Les Leston – the man who more or less invented the go-faster car accessory business – has died at the age of 91.
In the 1960s, the great days of the boy-racer era, every well-dressed Mini or Anglia would wear a Leston wood-rim steering wheel and parp through a Leston chrome exhaust extension.
Then, as motor-racing safety rules became tighter, the Leston emporium in London’s High Holborn became the first one-stop shop for F1-standard helmets, flame-proof overalls and thin-soled driving boots.
But few realise that Les Leston (born Alfred Lazarus Fingleston) was also an award-winning teenage musician – in 1939 he was drummer for The Clay Pigeons, the London jazz band led by Belgian trumpeter and racing driver Johnny Claes – and a former works F1 driver, albeit briefly, for BRM, Cooper and Connaught. The main image shows him driving a BRM P25 at the 1957 British Grand Prix at Aintree.
In the 1950s he was a very successful F3 campaigner in Coopers and his own Leston Special, winning the British F3 Championship in 1954, and he also raced a factory Aston Martin DBR1 in classics races such as Le Mans and the Nurburgring 1000Km.
After a bad accident in the Caen Grand Prix in an F2 Lotus this redoubtable character became almost unbeatable in British GT racing in his Lotus Elite, which carried the registration DAD10, or Daddy-O – a friendly term among jazz musicians.
words: Simon Taylor