(SLWA)

What’s it like out there Don? How’d the McLaren go…TV news interview for Don O’Sullivan aboard his McLaren M18 Repco Holden F5000 after winning the West Australian Road Racing Championship at Wanneroo Park on 7 May 1972.

O’Sullivan won the 35 lap race from John Harvey’s Bob Jane owned Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre, Bob Ilich in a Brabham BT21B Cosworth SCB 1.5 and Bernie Zampatti’s ZX5 Ford.

Don O’Sullivan is a very successful Perth businessman who mixed a racing career in amongst his property development and road car sales ‘The Chequered Flag’ enterprises. He commenced racing in the early sixties in Western Australia and quickly progressed through a couple of Tasman Cooper Climaxes and was soon racing a Lola T70 Chev.

image

Don O’Sullivan in the hi-winged Matich SR3 Repco ahead of Niel Allen’s Elfin 400 Chev at Warwick Farm in early 1969 (oldracephotos.com/D Simpson)

At elite level in 1968 he raced one of Frank Matich’s Matich SR3 Repco’s and then switched to single-seaters racing several McLaren F5000’s.

The first was an M10A acquired from Matich. Having written that off at Teretonga in early 1971 he bought a new M18 to which a Repco Holden engine was fitted by his ace engineer/mechanic Jaime Gard. This car was raced into 1973.

Don and Jaime then decided to build a 5 litre sportscar and F5000, they therefore acquired an M18/22 Chev from Trojan Cars in the UK as a donor vehicle. But upon close inspection when it arrived in Perth, the M18/22 was of specification than their low mileage M18 so they decided to race the M18/22 Chev and use the M18 as a parts carb for their Gardos Sportscar and Gardos F5000 car. Goddit?! This was all achieved between early 1971 and early 1974!

This is the tale of these F5000 cars and the Gardos Sports.

It was all relatively complex until the story was unravelled bit by bit online on various forums by a swag of F5000 enthusiasts. The shared knowledge was then encapsulated in individual car chassis histories on Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com website. Fifty percent of my articles use oldracingcars as a primary research source, have a fossick on the site if you have not done so, you will be lost for days if not weeks.

Here we go, come back here to the summary if you get confused or lost!

image

Frank Matich at the Thomson Road Course, Singapore GP weekend in 1970- FM destroyed the M10A Chev chassis in a preliminary race accident (E Solomon)

McLaren M10A ‘300-10’ Chev/Repco Holden…

This car, first owned by Frank Matich was the first ‘real F5000’ imported into and raced in Australia. So confident was FM of the CAMS introducing F5000 to succeed the long-lived and much loved Tasman 2.5 Formula as Australia’s next ANF1 that he acquired the car well in advance of that vexed, to say the least, choice between between 2 litre and 5 litre options.

The car arrived in August 1969 and was quickly developed to M10B specs by engineer/mechanic Derek Kneller and FM. Kneller arrived from McLaren the week after the M10A arrived in Australia, fresh from building Peter Gethin’s M10B- the first such chassis built at McLaren, so was eminently qualified to make the modifications from A to B specs. See my Matich F5000 for more details on this car and the modifications made to it.

image

Ian Messner and Jaime Gard tending to O’Sullivan’s M10A Repco with the Matich M10B Repco alongside, Teretonga 1971 (I Messner)

The car was very successful, taking four poles and wins at Pukekohe and Wigram during the 1970 Tasman Series. It was damaged in a preliminary race at the Singapore GP meeting in 1970 and was replaced by a new M10B to which the first Repco Holden F5000 V8 was fitted. This car won the 1970 AGP at Warwick Farm.

