Sunday, 18 September 2011

Jig Free - Lea Francis 30/230

In August 1895 Richard Lea and Graham Francis entered into a partnership to manufacture bicycles, like the another cycle turned motor manufacturer Rover, Lea Francis was based in Coventry. In 1903 Lea Francis manufactured three unconventional vehicles with complex three cylinder motors that were not a success and from 1912 to 1924 the company manufactured motor cycles.

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Lea Francis entered motor car manufacture again in 1919 with vehicles using popular Meadows engines, Lea Francis became the first marque to offer a supercharged production car, the Hyper in 1927 and the following year a Hyper won the Tourist Trophy.

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The company went bankrupt in the early 1930's and was revived in 1937 to produce a fresh vehicle designed by former Riley engineer Hugh Rose, the successors to this car proved popular after the second world war in saloon and sports car forms.

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Car production ceased again in 1962 since when the company was kept alive by Barrie Price who provided spares and restoration services and occasional new low volume cars. In 1996 father of the Jaguar XJ220 Professor Jim Randle was engaged to design the 30/230 seen here at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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The aluminium bodied car was to be powered by a 235 hp 3 litlre / 183 cui V6 Vauxhall (UK GM) motor.

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Among the novel features the chassis was made by riveting laser cut aluminium panels, a process that requires no conventional jigs, and a patented active suspension system.

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Unfortunately, like the planed Lea Francis Limousine which aimed to fill the niche left by the Daimler DS240, the 30/230 did not go into production.

Thanks for joining me on this Lea Francis edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres'. I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I'll be reviewing some of the event's at this weekend's Goodwood Revival. Don't forget to come back now !

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