View Full Version : Cyril Kieft.........

06-24-2004, 01:51 PM
Just found out through the latest edition of Motor Sport Magazine that Cyril Kieft has died at the age of 92. I know that one of our members, John (coldplugs) was fond of his cars, and was on friendly terms with him. My condolences John.

06-24-2004, 02:07 PM
One of our local vintage shops had a Kieft a few years ago. It was a neat little formula car.
I really like the sports cars he built (pictured below). A great little "cottage-industry" company.
Stirling Moss worked for Kieft at one point. Sad to see anyone pass on, but 92 is a pretty good run.


06-24-2004, 10:05 PM
92 is a good run. He designed some really cool cars throughout his life and now they will serve as an outstanding legacy.

06-24-2004, 11:42 PM
I wasn't aware of this until today. (Steve - thank you for the note).

We're gradually losing the car makers, drivers, designers, and enthusiasts of the immediate post WW2 period. Many folks, myself included, feel that the fifties were the real golden age of racing and rallying and people like Cryil Kieft made that happen. The big names like Chapman, Moss, Ferguson, and so on have books written about them, many published interviews, and video recordings. But some of the most interesting stories revolve around the Kiefts, Connaughts, HWM's and the like. The best book I've read on the era was by a mechanic (Alf Francis) that most people today have never heard of.

Mr. Kieft's passing reminds me that we're running out of time to get some of this history recorded. Here in the US we have some stories that probably will never be written down. I think it would be great to have at least one good (accurate) historical reference covering the whole sports car/road racing 50's scene - everything from whatshername at "MG Mitten" to Inskip to Hambro to Dave Garroway to Chuck Daigh. (Actually, it'd have to be 1000+ pages and not many people would read it, but still....)

Years ago, we had a Kieft F3 car and I remember that it had the most remarkable rear end setup I've ever seen. It was independent with a single inboard rear (drum) brake. There were no rear springs, just a strong rubber bungee sort of thing that went transversely under the car and was tied to the locating member by a thick wire at each end. The whole car was pretty solidly built compared to other F3 cars of the era.

Nial mentioned that Stirling Moss worked for Kieft which was true, at least for a short time when he was made a company director. I've always wondered if he actually got paid for that.

92 years is plenty for most folks although Mr. Kieft seemed to have a lot more in him. However, I suspect he'll be happy to join his wife who, if I remember correctly, died about 3 years ago.

06-25-2004, 12:04 AM
"The best book I've read on the era was by a mechanic (Alf Francis) that most people today have never heard of".

Alf Francis was Stirling Moss's mechanic wasn't he? I have certainly heard of him though. I would agree about the fifties being the golden age of motor racing and rallying, although the sixties held some appeal too. Mind you, I was way too young to have taken much interest in 50's racing, and not much until the late sixties either. It's all been retrospective for me. I once asked Stirling Moss who, in his opinion, was the best driver killed before his time, and his answer was "Jimmy Clark". Fangio, he said, was the best to have survived, and probably best overall. Jimmy Clark was fast in anything, as was Moss, but I'll bet that Schumacher, despite his abilities, would not be as versatile.

06-25-2004, 11:17 AM
Yes, AF was Moss's mechanic and Rob Walker's later on. I think he started with HWM shortly after leaving military service in England (he was from Poland originally).

I agree completely that the sixties had some great racing - maybe I should have said 1950-1964 or something. Most of my fifties knowledge was retrospective also but my interest level was heightened by seeing many of that era's cars here in the US a few years after their heyday. I started losing interest in racing itself when rear engines and wide tires made the cars handle so much better.

It's hard (but great fun) to compare drivers from different eras. I don't know how their abilities would compare, but I don't think drivers from the last 30 years or so can approach the earlier bunch with respect to personality and approachability.

06-25-2004, 11:30 AM
Absolutely.........can you imagine sitting in a pub chatting to Michael Schumacher, even long after he retires? Not going to happen. Yet I spent a wonderful time doing that with Stirling Moss. The man was my boyhood hero, and meeting him as an adult only served to increase my respect for the man. A likeable person with no airs and graces, and certainly no inflated ego. He was telling me about what a nice guy Derek Bell is, and asked if I'd met him.

Another great guy from the same era, if a little later? David Hobbs!! Took me to lunch once! I tell you, these old-school racers are gentlemen and enthusiasts. We will not see their like again. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cryin.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/nonod.gif

06-25-2004, 02:50 PM
Wow! You've hob-nobbed with the best of 'em. I've been to events where Stirling Moss made an appearance but never had the pleasure.

The closest I came was at a classic show at the NEC one year where he spent a couple of hours wandering the various stands. It seemed like someone approached him every 30 seconds or so to introduce themselves and I doubt he got to see much.

He was the official (or maybe honorary) starter at a rally a couple of years ago. Once all the cars had left, he was mobbed by a bunch of young kids, mostly boys, looking for an autograph. I'd guess they were about 10 years old. He stayed for quite a while accomodating them. (I was really impressed by the younger generation's choice of heros until I heard several of the kids in back waving papers asking "Who is he, anyway?") This was shortly after he'd been knighted.

Many of the big names started garages or dealerships, and took an active part in daily operations. I wonder if that's still the case.

06-25-2004, 04:16 PM
Since we are bragging, I have to add that I've also chatted with David Hobbs. It was in Daytona, around '86. I was staying in the Hilton and I went down to the bar for a drink. The place was empty except for this Brit sitting at the bar. I realized it was 'obbs and we had a nice chat about cars for about a half an hour. A nice fellow!
It's easy to see some of the oldies at the Lime Rock Vintage event but they are usually swamped by fans...Phil Hill, Moss, John Fitch and even Brock Yates. I'm sure John has seen all these fellows at Lime Rock too.
In the old days, it seemed that it was easier to get close to big-name drivers. Once, I was hanging around at Bridgehampton after a Trans Am (around '69) and Roger Penske asked me to get Mark Donahue a beer! (which I promptly did....my first brush with fame) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cheers.gif

06-25-2004, 05:25 PM
Darn it, I must be getting old. It doesn't seem that long ago that I watched Stirling Moss, with dark curly hair, driving a Kieft at Castle Combe . . . tempus fugit /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif