Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

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

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

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

King T35B #BC134

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

Murdoch T30 and T57C Atalante

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

Cripes these dudes use their cars!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ooh-la-la indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert’s T37 at Reefton Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a weekend.

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

Credits and Commerce…

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

The photographs are all mine, with one exception.

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

Tailpieces…

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

(B King)

Finito…

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

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

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

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

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

Off we go.

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

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

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

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

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

Dante Giacosa in the mid-sixties (unattributed)

Fiat 8001 Turbina general layout (unattributed)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caselle Airport, Turin 23 April 1954 (Fiat)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paris Car Show October 1954 (Getty)

(smcars.net)

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

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

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

Fiat 8V (Fiat)

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

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

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

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

(smcars.net)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Italianways)

Caselle Airport, 23 April 1954 (Fiat)

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporary automotive turbine perspective in September 1954…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etcetera…

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

(Italianways)

Credits…

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

Tailpiece…

(Getty)

Mass production of the Turbina after all!

Finito…

(NAA)

The heavies before the start of the AJC Trophy at Warwick Farm, fifth round of the Australian Touring Car Championship, on July 12, 1970.

Allan Moffat, Mustang Trans-Am, Jim McKeown, 911S, Pete Geoghegan, Mustang, you can just see Brian Foley’s 911S then Bob Jane’s Mustang Shelby Trans-Am on the dummy grid.

Moffat’s Trans-Am started from pole but he lost it in the first corner causing mayhem – Moffat, Geoghegan and Foley were out on the spot. McKeown led, Norm Beechey was up to second but then he lost a wheel gifting second to Bob Jane. It was the first ATCC round win for Porsche. https://primotipo.com/2016/05/11/jim-mckeown-porsche-911s-warwick-farm-1970/

 

The power of the internet continues to amaze, in this case Facebook. The two shots above and below are the earliest I have seen of Frank Matich.

They show his ‘road-registered family car, the Healey 100/4 with LJC Motors bored out 3-litre engine at Huntley’s Hill in 1957’ for the Australian Sports Car Club Wollongong Hillclimb Championship..

‘First Healey bored out to 3-litres. Had a job with the distributor driveshaft. After that the only Healey to offer any opposition was Frank Bennett and that did not last long. Five records in five starts was not real bad’ is the note FM wrote to his friend Alan Cummine, to whom we are indebted for these shots.

Matich’ career is covered in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

(A Cummine)

 

(Examiner)

We have lift-off. John Bowe and Alfie Costanzo smoke their Goodyears off the line at Symmons Plains at the start of the Gold Star race in 1980.

JB won the race in his Elfin MR8 Chev from Alf’s Lola T430 Chev. Costanzo set a lap record of 50.16 seconds that weekend which stood for forty years until it was broken by Thomas Randle’s Ligier JS3 Ford S5000 on January 25, 2021. He did a 49.864 second lap in the S5000 opener before winning the John McCormack Trophy, Gold Star event.

It was a great, gutsy race win, the 24 year old below had his last chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer on New Years Day.

A bit on John Bowe here; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/10/elfin-light-aircraft/

Thomas Randle delighted with his Symmons Gold Star win (S5000)

 

Randle’s Ligier JS3 Ford on the way to victory at Symmons- crowd limited to 5,000 given Covid restrictions. A magic weekend, was lucky enough to be there, these jiggers are magnificent, spectacular cars (Auto Action)

 

(S Griffiths)

Bob Jane had exquisite taste in racing cars didn’t he? I’ve said it many times. Here are his recently purchased Jaguar D Type and new E Lightweight.

Calder, Australia Day meeting, 26 January 1964. I wonder what the black single-seater is? See this piece on Bob’s various cars; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

 

(J Manhire)

Can ‘yer grab my helmet Alec- I gotta go. Kevin Bartlett talks to his headless team-chief at Wigram in 1968, it was the first Tasman Cup KB did in full, both Kiwi and Oz races.

That Brabham BT11A Climax was one of his favourite cars, he did pretty well that summer in what was by then an old car amongst all the multi-cylinder exotica. See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

 

(unattributed)

Otto Stone, MG K3 during the January 2, 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa, South Australia.

As adept behind the wheel as he was twidding the tools, he retired from the race after only completing one lap, with engine problems. Nine years later Otto prepared the Maserati 250F Stan Jones raced to AGP victory at Longford.

1950 AGP article here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/10/1950-australian-grand-prix-nuriootpa-south-australia/

 

(C Bottomley)

Marvellous shot of a Holden 48-215 in Bourke Street, Melbourne in 1959.

The post-office building stands, albeit as a retail emporium these days but the rest of the buildings in view copped the kiss-of-death from Whelan the Wrecker or one of Des Whelan’s mates. I wonder if YH-495 is extant? See here for a piece on Holden’s formative years; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/06/general-motors-holden-formative/

 

Triumph TR2 (B Young)

Grant Twining wrote in the marvellous Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’s FB page that ‘The 1956 Mercury Trial (The Mercury is Hobart’s local rag) was a big thing at the time. The Second World War was still in recent memory and Australia was just starting to recover economically from the austere post war years. In little old Tasmania, the well publicised ‘Mercury Trial’ was a significant event and eagerly followed by the public. Bob Young was on hand to capture these images in Salamanca Place’ dockside in Hobart.

All of which is fine and dandy but I’m buggered if I can find any details of the event – not even a piece in the sponsors product! It may be others out there are more patient than I. Do get in touch if you glean some deatails on the events duration, route and winner. Bob Young’s Tassie colour shots I’ve used many times before and just too good to ignore despite a paucity of information.

Humber (B Young)

I wonder if the Salamanca stage of the trial is a speed test or speed and braking? Note all the kegs of something nice. In the fifties this stretch is now filled with lots of wonderful cars, restaurants and places of fun. It is to the left in this mid-sixties shot of Constitution Dock looking towards Hobart CBD. The boats are possibly from a not long finished Sydney-Hobart.

(B Short)

 

(NAA)

I had one of these when I was 18. The car, the Capri.

I had two in my student years actually, a 1600 GT and 3-litre GT V6, the little fella was much the nicer car to drive. I never had an accessory as cute as the one above in either car, sadly. Must have been my Brut 33.

Speaking of which, Moffat’s Cologne Capri was a Capri of a quite different type. Robert Davies’ shot of the car upon debut during the Sandown Tasman meeting in February 1975 is the best shot ever taken of the car. Lacked torque amongst all the big hairy V8 Gorillas but it was yet another of Marve’s imports which so enriched our grids.

Cologne Capris here; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

(R Davies)

 

(Porsche)

Porsche’s PR machine has always blown me away. They do stuff in such an interesting kind of way.

When they put the 919 Hybrid away after several years of sterling service- a few Le Mans and WEC wins they enlisted Mark Webber and Marc Lieb to drive two of the cars 25km from Porker HQ in Weissach to their Museum in Zuffenhausen.

Milking plenty of teev, ‘paper and online coverage. Nice. The shot below is Webber’s 919 at Le Mans in 2014, check out this article; https://primotipo.com/2019/07/18/le-mans-arty-farty/

(Getty Images)

 

Walker with a couple of lovelies on the 1971 Zandvoort F3 grid, Lotus 69 Ford (J Ranger)

Its fifty years ago that one of Australia’s shooting stars had one of the most sensational F3 seasons ever- Dave Walker in his works Gold Leaf Team Lotus, Lotus 69 Ford-Novamotor during 1971.

In addition to winning everything in F3- he also had several F1 drives most notably aboard the incredibly sophisticated, complex, Pratt & Whitney gas-turbine powered, 4WD Lotus 56B.

Who knows, perhaps with some decent test miles under his belt he may have taken a podium finish during the wet Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. The shot below of the 56B is during dry practice.

Stay tuned for a feature on David Walker.

 

(T Carwithe)

Dave with Lotus Team Manager Peter Warr at Mallory Park during 1971. Walker was the the most successful of the Gold Leaf Lotus drivers that season. Emerson Fittipaldi and Reine Wisell didn’t win a GP, the first time in about a decade Lotus hadn’t won a championship round. Walker’s ascent to the F! team in 1972 was in part to placate British Tobacco.

The eagle-eyed will have noticed the A.I.R.O transporter behind Warr and Walker. The Australian International Racing Organisation was the rather flash name for the smell of an oily rag operation which ran two Australians in F3- Alan Jones and Brian McGuire.

(N Snowdon)

A.I.R.O. driver Alan Jones at it hammer and tongs with another up-and-comer, James Hunt at Brands Hatch during 1971. Brabham BT28 and March 713M.

Hunt the Shunt jumped out of F3 and into GP racing with Alexander Hesketh’s team in 1973, Jonesy was a year or so after him but no less successful!

Brian McGuire aboard his Williams FW04 Ford during the April 1976 BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.

Q18 and DNF lost oil/black-flagged in the race won by James Hunt’s McLaren M23 Ford.

The self made Aussie, a mate of Alan Jones, hailed from East Melbourne. He set off for England to race in 1966, paying his own way by dealing in cars and later caravans. He jumped from F3 to F5000 becoming a front-runner in the 1975 Shellsport F5000 Championship racing the ex-Bob Evans 1974 British F5000 Championship winning Lola T332 Chev.

He progressed to an F1 Williams FW04 Ford (aka McGuire BM1). He won a Shellsport 5000 European Championship race in the wet from pole at Thruxton in September 1976 – the first ever win for a Williams. It was in this car he crashed to his death, taking a flaggie with him, after component failure in practice for a Shellsport International Championship race at Brands Hatch on August 29, 1977 .

McGuire, Williams FW04 and crew in the Silverstone pitlane in April 1976 (peter.bryan.org.nz)

 

(NAA)

Soap-box race at Albany, West Australia in 1970.

It’s a shame that bloody Volvo buggered up a great shot.

What was the seventies Oz Volvo joke? ‘Wots the difference between a Volvo and a Porcupine? Answer- the pricks are on the outside of the Porcupine. Boom-boom. More billy-carts; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/10/spitty/

 

(J Barnes)

Some shots from Elsmore Hillclimb, east of Inverell in New South Wales.

The first shot shows John French’ Holden 48-215 at the far left, then the white RAWGS sportscar , the beautiful blue JWF Milano and the Barnes MG TC Spl at far right- thanks to Dick Willis for the IDs. The photographs below are from the carpark looking back up the hill.

(J Barnes)

 

(A Purcell)

A packed crowd at Oran Park for the start of the

From left, John Leffler’s Bowin P8 Hart-Ford ANF2 car alongside Phil Moore, Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden. On row 2 car 8 is John Goss in his just acquired Matich A53 Repco-Holden and on the right John McCormack in the other Ansett Team Elfin car- an MR6 Repco-Leyland.

There were two heats, Max Stewart won both is his Lola T330 Chev- this group are the back couple of rows in one of them. Max won the Gold Star that season.

1974 Australian Grand Prix at Oran Park; https://primotipo.com/2021/01/15/1974-australian-gp-oran-park/

(P Weaver)

Here is the car John Goss raced at Oran Park in the hands of its creator Frank Matich at Sandown Park during the February Tasman Cup meeting. Repco’s Ken Symes and Matich’ chief mechanic Derek Kneller pushing.

The Matich A53 Repco-Holden was the smallest, last and best of the six Matich F5000 cars, it is a great shame FM did not return to the US that year as planned. His boating accident and Joan Matich’ illness meant the time had come to retire.

Goss did well with the car winning the 1976 AGP at Sandown in an A51 updated to A53 specifications. See here for a feature on the Matich F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Above is Lella Lombardi in the same chassis Goss used to win the AGP at Sandown in 1976, A51 ‘005’.

