This is the largest influx of (mostly) new members ever. The word has got around at last and our membership is nearly 140, by far the highest in the Clubs history.
James has got a little carried away by the HaltonTojeiro and why not? On his doorstep a Rochdale bodied racer having a well-documented early life full of fascinating period detail and a mysterious afterlife. Derek Argyle has unearthed another classic motoring event in France (Laon was the first): a round-the-streets bash en Bressuire, SW of Le Mans. Could be fun.
The centre spread celebrates a very rare event a GT not just racing, but extremely competitively in a top motoring event. Congratulations to Tony Hansford and commiserations on the puncture which put paid to your chances.
This is the second year that this show has been held at Event City in the Trafford Centre. The ROC was represented last year and had a stand again on 21 & 22 September this year thanks to the efforts of our secretary Les Brown and his team. Derek Bentley and I drove up on the Saturday in Kermit, arriving about midday, and were ushered into the dedicated classic car park close to the halls by friendly marshals. Eat your heart out NEC. Coming in early on the Sunday morning, we were directed to the front of the site to act as poster special treatment! This is what Kermits friendly green colour does to people.
A good size and prominent location for the stand meant a good display, with a Mk 2 centre stage and a Mk VI, GT, Phase 2 and Phase 2R completing the lineup.The Mk 2, being reconstructed by Keith Hamer, had a very special A7 engine displaying Keiths machining talents. Roger Coupes Mk VI, looking as splendid as ever, won the 'Best in Show' award, much to Rogers surprise and delight, being the car that best represented the spirit of the event. The GT was supplied by Les Brown, the Phase 2 by Howard Evans and the Phase 2R by Jason Hoffman. Even Barry 'Whizzo' Williams came along and had a chat too.
Attendance looked a bit low, but this is bound to improve as the show gets better known it certainly deserves it. Alan Farrer.
Interviewing the star of the show
Not your usual A7 engine
In the last magazine I showed you the beginnings of Super Accessories and how the company came to supply all manner of parts for the Specials Builder; with this flyer you can see how the business expanded at the height of the 'Specials' Era supplying all sorts of body shells to cater for all tastes. Although the Rochdale Riviera and the Rochdale GT are the nicest cars on the advert an interesting car to note is the Monkspath Shirley.
This cars name wasn't derived from that of a Boss's daughter, like Doretti or Mercedes but from the fact that the garage that manufactured them was called MonkspathGarage, which was situated in Shirley, close to Solihull. This story bears a little resemblance to Rochdale Cars that came from...erm, you know the rest! Monkspath Garage manufactured the Shirley which was one of the earliest post-war kit cars and was originally called the Kenmar before, I believe, the manufacturing rights/body shells were sold by Ken Muggleton to Monkspath Garage.
During the 1950's the garage was a very busy place as they stocked a large variety of Ford Ten and Austin Seven speed equipment by Speedex, LMB, Aquaplane and Super Accessories, even supplying bodies and part built cars from other manufacturers such as Falcon, Hamblin and Rochdale Motor Panels (which is the reason I am digressing onto another make of car, tedious link, I know!). After the sale of bodies declined in the early 1960's they still carried on selling accessories for a number of years.
Moving on from inferior Specials building companies (I have to be biased), I return to where I left off from my last article, the HaltonTojeiro. It was never my intention to write any more on this car but since my last article so much more information has come to light I feel now would be the right time to continue.
So, in the last magazine you hopefully will have read about the history of the HaltonTojeiro and the circumstances around its current location. Well, a lot has happened since the last magazine which I will endeavour to get it all across in a logical format. Working at RAF Halton obviously puts me in the best place to find out the history of this Rochdale bodied, C Type, Tojeiro car and what better place to start than the RAF Halton, Trenchard Museum. This museum was opened in 1999 and aims to preserve and display items that relate to the history of Royal Air Force Halton and is conveniently located just across the parade square from my office.
When I went in and spoke to the curator he walked me over to a remarkably modern computer which contains quite an array of information from the Trenchard Archives and dragged up the database of pictures from the Halton Racing Car Club. I was pretty speechless! In front of me were some very detailed pictures of the C Type in all stages of build and this was only a stone's throw from my office - small world.
Not just this, but also in one of the bookcases in the museum is the entire back catalogue of the Halton Magazine; this is where most of my lunch times have been spent since the last edition of the ROC magazine.
Within this quarterly magazine is a section called the Halton Society, contained within this section are reports from most of the clubs at RAF Halton such as the aircraft recognition section, chess club, music circle, philatelic section and amazingly for me, perched nicely at the end of Halton Society articles is the Racing Car Club section. What a gift, an early Rochdale article that almost writes itself.
The articles piece the history of the HaltonTojeiro together beautifully and what follows are pertinent extracts from the Halton Magazine for you to delight, hopefully as I have? As previously written there were 3 main cars from the Racing Car Club, the Halton Buckler, the HaltonTojeiro and an Austin 7 Special. The extracts of these magazines may crossover to cover information on all these cars but I feel editing the extracts will lose the overall feel of what this club achieved. This may take up a little space and may go on to a part 3 but I feel it is something that may be of interest to the
The racing car section was started in 1954 to provide a means whereby people who had watched motor racing and had developed an interest in it, but who could not further this interest, would be able to work on a car both at home and as members of the pit crew. Work commenced on the first car, which is basically a Ford 10 engine, much modified of course for racing, mounted in a Buckler tubular chassis. Many of the other components, such as the back axle, are also standard Ford parts, some slightly modified.
After experience, some small modifications were made to the bodywork and for these modifications we are grateful, as we have been on many occasions to the workshops staff who have freely given their time and experience. Gratitude must also be expressed to many friends in the Motor Trade, one in particular, without whose generosity and enthusiastic encouragement the project would have been doomed to failure.
So far we have not had many successes being in third place in the local hill climb and members of the winning team in the Eight Clubs Speed Trial; for the latter success we were awarded the cup which was on show with the car at the 'Battle of Britain' display. Much praise, however, has been paid in the paddock at the club meetings we attend, the car being turned out before each race in immaculate condition by the enthusiastic members. At these events the car always arouses great interest, more perhaps for the enterprise it represents than for its performances. The appearance of the car and crew on TV is undoubtedly largely responsible for this state of affairs.
At the time of writing work has commenced on a second car. This will be more powerful than the first, having a Coventry Climax 1100cc engine which has been presented to us by the makers. It is proposed to use a Tojeiro chassis. We hope that this cars performance will enable us to compete with more success but the experience gained on the first car will be invaluable.
Unfortunately, one of our drivers, who also helped to build the car, has been posted. The rumour that his departure was the result of denting the bodywork is quite untrue!
The 1955 racing season has ended and the club has hibernated to prepare for next season. The section has acquired a bigger building in which to work and by partitioning off part of the building a club room has been provided.
The main interest in the winter months will be the construction of the new car. Satisfactory progress is already being made on the project which consists of a Coventry Climax engine, a Tojeiro chassis and a fibre-glass body. This last item will ensure a great saving in weight when compared with a metal body and this, of course, is an important factor in sports racing car design. So far, under the guidance of 'Chiefy', the engine has been installed and this has been quite an achievement in spite of its apparent simplicity.The other bits and pieces are arriving from time to time and together with the other items are gradually being transformed into a Motor Car.
Meanwhile the 'Halton Buckler' is undergoing modifications to provide more room for the feet in the form of pedal layout. The engine is being generally overhauled with alterations to the camshaft and the valves. It is worth noting that in the last seasons twelve races the 'Buckler' never failed to start and, moreover, never failed to finish though there was a narrow escape on the occasion of the last meeting at Goodwood where the car developed engine trouble just outside Guildford.
The club would like to express its gratitude once again to its many friends in the motor industry whose continued generosity is making the new venture less of a financial liability than was at first feared. The club was fortunate in securing its own tender van last season to carry equipment and club members to the meetings at Goodwood and Silverstone. Those who have travelled in the vehicle will testify as to its comfort and weatherproofing!! In 1955 we were blessed with good weather for our meetings, all concerned enjoyed plenty of good fun and good sport and are looking forward to an enjoyable and, we hope, successful season in 1956.
During the winter months to the casual observer the club has seemingly lain dormant. But, in fact, much hard work and planning has been done. The Halton Buckler has again been slightly modified, in that the foot pedals have been re-arranged, and the normal camshaft has been refitted, bringing the car into the 1172cc class, for which it was originally designed. A new carburettor and induction manifold have also been fitted. The Buckler has already been out on tests, which proved highly successful.
These tests also gave members of the club a chance to sample the passengers position under track conditions.
The new car which the club is building has advanced very rapidly since Christmas and very shortly it is hoped to have it off its trestles, as already the front wheels have been fitted. There is still quite a lot of work to be done on this new car but the main problems have been overcome. During the last few weeks, activity has increased with the arrival of additional parts and most evenings the racing car shop has been a veritable hive of activity. At times the new car could not be seen at all with the club members all working at their appointed tasks on the suspension, body, bulkheads or controls.
Here are a few details of the new car: - Chassis, Tojeiro: Engine, Coventry Climax: Fibre glass body by Rochdale Panels; MG gearbox: E.N.V. differentials and Hardy Spicer shafts; Dunlop wheels; Lockheed brakes and Lucas electrics.
We in the club would once again like to give many thanks to the members of the workshops staff who have given much help in their specialist trades, in their spare time.
During this race season, we have so far attended eight race meetings, most of them at Silverstone and the cars have competed in about 27 races. While not always up at the front, great fun has been had by all, especially the apprentices in the pits who, busy with stop watches urged the drivers to greater efforts.
We have had minor success, mainly in the high speed reliability trials, having attained both first and second class awards. Before the season closes we have at least one more date at Silverstone, thereafter retiring into our workshops in order to work on the cars for next year.
Flight Sergeant Hillyer, Chief Engineer and driver (with a very definite Stirling Moss technique) and Sgt Cornish have been driving the HaltonTojeiro during the season. We have welcomed 2 new drivers in, Squadron Leader Candy and Pilot Officer Hughes, both of whom show great promise. So far they have concentrated on becoming familiar with the Buckler so they may later graduate to the Tojeiro.
We are very sorry to have to say goodbye to Air Commodore G N E Tindall-Carill-Worsley, just as the racing season got underway and before the Tojeiro began to show its worth. It was by his efforts that our participation in racing sports cars was achieved, while his constant enthusiasm enabled us to continue with such a fine 'Stable' (Workshop)
This season has proved that both our cars are too heavy so that, besides incorporating certain modifications in the Coventry Climax engine of the Tojeiro, the reduction of weight in both cars will be undertaken during the winter. In addition, a 1934 Austin 7 has been purchased with the intention of converting it into a 750 Special for next season.
Good progress is being made in the conversion of an old Austin 7 chassis into a racing car. The generosity of the motor industry is again most evident. Squadron Leader Candy has succeeded Sqn Leader Sloper as the Officer in charge and we wish him best of luck in his new venture. To Squadron Leader Sloper we would express a very sincere vote of thanks. Under his able leadership the section has prospered and we are extremely sorry to see him depart.
The number of active Apprentice members now stands at its maximum of 30 and there is a waiting list for would-be new members. An Apprentice committee plays its part in running the section and particularly in the matter of Wing Liaison.
During the winter season members of the section have been busy on modifications to the Tojeiro and Buckler cars and have started to build the Austin Seven Special to be known as the Halton Seven. It is expected the chassis will soon be completed; the engine is almost finished and it is hoped to race it in June. The Halton Society van has also been overhauled and made serviceable. It has been repainted, windows have been fitted and new seats have been installed.
As a result of the continuance of petrol rationing, our racing programme is still only of a provisional nature but if sufficient petrol is available the club intends travelling to 14 race meetings during the summer season. Most of these will be at Silverstone, Goodwood, Mallory Park and Brands Hatch.
In this magazine is an article that was reproduced from a January 1958 article in 'Sports Car and Lotus Owner'
We have just been to the RAF Station at Halton, Buckinghamshire, in a Lotus. We almost stopped a parade it was certainly a case of eyes right as we proceeded along the avenue alongside the technical workshops and the car was surrounded by a horde of blue clad figures as we stopped. Enthusiasm for cars, especially of the sporting type was apparent everywhere. Like many other communities, Halton has a car club. The 'Halton Stable', however is a unique organisation which has, through keenness and determination, and the support of numerous trade concerns, undertaken the construction of sports racing cars whose mechanical reliability and standard of finish would be envied by many major manufacturers.
The Halton Racing Car Club, to give it its proper name, was founded in 1954 by Air Commodore G. Tindal-Carill-Worsley, whose aim was to give the Apprentices a technical hobby allied to the trades which they were learning. Halton is, of course, a vast establishment, housing some 2500 apprentices and their instructors in the grounds of an erstwhile de Rothschild manor and providing the RAF with a large proportion of its technicians,
The racing car club is itself a branch of the Halton Society founded by the late Lord Trenchard- which provides apprentices with a wide choice of spare time activities. Other clubs cater for such varied pastimes as gliding, dramatics, fishing, skiffle, sailing, shooting, chess and jazz. The cars therefore are the property of the society and not of individual members of the club or the drivers. As in all Branches of the society the club is controlled by Officers. There is nevertheless a strict rule that within the club rank does not exist; the equality thus engendered has never been abused by the apprentices.
The constitution of the club allows a membership of only 30. There is also a closed waiting list of 40. New members are elected by the apprentices themselves, care being taken that there is a fair representation of each section of the establishment. The clubhouse, embarrassingly near the Commandants house, comprises a workshop (which adequately houses 3 cars) and a room for meetings and discussions. In a sphere where as much depends on careful preparation, the apprentices naturally look to 'Chiefy'-Flt Sgt Hillyer- for guidance and advice.
But the entire running of the club is left to the boys, and many of their technical suggestions for improving the performance of the cars are incorporated. Such operations as welding and panel beating, as well as the maintenance and overhaul of mechanical parts, are well within the scope of the boys who will eventually become expert technicians in the RAF.
The Clubs workshops are a model of neatness and efficiency. Tools, spares and accessories are stacked away in lockers and, rare achievement, floor space is kept clear for work on the cars. Ten apprentices are allotted to each vehicle at present, while during the racing season tasks are shared out as the situation merits. Preparation for meetings takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings, when tools and spares as well as cars are checked for an early start on the Saturday morning. Departure at 6am is the rule, even for the short trip to Silverstone, and the apprentices usually manage to have their cars ready for the scrutineers as soon as they are open.
Although they can undertake all forms of work on the cars the apprentices are not allowed to drive until they have graduated. At race meetings they undertake pit control and all associated jobs but their instructors are privileged-and they really mean it-to drive. When the cars are driven to the circuits the boys are allowed to go along as passengers, while as many as sixteen apprentices have been seen to emerge from the 'transporter'. Eventually, after graduating, some of the Apprentices are given a chance to drive, under supervision, on a disused Aerodrome in Oxfordshire.
Pride and Joy of Halton is the 'big car' as it is known, the HaltonTojeiro. The construction of this car has been made possible by the generosity of a large number of manufacturers, but for whom the club would have never been able to expand its 'stable'. First and foremost, John Tojeiro presented suspension all round by wishbones and traverse leaf springs. Then an 1100cc stage 2 power unit arrived from Coventry Climax Engines Ltd. SU Carburettors were donated by the manufacturers. The MG Car Co Ltd provided an XPGA type gearbox and a differential unit (ratio 4.6 to 1) came from ENV Engineering Co Ltd. Other components presented by the manufacturers included Armstrong Shock Absorbers and Dunlop Wheels and Tyres.
Lockheads, who have assisted work on all the Halton cars, provided the clutch and brakes (for which Wellworthys supplied the Alfin Drums), While Smiths Instruments are fitted in Tojeiro and Buckler. In addition to instruments Smiths also presented special gearboxes for revolution counter drive on each car. Sparking plugs were donated by both Lodge and KLG and finally a fibreglass body was obtained at reduced price from Rochdale Motor Panels Ltd. The latter was built by the manufacturers as the prototype for a Connaught sports car, and has since been modified at Halton.
In addition to assembling and developing the car the apprentices have undertaken a number of modifications. Most notable of these is connected with the induction tract for the Coventry climax engine. The 2 1" inch SU carburettors have been fitted with twin float chambers and a special air box, with a baffle palate behind the front carburettor, is provided with cold, still air by an intake trunk broken half way along its length to avoid undue ram effect. Tuned length exhaust pipes were made in the club workshops, and fitted with a detachable silencer.
It has already been mentioned that the club does not recognise rank. All the more embarrassing, then, for Squadron Leader Candy to bring the Tojeiro into the pits knowing full well he might be criticised for over revving the engine-fortunately without ill effect. Criticism there was nevertheless there is little that the apprentices miss but criticism is always encouraged by the drivers.
At race meetings members not employed in the pits frequently station themselves on corners, having somehow obtained armbands which are usually quite inappropriate. Examples of the latter have included armbands for previous events on different circuits and even for entirely different sports.
Some are most gratefully accepted as pit staff by other competitors and in the paddock members are always on the lookout for technical innovations which might be of use to the Halton Cars. At club meetings on Monday evenings most complicated drawings are frequently produced in support of technical theories, but it is, unfortunately, not always possible to experiment with new ideas for financial reasons.
A further example of the intelligent approach by apprentices to technical subjects occurred at the Motor Show last year. Enquiring at the Lotus Stand about the maximum speed of the Elite, one of the club members expressed doubt regarding the figure quoted. After discussions regarding axle ratios and power output it was finally admitted that calculations had been incorrect, certain employees of Lotus engineering now have a healthy respect for young men in Air Force Blue.
The racing exploits of Halton Cars have not yet brought the club headline mention. At Silverstone last year 'Several Places' were recorded a second, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth in fact. There are many good reasons why an outright win still eludes the club, the most notable being that it just cannot afford a prang or mechanical breakdown. In this respect, the Tojeiro, already rather heavy for its 1100cc engine has been fitted with roll bars and other bracing members in an attempt to make it virtually indestructible. The drivers, whilst having tremendous fun, appreciate their responsibility to the apprentices and refrain from dicing in tricky situations. Then again, instructors are posted in accordance with service duties and new drivers must start from scratch.
Present driver, Flt Sgt Hillyer will be retiring shortly but the apprentices hope he will still be able to drive for them. Senior driver for next season will be SqnLdr Candy who has been with the 'Halton Stable' for 2 years. FltOff Hughes has also driven for 2 years, while 1957 was the first season for Flt Lt Walsh.
With a number of drivers, two cars and an enormous potential in the way of pit staff and mechanics, the club naturally chooses meetings where it is possible to participate in several races. The cars are never raced when the apprentices are away from Halton, although it is hoped that ten boys spending Christmas leave in the Midlands will go to Mallory Park with the Tojeiro for this years boxing day meeting (This didn't prove possible James). It is also intended to relieve the gloom of the close season by spending a day at Silverstone, so that a number of apprentices can be taken around the circuit as passengers.
Future plans have not yet been finalised, number one aim is a Lotus 11. The club might sell one of its cars to achieve this ambition, but it is obviously loathed to do so without consulting the many people who made possible the development of the Buckler and building of the Tojeiro. Then again, the Tojeiro could accommodate a larger engine, making the Coventry climax available for use in a smaller car; a further project involves the fitting of disc brakes on the Tojeiro.
