Archive for October, 2021

Jumbo Goddard and Bob King, Bugatti T35C on the Mildura, Victoria dirt in 1970 (B King)

164 MPH IN A VINTAGE BENTLEY–THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN LEMUEL ‘JUMBO’ GODDARD – A GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER

“Jumbo liked shiny things”.

A legend in his own lifetime, much has been written about John L. Goddard. His life story has been told by journalist luminaries including Bill Boddy (Motor Sport, 12/62), Pedr Davis, (Sports Car World, 9/63), John Croxson (Autocar, 1/73), Eoin Young (Classic Car, 8/74) and Doug Nye (Collector’s Cars, 11/79). There was also an excellent review of his life written by Tom King in the New Zealand Rolls Royce and Bentley Club magazine in 2012. Mark Bisset thought it was time to introduce Jumbo to a new audience.

It’s said that John Goddard acquired his nick-name – by which he was always addressed – when his generous size was observed by Captain J.E.P. Howey who remarked “Hmmm…he much resembles a pantomime elephant from behind, doesn’t he”? Jumbo was very much in the ‘Bulldog Drummond’ mould of “a class of Englishman who were patriotic, loyal and ‘physically and morally intrepid’”. Far be it for the writer to question Jumbo’s morals, but the description otherwise fits perfectly. Jumbo’s lifestyle was not for the ordinary mortal; it required not only that ‘Englishness’, but also the means to indulge his passions.

John Lemuel Goddard (Cummins Collection)
(Cummins Collection)

Early days

Born at the inappropriately named Tilbury Forest Cottage (more of a mansion than a cottage), at Peas Pottage, Jumbo was brought up in comfortable circumstances. His Barrister father Jack was a sporting motorist who favoured big Daimlers – for a time he held the hill record at South Harting driving one of these chain-driven monsters. His six cars were maintained in a fully equipped, tiled and centrally heated workshop by a staff of four, chauffer, second chauffer, mechanic and washer. The machine tools were driven by an electric motor powered by a Ruston engine and generator set. These were accommodated in a sunken power-house accessed by polished hand rails and white-washed steps. Electricity was also available to light the house, pump water and power an organ – unlike the workshop, the house was not centrally heated. At an early age Jumbo stood on a box to watch the operation of the workshop machinery – it seemed his fate was sealed. Rather than follow his father into the legal profession, he opted for a mechanical engineering apprenticeship with J.G. Parry Thomas at Brooklands Motor Course, but this was not to be when Thomas died during a world-speed record attempt in his 27-litre chain-driven ‘Babs’ in March 1927.

Goddard family Maxwell at Tilgate Forest 1910, Jumbo in the care of a Nanny (Cummins Collection)

While still a school-boy, Jumbo obtained a three-wheeler Morgan which was followed by a Francis Beart tuned Morgan Blackburne which had a formidable power-to-weight ratio – 5 cwt. and 60 to 70 bhp on a good day – the rear tyre had a short life. With this notoriously difficult device he obtained a Brooklands Gold Medal by lapping at over 100 mph. After a brief flirtation with two wheels (frowned on by his parents) he moved to a “gutless wonder” MG 14/40 which was quickly replaced by a 2-litre, 6-cylinder Marlborough which again did not meet with the owner’s approval. His next move was pivotal in his motoring career; he replaced the “fantastically awful” Marlborough with a Red Label 3-litre Bentley.

In a pattern that was to become familiar, Jumbo was soon improving the car; replacing its single Smiths carburetter with twin SU’s. By now a 19-year-old marine apprentice with John I. Thornycroft’s Woolston shipyard, he went a step further, supercharging the Bentley engine with a Cozette supercharger attached to a redesigned cambox cast in bronze by Thornycrofts to his design. As this did not provide sufficient urge, the next step was to replace the 3-litre engine with one from a 6 ½ litre car, enlarged to 7.2 litre’ and developing 175 bhp. On completion of his Thorneycroft contract, he set up a boatyard at Hythe on Southampton Water which was short-lived.

Jumbo, perhaps, with one of the Morgans (Cummins Collection)

His considerable passions were not confined to the motorcar as he also had a love for boats and steam. There are no photos of a young Jumbo sailing a model boat on some idyllic pond in rural England, but by the late twenties he had owned a speed record holding steam driven boat, Miss Chatterbox IV. She was replaced by a slipper stern-drive boat ‘Shawk’ which had previously been owned by Count Louis Zborowski. Jumbo’s ‘improvement’ was to replace the previous engine with a Zeppelin from a plane that had been shot down over England. Steam interests were maintained by working as a train driver on his friend Johnny Howey’s Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

Jumbo made his first visit to Australia in 1934, but no first-class cabin for him; he worked his way before the mast on one of the most famous grain ships – the 4-masted barque Herzogin Cecilie (below) which won the Great Australian Grain Race eight times in succession. (This would have been no pleasure cruise – for an account of the hardships experienced on one of these grain boats, Eric Newby’s ‘The Last Grain Race’ is recommended reading). He then had a period sailing the South Pacific on a trading schooner while enjoying the associated delights.

Herzogin Cecilie (unattributed)

He liked what he saw in Australia and purchased a Ford V8 ute which he drove from Brisbane to Perth. He became interested in prospecting for minerals, spending the pre-war years in New Guinea where he also worked as a fitter and turner in a mining venture.

Just before the war he was back in England, buying a blower-4½ litre Bentley described as a bundle of trouble coupled with an 8-mpg thirst. During the war he was attached to the Admiralty doing design work on propellers for 110-foot Fairmile motor torpedo boats powered by four Bristol Hercules engines – the idea of 56 cylinders and 18,000 hp would have appealed to him, and possibly gave him ideas for a record-breaking car in the future. (‘There is no substitute for litres’). He was one of the many brave volunteer seamen involved in the Dunkirk rescue using a flotilla of little boats.

A Fiat 500 and various Morris’s sufficed as wartime transport, but on the conclusion of hostilities he bought a 1½ litre Aston Martin which wanted “150 hp on account of its weight”. A more satisfactory solution was a 328 BMW which was followed by an ex-Peter Whitehead XK 120 Jaguar which he progressively modified with a C-type specification engine and disc brakes – he kept this car for the rest of his life.

In a derelict building he found a competition 9½ litre Cottin-Desgouttes which had taken the Mont Ventoux hill record in 1911. His 3-litre Bentley now had a 4½ litre motor. An 8-litre Bentley chassis which had been converted to an ambulance was purchased – this car will feature later in our story. To this burgeoning collection was added the ‘cherry on the top’, the two-year-old D-type Jaguar OKV 1 driven to second place at Le Mans by Hamilton and Rolt in 1954. This car, too, will be re-visited.

Jumbo and ‘OKV1’ on a damp Newport Beach to Gundagai trip with Ian Cummins in 1970. This D Type sang-for-its-supper! (Cummins Collection)

Mayflower 2 (unattributed)

 In 1957 Jumbo signed on as an ordinary seaman on ‘Mayflower II’ with Allan Villiers, sailing from Plymouth, Devon to Plymouth, Massachusetts in a 56-day voyage replicating the 1620 voyage of the original Mayflower.

His peripatetic lifestyle led him back to Australia in the late forties where he prospected for uranium. In Alice Springs he befriended pioneer aviator Eddie Connellan and took an interest in Connellan Airlines which operated in the Northern Territory. He then joined Consolidated African selection Trust, prospecting in Sierra Leone and Ghana. In the absence of female company, evenings were spent playing poker with uncut diamonds as chips.

Bugatti T35C at, or rather in! Hove To. “Even with floral covered armchairs, that is a proper mancave!” quipped Paul Cummins (Cummins Collection)

After his retirement in 1962 he spent most of his time in Australia with his expanding car collection. The D-Type was brought here, to which he added a Type 35C 8-cylinder supercharged Bugatti that he had stumbled on in a local village. He had its counterpart in England, a Type 51 with similar specifications to the Type 35, but twin overhead camshaft. At one time he also had a Le Mans 4.9-litre Type 50 Bugatti and a Type 57.

Other cars, some of which shuttled back and forth between England and Australia, included three Frazer Nashs – the ex-AFP Fane single-seater which had broken the Shelsley Walsh hill record in 1937, a TT Replica and an Australian car modified into a single seat racing car. His English collection was cared for by his friend Tom Wheatcroft at his Donington Museum.

Porsche 356, Bugatti T35C and Frazer Nash on the turntable at Hove To (Cummins Collection)

Jumbo settled at Newport Beach, overlooking Pittwater and his beloved Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club – the oldest yacht club in Australia. The term ‘idiosyncratic’ better describes Jumbo than ‘eccentric’. This extended to his habitual dress featuring sockless and lace-less desert boots, later replaced by similar plimsolls; his shorts had invisible mending over previous iterations of the same and were held up by binder-twine. His sockless state, however, did pose problems as he was unable to enter the main clubrooms of his yacht club, being confined to the downstairs public bar. His dress was completed by a Victorian Police issue blue shirt with epaulets.

He named his home at Pittwater ‘Hove To’, acknowledging that his international sailing days were over. It consisted of two houses joined by a covered and carpeted passageway crammed with ephemera pertaining to his motoring, nautical and steam interests. Whatever space was left was filled by his book collection – for reasons the writer never fathomed, Jumbo always had two of each book. To access the motor-house, which was at the top of a steep driveway, a car had to be driven onto a turn table which was then rotated towards the garage, or, if you were sufficiently skilled, you could land on the table with enough impetus to have the car pointing in the right direction.

Jumbo with 300SL in Melbourne to buy the fabulous Mercedes 38/250 for Jack Jeffries from Trevor Willey at right (Cummins Collection)

Once in the garage you were exposed to his delightful and changing collection; at any one time there might be his Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing which had been converted to RHD, a supercharged MG TC, a minivan into which was shoe-horned a Lotus Ford twin-cam motor, a competition 904 Porsche alongside a four-cam roller bearing Carrera 356, the Bentleys and Jaguars as well as a 30/98 Vauxhall, previously owned by the writer, which had received the full Jumbo treatment with a special aluminium cylinder head designed for him by his friend Phil Irving, with pattern making and machining done in Bob Chamberlain’s workshop in Port Melbourne.

Awaiting his attention was a much-modified Vauxhall 30/98 chassis known as the ‘drain-pipe special’ in the light of its tubular chassis members, into which he intended to fit a WWI Hispano Suiza aero engine. In England he still had the 8-litre Bentley chassis which he saw as a suitable recipient for a 12.7-litre Bugatti Royale motor from a French motor-rail. All cars were modified – even his minivan had horizontally opening rear doors which provided a picnic table when open.

Jumbo ready for the off, Frazer Nash, Wollongong Hillclimb 1968 (Cummins Collection)
Jumbo, with hands on hips, inspects the Halvorsen launch ‘Golliwog’, which is being prepared for launch (Cummins Collection)

A weekend at Jumbo’s was a wonderful experience. One was greeted by Jumbo with his up-side down smile, once described as a contented scowl, informing one that a visit to the yacht club for a drink was confined to the public bar– “Sorry I can’t take you upstairs, they want me to wear socks”. Back to Pittwater next morning to see SS Golliwog, a reconstructed 48’ 1910 Admiralty steam pinnace complete with its original triple expansion steam engine, which Jumbo was having built in Huon pine and teak by Lars Halvorsen and Sons. “Sorry we can’t steam her; we have a problem with jellyfish being sucked into the water intakes – looking for a solution”.

As a special favour Jumbo was allowed to moor Golliwog amongst the pristine RPAYC yacht fleet, so long as it did not leak any oil. This required Jumbo to mop up the bilges with a bucket and sponge each morning. Bobbing up and down at anchor was his Dragon Class racer ‘Sama’ used for competition each Wednesday. Seemingly like everything he owned, this too was modified with an extra 4 feet added to the mast and half a ton of lead to the keel – it either went like the ‘clappers’, or broke. In 1946, ’47 and’48 he been a crew member on the 65’ ‘Morna’ for three of her wins in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. She was the largest yacht on Sydney Harbour.

Morna on the Derwent, Hobart (unattributed)

Boats done with, it was back to the house to check out the latest motoring project and to admire the tower clock from the Sydney cricket ground which was at repose along the back wall of the garage waiting for Jumbo to re-engineer it so that, through a system of pulleys, he could have it operating above his garage without the need for a fifty-foot tower. A ‘Flying Scotsman’ locomotive name-plate was on a wall behind his work bench – a reminder of an intended trip across America by steam on the ‘Scot’ that did not come to fruition. Various cars were tried out on the local roads, and on one occasion the writer was deputised to drive his supercharged MG TC at Amaroo hill climb. Saturday night was interesting – the guest bedroom was adjacent to the clock-room which housed most of Jumbo’s 65 clocks. As a couple of hours on Sunday morning were devoted to clock winding, many of the clocks were either fast or slow by Saturday. This meant that the would-be sleeping guest was subjected to an aural barrage of whirrings, dings, dongs, clunks and cuckoos.

Steam engines remained an interest and on one occasion Peter Latreille had the writer bring his model beam engine to a Saturday night dinner at which Jumbo was a guest. Of course, the engine was fired up during an intermission in the eating and drinking. Jumbo was duly impressed until he slowed the engine by laying a finger on the flywheel, announcing “It’s down on power, is the valve timing correct?”

A formidable team. Kevin Wheatcroft, Ian Cummins, Tom Wheatcroft, Jumbo with inverted smile, and Gavin Bain (Cummins Collection)
Jumbo and Mike Hailwood (Cummins Collection)

As can be imagined, Jumbo had a wide circle of friends including Amherst Villiers of Bentley supercharging fame, Mike Hailwood, Donald Campbell, Briggs Cunningham, Tom Wheatcroft, Bob Chamberlain and Phil Irving. In Australia Phil was his go-to engineer and the two of them assisted at Donald Campbell’s land speed record on Lake Eyre; they operated a milling machine used to level the course. When in Melbourne Jumbo delighted in attending Lou Molina’s legendary Monday lunches, the fare being served in the lube bay of his mate Silvio Massola’s service station; the table being a giant board painted and shaped to represent a Bugatti badge placed on top of a partially raised car hoist.

Jumbo had an eye for the ladies. Peter Latreille recalls a visit to Hove To on his honeymoon with Ann who was wearing an ultra-short miniskirt – Jumbo took one glance and suggested she might like to take a seat in the monoposto Frazer Nash. Bob Chamberlain recalled a visit to Warrandyte to see Phil Irving and his partner Edith was also wearing a miniskirt and had her hair dyed red. Jumbo availed himself of the opportunity to confirm that the ‘curtains did not match the carpet’.

Most of Jumbo’s cars are worth special mention – indeed they were all ‘specials’ having been modified in some way to suit his taste; even his tow car was a blacked-out 3500 Rover, devoid of all external ornament or badging. Some of his cars were extra-special and will be dealt with in some detail.

Jumbo and D Type at Hove To, Newport Beach, Sydney (G Bain)

The D-type Jaguar, OKV 1.

