Archive for the ‘News/Events’ Category

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

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

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

King T35B #BC134

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

Murdoch T30 and T57C Atalante

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

Cripes these dudes use their cars!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ooh-la-la indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert’s T37 at Reefton Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a weekend.

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

Credits and Commerce…

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

The photographs are all mine, with one exception.

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

Tailpieces…

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

(B King)

Finito…

Brian Higgins’ BMW Z4 on the exit of the Viaduct

The Longford Motorama, in recent times an annual Labour Day long-weekend event, is an important date in the Tasmanian motorsport calendar to keep the 1953-1968 Longford road-racing memory alive.

I ducked back to the South Island for a few days. Rob Knott, Justin Brown and their merry band of helpers organised a display of racing cars and bikes and special interest cars at the Village Green, 500-metres from the Country Club Hotel aka Pub Corner on Sunday 7, 2021.

There were plenty of stalls selling all kinds of goodies, a Tongan Band did a great job on entertainment and two ‘around the block demos’ by the competition cars and bikes halfway through the day, and towards its end kept the punters happy.

John Talbot’s Harry Firth built #53 Triumph Ausca Special has been the visual in the window feature of the Country Club Hotel for a couple of decades but has been repatriated from its imprisonment in the last few weeks (M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

Belles of the Ball were Rob Knott’s just completed restoration of one of the two Repco-Brabham Rice Trailers used to cart the cars raced by Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme during the 1967 Tasman Series in both New Zealand and Australia- and a Holden tow-car. The ‘HR’ Panel-Van wasn’t one of the cars used back then but a car which took Rob three years to find and rebuild.

At some point Jack Brabham’s BT23A, his ‘67 Tasman Mount (and winner at Longford that year) now owned by the National Motor Museum, and this rig will meet- what a special day that will be.

The other belle was Chas Kelly’s ex-Clark/Geoghegan ‘66 Tasman Lotus 39 Climax which always gives me goose-bumps. It was a static but stunning display car on Sunday.

Repco-Brabham works 1967 entourage- one of two rigs used in NZ and Oz during that seasons full-on assault on the Tasman. It was the only year, during Jack’s Repco-Brabham Engines phase, from 1966 to 1969 when Jack (and Denny that year) did all of the Tasman series rounds in an attempt to win it- Jim Clark won in a Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2-litre V8. Car is a Brabham BT21 (M Bisset)

 

1966 Lotus 39 Climax FPF 2.5. Famous car raced with great skill by Jim Clark and Leo Geoghegan from 1966 to 1970. Arguably its greatest win was in Leo’s hands- the 1969 JAF Japanese GP in Repco 830 V8 engined spec (M Bisset)

The highlight of the day were trips to three of the corners- Tannery, Mountford and The Viaduct via a fleet of four or five large mini-buses.

It was a get-on, get-off to have a walk and look around and then get-on again to go to the next destination arrangement which worked terrifically well.

Knott has stunning attention to detail. At each locale there were information boards, a car/bike or two and one or two drivers/riders from the day to explain all ‘yer wanted to know. In addition, at The Viaduct there were Longford videos and a refreshment van. Brilliant.

Tannery corner display, motorcycle historian/author Ken Young manned this spot. Where the tent is would be about the exit point from this second-gear in a Tasman car right-hander. The folks are walking on the straight towards the fast left hander before Long Bridge (M Bisset)

 

Part of the Viaduct display- Wayne Double’s ex-Jane/Bruno Carosi tribute Jag Mk2 looked grand as did an Anglia similar to the one Phil Brooke raced- and beached nearby in the day. Both drivers (Carosi and Brooke) were on hand to talk to we punters (M Bisset)

It was great to meet Chas Kelly, Ellis French and John Talbot and have long chats with Randall Langdon and a couple of his mates (all the gen on Pat Stride’s Gremlins), Brian Higgins, Phil Brooke, Neil Kearney and Justin Brown.

Kearney, prominent Longford born national sports-broadcaster is making great progress with his Longford book. He and Geoff Harris were busy gathering additional information and anecdotes- pre Xmas this year is realistic timing for the sale of what will be a ripper book by two pro-journos and Longford dudes who attended the event many times in the day.

In the past week the ABC ‘Backroads’ team have been gathering material for a TV show on Longford (generally, not just the racing) so keep an eye out for that on the tello next year. It will be episode one in early 2022. We had dinner with Heather Ewart, the journo who presents the show, and the team of three who are on the road thirty weeks of the year to create an always interesting show from all over Oz.

David Sternberg on the hop during 1964, Cooper T51 Climax (M Bisset)

My final plug is for Stephen Mott’s ‘The Penguin Hillclimb’ book.

I bought a copy from Stephen and his wife who were selling the book from the boot of their car at the gig. Penguin is a small village on Tassie’s north-west coast which had a seven-tenths of a mile hillclimb operational from 1955 to 1971.

It’s very much a buy folks- 196 pages, hard-cover with high production and design standards. 200-plus hi-res photographs, 97.5% I’ve never seen before. The format is meeting date chronological with break-outs throughout on notable cars and drivers. $50 plus postage, email Stephen on penguinhillclimb@gmail.com.

Great news for enthusiasts is that the Longford Motor Racing Museum which has been pushed hard but quietly over the last couple of years by Rob Knott and Justin Brown is getting closer to fruition. ‘Tis said Scomo is after spade-ready projects with council support- watch this space over the next few months.

One of the more amusing parts of the day and the spirit of the times was Frank Manley’s account of racing his FE Holden, which he retains, at the ’62 meeting. He rocked up with his wife and kids aboard, unloaded them, practiced and raced, camping inside the circuit at the Mill Dam reserve and then drove the team home again to Hobart at the end of an enjoyable weekend.

At this point Chas Kelly interjected to point out that Frank is one of Tasmania’s most famous motorists, and owner of the states equally famous HQ Holden Monaro GTS.

When the pissed-captain of the Lake Illawarra bulk-ore carrier ship took out the middle sections of Hobart’s Tasman Bridge in January 1975, Frank was one of two motorists to stop, front-wheels over the precipice, with the Derwent River 45-metres below.

Sadly, his attempts to flag down five other motorists as they came over the bridge were to no avail, all plunged to tragic deaths. Oh yes, he still owns the Munro too.

(B Short)

Etcetera…

 

(M Bisset)

Sex on wheels, or thereabouts.

The late John Dawson-Damer did the real hard work restoring the Lotus 39 back to the specifications in which it was raced by Clark and Geoghegan in 1966, thirty years ago. Kelly gave it another birthday 15 years or so ago when he acquired it. See here for a feature on the car; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

Lotus 25/33 chassis R12, type 39 chassis 1, if that makes sense (M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

Tannery Corner info board. The main photo if you can see it, shows an unusual view of Tannery with the bikes coming towards us along Tannery Straight.

On the right, in the distance, is the Tannery building which still exists as a posh home or B&B. None of the circuit maps show it, but there is a harry-flatters-in-top kink to the right out front of that building.

(M Bisset)

Holden Haitch-Rrrrr and Haitch-D Panel Vans. Knott’s attention to detail in this exercise fantastic.

Takes me back to the Monash Uni students car park in the mid-seventies when these mobile shaggin’-wagons were very popular and cheap.

(M Bisset)

Viaduct vista.

The cars came down the hill and turned left under the first arch where the info-board is being inspected. The dual-lane carriageway, which was part of massive road-works and water levee banks throughout flood-prone Longford, can be seen beyond the second arch.

(M Bisset)

About all that is left of Long Bridge sadly.

Good news on the bridge front is that there is a proposal before the Northern Midlands Council for construction of a pedestrian and bike bridge in the location of the old Kings Bridge.

From our perspective this would allow easy access from Longford village along Union Street, then over the bridge towards the Viaduct on your walking tour of the circuit. It won’t be possible to walk all the way to the marvellous railway edifice though- it is on private land, the MacKinnon’s ‘Mountford’ property.

Trains use the Viaduct and bridge over the South Esk River daily on trips to and from Hobart and Launceston. The Viaduct is not in danger of being knocked over while trains operate, only freight trains these days mind you.

Finito…

 

I’ve written a feature In the current Auto Action #1803 on Dan Gurney’s win in the 1961 Victorian Trophy aboard his works BRM P48 at Ballarat Airfield.

He and Graham Hill raced at Ardmore, NZ, Warwick Farm and Ballarat that summer. Dan’s win was an interesting one in his last BRM drive- it was his first international victory and the only one for the P48 on the last occasion the machine was raced in works hands.

It’s a nice piece, but then I would say that.

For us historic nutters there is also the first in a two-part series on Tim Schenken written by Mark Fogarty. This issue covers his formative years to F1, the next one his Ferrari sportscar drives, Tiga period with Howden Ganley and beyond.

Other standout reads in the sixty page issue are five pages on F1, four on the year ahead for F1, Indycar, F2/3, Moto GP and Taxis, two pages on Oz international Scott Andrews with whom I was unfamiliar and coverage of the Monte, Dakar and the Symmons meeting I was lucky enough to attend a week ago. Plenty of maxi-taxis too of course.

If you haven’t read fifty-years-young Auto Action for a while give us a whirl.

Hopefully the Tasmanian Back to Back Double-Banger season openers at Symmons and Baskerville become a fixture- lets hope so. It makes so much sense on all levels, get you bums down there next year if you can.

The racing was great, imbibing Longford for a cuppla days was magic not to forget some great Tassie touring, sun on the sand and a shandy or three. It was heaven on a stick really.

(unattributed but very keen to know the ‘snapper)

The more you look the more you see. All the fun of the fair. Longford AGP weekend March 1965.

Jack Brabham waits for the pressures in his Goodyears to be adjusted, Brabham BT11A Climax. That’s Roy Billington with hands on hips to the left and Bib Stillwell hovering- his new Brabham BT11A Climax is to the right. Next in line is the ill-fated #12 Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax of Rocky Tresise.

Further along, obscured near the pit counter, is the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM with Lynn Archer’s #20 Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5 on the painted line. The light coloured car at the end of the queue is Frank Matich’ Brabham BT7A Climax.

Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T79 Climax  won this tragic March 1 race, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Credits…

Auto Action

Finito…

Just when i thought my pre-war Oz racing history may get a pass mark, Smailes comes along and bursts that bubble.

The last bloke to do that was John Medley, his list of early Australian international racers in ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ had me running a long list of fellas to Google.

John Smailes new book is a wonderful, skilfully crafted yarn about ‘Australia and New Zealand’s quest to win the Indy 500’. Some garnish is added to the drivers by inclusion of the likes of Barry Green and Steve Horne who joined teams as mechanics and ended up running the show.

I knew about Jack, Chris and Denny but not really the rest. Indy has not had huge appeal to me. One could argue that Indycars is the toughest of all the elite open-wheeler classes given its unique challenges of road-racing and super-speedways not least Indy.

John has become prolific in recent times with works including the history of CAMS (which is a mighty fine summary of Oz racing since day dot), the ’68 London-Sydney, Allan Moffat, Mount Panorama and now Indy with ‘Speed Kings’.

The book is an eminently readable yarn chockers with heaps of factual material including wonderful contextual stuff about the US auto industries need for, and then embracement of The Brickyard. John interviewed over 50 of his subjects or related parties in 2020. He didn’t lock down his final copy until a couple of days after this years 500 so it is right up to date.

Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Chris Amon, Kevin Bartlett, Graham McRae, Vern Schuppan, Geoff Brabham, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Matt Brabham and James Davison are all here together with tales of their commercial and race (or non-race) challenges interwoven with Indycar politics and evolution. There are others too but i don’t want to spoil those surprises.

Make sure the chief or the kids pop it in your Xmas stocking. It’s a ripper book.

I’ve popped it straight into my Oz Key Reference Collection which lives in my kitchen. There is little point in cook-books if boiling water is a culinary achievement, you are beyond Margie Fulton’s help right? If you can get the ankle-biters under control on the 27th, Boxing Day is a tad optimistic, you should be able to knock it over in a long but enjoyable day. Have the odd frothy after midday to assist.

Rupert Jeffkins is the dude who caused the fail on my Pre-War Oz Racing History exam paper BTW.

Rupert Jeffkins and Ralph de Palma push their wounded Mercedes towards the finish line at Indy in 1912

 

Whaddya do starved of media buzz when the lights go off simultaneously around the globe? Think of a great cost effective promotional idea like this.

The Australian S5000 guys, SS Media have come up with the notion of applying retro liveries to the silhouette of their new 5 litre Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford V8 rockets- and doesn’t this late 1971 early 1972 Matich A50 Repco scheme look sensational- remove the halo and its perfect! My S5000 piece is here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

The photograph is Frank Matich on the way to winning the November 1971 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm in his just finished, very first race Matich A50 Repco F5000- but for the VHT and Hoosier branding the livery is period kosher. Matich’s F5000 career in terms of cars and competition results is here at length; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Not to forget Ansett Team Elfin circa 1977, Alec Mildren Racing circa 1970 or Equipe Graham McRae circa 1972.

Luvvit.

Credits…

SS Media, autopics.com.au

Tailpiece…

Finito…

 

(M Bisset)

 

Motorclassica must be the top-gun car display and concours in Australia these days…

Held at Carlton’s Exhibition Buildings, it’s just outside the city grid so has great access, the punters have been out in droves given some magic Melbourne Spring weather.

Its not really my thing, the racing content is not what the event is all about but a freebie ticket from Bob King, one of the concours judges changed my mind and got me in the door early, well before parents and kidlets dominated as the day unfolded.

