Posts Tagged ‘Cooper T53 Climax’

(T Walker)

Jack Brabham attacks the Longford Viaduct in 1964, Brabham BT7A Climax…

His differential failed on lap 21 of the ‘South Pacific Trophy’, victory went to the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax driven by Graham Hill from Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 Climax.

I’ve accumulated a heap of photos of Jack Brabham, many of which are ‘human interest’ type shots taken in the paddock or at other important events. I’ve packaged them up in chronological order with some comments around the shot or the event, I hope you enjoy the selection.

(Fairfax)

Speedcar: Parramatta Speedway, Sydney 26 February 1954…

This photo is late in Jack’s speedway career, I’m not sure which chassis he is aboard above, he travelled to the UK in 1955 remember. In 1948 and 1949 he won the Australian Speedcar Championship in his #28 JAP 880 Midget.

In ’54 he was also racing his highly developed road racing Cooper T23 Bristol, contesting amongst many other events the ’54 AGP at Southport and the NZ GP at Ardmore. It was his showing in NZ which was one of the factors which convinced him to try  his hand in Europe.

Brabham’s first road racing competition was with his dirt midget, fitted with four- wheel brakes he won the 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship in it at Rob Roy, in Melbourne’s outer east at Christmas Hills!

Cooper T43 Climax FPF: ‘Rochester Trophy’ Brands Hatch, 5 August 1957…

Jack and Geoff Brabham in the Brands paddock prior to this F2 race, he won both heats from two other Cooper T43’s of George Wicken and Ronnie Moore.

Jack looks so young- but he is already 31 and a veteran of nine years of competition, much of it on the dirt speedways of eastern Australia. Geoffrey is five- his racing car debut was in an Elfin 620 Formula Ford in 1972 or 1973, his first full season was aboard a Bowin P6F Formula Ford in 1974. Click here for an article on Geoff;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/31/geoff-and-jack-brabham-monza-1966/

That season Brabham also won F2 events at Brands in June, the London Trophy at Crystal Palace, the Prix de Paris at Monthlery and the International Gold Cup at Oulton Park. In Grands Prix he contested the Monaco, French, British and Pescara events driving 2 litre FPF powered T43’s, his best, sixth place at Monaco.

Bursting onto stage…

Quite literally, Jack motors into the Dorchester Hotel, London ballroom to be presented with a BRDC Gold Star in 1960. By then he had won two World Titles on the trot of course, in Cooper T51 and T53 Climax in 1959 and 1960 respectively.

Jack and Bruce, Sandown Park, 12 March 1962…

Two great buddies, Jack instrumental in Bruce going to Europe and in ploughing the same path Bruce took with his own cars, three years later.

Jack has just left Cooper’s and ran a private ex-works Cooper T55 Climax 2.7 FPF in the Australasian Internationals that summer. Bruce also ran a Cooper T53 Climax FPF 2.7, like Jack, his own equipe prepared and entered the car.

Jack won the ‘Sandown Park International’ on the Sunday with Bruce third behind John Surtees in another (Yeoman Credit) T53 FPF 2.7. It was the opening meeting of the Sandown circuit, built as it is within the confines of a horse-racing facility. Its still in use, long may it continue!

Which Cooper are they leaning on? Dunno.

There are quite a few shots and information on that meeting in this article I wrote about Chuck Daigh a while back. Click here for a peep;

https://primotipo.com/2016/01/27/chucks-t-bird/

(Getty)

 

Icy Pole…

There are quite a few shots of Jack cooling down and warding off dehydration with a medicinal treat! Here its aboard his Lotus 24 Climax during the 1962 Belgian GP weekend at Spa. He was sixth in the race won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 25.

He left Cooper at the end of ’61 and raced the Lotus until the new Brabham BT3 was ready- its first appearance was in the German GP in early August.

Click here for an article about Jacks experience with the Lotus and the first F1 Brabham BT3; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/06/brabhams-lotuses-and-first-gp-car-the-bt3-climax/

(K Drage)

Sandown Park paddock 1964, Brabham BT7A Climax…

This is the business end of the ‘Intercontinental’ Brabham shot in this articles first photograph at Longford.

Bruce won the first ’64 Tasman Series in the ‘very first McLaren’ his self built Cooper T70 Climax but Jack had a pretty good tour winning three of the races with Graham Hill picking up another in the David McKay owned BT4 as did Denny Hulme in his Motor Racing Developments BT4.

2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine and using a Hewland HD5 gearbox- this very successful model, the BT7A and its BT11A successor won many races in Australasia and South Africa.

‘Warwick Farm 100’ paddock 12-14 February 1965…

Long time BRO mechanic Roy Billington looks on as Jack makes final adjustments to the Repco built and maintained Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF engine.

Jack finished second in the 45 lap race behind Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax- Jim won the race, and three others to take the 1965 Tasman for Team Lotus. It was the start of an unbelievable year for the talented Scot who also won the F1 World Championship and Indy 500 in Lotus 33 Climax and Lotus 38 Ford respectively.

Repco obtained the rights to build CC engines in the early sixties- they did a nice trade supplying the locals and Internationals CC 2.5 bits, for many years the engine de jour of the category.

The Charlie Dean/Stan Jones fifties Maybach racing programs run out of Repco Research in Sydney Road, Brunswick created the ‘Repco Racing Culture’ and a swag of gifted engineers, fitters and mechanics who went on to do great things within Repco- and outside it.

The short ‘Coventry Climax Phase’ under Frank Hallam’s leadership in Richmond was an important bridge to the ‘Repco Brabham Engines Phase’ at Repco in terms of men and Hallam’s assembly of the necessary equipment to build and maintain the engines. He bought tools, milling machines, lathes etc. Frank used his budgets wisely to both buy new clobber and refurbish older but far from inadequate machinery.

In essence, the Repco Board believed they had the capacity to build racing engines when Canny Jack pitched the RBE 2.5 litre, Oldmobile F85 based Tasman V8 engine to them in 1963/4.

So, lets not forget the role the maintenance and limited development of the oh-so-successful Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF played in Repco’s ultimate 1966-1979 success. Why 1979 you say? The final national championship won by an RBE V8 was Paul Gibson’s win in the 1979 Australian Tourist Trophy at Winton in a Rennmax Repco powered by a 5 litre ‘740 Series’ RBE V8.

Monaco 1966, Brabham BT19 Repco at rest…

Jack resting with a Coke whilst being offered some encouragement from a couple of supporters. He wasn’t well, feeling off-colour, in addition BT19 was late due to a waterside workers strike in the UK.

He had just taken the newish BT19 Repco ‘620 Series’ V8 combinations first win in the Silverstone ‘International Trophy’ a fortnight before so much was expected of the combination in the principality of dreams. In the event the car jammed in gear from a lowly starting position leaving Stewart to win in a BRM P261- a 1.5 litre F1 car with a 2 litre ‘Tasman’ V8 fitted.

Jack’s title winning run started at Reims in July. Click here for my feature on the ’66 season;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

OBE from HM The Queen…

Betty, Jack and Geoff Brabham having collected Jack’s Order of the British Empire from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1967. He was further honoured with a Knighthood, ‘Knight Bachelor’ in 1979.

Jack looks pretty schmick in tails but I imagine he could not get the ‘Topper’ off his head quick enough!

Victorious French Grand Prix, Le Mans 1967…

Jack won the race from Denny with Jackie Stewart third in an old BRM P261. I wrote an article about this meeting, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/02/03/le-mans-french-gp-1967-powerrrr/

It was the fifth event of the championship season and the first win for the reigning champion. Meanwhile Denny was racking up a more than handy pile of points- which would win him the title from Jack and Jim Clark’s new Lotus 49 Ford DFV.

Ain’t she sweet! Ron Tauranac’s ’67 Brabham BT24 was one of his nicest, most cohesive, balanced GeePee designs. It had just enough of everything to do the trick and no more.

Note the characteristic duct to take cooling air within the Vee to keep stuff cool down there, not least the Lucas fuel metering unit. Duct used in the warmer ’67 races.

Mixing With The Big Shots, Melbourne Reception 1967…

Jack with Sir Charles McGrath, long time CEO and later Chairman of Repco Ltd and longtime Premier of Victoria Sir Henry Bolte to honour the achievements of both Brabham and Repco in 1966.

Jack’s suit lapel contains Repco and Goodyear pins reflecting the enormous contribution made by those companies to that success. Jack was a Goodyear early adopter and reaped all the benefits, in no small measure due to his ongoing testing feedback about the product.

McGrath was a Brabham believer, without his ongoing support there would have been no engines. At the time Repco Ltd were an Australian Stock Exchange Top 100 listed company, ‘Dave’ McGrath oversaw the exponential growth of Repco both within Australia and overseas from the time he was appointed Managing Director in 1953. He strode the local corporate scene like a colossus as a Director of Repco and other companies. Click here for his biography;

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mcgrath-sir-charles-gullan-dave-15173

Gelato @ Monza ’67: ‘Streamliner’ Brabham BT24 Repco…

Proof positive he likes his icecream!

However light Ron Tauranac’s BT24 chassis was, the Repco ’67 ‘RB740’ V8 was still only good for 330 or so neddies compared with the 400’ish of the quad-cam 32 valve, new Ford Cosworth DFV. This aero experiment was successful in making the car slip through the air better but Jack had difficulty placing the car accurately through the complex, compound curvature of the screen so the project was abandoned. A works BT23 F2 car was also tested in similar manner.

This was the famous race in which Jack lost out on a last lap, last corner, braking manoeuvre with John Surtees Honda RA301 V12- losing out to finish second with Denny again behind in third. The big, beefy ‘Hondola’ had heaps more power than the Aussie V8 but equally as much bulk- the ‘pork chops’ of the era were the Hondas and BRM P83 H16. The leading ‘lithe and nimbles’ were the BT24 and Lotus 49.

Click here for an article on the ’67 Brabham BT24 including a ‘compare and contrast’ with the Lotus 49 Ford DFV;

https://primotipo.com/2017/12/28/give-us-a-cuddle-sweetie/

Biggles Brabham at Bankstown, Sydney…

Brabham was a leading light of the fifties and sixties racer/pilots wasn’t he? Chapman, Hill, Clark and Reventlow all spring to mind. But there were plenty of others.

Here Jack has just arrived from the UK to Bankstown, Sydney on 11 February 1968.

That year he did a truncated two race Tasman in a beautiful Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740 Series’ V8. It was another lightweight purpose built Tasman jigger built on Tauranac’s F2 BT23 jig that could have nicked the title had he raced at all of the rounds. Mind you Jack would have had to knock over the two Gold Leaf Team Lotus Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s of Clark and Hill to do so. Clark was on tip-top form winning the championship with four victories.

I wrote an article about the BT23E, click here for it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

Michael Gasking in the light grey, Jack and the rest of the Repco crew, ‘830 Series’ 2.5 litre SOHC V8. That is an old helmet he is wearing!, it musta been lying around in the Repco Maidstone workshop. A Bell Magnum it ain’t! (M Gasking)

The Lowest Mileage Works Brabham: BT31 Repco…

Jack testing his 1969 Tasman mount, his just assembled BT31, in the late afternoon at Calder the day before it’s race debut at Sandown for the final Tasman round. Chris Amon won the race and the series that year in his works Ferrari Dino 246T V6.

My mate, Repco’s Rodway Wolfe helped Jack assemble BT31 that February day. Years later he owned the car, read his definitive story of this two races in period only, works Brabham!

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/26/rodways-repco-recollections-brabham-bt31-repco-jacks-69-tasman-car-episode-4/

Tailpiece: Suss the atmospherics of this Sandown Tasman shot 1965…

(R Lambert)

Whenever I see this fence I think of the number of times I jumped over it as a youngster. Not right there mind you, that spot was way too public. Clark’s victorious Lotus 32B Climax FPF is at left- he won five of the seven Tasman rounds and Jack’s Sandown winning Brabham BT11A is being fettled by Roy Billington and the chief himself. The senior advisor, Gary Brabham is just short of 5 years old i think. Check out the ‘Sandown muffler’ on JB’s car.

And the crowd takes it all in.

The original Sandown paddock did get a bit squeezy but boy it was a wonderful place to look at cars, drivers and the racing from the pit counter. Them was the days my friends…

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, F2 Index

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Fairfax Media, Kevin Drage, Michael Gasking, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Ron Lambert Collection

Endpiece: JB, Jack Brabham Ford, Bankstown, Sydney 11 March 1971…

Jack retired from F1 and racing, sort of, he actually won a Formula Ford Race Of Champions in a Bowin P4X in 1971, at the end of 1970. Then there was his touring car ‘Dame Nellie Melba’ return in Taxis in the mid-seventies.

He sold his interest’s in Brabham Racing Organisation and Motor Racing Developments to Ron Tauranac and returned to Australia, at that stage having essentially an aviation business, Jack Brabham Ford on the Hume Highway at Bankstown and a farm at Wagga Wagga, 450 Km from Sydney, where he hoped to keep his sons well way from motor racing!

I’m such a sad little unit I can identify that tyre as a G800 Goodyear, not a bad radial in 1971 when this shot was taken. Jack was a ‘Goodyear Man’, I suspect this is some sort of promotion for the tyre and or the Ford Falcon XY behind the great one. Jack Brabham Ford offered a range of ‘tricked up’ Fords.

I wrote an article about Jack’s 1969/70 and retirement returns, click here;

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

Finito…

(J Ellacott)

Surely a BRM P48 has never looked better than this?…

 Arnold Glass points his ex-works 2.5 litre, four-cylinder Bourne bolide- P48 chassis # ‘482’ down Mount Panorama, Bathurst, Easter 1962.

John Ellacott’s beautiful soft browns, blues and blue-greens radiate with the April autumn heat of the Great Dividing Range.

When I first saw this photo it reminded me of the hues of Albert Namatjira’s outback paintings which were 1960’s Australian State Primary School walls standard issue- along with stiff, formal portraits of Betty Windsor! (Queen Elizabeth)

Its just a beaut shot of a car critical in the wonderful pantheon of BRM’s, their first mid-engined design. Arnold’s 1960 P48 is only a hop-step-and jump from Graham Hill’s 1962 World Championship(s) winning 1.5 litre P56 V8 engined BRM P578. The models in between these two are the 1960/61 P48 Mk2, 1961 Coventry Climax 1.5 FPF powered P57 and two chassis modified to take the P56 V8, the P57 V8.

Mr Glass qualified 4th at Bathurst but failed to finish the 26 lap, 100 mile race won by Bib Stillwell from David McKay and Bill Patterson, Bib and David in Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 FPF’s and Bill in a similarly engined T51.

I wrote Part 1 of an article about the P48 in mid-2015 promising Part 2 about the cars in Australia shortly thereafter. Here it is, better late than never I guess!

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/26/tony-marsh-boness-hillclimb-scotland-brm-p48-part-1/

The Owen Organisation had plenty of automotive sector subsidiaries in the Southern Hemisphere so it was with great pleasure that Australasian enthusiasts welcomed the visits of the Bourne team to promote the group’s wares from 1961 to 1968. Perhaps that should be from 1954, after all, Ken Wharton raced a howling BRM P15 V16 in the ’54 NZ GP at Ardmore- that race won in stunning circumstances by Stan Jones in Maybach 1 with an amazing race eve engine rebuild which miraculously held together on race day.

Dan Gurney practising P48 ‘486’ at Warwick Farm before the ’61, WF 100. He is on Pit Straight. DNF fuel vaporisation in the race won by the Walker Lotus 18 driven by Stirling Moss (J Ellacott)

 

Graham Hill and Dan Gurney didn’t have a great tour with P48’s ‘485’ and ‘486’ in the three races they contested in 1961- the 7 January NZ GP at Ardmore, 29 January Warwick Farm 100 in Sydney and 12 February Victorian Trophy at Ballarat Airfield in Victoria. Still, first and second at Ballarat for Gurney from Hill was a good way to end the tour and the first and only international victory for the P48.

By this stage of their development the two early spec P48’s with strut rear suspension and 3 disc brakes- one on each front hub and a single-‘bacon slicer’ disc on the back of the gearbox were competitive in Europea after Tony Rudd was given ‘engineering control’ from the end of the Dutch GP weekend. Lets not forget Graham Hill overtook Jack Brabham and led the British GP at Silverstone before a late race error outed him.

The GP car of 1960 was the Lotus 18 Climax, I’m not at all saying the P48 had the consistent pace of Chapman’s latest, let alone the race-winning speed and reliability of the works Cooper T53’s.

WF 100 grid 1961. Moss, Walker Lotus 18 Climax, Gurney and Hill in the two P48’s. Ireland and Brabham on row 2, Lotus 18 and  Cooper T53 with Bib Stillwell on the outside of row 3 in the #16 Cooper T51 and the rest. Moss won from Ireland and Stillwell (WFFB)

Gurney on the way to Victorian Trophy P48 ‘486’ victory at Ballarat Airfield 1961. Gurney won from Hill and Ron Flockhart, Cooper T53 Climax (Autosportsman)

Motor importer/distributor/dealer on the rise, Arnold ‘Trinkets’ Glass had the necessary readies and felt one of the BRM’s would be a more competitive proposition than the ex-Tommy Atkins/Harry Pearce built Cooper T51 Maserati 250S he had been racing. The T51 Maser was an attempt to gain an ‘unfair advantage’ over the Cooper T51 Climaxes, and there was similar thinking in acquiring the P48 powered as it was by an engine regarded as having a little ‘more punch’ than the 2.5 FPF.

I wrote an article about Arnold a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

Glass commenced discussions with Bourne in early 1961, it wasn’t financially feasible for him to buy a car such was the level of import duty at the time- 95% of the car purchase price was levied by the Australian fiscal fiend, but a deal was finally done to lease ‘485’ which was shipped to Sydney arriving in August 1961 complete with a package of spares including an engine and gearbox. Doug Nye records in full the detail of the rebuild of the car before it left the UK- ‘485’ was beautifully prepared even if the engine ‘2593’ had 68 3/4 hours of running ‘…the most, predictably of any 1960 spec P48. When it arrived Arnold described it to Nye as ‘…sprayed in my red livery, it was an absolute beauty- a turn key car- ready to go, with a spare engine and I think gearbox too.’

Great portrait of Arnold Glass, 36 years old, during the 1962 AGP weekend at Caversham, WA (K Devine)

‘485’s life in Australia was rather short however.

After running the car in Sydney on Warwick Farm’s short circuit Glass travelled to the Mallala, South Australia airfield’s first meeting along with other 1961 AGP aspirants over the 19/20 August weekend to contest the ‘Mallala Trophy’. It wasn’t a Gold Star round but most of the ‘quicks’ made the trip- the AGP was to be held there in early October, Lex Davison the winner in a Cooper T51 Climax.

Glass was getting used to the car and circuit like many others. On the Friday morning he set off from the pits, soon lost control of the car badly damaging it. The ‘Australian Motor Sports’ report of the accident records ‘…when Glass braked for Woodroofe, the car spun all over the road and slammed into a tree. The car took it across the engine compartment, and though they attempted a rebuild before the meeting, nothing became of it’.

