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Old 17 Nov 2005, 21:44 (Ref:1463522)   #1
DaveM.
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Tornado Thunderbolt

Any racing history, dates, photos, memories anything really that might be related to this car or the firm. Registered as WAU 637 and raced between 1960 and 1963. Had a TR3 engine fitted, 1991cc. looking for info for the new owner who is just about to complete restoration of this car. Look forward to any replies. Can e-mail photos of the car.
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 00:15 (Ref:1463645)   #2
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According to Peter Filby's 'Specialist Sports Cars', there was only one Thuinderbolt built, basically because of its inability to go round corners! It had a modified and enlarged Typhoon body and was apparently later converted to Talisman bodywork. No mention is made of it having been raced but it only get's a paragraph, so only the above info. is provided.

Dave, welcome to 10-Tenths!
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 00:35 (Ref:1463660)   #3
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Thanks for the info John, I will try and get this book. I have heard of it but did not realise there was a mention of Tornado Cars. I have spoken to Eric Martin, Tornado Car's workshop foreman/works driver and to Colin Hextall, joint director at the time. Both raced the car quite extensively, I know the car was part of a 3 car team that won the 6 hour relay in 1960 at Silverstone. Both factory drivers found the car very easy to handle and a joy to drive. Both drivers mention that bad reports came from not very experienced test drivers.
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 14:11 (Ref:1464138)   #4
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That's interesting, since according to Philby, it was Colin Hextall himself who described 'its inability to travel in anything but a straight line' and referred to it as 'a disastrous monster'! This book was published in 1974, so much closer in time to the events than now, so it makes me wonder whether memories are now at fault or are we actually talking about a different car!
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 14:24 (Ref:1464143)   #5
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was this the car auctioned at Coys about a month ago? Did you buy it DaveM?
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 17:57 (Ref:1464308)   #6
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Originally Posted by simon drabble
was this the car auctioned at Coys about a month ago? Did you buy it DaveM?
Hi Simon: This car was not bought from Coys, it had been in a lock up for some 30 years, before it has been ona slow restoration for the past 2/3 years.
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 18:04 (Ref:1464314)   #7
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The only 1 built

John, your quite right it was reported to handle badly, this was before the car was set up properly. Tracking was adjusted by a stick between the inner wheels and it took a while to get the spring rate working well for the suspension. Not many mod cons in the Tornado workshop! It must of handled reasonably well to come 2nd in the 1960 Martini 100, behind a Lister Jagaur. The Thunderbolt was reported quite often beside the less powerful Tornado Tempest which was noted for good handling, so it probably would of got a bit of bad press on comparison. It was also mentioned that Colin went faster in the Thunderbolt than he did in his TR3 and yes we are talking about the same car, only one left the factory and it was converted to have a Talisman body in 1963. It is now back with an original factory body.
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 19:38 (Ref:1464404)   #8
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"It must of handled reasonably well to come 2nd in the 1960 Martini 100, behind a Lister Jagaur"

Are you sure? THe Autosport report for the Martini 100 at Silverstone on 21st May 1960 gives class results only and shows W G Woodhouse (Tornado Thunderbolt) 3rd in the 2000cc class behind Cec Booth's Frazer Nash and G Dempsey (AC Bristol). A photo caption indicates that the overall result was 1st Coundley (Lister) 2nd Sturgess ( C Type) 3rd Ewer (Lister Chev). Or am I looking at the wrong race?
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Old 18 Nov 2005, 21:57 (Ref:1464525)   #9
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Originally Posted by RAP
"It must of handled reasonably well to come 2nd in the 1960 Martini 100, behind a Lister Jagaur"