 

Stan Jones, Maybach 1 ahead of the Gib and Alf Barrett driven, BWA Frazer Nash Spl during the 1953 AGP at Albert Park (Dacre Stubbs Archive is my guess)

 

One of the beauties of the thing is that there is something for everyone- current road exotica, car club displays in the capacious grounds outside, ‘classics’ ranging from ‘art deco’ which was a theme this year, through to American muscle-cars of the sixties and seventies as well as racers.

From a racing perspective ‘we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Australian Grand Prix’- which was great as a swag of cars from the 1928 Phillip Island ‘100 Miles Road Race’, subsequently claimed as the first Australian Grand Prix, and adjacent Phillip Island GP events made a great display.

The faux pas, to say the least, is that most of us with an interest in Australian motor racing history now recognise the first AGP, in name and actuality, if not substance, as the January 1927 event of that very name held at Goulburn in New South Wales.

 

Aston DBR1- if it wasn’t on a tow truck you could see the whole car rather than this peek-a-boo (M Bisset)

 

Flouro in your face US homologation muscle cars a nice contrast to Euro subtlety! (M Bisset)

 

‘Morrie’ vans near the Nicholson Street Exhibitions Buildings entrance. I well remember the ‘Baker Boy’ bread man home delivering his wares with one of these vans in the, ahem, sixties (M Bisset)

 

It seems that some of the Victorian motoring establishment, and it is such conservative folks who own and are the organisers and officials of this event, are intent on ignoring ‘the majority’ including the Confederation of Australian Motorsport who recognise Goulburn and have moved on. Scratch the surface and state based rivalry is never too far away in our Commonwealth of Australia!

I took a million photos with my trusty iPhone, I think the best approach is to pop a few up today to give you the flavour of the gig as well as some favourites rather than carpet-bomb you with 300 happy snaps! Some of the AGP cars present lend themselves to juxtaposition of Bob King’s period race shots and the same cars now, so treat this as Motorclassica 1.

 

Tom Roberts’ Maserati 6CM (M Bisset)

 

If I had to pick one car of the show it’s the Tom Roberts owned ex-Johnny Wakefield Maserati 6CM-1500 Voiturette, chassis ‘1546’, just restored marvellously by David Rapley.

It gets the blend of originality and patination spot on, I love the fact we don’t do ‘chrome and shiny’ restos of cars which never appeared that way in period, in Oz. Tom Roberts has done great justice to a car which has not seen the light of day for decades.

 

(M Bisset)

 

This short history of the car is courtesy of an article I have truncated a bit by G Jackson published in the Victorian Vintage Sports Car Club magazine, received via Bob King.

‘Johnny Wakefield, a wealthy young Englishman and top racing driver of the pre-War period…took delivery of the Maserati in June 1937, he was 22 years old.

One of 27 built, the car featured a six-cylinder supercharged engine, with twin OHC of 1993cc capacity, developing 155bhp.

In his race debut in the car at the 1937 Florence Grand Prix, Wakefield was unplaced, but in his dozens of appearances in European Grands Prix, Donington, Phoenix Park and Crystal Palace he achieved a number of placings.

In April 1938, Wakefield crashed at Cork in Ireland but he and the car escaped serious damage. The Maserati was not driven again as Wakefield bought a new racing mount, ERA R14B.

During the war he flew as a test pilot for Vickers Armstrong while serving for the Fleet Air Arm, but was killed in a plane crash in 1942, a couple of weeks after his 27th birthday…’

 

(M Bisset)

 

‘After the 1938 accident the engine was removed from the car and sent back to Maserati for overhaul, but the war intervened. The car languished at Brooklands until 1940, when, under Wakefield’s instructions, Rex Tilbrook, an Australian and Wakefield’s mechanic, shipped it to Port Adelaide. As importation duties would not be paid by representatives of the Wakefield Estate, the Maserati remained in a crate on the dock for a number of years.

When acquired in 1943 by Bill Brookes of Adelaide the car was complete apart from the engine, gearbox and steering box with some accident damage to the rear of the body and chassis, and still wearing its Cork racing number 34. Brookes rebuilt the chassis and body and in 1947 sold the car to Frank Kleinig still missing the engine, gearbox and steering box’.

 

Beautiful 6CM body hides a 1.5 litre, DOHC, 2 valve six-cylinder supercharged engine and 4 speed Fiat derived gearbox (M Bisset)

 

‘Kleinig had the intention to instal the supercharged 8 cylinder Miller engine that he had removed from the Kleinig Special to fit the first Hudson motor, but the car lay untouched until the Maserati body was transferred to the Kleinig Hudson in 1954.

Alf Blight of Adelaide bought the Maserati from Kleinig as he already owned another Maserati 6CM, chassis #’1542′, but #’1546’ was later purchased by Tom Roberts who had bought the Kleinig Hudson from Kleinig’s Estate in 1992.

‘Roberts has been able to source the original engine from Edinburgh, and a gearbox from Japan. Now with the original body fitted and the car meticulously restored by David Rapley, the magnificent Maserati is about to speak for the first time in 80 years since the Cork mishap…on display at Motorclassica’.

 

(D Rapley)

 

Since first writing this article the cars restorer David Rapley sent these two engine photographs of the 6CM, his comment ‘In the absence of the correct carburettor a two inch SU set down, twin bowl set up for alcohol was used. We received no help from anyone world-wide and had to work from pictures in books’- the result truly stunning.

 

(D Rapley)

 

One of the great things about the day was meeting up with so many online buddies- Facebook, The Nostalgia Forum and primotipo has been great that way, that internet thingy is such a connector of kindred spirits. Bob King, Pat and Conor Ryan, Nigel Tait and his wife, Nathan Tasca, Tony Lupton, Phil Zmood and James Lambert were all folks i caught up with, only Stephen Dalton and Mike Gasking were there but we missed the connects.

 

Alan Jones looking pretty fit, and ‘muttering rotter’ Mark Fogarty (M Bisset)

 

Whilst wandering with James and his impressive armoury of cameras and lenses we watched Alan Jones being interviewed by Mark Fogarty, a local racing journo, the interview had substance rather than being at the ‘whaddit that Eff-Wun car do Jonesy? dull-shit boring end of the spectrum.

The boy from Balwyn’s toughest opponents were Nelson Piquet and Gilles Villeneuve ‘who was mad and never going to die in bed’ with Jones talking at length about that horrible last day for the acrobatic Canadian at Zolder.

His two Ferrari misfires were amusingly told- the first offer to join the famous Scuderia the occasion when Gilles got the drive Alan thought was his when Andretti re-signed for Lotus- that one turned out rather well for Alan as he fell into the nascent Williams team of Frank and Patrick Head. The second was when AJ messed them around when they wanted the retired Aussie to replace the injured Pironi, a drive which went Mario’s way- he popped the Ferrari on pole at Monza in the first of those rides, much to Jones’ chagrin!

