by Paul Sweeney
Welcome another addition to Ian Hope's collection at the British Car Museum - this 1927 Swift Tourer is quite a rare car; it is believed to be the only Swift P Type in New Zealand. Ian has had a new folding roof and side screens made for it since its recent arrival.
The Swift P-type built in 1927, had moved a long way from the primitive Cyclecars of earlier years and was a well-engineered, well-appointed, typical light car of the period. The Swift 1190cc side-valve 4-cylinder engine was fitted to a three-speed gearbox and the chassis boasted four-wheel brakes. Three body styles were available, a two-door saloon, a four-door fabric saloon and a tourer, which were largely hand-built in their Coventry factory.
This car is the tourer model and has been totally re-built from the chassis up by the previous owner, with meticulous research and reference material to keep to the original design as much as possible. The motor has also been rebuilt with the addition of a full flow oil filter, with 1200 miles covered since. A minor improvement on the original design was converting from the original 6v electrical system to 12v.
The first Swift car of the conventional type was the twin-cylinder 7-horsepower, later 10-horsepower, of 1904. This was shortly afterwards joined by the four-cylinder 12/14, which continued in a bewildering number of guises until the First World War. These cars were entirely built at the Swift works, with the exception of the engines which were built in Coventry by Messrs White and Poppe.
In 1904 the Swift Cycle Company Ltd. made a single-cylinder 700 cc car (possibly a voiturette) which had a cloverleaf emblem on its radiator, an emblem that was adopted by all the cars. In the years 1909–11 another single-cylinder 7 hp car was manufactured, this time with 1100 cc (105mm bore and 127mm stroke). This car was also sold by Austin as the first Austin 7.
A larger car, the 15, with a 3-litre engine was added to the range in 1913, and this continued to just post-war. During the First World War, car production ceased.
After the war ended, the range was simplified with the excellent 1100 cc 10 continuing and joined by a 2-litre 12 with a 4-speed gearbox. A new 10 was launched in 1923 as the Q type with coil ignition, electric starting, optional front wheel brakes and a top speed of 55 mph (89 km/h).
Standard front wheel brakes were added in 1926 and the engine was bored out to 1190 cc to become the P type. The engine grew again to 1307 cc in 1929 when the car became the P2.
The 12 was replaced by the 12/35 in 1925 with front wheel brakes, plate clutch plus an increase of 24 inches (610 mm) in the wheelbase.
The final Swift car was the 1930 Cadet, which was an attempt to compete with the £100 cars. This had an 850 cc Coventry Climax engine and a price of £149 for the tourer and £165 for the saloon.
Coventry Climax were left with a number of engines from the Cadet model, which they used as the basis of their Second World War fire pump engine designated FSM, the SM standing for Swift Motors.
The Coventry Sewing Machine Company was founded by James Starley in 1859. They started making bicycles in 1869 and changed the name to Coventry Machinists Company. In 1896 they became the Swift Cycle Company and started to make motorcycles in 1898, and experimenting with an early car in 1900. In 1902 a separate company was formed for motor vehicle production and registered as the Swift Motor Company.
After World War 1 ended, the Cycle Car company was merged with the main company as Swift of Coventry and the range was simplified. In 1919 Harper Bean, who also made Bean Cars, bought 50% of Swift's ordinary shares, but got into severe financial difficulties later that year, seriously affecting the company's finances.
The final Swift car was the 1930 Cadet, but Swift was too small to compete with the likes of Ford and Morris, and closed in 1931 after its suppliers foreclosed on their debts. Coventry Climax were left with a number of engines from the Cadet model, which they used as the basis of their Second World War fire pump engine designated FSM, the SM standing for Swift Motors.
Production was originally in the Cheylesmore Works but in 1906 car assembly moved to a new factory, Quinton Works in Mile Lane. Some of the cars were equipped with engines manufactured in Saint-Denis Paris by Aster in single, twin or four cylinder configurations.
