This page of the Teal website descibes the beginning of Teal Cars, their types, variants and dates, and gives approximate estimates of Teal numbers and values.
The story has been told many times around Teal campfires of how the first Teal, then called a Worsley, was designed by IAN FOSTER on the back of several fag packets in the bar of The Pack Horse Inn at Affetside, Bury in 1983. Ian had been a chassis designer for Daimler (including the Daimler Dart) before setting up his own business, Trafford Brake Services, in Patricroft, Eccles, near Manchester.
At the Pack Horse one night in 1983 ALAN HUNTER told friends IAN FOSTER and TONY ROGERS, part time motor-sport driver, that he had just flown back from America, where he was on business for Mitchell Shackleton Ltd, a large engineering company making marine crankshafts, and at L.A. airport Alan had seen a Bugatti Type 35. In fact the brochure which Alan had picked up showed this to be a rear-engined VW-based fibreglass kit car replica. The glorious Bugatti-style bonnet was,of course, empty. Ian then described on the ‘fag packets’ how an effective, strong chassis for a front-engined Bugatti replica could be designed to make use of the good GRP bodywork available.
Alan listened in silence, then asked quietly: ‘would that work?’ When Ian and Tony both chorused ‘yes!’, Alan told them he would collect �330 off each of them the following week, and he would bring a body kit back from America! Within six weeks the kit of excellent GRP bodywork had arrived from the USA. Ian took accurate dimensions, the trio persuaded a Heywood fibreglass boat-builder to produce a mould and commence production, and Alan Hunter had the first 12 chassis welded up at Mitchell Shackleton Ltd to Ian Foster’s measurements. They were delighted with the result.
Publicity was required to sell the new car, and Tony Rogers felt that the original Tudor courthouse in Worsley, Manchester, would make a suitable backdrop for photos (photo 1 above), and brochures giving the Worsley’s spec were produced. In mid 1983, Granada TV’s Look North ran a piece, and the Worsley was launched.*
* This narrative of the origin of the Worsley car with thanks to TONY ROGERS
1983 – the Genesis of Teal: Two badged Worsleys near the assembly workshops at Eccles – FJA 467Y and HKA 940N (Ian’s own car).
From mid-1983 Worsley cars were built at Trafford Brake, Patricroft, Eccles on a very strong twin-ladder box steel chassis with extensive triangulation to enhance rigidity. The GRP bodywork was well moulded in five sections, Morris 1.3 or 1.8 litre engines were fitted, and Morris Marina running gear/brakes were used with the smaller 8-spoke wheels.
As we have seen, the very earliest cars (about the first 8) were originally called Worsleys; but Ian remembered from his days with Daimler that in Brummie slang a ‘Worsley’ meant a Friday car – a duff one. The search was now on for a new name.
At this time Ian was, of course running his main business Trafford Brake, and he had also linked up after the February 1984 Target Motor Trade Show in Birmingham with Mike Alderson from Hampshire, who with Bob Buckley of Thistledown Engineering became his southern sales agents. After a bit of midnight oil burning, and some long distance phone calls, it was decided that the new car would be called TEAL, which has been variously described as standing for
Trafford Engineering Automotive Limited (Maggie Foster)
Trafford Engineering Automobiles Limited (Tony Rogers)
Thistledown Engineering Automotive Limited (Mike Alderson)
Trafford Engineering Associates Limited (Bob Jones)
Luckily they all have the same acronym, so our cars became TEALS; Mike Alderson had the new Teal badge (below – complete with Harry Potter lightning), rapidly designed and manufactured in Andover.He fitted the badge to the Teal (FJA467Y) which he had picked up from Ian in Birmingham, and had driven in leathers, flying helmet and goggles with Bob Buckley through a frozen March 1984 day first to Cirencester to thaw out in front of a hotel log fire, then on to Hampshire to appear on Southern TV at Southampton with the Teal in the studio (19th March 1984). This is the first recorded long-distance drive of a Teal.
Original artwork drawn in Andover for Mike Alderson
The summer of 1984 was hectic at Teal. The car had appeared in The Autocar magazine of March 1984, formed the front cover of Kit Car magazine July 1984 (�1.25), with a comprehensive report by Ian Hyne and many photos, had been on television twice, displayed at the Birmingham NEC (July 1984) and queries were coming in from all over the world. By July 84 eight Teals had been built, some at Eccles and some as kits, and Mike Alderson in Hampshire put in orders for eight more completed cars for clients in the South. The question now was could Teal cars cope with the rapid throughput of orders?
