Beach Mk4 Sports Racer - s/n 4-001?

June 1965 photo - Fred Cox with original Mk4 body - 
Courtland AL (Thanks to Mark Hovander)
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June 1965 - The first 3 Beach sports racers together
Mk4 s/n 3-005 - Blue #89 - Jim Downing  (DB engine)
Mk4 s/n 4-001 - Red #84 - Fred Cox  (Imp engine)
Mk4B s/n 4-101 - Red #14 - J.W. Denton  (Abarth engine)
(Courtland, AL  6/65 - thanks to Bill & Monnie Moseley)
Courtland 6/65 - Fred Cox
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Same grid - different photographer - Cox's car is mostly hidden
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June 1966 Courtland AL photos (thanks to Phil Babcock at The Dyno Shop)
Fred Cox with updated Mk4B body (the car was red, but photos have faded)
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Fred Cox - 1966

#101 on left, #001 on right
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Fred Cox - 1966
Palm Beach 1967 - Phil Porch? Wheels, roll bar, and mirrors match the Hansen photos.

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Dean Hansen - 1970-71
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Dean Hansen - 1970-71
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Dean Hansen - 1970-71
Date unknown - probably Steve Gesse
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July  2016 - Concours winner at Road America - Steve & Michelle Gesse
4-001-1607-01.jpg (130704 bytes) Current Owners: Steve & Michelle Gesse, Boulder CO
Restoration: Greg Jacobs, Ignite Performance, Arvada CO
Ford Kent (711M) 1100 cc cross flow motor

In 1996 Michelle Gesse bought this sports racer from Tom Ellis for her husband’s 50th birthday. She proceeded to have Tom (Thomas Vintage Motors) restore the car with a 1600 cc twin cam Ford and Hewland gearbox. In 1999 Steve promptly mis-navigated the “kink” in its maiden race at Road America. Needless to say, the car did not make it to the Friday night concourse. Steve put the car in hibernation for 14 years. We began restoration with Ignite Performance in 2013. The 2015 Hawk was the car’s maiden race. The car has the same Hewland transmission mated to the Ford 711 M motor. The flares are gone and Greg Jacobs (Ignite Performance) succeeded in keeping the car as visually true to the $1395 kit car that was delivered in 1964.

Lotus Southwest Dallas none none  sold as a kit to Fred Cox
?/1964 Fred T. Cox Nashville Imp Fiat 600 "Sunbeam Spl."
1967 Dr. Philip Porch Nashville Imp Fiat 600 67 ARRC
12/1969 Dean Hanson OR Imp Fiat 600  -
1972 Doug Van Dyke OR Imp Fiat 600  -
1983 Tom Ellis CO Datsun 1200 VW  -
1996 Steve Gesse CO 1600 Ford T/C Hewland Mk4 1999 crash - currently disassembled
2016 Steve Gesse CO 1100 Ford Kent Hewland Mk4 restored!

Where did this car come from? Fred Cox acquired this car in 1964 and installed a Sunbeam Imp engine. The car has the Mk4 early-style instrument panel. He raced it in 1965 (red with original Mk4 body), and in 1966 "widened it to accept a new body" (a red Mk4B body). He ran one race in 1966 and then sold it to Dr. Philip Porch. So where did Cox get this car from? Gene Beach says he never sold a car directly to Fred Cox. Cox is deceased, Porch doesn't remember, and so far I haven't been able to find anyone who worked closely with Cox who might know. Hugh Kleinpeter wrote in a 1995 article that Cox's car was #100 obtained as an unfinished kit car from Hugh Grammer in Texas, but we now know this is definitely incorrect. I have found that Grammer was racing his Mk4B Beach-Bandini (which is s/n 4-100 according to Gene Beach's records) in 65-66 at the same time that Cox was racing this car. And Grammer's racing partner Don Westerheide is certain that Grammer only had one Beach. 

New Theory! - Gene Beach recalls two kit cars were shipped to Lotus Southwest in 1965. He thinks one might have been a Mk4 and the other was definitely Mk4B #103 (which I now have). Perhaps the Mk4 kit was really shipped in June 1964, not 1965, and that Lotus Southwest then sold it to Fred Cox. This satisfies many recollections - that a Mk4 kit was shipped to Texas, that Cox never got a car directly from Beach, that Cox got his car as a kit from Texas in 1964, and that no other Mk4 chassis is known besides Cox's and the original Jenkins/Schecter 3-005 car - Whaddya think???

5/05 - THEORY CONFIRMED !! - Bill Clark and Gene Baker in Nashville confirm that Fred Cox indeed got this car from Texas as a kit in 1964. And Fred Cox worked for the Lotus dealer in Nashville, making the Lotus Southwest connection even stronger.

2011 - WELL, THERE'S STILL A PUZZLE - It turns out that Jim Hahn's Mk4B (102A) was one of the 1965 Lotus Southwest cars and mine (103) was the other. So Gene must have earlier sent Cox's Mk4 kit there, making 3 cars total.

So what serial number is it? - I have decided to call it #4-001 as the most appropriate serial number. It clearly followed the Jenkins 3-005 car as the only other Mk4 car. It clearly preceded the #4-100 Mk4B car (Grammer's). I'd call it #3-006, except that Hugh Kleinpeter's notes say it now has a #100 number plate (which doesn't make sense in light of my finally tracing the definite history of #4-100) - I think Hugh's #100 should be turned over to #001?

Known facts

Please e-mail me with info on this or any other Beach sports racer

page last updated on 07/20/16