Posts Tagged ‘Denny Hulme’

(Ron Laymon)

Denny Hulme caresses his Repco Brabham ‘RB740’ V8 in the Mosport pits during the Canadian GP weekend, August 1967…

As well he should too, it was this engine which powered his Brabham BT24 to victory in that years drivers championship. Mind, you that statement is not entirely correct as Denny used the ’66 engine, ‘RB620’ early in the season as Jack raced the 740, that engine was only used by the Kiwi after Jack deemed it available and raceworthy to him.

In the meantime Denny scored 4th in South Africa and won at Monaco using RB620 V8’s- those results won Denny the title really, Jack was 6th and failed to finish in the same two races. Denny’s 51 points took the title from Jack’s 46 points and Jim Clark with 41.

Clark from Hill during the 1967 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Lotus 49 one-two for a while at least, GH retired with engine failure on lap 64 to end a dismal weekend, he crashed after suspension failure on Saturday. Clark won from Hulme’s BT24 and Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312 (Sutton)

Clark’s 4 wins shaded Jack and Denny with two apiece in the epochal Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth. Any design which is competitive over four seasons, inclusive of drivers and manufacturers title wins (Hill in 1968 and Rindt in 1970) is ‘up there’ in the pantheon of great GP cars. The 49’s first win was Clark’s victory at Zandvoort in ’67 upon the cars debut, its last the result of Jochen Rindt’s stunning tiger drive at Monaco in 1970- at his friend Jack Brabham’s expense, the great Aussie pressured into a famous last lap error by the storming Austrian.

Without doubt the Lotus 49 was the car of 1967, its always said it would have won the title with more reliability that it did not have as a brand new car.

But that simple analysis fails to give credit to the Aussies.

The Brabham BT24 was a ‘brand-spankers’ design as well. Tauranac says that it was only his second ‘clean sheet’ GP design, his first was the BT3 Climax which raced from mid-1962. The GeePee Brabhams which followed were evolutions of that design.

Love these close-up shots. Its Denny’s BT24 and RB740 engine the cam cover of which has been removed to give us a better look. The cars spaceframe chassis is clear- small car for the era. Based on Tauranac’s BT23 F2 design the engine was tightly proportioned and economical of fuel so the package around could also be tight. From the bottom you can see the distinctive ribs of the 700 block below the top suspension radius rod. To its right is an ally tank held in place by a rubber bungy cord, a fuel collector which picks up from the two, one each side, fuel tanks. SOHC, 2 valve V8, circa 330 bhp in period. Cams chain driven. Note the rail carrying coolant behind and above the camshaft. Fuel injection is the ubiquitous, excellent Lucas product, to the left is the top of the Bosch twin-point distributor. In the centre of the Vee is a hornets nest of carefully fabricated exhausts- wonderful examples of tube bending art. Ferrari fitted 12 within the Vee of its engine in a trend common at the time. The idea was to get the pipes outta the breeze and away from suspension members. What a wonderful bit of kit it is (Laymon)

The ‘RB740’ SOHC, 2 valve, ‘between the Vee’ exhaust engine was also a new design. Both the Repco designed, Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation cast ‘700 Series’ block and the ’40 Series’ heads (the heads were cast by Kevin Drage at Clisby Industries in Adelaide) were new. They were completely different to RB620, albeit the 700 block could and was bolted to 20 Series heads and ancillaries when 620’s were rebuilt and its modified Oldsmobile F85 block cast aside as no longer fit for purpose.

Jack and Repco ‘blooded’ or tested the head design in the early 1967 Tasman races but the block was not ready then- the 2.5 litre 1967 Tasman engines were ‘640 Series’, a combination of the ’67 heads and the 1966 modified by Repco, Olds F85 blocks. The first 700 blocks were used in F1, not the Tasman Series. In fact the early ’67 F1 engines used by Jack were 640’s as well. Denny used 620’s early on in ’67, as mentioned above just to add to the confusion!

My point is that the all new Brabham BT24 Repco won 4 races and took the ’67 drivers and manufacturers titles beating the all new Lotus 49 Ford which also won 4 GP’s- Graham Hill was winless in the other 49 that year. (I’ve ignored the 49’s guest drivers in this analysis)

BT24 sans Hewland DG300 during the German GP weekend. Elegant simplicity of the design laid bare. Spaceframe chassis, rear suspension comprising single top link, inverted lower wishbone, coil spring/damper, twin radius rods and an adjustable roll bar. Eagle eyed Aussies may note the ‘Lukey Muffler’ tipped exhausts (unattributed)

It could also be said that the 49 chassis design was not really all new- the 1966 Lotus 43 is identical in layout inclusive of suspension and using the BRM H16 engine as a stressed member, as the Ford DFV was.

