Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Panorama of the Self Preservation Society’s ‘Wombat Park Classic’ Concours held at Daylesford, Victoria, Australia on Saturday February 18, 2023.

Being of the Oily Rag School of Restoration I’ve always found the top end of this arcane world – Pebble Beach et al – pointless. Getting a car – ‘restoring it’ is such an inaccurate descriptor – to the point it never looked ex-factory defies me, why not go buy a Monet and pimp-that instead, it’s much smaller and easier?

At the more sane end, with fabulous cars that are used, I’m troubled to find fault with a day in the sunshine as works-driver of the Equipe King AC Ace Bristol talking gobshite to other punters, admiring the cars and pretty-ladies, not to forget sipping some exy-French-bubbles.

Wombat Park, Daylesford was settled in the 1850’s by William Stanbridge, gold-mine owner, entrepreneur and State MP, the place is slap-bang in the middle of Victoria’s beautiful Goldfields region. The current, magnificent 1910 Rodney Alsop designed – the great-grandfather of a car mate of mine as it transpires – English Arts and Crafts style home was recently bought by the Mayor of Daylesford, Tony Demarco, a local hospitality entrepreneur with over 1100 beds in the region.

The Concours d’Elegance was the first gig held at Wombat since the Demarco’s acquisition. Many thanks to the sponsors below for a wonderful day of largesse.

I believe The Self Preservation Society (SPS) – you would need to ask them directly, any connection with The Italian Job is entirely accidental – is one of many seditious automotive organisations that have popped up around the world to celebrate life post-Covid, in particular the failure of the Wuhan Wet n’ Wild Market Alchemy Team to kill us all. Rest assured, the SPS is as potent a force as the Judean People’s Front, or was it The People’s Front of Judea? so no need to worry too much about recommendations to storm The Capitol from them.

Fabulous Alta 2-litre #55S/DPG167 recently purchased by the brothers Murdoch, Geoff and Neill.

Fortunately this machine, and the ex-Sinclair-the-MI6-Spook Alta 1100 s/c have remained in Australia, many thanks to Betty Lowe and the Murdochs for that. The Late Graeme Lowe was a lifetime Alta fan, restorer and racer and would be best-pleased that they’ve remained in the colonies.

Butt-shots of the Alta and distant Delage D8S. Here is a piece about the Sinclair Alta 1100, you’ll have to read the next issue of Benzina Magazine (#7) to learn more about this 2-litre machine;

I don’t think quite so much technology had ever been shoved into one car until the Porsche 959 came along, it was quite the thing in 1986. Lots of bang for your buck, but visually not so exciting, Der Deutschlanders have never quite had the je ne sais quoi of the Italianos have they?

Seeing this car reminded me of an old client. Chris Taylor (Motors Pty.Ltd) was the Geelong and region Porsche dealer for many years, I was invited along to a presentation of a 959 to the-great-and-the-good of that city when it did its tour of Australian Porker dealers circa 1987.

There was never a dull moment with him as an old-school dealer, read wine, women and song. Chris’ production of a pair of boxing gloves from the drawer of his desk in the middle of a pitch to his bankers to increase his finance facility was memorable, I doubt Milton the Banker ever forgot it, worked too! When Chris bought a new sprintcar, the sound of the 6-litre thing idling @ 5500rpm in the dealership back lane could be heard at Mount Duneed.

What wasn’t such a good idea was racing the 650bhp winged, roller-skate (at Warrnambool or perhaps Mount Gambier) with a residual smidge of alcohol in the system after a big-night the day before. His decline was dreadful, but his wife capably stepped into the breech to run the place for a while after that, RIP Chris Taylor. Not a man who died guessing.

(Porsche AG)

The Lola T70 in all of its forms is the most erotic – if not exotic – of all sixties sports-racers, bar none. It’s a big statement in a decade of sports-racer spunk-muffins I know, but T70’s lack nothing other than a Le Mans win.

This one is ‘the remaining bones’ of chassis SL70/5 an iconic, mainly South African domiciled Ford 289 engined machine. Of note is a period of ownership by Stirling Moss and wins in the 1966 Lourenco Marques 3 Hours (Doug Serrurier/Roy Pierpoint) and the 1967 Roy Hesketh 3 Hours (Serrurier/Jackie Pretorious).

Allen Brown explains the history of the car in his fabulous My bit below is a summarised version, the full entry is here, scroll down to Lola T140:T70/140 SL70/5 We historians thank the good lord above for Allen’s site in that we have arms-length information about a machine rather than relying on the often Disney-esque fantasy-tales of some owners.

Lola T70 Chev cutaway (unattributed very nice work)
Lola T70 SL/5 Ford at Clubhouse corner Kyalami, advice taken on the driver and date folks

“Doug Serrurier bought the ex-Mike Taylor/David Good 1965 Lola T70 (chassis SL70/5) with its 4.7-litre Ford Weslake engine for sports car racing in South Africa and raced it until it was crashed by teammate Jackie Pretorius in the 1969 Roy Hesketh 3 Hour. Serrurier then converted it into a Formula A T140 (spaceframe 1968 model Lola Formula 5000 car) using the running gear, Ford Weslake engine and Hewland LG gearbox. He didn’t use “T/70/140″ but sold it to the Domingo Bros. Mike Domingo contested the 1970 Bulawayo 100 and Alan Domingo the 1970 Rhodesian GP. Team Domingo had three Lola T140s during 1971.”

“T70/T140 then went to Peter Haller and was converted into a drag-racer by ‘a man named Delport’. Johan van der Merwe, Janie van Aswegen and Ivan Glasby were all owners of what Serrurier called ‘the sorry remains’ during the 1980s before it was purchased by A. R. Culpin in 1989. The T70 origins of these remains were now more important than its T140 interlude so the parts were combined with new T70 body panels and the whole project sold to David Harvey of GT40 Replications Ltd, New Zealand in July 2003. The car was completed as a new T70 by 2005 and is retained by Harvey in 2007. With its remaining parts in the T70, the T140 no longer exists.”

And on to an Australian owner in more recent times. New Zealand is a good place to ‘restore’ one’s Lola, they’ve built far more than Eric Broadley ever did…

Ferrari 365 GTC/4 looking absolutely marvellous with a Sunbeam and Lancia Fulvia 1.3 HF in the background.

Described to me as a thinking man’s Daytona once, but on reflection, that was this particular knob-jockey’s attempted put-down of a good chap of mutual acquaintance who owned a 365 GTB/4.

Whatever the case, what a marvellous machine, who get’s the individual credit at Pininfarina? I guess it’s only period competitor was the Lamborghini Espada. I’m intrigued to know the relative merits of the two if any of you have had that pleasure at length?


I’ve never seen Lindsay Fox’ Museum at Docklands so it was with great anticipation I looked forward to seeing one of their prize-exhibits, the Porsche 550RS Spyder imported to Australia by Norman Hamilton in October 1955. The Self Preservation Society El Presidente, Jack Quinn must have a particularly good line-of-chat as Foxy doesn’t even lend his cars to his Point King clifftop buddies. Many thanks to both of you.

Chassis #550-0056 has an entirely Australian and Kiwi history, its roll call of drivers includes Hamilton, Frank Kleinig, Jack Brabham, Otto Stone, Bruce Walton, Reg Smith and Lionel Marsh. Oh yes, Stirling Moss raced it too. See here; and here;

Norman Hamilton, Porsche 550 RS Spyder, Longford 1958. The Mountford Corner trees are still there (B Young)

So complete is the restoration that every single cell of character and patina the machine once had is destroyed, long gone; well done, mission accomplished. I’m at odds with the majority here, there were plenty of chaps with a grumble in the groin as they approached the perfect blue missile. How much restoration is too much you may ask? About this much in my mind.

I recall wandering the better suburbs of Perth with my brother a few years ago – Dalkeith, where he lives, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park – and observing the small remaining number of older stylish homes and their modern, big, bold, gold’n brassy, loud n’proud replacements and proffering the view that “money and taste are non-converging circles in this part of the world.” He laughed initially, but not so much as the numbing effect of several Schofferhofer Hefeweizens drained from his system.

The same applies to cars of course, Lindsay Fox – a great philanthropist in addition to his stunning, enduring business successes I should point out – isn’t a knowledgeable car enthusiast so the nuances of what happens to each machine are lost in a big collection of mobile global investable assets. When Fox spoke to Dictator Dan and his other mates about 540K at a recent summer-soiree they thought he was rabbiting on about the deposit on a Shelley Beach bathing box not the Nazi’s favourite chick-bait vehicle of choice, one of which Fox bought in recent times.

A Pebble Beach judge tells me that the the Prewar and Postwar Preservation classes are growing in number at prominent concours events, which is great. Hopefully it’s not too late though, over restoration is like virginity really, once it’s lost you’re fucked.

The perfect world of course is somebody with Lind’s money and my taste (sic)…

Mercedes 300SL Coupe, nice too, with the ridgy-didge MW Motors Alfa Romeo GTA behind. Short piece on the 300SL here;

Delahaye 135M Coupe singing for its supper, roof-rack and all

These two French trailer-queens were easy on the eye, a 1929 Delage D8S Cabriolet and 1948 Delahaye 135M Coupe with body by Jean Antem.

“The D8S has been extensively toured, with wins at Motorclassica and was invited to Pebble Beach in 2014 where is was displayed on the 18th Green,” the info card says. I suppose “has been extensively toured” in this context means on a truck? Perhaps somebody can explain the 18th Green bit to this particular Concours bogan.

Fabulous Maserati Ghibli was a car I admired in my childhood, Sam Patten kindly chauffeured me on the final leg of the trip to Wombat Hill, a lovely, quick, big-car from the passenger seat.

Bugatti Type 44

There was a Concours winner and placegetters of course, but the voting was by Peoples Choice rather than the usual army of morbidly obese geriatrics in gold-buttoned blue-blazers, bone carefully ironed trousers and practical shoes. Stuff that, I’m down a bit on democracy since Trumpy’s ascension to the US Throne, and the 74,222,958 nuffies who voted for him last time. Screw the will of the people, WTF do they know? I’m therefore going through a benevolent dictator phase presently, on that basis the trailer-queens don’t get a look in, if you didn’t drive to the gig you’re disqualified. My three favourites, differing flavours of course, in no particular order are the Alta, Maserati Ghibli and AC Ace Bristol.


M Bisset, the shots are all mine unless credited otherwise,, Bob Young, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati


Two MGs, the one on the left (what is it?) is just/nearly finished, the one on the right is a J2 if memory serves.


John Snow, Delahaye 135S Competition during the 1939 AGP at Lobethal (B King Collection)

Sydney rich-boy-racer, John Snow was on a mission from god to spend plenty of the family company – Sydney Snow Ltd was a retail softgoods company – money to race some of the best pre-war cars and to change the face of Australian motor racing by importing – for his mates and others – decent European racing exotica.

Three of the cars which arrived in one of his final pre-war shipments were an Alfa Romeo Tipo-B/P3 for Jack Saywell, an Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans which shortly after arrival was sold to John Crouch, and a Delahaye 135SC for his own use. To look after these machines and other customer cars, Saywell and Snow bought the Monza Service business located at 393 Riley Street, Surry Hills (later 217 Bourke Street, East Sydney). Together with the cars, they also enticed the impeccably-credentialled British mechanic, Jock Finlayson, who arrived with Snow on the Monterey and the cars at Number 1 Wharf, Darling Harbour, Sydney on Monday September 5, 1938.

The catalyst for this piece was yet another photo-share from Bob King to me (god bless his cotton-socks), including shots of the three cars mentioned, taken during the 1939 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Lobethal, and discovery of the article below. It all reminded me of an apocryphal story about poor Finlayson during his short time in The Colonies…

This photograph appeared in The Sun, Sydney on Sunday March 5,1939. The caption, with spelling corrected reads “Racing cars, two of them capable of speeds up to 150mph, being prepared for the Grand Prix meeting at Bathurst on Easter Monday. Left foreground, Paul Swedberg’s Offenhauser; right front towards rear, Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo, John Snow’s Delahaye, R Curlewis’ MG. O Debbs’ MG, J Crouch’s Alfa Romeo. The Monza Service garage in which the cars are being prepared, is owned by Snow and Saywell, and is in the charge of the English racing mechanic JD Finlayson.”
Newspaper ad in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Monday April 3, 1939. Like all motor traders, everything is always for sale, including the Delahaye 135SC (or is it CS?) which Snow had barely used in Australia. The Bugatti, see photo below, and Mercedes are both Snow imports. The Alvis Hudson is the engine-less ex-Phil Garlick machine traded by John Crouch in the deal that bagged him the Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans. The Hudson engine was fitted to the Alvis by Frank Kleinig in a quid-pro-quo deal with Snow, who lent Kleinig the cash to travel back to Sydney after the Lobethal January 1939 meeting, fitment of the engine represented payment. There are hundreds of little gems like this in Medley’s John Snow book!
The Bugatti referred to in the ad above Bob King identifies as Type 46 #46577 ex-Giles Brothers in the UK. The 1950s shot shows Mrs Pengilley in the (long) time she and husband Eric Pengilley owned the 5.3-litre unsupercharged straight-eight. Pengilley’s Cammeray, Sydney home was a well known Bugatti ‘nursing home’ from which many fine cars arose from the dead after Pengilley sold said remains (B King Collection)

At Lobethal, Finlayson’s new charges all finished the race, Snow in fourth place, Saywell in sixth and Crouch seventh, all of them were well behind the extraordinarily fast Alan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c. The bigger cars suffered from tyre problems during the very hot 150 mile race on January 2. In truth, none of the Monza Service equipe racers was intimately familiar with his new car, other than Snow, who had raced the 3.5-litre Delahaye to fourth place in the 1938 Antwerp Grand Prix and in the 24 Hours of Spa (not that I can see any proof of the latter). See here for the 1939 AGP report;

“JD ‘Jock’ Finlayson had been a mechanic for the Bentley boys, particularly Tim Birkin and Australian Bernard Rubin,” John Medley wrote in his superb ‘John Snow:Classic Motor Racer’. “When Birkin died in 1933, Finlayson found himself swept up in the remarkable motor racing campaign of 21-year-old Cambridge undergraduate the wealthy American Whitney Straight.”

“Finlayson spent two years with Straight, spending much of his time with the Italy end of the organisation, strongly influenced by the same Lofty England who became legendary post-war as the Racing Manager of the even more successful Jaguar Racing Team. He was no less strongly influenced by Giulio Ramponi, who took him with him when Whitney Straight had achieved his goals and moved on from motor racing.”

Dick Seaman and Jock Finlayson, Coppa Acerbo August 15, 1935. Seaman won the Coppa Acerbo Junior voiturette race in his ERA B-Type (R1B) by a minute. Here they are, before the off, with the car sitting on pole (LAT-Robert Fellowes)
Giulio Ramponi being pushed by Jock Finlayson in Dick Seaman’s Delage 1.5LS into the Donington Park paddock during the Junior Car Club 200 meeting on August 29, 1936. The pair had enhanced the performance of the ‘old beast’ by lightening it, fitment of hydraulic brakes, improving the gearbox and coaxed over 185bhp @ 8000rpm from its 1.5-litre supercharged straight-eight. Dick Seaman won the race, which was a mixed GP and Voiturette grid. It was his third win in as many weeks; the Coppa Acerbo Junior, Prix De Berne and JCC 200 (L Klemantaski)

“Richard Seaman had raced the former Whitney Straight MG K3, so when he decided to adopt a more professional approach to his racing, used an ERA, and ended up with the cleverly rebuilt 1927 Delage in 1936, he like Straight before him with Birkin’s men, chose to chase the very professional mechanics from the Straight operation. Giulio Ramponi was his first choice and it was Ramponi that both suggested the purchase of the Delage and modified it to be the best voiturette racer of 1936. Before that it had been Seaman’s employing of Ramponi that had changed Seaman’s success rate in 1935. And Ramponi had taken Finlayson with him, directly from the Straight team to the Seaman team. Seaman had the highest opinion of his new mechanics, Jock Finlayson apparently no less than Giulio Ramponi. It was Richard Seaman who recommended Jock Finlayson to John Snow.” John Medley wrote.

After the heat of Lobethal and Adelaide, poor Finlayson looked after the Saywell and Snow cars during speed record breaking attempts they had organised on a 10-mile-loop course on the dry, dusty Coorong pipeclay surface under merciless sun and temperatures of 96-106 degrees Fahrenheit on January 5 and 6, 1939.

On the first day, Snow set nine national records before the Delahaye was slowed by valve trouble. Saywell took the wheel of the 2.9-litre Tipo-B/P3 the next day, attacking both the standing start, and flying mile records. Using a four mile run-in, Saywell averaged 134.7mph in the big, booming Grand Prix Alfa, over the flying-mile, and 89.2mph in the standing start, both were new Australian records. See here;

Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo Tipo-B #5002, during early practice at Lobethal. The #1 allocated to him for the race has not yet been applied to the machine (B King Collection)
Jock Finlayson beside Jack Saywell’s Alfa Tipo-B (is the stout guy behind the wheel him?) and Delahaye 135SC at the Coorong, South Australia in January 1939. Fred Pearse Collection shot, perhaps taken for Castrol, undoubtedly a sponsor. Mind you, if you were a sponsor you wouldn’t want all the nuffies in shot! although perhaps they are the SCC South Australia timing officials. Check out the bloke – fifth from the left – with a pistol down-his-strides, if the gun goes off his wedding-tackle will end up in Glenelg. Perhaps he was on snake-patrol (F Pearse Collection)

The two cars next ran in the New South Wales Grand Prix at Bathurst on Easter Monday, April 10, 1939. There, cars imported by John Snow dominated the results. John Sherwood’s MG NE Magnette won from visiting American midget-ace, Paul Swedberg in Snow’s Delahaye (he was overseas), John Barraclough MG NE Magnette, John Crouch, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 LM, Bob Lea-Wright’s Hudson Six Spl, and Jack Saywell – well in the lead of the handicap race off scratch until terminal brake problems – Alfa Romeo Tipo-B. Only the Lea-Wright Hudson hadn’t been imported to Australia by John Snow. NSW GP report here;

Saywell’s Alfa had broken the lap record during its fantastic run at Bathurst, but the fateful decision was made to rebuild the engine and the brakes. The challenges posed by Vittorio Jano’s superb 2.9-litre twin-cam, two-valve, supercharged engine were considerable but should not have been difficult for a mechanic of Finlayson’s experience.

“Legend has it that all was well until the rebuilt engine was restored to its rightful place in the car,” Medley wrote. “It wouldn’t start. Despite protests from onlookers Jock Finlayson then chose to tow it behind another vehicle to try to clutch-start the Alfa Romeo, not realising that he had the timing wrong. Bent valves were apparently the least significant damage. The main damage was to Finlayson’s reputation: Saywell and Snow fired him, and he caught a ship back to England.”

John Crouch, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Le Mans #2311202 8C, Lobethal 1939 (B King Collection)

No longer trusting anyone other than the Alfa Romeo factory, Saywell had the engine packed onto the ‘S.S.Minnow’ for a rebuild in Milan by July 1939. It wasn’t a good time to be on the high-seas though, Germany invaded Poland on September 1 1939, as a consequence Great Britain and Australia declared war on Germany on September 3.

With the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boot wolfpacks marauding the seas, the ‘Minnow’ was easy pickings. Saywell’s engine, the Skipper and the Professor, Gilligan, Thurston Howell (the third) and his wife, Ginger, not to forget poor Mary-Ann of course – I always fancied her more than Ginger or Mrs Howell – gurgled to the bottom of the sea, never to be seen again.

The Alfa Tipo-B raced again post-war, but that is another story…

Eyes on the prize Gilligan. These days American cultural imperialism gives me the shits but I couldn’t get enough of it as a kid!


As is so often the case, after finishing this piece I then had a proper Google – yep, I know, it would be better to do it first, but I get excited sometimes about a topic and this is one of ’em – finding the Coorong shot in a long forgotten article of my own, the Donington shot and this marvellous piece by Doug Nye in MotorSport, which I’ve paraphrased a bit.

“Its amazing just how much detailed history has come down to us not necessarily recorded in any history book, but instead scribbled on scraps of paper, on the back of photographs, or as a fleeting caption in a scrap book.”

