Brilliant 2015 Autumn Tour a huge success.
Good turn-out & four days of great motoring in North Yorkshire for Lea-Francis cars.
12 Lea-Francis cars have completed the 2015 Autumn Tour based in Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast. These included 5 14hp Sports, 1 14hp Saloon, 1 14hp Estate, 2 14hp Specials, 1 S type Hyper, & 2 P types. Horst Meinert from Bingen in Germany brought his 1972 BMW CS when his P type developed last minute gearbox problems, Al & Tricia Ridinger from Connecticut, USA and Robin & Eva Sawers also joined us in more modern cars. Brian & Marion Hopkins (Morgan) and Hugh Price (Aprilla Motorcycle) also joined us for part of the tour. Over 225 miles were driven without major problems during the four days including the 33% ascent of Rosedale Chimney Bank. Superbly organised by club members Steve & Margot Chittock, a combination of fine roads and unusual locations, including Sledmere House and Oliver’s Mount race circuit, ensured a highly successful and entertaining tour.
Pic 1. from l-r: 1948 14hp Sports, Malcolm Hall & Sharon Clarke from Stockton-on-Tees; 1929 S type Hyper, Peter Baston & Katrin Berger, Derbyshire; 1948 14hp Sports, Nigel & Sue Fowler, Devizes; 1951 14hp Estate, John Blundell, West London. The cars are parked in front of the Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge near Kirkbymoorside. At an elevation of 1325ft this is the highest pub on the North Yorkshire Moors.
Pic 2. The 1948 14hp 4-light Saloon of tour organisers Steve & Margot Chittock storms the 33% Rosedale Chimney Bank, one of the steepest classified roads in Britain. Following closely are Nigel & Sue Fowler in their 1948 14hp Sports. Photo by Barny Creaser.
Pic 3. Our group assembles at the top of the Rosedale Chimney Bank after a successful climb. Photo by Tricia Ridinger.
Pic 4. All 12 Lea-Francis cars line up in front of Sledmere House. Photo by Tricia Ridinger.
Posted: October 2015
Hyper not for sale in Swiss Hypermarket
LFOC member Max Albertini reports from the Locarno District, Switzerland.
Top picture: During May, LFOC Member Max Albertini from Ticino Canton, Switzerland, displayed his 1929 Lea-Francis Hyper Ch: 14172 at the Centro COOP in Tenero in the Locarno District. Every year the Top Club of Ticino organises a collection of classic and vintage cars inside the shopping centre, sponsored by the Centro COOP. The cars are on display for a month and enjoyed by shoppers and tourists alike. There was an impressive nickel-plated 1925 20hp Rolls Royce which had belonged to the Maharaja of Bharaptur, who used it for tiger hunting (inset picture), and many other interesting cars. Ch:14172 has been owned by Max since 2012 and has racing history in its early life. The engine and supercharger have recently been rebuilt.
Lower picture: This year the FIVA World Rally of Switzerland passed by the soon to be opened Gothard Base Tunnel and came to Lugano on June 30th. Max’s 1930 Hyper Ch: 14185, once owned in the 1930s by Lord Avebury, was among the Ticino welcoming Committee. This car, originally fitted with a Cross & Ellis TT Replica body, was rebodied by the Lea-Francis works for Lord Avebury with a Lobster style aluminium racing body with staggered driver and passenger seats. Lord Avebury raced the car at Brooklands and other events. In 1994 it was bought by Erik Skreiner from Vienna and restored to Lord Avebury’s original specification. Erik used it regularly on Alpine Rallies until Max purchased the car in 2012. A group of friends with Max left Bellinzona and drove to the visitor’s welcome area of the Alptransit Railway work under construction at Bodio. This railway will enable HGVs to cross Switzerland through the new tunnel and should open in 2016. The participants of the FIVA Rally were welcomed and assistance was given with the driving tests, including reversing within cones to stop less than 1 metre from a wall, no help allowed. When the rally left, the group went to a ‘grotto’, traditionally a cave where mountain farmers kept food like salami, ham, cheese and wine, but now small restaurants in the open air.
Max Albertini has three pre-war Lea-Francis cars, these two Hypers and a very rare 2LFS 16/60, the 2 litre version of the Vulcan built car of which only two survive. Max was attracted to the Lea-Francis marque in 1998 while assisting friends on the Winter Marathon of Madonna di Campiglio in the Dolomites, when Georg Prugger swept by a group of stranded Porsche 356s in soft snow and -10 degrees centigrade in his Lea-Francis Hyper. The 2LFS was bought 10 years later and restored by Max to a very high standard, the two Hypers following in 2012.
Posted August 2015
1950 2.5 litre Sports sold for $100,000 ...
... but the 1950 London Motor Show car is still for for sale in Los Angeles.
A 1950 Lea-Francis 2.5litre Sports, Chassis No.5158, Engine No.S5173 was sold at Bonhams Auction, Quail Lodge, Carmel, California on August 14, 2015 for $110,000 (approx. £70,000), including 10% buyer’s premium. It is thought that the car had 13 owners in the UK before being sold to America by West Country Dealer G. Greenwell in the early 1980s and has been comprehensively refurbished by the vendor, Nick Grewal from New Hampshire, at a reported cost of $80,000 (approx. £50,000) using Lea-Francis expert Barrie Price for advice, history and parts. Mr Grewal acquired the car in 2008 from David Evans of Blacklick, Ohio, who had earlier repatriated the car for an engine rebuild. There are some excellent detailed photos on Bonhams’s website: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22792/lot/13/ - a useful reference for those of us engaged in less extensive (expensive?) restorations. It has gone to a very good home according to the auctioneer. Hopefully the new owner will join the LFOC.
Posted August 2015
Lea-Francis 14hp Saloon wins in Poland.
1951 Lea-Francis 4-light saloon wins Special Award at Polish Classic Car Night.
Weislaw Ciurla, owner of 1951 Lea Francis 14hp 4-light saloon, UK Reg. OHU 296, and registered in Poland as a historic vehicle Reg. SZY 9C attended a Classic Car Night in Sosnowiec on 16 May 2015. Although Wieslaw divides his time between Poland and the UK, his car lives in a heated garage in Krakov and was a big surprise for the visitors and organisers of the event and quite deservedly won a special award.
Posted August 2015
Lea-Francis interest at Chateau Impney.
A Hyper Rep, a Meadows engined Special and a Connaught, Sunday July 12.
Rain showers affected the morning runs of this new challenging 1000 yard course nearly twice the distance of the original track, run from 1957 to 1967 by the Hagley & District Light Car Club, and set in the picturesque grounds of Chateau Impney near Droitwich Spa. But after lunch, and in the dry, renowned Lea-Francis and Vauxhall restorer Jeremy Brewster flew to a time of 51.98 seconds in his highly developed Lea-Francis Hyper Replica, Pic1.
The Stafford Special owned by Peter Colborne-Baber successfully completed both its timed runs. Fitted with a roller-bearing supercharged competition engine from a two seater TT style fabric-bodied Hyper, this immaculate car was originally created in 1936 by Rodney Stafford and described by John Bolster, in his book ‘Specials’, as looking too good to race, Pic 2.
The third car to take to the track was the 1948 L2 Connaught, chassis 7004, the 4th of 6 L2s. It was campaigned extensively by first & second owners P.L. Jonas & E.N. Petch before passing to Dr Arthur Goldthorpe in 1952 who had the original Lea-Francis 14hp Sports engine replaced by the factory with an 18hp 2½ litre Sports unit so as to be competitive with contemporary machinery. He too raced it extensively at Goodwood and elsewhere in the early 1950s. For some time owned by Duncan Rabagliati, it is now in the hands of Paul & Jill Lovett, and Jill drove it at the hill-climb, Pic 3. Elsewhere, in the Impney Concours, was this Hyper, 14055, which was a 1928 TT Team Car driven by Wilf Green and is now, or at least was, owned by Jonathan Green, Wilf Green’s grandson, Pic 4.
