Archive for the ‘Sports Racers’ Category

(unattributed)

Frank Matich and David Finch aboard two wonderful D Types at Longford in 1960…

‘XKD526’ and ‘XKD520’ are both cars I have written about before but these photographs were too good to lose by just dropping them into the existing articles ‘unannounced’.

Its the 1960 meeting- both cars contested the Australian Tourist Trophy won by Derek Jolly’s 2 litre Lotus 15 Climax FPF. I can’t work out what is happening here, probably a practice session. If it was a Formula Libre race being gridded Austin Miller’s vivid yellow Cooper T51 Climax would be up-front- checkout the article about the TT; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/17/1960-australian-tourist-trophy/, here about the Bill Pitt’s career and the D Type;

https://primotipo.com/2016/03/18/lowood-courier-mail-tt-1957-jaguar-d-type-xkd526-and-bill-pitt/

and here about the Stillwell/Gardner/Finch D Type- photo value only really; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/01/mount-druitt-1955-brabham-gardner-and-others/

(unattributed)

Here in the paddock you can see the Leaton Motors livery of Frank’s car really clearly- that’s Aussie’s Cooper to the right and a Maserati 250F behind. Its Arnold Glass’ car, he was fourth in the Longford Trophy behind the three Cooper T51’s of Brabham, Mildren and Stillwell. A wonderful, relaxed, bucolic Longford scene. Another link, about this meeting; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

‘XKD526’ was acquired by the Brisbane and Northern Territory Jaguar dealer, Westco Motors, owned by Cyril and Geordie Anderson, in a partnership of three together with Bill Pitt and Charlie Swinburn- Charlie died of cancer a couple of years after the car arrived it so it became a partnership of two.

These days the Great Western Corporation is a huge listed enterprise involved in agriculture, trucking, property, mining and other activities. When Cyril Anderson established the business in Toowoomba in 1934 he started with a two-ton truck but expanded rapidly, locally and nationally. By 1953 when they formed Westco Motors Cyril and Geordie ran a large successful business, no doubt the D Type was for them a modest investment but one which would assist to build the Jaguar brand and their market position rapidly.

The car arrived in late 1955, exclusively raced for some years by Bill Pitt, Westco’s Service Manager-Geordie Anderson had a few drives, and then successfully by Frank Matich and Doug Chivas during the Leaton’s ownership.

(unattributed)

Pitt crashed it badly at Albert Park in 1956, at Jaguar Corner, of all places.

The photo above is the start of the 2 December ‘Argus Trophy’ 25 mile sportscar race during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics meeting, the AGP was the feature race of a two-weekend carnival and was won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 250F on 2 December.

He was similarly dominant in his Officine Maserati 300S sportscar winning the 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy during the 25 November weekend. Moss won from his teammate, Jean Behra, Ken Wharton’s Ferrari Monza 750 and Pitt’s D Type- a great result for the Queenslander as first local home. This meeting is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp

and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/29/1956-australian-tourist-trophy-albert-park/

Back to the photograph above.

Bib Stillwell is in ‘XKD520’ on the left with Jack Brabham’s partially obscured Cooper Bobtail Climax far left, and Pitt aboard ‘XKD526’ on the right. To the far right is an Aston DB3S, Tom Sulman perhaps.

This is the race in which Pitt came unstuck. In an eventful first lap the car tripped over the stone gutter and rolled- Bill was lucky to survive let alone walk away unscratched after the machine ended up on its back.

In all of the mess- haybales and flattened bodywork, the marshals expected to find him dead in the car, instead he was flicked out as the car went over and landed- safely on the other side of the bales. Lucky boy. The car was quickly repaired and raced on.

Brabham won from Stillwell’s D Type and Bill Patterson’s Cooper Bobtail Climax.

(unattributed)

Lets not forget Bib’s ‘XKD520’ loitering in the expenses of Albert Park during the same meeting.

Superb, rare colour shot of a beautifully prepared and presented car as all Bib’s machines were. Was Gerry Brown wielding the spanners in Stillwell’s Cotham Road Kew HQ at that stage?

(M Ireland)

Bloke Magnet.

Here ‘XKD526’ is performing a valuable function as the centrepiece of Westco’s 1956 Brisbane Motor Show stand and attracting the punters to Jaguar’s more routine roadies!

(Anderson Family)

 

(unattributed)

 

(B Hickson)

The car was rebuilt and then sprayed a lovely gold or bronze!

A great idea to make the car stand out perhaps- the ‘error’ was quickly rectified with a nice shade of British Racing Green replacing the gold hue between Albert Park 1957 and Albert Park 1958!

The first shot is of Bill in the Lowood pits, he has Crocodile Dundee alongside, the only thing Mick is missing is the big knife.

The one below is the beastie being fuelled in the Albert Park surrounds in March 1957.

Pitt was second in the Victorian Tourist Trophy again behind Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S that weekend. He also contested the F Libre Victorian Trophy Gold Star round finishing sixth and first of the sportscars home- Lex Davison won in his Ferrari 500/750.

(unattributed)

Bill returned to Albert Park year after year including the Formula Libre 100 mile Melbourne Grand Prix carnival held in November 1958.

In the shot above he is negotiating the same corner in which he tripped over in 1956 leading none other than race-winner Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre- Jack Brabham finished second to Moss in a similar car. Bill placed fifth two laps adrift of Moss, then came Brabham, Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S and Bib Stillwell’s Maserati 250F.

The D worked hard over that meetings two weekends, he was third in the 100 mile Victorian Tourist Trophy behind Whiteford’s 300S and Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 Jaguar and third again in the 25 mile sports car scratch behind Whiteford’s superb 300S with Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax second.

(unattributed)

A couple of Mount Panorama photos circa 1958-1959.

The one above is probably of the 1958 Australian Tourist Trophy race or heat- Pitt on the outside is about to pass ‘Gelignite Jack’ Murray in ‘XKD532′ DNF, then the third placed Cooper T38 Jaguar of Ron Phillips follows and then Charlie Whatmore’s Lotus 11 Climax. See the #16 Lotus 15 raced by Derek Jolly to second place behind the winner, David McKay’s Aston Martin DB3S. Click here for a piece on his DB3S’; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

Jaguar Magazine recorded that ‘Bill Pitt wrote to Lofty England in 1956 informing the Jaguar guru that the D Type had no brakes at the end of the notorious Conrod Straight because the D Type experienced pad ‘knock off’. Jaguar had never heard of that problem before, and the bottom of Mount Panorama would not be a place to learn about it for the first time’ the magazine pointed out wryly!

(unattributed)

Same part of Mount Panorama but this time Pitt is chasing Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev- the big booming monster was second in the AGP at Bathurst in October 1958, and would well and truly have had the legs to best the D Type.

This is probably during the Bathurst 100 F Libre race won by Whitefords 300S from Arnold Glass’ Ferrari Super Squalo, which popped an engine on the last lap, then came Bill in a splendid third. Seeliger started from the middle of the front row but didn’t finish having ‘…spun the brakeless Maybach to an eye-popping halt in the Pit Corner escape road’ at half distance wrote John Medley.

(J Psaros)

 

Bobtail Cooper ?, Whatmore Lotus 11 Climax, shapely ? and the nose of FM’s Matich (unattributed)

 

(J Psaros)

I have written extensively about the great Frank Matich a number of times, rather than repeat myself perhaps the most relevant article is this one in terms of his sportscar rise and rise is this one; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Be in no doubt the Leaton support was key to taking him forward from C to D Type Jaguars and then the Lotus 15 Climax- that car powered by a 2.5 Climax FPF showed he was an outright F Libre contender if it were ever in doubt. The group of XKD526 photographs here are all at Lowood probably during the Gold Star round in August 1959.

(unattributed)

One of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport’s less successful rule changes was to introduce Appendix K ‘GT Racing’ to encourage road going GT’s in 1960. This article covers the salient points; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/19/forever-young/

Because grids were skinny they encouraged/turned a blind eye to sports-racers ‘meeting the regulations’ as long as they were fitted with a lid. And so we had David McKay’s Lola Mk 1, Bob Jane’s Maserati 300S and other exotica including ‘XKD526’ fitted with ‘fastbacks’ to allow them to continue to race.

