The car was a 2 + 2 coupe built on a standard VW platform with some minor upgrades to suspension components. The car was very well appointed and was powered by an Okrasa TSV 1300 modified VW 36hp engine. The Okrasa modified engine produced 54bhp which gave the Ascort a top speed of approx 95 mph which was considerably more than the KG of the day.
The cost of completing the cars was excessive and the project folded in 1961 after 19 bodies had been produced. The first 13 cars were completed, but the f inal 6 bodies were sold incomplete to the owners. Mirek Craney then continued with his fibreglass importing and manufacturing business "Hermex Corporation".
In January 2011 13 Ascorts are known to exist in Australia as follows. (Note that body numbers do not match the total number built.)
This car was restored a few years ago and was built from 2 cars. This car is fitted with ID plate 031.
This car was sold as an unfinished body. It sat incomplete for many years, but has recently been completed to a running state and has been used for some competition events. The owner says that he intends to complete it to its intended original condition in the future.
This car is fitted with ID plate 028. It is owned by the same owner as the blue car above. This car was Mirek Craney's personal car for approximately 20 years before being sold. In the 1980s it was purchased back by Mirek Craney's children following his death. It has subsequently changed hands several times.
This car is also owned by the owner of the above 2 cars. This car was originally exported to New Zealand in 1960 but was involved in a rear end accident and fell into a state of disrepair. This is an older photo and the car has been cut up to some degree since as it was used as a donor car for the top car's restoration. Moulds have been taken off the blue car above to enable this car to be rebuilt.
New South Wales
This car has been in the same family for the past 30 years.
This car has been in the same family for many years.
This car has been with the current owner for over 20 years, but it is not understood to be currently on the road. The photo dates back to the previous ownership. The red car in the photo is one of the Victorian cars.
This car was originally owned by TV personality Elaine McKenna. It was purchased by the father of the current owner in 1961 and has been in the same family since.
This car is believed to have originally been owned by architect Ernest Syka. It has been owned by the current owner since 1975. The car is not currently on the road.
This car has is fitted with ID plate 021. The car has some body and trim modifications and is owned by a collector of Australian limited production cars.
This car was a prototype LHD car built for the American market. This car was never completed by the factory and was sold as a body only when the Ascort production ceased. The body was converted to RHD in the 1980s. The car has never been completed but has recently been purchased by a vintage car enthusiast and restorer who is keen to commence restoration work.
This car was sold as a body only and remained unfinished with the purchaser's family until recent months. The body was recently discovered and purchased by a vintage car collector and restorer and work on the vehicle has now commenced.
This is my car. It is fitted with ID plate 005 and is believed to be the first or second car built after the prototype. It is understood that this car was crashed by Mirek Craney in about 1960 and was repaired at that time. I have owned the car since the mid 1970 and have had it tucked away in the back of the shed in a very derelict condition. I have now commenced restoration works and also the collation of information on the make.
Does this car still exist in the US?
This car was shipped to the US in 1960. A 2009 posting on a US forum mentions an Ascort body hanging in the shed of Steve Herron in California in the mid 1990s and that it was owned by Bob Koch around 2000. It is not known if the body still exists.
20 February 2011 - I have just received photos of the car hanging in the shed in California. It is not an Ascort and would seem to be an Alkin, so the count stays at 13 for now.
Thank you very much for giving all of us some insight in the Ascort.
I hope this overview will be a sticky soon
I hope this overview will be a sticky soon
Thanks for the overview, top work! :thumbup:
Happiness is a stock VW
The Ascort was a low production car and so it borrowed components from other more common vehicles to keep costs down. Here is a bit of a list of what was used.
Engine - The engine used was a 1200cc 36hp VW engine with an Okrasa TSV modification kit that increased capacity to 1300cc and power output to 54hp.
This gave the Ascort its full name of “Ascort TSV 1300”.
Floor/chassis – Stock VW 59 – 61. Koni adjustable rear shocks fitted and rear camber reduced. A front sway bar was also fitted.
Brakes – VW seems to have been standard, but some cars have Porsche 356 finned drums.
Body - The body of the Ascort is a glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP) construction, which used the latest fibreglass spraying technology in its construction, rather than the traditional hand laying of chopped strand mat or cloth. This resulted in much faster manufacture of the bodies and also a high ratio of glass to resin, which is most desirable in a GRP structure The Ascort is known for having one of the best GRP bodies that have been built for a low production car. It is not a particularly light fibreglass body, but it is extremely strong thanks to features such as double panelling, steel door pillars, an incorporated steel roll bar in the windscreen surround, and a number of GRP boxed section in areas such as the sills, bumper bars, front air vents and ducts and rear air chamber, which provided added strength.
Bumper bars – Fibreglass box section integral with the body.
Wheels – VW with Porsche moon caps and dress trims.
Windscreen – Peugeot 403 windscreen.
Rear windscreen – Austin A95
Side windows – Custom made for the car.
Window regulator – Can anybody recognize this ? Help please!
Door locks – VW
Door handles – Vanguard or Morris Isis
Front bonnet lock assembly – Holden FE.
Front bonnet Hinges – Ford Consul
Rear bonnet lock – VW
Rear bonnet hinges – Ford Consul
Fuel tanks - 2 x Ford 105E Angia fuel tanks. One mounted each side ahead of the rear wheel. The fuel filler and fuel gauge were fitted to the left tank. One vent and one fuel cross feed line connected the two tanks. The tanks were held in place by a strap that wrapped around the tank, with a turnbuckle for tensioning.
Rear air vents – VW pre 58 speaker grills. Most cars had the grills narrowed by 2 bars, but some cars used the standard item.
Emblems – Custom made for the car.
Headlights – 1959 VW or Porsche 356 - Bosch 6 Volt.
Driving Lights – Renrade Sealed beam 6 Volt
Front indicators – Lucas as used on the Morris Minor.
Tail Lights – Lucas – Part L348 – As used on Humber Hawk Mk VI.
Number Plate Light – There are some differences between cars with the number plate light. Most cars use a recessed proprietary light of unknown origin. At least one two early cars had a light which had been fabricated from angle stainless steel.
Windscreen Wipers – Jaguar MkVII converted to 6 Volt.
Windscreen Washers – RVB
Horns – RVB
Switches – VW
Indicator switch – VW mounted on the left of the steering colums.
Headlight dipper – Steering column mount on the right of the column, make uncertain. Has a light on the end of the stalk.
Front Seat – Based on Porsche 356 A series. Outer pivot mounted further forward than inner side pivot. This caused the seat to fold toward the centre to allow easier rear seat access.
Rear Seats – Moulded into the body with a removable centre armrest.
Front ashtray – Front dash ashtray from FE or FC Holden.
Rear ashtray - Rear FJ Holden ashtray mounted at the front of the rear armrest.
Rear vision mirror - Early Porsche 356
Sunvisors – Early Porsche 356 – Acrylic type
Steering Wheel – This is a Petri banjo 2 spoke steering wheel.
Steering Column - VW
Steering Wheel Lock – A lock was fitted. VW or aftermarket?
Guages – VDO clock adjacent to glove box. Centre binnacle – VDO tacho, Motometer 3 in 1 gauge (amps, fuel and oil temp), VDO 100mph speedo. Right of binnacle – VDO oil pressure and Smiths vacuum.
I am sure that I have missed some things, but I am also sure that PRE67VW is the first to get such a comprehensive detailing.
I like these cars too :smile:
The Ascort's designer Mirek Craney stands proudly with the prototype Ascort at Sydney Harbour Bridge (1958 or 1959).
Mirek Craney working on the plaster mock up for the mould to be taken.
The mould is taken from the plaster mock up.
Production in 1960.
The car on the front left is a left hand drive prototype (you can make out the left hand drive dash.)
The car in the centre on drums is my car which was having a new left front corner fitted following an accident. Rego at that time BXL-022
The car front right was the car used by Mirek Craney's personal car, which was also used for publicity photos. Rego BZA-011.
The car behind with the bonnet up is the prototype which is in many photos with the dealer plate D72. It is also sometimes photograped with the plate 21-512
I cannot identify the other 4 cars.
The prototype was displayed at the April 1959 Melbourne Motor Show.
The Australian Motor Sports April 1959 Magazine stated about the motorshow:
"New models were not numerous, but those on display were both interesting and impressive.From the sporting viewpoint, The Australian-built Ascort, Buckle and Record attracted the most interest ......."
From the sporting viewpoint, The Australian-built Ascort, Buckle and Record attracted the most interest ......."
Fantastic overview of the beautiful Ascort. Could you tell me the rego of the first grey/white New South Wales Ascort? I may know of another Ascort if this rego does not match......
G'day Ascort,Fantastic overview of the beautiful Ascort. Could you tell me the rego of the first grey/white New South Wales Ascort? I may know of another Ascort if this rego does not match......Cheers,PhilC
The white NSW Ascort rego is ENO-001.
I must admit that I do not know exactly how old the photo is that I have included. Of all of the Ascorts I probably know the least about this car. I have spoken with the owner by phone but did not get a lot of info. I understand that the car has now been given to a son, but I have not got the son's contact details at this time.
I suspect that this car may have been BZA-011 (in the production photo) in its earlier days, but I am not certain. BZA-011 had a slightly different door handle location to other cars (closer to the door edge) and it also had a few other unique features. The photos suggest that this may be the case with this car, but the photos are not quite at the right angles to be certain. Hopefully one day I will get more info on this car.
I would love it if you know of another Ascort (or know the owner of ENO-001).
Unfortunately we are talking about the same car (ENO 001). I would have loved to have 'discovered' another Ascort. I was negotiating to buy this vehicle about 2 and a half years ago when I was told that the elderly owner's son and grandson would be taking ownership and restoring the car. This Ascort sits on a later (rusted) ball joint pan with a modified larger capacity dual carbie engine. The car is missing most of it's original Ascort features....obviously no Okrasa modified engine, non original front seats and non original steering wheel. Bonnet has been remade at some point after original bonnet separated from car at speed (owner tells me). Door windows are poorly fitting perspex, front windscreen is badly crazed and leaks along with the rear screen. Body needs some minor glass work and some serious smoothing out. The car appears to have not been driven for many years. As of a few weeks ago this Ascort is still sitting and rotting away where I first saw it many years ago. Sad really!PhilC
Unfortunately we are talking about the same car (ENO 001). I would have loved to have 'discovered' another Ascort. I was negotiating to buy this vehicle about 2 and a half years ago when I was told that the elderly owner's son and grandson would be taking ownership and restoring the car. This Ascort sits on a later (rusted) ball joint pan with a modified larger capacity dual carbie engine. The car is missing most of it's original Ascort features....obviously no Okrasa modified engine, non original front seats and non original steering wheel. Bonnet has been remade at some point after original bonnet separated from car at speed (owner tells me). Door windows are poorly fitting perspex, front windscreen is badly crazed and leaks along with the rear screen. Body needs some minor glass work and some serious smoothing out. The car appears to have not been driven for many years. As of a few weeks ago this Ascort is still sitting and rotting away where I first saw it many years ago. Sad really!
Yes this is one Ascort that I worry about. I would love to see it being cared for.
The elederly owner has not been at all helpful when I was talking to him about the car. He refused to give me the name of the previous owner or anything much on the car's history (I was trying to record the history of the cars) and also would not provide contact details for his son (I had wanted to provide him with data on the cars to assist with restoration work and to provide him with the contact details of other owners etc etc).
I was aware that the car has been substantially modified and that the original bonnet had been wrecked. The owner had put a bonnet with a scoop on the car for a number of years after the original came open and smashed (a common Ascort issue it seems), but I understand that the current bonnet is closer to original. (One of the other owners actually has a bonnet mould and could help here.)
This is what the car looked like in the early 1980s with the modified bonnet. A friend of mine was in Sydney at the time and happened to spot the car. It looks like there are mods to the rear bonnet and tail lights as well. (I will be polite and not comment on the mods.)
This is the ID plate on my car (restoration has not started in that area)
The plate is hard to read but it says:
Model: ASCORT TSV 1300 Year: 1959
Engine No: 2156912 S/No: 005
It is not known why the plates says Canberra ACT, as the cars were produced in the old tram depot at Tempe in Sydney.
The ID numbers of the cars are a bit of a puzzle as at this stage only a few plate numbers are know/fitted to cars. These are 005, 021, 028, and 031. The problem is that there was only 19 bodies produced and 13 complete cars.
Of the 13 complete cars produced the first 3 appear not to be identical to the later production cars and seem to have been used as hack cars to try out different trim styles, colours etc.
The prototype was the D72 car. Photos of this car show it to have had multiple colours in its first years of life. This car had a unique high door handle location, unique full height divider on the rear seat and unique trim. The door catches on this car do not match production cars and it is interesting to note that no photos of the interior show a window winder on the door nor do any photos show the side windows in a closed position. ??? (Mirek Craney has been quoted as saying that it was the doors that gave the most trouble in the design). Photos do not show any sign of an ID plate. The fate of this car is not known.
From looking at the photo records of the cars and the slight differences that exist, I believe that the next 2 cars built were BXL-022 and BZA-011.
BZA-011 did not have the front boot area the same as production cars and like the prototype it had no internal panel here. This car also had a unique door handle location and unique interior trim. This car was bought from "Ascort Corporation" by Mirek Craney after the company folded and was used as his private car for a number of years before replacing it with a later build car (DDH-989 - now the yellow car in photo above). One interview of Mirek Craney in the 1970s (Cars and Drivers #3 - An Aust mag) stated that he bought number 1. For these reasons I believe that this was probably the first car built after the prototype. This car had multiple colours early in its life and photos do not seem to show an ID plate. The fate of this car is not certain, but I believe that it may be the white NSW car discussed above - ENO-001 (but evidence is flimsy without a decent look at the car. It is interesting that the owner of ENO-001 said that the car had many layers of old paint when he bought it).
BXL-022 seems to be the other early car that was built. Early photos of the car show it photographed a number of times with BZA-011. This car is shown in photos with a tow bar and was most likely used for towing the small "Ascort Sonic" two person boat. It is also photograped in several colours. This is the only Ascort photographed with a tow bar. Photos show that this car had a slightly different rear seat with a wider cushion area at the top of the seat. After a few early photos there seems to be no more photos of a car with this number plate. However, there are photos of a car with a similar wide cushion at the top of rear seat sitting on drums in the photo of the cars being produced. Closer inspection shows that the car is in later stages of being repaired from accident damage.
The title of this photo was "Mr Craney's Ascort smashed". (This photo pre-dated Mirek Craney purchasing BZA-011).
The car in the photos is definately my car as the cut line in the repair can be seen clearly on my car and some of the other marks on the car on the photo can still be identified on my car. Other indications that this is BXL-022 is that my car was fitted with a tow bar plug and came with a tow bar when purchased snd a small bash on the rear bumper in a photo of BXL-022 matches a small area of damage on my rear bumper. My car is fitted with ID plate 005 and a plate can clearly be seen in the photo of the damaged car.
An interesting discussion with a member of the Craney family told how Mirek had run off the road in an Ascort and crashed into a tree. The spare tyre that sits horizontal in front of the torsion tube took much of the impact leaving the damage contained to just one side. The spare tyre spat out through the bonnet during the accident. The damage in the photos would seem to match this story.
BXL-022 was originally silver, then metalic green, then red, then silver. It was at this time that it was smashed. Paint layers indicate that front emblems were removed about the time when the car was green. It is uncertain if the car was repainted silver then white, or just straight to white following the repair.
One of the other cars to have had multiple paint jobs over a very short time is the red New South Wales Car. A relative of the current owner is understood to have had a connection with the cars at the time of production. He is said to have stated that cars were being repainted on a regular basis and were then driven around and photographed to give the appearance of a greater number of cars having been produced. It is not known if this is true, but the story would seem to match the old multiple paint layers that exist on several of the early cars that were built.
A photo of the 2 cars together.
and BZA-011 alone
... and BZA some years later when it was the private car of Mirek Craney.
Considering that there was only 13 Ascorts completed, there were a number of interior syles in the completed cars. I have produced some sketches of the rear seat area to show some of the variations.
These are only a non-artist impression and no care has been taken to ensure that the number of pleats is correct etc etc. Some of the fine detail may also be incorrect as this information has only been obtained by looking at fuzzy details in enlarged photos and remnant scraps from stripped interiors. Ihave sketched this part of the car as there are not a lot of good photos as it is not easy to get a good angle for a photograph. So, no guarantees on the proportions either.
The prototype (usually seen with D72 or 21-215 plate). This car seems to have been unique with full height rear armrest and full height pleats in the rear seat. The prototype also had a door pocket. It is not known if any other cars had one of these from new.
I do not have good interior photos of BZA-011, but a couple features that can be seen are 2 tone trim, trim that extends up "C" pillar and seat area meeting the headrest cushion. [Edit - The side trim may be the same as the light section of the 2 tone, with only the seat itself being the dark colour]
BXL-022 had a very wide headrest cushion and wider pleats than production cars. As the interior was stripped, other than front seats and door trims, details are a little sketchy.
This is the production car style as fitted to the NZ Ascort and several others. The NZ car may not have had the stitching on the door trim.
The other production car interior trim style that seems to have been fitted to a number of cars.
Similar variations also exist with the front seat trim (which seems to match the rear seat to a large degree.)
When Mirek Craney was building the Ascort he was actively trying to get international recognition for it and was trying to get sales on the world market. Letters have surfaced where details of the car were sent to the editor of "Annual Automotive Review", Switzerland - August 1959 and articles appeared in December 1958 issue of the British "Motor" magazine, the March 1959 edition of "Autocar", September 1959 American "Road and Track", and October 1959 "Sports Car Graphic". An advertisement was also placed in "Road and Track" inviting dealer enquiries.
