Archive for December, 2017

James Garner is fitted to a Jim Russell Racing Drivers School Formula 3 car on 14 April 1966…

Jim Russell supervises ‘Pete Aron’s’ preparation for some laps at Snetterton. I wonder exactly what make and model it is?!

The business end of the iconic film ‘Grand Prix’ is about to get underway, the race scenes were filmed, famously, during the 1966 Grand Prix season.

Garner is sharpening his driving skills to cope with the in-car rigours of his role as Peter Aron. Of course he rather enjoyed it all didn’t he, becoming a racer and an entrant of some note.

Garner’s ‘American International Racing’ Lola T70 Mk3B Chev finished second in the 1969 Sebring 12 Hour driven by Ed Leslie and Lothar Motschenbacher behind the winning Penske T70 of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons.

By the time these shots were taken in the UK Garner had already done quite a lot of driving under the tutelage of Bob Bondurant in the US, but I wonder if the JRRDS laps were his first in single-seaters?

The ‘Tailpiece’ workshop shot below is on-location at the Cooper, Surbiton, Surrey factory. ‘Pete’ is sitting aboard his Japanese Yamura car which looks rather suspiciously like a Lotus 25 Coventry Climax, the cam-covers of the little 1.5 litre FWMV V8 are removed.

What a film! I wrote a short piece about it ages ago, click here if you’ve not read it, its focus is on Francoise Hardy;

https://primotipo.com/2014/10/17/francoise-hardy-on-the-set-of-grand-prix-1966/

Photo Credits…

Jim Gray, Evening Standard, J Wilds

Tailpiece: Pete being fitted to his Yamura F1 car, July 1966…

The on-circuit shots of the Yamura were of Bruce McLarens 1966 F1 contender, the McLaren M2B that year fitted with Ford, Serennissima and BRM engines. The contract was a nice little earner in the team’s first year in Gee Pee racing. Aron’s helmet design was Chris Amon’s sans the Kiwi logo. Checkout this really interesting article about McLaren’s involvement in the film on mclaren.com;

http://www.mclaren.com/formula1/heritage/action-mclaren-at-the-movies-6114785/

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(K Harris)

The Northern Territory entered Jaguar Mk7 of B Kingston and a Holden 48-215 line up for fuel at Bonds Chalet, Alice Springs during the 1953 Redex Round Australia Trial on 9/10 September…

It’s a quintessential Alice Springs scene, the red-brown parched soil and mid-green eucalypts framed in the distance by the MacDonell Ranges. Most of us of a certain age attended Primary Schools with artwork by Albert Namatjira, in these hues, hanging on the classroom walls.

Adelaide based Bonds Bus Tours provided ‘Parc Ferme’ and refuelling facilities for the rally in Alice Springs. These amazing photos were taken by a longtime employee, Kevin Harris. Rolled gold they are too, even though they are of the cars at rest, with one exception.

The post-war pent-up demand for entertainment, in those much simpler times was massive. Bouyed by an economy which was starting to boom, Australians turned out in their thousands to watch the progress of the 187 participants in the 1953 Redex Round Australia Trial.

In part it was because most roads west of Adelaide were challenging to say the least. The fact that the rules provided that cars were largely unmodified meant that the average man in the street could see how his car, or the one he aspired to own went created some interest. Cars were stock other than for underbody protection, carburettor, exhaust, lighting and instrument modifications.

Many of Australia’s better racing drivers competed, not that they were all household names by any stretch, but many were by the end of the decade in part due to their trial exploits in the years to come. The media, by the standards of the day provided massive coverage also fuelling the fire of public interest.

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Stan Jones Holden 48-215 and O Yates Austin A40 Atlantic, Stan a tough nut purpose built for an endurance event like this, even if his press-on style was not (K Harris)

Fifty thousand people lined the streets of Sydney from the start at the Sydney Showgrounds at Centennial Park on 30 August and lined the route through the major cities the circus traversed. Whilst the event was styled as a reliability trial it was effectively a race as we shall see. So there were plenty of acts of derring do and accidents aplenty.

Name drivers included ‘Gelignite Jack ‘Murray, the ‘Preston Holden Team’ of Holden 48-215’s driven by Lex Davison, Stan Jones and Charlie Dean. David McKay and ‘Curley’ Brydon ran Austin A40’s and Jack Brabham a Holden 48-215. Norman (father of Alan) Hamilton, the Porsche importer entered a 356, Frank Kleinig a Morris Minor. Jack Davey ran a Ford Customline- the popular radio show host broadcast on local radio stations along the route and had a can of hairspray in the glovebox to look his best at all times. Bill McLachlan ran a Customline, Don Gorringe a Jowett Javelin, Peter Antill, a trials ace raced a Plymouth with Eddie Perkins in a Rover 75, Laurie Whitehead ran a Citroen and John Crouch a Peugeot 203, Ken Tubman another.

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Norman Hamilton, Porsche 356, I wonder if this car still exists? (unattributed)

The entry included all of the above as well as an Allard, Vauxhall Velox, Mercedes 200D diesels, MG TD’s, De Soto, Humber Super Snipes and a swag of big, strong 1948 Ford V8’s. In addition were Peugeot 203, Jaguar Mk7, Chrysler Airflow, Hudson Terraplane, Ford Anglia, Zephyr and Consul, Singer 9, Simca, Vanguard, Hillman, Riley and so on!