The M10A was repaired at the Matich workshop in Sydney, fitted with a Repco Holden F5000 V8, sold to O’Sullivan and entered as a Rothmans Team Matich entry during the 1971 Tasman.

image

Yes blokes its absolutely rooted! M10A ‘300-10’ at Christchurch Airport on the way back to Oz, 1971. No amount of work with adjustments to spring platforms will sort the car in time for Surfers! (I Messner)

Don was 12th in the opening round at Levin, 7th on the Wigram Airbase circuit and failed to finish the NZ GP at Pukekohe with half-shaft failure. During the early laps of the Teretonga round, O’Sullivan pitted to have the cars nose taped in place having hit Malcolm Guthrie’s Lola T192 up the chuff. He set off and crashed into an earth bank after an off at the Hairpin whilst waving another car through, bending the cars chassis but not injuring himself.

image

Another shot of  M10A ‘300-10’ @ Christchurch Airport RIP. The Matich M10B ‘400-10’ is already on the aircraft delivery trolley (I Messner)

As the photos post accident show the tub was destroyed, beyond economic repair so was scrapped, with all salvageable components removed from the tub back in Perth.

Some parts of  ‘300-10’ were used in the Gardos cars. We will come to these racers soon. The more immediate problem was acquisition of a replacement car for the ’71 season which was well underway. The first round of the Gold Star Series was at Lakeside, Queensland in June, a long way from Perth!

Wanneroo Park paddock, BP compound to be precise, 7 May 1972, McLaren M18 Repco, O’Sullivan’s red McLaren LT170 Chev (a fusion of Lola T70 and McLaren bits)  Bob Ilich yellow striped Brabham BT21B SCB (SLWA)

McLaren M18 ‘500-08’ Repco Holden…

Don and Jaime decided to acquire a new McLaren M18, the then current Trojan Cars built, customer F5000 McLaren.

The car first appeared at Wanneroo Park during the WA Touring Car Championship meeting on 19 September 1971, failing to finish.

The M18 was designed for the Chev V8 to be used as a stressed member, the major difference between it and the very successful M10B.

In the M10A and M10 B the engine/’box were attached to the full monocoque chassis which extended beyond the drivers bulkhead, where the tub of the M18 ended, to the rear of the car. Have a look at the photos of the M10A monocoque in the Teretonga shots and the M18 below to appreciate the differences between the two chassis.

‘500-08’ was adapted by Jaime Gard to fit Don’s Repco Holden F5000 V8 out of the M10A, with the engine, unstressed, supported by a steel A-frame which extended from the rear of the monocoque to the DG300 gearbox bellhousing.

image

M18 rear shot sans DG300 Hewland. Repco Holden F5000 circa 480bhp V8. You can see how the tub ends at the drivers seat bulkhead, and the A-frame supporting the engine which attaches to the rear of the tub and the bellhousing. Clutch twin plate Borg and Beck? (J Bondini)

The excellent detail photos of the car above and below were taken at Repco’s Maidstone factory in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. Redco Pty. Ltd built the Repco Holden F5000 engines here and Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. the F1/Tasman/Indy/Sportscar series of motors from 1966-1970.  Others of this series of shots are included at this articles end for M18 fans.

In essence the M18 was underdeveloped at the seasons outset in Europe and was eclipsed by the Surtees TS8, Lola T192 and the quickest of the M10B’s which had been extensively developed in Europe, North America, South Africa and Australasia. The M10B was one of THE great production racing cars.

O’Sullivan’s racing programs were always sporadic, doubtless fitted in amongst business commitments and pressures, in addition Perth is a long way from the eastern seaboard circuits, trips east a major undertaking.

The M18’s first national event was at the 11 October 1971 Mallala, South Australia Gold Star round (DNS, oil leak) in the first race win for the Elfin MR5 Repco, John McCormack the driver on that occasion.

Jaime then towed the car to Sydney where Don raced at the Warwick Farm Australian AGP on 21 November. He qualified 13th in a field of depth and crashed out of the race on lap 21. His colleague, Frank Matich, won that day aboard the brand new Matich A50 Repco in a splendid display of dominance ‘out of the box’.

