Lot 127: 1963 Deep Sanderson 301 Coupe
The Deep Sanderson cars built by Chris Lawrence’s Lawrence Tune company consisted of four single-seat Formula Juniors: chassis numbers ‘101-103’ being identical while ‘104’ incorporated the patented Lawrence Link suspension system. These were followed by the 301 Coupé with rear-mounted Mini engine which was sold as a kit; around 30 were made. This car, chassis number ‘DS3GT 1001’ was one of the two 301 Coupés which were built for, and ran at, Le Mans in 1964. Driven by Chris Lawrence/Gordon Spice, this car was the one that actually took part in the race, the other having been seriously damaged at White House in practice.
Chris Lawrence first made in impact on the racing scene in 1959 when his self-prepared Morgan +4 won a National Championship for Production Sports Cars. There were 22 races countrywide and Lawrence won 19 of them. In October of that year, Lawrence, together with three others who had been helping him, left Rotax Ltd in Willesden, North London and set up Lawrence Tune in Acton, London W3. As well as tuning the Triumph TR3 engine, as fitted to the Morgan, Lawrence was interested in building proper single-seat racing cars. Formula Junior was rapidly becoming popular, so Lawrence persuaded his colleagues, Lesley Fagg, Len Bridge and John Harvey, to help him build a small batch of Formula Junior cars, which they called Deep Sanderson. Two chassis were ready for the Formula Junior Race at Goodwood on Easter Monday 1960. From these small beginnings, Lawrence Tune developed throughout the 1960s, adding a range of Ford tuning parts to the repertoire, and the Deep Sanderson 301 Coupé.
Lawrence Tune competed at Le Mans in 1962, winning the 2 Litre Class very comfortably with the Morgan. Both before that 1962 Class win at Le Mans and after it, Lawrence’s Morgans, prepared and operating out of the Lawrence Tune premises in London, were becoming the 2-litre cars to beat in international GT Racing, winning at Spa Francorchamps, Clermont Ferrand, Monza and the Nurburgring. As well as all this Morgan activity, Lawrence Tune also ran Deep Sandersons at Le Mans.
J A Pearce Engineering in Southall were responsible for making the kits of the 301, four of which were retained by Lawrence and built as racing cars. One of these ran at Le Mans in 1963 with a 997cc Downton-prepared engine. Shortly after taking first place in the 1,000cc class from a veritable horde of FIAT-Abarths, about lunchtime on Sunday, the race organisers disqualified the car on the pretext that it had been behind on average minimum speed at midnight! Two 301’s with 1,300cc Downton engines went again to Le Mans in 1964 but had a bad week. One was written off at White House in practice while the other (the car offered here) only lasted an hour or so before blowing its cylinder head gasket and overheating.
After 40 years in storage the car was totally rebuilt by Chris Lawrence for the 2004 Le Mans Classic with the help of a partial road car kit from the Rabagliati Collection, and is wholly authentic with total documented history and FIA papers. Although the car has a Mini Cooper 1,320cc engine mounted in the rear, except for the wheels, the Mini connection ends right there. The chassis is a central backbone sheet metal design carrying the Lawrence Link suspension system, at that time under patent. The other unique feature of the design is the Lawrence Tune-designed dry sump system for the Mini engine. Other noteworthy features of the car include electrically heated and partially tinted windscreen in laminated glass; heated glass rear window; new interior trim throughout (both leather and carpet); new paintwork; new oil, water and hydraulic pipe work, new radiators and tanks. The gearbox was originally built for the car by Jack Knight in 1964 with a 2.9:1 final drive for the 4.5-mile Mulsanne straight. The current ’box, again built by Jack Knight, has a close-ratio straight-cut baulk-ring gear cluster, but a 3.2:1 final drive that has reduced the top speed of 152mph, recorded at Houdinieres on the Mulsanne straight in 1964, to 138mph. This was done for the car’s return to the Le Mans Classic in 2004 as the altered circuit layout places a much higher emphasis on acceleration. Apart from the altered gearing and modern fire extinguishing, ignition cut-out and fuel tanks, the car is exactly as it was at Le Mans in 1964. The car competed in great style at the 2004 Classic, driven for Chris Lawrence by Robin Gray.
Chris Lawrence - designer, constructor and driver - is now offering this car for sale to anyone interested in owning a unique example of a very rare marque, with Le Mans history, bristling with innovative design features and ready to compete in historic racing.
Important Sports & Competition Motor Cars|
Bonhams, Goodwood Revival, Chichester
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||£34500|
|Chassis number||DS3GT 1001|
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