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Read the text and view images of the original sales brochure
View the original
Latham F2
Sales Brochure

Read Paul Latham Jackson's account of how the F2 came to exist
Original magazine articles
and features about the
Latham F2

Read Paul Latham Jackson's account of how the F2 came to exist
The designer's own view
of how the car came to
be designed and built

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This is a brief history of the Latham F2 Super Sports, with links to some magazine articles and reviews.

The original Latham F1 - Just one was builtConceived during the mid-1980s, the F2 was the second car to be produced by Latham Sports Cars. The company, founded by husband and wife team of Paul and Julia Latham Jackson, was originally based just outside Bicester, and it was there that the Latham F1 was created. Just one example of this two-seat open topped sports car was ever built, since it was only ever seen as a precursor to their true objective; the F2.

In order to fund the development of the new car, and to find economically suitable premises in which to carry out all the preliminary work, Latham Sports Cars relocated to Julia’s home town of Penzance in Cornwall. They found a small industrial estate between Newlyn and Penzance, just behind a Mead factory and not far from the old Pilchard works. The unit went under the rather quaint name of Stable Hobba, and while the project took up residence there, Paul and Julia moved into one of the historic cottages on the old harbour front in Newlyn. It was an idyllic location, but they were about to embark upon some of the hardest and most demanding years of their lives.

The company exhibited a quarter-scale mock-up of the car at the 1984 Stoneleigh show, and this generated sufficient interest to reaffirm Paul’s belief in the future of the car. Joined by another experienced car designer, Andrew Dawkes, the company spent the next two years perfecting the design, refining their drawings, and constructing scale models and prototypes. The workshops contained a variety of other influential cars, including an Elva, a Davrian and, from time to time, a beautifully built NG, but mostly it was a scene of industrious hard work as Paul, Andrew and Julia toiled with paper and plans, wood, resin and steel, and all to the accompaniment of clouds of dust. Click here to read the article

Then, in the late summer of 1986, the company proudly unveiled its creation. At this stage all they could display was the completed ‘buck’ from which the body moulds would be created, but suitably painted and with wheels and windscreen strategically positioned, it looked the part. An article appeared in Kit Car magazine, courtesy of Ian Hyne, and three orders were taken on the back of that showing alone.

Three F2s in various stages of constructionThus encouraged Latham Sports Cars moved back to Bicester, taking over a factory previously used for the construction of Indy racecars, and production began in 1987. Business was brisk to begin with, and a succession of kits, part built cars and even two fully road-ready turn-key examples left the workshops. It soon became evident, however, that the orders were not keeping pace with the bank manager’s expectations. With development complete – or nearly so - Paul was forced to look for another source of income, and he left to join TWR in Kidlington, where he became embroiled in the Jaguar XK8 and subsequently the Aston Martin DB7 projects. His F2 was a significant presence in the company car park. Andrew Dawkes joined Triumph Motorcycles and then Volvo in Scandinavia, in both cases with major roles in design and development. That left Julia, with a staff of three, to oversee F2 production.

RJB at Stoneleigh in 1990A beautifully prepared example of the F2, RJB974M, was built for one customer, but retained on long-term loan by Latham Sports Cars to act as the company demonstrator. For two years it did the rounds of the kit car shows and magazine reviews, gaining accolades and plaudits wherever it went. Sadly it was not enough. The hurdle to success proved to be the complexity of the car’s construction and the highly price-competitive nature of the component car industry at that time. Customers were not inclined to pay extra for technological innovations they couldn’t see, despite the appealing shape of the F2, and each car barely covered its production costs. With the number of kits just topping the twenty mark, Latham Sports Cars ceased trading.

What made the F2 so difficult to build, and yet so radical, was an all-composite monocoque – the first open-topped road car ever to feature such a construction. With no steel between the front and rear bulkheads the car was remarkably light, and cars could be built with an all-up weight of little more than 650 kilos. Fitted with Triumph’s award-winning Dolomite Sprint 16-valve engine, performance was exhilarating – to say the least! RJB974M took part in two Track Days at Castle Combe circuit, and in the right hands proved virtually unbeatable. Nothing short of a Jaguar-engined Cougar or a race-tuned Cobra replica could match it round the Wiltshire circuit. The handling was superb, and the slippery shape, combined with a Sprint engine generating over 185 bhp, gave back-slapping acceleration and an awesome top speed.

PLJ's F2 - an aggressive stanceHad things gone differently, then the future for the F2 might have been very different. Full type approval and series production had always been the objective as far as Paul Latham Jackson was concerned. The car had been designed to comply with all the Type Approval requirements of the day, and those kits that did leave the factory were, in effect, merely prototypes. Vauxhall’s two-litre “red top” engine was earmarked for the production car’s engine bay, dry sumped and mated to a Sierra five-speed gearbox using an adaptor bellhousing. A Ford independent rear suspension system was also envisaged, with disc brakes all-round, plus an option to turbocharge the engine. Within a few years, Caterham would offer exactly this installation option for the Seven, but by then the Latham would have been long out of production.

Although Paul’s dream would never be realised, there’s no doubt the Latham F2 could have become an amazing production road car. His inspiration came from many quarters, as his own telling of this story suggests, but the combination of a pinch of Jaguar E-type with a hint of Marcos, some Aston Martin perhaps, and a generous dose of other wholly unique yet classic lines, created a stunning and inherently “British” sportscar.

Also see Paul latham Jackson's own account of how the F2 was born by following this link