Archive for June, 2018

(Walkem)

Bruce Walton aboard Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder at Longford in March 1958…

The 1958 ‘Longford Trophy’ was the first Gold Star round held at what became the legendary Tasmanian road circuit that March long-weekend. Ted Gray was victorious in Lou Abrahams Tornado 2 Chev. Bruce Walton shared the beautiful Porsche 550 Spyder with its owner, Norman Hamilton. Here he is parked beside ‘The Flying Mile’ near the old startline towards the end of the ‘mile. In 1959 the start/finish line and pits were moved to a safer spot around the corner between Mountford and the Water Tower.

Porsche Spyder 550 chassis ‘550-0056’ was ordered on 2 June 1955 and arrived on the MV Sumbawa in October 1955. One of 91 cars built, it was the only 550 imported to Australia by Norman Hamilton, famously one of the first people awarded commercial rights to the then nascent marque way back in 1951.

The story of Norman’s ‘Porsche introduction’ is a well known in Australia, its an amusing one. The Melbourne pump manufacturer was rumbling up the Glossglockner Pass on the way from Austria to Switzerland to check out the latest in pump technology in an American beast- an Oldsmobile 88 when he was ’rounded up’ by a low slung, snarling silver bullet.

In a village further up the valley he came upon German racer and Porsche tester Richard von Frankenberg partaking of a refreshing beverage in an Inn. He interrupted his break from the arduous task of refining the cars chassis and showed Norman the weird little car. In a burst of entrepreneurial zeal Hamilton followed the German and the car back to the Porsche factory and on a handshake secured the Australian commercial rights- in so doing he became the second agent outside Europe after Max Hoffman in the US.

Looks nothing like my Aston old boy?! South Melbourne Town Hall 1 November 1951 (PCA)

Months later, on 1 November 1951 Hamilton held a cocktail party for Melbourne’s ‘great and good’ at South Melbourne Town Hall, not far from Albert Park, to launch the marque in Oz.

On show were a maroon coupe and a silver cabriolet- forty months after the first 356 Porsche received its road permit in Austria, the cars looked like ‘flying saucers’ compared with the British and American cars with which we were so familiar.

Shortly thereafter selected local motorsport people were invited to test the cars- around Albert Park Lake of course! Very soon after that the Porsche Australian motorsport debut took place with Hamilton family friend and experienced racer/constructor Ken Wylie running the coupe up the dusty Hurstbridge Hillclimb, northeast of Melbourne on 28 January 1952.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton with Porsche 356 before the 1953 Redex Round Oz (PCA)

Porsche had fallen into the very best of motorsport friendly hands in Australia. In the following decades Norman, and particularly his son Alan Hamilton, raced exotic Porsches in Australia and aided and abetted the careers of drivers such as Colin Bond, Alan Jones and especially Alfredo Costanzo in Porkers and F5000 and Formula Pacific single-seaters. That story is well covered here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

(Clarence La Tourette)

The 550-1500 RS Spyder was first exhibited at the 1953 Paris Salon, the sexy body hid Dr Ernst Fuhrmann’s ‘Type 547’ DOHC, 2 valve, air-cooled, 1498 cc (85X66 mm bore/stroke) horizontally opposed, twin-Solex fed four cylinder circa 110 bhp @ 6200 rpm engine. This motor provided the basis, as it was progressively modified, for the motive power of successive Porsche racers until 1961. Built from 1954-1955 the 550 design had ‘an integral body-frame with floor frame…the flat frame consisted of welded tubing’. The transaxle was 4 speed with a ‘slippery’ diff, drum brakes were fitted front and rear. With the machine weighing a feather-light 590 Kg, a top-speed of about 137 mph was achieved with levels of endurance and reliability which became key brand values.

When the 550 first arrived at Port Melbourne it was delivered the short distance to the Southern Cross Service Station on St Kilda Road, Melbourne where it was uncrated and checked over by engineer/mechanic/racer Otto Stone. Pronounced fit, veteran AGP winner Les Murphy gave the car it’s competition debut at Rob Roy on Melbourne Cup Day in November 1955.

Delivered to New Zealand for Stirling Moss to drive in the 1956 New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Ardmore, the great Brit won the ‘Ardmore Handicap’ in the 550 and then jumped into his works Maserati 250F to win the NZ GP. The Spyder also participated in that Formula Libre GP- to ninth place driven by New South Wales ace Frank Kleinig.

One of the great shames of Australian Motor Racing is that Kleinig didn’t win an AGP in his wonderful (and still extant) Kleinig Hudson straight-8 Spl. It was apt that Hamilton gave Frank this ‘works’ drive. I’ve mused more than once about how many ‘big races’ Kleinig could have won had he raced a car equal to that of Bill Thompson, Alf Barrett and Lex Davison to name some drivers of equal calibre who spanned ‘the Kleinig decades’ but had much better rides.

Frank Kleinig and the 550 outside his Parrmatta Rd, Burwood, Sydney workshop in early 1956 (C Gibson)

The car was shipped back from New Zealand to Sydney in time for the South Pacific Championship meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange on 30 January. Kleinig was to drive the Porsche but was barred from competing by CAMS, then a new organisation- the controlling body of motorsport in Australia. Frank had taken part in the ‘unofficial’, as in not sanctioned by CAMS, Mobilgas Economy Run and was punished for his crime by not being allowed to race.

Jack Brabham, who that weekend raced the Cooper T40 Bristol he drove to victory in the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefied to second in the Sou Pac feature race behind Reg Hunt’s Maser 250F- then drove the heavily handicapped Porsche to sixth in the last event of the day, a five lap racing car handicap.

Ron Phillips AH 100S approaches the looped Otto Stone in the 550 Spyder at Jaguar Corner during the Moomba TT, Albert Park in March 1956 (unattributed)

Otto Stone had a few steers of the 550 including meetings at Fishermans Bend and the 1956 Moomba TT in March (4th) and the November Australian TT both at Albert Park- the latter race famously won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 300S from Jean Behra’s similar car, both of which stayed in Australia and were then raced successfully by Doug Whiteford and Bob Jane. Otto failed to finish the race.

Into 1957 Stone contested a 15 lap club trophy race at Fishermans Bend (below) running with the quick guys including Paul England’s Ausca Holden Hi-Power and Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S- following Stone is Ron Phillip’s Austin Healey 100S.

(unattributed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norman Hamilton, Fishermans Bend, June 1957 (autopics)

Walton won the Australian Hillclimb Championship from 1958 to 1963 at a diversity of venues across the country aboard his Walton Cooper in an era when the title ‘really mattered’ and attracted both large crowds and the best of the circuit racers, some of whom like Stan Jones and Lex Davison had cars in their equipes acquired and developed to suit the particular rigours of the ‘hill discipline.

Bruce Walton fettles his modified Cooper Mk8 in John Hartnett’s Melbourne workshop, date folks? (L Sims)

 

Bruce Walton does his thing at Rob Roy in Melbourne’s Christmas Hills, 1953. Walton Jap Spl (unattributed)

Whilst Bruce also circuit raced, he did not contest as many events as many enthusiasts would have liked- had he done so he was the calibre of racer who could have won a Gold Star or at least won a Gold Star round- he was that good.

Not much has been written about the great Bruce Walton who died not so long ago in 2017, this article in ‘Loose Fillings’ is a nice comprehensive piece about his hillclimb exploits. Click here to read Terry Wright’s work; https://loosefillings.com/2017/06/10/climbed-your-last-hill/

Walton, 550 mounted at Fishermans Bend in Feb 1958 (autopics)

 

Bruce Walton passes the Newry Pumphouse, Flying Mile, Longford, Porsche 550, Longford 1958

Walton raced the Porsche at Fishermans Bend in February 1958 which was a good means of getting the feel of the car before attacking the formidable Longford road circuit over the Labour Day long-weekend in March 1958.

In the 5 lapper on Saturday Norman Hamilton drove to second behind Bill Patterson and ahead of John Youl’s Porsche 356. In the feature sportscar race, the Tasmanian Tourist Trophy, Bruce drove to third behind Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Royce Fullard.

The Marsh owned 550 Spyder at Templestowe Hillclimb in Melbourne’s east circa 1962 (unattributed)

In November 1959 the car was sold to Reg Smith, and sold again after the unfortunate motor dealer lost his life at Bathurst driving a 356 Coupe. Acquired by Victorian Lionel Marsh, it was raced extensively with great class success in Australian and Victorian Hillclimb Championships. Marsh raced it up until 1964 inclusive of hitting an earth bank at Lakeland Hillclimb to Melbourne’s outer east.

After changing hands on several occasions over the following twenty years, including into and out of Alan Hamilton’s hands once or twice, prominent Melbourne businessman Lindsay Fox acquired ‘0056’ in 1992. He tasked Brian Tanti to restore it, a job which took three years to complete.

The RS550 Spyder now resides in considerable comfort at the Fox Collection in Melbourne’s Docklands and is exercised every now and again attracting all the attention it deserves for a car with a roll call of prominent to great drivers including Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Les Murphy, Otto Stone, Frank Kleinig, Bruce Walton, Allan Williams, Ted Gray, Austin Miller, Ern Tadgell, Lionel Marsh and of course Norman Hamilton…

Albert Park paddock, 1958 Victorian Tourist Trophy, Ern Tadgell up that weekend (unattributed)

Credits…

porsche.com, oldracephotos.com.au, Walkem Family Collection, autopics.com.au, Clive Gibson, Porsche Cars Australia, Paul Geard Collection, Clarence La Tourette, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Etcetera…

£1500, oh dear! Give Lionel a call, not far from my mums place actually!

