The Taylorspeed Story - 2
by Carlo Meschino
I am the registered owner of the original Taylorspeed Jem RKP-850 built by Sigmund Kwiatkowski which features in the February 1974 edition of Sports Car World. This article has a photo of the car’s shell awaiting its long awaited restoration.
I bought the car in 1977 from Sigmund who abandoned it in his back yard serving as a dog kennel where the soft interior was totally chewed up. He had bought himself a De Tomaso Pantera. The body however, is unmolested and in exceptional structural condition.
As John Taylor only built four Taylorspeed Jems, then the one I have would be the 5th Australian built Jem and the only one to my knowledge that has provenance. I also own the rights to the registration plates RWW-019 but not the car being the original Taylorspeed Jem built by John Taylor featured in the June 1969 edition of Sports Car World.
I met John Taylor at his Lotus dealership Taylors of Medindie in Adelaide who gave me 20 minutes of his time not long after buying mine. He was an interesting well accomplished and very helpful person. He gave me some of the original type written documents setting out the prices for the Jem when first marketed but he had moved on.
I also met Sigmund Kwiatkowski’s business partner, Neil Murrie at his Henley Beach Road Petrol Station back in the day, a real nice fellow. He had himself made his own Taylorspeed Jem for racing which was up for sale and out of my league but I was fortunate enough to score a brand new high rise bonnet to suit a Weber carburettor which was hanging off the service station workshop wall for A$40.00.
Research suggests that the John Taylor’s original car was storm damaged by Cyclone Tracy in 1974 in Darwin Northern Territory, Australia and later sold with its eventual fate unknown.
One of the John Taylor built Jems was shipped over to America in early 1970 as a promotional vehicle and it can be identified by its straight flat dashboard whereas the Kwiatkowski/Murrie built Jems had incorporated a curving centre console with the dashboard. (see barnfinds.com)
Other Taylorspeed Jem variants exist as a number of bodies were built and sold by Kwiatkowski/Murrie locally and to interstate buyers who then rebadged the body or added further modifications such as the square bottomed rear window etc.
The variant branded the Alda Jem advertised in 1970 Sydney would have been an original John Taylor Taylorspeed Jem as Kwiatkowski/Murrie only started building Jem bodies in 1973/74.
The original Taylorspeed moulds still in existence and up for sale show the back window or body was never changed or modified.
I have shown an account for three of the original John Taylor built Taylorspeed Jems and I have an inkling (but could be wrong) that the fourth car unaccounted for is the one raced by Sue Elliot in Western Australia having seen the bare body by chance when buying a cylinder head from the owner in Western Australia whilst on holidays in the late 70s but I can’t remember if the body had the moulded centre console as part of the dashboard.