Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Jack Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm 1963 (J Ellacott)

The airwaves were abuzz last year with the news of Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari.

It seems only yesterday he was the ‘enfant terrible’ giving Mark Webber plenty of stick, a decade or so later, the worm turned for him in the form of Monsieur de Clerc.

Still Seb has been on a motza for a decade or so, resort islands are cheap in the post Covid 19 world, back in ‘the good ole’ days’ the commerce of motor racing was a tad tougher.

(New York Times)
Vettel and Leclerc after a territorial dispute in Brazil 2019

Jack Brabham worked all the angles; he built racing cars with Ron Tauranac, raced cars in F1 via his business Brabham Racing Organisation and raced Coopers for the works and via ‘Ecurie Vitesse’.

Not to forget modified cars via Jack Brabham conversions, columns in magazines which were ghosted for him and the sale of this years car to Australian racers at the end of each summer; the Cooper T40 Bristol in 1955, Cooper T39 Bobtail in 1956, Cooper T41 Climax FWB in 1957 and lordy knows how many T45/51/53s from 1958 onwards.

By the Australian summer of 1962/3, he and Tauranac had built and raced their first F1 Brabham, the BT3 Coventry Climax FWMV V8 from the middle ’62 season. They constructed a Coventry Climax FPF engined variant of that spaceframe design for ‘Intercontinental’ use designated the BT4.

Jack took the first of these machines to Australia for the 1962 AGP at Caversham, outside Perth. He was looking good for a win after a furious dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 when he tangled with Arnold Glass’ BRM P25 Buick V8, Bruce bagged a nice win.

Not to worry, the car made a good impression on the local hotshots, many of whom had bought Coopers from him, or via him. There were the NZ Internationals to contest and several races in Australia in those immediate pre-Tasman Cup years.

Jack started from the front row of the NZ GP at Pukekohe but cooked a head gasket after only 12 laps- John Surtees’ Lola T4A Climax won. He won at Levin from Tony Maggs and Innes Ireland who were Lola T4 Climax and Ferguson P99 Climax mounted. On the Wigram FNZAF Airfield Bruce McLaren won in the Cooper T62, at Teretonga Bruce won again, with Jack fourth albeit he took the lap record- Maggs and Ireland were again second and third.

While the racing was going on so too was the commerce. David McKay purchased Jack’s BT4 after Teretonga, Bib Stillwell ordered one too which was entered at Warwick Farm. A replacement car was air-freighted to Jack for the Australian races, which in time honoured Brabham fashion he would sell to Lex Davison at the end of the summer.

The Australian Grand Prix was held at Warwick Farm that year on February 10. Brabham BT4s dominated the results sheet; Jack won in his new ‘IC-2-62’, David McKay was fourth in Jack’s ‘old’ ‘IC-1-61’ and Bib Stillwell was fifth in his new ‘IC-3-’62’. Interlopers were Surtees and McLaren – second and third in Lola Mk4A and Cooper T62 respectively.

It wasn’t an easy win for Jack mind you, the ship carrying the new car arrived late so it had to be flown from Melbourne to Sydney, finally arriving late on the Friday night.

As Jack recalled in Doug Nye’s book, instead of Tim Wall having days to prepare the car, he had ten hours. The car was at the Farm early, but lost the first of the early sessions with an electrical short. During second practice, Jack scrubbed in tyres and got the engine running properly, by the end of the day he was happy with the car despite starting from the rear of the grid.

In the race Brabham ‘sliced clean through the field’, then Surtees spun out of the lead on lap 31 of 45, allowing Jack to close right in and slipstream past on Hume Straight into Creek Corner. The resident bugler did his thing and crowd went nuts! (two shots below)

From Sydney, the circus headed north to Brisbane’s Lakeside where Surtees won from Hill, Stillwell and Chris Amon in David McKay’s old Cooper T53. It was one of a series of great performances that summer which saw him scooped up by the Parnell team and taken to Europe.

The teams then had a two week break to prepare the cars and transport them to Melbourne and across Bass Straight for the South Pacific Championship held over the Labour Day long weekend in early March.

Bruce McLaren won from pole, equally impressive was Bib’s second place only a second adrift of the Kiwi international and then local boy John Youl third in his Cooper T55- both the guys in front of him ran 2.7 FPFs, Youl’s was a 2.5.

Then it was back across Bass Straight for the opening Sandown meeting (above). There Bruce was again on pole from Jack, and won from Maggs and McKay with Jack a DNF engine a lap before the finish.

While Jack did a roaring trade in Brabham BT4s there is little doubt that had there been a Tasman Cup in 1963 Bruce would have won it, a feat he managed in ‘the first McLaren’ – a Cooper T70 – Climax the following year.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, autopics.com, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece…

img_5785

(K Devine)

Brabham’s brand new BT4 Climax during the 1962 AGP weekend at Caversham, ain’t she sweet.

Finito…

(Tony Johns-SLV)

Former Austin 7 racer and Bentley historian Tony Johns is a regular visitor to the Victorian State Library, there, he browses newspapers and magazines for Austin 7 and Bentley history. If he comes upon things of interest in the writer’s realm, which is mostly to do with Bugattis, he kindly forwards them.

We are aware that pioneering Bugatti motorist and racer Jack Day made superchargers, but have not previously seen an image of one, let alone the object itself. This despite having owned two of the cars that were one-time fitted with JADAY blowers. We knew that they were of a Roots pattern, but little more, other than that Jack made them in his Ajax Pump factory in South Melbourne.

The cover of The Car magazine for October, 1932 above shows the JADAY supercharger in all its glory, as well as its side-draft Solex carburettor, bolted directly to the blower.

Just call M 2425 and ask for Jack and you can have one for 22 pounds, 10 shillings (Tony Johns-SLV)

John Albert Day of Melbourne was a well-known racing car driver in the twenties, thirties and forties.

Like so many others of the period, he had success on push bikes before taking to four wheels. His first job had been delivering hats on a bicycle when he was 10 years old – suggesting an early entrepreneurial bent. It is not known whether he was related to Syd Day, a pioneering motorist who competed in the Sydney to Melbourne Dunlop Reliability trial of 1905.

Our first record of him in a motoring event is in 1923 when he drove a 2.3-litre SCAT in a Hill Driving Contest at Greensborough. In 1924 he drove a 1100cc Salmson at Malpas Hill, 17 miles North of Melbourne. This event famously crossed the Hume Highway; traffic being stopped for each run.

At a later Malpas hill climb he drove an Alvis which was also driven in the ladies contest by L. Day. Mrs Day took part in the 1927 Alpine trial in a Riley ‘9’.

Jack Day at the wheel of his Type 37, 37145 (Bob King Collection)

His first appearance in a Bugatti was in May 1927 when he ran at rural, and nor urban Melbourne, Wheelers Hill.

His 11/2 litre unsupercharged Type 37, chassis number 37145, had been delivered new to Melbourne less than a year before, having been sold via the Bugatti agent Sporting Cars to one of its directors T.E. Barnett for his son Dudley. Later that year the car was owned by Lyster Jackson who, plagued by misfiring, was all too ready to on-sell it. According to Jack in a recorded interview, he bought it when Lyster and he were contesting a hill climb at Lorne as part of the Victorian Light Car Club’s Dependability Trial in October, 1926.

Jack: “Lyster revved and revved and revved, on only about 11/2 cylinders, and I said to him: ‘That will never get up the hill’ and he said, ‘I’ll beat you up.’ So, I had a big-port Alvis, and of course I took the hillclimb away from him”. Lyster said he would sell it and Jack “bought it on the spot.” Jack cured the misfiring by making “special KLG’s” in which he removed the negative electrode, substituting it with platinum “only the thickness of a pin.”

37145 when owned by Dudley Barnett as a new car (Bob King Collection)

Jack entered his now reliable Bugatti in the 1928 100 mile AGP at Phillip Island. He was one of the favourites for the race having won a half mile speed trial in lieu of the rain-postponed race at 84mph.

Unfortunately, early in the race he lost his way in the dust, shooting through a fence and taking considerable time to regain the track. Although noted to be travelling at great speed, he would have been disappointed to finish in sixth place, some 10 minutes behind the winning Austin ‘7’ of Arthur Waite.

A clear demonstration of the dust encountered during the 1928 AGP at Phillip Island – was this the moment Jack ‘lost his way’ (Bob King Collection)

Seeking improved performance, in late 1931, Jack supercharged it with a JADAY supercharger driven from the nose of the crankshaft by a shaft that protruded through the lower part of the radiator.

We have not seen a photograph of this installation, but the blower must have been supported between the dumb irons; the radiator having a piece cut out of the bottom of the core through which the drive-shaft passed.

This radiator with a patch over the blower drive-shaft hole, subsequently found its way on to its sister Type 37,37146, subsequently leading to misidentification of these consecutively numbered cars.

Post-war sister car 37146 was campaigned vigorously by Herb Ford. In this shot taken at Rob Roy, the blower drive cut-out in the radiator can be seen – the radiator had been swapped from 37145 (Bob King Collection)

Jack’s second foray into Bugatti supercharging was with the 1931 Australian Grand Prix winning Type 39, 4607 which he bought in 1933.

The Type 39 was a 1 1/2 litre, normally aspirated straight-eight. He again drove the supercharger from the nose of the crankshaft by means of a long, tapered extension. This shaft remains in the care of the writer – it is his favourite large punch. Jack was not known for his finesse, and this is corroborated by the finish of said shaft, the forward end of which is crudely hack-sawed most of the way through, the last part being snapped-off, leaving a ragged end.

We are unaware of what modifications may have been made to the radiator as this item disappeared after many years fitted to a Brescia Bugatti in lieu of its normal pear-shaped radiator. As the JADAY blown Type 37 and 39 seemed to see very little service, it might be concluded that the modifications were not entirely satisfactory. Could Jack have miscalculated the volume of the necessarily long inlet tract, leading to an unsatisfactory performance?

Day at Phillip Island for the Jubilee Handicap, May 6, 1935 in the Type 39 (Bob King Collection)

As to other JADAY supercharger installations, we have little knowledge. It is possible that one of Jack’s superchargers was fitted to his AL3 Lombard, and it is rumoured that he was involved with the Cozette supercharging of another Lombard AL3 then owned by W.H. Lowe who was the importer of these delightful, petite, 1100cc twin-cam cars.

The patterns for the beautiful finned inlet manifold of this car were certainly of local manufacture – they survived until relatively recent times. Lowe later made his name as the first licenced Ferrari agent outside Italy.

Bill Lowe in his Lombard at Rob Roy just one week after the Black Friday Bushfires, January 30, 1939 (Spencer Wills)

One last twist in the tail of JADAY superchargers brings us to the early post-war WWII years. Jack Day and Norman Hamilton, also a racing driver and a subsequent Porsche importer, investigated the possibility of adapting their turbine technology for one of the worlds great engineering projects, the nascent Snowy Mountain scheme.

With this in mind, Norman and Jack visited Switzerland to study hydro-electric schemes in 1951. During the course of this visit, Norman’s rented Oldsmobile was rounded up by a low slung, silver missile on the Grossglockner Pass. They came upon car and driver; racing driver and motoring journalist Richard von Frankenberg and his car, a prototype Porsche further up the road at an Inn.

After discussion and inspection of the car, the entrepreneurial Hamilton followed Von Frankenberg back through the Alps to the factory. After a tour of the facilities and a meeting with Ferry Porsche, Hamilton walked away with a hand-shake deal for the Porsche commercial rights in Australia and New Zealand. This led to Hamilton’s being only the second foreign Porsche agents outside Germany (Max Hoffman in the US was the first), somewhat in synchrony with the history of Lowe’s Ferrari dealership.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton, Porsche 356 Coupe, prior to the 1953 Redex Trial (PCA)

This was not, however, the end of the Jack Day story. His next modification to the Type 39 Bugatti was much more radical – he removed the fragile Bugatti engine, substituting it with a Ford V8, the first of many Australian specials thus powered.

The success of this car pioneered the ‘quick-fix’ for tired European racing cars – take out the sophisticated aluminium and steel machinery and substitute American black iron.

Jack and his collaborator Reg Nutt had many successes with the car in this form, including ftd at Mitcham and Rob Roy hill climbs (Day). Post-war the car went on many more successes in the hands of the legendary Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray.