In the letter to "Annual Automotive Review" it is stated that several orders for cars have been received from the US. A letter also turned up on ebay to the Sadler Motor Company of US, dated October 1959, from Continental Coachworks explaining that the supply of left hand drive chassis falls short of supply and that an alternative scheme of supply is being sought. (Unfortunately I missed out on this ebay item, as I was outbid by a NZ bidder.)
A left hand drive body was certainly built and this can be seen under construction in the Tempe factory on the left hand side. Rumour has it that this car was the left hand drive prototype and the only left hand drive car produced. (Sorry for repeating a photo).
This car survived and is seen in this December 1983 photo taken at Osca Automotive in Surry Hills, Sydney. (The LHD car was nic-named the "red oxide car" for many years). Although the left hand drive dash cannot really be seen, the start of the binacle rise can just be made out, which confirms that the car was left hand drive at this time.
The car was purchased (?) by the father of the northern NSW Ascort owner, who was the nehew of the Osca Automotive owner, and during this period of ownership a conversion was done to right hand drive. (I suspect that the dash from the derelict BXL-022 was used in this process). The Northern NSW owner remembers her father carrying out the right hand drive conversion when she was young.
I understand that the red Northern NSW car was owned by the owner of Osca Automotive and on his death the red car was passed to the nephew who owned the left hand drive car. The left hand drive car was then sold to a friend who kept it till his death a few years back. It was then bought with a lot of other vintage car parts by a Queensland vintage car enthusiast, who now has got interested in the car and now intends to restore/complete it (with conversion to RHD, which I personally feel is a shame).
The left hand drive car is one of the 6 cars that was not completed when new and to this day is still incomplete.
The car in recent times
The dash, with the RHD conversion, with the binacle not quite sitting in the right location, and sitting over the gove box hole.
... but did an Ascort go to the US?
In the Cars and Drivers interview with Mirek Craney in the late 1970s, he states that a US firm was looking to purchase the Ascort project, but as there was so much interest he thought that it had to be a success if he kept the project in Australia.
This clipping appeared in the January 1960 edition of "Australian Trading", showing a right hand drive "Ascort sports saloon which is being loaded at Sydney for San Diego".
I am not convinced that the caption on the photo is correct. If you look back at the photos of the NZ Ascort being loaded on the ship for NZ, the ship's name was the Wanganella, which was a ship which was primarily used across the Tasman sea between Australia and New Zealand. I have had a close look at photos of the Wanganella and I am fairly sure that the photo in the press clipping is this ship. If this is correct the photo is most probably the NZ car being loaded. (Have a look at the blown up detail of the Wanganella. This has to be the ship in the photo).
I do not have a definite answer as to whether a car actually went to the US. There were obvioulsy orders which were not filled, but I suspect that the rumours that they were never sent are probably correct.
I am more than happy to hear if someone has a definite answer on this subject.
The car at the factory in Tempe Sydney before export.
The car at the dock ready for loading.
The car being loaded for NZ.
How sad that it ended up like this.
The prices are from the January Australian Motor Manual magazine. The prices are in Australian pounds .... but I am not sure how to get a "pound" symbol, so I will just provide a number.
As you can see the car was priced very much as an up-market Grand Tourer.
Ascort TSV 1300 - 2250Austin Healey 100/6 - 2098
Citroen DS - 2286
Ford Zephyr Mk II - 1302
Holden Special - 1161
Humber Super Snipe - 1825
Jaguar XK 150 - 2919
Jaguar Mk 1 2.4 litre - 2382
Mercedes 220 S - 2852
Morris Minor 1000 - 920
MGA - 1376
Porsche 356 - 2545
Triumph TR3 - 1695
Volkswagen Beetle - 971
The specs on the Ascort were listed as:
Fuel capacity 16 gallons
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Maximum speed 96mph
Acceleration 0 to 50 mph - 12 seconds
Overall length 14' 1''
Weight 1467 pounds
Some Ascort photos were given to the restorer of the silver Ascort a few years back which included one very interesting one. It is dated 1983 and is of a set of fibreglass moulds hanging from the wall of a business which was called Osca Automotive. The moulds are the top and side moulds for the Ascort. If one looks at the original moulds being created for the car they can definately be matched.
I have been informed that the owner of Osca Automotive had a connection with the Ascort project (I have not determined exactly what that connection was) and he also owned an Ascort which passed through several family members and is now located in northern NSW.
The current owner of the car claims that her father (the nephew of the Osca Automotive owner) used to have the moulds some years back, but it is unknown where they are now, or if they still exist.