On the way to becoming the MK VII : Another styling buck fashioned by Abbey Panels men.
In 1942, Ted heard of a job at Abbey Panels. This was a company, in fact, that Ted had been negotiating to start jointly with the proprietor in 1941 but had been advised against because of probable difficulties with the aircraft Inspectorate (a somewhat picky body of men whom Lyons at SS Cars had more than one brush with during the war).
With Ted now on board, Abbey Panels soon became busy with a variety of both car and aircraft work and a sales ledger dated February 1st 1947, which Ted had kept, listing clients such as Courtaulds Ltd (£197 5s 7d), Amusement Supplies (£1056 7s 9d), Standard Motor Company (£79 18s 11d), Lea-Francis Cars (£1017 7s 0d) and Jaguar Cars (£648 1s 1d). All five original partners worked on the shop floor. ‘’I was very busy with Lea- Francis first of all, doing complete aluminium sports car bodies, plus their six light saloon.”
The prototype ‘D’ type. All the ‘C’ and ‘D’ bodies were fashioned by Abbey Panels.
Did Ted remember exactly how he came into contact with Jaguar? Yes. “I was
brought into it because Sankeys hadn’t made a very good job of the rear end of the saloon Jaguar, in fact it was very poor.
In those days all motor cars had a terrific amount of lead loading, and Jaguars in particular, because of their beautiful shape. The rear roof corner panel had to be two flows and it was bad, and we had to put the shape in to help the lead loaders. I, as a partner, was doing that, wheeling those corner panels.” Ted thinks it was probably Harry Teather, who had started with Swallow in Blackpool, who brought Abbey Panels in. “Arthur Whittaker was the buyer, and later became deputy chairman, but Harry was a cross between buyer and production man. He was a very necessary part of Jaguar – Sir William Lyons never kept anybody otherwise. He expected a lot, he took a lot out of himself and expected the same from other people, and Harry was one of these.”
I asked Ted if he’d been aware of Lyons earlier. “Yes, when they came to Coventry as S.S., I knew that if I wanted to go places, that firm was going there. And I was working for them all, don’t forget.”
One of the original tools for the ‘E’ type bonnet’s nose panel, photographed just after it had been made.
This letter hung framed on Ted Loades’ office wall! The contents of the letter – dated 19th May 1955
Dear Mr. Loades,
Mr. Barnes advises me that you have proposed a figure of £258 for the first Le Mans body and £230 each for the balance of five.
These figures are extremely high, bearing in mind the fact that these bodies are very similar to the XK ‘D’ model – the rear half being pretty well identical.
However, I confirm that we will meet these costs, or something less, the final settlement to be subject to Mr. Barnes being satisfied with your figures.