Posts Tagged ‘1956 Australian Tourist Trophy’

‘XKD520’ was the seventh production D-type, it was ordered through the ‘Brysons’ Bridge Road, Richmond, Melbourne Jaguar dealership- the two storey glass sided showrooms housed lots of lovely curvaceous Jags and was well known to several generations of Melbourne enthusiasts…

The building is still there but houses ‘Dan Murphy’s’, a national booze outfit these days. The order for the racer was placed in June 1955 by Kew driver/dealer Bib Stillwell, who later recalled: ‘I purchased the car new from Jaguar and it arrived in Melbourne, Australia in January 1956. I competed with the car for two seasons and had numerous successes with it. Click here for a short but fascinating bio on Jack Bryson, the man who brought Jaguar to Australia; ‘http://www.johnbryson.net/memoirs/jack-bryson-an-uneducated-man

In the later stages of his racing career Stillwell developed into a driver of world class who was competitive with the generation of internationals who raced in Australasia during the immediate pre-Tasman and Tasman Cup (commenced 1964) years- he was the winner of Australia’s Gold Star, the national drivers championship for four years on the trot from 1962 to 1965 in Coopers and Brabhams. After retiring from racing his local and global business career in car retailing and aviation was even more successful, click here for a bit on the amazing Bib; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

Citizens of Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs will easily pick the location of the ‘Sports Cars and Specials’ (good magazine by the way, haven’t got many of ‘em but wish I had more) shot of Bib and his new car as on Kew Boulevard not too far from the Chandler Highway intersection- that’s Willsmere ‘nut house’ as my Dad useter delicately call the local mental health facility, in the distance. That stretch of road does not look that much different sixty-five years later.

Sir William Lyons and Jack Bryson, date and place unknown, mid fifties perhaps (J Bryson)

 

Stillwell slices into Longford’s Viaduct on the way to second place in the 1963 South Pacific Championship race- Brabham BT4 Climax 2.7 FPF, the winner was Bruce McLaren, Cooper T62 Climax (K Devine)

 

Bib Stillwell and Australian Jaguar concessionaire, Jack Bryson during XKD520’s debut weekend, Albert Park Moomba meeting March 1956 (unattributed)

The car was signed off for delivery by Jaguar’s famous test driver Norman Dewis as ok for delivery on 15 November 1955, it’s build was completed in September.

Australia’s ‘wharfies’ or waterside workers, were renowned for their militance, when the car arrived from the UK it was during one of their infamous occasional strikes, only a great deal of sweet talking by Bib ensured the precious cargo was unloaded and processed to make its planned local debut at Albert Park during the March Labour Day, Moomba long weekend, Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F was on the same ship, perhaps they put together a fund to appease the burly toilers to do the right thing…

There, he did very well, finishing second to Tony Gaze’ HWM Jaguar in the Moomba Tourist Trophy and on the second weekend of the carnival, gearbox dramas sorted, took the machine to victory in the Argus Cup in front of Stan Jones’ Cooper T38 Jaguar in a classy field- over 100,000 spectators are quoted as attending on each of the two days of this meeting.

(T Scott)

 

Jones, Cooper Jaguar, Stillwell, Jaguar D Type and Tony Gaze at right in his HWM Jaguar, Albert Park Moomba meeting, March 1956- beautiful atmo shot, note the man with the king-sized Oz flag(unattributed)

 

Jones driving with all the brio for which he was famous, Cooper T38 Jaguar only 12 months old itself, pushing Bib’s ‘spankers’ D Type hard at the Park, March 1956 (Ed Steet)

At the Easter Bathurst meeting the three recently acquired ‘outright cars’ new to the daunting circuit were the Hunt and Stillwell machines plus Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 he had acquired from good mate Tony Gaze after the end of the New Zealand internationals that summer- and so it was that the feature race, the Bathurst 100, was won by Davison from Hunt and Stillwell- Bib stopped the timing clocks on Conrod at 148.6mph.

 

Bib chasing the Brabham Cooper T39 Bobtail Climax during the 1956 ATT at Albert Park- heading through Jaguar Corner. Moss won the race- Bib was second behind Pitt in the ‘resident Australians’ classification and Jack was first in the under 1500cc class (unattributed)

 

Stillwell’s Jag being fuelled at Albert Park during the November/December 1956 AGP meeting (B Hickson)

 

Stillwell’s D Type at Bathurst on its first appearance at Mount Panorama, Easter 1956- lapping the J Martin MG Spl during the Bathurst 100 in which he was third (unattributed)

 

Bib, Bathurst Easter 1956, who is that alongside? (unattributed)

 

Shortly after Bathurst, on April 29, Bib set a new open class record at outer Melbourne’s Rob Roy Hillclimb ‘with his Jaguar D Type which can hardly be classed as an ideal hill-climb machine. His time of 27.48 seconds was exceptionally fast’ AMS reported.

