Archive for the ‘Sports Racers’ Category

I was travelling down Alexandra Avenue in the twee Melbourne suburb of South Yarra last summer and fell in line behind a Lotus Elite and Lotus Elise, it reminded me of a magic day a few years ago…

My mate David Mottram is a doyen of the Victorian MG and Lotus Clubs. He is a racer, restorer and fettler of renown of these and other marques. On occasion he invited me along to the MG Car Club Driver Training Days to help out, it was always fun to attempt to impart some knowledge, the only downside being scared shitless once or twice alongside people whose levels of bravery made Gilles Villeneuve look like a ‘Big Sheila’.

The best part of the day was always the final 45 minutes during which the instructors had the track to themselves. At the time I had a standard’ish Series 1 Elise, the original Rover K-Series powered jobbie. It didn’t have a lot of power but with a free-flowing exhaust, a smidge stiffer springs which the standard Koni’s could just control, some decent track tyres on original wheels and competition brake pads it was both a fun road and track car.

My frame of reference at the time was a Lola T342 Historic Formula Ford I raced for over a decade. My 911 Carrera 3.2, using the same Formula Ford prism was a horrible track car! The Elise’ standard gearset was the only circuit shortcoming really-  second was too short and fifth ‘moonshot tall’ even at Phillip Island without a strong tailwind. The 111S gear cluster was the solution but I never quite got around to making that change.

Lotus Elite cutaway (James Allington)


(S Dalton)

Anyway, on this particular Sandown day David brought along his ex-Derek Jolly Lotus Elite Super 95. This buttercup yellow car will be familiar to many Australian enthusiasts of historic racing as David and Pat Mottram have contested a gazillion Regularity events in it across this great brown land of ours for the best part of 25 years. Whilst I had ridden in it on the road I’d never had a steer before.

I jumped out of the Elise after 15 laps or so and straight into the Elite, cars built forty years apart.

The thing which struck me like the proverbial bolt from the blue after only a couple of laps was the sibling similarity of these two wonderful, light, low powered, beautiful handling cars.

Chapman had nothing at all to do with the Elise of course, the design team were fiddling about with its key design elements 15 years or so after the great mans death of a heart attack in late 1982.

But the Lotus brand values transcended the founder, which is of course exactly as it should be. ‘Brand Essence’ is what we ‘arty-farty, limp wristed commo-poofter bastard’ branding practitioners call the intrinsic elements of a brand. One of my buddies used to refer to me in those glowing terms during my years as a Partner of one of Australia’s foremost branding consultancies.

Lotus Elise 111s cutaway (Lotus Cars)


Elise conceptual drawing or sketch (Lotus Cars)

The first thing which impressed about the Elise as I drove what became my own car down bumpy, rutty Church Street Richmond on the initial test drive was the ‘pitter-patter’ of the cars tyres as the wheels rode the bumps with the chassis absolutely stiff. It was like a honeymooners todger- rock solid.

You can feel what the wheels and tyres are doing as they are so beautifully controlled with a light aluminium chassis of amazing torsional stiffness by road car standards. Still, our Col did invent the modern aluminium monocoque, the 1962 Lotus 25 GP car was his first expression of the art.

These cars have relatively soft springs, the bushes are firm to give good control- the cars are noisy as a consequence of minimal sound deadening but the springs themselves are softish and have reasonable travel. Just like the Elite, the chassis of which, famously, was the worlds first fibreglass monocoque.

It was a bastard to make, but magnificent in conception and in use as long as you didn’t have an early, ‘problem-child’ car. Things improved when Bristol Aircraft took over construction of the chassis from Maximar, the original ‘trail blazers’ in interpretation and manufacture of Colin’s baby.

The Elite is also ‘drummy’, noisy just like its younger cousin, mind you I’d rather do the Melbourne to Sydney trip in the older of the two cars despite the lack of a tall fifth, cruisin’ down the highway gear.

Lotus Elite and 16 Climax FPF F2/F1 car at the London Motor Show in 1958


David Mottram aboard the family Elite 95 at Phillip Island (Mottram)

Your freckle is very close to the ground too, the Elise’ seat is a ‘form-fit’, no barge-arses should apply thing. To sit in it is the closest thing to the feel of a sports-racer on the road as is possible to experience. Use enough imagination and the view is pretty much what drivers of a Lola T70 Coupe had with the ultra low seating position, curved minimalist dash, exposed aluminium each side of you and guards not much higher than your nose. The seat isn’t sprung, its solidly mounted to the cars tub so all of the messages from the road are transmitted to your bum, fingers, wrists and toes- the sensory side of things, if that kinda stuff gives you your jollies, is amazing. Lotsa rubber bushings, who needs ‘em?

The Elite is more generous in the comfort department but only marginally so.

You sit up a little more and the seats whilst thinly padded are more comfy than the Elise. Even with a lap-sash road type belt you are retained nicely between the high transmission tunnel and the door with an array of Smiths instruments in front of you which is oh-so-period. My Elise was fitted with a six-point Willans harness which held me in the standard seat rather nicely for competition work, the Elite was not so endowed but the driving position is the same, a very comfortable one with long arms to the wheel and pedals nicely set for heel-‘n-toe operation

Steering of the Elise is delicious- in my experience there is nothing close to it on the road. Jumping from the Lola to the Elise was ‘same, same’- that’s not an indictment of one of 1975’s most competitive Formula Fords but an acclamation of Lotus design.

The weight of the steering, its feel, the wheel’s design, size, material and rim thickness, feedback and directness are superb in the way you can place the car on the road and the warning you get as the limits of adhesion are approached. The Elite rack is a Triumph item, the Elise’s was made by Titan Motorsport. Both have the same characteristics though in terms of the way the cars have steering of exceptional feel, delicacy and precision. The Elites wood-rimmed wheel is larger and thinner, the suspension, wire-wheels, tyre width and aspect ratio are period differences which mitigate against the same Elise level of precision but the Elite was a steering benchmark in the late fifties-early sixties period and a pleasure to guide around Sandowns fast corners. The Elite rolls about a bit, as you would expect, the Elise sits much flatter and ‘points’ or turns in much more nicely despite the lack of a rear roll bar- its mid-engined and 40 years younger after all.

That other marques/supplier donated the steering rack highlights another Lotus attribute down the decades. In part they are an assemblage of parts made by others. It doesn’t impact in a negative way in use. Mind you if you are in the market for an alternative to a 911, the bragging rights of an Evora powered by a Toyota V6 are not quite on a par with a Porsche despite the utility of the Japanese motor.

The Elite’s Coventry Climax FWE engine was revolutionary in its day, the 1216cc SOHC, 2 valve all aluminium road version of the very successful FWA race engine was quite something in the context of the wheezy, mainly push-rod engines of the competition. Sensitive, regular maintenance was important. In Super 95 spec, the twin-Weber fed engine produces over 100bhp and punches the car along nicely but the lap times are achieved by the cars brakes, entry speed, neutrality with limited power thru the corners and fine aerodynamics rather than outright mumbo.

It’s a ‘momentum car ‘ just like the Elise and lower powered single-seaters. Whilst the performance variants of the Elise/Exige are a different kettle of fish, the original all alloy DOHC, 4 valve, fuel injected 1796cc 118bhp Elise was all about economy of power, weight (circa 725Kg) and delivery. They are subtle delicate things which respond well to inputs of a similar type, they are not tools for the ham-fisted. So too was the Elite, its competition record belied its specifications.

The Elite’s ZF gearbox is a much nicer snickety-snick thing to use than the Elise’s. The linkages of the modern car are sub-optimal but familiarity and ‘light hands and wrists’ as Frank Gardner put it, soon has you slicing thru the gears ok. Both cars have superb brakes too- unassisted discs all round, inboard on the rear of the Elite, all outboard on the Elise with the latter rotors in aluminium to help keep unsprung weight down.

‘Uncle Dave’ was soon waving at me from the pitlane, I pretended it was encouragement for a couple of more laps but his intent soon became clear when he waved an empty fuel drum at me.

I buzzed for hours afterwards, it was a magic, fun day- the Elite was a vastly better car to drive than I had imagined. On the suburban grind back to Camberwell I reflected on just ‘how right’ Chapman would have thought Julian Thomson and his design and engineering team got the Elise. Chapman bottled the essence of Lotus- his designers have since periodically dispensed it in a manner in which he would be proud…

Pat Mottram and Elite at Wakefield Park, Goulburn (Mottram)

Etcetera: Clark/Whitmore Elite at Le Mans in 1959…

How youthful does white-shirted Jim Clark look?

The pair were tenth outright and second in class behind the Peter Lumsden/Peter Riley Elite, the Roy Salvadori/Carroll Shelby Aston Martin DBR1 were victorious.

Photo Credits…

M Bisset, Mottram Family and Stephen Dalton Collections, Getty Images-Klemantaski




(G Bruce)

Ron Tauranac’s two Brabham BT5 Lotus-Ford twin-cams’s were built in 1963…

The Ian Walker Racing ‘SC-1-63′ achieved plenty of success in the hands of both Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins.

The car used a typical Tauranac multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with upper and lower wishbones at the front and lower links, inverted top wishbone and two radius rods- coil spring/shocks front and rear. Rack and pionion steering, disc brakes all around, a Hewland 4-speed gearbox and a Cosworth tuned Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam of 1596cc giving circa 140 bhp completed the package.

The photograph below is a BT5 test session at Goodwood early in 1963 with the Aussies out in force, oh, and a Kiwi.

From left in the nice, warm ‘jumper’ is Paul Hawkins, lanky Frank Gardner, the Guvnor and Denny Hulme. All rather handy at the wheel of a motorcar- and on the end of a ‘spanner’.



Gordon Bruce,

Tailpiece: Gardner, BT5 Ford, Mallory Park…



Mark Webbers Porsche 919 looking somewhat alien-like during the June 2014 running of the Le Mans 24 Hour classic…

He shared the car with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, the trio led the race a couple of times, as late as during the twenty-first hour but a broken roll bar forced them into the pits at that point and the car was retired.