Meanwhile Day reverted to his passion for complicated European machines, importing one of the 1927 Grand Prix Talbot Darracq (a 1500cc straight eight supercharged jewel) in which he shared driving duties with Reg Nutt.

(Bob King Collection)

The Day Special mocked up during the construction phase.

(Bob King Collection)

The ‘Day’ was often driven by Reg Nutt. Here he is seen in action at Lobethal during 1938 South Australian Grand Prix.

(unattributed )

Jack Murray is seen here, on the inside, battling it out with Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol in the Day Special at Mount Druitt.

(Bob King Collection)

Reg Nutt aboard the Talbot Darracq TD700 at Fishermans Bend.

(unattributed)

Jack , in his later years in his Jaguar XK120. He was a founding member of the Victorian Light Car Club (later LCCA), and a life member of the RACV. He died in 1975, aged 86.

Credits…

Bob King and his archive, Tony Johns and his archive, Spencer Wills, Porsche Cars Australia

Finito…

(De Lespinay Collection)

Jack Brabham and John Cooper’s attack on the 1961 Indianapolis 500 took place on May 30, 1961. Lordy, that’s 60 years ago this weekend.

The story of their initial testing sortie in October 1960 in a GP T53, and Brabham’s problem-plagued ninth place in the race has been well told, not least in my piece in this week’s Auto Action #1811 https://autoaction.com.au/issues/auto-action-1811

Noddy Grohman giving the car a birthday after its qualifying run. Note the Dunlop wheels and tyres, more substantial roll-bar than the F1 equivalent, and big fuel tank on the left side (De Lespinay Collection)

David Friedman’s rare body-off shot shows the T54’s offset secrets- suspension, engine and gearbox, fuel tanks and driver. Transaxle is Cooper Knight C5S but with three, rather than the five speeds of the F1 spec ‘box (D Friedman)
Cooper receiving some Bear service before qualifying in May (De Lespinay Collection)

After the race, the star of the show was shipped back to the UK for a demonstration run at Silverstone, and then back to the car-owner, Jim Kimberly in the US. The Kleenex heir funded Cooper’s 500 attack.

The T54 at an SCCA Divisional meeting, Hillsborough, US in June 11, 1962. “Just after Kjell Qvale purchased the car…the Kimberly Cooper Spl lettering has been removed…at tis point the car had no engine, gearbox or driveshafts…(R Spencer)

Kimberley ordered two cars from Mickey Thompson for his ’63 Indy campaign, Kimberley sold 61-S-01, which had been on display in the Indy Museum for a little while, to Kjell Qvale, operator of British Motors in San Francisco.

Joe Huffaker, prominent engineer, suggested fitment of an Offy 4.2-litre DOHC, four-cylinder engine to the T54, this combination was potentially a race winning one.

Qvale sold Aston Martin amongst the suite of marques his British Motor Cars Ltd sold in San Francisco. He substituted the big, long, heavy – and as it turned out reliable but not powerful enough – Aston DOHC-six for the far more compact and suitable Offy four.

Joe Huffaker and Kjell Qvale with Cooper T54 Aston Martin in 1963, it looks pretty sleek from this angle (De Lespinay Collection)
Joe Huffaker contemplates the Aston Martin six, bulk, length and height. Chassis lengthened to accommodate it (De Lespinay Collection)
Rodriguez, T54 and crew for the obligatory Indy portrait shot (IMS)

Initial test laps at Indy by Ralph Liguori showed the Dunlop wheel/Firestone tyres combination was too weak, so cast Halibrands fitted with Firestones were substituted.

Later despite the best efforts of fizzy, fast Pedro Rodriguez at the wheel, the ungainly-looking car failed to make the qualifying cut.

The Cooper was the fastest thing through the corners, besting even the Clark and Gurney (Dunlop wheels and tyres) Lotus 29 Fords. The AM engine simply lacked the puff the company had promoted, Rodriguez’ qualifying speed was only 2mph than Brabham’s two years before despite better tyres.

The engine was returned to Newport-Pagnell, while the T54 was sold to a San Jose, California club-racer.

The photograph below shows the largely unmodified chassis, albeit fitted with a beefy roll-cage and nerf-bars for sprintcar use on the paved tracks of the northwest.

(De Lespinay Collection)

By 1966 T54 had changed hands a number of times. It was raced with a Maserati engine at Trenton and Phoenix, then Buick, Ford and Chev V8s in quick succession.

By 1976 the Cooper had morphed into a bizarre Chev-powered mid-engined sprintcar raced by Darryl Lopeman.

Cooper T54 Chev (De Lespinay Collection)

Under that mountain of sinful-ugliness (ya gotta admire the guys’s innovation however), “are the original chassis and suspension, brakes, shock absorbers, pedal-cluster, radiator, oil tank, dashboard, seat and plenty of other bits” wrote Phillippe de Lespinay, saviour and restorer of the car.

The car was crashed through a wooden wall at Spanaway Raceway, Washington due to a stuck throttle. While Lopeman was ok, the nose and both rear, magnesium uprights were damaged.

(De Lespinay Collection)
(De Lespinay Collection)

The T54 “reappeared in 1990 as a bad wreck” in Tacoma Washington, its main components were the basis of the rear-engined sprint car.

The remains of both (the wreck and sprint car) were bought by De Lespinay in partnership with Robert Arnold. The car was then rebuilt, including the original 2.7 Climax FPF, by De Lespinay, Thomas Beauchamp and Gene Crowe aided by detailed photographs taken in period, and provided by David Friedman, some of which are included within this article.

T54 parts acquired by De Lespinay (De Lespinay)
Brabham with T54 chassis in 1991, ample hole in 2.7 FPF block clear (De Lespinay)

The chassis survived “inside another car”, the engine parts were tracked down in Texas and in Colarado. The block was welded by renowned Indy engineer Quincy Epperly, then rebuilt by Gene Crowe at Steve Jennings Race Engines in California.

As much as possible of the original car was used. An indication of this is shown by the shot of the machine during its rebuild in California during March 1991 – with Jack Brabham inspecting progress – it was ready for Brabham to drive at the Monterey Historics six-months later.

After the best part of a quarter-century of ownership Lespinay sold the car five years ago, many of you will have seen it demonstrated in the US, the UK or the Gold Coast.

Brabham and Cooper reunited at the Monterey Historics (De Lespinay)

Etcetera…

(De Lespinay Collection)

Smiles, and relief all round. Jack has made the cut, Cooper and Rodger Ward – who had cajoled and bullied, in a caring kinda way, Cooper and Brabham into doing the initial Indy test in October 1960 – all looking happy with a hard won time. Look at that crowd.

Front suspension detail, upper and lower wishbones each side – but offset to the left. Adjustable Armstrong shock and coil springs. Oil tank aft of radiator, Alford and Alder upright just visible, so too the Cooper steering rack and roll bar.

Note fuel filler cap, fuel tank above the drivers knees and big soft crash-pad attached to steering wheel hub.

Just don’t think too hard about a very high speed frontal collision…

(B Tronolone)

Charlie and John Cooper taking in the Indy vibe.

A decade before they were knocking out Cooper Type 15 and 16s as fast as they could build them. Ten years later they had a couple of World Championships in their pockets, and the rest.

Who knows, if the planets had been aligned, shod with Firestone tyres and a trouble-free run they may have bagged Indy in ’61 too.

Fortune favours the brave. That, they most certainly were.

Jim Kimberley leaning in at left, Cooper up. Pit stop practice

(S Dalton Collection)

Beautiful portrait of Brabham and his F1 Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 FPF during the October 5-6 1960 initial test session at Indy.

Credits…

Phillippe de Lespinay’s tsrfcars.com website and Cooper T54 Facebook page

Time-Life, David Friedman, Roy Spencer, Bob Tronolone, Car and Driver, Stephen Dalton Collection, Grid

Tailpiece…

(Life)

What it was all about really.

Beating a great big car with a little itty-bitty-one. John Cooper in the T54 being pushed away from Rodger Ward’s Watson-Offy roadster after practicing some pitstops

Finito…

Lance Reventlow front and centre with foot on the tyre. Scarab, Monaco 1960

Timing is everything in life, innit-like?

Love the Aston Martin DBR4 and Scarab as I do, they both missed the boat as new front-engined racing cars in the brave-new mid-engined GP world.

Lance Reventlow’s Scarabs really were crazy brave, but I guess you can be so, when money is no object. The Scarabs were beautifully designed, built and finished.

What is not to like about the slinky body, spaceframe chassis, bespoke four-cylinder 2.5-litre, desmodromic-valved, fuel-injected engine and four-wheel discs? The Corvette four-speed gearbox was a bit butch and last-minute in a GP car. See here for a piece on Scarab; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/27/chucks-t-bird/ This article is pictorial, making use of some great shots which have lobbed on the internet thingy recently.

Reventlow, and Daigh behind during Monaco practice. Cooper T51 Climax is Roy Salvadori in Tommy Atkins’ car, DNF
Reventlow about to be swallowed by Innes Ireland’s Walker-Lotus 18 Climax. The sheer economy of the Lotus says it all in terms of the front-engined-packaging-challenge. Arguably the Lotus 16 did this best albeit its results don’t suggest that…
Scarab 2.5-litre, DOHC, desmo two-valve fuel-injected four. Note canting to keep the bonnet line low

Had Reventlow and team-driver Chuck Daigh lobbed on the Monaco GP grid in May 1958, rather than 1960, things may have been a bit different. Still, the team were there adding welcome variety.

The degree of difficulty couldn’t be higher. New car, new team, two drivers who had not raced at Monaco before – or contested a championship GP for that matter.

Colin Chapman, late to the mid-engined party himself, had upped the ante with his new Lotus 18, taking the Coopers-concept and running with it.

The 18 was the car of 1960, only it’s ‘Queerbox’ transaxle let it down. John Cooper’s/Owen Maddock’s/Jack Brabham’s ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 wasn’t too shabby either. It was a much more reliable device than the Lotus, not the least of its improvements was the Cooper-Knight C5S transaxle. Wouldn’t ole-Chappers have liked to have gotten his hands on a couple of those!

Reventlow with a bit of push, as the Americans like to call understeer. A bit of Phil Hill’s Ferrari Dino 246 following
The boss gets his hands dirty, Reventlow attacks the front suspension. Photos show plenty of understeer, perhaps that is the focus. Upper and lower front wishbones
Moss readies himself for a run in Reventlow’s chassis. Note Goodyear tyre and Halibrand wheel. IRS by upper and lower wishbones. Lance watches with paternal interest from alongside Daigh’s car. Quality of workmanship and finish clear

It was no surprise that the Scarabs were slugs.

“Just to see if it was the cars or drivers, Reventlow let Moss try one. He did 1min 45sec, which equalled Jimmy Clark’s time with the Lotus 18 FJunior, so the answer to the Scarab trouble was cars and drivers. However, there were other factors, such as first time out, first attempt at anything so exacting as Monaco, and the simple fact that their Goodyear tyres are not as good as the Dunlops tyres”, Denis Jenkinson wrote in his Monaco GP race-report.

Moss’ pole in the Rob Walker Lotus 18 was 1min 36.3sec.

Jenkinson mused about what may have been possible, “A set of Dunlops would certainly have given Moss 1min 43sec. If it had been his own car and fitted him properly he would have done 1min 42sec, and if he had been trying he would have got down to 1min 41sec, and if starting money had been involved he would have got down to 1min 40sec, which would have been a reasonable time for a new car to new conditions.”

Moss won the 100 lap, 314km race in 2:53.45 in his Lotus 18 from the similarly 2.5-Climax FPF powered Cooper T53 of Bruce McLaren with the best of the front-engines, Phil Hill’s Ferrari 246. The Scarabs didn’t make the qualifying cut, together with six others.

Reventlow from the Brian Naylor’s JBW-Maserati 250S during practice, both DNQ

Etcetera…

Reventlow, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at Monaco 1960. Man, didn’t he give it – sportscars and single-seaters – a red-hot go!

After Monaco, Scarab entered the Dutch GP in the Zandvoort dunes but didn’t race after a start-money dispute.

A pity as the fast flowing course would have given the team a better chance to optimise the car’s suspension before the flat-out challenges of Spa where lack of punch was always going to be problematic.

Chuck Daigh gives Jo Bonnier a lift back to the Spa pits
Daigh pushing hard thru Eau Rouge, hiking the inside-right

Reventlow qualified sixteenth and Daigh eighteenth (of 19) but both were out with engine problems after one lap and 16 laps respectively. Brabham’s Cooper T53 won the most-gruesome of GPs.

The final appearance of the Scarab in 1960 was at home in California, the US Grand Prix at Riverside in November.

There, finally, Chuck Daigh finished in tenth place, albeit five laps adrift of the winning Moss Lotus 18.

The last Scarab European hurrah were races at Silverstone, and here in a Goodwood Intercontinental Formula race in April 1961.

Daigh started his Offy powered chassis, 01, last on a grid of nine, finishing the 20-lap Lavant Cup eighth. Moss won in a Walker Cooper T53 Climax.

Daigh, Scarab- Offy 3-litre, Goodwood, April 1961

Wonderful colour butt-shot of the two Scarabs in the Spa paddock – #30 is Daigh – during the 1960 Ardennes Forest carnival of speed.

Note the offset to allow the driveshaft to pass alongside the driver’s left to keep his bulk nice and low.

Rear mounted fuel tank, big-comfy cockpit and beefy roll-bar for the period. The Scarab pilots wore a seat-belt.

Credits…

Don Orosco Collection, Denis Jenkinson in MotorSport

Tailpiece…

Daigh, Spa 1960

Chuck Daigh, Spa 1960. He did enough to be given some opportunities in a more current car.

In Australia he raced the mid-engined Scarab RE Oldsmobile in the 1962 Sandown International, impressing all who watched his professionalism amongst the Reventlow/Jill St John sideshow with which the local press were fixated.

Finito…

(L Hemer)

Kevin Bartlett, Lola T300 leads the ‘Angus & Coote Trophy’ from John McCormack, Elfin MR5 Repco, Oran Park 1972…

Allan Horsley, the promoter of Oran Park Raceway in Sydney’s outer west, was an energetic, creative guy. Even though this event wasn’t a Gold Star Championship round he attracted a good field of F5000’s to drag in the punters. The Angus & Coote Trophy was provided by a retail chain of jewellers.

The 500bhp V8 roller-skates were spectacular at the (then) short circuit, with Lynton Hemer there to capture the action, his wonderful photos are the inspiration for this article.

Interesting bunch of three Elfin MR5 Repco shots, this one of John Walker with the just visible Max Stewart up his clacker and Garrie Cooper’s works MR5 at rear. Four MR5’s were built, the Ansett Team Elfin cars of Cooper and McCormack and customer cars for Walker and Stewart, all were built to identical specifications fitted with Repco Holden F5000 engines. Walker’s car has the aero as the cars were first built, the Cooper and McCormack (shot below) cars have the ‘Tyrrell nose’ first fitted from the ’72 Warwick Farm Tasman round. Garrie has an airbox fitted, Mac does not. JW, an Elfin man through and through didn’t race the MR5 for long though, he jumped into an A50 Matich which complied with the American regss – the Elfin did not- John did some L&M rounds in the A50. Walker, Matich, Muir, Stewart and Bartlett all competed in the US in 1973 (L Hemer)

McCormack from Muir’s T300. J Mac got quicker and quicker didn’t he? Of the four MR5s, this chassis 5711 was the most successful- ’73 Gold Star and NZ GP win etc. It was a triumph of driving and Mac and Dale Koenneke’s development of what was not the most advanced F5000 design. Mac was further up the Repco queue once Matich retired (L Hemer)

Walkers MR5 5724  note aero comments above. Blade front wing, Walker developed into a very fast F5000 pilot- ’79 AGP and Gold Star winner, the difference in him pre ’73 L&M and post was significant. Confidence is such a big thing! (L Hemer)

With the exception of Frank Matich and his Matich A50 Repco, Lynton has many fine, close-up shots of the ‘Australian F5000 Class of 1972’- I wonder why FM wasn’t present, he was a Sydney boy after all? The answer is probably that he didn’t bother with this non-championship event on May 21, given the Belle Magazine Trophy Gold Star round was only a month hence, here in June.

By then he was on the way to comprehensively belting the Gold Star opposition- he won at Sandown, Oran Park, Surfers Paradise and Warwick Farm with Kevin Bartlett winning at Adelaide International in his Lola T300, and John McCormack at Symmons Plains aboard his MR5. FM won the Gold Star with 36 points from Bartlett and McCormack on 24 and 20 points respectively.

This lengthy article on Matich and his cars focuses a lot on 1971/2 so is useful context to the Australasian F5000 scene of the time, so have a look rather than repeat myself here; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

McCormack from Bartlett (L Hemer)

John McCormack (above) led from the start of the 25-lap event from Kevin Bartlett and Gary Campbell in Lola T300 Chevs. KB’s was a new chassis (HU16) acquired after the Tasman Series, in which he raced his venerable ex-Niel Allen McLaren M10B.

Gary Campbell, ex-Gardner first production T300 HU1 (L Hemer)

Gary Campbell (above) stepped up from the Waggott 2-litre engined ANF2 Elfin 600B/E he raced in the Australian 1972 Tasman rounds into the T300 (HU1) Frank Gardner raced in the Tasman, Campbell took delivery from the final, Adelaide round.

Gardner had notionally retired from single-seater racing but did an event or two in the UK later in 1972 as he track tested the very first Lola T330 HU1, a car purchased by Max Stewart and oh-so-successful in his hands.

Interesting side profile shot of Bob Muir’s T300 accentuates the relative ride height of the T300 with the T330/2 which followed. The presentation of this car had to be seen to be believed. The T300s were always set up with plenty of ride height, as you can see here, Kevin Bartlett observed “It was to do with the wishbone angles, roll centre, etc. The cars were usually set up very soft as the old F2 tub flexed a lot into the bargain. You could feel the strain when the grip was at its best, which wasn’t too often” (L Hemer)

Bartlett passed McCormack for the lead on lap three, with Muir passing Campbell on the same lap.

Muir became a very fast exponent of F5000, perhaps his best work was in the ’73 L&M rather than at home. Bob’s Reg Papps & Sons prepared T300, chassis HU4- ex-Niel Allen after a practice crash ended Allen’s planned racing comeback, was easily one of the most beautifully presented and prepared racing cars in Australia, visually stunning- I waxed lyrical about it here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/

Muir and KB sluggin it out (L Hemer)

Muir passed Bartlett (above) and ran out the winner from Kevin, John Walker’s Elfin MR5 Repco and Gary Campbell with KB setting a new lap record of 40.2 seconds.

In many ways the story of Australian 1972 F5000 racing- the championship Gold Star Series and non-championship Calder based ‘Repco Birthday Series’ (fiftieth birthday by the way) was FM’s absolute preparedness for the season.

His Matich A50, so named in honour of sponsor, Repco’s fiftieth birthday had won on debut at Warwick Farm’s November 1971 AGP, but then had a disappointing Tasman Series, which he lost to arch-rival Graham McRae’s Leda LT27/GM1 Chev, Graham took four wins to FM’s one.

Frank Matich, Matich A50 Repco from John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco at Surfers Paradise during the 1972 Tasman round, 3rd and DNF in the race won by McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev. Matich won the ’72 Gold Star in the same chassis- A50 ‘001’ (unattributed)

However, Matich was well and truly ready-to-rock at the domestic seasons outset with a very well developed car. Bartlett and Muir were more than capable of giving their fellow Sydneysider a run for his money, but neither had their T300’s early enough to have them honed to the fine pitch Matich had A50 ‘001’.

I suspect Matich did more test miles at Warwick Farm, paid for by Goodyear – he was both a contracted driver and their agent in Australia – than the rest of his fellow F5000 competitors added together. His 1972 results reflected just that.

( L Hemer)

I wonder why Max Stewart (above) raced ye-olde-faithful Mildren Waggott, his ’71 Gold Star winner rather than the Elfin MR5 Repco he had run since the ’72 Tasman?

Maybe the distinctive yellow MR5 wasn’t ready or ‘praps he wanted to give the Mildren Waggott a gallop to showcase its potential to would-be purchasers, Allan Grice bought it shortly thereafter. Maybe he was inspired to do so by Max’s performance at this meeting? In any event this amazing, popular machine was finally outpaced by the post-McLaren M10B series of smaller, lighter F5000’s despite the efforts of its oh-so-talented, lanky pilot.

There are so many shots of the utterly-luvverly Lola T300 in this article it seems smart to expand a bit upon this seminal F5000 machine…

The Lola T190 F5000 wasn’t Lola’s best design but Frank Gardner evolved it into the longer wheelbase, and modified in many other areas T192- and won plenty of races in it in Europe and Australasia.

The car was far from uncompetitive into 1971 too- FG won at Warwick Farm during the Tasman Series, and European F5000 championship races at Silverstone, Mondello Park and Castle Combe. The old racer ran with and beat youngsters such as Brian Redman, Mike Hailwood, McRae and Allan Rollinson.

Gardner on the way to Warwick Farm 100 Tasman victory on 14 February 1971. Lola T192 Chev ‘190/F1/6’ or ‘HU14’- note the winglets aside the cars chassis. WF Esses, car following probably the Matich M10B Repco, brave ‘snapper is Lance Ruting. Car stayed in Oz- sold to Colin Hyams, then to US in 1972  (J Ellacott)

But the laconic racer/engineer wanted something smaller and lighter to stay ahead of the chasing pack, including the new McLaren M18/22, Surtees TS8 and coming Leda GM1.

In a moment of wham-bam-thankyou-maam pragmatic inspiration, he and Lola Engineer, Bob Marston, married the existing Lola T240 F2/Atlanic chassis with a 5-litre Chev and DG300 Hewland transaxle.

The production variant of the prototype became the T300 we F5000 nut-bags know and love. After some testing, the prototype ‘T242’ made its race debut at Thruxton on August 1, 1971.

FG plonked it on pole and finished third behind McRae’s highly developed McLaren M10B, and Hailwood’s works Surtees TS8. It was a statement of intent, the cars performance and looks were the subject of all he paddock chatter that weekend. The queue at Huntingdon started the morning after.

T242 was renamed T300 from the following Silverstone round on August 14, Gardner was again behind Hailwood, this time in second position.

(J Ballantyne)

The photos above show the car in the Snetterton paddock on August 30, 1971.

The chassis was destroyed in an argument over real-estate that very weekend between Gardner, and Redman’s M18 McLaren on lap eight. The T242/300 was badly damaged, rooted in fact – sad as that particular Lola was a very significant one for the company and F5000 as a class.

The key elements of the design- its overall size and packaging, hip-mounted radiators, wedge shape and aerodynamics are all clear.

Lola T300 drawing, poor in quality but useful all the same. Gardner’s prototype machine (Pinterest

Autosport proclaims Gardner/Lola’s ’71 Euro F5000 victory

Gardner raced his replacement car, the first production T300, chassis HU1 (the car he brought to Australia later that year, boofed in practice for the Warwick Farm AGP, was repaired and then contested the ’72 Tasman before sale to Gary Campbell as above) to its first win at Hockenheim on 12 September, in front of Emerson Fittipaldi’s F1 Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney turbine, and Teddy Pilette’s McLaren M10B Chev.

I hope Eric Broadley paid those two fellas, Gardner and Marston a bonus in 1971 because they created, arguably, the first of the most successful and profitable family of production racing cars ever.

Lola built ‘a million’ T300/330/332/332C/332CS/333 cars and spares, those machines won countless F5000 and single-seat Can-Am races in the hands of just as many champions, journeymen and amateur drivers for well over a decade.

(G Ruckert)

The photo above is the business end of Bartlett’s T300 HU16 at Surfers Paradise in 1972, that’s Bartlett’s red driving suit and John Harvey’s purple crutch alongside!

Key elements of the machine are the injected 5-litre 500bhp Chevy V8, note the magneto and fuel metering unit. The rear of the aluminium monocoque chassis is to the right- the car was designed as an F2, it was a bit floppy.

Torsional rigidity was improved with the T330/332 which followed, but these were not machines in which to have a front-in shunt, as Bartlett experienced at Pukekohe aboard his T330 in early 1974. He was an early member of the Lola Limpers Club joining fellow Australasians Graeme Lawrence and Warwick Brown- all three came to grief in T300’s.