Pictures 1 & 2 by Peter McFadyen
Posted July 2015
Four Lea-Francis cars enter French Rally.
4 LeaFs cross the channel to take part in the 21st Fougéres Rally, 29 May - 1 June.
The picture shows George Stirling, 1950 2½ litre Sports followed by Robin Sawers, 1929 P-type.
For some time popular with Lea-Francis drivers, this year’s Fougéres Rally started at Claude Monet’s delightful house & garden in Giverny and after an 80 mile drive was then based in Honfleur for visits and trips during the weekend. The Lea-Francis cars entered were two 2½ litre Sports both from Kent driven by Geotge Stirling & Ian Dilnot-Smith, John Blundell’s 1951 14hp Estate and the 1929 P-type 2 seater plus dickey belonging to Robin & Eva Sawers. The rally attracted 162 cars ranging from a super exotic 1928 Packhard Eight roadster to a purple 1989 Trabant. Routes were devised each day from Honfleur on narrow roads to interesting gardens and villages with a relaxing halt for a liesurely lunch. George Stirling suffered a puncture right at the start and Robin Sawers soon overcame a throttle problem that was affecting the P-type’s idling speed. One day of rain occurred while the cars were in Honfleur for a drive-past presentation by organiser Patrick Rollet.
Posted June 2015
Seven LeaFs complete 45th Beamish Run.
Run on 21 June 2015 this 150 mile test attracted 158 pre-1956 Vintage & Classic cars.
The Beamish Run is a Reliabilty and Safety Trial, with observed sections, over many of the original trial courses set for production cars of the 1920’s, but now all conjoined and driven in one day. A good test of drivers and cars alike, with steep hills, tortuous bends and blind junctions, but stunning scenery through the dales and moorlands of Durham & West Yorkshire. It is organised by George Jolley, himself a Lea-Francis owner and Club Member. The Lea–Francis entries were: Peter Baston & Katrin Berger, 1929 Hyper; Gillian & Barny Creaser, 1948 14hp Sports (Pictured, photo from Horst Meinert); Geoff Elster, 1928 P-type 4 seater; Malcolm Hall & Sharon Clarke, 1948 14hp Sports; Rod Holt & Horst Meinert, 1952 14hp Special; Trevor Bradley, 1950 14hp Estate and non-member Ian Graham, 1928 U-type 2 seater. Also on the run was John Henderson who originally designed and built Rod’s Special ‘LOTE’, from a 14hp Estate, back in 1978.
The weather was mixed, improving by the afternoon. The route took in The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, Butter Tubs Pass, Bainbridge for lunch on the village green, Askrigg Bank, Britain’s highest Pub on Tan Hill and Stanhope where entrants negotiated the very wide River Wear ford, to finish back at the Beamish Museum. All Lea-Francis cars successfully completed the course with no reported incidents or failures.
Posted June 2015
Lea-francis Owners’ Annual Rally June 14 2015
A great variety of vehicles as around 35 cars attend our 5th visit to Broughton Castle.
