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1965 Ashley Sportiva: A One-of-72 British Rarity

If you know what this vintage British sports car is, then you’re more of a car nut than we are. We were happily daydreaming while browsing our favorite foreign vintage sports car website when we came upon this eye-catching 1965 Ashley Sportiva in Soesterberg, Netherlands that was being sold for 22.950 Euros or about US $27,700, which converts to around P1,330, 985. Of course, its landed cost will be much higher if ever you get your hands on one and try to import it into the Philippines.

The Sportiva was made by Ashley Laminates, which was founded in 1955 by Peter Pellandine and Keith Waddington in Loughton, Essex. Ashley Laminates manufactured glass reinforced plastic (GRP) fiberglass body shells and chassis for racing specials, as well as radiators, header tanks, lighting sets, steel tubing, sheet aluminium, various suspension parts, water pumps, tires, tubes and wheels. They also made aftermarket hoods and hardtops for other popular British sports cars, such as the Austin-Healey Sprite and Jaguar E-Type.

In 1958, the company moved to Upshire to increase manufacturing space and introduced a new body shell, the Ashley 1172. November 1960 saw the introduction of the Ashley Sportiva, which was initially an Ashley 1172 with revised front styling. It was available as a bare shell or with an Ashley chassis and it could be made as a convertible or as a coupe with two or four seats. Later Sportiva models had a revised rear with boot lid and a longer wheelbase. The Ashley Sportiva coupe fiberglass body shell was available for only 182 British Pounds.

Experts estimate that this yellow 1965 Sportiva is one of only 72 assembled. According to the seller, this car has a long history and was originally finished in red. It was restored in 2003 and was repainted with a more striking yellow hue. The seller hints that the gaudy green stripes and other “enhancements” are stickers and can be easily removed. Overall, the body styling is well balanced and flows well, although the tall greenhouse is a bit awkward looking.

Instead of the original 1.7-liter motor, this Sportiva is powered by a 3.0-liter Ford V6 engine mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. Compared to the striking exterior, the interior looks subdued with leather upholstery covering the front and back seats. The rear bench can seat two passengers, albeit snugly. The seller suggests that this unique sports car is eligible for vintage races, rallies, and tourist trophies. Not surprisingly, it was sold immediately after it was posted because of its rarity and exclusivity.

Ashley Laminates moved to Harlow in 1961 and stopped producing body shells in 1962 when the specials market was weakened by a change in sales tax rules. In 1963, the company changed its name to Ashley Auto Improvements and moved again but continued to make GRP hardtops and hoods for sports cars until the factory closed in1972. Ashley body parts were reintroduced in 2010 by Moto-Build Racing in Surrey and focuses mainly on the MG Midget, Austin Healey Sprite, and Triumph Spitfire Mk1, 2 and 3. Their website is www.ashleygt.co.uk