Thursday, 7 June 2018

From 1957 Fairthorpe Electron to Pilkey Climax Special, a Historic race car survival story.

                        Arleigh Pilkey in the Electron at the 1957 Okanagan Hillclimb.

                 The much modified car now renamed the Pilkey Climax Special in 1958

In 1957 Canadian Arleigh Pilkey purchased a new Fairthorpe Electron Climax from his friend Fred Leverington who was importing them from the UK, the car was an early one with the  Microplas body shape and round tube chassis. Arleigh intended to use the car for Hill Climb and race events, after the last meeting in 1957 the car was stripped, lightened and heavily modified for 1958, during which the car competed at the Okanagan Hillclimb, Westwood and a race circuit at Shepard Airport near Calgary. The car proved to be very fast on the 1100cc Coventry Climax engine with the lightened chassis, revised rear suspension and lightweight aluminium body that Arleigh had made, often out running much larger capacity cars. More about Arleigh`s racing history and his cars can be found here on page 8.

An article on the car was published by Pit Pass magazine at the time which show thousands of lightening holes that were drilled for extra weight saving, i have copied them here to show how far it had evolved in those two years.

Eventually Arleigh sold the Special to Gene McMahon owner of the Corvette engined `The Beast`, McMahon was particularly impressed by the car when he couldn`t catch it with the power of a V8 under his right foot. The local Alberta racers named the car `The thing`, later on it was raced in the Winnipeg area as the Carter Climax Special and from there it competed in 1962 at the Parkland Races at the Hamlin circuit in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. There the trail of this 57 Electron Special goes cold until 2009, a question regarding a recently purchased unknown sports racer was made on a Canadian motor sports forum that produced several replies from people who had period pictures of the car. The Pilkey Climax Special had resurfaced, mostly complete apart from the valuable Climax engine and gearbox. The current owner is Derek Dewitt who had originally intended to fit a more modern power unit but has now i`m pleased to say purchased a Climax engine from the UK to go in the car when it is rebuilt. Derek has kindly given his permission for me to post his pictures of the Pilkey Special as bought, i look forward to seeing this intriguing machine rebuilt at some point in the future and hopefully i can post some pictures on here. I am sure some more history of this interesting Special will surface in the future, i am also indebted to fellow Fairthorpe enthusiast Frank Maine for coming up with the link to the Motorsports forum where the car reappeared.

Reconditioned gearbox for a 1960 Electron Minor.

                                                                        Box of cogs!

                                           1300 flywheel and New diaphragm clutch kit

                                1200 Herald flywheel and coil spring type clutch as removed

                                             Reconditioned gearbox back in the Fairthorpe

FSCC club member Ray Starkey has recently had the gearbox removed, reconditioned and replaced in his 1960 EM HSV 270. due to a severe back problem Ray got the whole job done by Mike Papworth. The car went in on a Tuesday morning and it was all done by 3.00 pm the following day, Mike had worked till 10.00 pm on Tuesday evening to get it done. 
The work done included supplying and fitting an Alloy bellhousing and fitting a later type 1300 Flywheel and diaphram type clutch as the car was fitted with a 1200 Herald gearbox on to it`s 1300cc engine and had the earlier flywheel and coil spring clutch type on it.. The new clutch assembly including thrust bearing and flywheel bush were completed by a new slave cylinder. Inside the gearbox a number of bearings and cogs were replaced as well as one of the shafts. The remote gear housing and rods were also replaced. 
Total cost = box £500 including surcharge for extra bits used, 
Removal + fitting £300, 
clutch kit and slave £105 
clutch arm with pin and bushes ,flywheel and crank bush £95
make that a round £1000  
Mike also replaced some bolts and nuts as not correct within this pricing even gear stick was worn out!
Ray is well chuffed with the result and now has a silky smooth gearbox to enjoy on his trips out in the Fairthorpe.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018


Like the proverbial bus, there is nothing then all of a sudden several turn up at once!

There are currently several Fairthorpes up for sale in various places so i have listed them all here for your perusal, a couple of nice projects and two racers ready to go. Listed in order of price for ease.
Please mention the Fairthorpe Blog if contacting the sellers.


1960 Electron Minor Mk2, 1500cc Triumph engine. £3500

Fairthorpe Electron Minor Mk2, same owner since the 1970`s but spent a large amount of that time unused.

Rebuilt and put back on the road in 2016, fitted with a 1500 Triumph engine and an interesting set of period alloy wheels. Body work could probably do with a respray. For more information call Clive Weelen on:-
07903 365774

SOLD 1959 Electron Minor Mk1 on Ebay asking price £1995 or offer SOLD


1958 Electron Minor Mk1 47 SMD (sale does not include the registration number) This car has undergone a lot of work and is now a fully rebuilt chassis with new brakes, correct early type, new backplates, rebushed. dunlop d1’s, new tyres. Body is complete and painted but not on at moment. New instruments, seats, period steering wheel. Basically just needs body putting back on. I have all the other difficult bits to complete, badges, hinges, screen, side screens etc. Engines options, 1300 spit ready to drop in, 1147 good but head off, 948 in bits but machining done. Rack and pinion steering. Have all lights. Twin h1’s and correct manifold available for the 948. Gearbox is correct Standard 10 hanging type with correct mounting bracket. Also has new fibreglass floorpans, both lowered type under the seats.
Since these pictures were taken all the above work has been completed, current pictures are available by request from Graham.
Price negotiable depending on spec, may finish the car off if required.
Contact Graham Mitchell on 07902 415158

               *The owner has now decided to keep this car and carry on competing with it.*

Race prepped road going Electron Minor Mk2 on Ebay, well known car within the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club with more or less continuous competition history since new, plenty of information on the Ebay ad.