It isn’t my plan to cover the trial in detail but rather to showcase the Kevin Harris  photographs taken during the Alice Springs stopover on September 9 and 19 1953. A summary of the trial, a heavily truncated version of a couple of other articles follows.

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B Gurdon Austin A40 and Lex Davison Holden 48-215- the ever versatile Victorian racer/businessman was quick in anything or any sort of event from Trials to GP cars (K Harris)

Ted Hoy’s Chrysler Airflow, car #1 later to play a critical part in the result of the event, was the first to leave the showgrounds at 2pm, the last to travel along Driver Avenue was a Queenslander, Miss J. Hill aboard a Renault 750 at 11.33pm.

150,000 people lined the streets through Sydney’s northern suburbs to Hornsby to watch the start of this amazing 6500 mile adventure, the second longest event of this type in the world at the time. The first breakdown was a Jaguar Mk7 which died near the Hawkesbury River only 52 Km from the start!

The leaders averaged about 50 mph (80 km/h) up the Pacific Highway to Brisbane, with mechanical failure taking points from some of the novices. The first bad accident happened near Gin Gin, when Patience/Binks hospitalised themselves after rolling their Ford V8 down an embankment.

The field didn’t strike unsealed roads until after clearing Rockhampton. The challenges began with corrugations, culverts, cattlegrids, washaways, dry creek beds and everything else the vast brown land could throw at them. McLachlan, one of the favourites, lost two hours 15 minutes with water pump failure on his Customline, but still made the Mackay control on time.

In 24 hours’ rest at Townsville, the organisers counted 177 cars in control with 128 clean-sheeters.

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The Antill Chrysler Plymouth, no idea where (unattributed)

At this point the trial stopped being a rally and became a road race.

Word went thru the field that the organisers had decided that if several crews reached Sydney without loss of points, their times on the TownsvilleMt. lsa and Alice SpringsAdelaide sections would decide the winner. They were given 16 hours to cover the 609 miles (980 km) from Townsville to lsa. It was ‘game on’ amongst the racers.

Peter Antill’s Plymouth was fastest with an incredible 13:22. The first car to reach Mt. Isa was Possum Kipling’s, 14 hours 12 minutes after leaving Townsville. He had to get the control officials out of bed, he was so early!

Behind him was a nightmare of crashed cars, irate police and horror stories. Half the field was spread across most of Queensland. Bill McLachlan was directed wrongly in the middle of the night and drove 136 miles (219 km) off course before getting back on the right road, only to hit a cattle grid that had been de-guttered by the field. Stan Jones hit the same grid.

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Bonds Alice Springs vista ( K Harris)

Bill Murray rolled his Plymouth, Hamilton’s Porsche hit a kangaroo and deranged its front suspension, driving the rest of the way into the Isa on the undertray. The last car, Anderson in a Skoda, staggered into town after a 24 hour 44 minute trip following a trail of wreckage

The next stage over bitumen to Darwin, was 1098 miles (1760 km) the average set at 44 mph (71 km/h). Antill hit a galah (indigenous bird) which took out his windscreen, his car already had a cracked chassis.

McLachlan had broken his Customline’s diff housing, but the medium-sized cars, like the Holden of Kipling, who was second into Darwin, and the Rover of Perkins, 3rd into control, were in good shape.

‘Wheels’ magazine in its report of the trial wrote: ‘The myth that the only car suited for Australian conditions was the large American vehicle had been exploded’.

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‘Parc ferme’ #114 Charlie Deans Holden 48-215, the master engineer taking time away from his Repco Research/Maybach race preparation duties but no doubt keeping some kind of eye on his driver S Jones Esq in one of the other ‘works’ Holdens. Stan very much one of the quickest guys in Australia at the time and stiff not to win the Australian Grand Prix in Maybach 1 that November with mechanical problems ( K Harris)

From Darwin 132 cars set out for an easy drive down the bitumen to Alice Springs  for servicing and repairs at Tennant Creek, then on to the Alice.

At Alice Springs the field stopped at Bonds facilities as shown in the photographs. The cars were scheduled in from 8.51am on Saturday the 9th, and out, commencing 12.01am on the 10th.

Of the 41 clean-sheeters who departed Darwin, 38 were there when the field lined up for 368 miles (592 km) of desert to Kingoonya.

This stretch was considered impossible to cover in less than 48 hours- the organisers had set a time of 15 hours 10 minutes. In addition the field were given only one hour’s rest at Kingoonya before despatch for the 424 mile (682 km) run to Adelaide, an an average of 42 mph (68 km/h).

Lex Davison arrived in Kingoonya in an unbelievable 13 hours 39 minutes. Second was Possum Kipling in another Holden in 14:10. Tom Sulman, prominent racer, was fastest in his Humber Super Snipe when he emerged from the desert and drove south to Adelaide.

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Magic scene, the Cusso framed between the truck wotizzit? and old Shell bowsers. Driver is S Levy, NSW (K Harris)

By Adelaide there were 11 clean-sheeters. Crews had to be lifted from their cars after up to 60 hours at the wheel without a break!

