Archive for June, 2015

charger 1

(Robert Davies)

John McCormack wrestles his big, powerful but relatively nimble Valiant Charger Repco around the tight Calder, Melbourne confines in 1974…

Robert Davies shots have inspired two other articles, this is the third about a car which set a new paradigm in local Oz Sports Sedan racing in the mid-seventies.

In 1970 Touring Car Racing in Australia comprised ‘Series Production’ for essentially standard cars, contesting the Bathurst 500 and the like. ‘Improved Touring’ were more highly modified cars, the Australian Touring Car Championship was run to these regs, and ‘Sports Racing Closed’ or ‘Sports Sedans’ was an ‘anything goes’ type of category.

Sports Sedans were often the province of the more impecunious, owner driver, engineering types who created some incredibly quick Minis, Holdens of all descriptions and the occasional bit of ‘heavy metal’ V8’s from Oz or the US.


The Spirit of Sports Sedans in 1971; full spectator mounds, here at Sydney’s Oran Park. Bruce Taylor’s ex-Sharp Jag Mk2 Ford V8 ahead of Barry Seton’s ‘LC’ Holden Torana GTR XU1- old and new. (Vic Hughes)

Australian race fans liked Sedans, they were easier to understand and more spectacular to watch than most open-wheelers and the punters could relate to cars they either drove or saw on the road.

Other than during the Tasman Series, in most years our domestic single seater championship, the prestigious ‘Gold Star’ fields were thinnish. Scarce sponsorship dollars progressively found its way to Touring Cars fanning the open wheeler problem. Promoters were keen to give spectators what they wanted to fill their venues, and so, over time the dominance of Touring Cars in Australia occurred. And continues today. Sadly for open-wheeler nutters like me.

Castrol, for example, sponsors of Bob Jane Racing, one of our bigger teams encouraged Jane to get out of racers and more into touring cars in 1971. The Brabham and Bowin single seaters and McLaren sporty were progressively put to one side, replaced by a Holden Monaro Improved Tourer and Holden Torana Repco V8 Sports Sedan.


Bob Jane’s Holden Torana ‘LC’ GTR XU1 Repco. Hume Weir, Boxing Day 1971. John Sheppard built and prepared superb cars, this is one of his best, its first iteration here was not that highly modified, engine and Borg Warner ‘box excepted. Phase 2 in its life was when Frank Gardner returned to Oz and raced the car for Jane in 1975; an F5000 Chev replaced the Repco, the suspension also modified substantially in addition to the car being lightened considerably. Jane reputedly said to Gardner when he saw it ‘What have you done to my beautiful car…?’. Car still exists. (Dick Simpson)

There had been other ‘clever’ Sports Sedans, Harry Lefoe’s Hillman Imp Ford V8, an example but Bob Jane’s John Sheppard built Torana, which married a lightweight but still fully trimmed LC Torana with the Repco 4.4 Litre ‘620 Series’ V8 Bob had sitting in his Brunswick Race HQ took things to another level.

The alloy Repco developed 400 bhp but at 360 pounds weighed less than the cast iron 3 litre ‘186cid’ straight 6 fitted to the car in production form. Bob and John Harvey won many races in this car.

The ‘professionalisation’ of Sports Sedans was underway.


Harry Lefoe in his Hillman Imp Ford at Hume Weir, Albury, NSW on Boxing Day 1971, Dick Simpson took this shot and the one above of Bob Jane in the same race. Car had a 450bhp plus Ford ‘Windsor’ shoved in the back seat, Lefoe had balls of steel to drive the thing, twas usually sideways, considerably so! Its life ended with a big accident at Sandown in the late 70’s. Extremely short wheelbase clear, big wing, engine put out slightly more power and was slightly heavier than the 1 litre alloy standard engine…(Dick Simpson)

Another trend setting Sports Sedan was the Valiant Charger Repco built by Elfin and John McCormack’s team in 1973. Macs background is covered in the article about his McLaren M23 I wrote 12 months ago, you can read it here, I won’t repeat it.

John was an open-wheeler man, he won the Gold Star in 1973 in his Elfin MR5 Repco F5000, but he was also a professional driver who needed to chase dollars. Oran Park promoter Allan Horsley agreed appearance money with McCormack if he ran a Sports Sedan in his ‘Toby Lee (shirts) Series’ in 1974, that was the impetus McCormack needed.

McCormack and Elfin boss Garrie Cooper (who ran 2 Elfin MR5 F5000 cars as Ansett Team Elfin in the Gold Star and Tasman Series at the time) toyed with the idea of a mid-engined Chev Corvair but commercially a deal with Chrysler made more sense.

In those far away days Ford, GM (Holden), Chrysler (Valiant) and British Motor Corporation all made cars in Australia, with others VW included assembling them here. Now only Ford, Holden and Toyota (who changed from assembly to construction of their cars progressively after 1970) remain but have announced plans to withdraw as manufacturers.

The economic and social policy as well as wider societal implications of this are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say the death of the Automotive Industry in Australia is sad, wrong and was avoidable with a mix of better management, cooperation from the global headquarters of Ford, GM and Toyota and politicians who are not fuckwits. An oxymoron i grant you.

mc cormack

McCormack during his NZ Tour with the Charger in 1975, circuit unknown. Beautifully proportioned racing car, the external appearance matched the unseen clever and well executed engineering. Elfin 10 inch wide wheels, that width mandated then, not much to put 495 energetic ponies to the road. But spectacular! (The Roaring Season)

Elfin were based in Edwardstown, a southern Adelaide suburb, the Valiant factory was at Tonsley Park, not so far down the road. Valiant lost the promotional value of motor racing when they ceased building and racing their performance ‘Chargers’ and were receptive to the idea of a Sports Sedan Charger to go some way to matching Ford and GM who were still actively involved in racing and exploiting its promotional benefits in the competitive local market.

