Archive for the ‘F1’ Category


I think anything Repco Brabham is a thing of functional and engineering beauty, simplicity and performance…while admitting hopeless bias!

Their F1 3-litre, DOHC, four-valve 860 V8 engine didn’t enjoy the same success in 1968 as its SOHC, two-valve 620 and 740 brothers had in 1966/7 . Don’t forget though, in 4.2-litre Indy, and 4.8/5-litre sportscar form, the 760 (same DOHC, four-valve heads as the 860 but with the long 700 block) delivered the goods for Peter Revson (Brabham BT25 at Indy Raceway Park) and Frank Matich (Matich SR4 in Oz Sportscar Champ) in 1969. The Repco Holden F5000 V8 engine which followed was an international race-winner too.

It’s the 860 depicted in the ad above, the shot is Jochen Rindt during the Belgian GP weekend on 9 June 1968, his Brabham BT26 Repco was DNF engine, the race was won by Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M7A Ford.

image Jochen’s Brabham BT26 Repco in the dry earlier in the Belgian GP weekend at Spa. Q17 and DNF engine, Jack Q18 and out with throttle slide problems. Bruce McLaren won a famous win in his McLaren M7A Ford (unattributed)

Jochen made these cars sing, he popped the BT26 on pole twice, on the front row three times. With development over the ‘68/9 Australian summer the engine was potentially a winner in ’69. I’m not saying the world title, but there is no reason 400bhp of reliable 860 Series Repco couldn’t have delivered what 405bhp of Cosworth DFV did for Ickx in the Brabham BT26A Ford in 1969; wins on the Nurburgring and at Mosport.

IF ‘yer Aunty had balls she’d be ‘yer Uncle of course, but it is the great intriguing Repco mighta-been had the boys from Maidstone done one final F1 season…


Michael Gasking Collection, MotorSport


Jochen Rindt in the Eifel Mountains gloom in 1968, he started from grid-slot three and finished in third place behind Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 Ford and Graham Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford. The great Austrian was over four minutes adrift of Stewart mind you, but it was still a morale boosting result for the Brabham Racing Organisation and Repco Brabham Engines.



These images are captioned as Enzo Ferrari at home in Bergamo, the shoot isn’t dated but either at the start or end of 1964 makes sense…

The Grand Prix car is the Ferrari 158, the weapon John Surtees used to win the 1964 Drivers and Constructors championships for Ferrari, the GT is a 500 Superfast I think. I covered ‘Big John’ and his career in this article, which includes a piece about the 158 and its specifications; also check out this pictorial of the 158;

Tailpiece: Enzo straightening his toupee…



Manuel Litran – Getty Images



Yes, the weather is beautiful, but just get on with it and nick-off, I’ve next years flat-twelves to attend to.



Denny Hulme’s snub/Monaco nosed McLaren M7A Ford passing Pedro Rodriguez’ very dead BRM P133 V12 during the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix…

By lap 16 there were only five cars left in the race won by Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B Ford from Richard Attwood’s BRM P126 and Lucien Bianchi’s Cooper T86B Maserati. Pedro boofed the Len Terry designed BRM on lap 16 having qualified ninth, Denny raced his car to fifth.

A couple of design aspects of the P126/133 design in the shot below are worth noting. The Hewland DG300 transaxle is the only occasion on which a non-BRM ‘box was fitted to a Bourne designed and built car. Checkout the remaining right-rear suspension componentry too, the twin-parallel-lower-links set up to better control rear toe, later picked up by all and sundry, was first designed for this car by Len.



Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpieces: Pedro and BRM P133 in pre-rooted state…






(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)
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.

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.



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.


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.


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)


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

Tailpiece: The course…


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.


(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!


Victor Blackman, Golden Gate Lotus Club




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!



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;

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)


(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.


Bruce Sergent on,, Ian Smith Collection

(I Smith Collection)


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; and here on the 1965 Tasman Cup and Clark’s Lotus 32B;


(Auto Action)

Jack Brabham’s last win (I think) was the Formula Ford Race of Champions at Calder on August 15, 1971.

