kleinig rob roy

(George Thomas)

Frank Kleinig, awesome driver that he was, attacks Rob Roy Hillclimb, left front pawing the air in his self built Kleinig Hudson Spl, 1947…

He won the Australian Hillclimb championship twice, at Rob Roy in 1948 and Hawkesbury in 1949, on both occasions at the wheel of this iconic and still extant Hudson straight-8 powered special.

Frank Leonard Kleinig was born on 10 November 1911 and died on 27 May 1976- he was one of the greatest of Australian racers of the inter and early post-war period who really should have won an AGP or two but never quite pulled it off in a career which went all the way from 1936 into the dawn of the sixties.

This is far from a complete history of the man but rather a story built around the ‘Kirby-Deering Special’ aka the ‘Kleinig Hudson Special’. Please treat the article as ‘work in progress’, some of you will have records that I do not, not least David Rapley who restored the car for its Melbourne enthusiast owner Tom Roberts.

I thought, ‘i’ll chuck it up with what I have and modify from there’ rather than try for perfection before uploading.

Mind you, the work online of John Medley and Bob King have unearthed some amazing fresh photographs from the Kleinig Family Collection via Daniel Kleinig and other information in the last couple of weeks. My contact is mark@bisset.com.au. The thing is 10,000 words now, a two beer read, let’s go for another 2,000 or so of detail…

The ill-fated Buckley/Kleinig combination aboard the McIntyre Hudson at Phillip Island in November 1935 (B King Collection)

 

‘The Car’ 15 November 1935 via (B King Collection)

John Medley advises that young mechanic Kleinig’s opportunity to race came about due to the misfortune of his boss at Kirby Engineering, EJ ‘Joe’ Buckley who had established his own competition reputation as an inter-capital record setter of considerable national renown.

Kleinig, employed by Kirby’s, accompanied driver Buckley who was racing one of the two racers owned by ‘McIntyre’s Picture Circuits’ theatre owner/entrepreneur William August ‘Gus’ McIntyre at Phillip Island for the first race meeting held on the new 3.312 mile ‘triangular road course’ on the Melbourne Cup long weekend, 6 November 1935.

Gus owned both the McIntyre Hudson/Hudson Special, a modified Hudson drophead and was in the process of construction of the Kirby-Deering Special (KD) a wild, Miller supercharged straight-eight powered racer of more anon.

Phillip Island in its original rectangular, circa 6 miles form, with its narrow, undulating, fast and dangerous gravel/sand surface was deemed too hazardous to hold the Australian Grand Prix, so a shorter course was mapped and used. It seems the last meeting on the original track was the ‘Winter 100’ handicap 100 miler won by Alf Barrett’s Morris Cowley Spl on 3 June 1935.

The new layout formed a ‘traditional triangle’ and included the whole of the old Pit Straight, inclusive of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ corners with the apex of the triangle formed by ‘School’ corner.

Buckley, with Kleinig as riding mechanic was entered in the all-comers 116 mile handicap ‘Australian Race Drivers Cup’.

John Medley wrote that the start/finish line was opposite the School House. Buckley, who started from scratch carrying #1, crashed at School House Corner, almost but not quite completing the first lap. The car rolled, Buckley’s feet were caught in the pedals with Kleinig thrown clear, badly bruised but ok.

Spectators and officials rushed forward, rolled the hefty Hudson back onto its wheels. The badly injured Buckley- who broke his back either in the initial roll or the Good Samaritan one which followed, was hospitalised in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital and later a Sydney facility for months, never to race again.

The Melbourne Age speculated that the accident was caused by the very dusty conditions and a bump ‘wide out’ which he is thought to have hit, ‘tripping’ the car, but the race promoters, the ARDC were having none of that- ‘It was claimed that the dust on the corner was responsible, but this is wrong, as there was not a car within two-hundred yards of School Corner at the time. It appears that he was trying to make up his handicap of over sixteen minutes, and took the corner a trifle too fast…’

Bowral’s Les Burrows, in another Hudson Terraplane won the race in 1 hour 47 minutes 21 seconds, an average of 64.83mph (see Etcetera section at this pieces end for a bit more about Les) from the G Bastow, Singer Le Mans and Harry Beith’s Chrysler.

Whilst Buckley was being looked after in hospital Kleinig repaired the car and drove it back to Sydney- and shortly thereafter was offered the drive by McIntyre.

(B King Collection)

Clive Gibson, Kleinig employee and later owner of the McIntyre Hudson, said to John Medley that FK didn’t rate Joe’s talents at the wheel ‘FK thought Joe a poor driver who looked dangerous on the first few corners and turned over on lap one.’

The McIntyre Hudson was originally a hobby/plaything for the wealthy cinema owner, who had led a remarkable life, he travelled widely, had varied sporting interests including  motorcycle racing, Kings Cup shooting, rowing, yachting and fishing before his decade long motor sport career. The McIntyre Hudson was built for serious intent though- a race across Africa in 1936, that event was abandoned after Italy invaded Abyssinia, the car was then deployed for a full life in Australia- races, hillclimbs, sprints, trials and as a fast road machine, happily it still exists.

McIntyre knew Kleinig, he ‘used to get his cylinder heads from Kirby’s, who cast and machined them, and he had his eye on Frank as a likely youngster, so, when he decided to build a special racing car (the KD)…he got Frank into the plot’ wrote Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports.

Frank owned and had a tragic accident in a Bugatti Brescia in June 1933, but his competition in that car, if any, seems to have been limited- more of the Brescia later. Note that by the standards of the time the monoposto, 175 or thereabouts bhp KD was a very quick machine in which to commence ones racing career- starting in an F2 car is perhaps to put the scale of the challenge in a modern context.

Maybe, although results published on Trove (Australian digital newspaper archive) do not support it, Kleinig was blooded initially in the McIntyre?

Whatever the case, Kleinig was immediately quick in the Kirby-Deering, his first race, according to Barry Lake was at Penrith Speedway when the track was re-opened by Frank Arthur in June 1936.

It is not clear exactly when the long awaited Kirby-Deering first turned a wheel but it seems that FK’s first public drive of the car was during the Saturday 1 February 1936 annual New South Wales Light Car Club organised speed record attempts held on Canberra’s Northbourne Avenue- a straight, well surfaced stretch of road ideal for the purpose.

Only seven cars took the challenge that year, the quickest of which was Tom Peters in the ex-Bill Thompson twice AGP winning Bugatti T37A, he did the Flying Mile in 106.8mph- a bit slower than the state mark set by Thompson the year before at 112mph.

Second quickest was the Kirby-Deering at 105.8mph, the Referee reported that ‘This Sydney built hybrid has taken nearly two years to get into competition, but it shows great possibilities. It was probably “over-trained” on the morning of the contest: the driver, young Frank Kleinig, usually occupies the mechanics seat and during the runs the broken exhaust note told of plug trouble. But once the car gets going, Thompson’s mile record is in danger.’

Gus McIntyre, driving the McIntyre Hudson, proved the low end grunt of his mount by completing the first half in 108.4mph but fell away towards the end for a 103.4mph average.

The KD is fifth from the bottom in this shot #6 with Kleinig about to mount up for the 50 Mile Olympic (as in tyres) Handicap at Victor Harbor (spelling correct) during the SA Centenary meeting second day on 29 December 1936- the 1936 AGP was run on Boxing Day. Its a rare shot so indulge me despite the Kirby-Deering being a tad difficult to see. From the bottom is #1 J Fagan MG K3, then Tom Peters Bugatti T37A, then Lord Waleran and Lyster Jackson in K3’s- then #6 Kleinig. #12 is Les Burrows Hudson, #17 the Harry Beith Terraplane and the light coloured car with a dark bonnet is Jack Phillips Ford V8 Spl (R Garth)

That year Kleinig contested speedway events, hillclimbs and the blue-riband 1936 Australian Grand Prix (South Australian Centenary GP) held on the challenging, once only used, gravel, Victor Harbor-Port Elliott road circuit that December 26, he retired after 6 laps with a burst radiator having driven the McIntyre Hudson.

Kleinig practiced the Kirby-Deering and McIntyre the ‘Hudson Terraplane’ (McIntyre Hudson) that weekend.

The Adelaide News reported that Kleinig was one of the most spectacular drivers of the meeting and that he ran out of fuel at Nangawooka Hairpin and had to walk half a mile back to the pits to get replenishment. No times were taken of the sessions, it seems that McIntyre/Kleinig determined the more appropriate mount for the fast, sandy-gravel course was the McIntyre Hudson so the K-D was put to one side for the Centenary Grand Prix but was raced in the ‘Olympic 50 Mile Handicap’ event on 29 December.

Held three days after the GP, another large crowd, this time estimated at over 20,000 people watched Stanley Woods win the Junior and Senior TT events on Velocettes, ‘the most exciting race was the car event in which great great speed and superb cornering brought spectators to their feet in the stands.’

Barney Dentry won in a Riley from Lord Waleran in John Snow’s MG K3 Magnette and Les Burrows’ Hudson third- Frank was not mentioned in the Advertisers race report other than that he was twelfth of fifteen starters in the K-D.

FK taking mum for a ride I wonder? Slender body by Gough Bros, Sydney, what is the lever on this side? Road registration makes it a wild road car! (Kleinig Family)

Kirby-Deering Special design, construction and development…

Gus McIntyre clearly had his public relations machine working, expectations of the completion of his new car were being speculated upon in the press later in 1934, in time for the Victorian Centenary 300 mile Grand Prix albeit the car did not finally appear until late 1935, one report had it that initial test runs would be conducted on the Bulli Pass- now that would have been exciting for anybody in the area at the time!

The basis of the car was an MG Magna ‘L Type’ tourer owned by noted Australian racing driver, speedway promoter, businessman and later President of The Royal Automobile Club of Australia, John Sherwood.

Sherwood recalled the machine in ‘Cars and Drivers’ ‘I also owned an ‘L’ type Magna…I sold it to the late WA McIntyre who had a saloon body fitted to it. He and his wife were big people and couldn’t fit into it without great discomfort so he eventually removed the body and gave the chassis to Frank Kleinig. This became the basis of the 1.5 litre Miller engined Kirby-Deering Special and later the Kleinig Hudson.’

WA McIntyre was immaculately connected and had a couple of titans of Australian industry in James Norman Kirby (later Sir James) and Harold Hastings Deering supporting his exotic new racing car- separately both men created enormous fortunes.

In Kirby’s case, he was born in Sydney, educated in Newtown and was initially apprenticed as a motor mechanic. After the success of a small enterprise repairing motor-cycles he established James N Kirby Pty Ltd in 1924- an automotive engine rebuilding business which in time employed Buckley and Kleinig.

He later expanded into the importation and assembly of cars and the manufacture of electrical whitegoods, machine tools, ordnance, establishment of an assembly plant for cars (British Motor Corporation at Zetland) and much more. Despite his modest formal education he was involved as a leader in industry bodies and was appointed as a Director of some of Australia’s largest companies including Qantas- he was knighted in 1962.

Born in Ashfield, Sydney in 1896 Hastings travelled to the UK and was commissioned in the British Army before transferring to the the Royal Flying Corps and later the RAF during the War. He served in England and France in the same squadron as (Sir) Charles Kingsford-Smith.

After postwar employment in the UK, upon return to Australia he set up Deering Engineering Co, establishing an agency for AEC bus manufacturers in Australia. He later had what was the largest Ford Dealership in the world- the sole metropolitan distributorship for Ford in Sydney selling 7,000 new and 12,000 used cars a year! Later he obtained the Caterpillar agency- Hastings Deering still holds that and more.

The smart-arse observation is that with backers of this wealth- noting that both men were still ‘on the up’ in the mid-thirties, why not have bought a Miller car, rather than ‘just’ the engine…Then again, maybe it was about good old Aussie enterprise? The commercial arrangements between the parties would be interesting to know.

Kirby died on 30 July 1971 and Deering on 16 June 1965, both in Sydney at Vaucluse and Homebush respectively.

By 1932 the Australia Street Newtown workshops of James N Kirby Pty Ltd were too small for the 25 employees, so the move was made to a larger freehold property at 75-85 Salisbury Road Camperdown that March- it is here, 4km from central Sydney that the Kirby-Deering Special was constructed.

The Sydney Referee’s 25 October 1934 issue reported that Joe Buckley was in charge of the cars build, in more modern times the credit for the KD is attributed to Kleinig solely- period newspaper articles suggest this is incorrect whilst noting that Frank was a key part of the team which built the thing.

The Magna chassis was used fitted with the front and back axles of a four-cylinder French Mathis car. The semi-elliptic springs were a Magna-Mathis combination with the back axle located above the chassis. The huge drum brakes of the Mathis were also deployed.

‘For better cornering the chassis is crab-tracked being several inches wider in the front than in the back.’

The streamlined steel body was built by Gough Brothers who had also created the body of the Stewart Enterprise land speed record car- lets leave that particular tangent well alone.

Doug Ramsay, FK’s apprentice, Jack Stevens of Silex Mufflers, FK and WA McIntyre- date and place unknown (C Gibson)

 

Kleinig, Kirby-Deering Spl, Penrith 1937 (Kleinig Family)

 

Harry Arminius Miller with one of his centrifugally supercharged 1.5 litre straight-8’s (unattributed)

 

Kirby-Deering Miller Spl, rare shot of the 1.5 litre s-8 centrifugal supercharged engine. Chassis MG Magna, brakes and front axle Mathis. Of the Olympic Air Ride tyres racer/engineer/restorer Greg Smith wrote ‘…we called them ‘Slippery Sams’ as they had no grip at all. Beaurepaire’s were the owners of Olympic Tyres, so called because Sir Frank Beaurepaire was an Olympic swimmer (3 silver and 3 bronze medals in the London, Antwerp and Paris games and 15 world records). Question- Is the small cog wheel and worm used as a rack drive accelerator by pushing the worm axle or a rotary motion for mixture?’ Greg concludes ‘The engine has the uber expensive Robert Bosch 8 cylinder racing magneto, in todays money GB pound 10,000 for a second hand one’ (Kleinig Family)

‘The Referee’ recorded that the motor ‘…is the supercharged 8-cylinder Miller engine, which was in the car that came second in the Indianapolis 500 four years ago…’ Shorty Cantlon was second in 1930 aboard the ‘Miller Schofield’, a Stevens Miller engine/chassis combination which was also raced by that years winner, Billy Arnold.

The quoted power of these 91.5cid engines was initially 154bhp @ 7000rpm but that rose with refinement to both the engine itself and it’s intercoolers.

The motor was cast in two blocks of four cylinders, the crank having four main white metal bearings. Two valves per cylinder were driven by twin-overhead camshafts, ‘the centrifugal blower revs at five times engine speed and is driven off a big ring gear in front of the flywheel. Normal revs are 7000.’

The KD’s gearbox was a Mathis three speed attached to a Mathis differential via a short, strong driveshaft two feet six inches in length.

The complete car was expected to weigh 13 1/2 cwt and had an estimated top speed of 130mph- at that time the KD was anticipated to race in the upcoming Phillip Island meeting on 27 October and then at Maroubra in Sydney’s southern beachside suburbs on 24 November 1934.

Frank and his team surrounded by admirers in Canberra after the May 1937 Speed Trials- note the discs on the wheels and special guards at the front to reduce air resistance- car very handsome in this specification- Kirby Deering Miller Spl (A Collingridge)

 

Sydney ‘Referee’ 29 April 1937

The Referee’s 3 January 1935 article reported on the frantic work being carried out to have the car ready for the New Years Day Victorian Centenary meeting at Phillip Island reflecting upon five months work to get to that point, ‘The streamlined body was a thing of beauty and…loving craftsmanship put into the job’. The plan was to complete the machine, truck the car to the Island and test it there.

Problems immediately arose when the exotic engine was started, despite a ‘satisfying clamour water oozed through the plugs, the defect was traced to metal inserts holding the blocks- apparently the rubber grommets had perished’. The towel was thrown in after attempts at soldering failed.

The car was weighed- with Buckley, who was to drive at the Island aboard, 28 gallons of fuel and 5 gallons of oil the racer weighed 17cwt ‘quite Grand Prix-ish’.

‘When the trouble has been cleared up it is likely the Kirby-Deering will attempt the mile records, standing and flying’…albeit that would be twelve months hence!

Bob Pritchett picks up the challenges of the cars early development in AMS.

‘At first, the car whilst extremely fast, was also extremely hard to handle, and it was only by a painstaking process of trial and error and experiments with weight distribution, steering geometry and ratios, shock absorbers, spring rates and so on (at one time the car carried 2 cwt of lead ballast aft so that the rear springs would work), that it was brought to the stage that it could be driven up to its potential performance.’

‘Even then the final drive ratio was too high; the Miller engine didn’t get really cracking until it was spinning at over 6200rpm and Frank says that by the time he had wound it up to this pitch the car was starting to take off properly- he had usually reached the stage where he was running out of straight and he had to begin all over again…at the Canberra Speed Trial he entered the flying mile in second gear and covered the distance at an average of 117mph, crossing the line at something over 135, he thinks that, given sufficient breathing space, she could have been worked up to about 145 or more mph. Not bad for a home-made 1 1/2 litre special. The supercharger was geared to about five and a bit times engine speed, which means that at times it was turning at 42000rpm, which is a bit staggering when you come to think of it.’

With the development of the car ongoing, it was almost unbeatable in Frank’s hands at Penrith in 1936 and 1937, he had become almost a household name in Sydney, until a spectacular rollover there on Monday 26 April 1937.

He was lucky to escape injury from the accident- having strayed to the edge of the track, the car tripped flinging him free, then rolled several times and ‘crashed down a foot of where he lay stunned’ bruised and battered but otherwise ok.

In the best racing tradition FK worked all week to repair the damage and carry complete some detailed streamlining of the KD inclusive of discs on the wheels to allow him to run at the annual Canberra Speed Trials in May 1937.

