Archive for the ‘Who,What,Where & When…?’ Category

(B King Collection)

A one-armed paper-hanger! Ron Chandler, Lancia Lambda Special (Chandler Special) at Mount Tarrengower, post-war, date folks? Isn’t it a marvellous shot, gotta be summer with that much dust.

Plenty of Vincenzo Lancia’s outstanding cars came to Australia and no shortage of them were adapted as racing cars as they aged. The mix of stiff monocoque chassis, SOHC V4, four-speed gearbox and independent front suspension was irresistible to enthusiasts. The Chandler was a mix of narrowed fifth series chassis and eighth series components. Ron had no shortage of knowledge or parts, he was a Lancia dealer/wrecker in Melbourne’s inner-eastern suburb, Hawthorn.

(J Hickford)

The shot above shows Eddie Perkins (Larry’s dad) at the wheel of the Chandler. Note the ‘sprint’ fuel tank (‘snot water I think) and support structure, the chassis and exhaust are also clear. Perkins built a mid-engined Lancia Special of his own circa 1951 – a story for another time.

This car later morphed into the Lambda based, monoposto Meadows Special built by Rob Harcourt, shown below at Winton. It marries a narrowed fifth series chassis and seventh series Lambda components mixed with a 3-litre 4EH Meadows engine first fitted to an Australian assembled Chic circa 1925. With around 200bhp, it’s a very quick car.

(A Cox Collection)

Etcetera…

(Classic Cars in Profile)

Stripped Lambda shows the key elements of the design to good effect – that pressed steel unitary/monocoque chassis was so far ahead of its time…Ease with which it can be cut-and-shut obvious.

(unattributed)

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Andrew Cox in the Lancia Motor Club website, Colin Marr, John Hickford, Classic Cars in Profile

Tailpiece…

(C Marr Collection)

Rob Harcourt’s Lancia Meadows Spl during the Australian Grand Prix carnival at Albert Park in 2000. The dude on the right is Sir Stirling Moss in an HWM Jaguar – which HWM Jaguar?

Finito…

Jumbo Goddard and Bob King, Bugatti T35C on the Mildura, Victoria dirt in 1970 (B King)

164 MPH IN A VINTAGE BENTLEY–THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN LEMUEL ‘JUMBO’ GODDARD – A GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER

“Jumbo liked shiny things”.

A legend in his own lifetime, much has been written about John L. Goddard. His life story has been told by journalist luminaries including Bill Boddy (Motor Sport, 12/62), Pedr Davis, (Sports Car World, 9/63), John Croxson (Autocar, 1/73), Eoin Young (Classic Car, 8/74) and Doug Nye (Collector’s Cars, 11/79). There was also an excellent review of his life written by Tom King in the New Zealand Rolls Royce and Bentley Club magazine in 2012. Mark Bisset thought it was time to introduce Jumbo to a new audience.

It’s said that John Goddard acquired his nick-name – by which he was always addressed – when his generous size was observed by Captain J.E.P. Howey who remarked “Hmmm…he much resembles a pantomime elephant from behind, doesn’t he”? Jumbo was very much in the ‘Bulldog Drummond’ mould of “a class of Englishman who were patriotic, loyal and ‘physically and morally intrepid’”. Far be it for the writer to question Jumbo’s morals, but the description otherwise fits perfectly. Jumbo’s lifestyle was not for the ordinary mortal; it required not only that ‘Englishness’, but also the means to indulge his passions.

John Lemuel Goddard (Cummins Collection)
(Cummins Collection)

Early days

Born at the inappropriately named Tilbury Forest Cottage (more of a mansion than a cottage), at Peas Pottage, Jumbo was brought up in comfortable circumstances. His Barrister father Jack was a sporting motorist who favoured big Daimlers – for a time he held the hill record at South Harting driving one of these chain-driven monsters. His six cars were maintained in a fully equipped, tiled and centrally heated workshop by a staff of four, chauffer, second chauffer, mechanic and washer. The machine tools were driven by an electric motor powered by a Ruston engine and generator set. These were accommodated in a sunken power-house accessed by polished hand rails and white-washed steps. Electricity was also available to light the house, pump water and power an organ – unlike the workshop, the house was not centrally heated. At an early age Jumbo stood on a box to watch the operation of the workshop machinery – it seemed his fate was sealed. Rather than follow his father into the legal profession, he opted for a mechanical engineering apprenticeship with J.G. Parry Thomas at Brooklands Motor Course, but this was not to be when Thomas died during a world-speed record attempt in his 27-litre chain-driven ‘Babs’ in March 1927.

Goddard family Maxwell at Tilgate Forest 1910, Jumbo in the care of a Nanny (Cummins Collection)

While still a school-boy, Jumbo obtained a three-wheeler Morgan which was followed by a Francis Beart tuned Morgan Blackburne which had a formidable power-to-weight ratio – 5 cwt. and 60 to 70 bhp on a good day – the rear tyre had a short life. With this notoriously difficult device he obtained a Brooklands Gold Medal by lapping at over 100 mph. After a brief flirtation with two wheels (frowned on by his parents) he moved to a “gutless wonder” MG 14/40 which was quickly replaced by a 2-litre, 6-cylinder Marlborough which again did not meet with the owner’s approval. His next move was pivotal in his motoring career; he replaced the “fantastically awful” Marlborough with a Red Label 3-litre Bentley.

In a pattern that was to become familiar, Jumbo was soon improving the car; replacing its single Smiths carburetter with twin SU’s. By now a 19-year-old marine apprentice with John I. Thornycroft’s Woolston shipyard, he went a step further, supercharging the Bentley engine with a Cozette supercharger attached to a redesigned cambox cast in bronze by Thornycrofts to his design. As this did not provide sufficient urge, the next step was to replace the 3-litre engine with one from a 6 ½ litre car, enlarged to 7.2 litre’ and developing 175 bhp. On completion of his Thorneycroft contract, he set up a boatyard at Hythe on Southampton Water which was short-lived.

Jumbo, perhaps, with one of the Morgans (Cummins Collection)

His considerable passions were not confined to the motorcar as he also had a love for boats and steam. There are no photos of a young Jumbo sailing a model boat on some idyllic pond in rural England, but by the late twenties he had owned a speed record holding steam driven boat, Miss Chatterbox IV. She was replaced by a slipper stern-drive boat ‘Shawk’ which had previously been owned by Count Louis Zborowski. Jumbo’s ‘improvement’ was to replace the previous engine with a Zeppelin from a plane that had been shot down over England. Steam interests were maintained by working as a train driver on his friend Johnny Howey’s Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

Jumbo made his first visit to Australia in 1934, but no first-class cabin for him; he worked his way before the mast on one of the most famous grain ships – the 4-masted barque Herzogin Cecilie (below) which won the Great Australian Grain Race eight times in succession. (This would have been no pleasure cruise – for an account of the hardships experienced on one of these grain boats, Eric Newby’s ‘The Last Grain Race’ is recommended reading). He then had a period sailing the South Pacific on a trading schooner while enjoying the associated delights.

Herzogin Cecilie (unattributed)

He liked what he saw in Australia and purchased a Ford V8 ute which he drove from Brisbane to Perth. He became interested in prospecting for minerals, spending the pre-war years in New Guinea where he also worked as a fitter and turner in a mining venture.

Just before the war he was back in England, buying a blower-4½ litre Bentley described as a bundle of trouble coupled with an 8-mpg thirst. During the war he was attached to the Admiralty doing design work on propellers for 110-foot Fairmile motor torpedo boats powered by four Bristol Hercules engines – the idea of 56 cylinders and 18,000 hp would have appealed to him, and possibly gave him ideas for a record-breaking car in the future. (‘There is no substitute for litres’). He was one of the many brave volunteer seamen involved in the Dunkirk rescue using a flotilla of little boats.

A Fiat 500 and various Morris’s sufficed as wartime transport, but on the conclusion of hostilities he bought a 1½ litre Aston Martin which wanted “150 hp on account of its weight”. A more satisfactory solution was a 328 BMW which was followed by an ex-Peter Whitehead XK 120 Jaguar which he progressively modified with a C-type specification engine and disc brakes – he kept this car for the rest of his life.

In a derelict building he found a competition 9½ litre Cottin-Desgouttes which had taken the Mont Ventoux hill record in 1911. His 3-litre Bentley now had a 4½ litre motor. An 8-litre Bentley chassis which had been converted to an ambulance was purchased – this car will feature later in our story. To this burgeoning collection was added the ‘cherry on the top’, the two-year-old D-type Jaguar OKV 1 driven to second place at Le Mans by Hamilton and Rolt in 1954. This car, too, will be re-visited.

Jumbo and ‘OKV1’ on a damp Newport Beach to Gundagai trip with Ian Cummins in 1970. This D Type sang-for-its-supper! (Cummins Collection)

Mayflower 2 (unattributed)

 In 1957 Jumbo signed on as an ordinary seaman on ‘Mayflower II’ with Allan Villiers, sailing from Plymouth, Devon to Plymouth, Massachusetts in a 56-day voyage replicating the 1620 voyage of the original Mayflower.

His peripatetic lifestyle led him back to Australia in the late forties where he prospected for uranium. In Alice Springs he befriended pioneer aviator Eddie Connellan and took an interest in Connellan Airlines which operated in the Northern Territory. He then joined Consolidated African selection Trust, prospecting in Sierra Leone and Ghana. In the absence of female company, evenings were spent playing poker with uncut diamonds as chips.

Bugatti T35C at, or rather in! Hove To. “Even with floral covered armchairs, that is a proper mancave!” quipped Paul Cummins (Cummins Collection)

After his retirement in 1962 he spent most of his time in Australia with his expanding car collection. The D-Type was brought here, to which he added a Type 35C 8-cylinder supercharged Bugatti that he had stumbled on in a local village. He had its counterpart in England, a Type 51 with similar specifications to the Type 35, but twin overhead camshaft. At one time he also had a Le Mans 4.9-litre Type 50 Bugatti and a Type 57.

Other cars, some of which shuttled back and forth between England and Australia, included three Frazer Nashs – the ex-AFP Fane single-seater which had broken the Shelsley Walsh hill record in 1937, a TT Replica and an Australian car modified into a single seat racing car. His English collection was cared for by his friend Tom Wheatcroft at his Donington Museum.

Porsche 356, Bugatti T35C and Frazer Nash on the turntable at Hove To (Cummins Collection)

Jumbo settled at Newport Beach, overlooking Pittwater and his beloved Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club – the oldest yacht club in Australia. The term ‘idiosyncratic’ better describes Jumbo than ‘eccentric’. This extended to his habitual dress featuring sockless and lace-less desert boots, later replaced by similar plimsolls; his shorts had invisible mending over previous iterations of the same and were held up by binder-twine. His sockless state, however, did pose problems as he was unable to enter the main clubrooms of his yacht club, being confined to the downstairs public bar. His dress was completed by a Victorian Police issue blue shirt with epaulets.

He named his home at Pittwater ‘Hove To’, acknowledging that his international sailing days were over. It consisted of two houses joined by a covered and carpeted passageway crammed with ephemera pertaining to his motoring, nautical and steam interests. Whatever space was left was filled by his book collection – for reasons the writer never fathomed, Jumbo always had two of each book. To access the motor-house, which was at the top of a steep driveway, a car had to be driven onto a turn table which was then rotated towards the garage, or, if you were sufficiently skilled, you could land on the table with enough impetus to have the car pointing in the right direction.

Jumbo with 300SL in Melbourne to buy the fabulous Mercedes 38/250 for Jack Jeffries from Trevor Willey at right (Cummins Collection)

Once in the garage you were exposed to his delightful and changing collection; at any one time there might be his Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing which had been converted to RHD, a supercharged MG TC, a minivan into which was shoe-horned a Lotus Ford twin-cam motor, a competition 904 Porsche alongside a four-cam roller bearing Carrera 356, the Bentleys and Jaguars as well as a 30/98 Vauxhall, previously owned by the writer, which had received the full Jumbo treatment with a special aluminium cylinder head designed for him by his friend Phil Irving, with pattern making and machining done in Bob Chamberlain’s workshop in Port Melbourne.

Awaiting his attention was a much-modified Vauxhall 30/98 chassis known as the ‘drain-pipe special’ in the light of its tubular chassis members, into which he intended to fit a WWI Hispano Suiza aero engine. In England he still had the 8-litre Bentley chassis which he saw as a suitable recipient for a 12.7-litre Bugatti Royale motor from a French motor-rail. All cars were modified – even his minivan had horizontally opening rear doors which provided a picnic table when open.

Jumbo ready for the off, Frazer Nash, Wollongong Hillclimb 1968 (Cummins Collection)
Jumbo, with hands on hips, inspects the Halvorsen launch ‘Golliwog’, which is being prepared for launch (Cummins Collection)

A weekend at Jumbo’s was a wonderful experience. One was greeted by Jumbo with his up-side down smile, once described as a contented scowl, informing one that a visit to the yacht club for a drink was confined to the public bar– “Sorry I can’t take you upstairs, they want me to wear socks”. Back to Pittwater next morning to see SS Golliwog, a reconstructed 48’ 1910 Admiralty steam pinnace complete with its original triple expansion steam engine, which Jumbo was having built in Huon pine and teak by Lars Halvorsen and Sons. “Sorry we can’t steam her; we have a problem with jellyfish being sucked into the water intakes – looking for a solution”.

As a special favour Jumbo was allowed to moor Golliwog amongst the pristine RPAYC yacht fleet, so long as it did not leak any oil. This required Jumbo to mop up the bilges with a bucket and sponge each morning. Bobbing up and down at anchor was his Dragon Class racer ‘Sama’ used for competition each Wednesday. Seemingly like everything he owned, this too was modified with an extra 4 feet added to the mast and half a ton of lead to the keel – it either went like the ‘clappers’, or broke. In 1946, ’47 and’48 he been a crew member on the 65’ ‘Morna’ for three of her wins in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. She was the largest yacht on Sydney Harbour.

Morna on the Derwent, Hobart (unattributed)

Boats done with, it was back to the house to check out the latest motoring project and to admire the tower clock from the Sydney cricket ground which was at repose along the back wall of the garage waiting for Jumbo to re-engineer it so that, through a system of pulleys, he could have it operating above his garage without the need for a fifty-foot tower. A ‘Flying Scotsman’ locomotive name-plate was on a wall behind his work bench – a reminder of an intended trip across America by steam on the ‘Scot’ that did not come to fruition. Various cars were tried out on the local roads, and on one occasion the writer was deputised to drive his supercharged MG TC at Amaroo hill climb. Saturday night was interesting – the guest bedroom was adjacent to the clock-room which housed most of Jumbo’s 65 clocks. As a couple of hours on Sunday morning were devoted to clock winding, many of the clocks were either fast or slow by Saturday. This meant that the would-be sleeping guest was subjected to an aural barrage of whirrings, dings, dongs, clunks and cuckoos.

Steam engines remained an interest and on one occasion Peter Latreille had the writer bring his model beam engine to a Saturday night dinner at which Jumbo was a guest. Of course, the engine was fired up during an intermission in the eating and drinking. Jumbo was duly impressed until he slowed the engine by laying a finger on the flywheel, announcing “It’s down on power, is the valve timing correct?”

A formidable team. Kevin Wheatcroft, Ian Cummins, Tom Wheatcroft, Jumbo with inverted smile, and Gavin Bain (Cummins Collection)
Jumbo and Mike Hailwood (Cummins Collection)

As can be imagined, Jumbo had a wide circle of friends including Amherst Villiers of Bentley supercharging fame, Mike Hailwood, Donald Campbell, Briggs Cunningham, Tom Wheatcroft, Bob Chamberlain and Phil Irving. In Australia Phil was his go-to engineer and the two of them assisted at Donald Campbell’s land speed record on Lake Eyre; they operated a milling machine used to level the course. When in Melbourne Jumbo delighted in attending Lou Molina’s legendary Monday lunches, the fare being served in the lube bay of his mate Silvio Massola’s service station; the table being a giant board painted and shaped to represent a Bugatti badge placed on top of a partially raised car hoist.

Jumbo had an eye for the ladies. Peter Latreille recalls a visit to Hove To on his honeymoon with Ann who was wearing an ultra-short miniskirt – Jumbo took one glance and suggested she might like to take a seat in the monoposto Frazer Nash. Bob Chamberlain recalled a visit to Warrandyte to see Phil Irving and his partner Edith was also wearing a miniskirt and had her hair dyed red. Jumbo availed himself of the opportunity to confirm that the ‘curtains did not match the carpet’.

Most of Jumbo’s cars are worth special mention – indeed they were all ‘specials’ having been modified in some way to suit his taste; even his tow car was a blacked-out 3500 Rover, devoid of all external ornament or badging. Some of his cars were extra-special and will be dealt with in some detail.

Jumbo and D Type at Hove To, Newport Beach, Sydney (G Bain)

The D-type Jaguar, OKV 1.

