Ipswich was never going to rival the West Midlands or Dagenham as a car-producing area of Britain, but 50 years ago its own niche factory started producing sports cars for a specialist market.
Trident Cars were based in Turret Lane and between 1966 and 1977 and over that decade produced either 85 or 130 cars – depending on which figures you accept. Some of its vehicles were sold as kits for the owners to put together.
It is thought that between 19 and 25 of the cars survive and can be driven – and the vehicle owned by John Landsbury from Hadleigh has a particularly spectacular history.
Mr Landsbury’s Trident Venturer took part in the historic London to Mexico Rally in 1970 which was an appetiser for the Mexico World Cup that summer.
Its bodywork was signed by members of the England World Cup squad which ultimately reached the quarter finals of the competition before suffering one of the nation’s worst ever sporting defeats – losing 2-3 to West Germany in the quarter finals after being 2-0 ahead.
The car is still roadworthy – although it does need some work and a new MoT certificate before it can take to the road again.
And Mr Landsbury said 2016 would be a very significant year for everyone with an interest in the company.
“It is 50 years since they started producing cars in Ipswich and there is quite a lot of interest in that. My car has an interesting history and I was asked to enter it in a classic rally in Blackpool soon but I think that will be too far to take it on the back of a lorry.”
He has bought another Trident – but that will need some work to bring it back to full working order.
Mr Landsbury said: “I haven’t taken delivery of it yet and it will need some work – but it should be running again after about three months.”
There is a Trident car on show at Ipswich Transport Museum and the active Trident Car Club is expected to mark the Golden Jubilee of the company at rallies this year.