Connections (Part I) … English Racing Automobiles
Octagon Newsletter … January 1995
By Peter Lee
The rural setting of Bourne, in Linconshire, may seem a little obscure for the beginning of a legend, but in the 1930's and 40's it was one of the Meccas of British Motor Racing. Of course it started small. An enthusiastic young man, Raymond Mays and his friend, Amhurst Villiers, were facing the necessity of having to make road-going vehicles competitive on the track. One such car was a Bugatti Brescia which could be used as normal transport but, upon arriving at the track meeting, would have wings, lights and a shim between the cylinder block and the crankcase removed, thus turning it into a competitive vehicle. Their acquisition of a Riley coupled with Villiers' enthusiasm for supercharging, evolved into the formation of 'English Racing Automobiles'. Known simply as 'ERA' the marque was to find victory in England and Europe with drivers of many nationalities.
My apprenticeship was served in the company of racing driver F.R. (Bob) Gerard who was 'Le Patron' of the establishment and who had raced ERAs before the war and a variety of vehicles later. During my term I, very quickly, became used to seeing a Cooper Bristol mixed in with more mundane vehicles. Also at that time, Renault Dauphines and Austin A35s would be used in production saloon car events. The 'works' delivery van was an Austin A35 fitted with a Formula Junior engine, making it 'quite hairy' around town.
Occasionally we lowly apprentices could get into conversation with Mr. Bob, as he was respectfully addressed by the workforce, and of course the topic would be motor racing, a dream far removed from a mundane apprenticeship. One story I recall, related to the fitting of a Zoller blower to the Riley engine. The ERA was a perpendicular car with a very narrow upper body, the driver sitting above the prop shaft with a foot on either side of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox. The Zoller was a large vane blower that rotated at high revolutions and was fitted at the back of the engine above the gearbox, so you can figure out in anatomical terms where it was located! As the blower had a habit of shedding vanes, FRG asserted that some drivers spoke with a decided higher pitch at the end of the day.
The connections to MG are many and devious, but the Wilson transmission is found in many MGs. An F‑Magna was given as a birthday gift between cousins, namely Bira and Chula and is now owned by Barry Bone, a well-known MG enthusiast. The cousins, members of the royal family of Siam, raced ERAs in Britain and Europe with great success and, to the consternation of other drivers, their pit signals were written in their language.
Raymond Mays continued to be a competitive driver as well as a constructor and raced against other ERAs, on the now long-gone tracks such as Crystal Palace and Brooklands. The war was to call a halt to this era, but a new one was to begin in the late 1940s, but that is another episode.
Octagon Newsletter … February 1995
In the preceding 'Connections', hostilities had halted the ERA establishment. Lincolnshire was a county where the sound of Rolls-Royce Merlins could be heard well into the 1950s. Because of its lack of contours and strategic location, it was to be home to many airfields for W.W. II. I remember seeing hundreds of Mosquitos and Lancasters as I travelled the road between Lincoln and Leicester. Bourne was to reverberate to a similar noise.
After reviewing the pre-war racing machinery such as Mercedes and Auto Union, Raymond Mays had set his eyes on a bigger prize; ERA was sold and moved to another part of the country and Bourne became home to another name: 'British Racing Motors'. Mays and Peter Berthon, who had been with ERA from the beginning, now gained the sponsorship of both Alfred Owen, later to be Lord Owen, of Rubery Owen, and Tony Vandervell, the bearing manufacturer. Vandervell was eventually to withdraw his support and start his own team, notably the 'Thinwall Special', which evolved into the Vanwall, the "racing car with the tool room finish" (but that could be another story!).
The BRM partnership was to produce a car of such advanced specifications that, even in 1995 it is barely believable. Imagine a one and one half liter 2 stage supercharged V16 engine peaking at 12,000 r.p.m. and producing just over 500 b.h.p. Compare this with the then current MG of one and a quarter liters producing 55 b.h.p. Chalk and cheese you might say, but the GP car had changed a lot over the last 15 years. The last real GP car, produced by MG, was the 'R' type, these could be seen on the same track as ERA, but in a different class and this would be the last time these contemporaries would be found together, for after the war, the drivers would be the main connection between these cars.
