Archive for June, 2016


Oddjob shows off James Bond’s Aston DB5 outside the Hilton Hotel in the PR hoopla around Goldfinger’s release in 1965…



Goldfinger was the third film of the Bond ‘franchise’, James copped a new company car of course, an Aston DB5 and so commenced a relationship between Bondy and Aston’s which has endured down the decades. It was an astute bit of product placement on the part of David Brown and his marketers, sales and company profile grew as a consequence.

Aston Martin’s haven’t been Jame’s only conveyance of choice, click on this link for a list of all the cars used in the Bond films;


Sean Connery on ‘Goldfinger’ location with DB5 (Donaldson Collection)

Because I know you simply have to know, here’s a comprehensive list of all the goodies ‘Q’ fitted to the DB5 to keep James away from the baddies;





And One for the Rich Kids…


The portly young chap is at the wheel of a DB5 ‘Junior’ in the Iranian Embassy, London December 1966. Its a gift from Aston’s to the Shah of Persia or Crown Prince of Iran, dude at right the Iranian Ambassador









(Spencer Lambert)

Now that’s a ‘Wing Car’! Garrie Cooper awaits clearance for takeoff at Adelaide International, ‘Elfin 792 Cessna’ in 1979…

When I originally saw this shot on the wonderful ‘Elfin Monocoque Aficionados’ Facebook Group page I thought it a promotional pisstake, the additional wings added to get some column inches for Elfin’s sponsor, Ansett Airlines of Australia. Ansett was an Australian icon, our ‘other’ domestic airline until its corporate failure in 2001. Reg Ansett would have turned in his grave that day.

Whilst it was John Bowe’s car the helmet was Cooper’s, JB confirmed it was the Elfin chief at the wheel; ‘Garrie kept and prepared the car in Adelaide, he was always fiddling around with new ideas and this is one of them. I met the car and raced it at meetings but GC did all of the development work on the chassis’.

Elfin boss Cooper and mechanic/engineer John Porter were experimenting to understand the forces their new ‘ground effect’ designs would be subjected to by trying to create the downforce of GE tunnels by the addition of the side mounted wings.


Gunnar Nilsson, Lotus 78 Ford, Japanese GP 1977 (unattributed)

In 1978 Colin Chapman, Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson ‘swept the boards’ with their dominant ground-effects Lotus 79, Mario took the drivers and Lotus the manufacturers titles that year.

The complexities of aerodynamics, what a ‘black art’ it was then with the technology of the day was such that the dominant team of 1978 didn’t win a race in 1979!

Chapman pushed the envelope ‘too far’ with the ‘wingless’ Lotus 80 despite all of the knowledge Peter Wright, Tony Rudd, Chapman and the rest had acquired during 1976/8. The best ‘Lotus 79 copy’, the Williams FW07 was the fastest car of 1979 albeit Ferrari ‘nicked’ the title with its T4 design as Patrick Head and Frank Williams didn’t get their new car onto the grid early enough which allowed the ultra reliable, just fast enough Fazz Flat-12 to win for Jody Scheckter.


The technical challenges manufacturers of production racing cars like Elfin faced in 1979 were the aerodynamic forces unleashed on their structures. They both needed to understand how to create the downforce Lotus harnessed and then strengthen their structures to cope with the download and cornering forces applied to the cars chassis and suspension componentry as unheard levels of grip were created.

The difficulty for people like Cooper at the ‘far flung ends of the planet’ was not being able to see how things were evolving directly week by week at race meetings in Europe, get the ‘goss from suppliers and the press etc.

The Elfin 792 VW Golf was Cooper’s 1978 ANF2 car (1.6 litres, SOHC, carburettor formula, engines gave circa 185bhp) but it arrived late so took the 792 appellation. GC had a huge F5000 shunt in 1978 at the Sandown Gold Star round from which he was lucky to escape, a story for another time, an impact was the delay of a swag of Elfin projects including the F2 car until Garrie was back on his feet.

When laid down the little single-seater was designed as a neat, conventional aluminium monocoque with outboard suspension. It was a replacement of his Type 700, originally built as an ANF3 (1300cc) car but evolved into an F2 car by many racers when fitted with a Ford Twin-cam or various pushrod/SOHC 4 cylinder engines as the class evolved from a 1.6 twin-cam to a 1.6 SOHC formula with effect from 1978.