“One of the best respected of all racing mechanics in the 1930s was Jock Finlayson. I recently unearthed a couple of the late Jock’s photographs, the first showing the Bentley pit at Phoenix Park, Dublin, after the 1929 Irish Grand Prix there for sportscars. In the 300 mile Eireann Cup handicap, an Alfa Romeo 1750 led home the work’s two Speed Six Bentleys driven by Glenn Kidston (second) and Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin (third).”

(Jock Finlayson-GP Library)

“In the Finlayson photo, taken just after the finish, urbane ex-naval officer Kidston is relaxing on the pit counter, inevitable cigarette in his right hand, while immediately behind him, marked with an-inked ‘X’ is Jock, minus spectacles, but with goggles slung around his neck – and with Tiger Tim to the right. Jock’s caption is simple enough, reading just, ‘My second ride with Birkin.'”

“Another hugely significant photo he preserved – given the shortage of such nutsy-boltsy shots of the engine of the nine-year-old Delage 1.5LS Grand Prix car in 1936 when he won almost everything in sight – as written by Jock, ‘1936 Berne Delage motor 1st Seaman 1 1/2-litre class.’ Here it is taken on the day on which Mercedes Benz team manager Alfred Neubauer sat up and took notice of a young British racing driver, named Dick Seaman and began to consider him seriously for a Mercedes test-drive…”

(Jock Finlayson-GP Library)


Bob King Collection, ‘John Snow : Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, ‘Bathurst:Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, LAT-Robert Fellowes, Louis Klemantaski, Fred Pearse Collection, Doug Nye in MotorSport, GP Library, The Golden Era


(B King Collection)

Yet another of the John Snow top-end racing cars (probably) imported to Australia was Melbourne man, Tim Joshua’s Fraser Nash monoposto. Here he is at Bathurst during the 1938 AGP won by another blueblood, the ERA B-Type raced by Peter Whitehead.

This machine had a very long competitive life in Australian racing – including fitment of the inevitable Ford Flatty V8 during its mid-life crisis – is getting close to being restored to correct specifications in a small Murray River village.



Terry Perkins, Elfin 620 Formula Ford leads Peter Larner’s Wren and another Wren – Murray Coombs’ F3 car – back to the Calder paddock as they run down the old circuit exit in 1973…

A swag of Australians pursued a motor-racing career in the UK down the decades, it would be interesting to create a definitive list. My own interest are those guys who gave it a crack that I had seen race in Australia prior to heading across the oceans to the world’s racing capital.

Those who spring to mind – its not an attempt at a definitive list from 1972 – are The Brabham Boys – Geoff, Gary and David (F3), Paul Bernasconi (F3), Chris Farrell (F3), Andrew Miedecke (F3 briefly), Gerry Witenden (FF2000), Gary Scott (F3), Lucio Cesario (WEC in Italy), Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes (F3000), Steve Harrington (F3), Mark Webber (FF), Will Power (F3), Daniel Ricciardo (FBMW), John Martin (FF)…and Terry and Larry Perkins in F3. There are others post 1972 I’ve not seen…or forgotten, so spare me the pedantry.

Let’s focus on the latter brothers, primarily their single-seater exploits in Europe, do grab a wine or a couple of Carltons before you start though, a 1,500 word quickie has become an 11,500 word epic with a tangent or three thrown in, I really have wandered all over the joint with this one…

Larry explores the limits of his Perkins Vee- Hume Weir 1969 (D Simpson)

Quite possibly the Calder meeting at which Perkins T was photographed in the opening shot in 1973, a mixed FF and ANF3 grid, common in the day. I’ll take advice on who most of the cars/drivers are but it appears to be a red Elfin 600 and a Wren on the front row. That’s Terry on row 2 in car #2 Elfin 620 whilst on row 3 on the far side is, I think, Peter Larner whilst the white #78 is Brian Sampson’s Cheetah Mk3 Toyota-unusually far back (unattributed)

The path through motor racing in Australia for the Perkins brothers from Cowangie, a small whistle-stop between Ouyen and the South Australian border, aided and encouraged by their ex-racer/rallyist father Eddie was similar.

Both started in the Victorian Formula Vee ranks and progressed to Formula Ford winning the prestigious TAA Airlines Driver To Europe Australian FF Championship, and then off to the UK they went. Larry was scooped up by Bib Stillwell into his two car Elfin 600 Formula Ford team in 1970, winning the title in 1971, whereas Terry was victorious in 1974 aboard an Elfin 620 supported by Doncaster Ford Dealership Strapp Ford. Ted Strapp was a supporter of motor racing at the time.

Larry figured he wasn’t quite ready to take his DTE prize in 1971 so stayed in Australia driving, and helping to prepare Holden Dealer Team Torana’s of various types and won the Australian F2 Championship in Garry Campbell’s Elfin 600B/E Ford, no doubt the wings-‘n-slicks circa 180bhp experience stood him in good stead when he entered F3 in 1973.

Larry in Garry Campbell’s ANF2 Elfin 600B/E during the 1972 Surfers Paradise ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’ Gold Star round. The Sydney ‘Provincial Motors’ motor dealer was a wonderful supporter of Perkins inclusive of his initial foray in Europe (G Ruckert)

There was a strong Australian contingent at Snetterton for the inaugural Formula Ford Festival in 1972, then as now the launchpad of many a Grand Prix career. The roll-call included Larry Perkins in Garrie Cooper’s first Elfin 620, John Leffler’s Bowin P4a and Bob Skelton’s Bowin P6f all arrived from Australia whereas Peter Finlay’s Palliser WDF2 and Buzz Buzaglo’s Elden Mk10A both had been campaigning in UK/Europe. Future F1 drivers Danny Sullivan, Patrick Neve and Tiff Needell, in addition to Perkins were also entered.

Buzz qualified well and finished second to Sullivan in his semi-final and was back in the pack in the final having initially run third off the front of the grid, and moving forward before the distributor moved, causing a misfire which pushed him back through the field. Best placed of the Aussies was Perkins, third in the final and at the start of a five year sojurn in Europe which took him all the way to F1.

Whilst Doug Bassett goes straight on at The Hairpin in the background, Larry Perkins Elfin 620 leads Tiff Needell, Lotus 69 at left, with Chris Smith’s Elden #44 up his chuff and Buzz Buzaglo in the distinctive, white, Falconer bodied Elden Mk10A on the inside and the rest, Snetterton FF Festival 1972

Elfin Racing Car News ad extolling the virtues of the Elfin 620. Larry took the first chassis to England having won the 1971 FF Driver to Europe award in one of Bib Stillwell’s Elfin 600s

Profile shot of the Elfin 620, Adelaide International perhaps, Terry Perkins in 1973 or 1974 (unattributed)

Perkins set about finding an F3 car for 1973 quickly. He settled on a GRD 372 Ford-Novamotor, a sound choice of car made by ex-Lotus Components lads led by David Lazenby. His campaign was funded by savings and financial assistance/sponsorship  from David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce and Garry Campbell’s Provincial Motors, both Sydney businesses, BP and Singapore Airlines. First race was at Silverstone’s short circuit on 18 March, round 2 of the BRSCC North Central Lombard F3 Championship. Larry DNF, with Alan Jones the victor in a GRD 372 at the start of a season which would finally see him break free of F3 after four years of banging away at it.

To Snetterton on April Fools Day, again DNF, Jones the winner, then to the BRDC International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone DNF, and again on April 20 DNF accident at Oulton Park – a BRSCC John Player F3 Championship round. Not a great start but it was clear he was trying hard, Larry finally got a score on the board at Mallory on April 23 during another BRSCC round, sixth in his heat and ninth in the final with Jones up front.

Perkins took in a couple of French Championship rounds on the way to the Monaco F3 GP on 1 May, starting at Magny-Cours where he finished third behind Jacques Laffitte and Jean-Pierre Paoli, the pair raced BP sponsored Martini Mk12 Ford-Holbays. At Pau on May 6 he was a DNF with Laffitte again up front. Still in France, Larry won the GP de La Chatre on 20 May to take his first win on European soil from Bernard Beguin and Laffitte.

Larry therefore went to Monaco with his tail up for the 2 June F3 GP Automobile de Monaco, but failed to qualify after an accident on lap 12 of his heat. Jacques Laffitte won the extremely prestigious race in a Martini Mk12 Ford, and raced to a European F2 Championship victory with Tico Martini the following year on his way to F1.

On June 17 he contested the Trophee d’Auvergne finishing sixth, and then on to Rouen on 24 June he was out on lap 4 due to accident damage, plenty of damage which could not be quickly repaired given the small Team Cowangie budget. The bundle of GRD bits Larry presented for inspection to Ron Tauranac referred to shortly was caused by this particular accident…

In the British GP support race Larry cadged a works Ensign LNF3 Ford from Mo Nunn. He was ninth in his heat and had an accident in the final. Another important race, this one was taken by USA’s Tony Rouff in a GRD 373, the best placed Aussies were Alan Jones, third in his GRD and Buzz Buzaglo’s splendid seventh in his smell-of-an-oily-rag budget March 723 Ford.

By 11 August Larry had convinced no less than BC Ecclestone to let him have the use of a Brabham BT41 into which Larry dropped his Ford-Novamotor engine for the Lombard F3 round at Oulton Park. DNF accident on lap 5 would not have left BCE best pleased, but nonetheless Perkins had created the start of a relationship which would see him in a bigger Brabham, an F1 jobbie in three years. Better was eleventh at Mallory on 26 August, Tony Brise was up front that day in a March 733, with further improvement to sixth at the Oulton Park BRSCC Lombard F3 round on 8 September, Brise was again the winner.

Third behind Brian Henton’s Ensign LNF3 and Tony Brise’ March 733 Ford at Brands round 11 of the BRSCC John Player British Championship on 30 September must have been a great boost to Larry’s confidence as well. A DNF followed at Oulton Park after an oil pipe failure on 7 October, the Jones boy triumphed again that day. At Mallory Park he was seventh in mid-October, then fifth, one slot in front of Jones in the Motor Show 200 at Brands on 21 October, Brise won.

Looking at 1973 in perspective, Tony Brise won the BRSCC John Player Championship by two points from Jones, Larry was twelfth, he had done well having started the process of establishing his name and racing on a wide variety of circuits in both the UK and France but he had run out of money. As a consequence his racing in 1974 was rather limited, albeit the year did include a somewhat premature, unplanned crack at F1.

Huge Brands grid 21 October 1973. Ian Taylor, March #1, Tony Brise alongside and Michel Leclere Alpine on the outside. #25 is Alan Jones GRD 372, #4 Masami Kawashima and #61 Larry Perkins, white Brabham BT41 Ford on the inside and the rest. Brise won from (K Hyndman)

Larry Perkins, Amon AF101 Ford, German GP practice, Nürburgring 3 August 1974 (Sutton)

Larry had discussed with Chris Amon joining Chris’ team in 1974 driving either a second F1 car or one adapted to F5000. No doubt Chris saw in Larry somebody who would muck-in with the build, maintenance and preparation of the cars.

When lack of sponsorship put paid to that, Larry organised a few F3 outings to keep his name out there. His first race was in a Trivellato March 743 Ford-Holbay at Monaco in May where he was seventh in his heat, but was a DNF due to accident damage after five laps in the final. That year there were sixty cars which sought to qualify for the final. He raced again for Trivellato in the Monza Lottery in June finishing ninth, and was tenth a month later at Alessandria in the Coppa Autodromo di Casale.

What should have been a career high-point was his first GP chance at the Nürburgring on 4 August aboard Amon’s car, the sub-optimal Amon AF101 Ford. The car appeared at the Nürburgring having missed a couple of races with the front brakes inboard again, the water radiators placed either side of the engine and new wings front and rear as well as lots of other bits-and-shits.

Team Chris was immediately in trouble on Friday, only one lap revealed overheating problems so the crew were kept busy modifying radiator mounts for the balance of the day. As Saturday dawned Chris had developed a streaming cold or sinusitis depending upon the source, so Larry took on the formidable challenge of qualifying the recalcitrant car on the most demanding of all circuits, not one he had raced on before and in a year when he was hardly match fit given the paucity of racing he had undertaken.

The first part of Saturday practice was dry, the second bit was wet compounding the challenge! Some reports have it that he went off but Denis Jenkinson’s account does not record that if it occurred. Unsurprisingly he missed the cut along with Francois Migault, Tim Schenken, Guy Edwards and Howden Ganley, Clay Regazzoni won that weekend in a Ferrari 312B3.

Whilst innovative, the Gordon Fowell designed, John Dalton and Chris Amon financed Amon was uncompetitive in the extreme, not even Chris’ renowned testing prowess could make it good. By the end of the season he had jumped out of the fat and into the flames and raced another shit-heap vastly beneath him in the BRM P201. He ran the car at Mosport and Watkins Glen. It’s said that there was nothing wrong with the P201 that a good ‘ole Cosworth DFV could not fix…

Redemption of Amon’s Formula One career of sorts would come in Morris Nunn’s 1976 Ensign N176 Ford in a drive which had a Larry Perkins twist we will come to shortly.

Chris Amon drove ‘all the classic marques’ of the period including BRM but the Bourne team’s ‘glory years’ of 1959 to 1971/2 were long gone by 1974, here at Mosport, 1974 Canadian GP, BRM P201 (nwmacracing)

Terry Perkins, Elfin 620, Paul Bernasconi, Mawer 004, Andrew Miedecke, Birrana F73, Peter Finlay, Palliser WDF2 and the nose of Geoff Brabham’s Bowin P6F at Oran Park in 1974. Perkins, Bernasconi and Brabham all raced Ralt RT1in Europe, Miedecke did a few races in a March 763 and Finlay had just returned to Australia having finished second in the 1973 EFDA European FF Championship in the Palliser (N Bennett)

Andrew Miedecke, Birrana F73 trying to hold off a hard charging Terry Perkins Elfin 620, with another 620 giving chase at Calder’s Tin Shed corner in 1973 (N Bennett)

While Larry was wrestling the recalcitrant Amon around the Nurburgring, by that August weekend Terry was well into his second Australian Formula Ford season which saw him win three of the ten Driver to Europe Series rounds – at Adelaide International and the Oran Park June and September rounds. His mount was an Elfin 620 albeit he won at Oran Park in September aboard Peter Lissiuk’s Titan Mk6C. Terry won the title with 71 points from Andrew Miedecke and Geoff Brabham.

I recall American visitor Peter Lissiuk’s win in this car at Sandown in July, he was one of some great drivers in a season of depth which included second placed Andrew Miedecke. He had three wins in his Birrana F73 (one of the great Australian FF chassis raced later by Richard Carter and Gary Brabham amongst others). Geoff Brabham was third in the ex-Leffler 1973 DTE winning Bowin P6F with one win, while Paul Bernasconi was fourth in the lust-worthy, ex-everybody and still extant Mawer 004 with two wins. Peter Finlay was just back from Europe mid-season in the Palliser WDF2 in which he finished third in the 1973 European FF Championship. He would be a force in 1975 with Grace Brothers sponsorship and the Pommie cars suspension optimised for the Goodyear slicks then used in Oz FF.

The grids also included later single-seater aces, Peter Larner, Elfin 600, Stephen Brook, Bowin P6F and John Davis who raced the Bowin P4X in which Jack Brabham won his last ever race, the Calder Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ in mid-1971. With his Elfin sold prior to the last round of the championship in October, Terry decided to join his Big Bro in England in 1975 with the aim of buying a Ralt, if the car looked up to snuff…

Larry Perkin’s search for a quicker F3 car for 1975 to create the forward momentum needed to capture the spotlight of those who matter coincided with Ron Tauranac’s desire to jump back into the production racing car business. Tauranac recalled Larry pulling up in front of his house with a “rather tatty Formula Three GRD which he was using in races all over Europe. I put in a few rivets for the lad and gave him some helpful advice and I had often thought it would be nice to provide him with something really competitive to race, so I decided to design a chassis which he and his mechanic could build up themselves,” Tauranac recalled in July 1978 Motorsport interview.

In another Motorsport interview he said “(Larry) had no money and asked me to help him redesign a Formula 3 car he had bought. After looking at it, I said, ‘We can do better than this’, so I built him a car with Greg Siddle doing the management bit. Larry began to progress.”

And so it was, in the final months of 1974 Ron Tauranac sat down to design “a simple, easy to maintain, yet competitive racing car, one which could be updated and modified and redeveloped as the years wore on,” arguably the RT1 was the greatest of his production racing car designs…Mind you other contenders would be the Brabham BT3/4/7/11 F1/Intercontinental, BT23/C F2, BT30/36 and lets not forget the RT2/3/4/5, and theres more…whatever the argument, the RT1 was a corker of a car in the hands of a vast number of drivers.

Alain Fenn, who had worked with Ron at Motor Racing Developments, re-joined Tauranac from Fred Opert in the US to assist with the sourcing of componentry. They identified premises at Snelgar Road, Woking and were soon underway in the build of an initial batch of five Ralts. Make that an initial batch of ‘Ralt Twos’ as the very first Ralts were built by Ron and Austin Tauranac in Sydney in the early post-war years.

The first Ralt Norton ES2 powered machine’s construction commenced in 1949 after Ron befriended the first men to build a ‘500’ in New South Wales. Jack and Bill Hooper were Sydney motor-cycle engineers, this car was powered by a Triumph single. Ron later modified the Hooper machine which Austin raced.

Ralt 1’s first event was a Sprint meeting in late 1949, later after running at the Hawkesbury hillclimb in 1950 Australian Motor Sports noted that he made a ‘promising rather than auspicious’ debut on a day when John Crouch, Australian GP winner, took FTD in a Cooper 1100. Tauranac’s relationship with Jack Brabham commenced when RT bought a 500cc MSS Velocette engine Jack had for sale, the two men, both of whom served in the RAAF towards the war’s end struck an instant rapport. As is well known, ‘Ralt’ was derived from the initials of Ronald Sidney Tauranac and his brother Austin Lewis Tauranac, viz Ron Austin Lewis Tauranac – RALT.

There is a certain symmetry about the first batch of Ralt Twos being five cars, as the batch of Ralt Ones that RT was preparing in 1960 was also a batch of five when he jumped on a plane – popping his family, wife Norma and daughter Jann on the ‘Fairsea’ from Circular Quay to Southhampton – off to the UK via an event at Riverside looking after Jack’s Cooper Monaco to join Brabham Enterprises to commence the path we all know so well. The five cars were built as Lynx Formula Juniors after Ron sold the plans and patterns for the design to Lynx Engineering for a nominal sum.

The two Perkins brothers Ralt RT1’s in the Ralt, Snelgar Road Woking factory in early 1975. #44 Larry, chassis # ‘RT1/75-2’ and Terry # ‘RT1/75-3’ (G Siddle)

The first RT1 chassis to take to the track (a total of 165 RT1s were built from 1975 to 1979) was Larry Perkins’ works loaned car- RT1/75-2, Italian Roberto Marazzi bought one (chassis RT1/75-1) via Ralt’s agent in Italy, Chuck McCarty. Ulf Svensson acquired another which went to Bertram Schafer (RT1/75-4), both McCarty and Svensson had been Brabham agents. Terry Perkins machine was RT1/75-3 and longtime Brabham customer, the very quick Hong-Konger John McDonald bought the fifth, RT1/75-5. What about that Ralt logo or wordmark? I loved it from the moment i saw it, the hippy-script was designed by thirteen year old Julie Tauranac!

Perkins, in the second year of 2-litre F3 had chosen wisely, a Ford Novamotor twin-cam was a smart choice for him as he was familiar with the engine of a car he was to self-prepare, the Toyota 2T-G Novamotor would become the engine to have before the season’s end, and was fitted to Larry’s chassis before the year ended.

Larry decided to target the FIA Formula 3 European Cup not having sufficient a budget to run the more prestigious BP series in England, mind you, some sources have it that the FIA F3 European Cup was only announced in the FIA’s June bulletin by which time three of the six Euro rounds had been run and won…

Team Cowangie had tested the car thoroughly enough before the start of the season commenced, and, critically had Greg Siddle – to become a very successful motor racing entrepreneur/driver mentor/team organiser – was in their camp. Larry was fifth at the opening BARC round at Thruxton on 31 March where Gunnar Nilsson was the winner, the first of many that year.

