Archive for the ‘Obscurities’ Category

Miller 122

My first exposure to Bob Shepherd’s artistry was in the first issue of the late Barry Lake’s marvellous and way too short-lived Cars and Drivers magazine published in early 1977.

John Medley chose a Shepherd drawing of a Miller 122 to support an article he wrote about the ex-Zborowski machine which raced in New Zealand, and briefly in Australia pre-war, after the untimely death of the wealthy Briton at the wheel of a Mercedes during the 1924 Italian GP.

I’ve always been blown away by Shepherd’s work when I have tripped over it. Discussions with Bob King about the Miller led us to his copy of Graham Howard’s book (Racing Cars Through The Years) of Shepherd’s drawings published in 1993. Diana Davison/Gaze made available the Davison Family Collection of Shepherd images to Howard to allow the book to be published.

So little is known about Bob Shepherd we figured it was time to put something on the record more widely available than those lucky enough to have a copy of that marvellous book.

I asked Bob to do a bio, but after re-reading Graeme’s Introduction in the book, he said “How can I top that!”

So, here it is, Howard’s words shortened only a smidge, and a small selection of drawings which I think demonstrate Bob’s mastery of his art. The descriptions of each car are exactly as they appear in the book.

MG R-type Midget, 1935. Zoller blown at 24-28lbs, MG’s tiny single-cam four (57mm x 73mm, 746cc) delivered 120bhp – more than the Q-type’s leaf-spring chassis could handle. Hence the all independent 750cc R-type, MG’s first ever pure-racing car, with far-sighted backbone chassis and torsion bar parallelogram wishbone suspension. Drawing appeared in the March 1958 AMS.
Bob Shepherd in 1960

“To countless Australians Bob Shepherd the artist was also Bob Shepherd the historian, primarily because of the series of articles he wrote and illustrated for the magazine Australian Motor Sports, starting in August 1946 and continuing for than 15 years.

With a distinctive combination of knowledge, passion and flair, he carried his audience into the magic world of the racing and high performance cars of Europe and (to a lesser degree) America, broadly from the time of the French Grands Prix through to the end of the 1930s. Month by month, car by car, Shepherd spread before his readers the treasures of the Vintage era and the legendary cars of the 1930s which laid the foundations for post-WW2 motor racing. Over the years he gave AMS readers an education in motoring history unrivalled anywhere in the world.

Not that he confined his energies to Australia. He sent drawings overseas to MotorSport and to the Bugatti Owners Club journal Bugantics and was singled out by British engineer-historian Laurence Pomeroy, in the second edition of his milestone book The Grand Prix Car, for having been particularly helpful in suggesting improvements and corrections to the original work. The significance of this acknowledgement needs to be emphasised – that, while far removed from the Northern hemisphere’s factories, archives and authors, Shepherd was nonetheless the master of details which had eluded even the most eminent of British motoring historians.

Even more remarkable was that Shepherd had no formal training, either as an engineer or as an historian, or for that matter as an artist. The writing and illustrating of his monthly AMS pieces, and the maintenance of his correspondence with enthusiasts around the world, was done from the lounge room of his house in the time he had spare from family life and his job as a stores clerk.

Itala 12-cylinder fwd, 1926. Tested but never raced, these innovative cars would have competed against such classics as the 1.5-litre Delages. They were true single-seaters with fully independent suspension; the supercharged V12 engines were built in 1500cc and 1100cc form, the single central camshaft flanked by its two rows of horizontal valves. Drawing appeared in the August 1952 AMS.

He was born in 1914 in the Sydney suburb of Pagewood, where his father was a hairdresser. He was the oldest of three children; he and his brother Sydney were each dux of Daceyville Primary School in their respective years, and Bob was later also dux of Cleveland Street High School, but university was out of the question. Cars and drawing were his great interest, but work in the motor trade was impossible to find: eventually a family friend heard of a job at Davis Gelatine, and he worked there until his retirement in 1979, holding a staff position from 1964. He married Joan Manhood in 1940, they had three children.

As a schoolboy Shepherd had started writing to overseas car manufacturers for catalogues; these catalogues, his voluminous international correspondence, and dissected copies of The Motor, The Autocar and MotorSport formed the basis of his archives, kept in rows of manila folders in large glass-fronted cupboards.

His drawings were made using the simplest of methods and materials. A pencilled grid, or a pair of dividers, would be used to transfer dimensions and proportions from the chosen source photograph onto a sheet of his favourite cartridge paper, and the drawing would start in HB pencil, which would be rubbed out after the final version had been inked-in using mapping pens. All his work was freehand – there were no rulers or artificial aids like French curves. He did most of his drawings on Sundays after church, working for four to five hours, resting his paper on a wooden board and taking advantage of natural light. It would usually need two Sundays to produce a drawing; those for AMS were sent to Melbourne (always by registered mail) in cardboard cylinders accompanied by the text for his article which – like his letters – would be written in copperplate script, blue ink on unlined paper.

He was not comfortable drawing vehicles in action, or drawing people, and he showed no interest in drawing aircraft or motorcycles. Almost all his work was black and white: AMS itself was not printed in colour. In some drawings he used a wash, rather than hatching, to provide shading: when he did use colour, for example for private commissions, it was with complete success. His black box of watercolour pigments, bought when he was 12, is still in use by one of his grandchildren.

