Below is a piece which was written by me which tells the story of how 'JJ'
came to be in my possession and the trauma I have been through to try to get
it to where we are now.
In the early 1960's during the production of the Rochdale Olympic a number
of people saw that the Rochdale Olympic was not just a pleasing shape but
also that it looked as though it could be made to compete successfully as a
GT racing car. Rochdale Motor Panels decided with some pressure from a
number of prospective customers to offer a lightweight Olympic body shell as
an option. As far as I am aware (and the consensus of opinion will bear this
out) Rochdale Motor Panels made four of these lightweight Olympics. Just
like the other Olympics the lightweight was a glass fibre mono-coque, the
only real difference was that the lightweight cars were produced with a
thinner shell, this was achieved simply by using less layers of fibreglass
in the production of the body. The owner / customer could still to some
extent choose what combination of engine / gearbox and running gear to use.
One of these lightweight Olympics was bought in the early 1960's by John
Anstice-brown, and was subsequently raced throughout the early to mid
1060's, in 1968 the car was sold by John and was subsequently road
registered JJH 20G. Sometime between 1968 and 1978 the car passed on to
Brian Classic, who them sold the car onto an old school friend of Keith's, it
then went through a complete re-build which Keith was involved with. Derek used
the car for some time on the road but soon decided that it was far too thin
to survive the rigors of daily use. The car was subsequently sold to a chap
By the time the car was sold Keith had well and truly fallen for it,
unfortunately at that time he was not in a position to buy it and the car
disappeared. Initially he had kept track of it, thinking that he may one day
buy it back, but time and other projects meant that he lost track of it,
until that is a friend saw an advert for a Rochdale Olympic with an
interesting history, a quick phone call soon established that this was the
lightweight that Keith had helped with some 20 years earlier. The car now
resided in Birmingham and had sat in a garage partly dismantled for about 5
years. This time Keith could buy it, arrangements were made and the following
weekend saw Simon, Keith's son, a good friend, and Keith himself travelling down to Birmingham
to reclaim the car.
It is believed that the lightweight Olympic is the only remaining example of
these fascinating cars. Progress to date on the nut and bolt rebuild has
been outstripped by the research done on the racing history so far by
another friend. The whole aim of the research is to enable Keith to get
Historic and FIA papers on the car; this will ultimately allow the car to be
raced both here in the UK and abroad. The signs aren't looking good but he is
very hopeful that they will be able to get FIA papers for the car when its
rebuild is complete.
Originally the car was built using the rear suspension set which was
supplied with the kit; this consisted of three rear radius arms and an axle
location arm. These were attached directly to the fibreglass body. Each of
the radius arms has a thread on one end and a large washer to form a
shoulder. Two rubber bushes sandwich the body and are held in place by
another large washer and a locknut. The axle location is by means of
spherical bearings, which are attached to fabricated mountings on the axle.
The axle is then located laterally by a fourth arm which goes from the
differential to the lower offside radius arm. Lightweight Magnesium 13"
Brabham wheels were used on the rear axle. Subsequently some time during its
racing career the inner rubber donut mountings were replaced by spherical
The front suspension on this car is quite unique; it uses Riley 1.5 torsion
bars and bottom wishbones, Riley 1.5 top lever arm shock absorbers, and
Riley 1.5 uprights. The original Riley 1.5 hubs and drum brakes were
replaced with Lola Rejo hubs and disc brakes. The brake callipers look as
though they are from an early Mini Cooper; these were fitted to the uprights
using a fabricated bracket. Lightweight Magnesium alloy 13" Lola wheels were
used on the front.
The original engine fitted to this car was, I believe a 997cc Holbay Ford
unit, which was later replaced by an 1100cc Ford Cosworth blackhead engine, we believe
both engines were mated to a Hewland 5 speed converted Ford gearbox.
The history of the car in its first few years is quite interesting. The
lightweight was ordered from Rochdale Motor Panels by John Anstice-brown in
late December 1961 the intention being to race it, the car was picked up at
the end of January 1962, the order number was 1717. John built the car using
some components from a Lola Rejo and by 1963 it was ready for the circuit.
By late 1963 the car was starting to produce some reasonable results, Keith has
been able to trace some of the more competitive runs from the car. These are
Oulton Park 07/09/63 GT
Cars up to 1,000cc 10 laps 3rd
Sprint Class win
Sports and Saloons 10 laps 1st plus fastest lap
Closed and Sports Cars 7 laps 3rd
Closed & GT Cars final 10 laps 3rd
Oulton Park 22/08/64
Closed Cars to 1,100cc 7 laps 3rd
Oulton Park 29/08/64 GT
Cars 10 laps Class win
Closed Cars to 1,000cc 7 laps 2nd
I also have a reference from the 750
bulletin November 1963 as follows:-
'The sports and saloon race, a ten lap affair, was a shade processional in
that the first five places remained the same throughout. J Anstice-brown in
his 109E Olympic thrashed everything in sight and was lapping at half
'Race 8 was nominally for sports and saloons. The latter consisted of M J
Howe's 1500 Anglia and the Anstice-brown Olympic. Pre race favourite, John
Miles, in the newly acquired Omega-Jaguar, blasted off pole grid position
leaving the rest of the field following behind Anstice-brown. John took one
turn smoothly, but behind came drama plus, when the Olympic spun like a top
ending up partially on the infield of the exit of the corner'
Keith has now removed all the bits off the body, including the front sub frame
which has been re-made using as much of the original as possible and is due
to be re-fitted to the car soon. Once this is done he is going to re-jig all
the front suspension so that it all lines up correctly. Keith's experience with
phase 1's is that they differ from side to side, a little time on the
suspension computer can improve things no end, and some careful building can
transfer those improvements to the car. The rear suspension is going to be
re-built to the original specification, the FIA are keen to see the
lightweight restored as close as possible to its original form. Some tidying
up of angles and new spherical joints will improve the rear end. A file has
been put together detailing the early history of the car and they intend to
present this to the HSCC for consideration. Apparently to get full FIA
papers they will need to show documentary evidence that Olympics were raced
Richard Parker assures me that Rochdale Motor Panels built one of these cars
with a Coventry Climax 1100cc engine, which was sent ready to race to
Belgium. If they can acquire any evidence of this car's racing history they should
be in a position to get retrospective homologation for the car.
There is apparently a reference to a lightweight Olympic which was to be raced by
Derek Alderson. The car was built by Derek Bennett (Chevron cars fame) using
'as much of the Elva as he could'. It is said that creating the Olympic took
most of a year and when finished it was 'the most immaculate car he ever
saw'. Having finished the Olympic it was taken to Oulton Park for testing.
After a very short time Derek Alderson and Derek Bennett decided that it
would require some time to solve the car's 'severe understeer and high speed
instability'. Before they loaded the car onto the trailer for the trip home
Paul Owens who had spent a lot of time on the car was allowed to take it out
for a quick few laps. Paul found the car's handling quite frightening but he
still tried to make the most of this opportunity. Unfortunately the Olympic
proved too hot to handle, it got away from him as he turned into the left
kink at the top of Clay Hill. The back of the car went onto the grass and
the car rolled end over end, luckily Paul Owens was thrown clear and apart
from being covered in bruises and being shaken he was OK. The Olympic
however was not so lucky, having rolled a few times it was cut in two by a
steel hawser holding a telegraph pole and finally hit a wall, which
subsequently fell on the car. The remains of the car were loaded onto the
trailer and taken off for scrap.
That accounts for two lightweights. Keith has one. one was written off at
Oulton Park. We have been led to believe that there were four cars. By all
accounts the other two lightweight cars have been destroyed too. we have been
told that one was crashed abroad and the other burned out.
Keith wonders what really happened to them.
Can you help?
Any information about any of the lightweights would be welcome, please
e/mail Keith on email@example.com information about the Belgian car
would be particularly useful.