History of the Clan Crusader
The Clan Crusader was built between 1971 and 1974, with a total of 315 constructed. To call it a Kit car would be something of an insult. It was a fibreglass sports vehicle with a composite body that was powered by an all-aluminium Hillman Imp engine. Though few were made due to a late start from component supply issues and UK 1974 taxes changes on kit car makers, the Clan Crusader was an outstanding drive and today maintains a high survival rate.
The automobile was created by an ex-Lotus engineering team directed by Paul Haussauer, with styling by John Frayling. The firm was founded in 1969, and manufacturing on a modest scale began in July 1971. Official manufacturing began in September at a new plant in Washington, established with the help of a government grant. Engineer Brian Luff, one of the minds behind the all-conquering Lotus 72, designed "a wonderfully sturdy yet ultra-lightweight monocoque." Aside from the engine, the donor Imp's front and rear suspensions were also elevated.
The handling was regarded as nimble and tenacious, and extra power would not have been an issue. The design was unique rather than beautiful with controversial projecting headlamps and slablike sides. The black plastic engine cover slid to the left, sideways.
The car was available as a kit or fully assembled. The top speed was 99 mph with the 51 horsepower Imp Sport engine at 6,100 rpm and four-speed manual gearbox. Although the small car received positive feedback and gained some competition success, it was prohibitively costly at £1400 (£1123 in kit form) when compared to competitors. Despite passing MIRA crash testing in 1972, the Clan Crusader succumbed to a lack of financial backing, ongoing industrial action, the fuel crisis, and the application of VAT on kit cars in 1973. When Chrysler went on strike, delivery of running gear was halted, which was especially inconvenient.In November 1973, the company went out of business. The total number of automobiles produced in this initial phase was 315, while several were later completed from unfinished cars sold by receivers.
Andreas Kaisis, the owner of the Kaisis Motor Company and a businessman from Cyprus, purchased the body moulds when the company closed. Turkey invaded Cyprus just as manufacturing was about to begin, and plans were cancelled. These moulds were kept under wraps until they were returned to Britain a few years later. Meanwhile, Brian Luff sold a dozen or so duplicate body shells manufactured by mimicking an existing automobile. Peter McCandless, a Clan Crusader supporter, purchased these moulds in 1982 with the intention of resurrecting the automobile. At the same time, original creator Haussauer had the same notion, resulting in a period of recrimination.