Archive for the ‘Touring Cars’ Category

 

(B Pottinger)

The only things missing are the chief and three screaming kiddy-wids in the back seat.

Love this fantastic shot of John Colvin’s Haitch-Arrr Holden Station Wagon X2 during a club meeting at Teretonga, New Zealand in 1967.

The HR X2 option on the new ‘186’ three-litre OHV six gave only 145bhp, 5bhp more then the similar twin-Stromberg carb equipped ‘179’ X2 of the fugly predecessor HD.

Me dad had turd brown HD and blinding white HR wagons but ole’ Pete never developed slip-angles like this on the Great Ocean Road.

(gallery.oldholden.com)

Credits…

Bill Pottinger, gallery.oldholden.com

Tailpiece…

Finito…

 

(B Kaine)

Bevan Kaine, Morris Minor with John Charlton in another 1000 alongside him, Longford 1965…

This photo gave me a chuckle- for every Ace who raced at Longford there were dozens of club racers enjoying their motorsport on this supreme challenge of a circuit- lucky buggers.

In fact just about everybody in Tasmania with a competition licence (sic) entered this race which Ellis French has identified as the 1 March 1965 Sports and Touring Car Handicap held on the Monday- main race day during which Bruce McLaren won the Australian Grand Prix in his Bruce McLaren Racing Cooper T79 Climax. Click here for that lot; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/

Peter Turnbull recalled Bevan, and the challenges of setting off in handicaps first- ‘Bevan had a radio in his car and radio station 7LA used to broadcast the races. In the handicaps Kainey was usually the first away with Bob Jane off scratch. By listening to the radio he always knew where he was in the field and where Janey was’ and therefore the point at which he needed to be on hyper-alert!

(E French Collection)

 

Series 2 Morrie 803cc A Series

 

I’ve a soft spot for Minors, Morrises in general actually.

My Dad’s first car, the family car, was a two door, jet-black Morris Minor 1000. I remember balling my eyes out when it went down the 27 Almond Street driveway for the last time- it’s replacement, a brand new white Morris 1100 appeared that evening.

In some ways the 1100 was a more memorable car. It became mum’s runabout when Dad got his first company car- Pete hit the bigtime in 1967!, i’m saying it flippantly but two car families were not the norm in the middle-burbs like North Balwyn then. I learned to drive in it, did my first circuit laps at Sandown during a Peter Wherrett Advanced Driving course and had my first decent slap and tickle in the back, so it will always be a bit special- but the black Morrie, wow, happy childhood memories.

Dad managed to get five of us with voluminous holiday luggage- three Zippy boards (remember them?) and all the shite that kids need down the beach into the shapely little car or on the packrack atop the roof, then off to Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula we would go. Usually luck ensured the trip was on a hot Melbourne summers 100 degree day with only ‘Mexican air-conditioning’- an open window, to prevent us all becoming potato crisps.

The downhill drop from Riversdale Road and flat terrain past Toorak Road along Warrigal Road suited Morrie wonderfully through Springvale, then flat-as-a-pancake Nepean Highway from Mentone to Seaford but steep Olivers Hill at Frankston was third gear with a decent run up or valve bounce in second otherwise, the little beastie being blown-off by six-cylinder FB Holdens and the like!

Still those little ‘A Series’ motors are tough little buggers aren’t they, just ask Bevan Kaine…

 

(A Morris)

Bevan was clearly a keen competitor, here he is in front of a group lining up at Penguin during the Tasmanian Hillclimb Championship in 1964- I wonder if this little Morrie still exists?

The varied group of cars includes a Morris Cooper, three Cortinas, lets assume GTs, a couple of ‘Humpy’ Holdens, a light green FE, another Humpy and an MGA.

(C McKaige)

Etcetera: ‘A Very Special Morris’…

As soon as i popped this article up Tony Johns saw it and said ‘You must get in touch with Chester McKaige, he has a Coventry Climax engined Minor built by Lyndon Duckett’, so here it is, in Chester’s own words, a fascinating story too..

On the 17th September 1957, Miss. Phyllis Davis of North Caulfield, Victoria bought a brand new green two-door Morris Minor saloon registered GSR 580 and carrying engine number F5/H/31449 and chassis number 467583/01001. She kept the car for two years before selling it to Lyndon Duckett.

Duckett was born in 1916, his parents for many years ran a hardware store on land now occupied by Myers department store in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

Lyndon, not interested in the family business, established a garage and workshop, “Duckett Engineering” in the premises of what were originally stables for Cobb and Co. Coaches in Sutherland Place off Little Lonsdale Street.

He was a very gifted engineer, and during the early 1940s restored a 1908 Mercedes that allegedly was built to dominate the Semmering Hill Climb in Germany in that year. He also campaigned a black Type 35 Bugatti fitted with a R1 Anzani engine and a 1908 Isotta Fraschini.

He owned a number of other cars including the Morris Minor he bought in 1960, included in his collection was a couple of Alfa Romeo 1750s, Aston Martin DB4, Isuzu Bellet and Lancia Fulvia to name a few.

(C McKaige)

He must have had an idea brewing away because in late 1959 he wrote a letter to “Lotus Engineering” asking if there was an adapter ring available for mating a T.A. M.G. gearbox to an F.W.A Coventry Climax engine.

The reply back was that adapter rings for M.G. T.C. cars were widely available for £9.10s and what’s more, ex stock.

At about the same time, his good friend John (Jumbo) Goddard was in England and was commissioned to go visit Coventry Climax to purchase an F.W.A. engine and then the M.G. factory where he purchased a new T.C. gearbox and adapter ring from Lotus Engineering. The three items were boxed and sent to Australia arriving in Melbourne in mid 1961.

The original Morris engine was removed and the F.W.A. 1100c.c stage 3 tune engine was fitted and mated to the T.C. gearbox. The brakes were upgraded to Morris Major specs but the rear axle ratio was left alone.

Because of the state of tune of the engine (14:1 compression ratio) the car was adjusted to run on methanol through two S.U. carburetors.

It is surprising how easily the motor fitted into the engine bay. The coil and the entire auxiliary under bonnet equipment was retained except for the battery which was repositioned in the boot.

The front and rear bumpers were removed and substituted for plain chrome ones. At some stage the bonnet was substituted with one from a Morris commercial van or utility, wheels remained standard.

(C McKaige)

The interior also received some subtle changes, the most obvious being the dashboard. The lid of the “glove box” in front of the driver became the instrument housing for Smith’s instruments- oil pressure, amps, gearbox temperature, tachometer, and water temperature.

The original Bakelite steering wheel was replaced by a “Les Leston” timber rimmed wheel of the day. Two horns were fitted, a standard one and a ex Police type siren which was fitted under the dash the noise emitting from two Lucas horns mounted on the front bumper bar mounts- the sound, most impressive!

Other small changes included replacing the headlights, and the use of safety pins to re-join the Axminster carpet over the transmission tunnel which had been modified to take the M.G. gearbox.

The car was duly finished in 1962 and GSR 580 went over the weighbridge with a tare weight of 16 cwt.

Testing of the car was done on Friday afternoons and the writer recalls a conversation with a friend of Lyndon’s that the noise was “something to behold”.

The testing track was along Dynon Street and what was then New Footscray Road and back to Little Lonsdale Street.

Whilst the engine and transmission had the desired effect, the car had endless problems with overheating, so much so that the grille was extended to fit a larger aluminium radiator.

Lyndon used the car at a number of events including the Geelong Speed Trials in 1963 recording 19.10 seconds for the ¼ mile. This was a bit unfair for the car because the Class catered for cars up to 1,600cc and included a Porsche and his friend John “Jumbo” Goddard in a supercharged Morris 850. He also competed in a couple of drag races at Sandown but there are no recorded times for these events.

The addition of the bigger radiator helped somewhat to control the boiling aspect but the problem was not completely solved and the car was relegated to the back of the garage whilst the business grew in leaps and bounds.

Both the Mercedes and the Bugatti were sold but he kept the Morris and the Isotta plus a number of other cars which were stored out of sight and out of mind at the rear of the Little Lonsdale Street garage and at his home in Toorak.

I came onto the scene in 1957 and Lyndon became my Godfather as he and my late father had become great friends living a stone’s throw from each other, both sharing the passion for old cars the ten years age difference not a problem in the slightest.

As a child, I used to play in the Morris much to Lyndon’s consternation. It was always covered and had a place at the back of the garage out of sight and out of mind.

Chester ‘This photo was taken in Lyndon’s garage off Little Lonsdale Street. He had the habit of changing oil filters and putting the old one back in the box of the new one and putting it back on the shelf. All the oil filters in the picture are used ones!’ (C McKaige)

Fast forward to 1978 and I, and a couple of other chaps formed the Morris Minor Car Club of Victoria and my interest in the Morris revived itself once more.

I knew Lyndon had no intentions of parting with it although he did help me fit and tune a couple of twin carburetors to a Morris Minor 1,000 I had at the time.

Lyndon died in 2003 and at that stage I had a small business distributing “Penrite Oil”. Over a period of a week, I had numerous phone calls asking what oils should be used in low mileage cars that had been dry stored and would one day be returned to the road. Eventually it dawned on me that the cars mentioned were once the property of Lyndon Duckett.

Knowing who was looking after the estate, I found out that there had been numerous offers for the Climax engine but not for the car and that it was still available. Any thought of separation of car and engine had never entered my head.

I immediately got hold of my good friend Thorpe Remfrey and we went went halves in the agreed price, and on the 18th August 2003, the Morris was pushed out into the open for the first time in years and trucked to it’s new home in Moorabbin.

A couple of weeks later, we got the car running but at 14:1 compression ratio we decided to detune it to around 10:1 running on 98 octane fuel.

The old problem of boiling reappeared but the fitting of a thermatic fan solved it straight away.

A couple of other items on the “To Do” list included a new set of tyres and a complete change of fluids, she then made her first public appearance at the Geelong Speed Trials in November 2003, forty years since her last outing there.

We found out later that Lyndon had purchased a ZF gearbox for the car but hadn’t got around to installing it- that would have been the icing on the cake!

So, what is like to drive?

In a nutshell, fast. Ok it’s in a different league to more modern engines that are put into Minors these days but compared to contemporary cars of its day it keeps up with most of them. The engine revs freely, which hampers any fast gear changes, as the gearbox is rather slow to engage gear without crunching. The ZF gearbox would have made all the difference.

The mileage when we bought it was 10,00 miles and since 2003 we have done a further 3,000 miles. The body is still very tight with no rattles and still carries the original transfer on the back window “Yes this is a Morris Minor 1000” still in mint condition.

The brakes being up-graded Morris Major stop the car very well and the distinct sound of the telemetric Smiths tachometer very soothing. Of course no heater and radio are fitted.

I have since replaced the carpet and the braided door surrounds but the rest of the interior is standard.

I use the car quite regularly here in Tasmania, the roads being so good for old car motoring and have attended numerous old car events both here and on the mainland the car attracting interest wherever parked.

It is quite surprising the number of people who say, “I used to have one of them”, my reply being “Bet you never had one like this?” Chester finishes his marvellous article.

Chester comments ‘All works Climax engines were put on the dyno and the results given to the customer.Look at the RPM curve!'(C McKaige)

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania- Bevan Kaine, Ellis French Collection, Peter Turnbull, Vic Wright, A Morris

Special thanks to Chester McKaige for the article about his Lyndon Duckett built Morris Minor Climax

Tailpiece…

(V Wright)

‘Goin our way?’

Barry Lloyd and Doug Stewart before the Bathurst 1000 Mile Car Trial on 20 September 1955, I wonder how they went, both teams that is?

Finito…

Spencer Martin, Holden Monaro GTS350 and Allan Moffat, Ford Falcon GTHO, Gibson/Seton left and Roddy/Carter HO’s on row 2 (autopics.com)

The full field of Series Production cars rumbles down the hill from the rise through the kink on the plunge to Dandenong Road on the warm-up lap of the 21 September 1969 Sandown ‘Datsun Three Hour’ race…

It was a Ford rout in the tribal battle between Ford and Holden on the circuits of Australia,  the Bathurst 500 was the pinnacle each year with Sandown traditionally the warm up event.

‘Big Al’ Turner tipped Harry Firth out of the role of ‘Competition Chief’ of Ford Australia who marched across town and commenced the quasi-works ‘Holden Dealer Team’ out of his famous, cramped workshops in Queens Avenue, Auburn, a twee, inner eastern Melbourne suburb.

Firth’s first race as chief was Sandown 1969 with Spencer Martin having a ‘near death experience’ after having catastrophic brake failure at the end of Sandown’s main straight right on the 46.5 minute mark of the event.

Spencer Martin exits Peters Corner on the run up Sandown’s back straight early in the Sandown race (R Coulson)

 

Martin/Bartlett Monaro GTS350 immediately after clearing the single row of Armco at the start of Pit Straight- the car ended up just off the grass on the competitor entry/exit road (R Coulson)

 

With the fire out damage to the car is not as bad as may have been expected, machine repaired and sold as a roadie (R Coulson)

This article is not a detail one to ventilate the all the circumstances of an event of considerable importance to fans of touring car racing (not me at all) but rather to put in an accessible forum a swag of photographs posted on social media recently.

Holden won the Bathurst 500 in 1968 when the first ‘Munro’- the ‘HK’ Holden Monaro GTS327 V8 driven by Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland beat the XT Ford Falcon GT 302cid V8’s. Turner was not mucking around though in 1969 and built one of the fastest, finest (first in a series) of Ford Falcon GTHO 351cid homologation specials. The Falcon GT was a great road car, the ‘HO’ (high output was going to upset the insurers so handling options it was) whereas the HO was an ornery, more highly track tuned beastie- so 1969 promised to be more of a fight.

Holden engaged Firth to race the new ‘HT’ Holden Monaro GTS350 but it was less competitive car than the HO which ran away into the distance at Sandown and did the same at Mount Panorama only to lose the race because of Goodyear race tyres which were unfamiliar to the drivers with the exception of the mechanically very sympathetic Allan Moffat, who had tested the tyres comprehensively…yes, I am truncating Touring Car fans.

Firth had little input into the specifications of the HT350 but Spencer Martin said of the brake failure ‘The brakes on those cars were always very skinny. Harry never told us (Martin and co-driver Kevin Bartlett) what happened but many years later Frank Lowndes, the Chief Mechanic at the Dealer Team, told me that he had taken the standard pads off the Monaro and replaced them with harder pads for practice. But one of the mechanics accidentally put the standard pads back in the box marked ‘competition pads’. The mechanics then put them back onto the car.’

Martin continues, ‘I was chasing Moffat in the 351 Falcon and was scratching just to hang on. The front pads had already worn out and the rear pads were wearing out as well. They eventually wore right down and the backing plate hit the discs, the brake fluid flashed and the brake pedal went straight into the floor.’

‘Its amazing the strength you get at moments like those. As soon as I realised what happened I put it into third gear. I did it so hard I put a gear right through the synchro. I didn’t want to go into the Armco front-on so I grabbed the umbrella handbrake and pulled it right off the dash. I managed to flick the car around and I went backwards through the Armco. The muffler went straight through the petrol tank and they had probably the biggest fire ever at Sandown.’

‘The accident concertina’d the car together jamming the door (shut) so I jumped out of the drivers window and I landed on my hands and knees. It was so hot I was certain that I was on fire. But I was taken straight to first aid to be checked out and I had no injuries.’

Spencer added, ‘When I got back to the pits Harry asked me what happened. I told him I thought i’d blown a rear cylinder. But he went and checked the car and came back and said “That’s not the reason”, in other words he thought it was my fault.’

Frying of the brakes well underway- Spencer heading towards the Peters Corner apex- the approach to Shell in the distance is where the ace pilot turned the errant car around (unattributed)

 

Turn-in to Shell, Dunlop Bridge just in shot, to the left is a full Sandown grandstand (unattributed)

 

Immediately after impact and an emergency vehicle is already on the move on the grass (R Coulson)

Despite the accident Spencer was booked to drive the car at Bathurst but was involved in a road accident whist a passenger with his brother and therefore decided to fully retire- he had given up open-wheelers having won the second of his two Gold Star Australian Drivers Championships on the trot in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5 in late 1967.

Bartlett’s recollection is that ‘The car was a bit fresh…Harry was still experimenting with it. I was racing open-wheel cars (Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo) at Sandown on the day so it was convenient for me to drive to give some feedback. The drive was only ever to be a one off.’

‘The failure as explained to me was in the power brake system when Spencer was driving it on the main straight…I was told it was the booster system itself- not the brake pads.’

For Firth’s part be blamed the drivers, ruminating that he had been told (by GMH) to use ‘racing drivers’ (single-seater racers rather than touring car specialists) claiming to have been doing 3-4 seconds a lap quicker than Bartlett with less stress on the car ‘…revved the engine to 5500rpm plus disregarding the fact that the torque curve was 2000-4500rpm…”

Damage to the Armco clear- double row by the time I was racing a decade later- and hit it in my FV after becoming part of someone else’s moment (R Coulson)

 

Spencer is already out and no doubt en-route to the medicos (R Coulson)

Harry was still current as a driver in 1969, he had raced Lotus Cortina’s for Allan Moffat in the US in late 1967 but I am inclined to believe Martin and Lowndes version of events rather than Firth’s who, if Lowndes is to be believed, and I see no reason not to, involved a preparation mistake on his watch whatever else went wrong with the brake booster. Having said that Spencer would have been well aware his brakes were ‘fried’- look at the photos which show plenty of evidence of stress before the prang.

The other point to be made is that both Martin and Bartlett were highly experienced touring car racers- Martin jumped into David McKay’s Brabhams after dominance in ‘Humpy’ Holdens and Bartlett had been in and out of ‘taxis’ since first racing his mothers Morris Minor at Mount Panorama in 1959- KB was fourth at Bathurst in 1968 sharing an Alec Mildren Alfa 1750GTV with Doug Chivas, whilst Martin raced a factory Falcon GT Auto with Jim McKeown- Firth’s attempt to disregard the duo’s knowledge and experience of these types of cars is self-serving.

Hors d’ combat, The General needed to get their shit together between 21 September and Bathurst on 5 October, Firth picks up the story ‘There was consternation in the GM camp, a witch-hunt ensued. I said stuff all this, now give me the engines, come to Calder mid-week, take the dust shields off (the rotors) and put back the (1968) slotted wheels. We fitted a front spoiler with air slots and we cut away the panels behind the front bumpers for more airflow so the car would survive Bathurst…The Bathurst race is history. We came first, third and sixth’ aided and abetted by Goodyear racing tyres only Allan Moffat made last, the precautionary pitstop his team required of him cost the Big Henry’s a race they rather deserved…

Or did they!?

Tony Roberts in the winning Holden Monaro GTS350 he shared with Colin Bond to a Bathurst win in 1969- and again below (unattributed)

 

(T Hines)

 

Bathurst 500 1969- the winning Bond/Roberts Monaro chases the third placed Peter Brock/Des West sister HDT car and the Roy Griffiths/Glynn Scott GTHO (unattributed)

The Datsun 3 Hour was won by the Allan Moffat/John French works GTHO from the similar cars of Tom Roddy/Murray Carter and Fred Gibson/Barry Seton.

The barbecued Monaro Sandown car was repaired and sold and still exists, a wonderful reminder of the period and the perils of racing these ‘safer’ cars than the single-seaters from whence Spencer had mainly come…

Credits…

Robert Coulson Collection, autopics.com, Terry Hines, Unique Cars August 2016 article by David Dowsey

Tailpiece…

(D Blanch/autopics)

Allan Moffat in the winning works Ford Falcon GTHO exiting Peters Corner for the run up Sandown’s back straight during the 1969 3 Hour- these works cars were magnificent in red (Vermillion Fire?), never could understand why they went to two-tone boring white/blue in 1973.

Finito…

Allan Moffat, Brabham BT16 Ford from John Grames, Woodward DKW at Waterford Hills in July 1967- AM set both the class and outright lap record on that day (B Gordon)

Allan Moffat and John Smailes in ‘Climbing The Mountain’ provided the snippet…

‘Barry Nelson and Peter Thorn helped me conduct a fire sale of the Cortinas as well as a Brabham BT15 open wheeler in which i’d had one run and one win at Waterford Hills using a Cortina engine, and then they returned to Australia’.

Hmm, I thought, that’s interesting (to someone with a small mind like mine anyway), so Moff had a crack at Formula B in the US- bugger me, i’d not heard of that one.

I tried hard to find a photo of the car but had no luck other than the cockpit shot below before uploading my ‘Moffat Epic’, have a look here; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/ but the Brabham topic was ‘unfinished business’ until this week when American enthusiast/racer Bob Gordon uploaded some of the photos in this article and some results- research gold.

Bob and his father, Hugh Gordon were both racers who competed against Moffat in Cortinas in the day at Waterford.

It gets better though.

Gordon’s photographs show that not only did Moff compete in Formula B in 1967 but also the season before, 1966. Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com race results support Gordon’s photos, the Canadian raced a Lotus 35 Ford in 1966 and a Brabham BT16 Ford in 1967. No wonder my BT15 internet searches were fruitless, I punched the wrong details into Google.

