When researching the Jensen brothers, I discovered that their second design, after the one based on the Austin Seven, used a Standard 9 chassis and running gear. This was later developed by the Avon Coachworks, Warwick, where Alan Jensen worked for a while.
Founded in 1919
Avon or to give it its proper title New Avon Body Co. Ltd.was established in Wharf Street, Warwick, in 1919, by Mr Tilt and Captain Phillips. Initially most of the bodies they built were for Lea-Francis, but they soon added Austin and Standard to their portfolio. In fact during the 1930s, they became most renowned for the work they did for the Standard Motor Company, Coventry. In that regard they were in competition with Willam Lyon’s Swallow (SS) company.
In 1938, the company was absorbed by the Maudslay Motor Group of Coventry and moved to the Millers Road premises in Warwick, where they would remain for some 50 years. Incidentally, this factory was only a stones throw from where Donald Healey established his company in 1945.
Post World War Two
After World War Two there were a number of management changes as a result of Mr Cyril Maudslay’s retirement. One of the consequences of those changes was that Avon discontinued bodybuilding and instead concentrated on body repairs. In 1973 a Mr. Graham Hudson, who ran his own body repair business, bought Avon with the intention of amalgamating the two businesses. However, Avon’s reputation as a respected body builder in the 1930s caused Hudson to see potential in re-entering that field of activity. Consequently, he formed a division called Avon Special Products in 1979.
At the beginning they undertook conversion work on Land Rovers and Range Rovers. Soon after they produced the stunning Jaguar Avon-Stevens XJC convertible. Only 12 were built, plus some conversion kits.
By this time Avon had been bought by a Wawickshire based car dealership company called Ladbrokes and was now called Ladbroke – Avon. In 1980 the Ladbroke – Avon coachbulding company launched an estate (station wagon) version of the Jaguar XJ series III. This conversion was very well received by the motoring press and won a gold award for special coachwork at the 1980 Birmingham Motor Show. The quality of the conversion was good enough for Jaguar to allow its manufacturer’s warranty to still be valid.
Among other projects undertaken by Ladbroke – Avon, in the 1980s, were special versions of the Triumph Acclaim and the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.
Ladbroke – Avon ceased trading in 1986.
This article was originally produced for coachbuild.com, and was also published on the Car Scene International blog (where more pictures are available!). It is reproduced with the author’s permission.