Clive Lones

Clive Lones

Clive Lones, from Smethwick and later St Mellons in Wales, stands as one of the true pioneers of 500cc racing. At Prescott in May 1946, along with Colin Strang, Lones made the very first competitive appearance of a 500 cc racing car. Clive, however was already a major name in motor racing.

Born in 1895 in Smethwick, Clive was hooked at the age of fourteen when his father gave him  a a 300cc Griffon motorcycle and began his competitive career soon after the Great War. Around 1920, he purchased a pre-war Morgan (apparently to impress the young lady who was to become his wife, as well as loyal mechanic and passenger), soon trading it in for a 1922 Morgan-Blackburne. He became a major player in the Morgan scene, winning the Light Car Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1928 and 1930.

Fettling the Cat

CL 01.jpg (25323 bytes)In 1928, Clive swapped to the JAP engine stable. He was to set 37 World and Class records at Brooklands with a range of engine sizes. However, the Morgan three-wheelers were soon being banned from car races, and were now outclassed in motorcycle races by the dedicated sidecar units. So Clive converted his 1929 Morgan JAP Aero into a 4-wheel machine, by the simple expedient of bolting a GN axle to the back. This car was known as “Tiger Cat”, and from 1936 until the war, was rather handy on the hills.


Lones with his Blackburne-engined Morgan Aero.

Tiger Cat, in 4 wheel form, at Prescott, 1926,

CL 02.jpg (22418 bytes)After the War, Clive was keen to get back in the saddle, and the new 500cc class looked ideal. Though already the wrong side of fifty, he quickly built a new car, which was appropriately christened Tiger Kitten. Clive spent 1946 playing second fiddle to Colin Strang and it was clear that the the new Coopers would be quicker, once they had achieved some reliability, so for 1947 Clive re-developed it Fitted with a rather special JAP motor, based on his extensive experience with the motors, the car was somewhat quicker.

From '47 through to the end of '49, he competed almost exclusively on the hills with this car, sometimes setting FTD and nearly always in the top three. In May 1948, Clive became the first 500 to climb the Prescott hill in under 50 seconds (achieving 49.98s). This was a remarkable performance, given that the outright record stood at 45.67s, held by Bob Gerard’s ERA.

Prescott 1949

Mr and Mrs Lones fettle at Prescott

Towards the end of 1949, he purchased the first Iota P1 production car. The car, in Clive’s traditional bright red, became known as Tiger Kitten II and Clive gave it a debut at Weston in October. He also moved his business from South Wales to Bournemouth over the winter. He still kept largely to the hills but took in a couple of circuit races during 1950, both at Castle Combe. 1951 continued in a similar vein, predominantly Prescott, where he took 1.37 seconds off his own hill record in September, and Shelsley Walsh but he took in a four circuit races, two at Castle Combe, where Clive won in May and two unsuccessful outings to Silverstone for the Grand Prix and Commander Yorke meetings.

Clive Lones works on car 1955.jpg (63571 bytes)Clive continued with the Iota Tiger Kitten for '52 but focused very much on the circuits. It would prove a frustrating year, A JAP powered Iota, standing little chance against the Cooper Mk VIs and Kiefts with Norton power. Worse still, on his only outing on the hills, he crashed in practice and could not even defend his Prescott record. Clive tried a Kieft at the Grand Prix in July but even this involved a coming together with Alan Rippon and ended in last bar one.

For 1953, Clive finally surrendered to the Cooper onslaught, and purchased purchased Don Truman's Cooper Mk VI which raced as Tiger Kitten III, though still with only JAP power, he struggled to make an impression against the Nortons and often suffered unreliability as a result. It appears that soon after (nearing sixty years of age), he retired from racing, though he did finally manage a finish in the 100 mile Commander Yorke in September 1956 and continued to hillclimb for another thirty or so years.

Right, working on, what we think is Tiger Kitten IV sometime during 1955. The coil front and swing axle rear suspension suggest a Martin and this may in fact be the Leston Special.

