Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

(B Hanna)

The New Zealand International Grand Prix Racing Team about to fly to London via Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bombay, arriving at the beginning of April 1961. Auckland Airport, from left is Bill Hanna, Angus Hyslop and Ross Pedersen. Don’t stress guys, it’ll be ok!

Once in the UK they meet up with Denny Hulme, basing themselves around the Kingston-upon-Thames area. As a Driver to Europe alumnus, Denny also drove under the NZIGP Team banner.

This is the second of three articles written by Alec Hagues around photographs taken by Bill Hanna, Alec’s father in law who was Angus Hyslop’s team manager/mechanic during 1961. The first instalment is here; Angus Hyslop, Kiwi Champion through Bill Hanna’s lens… | primotipo…

Enjoy the fabulous photographs and first hand account of elite level international Formula Junior from another age.

(B Hanna)

On 15 or 16 April 1961, before they started racing, the team visited Oulton Park in Cheshire for the GT Cars Trophy Race. Here above are the Lotus Elites of John Wagstaff #16, Bill Allen and Peter Arundell; there are some seven Elites in the race.

However, the big news was the debut of the Jaguar E-Type in racing, the first production example having rolled off the production line in Coventry only the month before. Note the group of admirers all-over Graham Hill’s Jag, shunning Jack Sears’ Ferrari!

(B Hanna)
(B Hanna)

Roy Salvadori #5 above leads Graham Hill #4 off the grid, both driving E-Types. Just behind are John Wagstaff #16 (Lotus Elite Climax), Jack Sears #3 (Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta) and Innes Ireland #8 (Aston Martin DB4).

(B Hanna)

The Cars

Angus’ Lotus 20-Ford/Martin in green, seen in the paddock at Goodwood above. A recap, Angus shipped his Cooper T43-Climax 1964cc over to the UK. We know this because it ‘comes back’ at the end of the season, at least as far as NZ Customs are concerned.

He is on the NZIGPA Driver To Europe scheme which is affiliated with Cooper Cars Ltd, and the team spend time at Cooper’s garage in Surbiton. Yet he drives a Lotus the whole time he is in Europe.

(B Hanna)

Denny’s Cooper T56-BMC (later Ford) in blue/silver, is seen here at Roskilde during practice for the Copenhagen Cup in May, he is ahead of Angus who later won the race, Denny placed seventh.

While Angus has Bill and Ross on his team, Denny enlists the help of journalist Eoin Young. With no disrespect to Eoin’s memory, it seems highly likely Bill gets involved with both cars!

The NZIGP Team drivers wear silver helmets with a maroon stripe.

(B Hanna)

Angus’s first race in Europe (above) is the BARC Whit Monday Meeting at Goodwood, 22 May 1961. A number of sources report that he wins the race.

At the Roskilde, V Copenhagen Cup, 28 May 1961 Denny bravely returned to the track where his Kiwi team-mate George ‘Joe’ Lawton was killed the previous September.

As noted above, Angus won the race, David Piper was second in another Lotus 20 Ford.

Angus and Denny’s cars on their trailers in the paddock – the depot – at Roskilde.

(B Hanna)

On 4 June 1961 in the IX Grand Prix de Rouen Junior at the Circuit de Rouen-les-Essarts, Angus takes 11th and Denny DNF with both suffering engine problems.

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Who is the young businessman at Le Mans? Marvellous, atypical Denny portrait (B Hanna)

Le Mans 10-11 June 1961: XXIX Le Mans 24 Hour.

There are many pictures out there of the Abarth 850S co-driven by Angus and Denny so successfully in this race. So here’s a picture of Denny Hulme in a suit with a tanker and a theodolite.

Having taken somewhat disappointing sixth and 18th spots respectively on 2 July 1961 in the V Coupe International de Vitesse des Formule Junior, Circuit de Reims-Gueux, Denny and Angus returned to the UK before embarking on the long trip towing their cars in convoy to Sicily.

Here are Denny (in classic barefoot pose) and Eoin with the convoy parked up, probably waiting to board the ferry at Villa San Giovanni (below).

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(B Hanna)
(B Hanna)

23 July 1961: III Gran Premio di Messina, at the Circuito Laghi di Ganzirri.

In their best joint performance of the summer, the Kiwi duo took first and second places with Angus edging Denny out of the top-spot.

(B Hanna)

The grid shot above is probably heat 1, Massimo Natili, Taraschi Fiat #6 on the grid alongside the Lola Mk3 Ford of Britain’s Bill McGowen #15 and Geki #42 Lotus 20 Ford. This heat was won by Lorenzo Bandini from Jo Siffert and Angus.

(B Hanna)

Above is probably the Lotus 20-Fords of Bandini #50 and Siffert #37 on the front row of the grid, with Angus’s similar car creeping into shot at left.

The stunning panorama below is probably heat 2, Bob Anderson’s Lotus 20-Ford and Colin Davis’ Lola Mk3 Ford leading, with Denny probably largely concealed behind them. Davis won the heat from Anerson and Hulme.

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(B Hanna)
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Brands Hatch, 7 August 1961 a John Davy Trophy meeting. I think I see Angus and Denny in there, mid-grid. Hyslop was 12th and Hulme a DNF in the race won by Peter Arundell’s Team Lotus Lotus 20 Ford.

And below, on a typical grey English summer day at Goodwood, 19 August 1961 II BARC Formula Junior Championship, perhaps that’s Alan Rees leading in the Lotus.

Rees won from Gavin Youl’s MRD Ford and Dennis Taylor’s Lola Mk3 Ford with Angus fourth. Denny was in Sweden that weekend contesting the Kanonloppet, he too was fourth.

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(B Hanna)
(B Hanna)

Back at the Roskildering for the Danish Grand Prix weekend of 26-27 August 1961 above.

Aside from the Formula 1 Grand Prix (non-championship) feature race and Formula Junior (in which Angus and Denny were third and fourth respectively), and saloon car racing featuring John Whitmore in his Austin Mini Seven, the organisers put on this display of stunt driving.

You are seeing about half of the entire circuit in this one photo.

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(B Hanna)

Angus’ final 1961 race seems to have been the September Trophy meeting at Crystal Palace on 2 September 1961.

In the line up above we see Angus Hyslop #6, Eric Harris Alexis Mk3 Ford, Steve Ouvaroff with the #15 Competition Cars of Australia built Ausper T3 Ford, Gavin Youl in the first first Brabham, the MRD Ford #8 and Denny at far right in #31; an all-Australasian crew with the exception of Harris. In the background is Ian Raby’s Cooper T56 Ford.

Angus was seventh, while Denny DNQ, Trevor Taylor’s works Lotus 20 Ford won.

The butt shot below is of Youl’s MRD at the same meeting.

(B Hanna)

Angus and Bill returned safely to New Zealand and although Angus only drove two more seasons in racing cars, both enjoyed a lifelong passion for motor racing.

Meanwhile, the tale of how when Angus’s Cooper T45-Climax 1964cc arrived back in New Zealand a couple of months later it had become a T53 2495cc Lowline has been told elsewhere.

Part 3 soon…

Credits…

Photography by the the late Bill Hanna and words by Alec Hagues

Tailpiece…

(B Hanna)

Angus is putting on his helmet somewhere in the UK, one of our readers, Roger H has kindly identified the shot as probably the Snetterton meeting on 14 May, 1961.

The Lola Mk2 front and centre is the Scuderia Light Blue machine of Hugh Dibley. It’s possibly Brian Hart in Len Terry’s Terrier #8, then Angus #1, Reg Brown in the Lotus 20 #3 and Bill Moss in Lotus 18 #10.

Many thanks!

Finito…

GV Wolf WD1 Chev, Trois Rivieres 1977 (MotorSport)

1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve’s dad doesn’t have awe inspiring race-statistics, so why is he revered by generations of F1 fans born long after he died? Mark Bisset looks back at the French-Canadian legend 40 years after that tragic May 8, 1982 Belgian GP weekend at Zolder

Before the carbon-fibre era few of motor racing’s supreme automotive acrobats died quietly in their beds.

Bernd Rosemeyer, Jochen Rindt, Ronnie Peterson, Ayrton Senna, Stefan Bellof, Gilles Villeneuve and their ilk had God-given skills which awed fellow competitors and spectators alike.

Spectacular car control, seemingly impossible passes and flagrant disregard for their own safety were their modus operandi, performed without the many ‘safety nets’ of modern F1.

Attack! GV during the September 1977 GP de Trois Rivieres, Canada weekend. Q3 and 14th with engine problems aboard Walter Wolf’s Wolf WD1 Chev. Patrick Tambay took the win, Lola T333CS Chev (MotorSport)
Gilles during the 1977 British GP weekend at Silverstone, F1 newbie (LAT)

Joseph Gilles Henri Villeneuve (18/1/1950-8/5/1982) was one of the most spectacular practitioners of his art, he wanted – needed – to be the quickest racer out there in every session. To his ultimate cost.

Seville Villeneuve whetted his son’s competitive juices by giving him a snowmobile, by 1972 Gilles was a pro-driver with Skiroule, in 1974 he won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby at Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Villeneuve mounts his Alouette 650 single-track, all set to win at Eagle River in 1974 (CJ Ramstad)

Seville nurtured Gilles’ early interest in cars too. Villeneuve took a Jim Russell course at Mont Tremblant, then demonstrated the same mastery of machine on bitumen as on snow aboard a Magnum Formula Ford, winning a regional Quebec championship in 1973.