Barry Nelson with Allan Moffat and Brabham BT16 Ford at Road America on (B Nelson)

 

Allan Moffat leads Bob Gordon at Waterford from the July 1965 ‘Waterford Digest’- both in Lotus Cortinas (B Gordon)

 

Moffat, mechanic Vince Woodford, Jim McKeown and Cortina at Daytona in early 1967, Jim’s engine went ka-boomba causing un unplanned change of direction for AM in 1967- all of which turned out ok (CTM)

The engine failure of the Moffat/McKeown Lotus Cortina Trans-Am class challenger at Daytona early in 1967 basically put an end to any prospect of Ford support of another Lotus Cortina under 2 litre campaign. Ford’s Peter Quenet threw Allan a lifeline though, giving him the remnants of the Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina team to use that year with a guaranteed $300 for each race start per car.

Allan therefore ran ‘start money Lotus Cortina specials’ for renta-drivers as well as running a car himself. With a few engines to spare, he did a deal with Fred Opert, the US Brabham importer to acquire the BT16 inclusive of part exchange of one of his powerful Lotus-Ford twin-cams.

Barry Nelson recalls collecting the car from Opert’s on Interstate 78, Newark, New Jersey, a journey of 2050 kilometres there and back from Moffat’s base in Detroit- ‘Holiday Cars’ was a small second hand dealer/workshop in Telegraph Road, Southfield, a Detroit suburb where Moffat rented space.

‘I don’t remember Allan racing the Lotus 35 at all. But with the BT16 we dry-sumped one of our engines, fitted it all up and used it only three times- once at Road America and twice at Waterford Hills. I drove the car in a test session at Waterford as well as a Scot, John Addison, who had raced one of the Cortinas at Sebring and another guy.’

Formula B, a bit like the introduction of Australian National 1.5 (which evolved into Australian Formula 2 later) was in part born to find somewhere to put suddenly homeless Formula Juniors and as a ‘next-level’ up single seater category below ‘elite level’. The release of the Lotus Elan provided the engine de jour- the class was a production based, two-valve, twin-cam on carbs category. For the usual English car builders, this was money-for-jam, FBs were adapted F3 designs- the Brabham BT16 was a dual purpose F2/FB version of the F3 BT15 for example.

The class boomed from its creation in 1965, in 1967 for example, there was a five race ‘Continental Championship’, the national title if you will, run from mid-May to 1 October which was won by Gus Hutchinson’s Lotus 41C Ford t/c, in addition there were seven divisions of regionally based competitions across the length and breadth of the ‘States all of which had big, healthy grids.

Moffat competed in the ‘Central Division’. In 1966 he was fourth in the standings with 9 points, ‘Allan Moffat, prior to moving (back) to Australia, had a surprisingly new Lotus 35’ Allen Brown wrote. There were nine rounds in the Central Division Championship that year, what is unclear is how many meetings Moffat contested in the Lotus 35.

In the 1967 pointscore, Allan was seventh despite contesting only one of the seven rounds, at Road America on 17 June, the first round in fact.

Waterford Hills was (and still is) a local Detroit track near Moffat’s base, the two meetings he ran there were not on the ‘Central Division’ championship tour but were local meetings. Brown wrote in his 1967 Central Division summary ‘…An interesting name further down (the points table) is that of Allan Moffat, a future Australian touring car legend but then just a 27 year old Canadian-born budding racing driver…’

Allan made quite an impression on the local scene in his ‘two years as a local’ with online fans of the era describing him as ‘bad-ass’, as in a full on aggressive racer, Carl Zahler, a Waterford marshall observed that ‘when Allan was there, we knew we would see some good racing.’

Bob Gordon- Allan in a Lotus 35 at Waterford in July 1966 (B Gordon)

 

(Instagram)

A couple of young ‘Australian’ roosters going for it at Riverside in September 1966- Horst Kwech in the Alfa Romeo GTA and Moffat in one of his Cortinas.

Moff would say he had the inside line- he does, and Horst would say his nose was in front- hmm, maybe, but not a second before…For sure these two had a high degree of respect for each others abilities by the time they shared the Shelby Trans-Am at Daytona and Sebring in early 1968.

Jerry Titus’ Mustang won at Riverside with Horst sixth and Allan seventh.

The question which then occurs to we anoraks is ‘ok, cool, so which particular Lotus and Brabham did he use?’- the answer is, despite ‘pokin around, ‘I dunno!’

Brown gives us a hint though, ‘Steve Griswold, who would drive this ex-Moffat Brabham (BT16) a year or so later, believes Moffat brought it with him from Australia’, but we know from Barry Nelson now that is not the case- he got it from Opert. Griswold was both a racer and a dealer- a lot of cars passed through his hands, whilst his name pops up a lot in online searches I can’t get a sniff of a chassis number- ditto the Lotus 35- no mention on any of the online forums. Help required please?

So, what became of AM’s single-seater aspirations?

It may well be that after the Brabham race meetings Moffat’s focus changed from his first very impressive Mustang drive in mid-August, which segued, in Moffat’s view with some assistance from Peter Quenet, into the Mercury Trans-Am works drive from the Modesto round on 10 September, the first of four drives in the series final rounds. In essence he had no time for the Brabham when his future pro-career hinged on these critical races- Barry agrees with this theory, ‘We simply put the Brabham to one side in the Southfield shop’.

Nelson, ‘The last race we did was in the Cougar in Washington, after that we closed things down, transported the Cortinas and spares back to Ford and sold the Brabham back to Opert. I returned to Australia in the new year and freelanced with Maurie Quincey for a while but that turned to crap- a very difficult guy to work with.’

‘My dad, Lionel Nelson knew Bob Jane very well, they were mates, so via that connection I did some engine work for Bob. Later in the year Allan joined Jane doing some promotional work and raced a couple of the cars’- the Elfin 400 Repco sportscar and an abortive attempt to race the Brabham at Sandown, a wheel came off the car.

‘My dad was the Technical Service Manager of motor sport of S Smith & Sons in Australia who sold ‘Smiths’ automotive gauges and KLG sparkplugs- that’s how I met Allan, he knocked on my dads door looking for sponsorship for the Cortina he brought back from the States and dad made the introduction when he found out he needed help with the car’s preparation.’

‘After he left Jane’s he let me know he had got something happening, when the Trans-Am arrived we got together again, I was there until the end of 1972. I love the guy to this day and still see him- I come down from Shepparton where I’m retired and catch up with him usually at Romeos or Duttons. Sometimes he is gruff “What do you want?” and others you can’t shut him up- like the last time I saw him two months ago.’

‘His health is not bad, you can still have a great conversation with him, sometimes his memory lapses a bit- a combination of Andrew Moffat, Phil Grant and Larry Perkins look after him.’

Barry, when asked about his driving said ‘If the car was great he was awesome- no-one could get near him but sometimes we would struggle to understand the changes he wanted because he couldn’t tell you what he wanted. He had huge self-belief but could also have a negative mindset so getting him in that zone- “all fixed, off you go” was important. But wow, when things were perfect…’

‘After I left Allan, Ron Harrop and I built Kingsley Hibbard’s GTHO-  we both went to the states and sourced some parts from Bud Moore similar to the Trans-Am and then got the engine bits from Falconer and Dunn in California but that was a disaster as he wasn’t paying his bills- I got paid and left.’

‘I then raced a Torana GTR-XU1 for a while and occasionally tried bits and pieces on my car for Harry Firth, who was close to my father. When my kids grew up they both raced- Warren ran in the Sprintcar World Series for five or six years with the younger bloke, Brooke having some fun in Midgets’

Barry Nelson’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 leads Bernie McLure, Holden Torana SLR5000 L34 Improved touring cars at Calder’s ‘Tin Shed’ during 1974 (unattributed)

 

Allan contemplates the ex-Brabham 1968 Tasman tool- a Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740’ 2.5 V8 on the day of his run at Sandown, which ended early when a wheel parted company with the just rebuilt car. He is in the back lane aft of the Bob Jane Racing workshops at the rear of the Chrysler/Valiant dealership fronting 740 Sydney Road, Brunswick. Barry Nelson notes the facility housed the dyno, Finance Department ‘Blackwood Investments’ and was the first home of Bob Jane T-Marts (B Nelson)

 

Moffat extricates himself from David Green’s Wren Formula Ford after the Calder 1971 Formula Ford Race of Champions. Allan recalled in ‘Climbing The Mountain’ ‘…after I ran up the back of Jack Brabham’s Formula Ford and retired hurt’. This car still exists in Queensland, owned by racer/enthusiast/official Ian Mayberry (CTM)

 

AMR team members at 711 Malvern Road, Toorak very early 1969- the Trans-Am still lacks its red paint of war. Barry Nelson, AM and Peter Thorn were all blooded together in the US- and Brian Fellows at right (CTM)

Postscript…

So, it seems thus far on the evidence we have, that Allan Moffat’s single-seater career comprises a race in the Lotus 35 at Waterford Hills in July 1966, three races in the Brabham BT16 in 1967, an ill-fated attempt to race Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco Tasman 2.5 Formula machine in the Sandown Gold Star round in late 1968 and one Formula Ford event/meeting- the ‘Race of Champions’ won by Jack Brabham at Calder in 1971.

Did Allan test an Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden F5000 car ‘in the day’, or is my imagination getting the better of me yet again?- mouth watering thought that, Moffat in a Boss 302 powered F5000 during the peak period of his long career…

As originally completed this was where i left off the story as it relates to Moff’s single-seater career and then David Hassall and Glenn Moulds got in touch as below.

David confirmed that Elfin’s Garrie Cooper ran a test day at Calder on Monday 13 September, the day after the 1971 Gold Star ‘Victorian Trophy’ round at Sandown won by Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10 B Chev- John McCormack was second in the first completed Elfin MR5 Repco, chassis ‘5711’ in its first race.

From its inception Elfin were supported by BP, a production run of four high value F5000 cars was a big investment for the small Edwardstown concern so it is no surprise that the drivers who tested the car on that day were mainly supported by BP- Moffat, Elfin 600E F2 driver and 1971 ANF2 Champion Henk Woelders, speedway star and then Elfin/Bowin Formula Ford driver Garry Rush with the interlopers being Castrol sponsored John Harvey and Scuderia Veloce owner/journalist and ex-racer David McKay.

By that stage Bob Jane Racing’s Bowin P8 F5000 would have been very close to delivery so Harves’ drive is interesting. Sadly, whilst Kevin Bartlett was there, he didn’t have a run in the MR5- his opinion would have been fascinating given he was peddling one of the two quickest F5000s in Australia at the time- the class of the field was KB’s ex’Allen McLaren M10B and Frank Matich’ Repco-Holden engined M10B- both fellas were Shell drivers with FM’s Matich A50 Repco only a couple of months away from its 1971 Australian AGP debut and win.

(Auto Action 17 September 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Motoring News 1 Oct 1971- D Hassall)

As you can see from David’s Auto Action and Australian Motoring News magazine collection Moffat did a good number of laps in a car which was as it finished Sandown fitted with too tall gearing, well used tyres and full tanks doing a best of 44 seconds dead.

Cooper’s run of four cars were raced by he and McCormack as works ‘Ansett Team Elfin’ entries and sold to John Walker and Max Stewart, both of whom were BP supported and fitted with Repco Holden engines.

There seems little doubt that BP’s John Pryce was keen to get one of his star drivers into F5000, the snippets show the media ponderings at the time about the potential support of Moffat’s then core sponsors Ford, BP and Coca-Cola- as Australian enthusiasts well know the Coke dollars applied to his Trans-Am Mustang racing not his Ford factory GTHO Falcon Series Production program.

The dollars had to make sense to Allan as a pro-driver.

Interestingly the car Moffat appears to have been considering and ordered was John Surtees’ 1972 F5000- the TS11 which did end up a competitive car albeit the ‘Class of 1972’ was the Lola T300.

Moffat’s car had to be Ford powered which was not a huge deal even if the Chev was de-riguer in the US and Europe. There were a smattering of Ford 302 Boss engines in use with Falconer & Dunn probably the logical choice of engine builder- Allan’s boys obviously knew their way around these motors pretty well in terms of maintenance.

(Motoring News 5 November 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Motoring News 17 November 1971- D Hassall)

As the 1972 Tasman got closer the speculation continued about the Surtees until Auto Action reported in January that the order for the car had been cancelled ‘following pressure from his chief sponsor, Coca Cola, not to get involved in open-wheeler racing.’

For the record the ’72 Tasman was a ripper series won by Kiwi Graham McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev.

So that seemed to be that, no single-seaters for Moffat, at least preferably not on Coke’s watch.

(Motoring News 31 December 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Auto Action Allan Moffat column 24 December 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Auto Action 7 January 1972- D Hassall)

But then, perhaps with his appetite whetted by the ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder in 1971 Allan had a drive of BP sponsored Bob Skelton’s Bowin P4A Formula Ford in a BS Stillwell Trophy Series (FF and ANF3) round at Calder on 15 May 1972- Skello raced his Bowin to victory in the Driver to Europe Series that year but there was no DTE round at that meeting.

Skelton was Sydney based, doubtless it was in his interest to get in some practice at Calder, which he did in a 5 lap preliminary but Moffat did the Stillwell Series race but had an off at Repco and retired after only a few laps.

Moffat didn’t race the Mustang at that meeting but had wins aboard the works HO Phase 3 in the 10 lap heat and 20 lap final- but i bet the races which held the most interest for him were the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ F5000 events both of which were won by Matich’s A50…

It seems he really was keen to keep his open-wheeler hand in and perhaps harboured thoughts of a Gold Star or Tasman run in 1973…

Bob Skelton’s Bowin P4A in front of Enno Buesselmann’s (?) Elfin 600 during a Warwick Farm Formula Ford DTE round in 1972- do get in touch if you have a photo of AM driving this car at Calder (FFA)

Waterford Hills…

Waterford Hills is a 1.5 mile long road-racing circuit located just north of Detroit, the circuit map below gives us the picture of a circuit many of us are unfamiliar with.

Allan is a much respected Waterford racer/graduate with a large number of followers amongst their community who can be followed by a very active Facebook page- just key Waterford Hills into the FB search engine.

Moffat has had a couple of visits back there, most recently in July 2018 when he caught up with old friends and made acquaintance with younger folks who are only aware of his racing exploits from afar.

(Instagram-unattributed)

Moffat pushes his Lotus Cortina hard at Waterford Hills in 1965- lets avoid the tangential dissertation on early Lotus Cortina rear suspension Mark, stay on point man…

(Official Allan Moffat)

Lapping Waterford in July 2018 in an open car if not an open-wheeler- how’s it handle Moff- soften the front bar or what!

(B Gordon)

I really like this photo as it shows Ford’s Peter Quenet’s Ford Anglia racing with Allan Moffat (front) and Hugh Gordon- Bruce’ father in Lotus Cortina’s at Waterford in the summer of 1966.

What comes through strongly in Moffat’s book are the pivotal roles a relatively small number of people made in advancing Allan’s career at key points in time, Quenet is one of those.

(J Melton)

A couple more shots of Peter Quenet, who was a very good racer in addition to his Ford executive responsibilities.

Whilst running with the ‘FB’ grid, the car is a Lotus 51 Formula Ford, no doubt Peter is doing his bit to get the class off the ground in the US in 1968.

We get a bit better look at his face in the photo below- this self built Anglia still exists, in ultimate spec Peter created a ‘spaceframe’ type of chassis, this shot is circa 1968 at a guess, Waterford?

(Instagram)


Etcetera…

 

Bruce Jennings, Plymouth Barracuda, two Mustangs, then Kwech, Alfa Romeo GTA, the red Alan Mann Lotus Cortina of Frank Gardner, Bob Tullius’ blue Dodge Dart- Allan Moffat at the back of this lap 1 pack and the rest- assistance welcome (Instagram)

Moffat’s outright Trans-Am win in the 1.6 litre Lotus Cortina of the 1966 Bryar Motor Sport Park 250 Trans-Am in London-Laconia, New Hampshire, July 1966 really was a big deal.

The scale of the achievement is given some context from the photo above- the ‘yellow speck’ at the back of this group of cars just after the start is Moffat’s winning car.

The win ‘earned him the title of the only outright winner of a Trans-Am in a Cortina. He quite often out qualified and finished ahead of the factory Alan Mann Racing cars in the ’66 series, which compared to other AMR’s other campaigns, was a failure. It isn’t even mentioned in the Alan Mann biography’ Gramho posted on Instagram.

Moffat won from Bruce Jennings, Plymouth Barrcuda, Horst Kwech, Alfa GTA and the Yeager Ford Mustang, only Moffat and Jennings finished the full 156 laps of the tight 1.6 mile course, the third and fourth placed cars were 2 laps further adrift.

Moffat takes the chequered flag at Bryar- that is a pond in the background (auslot.com)

 

(auslot.com)

All smiles from AM and the Miss New Hampshire contestants. Doesn’t he look young!- note Goodyear support at this early stage- an enduring business relationship all through Moffat’s career.

Lotus Ford Twin-Cam…

Always follow the money is a business basic and so it was that the tuners of the Lotus Ford ‘twinc’ saw the natural advantage the engine had in Formula B, a buoyant economy and plenty of young racers keen to compete.

Cosworth, BRM, Vegantune and others in the UK and US produced engines with power outputs progressively rising from the Cosworth’s Mark 12’s 140bhp @6000 rpm up through 170/180bhp to around 205bhp of the early seventies Brian Hart prepped 1.6 litre, injected ‘416B’ common in Australian National F2 from 1972 onwards.

Of interest to Lotus-Ford twin-cam nutters are the ‘data-sheets’ of the Cosworth built Marks 12-15 variants.


 

Research and Photo Credits…

Special thanks to Bob Gordon for the material which stimulated this piece and Barry Nelson for his photographs and time by phone- he is happy to assist with a ‘Racing the Lotus Cortinas’ piece in the future which promises to be good.

Thanks too to Glenn Moulds and David Hassall for their contributions and access to David’s extensive magazine collection. oldracingcars.com, Cosworth Engineering

Bob Gordon Collection, Barry Nelson, Waterford Hills Facebook page, ‘CTM’- ‘Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat and John Smailes, ‘AMC’- Allan Moffat Collection on Official Allan Moffat Facebook page, Gramho on Instagram, auslot.com, racecarsdirect.com, Jerry Melton on etceterini.com

Tailpiece…

Formula B lap record in the Brabham BT16 Ford and ‘Sedan 4’ mark in one of the Lotus Cortinas.

Finito…

image

Allan Moffat finesses his Shelby Mustang around the Daytona banking during the 1968 running of the endurance classic on 4 February…

The first two World Sportscar Championship rounds in 1968- at Daytona and Sebring were also the first rounds of the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am Championship which had very quickly become an important ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ contest for the major manufacturers and importers of cars into the US since it’s inception in 1966- the ‘Pony Cars’ so many of us know and love are a by-product of the Trans-Am, more to the point, they provided the homologation foundation upon which the race winners were built.

Shelby Racing Company entered two new ‘tunnel port’ 305cid V8 Mustangs at Daytona crewed by Jerry Titus and ex-F1 driver Ronnie Bucknum and another raced by Allan Moffat and Austrian/Australian/American Horst Kwech- they qualified Q22 and Q23 respectively.

image

Siffert/Hermann Porsche 907 second placed car (the pair also shared the winning #54 car!) in front of Moffat/Kwech/Follmer Daytona 1968 (D Friedman)

Whilst the Porsche 907, Alfa Romeo T33, Ford GT40 and Lola T70 slugged it out at the front of the field- that battle was settled in favour of the Vic Elford/Jochen Neerpasch/Rolf Stommelen Porsche 907 with 673 laps from the Jo Siffert/Hans Hermann 907 in second, Ford were fourth outright courtesy of the Titus/Bucknum combination who  covered 629 laps- the Moffat car failed to finish when a spring tower failed. Ford were fortunate in that Roger Penske’s Chev Camaros had been ahead of the Mustangs, but they too did not finish.

image

Daytona 1968 pre-race prep for the two ’67 rebuilt Shelbys, Titus car in front of Moffat’s (D Friedman)

 

Moffat from the Kleinpeter/Mummery/ Hollander Shelby 350 DNF- the blaze of lights getting Moff’s attention is the Wonder/Cuomo Ford GT40 DNF (unattributed)

 

image

Thaddl be during the long night- car DNF after 176 laps (D Friedman)

Whilst Allan Moffat is a household name in Australia, he may not be quite so well known to some international readers so a potted history follows, noting the focus of this article is two years or so of his long, successful career- 1967 through to the middle of 1969.

Despite the articles narrowness in time it’s 13,594 words in length which is insane really, my longest ever, and about Touring Cars FFS! but I got more and more interested and chased increasingly many tangents as I explored. Grab three ‘Frothies’, here goes…

Allan George Moffat was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada on November 10, 1939. His father’s career progression took the family to South Africa in the early 1950s. Moffat’s  high school education spanned 1953 to 1958- he attended General Smuts High School in Vereeniging, near Johannesburg.

Keen on cars from the start, he bought a 1935 Ford V8 aged sixteen then stripped and rebuilt it over two years before he was able to drive on the roads, the first circuit he visited was Grand Central track- what became Kyalami, a ‘citadel’ of racing. Allan’s father moved the family to Melbourne, Australia in 1961 where he became a cadet with Volkswagen and attended night-school at Taylor’s Business College with the aim of being admitted into university.

Sandown’s first international meeting was held on 12 March1962, he blagged a his way into a gopher role with the Rob Walker camp helping look after Stirling Moss’s pit- the great Brit was third in a Lotus 21 Climax 2.7 FPF in the race won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T55 Climax.

