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Peter Garnier's Standard Ensign


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#1 RCH

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 10:21

In the May 1984 issue of Thoroughbred & Classic Car Peter Garnier described a car he commisioned in 1959 when he was Sports Editor of The Autocar. He was given a budget to buy a British company car. His requirements being that it had to be quick enough and surefooted enough to follow a long distance rally, yet big enough and comfortable enough to carry 3 people, luggage and photography equipment over long distances. Colin Chapman suggested a modified Standard Ensign which he described as "..one of best handling of the current cars". He ended up with a 2138cc. TR engine, disc brakes, stiffened suspension, an anti-roll bar. overdrive, bucket seats etc. He seemed pleased with his car.

Now this is of interest to me because I learned to drive (1967) on an Ensign, used it on a couple of 12 car rallies and even considered creating a Volvoesque rally car out of it before deciding that something more mainstream would be a better proposition. With the best will in the world I cannot understand Chapman's "best handling" comment, certainly the similar age Hillman Minx I had was rather better. I would have thought an uprated Zephyr a much better proposition! If the Ensign, essentially a stripped out and smaller engined Standard Vanguard, was that good a handler in comparison with its competitors then why wasn't the Ensign/Vanguard range ever seriously considered as a competition car? The short lived and much derided Vanguard Sportsman could have provided a basis to work from.

Has anyone any memories of this car or any idea what happened to it?

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#2 bradbury west

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:30

Back to my youth.....
I recall clearly the article which Peter Garnier wrote in Autocar in period about the Ensign hotrod, as he called it. He wanted something which would take 2 or 3 journos over long disatnces, incl the Apls etc without problems, hence the TR3 disc conversion on the car. All the work was done by the Standard Triumph comps dept. The discs were a good idea and worked very well apart from the fact that they resulted in a much larger turning circle, embarrassing at times over the alpine lacets apparently. It went well with o/d on upper 3 gears and cruised at a good top speed.
I suspect that the "best handling" might have been a relative expression.
Is the article in C&SC the one which Garnier did in Autocar.

Roger Lund

If you have the Garnier article I would welcome a copy pls. as it is one not in the files here.

#3 Odseybod

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:53

Must say the best handling accolade does seem rather odd. I remember my father (when Peter Garnier's friendly deadly rival on The Motor) spinning the road test Ensign at very slow speed, admittedly on hard-packed snow - office gossip suggested he wasn't the only one to have a little adventure with the car. Then again, remembering PG's experiences with the early Lotus Cortina that became his staff car later on, he always did enjoy a challenge!




#4 RCH

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:54

If you have the Garnier article I would welcome a copy pls. as it is one not in the files here.


Hi Roger, will dig it out and get a copy to you. Don't hold your breath though, the scanner is playing up!

#5 bradbury west

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 17:50

Many thanks. If memory still serves, ISTR it was red with a white roof...............noticeable in the snow and cool in the sun
RL

#6 RCH

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 22:03

Many thanks. If memory still serves, ISTR it was red with a white roof...............noticeable in the snow and cool in the sun
RL


That was the colour he wanted, it was actually green...