East Anglia in a windy Westfield Clubbie

Car: Westfield Sport 1600

Drive: Norfolk & Suffolk (130km)

Pix: Dawn Green


Flitting around the pretty English county of Norfolk in a green-and-yellow Clubman seems entirely appropriate, does it not?

After all, this picturesque part of East Anglia has long been home to that great marque, Lotus, whose original race livery comprised the very same colours. 

So, we’ve nailed our presentation, though there are a couple of small anomalies.

One, the ‘Clubbie’ is actually a Westfield – a Sport 1600, to give its exact nomenclature – though built very much in the spirit of the original Lotus Super 7 by Westfield Sportscars, of Kingswinford in the West Midlands. 

Two, having picked the ‘Westy’ up from Snetterton Sportscars near Banham, we’re heading south into Suffolk.

We could have gone north-west to Hunstanton and followed the A149 east along the rumpled coast to Wells Next The Sea, a route that is not just a great drive but one offering a diversity of enticements: the tastiest fish and chips, and ochre-toned sea cliffs unlike anywhere else in England, from where gulls bank in the wind and trawl the foaming surf beaches.

Or north-east, taking in a 100km loop through the flat, marshy Broads, on quiet roads that run true and windmills tilt their sails skyward. Blink and you could be in The Netherlands.

Instead, we’ve keyed the name ‘Lavenham’ into our trusty TomTom.

The route is approximately 100km long, and promises a sweet blend of fast sweeping and slower twisty bits along the A1071, A1141, B1115 and B1071. Our destination sounds impressive.

“Lavenham has been called ‘the most complete medieval town in Britain’, a tribute to its fine collection of medieval and Tudor architecture,” the tourism spiel goes.

Road and track ready.
Road and track-ready.


My wife was a little, err, hesitant at the thought of another outing in a Clubman.

Memories of our drive in a Caterham Roadsports 125 – as in the slimline, minimalist version used in the Caterham Academy one-make race series – on a sandpaper (wet and dry) day through the edgy Buttertubs Pass in Yorkshire a few years earlier were still abrasively raw.

This, I told her, will be different; this particular Westfield is of the wider-bodied type, with a civilised interior and wet weather protection. 

Already the ‘Westy’ is underwriting my reassurance. It does indeed have more room than the tight-waisted Caterham.

The seats are accommodating and trimmed in leather and, should the weather turn nasty, it boasts side screens, heated windscreen and fan heater.

The lockable boot has swallowed our photographic gear, coats and other bits and pieces and, with clear sky overhead, the top is down. All is well with the world.

Lavenham historic streetscape.
Lavenham historic streetscape.


Entering Lavenham, we park and set off exploring. As with most historic British communities, the older buildings are centred on the market place.

Here, we find the 16th century Guildhall and even-earlier market cross. The latter, so legend has it, was the scene of cruel bear-baiting competitions during the late medieval and Tudor periods. 

The Wool Hall is another significant half-timbered building, homage to the source of Lavenham’s considerable wealth that harks back to the Middle Ages.

Our little journey of discovery is already showing Lavenham lives up to the hype.

Medieval charm can be found at every turn of its narrow streets and lanes; centuries-old, timber-framed buildings washed in evocative shades of pink, off-white, ochre and other earthy tones. 

There is, of course, a more recent chapter to Lavenham’s rich and lengthy narrative.

During World War II, its airfield was home to the 487th Bombardment Group of the 8th US Army Air Force, which flew 185 missions and more than 6000 sorties over occupied Europe.

And as any Harry Potter aficionado will surely tell you, it was Lavenham that provided inspiration for the village of Godric’s Hollow.

The Bell Inn Kersey.
The Bell Inn, Kersey.


Kersey, just 13km down the A1141, is Lavenham in miniature. It’s rightly rated one of the most beautiful villages in England, so stopping off here next sounds like a plan.

With the sun well and truly over the yard arm, we have a drink at The Bell Inn. 

Most British pubs ooze atmosphere and character, and The Bell does it as good as the best.

The lunch trade has come and gone, and mine hostess takes the time to come from behind the bar to sit and chat with my wife – as women do. 

I know my place so, pint in hand, wander outside and survey the main street.

It’s been said that Kersey ravishes the eye, its steep slope descending to a ford in the main street where ducks have right-of-way, and rising again to the imposing tower of St Mary’s Church. Too right.

The Westy’s tyre valve stems get splashed traversing the aforesaid ford as we depart, making a beeline for Snetterton. 

Heading for home.
Heading for home.


Out on the open road, it’s time to see just what the she’s got.

With just 600+ kg to haul, the upgraded 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine’s 101kW goes a long way.

0-100km/h is a reputed (and credible) 5.4 seconds, but it’s the meaty mid-range that truly impresses and delights.

Under power or on over-run, the Ford four-pot gives off a sporty note without being look-at-me raucous. 

You sit straight-legged, with steering wheel and gearshift well to hand; clutch take-up nicely-weighted with no excessive travel; gear shifts short and sweet.

The steering feels heavy, but communicative; middle pedal firm, yet well up to the job.

Pitch the ‘Westy’ into a series of twisties and its low centre of gravity and light weight comes to the fore. Turn-in is incisive, grip from the 205/50 R15 rubber present and accounted for, lateral roll absent. 

The trade-off for tight suspension travel can be a rough ride but, while understandably firm, the Westfield feels well short of crashy.

So, what’s not to like? Well, the turning circle is wide, and the long bonnet, low seating and fixed race harness limits peripheral vision around town.

Originally opened as a racing circuit in 1953, Snetterton is the site of another former WWII base, RAF Snetterton Heath, which, like Lavenham was later used by the USAAF.

Located on the A11 near Thetford and close to Norwich, Snetterton plays host to the British Touring Car Championship and other national meetings. 

With the light soft in the late afternoon, it makes a fitting backdrop for a gallery of atmospheric shots of the Westy.

Fast forward a few years, and they continue to serve as a colourful keep-sake of time well-spent matching a characterful car with captivating countryside.     

Not as minimalist as some Clubman.
Not as minimalist as some Clubman.


Westfield Sport 1600

Basic price: N/A

Engine: 1.6-litre Ford Sigma DOHC 16v 4-cyl

Power: 101kW

Torque: 201Nm

Transmission: 5-spd manual

Weight: 600kg+

Drive: Rear-wheel

0-100km/h: 5.4 secs


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