The Rochdale Owners Club was formed in June 1981 by a group of owners keen to establish a club exclusively for the Rochdale marque.
The Rochdale GT
The GT was the most popular Rochdale of all, selling around 1350 units. It came about in part because Harry Smith's wife wanted a proper car, with a roof and seats for the children. With the help of a local lad, Richard Parker, Harry and Frank set about designing the GT. They took the F-type bodyshell, added a roof and modified the styling to suit it.
The GT bore a striking resemblance to the E-type Jaguar launched four years later, despite its smaller proportions. The body was more practical than the ST as it was stiff enough to be used on an unboxed chassis. It came complete with a fitted curved windscreen and opening windows and quarterlights (using the tops of Morris Minor doors); these were quality features rare in kit cars at the time. The inner wheelarches, bulkhead and part floor sections like the ST were bonded in, while the integral dashboard featured a centre panel which would take Ford instruments with glove pockets either side. The bodyshell was specifically aimed at the plentiful supply of knackered Ford 8 and Popular cars on the market in the late 1950s, and even came with tubular steel 'legs' so that it could be lowered over a Ford chassis, holes drilled and bolts inserted, then the 'legs' cut off and the car driven away.
The shell with doors, all windows and bonnet ready fitted was sold for £140. The GT hit the market at the right time: it looked good, had space for small rear seats and was easy to fit. It wasn't long before Harry and Frank had to take on extra staff to cope with the demand and to make extra moulds.
The GT merited proper features in Motor and Autosport magazines at the time: both were most impressed. Autosport reported that shells were constructed of chopped strand mat and resin incorporating a dye, with thickness varying between 1/8 and 1/4 inch depending upon the different points of stress. A body took one week to complete, with no forced drying process; in fact on sunny days the bodies were lined up in the road outside the factory to cure.
Copyright © Malcolm McKay - Early Rochdales Registrar
Copyright © Rochdale Owners Club