In one day McCormack and Ansett Elfin’s John Lanyon negotiated a deal which gave them cash, a truck to transport the racer, support and a Charger which made its debut after much surgery and modification in early 1974.

Cooper’s Conmurra Avenue shop was ‘chockers’ building Elfins so McCormack set up a workshop just around the corner in Coongie Road where the Charger was built. He took two Elfin employees in the process, Dale Koenneke and Harry Aust which did not go down well with Cooper, way too decent a man to be mixed up in professional motor racing…

The Charger was the result of the design ideas of McCormack and Cooper but was always Macs project, Garries priorities were production racing cars and his own racing program which was always fitted in around his customers needs. Elfin built 11 cars in 1973, 14 in 1974, a lot from the small facility.

McCormack and his team ran and prepared the car with the income derived going to Mac, but Ansett and Ansett Team Elfin received the promotional value of winning races in a growing part of the sport.

charger 2

Rare cockpit shot of the McCormack Charger. Clearly cylinder head or valve gear problems during this Calder meeting in 1974. Mid-mounted Repco F5000 engine sans Lucas injection in this shot. Standard Valiant style steering wheel and column a nod to the donor car. Smiths chronometric tach, instruments and Hewland DG300 ‘box, the alloy case of which you can see aft of the engine all ‘standard F5000’ kit. RH gearchange outta sight, the pedal box was off the Elfin shelf as well, Mac felt right at home. (Robert Davies)

The trend setting bit referred to above was the decision to use as many F5000 bits as possible and to locate the 495 BHP Repco Holden F5000 engine amidships beside the driver, the car was in essence mid-engined albeit the engine was in front of the centre-line of the car rather than to its rear.

The car was completely gutted of all interior trim and surplus metal, an integral roll cage designed by Cooper adding considerable torsional rigidity to the standard sheet metal shell.

Elfin uprights and wheels were used front and rear, upper and lower wishbone’s and coil spring damper units were used at the front and single top link, twin parallel lower links, coil spring dampers, radius rods providing fore and aft location at the rear. Roll bars were of course adjustable. An Elfin steering rack was used as were Lockheed brake calipers.

The transmission was standard F5000 issue, a 5 speed Hewland DG300 transaxle, located aft of the engine. There were two though, the front one contained the gears and the rear DG300 case the differential. Mac placed the gearchange lever to the right of the very low mounted drivers seat so he would feel pretty much at home, the driving position akin to the single-seaters from whence he came.

repco F5000

Phil Irving’s adaptation of General Motors’ Holdens then new ‘308’ V8 as an F5000 engine in 1970 created a very effective racing engine. Lucas fuel injection was one of the few non-Repco manufactured parts. 495bhp@7500 rpm is the quoted figure but the few flat-plane crank engines of 1973/4 produced closer to 525. It didn’t matter, the engine had greater mid-range punch than most Chevs, the blend of power/torque won it championships. (Repco)

The Charger had its first race at Adelaide International in early 1974, the Elfin MR6 Leyland F5000 made its debut on the same day, by the end of it the Chrysler executives present were far happier than the Leyland guys, the race variant of that engine always somewhat of a ‘hand grenade’ as covered in the McLaren article referred to above…the Charger cantered away and won its races.

The intelligent beast was immediately successful, Mac getting $2500 appearance money each time he ran in the ‘Toby Lee Series’ at Oran Park and carted away a good share of the prize money in 1974, he won the series from Jim McKeown’s Porsche and Frank Ure’s Holden Torana V8.

The car was also raced around the country with similar success.

He raced the car into 1975 selling it eventually to Tony Edmonson who was also successful in it.

McCormack re-focussed on single seaters with his ultimately successful McLaren M23 Leyland program and was just coming back into sports sedans, having built a Jaguar XJS at the time of the untimely road accident in which he was a passenger, ended his racing career.

Their were many very clever Sports Sedans which followed the McCormack/Cooper Charger but arguably it was the first…


Bryan Thomson VW Fastback being chased by John McCormack’ Charger at Sandown’s, you guessed it, Torana Corner in November 1974. They are about to unleash 500’ish Chev and Repco Holden horses up Sandowns’ long back straight. Great circuit for these cars. Two clever cars from 1974; both F5000 based, both ‘mid-engined’ the VW at the mid-rear and Charger in the mid-front. (Paul Van Den Akker)


Frank Gardner got around to building a Chev Corvair, the car well engineered (see etcetera below) as you would expect and largely built around Lola F5000 componentry. He essentially ‘killed the category’ such was the dominance of the car until the regs were changed to effectively ban it (the Corvairs engine and gearbox in standard form, were located Porsche 911 style, with the engine behind the gearbox, the legislators would allow a Corvair to race in that format but not the layout Gardner had with the classic ‘box behind the engine layout).


