Author Topic: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip  (Read 5732 times)

zetasports

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Hello from sunny Adelaide.
I arrived in Adelaide yesterday to start working on my new 1963 Ampol trial rally Zeta car.

This is one of 3 Ligthtburn Zeta cars which took part in the 1964 Ampol Trial which was a 7000 mile endurance rally around eastern Australia.

One of the Zeta cars finnished last but for a 324cc two stroke car to cover 7000 miles and still be running was an amazing achievement.

I will be sending pictures to youtube over the next few weeks and I hope you enjoy the journey of this remarkable little car.

Thanks and good day from Robin Heath

richard

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 07:38:57 PM »
are those really the same lucas back lights as Bonds
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zetasports

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2011, 12:48:29 AM »
Thnks for your question and while I am not familiar with the lights on a Bond I expect they could be as they are Lucas and distinctive.

The Zeta was made from a mixture of accessory parts and parts made here in Adelaide,

I imagine someone here looked at a catalogue and ordered 350 sets of tail liights of a suitable type.

Years ago I was told that the shape of the Fiberglass molding was made to take the tail light assembly from a Zephyr,

However, after the body moulds were made, Harold Lightburn made some cost saving measures so they chose an accessory light from Lucas,

If you view the Video on youtube I put up yesterday, you will find some more pictures of the spare tail lights in the boxes of parts in the garage.

Take a look at my robinheath1 channel and let me know what you think.

Have a nice weekend and thanks again. Robin

PS I have often wondered over the 30 odd years of owning the Prototype Zeta Sports car, how Lightburn and Gordon Bedson created the original moulds for the cars.

Shane Bucannan now has a letter from John Medows confirming that one of the frisky cars that Gordon was working on was stolen from Frisky when Gordon left England in 1959,

I believe Gordon, Harold and Donald Campbell were all in this project together at the time when Donnald was planning his World record attempt at lake Eyre in 1962.

There were a number of Zetas at Lake Eyre with the Bluebird as well as some special built Saab vehicles that were made at the Lightburn factory.

 We have photos of Donald Campbell with Zeta cars at lake Eyre as well as photos of Donnald Campbell waving my Zeta runabout off at the start of the 1964 Ampol Trial in which 3 Zetas were entered in the 7000 mile trial and one finished!! ( last of course)

I have copies of old films and original brochures as well as newspaper reports showing the Zeta cars and Donald Campbell which I will upload to the internet soon as part of the 50 years aniversary I am working on with the help of the Birdwood Mill National Motor Museum here in Adelaide.

I have tried to imagine the hopes, stress and frustration that Donald, Gordon and Harold must have gone through with the dream of world records and comercial success from the late 1950s right through the planning, building, adventures, excitement, delays, rain, wind, remote distances and lack of communications technology they all faced right through to the eventual demise and disintergration of all three men by the end of 1964.

Harold was so angry at the end of the Zeta project that he never spoke to anyone about the story again

It is ironic that even though Donald is the only man to have ever achieved both the world land and water speed records in the same year he is sadly now only remembered for his fatal crash in 1967.

It is a tragedy that Gordon, Harold and the teams of incredible workers and supporters of the Bluebird project now only rate as nobodies in the history books as I am sure that they all worked and tried thier hearts out at their own expense for the benefit of English National pride.

I know of no other Microcar in History that even goes close to the achievements of my little Zeta runabout, but I surley appreciate the incredible efforts of those men and women who tried so hard to make their dreams come true and left us their legacy.

Thanks again and good luck for all you Microcar drivers and restorers wherever you are. Robin Heath





Lastly I have been told that Gordon Bedson and Harold Lightburn had a massive dissagreement about cost cutting and and Gordon left Lightburns to make aircraft which was his

Big Al

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2011, 08:27:51 AM »
There is a book in the tale of Frisky/Bedson/Lightburn and the extended engineering concerns and products touched on. It reflects the various problems, overcapacity and management of the whole of British manufacturing including the relationships with a then commonwealth country while telling the story of just a few ideas, people and products. A vast number of those involved in manufacturing and engineering, like my father, left angry, disappointed and let down by its failure to support itself and the lack of political will to help and it is a historic example of why we are now where we are with a diminished ability to manufacture even the best ideas of our clever entrepreneurs and engineers. My father accepted the fate and spent his last working years managing the decommissioning of nuclear installations using robots. The very installations he helped to build without computers but with teams of very clever well educated people. Likewise he and his chum Ted, Chief Engineer on Concord, lived long enough for that to be wrongly carpeted and consigned to the dustbin to be replaced by what? Britain had the quality ideas to create and construct but the will to allow them to lead the world was denied them and we have been going backwards ever since.
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zetasports

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 01:42:53 PM »
Very good points Al, and I agree with you too, as my father was a Mechanical Engineer from Woods of Colchester until we emigrated to Adelaide when I was 6 years old. And I have seen the same dismantling, of technical skills in this country also.
 
