The original Lakeland Motor Museum was established in 1978 as an extra attraction for the Holker Hall stately home. It was created by Donald Sidebottom to contain the collection of cars and related memorabilia that he had been collecting since the 1960s. I recall making a visit to see the collection a very long time ago, though sadly have no photographs to record the experience or what I saw. In 2006, the collection was purchased by a subsidiary company of Winander Group Holdings Ltd, which also own Windermere Lake Cruises, and it was not long before the new owners decided to make a fairly significant change and to relocate. So in 2010, after more than thirty years at Holker Hall, a new museum, bearing the same name, was opened on the site of the former Reckitt’s Blue Dye Works carton packaging sheds at Backbarrow, near Newby Bridge. Situated just off the A590 and around 15 miles from the M6 it is a little easier to get to than the first site, and it fast became a popular attraction for visitors to the Lake District. Housed in two separate buildings, the museum features a unique collection of over 30,000 motoring related exhibits including a 1920s garage re-creation, as many cars as can be crammed in to the building along with a vast collection of bicycles and motorbikes and that’s just in one building. The other one is dedicated to the Campbell family and contains vehicles and replicas of the various record-breaking machinery that they built as well as a lot of related artefacts. There’s a lot to see, and I had been eager to pay a visit for a long time. Finally, the incentive to go along came when the Abarth North West Group arranged a private opening for a Saturday evening in October. Museum contents do keep changing with the arrival of new vehicles and others out on loan, so here is what I saw at the time of my visit in October 2021:
The core of the displays on the ground floor of the main building are the cars, which are displayed in roughly chronological order if you walk around the museum following the suggested routing. There’s quite a mix here, from the familiar to cars which you probably won’t have seen before or perhaps heard of. Although some have been in the collection right from the outset, there have been plenty of additions, and to make space, some cars are either moved on elsewhere permanently or head out on loan. The museum does own the only TVR Cerbera Speed 12, but it was not in evidence during this visit, sadly, but there was plenty of other interest.
1907 de Dion Bouton 8HP Populaire
1913 Star 12/15HP Special Streamlined: This vehicle was produced by Star engineering at Lower Walsall Street, Wolverhampton (see emblem on the wheel centres) and was sold to a Mr HH Shaw of Paignton Devon. It has the streamlined V shaped radiator, rather than the more usual flat design, and appears to have the Special Streamline body with a rear dickey seat for two extra passengers. Also notice the wooden wheels and lack of front brakes – the unpaved roads were very dusty with loose gravel and front brakes would lock up and skid. It has a 9′ 4½” wheelbase, and the engine has a capacity of 2.4 litres, with two cylinder blocks – each holding a pair of pistons. This is the 12/15 model with a 12Hp RAC rating, so you would pay £12 per year road tax, but giving 15 actual horsepower. The RAC rating was based on the number and diameter of the pistons. Star production returned after the First World war, but the General Strike of 1926 led to hard times, with only 105 cars being sold the following year. In 1928 Star was bought out by Guy Motors but only survived until 1932, having produced over 14,000 vehicles in total. Racing versions of the products were also produced, for early 20th century events included the Gorden Bennett Trails and the Isle of Man TT. Malcolm Campbell also raced a Star 11.9Hp in the 1920s at Brooklands and was a Star sales agent.
1921 Citroen Type A: The Citroën story starts with this car. the 1919 Model A, the very first Citroën car ever made. During World War I, André Citroën was producing munitions. As early as 1917, Citroën investigated the development of a light car of the medium range under the direction of Jules Salomon. Under the designation 10 HP Type A the car had a water-cooled 1327 cc four-cylinder engine and an output of 18 hp. Its maximum speed was 65 km/h (40 mph). The chassis had inverted quarter elliptic springs at the front and double quarter elliptics at the rear. Braking was on the rear wheels only controlled by a hand lever with a foot pedal operated transmission brake. The chassis was made in two lengths and carried a variety of coachwork. The long chassis was available as Torpedo (four-seat tourer), Torpedo Sport, Conduite Intérieure, Coupe de Ville and light truck and the short chassis with Torpedo (3-seat), Conduite Intérieure, Coupe de Ville and camionette (van). The shorter 2,550 mm (100.4 in) wheelbase chassis was available only on demand until the start of 1920 after which the option was withdrawn in order to maximize standardization and derive the resulting cost and efficiency benefits. The final drive used a bevel gear with herringbone teeth, whose shape was the inspiration for the Citroën double chevron logo. In its first year of production, the standard Type A cost 7,950 francs. One year later the selling price had been raised to 12,500 francs. After a slightly hesitant start in 1919, sales took off in 1920, during which more than 20,000 cars emerged from the factory in a single year. With a production rate of 100 vehicles a day, Citroën became the first mass production manufacturer in Europe. 24,093 were made before the car was replaced in 1921.
1920s Ford Model T Van: In production for just under 20 years, the Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, beating off competition from the BMC Mini, Citroën DS, and Volkswagen Type 1. Henry Ford’s Model T was arguably the greatest contribution made to the motoring world and is still considered to be the most influential car of the 20th century. Speaking before the design process began, Mr Ford declared the vehicle would be aimed squarely at the “middle classes”, with his mission statement declaring, “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one.” 16.5 million Model Ts were sold, and it was the first car to achieve one million, five million, ten million and fifteen million units sold. It’s estimated that by 1914, nine out of every ten cars on the road around the world were Fords. The vehicle on display is one from the 1920s, on loan from owner Jeremy Howarth from Blackpool – where the vehicle was regularly seen on the streets. The Model T has been part of the Lakeland Motor Museum’s impressive line-up of classic vehicles since the museum opened at its initial site on the Holker estate in 1978.
1927 Dennis Fire Engine: Dennis brothers were founded in Guildford, Surrey in 1895 as bicycle manufacturers and retailers. They moved in to car production in 1903 and in 1906 used their first White and Poppe engine. This engine was soon fitted in all their vehicles and Dennis bought the engine manufacturer in 1919. Cars soon gave way to commercial vehicles, buses and fire engines, with no cars produced after WW1. The firm grew throughout the 20th century, but like much of the British vehicle industry it suffered in the 1970s and 80s. Alexander Dennis now builds Dennis branded buses and fire appliances in Falkirk, Scotland. This one was built by the Dennis Brothers company back in 1927, it spent its operational life thousands of miles away in South Africa. It’s at the smaller end of the Dennis range and is known as a “250 Gallon” model after the amount of water it can pump in a minute. Soon after it was built it was exported to the Benoni Fire Brigade in Johannesburg, South Africa, for a price of eight hundred and seven pounds and ten shillings. It had an electric self-starter and, originally, foam extinguishers. Following its service lifetime, it was preserved in The Scharinghuisen Collection in Ladysmith, part of the largest collection of preserved vintage vehicles in Africa, before returning to the UK in August 2000. At some time during its operational life the original foam extinguishers were replaced by four, three Gallon water extinguishers. This example doesn’t carry any large amount of water. The extinguishers are used upon arrival at a fire while the white suction pipes are connected and put into a stream, river or pond. When pumping water the engine could overheat due to too little airflow through the radiator. To counteract this – part of the pumped water is fed into the engine and radiator to ensure it was kept cool. Unfortunately, there was little in the way of filtration involved and when the fire engine arrived back in the UK its radiator tubes were completely blocked with fine river silt from South Africa.
1929 Fiat 509A: The Fiat 509 was a model of car produced by Italian automotive manufacturer Fiat between 1925 and 1929 as a replacement for the 501. Approximately 90,000 of the model were sold. In 1926 the car was upgraded to the 509A.
1933 Buick Eight Series CA: Produced in right hand drive for the British market by Mclaughlin of Ontario, Canada, this example is believed to be the sole survivor. Buicks were popular with both King Edward VIII and King George VI, and were produced for various former British Empire markets. Import taxation rules meant buying vehicles made in Canada was substantially cheaper than buying a near identical American product – Canada had been under direct British control from 1763 to 1867. Sold under the name Viceroy, with two engine sizes, this is the smaller 230 cubic inch (3,772cc) series 50 model, given a Hp rating of 27.6 for taxation purposes, actually providing approximately 77 bhp, allowing a 73mph top speed. The larger model 70 had a 5,644cc or 344 cubic inch engine giving 104 bhp, with a 35.1HP taxation rate. Costing £495, when a Ford 10 deluxe was £140 this stylish vehicle was the first Buick to feature a V shaped, tilted back radiator design, and had other features, such as winding windows as well as quarter lights, built in rear and side blinds, internal door locks, and town and country horns. Notice the tilting rear luggage rack, there was no internal boot provided. The Buick importers were based at 26 Albermarle St., in London, directly opposite the Royal Institute. Albermarle Street was the first one-way street in London.
1934 Hillman Minx Foursome Drophead: Hillman used the Minx name for nearly 4 decades, during which time it appeared on a number of different cars, all of them very much aimed at the family car market. The original Minx was introduced in 1932 with a pressed-steel body on separate chassis and 30 bhp 1185 cc engine. It was upgraded with a four-speed transmission in 1934 and a styling upgrade, most noticeably a slightly V-shaped grille. For 1935, synchromesh was added but the range was otherwise similar. The 1936 model got a new name, the Minx Magnificent, and a restyle with much more rounded body. The chassis was stiffened and the engine moved forwards to give more passenger room. The rear panel, hitherto vertical, was now set at a sloping angle, and the manufacturers offered the option of a folding luggage grid which could be attached to the rear panel and was available for “two pounds, seven shillings and sixpence” (slightly under £2.40) painted. A Commer-badged estate car was added to the range. The final pre-war model was the 1938 Minx. There were no more factory-built tourers but some were made by Carbodies. The car was visually similar to the Magnificent, with a different grille, and access to the luggage boot was external unlike its predecessor where it was accessed by folding down the rear seat. There were two saloon models in the range, the basic “Safety” model with simple rexine trim instead of leather, no opening front quarterlights, and less luxurious trim levels. The De Luxe model had leather trim, opening quarterlights, extra trim pads, and various other comfort benefits. The 1938 model was not the final iteration before the outbreak of war, however, as the 1939 model was considerably different mechanically, with virtually the entire drivetrain improved to the extent that few parts are interchangeable with the 1938 model. This includes gearbox, differential, half shafts, steering box, and a great many other mechanical and cosmetic changes. Even the front grille, which to the casual eye looks almost identical to the 1938 model, became a pressed alloy component rather than a composite. his vehicle was originally owned by Miss E Dalton, the sister of John Henry Dalton who had inherited Thurnham Hall south of Lancaster. Thurnham Hall had been in the Dalton Family for 4 centuries, but times were hard and following John Henrey’s death in 1937, it passed to his brother William Augustus Dalton, who couldn’t afford to maintain the Hall and was declared bankrupt in 1965. The car was last used in 1947 and spent many years in a barn on the estate before being rescued by Mr John Lamb, a local garage owner who restored it to the present condition in 1991.
1937 Jaguar SS100: The first of William Lyons’ open two-seater sports cars came in March 1935 with the SS 90, so called because of its claimed 90 mph top speed. This car used the 2½-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine in a short-chassis “cut and shut” SS 1 brought down to an SS 2’s wheelbase. Just 23 were made. It was the precursor to one of the finest pre-war sports car ever made, the SS100. That car benefitted from some significant engine development work that was led by Harry Westlake, who was asked to redesign the 2½-litre 70 bhp side-valve engine to achieve 90 bhp. His answer was an overhead-valve design that produced 102 bhp and it was this engine that launched the new SS Jaguar sports and saloon cars in 1936. Shown first in the SS Jaguar 2½-litre saloon, the new car caused a sensation when it was launched at a trade luncheon for dealers and press at London’s Mayfair Hotel on 21 September 1935. The show car was in fact a prototype. Luncheon guests were asked to write down the UK price for which they thought the car would be sold and the average of their answers was £765. Even in that deflationary period, the actual price at just £395 would have been a pleasant surprise for many customers, something which characterised Jaguars for many decades to come. Whilst the new Jaguar saloon could now compete with the brand new MG SA, it was the next application of the engine that stunned everyone even more, with the launch of the legendary SS100. Named because it was a genuine 100 mph car, this open topped sports car looked as good as it was to drive. Only 198 of the 2½-litre and 116 of the 3½-litre models were made and survivors are highly prized and priced on the rare occasions when they come on the market. Such is their desirability that a number of replica models have been made over the years, with those made by Suffolk Engineering being perhaps the best known, and which are indeed hard to tell apart from an original 1930s car at a glance. This car has been loaned to the Motor Museum by a Manchester couple with a strong affinity to the Lake District, after more than 60 years in continuous ownership. This particular car was tested by the Motor Magazine in May 1937, then by Autocar in July. It also completed the 1937 RAC Rally, helping to win the manufacturer’s team prize.
