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Classic Kit Cars - The Filby Files. Now with Stevens cars on P4


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Kit cars are always interesting, even if it’s to wonder what the actual fuck they were thinking of.  Peter Filby has had his fingers in many fibreglass pies but the writer is Chris Rees who seems to know all the stuff.

I got this book from Amazon, second hand for a fiver.  I’ll put some of the pages up here, I’m sure you’ll recognise a few of the cars.  I put the first one up mainly to show what a complete two and eight some of this stuff is, what a complete waste of self tappers.










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I've never heard of most of those so I need to get myself a copy of that. Makes me wonder if any were actually built or the buyers got fed up of how crappy the kit was and just chucked the whole lot in the skip. Those names though! I'll have a Butterfield Musketeer, or maybe a Grantura Yak or a Beaujangle Can Am.  Or perhaps a Sheen Imperator GTS.

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There’s a fair chance lots were part-built and then scrapped, some were never started and they occasionally come up for sale even 3 or 4 decades later.

It’s great to see what people come up with, some are really very good indeed compared to contemporary production cars (not very well made either)

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On 9/7/2019 at 9:49 PM, garethj said:

I put the Stevens Cipher in here because @Bfg was involved in the development 

yep (hands up) I did it !   

Interestingly there's a later one on Ebay at the moment < here >.  This one Tony re-engineered it and built in conjunction with "the Russians" using Lada 1300 Samara mechanicals.  There's only one, so if you're in the market for a unique small sports car, with readily available parts, then all you've got to do is to win the bid.  There are however eight (I think) Ciphers built, using four different power trains. 

And at the time of the (above) magazine listing I was partner to and running Lomax.  The prototype used the Citroen flat-twin engine but was on its own chassis.  I developed and marketed it as a kit-car package on the Citroen chassis.  In terms of sales and as a business it was "too successful,  too quickly"  for my level of experience. 

On 9/8/2019 at 12:36 PM, quicksilver said:

Makes me wonder if any were actually built or the buyers got fed up of how crappy the kit was and just chucked the whole lot in the skip.

I don't recall how many were sold but hundreds were built and many owners became great enthusiasts. 

After being ripped off by Nigel Whall, who created the Lomax's concept, I moved across to building the (also A-series Citroen based) Falcon S and its 3-wheeler version the LX which were styled along the lines of a Lotus Super-7.   It's noteworthy to remember that Colin Chapman started off in the kit-car business.  His prototype was for built for hill climbs, and the Lotus seven he sold as a kit was originally based on the Austin-7.  Only later did he progress to Ford.  Nevertheless, he sorta did OK for himself.



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Here's a couple I built . .


^ Yes that's me. 

My first 'kit' was called a Stevens Sienna.  I had been working for Tony Stevens for a year (1979 - 80), helping him create the Cipher - which was intended for low volume production, and we'd just got it through limited-production Type Approved when Hesketh motorcycles and then Delorian crashed.  The latter was especially big publicity at the time because he had government backing ..to create jobs in Ireland.  As a result our financial backers took fright - The car business was too high risk.  

We were just a two man anyway + a part-time fibreglasser business so our overheads were minuscule. To bide time, while Tony was looking for a new source of venture capital, I proposed using the moulds from his prototype Sienna (the red car seen above) to create and market a kit-car.  The original Sienna had originated from his building 1920's style light-commercials as working advertising platforms (..United Biscuits : Taxi chocolate bar,  etc).  Anyway he simply said "get on with it then", so I bought a scruffy Triumph Herald, took a mould off the floor pan and extended a set of Sienna mouldings (sized for a Reliant Kitten) to sit over this four seater chassis.  It was comfortable and very easy to drive, reliable, and pretty quick with such a lightweight body, and things like the Triumph's wooden dashboard looked a treat.  Alas money ran out before I had a chance to get it to any kit-car shows, so only the one was made and it was sold through the local (Warwick, Leamington Spa) newspaper's classified ads ..to pay the bills.  No more money so I was laid off. 


These are the first two Ciphers we built.  The one in the background was the first, which was our development hack and the car used for the first press articles in Autocar and then Motor. Because of the publicity from those magazines, Tony managed to talk our way into exhibiting at the 1980 National Motor Show (first time held at the NEC if I recall) - Normally the organisers wouldn't allow any car that is not already in production or from an established manufacturer.  The second car (in the foreground) Tony had painted the same colour so there would be continuity between the magazine articles and the car actually on the stand in the show.  Subsequently it was repainted metallic blue and sold to a garage owner in the village of Deddington. Literally selling one to pay for the next two sets of mechanicals from Reliant. But as I say.. venture capital never materialised.

Only a few years later when the venture was laying financially stillborn, and I had my own fibreglassing business and was partner to Lomax, did I try to re-introduce the Cipher as a kit car. The kits were offered with all new mechanicals and mostly assembled.  The hope was that with the MG Midget and Triumph Spitfire by then out of production, there would have been takers, and those sales might in turn might attract venture capital.  Unfortunately, a new car was too expensive for 'kit car' punters.   I was building one car on Reliant running gear ..as per the original, and then a second car using Mk1 Ford Escort mechanicals,  but we were inundated with orders for the Lomax, so they sat unfinished in a corner of my workshop.  Then I met a chap whose business was building kit-cars for clients. He offered to finish the two Ciphers according to my spec. and we agreed a price.  He collected the two cars and then disappeared.  I got ripped off.  There ended my attempt to introduce the Cipher as a home completed new car. 


Anyway it's time for my supper now,  but ..if its of interest, I'll come back tomorrow (or whenever) and share a little background to the demonstrators I developed and built for Lomax and Falcon kit-cars (during the 1980's).





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