History

Many have heard of the Maserati Mistral and well yes, Maserati did make a model called Mistral, However, this car is a New Zealand made Microplas Mistral which pre-dates its better known cousin considerably.

 

The Marque

The builders of the Mistral, Microplas Ltd, was founded in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire in the early 1950s by a group of 750 Motor Club enthusiasts who got together to design and produce an all-enveloping glassfibre bodyshell for the Austin Seven chassis. The Maserati Mistral did not begin production until 1965.

Microplas Stiletto Model

Their second design was the Mistral was began manufacture in 1955 and fitted the contemporary Ford Ten chassis. The original, round-tail Mistral looked rather like a scaled down Jaguar D-Type.

Microplas Mistral Model

Cresting the wave of the 1950s kit car boom, Microplas rapidly expanded, relocating to Mitcham, Surrey. The Mistral bodyshell become one of its most successful products, supplying these to a number of independent producers; including Buckler, Fairthorpe and TVR. Microplas went on to build boats and other mouldings, including the fairings used on the Vincent Black Knight motorcycle, before eventually moving into the production of power boat hulls.

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Microplas Mistral

The Mistral body shell was designed to be used for a “special” that was to be powered by one of Archie Butterworth’s flat-four engines (not one of the swing-valve versions). The side vents were to mate up with ducts from the air-cooled engine. It is unknown to this author if this car was ever completed, but as the shell also fitted the 7 ft 6 in Ford chassis, that became the basis of many of the Mistrals built.

Microplas Mistral Body

The shell was to become the most popular shell built by Microplas and was also used as a prototype for the Fairthorpe Electron Minor as well as being sold to AFN and Morgan. In 1956, a set of moulds were sold to Emesley & Foxton in Dunedin NZ. It is believed that moulds were also sold to Christchurch boatbuilders Weletex. Not much is known by this author about these moulds but given many of the NZ Mistrals that I have seen have a strong Christchurch connection, it would seem likely that at least some cars were built in Christchurch. If anybody has any more information about these Weletex cars, please contact me.

 

The Emesley & Foxton cars were based on a simple twin-tube chassis with swing axle front end and a properly-located live rear axle. Power was initially a Ford 100E with an Elva overhead inlet valve conversion. The first prototype competed in several local races and was quite successful during 1957. In 1958 an improved body shell with proper doors and an optional hardtop was built. It is believed that some 15 or 16 kits were sold.