Stillwell and his crew took the car to Port Wakefield, north of Adelaide and had an easier time of it than his closest competitors in the Formula Libre 30 lap South Australian Trophy- the race was held in wet conditions and as such his mudguards made it easier to see!, he won from Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F and Eldred Norman’s stunning Zephyr Special s/c.

AMS in its August issue noted that ‘Bib Stillwell should find the D Jaguar a better behaved car on its next outing, as the factory, impressed with his many wins, have sent him out the latest type rear-end assembly. He will be closer now than ever to the GP machinery!’

Stillwell raced the car at Port Wakefield again in early October and had success- third in an A Grade Scratch race which was won by Ted Gray’s Tornado 2 Chev, a win in the 20 lap Sportscar feature- the main event on the card, and fourth in the Racing Car Handicap.

Then it was back to the team’s longtime Kew headquarters in Cotham Road to prepare for the Fishermans Bend meeting in mid-October. This short trip yielded a win in the Sports and Saloon 8 lap event from Paul England’s Ausca Holden and Doug Whiteford in an Austin Healey 100S.

Travelling much further afield near Toowoomba, north of Brisbane, Stillwell took on Bill Pitt’s D Type on home ground at Lowood in the Queensland Tourist Trophy held over 1 hour on November 4. Pitt won the 76 mile race from Bib who had expected the Geordie Anderson owned car to retire after it experienced gearbox problems earlier in the day, this was only rectified moments before the race commenced.

 

Port Wakefield, October 1956- Bib, another car and white Austin Healey 100S of Ron Phillips (unattributed)

 

Stillwell on the front row at Phillip Island in December 1956 alongside the G Baillieu Triumph, Derek Jolly, Decca Mk2 Climax and Paul England, Ausca Holden

 

Australian Tourist Trophy 1956, Albert Park- a row back from the leading Maserati 300S of Moss and Behra are the Stillwell, at left and Bill Pitt D Type Jaguars, with part of Brabham’s Cooper Bobtail at far left, then the Phillips AH 100S and Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S (unattributed)

 

Back at Albert Park in November for the 1956 AGP ‘Olympic Meetings’ he was fifth in the Australian Tourist Trophy behind the factory Maserati 300S’ of Stirling Moss and Jean Behra, then came Ken Wharton aboard the Ferrari 750 Monza he would roll to his death in New Zealand a couple of months hence, and Pitt’s D Type.

Bib determined that his next logical racing step was into an outright Formula Libre single-seater and at the end of the meeting it was reported he had agreed to buy Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo. Reg raced the car in Australia and then the New Zealand internationals throughout the summer of 1957 before heading back to England and a new job, having retired from the cockpit, as Aston Martin’s Team Manager.

The deal fell over, but Bibs path was set, the near new Jaguar was advertised for sale in AMS, and before too long Bib bought Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F when that mighty fine driver retired way too early to focus on his Melbourne motor dealerships through which he amassed a fortune- he is still with us too.

Stillwell raced the Maserati for the first time in New Zealand- DNF in the NZ GP after 50 laps, the race was won by the very car Bib was purported to be buying- Parnell’s Super Squalo- his racing of the 250F is a tangent I will leave for another time.

Bib’s last run in the D Type was at the Phillip Island opening meeting on 15 December 1956, he was second in the Bill Thompson Memorial Trophy 12 lap feature, thirty seconds adrift of Jack Brabham- home for some summer Australasian racing in a Cooper T41 Climax, and fourth in the Formula Libre race also won by Jack.

 

AMS January 1957

At the end of the year ‘XKD 520’ was sold via dealer and former AGP winner John Crouch to the Ampol Oil Company for Jack Davey, a colourful and immensely popular radio personality for over thirty years.

John Andrew Davey was a Kiwi, after education at Kings College, Auckland he came to Sydney in 1931 and performed as a crooner with two radio stations- he was soon employed as an announcer on another network, possessed of a quick wit and a mellifluous voice Davey was away; click here for a summary of a marvellous life; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/davey-john-andrew-jack-9905

He was a lifelong car enthusiast who contested the first Redex Reliability Trial around Australia in 1953 in a Ford Customline with co-driver Lou Moss, finishing 91st.

Jack’s health was in decline, despite family and friends not wanting him to compete he again ran in 1954, but it was too much for him, he collapsed and was admitted to St Lukes Hospital not long after the event. Whilst his doctors, no doubt supported by friends and his commercial associates, ‘banned him’ from the 1955 event he did run in 1956 in another Customline and in 1957 and 1958 in Chryslers- in ’58 he achieved his best result, eighth in the Ampol Trial sharing the Chrysler Royal AP1 V8 with Eric Nelson and Bill Murison.

