Funny what you see at classic car shows isn’t it?
There I was as the Classic Car Show at the NEC a short while back and there was a car I last saw when I snaffled a brochure for it when the car was originally launched way back in 1984.
The Naylor Car Co is now an almost forgotten gem in a current world of established classics. This was no ordinary homage to a lost era of open top motoring and in fact many pundits thought it was a kit car, but the Naylor TF1700 was in fact all new from the ground up – a brain child of Alastair Naylor and a small close knit group of investors.
Using Austin Rover running gear comprising of a 1.7 “O” series engine, an Ital gearbox and Triumph Dolomite live rear axle, the TF1700 was a modern day version of the original MG TF. By trying to be as faithful to the original TF, the Naylor version proved to be incredibly well engineered and superbly crafted. Sadly, the production car lost its ornate suicide doors and a couple of other detail items thanks to more modern type approval laws.
Once you get up close, its craftsmanship and overall quality is testimony to the Naylor vision of building the finest model they could. Nothing looks Heath Robinson or cobbled together and it took a team of three some 250 man hours to fully assemble. The seats are fully contoured and clad in the finest Conolly hide, the dashboard graced with modern font dials looks resplendent in its walnut veneer – everything you expect of a quintessentially British sports car.
A modern torsion bar front bar front suspension and power assisted disc / drum brakes complimented some of the hidden beauty you couldn’t see. The chassis was a rustic box section type while the ornate hand crafted body sat on a traditional ash frame all created in a tiny manufacturing plant near Bradford. A 12 gallon fuel tank allied to a respectable 32mpg offered a decent touring range.
Production was split between Naylor and North East based Hutson who bought the rights to the car when Naylor sadly went into receivership after 100 cars were built. Sales Director Alastair Naylor told me “we made them too good really and 1984 was one of the wettest years on record, not ideal for a fledgling company building two seaters cars“. It was originally planned to produce 200 units annually but the money ran out.
There were talks of Morgan buying into the business but sadly nothing came to fruition and the day the plug was pulled financially in 1986 still remains what Alastair quoted as being: “one of the darkest and saddest days of my life” The same year saw the Hutson Car Co formed, they went on to produce another 61 examples but moving production and changing name maybe lost some of the original magic.
Almost all of the cars built still exist even as far afield as the USA and Japan and there is a thriving owners club. The one thing that does strike a chord is the passion and love for a dream that was killed off almost 30 years ago in amongst former workers and owners of these stunning little cars… one of which has even been fitted with a fuel injected Rover K series engine.
Naylor Brothers still service the vehicle restoration scene and operate from a thriving unit in Shipley West Yorkshire.
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