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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?

4 comments:

  1. Nice cars but I found the Rochadale owners club to be very insular. When asking to join I was told I had to own a Rochdale, fair enough, but when I tried to buy one I found that these cars almost exclusively only come up for sale on the club web forums, which are only open to members. A catch 22 situation which the club appears to be happy with. I've only seen one car for sale outside these forums in 5 years.

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  2. The http://www.rochdale-owners-club.co.uk/ welcome any new members whether they own a Rochdale or not, a very friendly and helpful club,
    just e-mail :- secretary@rochdale-owners-club.co.uk
    Most car club web sites have areas just for members or there would be less need to join a club. As for Rochdales for sale there have been lots on e-bay in the last 5 years and on other car sale web sites, 2 on www.carandclassic.co.uk at the moment, were 4 up to last week.

    I have been researching these cars for the past 30 years, so if you have been a previous owner, been in any way involved with them, own any photographs or would just like some more information yourself please get in touch through the email
    rochdale-olympic@talktalk.net

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  4. Thanks Duffy. Unfortunately I can see only 2 Olympics for sale on CaCs and I will try to contact the owners! Actually, I would be even more interested in a Rochdale GT: any tips on that front? I am also available for PMs at brit.gasoline@yahoo.com, but I am happy to heat up the discussion here on the blog!

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