Early days on the Victorian circuits- Moffat, Calder, Triumph TR3A 1963

 

Moffat and Jim McKeown go at it during the 1966 South Australian Touring Car Championship at Mallala- Jim was disqualified for receiving outside assistance after a spin whilst Moffat blew a tyre on the last lap. Clem Smith won in his Valiant RV1 (unattributed)

Shortly thereafter the budding racer bought a Triumph TR3A on hire purchase and commenced his competition career at Calder and the country circuits of the day as time and money allowed. He raced a hot VW while studying at Monash University and working with Volkswagen. After failing at Monash he followed his family back to Canada where he made a living selling Canadian cookware door-to door.

If it was ever in doubt, Indianapolis 1964 was the event which decided the young, focused and very determined Moffat that his future was in racing. He travelled from Toronto to Watkins Glen to see Team Lotus race their Lotus Cortinas to try and get a job with the team. He sought out Australian Ray Parsons all weekend about helping the team but failed so, ever persistent, followed them 2900 kilometres away to Des Moines- the next event where he met Parsons who took him on without pay- by the next meeting at Washington he was accepted into the team albeit on an unpaid basis.

At the seasons end the Cortinas were advertised for sale at $4500 each including spares- Allan asked his father to lend him the $3000 shortfall in excess of his savings to buy one, he reluctantly agreed. The deal was done and the car quickly shipped to Australia where he contested the 1964 Sandown Six-Hour race, a high profile international event with all of the local touring car stars of the day and internationals Roberto Businello, Paddy Hopkirk, John Fitzpatrick, Rodger Ward, Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen, Jackie Stewart and Jim Palmer. After twenty laps Moffat had lapped Bob Jane and was leading the race but boofed the fence at Peters Corner, eventually finishing fourth- it was a magnificent debut all the same. The race was won by Businello and Ralph Sach in Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super.

Allan Moffat two-wheeling Shell Corner in best Lotus Cortina style during the November 1964 Sandown 6 Hour- he and Jon Leighton were fourth in the race won by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach in Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Super TI (unattributed)

 

Moff checks the tyres of his FJ Holden Panel Van with Lotus Cortina on the back circa 1965. This servo- the pumps were soon to go, became AM’s workshop from the mid-sixties until 2015, 711 Malvern Road, Toorak is well known to eastern suburban racing nutbags. The locale is much the same now- those houses abut Beatty Avenue are still there. What is different, sadly is that Allan sold the site circa 2015, it is now a several story block of apartments named ‘Mandeville Lane’. Moffat lived in Toorak forever and was a regular in ‘Romeos’ and ‘Topo Gigio’ restaurants in Toorak Road, both are still there, where he was often wining and dining contacts, sponsors etc (AMC)

 

Moffat, Lotus Cortina, Green Valley 4 Hour Trans-Am April 1967, 18th with Gurney’s Cougar the winner (J Melton)

Moffat raced his car to a win in the Victorian Short Circuit Championship at Hume Weir a month after Sandown and was part of a posse of well over 20 drivers who ‘put the Ford Falcon on the map’ in Australia and dispelled concerns about the marques quality and durability by staging a 70,000 Mile Reliability Trial over nine days in late April 1965.

Ford America still had two unsold Lotus Cortinas so the competition manager, Peter Quenet asked Moffat to come back to prepare and race one of the cars throughout 1965, he returned to the US in time for the Indy 500 and was famously Jim Clark’s ‘water boy’ during the Scot’s historic Lotus 38 Ford victory. He raced the Cortinas in the Detroit area doing consistently well at Waterford Hills, his ‘home track’ but later in the year he raced at Mosport- running a distant third to Sir John Whitmore in a Team Lotus car.

He returned to Melbourne in November 1965 for the six-hour race and was holding second place with his BRM tweaked twin-cam engine when the rear axle failed two laps from the finish- Kiwi open-wheeler ace Jim Palmer co-drove that year.

In early March 1966 Peter Quenet rang again and offered Moffat a drive in Cortinas fitted with a ducks-guts BRM-prepared twin-cams, quick as a flash he was back across the Pacific again. The main competition were the Alan Mann Racing Cortinas whose driving roster included such luminaries as Frank Gardner, Sir John Whitmore and young thrusters Jacky Ickx and Hubert Hahne, in addition the grid that year included about fifteen alloy-bodied Alfa GTAs.

The Alan Mann Racing team manager was Howard Marsden, later to take over management responsibilities of Team Matich in Sydney and shortly thereafter Ford Australia’s racing team which was based in an unprepossessing ‘skunkworks’ in Mahoneys Road, Broadmeadows. In a splendid performance Moffat won the third ever Trans-Am race at Bryar, New Hampshire using U.S. Goodyear tyres, specially developed for his car and in the process his 1.6 litre Cortina defeated heavy metal including Frank Gardner, and John Whitmore Lotus Cortinas Horst Kwech Alfa GTA and ‘heavy metal including the Bruce Jennings Plymouth Barracuda, Yeager/Johnston and Lake/Barber Mustangs, Bob Tullius’ Dodge Dart and others.

Ray Parsons, both a mechanic and a racer, joined Moffat later in the year to build and run another Cortina with Harry Firth and Jon Leighton brought over from Australia as co-drivers for the longer races. At that time Harry Firth was ‘the competition arm’ of FoMoCo Australia preparing both rally and series production racing cars out of his small, famous workshop in Queens Avenue, Auburn. Moffat and Firth- and Parsons and Leighton contested both the Green Valley 6 Hour and the Riverside 4 Hour season ender in mid-September 1966 for ninth/seventh and seventh/thirteenth (both Ray Parsons and Moffat did Riverside solo, the latter when Harry Firth was laid low with flu) outright respectively.

A small historic sidebar is that Ray Parsons was a Tasman Series regular looking after Jim Clark’s Lotuses in the Australasian summers, after he returned to Australia- having tended to Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA in throughout the Etonian’s very successful 1968 Tasman Tour- he joined another ex-Lotus colleague, Engineer John Joyce in Sydney to build the very first Bowin- Glynn Scott’s P3 which just happened to be powered by Pier’s spare FVA. What became of Ray Parsons folks?

Becoming more and more entreprenueurial, Moffat asked Quenet for a budget to take over and race the two Alan Mann cars for the opening race of the 1967 season at Daytona- the Daytona 300. In a deal that involved Moffat agreeing not to race in Australia in 1967- and with assistance from Shell, the very powerful 180bhp twin-cam engine from Jim McKeown’s Shell-Neptune Lotus Cortina was shipped to America and installed in one of the Mann cars- McKeown was Moffat’s co-driver.

The Canadian got the class pole and led the first half hour before the flywheel parted company with the crank- with that ended any chance of a Ford works deal for 1967 but an agreement was reached whereby Moffat was given the cars, spares, equipment and transporter- and received $300 for each car which started a Trans-Am race.

In order to make the deal financially viable he took on pay drivers who were somewhat rough on the cars. It got to the stage where the other cars were cannibalised to keep his own machine racing- Moff’s results were appalling- Daytona 300 DNF, Sebring 4 Hour DNF, Green Valley 4 Hour eighteenth, Lime Rock DNF, Mid Ohio DISQ, Marlboro U2 litre with Adams DNF and then, bingo, a strong second sharing a Mustang with Milt Minter behind the Donohue/Fisher Roger Penske Chev Camaro Z28 and ahead of other notables in a smallish field in the Marlboro Double 300 at Marlboro Park Speedway in Washington DC.

The one off drive came about when Moffat was asked to take over the drive of a Mustang owned by George Kirksey, a Texan former sports writer and businessman at Mid Ohio- it was a great opportunity which Moffat capitalised upon- the Moffat/Minter pair were third outright at the end of the 500km race albeit they were later disqualified for refuelling whilst the engine was running- an error not Moffat’s. (I can make no sense of this in the ‘Racing Sports Cars’ results of the 11/6/67 Mid Ohio Trans-Am)

Kirksey then invited Moffat to do a non-championship Manufacturers Round at Watkins Glen where the major opposition was the Penske Camaro- Allan put the car on pole, recorded the fastest race lap and were elevated to first place after the winning car was disqualified for running a ‘fat’ engine.

Moffat in front of Dan Gurney’s Mercury Cougars- he would drive one later in the season, here during the March 1967 Sebring 4 Hour, both guys DNF in the race won by Jerry Titus’ Mustang (unattributed)

 

Moffat, works Bud Moore Mercury Cougar- note Allan Moffat Racing Ltd on the guard, maybe the deal was that AM’s team looked after the car on race weekends? Circuit unknown, help needed(unattributed)

 

Mercury Cougar test session at Riverside 8-14 January 1967- Bud Moore, Dan Gurney and Al Turner with Fran Hernandez with his back to us. Al Turner came to Australia a year or so later and ‘captained’ Ford Total Performance’ in Australia, bless him (F Hernandez)

 

AM in his Brabham BT15 Ford twin-cam, Road America, Wisconsin 1967 (B Nelson)

For the final four Trans-Am races he was given one of the Bud Moore Mercury Cougars and was up there racing with the big boys, a drive Allan credits to Peter Quenet…

His results weren’t flash mind you- his first race was at Modesto on 10 September for a DNF after 9 laps, then a Riverside prang after 41 laps, then in Las Vegasm as a support during the Can-Am round, DNF after 76 laps and then finally in the last race of the year at Kent where he was fifth.

Moffat said of his results ‘In my view it wasn’t my finest hour, but others differed. The DNF’s, two of them not my fault, and an out of points finish in the final race were the sum of my contribution. On paper it didn’t look good, but in that last race i’d actually achieved the team’s objective. I’d been sent out to block, to deliberately spoil the field. And it seemed i’d been successful’ Ford Mustang won the title by two points from Mercury with Chevrolet outclassed.

The young Canadian was very much a ‘coming man’, but he was ‘skint’ so set about selling the Cortinas ‘as well as a Brabham BT15 open wheeler in which i’d had one run and one win at Waterford Hills using a Cortina engine…’

Around about then, in December 1967, Moffat met Kar-Kraft’s Roy Lunn who offered him a job as a development driver. It was during that year (1968) that Moffat either reinforced or established his close links with the various Ford people who would help his career when he returned to Australia- this is about where we came in at Daytona 1968…Shelby, Kar-Kraft and Moffat- a bit player but becoming more significant.

Ford well and truly put a Trans-Am toe in the water by engaging Shelby American to build two Mustang Coupes for the 1967 championship after being successful the year before- Fastbacks could not be used as the SCCA classified them as sportscars at the time- and were therefore ineligible. Kar-Kraft provided valuable engineering assistance to Shelby- in particular making changes to the upper ball-joint mount to provide greater tyre/guard clearance and developing a stronger front axle (spindle). The two Coupes they developed won the ’67 Trans-Am.

Separate to Fran Hernandez’ Mustang program, he also oversaw the the running of (Lincoln Mercury division of Ford) two Bud Moore Mercury Cougars in 1967, one of which was raced by Moffat later in the season as we have just covered. In fact the Cougars almost upset Fords’s championship, falling short by only two points but finishing ahead of the Camaros. According to Lee Dykstra, Bud Moore based the Cougars racers on Shelby Mustang specifications- but they (the Cougars) did not use Kar-Kraft parts.

For 1968 Ford decided to move the Trans-Am Mustang engineering program from Shelby Engineering, based in California to Kar-Kraft just down the road in Dearborn- still with Fran Hernandez as leader. For those of us who are not Americans lets have a look at this short-lived (1964 to 1970) but hugely influential and successful 1960’s race organisation.

Smokey Yunick’s car out front of Kar-Kraft’s Haggerty Street Dearborn facility- building still exists, now used by a shipping company  (unattributed)

Kar-Kraft was an independently owned racing organisation started by Nick Hartman (although other sources say it was a wholly owned subsidiary of FoMoCo) with only one client- Ford. It was born of a group of young Ford engineers who quickly brought together Lee Iacocca’s mid-engined Mustang 1 concept and build- Roy Lunn was also part of that program and it was that small group who were central to Lunn’s plan for a nimble specialist group to take Ford’s various race programs forward.

Ford Advanced Vehicles in England was Lunn’s responsibility, when he became frustrated with the lack of success/progress of the Eric Broadley designed, FAV/John Wyer built and managed Ford GT40 in 1964 (Colotti gearbox reliability, aerodynamics, outright pace etc) he wanted greater FoMoCo Detroit control and therefore reorganised the GT40 program by tasking FAV to build the chassis/cars in Slough with the race program/development work under the wing of Jacque Passino, Ford’s global motorsport manager- and in turn Kar-Kraft in Dearborn.

Hartman, Ed Hull and Chuck Mountain knew each other as local SCCA racers, Hartman started K-K upstairs of his father’s machine shop in Dearborn- in the beginning the K-K designers and mechanics were moonlighting from Ford Research with management’s permission.

After a short stay at the Hartman workshop on Telegraph Road, Dearborn, K-K moved to 1066 Haggerty Street where the group was expanded to a team of about four engineers, four designers and ten mechanics and fabricators- flexing in size up and down, who worked for the following six years to make Ford’s products winners.

K-K had a ‘Special Vehicles Activity’ whose brief, described in an undated Ford document was to ‘…engineer, build, test, develop, prototype and manufacture a complete vehicle, or any system or component thereof. It (further) has the ability to generate complete product proposals and coordinate the total program with respect to manufacturing. In addition to offices at Engineering Building 3 and Ford Division General Office, Special Vehicles activities utilises Kar-Kraft Inc, contracted solely to Ford Motor Company…’

In short K-K had a brief broad enough to build one car or a limited production line such they did to construct the Boss 429 Mustangs when Bunkie Knudsen tasked them to do so. Crucially, they formed the link between the race teams (such as Shelby and Bud Moore in a Trans-Am context) and divisions back at Ford. In this way the race teams got access and input from the Ford departments which looked after engines, gearboxes, suspension, aerodynamics, computers and electronics.

Mustang 1

 

Ford GT40 race debut, FAV Slough built, Nurburgring 1000km 31 May 1964 Bruce McLaren (up) and Phil Hill. John Wyer behind the car head down taking notes

 

Ford GT Mk2, Ford Proving Ground Detroit June 1966 (Getty)

By the time K-K were given the 1968 and onwards Mustang programs their Ford Mk2 and Mark 4’s had won Le Mans in 1966 and 1967- the J-Car program was not so successful. K-K’s first job, which they did rather successfully was to marry the GT40 chassis and componentry with the 427 ‘Big Block, NASCAR engine and in the process developing the K-K transaxle, stuffed with heavy-duty ‘Top Loader’ gearsets, together with Pete Weismann and relentless testing by K-K and Ken Miles and Phil Remington from Shelby, they soon had a race winner. The Mark 2 first won at Daytona in early 1965 and of course triumphed in the famous 1-2-3 form finish at Le Mans in 1966.

In fact one of the reasons K-K ‘copped’ the Mustang program is that with a stroke of the rule-makers pen 7 litre cars were banned from the International Championship of Makes with effect 1 January 1968, so K-K’s primary race programs were at an end, they had resources available. And so it was with the death of the big-beasts, that the ‘original’ GT40 5 litre finally, long in the tooth, had its place in the Le Mans sun in 1968 and 1969 with John Wyer’s JW Automotive the most successful team to race these cars, two wins on the trot at the Sarthe using chassis ‘1075’.

During 1968 Allan Moffat got his chance with K-K ‘I was sitting in the Ford cafeteria with Peter Quenet, when Roy Lunn came over and said “What are you doing?”, and I said “starving to death”, so he said why don’t I go and work for Kar-Kraft. It was really one of those very fortuitous, fateful lunch meetings that happen to people from time to time. I worked right through Christmas, but their first cheque didn’t arrive until March. It was for $5000 and I think it all went straight to American Express’ Auto Action recorded.

Moffat worked on the Mach 2 Mustang- a mid-engine Corvette beater with IRS and a fibreglass body (which ultimately became the Ford engined De Tomaso Mangusta) the 1968 Trans-Am Mustang developments and the 1969 Trans-Am.

 

When K-K took over the Mustang program they built two new 1968 Coupes which Shelby developed and raced- the two cars raced at Daytona and Sebring were modified 1967 Shelbys. Moffat got his opportunities with Shelby early in the season given his involvement with K-K albeit the Shelby Racing Co staff would have been well aware of his race record in recent years.

Where I am going with all of this is Moffat’s journey from Lotus Cortinas in 1964 to the first meeting at Sandown in May 1969 when he raced his Kar-Kraft/Bud Moore Trans-Am, so a look-see at the 1968 Kar-Kraft/Shelby cars, given the carryover of some key components to the ’69 Trans-Am is relevant to the car we all came to know and love in Australia. And there is a Bob Jane Shelby twist in all of this too as many of you know.

The primary differences between the 1967 and 1968 Mustang notchback racers may have appeared minor, just sheetmetal, but the ’68 racers were mechanically much closer to the ’69 Boss cars than they were their ’67 notchback predecessors, that was in part due to rule changes between the 1967 and 1968 seasons.

The 1968 rules allowed greater freedoms than the Trans-Am’s first two years. For over 2 litre cars, a maximum engine capacity of 305cid was allowed regardless of the size of the original engine fitted. Wheels could be 8-inches wide and arches flared to accommodate them. Full interiors were no longer mandated- and most cars used roll cages to increase the vehicles torsional rigidity with obvious performance dividends. Pieces were removed, trimmed or drilled to reduce weight- this search for weight reduction eventually led to acid-dipping chassis as well as the parts attached to them- this became an epidemic really and is a story in itself, but not for now- the minimum weight was 2800 pounds.

Four-wheel disc brakes were allowed even though no such option was available on the specification sheet from any US manufacturer of a production car. Kar-Kraft used massive Lincoln calipers and rotors on the front whilst Kelsey-Hayes four-piston calipers (used on the 1965-1966-1967 Shelbys) were used at the rear. k-K special hubs allowed the rear ends to be fully-floated and suspensions employed K-K Watts linkages, narrowed rear springs were used and double-adjustable Koni shocks. Fuel cells were made mandatory from May 1968 with special refuelling rigs deployed- Penske’s team were aces at using trick rigs to speed up pitwork and forced other factory teams to follow.

Two ‘Shelby Racing Co’ cars were entered for each event, a total of four team cars were used during the year- two were new cars based on 1968 Mustangs and two were rebuilt 1967 Shelby team cars, the latter pair were the duo of cars raced at Daytona and Sebring as covered above. For the sake of completeness another new chassis was set aside for Shelby’ use but was not built up as a racer, however it was eventually assembled as such some years later.

Jerry Titus 1967 Shelby Mustang notchback during the Mission Bell 250 at Riverside in September. Not quite as ‘butch’ as the ’68 cars with more tyre and ‘flare’ (J Christy)

 

The dreaded 1968 302 Tunnel Port engine- cylinder head (unattributed)

 

Riverside late 1968 season engine test, one of the ’68 Shelbys at Riverside (F Hernandez)

 

The ‘famous’ late 1968 engine test is the 1969 shootout between the Tunnel Port, Gurney-Weslake and Boss 302 engines fitted in a ’68 Shelby- but look closely and it appears a bunch of Webers smiling at us. Charlie Henry’s book says that K-K tested a G-W manifold with Webers (exactly as used on the JW GT40’s with a bulge to give the carbs breathing space- in long distance 24 hour spec, fitted in a GT40 the engines in period gave a smidge under 500bhp. ‘Whilst the carbs provided data they were illegal in SCCA Trans-Am’ but legal in Oz where Webers were Moffat’s instruments of choice (F Hernandez)

As related earlier, Jerry Titus won the first 1968 Trans-Am round at Daytona run in conjunction with the Daytona 24 Hour, he finished fourth behind three long-tailed Porsche 907 Lang-Hecks.

The engines used at Daytona were Shelby Racing Co built Tunnel Port V8s. From race four of the Trans-Am, the Lime Rock round and onwards, Ford decided that all engines for Shelby would be supplied directly from Ford’s engine foundry- that is, engines assembled and built by ‘Ford Engine Engineering Special Vehicles’ were shipped in crates to Shelby for installation into the cars.

After each race they were removed and shipped back to Ford for disassembly, inspection and evaluation- this proved a disastrous decision which cost Ford any chance of winning the 1968 championship. So frustrated was number one driver Jerry Titus, that he formed his own team to race Pontiac Firebirds starting with effect the final Riverside round.

FoMoCo’s new 302 ‘Tunnel-Port’ engine was the secret weapon which would bring a third Trans-Am Championship on the trot, they hoped. A refinement of the 289 Hi-Performance V8, the primary change was to the cylinder head design. The 289 heads tended to be restrictive and only so much extra performance could be gained through porting and polishing- the new design was based on Ford’s NASCAR 427 heads.

The intake ports were straight instead of snaking around the pushrods- the pushrods went through the centre of the ports, giving rise to the name ‘Tunnel-Port’. This also allowed larger valves to be used, an extra eighth of an inch of piston travel was included, bringing the total displacement to 302 cubic inches. The block was strengthened and used lovely four-bolt main bearing caps, the whole lot was topped off with an aluminium dual quad carburettor intake. Shelby dyno sheets showed power outputs of 440 to 450bhp albeit this was produced very high in the rev range which became the cause of great, consistent reliability problems- apart from being power and torque curve characteristics unsuited to the demands of road racing.