Frank Gardner in the Chev Corvair ahead of Red Dawson’s Chev Monza, Bay Park, NZ 1976. (The Roaring Season)



Other ‘Class of ’74 Cars’; Bryan Thomson’s ‘Volksrolet’ was a marriage of VW Fastback and an ex-Hamilton/Brown McLaren M10B F5000, but it never worked as well as Frank Gardner’s Corvair variation on the same theme despite the prowess of Thommo and his engineer Peter Fowler. But a massive crowd-pleaser. Behind is Peter Brock in the Holden Dealer Teams ‘Beast’. From memory an ex-rallycross LC Torana chassis into which was shoehorned a Repco Holden F5000 engine mated to a Borg Warner T10 ‘box. Ok in ’73 but the game had moved on by 1974, let alone the cars to come. Sandown Park November 1974. (Robert Davies)


Baskerville, Tasmania 1975. McCormack ahead of Jim Richard’s Kiwi built, old tech but superbly driven Ford Mustang 351 and Allan Moffat’s Ford RS3100 ‘Cologne Capri’. Moffat won the Australian Sports Sedan Championship in 1976 using this car and a Chev Monza. ( Stephens)


Frank Gardner’s Corvair as raced by Allan Grice after Gardner stepped outta the driving seat. Circa 1977. Nose of Grice’ Group A Commodore to the right. FG raised the Sports Sedan bar  again with the Corvair, the bottom shot clearly shows the car for what it was conceptually; a Lola T332 F5000 albeit with a spaceframe chassis and a roof! Brilliant device, even the 6 litre cars couldn’t keep up with it, put its power down so well. (The Nostalgia Forum)

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

‘Australia’s Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, ‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston

Robert Davies, Dick Simpson, Vic Hughes, Dick Simpson, Paul Van Den Akker, The Roaring Season, The Nostalgia Forum, Stephens, Bruce Keys

Tailpiece: McCormack, Charger Repco Holden, Calder, December 1974…

(B Keys)


lauda mclaren mp4 cockpit

Niki Lauda at rest and awaiting qualifying set-up tweaks, staying ahead of ‘Frenchy’ Alain Prost the challenge of the year…

Experience, cunning, speed and consistency won him his third and final title with McLaren in 1984 but Alain prevailed in 1985, Nikis’ last season of racing and Prosts’ first title.

Click on this link for an interesting, short visual comparison of the evolution of McLaren steering wheels down the decades, as good as any an indicator of ‘progess’!

mclaren mp4 2 cutaway

1984 McLaren MP4/2 Porsche: carbon fibre honeycomb chassis, double wishbones and pushrod suspension front and rear, carbon fibre brakes, 540Kg. TAG/Porsche 1499cc DOHC twin turbo V6, circa 750bhp in ’84 spec. McLaren/Hewland FGB 5 speed transaxle


Repco Record NZ

The one and only ‘Repco Record’ in surreal surroundings, the Wairakei geothermal field near Taupo in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island in 1959…

After the end of Maybach’s useful life, the racing brainchild of Charlie Dean well covered in my article on Stan Jones, the talented Repco Engineer looked for a new project.

Dean, Head of Repco Research, the large transnationals ‘Skunkworks’ turned his attention to the creation of a road car which would form a test bed for the companies products, a promotional tool and an expression of Repco’s innovative capabilities.

Dean recruited Tom Molnar (Chief Engineer of Patons Brakes) and Wally Hill (Repco Research) to assist with development of the car; Molnar with its engineering and brakes, Hill built the body with some assistance from Bob Baker to Deans design, a process completed in Dean’s spare time at his Kew, Melbourne kitchen table!

The cars construction took 4 years, the yellow coupe made its debut at the 1959 Melbourne Motor Show, where it was ‘The Starlet’ painted a distinctive shade of yellow.


The ‘Repco Experimental Car’ as it was then unimaginatively called was a mobile test bed designed to trial the groups products, but that didn’t stop contemporary reports speculating about series production. In the context of its time it was a highly specified, comfortable high speed car of potentially modest cost using largely production based components.

When originally built it was fitted with a Ford Zephyr engine with a Raymond Mays cylinder head Dean bought to fit to his company car, and an MG TC gearbox. A Holden engine was slotted in when the Repco ‘Hi-Power’ head was developed, a David Brown Aston Martin ‘box replaced the MG unit at the same time.

‘Sports Car Worlds’ Peter Costigan tested the Record with Dean on board and raved about its comfort, performance, roadholding and handling. Less impressive was the David Brown ‘box and brakes which faded after repeated high speed applications. The car cruised comfortably at 100mph with a top speed of 120 mph, the Repco modded Holden engine in ‘touring tune’. Heavier shocks, improved brakes and an oil cooler were suggested improvements.

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Repco shot with the car posed in front of Repco Research’ new home in Dandenong, Victoria. Late 50’s. (Repco/From Maybach to Holden)

The pretty Coupe was used during the filming of ‘On The Beach’, a Hollywood movie shot in Australia featuring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire during 1959.The film was based on a novel by British/Australian author Nevil Shute.

The car was one of several used in the productions racing scenes filmed at Phillip Island. It was during breaks in filming that SCW magazine drove the car, it was about this time someone dubbed the car ‘Repco Record’ a name never officially endorsed by Repco but an appellation which stuck!

Repco SCW 03

Repco ‘Hi-Power’ headed Holden ‘Grey Motor’ 2.3 litre OHV 6 cylinder, cross-flow engine fed by 2 Weber carbs. Circa 133 bhp with a ‘cooking cam’ and extractors. (SCW Magazine)

After testing of various Repco subsidiary components and the changing of the cars livery and especially rear window treatment the Record was sold after a few years into private hands, it is still in Australia, last sold several years ago and pops up occasionally at historic events.

Repco Record 2014 PI

Contemporary shot of the Repco Record at Phillip Island in 2014, changed frontal treatment not for the better. (Stephen Dalton)


The Record used the then contemporary (1948-1962) Holden 6 cylinder ‘Grey Motor’ bored to 2360cc. It featured a cast iron block, 4 bearing crank fitted with Repco Hi-Power crossflow, OHV semi-hemispherical cylinder head, 2 Weber 36 DCLD7 downdraught carburettors. On a compression ratio of 8.7:1. the engine developed circa 133bhp@5500 rpm and 141lbs/ft of torque@4000 RPM. For more on the Repco Hi-Power head see the separate section below.

The chassis was of integral construction with a tubular backbone, the steel body was welded to the frame to provide stiffness.

Suspension comprised modified Holden components; wishbones, coil springs and telescopic dampers at the front. At the rear a Holden live axle, quarter elliptic leaf springs and telescopic dampers was used. Rear axle was ENV spiral bevel, its ratio 3.66:1, Gearbox was a David Brown 4 speed manual with synchromesh.

Brakes were hydraulic drums front and rear with a Repco PBR booster, Steering by recirculating ball. Tyres: 6.40-13 on steel wheels

Fuel Capacity: 42 litres (9.5 gal) Height: 1320 mm (52 in) Length: 3810 mm (150 in) Weight: 1018 kg (2240 lbs) Wheel Base: 2286 mm (90 in)

Max. Speed: 120 m.p.h. (1st gear: 48 m.p.h., 2nd gear: 66 m.p.h., 3rd gear: 98 m.p.h., 4th gear: 120 m.p.h.) Acceleration: 0-60 m.p.h. in 10.5 secs. 0-100 m.p.h. in 21.2 secs. Standing quarter mile: 17.2 secs.

Repco AMS annual advert

Repco Record contemporary press ad. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

repco high power

Repco Hi-Power headed Holden engine complete with optional aluminium rocker cover. Engine variously named ‘HighPower’ ‘Hypower’ and ‘Hi-Power’ the latter the name it was finally marketed as…notwithstanding the name on the rocker cover! (Maybach to Holden)

Repco Hi-Power Head…

All countries have production car engines which, with tuning provide a staple for road going sedans, racing or sportscars, sometimes all three!

The BMC ‘A and B Series’, Ford 105E through Kent engines, the small block Chev and Ford V8’s and more recently Ford Zetec and Toyota 4AGE engines spring to mind. In Australia the Holden ‘Grey’ and ‘Red’ 6 cylinder engines were the tuners weapon of choice for 2 decades starting in the early ’50’s.

Repco were active in racing throughout this period, largely starting with the efforts of Charlie Dean and his Repco Research colleagues based in their Sydney Road, Brunswick, inner Melbourne base.

Phil Irving of Vincent and Repco Brabham RB620 Engine fame, his exploits well covered in the articles I have written about the 1966 World Championship wins by Brabham and Repco, designed the ‘Hi-Power’ cylinder head to meet market needs and exploit the knowledge Repco had gained about improving the performance of Holden’s 2200cc, 6 cylinder, iron, 4 bearing, OHV engine which in standard tune gave, according to Irving, a claimed and real 62 BHP at 4000 rpm. Click here for an article about Irving’s 1966 F1 Championship Winning Repco engine;


Contemporary ‘horsepower press’ ad from ‘Wheels’ magazine July 1962 edition. (Wheels)

Irving, a noted author himself wrote about the Repco head in Barry Lake’s late, lamented and sadly shortlived ‘Cars and Drivers’ magazine in 1977, this piece is based on Irving’s article, the quotes are just that…

Irving’s simple proposal to Dean was to design a head which would increase the engines power, Dean agreed on the basis that the design be interchangeable with the original head, inexpensive and simple enough to be machined with little or no special equipment. In effect this precluded the head being made of aluminium so cast iron it was.

‘The valves were arranged in two rows with the 1.375 inch exhaust valves vertical and on the near side, while the inlets were inclined at 25 degrees on the opposite side, their heads being 1.56 inches in diameter’.

‘The 6 circular exhaust ports were short and direct, while the rectangular shaped inlets were arranged in two groups of 3, springing from the 2 galleries, these formed partly in the head and partly in the manifolds. The manifolds were simple open sided castings, made in several types to suit vertical or horizontal carburettors’.

The pressed steel side plates were replaced by an aluminium plate. ‘This feature enabled the head to be widened to give room for desirably long inlet ports and inclined rockers which oscillated on a hollow bar… Another bar carried the exhaust rockers, both bars mounted to pedestals integral to the head and thus free from flexure under load.’

Cost pressures meant the rockers were made of nodular iron, hardened locally and proved failure free.

Most of the development work was done by Repco subsidiaries; Warren and Brown the patterns, Russell foundry the head castings, Brenco the heavy milling and Repco Research the final machining.

‘There was no fancy work done on the ports, the first head was slapped on an FE Holden engine that was fired up in the middle of the night…after playing about with jet sizes and ignition settings we obtained 85bhp with a single Holden carburettor on a mocked up manifold’

‘The compression ratio was only 7.5:1 to suit the 90 octane fuel of the day which most people today (1977 at the time of writing) wouldn’t even put in their lawn mowers!’

‘It was an encouraging start with 100bhp, it was enough to push a road car along at over the ton…but more was needed for serious racing…which wasn’t difficult to get by changing camshafts, raising the compression ratio and boring .125 oversize…with each carburettor supplying 3 cylinders it was discovered the induction system came into resonance at around 4000rpm’.

irving and england

Ropey shot of Phil Irving and Paul England, ‘Racers’ in thought word and deed both! They are fettling the first Hi-Power head on the Russell Manufacturing Co dyno, Richmond, Melbourne. This was the same cell in which the first RB620 F1/Tasman engine burst into life in 1965. This first head was fitted to England’s Ausca sportscar, the car very successful, a car i must write about. (P Irving/Cars and Drivers magazine)

The bolt on kit was priced at £150, a fully rebuilt engine with camshafts and carburettors of the clients choice was £450. ‘The most popular choice was the 140bhp version with 2 double choke progressive Weber down-draft carburettors which gave a road speed (in a Holden sedan with three ‘on the tree’ speed gearbox) of 114mph’.

