The Emery father and sons George,
Paul Emery, Paul being one of only two men to
make cars which complied with each of the first four World Championship
formulae, 1950 to 1965, the other being Enzo Ferrari. They
had been building specials for many years prior to the war, their
first being a classic GN based car and it was inevitable that they would
take an interest in the new 500s.
Although usually credited to Paul, the idea for the 500 actually came from
his father George and brother Peter. Immediately post-War they had built a
Lagonda-engined 1100cc Special at Georgeís Surrey home near Farnborough (the
first Emeryson company having been wound up by this time, and with George
working at the Vehicle Research Establishment, work proceeded only on the
Paul was involved in this project, but ran his own motor repair business out
of Twickenham. He and his father had a somewhat fractious business
relationship stemming from conflicts between George and Peterís classical
engineering educations and Paulís much more intuitive approach. Whilst Paul
was in Ireland rebuilding the 1100 as the Emeryson-Duesenberg Formula 1 car
for Bobby Baird, George and Peter were eyeing the burgeoning 500 scene.
Paul Emery at the limit,
showing the "natural differential"!
their experience of the layout, they saw that front wheel drive could offer
both low weight and better directional stability. Still working solely at
the weekends, the prototype was built up over the course of a year or so. It
used a fairly simple ladder frame chassis, with Standard 8 combined
damper-wishbones and wire wheels on BSA 3-wheeler hubs. Peter came up with
the idea of using bungee cord instead of steel for the springing medium (for
weight and cost reasons) Ė probably the first 500 to run this. At the front,
a space dictated a single. 8Ē hub brake and no differential. Paul would
later describe the carís propensity for lifting the inside front wheel as
Returning from Ireland, Paul was rather impressed with the project, and
agreed to act as driver. His first action was to offer a JAP 500 Twin to
replace the old nail single that had been used for basic testing. Secondly,
recognising that work was progressing too slowly, he asked that the project
be transferred to his Twickenham site where he and Ted Limpus would finish
up. All around, half an eye was on moving to a production run.
Peter duly debuted the car at Goodwood, 10th April 1950. It retired from
that race, but a week later it came second in the first ever car race at
Brands Hatch (to Don Parkerís
CFS in the race for Amateur-built cars). At the
British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone, the car impressed on handling
(although lacking in horsepower). Unfortunately, Paul asked too much of the
front brake and crashed through the hay bales and rolling. The Twin
eventually detonated itself, and was replaced first with a Norton, then a
JAP single. Later in the year, Frank Kennington also drove the car. Although
shaded by Alf Bottomsí prototype
JBS, the Emeryson showed very well against the
hordes of Coopers with a number of good placings.
For 1951, a series of production cars were laid down. It is believed that
six or seven were made, and ordered by Ken Watkins, Peter Mould,
Harold Daniell, Ian Pelling, Paul Pycroft
and Don Williams. Paul seems to have
stuck with the prototype.
Paul on the grid at Goodwood, 1950.
The task of
building these cars was handed to John Rowley of Walsall. Incidentally, John
employed a friend to work on the cars, by the name of Ken Miles. Whilst he
enjoyed the work, Ken struggled under the strain of 100-hour weeks and his
health suffered. At the end of the year, he took a job with Gough Industries
in California, where he would find considerable fame as a racing driver.
Also in 1951, the Emeryson family had another of their fallings out, this
time over a Mk II car. Peter, now demobbed and working as an engineer,
recognised the threat posed by the swing axle Kieft. He prepared drawings
for a new car, similar in layout to the Mk I, but with a space frame chassis
and swing axle rear end. Peter rolled up at Paulís works to present his
proposal, offering only the caveat that Paul would have to build the entire
car, not just cherry pick bits. It was a bit of a surprise that not only did
Paul reject his swing axle concept, he revealed that he already had a Mk II
Paul dicing at Brands April 1951.
car featured coil springs at the front and a de Dion rear end and whilst it
cured the wheel lifting of the earlier cars, Peter remains convinced that it
was overweight and failed to exploit the potential of front wheel drive in
category where it should be most beneficial. Paul debuted his Mk II at
Brands Hatch, 21st October. It was this chassis that also produced the
final, stunning version of the Emeryson body, as now demonstrated by Marek
Remarkably, it seems that no production versions of this car were built.
Paul seems to have continued using this car through until 1953, and may have
sold it to Peter Jopp. Harold Daniellís car
may have been upgraded to similar specification, but it is not known whether
any of the other chassis were modified.
The older cars were now starting to show their age and were not quite
capable of beating the latest generation of cars such as the Parker-improved
Kiefts, Staride and Coopers Mk VI & VII. However, they were still good
enough for impressive club-level racing and as first cars for new racers.
Cyril Hale, Reg Barrett,
James Caddey, Pat
Fergusson and Dick Hett would keep the
Emeryson name visible for several more years with a reasonable amount of
success. It is believed that five of these survive.
James Caddey in the paddock 1954.
Dick Hett at Paddock Hill Bend,
Brands Hatch in July 1955, shortly before his off.
Paul was now looking towards Formula II, and in 1953 debuted the 2 litre
Emeryson-Alta (Peter Jopp and Alan Brown would also drive the car, once it
received an Aston Martin engine). He ran this car until 1955.
Peter, meanwhile, had headed in the other direction. After building a 750
Formula car, he was struck by the new 250cc Formula. He pulled out the
drawings for his version of the Mk II and refined them to suit a Velocette
250 engine. Unsurprisingly, the result bore the hallmarks of an Emeryson 500
but scaled down to a size comparable with the later Coopers. The car was
very successful, winning the Formula 250 championship in 1959 and 1960, and
on mixed grids it could surprise several 500s with both its power-to-weight
and cornering. It somewhat proved his points from 1951 and leaves one
wondering what if his design had prevailed. Only one of these chassis was
built, and it survives in the USA.
Paul had driven the 250 car, and around 1959 was back in contact with Peter.
American Robert Dahnken (who had already purchased an Emeryson 500) had been
in contact with Paul about commissioning a new car (500cc racing was still
strong on both coasts of the USA). Paul convinced him that Formula Junior
was the future, then convinced Peter to re-jig his Mk II concept to suit a
Ford 105E motor.
Whilst the Emeryson Elfin car was completed and shipped to Robert Dahnken,
and a Mk II was under construction, there had been a series of problems
between the brothers, relating to money and Paulís inability to follow Peter
carefully calculated designs Ė nullifying all the suspension geometry and
stress analysis. This led to a final falling out between the two. Peter
walked away and became a chassis design engineer for Ford. Paul eventually
sold Emeryson Cars in 1961 after building a series of rear-engined Juniors
and Formula 1 cars (in 1962 the latter gained BRM V8s and were re-branded
Sciroccos). At the end of 1962 he left, forming Paul Emery Cars,
specialising in Hillman Imp tuning and producing the Imp-based Emery GT.
Peter Jopp at Brands Hatch in 1954, apparently in the '52 prototype
Marek Reichman's Emeryson at the 2002 Revival Meeting.
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