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Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy Brit(h)day!

Dear Gentlemen drivers,

On April the 4th it was my birthday (no more silly misspelling I promise :-). I turned 32 and I also reached 1000 users of this blog, quite a good achievement in a quite a memorable day!

To celebrate these overlapping events, I tried to draft a new blog post but I was overwhelmed by the happenings in real life, which sometimes do not let you freely take care of your own passions: my employer, in fact, decided to announce the dismissal of quite a lot of employees around the globe, making me realize all of a sudden how lucky I am now, having a good job during the day and writing a fancy post about British classics by night, and how lost I could have been in a second, if that layoff just hit me, and my family as a consequence.

Of course, I also realized what an unfortunate coincidence that was and how grotesque, absurd and embarrassing it was to have a b-day cake with me in the office premises, ready to be shared with my colleague - which I eventually avoided.

Anyway, that's gone now (or for now?) and I can start going back to my routine with even more enthusiasm than ever. By the way, I just found another weird British Brand to talk about, but that will happen in a separate post later on this week.

This one was just imagined and drafted to the pure sake of sharing with you a bit of my personal life, celebrating with you all, and perhaps trying to stop the clock for a second. Engines will be switched on again very soon.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Rochdale Olympic, a good surprise

Dear fellow Britgasoliners,

I have just discovered something totally new to me. I think I am overall going, slowly but truly, in the direction of focusing my attention on the small, quick, fast 2-seaters built by b-side British manufacturers. After the TVR Grantura in fact, here it comes the Rochdale Olympic. 

Honestly, I had small to none knowledge of this British car since I read about it on Practical Classics this month. However, a quick look at the headlines of the article about that was sufficient to have a crash on her. What caught my eye at first sight was that it looks (as a few authors already noted, I found out later on) pretty much like a mix between a Lotus Elite, a Jag e-type and - unfortunately - a 356 coming with a Zagato-like coachwork. Since 1959 the Olympic came with a full fiberglass monocoque, quite a rarity back in the 60ies when the first exemplary came out from the little factory in Hudson Street, Rochdale. The only other known example of a similar solution could be found on one of the other dream cars of mine, the Lotus Elite.

Wikipedia says it was pretty much a kit car, and that it could be fitted with a 1500 MGA Engine, or a Ford 1600 from the Cortina or even, as of 1961, with the Riley 1.5. I think that could be a good range of opportunities should I (or you) decide to start a restoration project, wouldn't it?

And the price? Ah, that's interesting. Well, romantic enough, a  complete Rochdale kit car could cost you up to 670 GBP back in the days, but even today, the Olympic seems to be a quite affordable, super rare, extremely fascinating and potentially fast and funny entry level car for a collector. I am already scouting the Web to find good bargains, maybe a project car to fit with a fast 1.6 Cortina engine and a good ZF Gearbox. I will probably reach out to the Rochdale Olympic owners' club to know more about the history of the Brand and the initiative of Olympic enthusiasts: they even own the body molds today!

Then, what about you gentlemen? Do you know it or own one? Do you share my love at first sight feeling?