For the V16 engine, an advanced chassis and suspension was designed, independently suspended by air and with three leading shoe front brakes. Convinced that a world beater was possible, the project went ahead, but on the verge of it running reliably, the GP formula was changed and the first BRM was instantly obsolete. It was with a very different vehicle, many years later, that a victorious BRM was wheeled onto the track and Alfred Owen, steadfast in his sponsorship, was to see Graham Hill win the Championship in 1962, driving in the South African GP.
The V16 was to become a car remembered for its incredible sound rather than its accomplishments. The supercharger, made to turn at 32,000 r.p.m., was made by Rolls Royce.
One of my personal heroes is Stirling Moss, and just before my 19th birthday, he was to drive at a GP event at Silverstone, about 40 miles from my home. So with thoughts of seeing 'The Man' drive, I secured a good viewing position on Copse Corner. Four times he came by and I was revelling in watching him drive the fifth lap, when he came hurtling by at about 120 m.p.h., but backwards. I will always remember! The front brakes had failed on this, the only time, I saw Moss race.
The connection between MG and Moss occurred when he and Phil Hill drove (or should I say piloted) the single seater EX 181, the fastest MG ever built. On the salt flats of Bonneville with a speed of over 255 m.p.h., it was to take the 1500 and 2000 c.c. records in 1959. The supercharged engine was run on a methanol fuel mix, braking in the car was minimal and drivers were advised not to go down through the gearbox to slow down. The drill was to cut the ignition, select neutral and floor the throttle to prevent blowback. When this was done, methanol fumes entered the cockpit through its ventilation slots … so take a deep breath and hold it!
Octagon Newsletter … March 1995
It was the year 1910 and the motor car was in its infancy and, for the most part, expensive. So the phenomenon of the cycle car came into being. By today's standards, these simple machines would be scorned, but in 1910, a vehicle with four wheels and weather protection was considered quite desirable. Two young men named Godfrey and Nash were apprenticed in a Rugby workshop and started building such a vehicle in a shed behind their house, so was born the 'GN'. The first one had ash side members to the frame, steering by wire and bobbin and the engine, a V-twin set across or in line with the chassis (started by cable and ratchet). But the whole thing, in a 2-seat form, weighed only 400 pounds. The front axle was one feature to remain with the two builders for many years - simply a tube hung out in front of the car on leaf springs. Messrs. Godfrey and Nash were to vary the layout over the years, but the product was to look very much the same until the end. Not having expensive machining, the philosophy was "if it can't be shaped on a lathe or an anvil, we won't make it that way", and so, over the years, a variety of chains, dog clutches and 'V' belts allowed gearing and final drive to a rear axle with no differential. It was to give rise years later to a poem in a V.S.C.C. bulletin:
Nash and Godfrey hated cogs,
Built a car with chains and dogs,
And it works - but would it, if
They had made it with a diff?
Throughout production, only rear wheel brakes were fitted, the foot brake operated the left and the handbrake worked the right.
George Eyston was but one of the GN drivers to go on to greater things. He first picked up his affection for motor racing after visiting the French GP at Le Mans in 1921 in his cycle car - he took two passengers with him. It was not stated how impressed they were.
GN made improvements, such as a door to the body, a civilized 'dickey' seat and a front starting handle. Nash did not altogether approve and thought the clientele had grown decadent.
But the end of the cycle car, as a commercial proposition, was over. Faced with opposition such as the Austin Seven, the GN closed its doors in 1924. Many examples still survive, especially those modified for racing and hill climbs. Basil Davenport and his famous "Spider" (the name being prompted by its spidery appearance), were to be seen ascending courses like Prescott and Shelsley Walsh with such efficiency from V-twin and chains that much more expensive vehicles boasting much more horsepower could not match. Archie Fraser-Nash was a very spirited driver, his own GN, "Kim", was very successful. In a similar way the three-wheel Morgans would defeat the mighty Bentley around the mountain circuit of Brooklands.
The two partners went their separate ways. Godfrey opened a repair shop, then later went on to build special Austin Sevens until the early 30's when, with Messrs. Halford and Robbins, he formed "HRG". Halford was an engineer and Brooklands enthusiast whilst Robbins was associated with Trojan cars.
Although the front axle was to remain similar to GN, the drive train was to be conventional. With a Moss gearbox mated to a Meadows engine of one and a half liters and the chassis made for HRG by Rubery Owen, this model won its class at Le Mans in 1937. Later models before the war used the Singer "9" engine and after the war the Singer "SM" of 1.5 liters.