1961 Electron Minor Mk2 Race car, much money spent and a good spec on Racecars Direct :

Fairthorpes competition results from the late 1950`s

 Okanagon Hill Climb 1958, A Pilkey`s Pilkey Special was a modified Electron, see the pictures in the previous post for the car in it`s original form in 1957, then with modified bodywork in 1958.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Canadian Fairthorpe race history comes to light.

It is amazing what still turns up, i am grateful to Canadian racing historian Vince Howlett who has sent the following pictures taken in the late 50`s. More period images to follow in the next few days so please check back soon.

Sept 1st 1957, Okanagan Hillclimb, Arleigh Pilkey Fairthorpe Electron.

July 5th 1958, Okanagan Hillclimb, Arleigh Pilkey, Fairthorpe Electron Special. Bodywork now very modified from the previous years picture from 1957.

Another shot of Arleigh`s Electron Special can be found at:-

 Sept 1st 1957, Okanagan Hillclimb,  Class F winner Harry Moore, Fairthorpe Electron

 Sept 1st 1957, Okanagan Hillclimb, Balfe, Fairthorpe Electron

1958 Pilkey Electron, Moscop Elva and Brown Fairthorpe Electron.

July 5th 1958, Okanagan Hillclimb, Brown Fairthorpe Electron.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2018 FAIRTHORPE GATHERING, August 5th, North Weald Aerodrome, Essex.

This years Fairthorpe Gathering will be on Sunday 5th August at North Weald aerodrome in Essex, in the morning we will be on the airfield at the `Squadron` NAAFI` cafe, they are open from 8am, i gather they do a good English breakfast..........
To get to the NAAFI you enter by the main gate of the former Battle of Britain airfield and drive round about 50% of the airfield perimeter track, this is all still in excellent condition with no pot holes. They have kindly offered us the use of one of the wartime aircraft blast pens to park the Fairthorpes in so we should get some good pictures of the cars. Here is an aerial view of the airfield, the NAFFI is in front of the line of aircraft:-

Here is a link to the Squadren NAAFI:-

At 1pm we will convoy the Fairthorpes round the perimeter track to the original airfield entrance where the former Station gate house has been turned into a museum which covers the airfields history. People will have a chance to wander round the museum before we present the usual awards. I intend getting some video footage of the cars driving round the airfield, there are a number of Historic flyable aircraft based at North Weald, hopefully some may be active on the day we are there.
Link to the museum:-

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Electron Minor rebuilt engine, the running in continues.

Went out today in my Fairthorpe Electron Minor 789 ERO for the first time in 2018, the roads were finally dry so less road salt being thrown around under the car. I wore one of my Christmas presents, a nice warm beanie hat with the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club logo on it but i left my finger less gloves in the workshop, my fingers had nearly dropped off after the 40 mile run!
 We have finally bitten the bullet after many years of excuses not to get one and bought a Sat Nav, i am taking the Fairthorpe down to Le Mans again this year and trying to find your way round France in the dark whilst reading a map and driving is no longer part of the `adventure`!
So i drilled a hole inside the glovebox and mounted the cigarette lighter, just got to wire it in now.
For anyone interested in the Beanie hats they are available through the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Modified Fairthorpe Atom in print 1960

Here is an interesting picture of a modified Fairthorpe Atom, this looks like one of the original Mk1 cars with the `interesting` body styling..................
The car has had a set of cycle type mudguards fitted and the headlamps have been recessed into the bonnet area instead of being bolted on top of it. The car was presumably already off the road at this point as it appears to have no windscreen fitted to it. The picture was superimposed onto the beach scene for the article on beach combing written by Squadren leader A.T Ryland and published in the Summer 1960 edition of the RAF St Athan magazine. The scans were kindly sent to me by John Jarrett, at present none of the original Atom`s are known to exist, is there still one out there tucked away somewhere?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Fairthorpe Atom Major.................Now we`re cooking!

I am sure you cannot fail to be impressed by this natty period modification found on the Major, courtesy of one Mr Sainsbury.
The mechanical fuel pump on the engine had been disconnected and this electric pump installed by cutting a hole in the floor behind the passenger seat and covering it with an old Sainsbury cooking oil can with one side cut out of it. This has allegedly been approved by the FIA despite protests from Tescos.................. 
The large battery behind the drivers seat is also non standard, there is a recessed battery box on the upper level behind where the battery is seen here.