Archive for May, 2015

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Maybe you can always get what you want?! Mick and his new Aston DB6, it’s a promotional shoot. It seems he had a ‘contretemps’ with the ‘Countess of Carlisle’ in the Aston shortly thereafter, click on this link for a bit of ‘Stones or Mick car trivia…

http://www.voicesofeastanglia.com/2013/03/hey-you-get-out-of-that-car.html

Mick-Jagger-Car-Accident-e1362438546757

Photo’s unattributed.

allen and matich bathurst 1969

(oldracephotos.com/Dick Simpson)

Niel Allen’s Elfin 400 Chev ‘BB662’ leads Frank Matich’s hi-winged Matich SR4 Repco and Bevan Gibson’s ill-fated Elfin 400 Repco, Easter Bathurst 1969…

There are so many historic elements to Dick Simpson’s wonderful shot of the three cars in ‘The Dipper’ on lap 1 of the Sunday feature race.

Allen is in Frank’s old car, the first Elfin 400/Traco Olds ‘BB662’, Matich’s 5 litre quad-cam Repco ‘RB760’ engined car slaughtered the opposition in 1969. It was intended for the 1968 Can Am but was completed too late, its high wings will be shortly outlawed as all such appendages were over the 1969 Monaco GP weekend…and tragically Bevan died during this race, a victim of circumstances and the aero of the 400 which was not, with the knowledge of the time, ‘fully resolved’.

I have not written an article about one of our ‘Racers Retreat’ Peter Brennan’s restorations for a while, this article features his ex-Frank Matich Elfin 400/ Traco Olds ‘BB662’ Sports Car.

I had almost finished it a few weeks ago and then the tragic news of Frank Matich’s death on May 11 came through.

With the assistance of his former colleagues at the time, Bruce Richardson and Geoff Smedley i have been able to fill in some gaps and i think portray an objective account of the Elfin 400’s design and construction, which has been somewhat contentious down the decades.

This article is dedicated to this incredibly talented racer, constructor and businessman. Truly a great Australian. Frank Matich.

autosportsman mag matich

‘Auto Sportsman’ cover July 1966 depicts Frank Matich ‘Australian Tourist Trophy’ win at Longford in February. Elfin 400/Traco Olds ‘BB662’.

Historic Context…

It’s interesting to look at the explosion of motor racing post war as the vestiges of conflict faded away and people started to live their lives again and indulge in their passions.

Consumer credit became more available, manufacturers introduced new models of cars and of course wanted to extol their virtues and promote their brands via motor racing.

In the US, sports car racing was the focus of road racing at the time, single seater racing being mainly the province of speedways. The Europeans slugged it out with local specials powered by increasingly larger capacity V8’s. Ferrari and Maserati built cars such as the 340 America and 450S as cars like the Allard Cadillacs, their 6 litre engines providing stiff competition to the D Types, 300S Masers’ and Monza Ferraris’ the latter three began to dominate based on numbers alone.

A ‘game changer’ was the introduction of the small block Chev V8 introduced into 1955 model cars. The engine was 100 pounds lighter than any other production V8 at the time and compact. Lance Reventlow exploited its virtues in his Scarabs in 1958.

The Cooper Monaco and Lotus 19, mid-engined cars powered by the Coventry Climax FPF brought a level of subtlety to the fields but it wasn’t long before the small block Chev, Ford ‘Windsor’ V8 introduced in 1962 and the F85 aluminium Oldsmobile engines found their way into the backs of the Coopers and Loti. These ‘small and big block’ modern V8’s established a new paradigm globally for sportscar racing, they won everything up to and including Le Mans.

The focus of the European and English racing car manufacturers was the US market where there was much money to be made supplying this strong sportscar scene which launched the careers of Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney and Richie Ginther into Europe in the ’50’s.

In Australia the bigger racing budgets were devoted to single seaters although we had a smattering of Jag C and D Types’, 300S, Lotus 11’s and 15’s all of which could double up in events like the Australian Grand Prix which was run to Formula Libre until 1961.

In the early 60’s Frank Matich and Bib Stillwell slugged it out in both single seaters and sportscars; Stillwell in a Cooper Monaco I wrote about a while back and Frank Matich in a Lotus 19 and later, after the earlier car was destroyed in a Warwick Farm testing accident, a Lotus 19B. Both cars were Coventry Climax powered. (Stillwells Cooper was fitted with an ex-Scarab Traco Buick engine later)

‘Cranky Franky’ was an awesome competitor and engineer, his later self built cars were of world class and won Australian Sportscar and Gold Star (Single Seater) Championships.

In 1962 Matich raced Elfin Clubman, Formula Junior and 1.5 litre cars as a factory driver, in fact he ‘cut his single seater teeth’ with Elfin and was appointed the firms NSW Agent. Elfin is the South Australian company created by Garrie Cooper in 1958, it evolved from his fathers body-building business and became Australia’s largest and most successful producer of racing cars, building over 350 cars and winning dozens of Championships until well after Coopers death in April 1982

The modest, understated Cooper, a titan of Australian Motor Racing was to play a key role in Matich’s next championship winning sportscar.

19b wf

FM cutting the grass in the Lotus 19B Climax, Homestead Corner, Warwick Farm. This car was extensively and continually developed by Matich and his team and had some Brabham components; wheels and brakes at the end of its life which occurred at Lakeside in 1965. Chassis number unknown, car taken to Elfin and used as a reference for the 400 design, car last seen atop a workshop at Elfins many years ago…destiny unknown. (John Ellacott)

Destruction of Lotus 19B Climax…

Matich had success in his Lotus 19’s, winning the Australian Tourist Trophy in the 19B at Longford in 1964. He was the favourite to win the title at Lakeside in 1965, but the competition was to be stiffer than the year before with no less a driver than Ken Miles competing in a factory Cobra a long way from home.

Frank decided to contest a sports car event during the Lakeside Gold Star Meeting in July as his final preparation for the ATT  in November.

Matich was out in practice when he lost it behind the pits, the throttle of the car stuck open, he crashed the car  through the fence at around 120 miles per hour badly damaging it and giving Matich second degree burns to his hands and back.

cranky

Frank Matich pictured later in his career at Wigram, NZ. Tasman Series 1973. The car is his self built F5000 Matich A50 Repco, and here he is typically deep in thought pondering the setup changes he needs. He was 4th, the race won by his Kiwi rival in the constructor/driver stakes, Graham McRae in his McRae GM1 Chev. (Shane Lee)

The result was that Total, the French Oil Company and Matich’s sponsor, withdrew their support, the local distribution company had recently been taken over by Boral in Australia.

Ray Bell ‘They (Total) had been looking to Frank to win the Gold Star in the Brabham and continue blitzing the field in the 19B, but he was now out of racing for some time and they bailed right out of their deal with him’.

Laurie O’Neil was a wealthy Sydney businessman who had the franchise for Peterbilt Trucks, he had and would for many years own cars others raced, he was a sponsor of the Lotus 19B and would support Matich in a new car.

chassis and engine

The Matich 400 ‘BB662’ coming together at Elfins, Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown. Side pontoons, Traco Olds 4.5 litre F85 engine and Hewland HD5 gearbox. Key elements of the engine; Engle roller cam, stock rockers but fabricated steel rocker stand or pedestal, JE pistons, Warren machined ‘H Beam’ rods, Moldex steel crank, 4 48 IDA Webers, conventional Delco Remy distributor and coil ignition, Traco inlet manifold, McLaren supplied exhausts; circa 350-365bhp at 6500 rpm. By 1966 the Olds even at 5 litres wasn’t enough to do the job in the ‘States, but in Oz it was more than sufficient, the engine 200 pounds lighter than a 5.4 litre Chev with consequent benefits in terms of running gear, weight transfer etc. (Bob Mills Collection)

Birth of The Elfin 400…

According to Barry Catford in ‘Australias Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ Garrie Cooper was developing his own ideas for his first ‘big banger’ sports car as he had been approached by an existing customer, Noel Hurd to build a car powered by a Ford 289cid V8.

Cooper visited the UK looking at the latest racers and had commenced the design process of the car according to Noel Hurd who confirmed as such to journalist Ray Bell in August 2002. Still, the somewhat contentious part of this story is the input Matich had into the design of the Elfin 400, which was to be the new cars type designation, as against Cooper himself.

Geoff Smedley was Matich’s engineer at the time and recalled ‘I started to work with Frank after John Youl retired from racing (a world class driver of Cooper Climaxes from Tasmania) and have memories on the birth of the Elfin 400, it was in 1965 after the demise of the 19B at Lakeside. Garrie Cooper came over from Adelaide to Sydney, Frank and i picked him up and we had a long lunch, about half the day. We discussed the layout of the car, the ideas were drawn up on a restaurant serviette incorporating salvageable bits from the Lotus.’

‘At that stage we assumed we would use the Coventry Climax FPF from the Lotus, the decision to go with the Traco was made later. Garrie designed the car using the general layout we discussed and agreed. The final design couldn’t be finalised until we decided what could be used from the 19B. The Hewland HD5 box’ was used and i think the car was set up on the 19 uprights but i am not sure the car ever raced on them.’

‘I spent much time at Elfins’ in Adelaide machining many of the components as Garrie had a lathe but not a machinist which was my core skill. Garrie Cooper was a brilliant man and all the credit must go his way for the 400, it was an Elfin’ Smedley said.