Villeneuve later said of snowmobiling “Every winter you could reckon on three or four big over 100mph spills. They slide a lot, which taught me about control. Unless you were in the lead you could see nothing with all the snow blowing about, it was good for the reactions and stopped me worrying about racing in the rain.”

GV, Magnum Formula Ford in 1973 Trois Rivieres? (MGV)
March 77B Ford BDA, Trois Rivieres 1977. Fourth from pole, Price Cobb won in another 77B (MotorSport)

Villeneuve progressed and was immediately quick in an Ecurie Canada March 74B Formula Atlantic (FA) in 1974 until the wild-man broke his leg at Mosport mid-season.

Fully committed, Gilles sold his home to fund a privately run March 75B the following year, travelling to the races with wife Joann and his children Melanie and Jacques in a motorhome. His breakthrough win came in the wet at Gimli, then he stunned visiting GP drivers by putting the March third on the grid at Quebec’s GP de Trois Rivieres street race.

Racing for the top-gun Ecurie Canada equipe again in 1976, he won Canadian and US (IMSA) FA Championships then popped the icing on the cake by winning Trois Rivieres from pole ahead of Alan Jones, James Hunt, Vittorio Brambilla, Bobby Rahal and Patrick Tambay.

Teddy Mayer tasked Leo Wybrott, Stevie Bun and John Hornby to look after Gilles’ McLaren M23/8. “He was communicating with me so well, and we started to change the set-up of the car and he went faster and faster. We were fourth or fifth quickest, eventually qualifying ninth. We didn’t qualify higher because we didn’t have access to the soft Goodyears” Wybrott recalled. (MotorSport)
Villeneuve lapping Silverstone in ’77. His first race outside North America was in the 1976 Pau GP for Ron Dennis’ Project Four outfit, Q10 and DNF in a year old March 752 Hart impressed the F2 regulars (LAT)

The international racing world was abuzz with the other-worldly-skills of the pint-sized Canadian magician. No less an admirer than James Hunt pressed his cause with McLaren’s Teddy Mayer who ran a car for Gilles at the 1977 British GP.

Villeneuve explored the limits of his M23, spinning on most of Silverstone’s corners as he worked out the car’s limits, outqualifying his vastly more experienced teammate, Jochen Mass. He finished 11th despite a pitstop for what turned out to be a broken water temperature gauge.

Further impressive Formula Atlantic drives and pace aboard Walter Wolf’s wilful Wolf WD1 Chev Can-Am car established his big-car credentials.

Villeneuve in the Wolf WD1 Chev, circuit unknown, 1977. The Canadian was immediately quick in this challenging car vacated by Chris Amon upon his retirement from racing (unattributed)
GV and Patrick Tambay at Trois Rivieres in September 1977. Tambay won the race (and the series overall) in the Carl Haas’ Lola T333CS Chev behind him, GV DNF engine from Q3. #25 is Bobby Rahal’s Lola T296 Ford BDX (LAT)

When Mayer signed Patrick Tambay to replace Mass in 1978, Enzo Ferrari bagged Villeneuve. Gilles remained a Ferrari driver – surely ordained at his birth – for the balance of his way-too-short career.

His first 1977 start at Mosport ended with a DNF, tragedy followed at Fuji a fortnight later. Gilles challenged Ronnie Peterson’s Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler under brakes, the pair collided causing the Canadian’s Ferrari to vault the armco into a restricted area where it killed a spectator and a marshall. Despite a no-fault finding his year couldn’t have ended on a worse note.

Villeneuve mid-flight at Fuji with the fatal consequences imminent. Peterson’s Tyrrell P34 rear damage ‘clear’. Rare shot of the underside of a 312T2 Ferrari inclusive of the pipe-bender’s artistry (unattributed)
GV on the way to his first GP win at home in October 1978, Montreal, Ferrari 312T3. His future teammate, Scheckter was second in a Wolf WR6 Ford and present teammate Reutemann was third (unattributed)

1978 was character building. Villeneuve was unsurprisingly bested by his seasoned Ferrari teammate Carlos Reutemann who won three Grands Prix in the year of the dominant ground-effect Lotus 79, Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson.

After a series of early season DNFs and accidents the Italian press were baying for his blood, twelve months later they wanted him anointed a Saint.

Better performances in later ’78 were capped by a season-ending Mosport home win. His emotions at the year’s conclusion were the complete reverse of those twelve months before.

Gilles and Jody at Hockenheim in July1979. Alan Jones started his late season run of wins that weekend in his Williams FW07 Ford. Sceckter was fourth and Villeneuve eighth (unattributed)

Enzo Ferrari’s pairing of F1’s 1973 and 1978 enfants terrible, Jody Scheckter and Villeneuve in 1979 seemed a volatile Molotov Cocktail to many pit-pundits, but the kindred spirits gelled.

They extracted all Mauro Forghieri’s ground effect Ferrari 312T4 had. Gilles had the edge in outright pace – both won three Grands Prix – but Jody’s better placings, and Gilles preparedness to keep to team instructions, in a line-ball season edged out the Canadian by four points.

British GP, Silverstone 1979. Ferrari 312T4 14th on the day Clay Regazzoni i took a famous first win for Williams – FW07 Ford (M Lee)
It may not always have been the quickest way around a racetrack, but GV’s style sure was entertaining! Zolder, May 1979, 7th, Scheckter won (MotorSport)

Two races which partially forged the Villeneuve legend were at Dijon and Zandvoort.

Two-mad-little-Froggies, Auvergne’s Rene Arnoux and Quebec’s Gilles Villeneuve went at it hammer and tongs in the French GP’s final laps in an epic, breath taking, wheel to wheel-tapping battle between Renault RE10 and Ferrari 312T4 for second place.

 In a magnum-opus of car control the pair waged a dice the likes of which GP racing hasn’t seen since. The duo gave each other just enough room – centimetres – to carry off a balletic-opera rather than tragic-comedy which concluded in Gilles’ favour.

So all-consuming was this dice that Renault and Jean Pierre Jabouille’s first turbo-car, and first GP win (Renault RE10) were almost forgotten!

During the Dutch GP’s closing laps Villeneuve’s left-rear tyre exploded. Undeterred, and desperate for points he reversed back onto the track and headed for the distant pits shredding the tyre, wheel and left-side suspension assembly. Gilles devotees saw it as his passionate will to win while his detractors offered the display as further evidence that he was absolutely bonkers…

Crazy last laps at Dijon in 1979: Villeneuve 312T4 and Rene Arnoux, Renault RE10 (MotorSport)
Ferrari 126CK, Dijon DNF French GP 1981 (MotorSport)

1980 was a Ferrari disaster as more advanced ground effect cars bested the 312T5, limited as it was by the width of its 180-degree V12 (or Flat-12 if you wish) which impinged on critical sidepod/tunnel size.

Ferrari joined the turbo-age in 1981 with the 550-600bhp 1.5-litre 126CK. Its combination of tricky power delivery mixed with chassis and aerodynamic shortcomings created a machine in which Gilles comprehensively blew-off new teammate, Didier Pironi after Scheckter retired (Villeneuve outqualified Pironi 10-5 that year).

Villeneuve showed plenty of controlled aggression, winning at Monaco after keeping the tricky car on the island as others crashed or had mechanical misfortune.

Three weeks later at Jarama, Gilles took the Spanish GP lead on lap 14 then fronted a high-speed freight train of Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio De Angelis, nose-to-tail for 18 laps in a classic battle of a more powerful but ill-handling car holding off four better handling cars. The top-5 were separated by 1.5 seconds at the finish of a thriller in which Gilles put not a foot wrong.

On the way to winning the 1981 Monaco GP, Ferrari 126CK. Jones second in his Williams FW07C Ford and Laffitte third in Ligier JS17 Matra (unattributed)
Here we go with 2 laps to run, Imola 1982 (unattributed)

And so, to the Final Act.

1982 started as ‘81 finished, Gilles outqualified his friend Pironi – they were mates let’s not forget – four nil aboard the improved 126C2 at Kyalami, Rio, Long Beach and Imola.

Pironi was feeling the pressure, why would Ferrari keep him if he couldn’t deliver the goods?  The consistent gap between he and Gilles was marked.

The San Marino Grand Prix grid was decimated by the ongoing FOCA/FISA turf/sporting/commercial battle, ten of the FOCA teams didn’t enter. After the retirement of the leading Renaults, Villeneuve led Pironi (as usual).

Ferrari’s ‘slow’ pitboard was interpreted as slow and hold position by Gilles. Pironi passed Villeneuve, Villeneuve re-took the lead three times, and then slowed thrice. Despite this – Villeneuve’s superiority over the Frenchman crystal clear to all over the previous 15-months – Pironi passed again and took the chequered flag having interpreted the signal differently. Or took a win he badly needed and hadn’t achieved mano et mano in fair combat.

Gilles burned with fury, setting up the tragedy which unfolded at Zolder a fortnight later on May 8, 1982.

Zolder pits, May 8, 1982. GV ready for the off, Ferrari 126C2 chassis #056
GV 126C2 #055 at Kyalami in January 1982. The monocoque chassis was a composite structure made of Hexcel carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb, a far cry from the strength of the high speed carbon fibre dodgem-F1s of today

Fuelled by anger and determined to beat Pironi’s better qualifying time, Villeneuve set off on those final laps, fell short, then collided with Jochen Mass’ March at 120-140mph as both cars changed direction before Terlamenbocht – Mass moved his March, in fifth gear but going much slower than Villeneuve, to the right to allow the Ferrari to pass on the left – launching the Ferrari into the air and then a series of horrific cartwheels. The hapless racer suffered a fracture of the cervical vertebrae and a severed spinal chord, he died at 9:12pm that evening at the University of St Raphael Hospital in Louvain

Canada and the racing world mourned, as many still do.