1984 Teal Showstand with Maggie Foster
1984 – Ian and Maggie Foster’s Teal
The Teal kit price in the summer of 1984 for chassis and body was �3000 with 3 weeks delivery; the completed, drive-away car was �5700 and 12 weeks delivery quoted. Meanwhile Ian Foster was trying to run his own business at Trafford Brake, and was being pressed in 1984/85 to carry out a range of modifications to increase the sophistication and the appeal of the original Teal. He was also trying to arrange a move of Trafford Brake to Burscough. Something had to give, and in 1985 after about 30 GRP Teals had been manufactured in all, several going to the Continent, Ian Foster decided to sell Teal Cars – he discussed it with Mike Alderson in Hampshire, but in the end Teal Cars was purchased by Bob Jones in March 1986.
Ian Foster continued to take an interest in Teal cars and Tealers for the next 20 years, and also developed the 2-seater Tempest (with John Box) in 1987. Ian’s philosophy was that we should keep our design and construction simple, strong enough to to ensure safety but simple enough also that we could maintain and repair the vehicle ourselves, possibly with our growing children’s involvement.
Ian Foster, kind, knowledgeable, modest, supportive, the founder of Teal Cars, died in August 2005. Maggie Foster and her sons Guy and Mark welcomed 20 Tealers to their village in the Lakes in June 2009, and again in June 2014 – happily, the link continues, and was renewed in Summer 2018 in The Lakes .
Ian Foster, the founder of Teal cars (photo:Maggie Foster)
Maggie Foster with Tealer Keith Lidgerwood June 2009
TEALS – THE DEVELOPMENT YEARS – BOB JONES
Early days: Peter Farrell, Bob Jones and Ian Foster (photo:Lindsay Crichton)
BOB JONES, an AA Patrolman born in 1948, has been a key figure in the history of Teal cars. purchasing the company from Ian in March 1986, redesigning the chassis, replacing the GRP body with an all- aluminium skin, developing the design through the late 1980s and 1990s using a steel box chassis of great strength and rigidity, hand-wheeled aluminium boat-tail and louvred aluminium bodywork, refining the styling of the Teal to look very much like an original Bugatti T35A, but larger: a Bugatti T35 is quite small, with only a 2.40 metre wheelbase and 1.20 metre track; in the Teal T35 the wheelbase has been increased by 40cm, and the track by 20 cm, providing a footprint nearly 40% bigger on the ground – a much more comfortable size to drive on contemporary roads. The large 18 inch wire wheels from MWS (Motor Wheels Services) were now used, and Bob lowered the centre section of the chassis to provide improved handling, and a much more purposeful stance which is particularly evident in the Type 35B. The cars were built at Harrowby Mill near Bolton and near Altrincham in Cheshire, and could be purchased complete and ready to drive from the ‘works’, or in the kit form of chassis, suspension, wheels, bodywork and trim for assembly at home, thereby avoiding tax. Nearly all 2-seater Teals have no hood, but most owners do have a tonneau and a wind-blown complexion…… A more detailed history of Teal cars (1986-1998) is given at the website page ‘TEAL HISTORY – HARROWBY MILL’
Top Bob Jones Teal T35 chassis handbuilt at Viaduct Road, Broadheath
Above Teal aluminium body kit ready to go at Grimsditch Hall, home of Teal Cars for the last four years of production – note the narrow radiator shell option. For more photos of a rather special Type 35B kit see the Bob Jones Photo Album Page.
1994 Aluminium-bodied Teal T35 with 18 inch wire wheels fitted with crossply tyres; one turn of these large wheels moves the T35 forward 8 feet on the road…..
The standard engine options were BMC 1700 or 1800cc/MGB 4-cylinder motors, later also the 2.0 or 2.5 litre Triumph straight six options. Fiat-Lancia 2.0 twin cam engines have been used in the Teal T35, as well as Rover 2.6 litre straight sixes, Nissan motors and, in the strengthened Teal T35B, even the Jaguar 3.4 or 4.2 litre straight 6 engines. The Teal is also seen in a four-seater Tourer version, with ‘proper’ windscreen and hood, ideal for the sporting family motorist – or those who need to carry lots of baggage (or wine…..).
A dramatic view of Tony Davis’s Teal 4-seater in action at the Prescott Hillclimb
A three-quarter rear view shows the fine lines of the Teal 4-seater
Teal Type 59
The lovely Teal Type 59 at speed
A fine replica of the magnificent Bugatti Type 59 originally developed by Bob Jones, and later refined by him and Bob Lewis,with Mike Birch helping to market the T59 at car shows and on exhibition stands, was available at a built cost of about �28,000 (1995 Teal brochure). Eventually thirteen Teal Type 59s were built, and they may be found in Australia, Japan,France, Belgium and Switzerland as well as in the UK, of course. The asking price for a good second-hand Teal Type 59,if you can find one, would probably be around the �50,000 mark, though asking prices of up to �70,000 have been seen.
