Kincraft-Ford Formule Libre Racing Single-Seater


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The Ex-Jack Pearce, John Hine, Robin Darlington, Jim Moore
1965 Kincraft-Ford Formule Libre Racing Single-Seater
Chassis no. FL-012-1
Engine no. X36

Here we offer one of the most successful of all British club racing cars of the later 1960s. From 1965-68, driven by Jack Pearce, John Hine, Robin Darlington and Jim Moore, the Kincraft Formule Libre single-seater accumulated no fewer than 56 race victories while also breaking the lap record at many of Britain's most familiar racing circuits.

The Kincraft project was launched by Staffordshire industrialist Jack Pearce, from Tipton, who in the earlier 1960s raced sports and Libre-class Lotuses with considerable success.In 1964 he commissioned Lotus designer Len Terry – one of Britain's most accomplished designers with successful development of the Lotus 25 to his credit as well as the earlier Gilby and Terrier competition cars. Len Terry agreed to advise on the project but recommended Lotus draughtsman Martin Waide to detail the design drawings.

He drew upon his experience with the Gilby Formula 1 car of 1961-62 which he had designed before joining Lotus while Martin Waide then finalized detail design and manufacturing drawings. He then supervised construction at Pearce's premises.

The spaceframe-chassised car emerged with a rigidly attached stiffening floor pan. It was powered by a 427 cubic inch Ford '289' Cobra V8 engine, driving through a four-speed Hewland LG500 gearbox. Jack Pearce drove the Kincraft-Ford in its debut at Brands Hatch on June 20, 1965, finishing third. A week later it won the Scott-Brown memorial Trophy race at Snetterton, but next time out on the public road circuit at Dunboyne in Eire, the Leinster Trophy race saw Pearce collided with young Scot Adam Wyllie's Formula 2 Brabham. Wyllie was fatally injured when his car struck a roadside pole. Jack Pearce was unhurt but his new Kincraft was badly damaged. The car was rebuilt, and John Hine promptly won the November Cup Libre race in it at Brands Hatch on November 28, 1965.

Jack Pearce sold the car to David Bridges of Manchester for 1966, who took a 2nd and 3rd place in it before selling it on to Welsh farmer Robin Darlington, who promptly won no fewer than 18 races with the increasingly charismatic car – in effect a Formula 5000 design before its time. Darlington shone in it at Snetterton, Oulton Park, Llandow, Silverstone and Mallory Park. But at Oulton on August 20 Darlington crashed, and the Kincraft was returned to Jack Pearce for repair.

Jim Moore, a Thornton heath garage owner, then bought the car only to crash it upon his debut at Brands Hatch that November. Fortunes changed in 1967, as Jim Moore then accumulated no fewer than 20 club-level race wins at Brands Hatch, Ruffoth, Mallory Park, Castle Combe, Lydden Hill, Snetterton and Silverstone. He also crashed the car at Mallory Park, repaired the damage before a mid-week test at Brands Hatch and promptly overturned it, breaking his shoulder and collar bone. As 'Autosport' reporter Michael Kettlewell wrote: "Undeterred, Moore attempted to race the car four days later, but the pain from his injuries caused him to crash again! The car was off the track for three-and-a-half months for repairs...".

Jim Moore's brilliantly successful career with the car continued through 1968, winning 18 times at Silverstone, Mallory, Rufforth, Castle Combe, Croft and Snetterton, and adding five lap records, plus the BRSCC Northern Formule Libre Championship. But at the end of the Thorton Heath garage owner's career with the car it abruptly disappeared from public view. It was sold reputedly to Liverpool's John Scott-Davies. It was entered for the first Formula 5000 race at Oulton park on Good Friday 1969, by Lord Cross, a veteran Cobra driver. But the Kincraft would not re-emerge until 1971 when Max Reinhard drove it in northern club events, recalling he had found the car "somewhere in Brighton". It passed to Ian Stronach who raced it again on the northern circuits but found it uncompetitive against more modern F5000 and Libre machines.

Jack Pearce also built Kincraft trials cars, and a CanAm-style sports car under the same name, but this Libre single-seater remained his most prominent and successful product. It was owned for many years by Trevor Needham before passing to dealer Roger Cowman, from whom it was purchased by Graham Galliers c. 2003. A set of original drawings were then acquired from Jack Pearce and as offered here the car has been almost completely rebuilt and restored by respected specialists Hardy Hall at a cost of circa £50,000 (bills on file). Its engine is understood to have been rebuilt by DWR Racing in 1999 at a cost exceeding £3,000, the LG500 gearbox was rebuilt by Tony Wilson of Long Eaton. We recommend the closest inspection of this fascinating and extremely successful single-seater – the quintessential British club racing star car of the mid-to-late 1960s.