Based on statistics Villeneuve isn’t one of the greats, but like Nuvolari, Rosemeyer, Rindt and Peterson, Gilles is revered for the passion, brio, fire and electricity he produced in a racing car every time he jumped aboard.

When Villeneuve was on track the beer-tents emptied. The automotive acrobat was about to strut his stuff, sadly the catch-net and the gods were absent on that day in Belgium 40 short years ago.

“I know that no human being can perform miracles. But Gilles made you wonder sometimes,” quipped Jacques Laffite.

R.I.P Gilles Villeneuve. We salute you.

Credits…

MotorSport, LAT, CJ Ramstad, museegillesvilleneuve.com, Martin Lee, Leo Wybrott on auto123.com, Getty Images, ‘Gilles Villeneuve:The Life of the Legendary Racing Driver’ Gerald Donaldson

Tailpiece…

Last lap. Still on the hop, quallies useless by then but he was still on the hop…

Finito…

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Albert Park 2022 (formula1news.co.uk)

Ferrari have been fantastic this year, as they often are in seasons of a new F1 formula. Mark Bisset analyses that notion and calculates the Maranello mob’s likely chances of success…

Aren’t the 2022 F1 rules fantastic! The FIA tossed the rule book up in the air – in a highly sophisticated kind of way of course – and it landed as they hoped with a few long overdue changes in grid makeup.

Ferrari up front is good for F1, anyone other than Mercedes will do, their domination of modern times has made things a bit dreary.

It’s way too early to call the season, but two out of four for Ferrari has promise given the budget-cap. “It’ll be ten races before McLaren have their new car. And it won’t be all new, that’s not possible within the budget constraints,” Joe Ricciardo told me on the morning of the AGP.

By the end of the season, the new-competitive-paradigm will be clear to the team’s Technical Directors, next year’s cars will reflect that. In the meantime, we have great, different looking cars the performance shortcomings of which can be addressed, to an extent.

For many years Ferrari was a good bet in the first season of a new set of regulations, let’s look at how they’ve gone since 1950 on the basis that history is predictive of the future…

Froilan Gonzalez and Ferrari 375 win the ‘51 British GP from pole. JM Fangio and Gigi Villoresi were second and third in Alfa 159 and Ferrari 375 (goodwood.com)

Enzo Ferrari ran a family business, while he was technically conservative and kept a wary eye on the lire, his first championship GP winning car, the Tipo 375 4.5-litre normally aspirated V12 raced by Froilan Gonzalez in the 1951 British GP at Silverstone commenced a new engine paradigm (achievements of the Talbot Lago T26Cs duly recognised).

Since the 1923 Fiat 805 GP winners had been mainly, but not exclusively powered by two-valve, twin-cam, supercharged straight-eights, like the 1950-1951 World Championship winning Alfa Romeo 158-159s were.

Alfa’s 1951 win (JM Fangio) was the last for a supercharged car until Jean -Pierre Jabouille’s Renault RS10 won the 1979 French GP, and  Ferrari were victorious in the 1982 Constructors Championship with the turbo-charged 126C2.

When Alfa withdrew from GP racing at the end of 1951, and BRM appeared a likely non-starter, the FIA held the World Championship to F2 rules given the paucity of F1 cars to make decent grids.

Alberto Ascari, Ferrari 500 Spa, Belgian GP 1952. He won from his teammate Nino Farina and Robert Manzon, Gordini 16 (MotorSport)

Aurelio Lampredi’s existing 2-litre, four-cylinder F2 Ferrari 500 proved the dominant car in Alberto Ascari’s hands taking back-to-back championships in 1953-53.

Alberto’s ‘winningest’ 500 chassis, #005 was raced with great success by Australians Tony Gaze and Lex Davison. Davo won the 1957 and 1958 AGPs in it and our first Gold Star, awarded in 1957. Australia’s fascination with all things Ferrari started right there.

After two years of domination Ferrari were confident evolutions of the 500 would suffice for the commencement of the 2.5-litre formula (1954-1960), but the 555/625 Squalo/Super Squalos were dogs no amount of development could fix.

Strapped for cash, Ferrari was in deep trouble until big-spending Gianni Lancia came to his aid. Lancia’s profligate expenditure on some of the most stunning sports and racing cars of all time brought the company to its knees in 1955.

While company founder Vincenzo Lancia turned in his grave, Gianni’s mother dealt with the receivers and Enzo Ferrari chest-marked, free of charge, a fleet of superb, new, Vittorio Jano designed Lancia D50s, spares and personnel in a deal brokered by the Italian racing establishment greased with a swag of Fiat cash.

Juan Manuel Fangio duly delivered the Lancia Ferrari goods by winning the 1956 F1 Drivers Championship in a Lancia Ferrari D50 V8.

JM Fangio clipping the apex at Copse, Silverstone in 1956 Lancia Ferrari D50. The Alfonso De Portago/Peter Collins D50 was second and Jean Behra Maserati 250F third (LAT)
Silverstone again, this time Mike Hawthorn in 1958, Ferrari Dino 246. Peter Collins’ Dino won from Hawthorn and Roy Salvadori’s Cooper T45 Climax (LAT)

 Mike Hawthorn followed up with the 1958 Drivers’ Championship victory in the superb Dino 246 V6 which begat Scuderia Ferrari’s next change-of-formula success in 1961.

Concerned with rising F1 speeds (there is nothing new in this world my friends) the FIA imposed a 1.5-litre limit from 1961-1965.

Ferrari raced a 1.5-litre F2 Dino variant from 1958 so were superbly placed to win the 1961 championship despite their first mid-engined 156 racer’s chassis and suspension geometry shortcomings.

The (mainly) British opposition relied on the Coventry Climax 1.5-litre FPF four which gave away heaps of grunt to the Italian V6, only Stirling Moss aboard Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax stood in Ferrari’s way. The championship battle was decided in Phil Hill’s favour after the grisly death of his teammate Count ‘Taffy’ Von Trips and 15 Italian spectators at Monza.

Ferrari 156 at Modena in 1961 (ferrari.com)

By 1964 Ferrari – never quick to adopt new technology back then – had ditched the 156’s Borrani wire wheels, spaceframe chassis and Weber carburettors thanks to Mauro Forghieri, the immensely gifted Modenese engineer behind much of Ferrari’s competition success for the next couple of decades. John Surtees won the ’64 F1 Drivers and Constructors Championships in a Ferrari 158 V8.

With ‘The Return to Power’, as the 1966-1986 3-litre F1 was billed (3-litres unsupercharged, 1.5-litres supercharged) – sportscars were making a mockery of the pace of 1.5-litre F1 cars – Ferrari and Surtees had a mortgage on the 1966 championships until they shot themselves in the foot.

Coventry Climax, the Cosworth Engineering of the day, withdrew from racing at the end of 1965 leaving their customers scratching around for alternative engines.

Ferrari were again in the box-seat in ’66 as their 312 V12 engined racer was ready nice and early. It was an assemblage of new chassis and an engine and gearbox plucked from the Maranello sportscar parts bins. With a championship seemingly in-the-bag, Modenese-Machiavellian-Machinations led to Surtees spitting the dummy over incompetent team management and walked out.

Look out blokes, ‘comin through! John Surtees at Eau Rouge, Spa, Ferrari 312 in 1966, ‘Grand Prix’ cinematographers totally unperturbed by the Flying Ferrari. Surtees won from Jochen Rindt’s Cooper T81 Maserati and Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari 158/246 (MotorSport)

It was the happiest of days for Jack Brabham, his increasingly quick and reliable Brabham BT19 Repco V8 comfortably saw off Lorenzo Bandini and Mike Parkes who weren’t as quick or consistent as Big John.

Scuderia Ferrari were then in the relative GP wilderness until 1970 just after Fiat acquired Ferrari, but leaving Enzo to run the race division until his demise.

Fiat’s cash was soon converted into 512S sportscars and the most successful V12 ever built. Ferrari’s Tipo 015 180-degree 3-litre masterpiece won 37 GPs from 1970-1980 in the hands of Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Carlos Reutemann, Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve. Not to forget Constructors’ titles for Ferrari in 1975-1977 and 1979, and Drivers’ championships for Lauda (1975,1977) and Scheckter (1979).

Oops, getting a bit off-topic.

Gilles Villeneuve in the fugly but effective and reliable Ferrari 312T4 at Monaco in 1979. Note the hard working, fully extended skirts. Jody Scheckter won in the other T4 from Clay Regazzoni’s Williams FW07 Ford and Carlos Reutemann’s Lotus 79 Ford (unattributed)

The next F1 step-change wasn’t FIA mandated, but was rather as a consequence of Peter Wright and Colin Chapman’s revolutionary 1977/78 Lotus 78/79 ground effects machines which rendered the rest of the grid obsolete.

Forghieri stunned the F1 world when Ferrari adapted their wide, squat 525bhp 3-litre twelve to a championship winning ground effects car despite the constraints the engine’s width bestowed upon aerodynamicists intent on squeezing the largest possible side-pods/tunnels between the engine/chassis and car’s outer dimensions. Scheckter and Canadian balls-to-the-wall firebrand Villeneuve took three GPs apiece to win titles for Scheckter and Ferrari.

