Archive for May, 2014


Steve McQueen , the ‘King of Cool’ to a couple of generations fettles his Jaguar XKSS on the set of ‘Wanted : Dead or Alive’…

McQueens movie exploits included such classics as ‘The Magnificent Seven’, ’The Great Escape’, ’The Thomas Crown Affair’, ’Papillon’, and in an automotive sense ‘Bullitt’ and the iconic racing movie ‘Le Mans’, ‘up there’ with ‘Grand Prix’ and now ‘Rush’ perhaps as THE racing movie.

‘Wanted : Dead or Alive’ ran as a tele-series in the US from 1958 to 1961 McQueen playing the role of bounty hunter Josh Randall, it essentially made his career, he was the first TV star to cross over to equivalent movie success.

He was a car, ‘bike and motor racing fanatic  competing early in his career until the studios said ‘its racing or us, your choice!’.

Amongst the cars he owned were Cooper T62 Formula Junior, Lotus 11 Le Mans, Austin Healey (Sebring) Sprite, Porsche 1600 Super, AC Cobra and perhaps most famously the Porsche 908 he placed second in the 1970 Sebring 12 Hour race, one of the Blue Riband endurance events then as now.

revvie and steve

Revvie and McQueen being interviewed by Chris Economaki at the end of Sebring 1970. Revson looks fresh enough to do another race! Revson on the cusp of greatness at the time. (Dave Friedman)

Sebring 12 Hour ’70…

In those days Grand Prix Drivers also competed in the World Endurance Championship, McQueens  co-driver Peter Revson, a Lola Can Am racer in 1970 ,and later a Grand Prix winner with Mclaren drove the greater number of laps but McQueen  who raced in a plaster cast as a consequence of a broken ankle in a motorbike accident several weeks before was no slouch in a field which included Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx ,Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert and many more. The race was won by Andretti, Ignazio Giunti and Nino Vaccarella in a works Ferrari 512S.

Steve in pits

McQueens own company ,Solar Productions, made ‘Le Mans’ , ‘his cars owned cv’ therefore includes the cars used in making the film ; Ferrari 512S, Porsche 917, LolaT70, Ford GT40, Chevron B16 and so on…some of the best sports cars of all time.


The Jaguar XKSS is the roadgoing variant of Jaguars ‘50s endurance winner the XK’D’ Type which won Le Mans 3 years on the trot , 1955-57. McQueens car is chassis number # 713, construction of the cars ending with the awful fire which all but destroyed Jags’ Browns Lane, Coventry factory in February 1957. 16 were built and later that year 2 more D Types were converted to full XKSS specs, but retaining their XKD chassis plates.

The division between the seats of the ‘D’ were cut away, headrest removed, and a windscreen fitted. The spartan interior was trimmed, a ‘pack rack’ mounted on the boot, hood and sidescreens fabricated.

Most of the cars went to the ‘States and all retained their D Type mechanical specifications making them amongst the fastest road cars of their day…3.4 litre DOHC straight 6, 3 X 45 DCO3 Webers , 4 speed box, independent front suspension, live rear axle, Dunlop disk brakes, circa 250 BHP and good for between 124 and 166 miles per hour dependent upon the final drive ratio specified.

The automotive tastes and talent of the ‘King of Cool’ were great, McQueen died of cancer, aged 50 on November 7 1980

D Type cutout

Jaguar ‘XKSS’ Cutaway drawing ‘The Autocar’ magazine


Mc Queen D Type

Checkout this YouTube footage of  the ex McQueen XKSS # 713 in Jay Leno’s hands…

Photo Credits…

Photos ‘Pinterest’ unattributed, ‘The Autocar’ cutaway, ‘Profile Publications’, Dave Friedman

pistol 2

The John Wyer Engineering Porsche 917K of Siffert/Redman/Kinnunen (DNF) passes the Solar Productions Porsche 908/2 of McQueen/Revson

pistol 3


photo (4) Col Goldie, Winton, Benalla, Victoria, Australia late 1970’s (unattributed)

Australian Sportscar Championship, the ‘Endeavour Cup’, Phillip Island 1975…

One of the stranger public relations exercises in 1975 was Alfa Romeo Australia’s entry of a motor-show circuit-Queen in the Australian Sports Car Championship.