The accompanying picture is courtesy of the Singer Owners Club magazine dated 1938. HRG remained in business for many years, relying on sound engineering practice. They even produced a cross-flow cylinder head for the push rod MGA, which improved its performance to better than the Twin Cam!
Unfortunately, sports cars had again changed since the mid thirties and lightweight high powered machines were overtaking the traditional cars. Although aerodynamic HRGs were built, it was not really a successful exercise and at last the doors closed. Probably not more than 240 HRGs in all were built.
Today HRG is a prized vehicle and many are still being enthusiastically driven. The HRG is dead - long live HRG!
Octagon Newsletter … April 1995
Archie Fraser-Nash had parted with Godfreys and the defunct GN concern and had set up on his own, building two-seat sports cars. He dropped the hyphen but retained many features of the GNs, such as the tubular front axle on cantilever springs and the chains and cogs that gave rise to the nickname "Chain Gang Nash". Archie was an engineer, so the cars became more substantial with channel section chassis and water cooled engines. Unfortunately, he was no businessman and his company was taken over by H.J. Aldington in 1929 and kept as a family concern until the cars were taken out of production in the 1950s.
In 1936 AFN Ltd. obtained a concession to sell BMW cars in the U.K. but Hitler fouled things up and AFN Ltd. ended up building aircraft gun turrets for a period of time. In 1946, the Aldingtons had arranged for BMW's Dr. Fielder and his 382 engine to come to Britain. Subsequently, the Fraser Nash and Bristol were to share the same engine and transmission, which is why the Fraser Nash of the late 1940s bears a striking resemblance to BMWs. The early Bristols wore a radiator grille that is still a focal point on today's BMW.
The stark cycle-winged Fraser Nash of 1949 finished a magnificent third overall at Le Mans in that year and so thereafter was called a Le Mans Replica. Stirling Moss was to say about it that it was "one of the most unlikely-looking proper racing cars you would ever see, but it was really very good in all respects".
Many vehicles were to use the Bristol two liter engine which was acceptable for Formula Two and, for anyone building a 'special', it seemed the first choice in that size. Its only drawback was that it was a very tall unit, being a long stroke 6 cylinder with carburetors mounted between the rocker boxes. This height was fine for a sports saloon like a Bristol but, in a formula car such as a Cooper, it gave the vehicle a very high bonnet line (it would be a while before Cooper copied his 500 and placed the engine behind the driver).
My connections with the Cooper Bristol were tenuous, being an apprentice at the time and not normally allowed loose on formula cars, but a memorable afternoon was spent with "Le Patron", Bob Gerard, doing a 'mix and match' with Solex carb jets on a Bristol 400 which had the engine bored out to 2.25 liters and was being run-in prior to being fitted into the Cooper. We eventually got the correct mix and went for a test drive. What an experience … being hurled along a 'B' class English country road at an incredible speed with every confidence in the driver!
What a disappointment when I climbed into my MG PA to go home. It had been running very well that morning but, after a day of testing at a phenomenal speed in the Bristol, the PA appeared seriously under-powered. In 1951, in the British Empire Trophy Race on the Isle of Man, Bob Gerard came second to Sterling Moss, who won, both driving Fraser Nash Le Mans replicas.
Perhaps one of the best known vehicles to use a Bristol engine is the AC Ace and certainly the prettiest was the Aceca. Club racing placed TRs and Aces in the same category, usually the Bristol engine had the legs on a Triumph, but at many club events at Mallory Park, I still recall the gauntlet being thrown by a determined Triumph driver.
The Bristol engine was withdrawn from production about 1961, so Ken Rudd of Ruddspeed suggested a Ford Zephyr 2.5 liter, 6 cylinder engine. After all these years, I can still hear the echoes of the protesting purists, but, at Stage V tune, it gave out 170 BHP as opposed to the 125 BHP of the Bristol. The twist in the tale is that the special cylinder head used to obtain the extra BHP was made by Raymond Mays … so this connection leads us back to the founder of ERA and my first installment of the series!
Connections (Part V) … Aeroplanes and Cars
Octagon Newsletter … November 1995
Looking back from the 1990s, it is easy to see that the aeroplane and the motor car were infants together, with the car being the older brother, early cars being based to a great extent on the existing technology of horse-drawn vehicles and steam engines, while airframes were invented from scratch. The leading edge of design for aircraft was wood, canvas and wire. Once the basic configuration of the aeroplane was established, anyone could, and it seems did, build aircraft.
