Trained as a fitter in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm during WW II, John Tojeiro went on to become one of the leading designers and builders of racecar chassis during the 1950s and along with John Cooper and Colin Chapman, Tojeiro was a major contributor to Britain’s primacy during that fertile period. Committed to efficient, lightweight design principles to extract maximum performance from small-displacement engines, Tojeiro gained a quick following and noted clients, including Brian Lister.
During the early 1950s, Tojeiro was commissioned by Cliff Davies to build a car with a BMW-derived, two-liter Bristol six-cylinder engine for power. Tojeiro devised a ladder-frame chassis with fully independent suspension and simple open bodywork by Panelcraft, quite similar to that of the contemporary Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta. This car, registered LOY 500, weighed only 1,180 pounds and achieved considerable racing success with Davies. Soon after, Tojeiro built an MG-powered Barchetta, LOY 501, and Vin Davison’s LER 371, with a Lea-Francis engine.
About the time, Tojeiro was working for Ernie Bailey at Buckland Bodyworks, which was supplying bodies for A.C. and Bailey suggested that A.C. might have interest in Tojeiro’s outstanding designs, as they were looking for something new to display at the upcoming and highly influential 1953 Earls Court (London) Motor Show. Tojeiro was able to borrow Davison’s LER 371 and it was painted Blue, fitted with an A.C. ‘six’ and shown as the new A.C. Ace. An enduring and influential sports car in its own right, the Ace went on to even greater acclaim as the basis for Carroll Shelby’s Cobra in 1962.
One or two more of Tojeiro’s original Barchettas were constructed, including LOW 77, the wonderful MG XPAG-powered example offered here. It was sold new to Reg Bicknell and after the 1953 season, he sold it to Ormsby Izzard-Davies. In the hands of Izzard-Davies’ driver Alan Moore, LOW 77 performed well at Crystal Palace and Silverstone, and numerous period images were taken of Moore and LOW 77 and some were even taken by re almost all of Moore and even include images by the famed photographer Louis Klemantaski. By 1955, MG-powered racecars such as LOW 77 were falling behind the newer cars from Cooper and Lotus, so Izzard-Davies sold LOW 77 at the end of the 1954 season. The Tojeiro was advertised in Motor Sport for $850 – a considerable amount then – with the statement that it had “…always finished every race.”
LOW 77 remained around Eastern England and passed through a known roster of eight owners over the next 30 years, eventually being sold to C.L. Sieffert of Longmont, Colorado. Once in the USA, LOW 77 was rallied in the Colorado Grand, Copperstate 1000, and driven by famed racer Augie Pabst in the Steamboat Springs vintage races. Under next owner Richard Rome, LOW 77 was restored in 2007 and then the Chicago collector Bill Jacobs, who continued racing the car at a variety of events including the Colorado Grand, acquired it. It was featured in the January 2011 edition of Classic Motorsports magazine and at auction, it is accompanied by a historical file including many action photos. Simply stated, LOW 77 is a sheer delight to drive, gorgeously presented, and ready for a many more of today’s great historic rallies and touring events.