LAC Members since 1967

Anthony, Carolyn and Richard Taylor celebrate 50 years of Autotune Ltd. at their Rishton workshop. Life and work has evolved over the past years, with work on cars when we started, building Lotus Elans, to avoid purchase tax, servicing customers` GT 40s, Astons, DB2 to DB6,and Jaguar E types and Mk 2s, as regular every day road cars. Back then people would ask why we always drove these awful cars, why not go and buy a super new Ford? Why?!

There were always racing cars in the workshop, usually single seaters, as hill climbing in this area was really big with LAC, Lancs. Car Club and Longton Motor Club all running sprint and hillclimb championships.

Chris Lee asked recently if we remembered winning all three championships in the same year, with our magnificent Formula Atlantic Ensign.

As a family we were pleased to win the Historic Sports Car Club Championship in the brutal Chevrolet powered Kincraft, over 2 Litre, in 1978 and then two years later won it again in the very pretty Willment BRM; the latter car held the Class Record at Thruxton for a few years.


We havesupported all forms of motorsport, maintaining and participating, and always with an LAC badge on the cars. The Goodwood Revival has always been our favourite event, great atmosphere, best parties, good racing and we have missed only two since it began, driving the McLaren M1B, Chinooks and the Willment BRM.

The most iconic moment was when all mechanics sported the LAC badges at the Goodwood Revival, and Canadian customer Jay Esterer who had never raced in England, seen the circuit, and driven the 5.7cc Chinook only once since we rebuilt it from the ground upward, won the Whitsun Trophy race outright. What a weekend! He had owned the car since he was 17 and sent it across for a rebuild. Dreams come true!


To keep us up to date, we sponsored and competed in the Harewood Sprint in June driving the Aristocat Jaguar, manufactured here at Autotune, and the July Aintree Sprint in a Lister Knobbly Jaguar which we won, and still hold the Class Record in the Aristocat.

So, it has been thoroughly enjoyable, hard graft, long hours, little spare time, but has taken us all racing around the world, across Europe, America, Canada and South Africa. And now son, Richard who gained a First Class Honours Degree in Motor Sport Engineering is hard at it in the workshop, along with another of his Graduate Engineering pals, which is currently full of interesting McLarens and Lolas; nothing has changed only the age group.

JAG CORNER Memories Of A Mark 1 Jaguar

The 2.4 and 3.4 later known as the Mark 1 is one of the forgotten cars within the Jaguar range. When it was originally launched as the 2.4 in 1955 it was an instant success. Later in 1957 when the 3.4 was launched there can be no doubt that Jaguar had single-handedly opened up a completely new car market, the compact high performance saloon car. The 3.4 had the looks, 120 mph top speed, reputed 210 bhp, blistering pace and disc brakes to stop it. It was driven by the stars of the day and the everyday transport for the Formula 1 World Champion Mike Hawthorn. It was the equivalent of the BMW M3 or Audi A4 Sport.

As soon as the Mark 2 was launched in 1959 no one really wanted a 2.4 or 3.4 anymore. It has become a rare car, a perfect example of Jaguar’s ambition in the 1950’s but, it should never be forgotten that without it there would have been no Mark 2, which was such a commercial success for the Company. There have been three Mark 1s in my life:

HHG 880 – my father’s car, which he owned from 1959 to 1963.

Another view of HHG 880, note the LAC badge on the left of the three attached to the number plate.
My sister and I in front of HHG 880. My pedal car was a close second in my affections to the Jaguar.

PAM 956 – my first Mark 1 which I bought in 1994

WLF 653 – the replacement to PAM which I bought in 2007.

As with most classic car enthusiasts you are usually drawn to the cars of your childhood or youth. When my father bought HHG 880 he was probably the perfect target customer for Jaguar. He was in his 30’s with two young children, after an Armstrong Siddeley, Jowett Javelin and a Mark 7 Jaguar, not necessarily in that order, the 3.4 must have been a revelation. I was three years old when the car was bought so we had it for those formative years for a boy when cars are special. It was a light grey colour with a red leather interior.

I always insisted that I sat in the front of the car, but at three and four years old I was too small to see out of the front windscreen. My father had a small four legged wooden stool made for me which fitted snugly between the two

A stop on the way to a holiday in the early 1960’s.

front seats above the transmission tunnel. This was possible because the handbrake for the Mark 1 was between the driver’s seat and driver’s door. Nowadays people would be horrified by the thought of a child on a stool in the front of a car. But we did thousands of miles without any problems, though I do remember my father’s left arm holding me back if he had to brake sharply.

