The ex-works, Georges Trouis/Alfred Hitchings, 1954 Le Mans 24-hour 1954 Kieft 1500 Sports Chassis no. CK 107 Engine no. 54/11
Cyril Kieft's first racing car a mid-engined Formula 3 design appeared in 1950, making a significant impact on the class the following year thanks to a certain Stirling Moss. Don Parker won the 1952/53 Autosport championship driving a Kieft while Ken Wharton and Bernie Ecclestone were other noteworthy exponents. A two-seater sports car powered by a 650cc BSA engine was developed from the F3 design but did not enter production. Kieft's next venture into sports cars was with a batch of central steerers, designed by Gordon Bedson and featuring aluminium bodywork, which had been inspired by similar designs by Veritas and Gordini. This model was succeeded by a more conventional Coventry Climax-engined two-seater with glassfibre bodywork. The central-steerer was available with either 2.0-litre Bristol or 1.5-litre MG engines, or could be ordered as a chassis only. Eight cars were completed initially with a further four built later. One of Kieft's customers was The Monkey Stable, which ordered three cars for delivery in February 1953. This strangely monickered outfit had been founded at the end of 1950 by Jim Mayers and Pat Griffith, and ran a Lester-MG with some success, including 14 1st place finishes in 1952. Peter Avern became the team's director for the 1953 season, which would be devoted to contesting continental endurance races with the three Kiefts. MG TC engines bored out to 1,467cc and modified by Harry Lester would be used. Registered 'LDA 1', 'LDA 2' and 'LDA 3', the Monkey Stable's three Kiefts made their competition debut on 9th May 1953 at the International Daily Express meeting at Silverstone. It was a most promising start, Jim Mayers lapping fastest in practice and finishing 2nd in the race behind Cliff Davis in the Cooper-MG with Pat Griffith in 3rd. Pat Griffith secured the team's first class win in the Isle of Man's British Empire Trophy in June and then in Portugal in July Mayers won the 2-Litre class driving a Bristol-engined Kieft. Despite these and a number of other international successes against top-class opposition, The Monkey Stable disposed of its Kiefts at the end of the season, leaving the factory to fly the flag in 1954. There were two works entries in that year's Le Mans 24-Hours race: a Coventry Climax-engined car for Alan Rippon/William Black and an MG-engined one for Georges Trouis and Alfred P Hitchings, both of which contested the 1,100cc class. The car offered here, registered '1093 WO', is the Trouis/Hitchings entry, which was assigned competitor number '48' and for the race was fitted with an additional headlamp on a special bracket (traces of the mount remain on the chassis). Unfortunately neither of the works Kiefts made the finish, the Trouis/Hitchings car being forced out with overheating problems after 26 laps while that of Rippon/Black completed 86 laps before retiring with a broken rear axle when lying 3rd in class. The highlights of the season were class wins at the Sebring 12 Hours (albeit against inferior opposition) and the Tourist Trophy where the Kieft was the only finisher in its class. After Le Mans this car's MG engine was re-linered and the capacity brought up to 1,467cc in order for it to participate in the 1.5-litre class. In August 1954 the car was driven by Georges Trouis in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring (number '36') but retired again, and in October it contested the Coup du Salon at Montlhéry (number '42') driven by Fred Helles. In March 1955, the Franco-Britannique team entered Georges Trouis and the Kieft at Montlhéry for the Coup de Vitesse and he also entered the Paris Cup in April (number '116') and Hockenheim in May (number '2'). One week later the Kieft was entered in the 24-hour Grand Prix de Paris, Bol d'Or at Montlhéry driven by Allegré/Barbey (number '48') for team Franco-Britannique. At the end of August, team Franco-Britannique entered two Panhards in the Nürburgring 500km for Georges Trouis and Harry Merkel. The Kieft was driven on this occasion by Theo Geiter, who was entered by Kieft Cars Ltd, the company's French agency owned by Georges Trouis. In late 1954/early 1955 the rear of the bodywork had been redesigned in the style of the contemporary OSCA or Ferrari, most probably following a collision. Being longer and more elegant than that of other central steering Kiefts. Period photographs show that the car had standard bodywork at Le Mans and the Nürburgring in 1954 and the modified rear at Hockenheim in May 1955. Near the end of 1955 the car was involved in an accident at Montlhéry, most probably at the Coupe de Salon, and remained at the circuit until 1966 or 1967 when it was rediscovered by the celebrated collector, Maurice Broual. The broken car was almost complete - it was only missing the bonnet, dashboard, badge and rocker cover while the bodywork was tired-looking and a brake drum was broken. Broual sold the Kieft in May 1976. The car has seen little use since being completely restored and is still equipped with its original engine ('54/11'), twin SU carburettors and special oil tank. Three other central steering Kieft sports-racers are known to exist: another with a 1.5-litre MG engine in Italy and two with Bristol 2.0-litre engines: one in Switzerland and one in Belgium, although these two have been modified. 1950s sports-racing cars are more and more prized and rightly so; they are beautiful and remarkably good fun to drive, often lively but nevertheless easy to use and maintain. Presented in generally good condition and accompanied by an interesting history, the Kieft we offer is a superb example of this mythical barchetta which is, of course, eligible for the Classic Le Mans and many other important historic events.