Archive for January, 2015

Graham Hill Ferguson P99

(John Ellacott)

Graham Hill working his radical four wheel drive Ferguson P99 Climax hard to stay in front of the mid-engined paradigm, Homestead Corner, Warwick Farm, Sydney…

Jack Brabham won the race from John Surtees and Bruce McLaren in Brabham BT4, LolaMk4A and Cooper  T62 respectively, all powered by Coventry Climax FPF 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ engines. Bored versions of Climax’ successful 2.5 litre F1 Championship winning motors. Hill finished 6th in his 2.5 litre FPF powered car. At the time Australian National F1 was Formula Libre, the ‘2.5 Tasman Formula’ commenced in 1964.

agp prizegivig 1963

David Mckay congratulates Jack Brabham, Brabham victorious in his BT4. A very relaxed, bearded Stirling Moss wearing that great Australian footwear fashion icon, rubber ‘thongs’ looks on. Moss still recovering from his Easter Monday, 23 April 1962, near fatal and career ending Goodwood Lotus crash. Mckay a great Australian driver and ‘Scuderia Veloce’ team owner/patron. McKay finished 4th in the race also Brabham BT4 Climax mounted. (David Mist)

Hill also raced the Rob Walker entered, 2.5 litre FPF engined car at the ‘Lakeside International’, in Queensland the following weekend finishing second to Surtees on this very fast track, not necessarily the sort of circuit on which one might expect the car to shine. Hill was victorious in a wet preliminary race on the Saturday, the car excelling in the wet conditions.

hill lakeside p99 in the wet

Graham Hill in the wet Lakeside preliminary event he won in P99. Lakeside. (John Stanley)

P99’s ‘Summer Sunshine Tour’ started in New Zealand in January the car being campaigned by ‘newly minted’ World Champion Graham Hill, victorious in his BRM P57 in 1962, and Innes Ireland.

I posted this short article a while back about Hills’ 1962 Championship winning car;

Hill drove in the NZGP, held at the brand new Pukekohe circuit on January 5, DNF with gearbox dramas on the second last lap, Surtees won in his Lola.

nz gp 1963

Start of the ’63 NZGP at Pukekohe. Surtees left and McLaren right LolaMk4a and Cooper T62 get the jump at the start. Hill is on the far right in P99. Beside Surtees and back is his teammate Tony Maggs LolaMk4a, the green nose of Amons’ Cooper T53 and Brabhams turquoise Brabham BT4…all Coventry Climax powered. (

Hill then returned to the UK, Ireland handling the car at Levin, Wigram and Teretonga on the 12th, 19th and 26th of January respectively. Innes was third at Wigram, victory going to Brabhams’ BT4, he retired with overheating at Wigram, the race won by Bruce McLarens’ Cooper T62 and was third at Teretonga, McLaren again victorious.

The car was then shipped to Sydney for the Warwick Farm AGP and finally north to Brisbane by road before returning to the UK.

lakeside on ute p99

Lakeside Queensland paddock scene 1963. P99 middle of shot lashed onto an open trailer behind a Holden FC ‘Station Wagon’, as we call an ‘Estate’ in Oz. The car travelled the 950 Km from Warwick Farm on Sydneys’ outskirts to Lakeside, north of Brisbane. McLarens Cooper T62 is at the front of this group, and the red nose car is Maggs’ Lola Mk4a. (Ray Bell)


Graham Hill looking pretty relaxed at Lakeside in 1963 (J Psaros)

Ferguson Research…

The Ferguson Family Museum summarises the P99 as follows…’The creation of the Ferguson Formula four wheel drive system began shortly after World War II.

Harry Ferguson had always loved the world of motorsport and had a vision of creating a four wheel drive system with the purpose of improving road safety. The Ferguson car, ‘the R5’, was 40 years ahead of its time. It featured four wheel drive, anti-lock braking, electric windows, disc brakes and a hatchback design, it was the forerunner of the modern car.

ferguson r5

Not the prettiest of things but 4WD, powered by belt driven SOHC 2.2 litre engine, 4 wheel discs, ABS…all at the time of the Cortina Mk1. This car has escaped me, i have included John Bolsters’ Autosport road test of the prototype at the bottom of this post. (Autocar)

Harry Ferguson decided the best way to prove the importance of four wheel drive and anti-skid braking was to demonstrate it on a successful Formula 1 car.

In 1950 designer, Claude Hill, Brooklands Riley racer, Fred Dixon and Tony Rolt, a POW escapee and 24 hour Le Mans winner, teamed up with Harry Ferguson to start development on what was later to become the world’s only Formula 1 winning four wheel drive car – Project 99.

Later the Ferguson Formula four wheel drive system was widely adopted by rally cars and the motor industry worldwide in the form of the viscous coupling. Although designed as a racing car P99 was also a research vehicle intended to show the advantages and reliability of the four wheel drive system. What better way to generate public interest than to successfully race a car using the Ferguson Formula four wheel drive’.

p 99 fettled lakeside

P99 being fettled by Rob Walkers team at Lakeside, February 1963. Thats’ G Hills legs in the driving suit at rear of the car. Lovely alloy body, Climax 2.5 FPF 4 pot engine, spaceframe chassis and upper and lower wishbone/ coil spring damper units, alloy Dunlop wheels,vestigial roll over bar all clear in this shot. (Peter Mellor)

P99 Design and Specifications…

p 99 cutawy

Spaceframe chassis, 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine circa 235bhp. Suspension front and rear by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Rack and pinion steering. Dunlop disc brakes and alloy wheels. Ferguson 5 speed box and 4WD transfer case…(James Allington)

Ferguson hired Claude Hill from Aston Martin to design the car. He used a then ‘state of the art’ space-frame chassis, front and rear suspension comprising upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/Armstrong damper units and adjustable sway bars. Brakes were Dunlop anti-lock, which was tested but unraced.

Lightweight Dunlop alloy wheels were used, steering is rack and pinion.

The clever bit was of course the 4WD system. It comprised a transfer box bolted directly to the 5 speed gearbox. The Climax engine was installed at an angle to allow space for the driveshaft to the front differential. The rear driveshaft was installed on the left side of the chassis, the driving position slightly off centre to the right. Similar to the weight balance, the torque was evenly divided between the front and rear wheels.

P99 was planned for the 2.5-litre F1 utilising the championship winning Coventry Climax FPF 235bhp, DOHC, four-cylinder engine. The rules changed and Formula 1 was restricted to 1.5-litres from 1961, which meant the extra weight of the four-wheel-drive system was a handicap. The Intercontinental series was established for the old 2.5-litre engined F1’s, to be raced in 1962, the Ferguson was therefore built to accommodate both the Climax 1.5 (151bhp) and 2.5 litre (235bhp) FPF motors.

The whole project took less than a year.

There were to be no concessions in relation to tolerance. Perfection would only just be good enough. Dixon was right when he calculated that differentials, bearings, gears and other drivetrain parts could be lighter if the energy was dispersed to four wheels rather than two.

Ferguson’s central differential system, which would be the key to Peugeot’s and later Audi’s rally success in the 1980s, could balance out the delivery of that power to the wheels.

Ferguson were keen to try the Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock brake system, the whole assembly would eventually find its way into the automotive mainstream some 30 years later. Sadly, Harry Ferguson died before his dream took to the track and it was Rolt who eventually became the projects’ driving force.

P99 rear shot

P99 from aft. Rear suspension detail; upper and lower wishbone and adjustable Armstrong shock. You can just see the driveshaft below the upright. Beautiful ally bodywork of pretty car. Driving position offset to the right, gearchange for 5 speed box to drivers left, right side more conventional in a single seater. (Unattributed)

By 1961 Mid-Engined cars were de-rigeur the Front-Engine GP car obsolete, so the Ferguson P99 was a complete dark horse…

moss aintree

Stirling Moss, Aintree British GP 1961. On a charge and soon to be disqualified. The photograph below is of Jack Fairman earlier in the race before he pitted to allow Moss to take over the car (Unattributed)


(Simon Lewis Transport Books)

Launched at the 1961 British Empire Trophy at Silverstone, Jack Fairman drove the car which was entered by Rob Walker. The P99 had mechanical problems and didn’t finish.

Its next outing was at Aintree in the British Grand Prix. Rob Walker entered a Lotus 18 for Moss and the P99 for Jack Fairman, when the Lotus 18/21 brake pipe broke Moss took over the P99. The P99 was under investigation by the Stewards when Moss took it over because Fairman had a push start from the pits, which was not allowed by the rules- as a consequence the car was black-flagged on lap 57, his progress to that point had been swift…

For the September 1961 Oulton Park Gold Cup, Moss returned in the P99 and to his delight, it was a classically British summer’s day – 57 degrees, steady drizzle and a wet track! Moss won the race by 46 seconds from Jack Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax, the only F1 race ever won by a four-wheel-drive car.

moss oulton gold cup

Moss wins the 1961 Oulton Park “Gold Cup’ in P99. The only GP win for a 4WD drive car, albeit Non-Championship F1 race. Greasy conditions tailor made for the fabulous, innovative car. (Unattributed)

The CSI then banned four-wheel-drive from F1.