Brooklands Race Track was a mecca for cars and planes, with a lot of the aero engine cars surviving today. It is with aero engines we begin the 'connections', as the British aircraft of the day all depended on non-British engines. It was to be some years before Napier, etc., were to be established, so manufacturers like Le Rhone and Hispano.
Suiza had the monopoly. Wolseley was an early established maker of British motor cars (a Wolseley was raced in the 1904 Gordon Bennett race, driven by the C.S. Rolls) and was also holder of a licence to manufacture Hispano aero engines in Britain. The feature of the Hispano engine was the single overhead camshaft per bank of cylinders and the bevel gears and vertical drive shaft. Does this sound familiar? It should, this system was used on all the pre‑war MG overhead cam engines.
Wolseley Motors made a very good small car called the 'Ten', this was the first to use the o.h.c. engine, but financial difficulties were to make them design an 8 h.p. car along the same lines, the idea being to get into the Austin Seven market. Before it could get into production, Sir William Morris took over the concern and it became Wolseley Motors (1927) Ltd. The little Wolseley emerged a year later as the Morris Minor. William Morris did not really like overhead valves, so he soon brought out a side valve Minor, but Cecil Kimber thought it held promise. He put a fabric body on it and called it an 'M-type Midget'. In the meantime Wolseley produced a 'Light Six' 12 h.p. engine, mounted it into a lengthened Minor chassis and called it the 'Hornet'. This was one of the first to use hydraulic brakes, years ahead of MG, but the Light Six engine was to power the F-type Magna MG and although performance of the two cars was similar, the handling of the Hornet was poor due to its inadequate chassis. Thus the MG was to take the 'badge engineered' engine to new heights in the years to come.
To return to aero engines, which are, of course, no novelty in cars. Parry Thomas was killed attempting a land speed record on Pendine Sands when his Liberty-engine monster turned over. In true connections style I will add that Parry Thomas was Chief Engineer at Leyland and was responsible for the first British straight-eight engine, this in 1920, a few years before the founding of British Leyland.
Reid Railton was a designer of many things, mechanical and aerodynamic. He was responsible for John Cobb's land speed record Railton-Mobile Special and Napier Railton race car, the body on Goldie Gardner's MG and the chassis of the pre-war ERAs. Joining Leyland Motors in 1917, he became assistant to Parry Thomas and was later at the Brooklands firm of Thompson & Taylor for many years. The complete list of Railton's involvement is beyond my knowledge, but he certainly deserves a mention in 'Connections'.
The Napier-Railton was one of Railton's great achievements. The car was commissioned by John Cobb for circuit racing and record breaking, and that is exactly what it did. The car was powered by a 12 cylinder 'W' configuration, 21 litre Napier aero engine. The Brooklands outer circuit record is held to this day by the Railton at 143.44 mph and it covered 100 miles at 168.59 mph at Utah in 1936. The car survived the war, in a shed, and afterwards turned up in the film "The Flying Dutchman" as a nominal 400 mph record breaker, mildly re-bodied. After that it was acquired by the GQ Parachute Company for testing parachutes (in the horizontal mode). It was later restored and driven in vintage events.
For the technically minded, the car was geared to do 58 mph at 1,000 rpm and it peaks at 2,700 rpm with each of the 12 cylinders developing 50 bhp at full bore. To lubricate this huge engine, the dry sump tank contains 12 gallons and the fuel required for a two hour full bore run is 72 gallons - hence a 65 gallon tank mounted behind the axle. A hurried later addition was a cockpit controlled damper system to compensate for fuel consumption. All of this added up to two and a half tons and, with only rear wheel brakes, this eventually led to the car being banned from vintage racing. Today the car resides in the British Motor Museum at Swindon.
Imagine the scene: the year 1929 on a dusty road circuit somewhere on the Continent, a huge behemoth of an automobile is chasing a tiny blown 750 c.c. sports car that is taking all possible measures to stay ahead with the mechanic/passenger leaning out of the car as if on a motorcycle sidecar. This was a sepia photograph I came across some time ago and it sparked interest in the tiny vehicle. The outcome of this duel is not revealed in the text and the particular car is little known, but was to become more famous as the Triumph and its designer/driver, Donald Healey.
