Author Topic: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car  (Read 24598 times)

David Dale

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Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« on: February 05, 2015, 07:41:45 PM »
Hi, this is my first post, so I hope I get everything right when attaching the photos

I have some pictures of a prototype bubble car that may not be on the RumCars register. As my late father Jack Dale was involved in the team that made the car I would dearly love to trace it, if it still exists?  It would be great to see further pictures of it, or see it in the flesh.

The car is a Swift and was built by Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd.  I think the designer would have been my father's boss John Ernest Coxon.

From the pictures it appears to be powered by a twin cylinder 2-stroke Villiers engine (250cc ?) and has a central driving position, with two rear set passenger seats.  The car has gull wing doors and is of a GRP monocoque construction, with the steering and front suspension in one assembly and the rear suspension and power unit in another.

I think the car was built in the late 1950s and did not go into production due to the launch of the Mini and the cost of getting a glass manufacturer to tool up for producing the windows.  The prototype had Perspex windows and headlamp cowls.

There was a rumour that the prototype went to America, but I cannot be sure of that.

Please could someone let me know if the car is already on your register?

If it is not on the register, should it be put onto the register?   (I have no more details than the photos you see here and those I have shared with you from my memory).

Has anyone seen this car, or photos different from mine?

Does anyone know whether it still exists and its whereabouts?

Thanks for reading this and I look forward to your responses.

Regards

David Dale









« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 06:21:25 PM by David Dale »

richard

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 08:22:51 PM »
really great , would love to know more
outside of a dog a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read .Groucho Marx 1895-1977

Bob Purton

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2015, 08:24:05 PM »
Its a new one on me! I wonder if Jean has any knowledge of it?
Regarding putting it on the register, the register is to record actual surviving cars so at this stage it would not be appropriate but let hope it turns up somewhere.
Thanks very much for posting. Most interesting.

marcus

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2015, 08:31:07 PM »
A new one on me too, but what what a great looking little car. I cannot provide any help, but hope more comes to light, and I am sure others here would do too.

Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

David Dale

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2015, 03:13:07 PM »
Thank you all for taking interest in my first post on this forum and to contributing to it.

The main aims of my post were:

•   To share this car with you all
•   Perhaps discover its existence, or fate
•   To discuss the virtues of its looks and design

However, the discussion seems to have wandered off into whether it should be included in the register (no it does not meet the criteria), the paper archive (maybe one day, but not now for the prints are all I have), or a digital archive (I certainly hope so and the more the merrier! Thanks Barry for adding it to yours!).

Please can we get back to these main aims of my post and perhaps start another thread for discussing registers and archives?

To me the Swift looks to be a very attractive car and by virtue of the wheel placement, suspension and seating arrangements, should have been very good in the handling department.

Thanks Malc Dudley for the comment about the rear suspension looking similar to the Lightburn Zeta.  That is most interesting.

AndyL, I am sorry I do not know why it has a De Dion rear suspension at the back.

I am not aware of what parts of the car my father Jack worked on.  He worked for Southern Aircraft throughout WW2 and stayed with them to the early 1960s.  I am not sure if he worked there pre war.  He was a skilled sheet metal worker and was also a good welder and fabricator.  I attach a few pictures of a swinging arm rear suspension conversion that he designed for his 500 Ariel Red Hunter and made as a “homework job” at Southern Aircraft.  I would argue that the rear suspension design of the car has some similarities with my Father’s Ariel, which was made in the early 1950s and predates the car project.  But whether my Father was responsible for the rear sub-frame on the car is pure speculation.

My Father must have had a good working relationship with his boss John Coxon, for on occasions Mr Coxon would take him on flights, or should that be frights, in his aeroplane and these would often involve acrobatic stunts..........

I have also attached a faint photocopy of the side view photograph and it has been hand painted in light blue and what with this, and the appearance of the car in the black and white photographs, I wonder whether this prototype car was painted light metallic blue in colour.  What do you think?

I would welcome as much advice as you can give me into researching the whereabouts, or fate of this car.

Thanks again and regards

David

PS I hope the bike pictures are not breaking any forum rules.






