WP 6622 started life in 1934 as a Abbott bodied Rapier fixed head coupe which had been last seen in Ireland in 1955.
Rapiers had a jewel of an engine designed by Thomas (Tim) Ashcroft with a capacity of 1,104cc and twin overhead cams it was built for Lagonda by Coventry Climax.
The car or at least the relevant parts of it found its way to Australia into the hands of the well-known Australian enthusiast Ross Stewart, creator of one of the world’s fastest racing Austin sevens in the early 2000’s.
Ross Stewart who wanted to enter the 1,100cc class sleeved down the cylinders to a bore of 60.5mm leaving the 90mm stroke unchanged for a capacity of 1,087cc.
To extract the maximum amount of power, two stage supercharging was adopted using a specially designed and manufactured blower drive case bolted to the front of the cylinder block. Using the maximum boost pressure of 28psi, the engine’s power output of around 200bhp would have destroyed the standard ENV pre-selector gearbox so a pre-war Riley manual crash gearbox containing a set of close ratio gears was installed in its place.
The car has hydraulically activated twin leading shoe 13inch Alfin drum brakes.
The problem of accommodating a central driving position within the chassis was solved by manufacturing a step-down gear case that attaches to the rear axle casing enabling the prop shaft to be moved downwards.
In 2003 Ross competed in hill climbs and races in Australia with a good degree of success and he clearly regarded this season as a “shake-down” season.
Sadly Ross Stewart was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and was eventually persuaded to sell the car on condition that it was taken out of Australia.
By 2009 the car had arrived in Ireland, was re-commissioned by renowned PVT engineer Tony Metcalfe and competed in the August Phoenix Park races piloted by Kieran White where it came first and second against what one would normally consider to be superior machinery.
When rolling road dynamometer tested in October 2009 it developed 180bhp at 6,000 rpm on 22psi boost so claims of 200bhp at 6,500rpm seem to be not unrealistic.
The car was sold at Bonham’s auction in March 2011 and kept in professional storage but not run competitively and re-entered again with Bonhams in Oxford in December 2013 when it entered the Twirp collection.
Fettled by James Baxter the car had an outing last year at Harewood when it went very well but dropped a valve. It has now been painted Twirp green and will have one outing at the end of the 2017 season in readiness for 2018.