Mrs Cook’s Cooper is fettled at Brands Hatch during 1957…
Clearly an inspirational woman for the teenagers with the cameras looking on. All information about the driver gratefully received.
Alan Jones in his Lola THL1 Hart at Monaco during practice on May 10 1986…
Just looking these pictures, note the Ford logo on the side of the cockpit, reminded me of the vexed, too soon launched Ford Cosworth GBA 1.5 V6 twin-turbo.
Jones and Tambay didn’t race the Ford engine in ’86, they contested the title with Brian Hart’s Hart 415T, 4 cylinder engine whilst GBA development continued at Cosworths. Best results for the year were a 4th and 5th in Austria in a sea of DNF’s. The Haas team then withdrew from F1, the GBA program torch carried forward by Benetton but not for too long…
That Brian Hart built an F1 engine is an accident of history. It was an evolution of the relationship he had with the Toleman Team who won the European F2 Championship in 1980 (Brian Henton won the drivers title) with his superb 2 litre 420R 4 cylinder engine (below) in the back of Rory Byrne’s TG280 ground effects chassis.
The 420R engine has a bore/stroke of 93.5 mm x 72.6 mm, a capacity of 1994 cc and was the result of a long development path starting with Hart’s race preparation of FVA’s in 1969. Designed in house, blocks and heads came from Stirling Metals with the machining done at Harts. Gordon Allen produced the cranks, Hart did his own cams and developed the pistons with Mahle in Germany. Lucas provided the fuel injection. The engine developed 305 bhp @ 9,500 rpm with safe bursts to just over 10,000 rpm.
Ted Toleman’s wealth derived from building up the UK’s largest car transport business, his ambition extended to graduation from F2 to F1. Rory Byrne designed what became the TG181 chassis which team manager Alex Hawkridge told Brian would either carry a turbo-charged version of the 420R or Lancia’s turbo 1.4 which was doing service in their sports-racer at the time. So Brian set to with the challenge!
‘I had never even seen a turbocharger,’ Hart claims, ‘and I didn’t understand intercooling’. His engine was the first British turbo Fl engine and the TG181 was as ‘big and butch’ as the TG280 was ‘nimble and slinky’. Packaging of these early turbo-cars was a big challenge even with the resources of Ferrari whose 1981 126CK was no picture of elegance either.
The first beautifully integrated turbo was John Barnard’s 1984 McLaren MP4/2 TAG Porsche largely because he prescribed very thoroughly the packaging of his engine spec to Porsche to ensure the needs of his chassis, particularly its aerodynamic effectiveness were not compromised by the engine and its ancillaries inclusive of radiators and intercoolers.
The first iteration of the 415T had a bore and stroke of 89.2mm X 60mm and a capacity of 1499cc. With a compression ratio of 6.7:1 and single KKK turbo-charger the engine developed circa 557bhp at 9500rpm compared to its competitors; normally aspirated Cosworth DFV circa 500bhp and Matra V12 510. The turbos were the Renault V6 540, Ferrari V6 560 and BMW in-line 4 557bhp.
The 415T engine was down on power and prone to head-gasket failure, drivers Brian Henton and Derek Warwick who had enjoyed so much Hart F2 success in 1980 repeatedly failed to qualify.
Hart was under lots of pressure and there was heavy tension between him and Byrne noting the shortcomings of the latters chassis. Derek Warwick later observed that Brian was a great engineer, a great person and always under-financed. And a pretty handy driver in his day…
Brian Hart raced with success, he dominated the 1172cc Clubmans formula and later raced in FJ, its successor F3 and in F2 during its most competitive period with grids full of ‘graded’, moonlighting GP drivers.
He raced the brilliant Mike Costin designed Protos 16 powered by a Hart prepped Cosworth FVA, a highlight setting fastest lap and finishing second to Frank Gardner’s works Brabham BT23 FVA in the slip-streaming blast title qualifier at Hockenheim in 1967. He was 11th in the Euro F2 Championship that year and 14th in 1968 driving a Merlyn Mk12 and Brabham BT23C both FVA powered .
He gradually phased from driving into building and developing race engines forming Brian Hart Engines in Harlow, Essex in 1969 gaining much success preparing and tuning FVA’s for racing and BDA’s for rallying. Ronnie Peterson won the Euro F2 championship in 1971 with a Hart prepared FVA (March 711M) and Mike Hailwood in 1972 with an 1850cc BDA. (Surtees TS10)
Brian originally trained at De Havilland Aircraft, then worked for Cosworths when they were building/developing the 1600cc Ford FVA F2 engine, the precursor to the great DFV in the initial 1966/7 partnership between Cosworth and Ford.
A turning point with the 415T was when Hart decided to build the engine as a monobloc, that is no separate head joint to be sealed against coolant, boost pressure and combustion leaks; ‘I decided to cast the head and block as one and in about a fortnight we gained 130bhp. Hart also used British Holset turbo-chargers and benefitted from their flexibility and willingness to develop their products to suit the engine. ‘And the new car (1982 TG183) was 90 per cent better’ Hart quipped.