So whaddam I saying?

That the spaceframe Brabham BT24 Repco combination was ‘newer’ than the monocoque Lotus 49 Ford which was really the 43 chassis design, suitably lightened and modified to carry the DFV, a much lighter and fuel efficient moteur than the sensational but corpulent, complex BRM engine. Let the correspondence begin! Here is a link to my Lotus 43 BRM article, form a view yourselves.

Tell me in a conceptual sense how the 49 chassis and suspension differs from the 43? There was plenty of Ford funded PR hoopla around the Lotus 49, we have all seen the footage. It was hardly going to be the case that Chapman said of the Lotus 49 chassis ‘we needed a known platform to bolt the new engine to, so we used the BRM engined 43 chassis design with minor mods to suit the much lighter, smaller DFV’. Much better to tout the whole lot as ‘all new’- no drama in that, its all fair in a corporate bullshit sense, its just not quite true and largely a myth perpetuated by many over time. Time after time!

Lotus were not the first to use the engine as a stressed part of the car either, although that is widely attributed to Chapman. Jano did it with the D50 Lancia, Ferrari with the 1512 and BRM the P83 H16.

In any event, lets give the Brabham BT24 Repco ‘740’ V8 the respect it deserves but seldom gets.

Clark in the Mosport paddock 1967, his eyes well focused on the fashionably attired young Canadian missy, despite having just bagged pole. Lotus 49 Ford (unattributed)

Canadian GP Mosport- 27 August 1967…

This first Canadian F1 GP was in many ways an exemplar of the words above. Clark and Hill qualified 1-2 with Denny sharing the front row on Q3.

Clark led from the start to be passed by Hulme, Denny’s flat, fat Repco torque curve was more suited to the slippery wet conditions than the DFV which was notoriously abrupt in its power delivery early in its development. Bruce McLaren’s BRM V12 engined M5A was up to 3rd at one point. As the track dried Clark worked his way into the lead- which he kept after rain started again until lap 68 when the engine cut out. Jack won from Denny with Hill in the other 49 4th and Canadian driver Eppie Wietzes a DNF during a Lotus 49 guest drive with the same ignition dramas as Clark.

Maybe the truth is that the difference between the Lotus 49 and Brabham BT24 in 1967 was that Clark sat aboard a Lotus not a Brabham? For sure Jimmy would have been lightning fast in the light, chuckable BT24. Faster than Jack and Denny for sure.

Graham Hill quizzing Jack about the pace of his BT20 ‘640’ at the Silverstone BRDC International trophy in April 1967, Mike Parkes Ferrari 312 took the win from Jack. Red car is Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M4B BRM (Schlegelmilch)

A further point is around car preparation. The 1962/68 World Champion, Hill G, still at the peak of his powers was effectively neutered from the time the 49 appeared by the unreliability of the chassis he drove- of his 9 Lotus 49 starts he retired 7 times. Three of those were engine failures, the others due to driveshaft, suspension, gearbox and clutch problems. Clark retired 3 times in the same 9 races with ignition, suspension and ZF tranny dramas.

Brabham Racing Organisation prepared beautifully consistent cars in 1967 powered by very reliable Repco engines. Factory Brabhams took the championship F1 startline 22 times in 1967 for 4 DNF’s, all due to 740 Series engine failures- Jack’s broken rod at Monaco, both drivers at Spa and Denny’s overheating at Monza.

Clark was far and away the quicker of the two Lotus men- Jim started from pole in 6 of those 9 races, Hill from pole in 3 of them. As I have said before ‘if yer aunty had balls she’d be yer uncle’- but IF Hill had won a race or two that Clark did not, the manufacturers title would have been Lotuses not Brabhams. Because the lads from Hethel did not prepare two equally reliable cars the title was Brabham’s not Lotus’, surely a fair outcome?!