When Davey took delivery of XKD520 he had it repainted red, using it as a roadie and for promotional purposes, a passenger windscreen was also fitted. The D-type was left in the care of Bill Murray, whilst he was driving the car back to Sydney probably for use as part of the 1957 Ampol Round Australia Trial pre-promotion, the 1947 AGP winner lost control at high speed not too far from the Harwood Ferry which crossed (until 1966) the Clarence River on the Pacific Highway 650km from Sydney, and smashed into the back of a timber laden semi-trailer- both the D-type and Murray were badly hurt, this was in June 1957. The car was written off for insurance purposes, Murray, even after a long recovery process had ongoing health problems.

Jack Davey’s radio career went all the way to his untimely death from cancer at St Vincents Hospital in Darlinghurst, Sydney in October 1959. Such was his following that somewhere between 100,000-150,000 people stood in pouring rain outside St Andrews Cathedral to pay their respects.

 

Jack Davey with his D Type out front of his Gold Coast Ampol Servo- Davey had diverse business interests, this dovetailed nicely with Ampol support of various of his radio shows. Address folks?

 

Jack Davey and team at the Sydney Showgrounds start of the 1954 Redex Round Australia Trial DNF (unattributed)

 

Jack Davey applying suntan lotion to the lovely Sabrina’s chassis, doin the mutual celebrity thing in 1958. That teeny-weeny striped bikini seems to have no ‘rear suspension’, the wonders of photoshop in those days. Those 42 inch titties were insured against shrinkage for 100,000 pounds apparently- a drop to a petite 38 inches, if maintained for two months secured the businesswoman a payout of 5000 pounds, every inch lost after that paid another 2500 pounds.  The process of assessment in relation thereto would have been an interesting and enjoyable task. She was in Australia in 1958-9, Davey organised digs for her in Point Piper. Where else but primotipo could you learn useless shit like this? (nylon.net)

 

Frank Gardner across the top of the mountain, Bathurst, Easter 1956, 6 lap sportscar scratch. ‘On new disc pads, the Jaguar was at times almost brakeless and finished second (behind David McKay’s Aston DB3S). Frank obviously hadn’t read his 1970s book of advice to budding racing drivers!’ wrote John Medley. He won the last race of the weekend- the 6 lap sedan and sports handicap (unattributed)

 

Gardner and XKD520 looking all very nice, Mount Druitt, Sydney 23 May 1958. John Ellacott recalls FG did a 14.57 standing quarter in this sprint event (J Ellacott)

 

In the Bathurst paddock, Easter 1958 with FG looking across to David McKay, helmet on just about to jump aboard his Aston Martin DB3S- who is the slim driver in between? (unattributed)

 

FG is of that professional generation of drivers who started with an MG T Type, a TA his Uncle Hope Bartlett lent him at 17 to run at Marsden Park, NSW in 1949 and finished in ‘serious stuff’ with Lolas in the early seventies- a couple of races in the T330 in 1972 were his last events in single-seaters. What a vast ‘progression of technology’ he was a part of, noting his touring car career went for a number of years after that in Australia. He is aboard an F5000 Lola T300 here (unattributed)

 

Following the theme above, FG testing the Lola T260 Chev Can-Am car raced by Jackie Stewart as a Carl Haas works entry in 1971- no doubt the 7 litre Chev engined beastie felt somewhat different to XKD520 but it was part of what he called his ‘Big Cars’ progression. JYS would have preferred far more testing of this car before it jetted to the US BTW, an M8F McLaren it wasn’t…(D Phipps)

 

Lynton Hemer has captured FG beautifully on The Causeway during the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round in 1972. This is Frank and Lola’s Bob Marston’s whoosh-bonk F5000- take a T240 F2 tub- give the FVA and FT200 the arse, then bolt in a Chev and DG300 where they were, pop the radiators where they will fit, put some swoopy bodywork over the top, hey-presto T300- and instantaneously create a successful car- and one of the sexiest of the decade. It wasn’t quite that simple but you get the drift (L Hemer)

In mid-1957 ‘XKD 520’ was sold to the up and coming Frank Gardner via his friend Bill Graber who was in the insurance industry- there will be a ring to this to some of you as FG’s C Type Jaguar had also been involved in a bad (fatal) accident, and was then written off before rescue by Gardner and resurrection as a very competitive mount.

The D Type was restored to sparkling good health at the Sydneysider’s Whale Beach Service Station at Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches- several of Frank’s mates were involved in the process including Jack Myers who worked on the chassis, Clive Adams the body, and Alan Standfield who built a new bonnet to the latest D Type long-nose style. Click here for a link to an article about FG’s C Type; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

Gardner raced the car continuously from his first meeting at at Schofields, NSW in March 1958 where he won- the car was painted white, just like the C Type and had its engine sleeved to 3.8 litres.

Frank added further laurels to ‘XKD 520’s history including a second at Easter Bathurst, first at Mt. Druitt, and third in both heats at Gnoo Blas, Orange, NSW- in a MotorSport interview with Simon Taylor FG claimed 25 wins out of 26 starts for his two Jags.

He sold the car to David Finch after deciding to leave Australia to race in Europe, selling a five year lease on the Avalon garage- that was his time frame to make it or not in search of fame and fortune- which he very much achieved until returning home to race for several more years in late 1974.

Finch is a Sydney fellow who had cut his racing teeth in an MG TF throughout 1955 and then progressed to an Austin Healey 100-4 he ran at Mt Druitt and Bathurst in 1956-1958, before taking the big step up from a production sportscar to one of the fastest racing cars of the day- handling the more demanding machine with considerable skill.

 

This group of three photographs are of David Finch in ‘XKD520’ during the Gnoo Blas, February 1960 meeting. Lovely family scene, it could almost be a BP advertising shot! (Kelsey)

 

Huge grid for the sportscar feature. Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax, Frank Matich in the ex-Gardner Leaton Motors Jaguar C Type, Finch in ‘XKD520’, on row two the ex-Kangaroo Stable Aston martin DB3S of Warren Blomfield #122 and Tom Sulman and the rest (D Finch)

 

Gnoo Blas as above (Kelsey)

 

Beautiful shot of David Finch on the way to a win in the 1961 Queensland Tourist Trophy at Lowood (unattributed)

Finch raced the D Type for the next three years, eventually fitting a factory-supplied 3.8-litre block after the original 3.4-litre ‘added its expiration to the fitting name of Bathurst’s engine-testing Con Rod Straight’ wrote the Fisken copywriter- in fact a piston collapsed and a rod punched two nice holes in the block.

He won the 1961 Queensland Tourist Trophy at Lowood with the new engine, ‘an encounter with a fence at Warwick Farm (September 1961) exceeded the ductility’ of the original bonnet and local aluminium ace Alan Standfield, again stepped in, and created a distinctively-shaped version of Jaguar’s long nose bonnet.

Australian drag racing pioneer and purveyor of ‘luxury’ American sedans, Ash Marshall was the next owner of ‘XKD 520’ from May 1962.

‘Flash Ash’ had come through speedway sedans, a sprintcar, rallying and raced on the circuits for a bit before a business trip to the US exposed him to Drag Racing for the first time- his key contact, Bob Fuerhelm took him along to a meeting and organised a ride in a super stocker which went 11.7 seconds over the quarter mile, he went for it hook, line and sinker.

Marshall imported two Plymouth super-stockers (’63 Plymouth Savoy Max and ’64 Plymouth Belvedere), first racing these at Castlereagh in November 1964, he then ‘doubled up’ by bringing in an outdated Rail called ‘The Vandal’- a short 137 inch wheelbase, full-length body, dropped l-beam front axle with transverse spring  American dragster.

Marshall was immediately a ‘headliner’ and very quickly applied his commercial skills to the business of motor racing, doing very well on and off the track for the balance of the decade, other cars- ‘The Scorcher’ and rear-engined ‘Soapy Sales’ followed Vandal.

Marshall was the first to break 200mph in Australia in February 1969 at Castlereagh and the first to go into the 6 second bracket- he did 6.98 seconds in 1972 at Castlereagh but the run was disputed and eventually disallowed.

Ash was involved in Pyramid Selling Schemes in Australia and the UK before moving to the US- in each country being one step in front of the authorities as such practices were made illegal, he settled in the US and ‘returned to his roots’ as a motor trader buying and selling exotics for high-flyers. He became involved again in the sport as the nostalgia scene developed in the nineties and died in January 2019.

Back to the D Type, when Ash and his team turned their attention to the Jaguar, they embarked upon a plush restoration complete with chromed accessories, XKSS style side exhaust and heat shield, plenty of polished aluminum, a carpeted interior and ‘a glass-like finish’ as described in Sports Car World‘, the car carried NSW registration ‘ASH 222’- Stan Brown worked on the body and Clive Adams painted it.

