One of the rewarding aspects of trying to answer the shoals of readers’ queries I receive is learning of historic cars that either have been or are being restored. Now I hear of the survival of the Lea-Francis which Humphrey Pellow and Wilf Green drove in the 1929 BRDC 500-Mile race. As the first 1.5-litre car to finish it won the Ferodo Trophy.
It was one of the three racing cars — known as the ‘Lobsters’ — made in 1926 by the Coventry company. It was sold to Sammy Newsome and then to Sir Kenneth Peacock, who had RMV ‘Soapy’ Sutton rebuild it with revised weight distribution and a single-seater body. Road-equipped, he made FTD at Madresfield in 1931. At Shelsley Walsh he hit the bank but continued, and was surprised to see one of the car’s wheels rolling along beside him. Activities were disrupted while a crane removed the car.
Claude Wagstaff had it next. He raced it at the early Donington Park meetings. Lea-Francis enthusiast Bob Elliot-Pyle was the next owner of this R-type LeaF. It had a Meadows 4ED engine, a No 9 Cozette supercharger and a Cozette carburettor. By 1929, its single port head had been replaced by a four-port, both of which have survived along with the manifolds.
The present owner, D K Brazell, is now rebuilding it. Apparently, only the side-members and body are new, the engine being as Newsome had it in 1931 and the front axle being a spare supplied to Wagstaff in ’38. The body needs only slight changes to make it fully authentic, the gearbox, back axle and radiator (with its stoneguard) having survived from the 1928 ‘200’.
This is indeed good news.
Keith Poynter, chairman of the Leaf club, is researching the history of the three ‘Lobster’ cars and needs help with any info and photographs that can be provided.