The Le Mans D-type was bought by Hamilton from Jaguar after the event and was displayed at the Paris Motor Show. It suffered accident damage on its way back to England and it was in this state that Jumbo bought it, subsequently modifying it to his taste for high-speed touring. This revamping was carried out under the guidance of Jaguars racing team manager Lofty England. A full width windscreen was fitted together with a habitable passenger seat, a door and luggage space sufficient for a picnic basket, thus sacrificing some petrol tank capacity. It became the inspiration for the Jaguar XK SS.

One of its high-speed journeys from Sydney to Melbourne was conducted in January heat – the external exhaust pipes below the passenger side door added to the heat stress. On arrival in Melbourne Jumbo and his passenger, New Zealander Gavin Bain, visited Peter Menere in his Pier Garage in Brighton to see if there was a way to relieve the heat in the passenger seat. Peter’s solution was a car scuttle ventilator let into the floor and controlled by a cable. Gavin laughs when he sees replica XJ SSs with this ‘authentic’ detail.

Gavin recalls another high-speed trip from Sydney to Adelaide. Jumbo: “We will average 60mph and do 60 minute ‘watches’”. With Gavin at the wheel, Jumbo would then go instantly to sleep in the passenger seat, only to wake almost exactly one hour later, exclaiming “It must be time for my watch”. He had not lost his seafaring habits.

A very much slower trip for the D-Type was when it was used as support vehicle to a steam traction engine being moved to Ted Lobb’s property at Grenfell in the Riverina – the average speed would have been less than 6 mph, not 60. Jumbo’s companion for this trip was the legendary ‘Bunty’ Scott-Moncrieff, dressed in full tropical kit including ‘Bombay’ bloomers and topped by a pith hat.

Elevenses. Jumbo, Ian Cummins and Neville Webb after their record breaking run from Sydney-Adelaide in 1974 – Bentley 3-litre with the usual 4 1/2-litre modern modification (Cummins Collection)

The writer continues to regret a missed opportunity to travel in the Jaguar to the famous Mont Ventoux hill climb in Provence. In 1965 he had been invited to visit Jumbo at his cottage in Braintree, England. The purpose of the visit was to authenticate the Type 50 Le Mans Bugatti for a potential buyer in USA. “Would you like to come to Mont Ventoux in the D-Type?” At that time, not knowing Jumbo well and being shy and penniless, the offer was declined with visions of embarrassment through an inability to pay our way. On closer acquaintance with Jumbo at a later date, we realised that flash hotels were not for him and that the trip would have been conducted with the minimum expense.

A record breaking 3/4½ Bentley.

Purchased by Jumbo in Melbourne, this car was used extensively for commuting in Australia. In September 1974 he undertook another high-speed Sydney-Adelaide trip with his friend and Jaguar guru Ian Cummins as passenger with Neville Webb providing back-up in one of Jumbo’s Porsches. The 1043-mile trip took 20 hours at an average speed of 52 mph – an exceptional speed for a vintage car.

When on a rally with Jumbo one often saw his car parked by the road-side in the late morning. On stopping there would an invitation to join him for ‘elevenses’ – coffee from a Thermos which was “improved” by a generous shot of rum – another naval tradition.

The Bentley 8-litre turbo being raced at Silverstone – date and driver folks? (unattributed)

The turbo-charged 8-litre Bentley record breaker.

In 1946 Jumbo found an 8-litre Bentley that had been converted into an ambulance. 100 pounds was exchanged and a speed-record car envisaged. His original 3-litre Bentley chassis was shortened and boxed in, hydraulic brakes and telescopic shock absorbers were added and the 8-litre engine was overhauled; a light two-seater body completing the package. A mean speed of 136.4 mph at the 1962 Antwerp speed trials might have satisfied some as an adequate speed for a vintage car – but not for Jumbo, as it did not break the Bentley record previously set by Forrest Lycett with his 8-litre.

Amongst his extensive world-wide list of friends was Wilton Parker, the Vice-President of the Garret Corporation. Not since the Lockheed P38 fighter had turbochargers been used for petrol engines. The 8-litre engine was rebuilt again with a new, enlarged crankshaft, and Phil Irving designed connecting rods, forged in Melbourne, no doubt with help from Bob Chamberlain. With Jumbo, living in Australia, the car in England and the turbo arrangements being finalised in the USA, the logistics in the days of snail-mail must have been huge.

(T King)
(T King)

In spite of these difficulties, it all came together in a most satisfactory way with 550 bhp showing on the dynamometer at 4,500 rpm. This was sufficient to hurl the beast down an Autoroute near Ghent in Belgium at 164 mph one-way and a two-way average of 158.2 mph over one kilometre. Jumbo said that he was faster than all the Ferraris; there must have been a lot of dropped jaws!

Jumbo married for the only time in 1973 to Kathleen who was a car enthusiast and had been secretary to Chris Shorrock of supercharger fame. For the first time he was forced to wear socks on more formal occasions – a real concession to love.  Jumbo died in 1983 and in October 1984 a two-day auction of 733 lots from his collection was held in Sydney consisting of ‘A unique and most important collection of Vintage and Thoroughbred Cars and Motorbikes, Automobilia, Steam Models and Artifacts, Clocks and Horological Items, Marine Models. Flight – Aircraft engines and Models’, according to the auction catalogue.

They don’t make’m like that anymore.

Etcetera…

This is what some coarse Australians perhaps describe as an English Peach. If you avert your eyes northwards, Jumbo’s Blower Bentley is at the rear.

Credits…

Special thanks to Paul Cummins for the fantastic images from Dad, Ian Cummins Collection, Bob King, Gavin Bain, Tom King

Jumbo 1930s: Life, Let Me At It! (Cummins Collection)

Tailpiece

Doug Nye relates the following tale about Jumbo: On one Bugatti Rally in France, ‘Jumbo’ suffered constant trouble with a sinking carburettor float. At the Chateau Hotel lunch stop he tore down the troublesome carburettor, removed the punctured float and took it into the Hotel kitchen, where he wanted to boil it in a saucepan of water, to vaporise the methanol fuel which had filled it, so he could solder the hole and return his Bugatti to clean running.

With many hand signals and much volume, he explained to the Chef what he wanted to do, and he was assigned a gas ring, a saucepan full of water, and some tongs. But what ‘Jumbo’ had overlooked, and what the Chef was not warned of, was the explosive nature of vaporised methanol.

Laid out in that kitchen, ready for service, were plate after plate of cherishingly-crafted hors d’oeuvres, many in aspic or decorated with mayonnaise. But as ‘Jumbo’s fuel-filled carburettor float reached the critical temperature; methanol gas began to bubble from its puncture. ‘Jumbo’ lifted it from the saucepan whereupon, with a penetrating whistle, a fine spray of heated methanol shot out as if from a garden sprinkler. That airborne spray was instantly ignited by the lighted gas ring.

Deafened, dazzled by the flash, the kitchen staff stumbled around, tall hats blown off. And – worse – the blast had filled the air with floating ash, which began to settle on those exquisitely crafted hors d’oeuvres. The panic was like a Marseilles bus queue in the rush hour.

And from it all strode the majestic, Britannic, figure of ‘Jumbo’ Goddard, triumphantly clutching his dry, and empty, carburettor float in those borrowed tongs.

Within minutes his Bugatti was running clean – which is more than could be said for the Chateau Hotel’s kitchens.

Finito…

image
(GP Library)

Robert Benoist’s Delage 2LCV passes the Dunlop Bridge during his run to third place, Grand Prix D’Europe, Lyon, France on August 3, 1924…

100,000 people watched the 500 mile race, 35 laps of the 14.4 mile road course took winner Giuseppe Campari seven hours, five minutes and 34 seconds to complete in his supercharged 2-litre Alfa Romeo P2 straight-eight. Albert Divo and Benoist were second and third in normally aspirated Delage 2LCV V12s.

