Chassis Number: W171
Colour: Dark Green with light green chassis
1949 HRG 1500 Sports
Built on 17th December 1948, W171 was first registered on 28th February 1949 via Caffyns Garage to a Mr T H Coon of Maidstone in Kent, and registered LKL 999, in green, as it is today, and originally built with Automarine body.
W171 was then acquired by then-Cambridge student Derek Annable aged 20, with his brothers - to go trialling. His book Derek Annable BOY RACER is available on the internet, and details the many event he did over 60 years, two featured here - one on the 1950 Chilterns Trial on February 12th 1950 when he won the Salmons Cup, the others show him on the front row of the Goodwood grid on the 12th August 1950 (LKL 999 in white) alongside Frazer Nash 'Patience' which came 2nd.
In the 1950s W171 was then owned by Mr Harvey McWhir who used this car extensively for motor sport in Northern Ireland. Period photos appear here, one from Autosport dated April 4th 1952 on the Omagh Trial, “completing test 4 at no mean rate of knots”. Another shows W171 on the 1952 Circuit of Ireland parked by a ‘Telefon’ box, both competitors dressed in period duffle coats!
17 references to Harvey McWhir competing between 1951 and 1955 are as follows:
Knockagh Hill Climb
Ulster AC Trial
Newry Spring Trial
Omagh Trial – see photo
Circuit of Ireland Trial – twice - see photo
Syonfin Hill Climb – twice
Circuit of Down Trial
Annual Irish Experts Trial
Cairncastle Hill Climb – three times
Phoenix Park, Dublin – road race
Kirkistown Airport Circuit race – twice
Craigantlet Hill Climb - see photo of car 16 with stripped front wings & windscreen in 1954
Years passed and W171 was sold to a Tom Hanner in Atlanta USA in 1970. He began to restore W171 which was by then in “bad shape”. However, he failed to finish the car. It then passed to Richard Pilczuk, a collector and garage owner who wanted to finish the car, but it turned out that he had too many projects - failing to make much progress - and so it came up for sale in 2007.
A Frenchman purchased this car part assembled with the mechanics left in many boxes. The assembly took 3 intense years and included a new aluminium rear part of the body and a new set of wings too.
The engine was rebuilt with new Fletcher Jones pistons. Top quality new leather upholstery was installed in the correct pattern. Instruments were also rebuilt.
A complete re-spray in dark green with lighter green chassis and new tyres completed the restoration for a first run in 2013.
Today the current owner has enjoyed W171 since 2016.
W171 was inspected by the HRG Association in January 2017 to confirm that the Chassis number, engine and back axle numbers are as originally recorded in the HRG factory records.
Recent work has been carried out on the engine, brakes and several other parts of the car by the respected HRG guru on these cars. Inevitably – as always - a new owner may wish to have further work carried out. Very little mileage has ensued since this work, about 200 miles.
The car is fully recognised and accepted by the HRG Association as a genuine ex- factory car with a full continuous history. A marque expert has recently looked over the car and verified its major components, chassis number, chassis plate and other identification numbers.
All H.R.Gs (both pre and post-war) are eligible to compete in the Class 2 (for pre-war production cars) in the MCC classic trials.
Post-war built H.R.G.s are eligible in historic rallying (ERA / HERO) in the pre-war category.
Eligible for the new class at the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) “Historic Class” for selected post war cars by invitation. (New from 2021).
A full history of the marque, the company, the cars and the successes can be found in the book “The Sportsmans Ideal” by Ian Dussek. ISBN 10: 0956512402 or ISBN 13: 9780956512406
HRG Association website: www.hrgcars.com
Brief history of The H.R.G Engineering Co. Ltd and the H.R.G light car
Formed by the partnership of E A Halford, G H Robins and H R Godfrey, the H.R.G Engineering Co. Ltd was created in 1935 incorporating the initials of their surnames. H R (Ron) Godfrey was lead designer and was already well known in sports car circles for his involvement with Archie Frazer-Nash in the GN cycle cars of 1910 to 1922.
The first H.R.G car, the “1½ Litre” model, powered by the Meadows 4ED engine, was introduced to the motoring press at Brooklands race track in October 1935. The car was considered a bit of a “throw back” to the past, even for the mid to late 1930s. It mixed traditional hand-built construction techniques with updated tried and tested solutions from Godfrey’s experiences and executed them efficiently. With a particular focus on functionality and lightness (rather than styling) there was a high power to weight ratio from a modest engine. This also enabled higher gearing to be used for reliability. The car was marketed as having “three-fold performance” enabling an owner to use the car, unmodified, in both racing and off-road trials as well as everyday transport.