Frank did 116.9mph over the measured quarter of a mile besting Bill Thompson’s Bugatti T37A’s 112mph. His standing quarter mile time was also quickest of the day at 16.6 seconds from Jack Saywell’s Railton 4.1 litre.

Kleinig at speed on Northbourne Avenue on one of the KD’s runs in 1937. Even tho it’s not sharp note the largely covered radiator, with only a small hole for air and the fairings over the front wheels. Marvellous (Kleinig Collection)

 

Kirby-Deering, a bit of a mystery shot as to location and driver, perhaps Tom Peters, Tim Shellshear thinks (T Shellshear)

 

Another cracker of a shot from Daniel Kleinig this time of the exhaust side of the KD which appears, with vestigial rear guards, set up for a trial- the actual venue a hillclimb coz there is a hill present…venue anyone? Love the heart shaped grille (Kleinig Family)

 

Kleinig in the McIntyre Hudson from KR McDonald, Standard Spl during the Interstate GP, Wirlinga, Albury in March 1938, DNF. Jack Phillips won in a Ford V8 Spl

Kirby-Deering Special evolves into the Hudson Special…

During 1937 Kleinig continued to race the McIntyre Hudson as well as the KD amongst other things setting hillclimb records at Cessnock (Mount View), Waterfall Gully and Broughton Pass, all in New South Wales.

The Kirby-Deering proved itself a great sprint car but was dogged by unreliability in longer distance events and so ‘The pale blue Kirby Deering Spl was rebuilt into the royal blue Kleinig Spl with 4168cc Hudson 8 power for the 1938 Bathurst AGP (and was beaten only once at Penrith in this form)’ wrote John Medley.

‘While the Miller 8 motor was superb and effective for the rolling starts of Penrith Speedway, the torquey Hudson 8 was considered better equipment for the swoops and dives of Bathurst. Right idea- but the strengthened chassis and MG brakes were found to be deficient. The development of the Kleinig Hudson proceeded over the next 15 years’.

The exotic Miller engine was put to one side of the Kirby workshop- lets come back to it later on.

Kleinig’s AGP on the new Mount Panorama tourist road only lasted 5 laps, he was out with a broken fan belt, the race won in dominant style by the visiting Peter Whitehead in his ERA B Type ‘R10B’. Some compensation for Frank was a win in a short handicap preliminary earlier in the day.

Legend has it that ‘Conrod Straight’ at Bathurst acquired its name as a consequence of a big blow up of FK’s Hudson engine during the second Easter meeting in 1939, the rod punched a big hole in the block. The 1940 Bathurst program named the straight ‘Conrod’ and FK had the errant component chrome plated as a keepsake!

1939 started well with Frank’s first visit to Rob Roy during the New Years weekend- he had the big Hudson running beautifully and became the first driver to go under 30 seconds, setting a new record at 29.72 seconds.

The great form transferred to Aspendale Speedway when FK unofficially broke the lap record set by Peter Whitehead’s ERA B Type during his long successful tour of Australia the year before.

During 1939 McIntyre sold (or gave?) the Hudson Special to Kleinig which henceforth became the Kleinig Hudson Special. In the lead up to the 1939 Easter meeting the car had been lightened and its MG Magna brakes replaced by more powerful Minerva ones with Perrot operation, and the cars wheels modified to accommodate the big brakes.

Gus also sold the McIntyre Hudson to a Mrs Dixon, a divorced lady friend of her chosen driver, Kevin Salmon, at the same time- the car was entered as the ‘Salmon Motors Special’ during this period.

Medley wrote ‘Unfortunately Mrs Dixon surprised Salmon in bed with her daughter (testing the sponsors product, as it were) and she promptly sold the car to Frank Kleinig, who occasionally raced it post-war.’ Medley notes by that stage the car had been raced, hillclimbed and sprinted by McIntyre, Les Burrows, Joe Buckley and Frank Kleinig.

Despite the loss of his sponsor, Salmon continued his racing career into the sixties in an MG.

Kleinig’s speed and the effectiveness of the cars ongoing development as noted above, was amply demonstrated that Easter when he seemed assured of victory only to hear the death rattle of failed bearings end his race, victory going to John Sherwood’s  MG NE.

Better luck was in the offing during the October meeting when the car, painted red was second in the 150 mile race behind John Snow’s Delahaye 135CS and ahead of Bob Lea-Wright’s Hudson.

(JO Sherwood)

Two views of FK during the Easter, April meeting in 1939- the shot above shows Kleinig being closely watched by spectators as he apexes Hell Corner to head up Mountain Straight- with the pits and Pit Straight behind him.

The one below shows him exiting Murrays, at the bottom of Conrod Straight, entering Pit Straight. Its not the most beautiful of cars but brutally purposeful, distinctive and attractive if not seductive.

Mount Panorama 1939 (unattributed)

 

(JO Sherwood)

The way it was, Bathurst again, this time the line up for the 150 Mile Race, October 1939 meeting.

Up front is Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza, then Colin Dunne’s MG K3 Magnette and beyond that John Snow’s slinky #14 Delahaye 135CS. #9 is the John Snow owned ex-Phil Garlick Alvis of 1920’s Maroubra fame- the machine that weekend driven by John Barraclough.

#3 is the McKellar Ford V8 Spl- this car famous as the ex-Bill Thompson twice AGP winning Bugatti Type 37A and infamous as the car, driven by Wal James, went into the crowd at Penrith in June 1938 killing three people- and then #2 Frank’s by then Kleinig Hudson Spl and then alongside the McIntyre Hudson, by then Salmon Special, driven by Kevin Salmon but owned by our Mrs Dixon.

The photograph is interesting in no shortage of ways not least to show the ‘competitive set’ in that immediate pre-War, and post-War period for that matter. The balance of the 150 Mile field was made up of MG T Series, Hudson/Terraplane Specials and Ford V8 Specials- and others with the only ‘Top Gun’ cars missing from this line-up Allan Tomlinson’s 1939 AGP winning MG TA Spl s/c, John Crouch’s Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Le Mans and Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3.

The interesting story about Saywell’s aristocratic Grand Prix Alfa Romeo is that the engine was damaged in a workshop cock-up by the cars imported British mechanic- he goofed the engine’s timing and when turned over valves and pistons made contact in a manner not intended by Vittorio Jano.

Saywell, not confident the engine could be rebuilt in Australia despatched it by ship back to Italy whereupon ’twas never seen again- perhaps the exotic aluminium 2.9 litre supercharged straight-8 ended up somewhere between Jones Bay Wharf and Genoa. It raced on post-War with ‘black-iron’ engines fitted but was not reunited with an engine of original specification until restored in the early-sixties.

Superb shot of FK in the KH Spl heading into Quarry from Mountain Straight during the October 1939 Bathurst meeting (J Shepherd)

 

Kleinig whistling thru Lobethal township at speed during the 1939 AGP weekend at (N Howard)

The 1939 AGP was held on the fast, daunting, Lobethal Adelaide Hills bitumen road circuit.

Like all of the big cars Frank fried his tyres in the incredibly hot conditions. He and John Snow were the backmarkers, off 4 minutes 15 seconds, Frank only lasted 3 laps, the race was won by the vary fast, canny West Australian, Allan Tomlinson in a lithe, nimble, beautifully set up and prepared supercharged MG TA Spl off 11 minutes 30 seconds- one of the great AGP wins and a wonderful story (written) for another time.

The last Bathurst meeting pre-War was in 1940 by which time the Mathis gearbox casing was fitted with four close ratios, Frank was sixth plagued by carburettor troubles the race won by Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza- he, like so many other young Australian racers was soon off to War.

Just how large a number of Australian racers took up the challenge of defending our freedoms from 1939-1945 is explored in a whole chapter devoted to the topic of John Medley’s ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’. In that context this snippet on the owner/sponsor of the McIntyre Hudson and Kirby-Deering Spl/Kleinig Hudson Spl is amazing and sobering.

’The Australian (war death) toll was no less (to that of the Europeans)- particularly in proportion to overall population. Even old hands were not spared: Walter Augustus McIntyre had been Frank Kleinig’s patron in the late 1930’s, had run in the typical trials of the day during and before that time, and been the man behind the McIntyre Hudson, built strong for the trans-Africa race of 1936 that did not happen because of Italy’s attack on Abyssinia. He was not a young man and was not in good health. He chose to do his bit in the war by carrying out private patrols of the NSW coast in his own boat, looking for submarines and any other enemy force. On one night patrol he became soaked in the very wet conditions, contracted pneumonia, and died’ in a Sydney private hospital about 27 June 1944 aged 59.

Post war the Kleinig Hudson was still competitive, winning the first event held at Bathurst, a hillclimb in January 1946.

Handicap meetings continued as standard fare across Australia for a while yet, Frank took a last lap win over the John Crouch MG in the ‘Victory Trophy’ at Strathpine, Queensland in August 1946.

Together with Crouch’s Delahaye 135CS he was off scratch in the Bathurst, 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix but clutch problems outed him early in the 150 mile race won by Alf Najar’s MG TB Monoposto Special.

Stunning clear photograph by a ‘Pix’ snapper. Mathis beam front axle, big mechanical drum brakes all around, ‘up and over’ exhaust for the side-valve straight-8 at this stage fed by a single carb, make? Note also the steering box and drag link (SLNSW)

The photo above is in the Mount Panorama pits, October 1946 during the New South Wales Grand Prix weekend. Kleinig was the limit man together with John Crouch’ Delahaye 135CS, DNF after completing only five laps, Alf Najar was the winner as noted above.

Note FK with kidney-belt on about to address the mechanicals- see the single carburettor being run at this meeting/stage of development in contrast with what was to come as below!

In 1947 Frank returned to Rob Roy with the Kleinig Hudson but Arthur Wylie triumphed that day, winning the Australian Hillclimb Championship with a time of 29.18 seconds in his ‘Wyliecar’ Ford A Model Special.

Undeterred, he returned to the Christmas Hills, outer Melbourne venue the following year and took the title doing a 28.72 seconds run- his ‘supertweak’ that year was using 7200rpm- that poor side-valve motor, and therefore using second gear for most of the journey. His good form carried over to his home turf when he took the 1948 title as well at the Hawkesbury climb that April.

The 1947 AGP was run at Bathurst with FK suffering a major engine failure on lap 27- the winner, Bill Murray’s MG TC.

Stunning shot of the KH straight-8 Hudson side valve engine in 1947 or 1948 at Rob Roy. Have you ever seen so many gee-gaws, bell cranks and levers in your life?! Four Amal carbs feeding eight cylinders, head- still side-valve cast by FK and his water injection system- the rail above the carb bell mouths carries water not fuel. Chromium plated exhausts are ‘up and over’ to get them away from induction side apparatus (E Davey-Milne)

 

Racer Earl Davey-Milne inspects the engineering marvel which is the KH straight-8 (E Davey-Milne)

In 1949 Kleinig was the favourite to win the AGP at the Leyburn, Queensland airfield track after a political dispute over the location of the race resulted in the Victorian drivers declining to enter- Barrett, Gaze, Davison, Dean and Whiteford included.

Putting that to one side, Kleinig’s pace was demonstrated at Bathurst that Easter with a win in the 25 lap over 1500cc Handicap and third in the All Powers 25 lap Handicap- and fastest times in both races, there was life in the old dog yet, over short distances at least.

Graham Howard’s account of the Leyburn event in the ‘History of the AGP’ records that ‘Kleinig’s continual development of the straight 8 side-valve Hudson engine had resulted in a car which could run a standing start quarter mile in under 15 secs and exceed more than 125mph’.

‘Among Kleinig’s modifications were a supplementary oil system which used an external pump driven from the nose of the crank by a chain, and a form of water injection direct into the special Kleinig cast cylinder head, with pressure from the water supply coming-ingeniously-from a line tapped into the exhaust system. Pre-race testing showed this gave much more pressure than was needed so a blow-off was fitted. The red Hudson was an intensely developed fiery style of car-which perfectly matched Kleinig’s driving. Probably at the time only Alf Barrett was faster, and plenty of people would argue about that too.’

In the race Kleinig started from pole position, it was the first time the grid of an AGP was based on practice times- a scratch rather than a handicap race, he led from the off but was in the pits by lap 9 as the water injection blow-off valve was discharging water onto the plugs.

He rejoined the race a lap behind the John Crouch driven Delahaye 135CS and soon after the car threw its water pump as a consequence of lots of loose road metal after completing 21 of the 35 laps, John Crouch won in the ex-John Snow Delahaye 135CS- some small compensation for Frank was sharing the fastest lap of the race with Crouch.

1949 AGP grid, Leyburn Qld, Dick Bland in George Reed Ford V8 Spl, #15 Keith Thallon, Jaguar SS100 #4 Crouch in the winning Delahaye 135CS, #8 Arthur Rizzo, Riley Spl and then Kleinig. Second row from this side, Alan Larsen, Regal Cadillac Spl, Snow Sefton Strathpine Ford V8 Spl and Rex Law Buick Spl. #3 is Arthur Bowes Hudson Spl #25 Doug McDonald Bugatti Dodge and #18 Garry Coglan MG TC Spl (unattributed)

 

FK in the Kleinig Hudson, Hell Corner, Mount Panorama 1951 (C Gibson)

 

Missing from the Mount Panorama grids in 1950 he returned in Easter 1951 but was out of luck in the over 1500cc handicap, having missed practice, with points which had closed up, but he was second in the 3 lap scratch behind Jack Saywell’s Cooper- the crowd roared approval of the two old warriors- FK and the car when Kleinig had the race won from the back of the grid only to have momentary fuel starvation gift Saywell’s new-fangled Cooper JAP 1100 the win out of Murrays on the last lap.

In October he was third in the Championship Scratch behind Whiteford’s Talbot-Lago T26C and Lex Davison’s Alfa Romeo P3, in the Redex 50 Mile feature he retired shortly after encountering brake troubles- Whiteford the winner of the scratch section of the race.

Into 1952 the car could still attract headlines, a Sydney Morning Herald banner in February proclaimed the cars top speed of 123mph at Mount Druitt.

Frank entered his faithful steed in the 1952 AGP at Bathurst but there were plenty of new kids on the block in the form of Whitefords Talbot Lago T26C, Jones Maybach and Coopers- the poor Kleinig Hudson was simply too old in the brave new world of scratch racing and the growing number of cars acquired to win outright- the big straight-8 cried enough after completing four laps and Doug Whiteford won the second of his three AGP’s- he would triumph again in the same car at Albert Park in 1953- his Ford V8 Special ‘Black Bess’ provided his first win at Nuriootpa in 1950.

Finally, and for the only time, Kleinig finished an AGP, in seventh place with one plug lead missing and only first and top gear in use towards the end- incredibly so, despite the advancing years of car and driver- with Frank pushing with all of his fire and brimstone he was third behind Jones and Whiteford at the end of the first Albert Park lap and still third by the end of lap 14 behind Jones- another fiery press-on character and Whiteford- not bad in this company in a car which dated to 1936 and was an amalgam, a clever one admittedly, of production derived parts.

For the 1954 AGP at Southport the car arrived with Kleinig’s major revision of the car incomplete but still considerably changed. The new car kept the old chassis side rails but used central seating, Peugeot 203 independent front suspension and an offset Hudson rear axle.

Additionally, the car was re-bodied with panels from the ex-Johnny Wakefield 6CM Maserati (#’1546′-the car now owned by Tom Roberts and has been reunited with its body in the restoration by David Rapley), the new car was much more slender, lower and lighter, 12cwt as against the 16cwt of the original car.

Part of the weight saving process included the use of a special, small ‘Lion’ battery which shorted before the event preventing Kleinig’s eighth and final attempt at the race ended almost unrecorded, wrote Graham Howard- such a sad end to the old chariots AGP career.

 

 

 

FK with the final iteration of the Kleinig Hudson Spl with Peugeot 203 front suspension, Maserati body and the rest (Modern Motor via S Dalton)

 

 

 

 

photo (3)

 

Kleinig and Beetle 1200 during the 1955 REDeX- 3 September en route to Fitzroy Crossing in WA- he hit a rock culvert, wrecking the car (HWT)

REDeX Round Australia Trials…

Like all of the aces of the day Kleinig was versatile and adaptable contesting a number of the round Australia trials which were hugely popular with the Australian public at the time buoyed by car ownership which was becoming more widespread.

FK’s was eighty-fourth in 1953 in a Morris Minor and twenty-seventh in a Peugeot 203 in 1954 but he made the papers anyway, for a speeding offence- he was found guilty of driving through Goulburn at 50mph, the prosecutor noting traffic convictions going back to 1928 and lost his licence for three months. Naughty boy.

More spectacular was the coverage he received as far away as France where their weekly magazine ‘Rampage’ reported that Frank Kleinig and another competitor, George Green ‘were attacked by savages’.

Kleinig was driving his Peugeot 203 between Katherine and Darwin, trying to get past George Green when a ‘blackfellow appeared by the side of the road…wearing only a bit of canvas in front of him, carrying an axe and a spear…’

In the delicate, politically correct language of the day Kleinig observed that ‘As Green’s car passed, the blackfellow rushed out on the road and tried to stop him but Green was going too fast. When I slowed up the blackfellow rushed towards my car and I stopped. He had some sort of root he had been smoking and he asked for “chew-back” (tobacco). I told him I had none, then he pointed to my watch…I said you don’t get that sport…I picked up a camera off the seat and took a picture of him as I started to drive away…as I did so…he took a swing at the back of the car with his axe…he made a mark but that’s all’ FK concluded.

