Cars for Sale
Unipower Competition GT
VIN / Chassis ID: 766.2
1966 - RHD - Works factory Competition GT 1293cc Cooper 'S'
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Those interested, please contact the Club in confidence in the first instance HERE. All correspondence between interested parties and vendors, will be as mutually agreed. The Unipower GT Owners Club & Register acts only in an Introductory capacity, any discussions relating to any sale transaction will remain exclusively between the interested parties nor does the Club warrant or guarantee any statements made.
* Prices quoted are based on an Exchange rate as of January 2023 and are subject to change and any negotiation between parties.
The History of Chassis #766.2
It was at Goodwood in 1965, the first meeting took place between two men who were passionate about racing cars: Ernie Unger, an admirer of the cars built by Carlo Abarth, and who some years earlier had worked for Colin Chapman at Lotus and was currently Team Manager for Equipe Elva, and Val Dare-Bryan, the designer of the Attila racing cars and was working on the production of racing cars in the workshops of Roy Pierpoint. Sharing the same enthusiasm, the two men decided to build a small GT car and in conjunction with financial help from the entrepreneur Tim Powell, later to become Commodore and President of United Kingdom Offshore Boating Association, as well as great friend Andrew Hedges, the BMC factory racing driver, they set about producing the car in Powell’s Universal Power Drives factory in Perivale, London.
The Unipower GT was never originally designed as a racing car and so at the Racing Car Show in January 1966, the manufacturer Universal Power Drives (UPD) displayed a Prototype road-car. An early visitor to the Unipower stand was a certain Mr. A. Emlyn. Newman, who had a machine tool making company in London, and on seeing the car for the first time, thought that it would make a nice race car. Conversations ensued at the Show and it was decided that UPD would build a Competition version for ‘Em’ Newman as he was known with an order placed on the 28th January ‘66. Given that the Unipower GT’s designer Val Dare-Bryan was a race-car designer, Chassis #766.2 (the first production chassis) was built incorporating all the necessary changes required of a competition version and delivered on the 30th April ’66. A good friend of ‘Em’ Newman was Gorden Allen, who was making a name for his company supplying crankshafts and special competition engines. Consequently, the car was built incorporating a uniquely specific requirement, whereby the engine bulkhead and chassis crossmember was moved forward to make room for one of Gorden’s engine derivatives. Most likely it is thought, a 2-cyl Ford engine of 1102cc capacity with forward facing intake trumpets, mounted on a Mini gearbox, one of a few interesting alternatives being experimented with at the time by Gorden’s company. The car was therefore 'bespoke' built with this in mind, it being the only Unipower GT built with this modification incorporating the driver’s seat 'sunk' into the more forward positioned bulkhead. The car's suspension was also totally bespoke for its time with fully rose-jointed (uniquely UNC threaded not the subsequent UNF) suspension on all components unlike the customer Competition GT versions. Cooper 'S' disc brakes were fitted both front and rear with a brake bias adjustment in the pedal box together with Anti-Roll bars front and rear. Other upgrades were the fitment of an external Monza fast fuel filler and rubber bag tank of increased capacity, full harness seat belts, Graviner Fire extinguisher and with the engine secured to the chassis by solid billet aluminium mounts.
Testing at Silverstone exposed some early issues understandably, which both Ernie Unger and Val Dare-Bryan worked with its owner to resolve, often with Andrew Hedges doing the test driving. Time passed and as the intended engine to be fitted was also experiencing some delays in development, progress on #766.2 was fitted in wherever possible, as the production cars were the main priority. The car was finally installed with an 1102cc engine (for the then 1100cc class) with a twin-choke down-draft 46IDA Weber, necessitating the cars unique cut-out in the rear window to accommodate. It was also during this period of development that, when using the MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) testing facility near Nuneaton, England to develop the road cars, the Unipower's tendency to 'wander' down the Mile-straight when subjected to cross-winds became apparent, identified as being a lack of down-force on the front of the car. It was during subsequent experimentation on the front of the car in September 1966 by Val Dare-Bryan with Unipower GT #766.3, borrowed from its owner and placed in the MIRA wind-tunnel, they were surprised to discover the benefit, for the first on any car, of an Air-Dam, which not only reduced lift but also reduced drag. Chassis #766.2 was then fitted with the new Air-Dam and underwent further testing at a local airfield as well as Silverstone, completing its development as a UPD Unipower GT Competition car towards the end of 1966. John E. Miles (John 'Turner' Miles) was brought in by ‘Em’ Newman to race the car at various UK National race meetings in 1967 and saw improving success as the car was further developed.