The Le Mans D-type was bought by Hamilton from Jaguar after the event and was displayed at the Paris Motor Show. It suffered accident damage on its way back to England and it was in this state that Jumbo bought it, subsequently modifying it to his taste for high-speed touring. This revamping was carried out under the guidance of Jaguars racing team manager Lofty England. A full width windscreen was fitted together with a habitable passenger seat, a door and luggage space sufficient for a picnic basket, thus sacrificing some petrol tank capacity. It became the inspiration for the Jaguar XK SS.

One of its high-speed journeys from Sydney to Melbourne was conducted in January heat – the external exhaust pipes below the passenger side door added to the heat stress. On arrival in Melbourne Jumbo and his passenger, New Zealander Gavin Bain, visited Peter Menere in his Pier Garage in Brighton to see if there was a way to relieve the heat in the passenger seat. Peter’s solution was a car scuttle ventilator let into the floor and controlled by a cable. Gavin laughs when he sees replica XJ SSs with this ‘authentic’ detail.

Gavin recalls another high-speed trip from Sydney to Adelaide. Jumbo: “We will average 60mph and do 60 minute ‘watches’”. With Gavin at the wheel, Jumbo would then go instantly to sleep in the passenger seat, only to wake almost exactly one hour later, exclaiming “It must be time for my watch”. He had not lost his seafaring habits.

A very much slower trip for the D-Type was when it was used as support vehicle to a steam traction engine being moved to Ted Lobb’s property at Grenfell in the Riverina – the average speed would have been less than 6 mph, not 60. Jumbo’s companion for this trip was the legendary ‘Bunty’ Scott-Moncrieff, dressed in full tropical kit including ‘Bombay’ bloomers and topped by a pith hat.

Elevenses. Jumbo, Ian Cummins and Neville Webb after their record breaking run from Sydney-Adelaide in 1974 – Bentley 3-litre with the usual 4 1/2-litre modern modification (Cummins Collection)

The writer continues to regret a missed opportunity to travel in the Jaguar to the famous Mont Ventoux hill climb in Provence. In 1965 he had been invited to visit Jumbo at his cottage in Braintree, England. The purpose of the visit was to authenticate the Type 50 Le Mans Bugatti for a potential buyer in USA. “Would you like to come to Mont Ventoux in the D-Type?” At that time, not knowing Jumbo well and being shy and penniless, the offer was declined with visions of embarrassment through an inability to pay our way. On closer acquaintance with Jumbo at a later date, we realised that flash hotels were not for him and that the trip would have been conducted with the minimum expense.

A record breaking 3/4½ Bentley.

Purchased by Jumbo in Melbourne, this car was used extensively for commuting in Australia. In September 1974 he undertook another high-speed Sydney-Adelaide trip with his friend and Jaguar guru Ian Cummins as passenger with Neville Webb providing back-up in one of Jumbo’s Porsches. The 1043-mile trip took 20 hours at an average speed of 52 mph – an exceptional speed for a vintage car.

When on a rally with Jumbo one often saw his car parked by the road-side in the late morning. On stopping there would an invitation to join him for ‘elevenses’ – coffee from a Thermos which was “improved” by a generous shot of rum – another naval tradition.

The Bentley 8-litre turbo being raced at Silverstone – date and driver folks? (unattributed)

The turbo-charged 8-litre Bentley record breaker.

In 1946 Jumbo found an 8-litre Bentley that had been converted into an ambulance. 100 pounds was exchanged and a speed-record car envisaged. His original 3-litre Bentley chassis was shortened and boxed in, hydraulic brakes and telescopic shock absorbers were added and the 8-litre engine was overhauled; a light two-seater body completing the package. A mean speed of 136.4 mph at the 1962 Antwerp speed trials might have satisfied some as an adequate speed for a vintage car – but not for Jumbo, as it did not break the Bentley record previously set by Forrest Lycett with his 8-litre.

Amongst his extensive world-wide list of friends was Wilton Parker, the Vice-President of the Garret Corporation. Not since the Lockheed P38 fighter had turbochargers been used for petrol engines. The 8-litre engine was rebuilt again with a new, enlarged crankshaft, and Phil Irving designed connecting rods, forged in Melbourne, no doubt with help from Bob Chamberlain. With Jumbo, living in Australia, the car in England and the turbo arrangements being finalised in the USA, the logistics in the days of snail-mail must have been huge.

(T King)
(T King)

In spite of these difficulties, it all came together in a most satisfactory way with 550 bhp showing on the dynamometer at 4,500 rpm. This was sufficient to hurl the beast down an Autoroute near Ghent in Belgium at 164 mph one-way and a two-way average of 158.2 mph over one kilometre. Jumbo said that he was faster than all the Ferraris; there must have been a lot of dropped jaws!

Jumbo married for the only time in 1973 to Kathleen who was a car enthusiast and had been secretary to Chris Shorrock of supercharger fame. For the first time he was forced to wear socks on more formal occasions – a real concession to love.  Jumbo died in 1983 and in October 1984 a two-day auction of 733 lots from his collection was held in Sydney consisting of ‘A unique and most important collection of Vintage and Thoroughbred Cars and Motorbikes, Automobilia, Steam Models and Artifacts, Clocks and Horological Items, Marine Models. Flight – Aircraft engines and Models’, according to the auction catalogue.

They don’t make’m like that anymore.

Etcetera…

This is what some coarse Australians perhaps describe as an English Peach. If you avert your eyes northwards, Jumbo’s Blower Bentley is at the rear.

Credits…

Special thanks to Paul Cummins for the fantastic images from Dad, Ian Cummins Collection, Bob King, Gavin Bain, Tom King

Jumbo 1930s: Life, Let Me At It! (Cummins Collection)

Tailpiece

Doug Nye relates the following tale about Jumbo: On one Bugatti Rally in France, ‘Jumbo’ suffered constant trouble with a sinking carburettor float. At the Chateau Hotel lunch stop he tore down the troublesome carburettor, removed the punctured float and took it into the Hotel kitchen, where he wanted to boil it in a saucepan of water, to vaporise the methanol fuel which had filled it, so he could solder the hole and return his Bugatti to clean running.

With many hand signals and much volume, he explained to the Chef what he wanted to do, and he was assigned a gas ring, a saucepan full of water, and some tongs. But what ‘Jumbo’ had overlooked, and what the Chef was not warned of, was the explosive nature of vaporised methanol.

Laid out in that kitchen, ready for service, were plate after plate of cherishingly-crafted hors d’oeuvres, many in aspic or decorated with mayonnaise. But as ‘Jumbo’s fuel-filled carburettor float reached the critical temperature; methanol gas began to bubble from its puncture. ‘Jumbo’ lifted it from the saucepan whereupon, with a penetrating whistle, a fine spray of heated methanol shot out as if from a garden sprinkler. That airborne spray was instantly ignited by the lighted gas ring.

Deafened, dazzled by the flash, the kitchen staff stumbled around, tall hats blown off. And – worse – the blast had filled the air with floating ash, which began to settle on those exquisitely crafted hors d’oeuvres. The panic was like a Marseilles bus queue in the rush hour.

And from it all strode the majestic, Britannic, figure of ‘Jumbo’ Goddard, triumphantly clutching his dry, and empty, carburettor float in those borrowed tongs.

Within minutes his Bugatti was running clean – which is more than could be said for the Chateau Hotel’s kitchens.

Finito…

image
(GP Library)

Robert Benoist’s Delage 2LCV passes the Dunlop Bridge during his run to third place, Grand Prix D’Europe, Lyon, France on August 3, 1924…

100,000 people watched the 500 mile race, 35 laps of the 14.4 mile road course took winner Giuseppe Campari seven hours, five minutes and 34 seconds to complete in his supercharged 2-litre Alfa Romeo P2 straight-eight. Albert Divo and Benoist were second and third in normally aspirated Delage 2LCV V12s.

The 2-litre Grand Prix formula utilised between 1922 and 1925 was a noteworthy period of innovation. Its key elements included engines of no more than 2-litres, a minimum weight of 650kg, a minimum body width of 80cm and obligatory riding mechanics.

Paddock panorama (MotorSport)
All the fun of the fair, start-finish straight, Lyon 1924 (MotorSport)
Segrave, Sunbeam GP, fastest lap and fifth place after magneto dramas was a good result (MotorSport)

The European GP meeting was a major carnival which included races for motorcycles, bikes, cyclecars and touring cars in its program.

Twenty cars took the rolling start of the race, gridded two-by-two in race number order, at 9am on the Sunday. Two motorcycles led the way, then turned off the course as the cars took the flag lowered from the timekeepers grandstand.

At the end of the first lap Henry Segrave’s Sunbeam straight-six s/c, led by four seconds from Antonio Ascari’s Alfa, Kenelm Lee Guiness’ Sunbeam, then Campari’s Alfa, Pietro Bordino’s Fiat 805 straight-eight s/c, Divo’s Delage, Louis Wagner’s Alfa and Chassagne’s Bugatti T35 straight-eight – on the debut of a car destined to become the greatest ever production GP car.

