In 1935, ten years after the dissolution of the GN cyclecar company, the 'G' - H R Godfrey - was back in business with new partners E A Halford and G H Robins, the trio adopting the name 'HRG' for their new firm. The aim was to build a lightweight vintage-style sporting car endowed with the virtues of brisk acceleration and positive steering, and in this they succeeded brilliantly. With its sturdy yet flexible ladder-type frame, tubular front axle, ash-framed alloy coachwork and 1½-litre Meadows engine, the little HRG proved an instant success in competitions. The Meadows 4ED's 58bhp combined with an overall weight of less than 1,600lbs (approximately 727kgs) meant that 50mph came up in under 10 seconds with 85mph exceedable under favourable conditions, an excellent performance for a 1½-litre car of the period. Known to owners and enthusiasts as 'Hurgs', HRGs embodied the principal virtues of the ideal sports car, being amenable to daily use yet capable of showing a decent turn of speed in weekend competitions: the 'Holy Grail' of the gentleman driver.
With the Meadows at the end of its development an alternative was needed and the firm turned to Singer, adopting a tuned and upgraded version of the overhead-camshaft Singer 12 engine for the '1500' and a similarly-revised Singer 9 engine for a new model - the '1100' - both of which were introduced in 1939. Production of both of these essentially 1930s designs continued post-war with the '1500' achieving a degree of competition success, the highlight being John Gott's Coupe des Alpes in the 1951 Alpine Rally. Development though, was almost non-existent hydraulic brakes were not standardised until 1953 and the promising Twin-Cam, which used the Singer engine as its basis, fell foul of Rootes' take-over of the Coventry manufacturer in 1956. Around 240 of HRG's traditional models had been made by the time production ceased that same year, of which approximately 225 survive today.
In 1949 a well known BBC television presenter, Mr John Gilbert, commissioned HRG to build his 'dream' sports-racing car. HRG based Gilbert's car on an extended version of their standard 1500 chassis with quarter-elliptic front springs and semi-elliptic rears. Gilbert supplied the eight-cylinder Maserati engine, thought to be that originally fitted to Hanken Widengren's sports racing Maserati campaigned at Brooklands in the 1930s. HRG chief mechanic, Fred Mead, constructed the body in the style of the latest Maserati A6GCS sports-racer.
The Gilberts were founder members of the Goodwood Racing Club; both John and his wife campaigned the car in the first and many subsequent events at the Sussex circuit from 1950 to 1958 as chronicled by Robert Barker in his 'Record of Motor Racing at Goodwood'. Eventually, their son Christopher inherited the HRG and raced it at Goodwood, Silverstone and other UK circuits. He and subsequent owners Bob Andrews and Jeremy Broad replaced the Maserati engine, fitting Singer, Ford and Jaguar power units in a quest for more power. The engine currently fitted is a 2.4-litre Jaguar XK unit.
Completely restored in 2014, this unique HRG comes with a large archive of photographs and documents relating to its original construction, subsequent racing career and recent restoration, plus a V5C registration document. A part engine from a Maserati 3500GT ('AM101.1303') consisting of a cylinder block, crankcase and sump is included in the sale.