Contemporaries and Peers
Lola, Mallock,Elva,Kieft,Ginetta & Terrier
The purpose of comparing and contrasting Lotus contemporaries is:
It allows better estimation of achievement and some measure of relativities.
It enables a wider context to be understood, the extent of technology transfer, and the racket of competition. It also allows some credit to be given to lesser known individuals and marques whom in some way made contributions to motor sport development post war.
The achievements can be understood in a wider post war cultural context of what was happening in Britain. It helps to pose questions that examine the whys and how Britain was able to become and remain so dominant in International Motor Sport.
A formal academic examination question used to be “War Advances Technology-Debate”. This is a very relevant and pertinent question and evidence suggests it had a considerable influence in post war motor sport.
The author would suggest that the war created directly and indirectly the climate and culture that nurtured such developments.
The war forced and advanced technology , its effectiveness, applicability, aerodynamics , airframes, production methods and organisation and the use of materials.
The duration of the war placed interests on hold but also created a mindset within its personnel of can do must do and possibly the desire for some of the excitement.
The war created shortages. The response to which was ingenuity, improvisation and innovation Combined with technological mutation and transference there was a forcing house of ideas and a cultural climate of experimentation heavily reinforced by direct participation.
Two words were used in period to give an explanation of the immediate post war motor sport participants are: Impecunious [meaning having little or no money –although of course a relative term] and Ubiquitous [meaning being everywhere and often used to describe the availability of certain motoring components such as the Austin Seven and Ford 1172 Side valve both dating from mass produced items of the 1930’s].
In this selection of contemporaries these terms will apply and we will also examine additional communality that helped integrate and reinforce the group.
The immediate post war period was exciting and challenging. Perhaps why it worked so well was that there was a special blend of theory and practice. There also remained a very strong precision craft engineering tradition enabling ideas to be fabricated quickly and relatively inexpensively.
Amongst the most influential of contemporaries were the Allen brothers [to whom we wish to devote an entire edition] Williams and Pritchard, Progress Chassis, Arch and a host of specialist and after market retailers. It is hoped that our audience will appreciate the attempt at integration, cross referencing in order that a fullest appreciation might be achieved.
It is also important to acknowledge the achievements of the many who remain anonymous but whose craft skills made the assembly of complex machines affordable and effective from a garnering of the best available.
There are perhaps lessons from the past that might help today. Colin Chapman displayed one of the greatest problem solving methodologies .The essence of which was analysis of the real problem and regulation of issues on the periphery.
Terrier etc [Len Terry]
Len Terry was one of the leading lights of the 1950’s and went on to become one of the foremost designers which major International winning cars to his credit. Terry had been a draughtsman in the RAF. During the 1550’s he had wide variety of engineering jobs including Every Ready batteries, the Metal Box Company and as design Engineer for Tricorn Designs. It would seem that some of Terry’s gifts relate to his ability for technical illustration, conceptualisation and realisation. He started his career motor racing modestly with the JVT special [it is believed that the chassis was built by John Teychenne of Progress] and by the late 1950’s his own Terrier Clubman cars in the 1172 Formula which was followed by the Formula Junior. He mixed and developed within the hot bed of the 750 Motor Club.
At approximately the same time it is believed the Len might have designed for Gilby.
Around 1958 he joined Lotus and contributed towards the 15&17 sports cars, the 30 Group Seven /Can Am car, 29,34/38 25/33 which was used by Jim Clark to win the 1965 World Championship. The same year Lotus won at Indianapolis .Terry then worked for Dan Gurney and produced the Eagle.
Progression led to work with Frank Nichols [Elva] then BRM c 1967. Further success and competition results were achieved for JW Automotive [Gulf Mirage].Additional design work was undertaken for John Surtees and Nathan Racing.
With John Lambert Len Terry formed Design Autos and it is thought that the Leda was the product of this collaboration.
C 1972 Len Terry introduced AutoPlan –A-Car scheme in an attempt to make racing affordable and accessible to the home constructor. This was a success and worthy project.
Into the mid 1970’s Terry dropped out of the mainstream but passed on a life time of experience through his book “Racing Car Design and Development”*
Lola [Eric and Graham Broadley]
Eric and Graham were cousins and were based in Bromley, Kent. Note that their proximity to Brands hatch and Super Accessories also based at Bromley [see After market] .Both men were professional with applied engineering skills. And formal qualifications. Eric Harrison Broadley was born in 1928. Their first attempt was an Austin Seven based special with the Austin chassis altered to accommodate the Ford 1172 engine. It is believed it might have been constructed c 1954.