The gearbox is of course the ubiquitous Hewland DG300. Originally designed for ‘effete’ F1 engines, the prodigious torque of 5-litre motors made the ‘box marginal. Sticking to maintenance and lifing cycles of gears, dog rings, crown wheel and pinions was critical to avoid DNFs. The Hewland in yer little namby-pamby Formula Ford (Mk9/LD200) or Formula Pacific (FT200) was ‘set and forget’ to an extent, not so in one of these big, heavy muvvers.

The uprights are magnesium, disc brakes inboard at the rear and suspension period typical- single upper links and inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods- you can see one on the right threading the exhaust system. The adjustable rear roll bar is clear as is the engine oil tank to the right of the left exhaust outlet.

A superb, fast, race winning bit of kit in every respect but nowhere near as forgiving, if that is ever a word to be used in the same sentence as F5000- as a McLaren M10B KB notes…

Bartlett, Harvey and T300 from the front. Not sure if this is the ’72 Glynn Scott or ’73 Tasman weekend (G Ruckert)

Etcetera: The T300 and it’s father before the 1971 AGP @ Warwick Farm…

This is a pre-race publicity shot by Fairfax media.

The only trouble was Frank Gardner boofed HU1 in practice so did not start the race- he would have given Frank Matich a run for his money that day given the speed of the T300 in Europe. But ‘ya gotta be in it to win it’, and FG was not that weekend, despite a stellar record of prior success at The Farm.

The car was rebuilt in Oz around a new tub freighted in from Huntingdon, and raced to an NZGP win at Pukekohe, and three second places during the 1972 Tasman before being sold to Campbell, as related earlier, after the Sandown round.

(R Davies)

Speaking of chassis Robert Davies has superbly captured this rare photo of a nude T300 Chev- its the Allen/Muir/Brown ‘HU4’ in the Sandown paddock during 1972.

I won’t repeat the technical summary from above- devoid of bodywork the small light aluminium monocoque and minimal front impact protection is abundantly clear. The only deformable part of a racing car of this period was the body of the driver…

(unattributed)

Far-canal, that really is a mess. Its the same chassis HU4 shown above.

If you thought about the physics involved in a Formula Ford shunt you probably wouldn’t do it, but Jesus the big single-seaters of this period- F1 and F5000 really were lethal devices.

Balls of steel to race them springs to mind.

I don’t usually publish shots of rooted racers but this one had a happy ending- and adds some color and reality to the glib ‘Lola Limper’ line used earlier on.

Young Australian thruster Warwick Brown graduated from the McLaren M10B Chev with which he cut his F5000 racing teeth in 1972, to the ex-Allen/Muir Lola T300 prior to the 1973 Tasman- third at Levin and second at Wigram showed his mettle and immediate pace in a competitive car. It all came undone at Surfers, the first of the Australian Tasman rounds.

His car got away from him on the fast, demanding, circuit spreading bits of aluminium and fibreglass over the grassy undulations of the Nerang countryside and broke both Warwick’s legs. He got wide onto the marbles on the entry to the flat in fifth right-hander under Dunlop Bridge, and bounced across the grass into the dirt embankment surrounding the circuit.

The light aluminium tub folded back, in the process doing horrible things to Warwick’s feet and lower limbs. He had a very long recovery, made somewhat easier by the promise of a new car from his near-neighbour patron, mining millionaire Pat Burke. In that T332 HU27 he won the 1975 Tasman Series, the only Australian ever to do so.

It’s a story for another time but WB had another two Lola ‘big ones’ in the US in a T332C and T333. If there was a President for Life of the Lola Limpers Club I suspect it was Mr Brown.

Balls of steel, and mind over matter…

Click here for a piece on WB; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/

(T Marshall)

The photo above is of WB at Levin only a couple of weeks prior to its Surfers demise.

Terry Marshall has captured the Sydneysider nipping a right-front during the 13 January Levin International. Warwick was third behind McRae’s GM1 and Matich’s A50- two of the toughest of F5000 nuts.

(unattributed)

Calder in 1972- Bob Jane had no Gold Star round that year but did promote the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ for F5000 and ANF2.

By the look of the clothes of the hardy Victorians it is winter’ish- Calder in the Winter is not a particularly pleasant place usually, i’m figuring the October 15 round with the assistance of oldracingcars.com though.

It looks as though Gary Campbell #4, has made a corker of a start and is seeking a way past KB #5 but then again maybe KB got off like a rocket and and Gary is giving him room as KB jinks right for a way past John McCormack’s Ansett Elfin MR5 Repco.

Over by the aptly placed Repco sign is the Repco-Holden F5000 engined Matich A50 #25 of John Walker- perhaps some of you American readers saw JW race this car in several L&M rounds in 1973 so well?

Bartlett won this 30 lapper in a smidge under 21-minutes from Walker and McCormack, then came Stewart, Elfin MR5 Repco and Campbell.

Bartlett won this five round series from Matich and Muir.

L Hemer)

Who would have throughout the T300 as a rally car?

KB negotiates the Warwick Farm paddock during the famously wet 1973 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round, Steve Thompson Chevron B24 Chev won that day.

(unattributed)

The angle on the dangle.

And they are all angles, just the wildest looking thing at the time – even the Lotus 72 looked conservative alongside one of these babies.

Bartlett on the Calder grid alongside Mc Cormack during the 15 Ocober meeting referred to above.

Photo Credits…

Lynton Hemer, John Ballantyne, oldracephotos.com.au, Graham Ruckert, Terry Marshall, Pinterest, John Ellacott, Fairfax Media

References…

oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece: Double T300 Trouble- Muir from Bartlett, Oran Park 1972…

(oldracephotos.com.au/DSimpson))

Finito…

Glyn Scott supervises Leo Geoghegan who is about to have a guest steer of Glyn’s P3 at Oran Park in 1968 (Bowin Cars)

When Bowin founder, John Joyce returned to Australia after a four year stint working for Lotus Components, he built this Bowin – P3-101-68 for Glyn Scott.

Scott raced the 1.6-litre Ford FVA engined car from July 1968 until May 1970, he then ran an Elfin 600 until his untimely, sad death. See here for a story on Glyn; https://primotipo.com/2020/07/24/glyn-scott/

This article is intended to be read in conjunction with my feature about Joyce’s early Bowin years including construction of three P3s published in this fortnight’s Auto Action #1810, published May 6-19, 2021. Click here to buy it; https://autoaction.com.au/issues/auto-action-1810

Editor Bruce Williams will pickle my testicles if I cut-his-lunch. This piece uses extra material relating to Bowin #1 we couldn’t fit in the more general 2,000 word AA piece. Much of the information was provided by Adelaide’s Ian Peters who has owned this marvellous car since 1983.

Merv Waggott engines were very successful in 1969. Glyn Scott had seen first-hand just how potent and reliable they were chasing Max Stewart’s 1.6-litre powered Mildren Waggott, so he ordered a 2-litre TC-4V for his new Elfin 600.

He and Norm Mellor removed the ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA #7044 and FT200 Hewland transaxle from the Bowin and installed them in Glyn’s Lotus 23B. The extra 30bhp or so over and above that of the Lotus-Ford twin-cam fitted to the 23B gave that old beast a useful performance kicker.

P3-101-68 was sold as a roller to Edward Scauster of Annerley, Queensland a fortnight before Glyn’s death – and from him to Wayne Newton in Sydney’s Pennant Hills that October 1970.

Rebuilt as an ANF3 car, he raced it for three years before selling to Taren Points John Crouchley, he raced it for a further two years before moving it on to Burwood Auto Electrics – still in Sydney.

They only hung onto it for a couple of months before P3 became a South Australian in October 1975 – it has resided there ever since. D Manfield of Brooklyn Park raced it for a couple of years, then Home Autotune Services in Prospect from March 1978.

When Ian Peters acquired it the car was fitted with one of Brian Sampson’s Motor Improvements prepared Toyota Corolla F3 engines – one of the top-gun choices during the 1.3-litre F3 days.

P3-101-68 in Burwood Auto Electrics ANF guise (I Peters)
P3-101-68 in Adelaide as purchased by Peters at auction in 1983 (I Peters)

The car wasn’t butchered too much along the way albeit the bodywork was modernised and a rear wing added in the quest for speed.

The nose looks a bit Cheetah Mk6 but is not, the rear wing in its final yellow livery is Birrana 274.

By then the distinctive four-spoke Bowin mag-alloys were gone but “the quality of the car shone through just looking at the beautifully made aluminium tub” recalls Peters after first spotting it amongst the road cars in Kearns Auctions, Prospect, showrooms.

“There was no interest, it needed a lot of work, I bought it well. I didn’t have much money at the time so it was a great project where I could add some value and learn along the way. I’d been club racing a Lotus Elan and a Seven and wanted to get into a racing car.”

“I pulled it down and worked out what I had. The plan was to restore it as an historic Group O car. CAMS were a bit more accommodating then, I was allowed to build it with a Lotus-Ford twin-cam even though P3-101-68 hadn’t raced as such, but Ian Fergusson’s P3 had.”

“It had a four-speed VW box, the wrong wheels and body. The driveshafts with donuts had been replaced by whoofing-big Hooke-type joints. The suspension was original but brutalised, the rear cast uprights were good – the oil tanks were gone and tough to recreate.”

“I got in touch with John Joyce at Bowins, he was delighted the first Bowin was being made-good. I soon had drawings on the way and a body being made by GS Motor Bodies in Brookvale, who had made them in the day. Magnesium technologies cast some new wheels”

“After Glyn’s death, the Lotus 23B, still with Ford FVA fitted, was sold to Alan Ling and Bruce Gowans in Tasmania for Bruce to drive. They later fitted a Waggott engine, in that deal the FVA was traded to Paul England Engineering in Melbourne. My research ended when I discovered the engine had been fitted in a speedboat which sank, the engine was not recovered!”

“The FT200 gearbox was sold at the same time as the engine – it ended up in one of Peter Turnham’s Turnham sporties in Tasmania.”

“I wanted to fit an FVA but they were hugely expensive, so I gradually began buying bits from about 2007, whenever I saw them advertised or had a lead. I sold the MI Corolla motor and bought the Lotus twin-cam from Bob Holden in Sydney. He claimed it was one of his ex-Bathurst engines and had also been fitted in Peter Hopwood’s race-Elan. The head had Waggott stamped on it, so at some stage Merv ministered to it – it was a good engine. I initially fitted Webers and then mechanical fuel-injection later on.”

“The FT200 box was expensive, there was no easy way out there! By early 1984 I had the car ready to test, first racing it at the Sporting Car Club of South Australia’s Historic meeting at Mallala that Easter.”

P3-101-68 as it is now in Peters’ Adelaide workshop with dummy FVA fitted (I Peters)

“The more I got to know the car and Joyce the more absorbed in all things Bowin I became. Ashley Joyce and I put together the (excellent) Bowin Cars website. Included in the detailed specs of each car section, I added ‘ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA #7044’ in the list. You can imagine my surprise when Perth’s Graham Brown contacted me to say he had the motor! After about twelve months of negotiations I bought the engine.”

“I last raced the P3 in an historic support race during the 1989 Adelaide AGP carnival. I hit the wall when a front upright broke doing enough damage to get Chas Talbot in Melbourne to rebuild the tub.”

“By then I’d decided to progress to an ex-Alan Jones Ralt RT4 Ford BDA Formula Pacific car and then a Reynard 91D Holden Formula Holden. That ex-Birrana Racing machine won me two CAMS Silver Stars in 2003 and 2004. I put it to one side forever ago, but have it for sale at the moment.”

“After that is off my plate I’ll complete the rebuild of the P3 to FVA engined spec. It’s currently fitted with a dummy FVA, but all of the hard work is done so it shouldn’t be too long before it’s all done.”

There was only a tiny number of resident 1.6-litre F2 cars which raced in Australia in period. The only one which was victorious in a Gold Star round was P3-101-68, Glyn triumphed at Sandown in September 1968 on a day the 2.5s fell foul of technical dramas.

This car is a magnificent machine, we Bowin-nutters look forward to its return to the circuits soon.

Look carefully, a Bowin racing car is listed! (I Peters)

Credits...

