1953 HRG 1500 Roadster
s/n C1349S (W220), Engine no. see photo
Blue with Cream Leather
In 1935 Brooklands race car drivers Henry Godfrey (a car designer), Guy Robins, and Edward Halford (an accomplished mechanic and veteran WW1 pilot) embarked on a partnership to build the first HRG racecar. Their approach was simple: build a “gentleman’s racer” capable of spirited performance without compromising daily reliability. Within a year of setting up shop in England, the trio had developed a 1500 lb car with excellent handling and performance, relying on parts of their own design and specialized components from top tier suppliers.
The British Motorsports press so favored the “1500” that HRG set up shop outside of London, assembling and selling roughly 25 cars prior to the war. In 1946, HRG returned to manufacturing cars, bolstered by refined manufacturing skills acquired while producing airplane parts during the war. With new investors and keen interest in building full body envelope designs, HRG built an all-new design, delivering 30 examples by 1948. But it was the 1500 that continued to win the hearts of enthusiasts. On the track, the HRG 1500 proved itself a formidable contender, posting wins at the 24 hour Spa in 1948 and 1949 as well as winning the 1.5 litre class at Le Mans in both 1939 and 1949. During this period, US importer Max Hoffman exclusively delivered HRGs to the States, eventually handing the reigns over to Jack Wherry who would deliver all twelve of the 1953 HRG WS-series cars to the US. By 1956, despite efforts to redesign a new car using a twin cam engine, production had diminished to a handful of units per year. By 1957, HRG shifted to engineering outsourcing for other marques, continuing their efforts until 1966.
HRG total production over a twenty-year period (including the war years) amounted to roughly 240 cars. Only 26 HRGs were imported to the US with 18 surviving examples remaining. This example, a 1952 model imported in 1953, is production number W220. It is the fifth of six built in 1952 and is one of the last cars HRG built. Originally purchased and raced in period at Seventeen Mile Drive (Pebble Beach), Riverside, and Santa Barbara, W220 has been faithfully restored, shown at several events including Pebble Beach, and raced at the Monterey Historics. The engine installed in this car was originally an HRG “works” prototype motor developed for use as part of engineering developments for Ford. This unique motor features a non-cross flow 1500 series Cortina which HRG engineered utilizing Weber 40DCOE carburetors, intake manifold and a specially ground racing cam. This one of a kind engine is a unique and verified part of HRG history. The motor has been proven in several races, presenting ample power and reliability for events and touring.
Condition overall reveals a handsome older European-style restoration with charming patina suitable for showing and appropriate for events and touring. As with all HRG racers, the interior is all business, but features a mechanically delightful array of instruments and switches across the dashboard, highlighted by a handsome thick wooden and aluminum steering wheel. The bucket seats are pliant and covered in leather, allowing just enough feedback in hard cornering. Paint is glossy and well preserved with only minor chips from competition use. Brightwork is excellent overall. Engine compartment is tidy with some considerations for modern reliability. The opportunities to use this lovely HRG include eligibility for the California Mille, Le Mans Classic (once MSA/FIA papers are obtained), and multiple other events, both touring leisurely and in spirited competition. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a more suitable car with period race history at a lesser price.
To say this car is “well documented” would be a dramatic understatement. Copious documentation including a detailed monthly diary with entries of all work, discovered parts, expert contact information, historic notations, and detailed accounts of repairs and recent restoration. Additional period magazines, books, letters of correspondence verifying ownership and historic details as well as contemporary literature on HRG also accompany the purchase of this fine vehicle. HRG racecars seldom come to market as many remain in the hands of their dedicated long-term owners, being well-loved and deservedly so. W220 presents a unique opportunity to acquire one of the most documented and well-sorted HRGs available today in the states.
Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA
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