It must have come as a great shock to many people in the vintage-car world, as it did to me, to hear that Harry Spence had died, aged 82. To me because I knew that he had been a well-known figure in VSCC trials with his special Lea-Francis before the war and only recently I had seen him driving this car as well and enthusiastically as ever, in a VSCC Welsh trial.
Following a brief ownership in 1933 of a 12/40 Lea-Francis saloon he changed this for a supercharged Hyper four-seater. That was the beginning of a lifetime of altering this car. The lightening and shortening went on, as NUB 776 became an ever more effective trials stormer, which was raced, rallied, sprinted and used for driving-tests, with outstanding success.
In this long association with this car, Harry Spence had 100% support, even prompting, from his wife Molly, his daughters and even neighbours. It ended only recently, when heart problems caused him to give up racing his beloved car and abandon trials driving and finally motoring altogether.
He was the Lea-Francis enthusiast par excellence and the special builders’ admired exponent. His driving skills never failed him from before the war to recently. His ashes were scattered at Park Rash, the sort of hill he so easily conquered. The Lea-Francis OC in particular has lost a terrific follower but the vintage world will always remember Harry Spence, in beret, mud-spattered coat and that very stark LeaF, as one of its greatest henchmen.