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Hidden in plain sight?

Some will recall the strange series of circumstances that led to the identification of Jim Dean's double European Championship car in 2022. However, the tale has taken a more complicated and interesting turn through being able to connect numerous pieces of information that had been available for quite some time, yet with their significance remaining unrealised. It was another of those 'hadnabinfas' that has allowed us, more or less, to produce another fascinating insight that covers 65 years of tethered car racing.

The elements were all there, starting with the 5cc bevel drive car (right) that Lyndon Bedford has been running for the last three years at Buckminster, previously run by his dad, Ken Bedford, principle of the ETA company and producer of the famous range of engines. Next was a photo album from Lyndon that we published in an earlier car archive, but importantly with a series of images emailed to us more recently.

Add to that a 5cc car in the US, believed by OTW to be one of Jim Dean's from 1956, a plan passed to Oliver Monk from David Giles, a box of goodies that had not been fully delved into for sixty years, Dean's own Model Maker articles, and suddenly there was a moment of clarity.

It all came to a head at the September 2023 BTCG meeting where Oliver brought his plan, Hugh an original ZN 5cc pan and Lyndon, his Dad's 5cc car.

Comparing the three revealed that Lyndon's car was not based on a ZN pan as had been previously assumed but something significantly more rare, an Ian Moore Number 11. This was the 5cc version of his Shadow, available in the early 50s as two distinct castings. The first, a true Shadow where the lugs had to be cut off the motor and a second version with fairings to allow the engine to be bolted in conventionally. The Bedford ETA car was a Moore #11, not a ZN. Suspicions had been roused previously by Lyndon's car that not all was quite as it seemed as the pan handle had a decidedly odd dog leg in it to clear the rear tyre, as did the one in the US, but not apparent on the ZN casting.

Back home and a chance to look at Dean's 1956 article, and yes, his was the same, also a Moore #11, and so was the car in the US, although there was no mention in his article as to the origins of the cars, which date from after Ian Moore stopped racing. Ian Moore sold his original car in early 1953, but both the one in the US and Lyndon's are the pan castings with fairings so neither were the Moore car. Ian Moore cars had something of a history of the tether brackets and pan handle attachment being in the wrong place. His 'Special' had the brackets reduced to stubs to bolt on new brackets and his #11 the dog leg in the bridle, which would not be acceptable at all now.  The car in the US and the one in his article had Dean's trailing arm, front suspension but Lyndon's did not, although the cut-out in the front of the body indicated that it might have had at some stage, or was there a more intriguing possibility?

This photo from the archive shows a chassis that we now know is a #11, with an ETA 29 resting in it, but with Dean's tank that has the ignition switch attached to the back of it, front suspension and a pair of wheels with what appear to be solid tyres. Did this become Dean's car with a Dooling, or Ken's with the ETA but without the suspension, or even the one in the US?

A further photo reveals two identical cars, side by side, but now with GRP bodies, which brings another name into the equation, that of 'Barry', an employee at ETA who was heavily involved in working with GRP as well as the assembly of ETA 29s at the factory.

Ken Bedford started racing tethered cars in 1955 with a generic, spur drive 5cc car, similar to the Ivy Moore car that spawned so many copies throughout the 1950s. Jim Dean raced in every class and probably through racing, Ken and Jim became more closely involved in the development and running of cars. Lyndon remembers visiting Jim's workshop in Slough with his dad on a regular basis, hence Jim and Ken feature constantly in the rest of this article.

5cc car with suspension Raced by Ken Bedford late 50s The US car

Joe Riding, amongst others, had published articles regarding the use of composite materials for car bodies using a variety of reinforcing materials and 'glues' to create the required shapes. Ron Thrower had gone one stage further by producing complete 1.5 and 2.5cc cars in GRP (glass reinforced polyester resin) and was working alongside Paul Zere of ZN on a 2.5cc car that could be home built using commercial components with a GRP body.

Whether this is what prompted 'Barry' is not known, but he produced a pan and top that were identical mouldings with the pan having a lip added to locate the top. Ken Bedford decided that this would be the ideal basis for a 5cc car using freely available commercial parts with the mouldings available from ETA and other parts, ready to assemble, from other suppliers. Ken's completed car with an ETA 29 was described in the Model Maker for October 1956 named 'The Terry Special' after his eldest son.

The article goes on to say that Jim Dean had used a set of these mouldings to create a 5cc car of his own, but with a Dooling 29 and one of his own magneto ignition systems, along with his 'trademark', front suspension. Jim used his own suspension system on all his cars from the smallest upwards, but did not always run with it in place. He also used to change rear wheels on a regular basis depending on which track he was running on, which makes exact confirmation in photos of which car is which, difficult.