‘The harmonic balancer was the weak link with bad, critical oscillations at 6200rpm…crankshafts were prone to break if run consistently near 6200rpm…’

103 heads were made most going into road cars or speed boats ‘In a couple of seasons Hi-Power heads just about dominated sedan racing with drivers like John French, the Geoghegans, Stan Jones, Bob Holden and Ray Long on top of the pile’. Lou Molina fitted one to his MM Sportscar, (later supercharging the engine), Tom Hawkes to his Cooper in place of the Bristol original for a while holding the Phillip Island lap record together with Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625.

‘General Motors failed to evince any interest in our design which would have kept them ahead of the game for years…The end of the engine was hastened by the advent of big V8’s…and by a change in (racing) regulations which prohibited replacing the heads on production cars’.

hi power engine design

Phil Irving’s drawing of a cross section of his Repco Hi-Power head, his notes self explanatory. (P Irving/Cars and Drivers magazine)


record 2

The Record worked hard as test bench, promotional tool and ‘function starlet’, here at such a function. The controversial and ever evolving rear fin is well shown in this shot. In the context of its time, an attractive car, front on view arguably its best angle? (Repco/From Maybach to Holden)

hi power ad

repco record

‘Repco Record’ at the Phillip Island Classic in 2008. Front treatment has changed along the way, not for the better! (Dick Willis)

repco price list

Repco Hi-Power head and related parts price list 1956. (From Maybach to Holden)


Stephen Dalton and his collection for the provision of ‘Sports Car World’ March 1960, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ May 1959 and ‘Modern Motor’ January 1960 as reference sources, Dick Willis, ‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, ‘Cars and Drivers’ Magazine Number 2 1977 Phil Irving Repco Hi-Power head article, Don Halpin Collection


(D Halpin Collection)

Love this shot of Phil Irving and Charlie Dean trying to keep a straight face during a Repco promotional shoot to promote their new head. FE Holden, lovely head, extractors and twin-Strombergs clearly visible.



Alfa Romeo publicity shot of Prince Albert and Princess Paola, Belgian Royals at Balocco, Alfa’s test circuit. The Prince is about to test the ultimately very successful Tipo 33, here in ‘Mugello Spyder’ 2 litre 1967 form…

Thanks to Claudy Schmitz for identifying both the Royal Couple and Balocco as the correct venue, the power of Facebook! Whilst the Princess was born of Italian Royal blood it would be interesting to know the circumstances of this ‘test’ drive, the car definitely too small for their family of five!

Alfa’s first mid-engined racer made its competition debut at the Fleron Hillclimb in Belgium on 12 March 1967, factory test pilot Teodoro Zeccoli took a win from some stiff competition.


Zeccoli at the Belgian Fleron Hillclimb upon the T33 ‘Periscopica’ debut meeting. Alfa 2600 Berlina behind. Fleron is in the Province of Liege, location appears very industrial, power station in the background. (Unattributed)

The 33 made its race debut at Sebring that summer on the weekend of 1 April. Andrea De Adamich led the 12 Hour event’s first lap but both cars entered retired with suspension and overheating dramas.

Here are some shots of the cars in the Sebring paddock; #65 is DeAdamich/Zeccoli, #66 Roberto Businello/Nanni Galli. The race was won by the factory Ford Mk4 of Bruce McLaren and Mario Andretti.

I covered the 1967 Endurance Season in some detail in an article i wrote a while back about Ferrari P4/CanAm350 ‘0858’ which may be of interest to some of you;

33 1

(Paolo Devodier)


33 2

The more you look the more you see, Sebring. DeAdamich/Zeccoli T33. Engine, 2 coils, behind the engine the circular vertical ducts which take cool air to the inboard discs when the body is lowered into position. Rear chassis diaphragm and coil spring/dampers, inboard Girling discs, oil tank to left of 6 speed Alfa ‘box, battery to its right. Build quality clear. (Paolo Devodier)


33 3

Those beautiful Alfa mag alloy wheels, filler for centrally located fuel tanks, spare had to be carried under the regs of the time, front of cast magnesium chassis extension houses front mounted radiator. You can just see the nearside suspension ‘top hat’ and adjustable roll bar going forward and mounting at its outer end. (Paolo Devodier)


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Engine change in the Sebring ’67 garage. ‘Periscopica’ 2 litre T33 all alloy, Lucas injected, DOHC chain driven 2 valve V8 engine developed a claimed 260-270bhp @ 9500rpm. (Paolo Devodier)

Four cars were entered at the Targa Florio in 1967

All failed to finish due to suspension problems (De Adamich/Jean Rolland Bonnier/Baghetti) and a minor accident involving the Geki Russo/Nino Todaro. The race was won by the Porsche 910 of Paul Hawkins and Rolf Stommelen.


Targa Florio 1967. The Bonnier/Baghetti T33 ahead of the other factory cars…Periscopica clear to see. Love the ‘period’ hand-painted numbers. (Unattributed)


bonnier baghetti alsfa

Jo Bonnier in the T33 he shared with Giancarlo Baghetti during Targa 1967. (Unattributed)


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T33 cockpit shot at ’67 Targa. LHD unusual in sports cars, Alfa would later change to the ‘norm’. ‘Momo’ steering wheel, Veglia instruments, change for 6 speed box all clear, lots of instruments for the driver to monitor. Not sure which chassis this is, or the T33 in front, you can just see the tail of the Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari P3/412P ahead.(Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Nani Galli and Andrea De Adamich finally broke through for the team at the Nurburgring, they finished 5th in the 1000Km behind 4 Porsche 910’s.

