Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

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Patrese debuts Arrows A1-06 Ford at Kyalami, South African GP 1979. Q8 and 11th in the race won by Gilles Villeneuve’ Ferrari 312T4 (Schlegelmilch)

What’s it like livin’ and lovin’ the most successful race engine ever built?…

Our ‘Racers Retreat’, Peter Brennan owns and cares for ‘DFV250’. I have decided in fact he is a ‘perick’! Not only can he drive ‘big cars’ very quickly but he can  also reconstruct, rebuild and maintain the things which makes him a multi-talented ‘perick!

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Pete Brennan in the Arrows at Phillip Island, Paul Faulkner’s ex-Jones ’81 Williams FW07 behind (Brennan)

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Villeneuve and Patrese, 7th and 5th in the 1979 Belgian GP at Zolder. Ferrari 312 T4 and Arrows A1 ’06’ May 1979 (unattributed)

‘DFV250’ sits in the back of his Arrows A1-‘06’. It was Ricardo Patrese’s car for the early season races in ’79 before Arrows switched to the more advanced but unsuccessful A2 which was not Tony Southgate’s best work. A1-06 was then sold for Aurora Series and Historic F1 use, eventually ending up in the Al Copeland Collection from whom Pierre acquired it after Copeland’s passing.

We will get to restoration of the Arrows and the Ford DFV which was at the ‘dismantle, crack-test and reassemble’ end of the spectrum rather than the ‘reconstruct around the monocoque bulkheads, four corners and ‘box’ huge task which Lola T330 ‘HU18’ represented, soon. Click on this link for a series of articles on that mammoth job which shows Peter’s talents.

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/24/lellas-lola-restoration-of-the-ex-lella-lombardi-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-1/

For now I just want to focus on the care and maintenance of a DFV race to race which I expect is rather more involved than that of my ‘Peter Larner Engines’ 105bhp Formula Ford ‘Kent’ moteur?

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Clark on the way to the DFV and Lotus 49’s first win, Dutch GP, Zandvoort 4 June 1967. Clark leads Brabham Brabham BT19 Repco 2nd, Rindt Cooper T81B Maserati DNF and Hulme Brabham BT20 Repco 3rd (Schlegelmilch)

 

 

Why the DFV you ask?…

Keith Duckworth’s Ford sponsored 1967 3 litre, 4 valve, fuel injected, 2993cc V8 is both the most successful grand prix engine of all time with 155 championship GP wins from 1967-1983 but also part of the winningest ‘family’ of engines. The DFV spun off the 3.9 litre Le Mans winning endurance racing ‘DFL’ and single turbo-charged 2.65 litre ‘DFX’ Indy victor.

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Theo Page cutaway of the Ford Cosworth DFV in 1967. All the key elements referred to in the text covered in this superb drawing

Phil Reilly Engineering…

Brennan has tackled all manner of race engines over the years including lots of Chevs, Repco Holden F5000, Repco Brabham V8’s and various Coventry Climax FPF’s, but the DFV was new to him. His ‘guru’, a source of advice from afar and the fellow to whom he sent the his heads was Phil Reilly who has forgotten more about these engines than most people ever knew. His ‘shop, well known to American enthusiasts is in Corte Madera, California. Reilly Engineerings ‘Care and Feeding Your Cosworth DFV’ and Peters practices in looking after ‘250’ form the basis of this article.

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Butt shot of one of the Lotus 49’s upon debut at Zandvoort 1967, ZF 5 speed ‘box, the ratios of which could not easily be changed about to be swapped. Shot shows the brilliant packaging of the DFV. Lotus’ Chapman prescribed a stress bearing V8 to Keith Duckworth inclusive of the way he wanted to attach the engine to the chassis at the bulkhead aft of the driver. Note the tubular brackets either side of the Borg and Beck clutch to which the suspension mounts. Their is no tubular frame or monocoque structure aft the driver, the engine itself forms the function of being the bit to which other bits are attached! Part of the brilliance of the DFV is its combination of power, weight, reliability and cost, the other aspect is the way it integrates with the chassis (Schlegelmilch)

DFV’s and DFV’s…

The development of these engines has effectively never stopped, you can still buy the bits from Cosworth Engineering, inclusive of a new engine should you buzz it to 15000rpm on an errant downchange and pop a rod or three thru its slender aluminium or magnesium flanks.

The DFV in Jim Clark’s winning Lotus 49 at Zandvoort on 4 June 1967 gave a smidge over 405bhp, its power delivery in the early days quite ferocious, coming in with a bang all up top, making it a bit of a challenge for Messrs Clark and Hill. A long stroke, same as Jims, engine like DFV250 gave around 470bhp and 260 lbs/foot of torque at 10500/9000rpm respectively whilst being thrashed to within an inch of its life by Patrese in early 1979.

A wrong turn of phrase really as the talented Italian multiple GP winner was both mechanically sympathetic and great test driver.

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Jacky Ickx, Ensign N177 Ford, Monaco GP 1977, 10th in the race won by Scheckter’s Wolf WR1 Ford (unattributed)

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All go and no show Cosworth Engineering. Subtle stamping of engine number in the engines valley (Brennan)

In fact when ‘250’ was first born it was a Cosworth lease engine used by Team Ensign and supplied to them on December 3 1976.

It was fitted to the N177 chassis’ driven by Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni, multi GP winners both, during 1977.  Without the teams records its not possible to know into which chassis ‘250’ was installed race by race.

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Launch of the Arrows A1 at Silverstone in late 1977, maybe they figured the white body against the white snow would disguise its similarity to the new Shadow DN9, the design drawings of which Southgate erroneously thought were his! Patrese in car, Jack Oliver behind left and Tony Southgate at right. The High Court writ was shortly ‘in the mail’ (unattributed)

The engine was then bought by Arrows when the team spun out of Shadow. Jackie Oliver, Alan Rees, Tony Southgate and Dave Wass all felt they could ‘build a better mousetrap’ and left Don Nichols outfit at the end of 1977. The High Court legal stoush about ‘IP infringement’ which followed is a story for another time; in some ways Nichols had the last laugh as Shadow won a GP, the 1977 Austrian when Alan Jones took his first win in an a DN8 Cosworth, whereas Arrows never did win one albeit the business lasted a lot longer than Shadow…

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(Brennan)

The Calm Before The Storm…

Here is ‘250’ all ready to rock on Peter’s dyno; ‘It takes about a day to plumb the thing up, its godda be done very carefully of course. Cosworth prescribe very fully how to do it (see below) Having gotten thru all the preliminary stages of running it in, i gave the thing ‘a tug’. All was okey-dokey for a bit and then all hell broke loose, a huge bang and then schrapnel everywhere!’

‘Thank christ it wasn’t the engine itself. The DFV’s vibrate so much it broke the dyno driveshaft @ 9200 rpm precisely! I have had all manner of donks on that dyno, over 500bhp Chevs etc but nothing has done that before. Having had that happen i still haven’t given it a full power run on the dyno anyway!’

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, the rebuild of the engine itself we will cover in an article about the car.

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Brennan’s dyno driveshaft after Cosworth assault @ 9200rpm (Brennan)

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Cosworth’s dyno running in procedures dated 31 October 1977 (Cosworth)

DFV use in Modern Times…

Phil Reilly; ‘If you rev the engine to 10800/11000rpm as Messrs Hunt, Fittipaldi and Jones did you will get the sort of engine bills Messrs Mayer, Fittipaldi and Williams paid!’

‘The DFV with an 11000rpm rev limit is a 3-4 hour motor…which will blow up big-time every now and then…needing an injection of $10-15K of parts and lots of (expensive) TLC…for vintage events use 10000rpm as a normal shift point. Doing this keeps the engine well below its stress point yet still provides enough power to test any drivers skills…the bonus is the engine will live 15-20 hours between rebuilds’.

Geoff Richardson Engineering have been looking after the engines since their heyday, James Claridge provided their perspective; ‘The routine rebuild interval for an engine limited to 10000rpm is approximately 1000 miles’.

‘This would comprise of us stripping it down, crack testing components, inspection of all parts, followed by re-assembly and dyno testing. Replacement of valve springs happens every time.Possible replacement of pistons depending on condition, if they were re-used they would certainly be replaced at 2000 miles. The same applies to all of the valves, they are taken on condition. New con-rod bolts are fitted, all new bearings, a new set of piston rings, and all new seals and O-rings are fitted. Nearly all the other parts are taken on condition and replaced accordingly’.

‘An engine with no issues or catastrophes that we knew the history of and is well looked after might cost somewhere in the region of £12-15000.00 to completely refresh’.

Peter Brennan provides the drivers perspective; ‘ The DFV has three quite distinct phases of power, one bangs in at 5500rpm, the next at 7000, then it goes ballistic at 9000 and all you do is chase gears with the tach going bananas…’ ‘Its not that difficult to get off the line, it obviously doesn’t have 500 plus foot pounds of torque like an F5000, sliding the foot sideways off the throttle at around 8000 rpm and then modulating it to match wheelspin with circuit grip soon has you motoring in the direction of tomorrow pretty smartly!’

Click on this footage of Brennan in the Arrows at the Adelaide Motorfest in 2014, the event uses part of the Adelaide GP circuit and some other streets.

‘The howl of the thing at 10000rpm as it yelps its way from cog to cog along the main straight at Phillip Island; with a 22/24 top fitted, fifth is 183 mph @ 10000rpm is unbelievable and Patrese would probably take it flat! Its not to be believed and relished every time you do it, Southern Loop comes up all too soon, its not the seagulls you are focused on as you turn the thing in believe me’.

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Bruce Allison in the March 771/781 Ford, Thruxton or Oulton Park in 1978 (Allison)

Bruce Allison raced Cosworth powered March’s in the Aurora Series in 1978 ‘The record of the engine speaks for itself, it will still be popular in historic racing in 50 years! The engine was powerful, smooth and reliable the cars of course handled better with far less weight at the back than the F5000’s i was used to. The 781 March may have been the 782 with a DFV shoved in it but it was a beautiful handling car, the 761 chassis i used early in the season was not as good but the engines were always great, beautiful to drive’.

Lookin’ After Cossie: These things are like a mistress, stunning to look at but always wanting attention, never happy and a constant sap of cash…

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Brennan’s sense of humor never too far from the surface! ’06’ at Sandown historics 2014. Dissertation on the chassis and suspension i will save for the article on the car itself. Shot included to show just how much the engines compact size, packaging and stress bearing nature assists the chassis designer. Compare how Tony Southgate mounts his suspension to the engine via these fabricated aluminium plates compared with Chapman’s tubular structures in the Lotus 49 of 1967. Note back of sparkbox in the Vee, ‘two towers’ behind that to connect with air scoop to cool inboard mounted rear discs, rear suspension outta the airsteam and clear of G/E tunnels, single support for gold rear wing, oil cooler and black painted starter motor with drive going forward (Bisset)

Storage and Fuel System.

The engine needs to be turned over by hand one revolution each week. Turn on the fuel pump as well, this will ensure no two valve springs remain fully compressed for too long and will circulate fuel through the metering unit to prevent corrosion and keep all the seals from sticking in one place.

The fuel filter needs to be changed every 500-700 miles, the engines have a high pressure pump to start and a mechanical one for normal on circuit running. The engine won’t run below 2000 rpm on the mechanical one, the electric one is needed for starting, fuel pressure of 120psi needs to be maintained at all time, at least 95 psi is needed to fire her up.

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‘250’ ‘right bank’ showing both the auxiliary drive belt housing (right) and the super clever oil scavenge/de-aerator pump at left and one of the water pumps in between. The black coupling between oil and water pumps is called an ‘oldham drive’, a flexible joint (Brennan)

Olio.

A more critical liquid than fuel is oil. The engine must be plumbed to Cosworth specs…its data sheet DA0626 for ‘DFV250’ and the like. Its critical the engine never sucks air, at high revs bearing failure will result. At 10000rpm the engine is rotating at 166 times plus per second.

Peter; ‘I use Kendall 20/50 mineral oil, which has a high zinc content which is great for the cams and followers’. The Cosworth oil filter (Part #PP0404) needs to be changed every 300 miles, the oil level needs to be checked religiously as the engine uses as much as 4 quarts every 100 miles.

Oil temperature should be 90-100 degrees centigrade measured at the inlet to the pressure pump. 7000rpm should not be exceeded before the oil is at least 50 degrees centigrade.

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‘250’ ready to be refitted to ’06’ in Brennans eastern Melbourne workshop. Note spark box between the Vee and behind it the fuel metering unit below the ‘aeroquip’ lines, Lucas injection of slide as against butterfly type. ‘Knurled wheel’ beside rear LH injector sets mixture, ‘behind’ this is the drive for the mechanical tach. Line at far right is cable drive for electro-mechanical fuel pump. The more you look the more elegant the packaging of it all is (Brennan)

Spark.

‘250’ has the Lucas ‘Opus’ system which has a pickup on the crank which fires the Opus at 38-40 degrees BTDC. The Opus also has a retard mechanism which is set for starting at 12 degrees BTDC.

The DFV has an alternator which provides sufficient power as long as the electrical  fuel pump is switched off, DFV pilots need to remember this as they zap away from pitlane. ‘Pump Off’ was a familiar pit signal for decades!

Ignition timing is set on the dyno and is usually impossible to change in the chassis. Opus runs at 38-40 degrees BTDC, the sytem needs to be mounted in a cool place, the stock Cosworth mounting between the injection trumpets is usually fine.

The engine must be connected to negative earth with rev limiters set to 10400rpm.

The plugs are 10mm Bosch surface discharge to special order. Warm up plugs aren’t required, with plug life 3-4 race weekends. The plug wells need to be blown out, the HT leads removed with pliers. Plugs are tensioned to 9-10 foot pounds having been coated with ‘Copaslip’ first.

Spark boxes are delicate devices, you will kill them by voltage spikes caused by breaking the earth, so be clear on shut down procedures.

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Throttle linkage of Brennans Arrows at Sandown 2014, ’06’ about to fired up. Note the ‘Opus’ spark box between the injection trumpets and black electro-mechnical fuel pump atop the centrally mounted, between driver and engine, fuel cell. Note radiator header tank and cap, bottom right is roll bar support bracket (Bisset)

Mechanical Installation.

The valve cover engine mounting bolts are 5/16 inch UNF and should be tightened to 16-18 ft pounds, be careful not to over-tighten to avoid cracking or deforming the magnesium casting.

The engine throttle slides have four over-centre return springs at the rear, these are a unique Cosworth invention which both reduces pedal pressure and ensures the slides close fully when you lift your foot. But they are not the throttle return springs which sould be well designed and of the ‘compression type’.

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‘The Bomb’; Distributor cap missing at left, alternator in the middle and fuel metering unit at right, This is driven by a quill shaft off the complex gear set (shaft is only 6mm in diameter and designed to snap in cold weather rather the metering unit itself!) (Brennan)

The system needs to be cleaned and lubed regularly. The metering unit fuel cam should be flushed with aerosol ‘brake clean’ and carefully lubricated with a dab of ‘Copaslip’ before each event. If the fuel cam mechanism is gummy it will cause the throttle to seem to stick on.

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‘250’ this time showing the ‘left side’ of the engine with combined water pump and oil pressure pump/filter assy. 250 engine a ‘twin water pump long stroke engine’ as against later ‘slim line’ from circa 1980 which only had one water/oil pump to maximise the space available for ground effects tunnels (Brennan)

The cooling system must not trap air, use bleeds as required, the system uses a 15-20psi cap. A 50/50 mix of water/glycol keeps corrosion in check and lubricates the water pump. Temperature strips should be used to monitor ‘real’ engine temperatures. The water outlet temps at the back of the heads should be 90-110 degrees centigrade and inlet temps 70-80 degrees.

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‘250’ during its disassembly. Complex gear train to drive 32 valves, with degree plate to record engine valve timing during disassembly as a matter of record (Brennan)

Fuel & Fuel System.

Peter uses 100 octane avgas. Light engine oil is always added to the fuel to increase the life of the metering unit, fuel pumps and valve guides/seats. 20/50 Kendall is used, the ratio 2 ounces to 5 gallons of fuel.

The Lucas system needs 120psi to operate properly. Individual injector nozzles should seal at 50-65psi and thus not leak when the electrical pump is switched on, some leakage at 100psi plus is not unusual but it shouldn’t be pissin out…

The metering unit cam is set to run at specific clearances, typical DFV settings are .006 inch idle and .078inch wide open, these settings are 1 notch from full lean. These settings will be on the engine build sheet, check them periodically.

The mechanical fuel pump seal should be lubricated every 500 miles

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Cosworth DFV and its constituent parts (unattributed)

Trivial Pursuit Question?

The firing order is; 1-8-3-6-4-5-2-7

Cold Weather Operation.

Clearances in the metering unit are so tight that in cold weather the quill drive or the metering unit drive will break. Not a good idea.

In weather below 45 degrees fahrenheit the engine shouldn’t be spun over before warming the metering unit with either a hair dryer or judicious amounts of boiling water being poured over it.

Firing Her Up: The Good Bit.

Warm up plugs and oil heaters aren’t needed, so some of the theatre of a bygone era is lost!

Make sure Arrows isn’t in gear!

Set the fuel cam datum pin to full rich

Switch on the electric fuel pump

100psi of fuel pressure should be present

Crank the engine over for 8-10 seconds with the throttle full open

Then prime each injection trumpet with a delicate squirt of fuel

Hit the Opus system retard switch (switch back across for on circuit work)

Switch on the ignition

Hold the throttle open about 25%, start the engine, but don’t race it as it fires. Hold her steady above 2300rpm, savouring the beautiful music it plays, settle the revs wherever the mechanical chatter is minimised but @ around 2300rpm

Its important not to run the engine below 2000rpm as the cams are not properly lubricated below that

Once the engine settles down with a little temperature switch off the electric fuel pump.

As the engine warms, the engine should be leaned one datum pin down, one notch at a time. With each notch it will spit and crackle a bit until it warms to it.

Engines are set normally to run one notch from full lean, they will be ‘grumpy’ at low speed which is normal.

Oil pressure should be 40-60 psi, make sure your driver has a look every now and then on circuit!

Unsurprisingly running a DFV is more complex than its Ford ‘Kent’ little brother! If the maintenance regime is followed and the driver keeps the engine in its optimum band and doesn’t buzz it on the down-changes, something Ricardo did during his Arrows days according to Tony Southgate then ‘DFV250’ will last around 1700-2000 miles  between rebuilds…

DFV Engine in the Ground Effect Era…

Credits & Bibliography…

Peter Brennan many thanks

Phil Reilly Engineering, Geoff Richardson Engineering

Dossier on Arrows A1-06 written by Alan Henry for oldracingcars.com

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece…

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allen and matich bathurst 1969

(oldracephotos.com/Dick Simpson)

Niel Allen’s Elfin 400 Chev ‘BB662’ leads Frank Matich’s hi-winged Matich SR4 Repco and Bevan Gibson’s ill-fated Elfin 400 Repco, Easter Bathurst 1969…

There are so many historic elements to Dick Simpson’s wonderful shot of the three cars in ‘The Dipper’ on lap 1 of the Sunday feature race.

Allen is in Frank’s old car, the first Elfin 400/Traco Olds ‘BB662’, Matich’s 5 litre quad-cam Repco ‘RB760’ engined car slaughtered the opposition in 1969. It was intended for the 1968 Can Am but was completed too late, its high wings will be shortly outlawed as all such appendages were over the 1969 Monaco GP weekend…and tragically Bevan died during this race, a victim of circumstances and the aero of the 400 which was not, with the knowledge of the time, ‘fully resolved’.

I have not written an article about one of our ‘Racers Retreat’ Peter Brennan’s restorations for a while, this article features his ex-Frank Matich Elfin 400/ Traco Olds ‘BB662’ Sports Car.

I had almost finished it a few weeks ago and then the tragic news of Frank Matich’s death on May 11 came through.

With the assistance of his former colleagues at the time, Bruce Richardson and Geoff Smedley i have been able to fill in some gaps and i think portray an objective account of the Elfin 400’s design and construction, which has been somewhat contentious down the decades.

This article is dedicated to this incredibly talented racer, constructor and businessman. Truly a great Australian. Frank Matich.

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‘Auto Sportsman’ cover July 1966 depicts Frank Matich ‘Australian Tourist Trophy’ win at Longford in February. Elfin 400/Traco Olds ‘BB662’.

Historic Context…

It’s interesting to look at the explosion of motor racing post war as the vestiges of conflict faded away and people started to live their lives again and indulge in their passions.

Consumer credit became more available, manufacturers introduced new models of cars and of course wanted to extol their virtues and promote their brands via motor racing.

In the US, sports car racing was the focus of road racing at the time, single seater racing being mainly the province of speedways. The Europeans slugged it out with local specials powered by increasingly larger capacity V8’s. Ferrari and Maserati built cars such as the 340 America and 450S as cars like the Allard Cadillacs, their 6 litre engines providing stiff competition to the D Types, 300S Masers’ and Monza Ferraris’ the latter three began to dominate based on numbers alone.

A ‘game changer’ was the introduction of the small block Chev V8 introduced into 1955 model cars. The engine was 100 pounds lighter than any other production V8 at the time and compact. Lance Reventlow exploited its virtues in his Scarabs in 1958.

The Cooper Monaco and Lotus 19, mid-engined cars powered by the Coventry Climax FPF brought a level of subtlety to the fields but it wasn’t long before the small block Chev, Ford ‘Windsor’ V8 introduced in 1962 and the F85 aluminium Oldsmobile engines found their way into the backs of the Coopers and Loti. These ‘small and big block’ modern V8’s established a new paradigm globally for sportscar racing, they won everything up to and including Le Mans.

The focus of the European and English racing car manufacturers was the US market where there was much money to be made supplying this strong sportscar scene which launched the careers of Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney and Richie Ginther into Europe in the ’50’s.

In Australia the bigger racing budgets were devoted to single seaters although we had a smattering of Jag C and D Types’, 300S, Lotus 11’s and 15’s all of which could double up in events like the Australian Grand Prix which was run to Formula Libre until 1961.

