Derek Buckler was one of the pioneers of specials era racing cars, and his company Buckler Cars was very advanced in its thinking. The DD1, which was destined to race at the Le Mans 24-Hour in 1955, was one of its highest specification builds of the time – and it remains in very original condition today.
SEP 10th 2017
Buckler DD1 returns to Goodwood 63 years on
The DD1 was commissioned by Adrian Liddell and was specified as a significant development of the existing Buckler 90. Its DD1 designation offers a hint of its rear suspension, which is a De Dion with Watts linkage. The rear brakes are inboard. It was fitted with the then-new all-aluminium Coventry Climax engine driving through the gearbox and differential from the 1953 Le Mans Aston Martin.
The story goes that, when repatriating the Aston Martin after Le Mans, the team smashed a hole in the gearbox, rendering it unsellable to avoid customs duties. Liddell later got hold of the gearbox, and the Buckler team patched up the hole with a very neat copper plate. The gearbox remains today complete with that repair.
Throughout the 1954 season, the DD1 was raced at various circuits throughout the UK – including Goodwood – to prove it with the intention of competing at Le Mans the following year. Liddell was being funded by his friend Pip Ravenshaw, who sadly perished in another car before the end of 1954. That put an end to plans to enter the 24-Hour, although the car is still often referred to as the Buckler Le Mans.
With financial support gone, Liddell asked Buckler to sell the car, and they did so via their busy distributor in New Zealand. It was campaigned by Ivy Stephenson, the country’s most successful female racer, but the rough circuits took their toll on the delicate aluminium bodywork. It was replaced with a fibreglass body made locally by Ferris de Joux, and the lightweight fibreglass resulted in just a 100kg penalty – a lot less than it could have been. The car now weighs around 550kg.
Bruce Ellwood bought the car in 2009 after it had been through some more owners and researched the car thoroughly to confirm its racing history and its originality. It came back to the UK in 2012 when Chris Jaques bought it, and 2017 saw its first outings in the UK. Success in hillclimbs preceded its return to Goodwood 63 years since it was last here.
Finally, there’s one coincidental link between the car’s current owner and its first. Adrian Liddell was a descendant of Alice Liddell who inspired Alice in Wonderland, and Chris Jaques is related to its writer, Lewis Carroll. An unrelated but almost literally poetic connection.