 Tailpiece: Walton using all the road exiting Mountford Corner for the run up Pit Straight, Longford 1958…

(P Geard)

Finito…

(G Moulds)

Amaroo Park, Sydney May 1976, Formula 3. The Two Brians- Shead and Sampson lead Peter Macrow, all three aboard Cheetah Mk6 Toyotas from #4 Mal Brewster, Rennmax and then David Booth in a Birrana 374 Ford, Terry Finnigan, Cheetah and the rest- Elfin 600’s, 623 etcetera…

By 1972 the classes of single-seater racing in Australia comprised the following: Australian National Formula 1- F5000 at the pinnacle through ANF2- 1600, twin-cam, 2 valve, fuel injected which effectively meant the Lotus-Ford twin-cam the ultimate expression of which were Brian Hart’s alloy, injected 205 bhp’ish 416B motors. ANF3- SOHC, 2 valve, carbs with Toyota Corolla and Kent Fords the most common but there were Datsun and a smattering of other engines too. Formula Ford and Formula Vee require no explanation.

In Gold Star rounds some F2’s help bolster skinny F5000 fields, so too did F3 run with F2- which had a national championship whilst F3 did not. Combined F3 and FF races were common at State level with FF also having a national championship- ‘The Driver To Europe Series’ with FVee always racing on their lonesome but having a one-race ‘FV Nationals’ which was a de-facto national championship- very hotly contested it was too.

Sheady and Sambo ‘sambo: Shead and Sampson in Cheetah Mk4 Toyotas sandwich the F2 Birrana 273 Ford of Tony Stewart circa 1973 at Sandown. Mk4 the last of Shead’s spaceframe single-seaters- vestigial rear wing but no front. Maybe not the prettiest of Cheetahs but fast (B Jones)

Year in, year out the quickest F3 cars were the ‘works’ Cheetah Toyota’s fielded by the ‘Sheady and Sambo Show’- Shead built over fifty Cheetahs (F3, F2, F Pac, F Holden and Clubman) in a small workshop at Mordialloc and Sampson’s ‘Motor Improvements’ concern built the engines in the Nepean Highway, St Kilda, both southern bayside suburbs of Melbourne.

Both Shead’s Cheetah’s and Sampson’s circa 130 bhp Toyota Corolla motors were sold to customers but usually the two Brians had the answers with a combination of age and experience, finely set-up chassis’ and just a smidge more power than the customers got.

Shead and Sambo in the new, monocoque Cheetah Mk5 Toyota chased by Paul King’s Lew Wade owned Birrana 374 Toyota in the summer of 1975 at Hume Weir on the NSW/Victorian ‘Albury’ border. Who won this encounter Paul?? (B Jones)

For me the sexiest F3 machine of the period was the Birrana 374 Toyota with Paul King and Dean Hosking giving the two Brians something to think about particularly in 1974/5. The Elfin 700 was also a nice bit of kit but never did as well as the equally simple (spaceframe) Elfin 600 which preceded it, mind you the level of competition was stiffer in the mid-seventies than the late sixties.

Chassis of the F3 cars by that stage were aluminium monocoques pretty much universally with the Hewland Mk9 or Peter Holinger 5 speed ‘boxes the transmissions of choice.

I’ve no idea who won that Amaroo race but I’ve my money on one of the two Brians despite being away from home…

Credits…

Glenn Moulds, Brendan Jones Collection

Tailpiece: Sports Car World Birrana 374 track test…

If memory serves, always dangerous, Richard Steigler’s 374 (above) was the ex-John Blanden Adelaide owned Dean Hosking driven chassis. A fellow by the name of Adrian Van Loon useter to drive and write these SCW track test articles. Mighty fine bits of communication they were to a budding teenage enthusiast too, well and truly wetted the appetite he did. Died of cancer many years ago way too young sadly.

Finito…

 

 

As in ‘Prang It and You Own It’…

Here Bob Kent allowed Randall Bromfield to do a few practice laps of Baskerville in 1970 aboard his very tidy 1310cc Morris Cooper S, whereupon Randall ‘lost it at the bottom of the hill’.

Bigtime by the look of it.

Clearly Randall had not mastered the complex topography of that particular part of Tasmania to the required degree. The fiscal arrangements between ‘ole Randall and trusting Bob subsequent to this misunderstanding of the laws of physics remains unrecorded but it seems to me The P&O System is an eminently fair and reasonable one in circumstances such as this…

Credits…

All photos oldracephotos.com.au

Tailpiece: Daffy-Ducked ‘innit like?- it will take more than the application of Uri Geller’s talents and polish before the ‘brick is ready for its next meeting…

Finito…

(AMR)

Bruce McLaren points his Ford F3L/P68 into Druids Hill Bend during the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour on April 7…

I guess we all have our favourite racing eras, my own are the seventies and eighties but visually the ‘last front engined decade’, the fifties and the ‘first mid-engined decade’, the sixties have to be right up there.

In sportscar terms the latter is stunning- the bill of fare without limit from the Ferrari 250P early in the decade to the 512S at its end (1969 design and 1970 raced), Lola Mk6 to T70 Mk3B, Chaparral 2 to 2H, Porsche 904 to 908, Elfin Mallala to ME5 and Ford GT40 to F3L.

The F3L has to be a candidate for the hottest of hotties with its extravagant length, voluptuous but subtle compound curvature- it’s possibly the spunk-muffin of them all but sadly, as is so often the case with stunning chicks, the beauty was only skin deep.

On the face of it Fords 3 litre Group 6 challenger- the designation is an acronym for Prototype 1968 Ford 3 Litre had all it needed to succeed; the backing and funding of Ford UK, Castrol and Goodyear the most punchy, torquey and reliable F1 engine of the day- the Ford Cosworth DFV, it was designed by the very well credentialled Len Bailey- then on the payroll of Harley Copp, Ford Director of Engineering and built by Alan Mann Racing in Byfleet, Surrey. On top of that the roll call of drivers included the best GP and sportscar racers of the day. How could they fail? But tank they did, by early 1969 the project was dead. What went so terribly wrong?

No less than father of the Ford DFV program, Ford’s European Director of Public Affairs, Walter Hayes launched the F3L at a large function of motor racing’s great and good at the Hilton Hotel in early 1968.

The car blew the brains away of all present in terms of its looks, aerodynamics and advanced specification- it was indeed an amazingly compact, fully-enveloped two-seater Grand Prix car in its conception and execution.

(AMR)

Len Bailey was apprenticed at Austin and moved to the US in 1955 where he worked for American Motors and Ford in Dearborn. He was part of a team which worked on Fords racing efforts and then returned to the UK, still employed by Ford as Chief Draftsman on the Ford Advanced Vehicles GT40 project designed by Eric Broadley. The body shape of the GT40 in its successful form was designed by Bailey in the workshops of Specialised Mouldings with assistance from stylists from Ford UK and US. Bailey designed the Mirage adaptation of the GT40 raced by John Wyer in 1967 and the engineering of many of the Alan Mann Racing touring cars.

In Australia Bailey is best known for his late 1968 Alan Mann Racing built, monocoque Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ single-seater, which used some Brabham BT23 componentry (uprights, wheels, steering rack) and was raced very successfully by Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, Bob Muir and Ray Winter way into 1974 powered by Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8 and Waggott 2 litre TC-4V engines in ANF1 and finally the Ford Hart 416B twin-cam ANF2 motor.

Frank Gardner in Len Bailey’s AMR built Mildren Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5V8 Tasman Formula car in the Warwick Farm Esses during the sodden ‘WF 100’ won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW in a blinder of a wet weather drive, FG was third in this excellent car. It was a front three car, the absence of wings before the Australian leg meant the car didn’t realise its ultimate pace that summer- god knows why it was delivered from the UK sans wings, its not as tho Bailey or FG didn’t know they were needed?! Superb car which won races throughout Australasia and Asia thru till 1974. Still extant in the hands of the Ayers Family in Waggott engine form (B McInerney)

 

Superb Ford Cosworth DFV V8 cutaway by Vic Berris (Autocar)

Bailey was inspired to build the F3L by the Ford Cosworth DFV given its small size and light weight. Len decided it would make an ideal sprint engine but Keith Duckworth questioned the engines durability, it was designed for 200 mile Grands Prix events after all- so in the first year, 1968, it was not intended to contest Le Mans.

Despite the DFV being concepted by Colin Chapman and designed by Duckworth to be a stressed member of a car the aluminium monocoque Bailey laid down provided for the engine to be carried by traditional aluminium side booms, a choice which was both unnecessarily heavy and problematic in terms of utility. It took too long to remove and replace th engine and it was said heat problems were caused.

The choice of the chassis design is intriguing- whether it was Bailey’s choice or one imposed on him ‘due to political problems within Ford’ is unclear. The latter seems odd- by the end of 1967 Chapman had agreed to Hayes request to make the engine more widely available in 1968 to other teams ‘so as not to destroy Grand Prix racing’, as Hayes was fearful the Lotus 49 Ford cars would do. So Chapman agreed to that, despite his contract providing Lotus with engine exclusivity for a period of time. The point in this chassis design context is that McLaren and Matra, in designing their 1968 M7A and MS10 GP cars located their engines exactly as Chapman did on the 49- they were bolted the the rear chassis bulkhead, that is used as stressed chassis members rather than supported as Bailey/Mann chose to do, or were forced to do, with their F3L sportscar.

Inperial College wind tunnel in 1967 (unattributed)

To finish this long treatise on the F3L chassis Autosport’s John Bolster in an article he penned about the car in March 1968 reported it ‘was a full monocoque with riveted and bonded aluminium panels; in fact the only unstressed panels are in the small removable nose section and the tail. The skin is of 0.03 inch malleable aircraft alloy throughout, and the shape of the body is intended to produce the lowest possible drag while keeping the small, light car on the ground. At 200 mph it is calculated that a downward force of 600 pounds will be generated’.

