Specials & Sports Cars

Using Ford Sidevalve Components


Torero 600S

Torero 2

The following pictures and information were kindly supplied by John Halstead whose father was one of the many who built their own fibreglass body for their special.

Torero model: 1600S. Reg no: 618 VFM. Body type: open 2 seat. Colour: Red. Chassis: Bedford ladder frame. Engine Vauxhall Wyvern. Wheels: 17" steel perf. disc. Tuning_parts1: Twin 1.25" SU, 4 branch exhaust, Raised comp (approx 8:1), lightened flywheel.
Build complete April 1961, tour of France, Switzerland, N Italy summer 1961. Competed in trials winter 1961 & 1962, later fitted with Austin Healy 100/4 engine and transmission, Sold by my Brother 1964, not seen since.

Torero 4 

My Father worked for a bus company and was responsible of running the bodywork side of things, it was a very big operation and he introduced production line styles of working. Bodies for reconditioning were removed completely and put on mobile jigs so that sections could be removed without stressing the remainder. GRP was a new material, not generally available but my Father had read about it in some scientific mag and contacted the company who had developed it. Very soon he was using it to replace vulnerable aluminium panels on buses and was really into using it for stressed components. I remember some time later he went to Lotus to talk to someone about redesigning the rear suspension mounts on the Elite and came back full of enthusiasm about GRP monocoque for cars. The Torero was his spare time project. The body was built in two halves inside a mould (one of the pics shows that). 

Torero 6

The mould comprised two main heavy lengths of wood running longitudinally with vertical lateral pieces of plywood in slots cut out to give the shape (cross section) at approximately 6" stations, closer at the steeper parts. The ply was joined by thin long strips of flexible wood and then covered with stiff cardboard. the surface was then finished with plaster of paris and sanded to shape, GRP was laid up with mountings bonded in and one half of the body was produced. Next, the mould was dismantled and rebuilt to form a mirror image of the first one and the GRP laid up into it. That way each half became an exact copy of the other, except handed. Then the two halves of the body were joined on the center line by strips of perforated aluminium and bonded, you can see that on one of the pics.

Torero 8

The body was then finish sanded. The plan was to take a mould off the finished body for use in producing more bodies but that never took place, probably because Dad was keen to get the car finished and move on to his next project, a boat. I remember he drove my Mother mad coming into the house with sticky resin and bits of glass strand on his shoes. 

Torero 10

The chassis was a very much modified Bedford van chassis with redundant metal cut away and open channels boxed to increase stiffness. Everything possible was done to lower the C of G even the batteries (2x6V) were inset into the frame behind the seats. At first, modified Vauxhall torsion bar front suspension was fitted, it was a very neat leading arm anti dive system with low unsprung weight but when the heavier AH engine was fitted instead of the original Vauxhall Wyvern engine, it required a stronger wishbone suspension. The AH engine made the car go like a rocket but the handling was inferior to the original set up. One had to be quick with opposite lock, particularly at wet roundabouts. The original set up was best in my view because the lower engine power was made up for by beautiful predictable handling. A mate had an AH frogeye Sprite at the time, I could leave him well behind on twisty roads and Sprites were pretty nimble. The Corvette style side panels were designed in to act as air extractors, Dad was concerned that because the bonnet line was so low, necessitating a small radiator, we had to maximize airflow through the rad by allowing it to escape easily from under the bonnet. In the event they were not needed even after the AH engine was fitted. 

Torero 12

The badge on the front is the Foden Motor Club, I was an apprentice there, the one on the side is BRSCC. The car was nicknamed RUFUS by my Mother (it was red) and Dad had a red MG TC so she got a sign writer to paint "Equipe Rufus" on both cars. The rear panel was inspired by the "Kamm" tail, Dad was very keen on aerodynamic efficiency. The wheels were Vauxhall but later changed to lighter Dunlop type. The tyres were radials but one day I had a puncture and put on the spare which was a crossply, going home the handling was lethal and I changed it (and my underpants) ASAP. I was surprised that one mismatch tyre could make such a difference.

Torero 14

John would love to know the whereabouts of the Torero, or indeed any history of it since 1964. If you can help contact me via the feedback page.