The much improved TG183B scored 10 championship points in ’83. In ’84 F1 novice Ayrton Senna almost won at Monaco in the quicker TG184. Hart recalled working with the young champion ‘He was astonishing. No man until Schumacher could motivate a team like Ayrton. I asked him to remember the boost reading on one corner per lap, and he came back after a single lap with all the readings for every corner in his head. It was a new level of participation.’
In 1985 development was hamstrung early in the year when the team could not test as they had no tyre contract, this problem was solved when they bought the Spirit teams contract when they withdrew from F1. By this stage with Holset turbo, Hart/ERA digital engine management and Marelli fuel injection at 2.5 atmospheres of boost the engine developed about 740bhp at 10,500rpm.
A fantastic moment was when the car qualified on pole in the German GP after second session times were impacted by rain. The engine was estimated to be giving about 825bhp in qualifying spec with about 730 in race spec but reliability to a large extent had been lost.
The Toleman team was acquired by Benetton later in 1985, who used BMW engines. It was a relief for Hart who struggled with small budgets and too many customers (Spirit, RAM and Beatrice-Lola) ‘I had my arm twisted to do other teams. Toleman simply couldn’t fund the development. I once told Paul Rosche (BMW’s engine guru) what we had to spend, and he said they spent that on blocks alone’ Hart recalled in a MotorSport interview.
Hart 415T; aluminium 4 cylinder monobloc weighing about 140Kg. Belt driven DOHC, 4 valve, fuel injected, intercooled and single Holset turbocharger 1459cc (bore/stroke 88X61.55mm). Between 650-825bhp at 10500 rpm depending upon spec and year.
Going back to the Ford GBA engine early in the article, Benetton raced the ‘works’ Ford GBA’s with a modicum more success in 1987, 5th in the constructors championship won by Williams Honda the best result that year a 3rd in Adelaide for Thierry Boutsen at the seasons end.
Into 1988 and rule changes tipped the balance a little more in favour of normally aspirated engines so Benetton raced the B188 powered by the 3.5 litre V8 Ford Cosworth DFR finishing 3rd in the manufacturers championship behind McLaren and Ferrari; Ford competitiveness was returning and the GBA was placed on the shelf a victim of rule changes and being a little too late to the turbo-party…
MotorSport, Doug Nye ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’, Maurice Hamilton, Anthony Fosh, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Pascal Rondeau, John Way, 8W Forix, Alenso, Roger Viollet
Tailpiece: Brian Hart with his 830 V8 engine, it was fitted to the Footwork chassis’, 1996 Spanish Grand Prix…
After working on the development of the Ford Cosworth DFR in the early 1990’s Hart built the 72 degree 3.5 litre V10 ‘1035’ which was used by Jordan with successful results in 1993. For the 3 litre formula in 1995 he ‘chopped a couple of cylinders off’, maintaining the 72 degree Vee angle to create the ultra compact ‘830’ V8.
Known fondly as ‘Jam Tart’, this immensely popular member of the F1 paddock died too young at 77 in 2014.
This amazing 1931 poster advertising the Fiat 514 caught my eye, as its designer intended…‘Its of ‘monumental style design’, the 514 likened to a statue on a plinth, beaming out light into the darkness’.
The 514 was built between 1929 and 1932 in sedan, cabriolet and spyder bodies. The engine was a 1438cc 4 cylinder sidevalve with power outputs ranging from 28-37bhp for the 514A/MM performance variant.
Although Fiat stopped racing in the early 1930s, concentrating on road cars in the twenties they produced cars of sporting intent. Its most successful design was the Tipo 509, which dominated the Italian small-car market. The 509 was powered by a four-cylinder 990cc OHC engine.
The 1929 514, its replacement was introduced into much tougher economic times and used a simpler 1.5-litre sidevalve four. The 514 was conventional; it had semi-elliptic springing all round, a 4 speed gearbox and 4 wheel mechanical brakes, adoption of hydraulic brakes part way through the cars production cycle being the models most important development.
Together with the standard cars Fiat introduced a trio of sporting roadsters; the 514S, 514MM and 514CA, ‘MM’ signifying Mille Miglia and ‘CA’ Coppa del Alpi (Alpine Cup). The 514S and 514CA used the standard (2,555mm) wheelbase whilst the MM used the longer (2,770mm) chassis shared with the 514 van. All used tuned engines; the 514S had 34.5bhp, the MM and CA had engines developing 37bhp. Top speed of these cars was circa 112km/h (70mph).
Hutton Archive, Bruno Guerrini, Bonhams
Tailpiece: 1930 514 Roadster…
Terry Cornelius unleashing all of the Kieft De Soto’s 350 V8 horses, blasting the car he co-constructed along Eastern Creeks long main straight…
Regular readers may remember the article I wrote some months back about the Kieft De Soto… https://primotipo.com/2016/06/03/kieft-de-soto-v8/
A few days ago Terry Cornelius, builder of the cars curvaceous body got in touch with a photo and this anecdote, I’ve put it into the article, but wanted to share it as well rather than just ‘lose it’ in the archive.
‘I got to be part of the Goodwood Revival Team with the two cars (Kieft Coventry Climax GP car and Kieft De Soto Sportscar) and its something I’ll never forget!
