Tag Archives: Lester

Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club Autumn Sprint- Debden Airfield

At the beginning of October I received an e-mail asking for volunteers to marshal at the Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint being run at Debden Airfield in Essex, a couple of days later I received a request to attend an interview in Scunthorpe and proposed to the Clerk of the course Pete Walters that if he could find me somewhere to stay on the night after the event I would be delighted to go up from Bristol to help out.

Ford Escort RS1600_6187sc

Lionel Reeves kindly stepped forward to offer me accommodation and so off I trekked to Debden the day after the Autumn Classic at Castle Combe. Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club established in 1903, the year the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight, is one of the oldest in the county, the Aero refers to the sport of ballooning. Among the random selection of cars I photographed is the immaculate 1974 #62 Ford Escort which finished 3rd in class B10 driven by Howard Lester.

Leyland Mini Clubman, Julian Kirwan, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Julian Kirwan finished second in Class A3 driving the 1970 #16 Mini Clubman with a 1400 cc / 85.4 cui engine.

Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo Hatchback, Tim Morrison, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Flying the flag for Estates / Wagons was Tim Morrison driving his 2003 #38 Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo Hatchback, who was classified 3rd in class A6.

Ford Escort 1300 GL Auto, Charlie French, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Kicking up the dust above in his #63 Ford Escort Mk2, which I believe has been modified from it’s original 1980 1300 GL Auto spec, is Charlie French who finished 4th in class.

Davrian Imp Saloon, John Webster,Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

I’m looking forward to finding out about the history of John Websters #71 Davrian Imp Saloon in the fullness of time, on this occasion he finished second in Class C12.

Merlyn Mk 30, Colin Glass, Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club, Autumn Sprint, Debden Airfield, Essex

Finally Colin Glass won class D16 in his Merlyn Formula Ford with what I believe is 1977 Mk 30 bodywork, fastest time of the day was set by Tony Beesley in his 1 litre / 61 cui Jedi Mk 4.

My thanks to everyone at the Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club who made me feel most welcome and especially Lionel and Margret Reeves for their hospitality.

Thanks for joining me on this “Hertfordshire County Auto & Aero Club Autumn Sprint” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Talbot Matra. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Export Drive – Type T-51 Lester ‘MG’

One of many successful post ’39 – ’49 war specials builders was Harry Lester who ran a number of modified MG’s from his garage on the Bath Road in Thatcham, Berkshire.

Lester MG T51, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial, Gurston Down

In 1949 he built his first twin tube ladder frame chassis which formed the basis of the first Lester MG using proprietary MG motor, gearbox, axles, suspension and brakes.

Lester MG T51, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial, Gurston Down

The success of this car led Harry to build his first Type T-51 chassis in 1951, which he described at the time as “developed through practical research and sports car racing and is now being built in limited quantity for almost 100% export purposes.”

Lester MG T51, Penfound, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial, Gurston Down

Not all of his cars were exported as intended with many success being recorded in the UK by the ‘Monkey Stable’ founded by Harry and Jim Mayers who’s drivers included Pat Griffith, Mike Keen, Ken Ruddock, Les Leston and others, their outstanding achievement being a Team award in the 1952 Goodwood 9 Hours where they finished 1st 2nd and 3rd in the 1500 cc / 91.5 cui class.

Lester MG T51, Penfound, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial, Gurston Down

It would appear many different body styles were fitted to the Lester’s which included two coupes one powered by an MG XPAG motor and another by the emergent Coventry Climax motor.

Lester MG T51, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial, Gurston Down

It is thought somewhere between 10 and 18 Lesters of all types were built up to September 1955 when Harry Lester lost interest in racing and building racing cars after the death of Monkey Stable co founder Jim Mayers at the wheel of a Cooper at Dundrod.

Stewart Penfound’s example seen here at Gurston Down last year was possibly one of the last T 51’s to be completed, it is listed as being first registered in June 1955.

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


Maserati Looks – Dargue MG Magnette

Tom Dargue was an amateur racing driver who’s career spanned from at least 1937 when he raced a Fraser Nash BMW at Donington Park where he came second, until 1955 when he raced today’s featured car, known then as an MG TD Special, of his own design at Silverstone in the AMOC David Brown Cup a relay handicap race in which he finished 3rd overall and 1st in the Relay.

Dargue MG Magnette, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

By at least 1949 Tom appears to have switched to racing MG’s and MG powered machines racing an unspecified MG to 3rd at Goodwood in 1949 a feat repeated in 1950 when he raced one of only 7 MG NE racing models built in 1934.

Dargue MG Magnette, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

For 1951 Tom built his own car with a tube frame chassis apparently with help from well known MG Tuner and racer Bill Lester. In it’s original specification the car was fitted with a rudimentary two seater body with a signature Ferrari like chip cutter grill and cycle mudguards.

Dargue MG Magnette, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

The MG TD Special was powered by a prewar 1100cc supercharged motor, possibly a 6 cylinder similar to that found in a K3 Magnette and various parts more commonly found on MG Y types.

