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Airline Coupe
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  HRG Airline Coupe
 

  Article Image gallery (8) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1938
Numbers built:1
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 28, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 1936, Major Edward Halford, Guy Robbins and Henry Ronald Godfrey joined forces to create HRG. They set out to produce a straightforward high performance sports car for about half the price of a contemporary Aston Martin. During the next two decades, the specialist manufacturer produced around 241 of these very quick machines. All, bar one, were fitted with open bodywork.

Produced in 1938, this one exception was a pet project of Major Halford. His other two partners were not quite as enamoured with the fixed-head HRG and when Halford left the company soon after it was launched at Brooklands, Robbins and Godfrey wasted no time to sell the car. The first owner did cherish the 'Airline Coupe' and used it as his daily driver for over two decades. It subsequently lingered in boxes until it was fully restored and shown in public for the first time again in July 2010.

The 'Airline Coupe' name was commonly applied to aerodynamic fastbacks in England, produced by the likes of SS and MG. The HRG Airline Coupe actually used the rear half of an MG PA body. This included an integrated sliding roof and a tail-mounted spare tyre. The remaining parts, including the fenders and engine cover were created by little-known coach-builder A. Crofts. The completed body was finished in ivory white and the interior upholstered in green leather.

The slippery body was mounted on a widened ladder chassis, sourced from the Halford-Cross Rotary Special previously raced at Brooklands by Major Halford. This also explains why the Airline Coupe features a Triumph Gloria straight four instead of the Meadows engine used by the other HRGs. Displacing just under 1.5 litre, the overhead valve engine was equipped with two SU carburettors. In road trim, it produced around 55 bhp at 5200 rpm.

Also sourced from Triumph was the four-speed gearbox. The chassis was a simple but effective steel ladder frame with four cross-braces for added rigidity. The solid front axle was mounted ahead of the chassis and suspended by quarter-elliptic leaf springs and friction dampers. At the rear a live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs and friction dampers were used. Cable-operated drum brakes on all four corners completed the mechanical package.

Although the HRG Airline Coupe was definitely aesthetically pleasing, Robbins and Godfrey were probably right in not pursuing this avenue further as the other 'Airlines' were not high in demand. The unique HRG was also not sought after when the original owner finally decided to part with it during the 1960s. The current, American owner eventually bought the Airline Coupe in 1965 for the equivalent of just $20.

Before the car was brought from England to the United States in 1983, it was completely disassembled and stored in boxes. In 2000, the one-off HRG was finally submitted to a restoration. With many components completely unique to this car, this proved a formidable job. The work was finally completed in 2010 and since then, the Airline Coupe has been shown at events across North America.

Having acquired the car back in 1965, the current owner has now decided to part with the lovely two-door coupe. Accordingly, the only fixed-head HRG has been consigned to the Gooding & Co. Amelia Island auction, which will be held on March 8. The pre-sale estimate is a relatively modest $160,000 - 200,000.

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  Article Image gallery (8) Specifications