(B Caldersmith)

Well known in Australia but perhaps less so elsewhere are Ron Tauranac’s pre-Brabham phase Ralts as against the post-Motor Racing Developments ones…

Ron looking young and shy in the first Ralt, the ‘Ralt Special’ above at the King Edward Park hill, Newcastle in 1951. By this stage Ralt 1 was fitted with schmick Ralt wheels and low-pivot trailing arms to better control the swing-axles.

Ron and Austin Lewis Tauranac (RALT) built five racing cars in the 1950s fitted with a variety of engines, two were powered by Norton 500s and one each by Ford 10, Vincent 1000 and Peugeot motors. Sadly, only the latter seems to remain.

‘Series Two’ Ralt. Larry Perkins and Ron with the RT1 Toyota with which Larry won the 1975 European F3 Championship. Monaco GP weekend, where he won the first heat and crashed out of the final. Renzo Zorzi, GRD 374 Lancia won the second heat and the final. The car behind looks like a Modus M1 but I can’t make #117 work (Auto Action Archive)

After that they built another five or so chassis on their jig, which were Vincent 1000 powered, before Jack Brabham made the offer to Ron to join him in the UK as Jack hatched his post-Cooper plans.

Peter Wilkins, who had been working with Ron making chassis, fibreglass bodies, seats, alloy wheels with integral brake drums, steering and suspension gear, bought the stock of parts. He then onsold the Ralt bits – Ron’s version is he sold them direct – to John Bruderlin and Leon Thomas, whose Concord, Sydney, Lynx Engineering business specialised in building hot MGs and selling MG parts.

Wilkins joined them as a partner for two highly productive years making what John Blanden described in his book as Ralt Derivatives; three Vincent engined cars and various Lynx Peugeot, Borgward, Ford and BMC powered FJ/single-seaters until Wilkins joined Tauranac in the UK to assist in the construction of the first Brabhams at Motor Racing Developments. These cars are covered later in the article under the Ralt Derivatives heading.

The descriptions of the cars are those used in Ron’s biography, ‘Brabham Ralt Honda : The Ron Tauranac Story’ written by Mike Lawrence, but I have used Ralt 1, 2 etc for brevity. There is no shortage of photos of the cars on the internet but most don’t have captions, if you can help with the who, where and when please email me on mark@bisset.com.au and I will update the piece.

In the beginning…

Tauranac was born in Gillingham, Kent in 1925 and emigrated to Australia with his folks in 1928. Austin was born in 1929 by which time the family lived in Fassifern, Newcastle. When of working age Ron joined the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation as a junior draftsman in 1939, continuing his technical studies. Despite being in a protected occupation he joined the RAAF in 1943 and trained as a pilot but missed out on combat with the end of the conflict, he was a Flight Sergeant when he returned to Civvy Street.

A very youthful Ron aboard Ralt 1, probably near the Bondi garage/workshop in 1949 (B Caldersmith)

Garry Simkin, historian, air-cooled expert and el-supremo of the superb loosefillings.com – from which a chunk of this article was drawn, together with the relevant section of Blanden’s bible which was written by Doug Grant and Mike Lawrence’s biography on Ron – writes that legend has it Ron was driving through Marsden Park when cars were racing on the ex-RAAF landing strip there, and his appetite for racing was whetted that day. Simkin debunks the theory, but one way or the other Ron and Austin, by then a motor mechanic, were soon reading all they could about the fledgling 500cc Movement in the UK. The 500cc Car Club of NSW was formed in April 1947, the brothers were soon hatching plans of their own aided by the knowledge gained in buying/improving/selling an Austin 7, Lea Francis and a Morris Minor. Suss and and carefully search Loose Fillings here; https://loosefillings.com/

Ron drew the Ralt Special – as he called it in Lawrence’s book – Ralt 1 in 1947 but there was then a two year gestation period until it was rolled out of a rented garage in Blair Street, Bondi, closeby to the family flat. Powered by a Norton ES2 500cc engine, the car was a typical 1940s 500 with 19-inch wire wheels, tubular steel ladder-frame chassis, wishbone-leaf spring front suspension and swing-axle rear with an engine/gearbox from a road-going motorcycle.

Ralt 1 at Marsden Park, Peter Finlay suspects, an RAAF emergency airfield at Berkshire Park, west of Sydney. This shot and the one below are circa-1950 with the 19-inch wires and original rear suspension fitted (B Caldersmith)
(B Caldersmith)

Despite lacking shock absorbers, money was tight, Ron entered a hillclimb at Hawkesbury on November 20, 1950. “On his first run, the Ralt, which had already given him a few frights in the first corners, ran wide, hit a drainage gully and flipped. Ron was thrown out and taken to hospital to be stitched together,” wrote his biographer, Mike Lawrence.

When RT recovered from the crash, he repaired the car, fitted shocks, stiffened the rear suspension and then took it back to Hawkesbury. After some impressive practice times, he set off on his first timed run and again crashed, this time one of the back wheels tucked under and the car flipped, Ron was unhurt despite cuts and abrasions. A shackle on the rear spring had broken and caused the wheel to fold over, the problem was that the spring was the main locating medium.

Ron was learning valuable lessons on-the-hop and back to the drawing board he went. He devised long-arm, low-pivot swing axles, adding universal joints and was able to lower the roll-centre of his car by six-inches. Then it returned to competition in 1950 and was raced consistently, notable early performances included a 58.13 seconds Newcastle hillclimb time, an Australian quarter-mile class record of 16.3 seconds, and an appearance at the Easter Bathurst meeting in 1951 when Ron drove. By then the car also had Ralt cast-alloy wheels, Ralt 2 – the ‘Ralt 1100’ – also contested this meeting.

Merv Ward’s Ralt leads the Day Special (Bugatti T39 Ford V8 Spl) at Mount Druitt (B Caldersmith)
(B Caldersmith)

Ralt 1 then raced with continuous engine development at Foleys Hill, Newcastle and Parramatta Park among other venues. It was during this period that Ron met Jack Brabham and started to use him for his CSR Chemicals, his employers, machining work. The car was then sold to Merv Ward and Bernie Short, both of whom raced it in 1955 with much success using both ES2 and Norton overhead camshaft engines until Easter 1957 when the ES2 engine blew at Bathurst and the car crashed.

Sold in 1957 to Bert Bartrop, then to Reg Mulligan, on to Leaton Motors and Bert Lambkin, he crashed into a pole at Orange in 1960 during his first race. Taken to motorcycle expert Cec Platt for repair, parts of the car were used in building TQ midgets, the rest, apart from the two wheel-centres, was disposed off at the local tip after Platt’s death.

Austin Tauranac aboard the Ralt 1100, Bathurst, Easter 1951 (D Grant)

The Ralt 1100 (Ralt 2) appeared from the Bondi garage in 1949 fitted with a Ford 10 E93A engine, Standard 10 gearbox mounted mid-car fitted to a ladder-frame chassis, a Morris 8/40 rear end completing the key mechanicals. These components were clad in a sleek two-seater aluminium body, registered NSW KJ.989 and was raced by Austin at Leura, Mt Druitt, Foleys and Bathurst through to 1951.

Featured in the April 1951 issue of Australian Motor Sports, the car was sold to Lane Cove’s Austin Sudden in 1952 after Tauranac’s marriage, his wife to be wasn’t keen on his racing. Sudden used it on the road before selling it, passing through a couple of pairs of hands – Doug Grant chanced upon a photograph of the car below in a South Brisbane car yard circa-1959 – it was badly damaged in a 1969 car accident in Queensland and assumed scrapped.

(D Willis)

Ron Tauranac in the Jack Hooper car modified by he and Austin, then raced by Austin as the ‘Norton Special’ at King Edward Park hillclimb, Newcastle in 1951. Dick Willis tells us “It took FTD with a mere 500 Norton engine ahead of many more fancied runners including Sir Jack with the Cooper Bristol.”

Originally built by the Hooper brother, operators of the Hooper & Napier Motorcycles business in Sydney, Austin bought it and the brothers comprehensively rebuilt it inclusive of a new chassis. The Ralt MkIII (Ralt 3) took nine months to build in the Austin Service Station, East Circular Quay ‘on’ Sydney Harbour.

Austin debuted it at Mount Druitt in 1953 then raced very successfully for two years, he placed third at the Bathurst Easter 1955 meeting in an event also contested by Merv Ward in Ralt 1. Sold to a Broken Hill enthusiast who raced it at Port Wakefield in October 1956, no further details of the car’s whereabouts are known.

