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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?


  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.

  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

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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!