The winning Porsche 910 was driven by the combination of Joe Buzzetta and Udo Schutz. The De Adamich/Galli T33 had another suspension failure on lap 18, but they shared the other car driven by Businello/Zeccoli, the four drivers getting the joy of the cars first race finish.

33 6

Autodelta SpA lineup in the Nurburgring pitlane, 28 May 1967. #20 DeAdamich/Galli (DNF suspension) #21 Russo/Baghetti (DNF ‘box) and #22 fifth place car of Businello/Zeccoli/DeAdamich/Galli. (Accursio Cassarino)


33 8

Andrea DeAdamich in the T33 he shared with Nanni Galli, the Italian duo DNF with suspension failure, then hopped into the # 22 surviving car for 5th place. (Unattributed)



The ‘pre-owned’ T33 of de Adamich/Galli during Nurburgring practice 28 May 1967 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The ‘Periscopica’s’ final start for 1967 was the Circuit of Mugello in July, 8 laps of a tough 66Km road circuit.

Udo Schutz and Gerhard Mitter won the race tailor made for the fast, light but tough Porsche 910. A privately entered GTA was the best place Alfa in 7th, the three Autodelta T33’s of DeAdamich/Galli, Lucien Bianchi/Giunti and Colin Davis/Spartaco Dini all failed to finish.

33 9

Ignazio Giunti with tyre problems at Mugello. (unattributed)

It had been a patchy start but the Tipo 33 continually evolved over the following decade ultimately winning many races, sometimes not against the strongest of opposition, but ultimately winning the World Championship of Makes in 1975 and 1977.

33 10

Alfa Romeo won the World Sportscar Championship in 1975 and 1977. Pictured here is the 1977 Alfa 33 SC12 driven by Spartaco Dini at Enna-Pergusa in June. The car used a spaceframe chassis (Alfa used both spaceframes and monocoques during the models long life and evolution) and a 2.1 litre fuel injected, twin turbo 4 valve V12 producing circa 640bhp. Dini practiced the car but did not start, this car driven by Francia/Merzario DISQ for a startline infringement, Art won in another SC12. (Accursio Cassarino)

The T33 in its original guise had an unusual chassis design.

The main structure comprised two longitudinal aluminium spars to which was mounted a complex magnesium casting at the front, the front suspension mounted to it. At the rear the spars had a fabricated sheet metal saddle to which the suspension was attached.

The suspension itself was conventional for the period; upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/ damper units and single top link, inverted lower wishbone and twin radius rods, coil spring/ dampers at the rear. Adjustable sway bars fitted of course. Uprights were cast magnesium, steering rack and pinion with Girling disc brakes front and rear. Weight 580Kg.


This shot shows the main elements of the chassis referred to in the text; 2 longitudinal spars and cast magnesium frame at the front to which the suspension was mounted. (Vic Berris)

The heart of the early T33’s was of course it’s superb little all alloy DOHC V8. Initially 2 litres (1995cc) and 2 valves per cylinder, the cams chain driven, the Lucas fuel injected engines power output was a claimed 260bhp @ 9500rpm, the gearbox Alfa’s own 6 speed transaxle.

The tall ram air intake gave the car it’s nickname ‘Periscopica’…




Also see this article on the Alfa T33/3 4 litre Coupe i wrote a while back.


33 7

T33 ‘Periscopica’ chassis albeit upside down. The cast magnesium front bulkhead referred to in the text is clear to the right, the spars at the back (top of picture) accept the tubular rear ‘saddle’. (unattributed)

Photo and Other Credits…

Cutaway drawing of car Vic Berris, engine cutaway G Cavara, Claudy Schmitz, Paolo Devodier, Accursio Cassarino, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Facebook ‘Alfa Romeo 33 Sport Car’ Group


de ad nurb

Andrea de Adamich jumping the T33 he shared with Nanni Galli at the Nurburgring 1000Km in 1967 DNF (Rainer Schlegelmilch)


Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF-15T, leads Felipe Massa, Williams FW37 Mercedes. World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic. ref: Digital Image _R6T5991

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria.
Sunday 21 June 2015.
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF-15T, leads Felipe Massa, Williams FW37 Mercedes.
World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic. 

Lewis Hamilton did one lap all weekend that was quicker than Nico Rosberg – that which secured him pole. Other than that, Rosberg was just slightly quicker and better over the three days. Even his start was superior – and that made his race. From there it was just a matter of converting his superior pace into the result, and that’s how it unfolded’.

Read on for Mark Hughes’ race report;

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. The Safety Car leads the field as Marshals clear the scene of the crash between Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF-15T, and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30 Honda. World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic. ref: Digital Image _R6T5880

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria.
Sunday 21 June 2015.
The Safety Car leads the field as Marshals clear the scene of the crash between Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF-15T, and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-30 Honda.
World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic. 


Have been thinking about a W,W, W and When as an occasional post for ages, so many thanks to Australian Racer, Historian and Author John Medley for providing the first…

Contributor Stephen Dalton nutted out the driver, perhaps because the photo’s ‘donor’ John Medley has written a book ‘John Snow Classic Motor Racer’. I have just commenced it. Its a fascinating insight into Snow’s life and also the difficult times both immediately pre and post World War 2. Perhaps i can prevail upon John to write a truncated version of Snow’s fascinating life?