Moss had the option of using the Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock brakes but preferred to turn them off and use his own judgment. They would reappear in 1967 on the Jensen FF- the Chrysler-power coupé that was a four-wheel-drive version of the Interceptor utilising both the Ferguson four-wheel-drive and anti-lock brakes.

The Ferguson P99 then raced in New Zealand and Australia in 1963 as outlined above fitted with a 2.5-litre engine in our 1963 F Libre International Series. It would have been interesting to see how the car would have performed with a 2.7 Litre FPF equivalent in capacity to the engines of the other front runners that summer.

hill lakeside p99 loading up

World Champ Graham Hill about to board P99. Lakeside, Queensland again. He was keen on the car, with his support BRM developed a 4WD variant of their P261/57 GP car, the BRM P67 1.5 V8 in 1964, using Ferguson technology, well ahead of the ‘1969 4WD pack’, comprising Lotus, Matra, McLaren and Cosworth. BRM P67 qualified in Richard Attwoods’ hands, second last on the British 1964 GP at Brands Hatch grid but was withdrawn from the race, circa 7 seconds off the pace. (Peter Mellor)

P99 returned to England and was lent to hillclimb racer Peter Westbury, who won the 1964 British championship with it, it also ran competitively in 1965 and 1966 and was retired in 1968.

p westbury p99

Peter Westbury, P99. Harewood Hillclimb 1964, he won the British Hillclimb Championship in the car that year. (Unattributed)

P99 also played a key role in the resurgence of 4WD at Indianapolis.

There had been a lot of activity both immediately pre and post war with Harry Miller’s 4WD specials. STP’s Andy Granatelli, on one of his trips to Europe was regaled by the recently retired Stirling Moss, his career ending accident was at Goodwood in 1962, about the dominance of his damp Oulton Park 1961 victory in P99.

Granatelli then approached Tony Rolt at Ferguson to try P99 at Indy, Jack Fairman shortly thereafter put in some impressive 140mph laps in the 2.5 litre car around the famous ‘Brickyard’.

Andy was convinced and ordered a car from Ferguson powered by the Novi V8, the 4WD setup the same FF system as used on P99 but with the split being variable from 70/30 to 60/40 rear/front instead of the P99’s fixed 50/50 split.

Bobby Unser qualified the car sixth at Indy 1964.

This is a tangent too far for this article (see ‘Etcetera below for a cutaway drawing and further details) but for those with an interest in 4WD in motor racing click on this link to a great forix.autosport article on the subject;

novi studebaker 1964

Ferguson Novi ‘STP Studebaker’ with Bobby Unser at the wheel. Indy 1964. Q6, DNF after hitting the wall seeking to avoid the fatal McDonald/Sachs accident. (Unattributed)

Four-wheel drive made another appearance in Formula 1 in 1969…

As teams struggled for more traction- the Ford Cosworth engine was developing well in excess of 400bhp at this stage, putting the power down was key to improved performance.

At the time 4WD was being used successfully at Indianapolis, it was therefore a natural direction for the F1 teams to explore, particularly Lotus who had been racing at Indy since 1962 and using 4WD competitively, putting accidents to one side, in their 1968 and 1969 contenders, the Lotus 56 Pratt & Whitney gas turbine powered car, and Lotus 64 Ford, powered by a Turbo Ford engine.

Matra, Lotus and McLaren all tried the Ferguson system and Cosworth devised their own 4WD car. The introduction of wings, which could achieve the same traction outcomes without the weight penalty, and advances in race tyre technology and widths provided simpler cost-effective solutions than persevering with 4WD.

Overall, only eight four-wheel-drive F1 cars were ever built.

Robin Herd’s Cosworth 1968 4WD design (Bennet)

In 2004  following a period of 35-plus years in the Donington Collection…

The ‘one of a kind’- only 1 chassis was ever built Ferguson P99 was retrieved by the Ferguson family to the Ferguson Family Museum on the Isle of Wight and overhauled.

The car was stripped and was in remarkably good order, it was re-assembled using all of the original parts, including the extremely rare twin-choke Weber 58 DCO carburettors and re-fitted with the totally original bodywork which still wears original Rob Walker team paint and livery.

Sir Stirling Moss drove it at the 2005 Goodwood Revival and at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix in 2008. In 2006 Moss handed it over to Barry “Whizzo” Williams at Goodwood, who started 18th and had worked his way up to third before his brakes faded, he finished in that position.

P99 still appears regularly in suitable events, its historic significance enormous.

moss p 99 in recent times

Stirling Moss in P99 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. (Unattributed)



P99 (R Roux)


p99 british gp

Cockpit shot British GP, Aintree 1961. Driving position offset to the right, gearchange for 5 speed box to the left. 1.5 litre FPF powered Climax engine in the last year of the 1.5 Litre Formula. (B St Clare-Tregilgas)


hill wf push start p99

Push start for Hill from the Warwick Farm pit counter, P99. AGP meeting 1963. (autopics)


hill wf butt shot

Hill at Warwick Farm trailing smoke from the rear. Probably practice as the car finished the race. (Adrian Schagen)


hill p99 wf mist

Evocative David Mist shot of Hill during the 1963 AGP Warwick Farm. P99. (David Mist)


p99 wf frontal rea

Hill again at Warwick Farm during the ’63 AGP, this shot showing the not inconsiderable frontal area of P99. Weight and width of car a function of ‘4WD hardware’. (autopics)


Ferguson Novi

ferguson novi page

What a wild car this is! Conceptually similar to the P99, the chassis was a spaceframe with a monocoque centre section. As you can see the suspension is inboard with rockers actuating the spring/dampers, P99 is outboard. Contrary to common Indy practice then the suspension was not offest, but the engine and transmission were, a simpler solution. Novi used Dunlop 7X15 inch tyres fitted to alloy wheels and disc brakes using alloy calipers.

The Novi engine was designed pre-War by Bud Wingfield and Leo Goossen and built by Fred Offenhauser. It was a 90 degree, DOHC V8, 2741cc in capacity. Bendix fuel injected and using a Paxton 2 stage centrifugal blower power was circa 830bhp @ 8200rpm.

The engine never won Indy but the engine and its unique sound remain iconic to this day.

R5 Prototype

fergy road car 1

Ferguson R5 road car prototype. Autosport Road Test P1.


fergy road car

R5 Road Test P2.


John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, B St Clare-Tregilgas, James Allington, Adrian Schagen, John Stanley,, David Mist, Peter Mellor,, Theo Page, Robert Roux, Autocar, Autosport, Jock Psaros, Simon Lewis Transport Books




Jim Hall and Innes Ireland chewing the fat, no doubt swapping notes on the setup of their British Racing Partnership Lotus 24 BRM’s…

The Texan took a sabbatical from his growing Chaparral Sports Car program program at home to sharpen his skills in Grand Prix racing, fortunately for motor racing innovation he decided to focus more on the engineering aspects of his programs than his driving, having said that he was a driver of absolute world class, perhaps losing his ultimate edge after his big CanAm shunt late in 1968.

Ireland, the more experienced driver and a Grand Prix winner qualified an excellent 5th, DNF after an accident, Hall qualified 13th and retired on lap 20 with gearbox failure.

Graham Hill won the first of his 5 Monaco victories after Clarks’ Lotus 25 Climax gearbox locked. Richie Ginther, Hills’ teammate was second in another BRM P57 with Bruce McLaren 3rd in a Cooper T66 Climax.

Jim Clark won the drivers championship in the Lotus 25 Climax in 1963, Halls’ best results a 5th and 6th in Germany and Britain respectively. For Ireland, 4ths in both Holland and Italy yielded 6 championship points, 3 in total for Hall.

Hall had the ability to continue in Grand Prix racing but committed to the Chaparral programs in the domestic US sports car series which would become the CanAm Championship, and two fabulous years when his innovative cars wowed fans globally in the World Sports Car Championship in 1966 and 1967.