Garrie Cooper did ‘a million miles’ at Adelaide International and Mallala testing his Adelaide built cars over the decades, here the 792 is running a high airbox, with which it did race (Spencer Lambert)

Later Australian Gold Star and Touring Car Champion, John Bowe raced both the factory MR8 Chev F5000 and 792 and with more luck could have won both the Gold Star and the 1979 F2 Championship.

Bowe may not be known to all overseas readers, he is one of Australia’s pro-driver greats over 4 decades. He had a great career in single-seaters before turning to ‘the dark side’, touring cars where he was and still is, an ace. He won 6 Australian Championships in four categories including the then prestigious ‘Gold Star’ for our champion driver, 2 Bathurst 1000’s and the Australian Touring Car Championship.

bowe elfin

JB in his Elfin 500 F Vee #132 during his 1971, debut racing year in which he won the Tasmanian FV Championship, aged 16 (

‘I grew up surrounded by cars in Tasmania, my dad had a dealership and raced, I went to lots of local meetings at Symmons Plains, Baskerville and Longford. I raced an Elfin Formula Vee when I first started and an Elfin 600 after that, and it was Garrie who gave me the chance to race on the mainland, which is something I really wanted to do’.

‘He was great to me by giving me the opportunity and also the guidance. The Elfin drives were the big boost my career got, everything that happened later was a function of the success I had in the F2 Elfins and especially the F5000 MR8 drives I had, which established my big-car credibility’.

elf dick

Dick Johnson left and John Bowe in their 1993 Ford ‘EB’ Falcon V8 Supercar heyday, JB won the Australian Touring Car Championship, for the last 30 years really the ‘Australian Drivers Championship’ in 1995 in a Falcon (Shell)

‘The 1.6 single-cam F2 formula was really good at the time, it had some young, fast guys involved; Sheady and Sambo in the Celica powered Cheetah’s, John Smith in his Ralt RT1, Davo in the Hardman, Norden in the March copy and others. The fields had depth, the racing was hard, that (younger not Shead and Sambo!) group of us were young guys pushing up so we gave the class a real shake’, said John.

‘The 792 was a good car, it was quick but it wasn’t too long before it got a bit floppy at the back. The weakness or lack of stiffness was in the mounting of the frame to the tub, in the end Garrie said we should sell it. Cooper built three of the cars and they are now all in the hands of the one guy, although none of them are running’ in historic racing.

The chassis was an honeycomb aluminium monocoque with conventional outboard wishbone suspension at the front and single top link, twin lower links and radius rods for fore and aft location at the rear. New uprights were used as well as Elfins own steering rack. Hewland’s Mk9 5 speed ‘box with slippery diff was fitted and 190’ish bhp claimed for the VW Golf engine which was built in-house at Elfins using the best Super Vee bits from the ‘States. The suspension was finished in cadminium plating, the superbly presented car glistened in the Benalla sunlight as I shared the scrutineering bay with it in at Winton in late August 1979, my Venom F Vee feeling very ‘povvo’ in comparison!

elfin mr8

John Bowe ahead of Kevin Bartlett in the ill-fated Brabham BT43 Chev and John Walkers Lola T332 Chev, Chas Talbot and Rob Butcher both in T332’s then Graham McRae McRae GM3 Chev Sandown Gold Star 1979. KB crashed the BT43 destroying the car and badly injuring himself when a wheel broke in the very quick Causeway/Dunlop Bridge section of the circuit  (Ian Smith)

The class of the 1979 F2 field was John Smith’s Ralt RT1. He raced this as an F Pac with a Cosworth BDD fitted and an AN2 with a pushrod Ford ‘Kent’ 711M, which was pretty neat. The ‘Kent’ is the same block used in Cosworth’s BDD, in pushrod form modified with lots of Cosworth bits. The car was heavy as an F2 but Smithy’s skills more than made up for any weight disadvantage the package had. He was fast but he didn’t have reliability on his side that year.

JB debuted the 792 successfully in Baskerville’s end of February meeting, he won the F2 race and set a new outright lap record. Still in Tasmania on 14 March he won 3 races and again set an F2 lap record, besting the Birrana 274 F2 twin-cam mark set by Leo Geoghegan.

At Sandown on 8 April Bowe again set an F2 lap record besting Leo’s time again but was 2nd in the race between the Cheetah twins; Brian’s Shead and Sampson in Cheetah Mk6 Toyota’s. At Oran Park 6 weeks later he was 3rd.

bowe 792

JB all cocked up at Sandown’s Shell corner, turn 1 in April 1979 chasing Brian Sampson’s Cheetah Mk6 Toyota. Note the ‘Tyrrell’ bluff nose on the 792 early in the season, both sweet little cars, Mk5/6 Cheetah a very successful series of cars (unattributed)

In the Gold Star chase Bowe was 2nd in the AGP at Wanneroo Park in WA, the winner John Walker in a Lola T332 Chev, for a change JW was the lucky beneficiary of others misfortunes. John followed this up with a flag to flag win in the first Gold Star round at Oran Park on 29 July, a great drive for an F5000 relative novice.

JB on the speed of the Elfin MR8; ‘When I stepped up into F5000 I was a young driver and by that stage the Elfin MR8 Chev was well sorted, GC built the first one around 1976. Garrie, Vern, (Schuppan) James Hunt and others had raced the things so they were developed by guys who knew these big cars, I didn’t have a yardstick but I reckon the Elfin was every bit as good as the T332 Lolas and other contemporary cars of the day’.

Bowe took the first F2 Championship round at Calder in early August beating Brian Shead over the line by less than a second, both drivers did the same fastest lap and became joint holders of the F2 lap record.

Later in August Bowe was knocked off the track at Winton whilst lapping a competitor, breaking an upright and spinning into the infield in the second AF2 championship round. John Smith was the quickest car that weekend, but went off in the wet, the winner was Graham Engel in a Cheetah Mk6 Ford.

elf smit

Late 70’s to mid ’80’s Oz single-seater aces John Smith and the forever beardly! Bowe, circa 1979/80 (Ian Smith)

On September 9 Bowe contested the last round of the Gold Star at Sandown and was convincingly in the lead after the brakes on Alf Costanzo’s Lola T430 wouldn’t release but a left rear tyre deflated. In trying to get back to the pits John damaged the rear suspension cradle. John Walker took 2nd, the series and promptly retired from the sport he loved. Costanzo won the race.

John then travelled back to Winton for the ‘Rose City 10000’ F5000 race contested by both 5 litre cars and Formula Pacific cars which were incredibly fast around twisty Winton with its multiple changes of direction. JB qualified on row 2 but was in the lead leaving behind the scrapping Costanzo Lola T430 and Smith Ralt RT1 BDD. With 8 laps to go John spun, broke the Elfin’s nose and was black-flagged, Alf won the race from Smithy by less than a half a second.

At Symmons for the final round of the AF2 championship on 11 November Ian Richards set fastest practice time in a Golf powered car called a Tudor, but Bowe was only a tenth slower with Brian Shead 3rd on the grid. JB won the first heat from Shead and had the title within his grasp but in the final, in the wet, a plug lead came loose whilst in the lead giving the round win and championship to the evergreen, muti-talented Cheetah constructor, Brian Shead.

JB’s F2 season ended at Calder’s sportscar championship round in late November with a win over Ian Richards Cheetah Golf, Ian having won the preliminary race and giving intent of his increasing competitiveness as a driver which would be fully exploited in his own, beautiful ground-effect Richards 201 Golf with which he took the 1981 AF2 Championship.

With the season ended Bowe sold the 792 putting pressure on Cooper to finish the GE225 F2 car for 1980, a story for another time. It was an amazing 1979 for Bowe, he didn’t win either title, both of which seemed a strong possibility at one point but he had absolutely established himself as one of the top drivers in the country.


Cooper in the AIR pitlane, 792 shorn of its wings in some ‘back to back’ tests on the same day the side winglets were tried in 1979 (Spencer Lambert)

If the Elfin looks familiar to some of you its probably its March 792’esque nose. That BMW engined car won the 1979 Euro F2 Championship for Marc Surer. The Elfin also raced with a ‘Tyrrell’ bluff nose but Bowe’s definitive spec was with this nose and an airbox fitted atop the downdraft Weber carbs.

In 1980 John Bowe contested the ANF2 title again, this time in Cooper’s GE Two-25, his first completed ground effect design, no doubt the research found on this 1979 test day was instructive in that cars design!

In the UK Ron Tauranac was struggling to get his first G-E car, the F3 Ralt RT3 to go quicker than the old RT1 (he succeeded bigtime!) whilst Cooper and Porter were simulating the sort of forces they would encounter in designing their new car by running Bowe’s 792 with this wing amidships. No way could it have legally raced with an additional wings mounted where these were.

The GE Two-25 was an F2 race winner for Bowe in 1980 but Richard Davison won the title in a Hardman JH1 Ford in an interesting and competitive ANF2 Championship, a ‘wing-car’ story for another time and one with a potentially better Elfin outcome had Cooper finished the car in time for Bowe to contest the full championship…

bowe ralt

JB is his Ralt RT4 Ford BDD at Oran Park during his successful Gold Star tilt in 1985, he won the title in 1984 as well, by 1985 the ‘aero’ of these cars well and truly resolved! The Ralt RT3/4/5 F3/Pac/S Vee series of cars one of the greatest series of production racing cars ever built (unattributed)


Special thanks to John Bowe for his time and insights

Elfin Monocoque Aficionados’ Facebook Group, Barry Catford and John Blanden ‘Elfin Racing Cars’

Photo Credits…

Stephen Lambert, Ian Smith,, Peter Brennan

Tailpieces: Cooper quickly got the hang of the design of ground effect cars; John Bowe in his only Elfin MR9 Chev drive at Sandown on 22 February 1981 after Cooper was a ‘bit spooked’ by the car in Gold Star practice…

elfin mr9

(Peter Brennan)

Alfie Costanzo’s Allan Hamilton owned, Tiga converted ground-effects ex-F1 McLaren M26 Chev was the class of the field that weekend but JB drove very well to 2nd after a big fright in practice when the MR9’s left rear rocker bent after underestimation of the down force created. The components on all four corners were strengthened overnight at Porsche Cars Australia’s workshop just up the road from the circuit in Dandenong.

John; ‘I was at Sandown racing my Elfin GE225 F2 car and Bryan Thomson’s Mercedes sports sedan when Garrie asked me to have a drive of the MR9 on the Friday. He said he was a bit ‘spooked’ by the car and wasn’t sure whether it was him, he’d had a big accident at Sandown a couple of years before, or the car. It was the early ground effect days, the Elfin MR9 was a great design but the forces weren’t fully understood by many designers’.

‘One of the many wonderful memories I have of GC was being in restaurants with him all over the country and him scribbling notes or diagrams of ideas on paper napkins! What was happening was the chassis was flexing a bit, the front wheels losing alignment and any semblance of castor so the car was very unpredictable under brakes in particular, you had to stop the thing by braking down the middle of the road. And then the upright broke which was very exciting! He strengthened the car in various areas and got it sorted later on but I only drove it the once at Sandown’.

The MR9 is a story for another time…

elf cooper

Garrie Cooper testing one of his great masterpieces, the world’s only purpose built F5000, the Elfin MR9 Chev (Spencer Lambert)



Harry Schell on the limit of adhesion in his ‘Yeoman Credit’ Cooper T51 Climax at Madgwick Corner, Goodwood…

Harry Schell was a press-on kinda driver wasn’t he? Here the Franco-American is delighting the ‘Glover Trophy’ spectators with some delicious Cooper T51 drifts…

The 1960 event was held on Easter Monday, 18 April. Harry was bang on the pace too, equal 2nd quickest in practice with Stirling Moss in a similar car. Chris Bristow demonstrated his undeniable pace though, he was on pole by a couple of tenths and finished 3rd in the race behind Moss, the winner Innes Ireland in his factory Lotus 18 Climax, the quickest of 1960’s GP grid. Harry’s engine popped on lap 20 of the 62 lap 162 Km race…


GP Library, National Motor Museum

Tailpiece: Harry telling a naughty joke by the look of it, Crystal Place, July 1955…

Stirling Moss, Schell and Mike Hawthorn during the ‘London Trophy’ meeting which Mike won the feature race in a Maserati 250F from Harry’s Vanwall.


(National Motor Museum)

Mike won his heat in the Moss’ family 250F chassis #2508, Harry his in Vanwall ‘VW2’ and Mike the final. Moss was contracted to Mercedes Benz that year, this non-championship 30 July event not one in which Benz entered their W196’s.