(B Gunther)

Byron Gunther wrote on the reverse of his photograph above, “A Tauranac, Norton 500. Very consistent all day (what day and where tho Byron??), this is the ex-Hooper 500, the first really good 500 built in this country.” Interesting to get this in-period perspective from an expert on the scene.

Ralt 1 at left with the Hooper originated Norton Special (Ralt 3) – by then fitted with Ralt alloy wheels on the front – at Mount Druitt (B Caldersmith)
(B Caldersmith)

Austin and Ray Tauranac with the Ralt MkIV (Ralt 4) in build. This car, which used a four-tube chassis had no similarity to the earlier cars. Its front suspension used Austin A30 wishbones and uprights and Tauranac’s twist on De Dion rear suspension. The wheels and rack and pinion steering were also RT built. The much more sophisticated car was fitted with a Vincent Black Lightning 998cc engine and was also built at Circular Quay.

First raced in 1957 by Ron, it was driven by Jack Brabham at Mount Druitt on a trip home that year. Ron sold it to Noel Hall of Woolgoolga in 1958, he raced it in both the Easter and October 1958 Bathurst meetings before selling it to John Hough in mid-1959.

Noel Hall, Ralt 4 Vincent, Lowood 1959 (D Willis)
(R Hough)

John Hough in the Ralt 4 Vincent on the family farm at Woodford Island in 1958 or 1959. Later traded to Reg Mulligan for the ex-Moss-Davison HWM Jaguar, it was crashed by Richard Compton at Catalina Park in 1962 then left in Lehane’s workshop in Auburn, Sydney, before being sold in damaged condition and disappearing without trace.

(B Caldersmith)
(D Grant)

Reg Mulligan in Ralt 4 Vincent on pole of a four-lapper during Catalina Park’s opening meeting, February 12, 1961. Bob Maine and Vincent guru, Alan Burdis are awaiting the push-start.

Barry Garner is in the Nota Major alongside, and #37 D Russell’s MG TC Spl, #68 is Peter Wherrett’s Cooper Mk4 Hillman Minx and #31 the Toby Hines’ Ralt 498cc.

(D Grant)

The Ralt 5 – Ralt MkV – was a front-engined single-seater for Austin which was simultaneously with Ralt 4. With a spaceframe chassis and similar suspension to the Ralt 4, the car was sold incomplete when Austin retired from racing, what hat became of this car, nothing is known?

Having referenced John Bruderlin and Leo Thomas’ Lynx Engineering business, here is the Bruderlin/Thomas cigar-bodied MG TC Spl of Max Williams at Lowood in 1958 (G Smith Collection)

Ralt Derivatives…

The list of the cars built with Tauranac designed chassis, sold to Peter Wilkins and then Lynx Engineering follows. lt’s a precis of the Doug Grant/John Blanden material in Blanden’s ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, which is included for completeness, it’s not a treatise on the history of each car.

Ralt Vincent 1959

Bought by Tony Hindes in 1959-60 and used with both V-twin and 500cc engines, sold to Todd Hamilton in 1962-63 and still with him in 2004.

(K Starkey)

The shot of Todd above is on the Amaroo Park hill in 1968, the one below at an historic meeting in more recent times.

(D Willis)

Triumph Thunderbird

Jack Myers (see this piece; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/10/stirling-moss-cumberland-park-speedway-sydney-cooper-t20-wm-holden-1956/ ) fitted two-supercharged Triumph engines to create this car as a successor to a Cooper Mk4 which had been fitted with the same motors.

Ray Walmsley, Alfa Romeo P3 Chev up front, with Jack Myers’ #3 Triumph Thunderbolt, Barry Collerson, Talbot Lago T26C #15, #41 Frank Walters, SoCal and Gordon Stewart, Stewart MG at the start of a Catalina Park race during the opening meeting in 1961

He raced the Thunderbird at Easter Bathurst in 1961 and took part in hillclimbs throughout Australia, but tragically died in it after being thrown from it, at Catalina Park, Katoomba in January 1962.

The photo above shows Jack – wearing his usual T-shirt with hoops – in car #3 at the start of a Catalina race in 1961, while the post-accident one below is shown to provide an idea of the engine packaging challenges.

(P Goulding)
(D Willis)

As the post-Catalina shot shows, the damage to the car does not appear significant. Sold by the Myers family, here the car is in the hands of Jim Reuter at Lowood in 1964.

Jennings Vincent

Built and owned by George Jennings in Victoria, whereabouts unknown.

Lynx Vincent chassis 101

Built for Narrandera racer Les Trim in 1960, 998 Vincent. Sold in 1964 with the parts going into a sportscar project in Queensland.

Lynx Vincent chassis 102

John Marston raced it in Victoria and New South Wales fitted with a supercharged engine often as a Bruderlin & Thomas works entry. Through many hands, extant, and partially restored, albeit less engine, the car survives and was authenticated by RT.


Lynx chassis 103

Built in 1961, through the hands of five drivers until the caring, skillful Dick Willis bought it in 2004.

Lynx chassis 104-109

Generally Ford and BMC powered FJs. Below is Kevin Bartlett’s Lynx BMC, chassis #105, at Lakeside in May 1962.

(B Miles)
(B Thomas)

The same car at Lakeside a little earlier, November 11, 1961. KB’s #105 having its gizzards attended to; BMC 1-litre A-series engine with Amals, Renault transaxle.

Lynx chassis 110-116

The slimline Mark 2 machines were all Ford powered with the exception of the supercharged Peugeot powered machine built for Bob Holden and later raced very successfully by Colin Bond.

Holden’s lovely Lynx Peugeot is shown above Warwick Farm on debut in 1963.


The same car with Colin Bond at the wheel and key team-members in attendance, Bob Riley standing alongside Vicki Allingham with Bob Allingham behind the front wheel. Bond’s performances in this car on the circuits and in the hills, and in rally Mitsubishi Colts resulted in subsequent fame-and-fortune via the Holden Dealer Team.


Ralt 1

(B Caldersmith)

Ralt 1 in very early spec spec with Morris 19-inch wheels.

“I made two fundamental mistakes on that car,” Ron related to Mike Lawrence. “I put the seating position too far forward, and and the other was that I put swinging half-axles at the rear. The seating position gave me the theoretically correct weight distribution but it also made the car much harder to drive because you just didn’t get enough warning when the back end was going to break away.”

The shot above at Foleys Hill on July 13, 1952 shows Ralt 1 with its Ralt alloys and another angle on Ron’s swinging-half axles, and you can just see the end of the trailing arm.

(B Caldersmith)

Ron with hands in pocket and Austin looking towards us, Ralt 1 then with his alloy wheels and trailing arm rear suspension at Foleys Hill, July 13, 1952.

RT told Mike Lawrence, “The homemade engine was based on a Norton ES2 pushrod unit. The cams from a Norton WD side-valve gave me the timing I wanted. Over time, we made a crankcase, fitted a locally made piston which gave a 14:1 compression ratio, and ran it on methanol with an Amal carb. It had a cast-iron flywheel, then I had Jack Brabham machine me a a steel one. We played around with new barrells and eventually enlarged it from 500-600cc, I learned a lot about engines from that.”

(B Caldersmith)

In front of Dick Cobden’s Cooper.

Merv Ward at Gnoo Blas in 1956 (D Grant)
(B Caldersmith)
(B Caldersmith)

Mountain Straight at Bathurst perhaps. Do get in touch if you can help with the missing where, when and whom caption gaps.

(B Caldersmith)

Ralt 4

(R Hough)

Ralt 4 Vincent on its trailer on the Hough family farm.


Brian Caldersmith, Dick Willis, Richard Hough, John Medley, ‘Brabham Ralt Honda: The Ron Tauranac Story’ Mike Lawrence, Kerry Smith in Loosefillings.com, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Bill Miles, Bill Tyrrell, Pat Goulding, Barry Collerson Album, John Ballantyne, Ken Starkey, Brier Thomas


Whatever Ron and Jack were talking about, it wouldn’t have been the past. They were all about the next project, not the last one…


Ferrari 512S Three…

Posted: June 5, 2023 in Sports Racers

Enzo Ferrari and buddies launch their new for 1970 Le Mans contender, the fabulous 5-litre V12 Ferrari 512S to the press at Modena on November 6, 1969.