Ultimately the Andre Lotterer/Marcel Fassler/Benoit Treluyer Audi R18 e-tron 4 litre turbo-diesel V6 won from the similar car of Tom Kristenson/Marc Gene/Lucas di Grassi with the Toyota TS040 Hybrid 3.7 litre V8- its crew Anthony Davidson/Sebastien Buemi/Nicolas Lapierre, third.


The best placed Porker was in eleventh- Marc Lieb/Romain Dumas/Neel Jani aboard the 2 litre turbo-V4 919 Hybrid. Webber and Co completed 346 laps but were non-classified, the winners did 379.


Most of you will recall Mark Webber left Formula 1 for Endurance Racing at the end of 2013 doing three seasons with Porsche before his retirement at the end of 2016.

He won the World Endurance Drivers Championship together with Hartley and Bernhard in 2015, the trio took eight wins over the three years they raced together helping Porsche win the Manufacturers Championship In 2015 and 2016.

Getty Images is an orgy of photography, regular readers will be well aware of the value of the resource to me, do have a look- key ‘Le Mans’ into the search engine and the 62,351 images which pop up will keep you busy for a while.

This piece is visual, with a focus on the more creative of Getty’s Mark Webber 2014 ‘Lee Manz’, as Larry Perkins calls it, shots. More on the Porsche 919;

My posts may be a bit hap-hazard over the next three weeks, I am on safari in England and Italy for a bit.



Getty Images




Allan McNish in the wonderfully distinctive ‘Crocodile’ livery Audi R8 ahead of David Brabham’s Panoz LMP-1, about to hook into the Adelaide GP circuit’s Chicane early in The Race of 1000 Years on 31 December 2000…

For one wonderful year the sports prototypes raced again in Australia- the race was the final round of the American Le Mans Series.

Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello won the event- shortened to 850 km from its scheduled 1000 km, from the Franz Konrad/Charles Slater/Alan Heath Lola B2K/10 Ford and the Dodge Viper GTS-R raced by Olivier Beretta/Karl Wendlinger/Dominique Dupuy.

The V8 Supercars have used the shortened Adelaide layout (the Hutt St, Rundle Rd section bypassed in favour of a new straight along Bartels Road) from 1999 but this endurance race  used the full GP circuit.

McNish’s quickest lap was a 1:25.2189 seconds, which, while the circuit’s fastest non-F1 race lap is still well shy of Damon Hill’s Williams FW15C Renault 3.5 V10 time of 1:15.381 seconds set during the 1993 AGP.

The history of endurance racing at the time is interesting and somewhat of a ‘might have been’.

The 1999 Le Mans Fuji, and Adelaide Race of a Thousand Years were intended as precursors to a planned Asia Pacific Le Mans Series run by Don Panoz, just as the Silverstone and Nürburgring events run earlier in 2000 were for the European Le Mans Series. The subsequent small number of entries for the European Series in 2001, plus a lack of competitors for a third Asia-Pacific exhibition event to be held at Sepang in Malaysia caused the cancellation of the Asia-Pacific Le Mans Series.

Despite 135,000 fans rocking up in Adelaide, 70,000 on raceday, only the first year of a nine year contract with the South Australian Government was performed.

Stefan Bellof blowing off a Kombi In Dandenong Road in his 956 in December 1984. Porsche Cars Oz workshops were in Noble Park, an adjoining suburb to Sandown Park so why not drive the 3 team cars there, the beasts were tractable enough! The #2 956, crewed by Bellof and Derek Bell won the race from the Mass/Ickx and Palmer/Lammers 956’s (unattributed)

A shame, but the Board of Directors of Melbourne’s Light Car Club of Australia, the promoters of Sandown Park, could have shared a story or two with Adelaide Premier John Olsen about how easy it is to ‘do your balls’ and lose the (club)house if endurance racing was poorly promoted to punters who have always enjoyed a diet of meat ‘n spuds touring cars mixed with meat ‘n spuds touring cars.

The LCCA Board drove the club to oblivion with a shitfully promoted and commercially structured endurance championship event in 1984- loss estimates start at $A300k and stretch to $A500K, a lot in 1984.

Of course, randomly coming across some Adelaide photos got me thinking about these very successful Audis.

McNish in profile 31 December 2000 Audi Sport North America R8 Race of a Thousand Years, Asia-Pacific Le Mans Series (M Turner)


OZ magnesium alloy wheels. Throughout this article there are ‘snippets’ of an R8 which won at Jarama in 2001 and was raced by Katoh/Dalmas/Ara at Le Mans in 2002- I am uncertain as to chassis number- these shots were taken by Darin Schnabel and were sourced from a Sotheby’s ad for the car (D Schnabel)

In their seven year competition history from 1999–2006, the R8 achieved a formidable record of both reliability and success, albeit sometimes not necessarily against the strongest of opposition, losing only 16 races in that period.

The R8 won Le Mans five times- 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005, and in addition took the American Le Mans Series seven times, the European Le Mans Series in 2001 and was the Le Mans Series champion in 2004.

The ‘miss’ at Le Mans was in 2003, Audi did not enter ‘factory’ cars that year to allow the R8’s technical and corporate sibling, the Bentley EXP Speed 8 to finish first and second. Click here for a feature on the Speed 8;

Le Mans winners Capello/Kristenson/Smith Bentley EXP Speed 8, Le Mans 2003 (C Rose)

The R8 had a late Autumn in its career- the turbocharged diesel V12 engined R10 replaced it in 2006 but it took a while to get it right with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello winning the R8’s last race at Lime Rock, Connecticut that July- the R8 also took the two preceding rounds at Reliant Park and Mid Ohio. The 5.5 litre R10’s first win was the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park on 15 July 2006- Biela and Pirro shared the driving chores.

As early as 1997, Audi Sport director Wolfgang Ullrich considered competing at Le Mans to join BMW, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Toyota.

Ullrich engaged Dallara to assist the internal team to design and build a car, struggling with the workload of his rapidly growing business, Gian Paolo Dallara gave Tony Southgate a call to help him with the Audi program, Southgates second, enjoyable and successful stint at Tom Walkinshaw Racing had come to an end with the cessation of Nissan’s race program as the Japanese manufacturer sought to cut costs globally.

Not too long after Dallara’s phone call Tony travelled to Audi Sport at Ingolstadt, met Dr Ullrich and his team of engineers and looked at the car, the R8R- and shortly thereafter signed a two year contract as an consultant with effect 8 September 1998.

What he found was a sports prototype with a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, a mid-mounted 3.6 litre turbo-charged V8 engine and a transverse six-speed gearbox made by Ricardo, in Leamington Spa, the latter surprised him as they were not one of the larger specialists at the time. ‘The radiator was mounted at the front and the bodywork was best described as “styled” wrote Southgate in his autobiography ‘From Drawing Board to Chequered Flag’.

The car had power steering which excited the Brit as he had wanted to exploit the benefits of such an approach for years- reduced driver effort and unconventional suspension geometries were the advantages, these were normally restricted by unassisted steering given the needs of driver comfort.

The car was tested by Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela at a private test track near Most, in the Czech Republic, the track guarded by machine-gun toting guards every 200 metres!

Southgate’s conclusions from this session were that lap times could easily be improved by basic setup changes, that the car was very simple for such a large company ‘The story went that the man responsible for the design had left, and no one knew the exact package that he had envisaged.’

There was much scope for improvement including throwing away the monocoque to get down to the weight limit, the aero was poor in that the car had been styled rather than produced in the wind tunnel, the engine was basically good as was the Ricardo ‘box although it needed ‘refinement’.

Ulrich Baretzky was the engine boss, his chief designer was Hartmut Diel, with Wolfgang Appel the overall Project Leader- Southgate rated all of them.

Le Mans pits 1999- #7 Audi R8R Alboreto/Capello/Aiello 4th, #10 Audi R8C of Weaver/Wallace/McCarthy DNF 198 laps gearbox

The R8R’s aerodynamic changes were in the hands of in-house resident aerodynamicist Michael Pfadenhauer- new to motor racing but learning fast. The wind tunnel work was done at SF, part of the Swiss Aircraft & Systems concern, near Emmen.

Southgate notes that the ACO’s regulations were different to those which prevailed during the time he was looking after the Group C Jaguars and Toyotas in two areas.

First, the underside of the car and the forward part of it no longer had to be flat bottomed which meant that they could take on aerodynamic profiles, the drivers feet could be raised F1 fashion. The net effect was to provide greater front downforce.

Second, the dimension to the most extreme point of the rear bodywork was to include any wing section- the wing could no longer be set aft of the tail as on the Jag and Toyota. Instead the trailing edge of the wing could extend no further back than the tail. The rear venturi was now smaller in height, an attempt to reduce overall downforce. The net effect was that the new tail had to be much lower.

‘The new low-tail approach blended in nicely with my minimal frontal area philosophy. I had started working on this at TWR, but it would have to wait until the following year…the R8R design required too many changes, and we didn’t have enough time before Le Mans.’

The R8R did appear at Le Mans with a low tail but the most important change made was to the gearbox- the cars biggest endurance challenge. Despite ‘beefing up’ the dog-engagement box, similar in concept to the Hewland and Xtrac transmissions, it would struggle to last 24 hours.

The endurance issues were solved when Appel met Erwin Gassner, whose firm, ‘Mega Line’ produced a pneumatic gearshift conversion for motorcycles- its primary use was in motorbike endurance racing.

Tony, ‘The gearshift was operated by a paddle rocker switch- Formula 1 fashion. It disconnected the clutch electronically and at the same time moved the sequential shift rod pneumatically to the next gear. The pneumatic shift was quite simple. A small compressor, looking very much like a model aeroplane diesel engine, charged a small accumulator complete with electrical switch, and was housed in a metal box that bolted onto the side of the gearbox case.’

