Archive for the ‘Touring Cars’ Category

(Eldougo)

Peter Manton, Austin 1800 tow car and his ‘Improved Production Touring’ Cooper S, perhaps at Surfers Paradise in 1970…

Manton is long way from home, the Gold Coast is 1720 kilometres from Melbourne, the Mini aces home base. That cut down Austin 1800 is a really nice rig but I don’t fancy towing that Mini with that car, even if it has a couple of SU’s bolted to the side of the ‘B Series’ head. It lacks the ‘mumbo’ needed for such long tows across our big, brown, parched continent. Nice thing to ponce around Surfers Paradise in mind you.

By 1970 Peter was winding down a long career in the sport which dated back to the thirties. Born in 1922 Gerald Peter ‘Skinny’ Manton began racing at 16 in his mothers Austin 16.

He worked at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermans Bend in product engineering leaving to work for John Ould Motors and later Monaro Motors, of which he later became a partner.

Monaro Motors sold MG’s and developed performance parts for the marque. They were agents for Wade Superchargers and became sole distributors in Victoria for SU carburettors. ‘Skinny’ progressed to design and research developing many twin-carb manifolds and other bits. As the Issigonis front wheel drive BMC products swept the market Manton swapped his Marshall-blown Morris Major for a succession of Cooper S’ with which he became synonomous. He formed Peter Manton Motors which was a well known destination for a generation or so of Melbourne enthusiasts

Was the Mini King of Oz Peter Manton or Brian Foley? Are the honours equally split?, without doubt they were the Mini Kings of Victoria and New South Wales respectively throughout the sixties in any event!

Photo Credit…

Eldougo, Dick Simpson

Tailpiece: Manton’s Cooper S being monstered by Shell teammate and 1970 ATCC champion Norn Beechey’s Holden HG Monaro GTS350, at Calder…

(Simpson)

 

 

Any Brabham is an over Australian $175-200K proposition these days, except one!…

There was a time, a long time, that the Australian Motor Industry was in expansionary mode behind the high tariff walls that allowed us to live in fools paradise along with most other western countries. Said tariffs in Australia started to reduce circa 1972/3. That was a pivotal moment for our automotive sector, it was never the case that our industry would cease to manufacture cars as a result of that policy change, there are a host of factors company by company that led to that outcome, but the quite correct reduction in tariffs was the first factor in a death by a thousand cuts.

The big three of the Australian industry in the sixties were General Motors Holden, Ford and Chrysler Australia. Chrysler/Mitsubishi’s Adelaide, Tonsley Park manufacturing facility is long gone, it is essentially a technology park these days whilst Holden and Ford have ceased manufacture much more recently, Holden in the last month. It was quite eery to drive past the Ford Geelong factory a week ago and see it in silence, the carparks empty of the workers who built engines there for decades.

GMH, Ford and Toyota, the other local manufacturer in more recent times are mere importers these days, a whole sector of manufacturing is gone due to the failure or desire of the local subsidiaries of global transnationals to make cars the punters want. Our cost structures are high, the global transnationals can and do decide where to make cars in a manner which maximises their profits and high cost locations hardly enhance that. Not to mention Government Policy Fuck-Wittery. It’s more complex than that, I’m getting off-point!

Back to 1963, much simpler times.

GMH, dominant in big cars, but with Ford chasing them down, looked enviously at the growth in the small car market and particularly the market share of BMC, (British Motor Corporation) Ford, VW and others.

GMH’s answer was the Vauxhall Viva, provided by GM’s UK subsidiary and first introduced in Oz in April 1964. The two door, small cars performance was ordinary, its virtues cheapness of running costs and a slick gearbox.

From small acorns do big things grow though- the late sixties to early seventies six-cylinder Torana GTR, GTR-XU1 and later the mid-seventies V8 L34 and A9X owe their parentage to the little, wheezy, Pommie Vauxhall Viva.