Jim Hall cruising thru the Nurburgring paddock, German GP 1963. Lotus 24 BRM (unattributed)


jim hall mexico 1963

Jim Hall 8th in the 1963 Mexican GP, Lotus 24 BRM. Race won by Jim Clark, Lotus 25 Climax. (The Cahier Archive)


The Cahier Archive




irvine monaco 1998

Eddie Irvines Ferrari F300 nicely juxtaposed with the topography of a Monaco Apartment…

He is on the way to 3rd place in the race won by Mika Hakkinens’ McLaren MP4/13 Mercedes, Mika also winning the title that year. Eddie didn’t take a win but was on the podium eight times finishing 4th in the drivers championship behind Hakkinen, his teammate Schumacher and Coulthard in the other McLaren.

F300 Specifications…

f300 drawing

The F300 was designed by Rory Byrne to the narrower track regulations mandated by the FIA that year. The chassis was of course carbon fibre honeycomb, suspension comprising upper and lower wishbones front and rear with pushrod actuated coil spring/damper units. Brakes are ventilated carbon fibre discs. Weight 600kg with driver.

The engine was Ferrari Tipo 047, a 2997cc normally aspirated 80 degree, 40 valve V10 delivering circa 700bhp. Transmission is a longitudinally mounted semi-automatic sequential 7 speed transaxle incorporating a ‘slippery’ diff.

irvine monaco f300

Paul Henry Cahiers’ shot of Irvine at Monaco during the race…F300 considered aerodynamically inferior  to the McLaren MP4/13 but Schumacher won 6 races the car setting up the dominance of Ferrari in the decade to come. Ferrari 2nd to McLaren in the constructors championship in ’98.

f300 cutaway

Rear end detail here…upper wishbones and push-rods, springs and shocks. Car pioneered ‘periscope’ exhausts up thru the bodywork to get exhaust pipe lengths right for optimum power. Aussie Willem Toet Ferrari aerodynamicst at the time said the ‘periscopes’ were ‘not the best solution aerodynamically as the side exits, but benefits flowed from tighter rear bodywork’.

Extensive use of heat reflective materials, gearbox and driveshafts, carbon fibre undertray and V10 all clear. The cars are not necessarily pretty to look at but the engineering detail is exquisite.

cockpit f300

90’s Momo wheel of the F300. Circuit map just in case Eddie gets lost at home! (Cahier Archive)

Tony Matthews’ superb F300 cutawayshowing honeycomb carbon fibre monocoque, pedals, 7 speed semi-auto box remember. Pedal detail including master cylinders, roll bar link for adjustment. Upper and lower wishbones, pushrod and top of the spring. Front upright, disc, caliper, Goodyear tyre on 13 inch BBS wheel…tis all there!

matthes f300 cutaway

irvine top shot f300 monaco


Automobile Year, The Cahier Archive, Tony Matthews



lex balcombe

Lex Davison’s ‘Little Alfa’ leads Lyndon Duckett’s Bugatti Type 35 Anzani, the brand new body of the Alfa gleaming in the winter sun, Balcombe Army Camp, Victoria, Australia 12 June 1950…

The ‘race meeting’ at Balcombe was a small but historically significant part of Australian Motor Racing history, this wonderful shot is from the Dacre Stubbs Collection.

Balcombe paddock with Lyndon Duckett’s Bugatti T35 Anzani and the Davison Little Alfa in foreground (G McKaige)

It goes something like this, as reported in Barry Greens fine book ‘Glory Days’ which records the history of Albert Park in the 1950’s.

The army were keen to raise money for their canteen fund and asked the Light Car Club of Australia (LCCA) to run a race meeting using the grounds of their camp. The race meeting was a financial success, but key to the creation of a circuit was closure and use of a section of the Nepean Highway, the main road between Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula- permission was not forthcoming from the relevant authority

So the Balcombe meeting occurred as more of a sprint event given track limitations with two cars on the track at a time, and a series of eliminations on the day to determine the winners of the various classes.

Charlie Dean in Maybach 1- handsome and fast beast that it was, sold to Stan Jones a year or so later but maintained and developed by Charlie and his boys at Repco Research in Brunswick in the years which followed. Winner of the 1954 New Zealand GP in Jones’ hands. Recreated by John Sheppard in the eighties (G McKaige)

‘The Royal Australian Signals Corp Sprint’ for under 1500cc, ‘The Survey Corps Sports Sprint’ for over 1500cc and ‘Balcombe Apprentice School Trophy’ for outright cars were catchy names indeed!

Doug Whiteford won the outright final in his 1950 Australian Grand Prix Winning Ford V8 Spl, ‘Black Bess’, from Bill Patterson’s supercharged MG TC and Stan Jones HRG. All three were subsequently Australian champions and AGP winners.

Reg Hunt’s Hunt JAP ‘Flying Bedstead’ Spl, it’s engine installation pictured below. By 1955 he had raced 500’s for a year in the UK and was one of the fastest combinations back in Australia aboard a Maserati A6GCM- stiff not to win the AGP that year at Port Wakefield (G McKaige)


(G McKaige)

The historically significant bit is that when Bill Leech, lifelong competitor, car collector and LCCA President at the time discussed the meeting and its shortcomings as a circuit sans Nepean Highway with the Commander of Army Southern Command, he was asked ‘what can we use as an alternative’? Whereupon Leech replied ‘what about here?’. Here being Albert Park where Southern Command were based, and the rest as they say is history and covered a while ago in another post.

Hobart Mercury 14 June 1950

In an amusing end to the weekend the Hobart ‘Mercury’ reported that the Melbourne Traffic Police Chief described many motorists returning from Balcombe as ‘reckless road-hogs’- harsh language indeed.

‘Many of them drove like whirlwinds’ in attempts to emulate the skilled drivers with several booked for speeding at 75 miles an hour. The racers themselves were spared the blame- perhaps the ‘need for speed’ stretch was the straight road from Mornington along past Sunnyside to Mount Eliza? I guess Pt Nepean Road is what we now know as the Nepean Highway.

Little Alfa aroca concourse

‘Little Alfa’ engine bay at AROCA Spettacolo, 2014. (M Bisset)

Balcombe will be well known to Melburnians of a certain age…

It was towards the top of the hill on the Nepean Highway as you leave Mornington and enter Mount Martha and these days is the site of a school, Balcombe Grammar and housing. The last army training units left the area in 1983.

For international readers Mount Martha, of which Balcombe is a part are on the shore of Port Phillip Bay, the vast expanse of water one can see in the distance on the AGP telecasts from Albert Park. The Mornington Peninsula, both it’s beaches and wineries are worthy additions to your tourist agenda when you visit!

The US Marines also played a part in construction of the circuit being credited with building both Uralla Road through the camp and Range Road locally to access a rifle range.

As World War 2 approached countries globally prepared for the inevitable, the 4th Division of the Australian Army were located at a camp in Balcombe on 209 acres of land compulsorily acquired from local landowners to defend Port Phillip and the Morninton Peninsula.

Tony Gaze, Alta Sports (G McKaige)


Derek Jolly, Austin 7 Spl over from Adelaide- road registered, I wonder if he drove his racer across? (G McKaige)

The army presence had a huge local impact, at the time their were 104 houses in Mt Martha- by mid 1940 over 3000 militia soldiers of the 4th division- trainees were located at four temporary campsites between the Nepean Highway and the coast just south of Bay Road.

Press reports at the time the camp was built said it was the most pleasant site for an army camp in the country, a point not lost on the ‘Army Brass’ one suspects, the Peninsula then as now is a popular summer playground.

The 1st US Marine Division, relieved from the strategically critical Coral Sea campaign at Guadalcanal, arrived in 1942 and used Balcombe Camp as a rehabilitation centre.

It became headquarters for the 1st Division of the USMC in 1942, the corp trained in the area including carrying out beach landing exercises using the ship ‘HMAS Manoora’.

Post war the Army Apprentices School was located there until 1983, and once, just once, it was used as a race track!

Davison ‘Little Alfa’…

duckett and davison rob roy 1946

Lyndon Duckett and Lex Davison, right, with their collections of cars at Rob Roy Hillclimb, Christmas Hills, Melbourne 1946. L>R. Ducketts’ 1908 Isotta Fraschini, Bug T35 powered by an R1 Anzani DOHC engine and Davisons’ ‘Little Alfa’ in 2 seater form as first modified by Barney Dentry, Mercedes SSK (Culture Victoria)

Lex Davison was one of Australia’s greatest drivers, the winner of four Australian Grands’ Prix and father and grandfather of two generations of racing drivers- grandsons Will and Alex are V8 Supercar Drivers and James an Indycar racer competing currently in Australia and the US respectively.

In 1950 Lex was still four years away from his first AGP win, he competed in everything everywhere and had just acquired an Alfa P3 in a progression which would take him to be a consistent front runner in the decade to come.

‘Little Alfa’ started life as a Tipo 6C 1500 ‘Normale’- chassis #0111522 was imported by Lex’ father in 1928 in chassis form as a road car. The original fabric body by Martin and King was replaced with a steel body built by Terdichs’ in 1945, both Melbourne firms.

Lex took over the car after the death of his father, Barney Dentry, a top driver of the day himself, stripped it and Kellow Falkiner built a two-seater body.

lex davo little alfa 11 th rob roy

Always an exciting driver, Davo contests the 11th Rob Roy 1946. This wonderful shot by George Thomas shows the lines of the car to good effect after its first evolution from Tourer to Racer (George Thomas)


lex cape schanck

Lex slightly! sideways at the second hairpin, Cape Schanck Hillclimb on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in 1946. ‘Little Alfa’ here in ‘evolution 2’ not its final spec (Cars and Drivers #1)


Little Alfa, Balcombe 1950 (G McKaige)

John Blanden records that the car became well known over the following years and was set aside when Davison acquired a Mercedes SSK. Dentry again ministered to the car and before it was completed the P3 arrived from the UK…as a consequence the 6C1500  became henceforth the ‘Little Alfa’.

Dentry shortened the chassis, lightened the brakes, replaced the rear axle with one from a 1750 SS Alfa, fitted a Rootes cabin mounted blower and moved the engine back 6 inches.

The chassis was then taken to renowned race body-builder Bob Baker who constructed a derivative but distinctive aluminium single-seater body with a pointed tail.

The cars first outing was at Balcombe as recorded above, coming second in its semi-final. The Alfa didn’t race much, the P3 was the front line car until the AGP winning HWM Jag was acquired/built later.

The Little Alfa was retained by the Davison family and moved from property to property before finally being restored by Nick Langford’s restoration business in Castlemaine. It made its debut in December 1979.

little alfa amaroo

Lex’ son Chris driving in the car, with daughter Claire, post restoration, Amaroo Park Historics 1986. (Gordon Graham)

Little Alfa’ was run in historic events by Diana Davison, Lex’ widow and quite a driver in her own right, son Chris and WW2 Spitfire Ace and post war racer Tony Gaze, who married Diana in 1977. Chris, a very quick Formula Ford racer in period and historic competitor now, recalls with great fondness the car…

‘It was a massive honour for me to drive ‘Little Alfa’. The car was purchased by my grandfather in 1928 and used as the family car until his death in 1942. It was only then that Lex got hold of it and started racing it. Of course this is the same car that Lex and Di drove to Bathurst for their honeymoon and also became one of his first racing cars. But he only did a handful of races in it. I am not sure that it was going to be competitive and he got the opportunity to purchase the P3, or ‘Big Alfa’ as it was known in our house. This is why the cars were known as the ‘Little Alfa’ and the ‘Big Alfa’.

‘In terms of actually driving it, i am taller and broader than average so it was a real squeeze to fit in. We took out the seat and I sat on the floor on an old sheep skin. The first thing you notice is that it has an accelerator pedal in between the brake and the clutch, and this does take some time to get used to. With no actual fuel pump, you must ‘pump up’ the air pressure in the fuel tank with a dash mounted pump and if you get busy around the circuit its easy to forget to do this and next thing the engine starts to die from lack of fuel. The alcohol fuel used to cause problems with the supercharger freezing up, so it was very important to get the fuel mixture right’.

‘Being a tight fit in the car, I used to feel the chassis rails flex whenever I went around a corner or hit a bump.With no seat belts or roll bar, driving the car flat out up the back straight at Sandown was one of the most dangerous things I have done in motorsport, especially as I was virtually held in the car by a low piece of bodywork and hanging onto the steering wheel for grim life’.

‘The term ‘brakes’ could be described as an overstatement, ‘restrainers’ more accurate. The car weighed 1500kgs and with a blown 1500cc engine on alcohol, you picked up quite a bit of pace down the long straights. I did give the fence a whack at Sandown once when I arrived at the end of the old pit straight and had ZERO brakes. The mechanic had forgotten to adjust the length of the brake cable and the shoes were barely even touching the brake drums’.

‘The best the car ever drove was at the 1986 Amaroo Historic Meeting, i could actually get some attitude and drift going. Frank Gardner spoke to me after one of the races, he had been standing right on the start of the pit apron, where you would aim the car at the turn in point for the corner onto the straight. He commented that seeing the car in a full drift coming straight toward where he was standing sure got his attention!’

‘The biggest problem I had at that meeting was once I really got the car going well, the speed up the straight and through the kink was such that both front wheels vibrated very badly, which was a real concern when you were so close to the old quarry wall. In the wet the car was a nightmare with levels of understeer that could only be described MASSIVE. With very old tyres and little adjustment on the car, I used to use the handbrake on turn in to try and get the rear end to generate some changes of direction. But I walked a fine line and really had to get the timing right, requiring a flick into the corner, quick pull on the handbrake to get the rear to slide and power on to keep up some attitude. If you got it slightly wrong it was back to uncontrollable understeer and all I could see from the cockpit was a VERY long red bonnet and two front tyres wasting their time with massive levels of lock’.

‘It was fabulous to see Mum and Tony on the circuit in the ‘Little Alfa’ but Mum did find it difficult to drive. So we ‘retired’ the car after the 1986 Amaroo meeting satisfied that we had actually seen the car fire a shot in anger’.

davo amaroo 86 little alfa

Chris and Claire Davison in the ‘Little Alfa’ at the 1986 Amaroo Park meeting Chris speaks about in the text. These days Claire is a mum, she, husband Johnny and Chris race a team of 3 Reynard FF’s in Australian Historic Racing. Lex’ ‘Ecurie Australie’ races on…(Chris Davison)

‘Little Alfa’ remained in the Davison family until sold some years ago but thankfully remains in Australia in the hands of a caring Alfista, the car has an entirely Australian history since it’s departure from Italy in 1928.

Chris Davison…’I know that all of our family are delighted to see Trevor Montgomery now driving the car at most of the historic race meetings in the south. I feel that he understands and respects our family’s connection to this unique car and unique piece of Australian motorsport history’.

gaze nd davisons rob roy

Paddock scene from gentler more relaxed times, Tony Gaze, Diana Davison and Lex, Rob Roy Hillclimb 1950. (Dacre Stubbs Collection)


little alfa sandown 2009

‘Little Alfa’ current custodian Trevor Montgomery and Chris Davison at Sandown Historics November 2009…looking as pristine as it did in 1950. (Chris Davison)

Etcetera- Balcombe…

(G McKaige)

Derek Jolly’s Austin 7 Spl, he later won the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy- a decade hence aboard an ex-works Lotus 15 Climax. I wrote about he and his cars a while back.


(G McKaige)


(G McKaige)

Love these these two shots above of Lyndon Duckett and George McKaige preparing the Anzani Bugatti before the event on a frosty Melbourne day in ‘Duckett’s Lane’- Towers Lane behind Duckett’s Towers Road, Toorak home. Road car is a Rover P3.

(G McKaige)


(G McKaige)

MG K3 and Engine above- here unsupercharged.


(T Johns)

Race Program courtesy of the Tony Johns Collection…


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


(T Johns)


Chris Davison, many thanks for the recollections of driving the car and photos from the family collection

John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Barry Green ‘Glory Days’, ‘Cars and Drivers’ magazine, Dacre Stubbs Collection, Culture Victoria, George Thomas, Gordon Graham, Hobart Mercury 14 June 1950, George McKaige via his son Chester, Tony Johns Collection

(G McKaige)

Tailpiece: The New and the Old…

The Keith Martin (John Medley thinks) Cooper Mk IV JAP 1000- which must have looked ‘other worldly’ to the good citizens of the Peninsula in 1950.

The modern as tomorrow Cooper is nicely juxtaposed with Doug Whiteford’s self-built #4 pre-war ‘Black Bess’ Ford V8 Special which won that years AGP at Lobethal six months before- and on the day at Balcombe. There were no Coopers at Lobethal but two made the long trip to Narrogin, down south of Perth for the 1951 AGP, Martin’s car and a later MkV driven by John Crouch.

#1 is Tony Gaze’s Alta and to its right Maybach with the bonnet covered- there was plenty of life in the front-engined cars at that stage of course, but the mid-engined era was underway from that little factory in Surbiton.



Jack Brabham dipping under brakes as he approaches ‘Pub Corner’ in his Cooper T51 Climax on the first lap of the ‘Longford Trophy’ in  March 1960, wonderful Ellis French shot…

Jack retuned to our Australian summer as the reigning World Champion, he didn’t disappoint the Tasmanian crowd winning the race from the similar MkIV T51s of Alec Mildren and Bib Stillwell.