The photos above and below are at Sandowns first meeting in 1962, the conversion created the only hardtop D Type was quite neat looking. I didn’t say beautiful, just neat or functional!

Barry Topen owned the car by then and crashed it quite heavily into the horse railings surrounding the circuit.

It was soon repaired, sold to Keith Russell and then acquired by Keith Berryman in the early sixties- the car was with him ‘forever’ before finally leaving our shores five or so years ago.

(B Anderson)

Berryman, or is it Keith Russell, below at Warwick Farm in the mid sixties with the car still looking great albeit with a set of rather wiiide alloy wheels and the rear guards flared to suit. It does have a bit of the Sunset Boulevards about it gussied up like this.

(unattributed)

Speaking of the guards reminds me of an incident in the Australian Grand Prix paddock a few years back, not long before the cars sale and final departure from our shores.

Noted British artisan and driver Rod Jolley was in Australia that summer racing, i think, a Cooper T51 at Phillip Island and the Albert Park AGP historic double.

Somehow, unloading XKD526 in the Albert Park paddock from its trailer after its long haul from Stockinbingal- Keith Berryman was displaying the car and participating in the on-circuit historic events, a front guard was damaged and a wheel was fouling the guard.

Who to approach for the required bit of impromptu panel beating? Rod Jolley of course. The look of sheer terror on Keith’s face as Jolley set to work on his lovely bit of aluminium with controlled brio was awful to watch- it felt like an arm was being hacked off…

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

Bill Pitt up whilst the car was new and road registered. Uncertain as to the circuit-intrigued to know- such handsome beasts of warfare aren’t they- D Types define ‘compound curvature’.

(J Psaros)

On the side of the main straight at Lowood- is that a youthful Frank Matich at left eyeing off his future mount? Who are the other dudes i wonder

( J Psaros)

‘Move to the back of the bus matey…’

The Leaton’s Bedford bus at Lowood. The nose to the far left is the Westco Mk7 Jag which finished seventh outright in the 1957 Round Australia Trial behind six VW Beetles. Jaguar Magazine assert that Pitt claimed it as his greatest competition triumph.

The car later became a tow-car for some of the racers inclusive of the D and works built Mk1 Pitt drove to victory in the 1961 one race Australian Touring Car Championship at Lowood.

Both the Mk7 and ‘Big Nose’ The Bus are long gone, sadly.

Credits…

Anderson Family Collection, Jaguar Magazine, Jock Psaros, Malcolm Ireland, Barry Anderson, Barry Hickson, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park’ Barry Green

Tailpiece: ‘Geordie Anderson’ in her new D Type,’XKD526’…

(Anderson)

Doris ‘Geordie’ Anderson aboard the new D Type she co-owned with Bill Pitt and Charlie Swinburn. Its said that she was the only serious lady racer of a D Type at the time anywhere in the world.

Her racing CV included a win in the Mount Druitt 24 Hour Race in a Jaguar XK120 FHC- we shall come back to Geordie and her exploits ina month or so…

Finito…

 

 

(J Wright)

The grid for the Australian GT Championship at Lakeside, Queensland on 8 July 1962…

Bill Pitt, Jaguar 3.4 alongside John French in the Centaur Waggott/Holden, then the two Lotus Elites of Tony Osborne #16 and #7 Brian Foley. On the row behind is #21 Les Howard, Austin Healey Sprite Ford-Cosworth, in the middle the partially obscured #31 Porsche 356 of Tony Basile and on the left the white #30 Renault Floride of Terry Kratzmann .

The light coloured Sprite further back is #51 Sib Petralia, #60 Paul Fallu, Karmann Ghia whilst the #4 Wolseley has long time competitor Ken Peters at the wheel. The unmistakable outline of the grey Renault Dauphine is #6 M Hunt. Dennis Geary #22, was also entered in the HWM Jaguar- now in two-seat Coupe form but with the very same chassis and mechanicals of the car raced by Lex Davison to win the 1954 Australian Grand Prix, ‘just down the road’ at Southport on the Gold Coast.