At least 35 Lea-Francis cars attended our 5th visit to the tranquil home of Lord & Lady Saye & Sele at Broughton Castle near Banbury, Oxfordshire on Sunday 14th June 2015. Here is a selection. 1. Geoff Elster was awarded 1st Vintage Concours for his 1928 P-type 4-seater. Behind is the 1950 14hp 4-light Saloon owned by Steve & Margot Chittock who think nothing of driving down from near Scarborough for the weekend and who won the wooden salad servers for entertaining us so in the Driving Tests. 2. Malcolm Hall won the Directors Cup for the best car at the show. His 1948 black 14hp Sports, KZ 2596, can be seen here. 3. Every year the 1951 14hp Estate belonging to the Hemingways gets better and better. 4. Pete Chapman has built in only 18 months this intriguing 14hp Special, finished to a high quality and named by Pete The Green-LeaF Special. Pete was awarded the Mike Lea Award for the best Special based on a production Lea-Francis. 5. This 1952 2½ litre Sports has been owned by Nick Ruby for over 40 years. The car was kept “as new” by Lea-Francis until 1959 when the desperate finances of the company forced it to send the car to auction. It is thought to be the 1952 show model and has always looked fabulous in its deep red paint. 6. Les Jewiss, from Selsey, West Sussex, with his 1951 14hp 4-light Saloon. This car was restored by Peter Baston in the late 1980s before passing to Ken Old and then to Les about 7 years ago. 7. Andy Baston stands proudly by his 1927 P-type 4-seater. From his home in Horsley, Derbyshire, to Broughton Castle was Andy’s first ‘proper’ drive in this car and it all went well. 8. This green 1948 14hp Sports, originally gunmetal grey, was the Autocar Road Test car of July 9 1948. Stored since 1968 but recently acquired by David Simpson, we can expect to see a transformation in the next year or so. 9. Having sold his Lea-Francis Motorcycle, John Hayes brought the yellow 14hp 4-light Saloon to the Annual Rally for the first time in several years. Around 45 years ago this car was left on John’s drive as scrap and after repair and painting was used as a towing vehicle for plant machinery during the week and for car sprints at weekends. 10. Two Hyper Replicas. On the left Richard Houlgate with his 1930 car and on the right Colin Mackenzie’s, also from 1930. 11. This 1930 P-type Special belongs to Roger Tolson who now competes in VSCC events after rebuilding the car to a high standard. 12. When LFOC Members’ LeaFs are unavailable it is nice to see them arrive in classics almost as rare. On the left is the Gordon Keeble belonging to 1 LFS 14/40 owner John Follows, and on the right is Nigel Wilcox and his immaculate 1954 Swallow Doretti. Nigel is restoring a 14hp Sports which we hope to see soon.
Posted June 2014
Allan Lupton stands down as LFOC Chairman at April 2015 AGM.
Allan hands over the Chairman’s post to Sarah Poynter after 8 years.
Above: Allan Lupton & Sarah Poynter pictured together before the start of the VSCC Spring Rally on 25 April. Allan was driving his Corsica while Sarah was navigating for husband Colin in their Hyper.
Allan joined the LFOC in September 1959 after buying a 1950 2½ Sports, still a relatively new car then, which he used for rallying. Only 2½ years later he was elected General Secretary, responsible for membership & subscriptions. He became our representative at the COMCC (Combined One-make Car Club) meetings, formed to provide enough competitors to make race meetings viable, and continued his involvement as COMCC secretary until, as treasurer, he had to wind it up in 2002. Allan also stood in occasionally for a sometimes non-existent LeaFlet Editor and was Treasurer for two years in 1970/1971. He sold the 2½ Sports in 1966, enjoying Daimler SP250s until 1979 when he bought the Corsica Sports primarily for VSCC rallying, which he still enjoys today. In 1982 he became LeaFlet Editor, a post held until April 2000 when he became Vice Chairman until elected Chairman in April 2007 after the resignation of Keith Poynter.
Allan will tell you that it is the excellent officers within the LFOC whose work it is what keeps the club running well, but I have first-hand experience of Allan at our stand at the NEC Classic Car Show in 2012 where he attended all three days and spent the whole time on his feet talking about & promoting the LeaF and the Club to LFOC Members and the Public. At the Annual Rally weekends he would help enormously at the Saturday venue with marshalling, and he helps set-up and clear up on the Sunday at the Concours & Gymkhana in addition to his Chairman’s duties during prize-giving. The most significant change in the Club during Allan’s time as Chairman has been the move to fully embrace modern technology through the development of the website and the use of the forum, which he has encouraged by enabling others to get things done. He has been a quietly efficient ambassador for the LFOC and will continue to support the Club through regular membership.