Your article told how upon return from Goodwood, the Kieft De Soto raced in the Eastern Creek ‘Summer Historics’, and perhaps understandably did not mention that Victoria Morris very kindly put yours truly behind the wheel in the regularity events, with Greg Snape at the wheel in the races.
I had driven the car on the road, but this was a new experience in spite of having accomplished many years of motor racing, mostly in the Historic arena.
The start of Regularity events is a casual affair, and its ok to go as fast or slow as you choose, preferably regularly! I found myself, in the last of my events, at the rear of the field with a beautiful C Type Jaguar replica just in front. Well, I knew what I had to do, and I felt I had come to grips with the Kieft after the previous couple of events. At the end when the chequered flag eventually dropped, I had a substantial lead on the Jag.
So what? I hear you say. Well, let me explain…
When Bill Morris (the driver/engineer/entrepreneur who owned and reconstructed both Kiefts) was weighing up the pros and cons of the resurrection project of the Kieft sportscar, he took into consideration the method used by the English authorities to separate the various historic classifications. It seems that the Kieft, via its drum brakes, would fall into a category which was being dominated by the C Type Jags, also drum braked. Bill felt at the time, taking that booming V8 engine into consideration, he could well be on a sure winner. Little did he realise that he wouldn’t be around to enjoy his prophecy.
I think its only fair that I be allowed to feel that I had brought some poetic justice home in Bill’s memory’…
Terry Cornelius, many thanks
Richard Taylor photo
Repco workshop customer point of sale ‘take-away’ from 1962/3…
Given the sophistication of todays online marketing driven by complex algorithms using the reams of data we all hand over, unknowingly, in our daily routines its interesting to look at how it was once done, and still is to an extent I guess.
This quite eye-catching piece, with its complex die cut is sophisticated for its day and was no doubt scooped up in large numbers by the trade customers who frequented the various outlets of Repco’ burgeoning global empire. Repco’s retail outlets, well known to Aussies as a weekend DIY supply destination came later.
Former Repco engineer Michael Gasking has given me access to his extensive archive to share with you, this is the first of many more interesting Repco timepieces from Michael. Many thanks to him!
It’s a few years before the Repco-Brabham ‘RB620’ V8 program but Ron and Jack’s cars were called and badged ‘Repco-Brabham’ and the technical relationship was just extending to the maintenance and parts back up of the Coventry Climax FPF engine by whom Repco were licensed to make parts.
So the link between R&D, testing and racing is well travelled but neatly done I reckon, to see and hold this marketing timepiece is a joy so I thought it worth sharing.
Brabham chassis ‘F1-3-62’…
Inevitably my eyes were drawn to the cars chassis number. Its to the left and under the steering wheel on the dash, its with this stuff where my anal side kicks in. Wonder which car it is, thought i…
Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com is one of my favourite bibles for such important minutae. No joy there, there was only one BT3 built, Jack’s first MRD built F1 weapon and that’s chassis ‘F1-1-62’ . The subsequent 1962 built BT4’s all have ‘IC’, Intercontinental in Brabham lore, chassis prefixes so it’s a bit of a mystery that I am sure one of you can solve.
It doesn’t follow that the cockpit shot at the articles outset is one of Jack’s cars of course. He sold three BT4’s in Australia to Messrs Davison, McKay and Stillwell. Lex’s ex-Brabham ’62 AGP winning car and Bib’s were based in Melbourne’s Armadale and Kew, both pretty close to Repco’s HQ in St Kilda Road so seem likely subjects for their PR Department or Ad Agency’s photographers. But neither of the chassis numbers work. Mind you Bibs BT4 was ‘IC-3-62’ I wonder if a bit of sixties ‘photoshop’ made it ‘F1-3-62’. Anyway, that’s a theory until one of you can blow it out of the water!…
Michael Gasking Collection, Nigel Tait Collection, Repco, Sydney Morning Herald, oldracingcars.com, Aussie Homestead
A warm welcome to Greg Smith, Australian racer/engineer who is writing ‘A Trilogy of Australian Specials’, on cars which captured his imagination, the first of which is the Cooper MG…
Greg is a gentleman (some would dispute that descriptor!) of a certain age, suffice to say he started competing before mufflers were mandatory and seat belts were worn at the drivers own discretion!
An historic racing engineer based in Bayside Melbourne, he has had a successful career restoring and preparing cars as diverse as a 1904 TT Maudslay to a 1967 Quad Cam Ford V8 Indycar. He lists his highlights as his years working on ERA’s and GP Bugattis, looking after a 6CM Maserati for a season and multiple preparation and management jobs at the Mille Miglia and Tour Auto modern classics.
Greg has competed at , been a mechanic at, or team manager at, over sixty different venues world-wide, but declares his enduring passion as front engined ‘Australian Specials’ and local tracks.
Definition: An ‘Australian Special’ is a racing or sports car, most commonly built by an impecunious owner/driver from gathered parts and assemblies, then engineered to reflect his own thoughts, abilities and intellectual property to the point where no two are alike and every one has its own hallmarks, eccentricities and foibles-unique vehicles indeed.