Many thanks to Ian Peters, Bowin Cars

Tailpiece…

Ian Peters, Reynard 91D #028 Holden circa 2002, circuit unknown (I Peters)

Finito…

James Golding during practice at the Phillip Island Gold Star round, Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford, March 2021.

How sweet it is to see these marvellous bellowing beasties – islands in a sea of maxi-taxis. With one round to go at Eastern Creek, Joey Mawson leads Tim Macrow and Thomas Randle.

It’s great to see dual-Gold Star champ Macrow doing so well in Chris Lambden’s car, JS F3 S5000-001, the prototype developed by Borland Engineering, Macrow and Lambden before handover to Garry Rogers Motosport for assembly of subsequent cars.

Officialdom, the Australian Racing Group, the largest shareholder of which is Rogers Motorsport Events Pty Ltd, released a new name for the chassis’ which contest the championship in the last few days, they are Rogers AF01/V8s now apparently. What a load of fuckin’ crap. 

The chassis plates in the cars, affixed by their manufacturer, Onroak-Ligier, read Ligier JS F3-S5000, they are Ford engined. Correctly described, using the time honoured single-seater/sportscar naming convention of make/model/engine manufacturer they are Ligier JS F3-S5000 Fords.

All the mainstream media dickheads cut and polished (perhaps) their press-release and spat it out, without challenge, as usual. One pack of clowns, sydneynewstoday.com, couldn’t even manage to cut and paste the thing accurately, Chris Lambden has become Chris Ramden, perhaps he has become a citizen of Wuhan, tourist hot-spot that it is.

GRM are ‘garagiste’ as ole-man Enzo would have said. They assemble the cars using components made by others overseas and locally. Still they own the category, they can do what they like.

Ignore the GRM chassis plates in the wonderful car’s cockpits I say. See here for my piece on the machine’s development, ‘97.5%’ of which was substantively completed before GRM were selected/won the pitch to assemble the things two years ago; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

Three or thereabouts of the $A350,000 machines have been sold, the rest are owned by a Rogers entity.

I wonder what those owners (Messrs Lambden, Callegher and Wilmington) think of the name change? Perhaps they don’t give a rats, the main-game is commercial success after all. Maybe it’s only toss-pots like me who find the ego-trip offensive, and not reflective of the efforts of Lambden, Borland and his colleagues at Borland Engineering, and Macrow long before GRM sniffed a dollar in the breeze.

Don’t get me wrong, bless GRM for getting involved, no-one is a bigger fan of the Ligier JS F3-S5000 Fords than me…

David Finch’s Jaguar D Type, XKD520, circa 1960 anybody know the locale of the ex-Stillwell/Gardner car.

See here for a comprehensive piece on this car; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

Sensational car Jack! John Surtees gives Jack Brabham his perspective on the BT19 Repco Brabham drove to the F1 World Championship in 1966.

Big John is in the Sandown pitlane in 1982, the Honda V12 he was supposed to be driving misbehaved so Repco gave him a steer of BT19. Feature on this marvellous car here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

This time Jack aboard BT19 in-period at Longford in March 1966. Reg Thompson is at the ready with helmet.

It was the third race for the Repco RBE620 V8- the South African GP with 3-litre engine fitted was the first, and the Sandown Tasman round the weekend before, where a 2.5-litre engine was used preceded Longford.

At Kyalami the fuel injection metering unit drive failed, and at Sandown an oil pump. The car finished Longford but adrift of the BRM P261s of Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill.

Importantly, this valuable testing meant the engine was ready to boogie by the time the first championship F1 race of the year took place at Monaco in May.

Alf Barrett’s Alfa Monza in the Mount Panorama pits during the 1947 weekend.

In the Bathurst 100 feature race, he was the scratch-marker and was outted with valve-insert troubles.

The shot is all about people. Alf Barrett is sitting behind his car in the bright, white open shirt. Checkout the white-suited car salesman with natty shoes at right, and interested spectators. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/20/alf-barrett-the-maestro-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

The grid before the start of the November 1983 AGP at Calder.

Alf Costanzo’s Tiga FA81 is an island in a sea of Formula Pacific Ralt RT4 Ford BDAs. #19 is race-winner Roberto Moreno, John Smith and obscured Alan Jones are on row two and Paul Radisich and Jacques Laffitte in the read car on row three. And the rest.

It was a heart-breaker of a race for Alfie and the crowd, he was leading, and looked to have the race under control when the diff in his Hewland Mk 9 gearbox failed after completing 25 laps. Moreno won from Smith, Laffitte and Geoff Brabham, all aboard Ralt RT4s.

David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 3.4-litre completes another lap at Gnoo Blas in 1960.

He won the lap race from Bill Pitt’s Mk1 3.4 and Ron Hodgson’s Mk1 3.8 it was the second Australian Touring Car Championship, the first was won by Tom Brady’s Singer Bantam at Lobethal way back in January 1939. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

Wally Willmott sets to work on a pair of 58DCO Webers during the 1965 Tasman Cup.

They belong to a Coventry Climax 2.5-litre FPF engine fitted to Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T79. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/

Holdens pretty much as far as the eye can see – what was it? ‘football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’. The Paris end, as we Mexicans call it, of Collins Street, Melbourne in 1959.

That particular vista is much the same now, inclusive of parking dramas albeit the cars of course are more likely a mix of Asian buzz-boxes and top-end Europeans.

Le Mans start for the touring car feature race at Longford in 1965.

There was a twist on it in that the mechanics were doing the sprint and handing the keys to the driver. The smart boys, all of them no doubt, had spare keys…

Sir Gawaine Baillie up front in his 7-litre Ford Galaxie with Allan Moffat’s ex-works Lotus Cortina alongside. Who won folks?

Les Pound in a DFP pounding (sorry) up Wheelers Hill, at Mulgrave in Melbourne’s outer east circa 1928. He contested the 1928 AGP in this car at Phillip Island, finishing thirteenth and last.

Its funny how stuff happens sometimes.

Bob King and I were returning from a car club run on Sunday 22, March. Bob commented to me as we went up this road – or rather now dual lane 80kmh carriageway, that in the days of yore there was a hill-climb straight up this very hill. I’d heard of a climb at Mitcham, close-by but not Wheelers Hill. Then, bugger-me-ded if another of our mates, Tony Johns, circulated this photo on Monday 23, March!

Niel Allen’s E-Type in Warwick Farm’s Esses during Saturday practice over the June 6, 1964 weekend.

“First time out for Niel in the E at Warwick Farm. In practice he was second fastest with a lap of 1:57.7. On Sunday raceday in the wet he was sixth (last)! As the rain started to stop and the rack dried out he went from the first lap of 2:37.0 to a best time, and fastest race lap with 2:06.3 in the five lapper. He ran the E four more times at Warwick Farm in 1964/5 finishing third, three times, and second once with a best lap of 1:51.6” wrote Paul Cummins.

Frank Matich lines up Big Bertha before pulverising the opposition one more time in 1969.

His 4.8-litre SR4 V8 was designed for, and missed the 1968 Can-Am Cup, instead he used this sledgehammer to crush the nut which was the local sportscar scene at the time. See here for a feature on the car; https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

“Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble”, the three supernatural witches in Macbeth chanted.

More Merlin the Magician, Merv Waggott at right, pours molten aluminium alloy into patterns for a batch of Waggott TC-4V 2-litre DOHC fuel injected engines circa 1970.

Pretty much all of these engines were made on-site in his little Greenacre, Sydney workshop. The small foundry was out the back. Do any of you have recollections of the build or racing of these championship winning engines? A bit about Merv here; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

I was snooping around the bowels of Duttons after a lunch a few weeks ago and came upon George Nakas’ car.

This Ligier JS P320 Nissan LMP3 is absolutely brand spankers, having completed only six delivery laps at Magny Cours before shipping to Port Melbourne.

The chassis and body are HP Composites carbon built. It’s 4605mm long, 1900mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2860mm, weight is 950Kg.

Suspension is double-wishbones front and rear with pushrods actuating coil spring/Ohlins TTX40 shocks, adjustable roll-bars are of course part of the mix.

Gearbox is a six-speed Xtrac 1152, it uses a Megaline semi-automatic pneumatic steering wheel paddle-shift.

The engine is a Nissan VK56 5.6-litre, limited to 460bhp V8, gearbox and engine control units are Magneti-Marelli. Brakes are Brembo six-piston calipers clamping 14-inch steel rotors.

I bumped into George Nakas at Duttons yesterday (Friday April 23), he and his team are testing the car for the first time at Tailem Bend over the next few days.

Brand new cars of a different sort.

Holden EJ sedans on the Dandenong, Melbourne production line having final quality checks in 1962.

Back when we had an industry before a troika of fuckwits destroyed it; politicians, management (sic) and organised (sic) labour.

Beautiful drawing of the Lobethal circuit, by Oscar ‘Ozpata’ who frequents a Nostalgia Forum thread.

See here for the lowdown on Lobe; https://primotipo.com/2018/11/08/the-spook-the-baron-and-the-1938-south-australian-gp-lobethal/

Here’s hoping for a win from Daniel Ricciardo this year.

Testing his new McLaren MCL35M Mercedes, a modified version of the 2020 car, at the season’s outset. Since drafting this, Lando Norris has been going very well…

img_4787

Love these two arty-farty shots from Lynton Hemer at Warwick Farm in 1971.

Alan Hamilton in his Porsche 906 Spyder during the Ninth RAC Trophy May 2, weekend, the race won by John Harvey in Bob Jane’s McLaren M6B Repco V8.

Click here for a feature on Hamilton’s racing Porsches; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

The fantastic aspect spectators have at Baskerville, Tasmania is shown from this panoramic shot taken at the circuit’s first meeting on the February 9, 1958 meeting.

The shot below is Jim Lamont sitting aboard his 1949 Ford Anglia soft-top, with Greg and Harold Ellis in attendance.

img_4812
(S Lamont)

John Joyce’s Bowin Designs are best known for the fifty-six FF, F2 and F5000 open-wheelers built in Brookvale, Sydney between 1968 and 1975.

Such was the reputation of the outfit that Pete Geoghegan, Brian Foley and others sought Bowin’s design and fabrication capabilities to make their touring-cars go quicker.

Pete Geoghegan had extracted all on offer from his elderly Ford Mustang 302 by the end of 1971.

He then turned to his FoMoCo built GTHO 351 Super Falcon but knew it needed work to have any hope of giving chase during the final improved-tourer 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship.

img_4903
(Bowin)
img_4905

The car was lightened, stiffened by seam welding and addition of an integral roll-cage, and the suspension geometry improved front and rear. Bowin Design Project #7 design-drawings, on the Bowin Cars website, show you drawings of all of the work performed.

The car was good enough to win the ‘greatest ever Oz touring-car race’ at Mount Panorama over the Easter 1972 long-weekend when Pete triumphed over Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans Am in a race-long duel. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/15/greatest-ever-australian-touring-car-championship-race-bathurst-easter-1972/

Celebration of construction of the 500,000th Holden, delivered to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1958.

Credits…

s5000.com, Troy Davey-Milne, John Smith, National Archives of Australia, The Tasmanian Motorist, Tony Johns Collection, Lance Ruting, ozpata, McLaren, Ray Simpson-Cummins Archive, Nat French, Slim Lamont, Kelsey Collection

Tailpiece…

Missed by that much!

Thanks goodness the 911S was spared, and the paper-boy I guess. It’s all happening in Greville Street, Prahran, Melbourne, circa 1980.

Finito…

Alan Jones with his Teddy Yip Ralt RT1 Ford BDA, Macau 1977 (S Weaver)

Sue Weaver worked inside motor racing for decades. In the process she developed a friendship with Teddy Yip which yielded many fun times and trips to the Portuguese colony on China’s doorstep.

On each of those trips she took a swag of photographs. This article features some of them, an ‘Australian contingent mix’, with a focus on the November 20, 1977 weekend.

The Formula Atlantic race was won by young thruster, Riccardo Patrese in the Chevron B40 Ford later purchased and raced with success by Kiwi legend Ken Smith- later still Adelaide’s Peter Whelan restored it, historic-raced it for some years before its acquisition as a Macau Museum exhibit.

