View Full Version : help help! Lea Francis!

11-15-2004, 01:08 PM
seems a good place to beg for any old info on my car!


this is a Lea Francis rebodied around 1948 By Joe Gertler of Raceway garage (NYC) and owned/raced by Dr. Ryan of pelam manor NY. the car was later changed to a c/a class dragster known as the rumplstilskin and painted brite metal flake green. the original engine (1800cc alky leaF) seems to have ended up in Ryans MGTC (by 49') and it seems this car was running a 331

any info or speculation would be great! the MGTC was pale blue and last seen in northern PA around 1980 or so


11-15-2004, 01:11 PM
just fyi the car is reduced to the body only and was a bit hacked to clear the dragster roll bar. The car was bought by us in around 1970 from a dealer in northern NJ (randy?)

we were very lucky to obtain the original pictures from the son of the builder, thanks to classic and sports car mag!

11-15-2004, 03:05 PM
John (Coldplugs) might be a good source of potential information on this car. I'll send him an e-mail and draw his attention to this thread.

11-17-2004, 12:43 AM
I'm afraid I can't help with this one. A few possible sources come to mind:

1) Try the library at Watkins Glen - you might find a reference in an old race program. They list their collection online at www.racingarchives.org (https://www.racingarchives.org) . I haven't had any luck with them using e-mail so I'd suggest calling if it looks like they can help.

2) Try the website contacts at www.vscca.org (https://www.vscca.org) . Maybe you can get someone to ask around at club meetings. Lots of those guys have good memories.

3) Old racing programs show up on eBay now & then. Set a "favorite search" up for a few potential race venues - don't forget Thompson in CT since it was around in the early fifties.

4) I've got a few boxes of magazines from the early fifites with a few SCCA regional issues that I'm going through. I'll keep your car in mind & see if find any references.

5) Is there an active L-F club anywhere? They're usually a good source.

11-17-2004, 02:43 AM
Thanks john! I'm basicly up on all of that and am reduced to running into the right guy. I attend all the vintage races i can afford to and talk to anyone who will listen.

some times you get lucky..... this last Limerock i ran into Gary Ford, he worked on the pit crew for the LeaF engined MGTC when it was driven by Kovoleski, but never really met Ryan or knew he owned another car. just a little extra puzzle part. i have bought piles of racing programs and every 1950 car book i've seen available for several years now. the library is sure looking good! I have even talked to John Fitch directly about it as Gertler built his first race car. everything seems a near miss. all the guys i can find who could answer for sure have passed away. Gertler of course, James Pauley, Dr. Ryan, and oscar K just can't quite remember the specifics

I'm dead set on this being my Vscca car and am willing to sell my MGA twincam to fund it. I'd just hate to get 75% done and find i'd gone about it the wrong way

11-17-2004, 02:57 AM
holy smokes! i just got a look at your site and ran though the thompson pictures!!!!!

btw I just reunited Alex Saidel with FS-105 , it has been stashed for 20+ years here in baltimore by a very good friend of mine. when he offered to sell i called Alex and he ran right down here the next day to pick it up! So one more Jomar will return to the racetracks of new england!

11-17-2004, 03:03 AM
btw #12 on your research section looks VERY much like the work of raceway garage (gertler) do you have any additional pictures? Gertler took great pride in small details like the insides of the doors. where is this car?

is this tha car that sold as a lister in hemmings a year or 2 ago?

11-18-2004, 12:03 AM
btw #12 on your research section looks VERY much like the work of raceway garage (gertler) do you have any additional pictures? Gertler took great pride in small details like the insides of the doors. where is this car?

is this tha car that sold as a lister in hemmings a year or 2 ago?

[/ QUOTE ]

I have no additional pictures. Yes - it's the car sold in Hemmings as a Lister (I don't think anyone thinks it's a Lister but that's what the paperwork read). I think the car was in PA. I just sent an e-mail to the current owner asking if he's had any luck identifying it and suggesting a possible Joe Gertler connection in case he hasn't. He may know where the pictures were taken.

It sounds like you've covered all the bases trying to get more info on the L-F. The car's old enough for VSCCA eligibility, isn't it? Just curious as to what else you need?

It looks like a really interesting vehicle.

[ Happy to hear of the Jomars return. Isn't that a great shot of Ray S. and Alex on the last Thompson page? ]

11-18-2004, 11:21 AM
there are only 2 (of 200 claimed by his son!)known gertler cars right now. Mine and a chrysler special owned by Dan Rapley. I think 2 of the midget racers are floating around with some airplane guys as well. I'll go over all of the son's pictures again but im sure i would have remembered that one. Gertlers son says he has boxes of pictures removed from the shop walls in the early 70's when they moved from the Bronx to Long Island, but i have never gotten to look them over (he is in the FL panhandle now)
Cars were , if you can imagine, only a side thing for them as racing boats and airplanes were first interest. there are even pictures of Bluebird in Gertlers shop for custom spats over the rear wheels

I'd love to talk to the gent with this car, can you pass him my contact info?


48' LeaF
59' MGA twink
67' tr-4
68' xk-e

Simon TR4a
11-18-2004, 02:34 PM
Kerry that's a great looking car! I can't help you in any way with your research but I did enjoy looking at the pictures.
It seems quite sophisticated for what it is, e.g. the nice compound curve of the scuttle rising to the windscreen, the tail looks a bit like Fraser Nash bodies of that era, as does the shape of the grille.
Wonderful car.

11-18-2004, 08:04 PM
funny you would say Fraser Nash. When this was an unknown maker car , the gents at the Fraser Nash site sent the pictures of the car in current condition to Classic and Sportscar. About a week after the issue hit US newstands i got a call from Gertlers son offering to send me pictures of the car when fairly new. this was after 30 years of it going unknown and passing from friend to friend before it ended up with me. Just fyi it basicly is a C jag in form, even 96" wheelbase.

body only in drag racing paint..


and stripped for the body work to begin




11-20-2004, 12:31 AM

I'd love to talk to the gent with this car, can you pass him my contact info?

[/ QUOTE ]

He hasn't responded to my e-mail yet. If he does, I'll give him your e-mail address.