In those pre-Tasman 2.5 formula days Australian National Formula 1 was run to Formula Libre rules, but 1960 Coopers of various models and capacities were the dominant marque. There were still sportscars amongst the single-seaters including Doug Whitford’s ex-works Maserati 300S, sold to Doug after the 1956 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park when Officine Maserati brought five Maseratis to Melbourne- thee F1 250F’s and two 300S.

The ‘Australian Motor Sports Annual Review 1960/61’ has a report of the 1960 Longford Trophy and notes with superb understatement that ‘Possibly no circuit in Australia offers so many scenic attractions and quite so large a variety of racing hazards as that at Longford in Northern Tasmania.’

The article continues ‘Although racing has been carried out at Longford for several years, it was only after the selection of the circuit for a Gold Star race in 1958 that Longford became known to Australians outside Tasmania…One of the advantages Longford holds over any other mainland circuit is full government and community support. Unlike other states where motor racing is viewed with concern for safety or as a noise disturbing nuisance and a Sabbath breaker, Tasmania views motor racing as a vital tourist attraction and as such, gives it the fullest support’.

Improvements to the track since the 1959 meeting resulted in a faster, more even surface with a softened approach to the railway crossing in Longford township.

Longford 1960 grid shot

John Ellacott shot of the front 2 rows gridded up: Brabham #4, Stillwell #6, Miller in yellow, all Cooper T51 Climaxes and Arnold Glass in the Maserati 250F, evocative!

Australian Tourist Trophy contenders with the J Wright Aston Martin DB3S and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S up front with Harry Cape’s MGA Coupe and the #18 Gorringe/Watt MG Holden on grid 2 (J Barnes)

The 1960 meeting was a double-header with both the Formula Libre Longford Trophy and Australian Tourist Trophy for sportscars, won by Derek Jolly’s ex-works Lotus 15 Climax FPF 2 litre, the ATT was a great race with a big field, check out this photo heavy feature;

Jack Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.5 had been secured by the promoters and was the same chassis with which he had won the NZ GP at Ardmore in January from Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T45 and Stillwell’s T51- click here for that NZ7 GP;

Brabham had a good summer also winning The Lady Wigram Trophy, Light Car Club of Tasmania Trophy at Longford, the Repco Trophy at Phillip Island in mid-March before heading back to Europe.

Jack’s practice time of 2:38 was a second clear of Bib’s 2.2 litre T5, a welcome addition to the grid was Alec Mildren’s new Cooper T51 Maserati, the frame of the car was adapted by Mildren and mechanic Glenn Abbey to fit a four cylinder, DOHC Maser 250S sportscar engine running on methanol- the soon to be 1960 Australian Gold Star champion did 2:46. An article about this car is here;

Longford Trophy 1960 start

Stillwell gets the jump off the line, Glass at rear, Brabham on this side (John Ellacott)

Stillwell got the jump from the start and led for the first three-quarters of a lap before Brabham passed him in his more powerful Cooper. On lap 3 Jack did a 2:34, an average of 105.19 mph and on the following tour recorded a top speed on the Flying Eighth of 157.9 mph. Brabham reduced his pace and led comfortably from Stillwell, Mildren and Arnold Glass’s ex-Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F.

The punch of Mildren’s Maserati engine was demonstrated when he sailed past Stillwell’s Coventry Climax engined T51 on the Flying Mile, at about the same time Bill Patterson’s 2 litre T51 passed Glass with Jon Leighton’s Cooper T45 Climax being challenged by Glynn Scott’s similar ex-Mildren machine- both of these cars were powered by 2 litre Climaxes. Towards the end of the 17 lap 45 minute 40 second race Brabham allowed Mildren to close up to within 100 yards of his car, magneto failure spoiling Patterson’s good run.

Brabham won from Mildren, Stillwell, Glass, Leighton and Scott, the Glass Maserati was the only front-engined interloper amongst the dominant mid-engined Coopers.

Glynn Scott, Cooper T43 Climax 1.7 with Jon Leighton’s Cooper T45 2 litre behind him- the red car is Ern Tadgell’s Lotus 12 Climax aka Sabakat (J Barnes)

Allen Brown’s wonderful archive ‘’ states that the car Jack drove at Longford was probably the first of two cars he used during his successful 1959 F1 season, chassis ‘F2-4-59′- he drove it in the early part of the year, it then became a spare when ’27-59’ appeared at Zandvoort.

When Jack’s Australian season ended the car was sold to Bib Stillwell who then had two Cooper T51’s to choose from, his Gold Star campaigns had started to become more serious and ultimately were very successful from 1962 to 1965- four titles on the trot in Cooper and Brabham chassis.

Brabham returned to Europe to successfully defend his world title whilst the Gold Star championship was won by Alec Mildren’s Maserati engined T51.

Brabham Cooper T51 Longford 1960

Brabham in his Cooper T51 Climax at Longford in 1960. I think the gent in braces at the rear is Jacks’ father, this chassis 1 of 2 he used in his successful 1959 GP season (oldracephotos)

Allen Brown’s wonderful archive ‘’ states that the car Jack drove at Longford was probably the first of two cars he used during his successful 1959 F1 season, chassis ‘F2-4-59′- he drove it in the early part of the year, it then became a spare when ’27-59’ appeared at Zandvoort.

When Jack’s Australian season ended the car was sold to Bib Stillwell who then had two Cooper T51’s to choose from, his Gold Star campaigns had started to become more serious and ultimately were very successful from 1962 to 1965- four titles on the trot in Cooper and Brabham chassis.

Brabham returned to Europe to successfully defend his world title whilst the Gold Star championship was won by Alec Mildren’s Maserati engined T51.

Longford scene 1960

Kevin Drages’ panoramic view of part of the Longford paddock in March 1960, looking across to Mountford corner with the Pit Straight on the right. Cars are green Derek Jollys’ Lotus XV Climax and the ‘Kenley Vincent Spl’.


Brabham Longford media interview 1960

(Kevin Drage)

‘Modern media scrum’, Jack tells the press how it was post race.

JB’s British Racing Drivers Club badge proudly worn on his overalls, the car is a Humber ‘Super Snipe’, in those days British prestige cars were very popular in Australia, the Germans steadily whittled them back by the early seventies.

Bill Patterson Cooper T51 Longford 1960

(Ellis French)

Bill Patterson’s Coopers T51 by two.

Patterson went on to win the Gold Star in 1961 and soon after retired from driving but supported others for decades via his Ringwood, Melbourne, Holden dealership, click here for a feature on Patto and his many Coopers;

Jack Brabham and BIb Stillwell, Longford 1960

(Kevin Drage)

Jack Brabham and Bib Stillwell swapping Cooper set-up notes…or Bib is buying Jacks car!?

Stillwell was a good Brabham customer over the years acquiring many Coopers including the car Jack drove at Longford that weekend and, later, Brabhams, both men very successful drivers and businessmen. Bib feature article here;

Bib Stillwell Cooper T51 Climax Longford paddock 1960

(Ellis French)

Bib Stillwell’s Climax engine being fettled in the Longford paddock.

(J Barnes)

Tornado 2 Chev won the 1958 Gold Star round at Longford with Ted Gray at the wheel, but by 1960 the marvellous 283 cid Chev engined beastie was an also-ran amongst the hordes of Coopers typified by Stillwell’s T51 at right- Ted didn’t start in the Longford Trophy feature and was unclassified in the LCCT Trophy a couple of days later. The D Type Jaguar without a rear wheel is David Finch’s car- note to the left Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S ‘Rice’ trailer.

(J Barnes)

All the fun of the fair- who can help with the bike/rider identifications?

(J Barnes)

Ron Hodgson and David McKay in their Jaguars before the touring car race- who won this encounter?

(J Barnes)

Alan Jack cruises through the Longford paddock in his ex-Patterson Cooper T39 Climax whilst in the distance you can see Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and trailer and further still Arnold Glass’ 250F.

Sticking with the T39 theme, the Jack and Lynn Archer cars sandwich Ron Phillips’ ex-Whitehead/Jones Cooper T38 Jaguar which raced so well in the Australian Tourist Trophy.

(J Ellacott)

(J Barnes)

Its a pity John Barnes got the shakes because this Light Car Club of Tasmania Trophy start shot really would have been a cracker but I still like it for its atmospherics.

Red #13 is Ern Tadgell’s Sabakat or more correctly Lotus 12 Climax ‘351’ about which I have written a lot. #9 and #20 are the Patterson and Scott Coopers Types 51 and 43- the Cooper in front of Scott’s is Mildren’s Maserati engined machine. The front engined car at left is the Glass Maser 250F and yellow machine to its right is Austin Miller’s distinctive Cooper T51.

Meanwhile in the simply superb panorama below we can take in the starters stand and beach umbrella, anxious mechanics, the old tram which served as race HQ, the flags and wonderful casual, bucolic air of this wonderful part of the world.