Siddle (an article in itself) managed the careers of Nelson Piquet and Roberto Moreno for periods of time in addition to Perkins and many others down the decades, and as a long term admirer of Tauranac “It was Siddle who nominated him and rounded up influential referees” which culminated in the award of an Order of Australia to RT in 2002, wrote Michael Stahl.

Ron Tauranac and Greg Siddle in 1975- racers both (G Siddle)

Brands Polydor Records Trophy, 7 September 1975 front row. Larry this side and Dick Parsons, Modus M1 Ford alongside – first and second – Danny Sullivan in another Modus was third (G Siddle)

Silverstone on 27 April on the short circuit was not a good weekend for the brothers with LP twelfth and DNF whilst Terry was a non-starter due to accident damage. Off to Monaco for the most prestigious race of the year, the first round of the European Championship on 10 May. Larry won his heat from Conny Anderson and Patrick Neve but was out in the final after 12 of the 25 laps with accident damage. Renzo Zorzi’s GRD 374 Lancia won. Nonetheless, an important marker had been put down, the entry list that year ran to 67 cars including the non pre-qualifiers.

Back in the UK for BARC round 5 at Thruxton on 26 May, Larry was seventh and Terry DNS with head gasket failure, Nilsson won again and then to Snetterton on 15 June, Larry was 19th and TP a no-show. Larry had missed the previous two Euro rounds at the Nürburgring on 1 June, and Anderstorp on 8 June, where Freddy Kottulinsky, Modus M1 BMW M-10 and Conny Anderson, March 753 Toyota won respectively.

Team Cowangie headed off to Italy for round four with LP winning the prestigious Monza Gran Premio della Lotteria on 29 June by forty seconds in a field which included future F1 drivers Piercarlo Ghinzani, Renzo Zorzi, Danny Sullivan, Patrick Neve, Gunnar Nilsson, Alex Ribeiro, Conny Andersson, Loris Kessel, Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi, Gianfranco Brancatelli and others.

LP was quickest in practice – which suggests the Ford-Novamotor did not lack power – and that the RT1 was a pretty slippery jigger, Larry’s task was made easier as Gunnar Nilsson had a big accident in practice and was unable to start the race. Larry had a race long scrap winning from local heroes Fernando Spreafico’s GRD 374 Toyota-Novamotor and Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi’s March 743 Toyota-Novamotor. It was a big win mentally and put some valuable funds into the team coffers.

Brands Hatch ‘Polydor Records Trophy’ meeting on 7 September. Larry in #44 won and Terry in #45 was ninth (G Siddle)

Terry’s car at Silverstone during the British GP weekend (A Raine)

Larry spins whilst a Modus and #46 Stephen South Ray BR3 go thru the Woodcote Chicane (T Marshall)

Off to Silverstone for the British GP meeting on 19 July, the FOCA Trophy, and again an important meeting with all of the F1 hierarchy in attendance. The trophy was won by Gunnar Nilsson, he took the British BP F3 Championship that year in a works March 753 Toyota. Terry had his best run of the year to finish fourth, with Larry back in ninth after recovering from an early race spin shown in the photograph above.

Perkins’ Monza victory gave him a serious tilt at the European Championship, so the team transporter headed back across the Channel to Croix-en-Ternois for the Trophee d’Arras on 20 July, the fifth round. Larry was fourth on the grid and Terry sixth in a small field of fourteen cars, with LP the winner and Terry out with accident damage after only two laps.

Then it was on to Denmark for the final Euro round at Djurslandring- the Danish Grand Prix on 2 August. In a wonderful weekend for the Brothers Perkins Terry was fourth in the first of two heats, while Larry won his, Terry bagged the 40 lap Grand Prix! It was a good win too, in front of Anders Olofsson, Conny Andersson, Renzo Zorzi and others. Larry was ninth with undisclosed dramas but had accumulated enough points to win the European Championship. His 18 points and two wins trumped Conny Andersson on 14 and Renzo Zorzi 11 points. The brothers stayed in Denmark to contest the Wrangler GP at the Jyllandsringen on 24 August finishing third and sixth, Larry from Terry with two Scandinavians up front, Jac Nelleman and Conny Andersson in GRD 375 and March 753 respectively.

Larry had a point to make back in the UK, the British F3 Championship was the toughest of F3 contests that year so it was back there to race in a few rounds of the BARC BP Super Visco British F3 Championship before the season’s end, starting with round 15 at Silverstone on 31 August. Larry finished a strong second behind Eddie Cheever, Modus M1 Toyota with Terry only two seconds adrift of Larry but still in fifth place, such was and is the competitiveness of the category. Larry used a Toyota 2T-G Novamotor engine at this meeting for the first time. A week later Larry won the Polydor Records Trophy at Brands, again Toyota powered in a field which included Danny Sullivan, Alex Ribeiro, Gunnar Nilsson, Terry (ninth), Rupert Keegan, Ingo Hoffman etc- it was a good win and indicative of the Toyota advantage over the venerable, long-lived Ford/Lotus twin-cam.

Oulton Park- Gunnar Nilsson, March 753 from Ingo Hoffman in another 753 then Larry with a bunch of three; Eddie Cheever Modus M1 on the inside then Alex Ribeiro and Stephen South both in March 753s, all Toyota 2T-G powered (Toyota)

Ralt Racing Equipe in 1975, Perkins’ RT1 with Ron Tauranac and Greg Siddle off to the right (G Siddle)

Back to Italy on 14 September for the Coppa Autodromo di Casale, on the Autodromo di Casale Monferrato at Alessandria, Larry was fifth, TP not making the trip.

Larry held his Brands Hatch form, winning the BARC BP round 16 on 21 September from Ribeiro and Nilsson, a week later at Silverstone for round 17 he was second behind Nilsson. A week further on, 4 October, the British F3 circus was at Oulton Park for the penultimate BP round, this time the winner was Ingo Hoffman’s March 753 from Alex Ribeiro, then Larry from Nilsson, Cheever, Stephen South and Rupert Keegan- 30 seconds covered these first seven cars.

Off to Thruxton for the final BP round on 26 October, Larry was fifth behind Ribeiro, Sullivan, South and Patrick Neve, Modus M1 Toyota. Then back to Thruxton again on 5 November for the BARC Forward Trust BBC-TV race of 1975 where Larry was again fourth, this time from Nilsson, Cheever and Neve. Team Cowangies’s final race for the year was at Hockenheim on 9 November when Terry raced his Ford Novamotor powered RT1 to seventh in round 12 of the German Championship at Hockenheim, Eddie Cheever won.

The team – Tauranac, Siddle, Perkins L and Perkins T – would have been pleased, make that ecstatic at the season’s results, Larry won the FIA Euro Championship with Terry was equal fourth. Conny Andersson was second and Freddy Kottulinsky third.

Despite contesting, at best, half the rounds Larry was fifth in the more important, if less outwardly prestigious BARC BP Super Visco British F3 Championship. The top four were Gunnar Nilsson, then Alex Ribeiro, both in works March 753s, then Danny Sullivan, Modus M1 and Patrick Neve, Safir RJ03. All of these fellows would race an F1 car with the exception of Terry and Kottulinsky.

Tauranac’s faith in the Perkins brothers was well founded, their speed and success in the RT1s provided a foundation piece for the Ralt sales success which was to follow over the next decade or so. Ron has been quoted many times about how Ralt was a far more profitable business than Motor Racing Developments ever was, lets not forget that first and foremost it was a family business.

Terry Perkins needed another year of F3, having established his potential clearly, no doubt the Danish Grand Prix cup still has a prominent place in his study, he returned to Australia, I’d love to hear from anybody who can tell me his story since then…

Rikky Von Opel, Ensign LNF3 Ford F3, Thruxton 1972. One can’t help but ponder the effectiveness of those wings- not so much the inclination but rather the shapes, very successful design mind you (unattributed)

Von Opel during the 1973 British GP, Ensign N173 Ford. Q21 and 13th, six laps adrift of winner, Peter Revson’s McLaren M23 Ford (unattributed)

Former Team Lotus F3 racer Morris Mo Nunn ran German nobleman and very quick driver Rikky von Opel to victory in the 1972 Lombard North Central British F3 Championship. His prototype F3 car, the Ensign LNF1 was built behind the garage of his Walsall home and was raced with success by another ex-Team Lotus F3 pilot, Bev Bond in 1971. The LNF3 was the 1972 production car was raced with success by the likes of David Purley and Colin Vandervell with Von Opel, great grandson of Opel founder Adam Opel, winner of the Lombard F3 Championship in 1972. You will recall that Larry did a race in a works Ensign LNF3 after damaging his GRD in France in mid-1973.

Keen to progress to F1 the wealthy Rikky financed Mo Nunn’s venture into F1. Dave Baldwin joined the team to work on the F3 cars while Morris designed the Grand Prix Ensign 173 which raced throughout 1973. Rikky’s best was thirteenth in the British GP at Silverstone. In 1974 von Opel decamped to Brabham early in the season after unhappiness with the team’s progress and was replaced by Vern Schuppan, Teddy Yip funded the drive, his best in the N174 (a revamped N173) was fifteenth in the Belgian GP at Zolder. Mike Wilds drove the car late in the season.

For 1975 Mo attracted sponsorship for a two car team comprising the N174 and new Ensign N175 Ford, a beautiful bit of kit, from Dutch company HB Bewaking who were insistent on Dutch drivers. Roelof Wunderink and Gijs van Lennep were signed. Van Lennep, 1971 Le Mans winner in a Porsche 917 together with Helmut Marko and very quick in a Lola T330 Chev F5000 in European F5000 in 1973 was the more successful of the two 5-litre graduates, Gijs’sixth place at Hockenheim gave Ensign their first F1 Championship points.

Late in the season Chris Amon joined the team taking a pair of twelfths and most importantly gave Nunn a driver who could develop the speed inherent in the evolved N176, which was so quick, but sadly so fragile in 1976, Chris’ last year in F1 and a period in which he showed he had lost not a tenth of the raw pace he always had.

Perkins, Ensign N175 Ford, 1976 Monaco GP practice overhead shot shows the pure lines of the Baldwin/Nunn design to good effect. Griffin helmet, looks like brake cooling was an issue- see added on ducts at the rear

During late 1975 there was a spat between Nunn and HB Bewaking which was resolved by HB taking possession of Ensign 175 chassis MN04 which had been raced by Van Lennep, Wunderink and Amon throughout 1975. Larry Perkins was chosen to drive the car in 1976. The car was prepared from the a base in Bovenkerk, Holland by the Bob and Body Hoogenboom (BOb and ROdy = Boro) with plenty of input and work from Perkins, who was very impressive in the way he went about F1 in DIY fashion! In fact F1 in the manner he had run his F3 program, necessity being the mother of invention.

Designed by the well credentialed Baldwin and Nunn, the Ensign N175 was a typical Cosworth kit car of the era with an aluminium monocoque chassis, with upper and lower wishbone front suspension, coil spring/Koni dampers, and a single top link, twin lower links, twin radius rods and coil spring/Konis at the rear. The trusty Hewland FG400 transaxle was mated to the Cosworth Ford DFV which gave around 485bhp at the time. Brakes were ventilated discs, outboard at the front and inboard at the rear.

Money was tight so Larry had done little testing by the time the team arrived at Jarama for the fourth round of the 1976 World Championship, won that year by James Hunt’s McLaren M23 after Niki Lauda nearly lost his life when his Ferrari 312T2 crashed at the Nürburgring mid-season. As is so often the case, adversity and injury creates opportunity for others and so it was for Larry later in the season, indirectly as a result of Lauda’s prang.

Larry did well upon debut, he qualified 24th and finished 13th “circulating tidily and keeping out of trouble” as Denis Jenkinson described his race, after a slow pitstop to change a flat tyre. There were six non-qualifiers that weekend among the large number of teams contesting Grands Prix at the time. Hunt won the race in his McLaren with Perkin’s F3 1975 compatriot, Gunnar Nilsson impressing all with his performance behind the wheel of a Lotus 77 Ford.

Onto Zolder, Belgium, Larry achieved his best ever GP finish, eighth from Q20 in a grid of 24. Lauda won from his teammate Clay Regazzoni in a Ferrari 312T2, Larry passed the two Shadow DN5Bs of Jean-Pierre Jarier and Tom Pryce to secure eighth behind John Watson’s Penske PC3 Ford. In the latest Ensign N176 Chris was Q8 and running fourth when a wheel detached itself from the car, causing Chris to crash and roll, but he emerged unscathed.

LP on the hop, Ensign N175, Jarama 1976

Mosport 1977. Larry Perkins in the big cumbersome Brabham BT45 Alfa in front of the big cumbersome but faster Ligier Matra of Jacques Laffitte (N MacLeod)

Despite having demonstrable F3 speed at Monaco Larry was unable to wrestle sufficient pace out of the Ensign to make the cut, but the degree of difficulty was high. He was doing much of the preparation himself inclusive of belting said self into the six-point Willans, before setting off. But hey, he was in F1 and in a decent car to boot.

At Anderstorp, Sweden, Larry had an engine failure near the chicane giving him a long walk back to the pits and plenty of time to watch the competition at close quarters as he trudged home having qualified 22ndof 26. Amon proved the pace of the N176 having put it into a stunning third on the grid and chasing Depailler hard whilst running third, only to have the left-front corner part company with the rest of the car which sailed through two catch fences and then head on into the barriers. Chris, very shaken, climbed out with badly bruised legs.

Down the back, Alan Jones qualified the Surtees TS19 with which Larry was to become familiar in 1977 eighteenth, and finished thirteenth. This was the weekend the Tyrrell P34 six-wheelers finished a marvellous one-two after Mario Andretti’s DFV went kaboomba, swallowing a piston while in the lead with his Lotus 77.

Off to the Dutch team’s home race at Zandvoort, Larry was Q19 of 26. Jenkinson commented upon Larry’s car control “…There was a lot of pressing on, even from those near the back and both Merzario and Perkins had spins leaving the Tarzan hairpin, the Australian doing a textbook job of declutching at precisely the right moment to avoid stalling the engine, keeping his sense of direction and driving off as soon as the nose swung the full 360 degrees and was pointing the right way up the course.”

Larry was given some work to do after an incident with Peterson’s March 761 late in the afternoon. “…Peterson was out in his spare March and thought he would outbrake and chop across the front of Perkins at the end of the main straight, but the Ensign driver didn’t reckon on being bullied with the result they collided and spun off the road. The Boro-Ensign was wheeled back to the pits more or less undamaged but the March had to be retrieved by a breakdown truck!” Denis recorded.

Larry ran as high as thirteenth behind Ickx, driving the Ensign N176 vacated by Chris Amon after the German Grand Prix but “spun off into the catch fences in a cloud of sand due to a moments inattention on the fast right-hand bend leading ono the main straight,” in the race won by Hunt’s M23 McLaren after a titanic dice for much of the race with Watson’s Penske.

The Italian Grand Prix was amazing as it marked the return to racing of the gritty, oh-so-tough, mentally strong Niki Lauda back in the cockpit of a Ferrari. Ronnie Peterson won that weekend taking the very first works March F1 win in a 761 Ford.

In first wet practice Larry was one of few to brave the circuit and provided an exercise in high-speed aquaplaning to the assembled masses in the pits with a big spin on the straight. Larry made good on Satuday though. “One driver who was embarrassing a lot of people was the bespectacled Australian, Larry Perkins, running his whole show himself, and recording a time that must have given him a “double-A for effort” in anyone’s book, for he split the two works Lotus drivers on the final grid.”

Larry qualified a splendid 13th of 26 and was running 13th in the race, immediately behind Jones’Surtees TS19 when his precious 3-litre Cosworth blew spectacularly whilst passing the pits. It was a cost the team could ill-afford.

It was at this point that one of the consequences of Lauda’s accident played to Perkins’ advantage.

Scuderia Ferrari immediately post-accident correctly saw Niki’s position as grim. His life was at risk in the early days post accident and even if he did survive it was far from clear that Lauda could or would race again. They needed a driver to race the second car alongside Clay Regazzoni, with Carlos Reutemann easily seduced across from Brabham where he had raced Gordon Murray’s race winning Cosworth engined BT44/44B, but was now lumbered with the Alfa Romeo flat-12 engined, heavy, unreliable BT45. Doubtless the deal Bernie did with Alfa Romeo was a good one financially but the cars were not race-winners despite the undoubted talents of the two South Americans, Reutemann and Carlos Pace.

Ecclestone recruited Rolf Stommelen to replace the car vacated by Reutemann before Monza. He did well too, Q11 and DNF, but then Bernie offered Larry the car for the last three races of 1976, the Canadian, US East and Japanese Grands Prix. If he did well there was the chance to do a full season the following year. The task was not an easy one as Pace was quick, he had three years in F1, was already a GP winner and was familiar with the BT45, he would be a tough benchmark for Larry as a teammate.

LP, BT45 Alfa Watkins Glen 1976- doncha lerv the Martini livery on any car! (D Phipps)

Perkins sitting on Carlos Pace’ BT45 in the Kendall Centre, Watkins Glen 1976 (D Phipps)

Denis Jenkinson reported the changes at Brabham in his Canadian Grand Prix race report as follows, “Bernie Ecclestone’s Martini-sponsored team brought along a brand new Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 for Carlos Pace to drive, this being chassis number 5 which featured several minor chassis alterations and weight-saving changes plus wishbone rear suspension and revised rear bodywork, with newly “faired-in” cold-air ducting for each bank of the 12-cylinder motor. The car was also using the carbon-fibre brakes once more and the Brazilian seemed reasonably happy with it on the first day, although his best of 1 min 13.438 sec. on Saturday was only 12th quickest.”

“In the second car, vacated permanently by Carlos Reutemann, Ecclestone had decided to reward the initiative and determination demonstrated by bespectacled Australian Larry Perkins whilst he was driving the old HB Ensign MNO4 in the European races he could afford to compete in. Perkins was thus installed in the second Brabham (BT45/3) and did a neat and tidy job on his first outing with a works team even though he was forced to take over the team spare BT45/1 after his original mount suffered engine failure on Friday, and then the replacement engine developed a severe internal vibration on Saturday.”

Larry qualified 19th and Pace 10th, Jones Q14. Early in the race Larry ran 14th but had “a wild old spin dropping him to last” circa lap nine. Larry finished 17th, Jones 16th and Pace seventh, the race was won by Hunt’s McLaren M23 from Patrick Depailler’s Tyrrell P34 and Mario Andretti’s Lotus 77, Lotus’ renaissance was well and truly on.

Picking up the Amon thread throughout this article, Chris cried ‘Enough!’ after the first of the two German GP race starts. Lauda’s accident was the last straw, so he stepped out of the Ensign which was so fast in his hands but so fragile too. Neither Hans Binder nor Jacky Ickx, who then drove the car made the chassis sing as Chris did.

But several races after this decision Amon was cajoled back to join Wolf-Willams, he was down to drive an Wolf-Williams FW05 in the Canadian GP. The luckless Kiwi spun “very slowly on a downhill left-hander whilst moving over to make way for a faster car during the second session. Before he could restart he was hit by Harald Ertl, who simply lost control on his own, the impact wrecking both cars and putting both drivers out of circulation with badly bruised legs and damaged muscles”, it was insult to further injury in such a mixed season for Chris.

The circus then decamped across the border to the beautiful Watkins Glen circuit in the Fingers Lake region of upstate New York.

The Glen difficult, technical circuit wasn’t one on which Larry had competed before, Q13 was a good effort only three slots behind the experienced Carlos who crashed in the race. Larry had suspension failure, a front wishbone pick-up pulled away from its mounting after the Aussie had finished 31 laps.

Their was plenty of tension in the air that weekend as the championship was at its pointy end. James Hunt needed to win to keep his hopes alive, which he duly did, taking victory from Jody Scheckter’s Tyrrell and Niki Lauda’s Ferrari.

It was the first time in a while that three Australians were on an F1 grid, Alan Jones and Warwick Brown were also race qualifiers. Chris Amon was hobbling around Watkins Glen on crutches, unable to take the start in his Wolf Williams, which had been rebuilt around a fresh monocoque. Frank Williams sought Vern Schuppan’s services but found another Australian in California instead, and so it was that F5000 ace Warwick Brown got the gig, sadly his only F1 ride.

Denis Jenkinson observed that “Larry Perkins put in a very respectable show in the second Brabham-Alfa Romeo, (in practice) lapping faster than Clay Regazzoni who tried both his regular Ferrari and the spare (028-2) during the afternoon but really seems to have lost a great deal of his determination since he has been advised that Ferrari won’t be needing his services again in 1977.”

Perkins ended up qualifying only a tenth-shy of Pace, Q13 and Q10 and ran as high as 12th in the race ahead of Jones, Ickx and Fittipaldi before yielding his place to Jones, then having the suspension failure which ended his race. Jones was Q18 and eighth after a trouble free run whilst WB was Q23 of 27 and finished 14th, slowed with gearbox problems throughout, with “the Australian driving the last few laps without third and fifth gears operative on the Williams but keeping out of everybody’s way as he did so,” wrote DSJ.

Off to the Mount Fuji and its amazing outlook to the dormant volcano for that amazingly wet race that decided the 1976 title in Hunt’s favour, the race win taken by Andretti’s Lotus 77.

Larry’s qualifying performance was ordinary- Q17 with Pace Q6 “…in Brabham BT45/3, the Brazilian having started practising with BT45/1 but taking over the newer car from team-mate Larry Perkins after it had developed a misfire. The Martini sponsored team was down to only two machines for this final race of the season as the new lightweight BT45/5 had been sent home after Pace had tangled with Mass’ McLaren at Watkins Glen and damaged the chassis quite badly in the ensuing accident.”

The start took place in diabolical conditions, but Hunt made the most of a good start and edged his McLaren into the lead whilst Larry “crept into the pits to retire his ill-handling Brabham-Alfa, the Australian’s car not feeling quite right after being hurriedly repaired after he’d crashed it during the untimed morning session.” Pace withdrew after only seven laps, having similar misgivings about the conditions as Lauda. Alan Jones was Q20 and finished a typically gritty fourth, adrift of Hunt.

And that was it, the Brabham drive for 1977 went to John Watson, on the market from Penske, and, in all the circumstances, the logical decision for Bernie Ecclestone to make.

Interlagos 1977, BRM P207. “I thought you said that was the best engine- the thing wouldn’t pull me’ granny off the top of the piss-pot at Cowangie!”- or words to that general effect

Yours for $A10,000, LP’s Griffin helmet from his Brabham Alfa and BRM days (Perkins Engineering)

To most pundits surprise BRM were returning to Grand Prix Racing in 1977, with an ‘all-new design’- the P207 was the second quickie-car from the hand of the very talented Len Terry who had first pulled the fat out of the fire for the Bourne concern with the 1968 BRM P126. With four months and a minimal budget, the car was unveiled at the swanky Dorchester Hotel on 3 December, 1976. Without time to test properly, it was given a few straight-line runs on a Cambridgeshire airfield where the it boiled as merrily in the English winter, as it did in the South American summer shortly thereafter.

Larry had a taste of how an F1 team should operate with Brabham, and was optimistic – mind you, he had to be as he was hardly spoiled for F1 choice – he joined BRM for 1977.

“Sometimes,” he says, “a driver finds himself in a good situation, the next moment you’re thinking, “Christ, will another opportunity come along?” Well, BRM came along, and I reckoned it was better than nothing. There were some capable people at BRM, and I’m a hands-on sort of guy who reckons you should be able to turn things around if you have good people around you” reflected Perkins, 26 years of age at the time.

Chief Engineer Aubrey Woods, pissed off at Len Terry’s appointment ‘over his head’, and Len, disagreed with the cause of the overheating. Woods and Perkins thought it was a radiator/airflow problem “…but I reckoned it boiled down to the design of the water pump housing. The pump I designed was intended to send the water in two directions, diagonally opposite to each other. But because of a lack of finance, the actual pump was a cobble-up of two pumps cut in half. As soon as I saw it, I knew we would have trouble with it. The interior of the pump was such that it was stirring rather than circulating – and the water was just sitting in the head.”Len Terry recalled.

This was a small problem which should have been easily solved, but the issue preventing a fix was a clash of personalities and ego. Terry, “I was saying that the main problem with the car was the engine, and Aubrey was saying it was a fundamental design problem. He wouldn’t accept it, and I wouldn’t accept it. In fact, looking back, it was neither an engine problem nor a design problem.”

Poor Perkins landed in the middle of this shit-fight, which then descended to complete farce when the car would not fit into the plane to South America from Gatwick. Measurements had been made for a commercial aircraft with two doors whereas the passenger jet on offer had only one. The steam coming out of Perkin’s ears as he awaited his team at Buenos Aires airport is reasonably easy to visualise.

Jody Scheckter shook the established McLaren/Ferrari order with a strong win in the new Harvey Postlethwaite designed Wolf WR1 Ford. A last-minute deal with Brazilian airline Varig meant the BRM arrived at Interlagos in time for the year’s second GP.

Dennis Jenkinson observed the efforts of the team when he wrote about practice in the February 1977 issue of Motorsport “…Mention of Perkins brings us to the subject of the BRM P207, that new car from Bourne which has been designed by Len Terry. Barely ready to move, let alone race, the BRM predictably overheated madly in the Brazilian heat and minor problems with certain aspects of its fuel system couldn’t detract from the fact that the whole team was in a state of total unreadiness. Perkins could only manage 2 min. 42.22 sec. with the BRM and, since we saw him qualify 12th out of 24 at Watkins Glen in a Brabham BT45, we feel we know what conclusion it would be accurate to draw. Some people never learn; or perhaps they don’t want to.”

Whilst Carlos Reutemann drove a fast, consistent race in his 312T2 to win the race, many others lost control on one particular corner which had a surface like ‘black ice’ poor Larry “Totally unnoticed by most of the spectators…crawled into the pits to retire with all of its water blown out after a single lap.” It wasn’t an auspicious start to a season which was an embarrassment to all fans of this grand-marque.

‘Yeah mate it feels great- at this speed’, LP P207 at the Dorchester launch (Getty)

Larry in the Kyalami pits, BRM P201B 1977

Kyalami was next.

The team managed a little testing at home, but broke enough bits to eliminate the use of the P207 in the South African GP. They team took a P201 instead, Perkins quipped that “I think it had Jo Siffert’s name on it”. The machine hadn’t run since Argentina 12 months before. Loaded onto the slow boat to Cape Town – there wasn’t enough cash to fly it – it arrived, according to one journalist, looking as though it had been used as the ship’s figurehead.

The frazzled team trailered it to Kyalami in what turned out to be a tragic weekend with the death of Tom Pryce and a young marshall. Larry popped the car in Q22 “…simply because it would not go any faster” – only Brett Lunger’s private March was slower. The car would do no more than 148.5mph on Kyalami’s long straight. Larry at least finished the race in 15th place albeit five laps behind the winner and bringing up the rear running on about 10 cylinders”, his hands and arms numbed by the vibration caused by missing wheel weights.

Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 won the challenging race in a Ferrari very low on water and even lower on oil as a consequence of picking up on circuit metal left by the remains of poor Tom’s Shadow and Jacques Laffitte’s Ligier on-circuit.

The P207 returned to battle in the traditional non-championship Brands Hatch’s ‘Race of Champions’ on 20 March, but withdrew when some old ‘parts bin uprights showed signs of wear. The car was far from all-new, Terry’s brief was to use as many existing components off the shelf or what Perkins described as “old rubbish recycled”.

Larry said in 2001, “You dream that someday you will become an F1 driver, and now here I was doing it. I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe that, having got there, you could be treated so badly. The car had some nice bits. The engine lacked power initially, but they found 50bhp with a new sump. It sounded beautiful. But then it would break. The gearbox was lovely, too. There were some good engineers at BRM.”

Larry was off though, he had had enough, there was no prospect of a performance improvement, indeed the car did not qualify for any race for the rest of the season despite the best efforts of Conny Andersson (Spain, where he blew an engine on the first day and the car became stuck in gear on the second. Belgium – both V12s blew. Sweden – one engine lost oil pressure, the second blew whilst a third engine flown in overnight also blew and in France where both engines blew) Guy Edwards (Silverstone) and Teddy Pilette (Germany, Holland and Itay).

‘”I wasn’t politically correct; I don’t remember having a long chat about it all, I think I just rang up and said, ‘You won’t be seeing me again’ Larry said. Len Terry left the team at about the same time. It was his last foray in F1: “There was a lot of energy and ideas, but much of it was at cross-purposes, especially between Aubrey and me. It was one big cock-up.” Woods stayed on and reckons his reworked V12 was giving a very competitive 480-490bhp. Pilette concurs, but also remembers that it kept dropping valves: “There was just no money. There was a patch on one block that was leaking. So we sealed it with Araldite”…

Perkins, BRM P201, Interlagos 1977 (unattributed)

Andersson’s BRM P207 in slight undress at Spa in 1977- front inboard rocker suspension clear, DNQ

What to do next?

Over at Team Surtees the ‘Monza Gorilla’, Vittorio Brambilla managed to blow-off all of his younger teammates, Hans Binder was his latest victim in the early races in 1977, mind you, whilst Binder qualified well behind Vittorio he did finish races Vittorio did not. Perkins was given the drive in the other TS19 Cosworth for what was said to be just the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder in early June. There he qualified the Franger F1, Durex sponsored TS19 Q23 – six spots in front of poor non-qualifier Conny Anderson in the BRM Larry had vacated, he finished a steady 12th, Vittorio was Q12 and fourth.

It is interesting to read Jenkinson’s July Motorport report of the June 5 Zolder race and the realisation of the extent of the ‘Unfair Advantage’ Colin Chapman and his team had, as expressed in the Lotus 78 Ford, some excerpts are below. Note that the first Lotus 78 Ford GP win was at Longbeach in early April and then at Jarama a week later.

“Overnight (after practice) the speed of the Lotus was discussed in all quarters. It was accepted that Andretti was a good driver, but not that good, and anyway Nilsson was well placed, so it had to be something about the Lotus 78 that Chapman and his team had done. It wasn’t super-special Cosworth engines, for Andretti was using a John Nicholson prepared engine and Nilsson was using a normal run-of-the-mill Cosworth Engineering prepared unit. Lotus had got a special-development Cosworth engine, but were not using it, it was sitting in the transporter.”

“It could not be special Goodyear tyres, because by the Constructor Association “gentleman’s agreement” everyone had the same type of tyre – or had they? It couldn’t be that Goodyear were preparing for the appearance of Michelin into Formula One, by letting some special tyres slip out. If they had, they are unlikely to have had them for Andretti and Nilsson. It could not be the special low-percentage slip differential, for Nilsson wasn’t using one.”

“The only common factor seemed to be the much-vaunted (at the beginning of the season) air-flow under the side-pods, giving additional down-force. From appearances both Lotus cars seemed to be running with their rear aerofoils at a shallower angle than most people, thus providing little down-force, but more important they were producing less drag. Observers remarked that Andretti was not only much faster round the long right-hand sweep that brings the track along behind the pits; but looked uncommonly steady. Perhaps the inverted aerofoil sections under the sides of the Lotus are now really working, having sorted out the other variables.”

“When Colin Chapman returned on Sunday morning (he had returned home to England for a family gig on Friday) he was both pleased and angry, for while he expected Andretti to be on pole position he intended that he should have done it by a few tenths of a second, not a whole second and a half. Team Lotus had shown their hand unnecessarily.”

And then this from his report of the latter race stages, “The nice drying wind was still doing its stuff and as things improved Nilsson’s Lotus came into its own and the Swede began to reduce the gap on the leading Ferrari at an astonishing rate. Within ten laps on the dry road the Lotus was right up behind the Ferrari and on lap 50 the Swede out-braked the Ferrari into the chicane behind the pits, as if he was overtaking a back-marker, and was gone over the hill into the lead, just like that. There was nothing Lauda could do about it, and with all respects to Gunnar Nilsson’s driving ability, it just had to be a case of a vastly superior car.”

“…Once away from Lauda, the younger Swede was able to ‘roll it off’ and cruise home untroubled, revving to a mere 9,500 r.p.m. in the gears, instead of the normal 10,800 r.p.m. The Lotus was just remarkable, and Nilsson was doing a great job of work with it…Nilsson cruised round to complete the 70 laps.”

The next two races were terrible for Larry, DNQs at both Anderstorp and Dijon where Brambilla was Q13/DNF and Q11/DNF respectively. In the French GP Larry drove only in Friday practice, then Big John bundled him off to one side and popped Patrick Tambay into the car, he too missed the cut.

Vern Schuppan drove the Dinger Spl at Hockenheim for Q19 of 24 and a distant seventh, a lap adrift of winner Lauda, but a finish all the same. At the Osterreichring he was Q25 of 26 and 16th, two laps adrift, then DNQ at Zandvoort with Lamberto Leoni getting the gig at Monza – DNQ…Hans Binder was reinstated at Watkins Glen, Q25 and 11th, two laps adrift…I guess the point of all of this is that it is very hard for a driver to get into some sort of rhythm-and-sync with a car and team unless there is the time and commitment to do so…

And that was it, Larry’s F1 career was over.

Belgian GP 1977 (Motorsport)

So, what do we make of it all, at least to this point in their careers?

Terry Perkins proved he deserved another year of F3 but returned to Australia, never to be heard of in a racing sense again, hopefully via this article I can fill in the last forty years or so. While I have made attempts to get in contact with Terry via social media a while back, hopefully this article will be a catalyst to make a connection and then close things off.

Larry did exceptionally well with the Ensign N175, better than Wunderink and Amon’s best results in 1975. Only Van Lennep’s sixth place bested him and let’s not forget Larry was preparing the car in addition to being chief cook and bottle washer on race weekends, perhaps only Arturo Merzario acted in this manner as a driver after Perkins did. So, the Brabham ride was well deserved.

At Watkins Glen Larry proved he could go almost as fast as Pace in the same car despite giving away three years of F1 experience and a season racing the BT45. Who knows if Bernie pulled Larry and Carlos into the pits in Japan? The net effect was that Larry lost one of his three races in which to establish his credentials. Certainly if I were Bernie I would have grabbed John Watson rather than Larry to pop into the car in 1977- shit happens.


Mind you I would have done what Larry did too in all the circumstances – make a hero of yourself in a poor car has paid off many times in the past but the Stanley Steamer was junk. Whatever management merits ‘Lord’ Louis Stanley had in the past – enabling Tony Rudd and emasculating the Ray Mays/Peter Berthon duopoly duly noted –  part of ancient history, BRM was crying out for leadership of a still good team of engineers/mechanics but the pompous stereotype of aristocratic incompetency was never the answer. Taking Rotary Watches money was almost theft. Stanley-BRM are lucky they didn’t go the wallies for deceptive conduct or something similar.

It would have been better to pop a DFV in the back of Terry’s P207 chassis, who knows how good it really was, engine problems meant decent chassis testing was never achieved, and go forward from there, put some results on the board and find the funds to build a new engine. The precedent of Bourne using engines made by others outside its cloistered high-ceilings was established. The Coventry Climax FPF 1.5 it used in F1 in 1961 and the Chevs installed in the back of the Can-Am cars in 1970/1971 are examples but Larry, unfortunately, landed in the middle of this clusterfuck and did the only reasonable thing he could do- walk, or run perhaps in the opposite direction. At least he had the satisfaction at the end of the year of knowing he did better than the poor, equally optimistic missguided souls who followed him, viz Messrs Andersson, Edwards and Pilette, not to forget Mike Wilds later.

Surtees, who knows…

Jones, Lunger, Andersson, Takahara, Binder, Perkins, Schuppan, Leoni, Tambay all didn’t do so well with the TS19 but Vittorio Brambilla made the thing go, albeit not necessarily finish. To be fair AJ did finish in the top six three times in 1976 and second in the non-championship Race of Champions behind Hunt’s McLaren M23 at Brands Hatch, and he was still on the rise as a GP driver, something made difficult for the rest of the guys mentioned above without a test session or three. It would be intriguing to know how many test laps away from a GP weekend Binder, Perkins, Tambay, Schuppan and Leoni copped from Surtees in 1977. Not many…

Jones has gone on the record in various publications about the degree of difficulty he found in getting John Surtees to make changes suspension/wing changes to the TS19, as he, Surtees had tested the car and therefore knew its attributes…to which Jones acid response was that the car handled and reacted somewhat differently when being driven on the pace than the way it did pottering around a couple of seconds off it…

Surtees was committed to Brambilla, Beta Tools money ensured that, whereas the pilots of the Durex machine were changed as often as one does a used condom..

And that was it, back to Oz Larry came.

With his blend of skills you can easily see how Larry could have become a seventies/eighties version of Frank Gardner in Europe blending an F1 test role(s) with race programs in sedans and sportscars but it was sadly not to be, he had given Europe a red-hot- go over five years and made it right near the top of the pyramid. How far had he come from rattling around the surrounding bush of Hume Weir in his FV in 1969? It was time to come home to Australia to make a living in touring cars, a taste of which he had received in his annual Sandown/Bathurst co-drives with The Captain – Peter Janson.

Larry Perkins and Gregg Hansford won the 1993 Bathurst 1000 from pole- a great win and Larry did so in a Holden VP Holden whereas most of the other GM hotshots raced Holden VP Chevs. Only Larry tickled all that was left from the venerable, old Holden ‘308’ V8 (unattributed)

The purpose of this article is not to examine Perkin’s staggering touring car race and business career once he returned to Australia at the end of 1978. He won countless races and six Bathurst 1000’s and had an amazing career as a car builder, initially leading the construction of the Holden Dealer Team cars and later on his own trading as Perkins Engineering. His own race team was successful for decades, not to forget his aviation interests or becoming the first man, together with adventurer Hans Tholstrup, to cross Australia in a solar powered vehicle in 1982, ‘The Quiet Achiever’ was built by Larry and Gary Perkins…

Once Larry returned to Australia he had not entirely finished with open-wheelers, racing David McKay/Graham Watson’s Ralt RT1 Ford BDA in the 1978 New Zealand Formula Atlantic Championship against Keke Rosberg, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Brett Riley and others. He also contested the 1979 Series against another group of young thrusters including Teo Fabi, Eje Elgh, John Smith, Jeff Wood and in 1980, but the Chevron B39 he raced that year was not the greatest or latest bit of kit.

After getting ‘match fit’ in January and February 1979 in New Zealand Larry jumped aboard a works Elfin MR8C Chev and won the 1979 Rothmans F5000 Championship from Alf Costanzo’s Lola T430 Chev and Warwick Brown’s Lola T332C/333 Chev.

He raced Paul England’s Chevron B39 at the dawn of Formula Pacific racing in Australia and the a RT4 in the first F Pac AGP in 1981…having boofed the tub of his car during practice he quickly organised a spare from Ron Tauranac who was roaming the paddock that weekend, I watched, fascinated for a long while at Larry’s efficient pace at getting the good bits from the rooted tub on to the newie, the practical skills which helped get him to F1 were still well in evidence and are still deployed today.

Click here for some of LP’s latest exploits…

Larry Perkins, Mercedes F1 in the Northern Territory. Mercedes Benz Unimog U4000 (P Blakeman)

Other Larry Perkins articles are here;  and here; ,


Larry grew up on a farm at Cowangie in Victoria’s Mallee, wheat farming country on the Ouyen Highway not far from the South Australian border, Adelaide is 290km due west and Melbourne 540km to the south.

Larry’s grandfather, Clifton Perkins was granted 793 acres under the Soldier Settlement Scheme after World War 1, having served and been injured during the Battle of the Somme as a member of the 1st Australian Imperial Force.

Larry’s father, Eddie Perkins, a racer/rallyist gave him a love of all things mechanical and the basic skills Perkins deployed to great effect in both his racing and business career. For the record, LP was born at Murrayville on 18 March 1950, his full name is Larry Clifton Perkins.


Larrikins does his thing in the Warwick Farm Esses during his successful 1971 Driver to Europe campaign.

Former Australian Gold Star Champion Bib Stillwell (or perhaps more accurately ‘BS Stillwell Ford’) owned two Elfin 600s, Richard Knight won the 1970 championship in one of them with Perkins in the other car, whilst Larry’s sidekick in 1971 was Mike Stillwell, Bib’s son, who was pretty handy in Formula Ford, after a brief stint in an ANF2 Elfin 622 he found his niche in a Ford Escort BDG, remember how he made that thing sing in 1972-3?

Bib sold the two 600s at the end of 1971, a bummer, as these drives were eagerly sought seats at the time, he was not the only Ford dealer who supported a car at the time but he was the only one who did it ‘properly’- good budget, well prepared cars with the best of everything.

Chris Amon and the boys chew the fat at Monza during the Italian GP weekend in September 1974.

‘WTF do we do now guys?’ seems to be the vibe of dejection.

The Amon AF101 was a noble if misguided attempt at building an innovative, competitive Cosworth/Hewland ‘kit’ GP car, but Chris was off to BRM enroute to a better situation at Ensign. Whilst No Nunn gave Chris a competitive car in the N176 it was the last straw in the sense that the cars fragility and resultant accidents ‘did Chris’ head in’ as to confidence in the equipment and the Kiwis’ view as to the probable longevity of his life…

As a devout, one-eyed, hopelessly biased Chris Amon fan, the 1973 to 1976 period brings absolute frustration at such a waste of talent driving, mainly, GP junk.

Seldom has a ‘DIY’ F1 effort done so well in the modern era- Bob Anderson springs to mind with his self run Brabhams in the sixties. I don’t think Larry has ever really got the credit he deserves for his stint in Ensign 175 ‘MN04’.

(D Phipps)

The Alfa Romeo 3 litre flat-12 installation in the Brabham BT45 at Mosport in 1976. Circa ? bhp but with significant bulk and thirst, just fine in the 33TT/12 sportscar but sub-optimal as an F1 engine.

A trio of Belgian Grand Prix shots at Zolder in 1976- the car is TS19-1, the first chassis built raced by Brett Lunger and Henri Pescarolo in 1976, Hans Binder and Vittorio Brambilla as well as Perkins in 1977.

Perkins practiced TS19-2, the chassis Alan Jones raced in 1976, at Anderstorp and in Dijon first practice- Surtees gave the race drive to Patrick Tambay.


Motorsport articles published in July 1978, January 1994, July 2001 and January 2014 written by M.C.S, MK, Paul Fearnley and Michael Stahl respectively. Motorsport 1976 and 1977 GP race reports by Denis Jenkinson. F2Index F3 race results,

Photo Credits…

Alan Raine, Greg Siddle Collection, Graham Ruckert, Yoshiaki Hirano, nwmacracing, Mike Dixon, Ken Hyndman,, Tim Marshall, Peter Blakeman, Motorsport/D Phipps, Eric Hautekeete, Nick Bennett Collection, Sutton Images, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Larrikins Ralt RT1 BMW, Thruxton 1978…

(Y Hirano)

Larry aboard the Manfred Cassani owned Ralt RT1 BMW during the first round on the 1978 European Formula Two Championship at Thruxton on 27 March 1978, Bruno Giacomelli won that weekend, and the title that year, in one of the great F2 Marches, a 782 BMW.

In a one-off drive Larry  was the first RT1 home in ninth place behind six 782s and a duo of Chevron B42’s.

LP was RT1 fit, he had raced the David McKay/Scuderia Veloce Formula Pacific variant in the 1978 New Zealand Formula Atlantic Championship against the likes of winner Keke Rosberg, finishing second in the series against the might of Fred Opert Racing.

An aside is that on the same day Larry raced at Thruxton the next generation of Australian RT1 hopefuls contested the BP British F3 Championship 15 lapper. Paul Bernasconi was seventh, Geoff Brabham ninth and Gary Scott 12th- the only interloper was Barry Green’s 16th in a Chevron B38, he of Elfin 620B Formula Ford and Indycar owner fame.

Derek Warwick won that day from Nelson Piquet, both aboard RT1’s.


In Australia at least, there has never been anything quite like the sphincter-puckering blend of excitement and fear as a 10,000bhp grid of 20 5-litre, fuel injected, thundering V8 missiles are launched by their intrepid pilots.

Many thanks to Michael Strudwick for his photographic artistry.

Warwick Brown, Racing Team VDS Lola T430 Chev gets the jump from pole here at the Surfers Paradise, Rothmans International Series round in February 1977. Quite where Peter Gethin and Vern Schuppan – second and third on the grid – are out of shot I’m intrigued to know. John Leffler is in the white Lola T400 Chev with the partially obscured Alfredo Costanzo’s red Lola T332 Chev behind him. The white helmeted dude behind Brown is Alan Jones aboard Kevin Bartlett’s T332. The Jones boy had crashed and written-off his newish Sid Taylor-Teddy Yip Lola T332C in practice so the pair did a lease-deal to allow AJ to race KB’s car. The blue machine to the right of Jones and back is John Goss’ Matich A51/A53 Repco-Holden.

Alan Jones blasts down Surfers main straight in Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T332 Chev HU22, fifth place (M Strudwick)
Goss’ fourth placed Matich A51/A53 Repco Holden. #005 is one of the two A51s FM took to the US in 1973, and later updated by Goss and Grant O’Neill to A53 side-radiator – and the rest – specifications. This is Goss’ ’76 AGP winning chassis (M Strudwick)
Duulling T332s; great Kiwi Graeme Lawrence HU28 in blue, tenth place, and great Italian/Australian Alfie Costanzo’s ex-Bob Evans HU36 in red, DNF engine. Lola perves will note the 332C factory engine cover come air intake on Alf’s car compared with the very neat one produced by Graeme and his crew in NZ – always distinctive on this car (M Strudwick)

Brown won the race from pole, Peter Gethin’s VDS Chevron B37 Chev was second – the budget required to maintain adequate spares for two different makes within the one team doesn’t bare thinking about – then Leffler, Goss and Jones.

It was a great Rothmans International Series, the three big international Aussies at the time were Jones, Brown and Vern Schuppan, who raced a works Elfin MR8C Chev. The strongest locals were Goss, reigning Australian GP winner, the Lolas of Bartlett, Leffler, Costanzo and Max Stewart, plus John McCormack’s fast but brittle ex-F1 McLaren M23 Leyland.

Brown won two races, Surfers and the AGP at Oran Park, the opening round on February 6. Jones – on the front row alongside poleman Brown – jumped the start at Oran Park by a fortnight, so was pinged a one-minute penalty which he could not make up, so the AGP went to Brown, from Gethin, Goss, Jones and Schuppan.

Karma ruled in that WB got the AGP win he should have had in 1974 at Oran Park, and Jones got his at Calder in 1980. That day he disappeared into the distance in the Formula Libre event aboard one of his works Williams FW07 Fords.

John McCormack tips his one-of-a-kind ex-F1 McLaren M23 #2 Repco-Irving-McCormack Leyland into the harry-flatters-in-top big-balls right hander under Dunlop Bridge Last man standing in an open-face helmet at this level. The integration of the Leyland P76 aluminium V8 into the space usually occupied by a Cosworth DFV was superbly done, without butchery to the chassis. No matter what they did to that motor, new heads and all, it was always a Hail Mary jobbie by the mechanics as they waved J-Mac onto the circuit. He was 12th and last at Surfers. Still, he won the 1977 Gold Star with it (M Strudwick)
The business end of Max Stewart’s Lola T400 Chev, HU3. DNF dropped valve. MS probably won more races than anyone else on the planet in a T400, including the 1975 AGP – at Surfers – in HU2. Max got better and better as he aged, but died in this car at Calder a month later, March 16. The saddest day I’ve ever had at a race track (M Strudwick)
John Leffler in the gorgeous Grace Bros (chain of NSW department stores) liveried Lola T400 Chev HU15, third place. Won the 1976 Gold Star in it (M Strudwick)

Surfers was the second round, the circus then travelled 1,750km south to Sandown Park in Melbourne’s southern suburbs from the Gold Coast. During that week Sid Taylor brought a replacement T332 to Australia for Jones, who put it third on the grid behind Gethin and Schuppan. Brown shoved the nose of his Lola under the Dandenong Road fence during the warm-up lap, so the man in grid-slot four couldn’t take the start.

Jones jumped Gethin and Schuppan at the drop of the flag – remember those? – but one-by-one, in turn, each of Alan, Peter and Vern retired with overheating, fuel pressure and engine failure respectively. Max Stewart took a popular win from Costanzo, Garrie Cooper in the Elfin chief’s MR8C Chev, Dave Powell in the very first Matich A50 Repco-Holden and McCormack’s McLaren, seven laps adrift.

Off to Adelaide for the final round on February 27, Jones finally won the round he had been threatening to do from the off. He was awesome to watch in these cars, thrilling.

Other than those who had last seen him compete at Sandown in the 3-Hour Production Touring Car race in 1968 (second in a Holden Monaro GTS327 shared with Clive Millis), it was the first time Australian fans had the chance to see him in action. He had been paying his dues in the UK and Europe climbing the greasy-pole in the interim. As a kid, Jones was a silver-spoon-special but by the time he embarked on his racing career, father Stan’s money was long- gone. Jones did it the hard way.

Jones was on pole at Adelaide International, from Brown’s repaired Lola T430 by a half-second, and won the hot race from Brown, Goss, Gethin and Stewart.

Brown won the 1977 Rothmans International Series with 24 points from his team-mate Peter Gethin’s 15, and Alan Jones, third on 14 points.

Peter Gethin in the VDS Chevron B37 Chev #37-76-01, second place. Some of you may have seen it raced by Gethin and Pilette in the US, some by Gethin in Australia and some by Bruce Allison in Australia and in the UK in the 1977 UK Group 8 Championship. Bruce did so well that year he won the premier Grovewood Award (M Strudwick)
The one-off Jaime Gard built Gardos OR2 Repco Holden was built for Perth entrepreneur Don O’Sullivan. Here, Chev powered, it’s being fettled for Adelaide driver Chris Milton (M Strudwick)
Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8C Chev #8761. Pretty much the equal of the best F5000s, the three MR8s were raced with success by Vern Schuppan, John Bowe, Larry Perkins and James Hunt (M Strudwick)

Formula 5000 was at a crossroads when it was shot in the head at the end of 1976 by the Americans. They wanted Can-Am type crowds, so they ditched F5000-Formula Lola and created…central-seat sportcar-Formula Lola. The Lola T332 had been the star of the show since 1974, and the T332 decked out in a less attractive frock remained the star of the show – as the T332CS/T333CS – into the late 1970’s.

Those other countries who had F5000 as a premier/key category therefore had decisions to make, car constructors would react accordingly and change their focus as the biggest market changed direction.

In our neck of the Tasman-woods the Kiwis jumped with Formula Atlantic as their national premier class, while Australia stuck with F5000 for waaaay too long. New Zealand got the very best of Formula Atlantic chassis diversity and young thruster drivers from the US and Europe, by the time Australia really committed to Formula Atlantic/Pacific, the chassis interest was gone, it had become Formula RT4 (Ralt).

Tasmanian racer David Powell aboard the very first F5000 Matich, A50 #001 Repco Holden. FM’s 1971 AGP and 1972 Gold Star winner (M Strudwick)
American racer Ed Polley’s Polley EP1 #76-13, Lola T332 copy. Polley had a background in big bore sports cars and sprint cars before graduating to F5000 in the US (M Strudwick)
Goss, A51/A53. Relatively light car, the flat plane crank Repco’s gave 520bhp without loss of their legendary flat-fat torque curve. Repco Engine Developments exited Australian motor racing in July 1974 so development of this engine, and then new Repco Leyland V8, stopped then. Phil Irving/John McCormack later evolution of the Leyland unit duly noted (M Strudwick)


Michael Strudwick,


(M Strudwick)

Warwick Brown’s VDS Lola T430 Chev #HU2 in the Surfers Paradise pitlane.

VDS bought two new T430s for the 1976 US F5000 Championship. Brown raced this car twice in the US, then throughout the ’77 Rothmans before HU1 and HU2 were acquired by Australian Porsche importer/racer/team owner – and thoroughly great bloke – Alan Hamilton at the end of the series.

‘Hammo’ raced HU2 for the balance of 1977 and into 1978 – Derek Bell’s drive at Oran Park in the ’78 Rothmans round duly noted – until nearly killing himself in it in a high speed accident at Sandown’s Causeway during the ’78 AGP. While Hamilton survived, HU2 was broken in two.

HU1 (below) was then built up by the Porsche Cars Australia crew led by Jim Hardman, and raced by Alf Costanzo to many race wins, and one Gold Star for Hamilton (1980) in a long relationship which also achieved much success with a McLaren M26 Chev and several Tiga Formula Pacific chassis.

The Hamilton/Costanzo T430 HU1 being tended to at Calder circa 1979-80 (M Strudwick)

Lola returned to the brew which started their F5000 run of success when they married an F2 T240 chassis with a 5-litre Chev V8 and Hewland DG300 transaxle to create the T300 raced by Frank Gardner in later 1971. Gardner, then Lola’s development driver/engineer and works driver, and Lola’s Bob Marston concepted the T242 prototype, and T300 production models.

The 1976 T430 – nicknamed The Flying Bracket by VDS mechanics – was a blend of T360 Formula Atlantic chassis, 520bhp’ish 5-litre Chev and DG300.

The Americans were very attached to their T332s, even moreso after the initial lack of speed of Lola’s 1975 variable rate suspension T400, so they stuck with, or bought new T332/T332Cs rather than the T430, only three of which were sold – to VDS and Carl Haas. Lola’s T400 update kit worked, the two VDS cars were quick in Europe, as were Max Stewart’s and John Leffler’s in Australia, but the Americans weren’t convinced.

All three T430s are extant in New Zealand, where HU2 was reconstructed around its chassis plate which for many years was on the pinboard in Hamiltons’ Church Street Richmond office!

More F5000 to keep you going for an hour or so; Which was the quicker, F5000 or F1? the ex-Revson/Charlton John McCormack McLaren M23 Leyland Frank Matich’ A50-A53 F5000 cars Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MR8s and Vern Schuppan’s Elfin MR8 Can-Am not to forget the Lola T300 Then there is Warwick Brown and a bit on Max Stewart


Jack Brabham put the cat amongst the Indy pigeons in 1961 together with John Cooper. Their Cooper T54 Climax FPF 2.7 blew the minds of the establishment. They were stunned by the speed of the itty-bitty, mid-engined roller-skate despite giving away 1.5-litres to the bulky Offy engined roadsters – which hung onto The Milk until 1965 of course.

Brabham returned in 1964 with Ron Tauranac’s BT11 derived, spaceframe BT12 powered this time by an injected 4.2-litre Offenhauser twin-cam, two-valve four. The pacey package also featured a robust Colotti Francis T37 transaxle.

BT12-1 in build at Motor Racing Developments, Weybridge, Surrey circa April 1964. Long-stroke, 4128cc, 420bhp @ 6600rpm Offy sits tall in the frame, Colotti-Francis GSD transaxle and inverted lower wishbone, single top link, two radius rods and coil spring/shocks, rear discs, knock on hubs and beefy driveshafts all clear (MotorSport)
Spaceframe chassis, upper and lower wishbone/coil spring-shock and roll bar suspension. Note the bungee’d in place oil tank and top-of-chassis little fuel tank. Note too the main tanks offset to keep the bulk to the inside. About 59 gallons of fuel when full (MotorSport)
Indy 1964 (MotorSport)

Jack didn’t qualify well with a multitude of problems, not least spring/shocks which were way too soft (as specified by car owner John Zinc), and time, pulled as he was by his GP commitments to straddle both sides of the Atlantic.

Famously wary at the start of that race – having been warned about how dangerous the Mickey Thompson built Thompson Ford was by Masten Gregory, who didn’t qualify his – Brabham picked up a small fracture in one of those ginormous aluminium fuel tanks in the horrific lap two accident caused by Dave MacDonald losing control of his Thompson Ford in the middle of the field. MacDonald, very much a man of the future, and the much-loved Eddie Sachs, Halibrand Ford, perished in the horrific conflagration. Brabham was out after 77 laps, the race was won by AJ Foyt’s Watson Offy from the similar front-engined roadsters of Rodger Ward and Lloyd Ruby.

Jim McElreath on the way to victory in the Trenton 500 during 1965, Brabham BT12 Offy. Note in the other Trenton shot below the symmetrical fuel tank setup compared with Jack’s at Indy the year before (DJ Teece)

When Jack returned to Europe, the John Zinc owned car was raced with plenty of speed by Jim McElreath, and a few decent hits too. The final shunt at Indy was a biggie, it wasn’t worth repairing the mild steel tube frame, in part because it would not have been legal under USAC’s 1965 rules.

Clint Brawner therefore built two chrome-moly steel tube copies of the BT12 late in 1964, one for Zinc/McElreath, and one for his – Al Dean sponsored – outfit to be driven by a talented young rookie named Mario Andretti.

A very young and happy Mario Andretti at Indianapolis in 1965 aboard the Brabham BT12 Ford aka Hawk 1 65 Ford. Apart from the Ford V8 installation note the changes to the bodywork which were thought later to provide some ground effect. This car was a rocket in 1965-66 despite the presence of plenty of Lotus 34 and 38 machines (unattributed)
The Dean Van Lines/Brawner outfit called their Brabham BT12 Ford a Brabham for a while, as proved above. They then named it a Hawk, and later a Brawner Hawk, not unreasonable given the evolution of the body and modifications to fit the Ford Indy V8
Andretti during practice at Indy in 1966. Still aboard his favourite BT12/ Hawk 1 65 Ford. He raced with #1, popped the car on pole, choosing to race it rather than the Lotus 38 he also had at his disposal (Dave Friedman/MotorSport)

Andretti loved the ‘Hawk Ford’ (chassis Hawk 1 65), winning the USAC Championship in it in 1965-66. In ‘65, McElreath was one of his closest competitors in the Zinc Brabham Offy, finishing third. The following year he went one better and placed second to the future 1978 F1 World Champ, this time Ford Indy V8 powered.

Another two BT12 copies were built for Jim Hayhoe’s outfit, with drawings provided, perhaps, via Jack Brabham in 1968.

One of these Offy powered BT12s, with suitably updated body by Jud Phillips, finished fifth in the 1971 Indy 500 as the catchily named Sugaripe Prune Spl with Billy Vukovich at the wheel. In a strong year for the seven year old design, and three year old chassis, Vukovich was third in the USAC points table. His haul included two third placings at Milwaukee and Phoenix, and a staggering second to Mark Donohue’s state-of-the-art Penske McLaren M16A Offy at Michigan.

Bill Vukovich, Brabham BT12 Offy t/c at Indy in 1971, looking slightly different! to Jack’s BT12 Offy seven years before. I dare say the suspension geometry copped a tickle to accommodate the advance of tyre technology over that period (IMS)
Rick Muther in the ex-Andretti BT12/Hawk 1 65 chassis, now fitted with an Offy turbo at Indy in 1970. Q15 and eighth, race won by Al Unser, Colt 70 Ford
Shit shot of a Fugly Cup contender. Rick Muther in the ex-Andretti Hawk 1 65 Offy t/c before the 1971 Indy 500 (unattributed)
Muther, hanging onto his helmet while travelling sideways along Indy’s front chute at well over 120mph – no he didn’t go over. Chassis a tad second hand after this lot, Indy 1971

Equally amazing was that Andretti’s old nail – the Hawk 1 65 – that he raced so successfully in 1965-66, by then owned by Jack Adams, also started the 1970 and that ’71 500 with Rick Muther the driver.

The Offy powered, Arkansas Aviation entered car was involved in a spectacular accident with David Hobbs’ Penske Lola after completing 85 laps of the race won by Al Unser’s Colt 71 Ford. Hobbs engine blew, then Muther, immediately behind him swerved in avoidance, pegged the inside wall, then veered right into Hobbs’ path and the outside wall, taking both of them out in a lucky escape.

Who said that spaceframes were old hat by the end of 1962!?

Spaceframe BT12 out front of MRD. Note the Halibrand wheels (MotorSport)


The MotorSport Images shots at MRD were taken by David Phipps, DJ Teece, Indy Motor Speedway, Bill Daniels Collectibles

As always, thanks to Allen Brown’s mind-blowing – racing car history results and database website. I simply cannot get the level of historic accuracy – facts – into some of these articles without his one-of-a-kind website. Click on this link to Allen’s main Indy page Indy 500 and USAC racing 1971-1978 « then you can scroll for yourself through far more details about the BT12 cars; Brabham, Hawk and Hayhoe


Brabham ready to boogie aboard the Zinc Trackburner Special on raceday at Indianapolis in 1964.

Such an influential car the BT12, an unsung, or at least an under-recognised Brabham in some ways.


(Blackwood Times)

Osborne Scott ‘Ossie’ Cranston (1899 or 1903 – July 1, 1982) was one of Western Australia’s aces at a time Perth was a long way from the eastern seaboard (sic).

To race his Ford V8 Special in the December 26, 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix (the 1936 Australian Grand Prix) at Victor Harbor required shipping his car on the interstate passenger liner, the Manoora, on the Tuesday before the race, from Fremantle to Port Adelaide. A trip to Melbourne is a lot further and Sydney even more. So race-fans in the more populous states of the nascent country of Australia didn’t see many of the faster West Australian cars, despite their thriving motoring scene.

Cranston and passenger en-route to victory, Ford V8 in the 10 Mile race at Lake Perkolilli in 1936. Standard wheelbase, chassis and hubcaps! clear. Wearing his dealer hat, Cranston’s modifications trod a sensible path between performance and familial connection to Ford’s standard offerings on his dealership forecourt. It’s attractive, the fin and stylised V8 logo are neat touches which take the eye off that long wheelbase. Fast car indeed (Kalgoorlie Miner)
Osborne Scott Cranston in his mid-thirties, as the Sunday Times artist saw him in 1937

In that sense, Cranston’s Victor Harbor (correct spelling) achievement was a great one over the more fancied Bugatti T37As, MG K3s, Frank Kleinig’s Kirby Deering Special and Hudson Special (he raced the latter) and Jack Phillips’ Ford V8 Special. Not that Cranston won the race.

Australian Grands Prix, until the dawn of the 1950s, were handicap events given the shortage of racing cars spread across a huge space – Australia is a big joint, have a look at a map one day – and the vast disparity in performance between those cars. Cranston did the fastest elapsed time but finished sixth on handicap. Les Murphy won the 250 mile race in an MG P-Type. See here for a long epic on this race around a rectangular 7 4/5 mile, sandy-gravel course, between Victor Harbor and Port Elliot. ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’ 26 December 1936 aka 1937 Australian Grand Prix…… | primotipo…

Cranston, Ford V8 Spl, Lake Perkolilli date unknown (unattributed via Graeme Cocks)
Arthur Colliver, Chrysler 70 ‘Silverwings’, Bugatti T37 driven by the Perth importer, Cyril Poole (or AN Other), Cranston in Ford T Heza-Henry and Jack Smith, Buick Spl, Lake Perkolilli 1927 (SLWA))

Cranston’s car started life as a 1935 model (1933 in some references) Ford V8 utility. It was then modified with a light racing body – the long tapered body with fin atop was fitted in 1935 – magneto ignition, competition exhaust manifold, flattened road springs and two Winfield carburettors in place of the single standard item. “Otherwise”, the ‘papers of the day reported, “the car is identical with the Ford V8s sold by Lynas Motors Ltd”, the Hay Street, Perth, Ford dealership of which Cranston was a partner/shareholder with V Lynas and J Victor Pascoe. Later fitted the with a ’36-model radiator, it was then erroneously and continuously called a ‘1936 car’.

I won’t repeat the successes of the car at Lake Perkolilli and other Western Australia venues already outlined in the opening image.

Cranston grew up in the comfortable surroundings of Swanbourne Beach. He began his working career as an apprentice mechanic with Grave and Dyer, working on Standard and Imperial cars. The business was Perth’s first Ford Dealer, over 15 years he rose through the ranks to become Works Manager. From there, Cranston was recruited by Ford as Works Superintendent of their assembly plant at North Fremantle. Later, he and his partners, former colleagues from Grave and Dyer, formed Lynas Motors Ltd.

Cranston with 3.5hp Triumph circa 1920 (Sunday Times)

In 1917 (or 1919) Ossie took up motorcycle racing, he won his first competitive race, the three-mile Charity Handicap at the WACA, riding a Triumph “in a brilliant performance for a novice.” He raced mainly on the grass tracks at Claremont Showground, Loton Park and on the road riding Indians and Triumphs for the Armstrong Cycle and Motor Agency. Six track/road championships followed, one “was recognised by Triumph in England with a gold medal and a particularly eulogistic letter of appreciation,” the Sunday Times wrote.

A large crash at Claremont in 1922 encouraged a shift to four-wheels. While still at Grave and Dwyer, he initially drove a Ford Model-T in hillclimbs, setting many fastest times in a car affectionately nicknamed ‘Heza Henry’. Hez had a hand-formed, torpedo-shaped rear which incorporated ‘guards for the road which were removed for competition work. It did 68mpg on the Perkolilli claypan in 1927.

With the introduction of the Model-A, Ossie built up ‘Cactus’. It had a less refined vinyl boat-tail body than Heza, from the dashboard back, two bucket seats and a fairing in front of the driver. Various engines were fitted along the way but the body was a constant.

Cranston in the Ford T-Spl Heza-Henry and JC Smith, Buick Spl, Lake Perkolilli 1927 (SLWA)
Ford A-Spl Cactus at Perkolilli, year unknown. Intrigued to know which of the Perth artisans built the various Cranston bodies (G Cocks Collection)

Well suited to hillclimbing but not so much Perkolilli’s long curves, he still finished third behind the Armstrong driven Auburn and Colliver Chrysler in the RACWA State 20 Mile Championship in 1929. He won the 10 Mile handicap that day too, claiming that the car was capable of 100mph. Cranston went one better in 1930 taking 10 Mile Lake Perkolilli State Championship.

The 3.3-litre, four cylinder, side-valve – for a while supercharged – engine had a range of modifications to the cylinder head, carburetors, intake and exhaust systems and a taller top (third) gear fitted to Ford’s coupe.

Further success ensued throughout 1931-32 at Whittakers Hill, North Dandalup, Lake Pinjar, Bunbury Beach, and Whittakers and Greenmount Hills. By late 1931 Cactus maxxed out at 89 mph to win the flying quarter-mile event at Wattle Grove.

In 1932 the Brooklands Speedway opened (on the West Subiaco aerodrome site), where Perry Lakes and the Uni WA sportsgrounds are today. Brooklyn had only a short commercial life, but Cranston – belted pretty hard by the handicappers – set a four-lap record for the one-mile, limestone track in 4 mins 38 secs in 1932, not too long before Cactus was retired.

Perth’s finest with their Bentley Speed Six’ (chassis LR2783 and LR2785) during their long period, 1930-1947, of service. Coachwork by Bryan’s Motor Body Works, 522A Hay Street, Perth, close to Lynas Motors. Cars extant, ‘Bentley Patrol’ is a whole story in itself! (WA Govt)
(The Daily News, September 21, 1933)

One of the more bizarre days of Cranston’s long life was a police invitation for he and Cactus to join a posse of cars to help catch some baddies in September 1933. Said crooks were committing smash and grab robberies in the country, then escaping in a stolen, fast, ‘high powered car’.

The police generals figured they needed more pursuit cars capable of in excess of 80mph, than their two 6.5-litre Bentley Speed Sixes. Yes folks, the WA police were the only wallopers on the planet to have these expensive blue-bloods as patrol cars. The plan was to create a cordon around Perth to chase down and catch the dirty-rats. So, some racers were recruited as Deputy Sherriffs including OS Cranston.

While Cactus wasn’t involved in a high speed chase, the four-perps (police talk I believe) ran off the road alongside where Cactus was parked, near the gate of the national park at Greenmount (23km east of Perth). They were arrested with a cache of stolen goods found close by.

In another bizarre, only-in-Australia moment, the handcuffed crooks were kept warm beside a fire lit by the coppers while Cranston high-tailed it back to Perth in Cactus. The Bentleys had radios, no other WA police cars did, Ossie’s mission was to give the good news to senior police and organise a patrol car to take the shaken, but warm robbers back to the city lock-up…

Sunday Times, June 30, 1935

By 1934 Cranston was quite the man about town too. In addition to his Lynas responsibilities he was a director of Rural Motors Ltd, Bunbury Motor Estates Ltd and General Investment Co Ltd, which provided consumer finance for Fords. He was also the director of several companies outside the motor trade.

Wearing his Lynas Motors hat Ossie travelled to ‘The Orient’ (is that term a no-no these days, one never hears it used?) in mid-1934. “Wherever you go you’ll see a Ford,” he quipped to the Perth Mirror on his return.

Cranston was amazed by the number of baby Fords in Singapore and amused that the first news he received in Ceylon was about the success of a small Ford in a local hillclimb. In Java he observed that cars were ancient, “the post Depression prices of sugar and rubber are low.”

Things were better in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Siam made the railways pay, “with no roads between the principal centres people are forced to use the trains!”

Asked about the new Datson (sic, the machine would have been the Datsun – Nissan – Type 13) car, “a new light job similar to the 7hp units with which we are all familiar, being built in Japan.” Cranston said “I didn’t see one on the trip. Agents have been appointed in various centres of the orient, but it’s unlikely any are expected in Australia.” Not for three decades or so, in any event!

The Daily News, November 19, 1935

In 1934 Cranston returned to racing with the Ford V8, setting a new Australian record at Perkolilli over 10 miles (16 kilometres) at an average speed of 97.61mph (157 km/h), and later a new State record of 111.1mph (178.8km/h) over a flying quarter-mile on Nicholson Road, Cannington, beating the record set in the Model-A.

After success in the South Australian Centenary Grand Prix, held at Victor Cranston told the Motorist and Wheelman that he was retiring from racing because he was “too old”.

Ford recognised his contribution to the sport and polishing the marque’s brand via his racing exploits over a long period with the presentation of a ‘gold wristlet’ at a function of dealers in Perth in April 1937.

His final motor racing event – just before the lights-went-out in WW2 – was the Patriotic Grand Prix, held on the Applecross streets of Perth in November 1940.

Following Cranston’s decision to retire, he sold the Ford V8 racer to Bathurst Ford dealer and 1920-30s intercity record breaker Norman Aubin. John Medley wrote that Aubin prepared the cream and green car for 27-year-old local driver, George Reed to race in the 1938 AGP held at Bathurst.

Reed’s race was brief as the big car spat its fan through the radiator early on. It would be interesting to know what the young driver thought of Cranston’s car. He was to build some very fine Ford V8 Specials of his own, including the George Reed Special Warwick Pratley raced to AGP victory around-the-houses at Narrogin, Western Australia in 1951.

The ’38 AGP was won by British international Peter Whitehead’s ERA B-Type. After that Easter meeting, Aubin sold it to a Sydney buyer, who repainted it red, but it never raced again.

Another report has it that the car was sold to an eastern states competitor who was killed in it at Bathurst. The engine was fitted to a speedboat and the chassis stored for a bit before being destroyed. Does anybody know the facts?

In 1983 Clem Dwyer started the build of a replica which remains a welcome competitor in historic events.

Cranston and passenger (who?) in the Ford V8 ahead of a Lagonda at Albany in 1936. This downhill stretch would have been a serious test of the brakes of the day (K Devine)
Ossie’s Ode to the Backmarkers. Perhaps Max Verstappen could try that approach in next March’ Albert Park programme (Albany GP programme)

Cranston hadn’t lost his passion for motorsport though. He had built ‘Miss Frances’, a Ford V8 powered speedboat which generally “spreadeagled rivals in much the same fashion as he had been doing for years on the terrain.”

“When not tied up with one or other of the multitudinous business matters which occupy his attention, Mt Cranston golfs, his one vice.” There was another though, with the encouragement of his wife he commenced horse riding at about 40. So keen and proficient was the Mosman Park resident, that he became Master of The Hounds for the West Australian Hunt Club.

Ossie remained involved and close to motorsport. An Ossie Cranston Trophy was contested in West Australian Sporting Car Club events for years, Cranston was a stalwart of the club, formed on November 17, 1929. Together with Eric Armstrong, CS Dyer and Claude McKinley he kept the very successful organisation together in some of its more difficult years.

Cranston was ‘the official driver’ at Caversham (first used on March 13, 1948) and into the 1970s at Wanneroo Park. He died on July 1, 1982 – born in either 1899 or 1903 – his remains are at the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.

PS; Most of this piece was written via extractions from period newspapers. Of their nature they are light-on with the specifications of the cars. If any of you can assist in that regard, or in fleshing out Ossie’s story, do get in touch.

Oopsie, a bit of PE from the front of the Gas Producers Stock Car grid before the start of the 4-lap 10-miler. Patriotic GP meeting, Applecross, on a hot November 11, 1940. Car ID’s folks? (K Devine)


It’s a Gas

Pretty much the final motor race of any size in Australia before motorsport was set aside for the duration of World War 2 was the Patriotic GP, attended by a “huge crowd” at Applecross on November 11, 1940.

In his return to racing, Cranston ran a ’38 Ford in the novel, Producer Gas Race for stock, or standard cars. Ossie finished second in this handicap behind WJ Stitt’s De Soto straight-eight.

Interesting, perhaps – in the context of fuels of quite dissimilar quality, and the use of gas to power cars during the conflict – is the difference in performance between Ron Possetts’s petrol fuelled ’39 Ford V8, which won the stock (standard) car race and Ossie’s machine. Possett’s (rated a very good driver) best lap was 3 min 12 sec, and Cranston’s 3.44.

“The hilly course was a good test, the contest admirably fullfilled its purpose, which was to demonstrate that the sacrifice of performance made by the use of producer gas, is small,” wrote the South Western Advertiser.

The ‘Tisers’s journo continued, “A most interesting feature of Cranston’s car was that the ‘gas-works’ were all enclosed; producer, cleaners, pipes etc were all hidden, in the luggage trunk, beneath the bonnet or under the floorboards, and, except for cooling-louvres in the lid of the rear compartment, the big modern sedan had the appearance of a standard petrol model.”

All we need now is a happy-snap of the car, can anyone oblige?

Jack Phillips and Ted Parsons aboard their Ford V8 Spl during the 150-mile 1939 Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal, South Australia. They were third behind Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c and Bob Lea-Wright’s Terraplane Spl (N Howard)

Top Gun?

Looking at the performance of Ossie’s car, it has to be a contender for fastest-best Australian Ford V8 racer in that pre-war period?

Jack K Phillips’ similar machine (above) has to be in the mix too. He too was a Ford dealer, in Wangaratta, Victoria. Yep, I’ve heard of Black Bess, while built pre-war, Whiteford didn’t get her performing well until after the conflict.

The Cranston and Phillips cars were Special Ford V8s rather than Ford V8 Specials. That is they were modified Fords, rather than a concoction of parts of various makes powered by modified Ford V8s.

I’m interested to hear from those of you who know about such things, which car was the quickest-best Ford V8, and quickest-best Ford V8 Spl pre-war?

Cranston and passenger on the hop – he did fastest race time remember – during the South Australian Centenary aka AGP at Victor Harbor in December 1936, Ford V8 Spl. #25 is the H Abbott, Austin 7 Spl s/c (SLWA)

1936 Australian Grand Prix

I’ve got my great mate, Tony Johns, to thank for the wonderful loss of a couple of days researching this piece.

During his weekly State Library of Victoria research visitations, Tony came upon a snippet about the Light Car Club’s endeavours to run the 1936 AGP on a road course at Mornington, then a quiet, seaside village, 70km from Melbourne.

The Phillip Island road course which hosted the AGP from 1928-1935 was on-the-nose given its dangerous nature for cars of less than 2-litres, let alone the unlimited cars which should also have been included in the fun.

I’ll get to Mornington in due course.

There was no AGP called, promoted and run as such during 1936. The December 26, 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix was later appropriated as an AGP – I’ve no issue with that – but the nincompoop(s) who did so, determined that a race held in 1936 was the 1937 Australian Grand Prix. WTF etc.

I’m on a one-man crusade to right this wrong, that is, the 1936 AGP event was the one at Victor. There was no AGP called, promoted and run as such in 1937 either. If we want to anoint one significant race held in 1937 as a part of the pantheon of AGP’s I’ve an open mind, send me your ideas and justifications…See here; 1936 Australian Grand Prix, Victor Harbour… | primotipo…

Anyway, in Troving (Trove is a digital record of Oz newspapers) with search-words like ‘Mornington 1936 Australian Grand Prix’, up popped the article which starts this piece. I’ve very much enjoyed writing it, knowing little about Mr Cranston and his achievements two days ago…

(R Bartholomaeus)

Port Victor

The poor old South Australians can’t make their minds up about Victor Harbor.

We Australians adopted the Pom’s version of English on the basis that as they invented it they should have half-a-clue about how stuff should be spelt.

Despite that, the township of Victor Harbor, rather than Victor Harbour, was proclaimed in 1914, for reasons almost as obscure as those related to the year in which the 1936 AGP was held.

Clearly the author of the South Australian Centenary meeting programme was confused too. Despite the race being held in Victor Harbor, the event was contested, seemingly, on the Port Elliott-Victor Harbour Circuit.


The Blackwood Times, Friday January 15, 1937, Sunday Times Perth June 30, 1935, Mirror Perth July 7, 1934, Kalgoorlie Miner, various many other newspapers via Trove, ‘Cactus-Work in Progress’ Graeme Cocks, State Library of WA, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Ken Devine Collection,, Norman Howard, Rob Bartholomaeus Collection, Bob King

(Recorder, Port Pirie, February 21, 1938)


When you’ve spent a good chunk of your annual capex-budget on a couple of Bentleys, the Perth Polizia PR department worked the local papers hard to ensure the Bentley Patrol bagged as much of the crime-solution-limelight as possible, however tenuous the connection between the misdemeanor and WO’s finest.

Doubtless the lissom Subiaco lass slept easy knowing the Bentleys were prowling the streets with as much stealth as Merv the Perve…


Jones at Ardmore during the 1954 NZ GP weekend (unattributed)

The Charlie Dean/Repco Research constructed Maybach series of three ‘1950s’ racing cars – Ern Seeliger’s Chev engined Maybach 4 evolution of Maybach 3 duly noted and venerated – are favourites.

Stan Jones raced them to many successes until 1956, see here for a long article about Stan and his Maybachs; Stan Jones: Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix and Gold Star Winner… | primotipo…

Links at the end of this piece provide more for those with the Maybach fetish.

Repco had no plan-grande in the 1950s to take on and beat the world in Grand Prix racing, as they did in 1966-67. But in hindsight, the Maybach race program was an important plank in a series of identifiable steps by Repco which commenced in the 1930s and ended in global racing triumph.

The catalyst for this piece is some material Tony Johns sent me this week, in addition to some other shots I’ve had for a while from two other mates, Bob King and David Zeunert. It seemed timely to have another crack at Maybach 1, Jones’ 1954 New Zealand Grand Prix winning machine, still extant in Bob Harborow’s hands.

(T Johns Collection)
(T Johns Collection)

We are diving into the minutiae here, but I’ve never heard of the Fesca Gear Co, clearly a key relationship in developing Maybach 1, and the other cars?

Chris De Fraga, the fella to whom the letter is addressed, was the longtime motoring editor of The Age, Melbourne, a daily aimed at those who could read and think. The competitor Sun and Herald were aimed at those without those capabilities, IG Mason, my English master useter tell us endlessly at Camberwell Grammar School. “Just read the front, back, and editorial pages of The Age if you’ve not got the time to read anything else.” I digress.

(KE Niven & Co)

Jones looking pretty happy with himself after the Ardmore victory. It had been a tough few days for all of the team dealing with major mechanical recalcitrance of the big Maybach six, note the company logo on Stan’s helmet.

And below leading Ken Wharton’s basso-profundo-shrieking, absolutely sensational V16 BRM P15, DNF brakes.


Tony Johns, David Zeunert and Bob King Collections


‘Speed Man After 500 Pounds Racing Car Trophy’ said the heading of this The Age promo shot of Maybach in Stan’s backyard garage at Yongala Road, Balwyn, Melbourne in the days prior to the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

The technicians hard at it are Ern Seeliger, racer/engineer/Jones’ friend, Stocky Stan, Alan Jones’ head you can just see behind the wheel, Reg Robbins, longtime Jones’ employee, Charlie Dean and Lloyd Holyoak, Jones’ used car manager.

