putting up with me rambling on about Early Rochdales on behalf of the Registrar, Malcolm McKay. It has been a busy few months on the Early Rochdale scene with a few new GTs coming to light and some leads found that are being chased.
BREWERY GT TURNS UP IN FRANCE!
You may remember reading a few magazines back about the JW Lees Brewery Rochdale GT that had turned up in France? This was a Rochdale GT registered 263 UXG, previously registered 55 FAU which was won on an eBay auction by J W Lees Brewery who were going to use it for promotion and give it away as a prize, eventually they seemed to lose interest in the idea and the car became homeless! In the last article about this car I gave you a sneak preview of the restoration and have since been in touch with the new owner to find out more about this stunning rebuild. Initially I thought that the new owner had re-sprayed the car with the JW Lees livery but it turns out that the Brewery had painted the shell but left the chassis in its original rusty glory. I may have led you all down the wrong path in the last article, sorry!
Jo'l Trolliet writes (translated from original text):
I'm not going to write to you in English because it is not very good!! About my Rochdale GT: I bought it 2 years ago from a Mr Paul Bailey of Sheffield and indeed it belonged to the LEES brewery of Manchester as you are aware. I am always working on the restoration and I think I will be repainting it with the colours of LEES Brewery. It is now 2 years that I have been working on the GT and it remains for me to still work on the doors and the bonnet and then final painting. I decided to restore it because the chassis frame condition was very bad in spite of a beautiful painting on the shell!! I ordered all the parts at Paul Becks Vintage Supplies Ltd [www.smallfordspares.co.uk Ed]. The engine is a Ford sidevalve 1172. The cylinder head is planed, the exhaust pipe is special and it has twin SU carburettors (the engine is practically remade to new). The rims are also special, I think? [Ballamy
15in Ed]. I will be widening the two back arches. I have 2 other cars, an Opel GT 1900 from 1969 and one Porsche 924 2 liters of 1981. I wanted another English car a little original that is why I bought Rochdale I am part of a classic car club and I do lots of tourist rallies. My club is www.3V.fr and I have some photographs of the restoration in progress. If you want all the photographs of the restoration, I can put them on CD and to send them to you by mail if you give me your address.
I am delighted that this Rochdale GT is getting the attention it deserves; this is certainly going to be a fantastic car when it is finished. If anyone would like to see more photos of this restoration then send me an email and I'll gladly supply you with some.
I was reading through my back issues of ROC magazines last week (available to purchase through me, complete that collection now and help me clear some space!) and came across the opening paragraph from the Early Rochdale Registrar in Magazine 60 from winter 1994. I think this opening paragraph is apt for this occasion so let the story begin.
They're still out there you know. No, not aliens, ghosts or poltergeists but long lost Rochdales. It's always a surprise and a pleasure when another unknown Rochdale comes to light
At that particular point it was for a GT registered 993 JAF but this new GT is just an apparition at the moment as we know it exists but not sure where! It started out with an email message from Tony Stanton stating Found this on the web, may be worth following up? The line he actually found was an entry in a Forum that read The AJS 500 was sold to build a Rochdale GT Ford Special.
Now this is where the fun starts for an internet sleuth like myself and I emailed the writer of this comment for some answers. The particular writer of this comment proved to be a very enthusiastic ex owner called Karl.
Thank you for writing to me about Rochdales. Yes, I did build one starting in 1957/8 and sold it in 1962. It had to go because I was getting married and it had shown a hatred of my future wife! Actually, most times when she visited my parents' home and it was needed to take her home it would refuse to start - only to be absolutely fine when I got back to it after sending her on her way by train.
