|Manufacturer||Henry Meadows Ltd|
|Body style||4-wheel, 2-door Convertible
4-wheel, 2-door Coupé
3-wheel, 2-door saloon
|British cars manufactured at the factory of Henry Meadows Ltd at Fallings Park in Wolverhampton between 1958 and 1961, during which time, production was under the control of a number of companies.|
HistoryThe Frisky car project was conceived by Captain Raymond Flower, racing driver and Managing Director of the Cairo Motor Co Ltd., Nuffield distributors in Egypt. Flower operated the company with his two brothers, Derek and Neville, all of whom were part of the brewing dynasty of Flower & Sons of Stratford on Avon. From February 1955, under the auspices of the Cairo Motor Company, a number of projects for the manufacture of cars in Egypt under the general name of Phoenix, were mooted in the press, possibly as a way of gaining favour with the government of President Nasser. However, as the relationship between Egypt and Britain deteriorated with the onset of the Suez Crisis in 1956, little of substance materialised.
As the potential for manufacture within Egypt dissipated, Raymond Flower took his idea of a small, mass produced, economical lightweight car for every-man to manufacturers in the UK, eventually reaching agreement with Henry Meadows Ltd to proceed with the project.
Henry Meadows (Vehicles) LtdGordon Bedson, formerly a design engineer for Kieft Cars and the Vickers aircraft company, had joined Meadows as Export Sales Manager in 1954. Bedson, whose work at Kieft had included the design of their first sports car, and who had also designed a saloon car prototype for the Phoenix project, was called upon to bring his design experience to the Meadows car alongside Keith Peckmore, a project engineer who had also joined Meadows from Kieft.
Commencing around July 1956, in a back room at the Meadows factory, a prototype vehicle, nicknamed The Bug was constructed and developed. This small, four-wheeled, two-seater, utilized a moulded fibreglass shell with gull-wing doors and a Villiers air-cooled 250 cc (15 cu in) two-cylinder engine fitted to a brazed ladder-type chassis. To obviate the need for a differential, the car used a very narrow rear track, with drive to the solid rear axle by roller chain. The car was fitted with a four-speed motorcycle manual gearbox, with reverse obtained by running the engine backwards through the Dynastart unit.
a task they allocated to Giovanni Michelotti. On 5 December 1956, The Bug which had been taken to Oulton Park motor racing circuit, commenced a seven-day 24-hours a day test run, completing 4,000 miles (6,400 km) with a fastest lap of 54.91 miles per hour (88 km/h). Although The Bug had nothing to do with the Egyptian Phoenix project, because of the attendance of Raymond Flower at the circuit with his Phoenix SR150 sports racer and an embargo on the use of the Meadows name in connection with The Bug, Press reports of the test run erroneously referred to the Meadows project as the Phoenix minicar or Phoenix Frisky.
The disclosure of the Meadows company involvement and the correct nomenclature Meadows Frisky was announced by the press on 11 March 1957 just prior to the Geneva Motor Show. The press release included information about the Oulton Park test run and information about the involvement of Raymond Flower in the project and Michelotti in the design. The release also stated that the Frisky would be priced at "under £400".
Vignale delivered the body of the new car directly to the Geneva show. As this left no time to install the engine, it was displayed separately in front of the car. The design retained the gull-wing door concept from The Bug and the car attracted widespread interest and acclaim.
Two of these bodies were produced by Vignale, however it quickly became clear that the design would be too expensive for mass-production and so work began on completely redesigned the car in time for the Earls Court Motor Show in October.
In June 1957, a new subsidiary of the Meadows company - Henry Meadows (Vehicles) Ltd was registered in anticipation of the production of the car.
Amongst the design changes that took place before October were the replacement of the gull-wing doors with a more conventional suicide door type and the fitting of a larger Villiers engine of 324 cc (19.8 cu in).
Immediately before the show it was reported that the prototype had now covered over 100,000 miles (160,000 km) and pre-show publicity stated that there would be two cars on show, the Frisky Saloon and the Friskysport, a convertible version. Brochures displaying artists impressions of both vehicles were printed. However at the show, only one design, the convertible Meadows Friskysport appeared. Once again this new design met with an enthusiastic reception from the press.
