Ron Edgerton loomed large in Victorian and Australian motor racing from the thirties to the fifties, make that eighties if one includes his restoration efforts.

He owned a staggering number of exotic road and racing cars including Alfa Romeo Monza, Alta Ford V8, Ballot 5/8 LC ‘Indy’, Bentley 4.5 s/c, Bugatti T37, Cooper T38 Jaguar, Cord, Frazer Nash, Lancia Aurelia, Lotus Cortina, MG, Willys Woody and numerous speedway cars.

The shot above is of Ron and his son Greville in a posed newspaper photograph taken in the mid-late 1950s.

Grev raced also- a Cooper T38 Jaguar and Elfin Mallala Climax. Ron died many years ago but Greville is hale and hearty, still developing commercial properties, and in the middle of restoring a 50-foot huon-pine 1930’s yacht in one of his developments in Moorabbin.

My mate Bob King knows Grev, who very kindly allowed us to scan images from his dad’s album, there are enough of them to keep us going for years. As you will see, some are pro shots he acquired, and some self or family taken happy-snaps.

This first batch are some of the family cars.

I am not going to go berserk with the descriptions throughout this and subsequent posts, together we can flesh out the history of the cars.

Ron and Ken Wylie aboard the Edgerton Bugatti T37 at Aspendale Speedway, a Melbourne southern bayside suburb pre-war.

Meeting date folks? Cashflow to fund Ron’s racing was provided by a printing business. Chassis 37104 is the ex-Russell Taylor/Advanx Tyres car raced by Charlie East. Ron bought it in March 1931 and later fitted a Hudson straight-eight when the delicate block could not be repaired after a decent blow-up at Tooronga.

Earl Davey-Milne has owned the car since the 1940s, see feature here; https://primotipo.com/2019/04/25/alexandra-sprints-and-bugatti-t37-37104/

 

Edgerton was a leading light in early speedway in Australia, research on the #4 Lycoming welcome, similarly about Reynold’s 8/80 JAP.

Bill Reynolds (the Sydney one vs. the St Kilda Wren building one) emigrated to Australia pre-war, having graduated through speedway bikes and then to cars winning World Speedcar Championships in 1939, 1941 and 1958- he won the Australian title  in 1956. He also strayed onto the circuits- a good topic for another time.

 

Australia’s only resident supercharged 4.5-litre Bentley in-period was chassis SM3907.

Yes, much later others were imported. Tom Luxton brought in SM3907 from the UK, Edison Waters famously raced the gas-burner powered car at Bathurst (not for long) over the Easter 1940 weekend. Post-war owners included Lex Davison.

Ron’s caption is ‘Ron, Dawn, Hugh Stewart with blown 4 1/2 Bentley’, quite where those Californian Bungalows are is something to find out. Pre-war is my guess.

 

Edgerton’s Alta Ford V8 at Mitcham Hillclimb in October 1941, interesting that we were still running motorsport events in Australia this late in the war.

It doesn’t seem all that appropriate given the number of blokes having their nuts shot off by this stage – or am I just a limp-wristed-commo-bleeding heart liberal?

Mitcham is a Melbourne outer eastern suburb, housing development of which exploded from the fifties. It looks quite bucolic 15 years or so before.

This car is the ex-Alan Sinclair Alta 1,100 cc s/c chassis 21S, the MI5 Spook brought to Australia in time for the January 1938 South Australian GP at Lobethal, but by this stage Ford V8 engined.

In this form it was a race-winner in Ted Gray’s hands as the Male Special pre-war. Edgerton had rebuilt it by late February 1942 (see shot below). Ron raced it post-war, it then passed back into Gray’s hands who made it sing again, especially when fitted with Lou Abraham’s Ardun-OHV head Ford V8- the car was the immediate precursor of Ted and Lou’s Tornado 1 Ford.

Wind the clock forward another couple of decades and Mount Eliza’s Graeme Lowe reunited the car with its rightful 25S 1,100cc engine and restored it superbly- it took its first bow in 1999. No longer with us, Graeme’s wife still owns it and a 2-litre stablemate.