The Quinton Works
The Quinton Works with frontages on Quinton Road and Mile Lane in Cheylesmore, Coventry, originally built in 1890 for S & B Gorton for cycle manufacture, was acquired in 1905 by the Swift Motor Company, who made a motorcycle and a motor tricycle in 1898, and a conventional car by 1901 in their Cheylesmore Works in Little Park Street, but needed more factory space.
During World War I the factory contributed to the war-effort, producing munitions, military bicycles, Hispano-Suiza and Renault aircraft engines.
The frontage of the Quinton Works has been restored and integrated with a newly built Ibis Hotel, whilst most of the rest of the former site has been knocked down.
by Paul Sweeney
The British Car Museum has a new exhibit - a stunning 1969 Daimler 250, making it one of the last of this model. It previously belonged to a local Hawkes Bay couple who are long-time members of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners Club of NZ and have been friends of Ian Hope for many years.
The owner had decided he was getting too old to keep the car, and gave Ian first refusal to buy it, which of course he did - but not before Ian and I went for a test drive, naturally! The car drove very well, having been well looked after by a local Daimler specialist. The engine and other mechanicals all appear to be in excellent order; the interior is original featuring the classic wood and red leather.
Externally, the body is sound although the paintwork could use a refresh. If she were mine, I'd consider a colour change as for me the pale grey doesn't show off the Daimler's beautiful lines to best effect. Amazingly, the complete original and surprisingly generous Daimler tool kit is still present - reckoned to have a current market value of something like $800.
The 2.5 V8/V8-250 is a four-door saloon produced by The Daimler Company Limited from 1962 to 1969. It was the first Daimler car to be based on a Jaguar platform, the first Daimler car with a unit body, and the last Daimler car to feature a Daimler engine after the company was bought from the Birmingham Small Arms Company by Jaguar Cars in 1960. The engine is the hemispherical head V8 designed by Edward Turner and first used in the Daimler SP250 sports car.
It is essentially a re-badged Jaguar Mark 2 fitted with Daimler's 2.5-litre V8 engine and drive-train, a Daimler fluted grille and rear number plate surround, distinctive wheel trims, badges, and interior details including a split-bench front seat from the Jaguar Mark 1 and a black enamel steering wheel. Special interior and exterior colours were specified. Most cars were fitted with power-assisted steering but it was optional. Automatic transmission was standard; manual, with or without overdrive, became an option in 1967.
The 2.5 V8 was the first Jaguar designed car to have the Daimler badge. A casual observer, though not its driver, might mistake it for a Jaguar Mark 2. The Daimler's stance on the road was noticeably different from a Mark 2.
In April 1964 the Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was replaced by a D1/D2 type, also by Borg-Warner.
Three years after its launch, a Daimler 2½-litre saloon with automatic transmission tested by Britain’s Autocar magazine in May 1966 had a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 13.6 seconds. An overall fuel consumption of 19.0 miles per imperial gallon (14.9 L/100 km; 15.8 mpg-US) was achieved.
The test car was priced in the UK at £1,647 including taxes: Rover's 3-litre with automatic transmission was retailing for £1,770. At the end of 1965, the final drive ratio had been changed from 4.55:1 to 4.27:1, addressing complaints that the car as launched in 1963 had needed to exceed its recommended rev limit in order to reach its top speed, with a corresponding penalty in fuel consumption and engine noise and wear.
The testers found the car refined and well equipped with efficient, if rather heavy, brakes. The engine and transmission were felt to be well matched. The car was quiet and smooth but short on low speed torque.
A manual transmission, with or without an overdrive unit usable with the top gear, became available on British 2.5 V8 saloon in February 1967 and on export versions the following month.
as you know, Dads wish for his beloved Rover 75 was for it to be gifted to a British car museum after his death, and you have helped fulfil this wish...
The words above are taken from a very moving letter sent to Ian Hope (owner of the British Car Museum) from Mrs Lisa Lawry and her brother Jason in the UK.