Once entered for a meeting no Halton car has ever failed to start, except in one instance as a result of an occurrence entirely out of the hands of the apprentices. In the same way no car has ever failed to finish a race, although there was an occasion when a SqnLdr misinterpreted a pit signal and pulled into the paddock on the fourth lap of a five lap event. For this again the apprentices cannot be blamed.
For a final instance of the enthusiasm shown by members of the Halton Racing Car club, it is necessary to look no further than the pit and paddock area during a race meeting. The instructors are made fully aware that they have nothing to do but drive, and although they may have been seen checking final points before the start of an event- just habit really - they have complete faith in the work of the apprentices. What better justification could there be for the club's existence?
This section probably achieves more outside publicity than any other; that is, of course, by reason of its activities. It is, however, pleasant to record that a full page article in the 'Bucks herald' was recently devoted to this club and its 'Cinderella existence', as SqnLdr Candy put it.
The club has recently lost its No2 driver, Flying Officer Hughes, and a large number of keen apprentices of the 82nd Entry; Flight Sergeant Apprentice Sidden in particular will be greatly missed. But there are always the replacements, and Flight Lieutenant Cresswell and Corporal Paine have proved valuable recruits.
Many successes have been won during the season, including 3 first class awards at high speed trials. On Battle of Britain day, Squadron Leader Candy, driving the HaltonTojeiro, gained 5th place in the Motor Sport Trophy Semi Final at Silverstone.
Apart from the pride of the Stable, the HaltonTojeiro, the club has 3 cars, the Buckler, the 750 and the Mudlark a converted 1938 Austin van, which bears little resemblance to its former self, and is being prepared for the Aston Clinton hill climb, when it is hoped that one of Britains leading racing drivers will be at the wheel.
It has now been decided that the Motor Racing Club should concentrate on Go-Kart racing rather than circuit racing with our present cars. This is because of the tremendous enthusiasm shown by all the apprentices, both inside and outside the club. All this very keen and welcome interest in Kart racing has meant we have had to push our faithful Tojeiro and promising 750 into the background. Some of the ex-apprentices who were in the club a few years ago may regret this, but now the boys themselves have the opportunity to drive instead of only servicing the vehicles. We still hope to give the Tojeiro one or two outings in hill climbs.
Not satisfied with all this information I decided to produce a poster to display during the triennial Halton Apprentice celebrations. During these celebrations nearly 600 ex apprentices descended onto the parade square outside my office to celebrate this event. On the Parade square were also 2 Bucklers which had been brought along by the Bucklers Owners Club to try and find out some more information as to the whereabouts of the Halton Buckler.
Whilst talking to Chris Johns, the Chair of the Buckler Owners Club I started talking to two gentlemen who remembered the HaltonTojeiro, their initial experience was when they went looking to see what the noise of the revving engine was coming out of the stables, popping their head around the corner to see the Stn Commander looking at them, I can only imagine their face when they saw him!
Hello James, Good to hear from you. Attached are 4 photos I took of the 'Strad' (called because the Tojeiro parts were obtained on the fiddle) in the spring of 1956. The people in the photos are, in Strad 3 Mr Lacey. He was a civilian instructor I think an electrician. He was involved in wiring up the car. In Strad 4 Mr Lacey again, looking at the camera is Air Commodore T C W who was the prime mover and managed to procure everything. Fiddling with the carbs is Wing Commander French.
As we explained the name 'Strad' was because the whole thing was considered a grand fiddle, of course as apprentices we were not party to how things were obtained, they just seemed to turn up and be fitted. It was rumoured that the Climax engine was a recycled fire pump engine. There was a grain of truth in this because as you probably know the father of the Climax racing engine was a fire pump.
The technical master mind was Chief Tech Fred Hillyer assisted by Sgt Cornish who was a welding instructor, his work was sheer artistry. When I took those photos it was towards the end of my involvement. At that time, we were the senior entry and it was made clear we should be spending time on our studies for our final exams. However, I do recall spending a sports afternoon painting the newly arrived chassis with Valspar paint. I think the body was fitted in the early summer of 1956. I did return to Halton later that year and was taken out in it by Fred, we managed 100 mph between Wendover and Great Missendon but I never saw it race.
I regret there is little more I can add, most of my involvement was with the Buckler but a short note about Fred Hillyer. Halton at that time, and I am sure remains today, was about smartness, creases and shining boots. Fred did not conform to this image and he related that one evening he was invited to the Air Commodore's house in his usual oil stained working attire. He said that he had the distinct impression that the portraits on the wall were looking down their noses at him. After he left the Air Force he went to work for Alexander Engineering at Haddenham. They were specialists in bolt on go faster goodies.
One of the pictures I have looked like it may have been photographed within RAF Halton so I went on a search of the stables and to my surprise found the spot the photo was taken 57 years ago. It was a strange feeling standing in the same spot that the C Type was photographed, I could imagine the car being there and the smell, it was very strange. Because I was acting a little suspicious on a military base, I left.
So, that concludes the history of the HaltonTojeiro within the RAF Halton Racing Car Club, I know it was sold in the early 60's but I am not sure of who or where it went until 1989 when it was picked up from abroad by Beaufort restorations. A few articles from Thoroughbred and classic cars confirm this, stating:
Some years ago the remains of the HaltonTojeiro car surfaced in France and then were taken to Birmingham. They are now with Mike Williams of Beaufort restorations who told me: It is in truly dreadful condition; the chassis is banana shaped. No way could it be put on the road or track. During its lifetime it has had at least three other types of engine fitted, a 2.5 litre Daimler V8, a TR and a Jaguar. When the HaltonTojeiro is finally rebuilt it will have a body in aluminium, very similar to the original glass fibre one and will be fitted with an Aston Martin DB3S Engine.
Roger Coupes splendid Mk VI
Tony Hansford in Rochdale GT leads out of the chicane in the
Fordwater Trophy at the 2013 Goodwood Revival
This article confirms my thoughts from the last ROC Magazine, of the two claimed HaltonTojeiros in existence, as far as I know, one has the original bent chassis tubes and the other has the front and rear suspension of the original car. Further to this article another appeared:
When I wrote up the discovery again of the HaltonTojeiro in the January issue I was unable to provide a photograph of the car. I have now heard from David Drinkwater of Humberside who in the late fifties was stationed at RAF Halton and was very much involved in their motor club. He told me in his letter, Those wonderful summers of 1958 and 1959 gave me a taste for Motor Sport which has never left me. He sent me a number of pictures of the car, and the one I reproduce here shows it racing at the tenth MCC Silverstone Meeting on June 27 1959 being driven by Cpl Phil Johnson who was, I believe, one of the Mess Cooks.