In the early 60’s Frank Matich and Bib Stillwell slugged it out in both single seaters and sportscars; Stillwell in a Cooper Monaco I wrote about a while back and Frank Matich in a Lotus 19 and later, after the earlier car was destroyed in a Warwick Farm testing accident, a Lotus 19B. Both cars were Coventry Climax powered. (Stillwells Cooper was fitted with an ex-Scarab Traco Buick engine later)

‘Cranky Franky’ was an awesome competitor and engineer, his later self built cars were of world class and won Australian Sportscar and Gold Star (Single Seater) Championships.

In 1962 Matich raced Elfin Clubman, Formula Junior and 1.5 litre cars as a factory driver, in fact he ‘cut his single seater teeth’ with Elfin and was appointed the firms NSW Agent. Elfin is the South Australian company created by Garrie Cooper in 1958, it evolved from his fathers body-building business and became Australia’s largest and most successful producer of racing cars, building over 350 cars and winning dozens of Championships until well after Coopers death in April 1982

The modest, understated Cooper, a titan of Australian Motor Racing was to play a key role in Matich’s next championship winning sportscar.

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FM cutting the grass in the Lotus 19B Climax, Homestead Corner, Warwick Farm. This car was extensively and continually developed by Matich and his team and had some Brabham components; wheels and brakes at the end of its life which occurred at Lakeside in 1965. Chassis number unknown, car taken to Elfin and used as a reference for the 400 design, car last seen atop a workshop at Elfins many years ago…destiny unknown. (John Ellacott)

Destruction of Lotus 19B Climax…

Matich had success in his Lotus 19’s, winning the Australian Tourist Trophy in the 19B at Longford in 1964. He was the favourite to win the title at Lakeside in 1965, but the competition was to be stiffer than the year before with no less a driver than Ken Miles competing in a factory Cobra a long way from home.

Frank decided to contest a sports car event during the Lakeside Gold Star Meeting in July as his final preparation for the ATT  in November.

Matich was out in practice when he lost it behind the pits, the throttle of the car stuck open, he crashed the car  through the fence at around 120 miles per hour badly damaging it and giving Matich second degree burns to his hands and back.

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Frank Matich pictured later in his career at Wigram, NZ. Tasman Series 1973. The car is his self built F5000 Matich A50 Repco, and here he is typically deep in thought pondering the setup changes he needs. He was 4th, the race won by his Kiwi rival in the constructor/driver stakes, Graham McRae in his McRae GM1 Chev. (Shane Lee)

The result was that Total, the French Oil Company and Matich’s sponsor, withdrew their support, the local distribution company had recently been taken over by Boral in Australia.

Ray Bell ‘They (Total) had been looking to Frank to win the Gold Star in the Brabham and continue blitzing the field in the 19B, but he was now out of racing for some time and they bailed right out of their deal with him’.

Laurie O’Neil was a wealthy Sydney businessman who had the franchise for Peterbilt Trucks, he had and would for many years own cars others raced, he was a sponsor of the Lotus 19B and would support Matich in a new car.

chassis and engine

The Matich 400 ‘BB662’ coming together at Elfins, Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown. Side pontoons, Traco Olds 4.5 litre F85 engine and Hewland HD5 gearbox. Key elements of the engine; Engle roller cam, stock rockers but fabricated steel rocker stand or pedestal, JE pistons, Warren machined ‘H Beam’ rods, Moldex steel crank, 4 48 IDA Webers, conventional Delco Remy distributor and coil ignition, Traco inlet manifold, McLaren supplied exhausts; circa 350-365bhp at 6500 rpm. By 1966 the Olds even at 5 litres wasn’t enough to do the job in the ‘States, but in Oz it was more than sufficient, the engine 200 pounds lighter than a 5.4 litre Chev with consequent benefits in terms of running gear, weight transfer etc. (Bob Mills Collection)

Birth of The Elfin 400…

According to Barry Catford in ‘Australias Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ Garrie Cooper was developing his own ideas for his first ‘big banger’ sports car as he had been approached by an existing customer, Noel Hurd to build a car powered by a Ford 289cid V8.

Cooper visited the UK looking at the latest racers and had commenced the design process of the car according to Noel Hurd who confirmed as such to journalist Ray Bell in August 2002. Still, the somewhat contentious part of this story is the input Matich had into the design of the Elfin 400, which was to be the new cars type designation, as against Cooper himself.

Geoff Smedley was Matich’s engineer at the time and recalled ‘I started to work with Frank after John Youl retired from racing (a world class driver of Cooper Climaxes from Tasmania) and have memories on the birth of the Elfin 400, it was in 1965 after the demise of the 19B at Lakeside. Garrie Cooper came over from Adelaide to Sydney, Frank and i picked him up and we had a long lunch, about half the day. We discussed the layout of the car, the ideas were drawn up on a restaurant serviette incorporating salvageable bits from the Lotus.’

‘At that stage we assumed we would use the Coventry Climax FPF from the Lotus, the decision to go with the Traco was made later. Garrie designed the car using the general layout we discussed and agreed. The final design couldn’t be finalised until we decided what could be used from the 19B. The Hewland HD5 box’ was used and i think the car was set up on the 19 uprights but i am not sure the car ever raced on them.’

‘I spent much time at Elfins’ in Adelaide machining many of the components as Garrie had a lathe but not a machinist which was my core skill. Garrie Cooper was a brilliant man and all the credit must go his way for the 400, it was an Elfin’ Smedley said.

‘Total had kept me on to sort out the sale of all of the bits left over from the Lotus and Brabham race program, but it all got too hard and complex so i left to work on other projects

g cooper ian smith

Lovely portrait of Garrie Cooper taken in the late 1970’s by Ian Smith. The ‘Ansett Team Elfin’ F5000 MR5/6/8/9’s were mainstays of Australian top level single seater racing for the best part of a decade from 1972. Cooper a remarkably successful designer/constructor and fine driver. (Ian Smith)

After Geoff Smedley’s departure, Bruce Richardson was employed to work on the program ‘I worked with FM on the Leaton Motors owned D Type Jag and Lotus 15 from around 1958 and then left to go overseas. I was working for Reg Parnell Racing in Europe at the time Total/Matich were looking for a competitive sportscar and made the introductions on their behalf to UDT Laystall which resulted in the purchase of FM’s first, ex-Moss 19.’

‘When I returned to Australia Laurie O’ Neil had decided to get actively back into motor racing by supporting Frank Matich into another car, which became the Elfin 400. He bought the wreck of the Lotus 19B from the insurers, employed me to look after the car and employed FM on his books as a salesman. early on Frank and i had discussed the various cars we liked at the time including Bruce McLaren’s ‘Zerex Special’ Cooper, all of which was later discussed with Garrie Cooper’

Laurie soon despatched me to Adelaide to pick the 400 up, I had only just got married so off my wife and I went on the long trip from Sydney by road South West. When we arrived in Edwardstown Garrie was surprised to see us, the car was far from finished!’

The Noel Hurd, Globe Engineering owned car was the prototype and given the chassis number ‘BB661′ but was soon relegated to the second built, with the Hurds’ generous consent, to allow the Matich car to be completed first. Frank wanted to contest the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy at Longford in February 1966.

Richardson, ‘I stayed in Adelaide and helped build up the car together with Fulvio Mattiolo, a great bloke and fabricator, John Webb who built the body, Bob Mills and others. To my recollection none of the parts from the 19B were used in the 400.’ (other than the Hewland gearbox as noted above by Geoff Smedley)

‘The engine was a brand new Traco Olds based on the F85 block, Laurie was always bringing in cars from the US so he plonked it in the boot of one of his imports! I had several trips for Laurie to see the Traco guys in Culver City, both Jim Travers and Frank Coon were remarkable people and very professional to deal with’.

‘The engine itself was very good, the problems were inherent with the lightweight block once they developed over about 300BHP. The block distorted quite a lot causing loss of oil pressure. We used Merv Waggott’s dyno in Sydney and had him make some steel sleeves to fit into the block where the cam followers ran which helped the problem. Repco had similar issues with the same block they used in F1, solving them by building their own blocks from the 1967 season.’

‘With time running short, we planned to do the sports car events which were part of the 1966 Tasman Series Australian rounds, especially the Tourist Trophy, at Longford we took the car back to Peterbilts headquarters in Sydney. There the finishing touches were completed including the rear body, John Webb came to Sydney to do that, the exhaust system, painting etc. The car made its race debut at Sandown having been tested at Warwick Farm.’

body

The body of the 400 was hand formed by John Webb in aluminium with a fibreglass female mould taken from the nose section.. (Bob Mills Collection)

Matich related his version of the 400’s design and build in a ‘Vintage Racecar Journal’ article published in August 2002, unfortunately 20 years after Garrie Coopers’ death and therefore ability to respond…

‘Garrie Cooper of Elfin came to see me (after Matich destroyed his Lotus 19B) as he had orders to build a big sports car and had a proposition. They would do the work and build the car to my design if they, with some modification, could apply the design to their own version.  VRJ: So your own car was known as the SR3?

FM: The first car for me was called the Traco Olds. I was a bit embarrassed and didn’t want to call it a Matich…My good pal, Laurie O’Neil, was involved with me and had bought an engine from friends at Traco Engineering in America and we agreed to call the car a Traco. They were flattered but there was a bit of criticism as everyone thought there was some disagreement between Elfin and us. There was no disagreement, but there
was a little problem as BP had an arrangement with Elfin where they used to pay a bonus for every race that an Elfin car won. As a result of that, Elfin wanted me to call the car an Elfin; then they offered me a part of what BP was paying but I wouldn’t agree, so it all became too bloody complex. So from then on I decided to call them Matiches’.

In fact the ‘spin’ by Frank started very early, in an Australian ‘Auto Sportsman’ October 1966 article written by Ray Simpson. The article says ‘ The early stages of construction were carried out with the help of Garrie Cooper at the Elfin works in Adelaide. Completion of the project however took place at the Peterbilt Works in Sydney where Bruce Richardson and Rennmax exponent Bob Britton finalised the design and finished the car’.

The photos in this article clearly show the car being built at Elfins in Adelaide, the account of Geoff Smedley and Bruce Richardson confirm both the design and construction of the car by Cooper/Elfin in Adelaide with only the finishing touches made in Sydney, the bodywork itself completed by Elfin’s John Webb there.

Britton had no role in the design or construction of the 400. He did build the Matich SR3, Franks’ 1967 Repco powered Can Am contender, the chassis of which is ‘as good as a copy’ Elfin 400 according to Bruce Richardson, ‘something Bob Britton and i had a chuckle about in recalling all the fun times, challenges and success we had with Matich at his recent funeral’.

What seems likely is this; That Cooper had started the design of what became the 400 before Matich ‘boofed’ his 19B. That Cooper and Matich met in Sydney, at whose instigation is unclear. That the general conceptual layout of the car was agreed and ‘documented’ on a serviette. That the remains of the Matich 19B  were used as reference points only, no parts of the Lotus other than the Hewland HD5 ‘box were used in the ‘BB662’ build. That Cooper designed the car, which he had commenced, perhaps changing the detail of the design to be consistent with the ‘conceptual serviette layout’ and whatever learnings were to be taken from the very dead but still useful 19B…

The basic dimensions of the car were referenced from, or compared with depending on how far Coopers design had progressed when the Lotus arrived in Adelaide, the 19B. It was critical to both Matich and Cooper that the car was successful from the start.

Peter Brennan, having owned and restored ‘BB662’ 25 years ago comments; ‘…the rear frame is similar to the Lotus, the centre bulkhead is of the Lotus diaphragm type, the 400 uprights are very similar, Elfins perhaps took a pattern from them, the Lotus in standard form didn’t have a Hewland box, the Elfin had cast front uprights, the Lotus Alford and Alder uprights’.

The Lotus was a source of reference as was the ‘conceptual serviette’ but the car is entirely of Elfin detail design and manufacture as Geoff Smedley and Bruce Richardson confirm.

Matichs’ conversations with Cooper about the dynamic attributes and qualities of the car he sought would have been readily understood by Cooper, a champion driver himself. Matich had been racing ‘big sports cars’ for over a decade; C and D Type Jags, Lotus 15 and Lotus 19/19B. He knew what he wanted and what was needed to win. Garrie hadn’t raced a ‘big car’ to that point nor built one.

To say that they collaborated closely on the conceptual design of the car, that the detail design was Coopers’ and the cars construction was by Elfin is an accurate way to describe the design and build elements of the project.

400 chassis

400 space frame was fusion welded square, round and oval mild steel tubing. Lotus type centre diaphragm clear. (Bob Mills Collection)

Garrie Cooper designed a conventional space frame chassis which was fully triangulated and constructed of square, round and oval section tubes. The aluminium undertray and subsidiary bulkheads were stressed to add rigidity to the light structure. His first monocoque Elfin, the very successful Type 100 or ‘Mono’ single seater was winning races at the time and whilst the monocoque Lola GT, Ford GT40 and Lola T70 raced during 1963-5, a good space-frame could still do the job, time was of the essence and the successful Lotus 19B was a spaceframe…

Front suspension comprised upper and lower wishbones, coil springs and Armstong dampers, the uprights are cast magnesium, the roll bars adjustable. At the rear a single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and again coil spring damper units using Armstrong shocks was deployed. The sway bar was adjustable.

400 rear peterbilt

Rear shot of the Matich ‘BB662’ Olds in Sydney. Rear chassis diaphragm, Hewland HD5 ‘box, muffled! aluminium Traco Olds engine, inverted lower wishbones, Elfin cast magnesium uprights, driveshafts and adjustable sway bar all clear. Rear tyres 15 inch diameter X 12 inch wide shod with Firestone tyres to whom FM was contracted at the time. L>R Bruce Richardson, Matich, Laurie O’Neil. (John Ellacott)

The rack and pinion steering was Triumph Herald, the offset seating position encouraging Cooper to use this component.

Brakes were discs, 12 inch front and 11 inch rear using Girling BR calipers. Wheels were also of Elfin design and like the uprights were cast by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Fishermans Bend, Melbourne. They were 4 stud magnesium alloy, 15 inch X 10 inches in diameter at the front and 15 x 12 at the rear…to comply with Australian sports car regs a spare was also carried, mounted under the wrap around perspex windscreen.

The wheel base was 91 inches, track 55 inches, width 68 inches, length 148 inches, height 32inches and weight 1300 pounds.

Four Elfin 400’s were built; ‘BB661’ for Dick Bassett and Noel Hurd , ‘BB662’ for Laurie O’Neill and Frank Matich, ‘BB67-3’ for Bob Jane Racing and ‘BB67-4’ for Andy Buchanan in New Zealand.

All of the cars still exist and have interesting histories. For example, the Bassett car was fitted with a Ford Windsor V8 engine with DOHC heads developed by Globe Engineering for a period. The Bob Jane car was fitted with the first Repco Brabham RB620 racing engine sold to a customer, Brabhams engines all factory supplied as part of Jacks deal with Repco.

400 side rear

Car at Peterbilts’ Alexandria, Sydney base. Elfin 400 Traco Olds, February 1966. Car delivered completed without rear bodywork and all of the exhaust system. Rear body finished and fitted in Sydney by Elfins’ John Webb. Matich in the car, Laurie O’Neil and Bruce Richardson in overalls. (John Ellacott)

‘BB662’ without rear bodyword was taken to Sydney on February 8 1966 for completion and testing prior to the Australian Tourist Trophy which was contested during the Longford Tasman meeting on March 7.

Matich initially raced the car with the bodywork and its distinctive ‘front horns’ containing the headlights in place but these were later removed to attempt to overcome the aerodynamic lift that was characteristic of the car.

400 front peterbilt

Front of ‘BB662’ post painting in Sydney fitted with its controversial and aerodynamically unstable, original ‘front horns’ nose. The aero issues are explored in the text. It looks great, ‘edgy’ for its day but the aero was not ‘fully resolved’. (John Ellacott)

Elfins body-builder John Webb and Bruce Richardson accompanied the car to Sydney, the 400 being race ready to compete in the sportscar events at the 27 February Sandown Park, Victoria, Tasman meeting where it was immediately competitive. The body was completed the car pounding around ‘Franks Backyard’, Warwick Farm in Sydneys’ west before heading south to Melbourne and then across Bass Strait for the fabulous Longford meeting.

The ‘Racing Car News’ report of the ‘Elfin Traco Olds’ Sandown debut explains that the 365bhp car was barely slower than the 2.5 litre Tasman single-seaters. Matich won the race comfortably at a canter from Alan Hamiltons Porsche 906 and Spencer Martins’ Ferrari 250LM taking half a second off Bib Stillwells’ Cooper Monaco lap record ‘doing it so easily he’s saving a few seconds for the future…there just isn’t anything in the country that can come close to it in Sports Cars’.

Other than routine pre-race preparation the car was nicely ‘run in’ for its Australian Championship encounter the following weekend.

longford program 1966

(Ellis French Collection)

matich longford

ATT grid Longford 1966; #2 Matich Elfin 400/ Traco Olds, #1 Spencer Martin Ferrari 250LM, the red helmet on the far left is Alan Hamilton, his Porsche 904/6 Spyder invisible, #11 on row 2 is Lionel Ayers, a long way from Queensland in his Lotus 23B Ford . (Richard Blanden)

Frank Matich shares the front row of the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy grid at Longford with Spencer Martin’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM, his brand spanking new Elfin 400/ Traco Olds gleaming in the Tasmanian autumn sun…

The feature event of the annual carnival of racing at Longford was the Tasman race for 2.5 litre single-seaters, in ’66 the race was won by Jackie Stewarts BRM P261 but all eyes were on Jack Brabham and his BT19 Repco, the new partnership of Brabham and the RB620 engine making only its third start, the engine made its debut in South Africa, raced at Sandown the week before finishing 3rd behind the 2 BRM’s in Tasmania. The testing was all critical to give the package the reliability it needed to win the World Title, which of course Brabham did in 1966, doubling up with Denny Hulme in ’67.

The Australian Tourist Trophy was also an event of great stature, Matich took an easy win in an 8 lapper which opened the meeting, setting a lap record of 2:28 winning from Martin’s Ferrari and Frank Demuth’s Lotus 23B.

matich and ambrose

The latest Elfin Sports Car passes the first…Ross Ambrose (father of V8 SuperCar driver Marcus) is passed by Matich. Elfin Streamliner and 400 respectively. In fact FM muffed a gear under brakes and was nearly hit up the chuff by Ambrose. ATT Longford 1966. (oldracephotos.com.au/David Keep)

matich and richarson longford paddock

Mechanic Bruce Richardson and FM ponder changes to the Elfin 400/Traco Olds in the Longford Paddock. Note the sartorial elegance of the 2 Aussies in the background…Longford was always hot! (oldracephotos.com.au/David Keep)

matich tassie

Matich crosses the South Esk River, Longford 1966. The couple in the boat looking relaxed and dropping in a line…(Alan Stewart Collection)

The ATT was contested over 23 laps on day 2 of the carnival. ‘Racing Car News’ reported the event as follows ‘Martin made a slow start and allowed Hamilton’s Porsche 906 to follow Matich into the first corner, but took over 2nd towards the end of the first lap. Second time past the order was Matich, Martin, Hamilton, Demuth, Mitchell (RM1), then Ayers and Bolton…’

‘The pace was fast and furious but positions did not change greatly in the early laps…already Matich had lapped Bob Holden (Lolita) and Greg Ellis…Martin was forced into the pits on the 6th lap with a loose undertray and rejoined the race exactly as Matich went past.’

The order was Matich a half a lap ahead of Hamilton, Demuth, Ayers, Bolton and Holland, the latter 2 drivers in Lotus 23B’s.

‘The next 2 laps the big Ferrari regained 2 places..on lap 17 Matich was coming into Newry about to lap Carosi’s Bolwell when Carosi spun into the bank on the inside of the circuit barely giving Matich the room to pass…In the closing stages of the race Martin gave the Ferrari everything, making up 5 seconds a lap but he was unable to catch the fantastic white Porsche’

‘Matich was untroubled in the final few laps, his times dropping to 2:45’s and his top speed from around 160mph to 130. The fleet footed although bulky looking  Elfin took the flag some 13.4 secs ahead of the Porsche with Martin another 29 seconds away in 3rd’.

The meeting was indicative of the dominance of the car Matich winning many races in it in the short time he raced it, but he needed to do his own thing, he resigned from Peterbilt, who employed him, in September 1966 to pursue his own programs with his Rennmax built but ‘as good as a copy’ Elfin 400 chassis Matich SR3 cars…The success of these fabulous devices is a story in itself for another time.

wf feb

Peter Windsor’s shot of the RAC Sports Car Trophy race at Warwick Farm in May 1966. Matich is on pole in his new car with Alan Hamilton alongside, Porsche 904/6 with Kevin Bartlett on the outside in the Alec Mildren Racing Alfa Romeo TZ2. Windsor captions the 2 Lotus 23B’s behind as driven by Frank Demuth and Niel Allen, you can also just see Spencer Martin’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM…the heavy long distance racer well back amongst all these ‘Sprinters’. (Peter Windsor)

rcn cover 400

RCN cover with David Atkinson’s watercolor of  duelling Elfin 400’s; Allen in ‘BB662’, from Noel Hurd in the Globe Engineering Ford Windsor powered car and Bob Jane in his Repco 4.4 litre engined device…

allen bathurst

Wonderful Dick Simpson shot of Bill Brown in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 CanAm with Niel Allen slipping up the inside at Hell Corner in the Elfin 400…on this occasion the exotic V12 bested 5 litres of Chev V8. Brown set the Bathurst top speed record of 181 mph and Allen took the lap record, then DNF in this Sports Car Trophy race. Love the crowd, vestigial safety fencing, ‘Murrumbidgee Road Racing Club’ overalls and ‘King Size Daggi Dog’ health food stand…(oldracephotos.com.au/Dick Simpson)

Laurie O’Neil sold the 400 to Sydney property developer and up and coming racer, Niel Allen…

Bruce Richrdson again picks up the story, ‘When FM left to do his own thing with the SR3 program Laurie said to me one day that Niel Allen was interested in buying the car, they did the deal, I went to work with Niel, looking after the Elfin and the other cars in his stable until I was injured in a fuel explosion. I left, Peter Molloy took my place. I took 12 months off and then worked for a succession of touring car teams as well as doing my own stuff; McLeod Ford with John Goss, Ron Hodgson with Bob Morris including a Bathurst win. I helped Charlie O’Brien run a BMW 635CSI at Bathurst, which was my introduction to electronics, at that stage I decided if that was the way things were going I would quit racing! Frank Gardner lived next door to me on the Gold Coast, I did work with them on a casual basis including helping them with their Bathurst win’

Allen initially raced the car with the Traco Olds but after blowing the engine ‘BB662′ was fitted with a 5 litre Chev V8 and ZF gearbox by Peter Molloy, Allen’s engineer till the end of his later, successful F5000 program. He continued to develop the car including changing the suspension pick-up points to suit the ever wider tyres available and fitment of Matich wheels to suit.

