I first met Piers Forester in Acton, when his bike went one way and he another, sliding into my mini pickup. We picked his bike up, heaved it in the pick up and I took it them to an alcoholic friend of his (in Greenford), whose nerve had apparently been shattered, testing to destruction, the 'added lightness' in Chapman's cars.
I first met Alan McKechnie before he had polio, but became friends through Barrie Williams when I worked for Whizzo's father.
There were lots of impoverished club racers, pre advertising, in the 60's, and one was a fly chap called AJ Pearce who crept up the racing ladder by begging stuffed cars and straightening them, but as they usually came without an engine, he struggled; that was, until he discovered that an ugly lump of metal could be 'turned' into a beautiful alloy wheel on a lathe.
With a bit of regular cash, he somehow got a complete car off Charlie Lucas that Piers Courage had bent, and set his eyes on F1, but 'turning' out wheels wasn't THAT profitable, and he approached Alan.
Rich and wealthy people are rich and wealthy because they look after their money, and Alan wanted to know a bit more about AJ Pearce, behind the ad in motoring news, but how and who to find out.
At the time, AJ had been running an advert for an engineer / fitter to turn out more wheels, and as I could work a 'mangle', we hatched a plan that I'd go for the job and find out all I could for Alan.
I had acquired an 1100 block and just built myself a 731 cammed towing engine to replace my over bored 997, 544 cammed engine, and in due course I set off (to run it in) along the A40 for interview on Maundy Thursday. Ascending Stokenchurch it developed a knock, which got so bad that I had to abandon the car at HA Saunders in High Wycombe and call off the interview and hitch home.
Next to our Mini 7 at the Castle Coombe Easter meeting was a beautiful G4, and the following week in Autosport was an advert for a G4 rolling shell for an affordable £300-00. Alan had a handy 25 foot trailer which I asked if I might borrow to collect my car and maybe, after inspection, collect the G4.
When I showed Alan the advert, his comment was "I thought you always wanted a Unipower" and sure enough, on the same page was a Unipower rolling shell that I had overlooked, probably because it was priced at over £1000-00, and when I pointed out this little obstacle, dear Alan said " I expect I could help a bit. I'll get Fred to ring". Fred was his engineer, who could haggle the crown off the Queen.
And so a deal was done, that if I took a set of wheels and £750-00 cash, it was mine! A few days later I set off once again for interview, collected my car, wended my way through Southall, and after a quick test of my turning, was proudly shown the potential F1 and over a jar in the pub, was conveniently told what the new backer was expected to provide.
Having seen and heard enough for Alan, I promised that as soon as I had found digs I'd knock on his door. Alan had a couple of meetings with AJ, but declined to invest, and always maintained the fire that destroyed AJ's F1 team was suspiciously well away from prying eyes.
It was late Friday afternoon when I got to Perivale to be met with "We have been trying to phone you" (McKechnie and crew had gone off to an F3 meeting) It transpired that the person who had done the deal "wasn't authorised to do it", they'd had a better offer!
As I was disconsolately trying to turn the 25 foot trailer in a 25 foot space, someone came out to help and as I was at last pointing for home, he came to the window and offered his commiseration.
I think he must have felt even worse when I recognised him and reminded him of picking up his bike in my pick up.
Edited by Unipower, 21 September 2014 - 15:09.