Tag Archives: Reading

Rebel With Out A Clue – FIAT 128 1100 2 Door Saloon

Today’s featured FIAT 128 1100 2 Door Saloon was first registered in the UK between 1st of August 1970 and the 31st of July 1971 we know this because of the ‘J’ suffix in the registration number, the 2nd and third letters CJ tell us that the car was first registered in the Norwich area about 100 miles North East of London.

In the Spring of 1978 my Grandmother came over to London from Germany and kindly gave me a small sum of cash to buy my first car.

My idea was to spend it on a cheap to run and insure Citroën 2CV which I knew from a friends experience had no go, but was great fun getting there all the same.

My civil engineer Dad had other idea’s, he did not want his one and only to be at risk driving a French tin can on wheels and promised to pay the insurance if I bought something a little more substantial.

I suggested a FIAT 124 like the one I had learned to drive in Zambia, but eventually settled for the front wheel drive 128 seen below which had made it’s way down from Norwich to Uxbridge.

FIAT 128, Haselmere,

The car was originally maroon, a scrape against a fence post was all the excuse I needed to invest heavily in body filler and spray paint to end up with the refrigerator white and bright red paint job seen above.

With hindsight it is amazing my lungs survived two days locked up in a tiny garage with 10 tins of spray paint and little if anything in the way of fume protection.

In case you are wondering I was trying to make the car look something like Niki Lauda’s 1976 Ferrari 312T2, with more time and perhaps a spot of green paint I am sure I would have got there… eventually !

All though the car had half an areal it did not come with a radio or speakers, so an old radio compact cassette combination system served as my ICE, in car entertainment.

Among the many excursions I made in the car I visited Silverstone for the 1978 USAC race won by AJ Foyt, 1979 Six Hour Race won by John Fitzpatrick, Hans Heyer and Brilliant Bob Wollek driving a Gelo Porsche 935 and the 1979 British Grand Prix won by Clay Regazzoni driving a Williams FW07.

Then there was Reading Rock ’79 where Mike and the mechanics with both Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel on stage, The Cure, Molly Hatchet, Motörhead, Scorpions, Eurythmics, the Police and DJ John Peel kept us entertained for my first weekend of unadulterated debauchery, it was so bad I could not remember my own phone number on the way home and finally Knebworth Park for the second of the two Led Zepplin gigs.

The following spring I was hoping to do more of the same, but although the car passed it’s MOT it started falling to bit’s after I gently parked it up a kerb outside a friends flat in Earls Court.

Later that evening I was visiting another friend down in Haselmere when strange noises started coming out of the front of the car, the suspension was collapsing.

I took it to a garage and they showed me that the frame to which the suspension arms were mounted was completely rotten and they advised me this was true on the other side and rather than bodge a repair I’d be better off spending the money on another car, reluctantly I agreed.

Thanks for joining me on this “Rebel Without A Clue” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at the last of the current Saturday series of GN Specials. Don’t forget to come back now !


Buckler Framed – Smith Special Mk2

Over the coming Saturday’s I’ll be looking a few vehicles built by Buckler of Reading including today’s Smith Special Mk2 500 Formula 3 car for which Buckler built the space frame in 1950.

‘500’ Formula 3 was a low cost formula devised by a group of enthusiasts working for the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the 1939-45 war. After the cessation of hostilities the group organised an event at the wartime Silverstone Aerodrome in 1946 which had to decamp to the nearby grounds of Lord Hesketh where a hill climb was run for open wheelers with 500 cc / 30.5 cui motorcycle motors.

Ken Smith built his first Smith Special in 1948 to run in the class and after this was damaged at Brands Hatch in October 1950 Ken ordered a new one off frame from Buckler in Reading to build the Smith Special Mk2.

Smith Special Mk2, de la Roche, Oulton Park

The 9′ 10″ car with the chain drive Norton transmission was powered by a mid mounted Norton twin cam shaft motor fed by two two fuel tanks one a 1 1/2 gallon gravity tank over the motor and another 7 1/4 gallon saddle tank mounted over the drivers legs from which fuel was directed to the gravity tank by a fuel pump.

The suspension featured upper transverse leaf springs and lower wishbones, the road wheels, front brakes, steering box, steering column and track rods were sourced from a FIAT while the brake master cylinder and rear brakes were sourced from a Morris.

Smith Special Mk2, de la Roche, Oulton Park

Ken Smith drove the car from 1951 to 1954 during which time if it finished it usually finished in the top six, more often than not in the top 3 which included several wins of which the 1953 Autosport Non production Car Trophy was it’s last in Ken’s hands.

These photo’s show the car being driven by present owner Richard de La Roche at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting last year, more detailed information on the Smith Special can be found on this link. I hope to be returning with a fuller history of ‘500’ Formula 3 towards the end of the year when the ‘500’ Formula 3 class cars will returning to Castle Combe for the first time since 1955 to compete for the “Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club Challenge Trophy”, owned by the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club, on Sunday the 5th of October.

Thanks for joining me on this “Buckler Framed” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Formula One car built by one of New Zealands most accomplished race car drivers. Don’t forget to come back now !


Multi Tube Frame – Buckler MK V

In 1947 CDF Derek Buckler from Reading built a special for rallying, racing, hillclimbs, trials and speed events, of his own design featuring an unusual, for the time, space frame chassis into which a four cylinder side valve 1172cc / 71.5 cui E93A Ford engine was fitted.

Buckler MK 5, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

After much competition success Derek placed an advert in ‘Motor Sport’ for an export version of his his special designed for competition car called the Colonial, while also offering independent front suspension conversions kits and go faster parts for Ford Anglias and Prefects.

Buckler MK 5, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Orders soon started to flood in and at some point the Colonial name seems to have been replaced by the MK 5 name, allegedly to disguise the fact that this was Derek’s first design.

Buckler MK 5, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Through the early fifties Buckler Mk 5’s could be purchased either ready finished by the factory, which moved to Crowthorne in Berkshire, or in kit form saving the purchaser a fortune in car sales taxes.

Buckler MK 5, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Buckler went on to introduce two further models the enclosed body MK 90 and DD1 while building several one offs and single seater racing cars that fell outside this range along with a range of successful Karts for racing.

Buckler MK 5, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

After building the first cars for Jack Brabhams customer racing car business Brabham MRD Derek sold up due to ill health in 1961 and the company soldiered on until 1965. Derek died in 1964 aged just 53.

Buckler MK 5, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

It is thought around 500 Buckler cars of all types were built between 1949 and 1964. The model seen here at the Rare Breeds show at the Haynes International Motor museum is a 1957 MK 5.

My thanks to bucklercars.com for additional information on the MK 5 and the Buckler marque.

Thanks for joining me on this Multi Tube Frame edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !