In 1986, looking through classic and Sportscar, I noticed a piece on the Hornet Convertible. Heinz gave 57 away (57 Varieties being the Heinz slogan) in 1966 to the lucky winners of a soup contest.
Built by Crayford, who left the side windows in place, similar to a Morris 1000 convertible. , Strengthening the floor and adding a number of nice features, such as an electric kettle and picnic hamper.
I was living in Preston at the time and saw an advert for a Heinz Hornet in the local paper. Hardly containing my enthusiasm, I went to see it and bought it on sight. Trouble is that it was 100 boxes and a body shell, with lots missing. I remember my father saying, “you’ll never put all that together”. My wife was very pregnant at the time and had the baby the following week; she still maintains that I brought the baby on early, bringing the car and boxes home! My car had been won by someone from near Bolton in Lancashire and had been part restored, seems the owner refused to pay for the work and the car languished for 20 years at the restorers in north Lancashire. Finally bought by the seller in Preston, once again it defeated him, he then decided, after storing it in hisgarage for 10 years, to sell it to me.
A full 12 months later, the car was on the road and as cute as can be. We used it for the next 15 years, doing hundreds of runs with three children strapped into the back seat – great fun. With such a small number made it was something of a celebrity at all the car shows, a particular hit with children, who would wave as we went past.
So what was it like to drive? Well scuttle shake was a factor, as was the weird hydrolastic suspension, the combination making you feel a little sick till you got used to it.
I finally sold it in the early 2000’s to fund my first Lotus Elise. Sold to a collector in Dallas, Texas.