Dargue MG Magnette, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

Tom’s debut in the car at Goodwood in 1951 netted another 3rd place finish but in 1952 he found his way to victory lane at Snetterton and Silverstone in between many podium finishes. Success at Silverstone was repeated in 1953 and the cars final victory was in the September 1953 National Handicap race at Goodwood.

Dargue MG Magnette, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

During the winter of 1953/54 TD Special was overhauled with the super charged pre WW2 motor being replaced with a contemporary 4 cylinder MG 1500 cc / 91.5 cui XPAG motor of the type used to power the MG TF 1500.

Dargue MG Magnette, 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, Gurston Down

The original two seat cycle wing body found it’s way on to another special which Tom splashed out a rumoured £400 on the aluminium body seen on the car today which resembles a Maserati A6GCS. I would not mind betting that this body came from Williams & Pritchard who like Tom Dargue were based in North London, but that is idle speculation on my part.

Tom raced his 115 mph rebodied car still known as an MG TD Special through to 1955 but was losing ground particularly to Coventry Climax powered Lotus models.

Department of Transport records tell us the registration number came from an MG Magnette first registered on Valentines day 1935.

Current owner Chris Pamplin bought the car in 1967 and is seen driving it at last years 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend run at Gurston Down.

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


5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend – Gurston Down

On Sunday I made the first of what I hope will be many visits to Gurston Down for the 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend hillclimb. Gurston Down just west of Salisbury is set on a working farm and was devised by six time British Hillclimb champion Tony Marsh in 1965.

Gurston Down, Wiltshire

The course is just over a half a mile long and rises a total 140 feet, it is also the only Hillclimb in the UK that starts on a downward slope. As I found out on Sunday the facilities and viewing areas are excellent and it is no surprise to hear that Gurston Down has won the Norrie Galbraith Memorial Trophy for best organised British Hillclimb Championship event a record eight times.

Mortimer, Porsche 911, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

After a cup of tea and obligatory bacon and egg roll in the excellent restaurant on arrival I made my way up to the Ashes Bend towards the top of the hill during the opening practice runs arriving in time to observe the second practice runs. Above Bob Mortimer lifts an inside front wheel in his Porsche 911 at the apex of Ashes.

Gates, Force LM, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

On his second practice run Johnathon Gates was forced into a bit of lawn mowing at Ashes bend as the back of his car stepped out unexpectedly under braking. No damage was done and he ended the day with 8th fastest time.

Rudge, Westfield SEi, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Mike Rudge is seen correcting oversteer / push coming out of Ashes in his Westfield SEi, he easily won his class by seven seconds more surprisingly to me he finished with 9th fastest time of the day beating a number of single seat open wheel cars in the process.

Stapely-Bealing, Formula 1300, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

During her second practice run Hannah Stapely-Bealing came by showing signs of contact with the Wiltshire scenery however the car was repaired and put in two timed runs, however the motor of her Formula 1300 Clubmans car was no longer running cleanly and she was around a second off her first practice run.

Bloody Mary, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

National Motor Museum Beaulieu kindly sent along former Autosport Technical Editor John Bolsters “Bloody Mary” Special for a welcome demonstration. The special started as a project for two teenagers to scare the cow’s in a nearby field and became a successful if by all accounts rather terrifying Brough Superior powered hill climb winner.

Penfound, Lester MG, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

I was introduced to another new, to me, manufacturer at Gurston namely Lester who built MG powered cars in the 1950’s. Stewart Penfound navigates the steep and tight Karousel in his example above.

Pamplin, MG XPAG Special, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Another interesting MG was Chris Pamplin’s MG XPAG Special as listed in the programme and 1935 MG Magnette according to the registration plate.

Spicer, Ferrari 328 GTB, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Standing out from an otherwise mostly red crowd of Ferrari’s was Mike Spicers Modena Yellow 328 GTB seen approaching Deer Leap which recorded 2nd fastest Ferrari time of the day.

Fanner, Subaru Impreza, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Lewis Fanner will have given his wife with whom he shares their Subaru Impreza a scare as he spun the car going into Karousel. Fortunately he did not hit anything and returned to the paddock for his one remaining run.

Hadfield, Lotus 22, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Simon Hadfield and Geoff Hunt shared this Lotus 22, originally designed for Formula Junior competition, and finished the faster of the two albiet second in class to the more modern Ensign LNF3 driven by Fyrth Crosse.

Beale, Ginetta G33, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Over the past couple of months the lines of Graham Beales class winning Ginetta G33 have really grown on me, apparently the idea for the Rover V8 powered car was conceived on a table cloth in a pizzeria by Mark Warklett and Noel Palmer.

Street, Ford Escort XR31, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Darren Street was another who found the entry to Karousel a bit tricky in his Ford Escort XR3i, here he is seen on his way to an appointment with the hay bales. Fortunately he suffered no injuries and he eventually drove to the top of the hill under his own steam.

