Go back to the Marques and Men PageEmeryson

The Emery father and sons George, Peter and Paul Emery, Paul being one of only two men to make cars which complied with each of the first four World Championship formulae, 1950 to 1965, the other being Enzo Ferrari. They had been building specials for many years prior to the war, their first being a classic GN based car and it was inevitable that they would take an interest in the new 500s.

Although usually credited to Paul, the idea for the 500 actually came from his father George and brother Peter. Immediately post-War they had built a Lagonda-engined 1100cc Special at Georgeís Surrey home near Farnborough (the first Emeryson company having been wound up by this time, and with George working at the Vehicle Research Establishment, work proceeded only on the weekends).

Paul Emery in Emeryson.jpg (13539 bytes)Paul was involved in this project, but ran his own motor repair business out of Twickenham. He and his father had a somewhat fractious business relationship stemming from conflicts between George and Peterís classical engineering educations and Paulís much more intuitive approach. Whilst Paul was in Ireland rebuilding the 1100 as the Emeryson-Duesenberg Formula 1 car for Bobby Baird, George and Peter were eyeing the burgeoning 500 scene.

Paul Emery at the limit, showing the "natural differential"!

With their experience of the layout, they saw that front wheel drive could offer both low weight and better directional stability. Still working solely at the weekends, the prototype was built up over the course of a year or so. It used a fairly simple ladder frame chassis, with Standard 8 combined damper-wishbones and wire wheels on BSA 3-wheeler hubs. Peter came up with the idea of using bungee cord instead of steel for the springing medium (for weight and cost reasons) Ė probably the first 500 to run this. At the front, a space dictated a single. 8Ē hub brake and no differential. Paul would later describe the carís propensity for lifting the inside front wheel as ďnatureís differential.Ē

Returning from Ireland, Paul was rather impressed with the project, and agreed to act as driver. His first action was to offer a JAP 500 Twin to replace the old nail single that had been used for basic testing. Secondly, recognising that work was progressing too slowly, he asked that the project be transferred to his Twickenham site where he and Ted Limpus would finish up. All around, half an eye was on moving to a production run.

Peter duly debuted the car at Goodwood, 10th April 1950. It retired from that race, but a week later it came second in the first ever car race at Brands Hatch (to Don Parkerís CFS in the race for Amateur-built cars). At the British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone, the car impressed on handling (although lacking in horsepower). Unfortunately, Paul asked too much of the front brake and crashed through the hay bales and rolling. The Twin eventually detonated itself, and was replaced first with a Norton, then a JAP single. Later in the year, Frank Kennington also drove the car. Although shaded by Alf Bottomsí prototype JBS, the Emeryson showed very well against the hordes of Coopers with a number of good placings.

For 1951, a series of production cars were laid down. It is believed that six or seven were made, and ordered by Ken Watkins, Peter Mould, Ted Frost, Harold Daniell, Ian Pelling, Paul Pycroft and Don Williams. Paul seems to have stuck with the prototype.

Paul on the grid at Goodwood, 1950.

Emmeryson on grid at Goodwood.jpg (20412 bytes)

The task of building these cars was handed to John Rowley of Walsall. Incidentally, John employed a friend to work on the cars, by the name of Ken Miles. Whilst he enjoyed the work, Ken struggled under the strain of 100-hour weeks and his health suffered. At the end of the year, he took a job with Gough Industries in California, where he would find considerable fame as a racing driver.

Also in 1951, the Emeryson family had another of their fallings out, this time over a Mk II car. Peter, now demobbed and working as an engineer, recognised the threat posed by the swing axle Kieft. He prepared drawings for a new car, similar in layout to the Mk I, but with a space frame chassis and swing axle rear end. Peter rolled up at Paulís works to present his proposal, offering only the caveat that Paul would have to build the entire car, not just cherry pick bits. It was a bit of a surprise that not only did Paul reject his swing axle concept, he revealed that he already had a Mk II under construction.

Paul dicing at Brands April 1951.

Paulís car featured coil springs at the front and a de Dion rear end and whilst it cured the wheel lifting of the earlier cars, Peter remains convinced that it was overweight and failed to exploit the potential of front wheel drive in category where it should be most beneficial. Paul debuted his Mk II at Brands Hatch, 21st October. It was this chassis that also produced the final, stunning version of the Emeryson body, as now demonstrated by Marek Reichmanís car.

Remarkably, it seems that no production versions of this car were built. Paul seems to have continued using this car through until 1953, and may have sold it to Peter Jopp. Harold Daniellís car may have been upgraded to similar specification, but it is not known whether any of the other chassis were modified.

The older cars were now starting to show their age and were not quite capable of beating the latest generation of cars such as the Parker-improved Kiefts, Staride and Coopers Mk VI & VII. However, they were still good enough for impressive club-level racing and as first cars for new racers. Cyril Hale, Reg Barrett, James Caddey, Pat Fergusson and Dick Hett would keep the Emeryson name visible for several more years with a reasonable amount of success. It is believed that five of these survive.

James Caddey in the paddock 1954.

J Caddy in Emeryson 1954.jpg (24183 bytes)

Dick Hett at Paddock Hill Bend, Brands Hatch in July 1955, shortly before his off.

Dick Hett Emeryson Brands 1955 entering Paddock.jpg (14764 bytes)

Paul was now looking towards Formula II, and in 1953 debuted the 2 litre Emeryson-Alta (Peter Jopp and Alan Brown would also drive the car, once it received an Aston Martin engine). He ran this car until 1955.

Peter, meanwhile, had headed in the other direction. After building a 750 Formula car, he was struck by the new 250cc Formula. He pulled out the drawings for his version of the Mk II and refined them to suit a Velocette 250 engine. Unsurprisingly, the result bore the hallmarks of an Emeryson 500 but scaled down to a size comparable with the later Coopers. The car was very successful, winning the Formula 250 championship in 1959 and 1960, and on mixed grids it could surprise several 500s with both its power-to-weight and cornering. It somewhat proved his points from 1951 and leaves one wondering what if his design had prevailed. Only one of these chassis was built, and it survives in the USA.

Paul had driven the 250 car, and around 1959 was back in contact with Peter. American Robert Dahnken (who had already purchased an Emeryson 500) had been in contact with Paul about commissioning a new car (500cc racing was still strong on both coasts of the USA). Paul convinced him that Formula Junior was the future, then convinced Peter to re-jig his Mk II concept to suit a Ford 105E motor.

Whilst the Emeryson Elfin car was completed and shipped to Robert Dahnken, and a Mk II was under construction, there had been a series of problems between the brothers, relating to money and Paulís inability to follow Peter carefully calculated designs Ė nullifying all the suspension geometry and stress analysis. This led to a final falling out between the two. Peter walked away and became a chassis design engineer for Ford. Paul eventually sold Emeryson Cars in 1961 after building a series of rear-engined Juniors and Formula 1 cars (in 1962 the latter gained BRM V8s and were re-branded Sciroccos). At the end of 1962 he left, forming Paul Emery Cars, specialising in Hillman Imp tuning and producing the Imp-based Emery GT.

Peter Jopp at Brands Hatch in 1954, apparently in the '52 prototype

P Jopps Emeryson Brands 1954.jpg (33093 bytes)

Marek Reichman's Emeryson at the 2002 Revival Meeting.

Emeryson getting fuel.jpg (52159 bytes)

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