Posts Tagged ‘Cooper T53 Climax’

(Fistonic)

Frank Matich’s Brabham BT7A Climax leading Jim Palmer’s Cooper T53 Climax around the 2.897 Km Mount Maunganui road circuit, New Zealand, 28 December 1963…

Mount Maunganui is a beach town at the southern end of Tauranga Harbour in The Bay of Plenty in the north of New Zealands North Island. Only two ‘Bay of Plenty Premier Road Race’ meetings using public roads around the towns wharf area were held, in 1962 and 1963. The circuit was oblong in shape, the startline was in Totara Road and ran down Hewletts Road, onto Tasman Quay and then Hull Road. The creation of the permanent Bay Park circuit in the area supplanted the road course which was created by Joseph and Graham Pierce and Feo Stanton. To create the track they had to tar-seal a section over a railway line and then remove it after the weekends racing to allow the trains to operate the following morning!

Race winner Jim Palmer, Cooper T53 Climax, Mt Maunganui 1963 (Fistonic)

The 1963 event was won by Jim Palmer from John Youl’s Cooper T55 Climax and Tony Shelly’s Lotus 18/21 Climax. Both of the Australian’s John Youl and Frank Matich used the meeting as a ‘warm-up’ for the 1964 Tasman series which started at Levin, the following weekend, on 4 January 1964.

Grid positions for the 15 lap final were determined by the results of two heats; Matich comfortably led his until encountering timing problems with his Coventry Climax engine, Palmer took the win with John Youl victorious in the other heat.

In the championship race, Palmer started well and lead Shelly, Matich- off the back of the grid, quickly passing the smaller engined cars and Youl but Shelly soon led, and Matich grabbed 3rd as Youl spun. Matich set a lap record of 1:10.4 as he moved the very latest ‘Intercontinental’ Brabham BT7A into 2nd behind Shelly. He took the lead on the next lap whilst Youl closed on Palmer. Shelly was passed by Palmer with 3 laps to go with Matich left out on the circuit with an inoperative throttle, and John Youl also passing Shelly. Palmer won from Youl, Shelly then Rex Flowers Lotus 20B Ford, Roly Levis’ Lotus 22 Ford and Neil Whittaker’s Cooper T43 Climax.

John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax (Fistonic)

In fact the race was very much a portent of the Tasman Series (won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 Climax) with all four of Matich, Palmer, Shelly and Youl being competitive with Matich having a swag of mechanical problems only finishing one of the 5 rounds he started, at Longford, in 3rd place.

In the NZ Tasman races Palmer, Shelly and Youl all contested they drove extremely well, almost as a group in their outdated cars- Cooper T53, Lotus 18/21 and Cooper T55 behind the leading bunch of Australasian Internationals- Brabham, Hulme, McLaren and American Tim Mayer.

Youl was 4th in the first 3 NZ rounds and then travelled back to Australia before Teretonga to prepare for the first Australian round at Sandown where he finished 3rd. His beautifully prepared 1961 (ex-F1 and then Brabham’s car for the Australasian Internationals in 1962) Cooper T55 with its innovative Geoff Smedley designed and built twin-plug Coventry Climax FPF head had done 5 meetings with routine maintenance but no rebuild. His 3rd at the AGP was followed by a DNF at Warwick Farm with crown wheel and pinion problems. He then had a great 2nd at Lakeside and was 5th at Longford, his home race in a strong finish to the series.

In fact Youl was very much the ‘form driver’ of this group having finished 2nd and then taking 2 wins in the final three rounds of the Australian Gold Star series in the later months of 1963, at Sandown, Mallala and Warwick Farm. Noteworthy is that these performances were against Lex Davison, Bib Stillwell and David McKay all of whom were aboard much more modern equipment than Youl. He was second in the Gold Star to Stillwell’s Brabham BT4 Climax in 1963 as he was in 1962.

Palmer, later multiple NZ Gold Star winner and ex-F1 driver Shelly had virtually identical results in the four NZ Tasman races, and finished all of them which is admirable at a time the 2.5 FPF’s were notoriously brittle being pushed to the limits as they were.

Without doubt Frank Matich had the pace of the Internationals in the ’64 Tasman but he had no chance of success without better preparation/luck/greater mechanical sympathy- Geoff Smedley joined him not so long after Youl’s unfortunate retirement from the sport at the end of 1964. Grazier Youl was one very fine driver who deserved a ‘factory’ drive such was his pace in the ex-Brabham Cooper T55 to fully realise his potential. I don’t know enough about the man to place him in the pantheon of Australian single-seater pilots but for sure he was very handy behind the wheel…

Matich chasing Colin Ngan, Cooper Bobtail in the sportscar race won by FM- love these industrial background shots (Fistonic)

Matich in his Lotus 19B Climax…

Frank Matich above blasting his very highly developed Lotus around the Mounts working wharves, such a distinctive background!

Frank’s Lotus was far and away the quickest sportscar that weekend, he won the race from the Lotus 15 Climax of Barry Porter and the Lola Climax driven by J Riley. The Matich 19B was destroyed at Lakeside in 1965, hospitalising the Sydneysider in the process. Out of those ashes was born the Elfin 400 Olds or Traco Olds as FM called it, and Matich SR3 and SR4 programs, all great cars.

In the same way that the Lotus 18, Chapman’s first mid-engined design (F1/FJ) redefined the sophistication of the path the Coopers had blazed so well, so too did the 19 amongst sportscar grids. The car used much of the 18 hardware albeit adapted to comply with sportscar rules- FIA Group C. Chapman detailed the car with Len Terry also playing a role in its design.

The cars spaceframe chassis was made of 1 inch and ¾ inch steel tube of 16 and 18 guage, there was a scuttle hoop of perforated sheet steel to provide further cross-sectional bracing. The first car, chassis ‘950’, was initially fitted with an aluminium body with subsequent cars using bodies made of fibreglass. The front and rear body sections were hinged for ease of access with two horizontal doors for driver and passenger! access and egress. Wheels were Lotus 15 inch ‘wobbly-webs’, disc brakes were 10.5 inch and 9.5 inches in diameter front / rear.

Dimensions; 141 inch long, 65” wide, a height of 31/32 “, the wheelbase was 7’ 6”, front track 49” and rear track 47.5 “. The cars weight was quoted at 1232-1250 pounds less driver but with 8 gallons of fuel. Said girth was dependent upon the engine fitted, over time this included the FPF’s around which the car was designed and also various American small-block V8’s. Similarly, whilst the Lotus sequential, 5 speed ‘Queerbox’ was specified the cars were also fitted with Colotti and Hewland gearboxes ‘in period’.

Lotus 19 Climax cutaway, technical specifications as per text (Thatcher)

When completed chassis ‘#950’ was tested by both Moss and Chapman, Moss had been racing Cooper Monaco’s amongst the swag of cars he competed in at the time, his opinion of the 19 relative to the Monaco, a design several years older would be interesting. Its said that the 19 was the first car Stirling drove after recovery from his 1960 Spa Lotus 18 accident.

Only 16 or 17 of the cars were built, the limiting factor for build numbers was the supply of Coventry Climax FPF engines which were of course the engine de jour for the British F1 ‘garagistes’ at the time.

The seminal research over the last decade or so on the fate of the various Lotus 19 chassis was carried out by enthusiasts/experts/journalists/engineers/drivers on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ (TNF). What follows is based upon the contents of that highly interactive forum, with the ability of so many knowledgeable people to test evidence, the summary of ownership and changes in specification over time. The contributions of Ray Bell and Bryan Miller are specifically acknowledged.

Frank Matich raced two Lotus 19’s; the ex-UDT Laystall 19 chassis ‘950’ raced by Stirling Moss which was destroyed in a testing accident at Warwick Farm in 1963 and a replacement 19B which was delivered by Lotus Components sans chassis number. It was also destroyed, again in a testing, or more specifically an accident during a practice/qualifying session at Lakeside on 24 July 1965.

I have written tangentially about these cars in an article about FM’s rivalry with Bib Stillwell’s Cooper Monaco and other articles on Frank Matich, and very specifically about the 19B, Matich’s accident in it at Lakeside and its role in relation to the design/conception of Garrie Coopers Elfin 400, the first delivered of which was raced by Matich. I don’t propose to cover that all again, click on the links at this articles conclusion to read what I’ve already been written.

The first Matich Lotus 19 Climax, chassis  ‘950’ shot at Homestead Corner Warwick Farm in 1962, compare the photo with the similar one of the 19B at the same corner below (Ellacott)

Caveat Emptor…

When Frank Matich was looking for a replacement for his oh-so-successful Lotus 15 Climax it was immediately obvious to him that the car to have was a 19 given the success of Moss, Ireland, Gurney and others in the cars on both sides of the Atlantic.

His ex-Leaton Motors mechanic Bruce Richardson, working in the UK for Reg Parnell Racing at the time, contacted UDT Laystall in England on FM’s behalf to determine if they were interested in selling one of their 3 19’s. Frank knew Moss having met him on the great Brits previous trips to Australia. Shortly after Richardson’s contact Matich ‘…discussed with Stirling buying the (UDT Laystall) car (#950) Stirling was racing in the USA…who advised Frank, who wished to have the car shipped directly from the States to Australia that the car was pretty tired and it would be best for the car to return to the UK for a full rebuild and then be sent out from the UK. The car duly arrived in late 1961 and Frank was not happy with the state of preparation and he called Stirling to intervene’ Bryan Miller wrote.

Matich had been shafted by UDT Laystall, far from the first time we poor Colonials had been short-sheeted by less than honest operators who relied upon 12000 miles of Ocean to get away with sins of omission or commission! Moss, not involved in the commercial aspects of the deal at all, righted the wrongs with a financial adjustment in favour of the Sydneysider. The story goes something like this.

Rather than rebuild the car the UDT folks used the opportunity to bolt some of the shit bits they had lying around the workshop they didn’t want from their three cars to good ‘ole ‘950’ and shove it on a ship at Southhampton for Sydney!

Matich ordered the car with the Colotti box fitted to ‘950’, they sent him a ‘Queerbox’, very much not the better alternative although Matich said later to Bell ‘they weren’t a bad box as long as you set them up well’. Frank specified a regular windscreen, they sent a high one, ‘The crankshaft was obviously carrying a very old crack, it was very unlikely that it hadn’t been previously detected’ according to Frank, Ray Bell wrote. ‘There was a lot of that sort of thing about the car, so its clear Moss went into bat for Frank’. Moss drove the car whilst in Australia for the International series of races that summer (he raced Rob Walker owned Cooper T53 Climax and Lotus 21 Climax in NZ and Australia in January/February 1962) and was able to see for himself the state of the car as delivered from the UK. ‘Onya Stirling!

Having overcome those obstacles the 19 very rapidly became the fastest sportscar in the country, indeed, one of the fastest cars in the Australia- his dices with Bib Stillwell’s older but very well prepared, sorted and driven Cooper Monaco wonderful spectator drawcards across the continent.

Lotus 19 Climax ‘950’ in the Lakeside paddock probably during the International meeting in early 1963. Coventry Cliamx FPF engine and Lotus ‘Queerbox’ clear as is copious ducting for brake cooling (Mellor)

#950’s demise occurred during a test session at Warwick Farm…

Matich’s backyard was Warwick Farm from the time the circuit opened  at the wonderful Liverpool horseracing facility. He did all of his serious testing there, it was close to his various bases on Sydney’s North Shore, and he was always developing his cars with tweaks major and minor. This process of continuous development of bits for all of his cars, factory built or otherwise, was sustained right to the end of his career in early 1974. By then he was building world-beating Formula 5000 cars, indeed no-one did more miles around the Western Sydney outskirts circuit than FM.

In 1963 he raced the Lotus and works Elfins- a Clubman, Formula Junior and an ANF 1.5 variant of the FJ with which he contested the AGP, at, you guessed it, Warwick Farm. He was 8th in the race won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT4 Climax. On one of these test days Bell records that ‘The very reason for its (950’s) demise…was the fitting of new uprights (from Lotus)…Matich had come in from testing saying it felt funny and asked Bruce (Richardson, by then back from the UK and FM’s chief mechanic) to go out and drive the 19 while he followed him in the Elfin openwheeler. The upright broke and he went into the fence’. The fence was the very solid and unyielding WF Pit Straight fence which comprised 2 inch thick planks of wood bolted to railway sleepers. The chassis was rooted, it was too badly damaged to be repaired so a replacement was ordered from Lotus Components.

‘The original 19 chassis (950) went to Ray Hopwood, a friend of Franks. I think it was he who buried it under his house after deciding he wasn’t able to use it, which had been his intention’ wrote Bell.

Bell then speculates about the commercial arrangements between Lotus and Matich about the new 19 frame given the demise of ‘950’ was as a result of the failure of a new Lotus upright which was too thin. What is clear, whether Chapman gave him a special price or otherwise is that wealthy Sydney businessman Laurie O’Neill paid for the chassis either in whole or in part. Bruce Richardson confirms the chassis was acquired from Lotus, and therefore is not one of the unaccounted for Lotus 19 chassis- there are about four of these chassis on the TNF list. For sure some components from ‘950’, all possible, would have been retained to bolt to the new frame which Miller reports ‘Frank did not think his car (19B) ever carried a chassis plate, he held no memory of ever seeing one on the car but at that time it was of no importance’.

In late 1963 Matich imported a brand new Brabham BT7A to contest the annual Australasian International Series (from 1964 The Tasman Championship) and local Gold Star, Australian Drivers Championship events.

Almost immediately he became the quickest local openwheeler driver- and one who gave nothing away to the visiting Internationals either. Given the weakness of the Lotus sequential ‘box, Bell ‘…Frank regarded the crownwheel and pinion as marginal…referring to easy starts to protect it…and he often lost the start to Stillwell in their 19 to Monaco clashes…’ Matich fitted the 19B with a Hewland HD5 ‘box given the experience others had of it in cars like it in the BT7A and being well aware of the shortcomings of the Queerbox. By then he had both the support of O’Neill and Total so had an adequate budget to do things properly. The cars chassis was adapted to suit the ‘box at the rear. During the short period the 19B raced it was evolved, beside the BT7A, with various Brabham bits. There appears to be no definitive list of the modifications but brakes, wheels, some suspension parts and other Brabham ‘bits and pieces’ are cited as modifications from standard Lotus 19 spec. Equally there is no neat list of bits which were transferred from the first Matich 19 ‘950’ to the 19B, albeit the ex-Moss chassis was definitely buried under a house, this fact attested by several sources including Richardson, Bell and Miller- none of whom have a vested interest in the opinion they proffer.

Not the Australian Tourist Trophy but the 19B late in its life in early 1965 after a change of Total livery, from light blue to white, here, again at Homestead Corner, Warwick Farm (Ellacott)

Australian Tourist Trophy 1965…

Frank Matich was a professional racing driver, the family Weeties were provided by race and related commercial success, to win the 1965 ATT was therefore important to him. He won the race the year before at Longford in the 19B but for 1965 the field had greater depth.

Ken Miles was coming from the US to race a factory Shelby AC Cobra, Frank Gardner was returning home to race Alec Mildren’s Mildren Maserati, a Birdcage Maserati engine fitted to a chassis built by Bob Britton- a Lotus 19 clone!, the Lotus 23 lookalike built on Britton’s Lotus 19 jig. There were also some pesky Lotus/Ford Twin-Cam engined Lotus 23’s which were quick enough to win should the big guys run into trouble. In fact the latter is what occurred, Pete Geoghegan won the race in a Lotus 23 after the retirement of others.

Matich took the 19B to the Gold Star round at Lakeside in July, his primary focus that weekend was racing his Brabham. Spencer Martin won the Gold Star round in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A. But the Lotus shared the Matich transporter with the Brabham on the journey north to fettle the car in preparation for the ATT in November. It was during practice that FM lost the car in the fast right hander behind the pits at over 120mph when the throttle jammed, destroying the car and hospitalising him with burns to his hands and back. Damage to the car was to its front, especially the left front. Various sources suggest (not Bell or Miller) that the car may have been damaged further after the accident for insurance purposes.

The accident was the catalyst for Total to end the relationship with Matich. Boral Ltd acquired Total’s business in Australia and they did not want to be involved in motor-racing. The remains of the 19B, owned by O’Neill remember, were then used as a point of dimensional reference during the build of the Elfin 400 Traco Olsmobile at Elfin’s Conmurra Road, Edwardstown, South Australia factory in late 1965. The 19B donated its gearbox and some other minor components to the Elfin build. Even though the remains of the 19B were seen by various people at Elfins over the years the remains of the chassis have never seen the light of day and were probably, at some clearout, disposed of. The future value of these cars was not foreseen then of course!

Despite all of the foregoing, that is, the total destruction of both cars as racing entities, the ex-Moss/Matich Lotus 19 #950 races on, reconstructed around a replacement chassis built in the 1980’s. So far, surprisingly, the 19B has not been rebuilt/reconstructed/resurrected despite Peter Brennan noticing, whilst looking at a Lotus 18 very recently and concluding that the pedals in his Elfin 400 are probably from the 19B…go for it PB, cars worth $750K have commenced reconstruction with far less of the original car than that!…

Bibliography…

‘The Nostalgia Forum’ Lotus 19 thread particularly the contributions of Michael Oliver, Ray Bell and Bryan Miller, Graham Vercoe, sergent.com, Bob Homewood, Glenn Ducey

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic and Peter Mellor- The Roaring Season, John Ellacott, Bob Thatcher

Lovely frontal shot of Frank Matich, Lotus 19B Climax, this car probably the most highly developed of its type in the world-V8 variants excepted. Car developed by FM and his team in Sydney, building upon his first 19 which was written off  in a Warwick Farm testing accident. Plenty of Brabham bits inclusive of wheels fitted to this car (Fistonic)

Finito…

 

amon 1963 agp cooper

(David Mist)

Chris Amon, 19 years of age, awaits the start of the 1963 Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Cooper T53 Climax…

Amon didn’t finish in his ‘Scuderia Veloce’ entered Cooper, the cars fuel pump failed after 24 laps. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT4 Climax, Amon’s team-leader and ‘SV’ owner David McKay finished 4th in another Brabham BT4 Climax.

I wrote an article about McKay a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

These were the early days of a very successful collaboration between Amon and McKay which resulted in the pair winning the 1969 Tasman Series in the fabulous Ferrari Dino 246T. Chris was the first of many drivers the racer/writer/team owner nurtured over the years.

In Amon’s case it was at a stage of his life when McKay was about to vacate the driving seat and evolve into a new stage of his career as owner/entrant of cars driven by others. Amon, then racing a Maserati 250F in NZ tested McKay’s Cooper T51 at Warwick Farm in August 1962 and contested Australian Gold Star rounds later in the season at Mallala and Sandown, non-starting in both but taking a strong 3rd place at Warwick Farm in the Hordern Trophy behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl in October.

This was all valuable experience before the NZ and Australian Internationals with McKay entering the Kiwi in a later model T53 Cooper.

He was 7th from grid 6 in the NZ GP at the brand new Pukekohe circuit on 5 January, and had DNF’s with ignition and gearbox dramas at Levin, Wigram and Teretonga. He qualified 4th, 6th and 7th. In Australia he had slightly more luck.

He contested the AGP at Warwick Farm, for grid 5 and DNF fuel pump. At the Lakeside International he was 4th from grid 6, his best result. In Tasmania, at the South Pacific Championship at Longford he was 7th from grid 8 and at the Sandown International, the Australian Grand Prix, he finished 6th from grid 12 in the last meeting of his tour on 10 March.

It was a critical period in Amon’s progression as a driver. Chris raced his ex-Owen Racing Organisation Maserati 250F in the first of the Kiwi Internationals at Renwick in November 1962. He then graduated to McKay’s Cooper and so impressed Reg Parnell (who ran Lola Mk4A’s for John Surtees and Tony Maggs in Australasia) that summer in a car that was not the latest bit of kit, and 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered rather than the 2.7 variant used by much of the opposition, that he was off to Europe for the rest of 1963. 7th place in the British and French Grands Prix were his best results in the Parnell Racing Lola Mk4A Climax V8 that season.

His climb went all the way to the top echelon of Grand Prix Racing of course, championship Grand Prix win or not, he was undisputably a ‘Top 5 In The World’ pilot in several seasons during the 1967-72 period…

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Chris Amon, Cooper T53 Climax Lakeside 1963. 4th in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4A Climax (Bruce Thomas)

Cooper T53 Climax ‘F2-8-60’…

The car was built by the CT ‘Tommy’ Atkins team for Bruce McLaren to drive but using the identity of one of the 1960 works F1 cars. (Jacks 1960 chassis)

The chassis was either built late in 1960 for McLaren to race in 1961 UK Intercontinental races or at the end of the season for his use in the 1962 New Zealand and Australian Internationals, depending upon the account you reference.

It was then sold to David McKay for the 1962 Australian Gold Star Series, raced by Amon in the ’63 Kiwi/Australian Internationals and then passed into the hands of a succession of Kiwi owners; Bill Thomason in 1963, Feo Stanton and Ian Rorison 1964 or 1965 and rebuilt as the Rorstan Sports with 2.7-litre Climax engine, then to D Lupp in 1970. Ted Giles bought it in 1978, it’s still in the families ownership in 2012.

Credits…

David Mist, Powerhouse Museum, Bruce Thomas, Hammo

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com for the chassis history and race results, sergent.com

Tailpiece: Amon’s Scuderia Veloce Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 prowling the Longford paddock, he was 7th in the ‘South Pacific Championship’ race won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7…

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(Hammo)

 

 

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Mike Barney prepares Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T53 Climax’, French GP Reims, 3 July 1960…

That racing drivers shouldn’t have too much imagination is shown by this shot!

#16 is Brabham’s winning chassis, #18 McLaren’s third placed car. Olivier Gendebien was second and Henry Taylor fourth in T51’s making it a Cooper 1-4!

Yer ‘fancy-schmancy’ high tech relatively, I say it again, relatively safe 2017 carbon fibre GP machine is another world away, 55 years or so to be precise. Mind you, one would hope we would progress.

Owen Maddock’s curvy spaceframe chassis is typical of the day, the spaceframe anyway if not the imperfect in an engineering sense bent tubes! At the front the water radiator and oil tank are the ‘deformable structures’ ahead of the drivers ankles and lower legs. The fuel tanks are neatly and very practically ‘bungee’ strapped to the chassis and prone to leakage as the ‘ally tanks chafe on the steel chassis tubes. The ‘deformable side structures’ are the tanks, no bag bladders in those days so the risk of fire was great, prevalent and occasionally fatal.

The 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered T53 ‘Lowline’ was the 1960 successor to the race-winning and built in vast numbers 1958/9 T51. That car in both F2 and F1 spec has to be one of the greatest customer racing cars ever? T53 was the design work of Jack, John Cooper and Maddock.  The Lotus 18, Chapmans first mid-engined car was the quickest bolide of 1960. Moss took wins in Rob Walker’s car at Monaco and in the season ending US GP at Riverside but it was not the most reliable, something Jack was happy to capitalise upon.

McLaren won the Argentinian GP at the seasons outset, then Jack had an amazing mid-season run winning the Dutch GP on 6 June and the Portuguese GP on 14 August. In between Zandvoort and Oporto he won the Belgian, French and British GP’s thereby setting up his and Cooper’s second world titles on the trot.

Its good to look at these cars in the ‘nuddy’ every now and again to remind oneself of just how close to the elements and how brave the drivers of yore were. Yep, the piloti are no more exposed than they had been in the past but the cornering speeds of a 1960 2.5 litre Cooper or Lotus were a good deal quicker than a 1954 2.5 litre Maser 250F, the road circuits in particular just as hazardous…

Cooper T53 Climax cutaway by Brian Hatton

Credits…

GP Library, Brian Hatton

 

 

 

 

 

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Bill Patterson getting all he can from the 1000cc JAP engine in his little, lithe, light and nimble Cooper MkV. He is on his way to Australian Hillclimb Championship glory on 19 April 1954 at Collingrove, Angaston in South Australia’s Barossa Valley…

Patterson was an immensely fast driver, look closely and you can see his left hand proud of the wheel as he gently corrects the powerful little cars slide on the testing, wonderful Collingrove Hill.

I wrote a short article about this Cooper, chassis # MkV/41/51 a while ago, that article was inspired by a photo, as is this one which covers the history of the car and of Bill Patterson, an Australian champion driver. Click here for the earlier article which provides information about air-cooled Coopers generally, and the MkV specifically.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/08/cooper-mk-v-jap-penguin-hillclimb-tasmania-australia-1958/

patta brands

(500race.org)

The car was bought by Melbourne’s Bill Patterson and Geelong’s Tom Hawkes in the UK and raced by them in 1951 before they brought it back to Australia…

The wealthy Victorians arrived in mid 1951 with the intention of having a racing holiday. Tom was to buy and prepare the car and Bill was to drive it. John Crouch, the Australian Cooper Distributor arranged for delivery of a newly released Cooper MkV to the duo but it was fitted with a JAP 500cc engine rather than the more reliable Norton ‘double knocker’ which was simply unobtainable. The car was specced with long range tanks with longer races in Australia in mind.

The 500 Club 500race.org has this to say about Patto’s performances in it ‘Patterson travelled to England in 1951 and bought a Cooper MkV JAP which he raced in England and Europe. Given the competitiveness of the British scene, and the dominance of the Manx Norton engine, Patterson achieved some creditable results including a 2nd in the Commander Yorke Trophy in August…In September he took a trip to Grenzlandring, Germany, 3rd to the Ecurie Richmond cars of Brown and Brandon…he managed a 2nd and 4th in heats at Brands but failed in the final.’

He arrived razor-sharp back in Australia after the intense competition of F3 in the UK and Europe first racing in Australia at Parramatta Park, Sydney in January 1952. Stan Jones then bought the Cooper in a deal in which Tom Hawkes acquired Stan’s Allard J2. But Patterson shared the racing with Stan before eventually buying the car in 1954.

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Bill Patterson’s Cooper MkV chasing the big ex-Bill Wilcox Phil Harrison Metallurgique/Dodge Special at Port Wakefield, South Australia’s opening meeting, in January 1953. Classic battle of big and small/old and modern technology, the chassis of the Metallurgique/Dodge dating back to the 1920’s. Harrison won the race, the car based on a chassis found in a wreckers yard with a body built by Bob Baker in Melbourne. Patto retired with a broken throttle cable on lap 4 (State Library of SA)

A JAP 998cc engine was fitted, the car  first raced in this form at Rob Roy Hillclimb in outer Melbourne on 28 February 1954, Patto won the 1954 AHCC in it as detailed earlier, as well as the 1955 South Australian Hillclimb Championship, also at Collingrove.

The little car contested the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefield with Patterson at the wheel with a JAP 500 fitted, he retired. In fact the mates Jones (Maybach), Hawkes (Cooper T23 Bristol) and Patterson all retired from the AGP, won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol, Jack having made his F1 Championship GP debut in that car at Aintree several months before.

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Stan Jones, Collingrove, Cooper MkV, Easter 1955  (State Library of SA)

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Stan Jones, Cooper MkV in the Collingrove paddock, probably Easter Monday 1955. He set a new outright record of 38.02 seconds during this meeting (State Library of SA)

The car passed into Ken Wylie’s hands who raced it with both Norton 500 and JAP 1000 engines before crossing Bass Straight to Jock Walkem in Tasmania, he fitted a JAP 1000. The car came back to the mainland, Victorian John Hartnett raced it with both JAP 500 and 1000cc lumps. It then went back to Tassie, raced by both Dave Powell senior and junior powered by JAP 500, 1000 and 1100 motors as well as a BSA 500 engine. The car was then sold to Peter Dobson and passed to Brian ‘Brique’ Reed who restored it in the 1970’s. After many years of ownership it was bought by Peter Harburg.

patto race

#12 D Harvey MG TC s/c from #8 Bill Patterson or is it Stan Jones? Cooper MkV, #11 D Tillett MG TC, Port Wakefield, Easter 1955 perhaps (State Library of SA)

Bill Patterson…

Patterson, was born on 30 August 1923 into a family of considerable wealth. He was the son of Wimbledon tennis champ Gerald Patterson and a nephew of famous Australian opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.

Gerald Patterson was the Wimbledon singles champion in 1919 and 1922. He represented Australia in the Davis Cup from 1919-1928 and in 1927 won the first Australian singles title at Kooyong until the modern era, the home of Australian tennis. Patterson fought in the Great War and was decorated for his bravery, being awarded the Military Cross as a member of the Royal Field Artillery at Messines in 1917.

By the time his tennis career was over he had embarked on a very successful business career initially with sporting goods manufacturer AG Spalding Bros, by 1935 he was its CEO and went on to become a director of some other well known companies of the time.

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France’s Suzanne Lenglen and Gerald Patterson, mixed doubles champions at Wimbledon in 1920 (Bob Thomas)

Bill was born into a life of privilege, initially growing up at 15 Barry Street in Kew, the scene of many society parties and events including tennis matches on the home’s grass court. The family soon moved to nearby Toorak, Melbourne’s suburb of the ‘great and the good’.

He attended Scotch College in nearby Hawthorn, leaving in 1934 to attend Geelong Grammar, his sporting intent and prowess apparent as a member of the school’s rowing First VIII in 1938. Born into such circumstances is a double-edged sword of course, being the son of an elite sportsman-and businessman is seldom an easy thing given the expectations foisted upon the child.

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Bill Patterson is his stripped MG TC, approaching The Spillway, at the 16th Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 May 1948 (George Thomas)

I am intrigued to know what Bill did when he initially left school, he first came to motor racing prominence driving one of the first MG TC’s delivered to Melbourne post-war. His first event appears to be the 11th Rob Roy Hillclimb on 24 November 1946. This car was soon replaced by a second TC which was stripped and tuned.

He contested the 1948 Australian Grand Prix at Point Cook in outer Melbourne in this TC, which was fettled by Reg Nutt. The race is famous for the intense heat of the meeting which forced many of the top runners to retire from the impacts of the heat on either their mount or themselves. By lap 13 Patterson led the race, aided by a pretty good handicap. The car retired from the race, boiled dry on lap 24. The event was won by Frank Pratt’s BMW 328, which like Patterson, was aided and abetted by a good handicap.

Soon after the AGP Patterson and later Australian Grand Prix three times winner Doug Whiteford built a stripped, lightweight, two seater TC Special which had a curvaceous aluminium body made by Bob Baker in Melbourne. The engine was fitted with all the trick bits of the day and was supercharged, a Marshall blower was fed by a 1 3/8 inch SU carburettor at a boost of 10psi. The car was powerful, finned drum brakes were fitted as well as adjustable shock absorbers.

This famous little car, which still exists, first appeared at Rob Roy in January 1949, it’s first race was at Fishermans Bend in March. The car was fast from the start but Patto’s nemesis in under 1500cc events was Ken Wylie’s Austin A40 Spl. The MG first won at Nuriootpa in April 1949.

Back in the Barossa Valley, Patterson contested the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in South Australia and was on hand to see his friend Whiteford win in ‘Black Bess’ Doug’s Ford V8 Ute based, amazing, special. Patto’s TC blew a head gasket on lap 6 having had a torrid dice with Stan Jones HRG in a preliminary race, Stan did not start the race.

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Patterson and his MG TC Spl at Hell Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1950. Pretty, fast, well driven car (George Reed)

At Bathurst in Easter 1950 he did a lap of  3:17 seconds, the fastest a 1500cc car had been around the demanding mountain circuit. John Medley observed in his ‘Bathurst Bible’ ‘The lightweight green car had an impressive collection of wins to its credit and was probably then Australias fastest MG…the driver was to become one of Australia’s fastest’.

Of great interest to Patterson was the appearance at Bathurst of the first two Coopers in Australia. The cars, MkIV’s, were raced by Keith Martin/Arthur Wylie and Jack Saywell. These ‘very light, 600lbs dry and with 82bhp 995cc JAP motors, all independently sprung MkIV Coopers, were, for their competitors, a taste of tomorrow’ said Medley.

Patterson had a very successful meeting with the TC at Balcombe on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in June 1950 with two wins and two seconds. Not long thereafter the car was sold to Sydney’s Curly Brydon who also did well with the car, developing it further.

For Bill Patterson though, the path was clear, he was off to the UK to race a Cooper in British 500cc F3, the toughest training ground of all at the time. Patto contested the Round Australia Trial in a Holden and a Peugeot, and other than a brief Ferrari flirtation which fell into his lap, he was pretty much a Cooper Man for the rest of his racing career.

After his 1951 season and the continuation of his career with the MkV in Australia covered above, he finally sold the little air-cooled bolide and bought his first Coventry Climax engined Cooper. This mid-fifties period coincided with the commencement of his Holden dealership, let’s spend a moment on that before picking up Patterson’s next Cooper.

The Australian economy boomed in the 1950’s buoyed by the pent up demand of wartime austerity, global demand for our products, wool, wheat and goods produced behind high tariff walls, high levels of migration from war-torn Europe and greater availability of consumer credit. The ‘great Australian dream’ of owning a home and a car were now within reach of larger numbers of people than ever before.

It was in this environment that Bill Patterson and his father (Gerald’s biographical notes make it clear he was a director of Bill Patterson Holden) chose Holden as the marque they would sell and Ringwood as the centre of their ‘Prime Market Area’ they secured from General Motors Holdens. It was an astute choice of location. No doubt Holden were well pleased to have Patterson as a dealer given his and his families profile. Fellow elite Melbourne racers Reg Hunt, Lex Davison, Stan Jones and Bib Stillwell also had, or would have Holden franchises

In 1955 (Bill Patterson Motors Ltd was incorporated on 3 October 1955) Ringwood was very much on the eastern urban fringe of Melbourne (30Km) as the city marched, for the reasons outlined above rapidly in every direction other than into Port Phillip Bay! Surrounding suburbs of Mitcham, Heathmont, Vermont and Croydon were served by better roads into Melbourne and train lines. The middle class were Holdens target market, Bill chose his location wisely. As the local populace and their incomes grew so too did Holdens range of cars, Patterson added BMW to the mix in the 1970’s, another great choice of a marque not well known in Oz, and on the rise.

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Patterson’s dealership at 55 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood in 1959. Holdens are ‘FC’ models, Cooper is the T43 Climax. It might not look so special now but the architect designed showroom was schmick at the time (Wolfgang Seivers)

Patterson’s Ringwood premises were initially modest but by 1959 he had built a state of the art dealership at 55 Maroondah Highway, just at the bottom of the downhill drop below Heatherdale Road, designed by Hassell McConnell Architects, Hassells are still one of Australia’s best architectural outfits, a global one at that. I can well remember as a kid visiting my aunt in Mitcham ‘out in the sticks’ as my father described it, and the impact of Patterson’s big site whenever we were in the area.

The point here is that Patterson, did things well and thoroughly. It helped that he had access to, probably, family working capital but he invested wisely and ran a very strong operation for decades.

In a previous life I worked as a consulting accounting/financial advisor to motor dealers for 7 years or so and worked with over 20 dealers across many franchises, not Patto I hasten to add. They are complex businesses; effectively 5 enterprises under one roof-new cars, used cars, service, parts, plus finance and insurance. Add to that the property aspects.

Lots of people think dealerships are ‘money for jam’. They are not, the space is incredibly competitive and the profit margins thin. The investment in infrastructure is significant. They need to be very well run with great, ongoing vigilance around daily detail to make good money. Patterson was one of Holden’s best dealers for decades, consistently in their Top 15 nationally and the figures were distributed monthly by GM, the peer pressure relentless and ongoing! At the top of the GMH tree, by the way, was often fellow Victorian, former champion racer Reg Hunt, his huge site on the Nepean Highway in Elsternwick well known to many Australian race fans.

Back to the racing. In 1956 Patterson imported a Cooper T39 Climax, #CS/12/56 a sportscar powered by a Coventry Climax SOHC 1500cc engine. The car first raced at the Albert Park Olympic AGP Meeting in November 1956, he managed to roll it at the end of the straight during the Australian Tourist Trophy won by Moss’ works Maserati 300S! Damage was superficial. Quickly repaired the pretty little car won its class and was 3rd outright in the Argus Trophy in the second weekend of the two part meeting.

The car was pretty much unbeatable in its class, Bill took it to Caversham for the 1957 Australian Grand Prix held in WA, Caversham is 16 kilometres from Perth. He stripped a gear in the first heat and, unable to race the car, became relief driver for Lex Davison’s ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625  winning the race with Davo in searing heat. Bill did some laps whilst Davison was treated for the effects of heat before returning to the event.

The win was in somewhat controversial lap scoring circumstances from Stan Jones, who raced solo in his Maser 250F. Patterson was 10th in the 1957 Gold Star Championship, the first year in which this for many years prestigious championship was run. Davison won the award in his Ferrari.

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Patterson in his Cooper T53 Climax, Longford 2 March 1964. The car is painted in his usual subtle but distinctive livery of white with a light blue stripe. He only completed 13 laps of the race won by Graham Hill’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax (oldracephotos.com)

Patterson raced a succession of Cooper single-seaters and was always regarded as one of the fastest local drivers…

The Cooper T39 sports was sold when Bill bought the ex-works Jack Brabham Cooper T43 Climax #F2/9/57 which Jack brought to Australia to race at Gnoo Blas, Orange in January 1958. Jack sold the car to Bib Stillwell, the first of many cars Jack sold to Bib! Bib sold the car shortly thereafter to fellow Melbourne motor trader Patterson after Stillwell repaired it; he rolled the car at its second meeting in his hands at Bathurst, Easter 1958.

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Patterson’s Cooper T43 Climax chasing Arnold Glass’ Maserati 250F through the Longford Viaduct during the first heat of the 1959 AGP carnival. Whiteford’s Maser 300S won from Glass and Patto. Stan Jones won the GP in his 250F, Glass 3rd and Patto DNS the GP itself having lost a tooth off third gear in this heat (oldracingcars.com)

Bill first raced it at Lowood, Queensland in 1958, and later in the year at Bathurst in the Australian Grand Prix, a great race won by Davison’s evergreen Ferrari 500/625. Bill qualified the 1760cc Climax engined car well, on row 4 amongst much more powerful machinery. But he was out of luck again, this time not taking the start with a blown head gasket.

He retired again at the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park in November 1958 and did not take the start of the Longford 1959 Australian Grand Prix, that race won by Stan Jones’ Maser 250F. Bill was 3rd in his heat but knocked a tooth off 3rd gear preventing a start in the GP itself. Again.

Bill put the car to one side and kept it as a spare which was occasionally raced by Doug Whiteford when he bought a T51 GP Cooper, #F2/15/59, a car supplied less engine in mid-1959. The car was built up in Patterson’s Ringwood dealership by his mechanic, Trevor Hill and made its debut at Port Wakefield in October 1959.

He was 4th in the 1959 Gold Star, using the T43 and new T51 which was fitted with a 2 litre Coventry Climax FPF DOHC engine winning 2 rounds at Port Wakefield and Phillip Island, both in the T51.

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Patterson leads Austin Miller’s Cooper T51 Climax during the 11 December 1960 ‘Lukey Trophy’ at Phillip Island, in his first T51 ‘F2-15-59’. Bill is diving into MG Corner during his winning run (AMS)

He went one better, 3rd in the 1960 Gold Star in the Cooper T51 Climax, the car at one stage won 9 times in a row, not at championship level mind you. The FPF’s capacity was increased to 2.4 litres by Doug Whiteford by the time of the October 1960 Bathurst International meeting. Despite greater consistency Patto won only the Lukey Trophy at Phillip Island in December. He took seconds at the Island in March, Bathurst in October and thirds at Fishermans Bend and Easter Bathurst.

The second place at Bathurst was behind Brabham’s current 2.5 litre T51, Patto was racing his earlier 2.4 litre engined, leaf sprung T51; the drive was talked about for years for its fighting brilliance on this most demanding of road circuits.

Into 1961 the car was fitted with a full, factory 2.5 litre FPF Patto acquired on a trip to the UK, in this spec he set lap records at all of his Gold Star races.

At Lakeside on 16 July 1961 Bill had a huge accident on this very fast circuit, rolling the car, having taken 4 seconds off the lap record earlier in the day and dicing with Stan Jones at the time of the crash. He was badly hurt, the car rooted, albeit the bits which were usable were retained as spares for the replacement, new, T51 Bill bought from Coopers. By then he was well and truly a long-standing ultra-loyal customer!

The replacement car, chassis #F2/5/57 (probably the plate of an old car attached to what was certainly a T51 of current specification) won the national title in 1961…

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A bit less BP and a bit more Cooper would have enhanced this shot! Patto and his victorious 1961 Cooper T51 Climax at Caversham in 1961, a successful weekend with a win in the WA Road Racing Championship (unattributed)

Early in the season Patto was 3rd at Longford in March, a week later going one better with a 2nd to Jack Brabham in a T53 Cooper ‘Lowline’ at Hume Weir circuit at Albury/Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian border. At the following round at the Bathurst Easter meeting Patterson took a great win from Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Arnold Glass, Alec Mildren, David McKay and Noel Hall all in Cooper T51’s. The only other finisher, Queenslander Glynn Scott was 8th in a Cooper T43!

Patterson won again at Lowood in June, winning the Queensland Centenary Road Race Championship from Mildren and Jones.

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Aren’t these Cooper T51’s the prettiest of things. The F1 champion of 1959 is such a contrast with the champion car of 1958, the Ferrari Dino 246! Here Patterson is practising his car at Caversham in August 1959, he practised carrying his usual #9 and raced as #19 (Ken Devine)

Patterson’s boys towed the new Cooper across the continent to Caversham, Western Australia, the effort rewarded with a win in the 1961 WA Road Racing Championship on August 12. The victory also gave him the ’61 Gold Star.

Another long tow to South Australia for the October Australian Grand Prix, at the Mallala airfield circuit, 60Km from Adelaide.

Bib Stillwell had imported a T53 Lowline providing Bill with strong competition. Patterson won his heat in a good start to the weekend and started the race from pole, there was a good deal of ill-feeling amongst the drivers as to time-keeping. McKay got the jump at the start-too much so according to the officials! By the end of lap 1 Patto was in the lead from McKay, Davison, Youl and Stillwell.

Patto pulled away at a rate of 1.5 seconds per lap, McKay was penalised a minute on lap 20, 5 laps later Pattersons Cooper was misfiring. Patterson stopped twice, but returned after the problem, vapour lock, was solved. McKay led Davison on the road but was effectively 3rd with his penalty.

Patto rejoined the race a lap behind, finished 4th and set fastest lap…

Davison again took a contentious AGP win, in a Cooper T51 borrowed from Stillwell, this time the controversy over an alleged jump start by McKay, the resultant penalty cost him the race. The shame though was Bill’s retirement, it was a race which was ‘his’, by that stage Patto was also very much a master of his craft, a driver of great experience, speed, and ‘tiger’. He was a man who was ‘high born’ but boy he drove with hunger!

With his two wins at Bathurst and Lowood, Patto won the Gold Star title by 36 points from Lex Davison’s Cooper T51 and Bib Stillwell’s T51 and T53.

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Patterson and his boys after winning the WA Road Racing Championship at Caversham in August 1961, Cooper T51 ‘F2-2-57’ or ‘F2-5-57′(Ken Devine)

Into 1962 he raced on but the T51’s raced by Patto and others were becoming less competitive as chassis design rapidly advanced, the Brabham BT4 probably the pick of the ‘Intercontinental’ cars at the time. 3rd was therefore a good result in the Gold Star in a season in which he raced sporadically.

He was first Australian resident in the Sandown International, the circuits opening meeting in March 1962, was 3rd in the Bathurst 100 at Easter not racing again until the Victorian Road Race Championship, at Sandown his home circuit in September where he was 3rd behind Davison and Stillwell’s later Cooper T53’s.

Patterson contested the AGP at Caversham in November, 4th a good result behind the latest equipment but the T51 was three laps behind McLaren’s winning Cooper T62, the car Bruce used to good effect in the 1963 NZ and Australian Internationals.

Patterson was 6th in the Gold Star in 1963 but only raced his ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 Climax sporadically. He bought this car from Bib Stillwell, #F1/5/61, the car probably a chassis used by Brabham and Surtees in Intercontinental events in the UK in mid 1961. Bib raced it in 1962, a win in the Mallala Gold Star round in October his best result.

Bill’s first race in the T53 was the Sandown International in March where he was a DNF with gearbox failure. He raced it again at Sandown in September, very close to home for Bill, the circuit was only 10 km from his Ringwood Holden Dealership, and retired again from the Victorian Road Racing Championships. The speed was still there though, he was 3rd in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in December.

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Patterson in the Cooper T51 Climaxes, the double rear wishbone chassis. He is in the Caversham form up area in the August 1961 WA Road racing Championship weekend, a race he won. Syd Negus Cooper Repco Holden and Plymouth Spl in the background (Ken Devine)

Patterson raced on into 1964, he was 41 and dealing with a growing business and it’s attendant pressures. There was a credit squeeze in 1961 caused by the federal governments responses to the growth of inflation at the time; it knocked the socks out of the economy and many highly geared motor traders, not least his friend Stan Jones, so perhaps that was a factor. Mind you, the Patterson family wealth meant that Bill’s access to working capital would have been greater than most.

In any event, he contested the Sandown and Longford rounds of the inaugural Tasman Series in 1964, in fact Longford was his last championship drive. For one who had raced so long, his was a relatively quiet retirement.

I well remember one drive when Bill raced/demonstrated one of his Coopers in the ‘Tribute To Fangio’ meeting at Sandown in 1978, the YouTube footage of that ‘race’ between Brabham’s Brabham BT19, his 1966 championship winning chassis and Fangio in a Benz W196 well worth a look.

Longford was the end of a long career which commenced way back in ’46 at 23 years of age.

Patterson focused on his growing business starting a long period as the sponsor or supporter of other drivers by acquiring the ex-McLaren/Mayer Cooper T70 Climax which was raced by John McDonald for a couple of seasons before its sale to Don O’Sullivan in 1967. This is the car now owned by Adam Berryman in Melbourne, it’s history chronicled not so long ago in my article about Tim Mayer.

Cooper historian Stephen Dalton observes that Bill Patterson ‘had the longest run of anyone using Cooper chassis, starting in 1951 in England/Europe through to 1966 when he was running McDonald’. Patterson’s business interests centred around his large Ringwood, outer eastern Melbourne, car and truck dealerships ‘Patterson Holden’ / ‘Patterson Cheney’ and later ‘Bill Patterson BMW’, as covered earlier in this article.

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Henk Woelders in the first of two Elfin 600 Ford F2 cars he raced with Patterson’s support. This is the first, a 600B at Calder in 1969 not too long before the ban which outlawed clever wings like this. Very much a movable aerodynamic device, the wing could be feathered on the straights to minimise unwanted drag (Bob Mills Collection)

Drivers Patterson supported included Henk Woelders who won an Australian F2 Championship in an Elfin 600E Ford and Peter Brock’s Holden and BMW Le Mans Touring Car campaigns. He also sponsored Alan Jones 1977 Rothmans F5000 Series assault in Teddy Yip’s Lola T332 Chev. Patterson was a mainstay of support for the Holden Dealer Team in its various incarnations, the performance of that team in production or production based touring car races important brand positioning for The General over the years.

Many elite drivers have also been motor traders across the globe, in Australia there are quite a few who put more back into the sport than they took out, Patto was one of those. Bob Jane, Alec Mildren, David McKay and Ron Hodgson are others who spring to mind, not the only ones mind you.

Even though his businesses had been highly profitable down the decades, in his later years his fortunes changed. He sold out of his dealerships and invested in an air transport business which serviced the islands in Bass Strait between the Victorian mainland and Tasmania. Unfortunately the business was unprofitable and sustained considerable losses.

Bill lived comfortably with his wife albeit on a different level than that to which he was accustomed, he died on 10 January 2010 at Karinya Grove aged care facility, in the well to do Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham aged 86.

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Where Does Bill Patterson Fit in The Pantheon of Australian Champion Drivers?…

‘Australian Motor Racing Annual 1964’ rated the Top 20 as Frank Matich, Bib Stilwell, John Martin and Leo Geoghegan and then in no particular order Lex Davison, Bill Patterson, Bob Jane, Ian Geoghegan, John Youl, Greg Cusack, John French, Brian Muir, Norm Beechey, Peter Manton, Brian Foley, Harry Firth, Bruce McPhee, Keith Rilstone, Jack Hunnam and Glynn Scott. Depressing is that about 70% of this lot are Taxi Drivers, that is Touring Car racers.

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Bill Patterson, Cooper T39 Climax, Fishermans Bend, Victoria probably in February 1958. Car is registered and would have made a quick road car! (Bradbury West)

Of Patterson the annual said ‘Ah Patterson. Still the most spectacularly fast of all Australians, Bill Patterson races when he feels like it and always uses all the road and part of the verge. In the past he has been renowned for some fiery displays on the grid and past it; in a competitive car  he is on his day, always the man to beat’.

Lex Davison in his Australian Motorsports magazine column wrote of Patto in relation to the 1963 Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm ‘…meanwhile our fastest driver, Bill Patterson, lacking recent activity, was rough and unpolished’.

David McKay, racer, team owner and journalist always described Bill in his columns as ‘The Hare’ to indicate his outright pace.

Patterson proved he could ‘cut it’ in his brief F3 stint in UK/Europe in 1951, in many ways it’s a pity, given his growing wealth that he didn’t acquire an outright contending car when he returned to Oz then. To have seen Patto go toe to toe in the mid-fifties in equivalent machinery to Davison, Jones, Hunt, Stillwell, Mildren, Whiteford, Gray, McKay and others would have been really something.

Whatever the considerations Patterson always got more than the best from his cars and without doubt was ‘Top 3’ in Australia for a season or three in an era, late fifties to early sixties, when there was increasing depth amongst the front rank drivers and greater equipment parity than had been the case in the decades before. And ran a very successful business whilst doing it…

Etcetera: London to Moscow tow…

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(Ken Devine)

I chucled when i saw this fine shot by Ken Devine of Bill’s Cooper T51 and its ‘Rice’ Trailer in the Caversham paddock, Western Australia in August 1961.

From Patterson’s Ringwood base to Caversham trip is about 3440 Km, from Australia’s East to West Coast, London to Moscow is only 2870Km. The road then was a shocker too, the Eyre Highway was not much more than a track in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the West Australian section was sealed in 1969 but the South Aussies didn’t do their bit until 1976.

It would have been a long, painful, difficult drive for the mechanics, the driver of course flew by Vickers Viscount or some such…

Bibliography…

Rob Saward The Nostalgia Forum, oldracephotos.com, State Library of South Australia, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, John Medley ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’, Graham Howard and Ors ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’

Special thanks to ace researcher and Cooper historian Stephen Dalton for his assistance in identifying or confirming venues, dates of race meetings and which Cooper is which! Any errors are mine.

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia, Bob Thomas, George Thomas, Ken Devine, George Reed, oldracephotos.com, Bradbury West, Wolfgang Seivers, Bob Mills Collection, Australian Motorsports magazine

Tailpiece: Patterson’s Cooper T51 6th leads Bib Stillwell T53 3rd and Angus Hyslop T53 4th into Longford Corner during the South Pacific Championship at Longford won by John Surtees T53 in 1962…

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(oldracephotos.com)

 

 

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Roger Penske fits the mould of racer, billionaire rather nicely, as a model he doesn’t look quite so comfy…

I found these ‘Zerex Special’ shots, as is so often the case lookin’ for something else. They are interesting in an historical context in the journey this ‘chassis’ took. ‘F1-16-61’ was built as a Cooper T53 GP car then converted into an ‘edgy’ central seat sportscar by Penske and his team. It then evolved into a two-seater and finally passed into Bruce McLaren’s hands as a foundation piece in his journey to ultimate CanAm domination a few years later.

So, in the McLaren pantheon, its an important car. I wrote about it early in 2015, click here to read the article; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/19/roger-penske-zerex-special/

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Cooper fans will easily pick the origins of the chassis. Both the photo date, September 1963, and the two equally sized seats reveal this to be the ‘third evolution’ of the car.

When the SCCA regulators, aided and abetted by some very cranky competitors and car owners ‘cracked the shits’ with Roger’s innovative Rule Bender they re-wrote the regs to ensure sportscars were two seaters rather than Rogers ‘seat and a bit’ approach. This is the rebuild of the car at that time to meet the new rules…

Credit…

James Drake

Tailpiece…

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(Bryan Liersch)

Bob Jane leading his champion driver, Spencer Martin onto the Hume Weir dummy grid for his first race in ‘Bob’s baby’, his Elfin 400 Repco 4.4 V8, June Queens Birthday weekend 1967…

Martin was by then the reigning national Gold Star Champion. In fact he was half way through a year in which he won his second title on the trot, and then having achieved his motor racing aims retired from the sport at elite level’.

#85 in the background is the ex-Bib Stillwell, Tony Osborne owned Cooper Monaco Olds V8 driven by Ian Cook.

Click here for an interesting article on Spencer; https://primotipo.com/?s=spencer+martin

The inspiration for this article are a number of great shots of the Hume Weir circuit near the mighty Murray River and border of New South Wales and Victoria. The circuit, closed in 1977 won’t be on the radar of international enthusiasts although Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori raced there during the Australian International races in the summer of ’61.

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Jack Brabham wins the ‘Craven A International’ in his Cooper T53 Climax in March 1961, love the ‘Fergy’ in the background, Hume Weir  (unattributed)

I knew the circuit, i just missed racing there, it was closed by 1979 when in bought my first Formula Vee, was built in a disused quarry which provided construction stone and gravel material to build the Hume Dam, particularly its retaining wall. Although a Victorian i am a Thredbo skier, a legacy of 9 years working in Sydney and for years summer and winter have driven from Melbourne along the stretch of road from Ebden to Tallangatta with Lake Hume to my left. From Khancoban where the Alpine Way starts is a phenomenal drive to Thredbo Village. This drive, in fact the whole journey from Albury through Corryong, Khancoban, Geehi and Dead Horse Gap to Thredbo is one of Australia’s great drives.

Watch the ‘coppers’ though they police it furiously, the area near Scammells Lookout, a must stop, is an area to stick to the limits in particular!

For years i have driven for miles with Hume Dam on my left and wondered about the Hume Weir project and researched it, some old shots i found are too good not to share.

So, this masterpiece comprises a piece about the building of the Hume Dam, the birth of its Hume Weir Circuit ‘love-child’, the history and some shots of the circuit and a bit about Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 the photos of which at Hume Weir inspired the article.

For my international friends, the ‘where the hell is he talking about?’ question is addressed by the map below, ‘Hume Weir Circuit’ is in red, the road to Thredbo is also there.

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1960’s aerial shot of Hume Weir circuit, dam and dam wall. At the bottom of the shot is ‘Scrub Corner’, the tightest hairpin in the country, then heading ‘up’ is the ‘Back Straight’ into the combination of corners called ‘The Loop’, then left (going down the page again) into ‘The Esses’ past the pit entry and onto the ‘Front Straight’, the start/finish line is at the start of which (Dallinger)

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Dean Street, Albury 1920’s (Dallinger)

Australia is the driest continent on the planet, as a consequence there have been some major infrastructure projects since Federation in 1901 to provide water for irrigation of crops and/or power. The Hume Dam is one, on much bigger scales are the Ord River Scheme in WA and most impressively and significantly the post-war Snowy Mountains Scheme in NSW.

Travelling the roads mentioned above gives some insights into the ‘Snowy the scale of this nation building post-war project, its one of the civil engineering wonders of the world, can only be experienced on the ground, its un-Australian not to experience it at some point in your life!

Explorers Hume and Hovell trekked through the area in 1824, Albury was first settled by Europeans in the 1840’s.

As early as 1863, it was clear that water management was needed to ease the boom and bust flows of the rivers. Lochs and weirs were advocated but when representatives of the three colonies impacted, NSW, Victoria and South Australia met in Melbourne, the talks came to nothing. Not much different to today really, when the Premiers meet. Difficulties with border customs, bridge and punt tolls, along with self interest made necessary compromises between the parties impossible.

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Albury/Bethanga Bridge construction 1920’s (Dallinger)

After Federation (when the colonies joined to form a country) in 1901 a more global view of national priorities was capable of being made and after consideration of 25 sites the present one was chosen.

The factual material which follows is a truncated version of a paper by Joe Wooding for the ‘Albury & District Historical Society’ on construction of Hume Dam.

To build a reservoir, lots of land is needed, in this case, prime river frontage. 15,582 acres in NSW  and 87,268 in Victoria. Not everyone was pleased with the compensation offered, the lawyers were happy though as the courts were ‘chockers’ with disputes for over a decade.

Construction commenced in November 1919, soon tent cities sprang up on both sides of the river. More permanent buildings were soon erected. On the Victorian side, the hamlet of Mitta Junction, became known as Ebden Weir and the site for operations.The higher ground in NSW was called Hume Weir, started from nothing. In 1920, the title Hume Weir was officially bestowed on the whole project in honour of the explorer.
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Relatively early works, 1920’s (Dallinger)

Massive amounts of infrastructure were needed. I must admit to always being amazed at what was built with the equipment available in earlier times. (noting the Pyramids scale of achievement!)
A metalled road from the main road at Wirlinga, now Old Sydney Road was built to the site. A Hume Weir rail siding was established from which vast amounts of stores, equipment and cement were conveyed to the NSW work site by a fleet of 10 solid rubber tyred Thornycroft motor lorries. In Victoria, a branch from the Wodonga to Cudgewa rail line was laid to Mitta Junction. A road bridge to link the two villages spanned the Murray just below the work site.
Two quarries were established. The one in Victoria provided earth fill and clay for the embankment and later the site for the Hume Weir circuit. Originally, 2 steam locos were used to haul trucks along the earthen bank, 8 were added later. The rail tracks were constantly re-laid as the bank grew. Two steam grab cranes were used in early excavation work at the quarry. Two ‘navvies’ were deployed, steam cranes which ran on the rail system. Much of this equipment was brought from Nagambie and Eildon. Over 500 horses were  used to haul monkey-tailed scoops and drays.
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Horses still had a role despite modern construction techniques of the day (Dallinger)

In NSW the stone quarry is on Hawksview Hill. Four steam locos and numerous trucks were brought from Burrinjuck. The rail system was extensive, rails ran to and from the quarry and the Bethanga Bridge site. Rail was also used inside the coffer dam to service the spillway foundation excavations.

Steam power was widely used, some of the machinery was extraordinary. In NSW two huge cement mixers capable of producing 900 cubic yards per day were operated. The crusher was a 30 ton Hadfield made in Sheffield, England. It was unloaded at the weir rail siding and with great difficulty, transported to the quarry by 2 large steam traction engines.
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(unattributed)

A flying fox spanned the river from east to west with a large steel cable 400m long. The cables were attached in such a way allowing coverage of almost the entire work site. 300 tons of concrete blocks were used as ballast on the mobile pylon. A trolley was attached to the cable, enabling loads of up to 10 tons to be placed almost anywhere on the work site. The Bucyrus steam shovel was capable of lifting 3½ cubic yards and the only machine on site using caterpillar tracks.
dam train

(Dallinger)

‘The process of using crushed rock rather than smooth river gravel and adding large rock individually, produces ‘cyclopean concrete’. A 750mm wide concave rubberized conveyor belt carried the concrete, which could be retrieved at any point, by concrete shutes, for placement at the work site. Belts were pressure cleaned for their return journey. The huge rocks, some weighing up to 10 tons, called ‘plums,’ were cleaned with a high pressure hose before being individually craned into the wet concrete. Some were completely buried, but many were left half exposed to ‘key in’ the next batch of concrete. Steel reinforcing was only used near the top of the spillway. The structure is about 17% rock. At its base, the wall is 32m thick and double that if you take in the dissipater wall’.

dam wall 1927

Dam wall 1927, looking at the Murray upstream (unattributed)

‘As well as road works in the villages, other amenities were provided. Residences, barracks, stores, recreation halls, a post office and police presence were established. Electricity was installed for lighting only and turned off at 11pm. A Church of England was transported in. A casualty ward, a doctor with a phone and car were provided. Dances and pictures, obviously silent, as ‘talkies’ were not seen in Albury until 1928. The school had 66 pupils in 1921. The baker, milkman, greengrocer and butcher called regularly as did the ice man. Sport attracted many of course’.

dam end 1

Dam wall work progression (unattributed)

Manual labour was harsh with a 48 hour week, later reduced to 44 hours. Picks, shovels and
bare hands were often the only method of filling drays. Returned soldiers from the Great War
were given preference for employment, followed by married men. Estimated numbers of
workmen employed varies greatly with about 1000 cited. At the peak of construction around 1927, numbers given were Victoria 355, NSW 650, Bethanga Bridge 89. With a large workforce and dangerous working conditions, accidents were a reality, with total fatalities estimated at 6-9 people.
The Weir was officially opened by the Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, on November 21 1936
 ‘by closing an electric valve control circuit which released the water through two giant needle valves…the greatest irrigation work in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the most important in the world. It cost £5,550,000 to construct, and is located nine miles from Albury’ The Albury Banner’ said.
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Dam opening ceremony in 1936 (Dallinger)

In 1957, the Power Station was completed with 2 turbines now capable of producing 58 Mw which is not large in the electricity industry. As a comparison, Albury’s peak demand for summe of 2013 was 110 Mw.

dam end
The 1960s saw a large increase in the weir’s pondage necessitating additional works on the
dam. One aspect was to open the old stone quarry and supply thousands of tons of granite to
stabilize the clay bank of the earthen wall.
dam sail
dam car
Wirlinga…

Hume Weir wasn’t the first circuit in the Albury area, Wirlinga was.

A public roads layout of 6.79K, roughly rectangular shape using Thurgoona, St Johns and Bowna Roads as well as the Riverina Highway was used. 14km  from the centre of Albury, the track was used several times before WW2. Rather than get lost in that tangent now, tempting though it is, we will come back to Wirlinga another time.

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Car #22 is Alf Barrett’s Morris Bullnose Spl. #3 Tim Joshua’s Frazer Nash TT Replica, #4 Hope Bartlett’s MG Q Type,  #6 Jack Phillips winning Ford V8 Spl, Wirlinga 1938 (Dallinger)

The 150 mile ‘Interstate Grand Prix’ (called the ‘Albury Grand Prix’ in the Sydney Morning Herald report of the 1939 race) was run on 19 March 1938. The ‘Albury and Interstate Gold Cup’ was run on 12 June 1939. Both handicap races were won by local Wangaratta boy, Jack Phillips Ford V8 Spl. The track wasn’t used post war.

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The lower pic shows Les Murphy in the O’Dea MG P Type from Colin Dunne’s similar car and George Bonser’s Terraplane Spl, help wanted in relation to the cars in the upper shot  Wirlinga 1938 (Dallinger)

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‘Sydney Morning Herald’ 13 June 1939

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Typically parched Australian summer, 1970’s. Hume Weir wall middle right and Great Dividing Range clear  (unattributed)

Hume Weir Circuit…

Hume Weir was enormously popular in the immediate area, in fact depending upon the year the locals were served by Tarrawingee, Winton outside Benalla and the ‘Weir.

When the circuit was leased from the Hume Dam authority by the Albury and District Car Club the members initially established an unsurfaced layout which was first raced on 2 November 1959. It was lengthened to 1.1 miles during the year, first used sealed for the Christmas meeting on December 12 1959.

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Cars race at one of the earlier meetings on the original dirt layout, Hume Weir 1959 (unattributed)

The financial support of Gold Star champion Len Lukey’s and his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business allowed the amenities to be improved sufficiently to hold the 1961 international event. The ‘weir only got the gig, historian Stephen Dalton records as negotiations with PIARC to use Phillip Island fell over.

The 1961 program comprised an ambitious 21 events held on the Sunday and Monday 12 and 13 March, they were mainly short races with the feature ‘Craven A International’s 20 lappers on each day.

The meeting was contested by Brabham, Salvadori, Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson, Austin Miller and Jon Leighton. It wasn’t a big field; Moss had long since left the country, as had the BRM drivers Hill, Gurney and Ron Flockhart and his Cooper.

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This shot shows the two sections of the track separated by a narrow strip of concrete, March 1961 meeting perhaps (unattributed)

Brabham.

The Internationals that summer were raced at Warwick Farm, Ballarat Airfield in Victoria and Longford and won by Moss Lotus 18 Climax, Gurney BRM P48 and Roy Salvadori’s Cooper T51 Climax respectively.

The Longford meeting was on March 5, Brabham and Salvadori travelled back to Melbourne from Tasmania, the Coopers towed up the Hume Highway, the main Melbourne/Sydney artery to contest the ‘Craven A Internatioanals’ at Hume Weir on 12 and 13 March. No doubt it gave Jack an opportunity to catch up with his family in Sydney.

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Brabham’s Cooper T53 Climax out front of its Albury digs, Gabriel Motors.  (Border Mail)

It was all fairly casual, Jack’s car was accompanied by his mechanic and a driver for the towcar, an FC Holden Station Wagon and was maintained at a local Esso servo/workshop.

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Brabham’s Cooper T53 during his victorious March 1961 weekend (unattributed)

Jack won the race on the Sunday by just 0.9 sec from Patterson the reigning Gold Star champion and Bib Stillwells Cooper T51’s in his T53.’The last 3 laps saw the leaders in the esses together and the crowd was wild with excitement as it was still anybody’s race but Jack Brabham showed championship form and held off the challenge to win’ said the Border Mails report.

hum brabs cheq

(Border Mail)

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Austin Miller’s distinctive yellow Cooper T51 Climax perhaps chasing Jon Leighton’s Cooper T45 and Roy Salvadori’s T51 during the Sunday race in which they were 4/5/6th (unattributed)

On Monday ‘Brabham streeted the field in the international cup race and set a lap record of 51.2 seconds, a time equated to 147kmh’. ‘Twas again a Cooper 1-3 JB winning from Stillwell and Jon Leighton in Cooper T51 and T45 respectively.

With that both internationals jumped on a plane for the UK, their first event the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton which Jack won in his Cooper T53, Roy was 5th in a similar car.

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Brabham T53 just in front of Patterson T51 in Sunday’s race closing stages (unattributed)

hum brabs in car

(Border Mail)

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The short nature of the circuit perhaps mitigated against its use for championship events having said that it hosted a round of the Australian F2 Championship from 1973-76 with later multiple Gold Star winner Alfredo Costanzo setting the all-time lap record in a Birrana 274 Hart 1.6 F2 car on 15 June 1975. In 1976 the circuit also held a round of the Australian Sports Car Championship, fundamentally though it is a circuit which is fondly remembered by club racers of both bikes and cars and spectators of course.

The circuit was essentially ‘killed-off’ by CAMS with ever increasing and more difficult safety requirements which the owner/promoters couldn’t afford. There was a section where the cars passed each other separated by a concrete wall which was of particular concern.

The last race meeting was held on 27 March 1977 although the track was used as part of the Alpine Rally which was run out of Bright, not too far away. Every now and again a ‘comp sec’ of a car club convinced CAMS to issue a permit for a ‘sprint event’ but essentially another circuit was lost, a real shame as the usual causes; noise in a built up area or urban encroachment which simply made the entreaties of property developers irresistible to circuit owners didn’t apply in this rural area.

hum air

(Dallinger)

The photo above nicely juxtaposes the Dam with the circuit which is clear to see above the dam wall in the middle of the picture, plenty of water about in this shot! At present it is as dry as!

Molina Monza Holden Spl.

hum monza

You get a sense of just what a magnificent natural ampitheatre the circuit was, most of but not all of the circuit could be seen from one place. This is the Molina Monza Holden Spl, the shot isn’t dated so not sure who the driver is. The car’s specifications are outlined in this article amongst other Oz cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/13/shifting-gear-design-innovation-and-the-australian-car-exhibition-national-gallery-of-victoria-by-stephen-dalton-mark-bisset/

Perkins.

hum perk

(Dick Simpson)

Larry Perkins in the ‘boonies’ at ‘Scrub Corner’ on 28 December 1969 early in his career, car is characteristically a Perkins Vee. He is looking for a marshall to help him back to terra firma.

He was in F1 in a private Ensign nee Boro in 1975. This is early days tho, his early break was to get one of Bib Stillwell’s Elfin 600FF seats in 1971 taking the ‘Driver to Europe’ series. He stayed in Oz for ’72 and raced an Elfin 600B/E Ford to win the national F2 title. He then took Garrie Cooper’s first Elfin 620FF to the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton at the end of the year, contesting the Festival with a few other Aussies and then stayed in the UK. F3 in 1973 and the rest is history…

Brock.

hum brock

Peter Brock ahead of Lynn Brown’s Cooper S, these are ‘Sports Sedans’, anything goes sedans with Brock and Brown two of the sports finest pracitioners of the art. Brocky is young and made his Holden ‘Red’ 6 cylinder engined A30 sing, his performances in it resulted in Harry Firth, fine judge of talent picking him up as a Holden Dealer Team driver. Brock took his first Bathurst win in 1972.

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Brock, Birrana 273 Ford, Hume Weir 22 April 1973 (Robert Davies)

‘Peter Perfect’ only did one fullish season in single-seaters in this ex-works Birrana 272 Ford, its the very first of Tony Alcock’s monocoque cars. A good car but it didn’t have a Hart Ford engine, and the competition was hot in 1973-5 in F2, Brocky quickly went back to Holdens. A great pity, a natural driver of great smoothness, finesse and throttle control; oh to have seen Brock in a Repco Holden engined F5000 in the 1970’s!

Hansford.

hum hans

(unattributed)

Greg Hansford blasts onto the main straight 1977. Kawasaki KR750 water-cooled 2 stroke.

Beechey.

hun beech

(Bowdens)

Beechey changed from Holden to Ford running this ex-works Series Production Ford Falcon GTHO Ph3 with some cash from Ford in 1972. Here he is in April, DNF with clutch failure. Ford apparently then changed their minds wanting Norm to return the car and money they paid him, Norm telling them unsurprisingly to ‘jam it’.

Bartlett.

hum bart

(Bruce Wells)

Kevin Bartlett in polo-shirt at the wheel of the works Lynx BMC, the Curl-Curl  kid was on his way! Lotus 20 behind i think. Year anyone?

Bikes.

hun bikes

(John Small)

Jim Budd and Roger Hayes Team Avon Kawasaki’s lead the 1 hour production race at the ‘weir in November 1977. Third is Jeff Parkin and then Alan Hales both on Suzuki’s. Hot work in the heat.

Jane.

jane mustand

(oldracephotos.com)

Bob giving his factory Shelby built Mustang Trans-Am plenty during the 1970 Christmas ‘Weir meeting. His new Chevy Camaro 427 cannot be too far away, Norm Beechey took the 1970 ATCC in his Holden Monaro GTS350 but Jano won it in 1971/2 in the same car with a 427 in ’71 and ‘tiddly’ 350 small block in 1972.

jane torana

(Dick Simpson)

Bob was back with another new toy in 1971, one of his finest, the John Sheppard built Holden Torana into which was slotted one of the 4.4 litre SOHC ‘620 Series’ Repco V8’s once fitted to the Elfin 400 pictured below. CAMS didn’t allow it to compete with the wing for long, check out the Vees in the Weir ‘form up’ or dummy grid area in the background. This car was mainly raced by John Harvey, in ’71 Bob focused on the Camaro and winning the ATCC. The car is still around albeit Chev engined and in need of restoration.

jane elf

(oldracephotos.com)

Bob Jane didn’t race his Elfin 400 too much, it was mainly driven by his drivers; Spencer Martin, Ian Cook and Bevan Gibson. Here in early 1968 at Hume Weir Jane is ahead of a Lotus 11, Meyers Manx beach buggy! and, is it an Elva Courier. These big Elfins are sensational cars, i wrote a long article about them a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/

400 rear

It’s interesting to see racing cars in the context of their day to gauge the impact they had on people, how ‘other worldly’ and fast they looked. Seeing them at historic race meetings is not the way the populace saw them at the time.

This shot does that in spades and the fair citizens of Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown, an Adelaide suburb had seen plenty of cars leave the Elfin factory in their street. This one clearly captured their attention all the same.

That WOW! factor we all still experience at the sight of something really special, mind you, these days it’s usually the ‘WOW! Ugly as a Hatful of Arseholes’ impact rather than ‘WOW! Beautiful’. Such is the impact of cad-cam and the aerodynamicists ‘art’ on free flowing curvaceous forms.

The Mini 850 and Holden ‘EH’ on the typically Aussie outer suburban street nicely juxtapose the body of Elfins first ‘big-banger’ sports car with contemporary ‘roadies’ of the day.

WOW! indeed.

400 side

Elfin built four Elfin 400’s, all with different engines, the first completed was the Frank Matich Elfin 400/ Traco Olds featured in the article link above.

This car is about to be delivered to Bob Jane Racing in Melbourne in early 1967 in time for the sports car events which were a part of each years Tasman rounds.

It’s the first 4.4litre Repco ‘620 Series’ V8 fitted to a car, the engine developed in parallel with the 1966 Championship winning 3 litre variant of the same engine, victorious in Jack Brabhams hands that year.

In fact it is the first customer Repco engine sold, the first fitted to a sports car and the first fitted to a car built in Australia, Brabhams were built in the UK. So, significant in Repco’s’ history.

400 front

The SOHC 2 valve, Olds block, Lucas injected engine produced around 400bhp@8000rpm, enough in Australia, but not elsewhere in the world at the time, where big Chevs were dominant. In 1965/66 the Lola T70 was the ‘ducks guts’ in Group 7 sports car racing but the McLaren M6A appeared in 1967, from that moment the record books were attacked by the McLaren steamroller until the end of 1971 when Porsche ‘rained on their parade’ with the 917/10 and 917/30 turbo’ cars.

As stated above this car was raced by Jane himself, Ian Cook and Bevan Gibson. Unfortunately it was the car in which Bevan flipped on Conrod Straight, Bathurst at the Easter 1969 meeting, killing the promising young driver instantly.

Frank Matich was dominant in his range of sports cars in Australia into 1967, pickings at championship level were slim when FM was present. Matich’s Elfin 400 Traco Olds delivered its promise and his own SR3’s were almost identical in terms of chassis to the Elfin 400 if not the body.

The ex-Jane 400 is now restored and owned by Elfins’ Bill Hemming.

bevan

Hamilton Porsche 906 Spyder, Spencer Martin Elfin 400 Repco and Bevan Gibson Lotus 15 Climax, Hume Weir, Queens Birthday weekend 1967. Somewhat poignant shot given Bevan is to die in the car beside him 2 years later. Gibson made the families Lotus 15 Climax absolutely sing, it was his drives in this old car which earned him the Bob Jane drive (Bryan Liersch)

Bibliography…

Joe Wooding ‘Albury & District Historical Society’ paper on construction of Hume Weir

‘Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, Elfin Sports Cars Facebook page

Photo Credits…

Bryan Liersch, Bob Mills Collection, Dick Simpson, John Small, oldracephotos.com, Bowdens, Bruce Wells Collection, Robert Davies, Bowdens

John J Dallinger’s stunning collection of Albury photographs

Tailpieces: Family, fun day out at the Weir…

hum humpy

(unattributed)

hun humpy 2

Hume Weir humpy Holden mayhem (Dick Simpson)

 

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I was lookin’ for shots of chicks and cars as I do a fortnightly post of a babe with a car. When I spotted this image ’twas the lady who initially caught my eye…

But we ‘anoraks’ are so into chassis numbers right?

‘935’ on the engine cover stood out, a Lotus 18 number I thought. A quick google and no less an authority than DC Nye identified the car as a Lotus 21 delivered to Rob Walker, its locale Monza. Lets come back to that…

Stirling Moss raced ‘935’ in the Australasian summer ‘Tasman’ races in early ’62. Here it is below after its victorious run in the very wet, Ardmore, New Zealand Grand Prix. I love the way the gent ‘touches the greatness of Moss’ by giving the Lotus an affectionate pat! ‘Red cap’, a more technical type is sussing the rear suspension of the 21 compared with the Lotus 18’s from the year before.

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(Stephen Page)

Lotus 21: The Forgotten Chapman GP Car?…

When you think about it Colin Chapman peaked early as an F1 designer.

His 1956 Vanwall , or rather his chassis design and choice of Frank Costin as it’s body designer/aerodynamicist was a GP winner. Not too many fellas have done that with their first car.

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Press launch of the Lotus 12 Climax F2 car in 1956, note the extraordinary smallness of the car, the 12 and 16 remarkable bits of front-engined GP kit. Cliff Allison did 167mph in a Coventry Climax  2207cc FPF engined 12 on Masta Straight, Spa in 1958, with much of his small body outside the cockpit! He was 4th but famously could have won the race had it gone another lap as the first 3 cars all failed to complete the cool-down lap (John Ross)

His first Lotus GP design was the 16, he always referred to the 12, which competed in Grands’ Prix from Monaco 1958 as an F2 car, the design originally used in 1.5 litre racing before being fitted with Coventry Climax 1960cc and 2207cc engines for F1 use.

One of the things which intrigues me given his subsequent record as the designer/design inspiration for so many epochal cars is why Chapman didn’t design a mid-engined car for 1959? Cooper blazed that trail, GP winners from Argentina 1958, Moss of course taking that win in a Rob Walker Cooper T43 Climax.

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Allison, 10th in the Lotus 16 Climax, Nurburgring 1958. Brooks won in a Vanwall, Lotus 16 famously the ‘Mini-Vanwall’, both Chapman chassis designs  (Klemantaski)

Whilst the front engined 12 is understandable, it appeared in late 1956 and was quite the smallest front engined ‘F1 car’ ever, the 16 shoulda’ been mid-engined?

The 16 was quick mind you, but fragile in both chassis and it’s ‘queerbox’, Lotus’ own gearbox which was unreliable largely due to one small set of dogs trying to pick up every gear. The 16 also didn’t receive a 2.5litre Climax FPF until later in the piece. But if Chapman set trends, and he did, he was a slowish adopter of the mid-engined trend.

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Works Lotus 18 Climax, Zandvoort, Dutch GP 1960. Chapman was quick to refine the mid-engined paradigm! 2.5 litre CC FPF, 5 speed Lotus ‘box, rear suspension notable for lack of a top-link, the fixed length driveshafts performing locational duties as well as motive ones. This is Alan Stacey’s car, DNF gearbox on lap 57 from Q8. Ireland’s car was 2nd from Q3, quick cars 18’s! Brabham won in his Cooper T53 Climax (Dave Friedman)

His first such design, the 18 was an immensely successful car in FJ, F2 and F1 specification. Despite its ‘chubster, biscuit shaped’ looks it was the fastest 2.5 Litre F1 car of 1960 if not the most robust or reliable. No less than Moss himself had strong views on Chapman’s ‘marginal engineering’ of key components the failure of same caused some massive accidents.

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Ireland, works Lotus 18 Climax, Monaco 1960, 9th in the race won by Moss’ similar car. Lotus’ first GP win (Dave Friedman)

Roll on into 1961, the first year of the 1.5 litre F1, the Brits were faced without a suitable engine as their ‘racing mafia’ were convinced the CSI, in the end would not make the change to the smaller engines. They did, Ferrari the beneficiary with their 156, a car developed in F1/2 in 1960, click here for a story on that wonderful conveyance;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/22/ferraris-first-mid-engined-car-the-1960-gp-dino-246p/

Whilst BRM and Coventry Climax worked hard to get their V8’s completed all of the British firms persevered with Mk2 versions of the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF, in 2.5 litre form the championship winning engine of 1959/60.

Chapman and his team had the dimensions of the coming Coventry Climax FWMV V8 when they set to work on the 21, their 1961 contender, but they knew initially the little, underpowered FPF would be used.

So, light weight and aerodynamic efficiency were key design tenets of the new Lotus 21. These aims were achieved by lying the driver down in the cockpit, Chapman went further in ’62 with his 24/5 designs, but the trend was set by the 21. The car was notably small in size, low in frontal area, the body enveloping the chassis all the way to the casing of its ZF gearbox, specially made for the car. Have a look at a 21 beside a 156 and see just how ‘butch’ in size the Fazz is by comparison.

Chapman used a top rocker and lower wishbone for the cars front suspension, getting the spring/shocks outta the airstream and further adding to top speed. At the rear the suspension was outboard; single top link, inverted lower wishbone and coil spring/damper unit with twin radius rods for location.

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Lotus 21 Climax FPF cutaway, specifications as per text (James Allington)

Lotus Components built 11 of the 21 chassis’ during the year, which otherwise in specification were leaders of the mid-engined paradigm; multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, Chapman the high priest of chassis design. Rack and pinion steering, discs on all four wheels, magnesium alloy (Lotus ‘wobbly web’) wheels, Ferrari still used heavy Borrani wires till ’63. The CC 1495cc, DOHC, 2 valve, all alloy, Weber carbed 4 cylinder engine gave circa 155bhp. The Lotus weighed 990lb, had an 89 inch wheelbase and track of 53 inches front and rear.

The prototype was built from scratch in six weeks, just missing the Aintree 200 meeting but was tested at Silverstone two days later, the car made its debut at Monaco in May. The works cars in 1961 were steered by two Scots; Innes Ireland, the seasoned professional and up and coming Jim Clark who graduated fron the works Lotus 18 FJ he raced in 1960.

Fitted with the new Coventry Climax V8 the Lotus 21 was a winning car in Moss’ hands if not Ireland’s or Clark’s.  But as it was Chapman didn’t get his hands on an FWMV in 1961 due at least in part to the spat he was having with Climax’ MD Leonard Lee about the quality of the CC FWE engines supplied for his Elite road cars. The engines weren’t the Elites only reliability problems mind you!

In the event the 21 won only one championship GP at Watkins Glen, Innes Ireland broke through for both Team Lotus and his first win that October.

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Ireland’s winning Lotus 21 leads Gurney’s 2nd placed Porsche 718 and Graham Hill’s 5th placed BRM P48/57 Climax, US GP Watkins Glen, 8 October 1961 (unattributed)

The cars chances of more wins were missed by Chapmans decision not to sell Rob Walker his latest car, as he had with the 18 the year before. Moss’ two wins in ’61, remarkable ones, were in the Walker 18 at Monaco and 18/21 hybrid at the Nurburgring. Armed with a new 21 all year he may, praps have taken one or two wins off Ferrari despite the cars relative ‘lack of puff’.

The 21 took wins in Non-Championship 1961 events; the Solitude GP for Ireland in July, the Flugplatzrennen at Zeltweg again for Ireland in September, and the Rand, Natal and South African Grands’ Prix in Jim Clark’s ‘African Tour’ in December 1961. As written here Moss did well in Australasia in early 1962.

The Lotus 21 should be remembered as both a GP winner and the progenitor of the design maxims Chapman’s ever creative mind evolved with the 1962 Lotus 24 and it’s revolutionary monocoque sibling, the 25.

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Love the atmospherics of this 1961 Italian GP, Monza paddock shot. #10 is Brabham’s Cooper T58 CCV8, contrast it with McLaren’s #12 CC FPF powered T55 behind. #38 and 36 are the Ireland/Clark Lotus 21 CC FPF’s before the ‘jiggery pokery’ with the chassis swap between Innes and Stirling. The white painted ‘T’car is a Lotus 20 FJ or 21, not sure whose the car behind it is, its a Cooper T51 i think (Hutton Archive)

Moss’ first drive of a Lotus 21 was his steer of  Innes Ireland’s works car at Monza on 10 September, that weekend infamous for the tragic race collision between Jim Clark’s Lotus 21 and Taffy von Trips Ferrari 156 which resulted in Trips death as well as that of 15 innocent spectators.

Moss took Lotus’ first ever GP win at Monaco in May. Whilst Chapman was eternally grateful he wasn’t inclined to give Moss or Walker too much of a ‘free-kick’ by selling them his latest car, the 21, given his primary aim was works car wins. In fact its probably Esso we have to blame as they were Lotus’ fuel supplier, BP the sponsor of Rob Walker/Moss, both companies had their commercial positions to protect.

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Moss and Ireland swapping notes at Monza, Italian GP, September 1961 (GP Photo)

The Monza weekend was also significant for the first race appearance of the new 1.5 litre BRM P56 V8 and the further appearance of the Coventry Climax FWMV V8 first raced by Jack Brabham at the Nurburgring the month before. Jack qualified his new Cooper T58 on grid 2 in the Eifel Mountains but crashed on lap 1 with a sticking throttle so the engine hadn’t been race-tested.

The P56 V8’s were fitted to modified BRM P48/57 chassis, the CC V8 to Jack’s Cooper and a specially modified Lotus 18/21 built up by the Walker Team. Team Lotus were unable to secure an engine as noted earlier, so appeared in 21’s powered by the 1.5 litre 4 cylinder FPF Mk2 used by the British teams, including BRM that year.

BRM tested their new engines with no intention to race them. Brabham raced his Cooper despite problems in practice.

Moss was sportingly offered Ireland’s factory 21 FPF, chassis ‘933’. Chapman and Ireland reasoned that Moss would have a better chance of success in a 21 rather than the tired Walker 18/21. Moss was the only Lotus driver with a vague (very) chance at the championship. Ireland raced the Walker 18/21 FPF engined car. In Denis Jenkinson’s race account he writes about the ‘cloak and dagger’ stuff behind closed garages to make the necessary change of chassis and body work between Moss and Ireland. The secretive stuff was doubtless so as not to upset the trade supporters of both teams.

Which brings us back to ‘ole 935’ and the photo at this articles outset. The two works Lotus Monza chassis according to Nye’s ‘Theme Lotus’ were ‘933’ and ‘934’. If ‘935’ was at Monza there was no point making the chassis and bodywork changes between the Moss/Ireland cars both Jenkinson and Nye report took place. If ‘935’ were at Monza either as a works spare or delivered to the Walker Team Moss would have raced it and Ireland his regular works 21 rather than the inferior Walker 18/21.

So, whats the explanation of the photo then?

Either it isn’t Monza, although i am inclined to believe Nye who has been there once or twice! The probable story is that the engine cover of the new ‘935’ was ‘borrowed’ and fitted to one of the works Lotus 21’s for the weekend. The first race entry for ‘935’ i can find, looking at Non-Championship and Championship Grand’s Prix results later in 1961 seems be its races in New Zealand in early 1962. The 1962 NZ GP report by sergent.com describes ‘935’ as unraced before that event on 6 January.

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Moss and Alf Francis confer during Monza practice, by the look of it neither are ‘happy campers’, the Lotus 18/21 CC FWMV  chassis #’906′ always a handful (GP Library)

The Moss 18/21 was modified to fit the FWMV V8 with the assistance of Ferguson Research. The rear of the 18 chassis aft of the drivers seat was ‘chopped off’ and replaced with a frame to suit the width and mounting needs of the new engine. 21 rear suspension was incorporated comprising new 21 uprights which were located at the top by a link to the chassis thus relieving the half shafts of the suspension loads the solid ‘shafts of the 18 performed. The new components had Hardy Spicer splined shafts to accommodate ‘plunge and droop’.

A Colotti Type 32 gearbox was used. The rear framework was a complete assembly which attached to the main frame by large bolts screwed into the ends of the tubes, which had been plugged and tapped. The structure was made from small diameter tubing which had to be detached completely before the engine and gearbox could be removed. The car was finished in a big hurry so the old Lotus engine cover was retained with a bulge to clear the four downdraft Webers.

Whilst no-doubt well engineered it doesn’t all add up to the levels of torsional stiffness no doubt required to put all of the new engines power to the ground effectively.

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The Walker Lotus 18/21 CC V8 during 1961 Monza practice (GP Library)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Italian GP ’61 start with a swag of 5 Ferrari’s up front, leading green car at left is probably Hill G’s BRM Climax, Clark is between Hill and a Ferrari, thats Gurney’s Porsche 718 on the right from grid 12, the carnage took place shortly thereafter (Klemantaski)

During the race the tragic accident between Clark and von Trips occurred on the first lap, the German and hapless spectators killed. The race continued whilst the carnage was attended to.

Moss retired on lap 36 with wheel bearing failure, Ireland on lap 5 with chassis problems and Brabham’s FWMV failed on lap 8 due to overheating problems, shortcomings sorted over the winter off-season.

Phil Hill’s Ferrari 156 won the race and ’61 title from Gurney’s Porsche 718 and McLaren’s Cooper T55 FPF.

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Moss in the Walker bodied works Lotus 21 CC FPF during the race, dicing with Gurney’s 2nd placed Porsche 718 (GP Library)

New Zealand…

Over that 1962 European winter Coventry Climax worked on the reliability of the FWMV and BRM their P56 V8 and the P578 chassis to carry it. Over at Cheshunt Colin Chapman was building the spaceframe 24 and its epochal monocoque sibling the Lotus 25.

Both marques were the key players in an amazing 1962 season which in the main didn’t feature Stirling Moss, whose Glover Trophy career ending accident took place on Easter Monday 23 April 1962 in the Walker Lotus 18/21 Climax V8 ‘906’ described above.

The Walker Team would make do with their 18/21 in GP’s, later in the season they raced two Lotus 24 FWMV’s but by the time they were ready Moss’ career was finito.

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Moss looking after the fans, Kiwi kiddies drawn to the great Brit, Ardmore NZGP meeting. Car is 21 ‘935’ (Stephen Page)

For Moss, in the meantime there were the annual summer internationals to contest in Australasia.

Whilst Stirling loved the speed of his Lotus’ he revelled in the forgiving ‘chuckability’ and robustness of Coopers. Robust is not an apt adjective to describe the Loti single-seaters of the period. So, hedging his bets for his 1962 Australasian Tour he had Rob Walker ship both ‘935’ as well as a Cooper T55 ‘F1-7-61’  on the long voyage south. Both cars were Coventry Climax FPF powered. Engines of both 2.5 and 2.7 litres capacity were used, our International Series then F Libre in its pre-Tasman formula days.

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Moss and 2nd placed Surtees on the Ardmore victory dais (Stephen Page)

Moss raced the Lotus to an NZ GP win at Ardmore on 6 January and at the Wigram Airfield circuit event fitted with 2.5 litre FPF’s. At Levin and Teretonga he was 2nd in the Cooper powered by a 2.7 FPF, Brabham won at Levin and McLaren at Teretonga. So Moss’ campaign had started well.

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Borgward Isabella and 21 off to the next round of the NZ Internationals at Levin. Shot shows the inboard front suspension, the top rocker actuating inboard mounted spring/shock. At the rear is a single top link, reversed lower wishbone, outboard spring/shock and twin radius rods. Extreme lowness clear as is the slippery nature of the body and reduction in driver space which advanced as a trend over the following decades!  (Stephen Page)

The NZ Internationals were contested by Moss, Surtees, McLaren and Salvadori, the latter 3 drivers in Cooper T53 Climaxes, Bandini in a Cooper T53 Maser, Brabham a Cooper T55 Climax and Ron Flockhart Lotus 18 Climax. Chris Amon made his first international appearances that summer in the ex-BRM/Brabham Maser 250F, other ‘local heroes’ Pat Hoare Ferrari 246/256 V12, Angus Hyslop Cooper T53 Climax and Aussies Bib Stillwell, Aston DBR4, David McKay Cooper T51 Climax and Arnold Glass’ BRM P48.

Moss ‘brained’ the NZGP field in an awful, wet race, he lapped the field winning from Surtees, McLaren and Salvadori.

Australia…

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Beautiful shot of Moss in the Walker Lotus 21 Climax 2.5 ‘935’ on Warwick Farm’s pit straight, he practised the car but raced the more ‘chuckable’ Cooper (Mal Simpson)

The cars were then shipped to Sydney, the first race of the Australian leg the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ on the testing, technical outer western Sydney circuit on 4 February.

Moss practised both cars electing to race the Cooper to a race win from McLaren and Stillwell.

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Moss in his Lotus 21 passes John Youl sneaking a peek over his shoulder, Cooper T51 Climax during WF practice. Youl DNF the 2.2 litre car with clutch problems in the race, the Taswegian a very quick steerer (John Ellacott)

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WF 100 front row, 4 February 1962 ; Moss, Brabham, McLaren in Coopers T53, T55, T53 (Mal Simpson)

Moss missed the Lakeside event won by Brabham’s T55 Cooper and Longford’s ‘South Pacific Championship’ race won by Surtees Cooper T53 Climax but raced ‘935’ fitted with a 2.7 litre FPF at the Australian Grand Prix, Sandown’s inaugural meeting on 12 March.

Jack Brabham won the race in his 2.7 engined Cooper from Surtees, McLaren and Chuck Daigh in the very interesting Scarab RE Buick V8, the cars only race. Read my Chuck Daigh article for that cars interesting story.

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Moss cruises the Sandown paddock in the 2.7 ‘Indy’ FPF engined Lotus ‘935’, March 1962. The man absolutely the best and fastest driver in the world at the time (Kevin Drage)

In between these Australian events, reinforcing the regularity and intensity of his racing schedule Moss raced in the Daytona 3 Hours, finishing 4th in a Ferrari 250 GT SWB on 11 February. After Sandown he returned to the US to contest the Sebring 3 Hours and Sebring 24 Hours on 23/24 March finishing 3rd in an Austin Healey Sprite and DNF in a NART Ferrari Dino 248SP respectively.

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Moss, AH Sprite, Sebring 3 Hour 1962 (Tom Bigelow)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moss, maidens, Sebring 1962. That he was in such great physical shape no doubt a factor in his attraction to the babes but it  also stood him in good stead in surviving the horrific Goodwood shunt, surgery and month long coma (Tom Bigelow)

 

 

 

Moss then returned to Europe for the 1 April GP of Brussels and Lombank Trophy at Snetterton on 14 April yielding 2nd and 7th in the Walker Lotus 18/21 FWMV V8 ‘906’ before that fateful day at Goodwood on 23 April.

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Moss, Goodwood, Lotus 18/21 ‘906’ not long before the prang, Easter Monday 1962 (Doug Nye)

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It took over an hour to cut Stirling free from the mortally wounded Lotus. One of the things I have learned and detest in researching various pieces is the vast number of gruesome images of racing crashes on the internet. You won’t ever see them here. I am all for ‘freedom of the press’ but believe there is a place for censorship of said images…(Victor Blackman)

Moss was an enormously popular visitor to Australia from the mid-fifties, sadly his Goodwood 1962 accident was not too far away during his early ’62 tour.

His Antipodean fans never forgot him though.

We turned out in droves to see his ‘comeback’ drive in a Holden Torana L34 V8 at Bathurst in 1976, he shared the car with Jack Brabham. The all-star combination had a shocker of a race when Jack copped a Triumph Dolomite ‘up the arse’ on the startline thanks to his Holden’s clutch failure. Jack was stranded as the rest of the field moved post-haste towards Hell Corner, the unsighted Dolly an innocent victim of Black-Jacks misfortune. The car was patched up but Jack and Stirling failed to finish, a great shame!

Moss, a great man, ’tis wonderful he remains one of our sports great ambassadors.

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Brabham/ Moss, Holden Torana L34, Bathurst 1976 (Autopics)

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Moss and Brabham at Bathurst in ’76, that’s Scuderia Veloce’s David McKay in between (autopics.com)

Bibliography…

Automobile Year, MotorSport 1961 Italian GP race report by Denis Jenkinson, Doug Nye ‘Theme Lotus’, William Taylor ‘The Lotus Book’, oldracingcars.com, GP Encyclopaedia, silhouet.com, Team Dan

Photo Credits…

GP Library, James Allington, Mal Simpson, Kevin Drage, Stephen Page, John Ellacott, Klemantaski Collection, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, Dave Friedman Collection, autopics.com, Victor Blackman, Doug Nye, Tom Bigelow

Tailpiece: The future. Jim Clark at Sandown, Lotus 21 Climax ‘933’, World Champion in the new, epochal monocoque Lotus 25 within 2 years and a GP winner within months. Here with the lower sidepanel removed due to Melbourne summer heat…

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(Kevin Drage)

Finito…