The Triumph Company started in 1895, its first offering was a motorcycle called the "Frisky", and by 1920 there were more Triumphs on the road than any other make. In December of 1921, the assets of the Dowson Car Company were acquired and the Triumph Light Car was produced. The early Triumphs were nothing exciting but were quality cars built to compete in the market with Morris and Austin. The 'Super Seven' was introduced in September, 1927, with an engine capacity of 832 c.c., a side valve four cylinder unit boasting a three main bearing crankshaft. At that time, the Austin Seven and Morris Minor had two bearing crankshafts. With four wheel brakes and a strong chassis, a four seat vehicle with a wheelbase of 81 inches was produced, all this with a top speed of 48 m.p.h.
Super Sevens were available as a bare chassis so British coachbuilders would build their own bodies, usually of a more sporting nature. In 1930 the top speed was raised to 70 mph after fitting a Cozette supercharger and adding a two seat body by Gordon England. This is where we first hear the news of Donald Healey. He scored the best of all British cars in the Brighton Rally and won it outright a year later. In 1932, the Seven was to become the Nine with a new engine from Coventry Climax with overhead intake and side exhaust valves. Morgans were to use the same engine in the 4/4 and Plus 4 models. In due course, the engine was to be increased to 1122 c.c. and because of Triumph's slice of the Australian market, it was called the 'Southern Cross'. As a four seat saloon, it looked quite mundane, but turned into an open two-seater, it was quite rakish with sweeping graceful wings, slab fuel tank, twin spare tyres and Brooklands screen to make it a striking car. When fitted with the optional two litre engine producing 100 b.h.p., it was called the 'Gloria' and was a very successful competition machine. Donald Healey, who became Experimental Manager in 1934, considered the standard Gloria too heavy for optimum performance so he developed a lighter sports model for the Monte Carlo Rally, an aluminium body, oversize fuel tank, twin spares, permanent Sessions jacks, adjustable shocks, Dunlop knock-off wheels, hydraulic brakes and an 1100 c.c. engine, all available for 325 pounds. Not only did Healey win the 1500 c.c. class, he made third overall.
With the thought of competing against larger capacity cars, Healey purchased an Alfa Romeo 2.3 in order to duplicate the design for Triumph. He travelled to Milan to see Vitorio Jano, the great Alfa designer. Rather than being angered, the Italian firm was pleased and honoured that a company as famous as Triumph had decided to follow their design. The Triumph had eight cylinders in two blocks of four separated by a gear drive for the double overhead cams and a Rotes-type supercharger. The gearbox was a Wilson type pre-selector and a channel section chassis with semi-elliptic springs and live axles fitted with 16 inch Lockheed hydraulic brakes rounded off the mechanical side of things. The original body design was very Alfa, long flowing wings, cut down doors and rounded tail with a centre fin. Cycle wings replaced the original design on the few cars that Triumph actually built, but the result was still quite impressive. This was to be the first 'Dolomite', but unfortunately did not live up to its early promise of lapping Brooklands at close to 129 m.p.h.
The car was entered in the Mount Carl Rally in 1935, but it was to be demolished by a train on a level-crossing in Holland. Donald Healey then took a photograph of the wreckage, apparently with no camera shake! Despite this, a Triumph Gloria came second overall and won its 1500 c.c. class. Entered again in 1936, but without the blower, he finished eighth and won the 'Best British' trophy but that was to be the Dolomite's first and last finish since the finances of Triumph were at a very low ebb, and the project was cancelled. As we all know, Healey and Triumph were both to continue … but that is for the a future article.
Octagon Newsletter … July 1996
The first Triumph Dolomites of 1934 were discontinued and the company was in financial difficulties, so the motor-cycle side was sold off to re-finance a new line of cars. The name Dolomite was used on a new model with a revolutionary new radiator grille. The styling was borrowed from the Hudson and was called the 'Cascade', but received very mixed feelings by a country accustomed to a proper radiator grille and it was soon phased out. Shortly after that, in 1939, Donald Healey became General Manager of Triumph. Unfortunately, his reign was short-lived as the factory was flattened during the War but Triumph was to live on under the rule of John Black and the Standard Motor Company, who bought what was left and rebuilt it into a going concern. During the 30's, Bill Lyons, who founded Swallow Sidecars, used the Standard engines in his Jaguars and, with the ownership takeover by Black, this continued into the late 40's. But, Black was envious of Jaguar's place in the market, and after unsuccessfully trying a take over, he decided to cease the supply. Undaunted, Bill Lyons decided to build his own engines and so the Twin OHC was born.
