With this issue you should find a membership card for the 2011 - 2012 year. Please fill in your name and membership number (shown on the envelope). I have never been asked to produce my card, although Footman James do ask for your membership number if you want a club discount.
Nigel would like to stand down from his position as Spares Officer (for the past 10 years), so we seek a replacement. Please contact Nigel if you want more information on what the job entails.
The AGM produced the usual good turnout of members and cars and we even had volunteers for the vacant committee posts of secretary and treasurer, so huge thanks to Les Brown and Stuart McCaslin. I need hardly say that it would be virtually impossible to run a club without these key personnel.
This year it is on Sunday 14 August at the Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford Oxon. It is an event not to be missed if you have an interest in old British low volume kit cars and specials; while your other half can enjoy the local attractions.
The Bowling Green Inn, Shaw Lane, Stoke Prior, Wychbold, Nr Bromsgrove, B60 4BH.
From 7.00pm Monday 20th June 2011
Monday 18th July 2011
Monday 15th August 2011
Monday 19th September 2011
Stoneleigh Kit Car Show Sunday 1st & Monday 2nd May 2011
After a good many years of poor weather it was nice to have 2 days of sunshine, even though it was a little windy. Displayed on the stand this year on Sunday, were my own Olympic Duffy 902 DUF, Victor Lobbs early Gilbern GT, David Valsler with a Turner, Richard Holden with a Fairthorpe and a Zolfe (www.zolfe.com), whilst not a kit but a complete car built by a friend of mine in Redditch if you have £32,000 plus.
On Monday displayed on the stand, were my Olympic Duffy, Alan Farrer Olympic PII BNC
849B, Syd Bartram Olympic PII 966 SJH, Brian Whitby Olympic, P1 291 FLM, Les Brown Rochdale GT, Keith Pratt with a Scimitar GT, Victor Lobb with a Gilbern GT, Rob James with a Fairthorpe, Craig Polly with a TVR 2500M and Nigel Curley with a Peerless.
So a big thank you to the people who turned up with their cars.
CLASSIC CAR SHOW NEC 11th,12th and 13th November 2011
It is with regret I have to inform club members that your club application for a stand at this years show has been unsuccessful. I am however looking for a tidy original Rochdale to display on the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club stand and material/display boards. PLEASE contact Tony Stanton on email@example.com
SILVERSTONE CLASSIC on July 22nd, 23rd & 24th 2011.
For some unknown reason I do not have any tickets for this event, so if anyone has any spare tickets for sale please let me know.
Members may remember in Mag 121; James Farrington had sent me copies of adverts for Olympics for sale in old American magazines.
1965 ROCHDALE OLYMPIC PHASE 1 1.5litre GT. new 1963, 1600cc MGA drive line, new BFG 990s, mechanically excellent, needs paint job, best offer over 1,000. Don Usher, Allen park, Michigan 48101.
I rang the phone number in this advert from Car and Driver, July 1971. Dons daughter still lived at this address and put me in touch with Don who now lives in Florida. He said car was Red, RHD, twin fuel tanks that leaked, and in the early 1970s he had trouble contacting
Rochdale Motor Panels for a new windscreen, which was sent to a windscreen fitting place in Ontario, Canada. And he had to drive over the border to get it fitted. He thinks he sold the car locally, but he bought the car in 1969 from Udo Kruze who worked for the Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Detroit. and brought the Olympic with him from Germany. I believe this is the Olympic currently owned by David Akers of Trenton, South Detroit, Michigan, America.
I recently came into possession of a French classic car magazine called Auto Passion, produced in March 2001. Inside is a 6-page reproduction of an article from another 1961 magazine of the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. It shows 2 photos of VDK 147, this was Rochdale Motor Panels Olympic Phase 1 demonstrator, Press car and Richard Parkers company car.
(Translation by Google): This photograph is of a sports car made by Rochdale Motor Panels and Engineering Ltd. called an Olympic. This car, typical of hand built cars on the other side of the channel, is a monocoque made of Glassfibre in the place of steel sheet. Headlights come from a Volkswagen.
The Rochdale Olympic has a Riley engine of 1489cc, producing 60 hp; the 4-speed transmission comes from the same manufacturer. A distinctive feature of the car is the thick edge along the wheel arches, and the two rear bumpers in the shape of vertical bananas.
A number of years ago Frank Butterworth wrote an article for the club magazine called The Origins of the Rochdale Marque. Reproduced below is the section on the journey to Geneva and back.
In late 1960 we were having correspondence with two automobile companies in Switzerland and Denmark who wanted to act as our agents there. We agreed to this and sent them batches of our leaflets, more photographs and answered their many questions.
Following the fire in February 1961 and in the course of settling in at our premises in Littledale Street, we received an invitation from our Swiss agent to exhibit the Olympic on his stand at the International Automobile Exposition in Geneva in mid March. This really interested us, with it being the largest and most important Motor Show in Europe. Could we refuse the invitation? Not only would it be expensive, but there was the question of which of the three of us should take the Olympic; we couldn't all go. I had my foot planted firmly on the ground; if there was to be a business trip to Switzerland I was going, and it was up to Richard and Harry to decide who was accompanying me. Richard, as magnanimous as ever, said it was only fair the two directors went and volunteered to manage the company in our absence.
Around the same time we received a call from Copenhagen to say the Danish Motor Show would be held there in early April, was it possible for us to exhibit an Olympic at the show? On considering the question, it was possible. The end of the exhibition in Geneva would leave us three days to get to Copenhagen before the start of the one there.
My old passport shows we left England on the 14th March 1961, to arrive in Geneva late in the day before the Exhibition. We had some panic, the car had to be steam-cleaned before it was allowed in the hall and we were struggling with the language. A multilingual BBC television presenter by the name of Desmond Wilcock (Wilcox Ed) came to our help. He organised the steam-cleaning, discovered which stand we were on and instructed the staff to move the car there, later arranging accommodation for us for the period of the exhibition. Our agent informed us later that a film crew had come on the stand to film the car; if this was ever shown on TV no-one of our acquaintance had seen it. Desmond was a great help and back home later I wrote to him at the BBC thanking him - I don't know whether he ever received the letter.
We arrived at the exhibition early the next day to give the car a good polish before enjoying a good look round the other cars on show. The Olympic attracted a fair amount of interest, but if those who visited the stand couldn't speak English we were lost and unable give any information on it. After two days of being on the stand behaving like two useless pot-dogs we found it embarrassing and spent the days skiing in the mountains, visiting the exhibition daily to keep our agent warm. He didn't take any orders from the show or later, in fact from memory I don't think we ever heard from him again.
We left Switzerland through Basle and entered Germany on the 26th March, enjoying a pleasant journey along the Autobahn, staying a night at a hotel at a small village and another in Hamburg. Up to this time the car had not given us any cause for concern but an interesting incident happened somewhere along the Autobahn.
Batting along at a steady 90 we began to hear a constant rumbling that appeared to come from the back axle. Believing the differential could be losing oil, we pulled into a garage. The proprietor jacked up the car, only to find the differential full of oil.
Understanding our concern and with a smile on his face, he explained in German what was causing the rumbling. Harry, with his brief knowledge of German was quick to understand that 'luft unden Autobahn' was pockets of air beneath the concrete surface. Problem solved with no further concern and no charge for the help and advice.
On nearing Lubeck on the Baltic and depressing the accelerator on and off, we got the familiar click click from one of the trailing arms. We had spare bushes and using the facilities of a small garage it was an easy matter replacing them. Again there was no charge - wonderful people these Germans. It was fortunate it happened at that time; later in Denmark we gave several road tests and the clunk of knackered bushes on the back axle wouldn't have done our image any good. Not that it would have mattered anyway; we didn't make a sale in Denmark.
