In June 2022 the sevening community received the sad news that Westfield Sports Cars had entered administration. If a new owner cannot be found for the Midlands UK based car it will be the end of the road for the car that so many drivers around the world love.
In 1983 the company was founded by Chris Smith, who had a dream to build a replica of the 1956 Lotus XI sports car that made a name for itself at events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The name came from the home where Smith built that first kit, Westfield House.
It was the move to making the Lotus Seven replica, with the Westfield 7SE, that caught on with more car enthusiasts. It also landed it in court with Caterham Cars for design copyright infringement, and won its case, meaning Westfield had to substantially alter the look of its cars. So while still sharing the look , Westfield and Caterham differ in the construction with Westfield preferring to use the glass fibre body method that Lotus has traditionally used rather than the aluminium used by Caterham. The other difference was to put a Rover V8 engine into the chassis of the SEi model. Hagerty’s James Mills drove one at the time of its launch, in 1991 and reported that, “it wasn’t only that it boasted acceleration to peel back your eyelids (0-60mph in 3.6 seconds) and handling that called for the driver to carry spare underwear at all times; the SEiGHT spat fuel all over the windscreen and across your forehead and hair every time you accelerated at full-throttle.”
In 2000, the Megabusa (a motorbike engine car) was launched, powered by a 178bhp, 1.3-litre engine from a Suzuki Hayabusa, which used the same six-speed sequential gearbox as the motorcycle – a car that’s most often seen on the sprinting and track day events.
By 2001 Westfield launched the XTR which resembled Radical Sports Cars, ‘miniature Le Mans car’ the SR. At the end of 2006, founder Chris Smith sold the company to Frank Turner, a former main board director of Rolls-Royce and one-time managing director of Lucas Aerospace. Frank’s son, Julian, took over and launched Westfield Autonomous Vehicles, developing driverless vehicle technology as seen at Heathrow airport. In 2019, the company bought another kit car maker, Chesil.
In 2007, its Sport Jubilee Edition model was chosen by Francie Clarkson, to take part in an endurance rally. And reported “…if you like driving a proper, no-frills car on proper, no-frills roads, and in a competition, it’s brilliant. And at just less than £20,000 for the basic Sport model, it’s good value too.” https://www.supercars.net/forum/threads/clarksons-wife-drives-the-westfield-sport-jubilee.13357/
Owners and drivers whether you speak to them on circuit, or the road always speak fondly of their ‘westie’ let’s hope the friendship with Caterham, GBS, MK and Raptor owners continues for many years to come both on the road and the circuit. Photos C.Abbott and thanks to Hagerty Insurance, and supercars.net