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(John Lemm)

Malcolm Ramsay applies Repco V8 power out of Clubhouse Corner, his Granton Harrison owned Elfin 600C #6908 on its way to fourth place during the October 1970 Mallala Gold Star round, the series won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott that year….

My Australian single-seaters I would like to own and race comprises the Mildren Yellow Submarine Alfa 2.5 V8, Elfin Mono, Elfin 600C/D Repco 2.5 V8, Bowin P8 Hart and Repco V8, and Matich A53 Repco F5000, Richards 201 VW. Lets’ throw in the Mawer 003 Formula Ford and the front engined Tornado Chev to add to the attack on my Super Fund.

Knowledgeable Aussies will want to exclude the ‘Sub as it was built by Alan Mann Racing for Mildrens, so it’s a Pommie car not one of ours. A bummer really as that’s my emotional first choice, always has been with either the Alfa engine or Merv Waggott’s superb 2-litre DOHC four-valve jewel with which it was later fitted – and restored as such.

After that it’s a close run thing but the three 2.5-litre V8 Repco engined Tasman Elfin 600’s are about as good as it gets, I reckon.

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About as nicely integrated a bit of kit as there was in 1969. Cooper’s 6908 at its first Mallala test before its Asian Tour where the new car didn’t finish a race (Bob Mills)

Garrie Cooper built three of them. Two 600C’s for he #6908, and John McCormack #7011, plus a 600D #7012 which was Garrie’s 1970 Gold Star mount.

Mac’s 600 did a few races using the Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF four-potter from his Brabham BT4 before conversion to Repco V8 power for the final half year the Gold Star was run to the Tasman 2.5 Formula in 1970, F5000 replaced it in 1971.

Just to confuse things, 1970 Tasman eligible cars were 2.5s and F5000, but the 1970 Gold Star – Australia’s domestic single-seater championship – was run for 2.5s only. Go figure, it was a CAMS political compromise clusterfuck of its finest, typical type.

There are no other cars on the planet which won both F1 and FF races surely? OK, ANF1 and FF races anyway!

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This is the business end of  600C 6908 complete with 730 Series Repco V8. The 600D was lighter in that Cooper used the 830 Series Repco as a semi-stressed member saving circa 100 pounds of weight overall inclusive of other changes compared to 600C. Gearbox is Hewland’s ubiquitous FT200 5-speed (AJ van Loon)

The Elfin 600 is a superb spaceframe chassis design which Cooper built for FF, F3, F2 and ANF1 Tasman 2.5 classes from 1968 to 1971. His previous single-seater, the Mono or Type 100, as the name suggests was a monocoque but customer demand for ease of maintenance and repair resulted in a very stiff, light spaceframe which evolved a bit over the 600’s long production run but in essence was the same from Cooper’s first 1968 Singapore GP winning #6801 chassis to the last built in 1971.

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Garrie Cooper and Norm Butler with the prototype Mono Mk2 #6550 at Mallala. In the words of Bruce Allison “One of natures gentlemen, he was a pleasure to deal with and an honour to race against.” Monocoque chassis and pullrod suspension front and rear. Neither driver or mechanic have noticed the spectator in the cars nosecone (Spencer Lambert)

600’s won races in all classes and championships in FF and F2. Larry Perkins, for example, won the 1970 Formula Ford National Series in a 600 FF and the 1972 ANF2 title in a 600B/E Lotus/Ford twin-cam before seeking fame and fortune in British F3 in 1973.

600’s won the 1968 Singapore GP and the 1968 and 1969 Malaysian GP’s.

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Cooper 600D, AGP Warwick Farm November 1970. DNF fuel pump in the race won by Matich’s McLaren M10B Repco  (Lynton Hemer)

The roll call of 600 pilots includes many Australian and some international greats; Cooper, McCormack, Ramsay, Perkins, John Walker, Bruce Allison, Henk Woelders, Brian Sampson, Ivan Tighe, Richard Knight, Peter Larner, Richard Davison and many others. The cars are popular historic racers these days of course.

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Cooper in the first 600, #6801 in the Sandown paddock during 1968, the car in which Garrie won the ’68 Malyasian GP. Look closely, the crop of the shot just gets in the tall, and very spindly looking high rear wing support (Jeff Morrall)

John McCormack (below) looking as pleased as punch with his new Repco 740 Series V8 in the Sandown Gold Star paddock.

It’s 13 September 1970, he was seventh that weekend, the race won by John Harvey’s Jane Repco V8. Mac started the season with his old Coventry Climax FPF in the back of his new car, he was fourth at Lakeside in June and fifth at Oran Park later that month before fitting the Repco engine in time for the September Warwick Farm round.

