The 1958 Earls Court Motor Show
1958 was a very busy year for Frisky Cars which would come to a head at the Major International Car show in London.
Several new cars were in the pipeline perhaps the most exciting being the Frisky Sprint a lightweight competition car. This was constructed entirely in house its body built by Keith Peckmore the project engineer assisted by Roland Kerr who was a glass fibre body builder and first class mechanic. Roland had joined the company as an apprentice and was a distant cousin of Raymond Flower. To ensure the car was ready in time for the show Peter Morrey was deputed to help Keith and Roland finish the Sprint, doing the fittings, trim, carpets etc. Peter having gained experience on the production line before being promoted to the special preparation department.
A new three wheel Frisky the Family Three was also under development. The prototype had been built, which unlike the Sport had a one piece saloon body with integral roof. This model was not however due to be unveiled until 1959
The Frisky Family Three
It was also the intention to launch a hard top four wheel Frisky Saloon as promised at the 1957 Show designated the" Frisky Coupe". It was to share the same body as the forth coming Family Three. Unfortunately these bodies were not available in time for the early Press cars so a small batch of Coupes were built by grafting a roof onto some FriskySports these can be easily identified as they still retained the Sport's chrome front window frame and Wipac dash and lights along with the Dubonnet front suspension.
Raymond Flower made a special visit to the factory to check over the cars for the show. He arrived in Sales Manager, Bob Trappe's 1935 Lancia Aprilia along with Gordon Bedson. Peter Morrey who was treated to a "Good morning my man" as he held the door open for Flower describes him as "quite a tall man with quite long flowing silver hair, a pinstriped blue suit with a red silk lining, a red silk handkerchief, a furled umbrella and as he walked past, you were enveloped in a haze of male perfume, someone whom you could not easily forget!
The Frisky Coupe
Following the inspection the cars were despatched to Earls Court and the two Frisky Coupe demonstrators were driven down by Roland Kerr and Bill Loone and stored in the underground car park waiting customer action.
Raymond Flower moved into his London Club and the rest of the team headed for Earls Court. Henry Stone, MD Frisky Cars, Gordon Bedson, Keith Peckmore, Edwin Kaes who I believe was a nephew of Dr Porsch, and Bob Trappe heading the team.
A slight change of team came about when one of its members who popped out in one of the demonstrator Coupe's to collect something from the other side of London, happened to see a friend and stopped off for a cup of tea. Sods law then stepped in. Raymond Flower coming to the show in his taxi was surprised to see one of his demonstrators parked up outside a cafe on the other side of London, with two results, 1) the driver was sent back to Wolverhampton with a flea in his ear and 2) Peter Morrey was despatched to replace him. Later discussions on the matter along with mitigating circumstances suggest that this was a trifle unfair but as they say c'est la vie!
Displayed on the stand were three new Frisky Models, , the Frisky Coupe in blue and white, the Frisky Sprint competition car and the Frisky Family three whose launch had, to every ones surprise, been brought forward.
There was also a red FriskySport with a fixed tail section and fitted with the new strut front suspension as to be used on the new Family Three. A strut equipped four wheel chassis was also displayed suggesting that the struts were the way to go which in the end did not turn out to be the case.
The FriskySprint with a Coupe in the background
All the new models were well received, but the star was without doubt the Sprint which got wide coverage in the motoring press promising great things for the future. That future was unfortunately stalled by financial problems. Gordon Bedson and Keith Peckmore were head hunted by Harold Lightburn and left the following spring to build a new lightweight car for him in Australia (The Lightburn Zeta Sport)
The surprise appearance of the Family Three meant there had been no pre show press releases and so it got little publicity and to this day I have been unable to find a road test of it.. A pity because it out sold all the other models.
On 26 September 1958 the Autocar magazine published a detailed three page road test of the Coupe concluding "The Frisky Coupe appeals by its appearance, performance and economy."
The two Coupe Demonstrators were driven across to the Guild of Motor Writers Press Day at Goodwood. They were put in the paddock with the numbers74 and 75 on the doors along with nearly one hundred other demonstrators for the Guild members to take onto the track and do with as they will! Other micros in that paddock included Berkley, Isetta and Bond.
Tail note (Motor shows are not all glamour!)
Afterwards Peter Morrey and Bill Loone drove the cars back to Wolverhampton in appalling weather, I quote...
At the end of the show it was a really horrible day and Bill and I had to drive the two Friskys in convoy with Gordon again driving Bob Trappe's Aprilia. We went on the A40 route home to Wolverhampton. It was a very cold and rainy sleety day with snow beginning to fall. When we took the Oxford Woodstock and Midlands road. I was so cold, shivery and uncomfortable, there was no heater in the car, my wipers had packed up and it was sleeting. We called in a pub in Long Compton. Bill and I were frozen, so we sat in front of a roaring fire for half an hour to warm ourselves up. Gordon lent me an overcoat ,bought us both food and drinks and then he got a couple of uncooked potatoes, which he sliced in half and suggested that I should rub them over the outside of the window. The potato juices would mix up with the rain and would keep my screen clear for about half an hour. I was amazed, it did keep my screen clear until I was near to home.
The 1958 Motor Show was in fact a success for Frisky Cars Ltd and produced a lot of interest, in the Sprint, yes, but more so in sales terms for the Family Three and there was a more powerful and refined version (the Mk2) waiting in the wings. It is very sad that after all the effort and dedication put into bringing these three new Friskys models to the market its potential would be lost due to financial problems.