As the dust settled in the aftermath of World War II, people across Great Britain and mainland Europe gradually returned to the business of daily life. Motoring enthusiasts were eager to hit the road and racing circuits again but faced a shortage of materials, fuel, and cars. Sports cars were a low priority for British manufacturers, leaving few options available to the enthusiast. The insatiable need to go racing spurred on a “cottage industry” of constructors who utilized whatever they could to create unique, scratch-built racing specials in their sheds. Names like Allard, Lotus, and Elva sprang to life in the 1940s and 1950s to meet the rapidly growing demand for nimble, competition-worthy sports cars.
One of the earliest concerns to go racing post-war was Hersham & Walton Motors, commonly known as HWM. Prewar racing driver George Abecassis partnered with John Heath in running the garage, who, in 1946, produced a gorgeous sports racer using a prewar Alta chassis as a basis – known as the HW-Alta. Eventually finding their niche in Formula 2, the company made a brief foray into Formula 1 with a 2.5- liter, fuel-injected version of the HW-Alta. But it was summarily outclassed, and the pair abandoned it to go sports car racing with far better results. The former Grand Prix car formed an excellent basis for the development of a sports racer, particularly when paired with Jaguar’s spectacular new twin-cam “XK” inline-six. Abecassis himself piloted the first HWM-Jaguar to a second-place finish behind a 4.9 Ferrari at a soaking wet Silverstone circuit. The team enjoyed steady success for several years when, in 1956, John Heath perished in a crash at the Mille Miglia, and Abecassis lost his taste for motor racing. The team eventually fizzled by the end of 1957, yet HWM survives today as the world’s longest-running authorized Aston Martin dealer.
While HWM is a relatively obscure marque, two cars, in particular, stand out to today’s enthusiasts. One is the Chevrolet-powered “Stovebolt Special,” which had a successful racing and Hollywood career in America and is now owned by Simon Taylor. The other is the last car built by HWM, the ex-Phil Scragg sports racer known as the “Scragg Jag.” Phil Scragg, in his distinctive Jaguar-powered HWM, was a regular in road racing and hill climb events across Britain in the 1950s, power-sliding his way to numerous victories and championships. The famous racer left an impression on countless fans, and it remains an enduring legend in 1950s British motorsport. It was a time rife with innovation when heroic privateers in cottage-built specials could often beat the works teams at the highest levels of the sport.
Phillip Scragg’s fearsome HWM-Jaguar left an indelible mark on many a young British motor racing fan, including a man named Barry Gurdler. Vivid memories of the car from his childhood inspired him to commission this fabulous recreation in the late 1980s. A resident of New Zealand, Mr. Gurdler contacted the respected local coachbuilding shop Tempero Coach & Motor Company, Ltd of Omaru. Established in the 1940s, the Tempero family is best known for its high-quality, hand-crafted recreations of famous 1950s sports racers such as the Jaguar D-Type, C-Type, and Aston Martin DBR1. The HWM was not part of Tempero’s regular catalog, but the project intrigued them, and they gladly took it on, building the car from the ground-up with Mr. Gurdler’s input.
A Jaguar 420 Saloon donor car provided its serial number and necessary mechanical components, including the four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, 4.2-liter XK inline-six, and overdrive gearbox. The chassis a bespoke tubular steel design built by Tempero in the same manner as their acclaimed C-Type replicas. Using period photos as reference, the coachbuilders crafted the bodywork out of aluminum alloy, incorporating the scoops, louvers, and cycle wings of the original design. The quality of the craftsmanship is impressive, with excellent panel fit and detailing on the delicate, torpedo-shaped body. It now presents in classic British Racing Green with white roundels, and exposed rivets and Dzus fasteners. It is a remarkably compact car sitting low on its 15-inch wire wheels, with an evocative, purposeful look.
The quality of Tempero’s work is apparent as you step down into the two-passenger cockpit. Bare aluminum lines the floors and transmission tunnel, leaving no room to mistake this for anything but a purpose-built driver’s car. The lever for the 4-speed Jaguar gearbox falls readily to hand, with a discreet toggle operating the Laycock overdrive for occasional moments of relaxed cruising on longer drives. High-quality, beautifully-finished tan leather is utilized for the seats, which snap in and out for cleaning and service. The instruments and switches are familiar Jaguar items, set into a beautiful engine-turned alloy fascia.
Removing the lift-off bonnet reveals the 4.2-liter twin-cam Jaguar engine. Fed by a trio of SU carburetors with trumpet intakes, the engine delivers a mighty punch in the incredibly light Tempero-built chassis. The engine bay presents in good condition, with an honest character befitting a rally-ready car. For the drivetrain, steering, brakes, and suspension, the creators used as many off-the-shelf Jaguar components as possible, allowing for ease of service and reliable running.
Upon seeing the car in the metal for the first time, the people at HWM in England were so impressed that they happily offered a cherished, genuine HWM nose badge from their stocks, which it proudly wears today. The car’s light-alloy coachwork, beautifully crafted chassis and gutsy 4.2-liter engine make it an absolute thrill on the road, with a rapturous exhaust note urging the driver to press on. As of writing, it is believed that this is the sole car of its kind produced, ensuring ultimate exclusivity for its next owner. Beautifully built and exciting to drive, the Tempero HWM-Jaguar is an evocative creation, sure to draw admiration wherever it goes.
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