‘Total had kept me on to sort out the sale of all of the bits left over from the Lotus and Brabham race program, but it all got too hard and complex so i left to work on other projects

g cooper ian smith

Lovely portrait of Garrie Cooper taken in the late 1970’s by Ian Smith. The ‘Ansett Team Elfin’ F5000 MR5/6/8/9’s were mainstays of Australian top level single seater racing for the best part of a decade from 1972. Cooper a remarkably successful designer/constructor and fine driver. (Ian Smith)

After Geoff Smedley’s departure, Bruce Richardson was employed to work on the program ‘I worked with FM on the Leaton Motors owned D Type Jag and Lotus 15 from around 1958 and then left to go overseas. I was working for Reg Parnell Racing in Europe at the time Total/Matich were looking for a competitive sportscar and made the introductions on their behalf to UDT Laystall which resulted in the purchase of FM’s first, ex-Moss 19.’

‘When I returned to Australia Laurie O’ Neil had decided to get actively back into motor racing by supporting Frank Matich into another car, which became the Elfin 400. He bought the wreck of the Lotus 19B from the insurers, employed me to look after the car and employed FM on his books as a salesman. early on Frank and i had discussed the various cars we liked at the time including Bruce McLaren’s ‘Zerex Special’ Cooper, all of which was later discussed with Garrie Cooper’

Laurie soon despatched me to Adelaide to pick the 400 up, I had only just got married so off my wife and I went on the long trip from Sydney by road South West. When we arrived in Edwardstown Garrie was surprised to see us, the car was far from finished!’

The Noel Hurd, Globe Engineering owned car was the prototype and given the chassis number ‘BB661′ but was soon relegated to the second built, with the Hurds’ generous consent, to allow the Matich car to be completed first. Frank wanted to contest the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy at Longford in February 1966.

Richardson, ‘I stayed in Adelaide and helped build up the car together with Fulvio Mattiolo, a great bloke and fabricator, John Webb who built the body, Bob Mills and others. To my recollection none of the parts from the 19B were used in the 400.’ (other than the Hewland gearbox as noted above by Geoff Smedley)

‘The engine was a brand new Traco Olds based on the F85 block, Laurie was always bringing in cars from the US so he plonked it in the boot of one of his imports! I had several trips for Laurie to see the Traco guys in Culver City, both Jim Travers and Frank Coon were remarkable people and very professional to deal with’.

‘The engine itself was very good, the problems were inherent with the lightweight block once they developed over about 300BHP. The block distorted quite a lot causing loss of oil pressure. We used Merv Waggott’s dyno in Sydney and had him make some steel sleeves to fit into the block where the cam followers ran which helped the problem. Repco had similar issues with the same block they used in F1, solving them by building their own blocks from the 1967 season.’

‘With time running short, we planned to do the sports car events which were part of the 1966 Tasman Series Australian rounds, especially the Tourist Trophy, at Longford we took the car back to Peterbilts headquarters in Sydney. There the finishing touches were completed including the rear body, John Webb came to Sydney to do that, the exhaust system, painting etc. The car made its race debut at Sandown having been tested at Warwick Farm.’

body

The body of the 400 was hand formed by John Webb in aluminium with a fibreglass female mould taken from the nose section.. (Bob Mills Collection)

Matich related his version of the 400’s design and build in a ‘Vintage Racecar Journal’ article published in August 2002, unfortunately 20 years after Garrie Coopers’ death and therefore ability to respond…

‘Garrie Cooper of Elfin came to see me (after Matich destroyed his Lotus 19B) as he had orders to build a big sports car and had a proposition. They would do the work and build the car to my design if they, with some modification, could apply the design to their own version.  VRJ: So your own car was known as the SR3?

FM: The first car for me was called the Traco Olds. I was a bit embarrassed and didn’t want to call it a Matich…My good pal, Laurie O’Neil, was involved with me and had bought an engine from friends at Traco Engineering in America and we agreed to call the car a Traco. They were flattered but there was a bit of criticism as everyone thought there was some disagreement between Elfin and us. There was no disagreement, but there
was a little problem as BP had an arrangement with Elfin where they used to pay a bonus for every race that an Elfin car won. As a result of that, Elfin wanted me to call the car an Elfin; then they offered me a part of what BP was paying but I wouldn’t agree, so it all became too bloody complex. So from then on I decided to call them Matiches’.

In fact the ‘spin’ by Frank started very early, in an Australian ‘Auto Sportsman’ October 1966 article written by Ray Simpson. The article says ‘ The early stages of construction were carried out with the help of Garrie Cooper at the Elfin works in Adelaide. Completion of the project however took place at the Peterbilt Works in Sydney where Bruce Richardson and Rennmax exponent Bob Britton finalised the design and finished the car’.

The photos in this article clearly show the car being built at Elfins in Adelaide, the account of Geoff Smedley and Bruce Richardson confirm both the design and construction of the car by Cooper/Elfin in Adelaide with only the finishing touches made in Sydney, the bodywork itself completed by Elfin’s John Webb there.

Britton had no role in the design or construction of the 400. He did build the Matich SR3, Franks’ 1967 Repco powered Can Am contender, the chassis of which is ‘as good as a copy’ Elfin 400 according to Bruce Richardson, ‘something Bob Britton and i had a chuckle about in recalling all the fun times, challenges and success we had with Matich at his recent funeral’.

What seems likely is this; That Cooper had started the design of what became the 400 before Matich ‘boofed’ his 19B. That Cooper and Matich met in Sydney, at whose instigation is unclear. That the general conceptual layout of the car was agreed and ‘documented’ on a serviette. That the remains of the Matich 19B  were used as reference points only, no parts of the Lotus other than the Hewland HD5 ‘box were used in the ‘BB662’ build. That Cooper designed the car, which he had commenced, perhaps changing the detail of the design to be consistent with the ‘conceptual serviette layout’ and whatever learnings were to be taken from the very dead but still useful 19B…

The basic dimensions of the car were referenced from, or compared with depending on how far Coopers design had progressed when the Lotus arrived in Adelaide, the 19B. It was critical to both Matich and Cooper that the car was successful from the start.

Peter Brennan, having owned and restored ‘BB662’ 25 years ago comments; ‘…the rear frame is similar to the Lotus, the centre bulkhead is of the Lotus diaphragm type, the 400 uprights are very similar, Elfins perhaps took a pattern from them, the Lotus in standard form didn’t have a Hewland box, the Elfin had cast front uprights, the Lotus Alford and Alder uprights’.

The Lotus was a source of reference as was the ‘conceptual serviette’ but the car is entirely of Elfin detail design and manufacture as Geoff Smedley and Bruce Richardson confirm.

Matichs’ conversations with Cooper about the dynamic attributes and qualities of the car he sought would have been readily understood by Cooper, a champion driver himself. Matich had been racing ‘big sports cars’ for over a decade; C and D Type Jags, Lotus 15 and Lotus 19/19B. He knew what he wanted and what was needed to win. Garrie hadn’t raced a ‘big car’ to that point nor built one.

To say that they collaborated closely on the conceptual design of the car, that the detail design was Coopers’ and the cars construction was by Elfin is an accurate way to describe the design and build elements of the project.

400 chassis

400 space frame was fusion welded square, round and oval mild steel tubing. Lotus type centre diaphragm clear. (Bob Mills Collection)

Garrie Cooper designed a conventional space frame chassis which was fully triangulated and constructed of square, round and oval section tubes. The aluminium undertray and subsidiary bulkheads were stressed to add rigidity to the light structure. His first monocoque Elfin, the very successful Type 100 or ‘Mono’ single seater was winning races at the time and whilst the monocoque Lola GT, Ford GT40 and Lola T70 raced during 1963-5, a good space-frame could still do the job, time was of the essence and the successful Lotus 19B was a spaceframe…

Front suspension comprised upper and lower wishbones, coil springs and Armstong dampers, the uprights are cast magnesium, the roll bars adjustable. At the rear a single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and again coil spring damper units using Armstrong shocks was deployed. The sway bar was adjustable.

400 rear peterbilt

Rear shot of the Matich ‘BB662’ Olds in Sydney. Rear chassis diaphragm, Hewland HD5 ‘box, muffled! aluminium Traco Olds engine, inverted lower wishbones, Elfin cast magnesium uprights, driveshafts and adjustable sway bar all clear. Rear tyres 15 inch diameter X 12 inch wide shod with Firestone tyres to whom FM was contracted at the time. L>R Bruce Richardson, Matich, Laurie O’Neil. (John Ellacott)

The rack and pinion steering was Triumph Herald, the offset seating position encouraging Cooper to use this component.

Brakes were discs, 12 inch front and 11 inch rear using Girling BR calipers. Wheels were also of Elfin design and like the uprights were cast by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Fishermans Bend, Melbourne. They were 4 stud magnesium alloy, 15 inch X 10 inches in diameter at the front and 15 x 12 at the rear…to comply with Australian sports car regs a spare was also carried, mounted under the wrap around perspex windscreen.

The wheel base was 91 inches, track 55 inches, width 68 inches, length 148 inches, height 32inches and weight 1300 pounds.

Four Elfin 400’s were built; ‘BB661’ for Dick Bassett and Noel Hurd , ‘BB662’ for Laurie O’Neill and Frank Matich, ‘BB67-3’ for Bob Jane Racing and ‘BB67-4’ for Andy Buchanan in New Zealand.

All of the cars still exist and have interesting histories. For example, the Bassett car was fitted with a Ford Windsor V8 engine with DOHC heads developed by Globe Engineering for a period. The Bob Jane car was fitted with the first Repco Brabham RB620 racing engine sold to a customer, Brabhams engines all factory supplied as part of Jacks deal with Repco.