1937 Bentley 4 ¼ Standard Steel Park Ward Body: This is an example of what is sometimes referred to as the “Derby” Bentley. These were produced after the acquisition of Bentley by Rolls-Royce, in 1934, at which point the focus of the brand shifted to the production of large and elegant tourers. The cars retained the famous curved radiator shape based on earlier Bentley models, but in all meaningful respects they were clearly Rolls-Royces. Although disappointing some traditional customers, they were well received by many others and even W.O. Bentley himself was reported as saying that he would “rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name.” The Rolls-Royce Engineer in charge of the development project, Ernest Hives (later Lord Hives), underlined the Rolls-Royce modus operandi in a memo addressed to company staff “our recommendation is that we should make the car as good as we know how and then charge accordingly.” At a time when the Ford 8 could be purchased new for £100, an early Bentley 3½ Litre cost around £1,500 (equivalent to £6400 vs. £96,000 today), putting it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest consumers. Despite not being a car of remarkable outright performance, the car’s unique blend of style and grace proved popular with the inter-war elite and it was advertised under the legend the silent sports car. Over 70% of the cars built between 1933 and 1939 were said to have still been in existence 70 years later. Although chassis production ceased in 1939, a number of cars were still being bodied and delivered during 1940. The last few were delivered and first registered in 1941. The 3.5 litre came first. Based on an experimental Rolls-Royce project “Peregrine” which was to have had a supercharged 2¾ litre engine, the 3½ Litre was finally fitted with a less adventurous engine developed from Rolls’ straight-6 fitted to the Rolls-Royce 20/25. The Bentley variant featured a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. Actual power output was roughly 110 bhp at 4500 rpm, allowing the car to reach 90 mph. The engine displaced 3669 cc with a 3¼ in (82.5 mm) bore and 4½ in (114.3 mm) stroke. A 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th, 4-wheel leaf spring suspension, and 4-wheel servo-assisted mechanical brakes were all common with other Rolls-Royce models. The chassis was manufactured from nickel steel, and featured a “double-dropped” layout to gain vertical space for the axles and thus keep the profiles of the cars low. The strong chassis needed no diagonal cross-bracing, and was very light in comparison to the chassis built by its contemporary competitors, weighing in at 2,510 pounds (1,140 kg) in driveable form ready for delivery to the customer’s chosen coachbuilder. 1177 of the 3½ Litre cars were built, with about half of them being bodied by Park Ward, with the remainder “dressed” by other coachbuilders like Barker, Carlton, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both Arthur and H J), Rippon, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni et Falaschi, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe. Beginning in March, 1936, a 4¼ Litre version of the car was offered as replacement for the 3½ Litre, in order to offset the increasing weight of coachwork and maintain the car’s sporting image in the face of stiff competition. The engine was bored to 3½ in (88.9 mm) for a total of 4257cc. From 1938 the MR and MX series cars featured Marles steering and an overdrive gearbox. The model was replaced in 1939 by the MkV, but some cars were still finished and delivered during 1940-1941. 1234 4¼ Litre cars were built, with Park Ward remaining the most popular coachbuilder. Many cars were bodied in steel rather than the previous, more expensive, aluminium over ash frame construction.
1938 Cadillac Fleetwood: This imposing vehicle is the biggest car on show in the collection. And it has a rather poetic history – once the family car of the daughter of Sir John Betjeman – the former Poet Laureate. It was first registered in 1938 to a Mr Joseph Furlong, in Surbiton Surrey. But it was only licensed until 1941. It could be that it’s thirst for rationed petrol along with the war-time vehicle taxation became rather too much for the owner. It was next used by the Daimler Hire company of Knightsbridge where the expense of running it wasn’t such an issue. Daimler Hire Limited had been founded back in 1897 to provide chauffeur driven limousines to royalty and the well off and this Cadillac obviously met with their luxury requirements. It was kept there until 1966. In the later Swinging Sixties it was bought by a Saville Row tailor – Rupert Lycett Green – who was married to Candida Betjeman – the author and daughter of Sir John Betjeman – the famous Poet Laureate who may well have travelled in the limo. Candida was also a close friend of, among others, the Prince of Wales and the Beatles. So who knows who may have enjoyed travelling in this luxurious vehicle! Since the Lakeland Motor Museum was founded back in 1978 it has been on permanent display apart from occasionally being used for weddings. And there’s plenty of room inside for a bride and groom and a few more people if needed. It has a 3.6 metre wheelbase and seating for eight people. There are two folding occasional seats behind the driver’s division panel. It has a 5.7 litre V8 engine so you can imagine how much petrol an average journey might require. But if you could afford to purchase this in its heyday – the cost of petrol would probably be of little concern to you!
1949 Light Delivery Vehicles Tri-Van: This 1940s light delivery vehicle – known as the ‘Tri-van’ – has been restored to full working order and takes pride of place at the Lakeland Motor Museum. It is the sole surviving example of the 1949 Tri-Van, designed to combine the storage capacity of a small van with the low running costs of a motorcycle for small parcel deliveries and collections. Originally built by Turner Manufacturing Ltd of Wolverhampton – but sold under the brand name Light Delivery Vehicles – the Museum bought the vehicle at auction and had it restored locally. The Tri-Van was re-built in Greenodd and re-painted in Ambleside. It has a two-stroke 168cc engine and 3 speed gearbox. The Tri-Van is part of a trio of vehicles, which also included a ‘By-van’ and a Rixi model with room for two passengers. Together they completed a 2000 mile run from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 1950, but as far as is known, very few were ever sold.
1952 Citroen 11BL “Traction Avant”: 1934 saw the introduction of the Citroen’s revolutionary and mould-shattering front-wheel-drive semi-monocoque Citroën Traction Avant. The Traction endured a troubled and prolonged birth process, however, and was part of an ambitious investment programme which involved, also in 1934, the bankruptcy of the business, and its acquisition by Citroën’s principal creditor. The patron himself died in 1935. In this troubled situation, availability of the larger Rosalies (although re-engined with a turned-around version of the new Traction’s OHV four-cylinder engines) continued till 1938: it is only through the distorting prism of subsequent events that its reputation has been diminished when set against the technical brilliance of its successor. There were three examples of the Traction Avant here. Produced for over 20 years, many different versions were made during that time, all with the same styling outline, but with power outputs ranging from 7 to 15CV, and different wheelbases, as well as some with Coupe and Convertible body styles. There was even one model with a large opening tailgate, the Commerciale.
1952 TVR 2: After founding Trevcar Motors in 1947, Trevor Wilkinson initially focussed on repairing old military trucks and fairground rides, but always held the passion that he wanted to design and build his own car. He realised his ambition two years later when in 1949 he built TVR No 1 (right) using a multi-tubular chassis (like all modern TVRs), Morris 8 mechanicals and a Ford 100E engine to which he added his own design metal bodyshell. This car sadly no longer exists as it was damaged in an accident and was subsequently broken up to build TVR No 3. Also built in 1949, TVR No 2 is a development of the original in which Trevor refined a number of minor points including a larger radiator for improved engine cooling and the introduction of hub caps! Aviation enthusiasts may recognise the rev counter – it originates from a Supermarine Spitfire! The car raced in the 1172 Formula in the mid 1960s at circuits such as Croft, Oulton and Aintree.
1954 MG TF: Final version of the popular T Series sports car was the TF, launched on the 15 October 1953. Although it looked quite a bit different, this was really just a facelifted TD, fitted with the TD Mark II engine, headlights faired into the wings, a sloping radiator grille concealing a separate radiator, and a new pressurised cooling system along with a simulated external radiator cap. This XPAG engine’s compression ratio had been increased to 8.1:1 and extra-large valves with stronger valve springs and larger carburettors increased output to 57.5 bhp at 5,500 rpm. In mid-1954 the engine capacity was increased by 17 per cent to 1466 cc and designated XPEG. The bore was increased to 72 mm and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp at 5,000 rpm and a 17 per cent increase in torque. The car was now designated TF1500, and externally distinguished by a cream background enamel nameplate on both sides of the bonnet, placed just to the rear of the forward bonnet-release buttons. Production ended at chassis number TF10100 on 4 April 1955 after 9,602 TFs had been manufactured, including two prototypes and 3,400 TF1500s. A number of replica models have been built in more recent years, with the Naylor of the mid 1980s being perhaps the best known.
1955 Jaguar XK140: The XK140, was the successor to the XK120, with a number of useful changes and upgrades over the earlier car which included more interior space, improved brakes, rack and pinion steering, increased suspension travel, and telescopic shock absorbers instead of the older lever arm design. The XK140 was introduced in late 1954 and sold as a 1955 model. Exterior changes that distinguished it from the XK120 included more substantial front and rear bumpers with overriders, and flashing turn signals (operated by a switch on the dash) above the front bumper. The grille remained the same size but became a one-piece cast unit with fewer, and broader, vertical bar, making it easy to tell an XK140 apart from an XK120. The Jaguar badge was incorporated into the grille surround. A chrome trim strip ran along the centre of the bonnet and boot lid. An emblem on the boot lid contained the words “Winner Le Mans 1951–3”. The interior was made more comfortable for taller drivers by moving the engine, firewall and dash forward to give 3 inches more legroom. Two 6-volt batteries, one in each front wing were fitted to the Fixed Head Coupe, but Drop Heads and the Open Two Seater had a single 12-volt battery. This was installed in the front wing on the passenger side (e.g. In the left wing on right hand drive cars and in the right wing on left hand drive). The XK140 was powered by the Jaguar XK engine with the Special Equipment modifications from the XK120, which raised the specified power by 10 bhp to 190 bhp gross at 5500 rpm, as standard. The C-Type cylinder head, carried over from the XK120 catalogue, and producing 210 bhp ross at 5750 rpm, was optional equipment. When fitted with the C-type head, 2-inch sand-cast H8 carburettors, heavier torsion bars and twin exhaust pipes, the car was designated XK140 SE in the UK and XK140 MC in North America. In 1956 the XK140 became the first Jaguar sports car to be offered with automatic transmission. As with the XK120, wire wheels and dual exhausts were options, and most XK140s imported into the United States had wire wheels. Cars with the standard disc wheels had spats (fender skirts) over the rear wheel opening. When leaving the factory it originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch crossply tyres or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels or 16 × 5K (special equipment) wire wheels. The Roadster (designated OTS – Open Two Seater – in America) had a light canvas top that folded out of sight behind the seats. The interior was trimmed in leather and leatherette, including the dash. Like the XK120 Roadster, the XK140 version had removable canvas and plastic side curtains on light alloy barchetta-type doors, and a tonneau cover. The door tops and scuttle panel were cut back by two inches compared to the XK120, to allow a more modern positioning of the steering wheel. The angle of the front face of the doors (A-Post) was changed from 45 degrees to 90 degrees, to make access easier. The Drophead Coupé (DHC) had a bulkier lined canvas top that lowered onto the body behind the seats, a fixed windscreen integral with the body (the Roadster’s screen was removable), wind-up side windows, and a small rear seat. It also had a walnut-veneered dashboard and door cappings. The Fixed Head Coupé (FHC) shared the DHC’s interior trim and rear seat. The prototype Fixed Head Coupe retained the XK120 Fixed Head roof-profile, with the front wings and doors the same as the Drophead. In production, the roof was lengthened with the screen being placed further forward, shorter front wings, and longer doors. This resulted in more interior space, and more legroom. The XK140 was replaced by the XK150 in March 1957 The car seen here had an illustrious racing career having been driven in 25 British and 4 international rally events including the world-famous Monte Carlo Rally back in 1958. It was owned and driven by a North West rally legend – Bobby (George Herbert Farrer) Parkes. Bobby Parkes was born in Cheshire and joined Morecambe Car Club in 1953 where he developed his already impressive driving skills. He notably raced this vehicle in the RAC Rally and the Scottish Rally in 1956, the 1957 Circuit of Ireland and at Monte Carlo. It also took part in an event closer to home – the Morecambe Illumination Rally. It became nicknamed the Battlewagon due to its rallying success (It was originally dark blue – not the bright white you can see now on display inside the museum.) It’s one of only 194 right hand drive SE models that Jaguar produced.
