The H.R.G.company began as a partnership in 1935, becoming the H.R.G. Engineering Co. Ltd. the following year. The name was derived from the surname initials of the founder members Major A. E (Ted) Halford, G (Guy) H. Robins and H. R. (Ron) Godfrey. Ron Godfrey was well known for his involvement in GN cars (Godfrey & Nash) from 1910 to 1925. When Archie Frazer-Nash moved on to produce Frazer-Nash cars in 1922, Godfrey pursued other interests until, by the mid-1930s, he saw an opportunity to go back into car manufacturing. Sports cars were more technically advanced but had become arguably less sporting, softly sprung, heavier and unresponsive. Godfrey saw the need for a specialist sports car and, drawing on his own experiences, designed a new one.
1935 The prototype “H.R.G 1½ Litre” was well received by the motoring press at its launch in October 1935. Powered by the Meadows 4ED engine, the car used light alloy materials wherever possible to give low overall weight. Unlike GN and Frazer-Nash it had a conventional gearbox and differential rear axle. Car production got underway at a purpose-built factory in Oakcroft Road, Tolworth, Surrey. The cars soon became sought after by amateur sporting drivers and competed successfully at Brooklands, in MCC Trials, the RAC and Monte Carlo Rallies, at Le Mans, the Tourist Trophy and the Donington 12 hour Sports Car race.
1938 In 1938 H.R.G started an association with Singer Motors Ltd, of Coventry, as a new engine supplier was needed. The Singer units were modified by H.R.G for power and reliability. The new model became the “1500”. A shorter chassis with a smaller engine, the “1100”, was also introduced using Singer’s 9hp engine and gearbox in late 1938. A semi racing two seater, the “Le Mans Model”, and a Coupe were also catalogued in 1938. By the outbreak of WW2, a total of 35 cars had been produced. During the war, car manufacturing ceased and the company’s skills were employed for the war effort. In 1946-47 HRGs were sought after as they were one of the very few new sports cars available. In comparison to other mass produced cars, such as MG, they cost twice as much. As well as the ‘1100’ and the ‘1500’ models, a new model, the ‘Aerodynamic’, was also produced. Many of the early post war cars were exported as dictated by Government economic policy of the time.
1946 Onwards from 1946 the cars competed at Chimay, Montlhery, Le Mans, Spa, in the RAC and Alpine Rallies and the earliest race events at Silverstone and Goodwood. They proved competitive, rugged and easy to maintain. Car production slowed significantly from 1950. A new car, the “Twin Cam” using a tubular frame chassis, fully independent suspension and disc brakes was introduced in 1955. The Singer-based engine had an H.R.G designed double overhead camshaft alloy cylinder head.
1956 In 1956 the very last H.R.G “1500” left the works and the company concentrated on light engineering, specialist machining for the motor racing industry and maintaining existing cars. Two prototype cars were built and a very successful alloy cross flow cylinder head for BMC “B” series engines, was marketed. The HRG Association (HRGA) was formed in 1960 by a small group of enthusiasts who had their cars serviced by the works. The company decided to close in 1966 and there was natural concern for parts supply and maintenance but the HRG A acquired the ex-factory stock of the parts and drawings and pattern-making equipment, aiming to keep the cars in authentic road-worthy condition.
In 26 years, a total of just 241 hand built cars had been made. Approximately 220 survive today. A fully-detailed technical analysis, history of the company and individual cars is outlined in the book, “HRG, The Sportsman’s Ideal” by Ian Dussek. Copies are available through the HRGA.