 The road had decimated the field, who limped in with hair-raising tales of tying up rear suspensions with tyre chains, living underground at the opal mining settlement of Coober Pedy, jamming coir matting into a broken front end to keep going and crew members going crazy from the dust and heat.

The field of 11 clean-sheeters who left Adelaide faced only bitumen roads through to the finish in Sydney via Melbourne. They were Davison, Kipling and Davies in Holdens, Perkins (Rover), Tubman (Peugeot), Sulman, Ken Robinson and Jack Masling (Humber Snipe), Antill (Plymouth), Nelson (Vanguard) and David McKay (Austin A40).

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HR Smith, Pug 203 from WA, no idea where the crossing is (unattributed)

The journey was easier given the sealed roads and by this stage the police were very stroppy ‘about the crazy high speeds’. As a consequence the organisers threw in a special section or stage to help break up the field.

An 11-mile (17.7 km) stock route was chosen between Marulan and Bowral in NSW, part of a 30-miles (48 km) long elimination section which included a flooded river crossing, Paddy’s River. It was a metre deep with several cars being washed downstream.

Some drivers stopped and fitted protection in front of the radiator before entering the water, but the winner of the event, Ken Tubman was one who elected to drive right through. He stalled, but the 203’s engine restarted.

The Paddy’s River crossing and the strange action of Hoy, the man who had retired his Airflow at Mount Isa, got bogged, with the whole field held up for at least 30 minutes. The drivers naturally tried anything to get around him and save points.

No-one is quite sure what happened to whom or who set up the stage. The contest was so tight it took five hours for the Australian Sporting Car Club to work out that 37 year old Ken Tubman and his navigator, John Marshall won in their Peugeot 203 by 25 seconds from the Robinson Humber Super Snipe- 25 seconds after 10,500 kilometres of murderous country!

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Ken Tubman and John Marshall take the chequered flag in Sydney. Results not announced until some 5 hours later. Peugeot 203 (unattributed)

In one of those ‘Win On Sunday, Sell on Monday’ moments the victory caused a sales rush on Peugeots- every new Pug in the country was sold within a week.

The first Redex Trial went down in the annals of Australian automotive history as one of the harshest long-distance events ever run. It had everything- characters, heroes, bravery, stupidity, crashes, ingenuity and mayhem!

Off the back of its 1953 success, 31 203’s were entered in the 1954 Redex, that year won by Jack Murray’s Ford. Ken Tubman competed in rallies well into his sixties winning a re-run of the trial from ‘Gelignite Jack’ Murray in 1974. He also took part in a 1983 anniversary re-run in a Peugeot 505. He died at his Maitland, NSW home in May 1993.

Bibliography…

Redex.ru, Unique Cars and Parts

Photo Credits…

Kevin Harris

Tailpiece: End where we started with the Kingston Jag Mk7, here  lifting its skirts as it leaves Alice Springs…

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Reg Hunt, second from right, and his band of merry men fettle his Maserati A6GCM at his 182 Brighton Road, Elsternwick, Melbourne car dealership prior to the late March, Moomba races in 1955…

The car is being readied for the Labour Day long weekend, Moomba Races at Albert Park in which Reg did rather well. He won the Saturday 50 mile ‘Argus Cup’ from Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C and Ted Gray’s Tornado Ford V8. On the Sunday he won the first heat of the ‘Argus Trophy’ and was well ahead in the 100 mile final when the Masers crown wheel and pinion failed, giving the win to Whiteford.

Otto Stone, racer/engineer looked after this car, it appears a few ‘technicians’ have been grabbed from Reg’s dealership workshop for this photo taken by the crew of  ‘The Argus’ newspaper. The publication was a major sponsor of the race meeting as reflected in the silverware won by Reg, no doubt they published an article encouraging the crowds to come and see the ‘KLG Maserati, the fastest car in Australia’.

I’ve written several articles about this very fast and supremely talented English born Australian racer/businessman who retired way too early. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/;

and here, the ’56 Argus Trophy; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/01/1956-argus-trophy-albert-park-reg-hunt-and-lex-davison-maserati-250f-and-a6gcm-ferrari-tipo-500/

there’s more- the ’55 AGP @ Port Wakefield; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/28/battle-of-the-melbourne-motor-dealers/

After a successful season racing a Cooper 500 in the UK in 1954 Reg travelled to Modena and acquired this ex-factory chassis ‘2038’ to race back in Australia.

Toulo de Graffenried aboard his 2 litre Maser A6GCM ‘2038’ in the Goodwood paddock during the Lavant Cup meeting- an event he won on 6 April 1953 from the Roy Salvadori and Tony Rolt Connaught A Types. I wonder who the driver behind the car is? (Getty)

‘2038’ was originally built as a 2 litre F2 car in 1953- raced by Emmanuel de Graffenreid.

Many of you would know the class of the 2 litre 1952/3 F2/Grand Prix formula- F2, which at short notice became the category to which championship Grand Prix events were run in 1952/3 given the paucity of cars at the start of 1952 with Alfa’s withdrawal from GP racing and BRM’s non-appearance- were the simple, fast, 4 cylinder Ferrari 500’s. Especially chassis ‘0005’, the car raced by Alberto Ascari to a record number of wins and two World Championships in 1952 and 1953. That chassis was sold to Tony Gaze and later Lex Davison, it was an iconic racer in Australia in the fifties.

