Towards the end of 1963 former British Rally Champion and Racing Driver John Sprinzel joined forces with noted engineer and Morgan racer Chris Lawrence, under the Sprintzel Lawrence Racing (SLR) banner, to design and build a sports car based on a Triumph TR4 powered ladder frame Morgan +4, with a similar chassis to the one that Chris had co driven with Richard Shepherd – Barron to a class victory at Le Mans in 1962.
(Triumph TR4 SLR, Photo Courtesy David Lawson)
From what I can gather Triumph racer John Hurrell managed to secure some funding for the SLR team and after seeing Chris Spenders drawings for the proposed Williams and Pritchard built bodywork for the Morgan & Triumph SLR car John asked if a similar SLR body could be fitted to his Triumph TR4 that he had been racing since 1960.
As things worked out the Triumph with a slightly shorter chassis was the first to be taken to Williams and Pritchard to have an aluminium SLR body built around it. Neil Dangerfield is known to have been winning races in this car as late as 1967 and the Triumph SLR went down in the record books as being the last to leave the start line at Goodwood as the scratch entry in the last, handicap, race held at the Circuit before it closed in 1966.
Neil drove the Triumph SLR 31 years later at the request of Lord March on a 3 lap demonstration when the Goodwood circuit was reopened in 2006.
Note the registration SAH 137 was originally issued to a Triumph TR3A owned by Jim Hurrell who transferred the number to the Triumph TR4 that was fitted with the SLR body and later sold it to Neil.
(Morgan & Triumph SLR I, Photo Courtesy Bob Bull)
The first of the Morgan SLR’s powered by a Triumph TR4 engine and featuring beefed up hubs along with the benefits of other lessons learned from Chris Lawrence’s Le Mans experience appears to have been built around a 1961 chassis for Gordon Spice a well known figure in British racing circles who eventually built and ran his own Spice Group C cars in the late 1980’s.
After just 3 laps of Goodwood Gordon crashed his new car in 1964, necessitating a complete rebuild making this red car both the first and last of the Morgan chassied SLR’s built. In 1975 then owner Sir Aubery Brocklebank suffered burns after a fuel leak in this car caught fire at Silverstone. The car was subsequently painted fire engine red.
(Morgan & Triumph SLR II)
The second Morgan and Triumph SLR was built for Pip Arnold, legend has it that this car was never painted because soon after delivery it was due to be raced at Spa and so the aluminium bodywork was merely polished. In the early seventies this car was caught in a severe garage fire and rebuilt by well known fabricator of racing cars Maurice Gnomm.
(Morgan & Triumph SLR III, Photo Courtesy Bob Bull)
The third car was built for Chris Lawrence himself and set an all time class lap record at the very last race meeting held at Goodwood in 1966. Chris Lawrences old car also won a race during the Goodwood Revival in 2006.
(L-R John Emberson, SLR II, Bill Wykeham, Billy Bellinger, SLR III, Jack Bellinger, Simon Orebi Gann, SLR I, Rick Bourne, Photo Courtesy Richard Gilbert)
All three of the Morgan And Triumph SLR’s were united possibly for the first time ever at the 2010 Silverstone Classic. As John Sprinzel rhetorically asked after seeing these photo’s “They were good looking cars weren’t they?”
From The Nostalgia Forum I’d like to thank David Lawson and Bob ‘Bauble’ Bull for the use of their photographs, Pete Stowe, Kurt O and Sharman for responding to my TNF Triumph SLR thread garyfrogeye for contacting John Sprinzel and Tim of the Willliams and Pritchard website for their kind replies.
Thanks also to Andy Downes and in particular Neil Dangerfield of the tr- register forum for his post on the order in which the cars were built to Richard ‘redmorgan’ Gilbert for the use of his photo, John “sprinty” and Steve N22MOG L and everyone at Talk Morgan who responded to my post.
Thanks for joining me on this SLR edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at an exotic Italian that needs a cool pagoda airbox to cover a big block V8. Don’t forget to come back now !
11 11 11 Post Script John Sprinzel has kindly in formed me that the three Morgan SLR’s first had a reunion at Goodwood several years ago.