When Goss used it, the car was converted to side-radiator A53 specifications similar to the shot of FM above. Lella is shown at Sandown’s Dandenong Road during the 1974 Victoria Trophy Gold Star round prior to contesting that years AGP at Oran Park, see here; 1974 Australian Grand Prix at Oran Park; https://primotipo.com/2021/01/15/1974-australian-gp-oran-park/

 

Reg Hunt, Maserati 250F during his successful March 1956, Moomba meeting.

He won both the 50-mile Albert Park Cup and 150-mile Argus Trophy feature from Lex Davison’s just acquired ex-Gaze Ferrari 500/625, Tom Hawkes’ ex-Brabham/Jones Cooper T23 Bristol, Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type and others.

By the end of the year he had been the fastest resident in the AGP, also at Albert Park and retired from racing. His ‘reign at the top’ extended from the arrival of his A6GCM Maserati 2.5-litre in early 1954 to the end of 1956.

Feature on Reg Hunt; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

 

 

(J Fitzpatrick)

Who said Jean Shrimpton was the first to wear a miniskirt in Oz?

Leggy-lass, as we say in polite society, and a chap with quite questionable clothing taste, and Austin Healey 100 outside the Broadbeach Hotel on Queensland’s Gold Coast in 1957.

Have always thought the Goldie a good place to fly over, the Queensland white-shoe brigade got better with their developments as they went progressively north.

 

Michael Andretti had a shocker of an F1 season with McLaren in 1993.

It was never going to be easy with the incredibly gifted and well established Ayrton Senna in the other car. The class was new to Mario’s boy. So too the tracks and the culture of F1. Stupidly, he continued to live in the US rather than camp somewhere close to McLaren in the Thames Valley. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/06/michael-andretti-and-f1/

Indycar was mighty competitive as well. To come back after a season away and win the first race of the season at Surfers Paradise in Malcolm Oastler’s brand new Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard 941 Ford Cosworth XB V8- his first Indycar design, was quite a feat.

Emerson Fittipaldi was second in the new Penske PC23 while Mario Andretti was third aboard his Lola T94/00 Ford in his final season- it was the great all-rounders final podium.

(unattributed)

Credits…

National Archives Australia, Auto Action, Stan Griffiths, Bob Young, Ben Short, Robert Davies, Getty Images, Janathan Ranger, Tony Carwithe, Nigel Snowden, MotorSport, peter.bryan.org.nz, John Barnes, Clive Bottomley, National Archives of Australia, Jim Fitzpatrick

Tailpiece…

(LAT)

Vern Schuppan, Mirage GR8 Ford on the way to third place at Le Mans in 1975.

He shared the car with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx won in another Mirage.

Finito…

(W Reid)

Warren Reid’s photographer father’s Sandown habits as a spectator were similar to my own. Prowl the paddock and watch the action from there – cars rounding Shell Corner and heading into Peters or Torana Corner.

I’ve already had a good go at this meeting so have provided links to the existing pieces, but these paddock shots are too good to miss. https://primotipo.com/2016/12/09/f1-driverengineers-jack-larry-the-68-agp-and-rb830-v8/

The first one is Pedro Rodriguez about to head out in the Len Terry designed BRM P126 V12- we were lucky enough to see Bourne’s new GP car in 2.5-litre form before commencement of the GP season. The high point of their summer was Bruce McLaren’s Teretonga win. BRM P126 here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/25/richard-attwood-brm-p126-longford-1968/

That’s Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax in the background.

(W Reid)

An overdressed Stirling Moss offers big Tim Parnell and one of the BRM mechanics some suggestions about coping with Australian heat.

There was nothing terribly wrong with this car that a Cosworth DFV couldn’t have fixed. BRM were in the wilderness from 1966 to 1969, finally hitting their straps again with Tony Southgate’s P153/P160 chassis and potent enough variants of their four-valve V12 in 1970-71. It was a long time coming for BRM fans.

(W Reid)

Car 12 is Richard Attwood’s P126 ‘02’. #11 is Pedro’s ‘01’.

(W Reid)

In many ways the stars of the show were the fastest GP cars on the planet at the time- the two Lotus 49 Fords of Graham Hill above in ‘R1’, and Jim Clark below in ‘R2’.

Clark and Chris Amon provided a thriller of a GP dice with Jim taking the flag by an official margin of one-hundredth of a second after an hour and three minutes of racing. Yet again Chris proved his talent and the potency of the Ferrari V6 relative to the 2.5-litre variant of the Ford Cosworth DFV 3-litre V8 dubbed DFW.

The 49 used a ZF five-speed transaxle initially, they were progressively replaced by the Hewland DG300 but at least one of the cars raced in the 1969 Tasman Cup was still ZF equipped.

(W Reid)

Skinny rears are to allow the 49 to fit on its narrow, cheap, open trailer! Lotus 49 in the ’68 Tasman see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/05/clark-hill-amon-longford-1968/

(W Reid)

 

(W Reid)

Denny Hulme ran his own show in 1968. When the Kiwi won the 1967 World Championship and let Jack know he was off to McLaren, any chance of Brabham running another car for him went out the window. In the end Brabham only did two rounds anyway.

Hulme (in the dark shirt below) ran an F2 Brabham BT23 Ford FVA to keep faith with his Australasian fans. He used two cars actually. He boofed the first at Pukekohe in a bad accident with Lawrence Brownlie and had to bring out another from England. This is the second car, BT23-2. The first was BT23-5 which became the basis of Bob Britton’s Rennmax BN3 chassis jig, a story well ventilated here a number of times. Brabham BT23 and ’67 Euro F2; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/02/the-wills-barc-200-f2-silverstone-march-1967/

(W Reid)

 

(W Reid)

Above is Jack Brabham’s bespoke 1968 Tasman car, BT23E’1’ being pushed through the paddock on raceday.

That SOHC, crossflow RBE830 Repco 2.5 V8 is making its race debut. The team fitted the engine and a jury-rigged oil system- the strange structure sitting atop the Hewland FT200 gearbox overnight. Jack was quick in the two rounds he contested, but the yield was seventh at Warwick Farm and a DNF at Sandown.

While Repco-Brabham V8s were F1 Champions in 1966-7 they didn’t win a Tasman Cup despite the engine being originally designed for the Tasman. In five years of Tasman competition Repco won a single round – Jack at Longford in 1967 in a ‘640’ engined BT23A. Repco were pretty happy with the competition dividend of said engines mind you…

BT23E was purchased by Bob Jane post Tasman and raced successfully for him by John Harvey into early 1970. It is now beautifully restored to the specification shown here. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

(W Reid)

Chris Amon, what a mighty racing driver. Ferrari Dino 246 chassis ‘0004’, his 1969 Tasman winner was chassis ‘0008’, the same jigger Graeme Lawrence raced so well to victory in 1970.

Those in attendance that Sandown Sunday still speak in reverential terms about the fantastic dice up front. It was Jim’s last win in Australasia and the ‘68 Tasman Cup was his last championship before that awful day at Hockenheim in 1968. Dino 246T here; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/21/amons-tasman-dino/

Moss and friends.

(W Reid)

These gorgeous Ferraris were unsuccessful 1.6-litre F2 cars, the Cosworth FVA despatched on ongoing belting to them from 1967 to 1971. As Tasman Formula, 2.4-litre machines they were a brilliant bit of fast packaging- light, nimble and powerful. Perhaps with a full works effort in 1968 Ferrari would have carted away another Tasman Cup.

Credits…

Warren Reid Family Collection

Tailpiece…

(W Reid)

Jim Clark blasts his Lotus 49 ‘R2’ along Pit Straight, third gear in Jim’s ZF gearbox.

Tarax is a long-gone brand of soft-drinks, since then swallowed (sic) by a bigger rival.

Finito…

First and final issues, February 1946 and April 1971, with 298 issues between (S Dalton Collection, as are all of the following images)

Recording history, as it happens was a very different process before internet based websites and twitispheres made for real-time instantaneous news access across the globe. February 2021 heralds 75 years since a doyen of Australian motoring journals began its journey. Let’s reflect…

World conflict had not long ceased when those with a motor sporting interest began thinking of ways of getting a little bit of their sport happening again – War related fuel rationing or not. The 500cc movement (and its Iota magazine) in the UK saw young John Cooper and a whole host of hopefuls garnering a passionate interest. The colonials had an interest too, and despite the same sort of restrictive measures in those early post war years, also made things happen.

The monthly, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ began its days from the Melbourne-based home of its founding editor/ publisher, Arthur Wylie, under the auspices of Wylie Publishing Co. He had pre-war Motor Racing/Speedway competition driving already on his resume and shared an engineering talent with his brother, Ken where they built their own racing cars and speedway midgets. But nothing relating to putting a magazine into production. In for a penny, in for a pound after his wartime Royal Australian Air Force service. Leading to setting up a small network of often well connected early correspondents, such as John Barraclough and Bob Pritchett to help fill the pages (and get the gossip) to cover all facets of ‘the sport’ – motorcycles, speedway and cars (and occasionally even boats). The ‘car folk’ very much like the UK relied on Hillclimbs as the main means of getting a fix early post conflict with road racing venues difficult to access. This is where the motorcycling clubs tended to lead the way sourcing new venues that the car folk would later often access and benefit.

Bruce Polain and Arthur Wylie aboard his Wylie Javelin at Amaroo Park in 1976 (B Polain)

 

Ken and Arthur Wylie at Western Springs Speedway, Auckland, NZ 1938. These cars are 2 of 4 kits imported from the US by George Beavis, make folks? (Just Midgets)

 

A small selection of 1947 and 1948 issues

The first AMS issue dated February 1946 started the Wylie Publishing formula complete with enough advertising and sold copy to help lead to a second issue…and a third… Usually dated to the 15th of the month in the first few years, with the distinctive blue toned cover to brighten things up in an era of basic printing means. That first issue even ran a very brief piece on the “…overseas magazines have been suggesting 500cc Car Racing, using motor cycle engines…” With, like the movement itself, things expanding over future issues and Cooper getting a run in the May ’47 issue (although in reality basically a re-use of UK’s The Autocar story). It would be 1950 before any Coopers arrived Down Under in the metal and Arthur Wylie was in the right place when that happened.

Talented artists tended to be well used as part of magazine publications everywhere during the times when the ‘dark art’ of photo reproduction was an expensive exercise. AMS was no exception, utilising the talents of Sydney-based artist/ enthusiast, Bob Shepherd. With a steady hand bringing forth his gifted ability to create illustrated columns such as ‘Vintage Competition Cars of Australia’ that began in the August 1946 issue and ‘Interesting Power Units’ beginning 12 months later.

Those with a penchant to capture an moving vehicle at close quarters were also welcome submissions in AMS with George Thomas and Ed Steet and many others from across Australia making contributions. With Ed even having time to put the camera down and compete on occasion.

There was another popular column that began in the August 1946 issue, ‘Australian Specials’ heralding what modern day historians can be forever grateful for in these concoctions being recorded in period. There was a fairly broad scope in what determined an Australian Special, some baring quite exotic basis, other less so. Budget dependent often and the builder’s talent also at play. That August ’46 issue sets things going with ‘The Day Special.’ The underpinnings of Jack Day’s special being Bugatti with a Ford V8 crammed in where Ettore’s straight-8 had once resided.

August 1946 issue and the debut of Bob Shepherd’s Vintage Competition Cars of Australia series, The Day Special

 

Beginnings of the ‘digest-sized’ era from June to December 1951 issues

 

February 1950 and Cooper gets featured on Australian soil. Phil Irving is shown on the right, Keith Martin (Cooper importer) on left

Arthur was also able to bring UK ‘Motor Sport’ editor, Bill Boddy onboard with his ‘English Newsletter’ column to keep the colonials familiar with what was happening in that part of the world. And on occasion things were reciprocated, with AMS stuff going into Motor Sport. Of course Bill was probably only trying to supplement the miserly pay handed out by Wesley J Tee, publisher of MS.

As mentioned earlier, Arthur Wylie was in the right position as both publisher and competitor to be the one who debuted Cooper into Australian motor sport at the 29-30 January 1950 Fisherman’s Bend race meeting. By engaging Arthur as driver, the original Australian Cooper importer, Keith Martin – under the guise of ‘Cooper Racing Car Distributors’ was hoping to showcase Cooper JAP exploits and get some publicity in AMS as a means to move the four cars he had just landed on Aussie soil four days earlier. Two were complete, the other two were imported minus body. Resulting in the February 1950 issue having the race report where things didn’t go as well as hoped with not enough preparation time between boat and racing. There was also the separate Cooper 1000 feature.

Then Arthur was back in the same Cooper’s seat for the 13 March 1950 Rob Roy Hillclimb meeting where he not only took Fastest time, but broke the course record with his 26.55 sec time. Although it didn’t turn into a rush of quick sales or fresh orders that Keith Martin had probably hoped. They did eventually sell, one of the bodiless cars as a rolling chassis to Ken Wylie, who completed the car and popped in a 500cc JAP. Keith Martin however was never responsible for importing another Cooper to these shores. But he did visit the UK and compete at the likes of 5 July 1952 Rest-and-be-Thankful Hillclimb in Scotland. Where, like many others before and after, he had a moment at the venue damaging the Cooper he was using.

From those humble beginnings, Cooper certainly played a major part in both Aussie motor sporting activities with AMS recording their many exploits over the next 15 odd years. Not that that was the exclusive domain of Cooper. Because AMS helped promote and record the growth of the sport as many ‘new’ racing cars, either arrived ex UK / Europe or was homegrown built in the Australian Special tradition. It was of course the period whereby the old nails from the UK and Europe motor racing could be cast off to the colonials as their hunger for fresh mounts gained momentum. Be they, even then, rare MG, Bugatti or Maserati and the like having reached their sell by date for those chasing victories with no further requirement for last year’s racing car in the northern hemisphere.

May 1947 issue ran this Cooper 500 feature

 

Lex Davison ready to clear his Ferrari 500/625 from his Lilydale property

The names of Davison, Jones,  Patterson, Mildren, Stillwell, Whiteford and a whole host of others can be tracked through the pages of AMS with their more obscure mounts of the 1940s taking them on their racing journey’s into the ’50s when they boldly stepped into the likes of Ferrari, Lago-Talbot, Maserati, D Type Jaguar and Cooper as their careers grew and more spending power became available to try to outgun each other on the circuits. Then into the ’60s as the Brabham/Tauranac inspired Cooper’s and Repco-Brabham’s became the preferred (or more the point, necessary) means to continue their competitive on track combats of 15 or more years that had begun somewhat more humbly with steads such as HRG, MG or Riley and Ford specials that were fairly easy to access, tweak or build in a back shed or servo with a few skills and basic tools.

Along the journey Arthur Wylie was able to take a little inspiration from Cooper, by way of building his own interpretation of a racing car where the driver sat low and forward of the engine. Originally known as the Jowett Javelin special, although more famously known as the Wylie-Javelin. This was Arthur’s way of constructing a car around Jowett’s Bradford-built flat four – livened up by his addition of a supercharger. That in the early ’50s was a fairly typical ‘hot-up’ to many car engines, be they humble to special with an owner ready for their quick HP fix. After Arthur had his fun with the car, it was owned and raced by others who used it as a stepping stone up the open-wheeler ladder. Tasmania’s John Youl being one who would go on and race a couple of Cooper Climaxes.
You can view and read about Wylie-Javelin, right here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/14/the-wylies-javelin-special/

Of course magazine publishing has always had its challenges, AMS was no exception on that front. Juggling the fine line of budget, gathering and/or writing the copy and advertising, printing and paper supplies. Or the complications of distribution across a vast country like Australia. And what I can easily relate to with simply these scribbles, a deadline quickly looms each month (for the Mini Cooper Register). AMS announced in their December 1949 issue they had been sourcing scarce paper supplies from Sweden to get by. But they weren’t happy on the quality stakes. Then by May 1951 it was another scarcity and the rising cost of paper issue announcement. Bringing about the shrunken A5 Digest-sized issues introduced from the June 1951 issue before a return to an A4 type magazine some three years later with the July 1954 issue – that was also the beginning of yellow cover era.

Mid-50s yellow cover era, shows the factory racing cars that were progressively taking over the grids

 

UK ‘Motor Sport’ editor, Bill Boddy moonlights with his summary of the then ‘just released’ BRM V16 for February 1950 AMS

By 1954 there was several new players in the Australian motoring magazine department, adorning newsagent shelves. Although Motor Manual, Wheels and Modern Motor were more general motoring scene related with a smattering of sport.

By 1957 the Aussie motor sport scene was beginning to flourish, however Arthur had decided enough and edited his last issue with July’s edition that year. He could finally take a proper holiday! Although the whiff of ink never completely stopped as he began a fishing magazine in the 1970s.

The sale began an era under Jim Webb’s ownership and influence and an era whereby proliferation of racing Cooper’s graced covers month on month. Which of course only reflected the number of Surbiton product touring from circuit to circuit across Oz during those late 50s/early 60s times.

That same timeframe saw new writers’ names appearing in AMS with the likes of Tuckey, Howard, Kable and Polain submitting copy during the growth of their motoring scribblers-related careers.

As the Mini era dawned, AMS covered things from even before the 1959 Mini release through to running a test of the Aussie Mk2 Cooper S ‘KMD 400’ press car in the May 1970 issue. UK rally driver, Brian Culcheth used the car during an Australian visit promotion. More broadly AMS covered a whole host of Mini related news, tests and even graced covers on a couple of occasions. And of course race track exploits scattered amongst many race reports.

AMS had some great classified adverts for a whole swag of wonderful machinery. Here Rupert Steele tries to move his ex-Barrett Alfa Monza

 

Talented artist Bob Shepherd, his work remains highly prized

No doubt as an attempt to broaden readership and sales, the AMS masthead was given a mid-life makeover by the addition of ‘& Automobiles’ to the cover upon publication of the August 1960 issue. By mid-1963 the title became part of Southdown Press, at the time they were a major player in all variety of Australian magazine publications.

I’m more than aware some enthusiasts with a motor sport historian side can be quite dismissive of the 1963/64 onwards era of the magazine. Especially given Racing Car News had popped up in 1961 and was now chasing the original AMS mantra to cover the sporting side of things. But some foolhardy souls prefer more than one source, so persist in having 25 years of hard copy AMS to the very end when things wound up with publication of the April 1971 issue. Representing 300 Individual issues (4 years had 11 issues only –  46, 55, 61 & 69) Winding up with staff such as Peter Robinson, moving towards a longtime stint as Wheels magazine editor. Before he headed for a motoring life and journalism in Europe.

Arthur Wylie was celebrated by the Aussie Historic movement over the weekend of 11-12 August 1990 with the Historic Amaroo race meeting run in his honour. He passed away on 26 July 1997 – just 4 days shy of his 86th birthday. He would probably be somewhat surprised all these years later enthusiasts are still utilising his journal to solve some obscure moment. Or simply perusing the for sale and classified adverts that showcase cars now worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions in today’s historic terms. But it’s tread easily, that ‘Swedish blond’ paper complained about in-house 70 odd years ago can be on the suntanned and delicate in 2021!

Of course, since AMS & A’s departure from the newsagents shelves, many other brave souls have come (and often gone) trying to establish motoring and motor sporting magazines. The irony there is that as one title ended its print run, Auto Action was beginning its journey. With it now up for celebrating 50 years – 1805 editions through the presses later. With presence on Twitter, Facebook, website or old fashioned hard copy that some of us old dinosaurs prefer. See here; https://autoaction.com.au/

1967 and 1968 issues with a variety of automotive ‘treasures’ and awkward publicity

Etcetera…

The email below was forwarded to Stephen Dalton by Peter Robinson, respected Australian magazine editor/writer in response to Paul Newby’s comments below about the final phases of AMS.

‘Hello Stephen

My thoughts on AMS. It was a long time ago, of course.

In 1966 I was working as a journalist at Keith Winser’s Australian Monthly Motor Manual. While I will always be grateful to Motor Manual for giving me a start (in 1962) in this business, it was a humble publication with no real aspirations for excellence. At the end of 1966 Winser sold to The Age and the small staff moved to the Age building in Collins street, Melbourne.

Shortly thereafter, in early 1967, Pat Hayes, editor of AMS approached me with a job offer and sold me on the idea that Southdown Press, owners of AMS, wanted to take on Wheels and Modern Motor as a more general motoring magazine with a strong motor sport content. Pat required somebody to take responsibility for road testing new models and, not knowing what would happen to Motor Manual (Len Shaw became editor and produced a much improved magazine that eventually became Car Australia).

I jumped at the chance. My first issue I was May, 1967, ironically, given my recent involvement with helping him write a book on his racing career, with Spencer Martin on the cover. My contribution was a story on car insurance. The road tests quickly became an important part of the magazine (we even dyno tested each car), alongside Mike Kable’s excellent motor racing reports and the other regular contributors. Sadly, when compared to Rupert Murdoch’s Southdown Press TV Week and New Idea, AMS remained a minor player in terms of circulation and advertising and was never given the financial support to break out of its newsprint paper quality or with a significant budget increase.

In late 1968, AMS was bundled into News Ltd’s Cumberland Press, based in Parramatta, NSW. The paper quality and reproduction improved, but the ambition to challenge Wheels disappeared. In mid-1969, Pat’s frustration led to his departure to the Age, where he became the newspaper’s letters’ editor. Len Rodney, already editor of Power Boat and Yachting magazine, became editor of AMS and my title changed from Assistant (editor) to Melbourne editor.

In November 1970, on the Austin Tasman/Kimberley launch, I meet Wheels’ new assistant editor Mel Nichols and we struck up a friendship. After Rob Luck resigned as Wheels editor, Mel turned down the job, believing he didn’t have the necessary experience. Mel suggested Murray Publishers approach me for the editor role, a huge step forward. As it turned out, my decision to move was most fortunate. In early March 1971, I moved to Sydney to run Wheels.

My name and byline appear in the March, 1971 AMS. Although I was largely responsible for the editorial and wrote the road tests (and showed up in photographs), my byline does not appear in the April 1971 issue, the last issue of AMS. Len Rodney’s name as editor was also dropped. Shortly after I moved to Wheels, I learned that Cumberland Press had decided to kill off both AMS and the boating magazine.

Hope this provides some worthwhile background.

Best.
Peter Robinson’

Credits…

Stephen Dalton- many thanks for a wonderful article. The images are all from Stephen’s Collection too

Finito…

 

Towards Hell Corner for the first time. Jones’ Maserati 250F, Gray’s blue Tornado 2 Chev with Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 at left. Mildren’s green Cooper T43 Climax FPF 2.0 then Tom Clark’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo 3.4 and Merv Neil’s Cooper T45 Climax FPF 1.7 (M Reid)

The October 6, 1958 Australian Grand Prix was regarded as one of the great AGPs- a battle between the big red Italian cars of Stan Jones and Lex Davison and the booming blue homegrown Australian special raced by Ted Gray.