At the 1967 AGP Meeting at Warwick Farm Allen broke Matich’s lap record by 0.8 seconds and won the race. A month later he broke Franks’ Sandown lap record in a handicap race, FM having set it earlier in the day on the debut of his new Matich SR3.

Niel Allen was the only driver ever to set an outright lap record crossing the finish line backwards. This occurred at Symmons Plains, Tasmania, there being a tight corner that leads into a curve over the finish line there. At the end of the second lap he spun… and crossed the line backwards with a new lap record!

elfin 400 chev allen 1

Now with 5 litre Chev V8 in Niel Allen’s ownership, the installation done by Peter Molloy. ZF 5DS ‘box fitted at the same time. Wider Matich wheels fitted. (oldracephotos.com.au/David Keep)

Check out this YouTube Footage of the 1968 Warwick Farm Tasman Sports Car support race; wonderful race between Chris Amon in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/CanAm 350, Allen in the Elfin 400 and victorious Frank Matich in his Matich SR3 Repco…

wf stanley

Niel Allen ahead of Ian Cook in Bob Janes car. The 2 400’s are pictured at Warwick Farm’s Creek Corner during the Tasman meeting in February 1968, Matich having first tested the car 2 years before at the ‘Farm. Later nose clear to see, aerodynamically better? but fugly! (John Stanley)

400 bathurst grid

#12 Niel Allen Elfin 400 sharing the front row of the 1967 Easter Bathurst Sports Car grid with #7 Bob Jane Elfin 400 Repco ‘BB67-3’, Fred Gibson’s Niel Allen owned Lotus Elan 26R on the far left and Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra and another Elan on row 2. ‘BB662’ certainly did a few racing miles at Mt Panorama! (oldracephotos.com.au/Stuart Phillips)

Allen won both races he started at Hume Weir, near Albury in December 1967 s breaking Spencer Martins’ lap record set in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM.

At the traditional Bathurst Easter meeting in 1968 Bill Brown set a top speed record in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/Can Am 350 at 181mph but Allen seriously challenged the Fazz setting a lap record of 2:18:4, 8 seconds ahead of Matich’s previous mark. Sydneysider Matich was on a business trip to the US to plan his 1968 CanAm assault, which ultimately did not eventuate due to the late completion of his SR4. Niel was a DNF forlornly parking the Elfin at the top of the mountain. Brown won the race from Pete Geoghegan in the SV Ferrari 250LM and Fred Gibson in Allens’ Lotus Elan 26R.

He also broke the record at Winton in Central Victoria in 1967 before selling the car to Sydney racer and tuning specialist Fred Gibson.

Allen bought Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA at the end of the 1968 Tasman series in his inexorable rise to the top of Australian Motor Racing. He never won an Australian Title but took victory in the 1971 New Zealand Grand Prix in his McLaren M10B Chev, by rights perhaps he should have won the Tasman that year…FM said he didn’t understand how Allen was so fast given his need to divorce himself from his business pressures as a ‘weekend racer’, FM was a fulltime professional who tested religiously and relentlessly doing endless miles around Warwick Farm and being paid by the lap  as part of his Goodyear contract. FM was very fast but he worked hard at his craft.

Niel Allen wasn’t finished with Elfins’ sports cars either. He bought Cooper’s first monocoque sporty, the short wheelbase, tricky to drive, Elfin ME5 Chev 5 litre in 1969, success in that car was tough as by that time Matich was absolutely at the top of his game with his Matich SR4 Repco, the space frame car powered by a DOHC 4 valve, 5 litre RB760 engine, the car designed for the ’68 Can Am series for which it was late is a story in itself.

RCN oct

Niel Allen advertises the ‘fleet’ for sale to concentrate on his ex-Courage F2 McLaren M4A FVA. RCN Oct 1968. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

elfin 400 bathurst

Start of the fateful Easter Bathurst race which took Bevan Gibson’s life, 1969. Gibson is in Bob Jane’s red Elfin 400 Repco, Allen is alongside in the Elfin 400 Chev ‘BB662’ and Frank Matich on the right in his hi-winged Matich SR4 Repco. SR4 the  fastest car in Australia of any type in 1969, winner of the ASS Championship and the only year in which it raced. Allen gets the jump at the start. (Wayne McKay)

Nose Lift and Aerodynamic Instability at High Speed…

The aerodynamics of racing cars in the 1960’s was still very much a black art, perhaps the most early experiments in gathering data on the flow of air over and around racing cars was in the latter stages of Fords Le Mans program and the ongoing, seminal and defining work of Jim Hall and his band of ‘GM quasi-works’ boffins at Rattlesnake Raceway in Texas, the Chaparrals simply iconoclasts.

Without taking a tangent too far Jim Hall spoke about his early aerodynamic testing and calibration in the article i wrote about the Chaparral 2F, those with an interest in his work may find it of interest, the relevant bit is about half way through the article;

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/26/67-spa-1000km-chaparral-2f/

Cooper designed the body with ‘John Webb wanting the underside of the horns extensions to be horizontal, as a continuation of the whole underside of the 400, to avoid the possibility of aerodynamic lift , but Garrie insisted they curve upwards to avoid the nose fouling the track’ quoted Barry Catford in his Elfin book.

Interestingly, in the ‘Auto Sportsman’ article mentioned earlier Matich claims credit for the body design ‘ The body styling was inspired by the very successful Chaparral Sports Car …Jack (sic) Webb fabricated the design from drawings supplied by Matich and it features front ‘Fish Gill’ spoilers which added to its gruesome appearance. Matich has recently run the car with a ‘blunt nose’ unit but plans only to use this on short circuits’. Taken at face value this statement suggests Matich did not think the car had high speed instability, if he planned to use the blunt nose on short circuits only, it implied he was happy with the original bodywork on fast ones.

Whatever the case Matich removed the distinctive horns on ‘BB662’, probably to cure aerodynamic lift, possibly to differentiate the look of the car from other 400’s.

During the 1967 Longford meeting in practice Noel Hurd in the Globe 400 ‘BB661′ became airborne at high speed, he mowed down a row of fence posts after spinning several times but was unhurt. The car was repaired at Elfins’ with the ‘horns’ removed.

When Peter Brennan acquired ‘BB662’ he spoke to Niel Allen about his experience of the car which was complimentary overall but ‘Niel said on the fast straights he used to have to touch the brakes to get the nose down before applying the brakes hard. The horns were already off the car at this point but Niel was still having problems with front adhesion. It was pretty clear these early cars had little or no frontal downforce’.

Once he cut the air slots in the guards he said it cured the problem ‘The horns were not the problem causing the lift, it was air damming under the guards which could not escape, all that was required was to cut slots in the rear of the front guards. I discussed this at length with Niel, he found out the cause later and would not have cut the original nose off had he understood the real nature of the problem’.

Peter raced the car at Adelaide in 1990 ‘at 175 mph down Brabham Straight without a problem, in fact it was making so much downforce we had to reinforce the nose brackets at the meeting with the belt of one of my pitcrews pants!’

Unfortunately all these learnings were in the future, lets not forget that even with technology no-one in their wildest of dreams could imagine in 1966 that Mark Webber aviated in his Mercedes on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans on consecutive days only a decade ago…

And so it was that Bevan Gibson, the young up and coming Benalla driver lost his life in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 at the Bathurst Easter meeting in 1969.

Barry Catford described the race ‘Matich was favourite for the race with a practice time of 2:14.9. After practice the faster drivers reportedly discussed the aerodynamic lift they had experienced over the second hump (this is pre ‘The Chase’ which now slows the cars on Conrod) on Conrod and resolved to treat that section of the track with caution.’

‘Niel Allen roared away (in BB662) followed by Gibson and Matich. Frank took over at Forrests Elbow and then on lap 2 Niel had a lose on the Mountain and dropped back and the Matich SR4 Repco began having fuel pressure problems. Bevan closed…on Mountain Straight making up more ground and the next lap drew alongside as they headed into Shell again’.

Bevan sensed a victory (which would never have been on had the SR4 been running properly, it was an opportunity which would seldom come) and tried harder on the 4th lap…the Elfin became airborne on the 2nd Conrod Hump, turning on its back and killing Bevan instantly. Matich, Allen and others retired almost immediately’

Gibson SCW cover

(Stephen Dalton Collection)

Elfin 400/ Traco Olds/ Elfin 400…now the ‘R&T Chev’

Fred Gibson was then an up and coming driver and proprietor of a Randwick, Sydney tuning business called ‘Road and Track Automotive Services’ hence the new name when Fred purchased the car he had occasionally driven for Allen.

The 400 was extensively rebuilt but mechanically unchanged, the notable difference the new bodywork designed and built by Denis Julian which used the original body as a mould but gave the car a lower line. Gibson also added a wing.

The engine was a 5 litre Chev with Crower cam, Warren rods, again on 48IDA Webers and gave circa 450bhp.

rand t chev gibson

Fred Gibson in ‘BB662’ as the ‘R&T Chev’, Surfers Paradise 1970. (Unattributed)

Gibson didn’t race the car for long, his career was on the rise, he became a Ford factory driver in their Series Production racing program with the iconic Falcon GTHO’s, the car being sold to Allan Newton in Victoria.

Newton raced the car regularly for years both in Victoria and interstate only selling it after a ‘big hit’ going up Bitupave Hill at Sydneys Amaroo Park in 1977.

rand t

Geoff Russell’s shot of the Elfin 400 after its big Amaroo shunt on 29 May 1977, front of the car clearly shortened considerably by its impact against one of the circuits earth banks. See ‘Etcetera’ below for a sequence of photos which captured the accident. (Geoff Russell)

He sold the car to a friend, Dennis Burdon who cut away the badly damaged rear of the chassis to fit a 4.4 Litre Leyland P76 V8 and Hewland F1 FGA gearbox.