Dean lived in Kew, the adjoining suburb to Stan so it was an easy shot to set up when both men headed for home. Note the three bottles of Fosters Lager – we call these Long Necks or Depth Charges – to ease the pain of car preparation on the bench behind the car.

In essence Maybach 1 was built by Dean in 1946, continually modified and raced by him, including the 1948 AGP, then sold to Jones in 1951. Part of the deal was that Maybach was further developed and prepared by Repco Research, which Dean ran. In so doing a generation of the best mechanics and technicians from the rapidly growing Repco conglomerate were imbued with the racing ethos, another key plank in the long road to Brabham’s first championship win aboard a Repco Brabham Engines V8 powered BT19 chassis at Reims on July 3, 1966…

(B King Collection)

Jones sneaks a look at his pursuers a few days later during the race. Maybach DNF with various maladies, fastest lap was some consolation. Another local lad, Doug Whiteford prevailed in a Talbot Lago T26C, his third AGP win.

The Ecurie Australie (name under the number) was – and still is – the name under which the Davison family sometimes race. Lex Davison and Stan were competitors on-track, but owned a Holden dealership for a while and competed in the Monte Carlo Rally aboard a Holden 48-215, also crewed by Tony Gaze, in 1953.

The name on the side of the car should have been Repco, or Repco Research, but such vulgar commercialisation wasn’t kosher then. It would come of course…


(F Pearse)

One of the amazing things about the internet is the manner in which information is shared, not least photographs from collections which would otherwise never have seen the light of day…

Fred Pearse is one such person who was “an insider enthusiast, a decent man who spannered cleverly for over two decades, here and overseas,” according to Australian racer/historian John Medley.

In the photo above Fred is fettling Dick Cobden’s ex-Peter Whitehead Ferrari 125 V12 s/c prior to the South Pacific Championship at Gnoo Blas, Orange in January 1955.

Peter Whitehead won on that particular weekend driving a Ferrari 500/625. See this feature article, largely containing Fred’s photographs, which should be treated as Fred Pearse Collection 1; 1955 South Pacific Championship, Gnoo Blas… | primotipo…

Peter Reynell was left Fred’s photo albums upon his death having looked after him for the last years of his life. “Fred told me quite a bit, it was all a long time ago, but I clearly recall his pride in Col James’ MG Special, he was involved in that,” Peter recalls.

“Don’t forget his involvement in motorsport administration too. He was Clerk of Course at Bathurst and Amaroo Park, was a member of both the Australian Racing Drivers Club and CAMS NSW Boards.”

Peter has posted photos from Fred’s albums progressively on Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing Photos Facebook page which has become an amazing historic resource given the paucity of photographs on so many Australian racing topics. Thanks to Fred and Lee Pearse, and Peter Reynell.

(Reg Light’s 1934 Vauxhall)

While some of the scans aren’t flash, I don’t want rare photos to disappear without trace into the bowels of FB. In some cases I’m not sure of the car/driver/location but with some input from you lot we should be able to solve the puzzles. Please get in touch if you can assist!

The article is primarily snippets, and more substantively about the 1936 Australian Tourist Trophy at Phillip Island and the 1940 Bathurst GP. In the latter case I’ve drawn upon the race report from Medley’s seminal ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’. In addition to these two meetings there are photos on all manner of topics.

John Medley picks up the threads, “Fred Pearse directly or indirectly was involved with many of Australia’s significant racing cars, ask yourself for example about the Altoona Indian with Norton barrels pictures…probable links back to the original Chamberlain earlier with Altoona Indian power, later vertically opposed four-cylinder eight-piston, supercharged two-stroke (in a front wheel drive inboard-braked spaceframe chassis in 1932.” See here; Chamberlain 8: by John Medley and Mark Bisset… | primotipo…

  “WB Thompson’s (below) Midget car engine. Norton barrels and heads on a (1926-28) Indian Altoona crankcase.” (F Pearse)

Bill Thompson and Ted Poole at Wentworth Park, Sydney in 1935 (

“When speedway was starting in Australia with multiple AGP winner Bill Thomson involved, plus Bill Bargarnie (who did the superchargers on Jack Borretto’s weekes Ford V8 pre-war) and forward to Jack Brabham’s twin-cylinder and Ron Wards’s speedway cars.”

Bob King draws the connections too, “Bill Balgarnie was a Chamberlain employee who later set up the tractor factory in Western Australia for them. He was also Bill Thompson’s riding mechanic and a TT motorcyclist. It makes a lot of sense if the Chamberlain Special Altoona Indian motor found its way into Thompson’s speedway car.”

John Medley again, “Fred Pearse was involved with many of them, as a Reg Light employee and later Peco partner (with Bob Pritchett) and probably in the John Snow/Jack Saywell preparation business (Monza Service in East Sydney) prewar where imported expert ‘Jock’ Finlayson ruined the Saywell Alfa Tipo-B engine – so in time it was lost when war broke out.”

“To extend my previous observations re the Altoona Indian Norton; Jim McMahon was another Sydney-sider who probably looked at Bill Thompson’s/Bill Bargarnie’s work, did several cars himself on speedway and road, produced a Peoples Car postwar (ran the prototype at Bathurst) starred in a film or two and built a side-valve Ford V8 into an OHV motor using motorcycle heads on a Ford block, which, I suspect ended up in the USA in a Lincoln, Nebraska Museum.” wrote Medley.

There are some fragments here rather worthy of follow up with Mr Medley in due course!

(F Pearse)

1936 Australian Tourist Trophy, Phillip Island…

This 200-mile race was held on March 30 and won by Jack Fagan (#2) who also set the fastest time, 3 hours 6 min 15 seconds, or 64mph. Supercharged MG K3 Magnette.

HR Reeve was second in an MG P-Type, with all of the other 15 starters either non-classified or DNFs!

(F Pearse)
The caption reads ‘A diagram showing the new 3 1/2 mile circuit at Phillip Island which will be used for the 200 miles Australian Tourist Trophy on March 30’- the map also shows the original circuit since the 1928 100 Miles road race, aka the Australian Grand Prix.
Fagan MG K3 (F Pearse)

Fagan MG K3 (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

At a guess this is the accommodation for motorcars behind the Isle of Wight Hotel, site now vacant.

Bill Thompson Bugatti T37A (F Pearse) If the shot was taken during the ’36 TT weekend it was riven by Tom Peters

“Supercharged Bugatti, holder of New South Wales Light Car Clubs speed record at 112mph, Canberra 1935, driver WB Thompson,” wrote Fred in 1936.

Pit setup for K3 and Bugatti (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Riley Brooklands or TT Sprite. Article on the Sprite here; Riley Club, Bacchus Marsh Sprints 1937… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)
‘Blown’ Austin 7 (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Bathurst Easter 1940 : Bathurst Grand Prix…

The annual Easter meeting was the last until 1946 with the war now six months old, several of the entrants including John Snow, Delahaye , Charlie Whatmore and Arthur Wylie had joined the military with others to follow so the meeting for many at Applecross, Perth in November 1940 duly noted, was the last hurrah.

L-R: John Barraclough, MG NE Magnette, John Snow, Delahaye 135CS, perhaps Tom Lancey’s MG NE Magnette, and Alf Barrett’s winning Alfa Romeo Monza (F Pearse)
Paul Swedberg’s Offy (F Pearse)

The meeting attracted huge crowds despite one of the worst droughts in Australia’s history, petrol shortages and a war which continued to involve greater numbers of Australians.

There were 40 minutes between the backmarker, Alf Barrett, Alfa Monza and limit-man Jolley’s Singer 9 who led the first five laps. An MG T Series battle ensued between French and Nind. Barraclough’s MG NE had a slow opening lap so the faster black similar car of Lancey led the battle but he was ovetaken before the end.

Alf Barrett’s Alfa Monza at rest (F Pearse)

Finally the Barrett Alfa roared away with 150 miles in front of him. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl was slowed all afternoon by carburettor trouble, Bill Reynolds did well early until his Ford V8 overheated, that engines common affliction.

Crowd interest was provided by Paul Swedberg’s Offy with only a two-speed gearbox and two-wheel (hand) braked who was outgunned on the straights and under brakes but was very quick uphill and under acceleration. Early in the race Swedberg and Snow passed and re-passed one-another but the red and blue Offy passed the Delahaye up Mountain Straight.

Barrett continued to close, “the Alfa Romeo markedly quicker than any other competitor sliding and shuddering on the corners and spraying gravel as Barrett hurled this classic car on those long smooth lines he was to become famous for.”

John Crouch in the Alfa 8C2300 imported by John Snow, not Bathurst 1940 though where he carried number 7 (F Pearse)
Snow, Delahaye 135CS (F Pearse)
Alta in Ford V8 trim “having been driven lightless and unregistered by Bill Reynolds from Melbourne” and “no doubt barely an eyelid was batted!” – Nathan Tasca and John Medley (F Pearse)

By mid-race, Harold Monday, Ford V8 and Crouch Alfa 8C2300, had lost time with pitstops, McMahon’s Willys was about to fail with engine trouble and Burrows Hudson dream run ended in timing sprocket failure. Lancey had dramas too and slipped down the field.

Whatmore led from Kleinig, Snow and Barrett with Swedberg heading for the pits with plug trouble.

Barrett took the lead from Whatmore on lap 31 with Snow passing Whatmore a lap later for second. Jack Phillips withdrew with back trouble (having crashed the car earlier in the week and spending several days in hospital) and climbed out of the car collapsing in agony with Parsons taking over, dropping three places but finishing ninth.

Barrett crossed the line in the fastest time to win from Snow and Whatmore – then George Reed Ford V8 Spl, the John Crouch Alfa, Frank Kleinig, Paul Swedberg, John Barraclough, and Jack Phillips/Parsons Ford V8 Spl. Barrett set a lap record during the race at 3 minutes 4 seconds. Click here for a lengthy feature on Barrett and his Alfa; Alf Barrett, ‘The Maestro’, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Monza… | primotipo…

Exhaust side of Swedberg’s Offy Midget (F Pearse)
Swedberg’s Offy over the line (F Pearse)
Jim McMahaon’s Willys Special (F Pearse)

Bathurst Etcetera…

(F Pearse)

Peter Whitehead in ERA R10B during his successful 1938 Australian Grand Prix weekend. Click here for a feature on Whitehead and the ’38 AGP; Peter Whitehead in Australia: ERA R10B: 1938… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

John Sherwood, MG NE Magnette during his victorious Bathurst 100 drive at Easter in 1939. Piece on Sherwood here; ‘History of Motor Racing in Australia’ by John Sherwood in 1953… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)

Jack Saywell, Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 at Bathurst in 1939


Jim Brace, Frontenac Ford (F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Victor Harbor paddock, December 26, 1936, South Australian Centenary Grand Prix/1936 AGP.

Jim Fagan’s #1 MG K3 and Tom Peters Bugatti T37A- both failed to finish as did Frank Kleinig in Bill McIntyre’s Hudson Spl. Les Murphy’s MG P Type took the win that weekend.

Frank Kleinig’s famous and still existing Kleinig Hudson Spl, an amazing and constantly developed concoction of MG chassis, straight-eight Hudson engine and many other components. Click here for a feature on this car; Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Special… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)

Its fuzzy but has to be Bob Lea-Wright’s Singer Nine with silverware after the 1934 Australian Grand Prix won in splendid fashion from Bill Thompson’s MG K3 Magnette.

(F Pearse)

Absolutely no idea with this one, but the background appears to be the same for this photograph and the several which follow. Car above front and centre is a Terraplane Special.

(F Pearse)

Mrs JAS Jones’ Alfa Romeo 6C1750 Zagato SS. See here; Mrs JAS Jones Alfa 6C 1750 SS Zagato… | primotipo…

(F Pearse)

MG K3??

(F Pearse)
(F Pearse)
(F Pearse)

Peter Whitehead at Parramatta Park, Sydney in November 1938.

He is aboard ERA R10B during his successful 1938 Australian Tour, not that this event was a successful one for anybody involved, aborted as it was on the evening before the race due to NSW Police concerns about spectator safety. See here; Parramatta Park Circuit… | primotipo…


Bill Clark’s (?) HRG at Mount Druitt (?) in the mid-1950’s.

Chassis W179 was imported by Tony Gaze and fitted locally with this ‘Bathurst’ monoposto body. It was later purchased by Jack Pryer and Clive Adam: Pryer and Adams – PRAD – and formed the basis of the car below.

(F Pearse)

This group of photos (the two above and the three below) are of Prad 4 being converted from open-wheeler spec to Prad 5 sportscar configuration, engine is a Holden Grey- six fed by three SU carbs. Car for many years owned and raced by Shane Bowden.

(F Pearse)

The photos were taken outside Clive Adams, Lane Cove, Sydney workshop.

(F Pearse)

Photo Credits…

Fred Pearse Collection courtesy of Peter Reynell,

Photo Identification and Comments…

John Medley, Bob King, Nahan Tasca, Shane Bowden


(F Pearse)

Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 being pushed through the Gnoo Blas paddock during the January 1955 South Pacific Trophy weekend. The youthful driver behind with the Persil whiter-than-white overalls is JA Brabham in search of his Cooper T23 Bristol.


Derek Bell, Tecno PA123/3, Canadian GP 1972 (LAT)

Only one of hundreds of Kart manufacturers made it to F1. Tecno had won Kart, F3 and F2 championships before they leapt into Grand Prix racing in 1972 but the venture failed dismally after only 10 grand prix starts thanks to Ferrari-esque levels of intrigue and infighting.

Bolognese engineers Luciano and Gianfranco Pederzani ran a successful truck hydraulics business named Oleodinamica Pederzani & Zini which was inspired by the technology in American trucks they saw post-war. Another American idea they rather liked was Karts!

Ronnie Peterson and Susanna Raganelli, Tecno Barilla in Denmark during the 1966 Kart World Championship weekend, she won

Tecno Kart operated from premises in Via Bufalini, Borgo Panigale, Bologna from 1962. Tecno were the first to volume produce ‘sidewinder’ chassis to take advantage of the newly developed Parilla air-cooled, rotary-valve motors.

These Parilla GP15L powered Tecno Kaimono’s (the caiman is a small alligator, the reptile featured on the Tecno logo) won the World Kart championship three times on the trot from 1964-66. Ex-Italian GP motorcyclist Guido Sala was victorious in 1964-65, then Susanna Raganelli won in 1966 after a furious battle with a couple of Swedes, Leif Engstrom and Ronnie Peterson.

Tecno put a toe in the water with Formula 250 cars in 1964, then Formula 850 machines in 1966, before building their first F3 car in 1966.

Tecno Automobili’s kart inspired, wide-track, short wheelbase TF66 debuted with Carlo Facetti at the wheel at the Circuito del Mugello on July 17. Two laps of a challenging 66km road course through the Tuscan countryside was a good test for the new chassis! In a good start for the marque, he finished fourth, Jonathan Williams was up front in a De Sanctis Ford.

Other early Tecno F3 pilots included Grand Prix winner, Giancarlo Baghetti, Chris Craft, Mauro Nesti and Tino Brambilla. Tecno’s breakthrough win came when Brambilla’s TF67 Ford won the Luigi Musso Trophy at Vallelunga in October 1967. Clay Regazzoni’s TF67 Ford Novamotor took the honours in the more prestigious GP Espana, Jarama, a month later.

After a modest start in 1967, Tecno sold 40 cars in 1968, commencing a great run of F3 success. They won the Italian championship from 1968-71, three French titles from 1968-1970 (Francois Cevert in 1968), not to forget Swedish titles for Reine Wisell and Ronnie Peterson in 1968-69.

Tecnos were quick at Monaco too, with wins for Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Ronnie Peterson in 1968-69, and in Switzerland where they won championships in 1969 and 1972.

Francois Cevert, Tecno 68 Ford, winner of the Circuit de Vitesse at Nogaro in August 1968 (unattributed)
Ronnie Peterson on the way to winning the Monaco F3 GP in 1969, Tecno 69 Ford-Novamotor (unattributed)

Luciano Pederzani adapted his Tecno 68 design to F2 specifications by adding bigger brakes, a five-speed Hewland FT200 transaxle and 210bhp Ford FVA 1.6-litre engine. 1968 works cars were raced by Regazzoni, Jaussaud and Facetti. Regga’s sixth place in the European championship was the best of the Tecnos which included Ron Harris entered cars for such notables as Pedro Rodriguez, Richard Attwood and Jonathan Williams.

Cevert and Nanni Galli raced the works F2s in 1969, with Francois taking Tecno’s maiden F2 victory in the GP de Reims in June. Cevert was third in the championship and Galli seventh in a year the Bologna boys built 60 F2 and F3 spaceframe chassis.

The bring-home-the-bacon (pancetta actually) year was in 1970 when Clay Regazzoni won the Euro F2 title with victories in four of the eight rounds, with Cevert sixth. That year both Tecno men made their F1 debuts, Regazzoni with Ferrari and Cevert with Team Tyrrell.

For 1971 the Pederzani’s secured Elf sponsorship but Equipe Tecno Elf had a lean time despite the best efforts of Cevert, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Patrick Depailler, all of them rather handy Grand Prix pilots of the future.

Francois Cevert, Tecno 68 Ford FVA aviating during the 1969 German GP, DNF CWP. Henri Pescarolo won aboard a Matra MS7 Ford (MotorSport)
Drivers angle into the cockpit of Cevert’s Tecno 68 Ford FVA at Thruxton in 1969. Eighth in the race won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 59B Ford (
Clay Regazzoni, Tecno 69 Ford FVA. Second in the London Trophy at Crystal Palace May 1970. Jackie Stewart won in John Coombs’ Brabham BT30 Ford (LAT)

For 1972 the Pederzanis, confident in their own abilities, decided to take the giant leap into Grand Prix racing.

Not for them the garagista path either, purchase of a Ford Cosworth DFV 3-litre V8 would have been too easy, after all, they had been fitting Ford Cosworth FVAs into their F2 cars for three years!

They decided to build the chassis and engine, both of which had more than a nod to Ferrari practice.

Luciano Pederzani, Renato Armoroli – recruited from Ducati just down the road in 1968 – and other technicians commenced work on Project 123 (12-cylinders, 3-litres) a twin-cam, four valve, fuel injected a 180 degree 3-litre flat-12 in early 1971.

To shorten development time the team adopted the familiar bore and stroke ratio of Ford/Cosworth’s 1-litre F3 engines – 80.98x48mm – which resulted in a displacement of 2960cc, later tickled up to 2995cc by a small increase in stroke.

By early 1972 the first way-too-heavy (205kg, 40 more than a Cosworth DFV) engines were on the dyno, the best result after early fettling was a claimed 402bhp @ 11,000rpm.

Tecno hired Parma born engineer Giuseppe Bocchi from Ferrari, where he had been working on engine structural stiffness and vibrations. Bocchi redesigned the Tecno engine to incorporate four main bearings, rather than its original seven – just like Ferrari’s flat-12 – making the structure lighter and stiff enough to be used as a structural chassis member.

Tecno PA123-72 (B Betti)
Tecno flat-12 on the test bed in 1971 (researchracing)
Tecno PA123/1 public unveiling in Milan, December 24, 1971

While progressing the engine, the team also turned their attention to a narrow track, short wheelbase chassis based on existing F2 practice; at 2270mm it was 120mm shorter than the Ferrari 312B.

Tecno’s first monocoque chassis was designated PA123 (Pederzani Automobili- 12 cylinders-3-litres) and followed Ferrari Aero practice. It comprised aluminium sheets rivetted and glued to a light-gauge tubular frame. While side radiators were planned, the engines voracious appetite for coolant resulted in a large front radiator, and bluff-nose of the type Tyrrell popularised in 1971.

Martini and Rossi’s spectacular livery had adorned Porsche Salzburg 908s and 917’s in 1971, but with the end of the fabulous 5-litre sportscar era their sponsorship was destined for Tecno’s GP racing adventure.

