(AMR)

Bruce McLaren points his Ford F3L/P68 into Druids Hill Bend during the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour on April 7…

I guess we all have our favourite racing eras, my own are the seventies and eighties but visually the ‘last front engined decade’, the fifties and the ‘first mid-engined decade’, the sixties have to be right up there.

In sportscar terms the latter is stunning- the bill of fare without limit from the Ferrari 250P early in the decade to the 512S at its end (1969 design and 1970 raced), Lola Mk6 to T70 Mk3B, Chaparral 2 to 2H, Porsche 904 to 908, Elfin Mallala to ME5 and Ford GT40 to F3L.

The F3L has to be a candidate for the hottest of hotties with its extravagant length, voluptuous but subtle compound curvature- it’s possibly the spunk-muffin of them all but sadly, as is so often the case with stunning chicks, the beauty was only skin deep.

On the face of it Fords 3 litre Group 6 challenger- the designation is an acronym for Prototype 1968 Ford 3 Litre had all it needed to succeed; the backing and funding of Ford UK, Castrol and Goodyear the most punchy, torquey and reliable F1 engine of the day- the Ford Cosworth DFV, it was designed by the very well credentialled Len Bailey- then on the payroll of Harley Copp, Ford Director of Engineering and built by Alan Mann Racing in Byfleet, Surrey. On top of that the roll call of drivers included the best GP and sportscar racers of the day. How could they fail? But tank they did, by early 1969 the project was dead. What went so terribly wrong?

No less than father of the Ford DFV program, Ford’s European Director of Public Affairs, Walter Hayes launched the F3L at a large function of motor racing’s great and good at the Hilton Hotel in early 1968.

The car blew the brains away of all present in terms of its looks, aerodynamics and advanced specification- it was indeed an amazingly compact, fully-enveloped two-seater Grand Prix car in its conception and execution.

(AMR)

Len Bailey was apprenticed at Austin and moved to the US in 1955 where he worked for American Motors and Ford in Dearborn. He was part of a team which worked on Fords racing efforts and then returned to the UK, still employed by Ford as Chief Draftsman on the Ford Advanced Vehicles GT40 project designed by Eric Broadley. The body shape of the GT40 in its successful form was designed by Bailey in the workshops of Specialised Mouldings with assistance from stylists from Ford UK and US. Bailey designed the Mirage adaptation of the GT40 raced by John Wyer in 1967 and the engineering of many of the Alan Mann Racing touring cars.

In Australia Bailey is best known for his late 1968 Alan Mann Racing built, monocoque Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ single-seater, which used some Brabham BT23 componentry (uprights, wheels, steering rack) and was raced very successfully by Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, Bob Muir and Ray Winter way into 1974 powered by Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8 and Waggott 2 litre TC-4V engines in ANF1 and finally the Ford Hart 416B twin-cam ANF2 motor.

Frank Gardner in Len Bailey’s AMR built Mildren Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5V8 Tasman Formula car in the Warwick Farm Esses during the sodden ‘WF 100’ won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW in a blinder of a wet weather drive, FG was third in this excellent car. It was a front three car, the absence of wings before the Australian leg meant the car didn’t realise its ultimate pace that summer- god knows why it was delivered from the UK sans wings, its not as tho Bailey or FG didn’t know they were needed?! Superb car which won races throughout Australasia and Asia thru till 1974. Still extant in the hands of the Ayers Family in Waggott engine form (B McInerney)

 

Superb Ford Cosworth DFV V8 cutaway by Vic Berris (Autocar)

Bailey was inspired to build the F3L by the Ford Cosworth DFV given its small size and light weight. Len decided it would make an ideal sprint engine but Keith Duckworth questioned the engines durability, it was designed for 200 mile Grands Prix events after all- so in the first year, 1968, it was not intended to contest Le Mans.

Despite the DFV being concepted by Colin Chapman and designed by Duckworth to be a stressed member of a car the aluminium monocoque Bailey laid down provided for the engine to be carried by traditional aluminium side booms, a choice which was both unnecessarily heavy and problematic in terms of utility. It took too long to remove and replace th engine and it was said heat problems were caused.

The choice of the chassis design is intriguing- whether it was Bailey’s choice or one imposed on him ‘due to political problems within Ford’ is unclear. The latter seems odd- by the end of 1967 Chapman had agreed to Hayes request to make the engine more widely available in 1968 to other teams ‘so as not to destroy Grand Prix racing’, as Hayes was fearful the Lotus 49 Ford cars would do. So Chapman agreed to that, despite his contract providing Lotus with engine exclusivity for a period of time. The point in this chassis design context is that McLaren and Matra, in designing their 1968 M7A and MS10 GP cars located their engines exactly as Chapman did on the 49- they were bolted the the rear chassis bulkhead, that is used as stressed chassis members rather than supported as Bailey/Mann chose to do, or were forced to do, with their F3L sportscar.

Inperial College wind tunnel in 1967 (unattributed)

To finish this long treatise on the F3L chassis Autosport’s John Bolster in an article he penned about the car in March 1968 reported it ‘was a full monocoque with riveted and bonded aluminium panels; in fact the only unstressed panels are in the small removable nose section and the tail. The skin is of 0.03 inch malleable aircraft alloy throughout, and the shape of the body is intended to produce the lowest possible drag while keeping the small, light car on the ground. At 200 mph it is calculated that a downward force of 600 pounds will be generated’.

The compact size of the F3L is stunning in any picture of it, this is in part due to the cars wheelbase which was a short 7 feet 3 inches with a track of 4 ft 7 ins. The wheelbase was ‘considerably shorter than that of the grand prix single-seaters employing the same power unit’ Bolster wrote. He continued, ‘No doubt this short wheelbase can be used because of the stability conferred by the body shape, and in particular by the Ford-patented vortex generating tail. The overall length is 13 ft 10 ins, the width 5 ft 10 ins, the height 2 ft 11.5 ins and the frontal area 14 sq ft’. Whilst the car undoubtedly had the hands of stylists involved, the fundamental shape was developed with the aid of extensive testing in the Imperial College Wind Tunnel during 1967.

Suspension was GP car standard of the day- upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/damper units at the front and single top links, inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods and again coil spring/dampers at the rear. Roll bars were of course adjustable at both ends. Girling brakes of 11.5 inches diameter were carried inboard of the uprights in the interest of cooling with drive from the hubs provided by short live axles. Light alloy wheels used three-eared knock-on hubs, with peg drive and were 15 inches in diameter with rim widths of 8/9 inches at the front and 14/15 inches aft. Goodyear tyres were used which, given the tyre contracts of the day meant that only Goodyear contracted drivers could be used- not that in any way that limited the talent pool available! Uprights were cast magnesium, steering rack and pinion and the gearbox was a Hewland DG300, relatively understressed in this application.

The 3 litre Ford DFV developed around 420 bhp @ 9000 rpm at this stage of its development, the radiator was mounted at the front of the car with electrics and fuel injection the same as those used in the single-seaters mentioned above. The fuel filler was concealed in the scuttle, the fuel tank capacity was 26.5 gallons, the mandated spare wheel was carried flat behind the engine with compulsory luggage capacity also in the tail. The minimum weight for Group 6 cars was 1435 pounds, the F3L in its early form weighed in at a comparatively svelte 1480 pounds.

Breathtaking artistry of Theo Page- F3L P68

Bolster reported that ‘It is intended that 1968 be a development season for the car, and Alan Mann will enter it in five or six races. Most of the test driving will be performed by Denny Hulme and Frank Gardner, but Jim Clark/Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren/Denny Hulme are scheduled to drive the cars at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch on April 7, which will be the first public appearance’.

If only Jim Clark had raced the F3L that fateful weekend the course of motor racing history would have been quite different, instead the Lotus/Firestone contracted driver raced an F2 Lotus Ford FVA F2 car to his death at Hockenheim.

Bolster concluded his article with the observation that ‘This brilliant design will allow the Ford Cosworth V8, hitherto a Formula 1 unit, to appear in a new sphere. Though the enclosed two-seater is heavier than the single-seaters, its vastly better aerodynamic shape will enable it to reach higher speeds and over 200 mph will certainly be within its compass. This is yet another proof that when Fords go motor racing, they employ all the latest advances in technology and there are no half measures.’

All of Bolster’s observations held true with the exception of half-measures- it was only half-measures in terms of commitment to the cars development which precluded the success that was well within its performance reach…

Gardner’s Nurburgring crutch. The tall, lanky pilot had an extra one and a half inches added to the wheelbase of ‘the second chassis’ built to give him a bit more ‘wriggle room’ (Getty)

The legendary bearded scribbler, Denis Jenkinson, of course attended the cars launch and spoke extensively to Frank Gardner about the car during the function- he was keen for a ride in the new machine with Gardner happy to oblige, a Goodwood test date was soon sorted.

Jenkinson takes up the story in MotorSport ‘I spent a whole day at Goodwood watching Gardner drive the car and he didn’t like the way it steered, though he was unable to explain clearly why. The front end gave no hint of confidence on fast bends and seemed to want to step out sideways, but he could offer no technical suggestions and Bailey and Mann seemed out of their depth with a car they had conceived but were unable to suckle. Jack Brabham was there testing one of his F2 cars (BT23C Ford Cosworth) so Alan Mann asked him to try the Ford. On three laps Brabham approached the chicane and at the last moment thought the better of it and took the escape road. After about 5 laps he drew into the pits, opened the door, and before anyone could speak, he said, in that dead-pan voice that is so typical of Brabham, “How brave do you want me to get?” Without more ado he got on with his Formula Two car and left Gardner, Bailey and Mann scratching their heads, not knowing where to look for the root cause. The late Mike Spence tried the car and was more explicit, describing the movement of the car as being as if the steering rack was moving, making the car step sideways at the front when the torque was applied to the steering wheel. Some primitive, strong arm stuff with long levers indicated that the front structure was rigid enough, and Spence did wonder if the car was aerodynamically unstable, but this was out of the question, for the Ford publicity boys had written pages on the new secrets of the aerodynamics of the tail section which gave the car very special stability. Before the abortive day finished I suggested to Gardner that I’d still like a run around in the passenger seat, if only to be able to see at close quarters what they were complaining about. He was adamant; he said he was reluctantly prepared to risk his own life, but he was not prepared to risk somebody elses. It must have been bad, so I went away and got on with something else’ Jenkinson concluded.

Nonetheless the testing of the car continued, Gardner, Richard Attwood, Mike Spence and John Surtees all drove it and assisted in its development and by the time of the intial Brands outing the car was quick- if unreliable. This is of course not unexpected- the 917 was a pig in 1969, Gardner famously thought he and David Piper should have been awarded an Iron Cross for wrestling it around the Nurburgring 1000 km when none of Porsche’s contracted drivers would- won Le Mans in 1970.

Lets have a look at how the F3L fared at each of its competition appearances.

Alan Mann and Walter Hayes in suit, and the lads, Brands 1968. McLaren/Spence car (AMR)

1968 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 7)

The two-car Alan Mann transporter rumbled into the Brands paddock late for the first day of practice, the second P68 having been just completed. The cars were to be driven by Rindt/Spence and McLaren/Hulme (substitutinq for Clark/Hill, Clark having to take late Lotus 48 FVA F2 commitments at Hockenheim).

McLaren was second fastest in practice with the works Siffert/Hermann Porsche 907 on pole. The other F3L broke its engine and was withdrawn due to the lack of a spare. As a consequence the driver pairings were shuffled with McLaren/Spence teamed to race. McLaren drove a great race, the engine hesitated off the line with Bruce dropping to sixth, but he recovered to lead after 30 minutes. A great dice with Jo Siffert and Vic Elford in works Porsche 907’s saw some place-changing, but McLaren still led at the first pit stop. Spence resumed in third place, but within 20 mins coasted to retirement opposite the pits with a broken driveshaft coupling. The Ickx/Redman John Wyer Ford GT40 won from Q5 with the Porsche 907’s of Mitter/Scarfiotti and Elford/Neerpasch second and third.

Denis Jenkinson saw the race and observed ‘The lone race entry completed only 65 laps, but it held the lead at times, which was most impressive, and when it retired with a broken driveshaft joint everyone was genuinely sorry and we all thought “that car is a certain winner when they get it sorted out”. Oddly enough the strange handling experienced at Goodwood was an aerodynamic instability, and tail spoilers were claimed to have cured all the troubles, as simply as that. For a first attempt in an experimental year the BOAC outing was fair enough, for the car was clearly a winner.’