This process took years, Brennan was aware of the cars location, knew Newton and eventually when Burdon tired of the car he bought ‘the steering wheel, 4 corners which were complete, the centre section of the chassis from roll bar to the pedals and the engine and gearbox which were sold, respectively to Andrew McDowell and Chas Talbot for his self built Formula Holden’

And so, our intrepid racer set off on a mammoth reconstruction project…

r t chev winton

R&T Chev ‘BB662’ in the bucolic Winton, Benalla, Victoria paddock in 1974, still very much as Fred Gibson modified it. The car was a regular in Victorian events at the time, i saw it race many times, Allan Newton drove it well. The cars either side are Lotus 23B’s, the bright yellow car the Gibson Family (as in Bevan Gibson who died at Bathurst) which if memory serves was fitted with a Repco V8, at the time the car was driven by Paul Gibson. Australian readers will know the popular Gibson’s as Benalla Auto Club stalwarts. (oldracephotos.com.au/Neil Hammond)

salas shop

Elfin 400 ‘BB662′ getting towards the end of its restoration by Peter and Gavin Sala’s team. Car has been tested at Calder sans body, and is in the final stages of completion in late October 1990. Look closely and you can see the other 2 400 chassis’ in the workshop at the time. (Peter Brennan Collection)

Restoration of Elfin 400 ‘BB662’…

Having acquired the car, or rather it’s remains the restoration challenge was a big one, essentially Peter had the bones of a car, the project was largely one of reconstruction or resurrection rather than a rebuild.

Brennan liked the combination of the original bodywork and 5 Litre Chev engine, a Traco Olds was pretty much impossible to source, the Hewland HD5 and ZF boxes were also rare so it made practical, economic sense to choose a combination of core components with which the car had raced in its long racing life which could be sourced at sensible money.

That decided, Peter wrote to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and was given written approval from the CEO, John Keefe to rebuild/reconstruct the car to that spec.

Some years later, after the car had been racing, the CAMS Historic Commission changed their view on the matter, what followed was a decade of protracted arguments and negotiations about all manner of the detail specifications of the car which was finally resolved with compromise being reached; the car could race as rebuilt but when sold by Peter the nose of the car is to be similar to that used by Niel Allen during the period he raced it; in essence the car could race in the spec chosen by Peter and confirmed as such by the CAMS CEO at the projects commencement…

salas handiwork

Gavin Sala’s  handiwork on display. Brennan says’ Be fair to say Gavin played an equal part in the resto work, he is a craftsman for a butcher, hard to believe the work he produces with virtually no qualifications’. ‘Old Midnight’ is in situ, its a spaceframe chassis, the aluminium side pontoons are clear. Gear linkage sitting atop the pontoon this side, exhausts have been ‘dummy fitted’. (Peter Brennan Collection)

Having agreed on the specs of the car with CAMS a handy confluence of events accelerated the cars resurrection from mid 1990…

Our intrepid racer sold his Melbourne ‘Carbitune’ business and decided to give himself a well earned break before starting his new venture, the Australian Grand Prix was in Adelaide in November, with a little bit of luck ‘BB662’ could be a debut starlet in the Historic Racing support events, these races always popular with the punters and owners alike.

The repair choice was made easy as Gavin Sala, a Victorian Racer/Restorer/Dealer and Owner happened to have the ex Bob Jane ‘BB67-3’ and ex Buchanan ‘BB67-4’ cars in his outer urban Melbourne workshop for restoration at the time.

The most difficult part of the job was the chassis. Elfin still existed, it was only money to buy uprights, wheels and so on but the 400 chassis jig no longer existed. Having the other cars alongside made the task of using the remains of the original chassis as a base; from rear bulkhead to the pedals, then carefully measuring and fabricating the required frame, brackets, diaphragm and related aluminium panels relatively straight-forward for skilled fabricators such as Ken Leigh, Gavin and Peter himself.

400 butt shot

‘BB662’ resto assembly butt shot. DG300 ‘F5000’ Hewland ‘box. ‘Old Midnight’ 5 litre Chev circa 500bhp on 48IDA Webers. Cast Elfin uprights, upper and lower wishbone/coil spring damper suspension and beefy front bulkhead and rear chassis diaphragms all clear, ditto LHS aluminium pontoon. Car sans exhausts here, but the ‘overhead’ headers came with the bits acquired from Newton. (Peter Brennan Collection)

The suspension was complete but gently sand blasted, crack tested and either reused or replaced using the originals as templates. The wishbones and radius rods were then nickel plated with new spherical joints used throughout.

The cast magnesium uprights were again crack tested, found to be ok, and then reassembled with new bearings.The Triumph Herald steering box was checked and re-used. The lightweight aluminium radiator was a pair of Nissan Pulsar rads’ alloy cores welded together.

salas front scoop

400 front end showing Gavin Sala’s  beautiful aluminium radiator surround/support/duct fabrication work. Not bad for a fella apprenticed as a butcher as PB says! (Peter Brennan Collection)

Peter acquired a Hewland DG300 transaxle. The engine was bought from F5000 Racers Peter and Mary Middleton. ‘Old Midnight’ was originally the great Max Stewarts’ spare engine, we covered its history in the story about the restoration of Peters’ ex Lella Lombardi Lola T330 ‘HU18’, a while back.

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/10/lella-lombardis-lola-peter-brennans-restoration-of-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-3/

Peter, ‘Its nickname was ‘Old Midnight’ as the motor was usually slipped into his Lola after midnight when the race engine was cactus for the weekend.I bought it as a ‘long motor’ less injection. The block was shaved of all unnecessary production lugs and lightened as much as possible.It has Bow-Tie heads, TRW pistons, Carillo rods, a Crane ‘574’ roller cam, Z28 crank, Vertex magneto, and like most of Max’ engines is on Weber 48IDA carbs, it produces 505bhp@7500rpm’.

The bodywork was provided by Elfin, or rather the front mould, which had been run over by a truck! Peter repaired it in order to ‘take a flop’ from it. The original Matich rear body was long since gone, so a production 400 rear ‘glass panel was used, again sourced from Elfin.

calder

Calder test less bodywork 3 weeks before the 1990 AGP in October. (Peter Brennan Collection)

With time getting tight Peter tested the car sans bodywork at Calder to carry out systems checks, ‘BB662’ behaved itself well although Peter was stunned by the very heavy steering which Kevin Bartlett diagnosed as the offset of the rim from the centre line of the kingpin, ‘scrub radius’.

The car then returned to Gavin’s shop for the final fitment of the body, making its debut, as planned in November 1990, where it was undoubtedly one of the stars of the show for many misty eyed enthusiasts who remembered the cars heyday in the hands of the supremely talented Frank Matich and Niel Allen.

body on

Peter has dated this shot on the front guard…its 10 October with 3 weeks to the 1990 AGP…with still a great deal of work to do. Sala’s workshop. (Peter Brennan Collection)

400 at agp 1990

Last minute pre-event fettling out front of Noiges’ pit, AGP Carnival Adelaide 1990. (Peter Brennan Collection)

400 3

Peter Brennan at the AGP Meeting 1990. Photo signed by Niel Allen, Lola Mk1 at rear. Elfin 400 Chev. (Peter Brennan Collection)

The pointless squabble with CAMS meant the car disappeared from sight for a bit but otherwise the 400 is a regular entrant at Historic Meetings around the country and is always punted with verve and skill, much as Matich did during his ATT win at Longford all those years ago…

tour to tarrengower

Peter had the important job of ferrying Lorraine Cooper, on the Elfin Owners and Drivers Club’ Tour To Tarrengower’ in 1994. The 400 is pictured at Bendigo, the start of a road trip for around 35 racing Elfins on the public roads of Victorias’ Goldfields district to Mount Tarrengower Hillclimb at Maldon, 45 kilometres away. I did it in an Elfin Crusader F Vee…it was fun in that, the 400 and various F5000’s entered had a wonderful time! (Peter Brennan Collection)

DSC01368

More recent shot of ‘BB662’ at an Albert Park GP. Brennan’s standard of preparation and presentation outstanding. Car has its original Elfin nose, if you look at the top right of the nearside front guard you can see the ‘gills’ or air reliefs let into the bodywork which eventually addressed the front end lightness of the car by releasing air pressure at high speed. McLaren M1 alongside. (Peter Brennan Collection)

brennan in 400

‘Racers Retreat’ Peter Brennan, in Elfin 400 ‘BB662’, a much cherished car for over 25 years. Albert Park AGP several years ago. (Peter Brennan Collection)

scrab at traco

Amazing shot of the first Scarab Chev out the back of the Traco shop, ‘Thunder Alley, Culver City in 1958. Looking at the fuel tank on the right are Phil Remington and Harold Daigh, Dick Troutman is in the doorway. The Scarab body builder Emil Deidt is at the back of the car, beside him in the check shirt Marshall Whitfield. Jim Travers and Frank Coon are ‘midships with the suited Leo Goosen leaning against the car, beside him at the front of the car is Sonny Balcaen. (Photo Warren Olson Collection/Jerry Entin for ID of those pictured)

Etcetera Traco Engineering…

Traco Engineering was formed by Jim TRAvers and Frank COon in 1957, the pair made their names as mechanics for Bill Vukovich in his successful Indy wins in 1953 and 1954. Well before that they were pre-war hot-rodders racing on the dry lakes of California.

Their ‘shop’ was based in ‘Thunder Alley’, 11928 West Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City in the LA ‘Megalopolis’. The area was so named due to the number of ‘big hitters’ based in the area including James Garner and Lance Reventlow who tested their cars on the block.

The fledgling company was off to a strong start when Lance Reventlow contracted Traco to work on the front-engined Chevy powered sportscar Scarabs’ in 1958. AJ Foyt’s victory in the Mecom owned Scarab at Nassau gave the firm it’s biggest push with engines soon being supplied to Gurney, McLaren, Mecom, Brabham and Lola amongst others.

The bulk of the work in 1965/6 was on the Chev and Olds F85 engine although Bruce McLaren’s team used the companies talents to decrease the capacity of the Ford DOHC Indy engine for F1 use in 1966.

The payroll included some engineers who went on to become great engine builders in their own right; Al Bartz, George Bolthoff to name two.

In 1965 Traco built 48 complete engines and rebuilt 68 more, a ‘Sports Car Graphic’ 1966 article reported that ‘The average Traco built engine takes from 4-6 weeks to complete and requires approximately 100 man hours’, the engines were priced at the time from US$5000-6000.

In 1986 Travers and Coon retired after selling the business to then chief engine builder Jim Jones.

traco in shop

Frank Coon (L) and Jim Travers in their Traco shop building an engine in 1966. (Sports Car Graphic)

traco

Etcetera…

lt kay cutaway

(Laurie Kay)

match hospital

Brisbane ‘Courier Mail’ article of Matich’s Lakeside Lotus 19B crash. (Facebook Elfin 60’s Sportscars Group)

sandown elfin olds

image

Sports Car World cover shot at Longford 1966 during the Matich ATT win. Overhead shot shows a different angle of the body.

