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Arkle sports racer?


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#1 LotusElise

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 13:54

Does anyone know anything about the Arkle sports racing car, produced in the mid 60s?
It has a plastic body, with the front based on an Austin-Healey Sprite and the rear similar to a Lotus Seven. Its running gear is BMC-based.
My dad is in the process of buying one of these and an ex-Austin-Healey engineer told him that they were very fast in their day.

There doesn't seem to any information about them on the net whatsoever. Can anyone wise enlighten me?

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#2 MCS

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 14:02

Do you mean the Arkley SS ?

There was a company run in Hertfordshire by John Britten and the cars were based on the Austin Healey Sprite and the MG Midget.

Or was there an Arkle ?!!

#3 fausto

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 14:31

I remember having read about the Ark Sprite and, if I'm not wrong, Derek Matthews, the constructor of the Ceekar Gp. C Jr./C2, had something to do with it, I'll check, asap...

#4 MCS

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 14:43

No, wasn't Derek Matthews involved with the West Midlands-based ModSports team that raced an Elan - John Evans drove, but can't remember the name of the team. Yes, maybe it was ARK.

Car was white and always immaculate though.

Arkley SS was something else...

#5 D-Type

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 15:14

John Britten's garage at Arkley, Hertfordshire used to advertise regularly on either the inside front cover or the first page of Motor Sport. The adverts were highly readable being probably the first to regularly feature a little bit of narrative. Initially he raced a Sprite/Midget and would recount his racing exploits to push his tuning capability. He once featured a photo of the garage labrador being chased across the yard as an intro to advertising the puppies!

Later he developed the Arkley SS. As far as I remember, it was a case of take a rusted Spridget, breathe on the mechanicals, and rebody it, then go racing. It was sufficiently close to the donor car that it was classified as a modified/rebodied Spridget and could run in club racing as a prod sports, modsports, GT or similar and not as a sports racer.

#6 Alan Cox

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 15:14

Sounds very much like the Arkley SS, as Mark suggests.

It featured a restyled bonnet, and rear end, which bolted on to the the Sprite/MG chassis, and made the car lok as thoug it had been frightened by a Morgan.

The John Britten who developed it, and sold it from his Arkley garage, is now one of the directors of Motor Sport Vision, the owners of Brands Hatch.


http://www.arkleyss.com/oldsite/

#7 Mallory Dan

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 16:27

Originally posted by MCS
No, wasn't Derek Matthews involved with the West Midlands-based ModSports team that raced an Elan - John Evans drove, but can't remember the name of the team. Yes, maybe it was ARK.

Car was white and always immaculate though.

Arkley SS was something else...


Yes Mark, Derek Matthews was from Willenhall IIRC, near Walsall. He ran ARK Racing which was involved with the John Evans and Max Payne Modsports Elans, the G6 Vogue SP2, and later the Ceekar C2. Would be good to hear some stories from some of those characters.

#8 David McKinney

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 16:28

In spite of all the foregoing, I have a vague recollection of seeing an Arkle at a race meeting, presuming it was a programme misprint for an Arkley SS, and then discovering the programme was right.
That's all I remember - the name :

#9 Sharman

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 16:51

Wasn't the Grand National meeting at Aintree by any chance David?

#10 David Beard

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 16:53

Originally posted by David McKinney
In spite of all the foregoing, I have a vague recollection of seeing an Arkle at a race meeting, presuming it was a programme misprint for an Arkley SS, and then discovering the programme was right.
That's all I remember - the name :


Was it a horse race? ;)

(drat, pipped at the post!)

#11 LotusElise

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 17:01

Dad is adamant that it is an Arkle, as I asked him to check the spelling. (He struggles in this department.;) )
There is the possibility that the seller is wrong too, but he also says that the front is the same as a Sprite, rather than the Seven-style bonnet on the Arkley SS. Were there different fronts made?

#12 Stephen W

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 17:27

Originally posted by Sharman
Wasn't the Grand National meeting at Aintree by any chance David?


Arkle never competed at Aintree, leastways the horse didn't!