Are you sure?
I have an original photo of the race framed and signed by Harold Barker (Motorsport photographer). I used the discription under the photo for my reference. He mentions W.G.G Woodhouse standing next to the car.The first mistake is clear as you can see Eric Martin in his race overalls and helmet on, but you can also see W.G.G.Woodhouse sitting on a wall with his wife, obviously discussing the race with E.Martin. Sometimes Woodhouse was the entrant and Martin was the driver. The second mistake is the fact it has mentioned a second place, not having the issue of Autosport to hand I can only presume your account to be correct, but still not a bad result. More than welcome to send photo if anyone is interested. Thanks for the info on the results.
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Old 19 Nov 2005, 10:09 (Ref:1464817)   #10
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This is why I love this forum; it teases out the facts from the fiction. Hopefully, enough research will bring out some more on this interesting 'one-off'. Glad that it has got it's original 'Typhoon' based body back. Will we see it out when restoration is completed?
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Old 19 Nov 2005, 10:52 (Ref:1464832)   #11
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Dave, if you've not already been in contact with Tornado founder/designer WGG (Bill) Woodhouse I can give you an address.
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Old 20 Nov 2005, 08:51 (Ref:1465434)   #12
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Originally Posted by Pete Stowe
Tornado founder/designer WGG (Bill) Woodhouse I can give you an address.
Hi Pete: Many thanks for the offer, but I have made contact with Bill and he has been a great source of information. I have a fair bit of history on the car, but I'm bassically trying to find as much info as possible. I believe the car did well in the Snetterton 750 on the 31/7/60 but I have no results to confirm. Also after 1963 the registration number was 89 FBL when the Talisman body was fitted, if this jogs anyone's memory please let me know.
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 03:21 (Ref:1466089)   #13
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We have had a Tornado Thunderbolt running at the US races for a number of years now. Interesting that the one coming out of storage is the only one. If I knew how to include a picture in hte message I would send one
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 03:26 (Ref:1466095)   #14
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I found a shot I had posted to the web "http://www.svra.com/SVRA/photogal.nsf/plinks/PHOR-6CHJ45"

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Old 21 Nov 2005, 10:07 (Ref:1466297)   #15
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That's a great picture Bob, but I rather suspect that is a special, which may have been given the name 'Thunderbolt' retrospectively. It is an open car so I suspect that it is a Typhoon (or Tempest) with the roof removed. As far as I know, all the Typhoons and Tempests and the one off (allegedly?) Thunderbolt were closed coupe's. However, I stand to be corrected.
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 10:14 (Ref:1466303)   #16
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Hang on though, the registration number in the photo is the same - WAU 637, so I'm probably wrong and also really confused! Is this the car now acquired by DaveM's 'new owner', and has it since acquired a coupe body based on the original? Dave, I think we should be told!!
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 14:42 (Ref:1466550)   #17
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It appears there are two of them, the UK one actually being a "Talisman Thunderbolt" see "http://www.toddmizener.com/Beadyeye/hist2.htm"
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 15:07 (Ref:1466561)   #18
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This is from the present owner of the US model "
TORNADO THUNDERBOLT HISTORY





Colin Ford, Droitwich, Worcestershire, ENGLAND was the first owner (and builder) of the Tornado ‘Thunder Bolt’ owned and raced by Bob Wismer and Bill Dentinger in the USA since the mid-1990s. The car was constructed during the period 1959-1961.

Bob and Bill purchased the car from a Mr. Henry Kovar, from St. Cloud, Minnesota, who had purchased the car from an English vintage auto dealer, and brought it over here to the United States. When we purchased it, it was in shabby (neglected) shape, including a badly damaged right front corner from a racing incident. We did an extensive (and expensive) restoration. We discarded the van chassis, and fabricated a new TORNADO THUNDER BOLT replacement, with the help of people like David Malins, Bill Woodhouse, Eric Martin, and the family, who at the time owned the ‘Talisman Thunder Bolt’.. Bob Wismer, who is an engineer, actually made a trip to England to verify both materials and dimensions. We also have the original ‘Fixed Head Top’ on the shelf, and are running the car as a roadster.