(T Scott)

 

Marshall loads up in front of a fascinated crowd at Riverside, during the first Nationals in October 1965. Vandal was the only USA ‘Top Fuel’ dragster in Australia at the time- troubles with the Chrysler Hemi intervened that weekend (D Cook)

 

Eddie Thomas’ Chrysler powered rail alongside Vandal in the fire-up road at Riverside during the ‘first’ nationals- there are claims by two events at Riverside in 1964, in October 1965. This pair never raced when Ash’ problems occurred (Street Machine)

 

Ash Marshall in the Vandal, this side and Jack ‘Fizzball’ Collins ‘Road Runner’ at Riverside, Fishermans Bend, October 1965 (moondog.net.au)

 

Later owners of XKD520 in Australia include Peter Bradley and Richard Parkinson who advertised it for sale in the September 1966 issue of Racing Car News magazine. Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins contemplated purchase during their visit to Australia to race in the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour but decided against it when they became aware that Richard Attwood wanted to buy it.

In 1967 ‘XKD 520’ moved to the UK, bought by the former Jaguar apprentice, Grand Prix driver and future 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours winner. He had it worked on by Jaguar’s Brown’s Lane facility and then displayed it in his Wolverhampton Mercedes-Benz showroom for many years before selling it in 1977- since then it has had numerous owners.

There was considerable passionate discussion between the Author and Art Director as to the layout of this piece- whether to mix and match the new photographs of XKD520 with the old or separate them. So heated was the exchange that The Editor intervened to avoid a most unpleasant fracas- such are the pressures of a small office in Covid 19 times like these- photo credits for the modern ‘XKD520’ material are to Fisken and Sotheby’s unless otherwise attributed.

 

David Finch closest, and Jack Murray. D Types by two at Mount Panorama in October 1960 (unattributed)

 

Etcetera…

 

 

Jaguar D Type cutaway published in AMS (HG Molloy)

 

(D Finch)

David Finch testing on Mount Druitt airstrip in 1958- a good reason to smile!

 

 

 

(unattributed)

Stillwell jumps aboard ‘XKD520’ at Lowood, alongside is Bill Pitt’s D Type, ‘XKD526’ which won this 1956 Queensland Tourist Trophy event, complete with Le Mans start.

 

 

(D Finch)

Jack Murray in the silver Jack Parker owned D Type ahead of David Finch heading through Murrays Corner at Mount Panorama in October 1960- the NSW Sports Car Championship race won by Frank Matich in the Leaton Motors Lotus 15 Climax. Murray was fifth, Finch unplaced.

By Easter 1961 David had the rhythm of the car, he was on the front row of the Bathurst sportscar grids alongside Frank Matich’ Lotus 15 and John Ampt in the ex-everybody Cooper T38 Jaguar finishing fourth in the 3 lapper and third in the 10 lap main sportscar race- progress indeed.

 

(unattributed)

Stillwell heading up Mount Panorama during the 1956 Easter meeting.

 

 

(HG Molloy)

 

David Finch at Lowood, on the weekend in which he won the Queensland Tourist Trophy in 1961.

 

 

Bib at the Phillip Island opening meeting on 15 December 1956- only Jack Brabham’s presence ruined his party. Touch of the opposites, not sure exactly where he is on a circuit I know rather well.

 

 

(unattributed)

Bib at Bathurst in October 1956.

He contested the 13 lap NSW Road Racing Championship for sportscars, a handicap event in the manner of the day, finishing sixth but did the fastest race time. He was unplaced in the sedan and sportscar handicap at the end of the weekend’s proceedings but again did the fastest race time.

Bathurst had a great tradition of a parade lap of competitors sans helmet at slow speeds- below are Stillwell and Bill Pitt leading this group in their beautiful D Types- other cars and drivers folks?

(unattributed)

 

 

Arcane with no semblance of relevance…

Hot rodding started in Australia just as it did in the US, in the depression years, when young men without any money created ‘specials’ from the amalgamation of parts of different makes- more often than not cast off bits and pieces. Sometimes V8s provided the power, into the 1940s American Hot Rod magazines started to jump the Pacific, this had an impact on hotting-up Holdens- doubtless the Repco Hi-Power cylinder head for the Holden Grey was a commercial response to that demand.

Street racing was a reality of course in Australia as elsewhere with ‘The Brickies’ on the present site of the Olympic sports precinct at Homebush Bay, the Mad Mile at Deadman’s Creek outside Liverpool and in Melbourne, Newlands Road, Coburg and Doherty’s Road, Altona North well known spots for ‘da boys’ in the day- each state had their favourite spots too- it was far from just an East Coast thing.

Getting these activities off the public roads was important of course, the Penrith Emergency Airstrip (west of Sydney, Penrith Speedway was a hallowed racing site between the wars) had been used for sprint racing pre-war and it was there during the 1959 NSW Sprint Championships that Ray Walmsley, of, amongst other things Alfa Romeo P3 GMC fame, first ran a Dragster in Australia- his Corvette powered ‘rail’ did a 14.04 second quarter mile pass.