By the time the French press got hold of this the artist concerned had ‘blackfellas’ all over the car, sadly the image, which is more ‘Jungle Jim’ in Africa than Australian Outback, is too poor to reproduce as it is a bit of a giggle…

FK pictured with Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder, and trophies (C Gibson)

Where does Kleinig fit in the pantheon of Australian drivers?…

Norman Hamilton, the importer of Porsche into Australia invited Frank to drive his 550 Spyder in the NZGP at Ardmore, FK finished ninth in the sportscar, a great drive, Stirling Moss won the race in a Maserati 250F- and drove the Porker to victory in a sportscar support event. Kleinig also raced the car in Australia and prepared it for a time in his Sydney HQ.

A ‘works drive’ such as that offered by Hamilton late in his career (FK was born 1911 remember) makes one wonder what Frank could have achieved with better equipment- mind you he was incredibly lucky to have a Patron such as Gus McIntyre to give him his start.

Amongst good pub chatter topics over a blurry Carlton Draught is a list of ‘the greatest Australian drivers never to win an Australian Grand Prix’ before the F1 era commenced in 1985.

Names that come up include Alf Barrett, Reg Hunt (mind you he wasn’t around that long) Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, John Bowe, John Smith, Alfredo Costanzo…and Frank Kleinig.

In period comparisons put him thereabouts with Barrett whose primary tool was a beautifully prepared (Allan Ashton at AF Hollins who later looked after Lex Davo’s machines) Alfa Romeo Monza which the well heeled Armadale businessman raced with considerable success and perhaps too often big-event failures. Kleinig’s machine was as far from a factory built racer as it could possibly be, an amazingly fast ‘Bitza’ with the production based Hudson engine always pushed beyond limits hard to endure.

John Medley wrote about an AMS experts review of drivers at the time ‘A 1948 Australian Motor Sports magazine placing had John Snow just behind Alf Barrett in the “Best Australian Driver” category, but ahead of John Barraclough and Frank Kleinig, with John Crouch and Doug Whiteford in equal fifth place (although it should be noted that AMS editor Arthur Wylie ((a driver of the front rank himself)) was smart enough and knowledgable enough to restrict the poll to just New South Wales and Victoria: because he, like John Snow and all the other Eastern States hotshots all knew they had been out-thought, out-prepared, and remarkably out-driven by the almost unknown Allan Tomlinson from Western Australia when his supercharged MG TA Special won the 1939 Australian Grand Prix at the sobering high speed South Australian circuit at Lobethal’ wrote Medley providing valuable in-period context and opinion- far more valuable than any thoughts of mine decades hence using third-hand information to make interpretations of ‘what was’.

Contemporary reports have it that Frank was a sprinter, not one who could really stroke the car home- despite the fact he built and maintained his cars. You can see the fizz, brio, energy and sparkle characteristic of FK’s driving in some of the photographs within this piece.

We need to keep in mind the handicappers role in this period too of course. But the adage ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ is one to bare in mind and perhaps one Frank’s Driver Coach could have mentioned to him once or twice along his journey.

Barry Lake wrote of Kleinig in his book ‘Half a Century of Speed’. ‘I asked John Crouch (1949 AGP winner and contemporary of FK for much of his career) what he thought of Frank Kleinig as a driver. He told me: ‘Kleinig was one of our best sprint drivers ever, but he wasn’t any good in a long race. He’d drive it as if it was a sprint. He was a top mechanic but the machinery still could never stand up to him. On the dirt or in a sprint hillclimb there’s probably never been anybody as good or better.’

Looking more broadly than just at his on-track performances Kleinig is very much in the rich tradition of elite level Australian racer/mechanic/engineer/entrepreneur/businessman types- think Brabham, Gardner, Garrie Cooper, Matich and Perkins, a pretty special breed I believe.

It’s hard to say who was quickest in an era when ‘everyone’ wasn’t racing a similar Maserati 250F, Cooper or Brabham Climax, Lola T332 or Ralt RT4 but it does seem the evidence suggests Kleinig was one of the fastest of his era, a different thing to the best mind you- which spans the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties in whatever he drove.

And my guess is he may have, may have, squeezed a tad more outta that Alfa Monza than Mr Barrett did over one or two laps if not an entire race.

Bill Thompson was winding back his activities in the mid-thirties as FK was winding up- Thompson died during the War too so i have not attempted to draw comparisons there- and this ramble started with arguments about those who didn’t win an AGP whereas Bill won three of course.

For the sake of completeness Thompson and Barrett are generally the pair at the tip of the pyramid of best ever Australian resident drivers with debate more or less equally drawn on which of these two fellas stand alone.

Kleinig’s factory/workshop on Parramatta Road, Burwood, Sydney in 1947. Kleinig Hudson on the trailer, the other racer is Bill Ford’s Hudson 6 Spl. Kleinig retained the 1.5 litre Miller engine after it was removed from the KD- many enthusiasts recall it being on display in the window of this workshop for decades (C Gibson)

Commercial Activities…

Whilst involved in the motor trade all of his life Kleinig was also an inventor and innovator.

He developed the ‘Mist Master’ water injection system for the Kleinig Hudson and also sold kits for road cars to combat the pinging or detonation caused at the time as a consequence of the low octane and quality of fuels commercially available.

He also made and marketed a range of speed equipment including exhaust system, inlet manifolds, air cleaners and the ‘Spark Booster’ device which increased the intensity of the spark.

The workshop above, established after Frank’s departure from Kirby Engineering in 1938 at 404 Parramatta Road was well known to home mechanics by the 1950’s and it was not unusual for a long queue of folks on Saturday mornings wanting to buy parts.

In addition, the Frank Kleinig Rubber Company recycled old tyres- he developed a technique for shredding the tyres in which the steel belt material was removed by magnets and the rubber melted and injected under pressure to make new products, the most popular of which were bath plugs. Misfortune occurred in May 1947 with in excess of five thousand pounds worth of damage done to the premises, equipment and stock by fire.

Kleinig held patents for some of these inventions, that he was innovative and creative is not in doubt.

kleinig rr 1939 h vince photographer

Frank Kleinig Rob Roy 1947. To set the record there in 1948 he pulled second gear all the way over the line, it spun to 7000rpm on plain bearings, a 5 inch stroke  and with ‘splash’ lubrication (FH Hince)

Kleinig continued to race into the late 1950’s, for the fun of it in a Morris Minor, his last race Barry Lake believes to be a shared drive with his son, Frank Kleinig Jnr in a Morris Mini 850 for a class win in the Bathurst Six Hour Classic in September 1962- Kleinig Jnr became a Formula Vee ace.

When Frank ceased racing he never sold the car which had been such an important part of his life. He died in 1976, the family retained the Kleinig Hudson until 1992 when it was purchased by the current owner Tom Roberts.

He commissioned its rebuild by David Rapley who also restored the Maserati 6CM ‘1546’ which donated its body to the Kleinig Hudson way back in 1954- and is also owned by Roberts.

The Kleinig Hudson below with Tom Roberts at the wheel in Melbourne, August 2004- the KH would be right up there with ‘most raced car in Australia’, bested only by the Sulman Singer?

 

kleinig 2

Frank Kleinig 14th Rob Roy 1947 (George Thomas)

Etcetera…

Bugatti Brescia Tragedy..

Misfortune befell Frank, two young friends and the Bugatti Brescia Kleinig was driving to a wedding in Strathfield, inner-Sydney on June 26 1933.

Travelling along Parramatta Road, on the corner of Crane Street Homebush, Frank collided with and glanced off another car into a telegraph pole, the small French car rolled spilling the occupants onto the road- very sadly for the hapless 21 year old driver, his male companions, twenty and twenty-one years old later died.

The District Coroner, sitting in Burwood, H Richardson-Clark ‘…was satisfied (having heard the differing testimony of several witnesses as to Kleinig’s speed) that the young men in the racing car were going like the wind, with time on their hands and the temptation of a concrete road. There was…clear evidence of failure to observe traffic regulations. The racing car…should have given way to the other car’, the Coroner said.

Kleinig’s counsel, Mr Simpson, remonstrated with the Coroner who he said ‘was biased against motorists’. Simpson said that ‘in the last three cases you have sent men to trial they have not had to face juries’.

And so it was that despite finding the two men had been ‘feloniously slayed’- and committing Kleinig for trial on a charge of manslaughter and FK being released on bail of one-hundred pounds, the young man did not face court.

Whatever the facts, and they died with the three occupants of the car, to overcome this tragedy says much of Kleinig’s ability to pick himself up and refocus his life on racing, building several businesses and a family in a manner typical of ‘racers’- a special breed.

The incident was an horrific one for all concerned, not least Kleinig who lived with the incident and terrible outcomes for the rest of his long life.

(JO Sherwood)

EJ ‘Joe’ Buckley…

The photograph above shows Joe Buckley and Lewis L ‘Hope’ Bartlett in Sydney, Monday 20 November 1927 aboard a Hudson Super Six.

They set a time of 11 hours 54 minutes to become the first crew to go under ‘the magic 12 hours’ between Melbourne and Sydney, undercutting the previous best by 39 minutes 30 seconds despite crashing through a fence at Breadalbane and breaking a wheel.

The Sydney ‘Arrow’ reported that the same duo did a time of 10 hours 51 minutes in early January 1928. ‘The Hudson…used was almost a standard job, except that an extra petrol tank and an electric pump were installed and the springs were strengthened…The speedsters averaged 53 miles an hour over the 575 miles and had an uninterrupted run throughout. This is the first time that the journey between the two capitals has been done in under 11 hours, except by aeroplane’ the Arrow concluded.

Harry Beith held the record to that point in a Chrysler, he was the first to beat the time set by the late AV Turner who had done 12 hours 34 minutes, a record which stood for over four years set in February 1924

In a tit-for-tat period of constant changes in the record Harry Beith and his mechanic A Dolphin in a Chrysler did 10 hours and 12 minutes in December 1929 beating Buckley’s 10 hours 24 minutes…

And so it went on until the legislators brought an activity which was becoming increasingly dangerous to an end.

The intercapital record breaking efforts were big news, often front page news, as here with Buckley and a fellow aspirant Perry Donnelly (Overland Whippet) ‘betting their cars’ in the event one could not set a better time than the other for the Sydney-Cowra run- 27 November 1927

Buckley’s chosen marque, Hudson (Hudson, Essex and Terraplane) popular in Australia, were built from 1909 to 1954 by the Hudson Motor Car Co in Detroit and then for three years more by American Motors Corp before production stopped.

‘Speedster Buckley set speed records in that summer of 1928 between Sydney-Melbourne, Adelaide-Melbourne and Sydney-Cowra (his home town).

Whilst the manufacturers of the successful makes of car proclaimed their success in the usual way- newspaper advertisements, Hudson sent Buckley on a tour of Northern NSW (if not elsewhere) doing speed and economy demonstrations ‘with four or five passengers up’ of the Hudson Super-Six supervised by the local newspaper and/or motoring authority.

The Coffs Harbour Advocate reported the results; Walcha 21mpg, Tamworth 70mph and Moombi Range climbed ‘in top’, Armidale’s Hiscox Hill was ascended ‘in top’ whilst at Glen Innes 23mpg and 75mph was achieved.

The results of Glen Innes were repeated in Tenterfield but Big Hill was done ‘in top’- Lismore’s triumphs were 22.8mpg and 0-30mph in 4 seconds.

Proving that advertorial is nothing new the Advocate’s reporter concluded that ‘these figures are convincing proof of the Hudson makes claim that in spite of greatly improved performance, the latest Hudsons are 20mpg cars.’

What became of Joe Buckley folks?

 

(SLNSW)

Les Burrows..

Usual thing, you see a new name, sniff around and all of a sudden learn something about a fella yer didn’t know anything about.

What an ace on the tar and dirt the Bowral garage owner and Hudson dealer was aboard both this car and midgets at places like Penrith.

You may recall at the article’s outset that Les won the Phillip Island event during which Bailey and Kleinig came to grief, he is pictured in that car out front of his business in Bowral’s main street in May 1937 above.

Clive Gibson wrote that Burrow’s car was a one-off with a special body by Properts Body Works of Camperdown, Sydney. Said body was originally fitted to Burrow’s 1935 Terraplane and transferred to a new Hudson 8 in 1936, it was light- 20 cwt compared with a four door at 24 cwt. He also raced a 1933 Terraplane in the 1938 AGP at Bathurst, finishing second behind Peter Whitehead’s ERA B Type.

The car contested the 26 December South Australian Centenary Grand Prix aka 1936 AGP at Victor Harbor, DNF. He won the Ten Mile Championship at Penrith on Anzac Day in 1937 and in its first form as a 1935 Terraplane won the November 1935 Phillip Island race referred to above. The Terraplane was green and the Hudson bright red.

Clive Gibson owned the car in the sixties, then the machine changed hands in Sydney several times and disappeared, presumed lost. Les’ last competition event was the 1954 REDeX in a Vanguard.

Love this piece about the commitment of a racer, it’s from the Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 1935 report of his Phillip Island win.

‘…on the preceding Saturday he drove the car from Bowral to Sydney and competed in the New South Wales Light Car Club’s Mountain Trial over Kurrajong to Mount Victoria. Returning to Sydney the same evening, he drove his racing Midget at the Wentworth Oval Speedway and then left Sydney at midnight, towing the Midget home to Bowral. He then left in the Terraplane to Melbourne at 4.30am on the Sunday, arriving there the same afternoon about 4 o’clock. The car was then stripped of its mudguards, hood and windscreen, and taken to Phillip Island on Monday November 4. No additional tuning was found to be necessary, and the car went straight into practice for the big race.’

Les ‘…lapped the circuit at 64mph’ and ‘drove with great skill, cornering in a fast and safe manner’ to win the race.

Then, with all the road equipment installed back onto the car Burrows drove the 900km from Cowes back to Bowral, in New South Wales beautiful Southern Highlands.

You don’t have to be mad but it helps!

(unattributed)

McIntyre Hudson…

This amazing old warrior is shown above in ‘more recent times’ at Warwick Farm in 1971.

Some snippets about Kevin Salmon’s period with the car by Barry Lake, ‘Salmons car was owned by a Mrs Dixon, who sold it later to Frank Kleinig. John Crouch said of it: The McIntyre Hudson? That big roadster…it was a horrible thing to drive’.

Lake continued, ‘Kev Salmon was the son of Leo Salmon who was killed at Maroubra Speedway in 1925. John Crouch remembers Kevin for a used car showroom he had at the top of William Street (Sydney) where he “sold some wonderful cars”. I remember Salmon from when he raced again in the early 1960’s when he drove an MG Special and I had a Cooper Norton Mark V. At that time Kevin had a used car yard right at the Parramatta end of Parramatta Road.’

Kevin Salmon in the McIntyre Hudson/Salmon Spl from Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl at Bathurst in October 1939 (C Gibson)

Salmons Motors were the Sydney Citroen and Jewett agents and were involved in record-breaking.

Albert Vaughan, an employee of Leo Salmon’s enterprise and L McKenzie drove a Citroen to set the Sydney-Melbourne record at 15 hours 20 minutes in 1924.

Leo Salmon had a Jewett shortened and lightened to create a machine suited to Maroubra Speedway, the enormous concrete saucer built in the Sydney inner beachside suburb which opened on 5 December 1925.

With Leo at the wheel and Albert Vaughan as riding mechanic they were circulating the fast, challenging track on 30 December, preparing for the venue’s third meeting on New Years Day 1926 when Leo lost control and crashed over the top of the unguarded banking killing the poor unfortunate occupants who became the circuits first victims.

(C Gibson)

FK in the McIntyre Hudson at the Waterfall Valley Hillclimb in July 1938.

Doug Ramset in the white overalls and Clive Gibson in open neck jumper. Clive owned this car later in his life as a fast roadie, see a photograph of the car in more recent times at the end of this article.

In more recent times the McIntyre has fallen into good hands, that of the National Motor Museum at Birdwood In the Adelaide Hills, do pay the historic old jigger a visit!

Matthew Lombard is researching the full history of the car, please get in touch with him if you can add to the McIntyre story or any of those who drove, owned or prepared it- copy me in so I may update this piece too. Matt’s email is mlombard@history.sa.gov.au

Sydney ‘Referee’ 1 April 1937

Its interesting that the reporter in the April 1937 piece above comments upon the improvement in Kleinig’s driving ‘over his previous exhibitions and with the car going at its best…’, this suggests, perhaps, that the Kirby-Deering Miller Spl was by then reasonably well sorted and that FK was handling it with aplomb.

 

(E Davey-Milne)

Hillclimbs were a big deal yonks ago in Australia- look at the admiring Rob Roy crowd in 1947 or 1948 watching the KHS being warmed up- wonderfully, it still competes there seventy years after its first appearance.

 

(The Referee)

Interesting comparison of the two McIntyre owned racers in profile in November 1936.

At left is the Kirby-Deering Miller Spl with Frank at the wheel and at right Gus McIntyre aboard the McIntyre Hudson- he competed until health reasons forced relinquishment of the drivers seat.

(JO Sherwood)

Superb panorama of FK in the Kleinig Hudson Special- ‘Dirt Track Charlie’ doing his thing, Barry Lake believes, circa 1939/40.

I’ve written about Penrith before- it first opened in 1921, then closed in 1930 and was re-opened by Frank Arthur in June 1936 until its final closure, well into the War, after a meeting held on 14 April 1941.