The final straw came when I was moving her between hospitals - the Ford engine threw a conrod out of the side of the block. I still have that rod. I have a few photographs of it, registration was ERP 871 and the chassis came from a 1946 or 9 Ford 5cwt van that had been a milk delivery van in Northampton where the body had been written off. The cab and front end were undamaged and I sold those parts on. I sold the car to a friend, Colin March, in Croydon from whom I've not heard for some time so I don't know its fate. The rear axle assembly I modified by removing the torque tubes to lower the floor - this led to a succession of rear half shaft failures because the rivets securing the half shaft casings to the diff housing sheared. That axle was finally removed and buried in the car park at the old Hawker Aircraft factory at Kingston upon Thames. There may be some mileage with other stories - I fitted twin leading shoe LMB, Ballamy wheels, hydraulic front brakes and greatly changed the suspension - resulting in several steering problems when the front wheel steering attachment arms failed - only one wheel at a time.
I then forwarded this email to Malcolm McKay. He writes:
Thanks for letting me know - this is a fascinating one! For once, we have details of a car from a builder that turns out still to survive - and even more unusually, it's one not previously known to the Register!
Checking the DVLA website shows that ERP 871, first registered 24/04/1949, is still very much alive, licensed to 31/12/2009 and painted green.
So where is it, you may well ask? I wish I knew! I don't think there can be many currently registered survivors out there that we don't know about - sure there are some tucked away and forgotten, but not cars that someone is taking the trouble to licence annually - you'd think they would have been in touch with the Club. Unless of course it's lost its Rochdale body and had another fitted, but I doubt that - the GT shell usually outlasted the chassis, not the other way around.
The DVLA site specifies if the car is SORN or Licenced - this one is Licenced, so it's MoT'd and on the road - WHERE IS IT??!!
I forwarded Malcolms email to Karl, he writes:
How interesting, I never dreamt that ERP 871 would still be around. I do have a few pictures and colour slides but they will take a while to find. The bodyshell was self-coloured green but I was disappointed with the finish as received - I didn't rate the gel coat. It was given several coats of ICI 100 primer surfacer in grey and then professionally sprayed British Racing Green. If you look carefully the current owner will find that the front 16 inches of the bodyshell have been grafted on as a result of a shunt in its very early days. The rear end and nearside door also needed patchwork in my day.
He may find that the chassis has bolted-on extensions fore and aft to carry angle iron bumpers underneath the Ford Anglia chrome ones. The chrome ones are for decoration, the angle for self preservation around London. They were cut from my parents old bedstead that was chilled cast iron - very, very hard to drill! The seats came from the same Minor 1000 as did the engine for the Lotus.
When I was building the car I was working for Handley Page (on the Victor bomber) but left there in March 1960 to join Hawkers on the P1127 that later developed into the Harrier. When I left HP one of my more artistic colleagues hand painted a card as a leaving gift. It depicted my interests of the time - a very clear front view of ERP 871 with a shaky Scout hat on the roof, and a battered Tiger Moth aircraft in the background. I still have that, too.
As you will realise you've evoked many memories. Oh, and I have just one souvenir of the original van - the Fordson badge from the radiator cowl.
Karl then writes:
Arrived home last evening and scanned these 2 pics this morning. They are B & W and were actually taken just after I sold it in 1962. As I said, the new owner was Colin March and he took the pics. The "rural" one is, I think, just outside Bears' Wood scout camp site, near Addington. I can't guarantee when I'll find the others because my "piling system" is even more disorganised than usual due to re-decoration of my glory hole.
Absolutely fantastic, thank you very much for the great pictures. Malcolm and I think the GT looks best in a dark colour. Our only hope now is to find this car and see what stories the new owner can give us, like we said, it's very rare to have a GT on the road and as it is not known to the register it's even more puzzling. If you uncover any more pictures embedded deep into your drawers then let me know.
Thanks for your comments, James. Greatly appreciated. However, I don't keep pictures in my "drawers". Actually, you've made me think, from that time they'll be colour slides and I don't have quite so many of those and I've just remembered where they probably are. If you do find out who owns it and where it is I'd like to know. My wife, however, would rather not - she still has not-so-fond memories!
