Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

 

A promotion for Indian motorcycles, Adelaide 1923, the only items missing are a bow and arrows…

I spat my chockie biscuit out when I came upon this snap! Too funny and sooo politically incorrect and unacceptable in todays societal morays. I think I would have slotted into 1923 quite nicely.

Details are few other than the three bikies were at a sporting event, I’m guessing the Indian bloke hailed from the Adelaide suburbs rather than the American prairies.

As to locale, its probably not the go at the Adelaide Oval during the cricket, and the ‘Speedway Royal’ Wayville, just outside Adelaide’s ‘Square Mile’ hadn’t quite opened yet, so who knows where it is.

Anyway. Look and laugh, just luvvit! I mean no disrespect to any North American Indian readers, my mirth is at the ‘creativity’ of the Indian ‘Sales and Marketing Team’ here in Australia. Still no doubt it achieved the ‘cut through’ marketers seek.

As to the model of bike, the Indian lineup about then was the ‘Scout’, ‘Chief’ and ‘Big Chief’. I’m guessing it’s the 1200cc Big Chief, coz that’s what the dude on the bike looks like!

Credit…

Searcy Collection- State Library of South Australia

 

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(SLWA)

To keep a sponsor happy that is! Here it’s Perth racer Gordon Stephenson presenting the prizes to the winners of a department store lawnmower racing competition…

WTF you may well say?

Boans was an iconic department store in Western Australia for almost a century. Remember when every State or City had such emporiums of shopping pleasure for those so inclined?- Myer in Victoria, Grace Brothers in New South Wales, Malcolm Reid in South Australia and so on. Now the buildings may still exist but the companies have been absorbed into a small number of conglomerates over the last forty years. Boans were chomped up by the Myer Group in 1986.

A sign of the times, competition and change is the rise in online retailing in the last decade or so- at the time of writing, mid November 2017, Amazon have just launched in Australia. The potential impact has executives of our major local retailers soiling their under-garments with fear. And rightfully so. Change is the continuum.

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Stephenson showing the kids his Tasman Cooper T70 Climax, I wonder if he fired it up and did a lap or two of the Boans, Morley carpark!? Car taken to Perth by Don O’Sullivan who acquired it from Bill Patterson in Melbourne, Stephenson only raced it for 12 months (SLWA)

It seems that Boans organised a ‘cross-promotion’ to raise their profile, to flog a few lawnmowers and roll BP into the fun. Poor BP sponsored Gordon drew the short straw that day to display his car and hand out the prizes. The local media did the rest to maximise exposure.

FTD was awarded to the kid who pushed his mower ‘for Chrissakes pick a Victa two-stroke son it will be lighter than the four-stroke Scott-Bonnar’- across Boans, Morley store carpark the fastest. Morley is 10 Km from central Perth.

The Cooper is an interesting and significant car. It’s the Cooper T70 Climax FPF 2.5 raced by Bruce McLaren and Tim Mayer in the 1964 Tasman Series and then by ’61 World Champ, Phil Hill, mildly updated in the 1965 Tasman. It was purchased by Richard Berryman in the mid-seventies and was restored and is owned by his son Adam Berryman, a Melbourne mate of mine.

The history of the two T70’s car is covered in the two articles below rather than relate the history of one of the two ‘first McLarens’ built.

https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Stephenson was a stalwart of WA racing for decades, mainly in Touring Cars. He had a busy season in 1968 racing both his ex-Alec Mildren Racing Alfa Romeo GTA and the Cooper in local circuit races at Caversham, having several wins in the T70, and hillclimbs at Mount Brown, York.

The story of the Mildren GTA’s is told here, inclusive of their extensive West Australian history;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

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Racers checkin’ out the opposition, helmets only required for the BP decal attached and related photo op! (SLWA)

Credits…

State Library of Western Australia, Terry Walkers Place

Tailpiece: Racin’…

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(SLWA)

 

 

 

Any Brabham is an over Australian $175-200K proposition these days, except one!…

There was a time, a long time, that the Australian Motor Industry was in expansionary mode behind the high tariff walls that allowed us to live in fools paradise along with most other western countries. Said tariffs in Australia started to reduce circa 1972/3. That was a pivotal moment for our automotive sector, it was never the case that our industry would cease to manufacture cars as a result of that policy change, there are a host of factors company by company that led to that outcome, but the quite correct reduction in tariffs was the first factor in a death by a thousand cuts.

