No 142 SUMMER 2015
I forgot to include renewal notices in the last magazine so, for those of you who have not renewed, there is one in this issue, or a membership card for those who have. See p 3 for details on renewal and joining.
The return to our previous venue at the Coventry Air Museum was reckoned to be a good thing. We had a good turnout of members and cars and welcomed new Chairman Howard Evans (see page 2). We also tidied up the Club Rules a copy of which, and the minutes of the meeting, can be seen in this issue.
As mentioned in the Spring issue I will step down as Editor at the next AGM. Les Brown, whose book has been a resounding success, is willing to take my place and in my view will make a splendid editor. So we are looking for a volunteer to take over as Secretary if there are no takers for the Editor position. Your Club Needs You.
Kermit (I am not sure I like this name any more, but it identifies the car), has been treated to a new alternator since its troubles in February. Everything seems to work OK now, as borne out by a trouble-free 780 mile trip to the Spa Classic recently, so a straightforward repair. A not quite so straightforward repair is next on the list, though: new wiper boxes. Wish me luck.
Bristol Classic Car Show 13-14 June at The Royal Bath & West of England Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN. We have a stand at this show each year, so come along and lend a hand on the stand. It's a very friendly show with plenty of parking, especially for classic cars, which have their own space close to the halls.
Silverstone Classic 24-26 July.
Historic Specials meeting 9 August at Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford, Oxon.
A Few Words from the Chairman.
At the Annual General Meeting held in April, it was a privilege to be elected as the Chairman of the Club so, for those who don't know me, I thought I would write a few words of introduction.
My name is Howard Evans and I have been a member of the Club for seven years, owning a 1964 Phase II Olympic.
I have a 'day job' with Bentley Motors in Crewe where I am responsible for Electrical Distribution Systems as a Chartered Electrical and Electronic Engineer.
Although not a native of Rochdale, I moved there in 1962 as a schoolboy, and was made aware of Rochdale Motor Panels by my father who was the companys bank manager. Through this connection, I visited Littledale Street on a number of occasions to scrounge materials for my model boat making hobby and my interest in the marque has continued ever since!
I lived in Rochdale until 1969 when University and a career in the motor industry took me away, although my parents remained in Rochdale for the rest of their lives and the town still feels like 'home' to me to this day.
Over recent years I have witnessed a significant growth in the awareness of and interest in the cars and their origins, resulting from the ongoing dedication of members at large, and through high-profile events such as the 'Olympic Games' celebration in 2012, and these, supported by the publication and 'sell out' of Les Brown's book, give us a very strong foundation on which to build our future.
I will strive to continue the sterling work that taken place under Ron Scarfe during his chairmanship, and look forward to supporting and promoting the Club, its members, and Rochdale cars at every possible opportunity.
The year has seen remarkable progress with registered numbers up to 154 at the time of writing. This has to be the largest number that the club has ever had, and new members continue to join us at a steady rate, which is very pleasing. The downside of this however, is - not all existing members have paid their subscriptions for the year - 59 at the time of writing! So if that figure does include yourself, please forward your payment as soon as possible.
Fees paid cover each financial year, ie 1st April - 31st March and the rate for each year is still just £20 for UK members. Joint memberships are available for £25, while fees for overseas members who require a printed magazine the rate is £30 to cover the extra postage costs. If this is not required, and you are happy with us sending an e-mailed copy to you, then the standard £20 rate applies as for UK members.
Payment can be made by standing order from your bank direct to the club, or by a suitable cheque sent to the Treasurer, Stuart McCaslin at the address given at the front of the magazine. Another option, especially appropriate for overseas members, is to make your payment by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
If following this option, please try to send this as a payment to a friend/family otherwise charges apply - this option seems to be open to members in most countries, though perhaps not all (although PayPal say it is!) Please make sure the payment includes your name and membership number - it isn't always obvious!
