Currently reading: Radford: Revived coachbuilder partners with Lotus for first model
British brand being revived by Jenson Button, Ant Anstead and Mark Stubbs will use Hethel components for debut car
Autocar
News
3 mins read
17 March 2021

Radford, the historic coachbuilding firm being revived by Formula 1 champion Jenson Button, TV mechanic Ant Anstead and designer Mark Stubbs, has partnered with Lotus for its debut model, set to be revealed later this year. 

Both Radford (in its original iteration) and Lotus were founded in 1948 and Anstead welcomed the opportunity to unite the two historically British brands: "We are proud of the British heritage of both of these companies and I cannot think of a better partnership to bring back Radford with. I already can’t wait to share the next.”

Details remain thin on the ground, but Radford has confirmed the car will be "based on Lotus technology". A preview image suggests it will take the form of a low-slung, retro-inspired coupé with a design that looks to emphasise aerodynamic efficiency. 

An extended rear deck behind the main cabin area implies that, like Lotus's production cars, Radford's first model will be mid-engined, although it remains to be seen whether the drivetrain from the outgoing Elise, Exige or Evora will be used wholesale.

Speaking recently to Autocar, Jenson Button suggested that the revived Radford outfit is more than a design house and will have tangible engineering impact on the cars despite the involvement of OEM partner companies.

"We're able to make things with a smaller workforce and the technologies we have in hand," he said. "Whether it's making parts or 3D printing, or making tooling for parts - we're able to make things a lot quicker than back in the day when Radford was first announced to the world.

"It's very different to coachbuilding 50-60 years ago. We are working hand in hand with an OEM [Lotus], so we're non-stop in talks and collaboration with the OEM we're working with on the first car."

Coachbuilder Radford - famous for its post-war creations - was founded by the eponymous Harold Radford in 1948. The company made its name reworking models from Bentley and Rolls-Royce and later did the same with the Mini, the Radford version of which was owned by all four members of The Beatles. Radford also helped develop a glassfibre body for a prototype version of the Ford GT40.

Radford has been owned by several figures since the 1970s, including renowned luxury car dealer HR Owen. It’s now co-owned by Button, Anstead and Stubbs, among others, and is set to reveal its first new model within weeks, according to a spokesperson.

Further details are being kept under wraps until then.

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“To be able to help revive this iconic name is such a special and unique opportunity,” said Button. “The Radford brand carries such prestige and magnetism for anyone with an appreciation of cars. The work that Harold Radford and his team were responsible for in the mid-20th century is simply incredible, so I jumped at the chance to join Ant and Mark in their quest to put the Radford name back in lights.”

Stubbs, who will oversee the brand’s new designs, added: “Harold Radford’s creations were the ultimate in personalised, tailored transport, and with the renaissance of the art of coachbuilding, now is the time to bring Radford back in contemporary form. We intend to create designs that will be true to the Radford legacy and go on to create a new heritage for this storied brand.”

The new venture has been in the pipeline for several years. Button will track test every car the company makes in order to deliver a "superlative driving experience," while Anstead will manage the coachbuilding itself.

“The time for a revival of proper coachbuilding is right now,” said Anstead. “People want something unique, something different and something tailor-made. That’s where Radford comes in. Our cars will offer the ultimate in global luxury and personalisation, blending British heart and soul, state-of-the-art technology with traditional craftsmanship.”

Although it has become relatively obscure in recent years, Radford’s coachbuilding attracted the attention of several celebrities in the 20th century. The company made its debut at the London motor show in 1951 with its Bentley Countryman.

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si73 17 March 2021
Look forward to seeing what they produce, as a coach builder, now would seem like the ideal opportunity to join up with wevc and use their skateboard EV chassis for some new coach built cars, under the Radford name.
The Colonel 17 March 2021
si73 wrote:

Look forward to seeing what they produce, as a coach builder, now would seem like the ideal opportunity to join up with wevc and use their skateboard EV chassis for some new coach built cars, under the Radford name.

Elsewhere, at the weekend, Jenson Button did say that they are working with a "British car maker" so wevc is a possibility. 

si73 17 March 2021
Interesting, look forward to finding out more.
jason_recliner 17 March 2021
si73 wrote:

Look forward to seeing what they produce, as a coach builder, now would seem like the ideal opportunity to join up with wevc and use their skateboard EV chassis for some new coach built cars, under the Radford name.

Agreed.  Seems like perfect synergy.

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