In the end Davo’s evergreen ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625 prevailed over the 100 miles, while the attacks of Stan’s Maserati 250F and Tiger Ted’s Tornado 2 Chev fell short.

The event took on greater significance over time as it showed the front-engined Italians at the height of their power in Australia before the full force of the Cooper onslaught bit.

Lex Davison dips his fuel level before the off, Ferrari 500/625 (R Reid)

 

Ted Gray during his glorious run in front for two thirds of the race. Tornado exiting Murrays (R Reid)

Lou Abrahams and his team had developed, arguably, the fastest car in the country during 1958. In addition they had improved Tornado’s reliability as they addressed, step by step, shortcomings in the machines drivetrain exposed by the prodigious power and torque of it’s fuel-injected Chev Corvette 283cid V8 fitted later in 1957.

Stan Jones found the consistency he needed to win the Gold Star in 1058 but Tornado was quicker. Lex Davison, the defending champion, wasn’t seen during the Gold Star as the AF Hollins & Co crew took a long time rebuilding the Ferrari’s 3-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine which blew after piston failure during the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in January.

Gray’s promise was proved with a win in the heat which contained the quicker cars. Not only was the car speedy over a lap, he was also considerably quicker than the opposition down Conrod – 152.54mph from Davison’s 146.74 and Jones’ 139.5

Tension mounts before the start of the second heat. #22 Clark and Davison, then Gray and Jones. The dark car on the outside of row 3 is perhaps Len Lukey’s Lukey Bristol with Ray Walmsley’s Alfa Romeo P3 Chev on his inside. The red car with the white nose-roundel is Tom Hawkes modified Cooper T23 Holden-Repco Hi-Power (R Reid)

 

Tail of the field thru Hell on lap 1- Alf Harvey’s light blue Maserati 4CLT OSCA 4.5 V12 with what looks like, perhaps, John Schroder’s Nota Consul. Harvey’s just rebuilt Maserati won it’s heat but ‘blew a spark plug right through the bonnet’ on lap 16. The Nota was out on lap 10 (ABC)

Early in the race the lead changed between the big three, who cleared away from the rest of the field to lead by nearly a minute at the conclusion of the first 10 of 30 laps- at this point Gray was 8 seconds up on the Jones/Davison battle.

By lap 22 Ted was ahead by a steady’ish 10 seconds but pitted to report erratic handling. A messy, unplanned pitstop ensued during which fuel was topped up and slopped all over the place. A post-race examination showed cracked rear suspension mounts were the cause of the handling misdemeanors. Ted returned to the fray determined to make up the gap but in his haste, and still with his problem, Tornado glanced off the fence on the mountain, then did a couple of slow laps before retiring on lap 24.

Stan Jones then appeared set take a race he deserved to win (he did at Longford in 1959) but he had been shifting gears sans clutch for 7 laps- during his 26th lap the 250F dropped a valve and he was out. Davo completed the remaining four laps to win from Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Holden-Repco Hi-Power. It was a happy day for Ern as he prepared both cars, and Tom’s was out of oil with a split sump!

Stan The Man in one of his muscle-shirts while in the lead early on. Maserati 250F exiting Murrays (I think) into Pit Straight (R Reid)

Etcetera…

(R Reid)

Credits…

‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Ors, Ron Reid Collection, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Tailpiece…

(R Reid)

A slightly fuzzy Jones, Davison and Gray through Reid Park in the early laps before Ted cleared out- Maserati, Ferrari, Tornado.

Finito…

(D Simpson)

John Harvey in Bob Jane’s McLaren M6B Repco-Brabham V8 nailing Warwick Farm’s Esses on May 2 1971.

The late Australian champion, who died on December 20, 2020, raced so many different cars during a career from fifties speedway to noughties historic racing gave a big editorial challenge, what photograph to choose for the opening shot.

Dick Simpson’s shot took my breath away when i first saw it five years ago, it still does. A marvellous car being driven with precision was the John Harvey style- he won the 1971 and 1972 Australian sportscar championships with it. He applied plenty of brio albeit in a precise, economic kinda-way. Piece on the car here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/09/sandown-sunrise/

In the weeks that followed the death of a man universally respected and liked a swag of photographs hitherto unseen popped up on social media. Treat this as a visual tribute to John rather than a distillation of a career well known to many of us. The shots play to my bias, racing and sports-cars.

(A Howard)

Aboard the McKay Offenhauser at the Sydney Showgrounds in the early sixties.

(S Dalton Collection)

Ron Phillips gave John the opportunity to transfer from speedways to circuits with a Cooper S prepared by the gifted, and soon to be great Peter Molloy. They won plenty of races in 1965-6.

WF Pit Straight (K Starkey)

 

Peter Molloy, Leo Geoghegan and JH @ WF (K Starkey)

 

JH, Peter Molloy and BT14. Elfin Catalina behind, what is car #6? Cooper (K Starkey)

When Bib Stillwell retired from racing, his fourth Gold Star in his pocket at the end of 1965 he sold the lot, including his beautifully prepared, lightly raced Brabham BT14 Lotus-Ford twin-cam ANF 1.5 to Phillips for Harves to drive.

The fast, forgiving little jigger was initially raced at 1.5-litres, John won that years ANF 1.5 title, but the engine was gradually taken to 1860cc at which capacity Harvey gave the slower 2.5s a serious run for their money.

The three shots above were taken by Ken Starkey at Warwick Farm’s May 1966 meeting.

(B Simpson)

It was obvious to all that John’s rightful place was amongst the big boys so a Repco-Brabham 2.5-litre 640 (or 740?) V8 was acquired to pop into the little BT14.

Peter Molloy went to the Repco Brabham Engines Maidstone factory to help assemble the engine. With Rennmax’ Bob Britton leading the charge, Bob and Peter fitted the Repco V8 and beefier Hewland HD gearbox into the spaceframe chassis designed for an in-line small four.

It all sounds easy enough (sic), but it took a while to get the suspension geometry, springs/shocks/bars right, a process not assisted by the Repco’s haughty, flighty behaviour. This phenomena seemed to affect most Tasman 2.5 customers to a greater or lesser extent.

By the middle of the year Harves was happy with the car. Simpson’s shot above is the finest of it on a circuit where the snapper had bugger-all decent background to work with. JH is in the process of winning Oran Park’s Diamond Trophy feature in September 1967.

Ron Phillips, arch enthusiast that he was, found the cost of racing at the top level expensive. His desire to exit the sport was contemporaneous with Spencer Martin’s retirement plans at Bob Jane Racing.

And so it was that Harve’s slender frame replaced the similarly svelte Martin in Jano’s BT11A Climax in the December 1967 Hordern Trophy Gold Star event at Warwick Farm. There, John was second aboard the car with which Spencer had just won his second Gold Star on-the-trot behind Frank Gardner’s ‘spankers Mildren Racing Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo 2.5 T33 V8.

JH in Bob Janes BT11A Repco 740 crossing WF’s Causeway during the February 1968 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round (D Simpson)

 

John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco 740 from Kevin Bartlett, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 at Mount Panorama early in the Easter 1968 Gold Star meeting before John’s bad accident (G Toughill Collection)

Jane also bought the Brabham BT14 Repco from Phillips in a deal within the Shell Racing fold. Even though Harvey was at the end of Repco development dramas with the BT14 Bob decided to fit the Repco V8 sitting in it into the BT11A in place of its Climax 2.5 FPF. Maybe the slightly older BT11A frame was beefier than the BT14 but otherwise the plan sounds bonkers to me. Surplus to requirements, the BT14 was sold.

Harvey raced the BT11A Repco in the 1968 Australian Tasman Cup rounds, predictably, without much success. Bob Jane had a New Years present for John in the form of Jack Brabham’s ’68 Tasman mount, the Brabham BT23E Repco.

The thing nearly killed Harvey though. Despite the new car having only raced at the Surfers Paradise, Warwick Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds, a rear upright broke in practice for the opening Gold Star race of the year at Bathurst over the Easter 1968 long weekend.

John survived but was out for the year. Jane, typically, looked after him and popped him back in the car at JH’s request, a tad early really, that December. John again contested the Oz Tasman rounds and then raced the car through 1969 and into early 1970. Piece on the BT23E here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

JH BT23E Repco 830 at the right-hander before the Western Crossing. WF Tasman round, February 1970. These combination engine cover cum wings were common in F1 in 1969 post the Monaco GP hi-wing ban (D Simpson)

 

WF Tasman as above- from the Dunlop Bridge. Front wings @ stall? (D Simpson)

Jack Brabham’s two ex-works RBE830 V8’s (ex-Brabham BT31 two-race 1969 program) provided a bit more mumbo than the earlier spec 740, and the chassis was evolved with high and low wing-body packages as the rules pertaining thereto evolved. A bit like the Gardner/Bartlett BT23D, a BT23E photographic evolution from the ’68 Tasman to mid-1970 would make interesting viewing and give us all an understanding of the forces at play that the bigger local outfits were dealing with.

KB’s speed in 1968 carried him to his first Gold Star in BT23D Alfa and then on into 1969 when the superb Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ powered by the Alfa 2.5 V8, and then the first Waggott 2-litre TC-4V engine late in the season.

Dick’s BT23E Forrest Elbow Mount Panoarama closeup during the Bathurst Easter 1970 meeting. Right at the end of its frontline career. Loved Harve’s Peter Revson inspired helmet (D Simpson)

Harvey’s best result was a win from pole at Sandown in September and second at Bathurst, a year after ‘his biggie’. He was quick everywhere, but the Repco shat-itself at Symmons, Mallala and Surfers Paradise. At Warwick Farm he boofed the car and did not start the Hordern Trophy. He was equal fourth in the title chase with Niel Allen, behind Bartlett, Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco and Max Stewart’s Mildren Waggott.

By this stage of the game Bob and John realised they needed a new car. Bob Britton knew BT23E well having repaired it after Harveys ‘biggie’ and Allan Moffats ‘littleie’ at Sandown when a wheel parted company going up the back-straight. Given 1970 was the last year in which the 2.5s were Gold Star kosher, Jane engaged Britton to build an ‘updated BT23E’.

His brief was to address the suspension geometry- the width and profile of the Firestones Harvey used in late 1969 were quite different from the Goodyears Ron Tauranac had in mind when he whacked together BT23E in late 1967. The bodywork and wing-package was evolved and a tube or three inserted here and there to stiffen things up a bit.

JH McLaren M6B Repco, Mallala October 1970 (J Lemm)

 

JH, Jane Repco 830 during the October 1970 Mallala Gold Star round. DNF suspension, Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott won the race and series. Nice Stobie pole behind best avoided (J Lemm)

Time is of the essence of course. Harvey’s 1970 Gold Star assault was cruelled a bit with a ‘Jane Repco’ that had insufficient testing time. Mind you, Garrie Cooper could play the same card as to his Elfin 600D Repco, one of his sexiest cars. So too could Leo Geoghegan, but once the Waggott 2-litre was popped into the back of Leo’s new Lotus 59B he had reliability he needed to lift a trophy he thoroughly deserved.

Bartlett was in the US for much of that year so the standard-setter of the last two years was ‘AWOL’, providing an opportunity for the rest. Leo won the title with two wins from six rounds with Max Stewart second and Harvey third- both also took two rounds. Harvey won at Symmons Plains and Sandown. He used BT23E in Tasmania and the Jane Repco from Lakeside where he was second but was 2 laps adrift. At Oran Park he was sixth, his fuel pump failed at the Farm and he had suspension failure at Mallala. Article on the 1970 Gold Star; https://primotipo.com/2019/07/05/oran-park-diamond-trophy-gold-star-1970/

JH, Brabham BT36 Waggott, AGP 1971 Warwick Farm Esses (L Hemer)

Bob Jane never allowed grass to grow under his feet. The Jane Repco was sold sans-engine and had an after-life as an F2 car. At around the same time he placed orders for a Brabham BT36 F2 car and a Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 from John Joyce.