The letter was received along with the car a few days ago, sent all the way from England to comply with the dying wishes of Lisa and Jason's father, the late Brian Groves. The entire letter is reproduced below along with the first pictures of Brian's beautiful car in its new home in Hawkes Bay on New Zealand's North Island.
Ian Hope is deeply touched, happy and proud that his museum was chosen by Brian and his family as the final home for Brian's beloved Rover 75. He is committed to preserving it for others to enjoy, forming as it does a key role in one of the final chapters of the British-owned motor industry and is also a lasting personal memorial to a man who loved his car.
About the Rover 75
The public unveiling of the Rover 75 at the Birmingham Motor Show was over-shadowed by a speech by BMW chairman, Bernd Pischetsrieder, containing criticism of the British Government's attitude to financial assistance in the redevelopment of the Rover Longbridge factory (where the new Mini and R30 was to have been produced). Press reaction interpreted this as saying that BMW were unhappy with continuing financial losses and were intending to close Rover down. This undoubtedly scared off many prospective buyers, despite the very positive reaction to the car itself. Indeed, it did (and still does) hold up very well with the Jaguar S-Type that was unveiled at the same show.
Sales picked up substantially during 2000, and it was Britain's fifth most popular new car in the month of April of that year. It was still selling reasonably well at the time of MG Rover's bankruptcy in April 2005, and only a small number of unsold 75s were still in stock by 2007, as Nanjing Automobile was preparing to re-open Longbridge.
Based on the combination of safety, performance and maintainability, the Rover 75 was found in 2011 to be the cheapest car to insure in the United Kingdom across all age groups. Based on fuel efficiency and lower taxes, the Rover 75 was found in 2011 to be the most cost effective diesel in its class.
The cars are still popular and actively supported by an active and growing Owners Club.
The 75 is engineered to a very high standard and has a torsional rigidity rating of 24,250 N·m per degree. The 75's construction was stronger than that of Audi's A4 or the contemporary BMW 3-Series. The high strength was partly a result of the large tunnel that spans the length of the Rover designed platform (designated R40) as well as the "ring of steel" around each door frame and box beams in the floor.
At the time of the launch there had been speculation within the media that the Rover 75 used the BMW 5-Series platform, perhaps due to the overall size of the model, the apparent presence of a transmission tunnel and the use of the parent company's rear suspension system. This was in fact not the case: Rover engineers had used the concept of incorporating a central tunnel which had been explored by BMW as part of their own research into front-wheel-drive chassis design. As the 75 took shape, this core engineering was passed over to Rover and evolved into the Rover 75 structure. The tunnel concept, along with the rear suspension system, was also used by the Rover engineers for the design of the Mini.
At launch the Rover 75 quickly attracted praise for its styling and design integrity. Some critics of the car labelled its styling too "retro", suggesting it had been designed with an older buyer in mind, and was not sporting enough when compared to the competition. However, the 75 won a series of international awards including various "most beautiful car" awards, including one in Italy.
by Paul Sweeney
We are starting 2016 with a bang, as the third new arrival of the New Year appears - and its a little corker. This stunning 1938 Austin 7 Ruby is in great condition and even has the optional rear luggage rack stowed inside the boot lid!
The Austin 7 is a small car that was produced from 1922 until 1939 in the United Kingdom by Austin. Nicknamed the "Baby Austin", it was one of the most popular cars ever produced for the British market, and sold well abroad. It wiped out most other British small cars and cyclecars of the early 1920s; its effect on the British market was similar to that of the Model T Ford in the US.
It was also licensed and copied by companies all over the world. The very first BMW car, the BMW Dixi, was a licensed Austin 7, as were the original American Austins. In France they were made and sold as Rosengarts. In Japan Nissan also used the 7 design as the basis for their first cars, although not under licence.
Many Austin 7s were rebuilt as "specials" after the Second World War, including the first race car built by Bruce McLaren, and the first Lotus, the Mk1.
