Archive for the ‘Rodways Repco Recollections’ Category

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(Beasy/Repco)

The fast way to get around Repco’s Maidstone factory…

Repco Engine Development Co chief Malcolm Preston bought this Veggie Cart from Melbourne’s Victoria Market to shift shite around the plant. These enterprising lads have neatly set it up for this fun shot. Luvvit!

The dapper bearded ‘70’s dude wearing the tie is Don Halpin, I spoke to him not so long ago, he hasn’t changed too much at all. Rodway Wolfe says the guy left of Don is John McVeigh and moustachioed fella is Ken Symes, on the far right is Brian Slader.

When is it though?

I’m guessing the up and over exhausts are to fit Frank Matich’s McLaren M10B/C, Frank was the works Repco driver who did the development work long before the first customer engines were sold. That makes it 1970 or 1971, but there are a load of Australian F5000 nutbags who can probably provide the date and time of day. The Bowin P8 also had this style of exhausts to clear the rising rate suspension linkages which precluded a low exhaust, that would make it late 1971 or 1972.

Mind you, thinking about it some more, the exhausts fitted may be just for the dyno. Its out that side door so the big V8 may be heading in the direction of the test-house. The long inlets look like those of one of the you-beaut, super trick, schmick, flat-plane crank engines too. These gave 525bhp, Repco’s horses were always stallions too, not geldings! So…that makes it 1973/4, the Repco boys ‘fashionable’ looks also define that era.

All opinions welcome and as you Repco F5000 experts can see I’ve covered the years 1970 to 1974, the whole period in which these superbly designed and made engines were built!…

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1974 Sandown Tasman round, John Walker Lola T330 Repco 3rd, Peter Gethin won is a VDS Chevron B24 Chev (unattributed)

Credit…

The Repco cart photo is sourced from Mark Beasy, he and Will Beasy have a great Repco connection having inherited the only Repco Holden F5000 powered Lola on the planet, the ex-John Walker T330 ‘HU23’.

It’s getting closer to completion, the project was started by Mark and Will’s dad, Brian many years ago. I remember seeing Brian on quite a few occasions at his Lilydale home, client work always got in the way of that particular restoration and the thankless CAMS Historic Commission eligibility work he did. A top bloke- talented motor-cycle racer, car racer and engineer.

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JW 1st in the 1973 Gold Star round at Phillip Island in November from McCormack and Cooper in Elfin MR5’s (Chris Parker)

 

 

 

 

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An Australian daily broadsheet newspaper ad to promote Repco’s 1967 Grand Prix successes…

Thats Michael Gasking giving the 1967 F1 RB740 V8 ‘a tug’ on the Maidstone, Melbourne dyno before shipping the usually still warm engine off to the Brabham Racing Organisation in Guildford, England.

Credit…

Michael Gasking Collection

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The Story of the Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine as conveyed in Repco Technical News Volume 12 No 2, November 1965…

This gem is from Michael Gasking’s Collection and is reproduced in all of its glory, this is the 1966 Tasman/F1 engine later more commonly referred to as ‘RB620’, its internal Repco Parts Co project code was ‘620’. It will be difficult to read on your ‘phone, a bit easier on a larger device!

We have covered this engine already in primotipo, click on the links at the end of the article for these stories. Just a couple of ‘editorial comments’ or observations.

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RB620 and F1…

No mention is made of the engines F1 application so late in the piece, the new 3 litre F1 began on 1 January 1966. Brabham and Repco were playing their cards, understandably, close to their chest. Remember the RB620 V8 first ran in a car at 3 litres not 2.5, at Goodwood before racing in the non-championship South African GP, at Kyalami on 1 January 1966.

Melbourne motoring journalist Chris de Fraga, well known and respected by generations of Victorian enthusiasts is credited with first reporting Repco’s F1 plans in the Melbourne ‘Age’ in early October 1965, a report denied by Repco at the time. This document dated November 1965 was presumably circulated in that month or the following one.

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Jack’s Lovechild…

Brabham’s parentage of the project is ignored in this largely technical treatise of the engine, Jack’s involvement not ‘front and centre’ in this public document given the need for F1 confidentiality.

