Registration SFL 256K
Chassis Number AB1AA0002
Engine Number 12H5H1244
Odometer reading 7,500 miles
Estimate £18,000 - £22,000
The AF Spider was a joint venture between the race car sleuth, Colin Crabbe, also the man behind Antique Automoblies, the complete Automobilist and the designer, Alexander ‘Sandy’ Fraser. Colin Crabbe, the larger than life character whose company Antique Automobiles was involved in, amongst many things automobile related, Grand Prix racing.
Not only did Colin give Neil Corner his one and only Grand Prix drive but later managed the well known team members and drivers such as Vic Elford and Ronnie Peterson. Later, Colin famously discovered many interesting and valuable motor cars, firstly in Brazil and then Cuba. During those Grand Prix years, his association with Alexander ‘Sandy’ Fraser, who was a Morgan three-wheeler fanatic, led to a project to produce a three-wheel production car that was fast, light, safe and could be used on a daily basis resulting in a nostalgically styled, but astonishingly rapid three wheeled sports car inspired by the like of pre- war Morgan.
Named the AF Spider, the AF representing Alexander Fraser, it claimed 0-60 in less than six seconds; thus outpacing a Porsche 911. Production cars were fibreglass, but this unique prototype was hand constructed in marine ply and aluminium and slightly longer as its glorious ‘deco’ style boat tail accentuates. The Spider was constructed in hardwood with mahogany faced marine ply and aluminium. Mechanically, the cars were largely BMC based. Motoring journals were very impressed with the Spider in 1971. Motor devoted a three-page road test to the AF while Autocar concluded “the most stable and delightful three-wheeler we have ever driven.” Despite its extreme rarity, the AF Spider is acknowledged in Georgano’s Encyclopaedia of Motor Manufacturers. In total around seven Spiders and five Grand Prix’s models were made between 1969 and 1980. These Spiders are extremely fast with the Grand Prix model able to reach 140mph!
This early example, produced during Crabbe’s involvement is a unique long wheel base prototype built for Crabbe’s 6ft 6in frame and powered by an Oselli tuned twin carburettor 1,275cc engine. It was the featured press car and then subsequently became a Crabbe family keepsake, spending most of the subsequent 39 years as a runaround at their Aberdeenshire Estate. In 2009, this AF Spider was an invited guest at Mini’s 50th celebration at Goodwood when Sandy Fraser was reunited with it. Colin Crabbe parted with the Spider in 2010, the 2nd owner being a retired RAF Vulcan pilot, at which time it had covered only 5,000 miles with a further 2,500 more having been covered subsequently. The current owner, purchased the car from the 2nd owner, the perfectly sound wooden body had been carefully prepared and rejuvenated with eight coats of marine varnish by notable Starcraft and Riva restorer Terry Dann, who is also known for building the iconic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wooden ‘boat tail’ for the original 1968 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film. Whilst being very careful not to over-restore this unique vehicle, the partially exposed engine compartment and ancillaries have been detailed, the custom made boot rack and wheels have been shot blasted and painted. The charming perambulator hood frame was restored, the fabric remaining original whilst the aluminium bonnet was carefully polished.
This AF Spider is UK registered, the original green log book also accompanying the current V5C registration document. The voluminous history file includes the AF Spider original sales brochure, a signed photograph of Colin Crabbe with Ronnie Petersen, the original Autocar and Motor features plus other press articles of the period mainly featuring this actual car. There are also several photographs of this motor car including, a 1970’s photograph of the car in Aberdeenshire and at Goodwood in 2009 and several within a dedicated chapter on the AF within a signed hard back copy of “Thrill of the Chase” by Colin Crabbe’s autobiography. Numerous service bills, letters from both Sandy Fraser and Colin Crabbe to the second owner and old MOT’s etc. are also included. This Spider, with its fascinating history, may appeal to either a Mini or Microcar collector, and with hints of a Gipsy Moth and Slipper Launch about it, may equally tempt a vintage plane or boat enthusiast, or maybe, an enthusiast who wants a piece of unique British motoring history.
To be offered at Historics Auctioneers March 2nd Ascot Racecourse sale