These shots of the M18 Repco at Repco’s Maidstone factory for an engine freshen or swap on one of the cars few sojourns east. Messy rear- dry sump oil and catch tank and Varley battery to its right. HQ Holden Monaro to the side  (Jay Bondini)

M18 a bit wedgier in the body than M10B but still related to the 1968 F1 M7A . HD Holden Wagon @ rear (Jay Bondini) 

image

Front suspension detail: wide based lower wishbone, top link and rear facing arm, Koni shocks, coil springs, adjustable roll bar, Lockheed calipers and Aeroquip lines. Nice (J Bondini)

Into 1972 the car raced at the Motorama TT meeting at Wanneroo Park in April for 2 wins. Howie Sangster, later to race both the M18 and M22 McLarens was at this stage regularly racing, and had been for some time, Don’s McLaren LT170 Chev sportscar. That car, an amalgam of Lola T70 and McLaren componentry is a story in itself for another time!

A month later Don won the West Australian Road Racing Championship in the car, that meeting is the one featured in the opening photograph of this article.

The M18 raced in Queensland, at the Surfers Paradise Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy Gold Star round in 1972 and was by that stage said to be updated to M22 spec, still Repco powered but from this point is described as a M18/22. (It is still listed as an M18 in Western Australian records mind you in ‘Terry Walkers Place’)

The car was entered at the Symmons Plains Gold Star round in Tasmania but did not arrive. Perth and Launceston are two ends of the country after all! O’Sullivan raced the car in the Adelaide Gold Star round on his way back to Perth in October for a DNF with handling problems.

Warwick Brown McLaren M10B Chev ahead of Howie Sangster McLaren M18 Repco, Warwick Farm Hordern Trophy Gold Star round, late 1972 (Wirra)

Howie Sangster raced the car for Don at Warwick Farm in the November 1972 Hordern Trophy. He qualified 8th on the technically demanding circuit but DNS for undisclosed reasons.

The car was not entered for the ’73 Tasman but raced in some local meetings at Wanneroo Park in 1973- the first was the Sterling City Speed Classic in March with O’Sullivan taking two wins. At the Autumn Cup meeting in April he again took two wins.

By the time of the WA Racing Car Championships in the Spring Carnival meeting on 16 September O’Sullivan had bought the later ex-Redman/Hobbs/Teddy Pillette VDS McLaren M18/22 Chev. He won the championship in the M22 Chev.

Hobbs, McLaren M18/22 ‘500-01) Chev, Warwick Farm, Esses,  Tasman Series 1972 DNF water temp, race won by Frank Matich, Matich A50 Repco (R MacKenzie)

McLaren M18/22 ‘500-01’ Chev…

Into 1972 it was pretty clear the F5000 way to go was Lola, the T300 and McRae GM2 were the ‘ducks guts’ cars, mind you a Matich bought from Don’s old mate from Sydney would have been a credible choice!

But Don and Jaime had plans to build both a sportscar and an F5000 machine and they had plenty of McLaren componentry already so they started to look at cars for sale. The ex-works McLaren M18/22 ‘500-01’ being offered by Trojan Cars was well known to the Perth boys as the car was raced with some success in the 1972 Tasman Series by David Hobbs. Hobbs won the final round of the series at Adelaide International in it.

It was Gard’s intention to use the M22 ‘500-01’ as the donor components car for the Gardos Sportscar but when the pair landed the it in Perth they soon appreciated that the M22 was a more advanced design than their low miles customer M18 ‘500-08’.

On that basis they decided to keep intact the M22 Chev as their F5000 weapon until their proposed Gardos F5000 car was built and use the bits of the M18 for the Gardos Sports, the build of which is covered later in this article.

image

Gardos Repco Sports in the Phillip Island paddock during the Australian Sportscar Championship meeting in November 1975. M8D design such a sexy beast! By now ‘McLaren’ is writ large on the Gardos’ nose (M Bisset)

The Gardos Sports was built by Gard and his team in Perth to McLaren M8D drawings but using much of the F5000 M18 hardware rather than the usual Can Am kit used by Trojan and McLaren in their customer/works Can Am cars. Powered by a Repco Holden F5000 engine and using a DG300 Hewland gearbox, it was first raced by Don at Wanneroo Park during the 6 May 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship meeting.

The timeline here is interesting, for historians at least!

