Archive for September, 2018

Arthur Wylie, Javelin Spl/Wylie Javelin, Rob Roy, date uncertain, possibly 1952 (L Sims)

Bruce Polain, a prominent Australian historic-racer, historian and restorer wrote this tongue in cheek piece about how Arthur Wylie’s radical Javelin Special/Wylie Javelin could have changed the face of motor racing history. Bruce’s full ‘bio’ is later in this article…

‘In addition to my personal motor sport participation, I had for some years been a contributor to the motorsport media and one of the monthly contributions I made actually took over from an old acquaintance, Mike Kable who had moved to a full-time position with the Murdoch Press.  My new task was to assemble ‘Spotlight’ for the first magazine of its type in the country – ‘Australian Motor Sports’. Initially edited and published by Arthur Wylie, a well known driver and enthusiast, it is a collector’s item these days.

I also took photographs such as this cover shot of Ray Kenny driving Barry Collerson’s Lago Talbot T26C at Castlereagh Airstrip.


 Spotlight was fun as I made it my business to collate about forty snippets of information for each monthly edition of the magazine.  This meant my phone was often busy as I chased up the same number of informants.


My association with both Jowetts and Arthur Wylie was the catalyst that created an interest by me to purchase a racing car built by Arthur some fourteen years prior with support from the importers of Jowett. It used a Jowett Javelin engine that was supercharged but it was far more innovative than that, as the construction placed the engine behind the driver.  This was in the period when the only other post war race cars with a rear engine, used motor cycle engines. However, while the Wylie project was quite different to local thoughts, it was not in contravention to that permitted within Grand Prix car rules.  Furthermore, the rules at the time allowed engines up to 4500cc normally aspirated.  Or if supercharged, the engine capacity was limited to 1500cc – this latter was the concept that Wylie used. As it eventuated I purchased the supercharged Wylie Javelin in March 1963 and retained ownership until September 1997 and during that period it was actively used with many successes.

Bruce Polain with Arthur Wylie in his creation at Amaroo Park in 1976 (Polain)


However, it was at the 1988 Australian Bi-Centennial Meeting at Oran Park where the s/c 1500cc Wylie Javelin, built in 1950, had its first encounter with a Grand Prix Ferrari with an engine capacity of 4500cc. The latter being the actual car that won the British GP in 1951 when driven by the Argentinian driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez and it was still coloured in French Blue, as it was when raced by Louis Rosier in 1952.


It brings to mind the ‘wotif’ or ‘if only’ situation.



For instance, in Australia, during 1950 we had Wylie, an experienced race driver/engineer building a most innovative rear engined car that would likely fit the specifications for the Grand Prix Cars of the period but the car did not leave Australia as neither the thought nor the finance was considered.


Therefore, while the ‘if only’ situation of an Aussie Special contesting the 1951 British GP was never an issue, the possibility of such a contest could now be staged at Oran Park some 37 years later as both the subject cars were entered. On one hand we had the GP winning Ferrari in the capable hands of its current owner, Gavin Bain of N.Z. who expended huge effort creating a beautiful restoration which included repurchasing back from Australia the original V12 engine where it served time in Ernie Nunn’s record breaking speedboat – after Frank Wallbank of Auburn had remanufactured a new crankshaft and 12 con-rods. On the other hand the Wylie Javelin had also been well prepared for this event.


What an opportunity to revisit the past?


On the day, and in in a series of races for quite a number of historic cars, there was also ‘a race within the race’ – that of the Ferrari and the Wylie Javelin.  In short, a re-run of the ‘wotif’ British GP of 1951.

The day was incredibly hot – so I drained the radiator water and replaced it with 100% coolant.  Plus, each time we returned to our pit, my sons-in-law crew (Mark Woolven and Craig Middleton) had buckets of water to pour over the radiator to obviate after boiling – and it worked.  Despite the conditions the WJ ran like a clock. The two cars met on four occasions and in the first instance the Ferrari was in the lead – however then the Wylie Javelin increased its pace and for all starts the W.J finished narrowly ahead of the Ferrari. Such a result begs conjecture as to what would have been the case if, in 1951, Arthur and the Wylie Javelin had somehow made it to the British GP – would the rear engined revolution have started earlier?


Actually, because of limited funds the Javelin was not raced in the early years, but was hill-climbed successfully.  However, it did appear in the 1953 AGP at Albert Park and ran in sixth position until a spin resulted in the loss of three places, which position it held to the end.

Polain from Bain at Oran Park in 1988 (Polain)


We know that years later, Jack Brabham driving a rear engine Cooper finished sixth in the 1957 Monaco which signified a change, later confirmed by Stirling Moss in a similar car winning the 1958 Grand Prix in Argentina.   Clearly, Arthur Wylie was well ahead of his time. Sadly, neither the Wylie nor the Ferrari are likely to meet again as both cars have been sold – The Ferrari to England and the Wylie to South Australia where it sees little active use – its current role is as a display feature at a winery.


There was another car at this meeting that I had previously owned – the Maybach 3 (or 4 dependent upon who you talk to), photo below.  It was also a dominant car being powered with a 400 hp Chevrolet V8 and had achieved many successes in days gone by and had come from West Australia to compete.  Lucky for us the circuit did not suit the Maybach’s gearing and once again the W.J. prevailed…


(Max Stahl)


Bruce Polain…


Bruce Polain was a month old when his father carried him across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on opening day. His first involvement with motor sport was visiting Foleys Hill aged 16years 10months while on his ‘L’s, he first raced at Mount Druitt in his MGTC – when racing was only up and down the strip. After Mount Druitt was extended, he was part of the Daniel/Spring/Polain entry in the 1954 24 hour race where they won the open (sports) category.


Immediately thereafter he left for the UK season as spanner for Mike Anthony in Mk6 Lotus – Mike was number three and Colin Chapman drove the leading team car.  This was in the days when Chapman had a day job and Lotus was operating out of a single car garage at the back of his father’s pub. He attended the UK meetings with the Lotus and all the F1 meetings, plus the Le Mans 24 hour and Rheims 12 hour on a Harley Davidson.


After arrival back in Australia in 1955 he joined Manly Warringah Sports Car Club holding numerous committee positions and promoted regular Foley’s Hill events, 24 hour trials plus probably the most successful Schofields Race Meeting.  He inaugurated the Mona Vale Sprint and represented the club at CAMS State Council. He was appointed CAMS Noise Panel Chairman and awarded life membership by MWSCC.

He raced a Jowett Javelin at Bathurst 1957 plus innumerable club events which generated his interest in the Jowett based Wylie Javelin, which he purchased in 1963 in very sad condition. After being rebuilt over the years much work resulted in many successes- example Geelong 13.2  Silverdale 39.16. He eventually sold the unique car in 1997.


Into the eighties Bruce created and then ran on multiple occasions the ‘Seaforth GP’ which took racing cars to the streets of Seaforth (on Sydney’s North Shore) for three 2.35 km laps. It was an amazing promotion with free entry for driver’s and spectators and always plenty of media coverage on all four local TV networks.


As Stephen Dalton observed in contributing this – ‘appropriate to combine AMS and the Wylie Javelin as one’. Indeed! Photograph is of Arthur lined up for the 18 July 1953 Fishermans Bend quarter-mile sprints (S Dalton)


Apart from salvaging the Wylie Javelin from destruction Bruce purchased the ex-Paul England Ausca chassis/body then sourced wheels, Repco Grey engine/gearbox and diff to bring the car back to life, winning at Amaroo in its first appearance. He purchased the ex-Barry Garner Rennmax in bits and again rebuilt it, as well as a Ginetta GT4, began the process for the Thompson Ford and also campaigned a very early Mallock U2. In 1983 he purchased one of Australia’s great racing cars, the Repco Research built Maybach 3 from Lance Dixon. The car was substantially reconfigured by Ern Seeliger after Stan Jones and Repco put it to one side with Stan’s purchase of a Maserati 250F- Ern replaced the Maybach six with a Chevrolet small-block V8, De Dion rear suspension and other changes. In Bruce’s ownership  its handling problems were solved with the intention of racing it in the UK in partnership with Arnold Glass where Arnold then living – however the Poms would not accept Maybach’s heritage so the car was sold.


In addition to the ‘Spotlight’ snippets in Australian Motor Sport he has contributed race and vehicle reports to Sports Car World, Racing Car News and other magazines – and with the knowledge gained from this pursuit plus the time spent on CAMS State Council has expended much effort on bringing to to CAMS attention many of its deficiencies.  In the interim he was the major contributor to the concept of (non-CAMS) ‘GEAR’ and awarded a life membership. GEAR has now been successfully extended to Queensland.