The great engineer Giacchino Colombo joined Maserati from Alfa Romeo for a consultancy which ended about June 1953, he first applied his magic touch to the 1953 A6GCM, squeezing closer the performance gap between the Maser and Ferrari 500.

He changed the engine from being square to oversquare, a bore/stroke of 76.22x72mm, squeezing a few more revs and raised the power of the 2 litre, DOHC, 2 valve, 40 DCO3 Weber carbed, Marelli sparked six cylinder engine to circa 190 bhp @ 9000 rpm. Other tweaks were to the suspension- the inclusion of an A-bracket to better locate the rear axle and brakes. Otherwise the Maserati 4CLT derived twin-tube chassis with hoop shaped bracing at the front and cockpit area, quarter elliptic sprung rigid rear axle with ZF slippery diff, twin front wishbone suspension and excellent Valerio Colotti designed 4 speed gearbox, which mated directly to the engine, were unchanged.

By the end of 1953 it seems fair to say that the high-revving Maser was better suited to the high speed circuits than the Ferrari 500, and whilst  the Maser may have had an edge in top speed the De Dion rear end of the Ferrari put its power down more effectively than the ‘cart sprung’ A6GCM. Maserati would remedy this shortcoming with the design of the 250F of course.

The talented Swiss Baron’s car was mainly entered by Enrico Plate’s team. His best results in 1953 were first placings in the Lavant and Chichester Cups at Goodwood, a heat of the International Trophy at Silverstone and the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring in May. He was also victorious at the Freiburg Hillclimb in Switzerland.

At championship level his best result was 4th in the Belgian GP when the car was a works rather than a Maserati-Enrico Plate entry. The car was also entered by the works at Zandvoort, the Dutch Grand Prix, two weeks earlier using a new chassis- the car first raced at the Siracuse GP on 22 March 1953. It raced on nine occasions with the original frame.

A chassis of the same number is said to have been raced and crashed by Fangio at Monza on 8 June 1952, breaking has neck. The great man crashed 2 laps into his heat as a result of being fatigued after travelling from the Ulster Trophy race, where he drove a BRM. He flew from Belfast to Paris but could not take his connecting flight to Milan due to fog. He drove a Renault 750 borrowed from Louis Rosier all night  to contest the non-championship GP of Monza Auto Club. He arrived exhausted, started the race from the back of the grid and crashed on the events second lap having run wide at Lesmo, and then thrown out of the car.

Mind you, other sources have the chassis used that day as ‘2034’…

Harry Schell contesting the non-championship Berlin GP at The Avus in 1954 aboard his Maser A6GCM ‘2038’. 8th in the race won by Karl Kling’s Mercedes W196 (Getty

Rebuilt with a Maserati 250F engine, the car was raced during the new 2.5 litre F1 in 1954 by Harry Schell as a private entry with the exception of the Pau GP, when it was works entered. Schell’s best results in 15 races was a 1st in a heat of the Circuit de Cadours, France, 2nd in the GP di Roma at Castel Fusano and 3rds at Aintree’s Daily Telegraph Trophy and the Circuito di Pescara on the wild Pescara road course beside the Adriatic.

Schell’s last drive of the car was at Aintree on 2 October, ‘2038’ was sold to Hunt shortly thereafter and was soon aboard the ‘Oceania’ heading for Port Melbourne. Reg was reported as pacing Station Pier anxiously like an expectant father as he waited an hour for the notoriously ‘Bolshie’ Melbourne waterside workers to carefully unload his precious car on Friday 31 December 1954.

Click here for my article on the Maserati 250F, which includes the evolution of these magnificent single-seaters from A6GCM to 250F;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/21/stirling-moss-monaco-gp-1956-maserati-250f/

In the best tradition of this series of cars, the A6GCM and 250F, there are quite a few variations on the chassis theme, that is, which one is which.

I reference the 8W: Forix records as the most authorative source drawing together research of recent decades, particularly the exhaustive, scholarly, work of David McKinney and Barrie Hobkirk. The sharing and debating of evidence on the internet is a luxury not available to earlier 250F authors. Click below for all of the detail you could wish for, chassis by chassis and author by author including the way the views of the same author changed over time as more exhaustive research was undertaken allowing them to re-appraise conclusions they had earlier reached.

Chassis ‘2038’ was never allocated a 250F number when fitted with the 2.5 litre engine- although chassis ‘2503’ is the number occasionally cited. Nye concludes in relation to ‘2503’ ‘Serial never applied to a true 250F’, McKinney ‘Never built as a 250F’, Pritchard ‘Number not used’.

Given the foregoing, to be clear, ‘2038’ was built in 1953, or 1952 as a 2 litre A6GCM. Fitted with a 2.5 litre 250F engine, but otherwise the same in specification, ‘2038’ is one of the ‘interim A6GCM/250F’ chassis.

http://8w.forix.com/250f-redux.html

Reg Hunt in the Maser A6GCM during the Albert Park, Moomba meeting in late March 1955 (unattributed)

The car arrived in Melbourne in late 1954, Reg soon shook it down at Fishermans Bend before popping it back on a boat to contest the 1955 NZ GP at Ardmore. He was immediately on the pace qualifying 4th, was 2nd in a heat and ran 2nd to Prince Bira’s 250F until fading brakes slowed him, finally finishing 5th.