The last race for the M18 was at the Wanneroo Autumn Cup meeting on 8 April 1973.  The first race for the Gardos Sports, which used much of the M18 componentry, was at Wanneroo Park on 6 May 1973. Clearly, given the foregoing, the Gardos Sports was completed between those two dates, with critical bits of the M18 removed from that chassis and fitted to the all but complete Gardos Sports. The chassis of the M18 was not used in the Gardos Sports project, but was put to one side for later use in the build of what became the Gardos OR2 F5000.

Several months later, after the Gardos Sports debut, O’Sullivan was 3 seconds a lap quicker in practice for the Australian Sportscar Championship round held at Wanneroo on 14 August.

He DNF’d having qualified equal 3rd, the race won by Lionel Ayers’ Rennmax Repco V8- that car powered by a Repco Brabham Engines 760 series 5 litre SOHC engine.

David Hobbs, McLaren M18/22 ‘500-01’ Chev, in the form up area, Sandown Tasman 1972. 3rd in the race won by Graham McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev (stupix)

Lets now go back to McLaren M18/22 ‘500-01’, a McLaren works built car, not a Trojan customer car. It would be rather a nice thing to have as you will see!

During 1971 Brian Redman, Peter Gethin, Derek Bell and Reine Wisell raced it entered by Sid Taylor Racing.The car was then returned to Colnbrook, where McLaren updated it as the prototype M22. It was then raced by Hobbs in Australasia. The chassis was returned to the UK and formed the basis of the first ‘real’ M22 which was raced by Teddy Pilette until May when it was replaced by the first Trojan built production M22.

The car was then sold to O’Sullivan as noted above and first raced at Wanneroo in the 16 September 1973 ‘Spring Carnival’ meeting winning the WA Racing Car Championship, as he had done in the M18 Repco the year before.

O’Sullivan and Sangster shared the M22 races in the Cancer Crusade Classic at Wanneroo on 21 October with Don taking one victory and Howie two.

Sangster then drove the car in the AGP at Sandown on 4 November, the meeting in WA gave him valuable seat time in advance of his drive . In fact, in Melbourne, having attended the meeting, the car looked wonderful in a fresh coat of ‘O’Sullivan Dark Blue’, with Howie doing a very good job on the unfamiliar, fast circuit with a strong, reliable 4th from grid 6. Graham McRae won the race in his almost brand new, jet black, McLaren M23 like McRae GM2 Chev. My god that car looked great! I think the GM2 had one race in the UK before being shipped from the Poole factory to Melbourne and a win.

The final round of the 1973 Gold Star was a couple of weeks after Sandown, also in Victoria at Phillip Island on 25 November, so the West Australians raced the M22 there before heading home to the West. Howie retired with throttle problems, again qualifying well in 6th – on this fast, demanding, technical circuit it was a good showing. In fact it’s a shame Sangster’s career did not advance further after O’Sullivan’s closure of his team, there are enough flashes of speed to indicate plenty of talent in the guy.

The M22 was not raced again by the O’Sullivan team who by that stage were well into the build of their new Gardos OR2 Repco Holden F5000 which they planned to run in the 1974 Tasman Series.

As a result the M22 was offered for sale and eventually sold to Adelaide’s Chris Milton, the talented engineer/driver ran it in the ’75 Tasman, ’76 Australian Internationals and into later 1976.

After Milton started to drive the Gardos OR2 several years later, the M22 was sold to Melbourne sportscar exponent Alan Newton who raced it in a couple of rounds of the 1978 Australian International Series, before being out to one side. All these decades later he still has it!

M18/22 ‘500-01’ would be a very nice jigger to own given it’s a factory built McLaren and the large number of pilots of international calibre who sat in its tight fitting cockpit!

image

Keith Poole testing the just reassembled Gardos OR2 Repco at Adelaide International Raceway in February 1976 (K Pedler)

Gardos OR2 Repco Holden…

Whilst Howie Sangster raced the new McLaren M22 Jaime Gard was busy in Perth building Don his new F5000 car using some of the components of the M18. The new car made its debut at the Adelaide Tasman round, the last of the series in February 1974.

The aerodynamic direction of racing cars at the time was ‘up in the air’, there were as many practitioners of the Lotus 72 chisel nose/side radiator school as the Tyrrell bluff nose approach. Examples of the former in F5000 at the time include the Lola T330/332, Matich A53 and of the latter the Chevron B24/B28 and Elfin MR5.