With a minimum of trouble, it was off to the Most test track, with some refinement to shift times- 0.4 seconds was settled upon, the results were amazing, ‘we stripped the gearbox to check the condition of the dog-rings and they looked perfect, as if they hadn’t even been used…The drivers liked the fact that they could keep their hands on the steering wheel all the time, which made cornering smoother…’

What the system did was eliminate human error- as drivers make mistakes with their timing of changes so the components are damaged bit by bit- often ending in failure.

Lets not forget John Barnard had just introduced this feature on the Ferrari 640 but it had not yet found its way to sportscar racing.

The 4th placed Alboreto/Capello/Aiello R8R, Le Mans 1999 (Getty)

Good progress was being made with the R8R until Audi top executives threw a curve ball into the mix.

They were not convinced the open-cockpit car was the best alternative and felt a coupe should also be built to compare the two.

Southgate was not in favour of dilution of the team’s efforts but told them that a car complying with LM-GTP regs (the ACO’s new formula for closed coupe prototypes) might produce up to 10% better aero than a roadster due to the streamlined cockpit section. But the complete picture also required a look at the tyre regulations- the GTP’s were required to run 50mm narrower rear tyres than the LMP roadsters, ‘nothing should ever be given away in the tyre department’ quipped Tony. The roadsters had a lower C of G and were lighter, giving the designer the ability to ballast where required- and they were easier to build in terms of bodywork, windscreens, ventilation and doors.

Notwithstanding the above the Directors still wanted a coupe- and money was not an issue!

The R8C Coupe would use the same engine and gearbox as the R8R and was to be designed and built at the Volkswagen Audi Group owned ‘Racing Technology Norfolk’ plant at Hingham- the former TOMS GB factory had been acquired by VAG in July 1988.

Richard Lloyd and John Wickham would oversee the project and were in charge of racing it whilst Peter Elleray designed the carbon-fibre monocoque chassis with the assistance of two other designers.

RTN had all of the required facilities inclusive of an autoclave, whilst Southgate looked after the aerodynamics still using the SF tunnel in Emmen.

Work began in September 1988, the Le Mans Test Day was the first weekend the following May.

The first RTN R8C was ready in March and was shaken down on 1 April (brave) 1999 at Snetterton by Andy Wallace- he lost a door in the first few laps much to the bemusement of an Audi Director who decided to drop in on the test at the end of his holidays!

Time constraints meant Tony had to commit to the build of the aero package before it was fully developed, it was 10-15% light of the downforce targets he had set. ‘The missing downforce was on the front of the car, which meant the front split was a little marginal. To try to make up for this discrepancy I was obliged to run the front ground clearance very low, which was not ideal.’

A pre Le Mans test at Hockenheim revealed some flexing or binding in the front suspension, which made the steering clumsy and a little unstable- a shaker rig gave the crew comfort that the components would not break- post Le Mans testing showed the front wishbones were deflecting causing castor angle changes. Peter Elleray decided to draw completely new front suspension as a fix.

The colour and movement of Le Mans 1999- Hawaiian Tropic girls never seem to age, perpetually 22 years of age (Getty)


The Southgate/RTN designed R8C at Le Mans in 1999


The R8C on circuit at Le Mans 1999, driver uncertain, attractive car (M Hewitt)

Both R8R’s which raced at Sebring in March had good reliability but the team were still worried about gearboxes, so they decided to have a contingency plan to allow for a transmission change during the race.

Joest Racing set a target time of 9 minutes! and achieved it by installing dry-break couplings on all the brake, clutch, engine and gearbox oil cooler fluid lines. They also made the removal of the rear underbody easier and obtained special air-tools  for undoing the bellhousing bolts.

Four cars made it to the Le Mans Test Day- two R8C GTP Coupes and two R8R Le Mans Prototype Roadsters.

The R8R’s were eighth and eleventh fastest, the R8C’s twenty-second and twenty-eighth fastest- top speed of the coupes 217 mph.

‘Joest did a hot test transmission change during one of the practice sessions- the whole rear end- the replacement transmission and the suspension and brake assemblies- was lowered from a crane directly above the race car and fitted. Underbody on, tail on, wheels down, down on the floor, ready to go- 4 minutes 56 seconds!’ wrote Tony.

The team were stunned, it appeared it may have been possible to effect such a change without even losing track position.

Le Mans 2000, the winning chassis by the way (Audi)

Only three pneumatic gearshift systems were made by the time of the race so it was decided to fit them to the two more developed R8R’s keeping one as spare with the R8C’s having the normal manual Ricardo ‘box.

Both Coupes were plagued by transmission problems throughout practice and then ran into trouble in the first two hours.

The Audi R8Rs weren’t fast enough to win Le Mans in 1999, but they finished a credible third-Pirro/Biela/Theys and fourth-Alboreto/Capello/Aiello behind a BMW V12 LMR 6 litre and Toyota GT-One 3.6 V8 t/c- the latter also Dallara built. One of the cars had the whole rear end replaced without losing track position.

The R8C coupes suffered gearbox problems as noted above, the Johansson/Ortelli/Abt car had diff failure after only 55 laps, the Wallace/McCarthy/Weaver car retired in the tenth hour after completing 198 laps, the design was popped to one side but returned later in evolved form as the Bentley EXP Speed 8.

‘A new development program was initiated under the banner of Volkswagen, and later Bentley, another member of the VAG Group. Peter Elleray would again look after chassis development and I would look concentrate on improving the aerodynamics’ wrote Tony.

In terms of the new for 2000 R8R roadsters, development work focused on engine power response and fuel efficiency, the gearbox and pneumatic mechanism was further refined based on the race experience ‘to the point that outwardly the gearbox looked completely new by the time it reappeared in the all new R8.

#2 Audi R8, Lime Rock June 2006. Carbon-fibre chassis, wishbone and pushrod suspension clear

Southgate focused on the aerodynamics of the new car and in particular his ‘obsession with minimal frontal area and low CG’ with Wolfgang Appel’s team readily absorbing this mantra. The latest aero figures from the Coupe were used as a target for the new R8R roadster ‘Young Michael Pfadenhauer was still with me at the SF tests in Switzerland, and was now up to speed and feeding the information into the Le Mans computer program to establish our new theoretical laptimes.’

Southgate wrote that his second year at Audi was more straightforward and routine than the first as the engineers needed les help and general guidance.

The coupe project was a design and development car with some testing with no race program plan then- ‘Great strides were made in the wind tunnel and it started to look very good. The car would go on to be re-engineered again and again, and finally to reappear as the Bentley EXP Speed 8 in the 2001 Le Mans’ by then Tony had retired.

The first R8R was completed and ready for testing in January 2000- it looked and ran well from the start winning the Sebring 12 Hour in March- the Pirro/Biela/Kristensen car was ahead of that crewed by Alboreto/Capello/McNish, both cars a lap ahead of the two BMW V12 LMR’s.

To the Le Mans test weekend the three Audis were the quickest cars, further work was done to strengthen the gearbox.

(Darin Schnabel)


Le Mans 2000- 1-3 finish, crews as per text (Audi)

There were the usual dramas at Le Mans but with a one-two-three finish!

The Sebring winning crew of Frank Biela/Tom Kristensen/Emanuele Pirro took the chequered flag, followed across the line by Laurent Aiello/Allan McNish/Stephane Ortelli and Michele Alboreto/Christian Abt/Rinaldo Capello.

ALMS events won in 2000 were those at Sebring, Sears Point, Mosport, Texas, Portland, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, Las Vegas and Adelaide.

R8 Le Mans 2000 winning crew- L>R Pirro, Kristensen, Biela with Allan McNish at right (Audi)


Race number a misnomer, there was no Audi R8 #12 which raced @ Le Mans in 2001. Keep in mind Southgate’s minimal frontal area mantra in looking at the aero shots of the cars (D Schnabel)


Kristensen/Biela/Pirro R8 on the way to 2nd at Sebring in 2001 (URY914)

In 2001, Audi again finished 1-2 at Le Mans surviving the disastrous lap four downpour that led to the collision of nine cars on the slick and slippery surface. Again, Biela/Kristensen/Pirro won, followed by Aiello/Capello/Christian Pescatori.

A great outcome for the VW Group was the third place of the Bentley EXP Speed 8, developed upon the basis of the 1999 Audi R8C coupe. It was driven by Andy Wallace/Butch Leitzinger/Eric van de Poele and won the GTP class.

ALMS Series wins were Texas, Sebring, Donington, Jarama, Sears Point, Mosport, Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta- the two rounds not won by the R8 were won by the Panoz.

Audi Sport’s program was dealt a tragedy in 2001 when Michele Alboreto died in an R8 during a Lausitzring, northeast Germany, test session after a high speed tyre failure. He was doing straight line tests at the time, the tyre blow-out caused a collision with a trackside wall.

Marco Werner/Philipp Peter/Michael Krumm R8 Le Mans 2002- 3rd place behind two other R8’s (Getty)


Note rear aero generally and Southgate’s low tail prescription (D Schnabel)


(D Schnabel)

In 2002, the Audi Joest team returned to Le Mans with several new drivers and despite 17 flat tyres during the night between the three R8s, the result was the same- victory albeit taking the first three places.

Biela/Kristensen/Pirro achieved a record in that it was the first time the same driver combination had won three straight 24 Hours of Le Mans. Capello/Johnny Herbert/Pescatori were second and Michael Krumm/Philipp Peter/Marco Werner were third. The Bentley EXP Speed 8 was fourth and won the GTP class, driven by Wallace/Leitzinger/van der Poele.

ALMS rounds won in 2002 were at Sebring, Mid Ohio, Road America, Trois-Rivieres, Mosport, Laguna Seca, Miami and Road Atlanta.