Special research thanks…

Bob King, John Medley, Nathan Taska and Daniel Kleinig for photographs from the family collection

Bibliography…

Graham Howard & Others ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’, George Thomas ‘Cars and Drivers’ #3 1977, Nathan Taska, John Medley, Motorsport January 1936, Referee (Sydney) 25 October 1934, The Referee 5 November 1936, State Library of NSW note by Clive Gibson accompanying the photograph of the Burrows Hudson at Bowral, The Canberra Times 27 April 1937, Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 1935, Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports 15 November 1946, Sunday Times, Perth 22 August 1954, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney Morning Herald 7 July 1933, Sydney The Sun 6 July 1933, Articles by Tim Shellshear in VSCC newsletter, Bob King Collection, ‘The Car’ 15 November 1935, ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, ‘Half a Century of Speed’ Barry Lake via Tony Davis Collection- this publication incorporates the photographs of the John O Sherwood Collection, The Arrow Sydney 13 January 1928, Coffs Harbour Advocate 24 July 1928, The Advertiser 30 December 1936, Australian Dictionary of Biography- Sir JN Kirby and H Hastings Deering, article on the Kleinig-Hudson by David White and Graeme Jackson

Lobethal perhaps, 1939 Kleinig Hudson (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

George Thomas, Bob King Collection, Norman Howard, Alex Collingridge, Herald and Weekly Times, Tim Shellshear Collection, Bob King Collection, Russell Garth, Jim Shepherd, Kleinig Family Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece: Kleinig, Kirby-Deering, date and place unknown, circa 1937…

(T Shellshear)

The Kirby Deering Miller Spl, a bit of a mouthful really, with Kleinig at the wheel, probably a hillclimb, if any of you can pick the venue do get in touch.

What about that Miller engine?

One story emanating, Bob King thinks from Kent Patrick- a racer/writer of note, is that the Miller engine was bought for Frank as a gift for saving a young person from drowning. It’s an interesting one. That does not accord with the newspaper accounts or Daniel Kleinig’s recollection of his grandfather saying he ‘was allowed to set the valve clearances of the engine whilst an apprentice.’ It it were your motor you wouldn’t have been askin’, would yer?

Perhaps this story has become confused with one involving (later Sir) Frank Beaurepaire who was awarded a Gold Medal and 550 pounds by the Royal Humane Society in 1922 for helping save a shark attack victim in the Coogee surf- he used this money to start Beaurepaires, a nationally significant (still) tyre, wheels and battery business.

In any event the Miller engine sat in Frank’s Parramatta Road workshop front window ‘forever’- Barry Lake records that Tom Wheatcroft bought the engine for his Donington Collection circa 1994.

Bob King recalls Wheatcroft as a regular visitor to Australia in the Adelaide GP and early Albert Park GP days. He was close to John ‘Jumbo’ Goddard, Sydney car collector, Bob’s suspicion is that Jumbo probably said to Tom on one of these trips ‘You really should grab that motor champ’, I wonder which particular bonnet below which it was inserted back in the UK? Or perhaps it became a swap?

Finito…

 

Rodney Clarke’s Connaught J3 Coventry Climax FPE V8 2.5, as concepted in 1954…

In anticipation of Climax’s forthcoming 2.5 litre ‘Godiva’ or FPE F1 V8 the amazing Clarke laid down a concept which ‘would have featured a stressed-skin monocoque section built up a round a geodetic latticed internal frame similar to the Barnes-Wallis originated structure of the R-100 airship and Vickers Wellesley and Wellington bombers of the 1930’s’ Doug Nye wrote.

This J3 (sometimes referred to as J5 or D Type) ‘tub’ would have supported a separate subframe which would have carried the FPE V8 and a bespoke Connaught transaxle and de Dion rear suspension with inboard mounted disc brakes.

’The transaxle was to be an epicyclic affair with its actual gearbox section overhung beyond the back axle line. One of these transaxles was actually completed, plus parts for another five, and was used in Paul Emeryson’s Cooper-Connaught’ Doug wrote.

As is well known the Coventry Climax lads felt ’emasculated’ by the claimed power outputs published by the continentals and the FPE was unraced in period, only one of the cars concepted around the wonderful V8 was eventually built, the Kieft, click here to read about it; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/03/kieft-de-soto-v8/

Cars were also planned by Climax customers Cooper and HWM as well as Connaught and Kieft. All was not lost at Climax, the learnings from development of the V8 were applied rather effectively to the all conquering family of FPF fours

Imagine the J3 racing in 1955 with a development budget to sort it…

Geodetic Airframe…

First i’ve ever heard of it. ‘It makes use of a spaceframe formed from a spirally crossing basket-weave of load bearing members. The principle is that two geodesic arcs (a curve representing the shortest distance between two points) can be drawn to intersect on a curving surface (the fuselage) in a manner that the torsional load on each cancels out that on the other’ says Wikipedia.

Credits…

Getty Images, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Theo Page

Tailpiece: Kieft F1 Coventry Climax…

Finito…

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(Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Andrea de Adamich hustles his McLaren M14D Alfa through the Zandvoort sand dunes and flowers, Dutch GP practice June 1970…

This is yet another of my ‘nutso’ articles in terms of flow.

It started as a quickie around some of Rainer’s (Schlegelmilch is a favourite of mine as you may have guessed) shots of the McLaren Alfa. Then I got interested in Andrea’s career, so off I went that way.

Then I thought ‘the F1 program really started in Tasman Formula single-seaters here in Australia’- that is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D and Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ with the engines Autodelta-Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8’s- but I didn’t want to go too far with that as I want to do the topics justice, with Kevin Bartlett’s intimate knowledge of both the program and cars. So that aspect of this article is no more than a teaser.

Anyway, here ’tis, a bit weird, and with the ‘full job’ on the Alfa engined Mildren Brabham and Sub still to come…

The McLaren/Alfa Romeo partnership started reasonably well at Montjuic Parc in Barcelona but the grid had ten places reserved for seeded drivers and only six for the other twelve competitive cars, Andrea’s thirteenth quickest was just 0.05 seconds too slow to make the cut.

Same problem at 1970 Monaco with the same system- again he was thirteenth fastest overall but this time he fell short by 0.1 seconds.

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Andrea, Dutch GP practice June 1970. M14D Alfa DNQ (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The team missed the Belgian Grand Prix on June 7, McLaren took the time to adapt the Alfa Romeo V8 to its latest M14 chassis, which they designated ‘M14D’, unfortunately again failing to qualify for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort by 0.01 seconds where most of these shots were taken.

Peter Gethin was the quickest of the Cosworth engined McLarens with Denny Hulme missing the meeting due to hands burned at Indianapolis. Gethin’s car qualified eleventh but retired on lap 18 after an accident, writing off Denny’s M14 in the process so the M14D was quickly converted back to Cosworth spec to give Denny a competitive car when his hands recovered.

Back in the older chassis, de Adamich qualified his M7D at Clermont-Ferrand sixteenth, a good effort but only completing 29 laps retiring after a water pipe came adrift and he lost 9 laps in the pits.

He qualified eighteenth at Brands Hatch, again in the M7D but was a non-starter with a leaking bag fuel tank.

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The bespectacled Italian lowers his lanky frame into the McLaren M14 monocoque, Dutch GP 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

 

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George Eaton’s BRM P153 passes the #21 de Adamich McLaren M14D Alfa and #20 Hulme McLaren M14A Ford, Zandvoort pitlane, Dutch GP practice June 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The 1970 German GP was held at the fast Hockenheim circuit which places an emphasis on power/top speed, the Alfa engine lacked sufficient punch, Andrea again failing to qualify, he had complained about handling and the engine not pulling properly.

The speed of the chassis was ‘thereabouts’ though, Hulme finished third in a Cosworth DFV powered M14.

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#20 de Adamich McLaren Alfa Hockenheim, German GP practice 2 August 1970 and Donatella de Adamich in the Zeltweg pits 18 August 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Zeltweg’s 6Km layout places a similar premium on power and high speed handling too, the car qualified well in fifteenth for the Austrian GP, finishing twelfth, the decision to change the engine before the race went awry when the replacement pulled 1000rpm short of the engine used in practice giving Andrea a long race labouring down the back.

Allen Brown wrote that a lot of work was done by Autodelta in the lead up to the team’s home race at Monza with emphasis on the sumps- which had been identified as the main problem. Andrea qualified twelfth and finished eighth having run well for the first few laps in the race won by Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B albeit seven laps in arrears. It was Regga’s first GP win. Nanni Galli, another Autodelta racer had a go in the M7D but did not qualify having experienced camshaft trouble.

In Canada Andrea again qualified twelfth of twenty, starting really well and ran as high as ninth, but he hadn’t started with full tanks knowing he had to stop for fuel but diddn’t get to that point, pitting with low oil pressure from eighth position after completing 69 laps.

At Watkins Glen he failed to qualify after big dramas gave him limited circuit time- first a fuel leak and then a behind dash fire, perhaps as a consequence the team didn’t take the Alfa powered chassis to the season ending race in Mexico City on 25 October.

McLaren had no incentive to continue with development of the Alfa engined car given the competitiveness of its Ford Cosworth DFV engined machines, a purpose built F1 engine- Alfa’s engine stated life as a more robust long distance unit, and was never, without the commitment of sufficient money and engineering resources going to approach or eclipse the dominant DFV.

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de Adamich at the wheel of his Alfa 33TT3 , Targa 1972. He was 3rd in the car shared with Toine Hezemans (velocetoday.com)

Andrea de Adamich…

Tall, scholastic and patrician, the bespectacled Italian began racing whilst still a law student, making his name driving a works Autodelta Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship, which he won in 1966 at the wheel of a GTA.

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Andrea de Adamich corners the Alfa Ti Super he shared with Carlo Scarambone in the Tour de France 20 September 1964 . Nouveau Monde Hairpin, Rouen (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

He attracted Ferrari’s attention with some promising runs in Alfa T33 sports cars (which he continued to race whilst pursuing a single-seater career) and was recruited to the Scuderia for the non-championship 1967 Spanish GP, at Jarama north of Madrid.

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Traga 1967 in the 2 litre Alfa T33. DNF suspension failure in the car shared with Jean Rolland. Race won by the Hawkins/Maglioli Porsche 910 (Getty)

In 1968 Andrea was scheduled to drive full-time for Ferrari alongside Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx, but he crashed during practice for the Brands Hatch ‘Race of Champions’ and suffered neck injuries which took a long time to heal fully.

He returned to racing, winning the Argentine Temporada series the following winter with the powerful F2, works Ferrari Dino 166. de Adamich’ Ferrari 166 F2 Season was covered in this article on that car; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/09/temporada-f2-series-argentina-san-juan-1968/

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de Adamich’s Ferrari 166 winning in front of F2 king Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT23 Ford FVA, San Juan Argentina, Temporada Series 1968 (Andrew Marriott)

‘In 1970 McLaren was offered the opportunity of experimenting with an Alfa V8, a possibly tempting alternative to the then-ubiquitous Cosworth DFV, and one of the Italian engines was installed first in an M7D chassis and latterly an M14D for de Adamich to drive’, wrote McLaren.

‘To say this technical combo achieved modest results would be a dramatic understatement. The McLaren Alfa generally failed to qualify and when it did, could only muster twelfth in the Austrian GP followed by a distant eighth place in front of the Alfa top brass at Monza. McLaren, still reeling from Bruce’s death that summer, reckoned that the Anglo-Italian alliance was all a bit of a waste of effort and called time on the partnership at the end of the season’.

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de Adamich at the wheel of the T33/3 he shared with Gijs van Lennep in the 1971 Targa, 2nd to teammates Vaccarella/Hezemans (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

De Adamich took his Alfa engines off to March in 1971, with no significant improvement in their performance.

Andrea was thirteenth at Kyalami and eleventh at Watkins Glen whilst Nanni Galli was fifth in the non-championship Jochen Rindt Trophy at Hockenheim in July gaining the best ever F1 result for these engines.

Nanni was eleventh, twelfth and twelfth at Silverstone, the Nürburgring and the Osterreichring in a good run of finishes at least in July/August but then had three downers to end his season at Monza, Mosport and the Glen.

The engine was again unreliable with DNF’s for Andrea at Montjuic, Paul Ricard, the Nurburgring and Monza. He was unclassified at Silverstone.

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De Adamich, March 711 Alfa, German GP Nurburgring Q20 DNF  fuel injection lap 2. Stewart won in a Tyrrell 003 Ford (unattributed)

 

The business end of the De Adamich March 711 Alfa in the 1971 Nürburgring paddock

March team leader, and one of the fastest guys on the planet at the time, Ronnie Peterson used the Alfa engines in chassis ‘711-6’ at Hockenheim, Zandvoort and at Paul Ricard, where he raced that chassis from grid 12.

He only lasted 19 laps before engine failure, Andrea started from grid 20 which provides some measure of how much more improved the performance of the car/engine could have been with an ace behind the wheel- whilst putting reliability to one side

The Italian driver switched to Team Surtees in 1972 which got him back behind the wheel of a Cosworth-engined car, a step in the right direction.

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French GP, Clermont Ferrand July 1972. de Adamich Surtees TS9B Ford Q12 P14, ahead of Derek Bell who was a race non-starter in his Tecno PA123 V12. Jackie Stewart won the race in Tyrrell 003 Ford.  (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

For 1973 de Adamich switched to the Bernie Ecclestone owned Brabham team after driving for Surtees in the season opener at Kyalami. His Brabham BT42 fell victim to Jody Scheckter’s first lap McLaren M23 Ford multiple car shunt at the end of the opening lap of the British GP at Silverstone, Andrea suffered serious injuries which brought an end to his career.

In more recent times he has built an impressive business career.

In 1990 he bought the circuit at Varano and created a highly specialised  driving school for the owners of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Abarth cars. He also puts on special days for Philip Morris, a legacy of his longstanding relationship dating back to the days when he and Giacomo Agostini were the first Italian contracted Marlboro drivers/riders.

Kevin Bartlett setting off to test the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo just vacated by Frank Gardner after the 1968 Tasman Series at Oran Park before the Gold Star series- she grew wings as the year progressed. Bob Grange at right (P Garrad)

The 1960’s Alfa Romeo Engined Single Seater V8’s…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing Team.

Mildren, a Sydney Alfa Romeo dealer, former Australian Gold Star Champion and AGP winner ran one of the most professional teams in Australia. He had impeccable Alfa Romeo/Autodelta connections having acquired and raced two GTA’s and a TZ2 in the early to mid-sixties and in the process ‘polished’ Alfa’s Australian brand, one of the greatest of the Grand Marques but then relatively new to the ‘Oz market.

Click on this link for an article about the Mildren Autodelta Alfa’s;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

and on Alec Mildren; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabhams were being given a very hard time by the Repco Brabham and BRM V8’s amongst others circa 1966, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections.

Mildren ordered three 2.5 Tipo 33 V8’s which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D chassis, a variant of Ron Tauranac’s new for 1967 Ford FVA powered BT23 F2 car.

The machine was first raced in the 1967 Hordern Trophy Gold Star round at Warwick Farm, Frank Gardner won, which was a portent of the cars 1968 Tasman Series speed- he was fourth in the championship against stiff opposition including two works Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s in the hands of Messrs Clark and Hill, Chris Amons Ferrari Dino 246T, works BRM’s and the rest. The engines were then fitted to the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car built for the team by Alan Mann Racing, designed by Len Bailey, for the 1969 Tasman Series where again Frank was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Lotuses, Ferraris and Piers Courage in a Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford.

After both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman they were ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively, for the sake of completness, in 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s TC-4V 2 litre DOHC 4 valve 275 bhp engine for part of the season and into 1970 and beyond.

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(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

The 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam Lucas fuel injected, twin-plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Clark, Amon and Courage in Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

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(Dick Simpson)

What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was?

Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the 1968 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in David McKay’s ex-JB Brabham BT23A Repco.

Bartlett won the 1968 Gold Star in this car and was equal ninth in the 1969 Tasman in winged form.

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(Wirra)

Frank Gardner in the Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine’ in the Warwich Farm pitlane during the ’69 Tasman round on 9 February. The Aussie international was third behind Rindt’s Lotus 49 DFW and Derek Bell’s Ferrari Dino 246T. Gardner was sixth in the 1969 Tasman behind Amon, Rindt, Courage, Bell and Hill in Ferrari Dino 246, Lotus 49B DFW, Brabham BT24 DFW, Ferrari Dino 246 and Lotus 49B DFW respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engines.

‘My memory tells me the Alfa had around 350lbs (of torque) and the Waggott about 230lbs. Usable power range was quite different with the Alfa workable between 4500-8800 rpm and Waggott 6800-8750rpm. Not perfectly accurate as i work from  memory but around that kind of difference’.

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott. The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations.’ (Gardner having raced only the Alfa variant)

‘Len Bailey was the (Mildren’s) designer of the tub, which flexed a little at the rear with the Alfa’s torque, less so when the Waggott went in, with suspension being a (Brabham designer) Ron Tauranac adaption’.

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the V8 engine. Click here for a short piece on the Sub; https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Bartlett doing his thing aboard the Mildren ‘Sub’ Alfa at Oran Park. Its an interesting photo in that this car was winged by the end of the 1969 Tasman- and KB is driving it after that- perhaps a day of back to back testing? The car, like all such machines globally, lost its big wings after the 1969 Monaco GP weekend where such aero was banned. Superb machine superbly driven by KB- Oz Gold Star and Macao GP winner in 1969 (D Simpson)

 

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Alfa Romeo 3 litre 4 valve F1 engine in a McLaren chassis in 1970 (unattributed)

A similar 3 litre 4 valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine- the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven 2 valvers, was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

Lucien Bianchi tested an Alfa Romeo engined T86C (T86C-F1-3-68) once but was unimpressed given its lack of power. Two further, more powerful motors were built but didn’t survive the bench tests, Alfa then withdrew their engines from that proposed program.

The 1970 variant of the engine was all aluminium with a bore/stroke of 86mm x 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used. The four valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form.

With gear driven cams for F1 use Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10500 rpm at a time the Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12000 rpm. It wasn’t enough really but Alfa had put their toes back into F1 water and would return soon with works Brabhams, as they had started with a Mildren Brabham a decade before…

Cutaway of the first 2 litre variant of the Tipo 33 V8 with detailed specifications as per text but chain driven DOHC, two valve, twin plug and Lucas fuel injected with engine a non-load bearing member of the car.

