Sheffield auto electrician Phil Chapman dreamed of owning a car he could drive on the road and race at weekends. Short of the necessary brass to buy a vehicle to fit his needs, but blessed with the necessary curiosity, common sense and initiative, he taught himself how to build his first special based on a 1930’s Triumph chassis with Mercury V8 power in a corrugated iron shed in the late 1940’s.
In 1952 he put the engine into a space frame of his own design known as the Chapman Mercury II and four years later dismantled it to build a second space frame, drawn out in the time honoured way with chalk on his workshop floor, the Chapman Mercury III seen in these photographs.
After making the molds for the glass fibre body Phil campaigned the car successfully into the early 1960’s including at the original Chateau Impney Hill Climb where the car is seen here driven by Phil’s grand son Oliver Tomlin.
Phil sold CM III to make way for the Chapman Mercury IV which featured an all wheel drive system of his own devising, this car proved problematic but was sold on when Phil temporarily gave up motorsport in favour of gliding.
In the 1970’s Phil took the opportunity to buy the Chapman Mercury III back as a retirement project and after restoring the car he went on to compete in her again with his daughter Sandra, now Tomlin, who went on to claim the ladies records at Wiscombe Park, Gurston Down, Prescott, Shelsley Walsh, Loton Park and Harewood hill climbs in more powerful open wheel vehicles.
Thanks for joining me on this “The Road Racer Dream” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !