Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé

Silberstone 69sidebar image

Andrew Forster and I (Martin Ingall) cutting the celebration cake.
[photo: Pierre Lequeux]

Sebring Replica 20 Year Celebration

at the Silverstone Classic ~ 27/28th July 2013

In May 1993 Brian Archer and his team at Pope Street, Birmingham, rolled out the first of their replicas of John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé modelled on Stephen Bowen's ex-Ian Walker car, then awaiting restoration at Brian Wheeler's premises at nearby Wolvey. That first car was my own 946 JJO though in fact Country Lane Classics had put together another car a few weeks earlier using one of Brian kits - that car now owned by Andy Actman. So 20 years on and with almost 100 kits delivered, it was decided to have a little celebration. The Midget & Sprite Club generously agreed to provide some space in their display at the Silverstone Classic and 11 immaculately turned out Sebring Sprites arrived in the early morning on a scorching summer's day. Intermingled with other Sprites and Midgets I think we can say the Sebrings stole the show. Appropriately the now fully restored WJB 707 was there with owner Stephen Bowen, and his brother, to make 12 cars in all (below).

Silverstone 3
Silverstone 5
Silverstone 7
Silverstone 9
Maggi and Roger Byford with Brian Wheeler & Roger's JTF
The BRG Coupé of marshal Jimmy and medic Sheila, Lee
Brian Wheeler's Dolomite - engined Coupé
Aston Martin employee Gordon Higgs' pristine Coupé
Silverstone 12
Silverstone 18
Michael Meerlo's dipped nose Fastback with 14" knock-on wheels from Belgium [photo Michael Bowen]
The original alloy-bodied Ian Walker car (WJB 707) owned by Stephen Bowen [photo: Michael Bowen]
Mark & Katie Warne's ex-Bill McDonnough/ex-Ronnie Coia "Speedring" (Speedwell/Sebring)
Mike Youles/Paul Tarry racing Fastback
Silverstone 14
Silverstone 16
Silverstone 16
Silverstone 17
Mark Peteren's ex-Ian Ashfield Fastback
Derek Stewart's Fastback with wide wheels
Mark Turner's hybrid Mark 2 Sebring Coupé
JoJo, now sans racing bling

During the lunch break the cars' owners gathered for the cutting of a Celebration Cake brought along by Andrew and Angie Forster. It was quite a moving moment when two Spitfires took to the air and streaked across the clear blue sky and, as if on cue, a roar of sound heralded the arrival of S221 and 184 FGJ from the race paddock in the hands of Chris Clegg/Martin McGlone and Charlie and India Clegg. Andrew said a few choice words, recalling his days working with Brian and thanking the owners for bringing their cars along for the occasion. As well as the cars' owners we enjoyed the company of Pierre Lequeux, Peter Fletcher, Mark Boldry, Colin Danks ~ and others whose names I'm afraid escape me, but thank you for joining in our celebration. Tom Coulthard sent his apologies but "was there in spirit".

Silverstone 3
Silverstone 2
Silverstone 13
Silverstone 24
S221 and 184 FGJ arrive on cue, with the Spitfires flying overhead
Silverstone 20
Bowen, McGlone & Clegg

Silverstone 19
The Gang (l to r): (?), Michael Meerlo,Michaela and father Gordon, Higgs, (?), Angie & Andrew Forster, Peter Fletcher, Stephen Bowen, Jimmy Lee, Chris Clegg, Bram-Boris Meerlo, Roger Byford, Derek Stewart, Michael Bowen, ?Colin Danks, Katie and Mark Warne, Pierre Lequeux, Mark & Ian Turner.
Someone help me with the (?)s please!

Later in the day the organisers had planned for us to take a parade lap around the circuit so at around 6 o'clock we all gathered in an orderly group with that in mind. Unfortunately nature intended otherwise with a torrential storm causing that part of the day's activities to be cancelled ~ this quite disappointing for all involved.

Silkverstone 74
Silverstone 65
Silverstone 66
Silverstone 67
The line-up for the parade lap [photo: Michael Bowen]
[3 photos above courtesy of Michael Meerlo] Stephen's brother Michael in WJB (centre)

By Sunday morning the electrical storm had blown over, and the sun was back out though it was cooler with a stiff breeze. Having practiced on Friday the two race Sebrings S221 and 184 FGJ were preparing for the RAC Tourist Trophy for Historic pre-'63 GT cars. They were up against a big field of Astons, Lotus Elites, 'E' types, Porsche 356s, Ferraris, etc. Charlie Clegg started in FGJ and had a terrific dice, first with a 356 which he eventually passed, and later he got by a Healey 3000 and a Ferrari before coming in to hand over to his sister, India, who very competently rounded off the race. Martin McGlone started in S221, before Chris took over, dicing with an E type which tapped his rear wing at Village making a small dent in the aluminium. Results will follow.

Silverstone 31
Silverstone 32
Silverstone 33
Silverstone 35
Martin McGlone in S221, dices with a DB5
Charlie in FGJ chases a 356 and an E type
Silverstone 38
Silverstone 41
Silverstone 42
Silverstone 43
Amazingly Charlie eventually managed to get the little Sprite in front of these much more powerful machines
Silverstone 44
Silverstone 45
Silverstone 46
Silverstone 47
S221 gets a nudge from a big cat
An Aston blasts past
Silverstone 48
Silverstone 49
Silverstone 50
Silverstone 51
The leader laps him
Another of those Astons goes by
Chris in flight
Silverstrone 52
Silverstone 54 Silverstone
Silverstone 55
Village Corner
India at speed
Sibling drivers Charles & India,
& Mum (Jane, right)
Cooling off after the race.


And now watch the race from the cockpit of 184 FGJ with Charlie Clegg on YouTube.

[Many thanks to Michael Meerlo, Michael Bowen, Mark Turner & Pierre Lequeux for photos]

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