1957 Austin A35: The Morris Minor was already well established when rival Austin launched their competitor, the A30 Saloon of 1952. That was also the year that Austin and Morris merged to become the British Motor Corporation, so suddenly the two cars that had been conceived to compete against each other were stablemates. Except BMC did not work like that. Separate dealer chains remained in place, as they would do for a further 30 years, and whilst this may sound inefficient now, it has to be noted that brand loyalty was such that there were plenty of people would only consider an Austin say, and not a Morris, or vice versa. The A30 was smaller than the Minor and at £507, at launch, it was also £60 cheaper. The body structure was designed by T.K. Garrett, who had been an aeronautical engineer before joining Austin. It was of fully stressed monocoque chassis-less construction, which made it lighter and stiffer than most contemporary vehicles, the first Austin to be made in this way. Inside there were individual seats at the front and a bench at the rear covered in PVC with an option of leather facings on the seats. Evidence of economy was seen in only having a single windscreen wiper, central combined stop/tail/numberplate lamp and a sun visor in front of the driver only. A passenger-side wiper and sun visor, and a heater were available as optional extras. Even so, it sold well, and 223,264 examples were built. The A30 was replaced by the Austin A35 in 1956 with the new name reflecting the larger and more powerful 34 hp A-Series engine, which gave the car a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration, though much of this came as a result of different gearbox ratios. The A30 had the first three ratios close together then a big gap to top, whereas in the A35, the ratios were better spaced and gave a higher speed in third gear. That top speed was 72 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times are just over 30 seconds, so this remains a very slow car by modern standards. The A35 was very similar in appearance to the A30, and is best recognised by its larger rear window aperture and a painted front grille, with chrome horse-shoe surround, instead of the chrome grille featured on the A30. The semaphore trafficators were replaced with present-day front- and rear-mounted flashing light indicators. A slightly easier to operate remote-control gear-change was provided. Like the A30, the A35 was offered as a two- or four-door saloon or two-door “Countryman” estate and also as a van. The latter model continued in production through to 1968. A rare coupe utility (pickup) version was also produced in 1956, with just 477 sold. Drawings were made for a sports tourer, but no prototype was actually built. The A35 passenger cars were replaced by the new body shape A40 Farina models in 1959 but the estate car version continued until 1962 and van until 1968. These days they are popular as an affordable classic. Their simple mechanicals, good availability of some parts (not bodywork, though) and pert looks give them widespread appeal.
1959 Scootacar: Scootacar was a British three-wheeled microcar built in Hunslet, Leeds by Scootacars Ltd a division of the railway locomotive builder, the Hunslet Engine Company between 1957 and 1964. It was allegedly built because the wife of one of the directors wanted something easier to park than her Jaguar. The shape of the car was designed by Henry Brown, previously responsible for the Rodley, who did it by sitting on a Villiers engine and then having an assistant draw an outline around him. The body was built in glass fibre and was very tall for its size being 60 in (1,524 mm) high, 87 in (2,210 mm) long and only 52 in (1,321 mm) wide. It was nicknamed “the telephone booth”. Two people could be carried with a passenger behind the driver or alternatively just squeezed in alongside. Power came from a rear-mounted Villiers 9E 197 cc single-cylinder two-stroke engine coupled to a four-speed motorcycle-type gearbox and chain drive to the single rear wheel. Steering was by handlebars. The car had independent front suspension using coil springs, and the wheels were 8 in, with the spare mounted externally at the rear. The top speed was 50 mph. In 1960 came the De Luxe or Mark 2, with a totally redesigned body with more room and seating for three, but it appeared too late to sell in any great numbers. It had a top speed of 55 mph and sold for £275 British Pounds. In 1961 the De Luxe Twin Mark 3 cars appeared fitted with a 324cc Villiers 3T twin, giving a top speed of 68 mph.
1960 Messerschmitt KR250 KabinenRoller: The Messerschmitt Kabinenroller (Messerschmitt Cabin Scooter) was a series of microcars made by Messerschmitt from 1953 to 1956 and by Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH, Regensburg (FMR) from 1956 to 1964. All the Messerschmitt and FMR production cars used the Kabinenroller’s monocoque structure, featuring tandem seating and usually a bubble canopy. The Kabinenroller platform was used for four microcars, the three-wheeled Messerschmitt KR175 (1953-1955), Messerschmitt KR200 (1955-1964) and Messerschmitt KR201, and the four-wheeled FMR Tg500 (1957-1961). The platform and all four cars using it were designed by Fritz Fend. The Kabinenroller was designed and developed by Fritz Fend for Messerschmitt AG. Fend had earlier designed and built a series of unpowered and powered invalid carriages, leading up to his Fend Flitzer. Fend noticed that able-bodied people were buying Flitzers for use as personal transport. This led him to believe that a mass-produced two-seat version of the Flitzer would have a ready market. A search for a manufacturer interested in the project led him to Messerschmitt, who had him develop the project for production in their Regensburg factory. The Kabinenroller was designed and developed for production in 1952 and 1953. Production of the original version, the KR175, began in February 1953. 70 modifications had been made to the design by June 1953.The KR200 was developed on the Kabinenroller platform and replaced the KR175 in 1955. Based on the same frame and an evolution of the original suspension, the KR200 had a large number of detail changes. On 29–30 August 1955, a modified KR200 with a tuned engine, revised gear ratios, redundant control cables, a one-off streamlined body, and stock suspension, damping, steering, and brakes, was run at the Hockenheimring for twenty-four hours. During the run, the vehicle set twenty-two closed-circuit speed records for three-wheeled vehicles with displacements up to 250 cc, including the fifty-mile record at 107 km/h (66.5 mph) and the twenty-four-hour record at 103 km/h (64.0 mph). The Kabinenroller was based on a central monocoque tub made from pressed steel sheet and tubular steel. The tub tapered upward from front to rear with a bulkhead at the back. The bulkhead supported a tubular steel subframe and acted as the firewall. The subframe supported the engine and the rear suspension. The engine cover was hinged to the monocoque structure. The fuel tank was in the top of the engine cover and fed the carburettor by gravity.The monocoque tub, with the bulkhead at the back, a nose section at the front, and an access hatch system overhead, formed a passenger compartment for a driver and a passenger sitting in tandem. The base plate on which the hatch was hinged was riveted to the right side of the monocoque tub and the nose section. The hatch was made of a steel sheet base with a glass windshield, a plexiglas bubble canopy, and a framed set of sliding windows on either side of the canopy. The tandem seating allowed the body to be long and narrow, with a low frontal area. This also allowed the body to taper like an aircraft fuselage, within a practical length. Front suspension of the Kr 200 Kabinenroller (the Kr175 had a different arrangement with rubber cones) was by a transverse lower arm sprung by a torsional 3-element rubber spring at the inside end. Front suspension travel was limited by rubber buffers. Rear suspension was by a trailing arm similar to a single-sided motorcycle swingarm which also formed the enclosure for the chain drive to the rear wheel. The trailing arm was suspended by another torsional rubber spring. Hydraulic dampers were added to the design with the introduction of the KR200 in 1955; also the front track was increased at that time. The shaft of the steering control was connected directly to the track rods controlling the front wheels, resulting in approximately one-third of a turn from the left extreme to the right extreme (“lock to lock”). The handlebar-shaped steering control would be operated with small, controlled inputs by swivelling the steering bar about its axis from the horizontal (straight-ahead) position instead of rotating it as with a conventional steering wheel. The performance of the record car convinced Fend to design a sports car based on the Kabinenroller platform. The FMR Tg500 was introduced in 1958, two years after Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau Gmbh, Regensburg (FMR) took over production of the Kabinenroller from Messerschmitt. The Tg500 used the Kabinenroller’s unit body, front bodywork, front suspension, and steering system, but the rear subframe and bodywork were completely different. The Tg500’s most noticeable difference from other Kabinenrollern is its pair of rear wheels. These were driven by halfshafts with universal joints at both ends and a sliding spline allowing the length of the shaft to vary, accommodating changes in camber angle. The wheels were suspended by control arms and coil springs with concentric hydraulic shock absorbers. The rear track was 1,044 mm (41.1 in). The tubular subframe to which the rear suspension was attached also held the drivetrain, which consisted of a transversely-mounted FMR 500 L straight-twin two-stroke engine and an unsynchronized four-speed transaxle with a reverse gear. The Tg500 had a front track of 1,110 mm (43.7 in), up from the KR200’s 1,080 mm (42.5 in). It also used larger tyres, 4.40 x 10 to the KR200’s 4.40 x 8, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes.
1960 MG MGA Police car: The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced. This is one of approximately 50 MGA’s supplied for traffic patrol duties to the Lancashire Constabulary. The cars were divided into white (A Class) and black (B Class) contingents. They were basically to 1600 deluxe/twin cam specification, though with drum rear brakes instead of discs and extended battery carriers necessitated by the additional electrical equipment – including front ‘Police’ sign and public address megaphone.
1964 Austin A40 Mark II: By the mid 1950s, the BMC organisation was well established, and it dominated the UK market with a 39% share. Plans were made for a complete new range of cars that would encompass all the marques: Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley. Italian stylist Pininfarina was commissioned to design them. The first model to appear was the A40 which was launched in October 1958 at the London Motor Show. Although it is frequently referred to as the A40 Farina, it was only ever badged as the A40. It was only ever sold with Austin badging. At a time when Turin auto-design studios were, for the most part, consulted only by builders of expensive “exotic” cars, Austin made much of the car’s Italian styling, with both “Pinin” Farina and his son Sergio being present at the car’s UK launch. As would become apparent in later years, the car was something of a scaled-down version of the forthcoming Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, but without an extended boot. The A40 Farina was intended to replace the Austin A35, from which it inherited much of its running gear, and was a capacious thoroughly modern small car, with a brand new distinctive “two box” shape and generous headroom in the back seat. It was a saloon, the lower rear panel dropped like a then conventional bootlid, the rear window remaining fixed. The Countryman hatchback appeared exactly a year later in October 1959, and differed from the saloon in that the rear window was marginally smaller, to allow for a frame that could be lifted up, with its own support, while the lower panel was now flush with the floor and its hinges had been strengthened It was effectively a very small estate car with a horizontally split tailgate having a top-hinged upper door and bottom-hinged lower door. October 1959 also saw the standardisation on both cars of self-cancelling indicators and the provision of a centre interior light and, in early summer 1960, a flat lid was added over the spare wheel in the rear luggage compartment. At launch the car shared the 948 cc A-Series straight-4 used in other Austins including its A35 predecessor. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The drum brakes were a hybrid (hydromech) arrangement, hydraulically operated at the front but cable actuated at the rear. The front drums at 8 in were slightly larger than the 7 in rears. Cam and peg steering was fitted. Individual seats were fitted in the front, with a bench at the rear that could fold down to increase luggage capacity. The trim material was a vinyl treated fabric. Options included a heater, radio, windscreen washers and white-wall tyres. The gearchange lever was floor-mounted with the handbrake between the seats. The door windows were not opened by conventional winders, but pulled up and down using finger grips; a window lock position was on the door handle. A Series 2 version of the car appeared in 1962. Remaining in production until 1967, the A40 Farina came with a price-tag of just under £700 on the road. With a 3.5” longer wheelbase than the Mark I to increase the space for rear seat passengers, the Mark II boasted more power than its predecessor, resulting in an acceleration of 0-50mph in 17.4 seconds. Although the Mark II had more power than its predecessor, the 948cc engine was upgraded later in 1962, to a 48 horsepower 1098cc version – an engine it shared with the Morris Minor. The brakes also evolved into a fully hydraulic system, replacing the semi cable-operated rear system. Despite these changes and innovations, sales of the Mark II slowed in the following years due to the popularity of the Morris 1100 and similar Austin-badged vehicles which left the A40 looking cramped on the inside, as well as being outclassed by the new vehicles’ handling. In fact, sales of the A40 Mark II were slower than those achieved by the Mark I, and the Farina became the final model in Austin’s A40 line. First rolling off the production line in 1961, the museum’s 1962 example of the Mark II model has been donated by an owner from Lindale, with around 50 working hours spent on putting the vehicle in position during the lockdown period. This example has only had two owners from when it was brand new in 1962 – the second of which bought it in 1963, so it’s in remarkable condition.
