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Homepage. This page: Three cars from the Fairthorpe range in the early 1960s feature in this publication.

Fairthorpe Electron, Electron Minor, & Rockette.

Original sales leaflet from 1962.

Electron Minor car with Triumph engine
This sales leaflet describes the specification and prices for the three Fairthorpe cars that eager home-based spanner wielders could choose from. The early 1960s was an interesting period for home-built cars. Throughout the 1950s, interest in building a car - usually sporty - in a home garage showed little sign of fading. As a result, many different companies offered car bodyshells, chassis and tuning parts to suit the booming special-building market. Enthusiasts would choose the chassis and running gear that best suited their needs, then put together their own kit of parts - either purchased new, or - as was often the case - retrieved from scrapyards for a nominal sum. With the parts gathered together, away they'd go, beavering away industriously in private garages and garden sheds, creating the car of their dreams. Or not. While many car builds did reach a successful conclusion, a good number - perhaps the majority in fact - never saw it through to completion.
By the early 1960s, as private incomes continued to climb, the market began to change. Interest in "pure" special building, by amassing parts and designing a car on the back of an envelope, was beginning to wane. This was in part due to the launch of affordable two-seat sportscars by mainstream manufacturers, and also the emergence of the more organised "kit car", or "component car", market that was beginning to establish itself. Kit cars were, and indeed are to this day, just that. A full kit of parts would be bought from its manufacturer for self-assembly, complete with build instructions, tips and advice, added to where necessary by further components sourced from elsewhere, as and when required. Into this market Fairthorpe Limited marketed the Electron, the Electron Minor, and the Rockette. This particular sales leaflet dates to 1962, and on its cover are examples of the Rockette, the racy Electron, and the cut-price yet visually similar Electron Minor.
Fairthorpe Electron, Electron Minor and Rockette

Prices and options available to Fairthorpe buyers.

Prices for the three cars on offer are given, cheapest being the Electron Minor, followed by the Rockette, and top of the tree, the Electron.
Understanding that car builders usually want to personalise the specification of their car, many different options were offered. These are listed in the leaflet, and include goodies such as front and rear bumpers, heater, twin windscreen wipers, windtone horns, and - for the Electron Minor - a supercharger, for which 84 GBP was asked.
Fairthorpe prices

The Rockette.

Further detailed information is then given for each model, the first column being for the Rockette. Standard fitment in this car was the six-cylinder 1600cc Triumph engine, which produced around 70bhp. Fuel and air was provided either by twin Solex carburettors, or else a triple SU setup. I'm sure this would have made for a very enjoyable drive, aided by the fine exhaust note produced by Triumph's straight six engine, and the lightweight fibreglass body. Top speed was in the 95-105mph region.
Fairthorpe specs

Electron.

Column two lists the spec for the best of the bunch, the Electron with its OHC Coventry Climax FWA (93bhp) or FWE (88bhp) engine. Quoted top speed was a heady 110-120mph, which sounds highly entertaining.

Electron Minor.

The Minor was introduced to offer a lower-cost alternative to the Climax-powered Electron, its price being significantly lower than the two other cars. As with the Rockette, engines sourced from Standard-Triumph were on offer, in either 948cc or 1147cc guise, both units having already seen service in many thousands of S-T products in previous years, notably the Herald. This was a worthy option for people wishing to avoid the more specialist nature of the Coventry Climax unit, tuning parts for the Triumph engine being easy to source. Alternatively, buyers could opt for the Ford Anglia 105E unit, or that from the 109E Consul Classic.

Build It Yourself.

The rear page lays out a comprehensive price list. Figures for the easy option, ie a complete kit of parts, are given for each of the three models, as are individual prices for the component parts, should you wish to use some off-the-shelf items, mixed in with parts and accessories sourced from elsewhere. Fairthorpe knew their market well, and recognised that offering total flexibility in the kits and components they could provide, would meet with approval from their target audience.
Fairthorpe options and prices
A number of these cars have survived into preservation, a fair proportion of which are actively used in competition with great effect. In the late 1980s I found an Electron Minor languishing on someone's driveway. Photos of it can be found elsewhere on OCC: front view and rear view. Curiously, the registration of this "driveway find" Electron was, I think, 958 STD, which now resides on a dreary modern Renault. I wonder if the car survived?
Fairthorpe fans may also be interested to see the following page, in the classic vans and pickups section. This page takes a look at the oddball Atom Wagonette light delivery van.
Return to the Car Collectables section of OCC.

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