Weston Speedwell

Gauges for classic and vintage cars

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BRM 12,000rpm Speedwell tachometer

History


 

The Weston Speedwell was one of the first electronic rev counters. Available as an aftermarket upgrade it offered hitherto unavailable standards of accuracy in the 1960s. The tuning firm Speedwell Performance Conversions had approached the instrument manufacturer Weston to produce a rev counter. Weston's expertise was with aircraft instruments and the rev counter they developed was an adaptation of existing technology. With the addition of temperature compensated electronics and a dial, a rev counter was created.

 

 

Weston did nothing to hide its aviation origins and its fitting and appearance were more aircraft than automobile. Of course the use of aircraft instruments in cars was nothing new and many an enterprising race enthusiast had descended on military surplus stores to obtain sophisticated instruments at a knockdown price. The superb time pieces of Jaeger Le Coultre were such an example of an extremely sophisticated piece of war surplus equipment. With timekeeping accuracy to better than a minute over eight days and a pause feature they were an ideal rallying tool. Speedwell clearly appreciated the expertise of military equipment manufacturers and understood their ability to be able to produce rugged instruments to very tight tolerances with corresponding accuracy and performance. Out of this liaison a legend in the form of the Speedwell rev counter was born. There were several ranges available with the 0-8,000 rpm gauge appearing to be the most common.There was also a 4,000 rpm, 10,000 rpm and a very rare 6,000 - 12,000rpm specified for formula 1 applications. The Speedwell sales literature of the time stated that this instrument was standard fitment on all 'BRM Formula racing cars'. Possibly doors were opened by Graham Hill who was racing a BRM that revved to 11,000rpm. Graham Hill who had originally been the workshop foreman at Speedwell and subsequently chairman, shareholder acquired the company in 1969 from liquidators and ran Speedwell Performance Conversions until his untimely death in a plane accident in 1975.

 

 

Speedwell produced two versions of their revcounter. The Weston Speedwell version was termed as a competition variant and described as 'suitable for racing and engine testing where unequalled accuracy measurement of engine RPM is required'. The alternative, manufactured by Smiths instruments was a far more conventional gauge being essentially their standard instrument with a Speedwell face. The Smiths revcounter was categorised by Speedwell as 'Standard' for all motoring requirements. Back in the 60s a Smiths Speedwell was around £10.75 and the Weston Speedwell a whopping (for that time) £17.50. In today's money they would be around £225.00 and £365.00 respectively (courtesy: This is money 'Historic inflation calculator').

 

The Weston Speedwell rev counter has become a firm favourite with the classic racing fraternity. In particular with the many A series powered performance cars of the sixties such as Minis and Spridget/Sebring owners following in the footsteps of the rally legend and a founding member of Speedwell Performance Conversions, John Sprinzel.

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Original gauges are now extremely rare which was the inspiration to create a replica that was as true to the original as reasonably possible.