Post by spottedlaurel on Jun 12, 2008 20:49:18 GMT
Inspired by NigelBickle's recent purchase of a 117 coupe, I dug through my folder of archive stuff on that marque (fairly small, mostly Piazza and other stuff from US mag's where they got a wider range).
I found a few bits on the Bellet, some of which intriguingly appeared to show that there have been some here in the UK.
Practical Classics March 1985. Wonder what Mr Tapp and his friend did with it. Anyone fancy trying to make contact with him?
So, looks like exports were planned. Quite early too for the UK.
And here's one arriving! Autocar 4 March 1966.
Bit more recent. Given the money they were after, does it still exist somewhere? Ad from Autosport 19 Nov 1992.
Another racer, saloon this time.
And one on UK plates! DVLA said it survived (or was taxed at least) until 1982, but oddly said it was first registered in 1981. Typo? They listed it with 1597cc engine, ad says it had something British - is that the capacity of a Ford X-Flow?
I've seen something which suggested that one of the Japanese marques, maybe Isuzu, suffered at the hands of a dodgy first attempt at importing them. Think it was from an old issue of Car, will try and find that at some point.
Some excellent snippets there SL. I especially like the pic of the coupé on the dockside.
Makes you wonder what else there was.
As a slight tangent, we are gradually getting deeper into Honda's inner sanctum at work so I may be able to see if I can find some info on the yellow 1300 Coupe 9 that was featured in Autocar. Be great to know if they have a record of it still.
I'd be suprised if the racing ones aren't still around somewhere to be honest. Old racing cars tend to live in large collections of old racing cars, so it may well be tucked up in a barn somewhere...
If you've got any more pictures of it I'll ask on Ten Tenths.
Sadly that’s the only one I have HoTWire, but it’d be great if you could ask. I agree (or would at least like to think) it may well still be about, though perhaps now abroad? At that price and with some provenance, proper papers etc cars like that move in more rarefied circles.
I’d like to get in touch with that chap who has loads of old photographs they featured in Retro Cars once, nickname The Ferret I think? Wonder if he could dig out something on either of those racing cars. The combination of Bruce McLaren and Goodwood might ring a bell with somebody.
Just doing a bit of Googling on Neville Trickett, main thing he was responsible for (and possibly still makes?) was those cutdown Minisprint things. Maybe there’s a chance of contacting him direct.
About the archive, yes there is a lot in it if I might somewhat immodestly say. I searched through a giant amount of old mag’s and extracted everything and anything on Japanese marques (shame to pull apart those magazines, but it was the only way I could hope to find anything). The struggle is filing it all in way it can be accessed, but hopefully when the mega-shed gets shelved out that should be easier. It was just lucky here that Isuzu was a small make so there wasn’t much to plough through.
Motor and Autocar had quite a bit on the Japanese makes even before they were sold here, the PR people were obviously good at sending stuff out across the world to build up awareness and get customers ready to accept these cars.
Fascinating stuff. I'd like to know whether Isuzu actually set up a consessionaire in the UK, or whether these were private imports - I don't recall seeing anything about Isuzu doing this until 1985 (would I be corrected in assuming it was via International motors?). I read that a few Contessas made it here too.
Next you'll be finding PMC in the UK achieve material!
There was some argy bargy when the Piazza was imported - officially the only Isuzu car sent to the UK.
There may well have been an earlier consessionaire in the era of the Bellett, but the two main players in 1985\6 were Alan Day and International Motors who were concerned with the sale of 300 Piazzas imported by Isuzu GB who floundered in the wake of stultified sales.
Alan Day made the first move with Isuzu in Japan, purchasing the liquidated stock from Sheerness Docks and selling them through Subaru and Mercedes dealers.
Although the Alan Day group established earlier links with Isuzu Japan, it was International Motors who helped commission development of the later HBL (Handling By Lotus) models. They later took on the job of selling the cars from Alan Day, with their financial backing.
IM are nowadays reviled by Piazza ownders, for it was they who abandoned the model towards the end of its' life, making them unviable to maintain and use. Servicing and spares costs were pushed up to ridiculous levels as they were not interested in retailing the Piazza when the Trooper was a far more lucrative prospect. This neglect reached its zenith in 1990 when just 38 HBL cars were imported.
International Motors also had a somewhat Stalinist approach to maintaining their stock of parts, destroying millions of pounds of stock to make room in their warehouses as to them the Piazza was not a viable proposition by the late 80's. This is the main reason why body panels and certain mechanical components (e.g. HBL brake discs) are almost unavailable today, even directly from Isuzu in Japan.