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The car was designed by a group of ex-Lotus engineers led by Paul Haussauer with styling by John Frayling. The company was set up in 1969, and production started (at a new factory in Washington set up with the aid of a government grant) in 1971. The car was available in either kit of fully built versions. Although the car received good reviews and achieved some competition success, it was expensive at £1400 when compared with rivals. The company shut down in November 1973. Total production in this first phase was 315.
After closure the body moulds were bought by Andreas Kaisis , a businessman from Cyprus and owner of the Kaisis Motor Company. A mysterious time in the car's history started with disputes over ownership and replica body shells being made by copying an existing car. In 1982 the original moulds returned to the UK and experimental vehicles were made using various engines.
In 1982 some "unofficial" body moulds were bought by Peter McCandless who started a new company Clan Cars Ltd in Newtownards, Northern Ireland and built about 120 road cars and 10 competition cars. Contemporary advertisements give an amazing price range of from £1,200 to £10,000. The car, with a 998cc Imp engine, was improved with disc brakes. Other differences were its pop-up lights and a dashboard from the Ford Fiesta. The Crusader name was not used for these cars.
In 1985 Clan Cars developed a new, mid-engined version called the Clan Clover. It used an Alfa Romeo 1500cc flat-four engine and gearbox. It is believed that approximately 26 cars were made. Clan Cars ran into financial difficulties and went into receivership and ceased trading in 1987.