1962 Humber Hawk Estate: A new Hawk was announced in May 1957, which had a completely new body with unitary construction which it would go on to share with the 1958 Humber Super Snipe. The new model was, like its predecessors, a large car. For the first time an estate variant was available from the factory – the Hawk estate had the largest unitary bodyshell of any British-built car up to that point, a status it retained until the Jaguar Mark X was launched in 1961. The 2267 cc engine was carried over, though with modifications to the distributor mounting, and other details; and an automatic transmission, the Borg Warner D.G. model, was now available. The body was styled in Rootes’ own studios and featured more glass than previous models, with wrap-around front windscreen, which gave it a considerable resemblance to a base model 1955 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. The missing rear quarter-lights were returned in Series IV. The estate version featured a horizontally split tailgate—the lower half opening downwards (to provide an extra length of luggage-platform if necessary) and the upper half upwards. The fuel-filler cap was concealed behind the offside rear reflector. There were several revisions during the car’s life, each resulting in a new Series number. When production ended in 1967, with no replacement, the market for large estate cars was effectively handed over to Volvo, who for many years had virtually no rivals (Citroen and Triumph may choose to disagree, of course!). This 45,000 mile from new Humber Hawk Estate has been given to the Lakeland Motor Museum by a donor whose father purchased the car in 1965 and ran it until 1981 before putting it into storage in North Yorkshire. Its former owner protected the exterior of the car with blankets, sealed the storage garage and even heated it from beneath throughout the winter months over a 37-year period to help protect it. Such care means everything from its engine, bodywork, interior and even finer details such as a “Don’t follow me, I’m lost” decal in the rear window have been preserved in near pristine condition. It is thought that the owner primarily used this vehicle to tow their caravan for family holidays. It has various additions that we’ve kept, such as, Club badges, fog and spot lights and a tow bar. They add to the character of the car and form part of its story, so we didn’t want to take any of that history away. It is also thought that it was also used to transport goods as part of the owner’s hardware business, despite that, its interior is virtually as good as new.
1962 Triumph Vitesse: Three years after the launch of the Herald, Triumph created a more sporting version by putting a 1600cc 6 cylinder engine under the bonnet, calling the result the Vitesse. Handling of the early cars, on their swing axle suspension was best described as “interesting”, but Triumph worked hard to revise (tame!) it so by the time that the 2 litre models were launched in 1965, the car was rather easier to drive briskly on bendy roads. A Mark 2 version was launched in 1968, with new front end styling and other trim differences, and the model lived on until 1971. To be seen here was an early 1600 Saloon.
1962 Ford Consul Capri: The Consul Capri was a two-door coupé version of the Classic saloon. The Capri Project was code named “Sunbird” and took design elements from the Ford Thunderbird and the Ford Galaxie Sunliner. It was instigated by Sir Horace Denne, Ford’s Sales Export Director. He wanted a “co-respondent’s” car to add glamour to the product line. It was designed by Charles Thompson who worked under Colin Neale and had sweeping lines, a large boot space and a pillarless coupé roof. On its September 1961 announcement, the Consul Capri was available for export only, but went on sale to the domestic British market in January 1962. The bodies were sub-assembled by Pressed Steel Company, with only final assembly of the drivetrain taking place at Dagenham and from February 1963 at Halewood. It was intended as part of the Ford Classic range of cars but the body was complex and expensive to produce. With new production methods, time demands from Dearborn and a need to match opposition manufacturers in price, the Ford Classic and Consul Capri were almost doomed from the start. The Consul Capri was fitted with a variety of Ford Classic De-Luxe features, including four headlights, variable speed wipers, 9.5 in (241 mm) front disc brakes, dimming dashboard lights and a cigar lighter. The four-speed transmission was available with either a column or floor change. It was proclaimed as “The First Personal car from Ford of Great Britain”. Initially fitted with a 1340 cc three-main-bearing engine (model 109E), the early cars were considered underpowered and suffered from premature crankshaft failure. Engine capacity was increased in August 1962 to 1498 cc (model 116E) and this engine with its new five-bearing crankshaft was an improvement. The first 200 Capris were left-hand-drive cars for export including Europe and North America. In Germany, at the 1961 Frankfurt Auto show, Ford sold 88 Capris. In February 1963 a GT version (also 116E) was announced. The new GT engine, developed by Cosworth, featured a raised compression ratio to 9:1, a modified head with larger exhaust valves, an aluminium inlet manifold, a four branch exhaust manifold and, most noticeably, a twin-choke Weber carburettor – this being the first use of this make on a British production car. The same engine was announced for use in the Ford Cortina in April 1963. The Consul Capri was the first Ford to use “GT” as a model derivative worldwide. Overall the car was very expensive to produce and in the latter part of its production was running alongside the very popular Ford Cortina. Sales were disappointing and the Consul Capri was removed from sale after two and a half years with 19,421 sold, of which 2002 were GT models. 1007 cars were sold in 1964, the last year of production, 412 of them being GTs. The Consul Capri was discontinued in July 1964. The Consul Capri (335) is one of the rarest cars from Ford of Great Britain.
1963 Singer Vogue: The first generation Singer Vogue I/II/III/IV models of 1961 to 1966, were badge engineered versions of the Hillman Super Minx. Introduced in July 1961, it was positioned above the Super Minx and Singer Gazelle in the Rootes Group range, and had quadruple headlights as well as a more powerful 66 bhp version of the 1,592 cc Minx engine. The Series II version for 1963 had front disc brakes as standard, changes to the interior, removal of the chrome bonnet strip and a change to amber front indicator lenses. The Series III of 1964 gained six light bodywork and an increase in power to 84 bhp. The final version of this generation, the Series IV was introduced at the 1965 motor show and saw the engine size increased to 1,725 cc although there was no change in power output. The first generation Vogue was offered as a four door saloon and as an estate car.
1965 Peel Trident: The Peel Trident is the second three-wheeled microcar made by the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. An all-new design from its one-seat counterpart the Peel P50, the Trident has two seats. The Trident was launched at the 1964 British Motorcycle Show held at Earls Court. The seat, stated as being [31 in (79 cm)] wide, was intended to provide for use as an occasional two-seater. A completely new design from the earlier side-engined Peel P50 microcar, the Trident was manufactured in 1965 and 1966. In 2011, Peel Engineering Ltd. started re-manufacturing the Peel Trident once again in Sutton-in-Ashfield, near Nottingham, England. All vehicles are hand-built to order in petrol and electric form. The glass-fibre shell was a monocoque with coil-sprung, undamped wheels. It featured a clear bubble top and either two seats or one seat with a detachable shopping basket. The Lakeland Motor Museum observes that the Trident’s bubble top constituted grounds for its sobriquet “The Terrestrial Flying Saucer.” Like its predecessor, it was marketed as a “shopping car” or a “Saloon Scooter”. The car is 73 in (185 cm) long and 39 in (99 cm) wide, with a weight of 330 lb (150 kg). Like the P50, it uses a 49 cc DKW engine which generates 4.2 hp, and a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h). It was advertised that the Trident got 100 mpg , “almost cheaper than walking”. The original retail price was £190. All engines supplied to Peel from Zweirad Union (for both the P50 and Trident) were of the 49 cc 3-speed 4.2 hp 804–1600 type. Uniquely, however, the Peel engines had the 8th digit as a 4, thus being of the form 80416004***. This car is one of the smallest in the world. The vehicle is included in Time magazine’s list of the 50 Worst Cars Ever.
1965 Amphicar 770: The Amphicar Model 770 is an amphibious automobile, the first such vehicle mass-produced for sale to the public, starting in 1961. The German vehicle was designed by Hans Trippel and manufactured by the Quandt Group at Lübeck and at Berlin-Borsigwalde, and used Triumph Herald components under its glassfibre body. The name is a portmanteau of “amphibious” and “car”, and it truly could be drive on the road, and then by pulling a lever, converted into a boat. Compared to most boats or cars, its performance was modest, and it was expensive, so it is no surprised that only 4000 were produced by 1965. Most of them were sold in the USA, and most of them have rusted away as once they got wet, well, you can imagine what that did to the metalwork. Nevertheless, it is still among the most successful amphibious civilian autos of all time, and still often prized and preserved as a novelty collectible automobile.
1968 Triumph TR5: Replacement for the TR4 was – predictably – the Triumph TR5, which was built for a 13-month period between August 1967 and September 1968. Visually identical to the Michelotti styled TR4,the TR5 hid the main differences under the body. The most significant change from the TR4 was the 2.5-litre straight-6 fuel-injected engine, developing around 145 hp, and which was carried forward to the TR6. At the time, fuel injection (or PI petrol injection, as it was sometimes then called) was uncommon in road cars. Triumph claimed in their sales brochure that it was the “First British production sports car with petrol injection”. Sadly, it was also somewhat troublesome, with mechanical issues a common occurrence. A carburetted version of the TR5 named Triumph TR250 was manufactured during the same period, to be sold in place of the fuel injected car on the North American market. A few of these have now been brought over to the UK and indeed there were both TR250 and TR5 cars here. The Triumph TR250, built during the same period for the North American market, was nearly identical to the TR5. But, because of price pressures and emission regulations the TR250 was fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors rather than the Lucas fuel injection system. The reasons for this difference came down to price pressures of the American market, and tighter emissions regulations. The TR250’s straight-six engine delivered 111 bhp, 39 bhp less than the TR5; 0–60 mph acceleration took 10.6 seconds. Standard equipment on both models included front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a four speed gearbox. Optional extras included overdrive and wire wheels. Both the TR5 and the TR250 were available with the “Surrey Top” hard top system: a weather protection system with rigid rear section including the rear window and removable fabric section over the driver and passenger’s heads.
1971 Trabant P601: The Trabant was the result of a planning process which had intended to design a three-wheeled motorcycle. In German, a trabant is an astronomical term for a moon (or other natural satellite) of a celestial body. The first of the Trabants left the VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau factory in Saxony on 7 November 1957. It was a relatively advanced car when it was formally introduced the following year, with front wheel drive, unitary construction and independent suspension. The Trabant’s greatest shortcoming was its engine. By the late 1950s many small Western cars (such as the Renault) had cleaner, more-efficient four-stroke engines, but budgetary constraints and raw-materials shortages mandated an outdated (but inexpensive) two-stroke engine in the Trabant. It was technically equivalent to the West German Lloyd automobile, a similarly sized car with an air-cooled, two-cylinder four-stroke engine. The Trabant had a front, transversely-mounted engine and front-wheel drive in an era when many European cars were using rear-mounted engines or front-mounted engines with rear-wheel drive. Its greatest drawback was its largely unchanged production; the car’s two-stroke engine made it obsolete by the 1970s, limiting exports to Western Europe. The Trabant’s air-cooled, 500 cc engine—upgraded to 600cc in 1962–63—was derived from a pre-war DKW design with minor alterations during its production run. The first Saab car had a larger (764cc), water-cooled, two-cylinder two-stroke engine. Wartburg, an East German manufacturer of larger sedans, also used a water-cooled, three-cylinder, 1,000 cc two-stroke DKW engine. The original Trabant, introduced in 1958, was the P50. Trabant’s base model, it shared a large number of interchangeable parts with the latest 1.1s. The 500 cc, 18 hp P50 evolved into a 20 hp version with a fully synchronized gearbox in 1960, and received a 23 hp, 600 cc engine in 1962 as the P60. The updated P601 was introduced in 1964. It was essentially a facelift of the P60, with a different front fascia, bonnet, roof and rear and the original P50 underpinnings. The model remained nearly unchanged until the end of its production except for the addition of 12V electricity, rear coil springs and an updated dashboard for later models. The Trabant’s designers expected production to extend until 1967 at the latest, and East German designers and engineers created a series of more-sophisticated prototypes intended to replace the P601; several are on display at the Dresden Transport Museum. Each proposal for a new model was rejected by the East German government due to shortages of the raw materials required in larger quantities for the more-advanced designs. As a result, the Trabant remained largely unchanged for more than a quarter-century. Also unchanged was its production method, which was extremely labour-intensive. The Trabant 1100 (also known as the P1100) was a 601 with a better-performing 1.05-liter, 45HP VW Polo engine. With a more-modern look (including a floor-mounted gearshift), it was quieter and cleaner than its predecessor. The 1100 had front disc brakes, and its wheel assembly was borrowed from Volkswagen. It was produced between from 1989 to 1991, in parallel with the two-stroke P601. Except for the engine and transmission, many parts from older P50s, P60s and 601s were compatible with the 1100. In mid-1989, thousands of East Germans began loading their Trabants with as much as they could carry and drove to Hungary or Czechoslovakia en route to West Germany on the “Trabi Trail”. Many had to get special permission to drive their Trabants into West Germany, since the cars did not meet West German emissions standards and polluted the air at four times the European average. A licensed version of the Volkswagen Polo engine replaced the Trabant’s two-stroke engine in 1989, the result of a trade agreement between East and West Germany. The model, the Trabant 1.1, also had minor improvements to its brake and signal lights, a renovated grille, and MacPherson struts instead of a leaf-spring-suspended chassis. When the 1.1 began production in May 1990, the two German states had already agreed to reunification. By April 1991 3.7 million vehicles had been produced. However, it soon became apparent that there was no place for the Trabant in a reunified German economy; its inefficient, labour-intensive production line survived on government subsidies. The Trabant ceased production in 1991, and the Zwickau factory in Mosel (where the Trabant 1.1 was manufactured) was sold to Volkswagen AG.