Upon John Wyer’s suggestion, Count Gregorio Rossi engaged the now out of work, very well credentialled JW Automotive Team Manager, David Yorke, as motor racing consultant for Martini & Rossi International to replace Hans-Dieter Dechent.

Vic Elford aboard the winning Martini Porsche 908/3 he shared with Gerard Larrousse at the Nurburgring 1000km in 1971 (MotorSport)

Initially it appeared the M&R money was destined for Brabham, a home it found in 1975. Derek Bell had been offered a Brabham drive, but ultimately Tecno got the lire, their nominated team were drivers Nanni Galli and Bell with Yorke as team manager.

Predictably, despite track tests in December 1971, the complexity of building the car’s core components in-house ensured the Tecno PA123 ran late. Derek Bell expressed his admiration for Tecno about that first test to MotorSport all the same.

“Finally, we (Bell and Yorke) got the call to fly to Italy. We arrived at Pirelli’s test track to find a delegation from the Rossi family but no car. First, I was hoping it wouldn’t show and, when it did, that it wouldn’t start. I’m convinced that if Tecno had had a disaster that day, I would have been off to Brabham. It was an icy cold day and the team poured hot water in the engine, fired it up and it ran and ran. We couldn’t believe it. David had to concede that it was a remarkable showing for a first test.”


The car took its public bow during the Belgian GP weekend at Nivelles (above), the fifth round of the 1972 championship ultimately won by Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus 72D Ford.

Galli about to spin, and be hit hard enough to write off PA123/1, by Clay Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B2 (MotorSport)
PA123/1 certainly had a touch of the prototypes about it. Luciano Pederzani has gone to all that effort to have a nice low engine – in part to aid the flow of the airstream onto the rear wing – and then we go and plonk the oil tank and related up high in the air costing rpm and upsetting airflow onto the all-important wing (MotorSport)

PA123/1 impressed the masses with its sound if not its speed. Galli qualified second last but ran reliably until spinning and taking out Tecno compatriot, Clay Regazzoni’s Ferrari. The Tecno was written off in the process.

The team next contested the non-championship Gran Premio della Republica Italiana at Vallelunga in mid-June. Galli finished third aboard a new car, PA123-2, in a performance which cheered the team despite the machine being way off the pace in a small, but reasonably classy eight car grid.

Bell at Clermont Ferrand in PA123/2
Nanni Galli on the Brands Hatch pit counter, PA123/2
PA123/2, Brands Hatch

Bell had his first race drive in that car at Clermont Ferrand but got no further than practice. Four of the nine bolts attaching the engine to the rear chassis bulkhead had cracked from the engine’s massive vibrations, somewhat impairing the car’s handling. Good Vibrations they were not.

Galli was entered at Brands Hatch where PA123-2 appeared with a new rear suspension cross-member which mounted the coil spring/dampers more conventionally (mounted less vertically) on the advice of Ron Tauranac.

Tauranac was freelancing having sold Motor Racing Developments, and later left them, he was marginalised and short-paid by Bernard Charles Ecclestone.

Nanni qualified the car 18th on the 27-car grid, not bad at all given its shortage of power and surfeit of weight on this technically demanding circuit.

The Tecno 123 never gave more than 420/430bhp, 20 and 60 less than the contemporary DFV and Ferrari, while the car weighed 640kg, far more than the 550kg Ferrari 312B2, 540kg Tyrrell 003 Ford and 575kg McLaren M23 Ford.

The relative practice performance was ruined by an accident on lap 10 of the race.

Bell in PA123/2 at the Nurburgring (LAT)
Engine change for Bell in Germany (LAT)
Galli in the Osterreichring pits, PA123/2 (MotorSport)

Bell was the more experienced Ring racer and took the wheel of PA123-2 in Germany. The car was further modified with wider front track and revisions to the oil tank. Derek was Q25 of 27 but out after only four laps with valve failure. Up front, the other flat-12 car, a 312B2 driven by Ickx won from pole.

Back in Bologna, Pederzani and his team wrestled with engine vibrations and lubrication issues in the same way Mauro Forghieri struggled to stop his flat-12 breaking its crankshafts early in its late 1969 life; seemingly insurmountable problems which resulted in Chris Amon leaving Ferrari…

Off to Austria, Galli qualified Q23 of 36 but 3.5 seconds adrift of winner/poleman Fittipaldi’s fastest Lotus 72 practice time. This time the Tecno finished the race with invaluable race mileage, albeit an unclassified 17th nine laps adrift of Emerson. Tecno had such a climb to make!

There was plenty of pressure too, with unhappy drivers, sponsors and Bologna technicians. The team’s home event at Monza was next. Armaroli left in frustration, believing the engine unreliability was due to inexperienced engine fitters at base and among the race team members.

Derek Bell aboard PA123/2 waving Carlos Pace and John Surtees through at Monza; March 711 Ford and Surtees TS14 Ford (LAT)
Galli in PA123/5 at Monza in 1972 (MotorSport)
Tecno PA123/5 drawn in 1972 Monza spec (G Piola)

Two cars were entered in Italy. A new machine, chassis PA123-5 (sic-what happened to chassis 3 and 4?) with neater front suspension and Matra-like nose for Galli, alongside PA123-2 for Bell.

With Fittipaldi again up front, Galli was Q23, while poor Derek didn’t make the cut. Worse still, in front of their home crowd – Galli’s, the Pederzani’s and Rossi’s – the car only completed 6-laps before, you guessed it, the engine failed.

The Martini Racing Team took the new car to North America for Bell to race, but it wasn’t a happy trip with Derek crashing on the warm up lap at Mosport from Q25, last on the grid.

On the fast, technically challenging Watkins Glen track in upstate New York, Derek was Q30 of 32, seven seconds adrift of Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell 005 Ford pole. Again, the Tecno’s engine went pop, this time after 8 laps.

At best the year was a character building one, in reality it was a clusterfuck of some scale which got a whole lot worse in 1973.

Bell, Mosport 1972 in PA123/5. Note the Melmag wheels, popular at the time. Oil tank smaller but still not optimally placed (MotorSport)
Get me outta here…Bell in PA123/5 at Watkins Glen 1972 (MotorSport)
Derek Bell trying to forget about the task at hand, Disneyland 1972 (unattributed)

In a perfect world the plan for 1973 should have been obvious. Race one DFV powered Tecno while continuing to develop the flat-12 until it was competitive. That way the team would have gained valuable miles to develop the chassis while getting the engine to required levels of power and endurance.

Of course, sound decisions are only possible if all parties in a business cooperate and communicate; the Pederzanis, Rossis and Yorke. Clearly, they were not, despite that, to their credit, Martini & Rossi saddled up for another year.

Instead of commonsense – the chain of events differs depending upon your source – Yorke convinced the Rossi’s to back a plan involving him constructing a car in the UK.

For reasons Yorke never disclosed, he engaged his friend, Gordon Fowell’s Goral Engineering to design a car which was fabricated by John Thompson’s respected Northhampton firm. Professor Tim Boyce, also working with McLaren at the time, provided advice on aerodynamics.

Fowell’s design credentials then were entirely outside racing. His involvement in motorsport was as an amateur driver and partner to journalist Alan Phillips in a company which produced audio tapes of race engines. Goral was their latest venture.

David Yorke lost in thought at Le Mans in 1969, a good weekend for JW Automotive, the Pedro Rodriguez/ Jackie Oliver Ford GT40 won

David Christopher Yorke was a war-hero. He became an RAF Flying Officer (#37059) in 1937 and was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Order for bravery during the Battle of France. The first was for carrying out low-level reconnaissance on German positions in a Gloster despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, the second was a similar act which involved dropping supplies to beleaguered troops in Calais. The award of Flight Lieutenant Yorke’s Distinguished Flying Cross was recorded in The London Gazette on July 23, 1940.

He then flew Hurricanes in The Battle of Britain before being posted to India as a Squadron Leader in 1941. By the end of the David Yorke was serving as a Group Captain in the Far East.

He remained with the RAF post-war but in 1949 accompanied another former RAF officer, Peter Whitehead to the Czech Grand Prix. Whitehead won the race in his Ferrari 125 and offered Yorke the role of team manager, he commenced in 1950. Success with Whitehead, Vanwall, Aston Martin and JW Automotive followed in the succeeding two decades.

This extraordinary man was described in one of his medal recommendations as a “commander and organiser of exceptional merit.” In this case, however, he was most cavalier with Martini & Rossi’s money, his choice of Goral Engineering to design the save-our-bacon Tecno was a remarkably low percentage play.

The Pederzani’s – successful industrialists before they commenced racing, and even more so after they did, had no shortage of lire – thought stuff-this! They engaged Alan McCall’s Tui Engineering to design a new state of the art contemporary chassis, or a PA123-B, depending on your source.

“Luciano was offended because Yorke had suggested Italians couldn’t do monocoques,” McCall told MotorSport. “My car was intended as nothing other than an exercise to show that he could build his own tub.”

McCall was one of a small number of very talented Kiwi engineer/mechanics who had huge influence on elite level motor racing in the sixties, seventies and beyond. His CV included stints at Team Lotus and McLaren before venturing out on his own with the construction of Tui F2 cars.

His team commenced work on New Year’s Eve 1972 and completed the car, retaining only the original design’s rear end, an amazing 10 weeks later.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

Two opposing camps, one based in England, the other in Italy, within a team with poor communication and levels of trust, developing a chassis each powered by a limited supply of engines which struggled to string more than 10 race laps together. Oh yes, loss of driver continuity too, both Galli and Bell’s services weren’t required in 1973, or more likely they ran for the Dolomiti…

Chris Amon, Matra MS120B from an obscured Tim Schenken, Brabham BT33 Ford during the 1971 French GP at Paul Ricard (MotorSport)
‘Joisus David, my 250F was quicker than this!’ Amon and Yorke during a difficult 1973

Meanwhile, back home in New Zealand, Chris Amon was enjoying a long, languid summer. His Matra drive ended at the conclusion of 1972 when the French aerospace giant ceased their one-car F1 program.

Amon agreed terms to rejoin March, with whom he had a tempestuous 1970. Somehow, again the reports differ, the deal went awry and collapsed, so Chris signed with Martini & Rossi after an approach from Yorke.

Chris was still one of F1’s quickest drivers. The young veteran (29), schooled by Bruce McLaren, was also a gifted development driver. Amon was great for Tecno, albeit the Bologna boys were way below Chris’ status in life, but beggars couldn’t be choosers in the late summer of ‘73…

Amon told MotorSport “When I agreed to drive, I had no idea what car I’d be driving. “Then Yorke filled me in, explaining that the McCall chassis was nearly ready, and that Fowell’s would be for later.”

Chris tested the McCall/Tui chassis, PA123-6, at Misano in March, Vittorio Brambilla had a steer that day too, he happened to be there testing his F2 March.

“When Pederzani saw the thing, he suddenly got excited about racing it,” remembers McCall, who corroborates press reports of the time that the car could have raced as a Tecno Tui.

In a crazy situation, McCall claims that Yorke “rode roughshod over the Pederzanis” with the result that Luciano “felt insulted”. McCall’s right-hand man, Eddie Wies, recalls “the British turning up one day, covering our car in Martini stickers and claiming it as theirs.”

This scenario is entirely possible given the Goral/Fowell machine was still nowhere near complete, Tecno needed a race-ready car.

At this point the relationship between the parties was trashed, the marriage was over with only the final act to be played out in a truncated 1973 F1 season.

“After that (the takeover of the McCall car) Luciano said he was only going to fulfil his obligations and no more,” recalled McCall, who departed Tecno straight after the Misano test.

“His contract was to supply engines, transport, and the mechanics. He’d built something like 12 engines, but no development was undertaken. He didn’t even put them on the dyno.”

Amon in PA123/6 at Zolder in 1973. Sixth in a rousing if uncompetitive performance (LAT)
Amon with plenty of rear wing at Zolder (unattributed)

When the Tecno transporter rumbled into the Zolder paddock for the Belgian Grand Prix in mid-May the team had already missed the Argentine, Brazilian, South African and Spanish Grands Prix.

Emerson Fittipaldi had won three of them for Lotus, while Jackie Stewart took one for Tyrrell. JYS was about to start a serious run for the title aided and abetted by Fittipaldi, and his new Lotus teammate, Ronnie Peterson taking driver’s championship points off each other.

At Zolder, Amon qualified 15th of 26 cars and finished a rousing, point-scoring sixth, totally exhausted due to high temperatures inside the cramped cockpit. He was three laps adrift of Stewart, but it was a typically gritty drive.

At Monaco things seemed even better. Amon started a fantastic 12th and was running as high as seventh before he stopped with braking problems on lap 15, then retired on lap 19 with the same drama.

“It wasn’t a bad chassis at all. It was a little bit too heavy, but in handling terms was probably a match for anything around. On the tighter tracks it went well, but once we got to somewhere like Silverstone we were in trouble.”

Amon on the hunt at Monaco, seventh was stunning while it lasted. The drive says plenty about Amon’s skill but also the quality of the chassis, and , perhaps, the torque of the Tecno flat-12
Kiwis both. Amon in front of Denny Hulme’s McLaren M23 Ford at Monaco in 1973 (MotorSport)

The team skipped the Swedish GP in mid-June but entered the French GP, held at Paul Ricard on July 1. Amon and Yorke arrived from England, but the truck from Italy was nowhere to be found.

By then the Goral chassis, the Tecno E731 had run for the first time. Bruce McIntosh, an Italian speaker after seven years with Serenissma, was employed by Yorke to put the car together. “We built the monocoque over here at John Thompson’s place, but we never had a dummy engine,” McIntosh recalled. “So, I had to take the tub to Italy and work out all the systems at the rear end.”

Doubtless the sheer stupidity of this duplication of effort with limited resources isn’t lost on you. There wasn’t a lot of love either. In one meeting Luciano Pederzani floored Yorke, in another Amon’s frustration boiled over in Tecno’s offices. He picked up an ashtray and chucked it across the room, a journalist standing outside throughout duly reported the shenanigans in the following morning’s Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Goral Tecno first ran down a back alley behind Tecno’s workshops on Via Ducati before being transported back to England and tested at Santa Pod. On both occasions there it spewed out oil.

Amon with two toys to play with at Silverstone in 1973; The McCall/Tui PA123/6 in the lower shot, and Fowell/McCall E731 in the upper shot (MotorSport)

Amon had no recollection of driving this car until the British Grand Prix weekend when Chris practiced both Tecnos.

Ultimately, he qualified 29th, and last for the race in the Tui/McCall car. The result was hardly surprising on this power circuit, Amon felt the car had no more than 400bhp. In the (restarted) race he retired after only six laps with failing fuel pressure.

A fortnight later the Goral/Fowell E731 was taken to Zandvoort, and again, after driving both cars, Amon practiced and raced the PA123-73. He qualified 19th of 24 cars in the tragic race which cost Roger Williamson his life aboard Tom Wheatcroft’s March 731 Ford. Chris was out with a fuel system problem after 22 laps.

Amon heading out to practice the Tecno E731 at Zandvoort (MotorSport)

Tecno missed the German GP but rejoined the circus at the Osterreichring for what proved to be their final race, an act of the complete farce.

Pit pundits were amused to see the Tui Tecno arrive in the Tecno transporter and the Goral Tecno on a trailer behind Fowell’s Road car; one-for-all and all-for-one.

Amon qualified the PA123-73 second last on the grid but didn’t take the start. There simply wasn’t a suitable race-engine to install, he departed in disgust and contempt.

And that, sadly, was that.

Chris, PA123/6 Osterreichring 1973 (MotorSport)
Tecno E731 Osterreichring 1973. Note the neat location of the big oil tank and radiator, Hewland FG400 gearbox and challenging exhaust pipe runs (MotorSport)

The Pederzani’s withdrew from racing but continued with their other enterprises. Amon finished the season with a couple of guest drives for Team Tyrrell, albeit his drive at Watkins Glen evaporated after Francois Cevert’s tragic death during practice in a sister car.

Looking back decades later, Amon claimed that Tui Tecno PA123-73 was the better car, but conceded the Goral Tecno didn’t get a fair crack of the whip. “It was a beautiful looking car, but it lacked development” Indeed, given its late arrival the E731’s potential was never unlocked according to those involved.

“Fowell was a clever guy,” says McIntosh, who remained with the designer to work on Amon’s own F1 car the following year; another catastrophic piece of Amon decision making.

Thompson recalls the final Tecno incorporating a host of “different ideas”. It was the first F1 chassis, he claims, to run a fibreglass rear wing.

McCall and McIntosh, from opposite camps, agreed that Luciano Pederzani was a talented engineer. McCall describes the Italian as “a hands-on mechanic and a real smart man”. McIntosh remembers him as “an intuitive engineer”.

MotorSport wrote that “The end appears to have come at Silverstone, and explains why the team ran out of engines two races later. The story below was told to Wies by a Tecno mechanic years later…”

“He told me that a very long top gear was put in our chassis. The idea was to try to make the British (Goral Tecno) car look better than it was.” That might explain why the Tecno did not qualify that weekend.

This makes no sense to me…The Tecnos wouldn’t have had the torque/power to pull a super tall top gear. A short top would have popped engines due to over revs, a tall one? Not so.

“As soon as Luciano found out he went home and said that he would never be seen at a racetrack again.” Work on a flat-eight F1 engine was immediately stopped.”

Luciano Pederzani kept his word right up to his death in his Bologna workshop in January 1987, he never did return to racing. It was very much motor racing’s loss.

Any assessment of Tecno’s considerable achievements should be viewed over a decade, not the much narrower F1 prism of 1972-73.

Chris Amon, PA123/6, Monaco 1973 (unattributed)

Etcetera: Tecno PA123/6...


Beautiful fabrication wherever you look. Tubular rocker operating coil-spring Koni damper and lower wishbone. Bodywork is aluminium.


Amon’s car having an engine change at Monaco. Just how low these flat-12s sit in the car – a stressed component as you can see – is shown from this shot. Rear of the 123-73 is the same as 123-72; a design mandatory requested of Alan McCall.

(G Piola)

The overhead shot from a Monaco apartment shows the shape of PA123/6 and it’s width. Deformable structures were mandated by the FIA that season, some teams did a better job of integrating them than others.


Note fuel rail and Lucas fuel injection and forward facing roll bar. There is no need to knock the chassis, Amon said it was good.


Flat-12 engine output somewhere north of 420bhp while noting Amon’s view that it felt more like 400, inboard rear discs, Hewland FG400 gearbox,


The far more resolved location of ancillaries of the 1973 PA123 is clear. Note fuel metering unit, electronic ignition box and brake ducts.

Reference and photo credits…

MotorSport Images, Tecno Register,,, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, MotorSport, Automobile Year 21



Let’s finish where we started with the F1 cars; PA123/1 at Nivelles on debut in 1972. Rainer Schlegelmilch’s typically wonderful arty-farty shot of Nanni Galli during the Belgian GP weekend.


Bruce McLaren won the first Tasman Cup/Series in 1964 aboard the first ‘real McLaren’, a 2.5-litre Cooper T70 Climax FPF.

Two of these machines were designed and built by McLaren and his friend/confidant/mechanic and fellow Kiwi, Wally Willmott, at Coopers in late 1963.

The nascent Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team cars were raced by the boss and young, very talented American thruster, Tim Mayer. That years Tasman was a triumph for McLaren, he won three of the seven rounds, but it was also disastrous as Mayer lost his life in the final round at Longford.

This brochure was produced by BP as a handout during the ’65 Tasman, and is wonderful, I just-gotta share it with you.

Ex-Repco Brabham Engines senior technician Michael Gasking has become a good friend. He’s been in Melbourne (from Adelaide) this weekend to catch up with family and take in Motorclassica. He is also helping me with a new project, amongst all of his mega-collection of memorabilia and photographs was this little brochure I’ve never seen before.


Michael Gasking Collection


Jim Clark won the ’65 Tasman aboard a works Lotus 32B Climax, winning four of the seven rounds. Bruce won the Australian Grand Prix at Longford and was second overall aboard a Cooper T79, a new car akin to Cooper’s contemporary T77 and T75 F1/F2 designs.

Jack Brabham was third racing a new BT11A, with Phil Hill equal fourth in the surviving T70, together with Jim Palmer and Frank Gardner in Brabhams BT7A and BT11A respectively.