Denny Hulme in his ‘brand spankers’ Brabham BT24 Repco ahead of Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312 during the 1967 French Grand Prix, Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans. Jack won from Denny, Chris retired on lap 47 with a throttle linkage problem. The Ferrari 312 was a big car, the sheer ‘economy’ of the little, light, BT23 F2 derived BT24 shown to good effect in this shot. Note the air-scoop used to cool the fuel metering unit in the Tasman and some of the ‘hot’ races in the GP season (unattributed)

Denny’s 1967…

Didn’t he have a ripper season! In addition to the F1 drivers title he could easily have won the Can Am Series in Bruce McLarens M6A Chev, the first of the wonderful ‘papaya’ cars too. He went back to Mosport a month after the Canadian GP and won the Can Am race in addition to wins at Road America and Bridgehampton. Bruce just won the title with a smidge more reliability than his Kiwi buddy, 30 points to 27.

Denny didn’t have great reliability in the Tasman Series at 1967’s outset but then again the Brabham main game was engine development in advance of the GP season’s commencement. The cars were match fit for the World Championship partially due to development work done in Australasia by Jack, Denny and Repco in January and February whilst Tauranac beavered away on his new BT24 chassis design back in the UK- which is about where we came in!

Michael Gasking in grey coat and Roy Billington in shirtsleeves fitting a 2.5 litre RB640 V8 at Repco Maidstone during the 1967 Tasman. Cars raced in the ’67 Tasman were BT22 ‘F1-1-64’ for Denny and BT23A ‘1’ for Jack. The latter car is very much the F1 ‘BT24 prototype’ being a modified F2 BT23 frame to which the RB640 engine was adapted. Not sure which car is being fettled in this photo. It looks as tho they are about to fire her up- you can just see the end of a white ‘Varley’ battery by Roy’s foot and a red slave battery alongside. The motors Bosch distributor cap is missing but not a big deal to fit. The sound of those engines is oh-so-sweet! Not sure who the other two dudes in shot are, intrigued to know (Gasking)

Who Says Ron Tauranac designed the Brabham BT24?…

The BRO lads based themselves at Repco’s Maidstone headquarters in Melbourne’s western suburbs during the Tasman Series to fit engines before the Kiwi rounds and before/between the Sandown and Longford rounds in Melbourne and Tasmania each year. These two events were traditionally the season enders.

During these trips Jack, Denny, Roy Billington and others out from the UK operated from Maidstone both preparing the cars and spending time with the guys who built their engines. The Repco fellas all have incredibly strong, happy memories of these times.

The sketch below was made by Jack and Denny in the Maidstone lunch-room during a break in the days proceedings on the ‘1967 tour’.

Michael Gasking recalls that in between tea and bikkies the ‘guys were explaining to us what the ’67 F1 car would look like and its key dimensions’- so there you have it, Jack and Denny’s conceptual thoughts on the ’67 F1 car! The funny thing is, at that time, early March 1967 Ron Tauranac may not have been too far advanced with the ’67 chassis, the first didn’t appear until Jack raced BT24/1 at Spa on 18 June.

In the interim Ron was busy at Motor Racing Developments pushing F2 Brabham BT23’s out the door- far more profitable work than knocking together a few F1 cars for Brabham racing Organisation!

In any event, what a wonderful historical document! JB’s rendering of the RB740 engine is sub-optimal mind you, but its clear the guys have taken the time to carefully draw the car in pencil, and then add the dimensions in ink, or ‘biro’ I should say!


Its hard to compare all of the BT24’s publicly reported dimensions with Jack’s sketches level of detail but the total height of the car at 34 inches tallies, whereas Ron’s final wheelbase was 94 inches rather than Jack’s 91.5 inches.

Re-engineering Jacks total width from tyre to tyre outside extremities at the rear of 69 inches- to a rear track dimension, using his 12 inch wide tyres, gives a rear track calculation of 57 inches for Jack whereas Ron’s was 55 inches.

The little air-ducts either side of the nose and in front of the driver didn’t make it, the steering wheel diameter agrees at 13 inches mind you these were trending down to what became the 10 inch norm. The outboard suspension layout all around is spot on of course, as is the use of a V8 engine…

At the end of the lunch, Michael scooped up the drawing which is now, 50 years later shared with us, many thanks Michael! Wonderful this internet thingy, isn’t it?

(Max Millar)

Related Articles…

On the Repco RB740 engine

The 1967 Repco Brabham season

Hulmes 1967

Tailpiece: 1967 wasn’t all plain sailing, Brabham, Monaco…


Jack looking intently at the sight of his RB740’s Laystall, steel crankshaft. He can see it thru the side of the engines block, an errant connecting rod has punched a hole in its aluminium casing! Dennis Jenkinson’s MotorSport Monaco ’67 race report records that JB started the weekend with an RB640 engine fitted, and popped a new 740 in- which had circa 20bhp more, which he ran-in on Saturday and then qualified with, on pole.

Bandini got the jump at the start with the rod failing on the journey to Mirabeau, whereupon Jack spun on his own oil, travelling backwards all the way to the Station Hairpin, in the middle of the jostling pack. But the robust engine continued to run on 7 cylinders for the journey back to the pits, where this photo was taken, the great Aussie inadvertently trailing oil all the way around the course, the lubricant having an easy path out of the moteur via a not insignificant hole!

The rod problem was quickly fixed by Repco who fitted Carrillo’s- drama solved. The chassis is BT19, Jack’s ’66 Championship winning frame. Brabham first raced a BT24 at Spa on 18 June, Denny did not get his until Le Mans on 2 July. So you might accurately say the ’67 drivers and manufacturers titles were won with a mix of 1966 and 1967 chassis’ and engines!


 ‘Brabham, Ralt, Honda: The Ron Tauranac Story’ Mike Lawrence, GP Encyclopaedia, Michael Gasking, ‘History of The GP Car’ Doug Nye, Garry Simkin

Photo Credits…

 Ron Laymon, Michael Gasking Collection, Sutton, Getty Images, Max Millar

Postscript: Jochen Rindt driving the ring off the BT24 at Kyalami, South Africa on 1 January 1968- he was third behind a Clark, Hill Lotus 49 1-2. Clark’s last F1 win sadly…





Gary Knutson and Jerry Mallett with their Lotus 11 Climax at the ‘Garden of The Gods’, Colorado Springs, Colorado circa 1959…

Knutson went on to become one of the ’main men’ during the McLaren ‘Papaya Period’ after doing stints with Traco and Chaparral, but here he is posing with his later business partner and their new car just acquired from Jim Hall.

Its amazing how you find stuff such as this wonderful photograph. I was trying to find the correct spelling of Gary’s surname which I always get wrong- off to Google. Click away. Bingo! The trouble is the photo is on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, the most content rich motorsport website on the planet. I can never deal with a new thread on TNF in less than an hour.

Tyler Alexander and Gary Knutson tend to their charge in the Bridghampton paddock, 1968. Bruce waits patiently. Both M8A’s had engine dramas this race- Bruce ran a bearing and Denny’s chucked a rod. Mark Donohue won in Roger Penske’s M6B Chev (P Lyons)

Contributions to this thread of TNF include bits by Wally Willmott, Howden Ganley, Jerry Entin and others. Here are some snippets, its not a comprehensive article about Knutson but a pot-pourri of bits and bobs plus a link to a fantastic, detailed article in Hot Rod magazine on development of the Big Block Chev ZL1 V8- Knutson was up to his armpits in that project of course.

The connection to Jim Hall was via Jims brother Chuck who was going to the University of Colorado, at Boulder, as was Knutson. Gary prepared Chuck’s Corvette with which he was third in class at Pikes Peak in 1958.

Knutson and Mallett shortly thereafter saw a sportscar race in Phoenix and were hooked- they then approached Jim via Chuck to buy the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax powered Lotus 11 Le Mans Series 2.

Bruce McLaren and Robin Herd’s superb, simple monocoque M6A Chev- the ’67 Can Am Champ. ’67 engines developed on Al Bartz’ dyno in Van Nuys, Cal by Knutson as McLaren then did not have a dyno- look closely on the rocker cover and you can see the Bartz tag in addition to the McLaren Flower Power one! Cast iron Chev 350, four-bolt main bearing caps, 2.02 /1.60 inch intake/exhaust valves with 4 Weber 48IDA carbs 525 bhp @ 7600 rpm. An additional 25 bhp was gained with the adoption of Lucas fuel injection- Knutson used Traco throttle bodies on a Mickey Thomson cross-ram intake manifold intended for Webers. Also used was a Corvette Rochester fuel injection distributor to drive the metering unit and a Vertex magneto instead of a distributor. McLaren was reported disappointed with the power gain but the improved throttle response and driveability was significant with the M6A’s winning 5 of the 6 rounds and Bruce the championship from Denny (unattributed)

Knutson, born in 1937 lived in Colorado Springs where his mother was a teacher and father a photographer. His mechanical interest started with Soapbox Derby devices, a Maytag washing machine motor powered trike and Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engines, then ‘Whizzer’ ‘bike engines and soon an Ardun flat-head Ford V8 engine which went into a 1932 ‘5 window’ Ford which was ‘dragged’ and hill-climbed. Gary won a dirt hillclimb event in the car aged 16 at Georgetown.