Bob Shepherd’s colour drawing of a 1922 Bugatti Type 30 (B King Collection)

Delage 2-litre V12, 1923-1925. After two relatively unsuccessful years as unsupercharged cars, the V12s were supercharged for the 1925 season (as illustrated) and finished 1-2 in the French Grand Prix. The four-camshaft engines (51.3mm x 80mm, 1984cc), unusual in having the exhausts in the centre of the Vee, gave about 190bhp in supercharged form. This drawing appeared in the June 1954 AMS.

As well as his work for AMS, he provided illustrations for many club magazines and illustrated ‘Vintage Types’ for the Vintage Sports Car Club of Australia, he was one of its founding members. His first published drawings may have been the series ‘Australia’s Best Known Speed Cars’ in Motor in Australia and Flying in 1939. He was sometimes asked to suggest shapes for rebuilds or of new racing cars. As a boy he had watched racing on the banked concrete saucer at Maroubra but went to few race meetings in later years. More surprisingly, he never owned a car (although he had part shares in several), seldom drove, and did not hold a licence, he never travelled outside New South Wales.

Yet he was in no way reclusive or narrow in his interests. While a reluctant partygoer, he was a most entertaining teller of stories, had an astonishingly broad general knowledge, was a keen reader, loved opera (he did his drawings with ABC radio playing) and was well enough known as a fisherman for there to be an unofficial ‘Shepherd’s Rock’ at nearby Kurnell.

There was little to single out the family house in Maroubra Bay Road. Shepherd took his research seriously – he shared in some ferocious debates in his correspondence columns – but there was absolutely no pretence; there was nothing in his manner to hint that here was one of the foremost authorities on motoring history. Joan and Bob Shepherd made everyone most welcome, whether they were famous names or awed tram-travelling young admirers (for which all those young admirers remain very grateful).

Voisin Grand Prix, 1923. Gabriel Voisin was a pioneer French aviator and aircraft manufacturer, as well as an innovative car maker. His cars for the 1923 French GP had only around 75hp from their 2-litre six-cylinder Knight double-sleeve-valve engines, but had aerodynamic body work and disc covered wire wheels and a true monocoque chassis of plywood and sheet metal. The drawing appeared in the September 1956 AMS.
This is a spread from Bob Shepherd’s Maserati scrap-book, a simple but effective way of archiving material, I guess we all have one, or many! (D Zeunert Collection)

Like many remarkable people, Bob Shepherd was a paradox. He almost never drove a Vintage car, seldom went to the Vintage club meetings, yet was – without realising it – the Australian Vintage movement’s finest publicist. He never travelled outside Australia, never saw any of his beloved cars in their heyday, yet he knew them in minute detail and could picture them with elegant clarity. He had rare gifts yet remained a modest and gentle man. With this book we remember that man.”

Graham Howard, Sydney, 1993.

Talbot-Darracq 1.5-litre, 1926 (above). Continuing Darracq’s pre-1914 racing tradition, the company’s cars for the 1926 1.5-litre formula were 140bhp supercharged twin-cam straight-eights (56mm x 75.5mm, 1488cc). Engine and gearbox were slightly offset to the drivers left. A much modified version of one of these cars (still in 2021) survives in Australia, imported after WW2. The drawing appeared in the October 1951 AMS.

Oops, nearly forgot the Miller 122 at this pieces outset. Miller, 1923. Influenced by Fiat, Harry Miller used two valves per cylinder in hemispherical chambers when he scaled down his 183-cubic inch straight-eight for the 122-inch (2-litre) limit applying from 1923, obtaining an unrivalled 120bhp. Supercharged from 1924, and reduced to 91c.i. from 1926, these engines won Indianapolis in 1923, 1926, 1928 and 1929. That drawing appeared in the April 1957 AMS.

Credits…

‘Racing Cars Through The Years’ Bob Shepherd and Graeme Howard, Bob King Collection, David Zenuert Collection

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(B King Collection)

A one-armed paper-hanger! Ron Chandler, Lancia Lambda Special (Chandler Special) at Mount Tarrengower, post-war, date folks? Isn’t it a marvellous shot, gotta be summer with that much dust.

Plenty of Vincenzo Lancia’s outstanding cars came to Australia and no shortage of them were adapted as racing cars as they aged. The mix of stiff monocoque chassis, SOHC V4, four-speed gearbox and independent front suspension was irresistible to enthusiasts. The Chandler was a mix of narrowed fifth series chassis and eighth series components. Ron had no shortage of knowledge or parts, he was a Lancia dealer/wrecker in Melbourne’s inner-eastern suburb, Hawthorn.

(J Hickford)

The shot above shows Eddie Perkins (Larry’s dad) at the wheel of the Chandler. Note the ‘sprint’ fuel tank (‘snot water I think) and support structure, the chassis and exhaust are also clear. Perkins built a mid-engined Lancia Special of his own circa 1951 – a story for another time.

This car later morphed into the Lambda based, monoposto Meadows Special built by Rob Harcourt, shown below at Winton. It marries a narrowed fifth series chassis and seventh series Lambda components mixed with a 3-litre 4EH Meadows engine first fitted to an Australian assembled Chic circa 1925. With around 200bhp, it’s a very quick car.

(A Cox Collection)

Etcetera…

(Classic Cars in Profile)

Stripped Lambda shows the key elements of the design to good effect – that pressed steel unitary/monocoque chassis was so far ahead of its time…Ease with which it can be cut-and-shut obvious.

(unattributed)

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Andrew Cox in the Lancia Motor Club website, Colin Marr, John Hickford, Classic Cars in Profile

Tailpiece…

(C Marr Collection)

Rob Harcourt’s Lancia Meadows Spl during the Australian Grand Prix carnival at Albert Park in 2000. The dude on the right is Sir Stirling Moss in an HWM Jaguar – which HWM Jaguar?

Finito…

simulator
(Victor Blackman)

‘Daily Express’ motoring writer David Benson races a Lotus 31 at the Racing Car Show, Olympia, London January 19-26, 1966…

These days no self-respecting race-team from F1 down would be without their race simulator to sharpen their drivers preparation and performance. Like so many innovations from the mid 1950s to the mid 1980s, Lotus paved the way with a small number of sims they built for commercial/entertainment use in the sixties.

Aviation led the simulation way of course. French commanders Clolus, Laffont and Clavenad built the Tonneau Antoinette, regarded as the first ground training aircraft. Progress was swift, by World War 2 The Allies produced 10,000 Link Trainers to assist 500,000 new pilots into the sky.

Whether Colin Chapman’s motivation was broadening the appeal of racing by putting anyone in the driving seat, building the Lotus brand, or perhaps another profitable line of business is unclear. A small number – about 18 – were built and sold to dealerships and large corporates such as BP. The Avengers tragics may recall the ‘Dead Mans Treasure’ episode in which the woman behind the wheel had to keep driving fast or otherwise receive a deadly electric shock…

The car is a reproduction of an F3 Lotus 31 (it would be intriguing to know the differences between the real deal and the sim cars) fitted with all of the track-bound instruments and controls. “The course reproduction mechanism, located behind a screen, projects a complete image of the track and its surroundings.”

“The disc on which the track is laid out is quickly changed to allow a change of circuits. For the faint of heart, a disc showing normal street driving is available. From the cockpit the driver receives a complete picture of his driving efforts. With scale speeds up to 120mph, the full sensation of handling, maneuvering the course, braking and accelerating are completely controlled by the driver.”

“Naturally, driver error doesn’t go unnoticed. Incorrect control on a corner causes the car to virtually run off the course, at the same time sounding a buzzer. Late braking or excessive speed will cause the car to leave the track,” – while technology has advanced a tad, that much remains unchanged!

Credits…

Victor Blackman, Golden Gate Lotus Club

Etcetera…

Tailpiece…

(Toyota)

The elapse of a half-century – Toyota F1 race simulator circa 2008, and current TS050 Hybrid sim below, pretty much the only thing which cannot be replicated are the g-forces but doubtless that will come!

(Toyota)

Finito…

Herbert Johnson were one of the preferred purveyors of bash-hats to racing’s elite in the pre-Buco, pre-Bell early-mid 1960’s era.

The company, founded in 1889, made its name for its silk-velvet top-hats. By the outbreak of World War 1 its output was dominated by the demands of the military. Goldie Gardner was the first racer to commission a ‘protective hat’ from then proprietor, Geoffrey Glazier. Stirling Moss was a later customer as demand for the firm’s race products grew.

(K Devine)

Lex Davison is shown so equipped at Caversham, near Perth in November 1962. It’s the Australian Grand Prix meeting, the four-times AGP winner is shown on the dummy-grid – looking very pucka in Herbie Johnson with British Racing Drivers Club badge on his overalls – about to jump aboard Len Lukey’s Ford Galaxie in a mixed touring/sportscar support race. The nose of the Elite belongs to Anthony Osborne.

Credits…

Ad from Motor Racing 1948-1949 BRDC Yearbook, Ken Devine

Tailpiece…

‘If yerv’ got a $10 head wear a $10 helmet’ was Bell’s compelling mid-sixties tagline. A mix of technology and innovation, quality, marketing and a great distribution network ensured the Bell Corporation did their bit to improve the safety of our sport. Dan Gurney’s Eagle depicted is his 1966-68 F1 Mk1 Weslake V12

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com)

Barry Cassidy’s Ford Falcon XR GT ahead of Bill Brown’s Ferrari 350 Can-Am, Newry Corner, Longford 1968…

Series Production or showroom stock racing was hugely popular in Australia during a golden period to the end of 1972 when the Supercar Scare forced the rule-makers to change tack – a story in itself! Actually there is about it in the middle of this Holden Torana XU-1 V8 epic here; Holden Torana GTR XU1 V8… | primotipo…

Here, local lad and long time racer Cassidy is practicing for his event during the Tasman weekend in his brand new, straight off the showroom floor, 289cid V8 powered Australian pony-car. It was the first in an amazing series of road legal and oh-so-fast Fords built from the late sixties to the late seventies. Most of them won the Bathurst 500/1000 classic including the XR GT which triumphed at Mount Panorama in the hands of Harry Firth and Fred Gibson in 1967.

Cassidy showing delicacy of touch exiting Mountford, Longford 1968 (oldracephotos.com)

Cassidy had a top speed of 120mph or thereabouts, Brown about 170, and is about to swallow him on the uphill run to the right, then to the left onto the Flying Mile. He recalls that Brown was “probably not too impressed about being passed under brakes by the XR GT and signalled his thoughts about it as he blasted past on the Flying Mile!”

