Posts Tagged ‘Australian Motor Racing History’

(I Curwen-Walker)

Social media just keeps giving and giving. This time enthusiast Russell Garth has posted some great ’56 AGP colour shots taken by the late Ian Curwen-Walker at Albert Park on Bob Williamson’s Old Motor Racing Photographs Australia Facebook page.

Sometimes I’ve got so many different articles on the same topic I’m confusing myself – not that is difficult to do I might add – so rather than start another ’56 AGP piece I’ve added the shots to this existing article;

The photograph above is Paul England’s Ausca Holden-Repco which contested the 25 November, 34 lap, 100 mile Australian Tourist Trophy. He was 12th outright and second in class, in the car he and Bill Hickey built after hours at Repco Research’ Sydney Road, Brunswick premises on the other side of town. The flash of blue to the right is the Norman Hamilton owned Porsche 550 Spyder driven that weekend by Otto Stone, lasting only one lap. Otto would have been a busy boy that fortnight, looking after Stan Jones’ 250F, or was he preparing it at that early stage?

Tony Johns tells me the “bloke (with his back to us) in the white overalls with the fag is Norman Hamilton,” who created the Porsche Cars Australia empire in Australia, famously the first Porsche importer/dealer outside Europe.


Ian Curwen-Walker via Russell Garth


(Draper Family Collection)

One upon a time Grand Prix drivers weren’t paid fees that make the GDPs of third world countries look small.

I guess that over 20 Grands Prix and the associated test and race-simulation loads keep them busy, the rest of the time is devoted to the body-beautiful, PR and the needs of the girl/boyfriend.

At the dawn of the space-age, wily Jack Brabham worked all the angles to optimise his earnings, short and perilous as it was in the days when drivers died in the cockpit as a matter of routine.

John Cooper paid him a retainer and a percentage of his winnings. He ghosted magazine articles, had a motor garage and dealership or three, drove cars for others and owned and entered cars for himself and others. That’s how he found himself in the New South Wales/Victorian border-town of Albury, on the Murray River, for the Craven-A International at the small, new, Hume Weir circuit over the March 12/13 1961 weekend.

(Draper Family Collection)
(G Garth)

That summer he’d brought a Cooper T53 Climax (chassis F2-8-60) and Cooper T51 Climax (F2-5-57 or F2-7-59) home to do the Kiwi and Australian Internationals.

He did pretty well too, winning the New Zealand Grand Prix on the Ardmore aerodrome and the Lady Wigram Trophy on the RNZAF base of the same name in the T53. Ron Flockhart that car on pole at Ballarat, and finished third, while Ron’s best with the Cooper T51 was fourth at Ardmore and fifth in the Warwick Farm 100 where Stirling Moss won the first international held on the great Sydney track aboard Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax.

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori – who had raced a Reg Parnell Lotus 18 in New Zealand that summer – took the wheel of the Cooper T51 in Tasmania, winning the Longford Trophy (above) but his weekend wasn’t so successful in Albury where he was fourth in the Saturday 20-lapper, and failed to finish the equally hot Sunday race. Brabham won both races in the T53 in skinny six/seven car grids.

Our Jack dragged in he crowds, doubtless Craven A sold a few cancer-sticks, so everybody went home happy. Brabham always flogged the cars he brought to Australia at the end of his tour but on this occasion both Coopers returned to the UK and equally oddly both disappeared into the ether later in the year.

(Draper Family Collection)


John Richardson, Draper Family Collection, Glenn Garth,


(Draper Family Collection)

Roy Salvadori reflecting on the size of his ‘Gregory Peck’ at the Weir while entertaining the crowd, announcer’s name folks?



The Grand Prix cinematographer doesn’t seem the least bit perturbed by the immediate proximity of Daniel Sexton Gurney at Spa during the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix in the pouring Ardennes rain. There is a haybale or two there after all.

I guess Dan is past the critical – for the ‘snapper’s life – turn-in phase of the corner and he is only (sic) delicately balancing the Eagle Mk1 Climax 2.7 FPF on the throttle through Eau Rouge. Still, it was really dumb-shit like this that makes the film so great.

Gurney qualified 15th and wasn’t classified in this interim car, he was awaiting Weslake Engineering’s delivery of the Eagle-Weslake V12 motor to create a true contender, John Surtees’ Ferrari 312 won. See here;

(unattributed – who took the shot?)

He came, he saw and he conquered with mesmeric car control in the 1969 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Cup round. Jochen Rindt Lotus 49B Ford DFW 2.5 V8.

If he wasn’t recognised as the fastest man alive at the start of the season, most pundits saw it that way by the end of it. Fastest I said, not best. See here;

(D Simpson)


MotorSport Images, Dick Simpson, wfooshee


(J Krajancich Collection)

Duncan Ord completes a donut out front of a Shell Servo in suburban Perth, date and place unknown…

I laughed at the sight of this oh-so-pedigreed racer being subjected to useage more often applied to ‘Humpy’ Holdens of the day!

This 3.3-litre, DOHC, straight-eight Bugatti T57T #57264 was first raced by Earl Howe in the 1935 Ulster Tourist Trophy later passing into the hands of Pierre Levegh who contested the 1937 GP des Frontieres at Chimay amongst other races. It, perhaps, passed through Jean-Pierre Wimille’s hands before being sold to visiting Perth racer Duncan Ord in the UK. He shipped it home, first racing it at Pingelly, Western Australia in January 1939, where it remained a pillar of the local scene into the dawn of the swinging-sixties.

Among sports-racing Bugattis, the Type 57 is one of the most illustrious. Chassis 57264 is a Type 57 Tourist Trophy Torpedo, originally designated chassis 57222, this was later changed by the factory. The car is unusual in that despite a racing history of over thirty years it retains its original chassis largely intact, and original crankcase, gear-box and front and rear axles as well as other less critical components.

Detailed research by foremost French Bugatti authority Pierre Yves Laugier has confirmed this machines history, “The first mention of the car is in the August 1935 list of bodywork at the Bugatti factory which contains the entry ‘2 Voitures Course 24 Heures, moteurs 223 et 224’. While no chassis serial numbers were recorded for these two cars, on August 29 that year – in the factory’s list of cars sold – the chassis serial number 57222 Torpedo Tourist Trophy with motor number 224 is mentioned. Francis, Earl Howe, drove Bugatti Type 57 TT, engine 224, to finish third in the Ulster TT race, at Ards, Ulster (as below) on September 7, 1935.”

(MotorSport Images)
Earl Howe beside his trusty steed at Ards before the off (MotorSport Images)

In its report of the race MotorSport said, “The Bugattis driven by Lord Howe and the Hon. Brian Lewis were models of light construction with their duralumin shell bodies, and weighed only 26 cwt, with driver, fuel and water. Georges de Ram shock absorbers were used and the engines were said to develop over 160hp at 5,500rpm, which sounds rather fantastic. At any rate the compression ratio was well over 8 to 1 thanks to the efficient shape of the twin (sic) combustion chambers. Lord Howe’s car did close on 120mph while Lewis’s car was somewhat slower….”.

During the first practice day Francis, Earl Howe, had in fact made fastest lap time in 10 minutes 16 seconds which was some six seconds faster than his RAC handicap time. During the race Brian Lewis – the younger man and a faster driver than Howe – led the race, before his Bugatti developed clutch slip due to an oil leak from the gearbox. This left Howe leading, only to make an immediate refuelling stop. He subsequently fought his way back onto the leader board, MotorSport commenting “Howe had been making splendid progress on the Bugatti, and on the 33rd lap caught the two Aston Martins to secure third place…” – behind winner Freddie Dixon’s fleet Riley and Eddie Hall’s very special 3.6-litre Bentley.

By January 1936, the car was listed for sale with dealer Dominique Lamberjack back in Paris at 60,0000 Francs. The car was also referred to in period as chassis serial 57264/moteur 224 Torpedo TT as the factory had re-allocated serial 57222 to a new Competition Torpedo with its gondola shaped Type 57S chassis.

57264 was possibly entered at Le Mans in 1936 but the event was cancelled due to the political unrest throughout France. On June 11, 1936 the car was co-driven by Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Bugatti company salesman Roger Labric in the Spa 24-Hours. Labric, a friend of Bugatti, managed the marque’s showroom on the Avenue Montaigne, Paris. Unfortunately he overshot at the Stavelot Hairpin and burst the car’s radiator. When repaired it was offered for sale at the Avenue Montaigne showroom.

The car pictured in France during Pierre Levegh’s ownership (Bonhams Collection)

It found a buyer on April 8, 1937 in talented French gentleman/sportsman – talented cyclist, skier, ice hockey and tennis player – owner/driver Pierre Bouillin. Born in Paris on December 22, 1905, he was the son of an antiques dealer and had become the director of a brush factory in Trie Châ-teau in the Oise region. The Type 57 was his first Bugatti.

Bouillin idolized his uncle – Alfred Velghe – a pre-war pioneer racing driver. Bouillin shuffled the letters of that surname to adopt the anagram nom de guerre ‘Levegh’ for his racing exploits.

Pierre became obsessed with winning Le Mans and in 1952 came close – over-revving his Talbot-Lago and blowing the engine after 23 hours of a solo drive, while well-established in a probably uncatchable lead. His misfortune gifted the race to the works Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings which finished first and second. When Mercedes returned to Le Mans with a team of 300SLRs in 1955 they invited 49 year old Levegh to drive for them. It aboard an SLR that he innocently became involved in the terrible collision which claimed the lives of over 80 spectators, in addition to the luckless Bouillin himself.

57264 perhaps at Miramas, Marseilles with Levegh in June 1937 (Bonhams Collection)

In happier times during 1937 he paid 32,500 Francs in instalments to purchase 57264 for his competition debut. On May 15, 1937, he raced the T57 in the Grand Prix des Frontieres at Chimay, Belgium finishing third, running sans mudguards. On June 6 he contested the Marseilles 3-Hours, finishing eighth, then on September 19 at Montlhery, Levegh entered the the Autumn Cup sports car race, the machine by then fitted with larger Delahaye-style mudguards, but failed to finish.

Pierre then advertised the car for sale in the L’Auto March 15,1938 issue, describing it as a “Type 57, unique car, capable of 190km/h. Write to owner at 54 Avenue de Choisy”.The car was spotted at Brooklands during that period and clocked at 192km/h. It had already been modified with the addition of a 40-gallon riveted aluminium fuel tank behind the driver’s seat, different doors, an additional oil cooler ahead of the radiator and further modified mudguards. It also featured cable-adjustable Repesseau shock absorbers.’

Contemporary references are confusing but it’s possible Levegh sold it to French Ace Jean-Pierre Wimille who used it as his roadie before passing it on to an unknown purchaser, who shipped it to Brooklands, but died before he could compete there. It then passed to London based sports car specialist J.H. Bartlett who advertised it in the May 1938 issue of Speed, “Bugatti special 3.3-litre 120 m.p.h. competition 2 seater, fitted late series 57S engine, special electron body, special streamlined wings, spare tanks, etc…£450.” It was acquired by visiting Australian racer Duncan Ord.

Ord, Pingelly Speed Classic, on the cars race debut in Australia, January 30, 1939 (J Krajancich Collection)
Another Pingelly shot, year unknown, note the oil cooler up-front (K Devine Collection)

On arrival in Australia the car was unloaded from the ship at Fremantle where it created considerable local interest as a contemporary machine described in the press as a “1934 Le Mans model two-seater fitted with long range 60 gallon fuel tanks and had been refurbished at Molsheim before being clocked at 120 mph at Brooklands.”

Ord entered the Great Southern Speed Classic at Pingelly on 30 January, no doubt the step up in performance of the Bugatti compared to the P-Type MG he started racing in 1936 was deeply impressive. Ord’s handling of the car was noted as being particularly good but he was slowed by clutch troubles and a spin on the last lap which dropped him to fourth.

Interestingly this handicap race was won by the supercharged MG TA Spl driven by the very young Alan Tomlinson. On 2 January 1939, three weeks before, ‘The Three Kids from Perth’ (Tomlinson, Minder- Bill Smallwood, Manager- Clem Dwyer both of these latter fellows no slouches as drivers themselves) won a famous Australian Grand Prix victory on the daunting Lobethal which confounds historians to this day. Confounds in the sense that the sustained speed of the little MG beat some serious heavy-metal including the Jano Alfas of Alf Barrett, Jack Saywell and John Crouch, the Delahaye 135CS of John Snow and others on a track regarded as Australia’s greatest ever motor racing challenge.

The racing fraternity in Western Australia had a great relationship with the authorities which was reflected in a vast number of Round The Houses racing on closed public roads of small towns they secured over many decades, the first of which was at Albany in 1936.

The venues were away from Perth, to its south east was Pingelly 150km away, and Cannington 10km. Narrogin was-is 200km to the north east, Goomalling 130 km and Dowerin 160km. Byford Hillclimb was 45km south of Perth whereas Albany was a very long tow, 420km south to the edge of the continent’s coast. Busselton is 225km ‘down south’ as the Perthies say, too, on a magic stretch of coast. Bunbury was and is an important port on the west coast, it too is south of Perth, 175km from the state capital. This is by no means a complete list, I’ve just covered the towns in which the Bugatti raced.

Duncan Ord pressing on, place and date unknown (J Krajancich Collection)
Ord again at Pingelly, uncertain of the year – he raced there from 1939-41 carrying #9 on each occasion – at the Review Street corner (K Devine Collection)

Pre-War the West Australians did more racing miles than racers in any other state on tar or bitumen. On the odd occasion they competed on the east coast – a cut-lunch and a camel ride away – given the transport network and roads of the day, the best of them could be prodigiously fast, Alan Tomlinson being the prime example.

As the war clouds gathered in Europe Ord raced the car in the June Dowerin winter meeting, finishing second in the open championship to Jack Nelson’s Ballot Ford V8 Spl. A fortnight later he was at Cannington for the Quarter Mile Trials where the Bug did a 17.2 second standing quarter and a flying quarter mile pass at 94.73 mph. He was second in each event again to Nelson’s Ballot which achieved 16.5/104.64 mph.

Whilst Australia was at war in 1940, Ord competed three times for a second place to Bob Lee’s Riley in the (handicap) Great Southern Speed Classic at Pingelly, and second in the Albany Tourist Trophy. Of his performances Bob King reported in his ‘Bugattis of Australasia’ that Ord “thrilled many thousands of spectators at Albany and Pingelly by the skilful and dashing manner in which he was handling the big, blue Bugatti. Ord demonstrated at Albany this year when he broke the course record that he had mastered the car.”

Ord, Patriotic Grand Prix, Applecross 1940. What was that about Motor Racing is Dangerous bit on the entry-ticket?! (P Partridge Collection)
Jack Nelson, White Mouse Ford 10 Spl from Duncan Ord, Bugatti T57, Applecross 1940 (K Devine Collection)

Let’s not forget the Patriotic Grand Prix, a four event race meeting held through the then outer suburban streets of Applecross 8km from Perth’s CBD to raise money for various charities which looked after returned serviceman and their families.

Between 20,000 and 40,000 spectators turned up, appropriately on Armistice Day, November 11, and paid a shilling to enter with a program a further sixpence. The feature event was a handicap for racing cars and won by Harley Hammond’s Marquette Spl with the big Bug setting a lap record but retiring with engine trouble. “Oddly one race was held for cars fitted with gas producers, perhaps as a sop to those who felt motor racing was wasteful during a war,” Bob King wrote.

While in his ownership Ord fitted hydraulic brakes and moved the radiator forward to lower the bodywork, perhaps improving cooling, exactly when these changes were made is unclear.

Ord was first in the January 1941 Great Southern Speed Classic 5 lap scratch race at Pingelly before laying the car up for the balance of the war years. This carnival was literally the last race meeting in Australia until the conflict ended.

Victory shot at Pingelly in 1940. Duncan Ord, third at left, Bob Lee (Riley Brooklands) the winner in the middle and second placed Bill Smallwood (MG TA) at right (K Devine Collection)
Duncan Ord – with goggles around his neck in the middle of the group of three – lines the T57T for a standing-quarter competition behind the very neat MG TA Spl of Norm Kestrel, at Nicholson Road, Forrestdale in 1946 (MG Specials – Aust – Pre-War and T Type Collection)

The Bunbury Flying 50 in November 1946 was Duncan’s first competitive post-war run, perhaps the big beast was unhappy about being disturbed after such a long slumber as it failed to finish. In January 1947 the WA Speed Championships were run on the RAAF Airfield at Caversham – a venue close to Perth which remained the home of motor racing in WA until the late-sixties – when Wanneroo Park was built. Ord was second in the 50 Mile Handicap,

He returned twelve months later and shared the car with prospective purchaser, South Australian Durrie Turner, who had placed a deposit on it pending a race in it. Fuel feed problems prevented Turner taking the start in his event with Ord then winning a 6 mile scratch. In the Airforce Trophy 25 lapper, Turner broke the lap record, but pitted with an overheating engine. Ord took over but on the following lap left the road, travelling through the boonies at great speed, before coming to rest too badly damaged to continue. The corner was subsequently known as ‘Bugatti Corner’!, to add to Ord’s woes Turner didn’t proceed the purchase.

AD ‘Durrie’ Turner is flagged away in the 25 lap Air Force Trophy handicap, Caversham on 13 March, 1948 (T Walker Collection)

Six years elapsed before the car reappeared at the Great Southern Flying 50 at Narrogin in March 1954 when it was driven by MG and Morgan driver and photographer David Van Dal to eighth, and last place last in a 3 lap scratch. He didn’t race in the feature won by Sid Taylor’s TS Special so perhaps had dramas in the earlier race. I’m not sure who owned the car by this stage, it’s said David Van Dal, but Phil Hind raced the Bug to twelfth in a preliminary and a DNF in the June 1954 Goomalling Classic.

In October Hind contested the Byford Hillclimb on the south-eastern Perth fringe but was unplaced. In this period Van Dal raced the BRM Morgan. It’s said at some time that Phil Hind bought the car, and in an effort to keep it competitive modified the chassis by shortening it 2 feet 6 inches between the rear kick-up and the cockpit. In addition, the original body was discarded and replaced by a contemporary style slender monoposto racing version, coil-springs were fitted at the front.

The T57 returned to Byford hill in October 1956 this time raced by R Annear to equal fourth place, or was it V Smith racing the car?

(K Devine Collection)
T57T, Busselton in ‘monoposto’ form 1957, David Van Dal up (B King Collection)

By 1957 the Bugatti was back in David Van Dal’s hands, running in the Busselton Derby at the towns airstrip in January 1957, prior to the ’57 Australian Grand Prix held at Caversham in March. He was fourth in a 5 lap racing car scratch but failed to finish the Busselton Derby.

In a full field of the best cars of the day at Caversham for the AGP – Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, Stan Jones Maserati 250F, Len Lukey’s and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Bristols, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T41 Climax and many others – the monoposto Bugatti was an also-ran but that was hardly the point, Van Dal was out there competing.

He shared the drive on an excruciatingly hot Perth summers day with John Cummins, a Sydney racer/mechanic/raconteur and fellow Bugatti driver, Cummins usually raced a Bugatti T37A Holden. The pair didn’t finish the race won in somewhat controversial circumstances by Davison who shared his car with fellow Melbourne driver/Holden Dealer Bill Patterson, whereas burly, rough and tough Stan Jones raced solo, and in the minds of some, won in disputes over lap counts. It was not the first time this occurred at elite level, nor the last!

Again, the ownership of the car isn’t clear throughout this period with Don Hall racing it in the state championships at Caversham in September, he was unplaced in the 7 lap scratch. David Van Dal raced a Morgan at the state championship meeting. Is it the case that David owned it from 1954 with others also having a race during this continuing period of ownership?

The Type 57T again in monoposto form, circa 1956 (K Devine Collection)
(K Devine Collection)

In 1958 Van Dal sold it to Jim Krajancich, a Perth motor engineer. He had spotted 57264 advertised for £600 in Australian Motor Sport and offered Van Dal £400 payable in instalments. Van Dal had already been offered £400 by Melbourne-based Bugatti Type 51 owner Peter Menere, but since this would cost him a good deal more in transport he accepted Jim’s offer.

Krajancich then entered the car in the WA State Championships at Caversham in September 1958. He was sixth in both the first and second heats and DNF the third heat, a 10 lap race. N Rossiter won all three events in the TS Special with John Cummins second in the BRM Morgan raced previously by Van Dal.

The old beast’s final race before a very long hibernation was the Christmas Cup meeting at Caversham on November 22, 1958. In an ignominious end to such a long period of racing in Europe and Australia Jim was unplaced in the 5 lap scratch and the 15 lap Chrismas Cup, no doubt the machine needed a major ‘pull through’!

Jim decided to rebuild it in Maserati 300S style, but time passed and upon marriage in 1962, Bugatti T57T 57264 was mothballed as he bought it.


Bonhams picks up the story “Restoration work to original 1935 form finally commenced in 1973 and the work continued until 2010, Krajancich completing almost all the work himself. This included re-lengthening the chassis using works T57 drawings and painstakingly re-making the body and road equipment from archive photos. The brakes were re-converted to mechanical operation, the original radiator was acquired from Van Dal while the car’s original starter motor, dynamo and radiator shutters were reacquired from Ord. The radiator shell came via Wolf Zeuner and had come from Australia, it is in fact believed to be the car’s original. Original Type 57 rear springs came from Barry Swann in Malaysia, replacement original cylinder block and crankshaft were also sourced from Malaysia (the cars originals included with sale of the car), the spring hangers came from Zeuner, while the rear torque arm is old stock Molsheim spares.

“Original pedal pads were obtained from Henry Posner, and when Gavin Sandford-Morgan re-bodied the sister 57627 he sold numerous original parts to Krajancich including the fuel tank, cast aluminium dashboard brackets and bonnet catches. The Repesseau adjustable friction shock absorbers now fitted at the rear were the fronts when the car arrived in Australia in 1938, the vendor having fitted original de Ram dampers on the front (sold to Krajancich by Bob King who obtained the ‘very heavy!’ units ex-Lex Davison’s Alfa Romeo P3 from Diana Davison) as fitted for the 1935 TT.”


The only replica mechanical parts used in 57264’s rebuild are the rear-brake back plates, the brake cross shafts and the dashboard instruments while original parts being sold with the car but not used in the rebuild include gearbox internals, crankshaft, cylinder block, steering wheel, steering drag link, oil pump, Stromberg carburettor – two SUs are mounted presently on the original manifold – while in addition there is a spare radiator ex-Sandford-Morgan.”

Bugatti authority Pierre Yves Laugier has personally inspected the car, “From this we can confirm correct number stampings identify the engine crankcase, gearbox, chassis, front and back axles as being original to this car.”



‘Bugattis in Australasia’ Bob King, MotorSport Images, Bonhams sale description/car history, Terry Walker Collection, Jim Krajancich Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Peter Partridge Collection


(K Devine Collection)

Fantastic sharp shot of Duncan Ord at Pingelly in 1940.


Huge crowd awaits the start of the Patriotic Grand Prix at Applecross in 1940. Clem Dwyer’s very successful Plymouth Special in front of Duncan’s T57T.

(J Krajancich Collection)

No address or date for this shot but it’s still in Duncan Ord’s ownership, given the presence of #9, but looking decidedly tatty.

(J Krajancich Collection)

Applecross ladies in their finery dodging the noisy, smelly racing cars…


One look at this magnificent Bugatti after it had been tampered with – I’ve got no issue with racers trying to remain competitive mind you – made me think of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls…

57264 very late in its competitive life at Caversham in ‘comfy monoposto or tight bi-posto’ form. Ken Devine tells me the driver is Don Hall, the meeting is the 1957 WA Championship. “The car in this form was also driven by Peter Nichol of motorcycle scramble fame.”


(T Emery)

Peter Macrow, clad in fireproof woollen brown jumper, on his way to victory in the Riverina Gold Cup aboard his Brian Shead built Cheetah Mk3 Ford at Hume Weir on September 3, 1967.

It was his third Riverina Gold Cup on-the-trot! He won from a 17 car field varying in performance from future prominent Clubman and Tourer competitor Tom Naughton’s MG TC and equally capable single-seater driver/engineers Ivan Tighe, Lynx and Peter Larner, Lotus.

Shead first competed in his road-going Austin A40 in 1960, progressing to his own Cooper influenced Cheetah Mk1 in 1962. Brian regularly diced with Peter who was then racing the ex-Garrie Cooper, Cooper Austin. The evolved Cheetah Mk2 followed and all new spaceframe Mk3 in 1963.

Macrow was so impressed by the Mk3 he convinced Shead to sell it and help with its development. Brian picks up the story, “I succumbed to pressure from Macrow and sold him the car less engine, and assisted in installation of a pushrod Ford 1100cc engine. I retired from racing and helped with the running of the car and its preparation. Peter raced it extensively with considerable success in Victoria and New South Wales.”

“We continually upgraded the specifications of the car until it was running 7″ and 9″ wide wheels with disc brakes all around and fitment of a Lotus twin-cam engine. The Macrow/Cheetah combination became most successful at Hume Weir and Winton.”

Shead returned to racing when he built his first production cars, the Mk4, which was also raced successfully by Macrow, more on that here;

(S Dalton Collection)
(S Dalton Collection)


Tim and Mick Emery


The first Pingelly Speed Classic was held on a 2.5-mile round-the-houses course in the West Australian town 160km south-east of Perth on January 30, 1939.

The five event programme consisted of the handicap Great Southern Speed Classic, run concurrently with a scratch race, two five lap handicaps – one each for racing and sports cars – and a four lap handicap and relay race for stock (standard production) cars.

(K Devine Collection)

The Clem Dwyer Plymouth Special and Duncan Ord Bugatti T57T take the chequered flag during the inaugural Great Southern Speed Classic on a fabulous Wellington Street panorama.

The very successful Plymouth, powered by a side-valve straight-six was based on a damaged sedan which was heavily lightened and modified, whereas Ord’s blue-blood 3.3-litre straight-eight twin-cam Bugatti (chassis 57264, originally 57222) was an ex-Lord Howe machine. It was the race debut of the Plymouth and first Australian event for the Bugatti which had arrived from France not long before.

Alan Tomlinson MG TA Spl S/c won from Bill Smallman, MG TA with Roy Sojan third in his Chrysler Special ‘Silverwings’. Duncan Ord was fourth.

(K Devine Collection)

The round-the-houses racing tradition – unique to Western Australia and the envy of the other states – commenced when the good-burghers of Albany decided on a Back To Albany Festival in 1936. With that, three entrepreneurs of the West Australian Sporting Car Club – Eric Armstrong, Clem Dyer and J Warburton – motored down from Perth and successfully pitched the notion of a Monaco style street race around their fair city to the Council.

The race became the highlight of the festival and spawned similar races at Applecross, Bunbury, Dowerin, Narrogin – at which the 1951 Australian Grand Prix was held – Pingelly and others until the gruesome 1955 Le Mans disaster frightened local councils and led to a clampdown on racing on public roads. Not that they eliminated it completely, the WASCC had a tremendous relationship with the WA cops and ran events in a variety of places right into the 1960s.

(K Devine Collection)
(P Narducci Collection)

Two shots of Bill Smallwood’s MG TA Spl during the 1939 race. Smallwood and Clem Dwyer had been Tomlinson’s pit-crew in a staggering win for the young West Australian in the Australian Grand Prix held on the daunting Lobethal road circuit three weeks before.

Sadly, Pingelly was his last victory, Tomlinson, shown below there in 1939, was badly injured at Lobethal in 1940 and never raced again. See here;

(T Walker Collection)
(E Rigg Collection)

Clem Dyer aboard the Bartlett Special in 1939. He bought this machine, built around an 1100cc twin-cam Salmson engine on a trip to the UK. Modified with Brooklands in mind, it was fitted with a Cozette supercharger and was said to be good for 120mph.

Raced at Lake Perkolilli, he gave Ossie Cranston’s Ford V8 Spl a run for his money in 1936, but the car never achieved the success hoped, the demands of the Brooklands bowl and round-the-houses West Australian tracks being quite different.

Unattributed and unknown, perhaps Jack Nelson, Ballot Ford V8 Spl

(W Duffy Collection)

Bob Lee won the five-lap handicap aboard this Riley Brooklands in 1939, and went one better as shown here in 1940, when he won the Great Southern Flying Fifty – the race had been increased from 5 to 10 laps, 25 to 50 miles.

(K Devine Collection)

During the 1940 race. “Park Street Hospital Hill with the old nurses home in the background behind the chook-yard” quipped Jennie Narducci. It’s Harley Hammond in the Marquette Special from Barry Ranford’s Ranford Special. In a long successful career through until 1958, the latter built four specials.

The 1940 programme comprised five events; a 10 lap Tourist Trophy for under 1500cc stock machines, a 5 lap handicap for racing cars, 4 lapper for stock cars plus the 15 lap classic.


Harry Squires MG PB Spl S/c – looks more like a T-Type to me?


The intersection of Park and Parade Streets with Jack Nelson’s Ballot Ford V8 Spl in shot, 1940.

The bones of this car – #15 – were those of the ex-Jules Goux, Cooper brothers Ballot 2LS which met its death at Phillip Island in 1935. Les Cramp had just acquired the car and was killed. This machine raced on well into the 1950s – with no Ballot left – before Mick Geneve died at its wheel, by then Chev powered, at Caversham in 1959. A tribute car exists.

This local footbridge lasted into the 1960s, while one of the local ‘cockies tells us there are two Gilchrist sheep feeders “built by the dozen on a site between the present police station and Shire Office.” Love the power of FB! (K Devine Collection)

Harley Hammond again aboard the Marquette Special. The serving RAAF man did well in this immediate pre-war period with this attractive Buick 3.5-litre sidevalve six-cylinder powered special; Marquette was a shortlived Buick sub-brand.

He won the Great Southern Speed Classic in 1941 – the last race meeting in Australia before the lights went out – and the Patriotic Grand Prix held on the Applecross round-the-houses course 10km from the Perth CBD, several months before.

In fact the November 11, 1940 Applecross races were to have been the final event but the Pingelly organisers slipped in one final meeting on the Australia Day weekend, January 27 with funds raised from the five event programme for cars and ‘bikes in aid of the British Air Raid Relief Fund.


Ken Devine Collection, Peter Narducci Collection, Eddy Ring Collection, Warren Duffy Collection, ‘Around The Houses’ Terry Walker



(R Lewis Collection)

What an incredibly talented photographer Robin Lewis is!

Thanks to social media his archive is accessible. If you are a Facebooker just key in Robin Lewis and have a look for yourself. A serial motor cycle racer/historian/fan the Hahndorf based professional has an immense body of work from his days in Melbourne as a freelancer, staff-snapper with the Herald & Weekly Times and ten-year reign as Head of Visual & Graphic Arts with ad-agency USP Needham.

Rather than choke on his work, I figure bite-sized consumption is better, the texture and flavours can be appreciated so much better that way. It isn’t all racing either, there are some marvellous observations of Australian life too.

The first shot shows Robin in the passenger seat of David ‘Chocolates’ Robertson’s Elfin 300 at Sandown during filming of an episode of ‘Homicide’ a very popular prime-time weekly cop show produced at Crawford Productions, based in the Olderfleet Building in Collins Street, Melbourne from the mid-1960s.

“We used mostly an Arriflex ‘S’, all 16mm…we played a very fast game, there was none of this three-take bullshit. Two takes at most and it’s in the can! We shot an episode a week with only one up the sleeve.”

David Lee, Homicide director sussing Robin’s shot (R Lewis Collection)

“Having shot nearly a years worth of Homicide there was never a dull moment. Dave Robertson is driving his Elfin, but the eye-opener was being in the other ‘camera-car’ Ted Brewster’s 1310cc Cooper S, it was the first time I’d experienced ‘hitting a brick wall’ under brakes!”Robin’s self-deprecating comment is wearing two different cravats on the one Sandown day.

“Having shot nearly a year’s worth of Homicide there was never a dull moment, long hours, hard work, non-stop! Particularly going to the Tok H (Toorak Hotel) or any pub with George (Mallaby, the young actor who played Detective Peter Barnes obscured by the camera in mission-brown) who was a pussy-magnet. Len Teale (‘Detective David Mackay’ raced Toyota Corollas in the early 1970s) was less colourful in many ways.”

(R Lewis)

Got him in one, the money shot! Classic Allan Moffat cockpit shot captures the ‘Canadian’ young professional in intense concentration in the Calder form-up area in 1970.

Marvin the Marvel was famous for his ‘don’t f’kin talk to me’ mode at race meetings. Most of his competition were businessmen at play on weekends, AM was one of the few true full-time driving professionals in Australia at the time and he needed the cash-register to ring on the weekends to fund his Malvern Road, Toorak operation. Works Ford drives duly noted.

Here is the BP magazine ad derived from Robin’s in-car shot above (R Lewis Collection)
(R Lewis)

Superb, eyes riveted on the Tin Shed apex. For a generation of Australian race fans this KarKraft Trans-Am defines the era. Full stop. For more of Moffat’s career and Mustang, click here;

Lewis said of this work for BP, “it was my introduction to ad-agencies while working at the newspaper, I never had to do shift work again…”

(R Lewis)
The tribal nature of taxi fans (shot above) is something we open-wheeler wally-woofdas can only dream of; Beechey and Geoghegan circa 1970 (R Lewis)
(R Lewis)
Yes it is a different number, noted (R Lewis)

(R Lewis)

In the best of company here. Robin as cinematographer for legendary Australian/Hollywood film director Fred Schepisi, then in his formative days directing a documentary for Kodak. See here;

(R Lewis)

The whole country went crazy – especially the huge local Italian community – when Giacomo Agostini turned up to race a works MV Agusta 500/3 for the first time in Australia in 1971.

Melbourne entrepreneur/racer Bob Jane brought him out to put bums on seats at Calder for the Melbourne GP Cup and secured the Australian distribution rights for the marque in the process. ‘Jano’ is looking uncharacteristically grumpy at Calder below.

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Alf Costanzo frying the front brakes of Alan Hamilton’s Lola T430 Chev F5000 car on the entry to Peters/Torana at Sandown in 1980.

One of our greatest ever, the little Italo/Australian won the Gold Star with this car in 1979, then with the succeeding McLaren M26 Chev in 1980 and two more with Hamilton/Porsche Cars Australia Tiga Formula Pacific cars in 1982-83.

(R Lewis)

When Costanzo graduated to Hamilton’s McLaren M26 Chev ground-effect F5000 Melbourne’s Bob Minogue bought the Lola and took to the old beast like a duck to water.

The shot above has the feel of Calder’s November 8, 1981 AGP support race in which Minogue was fourth behind John Wright, Lola T400 Chev, Rob Butcher, Lola T332 Chev and Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MR9 Chev. Here’s Minogue at Calder below a good few years earlier in an Elfin Mono Lotus-Ford twin-cam.

(R Lewis)

Robin’s quip, “Hey Bernie, how’s your memory?”…

(R Lewis)

XW Ford Falcon and sheep near Dunkeld in Victoria’s Western District circa 1969. The sheep dogs are sizing up the baa-baa’s with the intent of a Kiwi shepherd, where, for an optimist, “there is always a pretty-one to be found…”

(R Lewis)

Having a go in his Austin Healey 100S (chassis 3907) at Rob Roy circa 1963. Doug Whiteford’s mechanic, Bob Kitchen “had drilled most things on the 100S and lightened and balanced the rockers, rods and crank, polishing all to a shiny finish like chrome.” Chassis number folks?

And below, getting stuck into the slops after a Templestowe meeting in a manner most unacceptable to officialdom these days. Such wowdy-wascal behaviour would result in some sort of “bringing the sport into disrepute” charge from the blue-blazer mob.

(R Lewis)
Robin in the 100S at Fishermans Bend circa 1963 “with Herbert Johnson helmet, a gift from my mentor, Doug Whiteford.”
(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Talk about livin’ the dream…

Austin Healey 100S roadie, road and race bikes, surrounded by spunk-muffins in adland with all of the associated fringe benefits…and being paid to photograph chicks without too much on. I’m trying to work out the problems of being Robin Lewis in that particular era! At Narrapumelap Homestead, Wickliffe, Victoria 1980.

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis Collection)

This one of Doug Whiteford in Black Bess has me tossed as to place.

Dicer Doug won the 1950 Australian Grand Prix in the Ford V8 Ute based special in 1950 and later sold it. Not one of Robin’s, but probably given to him by Doug, he dates it as 1955. Where and when in Melbourne is this? It’s an unmistakable Mexican winter’s foggy day; Albert Park and Richmond Boulevard are both possibilities? The vapours from the exhaust suggest a freshly started engine, so some sort of promo-shoot perhaps?

See here;

(R Lewis)

A very youthful Ken Blake being interviewed by ‘Freddy Mercury’ at Bathurst, circa 1975. More on this great Australian rider in Lewis 2.

(R Lewis)

Big Dick.

The Dick Johnson Ford Falcon XD 351 V8 during the Sandown 400 Endurance Championship round during the wonderful Group C period of taxi-diversity, September 13, 1981.

The Ford frontrunner – successor to Allan Moffat – was always a crowd-pleaser but yielded to Holden’s favourite son that weekend, Peter Brock won the 119 lap race in a VC Commodore from Johnson.

Johnson and John French triumphed at the Mountain three weeks later, Dick also won the Australian Touring Car Championship that year in this car built from the TV-crowd-funding contributions of race-fans when Johnson’s previous Falcon XD was felled while in the lead of the Bathurst 1000 by an errant-on circuit-rock in 1980.

(R Lewis)

A couple of wonderful portraits of touring car icons of the earlier golden-era.

The Brylcreem era in the case of Mini Ace Peter ‘Skinny’ Manton, here having his characteristic fag, circa 1969, and five times Australian Touring Car Champion ‘Pete’ Geoghegan below. See here; and here;

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Ivan Tighe, perhaps, Tighe Vincent s/c at Templestowe circa 1959. Not so sure about that…Peter Holinger maybe, all bids taken…

(R Lewis)

I love this moody portrait of London born American Suzuki TR750 star Ron Grant who is lost in setup change thoughts at Calder in 1972. He won the Pan Pacific Series that year.

(R Lewis)

Old Holdens never die. Robin found this 48-215 Ute renovators-delight at Pear Tree Cottage, Dunkeld. Gone to god by now perhaps…See here;

(R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Not much moves the corpuscles of an Oz FoMoCo fan more than the two fabulous Lot 6 built, works-Super Falcon GTHO 351s.

Robin’s shot captures Moffat’s Improved Production car with XY look – FFS don’t write to me and bore me shitless with the differences of the XW and XY clips on these cars – barrelling onto Calder’s back straight during the March 1971 ATCC meeting.

Rare shot, great shot. See here for more on these cars of Al Pal and Pete;

(R Lewis)

Jack Brabham presenting the Tasman Cup to Kiwi great Graham McRae at Sandown after he took the first of three such wins on the trot -1971-73 – that year aboard a McLaren M10B Chev. See here;

(R Lewis)

The inherent beauty of Australian (Melbourne) 1970s streetscapes.

(R Lewis)

Mind the post. The perils of Bathurst in 1974, this is Gringo apparently. Who is he and what is he riding? Magic shot.

(R Lewis)

A couple of world class touring car drivers hard at it at Calder circa 1978.

Jim Richards has the inside line aboard his Murray Bunn built, 351 injected Gurney-Weslake headed powered Ford Falcon Coupe Sports Sedan (Australia’s anything-goes tourers) from Peter Brock in Bob Jane’s 350 Chev engined Holden Monaro GTS. The Munro is still with us, is that Kiwi built Ford?

Hmmm, clipping an apex, nah, more creating an apex. I wonder if Bobby invoiced them for damage inflicted on the real estate!? (R Lewis)
(R Lewis)

Jimmy Watsons in Lygon Street, Carlton is a Melbourne wine bar-noshery institution.

An age old ritual is being played out here in the late 1960s, with the old bugger – younger than me I might add – thinking of conquests past as he assesses the beauty of the twenty-somethings.


Robin Lewis


(R Lewis)

Robin fizzes up a cardiologist’s-nightmare roadside enroute to Bathurst in 1974. These days of course the glitterati would get Maccas delivered to their Valiant on the Hume via Uber-eats app.

Many, many thanks for your work Robin, if one of you has his email or mobile number please send him a link to this homage to his greatness and a life being lived well!



The definitive article(s) on Stan Jones are still to be written. I like this piece on the great Australian’s early pre-Maserati 250F phase which helps plug some of the early gaps of timing and circumstances, forwarded on by my racer/historian/author buddy Tony Johns.

It’s from the June 1954 issue of CARS magazine, a 70 year-old long deceased title published in Melbourne by Larry Cleland Pty Ltd and edited by Bruce Kneale. It comes to us from the Darren Overend Collection via Tony – grazia. As Tony points out, the author of the article was not disclosed, a bumma given its quality.

Click on the links at the end of the piece for more on Stan…



As per text


Ad published in The Referee, Sydney on March 22, 1933

I’ve always had a soft-spot for Wolseleys, Nana and Pa Bisset had three of them from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. Some of my earliest motoring memories are of sitting in the back seat with the wonderful smell of leather in the last of these cars (no idea what model) with Nana at the wheel behind a lovely wood dash, she had the period granny blue-rinse of course, and all topped off by a hat.

Jim Gullan’s Wolseley Hornet Special was a car of much greater performance. Gullan had built up a good reputation racing a 1.1-litre Grand Prix Salmson and was offered the six-cylinder SOHC Hornet Special which is the subject of this piece at a good price to help promote the marque in Australia. “It had been specially built by the MG Racing Department and competed in a team event at Brooklands, lapping at over 100mph.” Gullan wrote in his autobiography.

The FS Hutchens and BH Wickens Hornet Spl Daytonas, and at right EJ Erith’s Hornet International

Stanley Hutchens entered the winning team of cars in the The Light Car Relay Race held at Brooklands on July 16, 1932. Hutchens was Sales Manager of London Wolseley dealer Eustace Watkins Ltd. The cars comprised two new ‘Eustace Watkins Daytonas’ built on Hornet Special chassis – one of which was the Gullan car – and one 1931 ‘EW International’ built on a standard Hornet chassis. Hutchens, Bertram Wickens and Edward Erith won the 90 lap handicap event from 29 other three-car teams on at an average of 77.57mph, the quickest team member averaged 82mph.

MotorSport noted that “No one could catch the EW Hornet Special and at 5pm Erith crossed the line after a trouble free run. These cars, intended as fast and comfortable road vehicles, showed a turn of speed and stamina which even their keenest supporters hardly expected, and entitles them to rank amongst our most successful small cars.”

Hutchens told MotorSport after the race that “the car felt good for an unlimited number of laps. The engine was held at a steady 5200rpm, doing several laps at 86mph.”

When the Hornet was launched by Wolseley in April 1930 Eustace Watkins turned to Kings Road, Chelsea coachbuilder Whittingham & Mitchel for the first of many Wolseley Hornet EW Daytona Specials. This first handsome cycle-wing car – the photo was published in The Autocar in April 1931 – “became a visual template adopted by many other coachbuilders when bodying both Hornets and chassis from other marques.” (

Although its image in later BMC (British Motor Corporation) years became difficult to differentiate from others within the empire, in the early 1930s Wolseley was up-there in the ranks of sportscars. The Nuffield group of companies – Wolseley, Riley, Morris and MG – produced a great array of sportscars and while there was some standardisation of engines and other components, each car was distinctive in appearance and character and was built in a different factory with all of the cultural differences that implies.

The Hornet, based on a lengthened Morris Minor chassis, was released in April 1930 and was built in two and four-seat open and closed body configurations. The Hornet Special – sold only in chassis form and priced at 175 pounds from April 1932 – was initially fitted with the ‘short’ 1271cc (57x83mm bore/stroke) version of the Wolseley SOHC, two-valve straight-six. Fitted with twin-SU carbs and an oil cooler it was good for about 45bhp and a top speed of 75mph, depending on coachwork. With 12-inch hydraulic drum brakes, a remote shift-four speed ‘box, semi-elliptic springs and Luvax hydraulic shocks (some were fitted with Andre Hartford friction dampers) all-round, and of light weight overall, the Hornet Special was spritely for its day.

Wolseley Hornet Special as built and sold in its original – pre-crossflow engine and underslung chassis – form. This is the chassis spec of the car Jim Gullan raced while noting the engine differences (Wolseley)

For 1934 the Hornet Special chassis was strengthened and changed to an underslung axle arrangement at the rear. A new block was fitted and a crossflow cylinder head adopted, the 1378cc engine developed 47bhp. In addition, synchromesh was fitted on 3rd/4th gears.

In 1935 the ‘New Fourteen’ 1604cc (61.6x90mm bore/stroke) 50bhp @ 4500rpm engine was fitted to maintain performance as coachwork became porkier. Sadly, the model was dropped when Wolseley passed from the personal control of Lord Nuffield to Morris Motors Ltd late in 1935, ending the era of sporting Wolseleys.

Referee Sydney, December 12, 1935. NSW rego #30-183
“Specially built Wolseley engine. Three carburettors, extra exhaust pipe from centre of cylinder head” (Gullan)
Gullan and Wolseley at Rob Roy in 1937. Under 1500cc record. Victorian rego #228-334 (Gullan)

Jim Gullan outlined the specifications of his machine, car and chassis number unknown, but engine number 108A/127. “It was fitted with a Laystall crankshaft, high-compression Bartlett pistons and engine modifications included optional two or three SU carburettor inlet manifolds. There were two cast iron exhaust manifolds leading into separate exhaust pipes on the left hand side of the engine. On the right hand side a single exhaust pipe came out of the centre of the cylinder head, this to obviate head gasket failure through overheating of the cylinder head in the centre.”

Driven by Sydney racer, Noel Spark – who had competed in a standard Hornet in preceding years – in 1934-35. “It set class records of 18.5 seconds and 102mph for the standing and flying quarter mile and the combination won the Light Car Club’s coveted Castrol Trophy for success in a series of different competitive events in 1935.”

The car was then despatched to the Victorian Wolseley agents, Kellow Falkiner’s showrooms in St Kilda Road, Melbourne for display. “Looking out of place amongst the Rolls Royce and Wolseley sedans, it was disposed of to my advantage,” Gullan quipped. See this post for some background on this under-rated Australian racer;

Equipped with “an incredibly smooth” four-main-bearing six-cylinder engine, P80 Lucas headlights, Lockheed hydraulic brakes, an oil radiator and selective Free-Wheel, it was very much an upmarket car which cost nearly half as much again as an equivalent MG.”

“With the car came a type-written folder which gave the top speed of the car as 102mph at 6200rpm, with an allowable limit of 6500rpm through the gears. Different individual valve clearances were given for each valve and included were optional carburettor needles. There was a warning not to exceed 2000rpm until the oil pressure had dropped from 150 to 100psi, when starting from cold. This abnormally high oil pressure foretelling future lubrication troubles.”

After early plug and carburettor maladies were solved Gullan contested an event on Mitcham hill, placing second behind Lyster Jackson’s MG K3. This performance led to an invitation to contest the Boxing Day 1936 South Australian Centenary Grand Prix on a new rectangular course of roads between Victor Harbor and Port Elliott on Adelaide’s Fleurieu Peninsula. Aged 21, he was one of the youngest to contest an event appropriated as an Australian Grand Prix.

Awaiting the off, Gullan and Mick O’Neill, Wolseley Hornet Spl, Australian GP, Victor Harbor, December 1936. Tim Joshua’s MG alongside (Gullan)

The car was prepared by split-pinning “various nuts and bolts that had been disregarded in England”, removing the ‘Brooklands’ aluminium undertray, fitting an auxiliary fuel tank, “wheels were balanced with lead wire around the spokes. My motorcycle crash helmet was exchanged for two white polo-type helmets with peaks, their adequacy in an accident may have been doubtful, but at least they looked the part.”

Gullan provides valuable period context, “In 1936 the average person didn’t own a car, let alone have a garage to put it in. Most who owned cars were wealthy or used them for business purposes. The only member of the team who had a car was Tom Broadhurst who used it in his family business. He offered his new Ford V8 as transport to Victor Harbor and I could then drive the Wolseley back to Melbourne. There was no continuous road between Melbourne and Adelaide then. The route through Mount Gambier was three days, the alternative through Bordertown impractical.”

“With equipment and enthusiasm the team set off for Victor, the road to the South Australian border was good, but it deteriorated and finally disappeared after leaving Millicent and became a series of tracks across the salt lakes, all heading in the same direction. By the time we reached Meningie we had not seen another car, finally we reached Lake Alexandria and crossed by ferry to continue on to Victor Harbor.”

The Wolseley was entered for both the 250 mile GP and 50 mile Olympic Handicap in the three day carnival. Gullan deemed “the track a safe one, most of the accidents which occurred were due to misjudging stopping distances and ending up among the sandbags, most being able to stop and continue on.”

On the way to fourth place in the 50 Mile Olympic Handicap at Nangawooka Hairpin, Victor 1936 (Gullan)

Accompanied by Mick O’Neill as mechanic, car #30 started 38 minutes from scratch and held station behind the winning Les Murphy MG P-Type until being consistently out cornered by it, and he drove away. After 147 miles the boy’s race was over after leaving the road on sand deposited by a spinner on the track, then hitting a small, hidden tree-stump while returning onto the track. The front axle and track rod were bent, with their race over, the offending parts were sent to Adelaide for repair, then re-installed before the Olympic Handicap. There the car was fourth behind the Barney Dentry Riley Brooklands, Lord Waleran in John Snow’s MG K3 and Les Burrows’ Terraplane Spl.

Over the following two years Gullan had good results in the car at Phillip Island, Rob Roy hillclimb and elsewhere, even using it in a Treasure Hunt. This became a full-blown rally starting from Brighton Beach and then went around the suburbs. After a Morris landed in a golf course, a Salmson became airborne and an MG ran into a lightpole it was the end of Treasure Hunts!

Phillip Island Trophy race in 1937, Wolseley here ahead of Alf Barrett’s Morris Bullnose Spl (Gullan)

“If I’d been asked if the Wolseley was reliable by the standards of the day I’d have said yes. But looking back (in 1993) cars were anything but reliable with blown head-gaskets and failed crankshaft bearings the main problems.”

“On two occasions the Wolseley lost power when the head gasket failed between the two centre cylinders caused by exhaust gases passing from one side of the overheated cylinder head to the other, and the reason for the extra exhaust pipe.”

“Gaskets then were made of two sheets of copper with a layer of asbestos in between. In time the thickness of the asbestos was reduced with beneficial results. Soaking the gasket in water showed little confidence in the product, and it was necessary to examine the gasket before fitment to ensure any overlapping edges were correctly aligned. Supercharged cars were fitted with solid copper or steel gaskets, the supercharger pressure would just blow the asbestos out off a normal gasket,” vastly experienced racer/engineer Gullan wrote. “It was one reason why early Bugatti, Bentley, Maserati and Salmson engines were fitted with non-detachable heads.”

“The other major problem pre-war involved crankshaft bearings. Before steel-backed shells, white metal was cast into the connecting rods and crankshaft bearing caps then machined to size. Although white metal bearings had excellent wear properties, the load carrying capacity of the soft metal was poor. To compensate, a number of shims were placed between the the parting faces of the bearings. As the running clearance increased, shims were removed to bring back the clearance to minimum size, one reason engines were required to be run-in.”

“It was not unusual, with a run-bearing, when stranded out on the road, to remove the connecting rod and piston, together with the spark plug lead, as there were stories of sumps being blown off by a firing spark plug.”

“For any high-speed work everyone used castor oil or Castrol R, it may have been a way to stop run-bearings, but the gummy sludge it created caused a lot of other problems. When high viscosity mineral oils came into vogue, they were really welcomed.”

The Ballot 5/8 LC #1004 in suburban Melbourne (Gullan)

The Wolseley’s fate was determined when Jim Gullan walked into Alan Male’s Latrobe Street, Melbourne car showroom and fell-in-lust with the 1919 ex-Louis Wagner/Alan and Hal Cooper/Fred Bray Indy Ballot 5/8 LC, a fast, complex 4.8-litre twin-cam, four-valve straight-eight racer. “An enormous trade-in price on the Wolseley sealed the deal.”

Melbourne solicitor Adrian Akhurst was the next owner, he fitted a circa 2.5-litre Durant engine and ran it in the Victorian Light Car Club Reliability Trial. It then faded from view in the war years to reappear at a 1947 Rob Roy meeting driven by Bill Whitchurch. Fitted with a Willys-Jeep 2195cc engine, he competed body-less while building up a new body. Peter Thomas, of later Aviation Welding fame, was involved in the engine installation, the car was then registered GV410.

Sold to Eltham’s Richard Ham in 1948, then to Walter Nowell who offered it for sale from Hawthorn and Windsor addresses in 1953-54. In the final advertisement the car was dismantled, what was unsold was scrapped. And that rather special engine? One Gordon Opie advertised it for sale, “perfect, complete to flywheel” from a Gardenvale address in April 1948, its whereabouts unknown.

A sad end for this Wolseley Hornet Special. About 31686 Hornets were built, 2300 of which were Hornet Special chassis, of those about 100 came to Australia.



1932 Wolseley Hornet Spl clad in Eustace Watkins Daytona coachwork. EW were the London Wolseley dealers in the 1930s and contributed hugely to the growth of the brand with their special bodies, the majority of which were sportscars.

The bodies weren’t made by Eustace Watkins but rather contracted from coach builders Whittingham & Mitchel and Abbey Coachworks in Merton, later Acton. Other Hornet body builders included Swallow, Jensen, Maltby, Holbrook & Trinity and Hardy.

The chassis number of the Gullan car is a mystery to me, doubtless one of you Hornet perves will know it. On identification numbers, Graham Whitaker wrote, “For cars before 1934 models – those with inlet and exhaust on the nearside, Wolseley did not stamp the number on the chassis. It was on the axles but usually cannot be read. The numbers were on brass plates fastened to the bulkhead, thus easy to fake. From 1934 onward the same brass plates were used, plus the chassis number was on the nearside of the chassis, as well as the axles.”

Check out this wonderful article about the history of Wolseley, the origins of which are the Wolseley Sheep-Shearing Company established by Frederick Wolseley in Sydney in 1887;


(P Partridge Collection)

Some photographs of the Wolseley Hornet Special owned by the Cato family in Perth, the local Wolseley dealers.

The car was owned by Frank Cato and driven by his son Fred and was raced on the Round the Houses tracks laid out on the public roads of country towns, and at Lake Perkolilli. Note the enthusiasm of the co-pilot below!

(P Partridge Collection)

(P Partridge Collection)

Frank Cato prepared this ageing Wolseley for the 1931 Lake Perkolilli event but had a troublesome weekend with front axle failure.


‘As Long as It Has Wheels’ Jim Gullan, Graham Whitaker on the, MotorSport August 1932, MotorSport Images, LAT, ‘Wolseley Hornet Specials in Australia and New Zealand’ by Russell, Santin and Clucas via Cummins Family Collection – many thanks Paul Cummins, Peter Partridge Collection

(MotorSport Images)


Bubbles or beer? Beer I think, ah, they are proper chaps! Hutchens, Erith and Wickens celebrate their Brooklands first placing. Car is a 1931 Wolseley Hornet fitted with Watkins Eustace International body.


Sydney enthusiast/photographer/journalist Peter Bakalor posted these evocative photographs of the 1970 and 1971 Australian Grands Prix on social media in recent days. He covered the meetings for Autosport magazine.

Frank Matich won the November 22, 1970 event in his newish McLaren M10B Repco-Holden F5000 machine from Niel Allen’s similar Chev engined McLaren, and Graeme Lawrence’s 1969-70 Tasman Cup winning Ferrari Dino 246T 2.4-litre V6. The first shot is, I suspect, FM getting the jump on Lawrence at the start, the other car in shot that of Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev.

The two Alec Mildren Yellow cars are #6, Max Stewart’s tenth place Mildren Waggott TC-4V and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Chev- DNF. You can see KB beside his car – with Glenn Abbey alongside – and Leo Geoghegan with the Castrol patch on his overalls. #2 is Allen’s M10B Chev with Niel getting last minute instructions from Peter Molloy at right, they were second. 1970 Gold Star champion, Geoghegan’s immaculate white Lotus is next, he was fourth. Up the back is Ian Fergusson’s green Bowin P3A Ford twin-cam 1.6, 11th.

(P Bakalor)

Frank Matich before the off. It was the first big-win for the Repco-Holden F5000 program based on the then new locally built General Motors Holden 308 V8. Derek Kneller is looking hopefully at the engine!, with ace mechanic, handy-steerer and Adams F5000 constructor Graeme ‘Lugsy’ Adams with his arms crossed. In the distance is Len Goodwin’s Pat Burke Racing McLaren M4A Ford FVC, this ex-Piers Courage/Niel Allen car is about to pitch Warwick Brown to prominence. The shot below is post-win with The Australian motoring editor, Mike Kable in the blue jacket behind.

(P Bakalor)
(P Bakalor)

Lynton Hemer identifies this shot as the start of the Series Production event with Colin Bond, #54 Holden Torana GTR XU-1, then Bob Forbes and Don Holland in similar cars, John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Holden Monaro GTS 350 and Leo Geoghegan’s Valiant Pacer.

(P Bakalor)

In the Improved Touring race Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911S gets the jump from Brian Foley’s similar car, Allan Moffat’s Ford Mustang Trans-Am, with Pete Geoghegan’s white Mustang also just in sight.

Twelve months later, the AGP was again held at the Farm, with the star attraction John Surtees appearance (below) at the wheel of one of his own cars, a Surtees TS8 Chev F5000 car that Mike Hailwood would race in the 1972 Tasman Cup.

(P Bakalor)

The TS8 was Surtees 1971 F5000 design based heavily on the 1970 TS7 F1 car. Eight were built, with the monocoque chassis, wheels, suspension and brakes all using TS7 jigs/patterns. Mike Hailwood did the best of the drivers with his car(s) in Europe, only persistent engine problems perhaps getting in the way of the European title won instead by Frank Gardner’s Lolas: T192 and T300. For more details on the cars click here;

(P Bakalor)
(P Bakalor)

Matich again won the AGP, this time in a car of his own design and construction. The Matich A50 Repco-Holden was only days old when it took its debut win! Kevin Bartlett was second and Alan Hamilton third, both in ex-Allen McLaren M10B Chevs. Graeme Lawrence was fourth in a Brabham BT30 Ford FVC 1.8 and Max Stewart – who had just won the Gold star – was fifth in his Mildren Waggott TC-4V. Surtees was 14th after two pitstops for punctures in his first visit to Australia since contesting the NZ and Australian Internationals with a Lola Mk4 Climax in 1963.

(P Bakalor)

Nose jobs. Surtees TS8, Ian Cook, Devione LC2 Ford twin-cam, Alan Hamilton’s McLaren M10B Chev then the orange nose of Warwick Brown’s McLaren M4A Ford FVC, then two Elfin 600B/E Ford twin-cams: Clive Millis’ light yellow one at left and Henk Woelders’ white with blue stripe car on the right.


Peter Bakalor, Bob Williamson’s ‘Old Motor Racing Photographs – Australia’ on Facebook,


(P Bakalor)

Graham McRae telling John Smailes how it is in the Warwick Farm paddock during the 1971 Tasman, McLaren M10B Chev. He must be reporting for the ABC with a suit on!

He had a blinder of a series, winning three of the seven rounds, but not here where Frank Gardner’s works-Lola T192 Chev prevailed. It was the first of three Tasmans on the trot for the oh-so-talented Kiwi driver/engineer.

P Bakalor)

Equipe Allen in natty, matching team attire! A steamy Sydney 1971 Tasman qualifying day with safety boots well to the fore. Peter Molloy and M10B front and centre. Love the nifty Bell bag.

Niel won two of the seven Tasman rounds at Levin and Teretonga, and finished third overall behind McRae and Matich. With a little more luck in Australia he could have won, but he retired from racing instead.