Bonus points for anyone who can identify the attendees…

My propensity for multiple articles on my favourites is well established practice, but again, rather than write another I’ve added a lot of material to an existing quickie to make it more valuable as an overview to these erotic Italians, however ordinary their race results in 1970-71 under the heel of the Porsche 917-908/3 onslaught were.

Click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/14/ferrari-512s-derek-bell-spa-1000km-1970/


United Press International, Ferrari.com



Hey man, hip-cat, cool and groovy is what pops to mind!

Who said the Bell Corporation was the first to invent the fully enveloping helmet? Spencer Martin in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT11A Climax at Sandown Park during his second on-the-trot Gold Star championship winning 1967 season. More about Spencer here; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

(M Gasking Collection)

Percy Hunter and Vida Jones – aka Mrs JAS Jones – aboard her Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato on the beach at Gerringong, New South Wales south coast in 1930. Click here for a long feature on this oh-so-famous Oz racing car; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/15/mrs-jas-jones-alfa-6c-1750-ss-zagato/

(Keith Anderson Photography)

Only in Australia…

And no, the little Angle-box isn’t blowing off Enzo’s finest, the Andy Buchanan Ferrari 250LM at Caversham during practice for the 1966 6-Hour race.

He wasn’t able to repeat the success of Spencer Martin and David McKay in the same car the year before, failing to finish. Ron Thorp won in his AC Cobra 289. The Brockwell/Mitchell Anglia failed to go the full distance too. More about the 250LM here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

(P Jones)

Graham Withers ‘slingshot’ Ampol GT sponsored dragster/rail at Castlereagh in 1968.

Whether the dude with the death-wish is a crew member sussing just how much air Mr Withers is taking on launch, or perhaps been ingesting tablets of a type not dispensed by suburban pharmacists is an interesting question. Do let me know if you can put all of our minds to rest. Manufacturer of the machine folks?

(B Williamson Collection)

Ron Hodgson’s Lotus 11 GT has to be Fugly Car Cup contender.

Here in the Warwick Farm paddock circa 1962. The story of how some lovely sportscars were re-purposed is told in this article about Murray Carter here; Forever Young… | primotipo…

Ken Kavanagh aboard the awesome Moto Guzzi 500 V8 GP machine during the 1956 Senigallia Grand Prix.

This wild machine made its race debut at the Belgian GP in June 1955, read about Kavanagh’s time with Moto Guzzi in this feature; Moto Guzzi… | primotipo…

(Moto Guzzi)


Dave Walker and Tim Schenken during the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix weekend at Zandvoort.

Walker started the Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney 4-WD from grid 22 and was looking good for a while in the very soggy conditions but like so much of the grid, missed his braking point – in a car in which he hadn’t done a huge number of laps – and ran off the track after completing only five laps. Quickie on DW here; https://primotipo.com/2022/01/05/walkin-on-water/

Tim Schenken’s Brabham BT33 Ford was a more competitive mount. In its second year – Brabham won the South African GP in one in 1970, and should have won two or three more – it was still competitive in the young Melburnian’s hands, third place at the Osterreichring was his best result of the year.

At Zandvoort he started from grid 19 but DNF with suspension failure in the race won by Regenmeister Jacky Ickx’ Ferrari 312B2. Short piece on Tim here; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/02/tim-schenken/


(Reg Hunt Collection)

Reg Hunt dreaming about future conquests on one of his parents Nortons, aged nine, in the early 1930s in the UK, and living the dream at Albert Park in 1956 aboard his Maserati 250F below.

He and his A6GCM and 250F were Australia’s fastest combinations in 1955-56, then he retired early to focus on his family and motor dealerships, amassing a fortune. See more about Reg here; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/12/hunts-gp-maser-a6gcm-2038/

(Reg Hunt Collection)
(P Miller)

Bob Jane relaxes on his Jaguar E-Type Lwt during the Australian Tourist Trophy meeting at Lakeside over the November 14, 1965 weekend.

This is a heat or support race, Bob was fourth in the ATT, while Ron Thorp – it’s his AC Cobra you can see – didn’t start. Pete Geoghegan won from Greg Cusack and Spencer Martin: Lotus 23B Ford, Lotus 23 Ford and Ferrari 250LM.

The dude in the brown shirt is longtime Bob Jane Racing chief mechanic/team manger John Sawyer, no idea who the driver is, the tiny splash of red is Bill Gates’ Lotus Elan. Jane usually raced this darlin’ of a Jag with its factory hardtop but wasn’t averse to running topless on hot days. Click here for a feature on the car; Perk and Pert… | primotipo…

Piers Courage on the hop during the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Cup round in January 1968.

He had a fabulous Tasman aboard the little F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA, he brought home the bacon by winning the very wet final round at Longford despite giving away plenty of power to the 2.5-litre cars. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/


Giving away a bit of horsepower at old-Sandown, a power track. Piers pitches his McLaren into Peters Corner with the Richard Attwood BRM P126 V12 , and, I think, Kevin Bartlett’s Brabham BT11A Climax behind. This fabulous race had an amazing dice between Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW and Chris Amon’s Ferrari 246T, resolved by a smidge in favour of the Scot. It was his last race, and series win.

(D Simpson)

This is the Queensland Touring Car Championship meeting at Surfers Paradise in August 1969, a round of the Australian Touring Car Championship. Dick Johnson’s EH Holden in front of Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911

Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS327 won – taking the first ever ATCC win for a Holden – with Hamilton second and Jim McKeown third in a Lotus Cortina Mk2.

Dick Simpson recalled a funny moment related to his photo. “A couple of laps after that shot, as the EH was entering Lucas Corner, there was an almighty bang, a massive cloud of blue smoke and black engine oil and a number of red bits of metal pouring out of the engine right on the apex of the corner. The noise stopped and the EH silently trundled on around Repco Hill and disappeared.”

“We had a flag post right beside us and had been chatting with one of the flaggies who was most impressed that we were keen enough, or stupid enough to drive all night from Wollongong. So he said he had to go and clean up the mess and would we like a couple of souvenirs? He brought up a couple of bits of steel, one looked like a huge main-bearing cap and plonked them on top of the fencepost to cool off. About an hour later a young kid who looked a lot like the EH driver came along and demanded his bits back. So we had a quick chat with a young DJ!”

Click here for a piece on the 1969 ATCC; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

Alan Hamilton in the giant killing Porsche 911T/R at Hume Weir in 1969 (unattributed)
(B Forsyth)

Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill in the Warwick Farm pitlane during Saturday practice for the 1969 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Cup round.

Rindt famously drove off into the distance during the incredibly wet race day: https://primotipo.com/2018/01/19/rindt-tasman-random/ and; https://primotipo.com/2022/02/26/lotus-49b-ford-chassis-r8/

(R Steffanoni)

Alan Jones was stunningly quick in Sid Taylor/Teddy Yip Lola T332 Chevs during Australia’s 1977 Rothmans International F5000 Series.

While Warwick Brown won it in his Racing Team VDS Lola T430 Chev, Jones was the series-ace, let down by mechanical dramas and a mistake or two of his own; a jumped start at Oran Park and writing off a car in practice at Surfers Paradise.

(R Steffanoni)

Here at Sandown he grabbed the lead from the start but retired with overheating. He won the fourth, final round at Adelaide International at the start of a year in which he won his first F1 Grand Prix aboard a Shadow DN8 Ford at the Osterreichring (below).


(I Smith)

Amazing Ian Smith pan of Allan Moffat in his legendary Trans-Am Mustang at Oran Park during the final round of the Australian Touring Car Championship on August 8, 1972.

Steve Snuggs tells us that he was wearing an oxygen mask in protest to CAMS not allowing him to remove the car’s carpets which smouldered from the hot exhausts and gave off fumes.

Moffat lost a nail-biter of a race, and the title, to Bob Jane’s Chev Camaro ZL1. More about Moffat’s cars here; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/

(G Fluke Collection)

Incredibly rare colour shot of Pedro Rodriguez’ works-BRM P261 2.1-litre V8 during the 1968 Longford Trophy.

He is on the rise having exited the Newry right-hander in second or third gear – that line of poplars and road is still there – before an open left-kink then onto The Flying Mile.

Pedro nicked second-place from Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa in the final lap but fell well short of Piers Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car in demanding wet conditions. More about BRM in the Antipodes here; https://primotipo.com/2020/02/22/1966-australian-grand-prix-lakeside/

(I Smith)

The great Ian Smith is sharing his back-catalogue of photographs in great dollops via Facebook. I enjoyed this series of shots taken in Reservoir, suburban Melbourne during a compare and contrast Wheels road-test between the then new Holden Kingswood HQ, and the original 1948 Holden 48-215 circa 1972.