Jaime decided on the chisel nose/side radiator approach for his new car, the aluminium monocoque used the M18 bulkheads, which were slightly modified and in typical F5000 style ended at the bulkhead behind the driver with a steel sub-frame carrying the Repco Holden engine as an unstressed member.

image

Keith Poole and David Craig assembling Gardos OR2 in Adelaide in early 1976. Monocoque chassis bespoke by Jaime Gard but used M18 bulkheads. Suspension geometry different to M18 but used M18 uprights. Note rear/side radiator and Repco Holden, Lucas injected V8 (K Pedler)

They had a choice of engines of course, and stuck with the Repco Holden F5000 unit. A logical choice at the time- the Perth guys were not to know Repco were only months away from withdrawing from motor racing. But in late 1973 their engines were as good as any, Matich had shown the power of the latest Repco flat-plane crank unit was equal to the best Chevs circa 525bhp to be precise, with the big, fat mid range torque the Repco’s were always renowned for a bonus.

Gard revised the suspension geometry of the car, but used M18 uprights. The car was utterly conventional with upper and lower wishbones at the front and multi-link at the rear- single top link, twin lower links and two radius rods for fore and aft location. Coil springs and Koni shocks were used as of course were adjustable roll bars. The steering rack was from the M18.

image

Gardos OR2 pretty as a picture, ready for the off at AIR in early 1976. Airbox off the M18/22 at a guess (K Pedler)

The sad part about the Gardos is that it raced so little ‘in its prime’, that is when first built.

When completed the car was tested at Wanneroo and then entered in the last 1974 Tasman round at Adelaide International Raceway. Howie Sangster raced it qualifying 14th only 1.6 seconds slower than Max Stewart’s 49.7 second pole time in his Lola T330 Chev. He finished, albeit with only 41 laps to his credit with no doubt a range of teething problems.

And that was it for the Gardos under O’ Sullivan’s ownership.

The car languished through the rest of 1974 and 1975- not raced locally either before being sold to David Craig of C & C Autos in Adelaide.

Craig acquired both cars- the OR2 F5000 and Gardos Sportscar- Keith Poole, a local motor engineer and Formula Vee champion stepped up to the plate to race both, 5 litre 500 bhp cars! The OR2 was reassembled by K&A Engineering in Adelaide with Jaime Gard doing the final suspension setup for testing.

Chris Milton in the Gardos OR2 Repco ahead of John Leffler Lola T400 Chev and Alfia Costanzo Lola T332C Chev, Sandown 1977 (I Smith)

The team missed the first round of the 1976 Internationals at Oran Park but Keith qualified the car a strong 9th at his home track and finished 7th in a race of attrition. At Sandown he was 12th on the grid and blew a welsh plug, non-starting the final round at Surfers Paradise.

He was 2nd to Paul England in the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Collingrove, in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

The car was unraced in the 1976 Gold Star but Chris Milton leased it to contest the 1977 Internationals, the same fellow who had acquired the M22 ‘500-01’ several years before. Later in 1977, Milton bought a Lola T330/2.

Barry Singleton, Gardos OR2 Repco at Oran Park in 1979. Note the ground effect tunnels and skirts as per text (G Russell)

Craig then sold the Gardos to Queenslander Barry Singleton, who had it rebuilt by Kaditcha’s Barry Lock in Queensland following fire damage which occurred at C&C. It was remodelled by Lock more than once during Singleton’s ownership, eventually having ground-effect sidepods fitted.

Singleton raced the Gardos at Surfers Paradise during the 1979 Rothmans International series and then crashed it at Oran Park. He was sixth at the Australian Grand Prix at Wanneroo Park in March. The car next appeared in June 1980. (a DNS at Lakeside) He was an early retirement from the November 1980 Australian GP at Calder Park- the race run to F1 and F5000 regs won by Alan Jones Williams FW07 Ford GP car.

He put in one last appearance in Sep 1981 at Sandown Park but finished last as F5000 just spluttered along- Formula Pacific was by then Australia’s ANF1.

