This article was result of the editor and his son visiting The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre .[see dedicated A&R review]
Within the museum we came across the Kennedy Squire.
This prompted us to examine the life and contribution of Adrain Squire and the marque he created.
Immediately we noted some comparisons with Chapman. These grew until we considered an article was warranted.
The Squire was one of Britain’s finest and most aesthetically beautiful cars of the immediate pre-Second World War era
Subscribers might like to see the directly relevant and integrated A&R pieces that complement and help structure this article: –
- Alfa Romeo
- Mercedes Benz
Peers and Contemporaries
It’s very likely that as young man Adrian Squire would have studied the greatest sports car marques.
They possibly inspired him.
Here we represent a cross section of those he might have benchmarked.
They also provide an invaluable aesthetic comparison.
Figure 1. editors photograph of Alfa Romeo
|Year/s||Marque||Model||Coach builder||Price £|
|1937||Lagonda||Rapide LG 45|
|1938||Alfa Romeo||8C 2900|
Figure . editors sketch Bugatti Type 55
Figure . editors sketch Bugatti Type 57S
Figure .editors photographs –Riley
Adrian Squire: Draughtsman
Adrian Squire was an apprentice at Bentley and joined M.G. as draughtsman.
From his early sketches it is evident he had aesthetic sensitivity and an appreciation of the work, function /function and the articulation of his ideal sports car.
This is readily evident in the line that he helped create.
Figure 5. Editors side elevation sketch of Squire classic profile and “V” radiator [i.e.as seen in plan view]
The Squire sports car, as a commercial proposition was doomed right from the start. It was one man’s dream of his ideal machine, to be sold in small numbers to the public. Nothing was allowed to interfere with the dream, certainly not the question of costs or profit. The car itself was one of the most exciting –looking and best detailed of all the British post –vintage thoroughbreds, its two most impressive features in 1934 when it was announced, were the sleek lovely and looks [this was the time when many body designers were still reluctant to consider sweeping lines on a sports car] and its unique twin –cam supercharged engine ……….
Squire were too small to make much of their own cars, so they contracted to buy engines from British Anzani, gearboxes from ENV …………
The most immediately striking aspect of the Squire, apart from its engine noise, was the styling ………..but the vee-profile radiator was swept back to make the nose distinctly rakish. The very first car, bodied by Vanden Plas looked reminiscent of a Bugatti from some angles and of an Aston Martin from a few others, but was unmistakeably a Squire ………..
There was no doubt that it was going to be an expensive car -£1,220 complete with body it rivalled a 31/2 -litre Bentley – but with a 100mph maximum speed , individual craftsmanship in the construction and the promise of exclusivity , Squire was confident enough…………..
Even though the price was slashed in 1935 to less than £1,000 there was no demand for this elegant but costly device, by then, unfortunately, SS had released the SS100 two seater and had rendered most other peoples prices obsolete
Squire from Boddy
“The Squire was not made in very great numbers, but it was a super sports car with an idealistic specification built at Remenham near Henley-on –Thames in the mid –1930’s.
The engine was a twin ohc 1.5l 4-cylinder based on the R1 Anzani and supercharged with Roots blower behind the radiator, with four extended drop exhaust pipes. Cooling was by pump and there was a ribbed oil cooler between the dumb irons .the 105 bhp engine rove through a Wilson pre-selector gearbox ……….
The Squire would lap Brooklands comfortably over 100mph ………..the inclined radiator enhanced the appearance of this low built car …………
Naturally such an advanced specification allied to production in very low numbers necessitated a very high prices; the short chassis model cost £950 without bodywork in 1935, the long chassis £975
Specification by Boddy for 1.5L
|Valves||Twin overhead cam|
|Final Drive ratio||4.0 and 4.25 to 1|
|Tyres||18×5 and 18×5.25in.|
The Kennedy Squire dimensions are: –
Overall length :12ft.-9 inch
Overall width: 5ft-8inch
Track: 4ft.-11 inch
“The Squire was a small production high quality sports car built near Henley –on-Thames around 1935-6 each car being individually handmade. The chassis was low slung , with a wide track and a 1.5 litre overhead camshaft Anzani engine was used with a Roots supercharger …….only a handful of these cars were built , but each one was given a certificate to show that it had lapped Brooklands at over 100 mph.
