Fairthorpe was founded by Air Vice-Marshal Donald Bennett CB CBE DSO, ex Air Officer Commanding the Pathfinder force of RAF Bomber Command from where he earned the name of 'Pathfinder' Bennett. The first car that was built at the company's Chalfont St Peter home was the Atom coupe, a glassfibre two to four-seater with Standard-Triumph running-gear and a choice of BSA 250, 350 or 650 cc motor-cycle engine mounted at the rear of the car. Although the Atom was rather basic and lacking in comfort, it proved to be fairly quick especially in 650 cc form and, of course, each version was very frugal with fuel which was the main intention of the designer.
To say that the car, with a roof that sloped at an angle of 45 degrees to its pointed tail was unconventional in appearance would be an understatement. However, the car was quite successful and enabled the company to get on its feet and into production with the Atomota. This was similar to the Atom but with its 650 cc engine front-mounted. In 1957, a more conventional new model, the Electron Minor, was announced; this was to be the mainstay of the company right into the 1970s. The EM utilised a Standard Eight engine and gearbox unit and, with 38 bhp on tap, the open-top two-seater had a top speed of 75 mph and lively, if not startling, acceleration.
In 1964, the firm moved temporarily to Gerrards Cross while the EM grew even more popular, being fitted now with an 1147cc Triumph Spitfire engine. Donald Bennett's son, Torix, had by now started taking an active interest, and the company was renamed Fairthorpe Technical Exponents. This coincided with yet another move, this time to Denham, alongside the aerodrome where Air Vice-Marshal Bennett worked with one of his two other firms; Dart Aircraft Ltd. With the move to Denham and the new name, the firm began to adopt a different image. It drifted away from the basic sports models to proper grand-touring cars, the first being the TX1 designed by Torix, hence the TX designation. The TX1 was the first Fairthorpe to feature the ingenious transverse-rod rear suspension
. The system was of the trailing type hung on coil springs with adjustable concentric dampers. The upper links on each hub carrier crossed over and link to the lower part of the carrier on the other side.
As with all the cars built since 1958, the TXSs were available in kit form which, until the introduction of VAT, meant a great saving for the buyer; sometimes as much as 25 per cent over the assembled car. Initially, the TXS and TXSS (a fuel-injected TXS), with their bodies made up from separate glassfibre panels for easy repair work, had the 1998 cc GT6 engine. The injected version was tremendously quick due to its power/weight ratio of 200 bhp per ton. It had a top speed of 132 mph and could accelerate to 60 mph in 6.4 secs. Somewhat strangely, though, the transverse rod suspension
was now offered as an extra, at a price of UK£45.
Today Fairthorpe Ltd remains listed (as does Technical Exponents Ltd) at Denham Green Lane (as at 2007), but Fairthorpe does not trade.
Also see: Lost Marques - Fairthorpe