The R8 of Tom Kristensen and Seiji Ara during first practice, Spa 1000 km in August 2003. They won from the Pescarolo Racing Courage C60 Peugeot 3.2 V6 t/c of Lagorce/Sarrazin and the Dome S101 Judd V10 raced by Beppe Gabbiani and Felipe Ortiz (M Krakowski)


Brembo caliper and carbon brakes


Glowing Brembos- Croc-R8 during the Adelaide December 2000 weekend (LAT)


The Kristensen/Capello/Smith Bentley EXP Speed 8 crosses the line ahead of the 3rd placed Pirro/Lehto/Johansson and 4th placed Ara/Magnussen/Verner R8’s. The Blundell/Brabham/Herbert Bentley was 2nd (A Durand)

Audi Team Joest sat out the 2003 Le Mans 24 as mentioned earlier, a pair of redesigned Bentley Speed 8s, #7, driven by Guy Smith/Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello and #8 driven by Johnny Herbert/David Brabham/Mark Blundell led the VAG charge that year.

The Bentleys finished first and second which was much celebrated across the motor-sporting world given the history of the marque at Le Mans between the wars- it had been 71 years since the brands last appearance at the race.

Privateer R8s finished third and fourth, and three-time winner Frank Biela would have undoubtedly been a factor in a privateer R8, had he not run out of fuel in the third hour.

2003 R8 ALMS round wins were Sebring, Road Atlanta, Sonoma, Trois-Rivieres, Mosport, Road America, Laguna Seca, Miami and Road Atlanta- the LMP900 class, outright in eery round.

Audi R8 cockpit, driving position for a sports-racer somewhat unusal in being on the left, gearbox is Ricardo 6-speed sequential (D Schnabel)


Johnny Herbert, R8, 12 June 2004, Le Mans (B Lennon)

The Audi R8s almost finished first to fourth at Le Mans in 2004 but were thwarted by an accident when Allan McNish and JJ Lehto hit a tyre wall after an oil spill from a Porsche.

McNish’s car required comprehensive repair and joined the track well back, drivers Frank Biela and Pierre Kaffar battled back to fifth as doctors had sidelined McNish. The Audi Japan/Team Goh R8 won, driven by Seiji Ara/Rinaldo Capello/Tom Kristensen with second going to the Audi/UK Veloqx R8 of Jamie Davis/Johnny Herbert/Guy Smith, third was Champion Racing’s R8 driven by JJ Lehto/Marco Werner/Emanuele Pirro.

2004 ALMS round victories were Sebring, Mid Ohio, Lime Rock, Infineon, Portland, Road America, Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca.

2005 marked the last appearance of the factory Audi R8s Le Mans.

The turbo diesel R10 would replace them in 2006.

Once again the Champion Racing R8 crewed by JJ Lehto/Tom Kristensen/Marco Werner, took the chequered flag, with two R8’s in third and fourth, the Pescarolo Judd second.

The win marked the sixth straight victory for Kristensen and his seventh overall, breaking Jacky Ickx’s record.

ALMS wins that year included Sebring, Road Atlanta, Lime Rock, Infineon, Portland, Road America and Road Atlanta.

(A Jocard)

Another generation of Audi endurance campaigner.

Mike Rockenfeller aboard an Audi R18 TDI V6 3.7 litre t/c diesel, Le Mans 2011.

He shared the car with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, DNF prang after completing 116 laps. Another R18 driven by Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer won .

(D Schnabel)

Technical Specifications…

Car designed by Appel/Pfadenhauer and others and constructed in Italy by Dallara.

Chassis a carbon-fibre composite and aluminium honeycomb monocoque with the 3596 cc 90 degree V8 fully stressed. Suspension comprised double wishbones and pushrods with horizontally mounted coil spring/gas shocks. Steering, a power assisted rack and pinion. Disc brakes were servo-assisted, ventilated and cross-drilled carbon ceramic

Engine Audi 90 degree all aluminium, DOHC, 4-valve 3586cc, Bosch-injected and twin turbo-charged V8 giving circa 610 bhp and above, 516 lbs/ft of torque. Gearbox, Ricardo 6-speed sequential.

Dimensions- 900 kg in weight, 4650 mm long, 1980 mm wide and 1080 mm high. Wheelbase 2730 mm, track not quoted

16 R8 sports-prototypes were built.


(D Schnabel)



The Dallara built and RKN built R8R left and R8C right at Le Mans in 1999.

The different aerodynamic approach of the 1999 Dallara built racer and the subsequent cars is marked.


(M Thompson)

Emanuele Pirro, R8 during the ALMS Silverstone 500 round on 13 May, he shared the car with Frank Biela to fourth place- winner the Jorg Muller/JJ Lehto BMW 6 litre V12 LMR.

The best placed Audi was the Capello/McNish car in third. Note the use, at this early stage of the season of the 1999 model R8.


Frank Biela, R8 in ‘Banana Bend’ heading towards the Adelaide Markets, December 2000. Car retired after completing 170 of the winners 225 laps.


Biela from McNish, Adelaide 2000, green car in the distance the Konrad Lola B2K Ford I think.


Australian V8 Supercar driver and Audi man Brad Jones practiced the McNish/Capello R8 in Adelaide when Allan suffered severe back pains after stepping out of his Kilt during a photo shoot! and was carted off to Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The Jones boy missed out in the race as AMcN was aok to compete but there was a further set-back on raceday when Capello boofed the R8 into the barrier on the outside of turn 6. It was repaired in time for the race.

Brad Jones Racing then ran the very successful Audi Super-Tourer program in Australia, the two A4’s were raced by Brad and Cameron McConville.

(D Schnabel)


The fascinating, intricate aero treatment of modern sports-racers never lacks interest- the nuances only complex wind-tunnel work can derive. Note exhausts, Audi logo (D Schnabel)


Getty Images photographers Clive Rose, Matt Turner, Mike Hewitt, Bryn Lennon, Michel Krakowski, Siperd van der Wal, Andre Durand, Mark Thompson, Alain Jocard, Jean-Francois Monier, Gerlach Delissen. LAT, Darin Schnabel

‘From Drawing Board to Chequered Flag’ Tony Southgate, article on the 2016 R18 in ‘Racecar Engineering’, Sotheby,,

(D Schnabel)



Postscript: The Audi Le Mans Era 1999-2016…

The enduring Le Mans marque is Porsche of course, the first Le Mans entry for them was the Veuillet/Mouche twentieth placed 356 Coupe in 1951.

The ‘Audi Era’ at works outright level- lets hope they return, spanned the years 1999-2016, Audi boss Rupert Staller announced Audi Sports withdrawal from the WEC during a presentation to 300 of the companies employees in October 2016, ‘As our production cars are becoming more electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to be more so.’

The announcement included a commitment to Formula E.

Technological Audi firsts from 1999 to 2016 include the first Le Mans win by a car powered with a diesel engine in 2006 and the first by a hybrid powertrain in 2012.

Allan McNish, Audi R15 Plus ahead of the Mucke/Primat/Fernandez Lola Aston Martin during the 2010 8 Hours of Le Castellet- McNish won in the cars debut race partnered by Dindo Capello (unattributed)

Its interesting to reflect upon the advance in technology over the eighteen year period concerned- BMW won in 1999 with a conventional mid-engined roadster powered by a production derived (S70) 6 litre fuel injected V12 whereas the 2016 third/fourth placed Audi R18 was a coupe powered by a 4 litre turbo-charged V6 engine driving the rear wheels and front axle mounted GKN/Williams motor generator unit which, combined, produced over 1000 bhp.

For the record, the non-Audi Le Mans wins were by the BMW V12 LMR 5990cc V12 in 1999, Bentley EXP Speed 8 3995cc V8 t/c in 2003, Peugeot 908 5500cc V12 diesel in 2009 and Porsche 919 Hybrid in 2015/2016- 2000cc V4 t/c 4WD.

The Audi R8 won in 2001/2 and in 2004/5- 3596cc V8 t/c. The R10 TDI won from 2006-2008, it was a 5499cc t/c diesel V12. The R15 Plus won in 2010- 5499cc V10 diesel t/c. In 2011 it was the turn of the R18 TDI 3700cc V6 t/c. From 2012 to 2014 the R18 e-tron quattro won- 3700cc V6 t/c in 2012/2013 and 4 litres in 2014.

In 2012 and 2013 Audi won the FIA World Endurance Championship- the Manufacturers World Championship.

(J-F Monier/Getty)

Timo Bernhard #1 Porsche 919 from Lucas Di Grassi Audi R18 during practice at Le Mans in June 2016. Below is the Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer R18 Hybrid during the race, spectacular in the low light.

(G Delissen)

The best way to represent modern sports racers is in the half light as one can then only half see them.

Don’t get me wrong, they are fast and I love the applied technology but it would be hard to start with a blank sheet of paper and create uglier objects.

Such is ‘progess’.


The Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer R18 in the harsh light of day.

‘As ugly as a hatful of arseholes’ is the colloquial Australian phrase which springs to mind, fast mind you, sadly the rules do not mandate aesthetics which are entirely subjective in any event…

Tailpiece: Kristen/Lehto/Werner, Audi R8 Sebring winners, March 2005…




Darryl Harvey’s 1934 Ford Rodster takes on the Graeme Bolwell Jaguar Healey Sports at Riverside, Melbourne circa 1963 (P Ryan)

Saturday mornings for me generally have a common pattern depending upon whether i am with The Italian Sheila in Toorak, of whom i wrote in a Cooper S context not so long ago, or sub-optimally flying solo at my place in Windsor, a couple of kays south of Melbourne’s CBD.

Windsor is an interesting place, me ‘an a few ancient Greek ladies are its oldest residents. Otherwise its populated by 25 year old perky bottomed hornbags who say ‘Like’ a lot and their 26 year old gym-toned studmeister boyfriends who tend not to say much at all. Therefore, visually, Chapel Street is easy on the eye.

And so it was on Saturday 2 February, flying solo i did my uber-early jogging lap of Albert Park where i have the ducks and a solo fisherman near Powerhouse to keep me company and then retired to Oppen, the Scandinavian inspired cafe joint (recommended) beside Windsor station where i settle down for an hour or two with faithful Surface Pro to knock together some shite for you lot.

Its quiet there until 10.30 when the hotties and boyfriends arrive for replenishment of their slender frames after the rigours of the night before. At this point i leave as i don’t cope well with twenty young female people saying ‘Like’ in ever more shrill voices…and most of these knuckles have had pwivate school education gauging by the expensive vowels which accompany the continuum of ‘Like’s.