Gardner, Karrussell, Nurburgring 1968 (unattributed)

Nürburgring 1000 km (May 19)

In a shocker of a meeting for the F3Ls- two cars were entered for Pedro Rodriguez/Chris Irwin and Attwood/Gardner, Irwin crashed at Flugplatz during practice, receiving severe head injuries. The car landed badly on its tail, flipped end to end, the ferocity of the prang caused injuries which hospitalised him for some time.

Interestingly Irwin had done an 8:40.4 lap- quicker than Gardner’s 8:42.5 and good enough for fourth on the grid had be been able to start. On the ultimate test of handling the F3L’s were fast- off the pace of the fastest 907’s but they were very much on home turf and crewed by drivers who knew the place like the back of their hands.

Attwood started the race, but on lap 1 the retaining clip on the right front brake caliper disappeared and the brake pads fell out, Attwood limped back to the pits. On lap 2 the driver’s door came open and twisted itself out of shape, to compound a shocker of a weekend the right rear tyre punctured. On lap 3 Attwood got going again a lap and a half behind the leaders. After a few more laps the engine died due to a broken ignition transistor, the sleek coupe was retired out on the long circuit.

The Siffert/Elford 908 won from the Hermann/Stommelen 907 and then the Ickx/Hawkins Wyer GT40- just under four minutes covered the top 3 cars after 1000 Km of racing.

Chris Irwin about to saddle up for his last, fateful, motor racing laps, Nurburgring 1968, F3L P68 (unattributed)

In a June 2008 MotorSport interview Chris Irwin spoke of that fateful weekend which ended his incredibly promising motor racing career.

‘How the accident happened and why it happened don’t know. I have no memory of it whatsoever. All I can remember of the weekend is that the car I was driving went incredibly quickly and every time I came in I asked them to put a higher top gear in it. We were doing something like 240 mph on the straight. It really was the most lovely piece of equipment before I finished with it.’

Irwin’s completely wrecked F3L P68 ‘1002 or ’02’ after its Flugplatz landing. I wonder who the Ford fellow with the helmet is? (M Forster)

Irwin spent ten days on life support following the accident. ‘When I woke up they asked me how I felt and I said my right ankle hurt. I’d got a broken ankle and they didn’t know about it. I had to go back to hospital quite a few times for further surgery. I had some very good treatment; the finest that money could buy. I was left with epilepsy as a legacy of the accident, which is controlled by pills, and i’m still allowed to drive’ Irwin concluded.

It is ironic that the death of another F3L driver, Mike Spence at Indianapolis could have opened up a seat for Irwin, with ten GP starts behind him, at BRM for the balance of 1968. The ifs, buts, and maybe’s of motor racing fortunes…

Chris Irwin, BRM P261, Longford, The Viaduct, during the 1967 Tasman Series. Irwin raced this chassis when Richard Attwood returned to Europe- he contested the Warwick Farm, Sandown and Longford rounds for a DNF, 4th and 3rd (DKeep/oldracephotos)

 

Spa 1000 km (May 26)

The single surviving F3L was driven by Gardner and German racer Hubert Hahne.

High speed stability and predictability are all for driver confidence on the Ardennes Forest daunting road circuit as is the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.

The early handling developmental problems of the F3L seemed to be cured with Gardner taking pole at 145.8mph, with a huge 4 second margin from Jacky Ickx’s John Wyer Ford GT40-and this on a circuit Ickx knew like the back of his hand. The F3L achieved 211 mph on the Masta Straight.

The good work in practice was ruined in the race however. Ickx led Gardner through Eau Rouge, but the F3L slipped to 10th and pitted after the first lap. This was the car’s first run in the rain and cool air ducting funnelled water all over the electrics. Given there was no easy fix the team withdrew the car- again a developmental issue which should have been foreseen but was not difficult to put right with appropriate changes to the machine.

The race was won by the Ickx/Redman Wyer GT40 from the Porsche 907 of Mitter/Schlesser and Hermann/Stommelen 908.

These two front and rear shots are of the Gardner/Hahne F3L at Spa 1968- the car an absolute (unattributed)

 

RAC TT, Oulton Park (June 3)

A single car was entered for Attwood who took pole at 1:36.0. The F3L led for 10 laps but retired with a Hewland differential failure.

Lacking confidence in the ability of the car to finish the race, Attwood had also been nominated as co-driver in David Piper’s Ferrari 412P- they drove superbly to second place just 9.4 secs behind Hulme’s winning Lola T70 Chev after three hours’ of racing. Paul Hawkins was third in his GT40.

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (July 27)

Another good performance was spoiled by fragility.

Frank Gardner qualified second behind Hulme’s Lola T70 Mk3 Chev, but led from the off staying there for 41 of the 65 laps, causing Denny to spin in his spirited pursuit of the red Alan Mann car. With 16 seconds in hand the DFV engine lost oil pressure, FG retired the car after 41 laps rather than pop the expensive motor. During the race Gardner proved the cars speed setting a new lap record of 1:28.6.

The race was won by Hulme’s Lola from the GT40’s of Paul Hawkins and Ed Nelson.

Later in the year the car was entered in the (sportscar) Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg in late August but was withdrawn, Jenkinson said because of ‘political strife at Ford’.

The 1968 Manufacturers Championship was won by Ford with 45 points from Porsche on 42 and Alfa Romeo on 15.5.

Gardner testing the new P69 at Goodwood. Poor quality shot shows front wing between the two guards and fully enveloping nature of the body  (D Phipps)

 

 

Due to changes in the Group 6 regulations made by the CSI in relation to windscreen heights amongst other changes Bailey designed a new car for 1969, it was essentially an open version of the P68 but much more revolutionary in its aerodynamic specifications.

When announced to the press on 7 April the P69 was described by Ford as ‘a research vehicle…designed as an integral airfoil study…the P69 continues the (F1) study to the sports prototype field. The P69 integral airfoil utilizes a system of interconnected adjustable airfoil wings mounted at front and rear. Action of the two wings is controlled both mechanically and hydraulically with the pitch angle being governed directly by air pressure bearing on the wing surfaces when the car is in motion’.

‘The front airfoil is mounted low down between the extended front fenders. The rear airfoil is attached by its leading edge to the upper surface of the car. The prototype has a maximum speed in excess of 200 mph and is 15 inches shorter, 5 inches lower, and 2.5 incjes wider than the P68 prototype- a closed car- which first raced last year’.

Len Bailey is quoted as saying ‘We have set out to promote positive downward lift forces with a minimum of drag. Later it is envisaged the rear flap will serve as an air brake which will be directly controlled by the driver’. The engine was of course the Ford Cosworth DFV as used the year before ‘with the water radiator in a special duct at the rear of the car while ducts are cut into the side and underside of the car for the engine and transmission oil cooler as well as the rear brakes and engine trumpets’.

The chassis, suspension and brakes are similar to the P68. At the time of the public announcement wind tunnel tests had been completed at at the MIRA facility at Nuneaton and Gardner had completed a ‘comprehensive test at Goodwood. Drivers announced for the 1969 Brands Hatch BOAC 500 on 13 April were the Australian duo of Gardner and Brabham.

Gardner on the move at Goodwood, shots of car rare, especially in its original form, rear wing/spoiler clear (D Phipps)

Talk about Mann and Bailey doubling their bets!?

You might think the safe move, the winning one would have been to make reliable what was clearly the fastest sportscar of 1968 and win in 1969. But instead the AMR crew added more complexity. One can’t help but wonder if the car wasn’t some type of publicity stunt- the press release said the car had moveable aerodynamic devices which were illegal under the rules then and now. Predictably, the FIA acted swiftly, before the P69 had even raced!

With its moving aerofoil flap between the front headlights and enclosed ‘single-seat’ cockpit there was no way the car could be made compliant without spending a great deal of money. The cars rear mounted radiator was said to be 30% more efficient than the one in the front of the F3L coupe, but if the cars central body section was altered the performance advantages would be lost.

In order to race the car at Brands the car was fitted with a pair of conventional free-standing wings mounted to the front and rear uprights…

Gardner in Ford jacket, Alan Mann a couple of blokes away to his left. Wings added clear, Brands Hatch (unattributed)

 

Ditto above (unattributed)

1969 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 13)

The new open-bodied P69 ran its bearings in practice, yet again this problem had ruined a race weekend.

Various reports have Brabham not wanting to have anything to do with the car at all having initially driven it but even in the limited practice laps at Brands completed the car recorded a 1:33.0 lap- way off Siffert/Redman Porsche pole of 1:28.8 but again, limited laps were completed and it was the cars first race run.

Hulme?Gardner F3L on the 1969 Brands 6 Hour grid (unattributed)

In any event, that now left the P68 coupé- with a suspension-mounted rear wing, in the hands of Hulme/Gardner to start the race without its younger sibling . The car qualified 3 seconds adrift of pole with tired engines a continuing problem, the car, driven by Denny Hulme retired with low oil pressure on lap 14, he held 5th position at the time.

Porsche 908/2’s took the placings- the Siffert/Redman crew won from Elford/Attwood and Mitter/Schutz.

P69 at Druids Hill, Brands 1969, probably Frank Gardner at the wheel (unattributed)

The ongoing engine failures were odd, the motors were not racing beyond GP distances but were failing consistently with atypical bottom end problems.

Richard Thwaites, who acquired the 1968 BOAC chassis #1000 in the nineties identified the cause of the engine problems.

‘When I bought the car ‘chassis No 1000′ was dynotaped to the dashboard, I belive this was original as it was exactly the same faded dynotape as the labelling for all the switches. I had the car restored by Hall & Fowler 1994-96…with regard to the engine problems in 1968 which were mainly bearings, when we restored the car we found a major design fault with the oil tank. Whilst the oil was collected from the bottom of the tank, the outlet pipe came out of the top of the tank and over the monocoque before going down to the oil pump. The oil had to be sucked up about 18 inches and I believe that with the thick oils that were used at the time, it caused cavitation in the oil pump which led to bearing failure. We changed the oil tank so the pipe came out of the bottom of the tank and did not have any problems’ Thwaites wrote.

By this stage faith in the project was well and truly disappearing.

Alan Mann had wanted to gain experience from racing the cars whilst Ford had not wanted to race them until they were race-worthy so there was a certain amount of deadlock. From Ford’s perspectine the good old reliable GT40 had won at Le Mans in 1968 and of course the same John Wyer run chassis ‘1075’ took victory again in 1969- they hardly needed Alan Mann’s cars, as it turned out

Gardner’s F3L P68 in the Silverstone paddock, Martini Trophy meeting 1969 (unattributed)

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (May 17)

Frank Gardner repeated the  previous year’s pace, by taking pole with 1:28.0. There was very heavy rain on race day, so the team removed the rear wing because speeds would be lower. The engine badly misfired with wet electrics on the warm-up lap, Bailey recalled ‘…suitable rain shields were available , but they were not fitted when the car set off on its warming up laps. The engine popped and banged over the deep Silverstone puddles and there was nothing Gardner could do when seven or eight cylinders all chimed in together at an unexpected moment and put the car off the track.’

Chris Craft won the race from Brian Redman, David Piper and Paul Hawkins, all four raced Lola T70 Mk3B Chevs.

The F3L’s were put to one side in a corner of Mann’s workshop, the final ignominy was for them to be raided as a suspension parts source for AMR’s second Can Am car- the ‘Ford Open Sports’- has there ever been a more sexless name for a spectacular racing car?

But let’s come back to that tangent in a moment, a Ford Cosworth DFV engined car did win an endurance event in 1969- the Imola 500 Km in September.

Ickx at the wheel of the Mirage M3/200 Ford Coupe, Nurburgring 1000 Km 1969 (unattributed)

Mirage M2-300 and M3-300 Fords…

When legendary team boss/manager John Wyer considered his JWA Automotive options for the new sportscar rules of 1968 he was keen to get hold of the DFV too- he planned to build a ‘sprint’ car like Alan Mann to supplement his GT40’s which he suspected may struggle with ultimate speed. That option wasn’t available to him as the supply of the motors was limited and AMR got the sports-racer gig.

Undeterred, Wyer briefed Len Terry to design a 3 litre Coupe powered by the BRM ‘sports car’ V12 which Bruce McLaren first used in his McLaren M5 in late 1967 GP events. Whilst quick, the BRM engined cars were not fast enough with Wyer finally getting his hands on the DFV in 1969.

