No. 40: The Zephyr
Your reference in a recent issue to car component manufacturers in Lowestoft mentions the Brooke car and also the Massa sparking plug, the latter being made in Fremantle Road.
Fremantle Road was also the home of the Zephyr car which was built by a company called James, Talbot, Davison (1916) Ltd., of which five cars were produced between 1918 and 1919. Mr. James worked in the office, Ernest Talbot was in charge of the shop and Davison, an American, was the designer. The cars had 4-cylinder push rod OHV monobloc engines of 1,944 c.c. (11.9 h.p.) and were exhibited at Olympia in 1919, where it is reputed an order for 5,000 was received but because of a moulders strike they were unable to get cylinder block castings. After importing a large quantity from Belgium, which proved unusable, the company went into liquidation.
It was restarted later, making Zephyr pistons designed by Ernest Talbot; I believe these to be the first bi-metal pistons on the market, supplying Standard Motors with over 30,000 in one year. The company was eventually taken over by A. Rist (1927) Ltd.
Albert Rist was a somewhat shrewd businessman, forming several companies in Lowestoft and supplying wiring harnesses to Lucas under cover enabling him to beat the “ring” of main manufacturers controling prices at that time. From about 1929 Joseph Lucas Ltd. had a controlling interest in Rists, Wires and Cables Ltd., as it was then known, and later went on to form the Beacon Lamp Co. Ltd., at Freemantle Road, with Lucas backing, to manufacture auto bulbs; this again to beat the price fixing manufacturers.
Other Rist activities at the Waveney Works in Fremantle Road and the Ness Point Works, Whapload was the manufacturer of the Chambers carburetter and also, I suspect, the MASSA sparking plug. — David J. Feakes