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WSM - The History Part One

Click on menu below - Contents -
The History - Part Two The story continues to present day . .
For Sale Cars, motorhomes, wheels, windscreens and more . .
Race News Updates on WSM's in competition in the current year . .
In Competition Pictorial file in three parts of WSM's in action from 1962 to date . .

News & Archive

New contacts, forthcoming events plus archives . .
WSM S2 WSM S2 introduction and price list . .
Bentley to Sprite Pictorial file on almost everything bar WSM's that DW-S drove . .

Bristols . .

Design and performance were in the blood - aircraft, caravans, houses, motorhomes, gardens and cars received the Douglas Wilson-Spratt treatment in the pursuit of betterment in function and form. A childhood spent creating models, and an engineering background gleaned at the Bristol Aircraft company that included experience as production test driver with the car division of the same company, unearthed a passion for motorsport. A hint of the future was illustrated by boyhood bicycle races against public transport, regular visits to Hendon air displays, and later speeding tickets issued while towing caravans (right). Ownership of cars such as the ex-Lord Brabazon Fiat 508c Mille Miglia (left), Bentley, Triumph TR and Austin-Healey Sprite lead to drawings and plasticine models created in 1961 to full size production of a lightweight and aerodynamic sports car . .

The Business . .

In 1954, Douglas and wife Laurette sold the Alveston-based Marlborough Caravan business and bought a Shell garage and showroom in Hockliffe St, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. Renamed 'Delta Garage' the Austin, Vauxhall and Bedford dealership was expanded and the Volvo brand was awarded. Several 'Mobil Economy' runs were completed in an A35 and Vauxhall (pictured with Delta secretary John Bayliss), and workshop facilities, including spray booth and lubrication bays, were added. Peter Jackson joined the company in 1961 to run the forecourt and workshop, and in 1962 Jim McManus brought seven years experience as Sales Manager at the Donald Healey Motor company in London. Jim was a founder member of the Healey Drivers Club, and with Douglas and Jim achieving competition success with the marque, they recognised that the Healey brand needed a presence in London aimed at performance enhancement and special tuning parts. With Donald Healey's approval, a mews property at 17 Winchester Rd in Swiss Cottage became the base for the 'Healey Centre'.

Business was brisk, and the company outgrew the mews premises and relocated within the Delta Garage property in 1963, where the Healey Centre accessory shop had been the first such performance and tuning retail outlet in the UK. The Austin Mini Cooper and Cooper S became firm favourite's, with Laurette and Douglas enthusiastically indulging in the little car's abilities on road and rally. Amongst other rarities, an A35 pick-up (pictured) was sold to Barry Pinkerton, who recalls it had a Downton tuned 977cc engine with a single SU carb, and the torque it produced prompted putting the engine in a Mark 1 Sprite for auto-testing which kept 1098cc and 1275cc Spridgets at bay - click on the Autosport page for some 1965 details. Barry also bought from Delta a 1962 Riley 1.5, pictured in 1969 after a run to Spain . .

WSM 201 - Putting On The Style . .

Safety Fast January 1965

WSM's Lost . .

Further examples of the breed were the MG1100 (pictured) aimed at four seater comfort in 1965 with 100mph performance and 30mpg economy, the AH3000 built for Malcolm Bridgland, the MGB based on Robbie Gordon's rapid 1963 roadster, and conversion of Douglas Hull's 1959 Jaguar XK150S into an estate car. Of the fourteen cars, the family knew 46 BXN, WSM 202 , WSM 301 and the WSM MGB had survived up until 1995 (in 1994 Douglas viewed the WSM MGB at the Autotron museum in Holland), but a telephone call from Sprite historian Tom Coulthard to the Isle of Man in May 1995 began a chain of events that would bring WSM back into the public eye . .

Go to The History Part 2