The cars- Sabakat at left, then Gray’s Tornado and one of the Coopers at right.

(J Barnes)

(J Barnes)

What a great shot, probably the grid of one of the Tasmanians only events perhaps, Ellis French identifies the cars as the #12 Gerald Tattersall, Buchanan, #14 R Ward, MGA Twin-Cam and #30 on row 2 the Mel McEwin in the Melmac Healey Spl, green car alongside the Hines #11 MG Special, red #18 is Mick Watt MG Holden Spl and #101 a Triumph TR not listed in the program.

(J Barnes)

She looks unbelievable!

I wonder what, or who it is which has captured the attention of Brabham’s crew. Who are they BTW?

Brabham Senior- Tom, and Esso’s Reg Thompson watch proceedings from the far left- look at those monster 58 DCO Webers, circa 235bhp from a 2.5 FPF tops at the time.

(J Barnes)

Photo and Reference Credits…

Ellis French, John Ellacott,, Kevin Drage, ‘Australian Motor Sports Annual 1960/61’, John Barnes

Jack Brabham Cooper T51 Climax on the approach to Pub Corner Longford 1960


Lets finish on the same note as we started, an Ellis French shot of Brabham, this time ‘panned’ into the braking area on the entry to ‘Pub Corner’, Longford 1960…

For international readers Tasmania is a wonderful place to visit.

The scenery is stunning on all of its coasts, the mountains in the middle worth climbing, the ‘Overland Trail’ in the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park worth walking. Hobart, a centre of culture and ‘Foodie Stuff’ is worth a stop for ‘Mona’ alone, a gallery of contemporary art and you can still see a lot of the Longford circuit, not far from Launceston, including the ‘Country Club Hotel’ with heaps of racing memorabilia.



The victorious Ron Flockhart/Ivor Bueb Ecurie Ecosse entered D-Type Jaguar during the 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours, it was the third and last win for the fabulous car which reigned supreme at la Sarthe from 1955-1957…

The winning car covered 4397km, an average speed of 183kmh, a record which remained unbroken for four years. D-Types also finished second, third, fourth and sixth, an unparalleled result to that time. Ninian Sanderson/John Lawrence were second, Jean Lucas/ Jean-Marie Brussin third, Paul Frere/’Freddy’ Rouselle fourth and Mike Hawthorn/Masten Gregory sixth. Flockhart also won the race in 1956 partnered with Ninian Sanderson.

The car on its back is the Tony Brooks/Noel Cunningham-Reid Aston Martin DBR1/300. Brooks ran wide on the exit of Tertre Rouge, rolled and was hit by Umberto Maglioli’s Porsche, the cars were running second and seventh respectively at the time. Both drivers escaped without serious harm, the incident happened during the twelfth hour of the race.

Le Mans 1957 lap 1

XKD606, Bueb up leading the Lewis-Evans/Marino/Martino Ferari 315S (fifth), #4 behind the Ferrari is the Hamilton/Gregory D Type (sixth)(unattributed)


Undated unattributed shot of the ‘Browns lane’ factory, a C-Type being fettled as well as the Ds. (unattributed)

Technical Specifications and XKD606…

The summary technical specifications of the ‘XKD’ were included in this earlier post on its close brother the ‘XKSS’;

The winning car was XKD606, the last long nosed 1956 works car built, it was unraced that year as Desmond Titterington crashed it in practice. Jag withdrew as a factory team from racing at the end of 1956, 606 was delivered to Ecosse in November 1956 and was successful in 1957 with a 3.8-litre fuel injected engine at Le Mans with plenty of works support. This engine gave circa 306bhp@5500rpm and 312lb ft of torque@4500rpm.

Flockhart and Bueb post 57 win

Flockhart in red alongside Ivor Bueb post victory with the Ecosse Team and XKD606. (unattributed)

The car was raced at Buenos Aires later in 1957 by Flockhart and Galvez, but was crashed by Flockhart and rebuilt with a new chassis and bonnet.

The car remained in Ecosse’ hands in 1958-1960 and raced again at Le Mans by Flockhart and Bruce Halford in 1960, it failed to finish. The car raced on into 1961 in the hands of privateer Jack Wober and was split into two after a crash – the body and rear suspension, and front subframe and engine, both halves were then completed with replica parts creating two ‘original cars’.

The Louman Museum in The Hague acquired both cars in 1994. XKD606 was recreated by repair and uniting its original components, these days it is used frequently in historic events.


Le Mans 57 finish

Flockhart returns the car post finish, Le Mans 1957. (unattributed)

Ron Flockhart…

Ron Flockhart BRM Goodwood 1954

Ron Flockhart at the wheel of the awesome, wild but unsuccessful BRM Type 15, the 1.5-litre supercharged V16 racer by then running as a Formula Libre car in the UK. In essence the car was late and largely missed the Grand Prix formula for which it was designed. Goodwood, Easter Monday 1954. (John Ross Motor Racing Archive)

Flockhart began racing motor bikes in Italy and the Middle East after the War before being de-mobbed by the British Army, having served in WW2.

He commenced in cars with the the ex-Raymond Mays ERA R4D in 1952, progressed to a Connaught and was picked up by the Owen Organisation where he was essentially their third driver. He contested fourteen championship Grands Prix between 1954 and 1960, the last aboard a Cooper T51 Climax in the US Grand Prix at Sebring. He was very competitive in sports cars, inclusive of the two victories at Le Mans.

Daily Express Int Trophy Silverstone 1956

# 6,8,7 Jean Behra, Ron Flockhart and Harry Schell in BRM P25’s and #2 Masten Gregory Maserati 250F, #15 Horace Gould Maser 250F. Daily Express Trophy, Silverstone 1957. Behra won from Schell and Flockhart, Gregory was 5th. (John Ross Motor Racing Archive)

Ron Flockhart BRM P25 Monaco 1959

Flockhart in his BRM P25 Monaco GP 1959. He spun on lap 64 having qualified well in 10th. Jack Brabham won in a Cooper T51 Climax, his first Championship GP victory.(unattributed)

Like many drivers of the period, Ron Flockhart was a pilot who flew to and from the circuits of Europe more quickly than commercial airline or car travel allowed.

He used an Auster for a long time to places such as Folkingham, Snetterton and Silverstone while testing for BRM in the UK, and introduced Jack Brabham to light aircraft.

His racing injuries restricted his activities somewhat, but his love of flying and passion for speed led him to decide to attempt the Sydney-London record for petrol powered planes. The attempt was backed by the United Dominions Trust who wanted publicity for their racing team ‘UDT Laystall’, a noted equipe of the period.

His first attempt in 1961 fell 1500 miles short of London when his Mustang suffered serious engine failure, rain having seeped into the engine whilst on the ground in Greece. Flockhart enjoyed Rock-star fame and attention in Australia before and during the attempts. To add insult to injury the first plane was written off after suffering a cockpit fire before take-off.

Ron Flockhart Cooper Climax Ballarat

Ron Flockhart in his ‘Border Reivers’ Cooper T53 Climax, Ballarat Airfield, Victoria 1961. He raced well, 3rd behind the factory BRM P48’s of Dan Gurney and Graham Hill. He also raced in Australia the following summer in a Lotus 18. (autopics)

Ron competed in New Zealand and Australia that summer before setting off for London in a second ex-RAAF Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built Mustang G-ARUK on 12 April 1962.

He left Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s southern outer suburbs enroute to Sydney where he was heading to have additional fuel tanks fitted. The Mustang had only been in the air 10 minutes, heading east over the Dandenong Ranges when he radioed in to report ‘I’ve got trouble. I’ve lost my compass, I’m at 3000ft and in heavy cloud’, immediately after this, contact with the plane was lost, the aircraft crashed into bush on the Monbulk hillside in thick cloud and light misty rain. Flockhart was still in the aircraft debris which was spread around the crash site, strapped to the remains of his seat with his parachute attached.