30,000 Melburnian’s turned up to see our just-retired World Champ beat a classy field of past and present Oz champions including Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton, Bob Jane, Leo Geoghegan and Allan Moffat. Click here for pieces on the meeting, here; Calder Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ August 1971… | primotipo… and here; Jack’s Bowin, again… | primotipo…

The sight of Teddy Whitten interviewing Black Jack on the victory dais gave me a chuckle. Whitten (RIP) is a legendary Melburnian, one of our most decorated of all VFL/AFL footballers. While he had the gift-of-the-gab, his motor racing knowledge could fit easily on a postage stamp so his banter with Jack for the punters at the circuit and on Channel Seven would have been amusing.

(Allan Moffat, Wren FF)

Moffat is a touring car icon of similar stature to Teddy, but he hadn’t competed in single seaters for a few years, see here; Allan Moffat, Single-Seater racer… | primotipo…

He enjoyed the Formula Ford foray, brief as it was, commenting in his Auto Action column; “My car – Morley Ford Wren went like a charm. I enjoyed the change in handling and the beautiful response you get. There’s no doubt that these cars teach you quickly and teach you well.”

“Sitting out there in the open with the front wheels bobbing a few inches away and the track disappearing alongside is a really thrilling experience. Formula Ford just has to be the way for the young drivers,” was great endorsement from Moff during FF’s second full season in Oz.

If those who would change FF fuck-off and leave things well alone we should have the category for another 50-years. When it ain’t broke don’t fix it.


Auto Action, Sydney Morning Herald



The great EJ Whitten, wearing his beloved Big V, Victorian state side jumper, during training for a state carnival game in 1963.


(E Davey-Milne)

To those of us from less exalted climes, they were known as “the three ‘Ds’ from Toorak”, Dale, Duckett and Davey-Milne; all imbued with a fine sense of what a good motor car should be. They lived in close proximity, Duckett just around the corner from Davey-Milne and the Dales less than a kilometre away. They and their cars were often seen together. A fourth ‘D’ was their friend Lex Davison, four times winner of the Australian Grand Prix, but he was farming at Killara Park, near Lilydale.

Lyndon’s family had a thriving hardware business in Melbourne. He was only a teenager when he ventured to Europe in the late 1930s. Whether the primary purpose of this visit was to find a racing car is not known, but he certainly brought one back with him, the car he made famous, the Anzani Bugatti Special. Lyndon wanted a twin cam Grand Prix Bugatti – in other words, a Type 51. As these were still being actively raced in Europe, they may have been a little beyond his purse. In a London mews he did find a single cam Type 35 with a blown-up motor. With his young mind obsessed with the twin cam idea, he contacted the works of Ettore Bugatti in Molsheim, France, and was assured that they had such a car (or was it an engine) for him. This was to be a disappointing trip, for on arrival there, the only Grand Prix Bugatti they had available had but a single camshaft; he did not purchase it. He took a side trip to Nuremburg for the annual Nazi Party rally and heard Adolf Hitler’s address, an event which horrified him. On return to London, he bought the 35 sans moteur.

The opening photograph is the engineless 1925 Type 35 Grand Prix Bugatti, chassis no. 4450, as found by Lyndon in a London Mews. Lyndon noted that there was a lot of sand in the chassis rails – it had an extensive racing history at Southport Sands and other venues in the hands of TGV Selby who was later involved in the development of Bristol cars. Its first owner was Glen Kidston and it was the first Grand Prix Bugatti to be raced in England. Kidston later became one of the ‘Bentley Boys’.

(Bugatti Trust)

Glen Kidston on his way to a class second place in the Grand Prix de Provence in March, 1925. The band over the bonnet was yellow and denoted the 2-litre class.

(B King)

TVG Selby on Southport Sands. The Bugatti, chassis number 4450, can always be distinguished by the unusual bonnet lift handles that Kidston had fitted by the Nice Bugatti agent Friderich while it was there for the GP de Provence.