 

Paul Faulkner’s ex-Jones Williams FW07- directly in front the ex-Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax and alongside the Lotus a Brabham Climax Tasman car forgotten which (M Bisset)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the top- ex-Piquet 1981 AGP Ralt RT4 Ford F Pacific, ex-Jones 1980 Williams FW07B Ford, ex-Bowe/Hunt Elfin MR8C Chev F5000 and ex-Allen/Bartlett McLaren M10B Chev F5000 (M Bisset)

He candidly admitted he retired from F1, the first time, too early at the end of 1981 ‘the first Victorian winter at Glenburn 80 Km from Melbourne (where AJ bought the pub and a farm) convinced me to move to the Gold Coast’.

A question about current F1 elicited a long response about the aero rules in particular, and their impact on the lack of overtaking, he didn’t talk about the mechanical package but said the need to bring back passing, spectacle and glamour was paramount. The grid girls got a 3 minute burst- to bring them back, his final riposte, politically incorrect as ever, ‘but why bother, they will all be wearing burkhas in a couple of years anyway’!

 

The Trumpster would approve, no fake news or Ruskies here (M Bisset)

 

Wowee. Alfa Romeo 6C2300 Mille Miglia (M Bisset)

 

An absolute jaw-dropper is the Alfa 6C2300 Mille Miglia Spyder, it first broke cover for me at an Alfa Club Concours a few years ago, the local restoration completed about 5 years ago.

Amazing to see young kids totally unfamiliar with Alfa Romeo, Vittorio Jano and Zagato’s work drawn to it like bees to a honey-pot- it’s sensuous lines are just oh-so-visually arresting whatever your age or automotive knowledge base.

 

(M Bisset)

 

Singers have been on my mind for the last month or so, it was great to meet young Bendigo enthusiast Nathan Tasca who has helped with some recent articles.

He is in the process- with his father from whom he inherited his Singer passion, in restoration of a car which is now objectively assessed as being the Singer 9 Sports which Bob Lea-Wright won the 1934 AGP at Phillip Island. Lea-Wright’s family, and Bob King and his archive have assisted in both the identification process and details of the cars specification event to event.

 

Nathan Tasca’s 1934 AGP winning Singer 9 Sports is coming along nicely with a flurry of activity to get it to the show- engine and ‘box fitted (M Bisset)

 

John Lawson’s Delahaye D6/70S is a local ‘Figoni and Falaschi’ build on an imported chassis, but hey, what a car. Interested to learn more about it.

 

(M Bisset)

 

Of the racing stuff you can never see enough of the ex-Clark 1966 Tasman car- Lotus 39 Climax.

This machine’s entire racing history has been in Australasia, it’s reassuring it’s still here, James tells me Chas Kelly has given the car another ‘birthday’ in recent times inclusive of a new crank.

 

Chas Kelly Lotus 39 Climax- who can criticise John Dawson-Damer restoring it so well to its original plus one spec- that is not in Climax Flat 16 stillborn form but as raced by Clark in the 1966 Tasman 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF engined- Me?, i lusted after it in 1967/8 Repco ‘740’ engined spec as raced by Leo Geoghegan (M Bisset)

 

Earlier but more importantly in the Lotus pantheon, as Col’s first Grand Prix Lotus (whilst duly noting its primary purpose as an F2 machine), is Mike Bennett’s Lotus 12 Climax.

With seat removed is was great to get a squizz at the cars ‘Queerbox’ and driveline. Too perfect to race, it is used in demonstration type events occasionally, an impressive run in Adelaide’s Victoria Park event springs to mind a few years ago.

 

Lotus 12 Climax FPF 2 litre (M Bisset)

 

Secrets revealed- Lotus 12 ‘Queerbox’, delicate spaceframe and Chapman Strut rear suspension. Chassis ‘353’ ex-Hill (M Bisset)

 

By Harley Earl or one of his acolytes- the subtlety of the thing is what blows one away…and the size (M Bisset)

 

From a Repco Brabham perspective, two Art Valdez cars have come to Australia- Aaron Lewis has acquired Brabham BT23E Repco, Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount and Nigel Tait Brabham BT17, a sportscar ‘it’s fitted with a ‘740’ and I think has a 5 litre crank but we shall see when I pull it down’ said Nigel with a very big smile upon his face!

 

Nigel Tait’s just outta the container last week ex-Brabham BT17 Repco ‘740’ (M Bisset)

 

Aaron Lewis’ ex-Brabham/Harvey 1968 Tasman Brabham BT23E Repco (M Bisset)

 

There is and was, much, much more, but let’s save that for bite-size slices for other times…

 

Bob King and his latest in a long line of Bugatti restorations- the Ettore designed Peugeot ‘Bebe’. We must get him to write about this car (M Bisset)

 

Lotsa Lambos, Ferraris, Porkers and McLarens (M Bisset)

 

Tailpiece: Perky little minx- Lotus 12 Climax…

 

(M Bisset)

Three sixties single-seater cars seductively in the distance are Adam Berryman’s ex-McLaren/Mayer/Hill Cooper T70, a Brabham BT7A and the Clark Lotus 39.

Finito…

primo

This blog or ‘online magazine’ as some have described it is growing which is nice, it doesn’t really matter mind you as it’s primary purpose is to ‘keep me off the streets at night’. Its secondary purpose is to teach an ‘old dog’ a few new tricks about the digital world in which we all live. I’ve learned a lot frigging round with the thing which i have applied in my day job!

Funny thing is I thought the readers would be Australian given the ‘core content’ but most of you, 92% to be precise are from countries yonder. Great! It’s global this internet thingy.

Regulars will have worked out the content is eclectic, which is partially a reflection of my automotive tastes and also down to ‘a photo spotted’ driving topic choice. No great logic, just the way it is!

It’s not an interactive forum mind you, Facebook is.

I’m on FB, in fact my journey to the blog was via FB which is good but has it’s limitations in terms of exploring things in depth. With the blog I am not hindered by word limits, some of the articles are ‘epic’ in size if not quality.

So check me out on FB. Key primotipo.com into the FB search engine, ‘like me’ and you will get the stuff I upload, which is every day or so, many of you already do.

Suss the motorsport groups on FB for the interactivity they offer; key into the FB search engine your car or form of racing of choice, i guarantee you will find a global group of like minded enthusiasts.

In fact the whole thing for me started with one of my first subjects, ex-Australian International Racer Buzz Buzaglofriending me’ into a couple of FB groups he was in. The ‘Tasman Racing Cars’, ‘F5000 Australia’ and ‘F5000 Racing Cars’ groups for example have many ex-mechanics, engineers and drivers loitering with intent to correct the ‘i reckons’ of fellow enthusiasts which is great, its content rich.

I’m on Instagram too, but if you follow primo on FB you’ve got it covered, Instagram would be a double up really. Hard to keep up with it all ‘innit- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, plus the online forums each of us like, not to forget good ole text messages via Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Skype has it’s place too. And emails. Bizarre really.