Apart from being rather costly, The Squire was one of the fastest sports cars of the day and this prompted the firm to build a single seat version of the sports car chassis. Jenkinson suggests top speed was c 125mph
Figure 6. Photograph the editor, of believed Kennedy car [LAHC]
“The Squire Car Manufacturing Company was a British auto manufacturer of the 1930s, based in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. It was founded as Squire Motors Ltd by 21-year-old Adrian Squire (1910–1940), formerly of Bentley and MG. Renamed as the Squire Car Manufacturing Company it produced the Squire car, which epitomised the Grand Prix car turned into road car.
After Frazer-Nash temporarily cast aside British Anzani, Squire seized the opportunity to use Anzani’s R1 100 bhp (75 kW) 1,496 cc twin-cam engine. They were purchased from Anzani with a Squire emblem cast into them. Blown versions were available.
Very few were made, but it held a reputation for exceptional top speed and braking. Squire designed and built a fine rigid chassis offered in two lengths for two or four seat versions with attractive bodywork by Vanden Plas.
The car was too expensive even with cheaper bodywork from Markham of Reading, and financial difficulties ended production in 1936. A Vanden Plas two seater cost £1,220 which was Bugatti money and even the Markham cost £995. Squire himself went on to join Lagonda and was working for the Bristol Aeroplane Company when killed in an air raid in 1940.
Two or possibly three more cars were assembled from left over parts by Valfried Zethrin in 1938 and 1939. There were plans to resume production after the war but the lack of patterns to make the engine made this uneconomical. After the war Val Zethrin pursued a new project, an updated and simplified attempt at the Squire concept, called the Zethrin Rennsport. The reliability and cost of the R1 Anzani engine had always been an issue, and post-war conditions rendered it unthinkable. Through Benjamin Bowden and John Allen’s design company, contact was made with Donald Healey, who recommended using a souped up Riley Motor engine, as he had employed in the Healey-Abbott· Suspension and modified frame from the Riley stable provided the back-bone for what was to be an interesting but doomed venture. 180 bhp from the heavily modified engine was forecast, coupled to a fairly advanced body, suggesting that a 135 mph maximum speed was achievable. It seems that this project went little further than a road-going prototype with rudimentary bodywork. Zethrin did not have the technical expertise of Adrian Squire, and failed to ensure sufficient industry interest in what seemed a flight of fancy, in an era of austerity. Lack of funds and backers falling away put paid to the Rennsport becoming available for purchase.”
Squire Visual Aesthetics & Characteristics
- Looked glorious
- Impressively low build
- Massive hydraulic brakes accommodating almost whole wheel diameter
- “V” shaped inclined radiator
- Flowing sweeping body lines – coachwork by Vanden Plas
- Front and rear wings delicately profiled skirts integrating through running boards
- Exciting looking and impressively detailed
- Enclosed tail for spare wheel and large petrol tank
|Wheel base||8ft.-6 in. 10ft.-3in|
|Track front rear||4ft.-6in|
|Overall length||13ft.or 14ft.-9in|
|Unladen weight [chassis only]||1,680lb. or 1,740lb.|
There are some reasons to compare and contrast an early Lotus with Squire.
Both were produced by practically minded young men with a determination to create a marque.
Both had strong aesthetic sensitivities. Both by necessity used proprietary engines.
In both instances the cars were capable of dual use.
Both used some of the best coachbuilders of the respective eras.
It has to be noted though much had changed through the Second World War. The Lotus Mk.VI was far more advanced and it was created to be intentionally affordable and a dedicated race series.
Both cars possess extraordinary aesthetic. We have developed this elsewhere for the Mk.VI. Here we invite subscribers to examine both and draw conclusions.
Figure . Lotus used a proprietary Coventry Climax; 4-cylinder engine, here installed in Lotus Mk.VI
Figure 8. Editors sketch of Lotus Mk.VI : form and Function
Figure 9. Editors sketch compare side elevation with Squire; note coachwork in aluminium by Williams and Pritchard [ here drawn as when in ownership of the late owner of Caterham Cars]
Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.
