Bob Jones has very kindly sent the Teal website a series of photographs of his early days (from 1986) building Teals at Harrowby Mill, Farnworth, near Bolton. More of Bob’s photos (and Paddy O’Brien’s – test driver and Tealer) have recently been added to the website, including fine pictures of T35,T35B,4-Seater Tourer, T43,T44,T52 and T59 construction.
A brief history of Teal (1986-1998)
Bob Jones, an AA patrolman born in 1948, bought Teal Cars from Ian Foster in March 1986. He continued as an employee of the AA, but in his spare time he developed (with the chassis builder Peter Farrell) the early GRP Teal T35 with a new chassis to accept far more authentic-looking aluminium bodywork, and on 5th October 1986 the first all-aluminium bodied Teal T35 was launched. The public reaction was immediate and highly positive, giving Bob the confidence to commence production as a full time manufacturer, selling 16 cars in the first 6 months, building up a 4-month waiting list, and developing the capacity to build 30 kits a year.
Initially (1986) the Teals were built at Harrowby Mill, Farnworth, Bolton in a small (1200 sq ft) unit costing £10 a week to rent. The move in 1987 round the corner to a 3000 sq ft unit also in Harrowby Mill was a great improvement, allowing space for a tidy, logical workshop (!) with distinct areas set aside for each production operation, and room for the necessary MIG welding, body jigs, hand wheeling, louvre stamping and polishing gear.
Working with Peter Farrell, the skilled chassis builder who had built chassis for Ian Foster, Bob extended the original Teal chassis by 11 inches, and designed new 18 inches wire wheels (manufactured for Motor Wheel Services – MWS) to optimise the steering geometry, then lowered the frame and engine by two inches in relation to the new wheel centre height to improve ride, handling and provide a more purposeful stance. Bob trained Peter Farrell’s brother Ken Farrell to make Teal body parts, wooden floors, bulkheads, etc, and Ken’s wife Carol Farrell also worked for Teal part-time, assembling wiring looms, working in the office, posting parts out, etc. Bob also employed Bill the mechanic, particular to help out with full build Teals, and ‘Wild Bill’ Wilding, who fabricated the lovely boat tails and and wings on the wheeling machine. Robert Walsh, the Teal electrician, designed and assembled the wiring looms for Teals.
In 1989 Bob moved Teal cars to Viaduct Road, Broadheath, Altrincham, and demand continued to grow for the both the kit and fully-built aluminium T35 boat tail and T35 4-seater Tourer, with engine options of BL ‘O’ type 1700cc, BL MG 1800cc, Nissan,Fiat twin cam and Triumph 2000 straight six. Rent was now £800 a month, and Bob had up to five people working with him on chassis, engines, bodywork, wheeling, louvres, wiring, testing and demonstrating. Bob was also developing the T35B with lengthened and strengthened chassis to take the Triumph 2.5 and Jaguar 3.8/4.2 engines, and creating the beautiful and purposeful Jaguar-engined Teal T59, modelled on the Bugatti Type 59. Bob also built the Teal T43, and, with David, the lovely Teal T44 tourer for Barry Holland. David was a very positive help to Bob in the whole development of Teal cars. Bob also designed and built a dozen T52 scale model Bugatti replicas , the only exact copy of a Bugatti built by Teal Cars.
In 1989 Bob’s friend Ben Trumble set up Northern Classic Sports Cars in Yorkshire; Ben and his team (Steve the Sprayer and the two Johns) would pick up Teal chassis/body kits from Bob Jones and transport them to Leeds, and in a ‘wing’ added onto Ben’s house would assemble and paint the Teals to customers’ orders. This continued through 1989, 1990 and 1991, which is when Ben built his last Teal (Dizzy 2) for his own enjoyment and use; this car stayed with Ben for 17 years enjoying many adventures (See Thrilling Teals by Ben Trumble page of this website) until being sold in 2008 in France, and returned to London.
In 1991 recession hit Britain, and the demand for Teals lessened for two hard years, though there was still a reduced but steady flow of sales. After a short period in Eccles, in 1993 Bob moved Teal to Grimsditch Hall, Whitely, Near Warrington, where he set up his workshop in the spacious grounds of his good friend Mike Astill, a keen Teal T35 owner and supporter. Demand picked up, and production of Teals of all types continued at Grimsditch Hall until personal circumstances resulted in Bob Jones selling the designs of Teal Cars to Norman Durban in 1996. However, they agreed that Bob should complete all existing orders, which resulted in Bob and his team continuing to build Teals and Teal kits until early 1998.
Who built your Teal chassis and bodywork? Among those who were involved with Teal in this period are: Peter Farrell, chassis builder, his brother Ken Farrell, bodywork, flloor and bulkhead former, and his wife Carol (wiring looms and office), Bill the mechanic who helped particularly with Teal full builds,Wild Bill Wilding, who made the boat tails and wings, Tim Melia, David (T44 especially, the electrician and Teal wiring loom specialist Robert Walsh, and Bob Lewis, particularly associated with building the stainless steel handbrake system; and, of course, Bob Jones, owner, designer, worker and salesman. Others who may have been involved in buildiing your Teal, or parts for it, are: Ben Trumble,Paddy O’Brien (test driver and demonstrator) and Dicky Dawes(of Classic Car Panels, who took over production of the all-important boat tail for the T35 and the T59 from Wild Bill Wilding), each of whom has made a major contribution to the Teal story.
Subsequent pages of the website illustrate stages in building the T35/35B/T43/T44/T52 and T59
Very early days at Harrowby Mill, Farnworth (1986): Aluminium Teal Number One: Peter Farrell made the chassis and Bob Jones built the body.
Aluminium Teal No 1 from the other side (1986).
Early days at Harrowby Mill (1986): the Teal ‘works’ with body building jig at centre.
Harrowby Mill: mechanic Bill secures a customer’s T35 kit on transport provided by the purchaser…
‘Wild Bill’ wiring up a Teal T35 edge
The first lengthened 4-seater chassis – 11 inches were added by Bob Jones
Bill fitting Fiat twin cam to 4-seater – typical ‘works’ debris beyond!
Farnworth,1988 – Ian Foster’s own GRP car now rebodied in Aluminium by Bob Jones
TEAL CARS LOCATIONS:
Bob Jones moved the location of Teal Cars production a number of times in his 12 years of ownership and manufacture. He summarises the moves thus:
“1. Harrowby Mill – May 1986 small unit around the corner from PJF fabrications. Carried on working for AA and developed 1st Ally body – stay approximately 4 months. (1986)
2. Moved to larger unit in Harrowby Mill October 1986. Left AA and employed Peter Farrel and others – stay approximately three years. (1986-1989)
3. Moved to Atlantic Business Centre Broadheath, continued to take on staff and expand within the Centre – stay approximately three years. (1989-1992)
4. Hit by recession. Moved to Eccles Car Hood and Cushion Company premises, Cawdor Street, Eccles with a view to taking over the lease. Found the place to be falling down around us, so didn’t bother! Stay approximately six months (1992)
5. Moved to Viaduct Road back in Broadheath now directly employing only two people and using sub-contract work as and when needed. Stay approximnately six months. (1993)
6. Finally moved to Grimsditch Hall courtesy of my good friend Mike Astil. Idyllic setting for about four years. (1994-1998)”
Five photos of the Harrowby workshop, Farnworth, have recently (Sep 2008) been found by Paddy O’Brien, and are shown below:
See subsequent website pages for photos of later T35/T35Bs/T43/T44/T52 and T59 Teals…