 

 

 

longford matich

Matich Elfin 400/Traco Olds with its AT Trophy laurel wreath. Longford paddock March 1966. (Ellis French)

matich lakeside

Matich in the Elfin 400/ Traco Olds, Lakeside, Qld 1966. (John Stanley)

400 rear

Rear shot of ‘BB662’ during Niel Allen’s ownership circa 1968, circuit undisclosed. (Mike Feisst Collection/The Roaring Season)

r and t 2

Chequered Flag magazine captured Allan Newton’s May 1977 accident which all but destroyed ‘BB662’, the old but sturdy spaceframe protecting Newton from worse injury…in much the same way the monocoque chassis of the Elfin MS7 saved him when his throttle again stuck open, this time at Calder, Victoria in 1984. He was a very lucky boy that day…(Chequered Flag)

elfin 400 bp ad

BP ad shot, taken, i think at Sandown, Victoria, ‘Peters Corner’ upon the cars debut, February 1966. (Facebook Elfin 60’s Sportscars Group)

Bibliography…

‘Australias Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, Ray Bell/The Nostalgia Forum, Sports Car World, Australian Auto Sportsman, Sports Car Graphic, Chequered Flag

Facebook ‘Elfin 60’s Sportscars’ Group. This is a very dedicated group of Elfin enthusiasts, key the group name into the FB search engine and apply to be to be admitted

Special Thanks…

To Bruce Richardson and Geoff Smedley for their affectionate, respectful accounts of their time working with Frank Matich

Stephen Dalton for the research assistance and access to his extensive collection

Photo Credits…

John Ellacott, Bob Mills Collection, Wayne McKay, Ellis French, John Stanley, Peter Windsor, Laurie Kay, Alan Stewart Collection, Ian Smith, Shane Lee, Peter Brennan Collection, Richard Blanden, Warren Olson Collection/Jerry Entin, Chris Snowdon, Mike Feisst Collection, Geoff Russell

Lindsay Ross of  Oldracephotos http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/ for the use of the Dick Simpson, David Keep, Stuart Phillips and Neil Hammond shots

Finito…

Lola T330 P Island

Peter Brennan blasts his Lola down Phillip Islands straight on Saturday 27 September 2014, the car last ran in John Turners’ hands at Brands Hatch on 19 October 1975, only 39 years ago!…

Over the last three episodes of ‘Racers Retreat’ we have covered Peters’ purchase of the car in the US, and its rapid restoration commencing in August 2013, the car finally made its debut at a Phillip Island test day a month ago.

Australian readers should get to Sandown on 7-9 th November to see the car make its first race appearance in a huge field of F5000 cars in the Victorian Historic Racing Registers’ annual historic race meeting at the great Melbourne suburban venue.

John Taylor lola T330 Thruxton 1975

John Turner at Thruxton in ‘HU18’ earlier in 1975 (tinkerwinkerTNF)

John Turner bought the car from Jackie Epstein at the end of 1974, after Lombardis’ year in it. He raced the car in  many rounds of the 1975 Shellsport UK Series, finishing fifth in that final race at Brands, Peter Gethins Team VDS Lola T400 Chev won the race and the sister T400 of Teddy Pilette won the championship.

Turner sold the car to Jim Burnett for use as a central seat CanAm car, and as covered earlier in the series of articles the car was damaged in a factory fire until rescued by Peter many years later…here in his workshop just prior to the massive job of restoration.

brennans workshop

Phillip Island Test…

Lola T330 Brennan P Island

Peter Brennan all loaded up…livery all 100% period correct 1973 ‘shellSport 208’ team. Front brake ducts taped over in this shot

It was a beautiful September day, fortunately the ‘Islands weather gods were smiling…’I had been looking forward to the first run of the car, checking and re-checking the thing over the prior weeks, and firing it up a million times, then the bloody thing wouldn’t start for the first session!’

‘I had plenty of advice of course, but the bloody magneto had cacked itself, they are like a flighty girlfriend , here one minute and gone the next! I didn’t take a lot of spares with me, but i did have a spare mag, so we fitted that and were ready to rock and roll’.

‘Off we go ot onto the circuit in session two, i went about eighty metres and it died, i slowed down and it cut out. I checked the fuel pressure and volumes, the engine is on Webers. After a lot of thought i took the air-boxes off the carbs and that did the trick. I hadn’t created vents in the airboxes to allow excessive pressure to escape, the set-up cannot be fully sealed, i got advice from Peter Molloy and others after the weekend’.

vent tubes

Look closely at this shot, on the RHS of the carb base plate near the rollbar and you can see the breather holes cut to relieve surplus pressure in the airbox…4 thirsty 48 IDA Webers…’nasty’ magneto cap just visible to the left between the oil tank and carb base plates

‘After that change the car was sensational, even using the basic initial settings. Later in the day i did 6 1:36 laps without pushing hard at all. The thing is a jet, really quick. Most of the fiddling around on the day was just getting comfy in the car, the gearchange is a little close to me and the cockpit is as tight as…i’m not a svelte 18 year old anymore!’

‘Before Sandown we need to just check the thing over, the airbox bleed is done, re-align it and so on. Its amazing how much fuel the thing uses 3.7 litres per lap. I can afford the car but not the fuel to put in it, i used 90 litres on the day at $3.75 per litre! Time to drill an oil-well at home in the eastern suburbs’.

Lola T330 P Island front

Lola T330 Brennan up

See the rear wing compared with episode # 3. Far-back original wing supports banned by FIA at the end of 1973..attention to detail in the restoration superb, our mature age driver doing his best to find some space…

Lola T330 B & W

‘HU18’ to early, original T330 spec. Carbs common in the UK then, early airbox setup, far rear mounted wing, and none of the T332 mods to the tub, bodywork and suspension that most 330’s modifed to T332 spec received in period to keep them competitive

Lola T330 nose

Front suspension typical of period. Upper and lower unequal length wisbbones, coil spring damper units (Koni double adjustable alloy shocks), adjustable roll bar

Lola T332 Chev 'HU18' Phillip Island

Lola T330 Brennan P Is front straight

Roll on Sandown for Episode 5 in November, be there if you can!…

Photo Credits…

Peter Brennan, Jay Bondini

Finito…

rstored

The first two instalments of Peters’ restoration of the Lola were about its history, acquisition and journey from the US to Australia, and last month the commencement of the restoration of the tub, suspension, gearbox, suspension etcetera…

As you can see from the shot of the car at ‘Racers Retreat’, HU18 is now complete and ready for its first track test, very fast progress given the starting point of the project in August 2013!

How great does it look!

Monocoque…

You may recall that Borland Engineering in Mordialloc, Victoria were commissioned to rebuild the tub with assistance from Peter.

lola2

‘The tub is all solid riveted as aircraft were made during World War 2. You need a driver of the gun and someone to back the rivet. Putting the tub together involved three solid weeks of riveting, your head and shoulders aching every night, exactly as the crews putting the ‘planes together did’.

lola 3

‘Each morning we had to plan out the assembly procedure, one mistake, drill out the rivets and start again…’

riveting

chassis 1

The chassis is superb, the workmanship and commitment to the task fantastic. Mike Borland on the left and fabricator Dean on right.

tub mike

Bodywork…

‘I didn’t get any panels with the bits from the US so bought the lot, new off ‘Motorsport Solutions’ in New Zealand, there was little effort to adjust for fit, the quality of the workmanship was very good. I had the body painted by ‘ReFace Autos’ in Melbourne’.

body 1

body 2

painted

Instruments…

lola

Chassis re-assembly now underway at Peters’ home workshop. ‘Smiths’ chronometric tach and guages all exactly as they were ex-Huntingdon. Front suspension fitted, brakes, steering column, pedals, plumbing for the engine…Nickel plating throughout as Lola utilised.

Engine, ‘Old Midnight’…

engine

Nice black and white PB shot of ‘Old Midnight’ from above…4 X 48 IDA Webers, Vertex magneto, lovely linkages…

‘Some years ago i was looking for a Chev to finish the restoration of my Elfin 400 (the ex-Matich ‘Traco Olds’), Mary and Peter Middleton owned the ex-Cooper/Perkins Elfin MR8 and offered me this engine which was originally built by Max Stewart as his spare. Its nickname was ‘Old Midnight’ as the motor was usually slipped into his Lola after midnight when the race engine was cactus for the weekend!

Anyway, there was something great about reuniting Max’ old engine with a Lola T33o chassis. I bought it as a ‘long motor’ less injection. The block was shaved, of all uneccesary production lugs and lightened as much as possible.

It has Bow-Tie heads, TRW pistons, Carillo rods, a Crane ‘574’ roller cam, Z28 crank, Vertex magneto, and like most of Max’ engines is on Weber 48IDA carbs

In the early 70’s a good race Chev had 535BHP, this engine has 505BHP @ 7500RPM, which should be enough to keep me busy’

old

‘Old Midnight’ doing its thing on Peters dyno recently…Ex Max Stewart ‘spare’ good for 505 BHP on Webers

Re-Assembly…

After the tub was completed Peter took it back to ‘Racers Retreat’, his home workshop where the various componentry covered in Episode # 2 was fitted to the car…suspension, wheels, gearbox, fuel-cell etc.

reassembly

Still fettling the bodywork, mirrors period correct

front

Fabrication a work of art…note brake ducts

reassembly 1

That long bellhousing so Broadley got the weight where he wanted it and the longer wheelbase which made such a difference in 1973. Rear suspension and driveshafts to come..look at the rear bias of the wing, eventually FIA rule changes addressed this trend in all single-seater formulae. This shot shows the sheer ‘bulk’ of a Chev relative to a DFV, all that weight, 250Kg of Chev sits high!

wheels

New wheels made in Melbourne by ‘Whithorse Industries’, ‘Old Midnight’ to the right awaiting installation. Thats a Lola S2000 to the left

‘My good mate and fellow T332 racer , Jay Bondini made the rear wing, he did a beautiful job, and it was a much bigger project than he thought! The ‘spiders-web’ far aft wing support bracket is period correct for 1973. We are re-profiling the wing endplates to reflect the car  in that year as well, i can’t thank him enough, he did a great job’.

jay

Smile Jay Bondini, beautiful fabrication of rear wing

snorkel

T330 1973 spec attention to detail superb, very few 330’s were not converted to T332 spec in period, as such the car a welcome and different addition to Historic F5000 grids. Snorkels hide 4 48IDA Weber carbs, still common in Europe at that time and ‘standard spec’ on Swiss ‘Morand’ and Pommie ‘Alan Smith’ prepped Chevs

tub

From this to this…August 2013 to July 2014.

rstored

The transformation of the ‘car’ in such a short period of time is great testimony to the skill of all involved especially Peter himself. All being well the car will make its debut at Historic Sandown in November, it last raced in 1975…I think Jackie Epstein and Lella Lombardi would be mighty impressed with their old car?

Next Episode…

Will cover Peters’ test of his new car…

Photo Credits…

Peter Brennan

 

cutaway

Superb Tony Matthews cutaway drawing of ‘HU18’ in 1973 spec…

The first instalment of Peters’ restoration of the Lola was its history, acquisition of the car and its journey from Portland, Oregon to Melbourne, Australia…

Once unloaded, there was no doubt, not that there ever was, that the chassis was completely hors’d combat, so the big initial question was who to get to repair it. This months account is essentially  the first 8 months of work…

tub

HU18 tub as it arrived in Melbourne. Note delicate placement of Hewland bellhousing, general state of tub, RH front aluminium melted by workshop fire and ‘fried’ state of steering rack. Original Lola wheels crack-tested ok, ‘wets’ use perhaps.

Monocoque…

unpicking

‘Unpicking’ the old tub at Borlands. Fire damage clear, side pontoons in front

‘My choices were the Kiwi’s,  Mark Bahner (in the US) or a local. Price-wise their was little difference between the US and NZ once exchange rates were taken into account but I wanted to be involved in the actual build itself. I was never going to be happy just sending $ overseas, then there are airfare costs to keep an eye on things so I settled on Mike Borland of Borland Engineering. He had done tubs from scratch for 2 mates and some great work over 10 years on a range of other cars and he was happy for me to be involved. His workshops in Mordialloc are a helluva lot closer to home than the West Coast of the US!’