1971 Ford Escort Mexico: The Mark I Ford Escort was introduced in the UK at the end of 1967, making its show debut at Brussels Motor Show in January 1968, replacing the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford’s European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC’s Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford’s own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car’s UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe’s largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired “Coke bottle” waistline and the “dogbone” shaped front grille – arguably the car’s main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the “De Luxe” model). The “Super” model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon. A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine in 1.1 and 1.3 litre versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburettor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an “executive” version of the Escort was produced known as the “1300E”. This featured the same 13″ road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying. It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort’s greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc “crossflow”-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I’s were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for “Belt Drive A Series”. Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 litre Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant.
1973 Triumph Spitfire: The TR’s smaller and cheaper brother was the Spitfire and there was an example of the long-lived Mark IV here. Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.
1973 Volvo 145GL: This is a 145, one of a series of cars made between 1966 and 1974. Volvo Cars began manufacturing the Volvo 144 at Torslandaverken in the late summer of 1966[, the first Volvo to use a tri-digit nomenclature, indicating series, number of cylinders and number of doors. Thus, a “144” was a 1st series, 4-cylinder, 4-door sedan. The 144 was the first Volvo to feature a more rectilinear or boxy styling. Compared to the Volvo Amazon, the 140 was a radical departure with minimal exterior and interior carryover, notably a stylised version of the front split grille. The car’s basic shape would survive into the 1990s as the 200 series. Mechanically, the car used many of the same drivetrain components as the Amazon, but also showcased many improvements, including disc brakes on all four wheels. It was named car of the year in 1966 by Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld. The engine in the standard 144 was the same as found in the standard Amazon (121), the 1.8l B18A, but the 144S was given the more powerful B18B from the 123GT and 1800S. Late in the 1967 model year production of the Volvo 142 (2-door sedan) began, in time to build 1500 units for the first year. In 1968 production of the Volvo 145 5-door station wagon began, completing the three body styles used in the 140 range. For the 1969 model year Volvo enlarged the B18 to become the 2.0 litre B20 and replaced the generator with a more modern alternator. It was also in 1969 that Volvo introduced the 164, which shared much of the 140 series structure and styling aft of the windshield while incorporating a 6-cylinder engine, the B30 which was simply a B20 with 2 more cylinders and a few strengthened and enlarged components. In 1970 a flow-through ventilation system, where vents were added towards the rear of the car (on the exterior under the rear window on the 142 and 144 and as a grille next to the right side taillight of the 145) and electrically defrosted rear windows, were introduced. The split rear side window on the 145 became one piece which was no longer possible to open. In 1971 the first of several styling changes were introduced, including a revised black grille which saw the now ubiquitous Volvo diagonal line introduced as well as new wheels. 1971 also saw the introduction of the B20E, which was a high compression version of the B20 which introduced Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection. These new cars were either given the designation E (the German word Einspritzer, or “injection”) or GL (for Grand Luxe), which was a more upmarket version of the car. A console on the transmission tunnel with a clock was now standard. The styling changes continued in 1972 with the introduction of flush mounted door handles and a slightly revised dashboard with fake woodgrain trim, newly designed switches and a small central panel with a clock. The transmission tunnel was taken from the 164 as was the same short-shifter gear stick and the automatic transmission became controlled by a T-bar mounted on the floor at the same place. The outer 2 rear seats now had the mounting points for retractable seatbelts. A low compression fuel injected engine, the B20F was introduced for the US and certain other markets. In 1973 the 140 series received a major facelift, with a new plastic grille, new larger indicators and a completely revised tail end. Also, the S designation was dropped and the range consisted of 3 trim levels, standard (with no designation, known as L, or “luxe”) de Luxe and the most upmarket, Grand Luxe. The interior also had a completely revised dashboard with a new instrument cluster consisting of dials rather than the strip speedometer previously used, rocker switches replacing the push-pull switches (with the exception of the headlight switch), and vents to direct air towards the person augmenting the defrost and floor vents. In 1974, the B20E/F engine switched from using the Bosch D-Jetronic to the K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection system. Also, several safety changes were introduced including a fuel tank that was located close to the axle to protect it in the case of a rear-end collision, and larger bumpers that protruded more from the body. The quarter-light windows in the front doors were removed as a result of the improvements in ventilation inside the car, and small anodised aluminium strips were added to the bottom of the side windows. Total Production was 412,986 2-doors sedans, 523,808 4-doors sedans and 268,317 estates. This vehicle was donated by the same person who also gifted a Humber Hawk estate to the museum a few months earlier, which has proved to be a massive hit with visitors. The Volvo, along with the Humber, were kept in immaculate condition, locked away in storage in North Yorkshire for 30 years.
1974 Citroen DS20: It is hard to imagine just how revolutionary this car must have seemed when it was unveiled at the Paris Show in 1955. 18 years in secret development as the successor to the Traction Avant, the DS 19 stole the show, and within 15 minutes of opening, 743 orders were taken. By the end of the first day, that number had risen to 12,000. Contemporary journalists said the DS pushed the envelope in the ride vs. handling compromise possible in a motor vehicle. To a France still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of World War II, and also building its identity in the post-colonial world, the DS was a symbol of French ingenuity. It also posited the nation’s relevance in the Space Age, during the global race for technology of the Cold War. Structuralist philosopher Roland Barthes, in an essay about the car, said that it looked as if it had “fallen from the sky”. An American advertisement summarised this selling point: “It takes a special person to drive a special car”. Because they were owned by the technologically aggressive tyre manufacturer Michelin, Citroën had designed their cars around the technically superior radial tyre since 1948, and the DS was no exception. The car featured a novel hydropneumatic suspension including an automatic levelling system and variable ground clearance, developed in-house by Paul Magès. This suspension allowed the DS to travel quickly on the poor road surfaces common in France. In addition, the vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission (the transmission required no clutch pedal, but gears still had to be shifted by hand though the shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism in place of a mechanical linkage, and a fibreglass roof which lowered the centre of gravity and so reduced weight transfer. Inboard front brakes (as well as independent suspension) reduced unsprung weight. Different front and rear track widths and tyre sizes reduced the unequal tyre loading, which is well known to promote understeer, typical of front-engined and front-wheel drive cars. As with all French cars, the DS design was affected by the tax horsepower system, which effectively mandated very small engines. Unlike the Traction Avant predecessor, there was no top-of-range model with a powerful six-cylinder engine. Citroën had planned an air-cooled flat-6 engine for the car, but did not have the funds to put the prototype engine into production. The 1955 DS19 was 65% more expensive than the car it replaced, the Citroën Traction Avant. This did impact potential sales in a country still recovering economically from World War II, so a cheaper submodel, the Citroën ID, was introduced in 1957. The ID shared the DS’s body but was less powerful and luxurious. Although it shared the engine capacity of the DS engine (at this stage 1,911 cc), the ID provided a maximum power output of only 69 hp compared to the 75 hp claimed for the DS19. Power outputs were further differentiated in 1961 when the DS19 acquired a Weber-32 twin bodied carburettor, and the increasing availability of higher octane fuel enabled the manufacturer to increase the compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8.5:1. A new DS19 now came with a promised 83 hp of power. The ID19 was also more traditional mechanically: it had no power steering and had conventional transmission and clutch instead of the DS’s hydraulically controlled set-up. Initially the basic ID19 was sold on the French market with a price saving of more than 25% against the DS, although the differential was reduced at the end of 1961 when the manufacturer quietly withdrew the entry level ID19 “Normale” from sale. An estate version was introduced in 1958. It was known by various names in different markets: Break in France, Safari and Estate in the UK, Wagon in the US, and Citroën Australia used the terms Safari and Station-Wagon. It had a steel roof to support the standard roof rack. ‘Familiales’ had a rear seat mounted further back in the cabin, with three folding seats between the front and rear squabs. The standard Break had two side-facing seats in the main load area at the back. During the 20 year production life, improvements were made on an ongoing basis. In September 1962, the DS was restyled with a more aerodynamically efficient nose, better ventilation and other improvements. It retained the open two headlamp appearance, but was available with an optional set of driving lights mounted on the front bumpers. A more luxurious Pallas trim came in for 1965 Named after the Greek goddess Pallas, this included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery and external trim embellishments. The cars were complex, and not always totally reliable, One of the issues that emerged during long term use was addressed with a change which came in for 1967. The original hydropneumatic system used a vegetable oil liquide hydraulique végétal (LHV), similar to that used in other cars at the time, but later switched to a synthetic fluid liquide hydraulique synthétique (LHS). Both of these had the disadvantage that they are hygroscopic, as is the case with most brake fluids. Disuse allows water to enter the hydraulic components causing deterioration and expensive maintenance work. The difficulty with hygroscopic hydraulic fluid was exacerbated in the DS/ID due to the extreme rise and fall in the fluid level in the reservoir, which went from nearly full to nearly empty when the suspension extended to maximum height and the six accumulators in the system filled with fluid. With every “inhalation” of fresh moisture- (and dust-) laden air, the fluid absorbed more water. For the 1967 model year, Citroën introduced a new mineral oil-based fluid liquide hydraulique minéral (LHM). This fluid was much less harsh on the system. LHM remained in use within Citroën until the Xantia was discontinued in 2001. LHM required completely different materials for the seals. Using either fluid in the incorrect system would completely destroy the hydraulic seals very quickly. To help avoid this problem, Citroën added a bright green dye to the LHM fluid and also painted all hydraulic elements bright green. The former LHS parts were painted black. All models, including the Safari and ID, were upgraded at the same time. The hydraulic fluid changed to the technically superior LHM (Liquide Hydraulique Minéral) in all markets except the US and Canada, where the change did not take place until January 1969, due to local regulations. Rarest and most collectable of all DS variants, a convertible was offered from 1958 until 1973. The Cabriolet d’Usine (factory convertible) were built by French carrossier Henri Chapron, for the Citroën dealer network. It was an expensive car, so only 1,365 were sold. These DS convertibles used a special frame which was reinforced on the sidemembers and rear suspension swingarm bearing box, similar to, but not identical to the Break/Safari frame.
1978 Mini Clubman: In 1969, now under the ownership of British Leyland, the Mini was given a facelift by stylist Roy Haynes, who had previously worked for Ford. The restyled version was called the Mini Clubman, and had a squarer frontal look, using the same indicator/sidelight assembly as the Austin Maxi. The Mini Clubman was intended to replace the upmarket Riley and Wolseley versions, and a new model, dubbed the 1275 GT, was slated as the replacement for the 998 cc Mini Cooper, the 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S continuing alongside the 1275 GT years until 1971. The Clubman Estate replaced the Countryman and Traveller. The original “round-front” design remained in production alongside the Clubman and 1275 GT. Production of the Clubman and 1275 GT got off to a slow start because the cars incorporated “lots of production changes” including the relocation of tooling from the manufacturer’s Cowley plant to the Longbridge plant: very few cars were handed over to customers before the early months of 1970. Early domestic market Clubmans were still delivered on cross-ply tyres despite the fact that by 1970 radials had become the norm for the car’s mainstream competitors. By 1973 new Minis were, by default, being shipped with radial tyres, though cross-plies could be specified by special order, giving British buyers a price saving of £8. The most significant update after this came in 1976, when the engine was upgraded to the 110cc A Series unit, cloth seat trim was made standard and the wiper functions were moved to a column stalk. The Clubman models were deleted in 1980, effectively replaced by the Metro, and they are relatively rare these days.
1979 Ford Fiesta GL: Originally developed under the project name “Bobcat” (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, the Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was at the time the smallest car ever made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford’s Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford’s engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed but it was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford’s new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was eventually launched as the Austin Metro in 1980. The Fiesta was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc with high compression and low compression options, and 1,117 cc engines in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. A sporting derivative, the 1.3 Supersport was offered for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 litre Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 litre version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones, with the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. Rust claimed almost all the original Fiestas, so they are a rare sight today.
