There can be very few British sports cars that were built in smaller numbers than the Squire. However, what Squire lacked in production numbers it more than made up for in quality and technical sophistication. Conceived by a young Englishman, Adrian Morgan Squire while he was still at school, following a brief apprenticeship with Bentley Motors and MG, Squire felt ready and in 1931 he set up his own business, aged just 21, Squire Motors.
Squire was lucky enough to have the backing of wealthy friend, Sherman Stonor, later 6th Baron Camoys. Two additional investors soon joined them, Jock Manby Colegrave and Reginald Slay, and Squire Motors Ltd was formed. Squire Motors sold, repaired, and tuned sports cars, and then in 1934 the Squire Car Manufacturing Company Ltd was formed to build Adrian’s masterpiece, “The Squire Car” as it is titled in the company’s brochure.
Squire’s genius covered two distinct skill sets. Firstly he was clearly a gifted and intuitive engineer and designer. But possibly more importantly he knew a good idea when he saw one and was clearly astute at identifying the best components and technology that was available at the time, which, with his engineering prowess, he was then able to develop to work harmoniously together, forming a car that is far more than just the sum of some very good parts.
Starting with the engine which was manufactured by British Anzani, a 1496cc twin overhead camshaft 4 cylinder design of lightweight aluminium. The engine featured hemispherical combustion chambers and was further enhanced with the addition of a David Brown supercharger. The result was 110bhp at 5,500rpm.
The transmission was also brought-in. A Wilson 4 speed pre-selector gearbox was employed, a design which had been successfully used in a number of successful racing cars of the time including ERA and the Mercedes Silver Arrows cars.
The chassis was also contracted, from John Thompson Pressings, Rubery Owen, and Mechans and was available in two wheelbase lengths 8′ 6″ and 10′ 5″.
Braking was taken care of by Lockheed-actuated drums of Squire’s own design. 15½” in diameter, they could apparently stop the car in around 10 yards from 30mph, a feat which must have seemed astounding to most drivers of the cars of the period.
However, all of this technology and the sheer level of quality that the car attained came at a price. £1,350 to be precise for a car in Long Chassis Drop Head configuration. However each car came with a guarantee that it had exceeded 100mph in testing at Brooklands.
Unsurprisingly for a car priced in Bugatti territory, and indeed significantly more than an Aston Martin of the time, sales were few and far between.
However Squire did sell his cars. The first three Squires were short chassis, then came our car, 1501 the first of the long-wheelbase cars which was purchased by Valfrid Zethrin, a wealthy enthusiast. Zethrin chose to have his car bodied by Ranalah of Surrey. Ranalah constructed a four-seat tourer body, finished in maroon and red leather interior.
Registered ‘CLO 5’ by the London County Council, Val Zethrin’s car was one of three Squires entered in the 1936 RAC Rally, though he failed to finish. Interviewed by the Sporting Motorist in the early 1960’s, Zethrin said that he used the Squire for ‘racing, rallying and plain ordinary driving’. It ‘remains the safest car I have ever driven, having superb road holding and magnificent brakes’.
Sadly, as with so many innovative British start-ups over the years, the sheer cost of producing cars such high quality and technical sophistication proved too much and the Squire Car Manufacturing Company was wound up in1936. By this time the firm had sold just seven cars: five short-wheelbase models and two on the long-wheelbase chassis. Squire Motors continued in operation as a garage, while Adrian Squire moved on to Lagonda and thence to the Bristol Aeroplane Company. He was killed in Bristol during an air raid in September 1940.
However Squire’s company lived on in another form under the stewardship of the previously mentioned Val Zethrin, who purchased the company’s name and assets, including sufficient parts to build two further short-chassis models. Of the nine Squires built, six of the originals survive together with both of the Zethrin-assembled cars.
Zethrin also turned his attention to his own car CLO 5, commissioning a special aerodynamic radiator cowl from Serck. Thus modified CLO was present at the Junior Car Club’s Members’ Meeting at Brooklands in July 1937, at which the car came first a one-lap handicap race at 87.5mph.
Zethrin sold ‘CLO 5’, to a friend, Thomas Walker Gibson who drove the Squire around Brooklands at 100mph before agreeing to purchase.
Despite being stored during World War 2 in a gasworks which was target by German bombers, the car survived the war and was used by Gibson after the war to travel to France and Norway. Thomas Gibson eventually sold the Squire at some point around 1955. After passing through the hands of a number of owners the car eventually arrived in the USA in the late 1950’s.
In 1959 the Squire passed into the ownership of Bill Comer of Lake Park, Florida. Little seems to have occurred to the car during Mr Comer’s ownership and on his death in 1974, Walter Weimer of Washington, Pennsylvania purchased the car. Weimer embarked on a restoration of the car , reversing some of the modifications made by Val Zethrin, including the radiator cowl modification However little progress was made by Wiemer and he sold the Squire to Henry Petronis, a keen collector.
Our Squire next appeared in public at Rétromobile, Paris in 2011 where the current owner found her. ‘It had just been shipped over from the USA and last turned a wheel in anger at least 35 years before,’ he recalled. ‘Many years previously a restoration had started and then ceased. Paint had been removed. The interior had had more than its share of rodent inhabitants, but I thought the car looked wonderful – a fantastic composition with a rakish body and that most beautiful radiator grille’.
Soon after purchase CLO 5 arrived here at CMC. The owners instructions were very clear: ‘To retain as much as possible of the original fabric of the car’. Despite the cars many years and its history of modifications, the car was still remarkably complete and work commenced on preserving and restoring one of British motoring history’s rarest of cars.
The bulk of the work was carried out in-house including returning the car’s original coachwork to its Ranalah configuration. We engaged Azani Tim Abbott to rebuild the engine and take care of the know weaknesses of the powerplant during its rebuild. Cecil Schumacher overhauled the pre-selector gearbox.
Stripped of its panels, the ash body frame was rebuilt by Jarvis & Son of Neenton, Shropshire retaining as much of the original timber as possible. Traces of the original maroon paintwork were found during the restoration, and these were used to determine the correct paint colour prior to the re-spray. The interior was re-trimmed in-house, by the man responsible for re-trimming the short-chassis Squire ‘X103’ in 2004, while a pair of replacement quick filler caps was fabricated using those on the surviving Lightweight Squire for reference. Having consumed 4,100 man-hours of labour, the restoration was completed in May 2015 and the owner declared himself ‘delighted’ with the result, which saw the Squire returned to the condition it would have been in when collected by Val Zethrin back in 1935.
The Squire re-emerged following this mammoth restoration at the Royal Concours of Elegance held at the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh. Then in May 2016, ‘CLO 5’ appeared at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este, Italy where it received a ‘Mention of Honour’ in its class. Following this the RAC Rotunda at its London headquarters played host to the car for a number of weeks.
CLO 5 comes with an extensive history file including an extremely rare original Squire brochure and many period photographs. In addition, the file contains assorted correspondence, various magazine articles, period photographs, restoration invoices, a UK V5C Registration certificate, and a FIVA Identity Card.
With the other eight surviving Squires including the two later Zetherin cars all in museums or very private collections, it is a rare day that such a car comes to the market. Indeed this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a Squire. Technically advanced, built to the highest possible standards, historically important, extremely rare, and with in-period Brooklands history, CLO 5 is surely one of the most collectable and desirable motorcars currently available to the discerning collector.
- Size 1.5L
- Type Manual
- Type Petrol
- Doors 2
- Colour Maroon
- Body type Convertible
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