The GT was a car made by Rochdale between 1957 and 1960. The GT was the most popular Rochdale car of all after selling around 1350 units. The GT looked a lot like the Jaguar E-Type which was launched four years later.
The Rochdale came about when the wife of one of the founders (Harry Smith) wanted a 'proper' car. She wanted a car that had a sturdy roof and rear seats to fit their children. With the help of Richard Parker, Frank and Harry set about designing their new car, called the GT. The car was a modified F-type bodyshell to which they added a roof and adjusted the styling to accustom the new feature.
The body was more practical than that of the ST due to its design being stiffer so therefore being strong enough to be used on an unboxed chassis.
The GT came with some features that were rare on kit cars at the time such as a fitted curved windscreen and opening windows. The bodyshell was specifically designed for the surplus of Ford Popular and 8 chassis that were being removed from their knackered bodies in the late 1950s. The inner wheel arches, bulkhead and floor sections were all bonded in like the ST. The dashboard featured a centre panel which was fitted with Ford instruments. The dashboard had glove pockets on either side.
The GT shells with the doors, all windows and bonnet ready fitted were sold for £140. The GT sold well as it had hit the market at the right time and because it looked good. People were also attracted by the fact that it had space for small rear seats and it was easy to fit. It wasn't long before the bosses at Rochdale had to take on extra staff to help cope with the demand for their car. A body took one week to complete, with no forced drying process. On a sunny day, the bodies were lined up in the road outside the factory to cure.
The GT was featured by both Motor and Autosport magazines and they were both impressed at the time.
Most GT bodies were fitted on the Ford chassis they were designed for but a small number were sold with Rochdale's own tubular steel chassis which was a large diameter twin-tube unit with its own fibreglass floorpan. This was then bonded to either GT or Riviera bodies. The lightweight chassis could be supplied with swing-axle independent front suspension, Watt linkage rear axle location and telescopic spring damper units all round.
One of the most interesting was a Cooper Mark IV chassis with a supercharged Ford 100E engine, MG TD gearbox and independent suspension all round. It claimed a performance of 0-60mph in 10secs and a top speed of 112mph. Other cars used the purpose-designed GTI/R chassis from Buckler; of the two surviving today, one is powered by an MGA engine.
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