Tiger Kitten

Tiger Kitten I, II, III & IV

The Tiger Kitten was the very first 500 to make its competitive debut, together with the Strang. The series of Tiger Kitten cars were created and run by Clive Lones, a very successful racer of Morgan 3-wheelers before the War. The putative new category appealed to Clive, and at Prescott on the 19th May 1946 he debuted the bright red Tiger Kitten.

This first chassis was a fairly basic design, utilising a 1935 Austin Seven van chassis, flipped to lower the centre of gravity, and with the Seven suspension modified to suit. A rather tired JAP 1936 TT engine was installed at the front As a result, the car was never going to be a serious match to the better power-to-weight of the Strang, nor the Cooper prototype which John Cooper and Eric Brandon introduced later that season. So for 1947 a heavily revised car was produced. This car still used an Austin 7 chassis, still reversed, but adopted a five-stud JAP motor hung far over the front axle (in a Morgan style), and Morgan-inspired sliding pillar front suspension. Visually, this car featured a much smaller engine cover which over the next three years got smaller, before being ditched entirely. The original car reappeared at Prescott in July 1947, in the hands of L.G. Collins, renamed "Lion Cub".

Tiger Kitten in its original form at Prescott in '46.

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Clive Lones at Shelsley Walsh, 12th June 1948.





Clive at Prescott May 1949, courtesy Michael Aikey.

With his extensive pre-war experience with JAP motors, Lones was able to deliver a remarkable amount of power, and on his day he could comfortably beat all comers on the hills and sprint courses. These were his favoured disciplines, although he would make occasional forays onto the circuits, with reasonable success. In May 1948, Tiger Kitten became the first 500 to climb Prescott in under 50 seconds. Clive sometimes fitted his "big engine", a JAP twin in order to compete in the 1 litre class, the car being referred to as Tiger Cat on such occasions..

The Lones family fettling at Prescott

The family made the front cover of Autosport, January 1951.

Tiger Kitten II, III & IV

Late in 1949, Lones purchased the Iota P1 prototype. He installed his trusty JAP engine, repainted it in his favoured red, and Tiger Kitten II was born. Lones would compete in this car through 1950 and 1951 to great effect, breaking his own Prescott record in September '51 at 45.66 seconds.

For 1953 he was purchased Don Truman's Cooper Mk VI which raced as Tiger Kitten III. Lones would continue to compete for another thirty years or so. At some point in 1953 or '54 it seems Clive may have acquired the Leston Special to become Tiger Kitten IV

Tiger Kitten Mk 1b was sold to MGH Cadbury in 1950, and made occasional hillclimb appearances. The fate of the Iota and Cooper are not currently known.


Clive setting a new record at Prescott in Tiger Kitten II

There is also the odd curiosity of “Tiger Cub” (not related to the South African Tiger Cub). At the Summer Prescott Meeting on the 18th July 1948,  L.G. Collins made his only recorded appearance in a car so named. Austen May states that the “Austin Seven chassis Tiger Cub bore the Clive Lones stamp,” So was this the original Tiger Kitten, and why was it not called Lion Cub as it had been in '47?