By the time the BT36 arrived and was fitted with a 2-litre Waggott the car was an also-ran as the F5000s by then- the ’72 Tasman, had reliability, sorta, as well as pace.

John raced it in the November 1971 AGP at Warwick Farm (Q3! DNF broken exhaust) and then at ‘home’ Sandown where Q12 and seventh was the yield.

When the Bowin P8 was ready during 1972 the Brabham was sold to Denis Lupton and Ian Cook, sadly Cook died in the car at Sandown in a practice accident in 1973.

John rated the ‘radical’ rising, or variable rate suspension, sinfully sexy Lotus 72 inspired oh-so-compact Formula 5000 car. If you can sense my Bowin bias your emotional intelligence is finely tuned.

JH Bowin P8 Repco from John Walker’s similarly engined Matich A50 in Warwick Farm’s Esses on 30 September 1972 (D Simpson)

Bob Jane Racing’s primary sponsor was Castrol. Most dumb-arse punters liked/like taxis, so Castrol liked taxis. Bob Jane Racing’s best cars (the P8 and M6B) were put to one side and the taxis were given an extra cut and polish.

So we- Jane, Harvey, Bowin’s John Joyce and open-wheeler nutbags never got to see the P8’s full potential. As factory built by Joyce and his team the it was a beautifully integrated bit of kit.

It is ironic that the driver who did the most to establish the Bowin marque, the great John Leffler also, unintentionally, did the P8 the ‘most harm’.

Leffo was mighty quick in two Bowin P4A Formula Fords in 1971-2 then won the 1973 Driver to Europe Series in a rising-rate P6F. He was potentially the F2 Championship winner in 1974 in a rising-rate P8 but the car arrived late. That’s not quite right. He had the car early and then booked it early in the season requiring a rebuild around the ex-Jane P8 tub. When Joyce and Leffler sorted it mid-year it was a jet.

For 1975 John bought a cheap Chev F5000 engine to the by then rebuilt P8 he crashed at Amaroo early in 1974. His team adapted the motor to a car designed for a Repco-Holden. The tight lines of the original were buggered by exhausts up in the airstream and outsized radiators. Worst of all, the critical mating of engine to chassis gave the thing the rigidity of a centenarians-todger so the package handled badly. It nearly won the 1975, wet Surfers AGP mind you, but the reputational damage was done. Leffo went off and bought a Lola T400 and bagged a Gold Star.

Gawd! Wot mighta-been had Bob Jane Racing developed that car with Harvey at the helm!

(D Simpson)

A few touring cars to finish off.

JH was quick in everything, depending on the year he may have jumped between Brabham, McLaren and a Mustang or Holden Monaro or Torana during the same weekend. Such a lucky man, what a diet.

Here it’s Jane’s second Mustang, the thing which was born as a ‘390’ but is here running at 4.7 or 5-litres during the September 1969 Mallala Australian Touring Car Championship round.

(L Hemer)

The most hunky Sports Sedan of all was Jane’s John Shepard built Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco-Brabham RBE620 4.4-litre V8. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

Lynton Hemer has caught John at Oran Park in 1971 in the short period the high-wing was run. It upset CAMS so was removed.

(A Lamont)

At the December 1974 Baskerville meeting in the B&D Autos Holden Torana L34 5-litre V8.

(M Thomas)

Harvey and hard-man Allan Grice extend their Holden Torana A9X 5-litre cars during the Wanneroo Park, Perth ATCC round in May 1979. Car #87 is Ric Rossiter’s Torana L34.

Peter Brock won the race in the other Holden Dealer Team car, Harvey was second and Grice third. Bob Morris won the title in Ron Hodgson’s A9X.

(M Thomas)

 

(oldracephotos.com/Jenkins_

Harves blasts the Group A Holden VK Commodore 5-litre around the 3.3km Wellington Harbour track in 1987.

He and Neil Lowe were second in the first World Touring Car Championship round from their Peter Brock/Allan Moffat Holden Dealer Team teamates. It was a most impressive performance with most of Europe’s Group A topliners contesting the event.

Etcetera…

(B Pearson)

JH in Ron Phillips’ BT14 Repco 740 during 1967, circuit unknown.

(S Dalton Collection)

No time to wave to Ron MacKinnon as John plunges past his ‘Mountford’ property on the run down to the Viaduct during the very wet final Longford in March 1968. Not a place for the faint of heart at any time let alone in the pissin’ rain. Brabham BT11A Repco.

(K Bright)

Harvey in BT23E returning to the Sandown paddock during the September 1969 Gold Star meeting, an event he won. A good win too, from Bartlett’s Sub and Niel Allen’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA. That’s Henk Woelders’ Elfin 600B Ford behind.

Credits…

Dick Simpson, Alan Howard, Ken Starkey, John Lemm, Ken Bright, Geoff Toughill Collection, Lynton Hemer, Slim Lamont, Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com, Murray Thomas, Bill Pearson

Tailpiece…

On the dummy grid at Phillip Island historics not so many years ago at all. I wonder what he made of a return-bout with a car he loved in-period despite a race program which was pretty short. Brabham BT36 Waggott 2-litre TC-4V.

Finito…

WB during practice (B Henderson)

Warwick Brown was the star of the show but didn’t win the AGP thanks to the failure of a crankshaft torsional vibration damper in the Peter Molloy tweaked Chevy V8 of his Lola T332.

To a large extent I covered this meeting in an article about Lella Lombardi a couple of months ago but the release of these photographs by photographer/racer Bryan Henderson made it clear that a second bite of the cherry was a good idea. See the Lella piece here; https://primotipo.com/2020/09/07/tigress-of-frugarolo/

Brown was the ‘form driver’. He was the first Lola T332 customer, he raced ‘HU-27’ throughout the 1974 Tasman Cup, then did the first Gold Star round at Oran Park before heading to the US to take in three US F5000 Championship rounds in which the Lola/Molloy/Brown/Pat Burke combination were extremely competitive.

WB was Q7, second in heat and 11th overall at Ontario, Q12, fourth in his heat and fifth overall at Laguna Seca and  then finished his tour with Q9, second in his heat and third overall at Riverside. It was not bad at all coming into their season ‘cold’ in the sense that four rounds had been contested by the time WB and Peter Molloy arrived. Brown came back to Australia razor sharp, those at the front in the US included Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, James Hunt, Al Unser and Bobby Unser, David Hobbs, Vern Schuppan and the rest.

Teddy Yip, WB and another in the OP paddock (B Henderson)

 

KB T332 from Max T330 (B Henderson)

Max Stewart was well prepared. His Lola T330, ‘HU1’, the very first development machine raced a couple of times in England by Frank Gardner in late 1972 before its sale to Max, gave nothing away to anybody. It was increasingly reliable to match the speed present from tits debut in Max’ hands at the start of the ’73 Tasman Cup.

Graeme Lawrence raced his T332 in the 1974 Tasman whereas Kevin Bartlett’s was a newer car, first raced at Oran Park. KB had a shocker of a Tasman. A crash at the Pukekohe NZ GP opening round broke the car and a leg and hip, but he would be on the pace having built up a car around a new Lola T332 tub.

Graeme Lawrence, Lola T332 Chev with a Birrana in the background (B Henderson)

 

Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden (B Henderson)

The Elfin MR5s were now long in the tooth having first raced in mid-1971.

John McCormack was back in his given the unreliability and lack of power of the Repco-Leyland V8 fitted to the compact Elfin MR6. Mac, the reigning champion had a shocker of a 1974 Gold Star, an accident at Surfers due to a structural failure ensured he missed the Calder round while repairs were effected to the front bulkhead.

McCormack ‘re-possessed’ his MR5 for the AGP. 1973 Australian Sports Car Champion Phil Moore had driven the car throughout the Gold Star with good pace and reliability despite few test miles. In fact he was the best placed of the Ansett Team Elfin pilots that year, ending the season third despite missing the final two rounds at OP and Phillip Island.

Garrie Cooper was still racing his MR5 which was a mobile test-bed for the talented designers new ideas.

The MR6 became a competitive car when the Repco-Holden engine was fitted and the front suspension geometry revised. Whilst 50kg heavier than the aluminium Leyland, the Repco-Holden’s 520 bhp was not to be denied, Mc Cormack won the 1975 Gold Star racing this combination.

McCormack’s Elfin MR5, 1973 Gold Star Champion  (B Henderson)

 

Jon Davison working his Matich A50 Repco-Holden hard- look at the distortion of those Goodyears. A man very much on the pace when he acquired a T332 (B Henderson)

Matich standard bearers were Jon Davison’s ex-John Walker A50 Repco, chassis ‘004’ was the car Walker raced in the 1973 L&M. John Goss raced Frank Matich’ 1974 Tasman car, chassis ‘007’ the very last Matich built. This A53 was a sensational device, A51/53 ‘005’ won the 1976 AGP in Goss’ hands at Sandown.

The A53 JG used to win at Sandown was the car raced by Lella Lombardi at Oran Park during this 1974 weekend. Then in A51 spec, it was one of the two chassis raced by Matich in the 1973 US L&M F5000 championship. The other, for the sake of completeness, ‘006’, was destroyed in a Warwick Farm testing accident in A52 spec with Bob Muir at the wheel in later 1973.

Lombardi had a big year of F5000 racing in Europe. Her primary campaign was aboard a Shellsport Lola T330 Chev. Late in the year she ran in the US and Australia when promoters could see the value in a ‘crowd-pulling chick’ amongst the fellas.

The ‘Tigress of Turin’ did not disappoint in Australia despite racing an unfamiliar car. Her crew included Frank Matich and later multiple Gold Star champion Alfie Costanzo as interpreter.

I don’t think anybody was going to beat WB at this meeting had he finished but I could easily see how Lella could have been on the podium especially if she were aboard her own T330, but it stayed in the UK.

Lombardi sitting on Matich tub ‘005’ during practice (B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

Gloomy faces all round in the Goss camp. The Repco engine has run a bearing, without a spare JG is out for the weekend. The dude in the white T-shirt is Repco’s, or perhaps ex-Repco by then, Don Halpin. The fella with his back to us is Grant O’Neill who moved across with the A53 from Matich to Goss as FM wound down his operation in Cremorne. Grant looked after Goss’ open-wheelers and Falcons for some years.

Warwick Brown was predictably quick in all sessions. After he did a 65.3, the team packed up and left the circuit but crafty Max bolted on a set of British Goodyears and nicked pole late in the final session with a 65.2. Bartlett was third on the grid with 65.9 with Lombardi fourth hampered by clutch failure. She finally did some decent laps stopping the Accusplits at 67.0 dead.

The grid was a very skinny nine cars. John Leffler made the cut with his gorgeous, very fast Bowin P8 Ford-Hart 416B ANF2 car. As mentioned above Goss lost an engine with bearing failure in the morning warm-up.

From left- Lombardi, Brown, Bartlett, Stewart and a glimpse of McCormack (HAGP)

From the off WB led convincingly all the way to his engine failure on lap 50. Lombardi got a great start and led the two amigos, Bartlett and Stewart but both passed the pint-sized Italian by the end of the first lap.

So it was Brown, Stewart, Bartlett with Lombardi and McCormack falling back, then Lawrence, Davison, Cooper and Leffler. After about 15 laps KB passed Max, aided by the Jolly Green Giant’s broken rear roll bar mount and stripped second gear- the latter damage was done at the start.