Arnold saw it this way in Doug Nyes ‘BRM 2’; ‘I drove in one session, then took the car out again for a second run and this time I was flat out down the straight when the car starts to pitch over the bumps and then suddenly she just goes sideways and shoots off at a tangent up and over a bank, hits a tree, which it collects just behind my cockpit, right in the side and that flicks the nose round and it goes head on straight into a concrete post…The beautiful car is a total wreck. Its bent like a Vee just behind the cockpit, the engine crankcase is shattered, and its all mangled up, a rear radius rod is broken off, its a mess.’

The insured car was soon on a ship back to the UK where the Bourne team assessed the chassis as being beyond economic repair so it was scrapped.

Chassis ‘482’ was sitting unused ‘in stock’ and so was despatched to Australia ‘without engine or gearbox so I can fit my spare engine and gearbox from the crashed car’ as the replacement. It was the first of six ‘production’ first series, strut rear suspension/3 brake P48’s and used the front-end structure cannibalised from the broken up front engine BRM Type 25- chassis ‘257’.

Arnold raced it with both the 2497 cc, 4 cylinder, DOHC BRM engine as fitted above at Bathurst and later the ex-Chuck Daigh Scarab RE, 3.9 litre, aluminium Buick V8- that engine sold to Glass after the Scarab’s one race only, the Sandown Park International in March 1962.

Arnold Glass, Cooper T51 Maserati, Warwick Farm 100 meeting, February 1961. DNF oil pressure (J Ellacott)

Glass raced the Cooper Maserati whilst he was BRM less at Warwick Farm, Bathurst, and Mallala for the AGP. BRM ‘482’ arrived in time for the season ending Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm on 5 November, there he retired with fuel-pump failure in the race won by Stillwell’s Cooper T53 with Bill Patterson winning the Gold Star that year in his T51 Climax.

The very successful Datsun motor dealer/distributor/importer raced ‘482’ throughout 1962. He contested the NZ GP at Ardmore but could not see in the streaming rain having been well placed early, retiring the car with a slipping clutch. At Wigram he was 8th.

Back home at  Warwick Farm, for the 100 he retired from overheating after blowing a radiator hose. He was 4th at Lakeside on 10 February and DNF after a spin in the Lakeside International championship round the following day. At Longford in March he was 3rd in the preliminary and ran 6th in the feature race but retired with falling oil pressure but not before being timed at 167 mph on ‘The Flying Mile’.

The Frank Coon and Jim Travers, in their pre-Traco days built 3.9 litre, aluminium Buick V8 in the back of Chuck Daigh’s Scarab RE at Sandown in 1962 (J Ellacott)

Arnold didn’t race the car at the Sandown International, the circuit’s opening meeting, but clearly was impressed by the ‘mumbo’ of the Buick V8- Chuck Daigh was 4th in the only ever race for the mid-engined Scarab RE. A very great shame that, it would have been interesting to have seen the car contest the Intercontinental Formula races for which it was designed.

By that stage the lease deal with Rubery Owen was at an end so Arnold did a deal with them and Australian Customs to acquire the car at a price- and pay duty at an amount which made sense all around.

At the Bathurst Gold Star round (pic at this articles very outset) he had suspension problems- an attachment to the rear upright was half broken through on the left rear suspension.

In May he raced the car at Catalina Park in the New South Wales Blue Mountains and had a good battle with David McKay’s Cooper T53 Climax- so good a match race between the pair was staged at the Warwick Farm meeting in early June- Glass led before gear selection difficulties intervened, giving McKay the win.

BRM Buick ‘482’. Here @ Warwick Farm in 1962 fitted with the ex-Scarab RE 3.9 litre ally pushrod V8 as above. Chassis modified to suit of course, a clever solution to Australasia’s F Libre of the day. The merits of this family of engines- Buick/Olds F85 not lost on Brabham J! (BRM2)

He missed the Queensland, Lowood Gold Star round in June, reappearing with the Buick V8 installed at Catalina on 5 August- the Buick’s torque was too much for the cars clutch. The engine installation work, inclusive of creating a bellhousing to mate the American V8 to the P27 BRM transaxle was done by racer/engineer John McMillan and mechanic/engineer Glenn Abbey.

Later in August he had more success in the Blue Mountains with a second and third behind David McKay and Chris Amon respectively. At the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm Glass was 5th before pointing his equipe in the direction of Perth, 3940 Km to the west, for the Australian Grand Prix.

1962 Australian Grand Prix, Caversham, WA…

Beautiful shot of the Glass P48 ‘482’ Buick during the 1962 AGP at Caversham WA. It really does look a picture (K Devine)

 

Cars line up- in grid order prior to the AGP start- Glass BRM P48 Buick, #9 Patterson Cooper T51 Climax, #5 Youl Cooper T55 Climax, #4 Davison Cooper T53 Climax, Brabham’s light blue Brabham BT4 Climax, you can just see the #6 on the nose of Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T55 Climax and with the gold nose, winner, Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax at the end. The gaggle of drivers behind Pattersons white Cooper is Glass, Lex Davison and Bill Patterson in the white polo-shirt. Look really hard and you can see Bruce Mc with his hands in his pockets between his and Jack’s car- praps its JB in the white cap beside Bruce (K Devine)

 

Brabham DNF, Stillwell 3rd and McLaren 1st. Then Youl 2nd, and Davison 8th in red. The red car behind Davo is Glass 5th- the red front-engine car is Syd Negus Cooper T20 Bristol 6th and the dark car far left is Jeff Dunkerton’s Lotus Super 7 Ford 9th. F Libre race remember (K Devine)

The November, Caversham AGP, was a corker of a race won by Bruce McLaren’s new Cooper T62 Climax. The battle for supremacy between McLaren and Brabham in Jack’s also new BT4 Climax (based on the Brabham BT3 F1 machine) was a beauty until Brabham and Glass collided on lap 50. Jack retired and Arnold was 5th

Arnold had virtually zero rear vision with the big engine cowl fitted ‘Brucie came past and Jack was right behind him- I had no idea he was there at all, Jack made a lunge, I took the apex, and bang, we collided…We were friends before and we’ve stayed friends ever since- but it was a little fraught at the time.’

Jack zigged, Arnold zagged and kaboomba…Brabham’s BT4 exits the corner (which?) under power and ranges in upon Glass’s BRM- I wonder if this is the fateful lap. Interesting shot of Caversham’s topography. Ex RAAF airfield (K Devine)

The BRM Buick was 4 seconds off the pace of McLaren’s pole to give some semblance of relative speed of the 1960 chassis BRM 3.9 pushrod ohv V8 with the very latest 1962 T62 chassis Cooper 2.7 FPF dohc motor.

Remember that Australasian elite single-seater racing was contested to Formula Libre until the Tasman 2.5 Formula was adopted from 1 January 1964. Glass’s aluminium V8 engined BRM was a very clever ‘F5000’ in 1962!

Lex Davison and Arnold Glass chewing the fat in the Symmons Plains, Tasmania, paddock in 1961. Car probably one of Lex’ Coopers (K Thompson)

Lakeside, P48 Buick, date uncertain. Butt shots of the car rare as hens teeth in Buick form- note air intakes neatly fitted to the engine cover, fitted to both sides and the ‘bacon slicer’, P27 BRM transaxle fitted to the V8- it must have been very marginal in this and subsequent supercharged Ford V8 applications, to say the least. Glass in Dunlop suit @ right- wonder who the other driver is? Neato Rice Trailer- as good a rig as their was in Oz @ the time (Lakeside)

Glass shipped the car to New Zealand for the 1963 Internationals but he was unable to drive after a water skiing accident so lent it to Kiwi Ross Jensen to race at Pukekohe in early February. Talented Jensen won a preliminary and the ten lap feature race. Nye records that Jack Brabham tested the car briefly at Levin. It would have been the only other P48 he drove since testing the prototype car ‘481’ at Goodwood in late 1959.

Bruce McLaren in the black shirt susses Glass’ immaculate BRM Buick ‘482’ in the ’63 NZ GP paddock, Pukekohe. If only he had raced it! Remember, he and Jack tested P48 ‘481’ way back in late 1959 (A Dick)

Back in Australia, Glass raced it at Lowood, Queensland in June but soon after broke his arm and placed the car on the market. ‘ I realised I was just screwing around so bought a good ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 off John Youl.’

The car was advertised in June/July 1963 and bought by South Australians Jo Steele and John Allison. The ‘Scarab’ Buick V8 went to Bib Stillwell for his Cooper Monaco as an FPF replacement and an engine went to Don Fraser who fitted it to his Cooper ‘Lowline’ and later into one of the Cicadas he built with Doug Trengove. This car was raced in Gold Star events into 1970. Another engine slated for a speedboat powered a Speedcar raced by John Hughes. Both engines found their way to the UK- the Fraser engine and ‘box to Tom Wheatcroft and John Hughes engine to Robs Lamplough.

BRM Ford ‘482’ with its proud creator/drivers, young Adelaide bucks John Allison left and Jo Steele (BRM2)

The BRM Ford as converted was a cohesive bit of engineering technically and aesthetically, Adelaide (BRM2)

Steele, an engineer who later worked for Firestone in the UK and Allison, a Castrol employee fitted the P48 with a Ford 260 cid V8 which was dry-sumped and then had bolted to it a GM4-71 supercharger. The car was modified further but only in that the cars rear wheels, 6 inches wide were fitted to the front and the fronts widened to 8 inches were fitted at the rear. A simple aluminium casting was made to mate Ford V8 engine to BRM P27 gearbox.