400 side rear

Car at Peterbilts’ Alexandria, Sydney base. Elfin 400 Traco Olds, February 1966. Car delivered completed without rear bodywork and all of the exhaust system. Rear body finished and fitted in Sydney by Elfins’ John Webb. Matich in the car, Laurie O’Neil and Bruce Richardson in overalls. (John Ellacott)

‘BB662’ without rear bodyword was taken to Sydney on February 8 1966 for completion and testing prior to the Australian Tourist Trophy which was contested during the Longford Tasman meeting on March 7.

Matich initially raced the car with the bodywork and its distinctive ‘front horns’ containing the headlights in place but these were later removed to attempt to overcome the aerodynamic lift that was characteristic of the car.

400 front peterbilt

Front of ‘BB662’ post painting in Sydney fitted with its controversial and aerodynamically unstable, original ‘front horns’ nose. The aero issues are explored in the text. It looks great, ‘edgy’ for its day but the aero was not ‘fully resolved’. (John Ellacott)

Elfins body-builder John Webb and Bruce Richardson accompanied the car to Sydney, the 400 being race ready to compete in the sportscar events at the 27 February Sandown Park, Victoria, Tasman meeting where it was immediately competitive. The body was completed the car pounding around ‘Franks Backyard’, Warwick Farm in Sydneys’ west before heading south to Melbourne and then across Bass Strait for the fabulous Longford meeting.

The ‘Racing Car News’ report of the ‘Elfin Traco Olds’ Sandown debut explains that the 365bhp car was barely slower than the 2.5 litre Tasman single-seaters. Matich won the race comfortably at a canter from Alan Hamiltons Porsche 906 and Spencer Martins’ Ferrari 250LM taking half a second off Bib Stillwells’ Cooper Monaco lap record ‘doing it so easily he’s saving a few seconds for the future…there just isn’t anything in the country that can come close to it in Sports Cars’.

Other than routine pre-race preparation the car was nicely ‘run in’ for its Australian Championship encounter the following weekend.

longford program 1966

(Ellis French Collection)

matich longford

ATT grid Longford 1966; #2 Matich Elfin 400/ Traco Olds, #1 Spencer Martin Ferrari 250LM, the red helmet on the far left is Alan Hamilton, his Porsche 904/6 Spyder invisible, #11 on row 2 is Lionel Ayers, a long way from Queensland in his Lotus 23B Ford . (Richard Blanden)

Frank Matich shares the front row of the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy grid at Longford with Spencer Martin’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM, his brand spanking new Elfin 400/ Traco Olds gleaming in the Tasmanian autumn sun…

The feature event of the annual carnival of racing at Longford was the Tasman race for 2.5 litre single-seaters, in ’66 the race was won by Jackie Stewarts BRM P261 but all eyes were on Jack Brabham and his BT19 Repco, the new partnership of Brabham and the RB620 engine making only its third start, the engine made its debut in South Africa, raced at Sandown the week before finishing 3rd behind the 2 BRM’s in Tasmania. The testing was all critical to give the package the reliability it needed to win the World Title, which of course Brabham did in 1966, doubling up with Denny Hulme in ’67.

The Australian Tourist Trophy was also an event of great stature, Matich took an easy win in an 8 lapper which opened the meeting, setting a lap record of 2:28 winning from Martin’s Ferrari and Frank Demuth’s Lotus 23B.

matich and ambrose

The latest Elfin Sports Car passes the first…Ross Ambrose (father of V8 SuperCar driver Marcus) is passed by Matich. Elfin Streamliner and 400 respectively. In fact FM muffed a gear under brakes and was nearly hit up the chuff by Ambrose. ATT Longford 1966. (oldracephotos.com.au/David Keep)

matich and richarson longford paddock

Mechanic Bruce Richardson and FM ponder changes to the Elfin 400/Traco Olds in the Longford Paddock. Note the sartorial elegance of the 2 Aussies in the background…Longford was always hot! (oldracephotos.com.au/David Keep)

matich tassie

Matich crosses the South Esk River, Longford 1966. The couple in the boat looking relaxed and dropping in a line…(Alan Stewart Collection)

The ATT was contested over 23 laps on day 2 of the carnival. ‘Racing Car News’ reported the event as follows ‘Martin made a slow start and allowed Hamilton’s Porsche 906 to follow Matich into the first corner, but took over 2nd towards the end of the first lap. Second time past the order was Matich, Martin, Hamilton, Demuth, Mitchell (RM1), then Ayers and Bolton…’

‘The pace was fast and furious but positions did not change greatly in the early laps…already Matich had lapped Bob Holden (Lolita) and Greg Ellis…Martin was forced into the pits on the 6th lap with a loose undertray and rejoined the race exactly as Matich went past.’

The order was Matich a half a lap ahead of Hamilton, Demuth, Ayers, Bolton and Holland, the latter 2 drivers in Lotus 23B’s.

‘The next 2 laps the big Ferrari regained 2 places..on lap 17 Matich was coming into Newry about to lap Carosi’s Bolwell when Carosi spun into the bank on the inside of the circuit barely giving Matich the room to pass…In the closing stages of the race Martin gave the Ferrari everything, making up 5 seconds a lap but he was unable to catch the fantastic white Porsche’

‘Matich was untroubled in the final few laps, his times dropping to 2:45’s and his top speed from around 160mph to 130. The fleet footed although bulky looking  Elfin took the flag some 13.4 secs ahead of the Porsche with Martin another 29 seconds away in 3rd’.

The meeting was indicative of the dominance of the car Matich winning many races in it in the short time he raced it, but he needed to do his own thing, he resigned from Peterbilt, who employed him, in September 1966 to pursue his own programs with his Rennmax built but ‘as good as a copy’ Elfin 400 chassis Matich SR3 cars…The success of these fabulous devices is a story in itself for another time.

wf feb

Peter Windsor’s shot of the RAC Sports Car Trophy race at Warwick Farm in May 1966. Matich is on pole in his new car with Alan Hamilton alongside, Porsche 904/6 with Kevin Bartlett on the outside in the Alec Mildren Racing Alfa Romeo TZ2. Windsor captions the 2 Lotus 23B’s behind as driven by Frank Demuth and Niel Allen, you can also just see Spencer Martin’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM…the heavy long distance racer well back amongst all these ‘Sprinters’. (Peter Windsor)

rcn cover 400

RCN cover with David Atkinson’s watercolor of  duelling Elfin 400’s; Allen in ‘BB662’, from Noel Hurd in the Globe Engineering Ford Windsor powered car and Bob Jane in his Repco 4.4 litre engined device…

allen bathurst

Wonderful Dick Simpson shot of Bill Brown in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 CanAm with Niel Allen slipping up the inside at Hell Corner in the Elfin 400…on this occasion the exotic V12 bested 5 litres of Chev V8. Brown set the Bathurst top speed record of 181 mph and Allen took the lap record, then DNF in this Sports Car Trophy race. Love the crowd, vestigial safety fencing, ‘Murrumbidgee Road Racing Club’ overalls and ‘King Size Daggi Dog’ health food stand…(oldracephotos.com.au/Dick Simpson)

Laurie O’Neil sold the 400 to Sydney property developer and up and coming racer, Niel Allen…

Bruce Richrdson again picks up the story, ‘When FM left to do his own thing with the SR3 program Laurie said to me one day that Niel Allen was interested in buying the car, they did the deal, I went to work with Niel, looking after the Elfin and the other cars in his stable until I was injured in a fuel explosion. I left, Peter Molloy took my place. I took 12 months off and then worked for a succession of touring car teams as well as doing my own stuff; McLeod Ford with John Goss, Ron Hodgson with Bob Morris including a Bathurst win. I helped Charlie O’Brien run a BMW 635CSI at Bathurst, which was my introduction to electronics, at that stage I decided if that was the way things were going I would quit racing! Frank Gardner lived next door to me on the Gold Coast, I did work with them on a casual basis including helping them with their Bathurst win’

Allen initially raced the car with the Traco Olds but after blowing the engine ‘BB662′ was fitted with a 5 litre Chev V8 and ZF gearbox by Peter Molloy, Allen’s engineer till the end of his later, successful F5000 program. He continued to develop the car including changing the suspension pick-up points to suit the ever wider tyres available and fitment of Matich wheels to suit.

At the 1967 AGP Meeting at Warwick Farm Allen broke Matich’s lap record by 0.8 seconds and won the race. A month later he broke Franks’ Sandown lap record in a handicap race, FM having set it earlier in the day on the debut of his new Matich SR3.

Niel Allen was the only driver ever to set an outright lap record crossing the finish line backwards. This occurred at Symmons Plains, Tasmania, there being a tight corner that leads into a curve over the finish line there. At the end of the second lap he spun… and crossed the line backwards with a new lap record!

elfin 400 chev allen 1

Now with 5 litre Chev V8 in Niel Allen’s ownership, the installation done by Peter Molloy. ZF 5DS ‘box fitted at the same time. Wider Matich wheels fitted. (oldracephotos.com.au/David Keep)

Check out this YouTube Footage of the 1968 Warwick Farm Tasman Sports Car support race; wonderful race between Chris Amon in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/CanAm 350, Allen in the Elfin 400 and victorious Frank Matich in his Matich SR3 Repco…

wf stanley

Niel Allen ahead of Ian Cook in Bob Janes car. The 2 400’s are pictured at Warwick Farm’s Creek Corner during the Tasman meeting in February 1968, Matich having first tested the car 2 years before at the ‘Farm. Later nose clear to see, aerodynamically better? but fugly! (John Stanley)

400 bathurst grid

#12 Niel Allen Elfin 400 sharing the front row of the 1967 Easter Bathurst Sports Car grid with #7 Bob Jane Elfin 400 Repco ‘BB67-3’, Fred Gibson’s Niel Allen owned Lotus Elan 26R on the far left and Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra and another Elan on row 2. ‘BB662’ certainly did a few racing miles at Mt Panorama! (oldracephotos.com.au/Stuart Phillips)

Allen won both races he started at Hume Weir, near Albury in December 1967 s breaking Spencer Martins’ lap record set in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM.

At the traditional Bathurst Easter meeting in 1968 Bill Brown set a top speed record in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/Can Am 350 at 181mph but Allen seriously challenged the Fazz setting a lap record of 2:18:4, 8 seconds ahead of Matich’s previous mark. Sydneysider Matich was on a business trip to the US to plan his 1968 CanAm assault, which ultimately did not eventuate due to the late completion of his SR4. Niel was a DNF forlornly parking the Elfin at the top of the mountain. Brown won the race from Pete Geoghegan in the SV Ferrari 250LM and Fred Gibson in Allens’ Lotus Elan 26R.

He also broke the record at Winton in Central Victoria in 1967 before selling the car to Sydney racer and tuning specialist Fred Gibson.

Allen bought Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA at the end of the 1968 Tasman series in his inexorable rise to the top of Australian Motor Racing. He never won an Australian Title but took victory in the 1971 New Zealand Grand Prix in his McLaren M10B Chev, by rights perhaps he should have won the Tasman that year…FM said he didn’t understand how Allen was so fast given his need to divorce himself from his business pressures as a ‘weekend racer’, FM was a fulltime professional who tested religiously and relentlessly doing endless miles around Warwick Farm and being paid by the lap  as part of his Goodyear contract. FM was very fast but he worked hard at his craft.

Niel Allen wasn’t finished with Elfins’ sports cars either. He bought Cooper’s first monocoque sporty, the short wheelbase, tricky to drive, Elfin ME5 Chev 5 litre in 1969, success in that car was tough as by that time Matich was absolutely at the top of his game with his Matich SR4 Repco, the space frame car powered by a DOHC 4 valve, 5 litre RB760 engine, the car designed for the ’68 Can Am series for which it was late is a story in itself.

RCN oct

Niel Allen advertises the ‘fleet’ for sale to concentrate on his ex-Courage F2 McLaren M4A FVA. RCN Oct 1968. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

elfin 400 bathurst

Start of the fateful Easter Bathurst race which took Bevan Gibson’s life, 1969. Gibson is in Bob Jane’s red Elfin 400 Repco, Allen is alongside in the Elfin 400 Chev ‘BB662’ and Frank Matich on the right in his hi-winged Matich SR4 Repco. SR4 the  fastest car in Australia of any type in 1969, winner of the ASS Championship and the only year in which it raced. Allen gets the jump at the start. (Wayne McKay)

Nose Lift and Aerodynamic Instability at High Speed…

The aerodynamics of racing cars in the 1960’s was still very much a black art, perhaps the most early experiments in gathering data on the flow of air over and around racing cars was in the latter stages of Fords Le Mans program and the ongoing, seminal and defining work of Jim Hall and his band of ‘GM quasi-works’ boffins at Rattlesnake Raceway in Texas, the Chaparrals simply iconoclasts.

Without taking a tangent too far Jim Hall spoke about his early aerodynamic testing and calibration in the article i wrote about the Chaparral 2F, those with an interest in his work may find it of interest, the relevant bit is about half way through the article;

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/26/67-spa-1000km-chaparral-2f/

Cooper designed the body with ‘John Webb wanting the underside of the horns extensions to be horizontal, as a continuation of the whole underside of the 400, to avoid the possibility of aerodynamic lift , but Garrie insisted they curve upwards to avoid the nose fouling the track’ quoted Barry Catford in his Elfin book.

Interestingly, in the ‘Auto Sportsman’ article mentioned earlier Matich claims credit for the body design ‘ The body styling was inspired by the very successful Chaparral Sports Car …Jack (sic) Webb fabricated the design from drawings supplied by Matich and it features front ‘Fish Gill’ spoilers which added to its gruesome appearance. Matich has recently run the car with a ‘blunt nose’ unit but plans only to use this on short circuits’. Taken at face value this statement suggests Matich did not think the car had high speed instability, if he planned to use the blunt nose on short circuits only, it implied he was happy with the original bodywork on fast ones.

Whatever the case Matich removed the distinctive horns on ‘BB662’, probably to cure aerodynamic lift, possibly to differentiate the look of the car from other 400’s.

During the 1967 Longford meeting in practice Noel Hurd in the Globe 400 ‘BB661′ became airborne at high speed, he mowed down a row of fence posts after spinning several times but was unhurt. The car was repaired at Elfins’ with the ‘horns’ removed.

When Peter Brennan acquired ‘BB662’ he spoke to Niel Allen about his experience of the car which was complimentary overall but ‘Niel said on the fast straights he used to have to touch the brakes to get the nose down before applying the brakes hard. The horns were already off the car at this point but Niel was still having problems with front adhesion. It was pretty clear these early cars had little or no frontal downforce’.

Once he cut the air slots in the guards he said it cured the problem ‘The horns were not the problem causing the lift, it was air damming under the guards which could not escape, all that was required was to cut slots in the rear of the front guards. I discussed this at length with Niel, he found out the cause later and would not have cut the original nose off had he understood the real nature of the problem’.

Peter raced the car at Adelaide in 1990 ‘at 175 mph down Brabham Straight without a problem, in fact it was making so much downforce we had to reinforce the nose brackets at the meeting with the belt of one of my pitcrews pants!’

Unfortunately all these learnings were in the future, lets not forget that even with technology no-one in their wildest of dreams could imagine in 1966 that Mark Webber aviated in his Mercedes on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans on consecutive days only a decade ago…

And so it was that Bevan Gibson, the young up and coming Benalla driver lost his life in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 at the Bathurst Easter meeting in 1969.

Barry Catford described the race ‘Matich was favourite for the race with a practice time of 2:14.9. After practice the faster drivers reportedly discussed the aerodynamic lift they had experienced over the second hump (this is pre ‘The Chase’ which now slows the cars on Conrod) on Conrod and resolved to treat that section of the track with caution.’

‘Niel Allen roared away (in BB662) followed by Gibson and Matich. Frank took over at Forrests Elbow and then on lap 2 Niel had a lose on the Mountain and dropped back and the Matich SR4 Repco began having fuel pressure problems. Bevan closed…on Mountain Straight making up more ground and the next lap drew alongside as they headed into Shell again’.

Bevan sensed a victory (which would never have been on had the SR4 been running properly, it was an opportunity which would seldom come) and tried harder on the 4th lap…the Elfin became airborne on the 2nd Conrod Hump, turning on its back and killing Bevan instantly. Matich, Allen and others retired almost immediately’

Gibson SCW cover

(Stephen Dalton Collection)

Elfin 400/ Traco Olds/ Elfin 400…now the ‘R&T Chev’

Fred Gibson was then an up and coming driver and proprietor of a Randwick, Sydney tuning business called ‘Road and Track Automotive Services’ hence the new name when Fred purchased the car he had occasionally driven for Allen.

The 400 was extensively rebuilt but mechanically unchanged, the notable difference the new bodywork designed and built by Denis Julian which used the original body as a mould but gave the car a lower line. Gibson also added a wing.

The engine was a 5 litre Chev with Crower cam, Warren rods, again on 48IDA Webers and gave circa 450bhp.

rand t chev gibson

Fred Gibson in ‘BB662’ as the ‘R&T Chev’, Surfers Paradise 1970. (Unattributed)

Gibson didn’t race the car for long, his career was on the rise, he became a Ford factory driver in their Series Production racing program with the iconic Falcon GTHO’s, the car being sold to Allan Newton in Victoria.

Newton raced the car regularly for years both in Victoria and interstate only selling it after a ‘big hit’ going up Bitupave Hill at Sydneys Amaroo Park in 1977.

rand t

Geoff Russell’s shot of the Elfin 400 after its big Amaroo shunt on 29 May 1977, front of the car clearly shortened considerably by its impact against one of the circuits earth banks. See ‘Etcetera’ below for a sequence of photos which captured the accident. (Geoff Russell)

He sold the car to a friend, Dennis Burdon who cut away the badly damaged rear of the chassis to fit a 4.4 Litre Leyland P76 V8 and Hewland F1 FGA gearbox.

This process took years, Brennan was aware of the cars location, knew Newton and eventually when Burdon tired of the car he bought ‘the steering wheel, 4 corners which were complete, the centre section of the chassis from roll bar to the pedals and the engine and gearbox which were sold, respectively to Andrew McDowell and Chas Talbot for his self built Formula Holden’

And so, our intrepid racer set off on a mammoth reconstruction project…

r t chev winton

R&T Chev ‘BB662’ in the bucolic Winton, Benalla, Victoria paddock in 1974, still very much as Fred Gibson modified it. The car was a regular in Victorian events at the time, i saw it race many times, Allan Newton drove it well. The cars either side are Lotus 23B’s, the bright yellow car the Gibson Family (as in Bevan Gibson who died at Bathurst) which if memory serves was fitted with a Repco V8, at the time the car was driven by Paul Gibson. Australian readers will know the popular Gibson’s as Benalla Auto Club stalwarts. (oldracephotos.com.au/Neil Hammond)

salas shop

Elfin 400 ‘BB662′ getting towards the end of its restoration by Peter and Gavin Sala’s team. Car has been tested at Calder sans body, and is in the final stages of completion in late October 1990. Look closely and you can see the other 2 400 chassis’ in the workshop at the time. (Peter Brennan Collection)

Restoration of Elfin 400 ‘BB662’…

Having acquired the car, or rather it’s remains the restoration challenge was a big one, essentially Peter had the bones of a car, the project was largely one of reconstruction or resurrection rather than a rebuild.