I suppose we are just old fashioned by modern standards, and while I drive a Prius Taxi for work, I would rather drive my old 1990 ford Capri sports car.

We collected the Zeta runabout today from Peter Burnard and his dear wife Nancy, a sad and happy day for us all.

Sad for the end of thirty eight years ownership for Peter and 50,000 miles of daily commuting from his home to work,
Happy for us all to be sure of the future for this special microcar.

Peter was working as an Electronic Engineer at Weapons Research Establishment when I joined as a 19 year old Engineering trainee.

I owned a TR2 Triumph at that time and used to admire the little Zeta as Peter drove to and from work each day.

It is very strange to me how 34 years later, after passing on my Zeta Sports last year, that I now own this very same vehicle.

Stranger still to learn that this is one of the 3 Ampol Trial cars.

If you check my youtube videos, (robinheath1) you will see that the car is complete and original.

Peter has taken exceptional care of this car and we hope that with just a battery and some fuel the car will fire up and run tomorrow.

The brakes need to be overhauled as you would expect and a good clean and scrub up of course,

I am very thankful and happy to be able to look after this particular Zeta car for the next few years, especially as she is 50 years old in 2013.

I admire the simple construction and the room in the car is remarkable, not like a modern car at all.

The people who designed and made microcars were very clever indeed as were the people who made Bluebird.

It is sad that they are gone, but what a legacy they have left behind!

Have a nice weekend, how is your weather now? Fine and warm I hope.

I trust you are busy in the workshop and having fun with your cars and friends.

Bye for now and I will let you know how we go tomorrow. Robin

   


marcus

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2011, 04:25:32 PM »
An old friend of mine is Chief Development Engineer at London Taxis International. Sad to relate that the famous London Taxis which for several years, together with Morgans, have been the last British-owned company/British cars to stay in general production.

The Taxi now has body, chassis and interior appointments made to a high standard in China, Engines come from Italy, after endless problems with the Ford ones, and gearboxes from USA. About 3-4 years ago the holding company, British Manganese Bronze was forced to buy half of the company from a US company which had botched production to an astonishing degree, but soon afterwards was forced to outsource most of the vehicle from China, especially once LDF Vans closed down, and with it the last available galvanising tank in UK (galvanising being a licence requirement).

The axles are British made, so it is not totally foreign, but sad that such a famous British icon is now mostly foreign.
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

john Meadows

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2011, 07:25:47 PM »
ZetaSports / Robin Heath, let me put you straight,

I did not tell Shane Bucannan that " one of the frisky cars that Gordon was working on was stolen from Frisky when Gordon left England in 1959,"

which I am sure Shane will confirm.

Stick to facts Robin, don't drag me into your fantasies

John Meadows

zetasports

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2011, 02:23:39 AM »
Hello John, and thanks for your comments.

I am in contact with Shane on a regular basis and If I can quote from your letter to Shane of 28 November when you said with relation to the Frisky Sprint,

"However in early 1959 the Sprint moulds and other components disappeared from the "back room" at Meadows.
 So I am confident that they were taken to Lightburn by Gordon B.
 It is also possible that the extra wide chassis built to take the larger Royal Enfield engine also found its way over with it,"

What did you mean by that statement?

Shane and I thought that you were saying that the moulds were taken without approval, along with an extra wide chassis.

We are working with the National Motor Museum here in Adelaide to write the history of the Lightburn Company and these anecdotes are very important to us.

Please understand that Harold Lightburn was a serious engineer and business man and he was working with and for Donald Campbell by manufacturing these cars.

What we are trying to establish is the time sequence of events and relationships that occurred between Donald Campbell, Gordon Bedson and Harold Lightburn.

Your story suggests that there was some foul play on the part of either Gordon Bedson or someone else, and this is the history that I was told over thirty years ago too.