A membership form for the year is included with this magazine and should be forwarded with your payment, to either Stuart or myself. If paying by PayPal then an e-mailed copy of the form is fine. I hope this all makes sense, and if you are one of the 95 who have already paid for the year, then that's fine. Otherwise we look forward to hearing from you!
To clarify another point for new members.
If joining between April 1st and December 31st, the full fee is payable and you will be sent back issues of the magazine for that year. Renewal will be needed the following April 1st.
If joining between January 1st and March 31st, the fee entitles membership until the end of March of the following year (ie up to 15 months), but no back issues of the magazine will be sent.
It was great to see so many old faces at the AGM back at the Midlands Air Museum. The new function room is quite an improvement on the old site office.
A big thank you goes to Keith for bringing the Club Web Site back to life. I hope that we will soon be able to see photos of every owner's car on the Members Cars section.
Well summer is on its way (we hope). My boat is back on the water and the temperature in the garage is back to normal so I can find no excuses for not to getting on with the ST.
The same as I reported in Part 4, to make things a bit more interesting I am now developing the dash board. As the photos show I am using an instrument panel from an old Wolseley. I have had this item on the wall in my garage for over 20 years waiting for just such a project.
The side panels of the dash board will be finished in Burr Walnut. The car interior will be trimmed in dark blue leather.
The ugly Duckling is starting to come out of hibernation, so watch this space.
GT Barn Find Part 2.
The only progress with this project has been to have the tyres removed for the wheels to be cleaned and painted so that the original Michelin X Tyres can stay inflated.
My thanks to Derek Bentley for letting me have a Ballamy wheel. So I now have a spare to share between my Mk6, ST and GT.
Every April, the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Congress is held in Detroit, which is still the spiritual capital of the global automotive industry. Congress is the premier technology event in the automotive calendar. It comprises a number of technical sessions held over a 3 day period and concurrently there is a technology exposition where vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers can showcase their product and process developments and capabilities.
I have attended every year since 1986 (other than that of the Lockerbie bombing), either as a presenter or organiser, and this year I was one of the organisers of the Electrical Distribution Systems session which delivered 9 papers.
There were 1501 papers being presented in total, with over 11,000 participants registered from 41 countries, and the event was held from 21st to 23rd April, sponsored by Honda and Continental.
Just to show the level to which Honda went, the exhibits below were in addition to those in the main event hall but included Hondas new executive jet and associated gas turbine engine, their Acura NSX hybrid supercar (a technological tour-de-force), and frequent appearances of the latest Asimo robot.
Within the SAE there is a Mobility History Group whose role is to document and communicate significant historical information relating to the industry. Its mission is 'The Past is Prelude to the Future.'
Each year it organises a whole day (2 sessions of up to 4 papers each) with presentations in this sector. There is also a stand in the exhibition hall which, potentially, is seen by every visitor to the Congress.
During recent years, notable contributions have been made on the Franklin and Cole marques, early developments in exhaust emission controls, and the history of Milwaukee Junction (an area of north-east Detroit adjacent to the railway junction of that name, in which some of the very early car manufacturers established their businesses).
Three years ago there was a very well-received paper on the Lotus Elite, accompanied by a concours-condition car on display.
Unfortunately I was unable to hear the paper as it clashed with my own technical session, but it started me thinking about offering something on the history of Rochdale!
Matters might have rested there had it not been for two things the 'Olympic' event in Rochdale and the publication of Les book. Both of these had conspired to get 'Rochdale' very visibly back into the public arena within the UK so I thought they should be complemented by something international! Therefore in June 2014 I offered to write and present a paper.
Rochdale Sportscar Pioneers'..
The title of the paper was chosen deliberately to allude to that of the book and, in parallel, Les had arranged for the SAE to have copies of the latter available at its bookstall within Congress. It has been written in the prescribed SAE format for a technical paper and is 7 pages long. It includes information about the town of Rochdale and the post WWII conditions in Britain which led to the growth of the 'Special'. The evolution of Rochdale Motor Panels (RMP) is summarised, from a car body repairer through to the development and manufacture of the Olympic. A little is said about the legacy of RMP on the town and an appendix includes the specification of a typical Phase II Olympic.