The 2-litre Grand Prix formula utilised between 1922 and 1925 was a noteworthy period of innovation. Its key elements included engines of no more than 2-litres, a minimum weight of 650kg, a minimum body width of 80cm and obligatory riding mechanics.

Paddock panorama (MotorSport)
All the fun of the fair, start-finish straight, Lyon 1924 (MotorSport)
Segrave, Sunbeam GP, fastest lap and fifth place after magneto dramas was a good result (MotorSport)

The European GP meeting was a major carnival which included races for motorcycles, bikes, cyclecars and touring cars in its program.

Twenty cars took the rolling start of the race, gridded two-by-two in race number order, at 9am on the Sunday. Two motorcycles led the way, then turned off the course as the cars took the flag lowered from the timekeepers grandstand.

At the end of the first lap Henry Segrave’s Sunbeam straight-six s/c, led by four seconds from Antonio Ascari’s Alfa, Kenelm Lee Guiness’ Sunbeam, then Campari’s Alfa, Pietro Bordino’s Fiat 805 straight-eight s/c, Divo’s Delage, Louis Wagner’s Alfa and Chassagne’s Bugatti T35 straight-eight – on the debut of a car destined to become the greatest ever production GP car.

Antonio Ascari, Alfa P2 from Albert Divo, Delage 2LCV – the unsupercharged V12 of which gave about 120bhp @ 6000rpm – then #7, the Jean Chassagne driven Bugatti T35 (MotorSport)
Les Sept Chemins corner (MotorSport)
‘Move over champ!’ mechanic Carignano exclaims to Felice Nazzaro, a tight Fiat 805 cockpit fit. #20 is Onesimo Marchisio (MotorSport)

By the end of lap three Bordino led, a position he held on lap four before being passed by Ascari who then led Guinness, Bordino, Campari, Wagner, Dario Resta’s Sunbeam and Divo. Ascari’s average lap-time was 12m05sec.

After six laps, Bordino had retaken the lead in a high speed battle with Ascari – he held it for a further six laps. After 11 laps it was the two red cars then Guinness, Campari, Divo, Wagner, Resta, Costantini, Bugatti T35, Benoist, and Pastore, Fiat 805.

Ascari then led when Bordino pitted to work on his front brakes for over 30 minutes. Resta pitted, so too Count Louis Zborowski’s privately entered Miller 122 straight-eight, and three Bugattis – Ascari led from Guinness, Campari and Divo.

‘Count’ Louis Zborowski, Miller 122 – with SCH Davis alongside – from Henry Segrave’s pursuing Sunbeam. Zborowski’s car used a 120bhp @ 5000rpm unsupercharged, DOHC, two-valve straight-eight jewel designed by Harry Arminius Miller in Los Angeles. After Lou’s fatal ’24 Italian GP Mercedes crash, 122 chassis 2302-X (probably) was sold and raced briefly in the UK, then NZ for several years, then sporadically in Australia. Restored by Lance Dixon’s Melbourne team in the mid-1970s, it was sold to a US collector shortly thereafter (MotorSport)
image
Louis Wagner’s Alfa P2 in fourth, leads Dario Resta’s Sunbeam GP in 10th (MotorSport)
Bugatti pit with no shortage of new alloy wheels to hand (MotorSport)

Guinness led after Ascari pitted for fuel and rear wheels on lap 17, while Zborowski retired when the Miller’s front axle worked loose from its chassis. Campari led at the end of the lap from Guinness, Divo, Ascari, Benoist and Wagner. Bordino retired. When Campari stopped for fuel on lap 19 Ascari led from Campari, Guinness and Divo, fourth.

Guinness retired with a Sunbeam gearbox hors ‘d combat on lap 21 – the order was then Ascari and Campari in Alfa Romeo P2s, Divo and Benoist, Delage, Wagner, Alfa and Segrave, Sunbeam until lap 25. The perils of riding mechanics were made clear when Segrave changed his on lap 22 after M Marocchi was badly hurt by a tread thrown up by another car, as did Divo on lap 24 after M Fretet was over-worked. Down in sixth place Segrave set a 11m19sec lap record – 122.71km/h. After 695km/30 laps, the remaining 11 car field comprised Ascari, Campari, Divo, Benoist, Wagner, Segrave, Rene Thomas’ Delage, Chassagne and Fridrich in Bugatti T35s, Resta, and Garnier in the fifth Bugatti T35 which took the start.

Battle of Bugatti T35s: Leoncio Garnier from Pierre De Vizcaya (MotorSport)
Giulio Ramponi pushed Antonio Ascari’s P2 vigorously after a lengthy stop, but it won’t fire late in the race. Vittorio Jano’s design had a straight-eight, supercharged, DOHC, two-valve 1987cc engine giving about 140bhp @ 5500rpm (MotorSport)

On lap 33 Ascari slowed with engine dramas, ceding the lead to Campari, then Divo also passed Antonio who pitted on lap 35. There, Ascari and Giulio Ramponi, his riding mechanic, changed plugs and added water, but the car refused to fire despite valiant attempts by the intrepid mechanic to push-start the ailing P2 slightly uphill.

The crowd cheered Giuseppe Campari home in 7hr 5min 34.6sec – Alfa Romeo had won an emphatic first international victory, the beautiful Alfa P2 was designed by recent Fiat escapee, Vittorio Jano. Then came Albert Divo just over a minute later, and Robert Benoist’s Delage 2LCVs, then Louis Wagner, P2, Henry Segrave’s Sunbeam and Rene Thomas’ 2LCV.

image
The winner Giuseppe Campari celebrates with one-metre long Italian sausage, Alfa Romeo P2 (unattributed)
Campari’s winning P2 at rest (MotorSport)

That year the other major race wins were shared. The Alfa Romeo P2 won the Circuito di Cremona and Italian GP with Antonio Ascari at the wheel, while Enzo Ferrari was victorious in Pescara’s Coppa Acerbo aboard an RLTF24 3.6-litre straight six.

Christian Werner won Targa on a Mercedes TF24 2-litre four, Giuseppe Morandi, the Circuito del Mugello in an OM 665S 2-litre six, and Henry Segrave the GP de San Sebastian aboard a Sunbeam GP. Finally, Guido Meregalli won the Circuito del Garda in a Diatto 20S 2-litre four in November.

Etcetera…

(MotorSport)

The French wallopers keep an eye on Ettore Bugatti’s flotilla of 2-litre unsupercharged, SOHC, two-valve 90bhp straight-eight Type 35s.

The best placed of the five cars entered were Chassagne, seventh, and Fridrich, eighth – with plenty more to come globally over the following decade. #18 is the Pierre de Vizcaya car, #13 Ernst Fridrich and #22 Meo Costantini.

(MotorSport)

Henry Segrave through a quick right-hander, and Dario Resta in the paddock below.

The 1924 GP Sunbeam had a 4inch longer, and 2 1/2 inch lower chassis than the ’23 model. Its six-cylinder DOHC, two-valve 1988cc Roots supercharged engine gave 138bhp @ 5500 rpm, compared with its normally aspirated sibling’s 106bhp in 1923.

(MotorSport)

After the Great War, the race organisers, l’Automobile-Club de France turned the oldest GP into an invitational race, Germans and Austrians were not invited that year.

