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The story of the light sports roadster

Part Six. Past the Peak 1960 to 1970.
Nissan had produced been producing the S211 Fairlady since 1959, but it was more of a tourer than a sports car. The Nissan Fairlady 1500 of 1961 was of conventional construction for a small sports roadster of the 1960's, with a separate chassis frame with wishbone and coils front suspension and a live axle with half-elliptic springs at the rear. It had a 1488cc engine that produced 71bhp, giving it a top speed of 91mph. In 1963 the engine size was increased to 1596cc giving 96bhp and an improved performance. This was the Fairlady 1600, which had disc brakes at the front. In 1967 a 1982cc engine was fitted. Forty thousand examples of all types were produce before production of this the only Nissan roadster ceased in 1969.
1962 Nissan Fairlady

Whereas the Fairlady was an obscure product of a major motor manufacturer, the Ginetta G4 has been a major product of an obscure manufacturer. The Ginetta marque was originally the creation of the Walklett brothers of Suffolk England. There love of cars diverted them from being structural engineers to motor manufacturers, at first making kits of parts for others to build examples of their sports car designs. One of the most successful of these was their G4 model. The first of 500 of these G4's was produced in 1961 in kit form and the last one in 1969. The G4 had a multi-tubular space frame chassis with double wishbones with coil springs and dampers front suspension. A Ford live axle was located by upper trailing arms combined with coil springs and dampers at the rear and 8-inch drum brakes. This was clothed in a distinctive body made of GRP. The first engine on offer was the Ford 105E, developing 39 bhp at 5,000 rpm.
A Ginetta G4
Even with this modest power output the G4 could accelerate from rest to 50 mph in 9 seconds and it had a maximum speed of 100 mph. During the cars life other Ford engine options were available, these included Ford 109E, 1.3 Ford Classic, 1.5 Ford Cortina GT and Ford 1.6 X-flow. The Walklett brothers continued to produce various Ginetta models including the return of the G4 in 1981, in kit form and also complete cars until 1989 when they sold the company. Two of the brothers are still manufacturing cars marketing an updated a G4, the Dare G4 in 2004.
The first Austin Healey Sprite model had been the design of the Donald Healey Motor Company. It had been developed and produced by MG at their works at Abingdon near Oxford, England. When the Mk 2 Sprite was designed and developed also by MG; a version with the MG badge the Midget Mk1 was also developed. Both the Sprite Mk2 and the Midget Mk1 were on sale in 1961. The Midget version outlived the Sprite by nine years and out sold it by three to one with a total of 226,526 examples made. Over the eighteen years the Midget was produced the design was developed and engine size was increased three times, starting at 948cc, then 1098cc and 1275cc. Finally a 1493cc Triumph engine was used from 1974 to 1979 when the Midget was discontinued.
Innocenti of Milan Italy also produced a version of the Sprite/Midget design. The Innocenti 950 Spider using a Ghia designed body form on a British built Sprite/Midget running chassis. This model was produced from 1961 to 1970 after evolving into the Innoceti C Coupe.
MG Midget Mk II
The first Honda automobile to be produced in series was a tiny sports roadster design the S500. That was in 1962 and the design of the S500 was a mixture of technology developed for the Honda motorcycle applied to an automobile chassis. The engine was a 531cc double overhead camshaft four-cylinder unit that produced 44bhp. It was mounted in the front of a box section chassis that had independent suspension front and rear utilising torsion-bar springs. The transmission to the rear wheels was an odd mixture of shafts and chains. The final version, the S800, made from 1966 to 1971 had shaft drive and a 791cc engine that produced 70bhp at 8000 rpm and a top speed of 94 mph.
Honda S600
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