History of Siva

So, where did it all start?  Why would anyone want to make a car that looked so old?  In the late sixties, the "sit up and beg" Ford Popular was an anachronism among the overhead valves, four-speed gearboxes and hydraulic brakes.  These "perpendicular" Fords were all but worthless.  I remember buying Ford 7Ys, Anglias and Populars for 50p up to around a fiver for spares.  The most expensive was a whopping £25 - it had no rear axle but was not rusty and the panels were straight!  The specials building craze had finished in the early sixties when the Austin/Morris minivan arrived (less Purchase Tax!) and blew the homebuilt car and motorcycle combination into the weeds!  With the new Minivan for a little more money, you and the family could enjoy warm and dry motoring, excellent handing and good fuel economy into the bargain.


In the late sixties, Michael Saunders of Siva Engineering had an idea for a "fun car" that was easy and quick to build as well as cheap to buy.  Also part of the plan was that the car would be built on an existing "platform" chassis - the VW Beetle and 2CV both had these but the Ford Popular 103E had a proper chassis and, of course, the mechanics that looked the part.  The engine could easily pass for something from much earlier in the 20th century as there was no water-pump or heater.  Almost all of the parts needed were on the old Ford and any of them from 1937 to 1959 could be used.  Parts were still cheap and available from Ford dealers and a small selection of tools would allow the enthusiastic amateur to convert the old Ford into an Edwardian beauty.  All manner of trimmings from junk shops could be added to get the period touch

A car designer was needed for the body work and this is where Neville Trickett came in.  He has produced a number of classic kit and replica designs over the years - the GP Spyder (Porsche RS60), the Minisprint and the Siva Spyder and Saluki among many others.

The development of the fibreglass "tub" made a strong combination with the original Ford chassis once it was securely bolted down.  The addition of two seat mouldings (one front seat on the roadster) and the four identical wings completed the bodywork.  The one piece bonnet while a fiddle to remove and replace kept the wet weather out of the engine!  Many builders modified the bonnet to a proper folding arrangement or made their own. Most Sivas were not supplied with a radiator grill and the instructions suggested the radiator, in all its naked glory, from a Ford 105E Anglia.  Later cars were supplied with a fibreglass surround.

My story

As a lad, I built one - a four seater in 1969 and have owned it ever since.  The car is now irretrievably part of the family and regularly travels all over the UK and even to France in the summer.  We Siva owners have become a somewhat eccentric little band of enthusiasts and I would point any new owner of a Roadster or Tourer in the Ford Sidevalve Owners' Club’s direction.


I collected my kit from the Siva factory near Blandford in the back of a 109inch Landrover.  I don't recall any great difficulty building the car (I was 19 at the time) - a bit of repair work to the chassis of the old Ford was about it. The instructions were on a couple of sheets of foolscap paper with a sketch or two to show the dimensions.  There were no build videos in those days.  As I lived and worked on the family farm at the time, I was able to find many "agricultural parts" for the car.  Just to be awkward and realising that the removal of the old Ford body would make the car under-geared, a taller final drive was fitted from a Ford 100E (yes, the differential will fit and gives a 4.5:1 ratio instead of the 5.5:1 on the Ford Popular).  This certainly did the trick but was probably a bit advanced for my abilities at this tender age due to the fact that the torque-tube had to be replaced with a prop shaft and then there were the associated problems of supporting the rear axle.....  Still the axle is still in the car 45 years later and has never given any trouble - blind faith!  Also the engine that came with the donor was only 8 horsepower and 900cc which made the car very economical but also very slow.  The chassis had the usual rusty areas where the wings ended (and the mud collected) and these areas were reinforced with some steel plate.  I didn't drive far before I realised that a windscreen would help so I bought the Siva wooden frame flat screen and secured with the obligatory leather straps. 

Not long after the car was built, an old school friend and I decided that a European tour would be a good idea........  The car was made ready and the hovercraft from Ramsgate booked - what a pity that method of cross-channel ferry has now gone.  I lived in Somerset at the time and had to divert to the Bryanston factory in Dorset on the way to collect the hood - just in case of rain you understand!  My friend lived in Surrey which was sort of on the way to Ramsgate but it was a long trip just for the ferry.  The Siva was as short as a Mini and so we only had to buy the cheapest ticket!  These days I think that they don't go by size anymore so the modern euro barges pay the same as small cars.

The actual customs and loading did cause some raised eyebrows as what looked like an early automobile was not a common sight on the ferry crossings in the early 1970s.  The fact that it was on 25 minutes from shore to shore was most impressive.  We tipped out on a windswept beach near Calais with just a large Portacabin for the Douanes. This was only the second time that I had driven on the Continent - the previous year we had ventured to Vienna in a 1200cc VW Split-Screen van.  It was our plan to drive across rural France to meet up with an acquaintance of my friend in Germany just across the border.  We discovered that the minor roads across France were like Devon lanes and progress was slow.  The Siva behaved itself except for an interlude while waiting for a roadworks barrier to allow us though.  The alarm that I had fitted had lost its earth due to the vibration on those rural roads and went off surprising the workmen and waiting motorists.  The malfunction immobilised the car until I hurriedly disconnected the device.  We were then on our way to cheers from the workmen.





Catching the hovercraft from Ramsgate in Kent to France in the early 1970s for a continental tour through France, Austria and Germany.  There was much interest from the local inhabitants to see an apparent veteran car venturing so far from home. 











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