The 50 lap 75 mile race was won in 62:6.06 minutes/seconds by French from Basile, Pitt, Howard then came Foley. Sib Petralia won the under 1 litre class, Basile the 1000-1600cc, French the 1600-2600cc and Pitt the 2600cc class and over.

The race was the third Australian GT Championship for Appendix K cars- the first was held at Bathurst during the October 1960 meeting and won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus Elite, the 1961 event was at Warwick Farm in July- Frank Matich won in his Jaguar D Type.

The CAMS relaxed attitude to the requirements of App K was that cars such as the Matich D, Bob Jane Maserati 300S, David McKay Lola Mk1 Climax and many other sports-racers were allowed to run to fill scanty grids, with hardtops cobbled together for the purpose.

Which rather negated the intent of the CAMS regulatory changes, lets not go down that path.

The first photograph had me tossed- I got Pitt and French but not the locale at all, i’ve never been to Lakeside and some earthworks after the first several years changed the look of the place a bit in any event.

So, many thanks for the detective work of regular collaborator Stephen Dalton and Glenn Moulds- the wise owls of The Nostalgia Forum can usually solve these knotty Who, What, Where and When problems.

Mind you, we are still cogitating in relation to the shot below, said to be Lakeside too.

If there are some Queenslanders out there who can confirm the whereabouts of the scene below that would be a bonus. My suggestion that its on the Jindabyne-Charlottes Pass road near Charlottes in the NSW Snowies so far has little support.

(J Wright)

Most of these photographs were popped up on the Shannons Insurance website by Dr John Wright a couple of years ago but only three were identified- we on primotipo…backed by the research horsepower of the TNF Crew are happy to oblige.

Lakeside was built on farm land purchased by Geoffrey Sidney Sakzewski at Petrie 30km north of Brisbane in 1957.

The first open race meeting was held on 19 March 1961- the landlord was keen to compete so pressed into service his wife’s  four door, light-green pillarless Plymouth Belvedere- here he is chasing the Jeremiah driven Holden FE. Rob Bartholomaeus advises the race was the Queensland Touring Car Championship- Bill Pitt is on his way to winning aboard his 3.4 Jaguar up the road- these two are scrapping for second, a battle won by the Jeremiah.

(J Wright)

 

Pondering and working on the remodelled Lakeside layout in 1965 before the 1966 AGP- David Harding, Ken Peters and Sid at right (unattributed)

 

(J Wright)

The profile of car and the helmet above will be familiar to most of you, its Hill G on his 1963 Australasian Tour during which he raced the Ferguson P99 Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF.

The rest of the hotshots ran 2.7 Climaxes in their Coopers, i’ve always thought it interesting to ponder how Graham would have gone with a bigger engine under the cars shapely bonnet.

Mind you, his only race win on the tour was a heat at Lakeside- its looks a tad soggy so I would not be surprised if Graham is on the way to a Saturday victory aboard this magnificent bit of engineering.

I waxed lyrical a while back about it, click here; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/30/ferguson-p99-climax-graham-hill-australian-grand-prix-1963/

(J Wright)

The poor old Kombi is groaning under the weight of so many champions in one place- 1200cc this model? and now highly sought after of course.

She’s a bit grainy but my best guess- and happy to hear from you, goes a bit like this from left to right- Frank Gardner in the white helmet looking away at the kangaroos, dunno holding the helmet, Arnold Glass in the darker blue race suit, Bruce McLaren holding the light silver helmet, short-sleeved fella probably Greg Cusack, Bib Stillwell and Graham Hill. ‘Blondie-locks’ behind is John Youl perhaps. Do get in touch with your bids.

The 1963 Lakeside International was won by John Surtees, Lola Mk4A from Hill’s Ferguson P99 and Bib Stillwell’s Brabham BT4- Climaxes all.

Back in the days of yore, until 1969, the Australian Touring Car Championship was decided over one race- the honour to host the event was awarded to Lakeside in 1964- race day was 26 July.