Pietro Bordino, Fiat 805, DNF brakes (MotorSport)

While none of the Fiat 805s finished the race, these epochal designs cast a long shadow. They were the first to win a Grand Prix using a 146bhp @ 5500rpm supercharged engine when Carlo Salamano triumphed in the 1923 European GP at Monza. The bulk of the grid followed their lead in 1924 – the dominant template of race winning GP cars was set until 1951; front-engined machines powered by supercharged, straight-eight, DOHC, two-valve engines, with all exceptions duly recognised!

Fiat pit, Onesimo Marchisio 805, DNF engine. Note the stepped seating positions of driver in front, and mechanic behind the pilots left shoulder (MotorSport)

Credits…

GP Library, MotorSport Images, Hans Etzodt’s wonderful race report in kolumbus.fi

Tailpiece: The course…

image
(unattributed)

The 37.63km Lyon-Givors circuit was used for the 1914 French GP but was shortened to 23.14km for 1924.

The start was about 14km south of Lyon on the RN86. From there the course headed south on short straights passing the outskirts of Givors, where the road turned right, south-west, twisting along the River Gier valley before a right-turn then uphill to Pont Rompu.

The course then turned right again on a high-speed return straight heading north-east. At the end, after 6km, there was a sharp right turn leading to the famous Piege de la Mort, a difficult left turn and Les Esses, followed by a few twists before Le Sept Chemins a right hairpin shortly before the start-finish line, grandstand and pits.

Finito…

simulator
(Victor Blackman)

‘Daily Express’ motoring writer David Benson races a Lotus 31 at the Racing Car Show, Olympia, London January 19-26, 1966…

These days no self-respecting race-team from F1 down would be without their race simulator to sharpen their drivers preparation and performance. Like so many innovations from the mid 1950s to the mid 1980s, Lotus paved the way with a small number of sims they built for commercial/entertainment use in the sixties.

Aviation led the simulation way of course. French commanders Clolus, Laffont and Clavenad built the Tonneau Antoinette, regarded as the first ground training aircraft. Progress was swift, by World War 2 The Allies produced 10,000 Link Trainers to assist 500,000 new pilots into the sky.

Whether Colin Chapman’s motivation was broadening the appeal of racing by putting anyone in the driving seat, building the Lotus brand, or perhaps another profitable line of business is unclear. A small number – about 18 – were built and sold to dealerships and large corporates such as BP. The Avengers tragics may recall the ‘Dead Mans Treasure’ episode in which the woman behind the wheel had to keep driving fast or otherwise receive a deadly electric shock…

The car is a reproduction of an F3 Lotus 31 (it would be intriguing to know the differences between the real deal and the sim cars) fitted with all of the track-bound instruments and controls. “The course reproduction mechanism, located behind a screen, projects a complete image of the track and its surroundings.”

“The disc on which the track is laid out is quickly changed to allow a change of circuits. For the faint of heart, a disc showing normal street driving is available. From the cockpit the driver receives a complete picture of his driving efforts. With scale speeds up to 120mph, the full sensation of handling, maneuvering the course, braking and accelerating are completely controlled by the driver.”

“Naturally, driver error doesn’t go unnoticed. Incorrect control on a corner causes the car to virtually run off the course, at the same time sounding a buzzer. Late braking or excessive speed will cause the car to leave the track,” – while technology has advanced a tad, that much remains unchanged!

Credits…

Victor Blackman, Golden Gate Lotus Club

Etcetera…

Tailpiece…

(Toyota)

The elapse of a half-century – Toyota F1 race simulator circa 2008, and current TS050 Hybrid sim below, pretty much the only thing which cannot be replicated are the g-forces but doubtless that will come!

(Toyota)

Finito…

(L Hemer)

If a 5-litre 500bhp McLaren M10B Chev F5000 is a Big Mac – it is – then a liddl’ 1.6-litre 210bhp F2 McLaren must be a Little Mac.

“Niel Allen in the perfect little McLaren M4A FVA, the sweetest sound I ever heard…in The Esses at Warwick Farm on Saturday afternoon, December 6, 1969,” and so say all of us Lynton Hemer!

Niel qualified fourth in this meeting, the final 1969 WF Gold Star round, and finished third behind the Bartlett/Stewart Alec Mildren Racing speedsters.

Chassis M4A/2 is a famous little jigger, driven with great success in the 1968 Tasman Series by Piers Courage. His giant-killing performances against the 2.5-litre cars – including a win at the Longford final round – pretty much re-launched a career which had stalled a bit; by the end of 1969 he had vaulted into the F1 Top Ten.

Niel Allen bought the M4A after Piers returned to Europe, doing well with it but also having a huge, high speed crash at Lakeside. Re-tubbed by John Joyce at Bowin Cars it also provided the platform for Warwick Brown to strut his stuff before he stepped up into…a Big Mac!

Some further reading, here on Courage at Longford; Longford Tasman: ‘South Pacific Trophy’ 4 March 1968 and Piers Courage… | primotipo… and here on the M4A in Euro F2 in 1967 The Wills ‘BARC 200’, F2 Silverstone, March 1967… | primotipo…

Credit…

Lynton Hemer

(L Hemer)

Finito…

Herbert Johnson were one of the preferred purveyors of bash-hats to racing’s elite in the pre-Buco, pre-Bell early-mid 1960’s era.

The company, founded in 1889, made its name for its silk-velvet top-hats. By the outbreak of World War 1 its output was dominated by the demands of the military. Goldie Gardner was the first racer to commission a ‘protective hat’ from then proprietor, Geoffrey Glazier. Stirling Moss was a later customer as demand for the firm’s race products grew.

(K Devine)

Lex Davison is shown so equipped at Caversham, near Perth in November 1962. It’s the Australian Grand Prix meeting, the four-times AGP winner is shown on the dummy-grid – looking very pucka in Herbie Johnson with British Racing Drivers Club badge on his overalls – about to jump aboard Len Lukey’s Ford Galaxie in a mixed touring/sportscar support race. The nose of the Elite belongs to Anthony Osborne.

Credits…

Ad from Motor Racing 1948-1949 BRDC Yearbook, Ken Devine

Tailpiece…

‘If yerv’ got a $10 head wear a $10 helmet’ was Bell’s compelling mid-sixties tagline. A mix of technology and innovation, quality, marketing and a great distribution network ensured the Bell Corporation did their bit to improve the safety of our sport. Dan Gurney’s Eagle depicted is his 1966-68 F1 Mk1 Weslake V12

Finito…

Bruce McLaren setting up a selfie before the Lady Wigram Trophy, Tasman Series, 23 January 1965…

Sorting his goggles in any event, Cooper T79 Climax. The cars in the background are the #9 Bill Thomasen Brabham BT4 Climax and Red Dawson’s Cooper T53 Climax ‘Lowline’.

What stood out on an initial scan of this bunch of photos are those big tall white-wall Firestone tyres on large fifteen inch wheels. It’s the start of the tyre-war; Firestone and Goodyear had just entered the domain which had been a cosy little monopoly for Dunlop for the previous few years.

Bruce won the first Tasman Cup in 1964 with the ‘first McLarens’- the Cooper T70’s Bruce and Wally Willmott constructed at the Cooper factory in Surbiton the year before were Dunlop shod machines. Click here for a piece on these cars; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

Admirers of the Clark Lotus 32B monocoque chassis, Wigram (A McKee)

It was going to be tough to knock Jim Clark’s Dunlop shod Lotus 32B Climax off in 1965- Bruce and Phil Hill’s campaigns were said to be sluggish at the series outset until Bruce and his boys adapted the suspension geometry and settings to the American tyres. Mind you, a close look at the results suggests Bruce was not far off the pace from the get-go.