The objective of writing the paper was twofold to make it available as an SAE publication which could be purchased from them by interested parties ($25 a pop for non-members), and to get it published in an SAE Magazine which is distributed globally. Part one has been successfully achieved paper number 2015-01-0416, and part two partially, with the paper being approved for such publication dependent upon the decisions of the editors of two relevant magazines. Clearly such a short article can only overview the story, so the emphasis has been put on creating something interesting to read rather than going into great technical depth.
Although the copyright has been gifted to the SAE, I can send individual Club members a copy should they so wish (please 'PM' me on the ROC website).
To accompany the paper it would have been ideal to exhibit a car, but having ascertained that it was impractical to gain access to either of the two known 'North-American' Rochdales, it was decided to use the 'Olympic Day' display panels, particularly as SAE offered to fund their shipping to Detroit and back.
The effectiveness of the display panels can be viewed in two ways negatively, they were completely overshadowed by 4 pristine vehicles: a 1925 Detroit Electric, a 1944 Schwimmwagen, a 1952 Cummins diesel Indycar, and a 1960 Corvette. Positively, many of those attracted by the cars were seen to be reading the panels, probably from the perspective of curiosity, but nonetheless they will have gained some impression of the Rochdale story. The positioning of the stand on the route to the 'free lunches' will have helped in this regard! The pictures below show some angles:-
A presentation was given lasting 50 minutes which, in addition to the general story, included a section titled 'Living with a Rochdale' based upon my own experiences with my PhII.Olympic. 10 minutes of questions followed ranging from comparisons with the Elite and Corvette, to whether the Olympic had a specially-tooled windscreen.
As mentioned above, I have given many technical presentations over the years, but this one was different in one respect in that, for the first 5 minutes, the audience just sat there 'deadpan'. At this point it dawned on me that probably not one person in the room had heard of the Rochdale (or 'Rochedale' as the Americans would have it) marque, and as the story unfolded, interest clearly developed such that, after formal questions were answered, there were several follow-up conversations with members of the audience. One of these was Karl Ludwigsen, the renowned author of tomes on, amongst others, drivers Moss, Stewart, Fangio et al, and marques Porsche, Opel, Maserati, and Ferrari to name but a few!
So, to summarise, I feel that the opportunity was well worth having been taken. Thousands of automotive types will have been in the presence of the display panels; around 50 attended the paper presentation, which was good considering that it was competing with a coincident keynote address from the Vice-President of Honda; several senior SAE officials and automotive journalists now are clearly aware of Rochdale, and I have established a number of personal contacts which can perhaps be of assistance in the future.
In addition, a number of those in the audience have contacted me for more information following the purchase of the 'Sports Car Pioneers' book.
I will report any subsequent related activities in a future magazine.
The good news is that we are not hearing any substantial issues arising from the changes introduced to deal with the discontinuance of the tax disc, though there could still be a few curiosities out there which we will keep an eye on.
Of course the absence of the tax disc means that the Vehicle Enquiry System has become the primary route for checking on the tax status of a vehicle. It is being improved and has been running as a Beta site. It is our view that this means that a way has to be found to correct longstanding known errors in the data held by DVLA, especially as they concern historic vehicles. Ian Edmunds describes elsewhere in more detail how we are undertaking this dialogue.
We have done some research on the question of whether, if members take their cars abroad, overseas law enforcement officers will recognise the new position where keepers have no actual documentary proof of the existence of valid taxation. The position of DVLA is clear. They have notified our EU partners of the change and they think that exhausts their legal obligations. They are probably right. So our advice to members is that it would be prudent to carry the best available evidence.
