CAR OF THE MONTH 125: June 2018
1968 Rochdale Olympic
The Rochdale Motor Panels and Engineering company took its name from the town where it was based in what is now Greater Manchester. It was founded in 1948 by Frank Butterworth & Harry Smith and originally performed motor repairs, but including some alloy bodies for racing and some other cars. From 1952 they turned to glass-fibre bodies and their most successful venture, designed by Richard Parker, came in 1959 with a closed coupé style monocoque bodyshell that became the Olympic. These were kit cars, sold with an engine (initially a twin-carb version of the 1.5 litre BMC B series) and all other mechanical parts along with the bodyshell. From 1963, the Phase II Olympic was introduced, of which the car featured here is a late example. These used the Ford 116E Cortina-type engine & transmission components but with Triumph Herald front suspension and steering, giving a tight steering circle. They were sold as kits for £735 or fully built for £930 (equivalent to about £16,000 today). With such a lightweight body, top speed was over 110mph with a 0-60mph time of under 11s. Production ended in 1973, by which time about 400 had been made.