The reborn Chinook that's become a Goodwood regular

12th May 2022
Adam Wilkins

It was some idle internet browsing that led Lancashire-based Autotune to become the centre for Chinook Can-Am cars. “Our customer Ray Boissoneau has a McLaren M1 that we sold him years ago and we used to look after it for him, and I knew he was looking for another project,” says Autotune’s Richard Taylor. “I was just having my brew on a Wednesday morning or something and I saw these Chinooks advertised in Atlanta, Georgia. I thought ‘I remember the name’ and I’d seen a picture of one in an old Can-Am book, so I knew roughly what it was. The description was vague – three cars in bits, a bit of this, a bit of that.”


By pure chance, Ray Boissoneau knew the vendor and so he was willing to hold the cars for a few days until Anthony Taylor of Autotune could fly out to see them. The projects looked viable, so they were all brought to the UK where work began.

The story goes that the Chinook Mk2 has similarities to the the McLaren M1 because the Fejer brothers had an M1 in the workshop for repair. What’s more, certain components like the suspension uprights and steering rack were McLaren items. The Chinook’s body shape was also borrowed from another source.

The story goes that the Fejer brothers bought a scale model of the Chaparral 2C and scaled it up. The distinctive ‘Dumbo ears’ look shared by the two cars certainly bears out that theory. Chinook was run by brothers George and Rudy Fejer who had been successful motorcycle racers in their native Hungary. After emigrating to Canada, they set up shop, initially specialising in tuning high performance road cars before moving into motorsport.


When the three cars first arrived in the UK, this Mk2 was put on the back burner because it came with no bodywork. It had been destroyed in a crash in the 1970s and was long since scrapped, so Richard Taylor knew he’d have to make new panels. It was another Internet browsing session that provided the answer. “There was a VW-based kit car that looked just like the Chinook, but with a Beetle engine hanging out the back and a tall stand-up windscreen. This thing was for sale in Canada, all battered,” says Richard. An email exchange filled in the story. The vendor was clearing out the barn of a former fibreglasser. He’d built the original Chinooks' bodies for the Fajer brothers, and used the Chinbook’s basic shape to create his kit car. What’s more, he still had the original Chinook moulds. Richard was able to buy them, greatly simplifying the job.

Since restoration, the Chinook has made semi-regular appearances at Goodwood. Boissoneau couldn’t make it the 79th Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport, but still wanted the car to be seen so asked Autotune’s Anthony Taylor to drive it. “The most important thing was to bring it home in one piece,” says Richard. “Ray said you’ve got to make sure you don’t bump it, so mission accomplished.” The only fly in the ointment was a long brake pedal, despite a suspect caliper having been replaced days before the meeting. It meant Anthony was never confident to really lean on the brakes, so just fulfilled the brief to bring the car home.


Involvement with Boissoneau’s Chinooks led Autotune to race prepare a Mk2 owned by Jay Esterer. He’d owned the car since he was 18, when he used it on the street, and had plenty of race experience in Canada. “When I told him what we’d done with these, he said ‘Why don’t you rebuild mine’,” says Richard. Esterer made his place in Goodwood lore when he won the 2011 Whitsun Trophy amid a blaze of spectacular oversteery car control. “Suddenly everyone wanted to know what a Chinook was,” says Richard. Now we do.

Photography by Phil Hay.

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