Classic Cars

Its history and that of its creator

Its history and that of its creator

In Britain in the 1950s, sports car promotions were growing everywhere, all types of engines were integrated into all types of backyard-designed chassis. Jaguar was the boss of big sports cars at the time, and there were specialist manufacturers everywhere, including John Cooper, Brian Lister and the subject of this story, John Tojeiro.

John Tojeiro was Portuguese by birth, but English by education. After years of trial and error, he built dozens of race cars from scratch, worked with many teams big and small, including Scotland’s famous Ecurie Ecosse, and became the ‘one of Britain’s finest and most prolific racing car chassis designers, building cars for such drivers as Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Innes Ireland, Masten Gregory and Jack Brabham, amongst many others. others. A Tojeiro raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans every year between 1957 and 1962.

Tojeiro’s World War II service in the British Fleet Air Arm involved building aircraft, from which he learned much about managing forces and stresses. After the war, he settled near Cambridge.

Tojeiro’s chassis designs were fitted with all sorts of British and, later, American powertrains – MG, JAP, Lea Francis, Coventry Climax, Bristol, Jaguar, Buick and Ford, to name a few.

Young Tojeiro bought a burnt-out MG TA, stripped and reassembled the chassis, redesigned the suspension and chassis, and built an aluminum body for it, using bike fenders. However, he never raced one of his own cars because he was so busy building chassis for other teams and people.

After this first effort, Tojeiro assembled a simple “H” frame of his own design constructed of large diameter steel tubing with independent transverse leaf spring suspension fabricated at both ends. Tojeiro didn’t have a machine shop, so he gave his project to customer (and competitor) Brian Lister, who ordered a second car, which, like the first, had a simple aluminum body with fenders. bike.

Since that start, John Tojeiro has designed and built over 50 racing cars during his illustrious career, including the AC Ace Bristol, which led to the creation of Carroll Shelby’s Cobra.

Tojeiro built a few other cars, these with DeDion rear suspensions and Bristol six-cylinder engines. Then a benefactor arrived and changed Tojeiro’s life.

Jaguar, 1958 Tojeiro Jaguar: Its History and that of its Creator, ClassicCars.com Journal

John Ogier, an Essex farmer who raced a Jaguar XK120, was willing to sponsor the construction of a lightweight Jaguar-powered car. Tojeiro built a space frame for the Jaguar 6 using coil spring front suspension, DeDion rear suspension, Moss 4-speed gearbox and chassis mounted Salisbury ZF differential with manual disc brakes fitted all around . The car, registered 7GNO, had a very short 87 inch wheelbase and 50 inch track. Ogier first raced it at Snetterton in May 1956, then shared driving duties with Dick Protheroe, who won a few races and set several track records.

The second Jaguar Tojeiro, built for Ogier for the 1957 season, received a three-inch longer wheelbase, slightly wider track, front and rear anti-roll bars, new bodywork and spoke wheels instead of disc perforated Dunlop. off wheels. Jack Brabham drove the wire wheel car at the start of the season and Graham Hill towards the end of the season. Ogier took over the car and crashed it on a hill climb in Essex, escaping with minor injuries. The 1956 car went to New Zealand, where it crashed again.

Ogier, recognizing his shortcomings as a racing driver, lent the third Tojeiro Jaguar car to David Murray at Ecurie Ecosse to race for the 1958 season. Ecurie Ecosse (Team Scotland) was founded in November 1951 by Edinburgh businessman Murray and mechanic Wilkie Wilkinson. Ecurie Ecosse won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1956 and 1957.

Jaguar, 1958 Tojeiro Jaguar: Its History and that of its Creator, ClassicCars.com Journal

The car, and many Tojeiro cars to follow, was designed by a Scottish commercial artist, Cavendish Morton. From 1957 he drew the Tojeiros in a most unusual way, first making a painting of each car, which was then shown to the various coachbuilders as the model from which the bodies would be built, without blueprints or blueprints or no wind. tunnel tests whatsoever.

David Murray had acquired the completely worn-out D-Type racing cars from the Jaguar factory and, at the same time, contacted John Tojeiro and Brian Lister to build new racing cars around the proven D-Type components.

Tojeiro built him a pair of space-frame Jaguar motor cars, switching from the D-Type’s live-axle rear suspension to DeDion independent suspension with slightly angled trailing arms instead of the equal-length parallel arms used on the Type. D. The design made the very light and very powerful Tojeiro Jaguar an oversteer monster.

In the same year, Tojeiro built a prototype space-frame Bristol-powered car for AC Cars. Another Jaguar Tojeiro was built for Ecurie Ecosse the following year. At Le Mans she raced in fourth place after six hours but ultimately her Jaguar engine succumbed to overheating.