In 1935 three car guys in England, E. A. Halford, G. H. Robins, and H. R. Godfrey got together to build a car that they would sell to car enthusiasts. This car became known as the HRG, using the initials from the last names of the three partners. Apparently the statement of intent when the company was formed said that they were going to design and build a car “by enthusiasts for the enthusiast”.
A 1947 HRG With A 1100cc Engine
These cars were all hand built cars in small numbers. Only a couple hundred HRG cars were ever built – some with an 1,100cc engine, but many more with a 1,500cc engine. Very few of these cars, maybe less than 30 were imported into the USA. The car shown in this post is a right-hand drive car, therefore despite being hand-built cars, I don’t know if the cars initially imported into the USA were left-hand drive cars or not.
The 1930s Styling Was Maintained Until The End In The Mid-1950s
These were simple cars with a ladder type frame and a front beam axle with leaf springs. The rear axle was a live axle with semi-eliptic springs. The 1100 models had a 99.75 inch wheelbase, while the 1500 models had a slightly larger 103-inch wheelbase.
There were some slight variations over the years, but the 1,100 models had 1,074cc engines that produced 40 horsepower and the 1500 models had 1,496cc engines with 65 horsepower. Obviously these are not high horsepower engines, but they had lively performance in their era and the HRG cars only weighed about 1,500 pounds.
The Badging On The Spare Tire Indicates That This Is A 1100cc Model
The HRG cars were quite austere. They were primarily built for performance. For example, the cars did not come with a heater. The windshield wiper motor sitting on top of the dash looks like an after thought. Also the cars are not particularly large. In the photo below note the position of the floor-mounted hand brake lever which impedes the passenger’s comfort.
The Interior Of The HRG Is All Business
The HRG cars largely met their goal. They were purchased and driven by car enthusiasts, but just not in large numbers. A HRG finished second in class in the 1937 24 Hours Of Le Mans race. However before the outbreak of World War II, they just sold 25 1500cc cars. In 1948 six HRG cars entered the Alpine Rally (two were the rare aerodynamic model) where they won some individual awards as well as team awards, but they only sold 40 cars in 1948. In 1949 HRG cars won two classes at Le Mans, but in 1950 they only sold 11 cars. The numbers just made the business unsustainable.
The 1500 HRG would accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 13.5 seconds and had a top speed in the 87 to 90 miles per hour range. This was noticeably faster than the MG TC which had a o to 60 time of about 21.6 seconds and had a top speed in the 80 to 82 miles per hour range. Even the improved MG TD would not keep up with the HRG cars. So while far from fast in today’s world, in their era, the HRG cars were lively performers.
A HRG Driven By Bill Shepherd In The 1951 Alpine Rally
From what I understand, HRG rally crews like Bill Shepherd and his navigator, John Williamson, were hardy souls. I understand that these cars were rough riding (see the road shown above), open air cars with no heaters that they drove over high mountain alpine passes (see the snow in the picture above) at aggressive speeds in major rallies of the day.
A Rally-Ready HRG Fitted With A Halda Tripmaster, Clock, And Stopwatches
HRG cars would be in competition in the marketplace with the more well-known MG cars. An MG TD sold for about $2,150, while the selling price of a 1500 HRD was about $2450. Therefore the HRG was not improperly priced given its superior performance, but the MG cars had a much bigger following and customer base. The classic HRG cars were available up to 1954/55 when HRG gave up building these cars to focus on other automobile related activities.
A HRG At A Rally Control
HRG helped to build the image of the British sports cars, but unfortunately while the car was a good rally/race car it was not successful in the marketplace.