Posts Tagged ‘Cooper T55 Climax’

(Fistonic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Youl, Cooper T55 Climax (Fistonic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matich in his Lotus 19B Climax…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caveat Emptor…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australian Tourist Trophy 1965…

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

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

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

The accident was 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…

 

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

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

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

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

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(Stephen Page)

Lotus 21: The Forgotten Chapman GP Car?…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, whats the explanation of the photo then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

His Antipodean fans never forgot him though.

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

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

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

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

Bibliography…

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

Photo Credits…

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

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

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(Kevin Drage)

Finito…