When CAMS closed Catalina Park, Bruce was somewhat disenchanted so formed ‘Friends of Historic Catalina’ $40 entry. John Large, then President of  CAMS was one of the early members) and spent funds on fence repairs, trimming undergrowth and patching tar- then (courtesy of the Navy, another story) painted the Armco battleship grey, the DSR were so impressed they renewed the licence without consulting CAMS (another story). The circuit was then used for lap dashes for another ten years. When the period for review came, CAMS (although invited, another story) did not officially turn up and that is why the circuit was closed. These days the circuit’s closure is said to be due to indigenous or noise reasons but Bruce claims that is incorrect, as at the time it was just the normal 10-year reassessment, as required under the Local Government Act, that applies to many council operations. That years later, council assigned the area to an Aboriginal Group was not the issue at the time- that latter decision was merely to devolve themselves of the responsibility of maintenance which automatically occurred whilst there was income from motorsport.


Professionally he has served decades as a shipping traffic manager, property developer, grazier and executive accommodation operator.  Married since 1960 to Tilli – one son and three daughters – Currently writing his memoirs which may put a new slant on CAMS History given that the current CEO rejects consultation.


Javelin Special Technical Specifications…

As reported in-period in MotorSport



Changes to the cars specifications from the above include a Marshall M200 supercharger, replacement of the Norton gearbox with a close ratio Jowett box which drove through a Ford differential with open driveshafts,. Early in the cars life the swing axles were replaced by a De Dion rear end and torsion bars donated by a Javelin.



Bruce with plenty of interest (above) at a race meeting in the mid-nineties. Inherent design brilliance clear- mid-engine, Jowett low flat-four aluminium crankcase, cast iron head 1486cc, OHV, two-valve engine, its only the supercharger which makes the motor look ‘big’. Ron Reid’s Sulman Singer trailer in the background an ever-present member of the Oz historic scene for decades (still is, the car is now in his sons hands)


Grainy photograph above shows SU carb at top-left, supercharger and inlet manifold. Standard Javelin heads were modified to allow the exhausts to exit to the rear.


Photo above included to show the cars wonderful lines- and a great overhead shot of the suspension. You can see the De Dion tube, exposed axles and twin radius rods. At the front you can see the transverse leaf spring. Twin-fuel tanks, one each side of the driver, whopping big steering wheel and left hand change for the four speed Javelin close-ratio gearbox.


Three little shots above.

To the left shows the chain drive from the crank to blower. In the middle a clearer one of the front suspension which comprises top transverse leaf spring, lower wishbones and co-axial shocks. Front radiator is clear as is the ‘semi’-spaceframe chassis. The far right shot is rear suspension detail- to the right the De Dion tube and to the left the open driveshafts/axles from the Ford differential.

In terms of the rear suspension, Bruce comments; ‘The torsion bar rear end was very clever- the two torsion bars (one either side) run alongside the chassis tubes with the ride height adjustment at the end- all of it was ex-Javelin and standard. As built it would have been fine on those rough circuits but for the later hot-mix variety I softened the suspension with positive results. I took a couple of leaves out of the front transverse spring and ground about thirty thou off the two rear torsion bars- it worked fine’.

The two two photos below ‘bring it all together’.

The first shows the chassis devoid of bodywork and the two side fuel tanks. It shows the two main chassis tubes and additional structural elements, can we call it a ‘semi-spaceframe’?




The other shot above reveals the key mechanical components and their justaposition- Jowett engine and four speed gearbox with the shortest of prop-shafts joining a Ford differential. Open axles and De Dion tube with two forward radius rods each side. Neat, clever, simple.


Arthur Wylie and his (and brother Ken’s) Javelin Special, with Wylie looking suitably nautical- I wonder what yacht club it is, in the 1953 AGP Albert Park paddock. Note attention to detail of the new car with its neat little grille and bonnet badge.


‘In Period’ Race Record of the Wylie Javelin…


The ‘Javelin Special’ appeared on Jowett agent ‘Liberty Motors’ stand at the 1951 Melbourne Motor Show.

Motor Manual reported that ‘One of the most interesting exhibits at the show…was the first pubic appearance of the Javelin racing car designed by leading driver Arthur Wylie. The little rear-engine car took pride of place on the stand and was painted vivid yellow’.

Wylie was dealing with a few health issues as the car was completed, as a consequence the Javelin’s competition debut was delayed- Stephen Dalton’s research shows he entered three races at the October ’51 Bathurst meeting, listing two different engine capacities, 1499cc and 1501cc to get under and over 1500cc, but did not appear, the reason given was ‘driver with a ricked back’.

The car finally appeared at the Rob Roy Hillclimb, Melbourne Cup Day meeting on 6 November 1951.

He set a time of 27.42 seconds in the first of three runs throughout the day, on one of his runs AMS notes he spun at ‘Tin Shed’ and went across the Spillway backwards whilst feeling the limits of his new car. I wonder if his concerns about the suitability of the swing-axle rear suspension started then?!

During that notable meeting Jack Brabham won his first road-racing Australian title- the 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship driving his ‘Twin Special Speedcar’ dirt track midget, which, with the addition of front brakes satisfied the scrutineers of its eligibility.

Jack Brabham at Rob Roy during his November 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship winning meeting ‘Twin Special Speedcar’ (L Sims)

In November 1951 Arthur contested the Victoria Trophy at the LCCA’s Ballarat Airfield meeting, he struggled during the 17 lap handicap race as ‘all his gears had left him except for top’.

He took a class win at Rob Roy in March 1952 and on the  Templestowe Hill that June.

In November 1953, by then with the De Dion tube rear suspension fitted, he took the Under 1500cc record at Rob Roy in the Australian Hillclimb Championship- and was third outright.

Arthur Wylie, Javelin Spl, Rob Roy 1954 (Polain)

That same month Arthur and his brother Ken entered the revolutionary little car in the first Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park on 21 November. It was the circuit’s first meeting, and notable as the first AGP held in a major population centre or city.

Graham Howard’s ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ records that the ‘Most opportunistic start of the field had been made by Wylie’s yellow Javelin, a very accelerative little car, and he strung together a series of openings to be sixth (momentarily fifth) as the field swept through the very fast corners on the opposite side of the lake- and then on the quick left hand kink outside the football ground he lost it and had to wait for most of the field to go past before he could rejoin’.

Lex Davison’s new HWM Jaguar passes the spinning Arthur Wylie on lap 1 of the 1953 AGP, Albert Park (SCW)

Both Wylies drove the car, they managed to finish ninth overall despite a slipping clutch. Bruce observes that the car then had no baffle behind the radiator and in such a long race both brothers suffered from heat exhaustion as a consequence.

The sophisticated nature of the car (below) and it’s unusual appearance drew crowds of people eager to have a look at the Javelin’s secrets, developed as it was by a talented young local.

Sensational 1953 AGP Albert Park paddock shot from the Dacre Stubbs archive. Stunning engine detail inclusive of SU carb, Marshall blower, water header tank, clutch linkage atop Javelin gearbox- and bottom right, one of the two main chassis longerons. Workmanship and attention to detail clear (Dacre Stubbs)


Ken Wylie, Javelin Spl ahead of Jack Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Victoria Trophy, Fishermans Bend 1954 (SLV)

Stan Jones ran the car when offered it by the Wylies when his own Cooper failed at Templestowe, Jones took the car to a class record of 61.51 seconds.

At Fishermans Bend in March 1954 (photo above) Ken Wylie contested the Victoria Trophy finishing third behind Stan’s Maybach and Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol. In a strong performance Wylie was in second from lap 23 and appeared set to finish in that slot until slowed by tyre wear allowing Jack ahead.

Wheels have it that Arthur drove the car to 3rd in the 1954 Victoria Trophy but it was brother Ken Wylie at the wheel that day

The following week Rob Roy succumbed to the little cars speed, Wylie set a class record with a race report recording that ‘this car is a very consistent performer and shows a clean pair of wheels to many of the larger racing machines in the longer road events’.

The brothers took the car to Orange at Easter 1954 contesting a series of races at Gnoo Blas- second in a 22 mile handicap and victory in the Redex 45 mile scratch race at an average speed of 95mph a good yield for the weekend. The Javelin was recorded at 132mph using a 3.3:1 rear axle.

Arthur Wylie and his steed at Gnoo Blas in 1954 (aussiehomesteadracing)

Wylie advertised the car in his Australian Motor Sports magazine in August 1954 and after listing its successes his ad said ‘contrary to what the armchair experts may say, the car has never blown a head-gasket, run bearings or broken piston rings etc. The car has the original motor’.

The little racer was bought by Arthur Griffiths of Toowoomba who air-freighted the car and trailer from Essendon Airport in outer Melbourne to Brisbane- the trailer was cut in half to fit into the aircraft and then welded back together again upon arrival in Queensland!

Leyburn was close by to Griffiths, success in September 1954 was achieved with a scratch race victory ahead of Rex Taylor’s ex-Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C. Later in the day Griffiths won in front of Ken Richardson’s Cooper JAP.

Like practically every other racing car in Queensland, Griffiths entered the Javelin in the 1954 Australian Grand Prix held at Southport on the Gold Coast.

Motor Manual reported that ‘Arthur Griffiths…was one of Queensland’s main hopes in the race. For the first two thirds of the race he fought a continuous duel with Doug Whiteford (Black Bess Ford V8 Spl) but within a lap of Whiteford’s withdrawal the Javelin blew a cylinder head gasket forcing him out of the race’, he was in third place at the time. Lex Davison won this dramatic race in an HWM Jaguar.

I wrote about the 1954 AGP at Southport a while back, click here to read about it;

Arthur Griffiths, Javelin Spl during the 1954 AGP (Polain)


Flat out during the AGP (E Hayes)

It was about this time the car obtained the name ‘Wylie Javelin’, which was thought to more appropriate after the car moved from Wylie ownership although its nickname amongst the racing fraternity was ‘The Goanna’ given the similarities in physical appearance of the reptile and car!

In March Griffiths raised the flying quarter class record at Leyburn from 112.7mph to 117mph but during the June meeting a rear axle failure caused a considerable rebuild- he was leading Geordie Anderson’s  Jag XK120 at the time. The car then passed back to Arthur Wylie in Melbourne before he sold it to Don Gorringe who was the Jowett agent in The Apple Isle, Tasmania.

Gorringe’s first meeting in the little machine was under the Wylie’s supervision- he contested the support events at the 25 November 1956 Tourist Trophy meeting at Albert Park, the wonderful photo below shows the car in the capacious park’s paddock.

(G McKaige)


Don Gorringe, Baskerville 1958 (Gorringe Family)

Gorringe had much success with the car and as a notable businessman about Hobart it was not uncommon for Don to drive the racer on the road, it was a quiet place after all!

(Gorringe Family)

I have written about the Tasmanian Youl brothers previously. The young graziers were making their way in motor racing, John was looking for the next step up from his Porsche 356 and in April 1958 acquired the Wylie Javelin racing it at all of the local venues.

He won races inclusive of setting a lap record at Baskerville, won a state hillclimb championship, took the Penguin Hill record- perhaps during the March 1959 meeting which he won, and finished third in the Australian Hillclimb Championship held at the Queens Domain, Hobart in November 1959- Bruce Walton in the Walton Cooper took the win that day, the second of six ‘on the trot’ championships Bruce won.

Youl completely rebuilt the car and commented at the time that it was the best handling machine he had ever driven. After he bought a Cooper T51 Climax to step into national competition the car lay idle for a while but was eventually taken to Victoria by John Sheppard on John Youl’s behalf- and was then sold to Victorian, Bob Punch.

When Punch offered it for sale, frustrated with its reliability, he was considering fitment of a Peugeot engine, it was at this point Bruce Polain came in- the little car was lucky Jowett enthusiast Polain came onto the scene then. The car was never cut and shut or butchered with other mechanicals in an effort to keep it competitive with more modern machines.

The racer continued to live an active life with Bruce a much loved member of the historic scene. It appeared at the first ‘All-Historic’ meeting at Amaroo Park in 1976 with John Youl as guest-driver in the Grand Parade.

In 1984 the Wylie Javelin toured New Zealand and continued to race all over Australia upon its return. In 1997 Bruce sold it, since then, sadly, the car has seen more sedentary use, somehow not right for such a significant and always raced machine…

Don Gorringe at the end of a race at Baskerville ahead of Stan Allen Fiat 1400 Spl with John Youl in the distance aboard the red Porsche 356 (oldracephotos)


Stephen Dalton very kindly sent through this article on the new car from the June 1951 issue of Australian Motor Sports- before the car had first raced.




There is more- Sports Car World article…

Bruce has found an article about his car way back in 1966, it may be a bit challenging in parts to read but is included for completeness.












































Arthur Wylie and AMS Snippets…

‘The pages relate to the 27-28 January 1979 Amaroo Historics meeting, with the Wylies guests for the meeting. A nice insight into Arthur and AMS’ wrote Stephen Dalton.

(S Dalton)


(S Dalton)


‘A tribute to Arthur Wylie’ 1990 Amaroo Historics Program cover in the style of AMS…


(S Dalton)


Bruce Polain, Australian Motor Sports, (ACCM) Australian Classic Car Monthly October 1996, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Eric Hayes, George McKaige,, Max Stahl, Leon Sims Collection, Gorringe Family Collection, Martin Stubbs and Dacre Stubbs Archive, Stephen Dalton and his collection, Sports Car World


Tailpiece: John Youl, Wylie Javelin, Queens Domain, Tasmania, November 1959…



fazz 1

(GP Library)

Brand spanking new Ferrari 156, the aluminium body still unpainted awaits its Modena test in early 1961…

fazz 2


Its all happening in this shot.

Its the first track test in April 1961 of the new 120 degree 1.5 litre DOHC, 2 valve V6 which offered a lower centre of gravity to the dominant cars of that year. Phil Hill was crowned World Champion of course, in a year of tragedy for the team, ‘Taffy’ von Trips lost his life at Monza late in the season.

Bending over the car’s nose is Luigi Bazzi, Ferrari’s ‘Senior Technician’ of the time, the large fella to Bazzi’s left is famed ‘panel basher’ Medardo Fantuzzi who made the sexy bodies of these cars and many other Ferrari’s. Carlo Chiti, the cars designer, has his hand in the cockpit. Richie Ginther, ace racer/tester gets comfy before the off. In the hat behind Richie is Romulo Tavoni, Team Manager and leaning against Enzo’s Ferrari 250GT is the chief himself and Phil Hill.

Superb G Cavara cutaway of the jewel like Ferrari 120 degree V6, the key elements of which are beautifully clear


Rear suspension and bodywork detail at Zandvoort during the Dutch GP weekend in May 1961.

Upper and lower wishbones- the bottom one quite widely based, with coil spring/Koni shocks and an adjustable roll bar.

Cockpits of the day were minimalist- we are a year or so away from leather bound wheels in Ferrari cockpits.

Veglia tach and gauges probably displaying water temperature and oil temperature and pressure. Classic Ferrari ‘open gate’ change to the right which lasted all the way to the semi-automatic paddle-shift boxes pioneered by Ferrari in the 3.5 litre 640 V12 in 1989.

Ferrari 156 at the Nürburgring during the August 1962 German GP weekend, by this stage of things the dominant car of 1961 has been well and truly surpassed by the Lotus 25 Climax and BRM P57- Graham Hill won aboard the latter that weekend,.

65 degree V6 in this chassis, note the spaceframe chassis which looks a bit ‘wonky’ in the length above the cam covers of the engine- Doug Nye christened the Ferrari welders of the day ‘Mr Blobby’ given the finesse and finish displayed. They worked ok in 1961 mind you!

(B Cahier)

Four 156’s were entered at the Nürburgring in 1962, here is the World Champion, Phil Hill. He DNF with suspension failure after 15 laps, Ricardo Rodriguez was the best placed Ferrari driver in sixth, Giancarlo Baghetti was tenth and Lorenzo Bandini DNF after an accident on lap 5.


GP Library, Louis Klemantaski Collection, G Cavara




An earlier test than the one above, this chassis fitted with the 65 degree V6. Chiti is at left then the boss, another gent and copiously making notes is famous Ferrari engineer, Mauro Forghieri, then in his early days with the Scuderia. I’m intrigued to know who the mechanic is.

Its a stunning shot of the cars unbelievable lines, their purity complete with the Borrani’s off the car…


Holden LJ Torana ad-shoot at Sandown Park circa 1972…

The Tommy Torana is of no interest other than that GMH are promoting a mid-spec Torana-Six rather than the huffin’ and puffin’ 202 GTR-XU1, surely one of Australia’s finest all-round touring-car racers on tarmac and dirt?

Two of Bob Jane’s cars form the backdrop- the Tasman Formula Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and McLaren M6B Repco 5 litre ‘740’ V8 sports-racer. John Harvey raced the Brabham and both Harves and Jano shared the one of a kind, Repco powered McLaren- albeit it was with John at the wheel that the car won the 1971 and 1972 Australian Sportscar Championships.