The big three of the Australian industry in the sixties were General Motors Holden, Ford and Chrysler Australia. Chrysler/Mitsubishi’s Adelaide, Tonsley Park manufacturing facility is long gone, it is essentially a technology park these days whilst Holden and Ford have ceased manufacture much more recently, Holden in the last month. It was quite eery to drive past the Ford Geelong factory a week ago and see it in silence, the carparks empty of the workers who built engines there for decades.

GMH, Ford and Toyota, the other local manufacturer in more recent times are mere importers these days, a whole sector of manufacturing is gone due to the failure or desire of the local subsidiaries of global transnationals to make cars the punters want. Our cost structures are high, the global transnationals can and do decide where to make cars in a manner which maximises their profits and high cost locations hardly enhance that. Not to mention Government Policy Fuck-Wittery. It’s more complex than that, I’m getting off-point!

Back to 1963, much simpler times.

GMH, dominant in big cars, but with Ford chasing them down, looked enviously at the growth in the small car market and particularly the market share of BMC, (British Motor Corporation) Ford, VW and others.

GMH’s answer was the Vauxhall Viva, provided by GM’s UK subsidiary and first introduced in Oz in April 1964. The two door, small cars performance was ordinary, its virtues cheapness of running costs and a slick gearbox.

From small acorns do big things grow though- the late sixties to early seventies six-cylinder Torana GTR, GTR-XU1 and later the mid-seventies V8 L34 and A9X owe their parentage to the little, wheezy, Pommie Vauxhall Viva.

Its initial Australian performance credentials were bolstered by Class A (cars costing under 900 pounds) victory in the 1964 Bathurst 500, where the Spencer Martin/Bill Brown (car #46 in the ad above) driven Viva triumphed over 5 other Vauxhalls, Hillman Imps, Morris Mini 850, NSU Prinz and VW Beetles.

An updated car- the ‘HB’ Holden Torana was released in May 1967. With its conventional front engine/rear drive format, it found favour amongst traditional Oz buyers compared with some of the opposition- the new-fangled BMC cars and rear engined ‘Gunter-Wagen’ – VW Beetle. Small Fords- Anglia, Cortina always did well here. Perceived positives of the ‘HB’ were just enough power, the ‘box, rack and pinion steering and coil sprung, as against leaf sprung rear end.

By 1968 the 1159cc pushrod OHV engine gave 69bhp. It was to this base that the ‘breathed on’ Brabham Torana was released. It is not my intention to go through the timeline iterations of the Brabham Torana but in essence the package included a free flow exhaust system, twin Stromberg carbs which gave circa 79bhp, not a lot but 20% more than a base Torana ‘poverty pack’. The spec also included disc brakes up front, low profile 6 X 12 inch wheels/tyres on super wide 4 inch rims!, rally GT stripe and Brabham decals. The top speed of the base model Tommy Torana was 80mph, Jack’s did 89…with a huge tailwind I suspect.

It was pretty unimpressive though, ‘me mums Morrie 1100 with yours truly at the helm had no trouble regularly shutting one down on the trip from North Balwyn to Monash University- the fellow parked in a different corner of the Clayton car park to hide its shame.

Progress is an amazing thing though. By 1969 the little Viva had evolved into six-cylinder (as well as the four cylinder) cars, by 1970 the only car I was interested in at the Royal Melbourne Show car display was the ‘LC’ Torana GTR-XU1.

And the rest as they say, is history- a swag of Australian Touring Car Championship and Rally wins. Depending upon the model, these cars were amazingly adaptable motor sport tools.

And Jack started it all!

Not really at all.

For him it was a commercial deal, he had nothing whatsoever to do with the spec of the Brabham Torana’s- but they are the cheapest Brabham’s on the planet albeit not ones built by Motor Racing Developments!

Credits…

Unique Cars and Parts

Tailpiece: Jack Has His Hand On It…

 

 

smedley twin plug FPF

Levin, NZ January 1964 (Smedley)

Geoff Smedley fettles his ‘Twin Plug’ 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF engine fitted to John Youls’ Cooper T55 …

In the late Formula Libre period in Australasia, just before the Tasman Formula commenced on 1 January 1964 the engine of choice was very much the Coventry Climax FPF. In fact the Tasman Formula was specifically designed around the ready availability and price of the 1959/60 World Championship winning 2.5 litre FPF engine to allow the locals to compete against the internationals on more or less equal terms.