Brennan liked the combination of the original bodywork and 5 Litre Chev engine, a Traco Olds was pretty much impossible to source, the Hewland HD5 and ZF boxes were also rare so it made practical, economic sense to choose a combination of core components with which the car had raced in its long racing life which could be sourced at sensible money.

That decided, Peter wrote to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and was given written approval from the CEO, John Keefe to rebuild/reconstruct the car to that spec.

Some years later, after the car had been racing, the CAMS Historic Commission changed their view on the matter, what followed was a decade of protracted arguments and negotiations about all manner of the detail specifications of the car which was finally resolved with compromise being reached; the car could race as rebuilt but when sold by Peter the nose of the car is to be similar to that used by Niel Allen during the period he raced it; in essence the car could race in the spec chosen by Peter and confirmed as such by the CAMS CEO at the projects commencement…

salas handiwork

Gavin Sala’s  handiwork on display. Brennan says’ Be fair to say Gavin played an equal part in the resto work, he is a craftsman for a butcher, hard to believe the work he produces with virtually no qualifications’. ‘Old Midnight’ is in situ, its a spaceframe chassis, the aluminium side pontoons are clear. Gear linkage sitting atop the pontoon this side, exhausts have been ‘dummy fitted’. (Peter Brennan Collection)

Having agreed on the specs of the car with CAMS a handy confluence of events accelerated the cars resurrection from mid 1990…

Our intrepid racer sold his Melbourne ‘Carbitune’ business and decided to give himself a well earned break before starting his new venture, the Australian Grand Prix was in Adelaide in November, with a little bit of luck ‘BB662’ could be a debut starlet in the Historic Racing support events, these races always popular with the punters and owners alike.

The repair choice was made easy as Gavin Sala, a Victorian Racer/Restorer/Dealer and Owner happened to have the ex Bob Jane ‘BB67-3’ and ex Buchanan ‘BB67-4’ cars in his outer urban Melbourne workshop for restoration at the time.

The most difficult part of the job was the chassis. Elfin still existed, it was only money to buy uprights, wheels and so on but the 400 chassis jig no longer existed. Having the other cars alongside made the task of using the remains of the original chassis as a base; from rear bulkhead to the pedals, then carefully measuring and fabricating the required frame, brackets, diaphragm and related aluminium panels relatively straight-forward for skilled fabricators such as Ken Leigh, Gavin and Peter himself.

400 butt shot

‘BB662’ resto assembly butt shot. DG300 ‘F5000’ Hewland ‘box. ‘Old Midnight’ 5 litre Chev circa 500bhp on 48IDA Webers. Cast Elfin uprights, upper and lower wishbone/coil spring damper suspension and beefy front bulkhead and rear chassis diaphragms all clear, ditto LHS aluminium pontoon. Car sans exhausts here, but the ‘overhead’ headers came with the bits acquired from Newton. (Peter Brennan Collection)

The suspension was complete but gently sand blasted, crack tested and either reused or replaced using the originals as templates. The wishbones and radius rods were then nickel plated with new spherical joints used throughout.

The cast magnesium uprights were again crack tested, found to be ok, and then reassembled with new bearings.The Triumph Herald steering box was checked and re-used. The lightweight aluminium radiator was a pair of Nissan Pulsar rads’ alloy cores welded together.

salas front scoop

400 front end showing Gavin Sala’s  beautiful aluminium radiator surround/support/duct fabrication work. Not bad for a fella apprenticed as a butcher as PB says! (Peter Brennan Collection)

Peter acquired a Hewland DG300 transaxle. The engine was bought from F5000 Racers Peter and Mary Middleton. ‘Old Midnight’ was originally the great Max Stewarts’ spare engine, we covered its history in the story about the restoration of Peters’ ex Lella Lombardi Lola T330 ‘HU18’, a while back.

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/10/lella-lombardis-lola-peter-brennans-restoration-of-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-3/

Peter, ‘Its nickname was ‘Old Midnight’ as the motor was usually slipped into his Lola after midnight when the race engine was cactus for the weekend.I bought it as a ‘long motor’ less injection. The block was shaved of all unnecessary production lugs and lightened as much as possible.It has Bow-Tie heads, TRW pistons, Carillo rods, a Crane ‘574’ roller cam, Z28 crank, Vertex magneto, and like most of Max’ engines is on Weber 48IDA carbs, it produces 505bhp@7500rpm’.

The bodywork was provided by Elfin, or rather the front mould, which had been run over by a truck! Peter repaired it in order to ‘take a flop’ from it. The original Matich rear body was long since gone, so a production 400 rear ‘glass panel was used, again sourced from Elfin.

calder

Calder test less bodywork 3 weeks before the 1990 AGP in October. (Peter Brennan Collection)

With time getting tight Peter tested the car sans bodywork at Calder to carry out systems checks, ‘BB662’ behaved itself well although Peter was stunned by the very heavy steering which Kevin Bartlett diagnosed as the offset of the rim from the centre line of the kingpin, ‘scrub radius’.

The car then returned to Gavin’s shop for the final fitment of the body, making its debut, as planned in November 1990, where it was undoubtedly one of the stars of the show for many misty eyed enthusiasts who remembered the cars heyday in the hands of the supremely talented Frank Matich and Niel Allen.

body on

Peter has dated this shot on the front guard…its 10 October with 3 weeks to the 1990 AGP…with still a great deal of work to do. Sala’s workshop. (Peter Brennan Collection)

400 at agp 1990

Last minute pre-event fettling out front of Noiges’ pit, AGP Carnival Adelaide 1990. (Peter Brennan Collection)

400 3

Peter Brennan at the AGP Meeting 1990. Photo signed by Niel Allen, Lola Mk1 at rear. Elfin 400 Chev. (Peter Brennan Collection)

The pointless squabble with CAMS meant the car disappeared from sight for a bit but otherwise the 400 is a regular entrant at Historic Meetings around the country and is always punted with verve and skill, much as Matich did during his ATT win at Longford all those years ago…

tour to tarrengower

Peter had the important job of ferrying Lorraine Cooper, on the Elfin Owners and Drivers Club’ Tour To Tarrengower’ in 1994. The 400 is pictured at Bendigo, the start of a road trip for around 35 racing Elfins on the public roads of Victorias’ Goldfields district to Mount Tarrengower Hillclimb at Maldon, 45 kilometres away. I did it in an Elfin Crusader F Vee…it was fun in that, the 400 and various F5000’s entered had a wonderful time! (Peter Brennan Collection)

DSC01368

More recent shot of ‘BB662’ at an Albert Park GP. Brennan’s standard of preparation and presentation outstanding. Car has its original Elfin nose, if you look at the top right of the nearside front guard you can see the ‘gills’ or air reliefs let into the bodywork which eventually addressed the front end lightness of the car by releasing air pressure at high speed. McLaren M1 alongside. (Peter Brennan Collection)

brennan in 400

‘Racers Retreat’ Peter Brennan, in Elfin 400 ‘BB662’, a much cherished car for over 25 years. Albert Park AGP several years ago. (Peter Brennan Collection)

scrab at traco

Amazing shot of the first Scarab Chev out the back of the Traco shop, ‘Thunder Alley, Culver City in 1958. Looking at the fuel tank on the right are Phil Remington and Harold Daigh, Dick Troutman is in the doorway. The Scarab body builder Emil Deidt is at the back of the car, beside him in the check shirt Marshall Whitfield. Jim Travers and Frank Coon are ‘midships with the suited Leo Goosen leaning against the car, beside him at the front of the car is Sonny Balcaen. (Photo Warren Olson Collection/Jerry Entin for ID of those pictured)

Etcetera Traco Engineering…

Traco Engineering was formed by Jim TRAvers and Frank COon in 1957, the pair made their names as mechanics for Bill Vukovich in his successful Indy wins in 1953 and 1954. Well before that they were pre-war hot-rodders racing on the dry lakes of California.

Their ‘shop’ was based in ‘Thunder Alley’, 11928 West Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City in the LA ‘Megalopolis’. The area was so named due to the number of ‘big hitters’ based in the area including James Garner and Lance Reventlow who tested their cars on the block.

The fledgling company was off to a strong start when Lance Reventlow contracted Traco to work on the front-engined Chevy powered sportscar Scarabs’ in 1958. AJ Foyt’s victory in the Mecom owned Scarab at Nassau gave the firm it’s biggest push with engines soon being supplied to Gurney, McLaren, Mecom, Brabham and Lola amongst others.

The bulk of the work in 1965/6 was on the Chev and Olds F85 engine although Bruce McLaren’s team used the companies talents to decrease the capacity of the Ford DOHC Indy engine for F1 use in 1966.

The payroll included some engineers who went on to become great engine builders in their own right; Al Bartz, George Bolthoff to name two.

In 1965 Traco built 48 complete engines and rebuilt 68 more, a ‘Sports Car Graphic’ 1966 article reported that ‘The average Traco built engine takes from 4-6 weeks to complete and requires approximately 100 man hours’, the engines were priced at the time from US$5000-6000.

In 1986 Travers and Coon retired after selling the business to then chief engine builder Jim Jones.

traco in shop

Frank Coon (L) and Jim Travers in their Traco shop building an engine in 1966. (Sports Car Graphic)

traco

Etcetera…

lt kay cutaway

(Laurie Kay)

match hospital

Brisbane ‘Courier Mail’ article of Matich’s Lakeside Lotus 19B crash. (Facebook Elfin 60’s Sportscars Group)

sandown elfin olds

image

Sports Car World cover shot at Longford 1966 during the Matich ATT win. Overhead shot shows a different angle of the body.

 

 

 

longford matich

Matich Elfin 400/Traco Olds with its AT Trophy laurel wreath. Longford paddock March 1966. (Ellis French)

matich lakeside

Matich in the Elfin 400/ Traco Olds, Lakeside, Qld 1966. (John Stanley)

400 rear

Rear shot of ‘BB662’ during Niel Allen’s ownership circa 1968, circuit undisclosed. (Mike Feisst Collection/The Roaring Season)

r and t 2

Chequered Flag magazine captured Allan Newton’s May 1977 accident which all but destroyed ‘BB662’, the old but sturdy spaceframe protecting Newton from worse injury…in much the same way the monocoque chassis of the Elfin MS7 saved him when his throttle again stuck open, this time at Calder, Victoria in 1984. He was a very lucky boy that day…(Chequered Flag)

elfin 400 bp ad

BP ad shot, taken, i think at Sandown, Victoria, ‘Peters Corner’ upon the cars debut, February 1966. (Facebook Elfin 60’s Sportscars Group)

Bibliography…

‘Australias Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, Ray Bell/The Nostalgia Forum, Sports Car World, Australian Auto Sportsman, Sports Car Graphic, Chequered Flag

Facebook ‘Elfin 60’s Sportscars’ Group. This is a very dedicated group of Elfin enthusiasts, key the group name into the FB search engine and apply to be to be admitted

Special Thanks…

To Bruce Richardson and Geoff Smedley for their affectionate, respectful accounts of their time working with Frank Matich

Stephen Dalton for the research assistance and access to his extensive collection

Photo Credits…

John Ellacott, Bob Mills Collection, Wayne McKay, Ellis French, John Stanley, Peter Windsor, Laurie Kay, Alan Stewart Collection, Ian Smith, Shane Lee, Peter Brennan Collection, Richard Blanden, Warren Olson Collection/Jerry Entin, Chris Snowdon, Mike Feisst Collection, Geoff Russell

Lindsay Ross of  Oldracephotos http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/ for the use of the Dick Simpson, David Keep, Stuart Phillips and Neil Hammond shots

Finito…

fm c type leatons servo

(John Ellacott)

Frank Matich, Jaguar C Type, Leaton Motors forecourt, Kinsgrove, Sydney 1958…

One of the wonderful things about this blog are the folks I have met along the way; racer heroes like Kevin Bartlett, John McCormack and Bruce Allison. Those with archives such as Martin Stubbs and Stephen Dalton who has been an invaluable researcher and more recently written an article or three. Also generous photographers Rod MacKenzie, David Blanch, Lindsay Ross, Ian Smith, Dick Simpson and here John Ellacott.

The C Types current custodian, John Corrie saw his car on the blog and with some help from Stephen put me in touch with John Ellacott, whose work always blows my mind. Here is another of John’s shots given to Corrie to complete his archive of the car. It’s of the late, great, recently departed ‘Frantic Francis’ Matich looking youthful and debonair in flat hat aboard ‘XKC037′ out front of Leaton Motors workshop in 1958, such an evocative period shot isn’t it?!

Leatons’ are a story in themselves; the Sydney business formed by George Leaton and Joe Robinson in 1959 were supporters of many racers including Matich who raced their C Type Jag, a D Type and Lotus 15 Climax in his early years; the years in which he became a Pro.

I wrote this article about ‘XKC037’ in August last year but have ‘freshened it’ with a lot of new shots, click on the link to have a read.

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

leatons ad

Suitably politically incorrect Leaton Motors Ad circa 1960. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Credits…

John Ellacott, Stephen Dalton

Jim Clark Room 01

The name Jim Clark is synonymous as one of motor racing’s greats, whether dancing a Border Reivers D Type in his early career through to the brilliance soon established with Colin Chapman’s Team Lotus. Tasting success with the marque’s many facets of motor racing – be it Elite, Elan, Lotus Cortina, Formula Junior, Tasman, Indy and Formula One & Two.

This man was born to race, despite his humble Scottish farming background and quiet demeanour. His talents took him racing all over the world be it for Formula 1 or Tasman Series in far off New Zealand or Australia during his own northern hemisphere’s cold and miserable winter period. It all came to a very abrupt ending on April 7, 1968 when despite the known dangers of the sport, the unthinkable became reality that Jim Clark was dead.

A huge talent lost at 32 years of age. News Services weren’t as instantaneous as they now are. So it took a little while to filter the news of his passing around the motor racing globe. It would have been a shock to a young enthusiast listening to a transistor radio or one of Jim’s contemporary drivers’ having a News Service thrust a microphone in front of them for a comment on his passing for their news broadcast.

Jim Clark Room 02

The modest Duns building home of ‘The Jim Clark Room’

Testimony to Jim’s greatness is that despite the passage of 47 years he’s still remembered so fondly. Not least in Duns, in the Berwickshire district of Scotland where ‘The Jim Clark Room’ displays many trophies, photos and memorabilia of the district’s World Champion farmer…

Scarily it is approaching 21 years since I made the journey to Duns to pay homage to the great Jim Clark. It was late August 1994 and with the growth of technology you can do a virtual viewing of the room here. http://www.itv.com/news/border/update/2015-05-15/celebrating-the-life-of-racing-legend-jim-clark/
With there being Jim Clark celebrations in Duns, over the weekend of May 16 and 17 2015.

See this footage of the event including Jackie Stewart and Alan McNish comments.  http://www.itv.com/news/border/update/2015-05-17/remembering-jim-clark/

However in the olden days of 1994 I took some photos. The gent who was minding Jim’s treasures that day was keen to show me that another great of the sport had been to Duns to pay his respects. That great, was fellow F1 World Champion, Ayrton Senna. Who had at that time of my visit, been killed just under 4 months earlier at Imola.

Maybe just a bit too ironic…

Jim Clark Room 03

Artwork of a great motor racing champion

Jim Clark Room 04

A selection of photos and trophies depicting Jim’s many successes adorn the walls and cabinets within the room

Jim Clark Room 05

The JCR vistors’ book – Ayrton Senna visited on February 23, 1991

Jim Clark Room 06

Credits…

Article written by and photos from the collection of Stephen Dalton

Teeny Bikini

Go faster Al! Als times increased by 10 seconds per lap, his concentration on the race lost, he pitted soon after this signal, the couple left the circuit quickly thereafter…

I’ve got no idea where or who this is, perhaps its at Sebring in the mid 1960’s, but its only a guess. If any of you know who, what, where and when i’m sure we would all like to know!

2 f targa

Phil Hill blasts through the ancient Sicilian countryside in his Chaparral 2F, its booming 7 litre Chev engine and ‘outta this world’ aerodynamics entertaining and fascinating the locals…

I posted a short photo article on the 2F in June last year, i have now turned it into a 3500 word feature on this fabulous, seminal 1967 Jim Hall creation. Please click on this link to read it…https://primotipo.com/2014/06/26/67-spa-1000km-chaparral-2f/

targa start

Hap Sharp at the Targa start, plenty of local interest in the American Interloper, carabinieri excepted. Chaparral 2F Chev 1967. (Bernard Cahier)

Photo Credits…Yves Debraine, Bernard Cahier

oz miller cooper tas hillclimb

(Guy Miller)

‘Austin Cooper always drove with enthusiasm’, here it’s written all over his face as he extracts all his Cooper T41 Climax has to offer on the way to achieving FTD…

The quote is attributed to noted Australian Historian John Blanden, this car one of 6 T41’s built for F2 racing in 1956. Chassis F2-2-56 fitted with a 1.5 litre SOHC Coventry Climax FWB engine was raced with some success by Ken Wharton before being shipped to Australia together with his Ferrari 750 Monza and Maserati 250F for the ‘Olympic Grand Prix’ meeting at Albert Park in 1956.

It was later taken to NZ for the 1957 GP meeting at Ardmore, near Auckland where Wharton was tragically killed in the sports car support event when his Monza rolled.

The car returned to the UK and was acquired from The Wharton Estate by roving Aussie engineer/racer Paul England on a racing holiday. He contested F2 events at Snetterton and Mallory Park as well as the 1957 German GP at the Nurburgring.

paul england nurburgring 1957

Paul England contesting the 1957 German GP, Nurburgring in the Cooper T41. DNF. England was a Repco trained engineer, builder of the ‘Ausca’ a fabulous Holden engined sports car special in which he had a circuit racing career ending accident at Phillip Island. He later formed a very successful engineering business, won multiple Australian Hillclimb Championships in self built cars and entered cars for, and assisted drivers such as Larry Perkins. (Unattributed)

At the end of the 1957 season the car was bought by Aussie Miller who was also visiting Europe. The Cooper came into Australia in bits along with various aircraft parts, Miller an agricultural pilot…as in a very good crop-dusting pilot! A Lotus 12 was also imported in bits for Ern Tadgell, the cars taking on the names ‘Miller Special’ and ‘Sabakat’ in the best traditions of motor racing thereby avoiding the ‘fiscal fiends’ punitive import taxes otherwise applicable to imported racing cars…

The Miller Spl first raced in Australia at Phillip Island in 1958, Aussie competed in circuit racing, sprints and hillclimbs achieving class firsts in the Victorian Road Racing Championships and Victorian Trophy.

Austin then progressed to an ex-Stan Jones Cooper T51 Climax, the T41 then passed through many hands and I believe is still in Australia.