John Harvey, McLaren M6B Repco, Warwick Farm Esses 1972 (oldracephotos)

Both cars are superb jiggers and still extant, the McLaren still in Australia and owned by Bob (ongoing family litigation duly noted). Jane’s taste in racing cars down the decades has been flawless, his machines included but are far from limited to a Maserati 300S, Jag XKD, Jag E Lwt, Elfin Type 100 ‘Mono’ Ford, Brabham BT11A Climax, Elfin 400 Repco, Brabham BT23E Repco, the Rennmax built Jane Repco, Bowin P8 Repco, Ralt RT4 Ford plus twenty or so touring cars/sports sedans the most mouth watering of which were the Shelby built Ford Mustang, John Sheppard built Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco and Holden Monaro GTS350 and Pat Purcell constructed Chevy Monza. Lets not forget the Porsche 956 tho it was a lease deal not a car he owned. I’ve lost touch with exactly which cars he retains but I think the scorecard includes the Brabham BT11A, Ralt RT4, McLaren, Monaro and a 635 CSI BMW rings a bell- be great to hear from those who know.

Many other fellas raced these cars other than Jane- the uber successful businessman put way more into racing than he ever extracted- the tabloid family stoushes of recent decades are a sad final chapter in a great mans life.

Sandown old-timers know this bit of real estate rather well. The racers are facing the wrong way in the pitlane, the models are standing more or less on the spot, depending upon your car, that brakes and a downshift or two into second gear would be considered for the ‘Peters’ or ‘Torana’ (depending upon your era) left-hander and then the blast up the back straight.

Harvey again, Brabham BT36 Waggott, into the WF Esses 1972 Tasman round (unattributed)

Etcetera: Bob Jane Racing brochure circa 1971 from Murray Thomas’ Collection…

















Greg Feltham Collection, Murray Thomas Collection







‘When You’re Hot- You’re Hot’ absolutely captured the performance variants of the Torana at the time- the GTR ‘poverty pack’ and ‘ducks-guts’ GTR-XU1. But, at fourteen years old at the time, overall I thought ‘Going Ford Was The Going Thing’! Fords ‘Total Performance’ approach to motor racing globally was intoxicating for a teenaged racing nut- this one anyway!


(G Fry)

Chris Amon on the downhill plunge from Sandown’s Rise into Dandy Road, Talon MR-1 Chev, Sandown 100, January 1975…

When I first became interested in motor racing Chris Amon loomed large as an ace from ‘across the ditch’, he wasn’t Australian but he was a Kiwi which was more than close enough. Surely no two countries on the planet are closer in every respect?

One of the first posters I had on my bedroom wall was of ‘that shot’-Chris tickling the throttle of his Ferrari 312 into a gorgeous slide at Oulton Park during the Gold Cup in 1968. From that point on I willed him into that championship F1 win that cruelly never came.

Chris Amon Ferrari 312 on his way to 2nd behind Jackie Stewart, Matra MS10 Ford, Oulton Park Gold Cup in August 1968 (LAT)

By the 1975 Tasman Series Chris had been in a horrid career downer with dogs of F1 cars way beneath him for a couple of years- his own AF101 rocket in 1974 and the two Tecno’s the year before, they were shit-heaps at best.

In fact he had a ‘good finish’ to his F1 career in Mo Nunn’s Ensigns in 1975/6 proving yet again his pace but one mechanical failure too many finally made him chuck it all in at the tender young age of 33- later in ’76- brief Wolf Can-Am interlude in early 1977 duly noted.

Amon, Tecno PA123,  Monaco 1973. Chris put the car 12th on the grid but DNF lap 22 with overheating. Stewart won in Tyrrell 006 Ford (P Cahier)


Amon, Amon AF101 Ford, Jarama 1974. Chris Q23 and out with braking problems on lap 22, Niki Lauda won in a Ferrari 312B3 (Twitter)


Chris, Ensign N176 Ford, British GP, Brands 1976. Stunning Q6 in the small teams car, DNF lap 8 with a water leak, James Hunt took the win in a McLaren M23 Ford (Pinterest)

But as I trundled out to Sandown in mums trusty Morris 1100 in 1975- I’d ‘conquered Sandown’ only a week or so before, a week after getting my drivers licence during a Peter Wherrett Advanced Course in that performance machine. I was keen to see how Chris handled a layout on which he had last won in 1969 when he wrapped up the final Tasman round, and series win, in his works Ferrari 246T.

Like so many really fast blokes he made it look easy.

Not much attitude on the car at all, but quick. Braking late, with a late blip of the throttle using few revs on the down-changes, he was as smooth as silk throughout. Good with feedback to his mechanics, I stalked him the whole weekend! i could hear some of it, the Jack McCormack Team were a seasoned F5000 outfit having run Sam Posey in the States for some years before.

GM ahead of Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MR5 Repco at Oran Park in 1974 (B Stratton)

Both Graham McRae and Chris made those cars- the GM2 Chev and it’s twin, the MR-1 Chev sing that summer but there were way too few finishes to threaten the three fellas who fought out that final Tasman round at Sandown- Graeme Lawrence, John Walker and Warwick Brown all in Lola T332’s- the greatest of all F5000 machines. Brown won the title and John Goss an eventful race in his Matich A53 Repco .

McRae followed up his very successful Len Terry designed Leda LT27/McRae GM1, a car Graham ‘concepted’ together with Terry, with the GM2. It was raced once in the UK- at the final 1973 Euro F5000 round at Brands on 21 October having troubles with a duff shocker- before landing in Australia in time for the November AGP held at Sandown, a race ‘Cassius’ won in his new car by two seconds from John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco and John Walker’s unique, similarly powered Lola T330.

I spectated at the race as a teenager. In the year of the Lola T330 the GM2 was a superb looking, ‘McLaren M23-esque’ machine. With its rocker front suspension, deformable for 1974 mandated side pods and very careful attention to aerodynamics it really looked the goods.

Later in 1973 John Heynes, McRae’s business partner sold their Poole factory to the Penske Team to house their F1 effort- and the drawings and intellectual property rights of the GM2 design to Jack McCormack in California who built several cars designated Talon MR-1 and MR-1A. I will pick up this topic later in the article.

Feel The Earth Move: NZ GP Puke 1974. GM and Peter Gethin, the winner, GM2 and Chevron B24, #18 David Oxton and John McCormack- Begg FM5 Chev and Elfin MR5 Repco. The keen eyed will see the Lawrence and Walker Lolas- T332 and T330 and the rest. Tasman F5000 at its height (T Marshall)


GM exits Torana Corner @ Sandown 1974, check out the front rocker angles as the GM3 is booted hard in second gear for the blast up the back straight (B Keys)

In the 1974 Tasman Series Graham was prodigiously fast starting from pole in the NZ GP at Pukekohe and setting fastest lap in three of the four Kiwi rounds- Levin, Pukekohe and Teretonga but he had problems in three of the races- oil pressure, valve spring and rear aerofoil, 2nd at Teretonga was his only points yield at home.

In Australia he was 6th, 2nd and 7th at Surfers, Sandown and Adelaide and disqualified at Oran Park. The speed he had displayed in the three previous Tasmans was mainly there but the reliability was not, by then the Louis Morand Chevy’s had been replaced by another engine-builder’s products.

Peter Gethin won the championship in a VDS Chevron B24 from Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev and John Walker, John McCormack and Teddy Pilette- all on 21 points driving Lola T330 Repco, Elfin MR5 Repco and Chevron B24 Chev respectively.

GM, past the Wigram aircraft hangars in 1974 (T Marshall)


Sandown Tasman 1974 with GM seated. Rocker front suspension in an F5000 of the period unusual, rest of the car typical- and superbly finished and built, the last car built by McRae at Poole prior to the factory sale to Roger Penske. Aluminium monocoque, Melmag wheels, Hewland DG300 ‘box (R Davies)

With money tight GM didn’t contest the European Championship but took the GM2 to the US in 1974.

He started the season in a Talon MR-1, racing it at Mid Ohio and Mosport and then switched to a Lola T332, finishing 4th behind Andretti, Redman and Eppie Wietzes at Watkins Glen, DNF from Q6 at Road America and then raced the McRae GM2 at Ontario Q25 with problems and DNF, Laguna Seca Q16 and 10th. Perhaps the final Riverside round was an indicator of the cars speed against the best in the F5000 world- he was fifth behind the T332’s of Mario Andretti, Brian Redman, Warwick Brown and Al Unser from Q10.

Sam Posey and Jon Woodner also raced Talons that season with Woodner doing the best of the pair.

McRae aboard a Talon MR-1 Chev, Mid Ohio 1974 (M Windecker)


US F5000 Championship Riverside 1974, Graham aboard GM2 ‘001’ (A Upitis)

By the time the 1975 Tasman commenced McRae had shipped the car home to New Zealand and developed the GM2’s aerodynamics with a Ferrari inspired bladed front wing and long fences atop each sidepod.