The compact size of the F3L is stunning in any picture of it, this is in part due to the cars wheelbase which was a short 7 feet 3 inches with a track of 4 ft 7 ins. The wheelbase was ‘considerably shorter than that of the grand prix single-seaters employing the same power unit’ Bolster wrote. He continued, ‘No doubt this short wheelbase can be used because of the stability conferred by the body shape, and in particular by the Ford-patented vortex generating tail. The overall length is 13 ft 10 ins, the width 5 ft 10 ins, the height 2 ft 11.5 ins and the frontal area 14 sq ft’. Whilst the car undoubtedly had the hands of stylists involved, the fundamental shape was developed with the aid of extensive testing in the Imperial College Wind Tunnel during 1967.

Suspension was GP car standard of the day- upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/damper units at the front and single top links, inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods and again coil spring/dampers at the rear. Roll bars were of course adjustable at both ends. Girling brakes of 11.5 inches diameter were carried inboard of the uprights in the interest of cooling with drive from the hubs provided by short live axles. Light alloy wheels used three-eared knock-on hubs, with peg drive and were 15 inches in diameter with rim widths of 8/9 inches at the front and 14/15 inches aft. Goodyear tyres were used which, given the tyre contracts of the day meant that only Goodyear contracted drivers could be used- not that in any way that limited the talent pool available! Uprights were cast magnesium, steering rack and pinion and the gearbox was a Hewland DG300, relatively understressed in this application.

The 3 litre Ford DFV developed around 420 bhp @ 9000 rpm at this stage of its development, the radiator was mounted at the front of the car with electrics and fuel injection the same as those used in the single-seaters mentioned above. The fuel filler was concealed in the scuttle, the fuel tank capacity was 26.5 gallons, the mandated spare wheel was carried flat behind the engine with compulsory luggage capacity also in the tail. The minimum weight for Group 6 cars was 1435 pounds, the F3L in its early form weighed in at a comparatively svelte 1480 pounds.

Breathtaking artistry of Theo Page- F3L P68

Bolster reported that ‘It is intended that 1968 be a development season for the car, and Alan Mann will enter it in five or six races. Most of the test driving will be performed by Denny Hulme and Frank Gardner, but Jim Clark/Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren/Denny Hulme are scheduled to drive the cars at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch on April 7, which will be the first public appearance’.

If only Jim Clark had raced the F3L that fateful weekend the course of motor racing history would have been quite different, instead the Lotus/Firestone contracted driver raced an F2 Lotus Ford FVA F2 car to his death at Hockenheim.

Bolster concluded his article with the observation that ‘This brilliant design will allow the Ford Cosworth V8, hitherto a Formula 1 unit, to appear in a new sphere. Though the enclosed two-seater is heavier than the single-seaters, its vastly better aerodynamic shape will enable it to reach higher speeds and over 200 mph will certainly be within its compass. This is yet another proof that when Fords go motor racing, they employ all the latest advances in technology and there are no half measures.’

All of Bolster’s observations held true with the exception of half-measures- it was only half-measures in terms of commitment to the cars development which precluded the success that was well within its performance reach…

Gardner’s Nurburgring crutch. The tall, lanky pilot had an extra one and a half inches added to the wheelbase of ‘the second chassis’ built to give him a bit more ‘wriggle room’ (Getty)

The legendary bearded scribbler, Denis Jenkinson, of course attended the cars launch and spoke extensively to Frank Gardner about the car during the function- he was keen for a ride in the new machine with Gardner happy to oblige, a Goodwood test date was soon sorted.

Jenkinson takes up the story in MotorSport ‘I spent a whole day at Goodwood watching Gardner drive the car and he didn’t like the way it steered, though he was unable to explain clearly why. The front end gave no hint of confidence on fast bends and seemed to want to step out sideways, but he could offer no technical suggestions and Bailey and Mann seemed out of their depth with a car they had conceived but were unable to suckle. Jack Brabham was there testing one of his F2 cars (BT23C Ford Cosworth) so Alan Mann asked him to try the Ford. On three laps Brabham approached the chicane and at the last moment thought the better of it and took the escape road. After about 5 laps he drew into the pits, opened the door, and before anyone could speak, he said, in that dead-pan voice that is so typical of Brabham, “How brave do you want me to get?” Without more ado he got on with his Formula Two car and left Gardner, Bailey and Mann scratching their heads, not knowing where to look for the root cause. The late Mike Spence tried the car and was more explicit, describing the movement of the car as being as if the steering rack was moving, making the car step sideways at the front when the torque was applied to the steering wheel. Some primitive, strong arm stuff with long levers indicated that the front structure was rigid enough, and Spence did wonder if the car was aerodynamically unstable, but this was out of the question, for the Ford publicity boys had written pages on the new secrets of the aerodynamics of the tail section which gave the car very special stability. Before the abortive day finished I suggested to Gardner that I’d still like a run around in the passenger seat, if only to be able to see at close quarters what they were complaining about. He was adamant; he said he was reluctantly prepared to risk his own life, but he was not prepared to risk somebody elses. It must have been bad, so I went away and got on with something else’ Jenkinson concluded.

Nonetheless the testing of the car continued, Gardner, Richard Attwood, Mike Spence and John Surtees all drove it and assisted in its development and by the time of the intial Brands outing the car was quick- if unreliable. This is of course not unexpected- the 917 was a pig in 1969, Gardner famously thought he and David Piper should have been awarded an Iron Cross for wrestling it around the Nurburgring 1000 km when none of Porsche’s contracted drivers would- won Le Mans in 1970.

Lets have a look at how the F3L fared at each of its competition appearances.

Alan Mann and Walter Hayes in suit, and the lads, Brands 1968. McLaren/Spence car (AMR)

1968 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 7)

The two-car Alan Mann transporter rumbled into the Brands paddock late for the first day of practice, the second P68 having been just completed. The cars were to be driven by Rindt/Spence and McLaren/Hulme (substitutinq for Clark/Hill, Clark having to take late Lotus 48 FVA F2 commitments at Hockenheim).

McLaren was second fastest in practice with the works Siffert/Hermann Porsche 907 on pole. The other F3L broke its engine and was withdrawn due to the lack of a spare. As a consequence the driver pairings were shuffled with McLaren/Spence teamed to race. McLaren drove a great race, the engine hesitated off the line with Bruce dropping to sixth, but he recovered to lead after 30 minutes. A great dice with Jo Siffert and Vic Elford in works Porsche 907’s saw some place-changing, but McLaren still led at the first pit stop. Spence resumed in third place, but within 20 mins coasted to retirement opposite the pits with a broken driveshaft coupling. The Ickx/Redman John Wyer Ford GT40 won from Q5 with the Porsche 907’s of Mitter/Scarfiotti and Elford/Neerpasch second and third.

Denis Jenkinson saw the race and observed ‘The lone race entry completed only 65 laps, but it held the lead at times, which was most impressive, and when it retired with a broken driveshaft joint everyone was genuinely sorry and we all thought “that car is a certain winner when they get it sorted out”. Oddly enough the strange handling experienced at Goodwood was an aerodynamic instability, and tail spoilers were claimed to have cured all the troubles, as simply as that. For a first attempt in an experimental year the BOAC outing was fair enough, for the car was clearly a winner.’

Gardner, Karrussell, Nurburgring 1968 (unattributed)

Nürburgring 1000 km (May 19)

In a shocker of a meeting for the F3Ls- two cars were entered for Pedro Rodriguez/Chris Irwin and Attwood/Gardner, Irwin crashed at Flugplatz during practice, receiving severe head injuries. The car landed badly on its tail, flipped end to end, the ferocity of the prang caused injuries which hospitalised him for some time.

Interestingly Irwin had done an 8:40.4 lap- quicker than Gardner’s 8:42.5 and good enough for fourth on the grid had be been able to start. On the ultimate test of handling the F3L’s were fast- off the pace of the fastest 907’s but they were very much on home turf and crewed by drivers who knew the place like the back of their hands.

Attwood started the race, but on lap 1 the retaining clip on the right front brake caliper disappeared and the brake pads fell out, Attwood limped back to the pits. On lap 2 the driver’s door came open and twisted itself out of shape, to compound a shocker of a weekend the right rear tyre punctured. On lap 3 Attwood got going again a lap and a half behind the leaders. After a few more laps the engine died due to a broken ignition transistor, the sleek coupe was retired out on the long circuit.

The Siffert/Elford 908 won from the Hermann/Stommelen 907 and then the Ickx/Hawkins Wyer GT40- just under four minutes covered the top 3 cars after 1000 Km of racing.

Chris Irwin about to saddle up for his last, fateful, motor racing laps, Nurburgring 1968, F3L P68 (unattributed)

In a June 2008 MotorSport interview Chris Irwin spoke of that fateful weekend which ended his incredibly promising motor racing career.

‘How the accident happened and why it happened don’t know. I have no memory of it whatsoever. All I can remember of the weekend is that the car I was driving went incredibly quickly and every time I came in I asked them to put a higher top gear in it. We were doing something like 240 mph on the straight. It really was the most lovely piece of equipment before I finished with it.’

Irwin’s completely wrecked F3L P68 ‘1002 or ’02’ after its Flugplatz landing. I wonder who the Ford fellow with the helmet is? (M Forster)

Irwin spent ten days on life support following the accident. ‘When I woke up they asked me how I felt and I said my right ankle hurt. I’d got a broken ankle and they didn’t know about it. I had to go back to hospital quite a few times for further surgery. I had some very good treatment; the finest that money could buy. I was left with epilepsy as a legacy of the accident, which is controlled by pills, and i’m still allowed to drive’ Irwin concluded.

