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(VHRR Collection)

Murray Carter blasts his Carter Corvette sporty across the top of Mount Panorama in October 1961, just before the daunting drop into Skyline. The cars fuel injected, 5 litre, 300bhp V8 echoed between the eucalypt trees and into the valley below…

Its such a wonderful shot, he looks lean and lithe-he is only a little bloke, you can see the injection trumpets and ‘maggie’, sitting proud of the unpainted, aluminium bonnet fashioned by Murray’s own hands.

Murray was running 2nd in the 75 mile Australian Tourist Trophy on 1 October, behind Bib Stillwell’s 2.5 litre Cooper Monaco Climax and Frank Matich’s Jag D Type before retiring on lap 8 with diff failure in the 19 lap event. Look closely at the photo and you can see the smoke from a differential which is about to cry ‘enough’!

It was a classy field of great depth, the competitiveness of Murray’s self constructed car amongst the factory built Jags, Aston’s, Coopers, Maserati and Lotus’ clear; as was its top speed, 154mph down Conrod during practice! Stillwell won from Matich and Bob Janes Maserati 300S.

Carter has been around forever. Born in 1931, i thought he looked like an old codger at the first race meeting I attended, the 1972 Sandown Tasman round, the ignorance of a 14 year old. He raced his Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 3 at that meeting in the ‘South Pacific Touring Car Championship’, a series of races held throughout the Australian Tasman Rounds.

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Carter racing his Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 3 351 V8, at Hume Weir on the Boxing Day weekend in 1971, this is the car in which I first saw him race at Sandown a month or so later (Dick Simpson)

An out and out racer, he still runs a Corvette C5 in Victorian race meetings the car prepared in his Moorabbin workshop, in Melbourne’s southern bayside suburbs, where all of his cars have been built down the decades.

Murray raced other cars but for years was a Ford stalwart, never a factory driver but the recipient of plenty of assistance from Broadmeadows. He was no slouch either, 2nd in the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1975 in a Falcon GT 351 Coupe and 4th in 1980 in a similarly powered Ford Falcon XD, his best performances. At Bathurst his best finish was 3rd in 1978 in a Ford Falcon XC GT Coupe this time sharing with single-seater ace, Kiwi, Graeme Lawrence.

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Carter pictured in his Ford Falcon XB GT351 Hardtop/Coupe at Hell Corner, Bathurst in 1975. He was 2nd in the ATCC that year in this car, the title won by Colin Bond in a Holden Torana LH SLR5000/L34 5 litre V8. At Bathurst he shared his car with Ray Winter, a very quick F2 driver, Murray qualified the car 7th but DNF after only 53 laps. Brock and Brian Sampson, another driver who has raced until a road accident put paid to his racing, forever, won in an L34 Torana (unattributed)

Like so many drivers he started racing bikes, campaigning a Triumph Tiger 100 at circuits like Fishermans Bend in 1948, aged 17 before switching to cars with a Jaguar XK120.

In search of more speed but as a panel beater unable to afford a factory car he set forth to create a more competitive mount. His original intention was to build a mid-engined single-seater to compete in Gold Star events, Australia’s National Drivers Championship, which was run to F Libre at the time.

Unable to locate a suitable transaxle to cope with the 283cid Chev’s power and torque, Murray placed the relatively light, small block Chev well back in his space frame chassis locating the 4 speed box behind it. He achieving 50/50 front/rear weight distribution that way.

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Murray aboard the car in its original single-seater form at Phillip Island in March 1960. The car was all but destroyed at this meeting after Murray and Bib Stillwell swapped contact. Note the Cooper wheels, vestigial body and short exhausts. Very simple-and fast. Spaceframe chassis, upper and lower wishbone front suspension with coil spring/damper and well located solid rear axle again with coil spring/dampers. Other car on the grid anyone? A Cooper Bristol perhaps? (autopics.com)

The car raced in chassis form with vestigial panels to support a race number at Fishermans Bend in October 1959. It was immediately competitive, even achieving 4th place in the Philiip Island Gold Star round, behind the Coopers in December 1959.

Back at Phillip Island in March 1960, he had an argument about local real estate with Bib Stillwell and came off second best, rolling the car and all but destroying it.

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Murray racing the Carter Corvette in a support event, at the international meeting held at Ballarat Airfield, Victoria in the summer of 1961, 12 February. Is that George Spanos’ Elfin Streamliner Coupe in the pits-he still owns that car 60 years later! The feature race, the Victorian Trophy was won by Dan Gurney from teammate Graham Hill, both in 2.5 litre BRM P48’s (autopics.com)

Looking at the plethora of Cooper T51’s coming into Australia and at the growth of sportscar racing, he decided to rebuild the car as a sportscar constructing the functional aluminium body himself. The Carter Corvette reappeared at in October 1960.

The car was immediately successful, winning races and holding lap records around the country.

