Format: 2019-06-19 21:41:31

Kieft 1100 Sports Racer 1954 11/54/2-The Pavilion Gardens 9048

Year:
Chassis number:
11/54/2
Engine number:
FWA/ET515/6152
Body number:
Unknown
The Pavilion Gardens
Auction House: H&H Classics
Registration number:
NJW 60
Sold for: £ 57.200

"The 1100cc Kieft is two cars in one. First of all, it is a smooth, quiet and tractable sports model, with perfect road manners. Fitted with the standard full-width screen, it would be quite practical as an everyday conveyance, and the remarkable resistance to impact possessed by fibreglass bodies might well prove valuable on our grossly overcrowded roads. Secondly, it is a competition model, designed ab initio for this work. Thus it already has brakes, road holding and steering that are quite adequate for racing, and requires no extra equipment for this purpose. The engine gave every sign that it will stand up to the most gruelling event, and this is the sort of car that may well win victories by going on motoring when the rest have stopped" (John Bolster, Autosport January 1955).
Cyril Kieft was born in Swansea in 1911 and, following in his father's footsteps, created a successful career in the steel industry. By the middle of 1949 his various businesses were booming and he felt able to devote more time to his hobbies, which included motorsport. He decided it was time to get behind the wheel himself and purchased a 500cc JAP-engined Marwyn Formula 3 car. However, he quickly became disenchanted with the way it was made. Moreover, while awaiting his turn at Lydstep hillclimb in Wales, the dangers of the sport were brought into focus when the preceding competitor rolled his car. With his own fears fuelled by those of his family, his time as a driver ceased almost before it had started. His role as a successful manufacturer though, was just about to begin.
Confident that he could build a better racer than the Marwyn, he set up shop in Bridgend and commenced production of his first Formula 3 contender. Though initially uncompetitive on the circuit, the newcomer quickly showed promise in hillclimbs and achieved early success in the hands of such hillclimb-masters as Michael Christie and Ken Wharton. In November 1950 a pair of MKI F3 Kiefts driven by Ken Gregory, Jack Neill and a young Stirling Moss set 13 new 350cc and 500cc international records at Montlhéry. As a result of this success, Moss and Gregory joined forces with Cyril Kieft to form Kieft and Company Ltd. Moss went on to achieve many successes in the cars, but nobody did more for the marque than Don Parker, who scored 22 victories in 1952 and 30 in 1953, winning the F3 championship outright in both years.
By 1953, what was now known as Kieft Cars Ltd had moved from Bridgend to Wolverhampton and professional designer Gordon Bedson had joined from Vickers. Its ambitions expanded to encompass F2 and even F1, with Kiefts finishing first and second in the Lisbon Grand Prix. For the following year it was decided to manufacture a two-seater sports car for race and road use. The resulting Kieft 1100 was notable for two things - it was the first car ever powered by the former fire pump OHC four-cylinder FWA Coventry Climax engine and the first to be clad in a one-piece fibreglass body.
The 1100's chassis was fabricated from 3.25-inch steel tube. The suspension was independent all round by wishbones and coil springs at the front and wishbones and a transverse leaf spring at the rear. Braking was by 11-inch drums and steering by rack and pinion. The 1098cc FWA engine produced 72bhp at 6,400rpm - sufficient to power the light, fibreglass-bodied two-seater to a top speed of some 110mph. Just five (some sources claim six) Kieft 1100 models left the factory as complete cars. The first, that carried the registration `NDA 172', competed in the 1954 Le Mans 24 hour race in the hands of Alan Rippon and William Black. The second more or less identical car, `NJW 60', is the example now offered for sale.
Completed in 1954, it was campaigned that July by Kieft's star driver Don Parker at Silverstone (placing 3rd-in-class behind Von Hanstein's Porsche and Reece's OSCA) and Fairwood. Allocated to Parker and Welshman David Boshier-Jones for the Dundrod Tourist Trophy - the fifth round of the World Sportscar Championship - some two months later, it ran well until forced to retire with front suspension failure (interestingly, the other Works-entered Kieft 1100 went on to finish 2nd-in-class, while the blue riband event was won by the Hawthorn / Trintignant Ferrari 750 Monza). Initially sporting the registration `LDA 1' - a number plate `borrowed' from one of the MG-powered central-seater Kiefts - chassis 11/54/2 was re-registered as `NJW 60' following its acquisition by Maurice Higgins in August 1954 (the car presumably being loaned to the Works for the Tourist Trophy). Eccles Garage of West Bromwich traded the Kieft to Michael Hemens in 1956 and he sold it to Rupert Sherwin a year later, within whose family it has remained ever since.
Photos in the Kieft's history file show Godfrey Sherwin at speed during the Silverstone Eight Clubs meeting of 1958 and it was he, a trained motor engineer, who extensively restored the car in time to enjoy the 1992 Norwich Union Classic. A new cylinder head was subsequently sourced for its very early Coventry-Climax FWA engine (number FWA/ET515/6152) from Mike Brotherwood and the Kieft maintained in full running order until Godfrey Sherwin passed away in December 2009. It is now being offered for sale by his family, complete with copies of the aforementioned history file that not only contains photos of the car competing in period, but ones covering its restoration, its participation in the Norwich Union Classic and the 2009 Kop Hill hillclimb, plus correspondence from Coventry-Climax and assorted MOTs etc.
A very rare British sports racer, with period Works competition history, that represents a one-off opportunity for aficionados of the fascinating Kieft marque.

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