Riccardo Patrese during practice, Chevron B40 Ford BDA. It is in this part of the track that Jones spun and was hit by Riccardo during the race
Teddy Yip and Vern Schuppan, Macau. What year folks? Didn’t these fellas have some fun and success in F1, F5000, Indycars and F Atlantic/Pacific? The most important of the South Aussies patrons/sponsors, BRM leg-up duly noted (S Weaver)

That year Patrese and Alan Jones were Shadow F1 teammates. Riccardo was entered in Macau by Bob Harper, Jones by Teddy Yip, both these fellows were the region’s traditional monied entrant protagonists.

Jones ‘tore the place apart’ the year before in the Yip March 722 raced often by Vern Schuppan – he constantly broke the lap record after an early engine cut-out. Jones then fired the engine up, carved his way back through the field, only to have the engine again fail- Vern Schuppan won a Ralt RT1 Ford.

In 1977 Patrese popped his Chevron on pole by a couple of seconds from Jones with Vern Schuppan third in John McDonald’s Ralt RT1. Kiwis Steve Millen, Chevron B35, and Graeme Lawrence, March 76B were fourth and sixth on the grid, Masahiro Hasemi was fifth in a Chevron B40 Nissan, with Kevin Bartlett, March and Andrew Miedecke, March 763/76B seventh and eighth.

1977 Macau GP grid. Patrese, Chevron B40 left on pole, Jones, Ralt RT1 #2 then the nose of Schuppan’s Ralt RT1. #19 Millen, Chevron B35 and #5 Masahiro Hasemi, Chevron B40 Nissan. Row three Graeme Lawrence, March 76B with Bartlett’s red March (?), then Andrew Miedecke #4 March 763/76B. Car #23 is Albert Poon, Chevron B40, with Nakajima’s #7 Nova Honda alongside. And the rest, engines Ford BDA unless specified otherwise (unattributed)

The Jones boy blasted away from the front row, but his lead was short-lived after another engine cut-out resulted in his Ralt spinning into Patrese’s path.

Riccardo vaulted over the hapless Jones, damaging a rear wheel – he pulled into the pits for inspection and was sent on his way. Concerned officials popped out a black-flag, but this was withdrawn after entreaties from the Harper pit that the wheel, whilst bent a tad, would be AOK.

Graeme Lawrence, March 76B Ford BDA (Getty)
Kevin Bartlett and Howden Ganley. Year folks? (S Weaver)

Hasemi then led from Schuppan, just as Vern seemed set to pass his fuel metering belt broke. Millen then led from Bartlett, the 1969 winner, and Lawrence, but Patrese was on a charge and led by lap 15. He drove off into the distance.

Millen, then Bartlett were second for a bit but, but Bartlett and Lawrence both retired with mechanical dramas – Millen was second, Miedecke third and future Lotus F1 driver, Satoru Nakajima fourth in an Nova Honda.

Satoru Nakajima, Nova Honda, ’77 Macau GP
Jones and one of the Yip crew, probably 1978 (S Weaver)

Etcetera…

(S Weaver)

KB tries to decipher the mandarin on the nose of Jones’ Yip March 782 Ford BDA during the 1978 race weekend. Bartlett raced a Chevron, what model KB?

Kevin Cogan’s Flying Tigers Ralt RT1 alongside? Who is the big unit talking to Jones? Yip at far right. Driver in front of the RT1 in the posh Linea-Sport overalls?

Jones started from pole and led until a spark-plug failed. Derek Daly then had a comfortable lead from Keke Rosberg and Patrese, but pitted for tyres, Patrese inherited a lead he kept to the end.

The Formula Pacific Macau GP era was marvellous…

(S Weaver)

Jones again during the ‘78 weekend above, with British broadcaster, Dickie Davies.

The shot below is during Schuppan’s Rothmans Porsche years, so early eighties- the West End beer logo should assist you detectives as to the year.

Teddy Yip mechanic/helper Ashok Vadgama at left, KB and Vern.

(S Weaver)
(S Weaver)

AJ looks pretty well-nourished here, so perhaps it’s a tad after his single-seater days, with wife Bev and Yip.

And below, KB slightly peeved at Weaver interrupting his choice of main course.

(S Weaver)

Credits…

Susan Weaver, Getty Images, Riccardo Patrese web-page, ‘Colour and Noise: 40 Years of the Macau Grand Prix 1993’ Philip Newsome

Tailpiece…

(S Weaver)

Jones about to mount before the off in 1977, Ralt RT1 Ford BDA- John Chatterton at right, and Julian Randles leaning into the cockpit. Car #71 is the Ian Grey Chevron B20, the Rothmans car behind is Graeme Lawrence’ March 76B.

Finito…

The Bugatti Owners Club of Australia, Victorian Division held their 2021 rally in and around Healesville, in the Great Dividing Ranges, 70km from Melbourne from 9-11 April.

These gigs are not my stock-in-trade, but Bob King’s wife opted out of a seat in his Type 35B Replica #BC134, an opportunity I was happy to accept.

Over the last four years I’ve got to know one of the marque’s noted authors and historians, he has well and truly infected me with Bugatti-lore, my marque knowledge is probably now a low pass.

King T35B #BC134

Trevor Montgomery’s Alfa 6C1500 Spl s/c, McWhirter Brescia T23 #2467 and blue Stuart Anderson owned, Michael Anderson driven T44

Murdoch T30 and T57C Atalante

We did three long loops out of Healesville in different directions; on Friday afternoon, all day Saturday with a pit-stop at Eildon for lunch, and then a hardy-souls-only Sunday morning one when it really was ‘pissin down!

Cripes these dudes use their cars!

The Ettore Works Driver awards went to the Adam Berryman/Louise Murdoch T37A, Rod/Rita Quinn T35B and Brendan Dillon Hispano Suiza combinations on Saturday afternoon. They braved the very wet, muddy, dirt, steep, dark Acheron Way to return to Healesville after some wally in a modern 4WD left the road on the Black Spur, causing the Gendarmes to close that road.

All five were buzzing with excitement back at the hotel, but both gals – sans the aero-screens afforded the drivers – were soaked to the skin and had faces so muddy they could have been on the Black and White Minstrel Show (if one was allowed to write that).

Well over 500km was covered over the three days on a variety of roads including some ordinary dirt, with a good percentage of it in wet weather. A good test of drivers, resolve, and steeds.

Reefton Hotel vista across the cockpit of the Berryman 37A, then King 35B, Dillon Hispano, Dillon 35B Rep #BC135 and McWhirter Brescia

Messrs Berryman and King looking suitably soggy and happy at Yarra Junction

GP Bugatti parade at Yarra Junction. The Roberts T37 and Berryman T37A book-end the T35Bs of Dillon and King

Living is blatting along at 3,000 rpm in a straight-eight Bug, rain, wind and dirt in your face with the raucous, basso-profundo bark of a supercharged engine assaulting your left-earhole and rattling the spaceframe supporting your brain.

The engine competes with incredible gear whine in the indirects, top-slot provides some relative cruising peace.

I don’t know about all that tearing calico-crap as a descriptor of the exhaust note?

The engine, with its oddball firing order, has a music all of its own, the timbre of which is infinitely variable with a smidge more, or less, of throttle. Lugging-slightly in fourth at low speed, then accelerating, makes the thing breathe really-deep, and demonstrates the flexibility of Ettore’s 2.3-litre, three-valve, under-square design.

The thing is unbelievably stiff, but by the same token the spring/shock rates are well resolved; the chassis itself is also a spring of course, which absorbs the imperfections of Victoria’s B-roads.

Great speed on dirt would threaten your false-teeth, with kidney-belts a necessity. Bill Thompson and his ken were legends to race at the speeds they did in their T37/37As to win Australian Grands Prix on rugged Phillip Island dirt and dust in the twenties – 200 miles flat chat would have been a hard days work, to say the least.

Eildon Hotel, the Corona was nice and cold, as was the day. King T35B, McGann T40 1.5 s/c with Lydia Bugatti style body, and Michael Anderson’s T44 3-litre eight

Roberts’ T37 #37146 cockpit. Gauges are tach, clock, fuel and oil pressure. The lever is ignition advance/retard, set here fully retarded. Blue chassis cross-piece under the gearbox. Silver tube is part of gear shift mechanism, shift on right outside the cockpit. First is left bottom, second straight forward, third across to the right away from you and back, top is straight forward

Eildon. Murdoch T57C and T23 Brescia, McWhirter Brescia T23. Nice to see a car worth a small piss-ant country driven on normal roads

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria’s Healesville Country Club was a perfect choice for the gig.

It’s close to Melbourne with plentiful underground car parking for about 12 Bugatti’s and interlopers. These included Trevor Montgomery’s ex-Lex Davison ‘Little Alfa’ 6C1500 s/c, David Hands’ ‘fat’ 3-litre Bentley with Phil Schudmak as sidekick, Brendan Dillon in brother Des’ incredibly quick 1914 4-litre Hispano Suiza Alfonso, Rod and Rita Quinn’s Bristol 400 and a couple of others.

Car parks established for electric Tesla’s became pit-bays for the GP cars which needed a check-over and charge of the batteries before resuming battle the morning after. The irony of these beautiful, charismatic, dirty old gas-guzzlers using facilities established for modern tributes to boredom will not be lost on you.

There was no mechanical carnage, albeit one Brescia, fresh from an engine rebuild, displayed some petulance, but nothing the talented new owner/driver, Phil McWhirter and his patient wife Laurette couldn’t overcome.

The poverty-end of Bugatti ownership these days is about $A400,000-plus for a Brescia, not cheap. What was impressive was the amazing depth of mechanical and racing history knowledge amongst owners, and the high proportion who wield their Stahlwilles with deft skill.

Belle of the ball was the Murdoch family, Type 57C Atalante #57788, which is simply, jaw-droppingly stunning.

Like a beautiful woman, your eyes take in every perfectly proportioned curve, each one of which blends into the next and teases you a little more as you take the thing in, from top to bottom, and back to front. Then do the same thing over and over.

Ooh-la-la indeed.

Yes, the Acheron and Taggerty locals did need chiropractic treatment after passing this lot on the Maroondah Highway roadside
King T35B
Michael Anderson’s T44 3-litre normally aspirated eight at Reefton, wonderful tourer

The T57C has an Australian history since the Dale brothers imported it in the late-fifties. Young Doctor King must have been quite an Ormond man-about-town in it in the early sixties cruising the streets of Melbourne. He sold it just as his sixth-sense suggested the engine may be in need of very expensive TLC soonish.

It then passed to Eric Pengilley, where many an Australian Bugatti became a resident of his Black-Hole-of-Cammeray Bugatti burial-ground on Sydney’s lower north-shore .

Stuart Murdoch made many trips from Melbourne to Sydney before prising it from Pengilley, then starting the long, expensive process of restoration. The Murdoch patriarch is as sharp as at a tack and was much in demand, so I never did get the full T57C story.

He did burst the bubble of one old, oft repeated myth though.

It’s said that his father, Doctor Noel Murdoch made his Yarra Junction 1920s house-calls in an eight-cylinder Type 44, which the family retain. Stuart said that would only have been for the most special of patients, his normal chariot of choice was one of Australia’s first Fiat 501s.

Both these blokes drove with plenty of brio. Brendan Dillon in brother Des’ Alfonso Hispano and Adam Berryman with another brave, lucky ‘victim’
King 35B butt-shot @ Healesville RACV. Makes the knees tremble really
The Rod and Rita Quinn Bristol 400. I did 150km in the car and thoroughly enjoyed the drive, it only falls short amongst the moderns on long, steepish hills where 2-litres ain’t enough

The most stunning part of the long-weekend took place inside an enormous, designer Bat-Cave, sitting low in a small valley surrounded by sweet smelling, damp eucalypts.

There, the good Doctor King was put very much on the spot, with about 40 of us looking on. His task was to identify a factory T37A chassis. He went to work with a small-torch, and all of the experience which comes from restoration of his share of the cars, and having seen more of them than you and I have had hot dinners.

That was just the sweets course of this automotive archaeology segue, mind you.

The main dish was having laid out, before our eyes, some of the core components of the Geoff Meredith driven, 1927 Goulburn, Australian Grand Prix winning, ex-Turner/Meredith/Clements 2-litre eight-cylinder Bugatti T30!