See you there?!…

Mark Bisset

stratos

 

montreal

Spring has well and truly sprung in Australia, it brings lots of good things; The AFL Grand Final at the MCG, Bathurst 1000, Motorclassica, Melbourne Cup, Moto GP at Phillip Island and lots of Car Club Concours events…

I’m not talking Pebble Beach, not my cup of tea at all, its much more owner display stuff, a nice way to spend a couple of hours. On Sunday 29 November 2015 the Alfa Club and Porsche 356 Register had events on adjoining ovals at Wesley College in St Kilda Road, Melbourne, a good ‘dropkick’ from Albert Park for those of you who have attended the AGP.

grey college

grey car

Alfa 2000 Spyder ‘Touring’ acquired by an Aussie in Brescia and apparently restored there. Very nice cruiser! 1975cc DOHC 4 cylinder 113bhp@5700rpm. 5 speed ‘box, drums front and rear.

grey cockpit

grey guard

2300 front

2300 engine

Alfa 8C2300 Corto Replica…’Pursang’ Argentinian car, 4 or 5 years old now and used a lot so now has some patina. I’ve no issue with Replicas…as long as the punters who own the things make it clear they are. Even the seriously wealthy can’t afford real stuff like this, one of these is on my ‘dream on’ list, so its a sensible way to experience, at circa $A300K! what the real McCoy is like.

I wrote an article on the 8C2300/Monzas a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2014/10/09/antonio-brivio-targa-florio-1933-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

2300 cockpit

2300 side

8C2300 in foreground. Car the ‘snapper’ is leaning against is called a 6C2300 Mille Miglia by the owner. Circa 185bhp from a blown engine. Acquired in Argentina some 30 years ago, car used a lot, as they should be

Our Historic Racing Regulations in Australia are the strictest in the world, which is a good thing.

A car like the 8C2300 or even a ‘Cameron Millar’ Maserati 250F cannot get a CAMS historic logbook/’certificate of description’ to race here.

Mind you, the only 250F in Oz is a CM 250F. I would love to see it being raced and would create a class(es) so Replicas can run but are overtly described as such. Some of the crap which races in Oz from overseas in the AGP and Phillip Island meetings is laughable in terms of specification. That is, not resembling the spec of the car ‘in period’ if in fact the car existed ‘in period’!

356 front

This 1951 356 Cab is especially stunning. Chassis # 10110, built on 13 July 1951 is the first RHD car made by Porsche and one of the first cars imported by Norman Hamilton to Australia in September 1951

Hamilton famously secured the first Porsche franchise in the world, when on a European trip and cruising through the Alps was ’rounded up’ by Ferry Porsche at a fast pace in a very early car. Hamilton approached him at a roadside stop where Porsche was enjoying a coffee and a business deal followed which saw the marque flourish in Oz over the decades.

I wrote about son Alan Hamilton’s racing exploits a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

This car was raced, sprinted and hillclimbed in 1952/3 by Hamilton, Ken Harper and Ken McConville as part of a ‘brand-building’ program before being restored complete mit 1300 motor between 1990 and 1995.

356 cockpit

The information sheet says there are less than 20 1950 and 1951 model 356’s left in the world. Makes me laugh, the values of the things now, when i was a Uni student in the mid-seventies there were 3 0r 4 of em’ in the Monash University car park all beaten up, held together by ‘bog’, just a cheap car. If only!…

365 front

Tidy chassis’ both. Mid-sixties 365 GTC and owner both delightfully sculpted by Pininfarina. 1968, 4.4 litre ‘Colombo’ 320bhp V12, 5 speed ‘box. Beautifully balanced for a big car, Ferrari locating the gearbox and final drive at the rear.

365 back

365 wheel

montreal front

356 parade

911 e

Driving a 356 was a disappointment years ago but early-ish 911’s are a different kettle of fish. I had an ’85 Carrera 3.2, the last of the light, leaded-fuel cars as a daily driver for 7 years from ’97-2004, what a fantastic thing it was. Big enough to cart 3 growing boys around but a blast to enjoy every day. I still have left leg muscles which reflect the butch, beefy mechanical clutch! This is a 2.4E, nice. A  2.4S about as good as they get this side of a 2.7RS but prices are ‘nutso’.

356 red

montreanl butts

356 cockput 2

356 butts

8c and 4 c

miura front

Best of the Sixties to Finish? P400S Miura, Australian delivered RHD car, had more changes of color than most but oh so nice! 4 litre V12, circa 370bhp, mid mounted, 5 speed ‘box. Design team Gian Paolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani and development engineer, Kiwi Bob Wallace. Couture by Marcello Gandini. About as good as it gets.

miura detail

miura back

Photo Credits…

Mark Bisset and trusty iPad!

exhibition
‘Motorclassica’ is now 5 years old, although its the first time i have been, its a bit too road car oriented to pique my interest, but it was great. The assembly of Bugatti’s worth the effort alone, the highlight of that display the first public appearance in over 60 years of the T37A Bill Thomson drove to two AGP wins in 1930 and 1932…
The event comprises a motor show, themed each year, a Concours d’Elegance which is
one of only two Australian events nominated in the prestigious International Historic
Motoring Awards. There is also a tour through the city streets for Concours entrants, an auction and over 400 enthusiast owned cars on display in the Royal Exhibition Building’s surrounds.
The venue is in Melbourne’s CBD fringe, The Royal Exhibition Building erected in the Carlton Gardens for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880 showed the cars to great effect, a terrific backdrop with a sense of grandeur that is apt.
reb
Themes this year were celebrations of 50 Years of the Supercar, (defined as the build date of the Lambo Miura), the Shelby Mustang, the Ferrari Dino, the Bugatti Club Australia and 70 years of MV Agusta.
This post is largely pictorial with the exception of a tangent about the dual AGP winning Bugatti T37A and its driver Bill Thomson, which ‘broke cover’ at Motorclassica. I have not gone overboard with captions to ‘state the obvious’ only providing information where it may be of use…
porkers

ballot 1

Ballot 2LS

ballot 2

Ballot 2LS

ballot info

ballot steering

Ballot 2LS

art

(Artist; Martin de Lang)

miura 1
miura 3
 mv 1
mv 2

mv 3

1971 MV 150RSs: ‘Rapido Super Sport’ 4 stroke single cylinder pushrod OHV.

mv 4

MV 150 RSs

mv 5

1946 MV Agusta 98

mv 7

mv 6

MV 98

merc
 bentley 1
 bentley 2
 panorama
bug 1

bug 2

Bugs x 2: Nose of a T43 and front of T57

bug 4

Supercharged Bug 4 cylinder engine, maybe one of you can help me with the correct model, a Tourer.

Dual Australian Grand Prix Winner: Ex Bill Thomson Bugatti Type 37A Chassis ‘37358’…

37 1

Bugatti T37A ‘37358’ in all its part restored glory. This T37 victorious in 1930 and 1932 is the veteran of more Australian Grands Prix than most.

37 2

T37A ‘37358’37 3

As the owners summary of the car makes clear the cars attendance in Melbourne is the first time this significant Bugatti has ‘seen the light of day’ in public for over 60 years.