Back in Australia the car was the quickest device around winning the Victorian Trophy at Fishermans Bend, the Bathurst 100 scratch race and was hot favourite for the Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield in October but was slowed by a cam follower problem- he was 2nd to Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol having led initially.

In November the car won two events at Fishermans Bend- the ‘Racers Trophy’ and ‘Lucas Trophy’ both from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar. Lex was soon to acquire the Tony Gaze Ferrari 500/625 with which he is so readily associated.

Official extricate Neal from the badly damaged Maser towards the end of the AGP at Albert Park (unattributed)

The Maser was sold to Melbourne haulier Kevin Neal after Reg’s 250F ‘2516’ arrived in early 1956- the car was badly damaged in the ’56 AGP at Albert Park when Neal lost control during a shower of rain late in the race.

Looking as elegant as ever, beautifully repaired, the car reappeared again at a minor sprint meeting at Eildon in country Victoria in 1960. The car was sold to Melbourne’s Colin Hyams in 1962, he used it occasionally, as below at Fishermans Bend.

(C Hyams)

The car then went to the UK in 1965, passing through the hands of Colin Crabbe and Dan Marguiles to Ray Fielding in Scotland in 1972. After many years owned by him and his estate ‘2038’ now resides in a private Swiss collection.

Reg Hunt aboard ‘2038’ at Easter Bathurst 1955. He won the A Grade scratch race and the scratch class of the Bathurst 100 setting the fastest time, an average of 77.8 mph. He was expected to take the lap record but was hampered by lack of his tall diff ratio, this component was damaged at Albert Park the month before. Here Hunt is exiting Hell Corner to start his run up the mountain (AMS)

Reg Hunt in 2017…

This photo and those of the Maser which follow were taken by David Zeunert, President of the Maser Club of Victoria- many thanks to David for sending them in to round out the article. The photo was taken early in 2017 at Reg and Julia Hunts home on Melbournes St Kilda Road- they have a floor in an old historic building. Reg is a spritely, fit 94 and David says is still working in Real Estate Apartment Development with his grandson. Trophy is ‘The KLG Trophy’ with two Masers in is base (D Zeunert)

Etcetera…

Reg only raced the A6GCM for not quite a year, here is the ad for its sale in Australian Motor Sports February 1956 , I rather like the ‘no idle curiosity’ bit! (D Zeunert)

The photos below via David Zeunert are of the car at home in Switzerland.

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, 8W Forix.com, ‘Maserati: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, Australian Motor Sports

Photo Credits…

Fairfax, GP Library, Australian Motor Sports, Michael Hickey/Museum of Victoria, David Zeunert Collection

Tailpiece: Brake Enginner, Bart Harven, Reg Hunt, beautifully cast Maser brake drum and sublime A6GCM- circa 240 bhp from its 2 valve, Weber DCO carbed, DOHC 2.5 litre, 6 cylinder engine…

Etcetera: ‘2038’ The Movie or TV Star…

(MOV)

A mystery to solve folks! Since posting the article, reader Michael Hickey posted these amazing photos of ‘2038’ in an Australian movie, or perhaps more likely, TV show on the primotipo Facebook page.

He found the shots on the Museum of Victoria website but they are devoid of details. Tony Matthews thought the ‘driver’ of the car may be Bob Hope- it certainly looks like him. I’m not sure that he did any movies in Australia though. The ‘driver’ could be Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, a distinguished but now deceased Australian actor. He was in dozens of movies throughout a long career, the most iconic perhaps ‘The Castle’. I don’t recognise the babe, mechanic or baddie.

The crook only has a little gun- ‘yerd reckon they would give him a big one. Lovely A6GCM front suspension detail shot tho! Finned brake drum, forged upright and upper and lower wishbones all clear, as is roll bar. Shocks are Houdaille (MOV)

I can’t make the films Tingwell appeared in work with the photos mind you. Which means it isn’t Bud or perhaps the scenes are from a TV show. You can just make out Reg’s name on the car in the first shot, the limited caption information dates it as October 1955. TV didn’t commence in Australia until the second half of 1956. All ideas or the definitive answer appreciated!

Finito…

 

(Advertiser)

Well, not quite! Vern Schuppan is 21 in this shot, he has just won a South Australian Kart title, its 1965…

The young South Aussie may have been a late starter, he hadn’t raced cars in Australia when he convinced his young wife they should ‘have a crack at motor racing in the UK’ for two years with $A5,000 in his pocket. His career trajectory once he arrived was meteoric though.

In 1969 he raced an Alexis and Macon Formula Fords. After some promising Merlyn performances in the five race, four circuit Brazilian Torneio Formula Ford series in 1970, he was picked up by Palliser for the rest of the year in the UK.

Other later F1 drivers on that 1970 Brazilian tour included Ian Ashley, Val Musetti and Tom Belso as well as the leaders of the Brazilian contingent Emerson and Wilson Fittipaldi. Emerson won the series from Ashley, Ray Allen and Wilson Fittipaldi.

Vern in the Mallory Park paddock on 6 November 1969, Macon MR7 Formula Ford (N Quicke)

Into Formula Atlantic with Palliser in 1971 he took the very first British ‘Yellow Pages’ championship with five wins aboard Palliser WDB3 and WDB4 chassis powered by BRM modified Lotus/Ford twin-cam engines rather than the new Ford BDA motor.