In this form, on 30 March 1964 the BRM ‘482’ Ford V8 made its debut at the scene of ‘485’s demise- Mallala! They raced it throughout 1964 at Mallala in June, October and December, a highlight was finishing in 4th in the South Australian Road Racing Championship in June.

John Allison recalled the car in a discussion with Doug Nye ‘I can only recall one race it didn’t win (due to failure of the motorbike chain driving the supercharger). My abiding memory of the car was its EVIL rear end, the early revelation being that, whilst driving sideways is a very effective way to impress the girls, it was bloody dangerous in something like that…The brakes were dreadful…but its straightline performance just wasn’t fair on the local competition at the time, which made up for all these shortcomings plus our very inexperienced driving.’

In June/July 1965 the two South Aussies took the car to the UK where Steele had organised a transfer via Castrol. In the UK they stiffened the chassis and lengthened the wheelbase by four inches in the front chassis bay. Allison sold his share in the car to Steele who raced in Libre events at Mallory, Snetterton and Silverstone before selling it.

A couple of owners later it was advertised in an August 1971 issue of Autosport, the purchaser, Tom Wheatcroft. In a ‘back to birth’ conversion the chassis’s P25 bits and bobs were stripped and used in the Donington Collection’s three car run of P25’s.

The remains of the car- chassis, body, wheels, block, shocks and some suspension bits were sold to Anthony Mayman via a Brooks auction. He engaged Hall & Fowler to restore/create a P25 from the bits, in 2003 the P25 and chassis of good ‘ole ‘482’ were owned by Bruce McCaw in the US.

P48 in the Reims paddock 1960, with the ‘bacon slicer’ rear brake being attended to. Note the progressively rising top chassis rail to locate the top mounts of the MacPherson Strut rear suspension. FPT fuel cell clear, note the exhaust/induction sides of this engine is different, as in correct, compared to the car pictured below at the same meeting

Design, Construction and Technical Specifications of the P48…

 The mid-engined revolution was in full swing throughout 1958/9, the full extent of the rout obvious once Coventry Climax built a new block for the FPF to alow John Cooper to compete at the class capacity limit of 2.5 litres.

BRM responded by building a mid-engined parts bin special, what Bruce McLaren called a ‘whoosh-bonk’ car using many existing off the shelf components, namely the P25’s engine, transmission, brakes and other componentry which was assembled into a simple multi-tubular spaceframe chassis.

Alfred Owen approved Peter Berthon’s request to build such a car after Bonnier’s P25 Zandvoort win in 1959 whereupon Berthon briefed senior draftsman Aubrey Woods to set down layouts for the frame and suspension.

The P25 engine had to be modified to fit the rear of a chassis with its magnetos being driven by belts instead of the crank gears. The P25 cars BRM P27 four-speed gearbox, complete with single ‘bacon-slicer’ disc brake then bolted onto the rear of the engine via a new bellhousing designed fit for purpose.

MacPherson Strut suspension was used at the rear and P25 ‘256’ dismantled to provide parts inclusive of its frame- the front section of which was hacked off and welded on to ‘481’s otherwise new frame. The result was ‘flexible’ but ready, shaken down at Folkingham by Ron Flockhart it travelled to Monza for the ’59 Italian GP weekend.

There the car ran in official practice and for three days before and after the meeting with Jo Bonnier, Ron Flockhart and Harry Schell reporting favourably about the car despite problems with leaking fuel tanks cracked by flexure in the frame…

The shortcomings of ‘481’s frame were addressed back at base by adding fillet tubes into the main frame intersections and some tubes were relocated to reduce their unsupported runs through the frame sides. These mods added 4 lbs in weight but stiffened the frame from around 850 lbs/ft/degree to 1800 lbs/ft/degree. These improvements were built into the ‘production’ frames which followed.

When the prototype ‘481’ was continuously tested the mid-engined car was tested back-to-back with P25’s to get baseline times with a car which by then was equal to the best of the ‘old paradigm ‘ front-engine designs.

Argentinian GP grid 1960- last works race for the P25’s, Graham Hill awaits the off, Q3 and DNF overheating, the race won by McLaren’s Cooper T51 Climax. #26 is Phil Hill’s Ferrari Dino 246

Sir Alfred Owen ultimately determined the direction Bourne was to take by letter on 17 November 1959 in which he said all of the cars the team raced in 1960 would be mid-engined. The exception proved to be the first round in Argentina with Jo Bonnier finishing 4th and Graham Hill DNF with overheating- the cars proved their pace by qualifying 4th and 3rd.

At the time of Owen’s edict six chassis were laid down in Stan Hope’s build-shop and all of the P25’s, with the exception of Bonnier’s ’59 Zandvoort winning chassis, were stripped of their mechanical elements to build up the P48’s for the final year of the wonderful 2.5 litre formula.

Whilst the first production car built ‘482’, using parts donated by P25 ‘257’ was completed ‘481’ continued a very extensive testing program including, amazingly, laps by both Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren, both Cooper drivers of course! in October 1959. BRM were keen to get the impressions of experienced practitioners of the mid-engined art. These tests, fully documented in ‘BRM 2’ by Doug Nye are  a story in themselves. Click here for a wonderful snippet;

https://www.goodwood.com/grrc/columnists/doug-nye/2017/9/doug-nye-when-racers-were-honed-at-goodwood/

‘481’ long testing program ended when it was finally put aside when ‘482’ first ran on 23 March 1960 at Goodwood- there Jo Bonnier and Dan Gurney joined the test team for the first time- to this point the continuous winter testing program had been carried out by Ron Flockhart and Graham Hill.

BRM Chief Mechanic Phil Ayliffe tends the Bonnier P48 ‘484’ during the 1960 French GP weekend @ Reims. Great general layout shot and rear suspension detail- MacPherson Strut, inverted lower wishbone and low mounted roll bar. ‘Box is BRM P27 4 speed and 2.5 litre engine ‘2597’ is fitted. Note that Getty have processed this film ‘arse about’ the induction and exhaust are reversed in this shot to the way they were built- I’ve included them such is their clarity

The P48 was a simple, sparse, lightweight spaceframe chassis with P25 double wishbone front suspension and MacPherson or was that Chapman(!?) Strut rear suspension with each strut located by a single lateral lower wishbone and a single radius rod, anchored forward on the chassis frame.

The frame at the rear was high to provide top spring/damper mounts for each strut. The chassis used 1.5 inch 17 swg tube bottom rails and 1.25 inch 17 swg top rails and diagonals in the side bays. The beautiful body was made inhouse of course, of magnesium alloy and fully detachable. Steering was P25 rack and pinion.

By this stage the all alloy 2497cc (102.87X74.93mm bore/stroke) gear driven DOHC, 2 valve, Lucas magneto sparked, dual Weber 58 DCOE carbed engine developed about 272 bhp @ 8,500 rpm and 210 lb.ft of torque at 6,000 rpm.

The BRM Type P27 4 speed gearbox was also used complete with the ‘box mounted single rear disc brake. What had worked acceptably on the front-engined P25 was not so effective on the P48 with so much of the cars mass now disposed at the rear of the car.

10 1/2 inch disc brakes and forged alloy wheels were by traditional supplier Dunlop, as of course were the tyres- 5.50-15 inch front and 7.00-15 inch rears.

Reims 1960- Hill’s P48 ‘485’ at rest. Note front suspension which is P25 derived upper and lower wishbones, LH change location (GP Library)

By the time the season started an enormous amount of testing had been done at a variety of circuits with a chassis setup which most of the drivers agreed was good.

The game-changer however, was Chapman’s multi-category Lotus 18 which was simply ‘the car of 1960’- Cooper won the title again that year with their T53 Climax ‘Lowline’ but it was more about reliability than sheer speed. Not that reliability isn’t a valuable commodity, mind you.

The pace of the Lotus was apparent from the first race of the season, the non-championship Glover Trophy at Goodwood in May. Innes Ireland won the event with Gurney and Hill Q7 and Q9 for DNF crash and 5th- the hopes of pre-season testing were blown away by the pace of both the new Cooper T53 and especially the Lotus 18- its weak point the ‘Queerbox’ Lotus sequential transmission.

A test session at Snetterton where Tony Rudd fitted a range of rear anti-roll bars transformed the handling of the car- such fitment was made without his boss, Peter Berthon’s knowledge.

GH in P48 ‘485’, on its race debut, chasing Chris Bristow’s Cooper T51 in the early laps at Zandvoort 1960. Hill Q5 and 3rd- Dan crashed after brake failure killing a youth spectating from a restricted area (B Cahier)

The season started poorly with a whole raft of mechanical and engineering problems including handling, brakes, clutch, engine, cracked and breaking rear hub assemblies which all came to a head at the Dutch Grand Prix weekend, or more specifically a meeting at the Bouwes Hotel at Zandvoort on the Sunday night. The meeting was attended by Sir Alfred Owen, his sister Jean and her husband Louis Stanley and drivers Bonnier, Gurney and Hill. Gurney killed a spectator watching from a restricted area after brake failure so emotions were running high.

During this epiphany, the drivers, especially Dan Gurney and Graham Hill expressed complete disatisfaction in the way the team was managed and run particularly the old-stagers and team founders Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon who it was felt were completely out of touch with the ways of modern racing and team management.

Graham Hill pressed the case of Berthon’s assistant Tony Rudd to both manage the engineering and changes to the team’s cars at meetings as well as lead the design and engineering of the cars going forward.