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With the help of Photoshop and my friendly photo section at RAF Halton you can see the C Type being brought into the future by morphing the present and the past. I have to thank the Michelle at the photo section for taking and morphing this picture, she has no interest in classic cars and probably won't read this but I can't claim all the credit for the transformation.
Continuing with my Out and About theme, this is about a GT that I have raved about every time I write about it. This time though, thanks to the expertise of Tony Hansford (www.hengineering.com), this GT was not out on a static display but entertaining the masses in the Fordwater Trophy at the Goodwood Revival Meeting see centre spread for picture. This is a superb shot of the Rochdale GT, having just taken 12th place and passing most of the cars visible behind including a lightweight Alfa Romeo, an Austin-Healey, a Ferrari 250 GT BerlinettaTdF, and a Morgan and a Corvette too (just visible behind the chicane). The GT is built entirely to period late 1950s specification and is powered by a 1.5-litre Coventry Climax engine, the smallest engine in the race.
GTs were often raced in club race meetings in the 1950s and early 1960s, but as far as we know this is the first appearance of a Rochdale GT in any race meeting for close to 50 years. Many congratulations to Tony for a great performance and a car that is a real credit to the Rochdale marque.
On 21st and 22nd September 2013
Manchester Classic and Sportscar show opened its doors for the National and Regional classic motoring community with its autumn showcase of classic vehicles. Representation from the Rochdale Owners Club was strong thanks to all involved for pulling this together. Not only did we see a Mark II from Keith Hamer, a GT from Les Brown but also Roger Coupes Mark VI which won the prestigious accolade of best in show.
An exceptional achievement which earned the marque some more free advertising as detailed below in Classic Car Weekly. Well done Roger.
In the following out and about I wanted to detail JEX 105F which was seen out and about in Germany during the 8th Classic Car Gala of Schwetzingen. Now this isn't a recent 'out and about' as this photo was taken 3 years ago but it is the last outing that I am aware of for this particular car with an interesting history.
But first, we need to delve into the history of another car, RN 6800. This was a 1938 Triumph Dolomite chassis that was shortened and rebuilt with a Rochdale Mark VI body in the 1950's.
In the late 1960s it was purchased by Chris Mann and Jonathon Angel for spares for their Triumph Dolomites but, as it was too good to break, Chris used it for racing. He raced it at Silverstone and Crystal Palace, in races organised by the Romford Enthusiast Car Club.
In the mid-1970s, the Rochdale body was removed and RN 6800 was fitted with a period-style boat tail fabric and plywood body - the car continued to race in this form for decades and is still in existence in England.
The Rochdale body was saved from destruction by Jim Harvey, who stored it for a few years. Then, in the 1980s John Guyat was building himself a special using a home-made tubular chassis fitted with running gear from a rusted-out 1968 Jaguar 420 (registered JEX 105F). He bought the Rochdale body from Jim Harvey, made new doors as it was too short, and added Alan Mann Ford Escort wheelarches to cover the wheels. This is the car that can be seen in the photo above. Having unveiled the 'new' car he drove off to Spain in it for a holiday. On this trip the car went well, but he made a lot of changes later to make it more habitable and re-fitted the original windscreen.
John then sold the car c1985 to a friend who was using it as daily transport. Nothing more was heard until it resurfaced in the hands of Mr M Hills of Hemel Hempstead and was subsequently sold in 2009 overseas to Mr Andreas Blecker.
Since November 2012 vehicles manufactured before 1960 have been exempt from the compulsory MoT. A number of owners who tried to tax their vehicles on-line using the DVLA EVL (Electronic Vehicle Licensing) system, have found that the system was still requiring anMoT for an MoT exempt vehicle.
The DVLA explanation for this is as follows: If the vehicle has a valid MOT at the time of application which expires before the tax disc is due to start the application will fail, i.e. an MOT is required by the system. Once the MoTs have expired the system will no longer make anMoT check and EVL can be used successfully. Basically this is a one-off problem which will not affect the future use of ELV.
The practical way to get your pre-1960 vehicle taxed is to make the application at a Post Office that does motor tax. To avoid any potential difficulties, it is suggested that prior to your visit to the Post Office you should have completed either a V112 form (for most types of vehicle including cars and motor cycles), using exemption O, or a V112G form (for goods vehicles over 3500kg GVW and Public Service Vehicles), typically using exemption 30 or 19. The V112 and V112G forms can be downloaded from the gov.uk website, or obtained from DVLA local offices, whilst they are still open. Unfortunately, the Post Office appear not to stock these forms.
Some Post Offices might not insist on seeing the exemption form, but some will want to see this form and then it will be handed back to you.
On the V11 form, there is standard text which says, This vehicle needs an appropriate MoT test certificate. In the case of anMoT exempt vehicle this is an incorrect statement by DVLA. The Federation has asked for this text to be removed from the V11 form for pre-1960 vehicles, but the response has been: As the number of vehicles concerned is relatively small the costs incurred for system changes would not be approved so this [change] is not planned. So the misleading MoT requirement text will remain on the V11 for pre-1960 vehicles.
North Worcestershire Classic Car Meet
The Bowling Green Inn, Shaw Lane, Stoke Prior, Wychbold, Nr Bromsgrove, Worcs. B60 4BH.
From Midday Sunday 15th December 2013
From Midday Sunday 19th January 2014
From Midday Sunday 16th February 2014
From Midday Sunday 16th March 2014
From Midday Sunday 20th April 2014
West Warwickshire Classic Car Meet
The Moat House Inn, Birmingham Road, Kings Coughton, Nr Alcester, Warks, B49 5QF.
From 11.30pm Sunday 26th December 2013 (Boxing Day Special)
From 11.30am Sunday 26th January 2014
From 11.30am Sunday 23rd February 2014
From 11.30am Sunday 23rd March 2014
From 7.00pm Thursday 24th April 2014
CLASSIC CAR SHOW NEC 15th, 16th and 17th November 2013
As members will remember we did not get our club application for a stand at this years Classic Car Show accepted, but thanks to our good friends in the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club I was able to use a section of their stand to display a Rochdale.
A big thank you to Howard Evans for bringing down his Olympic Phase 11 CTO 289B to display on the stand, it was good to have a car not seen at the NEC before.
Club members who visited the stand over the weekend included Derek Bentley, Ron Scarfe, James Farrington, John Plant, Stuart McCaslin, Ben Bettell, Robert Taylor and Bob Heppell. If I have forgotten any other club member who came to the stand, please accept my apologies, as it was very busy at times.
