Rochdale Motor Panels was founded in 1948 by Frank Butterworth and Harry Smith in an old mill building at Hudson Street in Rochdale, Lancashire, in northern England. Initially busy with general motor repairs, the pair became active in the 750 Motor Club. Special bodies were made to order, initially for Austin Seven chassis and specialist racing cars.


When GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) came on the scene a range of bodyshells was produced to fit any chassis. The first was the Mark VI, followed by the type 'F' and type 'C', then the ST (Sports Tourer).


The GT body, developed by Richard Parker, was introduced in 1957, followed in 1959 by the Riviera. Both these and the ST were specially designed to fit the Ford Popular chassis.


Richard Parker returned to Rochdale to develop the revolutionary glassfibre monocoque Olympic. The Phase I commenced production in 1960. In 1961 a disastrous fire gutted the Hudson Street premises and the company moved a short distance to Littledale Mill. From here development of the Olympic continued and the Phase II was introduced in 1963. The Olympic was in full production up to 1966, by which time the company was finding the heating and ventilation business more profitable. The last Olympic body was made in 1973. The Olympic moulds still exist, owned by a group of enthusiasts, so the flame is not completely extinguished.


A table charting Rochdale Motor Panels Car production

Years Model Survive Made (Estimated)
1952-54 Mark II 2 6
1952-54 Alloy 2 10
1954-61 MkVI 6 150
1955-61 C-Type 2 30
1955-61 F-Type 3 50
1955-59 ST 7 100
1957-6 GT 80 1350
1959-61 Riviera 4 50
1960-67 Olympic Phase I 100 250
1963-73 Olympic Phase II 65 150



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