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Leyland Eight

The Leyland Eight was an attempt to create from scratch the best motor car in the world. The only car that was thought to hold comparison was the Rolls Royce. The project was stared in 1917 by Parry Thomas, with Reid Railton as his assistant. Referred to by the press as the "Lion of Olympia", the Leyland Eight made a sensation at the 1920 Motor Show. It was the first eight-cylinder-in-line British touring car to be produced. The chassis alone was priced at £2500.The engine was 6967c.c.when the car first appeared, but was subsequently increased in size to 7266c.c.Altogether 14 Leyland Eight cars were made. The first one to be completed was an open four-seater with disappearing hood. The rather square-shaped radiator was relieved by rounded edges, and a great number of fine louvres made the detachable bonnet-sides look most impressive. This was the car that Thomas used in his early competitions. 


In 1923 J G Parry Thomas designed the Marlborough-Thomas for racing at Brooklands. The two seater streamlined body tapered uniformly from radiator cowl to tail and covered a 1.5 litre four cylinder engine (made by Peter Hooker Ltd of Walthamstow) of advanced design. Two or three were built. 


Built over the winter of 1923-24 the Leyland-Thomas was a development of the Leyland Eight. It was substantially altered mechanically and featured a new two seater body. Two were built. It was one of the most effective Brooklands Outer Circuit cars.

Thomas Special

A four-cylinder single-seater with a 1.8 litre engine. Body style similar to the larger Leyland-Thomas. Finished in light blue.

Thomas Special "flat-iron" 

The "flat-iron" Thomas Specials were built for the 1926 season. Very low in design, hence the name, they featured a 1.5 straight eight with twin superchargers. Two cars were built. Entered the British GP in 1926 and 1927. 


In 1925 J G Parry Thomas purchased the 27 litre V12 Liberty aero-engined Higham Special from the estate of Count Zborowski. Parry Thomas carried out considerable mechanical modifications to the car and fitted a new single-seater body. The car made isolated appearances at Brooklands before heading to Pendine in April 1926 and an attempt on the Land Speed Record, which it managed setting 170.624mph. On 3rd March 1927 Parry Thomas made another Land Speed Record attempt at Pendine. During the run, Babs overturned and Thomas was killed.

Babs at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2005

Marendaz Specials / Marseal

Marendaz Special at Brooklands 2006

Tiger Kitten

The Tiger Kitten (1) special made it's debut in the first post-war meeting at Prescott, and was one of the first 500s. It was built by Clive Lones, on a 1935 Austin Seven chassis, whilst he was living in St. Melons, and raced primarily in hillclimbs. A second Tiger Kitten (2) special appeared in 1950, this was based on the prototype Iota 500 chassis.

LVT Special

The LVT Special was built in the late '40s by Lionel Victor Thomas of Swansea, a successful pre-war motorcycle racer. It originally had a Riley Nine-engine, which was subsequently replaced by Lea-Francis, then Riley 2.4 litre "big four" and finally Jaguar XK120 engines. It was used in local hillclimbs such as Castel Farm.


The Barden special was a Marwyn based 500 built by Don Truman and Barbara Longmore. This car was heavily modified by Jack Turner and was renamed the Barden-Turner.


Kieft 1100 - Hans Finke

O.H.J. Davies special

O H J Davies built his 1172 Ford-engined Davies special around a Kieft chassis in 1952. Davies owned the Castle Garage in Pembroke and produced the Davies manifold, one of which was supplied to Stirling Moss for his Morris Minor. The car was used in hillclimbs, mainly at Lydstep.

KJ 500

The KJ500 was a JAP-engined F3 500 special built in Cardiff by Ken Kitchen and Roy N Jones in 1953. It was campaigned in local speed and hillclimb events.


The Martin-Headland was a 500cc F3 Martin Special, built by Ray Martin, that was run by Charles David Headland in the 1954 F3 season. 


Turner at Brands Hatch 2006


This 1960 Formula Junior was a partnership between SJ Diggory Motors of Wrexham and Sewell and King of Chelmsford. Only the prototype was produced and achieved little success. It was sold to Ernest Pieterse in South Africa who fitted an Alfa Romeo engine and entered it in the 1961 Rand, Cape, South African and Natal GPs. It reappeared for the Rand GP in 1964. It's been restored and has appeared at the Goodwood Revival.

Heron at Goodwood Revival 2005. Photographs courtesy of Paul Mackness

Gwynniad / Diggory Gwynniad

After the Heron, Syd Diggory produced a pair of Formula Junior cars of similar design. Diggory ran them in the 1961 season, and one actually lead a British Formula Junior race.

Gwyniad at Oulton Park, 15th April 1961. Photograph courtesy of Roger Ellis

Diggory Group 6 sports racer

A 1964 Group 6 sports racer that was designed by Frank Costin. It used a Ford twin-cam engine.


Gilbern Genie at Llys y Fran Hillclimb 2005. Gilbern T11 (Gilbern Owner's Club)


Marcos started as a collaboration between Jem Marsh and former de Havilland aerodynamicist Frank Costin. Their intention was to produce a lightweight closed clubmans' car with a wooden chassis. The prototype emerged from Costin's workshop in Dolgellau in early 1960, and though rather ugly proved to be fast and effective. The first customer car went to Bill Marsh who promptly won 9 of the 10 races he entered in '60. This success attracted a number of orders for the car, including one which was raced by a young Jackie Stewart. By early '61 Marsh and Costin's relationship had deteriorated, and after less than 10 cars had been completed they split, Costin staying in Dolgellau to produce Costins, and Marsh moving Marcos production to Luton.



A Formula 1 car built for Jack Lewis by his mechanic Ted Jeffs. It was never completed. 

Davies special (2)

This Davies special was based on a Caravelle Formula Junior and run by Ken Davies of Haverfordwest. Competed in Monoposto races at Llandow.


A Clubmans car built by David and Bill Morris. 



Darrian T9 at Brighton Speed Trials 2005

Auto 14

Specialist Sports Cars

SSC Stylus at Brighton Speed Trials 2006

Red Dragon Automotive