The FSCC stand looked really good this year, with the Rochdale, a Turner, Ashley GT and 3 Fairthorpes. Also thank you to Andy and Pauline Winston the FSCC stand organisers for their help over the weekend.
Rochdale Motor Panels History.
If members go to the club website, into the forum, go to General Historical and click on '1961 The Great Fire' you may find an interesting article.
Olympics and Owners from the past discovered.
The members who read my articles will be pleased to know that the previously unknown Phase 1 Olympic registration number - 120 DPX - that belonged to Fred Naggs has been sold
to Phil Varley from near Leeds. Phil wants to restore it to original condition and I believe Phil owns a company which restores 1960s Motor Scooters.
At the end of August Les Brown received the following e-mail from Sweden. I have left the text as we received the e-mail to demonstrate the problems we have researching cars from abroad with the language differences.
I am Carl Bergstram Sweden and I have stumbled over an Olympic phase 1. My problem is I have no papers but I know that the car came to Sweden in the seventies and dismantled. The car had a Coventy climax engine. Front and rear suspension are still there steering but no steering wheel. intact instrument panel cut out nothing electrical left. Pedal system looks like some BMC system with standing cisterns but not there. The suspension looks renovated with new, well nearly, paint. One drum missing Fine discs in front. The car is born LHD. I have no papers no old plates. I bought the car so it wouldn't just be wrecked, and as I have to many old race cars to keep rolling I don't know what to do with it. At least I would use the time to find out more about it maybe find papers and a drivetrain for it I guess an BMC engine would be ok. Sending some pictures so you see it's not a project for the fainthearted.
Kind regards Carl.
The car is in poor condition and has numerous holes cut in the bodyshell. There is no engine or gearbox but the car is rolling on all four wheels. On looking at the photos sent I could see because the front wheel was turned to the right that the steering rack was forward of the front axle line and not behind the axle line. Also there appeared to be large tubes bonded in to the sides and top of the engine bay.
I e-mailed Carl and asked if he would send me a photo of the engine bay, one of the front suspension and one of the rear axle. From the photos Carl has sent me I think the rear axle is a Ford 109E 1960s Consul Classic. The front subframe is a one off fabrication, no part of it is Phase 1 subframe.
The engine mounting were smaller tubes bonded into the lower part of the sides of the engine bay, but had been cut off. These mountings are for a side-mounted engine.
The front suspension is wishbone and coil springs, with the top link being part of the damper unit. Lots of head scratching going on, could it be MGA/MGB?
Looking at the photos I have of Fred Naggs Phase 1 - 120 DBX - which has a complete MGB suspension and subframe fitted, it seemed to be similar. But the top link on the MGB is straight and this one curved down to the kingpin. Revert to Google, '1960s BMC front suspension' after a few minutes, bingo, Austin Healey 100/6 curved top link and the lower wishbone, coil spring and damper are bolted to the steel monocoque with no subframe.
Now on the phone to Derek Bentley to see if we could identify the car. Having described to Derek the details I had found on the Olympic, Derek reminded me about a car in the factory ledger which we had discussed a few years ago. This was order number R1585, dated the 22nd April 1961 for a Mr Bridgeman, Beeston, Nottingham. One Red 'A' type Olympic bodyshell to take Austin Healey suspension. At the time a few years ago we thought this could be A.H. Sprite suspension, but then all we knew about the car was the copy of the order (the Swedish car has a red gelcoat).
The order also shows the parts received for modification included 1 rear axle and hubs, 2 wire wheels, 1 propshaft, 1 hand brake, 2 front wishbone units and hubs. The order also states the bodyshell was to take a side mounted Ford 105E engine.
It looks as if Richard Parker designed and built a new front subframe to take Big Healey front suspension and this was bonded in to the Phase 1 body.
The total charge for these modification was £15. This may seem cheap, but April 1961 I had just left school and was earning £2 & 7 shillings a week.
The car was all RHD so someone has converted it to LHD.
Looking through the list of Olympics for sale adverts in the database I found from MotorSport February 1966 the following: -
1962 OLYMPIC, Midnight blue, Austin Healey wire K.O., modified suspension,
105E tuned, radio, 15,000 miles X tyres, Microcell seats, £320 ono. Beeston, Nottingham, Tel: Nottingham?
I have traced Mr Bridgeman, but he was reluctant to talk about the car. He does not remember the cars registration number or where the car went to when sold and does not have a photo of the car. The car was re-sprayed blue after an accident with a lamppost (the Swedish car had been sprayed blue).
On the opposite page to the order in the ledger there is a note saying new owner:
Mr Ian Brownsmith, Stourbridge Road, Fairfield, Nr Bridgenorth.
I cannot trace Mr Brownsmith; the closest I came to a lead is that he went to live in France years ago. If true this is maybe, why it is now LHD and in Europe.
Carl is looking to see if he can find more information on the car in Sweden.
So Tony and DUFFY wish all members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Contact details for any member who wishes to send me details on the history of their Olympic. Tony Stanton. - firstname.lastname@example.org or 01527-402367.
And a note to end on: -
Something to really be careful of at this time of year
Since the Christmas holidays are fast approaching, and you may be attending festivities where alcohol might be served, I would like to share an experience with you about drinking and driving. As you well know, some of us have been known to have had brushes with the authorities on our way home from the odd social session over the years. A couple of nights ago, I was out for a few drinks with some friends and had a few too many beers and some rather nice whiskey. Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit, I did something I've never done before - I took a bus home.
I arrived home safely and without incident, which was a real surprise since I had never driven a bus before and am not sure where I got this one, nor am I sure what to do with it now.
It was a small article in one of the Classic Car magazines that first drew my attention to the Bressuire Grand Prix Historique. This sounded interesting and could be a good excuse for another motoring trip abroad. Perhaps this was an event for old Grand prix cars and similar to the Angouleme weekend.
Into my computer I Googled in 'Grand Prix de Bressuire' and discovered a wide selection of mostly older classic cars being driven around the closed-off streets of Bressuire town centre. I needed to know more and was able to write to the President of the meeting, Monsieur JeanClaude FILLON who sent me a copy of the 2013 programme and details of how to enter. Anyone with a classic or vintage car and over 18 could take part so long as they had a British driving licence and would turn up with a crash hat. No passengers could be carried around the circuit. The programme showed the layout and the placement of straw bales set to maintain speeds in keeping with purely 'Demonstration' runs, not, out and out racing, but, one or two small French saloons were seen to indulge in tongue-in cheek cornering tactics because of their simple swing axles. Chris and I decided that this would be the sort of weekend we would find irresistible and the Special could be involved.