Antonio Ascari, Alfa P2 from Albert Divo, Delage 2LCV – the unsupercharged V12 of which gave about 120bhp @ 6000rpm – then #7, the Jean Chassagne driven Bugatti T35 (MotorSport)
Les Sept Chemins corner (MotorSport)
‘Move over champ!’ mechanic Carignano exclaims to Felice Nazzaro, a tight Fiat 805 cockpit fit. #20 is Onesimo Marchisio (MotorSport)

By the end of lap three Bordino led, a position he held on lap four before being passed by Ascari who then led Guinness, Bordino, Campari, Wagner, Dario Resta’s Sunbeam and Divo. Ascari’s average lap-time was 12m05sec.

After six laps, Bordino had retaken the lead in a high speed battle with Ascari – he held it for a further six laps. After 11 laps it was the two red cars then Guinness, Campari, Divo, Wagner, Resta, Costantini, Bugatti T35, Benoist, and Pastore, Fiat 805.

Ascari then led when Bordino pitted to work on his front brakes for over 30 minutes. Resta pitted, so too Count Louis Zborowski’s privately entered Miller 122 straight-eight, and three Bugattis – Ascari led from Guinness, Campari and Divo.

‘Count’ Louis Zborowski, Miller 122 – with SCH Davis alongside – from Henry Segrave’s pursuing Sunbeam. Zborowski’s car used a 120bhp @ 5000rpm unsupercharged, DOHC, two-valve straight-eight jewel designed by Harry Arminius Miller in Los Angeles. After Lou’s fatal ’24 Italian GP Mercedes crash, 122 chassis 2302-X (probably) was sold and raced briefly in the UK, then NZ for several years, then sporadically in Australia. Restored by Lance Dixon’s Melbourne team in the mid-1970s, it was sold to a US collector shortly thereafter (MotorSport)
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Louis Wagner’s Alfa P2 in fourth, leads Dario Resta’s Sunbeam GP in 10th (MotorSport)
Bugatti pit with no shortage of new alloy wheels to hand (MotorSport)

Guinness led after Ascari pitted for fuel and rear wheels on lap 17, while Zborowski retired when the Miller’s front axle worked loose from its chassis. Campari led at the end of the lap from Guinness, Divo, Ascari, Benoist and Wagner. Bordino retired. When Campari stopped for fuel on lap 19 Ascari led from Campari, Guinness and Divo, fourth.

Guinness retired with a Sunbeam gearbox hors ‘d combat on lap 21 – the order was then Ascari and Campari in Alfa Romeo P2s, Divo and Benoist, Delage, Wagner, Alfa and Segrave, Sunbeam until lap 25. The perils of riding mechanics were made clear when Segrave changed his on lap 22 after M Marocchi was badly hurt by a tread thrown up by another car, as did Divo on lap 24 after M Fretet was over-worked. Down in sixth place Segrave set a 11m19sec lap record – 122.71km/h. After 695km/30 laps, the remaining 11 car field comprised Ascari, Campari, Divo, Benoist, Wagner, Segrave, Rene Thomas’ Delage, Chassagne and Fridrich in Bugatti T35s, Resta, and Garnier in the fifth Bugatti T35 which took the start.

Battle of Bugatti T35s: Leoncio Garnier from Pierre De Vizcaya (MotorSport)
Giulio Ramponi pushed Antonio Ascari’s P2 vigorously after a lengthy stop, but it won’t fire late in the race. Vittorio Jano’s design had a straight-eight, supercharged, DOHC, two-valve 1987cc engine giving about 140bhp @ 5500rpm (MotorSport)

On lap 33 Ascari slowed with engine dramas, ceding the lead to Campari, then Divo also passed Antonio who pitted on lap 35. There, Ascari and Giulio Ramponi, his riding mechanic, changed plugs and added water, but the car refused to fire despite valiant attempts by the intrepid mechanic to push-start the ailing P2 slightly uphill.

The crowd cheered Giuseppe Campari home in 7hr 5min 34.6sec – Alfa Romeo had won an emphatic first international victory, the beautiful Alfa P2 was designed by recent Fiat escapee, Vittorio Jano. Then came Albert Divo just over a minute later, and Robert Benoist’s Delage 2LCVs, then Louis Wagner, P2, Henry Segrave’s Sunbeam and Rene Thomas’ 2LCV.

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The winner Giuseppe Campari celebrates with one-metre long Italian sausage, Alfa Romeo P2 (unattributed)
Campari’s winning P2 at rest (MotorSport)

That year the other major race wins were shared. The Alfa Romeo P2 won the Circuito di Cremona and Italian GP with Antonio Ascari at the wheel, while Enzo Ferrari was victorious in Pescara’s Coppa Acerbo aboard an RLTF24 3.6-litre straight six.

Christian Werner won Targa on a Mercedes TF24 2-litre four, Giuseppe Morandi, the Circuito del Mugello in an OM 665S 2-litre six, and Henry Segrave the GP de San Sebastian aboard a Sunbeam GP. Finally, Guido Meregalli won the Circuito del Garda in a Diatto 20S 2-litre four in November.

Etcetera…

(MotorSport)

The French wallopers keep an eye on Ettore Bugatti’s flotilla of 2-litre unsupercharged, SOHC, two-valve 90bhp straight-eight Type 35s.

The best placed of the five cars entered were Chassagne, seventh, and Fridrich, eighth – with plenty more to come globally over the following decade. #18 is the Pierre de Vizcaya car, #13 Ernst Fridrich and #22 Meo Costantini.

(MotorSport)

Henry Segrave through a quick right-hander, and Dario Resta in the paddock below.

The 1924 GP Sunbeam had a 4inch longer, and 2 1/2 inch lower chassis than the ’23 model. Its six-cylinder DOHC, two-valve 1988cc Roots supercharged engine gave 138bhp @ 5500 rpm, compared with its normally aspirated sibling’s 106bhp in 1923.

(MotorSport)

After the Great War, the race organisers, l’Automobile-Club de France turned the oldest GP into an invitational race, Germans and Austrians were not invited that year.

Pietro Bordino, Fiat 805, DNF brakes (MotorSport)

While none of the Fiat 805s finished the race, these epochal designs cast a long shadow. They were the first to win a Grand Prix using a 146bhp @ 5500rpm supercharged engine when Carlo Salamano triumphed in the 1923 European GP at Monza. The bulk of the grid followed their lead in 1924 – the dominant template of race winning GP cars was set until 1951; front-engined machines powered by supercharged, straight-eight, DOHC, two-valve engines, with all exceptions duly recognised!

Fiat pit, Onesimo Marchisio 805, DNF engine. Note the stepped seating positions of driver in front, and mechanic behind the pilots left shoulder (MotorSport)

Credits…

GP Library, MotorSport Images, Hans Etzodt’s wonderful race report in kolumbus.fi

Tailpiece: The course…

image
(unattributed)

The 37.63km Lyon-Givors circuit was used for the 1914 French GP but was shortened to 23.14km for 1924.

The start was about 14km south of Lyon on the RN86. From there the course headed south on short straights passing the outskirts of Givors, where the road turned right, south-west, twisting along the River Gier valley before a right-turn then uphill to Pont Rompu.

The course then turned right again on a high-speed return straight heading north-east. At the end, after 6km, there was a sharp right turn leading to the famous Piege de la Mort, a difficult left turn and Les Esses, followed by a few twists before Le Sept Chemins a right hairpin shortly before the start-finish line, grandstand and pits.

Finito…

(L Hemer)

If a 5-litre 500bhp McLaren M10B Chev F5000 is a Big Mac – it is – then a liddl’ 1.6-litre 210bhp F2 McLaren must be a Little Mac.

“Niel Allen in the perfect little McLaren M4A FVA, the sweetest sound I ever heard…in The Esses at Warwick Farm on Saturday afternoon, December 6, 1969,” and so say all of us Lynton Hemer!

Niel qualified fourth in this meeting, the final 1969 WF Gold Star round, and finished third behind the Bartlett/Stewart Alec Mildren Racing speedsters.

Chassis M4A/2 is a famous little jigger, driven with great success in the 1968 Tasman Series by Piers Courage. His giant-killing performances against the 2.5-litre cars – including a win at the Longford final round – pretty much re-launched a career which had stalled a bit; by the end of 1969 he had vaulted into the F1 Top Ten.

Niel Allen bought the M4A after Piers returned to Europe, doing well with it but also having a huge, high speed crash at Lakeside. Re-tubbed by John Joyce at Bowin Cars it also provided the platform for Warwick Brown to strut his stuff before he stepped up into…a Big Mac!