Bob Purton

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2015, 03:16:31 PM »
Hi all. As this thread wandered off onto another subject I have been asked to split the thread. Any comments or information regarding the Swift please post here. More on the register or archive see new subject, Register and archive. Purpose and future.
Thanks.  Bob

richard

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2015, 03:44:58 PM »
surely i cant be the only one spotting a similarity with the 1957 Meadows Bug - if so John Meadows at the Frisky Register  is your man I certainly see a strong resemblance   . This could actually be a different body on the same chassis ?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 03:51:54 PM by richard »
outside of a dog a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read .Groucho Marx 1895-1977

David Dale

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2015, 04:19:27 PM »
surely i cant be the only one spotting a similarity with the 1957 Meadows Bug - if so John Meadows at the Frisky Register  is your man I certainly see a strong resemblance   . This could actually be a different body on the same chassis ?

I agree that there is a resemblance, but I think the Swift has a larger footprint.

richard

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2015, 04:41:31 PM »
Maybe but these cars are only realised for the miniatures they are when you put a driver in them , how large does the number plate on the SWIFT appear ? and if you moved the gull wing doors aft on the second car and added a bit of body at the front and rear you are getting there . The both cars have a narrower rear track and if the front and rear chassis are seperate the car could have been extended or shortened , not that i am sure it has been . My money is on it being the same basic car , I am sure thats possible
outside of a dog a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read .Groucho Marx 1895-1977

David Dale

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2015, 04:50:30 PM »
Maybe but these cars are only realised for the miniatures they are when you put a driver in them , how large does the number plate on the SWIFT appear ? and if you moved the gull wing doors aft on the second car and added a bit of body at the front and rear you are getting there . The both cars have a narrower rear track and if the front and rear chassis are seperate the car could have been extended or shortened , not that i am sure it has been . My money is on it being the same basic car , I am sure thats possible

I agree that the design of the front and rear sub assemblies of the Swift does lend itself to being incorporated into bodies of different length.  Do you know when the Meadows Bug was designed and built?  It appear to me the the Swift was a little too late on the scene.  Had it been designed earlier it may have had a future.

richard

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marcus

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2015, 04:55:25 PM »
There is definitely a strong resemblance, but it is hard to judge relative size without knowing what size wheels each car used.  However the Swift has been designed as a staggered 3 seater and does seem to be longer and perhaps wider than the Bug. Furthermore, it is not unusual of different cars designed to similar requirements and budgets ending up looking similar. I prefer the Swift's styling, but notice that there is quite a difference between the height of the windscreen and of the side windows, looks like a driver might have to be tallish to see out of the windscreen and shortish to see out of the side windows!

It is a fascinating car, and hope more information comes to light, and it would be fantastic if it has survived.
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

David Dale

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2015, 04:57:26 PM »

I have made a preliminary sweep of the topic and come up with no really good leads. Very tenuous is we are back into aircraft. Here the company was a CRO. Bedson flirted with many aircraft companies but seemed unsettled in employment. Someone commented on the Zeta look of the suspension on the Swift. Was this Bedson throwing the dice to get his existing work into use through friend, or contact, at Southern Aircraft? Did he have dealings with Mr Cuxon?

Thanks Big Al  :)  I would have no idea if Bedson had any contact with Southern Aircraft, or Mr Coxon.

David Dale

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2015, 05:09:01 PM »
I rather like this Swift. It would seem it was to late into the field. Looks a bit Villiers 3Tish to me, but could be a 250cc. Not quite sure I am understanding the rear drive. Is there a diff? Its Brutsch meets Heinkel on steroids.

So do I Big Al !! Don't know about a differential. I am sure they would have known of the need for one, given the backgrounds of the people concerned. During the war Southern Aircraft also serviced and repaired military vehicles.

I would like to think it is a 3T, whereas I am sure my Dad would have liked to see a V twin Vincent engine in it.......  ;D

Bob Purton

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Re: Southern Aircraft (Gatwick) Ltd - Swift 4 Wheel Bubble Car
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2015, 05:17:52 PM »
Ideally all four wheelers should have a diff  but this was the period where to save money cars with narrow tracks were being produced without one. The tyres just scuffed around corners.