John Goss races his new Matich A53 Repco for the very first time, the ‘Oran Park 100’ Gold Star round on 4 August 1974…

‘007’ was the last and best F5000 the Matich team built, arguably it’s the best F5000 built in Oz. The story of Frank Matich and his cars I chronicled in a long treatise a while back, have a read if you haven’t seen it;

Goss extended himself, buying the car and some spares. Later he also bought A51 ‘005’ which he converted to A53 spec, racing both cars for years inclusive of the ’76 AGP win at Sandown, check this article out on Gossy;

John Goss: Bathurst 1000 and Australian Grand Prix Winner…

This short piece is inspired by these photos posted on social media for the first time this month. They are ‘mouth-watering’ for me as i’ve always loved this car especially in its Matich original ‘mellow yellow’ Repco livery. Its just the nicest, oh-so-fast bit of beautifully integrated kit.


Grant O’Neill at the back, he looked after John’s cars right thru from this point ex-Matich as he was. Peter Hughes in red and Repco’s Ken Symes at the right. John Davison in Matich A50 ‘004’ behind Oran Park, Gold Star, August 1974 (Neil Stratton)

To have seen FM race it in the US L&M Series in 1974 would have been really something, the A53 showed it could run and beat the best of the Lola T330/2’s in Goss’ hands in Oz. Frank would definitely have given a few folks some curry with all of the teams learnings from its unsuccessful 1973 American campaign.

In the Oran Park form up area with Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T332 Chev behind (



John Goss, Tornado Ford at Catalina Park, Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains, 1970 (

As a young enthusiast I thought F5000 was a big step up for JG, a mere ‘touring car driver’ in my mind. I was ignorant of his pedigree in real cars though, whilst he started in tourers he quickly progressed to a largely self built, potent Falcon in-line 6 cylinder mid-engined sportscar, the ‘Tornado Ford’.

It was in that he made his name in his adopted Tasmania and later when he moved to the big smoke, Sydney, and Ford Falcon GTHO ‘Series Production’ fame. In F5000 Gossy was ‘on it’ from the start, giving the established aces plenty, he was as ‘quick as his mouth’, legend that he was for saying so little in so many, many words!

What a driver and what a car.


Goss in the McLeod Ford, Falcon GTHO Ph3 at Amaroo Park 1972 (

Credits…, Neil Stratton



Goss at Oran Park again in ‘007’, this time the ’75 Tasman round in February 1975, DNF with electrical problems. The first of many livery and body ‘evolutions’ over the years John raced the two A51/3 cars…



Family watching the ‘Del Monte Trophy’ Pebble Beach, California road racing in October 1954…

I was going to crop out the rug etc but then noticed the ‘six’packs’ of Coke and Miller. I imagine its a quintessential American scene of the day which no doubt is the composition photographer Robert Lachenbach sought.

No details on car or driver but ’tis a top shot?! Love the period casual clothes of the ‘well-heeled’ local patrons.


Robert Lackenbach


ke shop

Victoria Morris’ swoopy Kieft De Soto at rest in Piper Street, Kyneton, Victoria on a very balmy Anzac Day 25 April 2016…

Everything was going nicely until Victoria shattered the peace and quiet of our long, languid ‘Mr Carsisi’ middle-eastern lunch. Thoroughly recommended by the way.

We were out to atone for minor, alleged misdemeanors on my part. Me ‘an the little sabre-toothed tigress were just knocking back the second pinot and tucking into tasty mains as a big, loudish V8 ‘snap, crackle ‘n popped’ its way down quiet Piper Street in the beautiful Macedon Ranges village, 90 Km north of Melbourne.

I couldn’t help myself of course, I just had to see what it was there and then!


Too slow to see the driver exit the slinky light green beast, I was quick enough to beat the swarm of ‘rubber-necks’ soon checking out this ‘one of a kind’ car. Patrizia was not a ‘happy camper’, the photo and drool session took a good 40 minutes.


This article is long on photos, all of the ‘touristy shots’ are of Piper Street, Kyneton and its immediate surrounds unless otherwise stated.



Campaspe River, Kyneton

The delicacy of the Kieft’s styling is deceptive I reckon…

It looks lithe and ‘Coventry Climax FWA’ light but totes a big, heavy cast iron De Soto 4.5 litre V8 and has the performance to match. I have spotted the car once or twice at race meetings before, what was great was to see it being used on the road, no doubt driven with considerable brio too!


Bill Morris, Terry Cornelius and Greg Snape and the Kieft De Soto in Terry’s Corowa workshop in April 2009 (The Border Mail)

The Kieft is an intensely interesting project. It was the realisation of the dream of its late owner, historic racer Bill Morris and two talented Australian artisans who brought it to life, body builder Terry Cornelius and mechanic/engineer Greg Snape, who did the rest inclusive of project management. Cornelius’ business is in Corowa on the mighty Murray River and Snape’s in Yass, in New South Wales Southern Tablelands.





Greg Snape picks up the Kieft story and Morris’ passion for two rather special cars…

‘The Erwin Goldschmidt De Soto engined sportscar was built alongside the Grand Prix car in early 1954’. Goldschmidt was a wealthy insurance broker and champion owner/driver in early/mid-fifties American racing’.

The Grand Prix car is the Kieft ‘GP1’, the chassis’ of which was completed in 1954 but was never completed and raced due to the ‘stillborn’ nature of the Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPE V8 engine intended to power it.

Nearly 50 years later the car was completed with its correct engine by the Morris/Snape team in the UK in 2002.

Family 2007 002

Kieft GP1; Coventry Climax ‘Godiva’ FPE 2.5 litre, DOHC, 2 valve, twin plug V8 fed by 4 Weber DCNL carbs. On methanol the engine produces circa 260bhp @ 8500rpm. Gearbox is an Armstrong Siddeley ‘pre-selector’ type with specially made close ratios, AP racing clutch (Bisset)

Greg; ‘I had a business in Deniliquin, NSW which I was getting bored with and decided to sell it to move to the UK to get a job in F1 for a change of scene and pace. I rang John Diamond (the late owner of Penrite Oil in Melbourne) to get a reference, told him what I planned to do, he told me historic racer/engineer Bill Morris was in his office and handed the phone over! He had lots of contacts, offered to help me and after I sent him my CV said you will always have job with me if all else fails in the UK’


The GP car was designed by Gordon Bedson, the chassis a ‘semi spaceframe’ that is, not fully triangulated but with deep side elements tapering towards the front to clear the wide engine. A thin tube structure carries the body. Here Greg Snape races ‘GP1’ at a dry! (is it a pretty car or what?) Winton Historic Meeting in May 2007 (Bisset)

‘So, I packed up the wife and kids and off we went, from Deniliquin to Oxfordshire in late 1996. I worked for Bill for a few months, then did a season with Alan Docking Racing’s F3 team as Mark Webber’s #2 mechanic in 1997. I returned to Bill for a couple of years in 1998, then went to the JSM Alfa 147 BTCC Team in 2001 as #1 mechanic on Tim Harvey’s car and finally the Castrol Hyundai WRC team in 2002 as #1 transmission tech’

Family 2007 009

Kieft GP1 Climax; Front suspension comprises unequal length upper and lower tubular wishbones, coil springs, Spax shocks and a roll bar. Hubs are ‘wartime’ Ford V8 to which new fabricated steering arms were bolted. Rack and pinion steering mechanism and wood-rim wheel are of Kieft manufacture. Rear suspension is independent by upper and lower unequal length wishbones, transverse leaf spring and Spax shocks. The diff is a proprietary ENV unit as fitted to Jags in period mounted in the original magnesium Kieft housing incorporating a ZF ‘slippery mechanism. Winton paddock 2007 (Bisset)

‘Bill ended up with the Kieft F1 car and bits via a friendship he had with Gordon Chapman who he had known for years via their mutual ERA ownership. Unfortunately Gordon died. Bill tried to sell all the bits on behalf of Guy’s widow Jeanie but eventually decided to take it on himself. He asked me to work on the project, the deal was that I spent half my time rebuilding pre-selector gearboxes for Bill’s clients and half the time building up the Kieft F1 car, it’s a whole fabulous story for another time’.

Family 2007 004

Radical for its day, Dunlop disc brakes as used on the Jag XKC were specified. Wheels are new cast magnesium to the original Dunlop patterns, 5/5.5 inches wide front/rear and 16 inches in diameter. Lago Talbot T26C alongside the Kieft GP1, Winton May 2007 (Bisset)

‘Throughout the process of building the Kieft GP car we were in regular touch with Cyril (Kieft) who was both helpful and really keen to see the finished car. During this process he told Bill about the sportscar.

