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Homepage. This page: A homebuilt fibreglass-bodied Rochdale sportscar dating to the late 1950s.

Rochdale GT.

Ian has been researching a car built by his late father in the 1950s, and below is a photograph of the result, a fibreglass-bodied Rochdale GT using Ford 1172 running gear. Judging by the Rochdale's registration - NNL 774 - it was registered sometime in 1958 or early 1959. Ian's father built up and tuned the Ford-powered car, painting it a bright red. Does anyone know where the car ended up? It doesn't show on a check of the motor vehicle licensing website. Perhaps it is sat in a garage somewhere, un-registered, or possibly lives on but with a different identity? By their nature, home-built specials don't tend to stay un-modified for long, subsequent owners could well have re-worked the car to their own requirements. Maybe someone remembers seeing this car? It spent its early years in and around Northumberland I believe.
The car belonging to Ian's father has one or two features that may help trace its possible whereabouts today. It has, for instance, chrome-plated bumpers front and rear, and a grille in which a badge is positioned. At the rear edge of the front wing is a vertical slot, presumably the location of a pop-up trafficator (indicator), again not something you'd always expect to find on a Ford-based special of this era, many cars now sporting flashing turn signals.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Photo of a Rochdale GT
Of all the Rochdale bodies produced, the GT was the most numerous, having sold in the region of 1,350 examples. Whereas many fifties' fibreglass bodyshells left a great deal to be desired in terms of fit and finish, the GT and its relations (Olympic, ST etc) were quality products, incorporating features such as a curved windscreen and opening door windows, plus quarterlights for added ventilation. It was designed to be an easy fitment onto Ford 8 and 10 chassis, requiring just hand tools and an electric drill to install it. Many creaking Ford saloons were reaching the end of the road by the late 1950s, so sportscar enthusiasts on a budget would simply go out and buy a ropey old Ford (eg E04A, E494A) for 10-15 or so, throw away the bodyshell, and replace it with a sleek sporting job, such as the GT shown above. The (pre-glazed) body was listed at 140, while the option of Hire Purchase was available to spread the costs.
In 1960, Rochdale offered their own tubular chassis to complement their bodyshells, but in 1958 this was not yet available, hence most examples were mated to re-furbished Ford chassis, powered by the ancient 1172cc sidevalve engine. Some engines were left in un-modified trim - having hauled around a steel Ford saloon body for years, even a standard engine could quite easily cope with the lightweight GRP replacement. Others though opted to super-tune their motors, with products from the catalogues of Aquaplane and Willment, to name just two of the component suppliers around at that time.
A number of other Ford-based cars of the 1950s and 1960s can be found on the Ford specials page of this site.
Return to Page 16 in the photograph gallery.

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