Its initial Australian performance credentials were bolstered by Class A (cars costing under 900 pounds) victory in the 1964 Bathurst 500, where the Spencer Martin/Bill Brown (car #46 in the ad above) driven Viva triumphed over 5 other Vauxhalls, Hillman Imps, Morris Mini 850, NSU Prinz and VW Beetles.

An updated car- the ‘HB’ Holden Torana was released in May 1967. With its conventional front engine/rear drive format, it found favour amongst traditional Oz buyers compared with some of the opposition- the new-fangled BMC cars and rear engined ‘Gunter-Wagen’ – VW Beetle. Small Fords- Anglia, Cortina always did well here. Perceived positives of the ‘HB’ were just enough power, the ‘box, rack and pinion steering and coil sprung, as against leaf sprung rear end.

By 1968 the 1159cc pushrod OHV engine gave 69bhp. It was to this base that the ‘breathed on’ Brabham Torana was released. It is not my intention to go through the timeline iterations of the Brabham Torana but in essence the package included a free flow exhaust system, twin Stromberg carbs which gave circa 79bhp, not a lot but 20% more than a base Torana ‘poverty pack’. The spec also included disc brakes up front, low profile 6 X 12 inch wheels/tyres on super wide 4 inch rims!, rally GT stripe and Brabham decals. The top speed of the base model Tommy Torana was 80mph, Jack’s did 89…with a huge tailwind I suspect.

It was pretty unimpressive though, ‘me mums Morrie 1100 with yours truly at the helm had no trouble regularly shutting one down on the trip from North Balwyn to Monash University- the fellow parked in a different corner of the Clayton car park to hide its shame.

Progress is an amazing thing though. By 1969 the little Viva had evolved into six-cylinder (as well as the four cylinder) cars, by 1970 the only car I was interested in at the Royal Melbourne Show car display was the ‘LC’ Torana GTR-XU1.

And the rest as they say, is history- a swag of Australian Touring Car Championship and Rally wins. Depending upon the model, these cars were amazingly adaptable motor sport tools.

And Jack started it all!

Not really at all.

For him it was a commercial deal, he had nothing whatsoever to do with the spec of the Brabham Torana’s- but they are the cheapest Brabham’s on the planet albeit not ones built by Motor Racing Developments!

Credits…

Unique Cars and Parts

Tailpiece: Jack Has His Hand On It…

 

 

Graham Boulter’s race equipe completing a Bacchus Marsh pitstop enroute to Calder Raceway, Victoria, Australia circa 1968 or 1969…

Competitors can relate to this wherever you live on the planet- loading up your racer and hung-over, scaly mates and girlfriend and heading off to the track hoping the last minute fixes to your steed will last the rigours of the weekend away from home base.

Enthusiast racer Lee Nicholle identified the photograph on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ which was taken at a ‘Golden Fleece’ servo at Bacchus Marsh, 60 kilometres from Melbourne on its western outskirts.

Oz enthusiasts of a certain age will well remember Golden Fleece as a brand of petroleum products and servo’s such as this one operated by Australian Company HC Sleigh since 1893. Caltex acquired the business in 1981.

The racer is a Holden FJ or ‘Humpy’, sports sedan. The tow car is the ‘Ducks Guts’ of General Motors Holdens range at the time- no less than an ‘HK’ Monaro GTS powered by the range-topping Chevrolet 327cid V8. One of these cars won the 1968 Bathurst 500 enduro driven by Bruce McPhee. The race was then run to ‘Series Production’ or unmodified road car rules. That the car is new is proved by the standard fitment ‘Dunlop Sovereign’ radial tyres. The other road cars in shot are a Vanguard and in the distant carpark an ‘FB’ Holden.

Finally, Lee notes that Boulter still races in ‘Historics’, has built a replica of this car as a ‘roadie’ and that the bare chested youth, now over 70 of course!, is John Reynolds who stayed close to racing as a supplier of Champion plugs into the 1990’s.

Cracker of a shot, it reminds me of my abysmal car preparation capabilities, unreliable mates, patient girlfriends and the racers breakfast of a Chico Roll and Coke on the fly, running late and being behind the eight-ball well before the meeting commenced!…

Credits…

Graham Boulter

Tailpiece: Bruce McPhee on the way to Bathurst 500 glory during the 1968 running of the Australian classic…

(unattributed)

Bruce McPhee started from pole in his HK Monaro GTS327 and won the race from the ‘works’ Holden Dealer Team similar car of Jim Palmer/Phil West and the Tony Roberts/Bob Watson HK GTS a lap adrift in 3rd

Finito…

Robin Pare, Pete Geoghegan in Ford Mustangs, Bruno Carosi Jag Mk2, Frank Gardner Alfa GTA and Robin Bessant Lotus Cortina on the downhill plunge towards The Viaduct, Longford Improved Production Touring Car race 1967 (oldracephotos.com)

Pete Geoghegan did so many times too! The Sydneysider is here doing his stuff aboard the first of his two Ford Mustangs at Longford during the Tasman round in February 1967…

The Brothers Geoghegan, Leo and Ian or ‘Pete’ were stars of Australian Motor Racing from the late-fifties into the mid-seventies, Leo in single-seaters and Pete in ‘taxis’, touring cars of all pursuations. When he was a youth Pete was quick in a brief career in single seaters and a Lotus 23 Ford but he became a ‘big unit’ so his girth meant he was best suited to cars with a roof.

Geoghegan , Gardner and Carosi off the front row, no sign of Pare- perhaps not the same race grid as above ? (oldracephotos.com)

A supreme natural, Geoghegan made a car sing with flair and feel blessed to some from above. Every car he drove. His band-width extended from GT’s to Sports Cars, Production Tourers and very highly modified Sports Sedans- sedans of considerable power and performance.

His CV included some of the most iconic cars raced in Australia over the decades above including a Lotus 7 , 22, 23, the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM, Holden ‘Humpy’, Jaguar 3.4, Morris 850, the two Mustangs, Cortinas- both GT and Lotus variants, Falcon GT’s, Falcon GTHO’s, Valiant Charger E49, highly modified Porsche 911’s, his iconic, Ford factory built and later Bowin Cars modified Ford Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’ and the superb John Sheppard built Holden Monaro GTS350 Sports Sedan.

That car was as conceptually clever, beautifully built and presented sedan racer as any ever constructed in Oz. Lets not forget his late career drives in Laurie O’Neill’s Porsche 935, a notoriously tricky device to master. Much earlier on he drove O’Neills Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, every bit as exotic as the 935.

Big Pete finesses the Mustang into The Viaduct (oldracephotos.com)

Geoghegan, five times Australian Touring Car Champion 1965-69 was an immensely popular racer with the fans, his bulk, manner and ‘stutter’ part of his appeal. He was not without his issues mind you. Touring Car racing is a religion in Australia, our sedan racing has been the equal of the best in the world for decades and arguably for the last 20 years our V8 Supercar category has been consistently one of the Top 5 sedan racing contests on the planet.

A touch of the opposites on the exit to Newry (oldracephotos.com)

So, the pantheon of talented touring car aces is large, and membership of the Top 10 a subject of much informed pub chatter, tough. Most knowledgeable touring car observers would have Geoghegan in their Top 10, if not Top 5, along with the likes of Norm Beechey, Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson, Jim Richards (a Kiwi but we take him as our own) Mark Skaife, Glenn Seton, Craig Lowndes, Garth Tander, Jamie Whincup and others.

