Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

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(R Lambert)

Austin Miller’s Cooper T51 Chev during his Australian Land Speed Record setting day-163.94mph at Bakers Beach, Tasmania watched by ‘four men and a dog’ on Monday 20 November 1961…

Only in Australia would a significant event like this have been achieved in such a clever, low key kind of way, still, the fellows involved were doers and goers not spruikers and bullshitters.

Watching him blast through the timing gear at over 160mph are car-builder Geoff Smedley, Bruce Burr, a few members of the local press and a small number of onlookers who have made their way to the quiet stretch of beach on Tasmania’s far north coast, 80 km from Launceston, the ‘Northern Capital’ of the island state.

When I first saw Ron Lambert’s image it simply blew my mind on a whole lot of levels other than its purely visual impact, powerful as it is. It says so many good things about this country and the understated, pragmatic, often ingenious way we tend to go about things.

Miller was born in Melbourne in 1923, in common with most of his contemporaries from around the world he enlisted to fight in WW2. He joined the army and became a tank instructor but he was keen to fly so moved from the Australian Army to the Royal Australian Air Force where he learned to fly in Tiger Moths before graduating progressively through the Wirraway trainer and on to Mustang and Spitfire fighters.

Post war, keen to stay in aviation- and there were plenty of great pilots in the world at that point in time, Aussie and his friend Ernie Tadgell formed Super Spread Aviation Pty. Ltd. a commercial crop dusting enterprise they commenced in 1952- Austin was Victoria’s first ‘Ag-pilot’.

Miller commenced racing a TQ Midget on Victorian and New South Wales’ speedways, then switched to circuit racing, first coming to prominence in 1958 when he won his class of the Victorian Road Racing Championship and the Victorian Trophy in the ‘Miller Special’, a Cooper T41 Climax FWB acquired in the UK. His good mate, Stan Jones won the Gold Star that year in a magnificent Maserati 250F with Austin taking second and third places in the Port Wakefield and Phillip Island rounds.

Austin identified the Cooper for sale in England albeit the Australian connection was that fellow Victorian Paul England had been racing the ex-Ken Wharton ‘F2/2/56’ or ‘F2/4/56’ machine throughout Europe in 1957 and was now ready to come home. I wrote about the car a while back, click here to read about it; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/20/aussie-miller-cooper-t41-climax-trevallyn-hillclimb-launceston-tasmania-1959/

One of the apocryphal Miller stories concerns the delivery of two Percival EP.9 aircraft (see the link at the end of the article about these interesting planes built in the UK by Australian born designer Edgar Percival) from Stableford Aerodrome in Essex where they were designed and built, back to Australia in 1957.

The duo were looking for replacements for their ageing fleet of Tiger Moths and first visited the US in 1956 where they test flew Stearman, Fletcher and Cessna aircraft before going to the UK in 1957 where the choices were the Auster Agricola or Percival EP.9 with the latter finally getting the nod.

Austin ‘on arrival at home base Moorabbin after he and partner Ern Tadgell flew G-APFY and G-APBR in company from England on delivery’ Percival EP.9 (Goodall)

Aussie and Ern left England on 19 September 1957, included amongst the bits and pieces in the planes’ holds as ‘aircraft spare parts’ were the Cooper T41 and a Lotus 12 Climax which had been disassembled into their constituent parts and boxed as spares, crop spraying equipment etc.

This type of ruse, that is bringing racing cars into the country in parts was a well travelled path for Australian racers for decades to avoid the net of the ‘fiscal fiend’ whose import duties were punitive in nature and rapacious in quantum. The cars were called the ‘Miller Special’ and ‘Sabakat’ respectively when they arrived in the Great Brown Land with the chassis plates kept well away from the two machines and prying eyes.

The intrepid Percival pilots made thirty-two stops between the Old Dart and Oz before arriving at home base, Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s south on 27 October 1957- what an adventure! In fact it was very much so as Austin’s plane barely made it in to Darwin from Kupang as a result of heat from the exhaust causing the thermostatically controlled carburettor to lift the needle, burning excessive amounts of fuel, the tank was so dry, its said, that he couldn’t taxi the Percival to the hangar in Darwin.

Needless to say the ‘aircraft parts and crop spraying equipment’ were soon assembled into a couple of handy looking racing cars by the pair of aviation scallywags. Tadgell’s first Australian appearance in Sabakat was at the South Pacific Trophy meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange over the Australia Day long weekend in January 1958 whereas Austin’s first run aboard the Miller Special/Cooper T41 was at Longford in 1959. Checkout this epic on the Lotus 12 here, inclusive of Sabakat; https://primotipo.com/2019/08/22/just-add-lightness/

Austin, Cooper T41 Climax, Trevallyn Hillclimb, Launceston 1959 (unattributed)

Miller first raced the Cooper at Phillip Island in January 1958 and over the next few years ran it in everything going- races, sprints and hillclimbs, self preparing the machine amongst the aircraft in his Moorabbin hanger, but he didn’t race much that year due to an extremely nasty Percival accident at home base on 15 April.

Super Spread by that time had three EP.9’s, the final aircraft was assembled in Australia from components acquired in the UK. The EP.9 ‘VH-SSW’ had just been rebuilt following a crash at Flinders Island in February, with the work complete Austin took off at dusk together with engineer Bill Symons- immediately after takeoff he climbed steeply, the aircraft stalled and crashed close to the Moorabbin Control Tower. The Department of Civil Aviation investigation found the cause of the accident to be elevator cables which had been installed wrongly so as to reverse normal operating sense. Both Miller and Symons were badly hurt, the severely damaged airframe was struck off the register and scrapped.

After recovery and with the responsibilities of a young family- Austin met Judy, later to become his wife, a nurse at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne recovering from another nasty accident at Thorpdale, Victoria, Miller moved to Launceston to take over as the licensee of the Hotel Monaco. Aussie had been a Longford regular during the late 1950’s so the move across Bass Straight from Victoria to Tasmania was an easy one to a place he loved.

(E French/R Knott)

 

Cooper T41 Climax, Trevallyn Hillclimb March 1959 Tasmania, Aussie took FTD (Miller)

 

Miller’s Cooper T41 Climax at Port Wakefield during the October 1959 Gold Star meeting- Greg McEwin in the Mac-Healey alongside (Miller)

Aussie continued to develop the T41 further by replacing the standard Citroen derived gearbox with a more sturdy Porsche 356 unit and installation of trailing arms (radius rods) to better locate the rear suspension. Austin again won his class of the Victorian Road Racing Championship and the Phillip Island Gold Star round in his new Cooper T51.

Single-seater racing expanded strongly in Australia at the time partially because of improved economic times and in large measure due to the ready availability of Grand Prix Coopers and Coventry Climax engines at ‘reasonable cost’. An international season was developing nicely in Australasia which morphed into the ‘Tasman 2.5 Formula’ and Tasman Cup in 1964- in short, if one had a car you could test your abilities against the best in the world in more or less equal machines and have a crack at the domestic Gold Star Series which itself grew and grew in stature, before dying on the vine a couple of decades hence.

Austin saw the opportunity to progress, he sold the T41 and jumped aboard a Cooper T51 in October 1959. Chassis ‘F2-20-59’ was imported new by Bib Stillwell and raced briefly by Bib and Stan Jones before passing to Miller, his first race in the 2.2 litre FPF engined car was at Island as stated above.

In a ‘Chinese deal’ Jones raced the car once or twice after Aussie owned it, during this period Jones collided with Len Lukey’s Cooper at Phillip Island- as a result the car was fitted with a frame made on the jig Lukey had created for this purpose. It would be very interesting to know just how many T51 jigs there were and still are in Australia! Jones then raced the car to fourth in the 1960 NZ GP at Ardmore before Miller next- finally got his hands on it.

Austin in a Ferrari Monza on the set of ‘On The Beach’ (Miller)

In an eventful 1959 Miller had a brush with Hollywood when he was contracted to perform as a stunt and stand-in driver for Fred Astaire in the movie ‘On The Beach’, filmed in Australia and based on Neville Shute’s novel of the same name, topically it is about the end of the world…

Into 1960 Aussie had some success with the T51 in Gold Star and other competition, perhaps it was his his busiest year of competition.

By that stage there was plenty of depth in Australian single-seater Formula Libre fields with some serious money was being spent by the likes of Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Alec Mildren, Lex Davison, Len Lukey and others, so Austin’s efforts in the self prepared, reliable Grand Prix Cooper should be seen with that perspective.

He was unplaced in the season opening March Longford Trophy despite qualifying up the pointy end of the field, the race was won by Jack Brabham from Alec Mildren and Bib Stillwell- all in Cooper T51s, but Austin made a big impression in the Monday Scratch Race for racing and sportscars. AMS reported that ‘One of the finest duels of the meeting occurred in this event when Austin Miller in a 2.2 litre Cooper Climax fought a long battle with Jon Leighton in a 1960cc model. Miller held the advantage and led, but ignominiously lost face and position when he misjudged a corner and was forced to take an escape road.’

Off to Westernport for the next round at Phillip Island in Victoria on 13 March the circus rumbled across the old wooden bridge from San Remo to Newhaven and settled in Cowes for a few days where the ‘Isle Of Wight’ was and still is the centre of social activity.

Brabham had still not returned to Europe and would again win the feature race, The Repco Trophy but Aussie started from the third row and raced in third place for some laps before tyre wear meant he yielded to Bib and finished fourth behind Jack, Bill Patterson and Bib Stillwell, all, again, T51 mounted.

The Victorians took in the Phillip Island Easter Saturday meeting before heading up overnight to Bathurst with Austin second and third in his two races won by Stillwell each time. It would have been interesting to see Stan Jones having a run in the ‘old girl’ Maybach 4 Chev in the last race of the day winning from Ray Gibbs’ Cooper Climax and Stumpy Russell’s Holden Spl whilst the serious Coopers had commenced the tow north towards the NSW border.

Alec Mildren was well into his stride with his Maserati engined Cooper T51, the locally developed car concepted by Alec and built up by Glenn Abbey was the class of the field during the Easter weekend at Mount Panorama on 17/18 April but Austin raced well jumping into an immediate lead of the first heat, finishing second aft of Alec but ahead of Bill Patterson and Queenslander Glynn Scott’s Coopers.

Mildren led from the starters flag of the Bathurst 100 from Stillwell and for 8 laps the pair provided a great dice, the lead of the race changed a number of times but near the end of the eighth tour Bib slid on oil near Murray’s and hit the wooden fence near the Timing Tower.

Bib was ok but the car was out for the day leaving Miller in a strong second place until brake trouble forced him to ease back a bit- Arnold Glass caught and passed Aussie when he went up the escape road at Hell Corner (end of Conrod Straight). ‘Miller had returned to the fray to come sixth’, whilst in front of him were Mildren, Glass, Patterson, Noel Hall and John Roxburgh- all in Coopers with the exception of Arnold Glass aboard the ex-works/Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F.

Bib Stillwell and Austin at Reid Park Gates, Bathurst in October 1960 during the ‘Craven A International’ won by Brabham’s similar Cooper T51 Climax (J Ellacott)

 

Miller, Cooper T51 Climax 2.2, Mount Panorama October 1960. The sign says ‘Superior Cars’- one of Stan Jones dealerships in Melbourne, very naughty of Austin too- such flagrant commerce was crass and not in accord with CAMS rules on advertising on cars at all- I wonder how many meetings it took before they spanked him? (J Ellacott)

What a tonic that second place would have been! Austin didn’t take his car to Lowood, Queensland for the ‘thriller-diller’ June AGP won by the hair on your chinny-chin-chin slimmest of margins by Mildrens’s Cooper from ‘Dame Nellie Melba’ Lex Davison, the comeback kid missed by the smallest of margins winning another Australian Grand Prix aboard a newly prepared 3 litre but old school, front engined Aston Martin DBR4/250.

Crazy were the Victorians who raced at Lowood competing at Phillip Island the following day, the 13 June Queens Birthday meeting- whilst Austin was fresh Stillwell and Patterson were not having contested the AGP the day before but both were there (in their second T51s I guess?)- Austin took a second and third in minor events but in the 10 lap Reg Hunt Motors Trophy race finished a strong second behind Bill Patterson but in front of the Stillwell and John Roxburgh Coopers, and Stan Jones- giving his Maserati 250F a run.

Speaking of Jones, Austin ran his Cooper at the Fishermans Bend Sprints on 5 June to get the final tuning of his T51 sorted for the Island the week later and who should be running on the same day but Alan Jones, ‘Following in fathers footsteps…he made a spectacular entry into open competition by cleaning up his young opponent in true G.P style, his mount- a Whirlwind go-kart powered by a 125cc motor mower engine…his time of 28.3 seconds after a push-start over the line wasn’t all that bad and it accounted for the under 1100cc racing class.’ I wonder if this is the first time AJ made it into a race report and results sheet? Now when did he start hill-climbing the Motor Improvements built Mini I wonder…

 

Fishos Sprints results listed for posterity- see A Jones and A Miller

 

Jack Myers tells Austin where to go- WM/Cooper Holden and T51, Bathurst Easter 1960

Austin didn’t enter the Queensland Road Race Championship, again at Lowood, in September, but returned to the Gold Star fray (make that serious competition fray because this event wasn’t a Gold Star round) in the Craven A International race at the traditional Bathurst October meeting where Jack Brabham prevailed, over the biggest grid of the year, as the 1960 World Champion won from Patterson and Stillwell all in 2.5 litre FPF powered Coopers with Miller a DNF- engine problems.

He failed to start at Mallala in October or at Caversham- Perth is such a long tow! but raced in the Lukey Trophy at Phillip Island in mid-December and finished a strong second, seven seconds adrift of Patterson’s T51- Stillwell was third.

The Warwick Farm Trophy was held the weekend after the Island, and whilst the new, fantastic circuit constructed around one of Sydney’s horse racing tracks was not a Gold Star round it attracted a good entry with Stillwell winning the 10 lap feature from John Youl, Miller, Davison having another run in the Aston Martin but also having lustful thoughts about Coopers however much he didn’t like the ‘Mechanical Mice’, and Doug Whiteford- all but Lex in T51s.

Mildren won the 1960 Gold Star from Stillwell and Patterson.

Longford Trophy paddock March 1961, Roy Salvadori won in a Cooper T51 Climax. #6 Bib Stillwell’s Aston DBR4/250 3 litre DNS- raced his Cooper T51, Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S and Aussies Cooper T51 Climax 2.2 (R Lambert)

 

Longford Trophy paddock March 1960, Brabham won in a Cooper T51. Austin topless, Cooper T51 2.2, Arnold Glass Maser 250F and Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati (R Lambert)

 

Aussie sets to work on the 2.2 litre Coventry Climax FPF, Longford 1960 (G Richardson)

In early 1961 Austin continued to campaign the Cooper in the summer internationals, opening his account with a strong fourth in the Warwick Farm 100 behind Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax, Innes Ireland’s works Lotus 18 Climax and Stillwell’s Cooper T51 Climax. All three cars were fitted with full 2.5 litre FPF’s compared with Aussie’s 2.2, by this stage other locals Jones, Mildren, Glass and Patterson were using 2.5 litre engines whilst Davison’s Aston Martin DBR/4 was fitted with a 3 litre DBR/1 sportscar unit.

That summer internationals contestants included Jack Brabham and Ron Flockhart in Cooper T51s and Graham Hill and Dan Gurney in works BRM P48s- the first time BRM, having raced on and off in New Zealand since 1954, added Australia to their Southern Summer tour.

Austin was eighth in the Victorian Trophy at Ballarat Airfield, won by Gurney’s BRM, fourth in the Longford Trophy won by Roy Salvadori in a Cooper T51 and sixth in the Craven A International at the short, tight, new, Hume Weir circuit close to the New South Wales/Victorian border near Albury in March- Brabham prevailed in the two races that weekend in his T53 Lowline.

At that point Austin’s Cooper became Australia’s first Formula 5000 car…

Miller had become obsessed with a desire to break the Australian Land Speed Record which was then held by one of his fellow Gold Star competitors, Mel McEwin, in Tornado 2 Chev, a car I wrote about a while back. Click hear to read about this amazing front engined Australian special; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Not having the budget to purchase or build a purpose-built car capable of breaking the record, Aussie and his engineer/mechanic Geoff Smedley set about modifying Miller’s Cooper T51 in the loft of the building next to the Hotel Monaco.

Shots above and below are perhaps press shots in Launceston immediately after the modified T51’s build (G Smedley)

 

(G Smedley)

Geoff Smedley’s story of this amazing adventure is set below.

‘This is perhaps the most unlikely but successful challenge to a Land Speed Record ever staged and it comes with a story that is equally remarkable.

I had known my friend, the late Austin Miller, for a number of years previously. We had raced cars together in earlier times. Around 1959 when Austin came to live in Tasmania after recovering from a fairly major air crash in Victoria- he had operated an aerial crop spraying business for many years and decided at that time that perhaps a slower pace of life would be better suited to his well-being. So he bought a hotel in Launceston, renovated it and renamed it The Monaco Hotel which soon became the hub for motor racing fans from far and near.

 It could be argued that the array of beverages served at the Monaco may have instigated the record attempt! Not so! But it was Aussie’s infectious desire and persuasive talents that eventually won out and the idea grew into reality early in 1960, I was entrusted in putting together a vehicle that could better the current record of 157.5 MPH set by Mel McEwin in the ‘Tornado Chev Special’ in South Australia a few months earlier.

 Some of the difficulties soon became clear, firstly there was no money in the kitty. Meaning that all work had to remain ‘in house’. The only equipment available was the 1959 Cooper T51 F2 fitted with a 2.2 Coventry Climax FPF motor that was Austin’s current race car, but certainly not suitable for the job in hand.

 A friend of Aussie’s in Melbourne had just set a water speed record using a Corvette V8 engine. This engine was offered on loan as a starting point to our quest. The thought of stuffing 400 bhp of cast iron Chev into a petite Cooper F2 seemed almost as ridiculous as attempting the record itself.

 An assessment of the work needed to adapt the chassis to take the big, brutal Corvette engine proved it would need to be a bit of a ‘suck it and see’ effort or do it as she goes with all chassis work to be undertaken before the transplant could take place’.

Bruce Burr, Miller and Geoff Smedley- the ‘heavy Chevvy’ looks an easy (cough!) fit (G Smedley)

The engine provided by boat raced Keith Hooper (or Syd Fischer depending upon the source) was highly modified by fitment of some of the best ‘go faster’goodies available for the small-block Chev at the time- Isky cam, ported and polished heads, six twin-choke carbs sitting atop an Offy manifold, lightweight aluminium flywheel and a clutch capable of coping with 400 BHP and equivalent amounts of bulk torque. The fibreglass body of the Cooper was changed marginally in some respects but substantively by the incorporation of a ‘Perspex bubble’ which sat on top of the normal cockpit opening providing better high speed streamlining than the shallow road racing surround.

Geoff picks up the story again.

‘Also the transmission drastically needed modification from the existing Citroen Light 15-based box used by Cooper. To this end I was fortunate in respect of engineering facilities with the family business (Bedford Machine Tools) at my disposal and being a trained engineer I was able to modify this box to a beefy 2 speed specialised unit. With savage cross bolting of the housing, in theory, it would withstand the short lived punishment expected of it. All this together with special beefed up drive-shafts to cope with the extra power were made and, as it seemed, a never ending general tweek in all the right places, eventually we were starting to see some result and the project began to take shape into the car we hoped would bring us success.

 The only thing I was fully confident of was the fact that Aussie Miller was one of very few blokes in the world who could steer this mish- mash of bits to success. His long career in flying and driving at the top echelon of open wheeler racing in this country certainly proved he had not only the courage but also the anatomy to do the job’.

(Gray Family)

 

(Gray Family)

Photographs of the car show just how beautifully engineered and integrated the modifications to the standard Cooper T51 were. They were put to the test at Symmons Plains, the circuit built on the Youl family property of the same name 10 miles south of Launceston during October 1961. Austin achieved 140 mph in top gear of his two-speed gearbox before running out of circuit. The car also ran at Trevallyn Hillclimb on 22 October finishing second in the Tasmanian Hillclimb Championship behind John Youl’s Cooper T51 Climax.

 ‘After the work on the car was finished there was the hassle of setting up the legalities and finding a location suited to such an attempt. We had looked at a few areas as possibilities but each had drawbacks and we needed a course that would give us the very best of chances and a remote beach on the North-West coast of Tasmania at Bakers Beach looked like the ideal place, a little out of sight in case of failure and some 4.5 miles of good surface to set up a good surveyed strip to test our hopes. It took quite a few weeks for our little band of helpers to arrange all the last minute problems including being told that the official timing gear was in Hobart the night before we were about to contest the run which meant someone had to drive the 250 mile journey to retrieve this very important bit of gear.

While this was being attended to my friend Bruce Burr and I decided it would be prudent to take the car to the beach the evening before to eliminate any hold-up on the following day. The best laid plans were in place, we were armed with arrowed placards to be placed on trees showing the way into this well hidden beach, and the evening turned into night before we reached the last mile or so of very dense bush and not having ever tried to visit this remote place in darkness we became hopelessly lost and had diligently placed our signs in areas that have never been found to this day.

Our problems didn’t stop there. Eventually arriving on the Western end of the beach it required about a 4-mile drive in the Land Rover, with car and trailer on tow behind to the Eastern end to a base site we had previously chosen. We were finding this spot hard to locate in the darkness and required driving in the softer sand further up the beach and of course the trailer and race car became bogged and things became hopeless, so we simply unhitched the trailer and moved the Land Rover to a little higher ground and turned in for the night.

We were woken just after daylight by a local TV crew that had somehow found us without the aid of our signs and to our horror we found that the tide was in and was lapping the deck of the trailer and the car looked to be sitting on the water, which presented more of a comedy act than a serious record attempt. Anyhow with the aid of the TV crew we managed to get things into a more respectable state before officialdom and others started arriving, none of whom had seen any of the dozen or so directional signs we had placed the night before.

One of the early runs at Bakers Beach with canopy intact Cooper T51 Chev (SLV)

The timing equipment had been brought from Hobart and set up and it was time for the first test runs up the beach. Bearing in mind that this would be the first test of the car itself, it was a very nerve-racking time for me but if Aussie felt the same way he certainly didn’t show it climbing into the car as if heading off on a fun drive up the beach. The first couple of runs looked well but a problem with the timing equipment held proceedings up for some time giving and making all previous runs null and void, but it did give us a chance to delve into a possible gearbox problem which turned out to be a minor adjustment. Stripping a transmission on a beach in the open is not really recommended, soon all was ready for the first official run from East to West.

The car achieved 172 MPH, well on target. We had the car geared for around 202 mph @ 6,500rpm and this first run was looking good. The reverse run was a little down which was expected against a growing wind and adjustments were made to the car before the next speed run. While working on the engine it was necessary to remove the canopy I had made to try and wind-cheat the car. I had rigged up a quick release arrangement for this canopy should the need arise but somehow the mechanism got damaged in the refitting after the previous run causing a major drama on the next attempt.

At an estimated 170 mph the canopy ejected and went skywards also releasing the whole back half of the body and certainly shocked the observers and dimmed the hope of taking the record somewhat, but the ‘never say die Aussie’ the pilot was determined to have a go without such refinements even though beach conditions had deteriorated and the wind was lifting the sand into a heavy haze and pulling down his goggles, the intrepid Miller lad set off, disappearing into a wall of sand and into the record books by pushing the record up to 164.7 MPH, not what we hoped, but a record that would stand for almost 4 years all on the smell of an oily rag.

To reminisce on a time when this sort of thing was possible and practical learning was still in vogue. For me I later entered into F1. As a race engineer where in those early days your skills were required on every aspect of the car, you featured dirty hands but acquired a lot of private satisfaction. It was an era in time we will never see again in the name of motorsport, it was four years later when Donald Campbell in his jet powered Bluebird officially became the fastest man on wheels putting the record up to 403 mph on Australia’s Lake Eyre, but the successful Miller challenge remained for some 4 years and certainly must always remain as a dinkum piston engined record done on a shoestring by a man of his time……… Austin Miller (My Mate!)’ Geoff Smedley.

Miller raced the car on into 1962 albeit only briefly.

The Cooper retained its Chev engine and was entered in both the local South Pacific Championship at Longford retiring on lap 2 with valve problems and at Sandown’s opening meeting where the car also failed to finish. Another similar car in concept to Miller’s made a huge impression on Jack Brabham that weekend.

In a one-off Australian entry- it was the only time this car ever raced, Lance Reventlow’s mid-engined Scarab, powered by an aluminium Buick V8- from the same family of engines as that used by Repco in their 1966 F1 World Championship year, the Repco Brabham RBE620 motor was based on a modified production Oldsmobile F85 block. Miller was very much ahead of his time with the thinking behind the V8 engined Cooper.

Austin strolls with his T51 Climax the wrong way up Sandown’s Main Straight from the old paddock onto the grid for the start of the feature race at Sandown’s first meeting on 12 March 1962, the ‘Sandown Park International’. Brabham won is his 2.7 litre Cooper T55 Climax- Aussie DNF in the Chev engined T51 (unattributed)

With that, and the local scene becoming ever more professional and expensive, Miller retired from racing to concentrate back on his agricultural spraying business and commercial aviation career.

The Cooper T51 passed through many hands during the sixties and early seventies before John Caffin acquired its remains which comprised the chassis, seat and a fuel tank. The car was fully restored by John, Aussie took great delight in running it a number of times, his T51, like so many of them left Australia many years ago.

Austin, in a very full life was married twice- to Florence with whom he had Vicky and Guy (a handy steerer of historic FFs), and to Judy with whom he had four children- Todd, Ashley, Tracey and Brett. After sale of the hotel in Tasmania he moved back to Victoria to aerial crop spraying- at that stage he bought a de Havilland Beaver and operated out of Derrinallum in Victorias’s Western District, two hours from Melbourne.

Aussie maintained his interest in cars, guesting in demonstrations of his Cooper in the historic era and he applied his mechanical talents to the restoration of the ex-Brabham/Davison Brabham BT4 (‘IC-2-62’) remains but that car was sold to John Coombs in the UK without ever seeing the light of day here.