Reports from the show stated that the car was “not yet in full production”, in fact, production of the car did not commence until five months later in March 1958.
In February 1958 a controlling interest in Henry Meadows (Vehicles) Ltd. was acquired by the Flower Group of companies. Raymond Flower was appointed chairman and managing director.
Frisky Cars LtdIn September 1958 production of the Friskysport was taken over by The Marston Group of Companies; they acquired a controlling interest in Henry Meadows (Vehicles) Ltd and the name of the production company was changed to Frisky Cars Ltd.
The Chairman of the newly formed Frisky Cars Ltd was Henry R Stone. Raymond, Neville, and Derek Flower were made directors.
Distribution of the car was to be handled by The Arneston Motor Company Ltd. London, which belonged to Henry Stone. The franchise was also taken up by other companies of his such as The Pointer Motor Co. of Norwich.
In September 1958, it was announced that production of the Friskysport was "being supplemented by a hard-top". This "hard-top" car, a saloon version of the Friskysport named The Frisky Coupe went into production in August and made its public début at the 1958 Earls Court Motor show in October. Alongside were two other new models, The Frisky Family Three and The Frisky Sprint.
The Frisky Family Three was basically a three-wheeled version of the coupe fitted with a smaller Villiers 9E engine and MacPherson strut front suspension. Having three wheels instead of four meant the car qualified for lower vehicle excise duty and also meant that it could be driven with a motorcycle licence. It entered production in about February 1959.
The Friskysprint never reached production and Gordon Bedson who designed and built the prototype left to join Lightburn in Australia the following spring to produce the Zeta Sports. The Friskysprint and Zeta Sports had some similarities in styling but were otherwise unconnected and despite Lightburn advertising to the contrary, Giovanni Michelotti was not involved in the design of either car.
In June 1959 Frisky Cars Ltd experienced financial difficulties, and an order was made by Hills Fibre Glass Developments, who produced the bodies for the Frisky, for a debt of £3,500. Despite being in poor health at the time Henry Stone vigorously defended the order and with the support of his employees and all the other creditors put forward an alternative plan. Because of the insistence of the creditor, the judge, Mr Justice Valsey, had no alternative but to grant the order saying that "he did so with some regret". All production ceased and the company was wound up.
Frisky Cars (1959) Ltdand he and E F Wright became directors. A Mr G A Stuart was made general Manager. The company announced that they hoped to restart production in September at Fallings Park with a target of 30 three-wheeled cars a week, also that a deluxe version would follow and that it was hoped the Friskysprint would be built later. Also announced was the intention to build a new production plant on a 30-acre (120,000 m2) site in Penkridge but this never happened.
A four-wheel version of the Prince was announced for 1961 but never reached production.
Frisky Cars (1959) Ltd Sandwich KentIn February 1961 the company was purchased by Mr R Bird, the chairman of Petbow Ltd. of Sandwich, Kent. Petbow were one of the worlds largest manufacturers of engine-driven power plant, including welding and generating equipment. All Frisky production and stocks were moved from the Meadows factory and a production line within Petbow's existing factory was set up.
Unfortunately the Frisky Prince, with strong competition from the BMC Mini, was not proving popular and chassis problems meant increasing time was spent rectifying customers' cars rather than producing new ones; despite valiant efforts by staff and management all work ceased towards the end of 1961 so bringing to an end the production of the Frisky car.
Frisky Spares and Service Ltd Queenborough KentIn 1962 a group of Petbow employees set up Frisky Spares and Service Ltd in Queenborough, Kent and all remaining stocks of Frisky parts were moved there from Petbow's works. This company mainly supplied spares for existing car owners. No real production took place, they would assemble a car for a customer if required, but preferred to provide a kit so customers could construct their own. They ceased trading around 1966.
The Frisky RegisterThe Frisky Register was set up in 1978 by John Meadows, grandson of Henry Meadows, offering assistance and advice to owners to encourage the preservation and restoration of these unique cars.