Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 144

1950 Lea-Francis 2½-Litre Sports

  • Chassis no. 5158
  • Engine no. S 5173

Sold for $82,500


87 bhp, 107.8 cu. in. OHV inline four-cylinder engine with dual SU carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent torsion bar front suspension, solid rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf spring suspension, and hydraulic front and manual rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 99 in.

  • A beautiful, streamlined, rare British roadster
  • One of 85 examples built and 40 known to exist worldwide
  • High-quality restoration in charming original colors


While little-remembered in North America, the name Lea-Francis holds a rich heritage in the United Kingdom, where enthusiasts came to love the peppy little sports cars during the 1920s and 1930s, when supercharged models cleaned up at British racing circuits. Following World War II the company returned to production, profitable from wartime manufacturing, to introduce a new model with a Riley-style overhead-valve four-cylinder engine and handsome streamlined bodywork. A sports model, literally dubbed the Sports, was of course offered, both in tribute to the company’s heritage and as a entrée into the lucrative American market.

The post-war Lea-Francis was not produced in great numbers and did not enjoy tremendous sales success, as they were eccentric despite being known for quality craftsmanship. The Lea-Francis Owners Club notes production of about 85 2½-Litre Sports, of which about 40 remain in existence worldwide, making the model almost impossibly rare compared to its competition from MG and Triumph.

The car offered here is almost certainly the finest restored 2½-Litre Sports to be offered in recent memory. At the time that he acquired the car, Mr. Smith was told that it had been delivered in this striking Electric Blue, through Northern England agents Marshalls Ltd. of Halifax, Yorkshire, to a Mr. Waterhouse. Subsequent owners were a Mr. Watson, of Kent, and a Mr. Ashwill, of Chelmsford, in 1963. In the mid-2000s, it was imported to the United States and subsequently fully restored to its present condition.

One glance shows the quality of work that went into this charming little car. It is beautifully presented, with glassy, gorgeous bodywork and a tight, fresh red leather interior. Reportedly the work was completed with the assistance of marque specialist and Lea-Francis record keeper Barrie Price, who advised on the correctness and finishes throughout, and at a total cost exceeding $80,000 over four years. It was judged Best in Class at the 2014 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, prior to its acquisition for the Smith Collection, Stephanie Smith having become smitten after spotting it in Monterey.

Everyone who sees this “Leaf” falls in love with it. One can imagine the delight that it will bring to future show fields, and to all who see it purring down the avenue.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more