Essentially the car was built in the UK, sent to the US where it was hillclimbed and damaged. It was rebuilt but then stolen in the 1980’s and an insurance payout made. It was all said to be a bit ‘suss’ but over the years even though some people claimed to know where components were Bill couldn’t track anything down nor has anyone ever claimed to have the remnants of the car’.

‘So Bill decided to build a ‘reconstruction’ of the Kieft De Soto using components from the spare original chassis he bought with the F1 project’.

‘Kieft built three sets of parts for the GP cars in period and two chassis. The first car is the one we know and love (‘GP1′) the second incomplete chassis comprising the main structural tubes with magnesium front bulkhead attached was hanging on rafters in Bills workshop and ultimately sold together with GP1 when Bill auctioned it.’

(T Page)


Coventry Climax FWE 2.5 litre V8 

‘We used the components that came with the second GP car chassis to recreate the sporty.

Really the sports car chassis was completely different to the F1 car but the suspension bits; hubs and uprights, magnesium diff housing were the same. The F1 car has Dunlop disc brakes, the same components which went on the Jag C Type, it stops incredibly well, the brakes on the sportscar are drums, a 13 inch standard Girling size on the front and 12inch Jag components on the back’.


(The Border Mail)

The original bodies of both GP1 and sportscar were built by EW Humphries Ltd in Wolverhampton, the sportscar then fitted out at Kieft’s Derry Street, Wolverhampton works, painted white and  exported to the US. Here Terry Cornelius (above) checks his reference material in his Corowa workshop during the cars build.

‘The sportscar was installed with a De Soto ‘Fiedome’ 4.5 litre V8, a Jaguar ‘Moss’ gearbox with close ratios, and same as the GP car, an ENV rear axle in a Kieft housing’.

‘The chassis wasn’t straight forward other than the two main frame longerons but Duncan Rabagliati of the GP Library had some original photos which were invaluable. Whilst the F1 car was in Australia in 2006/7 I stripped it down and made a jig which, with the photos, allowed us to get the chassis and suspension pick-up points and therefore the geometry spot-on. We knew that it would be great as the F1 car handled so sweetly and progressively’.


Original Kieft chassis frame main tubes clear clear as is ‘Superleggera’ construction method, what else does Cornelius have in his Corowa shop? (The Border Mail)

‘Terry Cornelius did a sensational job with the body which was all done by looking at photos and building accordingly. Its easy to say but much harder to do! Bills health at this stage was holding up pretty well, he eventually died from a degenerative disease which gradually destroyed his central nervous system’.

‘Bill and his wife had a place at Lancefield in country Victoria as well as in the UK, they lived 6 months in each, so he was able to help with direction of the project. Funnily enough, in a tragic kind of a way, when he saw the body for the last time before going back to the UK where he died, he ‘looked at’ the body largely by feel. He said to Terry,‘I think the body will crack here’, near an intersection of curves at the front of the rear wing, sure enough that’s exactly what happened 12 months later! Terry has chosen not to repair the crack as a tribute to Bill’s great knowledge of all things automotive.’


De Soto 276cid  V8, ‘Moss’ box and bellhousing ready for installation in the car. Note beautifully fabricated extractors and single 2 barrel Rochester carb (Peter Delaney)

The heart of a car is its engine of course. Goldschmidt specified and provided a new 276 cid/4.5 litre, cast iron OHV V8 from De Soto’s new for 1952 ‘Firedome’ family sedan for Kieft to fit his new car. It was De Soto’s first such engine since 1931. The oversquare 3.5/3.344 inch bore/stroke engine, fitted with hemispherical combustion chamber cylinder heads was ‘state of the art’, an ‘engine with high performance characteristics’ as Motor Trend magazine put it.

Modern though it was, in production form developing circa 160bhp, it was heavy ‘the engine weighs a ton, I don’t know how much but I reckon the heads alone weigh as much as an A-Series BMC engine!’ quips Greg.

The relatively lightweight ‘Small Block’ Chev and Ford V8’s with their thin-wall casting techniques changed the world of motor racing but they were still a few years away in 1954. But there were plenty of sportscars in the burgeoning US scene using a range of heavy but powerful V8’s that pushed Ferrari and Maserati to build cars with progressively bigger engines throughout the 1950’s.