The team quickly modified their existing chassis to accept the smaller, punchier DFV with the M2-300 Coupe having its first race start in the hands of Jackie Ickx/Jackie Oliver in the 1 June Nurburgring 1000 km, why not start with one of the toughest of all events, after all the chassis was well sorted?! The coupe qualified fifth and retired with rear suspension failure.

Bonnier/Muller Lola T70 Mk3B Chev alongside the Ickx/Oliver Mirage M3/300 Ford, further back is the Matra MS650 of Servoz-Gavin/Rodriguez (unattributed)

 

Jackie Oliver in the Mirage M3/300 Ford, Osterreichring 1969 (LAT)

At Watkins Glen the same pair raced an M3-300 Spyder- JWA made some minor changes to the racers spec and hacked off most of the heavy body. Q5 and DNF with camshaft failure on lap 112 was the result. Off to the Osterreichring in August Ickx popped it on pole but steering failure stopped the pair short on lap 199- at this stage the Mirage appears to have a ‘touch of the P3L’s- lotsa speed but no endurance!

But Ickx and the little racer redeemed themselves at Imola on 14 September winning the 500 km race in a classy field which included works Alfa Romeo T33/3’s driven by Ignazio Giunti, Nanni Galli and Andrea De Adamich as well as works Porsche Salzburg 908/02’s piloted by Kurt Ahrens, Rudy Lins, Vic Elford and Hans Herrmann.

Giunti’s 2nd placed Alfa T33/3 alongside Ickx in the Mirage M3/300 Ford 1st and Art Merzario’s Fiat-Abarth 3000 behind DNF. Imola 500 Km start 1969 (unattributed)

To rub salt into his F3L wounds Frank Gardner co-drove Mike De Udy’s Lola T70 Mk3B in the race and had a front row seat to view the Mirage’s pace as it lapped his troubled Lola several times…

Ickx won from the Giunti T33/3 and Van Lennep/Ortner Fiat Abarth 2000. What Alan Mann and Len Bailey made of this win when they read about it in that weeks Autosport is unrecorded, but if it had been me I would have said- ‘There ya go, you should have stuck with us Walter, we would have got there eventually!’ Perhaps Walters polite response would have been ‘Well Alan, waiting till hell freezes over was longer than acceptable’.

Ickx, Giunti and Merzario from the off, Imola majesty (unattributed)

Where were we?

The F3L’s had been cast to one side in AMR’s workshop as Len Bailey embarked on the design and construction of their last car, the ‘Ford Open Sports’ Can Am racer.

This aluminium monocoque machine was built during early 1969 and tested by Frank Gardner and Can Am ace Denny Hulme before delivery to the ‘States where it was raced in the final two rounds of the 1969 Championship- at Riverside, DNF halfshaft failure by Frank Gardner and at Texas International where Jack Brabham raced it.

Jack qualified the experimental Holman Moody prepped alloy 494cid injected Boss V8 engined car seventh and worked his way up to second late in the race before being slowed by an oil leak which dropped him to third behind Bruce McLaren’s dominant McLaren M8B Chev and George Eaton’s McLaren M12 Chev.

Had the swoopy, curvaceous car been built and tested earlier in the season who knows what the 740 bhp, Hewland LG600 5 speed equipped racer could have achieved?

‘Certainly the potential was there. And yet the Open Sports Ford vanished as quickly as it appeared. Perhaps a victim of Ford Motor Companies lack of commitment to the Can Am, or its drastic budget slash for 1970, or Alan Mann Racing closing its doors at the end of the 1969 season, but the Open Sports Ford never raced again’ wrote Steve Holmes. Click here for more about this interesting car, rather than me getting lost in this tangent- the car still exists too, on Steve’s ‘The Roaring Season’ website; http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?53-The-Open-Sports-Ford

Gardner testing the Ford Open Sports at Goodwood in mid-1969 (AMR)

FOS- 494 cid ally Holman Moody prepped Ford V8, circa 740 bhp (TRS)

Jack Brabham, Ford Open Sports with Chuck Parson’s Lola T163 Chev at Texas International (unattributed)

After the closure of Alan Mann Racing the two remaining Fords ‘languish under dust covers in a hangar on an aerodrome in Surrey… neither of the surviving cars has suspension, gearbox or engine installed. The suspension was robbed to be put on the Ford Open Sports…In view of the poor results obtained the top brass at Ford were probably happy to see the project at an end. But they had provided one of the most exciting looking sports cars ever seen. Furthermore it was an All-Ford effort which is praiseworthy, and a contrast to other Ford-financed racing ventures’ MotorSport wrote.

One of these Ford financed racing ventures MotorSport referred to was the Ford Cosworth DFV mind you! They go on ‘Bailey is obviously sorry that his baby should have been spurned by its godparents, and indeed thinks it could still be competitive (in April 1970). Weight could come down by replacing the metal nose and tail sections with glass-fibre parts and he still thinks the car would give a Porsche 917 a good run down the Mulsanne Straight’.

Doug Nye picks up the story of the F3L’s in the late 1970’s ‘…I was telephoned by Harry Carlton who was head of Ford’s press department at Warley, Essex’.

‘Knowing of my connection with Tom Wheatcroft and the Donington Collection he told me that Ford’s management had just concluded that the progressively deteriorating pair of Ford P68’s they owned were simply a waste of space. “Unless we can find a home for them, they’re going to be cut up- d’you think Tom might be prepared to house them?”.

‘I told Harry I was sure he would, to guard the P68’s with his life and I’d get straight back to him. I called Wheatie “Ooh aye lad, bootiful, bootiful, get ’em to send ’em oop ‘ere all right”. I called Harry back and put him in direct contact with Wheatie. I think the cars were removed to Donington’s store the next day. One was quite sad and sorry, the other a little less damaged. One of them had a door come open while being trailed back from a motor show…and the airstream on the motorway had then ripped the door clean off…Like so many Len Bailey designs it looked terrific but was somewhat deficient in many areas, not least its nervous SWB handling and-I was told-its structural strength was inadequate to contain the DFV’s devastating vibration’.

‘Tom subsequently, as I recall, part-exchanged one of the cars with Gavin Bain in New Zealand in return for the remains of the Alfa-Aitken Bimotore. The other went to David Piper, and he subsequently built a replica with a slightly longer (more congenial) wheelbase…or something like that.’

‘Richard Attwood recalls one of his greatest disappointments as being in the P68 in the Oulton Park TT. It was so immensely superior to anything else in the field around Oulton, that he was absolutely confident of success- only to be sidelined by some pettifogging fault…I’m quite proud that in small part I contributed to the car’s survival’ Nye concluded on The Nostalgia Forum.

F3L, Brands 1968, McLaren/Spence (AMR)

So, what do we make of the F3L program and why it failed? What would it have taken to succeed? Why did Ford get the jitters?…

 Whatever the design shortcomings of the car, the F3L P68 was an incredibly fast car on medium/quick Brands Hatch, the blinding speed of Spa and the tremendous, unique test of chassis the Nurburgring represents. The speed of the thing is not in doubt.

 The ability of AMR to respond to the necessary developmental changes and preparation is though.

In 1968 AMR built and prepared the Lotus Cortina and Ford Escort twin-cam in which Frank Gardner retained his British Touring Car Championship crown won the year before in an AMR Ford Falcon Sprint. So, its not as though the team ‘lost their touch’, and to be fair the only problems with the P3L which were repeat ones rather than one-offs or learnings were engine ones- which they really should have solved.

Maybe the perfect combination in 1968 was Alan Mann built cars raced by JW Engineering who did know a thing or two about sports-prototype preparation and development!

FG and Peter Arundell play follow my AMR twin-cam leader during the Silverstone BTCC round on 27 July 1968 (unattributed)

The P69, unless there were political reasons for doing it was bonkers. The ‘68/9 winter would have been far better spent sorting what they already had- a very fast but unreliable P68. Had Alan Mann Racing done that and raced the cars perhaps Ford would have won the 1969 manufacturers championship with points gained by its 3 litre P3L and the 5 litre GT40- a win at Brands in early 1969 possibly would have breathed life into a program which was from that moment ‘dead in the water’.

 Its said money was tight and that Ford equivocated in their support. What certainly changed or continued in 1968 was that the GT40 was still a reliable car and a race winner- the venerable Mk1 may have had its sad moments early on in its racing life but it paid back bigtime in 1968/9! Wins at Monza, Spa, Watkins Glen and Le Mans in 1968 and Sebring and Le Mans in 1969 apart from secondary level events fell to the 5 litre beastie. From Ford’s point of view, as 1968 unfolded, they didn’t need the P3L as they thought they did when the car was mooted in mid-1967.

Denny Hulme, McLaren M7A Ford- 2nd behind Graham Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford, 1968 Mexican GP Jarama (unattributed)

Whilst the Ford DFV delivered bigtime in F1 from its debut win at Zandvoort in 1967 it was a sprint not an endurance design, the 3.9 litre endurance DFL Le Mans winner came much later. As the roster of GP teams and privateers formed a queue at Duckworth’s Northhampton door he was up to his armpits in conrods keeping up with the manufacture of engines, rebuilds and ongoing development of the 90 degree V8 to keep ahead of the Matra, BRM and Ferrari twelves. He didn’t have time to mess about with the changes necessary to evolve the DFV into an endurance motor and may well have expressed to Hayes his reservations about the engines being used in an unintended application, with resultant failures- and the risk to Ford’s reputation in relation thereto!

 In addition ‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’; Ford were winning Grands Prix and World Titles, the Escort was winning rallies, the Ford Indy engine won its share in the US, the Boss 302 Mustang was a winner on three continents- ‘who needs a sportscar program when we have winning global programs and local ones?’ such as that in Australia where Ford GTHO’s were dominant/competitive in touring car racing- may well have been the views of FoMoCo’s top brass.

 On 12 March 1969 a Porsche 917 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show- the ante was being upped by the 4.5 litre Porsche, and soon too Ferrari with their 5 litre V12 512S, the P3L was destined to be a bit player in this company even if they were reliable.

‘And so there was no further P3L publicity from the prolific Ford writers, no explanations, no excuses as to why they hadn’t swept the 1969 board: in fact nothing more than a deathly hush’ wrote Jenkinson…whilst the remains of the P68’s left over from the Ford Open Sports build were moved, interred really, to a hangar at Fair Oaks aerodrome, near Chobham, Surrey not too far from Byfleet where they were born little more than eighteen months before.

 Sad really for such stunning, fast, under-developed and prepared cars- the P3L’s were on the cusp of delivering all their looks promised but for the application of some race and developmental basics for a professional team like Ford/AMR…

Designers original intent- Ford press shot (Ford)

Chassis Numbers et al…

Treat this as being indicative rather than definitive, none of my usual online sources have neato, fully debated and therefore resolved  summaries of which P68 is which. I have relied mainly on the opinion of Richard Thwaites who owned ‘1001’ for years- but provided the information on the P68’s after he had sold his car and therefore he had no vested interest in the outcome of his particular version of events.

Owners claims always need to be treated with a degree of circumspection during the period in which they own cars in my experience. In most cases the connection between bullshit and the upward trajectory of the fiscal sale implications of the bucket of bolts in question seems way too often to be a temptation even the most devout Catholic of owners fall prey to.

McLaren F3L P68 with one of the works Porsche 907’s behind, Brands 6 Hour 1968 (AMR)

F3L P68 #’1000′ or ’01’

The #34 McLaren/Spence Brands 1968 car Richard Thwaites believes is the car he acquired from Australian Ian Cummins who in turn bought it from Kiwi Gavin Bain who had part-exchanged it in a deal with Tom Wheatcroft.

‘..I am sure it is the one that raced in the BOAC 500 in 1968 as the bodywork is identical to race pictures and the car came with solid discs. I believe David Piper’s original car is the one that was built after Irwin’s crash and subsequently raced in the 1969 BOAC 500. My car did not have the holes in the alloy bodywork for the wing supports, nor were there any signs of welded patches. When I bought the car chassis ‘No 1000′ was dynotaped on the dashboard…the car was later sold by Gregor Fisken’

Rare shot of Jochen Rindt in an F3L P68 before the engine popped, Brands 6 Hour practice 1968 (LAT)

F3L P68 #’1001′ or ’02’

Rindt/Spence car at Brands 1968-unraced. Destroyed in Irwin’s 1968 Nurburgring crash.

One version of events is that the car was progressively stripped of useful parts and the remains scrapped- this is the theory to which I subscribe.

