Adrian Squire Unique Cars and Parts

19 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Adrian Squire Unique Cars and Parts

Adrian Squire (1910 – 1940)

Adrian Morgan Squire

Adrian Squire’s 1.5 litre sports car was arguably the best looking British two seater to be built in the 1930s. The low, rakish and perfectly proportioned Vanden Plas bodies gave the cars a thoroughbred ambience they richly deserved. The thickly slatted and deep set V shaped radiator considerably enhanced the front of the car while raising one side of the finely louvred bonnet revealed a supercharged twin overhead camshaft engine, complete with heavily finned induction manifold.

Because the Squire looked so good it is probably a little difficult to accept that there could be anything wrong with it. Alas, the impressive looking, but over stressed British Anzani engine that lay under the bonnet was the thorn in the Squire’s side.


Adrian Morgan Squire was born in 1910 in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, UK, the youngest of two sons and two daughters. His father, George Frederick, worked as an engineer for a gravel excavation company. Adrian first dreamed of building his own sports car in the 1920s during his schooldays at Downside, a Roman Catholic public school located in the UK. Such was his enthusiasm that at the age of sixteen he even produced a six page catalogue of the ‘all British’ 1 ½ litre Squire.

One of the car’s attributes was a low centre of gravity ‘which ensures maximum stability on corners’ and a 68 x 103mm 1496cc engine.

G. F. A. ‘Jock’ Manby-Colegrave

Although he seems to have been totally dedicated to the motorcar, Adrian studied electrical engineering at Faraday House, London after leaving school. However, his stay there was destined to be a short one, as he soon left and joined Bentley Motors as an apprentice. Then in September 1929 he left Cricklewood and went to the MG Car Company at Abingdon as a design draughtsman.

In 1931 he was on the move again, for wealthy young G. F. A. ‘Jock’ Manby-Colegrave, who had been at school with Squire, agreed to back Adrian’s plans for the ‘1 ½ litre Squire.’ It was decided that the car should be built at Remenham Hill, a few miles from the Thames side town of Henley.

Reginald Slay

A cottage was purchased at the top of the tree lined Remenham Hill and this was turned into a petrol station while a workshop was tucked away behind. It was in this quiet and rural area that the Squire began to take shape. Squire and Manby-Colegrave (who were then both in their early twenties) were soon joined by Reginald Slay, a ‘freelance’ car salesman of somewhat maturer years; he was 27 at the time.

Slay looked after the sales side of the business as a showroom had been rented in Henley. It was hoped that profits from new and second hand car sales would help finance the production of the Squire car slowly taking shape at the Remenham Hill works.

British Anzani

In view of his limited facilities, it is unlikely that Squire was thinking of building his own engine, but in September 1932 an announcement in the motoring press caught his eye. Details were being released of a twin overhead camshaft engine of 1 ½ litres capacity that had just been announced by British Anzani. It wasn’t long before Squire and Manby-Colegrave found themselves in the office of Anzani’s young managing director, Douglas Ross, hearing details of the new engine.

Squire said he would have the engine and promptly ordered twelve. Had the R1 engine been left in un-supercharged form it would probably have been reliable enough, but Squire was intent on performance as well as good looks. Therefore the Anzani was supercharged at 10 psi, a compact David Brown roots type blower being driven off the front end of the crankshaft.

This, coupled with other modifications was said to boost the bhp from 70 to 105, but blowing at this pressure helped sow the seeds of unreliability that dogged the Squire for its two year production life. Although Ross had intended the R1 to be supercharged from the outset he was thinking of a blower pressure of around 6 psi. As a result gasket blowing and overheating proved a major and recurring problem.

Also the valve gear was incredibly noisy; a symphony of double helical gears and tappet clearances of thirty and forty thousandths of an inch.

The ENV 110 Pre-Selector Gearbox

No doubt with an eye to aiding acceleration, Squire used an ENV 110 pre-selector gearbox. There was no clutch, a hard working bottom gear band having to do duty as such. A conventional channel box section chassis was used, suspension being by half elliptic springs all round.

Squire favoured the use of sliding trunnions on these springs, a reminder of the time he had spent at MG ; the arrangement being used on the C type Midget of 1931. Starting and lighting were looked after by a Rotax dynamotor mounted between the two front dumbirons, another inheritance from his schoolboy doodlings.

The Azani engine as fitted to a long-wheelbase Squire. Unfortunately it was unreliable after fitment of a David Brown roots type blower set to 10 psi.

Britain’s Most Expensive Sports Car

He designed brakes with a little over 15 in drums that filled the entire internal diameter of the wheel. The trouble was that these brakes proved, on occasions, almost too efficient. They used Lockheed actuation.

On at least two cars, strengthening flitch plates had to be added to counter the vicious retardation. When the Squire was announced in September 1934, two body styles (either open or closed) and both by Vanden Plas were listed. The car was available in two chassis lengths, even the shorter of the two cost UK£1200, making it almost Britain’s most expensive sports car – twice the cost of a 2 litre Aston Martin .

If there were some doubts about the reliability of the Squire’s engine, the same couldn’t be said for the roadholding, for which Adrian Squire deserves full praise. Motor Sport had no doubts about the car. ‘Even the straightest roads are not without their fast bends, but you could take them at 75 mph.’ ‘Even when we took fast bends at what seemed excessive speeds the car declined to slide or display any other instability.’ Each car was sold with a BARC certificate saying it had exceeded a timed speed of 100 mph at Brooklands .

The British Empire Trophy Race

Once the prototype, the aforementioned works demonstrator, was completed the next car, naturally enough went to Jock Manby-Colegrave. Then the Hon Sherman Stonor, who lived at nearby Stonor Park, purchased the third short chassis Vanden PIas bodied two seater, but then there were no more orders. No doubt with an eye of getting some publicity on the race track, Squire decided to enter a single seater version for the British Empire Trophy race at Brooklands in July 1935.

Unfortunately the car, driven by Luis Fontes, only lasted nine laps as the crankshaft broke, although as a face saver it was announced that a big end had run.

The BRDC 500 Mile Race

It was another two months before the single seater was seen at the track again and that was in the BRDC 500 mile race. On this occasion the Squire managed to soldier on for 54 laps before the chassis fractured. However, it was a case of third time lucky in October when Fontes was placed third in a Second Mountain Handicap race.

Meanwhile in the Autumn of 1935 another Squire was sold, this time a long chassis version. VaI Zethrin of Chislehurst, Kent, UK had seen the cars being tested at Brooklands and he felt that the Squire was the safest car he had ever driven. The road holding of the long chassis car was even superior to the short chassis, in Zethrin’s view.

A second long chassis was sold in 1936 to Sir James Walker of Faringdon, Berkshire, UK. Another short chassis car was also built up during that year, but alas, the end was in view and a creditors meeting was held in July 1936 and the Squire Car Manufacturing Company went into voluntary liquidation. During the two year period only seven cars had been built: two long chassis and five short.

Work also stopped on a 1 ½ litre racing car for the Duke of Grafton, with a Squire designed twin cam 1 ½ litre six cylinder engine with twin superchargers being driven from the centre of the block, much like the P3 Alfa Romeo. The chassis used Porsche independent front suspension. while a de Dion rear axle was also planned.

Although this car was designed for the then current voiturette formula there seems evidence to suggest that the Duke had record breaking aspirations for this car. Unfortunately he was killed at the wheel of his type 59 Bugatti in August 1936. However, this was not quite the end.

Val Zethrin, who already owned one of the two long chassis automobiles, bought all the remaining spares and chassis. Two mechanics remained at the Remenham works, and in 1937, a Corsica bodied Squire emerged. Zethrin built his own body on the last chassis.

Adrian Squire later re-joined W. O. Bentley at Lagonda and subsequently went to work at the Bristol Aeroplane Co. He was killed at the age of 30 in a daylight raid on the factory in 1940; his potential remaining unfulfilled.

Anzani W 3
Anzani W 3

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