(I Smith)

The reason for the strange location is probably because Campbells Motors Holden were in High Street, Preston and they didn’t want their luvverly old-Humpy being taken too far from ‘home’. See here for a piece on the 48-215; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/06/general-motors-holden-formative/ The locale is Edwards Park Lake, Reservoir.

(I Smith)

The giant-killing Colin Bond/Brian Hope, fourth place overall Mitsubishi Colt 1000F at the end of the 1967 Southern Cross Rally at Port Macquarie.

It was the very start of the Japanese company’s international rallying programme, see here; https://primotipo.com/2023/05/28/mitsubishi-competition-formative-days/

(IC Walker Collection)

The Charlie Dean-Repco Research built Repco Record at Mallala during the AGP meeting in 1961. It was the Clerk of the Course’ car no less.

The Repco-Holden engined research machine is looking fairly well used at this point, but it did have to sing for its supper testing all manner of Repco group subsidiaries components! See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/26/repco-record-car-and-repco-hi-power-head/


Michael Gasking Collection, Keith Anderson Photography, Bob Williamson Collection, oldracephotos.com-Dick Simpson, Moto Guzzi, Reg Hunt Collection via David Zeunert, Peter Jones, Peter Miller, Rod Steffanoni, Bill Forsyth, Ian Smith, IC Walker Collection via Russell Garth



Dick Simpson’s artistry catches Niel Allen on the hop in Garrie Cooper’s first monocoque sportscar, the Elfin ME5 Chev on the entry to Homestead corner at Warwick Farm in 1969. It was a twitchy beast of a thing with its short-wheelbase, arguably, only Niel got the best out of it in the short time he owned it before buying a McLaren M10B Chev F5000.


(I Curwen-Walker)

Social media just keeps giving and giving. This time enthusiast Russell Garth has posted some great ’56 AGP colour shots taken by the late Ian Curwen-Walker at Albert Park on Bob Williamson’s Old Motor Racing Photographs Australia Facebook page.

Sometimes I’ve got so many different articles on the same topic I’m confusing myself – not that is difficult to do I might add – so rather than start another ’56 AGP piece I’ve added the shots to this existing article; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp-albert-park/

The photograph above is Paul England’s Ausca Holden-Repco which contested the 25 November, 34 lap, 100 mile Australian Tourist Trophy. He was 12th outright and second in class, in the car he and Bill Hickey built after hours at Repco Research’ Sydney Road, Brunswick premises on the other side of town. The flash of blue to the right is the Norman Hamilton owned Porsche 550 Spyder driven that weekend by Otto Stone, lasting only one lap. Otto would have been a busy boy that fortnight, looking after Stan Jones’ 250F, or was he preparing it at that early stage?

Tony Johns tells me the “bloke (with his back to us) in the white overalls with the fag is Norman Hamilton,” who created the Porsche Cars Australia empire in Australia, famously the first Porsche importer/dealer outside Europe.


Ian Curwen-Walker via Russell Garth


Mitsubishi Colt F2B (Akira Yokoyama)

The Japanese zaibatsu (conglomerates) were exhorted by their government to build and export cars post-war after the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Mitsubishi Corporation was happy to oblige their political masters.

The enormous transnational had a dalliance with automobiles in the early twentieth century, but they got serious with the Mitsubishi 500 – a design which drew on their wartime aircraft manufacture – which was mass-produced with the vision of becoming a ‘national car’ in 1959.

(Tetsuaki Makita)

The lure of competition was great so the company contested the 1962 Macau Grand Prix to showcase their engineering capabilities, the little cars finished 1-2-3-4 in a support race, taking the under 750cc class.

The company raised the bar when they developed a 90bhp competition variant (cam, carbs, head/valve modifications) of the 1-litre R28 engine which was fitted into the first of a number of Brabham/Brabham copy chassis, the first car was called the 1966 Colt F3A.

In the 1960s the Japanese Grand Prix was held for Group 7 sportscars, some of which were built by local giants such as Prince/Nissan and Toyota. At the same Mount Fuji circuit meetings there were support events for other categories, including single-seaters – the blue riband of these was the J.A.F. (Japan Auto Federation) Japanese GPs – it was on these races that Mitsubishi focussed. In later decades Mitsubishi’s competition history was celebrated with a series of calendars and posters which are the subject of this article.

Ken Yamamoto’s painting depicts the Osamu Mochizuki-Osamu Masuko one-two battle aboard 1.6-litre pushrod R46 circa-160bhp engined Colt F2As in the 1967 JAF Japanese GP

The company led in domestic single-seater racing, while Honda took on the world in F1 competition. Drivers such as Osamu Mochizuki, Tetsu Ikuzawa – the very first on the Japanese internationals who competed in F3 and F2 in Europe – Osamu Masuko, Kuniomi Nagamatsu and others competed against European and Australasian drivers, proving their ability at international level.

Single-seater engine developments spilled over into a rally program which commenced in Japan in 1965, but kicked up a couple of gears when Mitsubishi decided to enter Australia’s Southern Cross Rally off the back of a gruelling testing program to ensure the suitability of the Colt 800 (first launched in November 1965) for the country’s tough roads and vast climatic extremes.

Australian rally-driver, Doug Stewart – later appointed a Director of Ralliart along with Andrew Cowan – conducted the ‘destruction-testing’ of two cars in the outback/alps and was so impressed he convinced Mitsubishi to rally the Colts in the Australian Rally Championship (from 1968) competition. Colin Bond, later Australian Rally/Touring Car Champion, also drove and helped prepare the cars.

Colt 1000F depicted during the October 1967 Southern Cross Rally. Colin Bond/Brian Hope fourth placed car (Akira Yokoyama)

Mitsubishi’s website records that, “Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Automotive Division considered his (Stewart’s) advice and concluded that rally participation would effectively promote road car sales and raise brand awareness.”

“They decided to contest the 1967 Southern Cross Rally with two Colt 1000Fs, pitting themselves against vehicles with much larger engines using high reliability and durability as their main assets. Colin Bond was fourth outright, also winning the small engine capacity class, while Stewart finished third in class. The foundations for what is referred to as ‘Mitsubishi Motors in Rallying’ were laid at that time.”

“1985 calendar illustration starting with the Mitsubishi 500 in 1962, Colt 1000, Colt F2, Colt F2000 – the 1971 Japanese GP winner – the Starion” (Dennis Brown)

Mitsubishi’s R39 1.6-litre (from 1968) and R39B 2-litre (1971) twin-cam, four-valve, fuel injected race engines won the 1971 Japanese Grand Prix in Colt F2000 chassis when Kuniomi Nagamatsu triumphed over Osamu Masuko in a great Colt F2D (F2000) 1-2 in an international field of depth.

Just as it seemed the company was poised as a possible engine supplier in the new 2-litre European F2 Championship which commenced in 1972, the company turned 180-degrees away from single-seaters and the circuits into the forests and deserts where its competition focus has largely remained. From a cost-effective brand-building perspective with production-car spinoffs, it was doubtless the right call.

(Akira Yokoyama)

Mitsubishi’s first international rally win was in the 1973 Southern Cross Rally, the winning crew of the Lancer 1600GSR was Andrew Cowan and navigator John Bryson. The company won two more of the Oz internationals and two Safari Rallies between 1973-77. Their first Safari was one by a privately entered Colt driven by Joginder Singh. Lancer Turbo and Lancer Evolutions programmes followed.

It’s a bummer not to be able to read the detail of these posters found on-line, but I thought them worth sharing all the same.


mit-cardesign-t.com – Dennis Brown, Tetsuaki Makita, Ken Yamamoto, Akira Yokoyama, rally-japan.jp

Another page from the 1985 calendar (Dennis Brown)

In the process of researching this story the only technician I have uncovered as involved in the race and rally programs is a man named Iwao Kimata, “a former Nissan rally driver, who was hired to help Mitsubishi learn about rally racing step by step” according to rally-japan.jp.

If any Japanese readers now the names of the key engineers/technicians/mechanics involved in Mitsubishi’s mid-1960s race and rally programmes, please get in touch with me on mark@bisset.com.au. I am keen to record such folks names and if possible communicate with them.


(B Spurr Collection)

Frank Gardner leads at the start of the Levin International, round two of the 1968 Tasman Series, won by Jim Clark’s works Lotus 49 Ford DFW, on January 13, 1968.