Ash Marshall in his ’64 Plymouth Belvedere against a hot-rod at Castlereagh in July 1965, ‘known locally as Ramchargers, this and his ’63 Plymouth were way ahead of anything else with doors when they landed at the end of 1964’ (Street Machine)

 

Vandal at Surfers Paradise in 1966, note the commercialism disallowed on the circuits at the time (D Hill)

 

Marshall, crew, Miss Valvoline and Vandal at Riverside in 1965- see chassis and front suspension detail (Street Machine)

In Victoria the use of Pakenham Airstrip made things a tad more kosher from 1958 but the big step forward, with Victoria Police support, was the use of another former racing venue- Fishermans Bend, for drag racing from 1962, very quickly ‘Riverside Dragway’ became the first home for the sport in Australia with Eddie Thomas setting a local record of 10.07 seconds.

Riverside hosted the first nationals on October 2 and 3 1965, Ash Marshall’s Vandal made its first public appearance that day but ended up a fizzer when engine maladies intervened, ‘Top Eliminator’ was Jack ‘Fireball’ Collins ‘Road Runner’ over Eddie Thomas’ machine- the speed shop impresario a story himself.

Penrith, taken over by the NSW Hot Rod Association in 1965 and re-named Castlereagh International Dragway soon replaced Riverside as the home of drag racing in Australia, with Calder its ‘Victorian base’.

‘Eddie Thomas deploys the laundry in his first Greg Goddard built car at Riverside in 1965- Australia’s first parachute’ wrote Street Machine. Its interesting to look at Riverside, Lorimer Street Fishermans Bend and reflect upon its close proximity to the Melbourne’s CBD, and the houses closeby in Garden City for that matter- not something yerd see these days! (Street Machine)

Bibliography…

Sports Cars and Specials August 1956, various issues of Australian Motor Sports magazine from 1956-1960, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Street Machine article on Ash Marshall

Photo Credits…

Kelsey Collection, Barry Hickson, The David Finch Collection, John Ellacott, Fisken, Sotheby’s, Tony Scott, Street Machine, moondog.com.au, D Cook, nylon.net, Lynton Hemer

Technical drawings/cutaway by HG Molloy in AMS June 1956

(unattributed)

Finish where we started, a photograph of Bib Stillwell upon XKD520’s first race at Albert Park’s Moomba meeting in March 1956- the raucous straight-six singing along Pit Straight with plenty of spectators in attendance.

Tailpiece…

Whilst it is a photograph it looks like a drawing- unattributed crop from a KLG sparkplug ad- it, too, is during Bib’s victorious Argus Trophy run during the 1956 Moomba meeting at Albert Park. Nice I think.

Finito…

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Stirling Moss cruises his ‘works’ Maserati 300S #3059 through the Albert Park paddock prior to winning the Australian Tourist Trophy on 25 November 1956, he repeated the dose in a 250F in the following weekends Australian Grand Prix…

One of the wonderful things about this internet thingy is the number of unseen photos of our sport which pop up from time to time giving people like me something to write about. And so it is that Sharaz Jek recently posted photos his father took as a ‘paying punter’ at the Australian Grand Prix Carnival at Albert Park held during the Olympic Games.

It would have been more considerate had he posted them six months ago when i first wrote about the two Maser sportscars brought to Australia as part of a 5 car team by Officine Maserati!. But hey, it gives me a chance to write about the ATT specifically, click here to read the earlier article, i won’t repeat the background or destiny of the two 300S’ which stayed in Oz post event;

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

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Melbourne in 1956…

I wasn’t born in 1956 but its fair to say i was more than a twinkle in my parents eyes, so i didn’t attend the mid-fifties Albert Park meetings which older enthusiasts speak so fondly about. Running around the lake last weekend i reflected on how little Albert Park had changed but also how much Melbourne had, the skyline of the city a short 2 Km away.

In 1956 Melbourne’s population was circa 1.5 million people, now its 4.7 million, the war ended only a decade before and with it successive Australian Governments established an aggressive migration program which provided and continues to provide us with the wonderful, peaceful mix of people and their cultures which makes this such a special country and city in which to live. Disgraceful offshore detention centres notwithstanding!

The ’56 Olympic Games, held from 22 November to 8 December was an important part of opening our society to other cultures and equally allowed us to showcase our country, city and capabilities to the world.

The same can be said about the 1956 Albert Park International race meetings and their impact on Australian motor-racing; Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Albert Park: Glory Days’ said;

‘The weekend was the proverbial moment which changed the face of motor racing in this country. Here for the first time we had a current works sports car and F1 team and other leading international drivers in ex-factory cars; their presence prompting the best of the locals to upgrade their machinery, spend even more and charge harder. A world class field deserved a world class venue and world class crowd. And in the picturesque Albert Park and thousands of international visitors filling Melbourne to overflowing for the first Olympic Games to be held south of the equator, it had just that’.

