The Clan Crusader

Clan Motor Company Crusader

Chances are you have never heard of the Clan Crusader, a fiberglass sports car from the 1970s that was the brainchild of two former Lotus employees, Paul Haussauer and Brian Luff. By 1971 Clan Motor Company had a 24,000sq.ft factory, 29 employees, and was producing five cars a week. The Crusader was powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine sourced from the Sunbeam Imp Sport. Weighing in at just 1,323lbs the Crusader could still get from 0-60 in 12.9 seconds, the same as a 1973 Honda Civic.

The monocoque bodied car was surprisingly strong and the contemporary motoring press loved the car and orders were flowing it. In 1972 the Crusader was priced at $1,850 which was less than an MG MGB, a Ford Pinto, or an AMC Gremlin. You could also purchase the Clan Crusader as a mostly assembled kit for $1,529 to avoid the taxes. 

In 1972, with Andy Dawson at the wheel, the Clan Crusader took 2nd place at the Manx Rally, Alan Conley took 1st place in the 1972 Tour of Mull. The car would win or podium at several more rallies and win first overall at the1974 British Caledonian Modsports and Sports and Special GT Championship. 

The Clan Motor Company Crusader

The Clan Motor Company Crusader

The 1973 Oil Crisis actually increased demand for the small sporty Crusader, but new taxes and other events caused the Clan to cease production of the Crusaders in November of 1973 after having made just 315 cars. Several other cars would be finished and sold by the receivers, and the company would be sold out of bankruptcy to truck manufacturer Andreas Kaisis of Cyprus. Kaisis planned to revive the Crusader and put it into production by the end of 1974 when the Turks invaded the island of Cyprus and the new factory was caught in the U.N. buffer zone, the factory remains empty to this day.

The Clan Motor Company Crusader

Meanwhile, in the UK, Brian Luff started producing new Crusader body shells and other parts, mainly to support motorsports or assist owners in rebuilding or repairing their existing cars. Luff would also sell bodies to people wanting to build a new Crusader from scratch until 1981.  

In 1982, Peter McCandless bought the unofficial molds from Brian Luff with the plans of restarting Clan Motor Company and improving the car for the 1980s. McCandless formed Clan Cars Ltd in Northern Ireland and produced roughly 130 cars in total. The Irish Clans had flip-up headlights, larger bumpers, and an updated dashboard borrowed from the Ford Fiesta. Clan Cars would also develop a mid-engine version called the Clan Clover, of which just 26 were made. Clan Cars would eventually also go bankrupt in the late 1980s after a reputation for quality issues damaged sales. 

Irish Built Clan Crusader

 At almost the same time as McCandless was launching Clan Cars, Ian Hopper and Paul Haussauer formed Clan Marketing, purchase two of the original cars shipped to Cyprus with plans to produce a new modern version of the Crusader. Once the cars arrived back in the UK they were used for development and while the company did develop several different shells using Ford, Peugeot, and Fiat Powertrains they never went into full-scale production. 

McCoy Kit Car

In 1984, yet another former Clan employee, Arthur Birchall, released his own version of the Clan Crusader, dubbed the McCoy. Based on a Mini, the FWD version of the Crusader had a taller hood and slightly reworked body panels to accommodate the Mini doner parts.  

While there has been talk of reviving the brand again (perhaps with different marketing), today the Clan Owner Club has secured most of the molds and tooling and produces replacement parts for owners seeking to keep the Clan on the road. They also have an extensive registry and even have a running list of missing Clan Crusaders which include historically significant cars like factory race cars or simply long lost cars sought by family members. Today nice versions of the Clan Crusader can be purchased for less than $10,000 USD, but rarely come up for sale outside of the UK.