For a compact car there was plenty of space. I remember that my bike was put in the back; it fitted upright between the front seats and the rear seat. Sometimes my Grandfather was with us and he had to sit in the back with my bike whilst I was in the front.

My older sister and I had a long running competition on who had been driven the faster in the car. I could only claim 107mph on a three lane straight road near what is now British Aerospace in Samlesbury. Nowadays when I drive on this road it is a wide two lane road with two sets of traffic lights on it and a 50mph speed limit. I wonder whether this is an example of the last care-free years of motoring, or was my father being irresponsible. He certainly did not seem so to me at the time, it was all very exciting!

When we stayed with my Grandparents at the weekend in St Annes I would help clean the car, my responsibility was polishing the leaping Jaguar mascot and cleaning its teeth, as well as polishing the two chrome tail pipes. If I was lucky I was taken out for a drive down the lanes near the market garden area. I sat on my father’s knee and steered the car. Other times I sat in the passenger seat and changed gear when told, so I suppose I can claim that I mastered the Moss gearbox from an early age.

Sadly in 1963 the time came to sell the car but I always remember that car with great affection knowing that one day I would have a Mark 1.

Duncan Hopkinson



The Peter Collins Trophy

At the 2018 Sportsman’s Lunch the ‘Peter Collins’ Trophy and replica was presented to our guest speaker, motorsport legend, Brian Redman by his long term friend Mike Wood. Several people asked about the Trophy and its history.

Mike and Brian with the Trophy

There is a nice tie in to Brian in that the Trophy was won by Peter Collins in 1958 shorly before his career was tragically cut shot and Brian’s own career was just begining.

So here is some information about the career of Peter Collins and the Trophy itself.

The Lancashire Automobile Club is proud to present the ‘Peter Collins Trophy’ annually. It is presented to a member of the Club adjudged to have shown the most meritorious performance during the year. Some people may wonder who Peter Collins was and how the Club came to be in possession of such a prestigious trophy.

Firstly the man. Peter Collins was born in Kidderminster on the 8th November, 1931 to well known motor trader, Pat and wife Elaine. Young Collins got his first racing car, a Cooper Mk II, in 1948, apparently a birthday present from his parents. His father’s bought Stirling Moss’s old Mk II, and the pair would make their debuts early in 1949 at the Goodwood Easter Meeting.

The Mk II wouldn’t last long, by June it had been sold to Bill Cox and replaced with a long chassis Mk III, initially fitted with JAP twin for hillclimbs. For 1951, he used a JBS, which had looked set to genuinely challenge Cooper, but his 500 career was almost over, having been spotted by the big teams. Peter won the SUNBAC race at Silverstone in September and his cup is still presented annually for the most meritorious drive of the season.

On the recommendation of Reg Parnell, Collins had been taken on by John Wyer for the Aston Martin sports car team. He was a fine endurance racer, taking the Aston to victory in the 1952 Goodwood 9 Hours race, the 1953 TT, and second places at Le Mans in 1955 (with Paul Frere) and 1956 (with Moss). He would also appear in sports cars for Ferrari and Mercedes.

Peter was already a grand Prix driver, having made his debut at the age of just 20 (and only two seasons of racing) with the HWM-Alta. Spotted by HWM founders John Heath and George Abecassis (both also early Cooper customers), young Collins had partnered Moss and Lance Macklin through the 1951 European F2 season.

When F2 was adopted as the World Championship category for 1952, he found himself a Grand Prix driver. His best Championship finish that year was a sixth place in the 1952 French Grand Prix.

For 1954, he was recruited by Tony Vandervell to drive the Thinwall Special. This 4.5 litre, Ferrari-derived beast ran in the popular Formula Libre class, where Peter embarrassed the high profile BRMs.

That same year, he was also the first to drive the original Vanwall Special that was designed for Formula 1. Peter was entered in three Grand Prix, but this original car was not a pacesetter until Colin Chapman reworked the chassis and Frank Costin clothed it in the aerodynamic bodywork to create the classic Vanwall. Peter would never drive this car, having been poached by BRM for 1955. This proved a mistake as he raced the V16, and was left kicking his heels waiting for the new Grand Prix Type 25. He made two World Championship appearances in the Owen Maserati and a works 250F drive in the Italian Grand Prix but this was good enough to land him the prize of a works Ferrari drive for 1956, partnering Fangio. Peter was, in fact, recommended by his great friend Mike Hawthorn, who wanted to return to Britain to support his recently widowed mother.