Sometime early in 1968, #766.2 was sold to Piers Weld-Forester a young Army Captain, Grandson of the 5th Marquess of Ormonde, Equerry to the Queen, Escort to the Princess Anne. Piers would race the car in a number of races in the UK during 1968, before deciding to purchase the manufacturing rights to the Unipower GT and along with Ernie Unger formed U.W.F Automative Engineering in late 1968. The build and development of #766.2 as a Unipower Competition GT spec car had been instrumental in enabling Universal Power Drives to offer such cars to prospective customers with some confidence.
In February of 1969, U.W.F Automative Engineering and Piers Forester specifically, decided to enter that year’s World Sports Car Championship entering two specially built cars. The campaign was fraught with problems mostly caused by a lack of testing and financial support, but despite this their performance often surprised the establishment.
So, it was when towards the end of the season, when the other two factory entered cars had either been written-off or sold, that #766.2 was entered into the Nürburgring 500kms with race #40 in the September for Piers Weld-Forester/Robert Hurst to drive. The car had some problems in scrutineering regarding side window opening size, resulting in an innovative solution where slots were cut in the side windows, thereby allowing the windows to slide down to increase their opening, in addition to the existing round-holes. The car had also undergone further modifications to comply with the then endurance regulations, with a spare wheel carrier, skeleton passenger seat and the rear bodywork returned to the standard homologated shape but with extended wheel arches. At the Nürburgring #766.2 had been entered alongside chassis #UWF1007 (the June Le Mans entry) that had been sold to Stanley Robinson, but in qualifying Piers Weld-Forester had not qualified due to an engine issue. However, Robinson had crashed his #UWF1007 in qualifying but had managed to post a qualifying time. An engine was quickly rebuilt and installed into #766.2 so that Stanley and John Blankley could start the race, resulting in a great 9th place finish.
For the Barcelona 12hrs held on the Montjuïc Circuit the following month, Piers Weld-Forester now had Roger Hurst of Lenham Hurst Racing as his co-driver in #766.2, the car having been repainted and the temporary front wheel arches bodily fully incorporated. Two roof-mounted identification lights were fitted for this race as Jamie Agustin and Alfonso Alvarez had also entered a privateer car, but ultimately did not turn up. The race went well until 9hrs into the race, when a gearbox problem retired the car.
#766.2 was then sold to John Chubb reputedly associated with the Wilson Fittipaldi F3 team shortly before Unipower GT production was wound up in late 1969., who then raced it in the UK. Following which in 1973, it was sold to the sole official Unipower GT dealer, Monty & Ward Motors in Edenbridge, Kent, before being sold on in 1974 to Peter Henshall in Woking, Surrey, who sprinted and hill-climbed the car. He in turn then sold it to Gerry Hulford in late 1976.
Since in Gerry's ownership, the car has been campaigned with considerable success in a series of Championships and events from 1977 until 2010, taking many class places. Most notably 2nd in Class in the HSCC Atlantic Computers Championship in 1986 and 1st in Class in 5-consecutive years at the famous Brighton Speed Trails between 1978-1982. Other notable events were participation in the first 'races' through the streets of Birmingham in 1978 and in numerous Le Mans Legends events during the annual 24hrs of Le Mans (1994, 2002, 2007) as well as at the Circuit de Reims-Gueux in France (2008, 2010).
In 2014, #766.2 underwent a total 'sympathetic refresh' to replace any worn components and refresh its aesthetics, but most importantly without removing its historic patina, denoting its long history as the first Unipower GT chassis built, the first Competition GT version built, the most 'raced' Works entered car and the last surviving factory 'Works' entered Competition GT.
The car is eligible for events such as Le Mans Classic, Tour Auto, Goodwood Revival,