Back to the photo though; Snow was in Europe on both a buying trip for the family department store in Sydney and to race and test some cars with a view to bringing them back to Australia for his own use/sale.

He identified the Hans Ruesch owned and driven Alfa Romeo 8C-35 as such a car, he tested it at Brooklands as shown, this photo until very recently thought to be Ruesch, proved otherwise by Medley.

Medley’s book states that after the Brooklands test, here Snow is passing the Clubhouse, he then hired the car for meetings at Crystal Palace, Donington, Brooklands and Cork. Unfortunately for Snow, the car, with Buddy Featherstonhaugh at the wheel crashed badly during practice at Donington and was then sent back to the factory for repair.

Snow brought another of Hans Ruesch’s cars to Australia, the Alfa P3/2900 Tipo B #5002 which he sold to his friend Jack Saywell who raced it in Australia in 1939, the car actively campaigned in Oz for 30 years, but that is a story for another time…

Credit…John Medley

1997 Goodwood fos 01

I’m too much of a dinosaur to relent to going through life with a ‘Bucket List’ – but if I did – then Goodwood Festival of Speed would be on it. However, in what now seems an eternity ago, that itch was scratched…

The year was 1997 and three full days at FoS action was on the agenda. That year was the 5th running of the ‘must see at least once’ event – originally established as a one day event at Lord Charles March’s humble abode on June 20, 1993. Essentially as a method to generate some income for the upkeep of his Goodwood Estate, while including the enthusiasm he shares with his late grandfather, Freddie March for the motor vehicle.

1997 Goodwood fos 06

When you put on the show, you get to play with all the good toys. Lord March about to take the Chaparral-Chevrolet 2 for a run with Jim Hall’s team mechanic, Troy Rogers

Perhaps one shouldn’t have been surprised, given it was under British skies, that 1997 happened to be the first year rain actually intervened with the event. The rally stars such as Juha Kankkunen, Michele Mouton & Tony Pond were in their element in those conditions. Although gumboots, or ‘Wellies’ (as our Chichester friends would prefer us Aussies call them), aided by a Massey Ferguson should have been the quintessential accessories in the outfields. But the show must go on… and so it did.

1997 Goodwood fos 02

Quattro of a different kind…part of Audi’s 1930’s heritage. As would be expected of a manufacturer like Audi they produced a special press pack just for the unveiling of the restored Auto Union V16. This forms part of it.

The prime of motoring’s manufacturers were ready to exhibit their wares in both static and competition or demonstration-mode to highlight their presence to the mass of Goodwood-bound enthusiasts and glitterati alike – arriving from both spheres of the globe.

Audi brought along their newly restored Auto Union V16 Mountain climb car for Hans Stuck to run up the Goodwood drive. Not quite mountain climbing, but a sight and sound to behold. Arch rival, Mercedes Benz brought along their 1955 Mille Miglia winning 300SLR for Stirling Moss to drive in memory of the then recently departed Moss MM co-driver and motoring journalist, Denis Jenkinson.

Arguably standout that year was the fiery red Italian, Ferrari marque. Certainly so, based on their presence at the event marked with the massive statue created in front of Goodwood House – celebrating their 50 years of Maranello motoring couture with a V12 orchestra under the bonnet. Ably backed with many examples baring the scarlet tone and prancing horse insignia, with past & then present drivers’ from the Scuderia invited along to accompany the celebration.

1997 Goodwood fos 03

One way to hook an F1 Ferrari… worshipping the scarlet red Italian marque, Goodwood-style. The even more imposing Goodwood House is behind.

If that wasn’t enough to ignite the flame then perhaps the presence of Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, various Lotus F1 & Indy car’s, Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason’s BRM V16, Wheatcroft & Collier collection’s Vanwalls, or numerous Shelby Cobra, et al flowing through the grounds to be enjoyed, would.

1997 Goodwood fos 10

Period attired Tony Brooks awaits in the Wheatcroft Vanwall ‘VW9’ for Stirling Moss’ arrival to jump aboard the Collier Vanwall ‘VW5/11’ so they could both do a demonstration run together. The Vanwall’s of course testament to engine bearing magnate, Tony Vandervell’s efforts after his frustrated support during the early days of the supremely complicated BRM V16 project.

Another option was to give the cheque book a work out by making your way to the BROOKS marquee and put your hand up or nod obligingly at the auctioneer in an attempt to procure various vintage or classic sports, or racing cars. Amongst the many offerings was the ex Graham Hill/Arnold Glass BRM P48 and original Mini designer, Alec Issigonis’ ‘Lightweight special’. Then again if the budget didn’t stretch that far, various memorabilia or even fashion traders would happily liberate multiples of pound notes from you. The memorabilia traders’ certainly worked their magic on me.

1997 Goodwood fos 07

Brooks Auctions (now Bonham’s) sold the ‘Lightweight Special’ originally built in the late 1930’s by 1959 Mini designer, Alec Issigonis and his friend, George Dowson. Both drove it in Hillclimb’s and ¼ mile Speed Trials at the likes of Prescott and Brighton. That’s how ‘Issi’ met John Cooper! When built the ‘Lightweight’ was advanced with its monocoque construction, rubber suspension and cast wheels. The Heritage Museum at Gaydon in the UK’s midland’s tried to acquire the car to add to its other Issigonis artefacts, but strong bidding knocked them out and it stayed in private hands – selling for around £40,000 at Goodwood. It was soon back into hillclimbing, but damaged quite soon after. The necessary repairs to the bodywork, meaning it lost some of its long established patina.