So, i wandered back to the Peel Street Love-Shack and pondered the next move of the day.

And then it happened…

Conor Ryan arrived with ‘my’ car 30 minutes after his father called me about the wonderful chance to drive it. Elgaram perfectly happy in busy Melbourne morning summers traffic and makes a superb early morning run/track car. Three of my mates called me within two days of the Phillip Island meeting to find out if the car can be bought- it can’t! (M Bisset)

I got the Works Driver phone call i longed for from Enzo Ferrari back in 1979.

I guess all of us who have been offered such rides have the approaches made in different ways, often through a manager or intermediary, or perhaps their Dad if the opportunity is a Kart and the driver nine years of age. But in my case the Team Owner took the direct approach and called me, i was watering the petunias out back at the time.

Patrick Ryan is a mate and long time historic racer in Australia having been involved since the start of historic racing in the mid-seventies. His fleet includes various vintage Vauxhalls, a Brabham Ford FJ, the supercharged MG TA Spl he usually races, a recently acquired American Sprintcar which is giving the Group LB fields a serious fright, other stuff, and the Elgaram Jaguar.

‘I’ve entered the Elgaram at the Island, i want to encourage you back into racing, you’ve been out of it too long, how bout having a lash in the car as i now can’t make it?’ was the gist of the call. How could one say no to such an act of generous stupidity?

Before i even had the chance to email Pat my fifty page Driving Contract with all the usual carve-outs for my own sponsors names on the car, driving suit, fees, accommodation requirements, media appearance obligations and all the rest of it the Equipe Elgaram’s Chief Test Driver was on the phone to say he was in the area and did i want to drive the car?

This was code for ‘lets see if the fat prick will fit in the thing’ before we proceed too far.

Pat’s son Conor Ryan had been down the road doing a ‘you show me yours and i’ll show you mine’ session with Bob King in Brighton- Conor drove Bob’s Bugatti T35 (lucky prick) and Bob the Elgaram.

Twenty minutes after the call- forty minutes after i had first spoken to Pat, Conor pulled up out front of the shack, startling a couple of hotties in the process. Before too long we set off up Dandenong Road in the direction of Caulfield Racecourse amongst thick mid-morning traffic, not ideal, but that 10 km and back was the extent of my pre-Phillip Island familiarisation.

This was all very impressive, Equipe Elgaram was far more organised than Scuderia Shitfight, my own race organisation.

First impressions were good- comfy driving position, with pedals, gear lever and instruments all in the right spot- lucky as the seat is fixed, so it was going to be a case of ‘tough-titties’ otherwise. The Jaguar engine sounds great with lots of mid-range punch and more than loud enough to scare the shit out of the hornbags trundling along in their white 3 Series. ‘Like, did you see that thing babe? Like?’. Like yeah i did like, fuckin’ loud. No muffler the bastard. Like.’

The Moss gearbox promised to be more of a challenge, not really like the Mk9 Hewland with which i am far more familiar.

And therein lay the challenge of the thing.

Other than a few club events in my road Alfa’s and Lotus Elise down the decades all of my race experience has been in Formula Vee and Formula Fords with two modest test sessions in a Ralt RT4 F Pac. I am used to fancy, schmancy, lithe, nimble, responsive poof-house little single seaters not a big hairy front-engined, rear-drive sportscar- a mans car.

Rex Styles, Winton (P Ryan)


Twin SU fed, ‘cooking spec’ Jag XK 3.8 litre engine sits well back in the chassis (M Bisset)


Healey/Ford solid rear axle fitted with slippery diff, leaf springs, telescopic shocks, Panhard Rod and short radius rods locate the thing- very well. Brakes are drum and ahem. Stock Healey tank and in-line filters and Terry Cornelius’ structure to support the body (M Bisset)

We will come to a full history of the Elgaram a little later. In essence it was built by Frankston, Melbourne bayside dentist Bill Suhr in 1961 and is a clever amalgam of Austin Healey 100-4 chassis, suspension, brakes and fuel tank, Jaguar twin-carb, twin-cam, XK 3.8 litre six-cylinder engine, Moss 4-speed gearbox and an AH rear axle incorporating a Ford 9 inch diff inclusive of slippery function. The whole lot is clad in a very swoopy, sexy, curvaceous body made by Graeme Bolwell- the first fibreglass body made by the Bolwells, Graeme was the car’s second owner and Suhr his dentist.

The car passed through many hands before being acquired by Patrick in 1974. Eventually the car rose to the top of the family restoration and preparation tree, it first raced at Sandown in 2013.

My competition licence lapsed long ago, the process of getting the requisite piece of paper to run in the Regularity from CAMS was surprisingly easy. That combination of words- ‘CAMS and surrisingly easy’ are not normally found together in the same sentence.

Also straightforward was fitting into my race suit. I figured that would not necessarily be the case after a decade and a bit. Clearly in that regard The Italian Sheilas pre-christmas demand that i ‘lose some weight if you want to sleep with me’ was effective. Desperate people do desperate things of course.

Jean-Pierre Bisset, P Is March 2019, lithe lisson lines clear (Bollyblog)


During the week before the meeting i did Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney then back to Melbourne between Monday and Thursday flogging our corporate message to the poor employees so i was tad rooted by the time i pointed my Alfa in the direction of my sisters place at San Remo, a drop-kick from the Island later on Thursday night with my kit.

But hey, i’m a Works Driver, i’ve done no race prep of the car nor had to tow the little critter to the meeting, that task was undertaken by Conor, driving the other Ecurie Elgaram racer that weekend- a Daveric Formula Vee (Elfin NG copy) and John Noble- Chief Engineer, Race Tactitian, Driver Coach and regular driver of the Ecurie Elgaram fleet.

John is a couple of years older than me- we worked out over the weekend that we grew up 500 metres apart, attended the same Boroondara Primary School in North Balwyn- and i very clearly remember as a young kid his TC rocketing around the area in the mid-seventies- a car, delightfully, he still owns.

The three of us had a ball looking after each other, the cars ran like clockwork so there was plenty of time to take in the contents of the paddock and talk/meet near neighbours including John Medley, Dick Willis, Shane Bowden, Les Wright and many others including my cronies Andrew McCarthy, Peter and David Brennan, David Mottram, Simon Gardiner and his offsider Andrew, Jeremy Mantello, Adam Berryman, Tania Langsford, Peter Ellenbogen, Lynton Hemer, David Crabtree and many more. The fun guys are in the ‘right-bottom corner’ of the PI paddock all the same!

For me i had a big responsibility to the car and its owners- to absorb, taste and test it but most importantly bring it home in one piece for John Noble to drive back to Williamstown at the weekends completion. In that regard the Regularity is ideal as you set your own pace- i’ve done so many meetings at PI the circuit was no issue but in an unfamiliar car it rewards respect. Shit happens and when it does down there, at high speed.

Big beefy Healey/Ford rear axle, the fibreglass body is light but the engine/box are not. Sexy beast from every angle (M Bisset)


Big wood-rimmed wheel nice to use, cockpit full of patina, it looks the goods. Six-point harness and old seat which holds you nicely and is comfy. Smiths instruments natch! Handbrake is ‘fly-off’, pedals beautifully placed for toe/heel and shift for the Moss 4-speeder in ze right spot (M Bisset)


I got on with the Moss box in the end, sort of. Lucas ignition box with St Christopher medallion dangling. Note the fuses, ignition switch and starter button. Switch alongside starter is for the thematic fan which is needed in warmer weather, Up is on (M Bisset)

You can tell the car has been set up by experienced racers as soon as you sit in it. The controls are all well placed and clearly marked. The fixed seat is perfectly placed for those 6 foot tall- Pat, Conor…and me luckily.

To start the thing you switch the electric fuel pumps on- the up position, turn the ignition key, and, with a prod of the twin-SU’s, stab the starter button. Usually, the engine, in ‘cooking’ specification- and giving about 290 bhp on Ian Tate’s dyno the Monday before the meeting, grumbles into life and is easily kept alive with gentle applications of throttle.

Instruments comprise a Smiths chronometric tachometer which makes me go all funny because i love sitting and looking at those things and their ‘wonky movements’- most of my own cars have had them. Smiths also provide the water temperature and oil pressure gauges.

All three are easy to read with the tach mounted such that 5000 rpm is in the vertical position. Conor said ‘use 4800 thru the gears and whatever it will pull in top’- my imposed rev limits were 4800 on the way up and 5000 in top- i needed to feather the thing on both straights as it pulls harder than a busload of school-boys, all up weight is circa 900 Kg- not light but not heavy either, the Bolwell body slips through the salty, warm seaside air very nicely.

The six point harness holds you in place well- not like a single-seater of course, the seat is delightfully unrestored and you can saunter around the paddock no wux at all, the engine is not in ultimate spec in terms of tune, the clutch is light and easy to operate with well felt ‘bite’ points.

Balaclava and helmet on, switch on the electric fan once on the move- the up position, it felt strange to rumble away from the form-up area, down the pitlane and out onto the circuit sitting up in a car rather than ensconced down low within it. It is a totally different orientation to the road.

‘Use your imagination and the thing feels like you are sitting in and looking out of a Maserati 300S’ Pat Ryan said to me on that first phone call and so it is too. The big six makes a magnificent, deep-throated bellow, the shape of the dash and vista out front make you feel you are in a fifties sports-racer- which in conception is exactly what the car is despite an early sixties build.

I decided i didn’t love the Moss box in Dandenong Road but moderated that a bit at PI.

From first to third are changes made on a ‘one-two count’- you cannot beat the slow syncro whereas the third to top shift (direct) is as fast as your left hand will move. Bewdiful. The brake and throttle pedals are perfectly placed for heel ‘n toe operation- the top-third change is a soda. Third to second is much more of a challenge with a soft detent to that plane, which makes it way too easy to end up in limbo-land below reverse if you go too far left- a couple of angel rides into MG suggested using third and letting the big fat torque curve do its thing was the percentage play. Doing that also precludes an unsettling ‘snap’ shift from second to third before rolling onto the throttle for the left-hander outta MG- critical for a quick lap as those revs carry you onto the long PI straight.

