Tag Archives: Appleyard

Down The Hatch – Healey Silverstone #D 6

In 1948 the British Government, desperately short of funds in the wake of the Second World War decided to increase the purchase tax on luxury vehicles costing more than £1,000 from 33.33% to 66.66% a move that was disastrous for small luxury vehicle manufactures like Healey.

However just as necessity is the mother of invention, Donald Healey saw the new tax as an opportunity to build a vehicle for less than £1,000 using the latest version of the chassis seen and Riley engines as used to built the Westland, Elliot, Sportsmobile and Duncan models.

Healey Silverstone, Haynes International Motor Museum, Sparkford, Somerset

Len Hodges was responsible for the paired down body with head lights mounted behind the radiator grill and for which the spare tyre, mounted horizontally at the back of the car acted as a rear bumper.

Weighing only 2,100 pounds / 952 kgs the 104hp Silverstone’s power to weight ratio gave a rest to 60 mph time of 11 seconds and top speed of 110 mph.

Healey Silverstone, Haynes International Motor Museum, Sparkford, Somerset

Notable early successes for the Silverstone in competition included Donald Healey with Ian Appleyard navigating, winning the 1949 Alpine Rally in a Silverstone as did Edgar Wadsworth and Cyril Corbishley in 1951 in the same year Peter Riley and Bill Lamb drove another Silverstone to victory in Liège-Rome-Liège Rally.

51 D Type Silverstones were built between 1949 and 1950 when an updated “E Type” Silverstone with a wider body was introduced.

Healey Silverstone, Haynes International Motor Museum, Sparkford, Somerset

Today’s featured Healey Silverstone #D6 was owned by Carlo Castelbarco in 1950, Carlo with F Mosters at the wheel finished the 1950 Mille Miglia in 38th place.

In 1952 R Nabun drove #D6 on the Scottish Rally and according to the Healey Silverstone Register #D6 was the first car to be raced by Tony Lanfranchi, at Brands Hatch on Boxing Day 1957, who after narrowly avoiding becoming a full time Formula One driver in the 1960’s became a very well known championship winning club driver in the 1970’s and 1980’s who raced a diverse range of vehicles from a Muskovich to the famous National Organs Plymouth Barracuda.

Some of Tony’s exploits on the track and in the bar afterwards can be read in his eminently collectible biography “Down The Hatch”, written with Mark Kahn.

Before being acquired by the Haynes International Motor Museum, where the car is seen in these photographs, #D 6 belonged to Danish music producer Flemming Rasmussen, who collaborated with Rainbow, Metallica, Morbid Angel and Blind Guardian among many others, and the car still carries the same paint and decals as when Flemming drove the car on the 1987 retrospective Mille Miglia.

Thanks for joining me on this “Down The Hatch” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for another visit to the Haynes International Motor Museum for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Cats with Grace & Pace – Jaguar XK 120

The post war success of the Jaguar Company was built around the twin overhead cam alloy head iron block XK engine which was in various guises from was in production from 1948 – 1992.

The motor was designed by William ‘Bill’ Heyes and Walter ‘Wally’ Hassan prior to the outbreak of WW2 hostilities, during the period of hostilities Jaguar staff realised the design in between duties as fire watchman over the heavily industrialised city of Coventry which was a major target of German bombing raids.

The XK 120 launched at the London Motor Show in 1948 was the first vehicle designed around a 160 hp 3442 cc / 210 cui version of the XK engine, at the time the XK 120 mph capability made it the worlds fastest production car.

The racing and rallying success of the XK 120 is incalculable including the Daily Express One Hour Race in 1949, Class win at Palm Beach Shores, class win in the Mille Miglia both in 1950 all three with Leslie Johnson at the wheel and a 1,2,3, victory in the 1950 Tourist Trophy. Ian Appleyard took overall wins in the Alpine Rallies of 1950 & ’51 and the first Alpine Rally Gold cup in 1952. An XK 120 driven by Al Keller is also credited with being the only foreign ‘built’ car to win a NASCAR sanctioned event at New Jerseys Linden Airport in 1954 to name but a few.

Leslie Johnson started a three year record breaking spree in 1950 at the 1.58 mile L’autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry outside Paris which features 30 degree banking.

Sharing the driving in 3 hour stints with Stirling Moss for 24 hours they averaged 107.46 mph, covering 2579.16 miles in 1950.

The following year ’51 Johnson drove 131.83 miles in one hour saying afterwards ‘the car felt so good it could have gone on another week’ sowing the seeds for the 1952 attack on the week speed record.

In 1952 a four man team comprising Johnson, Moss, Hadley and Fairman only managed 96 hours at their first attempt at the week record, because a spring broke after 85 hours, Johnson drove with the broken spring for a further 9 straight hours to spare his compatriots any additional risk setting 96 hour, 72 hour and 10,000 mile world and class records all at over 100 mph.

After the spring had been replaced the team then set a full seven day & night record of covering 16, 851.73 miles at an average speed of a staggering 100.31 miles and hour.

The first 242 roadsters, of which the 1949 #267 driven by Roderick Spollon is one, were hand built with aluminium bodies on ash frames, as demand picked up by 1950 pressed steel bodies were used with aluminium bonnet, doors and boot lid. Production of OTS roadsters (no roof) , DHC (convertible) and FHC (steel roof) XK120 variants came to an end in 1954 when the XK 140 was introduced.

Hope you have enjoyed todays 120 MPH edition of ‘Getttin a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and will join me on a safari looking at some big cats in Africa as I continue my quest for new information about events that occurred long ago. Don’t forget to come back now !


In memory of former XK 120 owner Barbara Weaver wife of ARCA and founding SCCA member George Weaver who recently passed away I am posting this photo by Ed Arnaudin of the pits complex at Thompson CT during it’s construction in July 1958.

Barbara, who’s car carried the licence plate ‘SCCA’ and her husband located the Thompson CT site and with financial assistance from Briggs Cunningham the Weavers built and ran the road circuit until 1967, when land could no longer be acquired for the facility to expand.

She was an affirmed motor sport aficionado allegedly falling in love with the Maserati belonging to her husband to be before falling in love with it’s lucky owner.

Amongst many roles in motor sport she played host to Fangio, Shelby, George Constantine, Jackie Cooper and Joan Fontaine, Bob Holbert, Bob Grossman, the entire Cunningham team, Chuck Daigh, Lance Reventlow, and Walter Cronkite.

A full and proper obituary of this wonderfully decidedly hands on character is linked here.

Sincere condolences to Barbara’s family and friends.