Lot 225 - 1948 Lea Francis 14hp Sports
|Estimate||£34,000 - £42,000|
|Result||Sold - £32,480|
Richard Henry Lea and Graham Inglesby Francis entered into partnership in August 1895 to make advanced and relatively expensive cycles of quality in Lower Ford Street, Coventry and soon gained a high reputation.
They did much better with motorcycles however, which were built from 1912 to 1924, by which time the first successful light cars with Meadows engines were in production. These enjoyed some success in competition, but higher power necessitated a stronger chassis and transmission which came in 1927 and was used both for the popular 12/40 and the exciting Hyper; the first supercharged production car. This did well in racing, winning the 1928 TT, a 30 lap race on the 13.5 mile Ards circuit on the roads of Northern Ireland and in the hands of legendary race car driver, Kaye Don. The race was watched by a record 250,000 spectators and the victory placed Lea-Francis firmly on the map. Lea-Francis was revived under new management in 1937 to produce a new car designed by ex-Riley man, Hugh Rose, in a factory in Much Park Street. The engine was similar in layout to the Riley but with the two camshafts mounted high in the block and very short pushrods. Few of these cars were produced pre-war but after 1945, their successors with 14hp proved popular, both in the form of saloons and attractive sports cars.
The beguiling and streamlined shape, considered by many to be ahead of its time, was to be seen in many of the more important sportscar races throughout the UK ,with chassis 5022 taking part in the first ever touring car race held at a decommissioned airfield by the name of Silverstone.
Maintained by the same family since 1990, this most elegant of sporting roadsters was the subject of a full restoration some 20 years ago; stored since then in extremely agreeable conditions, it shows little sign of its age. Re-painted in silver with contrasting red leather interior and white piping, the combination suits it well, showing off the sculptured lines to their best advantage.
Originally supplied to a Mr. W. Furnival of Sleaford, it then made its way to London under the stewardship of David Jackson. Two generations of Boyer then owned it from 1964 until 1969 when Mr. Conlay of Leicester took over. It stayed in Leicester with Vera Chapman and Michael Miles until 1971 when the last but one owner, Mrs. Doreen Grayston, acquired the car. It then remained in an Oxfordshire family that cherished the car in its later years.
Presented within the history file are both the buff and green log books as well as a current red V5C and MoT test certificate valid until February 2014. There are also to be found a number of period newspaper articles about Lea Francis as well as a 'Service Data' document dated 1949, full mechanical specifications and technical data. Reported to drive beautifully by the vendor, these 14hp Sports models are rare to find and with few left from a total production run of just 118, it would make an elegant addition to any collection.