Wed, 10th Jun 2009 13:15

The Pavilion Gardens

  Lot 42

1968 Rochdale Olympic Phase II

Sold for £2,925

(including buyers premium)

Lot details
Registration No: VWT144F
Chassis No: MGS6851600
Mot Expiry: None

Well established 'special' body builder Rochdale Motor Panels launched the exceptionally well thought out Olympic in 1960. Strong because it was laid up in one piece inside a bolted-together mould, with inner mouldings added while still in the mould to avoid distortion, the Phase I Olympic was designed to accept readily available BMC or Ford running gear. Motoring journalists were astonished at the speed, agility and sheer competence of the design. It had exceptional aerodynamics, aided by a very curved screen and streamlined undertray, light weight ensured by graduated thickness of glassfibre so it was strong where it needed to be and light where it didn't, and ingenious suspension design combined with a low centre of gravity achieved by mounting the engine low and well back in the shell. The Olympic was further refined by its talented designer, Richard Parker, with an opening rear hatch, separated radiator/engine compartments, Ford pre-crossflow 1500 engine, underfloor spare wheel and improved suspension as the Phase II, launched at the Racing Car Show in February 1963. Tested by Motor Sport, the Phase II proved capable of 0-60mph in 11.4sec and an astonishing 114mph top speed, confirmed by other magazines.

Holset Engineering employee Martin Spencer spent £800 and 250 hours building his Phase II, completing it in early 1968 with a very early 1600 crossflow Cortina GT engine, the logical successor to the 1500 and far more tuneable. He wrote up the story of the build in the Holset magazine and it was subsequently also published in Hot Car. Features included a full Rochdale trim kit and twin fuel tanks; these have been cut out by a previous owner so careful re-creation or fitment of an alternative tank will be required. The engine is completely dismantled and a respray is required, together with general restoration. The bodyshell and front subframe appear sound. Only four previous keepers are listed on the log book, the previous owner having had the car for 20 years. The vendor acquired this Rochdale in 2004 but did not have time to start the restoration. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a Phase II Olympic restoration project that, apart from the fuel tanks, has not been modified at all from its original specification. The Rochdale Owners Club, of which the vendor is a Registrar, offers great support to restorers and can supply almost all the parts unique to Olympics, such as the windscreen and front subframe, at very reasonable prices. With the extensive use of proprietary - and widely available - Ford, Triumph and BMC running gear, this Olympic should not be costly to restore and should be a potent and highly enjoyable 2+2 road and rally car when completed.

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