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THE FLYING STORK OF GERWYN


Mr. Jimmie McAlpine, Chairman of the Sir Alfred McAlpine Construction Group, who lived at Gerwyn Hall, Cross Lanes, loved cars. His ample garage was filled with such exotic makes as Rolls- Royces, Bentleys, Bristols, Lagondas, Jaguars, Alvis, Aston-Martin, Jensen and Bugatti.


The most flamboyant of them was surely the magnificent 1934 V-12 Hispano- Suiza, its sleek body by Fernandez and Darrin of Paris resplendent in two-tone blue and ivory, with petal-shaped rear side windows.


Mr. Jimmie had won this car in a card game in 1952, and owned it for nearly 30 years. It was a familiar sight in the area, driven by chauffeur David Lloyd, particularly so at Wrexham Golf Club where Mr. Jimmie was President.


It attracted many admiring glances from the members as it stood in the car park, but David told me that it had also attracted several wayward golf balls as well over the years, thankfully without damage!


The Hispano- Suiza (designed by Marc Birkigt of Switzerland) was one of the world’s great cars in the 1930s, and, costing £2,750 for the chassis alone in 1932, it was obviously aimed at the privileged few.


Its 9.4 litre, OHC, 220 b.h.p. engine was derived from the famous V-8 Hispano- Suiza aero-engine that was used so successfully in WW1 aircraft,


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especially the French Spad scouts (fighters). French ace Georges Guynemer flew his famous Spad ‘Vieux Charles’ in the crack Alsace squadron, which had a Flying Stork emblem on their fuselages.


Realising the advertising potential of this emblem, Birkigt used the Flying Stork mascot on his cars from then on. Mr Jimmie’s Hispano weighed over two tons, but chauffeur David told me that although it only had a three speed gearbox, the engine was so flexible that he could start off in top gear quite easily, and it could exceed 90 m.p.h. in second!


He also told me that it had a fuel consumption of around 4 m.p.g. when driven hard! David said “ When it was sold in in 1981, it was like losing an old friend”, as he had driven Mr. Jimmie around in it so often and for so long, but now the Flying Stork of Gerwyn had gone, never to return - and it was sorely missed!


Jimmie McAlpine & David Lloyd


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