After a pleasant day's sail from Lubeck on a Danish ferry, we received a terrific welcome in Copenhagen, where English is mainly a second language. Transport was placed at our disposal and with the Olympic on the agent's stand at the exhibition we then got VIP treatment with more invitations for meals, parties and trips out to see places of interest round the country than we had time for. An outstanding occasion was an invitation for a meal at the luxurious home of a local businessman called Hugo. The sumptuous meal was cooked and served by his wife, who, we were surprised to learn, was the Prima Ballerina at the Copenhagen Royal Ballet. After a pleasant evening with more drink than we were accustomed to, on leaving she presented us with two of her special embossed open tickets that allowed us to visit the ballet any time as her guests. This was certainly a significant event for two Lancashire Lads who'd never even seen a ballet.
Another interesting event worth relating was being invited for a day out by Karl, an employed official at the exhibition who had been designated to provide our transport. After taking us to see the Little Mermaid, the King's Palace and other places of interest, he took us to his mother's home to meet his family and have a meal. Later, along with his sister and another lady friend - after being taken to the Tivoli Gardens, a massive amusement park in the centre of Copenhagen - we ended up in his apartment for drinks and to listen to his records. Soon Karl made an excuse to leave, raising a knowing thumb as he closed the door behind him.
For myself I was highly amused at being left with the young ladies, but Harry was embarrassed. This was Danish hospitality above and beyond that expected from international friends and it was not on: they were two respectable females. We were British and not Swedish from the land of free love across The Sound. It was a pleasant night anyway. Harry spread out on an easy chair being served drinks and listening to records played on the Hi-Fi. I spent a most laughable evening teaching Karl's inadequately English-speaking sister my saucy versions of Baa Baa Black Sheep, Jack and Jill, and Little Miss Muffet. The two females spent the night in Karl's bed; I bagged the sofa, with Harry in the lounge chair for the night.
After a most memorable and pleasant stay we left Denmark without taking an order. Later we discussed the fantastic hospitality we'd received. It was true the Danes have great respect for the British and not only because we buy their bacon; we did help to free their country in WW2. We surmised our welcome might have resulted from them gaining the impression we were the directors of a large motor manufacturer, instead of the insignificant Rochdale back-street company that we were.
Taking turns at driving and stopping only for food and fuel, we raced across Germany, Holland and Belgium to Ostend and home in one go. Our exotic home-built Olympic didn't falter, travelling at speeds around 100mph when conditions were favourable. It was a most exhilarating drive and one I haven't experienced since.
In the weeks we travelled those thousands of miles across Europe, whenever or wherever we stopped the Olympic attracted attention and quite often we were questioned in a language we didn't understand. Fortunately, we had taken a stack of our leaflets and it was an easy matter to give one and let them have a look round the car before saying our appreciative goodbyes.
And a little note to end on :- EXERCISES FOR PEOPLE OVER 50
Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.
Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then try 50-lb. potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute (I'm now at this level.)
After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This annual fixture for the Club took place on 16th and 17th of April. Present were the usual suspects, with Guy Stallards fine red GT and Richard Disbrows very shiny orange Phase 1 Olympic gracing the stand and attracting nearly as much interest as the model posing on a revolving Triumph Stag on the stand opposite.
Guy helpfully trailed his GT up on the Friday and I collected Richards Olympic on the way. After the show Guy and Richard collected their cars themselves, for which we were extremely grateful. Some impressions of Richards car: 1) I couldn't see out without a cushion on the seat (am I really so short?) 2) Light quick steering 3) Not a lot of power low down and revving beyond 3000 produced more vibration than I felt was good for it, but as progress was restricted to 35 mph or less by a tanker on the winding road it didn't really matter. Hardly a road test then.
We had a fairly quiet time on the stand, visitor numbers being fewer than usual on both days. I felt that the crowds were thinner than last year, perhaps because there were so many cars outside in the classic car parking areas for people to view. The organisers showed their taste by awarding Richards Olympic a Highly Commended rosette. Well done lad.
The autojumble also seemed to have shrunk, probably as all have, as victims of the internet. They still have the advantage of one being able to finger the goods, and there is no carriage to pay either. I bought a selection of fasteners, an alloy trolley jack and a set of tyres, so did my bit to keep them in business.
Derek and I stayed in our usual B&B, which was as welcoming as ever all part of the holiday feel that this show gives, with its generally laid-back attitude and were given a lift to the local pub for dinner on the first evening. How many B&Bs do that?
Thanks are due to Tony Stanton, Nigel Whittaker and Colin Ellis for sterling work in manning the stand and it was a pleasure to welcome Hilary and Jane Parker too. I must also thank Derek Bentley for all his hard work, and without whom it would be difficult to continue maintaining a presence at the show. Finally, of course, I must thank Guy and Richard for their cars and their help in getting them there and back (a special mention for Guy, as he has recently had altercations with a chainsaw and fighting dogs, but is healing well).
This was a subject that has been causing some difficulties. DVLA have now made a statement as follows:
I note that the issue of evidence to support notifications of engine change also features [in the list of questions]. As you are aware, this was raised at the recent meeting with the Minister. I am pleased to confirm that this policy has been reviewed and that it will no longer be necessary for keepers of vehicles in the Historic class date of manufacture before 1 Jan 1973 to provide evidence to support an engine notification. Grateful if you can pass this information on to your members.
All credit must go to David Hurley and Geoff Smith of the Federation for being able to do promote a top down approach to resolve this problem.
It is anticipated that DVLA will need time to brief their staff of this change in policy, and update their internal and external documentation. In the unlikely event that an engine change for a vehicle with the taxation class of Historic Vehicle is rejected by DVLA, please send a copy of the rejection letter to the Federation. This should enable the Federation to have the rejection letter retracted, and enable DVLA to re-brief the staff member who sent out the rejection letter. If it is a verbal rejection, then the name of the DVLA staff member and the name of the office will be helpful.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs exists to ensure that we all continue to have the right to use our vehicles on the road whatever their age.
It does this by lobbying politicians and government officials but it can only be really effective if it is armed with accurate information about the interests it represents, such as the number of people involved and the number of vehicles they own as well as the value the movement brings to the economy.
FBHVCs last survey was in 2006, when the gross value of the movement was shown to be in excess of £3bn annual expenditure. This now needs to be brought up to date, so a new survey has been started.
We urge all our members to take part and to encourage their friends to do so as well: the more people who do, the more accurate the results will be, and the more accurate the results are, the better FBHVC will be able to protect all our interests.
The simplest way to participate is to go to www.fbhvc.co.uk and click the link to the survey. The link will open early in May and remain open until the end of July.
If you prefer to complete a paper questionnaire, please send a C5 stamped addressed envelope to FBHVC, Kernshill, Shute Street, Stogumber, Taunton. TA4 3TU
Editors note: Do take the trouble to complete this questionnaire. I know they can be irksome, but this is pretty straightforward and will take about 5mins time well spent in my opinion.
It was as a result of a call from Tony Stanton regarding my health that I am came to write this article. Tony, a long-standing reader of Motor Sport magazine was one who particularly enjoyed the contributions by Denis Jenkinson, the Continental Correspondent. He told me that one or two previous articles I had written that covered my friendship with Jenks had been well received and he would appreciate it if I could write more especially from the personal viewpoint.
As past readers of Motor Sport will know, Jenkss writings chiefly covered his travels abroad, be it with his Lancia Aprilia, the 365 Porsche, the E types or the BMW motorcycle where Grand Prix race meetings throughout Europe were covered in great detail.
So how did I come to know Jenks?
After my wife left university, she joined Motor magazine where she worked with Joe Lowry and Charles Bulmer, later to become Motor Editor. As fate would have it, Charles happened to live a mere three miles from where we had by chance, come to live and most days Maureen was given lifts with Charles to the Motor offices in London.
Through Charles whom I got to know well, I was introduced to the Hants & Berks Motor Club and its many active members. You may recall that it was the H & B Club that used to organise the national Mobil and Total Economy Runs. There were other events such as the Blackbushe 2CV racing and again, at that venue, the Club gave assistance to the International Drag race meeting.