Moving into new factory premises in Tolworth in Surrey, car production started in early 1936 and the cars quickly gained a reputation for being very effective in competition and for the true enthusiast. An 1100cc model, powered by a modified Singer engine, was introduced in 1938. World War II naturally halted car production whereby just 35 cars had been produced. War work included making parts for Wellington bombers and other Air Ministry contracts.
Soon after WWII, H.R.G was one of few British sports car companies that were able to get back into manufacturing new cars and the post-war models were a continuation of the pre-war cars with the addition of the “Aerodynamic”. The cars were popular amongst sports car enthusiasts who wanted to acquire newly manufactured cars and to compete at that time. Being more than twice the price of contemporary MGs, they were not cheap and considered a high quality product.
The majority of H.R.Gs were used for competition and featured in the results at nearly all well-known events, especially on the continent, including at Le Mans, Spa and the Alpine Rallies. In addition, the cars competed at many hundreds of events in the UK including the first ever events at Silverstone, Goodwood and Prescott.
Just 241 cars in total were manufactured from 1935 to 1956. After car manufacturing ceased the Company continued to service and repair the cars and operated as an engineering firm, finally closing in 1966 when all the directors reached retirement. In 1960, the H.R.G Association (HRGA) was formed which inherited much of the intellectual property of the company. It is estimated that over 90% of the cars survive today.
More information can be found at www.hrgcars.com
Notable Events and Results in H.R.G cars in the period 1935 to 1956
H.R.G cars competed in virtually all of the principal motor sport events in Great Britain and Europe, especially in the immediate post war period. Some notable events, dates and results are listed below.
Brooklands – (many short scratch and handicap races), 1938 class winner 3 hr Sports Car Race.
Donington 12 hour Sports Car Race – 1937 - 4th overall
RAC Tourist Trophy – 1937, 1938 (Donington) & 1950 (Dundrod).
Le Mans 24 hour Race - class wins 1939 & 1949, 2nd in class 1937 & 1938.
Eifelrennen, Nurburgring – 1938 & 1939.
Gransden Lodge (the very first post war GB race meetings) – 1946 & 1947.
Chimay - Grand Prix des Frontieres, 1947 & 1948.
Montlhery - Paris 12 hour race – 1948.
Isle of Man - British Empire Trophy Manx Cup 1947, 1948, 1949 & 1950, team prize 1948.
Silverstone – first meetings in 1948 and 1949. Daily Express Trophy Production Sports Car Races Class wins 1949 & 1950, 2nd In Class 1949 & 1951, 6 hour Relay Races 1951, 52 & 53.
Spa-Francorchamps 24 hour Race - Coupe du Roi team prize 1948. Class win, Coupe de la Victoire, Coupe de Richard Seaman and Coupe du Roi team prize in 1949
Goodwood - First Members meeting in 1948, Members and Easter Meetings 1948 to 1955,
9 hour Races 1952, 1953 & 1955.
Autosport Production Sports Car Championship - 1956 3rd Overall (including class wins at Mallory Park, Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Goodwood).
Blandford – National Road Races (first circuit after WW2) 1949 2nd in Class and 1950 2nd in Class
Bridgehampton (USA) – 1949, 1950 & 1951, 3rd overall 1949.
Watkins Glen (USA) - 1949, 4th overall.
Sebring (USA) - 1950.
Jersey - International Road Race 1952
Crystal Palace - 1952 & 1953
Brands Hatch - Kent Cup Race – 1954
Oulton Park - British Empire Trophy – 1955 & 1956
Brooklands - 1937 JCC Brooklands Rally, 1st in Class.
Monte Carlo Rally – 1937.
Paris-Nice Trial - Class win 1938.
RAC Rally - Class wins 1939, 1951 & 1953, 2nd in Class 1937 & 1938.
Alpine Rally - Class wins, Coupes des Alpes 1948 & 1951. Team awards 1948. Several special stage awards.
Eastbourne Rally – 1951.
Paris-St Raphael Rally - Class win 1952, 2nd in Class 1951.
Speed Hill climbs and Sprints
H.R.G cars competed and won many awards at speed events in Great Britain, especially in the immediate post war period. These included Shelsey Walsh, Prescott (including the first ever meeting in 1938), Bo’ness, Brighton, Great Auclum, Lewes and Blackwell amongst many others.
Reliability Trials and Production Car Trials:
H.R.G cars competed in many events in the late 1930s into the 40s and 50s. Over 200 awards in the three MCC Classic Trials (The Land’s End, Exeter and Edinburgh Trials) alone as well as several team and “triple” awards.
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