Miller fitted a Chev V8 to the Cooper T51 and set an Australian Land Speed Record, that is another vastly interesting story about this amazing racing character, driver, publican and pilot…

miller spl albert park

Aussie Miller kissing the kerb in the ‘Miller Spl’ Cooper T41, Albert Park, November 1958. (Guy Miller)

Credits…

‘History of Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Guy Miller

Fernando Minoia, Bugatti T35C 1929 Targa

Evocative period shot of Fernando Minoia’s second placegetting 1929 Targa Florio pitstop…

Albert Divo won the endurance classic that year run over the ‘Circuito Polizzi’, the event comprising 5 laps of the 108Km course, 540Km in total.

Divo and Minoia both drove Bugatti Type 35s’, the T35C. T35 is surely the most successful production racing car ever built? Third place went to Gastone Brilli-Peri in an Alfa 6C 1750 SS.

I am unsure on the photo’s location if one of you happens to know? The more you look the more you see…

Minoia 2

bug 35c

Castrol Targa '29 ad

Photos unattributed

whitford 300s albert park 1958

(Ed Steet)

Bob Jane ahead of Doug Whiteford, both in ex-factory Maserati 300S, Victorian Tourist Trophy, 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix meeting at Albert Park…

Its Bill Pitt immediately behind Whiteford in a Jaguar D Type with Lou Molina in his Molina Monza Holden Repco on the inside. Whiteford and Pitt are lapping Jane and Molina, the latter pair scrapped for much of the race. I uploaded an article featuring the clever, technically interesting, Molina Monza the other day.

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/13/shifting-gear-design-innovation-and-the-australian-car-exhibition-national-gallery-of-victoria-by-stephen-dalton-mark-bisset/

On the 12th lap Whiteford took the lead from Pitt he was not to lose. On lap 26 Pitts’ D Type hit the haybales at Jaguar corner, pitting to clear the rear guard from a wheel. Ron Phillips took his Cooper Jag through to second. At the finish it was Whiteford from Phillips, Pitt, Derek Jolly in a Lotus 15 Climax and Bob Jane.

moss 300s 1956

Stirling Moss in Maserati 300S ‘3059’ during the 1956 AGP Meeting at Albert Park, in December. He won the sports car ‘TT’ race in the car. (Unattributed)

The Maserati team brought 5 cars to the 1956 Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park, 3 250F’s and 2 300S which were driven by Stirling Moss and Jean Behra, Moss won the AGP. At the end of the meeting the 300S’ were acquired by former AGP Winner, Doug Whiteford and Reg Smith, a Melbourne racer/motor dealer. Smith raced the car little and soon sold it to future Touring Car Champion, very successful businessman and Calder Circuit owner Bob Jane.

Bobs’ driving was ‘pretty rough and ready’ at this stage, fellow racer Reg Hunt was moved to shift his boat further into Albert Park Lake to keep it out of harms way…Jane quickly got the hang of the car and was competitive in it.

Whiteford bought the ex-Behra 300S #3055 which sort of made sense as an outright car as the AGP was run to Formula Libre at the time. A great ‘mighta been’ would have been Doug in a 250F taking on the other front runners at the time; Stan Jones, Reg Hunt, Lex Davison and Ted Gray in an equivalent car…’twas not to be sadly.

jane on the grid 300s fishermans bend 1958

(Kevin Drage)

Bob Jane pictured above and below in his ex-Moss 300S #3059 on his debut meeting in the car at Fishermans Bend, in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne, October 1958.

jane 300s fishermans bend 1958

(Kevin Drage)

Stirling Moss said of the 300S…’a decently prepared 300S had a chassis which was infinitely superior to any front engined sports Ferrari, one of the easiest, nicest, best balanced sports racing cars ever made’…

The 250F Grand Prix engine would not stretch to 3 litres, 2.8 litre variants of the 300S were built and were uncompetitive so Maserati built in essence a bigger version of the 250F engine, using the 250F head. 6 cylinders in line, 2992cc DOHC. The 2 valves per cylinder, 2 plugs per cylinder engine developed circa 280bhp @ 7000rpm. It was fed by 3 Weber carbs, initially 42 and later 45DCO3’s.

maser 300s engine

Janes’ Maser 300S engine, Fishermans Bend 1958. (Kevin Drage)

The gearbox was a ZF 4 speed.

The chassis was a ladder frame made with large diameter main tubes, front suspension by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units and a roll bar. A de Dion rear axle was used with a transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring and hydraulic shocks.

The first cars were built by Maserati, later assembly was outsourced to Gilberto Colombos’ specialist company, Gilco.

Steering was worm and sector, brakes huge finned alloy drums, wheels Borrani 5X16 inch wires, the aluminium bodies built by Fantuzzi. The car weighed circa 780Kg.

300s cutaway

26-28 cars were built between 1955-1958 depending upon the reference source…Whilst the cars were built in large numbers and were favourites of privateers they were not particularly successful at an International level, winning the 1956 Buenos Aires 1000Km and 1956 Nurburgring 1000Km.

When first built the 300S was outgunned by competitors with greater capacity and when the 3 litre limit was mandated for sports cars by the CSI in 1958 they were getting a little ‘long in the tooth’ compared with the Ferrari 250TR and Aston Martin DBR1.

They were very useful, competitive, relatively simple devices in places like Australia where the cars of Jane and particularly Whiteford were crowd drawcards from 1956 to 1963.

Bob Jane raced many mouth-watering cars over the decades, he is still alive and has retained many of them, including the 300S for decades after the end of its competitive life, it was sold some years ago.

300 s bathurst

Bob Jane Maserati 300S, Forrests Elbow, Bathurst October 1961. Our regs of the time encouraged GT cars and as a consequence cars such as the Maser became Coupes. (John Ellacott)

Australias ‘Appendix K’ or GT rules at the time mandated cars with ‘lids’, as a consequence Janes’ 300S grew this appendage, which is not too catastrophic in the context of some other efforts to comply with the rule change at the time. The Fantuzzi original is rather nicer all the same. When Janes’ team rebuilt the car in the mid-seventies it was restored, superbly to its original specs.

The car left Australia in the early 90’s, the current custodian appears to be Klaus Werner.

whiteford

Doug Whiteford has parked his ‘3055’ 300S after a major moment going up Mt Panorama, perhaps driveshaft failure, the dark blue lines on the road show his path. He has time to watch Bob Janes’ approach in ‘3059’. Bathurst October 1958. Bucolic Central Tablelands in the distance far below. (John Ellacott)

Photo Credits…

Ed Steet, Kevin Drage, John Ellacott

Finito…

front

brabham entry

As motoring enthusiasts we all have a favourite (or two) when it comes to the various pressed, beaten or moulded automotive art…

The Italians have had a long tradition of art worthy cars for many to aspire. So what happens when the Art World decides to pay homage to a predominately Australian automotive heritage? Well you get the National Gallery of Victoria’s ‘Shifting Gear – design, innovation and the Australian car’ exhibition.

The NGV’s ‘Ian Potter Centre’ in high profile Federation Square, opposite Melbourne’s famous Flinders St Train Station has gone all out to show a variety of Aussie ‘coachbuilders’ art from the roads and the race tracks, ‘a celebration of Australian Automobile design represented by 23 cars dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day’.

Despite there being a lot of red involved, not one has an Italian sounding car name and only one has bodywork with a close relationship to Maserati.

NGV Efijy

‘Efijy’ – Shifting Gear? Or Cape Canaveral we have lift off? Holden built ‘Efijy’ as a Motor Show concept 10 years ago – Corvette basis, 6 litre supercharged GM LS2 644bhp V8 & 4 speed auto with ’55 FJ Holden looks

Upon entering the precinct, Holden’s Efijy greets you. It’s long and oh so low stance ready for cruising along Carlton’s Lygon St.

Then an entry fee covers viewing the main exhibition halls with more than enough variety for all to come away with a favourite that wouldn’t look too out of place sitting in your garage or shed.

It was a tad rushed when primotipo visited, so give yourself at least an hour to pass through and enjoy.

efi front

efi back

Several of the cars have long standing Australian Motor Racing Heritage, so it’s interesting to see how the Art World perceives them. Certainly different to the bitumen they usually frequent! And indeed, substantially different to seeing them at the likes of Phillip Island or Sandown.

‘Shifting Gear’ runs until July 12 with more details here:- http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/shifting-gear/
All exhibits details – http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ShiftingGearLabels-web.pdf

And remember not to get told off by security for using a camera flash!

bt 19

A Unique arrangement that allowed some smart, capable Aussies to take on the world, Brabham BT19 Repco. Brabham and Tauranac based in the UK collaborated with Repco in Melbourne to gain a head start on the new 3 litre F1 Grand Prix rule changes for 1966. Jack and this Brabham successfully taking on the ill prepared other teams within the F1 paddocks and grabbed both Drivers’ & Constructors’ Titles in 1966 and 1967. (Denny Hulme grabbed the Drivers Title in 1967).

Regular readers will know we have covered the history of these achievements in some detail in previous posts; this one about the ‘RB620 series’ 1966 Championship winning engine…https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

and this one about Jacks’ 1966 Championship Year…https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

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And in the red corner we have Purvis Eureka, Paul England’s Ausca (mostly hidden), Elfin Streamliner Climax and Molina Monza Holden…

NGV Group red

Garrie Coopers’ Elfin concerns first production racing car was the Elfin Streamliner, like many other designers he took a long look at Chapmans’ Lotus 11 and was consistent with many elements of it in his own interpretation; multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, slinky, light aluminium body and a range of engine configurations to suit customer choice. The car on display is the ‘ducks guts’ with Coventry Climax FWA engine and front wishbone, as against split front axle setup.

