A brief history of Teal Cars Ltd
The Teal car, a loosely based replica of the Bugatti Type 35, was born in 1983. Known at first as a ‘Worsley’ three guys were involved.
Allan Hunter, who had just returned from a business trip to California, Ian Foster, an engineer who had started a motor factor business and Tony Rogers, a part time racing driver were at the Pack Horse Inn, at Affetside, Bury for a chat and a pint.
Allan Hunter told Ian and Tony about his trip to the USA and of a Bugatti he had seen at L.A. airport, which turned out to be a glass fibre replica kit based on the Volkswagen Beetle chassis and engine, with the fibre glass body on top.
Ian, a chassis engineer previously employed at Daimler cars looked at the brochure and described how a new chassis, with the engine in the front could be made, using a donor car more plentiful and with the same layout as a Bugatti. But could it work? The answer was a resounding yes from the other two.
Plans were made, and Allan Hunter suggested that one thousand pounds be collected between them, and that he would return to L.A. to purchase a fibre glass ‘Replicar’ body, the name of the company producing the kits in California.
Six weeks later it arrived in the UK. Measurements were taken, plans and drawings made. The first twelve chassis’ were welded up at Mitchell Shackleton Ltd; the company where Allan Hunter worked.
It was decided to use the British Leyland ‘Morris Marina’ as the donor vehicle as this was plentiful and cheap in many car breakers at the time. These were available with the ‘B’ series 1798cc engine, or ‘A’ series 1275cc engine, with conventional engine in the front, rear wheel drive layout, the same as a Bugatti. These engines were basically the same as the 1800 MGB and 1275 Mini Cooper S cars that were being manufactured at the time, so tuning parts were easily obtained if you wanted them.
The running gear (suspension and axles) were also used from the donor car which made it more cost effective for the builder.
The original body purchased from the USA was used as a mould to make bodies for the ‘Worsley’ by a Heywood fibre glass boat builder, and very soon two cars were finished and ready for evaluation. Needless to say, they were a great success with the trade and public alike.
Ian remembered from his time in the midlands car industry that ‘Worsley’ described a Friday or duff car by the workers, so a new name was needed. There is no definitive answer as to how TEAL was arrived at, and there has been several suggestions. Trafford Engineering Associates Limited seems to be very popular, but may not be the first choice of some, but it is very definitely TEAL Cars.
The cars went from strength to strength initially, until things slowed down, and for one reason or another Ian Foster, now the sole owner of Teal Cars decided a year or two later to sell up.
Enter Bob Jones, a motor engineer, working at the time as an AA patrolman. Bob purchased Teal Cars Ltd in March 1986 and set about improving their desirability.
First improving the mechanics of the car by fitting larger and better engines, like the Triumph 2000 straight six and Datsun 1800 turbo. He also improved their look, by adding new Bugatti like bits and chrome.
Bob had many enquiries from potential customers who wanted an aluminium bodied car, as per the real Bugatti, so in October 1986 he unveiled the Teal Type 35 with aluminium body panels, but retained the basic chassis and engine layout.
This was a great success. Teal Cars flourished, with Bob employing several staff to help manufacture the cars and kits he had in his bulging order book at a factory near Manchester. After the aluminium body, Bob designed eighteen inch wire wheel adaptors for the Marina hubs, another improvement both visually and mechanically.
As sales progressed, not wanting to stand still, he designed and built other models also. The most popular after the Type 35 two seater, was the four seater. This was very similar to the two seater design at the front of the car but behind the front seats a back seat with a conventional tail, for two more persons, and a collapsible canvas hood and full windscreen for weather protection.
Bob also designed and built a replica of the Bugatti Type 59. Using a Jaguar XK twin cam engine, MGB back axle and Ford Granada front uprights this car was a real flyer. Designed along the lines of the original Type 59, driver and passenger space were minimum, but Bob sold more than Ettore Bugatti’s original six cars, before he withdrew them from racing.
The next improvement was the Type 35B, with coil over front suspension, the same as the Type 59 being built, so that bigger and heavier engines could be fitted, like the Jaguar XK and a longer lower chassis and improved steering.
Move forward to 1996 and Bob Jones sells Teal Cars Ltd to Norman Durban, a previous customer of Bob’s, although he still manufactures Teal’s he has orders for until 1998.
As far as is known, no complete cars were manufactured by Norman Durban, who had purchased the rights to the Type 35 two seater only.
The Type 59 and four seater rights were sold separately, to Ted Riley, also a previous customer who made himself the GPB 59, (The Teal Type 59 built to a very high standard) but also no complete cars are believed to have been manufactured since the rights purchase.
This can largely be put down to the government changing the law on registering home built vehicles. (Kit cars) When the new SVA (Single Vehicle type Approval) came into force, cars like the Teal, with lots of open body parts found it very hard to pass, although at least one car has been successfully approved in the present IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) test.
At the present time the Teal Owners Club own the manufacturing rights for the Teal Type 35 two seater.
As far as we know Ted Riley still owns the rights for the Type 59 and four seater tourer.
The Ironsmith Bugatti
Bob (Robert) Koch, now in his 80’s, designed and produced a replica 1927 Bugatti in the United States. It is believe to have been this vehicle that inspired Allan Hunter to have a chat over a pint with Ian Foster and Tony Rogers about producing a replica Bugatti Type 35 in the UK.
His concept was built around several late seventies and eighties Fords as the donor car, Ford Pinto, Mercury bobcat or the Mustang II could be indicated on the order form, the Ironsmith Bugatti would then be adapted for the requested donor vehicle. The Engine, manual transmission, rear axle, front suspension and rack and pinion steering would be harvested from the donor vehicle. Mr Koch sold the business intact in the late eighties and the new owners did produce a few more vehicles apparently.
Mr. Koch proudly shown with Ironsmith No. 1 in approximately 1980 where he was based in Minnesota, USA
Some 60+ Ironsmith Bugatti's were produced during the early to mid-1980's, a handful of turnkey cars and the balance delivered as kits. Koch promoted his kits at Kit Cars shows as pictured below.
The yellow bodied car was that of a buyer who liked to show his vehicle
Image below circa early 1987 with two complete kits aboard a half ton truck, out for delivery.
Photo below is from the early 1980's with Bob exercising his own Ironsmith/ testing suspension supposedly, it being equipped with a Ford V-6 of about 160 HP.
Images courtesy of Robert Koch
Finally some interesting Ironsmith documents
The Dri-Sleeve Moonraker
The Dri-Sleeve company based in Warminster, Wiltshire, UK. The company existed for one year (1971) and produced only six vehicles before closing their doors due to the introduction of VAT. The vehicle they produced was the Dri-sleeve Moonraker, a replica Bugatti Type 37.
Above is vehicle is #6, the last one ever made and is currently located in the United States. The original owner had it shipped to the US when he moved from the UK, where it was stored in a barn for many years.
The body is all hand-formed aluminum except the very rear tail which is fiberglass. It is powered by a 1.6 liter, 4-cyclinder Ford engine and a top-loader Ford 4-speed transmission.
The 1st and 4th factory-builds are owned by one of the people responsible for the design and construction of the prototype in the UK. The second factory-build went to a Rolls-Royce dealer in the Canary Islands. One possibly went to a museum in the UK and the last one is unaccounted for.