The other (David Pipers) is that the remains were retained by Len Bailey after AMR closed and were rebuilt by ex-AMR chief mechanic Brian Lewis in modern times. Raced by Piper and others and later bought by Alan Mann.

Richard Thwaites ‘The Piper continuation car has nothing to do with F3L history. No part of the car is original and it only looks like an F3L because it has a fibreglass replica body with about 10 inches added on the engine cover to cover the extended wheelbase’.

Car has a modern AMR chassis plate ‘P67-F3L-002’ (P67 is not a typo

1969 Brands 6 Hour vista behind Amon’s Ferrari 312P. 55 Elford/Attwood and 54 Mitter/Schutz Porsche 908/02’s, 58 Denny Hulme aborad the F3L P68 he shared with Frank Gardner, 908/02 alongside is Herrmann/Stommelen, blue T70 Mk3B Lola is Taylor/Dibley, red Lola T70 3B is Hawkins/Williams and the white one Sid Taylor’s car driven by Revson/Axelsson…and the rest! (unattributed)

F3L P68 #’1002′ or ’03’

New car built up after the Irwin crash. Raced in the 1969 BOAC 500 by Hulme/Gardner. Eventually to Tom Wheatcroft and then to David Piper

Gardner, F3L P69, Brands 1969- pretty as a picture without the wings! (unattributed)

F3L P69

The car was cut up by AMR after the BOAC 500 debacle in 1969- tested and practiced but did not race.

No doubt the chassis number mystery is ‘resolved’ in the Ed Heuvink book ‘Alan Mann Racing F3L/P68’- if anybody has a copy fill us all in. The jist of the above is right even if the precise minutae is not- noting the veracity and precision of the minutae is critical in these matters of historic accuracy.

Talented craftsmen at AMR Byfleet during the first F3L build. Alan Mann in suit (AMR)

Arcane Irrelevance…

After his first lap in the early, unwieldy, recalcitrant Porsche 917 during the ’69 Nurburgring 1000 km, I’m sure Frank Gardner wished he was in his nifty, nimble, small, responsive, fast…if somewhat unreliable P3L- he qualified the P3L fifth in 1968 and tenth in the Panzer-Wagen in 1969. Mind you, the pace of change, particularly in tyre technology back then is such that his time in the 917 was 4.7 seconds quicker than in the F3L the year before. Gardner and David Piper were 8th in the race won by the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/2.

(unattributed)

Bibliography…

Autosport 22 March 1968 article by John Bolster, ‘The Nostalgia Forum Ford P68’ thread in particular the contributions of Doug Nye and Richard Thwaites, ‘Classic and Sportscar’ February 1996, MotorSport April 1970 article by Denis Jenkinson and June 2008 article by Paul Lawrence, Darren Galpin’s International Race Report

Photo Credits…

Alan Mann Racing, Getty Images, Vic Berris, Brendan McInerney, David Keep/oldracephotos.com.au, Manfred Forster, David Phipps, LAT, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Ain’t she sweet…

(AMR)

Finito…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

John Goss’ Tornado Ford leads a gaggle of sportscars on the drop between the Water Tower and The Viaduct, Longford, Saturday 2 March 1968…

I wrote this piece a while back and now seems a good time to post it given one of Tasmania’s finest, Gossy himself was awarded an Order of Australia for services to motor sports in last weekend-and-a-bit’s Queens Birthday Honours announcements. Off the back of that achievement Terry Sullivan started a The Nostalgia Forum thread which now contains some marvellous Goss photos, many from Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au archive which have never seen the light of day before- check TNF out;

https://forums.autosport.com/topic/209938-john-goss-on-queens-honours-list/

Back to Longford- it’s the Saturday race day, the Monday Labour Day holiday was Tasman Cup day, that year the feature race was won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA F2 car in a notoriously wet, perilous day of motor-racing. Sadly it was the last in Longford’s relatively short but very sweet period as a road racing track. Click here for my article on the 1968 Longford Tasman;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Goss, future Bathurst and Australian Grand Prix winner is leading Kerry Cox’s Paramount Jaguar, three-times Australian Grand Prix winner Doug Whiteford’s works Datsun Fairlady, Bert Howard’s Lola Mk1 Climax, the partially obscured Lotus 23 Ford of Alan Ling and then Peter Mawdesley in a Lotus Super 7. Out front out of shot is the ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am driven by Chris Amon from Ian Cook’s Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400 Repco, Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev, Lionel Ayers MRC Ford and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford. The opening shot shown is the second group of cars.

I wrote an article a while back about John Goss including a bit on the Tornado, click on the link to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/03/john-goss-bathurst-1000-and-australian-grand-prix-winner/

The following shot is of Gossy losing Tornado on his turn-in to The Viaduct, I wonder if its the same lap! I think not, the track looks wet, which makes it the Monday. Amon’s Ferrari was pushed off the grid with a flat battery- he started the 10 lapper with 2 laps down and finished third- and did 178 mph in the wet conditions on The Flying Mile. Peter Macrow won in Tony Osborne’s Argo Chev from Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford.

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Credits…

David Keep/oldracephotos.com, Lindsay Ross Collection, Rob Bartholomaeus

Etcetera: Autosportsman article on the Tornado Ford, courtesy Lindsay Ross’ Collection…

Tailpiece: Amon’s 480bhp Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 monstering Gossy’s 200bhp Tornado Ford out of Newry, Longford 1968…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

During the dry Sports Car Scratch race on the Saturday Chris won from Ian Cook in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 Repco V8 and Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev.

Amon, awfully comfortable in the P4/CanAm 350- in addition to his Ferrari F1 commitments he raced the cars in both the 1967 endurance races and some Can Am rounds, set an all-time Longford lap record of 2:16.2 undercutting Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW time of 2:13.0 earlier in the day. Mighty quick. Mind you, that summer Frank Matich beat Chris’ Ferrari in the Matich SR3 Repco in the other Australian Tasman round sportscar support events. But FM did not cross Bass Straight to do Longford- sad! Those battles on that circuit would really have been something to see!

Finito…

Graham Hill with his new Doppelganger, London, 10 October 1968…

With him is Austrian actress Loni Von Friedl who appeared in ‘Doppelganger’, a movie which is the subject of this promotion, an activity which seems quite agreeable to the great Brit. The car, also a movie-star was ‘designed and built by Alan Mann Racing, has a Ford engine and chassis, is 44 inches high and is capable of 144 mph’.

The film, also called ‘Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun’ in some countries has a screenplay written by Gerry and Sylivia Anderson of ‘Thunderbirds’ and other 1960’s ‘Supermarionation’ puppet TV series fame- well known to those of us of a particular generation.

Set one-hundred years into the future, the film is about a joint European-NASA mission to investigate a planet in a parallel position to Earth and ends in disaster with the death of one of the astronauts- his colleague discovers that the planet is a mirror image of earth. Click here for some more detailed information about the movie which first screened in 1969; https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064519/

Who gives a rats about the movie for most of us! As to the car, I can find out a little bit, Alan Mann Racing has a great website but the car does not rate a mention there so I am intrigued to know more about the detailed design.

It seems the styling of the futuristic car (three were built for the film) was the work of Derek Meddings, the machines were ‘redressed slightly’ for a subsequent movie named ‘UFO’. The donor chassis was a Ford Zodiac Mk4 with the shapely aluminium body draped thereon. The gull-wing doors did not actually work, someone such as Hill G, or off camera during the movie was required to support a door.

‘The actors reported that the cars were very unpleasant to drive in, as there was not enough headroom, engine exhaust fumes spilled into the interior…and the cars were not fast, so many scenes were sped up to simulate a fast-moving vehicle’. The bones of the car still exist and will no doubt make an interesting curio at race/concours meetings when completed.

Photo and Other Credits…

PA Images/Joe Bangay Getty, projectswordtoys.BlogSpot.com

Tailpiece: Another of Doppelganger’s cars, Loni and a bloke…

Finito…

(TEN)

Dan Gurney’s Lola T70 Ford during the Stardust Grand Prix, Las Vegas Can Am round, 13 November 1966…

Gurney didn’t have a great weekend, the fuel injected Gurney Weslake aluminium headed Lola qualified eighth and failed to finish with a fuel tank breather problem. John Surtees won the race and the series in a Lola T70 Mk2 Chev. The photo got me thinkin’ about those cylinder heads…

AAR Lola T70 Gurney Weslake Ford V8, Las Vegas 1966 (D Friedman)

Dan from Phil Hill, Chaparral 2E Chev, Las Vegas 1966 (D Friedman)

As above, ditto Gurney below (D Friedman)

The Gurney-Weslake combination is best known for the Formula 1 60 degree, DOHC, four valve, Lucas injected V12 which was fitted into the gorgeous Eagle Mk1 created by Len Terry and Dan in 1966- initially fitted with a Coventry Climax 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPF four cylinder engine, the V12 finally raced at Monza in 1966 and won its only GP, at Spa in mid 1967. But the F1 project resulted from the relationship which arose from the development of special cylinder heads for the pushrod small-block Ford V8 a little earlier.

Gurney’s Belgian GP victory, Spa 1967. Surely one of the 5 best looking GP cars ever? Eagle Mk1 Weslake chassis ‘104’- path to the F1 relationship between Dan and the Weslake concern was via the Ford V8 program which preceded it (unattributed)

Len Terry designed Eagle Mk1 powered by Gurney-Weslake V12, 1966. Cutaway by Bill Bennett

Gurney was keen to better exploit the performance potential of the small-block 289 cid Ford V8 with which he was so familiar from his AC Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40 and Can Am experiences.

This engine family was the same as that which provided the first 255 cid pushrod engines used by Team Lotus at Indy in the rear of Lotus 29’s raced by Dan and Jim Clark in 1963. Whilst Dan’s plan was initially to get more competitive engines for the Sports Car Club of America’s burgeoning sportscar races, which would of course become the Can-Am Championship from 1966, the Gurney-Weslake V8 engines ultimately won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and races in Group 7 sportscars and Indycar single-seater categories and beyond.

Dan had seen what Keith Duckworth had done with pushrod Ford engines in the UK- 100 bhp per litre, and figured the same approach could be successfully applied to the Ford V8.

‘I heard that Duckworth had modified a four-cylinder Ford Anglia cylinder head by boring an inlet tract hole straight at the port, so it was a more direct shot and I believe that was the first time that a little four-cylinder 1000cc pushrod engine made 100 horsepower. It seemed to me to be a pretty neat thing to accomplish and, naturally, being inquisitive, I wondered if the same idea could be applied to a Ford V8, since it looked to me as though we could do something similar to the 289-302 style engine’.

‘Actually we began our inquest with an extensive rework of the existing 271 bhp heads. At the peak of our testing with the 271 hp cast iron heads on a 325 inch block, we were pulling as much as 448 hp on gasoline. It was about this time we figured a few improvements along the lines of a new head design might give us even more power, so we got after it’.

Dan sought out Weslake Engineering just outside Rye near the East Sussex coast of England and via Production Manager Michael Daniel engaged them to do some drawings after Gurney delivered some 289 heads to be inspected, analysed and sectioned.

Harry Weslake in his factory in April 1968 with a Read-Weslake 500cc GP motorcycle engine (S Sherman)

Patterns were made and these first ‘Mark 1’ Gurney-Weslake heads were cast at Alcoa Aluminium’s foundry in Pennysylvania.

They featured circular inlet ports that provided a direct path from manifold interface to valve seat in order to get as much fuel-air mixture as possible into the combustion chambers. The valves were inclined at 9 degrees to the cylinder centreline instead of the 20 degree angle of the stock Ford heads. The valve guides were fitted with Perfect Circle teflon valve seals. Classic Weslake combustion chamber shapes were deployed- heart shaped with precision machined valve seat inserts- steel for the inlets and bronze for the exhausts, both press-fits into the heads.

Early G-W Ford on 48 IDA Webers- ‘DG asked Weslake & Co to reate a cylinder head…that provided a direct pathway for the fuel mixture from carburettor to inlet valve, as can be seen from this head-on view…’ (AAR)

Front view shows the ‘standard’ Ford block and drives, oil filter, distributor, 48 IDA downdraft two-barrel Webers, ally heads (AAR)

An immediate improvement of 70-100 bhp was achieved over the standard 289-302 heads both through the mid to upper rpm ranges without losing smoothness down low. To cope with the increased loadings the bottom end also ‘had a birthday’ with bits and pieces provided by well known suppliers of US performance gear.