Lyndon’s search for a twin cam motor bore fruit when he found a brand new Anzani R1, 2 OHC, 4-cylinder, 1496cc motor; the same as fitted to the Squire motorcar. This engine, numbered R1 62, was the last engine to leave the Anzani works in Kingston-on-Thames – there were probably only 12 made. The English Bentley specialists Pacey’s were tasked with adapting the motor to the chassis, but this work was unsatisfactory and had to be redone in Australia. (Sound familiar?) A neat round tailed body was constructed by Cardigan Motor Body Works in Carlton. Initially there were problems with the motor (they had never been properly sorted by the factory, but Lyndon’s engineering skills overcame these problems).

(B King)

Lyndon Duckett in his immaculate Anzani Bugatti special.

For 10 years after the war Lyndon used the car for all sorts of motorsport. 1946 saw early success with ftd at a vintage sprint held at Lex and Diana Davison’s property, Killara Park. Duckett and the ‘Anz’ went on to be the inaugural winners of the Vintage Sports Car Club’s premier trophy, the ‘Vickery’.

(B King)

Lyndon at Marsden Park, NSW.

Not only did Lyndon set fastest under 1500cc time at Rob Roy, but he also beat allcomers at Marsden Park in a quarter mile sprint after an epic drive from Melbourne. Motor racing was just getting back on its feet after WWII and events were few and far between. Lyndon and Lex Davison had decided to make the long journey to north-west Sydney; Lex accompanied by his 17-year-old fiancé Diana Crick on the bodyless chassis of his 1500cc Alfa Romeo.

They had only reached the northern outskirts of Melbourne when the Alfa had a fit of Italian temperament and Lex needed Lyndon, the engineer, to travel with him. Diana, who did not have a licence, was installed in the Anzani and given a quick lesson on gear changing. In particular, she was told to get into top gear and stay there until she reached the outskirts of Albury, over 300 kilometres north! Lyndon had many more successes with the car, including wins at Ballarat Airfield races in 1950. Its last competitive outing with Lyndon ended as it had begun with a handicap win in the Tasmanian Trophy at Longford Road Races in 1955.

(B King)

It was wet in Ballarat for the 1950 Road Races held on Ballarat Airfield. It won the D Grade race. Note the stub exhausts.

(B King)

The writer also had 52 years of pleasure and some success in Historic Racing with the car. Here it is seen on the long climb up the hill at Laguna Seca in 2003 at a ‘Bugatti Grand Prix’.


This drawing of Lyndon’s Semmering Mercedes, aircraft seats and all, appeared in the July 1947 Australian Motor Sport.

The Anzani Bugatti could hardly have been off the boat from England when the young Lyndon purchased this monster. At the time of Bob Shepherd’s AMS drawing, there was much discussion as to just what type of Mercedes it was. At 17.3 litres, it did not conform with the specifications of the 1907 or the 1908 Mercedes Grand Prix cars – it was larger than both and the largest Mercedes ever. Subsequent research has identified it as a 1908 car developed specifically to win the 10Km Semmering hill climb in Austria; it succeeded in 1908 and 1909. Lebbeus Hordern was just 18 years of age when his merchant father died, leaving him a £4,000,000 fortune. What better way to spend it than on the ultimate bird puller?

(G McKaige)
(G McKaige)

No account exists of Lebbeus using the car, but the next owner Colin Smith, another millionaire, competed in 1911 at Artillery Hill, south of Sydney, before selling the car to Percy Cornwell, owner of potteries in Brunswick, an inner suburb of Melbourne. It was raced in a few events by Cornwell who also had the notorious Rupert Jeffkyns drive it for him before it passed to Ike Watson in Melbourne who dismantled it. It was bought by a brave young Lyndon in January 1942, and he had it running within a year. He confirmed that it had engine dimensions of 175×180 mm, consistent with the hill climb car. The gear ratios were equally heroic, 1st, 5:1; 2nd, 2.25:1; 3rd, 1.5:1 and 4th, direct drive.