Miller died aged 85 in 2009 but his name lives on, he is discussed when competitive drivers of that period are being looked at in the manner in which they went about their business and drove- and owner/driver/preparer Miller is much respected for his achievements but I guess racing the Cooper was a soda compared to the daily in-cockpit rigours of an ag-pilot!

(Miller)

Austin aboard a 235HP Piper Pawnee, Dookie College, between Benalla and Shepparton, Victoria, 1976.

Percival EP.9 Aircraft in Australia…

http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/percival-ep9/percivalep9.html

Etcetera…

(Miller)

Works touring car driver- Graham Hoinville and Austin drove an Australian Motor Industies Triumph Herald in the 1960 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island, DNF in the race won by the Roxburgh/Coad Vauxhall Cresta

(unattributed)

What a road car!

Lady at left seems pretty calm about the vivid yellow Cooper T51 Chev’s presence on the Launceston streetscape. Some type of car show or procession I guess- can someone help with the occasion and date?

(G Miller)

‘Lukey Trophy’ Gold Star round at Phillip Island in December 1960.

Austin’s T51 with John Roxburgh’s T45 2 litre FPF in the distance on the drop into ‘MG’ corner- Bill Patterson won from Aussie and Bib Stillwell, T51’s all.

(J Ellacott)

Longford Trophy grid, March 1960.

Brabham #4, Stillwell #6 and Miller in yellow- all in Cooper T51s with Glass’ Maserati 250F beside Austin, before the off. Brabham won from Mildren and Stillwell- the dominance of Cooper T51’s in Australia throughout this period comes through in all of this article.

The tables only turned from Cooper when Jack and Ron’s ‘Intercontinental’ Brabham’s- the BT4/BT7A and later BT11A started to come into the country in numbers circa 1962/3 and beyond, but Coopers were dominant in number from 1958/9.

(NMRM)

1960 ‘Craven A’ International grid just before the off, Bathurst October 1960.

I’ve used this shot a couple of times before- it does illustrate the point made a moment ago about Cooper dominance at the time. Stan Jones’ blue T51 is on the outside of row 1, then Alec Mildren’s ‘Mildren green’ Maserati engined variant and then Brabham. John Leighton’s almost invisible T45 and Bib Stillwell’s red T51 on row two. Arnold Glass’ Maserati 250F on row three beside the crowd, then Noel Hall and Austin’s T51s. A row further back its Bill Patterson’s white T51 alongside John Youl’s. The other yellow car at far right rear is Doug Kelley’s ex-Miller Cooper T41 Climax.

Brabham won from Patterson and Stillwell.

(unattributed)

Bathurst I think- Austin, T51 Climax from Alec Mildren, Cooper T45 Climax- then again it may be Alec’s T51 Maserati but it must be 1961 not 1960 as the induction side on the engine in Mildren’s car in 1960 was on the other side, whereas in 1961 it was on ‘this side’ as above. I don’t think Austin’s T51 ever met Alec’s T45 at Bathurst- the T51 Maserati yes. Then again this might not be Bathurst…help, I think.

 

Arcane but sorta relevant…

Austin was a very highly rated pilot, when Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation boss (later Sir) Lawrence Wackett was after a test pilot for his new Wirraway Trainer based CA-28 ‘Ceres’ heavy payload agricultural aircraft in 1958/9 it was to Miller he turned.

Miller and Tadgell, familiar with the Wirraway from their RAAF days, decided to trial the plane as an alternative to their growing fleet of DH.82 Tiger Moths. After obtaining the licence endorsement they needed the Department of Supply sold them two aircraft for 500 pounds each. Both were fitted with a hopper behind the front seat and various designs of spraying equipment, also installed were RAAF underwing extra fuel tanks.

The experiments were successful, so, given Austin’s technical and analytical skills it was to Miller Wackett turned but he was too busy with Super Spread’s operation which by then included Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, not to forget his racing…and family so he let the opportunity pass.

Ultimately 20 of the aircraft were built, CAC transferred the production capacity then released at Fishermans Bend to the RAAF Mirage jet fighter project.

Super Spread CA28-10. Reg VH-CEK and later VH-SSY- Ceres Type C, which was the definitive final production type CA-28 to which most earlier series aircraft were field modified. First registered 20 September 1960. Here in 1962 it’s dropping a load of live fingerling trout into Lake Eildon, in Victoria’s Alpine region between Eildon and Mansfield 150 km from Melbourne- superb shot. This aircraft has, like a racing car, had a few decent hits down the decades, been de-registered and registered again when rebuilt and is still extant (Ben Dannecker Collection)

The most hours on the type were recorded by Super Spread pilot John McKeachie who commented about the plane as follows; ‘The Ceres carried a good load and had an excellent braking system. The Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial was very reliable and the engine cowls were designed to give easy access for maintenance. It had a 3 second dump with the dump doors not being retractable as the whole bottom dropped out.’

‘The later models were designed to allow the loader driver to be carried behind the pilot. Spare parts were readily available. The aircraft had several negative features, being very heavy on the controls, slow on the turn and very tiring to fly. It was also heavy on fuel, needed a long runway and gave a rough ride when on the ground.’

Bibliography…

Austin Miller profile by Martin Agatyn, article by Geoff Smedley, oldracingcars.com, Aviation Safety Network, Geoff Goodall’s Aviation History Site, various issues of Australian Motor Sports 1958-1960, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park 1953-1958’ Barry Green, oldracingcars.com

Photo and other Credits…

Ron Lambert, John Ellacott, Guy Miller Collection,  Greg Richardson, Rob Knott via Ellis French, National Motor Racing Museum, Ben Dannecker Collection

Special thanks to Guy Miller and Geoff Smedley

Tailpiece: We have lift-off…

image

(G Smedley)

Finito…

 

(J Manhire)

Tony Gaze in his HWM Jaguar ‘VPA9’ at Ryal Bush in New Zealand’s South Island on 11 February 1956…

Isn’t John Manhire’s photograph a fantastic one? He has captured the car, the physicality of hustling these machines around a road circuit, and of course the crowd so well to add some drama and perspective- its a beauty which inspired an article.

Later in the day Tony was second in the first ‘Southland Road Race’ run over forty-one 5.87km laps of a course laid out around the hamlet of Ryal Bush 20km north of Invercargill, at the very south of New Zealand’s South Island. He drove his ex-Ascari Ferrari 500 powered by a 3 litre 750S sportscar engine, in front of him was Peter Whitehead in a similar car.

By 1956 Australia’s first Formula 1 driver was a committed HWM pilot having first raced an ex-Moss 2 litre HWM Alta F2 car in Grands Prix during 1952 with good results given the nature of his privateer campaign. This chassis was later acquired by Lex Davison, fitted with a Jaguar XK engine it won the 1954 Australian Grand Prix at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast, its still in Australia in sportscar form but very original in terms of its componentry, in the loving hands of the Hough family- article pending.

Tony aboard his HWM Alta at Charterhall in October 1952- the ‘Newcastle Journal Trophy’. DNF in the race won by Dennis Poore, Connaught A Type. Gaze’ last race in the car as it transpired.

 

Tony was despatched to New Zealand by John Heath and George Abecassis together with the supercharged GP HWM Alta 2 litre in the Antipodian summer of 1954 with a brief to win a race or three and then sell the Formula Libre car before returning home- whilst he didn’t win any races he did well and also fulfilled the second part of his brief, the lucky Kiwi’s had the machine for the rest of its ‘in period’ racing life- click here to read a story about that tour and background information about HWM; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/13/tony-gaze-hwm-alta-new-zealand-1954/

Sportscar racing, make that every type of racing exploded in England as the shackles of war were progressively cast aside with grids of Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lotus, Cooper, Lister, HWM and other marques making sportscar grids every bit as large and competitive as the single-seater categories.

Faced with the difficulty of finding a competitive car for the 1953 GP season- the reliability of the Alta engine was a major concern for Gaze- Enzo Ferrari would sell Tony a Ferrari 500 but without works support that would have been a very expensive proposition, so he looked to sportscars for the next phase of his career.

Gaze was invited to be part of a pre-Le Mans 24 hour test of the Aston Martin DB3 at Monza- in the snow, at the end of which he and Graham Whitehead were offered cars, Tony recalled ‘Wyer stitched us up. We were promised that Aston Martin wasn’t going to come out with something new to make us obsolete the moment we got these things. So the first race meeting I go to Reg Parnell turns up in a works DB3S which was a lot lighter and more powerful!’

Tony Gaze, Aston Martin DB3 at Dundrod during the 1953 TT- excellent fourth place sharing Graham Whitehead’s car. The Collins/Griffith and Parnell/Thompson Aston Martin DB3S were first and second (Gaze)

 

Tony and Kay Gaze with Tony’s new Aston Martin DB3, looking immaculate, before the off at Oporto, Portugal (Gaze)

 

Gaze’ Aston Martin DB3 chassis #9, or the charred remains of it, in an Oporto Street after his high speed contretemps with a Ferrari and a stout tree- a lucky escape during the 1953 Portuguese GP (D Coelho)

He first raced his car, chassis ‘DB3-9’, one of ten DB3s built, at the Silverstone International Trophy meeting in May finishing fourth in his class. He then took the car to the Cote d’Azur for the Hyeres 12 Hours in June, that race was held on the Iles d’Or 7km road course- sharing his car with Graham Whitehead the pair ran fifth in the pouring rain but retired after two hours with a broken timing chain.

His small equipe then headed south to take in the Portuguese Grand Prix which was held on 21 June on the 7.4km Boavista street circuit in Oporto.

The race started badly for the contingent from the UK on the very first lap when Duncan Hamilton’s Jaguar C Type ‘was punted off by an amateur driver who was apparently banned for life’ but got considerably worse when Gaze came close to losing his life in ‘DB3/9’.

Italian sportscar specialist, Pietro Palmieri’s Ferrari 250MM collided with the Aston on lap 3 catapulting it into a tree, at which point it broke in half and burst into flames leaving our former fighter-pilot ace semi-conscious in the middle of the road ten metres from the remains of his machine which was completely destroyed- absolutely rooted, it was written off (and somewhat surprisingly has not been re-birthed all these decades later). Palmieri’s Ferrari lasted until he had completed 7 laps when engine failure intervened, the three hour, 60 lap race was won by Jose Nogueira Pinto in a Ferrari 250MM Vignale Spyder. Click here for a piece on the DB3; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/19/1952-goodwood-9-hours-and-aston-db3/

After his recovery, Tony sought to buy a works Aston from Wyer who refused to sell, after attempts by the insurance company to purchase a second hand Aston DB3 to replace the destroyed car failed- and he received his money, Tony then tried to buy a Jaguar from Lofty England but could not agree terms- and so it was that he approached his buddies at HWM who had just built a Jaguar engined car for company co-owner George Abecassis to race. The racer was immediately quick with Heath’s triple-Weber fed Jaguar engines and ‘Indianapolis style quick change Halibrand spur-gears’ to allow easy change of gear ratios to suit the demands of different circuits, were both competitive aspects of the cars overall design.

Tony in HWM1 during the very wet May 1954 Aintree Daily Telegraph International meeting heading for fourth behind Duncan Hamilton, Jaguar C Type, Carroll Shelby’s Aston DB3S and Jimmy Stewart’s C Type (Gaze)

 

Tony Gaze during the 1953 Hyeres 12 Hours in HWM1- shared with George Abecassis (S Lewis)

 

Tony in VPA9 during the British GP sportscar support race, Silverstone, July 1954. DNF with the Collins, Salvadori and Shelby Aston DB3S up front of the 118km race  (Gaze)

Whilst VPA9 (the first registration number of HWM sporties is generally the number by which they are recognised) took a while to be built so Tony raced Abecassis’ ‘HWM1’ at the Aintree opening meeting in May where he was fourth in the sportscar ten lapper- Duncan Hamilton’s C Type won.

In the Hyeres 12 Hours in early June he co-drove with George- they ran second until pinged and disqualified for a minor pit infringement by Abecassis- Trintignant/Piotti won in a Ferrari 250 Monza.

‘VPA9’ (‘CH 105′ is the chassis number attributed to the car by John Blanden and some other sources online) is the third HWM Jaguar built, the first was built by Oscar Moore who converted his Alta engined HWM- fitted with a 3.4 litre, and then later a 3.8 litre engine, the package was mighty quick, managing to stay in front of Abecassis’ works Aston Martin  in the Jersey International Road Race until the engine broke. Gaze car was finally delivered to him in June 1954 just prior to the Reims 12 Hour, which he contested with Graham Whitehead as co-driver.

Powered by a works Jaguar 3.4 litre XK experimental engine the pair finished seventh in the 270bhp machine ‘despite extremely poor handling’ which was finally diagnosed twelve months hence as front shock absorbers which were fading- the problem was cured by adding some friction dampers. Up front the Peter Whitehead/Ken Wharton Jaguar D Type won- it was an historic day as it was the first of many wins for Jaguar’s most famous racer.

In July, Tony’s car, which was always entered by HW Motors, was twenty-second in the British GP sportscar support race at Silverstone, with various problems- up front of this 25 lapper which concluded the day’s proceedings was a trio of Aston Martin DB3S’- Peter Collins won from Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby.

In a very busy August Tony won at Crystal Palace from pole, but he missed a gear leaving the tell-tale at 6900rpm.

VPA9 crossed the channel to Zandvoort on 15 August where Tony failed to finish after a huge spin at Hugenholtzbocht behind the pits- he then took a shortcut to the other side but the grass was so wet the car became bogged- when he stopped he could see Duncan Hamilton in the pits overcome with laughter at his plight. Ninian Sanderson’s C Type won that day with three other C Types in line astern.

On 22 August Gaze took VPA9 to the French Southern Brittany seaside resort town of La Baule to contest the sportscar handicap race finishing sixth- two D.B. Panhards were up front, then Jacques Peron’s 1350cc Osca MT4 with Duncan Hamilton fourth in his Jaguar C Type, then Jean Lucas in a small D.B. Renault with Tony next best of the ‘big cars’.

After about an hour, with 9 laps completed of the demanding 11 September RAC TT at Dundrod, sharing the car with John Riseley-Pritchard, VPA9’s engine dropped a valve- with nowhere to exit the circuit- surrounded as it was by slab walls the engine was fairly rooted by the time Tony came upon a cross-road to exit the track. Mike Hawthorn and Maurice Trintignant won in a works Ferrari 750 Monza and Piero Taruffi/JM Fangio Lancia D24 were second in this 1000km World Sportscar Championship round.

Tony oversees the preparation of his Ferrari 500/625- ‘500-05’, or as re-numbered by the factory when modified as Formula Libre machines ‘GP.0480′ in Australasia during 1955/6. Gaze’ car, when fitted with a 750S engine later in 1955 had a flat spot which was not cured until Alan Ashton (at right) made some new jets for the Weber carburettors during the early period of Lex Davison’s ownership circa later 1956. Reg Hunt at left ‘top’ (MotorSport)

 

Tony in the Oulton Park paddock prior to the British Empire Trophy sportscar practice in May 1955. #44 is the Bertie Bradnack Cooper T33 Jaguar and the car behind that is George Abecassis in HWM1. Archie Scott-Brown won in a Lister Bristol (Alamy)

 

Tony Gaze in the Aston Martin DB3S he shared with David McKay to second place in the May 1955 Hyeres 12 Hours. With DB3S/102 he also contested the 1955 Circuito do Porto, Monsanto, Charterhall International, Snetterton International, Goodwood 9 Hour and Tourist Trophy meetings that year (Gaze)

It was time for an engine rebuild back at Browns Lane and whilst a replacement was provided Tony never did get back the trick engine, the motor he used at Goodwood during the BARC Autumn 25 September meeting ‘was not the original but Jaguar’s worst old engine’.

The team asked Tony to race the HWM 54 Jaguar GP car instead, this was the Alta engined car Lance Macklin raced in the July 1954 French Grand Prix- DNF after 10 laps on the day Mercedes Benz arrived back in Grand Prix racing in rather emphatic fashion. Gaze was to race in the Formula Libre Woodcote Cup, and after some confusion with the pedals in practice (which were clutch/throttle/brake rather than the clutch/brake/throttle of his sportscar) or a mechanical failure got to the bottom of Lavant Straight into Woodcote the car wouldn’t stop, ‘Whatever the reason it wasn’t going to stop so i spun it down the escape road and hit the eight feet high dirt wall and got tossed over the top of it and ended up in the crowd’ Tony recalled. Peter Collins won the race in one of Tony Vandervell’s Thinwall Ferraris whilst MotorSport observed that ‘Practice was notable for Tony Gaze ground-looping the HWM Jaguar when going too fast into Woodcote Corner, thereby bruising himself, and incidentally providing Fairman with another drive’.

‘The car was a write-off. There was a bit of a joke about the car because they salvaged what they could of it- the engine and things- and put the rest of it up against the factory wall ready to try and straighten it and sell it to some unfortunate bloke. But the scrap metal man arrived and took it without asking!’

Jack Fairman raced VPA9 whilst Tony was recovering from his Goodwood shunt, a week later John Riseley-Pritchard used it at Aintree- committed to other race commitments in 1955, primarily his ex-Ascari Ferrari 500-625 F Libre/GP car in the early months of the year, and ‘Kangaroo Stable’ Aston Martin DB3S races (a story for another time), VPA9 didn’t race in Europe again, Tony’s final entry in it, at Oulton Park, for the British Empire Trophy meeting in April 1955 met with mechanical failure in practice which precluded racing.

‘John Heath had found a cheaper way of doing up Jaguar gearboxes…George Abecassis had a problem in practice with HWM1 and had changed the box, using the team’s only spare’ so when Tony changed down to third for Old Hall corner…everything locked up. He thought the engine had seized and let the clutch out which didn’t make the slightest difference and then found himself spinning around and around about five times. The corner marshall didn’t know which flag to wave so much was happening…the gearbox had slipped into two gears at once and solidly locked up…’ Gaze recalled.

Tony and Peter Whitehead raced their ‘twin’ Ferrari 500/625’s in New Zealand with great success in early 1956, by then fitted with 750S sportscar engines- both took two-seaters along for the ride to use in the support events and to raise some cash at the end of the tour by selling them, Tony took VPA9 and Peter the very first Cooper T38 Jaguar (CJ-1-55) he and his half-brother Graham raced at Le Mans in 1955- using VPA9, at Ardmore Gaze was third and took a win at Christchurch during the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at the RNZAF airfield the following weekend. (happy to hear from any of you Kiwis who may be able to fill in the gaps of the HWM’s placings in other events that summer)

The tale of this tour is told here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/05/the-gp-aston-martin-dp155/

NZ GP, Ardmore Airfield, Auckland 8 January 1955- that’s Bira in the #1 Maserati 250F ‘2504/2509’ on the way to a victory with Lex up front in his ex-Moss/Gaze HWM now Jaguar powered, with Tony in his ex-Ascari Ferrari 500 and soon to be Lex’s in March 1956. Bira won from Peter Whitehead and Tony in their identical Ferraris. Lex must have been eternally grateful to his great mate Tony as three of his four AGP wins were courtesy of cars Tony sold him!- 1954 at Southport in the HWM Jag and 1957 Caversham and 1958 Bathurst in the Ferrari. Mind you that HWM Jag was in many ways quite a different machine to the rolling chassis Tony sold to him in early 1953(unattributed)

 

Tony Gaze applying a touch of opposite lock at Albert Park in March 1956, this meeting his final one in VPA9. He was a big tall bugger! I only ever saw him as an older man- and a mighty imposing bloke he appeared- he had a real presence about him, he always looked friendly enough but I was never game to say gedday- I’ve always reserved my awe for real heroes, and that he most certainly was. That shitty background is hessian trying to stop free-loading Melburnian’s checking out the action without paying but nicely stuffs up the background (G McKaige)

At the end of the NZ Internationals Gaze shipped his two cars across the Tasman Sea to Port Melbourne contest the Moomba Meeting at Albert Park over the March Labour Day long weekend, winning the 48 lap 150 mile Tourist Trophy event from Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type and Ron Phillips’ Austin Healey 100S.

He was third in the Argus Cup, also at the park, a week later behind Stillwell’s D and Stan Jones ex-Whitehead Cooper T38 Jaguar, before this meeting Lex had acquired both the Ferrari and HWM from his great mate- Lex’ first meeting in the Ferrari was this weekend.

Graham Howard wrote that Tony’s only condition upon sale of the cars was that ‘he urged Lex to have Alan Ashton, from AF Hollins, (A.F. Hollins Pty. Ltd. were motor engineers with a workshop at 694 High Street, Armadale, the building still exists not too far from the Orrong Road corner) who had been preparing Tony’s Australian racing cars since the 1940’s and who had been looking after the Ferrari in New Zealand. The combination of Lex, Alan Ashton and the Ferrari was to become one of the great partnerships of Australian racing.’ Lex placed second twice in the Ferrari to Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F that weekend.

Davison was a busy boy in 1956 racing the Ferrari, contesting the Mobilgas Round Australia Trial with Peter Ward in a Peugeot 403, racing his Phil Irving fettled Cooper-Vincent at Collingrove Hillclimb and at Part Wakefield, Templestowe and at Mount Panorama where he defeated Bruce Walton to win his second Australian Hillclimb Championship. Then there was the small matter of the AGP being organised by the Light Car Club of Australia, of which he had just been elected President, his ‘Paragon Shoes’ business to run and a large family!

Lex raced VPA9 in the 32 lap Australian Tourist Trophy at Albert Park in the November/December 1956 ‘Olympic Meetings’, a wonderful fortnight of racing in which Stirling Moss won both the Australian Grand Prix in a Maserati 250F and the Australian Tourist Trophy in a 300S- Lex was seventh in the HWM.

During it’s lay-off the HWM had been modified by fitment of a fibreglass ‘Ausca’ body bought from Paul England in place of the aluminium alloy original in an endeavour to make it a tad lighter and more slippery.

Davo got caught up in the avoidance of Bill Patterson’s Cooper Climax’s attack upon the Park’s straw bales finishing the first lap in fourteenth place- Lex did well from that position finishing third of the local residents and lapping a couple of seconds quicker than Tony had in March, but the two D Types of Bill Pitt and Bib Stillwell were 2 laps ahead of the HWM at the races end. Moss won from Jean Behra, both in 300S Maseratis from the ill-fated Ken Wharton’s Ferrari Monza then Pitt, Stillwell and Davison.

‘The HWM was the only racing sports car Lex ever owned, and it was becoming daily more outdated: he ran it just a few times more, its best performance being a class record 27.08 seconds at Templestowe in mid-1957’ Howard wrote.

Lex aboard VPA9 in the Caversham paddock during the 1957 AGP weekend- note the fibreglass ‘Ausca’ body, the styling of which was heavily influenced by, if not a direct copy of the Maserati A6GCS body (K Miles)

 

Caversham AGP sportscar support race. #10 Ron Phillips Austin Healey gets the jump from Davison #30 HWM VPA9 and Derek Jolly, Decca Mk1 Climax, #24 Austin Healey raced by Anderson (austinhealey100s.com)

Davison took both the Ferrari and HWM across the Nullarbor to contest the March 1957, Caversham, WA AGP.

Lex won his second AGP, sharing his Ferrari 500/625 with Bill Patterson on a scorching hot summers day and after a lap-scoring dispute with Stan Jones- who had taken the chequered flag having driven solo in his 250F fitted that weekend with his spare 3 litre (300S) engine.

The HWM finished well back in the Saturday support sportscar race but looked the goods for the 40 lapper on the Monday where the temperature was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade by the time the event started in the early afternoon.

‘Lex had only a ten second lead when he bought the HWM into the pits after 15 laps, the car overheating so badly onlookers said the engine was almost visible through the bodywork. Unscrewing the radiator cap released a geyser of steam’, and Patterson (his relief driver in this race too) rejoined the contest and very soon to retire.

Not long after returning to Melbourne the car was damaged in an accident on the way back to town when driven by one of the mechanics from Templestowe Hillclimb- taken to Lyndon Duckett’s workshop in Toorak the car’s body was removed, where the remains, ‘including the bent front end, suspension and buckled wheels’ stayed until acquired by Gavin Sala in 1974.

Sala started the process of acquiring the missing bits, the project progressed through the hands of Simon Ramsay, Noel Robson and Julian Phillips in Perth who engaged Cliff Byfield to finish the project which created great interest when it made its ‘public debut’ in the inaugural F1 AGP at Albert Park in 1996.

In 1998 ‘VPA9’ left our shores for the UK where it makes regular appearances in historic events inclusive of a demonstration by Tony Gaze in the Goodwood reopening meeting in September 1998.

Technical…

(S Dalton)

 

(S Dalton)

John Bolster puts the first HWM Jaguar ‘HWM1’ to the test for Autosport magazine in April 1955.

Of conventional construction, the chassis was a twin-tube affair with independent front suspension by upper and lower wishbone, coil spring/dampers with a de Dion rear axle again suspended by coils and coaxial shock absorbers.

Engines were all Jaguar XK of varying capacity as was the gearbox which used ‘C Type’ ratios, Bolster gives a comprehensive explanation of the ‘quick change’ diff.

Girling provided the brake drum componentry, Borrani the wire wheels and the somewhat slab-sided body- all of the HWMs were drawn and styled by the talented Abecassis, was constructed in aluminium.

(J Ross)

 

(Autosport via S Dalton)

HWM Jaguar awaits its body in the factory at Walton-on-Thames————————.

A second series car, perhaps Heath’s ‘HWM1’ 1956 ill-fated Mille Miglia car, which was the second time the plate was used.

Simon Taylor said that a total of nineteen HWM’s were built of which six were sportscars- four ‘First Series’ machines, the Gaze car is one, and two ‘Second Series’ cars styled by Abecassis along Aston Martin DB3S lines.

(J Ross)

de Dion axle housing being fettled in the machine shop with what appears to be the remains of a transmission in the container under the ‘Webster & Bennett’ turning and boring machine. Any ideas as to the technician?

(J Ross)

I wonder if it’s some type of press occasion or John Ross there taking his shots and ‘interrupting the troops’.

Perhaps John Heath at left and George Abecassis well rugged up behind what I think is the new chassis of ‘HWM1’, the completed car is Abecassis’ ‘XPE2’, given the front air intake as shown in the photograph below- it evolved from the cars first meeting in May 1955 this group of shots were taken in early 1956, most certainly it is winter!

