Cheetah Mk4…

Posted: November 16, 2021 in Who,What,Where & When...?
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Cheetah Mk4 Toyota mounted Brian Shead and a distant Brian Sampson, sandwich Tony Stewarts ANF2 Birrana 273 Ford as they enter Sandown’s Dandenong Road corner circa 1973 (B Jones Collection)

Brian Shead’s first car, the Mk1, Cooper-esque, BMC A-series powered Formula Junior was completed on August 1, 1960 and raced by the man himself. The Marks 2 and 3 were finished in early 1962 and 1963 respectively. Sheady got serious about ‘volume production’ in 1968 despite still having a ‘real-job’, his Service Manager role at Conquip Victoria was handily close to his home and workshop in Mordialloc, a Melbourne bayside suburb.

Brian Shead fettles his Cheetah Mk1 BMC at Rob Roy hillclimb, in Melbourne’s outer east, circa 1961. Note Laurie Rofe’s ? Alfa P3 at rear (M Borland Collection)

The Mark 4A was made from one-inch, 18-gauge round and square steel tube. Outboard wishbone suspension was used using the “later stiffer Triumph Spitfire front uprights,” Brian wrote in his diary. The rear suspension comprised a single top link, inverted lower wishbone, two radius rods and Shead’s cast aluminium uprights.

Rack and pinion steering was by way of modified Renault items, “all cars used modified VW transmissions with the F2 and F3 models employing the first of the recently introduced Holinger five-speed quick change units. Under seat aluminium six gallon fuel tanks were fitted whilst the Bob Edmonds Polyfibre Products body work was in fibreglass. A 16-gauge aluminium undertray was bonded and rivetted to the lower chassis rails. A new enclosed tandem trailer was built to transport my car,” Shead wrote.

Sampson’s Mk4 Toyota (S Gall)
Sambo’s Mk4 showing Holinger five-speed transaxle, fabricated rear uprights and Mario Costa built wheels. Sampson’s Motor Improvements’ 1.3-litre pushrod, twin Weber fed race motors were the ducks-guts F3/Clubman unit of the day and gave circa 130bhp (S Gall)

Peter Macrow’s 1.6-litre Ford twin-cam ANF2 car (Mk4B # 43-2) proceeded as funds allowed but one car, #4H-1 for Don Biggar and Shead’s #43-1 were finished mid-year. Biggar’s machine was a hillclimber fitted with a 3.5-litre Oldsmobile V8 and modified VW gearbox. Shead’s car was tested at Calder in mid-May, then made its race-debut on May 31.

Continuing good results and several wins over Brian Sampson’s Elfin 600B Toyota led to an order from Sambo for a Mk4 (#43-3), his car was finished in January 1973. Brian Shead describes this car as the “first production chassis, minor changes were made in the chassis layout. Live front axles were used with fabricated front and rear uprights, Holinger gearbox. Toyota Corolla 1300cc engine, new front nosecone and cockpit body sections.”

Other production Mk4s were built for Peter Roach (43-4), Vincent McLaughlan (43-5), while an ANF2 1.6-litre Ford twin-cam Mk4E (342-1) was delivered to Graeme Crawford in February. That makes seven Mk4’s in total, and I’m sure David Crabtree’s ANF2 Mk4 – which he retains – was delivered to Crabby and built up by him, so that makes eight…

The Mark 4 Cheetah was the dominant ANF3 car of the era, perhaps not so much in Sydney, where none were resident, and set up the reign of terror of the small-bore-classes Brian Shead had for the best part of a decade.

Shead’s car (Brian leaning over the engine at right rear) at Calder circa 1973, car by this stage fitted with fabricated front uprights rather than the Triumph Spitfire/Alford & Alder units with which it was originally built. These were chuckable, strong, light , fast racing cars (S Gall)
Same Calder meeting with a spot of MI Toyota Corolla valve, rocker or head gasket problems…(S Gall)

Credits…

Stephen Gall, Brendan Jones Collection, Brian Shead Diary, Michael Borland Collection

Tailpieces…

(Auto Action)

Racing cars are never static of course, by 1973 Australian F3 cars were growing wings as shown on the Sampson and Shead Mk4s at Winton above.

Shead’s solution at this stage was a modest rear body panel come wing, and wingless at the front.

A fugly Tyrrell-type nose followed, as shown below, all of which was refined in the marvellous, even more successful monocoque Mk5 and Mk6 F3/F2 machines which followed. Stories for another time, or you could buy Auto Action issue #1815 which covers the topic rather nicely; Auto Action #1815 by Auto Action – Issuu

The other member of the Victorian Cheetah triumvirate is Peter Macrow, running third at Sandown’s Causeway area circa 1973 – Sambo from Sheady up front. Look at the different rear-wing supports (B Jones Collection)
(B Jones Collection)

Another shot of Brian Shead at Amaroo Park or perhaps Phillip Island. This aero evolution is towards the end of their time as the works machines, supported as you can see by Toyota; Australian Motor Industries, the Toyota importer, had been longtime supporters of Sambo’s Triumph Spitfire.

Neat engine cover, the appearance of Tony Alcock’s and Malcolm Ramsay’s monocoque Birrana 374 made it clear a new car was required, some marvellous racing followed between the Cheetahs and Paul King/Dean Hosking/Jim Evans 374s in 1974.

Finito…

Comments
  1. PaulB says:

    Thanks Mark for a great article on a sometimes overlooked constructor. You may want to note that #4H-1 was later driven by Ian Judd to win the 1977 Australian Hill Climb Championship.

  2. John Ellery says:

    Mark, great article on the Mk4’s. I currently have the space framed twin cam powered AF2 Mk4E, (42-1) which utilised Graeme Crawford’s Elva BMW suspension parts in its construction (uprights, hubs, rotors, calipers) as well as the Holinger wheels from his Elva. It was constructed in parallel with the first Mk5 monocoque and remained in Graeme’s shed unraced until sold to Darryl Pearsall of Albury. Graeme chose to race a Birrana AF2 in lieu of using the unfinished Cheetah in the 1974 and onwards seasons.

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