The Felday cars

F.1. Supercharged 2 1/2-litre FeIday-Daimler hill-climb car—1963
F.2. 2-seater version of F.1—abandoned—1964.
F.3. V8 B.R.M.-engined version of F.2—abandoned—1964.
F.4. V8 8.R.M.-engined 4-w-d sports car—1965/66.
F.5. V8 Ford-engined 4-w-d sports car—Group 7—1966.
F.6, V8 Ford-engined 2-w-d hill-climb car—1966.

IF you look on Ordnance Survey map 170 and find map reference 516446 you will see the name Felday. The map makers did not put it on there because it marks the place where Peter Westbury builds his Felday cars, but it is the area where he lives, in Surrey not far from Dorking. It was in 1958 that Westbury built his first car, while he was still at Engineering College, and this had a 1 1/2-litre M.G. engine, Buckler chassis and numerous suspension alterations evolved by the young student. Painted an opalescent blue and called the M.G.W., it was built purely as a road car. Before the year was out it had been entered for some club hill-climbs, and I well recall seeing it at places like Stapleford for I was competing with a Porsche 1600 at the time and often found my “saloon” grouped with the sports cars and “specials” such as the M.G.W. This light sports/racing two-seater was used throughout 1959 in hill-climbs and Westbury really got the taste for the short, sharp uphill sprints. In 1960 he bought an old F.2 Cooper-Climax, leaf springs, drum brakes. heavy chassis and all, but it enabled him to move up into the racing class. By the end of 1961 the Climax engine was getting tired and he had the bright idea of squeezing a 2 1/2-litre Daimler V8 engine into the Cooper chassis, and the Cooper-Daimler became a regular competitor in sprints and hill-climbs. By this time Westbury had finished college and he formed Felday Engineering with premises in the garden of his house in Holmebury St. Mary, a village in the Felday area. His main occupation was hill-climbing, but he was looking for suitable garage and workshop premises as he wanted to get into cars and engineering as a profession. Before the end of the season with the Cooper-Daimler he was very conscious of the short-comings of the early Cooper chassis and the potentialities of the Daimler V8 engine, so it was natural that a new chassis should he built for 1963.

A Lotus gearbox and final-drive unit, with inboard brakes, was coupled to the Daimler engine and a space-frame of round and square tubes was designed round the power unit. Various proprietary racing components such as Lotus front wheels and Cooper rear ones were used and suspension followed current Grand Prix design. The Daimler engine was fitted with a large Roots-type supercharger fed by a semi-downdraught S.U. carburetter and the short exhaust stub pipes had megaphone ends pointing vertically upwards. For the capacity and power of the engine the car seemed very small, but it had a 7 ft. 6 in. wheelbase, though the upright driving position and short nose. made the car look smaller than it was. It was known as the Felday-Daimler, but was in fact Felday 1, the first product of Felday Engineering. This car was incredibly successful in hillclimbs, for which it was, specifically built, and the result of the 1963 season was that Westbury and the Felday I won the R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship. This spurred Westbury on to greater things and he decided to attempt some real hill-climbing by building a new car that would qualify to run in the European Mountain Championship. This was to be Felday 2 and work was started on a new chassis that was in effect a two-seater version Felday 1 to take the same supercharged Daimler V8 power unit.

However, before this project was started Westbury had an interesting experience that was to affect his whole future. At the end of the 1963 hill-climb season. after he had won the Championship, he was loaned the Ferguson 4-w-d racing car to make some demonstration runs at the Wiscombe Park Hill-Climb. Ferguson Research were interested in the ability of their P99 racing car to tackle hill-climbs, and who better than the new Hill-Climb Champion to drive it. Westbury was already a 4-w-d believer, so that he took to the P99 research vehicle immediately. The demonstration runs proved very successful and the following day he did some private testing and started an association with Ferguson Research that was to be very beneficial. It was agreed that he could use the P99 Ferguson 4-w-d for the first part of the R.A.C. Championship of 1964, until the Felday 2 was completed. Before this project got very far plans changed and an 1,880-c.c. B.R.M. V8 engine was acquired and another space-frame two-seater sports car was begun, this being Felday 3, the aim still being the European Mountain events in July, August and September. In the meantime he was having good successes with the Ferguson car and with one thing and another the Felday 3 was not making much progress. As there was every chance of winning the R.A.C. Championship for the second year running, using the Ferguson, Westbury abandoned Felday 3 and persuaded Ferguson Research to let him continue using P99. Faith in the car was justified and Westbury was 1964 Hill-Climb Champion using the 4-w-d Ferguson, and naturally the names of Ferguson and Felday not only became closely linked but their business association flourished.