It is ironic that the death of another F3L driver, Mike Spence at Indianapolis could have opened up a seat for Irwin, with ten GP starts behind him, at BRM for the balance of 1968. The ifs, buts, and maybe’s of motor racing fortunes…

Chris Irwin, BRM P261, Longford, The Viaduct, during the 1967 Tasman Series. Irwin raced this chassis when Richard Attwood returned to Europe- he contested the Warwick Farm, Sandown and Longford rounds for a DNF, 4th and 3rd (DKeep/oldracephotos)

 

Spa 1000 km (May 26)

The single surviving F3L was driven by Gardner and German racer Hubert Hahne.

High speed stability and predictability are all for driver confidence on the Ardennes Forest daunting road circuit as is the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.

The early handling developmental problems of the F3L seemed to be cured with Gardner taking pole at 145.8mph, with a huge 4 second margin from Jacky Ickx’s John Wyer Ford GT40-and this on a circuit Ickx knew like the back of his hand. The F3L achieved 211 mph on the Masta Straight.

The good work in practice was ruined in the race however. Ickx led Gardner through Eau Rouge, but the F3L slipped to 10th and pitted after the first lap. This was the car’s first run in the rain and cool air ducting funnelled water all over the electrics. Given there was no easy fix the team withdrew the car- again a developmental issue which should have been foreseen but was not difficult to put right with appropriate changes to the machine.

The race was won by the Ickx/Redman Wyer GT40 from the Porsche 907 of Mitter/Schlesser and Hermann/Stommelen 908.

These two front and rear shots are of the Gardner/Hahne F3L at Spa 1968- the car an absolute (unattributed)

 

RAC TT, Oulton Park (June 3)

A single car was entered for Attwood who took pole at 1:36.0. The F3L led for 10 laps but retired with a Hewland differential failure.

Lacking confidence in the ability of the car to finish the race, Attwood had also been nominated as co-driver in David Piper’s Ferrari 412P- they drove superbly to second place just 9.4 secs behind Hulme’s winning Lola T70 Chev after three hours’ of racing. Paul Hawkins was third in his GT40.

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (July 27)

Another good performance was spoiled by fragility.

Frank Gardner qualified second behind Hulme’s Lola T70 Mk3 Chev, but led from the off staying there for 41 of the 65 laps, causing Denny to spin in his spirited pursuit of the red Alan Mann car. With 16 seconds in hand the DFV engine lost oil pressure, FG retired the car after 41 laps rather than pop the expensive motor. During the race Gardner proved the cars speed setting a new lap record of 1:28.6.

The race was won by Hulme’s Lola from the GT40’s of Paul Hawkins and Ed Nelson.

Later in the year the car was entered in the (sportscar) Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg in late August but was withdrawn, Jenkinson said because of ‘political strife at Ford’.

The 1968 Manufacturers Championship was won by Ford with 45 points from Porsche on 42 and Alfa Romeo on 15.5.

Gardner testing the new P69 at Goodwood. Poor quality shot shows front wing between the two guards and fully enveloping nature of the body  (D Phipps)

 

 

Due to changes in the Group 6 regulations made by the CSI in relation to windscreen heights amongst other changes Bailey designed a new car for 1969, it was essentially an open version of the P68 but much more revolutionary in its aerodynamic specifications.

When announced to the press on 7 April the P69 was described by Ford as ‘a research vehicle…designed as an integral airfoil study…the P69 continues the (F1) study to the sports prototype field. The P69 integral airfoil utilizes a system of interconnected adjustable airfoil wings mounted at front and rear. Action of the two wings is controlled both mechanically and hydraulically with the pitch angle being governed directly by air pressure bearing on the wing surfaces when the car is in motion’.

‘The front airfoil is mounted low down between the extended front fenders. The rear airfoil is attached by its leading edge to the upper surface of the car. The prototype has a maximum speed in excess of 200 mph and is 15 inches shorter, 5 inches lower, and 2.5 incjes wider than the P68 prototype- a closed car- which first raced last year’.

Len Bailey is quoted as saying ‘We have set out to promote positive downward lift forces with a minimum of drag. Later it is envisaged the rear flap will serve as an air brake which will be directly controlled by the driver’. The engine was of course the Ford Cosworth DFV as used the year before ‘with the water radiator in a special duct at the rear of the car while ducts are cut into the side and underside of the car for the engine and transmission oil cooler as well as the rear brakes and engine trumpets’.

The chassis, suspension and brakes are similar to the P68. At the time of the public announcement wind tunnel tests had been completed at at the MIRA facility at Nuneaton and Gardner had completed a ‘comprehensive test at Goodwood. Drivers announced for the 1969 Brands Hatch BOAC 500 on 13 April were the Australian duo of Gardner and Brabham.

Gardner on the move at Goodwood, shots of car rare, especially in its original form, rear wing/spoiler clear (D Phipps)

Talk about Mann and Bailey doubling their bets!?

You might think the safe move, the winning one would have been to make reliable what was clearly the fastest sportscar of 1968 and win in 1969. But instead the AMR crew added more complexity. One can’t help but wonder if the car wasn’t some type of publicity stunt- the press release said the car had moveable aerodynamic devices which were illegal under the rules then and now. Predictably, the FIA acted swiftly, before the P69 had even raced!

With its moving aerofoil flap between the front headlights and enclosed ‘single-seat’ cockpit there was no way the car could be made compliant without spending a great deal of money. The cars rear mounted radiator was said to be 30% more efficient than the one in the front of the F3L coupe, but if the cars central body section was altered the performance advantages would be lost.

In order to race the car at Brands the car was fitted with a pair of conventional free-standing wings mounted to the front and rear uprights…

Gardner in Ford jacket, Alan Mann a couple of blokes away to his left. Wings added clear, Brands Hatch (unattributed)

 

Ditto above (unattributed)

1969 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 13)

The new open-bodied P69 ran its bearings in practice, yet again this problem had ruined a race weekend.

Various reports have Brabham not wanting to have anything to do with the car at all having initially driven it but even in the limited practice laps at Brands completed the car recorded a 1:33.0 lap- way off Siffert/Redman Porsche pole of 1:28.8 but again, limited laps were completed and it was the cars first race run.

Hulme?Gardner F3L on the 1969 Brands 6 Hour grid (unattributed)

In any event, that now left the P68 coupé- with a suspension-mounted rear wing, in the hands of Hulme/Gardner to start the race without its younger sibling . The car qualified 3 seconds adrift of pole with tired engines a continuing problem, the car, driven by Denny Hulme retired with low oil pressure on lap 14, he held 5th position at the time.

Porsche 908/2’s took the placings- the Siffert/Redman crew won from Elford/Attwood and Mitter/Schutz.

P69 at Druids Hill, Brands 1969, probably Frank Gardner at the wheel (unattributed)

The ongoing engine failures were odd, the motors were not racing beyond GP distances but were failing consistently with atypical bottom end problems.

Richard Thwaites, who acquired the 1968 BOAC chassis #1000 in the nineties identified the cause of the engine problems.

‘When I bought the car ‘chassis No 1000′ was dynotaped to the dashboard, I belive this was original as it was exactly the same faded dynotape as the labelling for all the switches. I had the car restored by Hall & Fowler 1994-96…with regard to the engine problems in 1968 which were mainly bearings, when we restored the car we found a major design fault with the oil tank. Whilst the oil was collected from the bottom of the tank, the outlet pipe came out of the top of the tank and over the monocoque before going down to the oil pump. The oil had to be sucked up about 18 inches and I believe that with the thick oils that were used at the time, it caused cavitation in the oil pump which led to bearing failure. We changed the oil tank so the pipe came out of the bottom of the tank and did not have any problems’ Thwaites wrote.

By this stage faith in the project was well and truly disappearing.

Alan Mann had wanted to gain experience from racing the cars whilst Ford had not wanted to race them until they were race-worthy so there was a certain amount of deadlock. From Ford’s perspectine the good old reliable GT40 had won at Le Mans in 1968 and of course the same John Wyer run chassis ‘1075’ took victory again in 1969- they hardly needed Alan Mann’s cars, as it turned out

Gardner’s F3L P68 in the Silverstone paddock, Martini Trophy meeting 1969 (unattributed)

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (May 17)

Frank Gardner repeated the  previous year’s pace, by taking pole with 1:28.0. There was very heavy rain on race day, so the team removed the rear wing because speeds would be lower. The engine badly misfired with wet electrics on the warm-up lap, Bailey recalled ‘…suitable rain shields were available , but they were not fitted when the car set off on its warming up laps. The engine popped and banged over the deep Silverstone puddles and there was nothing Gardner could do when seven or eight cylinders all chimed in together at an unexpected moment and put the car off the track.’

Chris Craft won the race from Brian Redman, David Piper and Paul Hawkins, all four raced Lola T70 Mk3B Chevs.

The F3L’s were put to one side in a corner of Mann’s workshop, the final ignominy was for them to be raided as a suspension parts source for AMR’s second Can Am car- the ‘Ford Open Sports’- has there ever been a more sexless name for a spectacular racing car?

But let’s come back to that tangent in a moment, a Ford Cosworth DFV engined car did win an endurance event in 1969- the Imola 500 Km in September.

Ickx at the wheel of the Mirage M3/200 Ford Coupe, Nurburgring 1000 Km 1969 (unattributed)

Mirage M2-300 and M3-300 Fords…

When legendary team boss/manager John Wyer considered his JWA Automotive options for the new sportscar rules of 1968 he was keen to get hold of the DFV too- he planned to build a ‘sprint’ car like Alan Mann to supplement his GT40’s which he suspected may struggle with ultimate speed. That option wasn’t available to him as the supply of the motors was limited and AMR got the sports-racer gig.

