Tag Archives: Elf

Primer Car – MATRA Ford MS9

For 1968 Ken Tyrrell joined McLaren and Lotus by electing to buy a supply of Ford Cosworth DFV engines and did a deal with MATRA, who’s chassis he had run in Formula 2, to supply Formula One chassis for Jackie Stewart. While finishing the new MS10 challenger MATRA built the MS9 as an interim development car featuring a shortened MS7 Formula 2 monocoque which was adapted to take the DFV as a stressed member.

MATRA MS9, Donington Museum

The interim car was fitted with suspension adapted from it’s sports car programme to acommodate the larger Formula One wheels. The car was painted in a zinc or other chromate pigmented primer usually found in the aerospace business, MATRA’s prime business, to protect aluminium alloy.

MATRA MS9, Donington Museum

Jackie liked the car in testing and elected to race the primer test car in the 1968 South African Grand Prix in favour of the new MS10. Apparently a late attempt was made to paint the car French blue but the paint chosen did not adhere to the primer.

MATRA MS9, Donington Museum

Finance for the new MATRA International Team was provided by a new natianalised French oil brand Elf, which took over a large number of French Caltex retail outlets in 1968 that were subject to a carefully orchestrated overnight nationwide rebranding program.

MATRA MS9, Donington Museum

Having qualified an impressive third with only the Lotus 49’s of Jim Clark and Graham Hill ahead of him, Jackie Stewart stepped into the MS9 to start the race knowing he did not have enough fuel on board to complete the race without a pit stop.

MATRA MS9, Donington Museum

However on lap 43 the car had to retire with a broken valve spring and dropped valve.

MATRA MS9, Donington Museum

This car was then replaced by the MS10 for the remainder of the season. Note the curved grey bar is part of a subframe that links the rear suspension and gearbox directly to the chassis which kept the rear suspension and gearbox in place when the engine was removed.

Thanks for joining me on this primer car edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


On the Origins of Brands – Riley & Wolseley

Today I am looking at two storied brands Riley & Wolseley born out of industrial diversification which were woven into that DNA of the nationalised merger British Motor Corporation in 1952.

From 1961 – 1969 they marketed top end 3 box versions, featuring wood veneer dashboards, of the Mini known as the Elf and Hornet respectively.

In 1896 William Riley jr purchased the Bonnick Cycle Company of Coventry which was born out of the cycling craze that swept England in 1890 and renamed it Riley Cycle Company.

Williams son Percy secretly built his first car, featuring an engine with the the worlds first mechanically operated inlet valve, in 1898 aged just 16.

Percy who also patented the detachable wheel went into business with his brothers forming the Riley Engine Company in 1903 supplying motorcycle engines and in 1905 they built their first car.

During restructuring in 1918 Riley car manufacture was transferred to Riley Motor Manufacturing which went into receivership in 1938 and was absorbed into the Nuffield Organisation along with Morris and MG, which in 1952 would merge with Herbert Austin’s companies into the nationalised BMC.

By 1947 Riley had ceased manufacturing it’s own designs and became a top end brand for shared designs in the Nuffield and later BMC organisations.

The Riley brand is easily identified by its blue diamond badge originally designed by Harry Rush with the strap line ‘As old as the industry, as modern as the hour’, was discontinued in 1969 and currently belongs to BMW.

Between 1961 and 1969 30,912 Riley Elfs were built.

In 1896 Herbert Austin working for the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company made a copy of a Leon Bollee vehicle that he had seen in Paris. By 1899 he had built a Voiturette that went into production in 1901 with Herbert Austin in charge of the Wolseley car division that had by now been spun off as an independent concern.

In 1905 Herbert Austin left to set up his own Austin Motor Company.

After several mergers and changes of ownership the Wolseley Motor Company came into existence in 1914 in the hands of Armstrong Siddeley. At this time operations were started in Toronto and Montreal which became British and American Motors after WW1.

In 1918 Wolseley started a joint venture with Ishikawajiama Ship Building and Engineering for the production of Wolseley models under license, in 1947 this venture became Isuzu.

In 1927 William Morris (Lord Nuffield) purchased Wolseley outbidding his rival Herbert Austin and General Motors using his own money.

Woseley became another top end brand for shared designs after WW2 and would become part of the merged BMC a combination of the assets of William Morris and Herbert Austin who between them had been responsible for the rise of much of the British motor industry.

The brand disappeared in 1975 the last model being a wedge shape forerunner of the Austin Princess which was in production for just 7 months.

Today the brand is owned by Nanjing Automobile Group along with the assets of the MG Rover Group. The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company is today known as Wolseley plc.

28,455 Wolseley Hornets pictured above were built between 1961 and 1969.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s post, don’t forget to come back now !