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Vernon Mortimer - 001

Founder of the Speedsters Club, Vernon Mortimer freely admits that his Chesil is used purely as toy in a stable of several unusual and rare cars. Having discovered the tin worm propensity of early Porsches the hard way, he decided to turn his back on an apparently immaculate 356C coupe just imported from Texas and instead go for an unrustable, GRP bodied replica Speedster.

Unfortunately for Chesil's Peter Bailey, the one he decided he wanted was the just completed pearlescent burgundy show car, sitting on his stand at the Stoneleigh show in 1991. Much persuasion was exerted and, with the smell of money forced firmly up his nostrils, Peter finally gave in with the provision that he could borrow the car back for some shows.

He has been doing so ever since, and the car has appeared in his brochures, on business cards, in newspaper and magazine articles and just about everywhere Speedsters get a mention. If you've see a burgundy Speedster, it's probably this one.

The car's first task, two after delivery to its new home was as transport for the groom to a friends wedding. Naturally the Speedster was the centre of attention and it was fortunate that the bride was a womb-to-wedding car enthusiast as she had to take second place to it on her special day.

Vernon used to earn an honest crust in the world of education before his recent retirement, has dabbled in motoring journalism for many years

He has had a passion for cars from the first day he was able to clutch a Dinky toy and his Speedster involvement started in November 1990 at the South West Sports and Kit Car Show, held in Bristol's Dockside Exhibition Centre.

 

More about the 'Starter Motor'

Having not long before sold his Porsche 912 (the 4-cylinder version of the 911, using the 'Super 90' engine from the last of the 356s) and instantly regretted the move, he had started to look for a classic Porsche replacement. On a small stand at the end of one of the exhibition halls, he saw an excellent silver-grey replica of the 356 Speedster. During the winter months, several genuine Porsches were viewed, but the memory of that very accurate replica kept returning and so a visit to the National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh in May 1991 was planned.

Three Speedster replicas were on show : the Apal imported from Belgium, the Covin (from the same stable as a 911 replica) and the Chesil - the operation having changed its name from 'Street Beetle' as new owner Peter Bailey developed the car from Chris Boyle's original. The new Chesil show car for the '91 season was finished in a deep burgundy pearl paint which was mirror smooth and still looked wet from every angle! It was breathtaking - and now in joint first place for purchase with a 'real' 1962 356C Coupé in slate grey, recently imported from Texas by a leading West Country 356 restoration specialist. The two cars were only hundreds of pounds apart in price; the SC Coupé was immaculate but how soon would it start to succumb to the inevitable early-Porsche tinworm?

A minor problem, of course, was that Peter Bailey had only just finished building this Speedster in readiness for the 1991 season, as his show car and demonstrator! Eventually a deal was struck - Peter would be able to borrow the car for shows and other promotional activities until a new demonstrator could be readied for action. In fact, the burgundy car appeared on the Chesil stand at shows for some time after that - and featured in Chesil literature, having been borrowed for the brochure's photo shoot to appear alongside a newer silver-grey car to illustrate Chesil's 'house colours'. Over the years this car has appeared on the Chesil or Club stand at most shows in the UK and in a host of newspaper and magazine articles in the general and specialist press, as well as on TV. As Chesil updated their specification to get even closer to the original, so Vernon's Speedster received the modifications. It is now a unique and very well known example of the marque. It has not, however, adopted the 'luxury' Chesil features of more recent years, such as deeply upholstered seats and wind-up windows!

 
 
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