Clearly, given the speed of GM2 against strong (Tasman) opposition the car was not as bad as has been portrayed in some texts which have not looked carefully at the cars qualifying pace but rather only the results- which are not quite so flash as the machines ultimate pace as expressed in qualifying.

Chris Amon, Talon MR-1 Chev, Wigram 1975 (T Marshall)


Chris taking care of the media at home in 1975 (T Marshall)


John Walker Lola T332 Repco from Chris and Graeme Lawrence Lola T332 Chev at Surfers Paradise in 1975 (B Thomas)

The GM2/MR-1 was on pole in McRae’s hands at Levin, Pukekohe, Wigram and Teretonga with Chris in his heavy, underpowered MR-1 second on the grid at Pukekohe, Wigram, Teretonga, Oran Park and Adelaide.

They won 2 of the races- McRae at Wigram and Amon the following weekend at Teretonga with Lola T332’s winning five rounds and John Goss in his Matich A53 Repco winning one, Sandown. The Lola T400, the Huntingdon marques new for 1975 machine was in strife with Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart struggling to find the pace the T332 had- an update kit designed by Patrick Head would do the trick but it was no help for the two buddies from New South Wales, their Tasman was shot.

GM, McRae GM2 Chev, Wigram 1975 (T Marshall)


GM and Chris at Oran Park in 1975, GM2 and it’s ‘child’ the MR-1 Talon (V Hughes)


McRae Levin 1975, GM2 (T Marshall)

Into the US Series in 1975 the Talon MR-1A’s were not nearly as quick as the Lola T332C- awesome racing weapons driven by some of the most talented blokes on the planet at the time, and slipped down the grids.

Warwick Brown raced a works MR-1A with his Australian patron, mining magnate, Pat Burke’s support in 1975 but commented more than once that he should have taken his Tasman winning T332 Chev ‘HU27’ back for a full tilt at the title in 1975 given his immediate pace in the small team’s limited 1974 US campaign. There is no doubt in my mind that the self belief for WB to win the ’75 Tasman was a direct result of proving to himself he could do it amongst the big hitters mentioned earlier in this article in the US in late 1974.

Generally the MR-1A fell down the grid from a qualifying perspective from Pocono Q5 and Mosport Q3 early in the season. WB had a year of good reliability from the car and Peter Molloy’s powerful, trusty Chevies with third at Mosport behind the Andretti and Redman T332’s and fourth at Watkins Glen his best performances.

Warwick Brown, Talon MR-1A Chev, Mid Ohio 1975. Slinky from this angle (R Deming)


Brown’s Talon in the Mid Ohio paddock 1975 (R Deming)


Chris Amon joined Warwick at the marvellous Long Beach GP won by Redman’s T332.

Their qualifying positions were a bit dreary, WB 19th and Chris 26th but both raced to sixth in their heats with Amon fourth in the feature race and Brown two slots behind in sixth. Vern Schuppan was second in Dan Gurney’s Eagle 755 Chev and Eppie Wietzes third in his Lola T400M Chev with David Hobbs fifth in a Lola T330/332 Chev to provide the top six of a race which would be run to F1 from the following year.


Warwick Brown in the ‘works’ Talon MR-1A Chev he raced during 1975, Long Beach GP


Bleedin’ the brakes, Chris, Long Beach 1975, Talon MR-1A. Poor run in qualifying belied a strong race (K Hyndman)

McRae raced a Lola T332 in the US in 1975.

His results were as follows; Watkins Glen Q9 and DNF suspension, Elkhart Lake Q12 and 7th, Long Beach Q8 and DNF after colliding with John Gunn’s T332 on lap 1. At Laguna Seca he was Q4 and 8th- and 2nd in his heat behind Unser’s T332, and at Riverside Q13 and DNF with engine problems before completing a lap.

GM, Lola T332 Chev, Long Beach 1975

Back home with the Tasman Series at an end he didn’t race in the Australasian 1976 Internationals- which that year were two separate F5000 series in New Zealand and Australia with different sponsors, it was the first time for the best part of a decade McRae didn’t compete on home turf.

GM, Torana Corner, Sandown on the way to winning the 1978 AGP, McRae GM3 Chev 1978 (HAGP)

Graham McRae’s final car, the F5000 GM3 Chev was radical in looks with its wonderful perspex cockpit bodywork which showed the driver at work is really beyond the scope of this article, its a nice topic for another time, but here is a summary.

Apart from its looks the car was a conventional F5000 machine built by GM in Costa Mesa, California with Graham Lister lending a helping hand on a trip through Los Angeles. The cars race debut was the very last round of the US Championship in 1976 at Riverside for Q22, 6th in his heat and DNF in the final.

Teddy Pilette, Lola T430 Chev from GM’s new GM3 Chev and Peter Gethin’s one of a kind Chevron B37 Chev- all three of these cars later had successful careers in Australia in the hands of GM himself, Alf Costanzo and Bruce Allison (unattributed)


GM in the GM3 Chev Can-Am in 1977, Riverside Turn 6. Check out the vestigial bodywork, almost reminds one of Vern Schuppan’s first Can-Am body on his Elfin MR8? (Eric Schaal)

With that, Graham converted the car into a Can-Am contender with vestigial sportscar bodywork racing it at Watkins Glen, Road America, Mid Ohio and Riverside which yielded his best result, Q11 and sixth.

Gerry LaRue’s magic, ‘right in the cockpit’ shot of GM at Riverside in 1977 below makes McRae’s design intent crystal clear! GM2 Chev Can Am- look closely at this shot and others of the car in F5000 format and you see just how minimalist the sportscar bodywork of the design is.


(G LaRue)

At the end of the North American season the Kiwi then converted the chassis back to F5000 specification and shipped it from California to Australia to contest the 1978 Rothmans International Series.

There his results were- Sandown Q3/DNF, Adelaide Q7/5th, Surfers Paradise Q14/7th, and Oran Park Q2/3rd. The car stayed in Australia that season with GM winning both the 1978 Australian Grand Prix at Sandown and the three round Gold Star Series- two round wins, in fact these were his last major victories.

The cars final iteration, and model name change from GM3 to GM9, then took place in New Zealand with the chassis and body substantially modified for GM’s Can-Am final races in the US in late 1980, 1981 and into 1982 and the then the cars sale. It’s still extant in New Zealand.

GM, McRae GM9 Chev, Caesars Palace Can-Am October 1981 (B Thomas)


McRae, Sandown’s Peters Corner, on the way to victory, McLaren M10B 1971 (I Smith)

Malaya Garages, Leda Cars and Len Terry…

Let’s now go back a few steps to retrace Graham’s F5000 career from its earliest days.

McRae made his name in small bore single-seaters in NZ, demonstrating his engineering prowess- he is Engineering degree qualified with the twin-cam powered McRae 69 1.5 Ford twin-cam and its forbears giving the Tasman 2.5 machines plenty of curry each summer.

His foray into the big F5000 league was funded by Tom Clark and his Crown Lynn Potteries business which acquired the McLaren M10A Chev ‘#300-6’ GM raced in the 1970 Tasman Series. Clark knew what it was to be a racer, he contested races in both New Zealand and Australia during the 1950’s aboard a variety of cars including a Maserati 8CM and Ferrari Super Squalo 555.

GM’s self constructed McRae S2 Ford 1.5 twin-cam ahead of Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T at Levin in November 1969- GM finished 6 and 3 seconds respectively behind Graeme in two races that day (T Marshall)

McRae had his first foray in Europe in mid-1969 when he contested six Euro F2 Rounds as his NZ Driver to Europe prize in a Frank Williams run Brabham BT23C Ford FVA. His best result was 4th in the GP of Limbourg at Zolder behind Jochen Rindt, Jacky Ickx and Piers Courage in a car which by then was hardly the latest bit of kit. For the record, he also raced at Thruxton, the GP of Madrid, Hochenheim, Monza and the GP of Reims yielding DNF/DNF/9th/12th/11th.

Contesting the 1970 Tasman in a McLaren M10A he was immediately comfortable in these big demanding beasts of cars taking two of the nine rounds at Teretonga and Surfers Paradise.

That year the series was contested by a mix of F5000’s, Tasman 2.5’s and 2 litre cars with Graeme Lawrence winning in the same Ferrari Dino 246T chassis Chris Amon used to win in 1969.

Superb Terry Marshall portrait of GM on the grid at Levin in 1970, McLaren M10A Chev- he stares him down before the off. I love this shot (T Marshall)

The M10A wasn’t going to do the trick in Europe so was replaced by an M10B chassis ‘400-11S’ with which Graham achieved several seconds before taking the final Brands Hatch round in late September to ‘break through’ a long way from home. The series was won by Peter Gethin’s McLaren M10B with other hotshots that year Mike Hailwood, Howden Ganley, Frank Gardner, Trevor Taylor, Reine Wisell and others.