These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.
In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-
Figure . editors photograph – M.G.
- Compare and contrast Squire with other marques of the era
- What are the main lessons of Squire?
- What aesthetic made the Squire so potent?- see spreadsheet for guidelines
- Compare and contrast Squire with Jaguars of the era
- How and why was Chapman an early success?
Tool for Squire Aesthetic Analysis
|Forensic Aesthetic analysis of Squire or Lotus Mk.VI or comparison||Measurement||Proportion %|
|Front wheel mudguard /wing radius|
|Inclination of radiator|
|Inclination of front wing|
|Inclination of windscreen|
|Inclination of bonnet opening to body|
|Inclination of front door opening|
|Height of scuttle|
|Height of windscreen|
|What is shape of boot /inclination|
|What is the diameter of headlamps|
|Reenvisage elevation with external spare wheel|
|Sketch in driver ergonomics|
|Estimate weight distribution|
|Ghost in major mechanical components|
|Obtain copy of Autocar cut away -relate form /function|
|Estimate fuel consumption -what size petrol tank would be needed|
|What is ground clearance|
|Draw Squire to Lotus at same scale overlay -what is revealed|
Exhibitions, Education, Economics and Entertainment
In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.
For these reasons our suggested outline Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
In this instance we suggest the following exhibitions might be appropriate: –
- A Sporting Squire
- A Squire at the Races
- Squire: To the Manner Born
- Squire :Bloodline
- Squire down Country Lanes
- Squire: A Nobleman
- Squire in the village Square
Adrian was from a wealthy family and friends could possibly afford to indulge his dreams and passion.
His ideal was not without foundation or practicality as he opened a garage and dealership as a means to cross subsidise the project. Adrian possibly believed there was a market for those wanting a genuine British product over a Bugatti or Alfa Romeo.
It’s evident that he possessed aesthetic sensibility. We very much doubt the body shape was totally down to the coachbuilders; the rolling chassis immediately determining the overall proportions.
We along with most observers readily accept the great beauty and articulation and classic proportions of his creation.
When Adrian set up, he would have been unable to predict the severe world economic crisis in the making and the outbreak of the Second World War. Perhaps with more time and development [ particularly the engine]; the Squire could have been much more successful; even a competition car.
As it is the extremely limited production has guaranteed iconic status and value on the surviving cars.
We embarked on this article because we saw certain parallels with Colin Chapman and its worth bringing these out.
Although both men worked in two very different eras straddled by a world war, there were aspects of commonality and indeed today there remains lessons to be learnt.
Commonality between Squire and Chapman
- Young and idealistic
- Possessed ideas for ideal sports car
- Possessed mechanical skills
- Draughtsman-producing their own drawings
- Adopted light weight specification-relative to times
- Their cars possessed good handling
- They employed competent craftsmen/coachbuilders
- Had entrepreneurial ideas to stack up manufacturer
- Their sports cars capable of dual use
- Used proprietary engines and components
- Upgraded these as required
- Both could be over ambitious relative to market, costs and times
- Both young men died relatively young and had more to give
- Have left a legacy of extremely beautiful cars now highly collectable
Chapman was perhaps the harder and more ruthless business man [but these qualities often needed to survive and develop.]
He was possibly also more the polymath but Squire died young might have gone on to greater things in the post war era.
Both men and their business were subject to risk and the vagaries of world events beyond their control. We ought to be grateful for their dreams and idealism.
A-Z of Cars of the 1970’s.Robson.Bayview.1990.
A-Z of Cars 1945-1970.Sedgwick & Gillies.Bayview.1986.
Racing Cars of the world. Roberts.Longacre.1962.
The Racing car.Jenkinson.Batsford.1962.
The World’s Racing Cars.Armstrong.Macdonald.1959.
British sports cars.Watkins.Batsford.1974
The Sports Car.Boddy.Batsford.1963.
European Sports > Cars.Robson.Foulis.1981.
Encyclopedia of the Worlds Classic Cars.Robson.Tiger.1989.
The 11/2-litre Squire.Profile Publication.no 64.Wood.
Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.
*Items in italics non A&R library books.