NELSON MOTORS S350
I got an e-mail from a reader the other day
who had been offered a Nelson S350 and wanted to know more about it.
This got me to thinking about making it this monthís subject for
ONES THAT GOT
The S350 first appeared in late 1989
and was the brainchild of Bryce Nelson who traded as Nelson Motors
based in Shepperton, Middlesex. It was initially built as a
Ďspecialí but spurred on by people asking him to build them one,
Nelson put the car into series kit production.
I think that undoubtedly the S350
latched onto the popularity of the Kougar Sports, by being similar
in design and dimensions albeit with a slightly less characterful
nosecone. Many people aspired to the Kougar but the price tag and
the fact you had to break an S Type (classic Mk2 style) deterred
many. Enter the Nelson S350 that was based on Jaguar XJ6
mechanicals, and powered by a Rover V8, that produced a modest yet
useful 155bhp in standard trim.
The kit cost £4,288 inc VAT that
brought unbelievably a painted to your colour choice GRP bodyshell
and all the Jaguar parts pre-fitted to the fully triangulated
backbone chassis made from a combination of 14 & 16swg round and
square tube. It even featured double side-rails for side impact
protection and additional floor support.
The Jaguar XJ6 rear sub-frame was
rigidly mounted at six points to the chassis, while the fuel tank
was hung from a separate tubular cradle mounted to the sub-frame.
Nelson didnít use the Jag front sub-frame assembly but simply
mounted the wishbones directly to the chassis, and he also reversed
the anti-roll (sway) bar so that it mounted behind the S350 front
wheels. XJ6 coil-over dampers were retained, with the lower end
mounting to a pressed steel plate and the top to the chassis, while
the complete Jaguar steering rack was also utilised although mounted
When customers received their cars all
they had to do was find an old Rover SD1 and butcher the following
components from it; engine, gearbox, clutch assembly, exhaust, rear
trailing arms, radiator, windscreen washer, instruments, handbrake
assembly, fuel tank unit and speedo cable, with half of the parts
being exchange items pre-modified by Nelson Motors.
All this meant that an S350 could
quite feasibly be built for around £5,000, and you even got a fitted
tonneau with the initial kit price.
On the road the car was a stunning
performer, with the chunky Jaguar mechanicals hardly stressed even
though the beefy S350 weighed in at around 800kgs, and its handling
was superb and roadholding and cornering were roller skate like, and
I remember being vividly impressed when I drove the car back in
1990. Performance from the lazy Buick derived eight cylinder was
also brutal, and remember that at the time the majority of Cobra
replicaís were Rover powered and the S350 weighed a good third less
than a typical fake snake, so it could really hustle
Why didnít the S350 sell in the
hundreds? Well it certainly wasnít the price tag, although because I
think the company offered so much with the standard kit I think they
didnít make enough on each car sold which is a problem. Also the
looks were a bit gawky and not that appealing to a younger audience,
but if you get the chance of one of the 30 out there somewhere, jump
at it because the S350 was a more than capable performer. It
deservedly takes its place in our ranks of great lost
Words by Steve Hole.
Photo from the TKC