McRae returned home to the Antipodes and brained them with his extensively developed M10B in the ’71 Tasman. In the same chassis he used in Europe he won three rounds of the series- at Levin, Wigram and Sandown and took the first of his three Tasman titles, all of which were won on the trot. Frank Matich’s McLaren M10B Repco and Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev were second and third with Frank Gardner’s works Lola T192 Chev fourth. There was plenty of depth in that field, it was a very good win.

At this point, lets pause for context again.

John Surtees approached Len Terry to design an F5000 car for him- Terry’s Leda LT17 intended for Roger Nathan was taken over by James Garner and John Surtees becoming the 1969 Surtees TS5 with which David Hobbs did so well.

David Hobbs, Team Surtees, Surtees TS5A Chev (Terry’s LT17 design) at Road America, July 1970- 2nd to John Cannon’s McLaren M10B Chev (unattributed)

Terry decided commercially it would be more profitable to build cars in volume rather than design them for a one-off fee. He entered into a commercial arrangement to do so with Malcolm Bridgelands Malaya Garages, who took over the majority interest in Leda Cars towards the end of 1969- the name was one Len had ‘on the shelf’ as an alternative name for business relationship with Dan Gurney during the Eagle phase of his career Le (Len) and Da (Dan).

The successful LT17/TS5 design was replaced by the 1970 LT20, a disaster. It was a lower, lighter version of the Surtees TS5 with totally interchangeable front and rear suspension which simply did not work. In August, one LT22 was built which was an LT20 with conventional multi-link rear suspension, it too was not a star, despite the testing efforts of Roy Pike, Frank Gardner and Graham McRae to get it working better.

Martin Lyons, who worked for Leda Cars relates GM’s Leda test and this Frank Gardner exchange with Len Terry after FG put the LT22 through its paces at Silverstone in 1970;

‘Graham tested the LT22 at Silverstone in 1970 for us.

He shared our workshops in Billingshurst, West Sussex. Graham after a few warm up laps, pitched the car into Woodcote as he would in his M10B. All we heard in the pits was tortured tyre squeals that went on forever (or so it seemed) and we all anticipated that dull crump/thump. It never happened and Graham came into the pits, as white as a sheet!

Len asked Frank Gardner to drive the car as well at Silverstone and after a few laps Frank peeled into the pits, rolled to a halt and killed the engine. Len paced briskly and knelt down next to Frank. After about 30 seconds (which seemed like 5 minutes) Frank drolly said “Congratulations Len!” Another pause, Len thinking a compliment was coming his way, leant further into the cockpit. “You’ve designed one car and made it handle like two!” Frank unbuckles, levers himself out of the car and walks away back down the pitlane. Everyone in our team heard this and are looking away stifling laughter…’

Roy Pike testing the brand new Leda LT22 Chev, Snetterton, 31 August 1970 (J Ballantyne)

The LT22 was replaced with the 1971 LT25 and achieved some top-five placings in the hands of ex-Lotus GP driver Trevor Taylor who had enjoyed some race wins with Team Surtees in F5000 before joining the Malaya Garages outfit.

When Graham McRae returned to the UK in early 1971 he figured he needed a new car so decided upon a McLaren M18- not McLaren’s finest of racing weapons as events transpired, not that the model didn’t win a race or two mind you.

The ‘Team Trojan’ entered M18 ‘500-02’ had one of the shortest of lives of any racing car when Graham boofed it bigtime in private practice at Snetterton before the second round of the European series in early April. He went off sideways at Russell, hit the bank, flew up into the air and landed upside down before the car rolled back onto its wheels. The racer was totally rooted but the hapless driver was AOK and ready to fight another day!

McRae, who had missed the opening round at Mallory Park- and then the Snetterton, Brands Hatch, Mondello Park, the Silverstone International Trophy and Castle Combe rounds, returned with a vengeance to win at Mallory Park in late May with none other than good ole M10B ‘400-11S’! It was a great reminder of who the class of the field generally was even if his car wasn’t the latest bit of kit.

In mid-summer of 1970 Graham came to the arrangement with Malaya Garage’s Malcolm Bridgeland to garage, prepare and transport his McLaren to meetings together with the Leda entries, Martin Lyons mentioned above. Inevitably McRae got to know the crew at Billingshurst pretty well.

At Monza in June he didn’t qualify the McLaren M10B but practiced Len Terry’s Leda LT25 ‘1’ to get a good feel for the car. That weekend was a good one for the team, Trevor Taylor finished second in another LT25 Chev just behind Alan Rollinson’s Surtees TS8 Chev, clearly the car had some merit.

McRae won in the old-nail McLaren again at Thruxton on the August day the F5000 world changed- the Lola T300 prototype made its race debut in Frank Gardner’s hands. The man who concepted the T300 knew a thing or two about engineering racing cars, it would take a couple of rounds before FG took the T300’s first race win but McRae knew he needed something pretty special to be competitive in 1972 given Gardner’s pace in Lola’s existing T192 let alone Huntingdon’s new weapon.

And so it was that Graham explored his ideas about what he wanted in his next car with Terry- thoughts strongly influenced by his McLaren experiences, the Leda LT25 and the Lola T300. He was also mindful of the very competitive ‘pregnant belly’ F1 designs of the time- the BRM P153/160, McLaren M19 and Tyrrell 001-002.

Leda LT27/GM1 ‘001’ 1972 (T Matthews)

Trevor Lister recalls ‘Graham was determined to set his engine as low in the chassis as physically possible so he redesigned the engine sump so there was the minimum possible clearance between the crankshaft and the bottom of the sump. This enabled the engine to be installed lower and reduced ground clearance.’

Perhaps a fair description of the LT27’s design is that conceptually it was largely McRae’s with the detail design and drawing all Terry’s. Along the way they decided to use some McLaren hardware, notably the suspension uprights, which suggests the Leda bits were regarded as inferior to McLaren’s or simply that was what GM wanted- a known quantity which would work straight away.

Lister also recalls ‘At one stage we encountered continual cracking of the brake discs and Graham decided he would drill holes to improve the cooling by dissipating the heat build-up. I remember him standing at the drill-press for hours one day drilling dozens of holes in all the discs, I believe he was the first to do this in F5000 and it was copied by some teams even in F1? He also grooved the discs from inside to outside to improve the clearance of brake dust. Again, other teams copied very quickly but some had the grooves running the wrong way’.

Leda Cars were based in the Malaya Garages premises along with Alan McCall’s (another very talented Kiwi) Tui Super Vee project and a project to build a Morgan like road car. The F5000 plan for 1972 was for McRae and Taylor to race two LT27’s in the 1972 Euro F5000 Championship, but Graham first had his Tasman title to defend.

Ampol ad proclaiming McRae’s 1973 Tasman Series win. Pic is of GM Leda LT27/GM1 Chev ahead of Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10B Chev at Adelaide International in 1972- David Hobb’s McLaren M22 Chev won that day

Frank Matich figured he had the goods to win the ’72 Tasman, his new Matich A50 Repco had won right out of the box at Warwick Farm, taking the 1971 AGP from John Surtees amongst others.

The 1972 Tasman line-up was particularly strong with works Surtees, Lola and Trojan Cars entries for Mike Hailwood, Frank Gardner and David Hobbs. In addition there was strong competition from Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart and the Ansett Team Elfin duo of John McCormack and Garrie Cooper.

It isn’t clear how much testing McRae had completed in his new Leda LT27/GM1 Chev but the neat, squat, STP sponsored machine was fast right from the off complete with powerful, reliable, Weber carbed Morand Chevys.

McRae won at Levin, Wigram, Surfers Paradise and Sandown and took pole at Pukekohe, Levin and Wigram- notable was that the car was quick on a variety of circuits. Clearly Leda had a competitive customer car to compete with the Lola T300 and Chevron B24 which promised to be the marques available in quantity that season.

Yay team, Malaya Garages Auosport ad, March 1972 (M Lyons)

McRae returned to Europe and raced the same chassis in the Brands, Mallory Park, Snetterton rounds with dramas in all three races before breaking through for his first win of the championship that year in the April Brands round- a car for Taylor finally appeared at the April Silvertone meeting.

After the first three or four races the Malaya Garages people decided to withdraw their support for the race team with the drivers looking likely to be left high and dry- arguably Taylor already was. A London insurance broker and wealthy motor racing enthusiast, John Heynes came to the rescue and acquired premises in Poole, Dorset installing McRae in charge. Terry resigned his directorship of Leda Cars Ltd and relocated his own business ‘Design Auto’ to his home in Dorset. A contemporary Autosport report has it that Len’s only relationship at that point was as a shareholder of Leda Cars.