Back in May 56 Jim Dean had published an article describing the cars he was to be running during the season including a 'gear driven 'Shadow' type car' and a 'ZN type car fitted with a magneto and a fibreglass top and bottom to the body'. This clearly confirms that the 'Terry Special' and bevel drive cars were in existence well before the start of the 56 season. Both 'Terry' cars were run at the 1956 Blackpool Nationals although not in the competition. Jim won the 10cc class but Ken did not get any runs with his 5cc car.

This brings us neatly round to the 'other 5cc car' and its link with the present day. The 1956 Model Maker article illustrates Jim's #11 derived car, Dooling powered, whilst the photo we have shows a similar car but with the ETA engine. A smaller photo confirms the existence of two identical cars with a very distinctive body catch on the the top of each, which still exists on Lyndon's car.

This begs the question as to whether Ken Bedford actually machined up two, or even three identical pans as he had the facilities at the works and a vast engineering experience. Given that Jim only had one arm, this seems a real possibility.

Further, was 'Barry' responsible for the GRP bobtail bodies on each? These were very definitely smaller versions of the body on Jim's 10cc car, rather than the style Ian Moore drew out.

The photographic evidence we have shows Ken's car with Hayward wheels and tyres whilst Dean's own having McCoy or C&R rears. Yet another photo on the left shows an identical car, sans suspension but with an extended breather pipe and Dooling or Rowell rears? The car in the US has Hayward rears, but has the same body as on Ken's, not the one shown in the 1956 photos.

There is an internal battery fitted in the rear compartment of the pan where a knock off switch was originally as Dean never got round to fitting a magneto. It also has a different fuel tank and another of Dean's complex ignition and fuel shut off's situated between the tank and the motor similar to that on the photos of the car with the ETA engine. This could well have been a later evolution of the car?

The only real conclusions are that the Dean and Bedford bevel drive cars were both based on the Ian Moore #11 chassis pan, probably machined by Ken Bedford. Both cars may have had the Dean suspension at one stage but only the one in the US has it now. Three different bodies have been identified, which handily provide the evidence of a variety of tanks having been fitted to each car.

Dean's original 5cc tanks were huge and had very long vents that extended beyond the nose of the car. An early photo of Ken's car shows one of these fitted, but a later photo indicates a more conventional tank with filler and vent exiting out of the side of the car. Later, Ken fitted the shorter and more rectangular tank, seen here, running off a pressure tapping from the rear of the engine.

The relative location of tank and venturi in cars running anti-clockwise provides a perennial problem in mixture setting that is still eluding those running the older designs in that direction. Changing the direction solves the problem instantly, but is not possible with original castings. The dog leg in the pan handle can be clearly seen above, another marked difference to the ZN casting that is both longer, wider and has the bridle attachment further forward, not apparent until an original ZN could be placed alongside for comparison. Removing the fuel tank in Lyndon's or the car in the US would have confirmed that they were not of ZN origin as these all have the ZN logo cast in to the pan.

With further, more recent evidence, we can say for certain that the car in the US is Jim's 1956 car, somewhat modified. Although an on board battery has been fitted, the hole for the remote glow connector in the rear of the car is still present. There are no signs of the toggle body catch either, unless as mentioned earlier, there was a third, similar car or an entirely new body on the Dean car? Which brings us to an obscure British TV programme, which featured Henry Cole mending items in order to sell them on and one of these was a very similar ETA 29 powered car, was it a ZN or a Moore. OTW was originally invited to be part of this programme, but the production schedule was too tight, so they did a right bodge job on the restoration and we never got to see or identify the car.

Jim Dean's 1956 Dooling #11 Modified tank, dog legged bridle Jim's trailing link suspension

The discovery of the origins of the Dean and Bedford cars has led to a member of the BTCG making a pattern to the Moore plan, with two new cars already being built for the 2024 season, one Dooling powered, the other ETA, so maintaining a certain symmetry. Dave Cunliffe built a copy of the Dean car some years ago, complete with the front suspension so there could be four Dean inspired #11 cars running in 2024 with two more in prospect.

Dave Cunliffe's Dean replica Dooling and ETA #11 replicas from Oliver Monk

This article would not have come about without the help of Lyndon Bedford, John Lorenz, Jim Hampton, Dave Cunliffe, Oliver Monk and David Giles who have all had a hand supplying information, photographs and recollections.