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British Special: Turner Sports Car

Jack Turner was minding his own business – racing MGs in the 1940s and building one-off specials – when other racers began coming to him to improve their own cars. John Webb, John Tojeiro, Ken Rose – race drivers and constructors themselves – all approached Turner eventually, asking for cars, motors, parts, and tuning. Turner’s early cars were cobbled together with disparate British parts and Lea Francis, Vauxhall, and MG engines. In the mid-1950s, he decided the world needed a very simple sports car that could go racing on weekends. His Turner Sports Car was introduced in 1954 clothed in fiberglass with a ladder frame and unusual torsion bar/trailing arm/Panhard rod/telescopic shock rear suspension that led to considerable success on the track. Most parts were sourced from BMC’s Austin A30 and the Morris Minor. The Turner Sports Car Company enjoyed a production run that lasted until 1966 when Jack Turner became ill and retired. About 670 examples were produced, and here on facebook Marketplace we have a Turner Sports project car. Buy the car and you’ll get an Austin Healey Mark III for free, condition unknown. The package price is $6500 and the location is Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck Foster found this sweet tip for us – thanks!

Through 1955, the Turner was equipped with an Austin A30 803 cc four-cylinder – the first of BMC’s A-series engines. Making about 30 hp, it was paired with a four-speed, three-synchro manual transmission. In 1956, the cars were updated with Austin’s venerable 948 cc engine, and the car was renamed the “950 Sports”. The first cars had an egg-crate grille almost as tall as it was wide; in the later 1950s, tiny fins decked the rear fenders. Around this time, BMC recognized that Turner was a competitor and became less willing to fork over 948s. Turner diversified his engine offerings thereafter, offering Coventry Climax, Ford Kent, and Ford Cortina mills. All of these seriously increased the Turner’s performance. By this time, the grille had lengthened across the car’s front end. This car has that wide front grille and no fins. I’m not sure it’s a ’56; without information on the motor or the VIN, it’s hard to tell for sure. Much of the sheet metal in here looks handmade.

This car was destined for racing, apparently. The rear suspension has been refreshed with coil-overs. While it’s pretty barren in here, the seller indicates he has all of the Turner’s parts.

This is the trunk, with the floor of the shop below. Fueling an early Turner involves opening the boot as the filler neck does not protrude through the body; later Turners had an external fuel filler like this one. Normally, the spare would reside here. Clearly, the buyer will encounter plenty of work reassembling this car – or the shortcut is to purchase a finished example for about $25k. And the better bet is?


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    That’s here in Roanoke.I’ve been tempted to go take
    a look at it,but would be in trouble if I brought it home –
    “I just want to go take a look at it” seems to get me into trouble.

    Like 7
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Maybe you can take a look under the guise of reporting back to us on the details! Like, what engine does he have, anyway?

      Like 6
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Tempting,but I’ll be working 10-12 hour days for the next week.
    At least I get Monday (Dec 25th) off.

    Like 1
  3. Dan Schwartz

    Interesting find. It looks like a Turner Mk3, which was built in the mid 1960’s. Any sign of a metal plate in the engine compartment with Manufactured by Turner Sports Cars (Wolverhampton) Ltd. Pendeford Airport, Wolverhampton and Chassis Number and Engine Number stampings? What does the engine look like?

    Like 1
  4. Martin Horrocks

    Again, thanks Michelle for interesting, informative and concise write up. Turner was an important player in the 1950s UK small sports car world, where dreams could be built out of fibreglass, metal tube and very basic mechanicals. Some of these hobbyists went on to design and build F1 cars. I think Turner also tried that bach in his early days.

    You are right, this ia later shape than 1956, though the chassis may be from 1956. I doubt if that matters, whatever the reason. Good price on a rare car. Next ownet should be a hands on person wanting to get involved with vintage/ historic racing.

    Like 3
  5. Mike Burnett

    Is the free Austin Healey a Mk 3 Sprite or a 3000 Mk 3?

    Like 1
  6. jwaltb


    Like 1
  7. Garry

    Is the John Tojeiro mentioned in the first few lines the same one who contributed so much to the development of the AC Ace/Cobra?

    Like 1
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      The very same. He liked a particular set of wheels that Turner came up with and used them on a car of his own. Tojeiro was a very interesting constructor, incidentally. He made a lot of one-offs, many of which have come out of the woodwork. Maybe I will ask if can write a feature for Barn Finds about him.

      Like 5
      • Garry

        That would be great!
        There are so many constructors from the late forties/ early fifties who have been left in the dust of history.
        Plus, you seem to have the knack of being able to dust off a lot of stories and bring them back to life

        Like 2
      • Michelle Rand Staff

        Thanks! I pitched the story, we’ll see what the bosses say….

        Like 0
  8. LotusLover Member

    There was a Turner raced by a Porsche mechanic named Larry Moulton from Salt Lake City who took it to 1 or 2 national championships in SCCA Production racing.

    Like 3

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