With the takeover complete, from 1 July 1972 the LT27 design became known as the McRae GM1 with 14 cars built and sold in 1972/1973. To that point the cover of Leda’s own sales brochure described the car as ‘Leda Type 27/GM’, which should put to an end any conjecture as to what the car’s model designation was formally prior to 1 July 1972.

Whilst all these corporate manoeuvrings were going on McRae had races to contest, his season being set up by STP- who had backed the new car during the successful 1972 Tasman campaign and decided to continue their sponsorship to forays in both the US and Europe.

GM and crew, Leda GM1 Chev, Laguna Seca practice 1972 (R Rodgers)


Brainerd Donnybrooke July 1972. Sam Posey Surtees TS11 Chev, John Cannon McLaren M10B Chev, McRae in GM1 (A Upitis)

McRae won the US L&M Championship and surely would have taken the Euro one too were it not for conflicting rounds which precluded him contesting sufficient races to do so- as it was he won the Nivelles, Silverstone, Brands (July) and Oulton Park rounds and finished third in the title chase behind Gijs van Lennep and Brian Redman in Surtees TS11/McLaren M18 and McLaren M10B/Chevron B24 respectively.

In the US McRae faced strong opposition from Brian Redman (also contesting both the European and US titles), David Hobbs, Derek Bell, Peter Gethin and Aussies Bob Muir, Kevin Bartlett- not all these fellas did the whole series mind you.

Despite that and being new to the circuits and having all the logistical challenges of a different country he won the Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and Road America events of the eight round series taking the ‘SCCA L&M Continental 5000 Championship’ title with 87 points from Sam Posey, Surtees TS11 Chev and Brett Lunger’s Lola T300 Chev.

McRae, GM1, Warwick Farm 1973 (B Stratton)

Into 1973 McRae easily again won the Tasman Series, the combination of the GM1 design, Morand engines and McRae’s preparation and driving talent saw off fields of great depth. The GM1 took five of the eight rounds, McRae won four and Alan Rollinson one.

But it was to be a different thing in the US with a double-whammy of plenty of Lola T330’s on the grids and Jody Scheckter aboard a Trojan T101- whatever Ron Tauranac’s design may have lacked in pace relative to the Lola was more than compensated by Jody’s prowess behind the wheel.

During the year McRae’s versatility was demonstrated with a drive at Indianapolis via the relationship he had with the Granatelli’s, there STP company was also the sponsor of the three car Patrick Racing Team. In a superb effort, GM popped the Patrick Eagle Offy 16th on the grid completing 91 of the 133 laps with a header problem- in the process he was awarded the Rookie of The Year trophy.

It was a bitter/sweet weekend for Pat Patrick and the team- whilst Gordon Johncock won the race in another Eagle the teams other car driven by Swede Savage crashed very badly with the hapless young thruster succumbing to his injuries, or more particularly post-surgery complications, five weeks after the race.

The obligatory Indy qualifying shot- GM in the Patrick Racing Eagle Offy, 1973 (unattributed)


McRae in Frank Williams Iso IR Ford in the Silverstone British GP pitlane in 1973. The eagle eyed will spot Jackie Stewart aboard Derek Gardner’s experimental chisel-nosed Tyrrell 005 Ford behind. This was the chassis Chris Amon was to race in the North American away races- in the end he only raced the car in Canada, Francois Cevert’s death during Watkins Glen practice resulted in the team’s withdrawal from the meeting- which was JYS last GP (LAT)

Needless to say McRae was a ‘man of the moment’ at the time- then like now you need to grab and hold the spotlight with your results to get F1 opportunities. Unfortunately Ken Tyrrell’s offers of a race or two were declined as a result of prior contractual commitments. Unfortunately when the planets did align GM’s F1 career became one of the shortest on record.

Frank Williams was well aware of McRae’s record in the Tasman Series when FW ran a car for Piers Courage in 1969, and of course the Kiwi’s F2 drives with him in early ’69. And so it was that GM raced FW’s Iso IR Ford in the 1973 Silverstone British GP- a race made famous by the huge Woodcote lose of Jody Scheckter which then took out the best part of half the field. McRae’s car was not destroyed unlike many but the Iso’s Lucas injection throttle slides were jammed with sand, so he didn’t take the restart of the race won by Peter Revson’s McLaren M23 Ford.

McRae needed a new F5000- the GM2 was the result drawing upon ideas absorbed from the contemporary racers of the day and built in the Poole workshop. It wasn’t the last racing car built there, Penskes would follow but one can only surmise that John Heynes worked out that the only way to make a lot of money out of motor racing was to start with even more. And so McRae Cars in that incarnation ended, the facility was sold, as were the GM2 design rights and drawings to Jack McCormack.

And that folks, is about where we came in…

Sam Posey’s, yes the very same! Talon MR-1 drawing

After-thought: Formula 5000 Needed a Production McRae GM2 in 1973/4…

Formula 5000 was dead and buried by the Americans at the end of 1976, the knock-on effect went around the planet other than good-ole Australia who hung on to the class for way toooo long- love the category as I did/do.

The causes of F5000’s demise were multi-faceted but primarily was due to the dastardly Lola T330/332/332C which simply rolled over the top of everything its path including the Lolas designed to replace them- the 1975 T400 and 1976 T430!

The punters were getting bored with ‘Formula Lola’ in F5000 so the nuffies in the SCCA and the circuit promoters created single-seat Can-Am- and preserved Formula Lola as the T332CS/T333CS simply preserved the status quo- a non T332 derivative did not win the Can-Am until the Lola T530 did so in 1980.

And so, my thesis goes the class needed another strong make/model to give drivers another competitive mount and the punters another shape to look at. There is no reason why McRae’s development capabilities could not have turned the GM2 into a winning car built by his Poole factory in numbers exactly as the GM1 was. No doubt John Heynes business decision to sell made perfect sense to him- he saw the books and could no doubt assess the commerciality of the arrangements of a company led by a man at the time who could have been seduced to F1. His main asset could have disappeared from the scene for all manner of reasons- think of Chevron in terms of the impact of Derek Bennett’s death or closer to home Garrie Cooper’s at Elfin Sports Cars.

If the Chevron B28 were quicker, if the Chevron B37 were quicker in 1976, if the Lola T400 and T430 were quicker in 1975/6, if the McRae GM2 were built in numbers- and were quick maybe the variety we spectators like would have been provided and F5000 would have survived a little longer at least.

If yer aunty had balls she’d be yer uncle too, I know…

GM at Oran Park, Rothmans International Series 1978, McRae GM3 Chev- soon to be significantly modified in NZ into the Can-Am GM9 (N Stratton)


Leda LT27/GM1 in the US early in the 1972 campaign. Ken Stepney steering, Joe Wright pushing with GM sharing a joke. Overhead shot shows the lines of the car and it’s complex, compound curvature to good effect- and its Leda badge on the nose which Martin Lyons dates the shot as pre-July


Sam Posey with his Talon MR-1 Chev prior to the start of the 1974 US season (J McCormack)


The man in 1978, Sandown or outside the Light Car Club perhaps (I Smith)

Martin Lyons on ‘Living The Dream’ as a young member of the Malaya Garages Team…

‘My first test day with the team was on Wednesday June 9th 1971 at Snetterton race circuit in Norfolk.

I was picked up by Stan, the other race mechanic who had joined us that winter from Rob Walker’s disbanded F1 team. We left Billingshurst at 6.45am in our race-car transporter, which had been owned by the American Eagle F1 team from 1966 to 1968. It still had the AAR badge on the dashboard.

We arrived at the circuit by 10am having emerged from a grey overcast sky to unbroken sunshine only a few miles from Snetterton. The car was unloaded, I filled up the fuel drums with 5-star fuel via handpump.

The car was fuelled and Trevor Taylor, our driver, had arrived in a blue Ferrari Daytona and got changed into his race kit in the transporter. We shared the track with three motorbikes that day (!) and one of them fell off in fright when our car passed him on a corner (or that’s what Trevor speculated!). We were testing a flat plate just above the carburettors and when the car went past the pits you could see a mist of fuel lapping around the plate. It never appeared on the car again. We packed up at about 4.30pm and began the journey home, arriving back in Billingshurst some 4 hours later.

Stan then gave me a lift home in his Mini Traveller (the Mini estate with wooden trims on the body). It had been a day of days. Through my Boots polaroid sunglasses, styled like Jackie Stewart’s the sky looked bluer, the grass looked greener and I was living a dream!!!’