The Dearborn Crankshaft Corporation made a steel crank to AAR specifications which sat in bearings donated by the Ford DOHC Indy motor. Carrillo provided shot-peened conrods to which were attached Forged True pistons- compression ratios ranged from 10.5 to 11.6 to one. Jack Engle worked on cam grinds arriving at solutions which involved short lift and long duration with ‘rev springs’ fitted into the block’s oil galleries to assist the proper seating of the valves at high rpm. Ford’s stock high pressure oil pump was man enough for the job with stock oil pans baffled and main bearing girdles added to keep the whole lot stabile.

Times GP Riverside, McLaren Elva Mk1 Ford G-W, 1965 (TEN)

The Gurney-Weslake heads were first used by Dan during the 200 mile LA Times Grand Prix sportscar race at Riverside in late October 1965 fitted to his McLaren Elva Mk1

In an all-star cast which included Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Hap Sharp, John Cannon, Peter Revson, Chuck Parsons, Jerry Titus, David Hobbs, Bob Bondurant, Parnelli Jones, Richie Ginther, Graham Hill, Jerry Grant, Walt Hansgen, and Dan (wow!- was there ever a better ‘Can-Am’ field of depth)- that race was won by Sharp’s Chaparral 2A Chev from Clark’s Lotus 40 Ford and McLaren’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds. Dan’s AAR McLaren was out with brake troubles on lap 24. By that stage of G-W development Mark 2 heads were fitted which incorporated improvements including removable rocker arm studs.

Monterey GP weekend, Laguna Seca October.1966. DNF lap 4 with an undisclosed ailment, Lola T70 Ford with Mk 3 G-W heads- note still on 48 IDA Weber carbs (D Friedman)

 

Laguna 1966. By this meeting the G-W engine developed 520 bhp and 415 lb ft of torque @ 6300 rpm (D Friedman)

 

Hmmm, too short a race- Laguna 1966, Lola T70 Ford DNF after 4 laps from Q4- behind the 1st and 2nd placed Chaparral 2E Chevs of Phil Hill and Jim Hall and 3rd placed Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M1B Chev (D Friedman)

‘Mark 3’ Gurney Weslake heads were developed in 1966 with alterations to make assembly and maintenance easier.

With this configuration AAR took their first GW head win in the May 1966 United States Road Racing Championship round at Bridghampton- Jerry Grant won in the AAR Lola T70 Ford from Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds and Mike Goth in a McLaren Chev.

The same chassis was used by Dan to win the Long Island, Bridghampton Can-Am round in September 1966- in a splendid weekend for All American Racers Dan popped the Lola T70 Mk2 on pole and won from the works McLaren M1B Chevs of McLaren and Amon. Sadly, it was the only Can-Am win for a Ford powered car. 495 bhp @ 7800 rpm was claimed at the time ‘The redline used to be 8000 rpm but I just found I could turn 8900’ Dan quipped after the race.

Its interesting to look at the engine competition at the time. Pete Lyons in his bible ‘Can-Am’ writes ‘Chevrolet’s small block was the typical T70 engine of 1966, and those offered by well respected Traco Engineering in Los Angeles can be considered definitive. The bore remained standard at 4.0in but a stroker crank of 3.625in gave a displacement of 364.4 cid. Breathing thorough a quartet of two-barrel 58mm Weber side-draft carburettors…such a package was rated at about 490bhp at 6800 rpm and 465 lb ft of torque at 4500…it weighed about 540-560 lbs. Price was just under $US5000’.

Rindt’s Eagle Mk2 G-W Ford on the Indy weighbridge in May 1967, sex on wheels (D Friedman)

 

Len Terry’s Eagle Mk1 design was a bit of a pork chop in F1- designed as it was for both GP and USAC (Mk2 50 pounds heavier than its F1 brother) use. The design drew heavily on his previous Lotus work and is a beautiful, in every respect, expression of monocoque orthodoxy of the day in both chassis and suspension (D Friedman)

Towards the end of 1966 the engine was also fitted to the very first Eagle Indycar chassis- Mk2 ‘201’ which was raced by Dan in the ’66 Indy with a Ford 255cid DOHC motor- in fact Gurney didn’t complete a lap having been wiped out with eleven other cars in THAT famous collision. In the re-engined Ford G-W 305 cid powered car Jochen Rindt contested the 1967 Indy 500- he qualified 32nd and retired after completing 108 of the 200 laps with valve trouble- classified 24th. His was the only 305 cid ‘stock block’ powered car in the field, the race won by AJ Foyt Coyote Ford from Al Unser and Joe Leonard in Ford engined Lola and Coyote respectively.

‘chewin the fat- lots of downtime for drivers during the month of May at Indy- youthful Amon, Hulme and Rindt in 1967. Dude on the left folks? (D Friedman)

Eagle Mk2 ‘201’. Hilborn injected G-W V8, metering unit between body cowl and injection trumpets, quality of build and finish superb. Note beautiful body cowl and nerf bar (D Friedman)

Further development work resulted in the ‘Mark 4’ variant which was lighter in weight with narrower rocker covers and an intake manifold inclined towards the engines centreline.

Into 1967 AAR’s Can-Am engine was based on Ford’s new ‘mid-sized’ block stroked to 377cid- Dan’s Lola T70 was often the best of the ‘non-McLaren M6 Chev’ class in a year of dominance from the Kiwi’s with their beautiful papaya cars. Pole at Riverside was a standout.

Fitted with a Mark 4 engine, but 318 cid, gave Dan and the G-W engine’s first USAC win in the Rex Mays 300 at Riverside in November 1967. His Eagle Mk3 won from pole from the Bobby Unser Eagle Mk3 Ford ‘Indy’ V8 and Mario Andretti’s Brawner Ford on the challenging 2.6 mile California road course. Gurney achieved six more USAC Championship wins over the next two years and finished second twice on the trot at Indy in 1968 in a Mk3 and in 1969 in a Mk7 ‘Santa Ana’.

Changes to USAC rules for stock-block engines ultimately allowed the G-W motors to displace 318 cid- on methanol they were good for 560 bhp @ 7500 rpm in 1968 with circa 600 in 1969. On petrol a sprint 289 was good for as much as 506 bhp @ 7800 rpm and a good 305 520 hp.

DG testing his 1968 Tony Southgate designed USAC weapon, the Mk4 G-W V8 at Riverside, warm down lap without the goggles. Ho took 3 race wins and Bobby Unser 3 in a customer car including the Indy 500, Ford Indy DOHC V8 powered (AAR)

Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W front and rear- front and rear suspension utterly period typical- very successful Southgate design (AAR)

For the 1968 Can-Am AAR acquired a McLaren M6B and in a ‘lightness and dash policy’ took over 100 pounds out of the car by a cocktail of small-block 325 cid Ford G-W and the smaller, lighter Hewland DG300 gearbox. The track dimensions were narrower, the body lighter with a lower, longer nosepiece and suspension arms, exhaust system, gear linkage and bracketry were re-made out of titanium. The car was renamed McLeagle! It wasn’t enough of course, the Bruce and Denny M8A Chev 427 alloy blocked cars rolled over the top of the McLeagle, Lola T160, Ferrari 612P and all else in their path- Denny Can-Am champ that year.

In 1968 and 1969 the John Wyer entered, Gulf sponsored Ford GT40 chassis ‘1075’ won the Le Mans classic fitted with Gurney-Weslake Ford engines.

The honours were taken by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi in ’68 and Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver in ’69. In 1968/9 despite the Mk1 GT40 hardly being in the full flush of youth the gorgeous, somewhat heavy G-W engined machines won many endurance classics against more modern Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Matra and Ferrari’s (in 1969)- the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour, Monza 1000 Km, Spa 1000 Km, Watkins Glen 6 Hour and 1969 Sebring 12 Hour and Spa 1000 Km.

In period the Le Mans winning engines gave circa 440 bhp @ 6800 rpm- that is 302 cid Ford V8, Gurney Weslake heads fed by four Weber 48IDA carbs.

Lucien Bianchi, Pedro and the boys after the ’68 Le Mans win- ‘1075’ one of the most famous of all Le Mans winners with two notches on its belt (unattributed)

John Wyer GT40 at the factory circa 1969. Note the Gurney Eagle’ rocker covers, FIA mandated luggage framework above the exhausts, engine and trasaxle radiar tors and Firestone tyres (unattributed)

In a busy 1968 for AAR, in a commercial approach to capitalise on the cylinder head designs Gurney started to make modified versions of the heads cast in LM8 aluminium by the Aeroplane and Motor Foundry in England for road cars.

The racers Hilborn fuel injection was replaced with a four-barrel carb. Anticipating a large order from Ford, the heads had detuned combustion chambers and were of a budget design. They could be machined with different sized ports and/or valve sizes to the specification of the full racing heads despite some of the internal passageways being of differing sizes to the race heads.

When no manufacturer (Ford or Lincoln/Mercury) chose to fit the heads Dan was left with an enormous stockpile of them. ‘It didn’t’ happen because no-one big enough got behind it. If someone like Henry (Ford II) would have said “Hey guys, why don’t you do this?”, that would have been all it would have taken’ offered Gurney. A trial assembly run was arranged by Gar Laux, head of Lincoln-Mercury but perhaps the idea fell foul of the ‘not invented here’ notion.

Many of the surplus heads were converted to as near as racing specifications as the Gurney factory could make them and were fitted to Indy cars. None of these heads were fitted ‘in period’ to GT40’s. All GT40 heads were made at the William Mills foundry and were a higher grade casting with the full race combustion chambers, porting and passageways. The Airplane and Motor cast heads were usually branded as Gurney Eagle although some will over time have been retro fitted with Gurney Weslake rocker covers.

This G-W Ford in Dan’s 1969 Eagle Mk7 ‘Santa Ana’ features Mk 4 heads with canted injectors. This close up shows the Hilborn slide injection, lots of ‘Aeroquip’ lines and AAR’s fine attention to engineering detail- checkout the fabrication of those extractors and rather critical throttle components (AAR)

 

Gurney, Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W 305 cid, Indy 1969 (D Friedman)

Into the 1969 Can-Am without the Ford factory support he hoped for Dan raced the same McLeagle with a very special, aluminium 344 cid small-block Ford G-W.

Some of the Can-Am rounds conflicted with his USAC commitments, back at AAR the team toiled with a three valve G-W variant to sit atop specially cast ally Ford blocks. After various development problems kept it off the tracks Dan bought a 7 litre Chev and popped in into the McLeagle, qualifying ninth at Michigan- but tasted a great Can-Am machine when he raced the spare McLaren M8B to third behind Bruce and Denny having started from the rear of the grid.

Pete Lyons wrote ‘…from the back…he passed twelve cars on the first lap…Each lap Dan passed fewer cars but he passed them relentlessly. He gave the impression of being careful, feeling out the car, not risking breaking it, yet the big orange gun shot his black helmet along like a cannonball. When he caught Brabham, he went by so fast the two could hardly exchange glances…’Jack knew exactly how Dan felt as Brabham tested the same car during qualifying- and did a time in a limited number of laps good enough for row two of the grid!

The dark side- 7 litre Chev engined McLaren/McLeagle M6B at Michigan in 1969 (unattributed)

In tragic circumstances, after Bruce’s death at Goodwood, Dan raced a works McLaren M8D Chev with great speed and success until sponsorship conflicts intervened and stopped his campaign short- a great pity as a Hulme/Gurney battle for the 1970 Can-Am title would have been a beauty. It was a fascinating season in the short history of the series inclusive of the Chaparral 2J Chev ‘Sucker’ machine, to have finally seen Dan in a car truly worthy of him would have been something, albeit not G-W Ford powered.

(AAR)

Into 1970 the AAR USAC machine, the ‘7000’ designed by Len Terry was both Offenhauser and Ford G-W powered- and achieved its final G-W stock-block win in Swede Savage’s hands at the season ending finale at Phoenix, the 1971 ‘7100’ was designed by Roman Slobodynski was built to suit the Drake Offy turbo-charged four cylinder engine only.