1982 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL: This is a Cortina 80, sometimes known as the Mark V. It was announced on 24 August 1979. Officially the programme was code named Teresa, although externally it was marketed as “Cortina 80”, but the Mark V tag was given to it immediately on release by the press, insiders and the general public. Largely an update to the Mark IV, it was really a step between a facelift and a rebody. The Mark V differentiated itself from the Mark IV by having revised headlights with larger turn indicators incorporated (which were now visible on the side too), a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer C-pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights (on saloon models) and upgraded trim. Improvements were also made to the engine range, with slight improvements to both fuel economy and power output compared to the Mark IV. The 2.3 litre V6 engine was given electronic ignition and a slight boost in power output to 116 bhp, compared to the 108 bhp of the Mark IV. Ford also claimed improved corrosion protection on Mark V models; as a result, more Mark Vs have survived; however, corrosion was still quite a problem. The estate models combined the Mark IV’s bodyshell (which was initially from the 1970 Ford Taunus) with Mark V front body pressings. A pick-up (“bakkie”) version was also built in South Africa. These later received a longer bed and were then marketed as the P100. Variants included the Base, L, GL, and Ghia (all available in saloon and estate forms), together with Base and L spec 2-door sedan versions (this bodystyle was available up to Ghia V6 level on overseas markets). The replacement for the previous Mark IV S models was an S pack of optional extras which was available as an upgrade on most Mark V models from L trim level upwards. For the final model year of 1982 this consisted of front and rear bumper overriders, sports driving lamps, an S badge on the boot, tachometer, 4 spoke steering wheel, revised suspension settings, front gas shock absorbers,’Sports’ gear lever knob, sports road wheels, 185/70 SR x 13 tyres and Fishnet Recaro sports seats (optional). Various “special editions” were announced, including the Calypso and Carousel. The final production model was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre, and 2.0 litre saloons or 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre estates. The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982, along with the newly introduced Sierra. It was the best-specified Cortina produced to date and 30,000 were sold, which also made it Ford’s best-selling special edition model. Another special edition model was the Cortina Huntsman, of which 150 were produced. By this time, the Cortina was starting to feel the competition from a rejuvenated Vauxhall, which with the 1981 release Cavalier J-Car, was starting to make inroads on the Cortina’s traditional fleet market, largely helped by the front wheel drive benefits of weight. Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the best selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain’s second best selling car and most popular large family car. On the continent, the Taunus version was competing with more modern and practical designs like the Talbot Alpine, Volkswagen Passat, and Opel Ascona. The very last Cortina – a silver Crusader – rolled off the Dagenham production line on 22 July 1982 on the launch of the Sierra, though there were still a few leaving the forecourt as late as 1987, with one final unregistered Cortina GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005. The last Cortina built remains in the Ford Heritage Centre in Dagenham, Essex, not far from the factory where it was assembled.
1982 Ford Capri 2.8i Special: Referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.
1981 Delorean DMC12: It is now 40 years since this striking Northern Ireland built car entered production, but it still pulls the crowds, thanks in no small part, I am sure, to the gullwing doors, and its starring role in “Back to the Future”. The DeLorean story goes back to October 1976, when the first prototype was completed by American automotive chief engineer William T. Collins, formerly chief engineer at Pontiac. Originally, the car was intended to have a centrally-mounted Wankel rotary engine. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended, and the favoured engine became Ford’s “Cologne V6.” Eventually the French/Swedish PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) fuel injected V6 was selected. Also the engine location moved from the mid-engined location in the prototype to a rear-engined installation in the production car. The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as elastic reservoir moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable. These and other changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The entire car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus Cars. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus, like the steel backbone chassis. DeLorean required $175 million to develop and build the motor company. Convincing Hollywood celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis, Jr. to invest in the firm, DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighbourhood a few miles from Belfast city centre. Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981. By that time, the unemployment rate was high in Northern Ireland and local residents lined up to apply for jobs at the factory. The workers were largely inexperienced, but were paid premium wages and supplied with the best equipment available. Most quality issues were solved by 1982 and the cars were sold from dealers with a one-year, 12,000-mile warranty and an available five-year, 50,000-mile service contract. The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean’s arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production. Approximately 100 partially assembled DMCs on the production line were completed by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots). The remaining parts from the factory stock, the parts from the US Warranty Parts Centre, as well as parts from the original suppliers that had not yet been delivered to the factory were all shipped to Columbus, Ohio in 1983–1984. A company called KAPAC sold these parts to retail and wholesale customers via mail order. In 1997, DeLorean Motor Company of Texas acquired this inventory. There had also been a long-standing rumour that the body stamping dies were dumped into the ocean to prevent later manufacture. Evidence later emerged that the dies were used as anchors for nets at a fish farm in Ards Bay, Connemara, Ireland. About 9,200 DMC-12s were produced between January 1981 and December 1982. Almost a fifth of these were produced in October 1981. About a thousand 1982 models were produced between February and May 1982, and all of these cars had the VINs changed after purchase by Consolidated to make them appear as 1983 models. The survival rate of the cars is good.
1986 Rover 820: Another joint development with Honda, the XX project emerged as the Rover 800 in July 1986. Replacing the much loved, but now 10 year old Rover SD1 design, this was a joint development effort with Honda. Not that you would know it by looking at the cars, as the Honda Legend looked completely different from the Rover. The 2.5 litre engines were shared, but Rover also installed their new M Series 2 litre unit under the bonnet, which in multi-point fuel injected guise in the Si and SLi models had a good 20 bhp more power than all its rivals, making this a rapid and refined executive car. Shame is that the early production concentrated on the V6 models, which were seen as a retrograde step compared to the sonorous V8 of their predecessor, and also somewhat lacking in torque (an upgrade to 2.7 litres in February 1988 addressed the latter issue to some extent). A conventional four door saloon on launch, a five door hatchback was added to the range a couple of years later, as well as a cheaper version with the O Series engine under the bonnet aimed at the fleet market. Towards the end of production of the XX car, before it was replaced by the R17 facelift in late 1991, here was also a brief run of just over 500 820 Turbo 16v cars which used a turbocharged version of the M-Series developed with help from Tickford, leading to this model often being referred to as the “Tickford Turbo”. Utilising such enhancements as sodium-filled exhaust valves and Mahle forged pistons the car produced 180 bhp, although there is much speculation about this figure being severely held back by the electronics as not to step on the toes of the more costly 177 bhp V6-engined 827 and Sterling models as well as to preserve the reliability of the gearbox. In reality the engine was capable of 250+hp while still preserving the reliability and driveability.
1986 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth: The Sierra RS Cosworth model. a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, was built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992, the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner, then recently appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, who had realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler and the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models.
1990 Citroen 2CV Dolly: There is a long history to this car, but it was only really with the relaunch of the model to the UK market in 1974 when interest here took off. Sales of the 2CV were reinvigorated by the 1974 oil crisis. The 2CV after this time became as much a youth lifestyle statement as a basic functional form of transport. This renewed popularity was encouraged by the Citroën “Raid” intercontinental endurance rallies of the 1970s where customers could participate by buying a new 2CV, fitted with a “P.O.” kit (Pays d’Outre-mer—overseas countries), to cope with thousands of miles of very poor or off-road routes. Because of new emission standards, in 1975 power was reduced from 28 hp to 25 hp. The round headlights were replaced by square ones, adjustable in height. A new plastic grille was fitted. In July 1975, a base model called the 2CV Spécial was introduced with the 435 cc engine. Between 1975 and 1990 under the name of AZKB “2CV Spécial” a drastically reduced trim basic version was sold, at first only in yellow and with an untreated black roof. Slimmer bumpers with stick-on tape rather than plastic strips and no overriders were fitted. It also had the earlier round headlights, last fitted in 1974. In order to keep the price as low as possible, Citroën removed the third side window, the ashtray, and virtually all trim from the car, while that which remained was greatly simplified, such as simple vinyl-clad door cards and exposed door catches rather than the plastic moulded trims found on the 2CV Club. Other 2CVs shared their instruments with the Dyane and H-Van but the Spécial had a much smaller square speedometer also incorporating the fuel gauge, originally fitted to the 2CV in the mid-1960s and then discontinued. The model also had a revised (and cheaper-to-make) plastic version of the 1960s two-spoke steering wheel instead of the one-spoke item from the Dyane, as found on the Club. From the 1978 Paris Motor Show the Spécial regained third side windows, and was available in red and white; beginning in mid-1979 the 602 cc engine was installed. In June 1981 the Spécial E arrived; this model had a standard centrifugal clutch and particularly low urban fuel consumption. By 1980 the boost to 2CV sales across Europe delivered by the 1973 Energy Crisis had begun to wear off and there was a whole new generation of superminis and economy cars available from European and Japanese manufacturers. Citroën itself now had the Visa available. Peak annual production for 2CVs was reached in 1974 (163,143 cars) but by 1980 this had dropped to 89,994 and by 1983 would stand at just 59,673. Nonetheless the car remained profitable for PSA to produce on account of its tooling and set-up costs being amortised many years before and it could share major parts with more popular or profitable models such as the Visa and Acadiane. As part of this rationalisation in 1981 the Spécial was fitted as standard with the 602 cc engine, although the 435 cc version remained available to special order in some European countries until stocks were used up. Also in 1981 a yellow 2CV6 was driven by James Bond (Roger Moore) in the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only. The car in the film was fitted with the flat-4 engine from a Citroën GS which more than doubled the power. In one scene the ultra light 2CV tips over and is quickly righted by hand. Citroën launched a special edition 2CV “007” to coincide with the film; it was fitted with the standard engine and painted yellow with “007” on the front doors and fake bullet hole stickers. In 1982 all 2CV models got inboard front disc brakes, which also used LHM fluid instead of conventional brake fluid—the same as was found in the larger Citroën models with hydropneumatic suspension. In late 1986 Citroën introduced the Visa’s replacement, the AX. This was widely regarded as a superior car to the Visa and took many of the remaining 2CV sales in France following its introduction. From 1986 to 1987 2CV production fell by 20 per cent to just 43,255 cars. Of that total over 12,500 went to West Germany and 7212 went to the UK. France was now the third-largest market for 2CVs, taking 7045 cars that year. It was estimated that Citroën was now selling the 2CV at a loss in the French market, but that it was still profitable in other European countries. The peak of 2CV sales in the United Kingdom would be reached in 1986, thanks to the introduction of the popular Dolly special edition (see below)—7520 new 2CVs were registered in Britain that year. This year saw the discontinuation of the Club, which was by then the only 2CV model to retain the rectangular headlamps. This left the Spécial as the only regular 2CV model, alongside the more fashion-orientated Dolly, Charleston and the other special editions. In 1988, production ended in France after 40 years. The factory at Levallois-Perret had been the global centre for 2CV production since 1948 but was outdated, inefficient and widely criticised for its poor working conditions. The last French-built 2CV was made on February 25. In recognition of the event, the last 2CV built at Levallois was a basic Spécial in a non-standard grey colour—the same shade as worn by the very first 2CVs. Production of the 2CV would continue at the smaller-capacity but more modern Mangualde plant in Portugal. In 1989 the first European emission standards were introduced voluntarily by a number of European nations, ahead of the legal deadline of July 1992. This meant that the 2CV was withdrawn from sale in Austria, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands—the latter one of the car’s largest remaining markets. That year the three leading markets for the 2CV were West Germany (7866), France (5231) and the UK (3200). The last 2CV was built at Mangualde on 27 July 1990—it was a specially-prepared Charleston model. Only 42,365 2CVs were built in Portugal in the two years following the end of French production. Portuguese-built cars, especially those from when production was winding down, have a reputation in the UK for being much less well made and more prone to corrosion than those made in France. According to Citroën, the Portuguese plant was more up-to-date than the one in Levallois near Paris, and Portuguese 2CV manufacturing was to higher quality standards. As of October 2016, 3,025 remained in service in the UK.
1995 Vauxhall Corsa GLS 5 door: One of the most recent additions to the collection is this, a 1994 Vauxhall Corsa GLS – one of a massive number of models to have rolled-off the production line since the model’s launch back in 1993, which is now being displayed alongside the collection of rare vehicles – despite being one of the UK’s most commonly used cars of the last three decades. The museum is predicting it could become one of the museum’s rarest exhibits, given the model’s rapid decline in popularity in recent years. On announcing its arrival a little while back, Duty Manager Chris Williams says, “We’re playing a long game with this car. At the moment, you’d think you’d be far more likely to see one of these in a supermarket car park than in a museum, but numbers are dwindling very fast and this model is around five years away from becoming extinct. “Based on projections by the motoring industry, there will be hardly of this particular model left by 2025. So, with that in mind, we’re getting one now while they’re still relatively easy to find. While initial comments from visitors may-well be along the lines of ‘why have you got one of those in the museum?’, in a few short years, those comments will become ‘Wow, I remember passing my driving test in one of those!’ I actually feel a bit nostalgic about this car, as I had a 2000 version myself, same style, same engine. We’re all about unlocking memories, and in a few years, we think this particular car will certainly achieve that goal. Remember, every new car gets old!”