The commercial relationship with Firestone was an important one for the entrepreneurial Kiwi as he assembled the technical partners and funding to take his nascent team forward- Bruce McLaren Racing’s first F1 season was in 1966.

Jack Brabham signed with Goodyear from 1965, that year of learning with the Akron giant was a critical foundation piece for Brabham Racing Organisation’s successful tilts at the 1966 and 1967 F1 championships for drivers and constructors.

Jim Clark had one of the greatest of seasons any driver ever had in 1965- he won an F1 drivers title, the Indy 500, the Tasman Cup plus a sprinkling of F2, touring car and other wins- the breadth of his achievements in that twelve month period has never been matched, or is ever likely to be I expect.

The start of that lot was in New Zealand- whilst Graham Hill won the first Tasman round, the NZ GP at Pukekohe in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax, Clark won the next two on the trot at Levin, where he won from the scrapping Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer aboard BT11A and BT7A’s respectively, and here, on the Wigram Airfield on 23 January from McLaren and Palmer- Jim acquired Clark’s series winning Lotus at its end. Bruce was obviously getting the hang of the Firestones mind you- he matched the lap record Clark set in the preliminary race in the championship event.

Off to Teretonga – famously the most southerly race track on the planet – Clark won again from McLaren and Phil Hill in the other Bruce McLaren Racing Cooper- an updated T70 raced by Bruce and the late Tim Mayer the year before.

Jim at the wheel, 32B ‘beetle-back’ all enveloping bodywork, ZF gearbox. #49 in the background is the Peter Gillum Cooper T67 Ford FJ (A McKee)
The off. Bruce with Frank Gardner’s distinctive Alec Mildren Racing yellow Brabham BT11A Climax alongside (A McKee)

That Bruce was getting the chassis/tyres sorted was further indicated by his pace- he pulled alongside Clark on lap 20, but Jim had enough in hand to pull away- taking the duo clear of Hill, Grant (ex-Jack 1962 AGP Brabham BT4 Climax, a car later to put John McCormack on the map) and Palmer.

The summary of the balance of the series is this; Clark won from grid three at Warwick Farm on 14 February whilst Bruce was Q5 and DNF engine. Brabham joined the Series in Sydney aboard a new BT11A- he was second from Q4. Matich was third from pole.

At Melbourne’s Sandown a week later, Jack won from pole with Jim second from Q2, Phil Hill third from Q6 and Bruce fourth from Q4- Goodyear, Dunlop, Firestone, Firestone if you like…

The seven round series ended at Longford with the Australian Grand Prix on 1 March 1965. Bruce won from pole from Brabham, Hill P and Hill G, Bruce Sergent observed that ‘Longford saw the McLaren cars come resoundingly into their own with good short-stroke engines and the small frontal area and shallow tread of the Firestones on this ultra fast circuit.’

Clark’s second half of the series was not as dominant as his first half. This was in large measure due to Jack’s presence and the pace of the McLaren Coopers- he won three races in New Zealand and once in Australia, but took the 1965 Tasman Cup with 35 points from McLaren’s solo victory and 24 points, then Jack with a win and a points haul of 21 from only three races. Brabham certainly would have given Jim a run for his money had he contested the championship in full. Gardner, Phil Hill and Jim Palmer were equal fourth…Or Dunlop, Firestone, Goodyear, Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop.

Wigram Shell Team compound, from this end; Bruce Abernathy Cooper T66 Climax, John Riley Lotus 18/21 Climax, Andy Buchanan #8 Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5 twin-cam, perhaps the Scuderia Veloce Graham Hill Brabham BT11A Climax and uncertain closest to the truck (A McKee)

Those early years of the F1 tyre war rolled as follows; Dunlop shod Clark’s 1965 winning Lotus 33 Climax and Stewart’s 1969 winning Matra MS80 Ford. Goodyear bagged back to back titles in 1966 and 1967 on Jack’s Brabham BT19 Repco and Denny’s Brabham BT24 Repco, while Firestones were on the Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV used by Graham Hill in 1968, and Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford in 1970.

Dunlop bailed from F1 at the end of 1970, leaving the two American giants. Then Michelin came in etcetera…and now of course we have same, same, same coz same, same, same is what is mandated by the commercial, sorry, sporting powers that be.

It was a bit different in the Tasman where Dunlop shod Clark’s winning Lotus 32B Climax and Stewart’s 1966 BRM P261, but then it was all Firestone on both Clark’s 1967 Lotus 33 Climax, 1968 Lotus 49 Ford DFW and the Ferrari Dino 246T raced by Chris Amon to victory in 1969, and Graeme Lawrence in 1970.

The Goodyear shod Mildren/Gardner Brabham BT11A Climax (A McKee)

Etcetera…

(A McKee)

Andy Buchanan awaits the off in his immaculate Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5 twin-cam, top left in white is Graeme Lawrence’s similar machine. These cars were immensely successful 1.5-litre racing cars in Australasia, and at right the red ex-Tony Shelly Lotus 18/21 of John Riley.

Credits…

Bruce Sergent on sergent.com, oldracingcars.com, Ian Smith Collection

(I Smith Collection)

Tailpiece…

Brabham went like a rocket at Longford, the 1965 Tasman’s final round, he made a cautionary stop after giving Roly Levis a love-tap when the Kiwi locked a brake going into Mountford.

In a race of new lap records, McLaren, Brabham and Phil Hill all set new marks, Jack eventually fell short of McLaren by a little over three seconds, Bruce was impeded in changing gears without a clutch in the latter stages of the race. Click here for a piece on this race; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/ and here on the 1965 Tasman Cup and Clark’s Lotus 32B; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Finito…

Birrana 274 Hart-Ford ANF2 cars at MG Corner, Phillip Island in late 1974: Bruce Allison inside Leo Geoghegan – Oz F2 Champ in Birranas in 1973-4 (Auto Action Archive)

Modern enthusiasts probably know of Birrana Racing as an outfit which won multiple Gold Stars running Reynard Formula Holdens. But for some of us, the most exciting period of Malcolm Ramsay’s lifetime passionate commitment to motor racing was the 1971-1974’ish period when he and his business partner, Tony Alcock, and their small crew at Logan Street, Adelaide built 20 or so jewels of championship winning FF, F3, F2 and Formula Atlantic single seaters. Oh yes, there was a VW powered mid-engined speedway Speedcar too, which rather shows they were not lacking innovation!

At the end of 1974, they ceased volume production, building racing cars simply wasn’t profitable. Mal constructed a few more racers in the ensuing years. Tony Alcock, the designer/fabricator, ran Bob Muir in British Formula Atlantic in 1975. Adelaide entrepreneurs Bob and Marj Brown took their two updated Birrana 273s to England for a season. Bob did well with several thirds and a fourth place in the two year old car among hotshots like Tony Brise, Jim Crawford, Brian Henton and Gunnar Nilsson.

Like Tony Brise, Tony Alcock joined Graham Hill’s Embassy Racing F1 team. Similarly, he was at the fateful Embassy Hill GH2 Ford Paul Ricard test on November 29, and subsequent Piper Aztec flight back to Elstree Airfield, England. Graham Hill crashed the aircraft in thick fog at Arkley Golf Club killing all aboard; Alcock, Hill, Brise, designer Andy Smallman and mechanic Terry Richards.

It was a monumental tragedy, to say the least.

What might have been for all of them, not least Tony Alcock? During 1974 he wrote a regular Auto Action column. This May piece is about Birrana’s design process. I found it interesting, and reproduce it for that reason, and also to put on electronic record the members of Birrana Cars during that golden 1972-1974 era.