I really must buy Mr Taylor’s two volume book set, if any of you have a copy, assistance with chassis numbers would be considered very favourably by The Editor- a complete list would be wonderful.

‘XPE2’ displaying its lissom lines outside the Hersham and Walton Motors Ltd Aston Martin Dealership and workshops, the company is still a very successful Astons dealership having first taken on the concession in 1951.

(J Ross)

Do watch this ‘interview’ of Simon Taylor by Steve Cropley about HWM generally as part of the promotion of his two volume tome ‘John, George and the HWM’s’ on the marque, a couple of years back.

Held at Brooklands, the thing runs for one and a half hours but stick with it- very entertaining and chockers with facts and anecdotes Taylor is a natural story-teller.

Australian’s of a certain age will remember Steve Cropley as one of the ‘Sports Car World’ magazine guys which helped get us interested in cars- his career has been very much in the UK since the late seventies mind you.

 

Etcetera…

(S Wills)

Another ropey background shot at Albert Park during the 1956 Moomba meeting- Southern Command Army HQ in the background. It’s still a nice angle of a car- is it that the HWM is very low or Tony very tall, or both!?

Arcane and sorta relevant…

An afterthought really but too good a colorised Gaze photograph to waste!

Tony Gaze #6 (chassis ‘F2/1′ according to his book) and Gordon Watson’s Alta F2 cars in the sunny Silverstone paddock during the 5 May 1951 BRDC Daily Express International Trophy weekend.

Not a good time for the Alta boys as Tony DNS and Gordon DNF in the race won by Reg Parnell in one of Tony Vandervell’s Thinwall Ferraris- in fact it was Gaze’ first race in the car, the start of his season.

The shot is included to show the car Tony Gaze raced throughout 1951, his results in brief were as follows- 5/5/1951 Silverstone Intl Trophy F Libre 13th in heat 2- DNS final, 13/5 GP di Monza 12th, 20/5 GP Centenario Colombiano- Genoa 8th, 3/6 Eifelrennen Nurburgring 8th, 10/6 GP di Roma- Circuito Caracella Roma DNF, 24/6 GP di Napoli- Posillipo Naples 16th and DNF, 1/7 AVUS-Rennen AVUS 17th and DNF where the engine threw a rod, punching a nice big hole in the block.

The DNF’s appear as Tony’s short, two month season moves on and the equipment was perhaps getting a tad tired. Gaze’ book records that the Avus blow up was the end of his season as the two HWM Altas of Stirling Moss and Lance Macklin also had broken cranks and they were further up the Geoffrey Taylor repair queue than Gaze.

The class of the F2 fields, whenever they appeared, were generally the Ferrari 166F2/50, then Alberto Ascari raced the Ferrari 500 for the first time at Modena in late September and the die was cast for the next two years!

Beautiful cars- the very keen eyed will spot the ‘Light Car Club of Australia’ badge on the lower edge of the grille of Tony’s Alta- a little bit of Oz onboard far from home- see below for a better shot. Luvvit, but despite trawling through Tony’s results I can’t work out where the photograph below is, assistance welcome.

Look how far he sits outta that cockpit, gotta be a 500rpm penalty on every straight!…

(unattributed)

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Glory Days Albert Park 1953-1958’ Barry Green, ‘Almost Unknown: Tony Gaze’ Stewart Wilson, ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, Supercar Nostalgia, F2 Index, oldracingcars.com, MotorSport, racingsportscars.com, John Ross Motor Racing Archive

Photo Credits…

John Manhire, Tony Gaze Collection, George McKaige from his book ‘Beyond The Lens’, Spencer Wills, Ken Miles Collection, Duarte Coelho, austinhealey100S.com, MotorSport, Classic Auto News- ‘CAN’, Adam Gawliczek

Tailpiece…

(CAN)

Kids just wanna have fun. Just offloaded from a ship, the racing cars get plenty of attention in a Wellington, New Zealand back street in January 1956.

Gaze’ VPA9 is at left alongside Peter Whitehead’s Cooper T38 Jaguar, David McKay’s first Aston Martin DB3S and Stirling Moss’ 1956 NZ GP winning Maserati 250F.

The Cooper Jag is the first T38 built, chassis ‘CJ-1-55’ it was raced by Peter (and his half-brother Graham at Le Mans as a Cooper works entry) during 1955, and was sold to Stan Jones who quickly moved it on after not too many drives- Ron Phillips and John Ampt did well with it ‘in period’, beautifully restored by Ian McDonald in the eighties it is still in Australia but rarely seen.

The Aston is the car raced by Gaze and Gaze/McKay in 1955, chassis ‘DB3S-102’ before being acquired in full by McKay for use in Australia and New Zealand; see this story for details of the racer/Scuderia Veloce supremo/journalists two DB3S; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

The Moss Maserati is the family 250F ‘2508’, the performances in which throughout 1954 won him his spot beside Fangio at Mercedes Benz in 1955, the car returned to England after its Ardmore win.

Finito…

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Allan Moffat finesses his Shelby Mustang around the Daytona banking during the 1968 running of the endurance classic on 4 February…

The first two World Sportscar Championship rounds in 1968- at Daytona and Sebring were also the first rounds of the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am Championship which had very quickly become an important ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ contest for the major manufacturers and importers of cars into the US since it’s inception in 1966- the ‘Pony Cars’ so many of us know and love are a by-product of the Trans-Am, more to the point, they provided the homologation foundation upon which the race winners were built.

Shelby Racing Company entered two new ‘tunnel port’ 305cid V8 Mustangs at Daytona crewed by Jerry Titus and ex-F1 driver Ronnie Bucknum and another raced by Allan Moffat and Austrian/Australian/American Horst Kwech- they qualified Q22 and Q23 respectively.

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Siffert/Hermann Porsche 907 second placed car (the pair also shared the winning #54 car!) in front of Moffat/Kwech/Follmer Daytona 1968 (D Friedman)

Whilst the Porsche 907, Alfa Romeo T33, Ford GT40 and Lola T70 slugged it out at the front of the field- that battle was settled in favour of the Vic Elford/Jochen Neerpasch/Rolf Stommelen Porsche 907 with 673 laps from the Jo Siffert/Hans Hermann 907 in second, Ford were fourth outright courtesy of the Titus/Bucknum combination who  covered 629 laps- the Moffat car failed to finish when a spring tower failed. Ford were fortunate in that Roger Penske’s Chev Camaros had been ahead of the Mustangs, but they too did not finish.

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Daytona 1968 pre-race prep for the two ’67 rebuilt Shelbys, Titus car in front of Moffat’s (D Friedman)

 

Moffat from the Kleinpeter/Mummery/ Hollander Shelby 350 DNF- the blaze of lights getting Moff’s attention is the Wonder/Cuomo Ford GT40 DNF (unattributed)

 

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Thaddl be during the long night- car DNF after 176 laps (D Friedman)

Whilst Allan Moffat is a household name in Australia, he may not be quite so well known to some international readers so a potted history follows, noting the focus of this article is two years or so of his long, successful career- 1967 through to the middle of 1969.

Despite the articles narrowness in time it’s 13,594 words in length which is insane really, my longest ever, and about Touring Cars FFS! but I got more and more interested and chased increasingly many tangents as I explored. Grab three ‘Frothies’, here goes…

Allan George Moffat was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada on November 10, 1939. His father’s career progression took the family to South Africa in the early 1950s. Moffat’s  high school education spanned 1953 to 1958- he attended General Smuts High School in Vereeniging, near Johannesburg.

Keen on cars from the start, he bought a 1935 Ford V8 aged sixteen then stripped and rebuilt it over two years before he was able to drive on the roads, the first circuit he visited was Grand Central track- what became Kyalami, a ‘citadel’ of racing. Allan’s father moved the family to Melbourne, Australia in 1961 where he became a cadet with Volkswagen and attended night-school at Taylor’s Business College with the aim of being admitted into university.

Sandown’s first international meeting was held on 12 March1962, he blagged a his way into a gopher role with the Rob Walker camp helping look after Stirling Moss’s pit- the great Brit was third in a Lotus 21 Climax 2.7 FPF in the race won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T55 Climax.

Early days on the Victorian circuits- Moffat, Calder, Triumph TR3A 1963

 

Moffat and Jim McKeown go at it during the 1966 South Australian Touring Car Championship at Mallala- Jim was disqualified for receiving outside assistance after a spin whilst Moffat blew a tyre on the last lap. Clem Smith won in his Valiant RV1 (unattributed)

Shortly thereafter the budding racer bought a Triumph TR3A on hire purchase and commenced his competition career at Calder and the country circuits of the day as time and money allowed. He raced a hot VW while studying at Monash University and working with Volkswagen. After failing at Monash he followed his family back to Canada where he made a living selling Canadian cookware door-to door.

If it was ever in doubt, Indianapolis 1964 was the event which decided the young, focused and very determined Moffat that his future was in racing. He travelled from Toronto to Watkins Glen to see Team Lotus race their Lotus Cortinas to try and get a job with the team. He sought out Australian Ray Parsons all weekend about helping the team but failed so, ever persistent, followed them 2900 kilometres away to Des Moines- the next event where he met Parsons who took him on without pay- by the next meeting at Washington he was accepted into the team albeit on an unpaid basis.

At the seasons end the Cortinas were advertised for sale at $4500 each including spares- Allan asked his father to lend him the $3000 shortfall in excess of his savings to buy one, he reluctantly agreed. The deal was done and the car quickly shipped to Australia where he contested the 1964 Sandown Six-Hour race, a high profile international event with all of the local touring car stars of the day and internationals Roberto Businello, Paddy Hopkirk, John Fitzpatrick, Rodger Ward, Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen, Jackie Stewart and Jim Palmer. After twenty laps Moffat had lapped Bob Jane and was leading the race but boofed the fence at Peters Corner, eventually finishing fourth- it was a magnificent debut all the same. The race was won by Businello and Ralph Sach in Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super.

Allan Moffat two-wheeling Shell Corner in best Lotus Cortina style during the November 1964 Sandown 6 Hour- he and Jon Leighton were fourth in the race won by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach in Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Super TI (unattributed)

 

Moff checks the tyres of his FJ Holden Panel Van with Lotus Cortina on the back circa 1965. This servo- the pumps were soon to go, became AM’s workshop from the mid-sixties until 2015, 711 Malvern Road, Toorak is well known to eastern suburban racing nutbags. The locale is much the same now- those houses abut Beatty Avenue are still there. What is different, sadly is that Allan sold the site circa 2015, it is now a several story block of apartments named ‘Mandeville Lane’. Moffat lived in Toorak forever and was a regular in ‘Romeos’ and ‘Topo Gigio’ restaurants in Toorak Road, both are still there, where he was often wining and dining contacts, sponsors etc (AMC)

 

Moffat, Lotus Cortina, Green Valley 4 Hour Trans-Am April 1967, 18th with Gurney’s Cougar the winner (J Melton)

Moffat raced his car to a win in the Victorian Short Circuit Championship at Hume Weir a month after Sandown and was part of a posse of well over 20 drivers who ‘put the Ford Falcon on the map’ in Australia and dispelled concerns about the marques quality and durability by staging a 70,000 Mile Reliability Trial over nine days in late April 1965.

Ford America still had two unsold Lotus Cortinas so the competition manager, Peter Quenet asked Moffat to come back to prepare and race one of the cars throughout 1965, he returned to the US in time for the Indy 500 and was famously Jim Clark’s ‘water boy’ during the Scot’s historic Lotus 38 Ford victory. He raced the Cortinas in the Detroit area doing consistently well at Waterford Hills, his ‘home track’ but later in the year he raced at Mosport- running a distant third to Sir John Whitmore in a Team Lotus car.

He returned to Melbourne in November 1965 for the six-hour race and was holding second place with his BRM tweaked twin-cam engine when the rear axle failed two laps from the finish- Kiwi open-wheeler ace Jim Palmer co-drove that year.

In early March 1966 Peter Quenet rang again and offered Moffat a drive in Cortinas fitted with a ducks-guts BRM-prepared twin-cams, quick as a flash he was back across the Pacific again. The main competition were the Alan Mann Racing Cortinas whose driving roster included such luminaries as Frank Gardner, Sir John Whitmore and young thrusters Jacky Ickx and Hubert Hahne, in addition the grid that year included about fifteen alloy-bodied Alfa GTAs.

The Alan Mann Racing team manager was Howard Marsden, later to take over management responsibilities of Team Matich in Sydney and shortly thereafter Ford Australia’s racing team which was based in an unprepossessing ‘skunkworks’ in Mahoneys Road, Broadmeadows. In a splendid performance Moffat won the third ever Trans-Am race at Bryar, New Hampshire using U.S. Goodyear tyres, specially developed for his car and in the process his 1.6 litre Cortina defeated heavy metal including Frank Gardner, and John Whitmore Lotus Cortinas Horst Kwech Alfa GTA and ‘heavy metal including the Bruce Jennings Plymouth Barracuda, Yeager/Johnston and Lake/Barber Mustangs, Bob Tullius’ Dodge Dart and others.

Ray Parsons, both a mechanic and a racer, joined Moffat later in the year to build and run another Cortina with Harry Firth and Jon Leighton brought over from Australia as co-drivers for the longer races. At that time Harry Firth was ‘the competition arm’ of FoMoCo Australia preparing both rally and series production racing cars out of his small, famous workshop in Queens Avenue, Auburn. Moffat and Firth- and Parsons and Leighton contested both the Green Valley 6 Hour and the Riverside 4 Hour season ender in mid-September 1966 for ninth/seventh and seventh/thirteenth (both Ray Parsons and Moffat did Riverside solo, the latter when Harry Firth was laid low with flu) outright respectively.

A small historic sidebar is that Ray Parsons was a Tasman Series regular looking after Jim Clark’s Lotuses in the Australasian summers, after he returned to Australia- having tended to Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA in throughout the Etonian’s very successful 1968 Tasman Tour- he joined another ex-Lotus colleague, Engineer John Joyce in Sydney to build the very first Bowin- Glynn Scott’s P3 which just happened to be powered by Pier’s spare FVA. What became of Ray Parsons folks?

Becoming more and more entreprenueurial, Moffat asked Quenet for a budget to take over and race the two Alan Mann cars for the opening race of the 1967 season at Daytona- the Daytona 300. In a deal that involved Moffat agreeing not to race in Australia in 1967- and with assistance from Shell, the very powerful 180bhp twin-cam engine from Jim McKeown’s Shell-Neptune Lotus Cortina was shipped to America and installed in one of the Mann cars- McKeown was Moffat’s co-driver.

The Canadian got the class pole and led the first half hour before the flywheel parted company with the crank- with that ended any chance of a Ford works deal for 1967 but an agreement was reached whereby Moffat was given the cars, spares, equipment and transporter- and received $300 for each car which started a Trans-Am race.

In order to make the deal financially viable he took on pay drivers who were somewhat rough on the cars. It got to the stage where the other cars were cannibalised to keep his own machine racing- Moff’s results were appalling- Daytona 300 DNF, Sebring 4 Hour DNF, Green Valley 4 Hour eighteenth, Lime Rock DNF, Mid Ohio DISQ, Marlboro U2 litre with Adams DNF and then, bingo, a strong second sharing a Mustang with Milt Minter behind the Donohue/Fisher Roger Penske Chev Camaro Z28 and ahead of other notables in a smallish field in the Marlboro Double 300 at Marlboro Park Speedway in Washington DC.

The one off drive came about when Moffat was asked to take over the drive of a Mustang owned by George Kirksey, a Texan former sports writer and businessman at Mid Ohio- it was a great opportunity which Moffat capitalised upon- the Moffat/Minter pair were third outright at the end of the 500km race albeit they were later disqualified for refuelling whilst the engine was running- an error not Moffat’s. (I can make no sense of this in the ‘Racing Sports Cars’ results of the 11/6/67 Mid Ohio Trans-Am)

Kirksey then invited Moffat to do a non-championship Manufacturers Round at Watkins Glen where the major opposition was the Penske Camaro- Allan put the car on pole, recorded the fastest race lap and were elevated to first place after the winning car was disqualified for running a ‘fat’ engine.

Moffat in front of Dan Gurney’s Mercury Cougars- he would drive one later in the season, here during the March 1967 Sebring 4 Hour, both guys DNF in the race won by Jerry Titus’ Mustang (unattributed)

 

Moffat, works Bud Moore Mercury Cougar- note Allan Moffat Racing Ltd on the guard, maybe the deal was that AM’s team looked after the car on race weekends? Circuit unknown, help needed(unattributed)

 

Mercury Cougar test session at Riverside 8-14 January 1967- Bud Moore, Dan Gurney and Al Turner with Fran Hernandez with his back to us. Al Turner came to Australia a year or so later and ‘captained’ Ford Total Performance’ in Australia, bless him (F Hernandez)

 

AM in his Brabham BT15 Ford twin-cam, Road America, Wisconsin 1967 (B Nelson)

For the final four Trans-Am races he was given one of the Bud Moore Mercury Cougars and was up there racing with the big boys, a drive Allan credits to Peter Quenet…

His results weren’t flash mind you- his first race was at Modesto on 10 September for a DNF after 9 laps, then a Riverside prang after 41 laps, then in Las Vegasm as a support during the Can-Am round, DNF after 76 laps and then finally in the last race of the year at Kent where he was fifth.

Moffat said of his results ‘In my view it wasn’t my finest hour, but others differed. The DNF’s, two of them not my fault, and an out of points finish in the final race were the sum of my contribution. On paper it didn’t look good, but in that last race i’d actually achieved the team’s objective. I’d been sent out to block, to deliberately spoil the field. And it seemed i’d been successful’ Ford Mustang won the title by two points from Mercury with Chevrolet outclassed.

The young Canadian was very much a ‘coming man’, but he was ‘skint’ so set about selling the Cortinas ‘as well as a Brabham BT15 open wheeler in which i’d had one run and one win at Waterford Hills using a Cortina engine…’

Around about then, in December 1967, Moffat met Kar-Kraft’s Roy Lunn who offered him a job as a development driver. It was during that year (1968) that Moffat either reinforced or established his close links with the various Ford people who would help his career when he returned to Australia- this is about where we came in at Daytona 1968…Shelby, Kar-Kraft and Moffat- a bit player but becoming more significant.

Ford well and truly put a Trans-Am toe in the water by engaging Shelby American to build two Mustang Coupes for the 1967 championship after being successful the year before- Fastbacks could not be used as the SCCA classified them as sportscars at the time- and were therefore ineligible. Kar-Kraft provided valuable engineering assistance to Shelby- in particular making changes to the upper ball-joint mount to provide greater tyre/guard clearance and developing a stronger front axle (spindle). The two Coupes they developed won the ’67 Trans-Am.

Separate to Fran Hernandez’ Mustang program, he also oversaw the the running of (Lincoln Mercury division of Ford) two Bud Moore Mercury Cougars in 1967, one of which was raced by Moffat later in the season as we have just covered. In fact the Cougars almost upset Fords’s championship, falling short by only two points but finishing ahead of the Camaros. According to Lee Dykstra, Bud Moore based the Cougars racers on Shelby Mustang specifications- but they (the Cougars) did not use Kar-Kraft parts.

For 1968 Ford decided to move the Trans-Am Mustang engineering program from Shelby Engineering, based in California to Kar-Kraft just down the road in Dearborn- still with Fran Hernandez as leader. For those of us who are not Americans lets have a look at this short-lived (1964 to 1970) but hugely influential and successful 1960’s race organisation.

Smokey Yunick’s car out front of Kar-Kraft’s Haggerty Street Dearborn facility- building still exists, now used by a shipping company  (unattributed)

Kar-Kraft was an independently owned racing organisation started by Nick Hartman (although other sources say it was a wholly owned subsidiary of FoMoCo) with only one client- Ford. It was born of a group of young Ford engineers who quickly brought together Lee Iacocca’s mid-engined Mustang 1 concept and build- Roy Lunn was also part of that program and it was that small group who were central to Lunn’s plan for a nimble specialist group to take Ford’s various race programs forward.

Ford Advanced Vehicles in England was Lunn’s responsibility, when he became frustrated with the lack of success/progress of the Eric Broadley designed, FAV/John Wyer built and managed Ford GT40 in 1964 (Colotti gearbox reliability, aerodynamics, outright pace etc) he wanted greater FoMoCo Detroit control and therefore reorganised the GT40 program by tasking FAV to build the chassis/cars in Slough with the race program/development work under the wing of Jacque Passino, Ford’s global motorsport manager- and in turn Kar-Kraft in Dearborn.

Hartman, Ed Hull and Chuck Mountain knew each other as local SCCA racers, Hartman started K-K upstairs of his father’s machine shop in Dearborn- in the beginning the K-K designers and mechanics were moonlighting from Ford Research with management’s permission.

After a short stay at the Hartman workshop on Telegraph Road, Dearborn, K-K moved to 1066 Haggerty Street where the group was expanded to a team of about four engineers, four designers and ten mechanics and fabricators- flexing in size up and down, who worked for the following six years to make Ford’s products winners.

K-K had a ‘Special Vehicles Activity’ whose brief, described in an undated Ford document was to ‘…engineer, build, test, develop, prototype and manufacture a complete vehicle, or any system or component thereof. It (further) has the ability to generate complete product proposals and coordinate the total program with respect to manufacturing. In addition to offices at Engineering Building 3 and Ford Division General Office, Special Vehicles activities utilises Kar-Kraft Inc, contracted solely to Ford Motor Company…’

In short K-K had a brief broad enough to build one car or a limited production line such they did to construct the Boss 429 Mustangs when Bunkie Knudsen tasked them to do so. Crucially, they formed the link between the race teams (such as Shelby and Bud Moore in a Trans-Am context) and divisions back at Ford. In this way the race teams got access and input from the Ford departments which looked after engines, gearboxes, suspension, aerodynamics, computers and electronics.

Mustang 1

 

Ford GT40 race debut, FAV Slough built, Nurburgring 1000km 31 May 1964 Bruce McLaren (up) and Phil Hill. John Wyer behind the car head down taking notes

 

Ford GT Mk2, Ford Proving Ground Detroit June 1966 (Getty)

By the time K-K were given the 1968 and onwards Mustang programs their Ford Mk2 and Mark 4’s had won Le Mans in 1966 and 1967- the J-Car program was not so successful. K-K’s first job, which they did rather successfully was to marry the GT40 chassis and componentry with the 427 ‘Big Block, NASCAR engine and in the process developing the K-K transaxle, stuffed with heavy-duty ‘Top Loader’ gearsets, together with Pete Weismann and relentless testing by K-K and Ken Miles and Phil Remington from Shelby, they soon had a race winner. The Mark 2 first won at Daytona in early 1965 and of course triumphed in the famous 1-2-3 form finish at Le Mans in 1966.

In fact one of the reasons K-K ‘copped’ the Mustang program is that with a stroke of the rule-makers pen 7 litre cars were banned from the International Championship of Makes with effect 1 January 1968, so K-K’s primary race programs were at an end, they had resources available. And so it was with the death of the big-beasts, that the ‘original’ GT40 5 litre finally, long in the tooth, had its place in the Le Mans sun in 1968 and 1969 with John Wyer’s JW Automotive the most successful team to race these cars, two wins on the trot at the Sarthe using chassis ‘1075’.

During 1968 Allan Moffat got his chance with K-K ‘I was sitting in the Ford cafeteria with Peter Quenet, when Roy Lunn came over and said “What are you doing?”, and I said “starving to death”, so he said why don’t I go and work for Kar-Kraft. It was really one of those very fortuitous, fateful lunch meetings that happen to people from time to time. I worked right through Christmas, but their first cheque didn’t arrive until March. It was for $5000 and I think it all went straight to American Express’ Auto Action recorded.

Moffat worked on the Mach 2 Mustang- a mid-engine Corvette beater with IRS and a fibreglass body (which ultimately became the Ford engined De Tomaso Mangusta) the 1968 Trans-Am Mustang developments and the 1969 Trans-Am.

 

When K-K took over the Mustang program they built two new 1968 Coupes which Shelby developed and raced- the two cars raced at Daytona and Sebring were modified 1967 Shelbys. Moffat got his opportunities with Shelby early in the season given his involvement with K-K albeit the Shelby Racing Co staff would have been well aware of his race record in recent years.

Where I am going with all of this is Moffat’s journey from Lotus Cortinas in 1964 to the first meeting at Sandown in May 1969 when he raced his Kar-Kraft/Bud Moore Trans-Am, so a look-see at the 1968 Kar-Kraft/Shelby cars, given the carryover of some key components to the ’69 Trans-Am is relevant to the car we all came to know and love in Australia. And there is a Bob Jane Shelby twist in all of this too as many of you know.

The primary differences between the 1967 and 1968 Mustang notchback racers may have appeared minor, just sheetmetal, but the ’68 racers were mechanically much closer to the ’69 Boss cars than they were their ’67 notchback predecessors, that was in part due to rule changes between the 1967 and 1968 seasons.

The 1968 rules allowed greater freedoms than the Trans-Am’s first two years. For over 2 litre cars, a maximum engine capacity of 305cid was allowed regardless of the size of the original engine fitted. Wheels could be 8-inches wide and arches flared to accommodate them. Full interiors were no longer mandated- and most cars used roll cages to increase the vehicles torsional rigidity with obvious performance dividends. Pieces were removed, trimmed or drilled to reduce weight- this search for weight reduction eventually led to acid-dipping chassis as well as the parts attached to them- this became an epidemic really and is a story in itself, but not for now- the minimum weight was 2800 pounds.

Four-wheel disc brakes were allowed even though no such option was available on the specification sheet from any US manufacturer of a production car. Kar-Kraft used massive Lincoln calipers and rotors on the front whilst Kelsey-Hayes four-piston calipers (used on the 1965-1966-1967 Shelbys) were used at the rear. k-K special hubs allowed the rear ends to be fully-floated and suspensions employed K-K Watts linkages, narrowed rear springs were used and double-adjustable Koni shocks. Fuel cells were made mandatory from May 1968 with special refuelling rigs deployed- Penske’s team were aces at using trick rigs to speed up pitwork and forced other factory teams to follow.

