Owen Wyn Owen
|Owen Wyn Owen|
|Died||March 2012 (aged 86–87)|
|Residence||Capel Curig, Snowdonia|
|Occupation||Lecturer in mechanics, car restorer|
|Known for||Restoration of antique cars, particularly Babs|
Owen Wyn Owen (1925 – March 2012) was an automobile restorer and mechanic. He lived in Capel Curig, Snowdonia. His working life was spent as a lecturer in engineering at Caernarfonshire Technical College in Bangor, but he is best known for his outside achievements. He died in March 2012
Restoration of Babs
His most famous restoration project, which received worldwide attention, was to excavate and restore Babs, after 40 years buried on a tidal beach. "Babs" was the car that in 1927, driven by J. G. Parry-Thomas, whilst attempting the land speed record at the time (180 mph or 290 km/h), crashed and killed the driver. The car was buried where the accident occurred on Pendine Sands.
In 1967 Wyn Owen decided to excavate and restore Babs. The site of the burial was identified from old photographs, but it was found to be within the perimeter of the present-day rocket establishment. The military authorities granted permission for the excavation on condition that Parry-Thomas's next of kin did not object. It took Wyn Owen two years to locate a living relative, a nephew living in Walsall, and finally the wreck was recovered. This recovery was controversial at the time, less so after the successful restoration. The prevailing opinion was that the wreck would be unsalveagable for anything more than a pitiful museum display. Few expected that the wreck would ever resemble a car again, let alone be restored to running order.
The car was indeed in appalling condition. Much of the bodywork had corroded, so a new body had to be constructed, melding in where possible any existing original material. The mechanical running gear though was in good condition. Even where components could not be used, they were sufficiently preserved to act as a pattern. The engine was salvageable, but many new replacement parts had to be made from original designs.
The car was first successfully tested on The Helyg straight in the early 1970s. The test consisted of being towed by the local garage owner's Land Rover (Dafydd Hughes and his mechanic Allan Hughes), to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) and then "Babs" was bump started. The gearing was so high that being towed was the only way to get "Babs" moving under her own power. The car was later successfully demonstrated in front of the world press and television on an air field near RAF Valley, Anglesey.
The restoration work took place in Owen's garage in Capel Curig, and "Babs" is now displayed in the Pendine Museum of Speed during the summer months. The car was run at the Brooklands Centenary in 2007
- "Biographical interview" (video catalogue entry online). National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. 1997.
- "A ride on the roller Coast". Coast. 24 June 2007. BBC2 Wales. http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/feature-news/tm_headline=a-ride-on-the-roller-coast&method=full&objectid=19344890&siteid=50082-name_page.html. "“a cartoon of a car” with all pistons burning, is let loose on Pendine Sands once again for the Coast series"