Borland Racing Developments are a renowned local builder of Spectrum Formula Fords, and a whole lot more, rather than go off on that tangent here is a link to their website…

spectrum

http://www.borlandracing.com/

Tub 1

Measuring assembly of chassis

‘Decisions needed to be made regarding its construction, the original alloy sheet was 1.3mm, no wonder they were called the ‘flexi-flyer’! We decided on 1.6mm, marginally heavier, but they are my legs!’

‘The task was a big one though, the RT4’s I have rebuilt have been relatively simple. In essence the tub is laid on the floor, templated, holes punched and popped into a folder. The Lola was far more complex, we ‘unpicked’ the tub, what a mess. We were never likely to be able to salvage much of the ‘tinware’. There was a huge amount of work to duplicate the inner support panels. Everything is handmade. There are metal bits inside the tub, which are beaten, riveted works of art. Internal brackets are then solid riveted to external panels’.

fabrications

Fabrications, old & new

‘We borrowed the wrecked tub of ‘HU1’ off Darcy (Darcy Russell owns the ex-Stewart T330 HU1, and had Chas Talbot build a new tub for it having destroyed the old one in an Eastern Creek accident some years ago) to help with key measurements and reference points. We kept the front and rear roll hoops of HU18 but the rest was rooted. All internal bulkheads had to be remade, new front suspension ‘top-hats’, gearshift linkages etc.’.

The process commenced before Christmas 2013 and took around 8 months.

stteering mount

Steering mount/roll hoop. Front master cylinder bulkhead in front

 

tub 3

Continuing assembly, constantly measuring and checking images as reference, steering mount/roll hoop original.

 

tub 2

Carefully squaring the chassis up pre-drilling rivet holes

 

chassis 2

Front of new monocoque

 

chassis 1

Chassis workmanship apparent, front bulkhead in situ. Centre section cross beam also in place. Steering mount/roll hoop on the floor behind.

 

mount

The rear attachment point for the lower front wishbone is weak in a frontal impact, this in period ‘Lola Limp’ brace connects the two pickup points and minimises the risk of part of the A arm /wishbone piercing ones leg…

 

front

Dummy fit of steering mount/roll hoop, roll bar, suspension top mounts, nose-cone support. Roll-over bar leg just visible in far left middle of shot.

fuel cell

‘Harmon’ 60 litre fuel cell sourced in the US. Front & rear rollover fabrications original.

Suspension…

‘The suspension was all pretty good. All the wishbones are made of T45 steel, we oxide blasted, then crack tested using magnaflux the lot, Paul Faulkner helping us out. The cross beam which mounts the lower ‘A arm’ or wishbone was remade, as was the anti ‘Lola-Limp’ cross beam, refer to the photo above.

‘Finally we nickel plated the lot, all new spherical bearings used throughout of course’

‘The uprights both front and rear were also all good. Oxide-blasted, crack-tested, then re-diechromated. This blackens everything and gives a nice finish, but also protects the magnesium to which we apply WD40 regularly to keep it  (the magnesium castings) moist.’

Hewland DG300…

box before

Hewland had been reputedly rebuilt 30 years before and then unused…as was the case

‘As I had been told, it had been rebuilt years before but it was all good. No surprises. We still had to pull it apart to diechromate it but that was just time not bulk $.’

bax after

Shot of dismantled DG300 courtesy of Motorsport Solutions NZ

Fuel Cell…

‘People who have never taken on one of these projects before would be stunned on how much stuffing around there is just on the relatively small things.The Marston fuel cell was useless of course. One of the poor bits of the original design is that whilst the cells hold 100 litres of fuel, the last 20 litres in each isn’t picked up. Our historic races are short so in the end we sourced a cell from ‘Harmon’ in the US , 1 60 litre cell on the left handside only.’

Steering Rack…

‘The steering rack was a complete pain in the arse, i couldn’t find one anywhere in the world. Its Lolas own rack, in the end it turned out Jay Bondini, a mate in Melbourne had one. It was bent but I was able to create one good rack using Jays bent one, the centre section in all Lola’s racks are common, they then have different ‘ends’ to suit the particular application…and the centre on my ‘fried’ one was ok’

steering

Radiators and Additional Ducts…

‘The radiators were an interesting exercise as I think we may have worked out the reason the car was fitted with the odd additional ducting to keep the thing cool. My bloke is a racer himself, ‘Aussie Desert Cooler’s in Thomastown. When Norm looked at them he found there were no dividers in the radiators so that the coolant goes across the core, and down and back the other side. The coolant was going straight down and not through the core and therefore not working effectively. No other 330 seems to have had a cooling problem so i think we have idntified what they did not in 1973-4’

rad ducts

This shot is of Lella at Brands at the 1974 ‘Race of Champions’ in which she finished fourth. This close-up shot shows the additional aluminium panel (the mirrors are mounted to it) made to inprove airflow into the radiators, which 40 years later trnaspired to be radiators which were not properly made…(Unattributed)

 

radiators

Wheels…

‘I got a swag of wheels, original Lolas’ which all crack-tested ok and may be alright for wets. I looked at the available alternatives , in the end Noel Robson and I had some centres cast and machined and then had Whitehorse Industries ‘spin’ the outers at their Lilydale facility’.

Addendum…

lola heritage

‘Lola Heritage’ shot of assembly of the T332, late 1973 or 1974, Huntingdon factory.

works 2

‘Lola Heritage’ shot, again assembly of T332

Lola Heritage…

lola 3

http://www.lolaheritage.co.uk/

lola 1

 

lola2

Episode 3 in late August…

The chassis is completed, assembly of the car begins, and the engine, ‘Old Midnight’ comes in for some attention.

Photo Credits…

Lola Heritage, Tony Matthews cutaway drawing, Peter Brennan

 


 

 

 

 

 

  1. lella brands

    Lella Lombardi, Lola T330 Chev ‘HU18’ , Brands Hatch ’74

     

Lola’s T330…

Lola’s F5000 domination started with the ’72 model T300, the process completed by the ’73 T330, and 332, 332C, single seat Can Am T333 variants of the car built over a decade.It is one of the most successful competition cars ever in terms of race wins and longevity, if not THE most successful.

Eric Broadley’s evolution of the T300 produced an extremely competitive car for one of F5000′ s most competitive seasons, the cars aluminium monocoque ‘dressed’ in curvaceous bodywork executed by Specialised Mouldings. If ever an F5000 looked right this was it.

The 1973 season and those which followed proved that beauty was far from skin deep.

T330 ‘HU18’…

T330 ‘HU18’ was sold in March to Jackie Epstein Racing for the ’73 European F5000 championship. Epstein was a long time race entrant of sports cars before changing to F5000 after the death of his business partner, racer Paul Hawkins.

The Radio Luxembourg # 208 sponsorship was iconic at a time when the BBC had a monopoly on the radio airwaves in the UK. Radio Luxembourg, on frequency 208 medium wave were an offshore broadcaster of popular shows into the UK.

The car’s driver for 1973 was ’71 Le Mans and ’72 British F5000 Champion Gijs Van Lennep. His best results a 2nd at Snetterton and 3rds at Mondello Park and Jyllands-Ringen. Whilst Gijs was away on sports car duties Tony Trimmer, Clive Santo and Ray Allen also raced the car, albeit without success.

Teddy Pilette won the 1973 title with a demonstration of consistent speed in his Chevron B24.

brands van l

Into 1974 Epstein signed Lella Lombardi, she had come through Italian racing and European F3 and immediately impressed with her handling of HU18. Her best results 4ths at Brands, Monza, Oulton Park and Mallory Park. In ’74 the title was won by Bob Evans in a T332.

Lombardi raced in F1 for March in ’76, HU18 was sold by Epstein to John Turner, the car also driven by Keith Holland and Richard Scott that year. Hollands 4th at Brands was the best result.

monza

From Europe to Obscurity in the US for 34 Years and into Peter Brennan’s TLC…

Peter Brennan picks up the story, ‘Allen Karlberg was an American working in the UK at the time and was commissioned by countryman Jim Burnett to acquire a car for conversion to a central seat Can Am spec, F5000 having morphed into Can Am in an attempt to improve crowd numbers. The car was shipped to Portland, Oregon in 1977 where it remained for 36 years’

‘It was disassembled and some work done, for example the DG300 had a new crown wheel and pinion but essentially it was untouched, the only thing preventing considerable damage to the car was the fact it was in parts and the bits and pieces far enough away from a workshop fire which melted the right-front corner of the tub some time in the ’90’s.’

‘Burnett died several years ago and his Executors approached Karlberg to sell the car, I was cruisin’ the internet as I do. I was looking for another F5000 to restore and spotted a small ad in a club magazine which said something like ‘fire damaged F5000 for sale, major project’.

‘Whilst their was a lot of junk in the workshop around the bones of the car I could make out what it was and also see that the factory chassis plate was on it. I agreed to buy it and with a little research from the pictures he sent me, the front brake ducts and oil tank, for example, I was confident it was HU18 even before he called me to advise the plates details !’

‘Even though the car had been in bits forever it had remained in the same place so the tub, ‘box, 4 complete corners, wheels and spares, exhaust, radiators, fuel cells, swirl pots etc, etc were all there. Shipping it out of Portland was a pain in the arse but Kevin Bailey’s ‘Cheetah Imports’ always helps me and it finally arrived, then the real work began’.

Our intrepid racer has owned and restored Elfins, Matich and Lola F5000’s, everything but a Chevron. HU18, as the most lightly raced of the surviving T330’s, most of which were converted to T332 spec, is something special.

Peter is the ‘real deal’ as a racer enthusiast ‘…the main reason I do this is that I love the challenge, meeting and making new friends, it’s not all about the racing. It’s a real journey, going to all parts of the world in pursuit of parts and information’.

We look forward to sharing the journey with you PB.

Next month, the mammoth task of resurrection begins.

Tub as found

First photo of the tub allowed Brennan to identify it as probable T330, RHF tub melted away readily visible.

front suspension

Front suspension in need of a crack-test…

Tub as it arrived

‘HU18’ tub as it arrived in Australia

boxes of bits

‘HU18’ as it arrived out of the container in Port Melbourne, despite 34 years of neglect, and the fire, most of the critical parts had remained in the workshop in Portland close to the car

Box

Hewland DG300, oil tank, wheels and discs

wheels

Original Lola wheels, calipers and rear uprights, nose-cone support, suspension componentry, second hand Mota-lita steering wheel,and much-much more

boxes

lotsa stuff…

brennans workshop

‘Racers Retreat’ just arrived’, Peter Brennans workshop in suburban Melbourne…’HU18′ tub, Arrows A1, a Ralt RT4 or 2, Cosworth BDD head and sundry other bits of interest..always an intriguing place to have a beer

pre strip

‘HU18’ tub pre-strip

stripped

‘HU18’ tub post strip…and ready for Episode # 2

Photo Credits…

Richard Bunyan, Peter Brennan