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So, to put you in the zone of the times before reading this piece i have added some photos of Melbourne in 1956 to give you the ‘feel of the joint’ and flavour of the times six decades ago, the racing stuff is after that if you wish to ‘cut to the chase’…

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The ‘Eyetalians’ brought their weird steaming coffee making machines with ’em post-war, the local coffee obsession was underway, school below is Melbourne High in South Yarra

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TV was introduced to Australia in the lead up to the games, here some locals are sussing the weird new contraption in the window of ‘Myers’ department store in Bourke Street

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‘Sultry beauty Gunhild Larking, 20, Sweden’s entry for the high jump pensively awaiting her turn to compete’ is the caption. A post sporting career in modelling or TV awaits d’yer reckon!?

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The first weekend of the two week AGP carnival comprised four events, the feature the Australian Tourist Trophy for Sports Cars was held on 25 November…

A convoy of Maserati mechanics drove the 250F and 300S, the 5km from Australian International and 250F driver Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick Holden Dealership, where the cars were maintained each day to Albert Park, on the Nepean Highway and St Kilda Road. Not too much of a problem then but guaranteed to boil a Maserati 300S sans radiator fan these days!

al behra

Behra and Moss @ Albert Park in 1956, the first and only time, sadly, Behra raced here but Moss was an annual, usually victorious visitor to Oz till the end of his career in the Masers, then Rob Walker entered Coopers and Loti (Graham Hoinville)

Most of the drivers stayed close by in the ‘Espy’, the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, it’s still there if you want a ‘bevvy’ during the AGP carnival and is well known to Australians as the home of the ‘RocKwiz’ music quiz show.

Fitzroy Street St Kilda felt exotic and buzzed with thousands of visitors from all over the world eager to explore the local delights of the bayside suburbs restaurants and bars. They were full of people including recent European migrants eager to get a touch of home for a few hours at least. The Espy and Tolarno’s were ‘chockers’ and no doubt the proprietors of the areas ‘red light’ precinct did good trade.

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Guerino Bertocchi, Maserati chief mechanic and factory test driver and his helper start the 5 Km journey from Albert Park to Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick Holden dealership where the team were based (Arnold Terdich)

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Maserati’s as far as the eye can see! Masers brought 5 cars to Oz, 3 250F’s (one unraced spare which at one stage looked as tho it may have been raced by Brabham but ’twas not to be) and 2 300S, Reg Hunt Motors, Nepean Highway, Elsternwick (Eileen Richards)

In ’57 the factory 300S’ were campaigned by Moss, Behra and Piero Taruffi taking wins at Silverstone, Nassau, the Nurburgring, Rouen and Buenos Aires; the works allocated # 3055 to Behra and # 3059, the ‘featured car’ here to Moss. Stirling was in sparkling form having won the Venezuelan Grand Prix in Caracas a fortnight before arriving in Melbourne, Behra also contested the race.

There was a strong entry for the ATT of around 36 cars; Peter Whitehead returned to Australia hoping to repeat the success of his 1938 tour which culminated in an ERA Bathurst Australian Grand Prix win for him.

His entry in the ATT was a Ferrari Monza, similar cars were entered by Brit Peter Wharton and local motor dealer Stan Coffey. The Whitehead and Wharton Ferrari’s were garaged at AP Hollins in Malvern where Lex Davison’s mechanic/engineer Alan Ashton, well familiar with 4 cylinder Ferrari’s (Davison raced the ex-Ascari Tipo 500/625) could keep a close eye on them.

Lex, already the winner of one of his four AGP’s in 1954, entered his HWM Jaguar, his Ferrari was raced in the AGP won by Moss’ 250F the following weekend.

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Stan Coffey’s Ferrari 750 Monza, of earlier vintage than those of Wharton and Whitehead but still quick if tricky to drive (John Blanden)

Jaguar D Types were entered for Kew motor dealer and later multiple Australian Gold Star champion Bib Stillwell and Queensland’s Bill Pitt driving the Mrs Anderson owned car.

Jack Brabham returned from Europe where he was establishing a strong reputation to drive a Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ Climax with future Gold Star Champion Bill Patterson, another Melbourne, Ringwood, Ford dealer in a similar car.

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Jack refuels the Cooper T39 in the Albert Park paddock. ‘COR’ is Commonwealth Oil Refineries soon to be BP (John Blanden)

Veteran Tom Sulman raced his ‘Kangaroo Stable’ Aston Martin DB3S, the quicker entries rounded out by Austin Healey 100S’ for multiple AGP winner Doug Whiteford and Ron Phillips.

