Ron Learnan was a chemical engineer from New Zealand. On graduation he moved to Britain. In 1953 he acquired a Cooper Mk IV, beginning racing at the tail end of the year. Plans for a full season in 1954 were curtailed when he destroyed the car in the Spring. Learnan rebuilt the car as the RGR Special, helped by George Henrotte and Roy Jaques, finally making its debut at the August Bank Holiday meeting at Brands Hatch. With a JAP engine, results were limited, with a best of 4th in a JAP race, Brands Hatch 29th May 1955.
Learnan's UK racing career ended in 1955. But by 1958 he was back in New Zealand with the RGR. Now apparently Norton-powered, he attempted to qualify for the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore.
The RGR was acquired in 1976 by the doyen of New Zealand 500s, the late Max Fisher. It had by that time been severely butchered to accommodate a 1.5 litre engine and it took Max some time to restore it to some sort of ‘500’ specification. After fitting a Triumph engine he had ‘a lot of fun with it’.
Ron refits the detachable body. Photo courtesy Ron Learnan
Our thanks to Rob Young, Stuart Buchanan, Max Fisher and Richard Page