Rob Roy with the Semmering Mercedes and Anzani Bugatti; also, the Davison ‘Little Alfa’ 6C1500 and 38/250 Mercedes Benz with Lex at the rear.

In July 1953 at Fisherman’s Bend race track the Melbourne Mercedes dealer attracted some attention which they may have preferred to have avoided. They pitted their new 300 model against the 1908 car, and to the delight of the considerable crowd, it was soundly beaten.

The writer recalls the only time he saw the Mercedes mobile; it was on the Argus Veteran Car rally in January 1955. The car was observed leaving a control in St Kilda Road and each time the engine fired the rear tyres left two black skid marks on the road – impressive.

(G McKaige)

Barn find. Lyndon’s Type FENC Isotta Fraschini.

This remarkably complete little jewel of a 1908 Isotta Fraschini Voiturette was found in rural Victoria; two of them had come here and they both survive. There are three others known, two in Italy and one in USA.

(G McKaige)

Professionally Lyndon had a motor engineering business in west-central Melbourne where he attended to client’s cars while accumulating a collection of vehicles for his own amusement.

At the time of his death, he had low-mileage Alfas, an Aston Martin, a Ducati and several other bits and pieces, including a rare Jowett Jupiter R1 and a Tojeiro chassis to which he hoped to mate a new MG twin-cam motor which was still in its box. I believe this was for a projected Le Mans car that he and Jumbo Goddard had dreamt up. The Isotta Fraschini remains with his sister.

(B King)

Isotta Fraschini FENC in recent times with Noel Cunningham at the wheel in Victoria’s Western District on a Bugatti Rally.


Enthusiast, historian and restorer, Chester McKaige knew Lyndon as a child and shares his memories.

“He was a great bloke, he Bob Chamberlain, Earl Davey-Milne and a couple of Bentley Club bods in the Bentley Club were great to a kid growing up.”

“I have many fond memories of Lyndon and his mother Edith. The huge kitchen in Towers Road, Toorak, with kitchen table at one end piled high with car magazines. The stag head on the wall in the hall, the mosaic covered fountain. Lyndon’s obnoxious nephew too! Edith teaching me to play the saxophone. And towards his later years, the stick to keep the hoist up at his garage. The huge quantity of oil filters he had in stock that turned out to be empty boxes or filled with used ones.”

“I was his Godson and fortunate to get a guernsey in his will, so I was able to buy his Coventry Climax engined Morris Minor.  I have his garage sign hanging on the wall in my garage. He used to keep spare cash under the carpet in his cars. I found $8 in $2 notes under the carpet in Morris. Dad used to call him Fella”.


Australian Motor Sport, 1947, ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand’ 1920 to 2012. King and McGann, Serpollete’s Tricycle, Volumes 2 & 3. The Brescia Bugatti, Bob King, Earl Davey-Milne, State Library of Victoria, George McKaige

Tailpiece, or piece of tail?…

(B King)



(Brier Thomas)

Jackie Stewart leads Jim Clark through Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 1967 Tasman round at the fast Queensland circuit on 12 February…

 You can just see that the lightly loaded right-front wheel of Jackie’s 2070cc BRM P261 V8 is off-the-deck. Jim is chasing him in Lotus 33 R14 powered by a 2-litre variant of Coventry Climax’s 1.5-litre FWMV V8 Climax built for Lotus to tide them over pending delivery of the BRM H16 engines they used in the 1966, the first 3-litre GP year. The Ford Cosworth DFV V8 arrived at the ’67 Dutch GP in the back of a Lotus 49 and changed the GP world of course.

Stewart was the reigning Tasman Champion, BRM cleaned up in 1966 winning seven of the eight races – Jackie won four, Graham Hill two and Dickie Attwood one.

It was a lot tougher in 1967.

Lotus put to one side the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder engines they had previously used in their Tasman cars and used the F1 33 powered by the Climax V8, creating a very competitive mount despite giving away 500cc to some of the competition.

Jim finished all eight rounds and won five races including three point-scoring events. Jack Brabham’s Brabham Repco 640 Series V8s driven by he and Denny Hulme were also fast but had poor reliability. Jackie took two wins in 1967 for second in the series but was well behind Jim.