Two ‘Shelby Racing Co’ cars were entered for each event, a total of four team cars were used during the year- two were new cars based on 1968 Mustangs and two were rebuilt 1967 Shelby team cars, the latter pair were the duo of cars raced at Daytona and Sebring as covered above. For the sake of completeness another new chassis was set aside for Shelby’ use but was not built up as a racer, however it was eventually assembled as such some years later.

Jerry Titus 1967 Shelby Mustang notchback during the Mission Bell 250 at Riverside in September. Not quite as ‘butch’ as the ’68 cars with more tyre and ‘flare’ (J Christy)

 

The dreaded 1968 302 Tunnel Port engine- cylinder head (unattributed)

 

Riverside late 1968 season engine test, one of the ’68 Shelbys at Riverside (F Hernandez)

 

The ‘famous’ late 1968 engine test is the 1969 shootout between the Tunnel Port, Gurney-Weslake and Boss 302 engines fitted in a ’68 Shelby- but look closely and it appears a bunch of Webers smiling at us. Charlie Henry’s book says that K-K tested a G-W manifold with Webers (exactly as used on the JW GT40’s with a bulge to give the carbs breathing space- in long distance 24 hour spec, fitted in a GT40 the engines in period gave a smidge under 500bhp. ‘Whilst the carbs provided data they were illegal in SCCA Trans-Am’ but legal in Oz where Webers were Moffat’s instruments of choice (F Hernandez)

As related earlier, Jerry Titus won the first 1968 Trans-Am round at Daytona run in conjunction with the Daytona 24 Hour, he finished fourth behind three long-tailed Porsche 907 Lang-Hecks.

The engines used at Daytona were Shelby Racing Co built Tunnel Port V8s. From race four of the Trans-Am, the Lime Rock round and onwards, Ford decided that all engines for Shelby would be supplied directly from Ford’s engine foundry- that is, engines assembled and built by ‘Ford Engine Engineering Special Vehicles’ were shipped in crates to Shelby for installation into the cars.

After each race they were removed and shipped back to Ford for disassembly, inspection and evaluation- this proved a disastrous decision which cost Ford any chance of winning the 1968 championship. So frustrated was number one driver Jerry Titus, that he formed his own team to race Pontiac Firebirds starting with effect the final Riverside round.

FoMoCo’s new 302 ‘Tunnel-Port’ engine was the secret weapon which would bring a third Trans-Am Championship on the trot, they hoped. A refinement of the 289 Hi-Performance V8, the primary change was to the cylinder head design. The 289 heads tended to be restrictive and only so much extra performance could be gained through porting and polishing- the new design was based on Ford’s NASCAR 427 heads.

The intake ports were straight instead of snaking around the pushrods- the pushrods went through the centre of the ports, giving rise to the name ‘Tunnel-Port’. This also allowed larger valves to be used, an extra eighth of an inch of piston travel was included, bringing the total displacement to 302 cubic inches. The block was strengthened and used lovely four-bolt main bearing caps, the whole lot was topped off with an aluminium dual quad carburettor intake. Shelby dyno sheets showed power outputs of 440 to 450bhp albeit this was produced very high in the rev range which became the cause of great, consistent reliability problems- apart from being power and torque curve characteristics unsuited to the demands of road racing.

Oiling problems plagued the engines the entire season- hardly a race weekend went by without one, usually more engines turning themselves into scrap metal. Some races were described as ‘six engine weekends’ because two engines would blow in practice and the race. At one point Shelby asked Ford if the team could go back to building their own engines- Ford’s answer was a succinct ‘No’. For the record, Shelby engines won two out of the four races in which they built the engines- Daytona and Riverside whereas Ford’s score was one from nine- Watkins Glen.

(L Galanos)

A month or so after Daytona (where this long piece started) the Shelby team headed from California in the direction of Florida, Sebring for the second race of the season on the 23 March weekend.

There, Moffat again shared the car with Horst Kwech where they qualified Q22, the Titus/Bucknum duo Q16 with the pair of Penske Camaros of Donohue/Fisher Q13 and Fisher/Welch/Johnson Q17.

Up front the race was won by the Siffert/Hermann 2.2 litre, flat-8 Porsche 907 from the sister car of Elford/Neerpasch whilst third outright was the Donohue Camaro from the Fisher machine, then the Titus/Bucknum Mustang with Allan and Horst one of the many tunnel-port’ engine DNF’s for the year.

Louis Galanos commented about his photo above ‘I can’t help but smile seeing this…photo…from the Sebring 12 Hour…After the Le Mans style start cars are coming down the front straight  three and four abreast. David Hobbs in a Gulf GT40, Ludovico Scarfiotti in a factory Porsche 907, Allan Moffat in a Shelby Mustang , Scooter Patrick in the Lola and so on…’

Checkout the amazing sequence of photographs below which shows just how quick away Jo Siffert was on pole and Allan Moffat down in Q22- Usain Bolt twitch fibres and all that, and no seat belt buckle done up I guess.

(D Friedman)

Drivers all in a pack, Moffat does appear to be making ground here, wherever he is, he comments in his autobiography written with John Smailes about his lack of training down the decades so we was not an elite level runner.

(D Friedman)

Siffert and Moffat- surely both have ignored belts, and critically their engines have answered the starter button immediately on call.

(D Friedman)

Jo is gone- out of shot whilst Moff is about to be swamped.

(unattributed)

From the off you can see how Moffat takes the Mustang wide knowing the zippy mid-engine rockets are going to cannon in his direction with the #11 Lola T70 Mk3B Chev of Mike de Udy (above and below) nearly driving him right into the wall- did he have a rear view mirror after that I wonder?

#28 Ickx/Redman and #29 Hawkins/Hobbs are the JW GT40’s #51 is the Ludovico Scarfiotti Porsche 907, #56 is the Foitec/Lins Porsche 910 and #42 the Bianchi/Grandsire Alpine A211 Renault and the rest.

(L Galanos)

 

(unattributed)

Titus and Bucknum made a strong showing at Sebring where they finished third in the Trans-Am class, behind the two Penske Camaros despite thirteen pit stops. The cars used Shelby prepared Tunnel Port V8s and cast iron Ford top-loader four-speed close ratio gearboxes, after this race aluminum Borg Warner T-10s were used.

Moffat all loaded up before the race, Titus machine alongside- ‘Shelby Racing Company’ decal on the B-pillar- and in action at Sebring below

 

Context for being given the Daytona and Sebring drives are Moffat’s performances in the previous two years and in particular the late 1967 Mustang and Mercury drives together with the KK testing role ‘…I was in the Ford fold, totally visible’ Moffat related to Smailes.

Allan was competing for the second seat in the Shelby team against Kwech- Titus was the number one and Bucknum had indicated he didn’t want the drive for the year.

At Daytona ‘In the race for the Shelby Ford works seat, score one for H Kwech. You never want to be at the wheel of the car when it breaks and he’d neatly handballed that honour to me. A month later at Sebring I broke my golden rule. When the flag dropped I was away, leading (the class) for the first hour until I was overhauled by Mark Donohue…When I handed the car back to Horst it was perfect, but, with one lap remaining of his long stint, the engine blew. At least he hadn’t been able to get me back behind the wheel before it broke.’

In due course the two Shelby sprint Trans-Am drives for 1968 went to Titus and Kwech.

Allan Moffat would return to Sebring a few years later at BMW’s invitation.

He joined Hans Stuck, Same Posey and Brian Redman in a BMW 3 litre CSL to victory in the March 1975 running of the classic from the Dyer/Bienvenue Porsche Carrera RSR and the Graves/O’Steen/Helmick similar car.

(unattributed)

After the conclusion of the two big international races in the US at the outset of the 1968 season Moffat was at a loose end- he still had his K-K testing gig but all the Mustang Trans-Am race seats were taken, Ford had lost interest in the under 2 litre class and in any event the Porsche 911s (admitted by the CSI as Group 2 touring cars) were dominant. More Cortina racing wasn’t going to take Allan forward, the Mercury program was at an end too- Ford would not make the mistake of splitting its resources and racing against itself again. As Charlie Henry wryly observed ‘Cougar never gained admittance to the Ford Motor Company “racing clique”. Ford wanted a performance oriented Ford to win, not a division with a luxury car reputation.’

The balance of the 1968 Trans-Am season unfolded like this.

Parnelli Jones joined Shelby at War Bonnet for the third Trans-Am round, qualifying on pole, but by the lap 7 Donohue’s Camaro was firmly in control up front- Jones was third with Titus out on lap 46 with a popped Tunnel Port V8. At Lime Rock, over the Memorial Day long weekend, Titus was second with the ‘guest car’ driven by NASCAR stockcar racer David Pearson, he retired on lap 22 after being black-flagged for leaking oil onto the track, the engine was consuming the slippery stuff faster than the crew could pour it during pit stops

shelbytransam wrote that ‘Things went from bad to worse for the Shelby team after that. Roger Penske’s Sunoco Camaro, driven by Mark Donohue, continued to run like a freight train while the Shelby cars faltered at every turn. Titus finished second at Mid-Ohio but teammate Horst Kwech, in #2 car blew the engine on the first lap. At Bridgehampton, the team’s semi-tractor trailer was involved in an accident on the way to the track and crushed the roofs of both cars. They were repaired as soon as they arrived but Kwech blew during the Sunday morning warm up before the race started and Titus went out with a broken suspension. At Meadowdale, in Illinois, Kwech finished eighth and Titus came in eleventh. Titus finished fifteenth at St. Jovite in Canada whilst Kwech blew his engine. At Bryar, in New Hampshire, Titus finished tenth and Kwech again blew an engine. Donohue won that race…effectively clinching the championship right there.’

Whilst all of this race excitement was going on, Moffat still had his Kar-Kraft testing duties but he was of course frustrated about not racing but his career was about to change direction again- in a pivot back to Australia.

Entrepreneur/racer Bob Jane’s first 1965 Mustang met its maker in an accident at Catalina Park in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains that November, he was lucky to walk away from the accident which is covered in this article here; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

Undeterred, he soon acquired a 1967 Mustang GT390 which was progressively modified, inclusive of the use of a small block V8 to get a car which handled as well as Pete Geoghegan’s locally developed (by John Sheppard) Mustang GTA- but it didn’t matter what the boys in his Brunswick HQ did, he still could not catch Big Pete. In fact the shortfall was Jane’s capabilities behind the wheel- Bob was no slouch of course, but he, like the rest of the competitor set were not on the same planet as the big, beefy Sydney motor dealer.

Bob despatched his long-time Team Manager, John Sawyer to the ‘States to find some goodies and know-how to try and bridge the performance gap between his and Geogheagan’s cars mid-year prior to the one race Australian Touring Car Championship to be held in Pete’s backyard- Warwick Farm, on September 8 1968.

John knew Allan, looked him up in Detroit and sussed him as to who to talk to and contact in relation to all the trick Ford bits, Allan helped out with introductions, explaining who John and Bob Jane were and how they fitted in, and assisted in getting all the components they needed, and then some.

Allan also set up the contacts with Shelby to acquire an ex-works 1968 car for Jane to use in 1969 and beyond- lets come back to that in a little bit.

Sawyer and Moffat spent plenty of time together, John soon got to understand Allan’s plight- race drive unavailabilty and all the rest of it. John contacted Jane about Moffat’s plight and soon he was offered a job with the Bob Jane Racing , acting as a go-between for the Mustang purchase project. Although nothing was documented, Allan understood that, in return, he would get to drive the older Mustang ‘GT390’  when the new car arrived in Australia.

Happy days indeed! Or so it seemed.

Bob Jane in the GT390 early days @ Warwick Farm in 1967 (unattributed)

 

Horst Kwech, Shelby Mustang, Riverside, on the way to a win in late 1968- this chassis was soon to become Bob Jane’s car (unattributed)

 

Bob Jane, Mustang, Hume Weir, circa 1970 (D Simpson)

Jerry Titus finally broke Donohue’s winning Trans-Am streak at Watkins Glen in August 1968 when the Camaro lost its brakes three-quarters of the way through the race. Dan Gurney was guesting in the other Shelby Mustang and retired with a blown engine. Donohue came back at Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado, finishing back in front- Titus and Gurney were both out with blown engines- this was the meeting after which Jerry announced that the next race, Riverside, would be his last in a Mustang, then he was off to campaign his own Pontiac Firebirds- Shelby were very sad to see him go of course.

By September 8, with both Donohue and Titus out at Riverside and Horst Kwech a Shelby Mustang race-winner, his car fitted with a Shelby pepped Tunnel Port, Allan Moffat was back in Australia, racing of all things Bob Jane’s Tasman 2.5 litre single-seater over the 15 September weekend…

On Horst’s race-winning weekend Bob Jane contested the ATCC race at Warwick Farm. Geoghegan started the race from pole and won after Beechey and Jane touched on the first lap- Bob retired with Geoghegan winning from Darrell King’s Morris Cooper S and Alan Hamilton’s brand new, just arrived in Oz, Porsche 911S/T.

Bob Jane Racing had a swag of drivers on its books by this stage of 1968.

John Harvey came very close to meeting his maker after a rear-upright failure in Bob’s new- just bought off Jack Brabham, Brabham BT23E Repco V8 dumped him amongst the scenery at Mount Panorama during the traditional Easter Bathurst Gold Star round. Harves was incapacitated with a long convalescence for the rest of the year whilst the shagged Brabham was repaired by Bob Britton in Sydney.

With Harvey indisposed, a three car team (Brabham, Mustang and Elfin 400 Repco sports-racer) and contractual commitments to Shell, Jane contracted two young Melbourne up-and-comers- Ian Cook and Bevan Gibson to  have some drives, the story of the Elfin and these two are told in this article; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

So, by the time Moffat arrived in Melbourne Sawyer and Jane had four drivers and three cars.

Ian Cook, with a solid background in ANF1.5 single-seaters, raced the repaired BT23E to fourth in the Gold Star round at Lakeside in late July during Kevin Bartlett’s dominant 1968 Gold Star year aboard Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5- the team missed the following Surfers Paradise round in late August with Moffat having a run at Sandown.

Whilst Moffat now had heaps of touring car experience- including ‘Big Car’ stuff as Frank Gardner liked to call them, his exposure to the more rarefied world of single-seaters was limited to a race or two in a Brabham BT15 Ford twin-cam in the US in 1967.

Sawyer and Moffat set off across Melbourne from Jane’s race base in Brunswick to Sandown Park- a circuit on which Moffat had always been quick, but his weekend was over almost before it started after an accident when a rear tyre parted company with its rim as he accelerated up the back straight. Game over before it had even begun.

Towards the end of the year, on 24 November he drove the Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 sports car (below) to two wins in the Victorian road Racing Championships meeting at Phillip Island.

This shot and the one below are of AM and John Sawyer in the backlane behind Bob Jane Racing HQ in Brunswick, Melbourne just before heading off for Sandown in 1968. Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740’ 2.5 litre V8 ‘Tasman Formula’ car (B Nelson)

 

(B Nelson)

 

Moffat in the Jane Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8, Phillip Island, November 1968 (R Bartholomaeus)

Horst Kwech’s Riverside Mustang win was the team’s third victory of the year, the last race of the season, at Kent, Washington saw Donohue win while Kwech and Peter Revson both failed to finish. Revson’s engine blew and Kwech crashed on the tenth lap. Titus seemed to console himself by talking pole in his new Firebird although he retired with engine problems on the lap 43.

Moffat’s work was very well done- Jane  bought the car raced by Horst to victory at Riverside- VIN#8RO1J118XXX was the very last of the 1968 K-K/Shelby cars built and had only raced three times in the hands of Dan Gurney, Peter Revson and Horst- happily for both Jane and Moffat it was soon on its way to Australia with our man expecting to race the hand-me-down GT390 in 1969 whilst his team-owner raced the near new car, on the face of it the pair were a strong combination for the ensuing year.

David Hassall wrote that the association with Jane nearly resulted in Allan’s first drive in the Bathurst 500- at one stage in 1968 it appeared that Jane would enter the race in an Alfa 1750 GTV with Moffat as co-driver, but it didn’t eventuate.

Allan stuck it out at Jane’s until one day in January 1969 when Bob went through the workshops- the Bob Jane Corporation headquarters was in North Melbourne several suburbs away from the race workshops in Brunswick, so Jane- running an empire at that stage involving new and used car dealerships, a car wholesale auction business and Bob Jane T Marts, a national franchise- would not have seen Moffat regularly in the normal course of running his large enterprise.

Bob said he didn’t think things were working out too well, suggesting they call it quits. Allan was thinking of leaving anyway, so that was it. He certainly wasn’t sorry to leave Bob, but he was also fired up with strong feelings about the way things had gone.

For the umpteenth time in his career, Moffat had no money or income or a drive.

At that point, with a new season underway, Moffat played the best card he had- he write to the most senior Ford executive he knew from his years in the states, he related to John Smailes ‘I wrote directly to Jacque Passino, the head of all motor sport for Ford. Like most of the Ford top brass at the time, Passino was a dyed-in-the-wool car guy, but not necessarily a motor racing enthusiast.’

‘The…motor racing brief was another step on Passino’s career ladder and he intended to carry it out well. The thing is, he had the authority to keep his promise. I just thought I had to have a go. My letter to him got through to his secretary, a feat in itself, and I was granted an appointment. I guess I had some credibility, being the outright winner of the third-ever Trans-Am race in one of his products must have stood for something, and backing up as a driver in his works team as well as a Kar-Kraft test pilot maybe put me on his radar. But I seriously doubted it.’

‘My grandfather always taught me never to sit down in anyone’s office unless they invited you. Passino was a fearsome guy, beautifully dressed, with prematurely greying hair and strong steel glasses. He didn’t ask me to sit. I explained my case. I was a Ford man through and through. I had unfinished business in Australia – to win the national title – and a Cortina was no longer going to do it for me. I concluded by asking: “Are you able to help with a car?”

‘He said: “I don’t know where the cars are. Give me a couple of days and I will see what I can dig up for you.” He asked me where I was staying – a motel down the road, which he passed every day on the way to the office. It was only when I left his office that I reviewed what he’d said; “I’ll see what I can dig up for you.” Not just “I’ll see what’s available”, but “for you”. Those were the two key words.’

‘I hightailed it back to the motel and briefed the front desk guy. “Sometime, I don’t know when, I am expecting a visitor or a phone call. I won’t be leaving my room until then”. I arranged for room service for all meals – not exactly a feature of the house. And I waited.’

‘On the fourth day, the longest four of my life, the phone rang. It was Passino himself: “Have you got enough money to get to Spartansburg (Bud Moore’s workshop)?” I said, “Only just”. He said, “There’s a car waiting for you”.

‘There was no mention of payment, but I figured that was to come. For the 1969 Trans-Am series Ford was having a big go. Through Kar Kraft they had built seven incredibly special Ford Mustangs, the Boss 302s. Three each were to go to Ford’s two works teams – Carroll Shelby and Bud Moore. The seventh would go to Smokey Yunick’s NASCAR team. Their value was incalculable.’

‘I had no expectation even of touching those cars. My goal had been to see if I could buy, at the cheapest possible price, one of the now-redundant 1968 cars. I was at Bud Moore’s workshop the next day and he wouldn’t look me in the eye. I thought, Who are you to be upset? I’ve come to buy used stock. He walked me into the workshop and there, sitting abreast, were three new Trans-Am Boss 302s, each still in their grey undercoats.’

“The middle one is yours,” he said.’

‘Jacque Passino had done what probably nobody else in Ford could do, with the possible exception of Henry II. With one word, he’s made one of the magnificent seven mine. At no cost. No cost at all. I didn’t know why then and I don’t know why now. There are theories. Ford Australia was a favoured outpost of Dearborn. Maybe a favour was being offered way beyond me. Maybe, simply, it’s because I asked and someone liked me.’

Moffat’s car as he first saw it at Bud Moore’s Spartanburg workshop in South Carolina late 1968. The thing that is not clear, despite plenty of research and I suspect differs, is the degree of completion of each of the Trans-Ams at Kar-Kraft before handover to the race teams (AMC)

 

Moffat taking some lucky punters- members of the press no doubt for a whirl of Sandown, probably on the Thursday prior to the May 1969 Southern 60. Note the Fairmont Wagon alongside, a good family bus of the time (AMC)

 

Moffat’s primary job when he returned to Australia with the Mustang was as Ford’s #1 driver of Series Production (Bathurst) cars- here he is during the 1972 Phillip Island 400km aboard an XY Ford Falcon GTHO Ph 3- he won from Brock’s XU1 and Gibson’s HO. In the background is one of the two works Datsun 1200’s of Evans or Roxburgh/Leighton (I Smith)

‘When I returned to Australia that year I was immediately drafted into Ford’s series production touring car team and became Number One. So perhaps there was a grand plan in which the Mustang was the best incentive ever. I don’t think I’ll ever know. A lot was happening in Australian motor racing.’

‘For the first time the Australian champion would be decided in a series of five rounds. Two rounds of the championship would have already been held by the time of my return, one won by Pete Geoghegan and the other by Bob Jane, both in Mustangs. Even if I won the last three races, if Pete came second, he would still take the title on accumulated points. The second major change in motor racing was the emergence of sponsorship on cars. The Mustang may have been free but I needed money, lots of it, to run it and this was the opportunity to provide a big-name sponsor with exposure in a brand-new medium. Coca-Cola was interested. My proposal had gone to Victoria and landed on the desk of its visionary marketing manager, David Maxwell. My Coke backing was, in the context of the company’s other involvements, a pretty cheap sponsorship. I had two reasons to be grateful to him. The other was Pauline Dean’- who was to become Allan’s first wife.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves, whilst the specifications of Moff’s iconic car can almost be cited by Australian enthusiasts- even open-wheeler nutters like me verbatim, some of you may not be quite so familiar with these seven, in particular six special racing cars…

Lets not forget before we embark on these 1969 Trans-Am cars that the 1968-1970 Mustang chassis were similar enough that suspension components, chassis strengthening, engine packaging, fuel, cooling and exhaust system learnings of the previous two years were carried over into 1969.

These included but were not limited to heavy duty front axles (spindles), the floating rear axle, brakes and Watts linkage- the 1969 car was not ‘clean sheet’, the 1968 program generated useful aerodynamic information and late in the year more reliable engines, but even with the upgrades the 1969 Mustangs were still working to improve brakes, low RPM response, tyres and weight- by 1970 the machine’s shortcomings were resolved and the Trans-Am championship went to Mustang.

Prototype K-K 302 Trans-Am towards completion- the hood scoop didn’t make it onto the race or road variants, date unknown (F Hernanadez)

 

Stunning image of ‘the recently completed 1969 Kar Kraft prototype’ VIN unknown, this batch of photos were in an envelope Fran dated 14 December 1969. It’s a racing car but note the standard of finish- panel fit for example. Blue cars suggests its destined for Shelby. Wheels are American Racing ‘Torq Thrust’. Stunning motorcar (F Hernandez)

At the commencement of the Boss 302 race program, K-K built two prototype Trans-Ams for evaluation by the Shelby Racing and Bud Moore Engineering race teams. In mid August 1968, shortly after commencement of 1969 Mustang production, and with race homologation in place, an internal factory order was placed for two ’69 428 Cobra Jet fastbacks, less paint, sealant or sound deadener. The cars were delivered to the K-K’ workshop Haggerty Street ‘shop, from Ford’s River Rouge Complex and then completely stripped and rebuilt to Trans-Am race specifications under the supervision of K-K chief designer/engineer Lee Dykstra.

After completion, with conversion taking three weeks, one of the cars was given to Bud Moore whilst the other was retained by K-K.

Initial testing of the first prototype was carried out by K-K at Michigan International, after that the car was sent to Engine Engineering at the Dearborn Proving Grounds. That group used it to develop a fix for an oil starvation problem in the front-sump oil pan- a K-K design ended up as the oil pan of choice. Ford engineers, working closely with the Shelby and Moore race teams used these prototypes to conduct intensive race track engine evaluation (see engine specs) and chassis development work over several months.

During the engine selection tests at Riverside in late 1968 the engineers, technicians and drivers also worked on spoilers, ride height, springs, roll bars and other suspension components. A Shelby fabricated adjustable rear spoiler allowed the group to assess downforce/drag trade-offs- a front air dam assisted in getting the front to rear balance right.

The Trans-Am did find its way into the wind tunnel but not until July 7 to 18th 1969 when Lee Dyksta and Mitch Marchi tested a 3/8 scale model of the car in the University of Maryland tunnel- full scale tests were subsequently done in the Martin-Marietta wind tunnel in Marietta, Georgia.

When the specification for the racers was finalised, another internal order was placed at Ford’s Dearborn plant in December ’68 for seven more ’69 Mustang fastbacks to be assembled minus paint, seam sealer and sound deadener for Trans-Am race duties. Unlike the two KK-built prototypes which started out as R-code big block Cobra Jets, the seven new cars were no frills M-code (carrying sequential VIN numbers from 9F02M148623 to 9F02M148629) 351 V8s with four speed transmissions. Allan Moffat’s Trans-Am started as one of the cars in this special batch, carrying VIN No. 9F02M148624.

K-K picked the cars up at The Rouge and drove them the 5km to Haggerty Street.

After stripping, building and preparing the cars for racing the technicians installed the production parts removed from the cars earlier in the process, in essence each car was its own parts bin. One car was retained by Kar-Kraft, three were shipped to Shelby Racing Company and three to Bud Moore Engineering – Moffat’s car was one of the Bud Moore cars as related above. The sole fastback kept by K-K was a unique hand-built racer finished in a black with gold stripe paint scheme, for tuning legend Smokey Yunick to run in NASCAR’s ‘Baby Grand’ stock car series. The other six cars were built to Trans-Am specifications by the two race teams based on Kar-Kraft’s chassis design blueprints.

During a span of two years 15-18 cars came off the K-K surface plate, Charlie Henry wrote.