“I always liken designers, fabricators and mechanics as the racing equivalent of a TV production team. We know that the actors get most of the recognition, but of course the truth of the matter is that without the script writer, producer, director, film crew and so on, then the actor would be nowhere. Now although the modern race driver is an important part of the final product, it is the men behind him, the fabricators, welders, machinists, fibreglass men, painters, platers etc who make up the initial 80% of the total effort.”

“It is our job, Malcolm Ramsay and myself, at Birrana Cars to assemble all these tradesmen in the correct sequence to present a product such as the 2/374 range of cars. Basically, our respective roles are something like this.”

Tony Alcock circa 1974. Anybody got a better shot? (unattributed)
1974 Oz FF Driver to Europe Series, Tin Shed, Calder: Andrew Miedecke, Birrana F73, Peter Finlay, Palliser WDF2 – not long back from success in this car in the UK/Europe – and the nose of Paul Bernasconi’s Mawer 004 (Geoff Selton)

“Starting with the previous years car, we decide on the areas which we feel need improvement and together with experiments which we have tried in some form or another during the year, we begin to formulate some sort of basic outline for our new model. At this stage I usually work at home so that the work can be achieved without interruption enabling the car to be drawn up as quickly as possible.”

“Whilst I do most of the basic design work, I reckon that two heads are better than one, so there is constant communication between Mal and myself. At the same time as the drawings start coming through, he is organising a supply of raw materials, radiator suppliers, rack and pinon assemblies, pattern makers etc.”

“From the basic chassis drawings, which comprise an overall side and top elevation, there are detailed ones of each bulkhead and suspension pickups, rear frames, suspension systems, body shape etc. From these more detailed drawings, Brian Farquhar, our welder, constructs the chassis and suspension jigs and from these the bulkheads and wishbones. Mike Lobanof machines the chassis and suspension bushes, discs, wheels, castings and so on. John Porter, our ‘March-immigre’ specialises in detail fabrication such as wing brackets, radius arms, parallel link brackets, headers, tanks, etc. I usually fold-up the tubs and Mal and I both attack the body mock-up prior to him doing the moulds. Our other man, Peter Nightingale, can usually be found stripping and rebuilding our existing cars as well as maintaining our Hart engines and Hewland gearboxes.”

“All of this is an over-simplification of the effort and just plain hard-yakka, which often means an all-nighter or two, but it is the general scene, which goes on at Elfin or Bowin or many other manufacturers.”

“As you can see it really isn’t very exciting or glamorous, all this back-room work, but to us it’s all worth it as the frustrations and heartaches suddenly vanish when our sparkling new creation is wheeled out to the start line ready for its first race.”

Sandown ANF3 race 1974, Shell Corner: Paul King and Dean Hosking in Birrana 374 Toyotas ahead of the Brian Sampson and Brian Shead Cheetah Mk5 Toyotas (Auto Action Archive)

Credits…

Tony Alcock in his Auto Action column, May 17, 1974. Thanks to Bruce Williams, Auto Action publisher/owner, Geoff Selton

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com)

Barry Cassidy’s Ford Falcon XR GT ahead of Bill Brown’s Ferrari 350 Can-Am, Newry Corner, Longford 1968…

Series Production or showroom stock racing was hugely popular in Australia during a golden period to the end of 1972 when the Supercar Scare forced the rule-makers to change tack – a story in itself! Actually there is about it in the middle of this Holden Torana XU-1 V8 epic here; Holden Torana GTR XU1 V8… | primotipo…

Here, local lad and long time racer Cassidy is practicing for his event during the Tasman weekend in his brand new, straight off the showroom floor, 289cid V8 powered Australian pony-car. It was the first in an amazing series of road legal and oh-so-fast Fords built from the late sixties to the late seventies. Most of them won the Bathurst 500/1000 classic including the XR GT which triumphed at Mount Panorama in the hands of Harry Firth and Fred Gibson in 1967.

Cassidy showing delicacy of touch exiting Mountford, Longford 1968 (oldracephotos.com)

Cassidy had a top speed of 120mph or thereabouts, Brown about 170, and is about to swallow him on the uphill run to the right, then to the left onto the Flying Mile. He recalls that Brown was “probably not too impressed about being passed under brakes by the XR GT and signalled his thoughts about it as he blasted past on the Flying Mile!”

Cassidy raced the car for a bit, and was later at the vanguard of ‘Formula’ HQ Racing, a series for lightly modified Holden HQ Kingswood/Belmont of the early seventies, a hugely popular cost effective way to get into, and stay in motor racing. He is still racing too.

Cassidy chasing Graham Parsons’ Cortina GT and Darryl Wilcox’ Humpy Holden through Newry Corner. Barry was off a low grid position after being pinged by scrutineers for having a spare tyre not of identical section width as the four on the car! (HRCCT)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

(B King Collection)

John Williams, DFP takes the chequered flag for The Sun, from HW Miller’s similar car for The Herald, in a five lap battle of the Melbourne Motor Editors at Aspendale on June 9, 1924

Fragments on a forgotten make

Mssr. Dorian, Flandrin and the Parant brothers made light cars of no great distinction in Courbevoie (Seine) between 1906 and 1926. Chronically underfunded, they relied on proprietary engines. They are best remembered by the reflected glory from their London agent W. O. Bentley’s use of aluminium pistons in DFP’s which led him to success at Brooklands. WO claimed that the idea to use aluminium pistons came to him in 1913 during a visit to their Parisienne factory. He said they allowed him to obtain ‘much more’ power from the engine – the main advantage being greater thermal efficiency, rather than weight saving. In regard to novelty, it should be noted that Aquila Italiana had been using aluminium pistons from 1906 under the guidance of their talented designer Giulio Cesare Cappa.

‘WO’ in a very smart looking DFP (B King Collection)

Rendering of a similar DFP to WO’s (T Johns Collection)

Whether through ‘reflected glory’, improved performance or clever marketing, the DFP was not an uncommon entrant in post-WWI motor sport in Australia. It seems that the sporting motorist had a love affair with French cars, possibly engendered by their panache. This was distinctly lacking from the majority of Italian and English light cars of the period. It should also be remembered that cars from ‘former enemy’ countries were forbidden to take part in motorsport in the early post-war years– at least in Victoria.

My motoring archive has several splendid photos of DFP’s in action and Mark Bisset felt I should share them with you on primotipo.com

The first race at Aspendale on ANA day, 1906 (J Crooke Collection)

Aspendale

Situated in a sandy bayside suburb of Melbourne, Aspendale Motor Racing Club had a history dating back to the dawn of motoring. James Robert Crooke had a horse racing track built on his father’s land in 1889. The name of the venue played tribute to his champion horse ‘Aspen’, which had won the Newmarket Cup in 1880 and 1881.

Entrepreneurial Crooke had won Australia’s first motor race at Sandown Park in 1904 driving his steam powered Locomobile. By January 1906 they were motor-racing at Aspendale Park on what he claimed to be the world’s first purpose built racing track. After only a few events the track went into hibernation until a new banked concrete/bitumen track was built in 1923. The first event was held on this surface on 1 March 1924.

(J Crooke Collection)

The promoter’s club badge

(J Crooke Collection)

The ACV’s invitation to attend – love the formality of the day, and program, or programme, more correctly!

(J Crooke Collection)
(J Crooke Collection)

The track layout.

John Williams and the DFP at Aspendale

John was a jovial beret-wearing, Gauloise smoking motoring journalist who had a preference for French cars. He was the second owner of a Brescia Bugatti in 1929 and was still driving a Ballot 2LT in post-war years. As Motoring Editor for the Sun News Pictorial and later the Argus, his knowledge of cars was encyclopaedic. He came into our realm through friendship with Lou Molina and attendance at Lou’s Brighton Central Hotel in the 1970s.