In Bob King’s ‘Australian Bugatti Register’ ‘37358’ is said to be ‘…possibly the most famous of all Australian racing Bugattis’. The following short history of the car is from John Blanden’s ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ is in addition to the short description above.

For the 1930 AGP the car was specially prepared with wire wheels and separate brake drums in place of the integral alloy equipment because of the roughness of Phillip Island’s gravel roads. After early plug trouble Bill Thomson was a comfortable winner in 3 hours 6 minutes, an average of 64mph in front of 6000 spectators, the ‘Island in those days a long way from Melbourne.

thommo island

Bill Thomson and car owner/riding mechanic Prof Arthur Burkitt, during their successful 1930 AGP win. Phillip Island. Bugatti T37A ‘37358’. (Bob King Collection)

In 1931 Hope Bartlett bought and raced the T37 but blew up with less than 7 miles to go whilst in the lead. Carl Junker won in a Bugatti T39.

For 1932 Thompson again raced the car which by this stage was owned by the Woolworth Tyre Company. It was off scratch giving 4 minutes to Carl Junker. Thomson won by 4 minutes having come through the field.

thommo

Bill Thomson before the off, AGP 1930, Phillip Island. Thomson won 3 AGP’s 1930 and 1932 in ‘37358’ and 1933 in a Riley Brooklands. Period experts rate Thomson and Alf Barrett as Australia’s greatest pre-War drivers, noting Alf raced post-war as well. Thomson certainly the more successful in terms of results. Thomson perished during the war in a Consolidated Coronado flying boat accident in the Marshall Islands enroute to Hawaii. A shot biography of Thomson is included as an addendum to this article. (Bob King Collection)

In October 1932 at the Mt Victoria Pass Hillclimb, in Sydney’s Blue Mountains, the car crashed heavily ‘as a result there have been suggestions that a replacement chassis was required, obtained and fitted but this has never been absolutely confirmed’.

Offered for sale but unsold, in May 1935 Thomson took the Australian Record for the Mile at 112.5 in the annual speed record attempts held near Canberra.

John Sherwood won the Australian 5 Mile Championship at Penrith Speedway in it, in Sydney’s outer west in 1936.

Tom Peters acquired it and raced it in the 1936 Australian Grand Prix (or 1937 Australian GP as has become the custom to call this event) at Victor Harbour, South Australia in December, retiring on lap 7.

‘37358’ was sold to New South Wales driver Ron Mackellar, shortly thereafter the cars engine blew and was replaced by a side-valve Ford V8, the car called the ‘Mackellar Special’. Raced at the 1938 AGP at Bathurst it finished 4 minutes behind Peter Whitehead’s victorious ERA R10B.

Wally James was driving the car during a qualifying heat of the Australian Speedway Championships at Penrith on Anzac Day, 25 April 1939 when he lost control and plunged into a group of spectators at over 90mph, killing 3 and injuring 39. James was shattered and never raced again, although a later enquiry showed the crowd sitting in front of safety fences.

Driven by Ken Laing for a while post war, the car was sold to ‘Gelignite Jack Murray’, a real character of the sport and so named for his antics with explosives in the Round Australia Trials of the period. Murray was successful in the now very old car, it contested the 1947 AGP at Bathurst, retiring with piston failure. Bill Murray won the race, Formula Libre and handicapped in those days in an MG TC.

mac spl

Bill MacLachlan in ‘37358’, by that stage the ‘Mackellar Spl’ at Bathurst , Easter 1949 just before its wild ride thru the bush due to a broken track rod. (Bob King Collection)

The car then passed through John Crouch’s and Bill MacLachlan’s hands, Bill had a lucky escape in the car upon his debut in it at Bathurst, Easter 1949. A broken track rod approaching Quarry Bend caused a wild ride down ‘the roadside bank missing solid trees by inches before it came to rest in a small clearing’.

mac pits

MacLachlan in T37A ‘37358’ Mackellar Spl Ford V8, Bathurst 1950. (Max Stahl Collection)

Little damage was done, the old war horse continued on racing, Ettore made em’ tough! through 1950 when it was timed over the flying quarter mile at Bathurst at 113.21mph. Into 1951 ‘37358’ continued to race including contesting the 1952 AGP at Bathurst finishing 13th in the race won by Doug Whiteford’s Lago Talbot T26C.

mac sky

Bill MacLachlan at Quarry Bend Bathurst 1952. T37A ‘37358’ Mackellar Spl. (Byron Gunther)

In 1954 the car was sold to Ralph  Snodgrass in Queensland, he used it briefly before acquiring Whiteford’s Lago, rolled the Lago and then kept both cars for decades.

‘While the car remained with Snodgrass in 2000, many of the original Bugatti components have been emerging over the years as various restorations evolve. Tom Roberts was suggested to have the ‘original’ chassis and some other ‘bits and pieces’ with Kent Patrick having other chassis and engine parts in a replica T37A he constructed in the 1980’s’ Blanden said.

Clearly ‘37358’ is in sympathetic hands with Michael Miller’s ownership, Buggatiste’ globally will follow with interest the restoration of this fabulous car and revealing its history in ‘definitive form’.

37 4

T37A ‘37358’

bug 8

T35TC/51 chassis  ‘4847’ GP: DOHC supercharged straight 8

outside
posters
mustangs

bristol

Bristol Zagato

pano 2
bmw
bentley
shell
pano 3
Tailpiece: A dogs life…
dogs
Bill Thomson: Triple Australian GP Winner Biography…
The following biography of Bill Thomson is by the late, great Australian Motor Racing Historian Graham Howard and is from ‘The Australian Dictionary of Biography’.
‘William Bethel Thompson (1906-1945), racing motorist, was born on 28 December 1906 at Summer Hill, Sydney, second child of William Ernest Thompson, customs clerk, and his wife Gladys Macdonald, née Bethel, both native-born. On completing his education at Sydney Grammar School in 1923, William worked in the motor trade. He married Jean Mavis Anderson at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Sydney, on 26 September 1929.

Of moderate means, he was helped by Arthur Burkitt, professor of anatomy at the University of Sydney, who owned several of the cars that Thompson raced. He retired from his first Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Victoria, in 1929, but won the 1930 race in a new, supercharged Type 37A Bugatti owned by Burkitt who travelled as riding mechanic. Starting from scratch, Thompson won again in the same car in 1932 and won for a third time in a Brooklands Riley in 1933. He finished second (by 14 seconds) driving a supercharged MG Magnette in 1934 and was again second (by 27 seconds) in 1935.

Despite his youth, Thompson approached his driving with a thoroughness that was uncommon in Australian motor racing, then in its infancy. Observers commented on the clean and efficient presentation of his cars, and on the lack of last-minute work they needed. Behind the wheel he was very fast and exceptionally consistent; his lap times on the 6.569-mile (10.571 km) rectangle of rough and dusty Phillip Island roads often varied by no more than a second. An outstanding finishing record was an essential part of his success. While he made occasional driving errors, he took exceptional care of his cars. He did some of his own mechanical work, but had expert helpers, among them the skilled engineer Bill Balgarnie who was often his riding mechanic.