Sir Alfred Owen, after much discussion, including listening to the contributions of Mays and Berthon who joined the discussion after attending another meeting about start money, in essence agreed with and made the changes advocated by the drivers albeit Mays remained Race Director responsible for driver contracts and the like and Berthon was to continue as Chief Engineer.

Rudd was empowered to make changes to both the existing P48’s suspension set-up which gave immediate speed and predictability. He started the build of the P48 Mk2- a four wheel disc, wishbones all around, lower chassis car in a corner of the workshop to test his theories of the shortcomings of the current P48 cars chassis and suspension design and geometry.

Owens decisions were defining and seminal in terms of the next decades successes and adventures under Tony Rudd’s brilliant leadership. H16 ‘engineering hubris’ and its consequent loss of engineering direction duly noted!

Before the Spa weekend new rear hubs and front wishbones were designed and built for each of the drivers existing P48’s. The result was immediate-Hill went like a jet in the race and was pulling in race leader Jack Brabham until he experienced a major engine failure which carved the block in half, ruining a great run.

BRM had three drivers that season- Jo Bonnier, Dan Gurney and Graham Hill, in that order of perceived seniority at the seasons outset. It soon became clear that GH was the fastest, the best test pilot and a driver with mechanical sympathy.

Bonnier generally qualified better than Dan and finished more often whereas Gurney had a shocker of a season with the car constantly failing under him with a myriad of problems- including the brake failure at Zandvoort. The reality is that Gurney had limited opportunity to display his pace, evident at Oporto for example because the car failed under him so often.

The Class of 1960- Cooper T53, Lotus 18 and BRM P48- Brabham, Moss and Gurney ‘486’, then Bonnier ‘484’ and Innes Ireland Lotus 18 in the early laps of the 1960 USGP @ Riverside. Moss won from Innes and Bruce McLaren in a Cooper T53, then Jack (D Friedman)

The best results for the year in terms of qualifying speed sometimes, if not finishes, with the winner of each event listed in brackets is as follows- BRDC Intl Trophy Silverstone Hill Q3 (Ireland Lotus 18), Dutch GP Hill Q5 3rd (Brabham Cooper T53), Belgian GP Hill Q5 3rd (Brabham T53), French GP Reims Hill Q3 (Brabham T53), British GP Silverstone Hill Q2 and led the race till he goofed (Brabham T53), Silver City Trophy Brands Hill Q4 2nd (Brabham T53), Portuguese GP Oporto Gurney Q2 (Brabham T53), Lombank Trophy Snetterton Hill Q1 Bonnier Q3 (Ireland Lotus 18) , International Gold Cup Oulton Park Hill Q4 3rd (Moss Lotus 18) US GP Riverside Bonnier Q4 5th, Gurney Q3

The results were woeful, with the benefit of hindsight the team should have run 1 less car and concentrated on a higher level of consistent preparation- they learned too slowly, after all the team was hardly a newcomer. Doug Nye ‘…This kind of careless or incompetent fitting (he was referring to a simple clutch throw out adjustment) had long dogged BRM. The team had many fine tradesmen, highly skilled mechanics, simply good people. But as the litany of race-losing failures went on, year after year, even their staunchest ally has to question their practises…’

Gurney was off to Porsche as fast as he could run- it was easily his worst season in F1, and his own Eagle Weslake adventures were not without challenge. Graham was very much on the upward curve, Bonniers speed, was then better than I had anticipated before researching the season, but he had peaked in reality at GP level.

Hill on his way to 2nd in P48 ‘485’, Silver City Trophy, Brands Hatch on 1 August 1960. Moss won from pole in the Walker Lotus 18 Climax (Getty)

Dan Gurney in ‘BRM 2’ on Ferrari and BRM…

‘Before I joined BRM I had served only one season in F1 with Ferrari, and it is obvious now that in my inexperience I’d really had no idea of just how rugged and durable the Ferrari (Dino 246) was’.

‘I really had not appreciated that you couldn’t just get into any Grand Prix car and simply drive your head off the way you could with a Ferrari. With them you could just roll up your sleeves and race as hard as you know and you’d usually finish races.’

‘Even with all the tenderness you could summon up, it never seemed quite enough to bring the BRM right through a race. Even so the BRM engine had a fatter mid-range than the Ferrari, and if it stayed together- even in the front engined car (P25) – it could have seen off the Ferrari on most circuits. The Ferrari had a tiny advantage on ultimate top end, but more often than not the BRM could meet it on lap times. Since the BRM engine was stronger than the Climax also, we should have been in pretty good shape all season in 1960- but it’s perpetual delicacy had ruined our season’.

‘On handling, the BRM’s were not generally as forgiving as the Ferrari’s, even though their ultimate limits were about the same. Even the front-engined BRM had a nasty streak in it, I think, like if you got it too far sideways, it could easily get away from you’.

‘The rear engined car was better perhaps, once it was sorted out, and it was certainly strong enough and good enough to lead races- as Graham had proved at Silverstone- and as I managed to do at Oporto, over the cobblestones and tramlines. I remember enjoying the way I snookered Jack Brabham there in his Cooper…but then the car would break, and it just broke time after time, and for a driver there is nothing more demoralizing as feeling you will never finish a race…’

At the 1960 F1 seasons end, chassis ‘485’ Hill and ‘486’ Gurney and ‘484’ Bonnier were shipped to California for the US GP at Riverside, qualifying 3rd Gurney, 4th Bonnier and 11th Hill.

Jo finished 5th whilst Dan retired with overheating and Graham had a gearbox problem. Then the cars were sent south to New Zealand, which is about where we came in…

Beautifully built but somewhat fragile BRM P48- rear suspension as above and THAT brake- very overstressed in this application as a consequence of far more weight on the rear of the car compared with the front engined P25. Reims, Bonnier P48 ‘484’. This photo is also ‘arse about’

 BRM P48 Chassis List…

Doug Nye wrote a summary of the cars which was posted on The Nostalgia Forum in 2003. I have in some cases truncated, and in other cases added to DCN’s original narrative. The then current owners have most likely changed but that information is of far less relevance than the chassis’ ‘in period’ history. Any errors are mine.

P48 ‘First Series’

481 – strut-rear suspension, 3-brake (just the ‘bacon slicer’ on tail of gearbox at rear) never raced, but practiced at Monza in September 1959 prototype. Scrapped.

482 – strut-rear suspension, 3-brake car. Did much early 1960 pre-season season testing driven by Hill, Gurney and Bonnier. The replacement Arnold Glass chassis after write-off of his original ‘485’ at Mallala in 1961. Fitted with the ex-Scarab RE Coon/Travers modified Buick V8 engine in mid-1962, owned by ‘everybody and his brother’, Ford V8 engine – cannibalised by Tom Wheatcroft’s team for the front-engined BRM Type 25 recreation program. Still exists

483 – strut-rear suspension, 3-brake car – written-off after Dan Gurney’s 1960 Dutch GP accident (teenage boy spectator standing in a prohibited area was killed) Scrapped

484 – strut-rear suspension, 3-brake car. Jo Bonnier 1960-season F1 car, returned to Bourne after the 1960 US GP, converted to Mark II wishbone rear suspension and 4 outboard brakes instead of 1 outboard on each front wheel and the ‘bacon-slicer’ on the back of the gearbox at the rear. Graham Hill’s 1961 InterContinental Formula works car – Sold to Tony Marsh – NOTE 484 not 483 was the Marsh car – Marsh, Ken Wilson, Jack Alderslade, John Scott-Davies, cannibalised by Wheatcroft for front-engined BRM Type 25 recreation program- stripped and returned to The BRM Collection at Bourne – sold by them in the October 1981, auction at Earl’s Court Motorfair, London. In process of slow restoration with Bruce and Guy Spollon, UK. Still exists

485 – strut-rear suspension, 3-brake car – the chassis in which Graham Hill came so close to winning the 1960 British GP- the first Arnold Glass car, written off before he could race it, during private session at Mallala, South Australia. Returned to Bourne. Scrapped

486 – strut-rear suspension, 3-brake car – Dan Gurney’s late-season 1960 car – winner at Ballarat, Australia, 1961 – this is the Ray Fielding hill-climb car 1962-63, Sir John Townley, Brian Waddilove, Mike Stow, cannibalised by Stow for his original front-engined BRM Type 25 recreation program (which pre-dated Wheatcroft’s) – to Robs Lamplough UK – survives stripped, knackered – unrestored today. Still exists

P48 Mk2

487 – The prototype Mark II wishbone rear suspension 4-brake car – from Bourne in 1962 to Phil Scragg for hill-climbing pending delivery of his Chaparral-Chevrolet ordered from Midland, Texas. Once that beast arrived Scragg sold this car to Tony Griffiths. Winter 1965-66 sold to Wheatcroft. Tom has preserved car in complete order ever since, in the Donington Collection since the museum opened. Still exists

Beautiful shot of a P48 in the nuddy sans bodywork but with engine/gearbox inner cover. Note the MacPherson strut, inverted lower wishbone, single leading radius rod, low mounted roll bar and of course THAT single overstressed Dunlop ‘bacon slicer’ disc brake! All beautifully made if not conceptually perfect (unattributed)

The Competitor Set…

I’ve made mention throughout the article of the Cooper T53 and Lotus 18, respectively the World Champion car and ‘F1 Car of The Year’. Here are some great photos by Dave Friedman taken at Monaco (T53) and Zandvoort (18).

The relative engineering sophistication of the Lotus 18 is clear in terms of its chassis. However ‘edgy’ Chapman’s sequential gearbox was, it was also the cars Achilles heel- which left the evolutionary, John Cooper, Owen Maddock and Jack Brabham designed, built and sorted T53 to take championship honours.

