“Crosslé’s Formula Fords have been the popular choice of racing schools worldwide, because of their strength and quality of construction. Thousands of young hopefuls have had their first motor racing experience in a Crosslé, including such famous names as Nigel Mansell, Eddie Irvine and John Watson.” The Crosslé Car Company website
Ever since one man decided he wanted to go faster than the next man ‘wheel to wheel’, Motor Racing has had some sort of a ‘feeder’ system in place, be it Voiturettes in the 1920s, 500cc machines of the ‘40s or Formula Juniors towards the end of the 1950s. Unlike today, there was then no meaningful karting scene where four year old kids could obliterate their future inheritances and fathers were able to vicariously live out their Grand Prix driver ambitions through their children, so the L Plate Formulae of ‘proper’ race cars thrived. The problem was, despite the best intentions of the likes of Count Johnny Lurani, one of cost and it wasn’t until expensive, highly strung race engines were removed from the equation that a reasonably level playing field, accessible without pawning your silver spoon, was created. The key was dropping a simple mainstream production engine in a reasonably low state of tune into what was essentially the same sort of spaceframe chassis utilised in the previous Formula Junior and Formula 3 categories. The result was “Formula Ford” and the viability of the concept is born-out not only by the fact that it still survives today as part of the modern ladder to the top but that it is also one of the most popular and competitive series in Historic motor racing.
By the late 1960s Formula Ford was established as the first rung on the ladder to Formula 1. However, the window of opportunity to prove one’s self was relatively small with most wanabes who ultimately succeeded spending just one season in the white heat of Formula Ford competition before stepping up to Formula 3, 2 or if particularly talented, Formula 1. It was very much a case of sink or swim and as a result it produced the next generation of Grand Prix drivers.
Tracking the development of the feeder formulae from Junior to Ford, taking in Formula B in the USA along the way (winning the SCCA Championship in 1968), John Crosslé’s eponymous company of Hollywood, Northern Ireland hit the ground running in 1969 with their first Formula Ford, the legendary 16F which carried Gerry Birrell to the European Formula Ford Championship that season. Success continued throughout the 1970s and early ‘80s with a 19F the first car to lap Aintree at over 100 MPH while a 25F established a new lap record at Brands Hatch during the Formula Ford World Cup in 1972. Crosslé’s also won the British Formula Ford 2000 Championship in 1975 and across the pond, the SCCA Formula Ford Championship.
All of which brings us to the mid-1980 which found The Crosslé Car Company, despite increased competition, still building on those success’ though there was an added frisson in that lynchpin Leslie Drysdale, Crosslé’s talented designer cum engineer for nearly twenty years, had left to co-found rival constructors Mondiale, just down the road in Bangor. So, the question was, were The Crosslé Car Company’s success’ down to the staff or the man himself? The 60F was all John Crosslé and the ultimate litmus test of his ability; things got off to a strong start as summed up by Mike Lawrence in the August 1985 issue of Motor Sport magazine:
“The 1985 car, the 60F, looks set to be one of John’s better designs, though none has yet been seen in England, the early sales having been made in Ireland and the USA. American circuits tend to have longer straights than English tracks, which puts a premium on straight line speed. In this department, the Crossle 60F seems particularly strong with its slim body and tapered frame, its discreet ducting to the radiators mounted in front of the engine, its airbox arrangement which takes air to the engine from behind the driver’s head, and its pull rod front suspension and rocker arm rear which reduce drag.
“The indications on the US race tracks are that the Crossle 60F is living up to the firm’s best traditions. The irony is that its successes will remain largely unknown in mainland Britain, yet Crossle is not only one of our oldest manufacturers but also one of our most successful.”
So, what of this 60F? The first thing to reiterate is that it is being sold WITHOUT ENGINE AND GEARBOX. The engine has been removed from the car as shown in the photo gallery but the gearbox has been left in place simply to enable the car to be moved around on its wheels; it will be removed once the sale has been concluded.
Unused for several years, most recently the Crosslé appears to have been run in the Club Formula Ford series though one can assume it now needs a thorough ‘going through’ before considering any return to competitive action. A browse through the photo gallery will give some indication of the condition of the car but it does seem to sport some good quality items such as an OMP steering wheel, Willans harness’, MyChron 3 data logger, Racetech water temperature gauge, Elliot tachometer, DRE shift light and Lifeline fire extinguisher. Judging by the stickers on the bodywork, Formula Ford experts RSM Motorsport may have had some involvement with the car in the past.
The 60F comes with a range of useful spare parts such as bodywork, nose mould, two front uprights, one front top wishbone, three rear rockers, one driveshaft, one rear hub and both suspension/gearbox mounts.
With parts and repair services still provided by the Factory (from the original Rory’s Wood factory!), recommissioning and running the Crosslé should be relatively straight forward in comparison to some other marques.