I duly met Jenks at a Club lunch meeting if my memory serves me correctly when he found a gap in his busy schedule. Jenks was a person who either liked you or didn't but I'm glad to say we hit it off straightaway. We competed in Club driving tests in the early days as well as many other club activities. Jenkss everyday car at that time was a Beetle selected from the line of old bangers being sold at the local garage. This was his favourite way of obtaining a cheap run-about and I'm sure Jenks was a very welcome customer with the number of cars he bought from that garage.
By the time an MOT had run out, or the car was no longer viable, it would be laid-up in his large garden to rust away in peace while the odd part would be filched from it for some other requirement. Sharing parking space in the garden were numerous vehicles I remember such as P4 Rovers, the famous racing Duesenberg, a Dastle Midget racer that never turned a wheel whilst in Jenkss ownership and an early Cortina that had half emptied the sump oil in a drive from Jenkss place to our house. This car deteriorated so badly that the front struts had rusted through their upper engine bay mounting and this was very evident by the very angled curve of the bonnet.
When I started building E type replicas I preferred not to go into details of car purchases with my wife and was grateful to be able to leave my newly purchased but rusting SD1 V8 Rover in the garden where, between us, Jenks and I removed the engine. In Jenkss lifetime he was frequently given awards and presents and you can imagine my joy when on near completion of my second replica Jenks gave me a superb Giugiaro Personal steering wheel that happened to have the perfect diameter and offset.
There was always a shortage of covered shelter for Jenkss numerous motorcycles and here the local motorcycle dealer came to Jenkss aid. Honda motorbikes were encased in surprisingly strong solid timber structures for their journey from the far east and the dealer was only too pleased to be relieved of this mass of clutter by Jenks who would fashion suitable sheds to house his bike collection. Being a small person, Jenks was frequently in need of help with lifting or moving heavy items about his property and most friends were roped in to help whether they had arrived in good clothes or not. I once borrowed one of Jenkss cars for transporting new bricks I needed for a house extension. His VW transporter was ideal, or so I thought, and on the second trip to north London to collect, I experienced steering that suddenly became almost impossible to turn. We later found that the rusted chassis had cracked across the middle and was causing the steering caster to become excessive. Jenks would not hear of recompense and I left him toddling off to the garage across the road.
There were times in deepest winter when, at a loose end, after dinner, I would give Jenks a call and go over to his cottage. We would settle down on the old furniture around the only heat source, the aged Aga, and talk cars and bikes. This gave me a golden opportunity to find out more details about his outstanding Mille Miglia drive with Moss and inspect the alloy box made by Jenks that contained the fifteen feet of paper road notes. I remember Jenks speaking about a photo showing a large dent on the rear flank of the Mercedes which Moss and he could not account for. It turned out that after one fill-up the car was ushered away rather too hastily and the mechanic didn't have time to shut the fuel cap, so, with great initiative, he took a flying leap at the fast accelerating car and banged the lid down causing a massive dent in the light alloy bodywork. Attempts to speak to each other were impossible with the noise of the engine and the wind and so it was left to hand signals developed over many weeks prior to the event with every help from Mercedes who plainly told Moss that he was going to win - and they meant it.
A bedroom, no longer used as such, had been fitted with Dexion shelving and here Jenks had installed hundreds of fascinating books, many quite valuable, and an ideal source for information that could possibly settle any difference of opinion between us. Occasionally Jenks would have brought in some logs that lay about in the garden and we'd enjoy a blazing fire in the grate set in the corner of the tiny entrance hall.
I remember one autumn trip we made to the Gold Cup meeting at Oulton Park where we enjoyed a good days racing before returning to my parents home in Chester for the night. Up at 5.30 the next morning we set off for Camberley at precisely 6.0 am and cruised at 65 to 80 mph; the high geared Porsche engine seemingly just ticking over. There were no motorways in those days and with little traffic, thanks to the early start, we arrived in Camberley at exactly 9.00 am. Many years later with faster cars and with motorways I tried to beat or at least equal the time the journey had taken but never got very close. Jenks had a way of keeping going, judging his speed for a junction such that he never had to stop. I was also amazed as I got to know him better that he never consulted a map, at least in my presence: he always seemed to know the best route to take.
At other times in the winter Jenks would invite motorcycle friends for a days trials-riding in the woods surrounding his property. New trials sections would be made and marshy areas modified to discourage any easy sections. By lunchtime we would break off and adjourn to the kitchen to sample Jenkss soup.
I should add that the soup pot, permanently residing on the side of the Aga cooker was never emptied to my knowledge; it was merely a case of adding more vegetables and meat-offcuts before topping up with water. Great crusts of bread completed the welcome lunch and then it was back to trying to clean that section that had beaten us in the morning.
I must mention more about the kitchen. Besides the Aga, and the sofa and armchair, the floor was covered with old carpet nicked out of builders skips in Kensington, west London, by the home of one-time girlfriend Robbie. The walls, distempered, were covered in amusing feltpen phrases and sayings that were added over the years. If only I could remember some, but there was Err.and Humm!
I was riding a couple of old Greeves bikes that I had found derelict and built up whilst many of the latest Montesa and Bultaco bikes were being ridden by the local motorcycle dealer friends of Jenks or our richer friends. It's probably the case that only older readers would realise Jenkss deep connection with motorcycles and the days when he was the fearless passenger in Eric Olivers championship-winning Norton sidecar outfit. The whole summer season would be spent racing (and invariably winning) at weekends whilst midweek would allow time for sightseeing, possibly an engine rebuild and arrival at the next venue for more racing. Being on friendly terms with the fuel suppliers, Jenks told of the free top-ups for the old van that they used for transport and which usually got them to the next venue. Starting money was paid on a scale appropriate to the riders ability and popularity so the Oliver/ Jenkinson team fared rather well. When a weekend was free from racing Jenks would often tootle off to a car race event in the area and write a report which would be sent to Motor Sport for publication. Jenks did this off his own bat and led to him being paid for his work and the eventual inclusion into the Motor Sport staff.
With Winter over, we looked forward to Spring and Summer and I took many a trip with Jenks to motorcycle Hillclimbs to which Jenks would trailer his 650 Triumph-engined Special behind one of the bangers. The trip involving the Auntie Rover was so slow that I couldn't resist asking if we could not go a little faster to which Jenks told me that he was flat out and we should make the event in time. The hill-climb riders I got to know were a great bunch of chaps with fascinating home-made Specials and it was nice that with them being younger and noticeably faster than Jenks, they treated him with great respect.
There was the occasion when I asked Jenks if he would like to share a drive with me competing in a South Downs Autocross to which he readily agreed. Perhaps he felt that he should be treating my car with the utmost care but I kept urging him to faster laps. In the lunch interval as we sat on the trailer eating our sandwiches many of the other drivers would come and pass the time of day and you could sense that he really enjoyed such company; these drivers were not rich but out and out enthusiasts who had built their cars relatively cheaply and were going to have a damn good competitive days racing. It was such a contrast to the Formula 1 scene that kept Jenks in work and where it seemed that money was no object.
Another close and long-standing friend of mine I met through the Hants & Berks MC was Dick Cawthorne, a qualified engineer and dedicated special builder. Dick and his wife Nan had returned from a spell in Australia where he had been working at the Woomera Establishment. Just before he came back he saw an article covering the new Rochdale Olympic in a magazine and decided that this was to be his next project. Needless to say I was quick to offer my services to Dick and to offer help to build the car.
As soon as the car was finished Dick and Nan decided on a weeks holiday in France. On the quayside the customs officer must have decided that something was suspicious. He had all the luggage taken out and then demanded that Dick remove the panelling of the interior which had been the finishing touch to the car. Oh, OK sir said the official later, That's fine, on your way sir leaving Dick to put the car back together in one piece. I don't remember whether Dick managed to catch the scheduled ferry. It so happened that I too had decided to buy an Olympic.