Degree of difficulty in building the body from little reference material clear, note the light tubes to which the hand formed and rolled aluminium sheets are attached (Cornelius)


Lots of compound curves, workmanship superb (Cornelius)

‘The engine fitted is a 276cid De Soto Firedome exactly the same as the original car before it left the UK. Its been only lightly modified as was the case with the original, we needed  to go that way to be eligible for FIA papers and Bill and Victoria wanted a car they could use on both road and track’.

‘It has a set of fabricated extractors, been bored out 40 thou, has 11:1 compression ratio and a mild high lift cam. High comp pistons, light rods, oil pump and oversize valves are from ‘Hemi Hot Heads’ in the US.’

‘Fed by a 2 barrell Rochester carb it develops around 350bhp at only 4800rpm, not high but its under-carbed, the thing has heaps of torque, its got a big, fat torque curve from 2000-4500rpm, bags of grunt and it doesn’t weigh much’.


Terry Cornelius left and Greg Snape proudly show off their superb creativity and workmanship, KD-S nearly complete early in 2009 (Cornelius)

snape winton

Greg Snape samples the Kieft De Soto’s power upon its race debut at Winton Historics in May 2009 (unattributed)

‘I phoned Bill one night not long before he passed away, started it up and gave it a few revs over the phone. Victoria said he looked as happy as a kid in a sweet shop! Unfortunately whilst Cyril saw and sat in the F1 car he didn’t get to see the De Soto Kieft either’.

‘Bill passed away just before Terry and I finished the car about a week before its race debut at Historic Winton in 2009. Victoria was keen to fulfil Bill’s dream to reunite the two Kiefts at the Goodwood Revival in the UK, she shipped the car to the UK and I raced it at Donington Park and at the Goodwood Revival Meeting in September 2009′.

snape good wood

Snape contests the ‘Freddie March Memorial Trophy’ in 2009, KDS looks beautifully balanced and putting its power down nicely on turn-in  (unattributed)

‘Its really quick in a straight line, capable of 150mph and clocked at 132mph at Goodwood but the suspension needed more sorting. No big deal just spring/shock settings, the sort of stuff which would have been got right if the car was to be a racer rather than a roadie which occasionally does a meeting. It holds the road well. The brakes aren’t as good as the discs on the F1 car and also needed sorting in terms of balance and pad material, I think we were probably off its potential by around 5 seconds a lap.’


Snape in the Kieft, Eastern Creek, New South Wales (Bruce Moxon)

‘When the car came back to Australia we ran it at an HSRCA meeting at Eastern Creek, out to Sydney’s west.

It was a stinking hot weekend and the car started overheating after a few laps, it was a case of keeping an eye on the gauges and driving it accordingly’.

When I looked at the Kieft in Kyneton I was struck by the high standard of finish for a one-off, the leather seats were made by Greg’s wife Glenda. It has a full set of matching Smiths instruments for example. ‘Bill was apprenticed to Smiths originally so knew exactly what instruments were needed for the period inclusive of the lovely chronometric tach.’

‘For most of the project he was well enough to have lots of input into all of this detail stuff. The overall result is sensational to look at and even better to drive!, something which Victoria does often’, including regular drives from Lancefield to Kyneton as she did on the day I was lucky enough to see and hear the car…







Kieft Cars…

Click on this link for a great summary of the creativity of Cyril Kieft;




Winery, Tylden


ke front

ke wheel

ke rear

ke logo

ke profile

ke mirror

ky dump


ky sun

Kyneton Avenue of Honour shot on Anzac Day, ‘Lest We Forget’, 25 April 2016

Photo and other Credits…

Mark Bisset, Terry Cornelius, ‘The Border Mail’ newspaper, Bruce Moxon, Peter Delaney, Theo Page, John Ferguson

Special thanks to Greg Snape for the generosity of his time


ky shop 2

ke village


(Darrell Ingham)

Larry Perkins amidst the Le Mans forest finished 4th in the ’88 classic in this Jaguar XJR-9 V12…

The 7 litre car was co-driven by Kevin Cogan and Derek Daly finishing 11 laps behind the winning sister car of  Johnny Dumfries, Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace.


A story about the amazingly talented driver/engineer ‘Larrikins’ international career inclusive of F3, F1, F Pac and the occasional sportscar race is one for another time…


Darrell Ingham, Shane Lee



(Shane Lee)