Cassidy raced the car for a bit, and was later at the vanguard of ‘Formula’ HQ Racing, a series for lightly modified Holden HQ Kingswood/Belmont of the early seventies, a hugely popular cost effective way to get into, and stay in motor racing. He is still racing too.

Cassidy chasing Graham Parsons’ Cortina GT and Darryl Wilcox’ Humpy Holden through Newry Corner. Barry was off a low grid position after being pinged by scrutineers for having a spare tyre not of identical section width as the four on the car! (HRCCT)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

(B King Collection)

John Williams, DFP takes the chequered flag for The Sun, from HW Miller’s similar car for The Herald, in a five lap battle of the Melbourne Motor Editors at Aspendale on June 9, 1924

Fragments on a forgotten make

Mssr. Dorian, Flandrin and the Parant brothers made light cars of no great distinction in Courbevoie (Seine) between 1906 and 1926. Chronically underfunded, they relied on proprietary engines. They are best remembered by the reflected glory from their London agent W. O. Bentley’s use of aluminium pistons in DFP’s which led him to success at Brooklands. WO claimed that the idea to use aluminium pistons came to him in 1913 during a visit to their Parisienne factory. He said they allowed him to obtain ‘much more’ power from the engine – the main advantage being greater thermal efficiency, rather than weight saving. In regard to novelty, it should be noted that Aquila Italiana had been using aluminium pistons from 1906 under the guidance of their talented designer Giulio Cesare Cappa.

‘WO’ in a very smart looking DFP (B King Collection)

Rendering of a similar DFP to WO’s (T Johns Collection)

Whether through ‘reflected glory’, improved performance or clever marketing, the DFP was not an uncommon entrant in post-WWI motor sport in Australia. It seems that the sporting motorist had a love affair with French cars, possibly engendered by their panache. This was distinctly lacking from the majority of Italian and English light cars of the period. It should also be remembered that cars from ‘former enemy’ countries were forbidden to take part in motorsport in the early post-war years– at least in Victoria.

My motoring archive has several splendid photos of DFP’s in action and Mark Bisset felt I should share them with you on primotipo.com

The first race at Aspendale on ANA day, 1906 (J Crooke Collection)

Aspendale

Situated in a sandy bayside suburb of Melbourne, Aspendale Motor Racing Club had a history dating back to the dawn of motoring. James Robert Crooke had a horse racing track built on his father’s land in 1889. The name of the venue played tribute to his champion horse ‘Aspen’, which had won the Newmarket Cup in 1880 and 1881.

Entrepreneurial Crooke had won Australia’s first motor race at Sandown Park in 1904 driving his steam powered Locomobile. By January 1906 they were motor-racing at Aspendale Park on what he claimed to be the world’s first purpose built racing track. After only a few events the track went into hibernation until a new banked concrete/bitumen track was built in 1923. The first event was held on this surface on 1 March 1924.

(J Crooke Collection)

The promoter’s club badge

(J Crooke Collection)

The ACV’s invitation to attend – love the formality of the day, and program, or programme, more correctly!

(J Crooke Collection)
(J Crooke Collection)

The track layout.

John Williams and the DFP at Aspendale

John was a jovial beret-wearing, Gauloise smoking motoring journalist who had a preference for French cars. He was the second owner of a Brescia Bugatti in 1929 and was still driving a Ballot 2LT in post-war years. As Motoring Editor for the Sun News Pictorial and later the Argus, his knowledge of cars was encyclopaedic. He came into our realm through friendship with Lou Molina and attendance at Lou’s Brighton Central Hotel in the 1970s.

John took part in an unusual event at Aspendale on 9 June 1924 – a match-race between the Motor Editors of the Sun and the Herald. Fortunately, photographs survive of this encounter, showing that the drivers were accompanied by their wives. John annotated the back of one photograph, stating that this was the first time that women had travelled as mecaniciennes in a motor race in Australia. John’s wife Pegg is quoted as saying “What a damned row 24,000 people can make!”

(Bob King Collection)

The start of the motoring journalist match-race.

(Bob King Collection)

John and Pegg Williams ensconced in the DFP. Winners are grinners, the rest can make their own arrangements.

Sporting Cars, DFP and Miss Marie Jenkins

If clever marketing contributed to the DFP’s popularity here in Victoria, the responsible party is likely to have been Sporting Cars, the future agents for Bugatti, who used the attractive Marie Jenkins to promote their brand (Sex sells).

Sporting Cars claimed that the DFP had ‘a remarkable reputation for speed, coupled with reliability and hard wear’ – these characteristics being exemplified by the crest and motto on the radiator badge – a greyhound ‘Courant’ under the words ‘Fidele at Vete’.  Marie was often seen in the company of Sporting Cars directors; their relationship has not been established.

(B King Collection)

Marie Jenkins was used to promote the make in this Sporting Cars pamphlet, the rest of it, providing detailed specifications is at the end of this article.

Dudley Barnett, Chenard Walcker, Marie Jenkins DFP and Arthur Terdich Bentley 3-litre, with Maude. 1924 Davies Bay, Victoria (B King Collection)

Marie in her little DFP is dwarfed by Sporting Cars director Dudley Barnett’s Chenard Walcker (left) and Arthur Terdich’s 3-litre Bentley

(G Jarrett)

Marie goes camping, the only thing missing appears to be the kitchen sink! Poor liddl’ darlin’ would have struggled carrying that lot.