Renault led the technology path forward with its 1.5-litre turbo-charged V6 engines from 1977 but it was Ferrari who won the first Manufacturers Championships so equipped in 1982-83.

The Harvey Postlethwaite designed 560-680bhp 1.5-litre turbo V6 126C2 won three Grands Prix in an awful 1982 for Ferrari. Practice crashes at Zolder and Hockenheim killed Villeneuve and ended Didier Pironi’s career. Keke Rosberg won the drivers title aboard a Williams FW08 Ford in a year when six teams won Grands Prix.

High speed Jarama caravan in 1981. Brilliant drive of controlled precision and aggression by Gilles Villeneuve won the race for Ferrari. His more powerful and more unwieldy 126CK just held his pursuers at bay; Jacques Laffite, Ligier JS17 Matra, John Watson, McLaren MP4/1 Ford, Carlos Reutemann’s, Williams FW07C Ford and the just visible Elio de Angelis, Lotus 87 Ford – they finished in this order (unattributed)

Despite a change to a 3.5-litre/1.5-litres four-bar of boost formula in 1987-88 Ferrari stuck with its turbo-cars. The F1/87 and F1/87/88C designed by Gustav Brunner delivered fourth and second in the Constructors Championships, the victorious cars were the Williams FW11B Honda and McLaren MP4/4 Honda.

Enzo Ferrari died in August 1988, not that the company’s Machiavellian culture and quixotic decision making was at an end…

Rock star ex-McLaren designer John Barnard joined Ferrari in 1987. The first fully-Barnard-car was the seductive 640 built for the first year of the stunning, technically fascinating 1989-1994 3.5-litre formula.

This 660bhp V12 machine, fitted with the first electro-hydraulic, seven-speed paddle-shift, semi-automatic gearbox won three races (Nigel Mansell two, Gerhard Berger, one) and finished third in the constructor’s championship.

Innovative as ever, Barnard’s car wasn’t reliable nor quite powerful enough to beat the Alain Prost (champion) and Ayrton Senna driven McLaren MP4/5B Hondas. Despite six wins aboard the evolved 641 (five for Prost, one to Mansell) in 1990 the car still fell short of McLaren Honda, Senna’s six wins secured drivers and manufacturers titles for the British outfit.

Gerhard Berger pings his Ferrari 640 thru Spa’s Bus Stop chicane in 1989, DNF in the race won by Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/5 Honda (unattributed)

F1’s all-time technology high-water marks are generally regarded as the Williams’ FM14B and FW15C Renault V10s raced by Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to Drivers and Manufacturers championships in 1992-93. They bristled with innovation deploying active suspension, a semi-automatic gearbox, traction control, anti-lock brakes, fly-by-wire controls and more.

As 1994 dawned Ferrari had been relative also-rans for too long, persevering with V12s long after Renault and Honda V10s had shown the way forward. This period of great diversity – in 1994 Renault, Yamaha, Peugeot, Mugen Honda, Hart, Mercedes Benz and Ilmor Engineering supplied V10s, while Cosworth Engineering provided several different Ford V8s, not to forget Ferrari’s Tipo 043 V12 – ended abruptly at Imola during the horrific May weekend when Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger lost their lives in separate, very public accidents.

In response, FIA chief Max Mosley mandated a series of immediate safety changes and introduced a 3-litre capacity limit from 1995-2004.

Ferrari’s 412T2 V12s finished a distant third in the 1995 Constructors Championship behind Renault powered Benetton and Williams. Much better was the three wins secured by recent signing, Michael Schumacher aboard the V10 (hooray finally!) engined F310, and four with the 310B in 1996-97. Ferrari’s Head of Aerodynamics in this period was Aussie, Willem Toet (1995-1999).

Michael Schumacher nips a brake testing the Ferrari 412T2 at Estoril in November 1995. His final race with Benetton in Adelaide was less than a fortnight before (unattributed)

Ferrari’s Holy Racing Trinity were anointed when Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher (not to forget Chief Designer Rory Byrne) came together as CEO, Technical Director and Lead Driver; six Constructors World Championships flowed from 1999 to 2004.

Renault and Fernando Alonso took top honours with the R25 in 2005, but Ferrari were handily placed for the first year of the 2.4-litre V8 formula in a further emasculation of the technical differences between marques in 2006. Mind you, the primeval scream of these things at 20,000rpm or so is something we can only dream of today.

Ferrari’s 248 F1 used an updated F2005 chassis fitted with the new Tipo 056 715-785bhp V8. It came home like a train in the back end of the season, winning seven of the last nine races, but fell short of the Renault R26 in both the Constructors and Drivers titles.

Alonso beat Schumacher 134 points to 121, and Renault 206 points to Ferrari’s 201 but the 248 F1 won 9 races (Schumacher seven, Felipe Massa two) to Renault’s 8 (Alonso seven, Giancarlo Fisichella one), so let’s say it was a line-ball thing…and Kimi Raikkonen brought home the bacon for himself and Ferrari with the new F2007 in 2007.

Michael Schumacher displays the elegant simplicity of his Ferrari 248 on the way to winning the Italian GP, Monza 2006 (unattributed)

In more recent times the whispering 1.6-litre single turbo V6 formula, incorporating an energy recovery system, was introduced in 2014.

Ferrari fielded two world champions for the first time since 1954 (Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari) when Alonso and Raikkonen took the grid in new F14T’s, but that dazzling combo could do no better than two podiums in a season dominated by Lewis Hamilton’s and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrids.

Ferrari’s season was a shocker, it was the first time since 1993’s F93A that the Scuderia had not bagged at least one GP win.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F14T at Suzuka in October 2014. DNF in the race won by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes Benz F1W05 Hybrid. What visual atrocities the cars of 2014 were (MotorSport)

So, what does history tell us about Ferrari’s prospects in this 2022 formula change year? Given our simple analysis, at the start of the season Ferrari had a 36% chance of bagging both titles, but with two out of four wins early on for Charles Leclerc they must be at least an even money chance now.

I’m not so sure I’d put my house on them, but I’d happily throw yours on lucky red!

Credits…

formula1news.co.uk, goodwood.com, ferrari.com, LAT, MotorSport

Finito…

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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.

cooper mono

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.

cooper 600

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!

mac

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.

elfin 600

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.

mal

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…

mac

(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…

gazz

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…

1961 Ardmore Sports Car Trophy race – Le Mans start (B Hanna)

“The Le Mans start of the Sports Car Trophy Race (above) at Ardmore, 7 January 1961 (the VIII New Zealand Grand Prix meeting) seen from the pit lane. Angus Hyslop is aboard his Jaguar #100 and Doug Lawrence in the Cooper Bobtail #55 seem to be a couple of steps ahead of Malcolm Gill in the 5.2-litre four cylinder Lycoming Special #37. But Gill ran out the winner, with Hyslop second.”

Angus Hyslop was a champion Kiwi driver who shone brightly before returning to his farming career, see here for an article which provides some context to what follows; 1962 Lakeside International and Angus Hyslop… | primotipo…

The late Bill Hanna was Hyslop’s team manager/mechanic during 1961 when Angus was awarded the NZ Driver To Europe Scholarship. In between his fettling and organisational responsibilities Bill shot these marvellous colour transparencies in New Zealand and in Europe. Thanks to the efforts of Alec Hagues – Bill’s son-in-law – we can now tell the tale and share these never-before-seen Hanna family photographs.

This is the first of three articles written by Alec I’ll upload over the next month. A million thanks to him and his family for choosing primotipo to share these words and pictures publicly. They are magic timepieces from motorsport and lifestyles-of-the-day perspectives. I’ve fiddled with the photo captions in a few cases to flesh-out car model/specs, any errors are mine. Enjoy! Over to Alec…

“Meanwhile, having collected a 1958-built Cooper T45-Climax 1964cc from Syd Jensen in Kairanga at the end of 1960, Angus ran both the Cooper and his Jaguar D-Type XKD534 in the 1961 New Zealand Championship meetings.”

“The grandstand in the background identifies this as Levin, most likely on 14 January 1961, the Cooper and two Jaguars belonging to the Hyslop team are pictured above.

The 2nd Levin International that day was won by Jo Bonnier – and his distinctive 2.5-litre Cooper T51 Climax #2 creeps into the corner of this shot below, probably taken from the same spot as that above, but in the opposite direction to the first.”

(B Hanna)

“Conditions at Wigram on 21 January 1961 were less than ideal for photography, but given Angus’s famous performance in the Lady Wigram Trophy (third place to Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss and first Kiwi home) and the appearance of the Cooper’s former owner, Syd Jensen, Bill can’t let the day go unrecorded! Angus and Syd (left) are shown below with the speedy Cooper T45 on a frosty, soggy Kiwi summer day.”

Syd Jensen and Angus Hyslop (B Hanna)
Angus’s Cooper T45-Climax on Andersons Bay Road, Dunedin (B Hanna)

“Andersons Bay Road, Dunedin, the Festival Road Race on 28 January 1961. The Bob Smith or Frank Shuter Ferrari 555/625 (help folks) #46 and Arthur Moffatt’s Lotus 15 Climax #41 are behind Angus’ Cooper in the roadside pits.

Brian Prescott’s race ended against a brick wall on lap 29; this is his (formerly shark-nosed) Piccolo Maserati 250F #29 shown below.