We moved to Lincolnshire in 1983 and there was a dark blue GT running around in the Sleaford area at that time but I've not seen it for the best part of 20 years.
I always felt that it resembled an E-type Jag (but pre-dated the Jag) but the Ford running gear created serious handling deficiencies. ERP 871 was converted to IFS (by a Trojan apprentice named John Wilks, whose father worked for Rover! I don't know if it was the famous Rover Wilks). I modified the rear suspension, retaining the transverse leaf spring reduced from 10 leaves to 3, and mounted on a form of twin roller set up with Panhard rod. After that it was improved but the split front axle beam caused some strange camber angles.
I very much doubt that my original, lowered, floor still exists. But that's another story.
On forwarding this email to Malcolm McKay he writes:
Great work, the more we get out of these guys now, the more reference we will have in the future when all the original builders have gone...
His rear suspension set-up sounds very interesting, much softer than standard and I can well believe that with that and the swing axle IFS he got some strange camber angles - there must've been very little roll stiffness unless he had a very hard spring on the front. An anti-roll bar might have helped... There was a proprietary anti-roll bar for Ford Pops, incredibly, but it fitted the REAR - useful on a saloon but liable to dramatically reduce traction out of corners on a lightweight Special...
Tony Stanton always manages to populate my Inbox with some interesting lead on the early Rochdale scene and it has turned into a bit of a competition between us to see who can find that elusive needle in the Rochdale haystack.
Tonys eagle eyes have this time spotted the Alloy bodied PMA 134 in a book that he bought recently about 1960 Sportscar Specials. To those of you not familiar with PMA 134, the story started when a friend of the Rochdale Company introduced Frank Butterworth and his friends to the joys of motorsport, in the form of the 750 Club. As a result, Rochdale Motor Panels started to produce a small number of aluminium bodies called the Mark II to fit the Austin 7 and other one-off competition specials. With the support and business the Mark II brought they were even able to field a team at the 750 Club's SixHour Relay race, which they won! It is estimated that 16 bodies in total were produced with four known survivors. One of these is the Austin 7 based car that Tony managed to spot in a photo of it competing in the National Six-Hour Relay Race at Silverstone in 1959. I believe this car is still being raced having started its career some 50 years ago. This is a request to all you ROC members out there to keep your eyes peeled. That elusive piece of Rochdale history may just be loitering in the back of a photo waiting for you to find it.
This little story is a needle in the haystack in the Rochdale GT world as you will discover as you read on! It starts with a keen member of the Rochdale Owners Club, Howard Evans. Now, Howard, a Rochdale Olympic owner, remembered a friend of his owning a Rochdale GT and in the spirit of assisting the ROC tracing the history of these cars he decided to get in touch with his old friend Geoff Relph to find out more.
Geoff Relph writes:
Hi Howard, the version I had was previously owned by Campbell Dixon - whom I bought it off as a Shell + Chassis. I remember modifying the E93A chassis to a 100E engine and g-box, fluid brakes, and rear cart-spring suspension. I got it going and MoT but it was in truth very unfinished - the dashboard was a plank with holes in it! The car used to supply the 100E parts was scrapped UXW 669, my first ever car! I still have the numberplate we took off when we took it to the local scrapyard. I sold it to a local (Crewe) guy (seemed old to me at the time - but I think in 40s/50s). I saw it the following year and he had finished it off into a very tidy car. It was sprayed white at the time and finished off well. Then, this month a Rochdale GT appeared on eBay that was known to the ROC but had a sketchy history, HJX 556. This particular GT sold for £1600 and was located on the Isle of Anglesey. Once this Rochdale had sold I decided to put a picture of the car on my Rochdale Rebuild website (www.rochdaleproject.co.uk a little plug!). Howard Evans then saw this picture on my website and decided to send a copy of it to Geoff Relph.
