“David had worked with Rod, and he was the catalyst for my passion for ACs,” continues Phillips.
“We did a road trip to Angoulême in his ex-Betty Haig 16/80 [C&SC, December 2016], which confirmed to me how special these cars are, particularly one with great history.
“There was no way I could afford one then, but David was wonderfully generous and those formative years shaped my desire to own a 16/80 one day.”
Originality is key in the AC’s well-kept cabin
The ex-works demonstrator held a special appeal to Phillips.
“It was the first production short-chassis model, and was very active in trials and rallies before WW2,” he explains.
“David bought it in 1985 and immediately entered it for the VSCC Lakeland Trial.
“We had a memorable trip driving to the Lakes and back. The tyres were so hard that nothing happened when we let the air out.”
Geared at 20mph per 1000rpm, the AC is a comfortable cruiser at 70mph
“Going up the spectacular Drumhouse section we crushed a brake pipe, which made coming down the steep slate-mine track a real challenge,” recalls Phillips.
“A local enthusiast, Malcolm Storey, kindly offered to help fix the car in his garage but the repair had limited effect.
“The next day it snowed, but we managed to make it back to Dorset on the motorway without any brakes.”
The ENV ’box features a short remote lever
New priorities in life with a family and starting his own business led Phillips to step back from his old-car hobby, but in 2014 that long-held desire to own a pre-war sports car was rekindled: “By then I was in a lucky position to be able to buy, but it had to be English and a serviceable proposition.
“I’d considered various options including Frazer Nash, Lagonda and Alvis. I’d looked at a few before David suggested DPD.
“After a tough trials life with the VSCC, it had been sitting at the back of his garage.
“The car was very original but the engine was shot and needed a replacement block. I loved the idea, but had to be sensible about what I was taking on.”
A slab petrol tank and two spare wheels mounted behind the tub gave many inter-war cars a distinct shape