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Copyright © Angus Dudley

Convair Developments was set up by two brothers Clive and Terry Wren in late 1955. Terry was basically the business brains of the company, while Clive was the engineer. Like most young men they wanted to go motor racing and wanted to find a way in to the sport. Glassfibre had been used during the war to make things like patrol boats and Terry, along with a number of other car enthusiasts had spotted the potential it had for producing car bodies. A small business could produce identical bodyshells quickly, easily and more importantly cheaper than the big manufacturers. Additionally the shells would not rust, and designs could be adapted easily. All this and minimal outlay for tools and equipment. It seemed to good to miss.


Clive created the name “Convair” - being a rough Latin translation for “with glass” and “Developments” was added as he had already foreseen a number of other uses for glassfibre.

The company started production in their father's workshop in Type Street, East London and the first adverts appeared early in 1956. The shells were also sold through "Super Accessories" in Kent. They were suppliers of everything for the "Special" builder so it increased their market quickly and cheaply. The shell was simply called the "Convair" but I shall refer to it as the "Roadster" to distinguish it from later models and the company itself.
The brothers employed three other men to help construction, which released the brothers to further their skills. Terry spent about 6 months working with British Thermoplastics making aircraft radoms and helped construct new sandwich polymers. Clive improved his welding skills completing a course in advanced welding with BOC and worked with British Non Ferrous Metals Research opposite University College in London. This lead him to help set up one of the first electron microscopes in the UK. He also took out a patent for aluminium/glassfibre bonding.
At this point the brothers were self sufficient and had an envious lifestyle including iceskating, skiing at St Moritz and tobogganing on the Cresta run. They also both flew light aircraft and had a number of upmarket cars including Jaguars, Aston Martins and a Facel Vega once thought to have been owned by Stirling Moss.
The brothers were keen to expand and the unsavory conditions encountered while using glassfibre meant they had outstayed there welcome at their fathers workshop. New premises were rented in Cathall Road, Leytonstone. A second set of moulds were made to speed up production. A flat bed lorry was purchased, not only for deliveries, but to provide additional storage. The non car related manufacturing and general engineering functions were now being handled by their new Nordec company. They started making inert air-conditioning flues and road side electrical junction boxes in glassfibre.
Now, with more space, they could expand. Chassis development and bespoke construction increased and the Roadster body grew into the coupe called the "GT". A new sports car was developed with its own chassis and practical body called the "Excell". This was available as a shell, kit, or complete car.
Towards the end of 1959, Terry inherited a garage business on the North Road in Newark. This seemed like a good proposition, so Terry took one set of the "Excell" moulds and moved north producing cars under the TWM banner ("Terry Wren Motors"). Clive continued production in London through the Nordec company. Convair Developments effectively ceased to exist even though shells were still being made. This is why the "Excell" body may be found under a number of names - they are all the same car though. Terry also bought a number of racing cars including a Climax powered Cooper and was a very quick, if not successful driver. He even competed abroad on occasions.
After a few years, Terry left the garage business in Newark and returned to join Clive in London. By now they owned a fleet of tankers and were supplying fuel and oil around the East End of London. They had both caught the flying bug and Clive had begun to build his own light aircraft (shown opposite). TWM stopped producing cars when Terry returned and Nordec gradually petered out as other interests took over.

There were a number of reasons for the businesses demise. Firstly, The Cathall Road workshop was never really big enough to allow them to expand effectively. Dabbling in other areas such as aircraft radoms diverted their attentions. Even though they advertised regularly, they never did so with a similar budget to the competition. While the cars were very sprightly for their era, they did not race one of their cars early on to gain additional prestige. Not enough money was poured back into the company. When Terry moved north he effectively broke the company up and development, communication etc stalled. Terry saw the introduction of the Austin Healey Sprite (for which they made a number of aerodynamic nose sections and hard tops) as effectively signaling the end for the "Specials" market. He figured it was better to get out sooner and save money than wait for the slump, after all there was a lot more money to be made in aircraft dealing and oil tankering.
Terry was killed in a light aircraft accident some years later, and Clive moved into the aircraft industry running several companies from ground handling and engineering, to chartering and flying schools. He is now retired and lives in the South East.

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This site was last updated 05/24/06