Arizona | Lot 167
1952 Tojeiro-MG Barchetta
$200,000 - $250,000 USD
| Scottsdale, Arizona
22 January 2021
- One of the first, prototype racing cars built by John Tojeiro
- An important part of the design DNA for the AC Ace and Shelby Cobra
- Significant 1950s UK racing history, documented in period photographs
- Formerly part of the noted Bill Jacobs Collection
- A veteran of the California Mille, Colorado Grand and Copperstate 1000
In the early-1950s, Cliff Davies commissioned John Tojeiro to build him a car with a two-liter, Bristol six-cylinder engine. Tojeiro, the established designer and builder of sports racing “specials,” obliged with a car registered as “LOY 500,” which was bodied by Panelcraft to look like a Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta. The Bristol engine was developed from the BMW 328 and developed 128 horsepower, while the whole thing weighed only 1,180 pounds.
Soon after, Tojeiro built an MG-powered Barchetta, LOY 501, and perhaps two more cars. One of these is believed to be the car on offer today, the MG-powered LOW 77 and the other was Vin Davison’s LER 371, which was being built with a Lea-Francis engine. About the same time, Tojeiro was working for Ernie Bailey at Buckland Bodyworks, which was supplying bodies for AC. Bailey suggested that AC might be interested in Tojeiro’s design. AC wanted a car they could display at the upcoming 1953 Earls Court motor show. Tojeiro talked Davison into lending them LER 371. AC fitted Davison’s car with one of its own engines, painted it blue, re-registered it as TPL 792, and introduced it as the AC Ace Roadster. That model that would later attract the interest of a young racer named Carroll Shelby, eventually becoming the basis of the 289 Cobra.
LOW 77 was sold to Reg Bicknell, who had been racing a motorcycle-powered Formula 3 Revis. But he never really clicked with the sports car, and after the 1953 season, he sold it to Ormsby Izzard-Davies. In the hands of Izzard-Davies’ driver, Alan Moore, 1954 was much more satisfactory, and the car performed well at Crystal Palace and Silverstone. A file of 1950s racing photos of LOW 77 are almost all of Moore and include some images shot by famed motor racing photographer Louis Klementaski.
By 1955, the world was moving on, and the new Lotuses and Coopers were faster than LOW 77 and the other MG-powered cars, so Izzard-Davies sold LOW 77 at the end of the 1954 season. It was advertised in Motorsport Magazine for £850, a considerable sum in those days, with the ringing endorsement that it had “finished in every event entered this year,” a claim that could be made by few race cars.
LOW 77 changed hands eight times over the next 30 years, mostly in Eastern England. It was eventually sold to C.L. Sieffert of Longmont, Colorado and once in the United States, LOW 77 participated in the Colorado Grand and the Copperstate 1000 and was driven by Augie Pabst in the Steamboat Springs vintage races. The next owner was Texas-based enthusiast Richard Rome, from whom it was subsequently acquired by noted Chicago collector Bill Jacobs. Jacobs enjoyed the car in a variety of vintage races and road rallies; it was also featured in the January 2011 edition of Classic Motorsports. In more recent years, the Tojeiro has been campaigned on the California Mille twice, in 2014 and 2017.
An exceptionally historic British racing automobile, LOW 77 is well documented in period photographs and is an important part of the design DNA of the AC Ace and the Shelby Cobra. Eligible for most of the world’s prestigious driving tours and events, LOW 77 offers an enticing entry to the world of 1950s sports racing barchettas.