I had been driving a Cooper 'S' and after a tight rebore lost interest with the cars reduced performance. The weekly Motor magazine used to feature details of road tests on the back page and in deciding which car to buy next, I looked for a car that offered the best combination of speed and economy. The Rochdale Olympic stood out head and shoulders above the rest and was just about cheap enough for my price bracket in kit form. It was sleek, rot-proof and just perfect for me especially with its opening tail-gate.
I have written earlier about the weekend trip with Jenks in his Porsche where we looked at three second-hand Olympics that had appeared in the latest Motor Sport so I won't go into detail but I did buy the third car that I saw which was almost as new. I had to make a bid for the car and was most grateful to Jenks for the loan of £50 that would enable me to make a higher offer on my limited resources. As it turned out there were no other bidders! Dick took me to the Luton area to collect the Olympic and it was as a result of mentioning the rather low gearing of his Phase 1 car that Dick later bolted a TR overdrive unit to the gearbox of his B series1500 Morris engine.
I loved my Olympic and had some amazing adventures with it which are detailed elsewhere. However, dangerous handling caused as I later realised by an earlier accident, left me wanting to sell the Olympic but after a perfect repair by a D type Jag owner in nearby Egham I hadn't the heart to cancel the visit of a prospective buyer coming to see the car from some considerable distance and let it go for £575, just £25 more than I had paid for it in its near completed state.
I have written about the seized gearbox in the past and the resulting accident on the A30 but I wonder if I mentioned the time when attending a party at Dicks house. I was asked to move my Olympic a few feet further forward to make more room for others. I pushed and I pushed and wondered if I had left the handbrake partially on.. I asked Dick what he thought about the cars reluctance to move easily and logically he believed that the brakes needed adjustment. Later, back home with brakes perfectly free, I found some considerable effort was needed to turn the wheels on the jacked-up car.
Shortage of time led me to take the car to a garage where the diff was found to be wrongly adjusted. The additional performance once the repair had been made was readily noticeable and helped with what had been a disappointing fuel consumption. The car had been bought unpainted and once I had bought a cheap second-hand spray plant out of Exchange & Mart and plucked up courage to start spraying, I set-to in my small garage but soon found that overspray was becoming a problem both to my health and to the state of the garage. I moved outside.
One by one areas of the car were isolated for spraying and by tackling two separate areas at a time it didn't take too long to achieve a good finish with three to four top coats over the etch and buildup primers. Of course there were numerous times when, just as a panel was finished, a flying insect would land on the paint necessitating a long delay before the paint had hardened sufficiently and before having to be rubbed down and more paint applied
In later years with other cars I made a mini spray booth of sheet plastic within the garage and sprayed with better breathing protection. The choice of colour for the Olympic came about when I saw an E type at a motoring get-together. I asked the owner if he knew what precise colour his car was finished in as I found it most attractive. It turned out to be Jaguar/Daimler metalichrome steel grey and I believe that metallic paints enhance the curves of a good looking car.
Jenkss life ended relatively quickly. He had two strokes and when we met for informal lunches there were several times when we noticed that he was not-with-it. After his first stroke I visited him at Farnham hospital. He was being well looked after but conversation was difficult. At the same time of my visit I was pleased to meet Mick Walsh of Classic and Sportscar magazine who had also come to see Jenks.
I attended Jenkss funeral that was held at the Aldershot crematorium and the support he had was truly enormous. The hall was packed and ran to three deep around the walls. Jenks was not a religious man and the music at the ceremony covered Jenkss love of traditional jazz, Bach and Joshua Rifkin. Afterwards the reception was held at the Queens Hotel, Farnborough where Jenks had kindly set aside in his will a sum of money to pay for the food and drinks. That day I witnessed the largest group of racing drivers and so many others connected with the sport who will clearly miss dear old Jenks.
Photos from previous page: Jenks at one of Dereks parties 1982; Dereks wife Maureen off to work with Charles Bulmer; Jenks riding Dereks trials Greeves in early 70s.
This page: Rare picture of Jenks tending Eric Olivers Norton outfit in 1949; Jenks in his Beetle in driving test with Maureen; One of Jenks pals Paul Spargo at Gurston Down 1974.
Having had such an enjoyable time last year, Derek Bentley and I couldn't resist a second go (it was Derek Argyles 11th). Booking again with Continental Car Tours we simply paid up and turned up, the secret to a relaxing trip, although by our calculations it saves money too, a rare thing. Last year we travelled in my Phase 2, so this time it was the turn of Dereks Turner. [Note to self: make sure your Phase 1 is ready next May]. Laon is only about 130 miles from Calais, so is easily accessible, especially if you take the easy option of the page (15 euros, equivalent to 5p/mile). Other ROC members to attend were Ben Bettell and Derek Argyle who also took the Dover-Calais route in SSS Jaguar and E-Special respectively, and Colin Breakspear, who trailed his Turner behind his motor home from Germany.
Arriving at Dover in good time on the Friday, we were able to get the earlier ferry, always a good start to a journey. Leaving a rather cool and overcast England behind at Dover we found Calais not a lot better and experienced some short sharp showers on the journey down, so were pleased with the decision to keep the Turners hood up. It might only be fabric, but it is amazing the difference a hood makes to the soundtrack - mechanical noise is amplified - so the main sound for the passenger is the blat from the side-exit exhaust, and a sound from the axle like wind roar. With the hood down, there is just the wind rush, a more muted exhaust and no axle noise, a lot more pleasant and in keeping with the open car ethos.
CCT seem to block book a couple of hotels, our Hostellerie Vincent being one. The accommodation is very motel-like, though comfortable enough, but it has a good restaurant attached, which makes for an easy option in the evening after a hard days wallowing in old car nostalgia. A feature of the Vincent, and of Laon in general, is the welcome given to the Brits. For example the staff at the reception desk and the waiters are happy to share jokes something not very likely to happen at a Travel Lodge for example in England.
The format is to register for the event on the Saturday, where you get your rally plate and route for the days run through the countryside, complete with tulip chart for navigation.. The run was broken into two, the mornings run finishing at Saint Quentin where free food and drink was dispensed (some 50 miles) and the afternoons returning to Laon via a more circuitous route (some 70 miles).
Wherever we went there were locals waving us on, sometimes distracting us from the correct turning (that's my excuse anyway). The welcome, as last year, was very heart-warming. As there were about 750 cars at the event there were three groups, all with different routes, so the organisation must have been a mammoth task and an indication of the effort put into the festival.
On the Sunday, the city centre is cleared of all non-festival cars, a truck towing away offenders of the parking ban. We parked at La Gare and took the funicular (a Millenium project we learned) to the top to the town hall to take in the massed ranks of cars in the square. Then into the town hall for champagne and speeches. In the afternoon we joined the queue of cars waiting to take to the round-the-city parade.
Last year this all went off smoothly, but this time there were several long waits, presumably because there were too many cars for the circuit. As the circuit is 10km long, 500+ cars results in a space of less than 20m per car, not ideal.
A consequence of this was that Dereks Turner, whose dynamo was not charging properly was in danger of a flat battery, as there was frequent need to use the fan in the queues and with the hot sun beating down.
Some roadside work got some charging, but a proper repair would have to wait for a return home. The drive round is accompanied by much waving from the locals, who turn out in force to spectate and add greatly to the feeling of camaraderie.
Parking roadside we were able to see the other cars in the parade: all sorts, ancient and modern, with their occupants waving flags, waving arms and sounding horns. The French seem particularly addicted to the latter. I couldn't help thinking that an old British ice cream van would be in good company here. When it was all over the barriers came down and the roads returned to normal as we made our way out.
The overriding impression is that the city puts a great deal of effort into this festival it must surely benefit the tourist industry but it enjoys the result as much as the visitors. Long may it last.
The festival continued on the Monday, but as we had booked for only two days we left after a leisurely breakfast and took the easy return option up the page, arriving in Calais in nice time for the 12:50 ferry. After a very calm passage, back in Blighty and the rush of Brit-style traffic and broken roads. Glad to be home? What do you think?
Laon has a striking cathedral on the top of the hill, visible from miles around and is adorned with stone cows peering from the upper balconies. Eat your heart out Milton Keynes.
