JAX 12 is recorded in John Sprinzel and Tom Coulthard's book "Spritely Years" as "the Jack Wolchover car" which was fitted with an alloy rear end and door skins. Jack competed with this car in the Bournemouth National Rally in 1961, and in both the Cullen Cup and the Bolton Rally the following year, plus probably many other events. Still in the 60's, the car was owned by George Katz who says "I part exchanged my 'hot' Mini for the Sprite at a mews garage in Swiss Cottage, London, now long gone (I probably saw the ad in Motorsport which I used to read at that time). The guys told me that it had been owned and raced by Douglas Wilson-Spratt (not sure this is accurate, MEI) and at the time the number plate was JAX 12. When I picked up the car they had changed the plate which I was annoyed about so they reduced the price of the car by about £50. The bonnet was fibreglass and the rear end was aluminium and it came with a detachable hardtop. I kept the car for about 7-8 years. I made the mistake of buying a new car (a TR4a) before selling the Sprite, so it languished on the drive for about a year before I sold it on to a policeman". The 'policeman' must have only had the car for a year or so before Paul Rogers spotted it for sale at a garage at Catworth, near Huntingdon in, he thinks, 1970 and he ran it on the road for about 5 years before laying it up for a while, only selling it in the early 80's. It subsequently went to the USA where it was owned by Charles Shields. Charles had the car for many years before selling it in 1994. In March 2010, RM Auctions sold the car on behalf of the owner, Peter McLoughlin, at Amelia Island for the sum of $44,000, equivalent to about £30,000 Sterling in the UK. He had occasionally raced the car after it had been further restored by Jeremy Bowkett. When sold in 2010 it was apparently fitted with a 998cc engine, and modern upgrades include upper and lower A-arms to the front suspension, double trailing links at the rear, and Tilton clutch and front disc brakes. It also now has an ATL fuel cell and Minilite wheels. The bonnet is the usual Williams & Pritchard pattern Sebring one and the hardtop is the BMC production item. Later-type Mark 2 Sprite or MG Midget rear light clusters have been incorporated into the aluminium rear wings and a boot-lid cut into the rear apron, giving it a style which is a cross between Mk 1 and Mk 2 Sprite. Stirling Moss drove the car in the 1996 Monterey Historics, "achieving a podium finish after a spirited battle with a Morgan Plus Four and an Abarth Porsche". (Some images courtesy of RM Auctions - thank you).
From Gary Wolchover, Jan 2011
"re: JAX12 - 791 NAR,
I note that the registration number was JAX 12. This went on to feature on a couple of big Healeys as well as an S Type Jag. Jack Wolchover wrote off a car (I can't remember which one) in the mid 80s by crashing into a brewery wagon. To keep the registration number was so complicated, expensive and time consuming he gave it up".
From Paul Rogers, September 2012
At the age of 17, around 1969, I suffered a motorcycle accident which prompted me to abandon 2 wheels and progress to four. Funds were short as I was still at school, but after a year or so of driving an old side-valve Ford I received a cheque for £350 as settlement for my injury in the bike accident. I promptly went in search of a more interesting car..... 791 NAR was sitting outside a country garage at Catworth, on the old A14 between Huntingdon and Thrapston; having just been painted in a bright yellow and sporting a sign saying £150. The garage owner explained that he had just sprayed the car yellow as it had previously been a dull blue; "Not a very sporty colour" he told me..... This young man's heart was stolen and a deal was quickly done! The log book revealed that in fact when new, the car - presumably supplied as a standard Mk1 Sprite prior to conversion - had been in Old English White. Certainly there was evidence of both in hidden corners!
I realised that my pride and joy was not at all standard - obviously the "Frogeye" bonnet had been replaced with a sleeker one, and there was a boot lid; it also had Girling hydraulics and disc brakes up front, and of course alloy bodywork - not at all like my cousin's standard "Frogeye" Sprite.
"John Sprinzel" was engraved on the alloy steering wheel, but I never became familiar with any of the car's history beyond that number plate change in the log book, and that unusual name under "first owner" - but not someone I had ever heard of!
791 NAR served me as transport for several years, including my final year of 6th form at school in Huntingdon, then working in London, the West Country, and later back to the family home in the Cambridgeshire fens, before being retired and pushed to the back of my father's workshop. It was only in the early 1980's, during a "clear out" that the old Sprite was uncovered and happily sold on for perhaps a few pounds more than I had paid, sufficient to buy a new set of tyres for my Series 1 E type DHC purchased a few years earlier for £650 which remained with me for 25 years.... but that is another story!
Only within the past few days have I come across the history of JAX 12 - 791 NAR, and learned that the old car I had assumed long gone had in fact been saved for an illustrious future - quite a surprise, but all wonderful to learn. I have several photographs of 791 NAR taken during my ownership. [see opposite]
With best regards, Paul Rogers."
[ Paul would love to hear more of the car as it is today - email ]
From Charles Shields - April 2013
"Hello Martin, I found [the car] in a small trade paper in the UK and comissioned the body restoration there. It revealed numerous colors and several accidents in the past and primarily used as a club racer. Badly rusted, most floors were replaced along with some body sections. Doors and boot lid were aluminum, top and bonnet were fibreglass. We attempted to trace history but with little luck. Sent to the US in 1986, we built a 997cc motor, billet crank, Carrilo custom rods, roller rockers, etc. We “O” ringed the heads and ran 13.2:1 compression. Power band was from 4300 rpm to 7800 rpm (!!). dyno’ed at 138 bhp. Depending on the track, we either ran a 4.88:1 or a 5.12:1 diff (the latter was used for mail delivery mini vans and nearly impossible to find). We sent the car to the UK in 1990 to compete in the Pirelli Marathon (S. Moss and I as a team) with 11:1 heads and 4.55:1 diff, but as the clearance was quite low, we opted for a ’66 MGB. Returned it to USA and then sold it in 1994. It was then infrequently raced and subsequently sold at the Amelia Island auction in 2010. I do not know the current owner or if he/she is racing it. Thanks for the info about JAX12. I do now recall the placard 971 NAR being on the car. The first photo you have on the site [top right] features Sir [Stirling] Moss driving the car here in USA, probably in the late '80's. Moss was a frequent guest driver of my Sprite in the USA and the Bahamas. He loved the car, saying 'It is incredibly agile, deceptively fast and one of the best historic production cars...' he'd driven.
I've attached a photo from the 1990 Pirelli Marathon - London to Cortina - with Moss and I. Moss so wanted to compete with my Sprite, but it was just too low for the back roads in France, Germany, Italy, so we opted for a MGB. In the 'winners' photo, is Paddy Hopkirk with Alec Poole and Ron Gammons with his co-driver. Also, attached, a pic from Sebring, 1983 or '84 with another Sprite I raced; Moss in the seat and Augie Pabst (a well known US driver) in the seat of the A-H 100, and another photo of Moss driving my old Sprite. Best regards, C."
See the article "Moss at Montery"
So where is the car today? Anybody know?
The car in George Katz' ownership - oddly the reg. no reads 971 instead of 791 !!!
791 NAR in the 70's
by Paul Rogers
Photos from Charles Shields below:
Sebring 1983 or '84 Moss in Charles Shields' other Sprite
Moss & Charles Shields on the Pirelli Marathon 1990
Cortina 1990 - Stirling Moss, Charles Shields, Paddy Hopkirk, Alec Poole, and Ron Gammons with Paul Easter.
Moss at the wheel of JAX 12