<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111

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Lot 329
1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype

US$ 75,000 - 125,000
£ 60,000 - 100,000
1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype
Engine no. ABF111

1,216cc Two-Stroke V4 Engine
Single Carburetor
3-Speed In-Unit Manual Transmission
Leaf Spring Suspension
Mechanical Drum Brakes

*A true, one-off prototype
*Stylish and streamlined Boattail coachwork
*Featured in many British publications
*Offered with substantial history file with many period photos


THE A.B.F. BOATTAIL PROTOTYPE

Every so often, we get to experience the product of a car company that couldn't quite get off the ground. This fascinating one-off prototype built by the Canadian-born engineer Albert O. Ford is one such opportunity. At the time of this creation in the early 1920s, Albert Ford lived in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, and while he had no relation to the American Henry Ford, he was savvy enough to capitalize on the familiar name to promote his business which he called A.B.F. (All-British Ford). Albert Ford built just two cars in his brief foray into the world of motorcars, and incredibly, both survive today.

The car offered here is the first of the two, and is powered by a compact, one-of-a-kind 1,216 cc two-stroke V4 of Ford's design. It had some clever engineering going on, with stepped pistons and combustion chambers fed by the power stroke of the adjoining piston. The three-speed gearbox mounted in-unit with the engine made for an extremely compact package.

The story of this car took an interesting turn when Albert Ford went in search of a secondhand body for the prototype. He found one advertised by Maj. C.M. Harvey, which had just come off of his semi-works Alvis 10/30 racing car. The one-off streamlined body was built by Jacques T. Taylor Sports & Racing Bodybuilders. Harvey raced his Alvis on several occasions at the legendary Brooklands circuit, running under the permanently-assigned number 26. Harvey and his Alvis competed in the 1921 Junior Car Club 200-mile race with the nickname Yodol Dodol Doh painted on the bonnet. Albert Ford purchased the body from Major Harvey and proceeded to modify it slightly to fit his chassis. Little else is known of his testing efforts, and he may have abandoned the project to concentrate on the second car he built – which had a far more conventional four-stroke flat-twin and a standard-looking runabout Roadster body. Neither of the cars made it to production, and Albert Ford quit the automobile business to design and manufacture hospital furniture.

It is quite remarkable then, to know that both of Albert Ford's A.B.F. automobiles survive today, thanks to the efforts of some young and passionate car enthusiasts in England. An undated letter by Ivor Lindsell published in the Light Car & Edwardian section of the VSCC newsletter describes a quest by him and his mates to rescue some old cars from a garage that was scheduled for demolition. Following a trail of rumors, they found the site and were met by an older man who showed them around, claiming that he designed and built two of the cars himself. Met with skepticism from the lads, the man showed them his machine shop and the molds he used for casting the engine parts. It turned out they bought the cars directly from Albert Ford. Once rescued from the garage, both A.B.F. cars went to Lindsell's friend Charles, who got both cars running before selling them off at a small profit. The flat-twin runabout went into hiding for some time and was thought to be lost, while our featured car was sold to Tom Potter in 1957. Original photographs show Potter towing the A.B.F. home behind his family car, with the large number 26 visible on the scuttle.
Mr. Potter restored the little A.B.F., repainting it white. He used it in a handful of VSCC events in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including the 1961 Brighton Concours d'Elegance where it won the vintage car class. In 1976 VSCC member Peter Russell discovered the A.B.F in Potter's shed and soon made a deal to bring it home to Scotland. There, he set about restoring it to its original specification. After stripping off the white paint, Russell found bits of blue as well as evidence of the car's Brooklands number roundel and "Alvis" markings on the body. He was able to confirm the body's racing history, and after the restoration, the A.B.F. was invited to take part in the 1980 Brooklands Reunion.

The car appeared in a short feature in Motor Sport magazine (November 1996) and would later come into the ownership of the renowned sculptor, painter, and noted motoring enthusiast Stanley Wanlass. Mr. Wanlass then sold the car to a friend and fellow collector, who kept the A.B.F. in his extensive collection for many years with the intent of restoring it. The project never came to be, as the owner sadly passed away. The motor has since been rebuilt and test fired, but will require some sorting before use. Today, this very special A.B.F. remains very much as-restored by Peter Russell in the late 1970s, and will require mechanical sorting before use.

The A.B.F. sports car is truly one of a kind, carrying exceptional provenance. It will surely be welcome in groups like the VSCC and is welcomed already by the Brooklands Society. Albert Ford's unique prototype is a genuinely fascinating footnote in the annals of motoring history.

Footnotes

  • Please note, this car is sold on a bill of sale.
Contacts
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
<b>1923 A.B.F. Boattail Prototype</b><br />Engine no. ABF111
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