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1965 AC 428 Spider Prototype [CF1]

1965 AC 428 Spider [CF1] in The Avengers, TV Series, 1961-1969 IMDB Ep. 7.11+

Class: Cars, Proto / Concept — Model origin: UK — Built in: IT

1965 AC 428 Spider Prototype [CF1]

[*][*][*] Vehicle used by a character or in a car chase

Comments about this vehicle


ben68 BE

2005-11-30 20:38

1965 AC 428 Spider. This is a "master piece" as only 20 AC 428 Spiders were built in Torino by Pietro Frua. And this is the Spider number #01. Car driven by Steed (Patrick Macnee) in the beginning, by Tara King (Linda Thorson) afterwards (episodes from 1968 and 1969).

-- Last edit: 2005-11-30 20:49:12

ben68 BE

2005-11-30 21:17

Maybe you should add "Spider" to complete the name/model of the car as there were AC 428 Coupés as well (registered as AC 428 "tout court").

antp BE

2005-11-30 21:19

Maybe, yes ;)


2006-03-07 14:37

I think it's a '66

Jaqob P. NL

2006-03-20 20:41

Steed only drives it once and then it's given to Tara.

Jaqob P. NL

2006-04-08 22:14

It's a '66 it says so on a lot of Avengers websites


2006-06-05 15:58

Sorry, it's in german... but quite interesting though

Matt35 WL

2006-07-19 17:07

Keith Moon (The Who drummer) owned one, can't remember whether it was a fixed head or not.
Prettier I think than its cousin the Mas. Mistral

marsh EN

2007-01-04 23:59

This particular car isn't strictly a 428, as that particular moniker didn't come into being until the second car built, CFX2. This car is the sole prototype built by Pietro Frua of Turin and ultimately became the factory demonstrator for AC Cars. Carrying the chassis number CF1 (for Carosserie Frua), it made its debut at the 1965 Motor Show at Earl's Court, London and was registered the following year with the Surrey number LPH800D. It saw very active service in a variety of roles including brochure photography car, test mule and (as the then only available) road test car, with an excellent review in the December 1966 edition of 'Car' magazine, including a particularly moody front cover shot.

Very early on, the car was initially marketed as an AC 427 and the earliest AC produced press material did refer to the car as exactly that, but subsequent cars after CFX2 were referred to as 428's, after the capacity of the Ford engine then fitted as standard to all sporting AC's. The 427 'side oiler' was significantly more expensive to source from Dearborn, and AC (or more accurately, Carroll Shelby Automotive) fitted these cheaper 428 'Police Interceptor' units into mid period 'street' Cobras unbeknownst to unsuspecting owners; and ultimately all subsequent Frua bodied AC's had this engine fitted.

On delivery from Frua, the chassis was initially specified with a manual 'box, though an auto was substituted very early in its life when the car was still in the ownership of AC. In truth the definitive specification of this and indeed any other 428 was very much subject to ongoing tweaks as is so often the case in limited volume production cars. It is rumoured to have been bodied in alloy, rather than the steel for all subsequent production cars, and when the car was advertised for sale in 1970 (see below), the accompanying description did suggest this was indeed the case. The car subsequently had a slightly smaller 390 ci 6.2 litre engine fitted too, for reasons that remain unclear and that engine remains fitted to the car today.

It isn't clear exactly why the 428 was chosen for use in the TV series, though it is well documented that the writing and production team of Brian Clemens and Gordon LT Scott were genuine petrol heads and as a result it's possible they were aware of this new exotic offering from AC, though it would be surprising if the use of the car in the series was anything more than a combination of good timing and a friendly chat with Derek Hurlock and Keith Judd of AC down in Thames Ditton.

Mind you, there were few other more exciting British built high performance sports cars newly launched to the market in 1967, excepting perhaps the Interceptor or FF; Jensen had a well established relationship with Lew Grades' rival production company ITC who produced The Baron, which was also on air at the time of the ABC produced Avengers (though by 1967 it was a couple of years old and featured a rather (by then) old fashioned Jensen C-V8, falsely registered BAR1). The more contemporary factory supplied Interceptors regularly appeared in ITC's 'The Champions', notable for their Sandwell district 'EA' registration numbers. That said, you can quite see John Steed tooling around the Hertfordshire countryside in HEA4D, the first production FF!