In this trilogy I’ll write about three cars which have passed through, or remain in my ownership.They have given me great pleasure during my 40 odd years involved in Historic Racing and, as you will see, are all front engined and constructed prior to 1960.
The Cooper MG…
This amazing ‘giant killer’ of a little car started out life as an example of that most mundane genre of racing vehicle, a factory production car!!
It was delivered as a JAP 8/80 engined long wheel base Mark IV Cooper and was a very early example, maintaining the forged Fiat Topolino 500 lower wishbones. It was the factory demonstrator for Cooper Car Distributors in Melbourne, Australia and had some early success when lent to noted driver, Arthur Wylie. In 1952 it was sold to George Pearse of Sydney who ran it consistently for two years in its original form.
So far nothing ‘Special’ about it. George, a renowned tinkerer and engineer, had other ideas though.
The Cooper, although a light and sure footed mount, lacked the punch, power and acceleration of George’s previous car, a supercharged MG-TC square rigger which George retained.
Why not an amalgamate the cars and get the best of both worlds, he thought?
George un-bolted the J.A.Prestwich power unit from the rear of the chassis, shoehorned his blown MG-TC motor and gearbox into the front of it and moved himself rearwards!! A Ford V8 diff with a pre-war American style Casales three pinion drop box on the front allowed the driver to sit low and took the power out to the original Cooper drive and suspension.
Brakes and wheels remained the same at 8” diameter and 15” diameter X 2 ½” wide respectively, the whole was clothed in a light weight alloy body of agricultural, but pleasing proportions.
George debuted his new creation at Bathurst in October 1955 and lapped in 3:04.5, slower than the Cooper Bristols and the V12 OSCA, but still a contender on this oh-so-fast road circuit!
A ‘smack’ at the AGP circuit at Southport led to the sale of the car, in damaged form, to Sydney speedway exponent and Offenhauser guru Ray Revell. Ray set to and replaced the Cooper box chassis with a spaceframe of his own design whilst using all the remaining serviceable components and upgrading to a stronger Peugeot 203 alloy rack and pinion.
He had it back on song and entered for Bathurst in October 1956.
Now looking like a true ‘Special’ it was within seconds of the big ex-Bira OSCA and the D type Jaguar.
Ray eventually moved on to an Offenhauser powered Fiat and sold the car to up and coming Queenslander Lionel Ayers who lengthened the nose and added a more Vanwall type screen. He also fitted a 1500cc XPEG engine with a steel crank, Italian Nardi conrods and a Laystall-Lucas alloy head. This was all fed by a new Marshall J100 blower set up to deliver 22lb boost.
Ayers had great success with the car and raced it on equal terms with Jaguar D Type, Lotus 12, Repco-Holden and Ferrari cars.
The car was fitted with the larger Cooper Bristol brakes and wheels when the donor car (the WM Cooper) got its disc brakes and wobbly wheels, and prior to its sale to Hugh Gilroy about 1962.
Don Webster was the next owner and he did a prosaic re-commissioning of the car, running it in an emasculated form with twin 1 ¼’’ SU’s. It was in this form I first saw the car at the inaugural ‘All Historic’ Lakeside meeting in 1978.
During after race festivities I asked if I could try it on for size and once I was in, I wasn’t getting out until a purchase was completed!!
Imagine my delight when it was delivered to my home 1200 miles away in Melbourne when it was discovered that the garbage bag in the driver’s seat contained all the original supercharger, manifolds and drive which had not even been mentioned during our negotiations! A complete restoration commenced immediately and the car took me, and subsequent owners, Ross Hodgson and Brian Gerrard to many victories in the ensuing days of historic racing in this country.
The car is still extant in slightly modified form but new owner, Graeme Louk, is enthusiastically returning it to its correct historic specification and recently had his first outing with it to great acclaim by all as it was 22 years since its last appearance.
From a handling perspective the car had early ‘Cooper flop’ side to side with negative/positive camber change but if you divorced that seeming death wish from your left brain and just drove the car, it handled very predictably. The 10″ brakes were superb and initial understeer could easily be overcome by power application.
The supercharged engines torque was adequate and with only 3 1/2″ rims running Dunlop 4.50-L- 15 tyres, wheelspin and grip had to be closely managed, not the least reason being the cost of tyres!
The best, and most memorable feature of the car was being able to go one gear deeper into a corner, and brake one marker later than cars it competed against. This delivered rewards time after time.
Chassis; a lightweight centrally disposed monoposto spaceframe front engine racing car.
Suspension; All independently sprung using transverse leaf springs centrally located on bolted towers of the early type but not modulated in roll by the later roller support system.
Front lower wishbones are Fiat Topolino. The top shocker points were relocated by me from under the spring in 1978, the original front sway bar is still fitted.
The rear lower wishbones are Fiat Topolino with the original light series 1100 Hardy Spicer shafts increased to 1300 series. The original style rear sway bar is fitted to the car.
Steering; 203 Peugeot rack and pinion
During my ownership 1360cc (previously, in period and now again, 1500cc) it was fitted with an iron head (previously ,in period, and now again an alloy head is fitted)
My last dyno sheet from 1978 says we achieved 142 BHP at 12 lb boost and 9.3:1 static compression but I think camshaft technology will have eclipsed that figure, although it was sparkling in the day.