Some further reading, here on Courage at Longford; Longford Tasman: ‘South Pacific Trophy’ 4 March 1968 and Piers Courage… | primotipo… and here on the M4A in Euro F2 in 1967 The Wills ‘BARC 200’, F2 Silverstone, March 1967… | primotipo…

Credit…

Lynton Hemer

(L Hemer)

Finito…

Herbert Johnson were one of the preferred purveyors of bash-hats to racing’s elite in the pre-Buco, pre-Bell early-mid 1960’s era.

The company, founded in 1889, made its name for its silk-velvet top-hats. By the outbreak of World War 1 its output was dominated by the demands of the military. Goldie Gardner was the first racer to commission a ‘protective hat’ from then proprietor, Geoffrey Glazier. Stirling Moss was a later customer as demand for the firm’s race products grew.

(K Devine)

Lex Davison is shown so equipped at Caversham, near Perth in November 1962. It’s the Australian Grand Prix meeting, the four-times AGP winner is shown on the dummy-grid – looking very pucka in Herbie Johnson with British Racing Drivers Club badge on his overalls – about to jump aboard Len Lukey’s Ford Galaxie in a mixed touring/sportscar support race. The nose of the Elite belongs to Anthony Osborne.

Credits…

Ad from Motor Racing 1948-1949 BRDC Yearbook, Ken Devine

Tailpiece…

‘If yerv’ got a $10 head wear a $10 helmet’ was Bell’s compelling mid-sixties tagline. A mix of technology and innovation, quality, marketing and a great distribution network ensured the Bell Corporation did their bit to improve the safety of our sport. Dan Gurney’s Eagle depicted is his 1966-68 F1 Mk1 Weslake V12

Finito…

Bruce McLaren setting up a selfie before the Lady Wigram Trophy, Tasman Series, 23 January 1965…

Sorting his goggles in any event, Cooper T79 Climax. The cars in the background are the #9 Bill Thomasen Brabham BT4 Climax and Red Dawson’s Cooper T53 Climax ‘Lowline’.

What stood out on an initial scan of this bunch of photos are those big tall white-wall Firestone tyres on large fifteen inch wheels. It’s the start of the tyre-war; Firestone and Goodyear had just entered the domain which had been a cosy little monopoly for Dunlop for the previous few years.

Bruce won the first Tasman Cup in 1964 with the ‘first McLarens’- the Cooper T70’s Bruce and Wally Willmott constructed at the Cooper factory in Surbiton the year before were Dunlop shod machines. Click here for a piece on these cars; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

Admirers of the Clark Lotus 32B monocoque chassis, Wigram (A McKee)

It was going to be tough to knock Jim Clark’s Dunlop shod Lotus 32B Climax off in 1965- Bruce and Phil Hill’s campaigns were said to be sluggish at the series outset until Bruce and his boys adapted the suspension geometry and settings to the American tyres. Mind you, a close look at the results suggests Bruce was not far off the pace from the get-go.

The commercial relationship with Firestone was an important one for the entrepreneurial Kiwi as he assembled the technical partners and funding to take his nascent team forward- Bruce McLaren Racing’s first F1 season was in 1966.

Jack Brabham signed with Goodyear from 1965, that year of learning with the Akron giant was a critical foundation piece for Brabham Racing Organisation’s successful tilts at the 1966 and 1967 F1 championships for drivers and constructors.

Jim Clark had one of the greatest of seasons any driver ever had in 1965- he won an F1 drivers title, the Indy 500, the Tasman Cup plus a sprinkling of F2, touring car and other wins- the breadth of his achievements in that twelve month period has never been matched, or is ever likely to be I expect.

The start of that lot was in New Zealand- whilst Graham Hill won the first Tasman round, the NZ GP at Pukekohe in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax, Clark won the next two on the trot at Levin, where he won from the scrapping Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer aboard BT11A and BT7A’s respectively, and here, on the Wigram Airfield on 23 January from McLaren and Palmer- Jim acquired Clark’s series winning Lotus at its end. Bruce was obviously getting the hang of the Firestones mind you- he matched the lap record Clark set in the preliminary race in the championship event.

Off to Teretonga – famously the most southerly race track on the planet – Clark won again from McLaren and Phil Hill in the other Bruce McLaren Racing Cooper- an updated T70 raced by Bruce and the late Tim Mayer the year before.

Jim at the wheel, 32B ‘beetle-back’ all enveloping bodywork, ZF gearbox. #49 in the background is the Peter Gillum Cooper T67 Ford FJ (A McKee)
The off. Bruce with Frank Gardner’s distinctive Alec Mildren Racing yellow Brabham BT11A Climax alongside (A McKee)

That Bruce was getting the chassis/tyres sorted was further indicated by his pace- he pulled alongside Clark on lap 20, but Jim had enough in hand to pull away- taking the duo clear of Hill, Grant (ex-Jack 1962 AGP Brabham BT4 Climax, a car later to put John McCormack on the map) and Palmer.

The summary of the balance of the series is this; Clark won from grid three at Warwick Farm on 14 February whilst Bruce was Q5 and DNF engine. Brabham joined the Series in Sydney aboard a new BT11A- he was second from Q4. Matich was third from pole.

At Melbourne’s Sandown a week later, Jack won from pole with Jim second from Q2, Phil Hill third from Q6 and Bruce fourth from Q4- Goodyear, Dunlop, Firestone, Firestone if you like…

The seven round series ended at Longford with the Australian Grand Prix on 1 March 1965. Bruce won from pole from Brabham, Hill P and Hill G, Bruce Sergent observed that ‘Longford saw the McLaren cars come resoundingly into their own with good short-stroke engines and the small frontal area and shallow tread of the Firestones on this ultra fast circuit.’

Clark’s second half of the series was not as dominant as his first half. This was in large measure due to Jack’s presence and the pace of the McLaren Coopers- he won three races in New Zealand and once in Australia, but took the 1965 Tasman Cup with 35 points from McLaren’s solo victory and 24 points, then Jack with a win and a points haul of 21 from only three races. Brabham certainly would have given Jim a run for his money had he contested the championship in full. Gardner, Phil Hill and Jim Palmer were equal fourth…Or Dunlop, Firestone, Goodyear, Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop.

Wigram Shell Team compound, from this end; Bruce Abernathy Cooper T66 Climax, John Riley Lotus 18/21 Climax, Andy Buchanan #8 Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5 twin-cam, perhaps the Scuderia Veloce Graham Hill Brabham BT11A Climax and uncertain closest to the truck (A McKee)

Those early years of the F1 tyre war rolled as follows; Dunlop shod Clark’s 1965 winning Lotus 33 Climax and Stewart’s 1969 winning Matra MS80 Ford. Goodyear bagged back to back titles in 1966 and 1967 on Jack’s Brabham BT19 Repco and Denny’s Brabham BT24 Repco, while Firestones were on the Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV used by Graham Hill in 1968, and Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford in 1970.

Dunlop bailed from F1 at the end of 1970, leaving the two American giants. Then Michelin came in etcetera…and now of course we have same, same, same coz same, same, same is what is mandated by the commercial, sorry, sporting powers that be.

It was a bit different in the Tasman where Dunlop shod Clark’s winning Lotus 32B Climax and Stewart’s 1966 BRM P261, but then it was all Firestone on both Clark’s 1967 Lotus 33 Climax, 1968 Lotus 49 Ford DFW and the Ferrari Dino 246T raced by Chris Amon to victory in 1969, and Graeme Lawrence in 1970.

The Goodyear shod Mildren/Gardner Brabham BT11A Climax (A McKee)

Etcetera…

(A McKee)

Andy Buchanan awaits the off in his immaculate Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5 twin-cam, top left in white is Graeme Lawrence’s similar machine. These cars were immensely successful 1.5-litre racing cars in Australasia, and at right the red ex-Tony Shelly Lotus 18/21 of John Riley.

Credits…

Bruce Sergent on sergent.com, oldracingcars.com, Ian Smith Collection

(I Smith Collection)

Tailpiece…

Brabham went like a rocket at Longford, the 1965 Tasman’s final round, he made a cautionary stop after giving Roly Levis a love-tap when the Kiwi locked a brake going into Mountford.