Via the BRM engine connection he came to the attention of Louis Stanley who gave him some BRM drives in 1972 aboard a P153 and P160. He also did some testing with Tyrrell.

He well and truly strutted his stuff in F5000, Indycars and Sportscars, a 1983 Le Mans Porsche 956 win together with Hurley Haywood and Al Holbert no less, but never really got his bum into a decent GP car.

A story for another time.

Vern on the cover of the Mallory 24 October ’71 meeting program. Perhaps the shot is on the day of his Brands win on 12 September. Palliser WDB4 Ford t/c F Atlantic

Credits…

Adelaide Advertiser, Norman Quicke/Getty

Tailpiece: An Oulton touch of the opposites…

Vern showing fine delicacy of throttle control aboard a two year old BRM P153 during his first F1 race, the 29 May 1972 Oulton Park Gold Cup. Q6 and 5th behind Hulme, Fittipaldi, Schenken and Redman. Not bad! (unattributed)

 

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(Nissan)

The victorious Nissan/Datsun R380-3 of Kunimutsu Takahashi and Yoshikayo Sunago during the 2 November 1969 Surfers Paradise Six-Hour enduro…

Unfortunately this event had ‘run out of puff’ by 1969, the entry was decidedly skinny but that shouldn’t diminish Datsun’s achievement in winning and placing second in cars the original variant of which were built by Prince prior to its acquisition by Nissan in 1966.

David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce had a mortgage on this race or rather his Ferrari 250 LM ‘6321’ did. It won three times on the trot with Jackie Stewart and Andy Buchanan aboard in 1966, Bill Brown and Greg Cusack in 1967 and the brothers Geoghegan, Leo and Pete in 1968.

The first two events were of 12 hours duration, the latter two, ’68/9  six hours. Into 1970 the Twelve Hour was run for Series Production or Group E ‘showroom stock’ sedans, this class of racing was booming in Australia at the time and much easier for the punters to understand than sports prototypes.

The Y Nanda and K Okuyama Datsun 1000, winner of the under 1 litre class of the 1958 Mobilgas Around Australia Trail. First competition win for the marque in Australia (L Richards)

Datsun (the Datsun name was dropped in favour of Nissan in March 1986) very cleverly used motor racing to build their brand in Australia. The Melbourne based Datsun Racing Team ran cars in Series Production touring car events, Rallies and Production Sportscar racing with Doug Whiteford their name driver, a former thrice winner of the Australian Grand Prix, no less.

Whilst Datsun’s prominence in Australia dates from the-mid sixties it is reported that some of its Austin 7 like products were imported to Australia in completely-knocked-down form circa 1937. I am intrigued to hear from old cars folks who have ever tripped over one of these, which truly would be as rare as hens teeth. In 1958 a Datsun 1000 also won the under 1000cc class of the Mobilgas Around Australia Trial won outright by Eddie (father of Larry) Perkins VW Beetle.

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Prince factory brochure which shows the R380 in its original form (Nissan)

Its interesting to reflect back on the growth of Japanese cars in the Australian market in the sixties given the dominance which followed.

It was entirely product driven as their was some animosity, particularly by those of a certain age, towards the products of both ‘The Japs’ and ‘The Krauts’ given the war was only twenty years before. Everybody had relatives who died in theatres of war in which the folks of the above countries fought. Let alone the atrocities committed.

It very quickly became clear just what great cars they were- the Mazda 1500, Toyota Corolla and Datsun 1600 to name three. All were vastly superior, than the British equivalents. I was a small Ford guy at University, my car was a Mk 2 Cortina GT. A mate and I useter wreck Mk1’s- they were a popular student car at the time so we pulled ’em to bits and advertised the clobber on the Monash University Union noticeboard.

Lots of my Uni mates had Datsun 1200’s 160o’s and Corolla’s all with heaps of miles on them. I drove them and considered them vastly superior to the small Fords or the Morris 1100/1500, Austin 1800, poverty level Holden Torana’s and the like. The first Honda Civic, circa 1972, was a revelation, I couldn’t believe how good it was compared to the competitor set.

So, it was no surprise why, at the price point, prejudices were put to one side by our parents a decade before as they bailed out of BMC, VW, Holden and Ford products into stuff made in the Land of The Rising Sun.

Datsun 240Z and Japanese model at the Melbourne International Motor Show on 5 March 1971 (L Richards)

They were put together rather well, some had a flash overhead camshaft, let alone rear ends (sometimes) using other than cart springs and had carpets and car radios as standard equipment for chrissakes!

By the time Datsun raced in the 1969 ‘Chevron Paradise 6 Hour’ the brand was well known in Australia. Amongst enthusiasts Datsun went up two gears in perception with the release of the 240Z in 1969. Ok, it owed a nod or three to the E Type but what a stunning car it was. Never did quite buy one but drove several and was amazed at how good for how little they were.

The first R380 was borne of Prince’s failure to win the 1964 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka with its modified S54 Prince Skyline GT. A Porsche 904 took the win, Prince did come first in the Touring Car class however.

To go one better in 1965 engineering head Shinichiro Sakurai resolved to build a sports-prototype.

