Interesting Cars with Interesting Histories - Part 2
We turn our attention to South Africa and give consideration to an Armstrong Siddeley, Mark 2, 14/4 Mendip 2/3 seater car, manufactured in the November of 1926. At this time the prospective purchaser of a 14/4 had a choice of just over a dozen body styles. This particular vehicle was imported by Swift Co. of Durban, South Africa along with a batch of 30 Cotswold 5 seat open tourers.
The first owner was John Weston, pioneer aviator and overland traveller, who collected the car and drove it to his farm named ‘Admiral Farm’ at Bergville some 200 Kilometres from the sea port of Durban. The Mendip with licence plate number NUT 4 was used as an every- day vehicle making many runs across rough terrain to Kimberley, the famous diamond mine city in the Orange Free State. At this time John was attempting to build aircraft at the airport there. He succeeded and later started the Weston Aviation Company. His main business was farming and having visited a Bank in Drakensville he obtained funds to purchase cattle, sadly on his return home he was murdered by his workers. The Mendip now being 24 years old was pushed further back into the barn and eventually left unused until 1972 when it was sold to a scrap and used car dealer in another farm town called Utrecht.
Here it lay for a further 43 years midst a growing collection of semi and wrecked cars until all 1000 vehicles were purchased by a consortium of business men from Durban, one of whom was a friend of Alan Evans, the present owner and restorer of the car. A deal done, the car was transported to Alan’s home. On the way a rest was taken at the premises of the Vintage Car Club. Alan made the brave statement that he would restore the car and drive it back in one year’s time. Though a mammoth task, by working six days a week from 8am till 5pm each day he completed the restoration and did indeed drive the car back to the Club on schedule. Much to his surprise and pleasure he was awarded the ‘Car of the Year’ trophy.
Note :- The Winterton Museum, South Africa features the adventurous life of the first owner John Weston, and we believe this car is celebrated by a large image on one of the museum walls. An interesting Website