Tag Archives: Hamblin

Tax Minimising Special – Healey Duncan Drone

Upon the completion of his studies in mechanical engineering Ian Duncan joined the Bristol Aeroplane Company where he was promoted to chief technical assistant to chief engineer Roy Fedden in 1940.

Two years later Roy and Ian left Bristol to visit the US where they studied aero engine production methods on behalf of the British government.

Healey Duncan Drone, Castle Combe

Back in the UK Ian joined Roy at Roy Fedden Ltd in Cheltenham which was set up with a view to designing and building a flat 6 aero engine, a gas turbine engine and an idiosyncraticvehicle with a three cylinder radial engine at the back driving the rear wheels through a torque converter with Alex Mouton designed rubber suspension for the road wheels.

It is not known if lack of finance or conceptual differences led Ian and Roy to part ways, but by the end of the war Ian had briefly joined his brothers canning machine company before founding Duncan Industries (Engineers) Ltd, with former Fedden employees including Frank Hamblin and Alan Lamburn based 130 miles north east of London in the little Norfolk town of North Walsham.

Healey Duncan Drone, Castle Combe

Ian was inspired to build a much smaller vehicle, than what turned out to be the extremely unstable Fedden, more in the mould of the American Crosley micro car, from whom he ordered five 10″ wheels and tyres around which he based his Dragonfly prototype.

Despite only being 10′ 9 1/2″ long and 4′ 1 1/2″ tall the Dragonfly was bristling with novelties including three abreast seating, a transversely mounted BSA 500 cc motor cycle engine driving the front wheels through a chain driven differential with half shafts and French designed constant velocity joints, the only thing the Dragonfly shared in common with the Fedden was Alex Moulton designed rubber suspension.

Healey Duncan Drone, Castle Combe

In order to fund the building of the Dragonfly prototype Duncan Industries bought three Riley powered Healey chassis and curiously chose to modify bodies from a Hillman Minx, Ford Anglia and Ford Popular for each respectively.

A scaled up version of the Dragonfly body was then fitted to an Alvis chassis and 23 further Healey’s were fitted with similarly scaled up Dragonfly saloon bodies plus one convertible as were 29 more Alvis chassis, several Daimler’s, Bentley’s and at least one Allard.

Healey Duncan Drone, Castle Combe

In an effort to encourage British manufacturers to find markets for their products abroad the Government introduced a 66.6% sales tax on vehicles costing more than £1,000 in 1947.

With the Duncan Dragonfly based bodied vehicles all costing far in excess of this Duncan produced a bargain basement Drone body for which the windscreen, passenger seat and spare wheel were all listed as extra’s to keep the price down for the domestic market.

Healey Duncan Drone, Castle Combe

By cutting out every luxury the power to weight ratio of the Drone bodied Healey’s made them ideal for competition and today’s featured Drone was one of four Healey’s that took part in the 1949 Mille Miglia.

This particular car took the start at 6:25 am with James Cohen and Reg Hingett aboard. 35kms later Reg was dead after the car collided with a bridge and while James would eventually be repatriated back to the UK, he too would succumb to his injuries.

Healey Duncan Drone, Castle Combe

Repairs to the 1947 chassis seen here at a Castle Combe Classic & Retro Action Day were not completed until 2013.

Today’s featured car is one of just two Drones believed to have survived from the 15 known to have been built.

Thanks for joining me on this “Tax Minimising Special” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be looking at another Indy car. Don’t forget to come back now !


Classics At The Castle – Sherborne Castle

Sherborne Castle is a 16th Century Tudor Mansion built for Sir Walter Raleigh who leased the grounds of the ruined old Castle from the crown in 1592. Last weekend David Root, wearing his Italian Auto Moto Club hat, kindly invited me to Sherborne Castle to visit a very busy Classics at the Castle event.

Lancia Delta Integrale, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

As one might expect from the grounds of such a storied estate many interesting automotive stories, myths and legends emerged from the day. The Lancia Delta Integrale seen above parked next to David’s Lenham Alfa was painted pearlescent white when it was purchased by Lance Bombardier Mark (Bing) Chandler several years ago. Mark intended to return the car to it’s original factory specification however before he could fulfill that dream he was killed in action in the Helmand province of Afghanistan while protecting the local population from insurgent intimidation. In memory to their son Marks parents have had the Lancia restored to it’s original factory specification.

Hamblin Cadet, Toyota 4Runner, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

As can be seen by the striking contrast between the Austin 7 Hamblin Cadet and the second generation Toyota 4Runner Sunday’s event catered for a diverse range of motoring tastes.

Aston Martin (???), Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

Some years ago the special above was labeled as being the Aston Martin DP155 however once some experts has compared it to period photo’s of DP155, a car that was raced in New Zealand by Reg Parnell in 1956, it was noticed the driver sat in a central position atop the transmission in DP155 and that a number of other features of the special in my photograph above did not match the description of DP155. The mystery of this specials identity has still not been solved four years after this linked thread was started on The Nostalgia Forum.