Clark is second, Chris Amon, Ferrari 246T third, then Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P126 and Piers Courage, McLaren M4A Ford FVA at the rear of the lead-bunch.

We have South African photographer, Brian Spurr to thank for these shots. He didn’t take them, but rather scanned them to preserve the deteriorating images given to him by a lady named Tracy Robb, then made them available through his Facebook page – via good friend, Peter Ellenbogen – for us all to enjoy. Brian has no idea who the snapper was, but clearly the man had a good eye. Many thanks to Tracy, Brian and Peter.

(B Spurr Collection)

Frank Bryan’s Mustang from, perhaps, Robert Stewart’s Cooper S at Cabbage Tree Corner during the same meeting.

(B Spurr Collection)

Graham McRae explores the limits in his Brabham BT2 Lotus-Ford 1.5. He failed to finish the 1968 race but three years later triumphed aboard the McLaren M10B Chev he took to the first of three-on-the-trot Tasman Cup victories from 1971-73. See here for an article about the amazing McRae and his cars, including his formative years; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/06/amons-talon-mcraes-gm2/

(B Spurr Collection)

Contretemps between Vince Anderson’s Brabham BT11A Climax and Bill Stone’s #24 Brabham BT6 Lotus-Ford 1.5 in practice. Stone got his car repaired for the race, finishing sixth in the International.

(B Spurr Collection)

Chris Amon on his way to victory at Levin in front of Bruce McLaren’s brand-new, Len Terry designed BRM P126 and Jim Clark. Amon won the 63 lap race from Courage and Jim Palmer in another M4A McLaren.

(B Spurr Collection)

Jim Clark and the lads push Clark’s Lotus 49 #R2 back into the incredibly picturesque Pukekohe paddock during practice. The New Zealand Grand Prix was traditionally the first Tasman round and was usually held at the Auckland circuit, this is/was the January 6 weekend.

Bruce McLaren, BRM P126-02 (B Spurr Collection )

McLaren drove the BRM in the four Kiwi rounds only with his best results fifth at Wigram and a splendid win at Teretonga, then it was back to Colnbrook to ready the new Ford Cosworth DFV powered McLaren M7 and McLaren M8A Chev for F1 and Can-Am competition respectively.

Bruce’s analytical skills kick-started BRM’s development program for their new car, he was familiar with the Type 101 V12 engine, having raced his M5A with it in the latter part of 1967. See here for an article on these cars; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/25/richard-attwood-brm-p126-longford-1968/

What was the Phil Irving line? “One more tube and you could breed from it!” BRM P126 highlighting the Hewland DG300 gearbox and 2.5-litre variant of their 3-litre F1 Type 101 V12 as first fitted to McLaren’s F1 car in 1967 (B Spurr Collection)

The undoubted stars of the show in 1968-69 were the works Lotus and Ferraris, arguably THE YEAR of Tasman competition in terms of variety was 1968.

Repco Brabham V8 engined Brabhams for Jack (in Australia) and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39, BRM V8s and V12s – the P261 and new P126, the V6 Ferrari 246T and of course the Ford DFW V8 in the back of Jim Clark and Graham Hill’s Lotus 49, the 1.6-litre Ford FVA powered Brabham BT23 raced by Denny Hulme and Piers Courage’s McLaren M4A FVA. Not to forget Frank Gardner’s one-off Alec Mildren owned Brabham BT23D powered by a 2.5-litre variant of Alfa Romeo’s sportscar Tipo 33 V8. Plus the 2.5-litre FPF Climaxes, so long the backbone of the series. We never had it so good! Vive Le difference

(B Spurr Collection)

Piers Courage re-launched his career with his performances in this self-run F2 210bhp McLaren M4A Ford FVA. He drove the wheels off it, stayed on the black-stuff and capped a series of speed and consistency off with a famous win in the teeming rain at Longford in the final 1968 race.

Gardner’s Brabham at left, Amon’s Ferrari at right with Clark in the middle (B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collectionj

Les Jones’ Lotus 20B Ford 1.5 (DNS) and the spare BRM P261 raced that weekend by Pedro Rodriguez at the Shell depot in among the Puke trees.

(B Spurr Collection)

This will cause a state of excitement for Lotus historians. Peter Yock’s white Lotus 25 BRM is chassis R3, the machine used by Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor in 1962-63 before being sold to Reg Parnell racing in 1964 and fitted with BRM P56 V8s. Later, as here, R3 was fitted with a 2-litre BRM P60 V8 and sold to Yock.

This link to Allen Brown’s wonderful oldracingcars.com website tells all about the tortuous Lotus 25/33 chassis by chassis history; https://www.oldracingcars.com/lotus/25/ His records show this old-warrior contested 95! races in the hands of Clark, Taylor, Jack Brabham (Monaco 1963), Peter Arundell, Mike Spence, Pedro Rodriguez, Mike Hailwood, Chris Amon, Richard Atwood, Paul Hawkins, Giancarlo Baghetti, Jonathan Williams, Mike Spence, Rob Slotemaker, Piers Courage, Chis Irwin, Peter Yock and Peter Hughes…

Converted to Lotus 33 spec along the way, R3’s best results were wins at the 1962 US GP and Rand GP, and the ’63 Kanonloppet in all cases driven by Clark. Peter Yock’s ’68 Tasman was grim with DNF’s in all four of the Kiwi rounds he contested.

Better shots of the Lotus BRM engine installation – note the Owen Racing Organisation decal between the two front radius rod mounts. Circuit and date unknown (N Tait)
(B Spurr Collection)

Piers Courage and Chris Amon await their MGB ride prior to the off at Pukekohe. Who is the BP driver at right?

(B Spurr Collection)

Clark and Amon above, and the yellow nose of the Mildren Brabham, #2 is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261 Bruce in the other car beyond in the shot below. The Goodyears on Chris’ car are interesting, I thought the Scuderia were contracted to Firestone at the time? Maybe ‘freelancing’ Down South was hunky-dory?

(B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collection)

No works Brabham Repco V8 for the ‘68 Tasman for Denny – ’67 World F1 Championship and all – he was off to McLaren for 1968 so had to run a Brabham BT23 Ford FVA F2 to keep the fans at home and in Australian happy.

In fact he used two cars that summer. BT23-5 is shown above on the Pukekohe grid. In a very dodgy accident on lap – the blame for which was attributed to Hulme, albeit it was ‘hushed up’ at the time – Denny took Laurence Brownlie’s Brabham off the road, frustrated with his failure, as he saw it, to get out of the way, injuring him very badly and effectively ending the promising Kiwi’s career.

BT23-5, the Winkelmann Racing chassis with which Jochen Rindt won so many races in 1967, was rooted. Sold to Feo Stanton and Alec Mildren, Bob Britton made a BT23 jig with it then set it aside in his Rennmax Engineering workshop. 50 years later it’s alive and well in Europe.

BT23-2 was then shipped to New Zealand, a works car raced by Brabham and Frank Gardner in 1967. His bests in that was third place at Wigram and fifth at Warwick Farm.

(B Sergent Collection)

Clark contemplating loading-up while the shape of BRM Team Manager, Tim Parnell is to the right, a burger-boy of the nicest kind it seems.


Parnell, a few moments later is amongst his lads, Bruce with his back to us is about to jump aboard his P126 while Rodriguez – centre shot – is about to board his V8 P261. Pedro was much keener to race this very well-sorted old-tool that summer, rather than the car he should have been focusing on, his V12 mount for the upcoming F1 season!

(B Spurr Collection)

The off, with someone shitting-himself mid-grid. It is not a good feeling…and what a unique Pukekohe view too. Frank Gardner is on the outside of the front row we can see, Brabham BT23D Alfa, with Jim Clark, Chris Amon and Pedro Rodriguez obscured to FG’s right.


Amon has the jump with Clark right up his clacker. Gardner’s #7 Brabham Alfa is outside, then Pedro’s P261 with Bruce’s V12 on the inside and Denny’s four-cylinder Brabham #3 on the outside.

Amon Pukekohe (B Spurr Collection)

Chris Amon drove a great race to win his national Grand Prix from Frank Gardner, the Aussie was the only other driver to complete the full race distance of 58 laps. Piers Courage was third, Jim Palmer fourth in his McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Australian, Paul Bolton fifth in the Rorstan Racing Brabham BT22 Climax.