Oiling problems plagued the engines the entire season- hardly a race weekend went by without one, usually more engines turning themselves into scrap metal. Some races were described as ‘six engine weekends’ because two engines would blow in practice and the race. At one point Shelby asked Ford if the team could go back to building their own engines- Ford’s answer was a succinct ‘No’. For the record, Shelby engines won two out of the four races in which they built the engines- Daytona and Riverside whereas Ford’s score was one from nine- Watkins Glen.

(L Galanos)

A month or so after Daytona (where this long piece started) the Shelby team headed from California in the direction of Florida, Sebring for the second race of the season on the 23 March weekend.

There, Moffat again shared the car with Horst Kwech where they qualified Q22, the Titus/Bucknum duo Q16 with the pair of Penske Camaros of Donohue/Fisher Q13 and Fisher/Welch/Johnson Q17.

Up front the race was won by the Siffert/Hermann 2.2 litre, flat-8 Porsche 907 from the sister car of Elford/Neerpasch whilst third outright was the Donohue Camaro from the Fisher machine, then the Titus/Bucknum Mustang with Allan and Horst one of the many tunnel-port’ engine DNF’s for the year.

Louis Galanos commented about his photo above ‘I can’t help but smile seeing this…photo…from the Sebring 12 Hour…After the Le Mans style start cars are coming down the front straight  three and four abreast. David Hobbs in a Gulf GT40, Ludovico Scarfiotti in a factory Porsche 907, Allan Moffat in a Shelby Mustang , Scooter Patrick in the Lola and so on…’

Checkout the amazing sequence of photographs below which shows just how quick away Jo Siffert was on pole and Allan Moffat down in Q22- Usain Bolt twitch fibres and all that, and no seat belt buckle done up I guess.

(D Friedman)

Drivers all in a pack, Moffat does appear to be making ground here, wherever he is, he comments in his autobiography written with John Smailes about his lack of training down the decades so we was not an elite level runner.

(D Friedman)

Siffert and Moffat- surely both have ignored belts, and critically their engines have answered the starter button immediately on call.

(D Friedman)

Jo is gone- out of shot whilst Moff is about to be swamped.

(unattributed)

From the off you can see how Moffat takes the Mustang wide knowing the zippy mid-engine rockets are going to cannon in his direction with the #11 Lola T70 Mk3B Chev of Mike de Udy (above and below) nearly driving him right into the wall- did he have a rear view mirror after that I wonder?

#28 Ickx/Redman and #29 Hawkins/Hobbs are the JW GT40’s #51 is the Ludovico Scarfiotti Porsche 907, #56 is the Foitec/Lins Porsche 910 and #42 the Bianchi/Grandsire Alpine A211 Renault and the rest.

(L Galanos)

 

(unattributed)

Titus and Bucknum made a strong showing at Sebring where they finished third in the Trans-Am class, behind the two Penske Camaros despite thirteen pit stops. The cars used Shelby prepared Tunnel Port V8s and cast iron Ford top-loader four-speed close ratio gearboxes, after this race aluminum Borg Warner T-10s were used.

Moffat all loaded up before the race, Titus machine alongside- ‘Shelby Racing Company’ decal on the B-pillar- and in action at Sebring below

 

Context for being given the Daytona and Sebring drives are Moffat’s performances in the previous two years and in particular the late 1967 Mustang and Mercury drives together with the KK testing role ‘…I was in the Ford fold, totally visible’ Moffat related to Smailes.

Allan was competing for the second seat in the Shelby team against Kwech- Titus was the number one and Bucknum had indicated he didn’t want the drive for the year.

At Daytona ‘In the race for the Shelby Ford works seat, score one for H Kwech. You never want to be at the wheel of the car when it breaks and he’d neatly handballed that honour to me. A month later at Sebring I broke my golden rule. When the flag dropped I was away, leading (the class) for the first hour until I was overhauled by Mark Donohue…When I handed the car back to Horst it was perfect, but, with one lap remaining of his long stint, the engine blew. At least he hadn’t been able to get me back behind the wheel before it broke.’

In due course the two Shelby sprint Trans-Am drives for 1968 went to Titus and Kwech.

Allan Moffat would return to Sebring a few years later at BMW’s invitation.

He joined Hans Stuck, Same Posey and Brian Redman in a BMW 3 litre CSL to victory in the March 1975 running of the classic from the Dyer/Bienvenue Porsche Carrera RSR and the Graves/O’Steen/Helmick similar car.

(unattributed)

After the conclusion of the two big international races in the US at the outset of the 1968 season Moffat was at a loose end- he still had his K-K testing gig but all the Mustang Trans-Am race seats were taken, Ford had lost interest in the under 2 litre class and in any event the Porsche 911s (admitted by the CSI as Group 2 touring cars) were dominant. More Cortina racing wasn’t going to take Allan forward, the Mercury program was at an end too- Ford would not make the mistake of splitting its resources and racing against itself again. As Charlie Henry wryly observed ‘Cougar never gained admittance to the Ford Motor Company “racing clique”. Ford wanted a performance oriented Ford to win, not a division with a luxury car reputation.’

The balance of the 1968 Trans-Am season unfolded like this.

Parnelli Jones joined Shelby at War Bonnet for the third Trans-Am round, qualifying on pole, but by the lap 7 Donohue’s Camaro was firmly in control up front- Jones was third with Titus out on lap 46 with a popped Tunnel Port V8. At Lime Rock, over the Memorial Day long weekend, Titus was second with the ‘guest car’ driven by NASCAR stockcar racer David Pearson, he retired on lap 22 after being black-flagged for leaking oil onto the track, the engine was consuming the slippery stuff faster than the crew could pour it during pit stops

shelbytransam wrote that ‘Things went from bad to worse for the Shelby team after that. Roger Penske’s Sunoco Camaro, driven by Mark Donohue, continued to run like a freight train while the Shelby cars faltered at every turn. Titus finished second at Mid-Ohio but teammate Horst Kwech, in #2 car blew the engine on the first lap. At Bridgehampton, the team’s semi-tractor trailer was involved in an accident on the way to the track and crushed the roofs of both cars. They were repaired as soon as they arrived but Kwech blew during the Sunday morning warm up before the race started and Titus went out with a broken suspension. At Meadowdale, in Illinois, Kwech finished eighth and Titus came in eleventh. Titus finished fifteenth at St. Jovite in Canada whilst Kwech blew his engine. At Bryar, in New Hampshire, Titus finished tenth and Kwech again blew an engine. Donohue won that race…effectively clinching the championship right there.’

Whilst all of this race excitement was going on, Moffat still had his Kar-Kraft testing duties but he was of course frustrated about not racing but his career was about to change direction again- in a pivot back to Australia.

Entrepreneur/racer Bob Jane’s first 1965 Mustang met its maker in an accident at Catalina Park in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains that November, he was lucky to walk away from the accident which is covered in this article here; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

Undeterred, he soon acquired a 1967 Mustang GT390 which was progressively modified, inclusive of the use of a small block V8 to get a car which handled as well as Pete Geoghegan’s locally developed (by John Sheppard) Mustang GTA- but it didn’t matter what the boys in his Brunswick HQ did, he still could not catch Big Pete. In fact the shortfall was Jane’s capabilities behind the wheel- Bob was no slouch of course, but he, like the rest of the competitor set were not on the same planet as the big, beefy Sydney motor dealer.

Bob despatched his long-time Team Manager, John Sawyer to the ‘States to find some goodies and know-how to try and bridge the performance gap between his and Geogheagan’s cars mid-year prior to the one race Australian Touring Car Championship to be held in Pete’s backyard- Warwick Farm, on September 8 1968.

John knew Allan, looked him up in Detroit and sussed him as to who to talk to and contact in relation to all the trick Ford bits, Allan helped out with introductions, explaining who John and Bob Jane were and how they fitted in, and assisted in getting all the components they needed, and then some.

Allan also set up the contacts with Shelby to acquire an ex-works 1968 car for Jane to use in 1969 and beyond- lets come back to that in a little bit.

Sawyer and Moffat spent plenty of time together, John soon got to understand Allan’s plight- race drive unavailabilty and all the rest of it. John contacted Jane about Moffat’s plight and soon he was offered a job with the Bob Jane Racing , acting as a go-between for the Mustang purchase project. Although nothing was documented, Allan understood that, in return, he would get to drive the older Mustang ‘GT390’  when the new car arrived in Australia.

Happy days indeed! Or so it seemed.

Bob Jane in the GT390 early days @ Warwick Farm in 1967 (unattributed)

 

Horst Kwech, Shelby Mustang, Riverside, on the way to a win in late 1968- this chassis was soon to become Bob Jane’s car (unattributed)

 

Bob Jane, Mustang, Hume Weir, circa 1970 (D Simpson)

Jerry Titus finally broke Donohue’s winning Trans-Am streak at Watkins Glen in August 1968 when the Camaro lost its brakes three-quarters of the way through the race. Dan Gurney was guesting in the other Shelby Mustang and retired with a blown engine. Donohue came back at Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado, finishing back in front- Titus and Gurney were both out with blown engines- this was the meeting after which Jerry announced that the next race, Riverside, would be his last in a Mustang, then he was off to campaign his own Pontiac Firebirds- Shelby were very sad to see him go of course.

By September 8, with both Donohue and Titus out at Riverside and Horst Kwech a Shelby Mustang race-winner, his car fitted with a Shelby pepped Tunnel Port, Allan Moffat was back in Australia, racing of all things Bob Jane’s Tasman 2.5 litre single-seater over the 15 September weekend…

On Horst’s race-winning weekend Bob Jane contested the ATCC race at Warwick Farm. Geoghegan started the race from pole and won after Beechey and Jane touched on the first lap- Bob retired with Geoghegan winning from Darrell King’s Morris Cooper S and Alan Hamilton’s brand new, just arrived in Oz, Porsche 911S/T.

Bob Jane Racing had a swag of drivers on its books by this stage of 1968.

John Harvey came very close to meeting his maker after a rear-upright failure in Bob’s new- just bought off Jack Brabham, Brabham BT23E Repco V8 dumped him amongst the scenery at Mount Panorama during the traditional Easter Bathurst Gold Star round. Harves was incapacitated with a long convalescence for the rest of the year whilst the shagged Brabham was repaired by Bob Britton in Sydney.

With Harvey indisposed, a three car team (Brabham, Mustang and Elfin 400 Repco sports-racer) and contractual commitments to Shell, Jane contracted two young Melbourne up-and-comers- Ian Cook and Bevan Gibson to  have some drives, the story of the Elfin and these two are told in this article; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

So, by the time Moffat arrived in Melbourne Sawyer and Jane had four drivers and three cars.

Ian Cook, with a solid background in ANF1.5 single-seaters, raced the repaired BT23E to fourth in the Gold Star round at Lakeside in late July during Kevin Bartlett’s dominant 1968 Gold Star year aboard Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5- the team missed the following Surfers Paradise round in late August with Moffat having a run at Sandown.

Whilst Moffat now had heaps of touring car experience- including ‘Big Car’ stuff as Frank Gardner liked to call them, his exposure to the more rarefied world of single-seaters was limited to a race or two in a Brabham BT15 Ford twin-cam in the US in 1967.

Sawyer and Moffat set off across Melbourne from Jane’s race base in Brunswick to Sandown Park- a circuit on which Moffat had always been quick, but his weekend was over almost before it started after an accident when a rear tyre parted company with its rim as he accelerated up the back straight. Game over before it had even begun.

Towards the end of the year, on 24 November he drove the Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 sports car (below) to two wins in the Victorian road Racing Championships meeting at Phillip Island.

This shot and the one below are of AM and John Sawyer in the backlane behind Bob Jane Racing HQ in Brunswick, Melbourne just before heading off for Sandown in 1968. Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740’ 2.5 litre V8 ‘Tasman Formula’ car (B Nelson)

 

(B Nelson)

 

Moffat in the Jane Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8, Phillip Island, November 1968 (R Bartholomaeus)

Horst Kwech’s Riverside Mustang win was the team’s third victory of the year, the last race of the season, at Kent, Washington saw Donohue win while Kwech and Peter Revson both failed to finish. Revson’s engine blew and Kwech crashed on the tenth lap. Titus seemed to console himself by talking pole in his new Firebird although he retired with engine problems on the lap 43.

Moffat’s work was very well done- Jane  bought the car raced by Horst to victory at Riverside- VIN#8RO1J118XXX was the very last of the 1968 K-K/Shelby cars built and had only raced three times in the hands of Dan Gurney, Peter Revson and Horst- happily for both Jane and Moffat it was soon on its way to Australia with our man expecting to race the hand-me-down GT390 in 1969 whilst his team-owner raced the near new car, on the face of it the pair were a strong combination for the ensuing year.

David Hassall wrote that the association with Jane nearly resulted in Allan’s first drive in the Bathurst 500- at one stage in 1968 it appeared that Jane would enter the race in an Alfa 1750 GTV with Moffat as co-driver, but it didn’t eventuate.

Allan stuck it out at Jane’s until one day in January 1969 when Bob went through the workshops- the Bob Jane Corporation headquarters was in North Melbourne several suburbs away from the race workshops in Brunswick, so Jane- running an empire at that stage involving new and used car dealerships, a car wholesale auction business and Bob Jane T Marts, a national franchise- would not have seen Moffat regularly in the normal course of running his large enterprise.

Bob said he didn’t think things were working out too well, suggesting they call it quits. Allan was thinking of leaving anyway, so that was it. He certainly wasn’t sorry to leave Bob, but he was also fired up with strong feelings about the way things had gone.

For the umpteenth time in his career, Moffat had no money or income or a drive.

At that point, with a new season underway, Moffat played the best card he had- he write to the most senior Ford executive he knew from his years in the states, he related to John Smailes ‘I wrote directly to Jacque Passino, the head of all motor sport for Ford. Like most of the Ford top brass at the time, Passino was a dyed-in-the-wool car guy, but not necessarily a motor racing enthusiast.’

‘The…motor racing brief was another step on Passino’s career ladder and he intended to carry it out well. The thing is, he had the authority to keep his promise. I just thought I had to have a go. My letter to him got through to his secretary, a feat in itself, and I was granted an appointment. I guess I had some credibility, being the outright winner of the third-ever Trans-Am race in one of his products must have stood for something, and backing up as a driver in his works team as well as a Kar-Kraft test pilot maybe put me on his radar. But I seriously doubted it.’

‘My grandfather always taught me never to sit down in anyone’s office unless they invited you. Passino was a fearsome guy, beautifully dressed, with prematurely greying hair and strong steel glasses. He didn’t ask me to sit. I explained my case. I was a Ford man through and through. I had unfinished business in Australia – to win the national title – and a Cortina was no longer going to do it for me. I concluded by asking: “Are you able to help with a car?”

‘He said: “I don’t know where the cars are. Give me a couple of days and I will see what I can dig up for you.” He asked me where I was staying – a motel down the road, which he passed every day on the way to the office. It was only when I left his office that I reviewed what he’d said; “I’ll see what I can dig up for you.” Not just “I’ll see what’s available”, but “for you”. Those were the two key words.’

‘I hightailed it back to the motel and briefed the front desk guy. “Sometime, I don’t know when, I am expecting a visitor or a phone call. I won’t be leaving my room until then”. I arranged for room service for all meals – not exactly a feature of the house. And I waited.’

‘On the fourth day, the longest four of my life, the phone rang. It was Passino himself: “Have you got enough money to get to Spartansburg (Bud Moore’s workshop)?” I said, “Only just”. He said, “There’s a car waiting for you”.

‘There was no mention of payment, but I figured that was to come. For the 1969 Trans-Am series Ford was having a big go. Through Kar Kraft they had built seven incredibly special Ford Mustangs, the Boss 302s. Three each were to go to Ford’s two works teams – Carroll Shelby and Bud Moore. The seventh would go to Smokey Yunick’s NASCAR team. Their value was incalculable.’

‘I had no expectation even of touching those cars. My goal had been to see if I could buy, at the cheapest possible price, one of the now-redundant 1968 cars. I was at Bud Moore’s workshop the next day and he wouldn’t look me in the eye. I thought, Who are you to be upset? I’ve come to buy used stock. He walked me into the workshop and there, sitting abreast, were three new Trans-Am Boss 302s, each still in their grey undercoats.’

“The middle one is yours,” he said.’

‘Jacque Passino had done what probably nobody else in Ford could do, with the possible exception of Henry II. With one word, he’s made one of the magnificent seven mine. At no cost. No cost at all. I didn’t know why then and I don’t know why now. There are theories. Ford Australia was a favoured outpost of Dearborn. Maybe a favour was being offered way beyond me. Maybe, simply, it’s because I asked and someone liked me.’

Moffat’s car as he first saw it at Bud Moore’s Spartanburg workshop in South Carolina late 1968. The thing that is not clear, despite plenty of research and I suspect differs, is the degree of completion of each of the Trans-Ams at Kar-Kraft before handover to the race teams (AMC)

 

Moffat taking some lucky punters- members of the press no doubt for a whirl of Sandown, probably on the Thursday prior to the May 1969 Southern 60. Note the Fairmont Wagon alongside, a good family bus of the time (AMC)

 

Moffat’s primary job when he returned to Australia with the Mustang was as Ford’s #1 driver of Series Production (Bathurst) cars- here he is during the 1972 Phillip Island 400km aboard an XY Ford Falcon GTHO Ph 3- he won from Brock’s XU1 and Gibson’s HO. In the background is one of the two works Datsun 1200’s of Evans or Roxburgh/Leighton (I Smith)

‘When I returned to Australia that year I was immediately drafted into Ford’s series production touring car team and became Number One. So perhaps there was a grand plan in which the Mustang was the best incentive ever. I don’t think I’ll ever know. A lot was happening in Australian motor racing.’

‘For the first time the Australian champion would be decided in a series of five rounds. Two rounds of the championship would have already been held by the time of my return, one won by Pete Geoghegan and the other by Bob Jane, both in Mustangs. Even if I won the last three races, if Pete came second, he would still take the title on accumulated points. The second major change in motor racing was the emergence of sponsorship on cars. The Mustang may have been free but I needed money, lots of it, to run it and this was the opportunity to provide a big-name sponsor with exposure in a brand-new medium. Coca-Cola was interested. My proposal had gone to Victoria and landed on the desk of its visionary marketing manager, David Maxwell. My Coke backing was, in the context of the company’s other involvements, a pretty cheap sponsorship. I had two reasons to be grateful to him. The other was Pauline Dean’- who was to become Allan’s first wife.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves, whilst the specifications of Moff’s iconic car can almost be cited by Australian enthusiasts- even open-wheeler nutters like me verbatim, some of you may not be quite so familiar with these seven, in particular six special racing cars…

Lets not forget before we embark on these 1969 Trans-Am cars that the 1968-1970 Mustang chassis were similar enough that suspension components, chassis strengthening, engine packaging, fuel, cooling and exhaust system learnings of the previous two years were carried over into 1969.

These included but were not limited to heavy duty front axles (spindles), the floating rear axle, brakes and Watts linkage- the 1969 car was not ‘clean sheet’, the 1968 program generated useful aerodynamic information and late in the year more reliable engines, but even with the upgrades the 1969 Mustangs were still working to improve brakes, low RPM response, tyres and weight- by 1970 the machine’s shortcomings were resolved and the Trans-Am championship went to Mustang.

Prototype K-K 302 Trans-Am towards completion- the hood scoop didn’t make it onto the race or road variants, date unknown (F Hernanadez)

 

Stunning image of ‘the recently completed 1969 Kar Kraft prototype’ VIN unknown, this batch of photos were in an envelope Fran dated 14 December 1969. It’s a racing car but note the standard of finish- panel fit for example. Blue cars suggests its destined for Shelby. Wheels are American Racing ‘Torq Thrust’. Stunning motorcar (F Hernandez)

At the commencement of the Boss 302 race program, K-K built two prototype Trans-Ams for evaluation by the Shelby Racing and Bud Moore Engineering race teams. In mid August 1968, shortly after commencement of 1969 Mustang production, and with race homologation in place, an internal factory order was placed for two ’69 428 Cobra Jet fastbacks, less paint, sealant or sound deadener. The cars were delivered to the K-K’ workshop Haggerty Street ‘shop, from Ford’s River Rouge Complex and then completely stripped and rebuilt to Trans-Am race specifications under the supervision of K-K chief designer/engineer Lee Dykstra.

After completion, with conversion taking three weeks, one of the cars was given to Bud Moore whilst the other was retained by K-K.

Initial testing of the first prototype was carried out by K-K at Michigan International, after that the car was sent to Engine Engineering at the Dearborn Proving Grounds. That group used it to develop a fix for an oil starvation problem in the front-sump oil pan- a K-K design ended up as the oil pan of choice. Ford engineers, working closely with the Shelby and Moore race teams used these prototypes to conduct intensive race track engine evaluation (see engine specs) and chassis development work over several months.

During the engine selection tests at Riverside in late 1968 the engineers, technicians and drivers also worked on spoilers, ride height, springs, roll bars and other suspension components. A Shelby fabricated adjustable rear spoiler allowed the group to assess downforce/drag trade-offs- a front air dam assisted in getting the front to rear balance right.

The Trans-Am did find its way into the wind tunnel but not until July 7 to 18th 1969 when Lee Dyksta and Mitch Marchi tested a 3/8 scale model of the car in the University of Maryland tunnel- full scale tests were subsequently done in the Martin-Marietta wind tunnel in Marietta, Georgia.