John took part in an unusual event at Aspendale on 9 June 1924 – a match-race between the Motor Editors of the Sun and the Herald. Fortunately, photographs survive of this encounter, showing that the drivers were accompanied by their wives. John annotated the back of one photograph, stating that this was the first time that women had travelled as mecaniciennes in a motor race in Australia. John’s wife Pegg is quoted as saying “What a damned row 24,000 people can make!”

(Bob King Collection)

The start of the motoring journalist match-race.

(Bob King Collection)

John and Pegg Williams ensconced in the DFP. Winners are grinners, the rest can make their own arrangements.

Sporting Cars, DFP and Miss Marie Jenkins

If clever marketing contributed to the DFP’s popularity here in Victoria, the responsible party is likely to have been Sporting Cars, the future agents for Bugatti, who used the attractive Marie Jenkins to promote their brand (Sex sells).

Sporting Cars claimed that the DFP had ‘a remarkable reputation for speed, coupled with reliability and hard wear’ – these characteristics being exemplified by the crest and motto on the radiator badge – a greyhound ‘Courant’ under the words ‘Fidele at Vete’.  Marie was often seen in the company of Sporting Cars directors; their relationship has not been established.

(B King Collection)

Marie Jenkins was used to promote the make in this Sporting Cars pamphlet, the rest of it, providing detailed specifications is at the end of this article.

Dudley Barnett, Chenard Walcker, Marie Jenkins DFP and Arthur Terdich Bentley 3-litre, with Maude. 1924 Davies Bay, Victoria (B King Collection)

Marie in her little DFP is dwarfed by Sporting Cars director Dudley Barnett’s Chenard Walcker (left) and Arthur Terdich’s 3-litre Bentley

(G Jarrett)

Marie goes camping, the only thing missing appears to be the kitchen sink! Poor liddl’ darlin’ would have struggled carrying that lot.

(Fairfax)

Here she is, looking rather marvellous, at Sydney’s Maroubra banked, concrete Saucer of Speed in her victorious Brescia Bugatti in 1925.

(B King Collection)

1928 Australian Grand Prix

Two DFPs took part in the 100-Mile Road Race, aka the 1928 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Ab. Terdich was the brother of Arthur whose Bugatti faltered while he was leading the race; he won in 1929. Ab’s DFP retired with engine trouble. The other car shown, driven by Les Pound, had better luck, completing the distance in a little under 2½ hours at an average speed of 41.6 mph, he was thirteenth and last. Les became a well-known name in post-war years as proprietor of Volkswagen dealers, Pound Motors. The Pound DFP is nearing the end of a long restoration.

(B King Collection)

Les Pound made slow progress in the 1928 AGP, but had the satisfaction of completing the distance.

DFP random

Nigel Tait of Repco and ACL fame had an ancestor with a DFP that managed to have an accident in Bourke St, Melbourne in 1915. That must have been hard to achieve – perhaps an errant horse?

(N Tait Collection)
(N Tait Collection)

This Tait family photograph shows the same car (above) which was driven by George McCarey below.

(B King Collection)

I suspect the photo of car with registered number 27277 is being driven by George McCarey in the 1921 RACV 1000-mile Reliability Trial. This was an earlier 2-litre car of the type raced by WO Bentley, rather than the more popular 1.1-litre car which was introduced in 1922.

(T Johns Collection)

Les Pound completes the hill climb at Wheelers Hill with the same DFP he raced in the AGP at Phillip Island in 1928.

(B King Collection)

Doug Benson’s DFP on a bridge over the Kiewa River.

DFP Technical Specifications…

(B King)
(B King)
(B King)
(B King)
(B King)

Credits…

Bob King, John Crooke, Tony Johns and Nigel Tait Collections, Fairfax, Graeme Jarrett

Finito…

(C Moran Collection)

Yes, ok, I probably am a tad obsessed with Bluebird and Donald Campbell, and his very large support team’s world land speed, 403.10mph record run at Lake Eyre, South Australia on July 17, 1964.

The problem is that every now and again one of my countrymen pop up another batch of photos on social media, in this case Colin ‘Sporty’ Moran’s collection. What makes the photographs a bit different are the wheels-off suspension stuff – which are pretty rare.

Donald Campbell in the centre, any takers for the other pair? (C Moran)

I rather like rock-star F1 designer Adrian Newey’s perspective on Bluebird’s place in the ‘racing car’ pantheon published in Racecar Engineering in 2012:

“I think in terms of one of the biggest advances made, although it was not strictly speaking a racing car, was Bluebird. Arguably for its time it was the most advanced vehicle.” The Bluebird Proteus CN7 was the Ken and Lewis Norris designed car that Donald Campbell used to set a record of 403.1mph in July, 1964, the last outright land speed record car that was wheel driven.

It was a revolutionary car that featured an advanced aluminium honeycomb chassis, featured fully independent suspension and four-wheel drive. It also had a head-up display for Campbell. “It was the first car to properly recognise, and use, ground effects. The installation of the jet turbines is a nightmare, and it was constructed using a monocoque working with a lot of lightweight structures. It was built in a way that you build an aircraft, but at the time motor racing teams weren’t doing that.”

The car featured a Bristol-Siddeley Proteus 705 gas turbine engine which developed over 4,000bhp. It was a two-spool, reverse flow gas turbine engine specially modified to have a drive shaft at each end of the engine, to separate fixed ratio (David Brown made) gearboxes on each axle. It was designed to do 500mph, but surface conditions, brought about by adverse weather in 1963 and 1964, meant that its fastest recorded time was nearly 100mph short of its hypothetical capability.

(C Moran)

Look at the size of those uprights! Suspension by way of upper and lower wishbones front and rear and oleo-pneumatic struts, huge (420mm) Girling disc brakes are inboard and out of sight. Those mega Dunlop split-rim disc wheels are 52 inches (130cm) in diameter to give you a sense of size perspective.

Love the high-tech axle stands, lovely sense of backyard mechanic about them little jiggers!

(C Moran)

Another rare reveal.

The man re-loading the braking parachute (wonder what speed Campbell could pop that?) is Ken Reakes. That gorgeous, high stabilising fin was added after Campbell’s massive 360mph Daytona shunt in September 1960. He fractured his lower skull, suffered a contusion of the brain, broke an ear drum, had cuts and abrasions and most critically, his confidence was shattered big-time. The car was rebuilt by 1962, as was his mental health, a process aided by gaining his pilot’s licence.

We get a nice glimpse of the Motor Panels, Coventry, chassis honeycomb inside that inspection/access panel, note also the exhaust ducts for the Proteus gas-turbine engine. Motor Panels was a subsidiary of Sir Alfred Owen’s Rubery Owen Holdings Group, which also included the BRM F1 manufacturing facility and team.

It could only be…(C Moran)

That is a timing beam, and a blue line, so we are lined up for a practice run.

Etcetera…

(C Moran)

The utter desolation of ‘Camp Campbell’ on the vast Lake Eyre salt, 700km north of Adelaide – a most inhospitable and inaccessible place, to say the least.

(C Moran)

Likely lads at Muloorina Station, a 4000 square km sheep and cattle farm on the edge of Lake Eyre; two chaps, Colin Moran and Ken Wain, these lads are/were from the Maffra/Sale area in Gippsland, Victoria.

Campbell’s entourage of about 500 technical, support and media people were accommodated there in 1963 and 1964.

Credits…

Colin Moran

Tailpiece…

(C Moran)

Only 4064kg to push around, too easy. The nose erection is the cockpit canopy, which of course pivots to the rear.

Finito…