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‘The Men’…

The duo credited with the engine in the brochure are Chief Engineer of the Repco Parts Group, Frank Hallam and Project Engineer Phil Irving, the only guy missing, as stated above is Brabham. Its worth musing for a bit about the roles these three men played in the championship winning RB620.

In simple terms Jack was the engines conceptual designer- he pitched the Repco board a simple engine using the F85 Olds block as a base whose completed dimensions were to fit the existing BT19 chassis. Phil designed it, inclusive of its drawings. Jack provided both conceptual design and practical feedback to Phil on regular visits to Irving who was based near Brabhams early in 1964 as he progressed the engines design. All of the ‘RB620’ drawings were done by Phil and signed by him according to ex-Repco engineer and Repco Historian, Nigel Tait who has seen and reviewed them all in the process of archiving them with RMIT University, Melbourne, in recent years. Hallam was Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. General Manager and Chief Engineer. His role was primarily a management one although he had engineering oversight, his direct design and engineering input into RB620 something Hallam has sought to grab a greater share of down the decades.

After Irving’s death, Hallam in his book ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ comprehensively dumps all over Irving and seeks to take more credit than he is due for the ‘RB620’ engine inclusive of positioning Irving as its ‘draftsman’ – ‘draftsman casual’ in the employee list in his books Appendix. In fact all of the ‘Drawing Office Personnel’ listed are described as ‘draftsman’ despite several being degree qualified engineers. Hallam, on the other hand, formally qualified as a motor mechanic, lists himself as General Manager/Chief Engineer. The positioning he inaccurately seeks to convey is clear. In that context its interesting to see Phil’s title as ‘Project Engineer’ in this Repco publication of the day.

The very well known F1 engine designer and manufacturer John Judd joined the Repco Brabham Engines Maidstone design team at Jack Brabham’s behest in 1966. He pretty much unwittingly walked into a storm in terms of the final breakdown in the progressively declining working relationship between Hallam and Irving. Judds arrival at Maidstone was unannounced by Frank to Phil, the design leader at the time, thereby lighting the fuse for a final confrontation which was becoming increasingly inevitable.

Judd got the ‘rounds of the kitchen’ from Phil when he joined RBE according to both Phil’s autobiography and Frank’s book but Judd has this to say about Irving’s contribution to ‘RB620’ in a recent ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine interview;

‘When Jack returned (to the UK) from the (1966) Tasman  series, he asked if I could go to Melbourne almost immediately, and work with Repco designing parts toward the next year’s engine. That lasted for about four months and I was back again for six months in 1967 working on the 1968 4-cam engine.’

‘The original 1966 engine had been designed almost 100% by Phil Irving of Velocette and HRD fame with input from Jack and Ron Tauranac, but Phil didn’t fit in well with the Repco corporate structure and fell out with his boss Frank Hallam. My insertion into an already fragile situation led to Phil leaving after I had been there two months or so, and to his replacement by Norm Wilson. Looking back at Jack’s 1966 World Championship winning engine, I believe it was largely the product of one man, Phil Irving, to an extent that is and will remain unique.’

Don’t get me wrong, Hallam played a vastly important role in marshalling Repco corporate resources to assemble the men and modern machines to build World Championship winning engines in 1966 and 1967. He was also a wonderful foil between the demanding requirements of the Repco Board and the daily dramas in Maidstone of building and servicing racing V8 engines so far from Brabham Racing Organisation’s Guildford base. But his contribution is more management than engineering detail of RB620 when objectively looked at in the context of all the published evidence and the views of those there at the time.

The antipathy between Irving and Hallam was and is well known, few Repco people want to go ‘on record’ about the topic, which is both understandable and frustrating at the same time. They, rightfully, recognise the contributions of both men. Irving’s book is respectful of Hallam, Hallam’s of Irving not so and was published well after Phil’s death- the shit-canning of Irving is grubby and un-Australian really. If you are going to ‘have a crack’ do so when the other dude can defend himself. Hallam’s book was contracted by him from Simon Pinder, the author. It is not objective as such (neither is Irving’s autobiography of course) but does add much to fill in the RBE story, the long interview with ’67 RB740 designer Norman Wilson is gold for example,  but the books quality varies from gold to ‘merde’ depending upon the chapter. One needs quite a lot of Repco knowledge to pick the chapters to treasure and those to treat with rather more circumspection.