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Moss positions his Maser on the front row of the ATT grid, Behra started on pole. Such a sexy shape . Properties on Canterbury Road near the Mills Street corner in the distance (Sharaz Jek)

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Behra’s 300S gets the jump at the start, thats Whitehead’s Monza at left, Moss 300S slightly behind, the Jag is Stillwell’s D at left and the little car on the far right Brabham’s Cooper T39 (John Blanden)

A fantastic crowd of 150,000 people gathered to watch the days racing which was marred by the critical injury and subsequent death of Peter Catlin in the first race of the day after he lost control of his Bugatti at Melford corner.

This dominated the tabloids coverage of the race but ‘The Argus’ noted Moss’ lap record of 1:55.8 ‘set in a sportscar, the record previously held by a racing car’ and ‘one of the finest exhibitions of race driving seen in Melbourne’.

To the surprise of many Behra put his car on pole and lead from the start of the 100 mile race with Patterson flipping his Cooper at Melford Corner without too much damage to him or the car on the first lap.

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Behra hard on the brakes in pursuit of Moss. Maser 300S (Philip Skelton)

Behra lead the other 35 competitors at the end of lap 1 from Moss, Stillwell’s D Type, the  two Monza’s of Wharton and Whitehead, Brabham’s Cooper T39, Bill Pitt’s D type and Paul England’s beautifully designed Ausca. The car was built by England in his spare time at Repco, was powered by the first Holden/Repco Hi-Power cylinder head engine.

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Pitt’s Jag D chasing Jim Leech’s MM Holden Spl with the Ron Phillips Austin Healey 100S behind (unattributed)

On lap 2 Moss gave his French teammate a blast on his Masers ‘Fiamms’ at Jaguar Corner to let him through, and an even bigger one when he did so, team orders not new in motor racing!

At the front Wharton and Brabham slipped past Stillwell with Bill Pitt getting progressively quicker in his XKD and closer to the shapely tail of Whitehead’s Monza.

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Brabham wringing the little Cooper T39’s Climax engine hard! (John Blanden)

Moss had a lead of 20 seconds from Behra, Stillwell spun giving Pitt ‘a sniff’ at him as Moss set fastest lap on the 27th tour and passing lots of slower traffic in the process.

By the race’s end only Jean Behra was on the same lap as Moss, the Brit took the flag from Behra, Wharton, Pitt a great 4th and first local home, Stillwell, Whitehead, Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar and Kiwi Ross Jenson in an Austin Healey 100S and the rest.

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Moss exits Jaguar corner in his 300S complete with accumulated hay from bales disturbed by other errant competitors during the race’ 100 miles, in the cars inlet (Graham Hoinville)

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‘Motori Porno’ innit!? Plug change, 12 of them for Moss’ twin plug #3059. Twin distributors, big Weber 45DCO3 carbs of the 2992cc circa 280 bhp 6 cylinder, DOHC 2 valve engine all clear (Sharaz Jek)

Other ATT Meeting Photos…

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Albert Park vista #20 the Phillips Austin Healey 100S (unattributed)

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Another start shot, row 3 this time with the 2 D Types of Stillwell and Bill Pitt (right) in shot, thats Sulman’s Aston DB3S on the far right (unattributed)

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Phillip’s 8th placed pretty Austin Healey 100S, great run for the Melburnian in a model very popular in Oz, sadly most have now left our shores (unattributed)

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Stan Coffey’s Ferrari 750 Monza behind its Holden FE towcar. I always thought Stan was a Ford dealer? (Sharaz Jek)

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Moss passing and thanking with a wave MG T driver Newman for his track etiquette (Arnold Terdich)

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Ken Wharton’s races his Ferrari 750 Monza to 3rd place. Southern Command Army buildings in the background. He raced this car in NZ that summer and sadly died in it at Ardmore on 12 January 1957 (John Blanden)

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Bib Stillwell’s ‘XKD520’, the seventh D Type Jag built appropriately going thru Jag Corner. An important step in the later Australian Champs rise thru the ranks, he raced it in ’56 to early ’57 , then progressed to Hunt’s 250F (autopics.com)

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Another paddock vista which again has ‘COR’ Commonwealth Oil Refineries in shot, clearly the firms PR function was working well! the Phillips Healey 100S and a Porsche Speedster in shot (unattributed)

Etcetera…

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Fifties circuit conceptually similar to but not identical to the contemporary one, direction of racing opposite to the present (Barry Green)

Bibliography…

Barry Green ‘Albert Park: Glory Years’

Photo Credits…

Sharaz Jek especially for the shots which inspired the article

Getty Images for all of the Melbourne ‘atmo’ 1956 shots

Arnold Terdich, Eileen Richards, John Blanden, Philip Skelton, Graham Hoinville, autopics.com

Tailpiece: She is MY daughter Stirl don’t even think about it!…

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(Sharaz Jek)

Finito…