(oldracephotos.com)

Photo Credits…

Oldracephotos.com- Harrison and David Keep

Tailpiece: Came, Saw, Conquered and then returned to Sydney…

Other Reading…

Pete Geoghegan and his Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/15/greatest-ever-australian-touring-car-championship-race-bathurst-easter-1972/

Pete’s 1965 Mustang notchback

http://www.bowdensown.com.au/collection/ian-pete-geoghegans-1965-mustang

Finito…

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I was too young for the Lotus Cortina but drooled over its cousin, the Escort Twin Cam from the time they were released in Australia as a youngster…

‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’ was the tagline of the day. And it was too. At the dawn of the 1970’s their product lineup was irresistible as a kid; Escort Twin Cam, Cortina GT, Capri 1600 GT and 3000 GT V6 and then came the range topping big muvvas, the Falcon GT and GTHO. Both packed the famed 351CID V8, the ‘HO’ the Bathurst homologation special was truly outrageous. All had ‘Super Roo’ decals on the front valances making the striped, candy-red devices lustworthy in a pubescent kinda way. Always a realist, I thought the Twin-Cam the pick of the litter given its cost/size/performance equation, not to mention its looks.

Local, Melbourne, Kew driver Michael Stillwell was racing a BDA powered Escort in Australian Touring Car Championship races at the time, giant killing too, I still think its one of the sexiest touring cars of all time. Others were raced by Allan Moffat, John Bassett, Bob Holden and Garry Rodgers, with plenty of tyre under extensively flared guards they really did, do, look the goods.

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Mike Stillwell giving Don Holland’s Holden Torana GTR XU1 a love tap in the entry to Hell Corner, Bathurst during the 1972 Australian Touring Car Championship round (oldracephotos.com)

Eventually, post university, I was in the market to buy and drove a Twin Cam an old codger (about my age now) in Glen Iris had for sale. But i had been spoiled by a mates Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT I had driven a lot by then. The older Alfa ‘105 Coupe’ made the little Ford seem crude by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, it was quick, but the front suspension was doing one thing, the back another, you didn’t sit nice and low like in the Alfa. The rack had that sort of ‘rattle, chatter, shimmy thing’ no amount of wheel alignments or balance weights fixed on both my Mk2 Cortina GT and Capri 1600 GT. That always gave me the shits with those cars!

The engine was great, I still love Harry Mundy’s work and drive them reasonably regularly, usually mounted in Elans. Imagine motor racing without the Ford Lotus Twin-Cam engine from mild to Hart 416B wild specification!? The gearbox was great too, Fords single-rail box is one of the production ‘trannys of the era, knife thru butter with synchro’s which, when in good nick, could not be beaten.

My heart was with the ‘Twinc but the Alfa was so much more of an integrated, cohesive package with similar performance and matching looks so that’s the way I went. But I still love Cortina’s and Escort’s, mass market for sure but Ford got the styling of the things just right as their sales volumes proved…

Tailpiece…

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Allan Moffat slices his Ford Australia, Alan Mann built, Escort FVA into Warwick Farm’s Esses, bang on line, in 1971 (oldracephotos.com)

 

 

 

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Glemser/Fitzpatrick Ford Capri RS2600 ahead of a Ferrari 312PB and a Porsche 911RSR, Le Mans 1973 (Schlegelmilch)

Ford’s battles with BMW in 1970’s touring car racing are legendary as both manufacturers battled for supremacy. The adage ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ was reflected in big marketing spends in the European Touring Car Championship at the time…

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Chris Amon in the CSL he shared with Hans Stuck, Le Mans ’73 DNF lap 162 with accident damage (Schlegelmilch)

In 1973 the protagonists in the big car class were the RS2600 Capri and 3.0CSL, the title that year won by Toine Hezeman’s BMW with wins at the Spa, Zandvoort and Paul Ricard rounds.

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Toine Hezemans/Dieter Quester CSL winning the class at LeMans in 1973 (unattributed)

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Jackie Stewart and Jochen Mass, Monza ETCC round 25 March 1973 (Schlegelmilch)

Such were the number of GeePee drivers involved one could have mistaken the paddocks for F1 events rather than touring cars; Stewart, Amon, Stuck, Hunt, Lauda, Ickx, Pescarolo and Emerson Fittipaldi all had a steer during the ETCC that year.