Before then (1 January 1964)  ‘the go’ was the 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPF, most of the locals and visiting internationals each summer raced with this engine.

But down in Australia’s south, in beautiful Tasmania, a very clever engineer, Geoff Smedley was working on another solution to make the FPF produce more reliable power and torque. His driver was the very quick John Youl, the car an ex-works/Bruce McLaren 1961 F1 Cooper T55. Here is the story in Geoff’s words.

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John Youl cruises thru the Warwick Farm paddock in 1963, Cooper T55 Climax (Smedley)

‘Firstly in 1963 the fad was to re-sleeve the 2.5 Climax to 2.7 litre chasing more hosepower but ‘bigger holes’ was the American way and I was sure a better alternative could be found.

Frank Hallam at Repco Research had been playing around with a twin plug head for one of Brabham’s engines, using two distributors driven from the rear of each cam bank and couldn’t make it work through an inaccurate spark which was put down to windup in the camshafts in the high rev range.

I preferred to stick with a man’s toy, the magneto and two of these more robust spark producers set up properly must be the answer. A total new drive was made up for a second maggy from the crankshaft protruding the front of the sump which allowed comfortable room within the confines of the T55 chassis and the head modified to accommodate a second plug.’

‘1963 saw the end of alcohol fuel for our cars and reverting back to 100 octane caused a few problems leading to the idea of a cleaner more efficient fuel burn. Obviously there are easier methods today but 50 years ago we were still looking in any way we could, without the aid of computers, only perhaps a slide rule and something to write on and a lot of time lost to mistakes but on the occasion when you were successful it was nice being 10ft. tall….’

‘The initial effort seemed rewarding with a test day at Symmons Plains circuit, the result was pleasing and being able to alter each magneto individually the differences were very noticeable.

Living in Tasmania and being able to carry out this work undercover of our opposition (who were based on the Australian mainland) was an advantage, I and my young family were living at Symmons Plains in those days and my workshop was a converted coachouse close to the main homestead where all the chassis work was carried out, but the big advantage I had was having full use of the family workshop (Bedford Machine Tools) where I was able to produce any part required.

The final test for the engine was to take it all to Melbourne and place it on Repco’s dyno at Dandenong to test the result. We were met by Frank Hallam who was very dubious about the whole thing, but some 4 hours later he confessed that our 2.5 Climax had shown better figures than any previous Climax including the fashionable 2.7 litre. The horsepower was up but more importantly the torque figures were so much improved. Those days of satisfaction have melted into oblivion and all that is left is a lot of frustrated old farts that look back and remember when….!!!!’

smedley fpf on dyno

The Smedley twin plug, twin magneto engine being being tested on the Repco Research dyno in November 1963. The engine reverts to ‘standard’ by replacement of the standard CC sump. (Smedley)

Racing the Cooper T55 twin-plug FPF…

‘Gosh! It’s hard to believe more than 54 years have passed since those heady days but it doesn’t seem that long,  but as mentioned I have been pressured into writing my autobiography which has meant scratching back over the coals to bring those great times back to life again and starting with taking the land speed record way back in 1961’.

We will trouble Geoff for that story, achieved by Geoff’s Chev engined Cooper T51 owned and driven by Austin Miller, another time.

‘I went to work for John Youl in 1962 and stayed with him until his retirement in ’65, we had a lot of fun as a team being able to work here in Tassie so privately and then  going to the mainland where the car would be pounced on and inspected for the sign of any tinkering’s that may help our opposition! So in that respect it was always a lot of fun and yes the duel ignition trick really did work wonders on the old FPF engine’.

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John Youl and Geoff Smedley aboard the Cooper T55 ‘twin-plug’ for a debut win- on the victory lap after winning the ‘Advertiser Trophy’ Gold Star round at Mallala, South Australia in October 1963. John won from the 2.7 litre Brabham BT4 Climax of Bib Stillwell and Wally Mitchell’s Brabham BT1 Ford 1100 (Smedley)

‘Now the very first race for this new configuration was the Gold Star Race at Mallala, South Australia on the 14th October 1963 which we won from Bib Stillwell and Wally Mitchell. Then came the Hordern Trophy Race at the ‘Farm on 1st December 1963, we won that one as well from David McKay and Bill Patterson’.