Etcetera…

The seven or eight race Tasman Cup was conducted over eight or nine weeks with a ‘hop across the ditch’- the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia, put great pressure on team logistics and repaid a mixture of speed and, critically, reliability and consistency.

Major chassis damage and engine unreliability were severely punished and it was the latter which meant that Mildren/Gardner’s campaigns in the Brabham BT23D and Mildren did not fare better, FG only finished half the races in each year.

Both cars were mighty fine machines but the Lotus 49 was the F1 car of the era and the F2 based Ferrari Dino 246 was far from shabby. In addition, Frank, whilst the equal of most on his best days, was not of the same level as Clark, Rindt, Hill, Amon, Brabham, McLaren or Rodriguez, to rattle off some of the competition in 1968 and 1969.

Was the Mildren Yellow Submarine a race winner in 1969?- yes, if the planets were aligned- and it were ‘winged’ from the start of the series. Quite how FG, having had a front row seat racing in Europe in ‘the year of the wing’ in 1968, arrived in Australia without said appendages on the Sub is an interesting question.

By Lakeside- at the halfway mark of the series the car was winged- they grew again at Warwick Farm as below where FG is leading Graeme Lawrence’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA but it was all a bit late. They were third and eighth in the sodden race won by the dominant Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW. Derek Bell’s Dino 246 was second.

And in any event the reliability wasn’t there…

Would, say, Rindt have made the Sub sing? Absolutely- but he didn’t have Frank’s mechanical sympathy so he would rarely have finished I suspect.

So, perhaps the Alfa Romeo engined cars under-delivered in the Tasman Cup but Bartlett’s 1968 and 1969 Australian Gold Star wins were glorious and enhanced the Alfa Romeo brand for a generation of impressionable youth, me included…

(B McInerney)

Photo and other credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, velocetoday.com, mclaren.com, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’, Dick Simpson, Wirra, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Garrad, LAT, Brian McInerney

oldracingcars.com. See Allen Brown’s M7D and M14D detailed chassis records;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7d/  and https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Tailpiece…

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de Adamich/Vaccarella  Targa 4 May 1969. DNF lap 6 with engine failure. Alfa T33 2.5 V8 Spider (Schlegelmilch)

Finito…

(L Richards)

David McKay, babe and Aston Martin DB3S, Chevron Hotel, St Kilda Road, Melbourne 1958…

The event is the ‘Smiths Motor Convention’ which by the look of it is a motor industry jolly aimed at the trade rather than retail punters. Those amongst you who were attendees can fill us in.

This is the first of McKay’s two Aston DB3S’, the story of which is told here, rather than repeat myself; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

David McKay was noted throughout his long career as a racer, entrant and journalist for his dapper appearance- one can only assume therefore that the ‘bombay bloomer’ trouser suit was the de-rigueur clobber for the man-about-town of the day.

A good time was had by all by the look- and yes, the bones of the ‘Chevvy’, a favourite night spot of Melbourne revellers for generations are still in St Kilda Road albeit, inevitably, the building is essentially an apartment complex these days.

(L Richards)

A Zephyr, an old beast an interviewer and a couple of lovelies, must be the prize giving part of proceedings I guess…

Photo Credits…

Laurie Richards Studio

Finito…

 

Brian Hatton’s beautiful cutaway rendering of the 1927 Grand Prix Fiat 806…

Fiat’s impact on Grand Prix racing in the twenties was hugely significant, then they departed almost as quickly as they arrived in 1924, reappeared in 1927 with this radical 806, won and then disappeared from GP racing forever inclusive of destroying this jewel of a car, it’s parts and drawings…

One of the greatest of grand marques FIAT (Fiat after 1906) – ‘Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino’ was founded on 11 July 1899, the marque first appears on the race winners lists in 1900 with Felice Nazzaro’s win in the 28 April Torino-Asti race the beginning of many aboard a Fiat 6HP. Vincenzo Lancia won again later that year in the Padua-Vicenza-Bassano-Treviso-Padua event on a simllar car. Other winning marques that year included Panhard, Riker Electric, Peugeot, Benz, Daimler, Mors and Bolide.

Lets have a brief look at Fiat’s contribution in the Edwardian Age of automotive leviathans through to its defining GP cars of the early to mid twenties- the 801, 804 and 805, the circumstances of their sudden withdrawal from racing after the 1924 French GP and the equally surprising re-appearance on the grid at Monza in 1927 only to tease the enthusiasts of the day before ‘bolting out the Monza garage door’ for the very last time but for a few races in the US in 1925.

In 1901 Nazzaro won the Piombino-Grosseto event in the FIAT 12HP Corsa four-cylinder engine car owned by Conte Camillo Della Gherardesca setting a record of 1:49.54 despite the local tram service being maintained whilst the contest took place!

(GA Oliver)

Two races in 1904 fell to Lancia in the 75HP- the Susa-Montecenisio Hillclimb, and the Coppa Florio, by 1905 the FIAT four cylinder machine was of 16.2 litres in capacity.

The 1905 Fiat (above) whilst ‘built in admiration of the Mercedes’ wrote Cecil Clutton, incorporated a major engineering advance by placing both inlet and exhaust valves in a hemispherical cylinder head, the valves, inclined at 45 degrees were operated by pushrods. The 180 x 160mm bore/stroke engine developed 120bhp at no more than 1100rpm.

Fiat won three events in 1907, the second Grand Prix racing season- noting that the 1906 French GP is considered the first grand prix, when Felice Nazzaro won Targa (28/40HP) the Kaiserpreis (‘Taunus’ 8 litre) and the six and three quarters of an hour ACF French GP in the 135hp 16.2 litre car at an average speed of 70.5 miles per hour- very much making him ‘Driver of The Year’.

In 1908 Nazzaro won the Coppa Florio in Bologna and Louis Wagner the American Grand Prize at Savannah, Georgia. Aftrr the abstention of manufacturers from racing in 1909 and 1910, in 1911 Victor Hemery won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans and David Bruce Brown the American Grand Prize- Caleb Bragg won the American race again in 1913 aboard a 10 litre 120hp Fiat S74.

Aldo Weilschott, Fiat 2C starting, DNF accident, French GP 1906. Ferenc Scisz won in a Renault (unattributed)

 

1907 Fiat 130HP- Felice Nazzaro’s winning 1907 French GP machine (unattributed)

 

Vincenzo Lancia, Fiat 50HP, Targa Florio 1908- 2nd after unnecessarily pitting for tyres whilst in the lead, Vincenzo Trucco won in an Isotta Fraschini (unattributed)

One hundred years ago two races were held in 1919 of stature, the Indianapolis 500 and Targa Florio but the very first post-war race in Europe was a beach sprint at Fano Island on Denmark’s west coast on 24 August- Nando Minoia won aboard a Fiat Tipo S57A, a 4.9 litre SOHC, two valve machine first raced (S57 4.5 litre) in the 1914 French GP.

Europe was devastated by the impacts of The Great War and was slowly starting the process of rebuilding as peace settled. For a while at least.

With remarkable pace, given the circumstances, international motor racing recovered. In 1920 the AIACR, the ‘Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus’, the precursor to the FIA, announced a GP formula of 3 litres in capacity and 1.4 litres for Voiturettes. That years events included the Formula Libre Circuito de Mugello and Voiturette GP de’l UMF and Coupe des Voiturettes at Le Mans as well as Indy and Targa.

In 1921 the French and Italian GP’s were run for the first time post-war and won by Jimmy Murphy’s Duesenberg and Jules Goux’ Ballot 3L respectively.

Importantly the 3 litre straight-eight Fiat 801, credited to Carlo Cavalli and Giulio Cesare Cappa was designed and raced that season, the last year of the 3 litre Formula.

There was also a 3 litre four cylinder variant the 801/401, the eight cylinder engine, conceived by Tranquillo Zerbi was designated Tipo 801/402, in most texts the 801 appellation is applied without distinguishing between the different engine/chassis, but in some cases the eight-cylinder machine is named the 802.

The correct designations are the four cylinder Tipo 401 powered Tipo 801 and eight-cylinder Tipo 402 powered 802. ‘Cavalli and Cappa were assisted by Vincenzo Bertarione and Vittorio Jano…as designers’ wrote Robert Dick who makes no mention of Zerbi’s involvement. The risk in these exercises of ‘information assemblage’ like mine, not going back to source documents, is repeating the mistakes/interpretations of others…

Both four and eight cyinder engines were composed of steel cylinders with welded up ports, the cylinders were enclosed by sheet steel jackets. This practice was pioneered by Mercedes and used extensively by Fiat in its wartime aviation engines. The DOHC eight had a bore/stroke of 65 x 112mm, used two large valves at an included angle of 96 degrees per cylinder, ten roller main bearings and roller big ends. The dry-sumped engine produced between 115-120bhp @ 4400-4600rpm.

The machine had a four speed gearbox driving a torque tube rear end. Fiat’s Aviazzione department, under Chief Engineer Rosatelli, was responsible for the cars shape which included time in the wind tunnel, the car was distinctive for its clean underside from front to back and flat-sided, wedge-shaped tapering tail.

The lighter 810 kg Tipo 401 four cylinder car was designed with the Targa Florio and lower speed courses in mind whilst the more potent 920kg Tipo 402 eight was tasked for more open road courses and speedways.

Whilst the cars were not successful upon debut in the September 1921 Italian GP on a 17.3km course at Brescia due to a variety of problems, Bordino set the fastest race lap and led until a puncture and then oil pump failure stopped him, Fiat were emboldened to proceed down the design path they explored with this short-lived, due to the formula change, path.

Ugo Sivocci, Fiat 802 3 litre straight-eight, Italian GP, Brescia 1921. DNF after 18 laps engine, Jules Goux won in a Ballot 3L (unattributed)

Lets pause for a moment at look at the array of management and engineering talent before proceeding further with the cars.

Giovanni Agnelli was one of the nine initial investors in Fiat in 1899, a Board Member and was appointed head of the company circa 1906, by which time they had built 1149 cars, the company was publicly listed on the Milan stock exchange in this period.

The combination of automotive and aviation products within the group attracted and allowed assembly of an amazing array of engineering talent, these folks developed a reputation from the start for creativity and innovation, under the Chief of the Technical Office, Guido Fornaca.

Fornaca is often described as Chief Engineer but his talent seems more policy direction of a commercial type with the company technical direction and leadership provided by Carlo Cavalli ‘trained as a lawyer but inclined to engineering’. Extremely versatile he applied himself to the first shaft-drive cars, aero, airship and marine engines, tractors and racing cars. He was appointed as Technical Head of Fiat in 1919 having joined in 1905.

Design engineers included Luigi Bazzi, Walter Becchia, Vincenzo Bertarione, Giulio Cesare Cappa, Alberto Massimino and Tranquillo Zerbi (who replaced Cavalli as technical head upon his retirement due to ill-health in 1928) ‘while in charge of racing car preparation and team administration was Vittorio Jano’.

Within the early twenties all but Cavalli and Zerbi left- Bertarione and Becchia to Sunbeam-Tabot-Darracq, Bazzi and Jano to Alfa Romeo, Cappa left and so too Massimino. The brain drain was not applied exclusively to racing cars- Jano and Bazzi at Ferrari, Massimino to Maserati, Becchia to Lago Talbot and Bertarione to Hotchkiss examples.

It was with this amazingly talented, well led group of men that Fiat designed, built and raced very influential racing cars, the 801/802, 803, 804 and 805 and as a consequence set the trend for racing car design generally in the immediate future and specifically in terms of engine characteristics through until 1951.

Felice Nazzaro at 19 was both Senator Giovanni Agnelli’s chauffeur and a factory racer- both here in a 1901 Fiat 8 (CSF)

 

Felice Nazzaro on the way to winning the 1922 French GP, Strasbourg aboard a Fiat 804 2 litre six (unattributed)

 

The Fiat 804 lineup in France, 1922- #17 the ill-fated Biagio Nazzaro, #4 Felice Nazzaro and Pietro Bordino

 

Biagio Nazzaro and #15 Louis Zborowski, Aston Martin GP Strasbourg French GP 1922 (LAT)

 

Bordino, Strasbourg 1922, Fiat 804 (CSF)

In 1922 the GP formula changed to an engine capacity limit of 2 litres and a weight of no less than 650kg- the Fiat 804, a new six cylinder two valve machine was effectively two cylinders lopped of the end of the 3 litre straight-eight.

Credit for this design is attributed to Cappa, Cavalli, Bertarione and Becchia under the direction of Fornaca with Vittorio Jano in charge of preparation according to Cyril Posthumus.

The general specifications of the engine- timing gears at the back, cylinders built from steel forgings with welded on water jackets, wide angle valves and all roller bearing engine was all familiar to the previous types ‘and the choice of six cylinders seems primarily to have been dictated by convenience and not by belief in the superiority of this number as compared to eight cylinders in a line’ Lawrence Pomeroy wrote.

Fiat retained the 65mm bore of the 3 litre engine and reduced the stroke from 112 to 100mm thereby giving a capacity a smidge under the 2 litre limit. The engines developed about 92bhp @ 4500rpm fed by a single Fiat updraught carburettor set low on the offside, sparks were provided by a Scintilla magneto. Power was transmitted by a multi-disc clutch to a four speed gearbox attached to the engine, for the first time in racing Fiat used an enclosed prop-shaft which transmitted its power to the rear axle fabricated from light steel pressings.

The compact chassis turned inwards at the rear ro follow the lines of the tail, Cappa fixed upon a tubular front axle given the stresses imposed by the cars brakes which were servo assisted aluminium drums. Hartford friction shocks were used.

Fiat’s aviation team again shaped the body, with the mechanics seat sharply staggered back by about 8 inches, Fiat riveted the exhaust collector to the body, thus using siad item to stiffen the latter, the dimensions of the car were very small- wheelbase 250cm, track 120cm, and the weight at 660kg was close to the miniumum required by the regs. Pirelli tyres were specified af 760 x 90 at the front and 765 x 105 at the rear.

‘The Fiat immediately outdated all its contemporaries’ wrote Posthumus putting the impact of the car with precision.

The 804’s won both the blue riband 1922 events- Felice Nazzaro took the French GP at Strasbourg and Pietro Bordino the Italian GP at brand new Monza- the stunning autodromo in the park of the Villa Reale was completed in 110 days between May and August 1922.

Nazzaro’s win at Strasbourg was bitter/sweet in that his nephew Biagio Nazzaro lost his life when his 804 crashed after the failure of a thin gauge pressed metal welded axle flange at the wheel end, losing the wheel causing the promising young driver to crash to his death. Bordino’s car lost a wheel too but he was able to bring the car to a safe halt, Felice’s rear tyres were changed as a precaution, the great driver learned of Biagio’s death after the race.

There were six other GP’s plus Targa and the Tourist Trophy that 1922 season.

Into 1923 there were still just the two Grands Epreuves- this time won by Henry Segrave’s Sunbeam and Carlo Salamano’s Fiat 805- the French and Italian/European GP’s respectively.

Lets focus on Fiat for a moment and the exit of talent to the opposition, it is one of the reasons proffered by observers as the reason Agnelli ‘pulled the pin’ on racing after the 1924 French GP.

Luigi Bazzi had been enticed from Fiat to Alfa by Enzo Ferrari after a difference of opinion with his boss, Fornaca after the 1923 French GP at Tours- the new Fiat 805’s Type 405 supercharged 2 litre (60 x 87.5mm) 130bhp @ 5500 rpm straight-eight engine’s Wittig vane type blower was unscreened which caused the ingestion of roadside detritus and failure. Bazzi, its said, remonstrated with the boss over this.

Tipo 404 2 litre six cross section. In similar fashion to Mercedes the cylinders were built up from steel forgings with welded on water jackets (Motorsport)

 

Carlo Salamano’s 805 straight-eight s/c, Tours 1923 DNF engine (Fiat en GP)

 

1923 Sunbeam GP 2 litre straight-eight Fiat clone (Motorsport)

Fiat’s 1923 Tipo 805 was of course derivative of the cars which went before.

The block was still composed of steel cylinders grouped in two blocks of four with a bore/stroke of 60 x 87.5mm. The two piece crank ran in nine roller bearings with the diameter of the crank pins and main journals increased from 40 to 44mm from Tipo 404 to 405, reflective of the increased stresses of the supercharged motor. The conrods were of chrome nickel steel shortened to 165mm.

The big advance in the design was incorporation of a Wittig vane type blower which was mounted to the nose of the crank running at engine speed and blew compressed air into a single Memini carb- the beautiful motor produced 135bhp @ 5500rpm and was surprisingly lighter than the Tipo 404 six- 170kg for the oldie and 170kg for the 1923 motor.

At 262cm the wheelbase was a bit longer than the 804 whereas the track was the same at 120cm, the total weight was 700kg versus the 660kg of the 1922 car.

The 2 July French GP was on a triangular course near Tours- 35 laps of a 23km for a total of 799km, Fiat entered three 805’s for Bordino, Salamano and Enrico Giaccone with riding mechanics Bruno, Ferretti and Carignano. Pietro had his eye in having done a few laps in a 2 litre 804- the new cars rumbled in by truck via the Alps and arrived on 20 June.

Bordino did the quickest practice lap of 9 min 56 seconds and romped into the lead at the start and after 5 laps was ahead of Kenelm Lee Guinness Sunbeam ‘Green Fiat’…

Sunbeam boss Louis Coatalen had dispensed with the services of Ernest Henry given the lack of speed of his 2 litre four-cylinder car the year before and employed Vincenzo Bertarione (Bertarione was happy to join the company after his request for a pay rise was denied, he brought with him Walter Cecchia for good measure) for whom he designed and built a ‘Fiat clone’.

