Letters Issue 23

Dear SM,

I’m not sure if you can help me or not. My name is Lionel Olyett and I now live in Perth Western Australia. And no, this is not a hoax or begging letter! I was once the owner (the third after the build) of a MkII Ford Zodiac, which, from memory, was on the second ever Street Machine front page. The car was built by a guy called Steve Dodd who lived in Romford, Essex, and it was fitted with an Essex V6, manual box and Appliance wheels. It was painted Rover Caribbean Blue over white and had Rover seats front and back, trimmed in powder blue.

I owned the car for about six months in 1981, then swapped it for a ’67 Camaro. Regrettably, I sold that on after another six months – the things you do when you’re young and stupid. I went through a number of cars in my youth, and even put together a muralled ’61 Mini called Sweet Painted Lady.

I believe the Zodiac is still out there. My problem is that I only have a couple of photos from the time I owned the car. Before I moved to Australia I had a copy of the magazine that featured the car, and have been searching for some time now for a replacement copy; however, this has not proven fruitful! Could you please give me any ideas where I may be able to get a copy of that edition? It would be great to have a keepsake.

I am also looking for any articles on a car built by John Baldaccino called Small Fry, the Rover V8 powered Austin Ruby. Unfortunately, I can’t remember if it was featured in Street Machine or Custom Car.

My current drives are a 2017 Holden Commodore SV6, a 2012 Toyota Prado diesel and my pride and joy, a 2013 Subaru BRZ, number 523 of the first 1,000 built, with just 5,000km on the clock. I now have a yearning to build another car and will be looking for a suitable project over the next year or so, but need to finish rebuilding my boat before I start on something new!

I appreciate any help you can give.

Lionel Olyett, via email

Hi Lionel, thanks for getting in touch. When it comes to any question of UK hot rod history, Mark Blows is usually the guy to ask. He said:

“The last I saw of the Zodiac was at the Arena Essex swap meet a few years back. It was yellow and white and, I think, some primer. It was on a trailer for sale; I’m not sure if it was running. Small Fry is still around but rarely comes out. These are the covers of the magazines Lionel needs – Street Machine September 1979 for the Zodiac; Custom Car May 1978 for Small Fry. I’m afraid I don’t have spare copies of either at the moment, but for anyone looking for back issues of Street Machine, Custom Car etc, you’ll find me at hotrodmags on eBay. The photos are mine, from the Essex Clubs Run in July 1979, at the Essex Showground where the NASC Nats used to be.”

Thanks, Mark, you’re the man!