Given no-one in the company had any experience of this type of car a used Brabham BT8 open sportscar was acquired which enabled the team to unlock Ron Tauranac’s secrets and reverse engineer them.

A multi-tubular spaceframe chassis was constructed and curvaceous aluminium coupe body, a Hewland 5 speed transaxle was a key component and a bespoke racing engine built.

The ‘GR-8’ six cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve engine was an oversquare aluminium design with a bore and stroke of 82X63mm giving a capacity of 1996cc. Fed by three 42DCOE Webers the unit produced 200 bhp @ 8000 rpm.

Brakes were Girling, the car weighed a relatively hefty 615 Kg.

See below at the end of the article a Nissan factory table with detailed specifications of the design as it evolved from 1965-1969.

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Prince R380 cockpit, spaceframe chassis. See steering rack beyond drivers feet, LH change for 5 speed Hewland transaxle not the ‘norm’ (Nissan)

The first R380, as the car was designated, was finished in October 1965, in time for the 1965 Japanese GP but the event was cancelled!

Undeterred, all dressed up but with nowhere to go, Prince chased speed records.

The car, driven by Yukio Sugita, a Prince test driver, at the Yatabe Test Track on 6 October 1965 took several Japanese records in Class E over distances of 50, 100 and 200 Km at 233.33, 234.69 and 234.93 km/h.

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Yukio Sugita at speed, Prince R380 at Yatabe test track, 6 October 1965 (Nissan)

Prince was absorbed into Nissan in 1966, the new parent was delighted to inherit the cars and its team and put to one side a similar racing project in its early planning stages.

Nissan upon taking over the project modified the cars bodywork to be ‘more flowing’ with vents and ducts also refined. Some extra power, a bit more than 200 bhp, was extracted from the engine. This car, designated the R380A-2 ‘Type 1’ weighed 660 Kg compared with the 615 of the original.

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Line up of Prince R380 before the 1966 Japan GP in May. Fuji Speedway, 65 Km e west of Yokohama. #11 is winner Yoshikazu Sunako (Nissan)

Porsche returned with one Carrera 906 to the 1966 Japanese GP at Fuji.

Despite the R380 being heavier and less powerful than the 220 bhp German car the team of four modified R380A-2’s triumphed taking first and second places, the winning car, #11 above, was driven by Yoshikazu Sunako.

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1966 Japan GP vista, uncertain of the driver of this R380, car still badged Prince at this stage (Nissan)

Nissan further modified the cars in time for the 1967 season…

 Modifications included changes to the track which was widened front and rear. The engines power was increased from a bit over 200 bhp to 220 bhp @ 8500 rpm in part by fitment of bigger, 45 DCOE Weber carbs.

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’66 Japan GP, driver unknown R380 (Nissan)

ZF gearboxes replaced the Hewland transaxles which were designed for sprint, rather than endurance use. Whilst the wheel size remained at 15 inches, wheel widths widened and tyre widths, in keeping with tyre development at the time, increased by 20 mm at the rear.

One of the Nissan R380’s ahead of the Tetzu Ikuzawa Porsche 906. Keen students of F3 and F2 may recall Tetzu’s competitiveness in Europe in the late sixties in these classes  (Nissan)

Despite these upgrades in specification of the cars, now designated R380A-2 Type 2, Porsche took their revenge in 1967, with Japanese driver Tetsu Ikuzawa (above) winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji  in one of three 906′ entered. The R380A-2’s placed 2nd/3rd/4th/6th.

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Nissan R380-2 during the Yatabe speed records in October 1967. Wonderful shot showing beautifully braced spaceframe chassis, Weber 45DCOE fed, DOHC 4 valve 2 litre engine and, by then ZF transaxle. Suspension conventional single upper link, inverted lower wishbone and two forward facing radius rods, coil spring/shocks and adjustable roll bar (Nissan)

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(Nissan)

In that October further land speed records (above) were set with the cars, this time both Japanese and International records.

The earlier land speed record attempts in 1965 whilst setting Japanese records were not International marks as the Yatabe course was not FIA approved.

Two years later the course was duly certified and Nissan again went record hunting on 8 October 1967, this time T Yokoyama of the Nissan Racing Team was the driver.

Seven new International records were set with speeds between 250.98 km/h for the 1 Hour to 256.09 km/h for 50 Km.

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Moto Kitano aboard the winning 1968 Japan GP winning Nissan R381. Chev 5460 cc pushrod OHV V8, Weber 48 IDA carbs circa 450 bhp @ 6000 rpm. Hewland LG600 gearbox, spaceframe chassis (Nissan)

For 1968 Nissan developed the R381 open Group 7 sportscar (powered by a Chev 5.5 litre 450 bhp V8) which won the 1968 Japanese Grand Prix in the hands of Moto Kitano, #20 above. But development also continued on the R380, creating the R380-3 Type 3.

Changes to the car involved longer and further evolved, heavier body work. Despite changing to fibreglass from a mix of aluminium and fibreglass the cars now weighed 660 Kg, up from the 640 of the year before.

The engine now produced 245 bhp @ 8400 in part due to the adoption of ubiquitous Lucas fuel injection in place of the faithful Webers. Tyre widths also, of course, grew.

By this stage some of the R380’s were in the hands of privateers as Nissan focused on their more powerful cars. Three were entered in the 1968 Japanese Grand prix yielding 3rd/4th/5th places.

