1948' Lea Francis 141Hp Sports
We are delighted to offer this strikingly beautiful 1948 Lea Francis 14HP Sports, one of a mere 137 made of which approximately 40 survive.
It must have made quite an impression in 1948 as one of the most modern looking sports cars with echoes of BMW 328 and Jaguar XK120, although the latter would not be available to buy for another couple of years.
Based on the 14HP saloon, the Sports model featured a one foot shorter chassis and a tuned version of the superb Hugh Rose designed twin high camshaft four cylinder engine which is of course very similar to the classic Riley 12/4 which Rose was also responsible for.
The Lea Francis was pre-war in its conception with a beam front axle and aluminium over ash construction of the body. However, it is well-engineered and a terrific car to drive. The Girling rod operated brakes were the finest brakes of the day and are free of the maintenance issues that bedevil hydraulics.
Despite the small number of cars made, the 14HP Sports was highly thought of in its day and Lea Francis supplied a number of chassis to Connaught engineering to form the basis of their L- Type sports cars. The engines were also developed by Connaught to use in their successful A-Type Formula 2 racing cars. They were also used in America for midget car racing.
The 14HP Sports featured here was bought new as a 21st birthday present for Faye Gibbons, daughter of James Gibbons of James Gibbons Ltd, Wolverhampton (one of the oldest lockmaking companies in Britain) having been delivered to Henry Garner Ltd. of Birmingham on 20th October, 1948. It was finished in electric blue which must have cut one hell of a dash in austere post war Britain.
After a spell on the south coast the Leaf returned to the Wolverhampton are in the custodianship of first Berty Hopcutt and then Billy Davis. In 1978 John Ham of Claverley, Shropshire acquired the car and restored it, changing the colour of both exterior and interior to cream. Interestingly Ham lived very close to the home of the first owner, Faye Gibbons. In 2000 the car was acquired by Peter Plummer in Hampshire who sold it on to a Mr Tindal in 2002. He was to retain the car until 2018 when it was sold at auction to the last owner.
Upon acquiring the car, we decided the paint and interior were in need of a refresh so the decision was taken to refinish the car in its original colour of electric blue. A bare metal repaint was undertaken with much remedial work done to obtain the correct fit of the wings and doors. We didn’t know what colour the interior was originally so we chose a discreet chocolate brown. The white steering wheel was also refurbished but subtly toned down to a more gentle cream colour. Much of the brightwork has also been re-plated. The result, we feel, looks stunning and really shows off the Leaf’s beautiful curves to full effect.
The car comes with a tonneau and full weather equipment including sidescreens. The aero screens were fitted by the previous owner, a keen sporting motorist, who had a new exhaust system fabricated at the same time by Maniflow.
Previous mechanical work includes a top end overhaul including the fitment of hardened valve seats.
There is an extensive history file with the car with lots of receipts, old MoTs and much technical information. The Lea Francis Owners Club offers keen support to the owners of these cars and spares are still available from Lea Francis Cars.
The 14HP Sports has become a bit of a forgotten car and deserves to be recognised for the superb car it was – possibly the finest British sports car you could buy in 1948. This example is the best currently on the market and would surely gain entry to some prestigious events.
We would happily consider an interesting vehicle in part exchange.
To arrange a viewing call James or contact us via our website.
Thank you for reading.
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- 28 Janvier 2021