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R1. Number 45. 1952 LeMans 1½ Litre Class Winner

The 1951/52 LeMans 24-hour races allowed production-based prototypes (hence Jowetts R1 brochure). The factory decided that a lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamic version of the standard car would be more competitive. The ‘51’ car had featured front ‘cycle’ wings, by ‘52’ these had been regulated out, thus the two 52 cars had faired in wings, the 51 car being altered to look the same. The engines were tuned to give as much power as Charles Grandfield thought they could reliably take for 25 hours! He wasn’t far off. The opposition 1 ½ Litres often had 90-110 bhp, but not good for 24 hours and besides we are told that “Bradford horses had great big hairy legs!” So these cars ran in 52 looking like old 45 here today, but one was orange and the other green, with 45 in bleu in honour of the entrants (not Jowetts) nationality — French. Marcel Bequart, a sure way of obtaining at least one entry into a French race. That this is the class-winning car can be verified by its chassis number and the traces of bleu found on the chassis. (Not those clumsy blue areas naughtied in by the previous restorer who failed to find the chassis number.)

A brief post LeMans history of 45 is as follows: -

1. Rescued from the firms scrap compound by apprentices, minus engine, instruments, tanks and floors and the two chassis halves re-united and fitted with a Vauxhall engine and 2+2 seating!

2. Discovered in Bradford by the late Roger Barratt, who carried out a hurried restoration using many Javelin parts, wrong seats, floor and instruments and indeed the wrong colour, however he did produce a runner.

3. Bought by Dennis Sparrow and Peter Dixon and thereafter raced three times, before it was noted that the body was self-destructing due to the absence of many of its original mountings. The car was then rested.

4. Gradual restoration, including attention to rusted out chassis diagonal tubes, re placement of door skins and body flanges etc. With the approach of the 2001 LeMans retrospective, the restoration pace picked up, new floors, seats, instruments, full rewire, new tank re-spray etc. i.e. last nut and bolt job in 3 ½ months, phew!! The car was finished on the LeMans grid. Many members helped us with the expense of getting to LeMans, including JOAC and the JCC themselves. Thanks again.

We hope that you like her.        Peter Dixon and Dennis Sparrow



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