On examination, that is probably the confirmation page which appears at the conclusion of the online taxation process. It can be printed off and does carry the required information in a pretty clear format.
But we know we have members who, either because they are not online users, or because they consider that we ought to use the Post Office service, will wish to renew their tax at a Post Office counter. In that case, despite the suggestion we had received from a few members just after the changeover, the Post Office always prints out a till receipt. That is the case even if the vehicle is exempt from VED. In that case the till receipt is Nil Value. The counter clerk should always hand the till receipt (even if Nil Value) to the applicant. We would recommend that receipt be accepted from the counter clerk and carefully retained.
Members who might be taking their vehicles abroad should really give consideration to whether in that case using the online system, with its clear A4 size final page, is preferable to the Post Office till receipt
The issues around the tax disc rumble on, not the fact of its removal, with which it is impossible to argue, but some of the consequences. There are two issues and one related matter.
The first issue concerns re-taxing at the time of transfer in a private sale.
We always try to give our members a clear steer as to the law which applies to them on any point.
However the official advice from DVLA regarding the position on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) when a vehicle is sold makes that difficult in this instance.
DVLA have consistently said, and we have duly reported to you, that even if the vehicle is taxed on the date of sale, the sale causes that licence to lapse, a rebate is due to the seller and the buyer must himself tax the vehicle before he uses it. They have said there is no 'grace period'. They point out that there are rapid ways of achieving this, whether online or by phone or at a Post Office. This advice is entirely correct for sales by motor traders or when the vehicle is not currently taxed or is on SORN.
We have looked long and hard at the law regarding this point and come to the conclusion that, in respect of most sales between private individuals, this advice from DVLA is not actually correct. Our understanding of the legal position has been independently confirmed.
If the vehicle is taxed at the time of sale, then the law (it is the Vehicle Registration and Excise Act 1994 as amended) says the VED will lapse when the vehicle is sold and the DVLA is notified of that fact. The only way the DVLA can be notified is by the existing Registered Keeper (the seller) posting the actual V5C to DVLA in Swansea. A private individual cannot do that electronically or by phone, the paper document must be sent. It is also clear that the sellers right to a refund does not arise before the V5C is in the hands of DVLA. Until then the licence is in force.
Now any wise buyer should assume the person who sells him the vehicle and hands him the V5C/2 will immediately put the V5C in the post. That is the legal requirement, and the seller will have a rebate to protect. But we think it is absolutely fair to say that where the vehicle is taxed at the time of sale and the seller is a private individual, a buyer cannot legally be obliged to apply for new VED until the V5C has arrived in Swansea, and that cannot be until the earliest time it could be delivered there by first class post. This could solve the problem of the evening or Sunday purchase, in respect of which the Post Office option, which some members would need to use, was never available, and also save taxing a vehicle which is to be immediately exported or for which SORN will immediately be declared, perhaps because it is heading for restoration.
There are unlikely to be any consequences from acting upon our advice, as of course if a vehicle in the situation described is seen on the road, the DVLA database if checked will show it as taxed.
Of course, if a buyer is able and wishes to comply with the DVLA advice and apply to tax the vehicle immediately online or by phone before driving the vehicle away there is no reason not to do so.
The second issue, dealt with more fully by Ian Edmunds in the DVLA section of this Newsletter, is the current state of the DVLA Vehicle Enquiry System (VES). It seems to the Federation that now the tax disc has been discontinued, the VES becomes a primary document of record and everyone who has a taxed vehicle is entitled to be able to rely on it to demonstrate the vehicle VED status to anyone who has a need to know it. That might be friends borrowing the vehicle, repairers who need to drive the vehicle for testing or, perhaps more importantly, various officials at home and abroad. We know that is not currently the case for a significant number of historic vehicles. We understand the long history of why some VES data is unsound, but we will be continuing to pressure the DVLA to bring it to a satisfactory state, if necessary with our help.
