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Friary Motors

Ford Anglia 105E Estate Conversion - Friary Motors Ltd - Story

An Employee's Short Story
from site visitor John Chaplin

Friary Anglia Estate

I worked for "Friary Motors" from Late Spring 1959 until November 1961, immediately after leaving school. I initially joined as Assistant Storeman whilst the Company was producing Vauxhall PA Estates. Following a fire at the factory immediately after the Motor Show of that year, I became Storeman, engaged on issuing part kits for the production of the PAs. The Company as far as I could fathom at the time had 3 Directors of whom Friary Managing Director Mr Jones was one, Mr Sutherland, who I understood had previously owned the Aston Martin Marque before selling to David Brown, and another gentleman whose name escapes me, but whose main interest was the Friary Motor Garage at Old Windsor.

E.D.Abbotts and Friary Motors had much in common, and I believe may have been owned by the same people. The designers of the PA Estate worked for Abbotts, who were at that time producing both the Ford Zephyr and Zodiac Estates. Both Companies used Hiltons of Egham for panel production. I was quite proud of our achievements with the PAs, and remember we built one for the Queen, and for Lady Macmillan, as well as one for the MD of General Motors South Africa. The Queens car arrived in a closed van, and left the same way. I believe its mileage when it left us was less than 3 miles, as distinct from most new motors which always had about 70 on the clock, the mileage from Luton.

My first job apart from assisting in stores was the acceptance of vehicles, which I had to sign for. I then inspected each car before it entered the works making a note of any faults before entry. Then with two 15 year olds I was responsible for preparing the vehicle as a vacant space arrived on the line. This involved removing boot, rear window, petrol tank, rear lights and interior trim, including the headlining and seats. Then the front window was masked with brown paper with a liftable panel for driving. Doors were covered with vinyl shields, and a job card with details of owner and job number attached to the brown paper. Vehicles were then fitted with gallon cans of petrol temporarily for internal movement, and a small seat placed in the driving position. I got quite used to driving cars from the small seat looking through the windscreen panel, with no sideways vision, and the doors permanently ajar. All parts to be refitted were numbered and stacked in racks. The rear squabs were modified at this point, and stacked with the other seats. The car then had its rear cross member (between squab and tank) removed and  using a jig the internal rear panels were trimmed to take the new parts. The roof was then cut using Oxy acetylene as far back as the door pillars. The new roof was argon arc butt welded. I think our average production was 20 vehicles per week.

At various times when demand was low, we worked on other things, notably Fords from Abbotts. Abbotts roof was shorter than the PA roof, in that it joined the original Ford roof roughly where the rear window had been removed. Abbotts used massive amounts of solder to shape this joint, whereas we, if I remember correctly, continued with Argon Arc, and used Holts Cataloy Paste for shaping. We also started on the Ford Anglia 105Es, the first ones I remember as Raymond Mays cars. I remember driving at least two with "blowers" (superchargers) which made a healthy roar.

As by this time my stores had been relocated to the top front of the building, I was not much involved with the shop floor, I do not remember much about their production. The Car was basically a " Hatchback" rather than an estate car. The rear door was made of fibreglass and quite light. It was hinged from the roof where the raked window used to go, and reached back to the rear panel. I know the boot locks and handle were re-used as were the badges, but cannot remember if the window in the door was new, or the re-used rear window. It was a very nippy little car.

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