Lesson learned. I’m sure when you are familiar with the box, its not an issue.

Up the rise before the dive into MG- Nigel Tait behind in Lolita BMC


The handling of the car is just superb, somewhat to my surprise.

At high speed it has stabilising mild understeer but out of third gear Honda and especially third gear Siberia you can get the thing into a yummy easily controllable delicate slide on exit. Whilst the XK engine- and Moss box are not exactly Twiggy in girth those lumps are mounted well back in the chassis as you can see in the photos- the driver also sits well back. It would be intriguing to know just what the front/rear weight ratio is. Whatever it is the thing works well- the ‘slippery’ allows the power to be put to the tarmac and panhard rod and ‘radius rods’ either side of the car locate the rear axle well.

At the front its wishbones/lever arm shockers- the turn in is pretty good albeit the amount of feel via the 14 inch wheel and worm and sector steering is not quite the same as a ten inch Momo and Van Diemen rack and pinion- but if you don’t use that inappropriate frame of reference and consider the road/track tyres with which the car is shod it turns in well driving it at the pace i was and driving it as a single-seater rather than chucking it about more the way the Ryans do. I noticed how much ‘slack’ in the steering there is in my first session on Friday but by the end of our event on Sunday wasn’t even noticing it- familiarity is the point here.

But the brakes. Faaaaark- wot brakes?

Man those drums- ‘keep an eye on your braking distances after the second lap’ Conor had warned me and he was not kidding. The levels of retardation are totally unlike anything i’ve ever run on a circuit- twice at Honda i went straight on an extra 20 metres or so and then turned back hard right onto the racing line having misjudged the distances required. The car pulls up straight- its just that it doesn’t pull up! If thats what a drum braked car of the period(s) is about i dips me hat to all of yez who race them. Conor and Pat do very fast times in that car, quite how they do them with those anchors is something for me to ponder.

The Elgaram Jag is a stunning piece of kit in terms of looks and performance. The acceleration to a six-cylinder basso-profundo symphony is marvellous, and the gearbox is great to use as long as you work to its delightfully ‘mechanical’ in feel, slow timing. The handling is precise, steering light but joisus i really didn’t like the brakes.

The beauty of the thing is its race and road use, as a 200 km early morning run car its hard to think of something more charismatic- my Elise would do it more clinically, the Elgaram with a good deal more brio and presence.

What a marvellous car! A tribute to both its builders and its restorers, which is rather a nice segue to the machines origins.

Jag Healey Special in its original form was as ugly as a hatful of arseholes as we crass Australians sometimes couch these things. Holden FJ Ute behind with an added on canopy- Graeme Bolwell up (Bolwell)

Design, Build, Construction and Evolution In Period…

Bill Suhr commenced the project in 1960, it would be interesting to know what his motorsport background was before he came upon the notion of a special incorporating the Jaguar XK engine as was relatively common at the time.

He acquired a brand new Austin Healey 100-4 chassis, (number unknown despite plenty of effort to find out- we surmise it was a spare part), suspension and wheels and fuel tank from the Frankston, Melbourne bayside dealership.

To that he added a Jaguar Mk7 engine built to ‘D Type specifications’ in terms of valves, camshafts and other items.

Chassis and suspension Healey BN1, tall Jag XK 3.8 litre six, period crossplies on skinny wires (P Ryan)


Workshop unknown, perhaps the car in-build (P Ryan)


Graeme Bolwell place unknown (Bolwell)

The body was built by Bobby Wragg a local plaster business owner in the Lotus 11 style, as a sideline. But with the radiator exposed it was ‘as ugly as a hatful…’ and not particularly aerodynamically efficient either.

Registered (Victoria) in Suhr’s name HHD-671 from March 1961 to March 1962 the car was entered as the ‘Jaguar Healey Sports’ at the old Mount Martha Hillclimb, Geelong Sprints in August 1961 (15.90 seconds) and at Phillip Island in December 1962 where Suhr won the over 3 litre sportscar scratch- amongst other events, in Victoria.

Graeme Bolwell with his mother, Lorna, looking on, Mount Martha Hillclimb 1961, note the headrest, how long did that last i wonder? (P Ryan)


JHS at the second Templestow Hillclimb meeting (R Styles)


The nose of the Bill Suhr Jaguar Healey Special alongside Murray Carter’s Carter Corvette at Geelong Sprints in 1961- Event 16- 15.9 seconds for Bill, 13.550 for Murray (Autosportsman)

Graeme Bolwell then bought the car, or rather part-exchanged it from Bill- his dentist.

Suhr took the MGA 1500 Graeme had been using as his daily driver to the Police Training College in St Kilda Road, Melbourne as a part trade.

Bolwell didn’t like the body so removed the original and built his own. He started from scratch making a centre bulkhead from tubular steel, covering it with aluminium. ‘He…formed the panel shape in plaster and chicken wire, smoothing it over before fibreglassing over it. This resulted in the rough side of the glass surface facing outward, which in turn had to be filled, smoothed and painted.’ The windscreen was the rear window of an FE Holden.

The front of the car was E Type’esque but unique- there was no mould so the car was strictly a one off. Graeme’s design flair was apparent right from the start, without doubt the car is visually arresting from any angle.

Graeme Bolwell in the driveway of his parents Frankston home (Bolwell)


(P Ryan)

Graeme Bolwell developed a quite beautiful body for the JHS, here pictured in what i assume is the driveway of the family home in Frankston. A small sign proclaiming ‘Bolwell Cars’ was attached to the letterbox of this outer suburban Bayside house in June 1962- Campbell Bolwell’s intentions were clear!

Look carefully on the door of the car above- those competition numbers are the same as those on the opening photograph at Riverside Dragway.

Its a pity we don’t have the date of that meeting, it’s safe to assume it was pretty soon after the body was fitted- there are still some finishing touches to come inclusive of a windscreen.


The car was said to be the fastest sporty in Frankston, Graham took it to the drags at Fishermens Bend (Riverside) and took home three trophies- 13.9 seconds for the standing quarter was his time but in the main the car was a roadie, his day to day transport.

The body for the Jaguar Healey Sports was the first such built by Bolwell, it is referred to in Bolwell circles as the ‘Bolwell Mk3 or 3B’- the third car built by the Bolwell brothers. Lets come back to that a little later on.

Graeme advertised it in the December 1963 issue of Australian Motor Sports, the ad is below. You will note Graeme identifies the car as ‘Jaguar-Healy (sic) Sports’.

Australian Motor Sports December 1963


Bob Minogue in the Elgaram Jag faces off against John Skipper Allard J3, Geelong Sprints August 1964- 15.770 for Bob and 16.280 for John. Lex Davison took FTD that day in his Brabham Climax with a time of 12.98 seconds with Earl Davey Milne doing a 14.06 in the Bugatti Chev Spl I wrote about a short time ago (Autosportsman)

Unable to sell it, he traded the car in at Dick Thurston’s Pitstop Motors, Elsternwick where Rex Syles, a salesman there at the time, bought it on 18 February 1964- Rex traded in his Fiat 1500.

Styles used the car as both daily transport and weekend racer at venues as diverse as Winton, Lakeland (first meeting) and Templestowe Hillclimb. Bob Minogue, later a racer of some note, his work at the wheel of an ex-Brown/Hamilton/Costanzo Lola T430 Chev F5000 springs to mind, was a friend of Styles- also drove car, during this period the car was entered as the Elgaram Jaguar- Elgaram being the Maragle Avenue, Brighton street-name spelt backwards- Bob Minogue’s locale at the time.

In fact Styles raced the car at the inaugural Lakeland meeting on 15 March as ‘Elgaram’ so the name change seems to have been effected pretty much from the start of his ownership. FTD on that hot Lakeland day went to a youthful Tim Schenken in the White 500, ‘the White entered, go-kart based 500 cc device’ in a time of 33.25 seconds.

‘Rex Styles comes over the top in the Elgaram’ is the April 1964 Australian Autosportsman Lakeland caption

Minogue did a 15.77 second pass at the Geelong Eastern Beach Sprints in August 1964. Styles decided to part with the much loved car when the engine developed an ominous engine knock after a Templestowe meeting.

The happy purchaser was WC Lucas of West Newport, like Pat Ryan and his family, a proprietor of a busline.

He was a very active competitor on both road and track including Templestowe, Rob Roy, Calder, Geelong (he did 17.320 secs in 1965) and the Riverside Dragway.

Bill eventually over-revved the car bigtime, the tell tale said 9800rpm, a number for the which the Lyons/Heynes/Hassan XK engine was not designed. As a consequence he rebuilt the car around a worked over Ford Customline Star model V8 to which he mated a Crossley pre-selector gearbox! I imagine the little beastie was rather front-heavy at this point- during this period the car was entered in race meetings as ‘Beast’.

The Crossley box did not work well so Lucas refitted the Jag transmission, whatever the shortcomings of the configuration the car was a rocket in a straight line, recording more than 135 mph, a number which must have given the Werribee coppers something to think about. Over the standing quarter, 115 mph was the number through the traps.

The standard Healey diff was not up to the pace, so was ‘locked’ which resulted in broken axles so a change to a coil-sprung Jag XK120 rear end was made with which the car handled ‘reasonably well’ with race Dunlops fitted to the front and road going radials on the rear!

Bill Lucas owned the car for around three years and sold it, unregistered, in April 1966.

The car in essence has spent most of its life in Melbourne’s Western suburbs from the time Lucas owned it until the present.

Bill Lucas in the Elgaram Jag ‘Jag Spl’ at Templestowe Hillclimb in September 1966 (S Dalton)

Altona’s Fred Woolski bought it and dragged it, perhaps at Calder, he fitted vertical exhaust stacks by cutting sections from the bonnet, fitted a Customline dash and then sold to the car to ‘anon unknown’ in Altona who removed the engine and ‘box to fit to his road Customline.

