“When a handful of enthusiasts in the Bristol area conceived the idea of 500cc racing, little did they know how popular the class would become,” we mused in 1951.
“These machines, powered by a single-cylinder engine, are now putting up terrific performances, and the new Kieft has recently taken the lap record at Goodwood, at 84.55mph.”
We rightly foresaw such lightweight and simple cars, initially home-built by fun-starved enthusiasts, as the way forward through post-war austerity and rationing.
We said: “The problem facing the constructor was roughly this: to build a chassis to take the power unit (the same twin-OHC Norton [motorcycle] engine as was previously fitted in Stirling Moss’s Cooper) that would be lighter than that of other 500cc cars but at the same time more rigid, with suspension providing roadholding at least equal to that of its competitors.”
This was achieved using a steel tube chassis with a stiff box centre section, swing-axle rear suspension (with a clever cable set-up managing weight transfer) and a double-wishbone front. The fuel tank was in the box, fore of the engine and gearbox, to maintain an even weight distribution.
The London-built car had virtually no testing before the 500 International Trophy at Goodwood, yet Moss – who had rushed there from Monza overnight – overcame “slight bothers” in the first heat (in which he came sixth) to finish the final a half-mile up on Alan Brown in his Cooper-Norton.
The little Kieft’s success continued with Don Parker winning the British F3 title in both 1953 and 1954.