Another familiar name came on the scene in the mid 30's … a small firm of coachbuilders similar to Swallow Sidecars but headed by two brothers by the name of Jensen, started by building special bodies on Austin Seven chassis. They also designed a dashing two-seat body for John Black at Standard, but it was built by a coach-building firm named Avon, the first really sporty car built by Standard. They also built special bodies on Delage, Invicta, MG, Morris, Rolls-Royce and Wolseley chassis. The first Jensen thoroughbred called the 'S Type', was introduced in 1936 and with an agreement with the Ford Motor Co. was powered by a 3.5 litre side valve unit. Jensens were to diversify into the commercial vehicle market producing aluminium and light alloy trucks and vans. The accompanying picture shows a typical lightweight truck of the period … note the radiator grille, 'Jensen' without the 'e's. In England, in the 1940's, if a commercial vehicle weighed more than 2.5 tons, it was limited to a top speed of 20 m.p.h. and so by producing a vehicle of less than 2.5 tons unladen, a top speed of 30 m.p.h. was allowed. Over the years, quite a bewildering variety of coaches and buses and fire appliances were built on Ford, Bedford and Austin chassis. It was in 1949 that the first Interceptor appeared, a cabriolet-bodied four‑seater bearing a great resemblance to the A40 Sports, powered by a 3993 c.c. Austin engine and in 1950 they were responsible for the Austin A40 sports designed by Donald Healey. Later they were to build the bodies for the Austin Healey 100 and 3000.
Along with the Interceptor model of 1969 was also a F.F. Interceptor. The 'F.F.' stood for 'Ferguson Four', a four-wheel drive automatic transmission, designed by the tractor man Harry Ferguson. Also, the cars were fitted with Dunlop Maxaret brakes … the forerunner of ABS, as we now know it, all this for remarkable handling several years before vehicles like the Audi Quattro.
Under the direction of John Black, the Triumph Company produced a line of quite successful vehicles. Prompted by the likes of MG, John Black had attempted to buy out Morgan, to no avail. It was decided to build a sports car and so, a show vehicle was built for the Earls Court Motor Show, using parts bin components on a Standard 8 frame, Triumph Mayflower suspension, Standard Vanguard engine and fitted with a pretty two seat body with cut down doors and an exposed spare wheel on the back. It was received very well and so the decision was made to try a production run. It was tested by Ken Richardson of ERA and BRM who quoted "It's the most bloody awful car I've ever driven!", so a concerted effort was applied to make it handle as well as it looked. By the time production was reached, the tail was also re-designed with an enclosed spare wheel and a boot with a lid and so was born the Triumph TR2.
After leaving the flattened premises of Triumph, Donald Healey joined Vickers Armstrong on wartime aircraft production. After the War, he was responsible for some very sporty saloons and two‑seaters. I still remember my first sight of a Healey Silverstone, a two seat open wheel car. I was most impressed with two things: the massive trailing link front suspension and the windscreen which cranked down into a slot to form a full width aero screen. The Healey Elliot used the same mechanics as a Silverstone, including the 2.5 litre Riley engine, but was a most attractive saloon with the radiator shape that was to continue to the Austin Healey 100/4. While aboard the Queen Elizabeth bound for the U.S. to try to organise Cadillac V-8 engines to succeed Riley engines, a chance meeting with George Mason, President of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, produced a Nash-Healey in 1951 with a Silverstone chassis, Nash Ambassador engine and a body by Pininfarina. Variations of this car ran successfully at Le Mans driven by Donald and son Geoffrey.
Austin was to enter into an agreement with the result that the 100 and 3000 Austin Healeys were produced as mentioned in the Jensen section. The agreement ended with the last of the production of the Austin Healey Sprite which would continue on as the MG Midget.
The last of the Healeys were to be produced with Jensen. Unfortunately, the first Jensen-Healeys gave the model a poor reputation which was very difficult to lose. Donald was unhappy with quality control and sub-standard equipment and the untried Lotus engine seemed to compound the felony. Unfortunately, by the time the cars were to make good, Donald had distanced himself from the project and, unable to use his name, Jensen marketed the cars in 1975 as the 'GT'. Production was ceased in 1976 after a total of 10,453 cars and the company ceased shortly after.
Return > < Return