In a race of new lap records, McLaren, Brabham and Phil Hill all set new marks, Jack eventually fell short of McLaren by a little over three seconds, Bruce was impeded in changing gears without a clutch in the latter stages of the race. Click here for a piece on this race; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/ and here on the 1965 Tasman Cup and Clark’s Lotus 32B; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Finito…

Birrana 274 Hart-Ford ANF2 cars at MG Corner, Phillip Island in late 1974: Bruce Allison inside Leo Geoghegan – Oz F2 Champ in Birranas in 1973-4 (Auto Action Archive)

Modern enthusiasts probably know of Birrana Racing as an outfit which won multiple Gold Stars running Reynard Formula Holdens. But for some of us, the most exciting period of Malcolm Ramsay’s lifetime passionate commitment to motor racing was the 1971-1974’ish period when he and his business partner, Tony Alcock, and their small crew at Logan Street, Adelaide built 20 or so jewels of championship winning FF, F3, F2 and Formula Atlantic single seaters. Oh yes, there was a VW powered mid-engined speedway Speedcar too, which rather shows they were not lacking innovation!

At the end of 1974, they ceased volume production, building racing cars simply wasn’t profitable. Mal constructed a few more racers in the ensuing years. Tony Alcock, the designer/fabricator, ran Bob Muir in British Formula Atlantic in 1975. Adelaide entrepreneurs Bob and Marj Brown took their two updated Birrana 273s to England for a season. Bob did well with several thirds and a fourth place in the two year old car among hotshots like Tony Brise, Jim Crawford, Brian Henton and Gunnar Nilsson.

Like Tony Brise, Tony Alcock joined Graham Hill’s Embassy Racing F1 team. Similarly, he was at the fateful Embassy Hill GH2 Ford Paul Ricard test on November 29, and subsequent Piper Aztec flight back to Elstree Airfield, England. Graham Hill crashed the aircraft in thick fog at Arkley Golf Club killing all aboard; Alcock, Hill, Brise, designer Andy Smallman and mechanic Terry Richards.

It was a monumental tragedy, to say the least.

What might have been for all of them, not least Tony Alcock? During 1974 he wrote a regular Auto Action column. This May piece is about Birrana’s design process. I found it interesting, and reproduce it for that reason, and also to put on electronic record the members of Birrana Cars during that golden 1972-1974 era.

“I always liken designers, fabricators and mechanics as the racing equivalent of a TV production team. We know that the actors get most of the recognition, but of course the truth of the matter is that without the script writer, producer, director, film crew and so on, then the actor would be nowhere. Now although the modern race driver is an important part of the final product, it is the men behind him, the fabricators, welders, machinists, fibreglass men, painters, platers etc who make up the initial 80% of the total effort.”

“It is our job, Malcolm Ramsay and myself, at Birrana Cars to assemble all these tradesmen in the correct sequence to present a product such as the 2/374 range of cars. Basically, our respective roles are something like this.”

Tony Alcock circa 1974. Anybody got a better shot? (unattributed)
1974 Oz FF Driver to Europe Series, Tin Shed, Calder: Andrew Miedecke, Birrana F73, Peter Finlay, Palliser WDF2 – not long back from success in this car in the UK/Europe – and the nose of Paul Bernasconi’s Mawer 004 (Geoff Selton)

“Starting with the previous years car, we decide on the areas which we feel need improvement and together with experiments which we have tried in some form or another during the year, we begin to formulate some sort of basic outline for our new model. At this stage I usually work at home so that the work can be achieved without interruption enabling the car to be drawn up as quickly as possible.”

“Whilst I do most of the basic design work, I reckon that two heads are better than one, so there is constant communication between Mal and myself. At the same time as the drawings start coming through, he is organising a supply of raw materials, radiator suppliers, rack and pinon assemblies, pattern makers etc.”

“From the basic chassis drawings, which comprise an overall side and top elevation, there are detailed ones of each bulkhead and suspension pickups, rear frames, suspension systems, body shape etc. From these more detailed drawings, Brian Farquhar, our welder, constructs the chassis and suspension jigs and from these the bulkheads and wishbones. Mike Lobanof machines the chassis and suspension bushes, discs, wheels, castings and so on. John Porter, our ‘March-immigre’ specialises in detail fabrication such as wing brackets, radius arms, parallel link brackets, headers, tanks, etc. I usually fold-up the tubs and Mal and I both attack the body mock-up prior to him doing the moulds. Our other man, Peter Nightingale, can usually be found stripping and rebuilding our existing cars as well as maintaining our Hart engines and Hewland gearboxes.”

“All of this is an over-simplification of the effort and just plain hard-yakka, which often means an all-nighter or two, but it is the general scene, which goes on at Elfin or Bowin or many other manufacturers.”

“As you can see it really isn’t very exciting or glamorous, all this back-room work, but to us it’s all worth it as the frustrations and heartaches suddenly vanish when our sparkling new creation is wheeled out to the start line ready for its first race.”

Sandown ANF3 race 1974, Shell Corner: Paul King and Dean Hosking in Birrana 374 Toyotas ahead of the Brian Sampson and Brian Shead Cheetah Mk5 Toyotas (Auto Action Archive)

Credits…

Tony Alcock in his Auto Action column, May 17, 1974. Thanks to Bruce Williams, Auto Action publisher/owner, Geoff Selton

Finito…

Murray Aunger in King William Street, Adelaide and his team aboard three Dort cars prior to departing for Darwin in July 1922…

Members of that Adelaide to Darwin and return trip were, left to right, Aunger with Donald McCallum, the organiser and local member of parliament, the Hon Thomas McCallum and WH Crowder of the SA Lands Department, and Cyril Aunger with Captain Samuel A White a prominent ornithologist

This article is about the exploits of Horace Hooper ‘Murray’ Aunger (April 1878-1953), sportsman, overlander, adventurer, businessman and motor engineer – born at Narridy, near Clare, South Australia.

Educated in Adelaide he was later apprenticed in the Kilkenny workshops of G. E. Fulton & Co., consulting engineers. He later joined the cycle works established by Vivian Lewis, collaborating with Tom O’Grady in the construction of the first petrol-driven car in South Australia. I wrote tangentially about Lewis and his machines a while back, click here to read the story; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/19/first-car-demonstration-or-parade-in-australia-adelaide-oval-18-october-1902/

A sportsman of note, riding Lewis bikes, Aunger was the colony’s one-mile (1.6 km) champion in 1899 and in 1901 held the Australian 50 Mile record.

As co-driver and mechanic, Aunger made two attempts with Henry Hampden ‘Harry’ Dutton to be the first to cross Australia from south to north by car.

Then there were only 500 cars registered in South Australia. Motorists facing ‘a hostile society of luddites, horse loving reactionaries, regressive law makers and over-zealous police’ wrote Dr Kieren Tranter. Dutton was then the wealthy 28 year old heir to a significant pastoral fortune, the family owned Anlaby Station outside Kapunda. Aunger was the brain and muscle behind crossing attempts which Harry later attributed to in their entirety to Aunger’s ability.

The pair left Adelaide in Dutton’s Talbot on November 25, 1907. ‘Angelina’ was powered by a 3770cc water cooled, monobloc four-cylinder engine rated at 20hp and was fitted with a four-speed gearbox.

‘Darwin lay almost 2100 miles (3380 km) away. ‘Obstacles confronted them on long sections of the route: rivers, treacherous sandhills and boulder-strewn country had to be traversed which no modern motorist would tackle without the advantage of four-wheel drive. Beyond Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, the partners met the pioneering cyclist FE Birtles. The pinion in the Talbot’s differential collapsed south of Tennant Creek, where the car was abandoned given the wet season’s onset. Dutton and Aunger returned on horseback to the railhead at Oodnadatta, South Australia, and then back to Adelaide’.

Aunger, Dutton and Dick the dog aboard Talbot ‘474’ at Burra on the second, 1908 trip (NM)

Determined to try again when the rains ended, Dutton bought another Talbot. This car, nicknamed ‘474’ after its registration number, was more powerful and had a lower axle ratio than ‘Angelina’ as a result of lessons learned the year before. Again with Aunger leading the charge, the pair left Adelaide on June 30, 1908. At Alice Springs, local special magistrate and postmaster Ern Allchurch joined the team. Ern’s ability to transmit messages along the telegraph line enabled them to keep in touch with, and confirm their position to the outside world.

Tennant Creek was reached in thirty days; the stranded ‘Angelina’ was repaired and driven in convoy to Pine Creek before being freighted by train to Darwin. Continuing their journey by car, the trailblazers reached their destination on August 20. International motoring circles recognised both expedition’s demonstrations of skill and endurance – it was one of the greatest pioneering motoring feats in Australia, the pair averaged over 50 miles a day over 42 days at the wheel. Talbot ‘474’ is preserved in the Birdwood Museum, in the Adelaide hills.

As I have written in previous articles about Australia’s pioneering motor sport days, speed-record attempts between Australia’s capital cities received wide publicity and the record breakers were our earliest motor-sporting stars.

Murray Aunger and Robert Barr Smith, Adelaide en route to Melbourne in February 1909, Napier (SLSA)

In 1909 Murray accompanied Robert Barr Smith in his Napier to set a new time for the Adelaide-Melbourne journey, the pair held the record for only a few weeks.