The introduction to the NZ National Film Unit’s ‘New Zealand Grand Prix’ short film was shot in Dunedin that day, with the Sports Car and Feature races both covered – in the film we see Denny Hulme cross the line in first place in the latter event. New Zealand Grand Prix | Short Film | NZ On Screen

Accident damage to Brian Prescott’s Maserati 250F (B Hanna)
#19 Pat Hoare, #20 Denny Hulme, #3 Jo Bonnier, #1 Angus Hyslop, #33 Len Gilbert (B Hanna)

“The front row at Teretonga, 4 February 1961: Pat Hoare, Ferrari 246/256 3-litre V12 #19, Denny Hulme, Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 #20 and winner, Jo Bonnier’s Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 #3. Just behind them are Angus #1 and Len Gilbert, Maserati 250F #33. Other colour pictures of this race have been seen online, but this shot is simply too good to leave out.

The sports car race on the same day below with Ivy Stephenson’s Buckler Le Mans #38 prominent, but the ubiquitous Lycoming, Doug Lawrence’s Cooper Bobtail, Ross Jensen’s Daimler Dart, F P Harris’s MG TF and David Young’s Jaguar C-Type are in there with Angus’s Jaguar too.”

(B Hanna)

“Waimate on 11 February 1961 was another meeting held in the wet… and it seems that Bill didn’t feel like getting his camera out. Pat Hoare won the third Waimate 50 in his Ferrari V12, Denny Hulme already had the Gold Star in the bag so didn’t participate.”

Fay, Bruce Webster’s Cooper-Porsche, the Hyslop Cooper-Climax and Jaguar D-Type, Ahuriri 18 February 1961 (B Hanna)

“Back home now to South Pond paddock at Ahuriri for the Napier Road Races of 18 February 1961.

In the Hastings team corner, above, we see Bruce Webster’s Cooper-Porsche and again Angus’s Cooper and Jaguar. That’s Bill’s wife Fay, a familiar face at motor racing events at this time. Note the somewhat crude last-minute number changes to #111 and #151 – Angus obviously wasn’t keen to be #46 as suggested by the day’s programme. Pat Hoare entered too late to be in the programme, but ended up winning the feature race in his awesome ex-works F1 Ferrari Dino 246 powered by a 3-litre V12.

This is surely later the same day below… but what happened?

Angus sold XKD534 to Simon Taylor after the next meeting at Ohakea on 25 February 1961 and ended the New Zealand season with third place in the Gold Star and second in the Sports Car Championship to Malcolm Gill. Angus and Bill pack the Cooper up for the long voyage to Europe…and it is never seen in New Zealand again.”

(B Hanna)

To be continued, trust me, if it’s possible, the photographs get even better…

Credits…

Photographs, the late Bill Hanna, words Alec Hagues

Finito…

(G Smedley)

Love Geoff Smedley’s caption to the photograph of he and Austin Miller at Bakers Beach, Tasmania, “Now just lean on the loud pedal and you could become famous.”

The car is Aussie’s Smedley modified Cooper T51 Chev, that morning on Monday November 20, 1961 they did indeed set a new Australian Land Speed record at 163.94mph. Click here for a feature on this amazing achievement by a small team of talented men; Aussie’s Land Speed Record… | primotipo…

(D Harvey)

Lets stay at the beach for a minute, above is John Hicks’ Holden FJ, at King Edward Park Hillclimb, Newcastle in 1967 with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.

(B Edmunds)

I never thought Mike Goth’s rebodied Surtees TS5 Chev was the most attractive of cars but Barry Edmunds, the photographer and lifelong Alfista, has captured the machine nicely on the Sandown International grid in 1970.

Behind him is Ron Grable’s shovel-nosed McLaren M10B Chev, and to the left John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco, the race was won by Niel Allen’s M10B, all three of the other cars mentioned were DNFs.

(J McKeown Collection)

Lou Molina bags-em-up at Templestowe Hillclimb in 1959.

The Molina Monza Special was fitted with a supercharged Repco-Hi Power headed Holden Grey-six so it didn’t lack low end grunt!

I love the avant garde Brian Burnett styled and built body, he was a man of great talent. One of these days I’ll get around to writing about this fabulous car, which is extant.

Templestowe 1958 (J McKeown Collection)

Lou at Phillip Island in 1959 (Jim McKeown Collection)

(D Simpson)

Kevin Bartlett leads Leo Geoghegan through the Warwick Farm Esses during the Hordern Trophy Gold Star round in December 1968, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 V8 and Lotus 39 Repco.

KB won the race from pole with Phil West, Brabham BT23A Repco second. Leo retired with head gasket failure. See here for a feature on the Brabham; Mellow Yellow… | primotipo… and here for one on the Lotus 39; Jim Clark and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39… | primotipo…

(Getty Images)

Another one of Bartlett, this time in Alec Mildren’s second Alfa Romeo GTA ‘LHD’ coming down the mountain at Mount Panorama circa 1967, with George Garth’s Ford Cortina GT in close attendance. Click here for an epic on the Mildren GTAs; The Master of Opposite Lock: Kevin Bartlett: Alfa Romeo GTA… | primotipo…

Looks like a Covid 19 Australian Grand Prix win for Max Stewart at Oran Park in November 1974, hardly a soul to be seen from this angle, but there was a big crowd in attendance.

He won in his Lola T330 Chev from John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco and Graeme Lawrence, Lola T332 Chev, see here for a report on the race; 1974 Australian GP, Oran Park… | primotipo…

(A Polley)

This one made me laugh, it’s Ed Polley’s crew travelling across the Great Brown Land during the summer of ’77.

It looks pretty dry too- I’m not sure where the long paddock is. Polley raced his Polley EP1/Lola T332 Chev in two Rothmans rounds, 11th at Surfers Paradise was his best result.

(D Smallacombe)

Amazing shot of Joan Richmond aboard her 1920 Ballot 3/8 LC at Brooklands during 1934.

This 3-litre straight-eight machine was second at Indianapolis in 1920 with Rene Thomas at the wheel. The following year Jules Goux won the 1921 Italian Grand Prix in it before it was raced by Sir Malcolm Campbell, and then Jack Dunfee from 1923.

Richmond bought the car from Dunfee, racing it throughout 1934, she matched Campbell’s times of years before but a lack of charity from the handicapper meant she never won outright. The engine threw a rod later in the season at which point she sold the car. There is a bit about Joan here; Werrangourt Archive 6: Safety Beach, Dromana Speed Contest… | primotipo…

The Jim Goldfinch Austin Healey 100S lining up an outside pass on John Taylor’s attractive Taylor-JAP at Port Wakefield in 1958.

100S #AHS3906 had some handy steerers in its day including Stan Jones, Ron Phillips and Goldfinch. Suss Tony Parkinson’s wonderful website on this car; AHS 3906 1955 – Austin Healey 100S

(MotorSport)

Jack Brabham and Jochen Rindt up close and personal at Brands Hatch during the 1970 British Grand Prix.

It’s Paddock, with Jochen making a move up the inside of Jack – absolute trust and respect between these two fellas – Brabham had his measure that day too, passing and then driving away from him until the last lap, last corner hiccoughs due to lack of fuel.

A costly error by Nick Goozee, who had left the fuel mixture on rich after the engine was warmed up, rather than the usual race setting resulted in excessive fuel consumption. See here for a dissection of the cars and race; Jack’s BT33 Trumped by Chunky’s 72… | primotipo…

(MotorSport)

(S Scholes)

Pretty amazing Fishermans Bend shot during the February 1955 meeting in which multiple World Motorcycle Champion Geoff Duke blew the crowd away with the sight, sound and speed of his Gilera 500-4.
Perhaps here he is leading Harry Hinton. The shot below is at Bandiana Army base near Albury in late January and shows the lines of the handsome machine to great effect.

(AMCN)

(J Jarick)

In each of the cities Duke raced he spoke to packed meetings of motor cycle fans, the cover of the program above is for one of those events in Chapel Street, Prahran, in Melbourne’s inner south. See here for a couple of pieces on Geoff, bikes; Geoff Duke, Gilera 500/4, Australia 1954… | primotipo… and cars; Geoff Duke: Norton, Dutch GP, Assen 1952… | primotipo…

Elfins abroad.

The car above is Henri le Roux’s Elfin Mallala Ford in South Africa during 1964, circuit unknown. The montage below is of Australian, Mike Hall and his Elfin 620 Formula Ford in the United States during 1974. See here for a piece on Elfin exports; African Elfins… | primotipo…

(Classic Cars Rhodesia)

Paul Hawkins on the way to a Rhodesian GP win on December 1, 1968. He won the 20 lap race for sportscars in his Ferrari 350 Can Am #0858.

Hawkins bought the Ferrari P4 – converted to Can-Am specifications in later 1967 – from David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce in late 1968 and had a very successful African tour with it in late 1968 and early 1969. See here; Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 ‘0858’… | primotipo…

(J Ebrey)

Dan Ricciardo on the way to winning the first round of the 2009 British F3 Championship at Oulton Park aboard his Dallara F309 VW on 13 April.

He won both races that afternoon and others at Silvertone, Spa and Brands Hatch that season to win the title by nearly 90 points from Walter Grubmuller’s Dallara F309 Mercedes. Formula Renault 3.5 beckoned on a fast climb to F1 with HRT in 2011.

(Red Bull)

(HMRPR)

Munro Abroad.

I hate vinyl roofs, surely the ultimate Lygon Street woggerisation accessory of the 1970s? Here Dirk Marais puts one to good use at Kyalami, South Africa in 1970. His Holden Monaro GTS350 ran in the Star Production Cars class, assistance welcome Peter Ellenbogen!

(G Smedley)

Grass track racing at the Elphin Showgrounds, Launceston, Tasmania in the 1950s.

The late Geoff Smedley commented, “It was always fun to have a race on the show ground arena after the main cattle parade but a winner could never be picked thanks to all the bullshit!” Geoff’s mount, liberally sprayed with said shit, is a Triumph TR2, I think.

(G Smedley)

(Road Rave)

Fred Foster’s Holden Grey twin-cam dates to late 1952.

Two engines were built, both were used in boats, only this one survives. Fred Foster was a Brisbane engineer, “a self taught and fulltime metallurgical genius”, the design was “based on some $5 plans chalked on his factory floor.”

There were separate castings for each cam cover, another front cover hides the chain driven camshafts underneath, and auxiliary drives. Road Rave wrote that “The two head castings were modelled on the Norton Manx layout, the engine’s capacity was 132.5 square inches and gave 140 bhp with mild camshafts having 270 degrees duration.”

With six carbs, the skiff ‘Fossey’ took the American 135 cubic inch records from the V8/60 Flattie Ford V8s. Oh yes, he made a 132.5cid V12 from scratch, the alloy block and heads of which survive!

Doug McLachlan leads the winner of the 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix at Mount Panorama, Alf Najar.

The machines are MG TA  and  MG TB specials, Hell Corner appears to be covered in lubricant, hence the very wide line taken by the drivers to find some grip. See here for a feature on this October 11 handicap race; 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix | primotipo…

Alf Najar accepts the plaudits of his team after a job well done. The 25 lap race was dominated by MGs, Jack Nind’s TB Special was second and Alby Johnson’s TC third.

(unattributed)

Alan Jones at a soggy Snetterton during his 1973 breakthrough year in British F3, 13 April.

The car is a GRD 373 Ford-Vegantune, he was 11th that day in a race won by Tony Brise’ similar car. AJ finished second in the 1973 British F3 Championship, two points adrift of Brise. Jones had raced in the class since 1970, progressively working to the front of the hard fought proving ground.

The breaks fell his way from that point in Formula Atlantic and in F1 when ex-racer, dual British F3 champion, Harry Stiller, ran a Hesketh 308B Ford for Jones in 1975.

Jones contested the mid-April non-F1 championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone before racing in the Spanish, Monaco, Belgian and Swedish Grands Prix with fourth place in the crash shortened race at Montjuïc Parc, Barcelona his best finish.

At that point of the season Graham Hill picked him up. Jones raced the Hill GH1 Ford in Holland, France, Great Britain and Germany, his best placing was a fifth at the Nurburgring.

He later ruefully observed that the two World Champions for whom he raced, Hill and John Surtees were also the two most difficult people for whom he raced, both knew better on car set up than the bloke behind the wheel…

Motor Manual promotional, pre 1956 Albert Park Grand Prix cover with an all Italian front row.

It’s the start on the Moomba weekend Argus Trophy with Reg Hunt, Kevin Neal and Lex Davison up front in #2 Maserati 250F, Maserati A6GCM 2.5 and Ferrari 500/625, Hunt won from Davison and Neal.

Photo Credits…

Geoff Smedley, Dale Harvey, Barry Edmunds, Jim McKeown Collection, Dick Simpson, Getty Images, Adam Polley, David Smallacombe, Stephen Scholes, Joe Jarick Collection, Mike Hall, Classic Cars in Rhodesia, Jakob Ebrey, ‘HMRPR’-Historic Motor Racing Photos and Research, Road Rave, Chris Jewell, AMCN- Australian Motor Cycle News, Tony Parkinson Collection

Tailpiece…

(C Jewell)

Frenchies. Alain Prost and Jacques Lafitte on the front row of the grid, 1982 Australian Grand Prix at Calder. Pole and second on the grid, 100 laps later they finished in that order aboard Bob Janes Ralt RT4 Ford BDAs, Roberto Moreno was third in another RT4.

That year the other internationals were Nelson Piquet, Alan Jones, Paul Radisich and Neil Crang. The Australian Aces of the day were Alf Costanzo, John Bowe and John Smith.

Finito…

Braydan Willmington’s S5000 data-gathering laps at Mount Panorama over Easter 2021, whetted many appetites with anticipation (D Kalisz)

Australia has been starved of top level single-seater racing for years.

After a difficult birth, a full-field of Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford 5.2-litre V8s faced the starter at Sandown in September 2019. Background to that point is provided in this article; Progress… | primotipo… More here too; Tasman Cup 2021… | primotipo… Not to forget this of course; Ligier JS F3-S5000 with Matich A50 F5000 Twist… | primotipo…

Covid 19 destroyed the 2020 season, but the category owners, Australian Racing Group ran a well supported four round (Symmons Plains, Phillip Island, Sandown and Sydney Motorsport Park), 12 race Gold Star (the Australian Drivers championship) between January and May 2021.

Rubens Barrichello testing at Phillip Island in advance of his participation in the first race at Sandown Park, in early September 2019. His opinion of the cars, free of the usual PR-crap, would be interesting (D Kalisz)
James Golding in his GRM S5000 at Baskerville in January 2021. This chassis raced, or rather demo’d sans mufflers on the Saturday – the music was awesome! (D Kalisz)

The very talented Joey Mawson was a worthy and popular winner with three race victories in a Garry Rogers Motorsport entry from dual Gold Star winner, Tim Macrow’s self-engineered and prepared car. Tom Randle and James Golding were third and fourth in other GRM cars.

Plans were announced later in the year for a three round Tasman Cup, reviving a revered competition won by some of the sport’s great names, for 2.5-litre and F5000 cars, from 1964-1975.

After the Covid induced cancellation of the Gold Coast 500 on the Surfers Paradise road course, the championship was contested over two rounds, at Sydney Motorsport Park and Mount Panorama.

There were three race winners at SMP, Tim Macrow, Roberto Merhi and Aaron Cameron.

Two French-American Onroak-Ligier built Ligier JS F3-S5000 chassis about to be mated to Ford Coyote V8s at Garry Rogers Motorsport in late 2019. In recent times, three years after creation of the class, ARG decided the completed assemblage of bits shall be referred to officially as the Rogers AF01/V8 Ford. Catchy ‘innit (S5000)
The versatile and very fast Aaron Cameron dives down The Mountain during his Tattslotto/Dodgem-car Bathurst weekend (D Kalisz)

A fortnight later the teams arrived at Mount Panorama for four races from November 30 to December 4. The last time a 5-litre V8 single seater raced at Bathurst was when Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev F5000 set a longstanding lap record during the Easter 1970 weekend.

Open wheeler enthusiasts relished the prospect of Australia’s fastest racing cars – with their power reduced for the weekend by 85bhp to an FIA mandated 470bhp to meet the requirements of the circuit licence – doing battle on the ultimate road racing track.

Unfortunately, the large number of driver induced high speed accidents did little but prove the sound engineering of their racing/dodgem cars. At the end of the three-race-clusterfuck – the fourth and final race was abandoned – Aaron Cameron was presented with the Tasman Cup in a Lotto-type result devoid of karma.

Tim Macrow is a fabulous blend of speed and finesse to watch in these demanding cars. Here in his self-run, Chris Lambden owned Ligier at Phillip Island in March 2021. He won a round, together with Joey Mawson and Tom Randle that weekend (D Kalisz)
Mountain Straight freight train at Bathurst 2021 (D Kalisz)

Other names etched into that cup are Bruce McLaren, Jim Clark (three wins), Jackie Stewart, Chris Amon, Graeme Lawrence, Graham McRae (three wins), Peter Gethin and Warwick Brown.

The 2022 Gold Star is being held over six rounds between February and September, the Tasman Series comprises three rounds in October-November. In 2023 a Tasman round is planned for New Zealand, this is great to justify requisition of a revered name for a race series which was contested on both sides of The-Ditch (Tasman Sea).

I was lucky enough to see these fantastic cars race at Symmons Plains and perform demonstrations at Baskerville the week later, twelve months ago. In a perfect world there would be a set of rules and a mix of chassis and engine manufacturers, but as the Covid Alchemists continually prove, the world isn’t perfect. So, a mix of 15 or so identical 5.2-litre DOHC, four-valve, fuel injected Ford V8 powered, Ligier JS F3 chassis shakes the ground quite nicely for me.

Australian international, James Davison, Albert Park 2020 before the Covid plug was pulled (D Kalisz)
Tim Macrow about to exit stage left at Sandown’s first turn, September 2019. Tim won a heat, John Martin the other, Macrow won the meeting overall. Yellow nose is James Golding’s GRM machine (D Kalisz)

ARG are to be congratulated for the media coverage, Supercar Maxi-Taxis suck the life out of all other race categories in Oz, but S5000 got a fair crack of the whip.

The media includes photography by Daniel Kalisz, a mighty-talented young ‘snapper whose work is posted onto the S5000 Facebook page. This article is a tribute to his creativity, remember that name. Buy his work. I chose shots with panoramic backdrops devoid of grubby advertisers hoardings, Kalisz proves it can still be done, at some circuits anyway!

