The Eccles Rapier Special, an 1100cc 150bhp supercharged offset Lagonda-based single-seater, was built in 1935 for the well-known British racing driver, Roy Eccles – and was by far the most successful Lagonda car racing in the pre-war period. Roy and his wife, Marjorie, campaigned the car in over 20 races at Brooklands between 1935 and 1938, as well as at other Voiturette races and hill climbs.
Eccles was introduced to motor racing by his Bugatti-driving younger brother Lindsay and prior to ordering the Rapier, his early career included driving marques such as Frazer-Nash, Alta, Riley, and MG, as well as finishing fourth at Le Mans in 1934 driving a K3 MG.
The Rapier was known for its versatility in Roy and Marjorie’s hands, winning on all three of the main Brooklands circuit configurations including claiming the 1100cc Brooklands Campbell circuit lap record in 1937. Roy and Marjorie also saw success competing at venues including Donington, Crystal Palace and Shelsley Walsh, right up until Roy’s untimely death age 37 in early 1938 due to a brain haemorrhage. Following his death, the Rapier raced at Brooklands one last time in the Dunlop Jubilee races in September 1938, driven by Rapier Cars director Neville Brocklebank, but his bid was sadly unsuccessful.
When Brooklands closed in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War II, the car was sold to car dealer, Ian Metcalfe, who stored it for the duration of hostilities before competing in the first post-war British race meeting at Gransden Lodge in June 1946 as well as at a number of European outings.
The car then passed into the ownership of HWM in 1948 and was raced by their employee Fred Hobbs at a number of early Goodwood events. It was raced by Vickers Jones in the 1950s, before being was sold to the McCall family towards the end of the decade. The Rapier remained with the family for the following 40 years and competed in a number of national and international events, most notably in the hands of Shropshire-based Alex McCall, until his death in 2001 when it was bought by its current owner and driver, Tim Metcalfe – no relation to the earlier owner.
Continuing the car’s husband and wife legacy, Tim, together with his wife Jane, regularly put the car through its paces at VSCC events and Tim will be tackling the Chateau Impney Hill Climb course at the inaugural event on 11 and 12 July. The car’s debut follows on from its single victorious outing last season at the VSCC 80th Anniversary Sprint at Santa Pod Raceway and unfortunate engine problems at this year’s Goodwood Members Meeting in March.
More than 80 years on, the car continues to stand the test of time as the body and chassis are still completely original. Tim was also fortunate to acquire it with a detailed back history about its beginnings and motorsport career, including numerous photographs of both the car and its numerous drivers competing in period.
As a VSCC member, Tim is already familiar with Chateau Impney as a venue for the club’s dinners, but is looking forward to driving the new hill climb course as a competitor and believes the Rapier will be well-suited to the challenge.