The BRMs were still very competitive in 1967 but the final increase in capacity – and resulting power and torque proved a bit too much for the transmission. BRM suffered gearbox problems in ’67 with the 2070cc variant of the P56/60 V8, they had not experienced with the 1930cc version used the year before.



The photo above shows the pair again, this time with Clark in front of Stewart during the final 1966 Tasman round at Longford, Tasmania on 7 March.

There Jackie won from teammate Graham Hill, Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco third. It was the Brabham Repco V8 combination’s third race, by the early European Grands Prix the 1965 BT19 chassis and Repco 620 Series V8 was finding ultimate race and championship winning pace and reliability.

Clark’s 1966 Tasman Lotus was the 39 Coventry Climax FPF, he took one round win it at Warwick Farm.

I wrote an article a while back about the ’67 Tasman and the seasons of Clark, Stewart and Hulme, see here; This article on the P56 BRM V8 may also be of interest;


Brier Thomas, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania


gonz silvers start

(Louis Klemantaski)

Froilan Gonzalez launches his BRM V16 Mk1 off the line. 19 July, Silverstone ‘Daily Express Formula Libre Trophy’…

He is slow away on the inside though, Piero Taruffi is quicker off the line in the Thinwall Ferrari on the outside with Ken Wharton in the other #8 BRM, similarly sluggish. Big, heavy beasts that they are, with Gigi Villoresi in the factory Ferrari 375 V12 between the two V16’s.

gonz and ray

‘Get knotted’, hmm, maybe not. ‘Take it easy for two laps’ Raymond Mays seems to be saying to his driver? (Ronald Startup)

2-litre F2 became the World Championship category in 1952, a consequence of there being too little opposition to Ferrari upon Alfa Romeo’s withdrawal from Grand Prix racing at the end of 1951.

BRM’s unreliability in terms of commitment to GP racing forced the issue upon the CSI. The choice was to have Ferrari dominate F1 or potentially open up the fields by running the World Championship to F2 of which their were plenty of manufacturers, ignoring the fact that the Scuderia dominated there anyway.

Despite the change to F2, ten F1 races of substance were held in 1952, but quite a few of them were in reality Formula Libre events, as Silverstone was. Event organisers were keen for the Grand Prix car spectacle, there were plenty of them even if the grids were thin of recent F1 cars.

gonz silvers astraight

The big, brutish, distinctive BRM Type 15 profile. Gonzalez, Silverstone (Louis Klemantaski)

The 35 lap race was won by Piero Taruffi in Tony Vandervell’s Ferrari 375 Thinwall Special from the Scuderia Ferrari 375 of Luigi Villoresi and Chico Landi’s 1951 spec Ferrari 375. Fourth was Australian Tony Gaze in a pre-war Maserati 8CM.

Gonzalez was out on lap eight after an accident, Ken Wharton in the other BRM completed 33 laps before retiring with a gearbox problem. The mixed nature of the grid is indicated by the place-getters below fourth who were Ron Flockhart and Bob Gerard in ERA D and A Types, John Barber in a Cooper T20 Bristol, Graham Whitehead in ERA C Type, and Bira in Maser 4CLT Osca V12 and the rest. There was no shortage of variety in the field which comprised pre and post War, supercharged and normally aspirated, F1 and F2 cars.

Although not GP wins the BRM was finding some form later in the season with victories for Reg Parnell at Turnberry in August and Gonzalez at Goodwood in late September. Gonzalez led home Parnell and Ken Wharton in a BRM 1-2-3 in the 15 lap ‘Daily Graphic Goodwood Trophy’ that day in a grid comprising mainly F2 cars.

If only it’s development were a year or so further advanced at the time…


Louis Klemantaski, Ronald Startup

Tailpiece: Gonzalez wowing the Silverstone crowds with the stunning music of 1.5-litres of supercharged BRM V16…

gonz silvers truck

(Louis Klemantaski)