Elfin built 23 of these cars from 1959 to 1963, Cooper setting the foundations for high standards of design and manufacture which were his hallmark and sustained commercial success.

elfin streamliner

tach

When Ausca met Eureka; Nice juxtaposition of the 70’s Wedge with the curvaceous 50’s. Not many cars have been built with full canopy door openings. But with the Purvis Eureka and Holden Hurricane this exhibition has two.

Allan Purvis, an advertising executive, obtained the rights to the English developed ‘Nova’ building over 650 cars in Melbournes’ Dandenong between 1973 and 1989 considerably improving the design as he went along. The car was based on VW Beetle chassis and mechanicals although Purvis built some cars with the Ford ‘Kent’ 1600 engine, a very ‘tunable lump’ with bits from Cosworth, Holbay and the like.

Despite its Maserati A6GCS looks, the Paul England-built Ausca has links to Repco and Holden too. A gifted engineer, the Ausca remains fitting testament to Paul’s skills of 60 years ago. He passed away last year

ausca and purvis

Paul England and his friend Bill Hickey built the Ausca in their spare time at Repco Research in Sydney Road, Brunswick the clever, light car having a ladder frame chassis, a fibre glass body, the pair making the moulds. Holden front suspension was used, England narrowing the track by cutting 6 inches out of the middle of the cross-member and a Holden rear axle casing also shortened by 3 inches, suspended by quarter elliptic springs, radius rods doing locational duties.

Steering was by Peugeot rack and pinion, Repco subsidiary Patons provided the drum brakes the car powered by the very first ‘Repco Hi-Power’ cross-flow head for the ubiquitous Holden ‘Grey Motor,  the engine good for around 115bhp @5000 rpm using 2 1 3/4in SU carbs 1956. Gearbox was a Fiat 521 using straight cut gears, the car first raced late in 1955.

ausca 1

ausca 2

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chamber2

The Chamberlain 8 is about the wildest Australian Special of all and deserving of an article in its own right…

Chamberlains’ as a family had a rich engineering heritage, originally manufacturing ball bearings and later tractors so Bob Chamberlain and his friend Bob Price had access to the toolroom and factory facilities to build their outrageously innovative space frame chassis, independently sprung, front wheel drive car.

First completed in 1928, the car evolved over the decades. After a succession of unreliable motor cycle engines Bill Chamberlain decided to build an engine himself. The result was a 1004cc 2 stroke with 4 cylinders and 8 pistons, two crankshafts and a Rootes type blower. Its scream was its hallmark @ 7000rpm, at a sedate 5000rpm it developed 80bhp.

chamber 1

The Chamberlain competed in 3 AGP’s at Phillip Island in the 1930’s coming into its own post war when one of the Chamberlain’s cousins, Jim Hawker built his own spark plugs and improved its electrical system.

The car never left the families hands and was restored for the 1978 Phillip Island 50 Year AGP Anniversary, its now owned by John Hazelden after the brothers deaths some years back. He is the lucky custodian of a very important part of our history.

chamb 3

Checkout this YouTube footage of the Chamberlain 8 Sound…

 

cham drawings

ian potter

NGV GTRX

One off, Torana GTR-X concept was still a fair way away from Holden’s 1969/70 production vehicles. As with most concept cars the economics didn’t stack up to sign off for production. It would have been part of a niche market catered by the likes of Datsun’s 240Z and even the Bolwell Nagari shown below.

A stunning car with bullet proof, race proven ‘186’ CID, pushrod OHV, triple Stromberg carbed 160bhp 6 cylinder engine hitting the road through a 4 speed close ratio gearbox…it should have been built and exported.

Alas, a great Aussie ‘what if’

gtrx donk

gtrx front

toranan butt

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Melbournes’ Art Centre spire, aspect across the Yarra River from the NGV ‘Ian Potter Centre’ in Federation Square…gloomy Autumn day

Hard to believe that the catalyst of Maybach was some war-surplus materials and some Aussie ingenuity…To save repeating ourself visit this prior feature… https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

NGV Maybach

atmo 3

The FR1 Concept Car is a 2011 collaboration between GM Holden Design, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing, Boeing, the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce and Marand Precision Engineering Collection.

The car is a 21st century concept hotrod, hand crafted and powered by a 362bhp Chev V8 and 6 speed manual ‘box.

fr1

50 heads and mm

Repco Brabham ‘RB 750 Series’ V8…

Repco were a very innovative company, this is the engine developed as an option for the 1968 season and whilst developing good power on the test bench the difficulties of fitting the engine into Ron Tauranacs’ spaceframe chassis Brabhams’ or any other car for that matter are immediately apparent given the ‘spiders web’ of exhausts to be accommodated.

Developments of Repco’s ’30 Series’ heads showed there was a power advantage with cross flow gas paths, the ‘radial layout’ ’50 Series’ heads were aimed at exploiting that.

DOHC were used per bank, each one driving inlet and exhaust valves alternately. The valves were side by side in each half of a pent roofed combustion chamber. This layout allowed very simple valve operation compared with the BMW Apfelbeck ‘radial’ heads of the time. Doug Nye..’ On the Repco test heads exhaust stubs appeared within the Vee as a bunch of 8 small bore pipes, while 4 more appeared below the heads outside the Vee on either side. 8 induction trumpets fought for space within the Vee, and 4 more appeared on each side’.

One test engine was built up and the results were ‘encouraging’ but it was a blind alley because of installation problems…So the ‘Type 50′ heads were shelved and the more conventional ’60 series’ DOHC 4 valve heads used in 1968.

19 and 59 heads

The ‘750 Series Radial Valve’ engine beside Jack Brabhams Brabham BT19 Repco and its simple RB ‘620 Series’ SOHC 2 valve 3 litre, 310 bhp 1966 Championship Winning V8 Engine

repco

Pictures on the wall…Repco’s 3 litre F1 engines L>R ’68 ‘860 Series’ DOHC 4 valve, ’67 ‘740 Series’ SOHC 2 valve ‘exhaust between the Vee’ and obscured workshop shot showing the assembly of the ’66 ‘620 Series’ SOHC 2 valve cross flow…

43 years on and the Bolwell Nagari still has it. Good looks and performance to match…

NGV Bolwell

When i was 13 i drooled endlessly over the Bolwell Nagari, it really was ‘as good as it got’ in Australia. Home grown in dowdy Mordialloc but with Italian looks; the Chapman inspired backbone chassis a lightweight platform for the fibre-glass body and core Ford componentry; ‘302’ Windsor 5 litre V8, 4 speed ‘box and rear axle, live axle but very well located.

The Coupe version was even sexier than the ‘Spider’, Campbell Bolwell and his brothers were masters of the kit and low volume art…very tricky in a small market like Oz at a time the legislators made life hard for small players.

I still have the brochure i mailed away for in 1971…

Nagari_Brochure_Front

Nagari_Brochure_Last

mmm cockpit

Molina Monza Holden Special…

In many ways the MM is the most powerful and beautiful of Australias’ Holden engined specials.

Concepted by Lou Molina, much loved member of Melbournes’ ‘Spaghetti Mafia’ who brought fine Italian cuisine to Melbourne between the wars and Silvio Massola, the car was designed and built by Brian Burnett, who by 1955, had the Maybach bodies in his cv. The car had a ladder frame chassis, an aluminium body that was derivative of many influences but wonderfully distinctive with it.

Motive power was the Holden ‘Grey motor’ with Repco Highpower head but also fitted with a Marshall blower fed by a big SU 2 3/16th ins. carb, 199bhp @ 6000rpm the result. Drive was transmitted by a dual plate clutch to a Jag ‘box and then by a short drive shaft to a de Dion rear end utilising Ford components. Front suspension is of planar type using a transverse spring to locate steering knuckles at the top, with wishbones below. Telescopic shocks are used front and rear. Steering is by Citroen rack and pinion, brakes drum using HWM Jag components at the front.

MM made its competition debut at Rob Roy in Melbournes’ Christmas Hills on May 5 1957 and was very successful in Molinas hands against much more exotic cars before slowly passing into obscurity before being superbly restored not so many years ago by Gavin and Bryan Sala.

It is a truly fabulous device.

NGV MM

mm

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monza wheel

The Holden Hurricane design study is about as far removed to their Holden production cars could ever be…

It was of course the era of low slung, mid-engined sporties such as the Ford GT40, De Tomaso Mangusta, Lamborghini Miura and even Lotus Europa. So Holden decided to give it a crack. One way to get the new ‘253’ CID Holden V8 noticed

NGV Hurricane

The car made its Melbourne Motor Show debut in 1969 and has a box section steel frame clothed in fibre glass panels. Wishbones, coil springs and dampers were used at the front, rear suspension uses swing axles, trailing arms and coil springs. The 4.2 litre pushrod OHV V8 produced 260bhp @ 6000rpm, the car uses a 4 speed manual ‘box and disc brakes on all corners. Height is 39.2 inches.

hurri

‘Hey Charger!’ the Ad Tag Line said in 1972…

The triple 45 DCOE Weber-fed Chrysler Valiant Charger’s played second fiddle to GTs and XU1s for too many years. But not anymore, they have a strong following and their values have increased substantially.

265 CID, in line OHV 6 cylinder engine, ‘E39’ 3 speed and ‘E49’ 4 speed ‘boxes. Never really developed as racers as Fords GTHO’s or Holdens XU-1’s but mighty competitive all the same.

NGV Charger

Credits…

Doug Nye ‘Profile Publications Brabham Repco’

‘Shifting Gear’ NG Victoria

Photos by the authors