Lot 258 - 1950 Lea Francis 2½ Litre Westland Sports
|Odometer reading||47,925 miles|
|Estimate||£35,000 - £42,000|
|Result||Sold - £33,600|
Richard Lea and Graham Francis entered into partnership in August 1895 to make advanced and relatively expensive cycles of quality in Lower Ford Street, Coventry. Their motorcycles which were built from 1912 to 1924 by which time, the first successful light cars with Meadows engines were in production. Their first supercharged production car did well in racing winning the 1928 TT but the effects of the depression, exacerbated by an unsuccessful attempt to move upmarket with a twin ohc six-cylinder car, resulted in receivership in the early 30s.
Lea-Francis was revived under new management in 1937 to produce a new car designed by ex-Riley man, Hugh Rose. Few of these cars were produced pre-war but after 1945, their successors with 14hp and (from 1949) 2½ litre power proved popular, both in the form of saloons and attractive sports cars.
Supplied as a chassis with a six-light front end and special sports mods then taken and bodied by Westland in 1950, it was then registered in Hereford in March of that year. It was known to the club right from the start with Mr. Marshall, member 167, owning it from new. In August 1959, it passed to Mr. Lehose of Aynho, Northamptonshire until 1964 when Mr. Barrie Price of Studley became the next proud custodian. In December of that year, Mr Spollon, followed by Mr. Hollyer and Mr. Martin to ownership in reasonably quick succession. Connaught expert, Duncan Rabagliati acquired the car in 1984 and then sold it on in 1999 to Robert Deeley. It had had some overheating issues upto this stage but was now 'put to rights' with a high-efficiency, re-cored radiator and Kenlowe fan. The current owner bought the car in 2011 having just completed a full restoration with freshly re-engineered leather seats and a complete engine and gearbox re-build to the tune of over £13,000. The car now presents in fabulous condition throughout and drives perfectly.