Reg Bicknell from Southampton was an entrepreneur who built up several business which eventually included dealing in cars, running pubs and managing amusement arcade machines.
After being demobed from the Royal Air Force where he served as a night fighter pilot Reg returned to his auto sales and repair business.
Inspired by a copy of the Formula Three magazine IOTA in a pub he determined that he too could have a go at building a car, without interfering with his business commitments, to compete in the formula aimed at the impecunious.
Reg drew up nine criteria for his car before he started which began with “1. Be as unlike a Cooper as possible” and went on to include all round independent suspension, all parts to be made from scratch and so forth.
He began building the car in the winter of 1950 with his teen neighbour Brian Trew after first getting a set of magnesium alloy wheel rims cast which could be bolted on to the brake drums.
The first JAP powered variant of the car was finished in late 1951 after many build problems particularly with the suspension were overcome by trial and error.
Reg’s car initially proved too heavy and unreliable so over the winter of 1951 Reg ditched the independent rear suspension for a swing axle arrangement and during 1952 he replaced the JAP engine with a heavier more powerful “double knocker”, twin cam, Norton motor but still managed to bring the overall weight down from 625 lbs to 560 lbs.
These refinements along with replacing the pair of rear brakes with a single inboard unit turned the Revis into an altogether more competitive machine and Reg clocked up 2 wins and numerous placings along with a shared lap record at Goodwood during 1952.
In 1953 Reg took the offer of a semi works ride with Staride, but on his only outing in the Revis took another win at Silverstone.
For 1954 Reg replaced the conventional aluminium body work of the Revis with a rough home made fibre glass nose that enclosed the front wheels, in this configuration Reg clocked up 10 more wins during 1954.
The following season Reg abandoned the original Revis for the Revis II and in 1956 the original Revis seen here was shipped to the USA for future SCCA champion Pierre Moin who raced the car 5 or 6 times as an open wheel car with a Triumph twin motor without much success.
The Revis had further unreliable outings until at least 1961 and was brought back to the UK from Canada by present owner Richard Bishop Miller in 2009.
Reg Bicknell would go on to share a Lotus XI with Peter Joop in at Le Mans in 1956 where the pair finsihed 7th overall and 1st in class.
At the beginning of the 2014 season Richard Bishop Miller had the misfortune to fracture his vertebra after the Cooper of John Turner landed on top of him at the VSCC Silverstone Spring Start meeting.
Fortunately while Richard was recovering in hospital the Revis was striped and repaired so that both car and driver could return to the track at Zandvoort in Holland a couple of weeks ago.
Richard hopes to make the trip down from the Lake District to Castle Combe for the VSCC meeting on Sunday October 5th and I for one shall look forward to seeing him compete for the The Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club Challenge Trophy for the “500” Formula Three cars which have not been seen at Castle Combe since 1955.
Thanks for joining me on this “Unlike A Cooper” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a concept competition car from Renault. Don’t forget to come back now !