The Lobster Cometh

Butch at the wheel of the "Westland Aristocrat"

Butch at the wheel of the Westland Aristocrat

The car had been seen off and on from 1977 to 1981 in various open sheds or fully exposed to the weather”  So wrote Dick Sanders in the opening remarks of his monograph on the Westland Aristocrat.

This is certainly one of the more esoteric automobiles to have passed thru our doors for  some fettling.  The chassis plate identifies it as “W2″, which suggests that somewhere, at sometime there may have been a “W1″.  Was it also red, we might wonder ?  Indeed, Dick has heard there may even have been three.

Dick Sanders fires up the Aristocrat

Dick Sanders fires up the Aristocrat

Dick’s tale begins around 1964 when the car, wearing Vermont registration number E 1495 was on the lot of Burlington, Vermont car dealer Carpenter & Mayforth, who may have also been agents for Saab, Citroen and even Borgward !  The visual evidence indicates they were also a Ford dealer, as well as maintaining an interesting and eclectic inventory of used, mostly british sports cars.  Where are they now, one wonders ?

brief roadtest

A brief road test

The Aristocrat has a tubular frame and uses Morris Minor “A” series running gear.  It appears to have a Burman steering gear which is quite reluctant to turn.  The engine cooling, while hardly straighforward, seems adequate, but the cable routing for the clutch has the appearance of having been very much a last minute lash up.  Not much was known of it’s early history, apart from its presence at the Westland Motor Co. factory  having been noted by J.E. Smith, a consulting engineer in early 1958.

Butch took it for a low speed road test during which  even O.J. Simpson would have had time for a nap.

Funny how things work out sometimes.  Not long after Dick had forwarded his Westlands Aristocrat history to me, our friend Larry Perry stopped in, took a look at it and blurted out, “I know that car, that’s the Lobster.  Vance Smith had it parked out front at Tucker Motors in Marblehead back in 1959 when it was new !  Nobody wanted to buy it, and the mechanics called it the lobster because of the red paint“.

Tucker Motors never managed to move the car as a retail sale, apparently, and Larry simply noted that one day it wasn’t there anymore.  However, he was eager to see it again, and with an unusual shape like that, who wouldn’t be ?  And so more than 50 years on, a reunion of sorts took place here at Sports Car Services on a sunny and pleasant fall morning earlier this week.

Larry reminisces to Dick about the lobster

Larry Perry reminisces to Dick about the "Lobster"

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