When CAMS adopted Appendix K, GT Racing in Australia, Carter modified the car with vestigial coupe bodywork. Whilst it looked as ugly as sin it remained fast finishing the one race 1963 Australian GT Championship in 2nd place at Calder. The event was won by Bob Jane in his factory built LWT Jaguar E Type, a car acquired with rather a greater budget than Murray’s beast!

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Carter in the ‘orrible looking but fast Carter Corvette after the addition of a roof to allow it to comply with new regs introduced by the CAMS. Windscreen thought to be an FE or FC Holden rear window mounted upside down. The boy from Moorabbin was a clever improviser! (Dalton)

Eventually the car fell into disuse but still exists, wonderfully restored by the talented Lou Russo in 2007 or thereabouts, and driven by his son Michael in historic events. Meanwhile, Murray Carter, forever young at 86, races on…

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Carter pictured with one of his old ‘HO’s lovingly restored, in recent times. Car is the Phase 3 HO pictured above at Hume Weir, in its war paint carried during the 1972 Bathurst 500 in which Murray was 10th. Globe alloy wheels homologated not long before the ’72 500 made these beasts look a treat! (carcavalcade.com)

Credits…

VHRR website, Stephen Dalton Collection, Peter D’Abbs/autopics.com

John Medley ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’

Tailpiece: Bob Jane’s lightweight E Type leads the Carter Corvette at Calder…

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(Dalton)

 

 

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Comments
  1. Hoi Polloi says:

    Nice pics, as always, thanks!

  2. Stephen says:

    Mark, I’d say you’re on the right path with the Cooper Bristol behind the number 12 Corvette special at the March 1960 ‘Brabham’ Phillip Island meeting. It should be the Lukey car, David Piper (later of Ferrari fame) used.

    As for the wheels on the Corvette special, I think they are the Lukey copy of the Cooper rose petal style wheel.

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Stephen,
      Looking at the ORC results there were an incredible number of DNS in the feature ‘Repco Trophy’ including Carter and Piper-I didn’t realise he raced in Oz in period.
      As to the Lukey made wheels did Len have jigs and casting patterns to make most Coopers?! T23, 43 and 51?
      Mark

  3. Stephen says:

    Mark, Len Lukey setup a little sideline from his muffler business to make ‘Cooper’ style racing cars. Hence how the likes of Jack French’s Faux Pas and the Laurie Whitehead ‘Cooper’ Porsche came to life.
    The wheels were cast and machined at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.
    A feature of this appears in Jan 59 AMS.
    Of course, with Lukey Mufflers being in Highett, they weren’t far from Murray’s set up.

    • markbisset says:

      Interesting, I’ve seen an ad in one of the AMS Martin Stubbs sourced for me of the chassis and other bits and pieces Len was flogging.
      I know there is the odd Cooper chassis jig around in Oz but did Len’s bunch of goodies stay together or was it dispersed over the years?
      Would you mind forwarding the feature to which you refer in AMS, that will help round out the article on him I am writing?
      Presumably the Coopers had a relaxed attitude about folks ‘knocking off’ their IP?!
      Bloody colonials!
      Mark

  4. Rob says:

    Mark,

    Great article!

    I wonder if the two “GT” photos are actually from the 1963 Australian GT Championship. I think I have only ever seen one photo from that race before. Any thoughts?

    I would say that the photo of “the car in its original single-seater form at Phillip Island in March 1963” would be from an earlier date as it was converted into a sports car some years before then.

    Cheers,

    Rob.

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Rob,
      It was a fun one to write, the car in its restored form runs in historic events reasonably often. I always smile whenever I see it.
      The ’63 Phillip Island date was a typo, the text was right I just fluffed the caption, thanks for picking it up.
      The two Calder shots are Stephen Dalton’s, I’ll ask him but I don’t think they are that ’63 one race Aust GT Championship.
      I see in the blogosphere that Bobs Lwt has just changed hands for Oz $9.7 million or something similarly insane! Jano raced some seriously wonderful cars, didn’t he? I’ve lost track of those he still owns.
      I think still the McLaren M6 Repco, Ralt RT4 that Prost won the 1982 AGP and Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A. Plus the Camaro-there may be more, I’ve lost track!
      Mark
      https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23945/lot/24/

  5. Stephen says:

    Prior to me posting the 2 Carter Corvette photos on TNF, the best I could establish is that the photos are from the December 8, 1963 Calder meeting that had the (as written in the programme) Event 7 GT Scratch, Australian Championship 20 laps. Well that was the intended length, but the organisers chopped it back to just 10 laps, pretty much through the lack of ‘talent’ in the entry list. It was all over in under 9 minutes.
    Bob won on debut of the Lwt E Type, Murray was second and Bill Jane driving his brother’s 1st (red) E Type was third.
    The event date stated here is correct, despite what you may have recently seen on TNF about the Lwt E Type

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