Lea-Francis 1989 style

Barrie Price re-formed the Lea-Francis company in 1977, and soon revived this respected name on a new Jaguar-engined Leaf (Motor Sport, August 1980). This year a Lea-Francis appeared at Britain’s national Motor Show for the first time since 1960.

The 1989 model is a two-door fixed-head coupe (a drophead is also promised), which has been given the type-name Ace Of Spades. It has a boxed, separate chassis in which the Jaguar twin-cam power-unit (of 3.4 litres, with 4.2 an option) is set well back, along with the radiator of “period” appearance, to achieve a weight distribution which gives light steering even without power-assistance.

Its alloy body has a notably low roofline and wide back window, and has attracted very little chrome, the radiator grille and headlamp surrounds being of stainless-steel. Its very individual outline features the suggestion of rear mudguards.

Many of the parts were made in Price’s own works, such as the slim door-handles with tiny Leaf motif. Independent front suspension uses torsion-bars, as did earlier Lea-Francis, and the ratio of the Salisbury back-axle is 3.6:1. The spare wheel is mounted upright in the boot, which is fully-carpeted and has two lidded lockers, tools being carried in the offside one. The car weighs around 2800 lb.

Interior decor is in satin wood with tulip-wood backings, and the five-speed gearbox has a stubby lever. Equipment includes electric windows and centre-lock wire wheels shod with Dunlop SP Sport tyres.

The plan is to lay down a batch of 20 in the first year, to appeal to those who have happy memories of the Lea-Francis breed or who want to own a truly individual car. WB.