The one race Endeavour Cup, 30 laps, 143km held at Phillip Island on 30 November attracted a strong field of 40 or so Group A or Can-Am type open sportscars, Production Sports and Clubman cars.

Elfin’s Garrie Cooper built a new car to contest sportscar racing in 1974, his MS7 Repco was powered by one of his F5000 Repco Holden engines, using all of the experience Ansett Team Elfin had gained in running 5-litre single-seater cars since 1971. The Elfin would offer the Alfa’s major competition.

Tipo 33/3 ‘75080-005’ Coupe…

The superb looking Alfa Tipo 33/3 had been on the show circuit for some years, including an appearance at the Melbourne Motor Show in early 1975.

Alfa’s Tipo 33 in various forms was Autodelta’s entry in the World Sports Car Championship or Championship of Makes for over ten years with Alfa winning the championship in 1975 and 1977 using flat-12, circa 500-530bhp 33TT12 and 33SC12 machines.

Vaccarella, T33/3 Coupe during the 1969 Solituderennen at Hockenheim (Autodelta)
Above and this photo. Nino Vaccarella, Alfa T33/3 Coupe on the grid for the Coppa Citta di Enna on 15 August, he won from the Bonomelli Porsche 906 and ‘Nicor’ Alfa T33/2. The other car on the grid is a McLaren/Serennissima, driver unknown (unattributed)

The Tipo 33/3 Coupe was built in 1969, the accepted history is that the car was updated by Autodelta in 1971 and is possibly chassis #75080-005. The consensus is that the car is the machine raced by Nino Vaccarella at Hockenheim in July 1969. He popped the swoopy-coupe on pole at the Solituderennen and finished third behind Hans Hermann in David Piper’s Lola T70 Mk3B Chev, and Gerhard Koch in a Porsche 908/02. A month later in Sicily, he won the Coppa Citta di Enna against modest opposition. The rest is a bit uncertain, but at some point, perhaps 1971, a 4-litre DOHC, four-valve, circa 510bhp V8 replaced the 3-litre circa 400bhp four-valve unit originally fitted when raced by the Sicilian.

The 4-litre unit was developed for Can-Am series use. Chassis T33/3 75080-023 was raced by the Otto Zipper team with both 3 and 4-litre motors fitted, it was driven by Scooter Patrick without much success in the famous Group 7 series in 1970 and 1971. The results are hardly surprising given the 7-litre papaya coloured monsters (McLaren M8D/F Chev et al) running up front.

Zipper’s “4-litre car, a T33/3 was often referred to as a T33/4” according to Collins and McDonough. In the same way that T33/2s which raced with 2.5-litre V8s did not become T33/2.5s when so fitted, so too, our subject car when fitted with its 4-litre V8 did not become a T33/4.

Both the Zipper and our subject car, are Tipo 33/3s. These are type, or model numbers, not engine capacities. To differentiate both cars (Zipper and the subject car) from T33/3s fitted with the usual 3-litre V8, the correct description is Tipo 33/3 4-litre. If evidence can be produced of Autodelta or Alfa Romeo using the T33/4 model designation in period, I stand corrected.

In addition to the engine change, the T33/3 4-litre’s curvaceous original nose (see photos) was replaced by one to later 1971 specifications, which is as it raced in Australia. No photographs have come to light of the car competing in this later form elsewhere in the world.

The Alfa is a marked contrast visually with Cooper’s Elfin which aerodynamically was influenced by the all-conquering 1972/3 Can-Am Porsche 917/10-30.

By 1972 the Alfa T33/3 4-litre was being used as a promotional tool by Alfa Romeo globally in car shows, some poor quality photographs online show it in Beijing that year in the form shown below.

33 front

The Race…

The exotic Alfa Romeo created a lot of interest but it wasn’t race prepared, and was fitted with a tall set of unsuitable gear ratios. It smoked its way around the ‘Island for three days, Fred Gibson did a great job of bringing the gorgeous, misfiring car home in third place.