When the specification for the racers was finalised, another internal order was placed at Ford’s Dearborn plant in December ’68 for seven more ’69 Mustang fastbacks to be assembled minus paint, seam sealer and sound deadener for Trans-Am race duties. Unlike the two KK-built prototypes which started out as R-code big block Cobra Jets, the seven new cars were no frills M-code (carrying sequential VIN numbers from 9F02M148623 to 9F02M148629) 351 V8s with four speed transmissions. Allan Moffat’s Trans-Am started as one of the cars in this special batch, carrying VIN No. 9F02M148624.

K-K picked the cars up at The Rouge and drove them the 5km to Haggerty Street.

After stripping, building and preparing the cars for racing the technicians installed the production parts removed from the cars earlier in the process, in essence each car was its own parts bin. One car was retained by Kar-Kraft, three were shipped to Shelby Racing Company and three to Bud Moore Engineering – Moffat’s car was one of the Bud Moore cars as related above. The sole fastback kept by K-K was a unique hand-built racer finished in a black with gold stripe paint scheme, for tuning legend Smokey Yunick to run in NASCAR’s ‘Baby Grand’ stock car series. The other six cars were built to Trans-Am specifications by the two race teams based on Kar-Kraft’s chassis design blueprints.

During a span of two years 15-18 cars came off the K-K surface plate, Charlie Henry wrote.

Alex Gabbard interviewed Fran Hernandez in the late eighties about the Mustang program, Fran recalled ‘I was officed at Kar-Kraft and running the program when we were doing all that (Trans-Am) racing. I had Bud Moore, Carroll Shelby and Bill Stroppe doing some racing for me, and also the independents. Ed Hull was the principal designer behind all my work as well as the design work behind the Mark 4 Ford that we ran at Le Mans (which won the race in 1967)’

‘Ed was a very prominent person overall in our racing program, body and chassis. He assisted me in designing my suspension system for the Trans-Am cars. Had we (Ford) stayed with racing in 1970, as progressive as we were, and well ahead of everybody else, 1970 would have been more of a “no-contest” than it was because we actually built no more chassis in 1970. ’69’s were the last cars we used. We were out of the picture. 1969 was our last big effort in racing. 1970 was when Ford got out of racing completely, the Le Mans effort shut-down, the Kar-Kraft effort went away, and our racing was gone.’

 

(AMC)

Chassis

FoMoCo were not going to be out homologated in 1969 as they had been in 1968 by Penske/General Motors.

The specialised design and fabrication which went into the six racers amounted to a very liberal interpretation of the Trans-Am regs- made possible by the ambiguous wording of the SCCA rule book, allowed Trans-Am race engineers a lot of creative freedom.

The first step in Kar Kraft’s chassis preparation was minimising weight.

Minimum weight of the 5 litre Group 2 cars in 1969 was 2900 lbs (1315 kgs). The aim was to build the cars as light as possible- and then bring them up to the minimum weight limit by positioning lead or steel ballast down low at chosen chassis points to move the car’s standard 55.9% front to 44.1% rear weight distribution nearer a 50/50 split.

The battery was moved from the engine bay to the boot, the engine was lowered discretely by around 50mm and moved back as far as the firewall would allow- this had the effect of lowering the car’s centre of gravity. The fuel tank was made out of two flanged halves (ie upper and lower shells) but a Boss 302 racer featured a much deeper bottom section than standard to drop the fuel load as close as possible to the road. This idea was replicated in the Bathurst ‘drop tanks’ used on the Holden Torana L34 and A9X racers of the mid 1970s.

The Mustang bodyshells were built without any weather sealing or sound deadening. K-K then removed any brackets not required for competition and either drilled holes in any remaining component or re-made it in aluminium right down to the internal window winding mechanisms which even had shorter crank handles to save weight.

Acid dipping was strictly outlawed but the practice was widespread in Trans-Am. It involved ‘drowning’ a metal component in an acid bath for a period of time to eat away a small amount of excess metal. Too much time in the acid vat left some components dangerously weak, hence the SCCA ban. It is not clear how much, if any, acid dipping the ’69 racers were subjected to. ‘Dipped’ or not, the fat farm program for the Boss 302 racers was effective and included significantly thinner window glass and bolt-on panels (bonnets, boot lids, door skins, guards etc) stamped from thin gauge sheet metal.

Technicians doing Trans-Am chassis structure work in the Kar-Kraft Merriman facility (F Hernandez)

 

Early’ish shot of Moffat’s car, probably Surfers Paradise in 1969, wearing Minilites by this stage- note in particular the guard flares as per text (unattributed)

Lessons learned from sedans at 200mph on NASCAR super speedways and Kar-Kraft’s own GT40 program made clear the performance gains to be made from good air penetration. This was prevalent in sedans with wedge-shaped silhouettes, Kar Kraft took things a step further by trimming 25mm from the height of the radiator support panel- the engine bay inner guards were then tapered down from the firewall on each side to match, this substantially lowered the front aerodynamic profile of a Boss 302 racer.

Hammer and dolly work created a flare for front guard to tyre clearance- technicians just pulled out, rolled over and flattened the inner lip of the guards. The inner halves of the rear wheel housings were also discretely moved inboard about 75mm on each side to provide adequate clearance for the 12-inch wide Goodyears- minimal flaring of the external wheel arch lips was permitted, this was achieved with the use a stamped metal panel, shaped as a flare which was fitted after cutting out a section of the rear guard- the stamped flare panel replaced the original metal.

To maximise torsional rigidity the shell was seam-welded and two sturdy braces were connected to the front suspension towers- one spanned across the engine bay between the two towers (which Moffat didn’t use) and another braced the towers rigidly to the firewall. The base of the towers used the substantial reinforcing plates fitted to the road going Boss 302.

Inside the cabin was a welded tubular steel roll cage ‘which blessed the Trans-Am Mustangs with the strength of armoured tanks’. Although the K-K cage designs of the Shelby and Moore teams differed in detail, they were fundamentally similar in that they extended beyond the cabin front and rear to integrate each suspension mounting point into the overall cage structure. This lack of chassis flex ensured accurate and consistent suspension tuning for optimal performance.

Rear suspension of Moffat car in recent times, note the oil coolers, Koni shock and roll bar beside the leaf spring on the right and the lower ‘Rose jointed’ lower end between the tyre and spring AMC)

 

Watts linkage and cooler (AMC)

 

(AMC)

Suspension

The front suspension subframe was notched about 20mm on each side where it bolted to the chassis, this had the effect of raising the sub-frame further into the car permitting a lower static front ride height. This left only 25mm of belly clearance above the road and was another gain in lowering the centre of gravity. It also explains why (in combination with the tapered front sheetmetal) a standard 1969 Mustang looks so high at the front compared to Moffat’s Trans-Am version!

Front suspension was based on the architecture of the road car but was considerably beefed up. Forged steel stub axles on thick cast uprights were mounted between strengthened upper and lower swinging arms, with revised pick-up points for geometry best suited to the lower ride height and the camber change characteristics of racing rubber. Adjustable rose joints and solid metal bushings featured with stiffer coil springs, adjustable Koni shocks, an adjustable anti-roll bar and a quick-ratio 16:1 steering box.

Rear suspension rules required the road car’s live axle/leaf spring arrangement be retained. As a result, Kar-Kraft’s superb ‘full floater’ nine-inch rear axle assembly (ie a full floater design ensured a broken axle would not result in a wheel parting company at speed) was located by race-tuned leaf springs and a pair of traction bars sitting directly above the springs and parallel to the road. These eliminated spring wind-up/axle tramp under hard acceleration and also served as rigid trailing arms for positive fore and aft axle location.

Lateral control of the rear axle assembly was assured by K-K’s beautifully fabricated panhard rod. Like the front end, the rear suspension was equipped with adjustable Koni shocks and an anti-roll bar. The static rear suspension ride height was around 90mm which, when matched to the 25mm front ride height explains why Kar Kraft’s Boss 302 racers looked like they were literally being pulled down onto the track surface by magnetic force!

The net result was a superbly balanced and responsive chassis.

 

Ford received so many enquires about modifications to Mustangs to Trans-Am spec they took the step of commissioning this booklet from K-K and offered it via the dealer network for $2 per copy- Google away, it’s online. Many of the goodies to modify the cars could be bought from dealers

Brakes, Wheels and tyres

Manufacturers were allowed to upgrade the braking system provided the components were sourced from the parent company or its divisions. The Kar-Kraft engineers used the same brake package as deployed in 1968. Ford Lincoln luxury, huge 11.96-inch diameter ventilated rotors and four-spot Kelsey-Hayes calipers. The road car’s rear drums were removed and upgraded with the standard road car’s 11.3-inch front disc brakes. External adjustment of front to rear brake bias was via a proportioning unit mounted under the floor adjacent to the rear axle.

The combination of Lincoln front brakes and Ford rears resulted in different wheel stud patterns front and rear- under Australian racing rules all four wheels had to be interchangeable, Moffat therefore had to re-drill his wheel centres so that they could be bolted to either end.

Trans-Am rules specified a maximum wheel width of eight inches, the Boss 302 racers rolled on a set of lightweight magnesium wheels, either the ‘American Racing’ rims on which Moffat’s car was delivered, later UK-built ‘Minilites’ he used and later again South Australian made ROH wheels. Tyres were 5.00 x 11.30 front and 6.00 x 12.30 rear.

Moffat’s car was delivered with a tunnel port 302- later Allan had two dry deck Boss 302’s- this is one, both engines exist and are with the car. Moffat used 7500rpm, 485bhp quoted with the Weber setup used in Oz (AMC)

Engine

The Boss 302 Mustang big breathing, high revving 5.0 litre small block V8 was one of the toughest small block pushrod production V8 ever to come out of Detroit.

It evolved from the failure of the Tunnel Port 302 in 1968, in any event Ford never proved to the SCCA that it had produced the 1000 engines required for homologation so the temptation to make the thing (Tunnel port) work still had a legislative wrinkle or two to sort.

Ford’s Engine and Foundry engineers were faced with the challenge of cost effectively using existing ‘regular production’ engine components to meet the homologation challenge. After plenty of testing it was discovered that the cylinder heads from the new ‘Cleveland’ 351ci (5.8 litre) small block V8- to become such an important part of Australian motor racing- featured the same bolt pattern and bore spacing as the four-bolt main ‘Windsor’ cylinder block on the Tunnel Port 302, the mass-produced Cleveland heads were well suited to high performance applications and in many ways were superior to the Tunnel Port heads.

They featured a canted valve design (ie inlet and exhaust valves inclined towards the combustion chamber from opposite directions) which ensured unimpeded gas flow due to an excellent configuration of the inlet/exhaust porting. The huge 2.23-inch intake and 1.71-inch exhaust valves- larger than the exotic Tunnel Port, and semi-hemispherical combustion chambers further evidenced the Cleveland’s competition breeding. Some of the water jacket passages needed to be slightly modified to suit, but the 351 Cleveland heads/302 Windsor block combination became the basis of a Trans-Am winner.

In late 1968 the engine was track tested at Riverside against two others under consideration (as we have already covered)- the unloved Tunnel Port 302 and the more exotic Gurney-Weslake headed 302 which prevailed at Le Mans in 1968 and 1969 in the JW GT40’s. Although the Gurney-Weslake motor, with its all-alloy casting and integral inlet manifold proved the fastest of the three- followed by the Boss and the Tunnel Port, the Boss version was chosen given its use of existing production componentry and therefore the ease and cost of producing it.

The Boss 302 was produced in road and full race specifications- 110 special race versions were cast featuring four-bolt bottom ends, ‘dry-deck’ head sealing (ie crushable o-rings that seated in grooves at the top of each cylinder bore as opposed to conventional head gaskets) and a different oil system design to suit the Cleveland heads. These were equipped with lightweight valves, stronger valve springs, screw-in rocker studs, steel guide plates for the solid lifter pushrods, 1.73:1 aluminium roller rockers and improved top end oiling.

The induction system comprised two 1050cfm (or 1235cfm) Holley Dominator four-barrel carburettors mounted on a short runner, single plane alloy inlet manifold. A special offset distributor was needed to clear the front carb, they were fed cool, dense air via a fully enclosed airbox connected to twin inlet pipes mounted behind the grille. The Boss 302 roadie was fitted with a single 780cfm Holley.

A variety of induction systems were trialled during the Boss race engine’s development, including four twin-choke downdraught 48mm IDA Weber carburettors which proved very successful on Moffat’s car- those carbs were enlarged to 51mm chokes.

The crankshaft was made of forged steel, was cross-drilled with an anti-frothing windage tray, high volume oil pump with triple pick-ups and a big capacity baffled sump to combat oil surge. Connecting rods had much meatier big end supports were attached to 12:1 forged alloy pistons (road versions used 10.5:1 compression ratio).

Large diameter, equal length tubular steel exhaust headers dumped the spent gases through huge side pipes, a large capacity aluminium radiator and oil cooler were used.

In 1969, Ford claimed 470bhp (350kW) by mid season and it was good for 8000rpm in short bursts, drivers complained that the Boss 302 had the Tunnel Port’s lack of low and mid-range torque but it also had formidable top-end punch.

Ford’s official power ratings for the factory rev-limited Boss 302 road car were a modest 290bhp (216kW) @ 5800rpm. These quoted figures were aimed at keeping the insurance companies happy, in reality a street Boss was good for circa 350bhp (260kW) with the 6150rpm factory rev limiter disconnected.

Transmission and drivetrain

Two variants of the Ford Top Loader four speed gearbox were available in the road car- a wide-ratio version (2.78 1st gear) was standard and a close-ratio (2.32 1st gear) unit was optional. Top Loaders with a variety of ratios were available for the racers.

Boss Mustangs were equipped with a nodular iron cased nine-inch differential assembly and indestructible 31-spline axle shafts, the standard rear axle ratio was 3.50:1 with optional 3.91 and super short 4.30 gear sets to choice. A remote oil cooler and Traction-Lok limited-slip diff were factory options. The racers were fitted with a pair of diff oil coolers located under the car in front of the rear axle.

Cockpit

For Trans-Am duty, all the standard carpet, seating and interior trim were removed except the dash-pad which had a purpose-built instrument panel. A deeply dished sports steering wheel, competition seat with a padded head rest attached to the roll cage and a multi-point harness were used.

There was also an auxilliary switch box on the tunnel and an on-board fire extinguisher system. The rear edge of the driver’s door was secured internally by additional bonnet pin-style clips top and bottom, to ensure the door would not spring open due to impact damage in the heat of battle.

The interior of Moffat’s car after restoration- very much as it left Bud Moore’s (AMC)

‘I entered the 1969 Southern 60 at Sandown and booked passage for myself and the Mustang on a part-passenger, part-cargo aircraft out of New York. The drama started in the air. I’d hopped a plane to make it to JFK International to supervise the loading of the car but we got stuck in a massive mid-air holding pattern. We advanced to fourth landing slot when the pilot came on and said we were low on fuel, and had no option but to divert to Washington.’

‘I arrived in New York late that night to be told the Mustang had already been loaded and would I please take my own seat. I finally persuaded a steward to peep in the hold. He did and reported that there was a big grey car back there that looked like it was going faster than the plane.’

(AMC)

 

Moffat and crew at ‘711’, Mustang early days (AMC)

In Australia..

‘The Trans-Am was delivered to a holding yard and my only way of moving it to the earthern-floor workshop at 711 Malvern Road in a timely fashion was by towing it. I hitched a rope to the front of the world’s most valuable race car and flat towed it behind my Econoline van.

At ‘711’ we examined this beautiful gift for the first time. It was not a Mustang at all. For a start it had been made lightweight by a process of elimination that had stood the test of time throughout race-car development. Fuel tanks were dropped lower and the engine was discretely sunk in its bay to provide a better centre of gravity and even better handling.

We didn’t start the car in the workshop. We’d save that for Sandown.

Peter Thorn painted the Mustang red. Most people assumed it was Coca-Cola’s corporate colours but we weren’t that sophisticated and neither were they. We thought the car looked so good we wanted to paint it Ferrari red.

We arrived at Sandown and our first hit out and the car wouldn’t go. It started with a magnificent crackle and I drove out of the pits, heading for the back straight, when it stuttered and stalled. Back in the pits we went over everything. The electric fuel pump was not getting fuel through to the engine.

That’s when I chased the line all the way from the front to the rear and found under my driver’s seat a surplus of rubber fuel tube tied tightly in a knot. We undid it and shortened it. Fuel flowed and we were away.’

Moffat crew sort the fuel feed problem during those first laps at Sandown- note the TV crew and proximity of the houses. We are on the old pit straight just past the pitlane exit/paddock entry. Moff has his back to us and Peters Corner (AMC)

 

Problem sorted- off we go, no mirror @ this stage, note Coke sponsorship from day 1 (AMC)

‘To say the car created immense interest was an understatement. A guy from Ford arrived and placed a huge blue Ford decal on the car. I politely removed it and replaced it with a discrete white one that I’d brought from the States. A person from Ampol put a sticker on and I left it there because I assumed money or kind would follow. It didn’t.’

‘At its first race meeting, the Mustang won three races out of three. It was going to be something to write home about’, Moffat won the Southern 60 from Terry Allan’s Chev Camaro, Jim McKeown, Lotus Cortina Mk2 and Peter Manton, Morris Cooper S. ‘Mallala, my first round of the ATCC, was a disaster and it was a forebear of the season. The new engine flown in from the States put me on the front row of the grid alongside Jane and Geoghegan. But two laps later it blew when I was challenging Jane for second. When we pulled the engine down we found it to be bog standard. I’d not been sent a racing engine but a completely stock unit’ Moffat related to Smailes.

Sex on wheels- too good to race! In the Sandown paddock on that first May 1969 weekend (SS Auto Memorabilia)

 

Moffat opens the 302’s taps through the kink on Sandown’s back straight looking quite bucolic. Pete Geoghegan at right alongside Terry Allan’s Camaro and Jim McKeown’s Mk2 Lotus Cortina back a bit (unattributed)

‘There’s one word to describe the Mustang’s first season and that’s ‘harrowing’. Seasons two, three and four were better but the Mustang never did win the ATCC, and that’s a cause of immense disappointment to me. In 1969 it never even got on the board, never even scored a point. It even suffered humiliating DNFs and DNS (did not start) in some of the non-championship races. From 1970 to 1972 it cemented its position as one of the most successful and admired cars in the country.’ Checkout this piece on the 1969 ATCC; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

‘In the 23 ATCC races it contested until its forced retirement at the end of the 1972 season, it won 10, finished on the podium another four times, claimed 14 pole positions and set four lap records. It figured in some of the most controversial incidents in the championship, starred in front of the biggest crowd ever at Oran Park and played a lead role in the touring car battle regarded as the best of all times. (Bathurst ATCC round Easter 1972) Yes in the annual title fight, the best it could manage was a second and a third.’

In the US, despite a two team approach Ford was again beaten by Penske in 1969 despite the Mustangs being the quickest cars in the early rounds- they took the first four races. Some of the 302 Trans-Ams were destroyed during the year which dissipated what had been a good start. Ford was said to have cut its Trans-Am budget by as much as 75% in 1970 but Bud Moore’s two car entry of mildly updated 1969 cars finally did the trick- before Ford pulled the pin altogether.

 

Geoghegan from Moffat, Sandown, May 1969- in front but not the way they finished (R Davies)

As I wrote at the outset, this article is about a small period of a long and vastly successful career.

Allan is an icon, a guy we all saw occasionally until quite recently at the circuits keeping an eye on his sons racing career.

He lived close by- it always amused me and warmed my heart to occasionally see him pushing a shopping trolley affectionately around Woolies in Toorak Village behind wife number two, Susan!

In the last couple of years Moff’s battle with Altzheimers Disease and family squabbles over the loot has been made public which is terribly sad, and common though it is, its not the way a lion of the circuits somehow deserves to see out his days.

In that sense John Smailes’ book ‘Climbing The Mountain’, an autobiography he wrote together with Allan ended up being incredibly timely, first published as it in September 2017. He has managed to package up an incredibly interesting and beautifully written story which would simply be impossible now. Do buy it, I bought it in the last week to check some facts and can see how great swags of it have been lifted from it in the sources I found.

Special Vehicles Activity, Advanced Concepts Engineering Activity, Kar-Kraft…

The material below should be the subject of an article on its own titled something like ‘Ford Total Performance: Motor Racing’- a mammoth topic.

For the moment included are some undated Ford Motor Company documents which provide immensely valuable snippets of information about how the FoMoCo organised its ‘Advanced Concepts Engineering’ from a corporate structural perspective.

Whilst the document is undated the models of cars referred to puts it into the early seventies. Clearly the material is internally focussed- it’s the sort of document one puts together at budget and business plan submission time or when seeking to get a company to invest funds in a new activity or direction.

All of the material in this part of the article is from the Fran Hernandez Archive, now deceased, given his senior positions within Ford, the foregoing may well be correct or ‘thereabouts’.

(F Hernandez)

Great shot of Fran and Thunderbird outside Edelbrock- he was Vic Edelbrock’s Machine Shop Foreman circa 1955.

 

Interesting also is this corporate structure document below as it relates to entities which orbit around Kar-Kraft- more interesting would be the overall Ford organisational structure and the way ‘Special Vehicles Activity’ fitted in. If you can enlighten me please do so.

All of these entities were on Ford’s Rouge Complex with Kar-Kraft close by- all of which makes eminent sense for all the obvious reasons. K-K were still in business as late as 1984 when Jack Mountain owned it according to Doug McLean, ‘at that time the workshop was busy with projects for Renault-Elf, AMC, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Plymouth. Chevy, Chrysler and…Ford.’