We are also interested in how 50 FMR engines with different gearing to the Tiger cars were sold to Harold
Were they ordered that way or were they left over from some other project?

Personally, I have always wondered how much money was paid to whom and what was Harold Lightburn told by Donald Campbell, Gordon Bedson and others involved in the Zeta Sports part of what was up until then, a successful microcar development project.

Having just collected my new Zeta Ampol Trial car as you will see on youtube, I am very impressed at the clever construction and simplicity of the vehicle, not to mention that this car has covered over 60,000 miles in the hands of my friend and defence Engineer Peter Burnard.

Not bad for a "Lemon"

Yesterday, the car started up without any more effort than a new set of spark plugs and a some fuel, absolutely remarkable in my opinion, as I have never seen an engine do that after ten years storage in a garage.

This is one of those projects which is really  about social history and I am trying to work out who approached who and how much money was paid to who and for what.

Just because my car was considered a joke by the other car manufacturers, and the media of the day, I have to respect and admire the engineering skill and efforts of these people and the legacy they have left behind.

The Frisky also is a remarkable vehicle as were all of the microcars of that time.

I am sorry if Shane and I misunderstood your statement from your letter to him, and so can you please tell us what you believe really happened with the Zeta Sports, Gordon Bedson and the Frisky car company.

How much did Harold Lightburn pay to Frisky cars at the time and why did the company change hands twice after his contract had been signed?

We are keen to get to the bottom of this story as it has a great deal of importance with the 50 years anniversary of the World record attempts by Donald Campbell just approaching.

Gavin Farmer is in England as we speak researching his latest book and he is writing the official Lightburn history for the National Motor Museum so now is the right time to get the story right as I am sure you will agree.

Clearly you and Kieth are critical as the historians from Frisky point of view and we will be talking to people here in Australia about their recollections of the Zeta project as well as the people who were involved in the Bluebird and Donald Campbell’s involvement in all of this as we have photos and films of him with Zeta cars

I assure you I am not creating a "Fantasy"  but I am trying to accurately establish the history based on what people like yourself tell me.

Many thanks for all your efforts and comments and I look forward to hearing more from  you in the future.

I am off to work on the brakes for the Zeta now to have her running for the Rock and Roll Car Rally this Sunday where we will try to drive my Zeta from Adelaide  about 30 Miles up into the National Motor Museum at Birdwood for her first 50 Anniversary appearance.


Good day and all the best of British as my dad used to say, Robin

shaneb1001

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2011, 12:26:37 PM »
Hello all
My apologizes to John Meadows. The letter in question refers to the Frisky Sprint mold going missing from the backroom of Meadows
along with an extra wide chassis.  This information was shared with zetasports in good faith and not to have theories added to it.
Enough damage has been done with theories and 30 second youtube videos plastered allover the internet.
I am not nor will ever be in touch with the National Motor Museum.
I do not think that Sir Donald Campbell had anything to do with the Lightburn Zeta but was talked into using them in 64 by Lightburn.
After all what better free advertising than to supply a few Zetas and have them at the world land speed attempt.
I bought the Zeta Sport prototype to restore it to it,s original condition. gather all the CORRECT facts and information and Put in a  concours c,elegance show in Sydney Australia.
Than you
Shane Buchanan

 

john Meadows

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2011, 09:24:31 PM »
Robin
My comments, which you now quote accurately, mean exactly what they say….

"However in early 1959 the Sprint moulds and other components disappeared from the "back room" at Meadows. So I am confident that they were taken to Lightburn by Gordon B.  It is also possible that the extra wide chassis built to take the larger Royal Enfield engine also found its way over with it,"

I did not say or mean …

" one of the frisky cars that Gordon was working on was stolen from Frisky when Gordon left England in 1959,"

A quote you attributed to me earlier on in this thread with all the innuendo that it implies.

Quote me by all means but please keep it accurate, in context and free of your own personal interpretation. If and when more information comes to hand I will be happy to share it, however at the moment that is all I know.  I prefer to work with facts rather than speculation which is a double edged sword .

John Meadows


zetasports

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Re: Lightburn Zeta Ampol trial rally car discovered in Adelaide trip
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2011, 05:14:52 AM »
Saldy the brakes gave trouble so I did not make more than 5 miles !! damm I better overhaul the brakes before the next rally and in the meantime take a look at robinheath1 on youtube for the day by day story of my Zeta Adventure.