:wave:

#13 CoulthardD

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 17:44

Some information on the Arkley here:

http://www.mgcars.or...ritearkley.html

A cople of years ago, I used to race against me in the MGCC Sprint and Hillclimb Championship. Performance wise, it was about on par with my 1380cc Midget. The Arkley was (I think) 1293cc, but made up for the lack of cc's by being a little bit lighter than my Midget.

I beleive Steve W, as he's comentated at Aintree in the past! :lol:

Regards,

David

#14 FrankB

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 17:49

Originally posted by CoulthardD
A cople of years ago, I used to race against me in the MGCC Sprint and Hillclimb Championship.


?

Who won?

#15 CoulthardD

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 18:21

:blush: Sorry! Being too posh.

"...ONE (not I) used to race against me..."

One was typing too quickly.

DC

P.S. Having said that, despite being bitter on-track rivals, the owner did lend the Arkley to me at Harewood hillclimb when my Midget broke its anti-roll bar, thus ensuring I got a score in the Championship. So was I racing me?

#16 LotusElise

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 20:34

Thanks for the information, everyone.

Dad has now conceded that it is an Arkley SS, as its current owner called it an SS.

#17 Sharman

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 22:02

Cheltenham Gold Cup Meeting then? Or was the nag a hurdler?

#18 Coral

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 23:37

Sharman...Arkle (the horse) was a steeplechaser. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966. He was the greatest of them all! Sadly he died on May 31st, 1970 aged 13.

~Coral

#19 Stephen W

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 11:47

Originally posted by Coral
Sharman...Arkle (the horse) was a steeplechaser. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966. He was the greatest of them all! Sadly he died on May 31st, 1970 aged 13.

~Coral


I would have bet on you coming up with that factoid Coral!

:rotfl:

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#20 David Beard

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 12:36

Originally posted by D-Type
John Britten's garage at Arkley, Hertfordshire used to advertise regularly on either the inside front cover or the first page of Motor Sport. The adverts were highly readable being probably the first to regularly feature a little bit of narrative. Initially he raced a Sprite/Midget and would recount his racing exploits to push his tuning capability. He once featured a photo of the garage labrador being chased across the yard as an intro to advertising the puppies!

Later he developed the Arkley SS. As far as I remember, it was a case of take a rusted Spridget, breathe on the mechanicals, and rebody it, then go racing. It was sufficiently close to the donor car that it was classified as a modified/rebodied Spridget and could run in club racing as a prod sports, modsports, GT or similar and not as a sports racer.


I remember those adverts well, always an entertaining read. In fact, when I was reading the usual entertaining Ivan Dutton advert in this months Motor Sport it occurred to me that I was very much reminded of the narrative in those old Britten ads.

I also remember the Arkley SS. The strange thing about it though, was the parts of the Spridget body that were replaced weren't actually the ones that had the rust problem....

#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 13:18

Originally posted by David Beard
.....The strange thing about it though, was the parts of the Spridget body that were replaced weren't actually the ones that had the rust problem....


At least not the difficult repair issues...

What a neat adaptation they were, however.

#22 ian senior

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 13:24

Originally posted by David Beard


I remember those adverts well, always an entertaining read. In fact, when I was reading the usual entertaining Ivan Dutton advert in this months Motor Sport it occurred to me that I was very much reminded of the narrative in those old Britten ads.


Loved 'em to bits. They combined narrative with a car for sale suddenly thrown in to the story, so you'd get something like "and then we decided to stop mucking about with cars and go to the pub 1966 MGB, blue, 36,000 miles, wire wheels, £695". Confusing but fun. Some of you may remember similar advertisements from the same period by the Portobello Motor Company, who imported old 2CVs when you couldn't buy new ones inthe UK. These adverts featured an imaginary character, Rabbi Moishe Blenkinsop-ffrench. I believe the late Eric Lister was behind all this.

Arkleys as originally announced had cut-down doors in the manner of Morgans, but most customers ended up using the standard Spridget doors with proper windows. More metal to rust.

#23 WDH74

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 16:50

I very nearly bought an Arkley about fifteen years ago. Car was based on a '70 Midget and needed both finishing and restoration. The bodywork was done (and the original steel wasn't rusty at all, oddly), but the mechanical bits needed a complete do-over and there was no interior or weather protection. I think the only reason I wanted it was cause it was fitted with some wide American Racing wheels that I wanted for my old Midget.

-William