Jim Clark had engine failure after 44 laps, while Pedro Rodriguez’ old faithful BRM P261 V8 lasted only 28 laps until clutch failure, while Bruce McLaren’s P126 V12 was hors de combat with clutch failure after completing only 14 laps. More on the race here; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/21/amons-tasman-dino/

(B Spurr Collection)

Winners are grinners! ‘Sir Christopher’ Amon, Pukekohe 1968. Other dudes folks?


(B Spurr Collection)

I love the look of this Pukekohe paddock, the death sentence has just been made on this place, Denny.

(B Spurr Collection)

David McKay’s – to the right of the car touching his chin – Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM was racing-royalty in this part of the world, competition Ferraris being very thin on the ground. Click here for an article about the car;

Here the machine is sharing the grid with another legendary car, the Lycoming Special – in which Jim Clark did some laps one year – with Jim Boyd at the wheel, the flash of red at right is the Stanton Corvette raced by Geoff Mardon.

The shot below is of the same three cars at Levin the week after Pukekohe at Cabbage Tree corner.

(B Spurr Collection)
Pukekohe paddock (B Spurr Collection)
(B Spurr Collection)

Together with Scuderia Veloce and Frank Matich Racing, Alec Mildren Racing was the only other fully-professional racing outfit in Australia at the time. See here; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/14/alec-mildren-racing/ and here on the BT23D;

Gardner finished equal fourth in the Tasman title chase, with Graham Hill, his best results were second place at Pukekohe, third at Teretonga and Longford, and fourth at Sandown, the AGP.

While the car fell short in international competition, Kevin Bartlett took BT23D over when FG returned to Europe and won the 1968 Australian Drivers Championship, the Gold Star, in it in 1968 before contesting the Australian 1969 Tasman rounds. After a chequered history, BT23D-1 is still with us.

(B Spurr Collection)

Andy Buchanan’s Elfin 400 Chev, looking superb as it did in the day, and now does! A Kiwi mate sent an image of this car very recently, the restoration is now nearly complete albeit the car is not yet running.

(B Spurr Collection)

He’s a bit anally retentive as a sculptor, but let’s give him points for creativity anyway. Those are called long-necks or depth-charges in this part of the world, unlike the little poofhouse things we mainly drink from today.

(B Spurr Collection)

Clark’s 49 R2 alongside Laurence Brownlie’s Brabham BT18/23 Lotus-Ford 1.5. Brownlie’s car – the quickest of the Kiwi 1.5s that year – was destroyed in the terrible accident with Denny Hulme mentioned earlier. More on the ’68 Tasman cars here; https://primotipo.com/2021/03/06/1968-australian-gp-sandown-2/

(B Spurr Collection)

Bruce labours on BRM P126-02, giving us another look at the DG300 Hewland – rather than one of Bourne’s own ‘trannies – and Len Terry’s signature twin-parallel-link lower rear suspension, which soon thereafter became the ‘industry standard’.

Note the local work-boots, typical attire on both sides of The Ditch (Tasman Straight). OH&S, WTF is that?

(B Spurr Collection)

Rod Coppins in Pete Geoghegan’s first Ford Mustang, ain’t she sweet.

BRM P60 V8 in the back of Peter Yock’s Lotus 25/33 (N Tait)

BRM maintenance on a shoestring.

I love this explanation by Warner Collins, one of Peter Yock’s mechanics, about repairs to the BRM V8 to keep his driver in the field. It appeared on the Old New Zealand Motor Racing Facebook page.

“The engined no compression in one front cylinder. BRM were stationed at Croydon Motors, so I went and spoke to Tim Parnell who pointed out boxes of V12 and V8 spares, nothing suited. Of course this was Wednesday/Thursday before Wigram so I told Peter Yock it couldn’t be fixed. He then went and barrelled Tim, who said they had no spares for the obsolete engine.”

“Peter said we had to try, so my brain kicked into gear, we got the car onto its side, got the sump off – there was no way the head was coming off without gaskets, 50,000 gears and no manual – so another thinking session. I managed to get the piston and rod out the bottom, the two-ring piston had a broken compression ring. After all day I managed to find a motorbike sized one, the .20th gap was a bit large but in it went. Getting it back in was a mission, I had to get around the crank and compress the rings without breaking them, and bolted the thing up, even having to make a sump gasket.”

“The BRM guys came over and said, ‘You must be joking!’ They would’ve sent the engine back to BRM. It was ok, not 100%, at least it was on 8-cylinders, well that is my story! I think Peter got tucked up a bit, a Lotus with a cobbled up, well-used V8. Peter wanted me to do the rest of the series, but it was not for me, you can’t run a car like that without spares.”

Peter Yock responded to Warner and Gary Sprague, “Well, you are both right. I probably did get tucked up, but for 3000 pounds it wasn’t overly expensive. After the Timaru meeting we went into Ernie Sprague’s garage and completely reset the ride height and suspension and the following week at Ruapuna we blew the opposition away, different handling car altogether.”

“I don’t know if you guys are aware, but the car ended up in Dawson-Damer’s collection in Sydney, after he was killed at Goodwood it was sold at auction for 1.2million. Mind you, it had to be completely restored to to the Jim Clark winning 25 with Climax engine.”


Brian Spurr Collection, Bruce Sergent Collection, Naomi Tait, oldracingcars.com


Amon’s Ferrari 246T, Pukekohe (B Spurr Collection)

‘cor, dunnit look utterly lovely! Amon’s long-time mechanic, Bruce Wilson has lovingly, carefully, skilfully built up 246T/68 #004 for his longtime friend. They won two rounds in 1968 – Pukekohe and Levin – but returned the following year and went all the way; two cars for Chris and Derek Bell with logistics taken care of by Scuderia Veloce.

2.4-litre V6 is a three-valver here, the four-valve units mainly used in Australia gave very little away to anything else, Amon missed winning the Australian Grand Prix at Sandown so equipped, by only one-hundredth of a second to Clark’s flying Lotus 49 V8.

As you all know, that ’68 Tasman was Jim’s last championship win.


A bevi-at-the-Kevi comin’ up (M Bisset)

Designer Louis Coatalen’s obsession with engineering excellence fused into race successes which built Sunbeam’s brand.

1564 Sunbeam 20/60s were built, only 45 or-so of these superb 3.2-litre, straight-six touring machines still exist. Richard Stanley’s chassis 1640D was one of a tiny number exported by the Wolverhampton firm to New Zealand.

Bob King and Richard Stanley bowling along at a comfy 90-100km/h, Howqua Inlet at right (M Bisset)
Mangaweka paddock basher with redemption, fortunately, not too far away (R Stanley Collection)

It looked like it was going to be one of the fatalities too. Late in life it became a paddock-bomb which was thrashed to within an inch of its life on the Mangaweka, North Island farm where Stanley rescued it from under a fruit tree in 1970.

“A mate tipped me off, for the princely sum of $20 I bought the Sunbeam radiator, engine, gearbox, front axle, a rear Ford axle and the chassis to which all of the above was attached, albeit brutally shortened by four-feet. It was as ugly-as-sin but most of the critical bones were there.”

Handsome beast with great on-road presence (M Bisset)
Water pump into generator into magneto…neat. 3.2-litre, OHV two-valve six (M Bisset)

“It was a big job, but I had the skills to rebuild the chassis, make a body, and sub-out the mechanicals I couldn’t do, in my Auckland ‘shop.”

“I did a deal with my Australian wife-to-be that I’d finish the car before emigrating to Australia, the completed car was going to be my calling card, or rolling CV to establish a business in Australia.”

Within five years of establishing Richard Stanley Coachcraft in Melbourne, the business became one of Australia’s go-too body builders. His work included a half-dozen GP Bugattis, various of Ettore’s touring cars, an uber-rare Grand Prix Talbot Darracq 700, Delage D8 and CO2, Hispano Suiza and many others.

Stanley’s profile was raised via his racing exploits, initially in an Austin 7 Spl, then a self-constructed, supercharged 200bhp Amilcar AC. This pre-war combination became the quickest in Australia for a decade or so; the car ultimately found its way to the UK.