My Repco friend Rodway Wolfe tells the story of Mac picking up the Repco engine at their HQ’s Maidstone factory, and sticking it in the boot of his Ford Fairlane before retiring to a Footscray pub for a few cleansers with Rodway.

Mac then headed up the Western Highway for the eight hour trek back to Adelaide to instal the engine at Elfin’s Edwardstown factory. The chance of having the flash Fairlane ‘nicked in then very working-class Footscray complete with its valuable cargo was high!

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McCormack’s Elfin 600C Repco #7011 at Sandown on the 12/13 September 1970 weekend. #25 is another later Australian Gold Star champion’s car, John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford. Engine is a 740 Series Repco 2.5 (Wolfe)

It was the start of a very long mutually fruitful relationship between the Taswegian and Repco which blossomed in the F5000 era with a succession of Elfins Mac pedalled with increasing pace as his driving matured. He also raced a Repco Leyland powered McLaren M23, a car I wrote about in detail a while back;

Mac’s McLaren: Peter Revson, Dave Charlton and John McCormack’s McLaren M23/2…

McCormack raced the 600 Repco in the Mallala final round won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59 Waggott, colliding with Bob Muir’s Mildren entered Mildren Yellow Submarine.

The McCormack 600C Repco at Phillip Island in 1970 (N Tait)

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McCormack, Elfin 600C Repco Warwick Farm 5/6 September 1970. Engine in this shot is the later (than 740 Series engine in the shot above) 730 Series (or 830?) Repco (Lynton Hemer)

Garrie Cooper, John McCormack and Malcolm Ramsay were all steerers of the 600 Repco’s in Gold Star events in 1969/70.

Cooper and McCormack were both champions, Mac one of the very best, none of them were ANF1 aces at the time, they were still learning their craft more powerful cars.

My theory is that an Elfin Sports Cars prepared 600 Repco woulda-coulda-shoulda won the Gold Star in 1969 and 1970 with any of Leo Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart or John Harvey at the wheel.

A Kevin Bartlett driven 600 Repco could have won the 1970 Tasman, Frank Matich would have done the job as well of course. Indeed, FM would have given Amon, Rindt and Hill a run for their Tasman money in a 600 Repco in 1969. I know there are good commercial reasons why none of them drove Elfins in those years but that’s not my point, which is that with the right dude behind the wheel the cars were Tasman and Gold Star winners in 1969-70.

Still, ‘if yer Aunty had balls she’d be your Uncle’ as the Frank Gardner saying goes.

This is not a detailed treatise of the 600, that’s a much longer piece, for the moment this is a quickie on the three 600 Repco’s to go with some wonderful shots of a model which won a whole lot of races throughout Australasia but could have won a swag more ANF1/Tasman races with an ace behind the wheel.

In fact that last statement is NOT what the 600 was in the main about, which was a customer racing car which was quick straight-outta-the-box in the hands of a competent steerer with the settings Cooper’s highly-tuned-testing-arse built into the cars when they rolled out of his factory.

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Space frame chassis, engines to customer choice or class dictates (FF,F3,F2, ANF1) gearboxes Hewland Mk9 or FT200, disc brakes all round, rack and pinion steering (unattributed)

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Repco Brabham 830 Series 2.5-litre V8 (TNF)

Repco 830 Series 2.5-litre Tasman V8.

This is the ultimate spec Repco Tasman 2.5 engine developed for Jack Brabham’s ill-fated 1969 Tasman campaign, but first raced by him in the final ’68 Tasman round (Brabham BT23E) at Sandown. It comprises the 800 Series short block and 30 Series cross-flow heads.

In short Jack only raced his Brabham BT31 at Sandown as the car was stranded at the Port Melbourne docks inside its packing crate due to a wharfies-strike.

Read Rodway Wolfe’s account of this car here;

Brabham BT31 Repco: Jacks ’69 Tasman Car…by Rodway Wolfe

The engine was SOHC, two valve with chain driven cams. Fitted with Lucas fuel injection the engine developed 295bhp @ 9000rpm. Note the heavily ribbed block, and below, the ribbing socket head cap screws to cross-bolt the main bearing caps.

This engine is the Garrie Cooper Elfin 600D motor, its pictured in Elfin workshop ready for installation. It has the later Indy (760) sump assembly and combined oil pressure/scavenge pump.

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Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco 7012 in the Warwick Farm Esses, September 1970, second in the race won by Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott (Lynton Hemer)

Race Record of the Repco powered Elfin 600’s…

When the first 600C was completed Garrie took it on an Asian Tour which was unsuccessful, he was fast but unreliable, failing to finish all the races he contested.

