Chassis number: 52106
HWM was a famous racing name in the fifties; a British privateer operation, headed up by George Abecassis and John Heath. Following success in single seater formulas, HWM became the first proper marque to create a Jaguar-engined sports racing car. From 1953 to 1957, the team was involved in sports car racing both in Britain and on the continent, sometimes beating their Jaguar and Aston Martin Works competitors.
The first of the two late cars, 52106, took on the wonderful registration, HWM 1 that was reassigned by the works from an earlier HWM. Taken to the Mille Miglia as a factory entry in 1956 (car #545), HWM 1 unfortunately did not finish the race due to a grave accident with HWM marque owner, John Heath at the wheel. Following a works rebuild, the same chassis was used although replacement chassis rails were added, as was usual in this era of sports car racing. When the HWM was back to full fettle, it was driven down to Brighton by Noel Cunningham-Reid for the Speed Trials, which acted as a shakedown exercise. It was entered at Goodwood in September for Dick Protheroe to pilot and Cunningham-Reid won a race with it at the final Snetterton meeting of the year.
In 1957 HWM 1 was run as a works entry for a variety of drivers. The first official outing was at the Easter Monday Goodwood race meeting, driven by British race driver, Peter Blond. Blond went on to campaign HWM 1 on numerous occasions that year with Jack Fairman and Les Leston also having a turn. The car’s period driver list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of fifties British Sports Car racers!
HWM 1 was sold at the end of the ’57 season to ‘Team Speedwell’; a quartet of enthusiastic drivers based in Middlesex in the UK. Of these four, it was John Bekaert who largely drove the HWM, at a huge and packed programme of club races with much success. He apparently drove it to each meeting, relishing its performance on the road. It appears he relished this rather too much, as he recalled being caught on his way to Silverstone by the police at exactly 100mph over the speed limit! There are numerous photographs of the HWM in period copies of Autosportduring this season, capturing its active track programme.
The HWM passed between a handful of custodians before ending up with well-known historic racer, Kirk Rylands, who kept 52106 for a staggering 34 years and maintained it in excellent health. Rylands raced and rallied the HWM, working with the legendary preparer, Arthur Mallock to improve the handling and subsequent track prowess. He finally parted ways with HWM 1 in 2008 to Alfa guru, Paul Grist who carried out a total rebuild.
Our journey with HWM 1 began in early 2020 when, with the help of David Brazell of Brazell Engineering, we set out to return her to her resplendent 1957 Mille Miglia form and livery. Careful previous owners and David’s deft hand meant that HWM 1 was kept largely original. His excellent work earned a nomination in the Royal Automobile Historic Award’s Restoration of the Year category - HWM 1 came second. A ground-up mechanical rebuild and development in partnership with Sam Hancock got HWM 1 back to her former D-type slaying form and we were ready to take her racing! Gregor raced HWM1 to great success in the Woodcote trophy with wins at Donnington and Silverstone and pole starts at Revival and Spa.
HWM1 was sold in 2022 to an owner who realised his dream of returning her to the Mille Miglia. We sold her again in 2023 to a new owner who also took her to the Mille Miglia and carries on the line of passionate custodians who have cherished the small but mighty marque.