Aunger regained it in February 1914, driving a Prince Henry Vauxhall imported expressly for the purpose. He left Lewis Cycle Works in 1909 to establish Murray Aunger Ltd which held Willys-Overland, Vauxhall, Morris and Dort franchises.

Together with F. Bearsley – achieving speeds of over 80 miles per hour (129 km/h) on the pipeclay of the Coorong – their time was 14 hours 54 minutes. They improved the previous record time of GG White and Fred Custance set in a 35hp Talbot, 20 hours six minutes, which had stood for over five years by five hours 12 minutes.

At a time the only route to Melbourne included 90 miles of the dreaded Coorong in south-east SA, and then on to the border and into Victoria via Casterton, Hamilton and Geelong – about 100 miles further than the trip now. The 80 miles of the Coorong desert sand were negotiated in under two hours, the cars fastest speed of 80 mph was achieved on a 10 mile stretch of dried up Coorong lagoon.

They also broke the Adelaide-Broken Hill record in the same car.

Murray Aunger and, perhaps F Bearsley, testing their Vauxhall Prince Henry in 1913/14 (SLSA)

Better management of the South Australian Railways (SAR) and the need for a railway line from Adelaide to Darwin was a thread which ran through the next phase of Aunger’s life.

By 1920 the railway system was crippled by mismanagement and failure to invest. To that end, newly elected Premier, Sir Henry Barwell, appointed American William Webb to run the SAR. By 1926 the state had the most powerful locos in the country, the grand Adelaide Railway Station was Webb’s monument.

In 1922 Aunger joined another expedition – the one featured at the outset of this article – of three cars which travelled from Adelaide to Darwin and back. The group included his brother Cyril, Samuel White, H Crowder and a local parliamentarian, the Hon Thomas McCallum and his brother Donald McCallum. They explored settlement possibilities, inclusive of a railway along their route.

Samuel White in a ‘The Register’ article wrote that there was much public wrangling about the route of the north-south rail line. The plan was to drive the proposed course from Adelaide to Darwin, and then return to Adelaide via Queensland to see for themselves the nature of the terrain, its obstacles and opportunities.

Aunger, ‘the greatest overland motorist in Australia’ was engaged by the group to organise the trip. This included shipping fuel, provisions and spares sent months ahead to Oodnadatta and then 700-800 miles further north by camel train. Teams were also sent from the Darwin end as well, to be prepared for what was a large group of intrepid, influential travellers.

Aunger selected and prepared three American Dorts, machines built by the Dort Motor Car Company of Flint, Michigan. These hardy, Lycoming four-cylinder, 30 horsepower vehicles were stripped of top protective equipment and doors to make them a lighter and more suited to the demands of the Australian bush.

The three Dorts en-route to Darwin in 1922 (SLSA)

Murray was again called upon to assist in providing cars and logistics to the government in assessing possible rail routes, organising a trip in June 1923 from Adelaide to the wilds of Oodnadatta, Alice Springs and Central Australia, again using three Dorts.

The expedition was three weeks, the all-star cast included the State Governor, Sir Tom Bridges, Premier Sir Henry Barwell, William Webb, Chief Commissioner of the South Australian Railways, Thomas McCallum, who organised this trip, the earlier one in 1922 and two others. This time the Dorts were further modified with removable grips for the tyres. The party travelled by train from Adelaide to Oodnadatta, picking up the Dorts at Terowie, between Burra and Peterborough.

After returning, both the Governor and Premier called on the Commonwealth Government to extend the railway, the line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs was completed in 1929.

Later in 1923 the SAR sought cars suitable for running on rails. By November, Aunger had modified one Dort, eventually ten were in service, but they (or perhaps their drivers) were accident prone with some fatalities from collisions and roll-overs.

The first of these accidents occurred on the Clare line in December 1923 when a Dort collided with a gangers trike – fortunately the employees aboard the trike were able to jump clear. The driver of the Dort was Webb – his passenger the State Premier, Barwell. The nature of their business was Sir Henry’s attendance at a bowls tournament with Webb the taxi-driver!

Murray Aunger and the SA State Governor, Sir Tom Bridges aboard a Dort at Oodnadatta out front of the Pub (SLSA)

In 1925 Webb persuaded Aunger to become the motor engineer of the SAR, on a salary of £1000. There had been a large increase in the use of motors in the railways and Webb had commenced bus services to various parts of the State. A number of politicians believed Aunger had received favoured treatment from Webb. Webb was the subject of ongoing bitter political attacks for the American’s revolutionary changes to improve systems, processes and viability of the SAR. Aunger twice visited Britain and the USA in the course of his SAR duties.

In 1930 Webb returned to America. For several years attempts (after the Hill Labor Government lost power in 1927 and Butler Liberal Administration in 1930, in part over ongoing railway deficits and their impact on the State budget) were made in South Australian political circles to wreak petty revenge upon Aunger, despite his important part in rehabilitating the State’s railway system. He was dismissed in June 1937 for contravening Section 37 of the South Australian Railways Commissioner’s Act.

On June 6, 1942 he re-married, his first wife having died some years before, they moved to Melbourne. Aunger died on September 14, 1953 at Mordialloc, aged 75.

Whilst there is plenty of material on Aunger’s life in South Australia there is little I can find about his time in Victoria. If any of can fill in the gaps it would be great to hear from you – the fellow certainly had an amazing life of sporting, commercial and pioneering success!

Bibliography…

‘The Register’ 22 August 1922, ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’- article on Aunger by John Playford, ‘Lassetters Gold’ Warren Brown, Trove- various

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia, National Motor Museum

Tailpiece…

Dunlop ad celebrating the Aunger/Bearsley Vauxhall Prince Henry Melbourne-Adelaide record breaking run in 1914.

Finito…

 

(E Davey-Milne)

To those of us from less exalted climes, they were known as “the three ‘Ds’ from Toorak”, Dale, Duckett and Davey-Milne; all imbued with a fine sense of what a good motor car should be. They lived in close proximity, Duckett just around the corner from Davey-Milne and the Dales less than a kilometre away. They and their cars were often seen together. A fourth ‘D’ was their friend Lex Davison, four times winner of the Australian Grand Prix, but he was farming at Killara Park, near Lilydale.

Lyndon’s family had a thriving hardware business in Melbourne. He was only a teenager when he ventured to Europe in the late 1930s. Whether the primary purpose of this visit was to find a racing car is not known, but he certainly brought one back with him, the car he made famous, the Anzani Bugatti Special. Lyndon wanted a twin cam Grand Prix Bugatti – in other words, a Type 51. As these were still being actively raced in Europe, they may have been a little beyond his purse. In a London mews he did find a single cam Type 35 with a blown-up motor. With his young mind obsessed with the twin cam idea, he contacted the works of Ettore Bugatti in Molsheim, France, and was assured that they had such a car (or was it an engine) for him. This was to be a disappointing trip, for on arrival there, the only Grand Prix Bugatti they had available had but a single camshaft; he did not purchase it. He took a side trip to Nuremburg for the annual Nazi Party rally and heard Adolf Hitler’s address, an event which horrified him. On return to London, he bought the 35 sans moteur.

The opening photograph is the engineless 1925 Type 35 Grand Prix Bugatti, chassis no. 4450, as found by Lyndon in a London Mews. Lyndon noted that there was a lot of sand in the chassis rails – it had an extensive racing history at Southport Sands and other venues in the hands of TGV Selby who was later involved in the development of Bristol cars. Its first owner was Glen Kidston and it was the first Grand Prix Bugatti to be raced in England. Kidston later became one of the ‘Bentley Boys’.

(Bugatti Trust)

Glen Kidston on his way to a class second place in the Grand Prix de Provence in March, 1925. The band over the bonnet was yellow and denoted the 2-litre class.

(B King)

TVG Selby on Southport Sands. The Bugatti, chassis number 4450, can always be distinguished by the unusual bonnet lift handles that Kidston had fitted by the Nice Bugatti agent Friderich while it was there for the GP de Provence.

Lyndon’s search for a twin cam motor bore fruit when he found a brand new Anzani R1, 2 OHC, 4-cylinder, 1496cc motor; the same as fitted to the Squire motorcar. This engine, numbered R1 62, was the last engine to leave the Anzani works in Kingston-on-Thames – there were probably only 12 made. The English Bentley specialists Pacey’s were tasked with adapting the motor to the chassis, but this work was unsatisfactory and had to be redone in Australia. (Sound familiar?) A neat round tailed body was constructed by Cardigan Motor Body Works in Carlton. Initially there were problems with the motor (they had never been properly sorted by the factory, but Lyndon’s engineering skills overcame these problems).