Fred was in Alfa Romeo’s touring car squad at the time running 105 Series 2000 GTVs, but his pedigree included a potent Brabham BT16 Climax Tasman 2.5 single seater and a 5 litre-Elfin 400/R&T Chev sports car. His considerable engineering prowess and mechanical sympathy brought the car home and gave we spectators the chance to see the fabulous car race in Australia for its one and only appearance. A lesser driver would not have been able to stroke the thing home.

Garrie Cooper ran away with the event, his sprint car was far quicker than the heavy endurance racer, unprepared as it was. Henry Michell was second in the Elfin 360 Repco 2.5 in which he won the Australian Sports Car Championship in 1974 (a four race series). Fourth was Paul Gibson in a Rennmax Repco 2.5 and fifth, Stuart Kostera in an ex-Frank Matich, Matich SR3A.

The shrill note of the 2.5-litre Repco Tasman’ V8s and muscular note of the Alfa, also running a single plane crankshaft was in marked contrast to the basso-profundo bellow of the Chev and Repco Holden production based V8’s – that long straight and open nature of Phillip Island was, and still is an aural and visual feast.

autopics Lap 1, Cooper’s Elfin MS7 Repco from Keith Poole’s Gardos McLaren M8 Chev, Jim Phillip’s Rennmax Repco, Henry Michell Elfin 360 Repco…fifth car back on the inside is Fred Gibson in the Alfa T33/3

I was there for the weekend which also featured the final round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship. Geoff Brabham won that race and title in a Birrana 274 Hart-Ford, then headed off to Europe to pursue F3 and subsequent fame and fortune.

The ordinary black and white paddock shots were the best I could manage with my little Olympus Trip 35 but show the cars lines well. Call it Alfas 917 or 512S in looks without quite the success rate!


The Tipo 33/3 was sold to Melbourne Alfista Ern Stock for a nominal sum, and the cost of outstanding Customs duties, it was just an old racing car after all!

Stock was more of an old-car-guy than a racer, the car appeared at an Alfa Romeo Owners Club day at Winton driven by Col Goldie once. It also did a few laps of a Canberra Motel carpark at an Alfesta – the annual Easter gathering of the Australian Alfa Romeo clubs – one morning in the early 1980s. The poor old Canberra pollies had not heard such excitement since the Petrov Affair!

Eventually the car was Hoovered up by an American dealer as cars of its ilk became global Automotive Monets.

Only Alfa would have done the nutty thing they did, but god bless ’em for doing so, the car was worth travelling a long way to see and hear. It only ran in Australia, just once!

photo (5) Fred Gibson, Phillip Island 1975

The scrappy photos above and below show the car being driven in anger. While perhaps not as pretty as in its original 1969 guise the machine has a muscular beauty all of its own – quite Ferrari 512S like.

It does make you wonder how it could have fared had it raced at 4-litres in 1970 or 1971 in endurance events. I’m not suggesting it would have knocked off the Ferrari or dominant Porsche 917 mind you, but in 1971 the T33/3 3-litre prototypes were quicker and more reliable than hitherto, taking wins at Brands Hatch, Targa and Watkins Glen thereby giving Alfa Romeo/Autodelta a very well deserved second placing behind Porsche, in the International Championship of Makes; a 4-litre Coupe in the mix is an interesting mighta-been?


Fred Gibson, Phillip Island 1975

G1 (3) (M Bisset)

Butt shot at Phillip Island 1975. With the addition of fresh rubber and attention to coolant, lubricants and brake fluid, a safety check and a wheel alignment it was off-we-go-with-what-we-have, superb opportunism by Alfa Australia really.

With a fresh engine and suitable ratios the car would have been competitive, but would not have knocked off Cooper’s Elfin. Melbourne Alfista and historian, Vin Sharp, recalls that Ern Stock bought a second engine with the car. Presumably the spares’ health was unknown otherwise the team could have swapped engines overnight at the Island to address the weekend long misfire.

photo (15) (M Bisset)
image T33/3 cutaway…Spider not Coupe but indicative otherwise (unattributed)


retirement Alfa Romeo T33/3 ‘75080-?’ Retirement in the US and a new identity as a ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’ apparently (unattributed) wrote in an article about the ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’, that the T33 was ‘Driven by Pescarolo and De Adamich in three liter form in Europe, it was later run with a 4 liter V8 in Europe’s InterSeries (in blue livery) driven by Teodoro Zeccoli. Later sent to Australia, at the request of Sig Tadini of Alfa-Romeo, Australia, the car was campaigned in the Tasman Cup, since it was already fitted with the larger V-8. It was driven by Graham Lawrence. It was brought to the United States in 1988’ our star writer/researcher wrote. Richard Cranium is his name I suspect.

I can be accused of slavishly following, what has on occasion turned out to be the utter crap written by others, but this nonsense is a total crock-of-shit.

The T33/3 Coupe was never, ever, referred to as a ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’ in period – in any period, not at least until it became a beauty princess in the USA.

The Tasman Series in 1970 was a championship of seven races in New Zealand and Australia that January/February for Tasman 2.5 (and under) and Formula 5000 single-seater racing cars. Not 3-litre or 4-litre or sportscars of any sort. The ’70 Tasman was won by Graeme (not Graham) Lawrence, a Kiwi, in an ex-Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T, a little, itty-bitty, red, cigar shaped cutey-car which bares little similarity to a big, red, butch 1969 Alfa Romeo T33/3 Coupe or a ‘1970 Alfa Romeo T33/4 Tasman Coupe’, whatever that is.

Lets raise a glass to utter Disney-esque, fanciful bullshit…


(T Bartsch)

Another shot of Col Goldie?, Amaroo Park ‘Tribute to Alfa Romeo’ meeting in the eighties.

(C Schmitz)

The car when owned by Ern Stock during an Alfesta in Canberra, 1982.

(D Willis)

Dick Willis and Colin Bond (left) with the Tipo 33/3 4-litre during the launch of the Alfa 33 road car at Dick’s Coffs Harbour Alfa Romeo/Datsun dealership in 1984.

Bondy was racing Alfa’s amongst other things by that stage, and was present as an ‘Alfa Ambassadore’ as Dick put it.

(Walter Anker)

Smile kid. ‘Walter Anker’ and our star car date and place unknown.

Photo and other Credits…

Autopix, Alfa Bulletin Board, Vin Sharp, Autodelta, Mark Bisset,, ‘World Sports Racing Prototypes’-,, Claudy Schmitz, Dick Willis, Tim Bartsch, ‘Alfa Romeo Tipo 33:The development & racing history’ Peter Collins & Ed McDonough


photo (2)

Ronnie Peterson, ’70 Belgian GP, non-classified with too few laps. Pedro Rodriguez won the closely contested race in his BRM P153 by a second from Chris Amon’s March 701 Ford. (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Ronnie Peterson and Colin Crabbe…

This superb shot is of Ronnie Peterson at La Source hairpin, Spa 1970 aboard privateer Colin Crabbe’s ‘Antique Automobiles’ March 701 Ford.

In the good ‘ole days one could, if one had the ‘readies’, buy a car, pay the entry fees and race in Grands’ Prix.

Perhaps the greatest in ‘modern times’ was Rob Walkers Team (he of the whisky company) which scored the first championship victories for Cooper and Lotus (in Stirling Moss’ hands) and the last victory for a privateer team when Jo Siffert triumphed in Walkers Lotus 49 in the 1968 British GP.

Since the early 1980’s the FIA have mandated that F1 entrants own the intellectual rights to the chassis they enter, in essence meaning the entrant builds the car and races it ending the long tradition of private entrants buying and racing cars built by others in the sports highest echelons.

Crabbe’s ‘Antique Automobile’ business entered Vic Elford in a Mclaren M7 in 1969. March’s Max Moseley offered Crabbe/Peterson a 701, all Colin needed to provide were the engine and ‘box both of which he happened to have from the previous years campaign with Elford. And the ‘readies’ of course which he was confident of securing through trade support.