Leffo gave Garrie Cooper heaps in the little Bowin, well suited to Oran Parks new ‘twiddles’ with John well aware of the MR5’s strengths and areas of opportunity having done a few races in Max’s MR5 late in 1973. Lombardi caught Stewart but the big fella strenuously resisted her passing manoeuvres, then on lap 47 her oil pump failed causing the Holden engine to seize.

Bartlett from Stewart (B Henderson)

 

John Leffler, Bowin P6 Ford-Hart ANF2. Leffo did a million race miles in this car in 1974, all of the F2 championship rounds where he was amongst the class of the field headed by the Leo Geoghegan and Bob Muir Birrana 274/273, and the Gold Star rounds giving Grace Bros plenty of exposure and racegoers much pleasure given his brio behind the wheel (B Henderson)

 

Lombardi, Matich A51 Repco (B Henderson)

Two laps later WB’s harmonic balanced was hors ‘d combat which gave Kevin Bartlett the lead. For a while the Australian Triple Crown seemed possible- the Gold Star, Bathurst and an AGP. Then, on lap 58 of 61 laps KB’s Lola was starved of fuel, the T332’s pumps were not picking up the last 13 litres of juice!

Stewart took the lead, and despite his machine’s disabilities, won the race from McCormack’s, Elfin MR5, Graeme Lawrence’s T332, a lap down with an engine not at its best, then Jon Davison’s Matich A50 Repco and Garrie Cooper’s MR5 Repco- five finishers. There was no future in AGP’s being run other than during our summer internationals, whatever the formula, to get decent grids.

WB was ‘man of the match’ but lucked out, Lola T332 Chev (B Henderson)

Brown was the man of the meeting, getting back on the Lola horse which nearly killed him (a T300 Chev) at Surfers Paradise in 1973 was mighty impressive. WB carried the momentum forward, winning the 1975 Tasman Cup in this car, the only Australian to do so. He did get an Oran Park AGP win in 1977 too, on the day Alan Jones pumped the start bigtime.

It was a pity Lombardi didn’t return to Australasia for the 1975 Tasman but she had bigger fish to fry. Funding was in place so it was F1 in 1975 as a member of the March team together with Vittorio Brambilla.

Max Stewart takes the chequered flag, with barely a soul to see. What Covid 19 friendly meeting! Not really, just no spectators in that part of the world.

Stewart was like a fine wine wasn’t he, he got better and better with age? He was not exactly in the first flush of youth when he got the second Alec Mildren seat with Kevin Bartlett in late 1968. He won his first Gold Star in 1971 in the Mildren Waggott and then took to F5000 like a duck to water.

His Oran Park win was his fifth 1974 Gold Star victory in a row. It won him the title. Maybe he was lucky to win the AGP in the pissing rain at Surfers twelve months hence but those in front of him dropped out with drowned electrics. Max, who prepared his car together with Ian Gordon had electrics which functioned, that is, he made his own luck.

Etcetera…

(B Henderson)

Poor Susie Ransom (?) is trying to interview KB who is more interested in a glass of Pophry Pearl at the Leppington Inn after the meeting. Commonsense then prevailed with questions about tyre pressures, wing settings and roll-bar stiffness addressed.

(B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

Teddy Yip was omnipresent throughout the weekend. Here he is pointing out the Matich tacho-telltale in Mandarin. Lella’s English was not flash, I doubt Mandarin was effective so they probably settled with English.

Teddy was getting the lie of the land and perhaps starting to think about the deal which saw him bring a Lola T332 to Australia for our 1976 Rothmans International. Vern Schuppan raced a Yep/Sid Taylor Lola T332 to victory that summer.

(B Henderson)

Goss with his team bemoaning the bearing failure in his Repco-Holden engine, he knew a thing or two about that particular affliction didn’t he? Blazing the Falcon GT Hardtop Group C path in 1973 gave plenty of bottom end dramas which was eventually sorted with an engineering solution which met the good graces of the CAMS.

(B Henderson)

The Elfin MR5 is a bit maligned in some quarters. The most highly developed of the four cars built was John McCormack’s ‘works’ machine which won the 1973 Gold Star as well as the New Zealand Grands Prix in 1973 and 1974 despite Mac first racing it in later 1971.

(B Henderson)

 

(B Henderson)

So near but so far, Bartlett had the ‘Triple Crown’ of Australian motor racing chance but it was not quite to be!

He won a heat at Surfers and had the second in the bag until a front tyre deflated. In a season where he showed the Pukekohe accident had not cost him a tenth, he was second to Stewart at Calder and Sandown and then took victory at Phillip Island’s last round after a great dice with Stewart.

(B Henderson)

Lella ready to boogie.

Credits…

Bryan Henderson, many thanks for the fantastic photographs.

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Others, Getty Images, Fairfax Media

Tailpiece…

(B Henderson)

Graeme Lawrence in the ‘star car’ of F5000, the Lola T332. Engine troubles ruined his AGP weekend. The 1970 Tasman Cup champion was in a three way shootout several months later to win the 1975 Tasman together with Warwick Brown and John Walker in the Sandown final round but the cards fell Brown’s way.

Finito…

(P Jones)

Alec Mildren’s new, fifth-placed Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 during the February 23, 1958 Gold Star weekend.

Stan Jones won the 28 lap, 50 mile ‘Victorian Trophy’ race in his Maserati 250F from Arnold Glass’ Ferrari 555 Super Squalo and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S sportscar.

Many thanks to Melbourne enthusiast Peter Jones for sharing his photographs taken during a number of Fishos’ race meetings in the mid-fifties when he was in his mid to late teens. Thanks to Stephen Dalton for painstaking research post-publication to nail all the meeting dates.

Don’t Peter’s marvellous colour shots bring a drab airfield circuit to life? Many of the photographs were taken at this Victorian Trophy weekend, the second of nine Gold Star rounds, the title won by Stan Jones that year.

‘Patons Brake Replacements’ were omni-present at the time, a major trade supporter of our sport, they were ultimately absorbed within the Repco Ltd automotive manufacturing conglomerate. See this piece about the inner-suburban Melbourne airfield track; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/15/fishermans-bend-melbourne/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Tornado 2 Chev, the most successful form of the Lou Abrahams/Ted Gray/Jack and Bill Mayberry two racers. Bill and Lou are at far left.

Ted led the race early and was running in the top 4 when he pitted to address throttle linkage problems on lap 10. He rejoined and was third by lap 20 but the engine lost its edge, finally retiring after 26 laps.

Tornado won the Longford Trophy the following weekend. It was without doubt one of the fastest-if not the fastest car of 1958 together with Jones 250F, Ern Seeliger’s  Maybach 4 Chev and Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 when it raced. It was not the most reliable though.

October 1957 (P Jones)

As regular readers will know I am a huge fan of everything and everyone to do with the Tornados. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/ . Oh yep, a shorter one here too; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/20/teds-tornado-and-lens-cooper/

October 1956 (P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Sabina Motors entered, Reg Nutt driven Cisitalia D46 Fiat 1,100, October 1957 meeting. Bailey’s Talbot-Lago T26C alongside.

This car was imported by Melbourne’s Dale Brothers in the early fifties but seems never to have been raced ‘really intensively’ in period. I recall it appearing at Sandown in the mid-seventies in one of the historic events which supported the annual taxi-enduro. At that stage it was part of the Leech Brothers Collection in Brighton, Melbourne. Long since departed our shores.

Such significant cars. Doug Nye credits Dante Giacosa’s 1946 design for Piero Dusio as the first modern customer spaceframe. ‘The production racing car trendsetter for an entire generation of designers’. Little bit about it here at the start of this Cooper Bristol piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/24/the-cooper-t23-its-bristolbmw-engine-and-spaceframe-chassis/

Reg Nutt is a story himself, he was a riding mechanic in the Phillip Island twenties GP years and then a racer of note.

(P Jones)

David McKay, Aston Martin DB3S during the February 1958 meeting.

David chose not to race in the Formula Libre Gold Star round, how did he do in the sportscar races folks?

This ex-works car, chassis ‘DB3S-9’ is the second of his two Aston Martin DB3S. Perhaps its biggest Oz win, in a field of some depth was the Australian Tourist Trophy at Mount Panorama that October. The customer ‘Kangaroo Stable’ machine was ‘DB3S-102’. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/31/yes-frank-i-love-it-magnificent-in-fact/

(P Jones)

Owen Bailey’s ex-works-Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C from ace racer-engineer Otto Stone, MG K3.

The French machine won AGPs for ‘Dicer-Doug’ in 1952 and 1953 at Mount Panorama and Albert Park before it was replaced by an older and supposedly quicker machine.

Owen Bailey lined up for the start but transmission failure meant his race ended before it started. He did not have a great deal of luck racing this car.

See articles about T-Ls here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/16/1953-australian-grand-prix-albert-park/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/09/fill-her-up-matey-lago-talbot-t26c-melbourne-1957/

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type.

The car first raced at the 1956 March Moomba meetings at Albert Park. Meeting date 13/14 October 1956, Jack Davey was the next owner in early 1957. See this feature for a full history of ‘XKD520’; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Terry McGrath advises the XK120 #45 above is Murray Carter’s car.

(P Jones)

Poor Arnold Glass is stuck in the intake of his glorious ex-works-Reg Parnell Ferrari 555 Super Squalo ‘555-2’ during the ’58 Gold Star weekend. ‘It’s arrived not long ago from New Zealand, still has the NZ rego #495795 on the nose’ said Dalton.

Glass was second behind Jones’ 250F and in front of Whiteford’s 300S.

Australia’s ‘Big Red Car’ era ran from the arrival of Reg Hunt’s 2.5-litre Maserati A6GCM in 1954 and ended, say, after Stan Jones AGP win at Longford in March 1959. The little marauding Coopers were well on the march by then but not yet dominant.

The fans were excited by Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, the 250Fs of Hunt, Jones, Bib Stillwell and Glass, the 300S of Doug Whiteford and Bob Jane and this car raced by Glass. It wasn’t the quickest thing around, he got on better with his ex-Hunt-Stillwell 250F but it was still a fast, spectacular car the very successful motor dealer drove capably.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/10/10/squalo-squadron/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Bib Stillwell discusses progress with a mechanic, ex-Hunt Maserati 250F chassis ‘2516’.

He ran well in the first couple of laps with Stan Jones but then pulled over at Matchless Corner with bent valves. Bib raced with his usual race number 6, these shots of the car the October 1957 Fishermans Bend meeting.

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

Stillwell’s preparation and presentation was five-star, it is intriguing why he has not re-painted Reg Hunts luvverly Rice Trailer in his own colours. Make and model of the American car folks?

Reg Hunt tested and acquired the machine at Modena in December 1955, first racing it in Australia at Gnoo Blas. He won the South Pacific Championship in it and ‘was the class of 1956’ behind it’s wood-rimmed wheel. Who can fault his choice of early retirement to focus on his growing dealership empire but our grids were robbed of a great competitor. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

October 1957 (P Jones)

By this stage of his career Stillwell’s Kew Holden dealership and related enterprises were spitting off serious wads of cash, the quality of his racing cars reflected this.

An arch enthusiast, as well as an elite level racer- no driver other than Bob Jane had so many sensational racing cars ‘in period’ and later in his life when he returned to racing ‘historics’ globally.

(P Jones)

With a keen eye on the growing speed of Coopers, Bib bought the T43 Climax (above) Jack Brabham raced in the 1958 New Zealand Internationals and South Pacific Championship race at Gnoo Blas in January. Jack won the Levin International and the Soupac Championship in the 2.2-litre Climax FPF engined machine.