Undeterred, Wyer briefed Len Terry to design a 3 litre Coupe powered by the BRM ‘sports car’ V12 which Bruce McLaren first used in his McLaren M5 in late 1967 GP events. Whilst quick, the BRM engined cars were not fast enough with Wyer finally getting his hands on the DFV in 1969.

The team quickly modified their existing chassis to accept the smaller, punchier DFV with the M2-300 Coupe having its first race start in the hands of Jackie Ickx/Jackie Oliver in the 1 June Nurburgring 1000 km, why not start with one of the toughest of all events, after all the chassis was well sorted?! The coupe qualified fifth and retired with rear suspension failure.

Bonnier/Muller Lola T70 Mk3B Chev alongside the Ickx/Oliver Mirage M3/300 Ford, further back is the Matra MS650 of Servoz-Gavin/Rodriguez (unattributed)

 

Jackie Oliver in the Mirage M3/300 Ford, Osterreichring 1969 (LAT)

At Watkins Glen the same pair raced an M3-300 Spyder- JWA made some minor changes to the racers spec and hacked off most of the heavy body. Q5 and DNF with camshaft failure on lap 112 was the result. Off to the Osterreichring in August Ickx popped it on pole but steering failure stopped the pair short on lap 199- at this stage the Mirage appears to have a ‘touch of the P3L’s- lotsa speed but no endurance!

But Ickx and the little racer redeemed themselves at Imola on 14 September winning the 500 km race in a classy field which included works Alfa Romeo T33/3’s driven by Ignazio Giunti, Nanni Galli and Andrea De Adamich as well as works Porsche Salzburg 908/02’s piloted by Kurt Ahrens, Rudy Lins, Vic Elford and Hans Herrmann.

Giunti’s 2nd placed Alfa T33/3 alongside Ickx in the Mirage M3/300 Ford 1st and Art Merzario’s Fiat-Abarth 3000 behind DNF. Imola 500 Km start 1969 (unattributed)

To rub salt into his F3L wounds Frank Gardner co-drove Mike De Udy’s Lola T70 Mk3B in the race and had a front row seat to view the Mirage’s pace as it lapped his troubled Lola several times…

Ickx won from the Giunti T33/3 and Van Lennep/Ortner Fiat Abarth 2000. What Alan Mann and Len Bailey made of this win when they read about it in that weeks Autosport is unrecorded, but if it had been me I would have said- ‘There ya go, you should have stuck with us Walter, we would have got there eventually!’ Perhaps Walters polite response would have been ‘Well Alan, waiting till hell freezes over was longer than acceptable’.

Ickx, Giunti and Merzario from the off, Imola majesty (unattributed)

Where were we?

The F3L’s had been cast to one side in AMR’s workshop as Len Bailey embarked on the design and construction of their last car, the ‘Ford Open Sports’ Can Am racer.

This aluminium monocoque machine was built during early 1969 and tested by Frank Gardner and Can Am ace Denny Hulme before delivery to the ‘States where it was raced in the final two rounds of the 1969 Championship- at Riverside, DNF halfshaft failure by Frank Gardner and at Texas International where Jack Brabham raced it.

Jack qualified the experimental Holman Moody prepped alloy 494cid injected Boss V8 engined car seventh and worked his way up to second late in the race before being slowed by an oil leak which dropped him to third behind Bruce McLaren’s dominant McLaren M8B Chev and George Eaton’s McLaren M12 Chev.

Had the swoopy, curvaceous car been built and tested earlier in the season who knows what the 740 bhp, Hewland LG600 5 speed equipped racer could have achieved?

‘Certainly the potential was there. And yet the Open Sports Ford vanished as quickly as it appeared. Perhaps a victim of Ford Motor Companies lack of commitment to the Can Am, or its drastic budget slash for 1970, or Alan Mann Racing closing its doors at the end of the 1969 season, but the Open Sports Ford never raced again’ wrote Steve Holmes. Click here for more about this interesting car, rather than me getting lost in this tangent- the car still exists too, on Steve’s ‘The Roaring Season’ website; http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?53-The-Open-Sports-Ford

Gardner testing the Ford Open Sports at Goodwood in mid-1969 (AMR)

FOS- 494 cid ally Holman Moody prepped Ford V8, circa 740 bhp (TRS)

Jack Brabham, Ford Open Sports with Chuck Parson’s Lola T163 Chev at Texas International (unattributed)

After the closure of Alan Mann Racing the two remaining Fords ‘languish under dust covers in a hangar on an aerodrome in Surrey… neither of the surviving cars has suspension, gearbox or engine installed. The suspension was robbed to be put on the Ford Open Sports…In view of the poor results obtained the top brass at Ford were probably happy to see the project at an end. But they had provided one of the most exciting looking sports cars ever seen. Furthermore it was an All-Ford effort which is praiseworthy, and a contrast to other Ford-financed racing ventures’ MotorSport wrote.

One of these Ford financed racing ventures MotorSport referred to was the Ford Cosworth DFV mind you! They go on ‘Bailey is obviously sorry that his baby should have been spurned by its godparents, and indeed thinks it could still be competitive (in April 1970). Weight could come down by replacing the metal nose and tail sections with glass-fibre parts and he still thinks the car would give a Porsche 917 a good run down the Mulsanne Straight’.

Doug Nye picks up the story of the F3L’s in the late 1970’s ‘…I was telephoned by Harry Carlton who was head of Ford’s press department at Warley, Essex’.

‘Knowing of my connection with Tom Wheatcroft and the Donington Collection he told me that Ford’s management had just concluded that the progressively deteriorating pair of Ford P68’s they owned were simply a waste of space. “Unless we can find a home for them, they’re going to be cut up- d’you think Tom might be prepared to house them?”.

‘I told Harry I was sure he would, to guard the P68’s with his life and I’d get straight back to him. I called Wheatie “Ooh aye lad, bootiful, bootiful, get ’em to send ’em oop ‘ere all right”. I called Harry back and put him in direct contact with Wheatie. I think the cars were removed to Donington’s store the next day. One was quite sad and sorry, the other a little less damaged. One of them had a door come open while being trailed back from a motor show…and the airstream on the motorway had then ripped the door clean off…Like so many Len Bailey designs it looked terrific but was somewhat deficient in many areas, not least its nervous SWB handling and-I was told-its structural strength was inadequate to contain the DFV’s devastating vibration’.

‘Tom subsequently, as I recall, part-exchanged one of the cars with Gavin Bain in New Zealand in return for the remains of the Alfa-Aitken Bimotore. The other went to David Piper, and he subsequently built a replica with a slightly longer (more congenial) wheelbase…or something like that.’

‘Richard Attwood recalls one of his greatest disappointments as being in the P68 in the Oulton Park TT. It was so immensely superior to anything else in the field around Oulton, that he was absolutely confident of success- only to be sidelined by some pettifogging fault…I’m quite proud that in small part I contributed to the car’s survival’ Nye concluded on The Nostalgia Forum.

F3L, Brands 1968, McLaren/Spence (AMR)

So, what do we make of the F3L program and why it failed? What would it have taken to succeed? Why did Ford get the jitters?…

 Whatever the design shortcomings of the car, the F3L P68 was an incredibly fast car on medium/quick Brands Hatch, the blinding speed of Spa and the tremendous, unique test of chassis the Nurburgring represents. The speed of the thing is not in doubt.

 The ability of AMR to respond to the necessary developmental changes and preparation is though.

In 1968 AMR built and prepared the Lotus Cortina and Ford Escort twin-cam in which Frank Gardner retained his British Touring Car Championship crown won the year before in an AMR Ford Falcon Sprint. So, its not as though the team ‘lost their touch’, and to be fair the only problems with the P3L which were repeat ones rather than one-offs or learnings were engine ones- which they really should have solved.

Maybe the perfect combination in 1968 was Alan Mann built cars raced by JW Engineering who did know a thing or two about sports-prototype preparation and development!

FG and Peter Arundell play follow my AMR twin-cam leader during the Silverstone BTCC round on 27 July 1968 (unattributed)

The P69, unless there were political reasons for doing it was bonkers. The ‘68/9 winter would have been far better spent sorting what they already had- a very fast but unreliable P68. Had Alan Mann Racing done that and raced the cars perhaps Ford would have won the 1969 manufacturers championship with points gained by its 3 litre P3L and the 5 litre GT40- a win at Brands in early 1969 possibly would have breathed life into a program which was from that moment ‘dead in the water’.

 Its said money was tight and that Ford equivocated in their support. What certainly changed or continued in 1968 was that the GT40 was still a reliable car and a race winner- the venerable Mk1 may have had its sad moments early on in its racing life but it paid back bigtime in 1968/9! Wins at Monza, Spa, Watkins Glen and Le Mans in 1968 and Sebring and Le Mans in 1969 apart from secondary level events fell to the 5 litre beastie. From Ford’s point of view, as 1968 unfolded, they didn’t need the P3L as they thought they did when the car was mooted in mid-1967.

Denny Hulme, McLaren M7A Ford- 2nd behind Graham Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford, 1968 Mexican GP Jarama (unattributed)

Whilst the Ford DFV delivered bigtime in F1 from its debut win at Zandvoort in 1967 it was a sprint not an endurance design, the 3.9 litre endurance DFL Le Mans winner came much later. As the roster of GP teams and privateers formed a queue at Duckworth’s Northhampton door he was up to his armpits in conrods keeping up with the manufacture of engines, rebuilds and ongoing development of the 90 degree V8 to keep ahead of the Matra, BRM and Ferrari twelves. He didn’t have time to mess about with the changes necessary to evolve the DFV into an endurance motor and may well have expressed to Hayes his reservations about the engines being used in an unintended application, with resultant failures- and the risk to Ford’s reputation in relation thereto!