Alex Gabbard interviewed Fran Hernandez in the late eighties about the Mustang program, Fran recalled ‘I was officed at Kar-Kraft and running the program when we were doing all that (Trans-Am) racing. I had Bud Moore, Carroll Shelby and Bill Stroppe doing some racing for me, and also the independents. Ed Hull was the principal designer behind all my work as well as the design work behind the Mark 4 Ford that we ran at Le Mans (which won the race in 1967)’

‘Ed was a very prominent person overall in our racing program, body and chassis. He assisted me in designing my suspension system for the Trans-Am cars. Had we (Ford) stayed with racing in 1970, as progressive as we were, and well ahead of everybody else, 1970 would have been more of a “no-contest” than it was because we actually built no more chassis in 1970. ’69’s were the last cars we used. We were out of the picture. 1969 was our last big effort in racing. 1970 was when Ford got out of racing completely, the Le Mans effort shut-down, the Kar-Kraft effort went away, and our racing was gone.’

 

(AMC)

Chassis

FoMoCo were not going to be out homologated in 1969 as they had been in 1968 by Penske/General Motors.

The specialised design and fabrication which went into the six racers amounted to a very liberal interpretation of the Trans-Am regs- made possible by the ambiguous wording of the SCCA rule book, allowed Trans-Am race engineers a lot of creative freedom.

The first step in Kar Kraft’s chassis preparation was minimising weight.

Minimum weight of the 5 litre Group 2 cars in 1969 was 2900 lbs (1315 kgs). The aim was to build the cars as light as possible- and then bring them up to the minimum weight limit by positioning lead or steel ballast down low at chosen chassis points to move the car’s standard 55.9% front to 44.1% rear weight distribution nearer a 50/50 split.

The battery was moved from the engine bay to the boot, the engine was lowered discretely by around 50mm and moved back as far as the firewall would allow- this had the effect of lowering the car’s centre of gravity. The fuel tank was made out of two flanged halves (ie upper and lower shells) but a Boss 302 racer featured a much deeper bottom section than standard to drop the fuel load as close as possible to the road. This idea was replicated in the Bathurst ‘drop tanks’ used on the Holden Torana L34 and A9X racers of the mid 1970s.

The Mustang bodyshells were built without any weather sealing or sound deadening. K-K then removed any brackets not required for competition and either drilled holes in any remaining component or re-made it in aluminium right down to the internal window winding mechanisms which even had shorter crank handles to save weight.

Acid dipping was strictly outlawed but the practice was widespread in Trans-Am. It involved ‘drowning’ a metal component in an acid bath for a period of time to eat away a small amount of excess metal. Too much time in the acid vat left some components dangerously weak, hence the SCCA ban. It is not clear how much, if any, acid dipping the ’69 racers were subjected to. ‘Dipped’ or not, the fat farm program for the Boss 302 racers was effective and included significantly thinner window glass and bolt-on panels (bonnets, boot lids, door skins, guards etc) stamped from thin gauge sheet metal.

Technicians doing Trans-Am chassis structure work in the Kar-Kraft Merriman facility (F Hernandez)

 

Early’ish shot of Moffat’s car, probably Surfers Paradise in 1969, wearing Minilites by this stage- note in particular the guard flares as per text (unattributed)

Lessons learned from sedans at 200mph on NASCAR super speedways and Kar-Kraft’s own GT40 program made clear the performance gains to be made from good air penetration. This was prevalent in sedans with wedge-shaped silhouettes, Kar Kraft took things a step further by trimming 25mm from the height of the radiator support panel- the engine bay inner guards were then tapered down from the firewall on each side to match, this substantially lowered the front aerodynamic profile of a Boss 302 racer.

Hammer and dolly work created a flare for front guard to tyre clearance- technicians just pulled out, rolled over and flattened the inner lip of the guards. The inner halves of the rear wheel housings were also discretely moved inboard about 75mm on each side to provide adequate clearance for the 12-inch wide Goodyears- minimal flaring of the external wheel arch lips was permitted, this was achieved with the use a stamped metal panel, shaped as a flare which was fitted after cutting out a section of the rear guard- the stamped flare panel replaced the original metal.

To maximise torsional rigidity the shell was seam-welded and two sturdy braces were connected to the front suspension towers- one spanned across the engine bay between the two towers (which Moffat didn’t use) and another braced the towers rigidly to the firewall. The base of the towers used the substantial reinforcing plates fitted to the road going Boss 302.

Inside the cabin was a welded tubular steel roll cage ‘which blessed the Trans-Am Mustangs with the strength of armoured tanks’. Although the K-K cage designs of the Shelby and Moore teams differed in detail, they were fundamentally similar in that they extended beyond the cabin front and rear to integrate each suspension mounting point into the overall cage structure. This lack of chassis flex ensured accurate and consistent suspension tuning for optimal performance.

Rear suspension of Moffat car in recent times, note the oil coolers, Koni shock and roll bar beside the leaf spring on the right and the lower ‘Rose jointed’ lower end between the tyre and spring AMC)

 

Watts linkage and cooler (AMC)

 

(AMC)

Suspension

The front suspension subframe was notched about 20mm on each side where it bolted to the chassis, this had the effect of raising the sub-frame further into the car permitting a lower static front ride height. This left only 25mm of belly clearance above the road and was another gain in lowering the centre of gravity. It also explains why (in combination with the tapered front sheetmetal) a standard 1969 Mustang looks so high at the front compared to Moffat’s Trans-Am version!

Front suspension was based on the architecture of the road car but was considerably beefed up. Forged steel stub axles on thick cast uprights were mounted between strengthened upper and lower swinging arms, with revised pick-up points for geometry best suited to the lower ride height and the camber change characteristics of racing rubber. Adjustable rose joints and solid metal bushings featured with stiffer coil springs, adjustable Koni shocks, an adjustable anti-roll bar and a quick-ratio 16:1 steering box.

Rear suspension rules required the road car’s live axle/leaf spring arrangement be retained. As a result, Kar-Kraft’s superb ‘full floater’ nine-inch rear axle assembly (ie a full floater design ensured a broken axle would not result in a wheel parting company at speed) was located by race-tuned leaf springs and a pair of traction bars sitting directly above the springs and parallel to the road. These eliminated spring wind-up/axle tramp under hard acceleration and also served as rigid trailing arms for positive fore and aft axle location.

Lateral control of the rear axle assembly was assured by K-K’s beautifully fabricated panhard rod. Like the front end, the rear suspension was equipped with adjustable Koni shocks and an anti-roll bar. The static rear suspension ride height was around 90mm which, when matched to the 25mm front ride height explains why Kar Kraft’s Boss 302 racers looked like they were literally being pulled down onto the track surface by magnetic force!

The net result was a superbly balanced and responsive chassis.

 

Ford received so many enquires about modifications to Mustangs to Trans-Am spec they took the step of commissioning this booklet from K-K and offered it via the dealer network for $2 per copy- Google away, it’s online. Many of the goodies to modify the cars could be bought from dealers

Brakes, Wheels and tyres

Manufacturers were allowed to upgrade the braking system provided the components were sourced from the parent company or its divisions. The Kar-Kraft engineers used the same brake package as deployed in 1968. Ford Lincoln luxury, huge 11.96-inch diameter ventilated rotors and four-spot Kelsey-Hayes calipers. The road car’s rear drums were removed and upgraded with the standard road car’s 11.3-inch front disc brakes. External adjustment of front to rear brake bias was via a proportioning unit mounted under the floor adjacent to the rear axle.

The combination of Lincoln front brakes and Ford rears resulted in different wheel stud patterns front and rear- under Australian racing rules all four wheels had to be interchangeable, Moffat therefore had to re-drill his wheel centres so that they could be bolted to either end.

Trans-Am rules specified a maximum wheel width of eight inches, the Boss 302 racers rolled on a set of lightweight magnesium wheels, either the ‘American Racing’ rims on which Moffat’s car was delivered, later UK-built ‘Minilites’ he used and later again South Australian made ROH wheels. Tyres were 5.00 x 11.30 front and 6.00 x 12.30 rear.

Moffat’s car was delivered with a tunnel port 302- later Allan had two dry deck Boss 302’s- this is one, both engines exist and are with the car. Moffat used 7500rpm, 485bhp quoted with the Weber setup used in Oz (AMC)

Engine

The Boss 302 Mustang big breathing, high revving 5.0 litre small block V8 was one of the toughest small block pushrod production V8 ever to come out of Detroit.

It evolved from the failure of the Tunnel Port 302 in 1968, in any event Ford never proved to the SCCA that it had produced the 1000 engines required for homologation so the temptation to make the thing (Tunnel port) work still had a legislative wrinkle or two to sort.

Ford’s Engine and Foundry engineers were faced with the challenge of cost effectively using existing ‘regular production’ engine components to meet the homologation challenge. After plenty of testing it was discovered that the cylinder heads from the new ‘Cleveland’ 351ci (5.8 litre) small block V8- to become such an important part of Australian motor racing- featured the same bolt pattern and bore spacing as the four-bolt main ‘Windsor’ cylinder block on the Tunnel Port 302, the mass-produced Cleveland heads were well suited to high performance applications and in many ways were superior to the Tunnel Port heads.

They featured a canted valve design (ie inlet and exhaust valves inclined towards the combustion chamber from opposite directions) which ensured unimpeded gas flow due to an excellent configuration of the inlet/exhaust porting. The huge 2.23-inch intake and 1.71-inch exhaust valves- larger than the exotic Tunnel Port, and semi-hemispherical combustion chambers further evidenced the Cleveland’s competition breeding. Some of the water jacket passages needed to be slightly modified to suit, but the 351 Cleveland heads/302 Windsor block combination became the basis of a Trans-Am winner.

In late 1968 the engine was track tested at Riverside against two others under consideration (as we have already covered)- the unloved Tunnel Port 302 and the more exotic Gurney-Weslake headed 302 which prevailed at Le Mans in 1968 and 1969 in the JW GT40’s. Although the Gurney-Weslake motor, with its all-alloy casting and integral inlet manifold proved the fastest of the three- followed by the Boss and the Tunnel Port, the Boss version was chosen given its use of existing production componentry and therefore the ease and cost of producing it.

The Boss 302 was produced in road and full race specifications- 110 special race versions were cast featuring four-bolt bottom ends, ‘dry-deck’ head sealing (ie crushable o-rings that seated in grooves at the top of each cylinder bore as opposed to conventional head gaskets) and a different oil system design to suit the Cleveland heads. These were equipped with lightweight valves, stronger valve springs, screw-in rocker studs, steel guide plates for the solid lifter pushrods, 1.73:1 aluminium roller rockers and improved top end oiling.

The induction system comprised two 1050cfm (or 1235cfm) Holley Dominator four-barrel carburettors mounted on a short runner, single plane alloy inlet manifold. A special offset distributor was needed to clear the front carb, they were fed cool, dense air via a fully enclosed airbox connected to twin inlet pipes mounted behind the grille. The Boss 302 roadie was fitted with a single 780cfm Holley.

A variety of induction systems were trialled during the Boss race engine’s development, including four twin-choke downdraught 48mm IDA Weber carburettors which proved very successful on Moffat’s car- those carbs were enlarged to 51mm chokes.

The crankshaft was made of forged steel, was cross-drilled with an anti-frothing windage tray, high volume oil pump with triple pick-ups and a big capacity baffled sump to combat oil surge. Connecting rods had much meatier big end supports were attached to 12:1 forged alloy pistons (road versions used 10.5:1 compression ratio).

Large diameter, equal length tubular steel exhaust headers dumped the spent gases through huge side pipes, a large capacity aluminium radiator and oil cooler were used.

In 1969, Ford claimed 470bhp (350kW) by mid season and it was good for 8000rpm in short bursts, drivers complained that the Boss 302 had the Tunnel Port’s lack of low and mid-range torque but it also had formidable top-end punch.

Ford’s official power ratings for the factory rev-limited Boss 302 road car were a modest 290bhp (216kW) @ 5800rpm. These quoted figures were aimed at keeping the insurance companies happy, in reality a street Boss was good for circa 350bhp (260kW) with the 6150rpm factory rev limiter disconnected.

Transmission and drivetrain

Two variants of the Ford Top Loader four speed gearbox were available in the road car- a wide-ratio version (2.78 1st gear) was standard and a close-ratio (2.32 1st gear) unit was optional. Top Loaders with a variety of ratios were available for the racers.

Boss Mustangs were equipped with a nodular iron cased nine-inch differential assembly and indestructible 31-spline axle shafts, the standard rear axle ratio was 3.50:1 with optional 3.91 and super short 4.30 gear sets to choice. A remote oil cooler and Traction-Lok limited-slip diff were factory options. The racers were fitted with a pair of diff oil coolers located under the car in front of the rear axle.

Cockpit

For Trans-Am duty, all the standard carpet, seating and interior trim were removed except the dash-pad which had a purpose-built instrument panel. A deeply dished sports steering wheel, competition seat with a padded head rest attached to the roll cage and a multi-point harness were used.

There was also an auxilliary switch box on the tunnel and an on-board fire extinguisher system. The rear edge of the driver’s door was secured internally by additional bonnet pin-style clips top and bottom, to ensure the door would not spring open due to impact damage in the heat of battle.

The interior of Moffat’s car after restoration- very much as it left Bud Moore’s (AMC)

‘I entered the 1969 Southern 60 at Sandown and booked passage for myself and the Mustang on a part-passenger, part-cargo aircraft out of New York. The drama started in the air. I’d hopped a plane to make it to JFK International to supervise the loading of the car but we got stuck in a massive mid-air holding pattern. We advanced to fourth landing slot when the pilot came on and said we were low on fuel, and had no option but to divert to Washington.’

‘I arrived in New York late that night to be told the Mustang had already been loaded and would I please take my own seat. I finally persuaded a steward to peep in the hold. He did and reported that there was a big grey car back there that looked like it was going faster than the plane.’

(AMC)

 

Moffat and crew at ‘711’, Mustang early days (AMC)

In Australia..

‘The Trans-Am was delivered to a holding yard and my only way of moving it to the earthern-floor workshop at 711 Malvern Road in a timely fashion was by towing it. I hitched a rope to the front of the world’s most valuable race car and flat towed it behind my Econoline van.

At ‘711’ we examined this beautiful gift for the first time. It was not a Mustang at all. For a start it had been made lightweight by a process of elimination that had stood the test of time throughout race-car development. Fuel tanks were dropped lower and the engine was discretely sunk in its bay to provide a better centre of gravity and even better handling.

We didn’t start the car in the workshop. We’d save that for Sandown.

Peter Thorn painted the Mustang red. Most people assumed it was Coca-Cola’s corporate colours but we weren’t that sophisticated and neither were they. We thought the car looked so good we wanted to paint it Ferrari red.

We arrived at Sandown and our first hit out and the car wouldn’t go. It started with a magnificent crackle and I drove out of the pits, heading for the back straight, when it stuttered and stalled. Back in the pits we went over everything. The electric fuel pump was not getting fuel through to the engine.

That’s when I chased the line all the way from the front to the rear and found under my driver’s seat a surplus of rubber fuel tube tied tightly in a knot. We undid it and shortened it. Fuel flowed and we were away.’

Moffat crew sort the fuel feed problem during those first laps at Sandown- note the TV crew and proximity of the houses. We are on the old pit straight just past the pitlane exit/paddock entry. Moff has his back to us and Peters Corner (AMC)

 

Problem sorted- off we go, no mirror @ this stage, note Coke sponsorship from day 1 (AMC)

‘To say the car created immense interest was an understatement. A guy from Ford arrived and placed a huge blue Ford decal on the car. I politely removed it and replaced it with a discrete white one that I’d brought from the States. A person from Ampol put a sticker on and I left it there because I assumed money or kind would follow. It didn’t.’

‘At its first race meeting, the Mustang won three races out of three. It was going to be something to write home about’, Moffat won the Southern 60 from Terry Allan’s Chev Camaro, Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina Mk2 and Peter Manton, Morris Cooper S. ‘Mallala, my first round of the ATCC, was a disaster and it was a forebear of the season. The new engine flown in from the States put me on the front row of the grid alongside Jane and Geoghegan. But two laps later it blew when I was challenging Jane for second. When we pulled the engine down we found it to be bog standard. I’d not been sent a racing engine but a completely stock unit’ Moffat related to Smailes.

Sex on wheels- too good to race! In the Sandown paddock on that first May 1969 weekend (AMC)

 

Moffat opens the 302’s taps through the kink on Sandown’s back straight looking quite bucolic. Pete Geoghegan at right alongside Terry Allan’s Camaro and Jim McKeown’s Mk2 Lotus Cortina back a bit (unattributed)

‘There’s one word to describe the Mustang’s first season and that’s ‘harrowing’. Seasons two, three and four were better but the Mustang never did win the ATCC, and that’s a cause of immense disappointment to me. In 1969 it never even got on the board, never even scored a point. It even suffered humiliating DNFs and DNS (did not start) in some of the non-championship races. From 1970 to 1972 it cemented its position as one of the most successful and admired cars in the country.’ Checkout this piece on the 1969 ATCC; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

‘In the 23 ATCC races it contested until its forced retirement at the end of the 1972 season, it won 10, finished on the podium another four times, claimed 14 pole positions and set four lap records. It figured in some of the most controversial incidents in the championship, starred in front of the biggest crowd ever at Oran Park and played a lead role in the touring car battle regarded as the best of all times. (Bathurst ATCC round Easter 1972) Yes in the annual title fight, the best it could manage was a second and a third.’

In the US, despite a two team approach Ford was again beaten by Penske in 1969 despite the Mustangs being the quickest cars in the early rounds- they took the first four races. Some of the 302 Trans-Ams were destroyed during the year which dissipated what had been a good start. Ford was said to have cut its Trans-Am budget by as much as 75% in 1970 but Bud Moore’s two car entry of mildly updated 1969 cars finally did the trick- before Ford pulled the pin altogether.

 

Geoghegan from Moffat, Sandown, May 1969- in front but not the way they finished (R Davies)

As I wrote at the outset, this article is about a small period of a long and vastly successful career.

Allan is an icon, a guy we all saw occasionally until quite recently at the circuits keeping an eye on his sons racing career.

He lived close by- it always amused me and warmed my heart to occasionally see him pushing a shopping trolley affectionately around Woolies in Toorak Village behind wife number two, Susan!

In the last couple of years Moff’s battle with Altzheimers Disease and family squabbles over the loot has been made public which is terribly sad, and common though it is, its not the way a lion of the circuits somehow deserves to see out his days.

In that sense John Smailes’ book ‘Climbing The Mountain’, an autobiography he wrote together with Allan ended up being incredibly timely, first published as it in September 2017. He has managed to package up an incredibly interesting and beautifully written story which would simply be impossible now. Do buy it, I bought it in the last week to check some facts and can see how great swags of it have been lifted from it in the sources I found.

Special Vehicles Activity, Advanced Concepts Engineering Activity, Kar-Kraft…

The material below should be the subject of an article on its own titled something like ‘Ford Total Performance: Motor Racing’- a mammoth topic.

For the moment included are some undated Ford Motor Company documents which provide immensely valuable snippets of information about how the FoMoCo organised its ‘Advanced Concepts Engineering’ from a corporate structural perspective.

Whilst the document is undated the models of cars referred to puts it into the early seventies. Clearly the material is internally focussed- it’s the sort of document one puts together at budget and business plan submission time or when seeking to get a company to invest funds in a new activity or direction.

All of the material in this part of the article is from the Fran Hernandez Archive, now deceased, given his senior positions within Ford, the foregoing may well be correct or ‘thereabouts’.

(F Hernandez)

Great shot of Fran and Thunderbird outside Edelbrock- he was Vic Edelbrock’s Machine Shop Foreman circa 1955.

 

Interesting also is this corporate structure document below as it relates to entities which orbit around Kar-Kraft- more interesting would be the overall Ford organisational structure and the way ‘Special Vehicles Activity’ fitted in. If you can enlighten me please do so.

All of these entities were on Ford’s Rouge Complex with Kar-Kraft close by- all of which makes eminent sense for all the obvious reasons. K-K were still in business as late as 1984 when Jack Mountain owned it according to Doug McLean, ‘at that time the workshop was busy with projects for Renault-Elf, AMC, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth. Chevy, Chrysler and…Ford.’

 

 

 

In the Ford heyday the K-K sites comprised the following; Haggerty, Dearborn 10,000 sq ft including the engineering department, component prototyping, engine build shop- Brighton, Michigan a complete automotive assembly line of 65,000 sq ft spread over 11 acres- the Trans-Am 429s were built on this site. Glenmore, at Glenmore Street and Grand River was (and the plant still is) in Redford, comprised 18,000 sq ft, its focus was the construction and modification of special test and show vehicles. Merriman in Glendale, Livonia was a new factory of 24,000 sq ft housing the vehicle engineering department, it too still exists. Tireman was an engine build and engine engineering facility- this older plant at 8020 Tireman Street, Detroit is still extant also.

 

The Ford ‘Experimental and Sports Prototype Vehicles’ family tree as at 1967, possibly a part of the earlier document but  perhaps not given the difference in end-dates.

Etcetera…

(AMC)

Moffat- second from the right at the rear, Chapman, Clark, the rest of the boys and Lotus 38 Ford after the Indianapolis triumph of 1965.

(AMC)

Victory lap for Moffat, left, at Waterford Hills date uncertain.

(FoMoCo)

Mercury Cougar key team members gather around one of the cars in early 1967- Parnelli Jones, Fran Hernandez, Dan Gurney and Bud Moore.

Allan Moffat and fellow Aussie touring car star Jim McKeown at Daytona in early 1967- they ran a Lotus Cortina with ‘Jim’s most powerful twin-cam in the world’ fitted- the mechanic is Vince Woodfield (Allan Moffat)

Daytona 1968..

 

Sebring 1968..

It can’t be that bad, surely?

Moffat was a pro-racer at a time in Australia where he was competing against racer/businessmen to whom competition was a weekend sport whereas for Moffat it was his business and his demeanour always reflected that- he was easily cast in Australia as the foreign ‘baddie’ given his intense focus on the task at hand- success, to put ‘bread on the table’. He took Australian Citizenship in the early 2000’s.

(D Friedman)

The two Shelby cars in line astern, and below Horst Kwech looking as happy about things as Moffat looks displeased. He forged a great career in the US after cutting his racing teeth in Australia- he grew up in Cooma, in the foothills of the New South Wales alpine country.

The Moffat/Kwech car alongside the Thompson/DeLorenzo Chev Corvette DNF- what a marvellous mixed grid both Daytona and Sebring had that year even if the closing speed differences between some of the cars was most alarming. Still that aspect has never changed in all of these endurance classics.

 

 

(F Hernandez)

This image and the three below were taken by Fran Hernandez at the same time as the one posted earlier of the ‘302 Trans-Am prototype’ in December 1969

(F Hernandez)

 

(F Hernandez)

 

(F Hernandez)

 

Compare and contrast Boss 302 race and road 5 litre V8s

 

(AMC)

Moffat on the move- Sandown ‘Southern 60’ weekend in May 1969. Many enthusiasts will remember this novel shaped red and white coloured ‘Coke Tent’, he was certainly still using it when I went to my first race meeting- the 1972 Sandown Tasman meeting.

(T Marshall)

At the end of its ‘in period’ life the Trans-Am raced as a sports-sedan but to Moffat’s credit he never butchered the car by relocating the engine/transmission or making changes to its suspension or body structure to give it greater pace – here he and Jim Richards are whistling around Wigram at about 140mph circa 1974- this is a good angle as the ‘Brut 33’ signage cannot be seen, be thankful you cannot smell that pong which I have always likened to ‘Eau de Pine-O-Kleen’ either…

Bibliography…

Milan Fistonic summary of AM career on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, shelbytransam.com, ‘The Making of a Legend’ David Hassall, Boss Registry summary of the 302 Trans-Am technical specifications, ‘Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes & Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicles’, ‘Hot Rod’ magazine article ‘The Story Behind Ford’s Ill-Fated 1968 Tunnel Port 302’, ‘Fast Mustangs’ Alex Gabbard, ‘Allan Moffat: Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat and John Smailes, Auto-Action article ‘Allan Moffat- The Love of a Liftime’

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Allan Moffat Collection, Barry Nelson, Jerry Melton, sebringrace.com, Fran Hernandez Facebook page, Fran Hernandez Collection courtesy of ‘The Roaring Season’, Terry Marshall, Rob Bartholomaeus, Louis Galanos, Dave Friedman Archive

Tailpiece: Monza, Daytona 1975…

Let’s finish where we started- high on the Daytona banking.

Here Moffat is ahead of one of the BMW CSL’s during the final IMSA 1975 series round on 30 November, DNF after just 15 laps.

In late August that year he raced one of Horst Kwech and Lee Dykstra’s Dekon Engineering Monza’s for the first time, co-driving with Kwech in a 500 mile race at Mid-Ohio. Despite mechanical dramas causing a DNF Moff was impressed. He returned to the US in November, after the Sandown and Bathurst endures to run in the IMSA final round using the same chassis he raced at Mid-Ohio- he qualified third but was outted again, this time with fuel injection dramas.

‘No result but it was an eye-opener, it was, Moffat noted of the long banked stretches, the fastest he had ever gone on a race track- the Monza topping out at a mammoth 329kmh!’

‘It was interesting to note how Moffat fared against top Americans, especially those in ostensibly identical DeKon Monzas. Against the likes of Al Holbert, Al Unser Snr and a host of other top American and European aces, and on a banked oval course of which he would have had not much experience, (that bit is not perhaps correct- he did have some experience as we have seen) Moffat looked right at home. When the injection issue halted the car, he had been comfortably ahead of the BMW 3.0 CSL’s and only had the winning Corvette ahead of him’ Auto Action wrote.

Satisfied, Moffat put down his money to acquire this car, chassis #1005, the fifth to roll out of Dekon’s, Libertyville, Illinois ‘shop. He was now the proud owner of a DeKon Monza, by then it was December so the Monza was flown to New Zealand for its first races in the southern hemisphere in Kiwi ‘sports-sedan’ racing that January/February of 1976. The Monza story is one for another time.

Finito…

 

 

 

(HAGP)

Stewart, Hill, Clark, yellow nosed black bodied Gardner, Palmer looking like Clark, Martin in red and Geoghegan white- BRM P261 by two, Lotus 39, yellow nose Brabham BT11A, Lotus 32B of Palmer, red Brabham BT11A of Martin (all but the BRM’s Coventry Climax FPF powered) and Leo’s white Lotus 32 Ford. AGP- the off 20 February 1966 and what a marvellous vista Lakeside is…

The front row of the grid pretty much summed up the 1966 Tasman Cup, the two BRM P261’s driven by Hill and Stewart, two of the finest racers of their time were the class of the field powered by 1.9 litre versions of the ‘P56’ V8’s which won so many races during the 1961-1965 1.5 litre F1, they were quickest cars on the circuit throughout the weekend right from the first session on Friday having recorded laps of 55.5 and 55.8 for the Brit and Scot repectively.