Nigel Tait told me that Jack Brabham was very angry with a fair bit of the contents of the book- it would have been a good idea for the great man to have read its contents before writing the publications foreword! I will explore the relationship between Irving and Hallam, and Hallam’s claims, in detail, soon. In short, this Repco corporate piece puffs up Hallam’s racing background and downplays Irving’s, ‘twould be interesting to know who ‘signed off’ the content of this document before it’s publication.

Enjoy ‘The Story of The Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine’, its sensational. Wish I had it when Rodway Wolfe and I tackled the articles linked below 2 years ago!, having said that we have included a good bit of granular stuff not included in this official publication, so read together are not a bad crack at the ‘RB620’ subject…

Bibliography…

Repco, ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine, ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ Simon Pinder

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection

Tailpiece: Repco Brabham Boys, Longford, March 1966…

Phil Irving, with collar and tie chats to Brabham whilst Frank Hallam at right susses the Brabham BT19’s suspension. Not sure what Roy Billington is up to. Note the long inlet trumpets of the Tasman 2.5 RBE620 V8. Its the engines 3rd race, South African GP then Sandown Tasman the week before Longford. Jack was 3rd with overheating and low fuel, Jackie Stewart won in a BRM P261 from Graham Hill’s sister BRM. Its 6 or 7 March 1966. BT19 was Jack’s F1 championship winning 1966 car, still in Oz owned by Repco (oldracephotos.com/Harold Ellis)

 

 

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Melbourne’s finest trying to keep enthusiastic shoppers under control out front of ‘Georges’, Collins Street in 1965…

The car is, I think, Bib Stillwell’s Brabham BT11A Climax. The occasion some type of promotion between Georges luxury department store and Repco or Bib Stillwell Holden. Stillwells switched from Holden to Ford in 1966 before all you Melburnians correct me, clearly the crowds are fascinated by the presence of a ‘Grand Prix’ car in Melbourne’s busiest and most up-market shopping strip.

For over a century Georges was the place the ‘great and the good shopped’, an incredibly conservative joint, its intriguing to speculate just what the promotion may have been, automotive products are not at all what Georges stocked! String-backed gloves maybe and flat-caps but nothing grubby or grimy at all.

I think its Bibs car. The color scheme is right, his dealership/workshop was in Kew, not far away. He usually raced wearing #6, this car carries #3 but that’s neither here nor there. For Repco, Brabhams were badged ‘Repco Brabham’ at the time and the Coventry Climax FPF engines by that stage were largely built in Richmond under licence from CC so there were good associations to Repco’s brand.

When is it?, not sure exactly. Bib raced his BT11A from the Tasman Series 1965, he took the last of his four Gold Stars in it that year and then retired, so I guess it’s 1965…

Georges, for the curious…

http://www.georgesoncollins.com.au/

Credit…

Nigel Tait, many thanks for another tid-bit from your Repco archives

 

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(Gasking/Repco)

‘Scuds’ was the nickname of David McKay’s Ferrari, Porsche and Volvo dealership on Sydney’s North Shore…

Here is the team with its Brabham BT23A Repco ‘740’ 2.5 V8 at Warwick Farm in 1967’ish. Not sure of the exact date, but it looks warm and Cusack carried #7 in the Hordern Trophy on 3 December 1967 so my tip is that weekend. He finished behind Frank Gardner’s Alec Mildren owned Brabham BT23D Alfa Tipo 33 V8, its race debut and John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A Climax.

Mind you, Cusack carried the same number in the 18 February ’68 Tasman Round won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Greg was out on lap 4 with brake problems. Upon a closer look, the car in the shot below, during the Tasman round does not have the green band at its noses tip, so let’s go for the shot above as pre Hordern Trophy.

From the left is the beautifully liveried Holden HR Station Wagon tow car, it’s probably toting the big 186cid 3 litre ‘six’ and ‘three on the tree’ manual tranny. Mechanic Bob Atkin, later a Director of SV, then El Supremo McKay and driver Greg Cusack. Greg was a very successful Ford dealer himself in Canberra. He was said to have been as quick as anyone on his day but ‘those days’ didn’t happen often enough! The trailer is a ‘Rice’ rated then and eagerly sought after now.

Top period shots, luvvem!

