FRISKY FAMILY THREE
Built in 1959
Villiers 197cc single cylinder four-stroke engine
Raymond Flower ran his family's business interests in Egypt which included The Cairo Motor Company that held the Nuffield Group contract to import cars into Egypt. An enthusiastic and well known racing driver he initiated several projects, to try and establish an Egyptian built car, most carried the Phoenix name. They included both domestic and competition cars. Perhaps the most famous being the Phoenix 2SR6 race car built initially to carry Egypt's purple racing colours. His good friends Gordon Bedson and Lord Raglan (Fitzroy Somerset) both made design contributions on this car.
In 1952 Colonel Nasser came to power. He nationalised the Suez Canal and, after Britain's unsuccessful invasion of Egypt, expelled all the British residents. Like them, Raymond Flower and his family, lost their homes and their livelihoods along with everything they owned in Egypt.
Returning to the UK, in 1956 Raymond brought his 2SR6 race car to Kieft Racing cars in Wolverhampton. He then approached Henry Meadows Ltd with his concept of a small basic car intended for "Third World" countries, however the petrol rationing caused by the Suez conflict had created a growing demand for small fuel efficient cars at home .
The first Frisky conceived, designed and built at Meadows. originally featured radical styling with gull-wing doors, but was too expensive to produce pre-production re-design resulted in more conventional features.Early cars were all four-wheeler FriskySports, with rear track narrower than that at the front. Villiers 3T 325cc twin cylinder engines were the norm.. Both The FriskySport soft top and a four seater prototype saloon were displayed on the Frisky stand at the 1957 Earls Court Motor show. The later never reached production but a Coupe version based on the Sport was launched at the 1958 Earls Court Motor show.
A specially prepared Frisky Sport undertook the journey to Monte Carlo, following the rally route, though not actually taking part, towards the end of that year, piloted by Gordon Bedson and Jim Saunders of Villiers. A second specially prepared Sport was raced at Hockenheim by Lord Raglan
Whilst the Sport was a popular car there was a larger market for a three wheel version and it was cheaper to produce. Development of the Frisky Family Three started in 1958 and by 1959 the car was in production.
The Family Three maintained the style of the Sport but used a new hard top body (shared with the Coupe) and was powered by a Villiers 9E 197cc single engine with Mcphearson struts front suspension, Lights and dash were now Lucas and a revised bench seat had adjustment. The car sold well appealing to those who held motorbike licenses .
Recognizing that the car required more power a Mk2 version was developed in May 1959 with an Excelsior 328cc twin engine (the Villiers 3T was optional) and the struts were replaced with the original Dubonnet front suspension. Unfortunately Frisky had financial problems and the Mk2 Family Three did not go into production until 1960
The prototype Frisky Sprint was launched at the1958 Earls Court Motor show (along with the Family Three and the Coupe) it was low and sleek and well received. Only one was built and it never made production.
The Sprints designers Gordon Bedson and Keith Peckmore (Michelotti was not involved) were headhunted in 1958 by Lightburn in Australia where they built the Lightburn Zeta Sports which whilst not a Sprint was designed by Gordon Bedson and based closely on it.( Michelotti was not evolved here either)
In late 1958 Raymond Flower got Nasser interested introducing the Frisky Sport in Egypt as "The Ramses" and all looked as though it was going ahead until the British Government suddenly vetoed it, their reason, Why should we help Nasser establish an Egyptian Car industry after the way he treated us. Nasser took it to Germany and the Ramses used an NSU as it base.
The final model was the Frisky Prince, in 1960, really a re-bodied Family Three with a few modifications. It was not liked and only a handful were made.
Remaining Frisky cars can be found as far from home as the U.S.A, Germany, France, Australia, Thailand etc. Generally accepted as being one of the prettiest, if not the most successful of microcars, survivors represent all models - even an incomplete Prince is being restored. A buck of the gull-wing bodyshell made on the original tooling over fifty years ago exists in the hands of John Meadows, grandson of Henry Meadows, where the Frisky was built. John also runs the Frisky Register, offering assistance and advice to owners wishing to restore and maintain their Frisky cars in the best condition.
If you would like more information Frisky see www.meadowsfrisky.co.uk
John Meadows August 2012