To take part, all that is necessary to begin with is to contact M. FILLON via e-mail and ask for 'un dossier d'engagement' s'il vous plait, sending him your e-mail and home address. You will then receive in February/March an entry form to be completed and returned.
Contact address: email@example.com The meeting doesn't appear to have an entry fee, since drivers will clearly be entertaining the townsfolk watching from behind the straw bales and barriers.
A little about the town and its history. Bressuire is in the Deux-Sevres department of the PoitouCharente region, mid-western France. It is 80 miles south of Le Mans and 150 miles from St.Malo as the crow flies. Bressuire is a small town of about 20,000 inhabitants and stands on rising round overlooking the Dolo that is a tributary of the river Argenton. It has a 12th century church and a ruined castle though a modern one has been built alongside. The English held the town until 1370 when French forces recaptured it and, evidence of the towns existence is to be seen around the Chapel of St. Cyprien dating back to the 11th century. The area is noted for cattle, melons, apples and sea-food brought from the nearby west coast.
The programme shows that other Brits have beaten us to the event in earlier years and can be seen to be driving such cars as Aston Martin Ulster, Lotus 6 & 7, Bugatti type 35b, Austin Healey 3000, Ford Anglia, Brescia Bugatti, Riley 12/4, Bentley 1937, Alvis Speed 25, Lomax 223 three wheeler, Healey Silverstone, and a Sammio Spyder.
The French are driving a wide selection of cars including NSU Prinz, Renault Dauphine, Formula V, Mini Marcos, TR2 and 3, Renault 4 CV, Austin 7, MG M and Q type, Fiat Balilla ,
Jaguar C type, Audi Quattro and Lola T29. There are five classes to suit all vehicles including Voiture Ouvreuse, Tourisme, Cyclecar, Sport, and Monoplace. The demonstration runs take place on Saturday afternoon, the 28th June and on Sunday morning the 29th. A final Parade and Awards will be presented from 18.30 hrs.
Handily placed for Le Mans Classique the following weekend? - Ed
Project ST (part 2)
'Ugly Duckling into a Swan'.
Well some progress has been made on the ST rebuild, but not a lot. This has partly been due to the fact that it's been a good year for sailing, and also the Manchester Classic Car Show took up some time. The show was a great success for the club, all our thanks go to our club secretary Les Brown who managed to get a great cross section of cars there including, for the first time, a Mk 2, under restoration. Nobody was more surprised and delighted than I when my Mk 6 got best car of show.
The way things are progressing it won't be all that long before we will be able to get together that full line up of each model of our Rochdale Cars
It is nice that there is a Classic Car Show back at Manchester. This show is quite nostalgic to me because the first big show the club organised was at Bell Vue Manchester back in September 1982 (see club mag No 7).
Coming back to the 'Ugly Duckling'. As the photos of the ST show some progress has been made with the rolling chassis even though the manufacturer has still not been identified. The chassis design is similar to the Halifax chassis as fitted on my Riviera in that the main frame is 3in dia tubing under slung at the rear and is the standard 7ft 6 inch wheelbase, one difference being that this chassis retains the Ford transverse spring at the rear.
The main difference however is that the engine is set 6 inches further back in the chassis, therefore the prop shaft and torque tube has obviously been shortened. The chassis is riding on 15in Ballamy wheels with spacers similar to my Mk6.
The engine I have installed for the time being is a Ford E93A 998cc with twin 1in SU Carburettors & four branch exhaust, linked to an E93A gear box with Buckler close ratio gears. The rear axle is also Ford fitted with a 4.7 Buckler crown wheel & pinion. The front axle is split & converted to coil springs with telescopic dampers.
The braking system which still has to be refurbished is a hydraulic conversion which was produced by Bowden Engineering Co.
The body shell is in a very poor condition and very thin in parts. There are no internal wheel arches or bulkheads but as the photos show the bits are being stitched together. There are however lots of sections that will have to be made from scratch.
I thought my Mk 6 body had been a challenge, but the ST is one step worse. But there are not many of them left, so it will be worth the effort. (I still have most of the body sections of another Mk6 body if anyone is interested or mad enough for the challenge.).
Well it looks like I will only be able to sing the second verse of the Hans Christian Anderson's Ditty for a long time to come, but I can still dream about the time when or if I can sing the last verse of 'Ugly Duckling into a Swan'.
That poor little ugly duckling
Went wandering far and near
And at every place they said to his face
Now get out of here,
Get out, get out, get out of here.
And he went with a quack
And a waddle and a quack And a very unhappy tear.
When I think back to when I was renovating my Riviera I remember having it on the Club stand at Classic Car Shows for about 2 years while it was going through its rebuild. So maybe the same will happen with the ST ( at the Manchester Show), that's if Les will accept it.
What's in a Name?
Rochdale? What sort of a name is that for a sports car? The wisdom in naming an appealing high performance car after a town in the industrial north is one which has often been discussed. It all started logically enough, with Rochdale Motor Panels, a name that said just what it was. All sorts of firms had names like this, though most abbreviated theirs as they grew larger and expanded into other areas: think Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) or Birmingham Small Arms (BSA).
Whether these names would have worked as a 'Birmingham', say, is open to conjecture - though there was a (nice) special sold as a Shirley, of course. But Rochdale, rather than RMP is what the name WAS shortened to, and it is now this close link with the town that I am now very aware of in the naming of the forthcoming book.
For a long time, I had just referred to it as Poor Man's Porsche - the cars had been known by this cachet, and to me it didn't reflect badly on either car. But to some, it clearly did - a cheap version of the German car? An implication the owners were poor? And, worst of all, there was no real connection in the title to what the book was actually about. So it had to go.
When Rochdale Made a Sports Car was liked by some, though it was criticised as being a good sub-title, not a title.
Fifty Shades of Fibreglass raised a smile in most quarters, and it was actually quite appropriate in a number of ways - but ultimately rejected as being rather too flippant for the cars first dedicated appearance in print. Still not sure if I was supposed to take it seriously, Alan!
So, ultimately, we come back to ROCHDALE - Sports Car Pioneers. The simplicity of this one has grown on me, John Walkingdon is taking the credit though I think it was Pat who tweaked it to this form ultimately. But thanks to all who made suggestions. Over the years, the car has become perhaps more closely connected with the place of its birth than most, so it makes sense to go along with this. It might be that some who know relatively little of the cars may be happy to find out more through the book; also the title tells you exactly what it is all about. Lastly, the issue of bubbling to the top in any internet search engines is all important - it is unlikely anyone will type in Poor Man's Porsche, for example, but all those who enter Rochdale into e-Bay, for example, should find the book foremost in the responses produced.