The cars dark ‘limbo-land’ between life and death has well and truly begun- its now a cheap ‘ole’ (not so old in reality at all) banger.

Alan Forsythe of Braybrook then entered the cars life, his brother fitted an FC Holden ‘Grey-Six’ and gearbox to use in the paddocks. The next owner’s contribution was to pull the brakes apart and lose said componentry.

Footscay’s Jim Evans planned to use it in club events but it never cleared the Western Suburbs back-blocks before he sold it to fund his twenty-first Birthday celebrations! I doubt the cash realised would have bought too many Melbourne Bitter long-necks!

Elgaram during Iain McPherson’s ownership, note the Holden six engine. It’s before Iain found the original bonnet hiding in someone’s shed and the original Lucas aero screen. Note the wire wheels on the front and disc wheels on the back, when they needed to replace the rear end with an XK120 Jag unit the disc wheels became necessary (I McPherson)

The Limbo-Land was over when Bulleen’s Iain McPherson bought it.

During the period after the car crossed back over the Yarra McPherson started the long process of restoration by locating the bonnet, by then missing.

McPherson is a Healey enthusiast, his plan was to fit an AH engine to the car and use it in club events. Finding a photo of the machine in a racing magazine changed that, with great detective work and perseverance he obtained Rex Syles address from CAMS and over a number of years identified and made contact with most of the cars owners- this (truncated by me) chronology of the car’s ownership is Iain’s wonderful work.

Eventually Iain decided to focus on other projects at which point the car trekked back over the Yarra to Pat Ryan in Williamstown. Patrick paid the princely sum of $150 for the bundle of bits on 24 May 1974.

The three photos below were taken at the Ryan Bros Buslines depot which was then in Brunel Street, Essendon/Aberfeldie. Pat has carefully laid out the components gathered by Iain McPherson over several years but the scale of the task is clear!

(P Ryan)


(P Ryan)


(P Ryan)


Patrick was bitten by the car bug bigtime early in his life and has amassed an eclectic collection of cars he bought because he liked them- not for their investment value. He is a doer, user and racer not a poseur or polisher- which is not to say the cars are shabby.

By the time the Elgaram arrived he was both looking after the family busline with all the responsibilities of an employer and starting a family. And their were other projects and a racer or two to prepare for the next historic meeting.

‘The problem was every time I did prioritise the thing and put it up on blocks I managed to do something to myself. Once I got Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the next time I came off my bike bigtime and broke my neck. Eventually I was talking to David Rapley about stuff, it turned out he didn’t have a customer project at the time so quick as a flash we bundled up all of the bits and pieces are trailered it up to his place at Bunyip.’ This was the early 2000’s.

‘I had long decided to restore it to its Elgaram Jaguar specs but when acquired most of the critical bits were missing including the Jaguar engine and Moss gearbox. These I got off Jag racer and repairer Bob How.’

‘Iain McPherson had retained the wire wheels and hubs. Steve Pyke and Jim McConville helped with all of the myriad Healey bits and pieces we needed. Mechanically David brought the project together by, as David modestly said, ‘doing a rolling chassis mock-up’ whilst the body was built by racer/panel man Terry Cornelius at his shop in Korowa up on the Murray.’

Terry picks up the story ‘David had worked the chassis over and managed to set the bits and pieces of existing bodywork in place on the rolling chassis with a few rudimentary supports which allowed me to get the picture…similar to the Sabrina Austin, repaired after an horrific trailer accident after Historic Winton in 1979, it was clear a new body was required.’

‘Like Sabrina, the Elgaram body had been built “inside out” and never employed a mould. First I had to create a buck. The buck is a replica of the finished article and requires a different approach inasmuch as when completed, its temporary supporting frame will by convenience, be different to the final supporting frame. The buck is then completed to its ultimate dimensions and principles in terms of styling, openings, hinge-ing and so on. The existing sections of bodywork were also used.’

‘When happy with the progress- effectively a shiny replica of the original body the buck was delivered, complete with frame, and an extended, more robust chassis whilst the mould was being created- to Maverick Boats of Corowa, the local boat manufacturing company. They expertly made a mould in fibreglass which neatly enveloped the buck. At the same time, a basic external frame I had created, was incorporated for extra strength.’

‘Next step was a body laid-up within the new mould, after which it was released and finally both body and mould were returned to my ‘shop. Then, finally, a mould existed for the Elgaram and subsequently the new body was attached to the chassis via a newly designed and executed minimal framework. The main job was then done with attention then turned to the hinged and ‘catched’ openings, and, finally, when all of that was satisfactory, the body was painted with an intentionally faded maroon top coat’

Patrick ‘We were blown away by the result- both the look of the car and also the patina of David’s work in the cockpit and fine detail- not that it was a surprise!’

‘It was finally finished four or five years ago, its first run an MSCA Sandown Club Day in which I drove it. It was a great day for a first time out, other than some wheel/body clearance issues the car ran well and has given Conor, John Noble and a few others an immense amount of pleasure since both on the road, in hillclimbs and on the circuits. Suhr knew what he was about, he concocted a clever assemblage of parts that was very quick in its day. And still is now!’ quipped Patrick.

Tony Lupton at Rob Roy Hillclimb shortly after the Elgaram’s return to life (unattributed)

What Is In a Name?…

This car has been called a variety of things over the years, which is of course the owners perogative.

Original constructor Bill Suhr designated his concoction of components the ‘Jaguar Healey Special’, a name used by Graeme Bolwell in period. During the Rex Styles era he entered the car as the Elgaram Jaguar. Bill Lucas entered it as Jaguar Special, Beast or The Beast. Who knows what the boys from the west called it in their short periods of ownership.

The Bolwell folk refer to it either as the Bolwell Mk3 or Mk3B, it is appropriate that the car be referred to as one of the continuum of cars the Bolwell brothers evolved through on the way to becoming manufacturers in their own right.

But the car was never referred to as Bolwell Mk3 or Mk3B ‘in period’ by Graeme including at the time of its sale.

Clearly though, by the time of the Bolwell Mk4, launched on or about April 1964, the Bolwells had counted back through their previous projects to arrive at Mk4- their first ‘bespoke’ machine.

Correctly, Campbell Bolwell figured in similar fashion to ACB Chapman that the punters would be happier to buy a car off somebody who had been in the game for a while and Mk4 had better connotions of that than Mk1!

Bolwell Mk4 Sports in the Mordialloc suburb close to the factory at a guess, circa 1964 (Bolwell)


John Noble swung the Elgaram past the Bolwell display of 60 cars at the end of the 2019 Phillip Island Historic meeting, Campbell Bolwell made a beeline for the car, here he is, clearly enjoying a drive in his dentist- and brothers old car on the roads adjoining the circuit (J Noble)


Bolwell Mk4 GT Coupe circa- circa 1964 (Bolwell)

In fact, in 1974 when a youthful Pat Ryan excitedly visited the Mordialloc factory in his Beetle to tell the Bolwells about his find they were dismissive of it and couldn’t get Pat out the door quickly enough.

Times and attitudes change of course.

These days the Elgaram Jaguar- the specific era and specification of the car to which Pat restored the machine, is welcomed by Bolwell folk, indeed there was a steady stream of very knowledgeable marque enthusiasts taking pictures of the car and talking about it over the Phillip Island weekend.

For the absence of doubt, as the lawyers are want to say, in period the car was never called a Bolwell by Messrs Suhr, Styles, Lucas, Woolski, Forsythe, Evans, McPherson or Bolwell. It was not, is not and never was referred to as the Bolwell Mk3 or Mk3B until marketing convenience deemed it so.

(P Ryan)


The Elgaram’s engine was donated by a Mark 7 Jag- engine number 3576, chassis number 710876, the car was first registered (Victoria) WY-981 on 2 April 1952.

Bill Suhr first registered the Jaguar Healey Special (Victoria) HHD-671 on 8 March 1961.

(P Ryan)


(M Bisset)


M Bisset)


JHS cockpit, note wood-rimmed wheel and Holden rear window used as windscreen (P Ryan)


(M Bisset)


(M Bisset)


(P Ryan)


(M Bisset)


(M Bisset)




Patrick Ryan Collection, the history of the ownership chronology of the car was carefully researched and documented bu Iain McPherson, AHR- Australian Hot Rodder Number One, Bolwell Company, Bolwell Car Club, Peter Ellenbogen, Anna McConnell

Tailpiece: Graeme Bolwell, Jaguar Healey Sports, Riverside Dragway, Fishermans Bend circa 1963…


I just love this photograph of Graeme Bolwell not long after the construction of the JHS’ new set of clothes- no doubt he was in touch with his feminine side but the car was never pink, the hue is in the developing of the slide not the colour in actuality.

How sweet it is, whilst clearly influenced by the Jag E Type it is derivative of the period but does have a beautiful distinctive cohesiveness all of its own.

Quite how Pat happened upon ‘Australian Hot Rodder’ Number One to find this photo- both the pink car and driver are not identified in the text of the magazine, I do not know. The publication has a brief history about the commencement of Drag Racing from the nascent Australian Hot Rodding scene, which is interesting.

Organised, but not legal drag racing started in Australia on a strip of then very quiet, out of the way, Doherty’s Road at the back of Altona North not far from Geelong Road in Melbourne’s west in early 1957.

The Southern Hot Rod Club, founded in the late, lamented St Moritz ice skating rink in St Kilda- it’s where the boys hung out, were a highly organised lot inclusive of timers with CAMS ‘spoon type’ starter switches.

In the civilised manner of the day, the car and bike guys cooperated, the bike racers who used an intersecting road to test their machines alternated with the drag racers 30 minutes about- and the police, who were aware of the activities turned a blind eye. ‘For Christ’s sake be careful won’t you. You’re on a public road’ one member of the force is reputed to have said having stumbled upon the activities about twelve months after they commenced.