Richard Stanley, Amilcar AC, from Duncan Ricketts in Bill Morris’ ERA, Mal Reid in Monoskate Ford V8, David Reid in the red Reid Ford Spl, then Keith Harvey in another Ford Spl. Wakefield Park, date folks? “I beat him off the line, he had pole, held him all the way around till the main straight, then 50 years of fine tuning took over! I was the first Vintage Car though!” Richard recalls (HSRCA)
Jamieson with Eildon below M Bisset)

Stanley’s competition pedigree shows in his finessed, simpatico with the car. Despite the long period of ownership, Stanley is still in lust with it, last year he and wife Judy – this discerning lady is a 3-litre Sunbeam owner – headed for the Queensland sun during Victoria’s, long, dreary, foggy winter. Lancefield to Rockhampton is a lazy 1900km each way but the big beast comfortably did each leg in four days with plenty of tourism side-bars on top. In fine-fettle these cars are mighty-good tourers even on Australia’s notoriously average country B-roads.

(M Bisset)

Maestro Stanley at rest, a talented and capable pair of hands to say the least.


(M Bisset)

Many thanks to Bob King and Richard Stanley for allowing me to join them on their Boy’s Own Annual Tour. The route, mighty fine driving in Victoria’s sub-alpine high country, was Lancefield, Kilmore, Broadford, Glenburn – Alan Jones lived in the area and owned the Glenburn Hotel for a while after he first quit F1 at the end of 1981 – Yea, Yarck, Bonnie Doon, Mansfield, Howqua, Jamieson and Kevington for the night. Then Kevington, Jamieson, Eildon, Snobs Creek, Acheron, Alexandra, Yea, Broadford and back to Lancefield.

(M Bisset)

Four speed manual shift is to the right of, and obscured by the steering column. Extremely comfortable and built for long days in the saddle.

(M Bisset)

Standard ware is a single Claudel-Hobson carburettor, two SUs were fitted to give a bit more grunt, with bespoke manifold a-la-Stanley during the rebuild.

(M Bisset)

Rotax lambs, above and below.

(M Bisset)
(M Bisset)


Happy snaps Mark Bisset


(M Bisset)


(Draper Family Collection)

One upon a time Grand Prix drivers weren’t paid fees that make the GDPs of third world countries look small.

I guess that over 20 Grands Prix and the associated test and race-simulation loads keep them busy, the rest of the time is devoted to the body-beautiful, PR and the needs of the girl/boyfriend.

At the dawn of the space-age, wily Jack Brabham worked all the angles to optimise his earnings, short and perilous as it was in the days when drivers died in the cockpit as a matter of routine.

John Cooper paid him a retainer and a percentage of his winnings. He ghosted magazine articles, had a motor garage and dealership or three, drove cars for others and owned and entered cars for himself and others. That’s how he found himself in the New South Wales/Victorian border-town of Albury, on the Murray River, for the Craven-A International at the small, new, Hume Weir circuit over the March 12/13 1961 weekend.

(Draper Family Collection)
(G Garth)

That summer he’d brought a Cooper T53 Climax (chassis F2-8-60) and Cooper T51 Climax (F2-5-57 or F2-7-59) home to do the Kiwi and Australian Internationals.

He did pretty well too, winning the New Zealand Grand Prix on the Ardmore aerodrome and the Lady Wigram Trophy on the RNZAF base of the same name in the T53. Ron Flockhart that car on pole at Ballarat, and finished third, while Ron’s best with the Cooper T51 was fourth at Ardmore and fifth in the Warwick Farm 100 where Stirling Moss won the first international held on the great Sydney track aboard Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax.

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori – who had raced a Reg Parnell Lotus 18 in New Zealand that summer – took the wheel of the Cooper T51 in Tasmania, winning the Longford Trophy (above) but his weekend wasn’t so successful in Albury where he was fourth in the Saturday 20-lapper, and failed to finish the equally hot Sunday race. Brabham won both races in the T53 in skinny six/seven car grids.

Our Jack dragged in he crowds, doubtless Craven A sold a few cancer-sticks, so everybody went home happy. Brabham always flogged the cars he brought to Australia at the end of his tour but on this occasion both Coopers returned to the UK and equally oddly both disappeared into the ether later in the year.

(Draper Family Collection)


John Richardson, Draper Family Collection, Glenn Garth, oldracingcars.com


(Draper Family Collection)

Roy Salvadori reflecting on the size of his ‘Gregory Peck’ at the Weir while entertaining the crowd, announcer’s name folks?


(B Wilson Collection)

Chris Amon hustles his March 707 Chev around Riverside, during the weekend in 1970. Isn’t it a big, handsome brute, fast too…

The scale of March’s F1 achievement in 1970 from a standing start is unbelievable, 11 March 701 Ford DFV’s were built and won three F1 races that year. Jackie Stewart took the fiery Spanish Grand Prix and the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, while Chris Amon won the International Trophy at Silverstone.

In addition, they created the infrastructure and team to build customer Formula Ford, F3 and F2 cars, and this Group 7/Can-Am program, “credited to SCCA Pro Racing Director Jim Kaser’s trip to Europe to drum up more business” wrote Hunter Farnham. In his spare time – sic! – Robin Herd led the design of a car that was immediately competitive in Helmut Kelleners’ hands in the European Interserie, and in the much more competitive Can-Am Challenge, where McLaren remained supreme, later in 1970.

“The detail design was executed by ex-Lola man Martin Slater (a friend of one of the March founders, Graham Coaker) and John Clark, a freelance designer who was involved with most of the early Marches, while further refinements were made during its construction by John Thompson, Roger Silman and Peter Turland.” wrote Mike Lawrence in ‘The History of March’. Well aware of how thin the businesses resources were, Amon enticed his long-time mechanic, Kiwi Bruce Wilson – who had not too long before prepared and spannered the Ferrari 246T in which Chris had won the 1969 Tasman Cup – to Bicester to help complete the cars.

Chris testing 707-01 at Silverstone sans bodywork – Bruce would be proud of him! – in May 1970 (B Wilson Collection)
March 707 Chev technical specifications as per text, chassis depicted is Amon’s 707-02 (Bill Bennett)

Herd was partially responsible for the McLaren dominance of course, together with Bruce McLaren he designed and drew the 1967 McLaren M6A Chev, the first of the Papaya-Steamrollers comprising the 1967-71 M6A-M8A-M8B-M8D and M8F, all of which were Chevrolet V8 powered.

As was the case with the 701, Herd designed a simple car – nothing wrong with that, McLaren’s dominance was achieved with utterly conventional superbly designed, built and prepared racing cars – given the time constraints and customer queue. No way could he afford an expensive, time consuming development program with angry customers if an innovative approach turned-turtle.

Robin’s monocoque was fabricated in 20-gauge aluminium alloy with magnesium bulkhead castings at front and rear. It housed 70 gallons of fuel located in four Firestone bladders. In a neat touch, typical of some F1 cars of the day, the tub ended at the aft cockpit bulkhead with the engine and rear suspension/transaxle assembly bolted to a steel frame that attached to the back of the tub. With the fixings undone, the whole rear of the car could be rolled away for necessary maintenance.

707-02 getting pretty close to being ready for Chris first gallop at Silverstone by the look, no belt yet fitted tho. Lots of flat sheet to minimise the compound curvature fabrication challenges. Bruce Wilson second from the right, who are the other fellas folks? (B Wilson Collection)
(B Wilson Collection)
Ally block, capacity quoted as 494/502ci, Lucas injection, magneto ignition, Mota-Lita steering steering, Hewland LG ‘box (B Wilson Collection)

March purchased 494/502cid/8-litre Chaparral-Chev aluminium, pushrod, fuel injected V8s giving circa 720bhp @ 6500rpm. The ubiquitous Hewland LG600 gearbox transmitted its huge power and torque through roller-spline driveshafts to mag-alloy wheels and 23-inch wide Firestones at the rear.

Front and rear suspension was period typical. Upper and lower wishbones, coil spring-Koni damper units and adjustable roll-bar and mag-alloy uprights at the front. The rear used a single top link, twin parallel lower links, and radius rods, again with an adjustable bar and attaching to big, beefy but light mag-alloy uprights.

Brakes were Girling calipers with 12-inch rotors, steering was of course rack and pinion, the whole lot less fuel weighed a claimed 1460 pounds. The wheelbase, as published, was 96 inches, front track 68, rear track 64, length 156, and width 93 inches.

Pete Lyon’s ran his tape-measure over the cars and found that “the tape across the nose-fins was no wider that 83.5 inches, while the rear wheel arches swelled to only 83.75. That years M8D taped out at 79.5 at the latter point.” Lyon quoted Chris Amon from a Karl Ludvigsen – Motor Trend article as saying the true weight of the 707 was between 1600-1800 pounds. Big cars indeed…

Bruce Wilson and Chris catching up early in-build, 707-01, maybe (B Wilson Collection)
(B Wilson Collection)
(B Wilson Collection)

Chassis 707-01 was ready for Chris to test at Silverstone in mid-May (above). He was excited by the prospect of racing two 707s, which were part of his retainer agreement with March. Lawrence wrote that Chris viewed this effort as potentially a first step in establishing ‘Amon Racing Team’ to give him a measure of independence, and longer term security after he’d hung up his helmet.

