Originally a bicycle manufacturer, Coventry based Lea Francis moved into making cars in 1903 and motorcycles in 1911. They worked with other companies including Singer and Vulcan producing a variety of cars often using bought in components including engines. A significant move as far as this car is concerned was their mid 1920's decision to use Meadows 1 ½ litre overhead valve four cylinder engines.
In 1928 they introduced the S Type (later renamed the Hyper) which was the first British production car to be supplied with a supercharger as standard equipment. They used Meadows 4ED engines fitted with Cozette number 8 superchargers for road cars and Cozette number 9s for competition cars. They were undoubtedly successful in their day with Kaye Don winning the Ulster TT which ran over 30 laps of the 13 ½ mile Ards circuit and they are still actively campaigned in vintage racing.
According to the Lea Francis Owners Club this car is one of only 40 of the approximately 180 Hypers built. It was first registered in December 1929 though I understand it was completed in the latter part of 1928. It has chassis number 14100 and engine number 9489 and comes with a buff card log book recording that its current owner acquired it in May 1967.
He confirmed that it carries its original Cross and Ellis metal body which was fabric covered in 1969. He also told me that he has rebuilt the engine with its latest iteration incorporating a Laystall crankshaft running in phosphor bronze main bearing shells and it has Citroen DS19 connecting rods and shell bearings, a Landrover oil pump which delivers 50psi when the engine is hot, an external oil filter, modified water piping to improve water flow to the rear of the engine and a link between the throttle linkage and the supercharger which shuts closes off the oil flow when the throttle is closed.
The car has a stainless steel exhaust system, the dynamo has been rebuilt and a new cut-out has been fitted, the radiator has been recored, the wings are aluminium not steel, it has the correct CAV headlamps and a 25 gallon fuel tank and although it is not a legal requirement it has very recently passed an MoT test.
The car has clearly been very well maintained as it is well presented and really nice to drive. The chassis is rigid, the suspension is in very good order, it has strong brakes with positive steering so you can enjoy spirited driving (within speed limits of course!) and if you want to go even faster a Cozette number 9 supercharger is available by separate negotiation.
All in all this Hyper lives up to their very well-deserved reputation and I think it is fair to say that it also offers very good value when compared with many other makes of vintage sports cars which will cost you a lot more and won’t go anywhere near as well!