Saturday, 16 May 2009

Tornado in Ricky
"I'm bored!"
Even when we were children this all-too-familiar complaint was uttered on occasions.
One solution Dad had was to pack us into the car, blindfold us and drop us somewhere before he went to work. We then had to discover where we were and to walk home to Chenies. I recall one such occasion he left us in Denham. this was not a place we knew but we soon found a signpost for Rickmansworth and we could find our way home from there. Tramping along the A412 was a little more interesting then than it is today- the Rank film studios were still funtioning and we caught glimpses through the trees of film sets.
As we ap
proached Ricky we made a discovery - the Tornado Sports Car factory.
Back in the days of Purchase Tax cars in kit form were exempt and so there was a generation of budding racing drivers who bought kits like the Tornado and sometimes actually assembled them.

Bill Woodhouse and Tony Bullen entered the kit car market in 1958 with the Typhoon body and chassis kit, which was designed to turn a

Ford 10

into a sports car......

Over 300 of this model were made.

In 1960 the similarly styled but more technically advanced Tempest and Thunderbolt models were introduced, the Tempest being powered by the Ford 105E overhead valve power unit

The Thunderbolt was based on the Triumph TR 3

All of these models were offered as open sports cars or closed coupes. Wheelbases on offer gave a choice of 2 seats or 2 plus 2 (known as the Occasional 4); the Tempest even offered a full 4 seat option.

Another option for the discerning Tornado buyer was to specify the kit as a Sports brake
probably the first "sports estate".

Despite consistent success on the race track sales of the Thunderbolt and Tempest were slow and Tornado Cars Directors decided that a radical change was required. In December 1961 the Talisman GT sports saloon was introduced, the first 4 seat production car to feature a Cosworth engine. The Talisman grew to an improved Mk 2 version and remained available into 1964. The final model produced was the brain child of new owner John Bekaert.

It was a Talisman, I believe, which we encountered on our walk

Picture of Talisman & Thunderbolt

But one vehicle we definitely did not see was this beast....

The Tornado Fiat 600D was said to have out accelerated a Ferrari at the Brighton Speed Trials.

Despite numerous attempts to resurrect car manufacturing by the Woods family who took over in the mid 60's Tornado Cars became specialist in repairing accident damaged vehicles until closure in 1985.

Many of these photos are reproduced here courtesy of Dave Mallins who compiles the Tornado Register amongst other things.

Yes we did get home.

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