Archive for the ‘Touring Cars’ Category

(oldracephotos.com)

Barry Cassidy’s Ford Falcon XR GT ahead of Bill Brown’s Ferrari 350 Can-Am, Newry Corner, Longford 1968…

Series Production or showroom stock racing was hugely popular in Australia during a golden period to the end of 1972 when the Supercar Scare forced the rule-makers to change tack – a story in itself! Actually there is about it in the middle of this Holden Torana XU-1 V8 epic here; Holden Torana GTR XU1 V8… | primotipo…

Here, local lad and long time racer Cassidy is practicing for his event during the Tasman weekend in his brand new, straight off the showroom floor, 289cid V8 powered Australian pony-car. It was the first in an amazing series of road legal and oh-so-fast Fords built from the late sixties to the late seventies. Most of them won the Bathurst 500/1000 classic including the XR GT which triumphed at Mount Panorama in the hands of Harry Firth and Fred Gibson in 1967.

Cassidy showing delicacy of touch exiting Mountford, Longford 1968 (oldracephotos.com)

Cassidy had a top speed of 120mph or thereabouts, Brown about 170, and is about to swallow him on the uphill run to the right, then to the left onto the Flying Mile. He recalls that Brown was “probably not too impressed about being passed under brakes by the XR GT and signalled his thoughts about it as he blasted past on the Flying Mile!”

Cassidy raced the car for a bit, and was later at the vanguard of ‘Formula’ HQ Racing, a series for lightly modified Holden HQ Kingswood/Belmont of the early seventies, a hugely popular cost effective way to get into, and stay in motor racing. He is still racing too.

Cassidy chasing Graham Parsons’ Cortina GT and Darryl Wilcox’ Humpy Holden through Newry Corner. Barry was off a low grid position after being pinged by scrutineers for having a spare tyre not of identical section width as the four on the car! (HRCCT)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines, there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK by ship, it’s destiny and whereabouts unclear to this day.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

(D Cooper)

What a cracker of a shot, Symmons Plains Sweeper…

Peter Brock’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 from Bob Jane’s similar car and Allan Moffat’s Ford Falcon GT351 Hardtop at Symmons Plains during the first 1974 Australian Touring Car Championship round on March 4.

Brock won from Moffat with Tim Smith third in another XU1- Bob was fifth.

Credits…

Dennis Cooper

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

Brock won five of the eight ATCC rounds and the title that year with Bob Morris second in an XU1 and Moffat third. It appears Brocks’ door has been given the short back ‘n sides by somebody.

Finito…

(K Buckley)

Don Holland’s Cooper S from Robbie Francevic’s monstering Ford Fairlane at Bay Park, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand in April 1968.

Imagine looking at that ‘block of flats’ baring down on you at some speed in ‘yer mirrors!?

Were these things ‘sports-racing closed’, or perhaps ‘sports-sedans’ by then. The Kiwis will have called theirs something else of course- what? In any event, these highly-modified tourers have always been my favourite taxi-variants.

Alan Boyle picks up the story, ‘Don Holland came other with two other Mini-racers, light-weight and extremely quick cars – John Leffler and Lynn Brown, three nice guys, I’ve visited them in Sydney since.

Relaxing in the Pukekohe paddock after the racing, ‘John Leffler, Don Holland Lynn Brown. Margaret and Violet Mini.’ I wonder if this visit was during the Tasman rounds, it would be  interesting to know the results? How did Violet go in her car? See this piece on the Francevic Ford; https://themotorhood.com/themotorhood/2017/11/24/special-feature-robbie-francevics-fairlane

More questions than answers this time…

(A Boyle)

Credits…

Ken Buckley photo via Milan Fistonic, Alan Boyle

Finito…

 

(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…