‘In period’ the car ran stub exhausts but an extractor system and muffler are now fitted for modern competition.
Transmission; The original Ford V8 diff and drop box were replaced by me with a Halibrand unit in 1978, the original is still in my possession
The original panels include the tail, sides, bonnet and the later model fibreglass nose. A driver roll over bar and seat belts have been fitted.
Checkout this wonderful YouTube footage of Gnoo Blas, Orange, NSW…
Look carefully in the first two minutes of the footage for Pearse’s elegant, red, Cooper MG #18 which appears quite a few times.
‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’, Turton & Armstrong , John Medley
‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ , Turton & Armstrong, John B.Blanden
Lionel Ayers, public domain article, TR0003, Stephen Dalton
Authors archive-Greg Smith
Finito: Next article in this series soon features Wal Anderson’s 1957 Repco-Lotus-Holden sports-racer…
Colin Bond finessing the Holden Dealer Teams Holden Torana GTR XU1 Repco thru Murrays Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1973…
In fact ‘twas as much Brocky’s as Bondy’s as they tended to drive this Repco Holden F5000 V8 engined ‘Sports Sedan’ (Oz anything goes taxi category) in their home states. Peter Brock in Victoria and Bond in NSW. I ‘spose Holden Dealer Team chief Harry Firth worked out who drove the thing elsewhere.
By that stage Sports Sedans were starting to get a bit more scientific, check out my article on John McCormack’s Chrysler Valiant Charger Repco F5000 which provides both era context and some car specifics.
Harry decided to chase the ‘Toby Lee Sports Sedan Series’ $ at Oran Park and cobbled together this car which was the marriage of an LJ Torana chassis with a Repco Holden 500BHP injected F5000 V8, which was mounted right next to the driver to keep him warm.
Borg Warner T10 tranny, a Rose jointed solid, Watts linkage rear end and wishbone, coil sprung front end were suspension modes. Brakes were F5000 issue calipers clamping HQ Holden rotors front and rear.
The car began life in ’71 as an HDT Bathurst 500 Series Production car and in ’72 was Frank Kilfoyle’s rally car before being gutted for its new role, Chris De Fraga reported in ‘The Age’ before the cars debut as a Sports Sedan at Sandown on 13-15 April 1973.
It didn’t win too much in the way of major events but it was a massive crowd pleaser and fast with two of the countries best steerers twiddling its MoMo.
Back to Bathurst Easter ’73; Col Bond won all three of his races over the weekend in ‘The Beast’ with Peter Brock, in a good meeting for the Holden Dealer Team, sharing the Production Touring Car wins in an XU1 with John Goss’ Ford Falcon GT Coupe.
Nigel Tait Collection/ Repco Ltd
Tailpiece: Brock at Calder, LC/LJ Toranas’ such a great looking car, the bellow of this injected V8 one not to be missed. Wheels are by Mawer Engineering in Sydney, very popular on Touring Cars and Clubmans of the day…
Who is the Coolest Cat?!
Freddie Agabashian lookin’ a million bucks with his lean build, fag, Ray Bans and ‘GI Joe’ haircut. He is aboard his Kurtis Offy Champcar at the San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway, meeting date uncertain but the photo post is dated 1 January 1950…
Of more technical note is the ‘Offy 255 or 270’ cid, 4 cylinder, DOHC, 2 valve twin side-draft Riley carbed 300-350 bhp engine, hand brake and rear suspension of his Kurtis Kraft chassis.
Northern California Racing Association Champion in 1937, against drivers such as Duane Carter, Lynn Desister and Paul Swedberg. Post war Freddie took 3 Bay City Racing Association Midget titles from 1946-48 driving for Jack London and George Bignotti from 1947. He then turned his attention to Indycars.
Born in Modesto, California, Frederik was the son of a genious Armenian mathematician who began racing in his teens. He won in Champ cars and Stock cars as well which earned him a ride at Indianapolis for the 1947 race.
He competed at Indy from 1947-57 and is best remembered for his pole winning effort in 1952 in the unique Kurtis Kraft Cummins Diesel. Frank Kurtis’ revolutionary first Roadster chassis carried the equally innovative 400cid, alloy headed, magnesium sumped but still very heavy cast iron blocked 360 bhp turbo-diesel engine. The oil burner was tipped onto its side 5 degrees from horizontal to lower the engine and as a consequence its bodywork and aerodynamic drag.
Despite the cars bulk, it weighed over 3100 pounds Freddie and his team knew they had a fast car.
They ‘sandbagged’ in practice, never putting together a full quick lap in the month of May being fearful of the rulemakers changing the equivalence formula if the cars speed were clear. At the time the capacity limits were 6.6 litre diesels, 4.5 litre ‘petrol’ normally aspirated and 3 litre supercharged engines.
But come Pole Day at 5.45 with 15 minutes to go Agabashian gave the big heavy beast its head and popped it on pole! The race was not so happy, the turbo air intake became jammed with rubber and other track borne shite on lap 71 causing the interesting cars withdrawal but the promotional aims for Cummins were well and truly achieved.