Such was the power of the Austin 7 name that the company re-used it for early versions of the A30 in 1951 and Mini in 1959.
by Paul Sweeney
The second new addition of 2016 to the British Car Museum collection is this stunning 1933 Austin 12/4. She's had only 2 owners since new.
Austin introduced this new car in September 1932. It was made by fitting a 1535 cc side-valve, four-cylinder engine with 24 bhp output into the same chassis as they had been making since late 1930 for their six-cylinder 12/6 which was also in the same 12 hp class.
This new four cylinder engine was coupled to a four-speed "crash" gearbox at first, but a new transmission with synchromesh on third and top speed appeared in 1934 and then also on second in 1935.
The chassis was very conventional, with semi-elliptic leaf springs on all wheels and rigid axles front and rear. Wire wheels were fitted until 1937 when they were replaced with pressed steel ones. At launch there was a choice of a pressed steel six-light (three windows on each side) saloon called the Harley and a two-seat tourer.
A second saloon style with a boot, the Ascot, was added in 1934 and the Harley was dropped in 1935. In the same year the chromium plated radiator shell was replaced by one painted in body colour. The very early cars had their side lights mounted on the scuttle, but these soon moved to the tops of the wings.
by Paul Sweeney
Meet a new member of the British Car Museum family - a lovely 1948 Alvis TA14
The Alvis Fourteen also known as TA 14 was the first car to be produced by Alvis cars after World War II. Announced in November 1946, it was made until 1950 when it was replaced by the 26.25 HP Alvis Three Litre or TA 21.
The Fourteen was available as a four-door sports saloon built for Alvis by Mulliners of Birmingham but there were also Tickford and Carbodies drophead versions. The bodies were mounted on an updated pre-war Alvis 12/70 chassis that was widened and lengthened but retained the non-independent leaf spring suspension and mechanically operated brakes.
Disc wheels replaced the 12/70s wires.The 1892 cc engine is a slightly larger-bore version of the one used in the 12/70 and produced 65 bhp (48 kW). It is fitted with a single SU type H4 1 1⁄2-inch side-draught carburettor.
The top speed is around 74 mph (119 km/h) and acceleration from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 22.2 seconds
by Paul Sweeney
New arrival: the Jensen-Healey (1972–76) is a British two-seater convertible sports car which was the best-selling Jensen of all time - most were sold in the USA and Canada. In total 10,503 (10 prototypes, 3,347 Mk.1 and 7,146 Mk.2) were produced by Jensen Motors Ltd. in West Bromwich, England.
We don't have much information about the car as it almost literally fell into Ian Hope's lap. One day recently a local lady telephoned out of the blue saying she wanted rid of an old car and would Ian be interested? Suffice it to say he bought it for a song and it now awaits his recovery from recent illness to tidy it up. Ian recovered the car complete with a rag top that's seen better days (it can be seen bundled into the boot) and also a hard top.
The Healey has the 1973 cc Lotus 903 engine - a two litre, dual overhead cam, 16 valve all-alloy powerplant. This multi-valve engine is the first to be mass produced on an assembly line. This setup puts out approximately 144 bhp (107 kW), topping out at 119 mph (192 km/h) and accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
Jensen-Healey interiors started out comparatively austere and functional, with plastic centre consoles and all-black colour schemes. (Some earlier models do sport brown interiors, however.) In August 1973, aesthetic extras such as a clock, wood grain on the dashboard and glove-box and padding as well as air conditioning as an option were added. 1976 Jensen GT models went even further by offering an elaborate burr walnut wood dashboard and paisley-patterned cloth seats, with leather as an option.
End of Production
The oil crisis hit Jensen Motors hard, greatly damaging the sales of their very large V8 Interceptor model and thus degrading their financial condition as a whole. The Jensen GT was then hurriedly brought to market, requiring massive labour expense and taxing the firm's budget even further. By 1974 Lotus was able to supply the required number of engines and production reached 86 cars a week but despite this, the overall situation proved to be too much for the company, which, amid strike action, component shortages and inflation, proceeded to liquidate in 1975 and close their doors in May 1976.