Partnering Fangio, Peter matured dramatically as a driver, he won at both Spa-Francorchamps and Reims, and went to the Monza finale with a chance of taking the title. What followed has become legend. When Fangio retired with steering failure, it was clear that taking the win and extra point for fastest lap could deliver Peter the Championship. By lap 30 of 50, he was into second place, and whilst Moss’ Maserati was some way ahead, it was not impossible. Indeed, on lap 45, Moss ran out of fuel, only for his team-mate Piotti to tuck in behind and shove him back to the pits. Fangio, meanwhile was expected to take over Luigi Musso’s car, to seek the one point that would retain him the title. But Musso ignored all instructions to hand over his car. When Collins came in on lap 35 for a tyre check, he spotted Fangio on the pit wall, and voluntarily offered his car, so giving up any chance of the title. A remarkable gesture of sportsmanship. This is the kind of spirit which deserves the Lancashire Automobile Club awarding the Peter Collins Trophy!

For 1957, Fangio was replaced by the returning Hawthorn. The Lancia-Ferrari was rather outclassed by Fangio’s Maserati, and the Vanwall, but whilst seeing no wins, Peter again played his part in history. At the German Grand Prix, Fangio delivered one of the greatest drives of all time as he fought back from a botched fuel stop, passing both Collins and Hawthorn on the penultimate lap. Also in February of that year, Peter married an American girl, Louise Cordier, an actress playing in the “Seven Year Itch” and daughter of the assistant to the United Nations Secretary General and they were the golden couple of the time, living on a yacht in Monaco harbour.

For the 1958 season Ferrari entered the Dino 246, and a titanic battle developed between the Ferraris of Peter and Mike on one side, and the Vanwalls of Moss and Tony Brooks on the other. Peter suffered reliability problems in the early races, but it all come together at the British Grand Prix, and he scored his third win. Peter found time to compete in ‘club’ events and it was at the Daily Express meeting at Silverstone he won the International Trophy Race and was awarded the Daily Express Trophy.

On the 3rd August 1958, Peter and Hawthorn were leading at the Nürburgring, just as a year previously, this time being chased down by Tony Brooks. Brooks took the lead early on the eleventh lap, but Peter was fighting back. Peter’s got the car loose through the twisty Pflanzgarten sequence, he tried repeatedly to collect the car, but clipped a ditch. The car somersaulted, throwing Peter out, head first into the one tree standing clear of the forest. Peter Collins died later that evening in hospital. Though just 27 years old, he had won three Grand Prix, and would undoubtedly have been a championship contender for many more years.

Mike Hawthorn, who had seen the accident unfold, was devastated at the loss of his friend. Although he completed the season to become the first British World Champion, he was ready to retire from the sport. Of course, just a few months later he was also killed, driving his road going Jaguar near his home in Farnham. The story of Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn is told in Chris Nixon’s book “Mon Ami Mate”.

Peter Collins’ grave is in Stone Church grounds, near Kidderminster. There’s a stained glass window in the church to commemorate his life.

And finally the Trophy.

As a lasting tribute the Collins family passed many of Peters trophies to leading motor clubs. The Lancashire Automobile Club was honoured to receive the Daily Express Trophy awarded for his win at the International Trophy Race held at Silverstone in 1958. This trophy is awarded annually by the Club to the club member adjudged to have show the most meritorious performance during the year to reflect in some small way not just Peter Collins achievements but the manner in which he achieved them.

Centenary Celebrations of the Waddington Fell Open Hill Climb

On the 3rd May this year the Vauxhall 30-98 Register, the LAC and The Preston and District Vintage Car Club joined forces to celebrate the centenary of the Lancashire Automobile Club’s Waddington Fell Open Hill Climb with thirty five Vauxhall 30-98’s taking part in this historic re-enactment.

Exactly 100 years ago the event was won by Joseph Higginson of Stockport, driving the all new prototype Vauxhall 30-98.

A full report will follow here and there will be a full article in All Torque, the LAC members’ magazine. Lookout for further coverage in the press including Lancashire Life and Classic Car Weekly. Click here for an early preview of some of the great photographs taken on the day, more to follow.

