John Hurst on leaving the British Army started JH Classics at the old Sutton Veny Works, near Warminster, Wiltshire. This lovely old works was the old Guardroom to the Second World War Army camp in Sutton Veny, quite appropriate for JHC.
John bought this old building without planning permission for £5000 plus some land in 1985; ' My Father thought I was mad and said I should have bought a Ferrari Dino for the same money. On returning from my last Ops tour and on leaving the British Army, I had the building and land valued in early 87 at £47,000, and he told me it was the best investment I had ever made!'
The first DGt, 001 designed and built in 1989, reviewed welcomed to the industry and used as our demonstrator for 18 months. This loveley old DGt was the basis for the sale of the first 24 cars in just three months.
The Ferrari Rosso Corsa DGt was our second demonstrator, number two, this superb car was first finished in black to demonstrate the quality of the bodywork, the interior was a fabulous tan leather, and this car was known as 'Delboy' due to the obvious number plate, DEL515T. Powered by a stage 1 tuned, 2 litre Lancia engine and a growly Janspeed stainless steel free flow exhaust system, we had some fantastic days out, notably some superb driving demonstrations at the Castle Coombe race circuit over a number of years. Driven by Paul Weldon a renowned classic car racer and owner of the famous Church Green Engineering, also Godfather to one of my sons! Pictured below is the superbly strong DGt chassis with the Lancia power unit installed.
DGt & DGt GTS, a superb brace of car's, these two car's were the mainstay of the sales with over 200 of these machines being sold around the world. There are many articles and proper roadtest's about these cars, and I think the only main crticism was the pedal box area was quite tight. I remember one Journalist turning up to do a full high speed road test wearing huge 'Pumps', I said you will never drive these cars wearing those! He did, wrote a stunning article after driving the car dry, and is now a leading Car magazine editor.
These cars were developed from scratch, using a superb torsionally stiff multi tubular chassis, strengthened by centre and side, stressed skin laser cut panels. All profiled parts being cut by laser from Cirus Laser in Sussex, with the combined skills of my team we were able to build the cars with Zero deflection bump steer, with race tuned fully adjustable twin wishbone suspension front and rear, fully adjustable coil over dampers complimented the final ride.
The bodywork was moulded from an original, the resulting cars being a compromise of styles, and this has been carried forward to the last DGt cars which were more in line with the later cars. The moulds were created by one of the most experienced and renowned GRP specialists, Pat Cuss of Fibreglass Applications, a Master mould maker with a huge heritage from Harrods to Marcos and TVR, and of course JH Classics!
These cars were track tested at Castle Coombe Race Circuit in Wiltshire, supported by Geoscan Ltd., JH Classics works team including Ron White the first Ferrari Formula One mechanic from England in the 60's, and driven by Paul Weldon, a full day resulting in superb geometry and performance settings, envied by many. The last DGt's benefit from the huge resource of Toyota and the track heritage developed over the years, any competition can only sit on the side lines and wish!
JH Classics, Deon Mirabeau, my attempt at my own design and built at a difficult time for the industry. We launched this car to the nations Lotus dealers, Lotus had gone into liquidation and we saw the chance to launch the Mirabeau to fill the void, sadly the car was not quite up to the full production standards required, the hood being the major problem as there were very few convertibles being built. We sold 32 of these great cars, mostly powered by the 2.9 V6 Ford Cologne engine, although some were built using the Alfa Romeo V6, the Cosworth V6 and the Lancia 2 litre twin cam. We sold the moulds and tooling for the Mirabeau to a German design company in Berlin in 2011. The silver Mirabeau is pictured at Hatch Court, Somerset. The blue Mirabeau is a superb example of the marque and has been seen around the country at many shows thoughout the years, originally owned by one of the most loyal customers who is a retired Fire Fighter, he had recently undertaken a full rebuild back to concours condition and had owned this car for over 21 years. We are in touch with many of the original and new owners and continue to suport their requests for help and advice, these guys are a pretty select group of perfomance car owners.
This was an interesting diversion from our mainstream manufacturing and ongoing development. Following Gulf War 1, I was invited by the SAS due to earlier military involvement to attend a Range day down at Lulworth Camp, Dorset. The boy's had a couple of LSV's which were used for Airhead close protection, originally purchased for frontline operations, reliability was appalling and they were restricted to being used as 'Go Carts' around the Airhead. Later they were handed over to 24 Airmobile Brigade based in Colchester, Essex. I was tasked to design a purpose built vehicle for a specific long range role, with heavy weapons capability, and long range reliabilty, a rewarding challenge with great support from Hereford. The prototype pictured above, and being driven by 'Trooper Hurst', who loved sitting in the Commanders seat for some reason, for hours, was sold to the Dunsfold Land Rover Collection. That vehicle was exhibited at the British Army Equipment Exhibition, and trialled by the Ghurkas. It was equipped with GPMG, 40 mm Grenade launcher, and could carry up to 12 Milan Anti Tank missiles, Land Rover based but with a multi tubular spaceframe and Fire retardent GRP bodywork, it certainly turned a few heads on the weekly shopping run at Sainsbury's!
The latest DGt which was in production from 2011 - 2021 benefited from an ongoing development programme, with great input from our customers. Each car is based on a high quality Toyota MR2, bought in good fully serviceable condition with no compromise. The cars were then converted to use a 3 litre V6, and reworked in all service areas to a 'as new' condition. We and the customer detailed the specification and the car entered production.
The huge benefit of these newly recreated DGt's was the basis from which they emerged from our workshops, they are production quality cars, with many of the modern day features including ABS, power steering and central remote locking, but above all these are track proven beast's that you the new owner can really enjoy, everyday, people just love to see them and if they can catch you, have a chat!