Jensen Motors ran a factory team to capture the Sports Car Club of America SCCA D Production Championship in 1973 and 1974. This team was put together by Huffaker Engineering in California.
Although it was a new car, the Jensen-Healey went on to become one of the few cars in SCCA History to capture a championship in its first year of racing (1973).
The initial drivers in 1973 were Lee Mueller and Jon Woodner. In 1974 the lone entry was Lee Mueller. Lee Mueller captured a second D Production championship in 1974. The factory support ended in 1974, however the West Coast Jensen-Healey dealers combined to put together a late effort in 1975. Huffaker built a new car and although beginning the SCCA season late Mueller, driving again, was able to qualify for the runoffs in Atlanta. A third championship nearly came to pass but the Healey was edged out by the Ex C Production Triumph TR 6 factory team car of Group 44 racing, driven by John McComb. The Huffaker factory cars were later campaigned by the likes of Carl Liebich, James Beason, Stefan Edliss, Tim Lind, Joe Carr, Tom Kraft and Jim Reilly.
Bruce Qvale and Joe Huffaker Jr. from Huffaker Engineering, of Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, California, successfully campaigned a Jensen Healey in SCCA E Production, winning the SCCA title in 1995. From 2005 until 2007, Ron Earp of Cary, North Carolina campaigned a 1974 Jensen Healey in SCCA Improved Touring S class. The 1973 National Championship winning car was raced by Lind Bros Racing in Waterloo Iowa from 1974 thru 1981. The driver was Tim Lind. Stored from 1982 until 2006 when the car was sent back to Huffaker Engineering for a complete restoration to original 1973 specifications. The car is still owned by Lind Bros Racing and has been driven to victories in Vintage Racing by Pat Lind and Joe Huffaker. In 2013 the car won at the Rolex Monterey Historics and was awarded the Presidents Cup.Other victories have come at Elkhart Lake-Indianapolis-COTA- Sears Point-Thunderhill.
by Paul Sweeney
Welcome a new addition to the collection at the British Car Museum - a 1976 British Leyland P76. Admittedly it is not in 'concours' condition - but this car has an interesting history involving NZ's iconic Targa Rally.
As the photos above show, the car has seen better days and urgently needed some First Aid to ensure it survives for future generations to enjoy. That work started recently and is still underway as this is being written ( as shown in the photo below) with some welding to replace rusted metal.
When Ian Hope purchased the car, there was some mention that it may have been used in the NZ Targa rallies back in the day. The guys at the P76 Club turned out to know the car and have put us in touch with a long term previous owner, Edward Tubman who has been extremely helpful and forthcoming with memories of his time with the car; our very grateful thanks go to Edward. N.B. Edward has indicated he may have some period photos of the P76 in action and is trying to find them for us. Watch this space!
The account that follows is that story in Edward's own words:
by Paul Sweeney
Welcome to the newest member of the British Car Museum family. The Austin 10 is a small car that was launched on 19 April 1932 and was Austin's best-selling car in the 1930s; it continued in production, with upgrades, until 1947.
New body for 1937Conway 4-door cabriolet 1938
A big change came in December 1936 with the almost streamlined Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down.
A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires Top speed rose to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).
The car's wheelbase was now ¾ inch, 0.75 in (19 mm) longer. Rear track was now increased to 3' 10½", 46.5 in (1,180 mm). The vehicle's weight was now reported to be 18½ cwt, 2,072 lb (940 kg)
The Times, when they had a car on test, commented favourably on the new clutch, saying no previous Austin clutch had engaged smoothly and added "the car is built for steady economical running rather than for speed or brilliance".
These changes did not appear on the open cars, which no longer included the Ripley sports, until 1938 when the Cambridge and the Conway cabriolet gained an aluminium cylinder head on the engine and a higher compression ratio.
by Paul Sweeney
The latest addition to Ian Hope's collection is this late 70s Chrysler Alpine GLS. The 4 cylinder 1442cc engine made it an economical large family car with a modern interior. And yes, Ian is aware it's not really a British car, but its his collection and he likes it!