Working in both Wolverhampton and Suresnes the pair designed and built a car which was almost identical to the 1922 Fiat 804 except that 2mm was added to the bore and 6mm taken from the stroke. The exhaust valve was made larger than the inlets, the valve angle reduced from the Tipo 404’s 102 degrees to 96 and the gearbox had three rather than four speeds but the car was ‘very Fiat like’ the single Solex carbed engine developed circa 108bhp @ 5000rpm.

Kenelm Lee Guinness, Sunbeam GP 2 litre straight-eight, 1923 French GP, Tours (unattributed)

 

Rene Thomas, Delage 2LCV leads Bordino, Fiat 805 from pole, then #2 Kenelm Lee Guiness Sunbeam #3 Albert Guyot Rolland-Pilain and the #6 Ernest Friderich Bugatti T32 ‘Tank’, Tours French GP 1923 (unattributed)

 

Salamano sets off from the pits, 805, DNF engine (unattributed)

Back to Tours- The road surface broke up though, and as a consequence on lap 8 a stone wrecked the crankcase of Pietro’s Fiat, when KLG pitted Giaccone and Salamano took first and second.

Giaccone pitted on lap 17 for fuel, plugs and tyres- he stopped again for attention to the Memini carburettor but the 805 refused to start and was retired with a broken exhaust valve.

On lap 33 Salamano ground to a halt one kilometre from the pits, mechanic Ferretti ran to the pits for fuel but the 805 did not restart- Henry Segrave and Albert Divo were first and second for Sunbeam- or Fiat depending upon your perspective of design parentage…

Lets focus the exit of talent from Fiat to the opposition for a bit, it is one of the reasons proffered by observers as the catalyst for Agnelli ‘pulling the pin’ on racing after the 1924 French GP.

Its said that Luigi Bazzi was enticed from Fiat to Alfa Romeo by Enzo Ferrari after a difference of opinion between Luigi and his boss, Guido Fornaca at the conclusion of the 1923 French GP at Tours- the new Fiat engine’s Wittig vane type blower was unscreened which caused the ingestion of roadside detritus and failure. Bazzi, its said, remonstrated with the boss over this.

At Monza, the Italian Grand Prix was held on 9 September, the Wittig blowers had been replaced by Roots type instruments, the engine now gave about 146bhp @ 5500rpm.

The cars again showed their true speed and on this occasion, their endurance- Bordino led to half distance, a somewhat herculean effort as he broke his arm in practice and drove the race single-handed with the mechanic changing gear. It was a huge mind management tour de force as the crash that broke his arm the day before killed his riding mechanic, Giaccone.

Bordino was forced to retire by virtue of exhaustion whereupon Carlo Salamano took the lead and won at a speed of 91.6mph from Nazzaro and an unblown Miller driven by Jimmy Murphy third.

Pomeroy wrote that ‘it was the first race won by a supercharged car, and since that time (he was writing in November 1942) only one International GP has been won by an un-supercharged type, except on occasions when supercharging has been proscribed by the regulations.’

After the Fiat 805’s success at the 1923 Italian GP at Monza ‘In all significant respects Fiat had fixed the type of racing car for the next ten years: and not least important of their contribution was the use of the supercharger…and thereafter supercharged cars were exclusively successful in Grands Prix of major standing’ Leonard Setright wrote.

Most of you will recall Froilan Gonzalez’ victory in the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone when the normally aspirated 4.5 litre Ferrari 375 triumphed over the hitherto dominant Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159, the latest in a long line of supercharged GP winners begat by the 1923 Fiat 805.

1922 Gran Premio Vetturette, Monza, three of the four Fiat 803’s in shot- #23 is Carlo Salamano’s. Engine Tipo 403 1.5-four normally aspirated (supercharged in 1923)  (unattributed)

In fact whilst the 805 usually gets the twin accolades of first win by a supercharged car and first Grand Prix win so equipped, in more recent times those records are accorded the Fiat 803.

This car, powered by a normally aspirated 1.5 litre engine won the 375 mile Italian Small Car race at Monza in late 1922. In 1923, by then powered by a Tipo 403 1.5 litre, DOHC, Wittig-blown four cylinder engine an 803 won the 29 June 1923 Voiturette Grand Prix at Brescia, Alessandro Cagno was the driver.

As a consequence we now say the 803 was the first car to win an event supercharged, and the first to win a Grand Prix so powered, both achievements took place at Brescia on 29 June with Cagno the driver.

The first supercharged car to win a Grand Epreuve was the Fiat 805 raced by Carlo Salamano at Monza on 9 September 1923.

Rather than get sidetracked now, more details on the little 803 are provided in the ‘Etcetera’ section towards this pieces end.

The other significant achievement by Fiat and its band of designers, engineers, mechanics and drivers between 1921 to 1923 was to ‘institutionalise’ the DOHC, two-valve, supercharged engine approach as orthodoxy for a good many years.

Ernest Henry’s DOHC, four valve mantra was established in the 1912 and 1913 Peugeot’s as most of you well know- here, only a decade later it was challenged and turned over in part.

The twin-overhead cam bit survived with the four valve layout de rigour from the time Cosworth Engineering adopted it in the Ford Cosworth DFV- and the FVA four which appeared a little earlier. Coventry Climax and Ferrari experimented towards the end of the 1.5 litre formula in their mid-sixties V8 and flat-twelve but the path was far from clear ‘BC’- ‘Before Cosworth’.

Jano, Antonio Ascari, Alfa Corse team and Alfa Romeo P2 2 litre straight-eight s/c at Monza during his winning 1924 Italian GP weekend (unattributed)

 

Ascari on the way to winning the 1925 Belgian GP at Spa, Alfa Romeo P2 (unattributed)

The Fiat 805 raced on into 1924, revised to give 145bhp @ 5500rpm, so too did the Green Fiat Sunbeam, now supercharged to give circa 138bhp but both cars had a rival from Portello.

The Alfa Romeo P2 design, construction and development was supervised by Vittorio Jano, another Fiat departee whose exit to Alfa Romeo was advised by Bazzi and implemented by Enzo Ferrari.

Its supercharged straight-eight was assembled in blocks of two rather than the four of the Fiat to avoid thermal distortion. Bore/stroke was 61 x 85mm, it had a two piece crank which ran in ten bronze caged roller bearings and big ends in two piece rollers. The twin-cams were driven by a train of spur gears off the back of the engine, each camshaft ran in ten roller bearings and operated two 35.5mm valves per cylinder which were inclined at 52 degrees to the cylinder axis.

Jano brought all of his Fiat experience to bare but there was plenty of refinement, one example was the use of three concentric valve springs, a weak pint in the Fiat which could not exceed 5500rpm and used to break a lot of them in races of 800km. The Alfa sprngs were higher and of larger section wire resulting in lighter spring loading- and a rev limit of 6500rpm.

Fed by a single Memini carb it produced 134bhp @ 5200rpm when it first appeared at Monza on 4 June, and won, at Cremona, driven by Antonio Ascari partnered by Luigi Bazzi on 9 June 1924. The P2 power output was less than the Tipo 805 eight Jano left behind but of course rather more would come from it and whole families of engines by Jano’s hand at Alfa…

Alfa Romeo P2- Louis Wagners 4th placed car from the #14 Dario Resta Sunbeam ‘flagged off’ in 10th France 1924 (LAT)

 

Lyon prior to the start of the 1924 French GP. Cesare Pastore Fiat 805 first in the team line up

 

Onesino Marchieso, Fiat 805 2 litre S8 s/c (LAT)

 

Back into the fray, Felice Nazzaro, Fiat 805, it paid for the driver and mechanic to be at the compact end of the human sprectrum (LAT)

 

Pietro Bordino, Fiat 805, DNF brakes (LAT)

 

Bordino in the US in 1925, Fiat 805, where though folks? (unattributed)

Bordino crashed his 805 in practice at Lyon for the French Grand Prix, the car was trucked back to Turin for repair.

Four Fiat’s started the 3 August race crewed by Nazzaro/Carignano, Bodino/Bruno, Pastore/Mauro and Marchisio/Lorenzo.

Bordino led between laps 4 and 10 before being forced out with failing brakes, Nazzaro had the same affliction, he too withdrew. Onesimo Marchisio suffered engine trouble and Cesare Pastore left the road to end a miserable Fiat weekend.

Worse was that the Jano penned P2 driven by Giuseppe Campari won, ex-Fiat engineer Bertarione’s ‘Green Fiat’ Sunbeam GP was the quicker car but had problems with its Bosch magneto.

Alfa Romeo won again at Monza, on this occasion Alberto Ascari drove the winning P2.

The number of events in Europe started to ‘explode’ with seventeen Grand Epreuves and Grands’ Prix in addition to Targa- that year, coincidentally, Enzo Ferrari won three of these events at Savio, Ravenna and Polesine, Rovigo in an Alfa RLSS and the Coppa Acerbo, Pescara in an RLTF.

The racing history of the Fiat 805’s finished in the United States.

One chassis was rebodied as a monoposto, Bordino contested a 250 miler at Culver City in December 1924 starting from pole, and again in March 1925 for sixth, another race of the same distance at Charlotte in May for DNF rear axle and the Indy 500 in which he was tenth, the winning car was Peter DePaulo’s Duesenberg.

Alfa Romeo forged ahead for in the coming years whilst Fiat withdrew from motor racing as the company focused its energies in the air rather than on the road.

Lets have a brief look at that without getting completely side-tracked.

Macchi Castoldi M.C.72, the worlds fastest piston-powered seaplane in 1931 at Lake Garda. Powered by two of Zerbi’s Fiat AS-6 V12’s coupled in tandem. The engines were connected by double reduction gears and concentric shafts to two contrarotating duralumin propellers. These were good for 2800hp or 3100 in short bursts (unattributed)

Bill Boddy sheets home the blame for Fiat’s motor racing withdrawal at Benito Mussolini’s door. He saw the promotional value of racing, like Hitler, but also wanted victory in the Schneider Cup, contested by the fastest float-planes on the planet.

Engineer Tarquilo Zerbi was therefore tasked to develop winning aero engines rather than Fiat’s next GP contender.

In 1920 and 1921 in Venice the Italian Macchi’s won the cup albeit in 1920 no other nation entered and in 1921 they finished first to third noting that the French entry did not start.

In 1926 at Hampton Roads, in the US, Major de Barnardi’s Mario Castoldi designed Macchi M39 won- the low wing monoplane was powered by Tranquillo Zerbi’s 882 horsepower Fiat A.S.2 liquid-cooled V12, he  took first place with an average speed of 246.497mph despite having to climb to 600 feet to cool his overheating engine.

It’s said that soon after crossing the line the exultant pilot sent a telegram to Mussolini announcing ‘Your orders to win at all costs have been carried out’.

Two days later de Bernardi used another of the aircraft to achieve a new world speed record of 258.497mph over a 3km course at Hampton Downs.

It wasn’t so flash for ones favourite, short, well dressed Italian Fascist after that however.

Macchi M52 in Venice, Schneider Cup 1927. Powered by Fiat high compression AS3 1000hp V24 engine’s (unattributed)

In the 1927 Venice event all three Macchi’s retired, British Flt Lt Webster won in a Supermarine S5 Napier Lion, in 1929 the contest, bi-annual by then went to a Supermarine S6 Rolls Royce R-type, Flt Officer Waghorn was the pilot at Calshott- the Macchi by then was powered by a 1000hp Fiat AS-3 engine.

Worthy of mention, to say the least, is the 1931 Macchi Castoldi M.C.72, the worlds fastest piston-engined seaplane.

It was powered by two of Zerbi’s Fiat AS-6 supercharged V12’s coupled in tandem resulting in a 50 litre 24 cylinder engine. The two motors, mounted back to back were connected by double reduction gears and concentric shafts to two contrarotating duralumin propellors. These were good for 2800hp or 3100hp in short bursts. The plane took the Air Speed Record in 1934 at 440.681mph.

Five aircraft were to be built for the 1931 Schneider, three were completed but the first crashed, killing the pilot, Giovanni Monti. The Italians petitioned for the race to be postponed but the British refused, effectively eliminating both Italy and France- whose entry was not ready either.

 

Sectional view of the opposed piston two-stroke Fiat Tipo 451 engine, ‘scrappy’ but still worth including

Meanwhile, back in Grand Prix racing…

In 1925 Alfa Romeo’s P2 was the dominant GP car taking wins at Spa and Monza in the hands of Antonio Ascari and Gastone Brilli-Peri- the other non-Indy Grand Epreuvewas won by a Delage 2LCV shared by Robert Benoist and Albert Divo at Montlhery.

At the seasons end, having won the World Championship, Alfa Corse withdrew from racing leaving the way clear for Bugatti’s T39 2 litre straight-eight in 1926.

Jules Goux won at Miramas, France, and Lasarte San Sebastian/European GP with Louis Chauvel the winner at Monza- all races won by Bugatti T39’s. The exception was the British GP at Brooklands which was taken by a Delage 15 S8 shared by Robert Senechal and Louis Wagner. Bugatti won the World Manufacturers Championship.

Meanwhile back in Turin, amongst his aviation work Tranquilo Zerbi amused himself with two racing car projects for the 1926-1927 1.5 litre GP formula.

The first, the Tipo 451, designed by Zerbi with the assistance of Giuseppe Sola and Scipone Treves was a two-stroke opposed piston six (52 x 58.5mm bore/stroke) with geared crankshafts.

Roots provided the blower, whilst extensively bench tested to around 152bhp the engines consumption of fuel was matched only by its appetite for pistons. The metallurgy of the time simply could not cope with the enormous heat produced on the exhaust side so the motor never found its way into a car.

His ‘more conservative’ four-stroke offering did, however.

 

 

Pietro Bordino and riding mechanic during the 1922 French GP meeting, Fiat 804 2 litre six (unattributed)

Fiat’s return to elite level racing was as impactful as its designs had been several years before and was perhaps born of Agnelli’s simple desire to redress the balance- assert just who was the most innovative, successful motor car manufacturer of the day.

The engineers were tasked to lead the project and came up with revolutionary approaches in terms of chassis, engine and riding mechanic- or rather lack thereof.

Riding mechanics were banned in Grand Prix racing from the start of 1925, in 1927 two seat cars still required two seats but single-seaters were allowed provided the seat was at least 80cm wide and 25cm high- the Fiat engineers very much minimised and optimised the space.

The thinking extended to the chassis in that the team decided to broaden the distance between the two longitudinal members to allow the engine to be mounted lower by placing the engine in the middle of the lumps of steel rather than on top of them- the car was noticeably lower and narrower than its rivals. The steering wheel was flattened top and bottom to provide the driver with the requisite space to control the machine.

The Type 806 frame had a wheelbase of 240cm and a track of 130cm, the front semi-elliptic springs slid between rollers rather than shackles at their outer ends.

Fiat 806 cutaway drawing (bitmodeller.com)

 

 

(unattributed)

Zerbi’s Tipo Fiat 406 engine was one of extraordinary extravagance of expression and innovation.

An amazing piece of engineering, it was a twelve-cylinder unit comprised of two inline-sixes mounted side by side on a common crankcase with the cranks geared together. The banks of exhaust valves were placed on the outer flanks of the cylinder heads whilst the inlets were adjacent and operable by a single camshaft with twelve lobes.

The cranks were built up using ‘Hirth principles of crankpins mating with webs by radial serrationsand locked together by throughbolts’ LJKS wrote. Their were eight main-bearings of plain journal type- a departure for Fiat who had hitherto used rollers, a tradition they established. Connecting rods were one-piece with plain bearings, three camshafts and a single Roots blower. All up weight of the engine was 170kg to which was attached a four speed gearbox.

The quest was piston area- the bore was 50mm and stroke 63mm, at the time this was a lower bore/stroke ratio than only the Bugatti T39. Fiat achieved fitting larger valves into smaller cylinders.

(unattributed)

 

(Setright)

Whilst Setright asserts the ‘Type 406 engine could run happily run at 8000 rev/min’ at which it gave about 175bhp (187bhp @8500), it seems that state of happiness was not for prolonged periods as testing by Bordino at Monza in the summer of 1927 showed.

Mind you, the car was fast- reportedly four seconds a lap quicker at Monza than the 1925 lap record held by Peter Kreis. Boddy wrote that development work on aero engines impeded progress on the new GP car too so the thing clearly had huge potential.

The low, slender monoposto weighed 700kg dry and was, on paper, the most powerful and fastest car built to the 1.5 litre formula.

In the meantime the 1927 season was well underway with the Delage 15 S-8 proving very competitive with an early win in the GP de l’Ouverture at Monthlery in mid-March and then a championship win at the same circuit in early July.

At the end of the month he won again, this time at Lasarte near San Sebastian, the site of the Spanish GP which that year was one of five Grand Epreuves.

As the European GP at Monza drew closer, Hans Etzrodt wrote that Fiat suddenly withdrew their entry from the race, despite assuring the organisers they would compete if the event were postponed from 4 to 18 September.

The reason given for their withdrawal was supposed tyre problems but it was assumed the new Fiats were not yet ready- that is they were not sufficiently developed to complete a GP of 500km in distance.

As a consequence of Fiat’s concern about the experimental engine’s life- in fact it is said Agnelli himself intervened, whilst the ‘big boys’ contested the 500km European Grand Prix (also the Italian GP) at Monza on 4 September Bordino raced in the 50km Milan GP support event winning his rain soaked heat at 92.88mph and a similarly sodden final at 94.57mph from Giuseppe Campari’s aged 2 litre Alfa Romeo P2.

The victory was not without pain as an engine failed in practice requiring an ‘all nighter’ to have the sole 806 chassis race-ready.

The feature race, poorly supported with only six starters, was won again by Robert Benoist’s Delage 15 1.5 S8, from Giuseppe Morandi, OM 8C GP 1.5 S8 and the Cooper-Miller Special 1.5 S8 shared by Earl Cooper and Peter Kreis.

The Manufacturers World Championship was effectively decided after this race in favour of Delage as neither Miller or Duesenberg could best their points advantage by winning the remaining championship event, the British GP on 1 October.