If you're not up to speed on the social history thing, the Co-op movement was founded in Rochdale just five minutes� walk from both Hudson Street and Littledale Street by a 1844 merchant group calling themselves The Rochdale Pioneers. Rochdale - pioneers - get it? So the term is very well known locally, and its application in this context should strike a chord amongst local folks.
What about production? I had hoped to hit the shelves before Christmas, but this is now unlikely to happen. However, it has become very apparent that things are changing very rapidly indeed in the printing industry. I had been moving towards a print run of 500, based on good responses from people who were not Rochdale owners, as it is vital to get to such readers if the scheme is to be viable financially.
A book about Rochdales is hardly the sort of thing to write if you are trying to make your fortune, but it would be nice not to be actually out of pocket at the end of the day, and just a matter of months ago 500 was the sort of number needed to make any economic sense. New technologies have very recently made runs of 250 possible at not that much more expensive a rate than for 500, however, and this now looks likely to be the initial figure. I am even told that a pre-run of about six copies is possible, and I am really struggling to get my head round that one! It should be possible to sell the 240-page book inside the £30 target figure (softback) or a little over for a hardback version (about £6 difference). Whether 'some of each' is possible isn't clear at the moment, but the softback option seems the more likely - please let me know if you have strong feelings on this one.
Excellent news on the membership front. Total number of members has risen this year to 137, I believe by far the most we have ever had. Twenty new members have joined so far in 2013, with six new GT owners being especially pleasing. Stuart McCaslin has followed this up with a quick count of cars now in the club, which I believe makes interesting reading:
Mk VI 1
F Type 2
C Type 3
Ph 1 59
Ph 2 37
Ph 2R 6
No Car 20
Points to note here: no early cars are registered with the club, though quite a few are known to exist, and there are almost certainly other members' cars not included here. Please let me know if you have changed car - or perhaps expanded your collection?
A few issues ago, photos of David Whitehouses F-Type appeared in the magazine with the comment that they didn't do justice to the car. I wonder if this one does? I have been reworking a lot of the old pictures with Photoshop, it really is amazing how much life you can breathe into faded pictures just by tweaking the contrast, etc. Also a lot of the early negatives were so big, they actually gave some very high quality images. This is a much more recent Motor Show one, masked, and background darkened.
The next one IS in the book! The more observant members may also notice that the parking meter and a couple of BMWs have mysteriously disappeared from the cover picture of the book. David Blaine, eat your heart out.
Is there such a thing as an original 'standard' Olympic? I suspect the answer is probably not!
The prototype was developed to use Morris Minor Components as it was thought this would become the new Special Builders car and take over from the Ford 8/10.
Initially, the Olympic was only available as a monocoque body/chassis unit to which the builder would add his own mechanical components. Items such as trailing arms and spring damper units were included and the builder would send their axle to Rochdale to have the brackets welded on and the steering column lengthened etc.
It was realised fairly early on that the 'B' series engine from the Riley 1.5 and Wolseley 1500 could be squeezed in and that their suspension, axle and braking components could also be used, without drastically altering the design. This would give much increased performance availability.
RMP Literature lists the following performance figures:
37 BHP @ 5000 rpm
66.5 BHP @ 5000 rpm
Acceleration 0-30 mph
Acceleration 0-50 mph
Acceleration 0-60 mph
85 - 90 mph
45 - 55 mpg
35 - 45 mpg
For customers, who perhaps had bought a GT and hence were familiar with the sidevalve Ford the 'F' type Olympic provided an option to use these Ford components. Here too the builder would send his axles (front and rear in this case) for modification. So, cars built up from a bare body/chassis unit would incorporate whatever components the builder had available, and so probably no two early cars would have been the same.
Once the decision had been taken to offer complete kits the situation changed slightly. The Riley kit, which was the most popular, used as many components as possible from that model, including such items as instruments.
Similarly the Minor based kit used as many components as possible from that model, although it is not known what instruments were supplied with this kit. As an alternative to the Morris Minor engine, the Ford 105E engine could also be supplied. Whilst no figures were given in the literature for the Ford 105E engined version it produced 39 bhp, so would have been similar to the Morris Minor version, the engine being only slightly heavier.
Trim on the Phase 1 kits consisted of moulded GRP panels with a 'leather cloth' textured finish incorporated within the gellcoat. This resulted in hard surfaces, which would not have contributed to any sound insulation. It is likely therefore that a number of owners would have had the car trimmed in more conventional 'soft' materials. In fact, some years later Harry Smith admitted that the trimming was one feature that let the car down.
Even once the complete kits were available a number of body/chassis units were still sold. In addition, Rochdales were always prepared to provide alternative specifications, particularly in the engine department.
When the Phase 2 arrived in January 1963 the Ford 1500cc engine was standardised for the kit versions. Initially these were 'tuned' by Harry Ratcliffe, until the GT version was available from Fords.
The instrumentation was supplied specially by Lucas and trim specification was also improved, so probably more cars would have been assembled in the form they left the factory.
Even so, Rochdales were still not averse to providing a bare body/chassis unit for the builder to add his own mechanical components. In addition, if a customer specifically required the BMC B series engine in lieu of the Ford this would be supplied.
Initially, both Phase 1 and Phase 2 kits were available, but very soon the Phase 1 would only be available as a body/chassis unit.
Later on it was decided to stop using the Phase 1 moulds. Therefore, if an order was received for a Phase 1 what the customer received was a Phase 2 body/chassis unit with phase 1 front sub-frame fitted. (The cars we now designate Phase 2R). This decision may have been taken due to the deterioration of the phase 1 moulds, but more likely because the Phase 2 was easier and therefore cheaper to mould due to the reduced number of internal mouldings to be bonded in compared to the Phase 1s.
It should also be remembered that the cars were generally sold to enthusiasts, who by their very nature would have wanted to incorporate their own ideas into the finished car. Furthermore, once the vehicle passed to the second, third or fourth owner they were becoming cheap unusual 'kit' cars to be either kept going on a small budget, or modified to suit the new owners requirements.
As a result, today it is unlikely that you will find two Olympics that are identical. It is not surprising therefore that we are prepared to judge the cars on their condition, rather than how original they are.
The Olympic Registrar is hoping to move house mid-December, although an exact date is still awaited. As a result, the address and telephone number will change. Any mail sent to the existing address will be forwarded.
Email contact details will remain the same. Apologies if you have difficulty in contacting me during this period.
May I wish all Rochdale owners best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Here's hoping that 2014 sees more restorations completed, including that on my own Olympic and perhaps even a start on the Riviera!!