The ex-Kenneth McAlpine
1948 Connaught 1.8-litre L2 Road-Racing Sports Two-Seater
Registration no. MPH 329
Chassis no. 1356
Few of Britain's pioneering post-war racing car constructors did more to establish this country's long-dominant competition car industry than Connaught Engineering of Send, Surrey. This wonderfully historic and evocative early post-war sports-racing car was the first of the pilot batch of three Connaughts built by ex-RAF pilots and engineers Rodney Clarke and Mike Oliver at their Continental Cars business located alongside the A3 road at Send. With production of these three cars they founded the marque which, in its ten-year life, scored the first all-British victory in a post-war Grand Prix and established a lasting reputation for engineering and manufacturing quality.
The L-Type Connaught such as this was built to accommodate the 1,767cc Lea Francis four-cylinder engine and this particular example was registered new to the company's prime backer, Kenneth McAlpine, in October 1948. Its sports bodywork was fashioned by Leacroft of Egham, and the engine was super-tuned with high-lift camshafts, special pistons, quadruple Amal carburettors and dry-sump lubrication to produce some 102bhp. Completely restored in recent years, 'MPH 329' offered here has a remarkable competition record embracing all manner of competition ranging from club hillclimbs to Continental Formula 2 Grand Prix events. It has been accepted by the HGPCA as a pre-1951 Grand Prix car and it competed at the 1996 Silverstone Historic Festival.
The first victory it achieved in its long career was scored by Kenneth McAlpine in its class at the Prescott hillclimb in June 1949. Two days later McAlpine finished fourth in the Miscellaneous Cars class at the Bugatti Owners' Club Silverstone race meeting. Successes followed in Clubman events and in May 1950 he took the car abroad, setting fastest lap in the Formula 2 Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay, before finishing fourth overall. Further Formula 2 places were achieved before McAlpine sold the car at the end of the 1951 season. After passing through various UK ownerships and appearing regularly at club level until 1970, it was then sold to Australia where it was preserved on museum display for more than a decade. The car was brought back to the UK in 1989 and offered for sale from the private collection of a great Connaught enthusiast at Brooks' Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale in June 2000, where it was purchased by its late owner. 'MPH 329' last ran on the Isle of Man in September 2002 and is offered fresh from minor bodywork refurbishment. The vehicle is accompanied by FIA papers (dated 1989), current MoT and Swansea V5.
These early Connaughts are amongst the most distinctive of all pioneering British sports-racing cars, not only for their chunky looks but also for their rugged reliability and ability to motor on in all levels of competition - both serious and informal - whether that competition takes place on the open public road, on circuit or in hillclimbing and even Historic rallying. These cars are versatile and historically super-significant, and for any Historic car enthusiast with his heart in the right place there can be no more romantic nor more gallant marque than Connaught itself. During the period in which this most important motor car was produced they stood right at the cutting edge of the specialist sports-racing car industry.