What a marvellous run the Gurney-Weslake small-block Ford V8’s had…

Swede Savage in the 1970 Indy 150 at the Indianapolis Raceway Park all crossed up in the Eagle 7000 G-W Ford, classified 8th in the race won by Al Unser, Colt Ford Indy V8 (A Upitis)

Etcetera…

AAR Santa Ana workshops circa 1968/9 with 3 litre GW V12 in the foreground and FA/F5000 monocoques behind (unattributed)

 

Dan with gun AAR engine man John Miller ‘Mandrake The Magician’ with G-W Hilborn injected V8 (AAR)

Bibliography…

‘Dan Gurney’s Eagle Racing Cars’ John Zimmerman, ‘Can-Am’ Pete Lyons, gurney-weslake.co.uk, phystutor.tripod.com

Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Dave Friedman Collection, AAR Archive

Tailpiece: Dan aboard his second placegetting Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W, Indy 1968…

(D Friedman)

Finito…

Panther GT clay model, at the October-November 1968 Turin Motor Show…

Scuderia Brescia Corse was founded by a group of racers disaffected by their local governments refusal to reignite the Mille Miglia. The outfit, named after the town where the Mille started, prepared cars of any type for privateers wealthy enough to use their services. The roll-call of their top drivers down the years is impressive and includes Carlo Facetti, Teodoro Zeccoli, Giampiero Moretti, Umberto Maglioli and Nino Vaccarella. The variety of cars raced is also mouth-watering- Porsche 906, Ford GT40, Ferrari 206S, 512M and Alfa T33’s included. By the late sixties the team had become quite successful in regional, national and international events.

At the Bertone stand in Turin Scuderia Brescia Corse showed a model of a car the team intended to build to contest the World Sportscar Championship- shortly thereafter at the Geneva Show the stunning prototype was unveiled.

The car had some quite original thinking including an alloy and titanium monocoque (also described as a spaceframe in some sources) chassis, hydraulically controlled rear spoiler and 24 volt electrics to allow the use of smaller, lighter conductors.

BRM were the intended engine provider- their 3 litre V12 was initially to be the cars motor but in the end the team courted Maserati instead. In time honoured fashion sufficient funding could not be secured so the car withered on the vine- a shame, it would have been a welcome addition to grids awash with variety in the immediate pre-1970 period.

 Credits…

 Getty Images, Petrolicious, Pinterest

 

At 8.10am on 17 July 1964 Donald Campbell aboard Bluebird CN7 Proteus set the World Land Speed Record on South Australia’s Lake Eyre salt pans…

I wrote about this achievement a while back, in fact it was my first longer article, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/16/50-years-ago-today-17-july-1964-donald-campbell-broke-the-world-land-speed-record-in-bluebird-at-lake-eyre-south-australia-a-speed-of-403-10-mph/

One of the wonderful things about the internet is the constant appearance of material on every topic, in this case a nice batch of photos popped onto it by ‘The Adelaide Advertiser’, here they are, too good not to share.

To celebrate Campbell’s achievement the people of Adelaide turned out in droves- about 200,000 flooded the streets of the small city on 25 July to see and hear Bluebird drive up King William Street to the Adelaide Town Hall. Mind you, ‘Beatle-Mania’ hit Adelaide five weeks before when 300,000 fans of the worlds greatest supergroup flooded into the capital.

Campbell also set the World Water Speed Record in 1964, achieving 276.3 mph at Lake Dumbleyung near Perth in Bluebird K7.

Photo Credits…

Adelaide Advertiser

Etcetera: Adelaide Excitement…

Tailpiece…

 

(J Ellacott)

Alec Mildren Racing at Warwick Farm in May 1961, that’s Alec with his back to us and mechanic/engineer Glenn Abbey leaning on the team’s Cooper T51 Maserati’s back wheel…

The ‘Rice’ Trailer behind proclaims Mildren and the Cooper as winners of the 1960 Australian Gold Star Championship drivers award and Australian Grand Prix. In racing terms Mildren, than 46 years old ‘had been around the block’, racing forever.

This article is about Mildren and the happy confluence of factors that enabled him to achieve Mark Donohue’s ‘Unfair Advantage’, win the titles above and reasonably soon thereafter retire from racing himself to ongoing success as a significant importer, motor-dealer and as a team owner/patron of others.

The factors of confluence were experience, his teams engineering capability, his Maserati connections and economic means. Mildren had raced Coopers for years, first a front engined T20 Bristol and then mid-engined F2 T41, T43 and T45, so his choice of chassis was easy! He was a regular enough customer of the boys from Surbiton that they stocked his hue of ‘Mildren Green’ paint. Cooper despatched a brand new Grand Prix T51, chassis ‘F2-22-59’ to Sydney in October 1959.

The engine was trickier though. 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF’s were as rare as hens teeth at that time in the hands of privateers as the works F1 teams had a mortgage on supply. The only dude in Australia who had one was Frank Matich, it was fitted to a Lotus 15 he acquired in the UK- the car was a formidable weapon in Australia’s National F Libre category but not a race winner in Gold Star competition in other than exceptional circumstances. Alec’s single-seater competitors- Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson and Austin Miller would all be making do with 2 or 2.2 litre FPF’s for a while at least.

The successful Maserati 250S engine, front mounted of course in its original environment, was more of a chellenge to fit, but it could be done, Glen Abbey and Alec had the skills and critically the engine was available, sorted, powerful, and could be acquired by a privateer.

And so it was the Canberra racer cleverly adapted the engine to chassis and gearbox, tested it and then went out, beat the best in Australia and then retired to become the patron, mentor and entrant of Ralph Sach, Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart and others.

Mildren got his timing precisely right- by the start of 1961 he was approaching 46, 2.5 FPF’s were arriving in Australia and Stillwell (born 1927) and Patterson (born 1923) who had also been racing for a long time, but were younger than Alec were starting to peak- win and call it quits, who can argue with that as a good strategy for a professional sportsman?

Mildren was a thoroughly decent man, racer and businessman, the General Motors, Alfa Romeo, SAAB etc dealer was one of those fellas who put far more into motor racing than he ever took out of it.

Mildren with Max Stewart on the Warwick Farm grid in 1970, Mildren Waggott 2 litre’ looks like the tail of Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59 Waggott next door (BP)

Going back a step or two Mildren’s parents emigrated to Sydney from Surrey in the UK in 1912…

By the time Alec was born in 1915 at Burwood in Sydney’s inner southwest his father had already established a good business as a master-builder to service the needs of the rapidly growing populations need for housing.

Mildrens interest in cars was whetted at an early age by Vauxhalls his father owned- a 14/40 Speedster and 30/98.

Alec’s drive and determination was no doubt in part due to the difficult circumstances in which he was raised.

On the way back from a holiday over the 1930 Christmas period the family were returning home to Sydney when a tyre of the car his father was driving blew causing the car to roll. Both his parents were killed in the accident, with Alec in the back seat the only survivor. One can only imagine the trauma the 15 year old boy/youth felt. He moved in with his 10 years older brother, wife and family but did not last long, moving out to live on his own aged 16. The brother continued the family home constrction business.

Inner city Darlinghurst was a tough place for a youngster to be but Alec moved into a small bed-sit, and despite the economic savagery of the depression found work pumping fuel and as a milkmans mate. On long walks on the weekend he would surf at Bondi and take a shower.

Before too long he walked into the naval depot in nearby Rushcutters Bay, saw a recruitment ad and joined up. His timing was perfect, having run down the military with budget cuts for years the Australian Government were putting money back into defence as global uncertainty increased- Fascism was on the rise most notably in Germany and Italy.

He was posted to the Communications Centre as a consequence of his education, he had completed his Intermediate Certificate whilst living with his brother. He was later posted to the Flinders base in Victoria and served in the Mediterranean. On a trip to the UK in the late thirties he visited Brooklands and saw the German cars at Donington. He returned from this trip with some goodies for his Austin 7 Ulster- a Laystall crank and rods, Scintilla magneto and a close ratio four-speed gearbox.

By this stage he had met future wife and life partner Marjorie- they were married in August 1939 but soon he was off to War together with most of the other young innocents on the planet. He saw active service in intelligence operations aboard HMAS Hobart in Europe but was invalided out of the Navy as medically unfit after a bad fall aboard ship.

After return to Australia and release from Randwick Hospital he sat his accountancy exams- having studied in his spare time whilst in the Navy and soon commenced working for what is now Price Waterhouse Coopers as an auditor in Sydney. In 1942 son Jeffrey arrived.

He soon moved to The Department of Supply and ‘backyarded’ some used cars- how many racers have motor-trading in their CV?! In a further example of his entrepreneurial flair he bought a cab in 1944 and did very nicely ferrying cashed up ‘Yanks’ around Sydney on shore-leave from ships fighting in the South Pacific, in the same year second son Raymond was born.

At the end of the War Alec sold his ‘taxi-plate’- his licence for a tidy sum and again dealt in cars. Soon he was also employed in the game by ‘University Motor Auctions’. At about the same time he started his long racing career with the purchase of a Singer Le Mans, this was soon replaced by the ex-Ben Tarr Ford Spl.

Mildren in the self built AGM Ford V8 Spl at the Nowra naval base, NSW in 1947 (Mildren)

As Mildren’s business flourished so too did the quality and competitiveness of the cars he raced. In Melbourne his fellow contemporary racers Stan Jones and Bib Stillwell were on similar racing and car dealing journeys- Jones with only his own resources like Mildren and Stillwell with adequate family backing to ease his way into the game.

The Mildren family decision to set up shop in Canberra was made after a number of trips ferrying cars from Sydney to Canberra to a friend who was operating from the national capital. He and Marjorie acquired some land in Lonsdale Street, Braddon and built a small dealership premises and an adjoining flat in which they lived. All of the profits of the business were ploughed back in to finance stock- soon they applied for, and were granted General Motors franchises for Vauxhall and Bedford.

Mildren in the Dixon Riley at Sydney’s Parramatta Park track in 1951 (Mildren)

Alec in this posed shot at Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW 1954. Self developed MG Spl (Mildren)

Whilst the family lived modestly behind the dealership Mildren continued to race contesting the 1948 Australian Grand Prix at Point Cook in Melbourne’s west aboard a self-built AGM Ford V8 Spl he built in 1947.

This was replaced by an MG TB he ran from circa 1949 to 1951 prior to acquisition of the ex-John Snow Dixon Riley which was completely rebuilt upon purchase in 1951, but still gave plenty of grief in terms of the cars speed and reliability!

In 1953 he bought a very famous MG, Alan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl which won the 1939 AGP on Australia’s most daunting road circuit, Lobethal in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. He replaced the old war-horses heavy body with a Clive Adams built central-seat aluminium one which slipped through the air nicely. The mechanically very capable Alec replaced the TA engine with a supercharged TC unit and close ratio gearbox. The car was very quick- Alec accepted an offer from Curley Brydon to buy it after the Gnoo Blas meeting in 1953.

Mildren Cooper T20 Bristol, Mount Druitt (Des Lawrence)

His passion for Rileys undiminished, he next bought the Rizzo Riley before buying his first ‘outright in the right circumstances’ contender, the ex Rodney Nuckey Cooper T20 Bristol which made its debut at Mount Druitt in 1955.

Jack Brabham’s T23 would have been a better purchase when ‘Blackie’ went off to seek fame and fortune in The Land of The Pom but Stan Jones ‘nicked’ that machine from other locals in his ever expanding garage(s).

Acquired in the UK, Alec’s new car was a serious bit of kit which had won the 1953/4 Helsinki GP’s. He remembers the car mainly in a positive way, he liked the cars handling, braking and steering- ‘I won a few short races with it, but no long ones of any consequence. I can’t say that I went out to buy Bristol engines- the one I had was very temperamental’. In long Australian careers all five of the T20/23 Cooper Bristols which came to Australia had their engines replaced by either Holden ‘Grey’ six cylinder engines, sometimes fitted with a Phil Irving designed Repco ‘Hi-Power’ head or Chev Corvette V8’s.

A mistake in the cars preparation when a fuel line leaked onto the exhaust during the Argus Trophy at Albert Park hospitalised the gritty motor-trader overnight and took a while to recover from but his increasing flair was on display at his first post-prang meeting at Southport, Queensland when he finished 3rd behind Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 and Stan Jones Maybach in November 1955.

The organisers of the New Zealand Grand Prix invited him to contest their 1956 event at Ardmore but the Cooper had the look of a start-line special when the Bristol engines head gasket blew having covered only 20 yards after the start. In late 1956 he also commenced racing an Aston DB2/4- profits were on the up! After the 1957 AGP at Caversham, Western Australia, with Alec fifth in a race famous for its vicious heat, he sold the car to local gun, Syd Negus.