Things became a tad more kosher with the move to Pakenham Airstrip during 1958 but by 1961 the pressures of increased rent, CAMS sticking their noses in and more regular use by parachutists of the strip meant a new home had to be found.

An unused airstrip at Fishermans Bend provided the solution.

A policeman who was a SHRC member floated the use of the venue with the Chief Commissioner of Police and the path was smoothed by him with the Port Melbourne Council, who had jurisdictional responsibilities- to use the old runway for ‘speed trials’ on a non-profit basis under police guidance.

And so the sport of drag racing commenced in Australia at ‘Riverside’.

All of which is wonderful but I wonder what the date of the Riverside meeting pictured is?!




Donald Healey in his supercharged Austin Healey 100S ‘Streamliner’ at Bonneville in November 1954…

Late in 1954 Healey’s introduced the 100S, its power output was up to 132 bhp over the standard 100’s 90 bhp. A four speed gearbox was fitted, suspension modified and Dunlop disc brakes installed to all four corners of the attractive car. Reshaped panels in aluminium both made the car lighter and slipperier.

What better way to promote sales of the marque generally and of the 100S specifically than a further spot of record breaking?- hence the construction of the Shorrock supercharged car with its swoopy body designed by Gerry Coker.

The top speed the car achieved in Donald Healey’s hands was 192.6 mph, whilst on the Bonneville Ten Mile Circuit Carroll Shelby took further records including the 25-200 kilometres plus the one hour mark at 157.92 mph.

The Healey team considered building a special car but time did not permit so a standard BN1 body/chassis unit was used to which was added a new nose and tail and bubble-type perspex cockpit cover. The workmanship of the snout and body were reported as being exemplary.

The mods were determined after wind tunnel tests on a scale model by Sir WG Armstrong of Whitworth Aircraft Ltd. ‘The Motor’ reported that the completed car was later tested in Austin’s full-scale ‘tunnel- the technician’s estimate of the machines top speed was only 0.6 mph shot of Healey’s best effort. Who needs computers?!

In terms of the engine, prepared by Dr JH Weaving of BMC Gas Turbine Research, the 100S had in standard form a nitrided crank running in trimetal bearings and ‘the special cylinder head with enlarged valves and special porting which are the outstanding features of the new unit’.

Changes from the standard S engine included lapping the head to the block to avoid head gasket problems, the water flow also was slightly modified. A stock Shorrock C250B supercharger was coupled direct to the nose of the crank by two ‘Layrub’ couplings- maximum boost was about 8 psi. A special radiator core was used and a Tecalemit combined oil filter/cooler was incorporated. The engine produced 224 bhp @ 4500 rpm whereas the standard 100S was quoted at 132 bhp @ 4700 rpm.

The Motor advised a ‘special’ five speed gearbox was fitted with overdrive which gave a top gear ratio of 2.2:1 with the standard 16 inch Dunlop disc wheels fitted.

So slippery was the Streamliner that it ran for six miles (!) when the engine was cut at 180 mph.

Safety features included an onboard Graviner fire extinguisher system which was directed at both the engine bay and boot where the 25 gallon fuel tank was located- both impact and driver operated switches were installed. A ‘crash arch’ was behind the driver, two levers allowed the Perspex screen to be jettisoned, a switch in the lubrication system shut off the fuel supply if oil pressure fell below a set level. Donald found the standard steering wheel interfered with his vision so a rectangular one was made.

When completed the Streamliner was tested at an airfield circuit by Geoffrey Healey to speeds of about 130 mph before shipment to the US.

Healey did the straight line runs at Bonneville raising the International Class D Records for 5 Km 182.2 mph, 5 miles 183.87 mph, 10 Km 183.8 mph and 10 miles 181 mph. The 192.6 mph measured kilometre time was an American national record but not a world mark- it was held by a Mercedes at 248.3 mph, a time set by Rudy Caracciola in 1939 on the eve of the War. The Healey on one run did better 200 mph.

Carroll Shelby then took over the wheel on the 10 mile circle course and set an International Class D Record for the hour at 156.7 mph.

Donald Healey achieved the 200 mph mark he sought in 1956 using the same BN1 Streamliner chassis (SPL227B) in which he was successful in 1954 but fitted with a supercharged C-Series engine which in normally aspirated form was soon to be fitted to the new 100-6.

Bill Leyland modified the engine at Austin’s to produce 292 bhp @ 5000 rpm. Wind tunnel work and the advice of Dr John Weaving resulted in the removal of the cars tail-fin, Geoff Healey thought this ruined the look of the car but stability was aided- Austin engineers estimated a top speed of 217 mph.



Preparation of the Streamliner six in August 1956 (

The removal of the tail fin is interesting as it was commented favourably upon in ‘The Motor’ report of the 1954 successes on the 10 Mile course ‘The car proved very stable, which was indeed fortunate, for conditions were by no means ideal, gusts of wind up to 30 mph sweeping across the Salt Flats.’

‘Moreover owing to the complete absence of trees or any other vegetation, the driver receives no advance warning of a gust before it strikes the car. The tail fin proved of real value in such circumstances, the general opinion being that it would even have been more helpful if it had been made larger.’

Whatever the case, the car ran sans tail-fin in 1956.

Healey tested the car at Bonneville on 9 August and after repairing a sheared supercharger drive took it out on 21 August, his two way average speed was 201.10 mph, Donald was the nineteenth person to exceed 200 mph.

Roy Jackson-Moore in the BN2 six-cylinder 100-6 ‘Endurance Car’ (

The Healey Team Bonneville 1956 trip included another very sexy machine.

‘The Endurance Car’ was a long-nosed BN2 fitted with a six-port head to which three Weber 40DCOE carburettors were attached.

The Eddie Maher prepared, standard capacity 2639 cc, OHV six cylinder engine produced 164 bhp @ 5500 rpm burning a mix of one third each methanol, benzole and petrol using a compression ratio of 10.2:1.

The very swoopy, curvaceous body was designed and constructed by Jensen Cars- a mighty fine job they did too.

Testing of this car on 9 August revealed vapour lock problems which were solved and continued on the 14th where a misfire diagnosed as due to lack of compression on #1 cylinder due to a poorly seated inlet valve occurred.

All of the valves were replaced but it was discovered that the water passages did not line up. The gasket was predicted to have a short life so runs on the Ten Mile Circuit started early in the cool of the day, the driving chores shared by Carroll Shelby and Roy Jackson-Moore.

The car kept going for six hours before the gasket failed, long enough to capture International Class D records for 200 miles, 500 Km, 500 miles, 1000 Km, 3 hours and 6 hours at speeds of between 145.96 mph (6 hours) and 153.14 mph (500 miles).

The endurance car was Healey Blue and White and featured the oval grille and horizontal bars that were soon introduced on the 100-Six in September 1956, Healey being a believer on the win on Sunday sell on Monday dictum…

Carroll Shelby, Roy Jackson-Moore and Donald Healey beside the Endurance Car with the Streamliner in supercharged six-cylinder guise behind at Bonneville immediately after the successful record attempts in August 1956.

Streamliner, Bonneville, August 1956 (unattributed)



Carroll Shelby beside the BN1 100-6 modified engine Endurance Car in August 1956. Isn’t it just a lovely looking thing sans bumpers with head-fairing and the Dunlop disc wheels?




Stirling Moss at the wheel of the BN1 100-6 modified engine Endurance Car during practice over the 1956 Nassau Speed week. He tested the car, but did not race it, winning the Nassau Trophy in a Maserati 300S.


Arcane and Irrelevant…

I’d never heard of a Layrub Joint so I figure some of you other non-engineering types may be equivalently ignorant as my good self.

This little jobbie, originally developed by the Laycock Company, is a number of moulded rubber blocks with specially shaped cavities at their ends sandwiched between two steel pressings. Each shaft is connected by means of a fork to alternate rubber blocks.

The construction of the device allows the rubber blocks to deform and drive to be transmitted through a small angle, small axial and angular movements for shaft length alteration can be accommodated as well as torsional damping.

So, there you have it!


Getty Images,, ‘The Motor’ November 1954, ‘Hillier’s Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology’ Victor Hillier and Peter Coombes

Tailpiece: Donald Healey, AH 100S Streamliner November 1954…

You can just see the perspex screen over Healey’s head as he drives beside the line.


(B Williamson)

The drivers of the 20 March 1954, Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Sports Car Race make for their cars…

Event Four on the program was of 12 laps, the journey started at 1.45 pm and was won by Melbourne transport businessman, Kevin Neal- the dude in the sports-jacket aboard the number 61 Jaguar XK120, his main competition according to Terry McGrath, was Harry Firth is his supercharged MG TC Spl.

From the front is the #66 GC Newton XK120, #61 car of Neal, the 3 litre Meadows engined Lea Francis of J Robinson, then the big 3 litre Bentley owned by Haig Hurst- you can just see car #55, the RH Reynolds Morgan Plus 4.

Other notables entered include Graeme Hoinville, MG TC (which he still owns), John  Sawyer, of later Bob Jane Racing fame in a K3 MG, Earl Davey-Milne in a Fraser Nash (which he still owns), Frank Porter, a later prominent touring car racer well into the late seventies, and P McKenna in the 1948 AGP winning BMW 328- you can see that light coloured car second in line behind the dark Jag, both still not off the start-line.

(T McGrath)

Its Neal away with a blinder of a start in his supercharged Jag from the Reynolds Morgan whereas the bulk of the field seems afflicted with problems caused by the ‘Prince of Darkness’- Lucas Electrics, or is that a tad unfair?

The light coloured car behind the Morgan is the RG Davis MG TC and the dark coloured one at the very back of the cars on-circuit is the Hoinville TC.

Click here for an article on Fishermans Bend;

Neal progressed into some pretty serious motor cars including a Cooper T23 Bristol and the ex-Reg Hunt Maserati A6GCM with which he contested the 1956 AGP held not too far away in Albert Park. Click here;


Bob Williamson and Terry McGrath Collections, Stephen Dalton for the car identifications