Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Forgotten cars... Or do you know where there is one?

I have read about, written about or filmed cars since the early 1980's when I started reading car magazines instead of Marvel comics. It's funny how I'm watching Marvel films these days. Anyhoo, I love most things car related, but thanks to my Father who liked to drive something a little different where possible I have always been drawn to low volume cars, kit cars, or just the plain strange and unusual.

At some point I'll do a blog on the golden era for kit cars in the 1980's, which brought about an incredibly diverse mixture of models. Some were great, some less so, but these fibreglass bodied cars wouldn't just rot away, which leaves me wondering where they are now. Cut up and scrapped? Stripped for the running gear to restore a classic used for the donor? Or taken off the road needing some minor work doing, which never got done? The latter must be heartbreaking for a builder or their family if they can't finish the job. Maybe these owners would like to see their car find a new owner who would restore the car and bring it back to life?

That's what I thought I would do in a series of blogs where I mention some of the cars from the 1980's and 1990's to see if someone out there gets back with a comment to say they know where one still resides?

So to kick off in no particular order by talking to you about Moss Cars. John Copperthwait was a little genius of a guy who was around at just the right time to ride on the crest of the 1980's kit car boom. His first model, the Roadster, was very mildly influenced by the Morgan models and yet had a timeless beauty all of it's own, the GRP body sat on a Triumph Herald chassis prior to Moss offering a new chassis to give the option of Ford Escort running gear. A 2+2 version offering seats for small children in the back followed and was called the Malvern.

Moss then Came up with the Mamba, another attractive two seater with a 1950's mediteranean style, again sitting on a Herald or new Escort powered chassis.

Finally came the magnificently bonkers Monaco, which looked like a 1950's racer built from riveted oil barrels and sat on a Triumph Spitfire chassis, or the aforementioned Escort chassis. I can only applaud them for producing it and the hardy souls who bought them.

I've seen Roadsters, Malverns and Monaco's at Stoneleigh, but there used to be LOADS at car shows and I can't remember last time I saw a Mamba. Do you remember your grandad had an old kit car years back that still sits in his garage? Go and take a look and see if it has a Moss badge on the bonnet and leave a comment below.

So it wasn't a Moss eh?

What about a Nova? Not Vauxhall's asthmatic hatch, but the exotic looking kit car based on Volkswagen's asthmatic Beetle. Designed by Richard Oaks it pre-dated the Lotus Esprit and Lamborghini Countach, being launched in 1972.

The Nova stayed on the market well into the 1990's and still looks good now. With companies now offering Electric conversions and replacement mid-engined chassis, this could be the perfect time to dig out the old Nova and get it back on the road.

There were other exotic looking kits that flattered to deceive in the late 1970's and early 80's thanks to their VW Beetle underpinnings, the Avante, Eagle SS and Charger to name but three. The Eagle went on to get the option of a chassis to take Ford Cortina running gear. Unfortunately the roof on the SS tended to sag on early cars, so unless the roof was re-inforced by a rollbar so be wary of cars without the doors fitted. Chances are they won't close.

As an aside the Cimbria SS from the United States which sired the Eagle is still in production and the current custodian of the model recently took over the Sterling, which started out as a Nova produced under licence across the pond. Good news for both models and we hope to travel over to pay a visit when the planets align and we can put together a US trip.

I'll come back to cars we'd like to see back on the road. Meantime go and have a look at that unusual or exotic looking car Dad or Grandad built, or Bob down the road has in his garden. If you don't know what it is take a pic and post it on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EnwinsMotors and unless you found something really left-field, I'll tell you what it is... Try and catch me out!

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