Also see our history article in the timeline.

On the 3rd May this year the Vauxhall 30-98 Register, the LAC and The Preston and District Vintage Car Club joined forces to celebrate the centenary of the Lancashire Automobile Club’s Waddington Fell Open Hill Climb with thirty five Vauxhall 30-98’s taking part in this historic re-enactment.

Exactly 100 years ago the event was won by Joseph Higginson of Stockport, driving the all new prototype Vauxhall 30-98.

A full report will follow here and there will be a full article in All Torque, the LAC members’ magazine. Lookout for further coverage in the press including Lancashire Life and Classic Car Weekly. Click here for an early preview of some of the great photographs taken on the day, more to follow.

Also see our history article in the timeline.


Ethanol in Fuel

I have been asked several times about the amount of ethanol being added to petrol to satisfy the ‘green lobby’ and EU regulations. As with all these things the answer is it’s not straightforward. Petrol companies are permitted to add up to 5% ethanol without declaring it. I believe most major suppliers are currently pretty close to this figure. It is worth noting that there is some pressure for the EU (and that would include us) to go up to 10% without companies having to declare it.

It is claimed that even at 10% the amount is unlikely to cause damage to a ‘standard car’. From reading articles I would suggest that classics are not ‘standard cars’ in this respect – more later.

It is possible for far larger amounts of ethanol to be added provided this is declared by the retailer at the point of sale. Some garages are currently selling E85 petrol and as the name suggests this has 85% ethanol and this should only be used in cars where the manufacturer states in can be used.

Several overseas markets have sales of 100% ethanol but their cars are specifically modified and adapted for this use. Such countries include Brazil and South Africa.

So what can happen if fuel containing ethanol is used in older classic cars? There are many reports of different problems but the most likely ones fall into three groups:

Loosening of pre existing contaminants in petrol tanks and fuel systems. Here the ethanol almost acts as a stripper loosening deposits including rust from any surface it comes into prolonged contact with. This material can then block filters and carburetor jets.

Chemical reactions with existing rubbers, resins, plastics and sealants etc. The effects on resins glass fibre fuel tanks can be of great concern but ‘O’ rings can turn to a sort of mush and plastic fuel lines can either leak or turn brittle depending on chemical composition. Fuel tanks with rubber liners are at risk and this is one for the racing fraternity to be concerned about. Having said that there are some classics with tank liners which may also be at risk.

The final issue is, I believe, of importance not only to classic car owners but to all users of this stuff. Ethanol is hydroscopic (like some brake fluids). That means it attracts and retains water. This can come from any source including water vapour in the air. The greater the moisture content in the ethanol the less likely it is to burn. If saturated it simply will not burn. That means if a car is not used for long periods the amount of moisture in the fuel may increase to a point where the engine simple will not start. In this case the fuel system will need draining and fresh fuel added to rectify the problem. Not an issue if the vehicle is used regularly but may become one where a car is laid up for several months over winter say.

Short answer is that it is highly likely the fuel he purchased contained some ethanol probably less than 5% but still enough to potentially cause issues.

Chris Lee
Vice President & Competition Secretary
Lancashire Automobile Club (Est 1902

Lancashire Automobile Club – Navigator’s Handbook

The Lancashire Automobile Club is one of the oldest motor clubs in the world and has a long history of organising events both on the highway and track. Amongst the current events are a number of road events, known as Touring Assemblies.

Some of these events, such as the St Georges Day Rally, Great Manchester to Blackpool Car Run and the Coast to Coast Classic Car Run, require simple navigation techniques but others such as the Fellsman involve more advanced navigational knowledge.

To assist entrants and to promote these events the club has prepared a Navigator’s Handbook which explores the various techniques and gives useful pointers and tips to entrants new and old. With 19 pages and 28 sections the Handbook covers many types of navigation from Tulips to Herringbones as well as in car organisation and control etiquette.

Compiled by the Club’s Competition Secretary, Chris Lee, the Handbook draws on over 40 years experience of preparing route books, competing in events and driving course cars. The book has been checked over by rallying legend Mike Wood and will be a boon to anyone taking part in navigational road events.

So if you want to know about Tulips and Herringbones or the difference between Clock Face and Clock Hand directions download the Navigator’s Handbook.

Chris Lee
Vice President & Competition Secretary
Lancashire Automobile Club (Est 1902)