AC (Brooklands) Ace 1986 Concept, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

The AC (Brooklands) Ace above was the first of two Ace prototypes, the car seen above was also known at the “Ace of Spades” featured a Ford Taraus V6 motor and all wheel drive. Curiously both the prototype Aces, the second second Ace prototype is powered by a Lotus Engine and was built in 1997, are coming up for auction at Dorset Vintage & Classic Auction on September 20th.

Ford Escort, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

Despite being born in an age where Ian Gilmore once told his sound engineers “We want everything louder than everything else”, it’s been a while since I sat in a vehicle with a hi fidelity system big enough to host a rave, I remember the first time I did so, in 1990, I played Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No:3 in G and was very moved despite not turning the volume passed the number 4 on the dial. The four door Escort Mark V is reminiscent of the 2 door Project 2000 Ford Escort Mk VI RS2000 built by Max Power magazine towards the end of the last century.

Daimler 32 hp, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

According to the blurb in the window of this 1937 32hp Daimler “… is widely repudiated to be the personal transport of King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor and Mrs Wallis Simpson following his abdication and exile to France.” An odd use of the word repudiate which I have neither been able to refute or repute.

MG RV8 GT, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

Perversely while the original 1973-1976 MGB V8 was only available with a GT Coupé body while the retro 1993-1995 MG RV8 was only available with a Roadster body. Some enthusiasts have taken it into their own hands to bring older GT’s up to RV8 spec complete with all the lower body panels from the newer model like the owner of the 1972 GT above which features a 190 hp 3947 cc / 240.8 cui RV8 motor.

AC 2 litre Saloon, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

With an 85 hp aluminium block motor with origins that date back to 1922, solid front and rear axles and a wooden frame to carry the body the 1955 AC 2 litre Saloon was not exactly ground braking, but it did handle and perform well with an 80 mph top speed, though not as well as the contemporary Bristol 403 which was capable of over 100 mph.

Bentley Mulsanne, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

David and i looked at each other in disbelief as bidding got underway for Lot 15 a 1987 Bentley Mulsanne previously owned by Geoffrey Rose chairman of the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) got underway for just £1,500 in the Charterhouse Auctions tent. Surprisingly what must be nearly a 3 ton vehicle finally went to someone for just £2,300 excluding the auctioneers commission. That is a lot of car for not much money, though taxing it and keeping it running for a year might cost a lot more than the car is actually worth.

Austin Healey (Uncobra), Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

Over a year ago some of you may remember I attended a Piston Heads meeting in the car park of the BMW factory, for the Classics in the Castle event the Piston Heads were asked to organise a classic and sports car run, the vehicles that took part in this event with in an event is deserving of it’s own blog which I may get round to when there are not quite so many events to cover in the off season. Among my favorites was this 1954 Austin Healey 100 BN1 which was first fitted with a Chevrolet V8 by Greg Gatehouse in California around 1965. It is now on it’s third V8 a Fastco 6276 cc / 383 cui crate unit. Amongst the other interesting upgrades is an button actuated hydraulic handbrake which replaces the conventional cable operated system.

F.N. Roadster, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

FN are well known Belgian manufactuers of fire arms, in the early twentieth century they also manufactured cars and motorcycles. Above is a 1912 FN Roadster that was taking part in a smaller Vintage Run which also finished at Sherborne Castle last Sunday.

Club Winners, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne Castle

Disappointingly there was no Concours d’Elegance or even an audience vote for a popular car but the stands of the various clubs taking part were judged in a competition with the Austin A30/A35 owners club coming third, Porsche Club GB second and Wessex Ferrari being awarded first prize.

Many thanks to David Root and the members of the Italian Auto Moto Club who made today’s blog possible, and to Tim Murray who pointed me in the right direction regarding the green open wheel special.

Thanks for joining me on this “Classics At The Castle” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when all being well I be bringing you the latest from this weekends Silverstone Classic event. Don’t forget to come back now !


Rare Breeds – Haynes International Motor Museum

Last Sunday I made a ‘little’ detour to the Rare Breeds Car Show at the Haynes International Motor Museum on the way to the airport to pick up some friends.

Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Among the 70 odd vehicles on display were half a dozen Formula 500’s some 50’s (UK) Stock Car replica’s, for those in the US these are more like 1/4 mile paved and dirt Late Sportsman race cars than NASCARs Stock Cars, and a number of interesting vehicles one is unlikely on an average everyday commute.

Austin 3 Litre, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Around 10,000 Austin 3 litre vehicles nicknamed ‘Land Lobsters’ were built between 1968 and 1971 which though well appointed were no competition for the similarly sized Triumphs, Rovers and Jaguars which would soon all become merged into the same nationalised British Leyland conglomerate. There are thought to be around 60 of these vehicles left and this one has been in the Stephen’s family since new.

Austin 7 Hamblin 7 Cadet, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Some of you may remember my blog on the wreck of a Bowden Super Two I wrote some months ago, this is an Austin 7 Hamblin Cadet with the smaller body that the Bowden Super Two bodywork was based on. At £34.10/- this was the cheapest bodywork on the market, it was made to fit pre war Austin 7’s. The owner of this car is the son of Sid Hamblin who founded the SE Hamblin company and personally built this car.

