The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054

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Lot 222
1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater

Sold for £ 158,300 (US$ 200,514) inc. premium
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy
1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater
Registration no. WK 7492
Chassis no. 14005
Engine no. 10054
*Raced by the winning works team at the 1928 Ards TT
*Known history
*Restored condition
*Offered for sale by the Green family

Footnotes

  • 'The engine is the usual 1497cc 4-cylinder Meadows unit with No. 9 Cozette blower (one size larger than standard) ... The big-ends have roller bearings, the crankshaft being built up and running in three white metal bearings ... the car has done 70mph quite comfortably in normal circumstances ...' - Leonard Potter (then owner of 'WK 7492') writing in 'The Autocar', 1942.

    Already established as a maker of bicycles of the finest quality, Coventry-based Lea-Francis turned their expertise to motor car manufacture in 1903 followed by motorcycles in 1911. Serious motor car production commenced in 1922 when Lea-Francis offered their C Type model, a light car powered by an 8.9hp Coventry Simplex side-valve engine. The Coventry Simplex engine was soon replaced by a 1,247cc overhead-valve Meadows unit with the introduction of the D Type while two 12/40hp models powered by Meadows' famous 1,497cc 4ED engine were additions to the range for 1926.

    More powerful than its predecessors, the 4ED necessitated the introduction of a redesigned chassis, which was longer, wider and equipped with semi-elliptic springing all round, and a stronger, spiral bevel rear axle, both of which arrived in 1927 on the P-Type. The result was one of the finest small sporting cars of the late Vintage period, and the model continues to be raced successfully at VSCC events today.

    The Lea-Francis S Type Hyper Sports was the first 'blown' British production car, distinguished by its attractively sloping radiator and rakish two-seat bodywork. In 1928 the RAC's Tourist Trophy long-distance race was revived at Ards in Ulster where Kaye Don's Lea-Francis won by 13 seconds, beating first-rate opposition from the likes of Alvis, Austin, Bentley, Frazer Nash, Lagonda and Riley.

    Despite the manifest quality of its products and the many sporting successes, Lea-Francis was making a loss by the decade's end and went into receivership in 1931. Production continued at a trickle for the next few years before the firm re-emerged under new ownership in 1938.

    The long established Coventry firm recommenced production after WW2 with its 1939 range and it was not until 1947 that a new model arrived in the shape of the 14hp Sports. Sadly however, Lea Francis finally ceased production in 1952. There have been various attempts to revive the brand since then, most recently in 1998 when a '30/230' prototype was displayed at the Birmingham Motor Show, but nothing came of it. With a membership of around 350, the Lea-Francis Owners' Club (LFOC) actively promotes the marque, which is still supported by specialist engineers and parts manufacturers.

    The Lea-Francis Hyper offered here is significant, being one of the 1928 TT team of four such cars, and was driven by in that race by Mr W H Green - father of leading British historic racing driver Willie Green - alongside such great names as Kaye Don (who won the race outright in its sister car), George Eyston and S H Newsome. W H Green apparently ran the car for some time after the TT, competing at Brooklands and elsewhere. It is recorded as being the first car to lap Donington Park (in October 1931) as part of the circuit's accreditation for racing, before being laid up for two years from 1933. A 10hp engine was then fitted, unsuccessfully, before A C Molyneaux rescued the car in 1936, using it with some success in road racing at Donington and in sprints at Wetherby. Leonard Potter then acquired 'WK 7492', and a letter from him was published in 'The Autocar' of January 9th 1942, describing the car's history and contemporary capabilities (see above).

    W H Green's Lea-Francis then disappeared from view, re-emerging some 40 years later in 1993 when Brooks Auctioneers' James Knight got a call from an elderly lady whose husband had recently passed away. She knew very little about the Lea-Francis but her husband had always said it would provide useful income should he pre-decease her. She didn't really know what the car was but understood that it was quite special. James Knight went to a trailer home park near Bracknell and met the lady who was evidently of limited means. She took him to a lock-up containing what transpired to be one of the works Lea-Francis Hypers: the car Willie Green's father used to race.

    The continuation logbook traces the car's history via five owners (following Leonard Potter) to the aforementioned lady vendor's late husband, who purchased it in 1956 when he paid £50 in two instalments of £25 each. In 1958 motor car specialists Hoffmans of Henley re-metalled its engine bearings and serviced the roller-bearing crankshaft. 'WK 7492' was then garaged by the late owner, circa 1959/1960, and would remain out of sight for the next 30-plus years.

    This ex-works Lea-Francis was duly auctioned at Brooks' Motor Show Sale at Earls Court in October 1993, and the circle was completed when the Green family successfully acquired the car. At that time it appeared to be complete and rolled freely, despite being in need of mechanical and cosmetic restoration, as illustrated on these pages.

    'WK 7492' was then restored and has been driven by W N Green (the vendor's father) and his uncle M W 'Willie' Green, who are two of the four sons of W H Green, the vendor's grandfather. The vendor's father and Willie Green carried out and supervised the sympathetic restoration, the engine being rebuilt by Meadows specialists Blakeney Motorsport Ltd, while keeping as much of the original as possible. Related bills are on file. It should be noted that the control pedals have been converted to the conventional layout, and that the engine currently runs a plain-bearing crankshaft inside a replacement crankcase (the original crankcase and roller-bearing crankshaft are offered with the car).

    Since the rebuild's completion the 'Leaf' has been driven sparingly. Outings have included being driven by W N Green at the Ards Revival, and to and around Donington Park on several occasions, once notably in the company of Tom Delaney in his sister car. We are advised that Mr Delaney approved the restoration work.

    Hypers compare very well to other British marques who offered models of similar capacity such as Aston Martin, Riley, MG and Frazer Nash, and this genuine ex-works supercharged Hyper looks tremendous value against an Ulster, Le Mans, MPH, K3 or a TT Replica.

    Ex-Works racing cars from the 1920s rarely come to market and this historic S Type Hyper is of considerable importance and highly recommended.
Contacts
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
The ex-works, W H Green, Ards Tourist Trophy,1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre S Type Hyper Sports Two-Seater  Chassis no. 14005 Engine no. 10054
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