Finally, the DVLA approach does enable someone, who has never possessed the whole paper V5C, to obtain tax in respect of a vehicle, simply by reason of knowing the reference of the V5C of the vehicle. This is not a very secure process. Thus we have been concerned to learn that that DVLA has come to an arrangement whereby in the case of certain fleet users the V5C paper document may not need to exist.
The Federation fully understands the reasons for this, to avoid administrative complexity, but we will be monitoring any suggestion to further limit the need for a paper V5C. While we have always known that the V5C is the record of the Registered Keeper and is not a document of ownership, it is a document of record, at the very least of who has the right to a vehicle bearing a specific registration mark. This has been important in not a few cases concerning historic vehicles. Before that record is turned into a single digital record held by DVLA we will wish to see it be accorded the high level of security it requires.
DVLA Ian Edmunds
In the last edition I reported that I was in correspondence with DVLA on a couple of topics that had been raised by member clubs, in this edition I can report the outcomes, both of which I think are positive.
A member one-make club whose chosen vehicles are quite few in number and thus tend towards being high value was concerned about vehicles sold abroad and exported losing their British registration and with it a part of their history. I checked this with DVLA and am very pleased to be able to report that in the normal course of events the UK registration will be retained and automatically reassigned to the vehicle if or when it returns to the UK. It is not necessary for either the old or new keeper to take any particular steps to ensure this happens. Of course, if the keeper of the vehicle has, prior to export, removed the registration from the vehicle, a subsequent importer will not be able to restore it.
I have copied their exact response below:
The DVLA has clear operating instructions in place for a vehicle that was originally registered in the UK and then exported out of the UK, then returned to the UK at a later date.
1. Exported marker noted on our record.
2. When the application is processed for the import back to the UK, the chassis number provided (as long as it is the original) will link to a vehicle record and vehicle registration number that was originally registered at the DVLA. The original number would then be allocated to the imported vehicle to the UK.
3. The original registration mark may have been transferred off the vehicle as we sometimes find that before a vehicle is exported the keeper at the time decides to retain the registration mark for themselves (to put on another vehicle at some point), or to sell on due to its own value if this happens, the vehicle, on its return, will be allocated an appropriate age related mark rather than the original.
The second question related to engine changes in historic vehicles. This subject has been discussed with DVLA in the past but over a period memories tend to dim so a reaffirmation of the situation is useful. An engine change in a vehicle in the historic tax class should be notified to DVLA to enable the record to be updated and a revised V5C issued but, provided there are no other changes, it is not necessary to provide any supporting documentation for the engine because the change does not impact on the rate of duty. This remains the case even if changing from petrol to diesel or vice versa.
Also in the last edition I mentioned a new issue of DVLA form V765/3, to continue the theme I can now also inform you of an update to infamous INF 26 (dated 9/14) and to the lesser known INF 52, Large Vehicles you can drive using your car or lorry licence. This latter is dated 1/15.
Active and useful discussions about VES are ongoing with DVLA and changes are being made. I am continuing to receive reports from members about incorrect, or in some cases non-existent, returns from the VES. Please keep them coming, as it is all useful information both to us and to DVLA. However it is a massive database and revision is a necessarily slow process. Incidentally, contrary to information published in the historic press, the absence of a 'Make' from the drop-down lists in VES does not prevent the make being manually entered in to the system.
This is the 5th year of this event, which is similar to Silverstone etc, but a lot smaller (so far). I went in Kermit with co-driver Brian Shaw, in convoy with Derek & Anna Bentley in their Turner. We stayed in a camp site at Stockay about 7 miles north of the circuit (Camping Spa d'Or), where we met up with Colin & Ilka Breakspear (campervan) and also with Ben Bettell & Andy Hodgkinson in their Turner.
It was rather strange to find such a large camp site down such a narrow long and winding road, but the facilities were very good (as usual on the Continent); what's more it boasted a very good restaurant, so there was no need to venture along that long and winding road in the evenings.