The ultimate GP car of 1960 would have been a Lotus 18 FPF to which was bolted a Cooper C5S gearbox- Moss would have disappeared into the sunset with such a car!

Lotus 18 Climax FPF 2.5..

(D Friedman)

 

(D Friedman)

Cooper T53 Climax FPF 2.5 ‘Lowline’..

(D Friedman)

 

(D Friedman)

Etcetera…

So, ‘wots doin’after the race big boy?’ Local talent and Gurney in the Warwick Farm paddock February 1961 (B Britton)

 

Shot of Chuck Daigh in the Scarab RE Buick V8 to show the car which donated the engine for the Glass P48 ‘482’. Here leaving the line at the start of the Sandown International on 12 March 1962, he was 4th- to his left is Austin Miller’s yellow Cooper T51 Chev 4.6 V8 (a story in itself) and Bill Patterson’s Cooper T51 Climax (J Ellacott)

 

G Hill in ‘485’ chasing Brabham’s Cooper T53 during his epic race- from last to first- the ’61 British GP @ Silverstone (M Turner)

 

The #2 Bonnier P48 ‘484’and #4 Gurney ‘483’ cars at Monaco 1960. Bonnier led in the early stages, DNF upright, ditto Gurney with the same problem (D Friedman)

 

The crowd enjoying the rumble of a big V8- Glass, Caversham 1962, such a pretty jigger. What would have been interesting is how fast it would have been in the hands of Jack or Bruce- with time for them to sort it a bit. Front row? Probably? (K Devine)

 

BRM P48 Buick V8- I know what the caption means but the car is not powered by a Scarab 4 cylinder GP motor but an ex-Intercontinental Formula Scarab RE Buick V8 (K Devine)

Bibliography…

‘Arnold Glass and His BRM’ thread on The Nostalgia Forum, oldracingcars.com

‘BRM Volume 2’ Doug Nye- if you have this tome re-read it!, if not buy it. I have quoted extensively from this brilliant book, all unattributed quotes in this article are from Nye’s epic of detailed research

Photo Credits…

John Ellacott, Ken Devine Collection, Kevin Drage, Getty Images/The GP Library, Bob Britton, Dave Friedman Archive, Bernard Cahier, Allan Dick, Autosportsman, Keverall Thomson, Lakeside Racing Books

Tailpiece: Engineering artistry: The world’s most expensive smallgoods slicer…

P48, Warwick Farm 1961 (K Drage)

Finito…

 

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori all set to go in the Longford paddock before winning the 5 March 1961 ‘Longford Trophy’ aboard his ‘Ecurie Vitesse’ (Jack Brabham) Cooper T51 Climax…

These wonderful photos at Longford during the long, languid, hot Tasmanian summer of 1961 were taken by John Richardson who was a Shell Representative for Northern Tasmania and therefore had the ability to prowl the pits and form-up area. His son Greg recalls the meeting ‘I was only 6 at the time and memories get a little hazy. But I will never forget sitting on a 44 gallon drum in the pits and that wonderful almondy smell of the racing fuel and the noise, it was pretty amazing stuff for a little kid’.

The sort of experience which hooks you on the sport for life…

Jack on the front row beside John Youl, Coopers T53 and T51 Climax- behind is the unmistakeable yellow T51 of Austin Miller- alongside Aussies right-rear you can only just see a bit of Lex Davo’s Aston Martin DBR4 (J Richardson)

Very Black Jack- look at the ‘tache and beard- has not shaved for 24 hours. Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’ (J Richardson)

Roy had better luck in Australia than he did in New Zealand- there he raced a Yeoman Credit Lotus 18 Climax at Ardmore, Levin, Wigram and Teretonga, his best a second place at Teretonga. He had gearbox problems twice and a leaking radiator in the other events.

He then crossed the Tasman Sea to Australia and raced the Cooper used by Ron Flockhart that Australasian season- in Tasmania and two International races a day apart at the new Hume Weir circuit outside Albury on the New South Wales/Victoria border. He was fourth in one, DNF the other, both races were won by Brabham’s Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’, the car photographed above.

During my formative years of interest in motor racing, devouring all of the books we all did on the history of the sport Roy Salvadori was ominpresent in publications on the British scene- where he seemed to race anything which had wheels in multiple events at the same national meeting, and also competing in International events.

Maserati 4CM, Jersey 29 April 1948, 7th in the race won by Bob Gerard’s ERA B Type (unattributed)

Whilst his surname is decidedly Italian exotic Roy was very much a Brit, born in Essex of Italian parents…

Well known as the winner at Le Mans aboard an Aston DBR1 together with Carroll Shelby in 1959 he was also very handy aboard single-seaters and is rightfully on the list of those talented enough, but unfortunate not to win a championship Grand Prix.

The highly skilled all-rounders best F1 season was in 1958, when he was second in the German Grand Prix, third in the British and fourth in the drivers’ championship aboard a Cooper T45, the title won that year by another quintessential British driver of the fifties, Mike Hawthorn in Ferrari Dino 246’s. Cooper were not of course using Coventry Climax FPF engines of 2.5 litres that season, making the performance even more meritorious.

Roy Francesco Salvadori was born on 12 May 1922  in Dovercourt, Essex. After leaving school he joined his father’s refrigeration business before starting to trade in cars, running his own garage in Tolworth, Surrey by the age of seventeen. The War put paid to early plans to race but as soon as the war was over he responded to an advertisement for an MG sportscar only to find that the car in question was the R Type pre-war single-seater- a deal was quickly done.

Jack #24 and Roy, Pescara GP 18 August 1957. Cooper T43 Climax, 7th and DNF in 2 litre cars in the race won by the Moss Vanwall VW57 (Cahier)

The R Type MG was entered in the very first race meeting post-war at RAF Gransden (Gransden Lodge) on 15 June 1946 with Roy the second of two finishers in a three car race! He progressed quickly to a Riley Special and then a 50% share in a 2.9 litre Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 said to have been owned by Tazio Nuvolari.

In May 1947 he entered it in the Grand Prix des Frontières at Chimay, Belgium, and, though the car was stuck in top gear from the first lap, finished fifth. Prince Bira won the race in a Maser 4CL.

He soon sold the P3 and bought a Maserati 4CM finishing 7th in the Jersey Road Race in April, contested the British Empire Trophy in May, DNF and later the 1948 British GP at Silverstone finishing 8th in the race won by Gigi Villoresi’s Maserati 4CLT.

In 1949, he again raced in the British GP, Q23, DNF . He was 5th in his heat and 17th in the final of the August International Trophy at Silverstone and wrote off a Maserati 4CL at the Curragh track in Ireland during the September Wakefield Trophy. 1950 was a year of rebuilding the finances and finding a competitive tool- the plucky motor-trader settled on a Frazer-Nash Le Mans sportscar.

Roy ahead of a group of XK120’s, date and circuit unknown, 1951 probably (unattributed)

Salvadori’s first meeting in the ‘Nash was the Daily Express International meeting at Silverstone.

Interviewed in MotorSport in 2008 Salvadori said ‘I was leading, a big thing for me then, ahead of Bob Gerard, Tony Crook and the other Frazer-Nashes. So I was feeling pretty good about life…We came up to lap a group of slower cars which were having their own battle. I tried to overtake them all, but it couldn’t be done’. He ran wide, hit the marker barrels- oil filled drums and cartwheeled down the road, his foot was stuck in the steering wheel spokes, as a consequence he was flung about like a rag doll as the car overturned. Roy suffered a triple fracture of his head- wearing no helmet and had severe brain haemorrhaging. ‘At Northhampton Hospital they decided they could do nothing for me, and pushed me into a corner. They rang my parents and told them I was unlikely to be alive by the time they got there’. A priest was summoned and gave him the last rites.

Salvadori was back in a car three months later. His only permanent legacy of the monster shunt was deafness in one ear.

Roy acquired the 1950 model Jag XK120 (above) and first raced it at Boreham in August 1951. He had much success in the car over the next 12 months racing it against the similar machines of people like Duncan Hamilton and of course many other marques. A more serious machine was the Grand Prix Alta 1.5 s/c of H Webb with which he contested the Boreham Mail Trophy race in July for a DNF.

RS aboard Bobby Baird’s Ferrari 500 F2/GP machine at Castle Combe in 1952. Lampredi 4 cylinder, 2 valve, DOHC Weber fed dual World Championship winning engine front and centre (Simon Lewis)

With his speed and enthusiasm undiminished he was soon in demand to drive other peoples cars, he raced the Jag on into mid-1952 before selling it to Peter Blond. The Frazer-Nash was repaired and raced at Ibsley in April, the car again crashed.

A significant breakthrough were a series of drives in Irish press-baron heir Bobby Baird’s Ferrari 500 2 litre F2/GP car. In an impressive performance he was Q19 and 8th in a field of 31 cars at the Silverstone British GP.

In August he raced a Ferrari 166 (Baird’s?) in the Daily Mail Trophy at Boreham but withdrew after 21 laps. Back in the Ferrari 500, at  the Daily Graphic Goodwood Trophy in September, he was 6th and a month later he drove the car to victory in the Joe Fry Memorial Trophy at Castle Combe.

In mid September Roy contested the GP di Modena in a Cooper T20 Bristol, crashing the car in the race won by Villoresi’s Ferrari 500.

Salvo’s speed in a variety of cars- his versatility clear even then and ability to handle the demanding GP Ferrari lead to an invitation to join the Connaught team for 1953 to contest GP events in the Lea-Francis four-cylinder engined cars.

Camp Connaught, French GP Reims 1953. #42 Bira DNF diff, #50 Salvadori DNF ignition, #48 Johnny Claes 12th. Look carefully and you can see the Prince speaking to Alfred Neubauer in the background. Mike Hawthorn won this famous race after a titanic long dice with Fangio, Ferrari 500 and Maser A6GCM respectively (G Phillips)

The Connaught A Type was a very competitive tool in British national events, Roy’s best results second placings in the Lavant Cup Goodwood, BRDC International Trophy Silverstone, Crystal Palace Trophy and Newcastle Journal Trophy at Charterhall. In September he won the Madgwick Cup at Goodwood from Stirling Moss’ Cooper Alta.

In championship Grands Prix the pickings were much slimmer- he failed to finish all of the events he contested, the Dutch, French, British, German and Italian GP’s. The problem was the cars reliability not Roy’s speed- he qualified 11th, 13th and 14th at Zandvoort, the Nurburgring and Monza respectively for example.

In 1953 he joined Aston Martin in sportscars- although the focus of this article is single-seaters not his two-seater programs.

For 1954 he made the sensible decision to drive a Maserati 250F for Sid Greene’s Gilby Engineering team, the very best 2.5 litre customer GP car of the period. With it he won the Curtis Trophy at Snetterton, was second in the Lavant Cup, BARC F1 race and third in the Goodwood Trophy (all at Goodwood). The Gilby lads took the Maser across the channel to contest the French GP at Reims where Roy was Q10 but had a half-shaft failure. Back at Silverstone for the British GP he was a wonderful Q7 of 28 on a circuit at which he always excelled but had a transmission failure on lap 7.

Roy aboard the Gilby Engineering Maser 250F ‘2507’ at Silverstone in 1954. Too funny finding this shot- when I first became interested in racing someone gave me this very shot as a postcard without identification. I knew enough to know it was a 250F- and the driver looked ‘Eyetalian’ but I could never work out who it was back then! (Tom March)

Still in the first flush of youth, he raced the Gilby Maser ‘2507’ on into 1955 with wins in the Glover Trophy and Curtis Trophy at Goodwood and Snetterton respectively. He qualified first and finished second behind the Collins 250F at the International Trophy, Silverstone.

The 11 April Goodwood meeting says everything about Salvadori’s speed, versatility and work ethic- he contested six of eight events! He won the Lavant Cup in a Connaught A Type, was second in the Chichester Cup, first in the Richmond Trophy and second in the Easter Handicap all in the 250F. He won the ‘B Sportscar’ race in an Aston DB3S and was fourth in the ‘C Sportscar’ race in a Cooper-Maserati. Wow!

Lavant Cup Meeting Goodwood 11 April 1955. Roy on the way to winning the 7 lap F2 race at Madgwick. Connaught A Type and Cooper Bristol (P Redman)

The team again entered the British GP at Silverstone this time yielding Q20 and DNF due to a gearbox failure.

Into 1956 Roy again raced the Gilby 250F which was getting a little long in the tooth compared to the latest spec works-cars but was still a good thing in national events- he was first in the Vanwall Trophy and Sussex Trophy at Snetterton and Goodwood respectively. Moss won the Glover Trophy at Goodwood in a works 250F ‘2522’ with Roy behind him.

In International events the 250F was 3rd in the GP de Caen and had DNF’s at both Silverstone and the Nurburgring- the British and German GP’s but qualified 7 and 9 to remind everyone of his speed in the old jigger. He was Q14 and 11th- last at Monza.

Success also came in mid-engined F2 Cooper T41 Climaxes with wins in the British GP support event, at Brands in the Bank Holiday meeting and at Oulton in the International Gold Cup F2 race.

Roy awaits the off aboard a Vanwall VW57 before the start of the French GP @ Rouen in 1957. Q6, DNF engine on lap 25- and qualified well clear of the two BRM’s! (unattributed)

A man in demand he signed with BRM for 1957, but after his cars brakes locked solid, causing his retirement from his BRM debut race and then failing to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix, he walked away from the team.

Raymond Mays failed to intervene satisfactorily to improve the P25’s notoriously poor brakes. The P25 became a race winner- it won BRM’s first GP in Jo Bonnier’s hands at Zandvoort in 1959 of course but in 1956/early 1957 it was a problem child. No less than Alex Moulton and Alec Issigonis, Colin Chapman and Piero Taruffi- the latter two track testing the car applied their talents to dealing with the racers many handling, roadholding and braking problems. Leaving BRM at the time was as good an F1 Salvadori decision as being part of Aston’s F1 program in 1959 was a bad one!

Roy continued racing Aston sportscars throughout 1957 and was invited by David Yorke to drive a Vanwall VW57 in the Reims GP in early July, for 5th and in the French GP at Rouen a week later- Q6 and DNF engine. Chapman had of course applied his magic touch in Acton too a year earlier!

German GP paddock 1957: Yep, I can give these barges a run for their money! RS musing about the benefits of his nimble Cooper @ the Nurburgring if not its power. #1 & 2 Maser 250F’s of JMF and Jean Behra. Roys F2 Cooper T43 Climax Q15 and DNF engine in the famous ‘greatest GP of all time’ won by Fangio from the Lancia-Ferrari 801 twins Hawthorn and Collins (Getty)

 

Salvadori chasing Olivier Gendebien’s Ferrari 246 Dino during the 1958 Belgian GP, the Belgian was 6th and Roy 8th in his Cooper T45 Climax. Stirlings’s watches look good! (GP Library)

For the balance of 1957 Roy joined Cooper beside Jack Brabham, the pair racing Cooper T43/45 Climaxes in F2/F1 events. Cooper ran Coventry Climax FPF’s of just under 2 litres in F1 that season, the class capacity limit 2.5 litres from 1954-1960 inclusive. He was 2nd in the GP de Caen and failed to finish the German GP having qualified 14th running a 1475cc FPF as an F2 car within the F1 grid.

Generally Jack did better than Roy in F2 but he won the Woodcote Cup at  Goodwood, and the F2 class of the Daily Express International Trophy, was 2nd in the London Trophy at Crystal Palace and 4th in the Coupe de Vitesse at Reims.

For 1958 Roy stayed with Coopers and had his best season in GP racing as detailed early in this article. In addition to Championship GP events he was also quick in British Internationals taking 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, Glover Trophy at Goodwood and the BARC 200 at Aintree.

Beautiful shot (reader David Fox points out Getty have it ‘the wrong way around’) of Roy’s Aston DBR4/250 at Zandvoort in 1959. Q13 and DNF overheating in the race won by the more modern and developed front-engine BRM P25 of Jo Bonnier- first GP win for them both. The Aston was maybe a potentially winning car in 1957- too late she cried (Getty)

Aston Martin finally got their DBR4 race ready- it was to Roy’s credit that he felt bound to drive it and did so but his first steer of the front-engined bolide would have been enough to indicate that AM had missed the boat relative to the Coopers with which he was now very familiar and had done so well.

It was a backward step indeed. To stay with Coopers would have been the go in 1959 fitted as they were with Coventry Climax FPF’s of 2.5 litres- they won the drivers and constructors titles of course. Roy did more than enough to stay with Cooper in 1959- in ’58 the qualifying record was fairly evenly split between Jack and Roy with the Brit getting far better race results. Oh to have stayed put at Surbiton!

In a fullish GP season he raced Tommy Atkins Cooper T45 Maserati at Monaco and Reims and the Aston DBR4/250 at Zandvoort, Aintree, Monsanto Portugal and at Monza- his best placings 6th in the Monaco, British and Portuguese GP’s. Sixth at Monsanto was 3 laps behind the Moss winning Cooper to give some idea of the relative pace of the new and old paradigms.

In non-championship races he won the London Trophy, was 2nd in the Lavant Cup in a Cooper T43 Climax F2 and frustratingly got a good, long, hard look at the back of Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax finishing 2nd behind him at Silverstone in the Daily Express International Trophy aboard the Aston.

Roy gets into the Essex Racing Stable #4 Aston DBR1 he shared with Tony Maggs at Le Mans in 1961. The Border Reivers #5 the Jim Clark (jumping in) and Ron Flockhart DBR1 is alongside, both cars DNF (unattributed)

Following his 1959 success at Le Mans, in 1960 Salvadori returned to the 24 hour race in another Aston Martin DBR1 beside a very young Jim Clark, finishing a good 3rd behind two Ferraris.

His Grand Prix program in 1960 was limited to the Dutch and British GP’s in Astons for a DNS and DNF- and at Monaco and Riverside in an Atkins Cooper T51 Climax for a DNF and 8th. In Cooper mounted non-championship events he was 3rd in the Oulton Park Trophy and Lavant Cup at Goodwood and 4th in Snetterton’s Lombank Trophy. He won the Lancashire & Cheshire Car Club F2 race at Oulton Park.

After Aston’s withdrawal from GP racing he drove Reg Parnell’s Yeoman Credit Cooper T53 Climax FPF 1.5 litre engine cars in the first year of the new GP formula.

In a great mighta-been drive in the 1961 US GP at Watkins Glen he charged his Cooper T53 Climax FPF from eighth place up to second- closing on Innes Ireland’s leading works Lotus 18 when with five laps to go his engine failed. He was 6th at Aintree and Monza in a season dominated by the squadron of V6 Ferrari 156’s and notable for the brilliance of Stirling Moss in the under-powered Rob Walker Lotuses at Monaco and the Nurburgring.

German GP, Nurburgring 1962. Q9 and DNF suspension in Lola Mk4 Climax V8, winner Hill’s BRM P57 (unattributed)

Roy commenced the 1962 season with a trip to Australasia to race a Bowmaker Cooper T53 Climax with ‘…our first two races cut short because of rain storms and I took a 4th in the NZ GP and 5th in the Hudson Memorial Trophy. In contrast the following weekends Lady Wigram Trophy was held in stiflingly hot conditions and i again finished 5th’ Roy recounts in his biography.

But his tour was cut short with a practice crash at over 130 mph during practice at Warwick Farm on 4 February, the first Australian leg of the tour.

‘At Warwick Farm we were using an improved Dunlop tyre and although Surtees and I had a set each for the race, we had to share a set in practice. Surtees came back into the pits near the end of practice and the mechanics had a frantic rush to transfer the wheels from his car…I charged off from the pits, joined the long (Hume) straight and was approaching the hairpin (Creek Corner) that followed very quickly. As to what happened next I have to rely on what I was told, as I remember nothing of the accident. As I braked for the hairpin the car turned sharp right into a flag marshalling area protected by the sleepers and hit this at about 100 mph. I suffered head injuries, a broken cheekbone and severe facial cuts, the car was a write-off and two marshalls were injured (with broken legs). I was unconscious until the following day…I was later flown back to the UK for further medical treatment…My theory as to the cause of the accident is that we failed to pump up the brakes (a procedure peculiar to the Cooper after a wheel change) and then as I pumped them up quickly for the corner, the right front brake locked’.

Roy in a CT Atkins Cooper T53P Climax at Crystal Palace during the 1961 London Trophy meeting- a race he won. It was a car of this type he crashed at Warwick Farm albeit 2.6 FPF rather than 1.5 FPF as powered here (PA Images)

Roy flew back to Australia for the Sandown Park Trophy on March 11/12- the circuits opening meeting and drove a Lex Davison Cooper, ‘I was far from fit and it was a very stupid thing to do, although it seemed like a good idea at the time! I was slow in practice and in the race retired because of mechanical trouble’.

Warwick Farm and its fallout was hardly a good start to what would be Roy’s final GP season with a Bowmaker Lola alongside John Surtees.

They drove Eric Broadley’s Lola Mk4 Coventry Climax FWMV V8’s with Surtees consistently outpacing the veteran Salvadori who was terribly cramped in the cockpit of the car more suited to the shorter ‘Big John’. He carried this off with dignity with Surtees remarking after Salvadori’s death ‘Roy had always been serious about his motor racing and in my view, never quite realised his full potential as a grand prix driver, mainly because he was waiting in the wings while Aston Martin were being so slow in developing their DBR4 in 1959’.

Roy had shocking luck with unreliability whereas Surtees had a much better time of it and seconds at Aintree and the Nurburgring. There was nothing too wrong with the basic design, Roy’s best qualifying performance was in Germany with Q9.

Roy blasts away from the Goodwood 1960 TT start, Aston DB4GT in pursuit of Stirling Moss who is already outta picture- and won the race in Ferrari 250SWB (LAT)

The time had come though, Roy was 40, it was right to retire from Formula 1 at the seasons end. But he continued to race sports and touring cars with great success, often for his lifelong friend, John Coombs until 1965, when he retired from racing but not before another couple of big accidents- flipping into the lake at Oulton Park after a puncture to his Jaguar Saloon and at Le Mans in 1963 when his E Type Lwt spun on oil dropped by Bruce McLaren’s Aston Martin. He crashed, then Bino Heins was burned to death in his Alpine, Bino  having sought to avoid Jean-Pierre Manzon who was unconscious in the middle of the track having also crashed after losing control on the oil.

Motor racing is and very much was dangerous!

Testing a very early Ford GT40 at Le Mans in 1964- Colotti ‘box, wire wheels all in evidence (unattributed)

Salvadori was also involved in the original Ford GT40 campaign via John Wyer, his friend/Team Manager from Aston Martin. In fact his last race was in a GT40 at Goodwood in 1965 finishing second overall and winning his class.

In 1966 and 1967 he managed the Cooper F1 team, but was still not averse to a steer, doing some of the early test and development work on the new for ’66 3 litre V12 Cooper T81 Maserati at Goodwood. The driving strength included Pedro Rodriguez, John Surtees and Jochen Rindt.

Testing the very first Cooper T81 Maserati in early 1966 at Goodwood. A race winning car and potentially the ’66 champion with an ace behind the wheel from the start of the season. Surtees joined mid-way thru the season after his spat with Ferrari- losing he and the Scuderia a probable championship to canny Jack (Getty)

c’mon Roy, gimme Pedro’s car! Salvo and Jochen Rindt during 1967 (unattributed)

Meanwhile the garage business which funded his racing in the early days had flourished into major BMW and Alfa Romeo dealerships- they were sold to a public company providing the means and tax necessity perhaps for he and his wife Sue to move to Monaco.

His flat overlooking the Grand Prix finishing line became famous for its parties during GP weekends. He died on 3 June 2012 a familiar figure at historic racing gatherings down the decades.

Etcetera…

Wharton and Salvadori, BRM and Maser, Madgwick, Goodwood, Easter Monday 1954…

I was researching the photo above, its before an infamous high speed contretemps between the two Brits and found this piece Doug Nye wrote in his ‘Goodwood Road and Racing’ column in November 2016- here it is in all of its wonderful glory…

‘One of the great personal rivalries that used to be played out – in part – at Goodwood, was the personal antipathy between Roy Salvadori and Ken Wharton. Roy was a supremely self-confident, stylish, charming, debonair, soft-hearted, philanthropic south-London used-car dealer. His race driving philosophy was pretty much no holds barred, and he was always prepared to stick his elbows out and push and shove, or to position his car in such a way on track – as in a braking area or turn-in point for a corner – in which a close-quarters rival would be embarrassed (or intimidated) into giving way, fearing the consequences of contact – which in that period could be utterly horrendous.

Ken Wharton was evidently an almost equally charming, friendly kind of chap out of a racing car’s cockpit. But the Smethwick garage proprietor – who was in the 1950s one of the most versatile of all competition drivers – having been a front-runner in everything from mud-plugging trials to rallying and road racing in cars ranging from tin-top saloons to 500s, Grand Prix cars and the centrifugally-supercharged Formule 1 and Libre V16-cylinder BRMs, had a less armour-plated personality. He was never quite confident that he was really as good as he earnestly wanted, and tried, to be. In the car – especially at BRM when he found himself teamed with Fangio and Gonzalez (two hopes, no hope and Bob Hope) – he could only play second or third fiddle to the true stars of the day. But he plainly felt that Salvadori was not quite from the top drawer either – not a Moss, and most certainly no Fangio, nor Gonzalez. And so should Salvo attempt to assert himself on track against Ken Wharton, than Smethwick Ken would push back.

This became a pretty explosive situation in that era when drivers were not belted into the cockpits of their racing cars, when wire wheels were narrow and racing tyres slim, heavily treaded and easily intertwined should cars clash side-to-side. Competing cars were also quite tall, quite hefty, relatively unstable, and easy to overturn. On the back of the admission ticket or pass were printed the words ‘Motor racing is dangerous’ and in the ’50s that was absolutely and often painfully self-evident.

There was a history between Salvadori and Wharton before the Easter Monday Goodwood race meeting in 1954. The feature Glover Trophy race was run over 21 laps, for Formule Libre cars which set Roy Salvadori’s new Sid Greene-entered Maserati 250F against the V16 BRMs of Ron Flockhart – in the latest short-chassis Mark II variant – and Ken Wharton in the full Grand Prix-spec long-wheelbase V16 Mark I.

Roy squeezing all there was from the little Cooper T45 Climax during the 1958 British GP @ Silverstone. 3rd in the race won by Collins Ferrari Dino 246 (J Ross)

 

Roy alongside Mike Hawthorn and Jean Behra on the front row of the Glover Trophy at Goodwood, Easter 1958. Cooper T45 Climax, Ferrari Dino 246 and BRM P25. In the row behind is Scell’s BRM and Brabham’s #18 Cooper. Mike won from Jack and Roy (J Ross)

 

Reg Parnell, Roy and Carroll Shelby, Le Mans 1959 (unattributed)

 

Roy shared this Aston DBR1 with Jim Clark @ Le Mans in 1960, the Border Reivers entered car was 3rd in the race won by the Ferrari 250TR of Paul Frere and Olivier Gendebien (unattributed)

 

Roy and Les Leston shared this DBR1 @ Le Mans in 1957, DNF oil pipe. Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb won in a Jag D (unattributed)

 

Roy from Graham Hill, Oulton Park GT race in 1961, Hill won with Roy 3rd (unattributed)

 

You can sense the mutual trust and respect between photographer Bernard Cahier and RS in this Monza 1962 shot. Lola Mk4 Climax, Q13 and DNF engine in the race won by Hill’s BRM P57. The Lotus 25 Climax behind is Trevor Taylor’s works machine  (B Cahier)

 

 

Bibliography…

MotorSport article by Simon Taylor in August 2012, ‘The Guardian’ obituary, ‘Goodwood Road and Racing’ column Doug Nye, ‘Goodwood Remembered’ Peter Redman, Stephen Dalton Collection, oldracingcars.com, ‘Roy Salvadori Racing Driver’  Roy Salvadori & Anthony Pritchard, David Fox

Photo Credits…

John Richardson, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, B Cahier, Getty Images- GP Library/PA Images, Pinterest, Simon Lewis Transport Books, LAT, Tom March, George Phillips

Tailpiece: Roy, Aston DBR4, Zandvoort 1959…

Finito…

(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.

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#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)