Mallett recalls ‘When we ran the Lotus 11, both of us worked two jobs each to pay for the thing, but we would roll out of Colorado Springs on Friday night at about 7 pm and drive all night to Salt Lake City, Utah, New Mexico or Texas. The first race was in Dallas, Texas and after the all night drive, a shower and a cup of coffee, we really thought we were in the big leagues. Around 8 am a trailer showed up with four Ferraris. It was a long day’.

1967 Chev 350 McLaren engine detail at Road America. Note the Traco throttle bodies and Mickey Thomson magnesium manifold referred to above. Below is the Vertex maggy and roller-rocker valve gear- by whom I wonder? (D Friedman)

Knutson worked for Chaparral in the early days when the Chap 2 was first built and the team comprised Jim Hall and Hap Sharp, chief mechanic Franz Weis, ace fabricator Troy Rogers, with Gary as the engine man. At Traco Engineering before commencing McLaren’s in-house Chevy engine program, he worked on a ‘Who’s Who of all branches of motor racing engines doing 14 hour days with Wally Willmott, with Gary having oversight of the Ford Quad Cam Indy to McLaren F1 engine project.

The in-house CanAm project started with the ’67 McLaren Chev 350 cid engines which produced about 525 bhp @ 7600 rpm on Webers, before Knutson adapted Lucas fuel injection…

At this point, click on this link to a wonderful article in ‘Hot Rod’ magazine about the development of the McLaren Chev aluminium, big block ‘Rat Motors’ in which Knutson was the major player, it’s a beauty;

1968 7 litre Chev ally LT1 ‘Rat Motor’. Development work initially done with cast iron block and the new L88 ally heads till the blocks became available. 4.25 inch standard bore and 3.76 inch stroke with Moldex steel crank, Cloyes roller timing chains, cam by Vince Piggins group at Chev R&D. Production solid lifters, Forgedtrue pistons and Carillo rods. Dry sump pumps by Weaver and magnesium dry sump pans by Chev R&D. The L88 heads had 2.19/1.84 inch intake/exhaust valves with the ports enlarged and re-shaped. Crane aluminium roller-rockers. Magnesium intake manifolds had a 2.9 inch bore for each cylinder with a fuel injector into each of the curved and tuned length steel velocity stacks. Intakes were modified Crower with MacKay making the intakes, Lucas metering unit, Vetex magneto and tach drives from magnesium. That lot generated  a real 650 bhp @ 7600 rpm with McLaren quoting 620 in-period . In ’68 the M8A won 4 of the 6 rounds and Denny the title. McLarens won every round of the series (HotRod)


The Nostalgia Forum,

Photo Credits…

Gary Knutson Collection, Pete Lyons, Dave Friedman Archive,

Tailpiece: Moss, Hulme and Knutson astride another McLaren mechanic, McLaren M6A Chev, Road America 1967…

Stirling Moss is interviewing the winner Denny Hulme whilst Knutson looks pleased that his engine has won first time out. Road Am the first ’67 Can Am round on 3 September. Donohue and Surtees were 2nd/3rd in Lola T70 Mk3B’s with Bruce #4 below out with an oil leak on lap 6 (D Friedman)




(Alvis Upitis)


Denny Hulme unleashing all 670 ‘neddies’ of his McLaren M8D Chev at Mid Ohio in August 1970…

The alloy block Chev V8’s were 7.6 litres in 1970, the ‘Batmobile’ arguably the sexiest of the Can Am McLarens and certainly one of the most successful.

Denny won 6 of the 10 rounds and Dan Gurney another 2 before sponsorship conflicts brought to an end his drive which arose as a result of Bruce McLaren’s fatal testing accident aboard an M8D at Goodwood on 2 June 1970. Peter Gethin, Dan’s replacement won another round adding to the ‘papaya rout’.


