Rural life can give you a classic fix, if you know where to look

| 14 Nov 2011

The leaves are barely off the trees and I’ve already had the first couple of early morning starts that involved scraping ice from the windscreen before setting off for work.That onset of winter gets me thinking on the one hand about fitting the radiator muff to the Land-Rover and, on the other, browsing through a few photographs from earlier in the year simply to remind myself that occasionally there is a need for sun cream in this country.That trip into recent history also reminded me that it isn’t just classic cars that can turn heads. In fact, Britain’s rich mechanical history can be found all over the place – not just in show halls and on quiet B-roads.My trip to a farm park near Andover, for example: OK, so they are intended as play things for kids, but there are more than a handful of classic tractors littered over the site that got me prodding around and wondering just what it would take to get one of the Fordsons (below) going again.

Tucked around the back of a barn housing a Pets' Corner of rabbits and guinea pigs was an equally marvellous British Anzani Iron Horse (lead above and below). This bullish-looking piece of plough machinery was introduced in 1940, featuring a 4hp JAP engine, and was launched with the intention of helping to increase wartime food production.

Coincidentally, British Anzani was moved in 1938 to Hampton Hill in Middlesex – just a five-minute drive from the C&SC offices – after ex-JAP apprentice, Charles Henry Harrison took over as chief designer and managing director.

With a previous position as technical director of the British Motor Boat Manufacturing Company, it was only a matter of time before Harrison tried to take Anzani in yet another direction and, in 1954, a subsidiary of the company launched the Anzani Astra (below) – based on the JARC Motors Little Horse but fitted with Anzani’s 322cc ’bike engine. With a top speed of 55mph and fuel economy of 60mpg, it cost £347 on the road.

Of course, the Anzani engine was also fitted into the 1956 Powerdrive and the initial versions of the ’56 Berkeley Sports as well as offerings from Peel and Fairthorpe.If we go back even further into the history of the Anzani name, AC Cars directors, John Weller and John Portwine used a British Anzani 1496cc sidevalve motor in their light car while they were developing what would become the AC 2-litre engine.So, all of this just from spotting a motorised plough round the back of a barn. Definitely worth keeping your eyes peeled – you never know what you might turn up.