 In addition ‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’; Ford were winning Grands Prix and World Titles, the Escort was winning rallies, the Ford Indy engine won its share in the US, the Boss 302 Mustang was a winner on three continents- ‘who needs a sportscar program when we have winning global programs and local ones?’ such as that in Australia where Ford GTHO’s were dominant/competitive in touring car racing- may well have been the views of FoMoCo’s top brass.

 On 12 March 1969 a Porsche 917 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show- the ante was being upped by the 4.5 litre Porsche, and soon too Ferrari with their 5 litre V12 512S, the P3L was destined to be a bit player in this company even if they were reliable.

‘And so there was no further P3L publicity from the prolific Ford writers, no explanations, no excuses as to why they hadn’t swept the 1969 board: in fact nothing more than a deathly hush’ wrote Jenkinson…whilst the remains of the P68’s left over from the Ford Open Sports build were moved, interred really, to a hangar at Fair Oaks aerodrome, near Chobham, Surrey not too far from Byfleet where they were born little more than eighteen months before.

 Sad really for such stunning, fast, under-developed and prepared cars- the P3L’s were on the cusp of delivering all their looks promised but for the application of some race and developmental basics for a professional team like Ford/AMR…

Designers original intent- Ford press shot (Ford)

Chassis Numbers et al…

Treat this as being indicative rather than definitive, none of my usual online sources have neato, fully debated and therefore resolved  summaries of which P68 is which. I have relied mainly on the opinion of Richard Thwaites who owned ‘1001’ for years- but provided the information on the P68’s after he had sold his car and therefore he had no vested interest in the outcome of his particular version of events.

Owners claims always need to be treated with a degree of circumspection during the period in which they own cars in my experience. In most cases the connection between bullshit and the upward trajectory of the fiscal sale implications of the bucket of bolts in question seems way too often to be a temptation even the most devout Catholic of owners fall prey to.

McLaren F3L P68 with one of the works Porsche 907’s behind, Brands 6 Hour 1968 (AMR)

F3L P68 #’1000′ or ’01’

The #34 McLaren/Spence Brands 1968 car Richard Thwaites believes is the car he acquired from Australian Ian Cummins who in turn bought it from Kiwi Gavin Bain who had part-exchanged it in a deal with Tom Wheatcroft.

‘..I am sure it is the one that raced in the BOAC 500 in 1968 as the bodywork is identical to race pictures and the car came with solid discs. I believe David Piper’s original car is the one that was built after Irwin’s crash and subsequently raced in the 1969 BOAC 500. My car did not have the holes in the alloy bodywork for the wing supports, nor were there any signs of welded patches. When I bought the car chassis ‘No 1000′ was dynotaped on the dashboard…the car was later sold by Gregor Fisken’

Rare shot of Jochen Rindt in an F3L P68 before the engine popped, Brands 6 Hour practice 1968 (LAT)

F3L P68 #’1001′ or ’02’

Rindt/Spence car at Brands 1968-unraced. Destroyed in Irwin’s 1968 Nurburgring crash.

One version of events is that the car was progressively stripped of useful parts and the remains scrapped- this is the theory to which I subscribe.

The other (David Pipers) is that the remains were retained by Len Bailey after AMR closed and were rebuilt by ex-AMR chief mechanic Brian Lewis in modern times. Raced by Piper and others and later bought by Alan Mann.

Richard Thwaites ‘The Piper continuation car has nothing to do with F3L history. No part of the car is original and it only looks like an F3L because it has a fibreglass replica body with about 10 inches added on the engine cover to cover the extended wheelbase’.

Car has a modern AMR chassis plate ‘P67-F3L-002’ (P67 is not a typo

1969 Brands 6 Hour vista behind Amon’s Ferrari 312P. 55 Elford/Attwood and 54 Mitter/Schutz Porsche 908/02’s, 58 Denny Hulme aborad the F3L P68 he shared with Frank Gardner, 908/02 alongside is Herrmann/Stommelen, blue T70 Mk3B Lola is Taylor/Dibley, red Lola T70 3B is Hawkins/Williams and the white one Sid Taylor’s car driven by Revson/Axelsson…and the rest! (unattributed)

F3L P68 #’1002′ or ’03’

New car built up after the Irwin crash. Raced in the 1969 BOAC 500 by Hulme/Gardner. Eventually to Tom Wheatcroft and then to David Piper

Gardner, F3L P69, Brands 1969- pretty as a picture without the wings! (unattributed)

F3L P69

The car was cut up by AMR after the BOAC 500 debacle in 1969- tested and practiced but did not race.

No doubt the chassis number mystery is ‘resolved’ in the Ed Heuvink book ‘Alan Mann Racing F3L/P68’- if anybody has a copy fill us all in. The jist of the above is right even if the precise minutae is not- noting the veracity and precision of the minutae is critical in these matters of historic accuracy.

Talented craftsmen at AMR Byfleet during the first F3L build. Alan Mann in suit (AMR)

Arcane Irrelevance…

After his first lap in the early, unwieldy, recalcitrant Porsche 917 during the ’69 Nurburgring 1000 km, I’m sure Frank Gardner wished he was in his nifty, nimble, small, responsive, fast…if somewhat unreliable P3L- he qualified the P3L fifth in 1968 and tenth in the Panzer-Wagen in 1969. Mind you, the pace of change, particularly in tyre technology back then is such that his time in the 917 was 4.7 seconds quicker than in the F3L the year before. Gardner and David Piper were 8th in the race won by the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/2.

(unattributed)

Bibliography…

Autosport 22 March 1968 article by John Bolster, ‘The Nostalgia Forum Ford P68’ thread in particular the contributions of Doug Nye and Richard Thwaites, ‘Classic and Sportscar’ February 1996, MotorSport April 1970 article by Denis Jenkinson and June 2008 article by Paul Lawrence, Darren Galpin’s International Race Report

Photo Credits…

Alan Mann Racing, Getty Images, Vic Berris, Brendan McInerney, David Keep/oldracephotos.com.au, Manfred Forster, David Phipps, LAT, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Ain’t she sweet…

(AMR)

Finito…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

John Goss’ Tornado Ford leads a gaggle of sportscars on the drop between the Water Tower and The Viaduct, Longford, Saturday 2 March 1968…

I wrote this piece a while back and now seems a good time to post it given one of Tasmania’s finest, Gossy himself was awarded an Order of Australia for services to motor sports in last weekend-and-a-bit’s Queens Birthday Honours announcements. Off the back of that achievement Terry Sullivan started a The Nostalgia Forum thread which now contains some marvellous Goss photos, many from Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au archive which have never seen the light of day before- check TNF out;

https://forums.autosport.com/topic/209938-john-goss-on-queens-honours-list/

Back to Longford- it’s the Saturday race day, the Monday Labour Day holiday was Tasman Cup day, that year the feature race was won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA F2 car in a notoriously wet, perilous day of motor-racing. Sadly it was the last in Longford’s relatively short but very sweet period as a road racing track. Click here for my article on the 1968 Longford Tasman;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Goss, future Bathurst and Australian Grand Prix winner is leading Kerry Cox’s Paramount Jaguar, three-times Australian Grand Prix winner Doug Whiteford’s works Datsun Fairlady, Bert Howard’s Lola Mk1 Climax, the partially obscured Lotus 23 Ford of Alan Ling and then Peter Mawdesley in a Lotus Super 7. Out front out of shot is the ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am driven by Chris Amon from Ian Cook’s Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400 Repco, Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev, Lionel Ayers MRC Ford and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford. The opening shot shown is the second group of cars.

I wrote an article a while back about John Goss including a bit on the Tornado, click on the link to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/03/john-goss-bathurst-1000-and-australian-grand-prix-winner/

The following shot is of Gossy losing Tornado on his turn-in to The Viaduct, I wonder if its the same lap! I think not, the track looks wet, which makes it the Monday. Amon’s Ferrari was pushed off the grid with a flat battery- he started the 10 lapper with 2 laps down and finished third- and did 178 mph in the wet conditions on The Flying Mile. Peter Macrow won in Tony Osborne’s Argo Chev from Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford.

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Credits…

David Keep/oldracephotos.com, Lindsay Ross Collection, Rob Bartholomaeus

Etcetera: Autosportsman article on the Tornado Ford, courtesy Lindsay Ross’ Collection…

Tailpiece: Amon’s 480bhp Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 monstering Gossy’s 200bhp Tornado Ford out of Newry, Longford 1968…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

During the dry Sports Car Scratch race on the Saturday Chris won from Ian Cook in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 Repco V8 and Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev.

Amon, awfully comfortable in the P4/CanAm 350- in addition to his Ferrari F1 commitments he raced the cars in both the 1967 endurance races and some Can Am rounds, set an all-time Longford lap record of 2:16.2 undercutting Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW time of 2:13.0 earlier in the day. Mighty quick. Mind you, that summer Frank Matich beat Chris’ Ferrari in the Matich SR3 Repco in the other Australian Tasman round sportscar support events. But FM did not cross Bass Straight to do Longford- sad! Those battles on that circuit would really have been something to see!

Finito…

Graham Hill with his new Doppelganger, London, 10 October 1968…

With him is Austrian actress Loni Von Friedl who appeared in ‘Doppelganger’, a movie which is the subject of this promotion, an activity which seems quite agreeable to the great Brit. The car, also a movie-star was ‘designed and built by Alan Mann Racing, has a Ford engine and chassis, is 44 inches high and is capable of 144 mph’.