 

 

 

In the Ford heyday the K-K sites comprised the following; Haggerty, Dearborn 10,000 sq ft including the engineering department, component prototyping, engine build shop- Brighton, Michigan a complete automotive assembly line of 65,000 sq ft spread over 11 acres- the Trans-Am 429s were built on this site. Glenmore, at Glenmore Street and Grand River was (and the plant still is) in Redford, comprised 18,000 sq ft, its focus was the construction and modification of special test and show vehicles. Merriman in Glendale, Livonia was a new factory of 24,000 sq ft housing the vehicle engineering department, it too still exists. Tireman was an engine build and engine engineering facility- this older plant at 8020 Tireman Street, Detroit is still extant also.

 

The Ford ‘Experimental and Sports Prototype Vehicles’ family tree as at 1967, possibly a part of the earlier document but  perhaps not given the difference in end-dates.

Etcetera…

(AMC)

Moffat- second from the right at the rear, Chapman, Clark, the rest of the boys and Lotus 38 Ford after the Indianapolis triumph of 1965.

(AMC)

Victory lap for Moffat, left, at Waterford Hills date uncertain.

(FoMoCo)

Mercury Cougar key team members gather around one of the cars in early 1967- Parnelli Jones, Fran Hernandez, Dan Gurney and Bud Moore.

Allan Moffat and fellow Aussie touring car star Jim McKeown at Daytona in early 1967- they ran a Lotus Cortina with ‘Jim’s most powerful twin-cam in the world’ fitted- the mechanic is Vince Woodfield (Allan Moffat)

Daytona 1968..

 

Sebring 1968..

It can’t be that bad, surely?

Moffat was a pro-racer at a time in Australia where he was competing against racer/businessmen to whom competition was a weekend sport whereas for Moffat it was his business and his demeanour always reflected that- he was easily cast in Australia as the foreign ‘baddie’ given his intense focus on the task at hand- success, to put ‘bread on the table’. He took Australian Citizenship in the early 2000’s.

(D Friedman)

The two Shelby cars in line astern, and below Horst Kwech looking as happy about things as Moffat looks displeased. He forged a great career in the US after cutting his racing teeth in Australia- he grew up in Cooma, in the foothills of the New South Wales alpine country.

The Moffat/Kwech car alongside the Thompson/DeLorenzo Chev Corvette DNF- what a marvellous mixed grid both Daytona and Sebring had that year even if the closing speed differences between some of the cars was most alarming. Still that aspect has never changed in all of these endurance classics.

 

(F Hernandez)

This image and the three below were taken by Fran Hernandez at the same time as the one posted earlier of the ‘302 Trans-Am prototype’ in December 1969

(F Hernandez)

 

(F Hernandez)

 

(F Hernandez)

 

Compare and contrast Boss 302 race and road 5 litre V8s

 

(AMC)

Moffat on the move- Sandown ‘Southern 60’ weekend in May 1969. Many enthusiasts will remember this novel shaped red and white coloured ‘Coke Tent’, he was certainly still using it when I went to my first race meeting- the 1972 Sandown Tasman meeting.

(T Marshall)

At the end of its ‘in period’ life the Trans-Am raced as a sports-sedan but to Moffat’s credit he never butchered the car by relocating the engine/transmission or making changes to its suspension or body structure to give it greater pace – here he and Jim Richards are whistling around Wigram at about 140mph circa 1974- this is a good angle as the ‘Brut 33’ signage cannot be seen, be thankful you cannot smell that pong which I have always likened to ‘Eau de Pine-O-Kleen’ either…

Bibliography…

Milan Fistonic summary of AM career on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, shelbytransam.com, ‘The Making of a Legend’ David Hassall, Boss Registry summary of the 302 Trans-Am technical specifications, ‘Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes & Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicles’, ‘Hot Rod’ magazine article ‘The Story Behind Ford’s Ill-Fated 1968 Tunnel Port 302’, ‘Fast Mustangs’ Alex Gabbard, ‘Allan Moffat: Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat and John Smailes, Auto-Action article ‘Allan Moffat- The Love of a Liftime’

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, ‘AMC’-Allan Moffat Collection, Barry Nelson, Jerry Melton, sebringrace.com, Fran Hernandez Facebook page, Fran Hernandez Collection courtesy of ‘The Roaring Season’, Terry Marshall, Rob Bartholomaeus, Louis Galanos, Dave Friedman Archive, SS Auto Memorabilia

Tailpiece: Monza, Daytona 1975…

Let’s finish where we started- high on the Daytona banking.

Here Moffat is ahead of one of the BMW CSL’s during the final IMSA 1975 series round on 30 November, DNF after just 15 laps.

In late August that year he raced one of Horst Kwech and Lee Dykstra’s Dekon Engineering Monza’s for the first time, co-driving with Kwech in a 500 mile race at Mid-Ohio. Despite mechanical dramas causing a DNF Moff was impressed. He returned to the US in November, after the Sandown and Bathurst endures to run in the IMSA final round using the same chassis he raced at Mid-Ohio- he qualified third but was outted again, this time with fuel injection dramas.

‘No result but it was an eye-opener, it was, Moffat noted of the long banked stretches, the fastest he had ever gone on a race track- the Monza topping out at a mammoth 329kmh!’

‘It was interesting to note how Moffat fared against top Americans, especially those in ostensibly identical DeKon Monzas. Against the likes of Al Holbert, Al Unser Snr and a host of other top American and European aces, and on a banked oval course of which he would have had not much experience, (that bit is not perhaps correct- he did have some experience as we have seen) Moffat looked right at home. When the injection issue halted the car, he had been comfortably ahead of the BMW 3.0 CSL’s and only had the winning Corvette ahead of him’ Auto Action wrote.

Satisfied, Moffat put down his money to acquire this car, chassis #1005, the fifth to roll out of Dekon’s, Libertyville, Illinois ‘shop. He was now the proud owner of a DeKon Monza, by then it was December so the Monza was flown to New Zealand for its first races in the southern hemisphere in Kiwi ‘sports-sedan’ racing that January/February of 1976. The Monza story is one for another time.

Finito…

 

 

 

(B Miles)

Edsel Falconer during the first race outing of a Ford Falcon in Australia- Middle Ridge, Toowoomba, Queensland, during the annual ‘Carnival of Flowers’ weekend, 17 September 1960…

This road circuit through the suburbs of Toowoomba was used in 1958, 1960 and 1961 once a year during a local carnival weekend through the beautiful rolling countryside of Queensland’s Darling Downs district.

Whilst researching his book ‘The Toowoomba Auto Club:1950-1965’ author John Evans was able to re-write history by showing that the first Falcon to race was that of Falconer- son of the Dealer Principal of the Toowoomba Ford Dealership of the same name on 17 September rather than as has hitherto been the orthodoxy- the Falcon XK raced by Bob Jane and Lou Molina to third in Class D of the 1960 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island on 20 November 1960. Edsel placed fourth in the Saloon Car Handicap at Middle Ridge, two places ahead of Bill Pitt’s Jaguar, I wonder who won?

Whilst Edsel Falconer may seem a cute ‘Ford’ nom de guerre in fact it is all kosher- Hugh Falconer started the family business in 1919 with Ford, Fiat and Hupmobile agencies and became an official Ford dealership in 1925- Edsel, one of his sons became the Dealer Principal during the 1960s, the family sold the business circa 1980.

A cursory Trove search doesn’t tell us too much about Edsel ‘a well known Toowoomba motorist’ but there are some references in late 1953 of him rallying/trialling a Ford Customline and plenty in the Brisbane Telegraph and Courier Mail social notes of the many weddings attended and family holidays to Surfers Paradise and other such exotic places. It does not seem that Edsel was one of the regular racers in the area, all information will be gratefully received inclusive of how Edsel’s XK performed at Middle Ridge.

In an address to the Toowoomba Rotarians on 14 November 1955, reported in the St George Shire ‘Balonne Beacon’, Edsel, back from a stint at a ‘Ford Motor School’ in Detroit advised his fellow Queenslanders that ‘Australian’s standards of living, ethics and morals were higher than those of Americans…Americans were earning more and spending more than Australians but as far as getting the joy out of living was concerned, Australians were better off.’

In a note of encouragement to the assembled masses he said that ‘Australia could learn a lot from Americans. Americans would not accept anything but the best quality, and they took every measure to ensure they produced the best possible. There were many leads that could be taken from the Americans’ he said ‘One of the main being to “get up and do things”. I always get a giggle of ‘insights’ after a weeks stay in a place, but today’s smart arse prism is not the way to view things 65 years hence. Edsel was a noted and respected pillar of his local community is the point to be taken.

An immaculate period dull-green Falcon XK has moved into my street recently- it’s a young groovster’s daily driver, it lives on the street at the mercy of all of the local Braille-Parking-Mob mind you- this attractive car got me thinking about Ford Australia’s first manufacturing efforts and early Falcon competition exploits.

Ford Australia was incorporated in 1925, its operations based in the Victorian port city of Geelong, the suburb of Norlane to be precise. For the ensuing decades FoMoCo Oz assembled cars locally from CKD packs- ‘completely knocked down’ Model T’s were first, they were initially chucked together on an improvised production line in a disused wool storage warehouse before Norlane was finished. As the latest Fords were built, so local assembly followed and in many cases local bodies were fitted.

The plant was devoted to wartime production and post-war assembled UK sourced Pilots, the Prefect, Anglia, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac.

In the mid-fifties Ford decided to build cars in Australia and acquired land at Campbellfield on Melbourne’s outskirts. In the same way that generations of Victorians drove past Ford’s Geelong plant, generations of Australians drove past Campbellfield or more colloquially Broadmeadows as the Ford factory- when built the largest automotive plant in the Southern Hemisphere, was on the Hume Highway- the main drag between Melbourne and Sydney.

The ‘contest’ between which bigger Ford would be adapted to local production was won in favour of the US Falcon rather than the UK Zephyr Mk2 when Oz Ford Chief Charlie Smith and some of his senior executives saw the proposed new Falcon on a trip through Dearborn in late 1958.

In period FoMoCo advertising art of the XK Falcon

 

Ford Broadmeadows, Oz built car #1 – VIN# folks?

Without doubt they made the right choice- the Falcon was light-years ahead in appearance over the then Holdens, whose underpinnings went back to those of the 48-215 and the Zephyr, but whilst the Falcon XK- first car built on 28 June 1960 and on sale from 11 September that year looked the goods on paper ‘The Falcon was designed without any consideration whatsoever of Australia’s demanding conditions’ wrote Dr John Wright and Dave Morley.

The call to build the Falcon was a late one and meant the US car did not have the local design input/testing to adapt it to the very tough extremes of local conditions and very quickly support from private and fleet buyers plummeted because of problems with front ball joints which failed without leaving suburbia, rust, transmission and other weaknesses.

68,413 of the XK model were sold between 1960 and 1962 with the XL, released on 4 August 1962 incorporating a new three speed manual gearbox and clutch, a better starter motor and changes to the front sheet-metal to strengthen the front suspension mounts.

Whilst objectively the durability of the Falcon was not a real issue after the XM (released 20 February 1964) nor a perceived one after the XP (released 20 February 1965) the reputational damage in 1960-1961 was such that the competition program had a big part to play in both proving the performance and strength of the big Fords and to provide the production engineers with feedback they could incorporate into future models or routine running production line changes.

In late 1960 two privately entered Falcon XK’s contested the first Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island- on 20 November, a couple of months after Falconer’s Middle Ridge race.

Bob Jane and renowned Melbourne racer/hotelier/restautanteur/raconteur Lou Molina shared one entered by Jane’s ‘Autoland’ dealership with another raced by the equally experienced and credentialed Ron Phillips and Ern Seeliger. Jane and Molina were third in Class D with 161 completed laps despite Lou rolling the car! The first in that class and ‘first outright’ was the John Roxburgh/Frank Coad crewed Vauxhall Cresta with another pair of coming stars- John French and Norm Beechey aboard a Standard Vanguard second in class D. The other XK of Phillips and Seeliger were out early in the race with an overheating engine.

 

Now back on four wheels, the boys set Lou Molina back towards the Pits whilst the restauranteur contemplates a line of patter for car owner and co-driver RF Jane Esq, waiting to greet him. P Island 500 1960, Falcon XK

Harry Firth was already a racer/preparer/engineer of renown by the time Ford’s Competitions Manager, Les Powell first involved him with Ford- that fruitful partnership over the ensuing years yielded countless race and rally wins not least four Bathurst 500’s, 1968 Australian Rally Championship and the prestigious Teams Prize of the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon. Click here for a background piece on Harry; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/29/harry-firths-mg-tc-spl-s-c/

Whether Firth was engaged by Ford prior to the first rally contested by the new Falcon- the 1961 BP Rally centred in the Victorian Alps is unclear but four Falcons and six Anglia 105E’s entered the Light Car Club of Australia’s annual classic event. Amongst Harry’s competition activities at the time Les Powell and Max Ward approached him were race and rallying a Ford Anglia. ‘Unofficially this (’61 BP Rally) was the beginning of Ford’s participation in rallying at a factory level, a participation which was to continue spasmodically for over four decades’ Rallysport Magazine wrote.

The Falcons went very well too- Jack Ellis was second, Ken Harper thirteenth, Doug Hughes nineteenth and Jack Nalder twenty-ninth, on top of that Peter Coffey’s Anglia was third outright.

Powell then threw Firth in at the deep end- the nascent subsidiary of Ford’s Global Empire had decided to have a crack at the East African Safari with no less than five Falcons to be prepared, run and crewed out of Firth’s modest Queens Avenue, Auburn, Melbourne ‘Temple of Speed’.

The whole of the East African Safari Rally 3000 mile route was (and is) run on public roads and involved two legs separated by a 24 hour break out of Nairobi, the start and finishing point. The North Leg took in North Kenya and Uganda whilst the South bit went around South Kenya and Tanzania. The Safari took place over Easter, a time when the rainy-season gets underway with the main cause of retirement usually an abundance of Murrum mud- when dry this brown earth is hard, dusty and bumpy and incredible muddy and sticky when wet.

Given the challenge Harry didn’t think much of the equipment at all.

‘Ford wanted to get into competition to prove its car, the Falcon was capable of handling it…But that first XK Falcon – 144 cubic inch (2.4 litre 90bhp) engine, three speed gearbox was really a terrible car. You could do very little with the engine, the body flexed heavily and it had sloppy springs- all you could do was just set the Armstrong shockers rock-hard. The brakes were just adequate with race linings and the front hubs broke under race conditions. The steering had 5.5 turns lock to lock- just impossible for racing conditions.’

‘We made and tested the five Falcons and sent them off to Africa. We fixed the hubs, made stronger wheels and did some work on the axle shafts and the gearbox. Even then the cars were very fragile. It was the worst type of car you could take to an event like that. We had to virtually carry them around on our backs. We said to ourselves “we’re not going to break it”- if we think its too hard on the car then we’ll back off.’

The five cars were crewed by the following pairings; Harry Firth /Graham Hoinville, Ken Harper/Les Scott, Jack Ellis/Mal McPherson, Doug Hughes/Rex Lewis, Geoff Russell/Dick Collinwood.

Harper/Scott XK Falcon during the Safari, place unknown (unattributed)

 

Before the off at Nairobi- one of the XK Falcons in shot (unattributed)

 

Harper/Scott at roadside, whilst the styling may be pedestrian now it was edgy in period (M Tufte)

Before the rally, the complete route was surveyed using rented Ford Zephyrs, the rally cars having not yet landed from Australia.

All of the cars faced problems of course, first-timers as they were but the Firth/Hoinville combination ran as high as eighth before a rear spring broke dropping them to sixteenth with Ken Harper/Les Scott also finishers but they ran out of late time.

Firth was later quoted as saying that had the car been fitted with the optional 170cid engine and Armstrong shockers (the earlier quote implies they were fitted) ‘we’d have won’ and ‘Graham Hoinville and I were placed seventh only 300 miles from the finish when we broke a main rear spring plate in a competitive section. That dropped us back to 16th but we still finished 25 minutes ahead on the English factory Fords.’

‘The way the cars performed earned me a contract with Ford for competition. This was really the start of my association with Ford and the first step into The Big Time- although I was still doing work for others’ Firth was quoted in an Australian Muscle Car magazine piece on the East African Safari.

Winners of the tough event were the Tommy Fjastad/Bernhard Schmider VW 1200- Ford Australia were pipped in the Australian race-within-a-race in that a locally entered Holden EK driven by HS Sembi/C Mehta finished fourteenth.

In fact the Aussies blazed the trail for the Falcon as a rally machine- within six months Detroit announced that they would mount a three car campaign in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally- Bo Ljungfeldt finished second in an American spec V8 engined two-door Falcon Futura.

Ford Australia were enthusiastic rally competitors for the ensuing early years mainly contesting events in New South Wales and Victoria, the first Australian Rally Championship was not held until 1968- Harry Firth won it in a Lotus Cortina Mk2 (or supercharged Cortina Mk2 or both cars depending upon the reference source) with Graham Hoinville alongside, as usual,

Harry Firth ‘splashing through a wet patch on the track in the Alps…on its way to the Knocker Track, a ten mile stretch of boulder-strewn track which runs down the mountain between Glen Wills and Omeo in Victoria. Used nearly a century ago as a bullock track it has never been used by cars until its inclusion on the route of the BP Rally 1-5 May 1963’

Firth’s Falcon won the May 1963 BP Rally ‘Australias toughest reliability event’ over 2000 miles and in a great weekend Ford won three of the event’s four classes. Using the same car, Frank Kilfoyle partnered by Michael Flanagan won the Melbourne University Car Club’s July 1963 Akademos Trial and a couple of weeks later the Experts Reliability Trial.

Earlier in the year- March, Ford attacked the Begonia Rally, based in the Central Victorian town of Ballarat, with a team of three Cortinas, two Falcons and a 105E Anglia. RallySport wrote in relation to the Cortinas, that ‘Ever on the ball, Firth got the jump on the rest of the world by sourcing a pair of the soon to be released 1500cc motors, six months before official release and fitted them to his own car and that of Geoff Russell’, the cars took the first two placings ‘stunning the rest of the field with their performance. Ford virtually had a car for any occasion- the Cortinas won, Falcons and Anglias filled major placings, and their were five Fords in the top ten and 10 in the first sixteen.’

In 1964 Ford were again successful in the BP Rally when the Ford Falcon driven by Ken Harper/Michael Flanagan triumphed over a big field which included the Firth driven Ford Cortina GT which won the 1963 Bathurst 500 in the hands of Bob Jane and Harry- Firth was fifth outright and second in class after a number of penalties.

At the end of 1962 Firth advised Ford that the Falcon had no hope of winning the new ‘Bathurst 500’  but that they had a ‘ready made’ winner in the Cortina GT. The race had been transferred to the great Mount Panorama track after the Phillip Island surface was destroyed to such an extent that the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club could not afford to repair it. Help arrived in the form of Len Lukey to get the Island re-opened when the club sold the place, but lets not chase that tangent and go back to look at the circuit racing of 1961-1962 where we started, before we headed off to rallying.

Harry Firth and Graham Hoinville in the winning 1964 Ampol Trial Cortina GT- looking like a couple of country squires with their flat-caps, its cold out there (unattributed)

 

Bob Jane and Harry Firth with the 1962 Phillip Island 500 winning Ford Falcon XL. ACL is ‘Automotive Components Ltd’ then a Repco subsidiary making rings, bearings etc

 

The Harper/Fisher/Raeburn Falcon XK during the 1962 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island – great value @ 1065 pounds!

The 1961 Armstrong 500 (as in shock absorbers) was held on 19 November 1961 and was a much smaller affair- 26 cars entered rather than the 45 contestants in 1960 as a consequence of the ‘1961 Credit Squeeze’.

The Australian Government ended import licensing in February 1960 causing the balance of payments crisis predicted by Treasury, in November 1960 Prime Minister Menzies increased sales tax and imposed credit restrictions to bring the economy back into balance causing a credit squeeze and minor recession. The economy stopped abruptly, consumers reacted accordingly and popped their wallets away with plenty of consequences across our society not least in the motor industry when plenty of highly geared businesses ‘went to the wall’ as new and used car sales plummeted. Entries, back on point (!) in the 1961 500 reflected all of this- I did an Economics degree eons ago so this shit interests me. sadly…

Bob Jane had Harry Firth preparing both his Maserati 300S sportscar and Jaguar Mk2 Appendix J tourer at the time, they decided upon a Mercedes Benz 220SE as their weapon of choice for the 1961 Armstrong and with a typically fast, disciplined drive ‘won’ the race completing 167 laps- they were first in Class B and ‘first outright’. Note that the first outright notion was not officially recognised until 1965- until that point, officially at least, the first five 500 mile races at the Island and Bathurst had awards for each class winners.

Only one Falcon XK was entered that year and is described in some sources as a ‘pseudo works entry’- it was actually entered by Ken Harper and co-driven by Syd Fisher and John Raeburn all of whom were or would become ‘Ford works drivers’ in the coming years. It would be interesting to know who prepared this Falcon, presumably Firth.