Some results for Clive:

Prescott 19th May 1946, 2nd

Shelsley Walsh 2nd June 1946, 2nd

Prescott 27/28th July 1946, 2nd

Val des Terres August 1946, 1st

Brighton Speed Trials 1st September 1946 (1 litre class) 2nd

Prescott 22nd September 1946, DNF


Prescott 11th May 1947, 2nd

Prescott 20th July 1947, 3rd

Poole Open Speed Trials 6th September 1947, (up to 500cc) 2nd, (up to 750cc) 2nd

Prescott Hill 14th September 1947 International Meeting, 3rd

Shelsley Walsh 27th September 1947, 4th


Prescott Hill 9th May 1948, 1st

Shelsley Walsh 12th June 1948, 3rd

Prescott Hill 13th June 1948 (750cc Class) 2nd

Bouley Bay 15th July 1948, 2nd

Brighton Speed Trials 4th September 1948, DNF

Prescott Hill 12th September 1948, 4th

Shelsley Walsh 25th September 1948, 3rd

Weston Super Mare 9th October 1948 Speed Trials, 2nd


Prescott Hill 22nd May 1949, 2nd

Shelsley Walsh 11th June 1949, 3rd

Prescott Hill 12th June 1949, 4th

Prescott Hill 11th September 1949, 8th

Weston Super Mare 8th October 1949, 4th


Shelsley Walsh 22nd February 1950, 2nd

Gosport 30th April 1950, 3rd

Prescott Hill 20th May 1950, 1st

Shelsley Walsh 10th June 1950, 3rd

Prescott Hill 11th June 1950 (up to 750cc class), 2nd

Castle Combe 8th July 1950, 1st

Prescott Hill 16th July 1950, 2nd

Prescott Hill 10th September 1950, 1st

Shelsley Walsh 23rd September 1950, 2nd

Castle Combe 7th October 1950, 2nd in heat, 4th in final


Castle Combe 31st March 1951, 3rd in heat, 5th in final

Silverstone 5th May 1951 Daily Express International Trophy, 3rd

Castle Combe 12th May 1951, 1st

Prescott 19th May 1951, 4th

Shelsley Walsh 23rd June 1951, 1st

Prescott 24th June 1951 (750cc Class), 1st

Silverstone 14th July 1951 Grand Prix, DNF

Silverstone 18th August 1951 Commander Yorke Trophy, DNF

Prescott 9th September 1951, 1st

Shelsley Walsh 22nd September 1951, 2nd


Caste Combe 3rd May 1952, 2nd

Silverstone 10th May 1952 International Trophy, 15th

Silverstone 14th June 1952, 3rd in heat

Silverstone 19th July 1952 British Grand Prix, 18th (Kieft)

Prescott Hill 27th July 1952, DNF crash

Silverstone 23rd August 1952 Commander Yorke Trophy, 12th in heat


Silverstone 9th May 1953 International Trophy Meeting, 17th

Prescott 17th May 1953, 3rd

Silverstone 18th July 1953 British Grand Prix, DNF

Thruxton 3rd August 1953, DNF

Silverstone 22nd August 1953 Commander Yorke Trophy, DNF
Shelsley Walsh 29th August 1953, 3rd
Silverstone 5th September 1953 SUNBAC,. DNF in heat

Prescott 20th September 1953, 4th

Castle Combe 3rd October 1953, 9th in heat


Castle Combe 3rd April 1954, DNF in heat

Prescott 9th May 1954, 4th

Silverstone 15th May 1954 Daily Express Meeting, DNF

Great Auclum 7th August 1954, 1st

Shelsley Walsh August 1954, 4th


Silverstone 7th May 1955 Daily Express International 50 Mile Race, DNF

Prescott 14th May 1955, DNF

Shelsley Walsh 19th June 1955, 3rd

Bouley Bay 21st July 1955, 4th

Shelsley Walsh 28th August 1955 Golden Jubilee, 4th

Silverstone 17th September 1955 Commander Yorke Trophy, 6th in heat, DNF in 100 mile final

Castle Combe 1st October 1955 Avon Trophy, DNF


Silverstone 29th September 1956 Commander Yorke Trophy, 5th in pump fuelled class


Clive tells his own story in Iota, May 1947