Lakeside’s proximity to Brisbane ensured a good crowd saw a contest waged between a huge variety of cars with Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan winning the first of his ATCC’s aboard a Ford Cortina GT from Norm Beechey, Holden EH S4, Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 4.1, the Brian Foley and Peter Manton Morris Cooper S’, Glynn Scott’s Cortina GT and Brian Muir’s EH S4.

A series of heats, split into engine capacity classes determined the grid- Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina was on pole from Jane, Muir, Beechey and Manton.

Muir, Jane and Beechey led initially from Geoghegan and McKeown- Jim moved forward to second behind Muir- leadership of the race by Muir (below) was the first time a Holden had led an ATCC event- it would not be the last! Brian went off to fame and good fortune in Europe not so long after this.

(J Wright)

McKeown took the lead from Brian Muir on lap 7 with Beechey and Geoghegan battling for fourth. Bob Jane moved to second on lap 11 and then first when McKeown made an error and dropped to third behind Muir- at about the same time Warren Weldon locked a brake on lap 15, hit the bank and rolled onto his side a little bit behind Clem Smith who had clobbered the same bit of Queensland on lap 2, rendering his Valiant hors de combat.

The obstacles were raced around back in them days…Clem Smith’s very precarious Valiant R Type, and behind him Warren Weldon’s Holden 48-215 on its side. In the photo below you can see the blue McKeown Lotus Cortina partially obscured by the marshal. Passing Cortinas in both shots (J Wright)

 

(J Wright)

 

Done this one to death- Smith, McKeown and Weldon in line astern (unattributed)

Jane’s lead over Muir was up to 100 metres before clutch problems intervened circa lap 31- Muir then led from Pete and Norm who both passed Bob Jane. Encouraging for Holden, Muir led for the next 6 laps before a puncture forced him to pit, ‘While fetching the spare wheel, one crewman accidentally handed his motel keys to another crewman trying to open the cars boot lid. The delay cost Muir two laps and his chance of victory’ Wikipedia says.

Beechey led from Geoghegan who applied plenty of pressure to the EH in the lighter Ford taking the lead on lap 43, he held on for the next 7 laps to win by 1.2 seconds from Beechey. Jane was third despite a shagged clutch, thirty seconds adrift, with Foley and Manton’s Coopers the remaining cars on the lead lap.

Etcetera…

Start of lap 2 1964 ATCC.

Jane, Muir, Beechey, McKeown, Geoghegan, Manton, Firth, Foley and the rest.

(TRS)

Beechey and Muir in Holden EH S4’s with an obscured McKeown’s blue Lotus Cortina on the inside with Foley in the red Cooper S.

(TRS)

Pete Geoghegan’s winning Cortina GT ahead of McKeown’s Lotus Cortina.

(TRS)

Bob Jane’s very quick Jaguar 4.1 chasing Brian Muir’s Scuderia Veloce Holden EH S4, drivers using all of the available bitumen and a smidge of gravel on the inside.

Tailpiece: Lakeside Magazine looks good….

Credits…

John Wright Collection, The Nostalgia Forum- Stephen Dalton and Glenn Moulds, ‘TRS’- The Roaring Season’, Rob Bartholomaeus

Finito…

(T Watts)

4.4 litres of Repco-Brabham V8 grunt trumps 2 litres of Porsche flat-6 off the line at least, maybe not…

Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 and Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 on the front row of the Longford grid in March 1967.

Bob Jane won the Saturday race from Noel Hurd’s Globe Products Elfin 400 Ford and Hamilton whereas in the Monday event Bob won from Wally Mitchell’s RM1 Chev and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23B Ford. Noel Hurd and Alan Hamilton were DNF’s, the latter running out of fuel on the last lap.

‘Tasmanian enthusiasts would recognise the Gorringe pedestrian bridge, the same bridge that now allows pedestrian access to Baskerville…’ Grant Twining noted.

I’ve written features about both these cars, so initially thought I would pop the photos into the existing articles but they are too good to ‘lose’ by so doing.

They are sourced from the ‘Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’ Facebook page which I raid every now and again- so far Grant has not cracked the shits about me doing that- do suss the page if you are a Facebooker, if not you are missing out.