1992 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: another recent addition is this Corvette ZR1, one of only six of its kind known to be in the UK. The vehicle, which is only one of 15 to have come from the production line in the USA painted in metallic quasar blue in 1992, has been donated by an enthusiast from Wokingham near Reading. Donor, Stuart Wilson, says, “To the best of my knowledge, I’m one of only two owners of this car, after buying it second-hand in California back in 2002 and importing it to England two years later when I moved back here.” Powered by a unique Lotus engine, it was the first production engine anywhere in the world that had two sets of intake runners, allowing for half the cylinders to be switched off during normal running, allowing for better fuel economy. Stuart continues, “When I first brought it back to the UK it was initially serviced by an ex-member of the Lotus development team that help design, build, test and calibrate the LT5 engine. He considered the Lotus engine as one of his and his Lotus development team’s finest achievements. I believe Lotus did 10,000 of hours of endurance testing to show just how reliable that engine was. It had a key on the dash that allowed you to switch between normal power 200 bhp to High power 400 bhp.” The Lakeland Motor Museum’s Duty Manager, Chris Williams, says, “This car is in fantastic shape overall, considering it’s the best part of 30 years old. The ZR-1 has a complete fibreglass body, so it will never rust. In its 28 years of running, it’s only clocked-up 84,000 miles and we’re delighted to finally be able to show it off to our visitors, as it’s been locked away for the last 12 months while our team cleaned every square-inch to get it ready for display.”
2001 Colin McRae Ford Focus rally car
A number of diorama have been created, among them a couple of period garages which as well as containing lots of the tools and signage that you would have expected to see also contain cars. Among them was this 1930 Morris Cowley. Rolling off the production line at Morris’ car manufacturing site in Cowley, Oxfordshire in 1930 (now operated by BMW Mini), the Morris Cowley was owned by three different people before coming into the possession of the late Ivor Schraibman and his wife Jan in the 1980s. Originally supplied brand-new by the Burridges Motor Works in Chippenham, “Doris”, as the couple affectionately named the vehicle, is a two seater tourer complete with a dickie seat at the rear, which could be unfolded to allow the car to carry an extra two passengers. The car’s radiator also still displays the original quirky Morris badge: An emblem showing an Ox crossing a shallow river or ford, to represent the city of Oxford. Jan Schraibman, says, “Ivor and I had some great times in the old girl and he’d be thrilled to know the car is in good hand. He passed away in 2017 aged 86 and I know he’d be delighted to see his beloved car at the Lakeland Motor Museum, as we have always both loved the Lake District. ‘Doris’ was registered in 1930 – the year of Ivor’s birth, and we also used it as our wedding car, so of all the cars Ivor owned, this one was particularly special to us. Ivor even built a garage at our home, especially to keep Doris in!”
1936 Morris 10/4 Special Coupe: The Morris Ten, announced 1 September 1932, is a medium-sized car introduced for 1933 as the company’s offering in the important 10 hp sector of the British market. It continued through a series of variants until October 1948 when along with Morris’s Twelve and Fourteen it was replaced by the 13.5 hp Morris Oxford MO. The Morris Ten was a new class of car for Morris now equipped with wire wheels and a new type of mud guarding—domed wings with wing side shields—it was powered by a Morris 1292 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine employing a single SU carburettor which produced 24 bhp at 3,200 rpm. The gearbox was a four-speed manual transmission unit, and Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted. The October 1932 Olympia Motor Show introductory prices: chassis £127.10.0; coach-built saloon with sliding head £169.10.0; special coupé with sliding head £195.0.0. Body styles at launch in August 1932 were restricted to a saloon and two-door coupé, but a four-door tourer joined the range in December, followed in 1934 by a two-seater with dickey seat and a Traveller’s Saloon. A rationalisation of the Morris range took place in 1935 and the new Ten series II shared its body and chassis with the Morris Twelve series II. A three-speed manual gearbox was fitted at first, but a four-speed reappeared as an option from 1936 and standard from 1937. Steel disc Easiclene wheels replaced the wire ones at the end of 1936. Two tone paintwork is common. A Series III car was launched for 1938.
1931 MG M Type: This is the M Type Midget, a tiny sports car produced from April 1929 to 1932. It was sometimes referred to as the 8/33. Launched at the 1928 London Motor Show when the sales of the larger MG saloons was faltering because of the economic climate, the small car brought MG ownership to a new sector of the market and probably saved the company. Early cars were made in the Cowley factory, but from 1930 production had transferred to Abingdon. The M-Type was one of the first genuinely affordable sports cars to be offered by an established manufacturer, as opposed to modified versions of factory-built saloon cars and tourers. By offering a car with excellent road manners and an entertaining driving experience at a low price (the new MG cost less than double the cheapest version of the Morris Minor on which it was based) despite relatively low overall performance the M-type set the template for many of the MG products that were to follow, as well as many of the other famous British sports cars of the 20th century. The M-type was also the first MG to wear the Midget name that would be used on a succession of small sports cars until 1980. This 2-door sports car used an updated version of the four-cylinder bevel-gear driven overhead camshaft engine used in the 1928 Morris Minor and Wolseley 10 with a single SU carburettor giving 20 bhp at 4000 rpm. Drive was to the rear wheels through a three-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. The chassis was based on the one used in the 1928 Morris Minor with lowered suspension using half-elliptic springs and Hartford friction disk shock absorbers with rigid front and rear axles and bolt on wire wheels. The car had a wheelbase of 78 inches and a track of 42 inches. 1930 brought a series of improvements to the car. The Morris rod brake system, with the handbrake working on the transmission, was replaced a cable system with cross shaft coupled to the handbrake and the transmission brake deleted. Engine output was increased to 27 bhp by improving the camshaft and a four-speed gearbox was offered as an option. The doors became front-hinged. A supercharged version could be ordered from 1932, raising the top speed to 80 mph. Early bodies were fabric-covered using a wood frame; this changed to all-metal in 1931. Most cars had bodies made by Carbodies of Coventry and fitted by MG in either open two-seat or closed two-door “Sportsmans” coupé versions, but some chassis were supplied to external coachbuilders such as Jarvis. The factory even made a van version as a service vehicle. The car could reach 65 mph and return 40 miles per gallon. The open version cost £175 at launch, soon rising to £185, and the coupé cost £245. The 1932 supercharged car cost £250. The M-type had considerable sporting success, both privately and with official teams winning gold medals in the 1929 Land’s End Trial and class wins in the 1930 “Double Twelve” race at Brooklands. An entry was also made in the 1930 Le Mans 24 hour, but neither of the two cars finished. It was replaced by the J Type.
1935 Singer 9HP le Mans: This car was named in honour of the famous racing venue, after the previous model – known as a Bantam – did well at the 1933 Le Mans 24 hour race. This Special Speed version included sporty modifications such as twin SU carburettors and was a favourite with the really serious competitors tackling long distance trials. This particular car was part of a trio known as the ‘Ruddy Trials Team’ which won a series of competition medals during the 1935 racing season. Originally patriotically painted in red, white and blue, the vehicle has been recently restored with a gleaming red exterior.
1985 Sinclair C5: The Sinclair C5 is a one-person battery electric recumbent tricycle. It was the culmination of Sir Clive Sinclair’s long-running interest in electric vehicles. Although widely described as an “electric car”, Sinclair characterised it as a “vehicle, not a car”. Sinclair had become one of the UK’s best-known millionaires, and earned a knighthood, on the back of the highly successful Sinclair Research range of home computers in the early 1980s. He hoped to repeat his success in the electric vehicle market, which he saw as ripe for a new approach. The C5 emerged from an earlier project to produce a small electric car called the C1. After a change in the law, prompted by lobbying from bicycle manufacturers, Sinclair developed the C5 as an electrically powered tricycle with a polypropylene body and a chassis designed by Lotus Cars. It was intended to be the first in a series of increasingly ambitious electric vehicles, but the development of the follow-up C10 and C15 models never progressed further than the drawing board. On 10 January 1985, the C5 was unveiled at a glitzy launch event, but it received a less than enthusiastic reception from the British media. Its sales prospects were blighted by poor reviews and safety concerns expressed by consumer and motoring organisations. The vehicle’s limitations – a short range, a maximum speed of only 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) and a lack of weatherproofing – made it impractical for most people’s needs. It was marketed as an alternative to cars and bicycles, but ended up appealing to neither group of owners, and it was not available in shops until several months after its launch. Within three months of the launch, production had been slashed by 90%. Sales never picked up despite Sinclair’s optimistic forecasts and production ceased entirely by August 1985. Out of 14,000 C5s made, only 5,000 were sold before its manufacturer, Sinclair Vehicles, went into receivership. The C5 has been described as “one of the great marketing bombs of postwar British industry” and a “notorious … example of failure”. Despite its commercial failure, the C5 went on to become a cult item for collectors. Thousands of unsold C5s were purchased by investors and sold for hugely inflated prices, as much as £6,000 compared to the original retail value of £399. Enthusiasts have established owners’ clubs and some have modified their vehicles substantially, adding bigger wheels, jet engines, and high-powered electric motors to propel their C5s at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour (240 km/h).
Reminder of the area in which the museum is situated and its history came from a small display explaining the old Blue Dye Works process and where the raw materials came from.
And representing agriculture was this display, the centrepiece of which was a 1941 Fordson Model N Tractor. In 1927 the Fordson Model N replaced the Fordson Model F. It was an improved variant of the F. Production of the Model N started in Cork in 1927. Production of the Fordson Model N was transferred from Cork to Dagenham in 1933. The Model N featured a 27 HP engine, standard rear fenders (mudguards), a higher voltage ignition system, and optional pneumatic tyres. In 1935 power take-off (PTO) was available as an option on the Model N. The Fordson Model N was probably the most important tractor in the United Kingdom during World War II. The Dagenham plant produced over 136,000 Model N tractors during the war. Ford of the U.S. also exported Model 9N tractors to the U.K. during the war.
During 1940 the Fordson Model N livery was changed from the former orange paintwork to green. It is reputed that this change took place in order to make the tractor less visible to marauding enemy aircraft looking for an easy target. With around 50,000 skilled men being lost to the land by having been called up for duty in the Armed Forces British farmers faced severe labour shortages. Many Land Army girls were trained as to drive and maintain tractors, some became so proficient that they were sent out to instruct farmers on the care and use of their machinery.
As well as the full-sized cars on display, there are large numbers of scale models. Many of these were donated to the museum a few years ago by a Cumbrian man, Malcolm Tyson, famed for competing in the Monte Carlo Rally. Malcolm Tyson, who is from Ambleside, was well known on the car rally scene in the 1960s. His passion for motoring started in the 1940s with trial biking. He then went on to compete in numerous car rallies and was a respected navigator who took part in several Monte Carlo rallies. He later took on the role of team service car driver for Vauxhall, driving the vehicles over numerous Lakeland passes. Malcolm had been collecting the models since he was around 8 years old. Over the intervening years, his collection grew to more than 200 models including rare examples from famous manufacturers such as Dinky, Corgi, Solido, and Politoys. As well as racing and rally cars, it also brings together fine displays of Alfa Romeo, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes. Many of the items are still brand new and in the original boxes.
A separate display of models covered those associated with the Fire Service.
Another striking display is the vast collection of historic licence plates attached to one of the largest walls in the museum. Many of these are from the US and Canada, where, of course States and Provinces respectively issue their own plates and the designs are changed on a periodic basis meaning plenty of variety.
All sorts of other period memorabilia can be found throughout the museum with lots of old road signs as well as advertising panels, historic petrol pumps and much more besides.
