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Phil Gregory and the birth of the Pembleton Part 2

Part one can be found in ePAG30

So…..Here’s part 2 of my jottings on the creation of ‘The Grasshopper’…. Lets once again journey back in time and look into the Racing Notebook of Albert Crackleport….

But let’s fast forward to the Easter Holiday 1999 .... and an unveiling in Phil’s workshop .... but no… not another ‘Scrap Heap Racer’ for the kid.... No .... Shock Horror .... Lengths of 1" tube and 2" x 1" box section and 1" strap ... ... All brand new! ! ! !

"I’ve got the steel in especially because I knew you were coming and like a good project ... Lets build a 2CV based three wheeler, but not on a 2CV chassis." That was it!! No plans, just a shed full of steel and a Mig welder….and of course parked outside various 2CV’s ready and willing to give parts to the cause.

No plans ? Well the 'Grasshopper' was never designed on the outset to be anything other than a bit of holiday fun..(In fact the word Pembleton wasn’t even thought of until months after). So there we are, positioning chassis rails on the workshop floor, sitting on them, holding imaginary steering wheels and working somewhere within the chalk marked measurements of a 2CV wheelbase. What a brilliant holiday.

Didn’t take long to discover that we could discard the spring canisters and position the rear suspension arm exactly where we wanted it, and even less time to use part of the chassis as the spring seat. Already we were building a 2CV based three wheeler with a lower centre of gravity than anything previously built!

To maintain vintage looks Phil was adamant that he didn’t want anything forward of the engine. Besides what complications to get the chassis to dog leg under the engine to use the engine original mounts ... (well as you know it doesn’t.) The engine is supported from the top as in many motorcycles. GENIUS! Even though I say it myself! !

That’s how it seemed to go over the next two days…design problems seemed to solve themselves. Well almost but you understand what I mean don’t you. - When something’s right... - everything goes right.

Easter holiday over and a rather unique rolling chassis was pushed under cover ready for next time. Or so I thought!

Sometime in May 1999 a letter arrives through the Crackleport letter box, it’s from Phil, and contains details about a sighting in Ireland of a 2CV based three wheeler. There’s a picture too to confirm.

Loaded up with camping gear and two bicycles it looks similar to our design ... how can that be ... disappointed! You bet I was! We've been robbed! Hang on ... that’s our chassis! The wily old fox ... ... He’s finished the car and it’s on the road….

Here’s Old No1 posing somewhere in Ireland on the maiden trip

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The Ireland tour was almost trouble free, and considering the car was only road registered the previous week a faulty fuel pump can be classed more of an irritation than a proper breakdown. Although having to reverse up steep hills to help maintain fuel pressure did make for a rather interesting dash for the return ferry. (All adds to the adventure I say.)

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Back in Worcestershire Old No1 was causing quite a stir. Despite what one would call a ‘Rustic Appearance’ there seemed to be a genuine consensus that this little car might just be what certain kit car enthusiasts/buyers have been waiting for. All the rumours about being built for 'thirty bob' are true ... well almost ... 30 quid actually. I know all you owners are shaking your head in wonderment at the quality finish but I’ll remind you all again the build wasn’t about making a product to sell, it was about building a toy for a laugh.

It was my turn then, spring bank holiday and back to Bayton, to start work on No2 chassis.. A few alterations were incorporated so that the rear suspension used all 2CV parts. (Old No1 has a coil over shock system at the rear)

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It’s at this point that PEMBERTON becomes PEMBLETON

Still the favourable comments about the design, ‘vintageness looks’ uniqueness continue to be heard. Friends and family want one.. "There’s something in this you know"

Phil at the time was deeply involved in the Gregori kit car project with brother Roger and as luck would have it had already pre-booked a stand at the 1999 Donnington Kit Car Show. My chassis was approaching rolling stage and would be allocated a small corner of the stand. We need leaflets to hand out?.Well aware that No1 wasn't exactly a prize winning showroom example and there was no other completed car at the time to photograph a ?ye olde worde? sepia look to our handout was decided. Phil would pose in leather motoring coat and flying helmet. Additional stuck on paper ? handlebar? moustache, pipe and picnic hamper would give that true motoring pioneer look.

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Dick Dastardly look-a-like Phil

What about this piece of memorabilia then? The first advertising leaflet for 'The Pembleton Grasshopper' With the immortal line ‘ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE PEMBLETON EXPERIENCE’

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WOW! Must have been listening to Jimmy Hendrix at the time And how did it go at the show ? We sold a kit ! Chassis No4 was bought by Gerry Fosh. A man of vision and the first ever customer of the Pembleton Motor Company. From small acorns..and all that ... The rest is history

Carry on Pembling
Albert Crackleport
(Hope Phil will forgive me, he thought these photos had been destroyed many years ago)

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