Flockhart Mustang 1962

Ron Flockhart in the hours before his death. P51 Mustang CA-18 Mk21 frame # ‘A68-113’ was one of many built by the Australian ‘Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’ in Melbourne during  WW2 (Geoff Goodall)

A Ministry of Aviation Report did not conclusively determine the cause of the accident but it was considered a possibility ‘that the pilot temporarily lost control of the aircraft whilst circling in cloud, and that it subsequently stalled during the recovery and turn to avoid the high terrain…’


Flockhart portrait

Lovely portrait of Ron Flockhart at the 1959 Silverstone ‘Daily Express International Trophy’ meeting in May. RF finished 3rd in his BRM P25, the race won by Brabhams’ Cooper T51 Climax. (John Ross Racing Archive)

Flockhart obit


Flockhart Le Mans 57

Flockhart Le Mans 1957 (Automobile Year)

Flockhart Le Mans 1957

Nice shot of Flockhart cornering the D Type during the ’57 race. ‘XKD606’ works supported with factory 3.8-litre injected engine, last of the ‘long-noses built’ (unattributed)

Mintex 57 Le Mans ad

Flockhart Le Mans 1956

Ron Flockhart in the D Type he shared with Ninian Sanderson to win Le Mans in 1956 (Automobile Year)

Le Mans 1957 finish

Flockhart leads the second placed sister Ecurie Ecosse D Type of Sanderson/Lawrence over the line, record distance travelled which stood for the next four years (unattributed)

Flockhart WF 1961

Flockhart fifth in his Cooper T51 Climax, Warwick Farm 100 January 1961. The race was won by Moss in a Lotus 18 Climax (John Arkwright)

Photo Credits…

Motorsport Magazine, autopics, Geoff Goodall, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, John Arkwright, Automobile Year


jpj monaco ms11

French racing champion and Monaco Grand Prix winner Jean-Pierre Beltoise died last week at 77 as a result of two strokes…this shot is JPB in his F1 Matra MS11 V12 at Spa 1968…

JPB commenced his racing career on bikes, winning 11 French titles and competing internationally from 1962-4 and ‘progressed’ to cars overcoming a bad crash in the 1963 Reims 12 Hour which gave him limited mobility in one arm.

He recovered from the setback and was soon part of Matras’ racing project growing and developing with the team as it progressed from F3 to F1 in addition to the aerospace companies beloved endurance program.

jpb german gp 1966 ms5

JPB and Jacky Ickx were both very fast in their Matra MS5 Ford F2 cars at the ‘Ring, German GP 1966. JPB 8th and first of the F2’s in the race won by Jack Brabhams Brabham BT19 Repco.(Bernard Cahier)

He was the French F3 Champion and Monaco F3 race winner in 1965 and 1966 respectively in a Matra MS5 Ford, also winning the European F2 Championship in 1968 in a Matra MS7 Ford FVA.

jpj mexico 67 ms7

JPB competing in the 1967 Mexican GP in his little F2 210bhp Ford FVA powered Matra MS7, the little car finished 7th in a race won by Jim Clarks’ Lotus 49 Ford. Useful circuit knowledge for JPB with Matra entering GP racing with their 3 litre V12 engined contender in 1968.(Bernard Cahier)

French drivers came to the fore with the support of the national fuel company Elf, Matra and others in the 60’s. When I think of JPB his compatriots of that era and the influence they had on racing also spring to mind; Henri Pescarolo, Johnny Servoz-Gavin, JPB’s brother in law Francois Cevert, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Gerard Larrousse, Bob Wollek, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Patrick Depailler and a little later the Jabouille, Tambay, Arnoux, Prost generation.

But it was Beltoise and Pescarolo who lead the way for the others.

jpb monaco 68 ms11

Matra made their F1 debut at Monaco 1968, their 3 litre V12 engined Matra MS11 driven by JPB. He qualified the car 11th, DNF after ‘kerbing’ the car and damaging its suspension. Note the ‘snub’ Monaco nose and exotic exhausts, cak looks like a ‘big banger’ from this angle. Race won by Hills’ Lotus 49 Ford. (Unattributed)

jpb monaco kerb

‘Kerbing’ his MS11 at Monaco 1968 referred to above…(Unattributed)

jpj matra ms84 silverstone 1969

Beltoise in the 4WD Matra MS84 Ford at the 1969 British GP at Silverstone. Not a successful experiment for Matra, Lotus, Cosworth and McLaren who all built 4WD cars which raced, or in the Cosworths’ case, tested in 1969. JPB Q17 and 9th in the race won by teammate Stewarts’ conventional Matra MS80. (Unattributed)

Matra MS120…

Matra withdrew their own team from F1 in 1969 to further develop their V12, Matra International, was the name given to Ken Tyrrells’ team who won the world championship in Ford Cosworth powered MS80’s in 1969. The MS120 was covered in an earlier article.

daytona 1970

Workshop at Daytona 1970. JPB on the right, Henri Pescarolo, Francois Cevert and Jacqueline JPB wife and Cevert’ sister. Cevert soon to be an F1 driver with Tyrrell from the 1970 Dutch GP, Pesca and JPB Matra F1 drivers that year. Cevert shared a Matra MS 650 at Daytona with Jack Brabham to 10th, JPB and Pesca 18th. Race won by the Porsche 917K of Rodriguez/Kinnunen/Siffert. (Unattributed)

jpb dutch gp 1970 ms120

Dutch GP 1970. JPB in the Matra MS120 ahead of ’69 teammate Jackie Stewarts’ March 701 Ford…both cars inferior to their 1969 Matra MS80 Ford. JPB 5th in the first race win for Rindts’ Lotus 72 Ford but all unimportant in the context of Piers Courage’ death during the race. (Cahier Archive)

jpb spanish gp

Unusual low level shot of JPB in his Matra MS120B 6th at Montjuich Park Barcelona 1971 Spanish GP. Stewart won in a Tyrrell 003 Ford. (Unattributed)

Whilst many enthusiasts rightly think of him as a Matra driver, it was at the wheel of a BRM P160 that Beltoise won the 1972 Monaco GP driving the V12 engined car with a deftness of touch in streaming wet conditions and winning the race from ‘rain master’ Jacky Ickx’ Ferrari 312B.

BRM’s best days were behind them but JPB soldiered on with the British team retiring from GP racing at the end of 1974 to a successful career in touring cars, winning the French Touring Car Championship in 1976 and 1977.

jpj monaco brm 1972

Jean-Pierre drove his year old BRM P160B to a well earned victory in the wet 1972 Monaco GP. The smooth power delivery of the V12 complemented Tony Southgates great chassis, but JPJ drove with great skill that day, beating established wet weather ace Jacky Ickx into 2nd place. Stewart, Regazzoni, and many other drivers spun or had accidents. It was quite a drive. (Unattributed)

jpb tdf ms 650

Only in Italy or France, bless em! 1970 Tour de France Auto placegetters; JPB and Jean Todt in his rally co-driver days 1st, Pescarolo and Johnny Rives both in road registered Matra MS650’s from third placed Gerard Larrousse/Gelin Porsche 911ST cruising thru Parisian traffic. Even at circa 800kg and 2.4 litres the 911 was no match for the 3 litre V12, marginally detuned Matra Sports Prototypes. Oh what a sight and sound. (Unattributed)

JPB was a mainstay of Matras’ endurance program winning and placing well in many events but not getting the elusive Le Mans win he cherished.

His most successful endurance season was in 1974 winning four events in the Matra Simca MS670C together with Jean-Pierre Jarier; Nurburgring 750Km, Watkins Glen 6 Hour, Paul Ricard 750Km and Brands Hatch 1000Km playing a key role in Matras’ World Championship of Makes victory in 1973 and 1974.

jpb matra ms660 paris

Aviating in the Matra MS660 he shared with Henri Pescarolo in the 1970 Paris 1000Km, Monthlery. (Unattributed)


jpj dutch gp 1968 ms11

2nd in the 1968 Dutch GP, the team having made its GP debut at Monaco in May. Matra MS11. JPB qualified 16th but drove a great wet weather race recovering from a couple of spins finishing only a second behind Stewarts’ victorious Ford engined Matra MS10. (Unattributed)

jpj spain 1969 ms80

Spanish GP, Montjuich Park Barcelona 1969. Matra withdrew its own team to develop its V12 in 1969. JPB joined Ken Tyrrells’ team who ran the Matra MS 80 powered by the Ford DFV V8, winning the title for Jackie Stewart in a car which was one of his favourites. JPB finished3rd in the race won by Stewarts’ sister car, the MS80 making its GP debut at this event. High wings banned at the next race, Monaco after the wing failures to the Lotus 49’s in Spain was the ‘straw which broke the camels back’.(Unattributed)

jpj ms 80 1969

‘I want it there!’. Mirror location with the Tyrrell Team mechanics 1969…high wing, so early in the season. Spain in all probability upon car debut. Matra MS80 Ford.(Robin Townsend)

french gp 1969

JPB on the way to a hard won 2nd place at Clermont-Ferrand in the 1969 French GP. Stewart won the race but JPB drove hard pressuring Ickx into a mistake on the last lap. Matra MS80 Ford. What a circuit this was! (FlickrZantafio56)

jpb and amon french gp 1971

JPB ahead of his teammate Chris Amon, French GP 1971. Amon was usually the quicker. Amon 5th and JPB 7th Matra MS120B. Stewart won in a Tyrrrell 003 Ford. (

brm p160

On the Spanish GP grid in the BRM P160B 1972, like his old Matra V12, a 48 valve 60 degree quad cam V12…and also like the Matra not as competitive as the 32 valve 90 degree quad cam Ford Cosworth DFV V8! DNF after a gear linkage failure, Q7. Fittipaldi won, Lotus 72D Ford.(Unattributed)

71 lemans jpb

Matra MS660 Le Mans 1971 with Chris Amon. Race detail in the below caption…tough for the 3 litre prototypes against the 5 litre Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S/M! (Unattributed)

jpb le mans 1971

JPB and Chris Amon Matra MS 660 Le Mans 1971. DNF fuel injection dramas in their 3 litre prototype, the race won by the 5 litre Porsche 917K sportscar of Marko/VanLennep. (Unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Cahier Archive, Robin Townsend,, Flickr

Pleasure and pain

This great shot shows the sheer excitement of ones’ first Grand Prix…

The photo has amazing ‘people factor’, the cars are superbly placed amongst the crowd, the shot rare in that sense. The composition is great; from the joy and excitement on the teenagers face, the marshalls presence giving a sense of crowd and the sheer lunacy of the photographers handily placed on the exit of the corner where they can nicely cushion the impact of an errant car!

