1930 Standard Avon Boattail Speedster

Location: Indianapolis
VIN #:GF4616
Engine:4 Cyl, 12HP
Transmission:3 Speed Manual

The Standard Motor Company was founded in Coventry, England in 1903 by civil engineer Reginald Walter Maudslay, who early on saw the potential of the new horseless carriage. The company was aptly named: early Standards incorporated such future standard features as shaft drives and oversquare piston engines. Driving the first Standard entered in competition, Maudslay took part in the inaugural RAC Tourist Trophy race, finishing 11th in a field of over 40 enrants. The company expanded at a frenetic pace, supplying fleets to British Royalty and other affluent customers, but Maudslay's competitive spirit meant that a sporting model was always part of the lineup. In WWI Standard built more than 1,000 aircraft before resuming car production in 1919. When Standard's fortunes ebbed in the late 1920s, the company standardized its offerings and began supplying chassis to external coachbuilders such as Jensen, Avon and Swallow Sidecar Company, which later became Jaguar (in fact, a Standard chassis formed the basis for the original Jaguar SS).

In 1930, Standard partnered with Avon to produce sports cars based on the Standard chassis and running gear. This Standard Avon Boattail Speedster is a wonderful example of the fruits of that partnership. Body number 12 and chassis number GF4616, it is the 12th of just 22 Standard Avon Boattail Speedsters produced in 1930. It well fits the description of the Standard Avon proffered in the May 9, 1930 issue of Motorcar as "a business-like job well on its way to being a proper sports motor car. The two-seater body is extremely well built; the panel work is indeed excellent - especially in the tail of the body - the finish first class." This extremely rare car's performance is also impressive thanks to the 12HP inline 4 engine that was the core of the Standard's reputation for sturdy reliability.

I have known this car since it came stateside in 1975. It came over in the same container as my first car - a Standard Avon Sports Saloon- which I bought when I was 13 with paper route money The seller at that time had a broker running around England sending cars over here which he would then recommission and resell stateside. He became my early mentor in the old car hobby. Once he had the broker over from England who told me the cars came for "a farmer in the midlands". Ed sold the car to someone else and I lost track of it, but always wondered what became of it.

I spotted it last year in a friends showroom, and the car is exactly as it was the last time I saw it 40 years ago. Evidently the buyers lept it for a while and then donated it to the IMS Museum. The car has been remarkably well preserved all these years. It is now available for the first time in 40 years, and while it is a tad tired cosmetically, it has an honest patina that cannot be duplicated. It does run well, stop well and shift properly, but will always look faster than it is. Its a cute little speedster and undoubtedly the sole survivor of its type or maybe one of a couple at best.

You won't get another opportunity to buy one of these I'm thinking.

Click on any image to enlarge it.