Neil Murdoch showed the cut down chassis, front cross-member, cast-aluminium firewall and engine. It’s far from a complete car of course, but is heaps of bits in a world where a reconstruction often starts with no more than a vinyl Lola nose-badge.

The ex-Meredith 2-litre, three main-bearing eight cylinder engine currently powers a perfect, black Type 30 driven by Fiona Murdoch. No doubt her two brothers, Neil and Geoff are trying to get little ‘sis engine for this important part of Australian racing history. Stuart Murdoch quipped, “I’ve done my restoration bit, that one is for the next generation.”

So it is too. It’s more of a five year or decade long project, but over time, doubtless the Murdochs will acccumulate the bits they need, including another two-litre eight to pop under the curvaceous long bonnet of the immaculate black Type 30! Watch this space.

Interlopers included David Hands’ Bentley 3-litre which had arrived home from the UK at Port Melbourne a few days before. Drove it to Sydney over two days following the rally
Practical things these long-legged eight-cylinder touring Bugattis. Michael Anderson’s T44 at Yarra Junction

Robert’s T37 at Reefton Hotel

It was great to see Tom and David Roberts in Tom’s beautifully patinated T37 37146, and old-mate, Adam Berryman’s T37A, 37327.

Tom has owned the ex-Brearley/McGrath AGP contestant since 1958, the car has not been spotted for a while so Roberts father and son were welcomed like long, lost cousins.

“That car was the first Bugatti I saw. I was standing outside the Melbourne University Union building when Ian Ferguson and his brother pulled up and parked it, jumped out, pulled their trousers out of their socks – done to avoid the inevitable pool of oil in the footwell – and rushed off to lectures. How cool was that, I thought!” recalls Bob King of the late fifties Melbourne Uni car-park which contained its share of old-banger Bugattis.

I reckon todays 85 year olds probably had the best of motoring as we currently know it. They saw the end of the front-engined GP era, the best, pre-wing, mid-engined era, and had available to them a truckload of exotic road and racing cars which were cheap old rockets before their era as global investment grade assets.

T35B Rep, Brescia, Alfa 6C1500 Spl, Brescia, T57C and T30 at Reefton
Brescia T23, T35B Rep, Bristol 400 and light blue Triumph of Mr Terdich, Eildon
Berryman’s ex-Chiron Targa T37A is about as good as it gets. Sex on wheels. Reefton

Berryman’s T37A, a car his father bought in the seventies, was imported by Melbourne racers/businessmen/Light Car Club stalwarts, the Leech brothers in the fifties.

I sat alongside Adam from Reefton to Yarra Junction. The experience was in some ways similar as the 35B, given the chassis of types 35 and 37 are the same, but the engines are quite different of course- the T37A is a SOHC, three-valve, 1.5-litre supercharged four (T37, same engine un-supercharged).

The 37A feels, and is lighter, the engine is notably more responsive to the throttle with a lighter flywheel and higher state of tune than Bob’s 35B. The 35B is ultimately quicker on a like-for-like basis.

A quick refresher course on Australian Bugatti Grand Prix wins. These were achieved with the modified-tourer T30 2-litre eight raced by Meredith in 1927, T37A 1.5-litre supercharged voiturettes raced by Arthur Terdich in 1929 (Tom Roberts’ T37 was second driven by Reg Brearley), Bill Thompson in 1930 and 1932 and the T39 1.5-litre supercharged eight raced by Carl Junker in 1931.

What a weekend.

Many congratulations and thanks to organisers Michael Anderson, Bui Khoi and Geoff Murdoch for their creativity, warm hospitality, attention to detail and deft-touch. Fantastic stuff!

Credits and Commerce…

Bob King quoted the chassis numbers out of his head, not bad at 84. I’m that confident he is right I’ve not checked any of them!

The photographs are all mine, with one exception.

For those with an interest in all the Antipodean Bugattis, see ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand 1920-2012’ by King and Peter McGann. $110 plus postage, email McGann on; pmc24757@bigpond.net.au

Tailpieces…

Let’s finish as we started with the Murdoch T57C Atalante. Man I cannot get this thing outta my sick little mind…

(B King)

Finito…

After World War II, interest in gas-turbine power was intense, who would be the first automotive manufacturer to harness engines which had revolutionised aviation?

I chanced upon this topic searching for information about Carlo Salamano, the pre-war Fiat Grand Prix driver and winner a while ago researching an article I published in 2019 about Fiat’s twenties GP cars, see here;

https://primotipo.com/2019/11/22/fiat-806-gp-1927/

More recently I came across this Australian ‘Wheels’ magazine cover, the spark to ignite my interest in writing about Fiat’s amazing turbine powered car came from those two sources. The difficulty of this topic for me are the technicalities of these engines for my ‘humanities’ brain, but Karl Ludvigsen has come to the rescue in a beautifully written Hemmings article titled ‘Turbine Speed with Style’. Initially I thought I would just use the magazine cover and a link to Karl’s article but in 4,000 words he has only two piccies- not enough for us. So…

I’ve truncated his article in part- and as you will see, very substantively quoted him especially in relation to the technical elements, quotation marks will ensure you can see when it’s one of motorings finest writers verbatim and what is me truncating and in some cases expanding upon his original prose. The full Hemmings piece is here; https://www.hemmings.com/blog/article/turbine-speed-with-style/

Off we go.

In March 1948 Rover announced that it was working on a gas turbine for cars making use of wartime intellectual property gained while building some of Frank Whittle’s first jet engines.

Karl Ludvigsen wrote that “The Autocar published a shrewd speculative drawing of the gas-turbine car of the future, a provocation if there ever was one. Several other gas-turbine programs dated their launches to 1948. One was that of General Motors, followed in 1949 by Chrysler. Another for whom 1948 was a decisive year was Italy’s Fiat. Proud of its great engineering heritage and eager to exploit new technologies, Fiat too would assess the turbine’s potential.”

“I was afraid that in the race for progress that had been speeded up by the new wartime technologies, we might well have been overtaken by others,” recalled the brilliant Dante Giacosa, technical director of Fiat’s automobile arm since 1945. “I remembered what had happened to piston engines in aviation, suddenly superseded by jets.” It was Giacosa’s role to protect the future of Fiat by exploiting the opportunity or discounting it as a ‘blind alley’ in automotive terms.

“Fiat weren’t starting from scratch, one subsidiary was producing the de Havilland Ghost jet engine under license, another was building large industrial gas turbines. However, there were two reasons for not troubling these experts with Fiat’s turbine-car ambitions. Giacosa determined not to involve those with some expertise as they were already fully committed with aeronautical development work, he wanted to ‘see for himself’ and he wanted to develop the technology without undue pressure from inside the huge Fiat organisation- keep his and his team’s heads down until they were good and ready.”

“Vittorio Bellicardi was chosen by Giacosa to lead the project, together with a three-man team he commenced studies of the state of the turbine art. They examined the latest in aviation-turbine design, compressors, constant-flow combustors, red-hot turbines and high-speed shafts and bearings to name a few. ‘A firm grasp of the theory of fluid dynamics was needed to cope with the unique conditions prevailing inside these engines” Ludvigsen wrote.

Dante Giacosa in the mid-sixties (unattributed)

Fiat 8001 Turbina general layout (unattributed)

Work began in September 1950 on an engine which Giacosa said “envisaged the turbine as an integral part of the automobile” rather than a stand-alone unit which was then hooked up to a car, which was the direction of some other competitors. Fiat’s project 8001 combined its power generator and its final-drive gearing into a single assembly purpose-built for car use.

Virgilio Borsattino and a colleague then commenced design of the engine whilst Giacosa considered test equipment: “We had to take measurements of the behavior of air and gases passing through the various sections of the engine, perfect the combustion chambers and the shape of the turbine blades, the choke tubes of the two-stage compressor and the turbine, the injection mechanism, regulator and so forth. We also had to make sure that the impellers turning at 30,000 rpm could stand the centrifugal strain. This meant we needed a pit inside which we could set them spinning until breaking point was reached, without danger to the observers.”

The research work promised to be noisy and expensive but Bellicardi found a solution right under their noses at the top of Fiat’s famous, fabulous five-story Lingotto factory in Turin. An isolated sixth-floor work area, ‘Traversa D’, wasn’t being used so Bellicardi struck a cheap rent deal which was billed to Giacosa’s car-development unit. Using surplus equipment discarded by other parts of the empire they updated their laboratories with all of the specialist items they needed- with no mention of exotic gas turbines.

By May 1951,  Project 8001 turbine drawings were allocated to Fiat’s workshops for fabrication, the assembly drawing of the complete unit was dated November 8, 1951. It showed a power unit unique amongst automotive turbines in terms of its integration with the final drive and differential as well as its layout, “which was not unlike some of the early post-war aviation gas turbines”.

“One of the two basic elements of most automotive gas turbines is a gas generator that has a turbine wheel or wheels that drive a compressor, which delivers air to a combustor. Hot gas from the combustor drives the turbine that keeps the compressor going. There’s plenty of gas left over to drive the other basic element, another turbine wheel called the power turbine, which drives the car. When starting up, the power turbine is at rest until it starts to turn under the impact of the hot exhaust from the gas generator. Fiat used this method, in which the relationship between gas generator and power turbine acts as an automatic transmission, in its 8001.” Karl wrote.

In general arrangement, the Fiat turbine had similarities to a Rolls-Royce aviation turboprop unit, the Dart. Exploiting its wartime work on Merlin engine superchargers, Rolls used a two-stage centrifugal compressor in its Dart. This gave a high pressure ratio, the equivalent of a piston engine’s compression ratio. Although they faced their paired impeller entries to the rear instead of forward, the Fiat engineers used a similar compressor in the 8001 to get an exceptionally high pressure ratio of 7.0:1 for maximum performance and efficiency.

Caselle Airport, Turin 23 April 1954 (Fiat)

Turbina engine- if it looks heavy it is, circa 570 pounds. Output circa 200bhp according to ‘Wheels’ in-period but not more than 150bhp used. A turbine speed of 22,000 rpm produced a road speed of 120mph (Fiat)

“While an aviation turbine like the Dart had multiple combustion chambers around its shaft, the Fiat had three at the top and sides of its central shafts. Three were, in fact, two more than most automotive turbines. Triple burners were chosen by the Fiat team in the belief that they would give higher efficiency. Angling inward toward the rear of the engine, the combustors required a long shaft from the compressor to the pair of turbine wheels that drove it. Impressively, Fiat itself made all these vital rotating parts of the 8001, including the forged-aluminum compressor wheels and the turbines, which had blades of Jessups G32 alloy copy-machined individually and attached by fir-tree joints to wheels of similar alloy.”

“At the engine’s extreme rear, just inside its circular exhaust duct, was its power turbine. This drove an output shaft that went all the way to the front of the 8001 through its hollow compressor shaft. Both coaxial shafts were made in two parts joined by splined sleeves. From there it drove a set of reduction gears that went down to a shaft that ran backward, through another pair of gears, to a spiral-drive ring and pinion and the differential. The main reduction gears were duplicated on the driven shaft to provide two subtly different overall ratios, selected by a dog clutch when the car was at rest, for experimental purposes.”

“The complete unit had a dry-sump lubrication system with two scavenge pumps and one pressure pump. Delivery from the latter was high-pressure to all the engine’s plain bearings and gear trains. A reducer cut the pressure back for delivery to the high-speed anti-friction bearings. The oil reservoir was behind the passenger seat, and an oil cooler was in the nose, fed by the upper portion of the car’s air inlet. Engine output was controlled by a variable fuel-metering valve, while starting was by a truck-type starter motor on a 24-volt system. Firing up at 5,000 rpm, the gas generator became self-sustaining at 10,000 rpm.”

Back at Lingotto’s Traversa D, Bellicardi and Freilino, the engineer charged with running the tests, subjected all the engine’s key components to trials in their various rigs in January 1953, they were able to run the complete unit. Weighing 570 pounds, it was designed to be rubber-mounted at four points of a chassis and installed only in a rear-engined car, those with a keen sense of Fiat history will recall that Fiat were on track for the launch of the 600 in 1955.