McRae and the curvaceous, wild GM9 Chev Can-Am in 1981/2 (unattributed)

Further information on individual chassis, see Allen Brown’s Oldracingcars…

On McRae

On Leda

Photo Credits…

Special thanks to Terry Marshall for his marvellous evocative work, Gavin Fry, Brian and Neil Stratton, Gerard Richards, Brier Thomas,, LAT, Sam Posey, Tony Matthews, R Deming, Mark Windecker, Roger Rodgers, Ian Smith, Bruce Keys, Gerry LaRue, Eric Schaal, Ken Hyndman

Bibliography…, Martin Lyons and his collection

Tailpiece: Finish as we started, Chris, Talon MR-1 Chev, here at Wigram 1975…

(T Marshall)


(M Bishop)

Allan Moffat, Ford Capri RS3100 leads Jim McKeown, Porsche 911 2.1 Turbo at Hume Weir, 15 June 1975…

I remember being blown away by the sight and sound of Moffat’s glorious ex-works machine upon its Australian debut during the Sandown Tasman meeting five months before. No doubt the echo of the 415 bhp quad-cam, Ford Cosworth V6 as it bounced off the Hume Weir quarry and its surrounds at 8500 rpm was awesome.

Whilst his former, iconic Kar-Kraft built Trans-Am Mustang was very competitive from its first races here in 1969, the Capri (which raced in the Sports Sedan class rather than Improved Touring as the Mustang first did- whilst noting the Mustang’s Sports Sedan period later on) faced a much more competitive grid with cars which had far more power and torque. The Capri had 280 pounds/foot of torque @ 7000 rpm, a lot of Australia’s circuits have lowish average speeds so bottom end mumbo from slower speeds is important- think of Calder and Oran Park not Hockenheim and Monza.

By 1975 the group of next-gen ‘Clever Sports Sedans’ had arrived- the mid-engined John McCormack Valiant Charger Repco-Holden, Bryan Thomson VW Chev V8 ‘Volksrolet’, McKeown’s Porsche Cars Australia owned 911 as well as Pete Geoghegan’s Holden Monaro GTS350 with Frank Gardner’s Tom Nailard concepted Chev Corvair V8 ‘category-rooter’ not too far round the corner. Not to forget Moffat’s Chevy Monza which temporarily replaced the Capri in early 1976 until Ford ‘cracked the shits’ with Allan, and the Capri again took centre stage when a deal was inked to take Ford and Moffat forward for the next couple of years.

(M Bishop)

Moffat swore never to return to Hume Weir after an aggrieved non-Ford fan threw a long-neck Fosters bottle at the star breaking the Capri’s windscreen and soiling the Canadian’s under-garments as a consequence, during his post-win parade lap.

Understandably pissed off, Moffat stopped his Capri and climbed up onto the fence to identify the mongrel concerned, who was by that stage beating a hasty retreat.

The dude was duly identified, charged and went before the courts- but Al Pal never did return to the Weir…

(B Keys)

A favourite Touring Car for me, this photograph above is of Moffat upon the cars Oz debut during the Sandown Tasman meeting in February 1975, hooking into Shell Corner.

What about Jim McKeown’s Porsche though, I’d forgotten about that clever machine?

(Chequered Flag)

Alan Hamilton’s mid-engined Porsche 911…

Was Alan Hamilton and his team in Melbourne the first to build a mid-engined 911? Dunno- but I am intrigued to find out.

With the growth of interest in Sports Sedans (in essence an almost anything goes sedan class) in the early seventies the Porsche racer/importer wanted his marque at the front of the grids. He therefore concepted a clever mix of light weight, mid-engined location of the engine- a 2.1 litre Group 4, 470bhp turbo-charged, SOHC flat-six and ‘racing car’ type suspension, said car to be driven by Jim McKeown.

Hamilton drew simple spaceframe or subframe structures front and rear to pick up the engine and suspension componentry from the 908 (1969-1971 and beyond sports-racer) parts bin. By mounting the engine in front of the rear axle the car would have better weight distribution than the standard 911 layout and therefore better handling. All up weight was about 1500 pounds.

(Chequered Flag)

The top photo shows the spidery frame to support the engine, transaxle and suspension. Brakes are ventilated ATE, 11 inches in diameter both front and rear operated by dual master cylinders with a balance bar mechanism incorporated. The gearbox is of course a Porsche unit with ZF slippery diff.

The keen eyed will note the upper and lower wishbone front suspension rather than the standard McPherson struts, lightweight 908 upright and hubs clear. Unequal length wishbones were also used at the rear, with coil springs and Bilstein shocks at both ends.

Porsche 911 Turbo in the Winton paddock in 1975. Note the beefy roll cage structure and ally housing in the back seat over the engine. Note also location of the puffer compared with the workshop shot below (J McKeown)


McKeown, Hume Weir 1975 (B Keys)

The February 1975 Chequered Flag article about the car notes that ‘CAMS have already announced that the Porsches will be eligible only for Production Sportscar racing in 1976 while March this year will see the production of the first road going turbo-charged Porsches in Europe’- remember what a mind-snapper the first ‘930 Turbos’ were to look at on our roads, even if the driving experience left a little to be desired? CF note the FIA Group 4 version (what became the 934) will be built in 1976.

Oran Park 1975, McKeown, with the suspension working nicely (N Stratton)

Hamilton explained the foibles of driving turbos at the time ‘…driving a turbo-charged car requires more skill than for a normal engined car because when lifting your foot on deceleration there is a time delay of approximately one second before the engine starts to reduce speed. Similarly, on acceleration one second elapses from when you press the accelerator pedal to the time of the increased engine speed. Naturally this type of driving will take a bit of getting used to, and it is planned to test the car extensively before it appears in its proposed first race at Sandown on Febraury 23rd’- the Sandown Tasman meeting at which Moffat’s Capri took its first bow.

Winton 1975- it really was rather fetching on-circuit in this fag packet colour scheme (J McKeown)

Engine shot in the PCA workshop, with specifications as per the ‘Turbo’in the chart below- in essence SOHC, two valve, twin plug turbo-charged flat-six 2142cc engine producing circa 470bhp @ 8000 rpm and 364 ft/lbs of torque at 5500rpm.

(Chequered Flag)

Note the turbo-charger (KKK?), wastegate and pop-off valve and frame to mount the engine into the cars chassis.

Whatever became of this particular Porker?


(Chequered Flag)


Oran Park 1975: McKeown from Moffat, Leo Geoghegan Porsche 911S and Bob Stevens Ford Mustang (N Stratton)


(J Amos)

Batch of three photographs from Julie Amos taken at Oran Park, not sure of the meeting date- looks as though Jim took the front spoiler off in one of the races.

Love the period typical tow rig of V8 powered Kingswood or Falcon panel van, in this case a Holden.

(J Amos)


(J Amos)

Article on Australia’s ‘Cologne Capris’…

Photo and Other Credits…

Mark Bishop, Neil Stratton, Bruce Keys, Chequered Flag magazine February 1975 article by Ronda Matthews, Jim McKeown Racing, Julie Amos

Tailpiece: I can hear the howl and it’s echoes, McKeown and Moffat pre-Fosters missile…

(M Bishop)



(P Geard)

John Youl attacks Mountford Corner, Longford in his Porsche 356 during the late fifties…

John and his racer brother Gavin were scions of a prominent Tasmanian grazier family and very successful, competitive drivers until business pressures forced early retirement. Symmons Plains is a permanent legacy for the racing brothers built as it was on the family property.

(P Geard)

John proved his world level pace in several seasons aboard Cooper Climax T51 and T55 prepared by Geoff Smedley, whose just published book will be definitive on both drivers careers.

In the 1961 Longford shot below he is in the best of company (at right) aboard a Cooper T51 alongside #14 Brabham’s T53 with Austin Miller’s distinctive yellow T51 Climax behind.

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori won the South Pacific Trophy race that weekend from Bill Patterson and John with Austin fourth. Brabham was outed with a broken half-shaft on lap 16 of the 24 lap distance.

Here John’s appearance in the Porsche is a little earlier, the last photo below perhaps in 1957 and the others a little later- you can see the evolution from road car still fitted with hubcaps! to lowered rortier racer. I wonder what modifications were made to that 356 Super?


Paul Geard, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Ellis French, Geoff Smedley, John Richardson

Tailpiece: Youl, White, Walkem on ‘The Flying Mile’, Longford circa 1957…


Youl in what looks like a motor-cycle racing helmet beside his Porker, the yellow machine is Graham White’s Vincent Spl and the obscured Cooper is Jock Walkem’s- the man in black. Delightful bucolic scene belies the high speeds and sound of straining engines which took place annually on this stretch of road over the March Labour Day long-weekend from 1953 to 1968…