Epic about the Alta and Sinclair here; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/08/the-spook-the-baron-and-the-1938-south-australian-gp-lobethal/

Hillclimb unknown post-war, note the LCCA badge on the scuttle and differences in appearance of the Alta before and after its 1941-2 ‘birthday’

 

‘No 4’ at Greensborough Hillclimb immediately post-war, date folks? Manufacturer of chassis and mechanical components unknown.

More Mount hillclimb action, this time Ron’s Lycoming Special at Mount Tarrengower, the following shot shows the engine bay; https://primotipo.com/2020/08/21/mount-tarrengower-2/

 

 

Edgerton jumped in amongst the big boys with the purchase of the ex-Alf Barrett Alfa Romeo Monza #2211134 from Rupert Steele in 1950

Ron’s caption says ‘Dirt track Charlie (Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl) chasing Racing Ron at Mount Panorama’ during the October 1951 meeting. He was fourth in the over 1500cc Championship Scratch, and third in the Redex 50 Mile Championship race- Whitefords’ Lago Talbot T26C won with Stan Jones second in Maybach 1.

Edgerton was immediately on the pace with it too. More on Ron’s time in this car soon, in the meantime it’s story is told, at length, here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/20/alf-barrett-the-maestro-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

 

Greville had a go too.

Here, his Elfin Mallala Coventry Climax 2-litre FPF is at freeze-yer-nuts-orf Silverstone testing during the winter in 1964. Ron used the Lotus Cortina to get around the UK.

More of Grev’s UK adventures that year soon.

 

Racing Ron’s ex-Louis Wagner 1919 Ballot 5/8LC ‘Indy’ at rest at home in the eighties.

The high-born French aristocrat is in pretty good company amongst Ferrari Dino 246GT, sundry bikes and a racer.

When Alan Cooper’s Ernest Henry designed 4.8-litre, DOHC, four-valve, normally aspirated straight-eight racer arrived in Australia in late 1925, it was the most advanced and one of the quickest racing cars in the country. Chassis #1004 joined a 2-litre Ballot 2LS #15 acquired for Cooper by his patron twelve months before.

It all turned to custard at Maroubra in December 1925. Alan, a relative novice to a car of this performance, ran wide passing his brother Harold in the 2LS and rolled, badly damaging the car and his riding mechanic.

1004 was repaired in Sydney by Don Harkness and then raced very successfully by Harold, a gifted driver. One of the great mighta-beens of early Phillip Island AGPs is Harold racing the 2LS, but he never did.

The 5/8LC passed through many hands before Ron found it on a farm in country Victoria in the seventies. A long, complex restoration followed, Ron enjoyed the fruits of his labours before selling to Peter Briggs as his health failed. The car has been in England for many years.

Credits…

All photographs are from the Ron Edgerton Collection, with thanks to Greville Edgerton

Tailpiece…

The album is very thick.
The degree of scanning difficulty is high, so let’s be thankful for what we have before some of you old women start chookin’ on about the quality of the shots- don’t spose I should say that. Oops.
Finito…

Comments
  1. Lynton Hemer says:

    Considering the cameras and film available in those days, the photos at Greensborough and Mount Tarrangower (sic) are quite simply brilliant action shots.

    Cheers

    Lynton

  2. David Zeunert says:

    Hi Greville – Bob – Mark / WOW the find of the year in my opinion – “Perhaps Decade”. Its wonderful Greville has allowed his dad Ron Edgerton’s. photographic archive to be digitised & for all of us to see these Fabulous motor sport memories, all I can say is “Keep Em Coming Guys,

    • markbisset says:

      David,
      Ten photos down, only 340 to go!
      There is an amazing mix with plenty of double up too, so in some cases, a bit like the Alta, there is the ability to see the way a car evolved over time.
      Mark

  3. Terry Sullivan says:

    Did the Elfin Malala come back to Australia?
    If so where is it now?

  4. robert king says:

    The ‘racer’ seen from the rear in the Ballot shot is the BWA?

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