Austin Mini Wildgoose, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

The Austin Mini Wildgoose RV has also featured on GALPOT before, this is a 1967 model with larger wraparound cabin windows and a tilting roof incorporating canvas sides, looks a little less like an airport control tower than the original. This particular vehicle has had the original 850 cc / 51.8 cui motor replaced with a 1275 cc / 77 cui unit and gearing to match so that it can easily cruise above the minimum motorway speed limit of 50 mph.

DKW 1000S

My Uncle in Germany had a DKW 1000S before he swapped it for a more versatile square back. These two stroke powered cars were relatively expensive in the UK so not many were in imported although Jim Clark made his racing debut driving a DKW before going on to win two World Championships and the Indy 500. This Left Hand Drive (LHD) model was imported from Sweden via Norway.

Fordson 7A, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

From 1933 – 1939 Ford commercial vehicles in the UK were badged Fordson. This Fordson 7V served as an auxiliary fire tender during World War 2. Because of it’s relatively powerful V8 motor 7V’s were much in demand for use as racing car transporters after hostilities ceased.

Model 48 Ford, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

E691 is a replica of Nev Hughes 1935 Model 48 Ford raced, in 1955, built by Keith Barber. Current owner Roy Clarke rescued it in 2006 and it recently featured, as did several of the vehicles seen in the back ground in an advertisement for the Audi R8 V10 Spyder. It can be seen painted black with red stripes under the ‘B9’ at 1m 01 secs in this clip.

Gaz, M21 Volga, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Also featured in an earlier post has been a GAZ M21 Volga, this 1962 model one of only two known to be in the UK is in considerably better condition than the one I featured on the former East German border in 2006.

Lafitte 5CV, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Described as very difficult to drive this RHD Lafitte 5CV Cycle Car is positively bristling with innovative technology starting with an inverted Y 3 cylinder air cooled radial engine that tilts with a hand mechanism in order alter to the friction driven gear ratio. The Lafitte has way ahead of it’s time independent front suspension but no foot brakes ! This car has recently been certified as roadworthy for the first time since 1964 but the owner thought discretion was the better part of valour and brought this amazing device to the show on a trailer.

Spirit Gordini M3, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

There seems to be a lot of interest in triking at the moment stimulating no doubt Morgan’s recent return to the manufacture of trikes. For those who cannot afford Morgan’s starting price their are plenty of alternatives. The front wheel drive Spirit Gordini M3 started life as two separate front wheel drive Renault 5 / Le Car models one ’79 tother ’85.

Tornado Talisman, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Another new manufacturer to me is Tornado apparently founded in 1957 in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire by Bill Woodhouse and Tony Bullen. Amazingly this car had lain awaiting restoration when it’s owner passed aeay and thanks to the Faithorpe Sports Car Club it was passed on to Bill Woodhouse who did not know what to do with it until two gap year students the Hillier brothers took it upon themselves to rebuild the car in order to gain engineering experience under the guidance of the current owner and founder of the company Mr Woodhouse. The Talisman is one of 186 Ford powered examples made.

Triumph Spitfire Special, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Finally my car of the day award goes to this Triumph Spitfire based Special made by Martin Harcourt using an English Wheel and alot of effort to make the polished aluminium panels on this unique single seater. When it’s complete Martin hopes to use his shiny special in sprints and hill climbs. I am sure he will have plenty of fun with it.

Thanks for joining me on this Rare Breeds edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Double Cream – Bowden Super Two

Staying in the theme of forgotten marques the subject of today’s blog is Bowden, the brainchild of one of the UK’s largest retailers of Specials vehicles Les Montgomery of Super Accessories in Bromley, Kent.

Les brought together the Bowden Chassis manufactured in Ottery St Mary, Devon designed to take a 4 cylinder Ford 1172 cc / 71 cui side valve motor then an engine of choice amongst specials builders also used by the likes of Lotus enthusiasts, and fit it with an enlarged Hamblin Cadet body which up to that time had been manufactured by Syd Hamblin of Sherbourne, Dorset to fit to Austin Seven chassis.

The Bowden Super Two kit is alleged to have been sold less power train at £99 / $ 250.

The F and CA letters suggest this vehicle might have a race history in the Sports Car Club of America Class F, if anybody recognises this vehicle please chime in below.

Less than 200 Bowden Super Two’s are thought to have been built in the same time frame, 1960 – 1962, as the subject of yesterdays blog the Warwick.

Of all the vehicles I saw at Race Retro at the weekend I found this one particularly appealing having not heard of the manufacturer before, having a patina that if I had the resources I’d do my best to preserve while getting the car back into tip top shape and for being a relatively rare original.

Thanking my acquaintances at The Nostalgia Forum for their assistance with today’s blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s double cream edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me to again tomorrow on Ferrari Friday for the second and final episode of the Millionaire Mystery. Don’t forget to come back now !