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Lot 270: Lea-Francis 'Lobster'replica 1.5 Litre

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams (29 June 2012)

The car offered here is a replica of the first Lea-Francis racing car, chassis number 9030, raced at Brooklands in late 1926. The original was given an Anzani engine in 1927, brought to road specification, and sold in mid '27. 9030 became known as 'The Lobster' after being painted red in September or October 1926, also due to the shape of the tail. The nic-name stuck for all the four subsequent racing cars. In 1928 a team of three, designated 'R' type (chassis no:s 9161, 2, and 3) were built for the 200 mile race (effectively the British Grand Prix). Kaye Don came 3rd, and in the BRDC 500 of 1929 Wilf Green won the 1.5 litre class, beating both the GP Delage and T39 Bugattis. All the racing cars were built on 'L' type chassis in the 9000 series. One Claude Wagstaff had been a Lea-Francis enthusiast since at least 1929, bought 9162 in 1932, converted it to a 2 seater, and campaigned it in all manner of competitions. When he died in late 1995 he left 2 relatively intact cars, a special with the engine from 9162, and an Ace of Spades saloon especially commissioned from Lea-Francis in 1940 fitted with the prototype 4 cylinder Ace engine, (known as the TV1) which could not have functioned for long due to a silly design fault. It is likely he replaced it with the engine now in 6396, ground off the original number, and substituted TV1. Further, there was a mountain of LeaF components, a substantial archive of bills, cuttings, letters, drawings, and registration documents for 6 cars from 1928 to 1940. 9162 was the most important historically, and most of the parts were present, apart from the body, so this car was re-assembled, a new body made, and the vendor raced it for several years. Immediately given FIA papers on the strength of continuous history, it competed in the Millenium GP Historique de Monaco. There were many components of an earlier 'L' type (all other models had single carburetters) left over from the rebuild of 9162, a number of which could only have come from a racing car. These include a steel fabricated inlet manifold (production ones were cast aluminium), a pre-1927 crankcase with matching sump, a twin port cylinder head dated 1927, with supercharger type inlet manifold, a pair of Smiths speedo and tacho, plus hand pressure pump with round handle as shown in a photograph in A.B.Price's 'The Lea-Francis Story'. One box containing a gear box cluster plus parts of a clutch stop is labelled 'Lobster' (still discernible), and the steering column assembly too was labelled 'Lobster'. The seat likewise conforms to photographs, so has been left unrestored. There were also rear suspension trunnions, torque arm assembly, an early (spur gear) differential with appropriate half shafts, and a straight cut 3.5:1 crown wheel and pinion. Associated with a supercharger drive, steering arms, and ball joints exclusive to the racing cars, the inevitable conclusion has to be that they derived from the 1926 Lobster. There is no mention of these in the archive. No bills, letters, or any documention whatever, which is curious, because apart from the registration documents there are bills etc relating to all the other cars. The only explanation is that these parts came as spares with 9162, having been removed from 9030 when it was brought to road specification. While in Australia in 1990-'93 the vendor acquired a 'J' type chassis from a 1926 tourer (identical to the 'L' type) from Ross Smith, son of the Lea-Francis agent in Melbourne pre-war. This has been authenticated by A.B.Price. Front and rear axles came from a similar car found on a Dartmoor farm in 1982. A Hyper/'V' type radiator was 'in hand', while the one-off, and superb, close ratio Duo gear box was fitted to Wagstaff's special. It is thought to have been fitted to 9162 when Wagstaff bought it. Rudge hubs became standard for many LeaFs in 1926, the blower is a replica made by Hutchings, the Borg and Beck clutch is thought to have been the first to be used in UK, and was fitted originally to the TV1 engine. The back axle has the 3.5:1 cw/p and has been strengthened with a bevel gear differential, 16/60 LeaF half shafts, and XK140 hubs. The oil pressure and temperature gauges have recently been overhauled by Vintage Restorations. They and the boost gauge are original for a Hyper. The tail of the body was made by Allan Jenner of Hastings Motor Sheet Metal, and the rest by the vendor. The engine is a Meadows 4ED 69.5mm x 100 mm. The crankshaft was made by Laystall in 1968 to the pattern of those made for Frazer-Nash in about 1932. The connecting rods are machined all over and thought to have been made by Aston-Martin expert Elwell-Smith. It had new big-end shells fitted this year, and a set of .030" undersize spare. Pistons Royal Enfield Bullet, camshaft standard 'Brooklands'. The only modification to enhance performance is a set of high lift lightweight rockers, with push rods to suit. Exhaust manifold almost certainly original. Fuel is a mix of 60% methanol/40% petrol, or E85, both with 2% 2 stroke oil for the blower. The carburetter is a bronze Solex 48mm as per 9098 and 9162. The car was built in 2006 for the Brooklands centenary, has full FIA papers, and recently participated in the GP Historique de Pau. Starting instructions come with it, as do VSCC Buff form and Racing Car log book. A pair of Rotax headlights, Hella tail lights, an incomplete Lucas magneto, and a set of mudguards are available if required.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Festival of Speed
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood,UK
Lot Number270
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number6393
Engine numberTV1
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors