Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

Doug Whiteford, Ford V8 Spl leads Lex Davison, Alfa Romeo P3 early in the Vintage Festival Championship, Nuriootpa April 1949 (SLSA)

South Australia’s Barossa Valley, 75 km north of Adelaide is one of the states great wine producing areas.

32 km long and 8 km wide it includes the towns of Lyndoch, Tanunda, Greenock, Seppeltsfield, Angaston and just to its north-west, Nuriootpa.

Somewhat unique in Australia, large numbers of Germans settled in the Adelaide Hills and surrounding areas from the 1840s planting some of the earliest grapevines in the country.

By 1949 the Barossa had 22,000 acres of vines producing 60% of the total South Australian Vintage. Keen to maintain some of the cultural traditions of the old world, in 1947 community leaders organised a festival similar to those held in the Rhine Valley at vintage time, to foster a greater sense of community, raise funds for charitable causes and have fun!

The climax of the two day 22-23 April 1949 celebration was a carnival at Tanunda with dancing sideshows, a draught-horse derby and barbeques of three 600 pound bullocks! Not to forget motor racing…

1949 Festival program

 

Greenock float heading past the Nuriootpa Community Hotel during the 1948 Festival (Advertiser)

 

Nuriootpa circuit map. In terms of the narrative below, the start/finish is in the top right corner

South Australia hosted Australian Grands Prix at coastal Victor Harbor (correct spelling) in December 1936 and on the daunting Adelaide Hills, Lobethal roller-coaster road course in January 1939, Nuriootpa was chosen as the 1950 venue.

In that sense the Vintage Festival race meeting was a ‘warm up’ for the organisers and racers alike- the Nuri road course was only used on those two occasions seven months apart.

Some maps make the track appear a simple square layout around the town but the more detailed drawing above shows the flat 3.1 mile/4.98 km course to be not quite so easy, whilst not on the same planet of difficulty as Lobethal.

The start line was on the Penrice Road/Research Road corner with cars heading clockwise- the top right corner of the map above, the paddock was on parkland on the outside of this corner.

Racers headed down the straight for a fast run into the double-right hand ‘Atze’s Corner’ and then onto Railway Terrace- gently to the right, then a short straight, then a quick left before another hard application of brakes for ‘Tolleys Corner’- the intersection of Railway Terrace and Nuriootpa’s main drag- Tanunda Road/Murray Street.

There the cars kicked away with parklands on the left, gently left over a wooden bridge to clear the North Para River before heading straight- going past the shops then more hard braking for another right-hander at the Penrice Road intersection.

Exiting, the cars gently curved left and gently right before another straight section past the finish line just before the Penrice Road/Research Road intersection and then another lap…

Bill Patterson, MG TC Spl s/c. Plod on this side, St Johns Ambos on the inside. Probably, as many of these shots are, the intersection of Murray Street and Penrice Road- Bill is entering Penrice for the run to the finish line (HTSA)

 

Harry Neale’s Ford V8 Spl at left and Jim Gullan, Ballot Oldsmobile on the right (HTSA)

34 cars and 46 motorcycles entered the meeting, no doubt the poor entry of cars was a function of the traditional Easter fixture at Mount Panorama which took place the weekend before.

Top guns at Bathurst were Lex Davison’s 1934 GP Alfa Romeo P3, Frank Kleinig’s legendary Kleinig Hudson Spl, Bill McLachlan’s Mackellar Spl (Bugatti T37A Ford V8) and Jack Murray’s Day Special (Bugatti T39 Ford V8). The feature event, the 25 lap All Powers Handicap, was won by Arthur Rizzo’s Riley Spl from Curley Brydon, MG TC and Kleinig.

Bathurst contestants who made the trip to South Australia included Davison, Tony Gaze, HRG and Bill Patterson, MG TC Spl s/c.

The Davison and Patterson crews had barely 24 hours to give their cars a tickle in Melbourne before loading up again for the 750 km trip on the Western Highway to the Barossa.

Tony Gaze had an amazing couple of weeks- he drove the HRG from Melbourne to Bathurst, raced it to fifth in the All Powers Handicap feature race won by Rizzo, then drove to Nuriootpa, raced it again for a couple of third places and finally drove it back to Melbourne!

Lex’ machine had misbehaved at Bathurst- he had braking problems, nor would the exotic 2.9 litre twin-cam straight-eight reach maximum revs. Patterson didn’t start his events at Mount Panorama so his boys in Ringwood no doubt had a busy night as well.

Other entries included plenty of MGs- John Nind’s TB Spl, plus four South Australians in TC’s of varying specification- David Harvey, Ron Kennedy, Steve Tillet and Harold Clisby- the prodigiously talented, intuitive, eccentric engineer of 1.5 litre Clisby V6 F1 race engine fame, and much, much more who was making his race debut.

John Crouch raced another HRG, Ken Wylie his clever, fast Austin A40 Spl s/c, Eldred Norman ran his Ford Double-8 Spl- which as the name suggests was powered by two Ford V8’s. Later driver of that car, Harry Neale entered his Ford V8 Spl and Les Robinson the ex-Segrave/Hope Bartlett 1922 GP Sunbeam Ford V8 Spl.

Jim Gullan brought from Melbourne his quick Ballot Oldsmobile Spl with close mate Doug Whiteford there to race his legendary Ford V8 Ute based special ‘Black Bess’- a combination which would win the AGP at Nuri seven months hence.

Lex’ Alfa landed in Australia in February 1948, he was still getting the hang of the car without too many circuits upon which to race it at the time. Theoretically it was the fastest car in the country- in reality Alf Barrett’s older Alfa Monza was the quicker combination but the Armadale blue-blood was at the end of his career at 38, ‘retiring’ in 1948 whereas the 26 year old Lilydale blue-blood was just at the start of his long, distinguished career.

Interestingly, Davo’s car was being looked after by later four-time Gold Star champion Bib Stillwell who, at 22, had commenced his first retail and repair automotive business in partnership with respected, experienced, ten years older than Bib, Derry George in January 1949.

‘Magnette Motors’, or more commonly ‘Stillwell & George’ operated from 121 Cotham Road, Kew, a building owned by Bib’s mother- it was the start of Stillwell’s motor businesses which occupied this and adjoining sites into the 2000s. George learned his craft with Reg Nutt and before that legendary outfit A.F Hollins in Armadale, who would ultimately prepare Lex’s cars with great success upon the recommendation of Tony Gaze.

Australian racing events were mainly run to handicaps at this stage. Bill Patterson’s marvellous Reg Nutt/Doug Whiteford built, Bob Baker bodied MG TC Spl s/c was half a chance. Whiteford’s ‘Black Bess’, continually developed by the talented and driven racer/engineer since it first appeared in 1939 was a well known combination to the handicappers, his challenge would be greater.

Jim Gullan commented about how little time there was to practice and had the opposite braking problem to Davison- his anchors were too good!

With the assistance of Jack Pearce at Paton Brake Replacements (P.B.R. later the Repco Brake Company) Jim and Doug Whiteford had been supplied with a new braking package which comprised light commercial drums, aluminium brake shoe castings copied from Jim’s Ballot, aluminium backing plates and large wire air-scoops which looked great and were no doubt a wonderful psyche!

Gullan found his new brakes so powerful that ‘they were bending the chassis, making the car almost unsteerable on the rough Nuriootpa roads. The only thing to do was to apply them gently.’

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds in front of a group shortly after the start of the over 1500cc Vintage Festival Championship scratch- #2 Bill Wilcox, Dodge Spl, #11 Harry Neale, Ford V8 Spl then #2 folks and in the dust behind, Robinson’s GP Sunbeam Spl (J Gullan Collection)

 

Davison now in front of Whiteford in their Vintage Festival Championship tussle- from Murray Street and into Penrice Road (HTSA)

A crowd estimated at 30,000 people attended Sunday raceday, the final day of the carnival to see a six event program- it was fine and warm, good conditions for racing.

The lack of practice Gullan commented on was because practice was scheduled to start on raceday at 6 am but there were still revellers from the night before in Murray Street, so the circuit didn’t open until 6.40 am and was then made over to the bikies at 8 am.

The only incidents were spinners John Crouch and John Nind- who bent his front axle in the process.

Whilst the 48 mile, 8 lap Barossa Valley Handicap was nominally the feature event, the Vintage Festival Championship scratch race for the over 1500cc cars was probably the thriller of the day with a wonderful scrap between Davison and Whiteford.

Contrary to modern practice, the fastest cars started from the back of the grid. Whiteford’s Black Bess made the best start, then came Gullan, Ballot Olds, Davison’s P3 and Harry Neale in his Ford V8 Spl.

He was followed by Melburnian Bill Wilcox in the Gullan designed Dodge Special- a Dodge six-cylinder engine and Lancia gearbox clad in a sexy Bob Baker built body of Mercedes Benz GP style, and then Mount Gambier’s Les Robinson in the GP Sunbeam Ford V8.

During lap 2 Davo passed Gullan and ranged up behind Whiteford, Wilcox was close to Neale but behind Robinson.

It took Davison 3 laps to get past the hard driven Bess, which was not as quick in a straight line as the Alfa (Davo did 144 mph on Conrod aboard the P3 in 1949 whilst Doug did 121 mph in Bess in 1950) but stopped better and had Doug’s cornering brio- and then stay ahead of Whiteford. Positions then remained the same to the end of the race, Davison won from Whiteford, Gullan, Neale and Robinson.

Graham Howard wrote that Davison’s win was an important milestone, it was his first victory after only two and a half years racing, discounting a ‘club level’ win on the grass at Nar-Nar-Goon in Victoria.

Davison in front of Whiteford in Nuriootpa village- Murray Street into Penrice Road corner (HTSA)

 

Ken Wylie, Austin A40 Special s/c (1250cc) on the Murray/Penrice corner- note the ever present, cast iron/concrete ‘Stobie’ poles distinctive to South Australia. Lex Davison famously bent one of these whilst destroying wife Diana’s MG TC Spl at Lobethal in January 1948- and lived, a bit bruised, to tell the tale! (HTSA)

The car racing program opened with the Motors Ltd Championship under 1500cc scratch event over 8 laps, 24 miles.

Crouch’s HRG led for the first lap- Patterson spun with the Tillet and Harvey TCs, Gaze’ HRG and Ken Wylie, Austin A40 Spl coming through in a bunch.

Patterson worked through to the front, overcoming his spin and led from Crouch and Wylie- then Wylie passed Crouch and set the fastest lap of the race, and came to within 12 seconds of Patterson but the Wylies and Gaze cars faded with overheating, the latter having lost its fanbelt.

Patterson won from Crouch, Gaze, Wylie- then Tillett, Kennedy and Harvey having a ball in their TCs then R Head, Riley Spl and I Jackson, GN.

John Crouch had a good year, he won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix that September in his ex-John Snow Delahaye 135CS on the Leyburn ex-RAAF base runways in Queensland- he was 5 minutes ahead of the pursuers led by Ray Gordon’s MG TC Spl.

Tony Gaze would soon return to the UK, having had a distinguished flying career during the war, to say the least, for the ‘serious’ part of his racing career in Europe. Jim Gullan and his wife Christine joined Tony and Kaye Gaze for the early part of that trip, 1951- an interesting story for another time.

In the Barossa Valley Handicap 16 lap feature, Bill Patterson won off 4 minutes 25 seconds.

The cars initially ran in handicap order with Head, Clisby and Ravdell Ford A Model Spl s/c early retirements. After 8 laps Keith Rilstone led in a Morris Minor from the Howard Austin Ulster then the MGs of Tillett, Kennedy and Ohlmeyer (TA).

Patterson was past Crouch, Harvey and Wilcox whilst Davison passed the Ford Double-Eight driven by Eldred Norman- ‘…while Norman was out on the dirt passing Harvey, Davison was dancing from one side of the road to the other, behind them, shaking his fist in search of an opening, Nuvolari style’ AMS reported.

Jim Gullan passed Tony Gaze whose car was boiling, with Patterson taking the lead on lap 14- at this point Rilstone was second from Tillett, Kennedy and Howard.

With 2 of the 16 laps to run Patto had consolidated his lead whilst Tillett was within striking distance of the Rilstone Morris then Wilcox, Dodge and Howard, Austin.

Doug Whiteford only gets a mention towards the end of the AMS report but consistent laps in the 2 minute 30 second mark saw him finish fourth behind the top three- Patterson, Tillett and Wilcox. Kennedy’s TC was fifth, then Gullan, the Crouch HRG, Rilstone, Ohlmeyer’s TA, R Howard’s Austin Ulster, the Harvey TC, Harry Neale’s Ford V8 Spl and the Nind TB Spl.

Bill Patterson first raced a modified MG TC before switching to his new racer (below) which was built in late 1948- he first competed in it at Rob Roy in January 1949, so the Sports Car Club of South Australia handicappers did not have much to work with in the way of results, always handy!

25 year old Bill Patterson in the Nuriootpa paddock after his first big win- the Barossa Valley Handicap in the ‘Patterson’ MG TC Spl s/c’. His ascent as a driver was commensurate with better cars, itself a function of the growing success of his outer eastern Melbourne, Ringwood Holden/truck dealership. Won the Gold Star in a Cooper T51 Climax in 1961, his pace was apparent from the start of his career (R Townley Collection)

 

Stobie pole growing from the cockpit of the Patterson TC- fine lines, driven and developed further by Curley Brydon after its sale by Patto in 1950 (HTSA)

To qualify for the last event of the day, the Consolation Handicap 6 lapper, entrants had to have not won more than forty pounds in any of the previous races!

For the first 4 laps the lead was swapped between Rilstone and later Australian Tourist Trophy winner, Derek Jolly’s Austin 7 Spl with the race won by  Ron Kennedy from Steve Tillett both in MG TC’s and then John Crouch’s HRG which had a very consistent weekend, then came Gaze, Gullan, Wilcox and Davison who set the fastest race time and a lap record of 75 mph.

Then was Ohlmeyer, TA, Jolly, Austin 7 Spl, the Nind TB Spl, Harry Neale, Ford V8 Spl and the N Jackson GN.

Harold Clisby made the local papers after losing control of his MG TC and backing it into a fence. The Clisby family account is that ‘…he was leading the race until another car cut him off on a corner sending him careering over a bridge with only the fencing wires preventing him ending up at the bottom of a creek.’

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds, the chassis rails of which have been copiously drilled for lightness, no doubt at the cost of torsional rigidity which probably was not great before he started. Which corner? Dunno. Stobie pole marks the apex (unattributed)

Etcetera…

Jim Gullan and Doug Whiteford were close friends, as noted above, in the best traditions of the day, after the 1950 Nuriootpa AGP ‘…we drove each others car around Albert Park one evening, both previously having driven the other’s car a short distance’ wrote Gullan.

‘My impression of the Ford was it had more power and torque than the Ballot, with a rougher engine. The brakes had a very hard pedal and poor retardation, the steering was light and spongy. The car was tail light, tending to wander at speed, difficult to drive at racing speeds.’

‘Doug’s impression of the Ballot, very smooth high revving (6000 rpm) engine, steering and brakes too sensitive, difficult to drive!’

Gullan, mused over the changes to ‘the scene’ in 1950 with drivers getting faster imported cars and ‘nearly half the field in the 1950 Grand Prix had been made up of MG’s, which made for interesting under 1500cc Scratch Races.’

He concluded that the Ballot had reached the limit of its development without a new chassis fitted with independent suspension.

By the time he returned to Australia after twelve months in Europe, in early 1952, air-cooled Coopers were plentiful, Stan Jones was racing Maybach 1, Doug Whiteford had his first Talbot-Lago T26C and much, much more- the times were changing with much of the evolution due to the growth of scratch racing, to win one needed the equipment to do so.

 

Yet one more shot of the Davison/Whiteford dice, Doug almost wholly obscured by Davo and the Stobie (HTSA)

 

(State Records SA)

 

(SLSA)

This is the only clear motorcycle shot I can find, John Medley identified the rider as South Australian, Les Diener, his machine is a Velocette 350 MkVIII KTT.

He had a great weekend, winning the 5 lap Barossa Junior TT and finished third in the Senior event despite giving away capacity to most other entrants.

Diener and Lloyd Hirst had a good go in the Junior event, Hirst leading for the first 2 laps, in the Senior TT Laurie Boulter’s Norton and Hirst’s Vincent-HRD finshed in front of Diener.

Check out this fascinating article about Les Diener- what a talented rider and engineer he was; https://www.shannons.com.au/club/bike-news/old-bikes-australasia-the-eldee-velocettes/

After the final race the crowd swarmed into Nuriootpa’s main street- Murray Street for the start of a procession of sixty decorated floats. At the end of the day 25,000 people converged on Tanunda Oval above, ‘to see the most lavish spectacle ever staged in a South Australian country town.’

The Barossa Vintage Festival is now held biannually with a week long calendar of events including wine workshops, heritage events and church services- the Barossa’s Lutheran leanings reflect its German heritage, which is about where we came in…

Otto Stone’s copy of the race program, programme I should say! from Stephen Dalton

Bibliography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan, ‘Harold William Clisby: The Life of a Restless Engineer’ on clisby.com, Australian Motor Sports 16 May 1949 via the Bob King Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection

Photo Credits…

‘HTSA’ History Trust of South Australia, State Records of South Australia, Adelaide Advertiser, State Library of South Australia, Richard Townley Collection

Tailpiece…

(State Records SA)

Grape pickers during the 1949 Festival- its seventy years ago my friends. Lots of happiness and optimism in those pretty smiling faces.

Finito…

(N Henderson Collection)

MG on Mount Tarrengower, Maldon, Victoria circa 1946-1947…

Its funny what ya find sometimes, this was a random catch found sitting in front of the tello whilst searching for something else.

The photograph, from artblat.com, is part of the Nicholas Henderson Collection and thought to be Tarrengower given the preponderance of Maldon shots in the collection- further evidence cited the surrounding box-ironbark trees.

We had a country drive to Castlemaine, Kyneton and Maldon inclusive of a cruise up the mountain again six months ago-Tarrengower it is i suspect.

I am no pre-war expert but the stance of the machine and its grille reek of MG, perhaps not a supercharged one mind you, so that narrows the model choice somewhat- but it’s no more than a guess, perhaps it’s Peter Vennermark’s Maserati 4CL?

Below are two more cars, one sporting and the other not- love to know what they are, bonus points for the drivers and the date of the meeting.

(N Henderson Collection)

For some of you the dress of the spectators may help give us a fix on the date, as perhaps will the model year of the most recent car built- perhaps the sedan below.

Another car (not shown) in the same batch of photos had a registration expiry date of February 1947 and was therefore indicative of the approximate timing of the photographs to the curator of artblat.com, Dr Marcus Bunyan.

(N Henderson Collection)

 

1947 postcard of the meeting that year shows the spectator car park at the bottom of Mount Tarrengower- horse and cart is a nice touch!

 

A little bit more research shows there was an event in 1947, not sure about 1946, the climb has been pretty much in continuous use since the dawn of motoring in Australia, the ninetieth anniversary of the first event was held last year- 2019.

The climb had not been used for a couple of decades until the Vintage Sports Car Club ran an event on 29 February 1964, FTD that day went to Bill Leach in an E Type Jaguar. The club returned that October when FTD was set by no less than Lex Davison’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.5 Tasman car in 50.34 seconds, Davo was a very experienced hill climber with an Australian Championship amongst his many racing achievements, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/05/mount-tarrengower-hillclimb/

I’ve never raced there competitively but I did run my Elfin Crusader Formula Vee up the hill during an Elfin Owners Club run from Bendigo to Mount Tarrengower and back in November 1993- about 40 cars did that event from Peter Brennan’s MR8C Chev F5000 ‘down’ to one or two Vees- a Gendarme up front in a fast pursuit car ensured speeds were civil but quick on 80km of public highways. What fun it was.

Jim Hawker and George Wightman aboard the awesome Chamberlain 8, Tarrengower April 1947 (The Chamberlain)

 

Later 1960’s shot of a Geneer Outlaw VW, I think, gives perspective on the open nature of the tourist road and surrounding terrain (Ken Bolitho)

 

Peter Vennermark, Maserati 4CL 1.5 at Tarrengower, 4 March 1951 (Maldon Museum)

 

Lex Davison, Cooper T62 Climax, Tarrengower October 1964- Davo in collar and tie (M Williams Collection)

The climb is about 1500 metres long, the bitumen is narrow, patchy and rough at the edges- the shot above of Lex in 1964 is not that much different to now, it is a tourist road with a lookout at the top. It’s a very fast open climb, a big challenge, I notice that a chicane half way up was used last year which is a bummer in some ways but probably makes good sense.

My first visit to Mount Tarrengower was as an official with a mate in 1978. We camped overnight and took up our post about two thirds of the way up the hill on Sunday, a beautiful clear, hot day. What impressed was the speed of the more powerful cars but the dangers were great given the unguarded edges and unforgiving trees awaiting those who goofed.

During the afternoon we heard the unmistakable wail of a Porsche flat-six off the start line- it was the very impressive Dr Will Darvall’s 2.7 RS mounting another assault. The rise and fall of the engine note indicated his commitment and rapid progress until about 100 metres or so below us the throttle closed rapidly, then followed a sickening series of dull-thuds as the gorgeous car pinged from eucalypt to sheoak. I will never forget that sound.

We looked at one another and said in unison ‘He’s fucked!’ It seemed and sounded that bad. But the good doctor recovered, I know this as he was ‘me mate Big Bad Brucie’s GP in Heidelberg, but he was a sick boy for a long while. The car was rooted, but it too lived to fight another day after bulk dollars were spent on its resurrection around a new shell.

The point to be taken here is that there is no ‘good place’ to leave the road on this challenging mountain.

Maldon High Street 1934 (Maldon Museum)

 

Maldon High Street circa 1975 (Ellen Hansa-Stanyer)

 

Maldon High Street 2019, refreshingly little change over the last eighty years or so (Maldon FB)

The Central Goldfields area of Victoria is quite beautiful and so named as a consequence of the 1850’s Gold Rush which attracted massive numbers of fortune seekers from around the world.

The ‘Golden Triangle’ area marked by the towns of Ballarat, Maryborough and Bendigo yielded massive amounts of the precious commodity, Mount Tarrengower is a couple of kilometres from the tiny village of Maldon at the Triangle’s northern end- short walks around and from the village allow this wonderful history to be seen and experienced- the steam train ride is a beauty for ‘big kids’ too.

Maldon is a must visit for any Victorian international tourists list, the town was classified by the National Trust way back around 1970 so the streetscape now is little different to the way it was during that 1947 hillclimb weekend.

Peter Holinger on the line aboard the very fast Holinger Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 circa 1978, the dimensions of which were provided by Jack Brabham’s 1969 Tasman contender- Brabham BT31 Repco (John Bowring)

Etcetera…

 

(M Bisset)

A couple of happy-snaps of the Elfin ‘Tour To Tarrengower’ in November 1993 I mentioned.

The five red cars are Catalina, Mono, Mallala sports, Mono and Catalina, then a white and blue pair of 620s- this is in Bendigo.

Below is Pete Brennan’s MR8 F5000 and the arse of his 400 Chev at right, the big white monster is the ex-Schuppan MR8 in Can-Am dress, now owned by Bill Hemming, it is in F5000 guise. The other white sporty is a 360, a personal favourite.

(M Bisset)

Peter Brennan on the way to FTD circa 1982 in his Elva Mk8S BMW 2 litre.

(P Brennan Collection)

 

(A Tracey)

Another crop of Peter Vennermark’s Maserati and a report on that meeting below, Easter Saturday 24 March 1951- where he had an off.

Chassis #1555 was later sold to long time racer Cec Warren who alighted the machine during the March 1954 Fishermans Bend meeting for adjustments, collapsed with a heart attack and died.

 

(A Tracey)

 

(D Zeunert)

Lovely photo of the vibe in the ‘modern era’, crowd and carpark in the background, 1982 with Stuart Anderson on the line, Maserati 4CM 1100, above and below.

(D Zeunert)

 

(G Thomas in L Sims Collection)

Bob King has his money on our opening car being the Lindsay Head driven Riley Austin Spl, here being driven over Skyline at Rob Roy in 1946- without its lights, it is a possibility’

Photo and other credits…

Nicholas Henderson Collection on artblat.com, Maldon Museum, Maldon Facebook, Ellen Hansa-Stanyer, Max Williams Collection, The Chamberlain, Tony Johns Collection, ‘Bentley Specials and Special Bentleys’ Ray Roberts, John Bowring, Ken Bolitho, Peter Brennan Collection, Ashley Tracey Collection via Tony Johns, George Thomas in the Leon Sims Collection, David Zeunert/Collection

Tailpiece…

Bentley in High Street, Maldon circa 2018, Tony Johns tells me it’s a 1950 Mk6 rebodied coupe. The Mount Tarrengower road and car park is well worth a visit on race weekend and a tootle up from Melbourne for the day anytime.

The many closed shops in town at the moment are a bit of a worry, I have not seen the place so depressed in all the years of regular visits since 1978.

Back to the Bentley, with a bit of assistance from John’s copy of ‘Bentley Specials and Special Bentleys’.

The car was designed by Queensland graphic designer Ian Shaw who was considerably influence by the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic.

The chassis (#B4JO) ‘was reclaimed from an earlier touring body conversion’, seven inches were taken from the frame, the engine moved aft twelve inches and lowered- whilst the ‘X brace’ part of the chassis was removed other cross members were added to restore and enhance torsional rigidity.

Mechanical upgrades include dual boosted hydraulic brakes, Koni shocks, sixteen inch wires and a smaller than standard MkVI steering wheel.

The steel body was built to Ian’s full scale drawings by Venkat, Bodrog and Evans around one inch by one inch steel tubing and incorporates highly modified MkVI front wings, a shortened radiator shell and bonnet.

Initially a 4.25 litre Bentley motor was used, this was later replaced with an ‘S type’ 4.887 litre straight six which was blueprinted and modified by the incorporation of a higher lift cam with the head ported and fitted with larger valves.

This beautiful looking 2+2 motor car is a credit to the fine eye of its creator, it first ‘broke cover’ over the 1998 Bay to Birdwood weekend in Adelaide and is now good for 125mph which would make it a fine interstate express.

Finito…

I love watching busy test sessions such as this.

It’s the Thursday or Friday before the second round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship at Oran Park, New South Wales on August 5 1973.

The Birrana Cars onslaught is underway, Malcolm Ramsay and Tony Alcock’s 272 impressed all in 1972 including Leo Geoghegan who drove the car late in the year and was happily seduced back into single-seaters with a works Birrana 273 Ford-Hart 416-B 1.6 for 1973.

Leo mopped up that year winning six of the seven Australian Formula 2 Championship rounds despite opposition from Tony Stewart and Enno Buesselmann in 273s, Bob Skelton’s Bowin P6 and Ray Winter in the old darlin’- the ex-Gardner/Bartlett Mildren Yellow Submarine. Of these Skelton was quick everywhere and led Leo at Amaroo and Symmons, missed the last two rounds and ultimately could not convert the potential of the variable-rate suspension Bowin.

But all of that is in the future, the flurry of activity centres on Leo’s car and a back to back test between Goodyear and Bridgestone tyres- who is the the Goodyear tech looking closely at the right front- i am being assertive with my identification of people but in some cases ‘i think’ should be used- just letting you know rather than write it ten times.

Check-shirt man is Bruce Cary, the driver at left is Ray Winter, to his right in the short sleeved shirt is Bruce Richardson- the car in front of Leo’s is Tony Stewarts, the guy in the Singapore Airlines T-shirt is Malcolm Ramsay and the car at the end of the pitlane is one of the black Bowin P6s- either Skelton’s or Bruce Allison- Bob liked the car more than Bruce!

Goodyears in the first shot, Bridgies here.

All of the Birranas are superb racing cars- FF, ANF3, ANF2, F Pac and the mid-engined Speedway machine, Adelaide strikes again! Those who have driven both cars either say the 273 was a better car than the tidied up in the body and bracketry 274, or its equal- Bob Muir gave Leo ‘absolute buggery’ in the 274 bodied 273 owned by Bob and Marj Brown in 1974 didn’t he?

Note the mounts on the nose to accept another small wing- in search of more front bite.

Business end with Varley battery and oil catch tank- forward of them is a Hewland FT200 five speed transaxle and the Brian Hart Ltd, Harlow, Essex built ‘416-B’ Lotus-Ford DOHC, two valve, Lucas injected four cylinder motor.

This engine was aimed at the large American Formula B market, where all of the British tuners fought a pitched battle and in much smaller numbers Australian F2.

The ‘ducks guts’ variant was alloy blocked, the late Peter Nightingale, who looked after Leo’s and Geoff Brabham’s Harts amongst others quoted 200bhp @ 8500rpm and 130lb/ft of torque @ 7500rpm for the 1973 iron block variant and a ‘minimum’ of 200bhp @ 8500rpm and 125lb/ft of torque @ 8500rpm for the 1974 alloy block.

Line ball call but the alloy block was lighter and in the very best of hands every liddl’ bit counts.

No idea who blondie is but the vertically challenged fella looking at the engine in front is ex-Repco immensely talented engineer and multiple Australian hillclimb champion Paul England looking at Tony Stewart’s Jack Godbehear built engine.

Oh yes, come raceday Leo won from Peter Brock’s 273 and Bob Skelton, i am intrigued to know what tyres the works 273 raced…

Credits…

Brian Caldersmith, Peter Nightingale on The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece…

Leo is ready to boogie- fuel check and off. Bearded Ramsay, tall isn’t he, wandering past.

I’ve often wondered what Tony Alcock could have achieved in his second European stint, as most of you know he was in that plane, on that day, and in those circumstances with Graham Hill in 1975.

Finito…

(D Lupton)

Not quite actually.

Lionel Marsh aboard Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 at Templestowe Hillclimb’s ‘The Hole’ on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts circa 1961/2.

Denis Lupton took a cracker of a shot- ignore the eucalypts, pretend they are pines and it could be the Eifel Mountains, sorta.

Denis was sure the pilot was Alan Hamilton, son of Porsche Cars Australia founder Norman Hamilton, but after some investigation and comment by Ron Simmonds, Gordon Dobie, Tony Johns and Stephen Dalton, Alan Hamilton resolved the ‘mystery’.

He recalls ‘Sadly, the 550 days were just a bit too early for me. That is Lionel Marsh at Templestowe. I did drive the 550 a couple of times at Fishermans Bend. Sometimes, after the races, Alan Jones and I used to disappear to a deserted end of the airstrips and drive our respective fathers, cars.’

‘I don’t recall how Lionel came to “own” the 550 other than he was a great mate of Jack Godbehear. (a renowned but low profile engine builder) I have a feeling that Jack might have been the owner, or at least, a major shareholder in it. Jack certainly did the preparation for Lionel and in many ways, this was the most successful period of the 550’s
life.’

‘My father and Frank Kleinig took the car to New Zealand to race there in 1956. Frank had difficulty coming to terms with the 550 as it handled total differently to his Hudson Special. Unfortunately, Frank earned the reputation of “hay bail Charlie” because of his habit of hitting hay bails which marked the track limits. My father asked Stirling Moss if he’d like to drive the car in the Ardmore Handicap, which he won.’

‘In about 1964, I located the car in a panel beating shop in Sydney and bought it. The engine was part disassembled, the gearbox was missing, as were the front brakes. The body work was “bruised” in various places. One of the panel beaters from Duttons (our authorised body repairers at the time) commenced work on the “bruises” and I sent the engine back to Porsche for a full rebuild.’

‘I spent six months living and working at Porsche in 1965 and came back with the 906 Spyder, chassis # 906-007. I also came back with a burning desire to race, but with no money. Part of my assets to be turned into cash, was the 550, which was sold to Lindsay Fox with the restoration beautifully completed by Brian Tanti.’

‘Lindsay also owns my 718 RSK which is also beautifully presented in the Fox Classic Car Collection. Incidentally,
the chassis number of the 550 that James Dean was driving when he died was 055, just one car earlier than my father’s car, chassis number 056.’

(D Lupton)

‘I spent 6 months living and working at Porsche in 1965 and came back with the 906 Spyder, chassis # 906-007. I also came back with a burning desire to race, but with no money. Part of my assets to be turned into cash, was the 550, which was sold to Lindsay Fox with the restoration beautifully completed by Brian Tanti.’

‘Lindsay also owns my 718 RSK which is also beautifully presented in the Fox Classic Car Collection. Incidentally,
the chassis number of the 550 that James Dean was driving when he died was 055, just one car earlier than my father’s car, chassis number 056’ Alan conculded.

The close up shot of Hamilton’s ex-works Porsche 904/8- chassis # ‘906-007’ ‘Bergspyder’ is a beauty, Calder 1966- colour too, thanks Denis!

By this stage the machine was fitted with a 2 litre 906 six-cylinder engine, click here for a piece on the car and one of the biggest friends Australian motor racing has ever had; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/ . The 550 Spyder is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

(R Simmonds)

Etcetera…

As usual, a flurry of communication with others of our friends after upload of the piece resulted in a few more images.

The first above is from Ron Simmonds, again at ‘The Hole’ with then owner Lionel Marsh at the wheel, whilst below is one from Tony Johns of Stirling Moss having a steer of the car in a sportscar support race- winning the ‘Ardmore Handicap’, as Hamilton notes above, before setting off for a victorious run in his Maserati 250F in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in 1956.

(T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns Collection)

During the period Norman Hamilton owned #’0056′ it was driven by ‘every man and his dog’- the array of talent included Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Frank Kleinig, Bruce Walton, Otto Stone, Eddie Perkins, Ted Gray, Austin Miller and Ern Tadgell, who is shown aboard the car at Phillip Island below.

Credit…

Special thanks to Denis Lupton and Alan hamilton

Ron Simmonds, Tony Johns Collection, Dick Willis, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Tailpiece…

(Dick Willis)

Ern Tadgell again, in Dick Willis’ shot, this time at Lowood, Queensland in 1957- the car worked hard all over Australia as one of Hamilton’s primary brand recognition tools all those years ago when the Zuffenhausen giant was a small family business start-up, hard though that is to imagine now!

Finito…

(B Kaine)

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

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

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

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

(E French Collection)

 

Series 2 Morrie 803cc A Series

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(A Morris)

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

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

(C McKaige)

Etcetera: ‘A Very Special Morris’…

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

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

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

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

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

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

(C McKaige)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(C McKaige)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what is like to drive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits…

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

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

Tailpiece…

(V Wright)

‘Goin our way?’

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

Finito…

(R MacKenzie)

Pedro Rogriguez BRM P126 V12 howling its way around Surfers Paradise in the summer of 1968, behind is Dick Atwood’s sister car…

This shot is by Rod MacKenzie, loved his work, especially the more creative stuff of which there is heaps- he died last year sadly, see here for some of his work; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/27/oz-racing-books/ and here for the BRM P126; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/25/richard-attwood-brm-p126-longford-1968/

 

(oldracephotos.com.au/King)

Bob Jane from Allan Moffat in Lotus Cortinas at Mountford Corner, Longford in March 1965.

Didn’t these two characters go at with considerable ferocity for a couple of decades, who won the encounters on this weekend? Click here for the Lotus Cortina; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/16/jim-clark-lotus-cortina-sebring-1964/ and here for Moff’s more formative career years; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/

 

(I Smith)

Feel the earth move under your feet- Formula 5000 at Sandown was what hooked me into the sport.

McRae, McRae GM3 Chev, Costanzo, Lola T332C Chev and Kevin Bartlett’s partially obscured Brabham BT43 Chev, another three T332s and the rest on the run down from The Rise down into Dandy Road- Sandown Park Cup, Rothmans International Series, February 1978.

Warwick Brown won from Garrie Cooper and John Cannon- Lola T333/T332C Chev, Elfin MR8-C Chev and March 73A/751 Chev, McRae, Costanzo and Bartlett were all DNFs.

Piece on Graham McRae here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/06/amons-talon-mcraes-gm2/

 

(S Jek)

Stan Jones, Maserati 250F during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix.

Taken from the spectator foot bridge on Pit Straight, Stan was fifth in the race won by Moss’ works 250F, see here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp-albert-park/

 

(unattributed)

The Corkscrew, Laguna Seca Can-Am 15 October 1967.

Skip Scott, McLaren M1C Chev from Frank Matich, Matich SR3 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 and Chris Amon, Ferrari 350 Can-Am V12 with a Lola T70 up top.

Bruce McLaren won that day in his M6A Chev- the first of the long series of dominant orange Can-Am Big Macs.

For Matich, his 1967 tour was a toe in the water exercise, but he never did go back with a sportscar, the SR4 chassis and Repco 5 litre 760 engine were both hopelessly late, in the event he used a sledge hammer to crack a nut in torching the local opposition in the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship- see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

John Smith, Ralt RT21 Holden, Formula Holden, Phillip Island during the opening 1990 Gold Star round in March 1990.

Schmiddy put Dave Mawer’s immaculate car second on the grid but had a mother and father of a prang during the pre-race morning warm up comprehensively destroying the car after a high speed off at Lukey Heights.

I became a Smith devotee in his Bowin P4A Formula Ford days where his dazzling car control was Bartlett-esque, he carried that pace into the Galloway ANF2 and then the ex-Scuderia Veloce/Larry Perkins Ralt RT1 he raced with both pushrod Ford and BDA Ford engines in both ANF2 and Formula Pacific- nifty that, I always thought.

The thinking drivers of that F Pac period were Alf Costanzo and John Bowe- the ‘maddies’ perhaps Andrew Miedecke, Lucio Cesario and Smith- with the latter two probably or possibly the quickest of the five over a given lap and Costanzo and JB more often victorious. Alan Jones duly noted of course.

Alf should have gone to Europe in 1969 (or did he? and returned), Smith in 1979 and Bowe and Cesario in 1981- man there was talent aplenty amongst that lot.

John boofed a few cars mind you- the RT1 was retubbed at least once, ditto one of the RT4s, ditto this RT21 but he was always ‘on it’ in a very European kinda way as was Lucio, and let’s not forget the latter was a Lancia LC2 Ferrari Group C works driver for a season or so- I really must write that story.

John’s Ralt RT4 looking a tad second hand after a difference of opinion with the Adelaide International real estate before the first Gold Star round in 1982 (SLSA)

 

(T Parkinson)

Bunbury ‘Round The Houses’ down south as the Perthies refer to Margs (Margaret River) and its surrounds.

The real 100S Austin Healey deal ‘AHS3909’ which Tony Parkinson identifies as driven by Perth disc-jockey Mike O’Rourke during the 1963 New Year weekend.

See here for more about these West Australian town venues; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

 

(Govt Singapore)

John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam leads winner Graeme Lawrence, Brabham BT29 Ford FVC through the tropical jungle alongside the Thompson Road track, Singapore GP 1971.

This piece is about the Singapore GP generally but with a focus on the 1972 event; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/24/singapore-sling-with-an-elfin-twist/

 

(J Ellacott)

Beautiful John Ellacott shot at Mount Druitt in July 1957.

The two Johns, Ellacott and Medley identify the entrants as the #81 George Websdale MG TC, #9 Howard Hunt MG TA/TC Spl s/c, Jim Johnson MG TC Spl, #20 Don Wright, Citroen Spl and Gordon Stewart in the mid-engined Wheeler MG Spl s/c, and on the second row Ray Walmsley, Alfa Romeo P3 Alvis, unknown, the George Pearse Cooper MG and maybe Ken Bennett’s Austin Healey 100-4, Medley notes in the background the red Jack Robinson Jaguar in the background.

A piece on Mount Druitt is here; https://primotipo.com/?s=mount+druitt

 

(A Doney)

Soap Box Derby in Bendigo.

Nineteen-forties d’yer reckon? All of us with a billy-cart or three in our past can relate to this wonderful shot. More on billy-carts; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/10/spitty/

 

Poignant.

The I’ll-fated Rocky Tresise Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax is pushed onto the grid at Longford in March 1965.

Warwick Cumming at the rear, Lou Russo up front- two of the AF Hollins crew who always looked after Lex Davison’s cars.

A rather sad story, a ‘Greek Tragedy’ as some have described it, here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

 

(Peter Weaver Motor Sport Photography)

Bap Romano, Kaditcha Ford Cosworth DFL, Winton, 1983.

Bap won both heats of the Australian Sportscar Championship that day- I was there and still remember the raucous, sharp exhaust note of Barry Lock’s marvellous car.

It needed a bit of work from ex-Alan Jones Williams mechanic, Wayne Eckersley to get the structure and aero right but it was a jet once they got the thing sorted.

I went to several meetings just to see and hear this car.

 

(I Nicholls)

Tiger In Your Tank indeed.

Ray Parsons and Jim Clark watched by a fascinated Sandown Park crowd during the 1966 Tasman meeting.

Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax was the least competitive of all of his Tasman mounts, the two BRM P261s were the class of the field that year with Jackie Stewart taking the title convincingly.

See here for an epic on this car which was driven so well for so long after acquired by Leo Geoghegan after the Longford round which followed this Sandown event; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

 

(N Macleod)

Aussie Abroad.

Warwick Brown in Jack McCormack’s Talon MR1A Chev at Mosport during the 1975 US F5000 Championship.

He gave Mario Andretti a surprise that weekend pushing him hard in the heat, in the final he was third behind Mario and Brian Redman’s Lola T332 Chevs.

A bit about Warwick here; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/

 

(D Simpson)

The old and the new.

There are not too many shots of Bob Jane’s second and third Mustangs together on track together as here during the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship round at Mallala.

Bob in the 1968 Shelby built Trans-Am leads John Harvey in the GT390 with Terry Allen’s Chev Camaro in shot too.

Pete Geoghegan won the race in his Mustang from Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911, Bob retired mid-race, not sure about Harves and Terry Allan, I don’t have my ATCC book to hand- folks?

1969 ATCC article here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

 

(J Ellacott)

Stunning John Ellacott work- look closely, there is so much going on in this magnificent photograph taken during the 1962 Warwick Farm 100 weekend.

Moss practiced this Lotus 21 Climax but preferred Rob Walker’s Cooper T53 so won in that from Bruce McLaren and Bib Stillwell in similar cars.

Read about the Lotus 21 here; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

 

(M Terry)

Aspendale Park 1929.

James Crooke built a race track inside his horse racing course in 1905, the first race meeting was held on 29 January 1906 making it the ‘world’s first purpose built racing circuit.’

I am intrigued as to the cars and drivers above identification folks?

See here a great piece on this Melbourne bayside motorsport 1905 to 1951 race venue, Melburnians who want to check the location should pop Albany Crescent, Aspendale into Google Maps and drive along it- it once was the track’s back-straight.

See here; https://www.hyperracer.com/history

 

(R Lambert or D Mills)

Surely Garrie Cooper was the most multi-talented man in Australian motor racing apart from Jack Brabham?

Designer, engineer, constructor of production racing cars in some scale for a couple of decades and a bit, small business owner and employer and elite level racing driver- not at the  apex of the latter of course.

Nobody has a bad thing to see about the bloke either, he was a decent, honest man of his word in a sea filled with no shortage of white-pointers.

Here he is aboard his superb Elfin 600C Repco ‘830’ 2.5 V8 during the JAF Japanese Grand Prix weekend in 1969 in this race won by

Per head of population the Elfin 600 was one of the most successful production racing cars ever built- the only model missing from the Edwardstown concerns line up was a Formula Vee variant!

Craig Sparks, Elfin 792 VW inside Bob Prendergast’s Cheetah Mk7 , Winton March 1981

 

Winton ANF2 championship round in March 1981. John Bowe, Elfin GE225 VW from Ricahed Davison’s Hardman Ford, Russell Norden’s March ‘Aryben’ 793 VW and Peter Macrow, Cheetah Mk7 Toyota. JB wrote of this car ‘Loved that car, would have liked to run it for a bit longer but my sponsor wanted to go Atlantic racing straight away which meant Ralt. I’m sure Garrie could have built an awesome Atlantic car but the time frame was crucial’

I remember looking at John Bowe’s works Elfin 792 VW car at the Winton ANF2 championship round in 1979 and going simultaneously ‘woweee’ and ‘ya missed the boat Gazza’ when first glimpsing the gleaming Ansett sponsored car, it was the year ‘all’ the production racing car manufacturers had a crack at a ground-effect car, ‘black art’ that it was at the time.

The 792 wasn’t a GE car but the GE225 VW F2 which followed it was- and was a quick machine, John Bowe rated it and then Chris Leach, his sponsor, wanted to go Formula Pacific so the car was sold sooner than ideal, so too was the MR9 Chev F5000 but it’s developmental opportunities were not at an end when Garrie died suddenly in early 1982.

I’ve often wondered what he would have achieved had he continued on, for sure the historic restoration work he had commenced would have provided valuable cash-flow as the market for production racing cars got tougher especially as the carbon-fibre era began.

The cars designed and built by Don Elliot, Tony Edmondson and Jon Porter were the real Elfin deal mind you, god bless ‘em for taking the torch forward as they did.

R.IP. GC Cooper- see here for the 792; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/10/elfin-light-aircraft/

 

Bib Stillwell at Mount Panorama aboard his Cooper T51 Climax in October 1960.

Bib owned and raced more cars than you and I have had hot dinners- the Coopers he had in this period alone takes a bit of reckoning.

This one ‘F2-18-59’ is the car he leased to Lex Davison and in which, despite its 2.2 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine, compared to the oppositions 2.5s, Lex won the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala, click here for that story; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/29/the-naughty-corner-renta-gp-winner/

 

(HRCCTas)

Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 904 leads a gaggle of cars into the Viaduct at Longford during the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy.

Behind him is Lionel Ayers, MRC Lotus 23B Ford, Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM- Frank Matich is up front in his new Elfin 400 Olds and took the win.

Here is a piece on Hamilton’s sportsracer Porsches of this period; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

 

(Brabham Automotive)

‘Orf with his head!’

Arise Sir Jack, Sir Zelman Cowen, Australia’s Governor General completes the Knighthood ritual in Canberra, 1979.

And rather well deserved too.

 

(unattributed)

Aussies Abroad, for quite a while the case of these blokes…

Brian Muir, BMW 3 litre CSL chases Frank Gardner, Chev Camaro ZL-1 7 litre at Brands Hatch during a British Saloon Car Championship round in 1973.

Frank left Australia as a sportscar pilot and forged a great career in those things as well as single-seaters and tourers whilst Brian left Sydney as a touring car driver and mixed that in Europe with sportscar drives.

Frank returned to Oz in late 1974 whilst Brian died suddenly in England on 11 September 1983.

 

(unattributed)

The raucous bellow of the XK Jaguar engine bellows and echoes off the surrounding gums as Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 exits Kings Bridge during the 1959 Australian Grand Prix at Longford…

Phillips, son of Wangaratta between the wars top racer Jack Phillips didn’t win that day but he won the event at Lowood in 1959.

I’ve an article largely completed on that ex-Whitehead/Jones car and tangentially the driver, I really must get on with it Ian McDonald!

 

(Castrol)

Bathurst 1000, 2019: Lee Holdsworth, Tickford Racing Ford Mustang GT…

The Mustangs brought a great new shape to V8 Supercars in 2019 with the DJR Scott McLaughlin car taking the title from Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.

Holdsworth was ninth at Mount Panorama sharing with Thomas Randle and finished tenth in the overall seasons point score with a best placing for the year third at Sandown.

 

(P Cross)

Phil West at the wheel of the Scuderia Veloce ex-Gardner Ferrari 275GTB during the 1968 Surfers Paradise 12 Hours.

He finished ninth sharing the car with George Reynolds and – the race was won by the SV Ferrari 250LM driven by the Brothers Geoghegan.

Whilst the 275GTB are somewhat iconic Phil wasn’t impressed at all, his thoughts about it are here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/24/franks-fazz/

 

(R Watson)

Bob Jane at Calder aboard his Brabham BT23E Repco circa 1968.

Janey raced single-seaters regularly circa 1964-1966, he had an Elfin Mono Ford ANF1.5 and at that stage more or less switched to touring cars but not exclusively so, when he felt like it he had a whirl in his Elfin 400 Repco, and here aboard his ex-Jack 1968 Tasman machine usually piloted by John Harvey.

This car is covered in this piece here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

Bob Jane, Elfin Type 100 Ford twin-cam ANF 1.5, Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1966 (autopics.com)

Photo and other Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie, Sharaz Jek, oldracephotos.com, Peter Weaver Motorsport Photography, Tony Parkinson, John Ellacott, Allan Doney, Ian Nicholls, Norm Macleod, Dick Simpson, Michael Terry, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Brabham Automotive, Castrol, Richard Watson, hyperracer.com, autopics.com, S5000 Facebook

Tailpiece: Surfs Up…

(S5000 FB)

Tim Macrow testing the prototype S5000 Ligier at Phillip Island on 19 September 2019.

Lovely shot by Peter Weaver, who said all modern circuits are ugly? Weaver is the master at the Island, his work there is exceptional.

This was one of several test days at the circuit before the new categories first race at Sandown several weeks hence, click here for a feature on the class; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

Finito…

Glyn Scott, Elfin 600B Waggott from Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco, Warwick Farm 11 July 1970 (L Hemer)

Sunday 26 July 2020 marks fifty years since the tragic death at Lakeside of one of Queensland’s favourite racing sons- Glyn Scott at the wheel of his new Elfin 600B Waggott TC-4V.

I attended the 1973 Glyn Scott Memorial Trophy at Surfers Paradise and learned a bit of racing history from the program that day then last year I was lucky enough to meet Glyn’s son Gary who had a stellar racing career himself in Europe and Australia, and got a chance to understand a little more about Glyn during the pub evening. It was amusing actually, he couldn’t believe anyone would be interested in his open-wheeler exploits rather than his considerable taxi credentials.

Glyn Scott was not just a competitor of international standard but also active in the administration of the sport as State President of CAMS, State Delegate to the National Council and President of the Queensland Racing Drivers Club- very much an experienced set of hands and senior citizen of the sport on and off the track.

Glyn at Lakeside during the ATT weekend in 1965, he raced the Ann Thompson owned Lotus 15 (R Bell)

 

John Ellacott ‘This was the first outing of the Lotus 20 in December 1961…which probably accounts for the car being green rather than the blue it was later…Taken from Homestead Corner’ (J Ellacott)

 

A couple of youngsters at Catalina Park in 1962- Glyn ahead of Leo Geoghegan in Lotus 20 Ford FJs (J Ellacott)

His first racing steps were aboard an Ariel powered home made open-wheeler he ran at Leyburn and Lowood as well as the hills, he was soon racing the Repco-Holden Special, a replica of Tom Hawkes Cooper T23 Holden with which he had so much success on the eastern seaboard over the following years.

Another big step of progression was the acquisition of Alec Mildren’s Cooper T43 Climax in 1958- ‘the first big-league machine to be domiciled in Queensland’ wrote Des White. With this car he worked his way into the ranks of Australia’s top drivers supported by a team of three- Norm Meller, Col Clarey and Jim Bertram.

Cars which followed included Lotus 18 and Lotus 20 FJs, Lotus 27 Ford twin-cam ANF 1 1/2 and Lotus 23B Ford.

Glyn in the Scott Special aka Repco Holden during its first test run at Lowood, circa August/September 1957 (I McDonald Collection)

 

Longford Trophy 1960. Glyn in his Cooper T43 Climax 1.7 with Jon Leighton’s T45 2 litre behind, sixth and fifth in the race won by Brabham’s Cooper T51- red car to the right is Ern Tadgell, Lotus 12 Climax FPF 1.5 aka Sabakat (J Barnes)

 

Scott during practice at Warwick Farm during 1969, Lotus 23B Ford (L Hemer)

Along the way he married Coral and had three children Gary, Susan and Anthony and ran his business Glyn Scott Motors.

He aided and abetted John Joyce’s creation of Bowin Cars upon his return from a stint as an engineer at Lotus by becoming John’s first customer- that car, the Bowin P3 Ford FVA F2  was a machine driven with great skill by Glyn inclusive of a memorable Gold Star round win at Sandown in September 1968 on a day the 2.5 litre Tasman machines wilted.

He also took the P3 to Japan for the JAF Japanese Grand Prix that year finishing fourth behind Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco 2.5.

Glyn drove others cars, a great drive was his co-drive of Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 in the 1967 Surfers Paradise. Photographer Peter Maslen wrote ‘One of the finest drives i ever saw. When Alan Hamilton dropped the Porsche into the ditch around the back of the circuit, he was encouraged to recover it-Glyn took over and they came third. This picture now holds pride of place on my study wall.’ It is a marvellous shot- he has managed to capture the determined set of Scott’s jaw (P Maslen)

 

Glyn and Leo Geoghegan were the very best of friends, Leo was on hand for the early tests of the P3 and here Scotty is attending to his needs before the off at Oran Park on 22 September 1968 (Bowin Cars)

 

Lakeside paddock October 1968- the blue Scott Bowin P3 Ford FVA and Lotus 23B Ford twin-cam with Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911 S/T (G Ruckert)

As 1970 approached he spoke of retirement but the lure of competition and a new Elfin 600 was too much, Glyn ordered a 2 litre Waggott engine for the Elfin and fitted the FVA into the Lotus 23B after selling the Bowin.

After taking delivery of the Elfin he raced it at Oran Park, Warwick Farm and the Lakeside Gold Star round in June where he was third behind Max Stewart and John Harvey, proving the pace of his new car which was by then was reasonably well sorted.

Glyn took the starters flag, as he had so many times before, for the 15 lap racing car feature, during the Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, on 26 July and ran second to close mate Ivan Tighe’s 600 twin-cam for four laps, and as the black-flag came out for Glyn, who had lost his goggles, ‘the two duelling open-wheelers swept into the straight.

‘Scott skipped to the left to go past under (2 litre) power; the Elfin had two wheels off, right opposite the tower, the car was back on again, then off, then jumped four feet sideways over the bitumen shoulder to lock together with Tighe’s Elfin.’

At that point, travelling at some 130 mph, the drivers were in the hands of physics and the gods- Glyn’s car stopped instantly under the single-rail Armco whilst Ivan’s hurtled over it into a six foot K-wire fence, receiving severe cuts and fractures in one hand.

The entire incident took only a fraction of a second, and right there ended the 20 year racing career of Queensland’s most respected driver’ Des White’s Racing Car News report ended.

Glyn in a spot of bother with his new Elfin in the Warwick Farm Esses during the 11/12 July meeting (M Pearce)

 

Last laps, great mates in a great tustle- Ivan Tighe and Glyn Scott, Lakeside 26 July 1970 (D Simpson)

To end this tribute to a driver who still comes up so often in conversation amongst enthusiasts- heartfelt words written by then CAMS Secretary-General Donald K Thomson who had worked closely with Scott and knew him well.

’An obituary is not a biography, designed to paint the definitive picture of a man, with his faults evaluated equally with his virtues.

The convention of such tributes often tends to invest those who have gone with a sort of aura of unalloyed goodness, which is at odds with all human experience; and hence obituaries sometimes must be read for what they omit as much as for what they include.

It is not so with Glyn Scott. He was that best of human beings, a gentle and considerate man. He was not the greatest racing driver in the world, or the wisest and most far-seeing administrator of his sport. He was more- he was patient, sincere, thorough, friendly and loyal. Without guile or arrogance, he was frank and open, available to all for help and advice, and both an ornament and a truly devoted servant to the sport, at great personal cost of time and effort.

There are, and will be, greater stars; but they gleam, many of them, like meteors. Glyn’s light will lend a continuing radiance for far longer. His memory is the best obituary; everything else is just words.’

(M Bisset Collection)

 

Etcetera…

(I McDonald Collection)

Tom Hawkes’ ex-Brabham Cooper T23 was garaged at Glyn Scott Motors Atlantic Oil Servo between the 1957 Lowood June and August meetings, in the intervening period Glyn, Norm Mellor and Bill Purcell, assisted by Les Gould and Harvey Robinson created a copy of the T23’s chassis and body.

The mechanicals including Repco Hi-power headed Holden ‘Grey Six’ and four speed Jaguar gearbox were donated by Glyns existing Holden Special which had started life as a taxi.

The shot above shows the car’s first run at Lowood, ‘It was originally entered as the “Scott Special”, i have the original bonnet badge. I guess somebody must have ribbed Glyny that he was a Nazi supporter, hence SS was put aside!’ quipped car restorer (in 1979) and custodian Ian McDonald. Nick McDonald races this car today as beautifully as father Ian did for so many years.

(D Willis)

Great, rare colour shot by Dick Willis of Glyn’s second racing car, the Repco Holden Special at Lowood in 1957, and below another shot from the McDonald Collection of Glyn’s third racer, the Scott Special aka Repco Holden upon its test debut at Lowood in August/September 1957.

(I McDonald Collection)

 

Glyn, Repco Holden, Mount Panorama circa 1957-1958 (I McDonald Collection)

 

(P Houston)

Peter Houston’s trailer shot shows the essential elements of the Bowin P3 #’P3-101-68′.

The Ford FVA 1.6 litre F2 engine was Piers Courage spare during the Etonian’s very successful assault on the 1968 Tasman Cup, Niel Allen bought the car at the end of the summer and Glyn the motor. The gearbox is the Hewland FT200, standard F2 and F Atlantic issue for a couple of decades, whilst the rear suspension is period typical- single top links, inverted lower wishbones, coil spring/damper units, two radius rods each side, the uprights were magnesium alloy and brakes Girling.

The Scott Lotus 23B Ford whistles down the hill from the Water Tower to The Viaduct at Longford- second in the Monday sportscar scratch in 1968.

Longford is 2,220 km trip including an overnight ferry from Port Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania so the Brisbane-ite did not lack commitment to his sport! not to forget the drive home at the end of the weekend.

ANF 1.5 Catalina Park scrap between the Lotus-Ford twin-cam powered Mike Champion Brabham BT2, Glyn Scott Lotus 27 and Max Stewart Rennmax BN1- Stewart won the six round ANF 1.5 championship that year on his ascent to the very top of Australian motor racing.

Glyn was second on 18 points then Garrie Cooper third one point adrift of Glyn with Mike Champion fifth. Max scored 26 points- each of these fellas won a round each with David Sternberg and Phil West also race winners in an open six round, five state series.

(I Peters Collection)

The Bowin P3 is a beautiful racing car, it is a few years since i have seen custodian Ian Peters run it, the shot above shows it in its racing heyday at Symmons Plains in March 1969.

Glyn contested the first Gold Star round of the year and finished fourth behind Bartlett, Geoghegan and Allen.

(autopics.com)

The ever smiling Scotty- he loved what he did.

It’s a Lotus 23B, late in the piece- fitted with the FVA which came from the Bowin P3 making the old dear a very quick little car.

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

Glyn, or should I say Glen’s, as the Australian Motor Sport refers to him, Ariel Spl- number 20 closest to camera at Lowood in October 1950.

 

(T Sullivan Collection)

 

(oldracephotos.com)

Duelling Lotus Elan 26R’s at Surfers Paradise in 1969-1970.

John Fraser from Glyn aboard Ann Thompson’s car, above, in 1969 and below- John is still with us and active on social media so hopefully he will see the shots and assist us with timing.

By the time i saw him in 1973, still running with Shell support, he was racing a very quick Lotus 47.

(B Williamson Collection)

 

(T Sullivan Collection)

Credits…

Many thanks to Peter Houston for suggesting this piece

Lynton Hemer for selecting photographs from his archive and Ian McDonald from his, the McDonald’s have long been custodians of the marvellous Repco Holden Spl

Des White’s ‘Racing Car News’ race report and tribute to Glyn published in the September 1970 issue

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Dick Simpson, John Ellacott, Graham Ruckert, autopics.com, Ray Bell, Peter Maslen, oldracephotos.com, Mark Pearce, J Barnes, Ian Peters Collection, Bowin Cars, Stephen Dalton Collection, Bowin Cars, John Barnes, Terry Sullivan Collection, Bob Williamson Collection, Dick Willis

Tailpiece…

Glyn in the 600B Waggott, chassis # ‘7016’ during the 7 June 1970 Gold Star round, he was third on home turf behind Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott and John Harvey’s new Rennmax built Jane Repco V8.

Finito…

(S5000)

Stan Jones in typical press-on style aboard his Maserati 250F #2520 during the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park on 30 November- Stan The Man often wore these super short shirts when he raced, his tensed muscles were always a good indication that the cars of this era had a physicality about them the nimble mid-engined cars which followed did not quite so much.
A couple of those nimble machines were up front of this race- the Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham 2 litre Cooper T45 Climaxes finished first and second, Stan was a DNF after loss of oil pressure having completed 19 of the 32 laps- 100 miles in total.
The ‘John Comber Collection’ piece aroused plenty of interest- in particular from enthusiasts who remembered it racing at Sandown that November 1963 sans bonnet.
A volley of emails followed including this one from David Zeunert, a Melbourne Maserati enthusiast and historian- here ’tis for all to enjoy- shortly thereafter Stephen Dalton, Rob Bailey and Bob King chipped in with comments/and/or photographs- it was all great stuff which should be shared as there is some gold amongst the silver and bronze- where ‘the bronze’ is defined as stuff which is pretty well known amongst older Australian enthusiasts at least.
‘I was very fortunate to buy the Stan Jones Maserati cylinder head in a Jeff Dutton auction many many years ago, from memory he had owned it for a long time, he held an auction in a large factory in Cremorne Street, Richmond- not his famous car store in Chapel Street, South Yarra, at the time he was closing this and moving to a new outlet in Cromwell Street, South Yarra, and was raising capital for that venture.’
‘There was spirited bidding and it got close to $1,000 but hey the money is forgotten later and it is a Very Special Maserati Memory of “Stan The Man”- I have seen other original 250F pieces around, once again I think when Stan sold out there were spares that Colin Crabbe, who bought the car, did not get hold of. When Bill Leech sold his Cisitalia and Maserati 300S to Steve Forristall (Texas Wheeler racing car dealer) in the late 1980s I am pretty sure he got a spare Maserati 3 litre engine as part of the deal. Forristall only had the Maserati 300S – chassis #3055/Behra’s car back in the USA a short time before he flogged it.

Stan Jones, 250F at Sandown, St Vincents Hospital charity historic meeting during practice- look carefully and you can see the bonnet does not appear to be seated properly on its leading edge- on Sunday raceday he ran sans bonnet as shown below where Melbourne’s cooler weather kicked in- note the natty v-neck jumper (J Comber)

(R Bell Collection)

‘The Maserati Team brought a heap of spares with them for the 1956 Australian Grand Prix and Tourist Trophy races “Down Under”. Being short of money, Team Manager Nello Ugolini sold the two 300S Maserati’s soon after the race. Chassis #3059 went to Reg Smith- the father of Gary and Warren Smith – Melbourne car traders and much later a Maserati Bi-Turbo agent’s in Oakleigh (I am still to confirm this). Chassis #3055 was sold to Doug Whiteford and then in the late 1950’s early 1960’s to Bill Leech.’
‘I still have fond memories of Bill Leech driving the road registered 300S- with Victorian Rego WL333 down at Pearcedale, Bill at this stage lived in Humphreys Road, Mt Eliza, I had the pleasure of visiting Bill and viewing his Bugatti, Cisitalia and Maserati 300S all together in his garage.’
‘Another piece of Maserati trivia- for years I believed the visiting Maserati Team (two mechanics – team manager – head mechanic plus Stirling Moss and Jean Behra) has stayed at the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda but around three months ago I found out this in incorrect. I speak regularly with Adolfo Orsi in Modena, Adolfo is the grandson of the owner of Maserati from 1939 – 1968, I exchanged some rare photographs with Adolfo of the team when they were in Melbourne and surprise-surprise, he told me he has receipts of their stay in Melbourne- at The Brighton Club Hotel, then owned by the Sierakowski family, now Dan Murphys in Brighton just 300 metres down from Reg Hunt’s garage where all the team’s racing cars- plus Hunt’s and Ken Wharton’s were fettled prior to be raced at Albert Park.’
Bob King, ‘Maserati Chief Mechanic and Test Driver, was, needless to say, Guerino Bertocchi, i think another was Ermanno Lotti, who later returned to Australia to look after Reg’s 300S and then worked for my mate Ron McCallum as a machinist- very good he was too. Ron, 96 today, re-metalled one big-end bearing on the Moss 250F, which involved pulling the engine down overnight.’
Zeunert, ‘As is well known Bertocchi and the mechanics drove the cars along Brighton Road and the Nepean Highway from Reg’s workshop to Albert Park, exactly as they often did in Europe. I believe BP UK stumped up the money to enable the Maserati team- six people, five cars and a whole heap of spares, to come to Australia, BP’s local subsidiary was the Commonwealth Oil Refinery.’
‘Ken Wharton was a close friend of Reg Hunt and was the driver who suggested to Reg that he approach Maserati to buy a racing car- he ended up buying two from the Orsis in the 1950s (2.5 litre A6GCM and 250F) and the rest is history…Ken was killed in early 1957 in New Zealand’ racing a Ferrari Monza in a support sportscar event immediately prior to the NZ GP at Ardmore.

Albert Hunt admires his son’s new 250F, chassis #2516  prior to rolling it off the trailer in Elsternwick (B King Collection)

Leech 300S at Pearcedale on a Maserati Owners Club run circa 1988/9 (D Zeunert/B King Collection)

Maseratis as far as the eye can see! Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick garage- from left, a box of spares, Moss’ 300S #3059, Behra’s 300S #3055, team spare short nose 250F, Behra 250F long-nose #2521, Moss long nose 250F #?, Hunt’s short nose 250F #2516 with Hunt’s Cooper T23 Bristol at far right. DZ ‘Probably a BP PR shot, there was a cocktail party @ Hunts to welcome the team to Melbourne and one @ ‘Killara’ the Davison family farm near Lilydale- a traditional Aussie BBQ’ (R Hunt via D Zeunert Collection)

Adolfo also has the 1956 Australian Grand Prix cup awarded to Stirling Moss for his win in the 250F, I have asked Adolfo to email me pics, the Maserati 250F head is as light as a feather, the Italians were masters of the dark art of light weight foundry production, this goes right back to 1926 when Isotta Fraschini did all the special casting for the Maserati brothers for their emerging racing cars.’

‘Reg Hunt and his wife and son Graeme arrived in Australia circa 1948, Reg’s grandparents had been involved in the motor industry around Manchester in the 1890’s- I believe his grandmother raced motor bikes even back then, Reg was introduced to the family business, a motorcycle shop in Salford Road, Manchester, almost from birth running errands for pocket money before the 1930s, his parents taught him very early the good habits of thrift and saving for a rainy day.’

‘Reg was also involved in racing motor bikes however the second world war put an end to that, Reg told me he worked on tanks in England during this time of war, afterwards Reg was married with a son and was looking for a better place than the danky cold Manchester where he grew up. He  considered going to Canada but saw some motoring magazines from Australia and decided to bring the three of them ‘Down Under, no he was not a “Ten Pound Pom” to the best of my knowledge.’

‘He brought with him the bare bones of a special in suitcases to form the Hunt Special or “Flying Bedstead”, he then honed his skills and basically went on from there, I believe his parents came out after Reg settled here in Melbourne- Bert and Edna, his brother also made the journey and became an employee of Reg Hunt Motors.’
‘Reg  then bought some better race cars and eventually the two Maserati racing cars in 1954 and 1955 to race the following seasons here and in NZ, there are a million stories with Reg and I am gradually working thru his photographs and digitising them for all to see.’

‘In terms of his business, Reg started selling used cars from his first home in Noble Park, then a friend advised him to move closer to the city so he bought in Elsternwick and again did very well, he then thought he needed more exposure to the moving traffic so he rented the car park of the Church of England on the corner of the Nepean Highway and Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick- it’s now a Zagame used car outlet.’
‘Reg being Reg, he decided, as time moved on to move further down the road and gradually bought up space to create the “Golden Mile of New and Used Cars” in the 1950s, Reg once told me he knocked down over 300 houses to create his various dealerships there.’

‘He is an amazing man and still with us, my wife and i have dinner with he and his long term partner, Julia Hunt as often as we can- 97 years old this May just gone’ David concluded.

Who is the pretty boy then!? Reg Hunt looking very cool and dapper with sports jacket, flat-hat and Raybans, near the old army drill hall where the swim/basketball stadium is today, Albert Park. DZ suspects this is a pre-event AGP PR shot by ‘The Argus’ newspaper (D Zeunert Collection)

Moss’ works Maserati 250F, 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park with Guerino Bertocchi tending. Bob King thinks it may be Sil Massola by the car’s tail (B King)

 

Whiteford trailer after restoration by Kerry Manolas (R Bailey)

Stephen Dalton chips in, ‘Reg Smith was indeed Garry and Warren’s father. He originally had Smith’s Radios in Smith Street Fitzroy, but branched into the car trade as ‘Reno Auto Sales’, his race entries can be found with either of those business names as the entrant.’
‘Before the 300S he had a pair of air cooled Coopers and Jack Brabham’s 1955 AGP-winning Cooper Bristol T40 – the rear engine ‘Bobtail’ type car. He only had the 300S for about six months before trying to move it on. I’m (currently) aware of adverts in the July 1957 AMS and the June 1957 Rob Roy programme.  There was obviously no takers, until Bob Jane came along in late September/early October 1958. The sale is recorded in the 15 October 1958 Australian Motor News – a fortnightly late 1950s Auto Action type publication.’
‘Bob got the 300S after Reg had purchased a new Ford Thunderbird, then at the following weekend Jane ran the 300S at Fishermen’s Bend. Reg Smith was one of many to lose his life on Conrod Straight at Bathurst, driving a Porsche 356 during the October 1960 meeting. Graham Hoinville once stated to me that at Reg’s funeral there was talk of his generosity to the needy around his business area.’
‘My understanding is that the Leech brothers took over ownership of the Doug Whiteford 300S in or around August 1961- the car was run at the 27/8/61 Geelong Speed Trials by old and new owners. It’s recorded in the Nov 1961 AMS within the 10/9/61 Rob Roy report that Doug was having his second run in the 300S after the change of ownership.’
Now Rob Bailey, note that we all terribly biased Stan Jones fans here…
‘A long term family friend Don McDonald (Black Mac) who raced in the 1953 AGP at Albert Park always told me that Jones was the best racer of the period and would have made it overseas, Peter Brock even mentioned that Jones was one of the period drivers that “Straight lined” or “line drove”.
Regarding Rice trailers, Glenn Coad had in storage, up to a few years ago the Whiteford one all restored  sitting in a factory behind Izy Hertzog’s business in Port Melbourne, whilst the sister trailer was owned till his passing by that very fine gent John Best who would park it  around the corner from Barkers road Hawthorn East- his son Roy had it for sale several years ago.’
Derek Rice owned Rice trailers (no relation to the UK Rice trailers ) was a man of taste who acquired  from Bernard Down the Rolls Royce Phantom #lll 3AZ158 the Gurney Nutting 3 position sedanca. For many the most magnificent  Rolls-Royce or Bentley to have ever reached these shores. Rice hit hard times in the 1960s, as a child I can remember being with my father going to his home in the Murrumbeena area when he purchased the Phantom…’
‘Its interesting how Walter Baumer’s Maserati 300S book notes that the Moss/Jane car #3059 was raced in the 1956 Mille Miglia by Taruffi for second place and the same years Targa Florio (Taruffi) and also won the 1956 1,000 km Nurburgring- such a wonderful reference book…’

Bob Jane 300S- where/when folks? (unattributed)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

Australian Motor Sports piece on the occasion of the arrival of Stan Jones’ 250F in Australia and spare 3 litre 300S engine.
Moss exits Jaguar Corner on the way to a most impressive demonstration of high speed car control during the AGP.
Credits…
Many thanks to David Zeunert, Stephen Dalton, Rob Bailey and Bob King
S5000 Facebook page, Rob Bailey, David Zeunert Collection, Reg Hunt, Bob King Collection, Ray Bell Collection, John Comber, Bill Leech Collection
Tailpiece…

(B Leech/COR via D Zeunert Collection)

Stunning shot of the visting Officine Maserati team to Australia for the Melbourne Olympic Albert Park race meetings, again at Reg Hunt’s Elsternwick garage.
From the left-Nello Ugolini, Team Manager, Emmore Manni, Mechanic usually associated with JM Fangio, Guerino Bertocchi, Chief Mechanic and Test Driver, Jean Behra, Beppe Console, Mechanic and Stirling Moss. Then Dennis Druitt, BP UK head, funds from BP allowed the Maserati entourage to Australia in full force, Ken Wharton and Reg Hunt on the far right. The 250F is Jean’s #2521.
Finito…

(T Johns Collection)

Tony Johns well rugged up for the chills of Winton in 1965, Austin 7 Spl…

When I completed University my student earnings were all blown on a Venom Mk2 Formula Vee in March 1979, i entered the ‘real workforce’ and bought my first racer in the same week. Formula Vee was the way to go for the impecunious enthusiast with a hankering for single seater cars then, but a generation before in the late fifties/early sixties the path was a little more difficult without so many ‘factory’ cars about.

Tony Johns’ story of Austin 7 competition in the day is an interesting first-hand account of how it was for enthusiasts with a hankering for competition in those times- many Australian enthusiasts will be familiar with him as a racer, purveyor of fine motorbooks or co-author of ‘Vintage Bentleys in Australia’.

‘I was fortunate to grow up with very tolerant parents who accepted my love of old cars. Starting when I was a young boy with an Austin 7-owning great aunt which generated my passion for these wonderful cars. In my final years at school long before any of us were old enough to hold a driving license, two of my class mates already owned A7s, and soon after a third purchased a Chummy six months before me which he still owns to this day.’

John’s first Austin Chummy. ‘In the early 1960s the A7 Club held their annual beach run on the Mornington Peninsula at what was then a quiet peaceful beach at Shoreham, not far from Flinders. Never to waste an opportunity once the tide went out, the sticks were soon in place for a slalom event. If you look closely (very Tony!) under my armpit you can see Neil Johannesen’s Mooris 850 ex-1961 Armstrong 500’. Bugeye Sprite at right (David Lowe-T Johns Collection)

 

TJ and Chummy ascending Rob Roy in the early sixties (A Tracey)

‘As a teenager in the 1950’s I convinced my parents to take me to a race meeting at the Fisherman’s Bend airstrip circuit and the race meetings at Albert Park, mind you I had to wear my school uniform and cap!

Still months away from being old enough to have a driving license, I purchased my first Austin 7, a 1928 magneto-engined Chummy that was my entry card to join the Victorian Austin 7 Club in 1960.

In the beginning I competed in Gymkhanas and Navigation Trials but always wanted to build and compete in my own racing Austin 7. I started going to race meetings with Nigel Tait and got to know all the other drivers, observing what to do and what not to do. In those days everybody was very helpful and at race meeting, drivers would share spare parts if somebody needed help.’

Minimalism defined! ‘The gymkhana chassis, which, together with the body from Allan Tyrrell’s racing car which became my first racing Austin in 1965’ (T Johns)

 

Lakeland Hillclimb in the mid-sixties, still in short-sleeves but with secondhand Dunlop racing tyres and fifteen inch wheels (D Lowe)

 

‘John Fleming’s Merri Bridge Motors was the place to go for Austin 7 specials in the 1960s’ (T Johns Collection)

‘John Whitehouse and Dale Shaw were the front-runners when I had built my racing 7. My first race meeting as a driver was the Easter weekend in South Australia back in 1965, it comprised a hillclimb at Collingrove and races at Mallala. By then John Fleming and John Bowring had retired and sold their cars to new owners.

It took nearly a year to build with a lot of help from fellow Austin 7 club member Geoff Taylor, yet another A7 member who ended up as an engineer with General Motors. Geoff was still around when we built the two new Austins for the ‘1981 Raid’ to the UK- this time, as the Chief Brake Engineer for GMH. He used his contacts at PBR to supply all the new brake fittings, no going back to the wreckers!

Starting with a lowered chassis which had been modified to use in gymkhanas, I converted the original cable brakes to hydraulic operation using new alloy backing plates manufactured and sold by John Fleming (see advertisement) and Lockheed cylinders from a side valve Morris Minor obtained from the local wrecker.

Fortunately for me, Allan Tyrrell, due to both work commitments and a young family had decided to give up circuit racing and instead use his Austin to compete in an occasional hill climb. Having removed the alloy body to save weight he then agreed to sell it to me, however it took several years to get to own the inlet and exhaust manifolds but he loaned them to me for many years.

During these early years I had various manifold and SU carby setups hence the various power bulges and cutouts in the bonnet. Bill Sheehan came to my rescue on more than one occasion shaping the alloy transmission tunnel around my parents Hills Hoist.

The 1965 Easter weekend was the first of many all night sessions in order to get ready for a race meeting. Another Mallala story, one year at scrutineering the scrutineer eyes were focused on my front shock absorbers and nothing else. When I queried if there was a problem his reply was ‘Where did you get them?’- once again they were a gift from Geoff Taylor, my GMH friend, they were a pair of very special, fully adjustable Munro shocks used in the development of the Holden Torana and never available to the general public. Once that was all settled I sailed through scrutineering.’

Mallala 1965 shot which oozes atmosphere. TJ leads Trevor Cole’s ex-Fleming Austin through ‘Woodroffes Corner’ (T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns Collection)

 

Easter Mallala 1967. Doug Jarvis on pole in the ex-Davison Alfa Romeo P3, #11 Ron Brownrigg Riley and #9 Peter Brady ex-Bira MG K3. On row 2 Bill Potts or son Douglas at left MG TA and an obscured Tony Johns #98 Austin 7. Johns observes ‘This is what it was like at the start of Vintage and Historic Racing in the sixties- no roll bars and short sleeved shirts and we are still here today’ (T Johns Collection)

 

Same event as above but the flag has dropped, ‘Ron Brownrigg making his usual fast getaway in the Riley Imp, in view behind the Austin is John Jarvis driving his father’s Alfa Romeo 8C2300. Digby Thomas at the rear in his SS100 #72. The same race had an embarrassing end for me. In practice I drove around the outside of the Smith Darracq-Talbot on what used to be called Castrol Corner, nowadays BP. During the race, with youthful experience, I attempted the same passing move, only this time he was going much faster and the end result was that I rolled over several times and was thrown out…a roll bar and seat belt were fitted to the Austin soon after!’ (T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns)

‘Back in the 1960’s there were several books published in the UK on how to build an Austin 7 Special. In fact two of them were the first books published by authors Patrick Stephens and John Haynes who both became very successful publishers, anybody interested in reading about the subject was well catered for.

After a decade of racing in this form my good friend and special builder David Lowe decided my Austin needed a birthday, so it lived in his Toorak garage where he removed the pop rivets which held the body to the frame and then set about welding up a new steel tube frame complete with built-in roll bar using only the scuttle panel and top and bottom of the tail on the newly rebuilt car. A twin brake master cylinder conversion was added at this time.

The next major change to the car happened just in time for the 1978 AGP 50th Anniversary celebrations at Phillip Island when yet another Austin 7 Club member, Ross Stewart, offered to fit a supercharger to my car.

He designed, cast and machined all the alloy castings in the style used by the Austin factory back in the 1920s in order to comply with CAMS rules. Using a tooth belt to drive a supercharger was no longer allowed. Once again it was an all night session and Ross arrived with my car at the PI race circuit very late on Saturday afternoon with no time for practice. I continued to race this car for a further two years before building my Raid car to comply with UK VSCC rules- story coming soon on this adventure to the UK.

To quote Charles Dickens- ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.

During my thirty plus years of racing an Austin 7 the scene has progressed from Austin 7 Formula racing in the 1960s when we raced with the air cooled 500cc cars competing in Division 3 or 4 races at country circuits such as Hume Weir and Winton.’

Sandown pits 1965 ‘My racing car arriving on the Saturday morning after being towed from Brighton behind Bill Morling’s homemade A7 Ute- there are no hills on the route so we thought it would be good to upset the Bugatti owners etc with their Rice Trailers and Ford Mainline Utes!’ (Bill Morling-T Johns Collection)

 

Winton dummy grid in late 1968. An interesting shot in the context of Johns’ comment about the evolution of A7 racers and competition rules. #92 Nigel Tait with Neil Johannsen partially obscured behind him, then Johns in upright A7, #95 John Whitehouse in the Whitmor referred to in the text below, #93 Trevor Cole, #89 Maggie Rowe (D Lowe)

 

A Boxing Day meeting at Hume Weir in the mid seventies, Maggie Lowe chasing TJ (T Johns Collection)

‘Not long after, new very fast wedge-shaped Austins started appearing led by John Whitehouse in his Whitmor and Nigel Tait in his new car. These cars incorporated Triumph Herald front uprights together with coil spring shock absorbers, rack and pinion steering and 13 inch alloy wheel centres with spun rims. There was not much of a chance of an upright Austin 7 fitted with a beam front axle to first to great the chequered flag.

Vintage car racing in Australia began to flourish and the opportunity to be a front runner was there again. Another change to the rules for the A7 Formula was that engines other than the side valve Austin 7 could be used- Renault 750 and Hillman Imp motors were popular choices.

It was this period which included races at Warwick Farm, Historic Amaroo, Oran Park, Sandown Park and Historic Winton that were certainly ‘the best of times’ and when my engine seized a piston on the second lap at Mallory Park in the UK in 1981 during the 750 Motor Club Intercontinental Challenge and I retired, that was ‘the worst of times’.

It is sad to report that Austin 7s are now rarely seen on Historic Meeting race grids, these days the later 1930s cars are so much faster and the Austins now compete in Regularity events, Hill Climbs or Sprints.’

Etcetera…

(T Johns Collection)

Equipe Johns in the Sandown paddock, September 1965.

The Chummy he acquired whilst still a student and the A7 racer he ran from 1965 to 1980.

 

(T Johns Collection)

Easter Mallala sandwich-the Johns’ A7 sandwiched between Gavin Sandford-Morgan’s Jaguar C Type with Gavin Sala’s Darracq closes in.

(T Johns Collection)

Austin 7 Club stand at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, Melbourne during one of the Racing Car Shows promoted by Jim Abbott and John Whitehouse in 1969 or 1970.

From left, beside the pole is Nigel Tait’s then new Formula Austin, then the Whitmor’s engine, the restored Ulster chassis owned by Doug Head and in the foreground is new spaceframe car designed to compete on Observed Section Trials. In the background is Alan Esmore’s 7 with a locally built Ace two-seater body and Johns’ racing 7 on the right.

(T Johns Collection)

Lakeland Hillclimb near Lilydale, Melbourne in the mid-sixties before installation of the first roll-bar.

 

(D Lowe-T Johns Collection)

Another shot above showing the evolution of racing A7s.

Lachie Sharp at Mallala during the Easter 1966 meeting aboard the John Whitehouse built ‘The Carrot’- the name a function of the car’s colour. It was built in 1961 with help from Dale Shaw and body builder Barry Hudson- the shark-nose was completed prior to its adoption by Carlo Chiti in Maranello for his 1961 World Championship winning 156 V6 machines.

The original setup included a split front axle and leaf spring, later on John Whitehouse made the conversion to fully independent suspension as the car is shown here.

Austin 7 Formula in Australia…

See this interesting article on the evolution of Austin 7 based racing cars which was published in the ‘Australian Motor Sports Review’ 1958-1959.

See ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ Austin 7 Racing in Australia thread…

This great thread has heaps of snippets, photographs and stories by Tony Johns and Stephen Dalton about the racing of Sevens since the 1930s- it is ever evolving and growing so keep an eye on it.

https://forums.autosport.com/topic/215085-austin-seven-racing-in-australia-from-1928/

Credits…

Tony Johns- many thanks for the article and pictures

David Lowe, Ashley Tracey, Bill Morling, Australian Motor Sports Review 1958-1959

Tailpiece…

(T Johns Collection)

Tony Johns in front of Nigel Tait at Winton in 1965- wonderful times, simpler times where it was about sport and fun.

Finito…

 

(J Comber)

Ern Seeliger jumps aboard the magnificent Maybach 4 Chev at Fishermans Bend in March 1958…

One of the Covid 19 phenomena, the only good one I might add, is the incredible number of enthusiasts who have been using time released from normal outdoor activities to doing stuff inside including finding and sorting old racing images, Melbourne enthusiast, John Comber is one such fella.

In addition to the shots he also wrote a piece about his work experience as a fifteen year old in Seeliger’s workshop at 52 Baker Street, Richmond, Melbourne way back in 1958- Seeliger didn’t frighten him off either, he commenced his career as a panel beater shortly thereafter.

Of course i have written about the Maybachs before, here; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/01/1954-australian-grand-prix-southport-qld/

A big blow up of the one remaining Maybach six cylinder engine at Gnoo Blas littered the bitumen with expensive metallic debris in early 1956 and resulted in Stan Jones decision to acquire a Maserati 250F, the Maybach was handed over to Seeliger, long time friend and preparer of some of his cars to further develop and race, although Stan did have the occasional drive too.

Maybach 3 was styled along the lines of the Mercedes Benz W196, its chassis was built up from two 4 inch diameter steel tubes, the cars front suspension was by upper wishbones and a lower transverse leaf spring and radius rods, drum brakes were by PBR and the gearbox a four-speed manual.

Seeliger’s evolution of Maybach 3 to 4 essentially involved the insertion of a Chev Corvette 283 cid V8 into the space once occupied by the German 3.8 litre SOHC injected six, changes to accomodate it and better put its power to the road.

Maybach 3 in the Gnoo Blas, Orange paddock on the fateful early 1956 when its beautiful, fuel injected SOHC six lunched itself bigtime for the last time-who is at the wheel? (B Caldersmith)

John Comber’s time in the Seeliger shop coincided with some of these modifications, lets look at his work experience now.

‘…My second job was also with a neighbour, Mr Seeliger, who had a small automotive engineering business in Richmond…The arrangements were for me and my friend Trevor to be at the Seeliger’s house at 7.30 am Monday morning, do a days work and see how we liked it.’

‘On the Monday, with a  packed lunch and wearing our best “old clothes” we arrived at 7.30 just as Mr Seeliger was starting the engine of his utility. “Jump in boys” he said and we took off straight away, heading for Richmond (from Blackburn).’

‘I still remember quite clearly his opening comments, “Well i have the right job for you two bastards today, you can clean some car parts with kero, “That’ll keep you busy”.

‘The thought of cleaning the car parts with kerosene didn’t faze me but the language had caused me something of a jolt. To me this was school-yard  language and i wasn’t used to adults swearing, certainly not from my parents or relatives, or family friends.’

‘Well the rest of the day turned out fine, Trevor and i set-to with a can of kerosene cleaning mechanical parts and some body parts as well. This was quite an easy job and allowed us to look around and take in the surroundings. Mr Seeliger’s workshop  was converted from some old run-down stables with cobblestones between the sheds and an overhead loft used for storage. The yard was quite large with grass growing between some old cars and car trailers adding to the overall run-down appearance of the place.’

‘This must have been too much for Trevor as he didn’t come any more but i was there each day for the next fortnight, working amongst the cars was perfect for me…’

The core of Mr Seeliger’s business was tuning and maintaining racing cars, he was a qualified aircraft engineer and understood high performance engines and was also a racing driver himself. One of the racing cars he worked on had a V8 engine and was a potential race-winner. I learned later that this car was known as the “Maybach” and had a long history of success. He had spent several days working on the rear of the car making some modifications. Finally with it all finished i can still visualise him standing on the back of the car, making it bounce up and down and saying “That’ll keep me ahead of those bloody Ferraris.”

‘There were only three on staff, Mr Seeliger, a mechanic and Roy, the apprentice. Although Roy was only a year or two older than me he was quite friendly and helpful. To quote an old mechanic’s saying “he knew his way around a toolbox”, sometimes i helped with jobs on customer cars- simple jobs…’

‘Working conditions can best be described as matching the already mentioned surroundings: primitive might sum it up. There was no lunch-room, morning tea break was around the car being worked on and discussing the progress of the job while sipping tea or coffee. Lunch break was a little better though with a couple of old car seats to sit on…There was no heating of any sort, the area between the main sheds being open to the elements. The toilet was basic and the only tap available for hand washing was also used for filling radiators and washing cars etc.’

‘Despite these poor working conditions, which by twenty-first century standards would be deemed illegal, i thoroughly enjoyed myself working with cars and receiving five pounds each week. Now i was even more eager to finish school and begin an apprenticeship as a panel beater’, John Comber concluded in a wonderful personal account of what it was like ‘in the day’.

Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Holden-Repco and Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 Jaguar (J Comber)

 

Seeliger, above, with his mount at Bathurst during the 1958 Australian Grand Prix weekend- and a successful meeting too, second behind Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 3 litre.

 

(J Comber)

In fact the modifications to the car John alluded to included the design and construction of a de Dion rear axle to better put the greater power and torque of the bigger, heavier cast-iron V8 to the road. The previous quarter-elliptic springs were replaced with a transverse leaf, the rear track widened by an inch, the chassis lengthened a bit and at the front an anti-roll bar was fitted which incorporated brake torque rods. A larger 30 gallon tank was made to feed the thirsty Chevy.

American hot-up parts were quickly produced for this engine (in large numbers continuously for about seventy years so far!) the first of the ‘small-blocks’- the modifications to the motor used in Maybach involved fitment of two 4-barrel Carter carbs, porting and polishing the heads, bigger valves, stronger springs, lightened flywheel, oilways modified for greater flow and dry-sumping- 274bhp @ 3500rpm and 300lb/ft at 3500rpm was the result. Seeliger designed and made the clutch and a bell-housing to adapt the American engine to German Maybach ‘box whilst the diff was the same unit used in ‘3’ but with shorter axles and stronger cv’s bolted and mated to the new de Dion.

Ern made the cars debut in this form at Fishermans Bend in March 1958, John Comber’s first shot at this articles outset and some others below were taken on that very weekend.

His bid for victory came to an end with stripped tyres, John recalls ‘We watched the races from a large furniture van…after a few laps of the main race the rear tyres showed white strips around their perimeter and those on the van became quite worried the tyres might blow- fortunately Seeliger saw the problem and retired from the race….Back in the van there were many commiserations and i distinctly remember asking him “Would he be suing Dunlop because the tyres let him down”? He laughingly said “Oh no, they were just some old tyres anyway”- and indeed if you look closely at the first photograph the rears are well worn.

Importantly, the car was quick right out of the box though, Seeliger was a mighty fine design and development engineer.

Stan Jones was stiff not to win the 1958 AGP at Bathurst aboard his 250F- as was Ted Gray unlucky to dip out in Tornado 2 Chev, but Seeliger finished second in Maybach 4 with Lex Davison, always a lucky AGP competitor, the winner.

Be in no doubt my friends Maybach 4 Chev in Jone’s hands was a front row car had he felt so inclined in 1958 but he was busy winning the Gold Star aboard the 250F in any event. John believes he took the second #69 shot about two years later at a Fishermans Bend Sprint Meeting- it would be great to hear from anyone who can date it.

Into 1959 Maybach 4 was still competitive in Ern’s hands, and Stan took a win in the ‘South Australian Trophy’ Gold Star event at Port Wakefield in late March and third place in the Lowood Trophy race in Queensland but his performances that year were not enough to win him the Gold Star again despite his Longford 250F AGP win at the season’s outset.

The reign of the ‘Red Cars’ was quickly coming to an end In Australia but lets never forget the dark blue Tornado 2 shown in the Albert Park paddock below in late 1958, and the silver/blue Maybach 4- both Chev V8 powered locally designed and engineered devices very much as quick as the more sophisticated, twin-cam, exotic, expensive factory cars from Italy’s north.

Click here for a feature on the Tornados; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Tornado with the Derek Jolly Lotus 15 Climax in profile behind, Albert Park 1958 (J Comber)

 

(J Comber)

In fact that is a beautiful segue to Comber’s second 1958 Albert Park, Melbourne Grand Prix shot above of Stirling Moss’ Rob Walker entered Cooper T45 Climax being pushed through the paddock by Tim Wall.

Just look at the relative size and packaging of Tornado 2 Chev, together with Maybach 4, Stan Jones Maserati 250F and Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 the fastest cars in Australia in 1958 and the tiny, light, nimble 2 litre Cooper.

At the season’s outset, before the Fishermans Bend meeting in March when Seeliger debuted Maybach 4, Stirling Moss won the first World Championship Formula 1 race taken by a mid-engined car by receiving the chequered flag in the Argentinian Grand Prix in a Walker T45- i am not sure if he used the same chassis to defeat Jack Brabham in another T45 that Melbourne summer afternoon- sadly the last use of Albert Park as a race venue until the modern era.

That day in Argentina reset the paradigm for Grand Prix and Sports-Racer design, the last World Championships for front engined cars were won in 1958- Vanwall took the constructors title and Mike Hawthorn the drivers award in a Ferrari Dino 246.

It was the same, in a fashion in Australia, the last front-engined Gold Star win was Jones 1958 award aboard his Maserati 250F, the first mid-engined one went to Len Lukey who raced the same Cooper T45 Brabham ran at Albert Park in late 1958 to Gold Star victory in 1959.

No wonder Comber’s camera was drawn to the little Cooper at Albert Park.

See here for Moss at ‘The Park’; https://primotipo.com/2016/12/27/moss-at-albert-park/

 

(J Comber)

Derek Jolly’s Lotus 15 Climax has been well covered, here the car is at rest with Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder alongside- Ern Tadgell raced the car that weekend.

Before the end of a weekend the Lotus’ good health was ruined comprehensively- a rear suspension failure pitched the car into the trees late in the Melbourne GP race and resulted in some acrimonious discussions between Colin Chapman and Jolly about the quality of its build- a Le Mans drive and new chassis was the net result- see here for a feature article on the Derek’s Deccas and Lotuses; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

 

(J Comber)

David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 is another car which has been well covered in these pages, here at Albert Park it has not been in the country long at all. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/05/gnoo-who-gnoo-blas-circuit-jaguar-xkc-type-xkc037/

The Sydneysider had a great carnival winning the Touring Car Scratch Race on both weekends with the eternal Bob Holden, and Clem Smith Holdens second and third on both occasions- Holden raced an FE and Smith a ‘Humpy’.

(J Comber)

Doug Whiteford was as close to a professional driver Australia had at the time, albeit his St Kilda and Hawthorn garages and dealerships were an inextricable part of his business mix- above is his Dodge Custom Royal and Rice Trailer contained within is his famous, long raced and much lusted over Maserati 300S- Fisherman’s Bend February or March 1958.

This piece is about the Maserati 300S; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

(J Comber)

Len Lukey made his name in Ford Customlines before adding single seaters to the mix and winning a Gold Star aboard a Cooper T45 Climax in 1959.

He famously towed his Cooper Bristol to a Caversham Gold Star round with a Customline and then contested the Touring Car races with said tow-car, note the tow-bar in this ‘Fishos shot.

All about Len here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/26/len-lukey-australian-gold-star-champion/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/20/teds-tornado-and-lens-cooper/

(J Comber)

Another two Fishermans Bend tourer contestants are this #69 Hillman raced by Harry Firth and Esquire Motors entered Wolseley driven by 1936 Australian Grand Prix winner, Les Murphy, towards the end of a very long racing career- 22/23 February 1958 weekend. The shot below is Bob Holden’s FE Holden.

(J Comber)

Otto Stone and crewman push the great engineer, and very handy steerers MG K3 through the paddock- I think it is fair to say that Stan Jones Maserati 250F fortunes changed for the better when Otto took over the preparation of chassis ‘2520’.

(J Comber)

Other Photographs…

(J Comber)

Two of the cars featured above in period in more recent times- the late eighties during an Eastern Beach, Ritchie Boulevard, Geelong Sprint meeting.

These days Maybach 4 I think is owned by Peter Briggs’ York Motor Museum in West Australia and Tornado 2 Chev by Frank Moore in Queensland- both are such significant cars it would be great to see them out and about more often.

(J Comber)

 

(J Comber)

A series of three photographs at Sandown to finish off- the first is again Tornado 2 Chev, this time during the 1978 ‘Fangio Meeting’ with, if memory serves, one of its ‘in period’ drivers John McDonald at the wheel, perhaps someone with a  program to hand can check that.

John has framed his shot brilliantly by avoiding modern advertising hoardings, this is the run along Pit Straight, close to Peters/Torana Corner.

Stan Jones is one of my all-time faves so i’ve saved the best till last!

And what a cracker of a shot it is, a beautiful pan of Jones’ Maserati 250F on the run away from Dandy Road towards The Causeway with the tree and blurred background giving the place a feel of a time five or so years before it actually opened.

(J Comber)

John believes this is probably the ‘St Vincents’ Historic Meeting’ in November 1963. By this stage Stan’s financial fortunes are not what they were, the Maser is for sale so my guess is that this is probably his last drive of a car which was perhaps kinder to him than any other- Maybach 1 made his reputation but the Maserati ‘brought home the bacon’.

It would have been with a heavy heart he backed off the throttle alongside the grandstand to lose speed and pulled into pit lane and the dusty paddock to switch off the peachy, punchy straight-six for one last time.

The crop of the same shot below reveals Stan’s usual race attire inclusive of five year old helmet and T-Shirt- just magic, I can hear the bellowing six and snickety-snick changes executed with expert familiarity…

(J Comber)

Photos/References…

John Comber’s words and pictures, as he quipped ‘Not bad for a 15 year old equipped with a Box-Brownie!’- who can argue with that, a mighty fine, evocative job indeed.

David Zeunert Collection, Australian Motor Heritage Foundation Archives, Brian Caldersmith Collection

Stephen Dalton for vehicle identification and additional research

Tailpiece: Ern Seeliger, Stan Jones and Superior Motors salesman Doug Roberts aboard Jones’ HRG, Baker Street, Richmond, 1950…

(D Zeunert Collection)

David Zeunert observes ‘Stan’s second hand car emporium “Superior Motors” in Victoria Street was only five minutes away from Ern’s garage, very handy for both guys who used one another’s wits on many race projects.’

Stephen Dalton chips in, ‘The photo would have been taken in the first week of October 1950,  just before or after the October 1950 Bathurst meeting that Stan Jones ran as car number 34. Mr Medley has Stan spinning in his Bathurst tome for that chapter- by the following weekend the car was carrying #7 at Woodside, South Australia.’

(D Zeunert Collection)

Finito…