Freddie’s best finish at Indianapolis was in 1953 when he placed 4th in another KK roadster, this time a more conventional Offy powered 500B chassis.
After he retired from racing Freddie was an Indy special comments broadcaster, he died in 1979.
Check out this YouTube footage about the unique, pole winning, the only time a diesel engine did it, Kurtis Cummins 1952 car;
Racing One, Historic Racing, Steve McKelvie
Tailpiece: Just watch me go fellas! Freddie, Kurtis Cummins, Indy ’52…
Jacky Ickx warms up his Bugatti T35B prior to the start of the 1969 French Grand Prix at Clermont Ferrand, 6 July 1969…
He qualified his Brabham BT26A Ford fourth (below) and finished third in the race won by Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS80 Ford. He had a good season with Brabham taking two wins; at the Nurburgring and Mosport but the lure of Ferrari was too great, he returned to the Maranello squad in 1970.
9200 rpm and breathing very heavily thru it’s oversized for GP racing ports…
Bruce McLaren at rest and considering setup changes to his first GP car, Robin Herd’s Ford Indy V8 powered, ‘Mallite’ chassis, M2B at Watkins Glen in 1966.
These shots are from the Dave Friedman Archive; the tachometer snaps are at the US GP, the balance of photos from the following, final 1966 Championship round in Mexico City.
This article is another of my ‘nutso’ ones in terms of its order…
I found a swag of photos in Friedman’s archive a while back and planned a pictorial of Bruce and his first McLaren GP car at the 1966 US and Mexican Grands’ Prix, the events where Friedman snapped away prodigiously. I put it to one side and largely forgot about it. Subsequently I decided on something more substantive; so the first bit is the original pictorial, the second is about Bruce’ progress in his first two years as an F1 marque jumping from engine to engine until the DFV provided the definitive McLaren F1 moteur from 1968-1983.
And boy, wasn’t there a lot of water that passed under the bridge between 1968 when the design for the Cosworth powered McLaren M7 was laid down to John Barnard providing both the dimensions of the DFV and its means of attachment to the chassis amongst his ‘mandatories’ of design specifications to Hans Metzger at Porsche in 1983. The TAG/Porsche 1.5 litre twin-turbo V6 was the result, the McLaren MP4/1E TAG-Porsche first raced at the 28 August 1983 Dutch Grand Prix. Back to 1965/6 though!
Remember, the tachometer snaps are at the US GP, the balance of photos from the following round in Mexico City, there are no captions in the first part of the article.
As a GP engine the Ford Quad-Cam Indy V8 engine was a huge, beefy, heavy and notoriously raucous unit. Visually it was a ‘big busty blonde’ as well with its whopping Hilborn injection trumpets and huge ‘between the vee exhausts’, it looked ‘the goods’…
McLaren developed and tested the engine during the winter of 1965/6, notably at Riverside, California but missed the European non-championship F1 events with which the season commenced. In a portent of the season to come John Surtees won the 1 April Syracuse GP in his Ferrari 312 whilst ‘Black-Jack’ won the BRDC International Trophy in his Brabham BT19 Repco at Silverstone on May 14.
McLaren made its debut as an F1 marque in the May 22, 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, the first championship round that year. Bruce raced the car he concepted together with Robin Herd, the brilliant young designer specified ‘Mallite’ as the primary material for M2B’s monocoque chassis. (noting the M1 series of car are CanAm machines)
Mallite is a composite sheet aerospace sandwich material comprising end grain balsa material filling between thin sheets of aluminium. The resultant chassis was incredibly stiff for its day at around 11000 lb/ft per degree of deflection compared with a good conventional ‘ally tub which came in the range of 4000-5000 lb/ft per degree.
The Indy Ford 4-cam V8 was reduced from its USAC mandated 4.2 litres to the 3 litre F1 limit (95.3mmX52.4mm bore/stroke-2999cc) which prevailed from 1 January 1966. For F1 use the engine was first modified by Klaus von Rucker in England, then later Bruce involved Traco Engineering in Los Angeles.
Click on this article for a brief history of the Ford Indy V8 amongst the Lola T90 stuff which is the main substance of this piece; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/12/graham-hills-american-red-ball-spl-lola-t90-ford-indy-winner-1966-2/
At Monaco the new McLaren qualified 12th, Bruce withdrew with mechanical ailments on lap 9, the race was won by Jackie Stewart’s 2.1 litre ‘Tasman’ P56 V8 engined BRM P261. This car was his 1965 1.5 litre F1 mount with a bigger version of the P56 V8 with which he won the 1965 Tasman Series.
Bruce and his small Colnbrook team, (near Heathrow an area in the midst of the motor racing industry of subcontractors 3 miles from Slough and 18 miles West of London) crew quickly realised the engines massive ports and valves didn’t give the sort of gas flow speed needed to produce competitive power at 3 litres. Mind you, its 300 horsepower was the sort of output the World Championship winning ‘RB620’ Repco V8 developed in 1966. It was enough to win Jack’s ’66 title albeit the Repco engine was light, very torquey and reliable. By contrast, Bruce’s Ford was heavy and gave its punch over a narrow rev band, the deficiencies of which were exacerbated by the 4 speed ZF ‘box they used which ‘left lots of gaps’ in the power band.