Singleton then sold the Gardos to Bob Minogue, who sold it on to Brian Sampson. Then Peter Roach, previously the owner of a Matich A50 bought it in the late-eighties and sold it in 1992 to Graham McMinn, who had the chassis rebuilt by Brian Shead of Cheetah fame in Mordialloc, Melbourne before selling to Max Warwick in 1997. In 2001, it was sold again to Chris Watson in NZ and has in recent times joined the healthy Kiwi F5000 Historic grids. Which is great to see it finally reappear.

Gardos Repco Holden Sportscar…

Barry Singleton in the Gardos Repco Sports ahead of Paul Gibson, Rennmax Repco at Amaroo Park in the late seventies (G Russell)

Just to recap the story earlier in this article. Don and Jaime planned to build a sportscar to Australia’s 5 litre limit and acquired the M18/22 ‘500-01’ as a donor car. When the car arrived it was clear to the enterprising West Australians that it was of later spec than their M18- so it was decided that it would be the parts car. The Gardos Sports was to be powered by one of the teams Repco Holden F5000 V8’s, the transmission a Hewland DG300 gearbox.

There was the vexed issue of the design of the car of course.

Depending upon the account, the blueprints to the 1970 Can Am McLaren M8D Chev were provided to the Perth lads to build a car under licence. Peter Agg’s version, the owner of Trojan Cars is that the plans were ‘sneaked out of the factory’. That is, he was not aware of it and no fee was paid. It is not difficult to imagine the Aussies suggesting they should have the blueprints flicked their way given what great customers they had been over the years. And they had been loyal McLaren dudes for quite some while- I certainly would have argued the case that way.

In any event the blueprints/drawings to the McLaren were obtained, the car was built by Gard and his team in Perth and fitted with M18 parts wherever possible. Engine, gearbox, suspension corners inclusive of brakes and wheels all came from the M18. Most of the bare tub of the M18 was consumed in the build of the OR2 F5000 inclusive of its bulkheads, which, modified, were used in OR2 as already related.

The Gardos Sports looked superb when completed, as McLaren M8D’s do!

image

Gardos Repco Sports in the Amaroo Park paddock during Barry Singleton’s ownership (G Russell)

It was first raced at the Australian Touring Car Championship meeting at Wanneroo Park on 6 May 1973 entered as ‘Gardos’ in the program. Not Gardos Repco, not McLaren M8D Repco but Gardos. This may seem arcane, but the point will become clear in discussing its subsequent re-birthing in the USA. Driven by O’Sullivan the car failed to complete the 10 lap sportscar race, his best time was 62.2 seconds, a good first up effort.

At the 12 August Wanneroo meeting the feature event was the fourth round of the Australian Sportscar Championship won by Lionel Ayers Rennmax Repco V8 with O’Sullivan, the car again entered simply as ‘Gardos’ DNF. Henry Michell, Elfin 360 Repco was 2nd and local lad Stuart Kostera 3rd in an old but quick Matich SR3 Ford. O’Sullivan’s best lap of 59.6 seconds was right up at the pointy end for what was still a very new car.

And that appears to be it for the Gardos in the O’Sullivan teams hands. The team raced their F5000’s and much earlier McLaren LT170 Chev sportscar in WA meetings during the rest of 1973 but did not race the Gardos, it would be intriguing to know why.

The car was potentially a winner of the 1974 Australian Sportscar Championship had the Perth guys been able to commit to a national program. Henry Michell won it in a season of reliability in his Elfin 360 Repco 2.5 V8, without winning a round.

Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MS7 appeared mid-season and won two rounds and shifted the local sportscar goalposts but potentially the Perthies may have had a win or two on board by the time the MS7 hit Adelaide International where Garrie first tested and raced it in August. Lionel Ayers Rennmax Repco V8 5 litre was the other outright contender that year and winner of two of the four rounds.

image

Rear happy, crappy Kodak Instamatic shot of the rear of the Gardos Sports at Phillip Island in November 1975 (M Bisset)

By 1975 the Gardos Sports peak had passed, Cooper was on top of his game with the superb Elfin, the best Australian sportscar of the era.