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Jean Claude Andruet/Richard Bond Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona 20th, Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick Capri, out in the 20th hour with a broken rod (Schlegelmilch)

Whilst Le Mans was not part of the ETCC, Ford and BMW slugged it out in the 24 Hour Classic although only one of the factory cars went the distance; the Dieter Quester/Toine Hezemans BMW was 11th overall with 307 laps.

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The race was won by the superb 3 litre V12 Matra MS670B piloted by Henri Pescarolo/Gerard Larrousse, the rapid sports-prototype covering 355 laps. The best placed Ferrari 312PB was 6 laps adrift of the Matra, Art Merzario and Carlos Pace were second with another Matra 670B driven by the two Jean-Pierre’s, Jabouille and Jaussaud in third place.

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#53 Koinigg/Vinatier/Birrell and #55 Glemser/Fitzpatrick (Schlegelmilch)

As to the rest of the factory touring car entries; the Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick RS2600 schnapped a conrod on lap 239, the Chris Amon/Hans Stuck BMW had an accident on lap 162.

The woe continued with the Helmut Koinigg/Jean Vinatier/Gerry Birrell Ford having valve gear trouble on lap 152, Gerry Birrell swapped into this car after his own Capri had ignition problems. Hans Heyer co-drove that entry.

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Mike Kranefuss, keeps an eye on proceedings, ‘the boss’ as the cap suggests (Schlegelmilch)

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Glemser/Fitzpatrick RS2600 at Le Mans, DNF with a broken rod (unattributed)

I guess the cars weren’t stressed for 24 hours so perhaps the results are not too surprising, I posted an article about the fabulous Cologne Capri’s which may be of interest to those who have not read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

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Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Glemser/Fitz in the pits…

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Colin Bond finessing the Holden Dealer Teams Holden Torana GTR XU1 Repco thru Murrays Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1973…

In fact ‘twas as much Brocky’s as Bondy’s as they tended to drive this Repco Holden F5000 V8 engined ‘Sports Sedan’ (Oz anything goes taxi category) in their home states. Peter Brock in Victoria and Bond in NSW. I ‘spose Holden Dealer Team chief Harry Firth worked out who drove the thing elsewhere.

By that stage Sports Sedans were starting to get a bit more scientific, check out my article on John McCormack’s Chrysler Valiant Charger Repco F5000 which provides both era context and some car specifics.

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This press shot a couple of days before the cars Sandown race debut in April 1973 shows the mid-mounted location of the cast iron Repco Holden F5000 V8, and change for the 4 speed Borg Warner ‘box, the engine cover provided some heat absorption, but not much! (M Bisset Collection/Melbourne Herald)

Harry decided to chase the ‘Toby Lee Sports Sedan Series’ $ at Oran Park and cobbled together this car which was the marriage of an LJ Torana chassis with a Repco Holden 500BHP injected F5000 V8, which was mounted right next to the driver to keep him warm.

Borg Warner T10 tranny, a Rose jointed solid, Watts linkage rear end and wishbone, coil sprung front end were suspension modes. Brakes were F5000 issue calipers clamping HQ Holden rotors front and rear.

The car began life in ’71 as an HDT Bathurst 500 Series Production car and in ’72 was Frank Kilfoyle’s rally car before being gutted for its new role, Chris De Fraga reported in ‘The Age’ before the cars debut as a Sports Sedan at Sandown on 13-15 April 1973.

It didn’t win too much in the way of major events but it was a massive crowd pleaser and fast with two of the countries best steerers twiddling its MoMo.

Back to Bathurst Easter ’73; Col Bond won all three of his races over the weekend in ‘The Beast’ with Peter Brock, in a good meeting for the Holden Dealer Team, sharing the Production Touring Car wins in an XU1 with John Goss’ Ford Falcon GT Coupe.

Credit…

Nigel Tait Collection/ Repco Ltd

Tailpiece: Brock at Calder, LC/LJ Toranas’ such a great looking car, the bellow of this injected V8 one not to be missed. Wheels are by Mawer Engineering in Sydney, very popular on Touring Cars and Clubmans of the day…

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