The team had much work to do on the Ford, in the meantime Count Volpi’s new Serenissima V8, designed by Ing. Alberto Massimino, who was part of the Lancia-Ferrari and Maserati 250F 1950’s design teams provided another ‘ready made’ alternative engine to try.
This project is a story in itself but suffice to say Bruce tried the engine whilst simultaneously developing the Indy Ford V8 in an attempt to get it to where it needed to be. Most of you will be aware that Bruce’ Ford connections were immaculate at the time as both a development and race driver of the GT40 program, those cars developed by teams on both sides of the Atlantic. It was Bruce’ hope that he may have been able to get FoMoCo’s backing for his F1 variant of their Indy V8. In the end, via Ford UK’s Walter Hayes, Ford supported the Cosworth developed DFV of course.
The Serenissima engine was designed as a sports car unit and gave little power. The ‘M166’ engine was an aluminium, chain driven, quad cam, 2 valve V8 displacing 2996cc (91.5X57.0 mm bore/stroke) 350 bhp was claimed for it but most of the horses seemed to have jumped ship between Italy and the UK, the actual output was more like 260bhp.
M2B was modified to take the side exhaust Italian V8 in time for the Belgian GP, at Spa. The team had great trouble just getting the thing to start, then run and to add insult to injury it ran its bearings after its first exploratory laps having qualified 16th. With no spare engine Bruce was a non-starter.
Bruce and his young intended McLaren F1 team-mate Chris Amon (who raced M1B Chev CanAm cars for Bruce in 1966) then departed England for France and returned as Le Mans winners in a factory Ford GT Mk2. That contentious win or perhaps ‘first over the line’ is still the subject of discussion and debate amongst enthusiasts and historians alike even all these decades later.
Jack Brabham won both the French Grand Prix at Reims and the British at Brands Hatch in BT19 Repco. The M2B-Serenissima contested the Brands race with more success, the engine was reliable. Bruce started superbly on a damp track on wets running in the top six. As the road dried he dropped back but inherited 6th scoring McLaren’s first World Championship point. A significant day in Grand Prix history indeed.
At the Dutch GP the Serenissima engine again failed, the McLaren F1 program was set aside pending development of the Indy Ford V8. Amongst other changes the engine was fitted with Chrysler Hemi inspired induction tracts which lifted its output to around 312bhp at 9500rpm.
The beast re-appeared in the United States GP at Watkins Glen, Bruce finished 5th by surviving a race of mechanical mayhem but in the final race of ’66, won by John Surtees’ Cooper T81 Maserati, the Mexican GP, the engine blew after 70 laps having qualified 14th.
Bruce cast around for a better alternative engine for 1967 and was a happy customer of BRM’s prospective 4 cam, 2 valve V12 which was designed as both an F1 and sportscar unit. The prototype (Group 6) capacity limit at the time was 3 litres so it made good commercial sense for BRM to build customer engines to replace the P56 V8’s which raced in endurance events as well as Grands Prix. BRM’s complex H16 was their factory F1 unit at the time but it was problematic to say the least…not available to customers (post Lotus) and probably not wanted by Bruce in any event!
A new one-off M5A monocoque chassis was designed for this engine designated ‘P101’, but the BRM V12 was running late, the M5A didn’t appear until the Canadian GP at Mosport in August.
So a gorgeous little car was used in the interim; the McLaren M4B BRM V8 was based on Bruce’ M4A F2 car but instead of Ford’s little 1.6 litre FVA the engine bay carried a 2.1 litre version of BRM’s venerable, powerful, small and reliable P56 V8 which had won Graham Hill’s 1962 World Championship, countless GP’s and Tasman Series events. This Tasman BRM V8 engine gave circa 280bhp. ‘Belly’ fuel tanks gave the F2 derived F1 car sufficient fuel for 200 miles.
M4B BRM made its debut in Bruce’ hands in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on 13 March. It finished 4/6th in heats one/two but then its engine blew after 1 lap of the final after Bruce muffed a change in heat two. 5th places followed in the two heats and final of the Daily Express Spring Cup at Oulton Park and in the International Trophy at Silverstone on 15 April where Bruce was again, you guessed it, 5th!
So, the little car had plenty of race miles on it as the team transporter headed to Monaco, the little M4B was tailor-made for the tight street circuit, but Jim Clark and Graham Hill were in similar hybrids; 1.5 F1 Lotus 33’s with stretched Tasman V8 Coventry Climax and BRM engines respectively.
‘But Bruces’ battery was running flat – forcing a dramatic pit stop – Bruce could well have finished second behind fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme’s victorious Repco Brabham. Some of the spirit of Formula One in those days is typified by the pit stop as Bruce believed his misfire was fuel pressure and bawled as much at his crew. But Jack Brabham, friend and rival had come into the pits and was shouting ‘it’s your battery – it’s your battery!’ As Bruce wrote: Good old Jack. It was the battery and we quickly whipped another one on. He rejoined and finished fourth – three further championship points … thanks in part to a rival team chief!’ records the Bruce McLaren Trust.