The film, also called ‘Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun’ in some countries has a screenplay written by Gerry and Sylivia Anderson of ‘Thunderbirds’ and other 1960’s ‘Supermarionation’ puppet TV series fame- well known to those of us of a particular generation.

Set one-hundred years into the future, the film is about a joint European-NASA mission to investigate a planet in a parallel position to Earth and ends in disaster with the death of one of the astronauts- his colleague discovers that the planet is a mirror image of earth. Click here for some more detailed information about the movie which first screened in 1969; https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064519/

Who gives a rats about the movie for most of us! As to the car, I can find out a little bit, Alan Mann Racing has a great website but the car does not rate a mention there so I am intrigued to know more about the detailed design.

It seems the styling of the futuristic car (three were built for the film) was the work of Derek Meddings, the machines were ‘redressed slightly’ for a subsequent movie named ‘UFO’. The donor chassis was a Ford Zodiac Mk4 with the shapely aluminium body draped thereon. The gull-wing doors did not actually work, someone such as Hill G, or off camera during the movie was required to support a door.

‘The actors reported that the cars were very unpleasant to drive in, as there was not enough headroom, engine exhaust fumes spilled into the interior…and the cars were not fast, so many scenes were sped up to simulate a fast-moving vehicle’. The bones of the car still exist and will no doubt make an interesting curio at race/concours meetings when completed.

Photo and Other Credits…

PA Images/Joe Bangay Getty, projectswordtoys.BlogSpot.com

Tailpiece: Another of Doppelganger’s cars, Loni and a bloke…

Finito…

(TEN)

Dan Gurney’s Lola T70 Ford during the Stardust Grand Prix, Las Vegas Can Am round, 13 November 1966…

Gurney didn’t have a great weekend, the fuel injected Gurney Weslake aluminium headed Lola qualified eighth and failed to finish with a fuel tank breather problem. John Surtees won the race and the series in a Lola T70 Mk2 Chev. The photo got me thinkin’ about those cylinder heads…

AAR Lola T70 Gurney Weslake Ford V8, Las Vegas 1966 (D Friedman)

Dan from Phil Hill, Chaparral 2E Chev, Las Vegas 1966 (D Friedman)

As above, ditto Gurney below (D Friedman)

The Gurney-Weslake combination is best known for the Formula 1 60 degree, DOHC, four valve, Lucas injected V12 which was fitted into the gorgeous Eagle Mk1 created by Len Terry and Dan in 1966- initially fitted with a Coventry Climax 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPF four cylinder engine, the V12 finally raced at Monza in 1966 and won its only GP, at Spa in mid 1967. But the F1 project resulted from the relationship which arose from the development of special cylinder heads for the pushrod small-block Ford V8 a little earlier.

Gurney’s Belgian GP victory, Spa 1967. Surely one of the 5 best looking GP cars ever? Eagle Mk1 Weslake chassis ‘104’- path to the F1 relationship between Dan and the Weslake concern was via the Ford V8 program which preceded it (unattributed)

Len Terry designed Eagle Mk1 powered by Gurney-Weslake V12, 1966. Cutaway by Bill Bennett

Gurney was keen to better exploit the performance potential of the small-block 289 cid Ford V8 with which he was so familiar from his AC Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40 and Can Am experiences.

This engine family was the same as that which provided the first 255 cid pushrod engines used by Team Lotus at Indy in the rear of Lotus 29’s raced by Dan and Jim Clark in 1963. Whilst Dan’s plan was initially to get more competitive engines for the Sports Car Club of America’s burgeoning sportscar races, which would of course become the Can-Am Championship from 1966, the Gurney-Weslake V8 engines ultimately won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and races in Group 7 sportscars and Indycar single-seater categories and beyond.

Dan had seen what Keith Duckworth had done with pushrod Ford engines in the UK- 100 bhp per litre, and figured the same approach could be successfully applied to the Ford V8.

‘I heard that Duckworth had modified a four-cylinder Ford Anglia cylinder head by boring an inlet tract hole straight at the port, so it was a more direct shot and I believe that was the first time that a little four-cylinder 1000cc pushrod engine made 100 horsepower. It seemed to me to be a pretty neat thing to accomplish and, naturally, being inquisitive, I wondered if the same idea could be applied to a Ford V8, since it looked to me as though we could do something similar to the 289-302 style engine’.

‘Actually we began our inquest with an extensive rework of the existing 271 bhp heads. At the peak of our testing with the 271 hp cast iron heads on a 325 inch block, we were pulling as much as 448 hp on gasoline. It was about this time we figured a few improvements along the lines of a new head design might give us even more power, so we got after it’.

Dan sought out Weslake Engineering just outside Rye near the East Sussex coast of England and via Production Manager Michael Daniel engaged them to do some drawings after Gurney delivered some 289 heads to be inspected, analysed and sectioned.

Harry Weslake in his factory in April 1968 with a Read-Weslake 500cc GP motorcycle engine (S Sherman)

Patterns were made and these first ‘Mark 1’ Gurney-Weslake heads were cast at Alcoa Aluminium’s foundry in Pennysylvania.

They featured circular inlet ports that provided a direct path from manifold interface to valve seat in order to get as much fuel-air mixture as possible into the combustion chambers. The valves were inclined at 9 degrees to the cylinder centreline instead of the 20 degree angle of the stock Ford heads. The valve guides were fitted with Perfect Circle teflon valve seals. Classic Weslake combustion chamber shapes were deployed- heart shaped with precision machined valve seat inserts- steel for the inlets and bronze for the exhausts, both press-fits into the heads.

Early G-W Ford on 48 IDA Webers- ‘DG asked Weslake & Co to reate a cylinder head…that provided a direct pathway for the fuel mixture from carburettor to inlet valve, as can be seen from this head-on view…’ (AAR)

Front view shows the ‘standard’ Ford block and drives, oil filter, distributor, 48 IDA downdraft two-barrel Webers, ally heads (AAR)

An immediate improvement of 70-100 bhp was achieved over the standard 289-302 heads both through the mid to upper rpm ranges without losing smoothness down low. To cope with the increased loadings the bottom end also ‘had a birthday’ with bits and pieces provided by well known suppliers of US performance gear.

The Dearborn Crankshaft Corporation made a steel crank to AAR specifications which sat in bearings donated by the Ford DOHC Indy motor. Carrillo provided shot-peened conrods to which were attached Forged True pistons- compression ratios ranged from 10.5 to 11.6 to one. Jack Engle worked on cam grinds arriving at solutions which involved short lift and long duration with ‘rev springs’ fitted into the block’s oil galleries to assist the proper seating of the valves at high rpm. Ford’s stock high pressure oil pump was man enough for the job with stock oil pans baffled and main bearing girdles added to keep the whole lot stabile.

Times GP Riverside, McLaren Elva Mk1 Ford G-W, 1965 (TEN)

The Gurney-Weslake heads were first used by Dan during the 200 mile LA Times Grand Prix sportscar race at Riverside in late October 1965 fitted to his McLaren Elva Mk1

In an all-star cast which included Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Hap Sharp, John Cannon, Peter Revson, Chuck Parsons, Jerry Titus, David Hobbs, Bob Bondurant, Parnelli Jones, Richie Ginther, Graham Hill, Jerry Grant, Walt Hansgen, and Dan (wow!- was there ever a better ‘Can-Am’ field of depth)- that race was won by Sharp’s Chaparral 2A Chev from Clark’s Lotus 40 Ford and McLaren’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds. Dan’s AAR McLaren was out with brake troubles on lap 24. By that stage of G-W development Mark 2 heads were fitted which incorporated improvements including removable rocker arm studs.

Monterey GP weekend, Laguna Seca October.1966. DNF lap 4 with an undisclosed ailment, Lola T70 Ford with Mk 3 G-W heads- note still on 48 IDA Weber carbs (D Friedman)

 

Laguna 1966. By this meeting the G-W engine developed 520 bhp and 415 lb ft of torque @ 6300 rpm (D Friedman)

 

Hmmm, too short a race- Laguna 1966, Lola T70 Ford DNF after 4 laps from Q4- behind the 1st and 2nd placed Chaparral 2E Chevs of Phil Hill and Jim Hall and 3rd placed Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M1B Chev (D Friedman)

‘Mark 3’ Gurney Weslake heads were developed in 1966 with alterations to make assembly and maintenance easier.

With this configuration AAR took their first GW head win in the May 1966 United States Road Racing Championship round at Bridghampton- Jerry Grant won in the AAR Lola T70 Ford from Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds and Mike Goth in a McLaren Chev.

The same chassis was used by Dan to win the Long Island, Bridghampton Can-Am round in September 1966- in a splendid weekend for All American Racers Dan popped the Lola T70 Mk2 on pole and won from the works McLaren M1B Chevs of McLaren and Amon. Sadly, it was the only Can-Am win for a Ford powered car. 495 bhp @ 7800 rpm was claimed at the time ‘The redline used to be 8000 rpm but I just found I could turn 8900’ Dan quipped after the race.

Its interesting to look at the engine competition at the time. Pete Lyons in his bible ‘Can-Am’ writes ‘Chevrolet’s small block was the typical T70 engine of 1966, and those offered by well respected Traco Engineering in Los Angeles can be considered definitive. The bore remained standard at 4.0in but a stroker crank of 3.625in gave a displacement of 364.4 cid. Breathing thorough a quartet of two-barrel 58mm Weber side-draft carburettors…such a package was rated at about 490bhp at 6800 rpm and 465 lb ft of torque at 4500…it weighed about 540-560 lbs. Price was just under $US5000’.