Bib practiced both the Cooper and Maserati at Fishos, he elected to race the 250F.

He entered the Cooper in the Bathurst Easter meeting where the 1.7-litre FPF engined car (presumably Jack took the 2.2 back to England) was very fast. In a 3 lap preliminary Bib started from pole but his new Cooper jumped out of gear. He quickly plucked it and set off amongst the mid-field bunch but touched wheels with Alec Mildren’s similar car (our opening shot machine) in the first turn- Hell Corner. The car somersaulted several times before landing back on its wheels. Bib was ok with facial cuts and abrasions but the Cooper was a tad worse for wear. After repair it was sold to Bill Patterson who raced it for the first time at Lowood in August.

Stillwell raced the 250F throughout the rest of 1958 and sold it to Arnold Glass in early 1959 after a good run to sixth in the Ardmore NZ GP. Carroll Shelby’s 250F was the best placed front-engined car that afternoon, two laps adrift of Stirling Moss winning 2-litre Cooper T45. It was very much time to sell, Arnold did very well with it in 1959-1960 all the same!

October 1956 (P Jones)

Paul England and Bill Hickey’s Ausca Holden-Repco is one of the sexiest and quickest of Australian sportscars of the period.

Ya can’t go wrong with styling nicked from the Maserati A6GCS! The ladder-frame chassis machine was built after-hours by Paul and Bill at Repco Research in Sydney Road Brunswick. It used a Holden front-end, rear axle and engine. It was the rolling test bed for the Repco Hi-Power Holden Grey-Six engine developments.

England’s skill at twiddling a wheel did the rest. Happy to have this little baby in my garage. Not sure of the meeting date.

October 1956 (P Jones)

 

October 1956 (P Jones)

Hedley Thompson’s Edelbrock Special.

Thompson, a highly skilled welder/fabricator employed by Trans-Australian Airlines operated from a workshop behind his home in Melbourne’s inner-eastern Deepdene. The car used a ladder frame chassis and Ford V8 with lots of Vic Edelbrock bits within- hence the name. The gearbox was also Ford, the rear end incorporated a quick-change Halibrand diff. A Delage donated the brake-drums which used Holden cylinders and Holden worm and roller steering.

The car made its debut sans-bodywork at Hepburn Springs in 1956 and later passed to Barry Stilo who made it sing. It exists today, a quite stunning car.

(P Jones)

Ern Seeliger’s Maybach 4 Chev in the ’58 Fishermans Bend paddock.

This thing was still quick in 1959, Stan Jones won the Port Wakefield Gold Star round in it.

Seeliger did a mighty fine job replacing the Maybach SOHC-six with a Chev Corvette V8. Additionally, considerable changes were made to the rear suspension and other refinements- Maybach 3 became Maybach 4.

Ern was like a rocket at the Bend! He hassled Stan early then passed he and Glass for the lead. The look on the face of the cars owner- Stan Jones would have been priceless! But it was not to be. Ern started the race with worn tyres, he was black-flagged when the stewards caught sight of white breaker-strips on the hard worn tyres!

See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/09/stan-ernie-and-maybach-4-chev/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/07/14/john-comber-collection/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S was one of the best prepared and presented racing cars- all of the work done by the three-times Australian Grand Prix winner himself.

Here is the ex-works Jean Behra 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy meeting car during the February 1958 meeting. Doug finished third in a typically speedy, reliable run. See 300S feature here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

February 1958 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

Bill Patterson’s Cooper T39 Climax, wouldn’t it have made an ideal road-car.

Patterson’s outer-east Melbourne Ringwood Holden dealership was not too far from Templestowe and Rob Roy hillclimbs, close enough for a bit of lunchtime practice or failing that a romp through the Dandenongs.

The plucky racer was one of the very fastest of his day, a Cooper man throughput after his formative MG stage. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/ Stephen reckons the side view of the car alongside the T39 above is Brian Sampson’s Morris Special- ‘Sambo’, was very close to the start of a long, diverse and successful career which was only finished by a road accident not so long ago.

He won the Gold Star in 1961 aboard a Cooper T51 Climax, the machine below is the T43 Climax FPF ex-Brabham-Stillwell #5 referred to above, perhaps in 1959.

(P Jones)

Note John Roxburgh standing at right and what looks a bit like Bib Stillwell in the cream jumper? Holden Ute and wonderful colour gives us a perspective on male fashion of the coolish day- October 1958 or February 1959 meeting.

(P Jones)

Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol, probably, ace Cooper historian Stephen Dalton thinks, during the October 1957 Fishos meeting where the car carried #33.

He surmises, based on AMS magazine reports, that Len’s team fitted the longer nose in an attempt to make the car more slippery before the Commonwealth Oil Refinery (C.O.R. later BP) sponsored speed-trials held at Coonabarabran, New South Wales in September 1957.

Two years hence Len would be aboard an ex-Brabham Cooper T45 Climax at the start of the longest Gold Star season. A successful one too, he won the Gold Star; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/26/len-lukey-australian-gold-star-champion/

Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F below, it is chassis #2516 featured above, bodied as it was when Reg first imported it in early 1956, this probably the October 1956 meeting.

(P Jones)

 

Peter with a modern Yamaha, above leading Eric Debenham and Eric Hindle at Oran Park on the TR500 in 1970. With ‘mo’ after a win on the TR500 in 1970 (Old Bike Australasia)

After completing the piece to this point via to-and-fro emails I gave photographer Peter Jones a call to thank him and find out a bit about him. To my pleasant surprise I learned he was an Australian champion motor-cyclist in the sixties and seventies, so lets have a look at his career! What a fascinating journey Peter’s has been.

Born in 1942, he was raised in Melbourne’s Kew and then Beaumaris. Qualified as a fitter and turner he commenced his racing career aboard a a Yamaha YDS2 jumping in right at the deep end- his first meeting was at Bathurst in Easter 1964, third in the 250cc Production race was a good start on this most daunting of circuits!

He progressed through an Aermacchi Ala d’Oro 250 pushrod single as below. ‘Built 1963 or 1964, I bought it second hand from the distributor. It was a toss-up between this and a Yamaha TD1-A and I went with this. Great handling and brakes but in my ownership it was lacking in reliability, which in hindsight was a combination of me and the bike.’

‘The battery has a Yamaha logo on it, I knew the Yamahah importers well and had owned two Yamaha 250cc road bikes so when I needed batteries I went there. Back of the photo says Calder February 1965. That’s my Holden FC Ute behind.’

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Peter then bought a Yamaha TD1-B which allowed him to demonstrate his talent and progress to B-Grade, the bike is shown exiting Griffins Bend at Mount Panorama in 1966 above.

‘I enjoyed this bike a lot, had some success with it while still learning my way. I had a very experienced racing mechanic, Les Gates of Murrumbeena, looking after me so reliability was not a problem. A great weekend was 4 or 5 riders working on our bikes in his backyard with us doing the simple things and Les the more complex. The machine was painted in standard Yamaha colours of white with a red stripe. My Cromwell jet-helmet was white, I painted it blue on each side. The emblem on the front of the helmet is the Sandringham Motorcycle Club- spoked wheel with wings, the club still exists today.’

Graham Laing at Melbourne Motorcycles invited him to assemble a batch of Suzukis which had arrived in December 1965. This led to a full-time gig and the offer to race a Suzuki TR250 production-racer in 1966, I looked after this bike. After a lot of work to improve the performance of the bike Peter hit the big time at the Bathurst  Easter meeting. He finished second to Bryan Hindle’s Yamaha TDC-1 in the B-Grade Junior and then second to Eric Debenham’s big Vincent in the B-Grade Unlimited. He was second behind Ron Toombs’ Yamaha in the Junior GP. Better still, a slow-starting Toombs gave Jones the break he needed to win the Lightweight GP in 1969.

The Auto Cycle Union of Victoria provided a grant for Peter to represent the state in the Australian Championships at Surfers Paradise- he was nominated in the 250, 350, and 500 races, all aboard the TR250. The young rider won the 250 and 350, and then the 500 as well. Ron Toombs led on the latter aboard his Matchless but then DNF’d.

(P Jones)

‘The shot above is my first meeting aboard the Suzuki TR250 at Mallala in January 1966. It must be during practice as the engine mounts cracked so I didn’t start. It’s the left-hander after the hairpin, the bike in front is a Kawasaki 250 production racer.’

Peter built up a 500 from a road-going T500 on which he won the Jack Ahearn Trophy at Amaroo Park. A promised TR500 which was due for early in 1970 finally arrived late in the year but without the rear wheel assembly including Ceriani rear brake. Suzuki sent it anyway! and Peter completed it with road parts.

Determined to race in Europe in 1971, Graham Laing agreed that Jones could take the TR500 with him. En-route to the UK Jones ordered and bought a TR250 from Ron Grant (which turned out to be a very poor replica which brings a twitch to my left eye when i think about it!) who was racing at Daytona. He also took his T20 roadie on which he learned the Isle of Man course in the week before the race!

Jones was awarded a Bronze Replica for his performance on the 250 and a Silver on the 500 but admitted, ‘for me, the races were sort of fast touring’. He also rode a Suzuki GB entered T350 in the Production Race.

Later in the season Peter and very-good British rider Keith Martin, aided by Australian mechanic Dave Hall rode the same machine to seventh in the 24 Hour classic at Montjuich Park, Barcelona. ‘Dave Hall was touring the UK and Europe on his BMW. We first met up at the IOM but he assisted in the meetings I raced including manning our Barcelona pit for the full 24-hours, an amazing effort. He later worked for the Suzuki GP team and sponsored riders on a 250cc production bike when he returned to Australia.’ Other non-championship internationals were at Hengalo, Holland and the Southern 100 at Brands Hatch.

In 500s ‘The only works team at the time was Ago and the MV’s, but even that was just a van and some mechanics. The biggest team was the Dutch Van Kreidler team in the 50cc class.’

‘On the 500’s the guys chasing Ago were Keith Turner, Robert Brom and Jack Findlay on his TR500 engined bike. I did the TT, the Swedish GP in torrential rain and the Spanish GP at Jarama where i got seventh in the 500 GP for four world-championship points. The shot below is at the Isle of Man in 1971 aboard my 1970 Suzuki TR500, it was a great bike, easy to ride, I enjoyed it a lot.’

(P Jones)

Back at home with new wife Lyn early in 1972 with the overseas racing bug out of the system, the TR250 and 500 were converted to run on methanol in an attempt to keep them competitive. Later a water-cooled TR500 was little better.

Peter contested the Amaroo Park Castrol 6-Hours in 1970 and 1972 but lap scoring which left a lot to be desired was no incentive to maintain his interest. Peter won the 1973 ‘King of The Weir’ at, you guessed it, Hume Weir.

Peter’s waning interest was piqued with the purchase of a fabulous Suzuki RG500 square-four in time for the infamous Laverton RAAF base February 1976 Australian Tourist Trophy meeting. This was headlined by Giacomo Agostini’s works MV Agusta 500-four.

Jones qualified second behind Ken Blake’s RG500, ahead of Ago on the 5.3km circuit. In the race he muffed the start and finished fourth behind the victorious Blake, then Agostini with Greg Johnson on another RG500 in third.

‘Below is the RG500, now that was a racing bike! Square-four, great power delivery and handling, everything you could ask for. Here braking for Laverton’s far-hairpin, we did a U-turn around the hay-bales and then back up the other side. My last racing motorcycle as I retired during 1976.’