There was a great class battle between the Ford and an EK Holden crewed by Ian Strachan and John Lanyon (of PIARC and Ansett Team Elfin fame) and entered by Stan Jones Motors Pty Ltd (I wonder why Stanley did not drive- maybe these dull ‘Taxis’ were not his cup of tea?!) – the Holden led until it lost a wheel and was later disqualified because the team cannibalised another car for a wheel rather than use an item from their pit supplies as required by the supplementary regulations- the XK Falcon was second in Class B and seventh ‘outright’.

Despite the depressed state of the Australian economy and the ‘own goals’ Ford Australia faced they pressed on with their motorsport program for 1962 in an ongoing effort to build the Ford brand in Australia.

Sunlight ahead included the XL Falcon due for release on August 4 which (as stated earlier) incorporated changes to the gearbox and clutch and to the front structure of the car which would make it torsionally a bit stiffer and a more powerful ‘Pursuit’ 170cid or 2.8 litre 101bhp six-cylinder OHV engine. In addition the Cortina would soon appear which remained a small car or mid-size hit on the local sales charts until Mazda, Toyota and Datsun progressively gained traction from the mid-sixties.

Whilst the rallying program continued, Ford planned to race a new XL in the 500 at the Island on 21 October and in addition decided, wisely, to contest the ‘Bathurst Six Hour Classic’ to be held only three weeks before on 30 September 1962- the catch was that Ford didn’t want to race the XL at Mount Panorama so Firth set about preparing an XK Falcon for the race which attracted 49 cars across six price based classes or ‘divisions’ ranging from under 900 pounds (Morris 850, Ford Anglia, Datsun Bluebird etc) to under 2000 pounds (Daimler SP 250, Triumph TR4 and MGA twin-cam).

Firth takes up the story in terms of car preparation ‘Having not been to Bathurst for some years, I had to rely on hearsay information like “no, it is not hard on brakes and the circuit has not changed”. I did all the usual things such as a valve grind, compression check, set the camshaft properly, gave the pistons plenty of clearance, deck-heighted the head and put the engine on the dyno.’

‘I fitted a set of heavy Armstrong shockers and some well-worn springs. I made up some Ferodo brake shoes but ended up leaving them at home, thinking they wouldn’t be needed. I drove the car to Bathurst myself. Practice proved two things: the car was the fastest sedan and the brakes were not good enough.’

Jane/Firth Falcon XK being followed by the K John/Peter Caldecoat MGA 1600 DNF- Bathurst 6 Hour 1962

 

Just needs a turret I guess…Firth’s rooted Falcon XK at Bathurst in 1962 (Shannons)

Whilst there was no outright winner of the race (consistent with the line to that effect earlier) up front the Brothers Geoghegan- Leo and Ian rumbled around in their Daimler SP250 V8 to finish first ‘outright’ with 104 laps completed, meanwhile trouble brewed for the Jane/Firth combination in the under 1250 pound Division C inhabited by a Morris Cooper, two Austin Freeways, two Holdens (model unknown), a Peugeot 403 and the works XK Falcon.

The two wily Melbourne racers led their class early, but the brakes were progressively showing plenty of signs of stress with the pedal creeping inexorably closer to the floor- Harry took over from Bob after a scheduled stop and then on lap 39 ‘As he braked for Hell Corner, the fronts suddenly over-energised and locked on, the nose dug in and the car rolled’ the roof was crushed making the machine as ‘flat as a shit-carters hat’- Harry was extremely lucky he was not badly hurt- the car had no roll bar or cage of course, the racer exited via a rear window as fuel spilt over the tarmac, but did not ignite.

‘Our race was over…I just kept thinking about the special brake linings I left at home and the lesson i’d just learned that you should never listen to “experts”. All of which, I reckon is a load of crap- Firth knew full well Bathurst hadn’t changed since he last been there and if he had the trick Ferodo brake shoes sitting in Queens Avenue in Melbourne he would have taken them with him…the mistake was his not ‘the experts’- he was the expert for chrissakes. Bob Jane had raced his Maserati 300S in the October 1961 Bathurst meeting, no doubt Harry had plenty of intell from Jane to say the Mount Panorama challenge had remained undiminished since 1938…

For the record, Division C was won by the Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland (the 1968 Bathurst 500 winning duo of course) Morris Cooper with 95 laps from the two Austin Freeways whilst second and third outright behind the Geoghegans were the C Lansdowne/Holt Binnie Triumph TR4 on 100 laps and Don Algie/Kingsley Hibbard Studebaker Lark with 99 completed laps.

Upon return from Bathurst Firth completed his preparation of the new XL Falcon Pursuit which was a much more competitive proposition in the price based class structure than its predecessor, the machine was ‘The model as supplied to the police- larger engine, better wheels, otherwise the same as the standard 144’ the body was a lot better ‘So it was vastly improved but still not very good.’

Bob I think- 1962 PI 500, Falcon XL heading past a copse of trees on the run towards Lukey Heights (autopics.com)

 

1962 P Is 500, Le Mans start, the Class B group from left to right- #27 Lott Falcon, #26 Callaway Falcon, the #24 Lex Davison/John Brindley/Phil Trueman Austin Freeway, # 25, #20 and #21 Falcons of Caelli, Harper and Firth respectively (unattributed)

 

Firth/Jane during the ’62 500 and going inside Doug Whiteford/Lou Molina VW1200, a couple of aces, Whiteford thrice AGP winner the -extent of damage to the track surface clear

The race turned out to be the last ‘500’ at the Island such was the state of the circuit at the end of the weekend, the poorly maintained ‘patchwork quilt’ surface took an extra battering due to the large entry of cars and private practice in the week leading up to the race.

The Oz economy had turned to the extent that 42 cars took the start including eight in Class B for cars priced under 1250 pounds including five Falcon XL’s two of which were Ford’s first official works entries crewed by Firth/Jane and Harper/Raeburn/Fisher. In addition privateer entries were raced by Alan Caelli/J Edwards/John Bodinar, John Callaway/Frank Porter/Jim Smith and Kevin Lott/Tom Roddy/Brian Devin. In a race when nothing less than victory would do, Ford also entered a Zephyr Mk3 in Class A (cars less than 2000 pounds) which was driven by Geoff Russell/David Anderson- class winners in the two previous Island 500 contests.

Drama was provided for Firth on either the Thursday or Friday (again accounts differ) when he rolled the car on the perilous surface and had to be taken back to Auburn to be re-shelled overnight! In the event, much more competitive than the two previous years, the Fords rumbled around with great speed and regularity to finish first to fourth in Class B and 1-3-4-6 outright- the Firth car won from the Harper, Caelli and Callaway Falcons.

Somewhat ironically the only spanner in the works could have been provided by the works Zephyr (different class of course) which was of a much nicer, higher specification (power, four speed ‘box, front disc brakes) and potentially the winner but for bonnet latches failing and losing that crew many laps, ultimately a combination of tape and ropes did the trick but not before vast slabs of time were lost. Perhaps Karma kicked in though as Ford needed an emphatic Falcon win so they could ‘promote the shitter out of’ which they duly achieved, and that is what transpired.

From that point Ford’s race competition focus for the next couple of years was on the Cortina GT (1964 Bathurst win to Jane/George Reynolds) and Harry’s ‘homologation special’ Mk1 GT500 (1965 Bathurst win in the hands of Bo Seton/Midge Boswell) before FoMoCo factory missed the 1966 race and returned with a Falcon vengeance from 1967 with Australia’s own first Pony-Car the V8 XR Falcon GT which won at the Mountain in the hands of, you guessed it, Harry Firth and Fred Gibson. This period are stories for other times.

Lets not forget where it all started though- the very basic 144cid, OHV, single carb straight-six, drum braked, 5.5 turns lock to lock, wheezy, floppy XK Falcon the development wrongs of which nearly beached the company before it got outta the water to muddle the metaphors…

Firth teamed up with John Raeburn in the Falcon-Mobil Reliability Run, this red XP Hardtop was fitted with 200cid six ‘Super Pursuit’ engine- car severely damaged by another driver late in the run but was patched up and was still running at the finish (FoMoCo)

Afterthought…

As you Ford buffs well and truly know the blue oval boys were not out of the financial woods in Australia until after the legendary 70,000 mile nine day late April 1965 ‘Falcon-Mobil’ Reliability Run.

This high-speed, ‘big-balls’, all or nothing endurance test idea of new Sales and Marketing Manager and later CEO Bill Bourke involving a veritable football-team of drivers and six XP Falcons (five and a spare) of varying specifications all of which was managed by Les Powell and brought together by the Firth Emporium in Auburn.

It too, is a story for another time, the scene, Ford’s You-Yangs Proving Grounds, 50 km south-west of Melbourne.

All observers noted just how tough the You Yangs course was- the 1 in 4 hill was the trickiest bit at night and at sunset in particular. The climb was started at 80mph and crested at circa 65mph turning sharpish left (FoMoCo)

Wheels magazine said an ‘…average of 72mph on a dreadfully difficult circuit which makes Lakeside look like a roller skating rink’ was a considerable achievement.

The cars were prepared, as noted, by Firth, an army of mechanics were marshalled by John Sheppard (then with the Geoghegan Brothers) and the huge roster of drivers included Harry Firth, John Raeburn, Pete Geoghegan, Kevin Bartlett, Fred Gibson, Bo Seton, Bruce McPhee, Barry Arentz, John Roxburgh, Allan Moffat, Max Volkers, Brian ‘Brique’ Reed, Bill McLachlan, Clive Millis, Max Stahl and many others- Ford called for reinforcements during the nine-day run, the challenge of the course meant driver rotations needed to be relatively short- lets see if we can create a complete list of the steerers folks…

(unattributed)

What next chief? seems to be the communal stance!

 

Etcetera…

 

Ford went into print bigtime after the April 1965 Endurance Run which grabbed heaps of media coverage for a week whilst being run (FoMoCo)

 

Western Herald, Bourke 16 February 1962

Even though this ‘Australia taking on the world’ pursuit must have been a reasonably big deal at the time there seems to have been minimal press about it- a pity as the detail about the destiny of each Falcon in the event would be interesting to know.

 

 

(unattributed)

The Ken Harper/Les Scott XK sets off on an amazing East African adventure.

 

(unattributed)

The Geoff Russell/Dick Collinwood XK and what is probably a reasonable representation of the primary colour of the Murran clay roads of East Africa- car looks ok in this shot to the extent that we can see it but was a DNF.

 

The Firth/Hoinville Falcon XK cruising through the streets of  Nairobi on the way to the serious stuff.

Bibliography…

‘Ford’s Australian Rally History’ in RallySport September 2020, Australian Muscle Car magazine, Wheels July 1965, ‘Shannons’ Falcon XK article by Mark Oastler, ‘Balonne Beacon’ 24 November 1955, various newspapers via Trove

Photo Credits…

Bill Miles via Quentin Miles, Mark Tufte, autopics.com, Bruce Wells, Ian K, Shannons

Tailpiece…

(B Wells)

Firth/Jane Falcon XK on the exit of Hell Corner for the run up Mountain Straight during the 1962 Bathurst 6 Hour Classic- the look of these Series Production cars of the period is only ruined by shitty steel wheels- handsome car.

Finito…

(M Bishop)

Frank Gardner is so far ahead of the pack, you can see the smile upon his face, Chev Corvair Sports Sedan, Hume Weir, 1977…

Once FG got this thing sorted, which wasn’t long, he used to piss-orf into the distance which was rather a shame as even open-wheeler nutters like me loved Sports Sedans- how could you not?

I was lucky enough to see the car coming together in the garages at Calder which I used to frequent quite a lot in 1975 as a student of the ‘Bob Jane/Frank Gardner Race Driving School’ whose Elfin 620B Formula Fords were garaged next door.

Using plenty of bits from the Lola parts bin with which Gardner was so familiar it was always going to be quick- as close to an F5000 spaceframe Lola in drag as possible, limited only by 10 inch wide rims which must have made putting 500 injected Chevy-neddies to the ground tricky.

Gardner from Alan Hamilton, Porsche 934 (M Bishop)

The car made its debut at Oran Park in August 1976, coming second in the first Australian Sports Sedan title that year despite contesting only three rounds. Moffat won that year using both his Ford Capri RS3100 and new Chevy Monza- he started the season in the Chevy Monza, then put it to one side when his commercial relationship with Ford was sorted for the ensuing couple of years- the Monza ‘disappeared’ for about three years didn’t it?!

Whilst FG ran the car at Oran Park he didn’t race for points nor was he allowed to impede the progress of other cars- the machine fell foul of the scrutineers who deemed its rear-guard radiator ducting was illegal, however the car was allowed to run with a temporary logbook in order that the fans- who had come along in droves, could see it.

Gardner missed the next Wanneroo round whilst the car was changed to comply with the regulations and then won the final three rounds at Adelaide International, Symmons Plains and Calder on the trot, albeit the final two wins were with Moffat absent- he had already wrapped up the title and did not enter those meetings.

In 1977 Frank won five of seven rounds then in 1978 Allan Grice took over the Corvair’s hot-seat upon Gardner’s retirement from driving. He won four of the seven rounds and tied in the point-score with Jim Richards’ Ford Falcon XC Hardtop.

Grice made good in 1979 winning the title and three of nine rounds, but that was it- rule changes which would have forced the re-engineering of the car to place the Chev V8 behind the gearbox, as in the standard Corvair, rather than in front of it as the racer meant the machines reign as the class ‘car to beat’ was over.

Alan Hamilton delighted us all with so many yummy factory race Porkers over the years didn’t he?! Porsche 934, Hume Weir 1977 (M Bishop)

The events at Hume Weir pictured must have been some sort of Formula Libre event or match race as there is no way Alan Hamilton’s factory Group 4 Porsche 934 was Sports Sedan legal- CAMS ‘rained on Porsche’s Sports Sedan parade’ from 1976 didn’t they, banishing the cars to the Sportscar ranks?

So, who won on this particular Hume Weir weekend folks?- i’ve my money on FG.

The Corvair was an awesome car to watch, a classic example of brilliant conceptual thinking and execution, I remember it clearly at Winton in 1979 for the last time- I was trundling around in a Formula Vee at that stage and shared participation at that meeting with the beast. The 934 too was a formidable weapon, winning the Australian Sportscar Championship for Hamilton in 1977 (joint first place with John Latham’s Carrera RSR) and in Allan Moffat’s hands in 1980, with another 934 owned by Bruce Spicer taking the title and driven by John Latham in 1981.

The Corvair didn’t survive did it? All the goodies were removed when the rules were changed to effectively ban it and the rest was dumped at the tip. I do recall Melbourne’s Bruce Harris owning the Hamilton 934 and using it at club level for some years after it’s heyday, its still in Oz and is now part of the Bowden Collection.

Wodonga boy Harry Lefoe’s Hillman Imp Ford V8 was truly wild- Ford Cobra V8, ZF and later DG300 Hewland box with much of the engineering done by ‘Head Mod’s John Bennett- many will remember this Doncaster Road, Doncaster institution. The car was far from crude with wishbone front, and de Dion rear suspension but was handicapped by the short wheelbase and track of the amazing roller skate. First raced in September 1970, here with wing at Oran Park in 1971, it died at Sandown in the late seventies when rolled by Neil West who was driving it for John Bennett who by then owned it (L Hemer)

Arcane and Tangentially…

Sports Sedans went from the province of the ‘impecunious enthusiast’ building a big engined, lightweight racer ‘at home’ to the big league from 1973 when the Australian Touring Car categories were changed in the wake of the ‘Supercar Scare’, remember that press feast about high-powered ‘Bathurst cars’ in the hands of young drivers?

A new Group C Touring Cars category replaced Group C Improved Production Touring Cars and Group E Series Production Touring Cars to contest both the Australian Touring Car Championship and Manufacturers Championship respectively. As Australian enthusiasts well know, until that point the ATCC was the province of the Improved Tourers and the Manufacturers Championship- the Bathurst 500 the best known of these events, was run for showroom stock or Series Production cars.

Peter Brock and his legendary Austin A30 Holden, here at Hume Weir in late December 1968 (D Simpson)

 

One of the prettiest, cleverest and winningest earlier seventies Sports Sedans of them all was the marriage of a redundant Repco Brabham Engines RB620/720 SOHC, injected 4.4 litre V8 into an LC Holden Torana GTR-XU1 shell. The whole lot was road trimmed, a great promotional tool for Holden/Jane’s organisation. Later prostituted by Frank Gardner by fitment of a 5 litre Chev F5000 motor- shell extant but all entreaties by the original car builder John Sheppard to the current owner to sell and restore to Repco form have so far been rebuffed. John Harvey up at Oran Park in 1971 (unattributed)

Old Group C Improved Production Touring, enormously popular and the class to which the ATCC had been contested since 1965 as mentioned above was dumped- which meant a lot of seriously good gear was looking for a home in 1973 and found it in a new class.

CAMS finally gave formal recognition to ‘Sports Racing Closed’ or more colloquially ‘Sports Sedans’ creating ‘Group B Sports Sedans’. Funnily enough the origins of Sports Sedans in the sixties was an earlier CAMS rule change.

CAMS changed the ATCC eligibility regs from ‘Appendix J Touring Cars’ to ‘Group C Improved Production Touring Cars’ from 1965 which, similarly to the situation outlined above in relation to the 1973 rule change, released many then ineligible cars which were looking for a new home. Promoters of some circuits, Oran Park and Winton for example allowed these Appendix J escapees to run with Sports Cars under the name ‘Sports Racing Closed’ providing some amusing photographs of ostensibly weird combinations of cars on circuit at the same time.

I missed Pete in his Mustang heyday but I was a beliver seeing him twiddle the wheel of this thing and the Reg Mort 911. Another great bit of John Sheppard engineering, Holden Monaro GTS350 Chev, two Hewland boxes, here in 1976, the other car is Pat Crea’s Ford Cortina V8 (B Keys)

 

Leo Geoghegan from an obscured Jim McKeown, both in Porsche 911 RS 2.8 spec, Calder December 1974 (B Keys)

Back to 1973- simultaneously with the rule changes to create ‘Sports Sedans’ formally, the prize money on offer by ‘Toby Lee’ shirts at Oran Park and Marlboro at Calder for Sports Sedans meant some serious dudes with plenty of money applied their brains to this ‘almost anything goes’ form of touring car categories.

It got me thinking (as an open-wheeler and sportscar devotee mind you) of what the ‘influential or creatively clever and not necessarily successful ‘ Sports Sedans were of this period. Here goes with car, driver and builder…

1967 Austin A30 Holden, Peter Brock- car builder attribution?

1970 Hillman Imp Ford V8, Harry Lefoe- Lefoe, John Bennett Head Mod

1971 Holden Torana Repco ‘620/720 Series’ V8, Bob Jane- John Harvey (later in Chev engined form Frank Gardner) John Sheppard

1972 Alfa Romeo GTAm Tipo 33 2.5 V8, Brian Foley- Auto Delta, Foley and his team

1973 Porsche 911 2.8, various drivers, not so much clever as readily available if one had the readies

1974 Valiant Charger Repco Holden F5000 V8- John McCormack, Elfin Sportscars, McCormack, Dale Koenneke

1975 VW Fastback Chev V8, Bryan Thomson- Thomson and Peter Fowler

1975 Porsche 911- mid-engined 2.1 Turbo, Jim McKeown- Porsche Cars Australia

1975 Ford Capri RS3100, Allan Moffat- FoMoCo Europe

1975 Holden Monaro GTS 350 V8, Pete Geoghegan- John Sheppard

1976 Chev Corvair Chev V8, Frank Gardner- Gardner, John Anderson, Tom Nailard

1976 Chev Monza IMSA V8, Allan Moffat- DeKon Engineering USA

Allan Moffat’s Chev Monza IMSA spec DeKon Engineering built car at Sandown in 1976 with 4 July 200 year bi-centenary celebration signage carried that weekend (R Davies)

 

Bryan Thomson VW Chev from John McCormack Valiant Charger Repco and Bob Jane Holden Monaro Chev, Calder December 1974 (B Keys)

Its not a complete, list just an ‘influential, creatively clever and not necessarily successful’ one. I’ve thought of and discarded the Improved Tourer escapees such as Moffat’s Mustang and Jane’s Monaro (successful as a Sports Sedan), the Holden Dealer Team Torana LC/LJ and LH bolides, Goss XA GT and others but I’m interested in your thoughts, after all i’m a poncy open-wheeler guy not a meat n’ spuds Touring Car dude, so what would I know? Treat the Sports Sedan early year cut-off as circa 1976, I know there was plenty of good stuff which came later but that is outside the scope of this article.

Moffat upon his ex-works Ford Capri RS3100 debut in Australia, Sandown Tasman meeting 1975 (B Keys)

 

Jim McKeown in Porsche Cars Australia Porsche 911 2.1 turbo Group 4 mid-engined car with lots of 908 suspension bits front and rear. What became of this beastie after it’s 1 year Sports Sedan career? Hume Weir 1975 (B Keys)

 

Luscious. Brian Foley’s Alfa GTAm T33 2.5 V8 pokin’ its head out of the bonnet, Warwick Farm Causeway in 1973 (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Mark Bishop, Bruce Keys, Lynton Hemer, Robert Davies, Dick Simpson

Tailpiece: Gardner awaits the off at Hume Weir, sinfully purposeful, it not pretty from every angle…

(M Bishop)

Finito…

(M de Lang)

No Australian racer comes close to owning and racing as many interesting cars as Bob Jane…

The tough nut from Brunswick developed a used car business initially, and shortly thereafter took on new car franchises before creating ‘specialist tyre retailing’ in this country- Bob Jane T-Marts are as iconic now as they were novel in the late sixties when Jane initially rolled the arm over with what was a new concept here.