Strongly built and about 5 ft 11 ins (180 cm) tall, Thompson parted his dark hair in the centre. Contemporaries recall him as well-tailored, confident—almost calculating—but also impulsive and given to practical joking at post-race parties. His Riley and MG drives were for Melbourne motor traders and he moved to that city in 1934 to head the MG department of Lane’s Motors Pty Ltd; he later transferred to the Shell Co. of Australia Ltd. He was briefly involved with midget speedcars in Melbourne and Sydney in 1934-35, but from 1936 his racing career faded. Divorced in 1938, Thompson married Millicent Francklyn Ironside, née King, a widow with two children, on 10 June 1942 at the government statist’s office, Melbourne.

Joining the Royal Australian Air Force as flying officer in 1940, Thompson was based in Melbourne from 1941 where he organized the manufacture and supply of engine spares for rescue boats. He held the rank of squadron leader when he was drowned in an aircraft accident on 12 February 1945 in the Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean. His wife survived him, as did the two sons of his first marriage’.

Bibliography and Photo Credits…
John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Graham Howard ‘History of The AGP’, Graham Howard ‘The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bob King Collection, Max Stahl Collection, Byron Gunther

front

brabham entry

As motoring enthusiasts we all have a favourite (or two) when it comes to the various pressed, beaten or moulded automotive art…

The Italians have had a long tradition of art worthy cars for many to aspire. So what happens when the Art World decides to pay homage to a predominately Australian automotive heritage? Well you get the National Gallery of Victoria’s ‘Shifting Gear – design, innovation and the Australian car’ exhibition.

The NGV’s ‘Ian Potter Centre’ in high profile Federation Square, opposite Melbourne’s famous Flinders St Train Station has gone all out to show a variety of Aussie ‘coachbuilders’ art from the roads and the race tracks, ‘a celebration of Australian Automobile design represented by 23 cars dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day’.

Despite there being a lot of red involved, not one has an Italian sounding car name and only one has bodywork with a close relationship to Maserati.

NGV Efijy

‘Efijy’ – Shifting Gear? Or Cape Canaveral we have lift off? Holden built ‘Efijy’ as a Motor Show concept 10 years ago – Corvette basis, 6 litre supercharged GM LS2 644bhp V8 & 4 speed auto with ’55 FJ Holden looks

Upon entering the precinct, Holden’s Efijy greets you. It’s long and oh so low stance ready for cruising along Carlton’s Lygon St.

Then an entry fee covers viewing the main exhibition halls with more than enough variety for all to come away with a favourite that wouldn’t look too out of place sitting in your garage or shed.

It was a tad rushed when primotipo visited, so give yourself at least an hour to pass through and enjoy.

efi front

efi back

Several of the cars have long standing Australian Motor Racing Heritage, so it’s interesting to see how the Art World perceives them. Certainly different to the bitumen they usually frequent! And indeed, substantially different to seeing them at the likes of Phillip Island or Sandown.

‘Shifting Gear’ runs until July 12 with more details here:- http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/shifting-gear/
All exhibits details – http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ShiftingGearLabels-web.pdf

And remember not to get told off by security for using a camera flash!

bt 19

A Unique arrangement that allowed some smart, capable Aussies to take on the world, Brabham BT19 Repco. Brabham and Tauranac based in the UK collaborated with Repco in Melbourne to gain a head start on the new 3 litre F1 Grand Prix rule changes for 1966. Jack and this Brabham successfully taking on the ill prepared other teams within the F1 paddocks and grabbed both Drivers’ & Constructors’ Titles in 1966 and 1967. (Denny Hulme grabbed the Drivers Title in 1967).

Regular readers will know we have covered the history of these achievements in some detail in previous posts; this one about the ‘RB620 series’ 1966 Championship winning engine…https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

and this one about Jacks’ 1966 Championship Year…https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

image

And in the red corner we have Purvis Eureka, Paul England’s Ausca (mostly hidden), Elfin Streamliner Climax and Molina Monza Holden…

NGV Group red

Garrie Coopers’ Elfin concerns first production racing car was the Elfin Streamliner, like many other designers he took a long look at Chapmans’ Lotus 11 and was consistent with many elements of it in his own interpretation; multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, slinky, light aluminium body and a range of engine configurations to suit customer choice. The car on display is the ‘ducks guts’ with Coventry Climax FWA engine and front wishbone, as against split front axle setup.

Elfin built 23 of these cars from 1959 to 1963, Cooper setting the foundations for high standards of design and manufacture which were his hallmark and sustained commercial success.

elfin streamliner

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When Ausca met Eureka; Nice juxtaposition of the 70’s Wedge with the curvaceous 50’s. Not many cars have been built with full canopy door openings. But with the Purvis Eureka and Holden Hurricane this exhibition has two.

Allan Purvis, an advertising executive, obtained the rights to the English developed ‘Nova’ building over 650 cars in Melbournes’ Dandenong between 1973 and 1989 considerably improving the design as he went along. The car was based on VW Beetle chassis and mechanicals although Purvis built some cars with the Ford ‘Kent’ 1600 engine, a very ‘tunable lump’ with bits from Cosworth, Holbay and the like.

Despite its Maserati A6GCS looks, the Paul England-built Ausca has links to Repco and Holden too. A gifted engineer, the Ausca remains fitting testament to Paul’s skills of 60 years ago. He passed away last year

ausca and purvis

Paul England and his friend Bill Hickey built the Ausca in their spare time at Repco Research in Sydney Road, Brunswick the clever, light car having a ladder frame chassis, a fibre glass body, the pair making the moulds. Holden front suspension was used, England narrowing the track by cutting 6 inches out of the middle of the cross-member and a Holden rear axle casing also shortened by 3 inches, suspended by quarter elliptic springs, radius rods doing locational duties.

Steering was by Peugeot rack and pinion, Repco subsidiary Patons provided the drum brakes the car powered by the very first ‘Repco Hi-Power’ cross-flow head for the ubiquitous Holden ‘Grey Motor,  the engine good for around 115bhp @5000 rpm using 2 1 3/4in SU carbs 1956. Gearbox was a Fiat 521 using straight cut gears, the car first raced late in 1955.

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ausca 2

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The Chamberlain 8 is about the wildest Australian Special of all and deserving of an article in its own right…

Chamberlains’ as a family had a rich engineering heritage, originally manufacturing ball bearings and later tractors so Bob Chamberlain and his friend Bob Price had access to the toolroom and factory facilities to build their outrageously innovative space frame chassis, independently sprung, front wheel drive car.

First completed in 1928, the car evolved over the decades. After a succession of unreliable motor cycle engines Bill Chamberlain decided to build an engine himself. The result was a 1004cc 2 stroke with 4 cylinders and 8 pistons, two crankshafts and a Rootes type blower. Its scream was its hallmark @ 7000rpm, at a sedate 5000rpm it developed 80bhp.