‘Then it was off to New Zealand for the 1964 Tasman Series.

In that series of races we came back with (in heats and championship races) one 1st, two seconds including Lakeside, two thirds including Sandown and fourth’s at Levin, Wigram and in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe behind Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Tim Mayer. We were fifth at Longford in the final round’.

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Levin form up area for the very first Tasman Championship race on 4 January 1964. Youl’s #5 Cooper T55 Climax, the two Cooper T70’s of McLaren #1 and Tim Mayer and then the victor, Denny Hulme’s works Brabham BT4 Climax. Mayer was 2nd, McLaren 3rd and Youl 4th (Smedley)

‘Prior to all this, we, like others using the Jack Knight gearbox on their Coopers, found the crown wheel and pinion was the big weakness and only 2-3 races seemed to be their life span. So i set about making 2 sets myself as I fortunately had access to the family business’s machine shop. The first set of these was fitted to the gearbox just prior to fitting the duel ignition system’.

‘This new CWP was straight cut but considerably stronger using a much higher grade steel than the original. Although a little noisy at first, it soon settled down by fitting a separate oiling system. The same CWP was in the car when John sold it to Arnold Glass in 1965.

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John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax at Mount Maunganui, NZ, December 1963 (Fistonic)

‘The car, then around 1967, I think- Cooper T55 Chassis No. F1/11/61 was sold to a collector in the USA and years later in the nineties the car was sent to England to be auctioned. I have found it there in photos sitting in the pits in places such as Goodwood and the like’.

‘The car is back today in its original form being Bruce McLaren’s  1961 works car it looks great and I have no idea but it could still have the twin plug motor in it, who knows!’

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Smedley with his charge, note the comments about the gearbox in the text, twin plug 2.5 FPF fitted, Longford Tasman 1964 (Smedley)

 Etcetera…

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‘The card was drawn up by John Youl himself as a record of the T55 during his period of ownership’- Geoff Smedley

The shot below is of Youl jumping from second grid slot away from McLaren #10 on pole, Tony Maggs #3 and John Surtees #2, as well as Bib Stillwell in the light blue Brabham BT4 and Chris Amon’s red Cooper T53- its the start of the Lakeside International on 17 February 1963.

McLaren, in a Cooper T62 the two Lola Mk4A pilots Maggs and Surtees and Bib were all driving the latest cars with 2.7 FPF’s, Youl was in a 1961 car, his Cooper T55 with a 2.5 FPF, not Smedley’s twin-plug engine either. Surtees won from Graham Hill’s Ferguson P99 and Stillwell. Youl retired on lap 7 that day.

Its such a shame ‘duty called’ with John Youl, he needed to manage the families large grazing properties in Tasmania, so his racing career was ended way before it should have. For sure he was a driver of world class, as indeed was Smedley as an engineer/mechanic.

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(Smedley)

Special Thanks…

Geoff Smedley, many thanks for this very special account of an interesting engineering obscurity which should be more widely known

Credits…

Geoff Smedley Collection, Milan Fistonic, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax in the Levin form up area, January 1964…

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Car #4 is Chris Amon in a Reg Parnell Lola Mk4A Climax, perhaps Denny Hulme’s Brabham alongside him (Smedley)

 

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Luvverly shot of a Bristol 401, the typically helpful Getty Images caption dates the shot as between 1940 and 1950 and notes the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in Paris…

‘From Marble Arch to the French landmark by air ferry’ is a caption clue, so perhaps it’s a promotional shoot for a new service of moving cars around?

I think so, after a ferret around, note the shot below, i am not suggesting the car in the transport is a Bristol, wotizzit I wonder?

ferry

The aircraft is a Bristol Type 70 Mk32, a former military transport plane before its inaugural flight as a car ferry with ‘Silver City Airways’. Flights were between Lympne Airport in Kent and Le Touquet, France in 1949.

Credits…

Bettman, Monty Fresco, J Wilds

Tailpiece…

Captain Bill Pegg with ‘his’ Bristol Brabazon plane and 402 Cabriolet Bristol in Bristol! on 3 September 1949.