Although still relatively new, LPH800D was in fact quite battle scarred by the time it featured in The Avengers - the passenger side front bumper had a nice ding and you can also spot a big dent in the driver's side door from some camera angles. Following filming in the summer/autumn of '67 it was presumably refreshed and then sold by AC to its first private owner who had actually wanted a Cobra as a birthday present for his wife, but as production of the home market coil sprung AC 289 Sports by that time had all but ended, they bought this instead, directly from AC Sales Manager Keith Judd and allegedly with no prior knowledge of its small screen fame, which is surprising given The Avengers was at the time the most popular show on British television, with regular audience figures of 8 million plus from its peak time Saturday night slot.

In April 1970, the car was advertised in Motor Sport magazine and by that time this owner was well aware of it's former TV role, mentioning somewhat snootily in the ad (complete with a photograph of the car)'for those who care for such things'. The asking price was £3250 and the car had by this time covered 29000 miles and significantly was described as having aluminium bodywork. The owner at that time was a Brenda Messenger, who lived in Ledborough Lane in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire and she claimed that her husband was growing a little too attached to the car for her liking, so she was seeking something 'a little more feminine, such as a Mercedes SL'. I'm not sure how long the car took to sell, but it eventually appeared Stateside in or around 1973. In the long period since the car left the UK, the trail had gone cold and it was widely rumoured to have been broken up to surrender its chassis identity to form the basis of a Cobra clone (or 'air car', as they're referred to by the Shelby American Automobile Club), like a number of other unfortunate 428's (unbelievably this dreadful practice continues to this day as the value of genuine Cobras climb ever higher, with at least 5 428's of the total 81 built, known to have suffered this fate).

I fell in love with this car (and more to the point, with Linda Thorson) as a teenage schoolboy back in the early 1980's following Channel 4 re-runs of The Avengers and a subsequent profile of the 428 over two editions of Classic Cars magazine in 1983. I spent the next 20 years desperately trying to trace it to confirm that it had survived. Against all the odds not only had it survived, but it exists completely intact in the USA and remains pretty much as it left the factory, with less than 40k miles on the clock and still sporting its unique metal hood cover, which was not adopted for general production on subsequent 428's. In 2000 it was advertised by long term owner mustangsonline for $125 000 and survives to this day, quietly in the 'states, in original condition, excepting new tyres and recent paint.

With the passing of time, what seemed like an impossible amount of money then now seems like a positive steal - how much is it worth today, should it come to market? Quite possibly $400-500,000 I would say, given it's historical significance as the sole prototype Frua and TV star. Fast forward to 2020 and it's highly likely that the car will come up for sale in the near future, so watch this space for further details...

I find it quite incredible that it actually survives, so perhaps one day I'll finally get to own it. There are a number of excellent photographs of the car on the Frua.de web site including shots of the car being constructed at Carosserie Frua, Turin during the summer of 1965.

It is true that Steed originally drove the car and it was then quickly passed onto Tara. Actress Linda Thorson couldn't actually drive at the time of filming (though she was having lessons I think). For whatever reason, she didn't take to the car (or more likely that AC just wanted it back, with it being one of a very few 428's in existence at the time and filming being done in distinct slots, rather than in one go presenting a logistical headache), so she moved on initially to a very early Lotus Elan +2 registered NPW999F, followed by a series 1 export only (but right hand drive) Europa, PPW999F, both finished in bright red with black trim and judging by the consecutive registrations, both cars were probably registered at the same time for the express purpose of being Lotus press or customer demonstration cars.

The 428 convertible was officially known as a Drophead Coupe, rather than a spider and yes, Keith Moon did own a white Fixed Head Coupe, registered EMX431J though he's rumoured also to have had a Drophead too, though I suspect that fact and myth have become intertwined and perhaps unsurprisingly, no photographs have yet surfaced of the other car. There is also a suggestion that Led Zep drummer and utter petrol head John Bonham owned one too (and some say it was the Keith Moon car, though that's more likely to be fanciful rumour than fact).

There may be some confusion here as Bonzo certainly owned a 427 Cobra in the mid to late 1970's that carried the famous 'COB1' registration number. This car was apparently bought from high end dealer and former Le Mans winner Duncan Hamilton, though the car photographed in Bonham's biography, written by his brother Mick is clearly a standard wheelbase 427, rather than the long wheelbase twin turbo charged 'special' that 70's Cobra restorer Brian Angliss of Cobra Parts and later still Autocraft subsequently built; and it was this car that was later owned by Cobra specialist Rod Leach of Nostalgia. The Bonham Cobra merely carried the COB1 plate for a time and that number then passed onto the Angliss special at a later point in time. If you'd like to learn more about this car and its actual identity, you'll need to join The Cobra Register, as I have now definitively identified it.