Southern Loop at Phillip Island must be a sphincter-puckering experience in these missiles. Bass Straight is the backdrop, next stop Tasmania, or perhaps King Island (D Kalisz)

Credits…

S5000 Group Facebook page

Tailpiece…

(D Kalisz)

On man, this shot by Kalisz! The wow factor when I saw and published it early in 2021 was mega. It is a beautifully composed and executed shot of Tom Randle at Baskerville, a stunning natural amphitheater just north of Hobart, Tasmania. My Oz shot of the year…

Finito…

Max Stewart with John Walker at right, Calder 1972. Repco-Holden V8, then circa 490bhp powered Elfin MR5 and Matich A50 (S Gall)

During 1972, then Australian automotive parts manufacturing and retailing colossus, Repco Ltd celebrated its half century.

Yes folks, that means the now foreign owned 400 store retailer of automotive bits and pieces made by others is a centenarian in 2022! They have some exciting things planned for next year, I won’t rain on their parade by sharing the bits I’m aware of.

Time flies all too fast, as a young teenager I attended two of the five Repco Birthday Series F5000 championship meetings run at Calder between March and December ‘72 as part of those celebrations.

The man who was ‘sposed to win the Repco Birthday Series, F Matich Esq. Bi-winged Matich A50 Repco-Holden, Calder 1972 (S Gall)

At that stage Repco had been out of F1 for four years, the 3-litre V8 Repco Brabham Engines program had yielded two GP world constructors and drivers championships for Brabham Cars (Motor Racing Developments Ltd), Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd, Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme in 1966-1967.

Repco’s cost effective means of maintaining a racing presence after pulling the F1 pin was a partnership with General Motors Holdens to build F5000 engines using GMH’ then ‘spankers 308 V8 as a base, from 1969 to 1974.

Phil Irving and Brian Heard did mighty fine jobs, their Repco-Holden V8 engine design won AGPs, NZ GPs, many Tasman rounds, several Gold Stars and countless sports-sedan and sportscar races.

The interloper: KB in his sinfully sexy and oh-so-fast Lola T300 Chev at Calder in 1972 (I Smith)

It was therefore a pain-in-the-tit when Kevin Bartlett’s Chev powered Lola T300 rained on Repco’s parade in their home state by winning a ‘72 championship the grand plan of which involved a Repco-Holden engined victory!

It wasn’t all bad, Frank Matich, in the Repco sponsored Matich A50 Repco-Holden won that years Gold Star, but KB’s two Birthday Series round wins gave him a nine point advantage over FM. Conversely, Bartlett was 12 points short of Matich in the Australian Drivers Championship, the Gold Star.

Repco’s race heritage goes all the way back. In 1935 they were sponsors of engineering substance, rather than just cash…not that cash is to be scoffed at (B King Collection)

In recent times Repco have returned to racing as series sponsors of the Bathurst maxi-taxis. In the forty years they were involved as OE and aftermarket suppliers to the motor industry, and constructors of cars (Maybachs, Repco Record), race engines, components and equipment from the mid-1930s to 1974 Repco’s involvement was supreme.

Still, the comparison is unfair. We once had an automotive industry in this country until it was sodomised to a standstill by a troika (sic) of incompetent, greedy fuckwits bereft of commonsense or a single-cell of vision; management, government and organised labour.

Gees he was a big, lanky prick wasn’t he? The capped Marvellous Maxwell Stewart partially obscured by mutton-chopped Bryan Thomson or Garrie Cooper (? who-izzit?) in the BP compound at Calder in 1972. Elfin MR5 Repco, not Max’ favourite car (S Gall)

Etcetera…

(T Johns Collection)

More on the use of Repco pistons and rings in 1935. This time fitted to Les Murphy’s MG P-Type during the ‘1935 Centenary 300’ held at Phillip Island in January.

(S Gall)

Warwick Brown proved he had the ability to handle these demanding 5-litre roller skates in 1972 having jumped out of a Cosworth FVC powered McLaren M4A – McLaren M10B Chev heading into Calder’s main straight in 1972.

(S Gall)

Graham ‘Lugsy’ Adams – then mechanic and later rather handy driver and F5000 constructor – does his best to focus on the Calder job at hand. Is that the future, and still current Mrs Brown looking thoroughly wonderful behind an M10B shortly to become Bryan Thomson’s Volksrolet?

Credits…

Stephen Gall, Bob King Collection, Ian Smith, Tony Johns Collection, Barry Edmunds

Tailpiece…

(B Edmunds)

John Harvey in one of the very few appearances of Bob Jane’s Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 at Calder in 1972 – Surfers Paradise and Warwick Farm were the others as far as I can see.

Bowin bias hereby declared…here I go. Again.

This beautiful, small, light, compact, ingenious, variable-rate suspension F5000 never got the run it deserved. Supposedly Janey put it to one side because Castrol wanted him to focus on his taxis rather than his real cars.

Then Leffo bought it in mid-1974, sans Repco-Holden V8, to replace the P8 chassis he boofed at Amaroo and then stuffed up the installation of a Chev V8 into a chassis for which it was never designed, creating a car as stiff as a centenarians todger, with handling reflective thereof…

John Joyce’s P8 Repco design is a great Oz F5000 mighta-been, not that mighta-beens count for SFA in motor racing!

Finito…

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines – there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK. John Willment bought it, the Australian connection continued as Brian Muir was the driver. Those brakes, always the weak link caused him a big accident at Oulton Park, beyond economic repair, the car was scrapped.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

Today we are so used to cast or forged alloy wheels on our cars that we don’t think about them, at least not until we hear that infuriating crunch when we brush a curb. Just when the modern alloy wheel first appeared is subject to some speculation. (See The Nostalgia Forum – https://forums.autosport.com, 12 November, 2009 et seq.) When discussing these wheels, aluminium, magnesium and Elektron (a magnesium alloy) are often confused. Regardless of what we call them, ‘Mag, Alloy or Ali’, there is no disputing that Ettore Bugatti pioneered the use of aluminium wheels on racing cars when he used them on his ground-breaking Type 35 that first appeared at the Grand Prix de l’ACF (French Grand Prix) at Lyon on 3 August, 1924.

Ignoring Bugattis pioneering wheel for the moment, it would seem that cast or forged alloy wheels started to appear in general use in the late 1930’s – perhaps initially in the aviation industry – by this time the USA was a hotbed of experimentation in aluminium casting and alloy development. In England Alex Issoginis used 6 spoke Elektron wheels on his fabulous ‘Lightweight Special’ which he developed in the latter half of the 1930’s. These wheels had integral brake drums, à la Bugatti, but the spokes were bolted to the rim as distinct from being cast in one piece; a technique also used with aircraft.

Bugatti’s aluminium wheel as seen at the French Grand Prix in 1924 (B King)
Alec Issigonis aboard his Lightweight Special with electron wheels in 1961 (unattributed)

In the early post-war years, the use alloy of wheels became commonplace, particularly with racing cars. Perhaps the first to use these wheels in this period was John Cooper on his Mark II. Doug Nye in his seminal COOPER CARS , states that Cooper discussed the increasing difficulty in obtaining suitable wheels with his cousin Colin Darby and they came up with the idea of casting wheels with an integral brake drum “like Bugatti pre-war”.

They patented their design and had them cast, claiming that the wheels were “lighter and stronger than the old Fiat type”. Arthur Owens, THE RACING COOPERS, states that their first production alloy wheels appeared in 1947 and were “cast in Elektron with 8-inch brake drums cast integrally”. Others state that it was in 1948 that the Cooper Mk. II, their first production model, appeared with these wheels. Again, claims were made for better brake cooling, more rigidity and better access to the brakes. Other small-time manufacturers such as Laurie Bond with his eponymous Bond ‘C’ type of 1948 used alloy wheels; in the case of Bond, they were to his own design.

Meanwhile across the pond, ex-Douglas aircraft engineer Ted Halibrand began experimenting with magnesium alloy wheels in 1946 which he first used on his own midget racing car. He tried them out on Indy cars in 1949, but had problems with cracking and the soon to become ubiquitous Halibrand cast wheel did not appear at the Indianapolis 500 until 1950. Subsequently, every Indy car between 1951 and 1967 wore Halibrand wheels and Halibrand’s influence still looms large in the wheel industry and hot rod community.

‘Sure, it looked a lot more aggressive than a steelie with poverty caps’. Ted Halibrand with magnesium alloy wheels and other castings (Internet Commons)
A ‘modern’ Messier Bugatti alloy Boeing nose wheel serves as a hose reel for the writers garden hose. Yes, the Bugatti name survives in the aero-spatial industry (B King)

Historically, it had been generally accepted that the cast aluminium wheel was solely the product of the inventive mind of Ettore Bugatti. However, in 1981 influential American automotive historian Griffith Borgeson (1918-1997) set the cat among the pigeons with his BUGATTI by BORGESON (Osprey). The sub-title of this book is ‘The dynamics of mythology’, and in it he tries, at times too hard, to discredit some of the pioneering work of Bugatti. In chapter 13, ‘Wheels within Wheels’, Borgeson claims priority for the invention of the aluminium wheel for Harry A Miller in a US Design patent of 4 May 1920,

Miller’s design for an ‘ornamental wheel’ (G Borgeson)

Recently, while researching the racing history of Diatto factory works driver Carlo Massola we were shown a book on the marque by Sergio Massaro titled simply: DIATTO. We were astonished to see that on the front cover there was depicted a car with what appeared to be cast wheels. In fact, in 1923 ‘Automobili Diatto’ produced a version of their racing Tipo 20S with aluminium wheels described by Massaro as “the fantastic ‘holey’ wheel” which was cast in light alloy.