Ben and Andy stayed at a B&B a short way off. This had, apart from the usual facilities, a robotic lawnmower to cut the grass and a Chinese (Japanese?) landlady, whose nude portraits covered the walls. They didn't dare take any photos of these pictures as she had a habit of appearing suddenly, like Clouseau's sidekick Kato in The Pink Panther. So not your usual B&B.
The circuit itself is in a beautiful forest setting in the hills and the track is about 5 miles round. We spent some time in the grandstand overlooking the old starting grid from which you can see the cars make their way up the hill at Raidillon. The Group C cars ignore the slope but some of the smaller cars have to work a little harder, as it's a lot steeper than it looks on the TV.
The problem for spectators is that only the local part of the track can be seen and, when there field is small (in one race there were fewer than 15 starters), there are long gaps when nothing is happening. Unlike Goodwood or Silverstone there were no big screens to keep us informed of either the action or the leaderboard, so some races got quite confusing (especially the 1 hour, two driver races). However, there was free access to the grandstands, so no complaints on that front and the entry cost was very reasonable too at £50 for a car and two occupants for the whole weekend, which also gave access to the paddocks etc. I imagine that in the future the facilities (and prices) will increase.
We met up with a Turner owner from Germany and with Olympic owner Duncan Mulvein who lives in France. Duncans Olympic Phase 2 has no engine, so he is gathering information before embarking on the rebuild. There is much to gather! The Turner and Olympic attracted the usual amount of interest and a writer for a Belgian magazine took details for a short article on the Olympic, so the marque is being introduced to a wider audience, although I didn't make a note of the magazine title unfortunately.
We used motorways throughout to simplify navigation and had the usual good run, apart from the M25 on the way to Dover and hitting Brussels at the rush hour. Drizzle for the first half hour of the return journey exposed the limitations of Kermits wipers, so work needed there. However he (it) averaged 60 mpg for the 780 mile trip. He is very abstemious is Kermit.
Camping the easy way
Parked up at Spa Francorchamps circuit
The rebuild saga of my Olympic 'Lisa Jane' (9557 LJ) continues. I have never given my cars names, but my wife Anna has recently christened it, so I perhaps need to explain. When I first bought the car in 1970 I was working for a small firm where the boss's wife did the typing (pre PCs!). During the school holidays her two daughters, then aged about 8 and 9 would visit the office. The elder one always said she wanted to buy my car one day because it had her initials (Lisa Jane).
Back to the technical stuff.
In the last issue I had assembled the rear suspension, but there are a couple of items I forgot to mention.
The damper units I used were the original specification Armstrong ones, produced for the Club a few years ago and original springs. One problem with the phase 1s is the lack of clearance between the springs and the body of the damper unit, so that graunching on bump is not uncommon. Some years ago I discovered thin plastic tube of the correct diameter to be a close fit over the damper body and provide a sleeve to the spring and quieten things down. Unfortunately, the Armstrong units have a larger diameter top spring mount compared to the previous Spax units, so I had to split this tube lengthwise to fit over the top mount. The joint was sealed with silicone before fitting the spring.
I also mentioned clearing the drain hole from the rear hubs to prevent oil leaking into the brakes. Another cause of leakage is that with age the surface of the axle casing upon which the oil seal bears can wear. The answer here is to fit a 'Speedy Sleeve' available from SKF bearing suppliers. This is a thin sleeve which fits over the worn surface of the axle and provides a new bearing surface for the oil seal. The item required has part number CR99174.
As a change from suspension and GRP work I searched for all the parts of the MGB engine stripped some years ago and started re-assembly work. The only part I could not find was the timing cover and here the Editor came to the rescue with a part from a local, to him, MG Breaker. The oil pump showed more than the recommended wear between the rotors and the two new Riley 1.5 ones I had were different in the casting and porting. Being a skinflint the new Riley inner rotor was fitted into the MGB casing, having lapped the end faces to remove wear. The result was an oil pump all within tolerance.