Determined to take part in the European Mountain Championship, for which he was entered, Westbury hastily acquired a Lotus 23B sports car and installed the 1,880-c.c. B.R.M. engine from the still-born Felday 3. This sortie into foreign parts was not at all successful, but the failure was overshadowed by the sucess at home with the Ferguson. This success started Westbury well and truly on the 4-w-d road, though Felday Engineering were doing other things and had by now acquired larger premises a few miles away at Forest Green. Co-operating with Ferguson Research, a new project altogether was started for the 1965 Season and this was brought about partly by the interest the B.R.M. were showing in Ferguson 4-w-d. The B.R.M. people were looking into the 4-w-d subject and were building an experimental 1 1/2-litre Grand Prix car using Ferguson transmission, which was based on that used for the successful P99. The FeIday 4 was designed around this layout, being a two-Seater Sports car using the 1,880-c.c. B.R.M. V8 engine from Felday 3 and the Lotus 23B, the aim still being the European Mountain Championship events. Departing from the previous space-frames Westbury built a sheet-steel “monocoque” structure with the B.R.M. engine mounted in the rear, facing backwards, i.e., the clutch at the front; a short propeller shaft running forwards to the Ferguson gearbox and control unit that was mounted in unit with the front drive assembly. A jointed prop.-shaft ran back from the control unit (or third differential, which is the secret of Ferguson 4-w-d) under the left bank of the engine: to the rear drive unit. The chassis-frame for Felday 4 was exhibited at the 1965 Racing Car Show at the beginning of the year, but after that progress was slow for all the usual reasons that beset “special” building. Added to this was a pre-occupation with other work to keep Felday Engineering solvent and working with Ferguson and B.R.M. on the 4-w-d experimental Formula One car. Westbury did some test-driving for B.R.M, and also drove the car in English and Swiss hill-climbs, but could not borrow it enough to defend his R.A.C. Championship title and had nothing else suitable in his own stable.

FeIday 4 was eventually finished at the end of 1965, running in the Boxing Day meeting at Brands Hatch, and by this time Felday 5 was under construction, which was a bigger version of Felday 4, using a 7-litre Ford Galaxie engine. The Ferguson transmission was the latest version, where the 4- or 5-speed and reverse gear assembly is virtually under the rear crown-wheel and pinion and in the same housing, while behind it is the Ferguson control unit and transfer gears for the prop.-shaft running to the front drive assembly. This layout means that the Ford V8 engine can be mounted normally fore-and-aft, a bellhousing joining the Ferguson gearbox to the Ford crankcase. The prop.-shaft running forwards passes alongside the engine, on the right, and is universally-jointed into the centre of the car where it passes through the cockpit between the seats. A similar all-enveloping bodywork to the Felday 4 was used and the car was completed just in time for the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch on August Bank Holiday. During the season Felday 4 was raced by Westbury and the Jersey driver Mac Daghorn, who had been working for Felday Engineering for some time and was a natural choice for works test-driver. He drove the Felday 5 in the Guards Trophy and the Felday 4-was driven by none other than Jim Clark. Among the many reasons that led up to Clark driving the Felday 4 was the fact that Colin Chapman had been showing an interest in the Ferguson 4-w-d mechanism, and thought his number-one driver should get some practical experience, and this was a suitable opportunity.

Felday 5 was built with Group 7 racing in view, but with the demise of this category in Great Britain the car has now become a test-vehicle for Felday Engineering and Ferguson Research, and transmission improvements continue.

At a club party Westbury was talking to Tony Griffiths, who had been hill-climbing with a 2 1/2-litre B.R.M., and the outcome was that Felday Engineering were commissioned to build a simple, light and powerful hill-climb special for Griffiths. This was Felday 6 and consisted of a tubular space-frame with orthodox Formula One suspension layout, powered by a 4.7-litre Ford engine behind the driver, and coupled to a 2-speed Hewland gearbox. The result was a very busmess-like conventional hill-climb special and Griffiths has used it all this season. It was completed before the Felday 5 had really taken shape so that when it appeared it caused some confusion in being called Felday 6 when Felday 5 had not appeared. However, all was put to rights by August Bank Holiday, thought the names of Felday and Ferguson had become so synonyinous, and Ferguson means 4-w-d. that Felday and 4-w-d were becoming synonymous. The result was that certain reporters assumed that the Felday 6 was 4-w-d and printed the fact, even though they had seen the car! What the Felday 6 does do is illustrate that Felday Engineering activities are not concentrated solely on their tie-up with Ferguson Research, though they do handle all 4-w-d customer business for the Coventry firm.

At the present time design and research work is going ahead on Felday 7, which is to be the logical next step from Felday 5, while Felday 8 is already more than “just in the mind.” If another commercial project like Felday 6 comes along then we may see Felday 9 before Felday 7 and 8, but that is a matter or business, for Felday Engineering have to stay solvent and experimental projects do not show a profit. From the humble beginnings with his M.G.W. Special in 1958 Westbury has come a long way.