It is important to understand that there had been a long-standing relationship between Bugatti and Diatto dating back to their membership of the Turin branch of Club Automobilisti d’Italia as early as 1899 or 1900. According to Steinhauser’s ETTORE BUGATTI, Pietro Diatto, who was nine years older than Ettore, ‘Took an interest in Bugatti’s prototype T8 in 1907. Their relationship was uninterrupted’.

The T8 refers to Bugattis eighth car design which was for the German industrial giant that was Deutz. It was in effect a prototype for future Bugattis with an overhead cam actuating vertical valves via ‘banana’ tappets – a design feature later glorified by his highly successful Brescia model.  In October 1915 Louis Panabel, the Diatto agent for France, obtained an option for Bugatti’s pioneering eight in-line steel-block aero engine in the name of Cavaliere Pietro Diatto. This was the aero-engine which had grown from Ettore’s concept for a luxury car engine of eight cylinders with which he had been experimenting since 1912.

The Diatto-Bugatti aero engine was successfully tested in September 1916, Diatto sending an enthusiastic telegram to Bugatti “I am happy to announce the excellent results for the engine … the testing resulted in a brilliant 210 HP”. This collaboration led to a 1919 agreement in which Bugatti was to supply Diatto with fifty 16 valve car chassis made in Molsheim; they were to be fitted with Diatto radiators. (Other than the radiator and the bonnet, these cars were identical to the Bugatti factory product – they are what today is referred to as the ‘Brescia Bugatti’).

Three of these Diatto-Bugattis were shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1919, all with a Diatto radiator with a Bugatti badge. Bugatti displayed two of his outdated 8-valve cars on another stand. Bugatti was a late entrant for the show, and it would appear that the industrial giant Diatto had stolen a march on the under-funded Molsheim factory. There is an unsubstantiated claim in Wikipedia that Diatto also manufactured chassis for Bugatti.

The fantastic holey wheel used on the Diatto 20S (Massaro)

Dane Claude Teisen-Simony has written of the relationship between Bugatti and Diatto. According to Claude, Diatto, which was the second largest Italian automobile manufacturer post-WWI, formed what was “an absolute dream team. Not only did he start with the collaboration of Bugatti, he also linked-up with the outstanding engineering capacity of Giuseppe Coda of FIAT and SCAT racing fame plus two of the Maserati brothers, Alfieri and Ernesto”.

Teisen-Simony claims that “Bugatti used the much larger Diatto factory and its capacities as a test facility for his new ideas, such as a hollow front axle in 1920 and racing cars with superchargers in 1921”. He states that the remarkable Bugatti hollow front axle was developed as a collaboration between Bugatti and Coda. He notes that Borgeson also referred to a partnership between Bugatti and Coda in the development of the Deutz Type 8.

Although the source of the information on the alliance between Bugatti and Coda is not given, there is sufficient grounds to accept that Diatto and Bugatti worked closely on a number of projects, including aero engines and the sixteen-valve car. Other tangible evidence of the close association between Bugatti and Diatto is indicated by the similarity between their radiator badges and by their adoption of the term ‘Thoroughbred’ translated as, ‘Pur Sang’ and ‘Puri Sangue’ respectively, to describe their cars. It is not clear to the writer when Ettore first used the ‘Pur Sang’ description; but it has been applied retrospectively to the first Bugatti, his Type 13 of 1909 – ‘Le Petit Pur Sang’. Diatto used ‘Puri Sangue’ to promote the company’s success with their Tipo 30 (Bugatti).

The Diatto radiator badge has an identical form to the Bugatti badge (Massaro)
Diatto’s thoroughbred (Internet Commons)

The Bugatti cast aluminium wheel.

Cast wheels were not a novelty in 1924, and therefore not patentable; nor would the change from iron to aluminium have had patentable merit. Bugattis first patent for his wheel (FR581308), filed on 5 May 1924, was titled Roue à disque à refroidissement ‘cooled disc wheel’, concerning itself with the increased brake cooling provided via skewed spokes. (In production the spokes were parallel).

The Bugatti wheel was distinguished by its integration of the brake drum into the wheel, but this arrangement was not unique as many automotive wire wheels prior to WWI had their spokes laced into the periphery of the brake drum. Malicet et Blin (MaB) were well known for their use of this design and as parts suppliers to the automotive industry this pattern of combined wheel and brake drum appeared on many, mostly French, cars in the early days. Closer to home, Bugatti used this pattern of wheel on his Type 16, the Bébé Peugeot, from 1912 – possibly this influenced his thinking when it came to making an aluminium wheel with an integral brake drum.

The rear wheel of the writers Bebe Peugeot, showing the integration of the brake drum into the wheel (B King)
The original Bugatti aluminium wheel as patented in 1926 in the USA. It shows two rows of six spokes, offset; significantly different to the final product (Ploeg)
Bugatti wheel (Salzman)

Wheel manufacture had played an important part in Diatto’s history; Guglielmo Diatto was a thirty-year-old wheelwright and coachbuilder when he established his eponymous company on the banks of the Po River in Turin in 1835. In 1838 he patented ‘a perfect wheel’. From what can be seen in a photograph of the wheel taken from the patent application, it appears to be a normal metal spoked cart wheel. Was it the use of metal spokes that made it patentable, or was it a pioneering cast wheel?

Guglielmo Diatto’s ‘perfect wheel’ of 1838 (Internet Commons)

Aluminium wheels, Bugatti, Miller or Diatto?

It seems unlikely that Bugatti was influenced by the 1919 Miller design for an aluminium wheel. Miller, strictly, did not patent the design – it was a Model Registration that concerned ‘the ornamental design of a wheel’. The wheel was intended to be used on an innovative racing car known as the T.N.T., but in its one or two track appearances it was fitted with conventional wire wheels.  (Mark Dees, THE MILLER DYNASTY) The model registration did not address any perceived mechanical advantage from a cast wheel. The wheel was six spoked, compared with Ettore’s eight spokes, and there is nothing in the model registration to suggest it used an integral brake drum. It appears that Borgeson, not for the first time, was ‘drawing a long bow’ when he suggested that Miller’s design was the inspiration for Bugatti’s cast aluminium wheel.

In regard to the association between Bugatti and Coda, we are prepared to believe that the Diatto and Bugatti aluminium wheels might have had common antecedents. In the absence of documentation, just who influenced who remains unclear. The presence of Giuseppe Coda in the allegedly contemporary drawing of a Diatto 20S with perforated aluminium wheels does imply his possible involvement in this novelty.

Bugattis original patent described the wheel “as consisting of one, two or several discs, pierced in a manner to give the desired form to the ‘arms’ or spokes”. This description better fits the Diatto wheel than the aluminium wheel as it first appeared on the Type 35 Bugatti at Lyon in 1924. Could this design have arisen from discussion between Coda and Bugatti, or was Bugatti inspired to make his own version having seen the cast wheel designed by Coda? Italian patents relating to the aluminium wheel might be revealing.

A representation of Coda at the wheel of a Diatto 20S with cast aluminium wheels (Massaro)

What is certain is that Ettore Bugatti was the first to produce a practical light alloy wheel for racing and passenger cars – wheels that are now standard on modern cars.

Etcetera…

Aerolite wheels detail construction

More on the Aerolite wheels from Stuart Ulph, owner of the Almack Austin.

“I was completely unaware that a commercial fleet had been equipped with Airlite wheels. My knowledge of these wheels (apart from owning some) was derived from the “Motor Sport” article, so to me they were ‘Aerolite’. They were made by Bramber with, I am pretty sure, Dunlop rims, the rims being steel of course. I had wondered if High Duty Alloys were involved in the supply of materials – just speculation.

Pete Almack refers to them as ‘my patented wheels’. I assumed he was the patent holder  – he held other patents – but a patent search has revealed nothing. Peter also acted in some sort of consulting capacity to the patents board. It has occurred to me that Bramber may have held the patent.

As far as Austin Sevens are concerned, I know that both 15″ and 16″ wheels were made. I had heard that a ‘Motor Show’ Vauxhall 14 was equipped with Pete’s wheels and I have a set of 16″ wheels which were fitted to a BMW 315. Unlike the Austin 7 wheels, these do not have integral brake drums. The BMW wheels have a patent pending number on them as I recall but even this proved of no use to the searcher.

You would think that more of these wheels might turn up, given that Bramber seem to have sold quite a few sets. I telephoned Bramber circa 1980, by which time they had moved to Wales and their major occupation was in producing trailers for Land Rovers. Though interested by the story, by then they had no records or knowledge of the alloy wheels.”

CZ Z13 1.5-litre two stroke (D Ploeg)

And this contribution from Dick Ploeg, “You may also wish to add that the Czechoslovakian firm of CZ (CESKOSLOVENSKA ZBROJOVKA), on their 1931 Z13 racing car they copied the Bugatti alloy wheels, with integral brake drums.

Furthermore there was a French make of aftermarket light alloy wheels available shortly before and after WW2. These were seen, I believe, on Amilcars and Peugeot Darlemats of the period. I have no name available at the moment, but it must be recorded somewhere.”

Credits…

Bob King and his collection, Tony Johns, Mike Costigan, Stuart Ulph, Dick Ploeg, Diatto’ Sergio Massaro, Brockbank and other references quoted in the text

Tailpiece…

Finito…