“Meanwhile, other gas-turbine efforts were surfacing throughout the world. In March 1950, Rover demonstrated the world’s first turbine-powered car, which in 1952 was driven to the first gas-turbine speed record of 152.9 mph. In 1951, French truck maker Laffly showed a chassis powered by a Turbomeca turbine, while in the same year, a 36-ton Kenworth semi-trailer rig was completing a test with Boeing turbine power. Closer to home for Fiat, at Paris in October 1952, a handsome turbine-powered sports coupe, the SOCEMA-Gregoire, was placed on show.”

Paris Car Show October 1954 (Getty)

(smcars.net)

Fiat were not alone in their exploration! In 1953 more substantial funding for the 8001 project was provided by senior management. Design work on the car itself began led by Oscar Montabone with the ongoing support of Bellicardi. The type of car was determined by the powerful engine. Whilst a low-power turbine would be in line with Fiat’s mainstream cars, the bigger the turbines the better in that that the necessary clearances between its rotating parts and static walls become proportionally smaller in relation to the size of the engine. Large clearances mean loss of efficiency. With this in mind the engineers scaled the 8001 to deliver a nominal 200bhp – about the same as Ferrari’s contemporary 4.1-litre Type 342 America! And so an exciting sportscar it was to be.

“Fiat was developing its V8-engined 8V sportscar, whose new independent suspension- a parallel-wishbone design with a single upper link actuating a coil spring/damper inside an oil-filled housing was lifted for use in each corner of the 8001 chassis. Roll bars were used at front and rear, drum brakes were Fiat ‘FB’ pattern with beautiful Borrani wire wheels wearing Pirelli’s 6.00 x 16 Stelvio Corsa tires.”

“Giacosa’s chassis was a multi-tubular steel structure reminiscent of his Cisitalia sports cars of the 1940s. Of semi-space-frame design with truss-braced side members, two 13-gallon tanks were attached to carry the car’s kerosene. The turbine was in the rear, while up front three six-volt batteries were carried on each side, adding weight which increased the car’s polar moment of inertia and therefore its stability. The lower section of the nose inlet delivered air to a central tunnel that fed it to the hungry compressor. The car’s wheelbase ‘was no more than the classic 2,400mm, 94.5 inches, the same as Fiat’s front-engined 8V sports car. The track was also similar to the 8V’s at 51.0 inches.”

Fiat 8V (Fiat)

The lucky man chosen to style the 8001 was Fabio Luigi Rapi. As much an engineer as stylist, Rapi had been vice director to Giacosa since 1949 and in 1952 took over responsibility for special coachwork. His CV included experience of powerful rear-engined cars with Isotta Fraschini, for whom he styled the marvellous 8C Monterosa. Its rear mounted 3.4-litre V8 gave 120bhp and bettered 100mph.

The sports version of Isotta’s Monterosa used substantial stabilising fins, which Rapi used in his 8001 two-seater coupe. It had chrome trim around its nose and along its flanks, a deeply curved windscreen and had side windows fixed in rear-hinged doors that curved into the roof to aid access and egress.

“Although the 8001’s rear wheels were designed to be enclosed, the car was styled to look good with its pants removed. Its high, squared fins were functional for stability enhancement at the speeds of which it would be capable. That its drag would be low was suggested by tests of a one-fifth-size model in the Turin Polytechnic’s tunnel that showed a drag coefficient of only Cd=0.14. A fitting touch was a chrome-ringed central exhaust for the turbine, emblematic of the jet age. Completing the ensemble was a red-on-white paint scheme as extroverted as the automobile itself. Its overall dimensions were 172.0 inches in length, 63.4 inches wide and 49.4 inches in height. For a car considered to be purely experimental, no need was envisaged for headlamps or running lamps.”

The cars test nature was expressed in its interior which had only the basics. The driver had two pedals, one to go and one to stop but faced a bank of instruments, many of which were there for technical observers. There were two tachometers, one for the gas generator and the other for the power turbine. Temperature readings were given for oil, bearings and combustion gases, while pressures were shown for the fuel and for the engine’s two lubrication circuits.

(smcars.net)

Carlo Salamano eases himself into the Turbina cockpit at Caselle Airport 23 April 1954

Work on the 8001 proceeded over the 1953-54 winter. By the end of February, the chassis was completed and handed to the in-house carrozzeria for body fabrication. On March 15th, its final engine was installed, and on April 10th, the car was considered completed. On the 14th, it was wheeled out of Traversa D onto the Lingotto rooftop test track. Settling himself behind its Nardi wheel was none other than pre-war Fiat Grand Prix winner Carlo Salamano, the by then veteran tester whom Giacosa described as “the conscience of Fiat.”

“That first test on April 14th had its humorous aspect. Salamano joked that since he had no idea how the car would react when he pressed the throttle (this being a completely new form of motive power), he should wear a parachute while testing it on a track 100 feet up in the air! In any event, the test went smoothly; the car went through its 15-second starting sequence flawlessly and, accompanied by the doughty Freilino, Salamano took it for baptismal laps of Lingotto’s rooftop track.”

“Turin’s automobile show opened on April 21, the turbine car had the potential to be a huge sensation for Fiat. It was only a rumor when the Italian president opened the show at 10:00 a.m. that Wednesday, but on Thursday evening, the closely held secret was revealed by Bono and Giacosa in talks at a meeting of Turin’s Rotary Club. A more appropriate venue could hardly be imagined.”

“By Friday the 23rd, the freak April snows had melted away, and Turin’s Caselle Airport was bathed in sun as Fiat executives and journalists convened to see the 8001 in the flesh and in action. Two days earlier, Salamano had tested it there and posed for press photos while finding all in order. Nevertheless, the turbine’s settings were conservative, power being held to some 150hp and power-turbine revs to 22,000, equivalent to 120 mph. The gas generator was running to 27,000 rpm, 10 percent less than its planned maximum.”

Fiat’s unveiling of its Turbina was impeccable in its timing in that It was the first public demonstration of a turbine-powered car in continental Europe- the SOCEMA-Gregoire of 1952 was never shown in operation. Fiat were the second manufacturer to display a running gas-turbine car. GM first ran its Firebird I in autumn 1953 but the media weren’t invited, while Chrysler’s first turbine-engined Plymouth, displayed in New York on April 7-11 of 1954, waited until June 16 for its running debut before the press and public. In July 1955 Austin demonstrated its first turbine-installed in a Sheerline.

Mauri Rose, thrice Indy winner pilots the GM Firebird 1 on a deserted road in the Arizona desert. The ‘engineering and styling exercise’ was potent having a circa 370 horsepower ‘Whirlfire Turbo-Power’ turbine engine was located in the back of the car and drove the wheels through a two speed gearbox. Rose reached 100 mph- more than that was impossible due to tyre traction problems- the tyres could not cope with the torque (GM)

Salamano and the Fiat CEO?, Caselle amongst an admiring throng of press and Fiat staff (unattributed)

“No one could take more satisfaction from the Turbina’s demonstration at Caselle, and its appearance on the Turin show floor the next day, than Giacosa. ‘It was a festive occasion for me and my co-workers’, he said, “with the shrill whistling of the engine providing the high point of a bright spring day…a festive throng of the leading representatives of the city, journalists and Fiat executives, from the president down…an event that caused quite a stir all over the world.”

“With Fiat justifiably in the limelight, Giacosa could reflect on this spectacular result of his daring decision six years earlier to begin research on a radical new prime mover. Most important to Giacosa, however, was that the Turbina showed “that the motor vehicle design section was also capable of producing a small turbine, that our design engineers were on a par with those in the aeronautical division and, if needed, they could enable Fiat to compete with any foreign manufacturers in the small turbine field. The automobile was there as a concrete testimony to the abilities of the team of young men who had thrown themselves with enthusiasm into this far from easy task. For Fiat, it was precious experience gained. It showed that the turbine was not yet suited to the private automobile-nor may ever become so-but it should still be thoroughly perfected and studied for other uses.”

“After the hubbub of Turin in April 1954 had abated, Giacosa’s engineers got down to serious development of their 8001 turbine. They found many flaws. The compressor housing, originally of silicon-alloyed aluminum, deformed at high heat and rubbed against the rotating impellers. A change to an exotic magnesium-zirconium alloy gave the added strength needed without increasing the housing’s weight. The power-turbine casing had to be redesigned to keep it from sagging under its own weight. Key ball bearings were fitted with little centrifugal exhaust pumps to accelerate the flow of cooling oil through them. Forged brass cages and silver-plated surfaces were needed to extend ball-bearing life.”

“With compressor efficiency crucial to turbine performance, Bellicardi’s team built and tested many different configurations and sizes of the impellers and their connecting diffusers and ducting. Combustion chambers too were redesigned and retested. Stiffening components allowed closer running clearances throughout the engine, a boon to better performance. The ability of the gas generator to accelerate from its 10,000-rpm idle to full 30,000 rpm-a key index of engine response-was measured at five to six seconds, with most of the time taken to reach 20,000.”

(Italianways)

Caselle Airport, 23 April 1954 (Fiat)

“The engineers’ efforts over several years spectacularly improved the 8001’s performance. It now attained its target 200hp at 18,000 power-turbine rpm with the gas generator running at 29,000 rpm. With the gas generator at 30,500 rpm and the power turbine at 20,000, output rose to 295hp. At 29,000 power-turbine rpm, it was still producing 250hp.”

“This was impressive output. Fuel consumption was heavy, on the order of twice that of a comparable piston engine, but that didn’t trouble Carlo Salamano, who saw a chance for some glory behind the wheel late in his career. With that kind of power, he was sure, the Turbina would easily break the Rover turbine’s speed record of 152.9 mph, dating from 1952. He urged Giacosa to prepare the Turbina for an attempt over the flying kilometer.”

“In September 1956, they were getting ready to attack the record when they heard bad news from Utah. At Bonneville, Frenchman Jean Hebert set a new turbine-powered record at 191.8 mph in Renault’s “Etoile Filante.” Power from its Turbomeca Turmo I engine was akin to the Fiat’s: 270hp at 28,000 rpm. The car, however, was a purpose-built record-breaker with a sleek, low, single-seater body. The Turbina had no chance of matching its speed, let alone exceeding it.”

Though it never went record-breaking, Fiat’s Turbina did make more public appearances. It was tested at Monza in 1954 and then, on June 6th, turned laps of honor before a non-championship Grand Prix at the Castelfusano circuit on the coast at Ostia, near Rome. The Eternal City’s mayor joined other dignitaries to see and hear what Fiat had wrought. Now the Turbina rests in Fiat’s collection, occasionally loaned to exhibitions. It deserves to be accompanied by a recording of its engine’s keening whine, that exciting sound of the future that enraptured us all half a century ago.

Renault Etoile Filante (Shooting Star) on the Bonneville Salt Flats before setting a Land Speed Record of 308.85 km/h on 5 September 1956- driver/engineer Jean Hebert is at the wheel (Renault)

Contemporary automotive turbine perspective in September 1954…

It is interesting to look at the Wheels article, it has no writers byline unfortunately, and the future of turbine powered cars as anticipated then.

Wheels predicted “Turbine cars will be on the market in quantity from six to ten years. Commercial vehicles may be here in less’. Had the initial pioneers, the Rover Company of England had the backing of their government or the assets of General Motors they would have had as substantial lead now over the rest of the world in ground turbines as Britain had with jet aircraft in the air.”

Initially the technology would be applied to large cars from the US, ‘wealthy mens waggons‘ because the efficiency losses in small turbines indicated the industry would commence with bigger cars in which fuel economy is not important.

Advantages touted after a summary of the initiatives of Rover, Chrysler, GM and Fiat were outlined included simple transmissions with no gearbox, smooth vibrationless running, simple lubrication and practically no oil consumption, small dimensions and practically no oil consumption, small dimensions and low weight, no cooling system and easy starting regardless of weather conditions.

The challenges the technology at the time needed to solve were primarily complex metallurgical problems of service, manufacturing difficulties and the need for mass production to much tighter tolerances than was typical then.

It was thought that piston engine evolution to ‘fight back’ may focus on fuel injection and two-stroke diesels, both of which happened and of course the continual refinement of our old favourite has ensured its omnipotence to the present at least…

Etcetera…

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

Credits…

‘Turbine Speed with Style’ by Karl Ludvigsen in Hemmings, smcars.net, Getty Images- Louis Klemantaski, Italianways

Tailpiece…

(Getty)

Mass production of the Turbina after all!

Finito…