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(J Wilds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I joined a couple of much younger enthusiasts at Prahran’s ‘The Alps’ for a couple of ‘shandies’ on a warm Spring Sunday last week and was amazed to see them on their ‘duelling’ iPads cackling away to some of Brockbank’s magic…

 I shouldn’t have been surprised though as the work is timeless.

Russell Brockbank died in 1979 so has not been with us for a while. I think the first time I saw his work was in a batch of Pommie magazines my dad had been given by a mate in my early teens. A while ago.

He wasn’t born a Brit though, he was Canadian by birth, born in Niagra Falls in 1913, he was educated there and then went to Chelsea School of Art in London. He left art for industry in 1932 and then industry for art in 1936.

The 1960’s English editor of Automobile Year recalls he was a fairly well known motoring artist when Brockbank asked for his advice on how to break into the automotive business over a post Donington meeting drink. Confronted by such brilliant competition, Gordon Wilkins thought he showed sound sense in deserting art for writing.

Brockbank’s career started in the thirties as a contributor to ‘Speed’ magazine producing scraper images of the racing cars of the time.

Throughout his war service in the Royal Navy he contributed to Punch, Lilliput and The Aeroplane, his art reflecting the state of society then.

By 1949 he was the Art Editor of Punch. His passion and knowledge of cars and motor racing shines through in the technical accuracy of his work as do his characters-Major Upsett with his outmoded ‘tache and clapped out Austin 8. Not to forget the ‘Old Biddy’ haranguing her long-suffering husband, the Rolls driver and Latin racing drivers. Nothing missed his eagle eye.

In England he lived in the country and frequently gave lifts to grannies who had missed the hourly bus. He even thought of starting a ‘100 mph Club’ – ‘Bless their hearts, they chat away at a Porsche ton and don’t know it. The observant few watch the tacho, read 40 and are happy’ he quipped.

He died at the early age of 66.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography…

Automobile Year, Article by Sue Ellis

Credit…

Russell Brockbank, Brockbank Partnership

Tailpiece…

 

 

Graham Boulter’s race equipe completing a Bacchus Marsh pitstop enroute to Calder Raceway, Victoria, Australia circa 1968 or 1969…

Competitors can relate to this wherever you live on the planet- loading up your racer and hung-over, scaly mates and girlfriend and heading off to the track hoping the last minute fixes to your steed will last the rigours of the weekend away from home base.

Enthusiast racer Lee Nicholle identified the photograph on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ which was taken at a ‘Golden Fleece’ servo at Bacchus Marsh, 60 kilometres from Melbourne on its western outskirts.

Oz enthusiasts of a certain age will well remember Golden Fleece as a brand of petroleum products and servo’s such as this one operated by Australian Company HC Sleigh since 1893. Caltex acquired the business in 1981.

The racer is a Holden FJ or ‘Humpy’, sports sedan. The tow car is the ‘Ducks Guts’ of General Motors Holdens range at the time- no less than an ‘HK’ Monaro GTS powered by the range-topping Chevrolet 327cid V8. One of these cars won the 1968 Bathurst 500 enduro driven by Bruce McPhee. The race was then run to ‘Series Production’ or unmodified road car rules. That the car is new is proved by the standard fitment ‘Dunlop Sovereign’ radial tyres. The other road cars in shot are a Vanguard and in the distant carpark an ‘FB’ Holden.

Finally, Lee notes that Boulter still races in ‘Historics’, has built a replica of this car as a ‘roadie’ and that the bare chested youth, now over 70 of course!, is John Reynolds who stayed close to racing as a supplier of Champion plugs into the 1990’s.

Cracker of a shot, it reminds me of my abysmal car preparation capabilities, unreliable mates, patient girlfriends and the racers breakfast of a Chico Roll and Coke on the fly, running late and being behind the eight-ball well before the meeting commenced!…

Credits…

Graham Boulter

Tailpiece: Bruce McPhee on the way to Bathurst 500 glory during the 1968 running of the Australian classic…

(unattributed)

Bruce McPhee started from pole in his HK Monaro GTS327 and won the race from the ‘works’ Holden Dealer Team similar car of Jim Palmer/Phil West and the Tony Roberts/Bob Watson HK GTS a lap adrift in 3rd

Finito…