Allan is succeeded by Sarah Poynter who has been involved with Lea-Francis for more than 20 years. Sarah was Editor of the LeaFlet from June 2000 to April 2003 and actively promotes the marque, not least by competing as a navigator in VSCC rallies. She is married to Colin Poynter, the Pre-1937 Registrar, who’s father Keith was a founder member of the LFOC. She is currently rebuilding a 1927 Avon bodies P Type tourer. We wish her well in her new post.
Posted April 2015
Cowell & Watson has new owner
One of the two surviving Lea-Francis based specials moves from Italy to Switzerland.
In 1946/1947 two ex-RAF officers Robert Cowell and Gordon Watson used the post-war Lea-Francis 14hp saloon chassis to build a racy sports car at their works in Egham, Surrey which pre-dated Lea-Francis’s own 14hp Sports by nearly a year. The saloon chassis was shortened by 13ins and used a duralumin frame with aluminium panels. The Lea-Francis Hugh Rose designed 1496cc 12hp engine was fitted but improved by Freddie Dixon. The body was designed by Denis Jenkinson and the weight kept to 16cwt. They were expensive at £1214 and only a few were built. Today only two survive and since 2009 this car has been in the hands of Bruno Roma from northern Italy who has enthusiastically used it for Alpine rallying. It has now been sold to Alex Stüger from Switzerland, who writes “Here is a photo of the car in front of it´s new home in Zumikon, Switzerland. The car is in very good shape and a true joy to drive. I have had some refurbishment done before completing road registration. I have no current plans for competition but will see. Just enjoying driving it on the twisty roads here in Kanton Zurich with all the mountains and lakes. Will take it out of winter hibernation at the end of March.”
Posted March 2015
The RoseLeaF Special
An intriguing project to turn a Lea-Francis 14hp Saloon into a 1950s style sports racer.
Robin Richardson (pictured), an IM&T and PR expert, has a life-long interest in record breaking. He founded the Speed Record Club, and was for 5 years a Project Manager for the Thrust SSC supersonic land speed record car. He instigated the Mach 1 Club to promote the project on-line and was responsible for a large proportion of the fund raising and publicity. With a BRA 289 AC Cobra fettled to his satisfaction Robin was searching for a new project with a racing and record-breaking theme. After ideas for building a Tojeiro type special that led to the AC Ace, and an Austin 7 racer based on the car Malcolm Campbell took with him to Daytona Beach in 1931, he came across the MG High Speed Service Van used for the MG EX 127 record attempt at Pendine Sands in 1932 (Go to Touchwood Models to see a picture). Trawling the web for a suitable donor chassis, – he wouldn’t cut up anything that was restorable, Robin came across this rather sorry looking Lea-Francis 1948 14hp 4-light saloon (pictured). When collecting the car from Bugatti & Lea-Francis man Ivan Dutton he saw the Lea-Francis Skelly Special, click here to see a picture, and decided there and then that a cycle wing road/racer was the way forward.
The Bill Skelly special’s body had been designed by John Wyer and modelled on a Ferrari 166 Spider Corsa. Robin discovered that fibreglass bodies based on the cycle-winged Ferrari 166 are still built to order by a team in Kent, originally for a Triumph GT6 based special called the Fiorano T48 Corsa Spyder. After careful measurements one of these bodies was ordered. Jaguar hubs have been fitted, converting the car to 16 inch wire wheels. Hydraulic front brakes have been taken from a later Lea-Francis IFS chassis and Robin is using the now rolling chassis as a giant template to position and dry fit all the bits he has collected over the last 18 months. It is hoped to retain the 14hp saloon’s fuel tank. The seats are from an Alfa and wings from a Singer Le Mans. The original engine will be rebuilt and upgraded, matched, lightened and balanced hopefully using the experience of John Sturgeon, who’s Lea-Francis engined HWM-style special is well known in the Club. Once the engine is running and run-in Robin intends to fit a modern Eaton supercharger from a Mini later to be replaced by a period supercharger if one can be found.
Robin is doing as much of the work as possible himself except specialist machining. His aim is to have fun creating and using a road useable special while retaining as much of the original Lea-Francis donor car as is practical.
All photographs from Robin Richardson.
Posted January 2015.