Rindt’s Eagle Mk2 G-W Ford on the Indy weighbridge in May 1967, sex on wheels (D Friedman)

 

Len Terry’s Eagle Mk1 design was a bit of a pork chop in F1- designed as it was for both GP and USAC (Mk2 50 pounds heavier than its F1 brother) use. The design drew heavily on his previous Lotus work and is a beautiful, in every respect, expression of monocoque orthodoxy of the day in both chassis and suspension (D Friedman)

Towards the end of 1966 the engine was also fitted to the very first Eagle Indycar chassis- Mk2 ‘201’ which was raced by Dan in the ’66 Indy with a Ford 255cid DOHC motor- in fact Gurney didn’t complete a lap having been wiped out with eleven other cars in THAT famous collision. In the re-engined Ford G-W 305 cid powered car Jochen Rindt contested the 1967 Indy 500- he qualified 32nd and retired after completing 108 of the 200 laps with valve trouble- classified 24th. His was the only 305 cid ‘stock block’ powered car in the field, the race won by AJ Foyt Coyote Ford from Al Unser and Joe Leonard in Ford engined Lola and Coyote respectively.

‘chewin the fat- lots of downtime for drivers during the month of May at Indy- youthful Amon, Hulme and Rindt in 1967. Dude on the left folks? (D Friedman)

Eagle Mk2 ‘201’. Hilborn injected G-W V8, metering unit between body cowl and injection trumpets, quality of build and finish superb. Note beautiful body cowl and nerf bar (D Friedman)

Further development work resulted in the ‘Mark 4’ variant which was lighter in weight with narrower rocker covers and an intake manifold inclined towards the engines centreline.

Into 1967 AAR’s Can-Am engine was based on Ford’s new ‘mid-sized’ block stroked to 377cid- Dan’s Lola T70 was often the best of the ‘non-McLaren M6 Chev’ class in a year of dominance from the Kiwi’s with their beautiful papaya cars. Pole at Riverside was a standout.

Fitted with a Mark 4 engine, but 318 cid, gave Dan and the G-W engine’s first USAC win in the Rex Mays 300 at Riverside in November 1967. His Eagle Mk3 won from pole from the Bobby Unser Eagle Mk3 Ford ‘Indy’ V8 and Mario Andretti’s Brawner Ford on the challenging 2.6 mile California road course. Gurney achieved six more USAC Championship wins over the next two years and finished second twice on the trot at Indy in 1968 in a Mk3 and in 1969 in a Mk7 ‘Santa Ana’.

Changes to USAC rules for stock-block engines ultimately allowed the G-W motors to displace 318 cid- on methanol they were good for 560 bhp @ 7500 rpm in 1968 with circa 600 in 1969. On petrol a sprint 289 was good for as much as 506 bhp @ 7800 rpm and a good 305 520 hp.

DG testing his 1968 Tony Southgate designed USAC weapon, the Mk4 G-W V8 at Riverside, warm down lap without the goggles. Ho took 3 race wins and Bobby Unser 3 in a customer car including the Indy 500, Ford Indy DOHC V8 powered (AAR)

Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W front and rear- front and rear suspension utterly period typical- very successful Southgate design (AAR)

For the 1968 Can-Am AAR acquired a McLaren M6B and in a ‘lightness and dash policy’ took over 100 pounds out of the car by a cocktail of small-block 325 cid Ford G-W and the smaller, lighter Hewland DG300 gearbox. The track dimensions were narrower, the body lighter with a lower, longer nosepiece and suspension arms, exhaust system, gear linkage and bracketry were re-made out of titanium. The car was renamed McLeagle! It wasn’t enough of course, the Bruce and Denny M8A Chev 427 alloy blocked cars rolled over the top of the McLeagle, Lola T160, Ferrari 612P and all else in their path- Denny Can-Am champ that year.

In 1968 and 1969 the John Wyer entered, Gulf sponsored Ford GT40 chassis ‘1075’ won the Le Mans classic fitted with Gurney-Weslake Ford engines.

The honours were taken by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi in ’68 and Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver in ’69. In 1968/9 despite the Mk1 GT40 hardly being in the full flush of youth the gorgeous, somewhat heavy G-W engined machines won many endurance classics against more modern Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Matra and Ferrari’s (in 1969)- the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour, Monza 1000 Km, Spa 1000 Km, Watkins Glen 6 Hour and 1969 Sebring 12 Hour and Spa 1000 Km.

In period the Le Mans winning engines gave circa 440 bhp @ 6800 rpm- that is 302 cid Ford V8, Gurney Weslake heads fed by four Weber 48IDA carbs.

Lucien Bianchi, Pedro and the boys after the ’68 Le Mans win- ‘1075’ one of the most famous of all Le Mans winners with two notches on its belt (unattributed)

John Wyer GT40 at the factory circa 1969. Note the Gurney Eagle’ rocker covers, FIA mandated luggage framework above the exhausts, engine and trasaxle radiar tors and Firestone tyres (unattributed)

In a busy 1968 for AAR, in a commercial approach to capitalise on the cylinder head designs Gurney started to make modified versions of the heads cast in LM8 aluminium by the Aeroplane and Motor Foundry in England for road cars.

The racers Hilborn fuel injection was replaced with a four-barrel carb. Anticipating a large order from Ford, the heads had detuned combustion chambers and were of a budget design. They could be machined with different sized ports and/or valve sizes to the specification of the full racing heads despite some of the internal passageways being of differing sizes to the race heads.

When no manufacturer (Ford or Lincoln/Mercury) chose to fit the heads Dan was left with an enormous stockpile of them. ‘It didn’t’ happen because no-one big enough got behind it. If someone like Henry (Ford II) would have said “Hey guys, why don’t you do this?”, that would have been all it would have taken’ offered Gurney. A trial assembly run was arranged by Gar Laux, head of Lincoln-Mercury but perhaps the idea fell foul of the ‘not invented here’ notion.

Many of the surplus heads were converted to as near as racing specifications as the Gurney factory could make them and were fitted to Indy cars. None of these heads were fitted ‘in period’ to GT40’s. All GT40 heads were made at the William Mills foundry and were a higher grade casting with the full race combustion chambers, porting and passageways. The Airplane and Motor cast heads were usually branded as Gurney Eagle although some will over time have been retro fitted with Gurney Weslake rocker covers.

This G-W Ford in Dan’s 1969 Eagle Mk7 ‘Santa Ana’ features Mk 4 heads with canted injectors. This close up shows the Hilborn slide injection, lots of ‘Aeroquip’ lines and AAR’s fine attention to engineering detail- checkout the fabrication of those extractors and rather critical throttle components (AAR)

 

Gurney, Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W 305 cid, Indy 1969 (D Friedman)

Into the 1969 Can-Am without the Ford factory support he hoped for Dan raced the same McLeagle with a very special, aluminium 344 cid small-block Ford G-W.

Some of the Can-Am rounds conflicted with his USAC commitments, back at AAR the team toiled with a three valve G-W variant to sit atop specially cast ally Ford blocks. After various development problems kept it off the tracks Dan bought a 7 litre Chev and popped in into the McLeagle, qualifying ninth at Michigan- but tasted a great Can-Am machine when he raced the spare McLaren M8B to third behind Bruce and Denny having started from the rear of the grid.

Pete Lyons wrote ‘…from the back…he passed twelve cars on the first lap…Each lap Dan passed fewer cars but he passed them relentlessly. He gave the impression of being careful, feeling out the car, not risking breaking it, yet the big orange gun shot his black helmet along like a cannonball. When he caught Brabham, he went by so fast the two could hardly exchange glances…’Jack knew exactly how Dan felt as Brabham tested the same car during qualifying- and did a time in a limited number of laps good enough for row two of the grid!

The dark side- 7 litre Chev engined McLaren/McLeagle M6B at Michigan in 1969 (unattributed)

In tragic circumstances, after Bruce’s death at Goodwood, Dan raced a works McLaren M8D Chev with great speed and success until sponsorship conflicts intervened and stopped his campaign short- a great pity as a Hulme/Gurney battle for the 1970 Can-Am title would have been a beauty. It was a fascinating season in the short history of the series inclusive of the Chaparral 2J Chev ‘Sucker’ machine, to have finally seen Dan in a car truly worthy of him would have been something, albeit not G-W Ford powered.

(AAR)

Into 1970 the AAR USAC machine, the ‘7000’ designed by Len Terry was both Offenhauser and Ford G-W powered- and achieved its final G-W stock-block win in Swede Savage’s hands at the season ending finale at Phoenix, the 1971 ‘7100’ was designed by Roman Slobodynski was built to suit the Drake Offy turbo-charged four cylinder engine only.

What a marvellous run the Gurney-Weslake small-block Ford V8’s had…

Swede Savage in the 1970 Indy 150 at the Indianapolis Raceway Park all crossed up in the Eagle 7000 G-W Ford, classified 8th in the race won by Al Unser, Colt Ford Indy V8 (A Upitis)

Etcetera…

AAR Santa Ana workshops circa 1968/9 with 3 litre GW V12 in the foreground and FA/F5000 monocoques behind (unattributed)

 

Dan with gun AAR engine man John Miller ‘Mandrake The Magician’ with G-W Hilborn injected V8 (AAR)

Bibliography…

‘Dan Gurney’s Eagle Racing Cars’ John Zimmerman, ‘Can-Am’ Pete Lyons, gurney-weslake.co.uk, phystutor.tripod.com

Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Dave Friedman Collection, AAR Archive

Tailpiece: Dan aboard his second placegetting Eagle Mk4 Ford G-W, Indy 1968…

(D Friedman)

Finito…