Since the war, with the exception of specialised examples intended mainly for competition work, the small sports car has been neglected by British manufacturers. This is all the more curious because before World War II this country produced many very successful cars in this category, such as the Austin Seven, M.G. Midget, Singer Le Mans, Vale Special and others. A leading article in Motor Sport, dated July, 1954, drew attention to this dearth of small British sports cars, and the Editor concluded: “Not everyone, even with memories of their Meccano days still clear, wants to build a sports car. For this reason I think a return on the part of our manufacturers to under 1,100 -c.c. sports cars is overdue. They would represent attractive vehicles both for home consumption and export.”
Consequently, we accepted with pleasure an invitation from British Resin Products, Ltd., to see Petula Clark, the well-known film, radio and television star, take delivery of her first car, in the form of an 803-c.c. Turner sports two-seater. [Incidentally, this was not a party to celebrate delivery of the first Turner, for some 30 have been sold to date, including one to Bob Gerard; but Bob is only a racing driver, whereas Petula is a T.V. star! – Ed.]
This party took place at the Distillers Sports Club at East Molesey, a fine country house, with spacious grounds on both sides of the Thames. Miss Clarke’s father is a keen motorist, who is enthusiastic about his Volkswagen, which he finds preferable to his former Austin A90. He told us that Petula, that petite red-head who graces B.B.C. television programmes, has recently passed her driving test and that when she wanted a sports car he sought something with which she could gain experience of rapid motoring, deeming 100 m.p.h. sports machinery too fast for a beginner. The new Turner seemed just the job.
It is made by Turner Sports Cars, Ltd., at Wolverhampton. Present output is a car a day, but at the new works, recently acquired, at Pendleford Airport, this should soon increase to three per day, with a target of 150 cars a year. The Turner is a genuine attempt to return to the small, compact economical sports car and a maximum speed of 80 m.p.h. is claimed, with a fuel consumption of 40/50 m.p.g. depending on how much “loud-pedal” is used.
The chassis is tubular, of T45 steel tubing 3 in. dia., evolved from experience gained with Turner Fll racing cars and the rear suspension, using laminated torsion-bars and trailing links, has some similarity to the ingenious rear suspension of the later sports/racing Jaguars. Front suspension is Austin A30, as is the power unit and final drive. The engine is standard except for twin S.U. carburetters, giving 30 b.h.p. at 4,800 r.p.m. on a 7.2 to 1 compression-ratio. The guarantee is thus unimpaired. The back axle-ratio is 4.875 to 1, but to compensate for reduced weight the 13-in. tyres of the A30 saloon are replaced by 5.20 in.-15 in.. Michelin in the case of Miss Clarke’s car; 7 in. by 1 1/4 in. brake drums are used and steering is rack-and-pinion with a universal joint in the column. The wheelbase is 6 ft. 8 1/2 in., front track 3 ft. 9 in., rear track 3 ft. 10 1/2 in. The two-seater all-enveloping body shell is made for Turner by Hill’s Fibreglass Developments, Ltd., of Cellobond polyester resins and Fibreglass, with upholstery, panelling and hood in Geon P.V.C. Everflex leathercloth. It is claimed that this body shell is one-third the weight of an equivalent metal body, but we were disappointed to learn that the colour – carefully chosen to match Petula’s hair – is normal cellulose and not a shade incorporated in the plastics. Hooded Lucas inbuilt headlamps enhance the appearance of this interesting little car, and we hear excellent reports of its roadholding and cornering abilities. Mr. Turner has been sensible in employing A30 components, especially as the engine is the best part of the modern Austin car. The Turner sells for £789, inclusive of p.t., and we hope that one will soon be submitted to a Motor Sport road-test.
Another new small sports car is the Fairthorpe Electron, also with a tubular chassis and a glass-fibre all-enveloping two-seater body, but with coil-spring suspension all round and a 67-b.h.p. version of the excellent 1,096-c.c. Coventry-Climax engine. The wheelbase is 7 ft., the track 4 ft. and, pulling a top gear of 4.44 to 1, a maximum speed of 112 m.p.h. is claimed. The price, with p.t., is £1,049 17s.