The view outside Town hall window ...
I'd like to start by expressing my thanks to Les Brown for stepping up to the mark in taking on the part time role of ROC Secretary. I'd also like to thank him for making the effort to bring his GT down to the AGM for all to see. Having never sat in a GT myself this was a real eye opener to finally appreciate how small and compact they are inside and think Les should be commended for completing the few hundred miles from his house and back. The temptation must always exist to complete the journey in a modern motor but thanks to Les we had our first GT at the AGM since I've been going, at least 5/6 years I think!
I've now moved into my new Cypriot home and have a large garage that is devoid of anything to do with Rochdales, it just doesn't seem right not having a project lurking behind my garage doors. I would love to ship my Olympic over but I can't imagine getting anything done in 40 degree heat! So instead I have packed my cars into a handy storage space in the UK, as you can see from the picture below I've had to be economical with the space and have balanced my Olympic above the Mark VI and put the remnants of my C Type bodyshell down the side.
Rochdale Bodyshell Jenga *
* From the Swahili word "to build". Game where players take turns to remove items from a stack of wooden blocks, the loser being the player whose actions cause the tower to fall. Ed.
In the Summer 09 ROC magazine you will see the JW Lees Brewery Rochdale GT that had turned up in France. This Rochdale GT was registered 263 UXG, previously registered 55 FAU and was won on an Ebay auction by J W Lees Brewery who were going to use it for promotional purposes and give it away as a prize, eventually they seemed to lose interest in the idea and the car became homeless! They did however spray the car to make it look attractive on the outside but failed to address any of the issues with the mechanicals or chassis.
Joel Trolliet from France acquired this car and has since sent me numerous photos of the restoration. Magazine 118 shows you the superbly restored chassis and engine that was just waiting for the body to be completed, and completed it now has been.
Joel Trolliet writes: I write this email to give you news of my Rochdale GT that I have finished restoring. Here some photographs of the paint job.
I'm green with envy, beautiful.
Joel has kept to his promise that he made in mag 118 and repainted it in the colours the Lees Brewery painted it; he has also had some new livery produced with the number 1 in place of the beer barrel as can be seen in the logo above. What is also different is that he has removed the indicators that were originally above the rear lights and installed a neat looking unit to incorporate brake, side and indicators, a simple but effective modification that looks excellent. I personally feel the aesthetics are right in the setup above, the continuation of the rear wing lines is not disturbed by the bobble of an indicator lens; must be the aircraft engineer in me wanting smoother aerodynamics.
Which setup would you choose?
The pictures above show you a snapshot of a few GT back ends, you can see that the decision on where to put the indicators is not an easy one and there is no set standard. After looking through all the GT pictures I have on file the favourite setup seems to be one above the other as can be seen in the bottom right picture. Locating these lights is something we take for granted when looking at cars but I'm sure it is a decision that is deliberated over a few cups of tea. One thing this ambiguous location of lights has helped with, sometimes, is the identification of cars in pictures that you can't quite see the number plate of. I digress slightly from the Brewery GT but with so few GT's on the road and with photos generally being taken from the front I thought I'd show a few setups for those trying to get their GT's back on the road, hopefully you'll be able to get your GT restored in the 4 years it took Joel with the Lees Brewery GT!
To tie this tedious link up I write back to Joel: Hi Joel, Very many thanks for the pictures of your GT. It has been a pleasure to watch the restoration of this car from the beginning to the end and I can see you have a beautiful car that I am very envious of! There are very few Rochdale GT's left on the road and I think yours is definitely one of the contenders for first prize! Please let us know if you are ever thinking of driving to the UK in your car so we can have a look.
In the last magazine I featured the fastback Riviera and mentioned I was trying to track down the current owner. I was a little bit concerned because I had heard he was a student and when I Googled his address I saw it was a flat in central London; no space for a garage there, the chances of a reply coming back to my letter was slim, but out of the blue an email appeared in my inbox some weeks after sending a letter, it read:
Hi - a letter's arrived from you asking about this car: I can confirm that I still have it, though the condition's much the same as when I bought it (non-runner, plenty needing to be done), though the engine's running with some encouragement, and I'm partway through preparing to lift the body off.
Keeping track of all these cars is a full time job so I was glad I could update my files to include the latest owner of this car called James, I write: Trying to keep track of all the existing Rochdale cars is a task in itself and I really appreciate you getting back in touch as this is a very rare car indeed. It is good to hear that you have intention of restoring this car back to its former glory, as with all Rochdales, one restoration year seems to equal 5 normal years! I would really appreciate it if you wouldn't mind keeping the Rochdale Owners Club aware of restoration progress and fate and if you have any recent photo's they really would be appreciated. The history of this car is somewhat sketchy, some believe the fastback modification was carried out at Rochdale Motor Panels whilst it is more likely to have been done by a past owner, are you aware of when the modification was done? Have you tried tracing the owners through the DVLA?
James Writes: Hi - it's a while since I bought it, but at the time I was told it was a prototype - I think the seller was in the FSSC, if I have the acronym right - Fairthorpe, anyway. His thinking was that it was a prototype for a Riviera version that was abandoned, but I've not got any more detail than the folk history of it! I don't have any paperwork for it, so the DVLA is a closed book for now. I can definitely dig out some photos, and will gladly keep the club posted. My membership's lapsed, I'm afraid, but progress has picked up from negligible to snail-like in the past couple of years, so I'm hoping to get the bodywork off and see how it's holding up this summer. Any pointers on how the bodywork was usually bonded to the substantial 'spaceframe' chassis would be very welcome - I assume the two are the parts I should be taking particular care with, as the rest of the running gear seems to be off-the-shelf Ford and VW so far.
I am not sure about the factory prototype suggestion, but certainly previous owners have indicated that the car was in fastback form from at least the mid 1960s, probably earlier. What makes me feel it is unlikely to have been a factory job is the Halifax chassis, because surely if it had been a factory job, it would have been on a Rochdale chassis (or a Ford Pop). However, it may well have been built by someone with close links to the factory - it is also possible that it was a shell that had been damaged when being removed from the mould, or in storage, and therefore needed work to the rear end anyway. We do know that they did funny things with some of the shells, as one of the period factory photos shows a completed GT in a corner that has been cut down to form a crude pick-up as can be seen in the picture below.
As to removing the body from the chassis, I am afraid he is completely on his own with this one, as the builder would have had to make up a complete floor to suit the Halifax chassis so would have devised his own method of attachment, unique to the car. Sorry! The Rochdale chassis cars came with a complete moulded glassfibre floorpan into which the tubular chassis was recessed, and then sections of glassfibre were laid over it to hold it in place, but no such floorpan was offered for the Halifax chassis.
All the best, Malcolm.
A health and safety nightmare
With so many GT's around it is always nice to hear of early cars appearing that are not known to the early Rochdale register. This time a Mark VI has appeared that unfortunately is devoid of a chassis and any form of identification but nonetheless it is another bodyshell we can add to the register. John Porter who is the Chairman of the Ford Sidevalve Owners Club made the discovery, he writes:
Apparently the body was bought in job lot from Worcester area some years ago and left in a shed. It is now for sale together with the radiator if they can find it! The guy left the remains of a very rotten Buckler chassis - unconfirmed. The car has been on the road and then dismantled for whatever reason now lost with the previous deceased owner. The bodyshell is owned by Richard and he is looking in the region of £120 for the shell and radiator, the chassis was totally rotten and not recovered.
If anyone has a spare Buckler Mark V chassis to put this bodyshell on then please let me know so I can buy that off you before you buy this shell, I need one for my C Type! If anyone else fancies buying this shell though for another project then it is pretty good value and I would have bought it had I not been in Cyprus. You can email Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want any more pictures then let me know.
In the last magazine I showed you the chassis that was being superbly built for racing and nearly ready to be clothed in its GT bodyshell. Tony, the builder and owner has been in touch with more information and pictures with what is turning into a bit of a build blog, great to see. What I thought I'd do before I go into the latest progress of this GT is to show you how this bodyshell has lucked in with a before and current picture of the engine bay! I think I would manufacture a see through bonnet for this engine set up!
Before ... ... After
Malcolm writes: Hi Tony, the quality of your work is a real credit to you! One thing has me baffled - what is all that pipework going up to the back of the dash (between the rev counter and the Halda)? Is it a reservoir for brake and clutch master cylinders?
Tony writes: Yes you're right, because the scuttle is so low on the GT, and there wasn't enough room to put in floor mounted pedals, the only option was to put the reservoir there, with the filler through the top of the dash!! Under the bonnet is getting very busy - until you start putting all the ancillaries in you don't realize how small the car is also the engine is quite a lot further back and lower than the original e93a mountings!!
The car is very nearly ready for the body to go back on (it's still at the paint shop). The progress has slowed down over the last month or so as we are busy with the racing season starting but hopefully we should get back on it soon!! I've also attached a couple of pictures of the ArrowsA21 formula 1 car I race, if that's of any interest. Also a couple of pics of the type of other cars currently in our workshop. If you need any more info/pics etc please don't hesitate to ask.
I personally can't wait to see this car clothed in its GT body and look forward to the next instalment of this blog, if we do see a GT at Goodwood I'm coming back from Cyprus to have a look!
In the last article I mentioned that I'd introduce a GT that we have on file and talk a little bit about it to see if any of our readership could add anymore to the history of the car. Amazingly someone did! Our new Secretary, Les Brown (Part Time? - it's in black and white now Les!) had the following golden nugget of information that added another piece to the jigsaw.
The piece on OUD 884 (ROC125) was especially interesting to me. Last summer, we went on a round-Britain cruise - the things we pensioners have to do to pass the time - where the most excitement was in watching the mainland helicopter crews winch off the aged/infirm on an almost daily basis. We did comment at the time, the lift itself would probably be enough to finish some of them off, but at least it was managed on this trip without actually dropping any of them in the freezing waters of the North Sea!
I found myself sitting for dinner next to a lady who clearly was a bit more into the engineering side of things than most. She was Regan Green, who turned out to be a bit of a powerhouse on the quiet. Her father had been Eisenhower's number 1 guy in the war (my Dad was a butcher), she had done engineering at Oxford University, where, among other things, she was team leader on University Challenge, and went up to Leyland after Uni, working for the car firm. She went on to manage a number of large engineering businesses around Europe, and had now settled into a career writing novels, which is what she was doing on her laptop each afternoon.
In the course of conversation, she mentioned having owned an Elan, so I naturally brought up about my Rochdales. Surprise, surprise, she'd owned one herself, and I could only think it was none other than OUD 884 (though she couldn't remember the number at the time). Anyway, she had spotted it lying derelict, and had fallen in love with it and had to have it. The car wasn't actually running, but she kept it for a number of years before receiving an (unseen) offer from an Orkney farmer, who also was prepared to pay for the car being delivered up there.
Must be the same car, surely, I thought? Seem to remember her charging more for delivery than the car cost, but she enlisted the help of a friend (John) to tow a trailer up there, and was certainly impressed by Orkney hospitality which involved very large quantities of neat whiskey being poured into their glasses by the farmer (whose wife was very demure by comparison).
Checking with Regan this month did indeed ring a bell with the registration number, both with her and John, and the "we were all drunk for a few nights" part of the story certainly lines up -
"Wow! Now that is impressive." writes Regan, after hearing the details "We bought it in from someone's front garden outside Preston. It was red then.... I remember the beginning of the getting drunk part in Orkney, but not much thereafter. Apparently I was dancing on a table at one point.... (whatever you do, don't quote me on that bit!)"
Sounds like a good session, and everything does indeed line up! The amount of time and owners this car has survived through, without actually running, is truly remarkable. Don't much fancy those Gordini bits, myself. Is the Ballamy stuff still around - it was at one point in the story...
A chance encounter that has filled another piece in the history of this GT, I still have not been able to get in touch with the last known owner but am still trying. A lot of the information I receive on the history of early Rochdales is usually just from chance encounters, I think this story means I can use it as a justified excuse to go out and chat to more women, although the chat up line have you seen my Rochdale is not the best opening line!
97 EPG is one of the rare surviving roadworthy examples of a Rochdale ST, the only other I am aware of is the one owned by Patrice Wattine in France, a beautiful looking yellow example that was pictured a few magazines back waiting patiently for a windscreen to be manufactured and installed. The initial history of 97 EPG is a little sketchy but I believe the picture below was taken in the ownership of a Mr Richard Green and from the other pictures we have from the same era I don't think he was the original owner and builder but inherited the car in the state you see below.
This car has a pressed steel windscreen surround which differs from the original factory car and was initially registered in 1957. It is running a 100E sidevalve engine attached to a E93A gearbox and axle with the higher 4.4:1 ratio. I think the early Prefects were running 5.5:1 ratio which on their 15in rims produced a top speed of 60mph out of their 30hp lump.
I am unsure of the years it was owned by Richard Green but know it was acquired by a Mr A Maclean from Crawley in Sussex in the early 90's. Mr Maclean became a member of the ROC but as far as I am aware, the car never made it to the road in his ownership.
With the next owner, Mr Grimshaw of Rossendale, the car received a much needed start to its restoration but never got completely finished as you can see from the picture below when it was bought by the next owner, Ian Hartley.
The ROC only knew of Ian Hartley when he advertised the car for sale on the internet with a asking price of £6000 in a fully restored condition. There it stayed for a few weeks and the price reduced to £4500 before it was snapped up by the European market. Why William Grimshaw only half completed the restoration before he passed it on is unknown but Ian only acquired the car in May 2010 so presumably acquired it cheap to restore and sell on having only owned it for 10 months?
I wrote to Ian to ask for details of the new owner but his reply said the car went to Switzerland, a dealer I think and I have no details of his address, sorry. We do have a ROC member, Markus Tanner who is involved in the car business from Switzerland whose restoration of an Olympic can be seen at www.classiccarconnection.ch. I emailed him on the off chance he had bought it? His reply was Sadly, I am not the lucky buyer - and so far didn't hear of a Rochdale arriving or being in Switzerland. I will tell you if I hear of it.
So, another car lost across the seas, I only hope that if it is a dealer we might see it pop back up on the internet for sale somewhere, probably at double the price he bought it for. It is sad to lose track of this car as with only around 100 that were produced, we only are aware of 16 and of those only 6 shells survive but it is terrific to see it restored.
Whilst I was trawling the internet for more Rochdale related information I came across an interview by Bill Monroe from 1996 when he was researching for his book "Carbodies the Complete Story". Part of this interview contained information from Peter Ludford who was the Daimler Body Engineer. The paragraph I am interested in is below, Peter Ludford states:
The other thing I worked with him on was the SP250 sports coupe, a strange thing in fibreglass. High mounted tail lights like a DS. They made 2, Bill Lyons had them cut up. It features in a few brochures. That was at Radford. The people who made the Peerless GT, they made the bodies. (Authors note- most likely James Whitson or possibly Wincanton Engineering- Whitson made the Peerless, Wincanton the Warwick) I worked right from scratch on that. I worked on the SP250 right from scratch when it was a prototype with a Rochdale Ford special body on it, which I had great pleasure in going out of Radford with the chief test driver and hit 60mph just before the halt sign at the bottom of the hill. All the Dart was done at Radford. We took a TR2 chassis, beefed it up a bit and copied it line for line. I was in the drawing office at the time. We went from that to the first production one that had fins on.
In the above paragraph Peter Ludford mentions the SP250 prototype originally was clothed in a Rochdale Ford Special body prior to the quirky SP250 body that was manufactured at Radford. I was really interested to discover more about this and the bodyshell used so I tried to track down Peter Ludford who had made this statement. My first port of call was the author of Carbodies the complete story, Bill Munroe. I found his website and sent him an email requesting contact details for Peter Ludford to which I received the following response.