Other than the Gardos OR2 Repco F5000 debut at Adelaide International in early 1974 neither O’Sullivan or Sangster raced any of the team cars throughout 1974. Both Gardos cars, as related earlier were sold to C&C Autos in 1975 when O’Sullivan withdrew from the sport.

Poole raced the Gardos Sports locally in South Australia and contested the one race 1975 Australian Sportscar Championship at Phillip Island that November. Garrie Cooper won the race in his Elfin MS7 Repco Holden from Henry Michell’s Elfin 360 Repco and Fred Gibson’s Alfa Australia Alfa Romeo T33 V8 Coupe with Keith a DNF.

The other main race at the ‘Island was the final round of the Australian F2 Championship won by Geoff Brabham in a Birrana 274 Hart. He took both the round and the title, I can well recall an excited conversation with the likeable bloke in the paddock after his win. And then off to Europe he went, Ralt RT1 Toyota F3 in 1976.

By then the bodywork of the Gardos proclaimed ‘McLaren’ on its nose- which is of course far sexier than ‘Gardos’. It seems to me the name of the car is rightly Gardos Sports Repco or Gardos McLaren Repco, but of course that does not ‘gas up’ its commercial value, even if it is factually correct.

Both Gardos cars, OR2 F5000 and Sports were sold to Barry Singleton in Queensland who raced them a lot and did them justice.

image

Gardos Sports cockpit, complete with McLaren steering wheel, and an array of Smiths instruments, at Phillip Island in November 1975. Shift lever and linkage is attached to a DG300 Hewland ‘box (M Bisset)

Eventually the Gardos Repco Sports found its way to the US and into the Matthews Collection but the car now tagged ‘M8D G’ (Gardos) owes nothing at all to its specifications as built by Gard in Perth.

As built the car had a Repco Holden F5000 engine, it now has a Big Block ally ZL1 Chev. As built the car had a DG300 Hewland, it now has an LG600. As built the car had M18 suspension, brake and wheel componentry. The car was rebuilt to full M8D spec sometime in 1993/4, with all the M18 pieces removed and replaced by sportscar bits. Owners of cars can do what they like of course- I’ve no issue with that.

In the early nineties the car was passed off as a ‘real M8D’ but nowadays it is said to be accepted for what it is- that is, as I have depicted the cars history and its conversion in the US to a car of M8D ‘full specification’. The Matthews Collection’s attempt at documenting the cars origins on its website is incomplete and inaccurate. There are 21 modern photos of the car in 1970 works papaya colours. None are of the car in Australia in period. Why let history get in the way of a good story after all?

Etcetera: Repco Maidstone McLaren M18 Repco ‘500-08’ shots…

As as related earlier the shots below are the balance of those taken by Jay Bondini at Repco, Maidstone. Rare, detail period shots for McLaren F5000 nutters of whom I am one!

image

(J Bondini)

image

Conventional rear suspension- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, coil spring/damper, twin radius rods, mag alloy uprights. DG300 Hewland 5 speed ‘box, note oil dry-sump tank and catch tank. Varley battery plonked up high (J Bondini)

image

Comments as per previous shot (J Bondini)

image

Repco Holden Lucas injected F5000 V8 engine, circa 480 bhp @ this stage for a ‘customer’ engine. Matich motors had a bit more. Aeroquip brakeline running atop top radius rod (J Bondini)

image

The McLaren F5000 tubs of this period are all related in design to the 1968 F1 M7A- M10A, M10B, M18 and M22. Note ‘A-frame’ to carry the engine as per text, wheels 13 inch in diameter (J Bondini)

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, Terry Walkers Place, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Ors, The Nostalgia Forum especially the contributions of Duncan Fox and Ray Bell

Photo Credits…

State Library of Western Australia, oldracingcars.com, Eli Solomon, Jay Bondini, Neil Stratton, Geoff Russell, Stupix, Rod MacKenzie, Ian Smith, Kym Pedler, Ian Messner, Wirra

Tailpiece: O’Sullivan cruisin’ the Wanneroo Paddock in the M18 Repco…

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s