Sometimes a really good car article story falls right in my lap. Today’s column’s inspiration was initiated back in March of this year when vintage car enthusiast Mark Green of Warsaw, Ind., sent me an email after reading a post that I had made on Facebook regarding the Duesenberg display at the Gilmore Car Show. In 2016 Mark had displayed a 1958 Meadows FriskySport micro car (I’ll call it FriskySport here on in) in the local Lake Bluff Concours car show. It was the same car that his late father, Charles, had shared in the Concours back in 2011. The 2011 show featured a whole class of wonderful little cars, including a BMW Isetta and a Messerschmitt.
Mark’s March email also included attachments of three photos showing a new project underway in his garage, the restoration of a second FriskySport in his collection. Seeing the photos of the little car’s unrestored rusty frame and a photo of it completely restored gave me the idea of perhaps writing an initial story (today’s Part I), and then over the next many months do some follow-up stories showing Mark’s process in restoring his newest addition.
I’m thinking that the vast majority of readers are probably wondering what the heck is a FriskySport. I had never heard of one either. Maybe it’s because the English automaker only built 250 of the micro cars over a three year period, from 1958 to 1960. I went online and did some research on the company in Wikipedia and found all kinds of information. It would take a number of columns to do the whole story justice, but in a nutshell, I can say the company took a tortuous, circuitous route, starting in 1955 in Egypt of all places. The Frisky cars were conceived by British race car driver Captain Raymond Flowers, manager/director of the Cairo Motor Co. Ltd. in Egypt at the time. His idea went nowhere due to the Suez crisis in 1956. The efforts of Flowers shifted from North Africa back to the U.K. Flowers took his idea for a small, mass-produced, economical lightweight car to manufacturers in the U.K. and eventually reaching an agreement with Henry Meadows, Ltd. (explaining why in some references the FriskySport is known as the Meadows Frisky).
Several different manufacturers became involved and a variety of Frisky prototype models were developed during the car’s gestation. What eventually became the FriskySport owned by Mark Green reached production in 1958. Mark remarked during our interview that “my second FriskySport found me.” When needing parts or specs on his Frisky, Mark has contacted Henry Meadow’s grandson John at the Frisky Registry in the U.K. Long story short, John suggested that Mark find a back-up engine for his Dad’s FriskySport because they are rare and often need replacing. He found engines in Canada and in Australia. Mr. Meadows also suggested that Mark needed a second FriskySport in his collection and revealed that he knew the location of one that had been in storage for 30 years, in an old barn/garage that once stored lumber in Richland, Mich., just south of the Gilmore Car Museum. Says Mark, “I was like a kid in the candy store. I hurried up to Richland to take a look at the 13th FriskySport that the Registry knows that exist.” It should be pointed out that there are only five Friskys in the States. Mark says that he “is a hoarder” and has two.
Mark visited the long-neglected FriskySport in Richland in early March of this year and trailered it back to Warsaw at the end of March. Fortunately, the car’s body is made of fiberglass, “That’s what saved its life,” added Mark. His newest collectible has no motor, no gas tank, no seats and no convertible top frame. Mark is arranging to acquire certain restoration parts in Wales, England and Scotland. His work ahead includes building a new seat frame and the metal convertible top frame. The Frisky Registry will provide him with the specs to do so.
In the Part II article coming early next year, I will share more information about both Mark’s progress on the restoration front, and also more information about the micro car’s incredibly simple mechanical and power features. Mark says that in a perfect world he hopes to have the body back on the chassis by the end of summer 2020 so he can drive it. Certainly fabricating the convertible top will take more time.
Hopefully I’ve piqued reader’s interest and most will be looking forward to reading Part II of Mark’s FriskySport restoration journey. Mark suggests those car buffs wanting more info on the Frisky car, go to www.meadowsfrisky.co.uk. I’ve visited it and it is chock full of good stuff with photos, lots of history and all.
• Trivia answer: 1949, Two
Dar Davis founded the Lake Bluff Concours and chaired the event for many years. He has been writing this column since 1999. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.