The Thunderbolt ran as a trials car in the 1960s in ENGLAND. It was raced by Mr. Kovar in Minnesota mostly at Brainerd International Raceway during the late 70s and early 80s. The car recently completed its seventieth vintage race since restoration in 1996.. It has raced at all of the major tracks in North America, from Canada to Florida, and from Brainerd, Minnesota to Watkins Glen, New York. The car runs ten to twelve events each year. "
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 15:33 (Ref:1466574)   #19
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If it only competed in race trials and no international events it could be very tricky to get FIA papers for it which not only would limit its European forays but ultimately value.... I am sure Marcus Pye would clarify its position on that as specials are sometimes different...
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Old 21 Nov 2005, 15:51 (Ref:1466586)   #20
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This is fascinating stuff, and great that there are two of them, although they both seem to have emerged from bits of the original car. Which one is entitled to carry the reg. no? I didn't realise the top was detachable; is that also true of the car on this side of the pond, DaveM?
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Old 22 Nov 2005, 00:37 (Ref:1467034)   #21
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OK, here we go. The Thunderbolt in the USA is a special that was built by Colin Ford in the UK 1959/1960. Having spoke to Mr Ford he could not go to the expence of a factory Thunderbolt. So he acquired a Standard van chassis, put some extra rails on the side and ordered a new body and hard top from the factory in the colour of black. I have a letter and a picture of the car to confirm this from Mr Ford. So this is not a factory built car. For reference Typhoon/Tempest/Thunderbolt bodies are all the same. The factory Thunderbolt(WAU 637) was made in early 1960, engine/gearbox/registration and ancilliaries taken from a crashed 1956 TR3. Chassis made by the factory, using 400e thames front wishbones and the live back axle from a Mk11 Zephyr. Body was red with a black hard top. This car raced up to march 1963. Eric Martin had built/raced this car from scratch and was given the car as a perk when he left the factory.He lenghtened the chassis and a Talisman body was fitted, as this was the more popular shape at the time and then sold."The original bare red body was left derelict at the back of the factory and the black hard top was sold to go on to a Typhoon, where it still is today". From then on it was known as the Talisman Thunderbolt. Until recently it was converted back to the original chassis length and a factory 2 seater body and hard top were acquired. Every part of the chassis is original. The USA car is a replica of WAU 637, but it's a very nice one and raced by true enthusiasts. Again if anybody would like to see some pictues, just send me your e-mail address.....John, all the hard tops were detachable. Hope this helps.
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Old 22 Nov 2005, 08:09 (Ref:1467140)   #22
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all of which sounds as if you wont be able to get FIA papers for it so not sure what you hope to compete in but short of domestic series I am afraid you wont be able to do much.
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Old 22 Nov 2005, 09:29 (Ref:1467194)   #23
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We do not really intend to race the car, it might do the odd hill climb as it did in the sixties or a track day. The exercise of the initail question was to get info of how well it raced and when it raced and any thoughts or memories people might have. Just trying to build up a history of the car. We have 10 Tornado's in various stages and are enthusiasm centres around family ties with the factory and local history. This forum has been very useful so far as well as the private messages.
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Old 22 Nov 2005, 09:59 (Ref:1467210)   #24
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Originally Posted by DaveM.
The Thunderbolt in the USA is a special that was built by Colin Ford in the UK 1959/1960. Having spoke to Mr Ford he could not go to the expence of a factory Thunderbolt. So he acquired a Standard van chassis, put some extra rails on the side and ordered a new body and hard top from the factory in the colour of black. I have a letter and a picture of the car to confirm this from Mr Ford. So this is not a factory built car. The factory Thunderbolt(WAU 637) was made in early 1960
OK, Dave, thanks, but can you see a slight problem here? The factory car appears to have built their car after the 'special' (I was right there, then?) was started, so is it accurate to say that Colin Ford could not afford 'a factory Thunderbolt' when the factory car had not yet even been built.

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Originally Posted by DaveM
For reference Typhoon/Tempest/Thunderbolt bodies are all the same. John, all the hard tops were detachable.
Are we sure about this? In appearance yes, but dimensionally as well? According to Philby's book the the Typhoons were either 2 seaters with 7' 3" wheelbase or 4 seaters with 8' 1". Also he says that the body was supplied in both open and 'closed shell' form. Is this wrong?

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Originally Posted by DaveM
The USA car is a replica of WAU 637, but it's a very nice one and raced by true enthusiasts.
How close to the factory car is it in fact? And noting that its construction was started before the factory car, is it not an original in its own right. I note that it carries the WAU 637 registration. Do we know what registration it carried when Colin Ford built it, or was it never driven on the road.

Sorry to be a bit of a 'dog with a bone' on this, but I'm genuinely interested in this, particularly from the point of historical accuracy.
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Old 22 Nov 2005, 19:00 (Ref:1467724)   #25
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I did note the slight problem John, but I've just wrote what info I have to hand, I will update this soon with regards to build dates.
The basic design was the same for all 3 models, yes there was a choice of wheelbase the shorter was known as the competition 2 seater.(seat were part of the body work. Then the occaisional four which just had a longer cockpit, allowinf for two proper seat to be fitted. All cars had a detachable hard top if ordered. The US chassis was rather different, being a modied van chassis, engine would of been the same though. I'm quite sure the factory car was built first, I will update this very shortly. The registartion number was 345??? when the car was in the UK....DaveM.
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