The M4B was then badly damaged on lap two of the Dutch GP at Zandvoort as Bruce went off on spilled oil in the fast Huzaren Viak corner. After repair he was testing it at Goodwood when it caught fire out on the circuit, he then watched it burn to death! The ’67 Dutch is also remembered of course for the debut of the Lotus 49 and more importantly the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 which powered it.
Without a car, Bruce did a deal with Dan Gurney to drive the lanky Californian’s V12 Eagle T1G Weslake, Dan was in sparkling form in an All-American dream week having won two significant races in the Le Mans 24 Hour classic (Ford Mk4 with AJ Foyt co-driving) and at the Belgian GP in the Eagle thereby following the footsteps of Brabham as a GP winning driver of a car he built. It was a path Bruce would also traverse in the 1968 Belgian GP in his Cosworth powered M7A. Bruce was quick in Dan’s car, at the Circuit Bugatti Le Mans he qualified the big car 5th to Dans 3rd but they were both outed in the race, Bruce with ignition problems and Dan with a fuel line issue.
Two weeks later at Silverstone Jim Clark was in sparkling form and convincingly won the British GP. Bruce and Dan qualified 10th and 5th with Bruce this time outed with engine problems and Dan a failing clutch. Consistency in build and preparation of the Weslake V12 were amongst its issues, its fair to say the demands of two ‘Number Ones’ perhaps placed much more pressure on the resources of Gurney’s small team, than getting one machine ready to a high standard. I’ve never read anything about what Bruce, like Dan, one of the supreme engineer/tester/drivers thought of the T1G or its engine. I’m intrigued to know if any of you have something of that nature published ‘in period’ in your collections.
The supreme test of the Nurburgring followed on August 6 where again both drivers qualified well, 5th and 4th for Bruce and Dan respectively but again both failed to finish; Bruce with unspecified mechanical mayhem and Gurney’s superb bolide with driveshaft failure.
Later in 1967 was a busy time for McLaren. Whilst the F1 program was still formative its CanAm challenge was very mature. Bruce and Robins Chev V8 engined M6A was the result of learnings of the previous years, in both Bruce’ M1’s and other cars he raced. The ’67 Can Am commenced on September 3 at Road America and finished in Las Vegas two months later, the ‘papaya cars’ took 5 of the 6 rounds and Bruce the title, a remarkably well deserved one at that.
The Colnbrook build team had the Can Am cars well clear of the workshop by the time they mated the late arriving BRM V12 to the M5A chassis. Bruce was ‘razor sharp’, his driving buoyed by both the competitiveness of the team ‘Stateside and his individual performances in these oh-so-beautifully designed, engineered and executed sports-racers.
The M5A monocoque chassis abandoned Mallite which was considered too complex to shape and heavy in favour of aluminium sheet, the car having a fully stressed section enclosing the drivers legs, the area above his kness left open for maintenance access. The gearbox was the DG300 Hewland also used in the smaller BRM V8 engined car.
BRM’s 24 valve P101 V12 was originally designed for sports-prototype use by Geoff Johnson. The engines bore/stroke were 73.8X57.2mm for a capacity of 2998cc with a compression ratio of 12:1. The Lucas injected, chain driven 4 cam, 2 valve engine produced 369bhp at 9750rpm on 14 August, engine ‘P101-003’ put to good use by Bruce during the Canadian Grand Prix.
During the race the hot oil tank cooked the battery, Bruce gained on the leaders till spinning in the greasy conditions.
At Monza the combination showed just how competitive they were; Bruce popped the thing on the front row, with 20 laps to go he and Surtees were racing wheel to wheel for a dash to the flag when a BRM cylinder liner dropped, the car withdrew on lap 4 with Surtees and Braham running to the line, Jack was outfoxed by John on the last corner of the race.
The M5A retired in both the US and Mexico and was used by the reigning World Champion, Denny Hulme in the first race of 1968, the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami.
But the F1 world had changed late in 1967, by Walter Hayes decision to make the Ford DFV available to customers; he convinced Colin Chapaman to waive the exclusivity agreement Lotus had to use the engine which allowed Bruce and Robin Herd (and Ken Tyrrell in 1968 as well as Lotus) to design a bespoke chassis to suit the 408bhp DFV.
The bathtub aluminium monocoque M7A made a splendid debut winning the ’69 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch with the boss taking the win from pole and jagging the fastest lap to boot!
A new chapter in McLaren history was underway, DFV powered McLarens won World Titles for Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976, stories for another time…
The Bruce McLaren Trust, ‘History of The GP Car’ Doug Nye, The GP Encyclopaedia
Dave Friedman Archive, Cahier Archive, Ron Laymon, Ed Lacey, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Ron Laymon, Getty Images, Brian Watson, GP Library, Nigel Smuckatelli, The Enthusiast Network
Tailpiece: ‘BRDC Intl Trophy’, Silverstone, 29 April 1967. From small acorns do big things grow. Bruce, Teddy and the boys, a few passers by. Perhaps it’s Friday, and M4B/1 BRM P56/60 V8…