In the end, March retained the cars, “the books would be balanced to suit” wrote Lawrence. Ultimately, Chris was never paid what he was owed by March, not that he was alone, just one of the first…

Chris complained of front end instability when he tested the car, the cockpit was so large that Robin Herd joined him for a few laps, the mechanics joked that “he’d designed the 707 that wide so he could hitch rides in it.”

Kelleners 707-01 was ready in time for the first Interserie round at the Norisring on June 26. He led both heats but was ousted by gearbox problems, a good effort as the brakes were troublesome and the weight distribution still wasn’t quite right. Progress was swift though, he won at Croft in July and at Hockenheim in October. The six round championship was won by Jurgen Neuhaus, Porsche 917K who was also victorious twice but was more consistent throughout the short season. Kelleners was the class of the field, despite the presence of some works-assisted Porsche 917s, with more reliability he would have won the title. Importantly, the lessons learned with the car were built into Amon’s machine which was quick and finished races from the start.

Helmut Kelleners 707-01 during the 1970 Trophy of The Dunes at Zandvoort on September 20 (unattributed)
Zandvoort again, the shot chosen to highlight the fabulous mix of cars; Groups 5, 6 and 7, fitted with engines ranging in capacity from 2-8-litres! Gijs Van Lennep, Porsche 917K here leads Kelleners (MotorSport)

After the Italian Grand Prix, Amon took his March 707 to round 8 of the Can-Am at Donnybrooke, McLaren had won almost all of the preceding rounds in the superb, Batmobile M8D Chev. Dan Gurney was victorious at Mosport and St Jovite until sponsor-clashes brought his McLaren F1 and Can-Am drive to an end. Denny Hulme then won at Watkins Glen, Edmonton and Mid Ohio until Peter Gethin took the Road America round in the car vacated by Gurney.

The odd-ball victory of the season was Tony Dean’s in the wet at Road Atlanta in mid-September when his nimble, light 3-litre Porsche 908 Spyder beat all of the 6-7 litre machines

When Amon appeared at Donnybrooke during the September 27 weekend he was immediately on the pace despite a lower front suspension arm pulling away from the chassis in practice.

Amon arrived in Minnesota early enough to do some mid-week practice, “but twice its practice was cut short with suspension failures,” Pete Lyons in ‘Can-Am’ wrote. The ‘Boeing’ was third on the grid, with ‘patches’ fitted to each side to rectify the suspension problem, behind Peter Revson’s Carl Haas-works Lola T220 Chev and the Hulme M8D; Chris matched Denny’s qualifying time, not bad…

In the race he ran second for a while, then, despite fuel pick up problems while running third – one tank wasn’t emptying into the other – Chris was classified fifth, having pulled off to the side of the track, behind Hulme, Gethin, Revson and Jim Adams’ Ferrari 512P.

(B Wilson Collection)
Amon negotiates Laguna Seca’s corkscrew (unattributed)
(B Wilson Collection)

Then it was off to Laguna Seca for another promising run on October 18. This time Q5 and fourth, coping with spongy brakes on the challenging track behind Hulme, Jackie Oliver’s Autocoast TI22 Mk2 Chev – who engaged in a long thriller of a dice with Denny – and Revson’s Lola. Clearly 707 had plenty of promise and pace despite missing the bulk of the races and the ongoing development which is a part of that process.

It was more of the same in the final round at Riverside, Q5 and fourth for Chris, third until fuel woes re-emerged and he had to pit for a splash and dash. This time the finishing order was Hulme, Oliver and Pedro Rodriguez in the BRM P154, the Bourne marque also having a crack that season but not making as much impact as March’s much shorter campaign.

At the end of 1970 both cars were returned to Bicester. 707-01 was modified by the removal of the hammerhead nose, and the front mounted radiators were moved to the chassis’ side. Dubbed the 717, Kelleners struggled with reliability in 1971 and sold the car at the season’s end to Austrian racer, Stefan Sklenar who race it sporadically without much luck.

Chris’ 707-02 was rebuilt and demonstrated occasionally. Despite the very promising start, March didn’t return to the Can-Am Challenge but rather focused mainly on volume production of single-seater categories where they were globally successful. In the later 1970s 707-03, a spare chassis, was built up and fitted with 707 bodywork, the cars live on.



Helmut Kelleners looking for a bit of love from his crew in the Croft pitlane, a successful July weekend for the team in that short 25 lap race. He won aboard 707-01 from Jurgen Neuhaus, Porsche 917K and John Lepp, Spectre GP6 Ford.

The photographs in this section are a mix from Bruce Wilson’s collection including some March works shots from in-period press releases, and the Getty Images’ archive. They are mixed up to get a nice visual mish-mash of monochrome and colour.


Plenty to smile about at Riverside, while Karl Ludvigsen’s shot below on the same November 1 weekend is much more moody, the shadows enhance that distinctive hammerhead nose with quite separate wing-section.

It’s such a shame that March didn’t race on with an evolved car in the 1971 Can-Am though it is hard to be critical of the commercial choices made by the March Boys, whilst noting the ever present and well documented ongoing cashflow dramas.

(K Ludvigsen)
It’s clear how much influence the F1 701 had on the nose-aero of its big Can-Am March sibling in this low angle shot (B Wilson Collection)
Monterey GP pits, Laguna Seca 1970. Bruce Wilson in the red shirt (H Thomas)

The sheer subtlety of Can-Am machines is what makes them so attractive to so many of us…

1970 was the last real Can-Am in the minds of many experts of the class. The Chapparral 2J Chev was such a threat to orthodoxy, it was thown out. Doubtless in accordance with FIA rules. But when Jim Hall said ‘go and get rooted’, or the Texan equivalent thereof, everything good about the unlimited, truly wild class was gone. Those of you who saw them race in-period are so lucky…

(B Wilson Collection)
Amon, again 707-02 at Laguna Seca in 1970 (H Thomas)
“How’s the F1 car going Bruce?” “Hmm, Ferrari have come good pal!” (B Wilson Collection)

Bruce Wilson and Chris Amon were the best of buddies. Bruce was key to Amon’s success right back to his Maserati 250F days before Reg Parnell popped him on a plane to England in early 1963.

Coopers galore in NZ circa 1961, circuit folks? Chris aboard his Cooper T41 Climax with Bruce’ hand on rear body (B Wilson Collection)

Wilson wrote a lovely book – The Master Mechanic- about his life and times in racing in the Antipodes and Europe, I’m told it’s great, it’s certainly on my list. I don’t believe the publisher has any – it was released almost as he died in 2017 – so go the online route.

(B Wilson Collection)


Bruce Wilson Collection, cutaway by Bill Bennett, Karl Ludvigsen, Can-Am review in ‘Automobile Year 18’ by Hunter Farnham, ‘The History of March’ Mike Lawrence, ‘Can-Am’ Pete Lyons, Getty Images-Henry Thomas


(B Wilson Collection)



The Grand Prix cinematographer doesn’t seem the least bit perturbed by the immediate proximity of Daniel Sexton Gurney at Spa during the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix in the pouring Ardennes rain. There is a haybale or two there after all.

I guess Dan is past the critical – for the ‘snapper’s life – turn-in phase of the corner and he is only (sic) delicately balancing the Eagle Mk1 Climax 2.7 FPF on the throttle through Eau Rouge. Still, it was really dumb-shit like this that makes the film so great.

Gurney qualified 15th and wasn’t classified in this interim car, he was awaiting Weslake Engineering’s delivery of the Eagle-Weslake V12 motor to create a true contender, John Surtees’ Ferrari 312 won. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/19/eagle-mk1-climax-101/

(unattributed – who took the shot?)

He came, he saw and he conquered with mesmeric car control in the 1969 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Cup round. Jochen Rindt Lotus 49B Ford DFW 2.5 V8.

If he wasn’t recognised as the fastest man alive at the start of the season, most pundits saw it that way by the end of it. Fastest I said, not best. See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/19/rindt-tasman-random/

(D Simpson)


MotorSport Images, Dick Simpson, wfooshee