In terms of articles the Elfin 400 is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/. Bob’s Elfin 400 here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/, and Hamilton’s Porsche 906 and other cars here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

(T Watts)

Jane nose up and under power past the Longford pits.

Such a brutally pretty thing, but the aerodynamics of the 400’s were never fully resolved, this car, as many of you know, took flight over the Conrod Humps at Bathurst during the Easter 1969 meeting killing Bevan Gibson in the process.

To that very point Rob Bartholomaeus reminded me Noel Hurd was a non-starter in the Monday Longford sportscar race after a hair-raising off at around 140mph induced by the Elfin 400’s aero package. He was ok, and the car was not badly damaged but the nose was changed thereafter.

Bob’s eyes will be looking up the rise towards the Water Tower to the tracks left before pursuading his beast into the fast right hander at the top of the hill and plunge towards The Viaduct. Click here for a ‘Lap of Longford’ piece; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

The shot of Alan below is taken on the same stretch. If the car looks a bit odd its because Australia’s Porsche importer has chopped the Coupe roof off to create a Spyder given he was and is a big, tall unit and wanted to be comfy.

(T Watts)

Longford was a demanding circuit in any car but particularly so in a fast, powerful one given the inherent nature of the layout with its culverts, trees, bridge supports, Esk River (scuba divers were always at the ready in dinghies afloat) light poles and other similar immovable objects, the circuit width and its undulations or bumps.

Jane and Hamilton raced most of their cars here- sports and touring cars and in Bob’s case his Elfin Mono single-seater ANF1.5. For Hamilton it was the race debut of the 906- a daunting place for any cars first meeting however well sorted the ex-factory Porsche package undoubtedly was!

Jane raced his Elfin 400 at Longford in 1967 and Ian Cook took the wheel in 1968- Alan raced the 906 here in 1967 only. The ‘ring in’ is the photo below of Alan at Symmons Plains in 1967, its probably the ‘Tasmanian Sportscar Championship’ meeting the week after Longford on 12 March.

Click here for an article on that tragic event, Hamilton’s well-used engine (it had been in the 904-8 he had just stepped out of before fitment to the 906) had a con-rod break so he did not finish; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/17/1967-tasmanian-sportscar-championship/

(HRCCT)

Credits…

Tim Watts, Dennis Cooper, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Rob Bartholomaeus

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

The Longford Shell tent in 1968.

Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 alongside the Bob Jane Racing 400 raced at this meeting by Victorian Ian Cook. The class of the field in that, final Longford year was Chris Amon who set the outright lap record in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari Can-Am 350 machine. Here tis; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Note the aluminium spoiler above the radiator outlet in a quest for more downforce. 1968 was ‘the year of the wing in F1’ remember, mind you, by this stage Jim Hall and the crew from Rattlesnake Raceway in Texas had provided plenty of Chaparral mobile ‘tutorials’ on what could be applied aerodynamically to Group 7 cars like the Elfin to assist in keeping them on terra firma.

Finito…

(C La Tourette)

The 1958/9 Ferrari 196S looks like a scaled down 250 Testa Rossa, the three rather than six downdraft Webers makes the little brother easy to pick…

2 litre- 1983cc, 77 x 71 mm bore/stroke, DOHC, two-valve 65 degree V6 fed by three 42 DCN Weber carburettors. Two plugs per cylinder, twin magnetos, circa 195bhp @ 7200rpm. Four speed gearbox.

Tubular steel ladder frame chassis, front suspension by upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/shocks and roll bar. Rear has a live axle with coil springs, hydraulic shocks and roll bar, drum brakes all round, worm and sector steering.

Two chassis built- ‘0740’ and ‘0776’.

Credits…

Clarence La Tourette, auto.Ferrari.com

Tailpiece…

(Ferrari)

Finito…

 

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

Finito…

 

 

(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’.

(unattributed)

Credits…

Gordon Bruce, frankgardnermotorsport.com

Tailpiece: Gardner, BT5 Ford, Mallory Park…

(FGM)

Finito…

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; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/10/testing-testing/

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

 

Credits…

Getty Images

Tailpiece…

Finito…