Geoff Relph replied, Well well well! What a blast from the past It certainly seems like it might be the one I lived in Ilford whilst at Woolwich Poly in the 70's and sold it to a guy in Crewe about 1972-3. The key will be the fact that the chassis / brakes have been modified originally they were E93a chassis with mechanical brakes. I modified (with the help of RR) to hydraulic brakes, and changed the rear suspension to cart spring from transverse spring. The bonnet looks like the one the guy in Crewe made specially as he had to put a bulb in to accommodate the radiator header tank.
Malcolm McKay writes, That's excellent news - what a remarkable coincidence! HJX 556 is known to the Register and I can confirm that it has a 100E engine; I'm 99% sure it has the modified rear suspension that Geoff describes. It was an early GT on the road: that registration was issued in Halifax on 2 August 1957. Most GTs were built in 1959-60, though they were certainly available in mid 1957. As Geoff acquired the car as shell and chassis from someone else, maybe the previous owner first registered it... I had lost track of it for the last few years and didn't know it had been on eBay... I believe the car also passed through the hands of our ex-President, Roger Coupe, about 15-20 years ago - he might be able to confirm the suspension.
Following this I then sent Malcolm a copy of all the photos and information about this car that I had copied from eBay, which were then forwarded to Geoff. From this information Geoff confirmed that this was the car he used to own and added to the information his own memories and build notes.
Malcolm writes, Hi James, Well, this is amazing. With c1350 GTs built and c100 surviving, the chances of Howard picking up on the right car without knowing the reg (and with the colour having been changed) were incredibly slim.
Geoff writes, What a wonderful trip down memory lane, I can even smell the oil and steam from the engine........
From the clubs perspective, thanks to Howard we have added another owner to the growing database of Early Rochdale information and should serve as a reminder for us all to try and follow any information we might have in assisting the growth of this database for future owners. Hopefully for the next edition of the ROC magazine we will have some more Rochdale GTs to add to the register. Many of you will have seen Practical Classics magazine last month, a small picture of a GT bare shell that is in the barn finds section. Watch this space!
1. The Forums (both posts and replies) may now be viewed by anyone, not just members who login. As before, only registered users (i.e. ROC members) may post a message or reply to a message.
2. I have disabled registration to the Forums. Instead, all current ROC members have been issued a Username based upon their name/surname and a password (which is their ROC member number). Members may change their password on logging into their Forum user account. Members details have been taken from the ROC members list (Excel spreadsheet). For example, if your name is Fred Bloggs and your ROC member number is ROC120, then your username is Fred Bloggs and your password ROC120. The password is case sensitive. Existing Forum users have retained their chosen username and password.
3. The Guestbook has now been activated and a link placed on each webpage within the website. The button colour is red to make it stand out, but I'll probably make it the same colour as the other buttons in the not-too-distant future (Help! The aesthetics police are after me!).
I've enabled board avatars. This feature simply enables users to upload an image to be associated with their username. It can only be 80x80 pixels in size, so highly detailed designs are unsuitable. Several members have already uploaded avatars and are currently awaiting psychiatric evaluation...
4. I've removed the Events webpage and simply linked to the Club Events and Regional Events section of the Forum. I've enabled Tony Stanton as moderator of this Forum so it should now be kept up-to-date and accurate.
5. I've created Cars For Sale, Parts For Sale, Cars Wanted and Parts wanted forums, the purpose of each being self-explanatory. These are currently only viewable by ROC members. Similarly, only ROC members may post adverts/requests. On reflection, I thought making these areas viewable to all was unfair to those people who paid to become members to find a car!
LEGISLATION (David Hurley)
Consultation on a Scheme of Continuous Enforcement of Motor Insurance
This is the official title of the long awaited document which we have previously called insurance from the record.
The FBHVC is supportive in principle of the governments desire to reduce the significant number of uninsured drivers and vehicles in the UK and is preparing a response which will raise some detailed points as outlined in previous newsletters.
The consultation confirms our previous understanding that appropriate allowance has been made for the exclusion of vehicles which are under SORN, or pre-SORN (that is, were last taxed before 31 January 1998).