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The Chamberlain competed in 3 AGP’s at Phillip Island in the 1930’s coming into its own post war when one of the Chamberlain’s cousins, Jim Hawker built his own spark plugs and improved its electrical system.

The car never left the families hands and was restored for the 1978 Phillip Island 50 Year AGP Anniversary, its now owned by John Hazelden after the brothers deaths some years back. He is the lucky custodian of a very important part of our history.

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Checkout this YouTube footage of the Chamberlain 8 Sound…

 

cham drawings

ian potter

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One off, Torana GTR-X concept was still a fair way away from Holden’s 1969/70 production vehicles. As with most concept cars the economics didn’t stack up to sign off for production. It would have been part of a niche market catered by the likes of Datsun’s 240Z and even the Bolwell Nagari shown below.

A stunning car with bullet proof, race proven ‘186’ CID, pushrod OHV, triple Stromberg carbed 160bhp 6 cylinder engine hitting the road through a 4 speed close ratio gearbox…it should have been built and exported.

Alas, a great Aussie ‘what if’

gtrx donk

gtrx front

toranan butt

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Melbournes’ Art Centre spire, aspect across the Yarra River from the NGV ‘Ian Potter Centre’ in Federation Square…gloomy Autumn day

Hard to believe that the catalyst of Maybach was some war-surplus materials and some Aussie ingenuity…To save repeating ourself visit this prior feature… https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

NGV Maybach

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The FR1 Concept Car is a 2011 collaboration between GM Holden Design, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing, Boeing, the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce and Marand Precision Engineering Collection.

The car is a 21st century concept hotrod, hand crafted and powered by a 362bhp Chev V8 and 6 speed manual ‘box.

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50 heads and mm

Repco Brabham ‘RB 750 Series’ V8…

Repco were a very innovative company, this is the engine developed as an option for the 1968 season and whilst developing good power on the test bench the difficulties of fitting the engine into Ron Tauranacs’ spaceframe chassis Brabhams’ or any other car for that matter are immediately apparent given the ‘spiders web’ of exhausts to be accommodated.

Developments of Repco’s ’30 Series’ heads showed there was a power advantage with cross flow gas paths, the ‘radial layout’ ’50 Series’ heads were aimed at exploiting that.

DOHC were used per bank, each one driving inlet and exhaust valves alternately. The valves were side by side in each half of a pent roofed combustion chamber. This layout allowed very simple valve operation compared with the BMW Apfelbeck ‘radial’ heads of the time. Doug Nye..’ On the Repco test heads exhaust stubs appeared within the Vee as a bunch of 8 small bore pipes, while 4 more appeared below the heads outside the Vee on either side. 8 induction trumpets fought for space within the Vee, and 4 more appeared on each side’.

One test engine was built up and the results were ‘encouraging’ but it was a blind alley because of installation problems…So the ‘Type 50′ heads were shelved and the more conventional ’60 series’ DOHC 4 valve heads used in 1968.

19 and 59 heads

The ‘750 Series Radial Valve’ engine beside Jack Brabhams Brabham BT19 Repco and its simple RB ‘620 Series’ SOHC 2 valve 3 litre, 310 bhp 1966 Championship Winning V8 Engine

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Pictures on the wall…Repco’s 3 litre F1 engines L>R ’68 ‘860 Series’ DOHC 4 valve, ’67 ‘740 Series’ SOHC 2 valve ‘exhaust between the Vee’ and obscured workshop shot showing the assembly of the ’66 ‘620 Series’ SOHC 2 valve cross flow…

43 years on and the Bolwell Nagari still has it. Good looks and performance to match…

NGV Bolwell

When i was 13 i drooled endlessly over the Bolwell Nagari, it really was ‘as good as it got’ in Australia. Home grown in dowdy Mordialloc but with Italian looks; the Chapman inspired backbone chassis a lightweight platform for the fibre-glass body and core Ford componentry; ‘302’ Windsor 5 litre V8, 4 speed ‘box and rear axle, live axle but very well located.

The Coupe version was even sexier than the ‘Spider’, Campbell Bolwell and his brothers were masters of the kit and low volume art…very tricky in a small market like Oz at a time the legislators made life hard for small players.

I still have the brochure i mailed away for in 1971…

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Nagari_Brochure_Last

mmm cockpit

Molina Monza Holden Special…

In many ways the MM is the most powerful and beautiful of Australias’ Holden engined specials.

Concepted by Lou Molina, much loved member of Melbournes’ ‘Spaghetti Mafia’ who brought fine Italian cuisine to Melbourne between the wars and Silvio Massola, the car was designed and built by Brian Burnett, who by 1955, had the Maybach bodies in his cv. The car had a ladder frame chassis, an aluminium body that was derivative of many influences but wonderfully distinctive with it.

Motive power was the Holden ‘Grey motor’ with Repco Highpower head but also fitted with a Marshall blower fed by a big SU 2 3/16th ins. carb, 199bhp @ 6000rpm the result. Drive was transmitted by a dual plate clutch to a Jag ‘box and then by a short drive shaft to a de Dion rear end utilising Ford components. Front suspension is of planar type using a transverse spring to locate steering knuckles at the top, with wishbones below. Telescopic shocks are used front and rear. Steering is by Citroen rack and pinion, brakes drum using HWM Jag components at the front.

MM made its competition debut at Rob Roy in Melbournes’ Christmas Hills on May 5 1957 and was very successful in Molinas hands against much more exotic cars before slowly passing into obscurity before being superbly restored not so many years ago by Gavin and Bryan Sala.

It is a truly fabulous device.

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monza wheel

The Holden Hurricane design study is about as far removed to their Holden production cars could ever be…

It was of course the era of low slung, mid-engined sporties such as the Ford GT40, De Tomaso Mangusta, Lamborghini Miura and even Lotus Europa. So Holden decided to give it a crack. One way to get the new ‘253’ CID Holden V8 noticed

NGV Hurricane

The car made its Melbourne Motor Show debut in 1969 and has a box section steel frame clothed in fibre glass panels. Wishbones, coil springs and dampers were used at the front, rear suspension uses swing axles, trailing arms and coil springs. The 4.2 litre pushrod OHV V8 produced 260bhp @ 6000rpm, the car uses a 4 speed manual ‘box and disc brakes on all corners. Height is 39.2 inches.

hurri

‘Hey Charger!’ the Ad Tag Line said in 1972…

The triple 45 DCOE Weber-fed Chrysler Valiant Charger’s played second fiddle to GTs and XU1s for too many years. But not anymore, they have a strong following and their values have increased substantially.

265 CID, in line OHV 6 cylinder engine, ‘E39’ 3 speed and ‘E49’ 4 speed ‘boxes. Never really developed as racers as Fords GTHO’s or Holdens XU-1’s but mighty competitive all the same.

NGV Charger

Credits…

Doug Nye ‘Profile Publications Brabham Repco’

‘Shifting Gear’ NG Victoria

Photos by the authors