(P Jones)

It was time to hang up the helmet for the Service Manager role at Melbourne Motorcycles. Senior executive roles followed at Suzuki Australia, Yamaha’s Milledge Brothers and Yamaha Motor Australia where Jones had a support role in the early 2000’s with the companies’ Australian Superbike and Moto GP rounds.

Retired in Sidmouth, Tasmania, Peter has his TR250 and air-cooled TR500 to restore and in more recent times has been carefully sorting rather a nice collection of his photographs…

Photo and other Credits…

Peter Jones- many thanks for sharing your story and photographs with us

Peter Jones Old Bike Australasia article by Jim Scaysbrook, Stephen Dalton, Terry McGrath

Tailpiece…

(P Jones)

‘I obviously like the colour of it’ Peter quipped, there were quite a few shots of the same car. N Ronalds, MGA, during the October 1956 meeting.

Finito…

(B Young)

Mick Watt’s Ford Anglia Special ascends Magra Hillclimb north of New Norfolk, 45km and forty minutes north of Hobart.

Mount Dromedary and Black Hills are in the background. Mick Watt achieved over 100 wins with this pretty little car before it fell into disuse in the mid-sixties and ultimate restoration by Ian Tate in Melbourne.

(B Young)

And here at Longford in 1958. It’s returned to Tassie in recent times too, acquired by Launceston/Longford identity, Rob Knott from Ian Tate after 40 years or so on the mainland.

(S5000)

Rubens Barrichelo testing the new Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford S5000 car at Phillip Island in September 2019.

He contested the first race meeting for the new Australian premier category of cars at Sandown on September 21/22 2019. See here for details of the cars; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/ and; https://primotipo.com/2020/06/03/with-matich-a50-twist/

Ruben’s copped a tap up the rear in turn 1 of the first heat and recovered to finish seventh in the race won by Tim Macrow. He was fifth in the second heat won by James Golding and second in the feature event also won by Golding.

The first round of the 2021 Gold Star Series, Australia’s premier driving championship for the countries fastest racing cars is at Symmons Plains in late January, Covid permitting.

(D Simpson)

John Harvey at Oran Park during the Diamond Trophy weekend at Oran Park in September 1967, Brabham BT14 Repco 740 2.5.

He won the 15 lap race in a classy field which included Leo Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett and Paul Bolton in Tasman 2.5s.

It was a great reward for car owner Ron Phillips, mechanic Peter Molloy and Harvey given the teething problems they had after converting the F2 car from Lotus-Ford twin-cam to Repco 2.5 litre V8 power.

John wore this Peter Revson inspired helmet circa 1971-1973 (Harvey Collection)

John died on December 5 2020 of lung-cancer, aged 82. We shall do a photographic tribute to his many years as an elite level racer in single-seaters, sportscars and touring cars soon.

RIP John Harvey.

(N Butler)

Bob Holden at Fishermans Bend circa 1957, Holden FE Repco Hi-Power.

This is, i think, the second of Repco Research’ test cars, it covered 400 miles a day testing all manner of Repco products first in the hands of Reg Robbins and then later Don Halpin.  The car was re-shelled after Don had an accident in it near Seymour. Seeking confirmation folks, not of the story but rather the FE ID as a Repco Research machine which was raced on weekends…

(Langdon Family)

Murray Carter aboard his self-built Carter Corvette at Longford in 1961.

He is pursuading the beast into The Viaduct. Murray built the spaceframe chassis, Chev V8 powered car in 1959 and raced it for several years by the Victorian before sale to Bob Wright in Tasmania. He is shown racing the car below at Symmons Plains in 1969.

Ultimately restored and is still alive and well. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/19/forever-young/

(oldracephotos.com/Harrison)

 

(M Fistonic)

Wasn’t it sinfully erotic in a wedgy, angular kinda way?

In 1973 Max Stewart had the only Lola T330 contesting the Tasman Cup, chassis ‘HU1’ was the very first of course. By the following year they and the bigger-hipped T332 were everywhere.

Max’ car here is in the Pukekohe paddock during the January 6 NZ GP weekend. The big fella was out after only 3 laps, John McCormack won in his Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden. There is plenty about the Lola T330 in this and succeeding articles; https://primotipo.com/2014/06/24/lellas-lola-restoration-of-the-ex-lella-lombardi-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-1/

Max got on very well with this car, winning a swag of races including the 1974 Gold Star and 1974 AGP in it.

(Kelsey Collection)

Jack Myers in the Gnoo Blas paddock during the February 1960 Australian Touring Car Championship weekend.

His car is a Cooper T20/WM Waggott-Holden 3-litre twin-cam, in-line six. Myers is wearing his characteristic ‘fireproofs’ including garish horizontally-hooped shirt. Luvvit. Here is a man whose story deserves to be told comprehensively. See here for a feature on this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/10/stirling-moss-cumberland-park-speedway-sydney-cooper-t20-wm-holden-1956/

Note David Finch’s Jaguar D Type and Paul Samuels’ Berkeley on the trailer.

(T Watts)

Pete Geoghegan’s first Mustang looking absolutely superb in its Castrol livery at Longford in March 1967

Didn’t John Sheppard do a superb job with the preparation and presentation of the Geoghegan’s cars? See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/17/he-came-he-saw-he-conquered/

(HRCCT)

And Leo’s ex-Clark Lotus 39 Climax at Symmons Plains in mid-November 1966, albeit in Total livery, but looking similarly handsome. Long epic on this car here; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

KB is the masked man in the Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax alongside. Both Sydneysiders had poor weekends. Leo didn’t start with engine dramas and KB’s gearbox gave troubles after he had completed only 3 laps- Greg Cusack won in his ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax.

Poor John Goss. I guess somebody had to do it. Amaroo Park Aunger Wheels advertising shoot.

This sports-sedan didn’t survive did it after a big-hit somewhere? Was this a Goss and Grant O’Neill build?

All terribly politically incorrect these days, what a shame. See here for a feature on this most talented of drivers; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/03/john-goss-bathurst-1000-and-australian-grand-prix-winner/ ,here; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/06/gossy/ ,and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/19/john-goss-tornado-ford-longford-1968/

(R Knott Collection)

 

(B Rigg)

Mount Panorama view across The Cutting from Sulman Park with Bathurst in the distance, circa 1960.

(R McClelland)

Jackie Stewart, Bob Jane, Tim Parnell, a BRM mechanic and P261 ‘2614’ await the start of the South Pacific Championship on March 1967.

Jackie won the race in a scrap with Jim Clark the year before in the same chassis, and the Tasman Cup. This time Jack Brabham took the only ever Tasman round won by a 2.5-litre Repco-Brabham V8 in his BT23A chassis.

See here for a piece on the 1967 Tasman; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/

(Langdon Brothers)

And again during practice, the BRM’s in 1967 had 2.1-litre P60 motors which stretched the transmissions beyond their comfort zones. Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2-litre is in the distance, the combination which won the 1967 Tasman. See here too; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/14/sandown-park-cup-26-february-1967/

Flaggie 1946 style, during the New South Wales Grand Prix at Mount Panorama

These days the flameproof outfit and fag hangin’ out of the mouth probably wouldn’t make the cut. Alf Najar’s MG TB Special won the race, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/15/1946-new-south-wales-grand-prix/

Alan Hamilton, Porsche 911 and Bob Watson Renault 16TS, Calder Rallycross in 1969.

What became of this 911 folks? Both these guys, champions both are still hale and hearty.

Jim Clark from Chris Amon at Dandenong Road Sandown, epic dice during the 1968 Australian Grand Prix, Jim won by a smidge of a second over Chris.

Lotus 49 Ford V8 from Ferrari Dino 246 V6. See AGP towards the end of this piece; https://primotipo.com/2016/12/09/f1-driverengineers-jack-larry-the-68-agp-and-rb830-v8/

(Peter Jones)

Bill Patterson’s Cooper T43 Climax being made ready at Fishermans Bend circa 1959.

It’s fellow Cooper driver John Roxburgh at right. Others folks? More from the Peter Jones Collection next week. See here for an article on Patterson’s Coopers; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/

(B Thomas)

Duelling Scots during the ‘Lakeside 99’ Tasman Cup round in February 1967.

Jackie Stewart’s 2.1-litre BRM P261 V8 from Jim Clark, 2-litre Lotus 33 Coventry Climax FWMV V8, look closely and Jackie’s lightly-loaded right-front is just ‘orf terra-firma.

Jim won from Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT23A Repco and Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT16 Climax while Jackie’s gearbox cried enough after 59 of the races 66 laps.

See here for a pictorial piece on this weekend; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/18/lakeside-tasman-meeting-12-february-1967/

(unattributed)

Arthur Wylie, looking very smart in shirt and tie racing the wonderful Wylie Javelin on the short-lived Altona track in Melbourne’s inner-west in March 1954.

How did he go that day folks? Article about the car here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/14/the-wylies-javelin-special/ and track here; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/24/jacks-altona-grand-prix-and-cooper-t23-bristol/

(AMS June 1954 via S Dalton)

 

(Auto Action)

John Martin, Spectrum 011 Ford Duratec Formula Ford, bouncing through the chicane, Adelaide during the March 2006 Clipsal 500 meeting.

Giving chase is Ben Clucas’ Van Diemen RF06 and Nathan Carratti, Van Diemen RF04.

Martin won this first ever Duratec powered round, and went on to win the Australian Formula Ford Championship from Tim Slade’s Sonic Motorsport run Van Diemen RF04. Martin then took one of Mike Borland’s 011 machines to the UK later in the year, with with some success.

(Ansett)

Phil Moore aboard John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden at Oran Park during 1974.

The talented Adelaide Pharmacist won the 1973 Australian Sportscar Championship aboard an Elfin 360 Repco 830 2.5 V8. He won four of the six rounds. Moore was offered the drive of Mac’s 1973 Gold Star and NZ GP winning MR5 in the 1974 Gold Star.

In a grim year for Ansett Team Elfin with McCormack the reigning champion, Moore was the best placed of the teams three drivers, a distant third behind the Lolas of Max Stewart and Kevin Bartlett. Garrie Cooper was fourth and McCormack fifth.

John McCormack, the teams fastest driver was wrestling with the new Repco-Leyland engined MR6. The lightweight, aluminium engine was gutless and suffered severe structural problems. This scenario was exacerbated by Repco’s withdrawal from racing mid-year which meant the companies considerable race-engineering resources were not available to fix the problems. McCormack got there in the end of course, he won his third Gold Star aboard a Repco/Irving/McCormack-Leyland V8 engined McLaren M23 in 1977.

With no pre-season testing Phil Moore was impressive in 1974. His best result in five outings was second to Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev at demanding Surfers Paradise.

Phil Moore on the way to an ASCC win at Symmons Plains in November 1973, Elfin 360 Repco (unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

Vern Schuppan waves to the punters having won the 1973 Singapore Grand Prix.

His weapon of choice is a March 722 Ford. He won on the daunting 4.4km Upper Thomson Road circuit from Graeme Lawrence’s Surtees TS15 Ford and John MacDonald’s Brabham BT40 Ford. See here for a feature on this race; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/29/birrana-cars-and-the-1973-singapore-gp/

Credits…

Bob Young Collection via Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Dick Simpson, John Harvey Collection, Langdon Family, Norm Butler Collection, Tim Watts Collection, Rob Knott Collection, Bruce Rigg, Peter Jones, Auto Action, Ansett, Stephen Dalton Collection, Milan Fistonic, oldracephotos.com

Tailpiece…

(B Young)

Let’s finish where we started, at Magra Hillclimb in Tasmania, with a Morris Minor on the hop, driver folks?

Finito…