There is a vast collection of vintage pedal cars. Designed as children’s toys, many of these had something of the look of a real car and a huge variety of different types were produced over many decades. These have become very collectible and for those in pristine condition (which is few of them, of course, as these were toys) the sale prices realised are eye-watering. Among the many pedal cars on display is a bright red Austin Junior 40 (J40). A total of almost 32,000 of these cars were produced from 1949 to 1971. They were made using off-cuts of metal supplied by Austin’s Longbridge factory. Although the model was labelled “Junior” in sales catalogues they were known as “Joycars” by the Austin factory and came with a dummy engine, complete with spark plugs and leads, battery operated headlamps, horn and chrome trim. The museum’s immaculate red model was made in 1966 and is sheet steel over a steel frame. It was built at Austin’s pedal car factory at Bargoed in South Wales. The South Wales link gives rise to a fascinating piece of history. The idea of Austin Joy pedal cars first came up in 1946 when Sir Leonard Lord conceived the idea of a factory which could employ ex-miners suffering from the mining disease Pneumoconiosis. He intended it to be a non-profit making concern. It was designed to fit the two-year-old daughter of one of the Austin factory employees. The Works Manager of Longbridge, Sir George Harrison, suggested the prototype carry the number “JOY 1” and subsequently they became known as Joy Cars. The factory opened on July 5, 1949, and was called the Austin Junior Car Factory. It was intended to build 250 a week but this figure was never reached. They were high quality – and had detachable wheels with Dunlop pneumatic tyres, fascia panel along with an opening bonnet and boot. 32,098 were built until production finally stopped in 1971.
A vast collection of historic bicycles is to be found in the upstairs gallery.
There is a vast array of motor bikes to see here, too, with special displays to celebrate the racing careers of the late Joey Dunlop and John McGuinness, and especially the Manx TT races.
The Museum’s Isle of Man TT collection tells the story of this special annual event with a hall of fame, video displays and a timeline tracing its history from 1907 to the present day. TT legend John McGuinness even loans some of his two-wheeled speed machines to the display. John McGuinness, also known as the ‘Morecambe Missile’, was the first man in the TT’s illustrious history to break the 130mph lap record and is one of the most successful Isle of Man TT racers of all time. The leathers he wore during that historic lap are currently on display at the museum. In total, John loans six motorcycles with Isle of Man TT history to the Lakeland Motor Museum. That includes his Yamaha R6 600cc bike on which he came 1st in the 2004 TT Junior 600 Race. It has a top speed of 175mph and during the race he set a lap speed of 120.57mph. There is also the Honda CBR1000 Fireblade on which he came 2nd in the 2008 TT Superstock Race. It has a top speed of 185mph.
These magnificent machines are among a diverse range of Superbikes on show on the ground and first floor exhibition halls, including the Honda RVF750, known as the RC45, which is one of only 200 built and sold worldwide. Able to reach a top speed of 160mph and covering a ¼ mile in 11.1 seconds, it is remembered as one of the best-made Honda motorcycles and most desirable Superbikes of the 1990s. Other models include the 1985 Ducati 900 2S and the 1991 Ducati 851 SP3, which are Italian models renowned for their style, engineering and performance. Among the other ‘must see’ exhibits for motorcycling fans are an extremely rare collection of AJW motorcycles from the 1920s and 30s. Further exhibits include bikes by Norton, Suzuki, Lambretta, Ducati and Triumph just to name a few.
When you look at the technology-packed vans that are used by Breakdown Recovery companies such as the AA and RAC these days, it seems almost inconceivable that not that long ago a lot of their patrols just used a motorcycle and sidecar, but they did. This is an ex RAC Norton ES2 with Watsonnian sidecar dating from 1961. The Norton ES2 is a Norton motorcycle produced from 1927 until 1964. From 1965, a different machine was produced for a short time by parent manufacturer AMC, based on a Matchless but badged as Norton ES2 Mk2. It was a long stroke single, always 79mm x 100mm bore and stroke, originally launched as a sports motorcycle but throughout its long life it was gradually overtaken by more powerful models. It remained popular due to its reliability and ease of maintenance, as well as the traditional design. From 1947 the ES2 had an innovative hydraulically damped telescopic front fork and race developed rear plunger suspension. From 1953 it had a single downtube swinging-arm frame. From 1959 it used the Rex McCandless designed Featherbed frame, with upgrades featuring an improved AMC gearbox, revised cylinder head, crankshaft-mounted Lucas RM15 60-watt alternator with coil ignition and an 8-inch front brake with full width hubs front and rear. The wideline Featherbed-framed bike was road tested in The Motor Cycle 4 June 1959 issue and was reported to have a mean top speed of 82 mph with petrol consumption of 56 mpg at 60 mph. For 1961, in common with other large-engined Nortons, the bike was further improved with the Slimline frame with upper frame rails narrowed and a restyled slimmer fuel tank. The last ES2 was introduced in late 1964. A Matchless-based machine with Norton badges, it was produced for two years before final discontinuation, coincident with the commercial failure of the AMC Group. The slow but immensely likeable Featherbed-framed 350 Model 50 and 500 ES2 Norton ohv singles were dropped and in their place appeared the Model 50 MkII and ES2 MkII, or, with Norton badges hastily tacked on the side, the Matchless G3 and G80. They failed to fool anyone, let alone the buying public. In 1966 the heavyweight singles were all but a memory.
IN THE AIR
Suspended from the ceiling are a small number of devices that took to the skies, ranging from an early hot air balloon to some very small planes.
THE CAMPBELL COLLECTION
A separate building houses a variety of machinery, mostly replicas of some of the record breaking Bluebirds, as well as models and artefacts associated with the Campbell family and their speed record breaking endeavours.
The Campbell-Railton Blue Bird was Sir Malcolm Campbell’s final land speed record car. His previous Campbell-Napier-Railton Blue Bird of 1931 was rebuilt significantly. The overall layout and the simple twin deep chassis rails remained, but little else. The bodywork remained similar, with the narrow body, the tombstone radiator grille and the semi-spatted wheels, but the mechanics were new. Most significantly, a larger, heavier and considerably more powerful Rolls-Royce R V12 engine replaced the old Napier Lion, again with supercharger. This required two prominent “knuckles” atop the bodywork, to cover the V12 engine’s camboxes. Visually the car was quite different. The bodywork was now rectangular in cross section and spanned the full width over the wheels. Although actually higher, this increased width gave the impression of a much lower and sleeker car, accentuated by the long stabilising tailfin and the purposeful raised ridges over the engine camboxes. This Blue Bird was clearly a design of the Modernist ’30s, not the brute heroism of the ’20s. Mechanically the changes to the car had focussed on improving the traction, rather than increasing the already generous power. Double wheels and tyres were fitted to the rear axle, to improve grip. The final drive was also split into separate drives to each side. This reduced the load on each drive, allowed the driver position to be lowered, but required the wheelbase to be shortened asymmetrically on one side by 1+1⁄2-inch (38 mm). Airbrakes were fitted, actuated by a large air cylinder. For extra streamlining the radiator air intake could be closed by a movable flap, for a brief period during the record itself. Blue Bird made its first record runs back on Daytona Beach in early 1935. On 7 March 1935 Campbell improved his record to 276.82 miles per hour (445.50 km/h), but the unevenness of the sand caused a loss of grip and he knew the car was capable of more. The faster car needed a bigger and smoother arena, and this led to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah. This time the young Donald Campbell accompanied his father. On 3 September 1935, it reached 301.337 miles per hour (484.955 km/h) breaking the 300 mph barrier for the first time by a bare mile-per-hour, crowning Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record-breaking career. The original is in the US and this is a replica.
Blue Bird K4 was a powerboat commissioned in 1939 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, to rival the Americans’ efforts in the fight for the world water speed record. The name “K4” was derived from its Lloyd’s unlimited rating, and was carried in a prominent circular badge on the forward hull. As this was Campbell’s second boat, it was also known as Blue Bird II. He used the name for a series of land speed record cars, his record boats and also his motor yacht. K4 was built by Vosper & Company as a replacement for Blue Bird K3, which had set three other water speed records for Malcolm Campbell before the K4 was built. It also used the same Rolls-Royce R engine. K4 was a three-point hydroplane. Conventional planing powerboats, such as Miss England or Blue Bird K3, have a single keel, with an indent or “step” projecting from the bottom of the hull. At speed, the force on this step is enough to lift the bow upward, reducing the wetted surface area of the hull and thus also the frictional drag. A “three pointer” has two distinctly separate floats fitted to the front, and a third point at the rear of the hull. When the boat increases in speed, most of the hull lifts out of the water and planes on these three contact points alone. These points, being even smaller in area than the planing hull of a monohull hydroplane, have even less drag. Having a broad spacing between the front planing points, the three-pointer is less susceptible to instability caused by small disturbances than is a monohull. However, if the bow lifts beyond its safety margin, the aerodynamic forces (not the hydrodynamic forces of the water) on the broad forward area of the hull will cause it to “kite” upwards, leading to a somersault and crash. This is what happened to both Slo-mo-shun and possibly Bluebird K7. K4 set one world water speed record on 19 August 1939 on Coniston Water, Lancashire (now in Cumbria, at 141.740 mph (228.108 km/h or 123.168 kn). After the Second World War, Sir Malcolm unsuccessfully re-engined K4 with a de Havilland Goblin turbojet engine but did not gain any records. The new superstructure did gain the nickname ‘The Coniston Slipper’. Seen here is a replica of the original K4.
Donald Campbell began his record-breaking career in 1949 following the death of his father, Sir Malcolm Campbell. Initially, he had been using his father’s 1939-built Rolls-Royce ‘R’ type powered propeller-driven hydroplane Blue Bird K4 for his attempts, but he met with little success and suffered a number of frustrating setbacks. In 1951, K4, which had been modified to a prop-rider configuration to increase its performance potential, was destroyed after suffering a structural failure, when its V-drive gearbox sheared its mountings were punched through the floor of the hull. Following rival record breaker John Cobb’s death in his jet boat Crusader, which broke up at over 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) during a record attempt in September 1952, Campbell began development of his own advanced all-metal jet-powered Bluebird K7 hydroplane to challenge the record, by then held by the American prop rider hydroplane Slo-Mo-Shun IV. Designed by Ken and Lew Norris, the K7 was a steel-framed, aluminium-bodied, three-point hydroplane, built at Samlesbury by Samlesbury Engineering, powered by a Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl axial-flow turbojet engine, producing 3500 pound-force (16 kN) of thrust. Like Slo-Mo-Shun, but unlike Cobb’s tricycle Crusader, the three planing points were arranged with two forward and one aft, in a “pickle-fork” layout, prompting Bluebird’s early comparison to a blue lobster. K7 was of very advanced design and construction, and its load-bearing steel space frame ultra rigid. It had a design speed of 250 miles per hour (400 km/h) and remained the only successful jet-boat in the world until the late 1960s. The designation “K7” was derived from its Lloyd’s unlimited rating registration. It was carried on a prominent white roundel on its sponsons, underneath an infinity symbol. Bluebird K7 was the seventh boat registered at Lloyds in the ‘Unlimited’ series. Using Bluebird K7, Donald Campbell set seven world water speed records between 1955 and 1967. K7 was the first successful jet-powered hydroplane, and was considered revolutionary when launched in January 1955. Campbell and K7 were responsible for adding almost 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) to the water speed record, taking it from existing mark of 178 miles per hour (286 km/h) to just over 276 miles per hour (444 km/h). Donald Campbell was killed in an accident with a much modified K7, on 4 January 1967, whilst making a bid for his eighth water speed record, with his aim to raise the record to over 300 miles per hour (480 km/h) on Coniston Water.
Bluebird Electric 1: Just ahead of the 80th anniversary of Sir Malcolm Campbell smashing the 300mph land speed record (3 September 2015), the racing sensation’s grandson loaned his own record-breaking electric car to the Lakeland Motor Museum. Don Wales has carried on the family tradition of record-breaking, concentrating initially on the electric speed record. Bluebird Electric broke the British electric record for the first time at Elvington runway in May 1997, at a speed of 116mph. After further developments and improvements, the striking speed machine raised the record to 137mph in August 2000, reaching a maximum speed of 160mph – a record which stood for 12 years.
This is Donald Campbell’s 1954 Land Rover Series 1, also painted in the distinctive blue colour of the Bluebird family:
Although the museum is easy to get to, it is an awfully long way from home. The journey up the M6 seems to go on for every such a long time even once you have cleared the Manchester area, so for someone who lives in the South West like I do, you need to break it up with at least one overnight stop somewhere. But it was well worth the trip. The buildings may not be all that large, but there sure is an awful lot of content in them. Like most museums, it is clear that the collection exceeds the capacity of the space to display it and I did feel that things were somewhat crammed in, but this is a common problem with almost all museums, rarely fixed if they get additional building space as the collection simply expands to fill it! I would certainly recommend this one to anyone who is in the area or who wants to make a trip to the South Lakes.
More details can be found on the museum’s own website: https://www.lakelandmotormuseum.co.uk/