Mildren, Cooper T41 Climax, Lowood 1957 (Mildren)

Cooper T41, twin SU fed Coventry Climax 1.5 litre SOHC FWB engine (Mildren)

Mildren went mid-engined for the first time with purchase of Jack Brabham’s 1956 Oulton Park Gold Cup winning F2 Cooper T41 Climax FWB.

‘When I first drove it down my practice strip near home I couldn’t believe how good it was…how the brakes and steering worked and the car drove better than anything I had had. I entered a Bathurst Easter meeting and I couldn’t believe it when I passed the Ferrari’s and Maserati’s (250F) because its such a little car, so handleable!’

By now the self-fulfilling prophecy of better cars giving better results was clear to Mildren- if that was ever in doubt! His next acquisition was his first ‘brand spankers’ racing car- the latest F2 Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 twin-cam.

Mildren wasn’t convinced it was much better a car than its predecessor until taken out to 2 litres with a liner kit, pistons and sleeves he sourced from Coventry Climax via Jack Brabham. In that form he contested the ’58 AGP at Bathurst finishing 7th in the race having been hit during practice and pitting twice.

He won the ’58 Queensland Road racing Championship and Lowood Trophy- beating Stan Jones and Reg Hunts Maser 250F’s, the first time in Oz a Cooper had beaten the Big Red Cars.

This car was sold to Glynn Scott who raced it successfully with Mildren buying a new Cooper T45- delivered to Melbourne prior to the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix, Alec and Glenn Abbey, then a youth who would become a longtime Mildren mechanic/engineer fitted the 2 litre FPF from the T43.

Alec was in with a shot for the ’58 Gold Star along with Stan Jones and Len Lukey but Stanley won the final round at Phillip Island aboard his Maser 250F and took the title he so richly deserved. Like Alec he was a perennial racer who had been competing nationally for almost as long as Mildren.

Mildren aboard his Cooper T45 Climax 2 litre FPF at Port Wakefield, South Australia in 1959. Those trademark prescription race goggles were made by Merowytch in London- in 1960 he switched to glasses and a visor (K Drage)

Bill Patterson’s T51 tail, Keith Rilstone’s Zephyr Spl with Alec, Cooper T45, Port Wakefield 1959 (K Drage)

In many ways Len Lukey’s successful 1959 Gold Star campaign was a prototype of Alec’s in 1960- buy the very best Cooper available, contest all the rounds with adequate back-up, drive fast and well but play the percentages, and the title will surely be yours.

Lukey won at Caversham and Phillip Island and whilst Alec was victorious at Fishermans Bend and Lowood twice, Lukey took the title by only 2 points from Alex with greater consistency.

Magnificent shot of Alec holding off Stan Jones during the Bathurst 100, Cooper T45 and Maser 250F, Easter 1959 (Mildren)

The title could easily have been Alec’s were it not for some misfortune during the Bathurst 100 round. He led until the 5th lap and then pitted to secure the loose bonnet cover having been black-flagged. He re-entered the race and with red mist in his eyes was up to 2nd behind Ross Jensen’s Maser 250F when a conrod bolt broke- he shut the engine down, but it cost him 6 valuable points to Lukey. When they tore the engine down there was damage only to the conrod- the precious crank was ok.

Cooper T51 Maser 250S, Longford 1960 (R Lambert)

Cooper T51 Maserati 250S, a pair of big Weber DCO3 carbs, Warwick Farm (Bob Britton)

As 1960 approached the Cooper Maserati was made race-ready…

The Maserati engine was no fluke, the approach to the factory was a function of Mildren ‘selling a few at the time’, he was an accredited dealer of the marque. The Cooper Masers in the UK suffered chronically from overheating so Mildren specified his to be built to suit methanol fuel, with the motor having a higher compression ratio than usual. These engines were fitted to the (1957) Maser 250S sportscar- four of which were built so fitted. Other 250S engines were fitted to update earlier Maser sporties with some sold to customers and fitted into other chassis’.

Initially the Mildren car used a Cooper Jack Knight splash-fed gearbox, later Alec acquired a pressure-fed ‘box from Jack Brabham after the Longford 1960 meeting. ‘This helped but by no means solved one of the cars problems, the fragility of its earlier model Cooper gearbox. The punch of the Maserati engine could still create little indentations on its bronze bushes, and easily peel the teeth off first gear, even with careful treatment Mildren described it as a “one practice, one race” gearbox before it needed overhauls’ Graham Howard wrote.

T51 first gearbox, Cooper Knight box, ERSA built original ex-Citroen (B Britton)

Despite the bulk of the 250S engine in relation to the mass of the 2.5 CC FPF for which the T51 chassis was built, Mildren and Abbey were able to mount the engine lower in Owen Maddocks frame than the taller FPF. One top chassis tube was modified to clear the twin 48 DCO Webers, the Cooper chassis ‘slightly strengthened’ with water and oil radiators enlarged due to engines requirements, a learning from experience with the motors use in the UK. The team also managed to fabricate driveshafts of equal length, unlike the Cooper Masers in the UK.

An adaptor plate or bellhousing was cast and machined locally to mate engine to gearbox and exhaust pipes were fabricated to clear the frame and ancillaries to dimensions specified by Maserati. The motor gave circa 270 bhp @ 7800 rpm- more than enough to do the goods amongst the 1960 Oz competitor set. Let’s not forget that the car was the first full Grand Prix specification machine Alec had driven, he was stepping up a class from what had gone before.

Alec’s 2 litre Cooper T45 Climax being pushed thru the Gnoo Blas paddock in January 1960- a successful weekend for the team- Glenn Abbey in blue, who is the other chap I wonder (Kelsey)

The season started well with a win in the Cooper T45 Climax at Gnoo Blas, Orange in late January. Alec won the South Pacific Road racing Championship during the Australian Touring Car Championship meeting averaging 103 mph and taking a second off Brabham’s lap record. He sold the car at the end of the weekend to future CAMS President John Roxburgh.

The 1960 Gold Star season started with the International meetings, the frst of which was at Longford in early March, there Alec was 2nd behind Brabham’s Cooper T51 2.5. Whilst in Tassie he accepted an invitation to compete at the opening Symmons Plains meeting- he and Arnold Glass’s 250F entertained the crowds with lots of passing but the Cooper Maser took the honours and its first win.

Longford paddock 1960, Austin Miller topless beside his yellow Cooper T51 Climax, then Arnold Glass’ Maser 250F and Alex fettling his car beside his ‘Rice’ Trailer (R Lambert)

Mildren at Longford in 1960, lines of Coopers of this era so distinctive (E French/Walkem Family)

Start of the Longford Trophy in 1960, what a marvellous panorama. Cooper T51’s to the fore L>R Brabham, Millers yellow car and Bib Stilwell, the Glass red 250F further right (Ellis/oldracephotos.com)

At Easter for the Bathurst 100 Mildren took a dominant win with the car timed at 160.71 mph over the flying mile. Glass was 2nd and Bill Patterson 3rd in Maser 250F and Cooper T51 FPF 2 litre. ‘The victory was immensely popular with 25,000 spectators, the crowd giving him one of the loudest ovations then heard at the popular track…to slash more than five minutes from Ross Jensen’s record time’.

The next race was the big one, that year the Australian Grand Prix was held on the Lowood, Queensland airfield circuit.

Alec’s track record there was impeccable- he was without doubt the fastest combination in Australia but a wildcard was thrown into the mix with ‘Dame Nellie Melba’- Lex Davison returning from retirement again to race an Aston Martin DBR4 GP machine powered by a methanol fed DBR1 3 litre sportscar engine.

The cars were hopelessly outclassed in GP racing- the front engined machines were too heavy, underdeveloped and arrived two years too late just like Lance Reventlows Scarabs. Some writers describe them as the ultimate expression of the front engine GP car but that does a grave disservice to the Lotus 16 Climax and the 1960 Ferrari Dino 246. Nonetheless, in Australian F Libre with wily, fast Davo behind the wheel the car was very much a contender, as events proved in spades.

Davison in his 3 litre Aston DBR4/250 during the Lowood ’60 AGP (Davison Collection)

Wide and open Lowood suited the Astons long legs, were the race at Bathurst or Fishermans Bend it would have been a different matter, perhaps.

Davison described the Coopers as ‘anti-Climaxes’, he was said to be emotionally attached to the front-engine machines like his Ferrari 500/625 but he was well aware of the Coopers potency given his hillclimb and short-circuit successes in his own air-cooled Coopers- and of course he was to race the machines in the coming years inclusive of a 1961 Mallala Cooper T51 AGP win. Still, Davo’s choice was an interesting one as he had the wealth to pick and choose from all the options. Davison had practiced the car at Goodwood and Phillip Island where he was 2 seconds from Brabham’s lap record.

The following excerpts are drawn from racer/team owner/journalist David McKay’s Sunday Telegraph and racer/historian Graham Howard’s ‘History of the AGP’ race report/chapter.

McKay wrote ‘Davison came to Lowood supported by his experienced crew…he drew first blood by winning the champions scratch race. Mildren had a lucky break here- 300 yards from the start he broke a halfshaft’. A half hour delay in the program caused by a fire after Ern Tadgell’s aero-engine Lotus 12 crashed and caused a small grass fire allowed Mildren’s repairs to be completed, he took the grid alongside Bib Stillwell, Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 and Davison.

‘The interesting aspect here was that, although the Mildren team carried every necessary spare part, the bushes of the top and bottom wishbones for the car had not been pre-reamed and required a lot of hand work in a very short time if the car was to be ready. Mildren himself had to take over- he had, after all, been building his own AGP cars since 1947- to get the work done…’ wrote Howard.

Alec sets to repairing the T51’s halfshafts in time for the race start. Note the rear disc, curvy Cooper chassis frame, transverse leaf spring, Maser 250S engine (Mildren)

The flag has dropped: Stilwell in the middle gets the initial jump with Alec on this side- hoping his car will be ok after the last minute repairs, and Lex on the outside (P Reynell)

 

‘From the flag until the end of the race, Mildren and Davison duelled at speeds between 40 and 160 mph and for most of the time separated by a second or less. The small green Cooper Maserati sounded harsher and accelerated harder than the big green Aston which looked noticeably steadier through the corners. Mildren lost the lead in a spot of heavy traffic and then “butterfingered” his car and the resulting excursion into the outfield dented the Cooper’s snout’.

Green ‘While Mildren did indeed grab the lead from Stillwell and Davison on the opening lap after making an understandably gentler start in second gear…a photo…showed Mildren’s unscathed car trailing the Aston Martin. Howard’s account explained that Davison grabbed the front running on lap 16 at Castrol Corner and that Mildren spun a lap later at Bardahl- perhaps caught out by traffic’.

Both Davison and Mildren led the race twice, here the Aston is in front of the little Cooper just before Alec spun (HAGP)

Davison had a 10 second lead, Mildren recalled ‘I did a silly thing- I had so much confidence that I eased off the throttle and dropped the pace by a second or two. When I tried to regain the time, I had to work very hard and told myself I had been a stupid fool. So I drove as hard as I could and eased back the time lost. It was not just a question of catching, but of course passing him’.

McKay ‘ Mildren retaliated and gave chase in true Moss-like fashion. He closed the gap relentlessly and went ahead again when Davison overdid a corner. Averaging 95 mph, these two held the 25,000 paying customers spellbound. Many excellent performances tended to be overshadowed. Stillwell, his rivals drawing away at over 2 sec a lap, motored cleanly and rapidly in 3rd spot- never challenging or being challenged. Behind him was a race long fight between Hall, Leighton and Glass…The leaders rushed past others as though possessed of immense speed and skill to match, everyone except Stillwell suffered the indignity of being “doubled”, some several times’.

Green, ‘No mention is made of Davison regaining the lead within a lap at Mobilgas, or of Mildren retaking it at Castrol two corners later- but such was the case’.

David McKay on the closing stages one of The Great AGP’s ‘Mildren’s engine , due to the damaged nose, was badly overheating and when Davison closed and went to the front just before the end it appeared as though the veteran driver would never realise his ambition, but in a finish to beat all finishes Mildren ducked inside Davison on the very last corner and in the long straight run to the chequered flag we could hear the Aston’s engine being squeezed as never before in a last effort to overhaul the Anglo-Italian car. Davison got the most out of the Aston alongside Mildren’s cockpit as the flag fell. “Mildren of Lowood” had won by 1/20th of a second’.