(B King)

Lyndon Duckett in his immaculate Anzani Bugatti special.

For 10 years after the war Lyndon used the car for all sorts of motorsport. 1946 saw early success with ftd at a vintage sprint held at Lex and Diana Davison’s property, Killara Park. Duckett and the ‘Anz’ went on to be the inaugural winners of the Vintage Sports Car Club’s premier trophy, the ‘Vickery’.

(B King)

Lyndon at Marsden Park, NSW.

Not only did Lyndon set fastest under 1500cc time at Rob Roy, but he also beat allcomers at Marsden Park in a quarter mile sprint after an epic drive from Melbourne. Motor racing was just getting back on its feet after WWII and events were few and far between. Lyndon and Lex Davison had decided to make the long journey to north-west Sydney; Lex accompanied by his 17-year-old fiancé Diana Crick on the bodyless chassis of his 1500cc Alfa Romeo.

They had only reached the northern outskirts of Melbourne when the Alfa had a fit of Italian temperament and Lex needed Lyndon, the engineer, to travel with him. Diana, who did not have a licence, was installed in the Anzani and given a quick lesson on gear changing. In particular, she was told to get into top gear and stay there until she reached the outskirts of Albury, over 300 kilometres north! Lyndon had many more successes with the car, including wins at Ballarat Airfield races in 1950. Its last competitive outing with Lyndon ended as it had begun with a handicap win in the Tasmanian Trophy at Longford Road Races in 1955.

(B King)

It was wet in Ballarat for the 1950 Road Races held on Ballarat Airfield. It won the D Grade race. Note the stub exhausts.

(B King)

The writer also had 52 years of pleasure and some success in Historic Racing with the car. Here it is seen on the long climb up the hill at Laguna Seca in 2003 at a ‘Bugatti Grand Prix’.

(AMS)

This drawing of Lyndon’s Semmering Mercedes, aircraft seats and all, appeared in the July 1947 Australian Motor Sport.

The Anzani Bugatti could hardly have been off the boat from England when the young Lyndon purchased this monster. At the time of Bob Shepherd’s AMS drawing, there was much discussion as to just what type of Mercedes it was. At 17.3 litres, it did not conform with the specifications of the 1907 or the 1908 Mercedes Grand Prix cars – it was larger than both and the largest Mercedes ever. Subsequent research has identified it as a 1908 car developed specifically to win the 10Km Semmering hill climb in Austria; it succeeded in 1908 and 1909. Lebbeus Hordern was just 18 years of age when his merchant father died, leaving him a £4,000,000 fortune. What better way to spend it than on the ultimate bird puller?

(G McKaige)
(G McKaige)

No account exists of Lebbeus using the car, but the next owner Colin Smith, another millionaire, competed in 1911 at Artillery Hill, south of Sydney, before selling the car to Percy Cornwell, owner of potteries in Brunswick, an inner suburb of Melbourne. It was raced in a few events by Cornwell who also had the notorious Rupert Jeffkyns drive it for him before it passed to Ike Watson in Melbourne who dismantled it. It was bought by a brave young Lyndon in January 1942, and he had it running within a year. He confirmed that it had engine dimensions of 175×180 mm, consistent with the hill climb car. The gear ratios were equally heroic, 1st, 5:1; 2nd, 2.25:1; 3rd, 1.5:1 and 4th, direct drive.

(SLV)

Rob Roy with the Semmering Mercedes and Anzani Bugatti; also, the Davison ‘Little Alfa’ 6C1500 and 38/250 Mercedes Benz with Lex at the rear.

In July 1953 at Fisherman’s Bend race track the Melbourne Mercedes dealer attracted some attention which they may have preferred to have avoided. They pitted their new 300 model against the 1908 car, and to the delight of the considerable crowd, it was soundly beaten.

The writer recalls the only time he saw the Mercedes mobile; it was on the Argus Veteran Car rally in January 1955. The car was observed leaving a control in St Kilda Road and each time the engine fired the rear tyres left two black skid marks on the road – impressive.

(G McKaige)

Barn find. Lyndon’s Type FENC Isotta Fraschini.

This remarkably complete little jewel of a 1908 Isotta Fraschini Voiturette was found in rural Victoria; two of them had come here and they both survive. There are three others known, two in Italy and one in USA.

(G McKaige)

Professionally Lyndon had a motor engineering business in west-central Melbourne where he attended to client’s cars while accumulating a collection of vehicles for his own amusement.

At the time of his death, he had low-mileage Alfas, an Aston Martin, a Ducati and several other bits and pieces, including a rare Jowett Jupiter R1 and a Tojeiro chassis to which he hoped to mate a new MG twin-cam motor which was still in its box. I believe this was for a projected Le Mans car that he and Jumbo Goddard had dreamt up. The Isotta Fraschini remains with his sister.

(B King)

Isotta Fraschini FENC in recent times with Noel Cunningham at the wheel in Victoria’s Western District on a Bugatti Rally.

Etcetera…

Enthusiast, historian and restorer, Chester McKaige knew Lyndon as a child and shares his memories.

“He was a great bloke, he Bob Chamberlain, Earl Davey-Milne and a couple of Bentley Club bods in the Bentley Club were great to a kid growing up.”

“I have many fond memories of Lyndon and his mother Edith. The huge kitchen in Towers Road, Toorak, with kitchen table at one end piled high with car magazines. The stag head on the wall in the hall, the mosaic covered fountain. Lyndon’s obnoxious nephew too! Edith teaching me to play the saxophone. And towards his later years, the stick to keep the hoist up at his garage. The huge quantity of oil filters he had in stock that turned out to be empty boxes or filled with used ones.”

“I was his Godson and fortunate to get a guernsey in his will, so I was able to buy his Coventry Climax engined Morris Minor.  I have his garage sign hanging on the wall in my garage. He used to keep spare cash under the carpet in his cars. I found $8 in $2 notes under the carpet in Morris. Dad used to call him Fella”.

Credits…

Australian Motor Sport, 1947, ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand’ 1920 to 2012. King and McGann, Serpollete’s Tricycle, Volumes 2 & 3. https://earlymotor.com/serpolettes-tricycle/ The Brescia Bugatti, Bob King, Earl Davey-Milne, State Library of Victoria, George McKaige

Tailpiece, or piece of tail?…

(B King)

Finito…

image

(Brier Thomas)

Jackie Stewart leads Jim Clark through Lakeside’s Eastern Loop during the 1967 Tasman round at the fast Queensland circuit on 12 February…

 You can just see that the lightly loaded right-front wheel of Jackie’s 2070cc BRM P261 V8 is off-the-deck. Jim is chasing him in Lotus 33 R14 powered by a 2-litre variant of Coventry Climax’s 1.5-litre FWMV V8 Climax built for Lotus to tide them over pending delivery of the BRM H16 engines they used in the 1966, the first 3-litre GP year. The Ford Cosworth DFV V8 arrived at the ’67 Dutch GP in the back of a Lotus 49 and changed the GP world of course.

Stewart was the reigning Tasman Champion, BRM cleaned up in 1966 winning seven of the eight races – Jackie won four, Graham Hill two and Dickie Attwood one.

It was a lot tougher in 1967.

Lotus put to one side the 2.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder engines they had previously used in their Tasman cars and used the F1 33 powered by the Climax V8, creating a very competitive mount despite giving away 500cc to some of the competition.

Jim finished all eight rounds and won five races including three point-scoring events. Jack Brabham’s Brabham Repco 640 Series V8s driven by he and Denny Hulme were also fast but had poor reliability. Jackie took two wins in 1967 for second in the series but was well behind Jim.

The BRMs were still very competitive in 1967 but the final increase in capacity – and resulting power and torque proved a bit too much for the transmission. BRM suffered gearbox problems in ’67 with the 2070cc variant of the P56/60 V8, they had not experienced with the 1930cc version used the year before.

image

(HRCCT)

The photo above shows the pair again, this time with Clark in front of Stewart during the final 1966 Tasman round at Longford, Tasmania on 7 March.

There Jackie won from teammate Graham Hill, Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco third. It was the Brabham Repco V8 combination’s third race, by the early European Grands Prix the 1965 BT19 chassis and Repco 620 Series V8 was finding ultimate race and championship winning pace and reliability.

Clark’s 1966 Tasman Lotus was the 39 Coventry Climax FPF, he took one round win it at Warwick Farm.

I wrote an article a while back about the ’67 Tasman and the seasons of Clark, Stewart and Hulme, see here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/ This article on the P56 BRM V8 may also be of interest; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/05/motori-porno-stackpipe-brm-v8/

Credits…

Brier Thomas, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania

Finito…