Bob Rohlfing’s lean and purposeful Teal T59
Replica Type 59s were still being built by Ted Riley of Staffordshire for several years, but the GPB 59 is no longer available.
A Unique Teal
Bob Jones has sent two photos of a one-off Teal built with and for Peter Farrell; it’s a four-seater Teal with doors and flared wings. The Teal was built at Peter’s request, and also acted as a test bed to see if it was feasible to fit doors to the four-seater chassis. Bob felt that the chassis flex was too great, and did not continue with the idea, except, of course, on the Teal Type 44, which is a completely different car. This photo of Peter and his wife Margaret with their unique Teal may have been taken at the 1988 Stafford Show. The 2-door, 4-seater has not been assigned a Teal Type number, but is sometimes called The Cream Cracker. This car has spent 10 years or so in Belgium, but is now happily home again, initially in Hertfordshire.
Lots more photos of Teals under construction and on the road are shown at the Bob Jones Photo Album page of thiswebsite.
In 1996 Bob Jones sold the Teal Type 35 designs to Norman Durban of Bisley, Surrey, but they agreed that Bob should complete all existing orders, which resulted in Bob building Teals and Teal kits until early 1998. Norman Durban, with his son, has competed in his interesting Teal T35 ‘April’ (from the registration number RPA1L) in the Liege-Roma-Liege Rally on the Continent. It is hoped by many Teal enthusiasts that production of the further-developed Teal Type 35 might restart, but that does not appear likely.
In December 2010 The Teal Owners’ Club purchased the rights to the name Teal, and the right to manufacture all Teal cars except the Type 59 (Ted Riley). It also purchased the bucks for the Teal Type 35 mudguards, radiator, bonnet and boat tail.
Teal Numbers and Prices
About 30 GRP Teals were built by Ian Foster and his team in 1983 (4 Teals estimated),1984 (10 Teals estimated) and 1985 (15 Teals estimated). Bob Jones bought Teal Cars from Ian Foster in March 1986, and completed the first all-aluminium Teal Type 35 in October 1986. The total number of Teals ever made is the subject of ongoing discussion. Many experienced Tealers feel that during fifteen exciting years (1983-1998) in the Teal world about 160 Teals in all were built; but Bob Jones, who owned Teal Cars Ltd from 1986 to 1996, and continued to build Teals until 1998, recalls a much higher total of Teals being produced, more than double that number. Discussions continue. What is certain is that thanks to the design and creative skills of Ian Foster and Bob Jones we are blessed with scores of splendid sports cars which are full of character, widely admired and a delight to drive.
Bob Jones seated in Paddy O’Brien’s Teal Type 35 (Paddy is a friend and neighbour, and was Teal Test/Demonstrator driver)
Prices of Teal T35s vary widely, from around �5,000 for an early, incomplete kit,which are now very hard to find, to �6,000-�10,000 for an early, running GRP T35, through �16,000 to �25,000 for a good aluminium-bodied Teal T35 depending on spec and condition (though asking prices of up to �35,000 have been seen), and up to �25,000-�30,000 or thereabouts for a good T35B Teal . It is emphasised that these can only be very rough estimates, and prices will vary greatly according to build standard, materials, specification, engine type, wheel type,condition, age and mileage, among many other factors – not least the Teal’s emotional appeal… As mentioned above, a good Teal Type 59 would be likely to sell for around �45,000 – �50,000, though asking prices of �70,000 have been seen. Prices for classic, rare and collectors’ cars seem to have risen well between 2012-2017, but levelled out a little 2018-2019. Teals have benefitted owing to the rarity and high price of Bugattis, the quality of the Teal design and build, and their similarity in looks to a fine Bugatti. Some garages appear to be speculating on Teals, buying them for a fair price and then asking perhaps double that as an apparent ‘try on’. Caveat Emptor.
Four more pages of detailed Teal history with many photos follow, including Harrowby Mill, Type 35, Type 43, Type 44, and Type 59 development through the 1980s and 1990s, after we have told the story of Ettore Bugatti on the next page of the website.
1990 Bob Jones advert for the Teal Type 35 and Type 59 to come
It’s more fun in a Teal…..
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Last Updated on 11 months by David Brown