There followed a further Ford type special to the 1172 Formula that looked like a Lotus Seven. The most significant breakthrough came with the Lola Mk I of c 1958.This was a very competent design comprising an enveloping body and space frame chassis. It is believed to have used a 1098ccCoventry Climax engine and weighed 71/2 cwt approximately. One example did extremely well driven by Peter Ashdown.This model instantly became a rival to the Lotus eleven and on many occasions was able to beat it. These small sports racing cars were built at Bromley and West Byfleet, Surrey [see advertisement and also paddock photographs of Llandow]
Lola cars were formed in 1958. Their rate of development was fast and by 1960 they had developed the Lola Mk II single seater Formula Junior and by 1961 produced a rear engine car.
Lola will also be remembered for the GT [Mk VI] which was shown at the 1963 Racing Car show and set the trend for a decade as well as helping define the development of the Ford GT 40. The Type 70 of 1965 is an iconic car ad of course raced at Le Mans. [in a future edition is hoped to compare and contrast in some detail the Lola GT ,Type 70 and the Lotus 30/40 of the same era and their shared use of the large capacity V8 engines].See website models section for photographs.
Lola has a reputation for being prolific and has built cars for virtually every International Formula. Some of their greatest success being in North America and Europe including Indianapolis and Le Mans.
Lola has a proud reputation for the diversity and business skills that have given them continuity to the present day and a presence within the top echelons of motor racing.
Mallock [Arthur Mallock]
Arthur Mallock was born in 1918 and was slightly older than his peers however had a significant impact on amateur motor sport in the 1950’s to the present day. Growing up he had an interest in mechanical things including Meccano, bicycles and radio.
Aged 17 he bought his first car which was an Austin Seven. About this time he joined the army and it is believed learnt to fly.
After the war along with friends Jack French and John Streets he developed his Austin Seven specials.
Like Colin Chapman; Arthur was a very competent driver and held an equally strong obsession about weight in his cars. Unable to beat the Lotus Eleven and Lola Arthur decided to built what has become famous as the U”2 MkI. This was over 1957/58.The mantra that served the amateur competitor well was minimum cost and maximum performance. For a period he was based in Longfield, Kent close to Brands Hatch. It is believed that the U2 might have been marginally lighter and smaller than the Lotus Seven. A weight of 7.25 cwt has been quoted and with an extreme reclined driving position scuttle height is believed to be approximately 26 inches.
Arthur and the U2 contributed significantly to the race series organised by the 750Motor Club and this continues until today.
Arthur as noted was a very skilled driver. In addition Vernon Davies made a reputation in the U2.He held the outright lap record at Llandow for some time. [See Lotus on Track and article and photographs relating to Llandow]
He was a remarkable and modest man with a competent grasp of practical engineering. He will be remembered for his range of U2 single seater and sports racing cars and the fact they have helped to democratise the sport and ease entry to the less fortunate.
Ginetta [Walklett brothers]
Ginetta was founded by four brothers .they owned and ran an engineering business near Woodbridge, Suffolk [the postal address quoted as Campse Ashe]. It is presumed due to the location that they undertook light engineering agricultural and construction metal work.
Their first special is reputed to have been an adapted Wolseley Hornet “Special”.
However their first significant production model was the G2. This had a near identical specification and construction to the Lotus Mk VI.However note that by the late 1950’s when the G” had emerged Lotus had conquered Clubman racing and had entered FI.
During this year there was a vogue for building Ford specials .The concept was to mount a modern fibre glass body over an improved Ford 1172 chassis. These were really successful. However the Walkletts introduced the G3 in this idiom but as a competent kit car ad it sold for £156 ex works.
At the 1961 Racing Car show the brothers offered the neat, pretty and competitive G4. This was offered with either the Ford Anglia 105E engine or the larger Classic 1340cc.It sold for £500 approximately as was both a commercial and competitive success. It is thought that approximately 500 might have been built.
The business developed expanded and moved premises. Along with so many other manufacturers in the ear of cheap oil in the early 1960 they developed the G10 intended for America with the 4.7 L Ford V* engine. Alongside this were several F3 single seater cars.
Ginetta produced the iconic and competitive G12 which competed against the Lotus Europia and Chevron. Other notable designs included the:
G15 with the Imp engine [see illustrations accompanying this article]
G17 formula Ford
G20 Formula I [BRM V12]
G21 aimed at Marcos and TVR
G32 mid engine car compare with Lotus Esprit of period.
