Bob's first love in cars had always been the Alpine and at the time he was busy restoring one. But when he saw an advert in the Exchange and Mart for a Harrington Le Mans it caught his interest as he knew that it was a very rare version of the Alpine and that only a limited number had ever been produced. This model had been introduced at Earls Court Motor Show in 1961 as a limited production model in celebration of its winning the Index of Thermal Efficiency at Le Mans in 1961.

So off he went Milton Keynes to have a look. The car had already been dismantled for restoration, but the owner having got that far felt that it was just too much to take on at the time. Bob couldn't resist, he bought it on the spot and transported it home. All the parts had been boxed and labeled which would be an advantage when he came to restore it. This wouldn't be for some time however as he was still busy with the Alpine in his spare time and fully occupied running a plant hire company the rest of the time. And the poor old Harrington was left under cover for about three years.

When he eventually came to start restoring it he found that it had been modified for racing, the front end and rear wheel arches had been widened, the front valance altered and a spoiler fitted, giving it the appearance of a Porsche. The fact that it wasn't too rusty was a big advantage.


 The first task in the restoration was to put the body back to standard with all new panels and by making the inner panels which were impossible to buy. The complete restoration took about one year. For maximum performance a Holbay 1840cc engine was fitted as well as electronic ignition, a larger radiator, twin 40 DCOE Weber carburetors and a Series V front suspension and steering box to give adjustable steering column and a late Series V overdrive gearbox. Also fitted were a Series V rear axle with a 3.7 diff from a Hunter GLS Arrow Range and SPAX adjustable telescopic shock absorbers all around.


 Initially the car was fitted with wire wheels, but because of the cleaning aspect and the higher risk of punctures (plus the fact he had a costumer desperate for a set of W/W) Bob fitted the car with a set of Minilites which we think look very smart, even if they don't appeal to some of the perfectionists in the club who have referred to them as Halfords lookalikes.

The car was finished in Carnival Red with a black roof but Bob was never completely happy with the roof (small cracks) and later had a vinyl one fitted. Eventually in 1990 the car was finally ready for the road and was used regularly after that. Our first major trip abroad was in 1996 when we attended the German National in Nordheim. where the vehicle was much admired. From there we journeyed down through Switzerland and into Italy to visit my cousins. There were encountered the only problem that occurred during the whole trip - a puncture, just as we were leaving but this was soon dealt with and we were on our way for home. We took time out on the way back to visit the famous Schump museum in Mulhouse, which contains an impressive collection of classic and vintage cars, including an enormous number of Bugattis as well as racing cars, a place well worth to visit. A big excitement for Bob during this trip was seeing two Ferrari F40's running together with a Lotus 7. whose drivers seemed to show as much interest in our car as we did in theirs!

Over the next 12 years the car served us faithfully with no more than basic servicing, making many trips abroad to events in Spain as well in the UK and in all that time the only problems we had were two punctures the one in Italy and one in Spain.

Following all these years of faithful service Bob decided the good old Harrington had earned a least a respray and maybe a few modifications too. He fitted quarter bumpers in the front and rear, the number plates were centralized into the bumper and additional lights were added. The slatted grille has been removed and replaced with a later type single bar grille to allow more air into the radiator. As well as this the front valance has been ducted to guide the available air into the bottom of the radiator and the oil cooler. On the exterior at the rear flank below the stainless steel a Tiger Rootes shield now proudly sits, where the curved blades should be, but unfortunately we have never been able to locate any.


 Another change of fitting of a new walnut dash with Magnolia instruments and with sensors to give a completely accurate reading. The electronic speedo is set by tyre size x diff ratio x 4 which is the number of magnets on the nose of the diff. A new radio consol similar to the optional produced by Harrington has also been fitted.


 There are many that will not approve of the modifications made to the Harrington, but for Bob it's his own Special Edition which combines classic beauty with modern technology and which cruises at 70 mph at under 3000 revs, making it ideal for long motorway journeys while still performing well in other road situations from winding mountain passes to quit country lanes.

This is a car for life!

Rita Brissenden


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