Bill writes: Hello James, I guess you've been looking at the website of the man who is recreating the Vauxhall/Daimler hybrid, as I passed the text of a lot of the interview I had with Peter Ludford on to him. Sadly, Peter died about 10 years ago, so it's not possible to put you in touch with him.
You are going back to the late 1950s / early 1960s here, so finding anyone around who was at
Daimler is going to be hard. I struggled to find anyone who was at either Carbodies or any of the Daimler staff who were transferred there, when I was researching back in the late 1990s. However, maybe a letter in the Coventry Telegraph might help. Sorry I can't be of more use than this, but if there's anything else I can do, don't hesitate to get in touch, Best regards, Bill Munro www.billmunro.co.uk
Bills suggestion of putting a letter in the Coventry Telegraph is not a bad idea and is something I might be reporting on in the next ROC magazine. My next port of call though was the knowledgeable enthusiasts of the Daimler SP250 Owners Club whom I wrote to asking if they could expand on this story.
James, Here is my tuppence worth: I've read before (in very early write ups) that the SP was based on a TR2 chassis whereas most 'historians' say a TR3 but in reality there is very little difference between the TR2 & TR3 chassis design (see The Triumph TRs by Graham Robson - Motor Racing Publications). Now to the SPs. The two early prototypes were chassis no: 100000 Reg: WDU 653 (the red car) - this car/chassis was later cannibalised for the Hooper car and subsequently broken up. and chassis no: 100001 Reg; WDU 654 (the black car) (this series of registrations are Coventry and are May/June of 1958). It, I suppose could be said that these two early prototype test beds for engines etc COULD at a distance resemble a Rochdale but there are many differences in body design - I admit to never seeing a prototype Ford Rochdale. Next the Hooper Sports Coupe, the 1959 Motor Show model was white chassis no: 100571. It's has been reported that William Lyons - (later Sir), on acquiring the Daimler Company in the Spring of 1960 disliked the Hooper Sports saloon so much, that this Hooper car was dismantled and the chassis (only) later sold to RR Fabel - known as George Fabel and rebodied as an SP with the registration number 563 VC later re -reg as ESJ 924. James, I would buy/borrow a copy of the latest SP publication - the second edition "Daimler V8 SP 250" by Brian Long. Veloce published it under isbn no; 978-1-904788-77-5/UPC-:6-36847-003377-7 see their web site www.veloce.co.uk
Now this was not quite the answer I was hoping for, the owners club suggesting that the prototypes could have looked like a Rochdale at a distance but the way I translate Peter Ludfords statement is that the chassis was clothed in a Rochdale Body prior to the SP250 shells being produced at Radford, can anyone else shed any more light on this? It would be great to see a picture of this car before the SP250 shells were fitted.
To continue with my quarterly introduction into one of the many Rochdale GTs we have on file I thought I'd choose a car that we have limited knowledge of its history in the hope some of our readers may be able to update us, worked last time! The car in question this time is registered as RXO 366 which was registered in 1955. The file on this car though starts from 1991 when it was owned by Chris Lane from the Forest of Dean. I am unsure of its history prior to this but know that in his ownership Chris may have taken this car to the Burford Specials day in 1991 due to a little snippet in ROC magazine 48 which reads:
The August 1991 Specials Day saw Bert trailer the car over to Burford where it was joined by two superb GTs brought by Chris Lane from the Forest of Dean. I've mentioned Chris before as he owned and restored 466 EV (with demon sidevalve engine) some years ago but he had to sell up. Since then Chris and his wife Rose have taken over Drybrook Garage in the Forest, bought back 466 EV and acquired two more GTs, one of these was on show with 466 at Burford. (Could this have been RXO 366?).
Chris sold RXO 366 in 1997 to the next owner Peter Chalk as was detailed in the summer 1997 ROC mag 70 when it welcomed him as a new ROC member acquiring a roadworthy GT. In ROC magazine 72 Peter sent a letter to the ROC detailing a few adventures and issues he had had with his car, these mainly bordered around mechanical problems including overheating, faulty fuel pump and leaks around the windscreen and doors. Just below Peters comments was a letter from his girlfriend with her points of view on the new acquisition; my favourite para reads:
Fortunately, just before collecting the GT we took out road cover just in case it didn't make the trip from Gloucester to London with an overnight stop in Banbury. We got to Banbury without too many problems, we just stopped about 5 times to fill up the radiator and cooling system. When it was time to go home the GT decided it wasn't going to go without a lift, good job we had the roadside cover!
I can just imagine the conversation that was going on during that journey, I've been there a few times with my now wife in a few dilapidated jalopies! Unfortunately, I don't think the reliability of this car got any better and in 1999 an advert appeared in ROC Magazine 77 with a little note that read:
Sorry it's taken so long to put pen to paper again but regrettably this time it's to place an ad for our Rochdale GT. This is due to finances, work and trying to plan for a wedding and last but not least we have no garage and, as it's currently snowing a large influence!
And sold it was, to Terry Day who wrote of his woes in the Winter 2004, ROC magazine, he writes: I collected the car from Rochdale on Sunday, October 3, it was a round trip of 575 miles. On the Monday I gave the car a good going over. When I tried to start the car I noticed the distributor was jumping around all over the place. I looked closer and noticed the advance and retard mechanism had been taken off. I've managed to locate another and it should be with me soon.
I also started to get the electrics sorted, what a mess! The wires were cut off, joined together with tape tied in knots and quite a few were just dangling there. There was only one thing for it, rip the lot out and start again. I've nearly finished that bit. The next thing is to check all the mechanical bits like the brakes, steering and suspension. These seem at first glance to be in reasonable condition. The last job will be a total respray because the whole of the body is covered with small scuffs and scratches, but before then I'm hoping to get it MoT'd before Christmas so I can enjoy it a bit before I strip it down for a respray. The final comment on the article reads: Well, that's the theory: we'll just have to wait and see if it all happens!
But unfortunately it never happened. This aspiration to complete the car never really came to fruition and the car appeared on Ebay in 1997 and like so many others disappeared into the European market. The trail then went cold for a few years and then out of the blue in march 2010 I received an email from someone called Raggi Raffaele with an Italian email address.
The email contained a few pictures but no write up or reason for sending me the pictures; all that was written was Rochdale GT, 02DR, Chassis
n.863415, Engine 1172 Aquaplane, OCCT 1955.
The pictures were of a mighty fine looking Rochdale GT but I was unsure if it was known to the register due to its Italian number plate (on the rear), so contacted the fount of Early Rochdale Knowledge, Malcolm Mackay.
I think this is a car we knew (possibly ex-RXO 366, or EKC 854?) which has gone to Eire, been re-registered there, and now travelled on to Italy. I'm sure I've seen that grille before. Other distinctive features include the 15in VW wheels, fitted with spacers on the rear and, I'm guessing, a widened split beam IFS on the front. Raffaele should bring it on Liege-Brescia-Liege 2010!!
Malcolm was of course right, the grille, indicator location (previously mentioned as helping identify cars), bonnet and door hinges, exhaust pipe side exit position and bonnet locking hole all tally up in identifying the origin of this car as RXO 366. I wrote back to Raffaele asking for more information but had no reply from my requests. I even had some text translated into Italian just in case he didn't understand my Queen's English requests but still nothing.
Again the trail went quiet but in March 2011 the car appeared on Italian Ebay for a buy it now price of 14000 Euro, there was one offer made but I don't think it was accepted. I have since written to ask if he would let me know who he sold it to but again the trail has gone quiet with no replies to my repeated requests. So there we have it, another sample of a GT's potted history, hopefully someone can fill in the blanks pre 1991 and hopefully a new owner will get in touch with the ROC?
There are a few people in our club who I like to class as our Ambassadors, those who get out and increase awareness and promote the Rochdale marque. The direct effects of this are invaluable, a greater reputation for the club, increased funds through new members and as knowledge and popularity rises this must have an effect on the value of these cars. Another effect is what I like to call the Casual Encounter Effect, those random moments when someone walks up to you and says I used to have one of these. It is those Ambassadors of our club that get themselves out there and regularly fill my inbox with leads.