Much of the pre-race press interest centred on the strong BRM presence which included three chassis ‘Graham Hill driving the same car with which he won the 1965 Monaco and US Grand Prix’ and a team of three mechanics, Rivers Fletcher doing public relations all led by Team Manager Tim Parnell- lets come back to BRM’s Australasian representation in a little bit.

Lakeside razzmatazz included girls dressed in chequered flag bikinis, a bagpipes group and a brass band in addition to the on-circuit attractions which included international drivers Clark, Hill, Stewart and Gardner.

David Harding, secretary of the Queensland Motor Sporting Club, quoted the total value of the cars at $A300,000…

Stewart had a huge points lead going into the Lakeside meeting with much expected of Clark after his first win of the series at Warwick Farm the week before.

In New Zealand Graham Hill showed BRM’s form early, winning the opening round, the NZ Grand Prix at Pukekohe on 8 January by 1.5 seconds from Stewart, in P261 ‘2616’ before returning home to the UK to continue tyre and other testing duties. He travelled back south arriving at Mascot for the first of the Australian races, the ‘Warwick Farm 100’, on 13 February.

Richard Attwood won at Levin the following weekend after Stewart had gearbox selector problems having completed 9 laps- Jim Clark was second and Spencer Martin third, Jackie Stewart continued the Bourne boys great form and won the Lady Wigram Trophy at the Wigram RNZAF base the following weekend of 22 January.

Stewart completed a clean sweep of the first four races for the P261 before crossing ‘The Ditch’- the Tasman Sea for Australia- Jackie won the Teretonga International from Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer- the latter had a great season of speed and reliability in the Lotus 32B chassis aboard which Clark took the Tasman Cup twelve months before.

Teretonga wasn’t such a great race for Dick Attwood, as his car ‘2617’, was tagged from behind in the first corner ‘The Loop’ into soft earth whereupon the it rolled trapping the hapless Brit underneath- Spencer Martin and local driver Ian Dawson, also involved in the melee, jumped from their Brabhams and helped marshalls right the car and release the driver.

In fact a ‘switcheroo’ in the cars of Jackie and Richard took place at Wigram. Attwood had his ‘2614’ going like a missile in practice thanks to some judicious testing of bars, tyre pressures and ride-heights with Alan Challis, at which point, Jackie, getting the hang of this Number One Driver caper in Hill’s absence said ‘I’ll have a crack in that’- and so he did winning The Lady Wigram Trophy’ in ‘2614’ the following day.

He kept the same car at Teretonga so the machine, the front bulkhead of which was badly bent, was off for a rebuild to Bourne. It was the car Jackie had raced throughout the 1965 F1 season- ‘2617’ the strength of which would save his life at Spa in mid-1966. We will come back to the individual chassis’ later in the article.

Whilst the drivers flew to Sydney on the Monday after Teretonga Tim Parnell supervised the shipping of ‘2614’ and ‘2616’ to Sydney whilst ‘2617’ headed back to Liverpool, and thence Bourne into the tender hands of the boys in the build shop.

Gardner at left, Attwood, Stewart- Brabham BT11A and two BRM P261s- the off at Wigram 1966. Stewart won from Attwood and Jim Palmer with Frank a DNF after an accident on lap 4 when his brakes failed and he cannoned into Jim Clark, taking them both out of the race (Wigram)

 

Under the Tote building, Pukekohe. JYS’ P261 chassis ‘2617’, in all of its elegant glory, 1966. Which of the BRM mechanics is it folks? The car is fitted with a P56 type 1930cc engine- inlets between the Vee and exhausts exiting thru the ‘letterbox’ orifice in the side of the monocoque, in BRM speak. Note the colour of the car, red nose band, big BRM badge and air relief ducts atop the nose and tail section leaning up against the wall (CAN)

At Warwick Farm Jim ran away and won by 21 seconds from Hill, Gardner, Stewart, Martin and Palmer, click here for a piece on that meeting; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/03/1966-warwick-farm-100/

Clark had carburetion problems with his 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine throughout the Lakeside weekend but still managed to pop the car onto row two of practice on the two by two car grid together with Frank Gardner’s similarly powered Brabham BT11A. The Lotus 39 was another mighty car from the Lotus 25/33 continuum but the good ole FPF was struggling a bit from 1966 given the entry into Tasman racing of the BRM and Repco V8’s.

Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce BT11A, and Leo Geoghegan going like a jet in his Lotus 32 was the first of the ANF1.5 twin-cams, a mighty impressive performance on this power-fast-100mph lap average circuit.

Jim Palmer and Greg Cusack shared the next row and the rest- Bartlett, McDonald, Harvey, Andy Buchanan Denis Marwood, Mel McEwin and local boy Glynn Scott rounded out a small field after ‘CAMS cut the grid from 20 to 15 cars’ in the interests of safety.

Graham Hill alights his BRM whilst Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A Climax enters the paddock- Glynn Scott, Lotus 27 Ford twin-cam 1.5 approaches in the distance. This is the damp Saturday afternoon session (K Drage)

 

Clark in the very sweet Lotus 39 Climax on Saturday afternoon in the wet- exiting The Karussel (K Drage)

 

Lakeside 20 February 1966. Dunlop’s Vic Barlow at left, Hill suiting up and ‘Dobbin’ Challis beside Graham’s ‘2616’ whilst Jimmy Collins and Stan Collier look after Jackie’s ‘2614’ behind (BRM 3)

Sunday dawned cloudy and hot, the crowd got a magnificent days motor racing on this, the first occasion Lakeside held an AGP, for their four-dollar entry fee!

In addition to the feature race there were two 10 lap heats for the Tasman cars both won by BRM- Hill won the first from Gardner and Martin and Stewart took the second from the Clark and Geoghegan Lotuses.

Stewart and Hill settled into their front row grid slots and howled away from the off- Stewart, Hill, Clark and Gardner led the high speed train, then Martin, Palmer and Geoghegan.

Cusack got by Geoghegan on lap 5 with ‘Hill tied to Stewart as if by string’, Stewart set a scorching pace from the start, thrilling the crowd, despite this Hill was close behind and always within striking distance.

The race developed into three tough fights between Stewart and Hill up front, then Clark just ahead of Gardner and then a flying wedge of Palmer, Cusack and Geoghegan.

’The race pitch at this point had the crowd running from vantage point to vantage point, a rare thing in open-wheel competition, and to really set the seal on the excitement, the tail closed up and made a magnificent show as Marwood, Harvey, Buchanan, McDonald and Scott raced wheel to wheel’ Des White wrote in his HAGP race report.

Stewart’s gearbox cried enough on lap 28- it was this element of the BRM P261 which became its weak link at 1.9 litres and even much more so at the 2.1 litre capacity the Bourne team raced these cars in the 1967 and 1968 Tasmans.

’Stewart was very hard on gearboxes…Hill suffered persistent clutch slip in the last two races, but otherwise the BRM’s were very reliable. So they should have been too, with the massive Owen group effort which included a public relations man’ wrote Bill Tuckey. Bill is a bit hard on Jackie, the ‘box was the problem not JYS lack of mechanical sympathy.

Then Cusack clipped Palmer in the Eastern Loop when Jim braked a little early and Leo kissed Greg causing Cusack to spin and Geoghegan to re-enter the circuit 100 metres down the road- both retired with bent or busted suspension components shortly thereafter.

Frank Gardner in one of two Brabham BT11A’s Alec Mildren Racing raced that summer, Climax engined, the other was Maserati 2.5 V12 powered and ran in Warwick Farm and Sandown practice- pre-race hype promoted the Brabham Maserati at Lakeside but the car did not make the trip from Sydney (unattributed)

 

Jim Clark from Frank Gardner with Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A just back a bit- third, second and DNF clutch (autopics.com)

Frank Gardner was still pushing Jim Clark hard- he had a great summer in Mildren’s BT11A with better FPF reliability than some- but FG was mighty quick too, i’m not implying his results were solely due to reliability. Then Jim’s Climax took a turn for the worst- losing its edge further so Frank was through to second from Hill up front- Hill won at an average speed of 94.9mph from Gardner, Clark and Palmer.

Hill and Stewart both did equal fastest laps of 55.9 seconds- one second adrift of Clark’s 54.9 second lap record set in the Lotus 32B the year before. Kevin Bartlett’s Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT2 Ford was the first of the ANF1.5s home in another drive which convinced Mildren KB was ready for the step up into the more demanding 2.5s- something he did with great aplomb later in the year.

Clark’s carburetion problems persisted throughout the series and were solved by John Sheppard when the car passed into his care after Leo Geoghegan acquired it by the simple expedient of solid carburettor mounts.

Jackie fires up the now ‘Central exhaust’ P68 powered ‘2614’ before heading out of the Lakeside paddock. Jimmy Collins, Vic Barlow and Tim Parnell watched by a group of local enthusiasts (BRM 3)

 

(HAGP)

Graham Hill nose up at Lakeside in a car that was so kind to him- the BRM P261, a machine with which he was synonymous, not the BRM he used to win his 1962 World Title but one he raced from 1963 all the way into 1966 with the H16 BRM P83 duly recognised.

 

BRM and The Antipodes 1966…

The Owen Organisation had extensive business interests in Australasia (it would be interesting to create a list of the British transnational’s subsidiaries in this part of the world at the companies height) and had of course raced here before- Ken Wharton thrilled Kiwi crowds in a P15 V16 in 1954 at Ardmore and Wigram and Ron Flockhart did all of the NZ Internationals in a front-engined P25 in 1959 whereas the 1961 campaign was a full works representation of two P48 mid-engined 2.5 litre F1 cars- these were raced by Graham Hill and Dan Gurney and on this occasion the visitors came to Australia as well as New Zealand. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/18/ken-wharton-and-brms-grand-turismo-south-in-1954/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/16/bourne-to-ballarat-brm-p48-part-2/

The local promoters led by Ron Frost (NZ) and Geoff Sykes (Oz) had been doing their job in trying to seduce BRM back here and had a ‘red-hot go’ for 1965 given by that stage BRM had an 1880cc ‘P60’ version of their P56 V8, it was thought the P261 so powered would have been competitive with the 2.5 litre (mainly) Coventry Climax engined ‘Tasman Special’ Brabhams and Lotuses.

In essence Tasman races were 100 miles and had no minium weight limit whereas GP’s were 200 miles in duration and the cars had minimum weight limits so Ron Tauranac’s ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams, for example, were designed and built to the Tasman formula or rules. Tony Rudd, backed by Graham Hill, felt the P261 at 1880cc would not be a competitive Tasman Cup mount in that the cars would be too heavy and not powerful enough- underlying their opposition (in a document reproduced by Doug Nye in BRM 3) was the (correct) belief that the Tasman program would detract from their 1965 F1 program in the same way Sir Alfred Owen’s BRM-Rover turbine Le Mans racer grabbed scarce resources in 1963 and 1964- it too was foisted upon Rudd and ORO (Owen Racing Organisation) at short notice.

However, in late 1965 Sir Alfred was resolute, the broader commercial needs of the Owen Group (the establishment of an Austin-Morris production facility in NZ, with Owens to provide the necessary components) were met by having ORO’s presence in the 1966 Tasman Cup and as a consequence the team had to ‘make it work’ despite being up to their armpits in the new for 1966, immensely complex, BRM P83’s H16 engine.

Ron Flockhart, BRM P25 during the 10 January 1959 NZ GP on the Ardmore airfield circuit- DNF oil leak, the race won by Stirling Moss’ Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre (Ardmore)

 

Dan Gurney on the way to the BRM P48’s only International win, the Victorian Trophy at Ballarat Airfield, Victoria 12 February 1961 (unattributed)

Geoff Johnson and his engine design team squeezed the P56 V8 up again from 1880cc to 1916cc and then 1930cc- the latter became the definitive 1966 Tasman spec engine used throughout that summer.

These motors gave between 260 and 270 bhp, which despite the weight of the P261 chassis, was more than enough to trump the circa 240bhp ‘Tasman Specials’. These motors and P61 Mark 2 chassis ‘2616’ Graham’s regular 1965 F1 car first raced to a win by him upon its debut at Watkins Glen in 1964, Jackie in his normal ‘2517’, the last P61 built during the winter of 1964-5 for JYS debut season, and old ‘2614’, first raced by Graham in the 1964 Aintree 200 and used as the team spare throughout 1965 were sent to New Zealand on the SS Tasmania Star which left Liverpool on 29 November and arrived in Auckland on 23 December.

Of interest is that ‘2616’ lives as does ‘2614’ whereas ‘2617’ whilst destroyed and scrapped after Jackie’s death defying 1966 Spa crash was recreated for Richard Attwood as ‘2617R’ in the late nineties- a lovely bit of symmetry given Richard rolled it at Teretonga in 1966 when he was part of others ‘moment’. Finally, for the record, a total of one P61 Mk 1 was built, chassis ‘611’ and six P61 Mk 2’s- chassis ‘2612’ to ‘2617’. The P61 Mk1 ‘611’ was scrapped in 1963 but all of the P61 Mk2’s live, thank goodness.

Despite broken ring problems in testing at Bourne, with a very careful running regime when a motor was first used which involved abnormally large amounts of engine oil in the fuel- the motors proved very reliable throughout that summer- a bonus for Team Manager Tim Parnell and the mechanics- Allan Challis, Jimmy Collins and Stan Collier, the later seconded by Parnell.

One of the compromises made to meet the needs of preparation for the new 3 litre F1 as well as being competitive in Australasia was the appointment of Tim Parnell as Team Manager and secondment of Stan Collier into the ORO group for the trip rather than Tony Rudd and another BRM mechanic make the trip.

Son of Reg- Tim was a racer to the core who had stepped very ably from the cockpit to running his fathers F1 race team upon Reg’ sudden death in January 1964 and was well known to BRM as a customer using BRM V8’s and cars for some years.

And so the scene- cars, engines, drivers, technicians and team management were put in place for an immensely successful summer in competition and commercial terms- seven of eight championship rounds and nine of ten races won with the Tasman Cup secured by Jackie Stewart bolstering even further BRM’s ‘cub’ drivers confidence who had already won his first GP in his first F1 season of 1965 at Monza no less.

‘Technical Tim- plug changing on Graham’s ‘2616’. Very popular, avuncular Tim had spent his entire life in racing and farming- thanks to his father- former BRM V16 driver and pig-breeder Reg Parnell. Tim had been a racing driver before his father’s untimely death in 1964, whereupon he had taken over full-time management of Parnell Racing’ wrote Doug Nye (BRM 3)

 

(B Betti)

BRM V8 Engine Types/Designations…

I wrote an article about the ‘Stackpipe’ BRM P57/578 in which Bourne and Graham Hill won their 1962 titles and covers the P56 engine in a bit of detail which still stacks up ok, see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/05/motori-porno-stackpipe-brm-v8/

It is a bit wanting in terms of the ‘P56’ engine derivatives though, so, having picked over ‘BRM 3’ Doug Nye’s treasure trove of all things Bourne here is a summary of the motors if for no other reason than to provide myself a simple list to refer to the next time i tangentially cover this amazingly, long lived series of race engines.

‘P56’ 1.5 litre V8

Initial design as per the link above- 68.5mm bore and 50.8mm stroke for 1497.7cc. DOHC gear driven two-valve Lucas injected with ‘conventional’ cross flow disposition of inlet and exhaust valves

The engines first drawings of 300 in total were issued in January 1961, the first batch of components received in April 1961, assembly of the engine commenced that June with the first one fired up on 12 July 1961

170bhp was produced by the end of August with the engine first tested against the competition at Monza over that tragic September weekend. Racing began in 1962 with the ‘Stackpipe’ exhausts fitted- 185bhp

Ongoing development gave rise to the 195bhp ‘Monza’ spec which won the 1962 championship

For 1963 a single plane crank version was developed, this allowed the use of a coupled exhaust system which gave the engine a broader power band- with development this produced 205bhp

‘P60’ 1.9 litre V8 1964

1880cc engine developed at Richie Ginther’s suggestion for the 2 litre sportscar class in the US, in original form it produced 240bhp

P56 1.5 litre V8 ‘Stackpipe’ nestled in one of Graham Hill’s P57/578 chassis during 1962

 

P68 1.5 V8 in the 1964 Monza paddock

‘P68’ 1.5 litre V8 late 1964

Between the Vee exhaust layout- exhaust ports in the Vee, inlets located between the cam-boxes. The space around the engine was unobstructed by exhaust pipes which allowed a stiffer tub to be built and an extra 5 gallons of fuel to be carried

First appearance Monza 1964- first win at Watkins Glen- work over the winter of 1964-5 led to engines giving 215bhp

By the end of the 1.5 litre Formula the best of the engines gave 220bhp and weighed 264pounds

2 litre V8

1916cc and the ‘definitive’ 1966 Tasman engine of 1930cc in capacity

T56 variant gave 260bhp and T68 version 270bhp- both types were used in ORO’s successful 1966 Tasman campaign as close scrutiny of some of the photographs demonstrates

1998cc sportscar version for Matra in 1956 was P56 type with the taller P123 blocks. Fitted to MS620 coupes- these engines with alternators etc designated P100

One of the P261’s in the Warwick Farm paddock in February 1966- P68 1930cc (B Wells- The Roaring Season)

 

One of the BRM mechanics persuades the P56 2 litre V8 fitted to Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 33 to start during the 1966 US GP weekend at Watkins Glen. He was sixth in the race won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 43 BRM H16- famously that wonderful, complex, mad engine’s only win

P111: 2.1 litre V8

1967 Tasman and beyond specifications

Two engines built initially of 2070cc and gave 287bhp and 292bhp- used the taller P123 blocks

Six engines were converted by the time of the 1967 Tasman – 2 P56 type and 4 P68 exhaust within the Vee type. Engines very reliable, the weakness of the package was the magnesium cased lightweight  P72 six-speed gearboxes which were never designed with the power and torque- and tyre grip by then being produced

Type 80: 1.5 litre Straight-four cylinder Formula 2 engine

’Half’ of one of the 2 litre V8’s – soon gave in excess of 130bhp.

P80 1 litre, four cylinder F2 engine the size of which is ‘overwhelmed’ by the bulk of the P72 transmission

 

Etcetera…

 

(M Bisset)

JYS was ‘top of the pops’- on the cover of ‘Australian Racing Annual’ for 1966- these annuals are much treasured and were a useful pot-pourri of the season just gone, they were published by the ‘Sports Car World’ magazine people.

Shots show Stewart on the way to victory at Longford on the entry to The Viaduct, and wearing one of the many garlands popped around his neck that summer. The shot below is Jack in BT19 complete with brand-new Repco-Brabham 620 2.5 litre V8 also at Longford.

(autopics.com)

Graham Hill on the outside of Kiwi Dennis Marwood’s Cooper T66 Climax during the Sunday morning warm-up at Lakeside- DNF oil pressure in the feature race.

(unattributed)

Stewart and Clark off the front row of the grid during the second of the Sunday morning heats.

BRM P261 ‘2614’ and Lotus 39 Climax ‘R12’- they had some titanic dices during their Australasian summer but plenty of fun off-track and shared accommodation throughout, parsimonious Scots as they were.

(autopics.com)

Like a rat up an aqueduct- ‘2614’ from ‘2616’…

GH has his nose shoved right up JYS gearbox which is not helpful as that unit was the weakest link of an otherwise bullet-proof remarkably fast racing car into 1969 generally- and into 1968 specifically when the one P261 which was sent to Australasia- as a support or back-up car to the new P126 2.5 litre V12 was a very popular machine particularly with Pedro Rodriguez who took any excuse he could to pop his bum into the ‘old darlin’ rather than its much younger sister.

(D Cooper)

Pedro Rodriguez in good ‘ole ‘2614’ on the very last weekend a P261 was entered by the factory.

Rodriguez was second in the very soggy ‘South Pacific Trophy’ Longford Tasman round on 4 March 1968, won in fine style by Piers Courage in an F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA 1.6.

A view is that the only thing between Graham Hill and another world title or so at the time was Jim Clark and the Lotus 25 and Lotus 33- lets make that the only thing between Hill and another title or so was Jim Clark’s God-given other-worldly skills- the gifts that only one driver seems blessed with every decade or so.

The Lotus 25 deserves every accolade accorded it as the first ‘modern monocoque’- the car to which every F1 machine which followed is related. The BRM P61 Mk1 and P61 Mk2 aka ‘P261’ followed the ‘original’ but in almost every respect, other, perhaps than in traction, putting its limited power to the road the BRM was the equal of the 25 and 33- and the BRM ‘P56 Family’ of engines the equal of, if not superior motor however many valves Coventry Climax deployed in its FWMV V8! Tony Rudd, biased as he undoubtedly was, makes this case on pages 232 and 233 of ‘BRM 3’.

Whatever the case, feast your eyes on all of the mechanical gubbins which comprise the whole of a very well rounded package. The car shown is Graham’s F1 P261 during the Mexican GP weekend in 1964- its powered by a P68 1.5 litre V8.

The chassis is an aluminium ‘full monocoque’ made of 18swg ‘half-hard’ duralumin with extension horns supporting engine/gearbox and rear suspension assemblies . Note the period typical inboard front suspension- lower wishbone and rocker actuating a coil spring/damper unit, brakes are solid 9 inch discs outboard- these are light cars remember, brake lines are rubber, we are still a couple of years away from the use of braided steel lines in Europe.

Distinctive BRM steering wheel- who supplied them? Gear lever at left. The engine we have done to death but note the slide Lucas fuel injection, beautiful expressions of the exhaust pipe benders art- you can just see a heat shield beside the radiator cap to keep the hot gasses away from the fuel metering unit which is right behind the roll-over bar.

The rear suspension is again period typical and in contrast to the front is fully ‘outboard’- magnesium uprights, inverted lower wishbone, single top link, twin radius rods to look after fore and aft forces, coil spring/dampers and adjustable roll bars both front and rear. Plumbing for the needs of lubricants is ‘bitsy’ rather than ‘cohesive’ and the lack of shine to the nickel (?) plating doubtless reflects a long hard season- this was the last championship meeting of the year after all. Note the beautifully made splined driveshafts, solid brake rotor and caliper.

I’ve always thought BRM’s gearboxes- i’m not sure if this is a six-speed Type 62 or 72 look a bit butch compared with Mike Hewland’s products of the time but that may not be the case upon having details of said products dimensions and weight. Whilst the boxes’ were the weak link in P261s powered by 1.9 litre V8’s and above that was not the case when 1.5 litre V8s were used which was of course the engine around which the gearboxes were designed at the outset.

Beautifully concepted, designed and built, robust, prodigiously fast cars the performance of which could be accessed by ‘newbees’ and exploited by ‘the gods’ alike.

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

Stephen Dalton contributed these pages from the February 1966 Queensland Motor Sports Club newsletter which gives the organisers perspective- note the attention to O,H & S as Stephen points out!

Photo Credits…

‘HAGP’- ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Others, Kevin Drage, ‘Ardmore’, autopics.com, M Bisset Collection, Getty Images- Bernard Cahier, Alvis Upitis, ‘CAN’ Classic Auto News, BRM 3, Dennis Cooper Collection

Bibliography…

‘Australian Motor Racing Annual 1966’, ‘BRM 3’- ‘BRM: The Saga of British Racing Motors Volume 3’ Doug Nye, various articles by Ken Blair in ‘The Canberra Times’ on 8, 15 and 21 February 1966, Bruce Sergent’s race reports on sergent.com, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and Others, 1966 Tasman Cup review by Allan Brown in oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Clark, Lotus 39 Climax, Lakeside 1966…

(unattributed)

Jim gulps a big dose of Queensland air as he snicks a Lakeside high-speed apex.

Finito…

 

(B Miles)

Edsel Falconer during the first race outing of a Ford Falcon in Australia- Middle Ridge, Toowoomba, Queensland, during the annual ‘Carnival of Flowers’ weekend, 17 September 1960…

This road circuit through the suburbs of Toowoomba was used in 1958, 1960 and 1961 once a year during a local carnival weekend through the beautiful rolling countryside of Queensland’s Darling Downs district.

Whilst researching his book ‘The Toowoomba Auto Club:1950-1965’ author John Evans was able to re-write history by showing that the first Falcon to race was that of Falconer- son of the Dealer Principal of the Toowoomba Ford Dealership of the same name on 17 September rather than as has hitherto been the orthodoxy- the Falcon XK raced by Bob Jane and Lou Molina to third in Class D of the 1960 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island on 20 November 1960. Edsel placed fourth in the Saloon Car Handicap at Middle Ridge, two places ahead of Bill Pitt’s Jaguar, I wonder who won?

Whilst Edsel Falconer may seem a cute ‘Ford’ nom de guerre in fact it is all kosher- Hugh Falconer started the family business in 1919 with Ford, Fiat and Hupmobile agencies and became an official Ford dealership in 1925- Edsel, one of his sons became the Dealer Principal during the 1960s, the family sold the business circa 1980.

A cursory Trove search doesn’t tell us too much about Edsel ‘a well known Toowoomba motorist’ but there are some references in late 1953 of him rallying/trialling a Ford Customline and plenty in the Brisbane Telegraph and Courier Mail social notes of the many weddings attended and family holidays to Surfers Paradise and other such exotic places. It does not seem that Edsel was one of the regular racers in the area, all information will be gratefully received inclusive of how Edsel’s XK performed at Middle Ridge.

In an address to the Toowoomba Rotarians on 14 November 1955, reported in the St George Shire ‘Balonne Beacon’, Edsel, back from a stint at a ‘Ford Motor School’ in Detroit advised his fellow Queenslanders that ‘Australian’s standards of living, ethics and morals were higher than those of Americans…Americans were earning more and spending more than Australians but as far as getting the joy out of living was concerned, Australians were better off.’