An important development is that in the first instance it is proposed that a warning letter will be issued, not an automatic penalty letter, which had been mentioned previously. It will be important that this should be reacted to not left to one side and ignored!
The proposal envisages that if you only insure your vehicle for short periods you will be required to surrender your tax disc and declare SORN (even if it is a nil rate historic class) on expiry of the insurance cover. Inevitably this will increase paperwork and visits to the post office. We will of course be keeping you informed.
Bayford & Co Ltd slashes leaded petrol price
Bayford & Co Ltd, has been working hard this winter with their new blending partner to increase efficiency within their blending and supply chain. The result: a reduction in the price of leaded petrol by up to 65 pence per litre (a reduction of £2.95 per gallon in old money) for leaded petrol in 2009 compared to 2008.
It is because Jonathan Turner, CEO of Bayford & Co Ltd, is an enthusiastic supporter and collector of veteran, vintage and classic cars and has such enthusiasm for the classic car industry that Bayford applied for a licence from the EU to continue to supply the product, when all other oil companies were allowing leaded petrol to pass into history.
Newsletter 1/2009 carried a report (p.11) on a High Court decision allowing a 1950s Ford Zephyr convertible, that had been imported from New Zealand, to qualify for tariff heading 97.05, the heading for collectors' items of historical interest. The benefit of importing under this heading, rather than the more usual 87.03 heading for cars, is that there is no import duty, and VAT is reduced to an effective rate of just 5%. Following an introduction by FBHVC, the case was pursued by Martin Emmison of FBHVC Trade Supporter solicitors Goodman Derrick LLP.
Although the case has helped clarify one of the criteria that need to be taken in to account, namely the meaning of high value, this and other cases have highlighted the difficulty of interpreting tariff heading 97.05. Jeremy Barker, of CARS Europe, another FBHVC Trade Supporter who specialises in transporting cars round the world, knows only too well just how difficult it can be to obtain consistent Customs treatment. CARS Europe deal with these issues on a daily basis with HM Revenue and Customs. It transpires that HMRC is already lobbying Brussels for clarification of the explanatory notes for this tariff, and would welcome a submission from an appropriate organisation representing the UK trade. Goodman Derrick LLP and CARS Europe will be working with FBHVC to ensure this is done for the benefit of all UK trade and private importers.
Appeals for historic vehicle status
In the last month, the Federation has received a flurry of enquiries where a particular vehicle is recorded with DVLA with a manufacturing date of 1973, but the owner has evidence that the vehicle was actually made in 1972, and so should be classified as an historic vehicle, which of course has a nil rate of vehicle excise duty.
These particular applications are normally towards the specialist club, however, where there is not a specialist club registered with DVLA these applications come to the Federation, and we follow exactly the same procedure: the owner needs to provide photographs of the vehicle, legible photographs of all chassis numbers, the engine number, and other numbers on the vehicle and a copy of the V5/V5C. With these cases, as in all others, the Federation seeks out the appropriate specialist knowledge and dating documentation and that the key dating evidence, e.g. the Heritage Certificate, or page from Glasss Vehicle Check Book, are certified copies. Also, it is essential that the vehicle is inspected, and as explained above, that the inspector has the knowledge to look beyond the chassis plate.
Seeing that the cost saving for historic vehicle status could be £185 per year, this is just the case where an inspection in the Outer Hebrides is justified. Alternately, if it is already taxed and insured the vehicle could be driven to the inspector.
The actual application to DVLA is made by the owner at his local DVLA office. The application would include the club dating letter (which would mention the date of inspection and what was found on that inspection), the evidence for the revised date of manufacture, e.g. Heritage certificate, together with the photographs of the vehicle, and photographs of the various numbers on the vehicle, including the chassis number.
Although the owner might receive the historic vehicle tax disc at the DVLA local office, this is always subject to verification at DVLA Swansea. In addition, as with any application, DVLA may wish to inspect the vehicle.