Next on the list for renovation was the front suspension. Apart from the brakes, the front suspension on my Olympic is Morris Minor, converted from the original Riley when the subframe was repaired some 15 years ago, so spares, if needed, are no problem.
Removing the adjuster from the rear of the nearside torsion bar proved problematical and in the end I had to take a hacksaw to the GRP to remove the complete bar and then a puller and heat were needed to separate it from the splines. It will be going back with plenty of copper grease. It meant more GRP repairs again of course!
Fortunately, the Riley drum brakes seem in excellent condition as parts are not as common as they were a few years ago. Thank goodness though I stocked up on spares when they were more readily available! So far one side has been re-assembled and the other has been painted in readiness.
I have also painted all the under bonnet areas with 'Atlantic Grey' marine enamel, which enabled final assembly of the brake and clutch master cylinders, servo and all the associated pipework. At the Bristol Show last year I purchased a roll of ex Range Rover sound/heat deadening material. This comprises 5mm thick foam with a self-adhesive backing and aluminum foil face. Hopefully this will insulate the cockpit from the engine compartment. Watch this space for further progress, although this is likely to slow down due to the recent death of two long standing friends for whom I am named as Executor!
The 73rd Members Meeting at Goodwood proved to be a good event again this year. Not as much crowding at the Revival, so in my opinion all the better for it. No doubt if its popularity increases it will eventually become a victim of its own success like the Revival.
Highlight on the Sunday was the Les Leston Cup, which featured the Rochdale Olympic of Roland Lewis (the ex Mike Youles car). Roland finished in 17th place (out of a Class Entry of 30 cars), ahead of two regularly campaigned Turners. A good victory for the Rochdale marque. It is just a shame that so few Olympics were raced in period and hence never homologated. Will this spark an interest in Olympics being raced in current Historic Formulae?
Roy Howells-Jones owned a phase 1 Olympic (NTX 199) from 1970 and was a prolific contributor to the Magazine in the 1980s. When Roy passed away in 1995 the car disappeared from view. A recent telephone call from a family friend indicated that the car had remained in the family garage since 1995 and with the passing of Roys wife was now being sold as part of the Estate. The family friend had made an offer, so hopefully another Olympic will appear on the scene in the near future.
I mentioned last month that phase 2 Olympic, ELX 628C, has been sold by Rob Hilton and was now with a new owner David McSheehy, who lives in East Sussex. Rob bought the car in 1971, but five days later was involved in a serious accident due to a tyre 'blow out' at 90mph. Rob ordered a new shell from Rochdale Motor Panels and commenced the rebuild. I understand that the new shell supplied by RMP was not of the highest quality and much work was required, which probably at least partly explains the long rebuild period! So, yet another Olympic takes to the road, this one for the first time in over 40 years! The new owner, David, is no stranger to Olympics, having owned a phase 2 back in 1967.
On 25th March 1961, only one month after the disastrous fire which destroyed Rochdale Motor
Panels Hudson Street premises, a Mr. H Barnard of Flixton, Manchester, ordered a phase 1 Olympic kit. He got a reduction in price due to the bodyshell being 'sub-standard', untrimmed and missing a few parts.
He collected the Red gelcoat shell on 22nd April 1961. In view of the timescale this was undoubtedly one of the few shells that had survived the fire and is possibly the one shown in the photos at the rear of the factory.
It was eventually registered 886 WTF on 8th November 1961. It then passed through a couple of owners before being purchased by Dudley Guest in 1976. Dudleys father used the car briefly before it was taken off the road for a complete rebuild.
I bought the car in its uncompleted state in 1985 and commenced restoration. Unfortunately, loss of storage space in 1987 meant I was unable to get it to roadworthy condition. It then passed through three more owners before being bought by Bob Heppell in 2010.