In a note of encouragement to the assembled masses he said that ‘Australia could learn a lot from Americans. Americans would not accept anything but the best quality, and they took every measure to ensure they produced the best possible. There were many leads that could be taken from the Americans’ he said ‘One of the main being to “get up and do things”. I always get a giggle of ‘insights’ after a weeks stay in a place, but today’s smart arse prism is not the way to view things 65 years hence. Edsel was a noted and respected pillar of his local community is the point to be taken.

An immaculate period dull-green Falcon XK has moved into my street recently- it’s a young groovster’s daily driver, it lives on the street at the mercy of all of the local Braille-Parking-Mob mind you- this attractive car got me thinking about Ford Australia’s first manufacturing efforts and early Falcon competition exploits.

Ford Australia was incorporated in 1925, its operations based in the Victorian port city of Geelong, the suburb of Norlane to be precise. For the ensuing decades FoMoCo Oz assembled cars locally from CKD packs- ‘completely knocked down’ Model T’s were first, they were initially chucked together on an improvised production line in a disused wool storage warehouse before Norlane was finished. As the latest Fords were built, so local assembly followed and in many cases local bodies were fitted.

The plant was devoted to wartime production and post-war assembled UK sourced Pilots, the Prefect, Anglia, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac.

In the mid-fifties Ford decided to build cars in Australia and acquired land at Campbellfield on Melbourne’s outskirts. In the same way that generations of Victorians drove past Ford’s Geelong plant, generations of Australians drove past Campbellfield or more colloquially Broadmeadows as the Ford factory- when built the largest automotive plant in the Southern Hemisphere, was on the Hume Highway- the main drag between Melbourne and Sydney.

The ‘contest’ between which bigger Ford would be adapted to local production was won in favour of the US Falcon rather than the UK Zephyr Mk2 when Oz Ford Chief Charlie Smith and some of his senior executives saw the proposed new Falcon on a trip through Dearborn in late 1958.

In period FoMoCo advertising art of the XK Falcon

 

Ford Broadmeadows, Oz built car #1 – VIN# folks?

Without doubt they made the right choice- the Falcon was light-years ahead in appearance over the then Holdens, whose underpinnings went back to those of the 48-215 and the Zephyr, but whilst the Falcon XK- first car built on 28 June 1960 and on sale from 11 September that year looked the goods on paper ‘The Falcon was designed without any consideration whatsoever of Australia’s demanding conditions’ wrote Dr John Wright and Dave Morley.

The call to build the Falcon was a late one and meant the US car did not have the local design input/testing to adapt it to the very tough extremes of local conditions and very quickly support from private and fleet buyers plummeted because of problems with front ball joints which failed without leaving suburbia, rust, transmission and other weaknesses.

68,413 of the XK model were sold between 1960 and 1962 with the XL, released on 4 August 1962 incorporating a new three speed manual gearbox and clutch, a better starter motor and changes to the front sheet-metal to strengthen the front suspension mounts.

Whilst objectively the durability of the Falcon was not a real issue after the XM (released 20 February 1964) nor a perceived one after the XP (released 20 February 1965) the reputational damage in 1960-1961 was such that the competition program had a big part to play in both proving the performance and strength of the big Fords and to provide the production engineers with feedback they could incorporate into future models or routine running production line changes.

In late 1960 two privately entered Falcon XK’s contested the first Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island- on 20 November, a couple of months after Falconer’s Middle Ridge race.

Bob Jane and renowned Melbourne racer/hotelier/restautanteur/raconteur Lou Molina shared one entered by Jane’s ‘Autoland’ dealership with another raced by the equally experienced and credentialed Ron Phillips and Ern Seeliger. Jane and Molina were third in Class D with 161 completed laps despite Lou rolling the car! The first in that class and ‘first outright’ was the John Roxburgh/Frank Coad crewed Vauxhall Cresta with another pair of coming stars- John French and Norm Beechey aboard a Standard Vanguard second in class D. The other XK of Phillips and Seeliger were out early in the race with an overheating engine.

 

Now back on four wheels, the boys set Lou Molina back towards the Pits whilst the restauranteur contemplates a line of patter for car owner and co-driver RF Jane Esq, waiting to greet him. P Island 500 1960, Falcon XK

Harry Firth was already a racer/preparer/engineer of renown by the time Ford’s Competitions Manager, Les Powell first involved him with Ford- that fruitful partnership over the ensuing years yielded countless race and rally wins not least four Bathurst 500’s, 1968 Australian Rally Championship and the prestigious Teams Prize of the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon. Click here for a background piece on Harry; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/29/harry-firths-mg-tc-spl-s-c/

Whether Firth was engaged by Ford prior to the first rally contested by the new Falcon- the 1961 BP Rally centred in the Victorian Alps is unclear but four Falcons and six Anglia 105E’s entered the Light Car Club of Australia’s annual classic event. Amongst Harry’s competition activities at the time Les Powell and Max Ward approached him were race and rallying a Ford Anglia. ‘Unofficially this (’61 BP Rally) was the beginning of Ford’s participation in rallying at a factory level, a participation which was to continue spasmodically for over four decades’ Rallysport Magazine wrote.

The Falcons went very well too- Jack Ellis was second, Ken Harper thirteenth, Doug Hughes nineteenth and Jack Nalder twenty-ninth, on top of that Peter Coffey’s Anglia was third outright.

Powell then threw Firth in at the deep end- the nascent subsidiary of Ford’s Global Empire had decided to have a crack at the East African Safari with no less than five Falcons to be prepared, run and crewed out of Firth’s modest Queens Avenue, Auburn, Melbourne ‘Temple of Speed’.

The whole of the East African Safari Rally 3000 mile route was (and is) run on public roads and involved two legs separated by a 24 hour break out of Nairobi, the start and finishing point. The North Leg took in North Kenya and Uganda whilst the South bit went around South Kenya and Tanzania. The Safari took place over Easter, a time when the rainy-season gets underway with the main cause of retirement usually an abundance of Murrum mud- when dry this brown earth is hard, dusty and bumpy and incredible muddy and sticky when wet.

Given the challenge Harry didn’t think much of the equipment at all.

‘Ford wanted to get into competition to prove its car, the Falcon was capable of handling it…But that first XK Falcon – 144 cubic inch (2.4 litre 90bhp) engine, three speed gearbox was really a terrible car. You could do very little with the engine, the body flexed heavily and it had sloppy springs- all you could do was just set the Armstrong shockers rock-hard. The brakes were just adequate with race linings and the front hubs broke under race conditions. The steering had 5.5 turns lock to lock- just impossible for racing conditions.’

‘We made and tested the five Falcons and sent them off to Africa. We fixed the hubs, made stronger wheels and did some work on the axle shafts and the gearbox. Even then the cars were very fragile. It was the worst type of car you could take to an event like that. We had to virtually carry them around on our backs. We said to ourselves “we’re not going to break it”- if we think its too hard on the car then we’ll back off.’

The five cars were crewed by the following pairings; Harry Firth /Graham Hoinville, Ken Harper/Les Scott, Jack Ellis/Mal McPherson, Doug Hughes/Rex Lewis, Geoff Russell/Dick Collinwood.

Harper/Scott XK Falcon during the Safari, place unknown (unattributed)

 

Before the off at Nairobi- one of the XK Falcons in shot (unattributed)

 

Harper/Scott at roadside, whilst the styling may be pedestrian now it was edgy in period (M Tufte)

Before the rally, the complete route was surveyed using rented Ford Zephyrs, the rally cars having not yet landed from Australia.

All of the cars faced problems of course, first-timers as they were but the Firth/Hoinville combination ran as high as eighth before a rear spring broke dropping them to sixteenth with Ken Harper/Les Scott also finishers but they ran out of late time.

Firth was later quoted as saying that had the car been fitted with the optional 170cid engine and Armstrong shockers (the earlier quote implies they were fitted) ‘we’d have won’ and ‘Graham Hoinville and I were placed seventh only 300 miles from the finish when we broke a main rear spring plate in a competitive section. That dropped us back to 16th but we still finished 25 minutes ahead on the English factory Fords.’

‘The way the cars performed earned me a contract with Ford for competition. This was really the start of my association with Ford and the first step into The Big Time- although I was still doing work for others’ Firth was quoted in an Australian Muscle Car magazine piece on the East African Safari.

Winners of the tough event were the Tommy Fjastad/Bernhard Schmider VW 1200- Ford Australia were pipped in the Australian race-within-a-race in that a locally entered Holden EK driven by HS Sembi/C Mehta finished fourteenth.

In fact the Aussies blazed the trail for the Falcon as a rally machine- within six months Detroit announced that they would mount a three car campaign in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally- Bo Ljungfeldt finished second in an American spec V8 engined two-door Falcon Futura.

Ford Australia were enthusiastic rally competitors for the ensuing early years mainly contesting events in New South Wales and Victoria, the first Australian Rally Championship was not held until 1968- Harry Firth won it in a Lotus Cortina Mk2 (or supercharged Cortina Mk2 or both cars depending upon the reference source) with Graham Hoinville alongside, as usual,

Harry Firth ‘splashing through a wet patch on the track in the Alps…on its way to the Knocker Track, a ten mile stretch of boulder-strewn track which runs down the mountain between Glen Wills and Omeo in Victoria. Used nearly a century ago as a bullock track it has never been used by cars until its inclusion on the route of the BP Rally 1-5 May 1963’

Firth’s Falcon won the May 1963 BP Rally ‘Australias toughest reliability event’ over 2000 miles and in a great weekend Ford won three of the event’s four classes. Using the same car, Frank Kilfoyle partnered by Michael Flanagan won the Melbourne University Car Club’s July 1963 Akademos Trial and a couple of weeks later the Experts Reliability Trial.

Earlier in the year- March, Ford attacked the Begonia Rally, based in the Central Victorian town of Ballarat, with a team of three Cortinas, two Falcons and a 105E Anglia. RallySport wrote in relation to the Cortinas, that ‘Ever on the ball, Firth got the jump on the rest of the world by sourcing a pair of the soon to be released 1500cc motors, six months before official release and fitted them to his own car and that of Geoff Russell’, the cars took the first two placings ‘stunning the rest of the field with their performance. Ford virtually had a car for any occasion- the Cortinas won, Falcons and Anglias filled major placings, and their were five Fords in the top ten and 10 in the first sixteen.’

In 1964 Ford were again successful in the BP Rally when the Ford Falcon driven by Ken Harper/Michael Flanagan triumphed over a big field which included the Firth driven Ford Cortina GT which won the 1963 Bathurst 500 in the hands of Bob Jane and Harry- Firth was fifth outright and second in class after a number of penalties.

At the end of 1962 Firth advised Ford that the Falcon had no hope of winning the new ‘Bathurst 500’  but that they had a ‘ready made’ winner in the Cortina GT. The race had been transferred to the great Mount Panorama track after the Phillip Island surface was destroyed to such an extent that the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club could not afford to repair it. Help arrived in the form of Len Lukey to get the Island re-opened when the club sold the place, but lets not chase that tangent and go back to look at the circuit racing of 1961-1962 where we started, before we headed off to rallying.

Harry Firth and Graham Hoinville in the winning 1964 Ampol Trial Cortina GT- looking like a couple of country squires with their flat-caps, its cold out there (unattributed)

 

Bob Jane and Harry Firth with the 1962 Phillip Island 500 winning Ford Falcon XL. ACL is ‘Automotive Components Ltd’ then a Repco subsidiary making rings, bearings etc

 

The Harper/Fisher/Raeburn Falcon XK during the 1962 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island – great value @ 1065 pounds!

The 1961 Armstrong 500 (as in shock absorbers) was held on 19 November 1961 and was a much smaller affair- 26 cars entered rather than the 45 contestants in 1960 as a consequence of the ‘1961 Credit Squeeze’.

The Australian Government ended import licensing in February 1960 causing the balance of payments crisis predicted by Treasury, in November 1960 Prime Minister Menzies increased sales tax and imposed credit restrictions to bring the economy back into balance causing a credit squeeze and minor recession. The economy stopped abruptly, consumers reacted accordingly and popped their wallets away with plenty of consequences across our society not least in the motor industry when plenty of highly geared businesses ‘went to the wall’ as new and used car sales plummeted. Entries, back on point (!) in the 1961 500 reflected all of this- I did an Economics degree eons ago so this shit interests me. sadly…

Bob Jane had Harry Firth preparing both his Maserati 300S sportscar and Jaguar Mk2 Appendix J tourer at the time, they decided upon a Mercedes Benz 220SE as their weapon of choice for the 1961 Armstrong and with a typically fast, disciplined drive ‘won’ the race completing 167 laps- they were first in Class B and ‘first outright’. Note that the first outright notion was not officially recognised until 1965- until that point, officially at least, the first five 500 mile races at the Island and Bathurst had awards for each class winners.

Only one Falcon XK was entered that year and is described in some sources as a ‘pseudo works entry’- it was actually entered by Ken Harper and co-driven by Syd Fisher and John Raeburn all of whom were or would become ‘Ford works drivers’ in the coming years. It would be interesting to know who prepared this Falcon, presumably Firth.

There was a great class battle between the Ford and an EK Holden crewed by Ian Strachan and John Lanyon (of PIARC and Ansett Team Elfin fame) and entered by Stan Jones Motors Pty Ltd (I wonder why Stanley did not drive- maybe these dull ‘Taxis’ were not his cup of tea?!) – the Holden led until it lost a wheel and was later disqualified because the team cannibalised another car for a wheel rather than use an item from their pit supplies as required by the supplementary regulations- the XK Falcon was second in Class B and seventh ‘outright’.

Despite the depressed state of the Australian economy and the ‘own goals’ Ford Australia faced they pressed on with their motorsport program for 1962 in an ongoing effort to build the Ford brand in Australia.

Sunlight ahead included the XL Falcon due for release on August 4 which (as stated earlier) incorporated changes to the gearbox and clutch and to the front structure of the car which would make it torsionally a bit stiffer and a more powerful ‘Pursuit’ 170cid or 2.8 litre 101bhp six-cylinder OHV engine. In addition the Cortina would soon appear which remained a small car or mid-size hit on the local sales charts until Mazda, Toyota and Datsun progressively gained traction from the mid-sixties.

Whilst the rallying program continued, Ford planned to race a new XL in the 500 at the Island on 21 October and in addition decided, wisely, to contest the ‘Bathurst Six Hour Classic’ to be held only three weeks before on 30 September 1962- the catch was that Ford didn’t want to race the XL at Mount Panorama so Firth set about preparing an XK Falcon for the race which attracted 49 cars across six price based classes or ‘divisions’ ranging from under 900 pounds (Morris 850, Ford Anglia, Datsun Bluebird etc) to under 2000 pounds (Daimler SP 250, Triumph TR4 and MGA twin-cam).

Firth takes up the story in terms of car preparation ‘Having not been to Bathurst for some years, I had to rely on hearsay information like “no, it is not hard on brakes and the circuit has not changed”. I did all the usual things such as a valve grind, compression check, set the camshaft properly, gave the pistons plenty of clearance, deck-heighted the head and put the engine on the dyno.’

‘I fitted a set of heavy Armstrong shockers and some well-worn springs. I made up some Ferodo brake shoes but ended up leaving them at home, thinking they wouldn’t be needed. I drove the car to Bathurst myself. Practice proved two things: the car was the fastest sedan and the brakes were not good enough.’

Jane/Firth Falcon XK being followed by the K John/Peter Caldecoat MGA 1600 DNF- Bathurst 6 Hour 1962

 

Just needs a turret I guess…Firth’s rooted Falcon XK at Bathurst in 1962 (Shannons)

Whilst there was no outright winner of the race (consistent with the line to that effect earlier) up front the Brothers Geoghegan- Leo and Ian rumbled around in their Daimler SP250 V8 to finish first ‘outright’ with 104 laps completed, meanwhile trouble brewed for the Jane/Firth combination in the under 1250 pound Division C inhabited by a Morris Cooper, two Austin Freeways, two Holdens (model unknown), a Peugeot 403 and the works XK Falcon.

The two wily Melbourne racers led their class early, but the brakes were progressively showing plenty of signs of stress with the pedal creeping inexorably closer to the floor- Harry took over from Bob after a scheduled stop and then on lap 39 ‘As he braked for Hell Corner, the fronts suddenly over-energised and locked on, the nose dug in and the car rolled’ the roof was crushed making the machine as ‘flat as a shit-carters hat’- Harry was extremely lucky he was not badly hurt- the car had no roll bar or cage of course, the racer exited via a rear window as fuel spilt over the tarmac, but did not ignite.

‘Our race was over…I just kept thinking about the special brake linings I left at home and the lesson i’d just learned that you should never listen to “experts”. All of which, I reckon is a load of crap- Firth knew full well Bathurst hadn’t changed since he last been there and if he had the trick Ferodo brake shoes sitting in Queens Avenue in Melbourne he would have taken them with him…the mistake was his not ‘the experts’- he was the expert for chrissakes. Bob Jane had raced his Maserati 300S in the October 1961 Bathurst meeting, no doubt Harry had plenty of intell from Jane to say the Mount Panorama challenge had remained undiminished since 1938…

For the record, Division C was won by the Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland (the 1968 Bathurst 500 winning duo of course) Morris Cooper with 95 laps from the two Austin Freeways whilst second and third outright behind the Geoghegans were the C Lansdowne/Holt Binnie Triumph TR4 on 100 laps and Don Algie/Kingsley Hibbard Studebaker Lark with 99 completed laps.

Upon return from Bathurst Firth completed his preparation of the new XL Falcon Pursuit which was a much more competitive proposition in the price based class structure than its predecessor, the machine was ‘The model as supplied to the police- larger engine, better wheels, otherwise the same as the standard 144’ the body was a lot better ‘So it was vastly improved but still not very good.’

Bob I think- 1962 PI 500, Falcon XL heading past a copse of trees on the run towards Lukey Heights (autopics.com)

 

1962 P Is 500, Le Mans start, the Class B group from left to right- #27 Lott Falcon, #26 Callaway Falcon, the #24 Lex Davison/John Brindley/Phil Trueman Austin Freeway, # 25, #20 and #21 Falcons of Caelli, Harper and Firth respectively (unattributed)

 

Firth/Jane during the ’62 500 and going inside Doug Whiteford/Lou Molina VW1200, a couple of aces, Whiteford thrice AGP winner the -extent of damage to the track surface clear

The race turned out to be the last ‘500’ at the Island such was the state of the circuit at the end of the weekend, the poorly maintained ‘patchwork quilt’ surface took an extra battering due to the large entry of cars and private practice in the week leading up to the race.

The Oz economy had turned to the extent that 42 cars took the start including eight in Class B for cars priced under 1250 pounds including five Falcon XL’s two of which were Ford’s first official works entries crewed by Firth/Jane and Harper/Raeburn/Fisher. In addition privateer entries were raced by Alan Caelli/J Edwards/John Bodinar, John Callaway/Frank Porter/Jim Smith and Kevin Lott/Tom Roddy/Brian Devin. In a race when nothing less than victory would do, Ford also entered a Zephyr Mk3 in Class A (cars less than 2000 pounds) which was driven by Geoff Russell/David Anderson- class winners in the two previous Island 500 contests.

Drama was provided for Firth on either the Thursday or Friday (again accounts differ) when he rolled the car on the perilous surface and had to be taken back to Auburn to be re-shelled overnight! In the event, much more competitive than the two previous years, the Fords rumbled around with great speed and regularity to finish first to fourth in Class B and 1-3-4-6 outright- the Firth car won from the Harper, Caelli and Callaway Falcons.

Somewhat ironically the only spanner in the works could have been provided by the works Zephyr (different class of course) which was of a much nicer, higher specification (power, four speed ‘box, front disc brakes) and potentially the winner but for bonnet latches failing and losing that crew many laps, ultimately a combination of tape and ropes did the trick but not before vast slabs of time were lost. Perhaps Karma kicked in though as Ford needed an emphatic Falcon win so they could ‘promote the shitter out of’ which they duly achieved, and that is what transpired.

From that point Ford’s race competition focus for the next couple of years was on the Cortina GT (1964 Bathurst win to Jane/George Reynolds) and Harry’s ‘homologation special’ Mk1 GT500 (1965 Bathurst win in the hands of Bo Seton/Midge Boswell) before FoMoCo factory missed the 1966 race and returned with a Falcon vengeance from 1967 with Australia’s own first Pony-Car the V8 XR Falcon GT which won at the Mountain in the hands of, you guessed it, Harry Firth and Fred Gibson. This period are stories for other times.

Lets not forget where it all started though- the very basic 144cid, OHV, single carb straight-six, drum braked, 5.5 turns lock to lock, wheezy, floppy XK Falcon the development wrongs of which nearly beached the company before it got outta the water to muddle the metaphors…

Firth teamed up with John Raeburn in the Falcon-Mobil Reliability Run, this red XP Hardtop was fitted with 200cid six ‘Super Pursuit’ engine- car severely damaged by another driver late in the run but was patched up and was still running at the finish (FoMoCo)

Afterthought…

As you Ford buffs well and truly know the blue oval boys were not out of the financial woods in Australia until after the legendary 70,000 mile nine day late April 1965 ‘Falcon-Mobil’ Reliability Run.

This high-speed, ‘big-balls’, all or nothing endurance test idea of new Sales and Marketing Manager and later CEO Bill Bourke involving a veritable football-team of drivers and six XP Falcons (five and a spare) of varying specifications all of which was managed by Les Powell and brought together by the Firth Emporium in Auburn.

It too, is a story for another time, the scene, Ford’s You-Yangs Proving Grounds, 50 km south-west of Melbourne.

All observers noted just how tough the You Yangs course was- the 1 in 4 hill was the trickiest bit at night and at sunset in particular. The climb was started at 80mph and crested at circa 65mph turning sharpish left (FoMoCo)

Wheels magazine said an ‘…average of 72mph on a dreadfully difficult circuit which makes Lakeside look like a roller skating rink’ was a considerable achievement.

The cars were prepared, as noted, by Firth, an army of mechanics were marshalled by John Sheppard (then with the Geoghegan Brothers) and the huge roster of drivers included Harry Firth, John Raeburn, Pete Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett, Fred Gibson, Bo Seton, Bruce McPhee, Barry Arentz, John Roxburgh, Allan Moffat, Max Volkers, Brian ‘Brique’ Reed, Bill McLachlan, Clive Millis, Max Stahl and many others- Ford called for reinforcements during the nine-day run, the challenge of the course meant driver rotations needed to be relatively short- lets see if we can create a complete list of the steerers folks…

(unattributed)

What next chief? seems to be the communal stance!

 

Etcetera…

 

Ford went into print bigtime after the April 1965 Endurance Run which grabbed heaps of media coverage for a week whilst being run (FoMoCo)

 

Western Herald, Bourke 16 February 1962

Even though this ‘Australia taking on the world’ pursuit must have been a reasonably big deal at the time there seems to have been minimal press about it- a pity as the detail about the destiny of each Falcon in the event would be interesting to know.

 

 

(unattributed)

The Ken Harper/Les Scott XK sets off on an amazing East African adventure.

 

(unattributed)

The Geoff Russell/Dick Collinwood XK and what is probably a reasonable representation of the primary colour of the Murran clay roads of East Africa- car looks ok in this shot to the extent that we can see it but was a DNF.

 

The Firth/Hoinville Falcon XK cruising through the streets of  Nairobi on the way to the serious stuff.

Bibliography…

‘Ford’s Australian Rally History’ in RallySport September 2020, Australian Muscle Car magazine, Wheels July 1965, ‘Shannons’ Falcon XK article by Mark Oastler, ‘Balonne Beacon’ 24 November 1955, various newspapers via Trove

Photo Credits…

Bill Miles via Quentin Miles, Mark Tufte, autopics.com, Bruce Wells, Ian K, Shannons

Tailpiece…

(B Wells)

Firth/Jane Falcon XK on the exit of Hell Corner for the run up Mountain Straight during the 1962 Bathurst 6 Hour Classic- the look of these Series Production cars of the period is only ruined by shitty steel wheels- handsome car.

Finito…

The way it was.

Pat Hoare’s Ferrari 256 V12 ‘0007’ as despatched by Scuderia Ferrari in early 1961…

It was just another chassis after all, Enzo Ferrari was not to know that Dino 256 ‘0007’ would be, so far at least, the last front engined championship Grand Prix winner, so it seemed perfectly logical to refashion it for a client and despatch it off to the colonies. Not that he was an historian or sentimentalist anyway, the next win was far more important than the last.

This story of this car is pretty well known and goes something like this- Phil Hill’s 1960 Italian GP winning Ferrari Dino 256 chassis ‘0007’ was the very last front-engined GP winning machine- a win made possible due to the sneaky Italian race organisers running their GP on the high-speed banked Monza circuit to give Ferrari the best possible chance of winning the race- by that time their superb V6 front engined machines, even in the very latest 1960 spec, were dinosaurs surrounded as they were by mid-engined, nimble, light and ‘chuckable’, if less powerful cars.

 

Hill and Brabham- 256 Dino ‘0007’ and Cooper Climax T53 and during Phil and Jack’s titanic dice at Reims in 1960 (Motorsport)

 

Phil on the Monza banking, September 1960, 256/60 Dino ‘0007’

Pat Hoare bought the car a couple of months after that win with the ‘dinky’ 2474cc V6 replaced by a more torquey and powerful 3 litre V12 Testa Rossa sportscar engine.

After a couple of successful seasons Hoare wanted to replace the car with a 1961/2 mid-engined ‘Sharknose’ into which he planned to pop a bigger engine than the 1.5 litre V6 original- but he had to sell his other car first. Enzo didn’t help him by torching each and every 156 mind you. Despite attempts to sell the 256 V12 internationally there were no takers- it was just an uncompetitive front-engined racing car after all.

Waimate 50 11 February 1961, Pat was first from Angus Hyslop’s Cooper T45 Climax and Tony Shelly’s similar car (N Matheson Beaumont)

 

Pat Hoare, Ferrari Bob Eade, in the dark coloured ex-Moss/Jensen/Mansel Maserati 250F Dunedin February 1962. Jim Palmer, Lotus 20 Ford won from Hoare and Tony Shelly, Cooper T45 Climax (CAN)

Unable to sell it, Hoare had this ‘GTO-esque’- ok, there is a generosity of spirit in this description, body made for the machine turning it into a road car of prodigious performance and striking looks- the artisans involved were Ernie Ransley, Hoare’s long-time race mechanic, Hec Green who did the body form-work and G.B McWhinnie & Co’s Reg Hodder who byilt the body in sixteen guage aluminium over nine weeks and painted it. George Lee did the upholstery.