Bob was the embodiment of ‘living life to the full’, he did not die guessing. Calder Park’s owner collected wives with as much enthusiasm as he did racing cars but found that they are not as easy to unload as last years Holden, the complications of his various ‘families’ screwed the later decades of his life comprehensively, which was a great shame as someone who gave much to many.

Big hitters. Niel Allen, Bob Jane and Frank Matich in Matich’s Firestone Racing Tyres tent at Sandown, circa 1967/8 at a guess. The vented guard belongs to Bob’s Elfin 400 Repco (M Kyval)

I’m not suggesting the man was perfect i might add, but in a motor racing sense he put far more into the sport than he ever took out.

This series of paintings were commissioned of Martin de Lang to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Bob and Harry Firth’s Ford Cortina GT, Bathurst 500 win in 1963. I’ve set them more or less in the chronological order Bob raced them, there were plenty more Jane owned racing cars than this though, check out the list at the end of the article.

The painting at the article’s outset shows Bob’s Maserati 300S in front of his great mate, Lou Molina’s Molina Monza Holden-Repco from Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and then Bill Pitt’s Jaguar D Type at Albert Park on 23 November 1958- Bob and Lou are about to be lapped by the other duo during the 32 lap, circa 100 mile Victorian Tourist Trophy won by Whiteford from Ron Phillips’ Cooper Jaguar and Pitt, Bob was fifth and Lou unplaced.

(K Drage)

In the beginning.

Kevin Drage’s shot of Bob is at Fishermans Bend on the race debut of his ex-works 300S ‘3059’ in October 1958. Doug Whiteford and Jane (in Bob’s case after Reg Smith had it briefly first) acquired the Officine Maserati cars raced by Jean Behra ‘3055’, and Stirling Moss ‘3059’ during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix/Australian Tourist Trophy weekends in late 1956.

Bob was initially rough and ready in it, even inspiring Reg Hunt to move his boat further out into Albert Park Lake to keep it out of harms way- he did get the hang of this racing caper mind you. Stephen Dalton’s first competition outing for Bob Jane, he believes, was in a Ford Customline at Hepburn Springs hillclimb in October 1956. See here for an article on the 300S;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

(B Jane)

Another shot of Bob at Albert Park on the same weekend depicted in the opening painting. In a decade of stunningly beautiful racing cars as curvaceous as Sophia Loren, surely the 300S is up there for the title of the prima-donna sportscar of the fifties?

 

(M de Lang)

Jane’s locally developed Appendix J Jaguar Mk2, ultimately raced at 4.1 litres, won his first couple of Australian Touring Car Championships (ATCC) in the days the title was decided in one race- in 1962 at Longford and 1963 at Mallala.

See the article here about the car; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/20/australian-touring-car-championship1962-longford-tasmania-battle-of-the-jag-mk2s/

Warwick Farm circa 1962 (J Psaros)

 

(M de Lang)

The factory Jaguar E Type Lightweight didn’t make a lot of sense given the way it fitted into our local class structure at the time, and given the lack of endurance events in Australia of the type for which the car was built, but who can argue with the beauty and spectacle it provided all the same. Mind you, Bob did win the one race Australian GT Championship at Calder in December 1963, I rather suspect 10 miles could not really be characterised as an endurance event.

This machine, like Bob’s 300S and D Type, he retained for decades but was ultimately sold, global cars that they are- all left Australia, which is a bummer.

(B Miles)

Spencer Martin with the white helmet in hand, John Sawyer and Bob leaning on the delicate aluminium panels of his car at Lakeside before the start of a heat of the Australian Tourist Trophy in 1965- Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra is on the row behind. See here for a piece on Bob’s E Types, he had a couple, as one does; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/15/perk-and-pert/

 

(M de Lang)

Whilst Jane raced single seaters and won in sportscars he was most formidable in all types of touring cars from Series Production machines such as the Cortina GT in which he won at Bathurst in 1963 together with Harry Firth, through to the animal savagery of the Chev Monza Sports Sedan shown further on.

The Jane/Firth pair won three of these 500 mile production car enduros on the trot, the first was the 1961 Armstong 500 at Phillip Island aboard an ‘Autoland’ Mercedes Benz 220SE-they then followed up in a ‘works’ Ford Falcon XL in 1962.

 

Harry Firth behind the wheel of the winning Cortina GT, Murrays Corner, Mount Panorama 1963- that’s Max Volkers in a FoMoCo Cortina 1500 behind (unattributed)

In 1963 the event moved to Mount Panorama as the ‘Islands track surface was too badly damaged by the ’62 event to continue to stage the race- in fact racing came to an end there until Len Lukey bought the facility circa 1964, reopening it in 1967. At Bathurst they won in a ‘works’ Ford Cortina GT.

In 1964 Jane won again in a ‘works’ Cortina GT but this time shared the drive with George Reynolds- all of these ‘factory Fords’ were prepared by Harry Firth and his team in his ‘Marne Garage’ on the corner of Burke and Toorak Roads, Glen Iris in Melbourne’s twee inner east.

 

(unattributed)

Jane’s first 1965 Ford Mustang was locally developed with plenty of goodies bought over the counter in the US, it met an untimely end at Catalina Park in an accident the young entrepreneur was extremely lucky to walk away from.

The shot above shows it in rude good health at Warwick Farm entering Pit Straight, whereas it is in its death throes in Martin’s painting below, 7 November 1965.

(M de Lang)

 

 

(unattributed)

She is well and truly rooted- the angle from the other side is worse but I don’t have a clear, sharp shot from there to pop up. It was a case of pull all the good bits off and start again- Bob is clear with the white blotch on his head, I think its a flaw in the photo rather than Nurse Ratched gone berserk with bandages.

‘Cripes, its gunner need more than bog to fix this lot!’

RF Jane with Nomex shirt reflects upon the remains of a Mustang which was pristine ten minutes before. Leo Geoghegan looks on from behind whilst Bob Jane Racing Chief John Sawyer ponders gathering up the pile of shrapnel and popping it into the truck before the long trip back to Melbourne.

 

(M de Lang)

Bob certainly had a penchant for Mustangs, this is his second, a 1967 GT fitted with a big-block 390cid V8 and also raced later with small-block engines.

It met its maker when Chris Brauer had a very nasty career ending accident in it at Lakeside in 1970. Bob replaced this one with the 1968 Shelby built Trans-Am factory car, it still exists in the US.

The livery and specifications of this car evolved a lot over a short space of time not least driven by the needs of ever widening tyres with the photograph below in the machines at Warwick Farm in 1967.

(B Williamson)

If any Mustang enthusiast can give me details of the evolution of this car’s specifications from 1967 to 1970 please get in touch and i will add them in.

Jane is blasting across the top of Mount Panorama in de Lang’s photo above at a guess, whereas in the photograph below he is exiting Hell Corner, after a change to Shell colours, circa 1967. Perhaps this photo is a Shell shot given the background. The grille evolved to a simpler, later look too making identification of the car and year tricky, especially in monochrome!

(unattributed)

 

(M de Lang)

Pure touring car sex on wheels. Moffat’s Trans-Am, Foley’s GTaM and this John Sheppard built LC Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 Sports Sedan are my favourite Taxis.

This jigger was brilliant in conception and exquisite in the detail of its execution right down to the ‘standard interior trim’ and an engine compartment which looked as though it was made for a Repco V8 rather than an inline-six. The art shows Bob at Hume Weir circa 1971.

Just brilliant, not to forget the shedload of races Bob and John Harvey won in the thing circa 1970-1972. Bob should be shot for allowing Frank Gardner to commit automotive rape upon the little sweetie when he shoved a 5 litre Chev into it in 1975- although FG did squeeze an extra season up front despite said atrocity…

Warwick Farm, 5 September 1971 (L Hemer)

CAMS took exception to the wing, which was fair enough, it was outside the rules, but didn’t it look even more of a menace in this specification?

Extant but not likely to see the light of day until someone with very deep pockets scoops it up- there is a bit about this car in this article about McCormack’s Charger Repco and Sports Sedans more generally; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

 

(M de Lang)

Didn’t Jane put the cat amongst the pidgeons with this Chev Camaro ZL1 427 ally blocked weapon! The painting depicts the car at Dandenong Road corner, Sandown 1971.

Looking at it reminds me of the spectacle of ‘full on body contact’ between Bob and Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans-Am in 1971-2. Bob won the ATCC in 1971 with the big fella fitted and when shafted by CAMS, who changed the rules to eliminate the 427 motor, stuck it up the regulator and won again fitted with the ‘liddl 350 cast iron engine in 1972.  ‘Nice one’, i thought at the time, plenty of lawyers improved their billings for the year by being involved in some serious litigation between RF Jane and the CAMS down the decades.

(unattributed)

Ere we go again…

Did Moffat lose it or did Bob give him a Rock Hudson to assist?

With the splendour of Springvale ‘Triple Fronted Brick Vanilla Slices’- 1950’s cream brick-veneer houses of the type I was brought up in, in the background, Moffat and Jane engage in a territorial dispute under brakes into Sandown’s Dandenong Road- meanwhile Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter takes avoiding action at right. Cooper S pilot folks? Jane won this race.

‘I still don’t know if he hit the Armco?’ quipped Lynton Hemer @ the precision of this particular apex, 9 July 1972 (L Hemer)

 

(M de Lang)

The HQ Holden Monaro GTS 350 started life as an Improved Tourer in late 1972- its race debut was in John Harvey’s hands that year at Surfers Paradise, but morphed into a most formidable Sports Sedan when Group C replaced Improved Touring as the class to which the ATCC was run from 1973- Pat Purcell modified the car further as the Sports Sedan rules allowed.

Another Sheppo built car originally, it raced in Bob’s hands until 1978 and still exists restored to its original form, the art depiction is probably Oran Park whilst noting the signage isn’t correct.

(B Keys)

Nice and close at ‘Torana’ as it then was or ‘Peters’ as it originally was, corner at Sandown circa 1974/5.

Bob has the Monaro tucked inside John Pollard who has given the faster car room in his Holden Torana L34.

Hallmarks of all of Jane’s cars, whoever was Boss Cocky of the team at the time was the immaculate standard of presentation and preparation. I’ve always been fond of the look of HQ’s, surely one of the most harmonious and fully resolved of all of GMH’s styling exercises- lowered and with plenty of wheel and tyre under the ample guards they were/are mighty fine looking road cars with this beast, and Mal Ramsay’s HQ Kingswood Repco visual delights as racing cars.

 

(M de Lang)

One can easily imagine the excitement around the Jane transporter at race meetings circa 1971 with their bit of the paddock occupied by the Camaro, Torana, Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and this McLaren M6B Repco ‘740’ V8 5 litre- which won a pair of Australian Sportscar Championships in 1971 and 1972.

Excitement around the Bob Jane transporter, or Shell tent anyway, circa 1965. Nose of the Mk2 Jag at left, first Mustang, E Type Lwt and nose of the Elfin Mono at right (M Kyval)

The story of this thing, one of the best looking Can-Am cars ever built, is told here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/16/sex-on-wheels/ ,the art is of Bob at the wheel, circuit who knows, it could be anywhere, whereas the shot below is of Bob giving John Harvey a lift just after Harves won the Symmons Plains round of the 1972 ASCC- and the championship itself.

(E French)

 

Who could ignore Sports Sedans, even as a devout open-wheeler woofda, with savage beasts like this thing providing quite a show.

Watching Bob drive this car was magic, seeing Peter Brock race it after Bob retired was sensational- he teased everything out of Pat Purcell’s magnificent racer, another painting at Sandown’s Dandenong Road corner.

(C Parker)

Chris Parker caught all the heavies on the grid at Calder August 1982- Australian GT Championship round 6, heat 1- Alan Jones won every race of the nine round championship.

Alan Jones is on pole in the Porsche Cars Australia Porsche 935 alongside Peter Brock in Jane’s Monza, on the row two is Jim Richards’ black BMW 318i turbo and alongside him Tony Edmondson’s Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev and then the white Colin Bond driven PCA Porsche 944 GTR turbo- on his inside is Rusty French’ Porsche 935. On the back row on the inside is Brad Jones’ Mercedes SLC and on this side the Bob Jolly Holden Commodore. They really were the most exciting grids of things at the time even if the 935’s rained on everybody else’s parade…

Everything about this car was big! Originally built by a team led by Pat Purcell it was raced by Bob from 1980, then rebuilt by Pat and Les Small before being raced by Peter Brock in 1982/3, then Allan Grice raced it in 1984 to an Australian GT Championship and then Bryan Thomson to the title the following year. It morphed into a Toyota Supra in 1989- where is it now? Click here for a summary of the car; http://www.scharch.org/Cars/Monza_Racecars/Cars_MonzaAU_Purcell-Jane.htm

(B Jane)

Peter Brock awaits the start at Calder circa 1983- the formidable size of the car evident in this shot- 6 litre Chev V8 upfront and a transaxle at the rear.

Etcetera…

The list of cars Bob owned and raced, or were raced for him by others is as below. It isn’t complete, it’s out of my head, i am happy to add others to the ‘good stuff’, no road cars only racers he owned…

Sportscars

Maserati 300S, Jaguar D Type, Jaguar E Type 3.8 FHC, Jaguar E Type Lwt, Elfin 400 Repco 4.4, McLaren M6B Repco 5 litre

Single-seaters

Elfin T100 ‘Mono’ Ford twin-cam 1.5, Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5, Brabham BT23E Repco V8 2.5, Jane Repco V8 2.5, Brabham BT36 Waggott TC-4V 2 litre, Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000, Ralt RT4 Ford BDA F Pac, McLaren M26 Chev F5000

Tourers

Ford Customline, Holden ‘Humpys’, Jaguar Mk2 4.1, Mercedes Benz 220SE, Ford Falcon XK, Fiat 2300, Lotus Cortina, Ford Mustangs- three of em- 1965, 1967 and 1968 Shelby Trans-Am, Ford Falcon GT ‘XR’, Chev Camaro ZL1, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco 4.4, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Series Prod/Group C, Holden Monaro GTS 350 Imp Tourer/Sports Sedan, Holden Monaro GTS 350 Series Prod, Chev Monza, BMW 635Csi, Holden Torana L34, Holden Torana A9X, two Mercedes Cosworth 190. In addition there were numerous ‘Thunderdome’ thingies

Not bad is it- in one lifetime.

The ‘Jane Estate’- those two words are a catch-all of ‘Jane Family individuals, corporate entities and trusts’, i think, still own the Brabham BT11A, Ralt RT4 and McLaren M6B. I am happy to take advice from those who have the facts rather than ‘i reckon’…

Image and other Credits…

Martin de Lang- artist, Stephen Dalton

Mike Kyval, Kevin Drage, Bill Miles, Chris Parker, Jock Psaros, Ellis French, Lynton Hemer, Bruce Keys, Bob Williamson Collection, Bob Jane Heritage Collection

Tailpiece…

(M de Lang)

Peter Brock in the Porsche 956 he shared with Larry Perkins at Silverstone and Le Mans in 1983- didn’t this ‘Aussies taking on the world attack’ capture us all at the time.

It symbolises a few things not least Bob’s world view and a couple of blokes in a very long list Jane supported from the early sixties…

Finito…

(HRCCTas)

A very young John Goss and Holden FJ lost in his thoughts in a Symmons Plains paddock circa 1965/6…

Is he dreaming of his first Bathurst or AGP win or maybe Formula 1? Perhaps its a more prosaic and immediate musing- ‘Why doesn’t John Youl harvest the hay in this paddock so I can get my friggin’ car out!’

I’ve written a couple of articles about the only man to win both the Bathurst 1000 and Australian Grand Prix, so no point going over old ground. Click here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/03/john-goss-bathurst-1000-and-australian-grand-prix-winner/ here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/19/john-goss-tornado-ford-longford-1968/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/06/gossy/

The photograph below is a few years later, 1973 to be precise.

It shows Gossy in full-flight aboard his Ford Falcon GT351 Group C car at Old Pit Corner during the 5 March Symmons Australian Touring Car Championship round won by Allan Moffat in a Ford Falcon GTHO Ph 3 from Peter Brock’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1- John was third and blazing a trail in the early development of these cars. What an awesome thing it looked the first time I saw it during the January Sandown Tasman round a month or so earlier.

Both the Fords and new L34 V8 Toranas had problems early on without dry-sumps didn’t they?- the regs precluded them and more wheel/tyres on the Group C machines created greater grip than the Group E Series Production cars of the years before and therefore oil-surge problems. There were plenty of popped engines until the respective camps sorted the problem.

(D Cooper)

He won the Bathurst enduro together with Kevin Bartlett the following year in the same car. Click here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/27/kbs-first-bathurst-100mph-lap/

The shot below is of the car at Hell Corner, Mount Panorama in 1973.

(unattributed)

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, D Cooper Collection

Finito…

(HRCCT)

Michael ‘Moose’ Warner, Holden 48-215 leads Tony Edmondson, BMW 1602 Repco at Symmons Plains circa 1974…

Touring Cars (a ‘Sports Sedan’ in this case) are not my thing but that BMW is powered by a Repco Brabham 4.4 litre ‘620 Series’ V8 so by definition it’s of interest!

The Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania continues to post wonderful photographs on its Facebook page- just pop the name into the FB search engine and have a look. Grab a beer before you do so, you cannot do the job properly in less than two or three hours.

(B Smart)

 

(B Smart)

Edmondson, who started racing a Ford Cortina GT with a good deal of pace in his native Tasmania circa 1970 was the latest in a long list of drivers whose career was aided and abetted by Tasmanian businessman Don Elliott- others include Robin Pare, John Walker and Mark McLaughlin.

The pair raced this BMW, then the ex-McCormack Valiant Charger Repco-Holden F5000 V8 and later still the two K&A Engineering built Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev V8’s- he had a really nasty accident in the first of these at Surfers Paradise.

Later still, in the mid-eighties, they acquired Elfin Sportscars, bless ’em- after Garrie Cooper’s untimely death and built some fantastic FV, ANF2 and one Formula Holden before the economic realities finally caught up with them and the business changed hands to become a builder of road/race cars rather than racing cars. (i’m truncating)

Edmondson and Grice top of The Esses at Baskerville in 1978 looking as though it could turn to tears at any moment’ indeed Grant Twining, but did it!? (K Midgley)

I always admired Edmondson’s aggression, pace and mechanical ability- another guy wasted on Sports Sedans I thought, if he handles 5 litres so well why not jump aboard the ‘real F5000 deal’…

I do recall the BMW, not that I ever saw it race in Victoria- did it ever race on the ‘Big Island’ i wonder? No doubt it did.

The Baskerville photos, circa 1973, are great, particularly Tony’s cavalier disregard for his racegear- perhaps he was ‘just tootling around’ on a day of testing.

Bruce Smart, the photographer advises that is exactly what the team were doing ‘I took the photos in mid-1973 on the main straight at Baskerville. It was a private test day and they were the only ones there. The Repco BMW was still being developed and they were having issues with cooling. It had a boot mounted radiator, you can see the hastily cut vents in the rear guards which were made to enhance airflow.’

‘Tony was only driving slowly, hence no helmet, in fact it was barely fast enough to get a speeding ticket in the Hobart CBD. They would do a couple of laps, return to the pits and scratch their heads, then do a few more laps. Eventually the cooling was sorted.’

I’m very interested to know who did the engine installation- presumably a Borg Warner four-speeder is attached to the back of the RBE V8 but i’m just guessing. Which particular RBE 620 izzit, where did it come from and where is it now? Where is the BMW shell too I guess, although that is of less interest. The Holden ‘was one of the best Humpy’s going around, unfortunately it fell over one day and was binned’ wrote the HRCCT’s Grant Twining.

Lindsay Ross advises Don Elliott is about 90 years old and that Tony Edmondson still works for his ‘Elliots Self Storage’ business in Hobart. He also recalls the ‘Repco 4.4 gave them so much grief with cracking blocks.’

Correspondence welcome!

Don Elliott supervises proceedings at Baskerville, hungry Lucas mouths atop RBE620 (B Smart)

 

oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

Top shot above is of Edmondson a few months later with the car now complete at Baskerville, 1973.

Credits…

Bruce Smart via Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Keith Midgely

Etcetera…

 

(B Smart)

‘Its not too noisy, no cops about, how bout we swing past mums on the way back to Hobart’, or some such. As I say, very interested to find out and publish the fullest technical specifications of this car we can come up with.

Social media suggests the car ended up in Western Australia at some point?

(HRCCT)

That’s not Edmondson in the ‘Fastman’ race suit- he is almost fully obscured by blue-cardigan man- who is the other racer?

Tailpiece: Turn-in is real noice…

(B Smart)

‘Hmm, maybe time to put my fire-proofs on’ is perhaps the drivers thoughts. And ‘Shit! This thing gets up and boogies.’

Note the Mawer Engineering wheels and ‘well back’ location of the engine. Intriguing to know the difference in weight between the cast iron block, alloy head BMW four and all alloy Repco V8.

This conversion is a ‘well-travelled path’ in the sense that the 1970 similarly engined Bob Jane Racing, John Sheppard built, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 ‘620’ 4.4 V8 showed just how quick this combination of compact car and very light ‘racing’ V8 could be.

Click here for a piece in part about this car, the Charger Repco and Corvair Chev; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

Finito…