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(Nissan)

Nissan developed the R382 as its frontline tool for 1969, a sensational 6 litre V12, 600 bhp open Group 7 sportscar, which again won the Japanese Grand Prix, the driver this time, Moto Kurosawa with H Kitano second.

These amazing cars (R381 and R382) are stories for another time, the photos are a tease!

Oh for them to have raced in the Can Am in the respective years! Timing is everything, and the timing in a corporate sense was not right even it was from an enthusiasts perspective.

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Nissan 1969 R382: spaceframe chassis, ‘GRX-3’ 5954cc DOHC Lucas injected V12, circa 600 bhp (Nissan)

The two cars, entered for the 1969 Surfers 6 Hour were Nissan Motor Co works entries designated R380-3.

The bodies were a little longer than the year before at 4210 mm compared with 4080 mm. The car was 20 Kg heavier, now 680 Kg and 5 bhp more powerful, so a total of 250 bhp @ 8400.

In that sense the cars brought to Australia were the ‘ultimate’ R380 specification. It would be interesting to know what became of them.

The winning car crewed by Takahashi/Sunago completed 257 laps from the 2nd placed sister car of Moto Kitano and Motoharu Kurosawa on 253 and then the Brisbane Lotus Elan of Glynn Scott/Joe Camilleri/Ann Thompson on 236 laps. The Lotus 47 crewed by Sydney drivers Bob Beasley and Brian Davies was 4th with 233 laps. Not to forget the 5th placed Datsun Racing Team Datsun 2000 of Doug Whiteford/John Roxburgh/Barry Tapsall, 231 laps.

The R380’s raced on into 1969 and 1970 taking 2nd in the ’69 Fuji 1000 Km and 2nd in the 1970 Fuji 200 mile event.

Interesting cars aren’t they and as occasionally happens, a topic I tripped over looking for something else.

Etcetera…

Prince/Nissan R380 Specifications 1965-69..

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(Nissan)

Prince R380 press release above and below in 1965 (Nissan)

(Nissan)

Bibliography…

nissan-global.com, rffrfrnzclub.net, japanesenostalgiacar.com, earlydatsun.com

Photo Credits…

Nissan Motor Co, Laurie Richards Studio

Tailpiece: T Yokoyama setting records in October 1967 at Yatabe, Nissan R380-2…

 

(Telegraph)

The highest paid Dunlop tyre fitter in the world attends to the needs of his Lotus 32B Climax, Warwick Farm, 1965…

Its practice prior to the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ so Jim Clark assists Ray Parsons in between on-circuit sessions on the Friday or Saturday before the race.

Its Frank Matich zipping by in his Brabham BT7A Climax, he was quick too, off pole and led Clark and Graham Hill for much of the first lap. He was 3rd, five seconds behind Brabham in 2nd with Jim a minute up the road from Jack in an emphatic victory.

Roy Billington, Brabham’s chief mechanic is the black clad dude to the left of Jim. In the white helmet is the tall, lanky frame of Frank Gardner and beside him his Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax. A DNF for Frank that weekend with Coventry Climax engine dramas on lap 25.

(Telegraph)

In the photo above Roy Billington is tending Jack’s BT11A, its Jim’s Lotus behind. The tall fellow to the right, in the cloth cap is, I think Lex Davison- Lex retired on lap 3 with a busted steering wheel in his Brabham BT4, an odd failure for a driver of considerable deftness and touch.

‘Topless’ behind Lex is Jim Clark talking to Warwick Farm boss, Geoff Sykes- to the left near the pit counter is again Frank Gardner.

Its all happening, as I say…the first six home were Clark, Brabham and Matich, then Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT11A, Graham Hill similarly mounted in the Scuderia Veloce entered machine and then Kiwi Jim Palmer in his BT7A.

Credits…

Daily Telegraph, oldracingcars.com, Bruce Wells on The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Jim and Lotus 32B Climax on the hop…

(Bruce Wells/TRS)

He is entering The Esses and has clearly given someone or something a ‘tap’, the nose of the Lotus is slightly bruised. I’ve written about this car, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Finito…

 

A promotion for Indian motorcycles, Adelaide 1923, the only items missing are a bow and arrows…

I spat my chockie biscuit out when I came upon this snap! Too funny and sooo politically incorrect and unacceptable in todays societal morays. I think I would have slotted into 1923 quite nicely.

Details are few other than the three bikies were at a sporting event, I’m guessing the Indian bloke hailed from the Adelaide suburbs rather than the American prairies.

As to locale, its probably not the go at the Adelaide Oval during the cricket, and the ‘Speedway Royal’ Wayville, just outside Adelaide’s ‘Square Mile’ hadn’t quite opened yet, so who knows where it is.

Anyway. Look and laugh, just luvvit! I mean no disrespect to any North American Indian readers, my mirth is at the ‘creativity’ of the Indian ‘Sales and Marketing Team’ here in Australia. Still no doubt it achieved the ‘cut through’ marketers seek.

As to the model of bike, the Indian lineup about then was the ‘Scout’, ‘Chief’ and ‘Big Chief’. I’m guessing it’s the 1200cc Big Chief, coz that’s what the dude on the bike looks like!

Credit…

Searcy Collection- State Library of South Australia