Peterson jumped from the F3 ruck in ‘69 winning the European F3 Championship including the Monaco F3 race in a Tecno. At the end of the the year he raced the very first March, the 693 F3 car which James Hunt also raced that winter.

ronniw monaco 69

Ronnie on his way to winning the ‘XI Grand Prix de Monaco-F3’ 1969. Car is a Tecno 69 Ford, he won from Reine Wisell Chevron B15 Ford and Jean-Pierre Jabouille Alpine A360 Renault. The field also included future F1 drivers Schenken, Depailler, Jaussaud, Ganley and Beuttler. (unattributed)

The Birth of March…

Due to unusual circumstances March’s first year in the sport resulted in them supplying customer F1 ‘701’ cars to the reigning world champion Team Tyrrell who were unable to run Matras’ with a Ford Cosworth engine as they had in the previous 2 years. The French concern wanted their own V12 to be used exclusively in their cars.

Jackie Stewart tested the MS120 but was convinced the DFV remained the superior engine, Lotus and Brabham were not prepared to sell Tyrrell cars so off to Bicester Ken went; no pressure on designer Robin Herd in designing a car for the reigning world champ!

Matra never won a GP with their own V12 engined car, despite going very close with their single car Chris Amon entries in 1971/72, that  Matra honor going later to Ligier with Jacques Laffite’s first GP win in Sweden ‘77.

That Tyrrell couldn’t buy a competitive car was the reason he became a manufacturer rather than a privateer, he set designer Derek Gardner to work on the first Tyrrell which appeared in late 1970.

But I digress. March also sold a ‘privateer’ 701 driven occasionally by Mario Andretti in addition to the March ‘works cars’ for Chris Amon and Jo Siffert, a remarkable roll call of drivers in a constructors first year, not the full list either!

Aussie rival, friend and ’72 Ferrari 312P sports car teammate Tim Schenken nicknamed Peterson ‘Mad Ronald’, observing up close one of the sports ‘automotive acrobats’ sublime car control, tail out ‘balls to the wall’ style in the mould of Nuvolari, Rindt and Gilles Villeneuve.

The 701 was not the ‘cream of the 1970 crop’ but it was good enough to win the Spanish GP in Stewart’s hands.


Peterson at Monaco 1970, Q12 and 7th place a mighty fine GP debut. March 701 Ford. Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49C Ford won a famous last lap victory after pressuring Jack Brabham into an error in his BT33 Ford. (The Cahier Archive)

Ronnie did well in his car ‘701-08’ justifying March’s faith in him and the rest , as they say, is history, Petersen won 9 Grands Prix for Lotus as well as March’s only factory team win, their ‘prodigal son’ returned in mid 1976 frustrated by the uncompetitiveness of his Lotus 76 and took the Italian GP in a March 761 Ford.

Peterson, racing a Lotus 78 was an innocent victim of an accident at the start of the 1978 Italian Grand Prix and died of his injuries the following day.


Ronnie Peterson , March 701 Ford ,US GP, Watkins Glen ’70. 11th in the race won by Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus 72, his first GP win. (unattributed)

march cutaway 701

March 701-08 cutaway drawing. Aluminium monocoque chassis, Ford DFV 3 litre V8, Hewland DG300 gearbox, classic and very effective ‘British F1 Kit Car’ of the period. Car first raced at Monaco in May 1970. 11 March 701 chassis’ built.

Photo Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, The Cahier Archive,

photo (3)

No ‘Tom Toms’ in those days! Superb PR shot shows the beautiful lines to great effect…

Not too many of the 1400 cars didn’t end up in the US , the cars of Sophia Loren & Pablo Picasso exceptions.

The road going variant of Rudi Uhlenhauts ’52 Le Mans winning 300SL was the most advanced road car of its day ; space frame chassis, the gull-wing doors necessary to clear the frame side members, front and rear independent rear suspension and dry-sumped, fuel injected 240 BHP 3 litre straight 6 cylinder engine made it the fastest road going car of its day as well…and one of the sexiest.

A bit like Sophia Loren really.


slr build

Factory SLR build shot shows off the cars spaceframe chassis, engine, front and rear suspension and big drum brakes to good effect (unattributed)




Cutaway Shin Yoshikawa, Vic Berris