The Rochdale Owners Club was formed in June 1981 by a group of owners keen to establish a club exclusively for the Rochdale marque.
The Rochdale ST
The ST resulted from a desire to appeal to the roadgoing public rather than the race specialist market. By late 1955 you could own an ST for £100. It came complete with inner wheelarches, front bulkhead and part floor sections bonded in, so that it would bolt directly to a post-1937 Ford 8 chassis. This simple 7ft 6in wheelbase frame with solid axles front and rear on transverse leaf springs was still in production then as the Ford Popular.
The adverts claimed "Easily fitted by any handyman" and, in theory, it was. It came with hinged, locking doors and bonnet ready fitted there was none of the nightmare of making a bulkhead and wheelarches to fit and seal inside the curved shell but there was still a lot of work to be done if you wanted the car to be nice to drive. The crude beam axle suspension was uncomfortable and far from sporting and at speeds over 50mph the car would shake like a jelly. The chassis was too flexible without a saloon body and needed to be boxed in, while the floor needed to be dropped otherwise you were left looking over the top of the windscreen. Then if you wanted sports car performance, you'd need to:
1. tune the engine
2. fit smaller wheels
3. fit a higher ratio axle
4. add independent front suspension with softer springing
5. fit a Panhard rod at the back
6. ...and maybe even fit hydraulic brakes
The list was endless, and many companies thrived on making bits to make the Ford Popular go, handle and stop.
Extras offered for the ST included a V-windscreen and frame at £9 15s and a glassfibre bolt-on fastback hardtop for £24 fitted. The ST was an attractive design, featuring a long bonnet which incorporated the grille and, at the rear, an early Kamm tail. The 'part floor section' was just a narrow band going in from the sills of the body to mount to the top of the chassis side members. The bulkhead was nicely designed, with a battery well at the centre rear of the engine compartment. The dashboard moulding swept up above the occupants' knees with a deeper central panel to accommodate instruments and switchgear. There were also extra inner sill mouldings which provided a box section below the doors to add strength at this weak point.
The ST sold steadily but not in great numbers, as it was soon overshadowed by the GT. It disappeared from Rochdale's adverts at the start of 1959 and was the only model to be deleted before the fire; perhaps this was in anticipation of the launch of the Riviera.
Copyright © Malcolm McKay - Early Rochdales Registrar
Copyright © Rochdale Owners Club