GSM started up in Capetown, South Africa, building cars named Deltas. In 1960, the project was transferred to Kent where production got under way on the Ford 105E-engined ladder-frame chassis car. The car, available in open or closed form, sold as a kit at the staggering price of £1250. The whole project was less successful in England, and the owners returned to South Africa to build 1500cc two-plus-twos.
The Rochdale Olympic
The Rochdale company of Rochdale began in the early days of the specialist cars, 1948, by building bodies for racing cars. Throughout the 1950s, the company concentrated on producing glassfibre bodies for customers to fit on their own chassis. Immensely successful at this they produced over eight hundred shells-the decision was made to build complete cars, or at least whole cars in various pieces for the buyer to fix together. The Rochdale Olympic was introduced in 1960, a true monocoque glassfibre car, which utilised a Riley 1.5-litre engine. As Lotus had found with their Elite, the monocoque design made the car extremely taut and gave the bulbous little vehicle fine handling. A Phase II Olympic was built in 1963 with the addition of an opening rear door. The power unit for the later car was a Ford Cortina GT which gave the car a respectable top speed of 115 mph. In all, about four hundred and fifty Rochdales had been built by the time production stopped in 1968.
As the Ford and Austin had proved sound bases for kit cars in the 1950s, the arrival of the Mini on the scene sounded the advent of a new breed of car. With an engine and front sub-frame that could be unbolted with little trouble, people thought it would be easy to put it on the front or back of a different chassis. Chris Lawrence, who was later to build the early Monicas, produced some cars known as Deep Sandersons through the early part of the 1960s. His 301 had a Mini engine mounted in the rear of a low glass fibre-bodied car. Although only a few actual road cars were built, the machines fared well in competition, reaching enormous speeds from their tuned Cooper S engines: at Le Mans in 1964, one car reached a speed of 146 mph on a mere 1275cc.
Other Mini-based sports cars to appear were the similar Mini Marcos and Mini Jem, small closed two-seaters with the engine sub-frame bolted to the front of the chassis. The height of the engine did not help in making the cars very pretty but it did not sop them from being successful, the Jem being the neater of the two. The Ogle company produced the SX1000 which used the Mini engine in conjunction with the standard BMC floorpan. Because it was an Ogle, the finished product was made to a very high standard. The Ogle inspired many other similar designs like the Camber GT, the Irish Timeire and the Viking Minisport.
The Bristol Zagato Grand Tourer was designed to cater for those who desired an even faster car than the standard type 406 saloon. Lighter, smaller and equipped with a tuned version of the 406 Bristol engine, the Zagato was very much a car for the enthusiast. The lightweight two-door coachwork was built to the requirements of Anthony Crook Motors Limited by Zagato of Milan, Italy, a company noted for their high performance cars. The emphasis was placed on providing extra speed without impairing reliability or flexibility and whilst still retaining reasonable rear seat accommodation a feature normally lacking in Grand Touring saloons.
The first Herald went on sale to
the general public in April 1959 as a Coupé - although
these have long since become very rare and are most
sought after! The Coupé was never really intended to be a proper
4 seater, the rear seat being available only as an
But the similarities with other British sports
cars was soon evident, such as the four speed gearbox,
948 cc engine fitted with twin SU H1 carbys and an
output of 42 bhp. Some features of the new car were considered quite novel
at the time, such as independent rear suspension, an incredibly
tight turning circle (25 ft.), a collapsible and adjustable steering column, and a greatly reduced maintenance schedule
through use of nylon and rubber bushes that virtually
eliminated grease fittings on the chassis.
The Triumph Herald Coupé was soon joined by a Saloon version, which
allowed far more room for a full rear seat.
was originally powered by a single Solex-carbureted,
38.5 bhp gross/34.5 bhp net version of the same 948
cc engine, though later the twin-carb engine would
be offered as well. By March 1960, these two models were joined by a Convertible,
which also offered a top that folded almost completely
out of sight, a full (though a bit cramped) rear seat
and the twin-carb engine. 1960 also saw the introduction of the Herald S, a stripped-down
saloon that never caught on. Bigger news the following
year was the introduction of the 1200 series, incorporating
the same Coupé, Saloon and Convertible body styles
with a larger engine and somewhat more relaxed final
drive. Soon added to the range was an Estate Wagon and the
short- lived Courier van, a "commercial" version of the Estate
wagon much like the once-common sedan delivery versions
of American station wagons.