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Homepage. This page: Help is needed in tracing this vintage Ford/Austin trials car, originally built in the early 1950s.

The "Mah Special".

Nick dropped me a line, as he is researching a car that his grandfather built for trialling, shortly after the war. I've featured it in the motoring memories section in the hope that someone might recognise it, or better still, knows where it is now or what happened to it. Over to Nick..

Background to this Austin 7 based trials special.

Nick is researching the history of this old trials car, and wonders whatever became of it. If anyone can shed any light on this great little car, by all means drop me a line and I'll forward any info to Nick. It featured Ford & Wolseley running gear, an Austin 7 chassis, one-off bodywork featuring an adapted Ford 8 grille, and competed in 750MC events throughout the 1950s. Trialling was and still is a very popular pastime, and photos of a similar trials car of the era can be found on this page, also at oldclassiccar.
Austin 7 based trials car competing in the 1950s
Austin 7 special
"I am trying to locate a car my grandfather built from scratch in 1950. The registration was RPA 539, an M&H special, and was registered in 1949 or 1950 with the DVLA, but they have no record of it. I can get a picture of it if that helps at all. My grandfather's name was Charles Henry Harris, although he was known as Harry or C.H. The engine was retrieved from a sunken boat in Chichester, and the chassis was made from scratch. The car was then used for a period of time in sporting trials. below is everything I have accumulated in my search so far.

The car was called the Mah special, it had an 1172 Ford engine with an Aquaplane head, fitted twin SU carbs mated to a Wolseley 4 speed gearbox, mounted on an Austin Seven chassis, he competed with the likes of Dees of Croydon - I can't remember the Christian name of Mr Dees, also Percy Barden Builders, who owned a large estate in Maidstone which was used for car trials before he developed it into the massive housing estate that it is today, Rex Chapple (undertakers) also comes to mind. Rex drove and his glamorous wife was the passenger from Bromley in Kent, plus many others from Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

After the War my grandfather, who had won an Engineering scholarship as a young man and studied at the Walthamstow College, and like many after the war started his own car business in Redhill, was soon working for Rob Walker of Pipbrook Garage, Dorking, which brings me to the point that the M & H special was a very well designed car, all the chalk drawing were on all the workshop doors, it looked as if it was straight out of a car factory. At an airfield sprint, he towed the car on a dolly behind a 1937 Hillman, and we came across a guy who had a car which looked very similar, he and my father chatted, he turned out later to be Colin Chapman of Lotus.

His name was Charles Henry Harris, but always known as Harry, born in 1908, and lived in London until bombed out in 1939. He lived at 162 Cromwell Road, Redhill in Surrey, and was a member of the 750 Motor Club. I was born in 1943 and at the age of 5, had already got the car up and running. Lawton and Wilson of Streatham, a big Rootes dealer, were trialling at the same time, and were friends of my granddad.

It would mean a great deal to my family if we found this car, and any help would be very gratefully received."

Nick de Meyer

Trials car

Homebuilt trials car competing on an event
Thanks for sending the information over Nick, very interesting. For anyone interested in the subject of special building in the post-war years, the Ford-based specials section may be of interest, as may the period tuning company pages, where specialist component suppliers such as Aquaplane and Bowden are featured.
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