Lewis, St Bruno Roughcutter,  Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Like the Bloody Mary Special Adrian Lewis’s St Bruno Roughcutter Clubman’s car has an Autosport connection it being the creation of Barry Foley, best known as Autosports ‘Catchpole’ cartoonist. Barry built the car in the early 1970’s crediting help from a variety of sources including design input from Maurice Phillipe himself a part time Clubmans racer when not busy designing Formula One cars.

Dent, Hornet F3,  Gurston Down, Wiltshire

On both of his timed runs Alistair Dent lost time when his tail got onto the grass on the exit of Karousel, which had the benefit of at least entertaining those of us watching, above Alistair is seen on his first run in the Hornet JAP powered 500 F3 car.

Chard, Mazda MX5, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

By for the most serious incident of the day was when Karl Chard left the road at Karousel and ended up going straight into the hay bales. Fortunately again Karl was unhurt which is more than can be said for the Mazda MX 5 which he shares with his brother Ian. At least all the wheels were still attached.

Flagg, Subaru Impreza STi, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

David Flagg lost 3/10ths of a second on his second timed run this display of wheel spin from his Subaru on the run to Deer Leap probably did not help his cause.

Hollier, Pilbeam MP62, Gurston Down, Wiltshire

Edward Hollier set best time of the day (BTD) running the course in 29.19 seconds in his Pilbeam MP62, both of his runs were quicker than the next fastest competitor Peter Smith who was driving a Force in the same class as Edward. Coincidentally Ed won last time that I saw him running at Wiscombe Park last month.

Another great day out at yet another great venue, if you have never been I doubt you will be disappointed.

Thanks for joining me on this “5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Shameless plug my British Grand Preview can be found at Motorsports Unplugged on this link.


The Worlds Oldest Bristol ? – Bristol 16/20 Type T Tourer

Every once in a while I stumble across something that leaves me speechless as I struggle to ditch old assumptions and or beliefs. Until I visited the M-Shed Museum on the sight of Bristols Docks last week I was absolutely convinced that the oldest car bearing the “Bristol” name dated back to no earlier than 1947 in the shape of a Bristol 400 not unlike the 1948 example that featured in very first post 2 years ago.

Bristol 16/20 Type T Tourer, M Shed, Bristol

So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the placard for this 1906 Bristol 16/20 Type T Tourer that was manufactured in 1906 by the Bristol Motor Company !

Bristol 16/20 Type T Tourer, M Shed, Bristol

It turns out that the Bristol Motor Company was founded by a cycle maker William Appleby and his assistant Arthur Johnson and that the company built at least four different models between 1902 and 1908 when they focused on distributing motor vehicles for other manufacturers including Morris from whom Johnson was to order their first model having only seen the blueprints.

Bristol 16/20 Type T Tourer, M Shed, Bristol

Only 18 hand built 16/20 models are thought to have been built, this 1906 example is fitted with coachwork by Perry & Co who used to operate in Stokes Croft from a site that has long been an eyesore in the area thanks to a fire that destroyed an abandoned office block that stands behind the coach works frontage.

Bristol 16/20 Type T Tourer, M Shed, Bristol

Colonel William Rolleston is thought to have replaced his horse drawn carriage with this car which was chauffeur driven by a Mr Harold King. 14 years after it was first purchased the Colonels car was converted into a pick up for an engineering company in Bedminster called Keetch & Turner.

The car eventually found its way on to blocks on a farm and one of the rear wheels was attached to a drive belt which powered a sawbench. The Bristol Motor Company which had long since stopped manufacturing motor vehicles acquired the car again and in 1937 presented it to Bristol Museum.

Fred Lester and Bob Lewis are responsible for restoring the car to it’s former glory.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Worlds Oldest Bristol ?” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1949 MG. Don’t forget to come back now !


You can’t go wrong with a Bristol under the bonnet – Lister Bristol

It’s a great pleasure to present another couple of photo’s today by Ed Arnaudin courtesy of his son Steve.

In 1954 Brian Lister produced an MG powered sports car at his Cambridge iron works for Archie Scott Brown to drive. Disappointed with the results on it’s debut Brian had a 6 cylinder 2 litre Bristol engine installed and Archie won his class next time out at a meeting supporting the 1954 British Grand Prix beating half a dozen more powerful C-type Jaguars.

For 1955 a handful Lister Bristol’s were built for customers and the vehicle pictured at Thompson CT is one of those cars, driven to a class win on 20th July 1958 by Ray Cuomo who raced a huge variety of interesting vehicles from the mid 50’s to mid 70’s.

The #132 in the back ground top picture is the Lester MG driven by F Stone and the #32 is an Alfa Romeo Veloce driven by R Anderson in a different race.

My thanks to Vince H and Terry O’Neil at The Nostalgia Forum for helping me with some of the background information and as ever to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for taking and furnishing these photographs.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Bristol powered edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, tomorrow I hope you will join me tomorrow for a look at an unusual Bristol 401.