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Cusack at the Farm during the ’68 Tasman round in the SV BT23A (oldracephotos.com)

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection/Repco, oldracephotos.com, oldracingcars.com

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Dave Charlton fettling his Brabham BT11 to which he has just bolted a ‘brand spankers’ 3 litre Repco F1 RB620 V8…

I must admit this shot as a ‘who, what, where and when’ had me tossed! I thought the face was familiar, but given it was from Nigel Tait’s Repco Photographic Archive I figured it was an RBE technician installing the little V8 into one of Jack’s Tasman cars in Melbourne. Completely wrong! The installation of engine to chassis was done in South Africa, exactly where I am intrigued to know.

But at the back of my brain I did recognise the driver although its Charlton’s Lotus 72 days which resonate with me most. This Brabham, the BT11 was a very successful ‘Intercontinental’ model in Tasman racing and in South African National Formula racing. Bought for Charlton by South African enthusiast Aldo Scribante, it was originally delivered with the ubiquitous 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine.

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Charlton in the Climax engined Brabham BT11, Q8 and unclassified. Pedro Rodriguez won the race in a Cooper T81 Maserati, South African GP 1967 (Dave Kent)

Dave did the full South African season in it in 1966, not really challenging local rival John Love’s Brabham BT20 Repco. After cranking in the Repco V8 he won the ’67 Rand Autumn Trophy race. Into 1968 he raced on in the BT11, Love updated to an ex-works Lotus 49, the rivalry between the two drivers over the years intense and fair.

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1968 South African GP, Dave in Scribante’s Brabham BT11 Repco. Q14 and DNF gearbox, the race won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford, the great Scots last GP win (Doug Brown)

Charlton was a South African citizen but was born in Yorkshire in 1936, migrating to SA with his mother in his early teens.

He first rose to prominence after winning the 1960 SA GP sportscar supporting race in an Austin Healey 100/6. He later raced an ex-Whitmore Lotus 22 in Europe without much success and returned to SA with a depleted bank balance. Some great drives in a Lotus 20 Ford twin-cam bought him to Scribante’s notice and the rest as they say is history; South African F1 champion from 1970-75, 13 championship Grands Prix appearances. He died in February 2013.

After claiming a number of wins in the Brabham over the following season Charlton upgraded to a Lotus 49C Ford taking the 1970 South African F1 title (and 12th place in the South African GP). In a renta-drive he drove a factory Brabham BT33 in the ’71 South African GP, his engine failed mid-race.

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The two great rivals in South Africa for over a decade; John Love March 701 Ford 2nd and Charlton Lotus 49C Ford 1st, Leeukop Corner, Highveld 100, 1971 Kyalami (Brian Watson)

He went to to the UK to collect a Lotus 72D, racing it in the 1972 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, in spite of losing practice time to mechanical issues he qualified 13th.  His engine dropped on to seven cylinders on the warm-up lap, but the car won him the domestic SA championship for three consecutive seasons.

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1972 British GP, Charlton leading one of the McLarens into Druids Hill, Lotus 72D Ford, DNF gearbox, the race won by Fittipaldi’s works 72D (Brian Watson)

For 1974 Charlton’s Scuderia Scribante team acquired McLaren M23/2, which Peter Revson had driven to victory in the 1973 British Grand Prix. Charlton dominated the domestic scene to a new level despite Ian Scheckter’s pace in a Lotus 72. Charlton took six wins and won a fifth consecutive championship.

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Kyalami 1972, perhaps the Highveld 100 but help welcomes from South African enthusiasts. #2 John Love Surtees TS9, #1 Charlton Lotus 72D and #3 Willie Ferguson Brbham BT33, the blue McLaren M10B Chev perhaps Kipp Ackerman (Brian Watson)

The following year Scheckter raced a Tyrrell 007 and Charlton won twice but eight podiums in a year of consistency won him the title again. He sold the M23 on to Aussie John McCormack, who converted it to Formula 5000 spec and notched up further successes in the domestic Gold Star championship, while Charlton switched to Formula Pacific and won that for four consecutive seasons.

Click here for my article on McLaren M23/2 which has some material on Charlton’s racing of that great car; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/24/macs-mclaren-peter-revson-dave-charlton-and-john-mccormacks-mclaren-m232/

Charlton died in February 2013 aged 77.

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Charlton during the 1973 South African GP @ Kyalami with his Lotus 72D all nicely balanced on the throttle (Stuart Dent)

Etcetera…

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Charlton at Kyalami in the BT11 still Climax engined in 1967 (Ken Stewart)

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Charlton this side in the BT11 Repco with John Love in his BT20 Repco in 1968 (Dave Kent)

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Carlton again in the BT11 Repco (Deon Smit)

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Paid guest drive of the works Brbham BT33, inside Denny Hulme’s McLaren M19, SA GP 1971 (Deon Smit)

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Charlton at the wheel of a factory Lotus 72, 1971 British GP (unattributed)

Credits…

Nigel Tait Collection, Repco Ltd Archive

Tailpiece: The flag drops-Luki Botha Brabham Repco, John Love Cooper Climax and on the far side Dave Charlton Brabham BT11 Repco, 1967 Coronation 100 …

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(Deon Smit)

 

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(Gasking)

Repco workshop customer point of sale ‘take-away’ from 1962/3…

Given the sophistication of todays online marketing driven by complex algorithms using the reams of data we all hand over, unknowingly, in our daily routines its interesting to look at how it was once done, and still is to an extent I guess.

This quite eye-catching piece, with its complex die cut is sophisticated for its day and was no doubt scooped up in large numbers by the trade customers who frequented the various outlets of Repco’ burgeoning global empire. Repco’s retail outlets, well known to Aussies as a weekend DIY supply destination came later.

Former Repco engineer Michael Gasking has given me access to his extensive archive to share with you, this is the first of many more interesting Repco timepieces from Michael. Many thanks to him!

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(Gasking)

It’s a few years before the Repco-Brabham ‘RB620’ V8 program but Ron and Jack’s cars were called and badged ‘Repco-Brabham’ and the technical relationship was just extending to the maintenance and parts back up of the Coventry Climax FPF engine by whom Repco were licensed to make parts.

So the link between R&D, testing and racing is well travelled but neatly done I reckon, to see and hold this marketing timepiece is a joy so I thought it worth sharing.

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Brabham’s BT4 awaits its Climax engine during the ‘1963 Internationals in Australia, at the Repco Richmond facility. Its a nice ‘reveal’ of Ron Tauranac’s spaceframe chassis of the day. BT4 is the Intercontinental variant of the 1962 F1 Coventry Cliamx FWMV V8 engined BT3 (Repco/Gasking)

Brabham chassis ‘F1-3-62’…

Inevitably my eyes were drawn to the cars chassis number. Its to the left and under the steering wheel on the dash, its with this stuff where my anal side kicks in. Wonder which car it is, thought i…

Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com is one of my favourite bibles for such important minutae. No joy there, there was only one BT3 built, Jack’s first MRD built F1 weapon and that’s chassis ‘F1-1-62’ . The subsequent 1962 built BT4’s all have ‘IC’, Intercontinental in Brabham lore, chassis prefixes so it’s a bit of a mystery that I am sure one of you can solve.

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Roy Billington and Jack Brabham fettle the 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ Coventry Climax FPF of Brabham’s BT4 ‘IC-2-62’ prior to the start of the 1963 AGP at Warwick Farm. He won from Surtees Lola Mk4A Climax and McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax, all three of them using CC’s of 2.7 litres in capacity (SMH/Tait)

It doesn’t follow that the cockpit shot at the articles outset is one of Jack’s cars of course. He sold three BT4’s in Australia to Messrs Davison, McKay and Stillwell. Lex’s ex-Brabham ’62 AGP winning car and Bib’s were based in Melbourne’s Armadale and Kew, both pretty close to Repco’s HQ in St Kilda Road so seem likely subjects for their PR Department or Ad Agency’s photographers. But neither of the chassis numbers work. Mind you Bibs BT4 was ‘IC-3-62’ I wonder if a bit of sixties ‘photoshop’ made it ‘F1-3-62’. Anyway, that’s a theory until one of you can blow it out of the water!…

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Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm, 10 February 1963. En-route to winning the AGP (Aussie Homestead)

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection, Nigel Tait Collection, Repco, Sydney Morning Herald, oldracingcars.com, Aussie Homestead