Author Topic: Fairthorpes  (Read 201 times)

Big Al

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Fairthorpes
« on: March 04, 2017, 08:24:38 AM »
Thanking Martin Collins for his up to date information on the Atom and Atomata microcars left known to us, it seemed sense to create a specific thread topic, rather than hide the information as a tangent on another topic. My own info came from John H Allan's 1996 book on Fairthorpe, so there is 20 years of new information trickled through. This is placed below.

I have been looking at the history of Fairthorpe. It turns out that there is a cobweb of links between Microcar companies behind all this.

Fairthorpe Ltd was created to build vehicles in June 1952 by Don Bennett, but had to start life as a jobbing engineer assembly company. It had a co company doing Areo engineering called Dart Aircraft Litd sharing the site. In early 1952 Don Bennett had bought the Russon car production company. Connection 1

In October of 1955 Fairthorpe gained a new factory Manager. He was John Green, who had been a manager for Blur Star Garages. The same outfit of this thread, who marketed the Powerdrive from November 1955. The 350cc version of the Atom had failed to sell one unit. So a version was made with a British Anzani engine in it. This car was spoken of as the best Atom by the workers and was used as a firm runabout. However I do not know if the Atom 322 was marketed, certainly there is no evidence of sales. You cannot help wondering if this Connection 2 was more than an idle link. I think not. Maybe the history of Powerdrive mentions John Green in passing.

Clearly connection 3 is the link between the Powerdrive and the Allard Clipper. Connection 4 is the Coronet.  I am sure there are plenty more.

From the Fairthorpe point of view there are now three Atomata known. One is a 650 BSA A10 Gold Flash original, Another is a Atomata Major with a Standard 8 engine (Correction Standard 10), (it was at the NEC last year) so not a microcar, the last is probably an Atomata 650 that has been converted to Subaru underpinnings in America. So a half point there. No Atom survivor is known of as far as I can make out. Tony Marshall often stated he wanted to find one, but failed. The thing seems to have been a bit of a disaster, as Don refused to listen to his then Manager and engineer, Ken Lowe, who left allegedly frustrated. He it was that invented and made a good living by marketing the Kenlowe Fan. So if an Atom has survived it will be a rare thing indeed.

To see Atoms watch the first few minutes of the 1955 Rank film 'Checkpoint' where some take the roll of being Valta cars in production behind a shot out. Cheesy film but great sports cars throughout, and James Robertson Justice shouting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7ncweROe9U&t=383s

Interesting 'innit?
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 08:26:53 AM by Big Al »
Messerschmitt set, Goggo Darts, Heinkel 175, Fiat Jolly, Autobianchi, Fairthorpe Electron Minor, Borgward, Isuzu Trooper
Citroen BX 17TZD & GTI 16v
Held - MG Magnette ZB & 4/44
For sale - Vellam Isetta, Bamby, AC Type 70, Velorex, Church Pod, Reliant Mk5, KR200,  Saab 96, Bellemy Trials, Citroen BXs

Big Al

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Re: Fairthorpes
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2017, 08:30:29 AM »
Martin then updated the cars left, and my factual errors, thank you, in the following posting. I will remove this if the genuine posting is placed in the thread, it will look better.

Hi all, I have been directed to this website by a fellow Fairthorpe Sports Car Club member, unfortunately none of the original Atom`s appear to have survived but I live in hope that one may be tucked away awaiting to be rediscovered. The Atom Majors were Standard 10 powered and the Atomotas were Gold Flash 650 powered. There are actually two Atom Major survivors ( both Standard 10 engines), one Atomota in the USA which has had the body modified and grafted onto a Subaru floorpan complete with Subaru engine and the remains of another in the UK which is missing the bodyshell and engine.
More info and pictures of Atoms and Atomotas can be found on the Fairthorpe blog at www.fairthorpe.blogspot.co.uk
...........Martin
Messerschmitt set, Goggo Darts, Heinkel 175, Fiat Jolly, Autobianchi, Fairthorpe Electron Minor, Borgward, Isuzu Trooper
Citroen BX 17TZD & GTI 16v
Held - MG Magnette ZB & 4/44
For sale - Vellam Isetta, Bamby, AC Type 70, Velorex, Church Pod, Reliant Mk5, KR200,  Saab 96, Bellemy Trials, Citroen BXs

Big Al

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Re: Fairthorpes
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2017, 09:01:48 AM »
I wonder if there are answers to a couple of questions.

The Atom was originally offered for sale with a BSA C11 250cc engine. This seems to have had sales. The BSA A10 650cc Gold Flash engine option clearly sold units, as some are left. It is reported, and evident, that a 350cc option was offered. If this was a BSA engine it would have been the B31/32 of pre war design, as the C15 350cc did not come on line until 1958, as far as I can tell. This might explain a lack of any sales of that version reported.

The altered Atomata in the USA. Is it known by chassis number if this car was a 650cc, or a Major with the Standard engine, originally. I assume the chassis numbers would differentiate between the two differing specifications in some way.

The finding and purchase of the Bristol Atomata is something I think a few would be jealous of. It might not be a Microcar in itself, but its roots most certainly are. I look forward to seeing the car one day. Good luck with it.

Of course for those who might be more interested in Fairtjhorpes, their National Rally is at The Bubblecar Museum over the weekend of 7th//8th of August.. I plan to drive over and camp, rather than spend a day in a rush. So you can enjoy the Fairthorpes, and fill your boots with Microcars, all at the same time! I can slip an extra sausage on the barbie in the evening.

Its not been a well kept secret that for about as long as Microcars have frequented the Cotswold Wildlife Park, there has been a Ford Specials Day there in August. That event actually welcomes pretty much any special, and Berkeleys have been known to attend. So even though the Micros have turned their backs on it, you can still do your CWP trip and look at interesting stuff. I believe a driven car still gets its pilot passed the main gate free,
Messerschmitt set, Goggo Darts, Heinkel 175, Fiat Jolly, Autobianchi, Fairthorpe Electron Minor, Borgward, Isuzu Trooper
Citroen BX 17TZD & GTI 16v
Held - MG Magnette ZB & 4/44
For sale - Vellam Isetta, Bamby, AC Type 70, Velorex, Church Pod, Reliant Mk5, KR200,  Saab 96, Bellemy Trials, Citroen BXs

steven mandell

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Re: Fairthorpes
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2017, 12:20:54 PM »
Watched the movie.
Best of era race cars, beautiful women, and great racing sights and sounds.  What not to like?
Typifies the best of the bygone era of the gentleman playboy racer.
However I couldn't say exactly which cars were racing other than the obvious Mercedes , Porsche, and Ferraris.  I guess that there would have to be a Maserati or two.

What exactly did Fairthorpe add to the mix?

richard

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Re: Fairthorpes
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2017, 06:35:14 PM »
BSA C15 is 250 like the C11 and C12 all 4 strokes ,don't think they would have performed very well Al . They didn't do a lot on two wheels ! Had C 12 and C 15's 
outside of a dog a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read .Groucho Marx 1895-1977

Big Al

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Re: Fairthorpes
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2017, 07:20:38 AM »
It seems from what has been written that only a few 250cc versions were made, The 350cc bombed. The factory ones morphed into something else. The 322 Anzani was used by the works, but it is not known what happened to it.. Otherwise I think the reality is they were 650cc, which is edging out of Microcar territory. But as 650cc the thing had to be modified to take the power, in the doing the project then turned into the Atomata as better vehicle, which actually had different dimensions. From there you get rge Atomata Major, with the 650cc being replaced by a Standard 10 engine. When there is a restored Alomata we can revisit what it was like to drive. bUt I agree. I think Don was wildly optimistic with the original Atom.

As to Steve's question, I am not sure I know enough to answer it. Fairthorpe naturally took an interest in motorsport. It was a way of proving, and selling cars. Also being petrol heads, the key factory workers enjoyed it. However they were looking to make a economic sports car, not a racing car. Something an owner would likely use for club events. As it turned out the Electron was a competitive chassis looking for the right power. There was a sort of unofficial factory team. The factory supplied some Climax engined cars, which permed very well. So even now Fairthorpe appear in grids of minor racing series and clock up good results for their humble origins. But there are no Le Mans cars, or anything like that. The film appearance is strictly the first 5 minutes of the film.

Beyond Fairthorpe, John Green, the guy who really created the car, is alleged to have found Don unyielding to then build on the Electron success, with a more modern design. He left and begat the Daren series of cars, which are racing cars. In a way the first of those could have been a Fairthorpe. For Fairthorpe, they seemed to get stuck trying to reinvent the Electron beyond its sell by date, until Torix produced his vision of what a sports car should be. These are fascinating cars too, and rare. 

So Fairthorpe did not bring much to the mix, in the way most Microcars did not bring much to the mix. In much the same way it tripped over success, got sidetracked into ideas that really were not going to work, and missed the opportunity to invest in improvement to remain in the market, with a successful car. It is for the taste and intelligence of the Classic Enthusiast, to recognise the potential winning design out of a lot of false starts, and ego trips; dip, and pick out a cracker at a fraction the cost of machines the mainstream hold up as beacons of quality. If your that way inclined, of course. Some will never see it, as fashion, or parroted ignorance, fills their closed mind. But to produce one of these forgotten machines, in prime sand kicking order, is a challenge I have always relished. And so often where the inquisitive enthusiast venture first, the mainstream arrives late on, co opts the gems, and polishes the history so that only a fool would not want to own one. Really? 

I will leave you with a question. Which one, Austin Healey Sprite Mk1, or Fairthorpe Electron Minor? Your answer tells a lot about the kind of Classic Car Enthusiast you are.
Messerschmitt set, Goggo Darts, Heinkel 175, Fiat Jolly, Autobianchi, Fairthorpe Electron Minor, Borgward, Isuzu Trooper
Citroen BX 17TZD & GTI 16v
Held - MG Magnette ZB & 4/44
For sale - Vellam Isetta, Bamby, AC Type 70, Velorex, Church Pod, Reliant Mk5, KR200,  Saab 96, Bellemy Trials, Citroen BXs