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Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé

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693 LAC on the Targa Florio in 1964
693 LAC[photo: More Healeys]

articleThoroughbred & Classic Cars article by Michael Bowler Nov 1976

693 LAC ~ TFR2 ~ HAN8-64-R3

The 1964 Targa Florio car

The first of two very similar-looking aluminium bodied 'works' Targa cars, 693 LAC was built for the 1964 Targa Florio held on 26th April that year. It had semi-elliptic rear springs and a streamlined shape which gave it a KA factor of 0.0178 and a top speed of 122 mph with 80 bhp ~ its weight was 578 kgs (11.4 cwt). In the race, it completed 3 (out of 10) of the 72km laps before going out with a broken halfshaft. BMC had changed to using a lower grade material in the halfshafts. Geoff and Margot Healey had driven the car all the way down to Sicily with a large luggage rack on the back. He mentions in "More Healeys" that "TFR2 had shown a strong tendency to understeer, an unwelcome feature on the Targa Florio's twisty circuit". This was remedied on the 1965 car.

The car can be identified from the 1965 car, EAC 90C, by the diagonal 'split' in the bodywork behind the front wheel to enable the whole of the front bodywork to be raised or removed while EAC had only a central bonnet access. Both cars subsequently received coupé tops.

On 31st May 1964, 693 LAC raced at Nurburgring in the 1000 kms entered as a Sebring Sprite and driven by Clive Baker and Bill Bradley. By this time a short coupé roof had been added to the body. It finished a creditable 29th and 3rd in the up to 1.3 litre class behind the two Dick Jacobs Midgets. (See photo, right, of the Le Mans style start).

Later that same year it was prepared for Nassau Speed Week, held in the Bahamas in December, where it was again driven by Clive Baker, now with a full length coupé roof. According to the caption accompanying a photo in "Motor Racing" magazine (right) before the event its engine was to be of 1300cc (in place of its earlier 1098cc) and it was to take part in the 250-mile Nassau Trophy (in which it came 15th, and 1st in class after 49 laps) and the 100-mile Governor's Cup (classified 37th, completed 14 laps but DNF). Circuit length was 7.242 kms.

In January 1965* (Geoff Healey says in 'More Healeys): 693 LAC and 770 KNX "were driven over to the Austin Research Department in the East Works at Longbridge, where Graham Page and John Ebrey somehow found time to do some tests on them as delivered. They used smoke candles to determine the airflow over the body and the point where the breakaway occurred. Next they built up the body with plastic foam and cut this to shape to improve the airflow. This showed that the Targa Florio car could be improved, with an increase in maximum speed from 125 to 136 mph." Despite this they went ahead with another open Targa car for '65 ~ EAC 90C, but as he goes on to say "this was the base from which the later 1965/8 wind-tunnel cars were developed." (See page from the book, on right). *The above doesn't quite tie up with the car having already had the extended roof for Nassau but there are a lot of anomolies in Geoff's book - maybe he just has his dates wrong.

Richard Groves bought the car early in 1965 and John Moore raced it through that season. In May, Clive Baker joined Moore to take the car to a 1st in cIass in the 1000 kms at the Nurburgring. At the end of the year it was sold to Alan Goodwin who raced it through 1966 & 1967 ~ he recently told Ian Turner he wished he had never sold it, and a recent interview (Mar 2014) by Dennis Wharf, published in "Safety Fast" reads "With the proceeds from the Lola they bought Richard Groves' ex-works Targa Florio AH Sprite, the famous 693 LAC, continuing to enjoy some good results through 1966 on into 1967 when Alan married and moved to Hagley. But for the 1968 regulations changed and non-standard bodied cars were banned from the mod-sports Championship, so the Targa was sold to a professional golfer, less engine and gearbox, for £450. 'I really wished I'd kept that car, it's in Japan now, completely wrecked'. In the meantime Alan had extended his garage at home, where with Don (Loughlin) they built a space-frame Sprite for the 1968 season, the same year Aldon Automotive Limited was set up..... Using the ex-Targa Sprite 1147 works engine and gearbox with Tony Guy glass fibre bodywork, the car enjoyed considerable success". LAC then passed to John Priestley who used it both as a road car and for hill-climbs. The next owner, in 1974, was Charles (Chick) Barrett of Dunstable who carried out a complete rebuild of the car equipping it with an 1150cc engine, and it was regularly driven in club racing by 693 LAC 4Martin Field. In 1976, when Michael Bowler wrote an article (see left column) for 'Thoroughbred & Classic Cars' it still had its enormous 27¼ gallon petrol tank.

The car was later sold to Japan where, in July 1984 at Fuji Speedway, it was written off in a major accident. Ian Turner tells me:693-5"In 2003 I was working at Nick Jarvis`s in Bridgenorth, when a Japanese man enquired about having a new body built as he had written-off the car. All that was left was the engine and wheels!"

 

[My thanks to Ian Turner and Tom Coulthard for their help in compiling this page]

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[photos below courtesy
of Karsten Stelk] KS - 6
Hopkirk and Wisdom on
the 1964 Targa Florio
KS 8
Tommy Wisdom
KS 9
Paddy & Wisdom
KS 10
In this shot the car has acquired a number plate
KS 11
'Jenks' chats to Paddy, Tommy Wisdom in hat, and Geoff Healey leaning on the rear.
KT 1000ks1000kms Nurburgring 1964, No.122 with short coupe roof
[photo: Günther Molter]693 LAC
page from 'More Healeys'
[click for lower photo]
693 LAC
[from "Motor Racing" mag]
693 LAC
Another shot [Paul Taylor]
693 LAC
Alan Goodwin at the wheel, Snetterton, 1966.
DW 693 LAC
Alan again, Mallory Park, Boxing Day 1965. (The above 2 photos: Dennis Wharf)
693 LAC
"Short and functional, the Targa Florio Sprite with Martin Field at Woodcote" - later (in the 70s) with rear quarter windows [T &CC]
693 LAC
In Japan
[photos: Hiroshi Takemori]