Bob worked on the car for a further four or five years before finishing the rebuild. The car appeared at the Stoneleigh Kit Car Show earlier this month, 'on the road' for the first time in some 35 years!
Bob Heppells Olympic at Stoneleigh
A group of us have recently returned from the Spa Classic. Whilst there it was good to be able to meet up with Duncan Mulvein. Duncan, who lives in France, bought a phase 2 Olympic from Nigel Hector last year. The car was one of two Olympics previously owned by Paul Narramore and was originally registered NDB 279G. Paul had stripped the car to a rolling shell, so a full rebuild will be necessary. The car is still in the UK, so Duncan has not been able to do more than planning so far.
On 19th June 1962 a Mr Kerr from Inverness ordered a Red Olympic body/chassis unit. He collected it from the factory on 20th September 1962 and built it up using Morris Minor mechanical components. It was possibly run on trade plates briefly, but never road registered and was not constructed to very high standards. In 2007 it was sold upon Mr Kerrs death, having sat unused in the garage for some 45 years! It was then bought by Roger Cook, who after starting the rebuild, put it up for sale before much work had been done. Ben Bettell took up the challenge and in his usual way set high standards for the rebuild (probably better than Rochdales!).
The car has recently returned from the paint shop and Ben hopes to have it roadworthy by the Burford meeting in August. That would mean another Olympic on the road after a 53 year gap!!
Ben Bettells Olympic fresh from the paint shop
Our Treasurer, Stuart McCaslin has decided that he needs to part with his phase 2, VWT 144F. This is an excellent project for someone and is another Olympic that has not been on the road for a number of years.
Another Olympic due to be on the move shortly is 682 NDV. Watch this space for further details.
A GT, registered JSV 916, was rescued back in 1997 by Guy Stallard from a local dispersal sale in Devon. The car was in terrible condition and many people would have passed up on the opportunity.
Fortunately Guy took on the challenge and rebuilt it over a four year period. Guy abandoned the original sidevalve Ford mechanics and used a Reliant Kitten chassis and mechanical parts, but with a Midget rear axle. Guy even made his own wheels, by welding MGB rims to Morris Minor centres.
The completed car was exhibited at both the NEC and Bristol Classic Car Shows. Guy used the car for a few years before putting it up for sale. It then passed through a couple of owners before being recently acquired by new member Mark Grossmith. Mark lives in Steyning, only a few miles from me and I have known his father for a number of years, so a visit is in order, as soon as we get a free weekend!
Mark is no stranger to classic cars, having owned a Hillman Imp some years ago. (In fact at the same time that I owned one as well) and I believe also a Triumph Vitesse. It will be good to see another GT out and about this summer.
In issue 140 of the Magazine I mentioned the GT, registered BBL 573 and that I had been talking to a former owner from the 1960s, Allen Pearce. At the time I wrote the article the last recorded owner I knew of was Keith Ardley in 1995. Subsequently, Tony Stanton sent me a picture of the car looking somewhat forlorn. It would appear that it was sold in early 2012 to Fenland Rod & Custom in Wisbech, Cambs. I believe it was purchased for spares and possibly its number plate. Does it still exist?
When Rob Daniels sold his GT a few years ago it also disappeared from my radar. This was a shame as the 100E engine was fitted with one of the rare Willment OHIV heads. From a recent email it would appear to have been added to the collection of a female Sky presenter.
Unfortunately, it seems to currently be residing in the corner of a field exposed to the elements. Let's hope another early Rochdale is not lost to us forever.
In 1958 the late Frank Collins was working for H & B Precision Engineers in the Hertfordshire area. During slack work times he was asked by his boss, Vernon Lovatt to build a Rochdale GT. It was registered DBC 45 as a Ford HB Special. As this is a 1939 registration I assume it was taken from the donor Ford vehicle. The GT was raced at the 8 Clubs Meeting at Silverstone in 1958. Its subsequent fate is unfortunately a mystery.