A new sports car for 1949 fitted with the new and powerful 2½ litre engine
|Lea-Francis 2496cc, 100-120bhp
In 1949 two models, this sports car and a saloon, were launched using the ifs chassis and a new 2496cc four-cylinder engine designed by Hugh Rose, which had been under development since 1946. It is distinguished outwardly from the 14hp unit by the four individual rocker boxes, and has two SU H3 carburettors, a compression ratio of 7 or 7.63:1 and high-lift camshafts.
Unfortunately the gearbox was inadequate for the ‘lumpy’ power of the engine, and the hydro-mechanical brakes not always up to the performance (only the last few had full hydraulics). The body was similar to that of the 14hp Sports, but more luxurious, with wind-up windows in the doors, a windscreen with side-pieces and a small rear seat, so with the heavy engine weight was up to 22½cwt. In fact, it was more of a high-speed tourer with its high gearing and slow revving ‘big four’ than an out-and-out sports car, although it did enjoy a few rallying successes.
The production rate was modest and only 85 had been made by early 1953. But the survival rate has been very good, and currently we have over 40 in the Club with others known to exist outside. Being hand-built in small numbers, it could hardly compete with such as the cheaper Jaguar XK120.