One particular Ambassador, Alan Farrer, was representing the ROC at the Bristol Classic Car
Show recently and was approached by someone called Michael Pook who used to own a Rochdale GT registered DRB 375. With the production of GT's believed to be in the 1500 mark it is not surprising that we didn't have a record of this registration amongst our 240 or so on the register. The list is ever growing though and with information fast disappearing it is essential we keep up our efforts in promoting this marque to collate some more history for the register.
I write to Michael:
Hello Michael, My name is James Farrington and I am the assistant to the Early Rochdale
Registrar of the Rochdale Owners Club. I have had some information that you used to own a
Rochdale GT in about 1964 registered DRB 375. This car is not known to the Rochdale Owners Club and we would very much like some more information about it, if you wouldn't mind? Any information helps no matter how small in piecing the history of these cars together. Information like, years owned, who bought from, who sold to, address at which car was owned in the 60's, location of person sold to/bought from, colour, interesting features and photos, anything really? Very many thanks, James.
Hello James, A coincidence as I have just found some photos (you can use them the magazine but copyright remains with me). History is: In the late '50s I bought a partially built special on a Morris 8 van chassis 1936-37 model I think. The body was a poor job so I looked around for a fibreglass one and liked the Rochdale. I remember going to look at one that had been built on a special by a handicapped person - he was in a wheel chair and it may have been at Swanage. Quite an achievement. I think I paid about ₤125-150 but the body still needed a lot of work particularly the door fitment and the fibreglass had a lot of air bubbles. The rear window would be pushed out if the roof was pushed up, so a fair amount of reinforcing was needed.
Since the body was designed for the Ford chassis the wheelbase matched the Morris but the engine was further back in the chassis which meant cutting out the bulkhead and making a new one about 4" back. The engine was only modified to the extent of an aluminium head of postwar Morris Minor MM design and probably increased compression ratio. Car was sprightly but needed a lower ratio rear axle as speed peaked at about 72mph. Body was bolted rigidly to the chassis which made for a very rigid structure and good solid roadholding. However for reasons I never did work out it was essential to have 10 -15psi more pressure in the rear tyres to get acceptable handling and good directional steering.
In July 1966 I went off to India to set up a factory and company and gave the car to my brother Martin who lived in Blandford, Dorset. When his wife became pregnant he had to sell it in 1967 to someone at Blandford. the car was built at Gussage, All Saints, Dorset and spent its running life with me at Corfe Mullen, Dorset and then Ringwood, Hants.
Photos Michael Pook
The 1961 photos show the car with original wire wheels (thin tyres!) and the not very good photo in 1963 shows the final form with disc wheels and cosmetic work like grille, rain gutters, windscreen surround trim. Hope this helps. If you have any other info or get any I would certainly appreciate if you passed it on to me. All the best, Michael
I write: Very many thanks for the article and photo's, and what great period photo's they are, don't worry copyright will rest with you and I will annotate them accordingly. I will make sure you get a copy of the magazine (please let me have your address) and hopefully let you know if we get any good leads on the cars fate! I think the wire wheels and thin tyres really make the car, it makes it look lean and classic, much better than the flared arch wide wheel fashion that some GT's have fallen foul to. I had a quick check on the DVLA website and unfortunately there is no record of this car currently being on the road, that said they do languish in the backs of peoples gardens waiting to be found so hopefully it will appear in the future. Once again, very many thanks for adding to the known history of Rochdale Motor Panels, two of our members live in Blandford Forum, don't know how big the place is but they may remember seeing a car around? Regards, James.
Richard Disbrows Olympic 886 WTT featured on the ROC stand at the recent Bristol Classic Car Show. The cars paintwork still looks in very good condition and the bright orange colour makes it stand out.
Richard has indulged his penchant for lightening, the doors in particular being attacked with the hole saw! There is also no door glass fitted! It certainly caught the judges eye as it walked away with a Highly Commended rosette.
Alan Farrer drove the car from Richards home to the show and will no doubt give us his driving experiences in due course. Unfortunately, most of the journey was behind a Wincanton tanker, so there was little opportunity to explore its performance on the 1098cc A series engine.
This Olympic has an interesting history. Detective work by Tony Stanton has revealed that it was originally ordered as a Riley Kit by a George Linsley on 12th July 1961. It was collected from the works on 4th November and registered 727 XTC at Preston in January 1962. This indicated a build time of a month, remarkably good going.
It then passed through a number of owners and eventually acquired as a bare shell by Roger Coupe. When in Rogers ownership the bodyshell was supported vertically on the Club stand at GMEX some years ago.
It then passed, still as a bare shell, to John Blanckley. John then built it into a running car, including fitment of a new sub-frame, in the early 1990's. As there was no documentation its original registration could not be retained. By 1994 it was with Graham Lyall and it acquired the registration it currently wears.
I was at Prescott recently for the local Rotary Club annual classic car event. This was of course in the Turner as the Olympic is still off the road, as you will read below.
This is an excellent, relaxed event, so put it in your diaries for next year.
An unexpected arrival was Tony Wright in his Phase 1 Olympic (779 CUG). This was the first Olympic that Alan Farrer rebuilt (he is now onto his fourth, so the medication is still not working!!) and features an MGB engine and overdrive gearbox.
Sir Stirling Moss was also in attendance, both signing autographs and driving a selection of the entrants cars up the hill.
Nevertheless, it was still a surprise to hear on the public address system. The next car up the hill is a Rochdale Olympic driven by Sir Stirling Moss. Unfortunately, the Olympic was none too happy and appeared to only be running on three cylinders, so progress was somewhat sedate. Later on Tony had a run up the hill himself, but the engine still sounded unhappy.
By the time we got back to the pits Tony and car had departed, so I hope you made it home OK.
As indicated above my Olympic is still off the road and I was somewhat shocked to discover that the last tax disc expired over five years ago. Doesn't time fly when you are having fun? However, I have just started work on the Olympics restoration.
First job was to remove the doors as, not surprisingly, the hinges need attention. This will also make access to the interior easier for the next stage of the work. Needless to say the vertical hinge bolt on the drivers side was rusted solid. Fortunately, it sheared off within the hinge casting, allowing its removal. On the bottom hinge I was able to undo the bolts holding the hinge to the door.
Nevertheless, removal of both doors was a day's job in itself, particularly without access to power tools. As mentioned above the hinges were seized solid and access is minimal to say the least.
Back in the workshop with access to an angle grinder the complete drivers door was soon stripped of all components. This door already has an adapted Morris Minor stainless steel window frame, fitted by me some years ago and came out with only a few rusted bolts to be ground away. This time I shall be using stainless steel fastenings which will make future removal easier (by some future owner hopefully!)
The hinges are to be modified using the Farrer method of Rose joints.
With the doors out of the way all of the interior including the dashboard and wiring was then removed.
The seats, which are original Rochdale Phase 1 have already been re-trimmed, which is probably a bit premature, so I hope I can keep the mice away! Incidentally the seats were sourced from two different Phase 1's and the trimmer remarked that they were both constructed and originally trimmed differently. Now they are a matching pair.
The plan is to fit an MGB engine and overdrive gearbox, so some re-formation of the tunnel will be necessary, hence the interior strip out.
Some time ago I purchased a Derrington HRG cross flow head for the B series engine. This is a nice period tuning modification, which supposedly produces more torque as well as power. However, this places the carburettors on the same side as the steering column, so some double jointing of the latter will be necessary. The alternator also finishes up under the inlet manifold, so it is all a bit tight on that side of the engine. Sorting out the route for the steering column is the next job, whilst the engine is still in the car.
Once this is done the engine/gearbox can be removed and the overdrive one inserted to see where the hacksaw needs to be wielded on the tunnel.
Will I make the back on the road date of 2012? Watch this space.