Around and about - Looking in on Davrian, November 1981

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The Davrian needs no tntroduction to those acquainted with Mod-Sports racing or rallying. Some 500 kits have been supplied by the Company for building up these fast and safe-handling little cars, up to the present Mk.8, since it all started for Welshman Adrian Evans back in 1968. In those days, and until quite recently, the Davrian units were for building-up Hillman Imp-powered coupes, as befifted a rear-engined sports car. The Company started at Clapham, in South London, sought a move to Wales in 1975, lost two years when the projected factory-site fell through, but is now established on the Industrial Estate at Lampeter, with space for expansion.

It was here that we called, a nice reason for driving over the Abergwesyn-Tregaron mountain-road, which must surely be closed next year for the final round of the British Hill-Climb Championship, perhaps renamed the Junior Mountain Championship — we are joking, of course. Davrian is producing about one rolling chassis a week, on average, and has ten employees, the majority Welsh speaking, but exciting new developments are in hand. Assembly takes place in a spacious building, and the fibreglass body moulds are made in a separate shop. The aim is to provide a fairly complete package, to which the customer can fit the power-unit and equipment to choice, complete cars being outside the present scope.

To combat the drying-up of the supply of Imp engines, engine-mounts were adapted to take Mini, Renault 16 and other makes, up to 1600 Ford BDA power, driving via VW Hewland gearboxes. One customer, who likes diesel-power, specified provision for a VW Golf Diesel and this gives the possibility of a five-speed transmission. Davrian makes their own suspension units, double-wishbone at the front and trailing-arm at the rear, in conjunction with coil-springs. The latter is based on Chrysler components, but is mere compact and torsionally stiffer. More local labour is used here, the welding-up being done “down the road”.

Davrian customers are a keen bunch. There are some 135 of them, kept in touch through a regular illustrated News-letter. One customer departed recently to Ireland with a Davrian body on the roof-rack of a long-suffering Toyota saloon and another comes from the very tip of Scotland. Although this is a kit-car operation, complete front and rear disc-brake units, with a drum for the handbrake shoes within the 13″ wheel-size, are available and Wipac lamps, etc. fit in well with the scheme.

The body is a low-built, handsome coupe, with luggage space ahead of the rear-placed engine. frontal radiator, and spare wheel behind this, wings and front air-dam, etc. being separate items, making for easy repair after a mishap. The “specification to choice”, and the fact that at first glance the make must puzzle many people, is in the best traditions of Special-building. An “AALCO” sponsored Renault-powered Davrian is used as the works rally test-car and they also run a Ford-engined rally-car, apart from which there must be at least 50 customers actively engaged in competition work.

For some time Evans has toyed with the idea of a semi-mid-engined Davrian with the 9 Cu. ft. luggage space behind the engine. The Mini power-pack lent itself to this theme but now that he has saved 4″ in width with the new rear suspension units he intends to launch the Mk.9 Davrian Dragon — good name for a Welsh car — using Ford Fiesta and Escort power, aiming for 200 similar units as quickly as possible for obvious reasons, and the 2-litre Renault is seen as providing a future source of rear-mounted power units.

Frazer Tickford – A Metro with a difference

£11,600 for a Metro? Well yes, but it is no ordinary Metro. Capable clever 100 m.p.h. with acceleration to match, the Frazer Tickford is anything other than a hastily thrown together go-faster variant of the popular Metro but employs the technical expertise of the new special engineering department of Aston Martin Lagonda, who own the historic “Tickford” name, to provide the luxurious surroundings, comfort and quality of a limousine with the advantages of a small, economy car.

We drove an example of Mike Bletsoe-Brown’s brain-child over the roads of Bedfordshire recently and were favourably impressed with the taut feel to the suspension, the road-holding and steering as well as with the superlative quality of the leather upholstery and other interior appointments. Our only reservations concerned exhaust noise and performance, the one being a shade too much fora carol this obvious quality and the other too little to time full advantage of the beautiful road-holding and handling.

The conversion is based on the 1.3S version of the Metro and involves completely stripping the car prior to rebuilding it with revised front and rear suspension to suit the 175/50 X 13 Pirelli P7 tyres, reworking the cylinder head with larger valves and gas-flowed ports and fitting a twin-choke Weber carburetter and used exhaust system to provide the increase in power and torque necessary to give 100 m.p.h. performance.

Outside, the below-the-waist portion of the body has been cleverly re-styled with fibre-glass panels to provide a very Audi Quattro Porsche 924 Carrera GT Renault 5 Turbo effect and the wrap-around front bumper-cum-air-dam contains four fog lights. At the rear, the original bumper is incorporated in another moulding which houses twin rear fog lamps and the whole car is finished to a ve, high standard with metallic paint which is fogged attractively to provide a darker colour over the lower portions of the body.

The interior boasts the best Wilton carpeting throughout, top quality hide upholstery for the dashboard surround, door panels and specially made seats. Careful attention has been paid to soundproofing, and the carpet is lined with the sound-deadening, foam-lead-foam sandwich used by Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce. A Uher radio-cassette player is fitted as standard equipment, and the windows are electrically operated.

Unlike many conversions wc have tried, the car is very much of one piece and it is a credit to Frazer and to the engineers at Aston Martin Lagonda’s special engineering department that this has been achieved so quickly. After sales service has not been ignored either — each car comes with a full 12-month warranty and there are 12 agents strategically placed around the country to look after the owners’ needs.

A production of 175 is planned for the first year, and as each car will be made to order, it will be possible to specify further customising if required. Plans for a turbocharged version are under consideration to provide rather more exciting performance while an automatic option will be available for those who prefer to take life at a rather more gentle pace.

Will such a car sell in this gloomy economic climate? Mike Bletsoe-Brown is convinced that there are enough discerning motorists with the money available to provide a strong demand for this small, economical (the average owner should get a return of 35 m.p.g.) and yet very luxurious car.

Frazer Cars operate from Sywell, Northants and have plans for other luxury products in the future. . . . Why Frazer? Not because of any connection with Frazer Nash, but because Mike Bletsoe-Brown’s destination on his first long-distance articulated lorry trip after he had started his own business in 1971 was to Fraserburgh in Scotland. . . .