(Fairfax)

Here she is, looking rather marvellous, at Sydney’s Maroubra banked, concrete Saucer of Speed in her victorious Brescia Bugatti in 1925.

(B King Collection)

1928 Australian Grand Prix

Two DFPs took part in the 100-Mile Road Race, aka the 1928 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Ab. Terdich was the brother of Arthur whose Bugatti faltered while he was leading the race; he won in 1929. Ab’s DFP retired with engine trouble. The other car shown, driven by Les Pound, had better luck, completing the distance in a little under 2½ hours at an average speed of 41.6 mph, he was thirteenth and last. Les became a well-known name in post-war years as proprietor of Volkswagen dealers, Pound Motors. The Pound DFP is nearing the end of a long restoration.

(B King Collection)

Les Pound made slow progress in the 1928 AGP, but had the satisfaction of completing the distance.

DFP random

Nigel Tait of Repco and ACL fame had an ancestor with a DFP that managed to have an accident in Bourke St, Melbourne in 1915. That must have been hard to achieve – perhaps an errant horse?

(N Tait Collection)
(N Tait Collection)

This Tait family photograph shows the same car (above) which was driven by George McCarey below.

(B King Collection)

I suspect the photo of car with registered number 27277 is being driven by George McCarey in the 1921 RACV 1000-mile Reliability Trial. This was an earlier 2-litre car of the type raced by WO Bentley, rather than the more popular 1.1-litre car which was introduced in 1922.

(T Johns Collection)

Les Pound completes the hill climb at Wheelers Hill with the same DFP he raced in the AGP at Phillip Island in 1928.

(B King Collection)

Doug Benson’s DFP on a bridge over the Kiewa River.

DFP Technical Specifications…

(B King)
(B King)
(B King)
(B King)
(B King)

Credits…

Bob King, John Crooke, Tony Johns and Nigel Tait Collections, Fairfax, Graeme Jarrett

Finito…

Murray Aunger in King William Street, Adelaide and his team aboard three Dort cars prior to departing for Darwin in July 1922…

Members of that Adelaide to Darwin and return trip were, left to right, Aunger with Donald McCallum, the organiser and local member of parliament, the Hon Thomas McCallum and WH Crowder of the SA Lands Department, and Cyril Aunger with Captain Samuel A White a prominent ornithologist

This article is about the exploits of Horace Hooper ‘Murray’ Aunger (April 1878-1953), sportsman, overlander, adventurer, businessman and motor engineer – born at Narridy, near Clare, South Australia.

Educated in Adelaide he was later apprenticed in the Kilkenny workshops of G. E. Fulton & Co., consulting engineers. He later joined the cycle works established by Vivian Lewis, collaborating with Tom O’Grady in the construction of the first petrol-driven car in South Australia. I wrote tangentially about Lewis and his machines a while back, click here to read the story; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/19/first-car-demonstration-or-parade-in-australia-adelaide-oval-18-october-1902/

A sportsman of note, riding Lewis bikes, Aunger was the colony’s one-mile (1.6 km) champion in 1899 and in 1901 held the Australian 50 Mile record.

As co-driver and mechanic, Aunger made two attempts with Henry Hampden ‘Harry’ Dutton to be the first to cross Australia from south to north by car.

Then there were only 500 cars registered in South Australia. Motorists facing ‘a hostile society of luddites, horse loving reactionaries, regressive law makers and over-zealous police’ wrote Dr Kieren Tranter. Dutton was then the wealthy 28 year old heir to a significant pastoral fortune, the family owned Anlaby Station outside Kapunda. Aunger was the brain and muscle behind crossing attempts which Harry later attributed to in their entirety to Aunger’s ability.

The pair left Adelaide in Dutton’s Talbot on November 25, 1907. ‘Angelina’ was powered by a 3770cc water cooled, monobloc four-cylinder engine rated at 20hp and was fitted with a four-speed gearbox.

‘Darwin lay almost 2100 miles (3380 km) away. ‘Obstacles confronted them on long sections of the route: rivers, treacherous sandhills and boulder-strewn country had to be traversed which no modern motorist would tackle without the advantage of four-wheel drive. Beyond Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, the partners met the pioneering cyclist FE Birtles. The pinion in the Talbot’s differential collapsed south of Tennant Creek, where the car was abandoned given the wet season’s onset. Dutton and Aunger returned on horseback to the railhead at Oodnadatta, South Australia, and then back to Adelaide’.

Aunger, Dutton and Dick the dog aboard Talbot ‘474’ at Burra on the second, 1908 trip (NM)

Determined to try again when the rains ended, Dutton bought another Talbot. This car, nicknamed ‘474’ after its registration number, was more powerful and had a lower axle ratio than ‘Angelina’ as a result of lessons learned the year before. Again with Aunger leading the charge, the pair left Adelaide on June 30, 1908. At Alice Springs, local special magistrate and postmaster Ern Allchurch joined the team. Ern’s ability to transmit messages along the telegraph line enabled them to keep in touch with, and confirm their position to the outside world.

Tennant Creek was reached in thirty days; the stranded ‘Angelina’ was repaired and driven in convoy to Pine Creek before being freighted by train to Darwin. Continuing their journey by car, the trailblazers reached their destination on August 20. International motoring circles recognised both expedition’s demonstrations of skill and endurance – it was one of the greatest pioneering motoring feats in Australia, the pair averaged over 50 miles a day over 42 days at the wheel. Talbot ‘474’ is preserved in the Birdwood Museum, in the Adelaide hills.

As I have written in previous articles about Australia’s pioneering motor sport days, speed-record attempts between Australia’s capital cities received wide publicity and the record breakers were our earliest motor-sporting stars.

Murray Aunger and Robert Barr Smith, Adelaide en route to Melbourne in February 1909, Napier (SLSA)

In 1909 Murray accompanied Robert Barr Smith in his Napier to set a new time for the Adelaide-Melbourne journey, the pair held the record for only a few weeks.

Aunger regained it in February 1914, driving a Prince Henry Vauxhall imported expressly for the purpose. He left Lewis Cycle Works in 1909 to establish Murray Aunger Ltd which held Willys-Overland, Vauxhall, Morris and Dort franchises.

Together with F. Bearsley – achieving speeds of over 80 miles per hour (129 km/h) on the pipeclay of the Coorong – their time was 14 hours 54 minutes. They improved the previous record time of GG White and Fred Custance set in a 35hp Talbot, 20 hours six minutes, which had stood for over five years by five hours 12 minutes.

At a time the only route to Melbourne included 90 miles of the dreaded Coorong in south-east SA, and then on to the border and into Victoria via Casterton, Hamilton and Geelong – about 100 miles further than the trip now. The 80 miles of the Coorong desert sand were negotiated in under two hours, the cars fastest speed of 80 mph was achieved on a 10 mile stretch of dried up Coorong lagoon.

They also broke the Adelaide-Broken Hill record in the same car.

Murray Aunger and, perhaps F Bearsley, testing their Vauxhall Prince Henry in 1913/14 (SLSA)

Better management of the South Australian Railways (SAR) and the need for a railway line from Adelaide to Darwin was a thread which ran through the next phase of Aunger’s life.

By 1920 the railway system was crippled by mismanagement and failure to invest. To that end, newly elected Premier, Sir Henry Barwell, appointed American William Webb to run the SAR. By 1926 the state had the most powerful locos in the country, the grand Adelaide Railway Station was Webb’s monument.

In 1922 Aunger joined another expedition – the one featured at the outset of this article – of three cars which travelled from Adelaide to Darwin and back. The group included his brother Cyril, Samuel White, H Crowder and a local parliamentarian, the Hon Thomas McCallum and his brother Donald McCallum. They explored settlement possibilities, inclusive of a railway along their route.

Samuel White in a ‘The Register’ article wrote that there was much public wrangling about the route of the north-south rail line. The plan was to drive the proposed course from Adelaide to Darwin, and then return to Adelaide via Queensland to see for themselves the nature of the terrain, its obstacles and opportunities.

Aunger, ‘the greatest overland motorist in Australia’ was engaged by the group to organise the trip. This included shipping fuel, provisions and spares sent months ahead to Oodnadatta and then 700-800 miles further north by camel train. Teams were also sent from the Darwin end as well, to be prepared for what was a large group of intrepid, influential travellers.

Aunger selected and prepared three American Dorts, machines built by the Dort Motor Car Company of Flint, Michigan. These hardy, Lycoming four-cylinder, 30 horsepower vehicles were stripped of top protective equipment and doors to make them a lighter and more suited to the demands of the Australian bush.

The three Dorts en-route to Darwin in 1922 (SLSA)

Murray was again called upon to assist in providing cars and logistics to the government in assessing possible rail routes, organising a trip in June 1923 from Adelaide to the wilds of Oodnadatta, Alice Springs and Central Australia, again using three Dorts.

The expedition was three weeks, the all-star cast included the State Governor, Sir Tom Bridges, Premier Sir Henry Barwell, William Webb, Chief Commissioner of the South Australian Railways, Thomas McCallum, who organised this trip, the earlier one in 1922 and two others. This time the Dorts were further modified with removable grips for the tyres. The party travelled by train from Adelaide to Oodnadatta, picking up the Dorts at Terowie, between Burra and Peterborough.

After returning, both the Governor and Premier called on the Commonwealth Government to extend the railway, the line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs was completed in 1929.

Later in 1923 the SAR sought cars suitable for running on rails. By November, Aunger had modified one Dort, eventually ten were in service, but they (or perhaps their drivers) were accident prone with some fatalities from collisions and roll-overs.

The first of these accidents occurred on the Clare line in December 1923 when a Dort collided with a gangers trike – fortunately the employees aboard the trike were able to jump clear. The driver of the Dort was Webb – his passenger the State Premier, Barwell. The nature of their business was Sir Henry’s attendance at a bowls tournament with Webb the taxi-driver!

Murray Aunger and the SA State Governor, Sir Tom Bridges aboard a Dort at Oodnadatta out front of the Pub (SLSA)

In 1925 Webb persuaded Aunger to become the motor engineer of the SAR, on a salary of £1000. There had been a large increase in the use of motors in the railways and Webb had commenced bus services to various parts of the State. A number of politicians believed Aunger had received favoured treatment from Webb. Webb was the subject of ongoing bitter political attacks for the American’s revolutionary changes to improve systems, processes and viability of the SAR. Aunger twice visited Britain and the USA in the course of his SAR duties.

