THE HISTORIC SPECIALS REGISTER

The Historic Specials register caters for marques or one off cars without sufficient numbers to support a register of their own. All are Low volume manufacturers and are usually made prior to 1965 or at least built from parts manufactured before that date in the style, and using the technology, of the pre 1965 period special. A list of some manufacturers catered for by the Historic Specials Register follow. Click on a name to see pictures or to find out more Information on a particular make.

 Special building had been happening since the early beginnings of the motor industry, and after the second world war, with the boom of motor racing on the many disused air fields that were scattered around the country, lots of small firms started to appear as one home built special soon turned into two or three for your friends and before you knew it you had gone into business. Bodies in these post war years were usually cycle winged - slab sided affairs, with only a small number of firms having the ability to create the all enveloping bodies of the larger manufacturers. This was until the advent of a new material called fiberglass which gave unskilled special body builders the ability to create complete body shells with aerodynamic shapes and complex curves. The first of these firms, RGS, produced their first fiberglass shell in early 1953 soon to be followed by the likes of Rochdale Motor Panels and Martin Plastics. RGS only produced one shell, but with the use of two different moulds, shells could be made to clothe chassis with wheelbases ranging from 6’3” – 11’6”.

 A number of these new companies originally started making body shells for Austin Seven chassis. Markham Peasey, Ashley Laminates, Hamblin, Heron and Microplas all manufactured their first shells for this chassis until it was realized that the Ford Eight and Ten chassis was the most suitable one for the conversion into a “sports car”. As more and more companies emerged it was the 7’6” wheelbase that they were using to base their shells on. The Edwards Brothers, John, Wilf and Sid, together with the Wren brothers at Convair Developments, Nickri Laminates, Autobodies and Auto Kraft Shells only used the 7’6” wheelbase for their shells. When Peter Hammond mentioned to his Friend Jem Marsh that he was going to build a Ford based special, Jem, always with an eye for business, suggested that he make it a 7’6 wheelbase. This car turned into Jem’s only Ford Ten based car, the Speedex Sirocco.

 As time went by, some of the personnel from these early companies left to form their own companies. One of the first being Peter Pellandine who left Ashley Laminates in 1956 to form Falcon Shells, Laurie Salmon, in turn left Falcon to form Conversion Car Bodies who built the Naco, B. J. Millar left Tornado to form Watford Sports Cars makers of the Cheetah and the Wren brothers closed the Convair company and went their separate way with Terry forming TWM and Clive selling the same shell under the name of Nordec.

 There were of course a few firms who besides marketing their own shells, also supplemented their income by acting as agents for the other companies. The biggest of these by far was Super Accessories of Bromley in Kent. They would stock most of the shells that were available at the time including bodies by firms from AKS to Shirley and many in between. They also stocked a wide range of chassis and tuning equipment from the likes of Aquaplane, Bowden, LMB and Halifax. This really was a Mecca for the special builder. It was also Super Accessories that held the first concourse for Ford and Austin based specials way back in 1961 and it was this show that was the inspiration for the Historic Specials Day that is the highlight of the special owners motoring calendar to this day.  Of course there were a lot more fiberglass companies making sports car bodies than just the few mentioned on this page. Further information on these and many more can be found at the 1950s Specials website or by contacting the Historic Specials Registrar

Overview courtesy of Rob Daniels March 2006