1937 Squire 1½-Liter Drophead Coupe

Adrian Squire was just 21 when he set out to build his own motor car. Dreaming of such a venture since he was a schoolboy, at 16 he sketched out a whole catalog for the “world’s greatest sports car.” He envisioned advanced engineering and light, flowing coachwork sitting on a chassis with a low center of gravity. In many ways, he succeeded beautifully.

At age 18, Squire was apprenticed to Bentley Motors and later worked as an assistant draftsman at MG. On his 21st birthday in 1931, he inherited £20,000, the capital with which he financed Squire Motors.

For his engine, Squire selected a 1.5-liter DOHC four, designed by T.D. Ross of Frazer Nash. Production of the engine was handled by Anzani. The chassis frame was exceptionally rigid, with cruciform bracing, and adjustable friction shock absorbers allowed control over ride and handling.
For stopping power, its hydraulic brakes were given huge 15-inch magnesium alloy drums.

Although its chassis was completed in February 1934, the first Squire was sold in May 1935. Customers, however, did not materialize in any number, perhaps because the cars cost almost as much as a Bugatti. The last car built in 1935 was sold to Val Zethrin of Chislehurst, Kent. After just two deliveries in 1936, Squire Car Manufacturing Company was shut down, and Adrian Squire went to work at Lagonda.

Zethrin took up the project, purchasing all the parts on hand, and between 1937 and 1939 he built three more cars. Adrian Squire was killed in a bombing raid while working at the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1940.

Chassis 1063 was the first of the final three cars built under Val Zethrin’s supervision, completed in the autumn of 1937. Originally ordered by Geoffery Munro and laid down by Adrian Squire before he left the company, it was fitted with sleek drophead coupe coachwork by Corsica.

This Squire was owned for many years by British Maserati aficionado Cameron Millar. In December 1984, it was exported to the United States in the ownership of Dr. Douglas Oosterhaut, a prominent San Francisco plastic surgeon. Oosterhaut used it regularly until 1986, when he sold it to California collector Bob Cole.

In June 1995, it was acquired by Washington state collector Pat Hart.

Although the car was remarkably original and in good running order at the time of sale, Hart embarked on an extensive, three-year, no-expense-spared restoration by Don Vogelsang in Seattle.

It was finished in the original black, complemented by light blue leather. Fresh from the shops, the car made its debut at the 1998 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. After the show, it took pride of place in Hart’s private collection, where it remained until his passing in 2002.

Since acquisition, the owner has had the engine returned to top running condition, as it had languished from disuse. The 2011 show season was exciting, beginning at Palm Beach, FL, where it was voted People’s Choice and Best of Show at Classic Sports Sunday at the Mar-a-Lago Club in January. At Amelia Island in March, it received the Breitling Award for Timeless Beauty, then copped Designers’ Choice at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and finished Best in Class at California’s Del Mar Concours in October.

Nine of the original 10 Squires survive. This one is, quite simply, the loveliest of them all.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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