-- Last edit: 2021-03-11 14:28:01

sixcyl FR

2010-03-01 12:38

[Image: 225202-AC AA.jpg] [Image: 225203-AC AB.jpg] [Image: 225204-AC AC.jpg][Image: 225205-AC AD.jpg]
Ep.7.01 "The Forget-Me-Knot"


First appearance of LPH800D driven by a soon new "muse" of John Steed ==> Tara King ;)

(I'll replace main pic, when I'll found from what episode it belongs)

-- Last edit: 2010-03-17 22:33:09

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 12:59

[Image: 229554-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 229555-AC_AB.jpg]
Ep.7.03 "Super Secret Cypher Snatch" Le document disparu


-- Last edit: 2010-03-18 20:27:52

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:01

[Image: 229883-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 229884-AC_AB.jpg] [Image: 229885-AC_AC.jpg] [Image: 229887-AC_AD.jpg] [Image: 229888-AC_AE.jpg] [Image: 229889-AC_AF.jpg] [Image: 229890-AC_AG.jpg] [Image: 229891-AC_AH.jpg] [Image: 229892-AC_AI.jpg] [Image: 229893-AC_AJ.jpg] [Image: 229894-AC_AK.jpg] [Image: 229895-AC_AM.jpg]
Ep.7.04 "You'll Catch Your Death" A vos souhaits


-- Last edit: 2010-03-20 10:52:07

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:04

[Image: 226796-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 226797-AC_AB.jpg] [Image: 226798-AC_AC.jpg] [Image: 226799-AC_AD.jpg] [Image: 226800-AC_AE.jpg] [Image: 226801-AC_AF.jpg] [Image: 226802-AC_AG.jpg]
Ep.7.05 "Split!" Double Personnalité


sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:06

[Image: 229336-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 229337-AC_AB.jpg] [Image: 229338-AC_AC.jpg] [Image: 229339-AC_AD.jpg]
Ep.7.06 "Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40?" George et Fred


-- Last edit: 2010-03-17 22:32:02

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:10

[Image: 229043-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 229044-AC_AD.jpg] [Image: 229045-AC_AE.jpg] [Image: 229046-AC_AF.jpg] [Image: 229047-AC_AG.jpg]
Ep.7.11 "Look-(Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers" Clowneries

Where appears main picture

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:15

[Image: 226503-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 226504-AC_AC.jpg] [Image: 226505-AC_AE.jpg] [Image: 226506-AC_AF.jpg] [Image: 226507-AC_AH.jpg] [Image: 226508-AC_AI.jpg] [Image: 226509-AC_AJ.jpg] [Image: 226510-AC_AK.jpg] [Image: 226511-AC_AL.jpg] [Image: 226512-AC_AM.jpg]
Ep.7.16 "Invasion of the Earthmen" L'invasion de terriens


sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:23

[Image: 267035-AC_AA.jpg]
Ep.7.26 "Homicide and Old Lace" Homicides et vieilles dentelles


-- Last edit: 2010-10-06 19:38:46

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:23

[Image: 229367-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 229368-AC_AB.jpg]
Ep.7.28 "My Wildest Dream" Mon rêve le plus fou


-- Last edit: 2010-03-18 08:12:05

sixcyl FR

2010-03-17 13:25

[Image: 227006-AC_AA.jpg] [Image: 227007-AC_AB.jpg] [Image: 227008-AC_AC.jpg] [Image: 227010-AC_AD.jpg] [Image: 227011-AC_AE.jpg] [Image: 227015-AC_AF.jpg] [Image: 227016-AC_AG.jpg]
Ep.7.32 "Get-A-Way!" Les évadés du monastère


stevenhoward US

2011-02-16 01:51

This has been a very old school vehicle. I think if you would want to revive this one on the planned Avengers movie next year, good AC car parts would have been a good thing to install for that one!

-- Last edit: 2011-02-19 02:35:40

john1 UK

2013-01-17 14:10

That is CF1 the first and only prototype. 1965

the sad biker UK

2017-06-27 14:50

I used to walk past a 428 coupe on my way to school in the early 70's, originally in the same shade of Burgundy but after an "old man + very powerful automatic car" kind of incident (he apparently stomped on the wrong pedal and shunted it through some wooden garage doors) it was repaired & repainted a godawful shade of pale blue.

A friend who was at the time an apprentice mechanic remembers servicing it and say's test driving was an experience.

428 EN

2019-05-08 10:01

i have an identical 428 drophead that i bought in 1971

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