The results weren’t surprising as while the car had been fired up before the drive to Sydney and attachment its aircraft pallet, GC hadn’t had the chance to shake it down at Mallala. During practice in Singapore the car was losing oil, mechanic Bob Mills could see it but could not cross the track to signal Cooper. Garry felt the engine nip-up but it was too late to save its bearings and crank. A new crank and bearings were flown in, but incorrect baffling in the oil tank caused starvation so the car didn’t start. Graeme Lawrence won the race in his McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

In Malaysia for the Selangor GP, GC led the race until a misfire caused two pitstops for plugs, pushing hard to make up time Garrie popped a wheel off the bitumen and slid into a marshals post tearing off the right rear corner.

The car was repaired in Asia by Bob Mills, Garrie joined Mills in Japan for the Japanese Automobile Federation GP which was won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco. Cooper, second on the grid lead from the start ahead of Bartlett, Ikuzawa, Geoghegan, Roly Levis Brabham BT23 FVA and Max Stewart. GC misjudged his braking, getting the 600 bogged, restatred and then the Mlaysian misfire returned and he retied.

The car was then shipped to its new owner, Steve Holland in Hong Kong. The car was returned to Adelaide to have the rear wing mounted on the chassis instead of the suspension uprights in accordance with the new global regs post the FIA’s ’69 Monaco GP pronouncements.

Cooper borrowed the car for the fourth round of the 1969 Gold Star and led from flag to flag beating the best in Australia; Bartlett, Harvey, Geoghegan, Stewart, Allen and others despite the return of the hi-rev-range misfire later in the race. The problem was eventually diagnosed as a faulty fuel metering unit when the car later returned to Australia!

For 1970 Cooper built a lighter 600C and the 600D for his own use. Granton Harrison acquired the 600C from Steve Holland for Malcolm Ramsay to race. 600C 7011 was built for John McCormack’s car as related above.

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Mal Ramsay, Elfin 600C Repco spinner at Sandown’s Shell Corner during the 1970 Gold Star round Leo G, another car and Max Stewart in the distance (Jeff Nield-autopics.com)

Cooper’s car was running late for the 1970 Gold Star, shipped to Tasmania airfreight, he started from the rear of the Symmons Plains grid and then retired with a flat battery.

Garrie was ninth at Lakeside, his Repco misfired while in third place causing a change of plugs. Max Stewart took a Mildren Waggott win, Ramsay also retired with Mac fourth in the Climax engined 600C.

At Oran Park GC was third and Ramsay fourth, Cooper and Ramsay raced under the GT Harrison Racing Team banner. McCormack’s 600C Climax was fifth.

At Warwick Farm on 6 September Geoghegan won from Cooper, Bob Muir, Rennmax BN3 Waggott and Ramsay. Mac retired on lap eight, his car now Repco 740 powered but not running on-song.

Cooper was quickest in first practice at Sandown on 13 September but broke a cam follower. Geoghegan took pole from Ramsay, Muir and Cooper. In the race Geoghegan, Cooper and Muir contested second place while John Harvey disappeared in the Jane Repco V8, a car built on Bob Britton’s Brabham BT23 jig, a variant thereof if you will.

Etcetera…

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(Lynton Hemer)

John McCormack races his Elfin 600 Repco at the 1971 Warwick Farm 100, Tasman round.

That year the Tasman was dominated by F5000 machines albeit Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T won the Cup with a blend of speed and reliability the F5000s lacked.

McCormack’s was the last race in which a Repco engined 600 ran on the circuits at championship level (noting Roger Harrison’s 600C Repco Australian Hillclimb Championship win at Mount Cotton in 1983) it was the end of the marvellous 2.5-litre era.

McCormack, 600C 740, Phillip Island 1970 (N Tait)

Credits…

John Lemm, Rodway Wolfe Collection, Adrian van Loon, Bob Mills Collection, Lynton Hemer, Singapore National Archives, Oldracingcars.com

More Efin 600 reading in my April 2021 Auto Action article here; AUTO ACTION 1808 – Auto Action

Tailpiece…

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Garrie Cooper’s 600D 7012, now Lotus/Ford Twin-Cam powered leads Vern Schuppan’s March 722 Ford during the 1972 Singapore GP on the wild Thomson Road Circuit.

He is heading through The Snakes, the car is sporting a bluff nose of the type Tyrrell made popular during 1971. Cooper fitted an evolution of this nose to the MR5 F5000’s raced during the ’72 Tasman by Cooper and McCormack.

Finally, Bruce Allison made the 600D Ford sing after Garrie was finished with it during his rise to the top…

Finito…

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