Bordino, Fiat 806, Monza (unattributed)

 

Alfonso Zampieri Amilcar 1.1 S6, Bordino Fiat 806 1.5 12, Emilio Materassi Bugatti T35C 2.0 S8, Nino Cirio Bugatti T37A 1.5 S4, Abele Clerici Salmson 1.1, Peter Kreis Cooper Miller Spl 1.5 S8, Giuseppe Campari, Alfa Romeo P2 2.0 S8, Aymo Maggi Bugatti T35C 2.0 S8

 

Felice Nazzaro, who was the starter, talking to Bordino on the Milan GP heat 2 grid- Fiat 806. #14 is Robert Serboli, Ciribili 12/16 and #12 Nino Cirio, Bugatti T37A. Bordino won from Cirio and Serboli  (unattributed)

A full team of 806’s was entered for the RAC GP at Brooklands with Nazzaro, Bordino and Salamano nominated as drivers but the cars did not appear, Schneider Trophy priorities were cited as the reason for the no-show.

And with that Fiat withdrew completely from GP racing…finally to reappear as owners of Ferrari in 1969.

There are a variety of theories as to the reasons for Fiats withdrawal from racing whilst noting Boddy’s observations about a focus on aircraft racing earlier.

Dick Ploeg in his review of Sebastien de Coulanges ‘Fiat en Grand Prix’ in velocetoday.com attributes Giovanni Agnelli’s sudden withdrawal to the loss of too many of his star drivers- Evasio Lampiano, Biagio Nazzaro, Enrico Giaccone, Ugo Sivocci and Onesimo Marchisio had all been killed.

The death of Pietro Bordino testing a Bugatti seems to have been the last straw, and with that he ordered the destruction of all FIAT racing cars by the end of the 1927 season.

Cyril Posthumus wrote in ‘The Roaring Twenties’ ‘Benoist in the 1500 Delage had entered for the Milan Grand Prix but elected not to run. That way Delage avoided possible defeat. Only one car was actually built, and legend, unconfirmed, has it that Fiat chief Agnelli, returning from a long American tour, was furious at the work being put into the racing car at a time when the economic recession was already being felt, and ordered it to be broken up, together with all spares and patterns…’ Note that Fiat constructed a factory in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1910 so Agnelli’s knowledge of economic conditions in a key market would have been very much current.

Doug Nye on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2003 wrote that ‘…I was schooled by Cyril Posthumus (my editor at “Motor Racing” magazine in the mid-sixties) to understand that Agnelli pulled out of racing primarily because he was outraged at the manner in which Bertarione had gone off to Sunbeam and produced a Fiat in green paint which won in France at Fiat’s expense, and Becchia went to Talbot and performed similarly and above all when Jano and Bazzi went to Alfa Romeo and really kicked the coal bucket all over Fiat’s lounge carpet…each of these engineers having been- in Agnelli’s view- expensively Fiat trained.’

Doug Nye, again, adds to the theses in his ‘Motor Racing Mavericks’. He wrote, ‘In Fiats experimental shop the prototype 806 lay under wraps until the new year, and on 14 January Guido Fornaca- Fiat’s very pro-motor racing managing director died. As a new regime took over under Agnelli so racing fell from favour, and then came the inexplicable order to destroy the last Grand Prix car, to destroy its engines and all existing parts, and even its detail drawings. This orgy of destruction spelled the end to Fiat’s noble Grand Prix career, and their ultimate racing car just became so much molten metal, bubbling in a cauldron in a Fiat foundry.’

A variety of historians, a variety of views and perhaps all are partially true- the sum total a decision by Agnelli to withdraw from racing.

Bordino, Fiat 806, Monza lovely impressionist piece (P Codognato)

At this point Setright’s observations about the state of Grand Prix racing are interesting.

‘This final abstention of Fiat from racing at the end of 1927 marked the beginning of a period in which, from the engineering point of view, Grand Prix racing went into a period of decline, so that in the next six years only one development of any technical value- the transmission of the 1932 type B Alfa Romeo- caused any stir amid the general stagnation.’

‘The period was also one in which the administration of the sport fell into disorder, the governing body finding itself powerless to control the active participants. Indeed it was this very dissention that contributed to the obstruction of technical progress.’

‘Whether paradoxically or as a direct consequence of this, the sport enjoyed a rise in popularity ‘qua’ sport, and the frequency in which races were held increased markedly in 1928 and 1929. In the first of these years it had been intended that a new set of regulations would supplant the 1 1/2 litre formula which, in its brief two years of life, had demonstrated fairly conclusively that any attempt to limit increases in performance by imposing more severe limitations on engine size would only lead to intensive development of more complex and highly tuned engines so that racing would not become necessarily any slower, nor essentially any safer, but inexorably more costly.’

‘It was therefore proposed that engine capacity should be unrestricted, but that it should be related to a sliding scale of minimum weights ranging from 550-750kg for the empty vehicle, and that races should be over a distance of at least 600km.’

In reality what actually happened was races run to Formula Libre from 1928 to 1934 when the 750kg formula started and a period of both innovation and intensive development of existing paradigms set in motion by the departed Fiat…

(Antique Automobile)

Tipo 406 Engine Detail…

There is not a heap of information about this engine or the car which carried it given the short life of all of the constituent parts, so I have reproduced the material about the motor published in the January 1951 issue of Motorsport. The writer, Bill Boddy, credits ‘Motor Italia’ as the source and ‘Antique Automobile’ for the translation.

‘The bore and stroke were 50mm by 63mm and the cylinder structure as before with a single crankcase for each row of three blocks of two. The inclined overhead valves were of 30mm overall, 27mm face diameter and had a lift of 7mm. Each had three guided springs. Valve operation was by three overhead camshafts, the centre one actuating the inlet valves of each bank, the pouter ones the exhaust valves, via fingers in each instance as in the other FIAT engines.The camshafts, running in plain bearings, were driven from the rear of the crankshaft, via Oldham couplings, by one very large and five small spur gears on anti-friction bearings.’

‘A Roots supercharger was mounted centrally at the front of the engine and driven from the right-hand crankshaft by a pinion meshing with one of the actual rotor gears via a multi-plate clutch. Three pinions united the two crankshafts, which were of built up type by Hirth, running each in four plain bearings. Normal plain big ends were used. The main and big end journals were 40mm in diameter, the former 30mm long, except for the front bearing, which was 32mm long, the latter 41mm. the connecting rods were 5.118 inches long, or over 2 times stroke.’

‘The pistons were again supported by their rings, of which there were two per groove, in three grooves per piston; 18mm sparking plugs extended well into the hemispherical conbustion chambers. The oil pump, at the back of the engine, ran at less than engine speed.’

‘Vaglienti had a hand in the design of this remarkable engine. It weighed 381 lb. and the model 806 car in which it was installed turned the scales at just over 13 cwt. Maximum speed quoted as 149mph. The engine developed 173bhp at 7500rpm and 187bhp at 8500rpm, figures that are truly remarkable. A test in July 1027 shows, shows 160bhp, at 8000rpm at a manifold pressure of 12.52psi, the temperature of the compressed mix 162 degrees fahrenheit (72 degrees C)’

‘This was an experimental engine and it is confidently stated that the aforementioned 187bhp, equal to a power/weight ratio of over 1hp per Kg, was subsequently attained. Compared with the present day 1 1/2 litre engine with two-stage supercharging which gives 300-400bhp on special fuels, the output of this 1927 twelve cylinder FIAT unit still ranks as exceedingly noteworthy’.

Same Monza shot as above but all tidied up with a Fascist or three in attendance (unattributed)

 

Etcetera…

 

(CSF)

Fiat’s first factory at Corso Dante, Turin in 1902.

 

(CSF)

The first Fiat to participate in low level competition was the 1901 8HP road machine but it was quickly replaced by the 12HP four-cylinder car in the same year, both cars are shown in the photo above of the 1901 Giro d’Italia Automobile.

The 8HP in front has a tube radiator whereas the four cylinder behind is fitted with a honeycomb unit and was Fiat’s first purpose built racer- Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia was the driver.

(CSF)

The Gordon Bennett Cup started in 1900, it was run until 1905 when the Automobile Club of France, international race organisers themselves, formed their own championship, the first for Grand Prix cars.

In the fifth Cup race in 1904 Vincenzo Lancia (above) won the Brescia-Cremona and Mantua-Brescia sections, the latter at an amazing 71.8mph in his big 75HP Corsa and for this won the Italian Cup, Graham Gauld wrote. The outright winner was Leon Thery in a Richard-Brasier.

(CSF)

Alessandro Cagno (tenth) in front of his 75HP Gordon Bennett Fiat- five were built. Wonderful atmosphere of the times, Event held on the Homburg Circuit, four laps of a 79 1/2 mile course through the Taunus Forest near Bad Homburg, Germany in June 1904.

 

(CSF)

Felice Nazzaro’s great win (above) in the 1907 Targa Florio, teammate Vincenzo Lancia followed his home, they both raced Fiat 28-40 Corsa- 7.3 litre eight cylinder machines ‘with two four cylinder engines in two pairs’ wrote Graham Gauld.

(CSF)

Emile Salmson after winning the 1907 Winter Cup- 322 miles from Gothenburg to Stockholm, over 23 1/2 hours over snow and ice coveered roads,  Fiat 60HP.

(CSF)

Cagno at the wheel of a 1914 Fiat S57/14B Corsa.

(CSF)

Post World War One Italy re-entered motorsport with the 50.9km Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb in October 1919.

The factory entered a 1914 S57A/14B Corsa they had raced at Lyons that year but fitted with an enlarged 4.8 litre engine. When they withdrew Antonio Ascari (above) acquired the car and won the race, beginning the family legend. Another legend got underway in thatsame event- Enzo Ferrari contested his first race in the same event finishing fifth in class aboard a CMN 2.3 litre car.

Three weeks later Ascari won again in the Coppa della Consuma, a 16km hillclimb east of Florence, he then contested Targa, he led after 31km but crashed out at Caltavuturo after 58km, overturning and landing in a ditch. Enzo Ferrari was there too- in an Isotta Fraschini, he also retired.

Carlo Salamano in a Fiat 803 1.5 litre S-4 unsupercahrged, 1922 Gran Premio d’Italia Vetturette (CSF)

You probably did a number count earlier on and wondered what had become of the Tipo 803- indeed there was such a car.

Quite a significant one given its credits of first supercharged formula car win and first to win a GP.

During 1922 design on the new Voiturrette got underway, the chassis was similar to the other race Fiats of the period with front springs passing through the axle. Initially the Tipo 403 engine was a 65 x 112mm bore/stroke normally aspirated twin-cam, two valve four which produced 60bhp.

So engined, a team of cars entered the late 1922 Italian Small Car Race at Monza, Bordino won from Giaccone, Lampiano and Salamano. These 1.5 litre road racers were the fastest cars of their type in the world at the time and almost as quick as their 2 litre brothers.

A further development of the car was to incorporate a Wittig supercharger into the specification, in this 80bhp form the 1.5 litre, supercharged Tipo 403 four cylinder engined machine raced in two events in 1923.

(unattributed)

The photo above shows the grid of the ‘Third Gran Premio delle Vette’ or 1923 GP Voiturette held at Brescia on 29 June 1923.

The 522km race, 30 laps of a 17.4km course, was won by the Alessandro Cagno’s Fiat 803 from Renzo Lenti, Bugatti T22 and Alete Marconcini in a Chiribiri 12/16. Please let me know if you can identify the cars/drivers.

Two 803’s also contested the October 1923 JCC 200 mile race at Brooklands, both Salamano and Malcolm Campbell failed to finish.

Fiat 804 cockpit during the 1922 French GP weekend. Plenty of instruments to keep the mechanic occupied and not a lot of space. A clock is an unusual fitment in a modern GP car. Fuel tap at far left, four speed ‘box. Wonderful.

 

(unattributed)

Enrico Giaccone Fiat 805 during the 1923 French GP, Tours. DNF engine after finishing 32 of 35 laps.

 

(CSF)

Carlo Salamano refuels the body whilst his 805 is attended to during the 1923 Italian GP at Monza, a race he won.

 

(CSF)

Pietro Bordino with the 805 monoposto in the United States in 1925, circuit unknown but possibly Indianapolis.

 

Fiat 806 cutaway drawing (Blueprints)

Art and Photo Credits…

Brian Hatton, Giulio Betti, britmodeller.com, Blueprints, ‘CSF’- Centro Storico Fiat, George A Oliver, Plinio Codognato

Bibliography…

‘The Grand Prix’ LJK Setright, Motorsport January 1951, Dick Ploeg article in VeloceToday.com published 14 December 2011, Hans Etzrodt race reports of the GP D’Europa and GP Milano on kolumbus.fi, ‘Motor Racing Mavericks’ Doug Nye, ‘The Roaring Twenties’ Cyril Posthumus, ‘Aviation History: Schneider Trophy Race’ Historynet.com, ‘Auto Racing Comes of Age’ Robert Dick, ‘Racing Car Evolution Part 3 1922-1925’ Laurence Pomeroy Motorsport November 1942, ‘The Racing Car Development and Design’ Cecil Clutton, Cyril Posthumus and Denis Jenkinson

Tailpiece…

(GA Oliver)

The 2 litre Fiat 804 straight-eight raced by Felice Nazzaro to victory in the 1922 French Grand Prix at Strasbourg. ‘With its low, compact build and six cylinder, roller-bearing engine, it set new design fashions’ wrote Clutton, Posthumus and Jenkinson.

The beautiful drawing of an equally attractive racing car is by George A Oliver.

Finito…

(VC Browne)

Ken Wharton, BRM P15 V16 during the 1954 Lady Wigram Trophy…

Alfred Owen started what became a long commitment to race his BRM’s in Australasia to further the Owen Organisations commercial interests with a trip by the stupendous, stunning and thoroughly nutty P15 V16 to New Zealand in 1954.

Its fair to say the car underperformed as it usually did, but the impact it made on all who saw and heard the marvellous machine at both Ardmore for the NZ GP and Wigram has endured for far longer than a more reliable but less memorable beast.

Wigram (VC Browne)

 

Such free and easy days- Wharton warms the car up before the NZ GP start at Ardmore (J Short)

The 1954 New Zealand International Grand Prix was the second in the history of the race, the first was won by local, John McMillan’s Ford V8 engined Jackson Special in 1950.

The Kiwi organisers leapt over their Australian neighbours across the ditch in attracting an international field to their Formula Libre race including Wharton, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125, Horace Gould in a Cooper Mk23 Bristol as well as Jack Brabham’s similar car, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta, Stan Jones in Maybach 1- the eventual winner, Lex Davison’s ex-Moss/Gaze HWM and others.

Wharton had the race won in P15 chassis ‘2’ but suffered complete front brake failure- vaporised brake fluid streamed from the front brake cylinders coming down the main straight so Wharton slowed and came into the pits.

Repairs were impossible so the front brake pipes were disconnected with Stan Jones in Maybach 1 winning the race, and subsequent protests about lap-scoring. Stan had more than his share of those post-race contests over the years but he won this one, perhaps at Gould’s expense.

Wharton was second ‘…in what must have been one of the greatest drives of his career to bring the BRM home and to complete the longest race in the cars history’ wrote Doug Nye- Tony Gaze was third, Horace Gould fourth, Ron Roycroft fifth in an Alfa Romeo P3 and Jack Brabham sixth.

Wharton’s problems were caused by a bit of circuit grit lodging in one of the calipers preventing a piston returning fully and causing the brakes to overheat through constant friction, eventually popping off a brake hose union and releasing fluid onto the scorching disc.

(CAN)

At Wigram (above) Wharton again started from pole from Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari, Tony Gaze’s HWM Alta and Fred Zambucka in a pre-war Maserati 8CM.

Whitehead won from Gaze and Wharton, then John McMillan in an Alfa Romeo Tipo B the first local home. Wharton bagged the fastest lap and lap record- as he had at Ardmore.

The BRM had a fresh engine installed between the meetings the car exceeding 150mph on the back straight- shrieking and bellowing in the most audio-erotic fashion in all of motor racing.

(M Hanna)

‘Wharton more or less had the race under control until he had to pit around lap 42 and took on a gallon of oil, the car eventually quit short of the finish line, Wharton pushed it across the line home for third place’ wrote Bob Homewood.

‘The long-distance venture had not proved to be the prestigious demonstration Owen Racing Organisation had hoped…The car was shipped home on the SS Karamea…Ken Wharton flew home via Hawaii…while (mechanic) Gordon Newman decided that New Zealand was such a pleasant country he eventually settled there’ Doug Nye wrote in ‘BRM 1’.

(BRM 1)

Ken Wharton pushed the big, beefy BRM a quarter of a mile over the line just as fourth placed man McMillan’s Alfa Romeo P3 commenced its last lap, encouraged by the BRM mechanics.

(B Homewood)

Gold dust- a Lap Chart from Bob Homewood’s collection ‘…from my BRM in NZ stuff, I make no claim that the pencil lap times are correct’ he quips.

Whilst the Mk2 P15 returned to the UK the team would return many times to Australasia, on the next occasion with a P25 for Ron Flockhart in 1959, shown below at Wigram- he won the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy from Brabham and McLaren’s Cooper T45 Climaxes that day, a story for another time…

(CAN)

Credits…

VC Browne & Son, Classic Auto News, Bob Homewood Collection, Winton Bristow via Roger Dowding, Merv Hanna Collection, ‘BRM 1’ Doug Nye, sergent.com

Etcetera…

(BRM 1)

Jack and Ken at Ardmore.

Brabham in the cap looks across as Wharton sets off for some screaming but sonorous 1.5 litre V16 supercharged practice laps, Cooper T23 Bristol ‘Redex Spl’ looking suitably modest alongside its more aristocratic but far less successful countryman.

