Yes of course I fell for a number of BL beauties – a Sandglow Maxi 1750 brought back childhood memories, a stunning Marina TC Jubilee in Citron with tinted windows proved an education, a MkII Morris 1800S in period police livery charmed and a rare survivor of the Austin-Morris 18-22 series captivated – but here are a couple of personal highlights which didn’t wear the plughole of doom but did have associations with a couple of Sixties F1 greats…
Austin Healey Sprite Brabham Replica
The Midget & Sprite Club had something to tickle the fancy of Spridget enthusiasts, whilst proving that K-series transplants were not the first of the type to feature OHC power.
Re-engineered in 1961 by Jack Brabham, a handful of MkII Spridgets saw their 948cc A-series replaced by a 1220cc SOHC Coventry Climax FWE. An engine more accustomed to finding itself under the bonnet of a Type-14 Lotus Elite, this lighter more powerful unit injected the Spridget with a seriously increased dose of urge. Up from the stock car’s 46bhp output, 88mph top speed and 0-60mph sprint time 19.8 seconds – these Brabham-fettled cars could manage 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 110mph courtesy of an impressive 83bhp at 6500rpm.
Other modifications on this Austin-Healey Sprite replica: upgraded brakes – Lockheed PL front discs replaced the Spridget’s standard all-drum system (these were custom-made due to the original’s rarity); the chassis legs had to be cut and reshaped to accept the Coventry Climax FWE which is longer than the A-series (to clear the sump and front pulley); the engine and gearbox had to be moved rearwards so that the dynamo pulley wouldn’t chew away at the radiator; the smooth case gearbox housing (fitted with later 1275cc internals) was modified for it to be able to mate with the FWE; a Healey 100 anti-roll bar was fitted as per Sebring Sprite; a 3.9:1 LSD has been fitted with uprated EN24 half-shafts; even a period Kenlowe fan has been sourced and fitted.
In period this conversion was a rare beast, probably due to its cost – a not inconsiderable £360 – which represent 50% of a 1961 Sprite’s price-tag. It is thought that possibly on four were converted and although none are currently on the road, Brabham’s press demonstrator is currently undergoing restoration.
Jim Clark’s prototype Lotus Consul Cortina SE with IRS
Fans of F1’s quietest great champion – and possibly the world’s fastest sheep farmer – are in for a treat on the MkI Cortina Owners’ Club stand; a very special Twink belonging to the man himself…
‘550 VAR’ was a Special Equipment model registered on the 6th December 1963 and it’s unique for it features independent rear suspension and was given to Jim Clark to test drive. He liked it so much, that it became his road car of choice.
Ford declined to put the car into production, so to hide its existence from Dagenham and stop it being destroyed, 550 VAR was re-registered by Lotus as LNK 327C on the 9th December 1965. The car stayed with Clark until his death at a F2 race in Hockenheim on the 7th April 1968, when it passed to Clark’s brother-in-law, Alec Calder, who hid the car for many years in Scotland. In 1983 it was re-registered 550 VAR by its then owner Tony Middlehurst and in 1991 it became part of Tom Walkinshaw’s collection until TWR’s bankruptcy sale in 2003. It was bought by Trevor Barefoot and it now belongs to serial Lotus Cortina collector, Will Payton.