Given the prevailing moist atmosphere for 2 of the 3 day event, the smart move would have been to stay out of the weather and procure a grandstand seat while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of motor sport’s past and then current, rally cars, sports cars, F1 or motor cycles as they motored by. Often driven or ridden by someone famous. Some on a mission to set a Hill record, others purely as a demonstration run.

1997 Goodwood fos 11

Uniquely placed in motor sport’s history is John Surtees – championships on motorcycles and cars. Seen here riding his 1960 MV Agusta 500.

What made Goodwood special for me though was the ability to just amble around and find something to enjoy. The paddock was a special place to get up close and view, not only the very special racing cars present, but many drivers or riders. Several who carried world titles within their sport and happy to oblige an autograph or 3. For me, a copy of the Doug Nye’s ‘Cooper Cars’ book garnering notable autographs from those who took part in racing Coopers during period on track battles. Reflecting back after 18 years, several of those present that weekend are no longer with us. However fond memories of a visit to Goodwood Festival of Speed will remain. For what was even in the event’s early years’ an overwhelming 3 days hard to take it all in… but worth giving a damn good crack.

1997 Goodwood fos 05

Splish, Splash… John Dawson-Damer takes his ex Team Lotus 79 for a gingerly run along a very damp Goodwood drive. This is chassis ‘79/5’ originally run in 1979 Team Lotus Martini colours for both Andretti and Reutemann during that season. When Lotus and J-DD struck up the arrangement that his ex-Clark Lotus 32B Tasman car went back to Lotus and the 79 was delivered to him in the far more pleasing JPS scheme

This year’s FoS is happening over June 25 – 28…

1997 Goodwood fos 08

Only Barry could get away wearing his baseball cap backwards at Goodwood… After hearing Barry Sheene on Australian TV commentary for ATCC/V8 Taxis, some wags might say “What’s he doing trying to read!” Well I witnessed the relaxed Mr Sheene sitting atop this BMW in the pits, when clearly an enthusiast of his approached for an autograph of a Sheene book he had brought along. What quickly transpired was that while Barry was out winning races and busting bones on racing motorcycles, before disappearing to the warmer climates of Australia to live afterwards, he clearly was not aware of this book about himself! Flicking through it and scanning its pages as I managed to snap this photo.

A recent feature on Lord March… Note:- if you hit the paywall google ‘financial times uk lord march’ and maybe you’ll get through

1997 Goodwood fos 14

Despite Enzo not wanting to join the late 1950’s F1 GP rear engine revolution, Phil Hill won his 1961 F1 Championship in the ‘sharknose’ Ferrari 156 with the V6 engine behind the driver. So not only was Phil the first USA citizen to win F1’s highest accolade, he also goes down in history as the first Ferrari rear engine era Champion.

1997 Goodwood fos 15

Not Jimmy Clark’s 1965 Indy 500 winner, but the sister Bobby Johns Team Lotus entry.

1997 Goodwood fos 12

1997 Goodwood fos 13

The Ferrari T4 cockpit fit for a 1979 F1 World Champion. Jody was at Goodwood, here accosted by photographers

1997 Goodwood fos 09

Even in 1997 you would have struggled to get this close to Williams GP Engineering at an F1 event. One of the FW18’s used by Damon Hill in his successful 1996 season and the FW07B used successfully by Alan Jones in 1980 – both clinching World Drivers’ & Constructors’ Titles.

1997 Goodwood fos 04

The dedicated FoS officials and Ford’s then WRC weapon of choice… Juha Kankkunen’s Repsol Cossie Escort


Excepting Goodwood artwork & Audi press material, all photos  Stephen Dalton


lex davo

Who What Where and When?…its Lex Davison in his Alfa Romeo P3 ‘50003’…the where is a little more interesting?…

My writer/historian friend Stephen Dalton thinks its Fishermans Bend, Victoria at the 13 March 1949 meeting…the background looks bucolic to me so it may be Ballarat Airfield in 1950? All correspondence will be entered into.

The shot itself is by George Thomas, i tripped over it…ripper shot which catches the essence of these airfield circuits.

I will get around to writing about this wonderful Alfa in due course, on the basis that it is Fishermans Bend Davo won the 12 lap, 25 mile scratch race from Charlie Dean in Maybach 1, those of you who have read my Stan Jones article will be familiar with this car, Arthur Wylie in a Ford V8 Spl was 3rd.


George Thomas, Stephen Dalton, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ 14 April 1949


2015 Le Mans finish (MotorSport)

A titanic battle between Audi and Porsche had been expected, but in the end an accumulation of problems denied Audi victory for the first time in five years while the #19 Bamber/Hülkenberg/Tandy Porsche ran virtually trouble-free for 24 hours. So Porsche took its 17th victory at La Sarthe.

Checkout MotorSport’ summary of the race:


The winning Bamber/Hulkenberg/Tandy Porsche 919, the looks only a mother could love…(MotorSport)

mustangs catalina park

Photographer John Ellacott; ‘The three Mustangs of Pete Geoghegan, Norm Beechey and Bob Jane racing against each other for the first time, Catalina Park, Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains on 7 November 1965’…

And so commenced a wonderful period of Touring Car Racing in Australia. Between them these blokes won the Australian Touring Car Championship on 11 occasions; Bob Jane 1962/3 Jaguar Mk2, 1971/2 Chev Camaro ZL-1. Pete Geoghegan 1964 in a Ford Cortina GT, 1966-9 Ford Mustang and Norm Beechey, 1965 in a Ford Mustang and 1970 in a Holden Monaro GTS350.

For those with an interest in these Mustangs’ click on this link to read a detailed article by Australian historian/writer/commentator Mark Oastler, the login process is simple.

Photo Credit…John Ellacott, The Nostalgia Forum