(BRM 1)

Lotsa plugs and lotsa plug changes…Newman and Southcott set to it, which of the two airfield circuits is unclear.

(unattributed)

 

Beast at rest in the Wigram pits

 

(W Bristow)

Roger Dowding wrote ‘…sketch by Winton Bristow…I have about eight of them, some finished some not (love to see ’em!) but interesting cars, I have Win’s notes too. Win was a car enthusiast…’. Luvvit!

Pity the long distance travelling race mechanic in 1954, read Nye’s account of Gordon Newman and Willie Southcott’s trip from Lincolnshire to the other end of the world in December 1953.

’…the adventure began at 8am in Bourne, when they caught the bus to Peterborough.

This was followed by a train to King’s Cross, London to report to KLM’s Sloane Street office at noon, a bus to Heathrow and then a 5pm flight to Amsterdam, thence to Auckland via Sydney, Australia.

They had a worldwide Letter of Credit with them, value £130, comprising 50% of 15 weeks wages (£60), expenses at £3 a week (£45) and an extra £25 for contingencies. The NZ GP was…run on January 9 and…Wigram…in the South Island on February 7 with sundry exhibition dates in between.’

No rest for the wicked…

The mighty supercharged 1.5 litre V16 engine (Vic Berris)

 

Wigram again (unattributed)

Tailpiece: Wharton, Wigram 1954- not exactly a light car, just ask Ken…

Finito…

Kleinig, not Klienig by the way…

Many of you know I love the language of yesteryear racing reports, so the ‘National Advocate’ Bathurst 8 October report of the 7 October New South Wales Grand Prix is reproduced in full. In the manner of the day the reporters name is not identified, which is a shame as he or she has done a mighty fine job- its all ‘as was’ other than car descriptions where I have been a bit more fulsome with model designations.

The article is a fluke in that I was researching a piece on Frank Kleinig and came upon a batch of staggering photographs recently uploaded by the State Library of New South Wales- they are truly wonderful.

Taken by the staff of ‘Pix’ magazine, a weekly some of you may remember, it’s the first time the photos have been used in high resolution, when published way back they would have been in ‘half-tones’. The racing shots are great but in addition there are ‘people pictures’ of the type important to a magazine such as ‘Pix’ but which a racing snapper generally would not take, these are amazing in terms of conveying the overall vibe and feel of the meeting and times more generally.

Digital scoreboard linked to yer iPhone via the Internet thingy (SLNSW)

 

Najar and Nind at the start, MacLachlan is looking pretty relaxed sans helmet, they were off the same handicap of either 7 or 15 minutes depending upon the source (SLNSW)

Here goes, and remember this event is run to Formula Libre and as a Handicap…

‘Fortunately the racing was not marred by any serious accidents. The only accident occurred during the running of the first race, the under 1500cc Handicap when the young Victorian driver, Wal Feltham crashed at ‘The Quarry’. He was thrown heavily and sustained a fractured collarbone. His car, an MG P Type was badly damaged and he had a miraculous escape. He just managed to jump from the car a few yards before it hurtled over a hillside to crash about 80 feet to be completely wrecked. Feltham was admitted to the district hospital for treament.

It was certainly an afternoon of thrilling races and the scene will long be remembered. The racing circuit throughout the whole length was packed with struggling humanity. All sorts of motor vehicles were there from the first model Ford to the post-war type. As a matter of fact the aggregation of cars was perhaps the greatest ever seen locally and every inch of parking space was taken up.

There were 23 starters in the classic race and it was remarkably free from anything in the nature of a serious accident. Skids there were plenty on the hairpin and ‘S’ bends and though at times the situation looked both ugly and dangerous, the drivers always managed to gain control on their cars at the moment when the wide eyed spectators expected them to overturn.’

Mount Panorama Grandstand 1946 style (SLNSW)

 

Bill MacLachlan’s MG TB Monoposto- twin SU fed Xpag, three bearing four cylinder 1355cc engine (SLNSW)

‘It was on the famous ‘S’ bend, which had been especially noted as one of the most dangerous spots and at which the trials over the weekend that several drivers came to grief, that DA MacLachlan of Sydney had a thrilling experience. His car went into a skid and struck the sandbags on the side with such force that it was hurled across the track to strike the other side and narrowly miss the legs of two girls who were seated on top of the ledge. The car narrowly missed being hurled over the side overlooking a long drop of many feet.

Speaking after the race, the winner, Alf Najar, said that it was a hard race and that fortunately he had a good passage and his car travelled smoothly all the way. He mentioned that the last four winners of the Grand Prix at Bathurst had been tuned and prepared by Rex Marshall of Sydney and to whom he owed much for his success.

He also praised the Bathurst Council for the attention and care given to the track and added that it was because of the work done on the ‘S’ bend during yesterday morning that the drivers were able to negotiate with comparitive safety. The track, he said, was in good order even though it was not capable of holding cars travelling at over 100 miles an hour for any distance.

Speaking generally, yesterday’s race was one of the best of its kind ever run on any Australian circuit. The cars used were all pre-war models and consequently could not be regarded as fast and durable as the later models. In these circumstances the speed attained by the cars was right up to standard.’

A couple of chargers coming down the mountain. Ted Gray in the ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato by then flathead Ford V8 powered from Kleinigs Hudson Special. Ted Gray was quick from his earliest outings on Victorian Speedways and evolved into one of Australia’s elite drivers in Tornados 1 and 2- with  a little more luck he could have won the 1958 AGP at Bathurst aboard the big, booming Tornado 2 Chev (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch, Delahaye 135CS ahead of Alby Johnson’s MG TC. Crouch won the 1948 AGP at Leyburn aboard the beautiful Delahaye, perhaps one of John Snow’s most astute racing car purchases in terms of suitability for Australian racing of the day if not in outright pace but reliability (SLNSW)

‘High speeds were witnessed in the ‘Con-Rod Straight’ from the bottom of the S-bend to the left-angle turn (Murrays) into the starting straight (Pit Straight).

The officials had chosen a section of the straight solely for the purpose of checking high speeds and this was known as the Flying Quarter. The fastest speed attained was 119mph by John Crouch in the French Delahaye 135CS. His time was taken during three runs and each time he got progressively better. His speeds were 105, 108 and 119mph.

Jack Murray with the powerful Ford-Bugatti was second with 109mph. This car was exceedingly fast but the driver did not seem inclined to take risks. Rather than that he let it out at top speed while climbing the hills and this made up a considerable amount of ground.

Frank Kleinig also attained 109mph over the distance and brought gasps from the crowd by his masterly handling of the car which is really unique in Australian motoring history. It is made up of parts from several other cars. It takes off with a great leaping surge forward and picks up very fast. It travels like a rocket with no spluttering or back-firing usually associated with high powered racing cars.

The weather was almost perfect with no wind to carry the dust high into the air and into the crowd.

Sunglasses seem to have come into fashion for the summer and a number of girls who tend to forget to bring their sunglasses and hats were noticed wearing mens heavy glasses and sun helmets, while the poor boyfriend stood in the sun and sweltered.’

Pre race pit straight scene with Frank Kleinig’s Hudson Eight Special front and centre, Delahaye alongside? (SLNSW)

Grand Prix…

‘Racing keenly for 25 laps during which time they presented many thrills to the public, Alf Najar (NSW) defeated John Nind (NSW) for major honours in the NSW Grand Prix yesterday. AV Johnson gained third place and defeated FW Gray of Victoria for that position.

Najar and Nind were both driving MG Series TB of 1250cc and 1268cc respectively, started off the 15 minute mark, with DA MacLachlan in a MG Series TA of 1355cc. There has been a friendly rivalry between these three men for many years because of each others good driving and yesterday’s performance demonstated just how good these men are. MacLachlan came only ninth in the race, being handicapped by a faulty cooling system. He was forced to continually call at the pits for water.

At times Najar and Nind fought for minutes at a time trying to wrestle the lead from one another. However, Najar seemed to have the better of the going, for he finished about 600 yards in front of Nind. A remarkable point in the clash between them at the end of the distance- 100 miles is that Najar gained one second in every 3.84 miles.

One of the first to greet Najar after his win of the Grand Prix was his sister, who dashed over to the car as it stopped, threw her arms around him, kissed him and being so elated with the victory, burst into tears.’

Good boy! Alf Najar being congratulated by his mother and sisters after his big win. Looks like a beer to me (SLNSW)

 

Najar returns to the paddock after his win, MG TB Monoposto (SLNSW)

‘Johnson, who gained third place took the lead from L Phillips of Victoria, driving a 747cc Austin, when the latter stopped during lap seven owing to engine trouble. Johnson fought grimly to hold his lead, and did so until the 16th lap when Najar took it from him.

During the next time around he lost second place to Nind, but managed to hold off Gray, of Wangaratta, in a Ford V8 Alfa Romeo, long enough to finish the course. It was a remarkable feat on Johnson’s part, considering that the MG TC he was driving was an almost completely standard machine. He was equipped with lights, mudguards and all equipment to make it roadworthy.

JE Murray, who finished fifth in a 3622cc Ford Bugatti, gained the honour of fastest time by clocking 1hr.26min.24sec. for the entire trip of 100 miles. He drove brilliantly throughout and the car gave him the minimum of trouble. Apart from winning fastest time, the car was also one of the best looking on the track.’

Murray in the ex-Bill Thomson Bugatti T37A AGP winner, chassis ‘37358’ now Ford sidevalve V8 powered. This car and its adventures over its long racing life is a story in itself- still extant and in the process of restoration (SLNSW)

 

Alec Mildren, Mildren Ford V8 Spl and Jack Nind MG TB Spl. Mildren of course became a champion driver, winner of the 1960 Gold Star and AGP at  Lowood aboard his Cooper T51 Maserati. Alec was off 13.36 minutes and DNF (SLNSW)

‘A number of drivers were forced to pull out owing to mechanical trouble. Warwick Pratley, of Peel, one of Bathurst’s hopes, was forced to stop in the fourth lap of the second event- the over 1500cc handicap- after he had held the lead for two laps and looked to possess a chance of winning. Big-end trouble caused his withdrawal.

Norman Tipping, also of Bathurst in a Terraplane Six Special, was driving a most spectacular race, and was actually overhauling the leaders when the gear handle came loose in his hand as he was changing gear in the pit straight. The car pulled up some 100 yards beyond the pits. Tipping was proving a great crowd-pleaser with his spectacular cornering.

Tipping’s car had exceeded all expectations as he had been in difficulty with his engine over the past week or so and there was some doubt as to whether he would start. The final tuning of the locally manufactured Terraplane was not complete until midnight on Sunday night.  However, the car was on the track in time and with his clean, confident driving raised the hopes of Bathurstians each time he passed, being the only local representative left in the race.’

The great Frank Kleinig wearing a kidney belt working, as always, on his steed. This car started life as Wal McIntyre’s Miller 1.5 litre straight-8 engined Kirby Deering Special in 1936- an amalgam of MG Magna chassis, Mathis suspension and gearbox and much more. Fitted with a Hudson straight-8 prior to the 1938 AGP it was then named the Hudson Special or Kleinig Hudson Special, here in single carb format in a formidable machine the development of which never stopped. It’s still extant in Melbourne. Story on Kleinig completed and ready to upload soon (SLNSW)

 

Ron Ewing, Buick Spl. Built by Ewing and first raced at Bathurst in 1940, the clever car was a combination of Buick 8/40 straight-8 engine, Terraplane chassis and Lancia gearbox. Does it survive? (SLNSW)

‘Frank Kleinig, who was driving his own Hudson Eight Special, completed five laps and had to pull up halfway around the track with smoke pouring from his engine. For a moment, it was thought his car was on fire, but the trouble was in the clutch.

Ron Ewing, who was expected to do well in his Buick Special only completed one lap in very poor time and stopped for the same reason as Kleinig. His mechanics had been working vigorously on the car and just made the starting line in time for the start of the big race.

Ron Edgerton had only done four laps when he took his car, a Lycoming Special, powered by a Continental Beacon engine- out of the race with ignition trouble. It had been backfiring for a couple of laps and it was not surprising when his withdrawal was announced.

One of the mystery cars of the race, a monoposto Jeep Special, driven by NJT Andrews, of NSW, did not do as well as expected, and finished in lap five with the engine emitting eruptive noises. Others who did not finish the race included RS Ward’s MG Series TA and W Conoulty’s Austin Comet, both cars were from NSW.’

Bill Conoulty makes final adjustments to his Austin 7 Comet before the off. The ex-motor cycle racer, the first to do 100mph on a bike in NSW it’s said, used this car as a test bed for many of the engines he developed, inclusive of an OHV design. At one stage his Sydney business employed over 40 people (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch and his helpers ready the beautiful Delahaye 135CS sportscar, it’s chassis #47190. The car was famously barbequed in a trailer fire whilst Dick Bland and his guys were towing it back to Bathurst upon their return from the 1951 AGP meeting at Narrogin in Western Australia- it was rebuilt/reconstructed a couple of decades ago by Ian Polson and lives in splendid retirement in an American museum. I must get around to writing about John Crouch- a great driver, racing entrepreneur and administrator (SLNSW)

Results

Support Races

The Under 1500cc Handicap was won by John Barraclough’s Bill Nunn owned MG TB 1250cc, the over 1500cc Handicap was taken by Kleinig’s Hudson Spl who ‘drove with such determination and daring that he had overtaken seven cars and was rapidly overhauling the leaders…during one of the Flying Quarters he was clocked at 108mph…Murray’s Ford Bugatti did one better and clocked 109mph over the same distance’.

Grand Prix

Alf S Najar MG TB Monoposto 1250cc first in 1 hour 33 minutes 19 seconds, Jack P Nind MG TB Spl 1268cc second, Alby V Johnson MG TC 1250cc third, Ted Gray Ford V8 Alfa Romeo 3924cc fourth, J Murray MacKellar Special s/c (Bugatti T37A Ford) 3622cc fifth, Walter I Mathieson Jaguar SS100 2663cc sixth, John F Crouch Delahaye 135CS 3555cc seventh, Chas W Whatmore Ford V8 Spl 3917cc eighth and D ‘Bill’ A MacLachlan MG TA 1355cc. Fastest time, J Murray 1.26.24

Belf Jones, Buick Special from MacLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto- does anybody know about the Buick Spl? (SLNSW)

 

Bill Murray, Hudson Spl, DNF after 23 laps, car prepared by Frank Kleinig, not sure if he built it? Alf Najar is credited with renaming Pit Corner ‘Murrays Corner’ after Bill collided with the hay bales. Came back and won the 1947 AGP here at Bathurst in a stripped MG TC (SLNSW)

Alfred Najar…

Alf Najar arrived in Australia aged 8 years old with his parents and four sisters, the family hailed from Tripoli, Lebanon where his father had established a successful tailoring business.

They settled in Sydney and soon established tailoring and dressmaking enterprises in Kingsford and Auburn, this evolved into a small manufacturing business when Alf joined his parents in 1936. Clearly they were profitable, Alf having the income to build and race a car.

The factory was taken over by the government during the war years to produce clothing for the military.

Apart from his NSW GP win Alf was sixth and second in the 1947 and 1948 AGP’s respectively and was the holder of many sprint and hillclimb records inclusive of the 1946 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Bathurst.

He is also credited with starting the sport of water skiing in Australia together with ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, in 1948 becoming a foundation member of the Australian Water Ski Association. In a lifetime of involvement in sport he was a member of the All Australian Five-Man Skeet Team for 16 years and held Australian and New Zealand titles in clay target shooting.

For many years he ran the family tailoring business including the acquisition of ‘Najar House’ in Campbell Street, Surry Hills- he and his wife retired in 1978 then trading and building property successfully. He died in 2015.

A couple of the Najar girls keeping an eye on big brother (SLNSW)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

AMS December 1946 (S Dalton Collection)

 

(B Williamson)

Cars pictured in the bucolic, rural, relaxed Mount Panorama paddock include #23, a mystery car!, with Hope Bartlett’s #10 MG TA Spl closeby. #31 is WD Feltham, MG P Type, #22 is Jack Nind’s MG TB Spl, the second #23 in the rear of the shot is Bill McLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto.

‘Monoposto Jeep’ or ‘The Andrews Special’…

The Monoposto Jeep Special our intrepid reporter mentioned piqued my interest, and as he often does, my mate Stephen Dalton came to the rescue with this April 1947 AMS article which explains all about the car- it is an attractive machine, does it still exist?

Its a bit tricky to read- I can manage by blowing it up with my trusty iPad, there is a precis of the salient bits below if you have insurmountable dramas.

(S Dalton Collection)

The car was designed and built by Gordon Stewart for Norman Andrews using many Lea Francis components as a base- chassis, front and rear axles and the gearbox.

The racers first meeting was the 1946 Bathurst event in which it was powered by a 2195cc Willys-Jeep engine which was immediately replaced by a circa 3.5 litre Austin OHV six which was modified in all the usual ways and fed by triple-Amal carbs to give over 130bhp. The Leaf gearbox was replaced by a Wilson pre-selector ‘box when the engine was swapped.

Semi elliptic springs were used front and back and Hartford shock absorbers, wheels were Rudge Whitworth wires and the body was formed in steel sheet.

I am intrigued to know how it performed in the ensuing years- and its fate.

(S Dalton Collection)

Credits…

National Advocate Bathurst Tuesday 8 October 1946, State Library of New South Wales, article by Brian Caldersmith in the HSRCA magazine 16 December 2015, Stephen Dalton Collection- Australian Motor Sports, Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece…

(SLNSW)

‘Flaggie’ 1946 Mount Panorama style, complete with suit, bowler hat and fag to calm the nerves…

Isn’t it a cracker of a shot? Somehow I doubt he has the athleticism of Glen Dix, Australia’s most celebrated practitioner of the flag waving art.

Finito…