In 1930 Webb returned to America. For several years attempts (after the Hill Labor Government lost power in 1927 and Butler Liberal Administration in 1930, in part over ongoing railway deficits and their impact on the State budget) were made in South Australian political circles to wreak petty revenge upon Aunger, despite his important part in rehabilitating the State’s railway system. He was dismissed in June 1937 for contravening Section 37 of the South Australian Railways Commissioner’s Act.

On June 6, 1942 he re-married, his first wife having died some years before, they moved to Melbourne. Aunger died on September 14, 1953 at Mordialloc, aged 75.

Whilst there is plenty of material on Aunger’s life in South Australia there is little I can find about his time in Victoria. If any of can fill in the gaps it would be great to hear from you – the fellow certainly had an amazing life of sporting, commercial and pioneering success!

Bibliography…

‘The Register’ 22 August 1922, ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’- article on Aunger by John Playford, ‘Lassetters Gold’ Warren Brown, Trove- various

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia, National Motor Museum

Tailpiece…

Dunlop ad celebrating the Aunger/Bearsley Vauxhall Prince Henry Melbourne-Adelaide record breaking run in 1914.

Finito…

 

(Auto Action)

Jack Brabham’s last win (I think) was the Formula Ford Race of Champions at Calder on August 15, 1971.

30,000 Melburnian’s turned up to see our just-retired World Champ beat a classy field of past and present Oz champions including Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton, Bob Jane, Leo Geoghegan and Allan Moffat. Click here for pieces on the meeting, here; Calder Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ August 1971… | primotipo… and here; Jack’s Bowin, again… | primotipo…

The sight of Teddy Whitten interviewing Black Jack on the victory dais gave me a chuckle. Whitten (RIP) is a legendary Melburnian, one of our most decorated of all VFL/AFL footballers. While he had the gift-of-the-gab, his motor racing knowledge could fit easily on a postage stamp so his banter with Jack for the punters at the circuit and on Channel Seven would have been amusing.

(Allan Moffat, Wren FF)

Moffat is a touring car icon of similar stature to Teddy, but he hadn’t competed in single seaters for a few years, see here; Allan Moffat, Single-Seater racer… | primotipo…

He enjoyed the Formula Ford foray, brief as it was, commenting in his Auto Action column; “My car – Morley Ford Wren went like a charm. I enjoyed the change in handling and the beautiful response you get. There’s no doubt that these cars teach you quickly and teach you well.”

“Sitting out there in the open with the front wheels bobbing a few inches away and the track disappearing alongside is a really thrilling experience. Formula Ford just has to be the way for the young drivers,” was great endorsement from Moff during FF’s second full season in Oz.

If those who would change FF fuck-off and leave things well alone we should have the category for another 50-years. When it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Credits…

Auto Action, Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece…

(SMH)

The great EJ Whitten, wearing his beloved Big V, Victorian state side jumper, during training for a state carnival game in 1963.

Finito…

CS Rolls passing a group of spectators during his winning drive of a Panhard 12HP during the  1000 Mile Trial, 23 April to 12 May 1900…

Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer English motorist, an aviator and founding partner of Rolls Royce together with Sir FH Royce in 1906. Prior to founding that iconic company Rolls’ business assembled and sold French cars, including Panhards.

rolls 2
Rolls, Panhard 12Hp (Getty)

Rolls entered a Panhard in the 1000 Mile Trial which was the first public demonstration of the potential of the car for long distance travel in the UK. 65 vehicles started, 23 finished the course which started in London, headed west to Bristol, then north to Edinburgh before returning to London.

Etcetera: ‘The Motor Car – One Thousand Mile Trial in England’…

From ‘The Brisbane Courier’ (Australia) Saturday 4 August 1900.

It’s very interesting to read this article, published in Australia but clearly written by a journalist on-the-spot in Britain – by whom I know not. Of historic interest are the observations about the evolution from horses and horse-drawn vehicles to motorcars.

‘…The principal object of the organisers was to prove what it was considered the people of this country need to be to be taught-that the motor car is, even in its present state of development, a serious and trustworthy means of locomotion; not a toy dangerous and troublesome alike to the public and its owner, but a vehicle under as perfect control as a Bath chair, capable of accompanying long journeys in all weathers and over every kind of road with ease and safety, destined to take its place with the train and bicycle as a common object of daily life, and as superior to them, in many respects, as they are superior to the horse and cart. In so far as any demonstration ever brings conviction to indifferent or hostile minds the tour must be considered amply to have achieved its object’.

‘The trial, in fact, from the point of view of those who have taken part in it, has been entirely satisfactory. It is a considerable achievement for fifty new-fangled vehicles to have travelled nearly 1100 miles in eleven days through a densely-populated country at a speed seldom, if ever, below the legal limit, with no incident more untoward than the deaths of one dog and one unmanageable horse, whose leg, coming in contact with a passing car, received such injuries that he had to be destroyed’.

‘The mechanical results of the trial have been very much what they were expected to be. That is to say, the established type of machine has proved itself entirely trustworthy, and between the Daimler, Napier, and Panhard motors there has been, in the matter of “staying power,” practically nothing to choose. Of the cars which entered, only four were driven by any other motive power than petroleum spirit.