The Simca 1307 was the name under which Simca launched its new large family car in July 1975.
A modern, front-wheel drive hatchback, it was one of the first such cars in that class, along with the Volkswagen Passat, and became the 1976 European Car of the Year. It had been in development since 1972.
The model was sold under a variety of names, including Simca 1308 and 1309 models (with larger engines), Chrysler Alpine (name used for the Irish, UK and New Zealand markets), Chrysler 150 (Spanish market), and later Talbot 1510 / Talbot Alpine / Talbot 150 (a facelifted version launched by PSA after its takeover of Chrysler Europe) and Talbot Solara (the saloon version).
Originally the car was powered by 1294 and 1442cc versions "Poissy engine" with electronic ignition and a four-speed gearbox. From launch it was available in three trim levels, GL, S and GLS. Equipment levels were high, with the GLS version featuring central door locking and electric windows, accessories that up until then had only generally featured in larger more upmarket cars.
More upmarket models were designated 1308 (1508 in some markets) and 1309. All of the models replaced the Simca 1301/1501 range in France, while on the British market it was sold alongside the ageing Hillman Hunter, a rear-wheel drive range of saloons and estates which would continue until 1979. This type of car was generally more popular in Britain in 1975, with the best selling cars in this sector being the Ford Cortina and Morris Marina.
Styled by Roy Axe, the Simca 1307, along with the recently introduced Volkswagen Passat, was one of several full-size European family hatchback inspired by the Renault 16 that had defined the sector back in 1965. In the 1970s the most popular mid-size cars in Europe were still traditional sedans like Ford Taunus (Ford Cortina in Britain), Opel Ascona (Vauxhall Cavalier) and Morris Marina. The car was originally manufactured in Poissy in France, in Ryton in the United Kingdom, from 1977 in Villaverde in Barreiros, subsidiary of Chrysler Europe in Spain, and assembled from CKD kits by Todd Motors (later Mitsubishi Motors NZ) in New Zealand between 1977 and about 1983. Between 1979 and 1985 the car was also built by Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki factory in Finland and assembled in Colombia as Dodge Alpine between 1978 and 1982 at the Chrysler Colmotores in Bogotá.
In 1980 the car, which was now sold under the Talbot-brand, received an extensive facelift. The new model was known as the Talbot 1510 (the Talbot Alpine name was used in the UK) received new front and rear lights and new top of the range SX featured alloy wheels, cruise control headlamp wash/wipe, power steering and trip computer. Automatic transmission and a 5-speed gearbox also became available. A four-door saloon version, called the Talbot Solara, was released in the same year, with either 1.3 or 1.6 engines, and was produced alongside the hatchback version. Trim levels were similar to the Alpine. It effectively took over from the Hunter, axed a year earlier, as the four-door large family saloon in the range.
In New Zealand, Chrysler, Talbot, Alpine and 1510 badges were used on the car during its lifetime, though it was officially in price lists as an Alpine, following the UK convention. In 1982 the car was facelifted and renamed SX there.
French manufacturing of 1510, Alpine and Solara, along with the smaller Horizon, ended in 1985. In the United Kingdom the last cars were rebadged as the Rapier and Minx which were badged depending on trim level rather than body style. The names were sourced from the corporate ancestor of Chrysler Europe, the Rootes Group, having been used on the Sunbeam Rapier and Hillman Minx. Supply of these models was limited and in 1986 production ceased, with the Talbot marque being shelved soon afterwards on all passenger vehicles. By this stage, Peugeot was developing a new large family saloon - the Peugeot 405 - to compete with the latest offerings from Ford, General Motors and Austin Rover, which would be launched the following year.
Whilst exceptionally popular in France the Chrysler Alpine did not fulfill its potential in the UK. Due to corrosion problems similar to those of the Horizon, few Alpines have survived in the UK; according to the June 2009 issue of Practical Classics, only 15 remain in the country.