Sold to Hamilton school teacher Logan Fow in 1967, he ran it as a roadie for a number of years until British racer/collector Neil Corner did a deal to buy the car sans ‘GTO’ body but with the open-wheeler panels which had been carefully retained, the Ferrari was converted back to its V6 race specification and still competes in Europe.

Low took a new Ferrari road car, variously said to be a Dino 308 or Boxer in exchange, running around Europe in it on a holiday for a while but ran foul of the NZ Government import rules when he came home and had the car seized from him by customs when he failed to stump up the taxes the fiscal-fiends demanded- a sub-optimal result to say the least.

Allan Dick reported that the Coupe body could be purchased in Christchurch only a couple of years ago.

Hoare aboard the 256 Coupe at Wigram circa 1964 (Graham Guy)

The guts of this piece is a story and photographs posted on Facebook by Eric Stevens on the ‘South Island Motorsports’ page of his involvement with Pat Hoare’s car, in particular its arrival in New Zealand just prior to the 1961 New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore that January.

It is a remarkable insiders account and too good to lose in the bowels of Facebook, I am indebted to Stephen Dalton for spotting it. Eric’s wonderful work reads as follows.

The Arrival of Pat Hoare’s second Ferrari…

‘…that Pat Hoare could buy the car was not a foregone conclusion. Ferrari sent him off for test laps on the Modena circuit in one of the obsolete Lancia D50 F1 cars. Probably to everyone’s surprise., Pat ended up, reputedly, within about 2 seconds of Ascari’s lap record for the circuit.’ (in that car for the circuit)

‘The Ferrari was schedued to be shipped to New Zealand in late 1960 in time to be run in the 1961 Ardmore NZ GP, in the event the whole program seemed to be running dangerously late. The first delay was getting the car built at the factory. Then, instead of just a few test laps around Modena, the car became embroiled in a full scale tyre testing program for Dunlop on the high speed circuit at Monza.’

‘It can be seen from the state of the tyres (on the trailer below) that the car had obviously seen some serious mileage. Also there were some serious scrape marks on the bottom of the gearbox where it had been contacting the banking. Nobody in Auckland knew what speeds had been involved but upon delivery the car was fitted with the highest gearing which gave a theoretical maximum speed of 198mph.’

(E Stevens)

 

(E Stevens)

‘The car was driven straight from Monza to the ship. I was later told by Ernie Ransley that the car was filled with fuel and the delivery driver was told he had approximately an hour to deliver the car to the ship which was somewhat more than 120 miles away.’

‘Then the ship arrived later in Auckland than expected and although Pat had arranged to get the car off as soon as possible there was great panic when at first the car could not be found. Not only was the Hoare team frantically searching the ship, so too was the local Dunlop rep- eventually the car was found behind a wall of crates of spirits in the deck-liquor locker.’

‘Then there was the problem of the paperwork. At first all that could be found was an ordinary luggage label tied to the steering wheel in the opening photograph, this was addressed to; PM Hoare, 440 Papanui Road, Christchurch NZ, Wellington ,NZ. No other papers could be found but an envelope of documents was later found stuffed in a corner. The car had obviously arrived very late.’

(E Stevens)

 

The 3 litre variant of the Colombo V12 used in the Testa Rossas was based on that used in the 250 GT road cars, the primary modifications to the basic SOHC, two valve design were the adoption of six instead of three Weber 38 DCN carbs, the use of coil rather than ‘hairpin’ or torsion springs- this released the space to adopt 24 head studs. One plug per cylinder was used, its position was changed, located outside the engine Vee between the exhaust ports, better combustion was the result. Conrods were machined from steel billet- the Tipo 128 gave 300bhp, doubtless a late one like this gave a bit more. These Colombo V12’s provided the bulk of Ferrari road engines well into the sixties and provided Ferrari their last Le Mans win- Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory won the 1965 classic in a NART 250LM powered by a 3.3 litre Colombo V12

 

(E Stevens)

‘The day after collecting the car, and after fitting of new tyres, we took it out to the local supermarket car park for its first run in NZ. Pat climbed in and we all pushed. The car started easily but was running on only 11 cylinders and there was conspicuous blow-back from one carburettor- the immediate diagnosis was a stuck inlet valve.’

‘There was no time to get new valves and guides from the factory but Ernie Ransley was able to locate a suitable valve originally intended for a 250F Maserati and a valve guide blank which, while not made of aluminium bronze, could be machined to suit. Over the next day or so the engine was torn down, the new valve and guide fitted, and all the remaining guides were lightly honed to ensure there would be no repeat failure.’

‘The rest is history.’

‘I musn’t forget the tyres. They were obviously worn and would have to be replaced. They had a slighly different pattern from the usual Dunlop R5 and Ernie Ransley had a closer look at them to see what they were. When the Dunlop rep arrived next Ernie asked him “What is an R9?”. “Oh, just something the factory is playing with” was the answer. In fact they were a very early set of experimental rain tyres, the existence of which was not generally known at the time. There had been no time to get them off the car before it left Monza for the ship. No wonder the Dunlop rep was keen to help us find the car on the ship and get the new tyres on the car as soon as possible.’

It is long- i wonder how much longer in the wheelbase than the 2320mm it started as ? (E Stevens)

 

Good look at the IRS wishbone rear suspension, rear tank oil, inner one fuel with the rest of that carried either side of the driver (E Stevens)

The repairs effected by the team held together at Ardmore on 7 January 1961.

Pat qualified fourteenth based on his heat time and finished seventh- the first front engined car home, the race was won by Brabham’s Cooper T53 Climax from McLaren’s similar car and Graham Hill’s works BRM P48.

Jo Bonnier won at Levin on 14 January- Pat didn’t contest that race but followed up with a DNF from Q14 at the Wigram RNZAF base, Brabham’s T53 won. The internationals gave the Dunedin Oval Circuit a miss, there he was second to Hulme’s Cooper T51 from the back of the grid. Off south to Teretonga he was Q3 and fourth behind Bonnier, Cooper T51 and Salvadori’s Lotus 18 Climax.

After the Internationals split back to Europe he won the Waimate 50 from pole with Angus Hyslop and Tony Shelly behind him in 2 litre FPF powered Cooper T45’s and in November the Renwick 50 outside Marlborough.

1961 NZ GP Ardmore scene- all the fun of the fair. Ferrari 256 being tended by L>R Doug Herridge, Walter ?, Ernie Ramsley, Don Ramsley and Pat. #3 McLaren Cooper T53, David McKay’s Stan Jones owned Maserati 250F- the green front engined car to the left of the Maser is Bib Stillwell’s Aston Martin DBR4-300 (E Stevens)

 

Hoare, Ardmore 1962 (E Stevens)

 

Pat during the Sandown International weekend in March 1962 (autopics.com)

Into January 1962 Stirling Moss, always a very happy and popular visitor to New Zealand and Australia won his last NZ GP at Ardmore in a soaking wet race aboard Rob Walker’s Lotus 21 Climax from four Cooper T53’s of John Surtees, Bruce McLaren, Roy Salvadori and Lorenzo Bandini- the latter’s Centro Sud machine Maserati powered, the other three by the 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF, and then Pat’s Ferrari. The car was no doubt feeling a bit long in the tooth by this stage despite only having done eight meetings in its race life to this point.

Pat didn’t contest Levin on 13 January, Brabham’s Cooper T55 Climax took that, but the Sunday after was tenth at Wigram from Q12 with Moss triumphing over Brabham and Surtees in a Cooper T53.

At Teretonga it was McLaren, Moss and Brabham with Pat seventh albeit the writing was well and truly on the wall with Jim Palmer, the first resident Kiwi home in a Cosworth Ford 1.5 pushrod powered Lotus 20.

Having said that Pat turned the tables on Palmer at Dunedin on February 3- this was the horrible race in which Johnny Mansel lost his life in a Cooper T51 Maserati. A week later at Waimate it was Palmer, Hoare and Tony Shelly in a 2 litre FPF powered Cooper T45.

Hoare decided to contest Sandown’s opening meeting on 12 March so the gorgeous machine was shipped from New Zealand to Port Melbourne for this one race- he didn’t contest any of the other Australian Internationals that summer, perhaps the plan was to show it to a broader audience of potential purchasers.

The race was a tough ask- it may have only been eighteen months since the chassis won the Italian GP but the advance of technology in favour of mid-engine machines was complete, as Pat well knew. Jack Brabham won the 60 lap race in his Cooper T55 Climax FPF 2.7 from the similarly engined cars of John Surtees and Bruce McLaren who raced Cooper T53’s- the first front-engined car  was Lex Davison’s Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre in eighth.

Pat was eighth in his heat- the second won by Moss’ Lotus 21 Climax and started sixteenth on the grid of the feature race, he finished eleventh and excited many spectators with the sight and sound of this glorious, significant machine.

And that was pretty much it sadly…

Hill in ‘0007’ and Brabham’s Cooper T53 Climax ‘Lowline’ went at hammer and tongs for 29 of the 36 laps in one of the last great front-engine vs rear-engine battles- here Jack has jumped wide to allow Phil, frying his tyres and out of control as he tries to stop his car- passage up the Thillois escape road, French GP 1960 (Motorsport)

Ferrari Dino 256/60…

I’ve already written a couple of pieces on these wonderful Ferraris- the ultimate successful expression of the front engined F1 car, here; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/14/composition/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/21/dan-gurney-monsanto-parklisbonportuguese-gp-1960-ferrari-dino-246-f1/

The history of 256/60 ‘0007’ and its specifications are as follows sourced from Doug Nye’s ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’, a short article i wrote about the car a while back is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/09/pat-hoares-ferrari-256-v12-at-the-dunedin-road-race-1961/

The 1960 Dinos had small tube spaceframe chassis, disc brakes, wishbone and coil spring/dampers front- and rear suspension, de-Dion tubes were gone by then. The V6 engines, tweaked by Carlo Chiti were of 2474cc in capacity, these motors developed a maximum of 290bhp @ 8800rpm but were tuned for greater mid-range torque in 1960 to give 255bhp for the two-cam and 275bhp @ 8500rpm for the four-cammers. Wheelbase of the cars was generally 2320mm, although shorter wheelbase variants were also raced that year, the bodies were by Fantuzzi.

‘0007’ was first raced by Phil Hill at Spa on 19 June-Q3 and fourth, Brabham’s Cooper T53 Climax the winner, he then raced it at Reims, Q2 and DNF gearbox with Jack again up front, Silverstone, Q10 and seventh with Jack’s Cooper up front again and in Italy where Hill won from pole before it was rebuilt into ‘Tasman’ spec. Obviously the machine had few hours on it when acquired by Hoare- it was far from a worn out old warhorse however antiquated its basic design…

Nye records that seven cars were built by the race shop to 1960 246-256/60 specifications- ‘0001’, ‘0003’, ‘0004’, ‘0005’, ‘0006’, ‘0007’ and ‘00011’. ‘0001’, ‘0004’, ‘0006’ and ‘00011’ were discarded and broken up by the team leaving three in existence of which ‘0007’ is the most significant.

The 250 Testa Rossa engine is one the long-lived, classic Gioachino Colombo designs, evolved over the years and designated Tipo 128, the general specifications are an aluminum 60 degree, chain driven single overhead cam per bank, two-valve 3 litre V12- 2953cc with a bore/stroke of 73/58.8mm with 300bhp @ 7000rpm qouted. The engine in Hoare’s car was dry-sumped and fitted with the usual visually arresting under perspex cover, battery of six Weber 38 DCN downdraft carbs.

(E Stevens)

 

Pat Hoare in his first Ferrari, the bitza 625 four cylinder 3 litre at Clelands Road, Timaru hillclimb date unknown (E Porter)

Enzo Ferrari, Pat Hoare, Colombo and Rita…

Many of you will be aware of the intrigue created down the decades by Pat Hoare’s ability to cajole cars from Enzo Ferrari, when seemingly much better credentialled suitors failed.

I don’t have David Manton’s book ‘Enzo Ferraris Secet War’ but Doug Nye commented upon its contents in a 2013 Motorsport magazine piece.

‘Neither Mr Ferrari himself nor Pat Hoare ever explained publicly their undeniably close links. The best i ever established was that Hoare had been with the New Zealand Army advancing up the leg of Italy in 1943, and was amongst the first units to liberate Modena from the retreating German Army. David Manton has plainly failed in pinning down chapter and verse to unlock the true story, but he does reveal startling possibilities.’

‘When Mr Ferrari wanted a trusted engineer to realise his ambitions of building a new V12 engined marque post-war, he sought out Ing Gioachino Colombo, his former employee at Alfa Romeo. In 1944-5, however, Colombo was tainted by having been such an enthusiastic Fascist under Mussolini’s now toppled regime. With Communist Partisans taking control, Colombo was fired from Alfa and placed under investigation. His very life hung by a thread. He could have been imprisoned or summarily shot.’

‘Manton believes that Hoare- who had met Ferrari as a confirmed motor racing enthusiast from the pre-war years- may have been instrumental in freeing Colombo by influencing the relevant authorities. Certainly Colombo was able to resume work for Ferrari when some of his former Party colleagues remained proscribed, ar had already- like Alfa Romeo boss Ugo Gobbato and carburettor maker Eduardo Weber- been assassinated.’

‘But David Manton presents the possibility that such mediation might have been only a part of a more intimate link. Pat Hoare’s personal photo album from the period includes several shots of an extremely attractive Italian girl identified only as Rita. He was an un-married 27 year old Army officer. She was a ravishing 18, believed to have been born near Modena around 1926 and raised not by her birth parents, but by relatives. Some of Pat Hoare’s old friends in Christchurch, New Zealand- while fiercely protective of his memory- share a belief that the lovely Rita was not only just an early love of his life, but that she was also the illegitimate daughter of Enzo Ferrari…which would explain so much.’

‘Nothing is proven. David Manton’s book frustratingly teases but so- over so many decades- has the intrinsic discretion and privacy of the Italian alpha male. As American-in-Modena Pete Coltrin told me many years ago, Mr Ferrari was sinply a “complex man in a complex country”. He had a hard won reputation as a womaniser, which itself earned the respect, and admiration of many of his Italian peers and employees. But if Mr Manton’s theories hold any water they certainly go a long way towards explaining the Pat Hoare/Enzo Ferrari relationship, which both considered far too private ever to divulge to an enthusiastic public…’ DC Nye concludes.

Every Tom, Dick and Irving…

I look at all the fuss about Hoare’s purchase of his two Ferraris and wonder whether every Tom, Dick and Harry who had the readies and wanted an F1 Fazz could and did buy one in the fifties?

Ok, if you got Enzo on a bad day when Laura was pinging steak-knives around the kitchen at him for dropping his amply proportioned tweeds yet again he may not have been at his most co-operative but if you copped him the morning after he bowled over Juicy Lucia from down the Via you could probably strike a quick deal on any car available.

Putting all puerile attempts at humour to one side it seems to me Ferrari were pretty good at turning excess stock (surplus single-seater racing cars) into working capital (cash), as every good business owner- and it was a very good business, does. Plenty of 375’s, 500’s, 625’s and 555’s changed hands to the punters it seems to me.

Just taking a look at non-championship entries in Europe from 1950 to 1956, the list of cars which ended up in private hands is something like that below- I don’t remotely suggest this is a complete, and some cars will be double-counted as they pass to a subsequent owner(s), but is included to illustrate the point that in the fifties ex-works Ferrari F1 cars being sold was far from a rare event.

Its not as long a list as D Type Jaguar or DB3S Aston owners but a longer list than one might think.

Peter Whitehead- 125, 500/625 and 555 Super Squalo Tony Vandervell- 375, Bobbie Baird- 500 Bill Dobson-125 Chico Landi- 375 Piero Carini- 125 Franco Comotti- 166.

Four 375’s were sold to US owners intended for the 1952 Indy 500

Rudolf Fischer- 500,  Jacques Swaters ‘Ecurie Francorchamps’- 500 and 625, Charles de Tornaco ‘Ecurie Belgique’- 500, Louis Rosier ‘Ecurie Rosier’- 375, 500 and 625, Tom Cole- 500, Roger Laurent- 500, Kurt Adolff- 500, Fernand Navarro- 625, Carlo Mancini- 166, Guido Mancini- 500, Tony Gaze- 500/625 Reg Parnell ‘Scuderia Ambrosiana’- 500, 625 and 555 Super Squalo

Ron Roycroft- 375, Jean-Claude Vidille- 500, Alfonso de Portago- 625, Lorenzo Girand- 500, Centro Sud- 500, Jean Lucas- 500, Georgio Scarlatti- 500, Berando Taraschi- 166, Pat Hoare- 500/625 ‘Bitza’ and 256 V12

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the intrigue of the stories about the Enzo and Pat relationship but maybe its as simple as Hoare rocking up to Maranello twice on days when Enzo had had a pleasant interlude with Juicy Lucia on the evening prior rather than on two days when his blood was on the kitchen floor at home.

Etcetera…

(CAN)

Pat Hoare in his first Ferrari ‘bitza’, a 3 litre engined 625 (ex-De Portago, Hawthorn, Gonzales) at Dunedin 1958.

He raced the car for three seasons- 1958 in detuned state the car was not very competitive, in 1959 it kept eating piston rings and in 1960 it was fast and reliable, nearly winning him the Gold Star.

Its said his trip to Maranello in 1960 was to buy a V12 engine to pop into this chassis to replace its problematic four-cyinder engine but Ferrari insisted he bought a whole car.

The specifications of this car vary depending upon source but Hans Tanner and Doug Nye will do me.

The chassis was Tipo 500 (other sources say 500 or 625) fitted with a specially tuned version of a Tipo 625 sportscar engine bored from 2.5 to 2.6 litres. A Super Squalo Tipo 555 5-speed transmission was used to give a lower seating position and a neat body incorporating a Lancia D50 fuel tank completed the car.

When entered in events Pat described it as a Ferrari 625 and listed the capacity as 2996cc.

Pat Hoare portrait from Des Mahoney’s Rothmans book of NZ Motor Racing (S Dalton Collection)

Special thanks…

Eric Stevens and his stunning article and photographs

Photo Credits…

Allan Dick/Classic Auto News, Graham Guy, Mike Feisst, Stephen Dalton Collection, autopics.com

Bibliography…

‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, grandprix.com, the Late David McKinney on ‘The Roaring Season’, Motorsport February 2013 article ‘The Old Man and the Kiwi’ by Doug Nye

Tailpieces…

(M Feisst)

The NZ built ‘Ferrari GTO’ pretty in its own way but not a patch on the genuine article without the extra wheelbase of the ‘real deal’.

 

(E Stevens)

Bag em up Pat…

Finito…

Oils ain’t Oils…

Posted: February 4, 2020 in Features, Obscurities
Tags:

(M Bisset)

The very first motor racing magazines i perused were these ‘Castrol Achievements ‘ booklets given to me by a mate’s father when I was 10 or eleven years old, I still have them 50 years later…

Ronald John Roberts was a mighty fine man, a senior executive of Castrol Australia, he commenced his career in Melbourne and was progressively posted to Adelaide and finally Sydney in the mid-seventies where he finished his long career with the company. His son and I were buddies for decades, the same duo took me to my first race meeting in 1972, I have my lifelong passion for our sport thanks to them, they cultivated and nurtured my initial interest.

Soon the Castrol copy of ‘Racing Car News’, the Australian monthly racing bible came my way a couple of months late after it had done the rounds of their execs but that didn’t matter to me.

When Jon Saltinstall popped up some images from this long running series of corporate promotional annuals on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ it really did make me rather misty-eyed for times, friends and events long since past.

I love his summary of the history of the publications and their purpose.

Jon wrote, ‘During the 1950s and 1960s, a series of advertising booklets was produced by the likes of Shell, Ferodo and Castrol, which as well as being quite successful commercially also contributed in no small way to many a schoolboy dream. The longest-running and most successful of these was produced by CC Wakefield Ltd and although its title varied from year to year, is known generally as the “Castrol Achievements Book”.’

‘The Achievements book was produced as an annual and was first published in 1912 to publicise the racing and record-breaking activities on land, sea and air – all those depicted having been attained using Castrol lubricants, of course, as these were after all, advertising booklets. Wakefield had of course been one of the sport’s first commercial benefactors and one of the first to understand the value of endorsement of his products by household names.’

‘Although other companies would produce similar “Achievements” books, only those produced by Shell (1950-1964?), BP (1955?-1964?) and also brake company Ferodo are of similar note to the Castrol publications. The BP effort was similarly orientated across a range of disciplines as the Castrol booklets, while those by Shell and Ferodo were primarily orientated towards Grand Prix racing, which was hardly surprising as both companies were heavily involved in this category.’

1968

‘Looking back at these little (22cm x 13 cm, c. 46-48 pages) booklets, what strikes the reader about the Castrol Achievements Books in particular (and probably what endeared them to motoring enthusiasts) is that they are filled with excellent photographs, often unavailable elsewhere. The fact that they were available free on request from local Castrol companies was no doubt a big point in their favour, especially when – in a particularly clever piece of marketing – for a time one would also receive a free lubrication chart for the car or motorcycle of choice.’

‘The Castrol Achievements Book also benefitted from superb cover artwork (including paintings by including Michael Turner and Gordon Horner amongst others). I understand it was still being published in the new millennium so its longevity was way beyond anything achieved by its rivals. A little-mentioned artefact these days, but possibly an introduction to the sport for a number of TNFers?’ Saltinstall concluded.

So let’s share some of the artwork from the annuals- I was going to do it chronologically but visually it’s better to jump around across the decades as the art direction changed every several years rather than annually so a look of sameness in patches pervades using the year by year in order approach.

Do assist if you know what the featured machine is, I certainly don’t have all the answers.

1909-1959

Percy Lambert’s Talbot? and MG EX181 depicted.

John Cooper/Bill Aston Cooper at Montlhery.

 

Dan Gurney’s #48 Eagle Weslake-Ford at Indianapolis and a Ferrari 250LM at Le Mans.

Dan’s Ford-Weslake engines; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/14/gurney-weslake-ford-v8/

 

 

1957. Ford Zephyr Mk2 of Cuth Harrison during the Tulip Rally.

 

Clearly a race in France but Grands Prix races were thin on the ground in there at the time and I can’t make the Voiturette race results work for me…it’s red so a Maserati perhaps.

Fast Freddie’s Maserati; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/16/fast-freddy/

 

Not so flash is it.

 

1954 depicts the debut and return to racing of Mercedes Benz- the W196 is shown at Reims, a win for JM Fangio in July, Karl Kling in another Mercedes Streamliner was second in a dominant performance and a portent of what was to come. https://primotipo.com/2015/10/09/mercedes-benz-w196-french-gp-1954/

 

Isle of Man is the obvious guess but which outfit? Piece on the 1950 IOM meeting; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/21/1950-isle-of-man-tt/

 

Monte Carlo Rally finish in the streets of the principality, car shown is the winning Paddy Hopkirk/Henry Liddon Morris Cooper S.

Cooper S in the Monte; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/29/monte-carlo-rally-1967-morris-cooper-s/

 

 

Roy Savadori’s Aston Martin DB3S depicted in 1955, not sure which event- it ain’t Le Mans. Article on Roy here;

https://primotipo.com/2018/02/22/roy-salvadori/

Some good stuff in this shot including Piers Courage and his Frank Williams Racing Brabham BT30 Ford FVA F2 car and Sid Taylor’s Lola T70 Mk3B Chev.

 

1960- Pat Moss-Carlsson and Ann Wisdom-Ross won the five day Liege-Rome-Liege in a works Austin Healey 3000 in August/September.

 

 

Captain GET Eyston in ‘Thunderbolt’.

On 15 September 1938 Eyston raised the record he had set the year before from 312.00mph to 345.50mph at Bonneville. This was the tit-for-tat 1937-1939 period of the duel for the LSR between Eyston and John Cobb’s Reid-Railton.

 

The Queens lube of choice it seems.

 

1959, love this image of a hill-climbing Cooper with the  wheels adopting all of the angles so typical of the 500s.

 

 

 

I’m not so sure Castrol provided lubricants to Ferrari in 1952 but we seem to be celebrating the sensational Ferrari 500s which were so dominant in the World Championship that year, Alberto Ascari the winner. First lap of the Belgian Grand Prix depicted.

Ferrari 500 piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

 

1962 Monte Carlo Rally Pat Moss/Ann Wisdom 26th placed Morris Cooper.

 

1956 MG record breaking- EX179 with Stirling Moss huddled over its wheel- wonderful image with the cameraman in shot at left giving some additional drama and perspective.

 

Some interesting stuff here too- Mikkola’s Ford Escort Mexico, the Bud Moore Trans-Am Boss Mustangs, Jacky Ickx’ BMW Dornier F2 car and a Chevron Ford Coupe.

 

An Alfa Romeo 158 bearing down on a green car in 1950- Giuseppe Farina took the first drivers world championship for the Portello marque that year. Farina/158 in brief; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/14/things-go-better-with/

 

1963 shows the ‘Around The World In 43 Days’ Ford Corsair crewed by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers in a Walter Hayes publicity exercise. The amazing adventure is recounred in Eric Jackson’s book ‘Petrol in in My Blood’.

 

 

1963 for both the above two shots- this one shows Rhodesian, Jim Redman’s Honda RC164 winning the IOM Junior TT at 94.91mph- he was six minutes ahead of the second placed Gilera of John Hartle.

 

 

(Gordon Horner)

1961 Monte Carlo Rally, Ann Hall’s Ford Anglia.

 

Record breaking Healeys in 1953. https://primotipo.com/2019/06/08/austin-healey-100s-streamliner/

 

Dan Gurney’s Eagle Mk1 Weslake was a competitive force in 1967 winning the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in a great test of both his Len Terry designed chassis and Weslake built V12 engine, and the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. Piece on the Eagle Mk1; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/19/eagle-mk1-climax-101/

Credits…

Castrol, Jon Saltinstall on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’

Tailpiece…

Finito…