Metres from the finish, the big Aston ran out of space to run the little Cooper down- a magnificent finish to a fantastic race- difference in the size of the cars mega isn’t it (J Benson)

‘If he never drives again’, McKay wrote ‘Mildren earned himself a place in Australian motoring history by his magnificent drive that day. It was a victory of the highest order- won from a champion and sportsman who made him fight every inch, every second of the way. Mildren now has a stranglehold on the Gold Star award- that and the AGP are the fruits of many years and thousands of pounds spent in the most exacting sport of all’.

Sportsmanship personified: Lex playfully interviews Alec for the crowd, to right is Qld Governor Sir Henry Abel-Smith with Glynn Scott, first Queenslander home in Alec’s old Cooper at far right (Courier Mail)

 

Winners are Grinners, Alec, Jack Cotterill and Glenn Abbey with the AGP Cup (Mildren)

The Gold Star circus returned to Lowood again on the weekend of 4 September with Mildren again victorious, from Stillwell and Davison, albeit this time Bib was in front of Lex. It was another great race in which the lead changed about a dozen times in the opening 5 laps before Alec took the lead and held it.

Brabham returned for the October Craven A International at Bathurst in October as 1960 World Champion. No way was he going to lose that race, he won from Patterson and Stilwell. All three drove T51’s powered by 2.5, 2.4 and 2.2 litre CC FPF’s. Alec failed to finish with a  gearbox failure on lap 16.

Jones in blue, Mildren, Brabham up front, then John Leighton Cooper T45 FPF and Bib Stillwell in red, front engined car on row 3 is Arnold Glass Maser 250F, Noel Hall and Austin Miller in yellow. Then John Youl beside Bill Patterson’s white car- the other yellow machine is Doug Kelley’s ex-Miller Cooper T41 Climax FWB. The cars are all T51’s except where specified otherwise (NMRM)

Bathurst front row- Jack in the car, Alec #2 Cooper Maser and Stan Jones T51 with Alec back to us talking to Stillwell in the silver helmet? (Aussie Homestead)

A spate of unreliability seemed to have set in with a duff engine at Port Wakefield during the Advertiser Trophy meeting the following October weekend. Lex started from pole and retired on lap 20- the race was won by Stillwell from John Youl, T51 2.2 and Keith Rilstone’s amazing Eldred Norman built, front-engined supercharged 6-cylinder Zephyr Spl. Very much an Australian Special story for another time.

There was plenty of time to take the Cooper back to Canberra and have it well prepared in time for the Caversham, ‘Western Australia Trophy’ meeting on the 5 December weekend.

There Alec’s long desired Gold Star title dreams were realised with victory from Stillwell, his car now fitted with a 2.5 litre FPF and Derek Jolly’s Lotus 15 Climax sportscar. Bib needed 12 points to stay in the title hunt and took the lead from the start but Mildren was soon all over him, pressuring the Victorian into a rare error, Bib spun off at The Esses. By the time Bib got his Cooper gathered up and returned to the fray Alec was a half-lap ahead, a lead he was not to relinquish.

The team celebrated long into the night, the win a very popular one amongst his fellow competitors and race fans across the country- one of the sports perennial competitors had reaped the rewards he deserved.

Mildren did not start the final two major meetings of the year with Bill Patterson winning the Lukey Trophy at Phillip Island and Stillwell taking the Warwick Farm Trophy the week before Christmas 1960.

The final Gold Star pointscore was Mildren on 55 points from Stillwell and Patterson on 41 and 20 respectively.

The successful businessman/racer considered his options for 1961 knowing that Stillwell, Patterson, Youl, Miller and Davison who had retired again- and come back again would be formidable competitors, some with 2.5 litre FPF’s fitted into the back of their Coopers.

Clearly Mildren was at least considering a new car as the Cooper Maser was advertised for 5500 pounds in the November issue of ‘Australian Motor Sports’ but it did not sell so a new Maserati ‘Birdcage’ Tipo 61 2.9 litre engine and 5 speed Colotti Type 21 gearbox was fitted but not in time for the early season internationals.

Alec retired in the Warwick Farm 100 with falling oil pressure, the race was won by Rob Walker’s Moss driven Lotus 18 Climax. Arnold Glass had his first race of his Tommy Atkins built Cooper T51 Maserati 250S, a car he grew to dislike as much as he savoured and did so well in the Maser 250F which went before!

The car was trailered to Ballarat for the Victorian Trophy meeting at Ballarat Airfield on 12 February. There Dan Gurney took the only international win for a BRM P48, Alec was 6th, a lap down on Dan, the similarly mounted Graham Hill, Ron Flockhart’s Cooper T53 with Stan Jones the best of the locals in his T51 2.5 FPF, 4th. Glass was 7th in his Cooper Maser.

At Longford in early March Mildren was 6th, still with the 250S engine fitted with Cooper T51 FPF’s dominating- Salvadori won from Patterson, Youl and local boy Austin Miller.

During the lead up to the Easter Bathurst meeting the Birdcage engine was fitted. Bill Patterson won the ‘Craven A’ Gold Star race convincingly in a run which would win him the 1961 Gold Star aboard his very quick T51. Alec was 5th behind Patto, Stan Jones, Stillwell and Glass. Alec felt the car was quicker than before but not very much so.

Warwick Farm May 1961 and here fitted with the 2.9 litre Maser Birdcage Tipo 61 engine number ‘2475’ and Colotti T21 5 speed gearbox (J Ellacott)

In its new Birdcage/Colotti form he was 2nd in a low-key non-championship scratch race behind Bib Stillwell at Warwick Farm in May- in front of the Noel Hall and David McKay T51’s.

Lowood had been a Mildren happy hunting ground more often than not in the preceding years, and so it was he was 2nd in the Queensland Centenary Road racing Championships Gold Star round in June behind Patterson but ahead of Jones.

And in low key style, that was it for Alec’s racing career, he quietly retired to focus on his business and establishment of Alec Mildren Racing Pty. Ltd as a team owner- his and David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce concern created the first professional racing teams in Australia.

Mildren’s exploits and those of his drivers will be a nice Part 2 of the Alec Mildren story.

Alec Mildren Racing at Longford in 1965. Gardner warms up the Brabham BT11A Climax in the foreground whilst alongside the Mildren Maserati is fettled next door (oldracephotos/H Ellis)

In September 1961 the Cooper, fitted with the 250S engine was sold to Ross Dalton on a time payment deal. In his first meeting with the car at the shortlived Toowoomba Middle Ridge road circuit he lost it in practice- locking the front wheels, broadsided some corner posts and somersaulted over the haybales, the car was ‘not too badly damaged’. Whilst advertised again with the 250S engine and Colotti box in AMS in February 1962 Green’s book says the car reverted back to Alec after the accident.

Entered in the 1963 AGP at Warwick Farm for Frank Gardner the now ‘old nail’ T51 Maser was outgunned by much more modern Coopers, Brabhams, Lolas and Lotuses but gave FG valuable big-car experience before he returned to Europe where he was ‘on the climb’. He DNF for unstated reasons. Gardner’s pattern of driving for Alex every Australasian summer at the end of his European season extended all the way through to 1969- and to the end of FG’s single-seater career post his time with Alec’s team through until 1972.

At that stage it was not uncommon globally for uncompetitive Cooper T51’s to be re-birthed as sportscars, perhaps Roger Penske’s Zerex Special (see my article by keying the name into the primo search engine on this sites front page) is the most famous of these exercises.

Abbey and Mildren’s variation on the theme was for the core components of the car- T61 2.9 litre engine, Colotti box, suspension and brake componentry to be built into a car constructed by Rennmax’ Bob Britton who ended up having an enduring, very successful relationship with the team until its end at the duration of the 1970 season.In essence Britton’s car was a Lotus 19 chassis clone with a 23 style of body.

The car was immediately quick in the hands of Ralph Sach, Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett who won the 1965 Victorian Sportscar Championship in it. Its life with the Mildren team ended during the 1965 Australian Tourist Trophy, when, with Gardner at the wheel the engine let go in the biggest possible way spreading expensive alloy shrapnel on Lakesides main straight.

Ralph Sach in the Longford paddock 1965, Mildren Maserati (oldracephotos)

Ralph Sach, Mildren Maser during the 1965 Tasman meeting at Warwick Farm (B Wells)

At that point the car was advertised and sold to Ross Ambrose (he of Van Diemen and Marcus Ambrose fame) who renamed it, with Mildren’s agreement, as a Rennmax. Fitted initially with a 2.2 litre Coventry Climax FPF it later had installed the ex-Scarab/Stillwell Buick 3.9 litre V8 by Geoff Smedley, the car raced on and still exists.

What about the chassis of the Cooper you ask?

Badly corroded, twisted from a few accidents and by then living in Abbey’s coastal Narrabeen home garage, it was dumped at the Avalon tip circa June 1965- the cars simply were not worth then what they have been since the mid-seventies!

Bits not used in the sportscar build went to other Cooper owners, especially in Tasmania where a few of the Oz T51’s ended up. The 250S engine sold to Terry Clift in 1966 and played an important role in the cars resurrection when he sold it, in badly damaged form, to Sydney’s Paul Moxham who had started the long process of reconstruction of this famous, clever Australian Cooper.

Mildren before a rin in Paul Moxham’s recreation/reconstruction of his old T51 Maser during the 1985 Adelaide AGP carnival (Mildren)

The chassis commercial airline pilot Moxham found for the project was believed to be one of two created ‘in period’ by Len Lukey who fabricated a T51 jig whilst the 1959 Gold Star winner was racing a T51- not the only such jig in the country either!

Moxham created a fibreglass body from a mould taken off the Noel Hall T51 in 1959 by Bob Britton and Chris Conroy- Sam Johnson of JWF Fibreglass made the body. The car was assembled gradually in consultation with Mildren, Abbey and Tim Wall with new wishbones, bushes, front axles, discs, hubs with the engine and gearbox fully rebuilt by 1985.

Alec drove the car during the (first) 1985 Adelaide F1 AGP carnival and looked as pleased as punch with the car and experience. Moxham used the car in historic events from then until 1989 when prominent American racer/collector Peter Giddings acquired it. It still exists…

Longford Trophy 1960: Stillwell has jumped away from winner Brabham in #4 Cooper T51. Arnold Glass 250F clear, #60 Miller’s T51, #24 Mildren, #9 Patterson T51 and #20 John Youl also T51 with the distinctive rear suspension of Ern Tadgell’s Lotus 12 Climax (Sabakat) at right rear. All of the hot shots of the 1960 Gold Star sans Davison are in this shot (K Thompson)

Etcetera: Cooper Maser T51 Technical Specifications…

Chassis

Number ‘F2-22-59’: Mk4 T51 multi-tubular spaceframe

Suspension- Front- unequal length upper and lower fabricated wishbones and coil spring/shocks Rear- adjustable top links, lower wishbones, single transverse leaf spring and shocks. Steering: Cooper rack and pinion. Brakes: Girling discs outboard on all wheels

Dimensions- Front/rear track 1182/1219 mm. Wheelbase 2311 mm. Wheels Cooper cast magnesium 121x381mm front and 159x381mm rear with 5.25/5.5×15 inch front and 6.5×15 inch rear tyres. Weight circa 472 kg dry

Maserati Engines:

250S

All alloy, DOHC, roller follower, 2 valve, dry sumped four cylinder fed by two 48mm Weber carburettors, alcohol fuel.

Bore/stroke 96X86mm- 2489cc, compression ratio 12.5:1. Power circa 270 bhp @ 7800 rpm on alcohol fuel

T61

General description as above

Bore/stroke 100X92mm- 2890cc. Power quoted as 260 bhp @ 7000 rpm with 100 octane. On alcohol a bit more

Gearboxes

Initially Cooper Knight 5 speed, with Maser T61 engine Colotti T21 5 speed when car fitted with Birdcage T61 motor

Bibliography…

‘History of the Australian GP’ Graham Howard and Ors, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Driven To Succeed: The Alec Mildren Story’ Barry Green, oldracingcars.com, ‘Maserati: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard

Photo Credits…

John Ellacott, Peter Reynell, Bob Britton, Bruce Wells, Kelsey Collection, oldracephotos.com, Australian Motor Racing Museum, Aussie Homestead Racing, Keverall Thompson, John Benson, Mildren- photos from Barry Green book as above

Tailpiece: Australian Grand Prix, Lowood 1960…

(P Reynell)

Mildren awaits the start of the 1960 AGP at the front of a very crowded AGP grid, the period immediately before the race had its pressures too. Stillwell and Davison alongside. #87 Frank Matich Lotus 15 Climax

Finito…