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North Devon in 100 Objects: 79. Percy Pooley’s Little Car

Percy Pooley's Little Car. A small green car for two people.

This little car is the creation of Percy Pooley, who ran a bicycle shop in Newport, Barnstaple.

After the Second World War ‘Perce’ Pooley, a fiercely independent young man, wanted to go places and needed a car. These, at the time, were neither readily available nor cheap. So, with a background in making things work, he set out to build one. For a chassis he bolted together bed-irons. He assembled d a 500cc wartime BSA motorcycle engine, a Norton gearbox, wheelbarrow type wheels, a training glider windshield and tarpaulin for a roof. From town he carried home aluminium sheets on his bike and shaped them by hand into a car body. The Mark 1 was born.

Assessed for roadworthiness, even without a reverse gear (the assessor agreed to help push it backwards!) the little car was duly registered for the road. The “PP Special” was launched in June 1948.  The Mark 1 was a two-seater and did good service, but soon something bigger was needed. So Perce set out to make it bigger. This was the Mark 2, an upgraded body on the same chassis, longer and arguably more stylish than the Mark 1.

The PP Special was retired in 1960, becoming something on which the children played. Years later however, it was rescued and after much TLC from family friend Roland Packer, the little car runs again under its own power, showing what can be done with know-how and a willingness not to be beaten.

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