Among the large machines the more prominent have been the Hon. C. S. Rolls’ racing 12 horse-power Panhard, the 12 horse-power Daimlers owned by the Hon. John Scott-Montagu, M.P., Mr. J. R. Hargreaves, and Mr. J. A. Holder, and Mr. E. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier. In the 6 horse-power class the Daimlers and Panhards have been well represented, and with regard to these it may be said that, apart from special racing machines, the English-built cars have shown themselves to be at least as good as the French, and most people admit that the English workmanship is the better of the two. But it is a regrettable fact that English manufacturers still have to go to France for some of the most essential parts. Our spring and axle builders do not yet appreciate the opening that lies before them.’

 

‘The results of the hill-climbing trials, when published, will prove a better means than any other for comparing the respective merits of the cars from the purchaser’s point of view. To speak generally, the best cars of each class climbed astonishingly well, though there were probably few drivers who had no moments of anxiety on the way from Kendal to Carlisle. The condition of the roads on three out of the four test hills was fortunately good. Indeed, the roads throughout, with the exception of that between Manchester and Preston, which was execrable, have been in a satisfactory state of repair, though often muddy and greasy. There can be no doubt that, if the road authorities were provided out of the rates with solid-tired motor cars instead of horses and traps, the immediate improvement in the roads would be so great as to be well worth the increased cost of the vehicle.’

‘Speed pure and simple is in this country a secondary consideration, but, by way of fully testing all the powers of the cars, an optional trial of speed was carried out on Friday in Welbeck Park. The following speeds were attained by the fastest cars:  Min. Sec. The Hon. C. S. Rolls’s 12 horse-power Panhard . 1 35 3-5 Mr. Ed. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier and Mr. Mark Mayhew’s 8 horse-power Panhard . 2 1 3-5 The Ariel Motor Company’s tricycle, with trailer . 2 2 1-5 Mr. T. A. Holder’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 17 1-5  The Hon. John Scott-Montagu’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 18. The distance was one mile, with flying start and the figures given are the mean of one run over the course in each direction. The road, which had slight gradients, was in good condition.’

‘If I were asked what had chiefly impressed me in the course of this journey of 1000 miles, I should say that it was the certainty that the next few years will see an enormous increase in the use of motor cars. The new method of locomotion has been taken seriously, and the friendly interest in it displayed by the thousands who have witnessed this trial will greatly facilitate its progress. At present good motor cars are somewhat expensive and difficult to procure at a moment’s notice. They also require for their maintenance in working order the services of a professional driver or of a mechanically-minded amateur. But these are difficulties which competition, the first place, and familiarity, in the second, will speedily overcome. There are in the country at this moment far more motor cars than might be supposed-the indifference to them of the horses in many districts, is already very remarkable and it is impossible to believe that, so soon as they become cheaper, their numbers will not largely increase.’

Indeed!

Credits…

Science and Society Picture Library, Getty Images, The Brisbane Courier

Tailpiece…

Unfortunately none of these shots Getty captions indicate the exact locale. A bumma.

Finito…

stan 2

Stan Jones wins the 1954 Victoria Trophy at Fishermans Bend in his shortlived, brand new Maybach 2, 21 March 1954…

Regular readers may recall the feature on Stan, Alan’s dad and a champion in his own right a while back. There are not many photos of Maybach 2 as it was only raced briefly before Stanley comprehensively destroyed it after a chassis weld failure, at the ’54 AGP at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Jones raced Maybach 2 at Easter Bathurst, then Altona, Victoria on May 2 and at Fishermans Bend in October before that fateful November weekend. Still, he was lucky not to lose his life in the high speed trip backwards through the Southport scrub and trees.

The beauty of these online blogs is that you can continually update them as you find new shots, this set are so good I thought it worth a fresh post.

davo HWM Jag

Davison in his new HWM Jag (VHRR Archive)

Maybach wasn’t ready for the Victoria Trophy preliminary on Saturday, but contested the 64 mile feature event on the airfield circuit in Melbourne’s inner west.

He took the lead from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar before the first corner. Davos’ original intention was to fit the HWM with the engine from his Alfa Romeo P3, the complexities of that undertaking with the straight-eight, supercharged engines central power take-off were immense! He therefore fitted the HWM with a Jaguar engine topped by a C-Type head, the car was victorious at Southport in November winning the first of Davison’s four AGPs.

It was Jones’ Victorian Trophy though, he lapped the field, leading Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol over the line by three miles.

jack brabham

Davison #3 HWM Jag, Ted Gray #8 Alta Ford V8 and Brabham’s obscured Cooper T23 Bristol. Fishermans Bend 1954 (VHRR Archive)

jb and art wylie

Arthur Wylie in the Wylie Javelin ahead of Brabham’s Cooper Bristol. Victorian Trophy 1954 (VHRR Archive)

sil massola HRG

Silvio Massola’s HRG, Fishermans Bend 1954 (unattributed)

Etcetera…

(The Age)

Stan won in 1953 too.

Here he is, two happy chaps Ern Seeliger at left, again at Fishos, on this occasion Ern had prepared Maybach. But he was also a racer as well as an engineer, famously adapting Maybach 3 to accept a Chev V8 creating, you guessed it, Maybach 4.

A very talented man, little has been written about him and the products of his Richmond workshop, a great future topic.

Photo Credits…

Victorian Historic Racing Register archive

Finito…