G50 anniversary car.
As of 2009 it is believed that Ginetta is owned by Lawrence Tomlinson and are based in Leeds, UK.
Elva [Frank Nichols]
Elva was the brand name of Frank Nichols. Frank owned a garage in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex. At early stage this may have been known as Chapman Sports Motors. It is believed that Elva was started in c 1955.Frank built his first car with considerable assistance from “Mac” Witts and Keith Marsden. The car competed as the CSM.It used a Ford 1172 engine. However some of the success of the car might be associated with the superior power resulting from the overhead valve conversion developed for the side valve engine. [See picture in After Market section]
Elva in period raced and was on occasions more successful than their contemporaries including Lotus, Lola and Cooper.
Frank Nichols was an astute business man and Elva was produced in relatively large numbers. Many were sold in America.
Some of the early models included;
1954 CSM Special
MkII fitted Coventry –Climax Engine
C1960 Junior single seater racing car.
1963 MkVIII BMW 2L
Some of the engines used included;
Coventry –Climax FWA
Ford Side Valve / Elva OHV conversion.
[See photographs and illustrations]
The Courier and Road Cars.
Elva attracted some well known drivers through the 1950’s and 60’s and included ; Archie Scott-Brown, Mark Donohue, Tony Lanfranchi [ won the Autosport championship in his Elva –BMW Mk VIIS] Bruce McLaren, Bobby Rahal,Carl Hass, Bernie Eccelestone, Robin Mackenzie,Les Leston, Stuart Lewis –Evans and Alex McMillan
The McLaren Elva is affectionately known as one of the “Big Bankers”. They were often fitted with large Buick or Chevrolet V8 engines .They raced in the Can Am series. It is believed that some of these cars were produced at the Trojan Works in Croydon during the mid 1960’s.[ see paddock photographs of McLaren that raced at Llandow].In a future edition it is hoped that we can compare and contrast this car with the Lotus 30 and 40 models of the same period.
The McLaren concern continued to develop and today forms a major competitor in F1.
Kieft [Cyril Kieft]
Cyril Kieft is one of the lesser names in post war motor sport but none the less significant and fully integrated with the mainstream. Kieft cars are remembered for the F3 [500Club] and later for sports racing cars that competed in America and Le Mans. Kieft possessed some advanced thinking and used both Coventry Climax and Chrysler V8 engines.
Cyril Kieft was born in Swansea in 1923.His family were established in the steel industry and had some connections with Motor Sport. During the War Cyril established a reputation in both engineering and management. At the end of the war he had engineering workshops in Bridgend , South Wales [ George St, Bridgend Industrial Estate sometimes known locally as the Arsenal due to its war time activities] and Derry St; Wolverhampton in heart of industrial Midlands.
C 1946 Cyril committed to building a F3 car. He was assisted by John Arthur Cooper, Ray Martin and Dean Delamont. By 1950 this car was productionised. It was eventually raced by Stirling Moss and won speed records. Around 1952 Kieft attempted a road car based on the F3 and it mixed some concept from the pre-war 3 wheelers and the bubble car concept. It did not take off.
In the early 1950’s production was moved to Wolverhampton. Kieft developed a central seat sports racing car. This was available at £997 less engine. This was a multi tune space frame.
This small company progressed quite rapidly and by 1954 had a Le Mans entry with their 1100 cc sports racing car. This was an advanced specification comprising a fibre glass body and Coventry Climax engine.
The basis of this car may have become the basis for one chassis that received a Chrysler Fire dome 5.4L V8 engine.
Kieft did not compete much in motor sport beyond this but it is obvious the parallels with Cooper and Lotus and the communality of thinking with the Coventry Climax engine. It is believed the company changed hands c 1956 but there is a reference to continuity to the present time and certainly the interest in Historic racing will keep the name alive.
The Lone Furrow [The Story of Arthur Mallock and his U2 racing cars]
Paul Lawrence 1997
Racing Car Design and Development.*
Len Terry and Alan Baker
Robert Bentley 1973
Kieft [ 2 volumes]*
- Available in the Resource and Archive library. We hope to stimulate interest. Should you wish to follow up or conduct further research please consider using the library resource.
Please note that the internet covers all those marques described and also contains a larger range of photographs.
We look forward to your observations and will reflect your priorities in production.
Author John Scott-Davies