The question is where and when it is?

I lifted the shot from a photographic annual some years ago, the photographer may have been identified but not the place or date as it wasn’t a racing publication and therefore the important stuff to us wasn’t there.

High wings came in later in 1968 and were banned from Monaco ’69, the tyres on the car in front at least, are wider than in ’68 so i think its post Monaco 1969 and either Zandvoort or Clermont Ferrand that year. Dutch and French GP’s respectively.

But i am guessing! An educated guess but a guess all the same.

Any thoughts on who, what, where and when anyone?

Johansson Ferrari Monaco 1985

Stefan was out on the 1st lap, he ran up the chuff of Bergers Bennetton BMW when the engine misfired…Prost won in a McLaren MP4 Honda

Stefan Johanssons’ Ferrari 156-85 twin-turbos lighting up some unburnt fuel in its diffusers…Monaco 1985, sensational Rainer Schlegelmilch shot…

Schlegelmilch picks up the story in’Automobile Year 44’…’For the first practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix in 1985, I took up the same position as I had the year before, at the Rascasse corner. I had my Nikon F3 and a little 43-86mm zoom lens, and as I waited for the cars to come I noted that they would be passing under full acceleration within a metre of my chosen spot beside the guardrail.’

‘I therefore chose a slow shutter speed, around 1/15th or 1/30th of a second, and closed the aperture down in order to achieve the effect I wanted, with the car relatively sharp and the background blurred to accentuate the feeling of speed. I wanted the drivers’ helmet to be the sharpest point, so that identification was  easy, and since I wanted to move the zoom during the exposure to add to the blurred effect, I knew that the helmet had to be in the centre of the viewfinder. I was doing all this when Stefan Johannsons’ Ferrari burst into view. Everything worked, and by good luck- or sheer chance- at the very millisecond I pressed the button the Ferraris’ exhausts belched sheets of flame!’

Johannson McLaren

Stefan, McLaren MP4/3 TAG Porsche in 1987 (The Cahier Archive)

Johannson Spirit Honda British GP Brands 1983

Johannson heads into Druids Hill bend, Brands Hatch, European GP 1983. Spirit 201 Honda . Finished 14th 2 laps down after qualifying 19th. (unattributed)

Honda returned to Grand Prix racing via F2 and Ralt...Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham formed a successful partnership with Honda winning the European Championship in 1966, so they gave Ron a call when they wanted to return, achieving quick success, initially winning the European F32 Championship with Geoff Lees in a Ralt RH6 Honda in 1981.

Ron was never going back to F1 though, so they teamed up with Spirit, who had also used their 2 litre V6 in F2. The F1 turbo-charged 1.5 litre V6 was explosive in its power delivery giving Spirit plenty of engineering challenges to what was essentially its F2 chassis. Johannson cut his F1 teeth with the team and Honda signed with Williams for 1984…

Spirit Honda Brands 1983

Not so pretty from the side…in search of downforce and somewhere to mount the ancillaries!

Stefans’ route to F1 was via the British F3 Championship which he won with a Project 4…(Ron Dennis) run March 803 Toyota. Like Ron he was off to F1 but a couple of starts with Shadow didn’t launch his career which was via Spirit after some F2 promise in 1982.

He raced for Tyrrell and Toleman in 1984, picking up a Ferrari drive after Rene Arnoux was sacked early in the season for unspecified misdemeanours.

Johnannssen Spa 86

La Source hairpin Spa 1986, Belgian GP. Ferrari F1/86, 1.5 litre twin turbo V6. Stefan drove well finishing 3rd behind the winning Williams FW11 Honda of Nigel mnasell and Ayrton Sennas’ Lotus 98T Renault .(unattributed)

In  1985  and 1986 he was often quicker than team leader Alboreto and in the lead more than once but he was shown the door at the end of’86, McLaren picking him up.

He finished sixth in the drivers championship but was really keeping the seat warm for Ayrton Senna who was under contract to Lotus until the end of 1987, still winless but a frontish-runner, he failed to get the second seat at Williams Riccardo Patrese bagged and steadily slipped down the totem pole in mid-field teams…Ligier in ’88, Onyx in ’89/90, and AGS and Footwork in 1991.

He placed second four times, very unlucky not to win, after 1992 he moved to CART, Sportscars and driver management.

Johannson Ferrari F156-85 Adelaide 1985

Johannson, Adelaide, AGP 1985. Ferrari F156-85. Qualified 15th and finished 5th, Rosberg won in his Williams Renault (unattributed)

Stefan Jonannsen Monza 85

Pitstop at Monza in 1985, Ferrari 156/85. Q 10 and 5th in the race won by Alain Prosts’ McLaren MP4/2B TAG. (unattributed)

Johannson Austrian GP 1987 McLaren MP4 3 Honda

Last drive in a competitive car was with McLaren MP4/3 Porsche chassis in 1987. Here in Austria he qualified 14th and finished 7th after a big fright in practice having hit a deer! and cracking a rib in the ensuing accident. Nigel Mansell won in a Williams FW11B Honda. (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, The Cahier Archive



Reg Hunt 'Sports Cars and Specials'

I wrote an article a while back about Reg Hunt…a little known Australian Champion Driver of the 1950’s and a very successful business man subsequently. At the time i was searching for ‘that shot’ to go with the article but my own library of 50’s stuff is a bit skinny and ‘google’ wasn’t friendly either, so i went with what i had.

I enjoy country drives with ‘der Fuhrer’ for a whole lotta reasons not the least of which are the places in the country with  some automobilia, i do that whilst the chief looks at retro-dresses, art and other such chick stuff.

Throw in a nice meal, a bottle of vino and everybody is happy, a temporary state i grant you!

One of our favourite day trips from Melbourne takes in Kyneton/Daylesford/Maldon and return, a run up Mount Tarrengower hillclimb at Maldon is a plus. Overseas readers should add these locales to your Victorian travel agenda, essentially the villages are in the old Victorian Goldfields,

‘Junked Restoration’at Kyneton has become a stopover on these jaunts, it has rather a nice gallery/design studio as well as the car stuff so the ‘mutual satisfaction’ criteria above are met.

At the weekend i approached the magazine racks and there staring me in the face was Reg in his Maser 250F, on the cover of ‘Sports Cars and Specials’ October 1956, its not even a local magazine i had heard of.

Even more bizarre is the article on the cover comparing Reg Hunt, Stan (father of Alan) Jones and Lex Davison…it just so happens i was in the process of  completing the article on Stan, i uploaded two weeks ago, about whom little has been written.

Stan was an interesting character and successful driver, i had been searching the blogosphere for some contemporary information on where he ‘sits in the pantheon of Australian champion drivers’ of the day and found nothing.

What are the chances of finding that!?

I would rather have won ‘Lotto’ of course but its still an amazing bit of chance, i literally didn’t move a magazine, it was just there waiting for me to pick it up, ’twas meant to be.

The magazines’ writers include Ian Fraser, decades later the editor and ultimately owner of English magazine ‘Car’, the best road car magazine in the world…so not only did the article fall into my lap but its also credible.

Some days yer can be lucky!

Mind you, i did get ‘pinged’ for speeding on the return trip to Melbourne!

'Junked Restoration'

‘Junked Restoration’ is at 98a Piper Street, Kyneton, there are many top spots for food and wine on this street…then do Daylesford/Castlemaine/Maldon and come back thru tiny Blackwood which has a good pub…The Daylesford Market, open every Sunday is also a good place for automobilia hunting, whilst i am playing tour guide!