Denny and Teddy Mayer are easy to pick, perhaps some of you can help with the names of the rest of the team, modest ute and trailer indicative of a ‘no frills’ approach to all but the ‘weapons of battle’ (Alvis Upitis)

I wrote an article about the McLaren M8D a while back, click here to read it;


Hulme won the Mid Ohio round, the ‘Buckeye Cup’ from Peter Revson’s Lola T220 Chev and Lothar Motschenbacher’s ex-works McLaren M8B Chev, in the shot above Denny is ahead of Lothar early in the race.

Credits…Alvis Upitis


Teddy Mayer, Denny and the team resolve the next set-up changes to Hulme’s steed (Alvis Upitis)

















Denny Hulme stands with ‘his’ two Chev ZL1 aluminium-blocked cars at the Riverside Times Grand Prix in 1968…

Both mighty fine cars, an M8A McLaren would be far rarer than an ‘ally-block Corvette but i bet the factory didn’t sell too many of them. You could option the engine in a Camaro for a while as well, here in Australia Bob Jane won an Australian Touring Car Championship with one so equipped in 1971.

The M8A’s were dominant in Bruce and Denny’s hands in 1968…


The Enthusiast Network






Blondie surrounded by World Champs; Messrs Hulme, Hill and Clark, Melbourne, 1968…

Ford Australia’s 1967 ‘XR’ Falcon was a big step forward in its market competition with General Motors ‘Holden’ who had a dominant position.  The XR GT packed a 289cid V8 and started the trend of local pony cars which provided wonderful road cars and iconic Bathurst racers for years.


Barry Cassidy, Ford Falcon ‘XR’ GT, Newry Corner, Longford March 1968 (

This photo is no doubt part of Ford’s ongoing repositioning of their product, ‘Going Ford is the Going Thing’ was FoMoCo’s ‘tag line’ of the day.

‘Blondies’ car is the 1968 ‘XT’ Falcon 500 ‘poverty pack’. A 302cid V8 was cranked under the bonnet to create the GT, a 4 speed box, slippery diff and front disc brakes with firmer springs and shocks completed the performance makeover. This was the only one of the ‘Big Henrys’ which didn’t win the Bathurst enduro classic. An ‘HK’ Holden Monaro 327 coupe driven by Bruce McPhee took the ’68 win.

‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ is the adage…


The Spencer Martin/Jim McKeown XT Ford Falcon GT auto!,Bathurst 500 1968. The pair were 42nd, the highest placed Ford was the XR GT driven by McIntyre/Stacey which was 7th (unattributed)

The local ranges of Ford and Holden were full of mundane stodge in 1966, perhaps the Cortina GT the ‘highlight’. Times ‘were a changin tho’, by 1970; Ford offered the Falcon 351V8 GT/GTHO, Lotus engined Escort Twin-cam, Capri GT V6 and 1600GT and Holden the Monaro HG 350V8 and Torana XU1 which sported a 186cid ohv triple-carbed straight six, all wonderful cars for 13 year olds to dream about…


Ford Oz ad for the 1972/3 ‘XA’ Coupe GT; 351cid 300bhp V8, 4 speed ‘top loader’ box, slippery diff, disc/drum brakes, great cars!

Ford provided some support to Team Lotus who campaigned Lotus 49 DFW’s for both Jim Clark and Graham Hill during the ’68 Tasman Series which Clark won.

The Falcon shot at the articles start has Victorian plates so the shot was probably taken in the week of 25 February to 4 March 1968. Clark took the Sandown, Victorian round. The world champs were then in Melbourne for a few days before heading to Longford, Tasmania for the series ending race won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA F2 car in a stunning wet weather drive.


Clark ahead of Graham Hill, slices into The Esses during the ‘Warwick Farm 100’, another win for the Scot’s Lotus 49, he took the ’68 Tasman (


Ford Australia,



As Brabham, Tauranac and Denny Hulme scanned the competitive landscape as 1966 unfolded they formed the view that a similar formula to ’66 stood a good chance of success in 1967. A small, light, responsive chassis, this time designed around the engine. Remember that Jack’s successful ’66 mount, BT19 was an adapted, unraced 1965 GP car Tauranac designed around the stillborn Coventry Climax Flat-16. Ron’s ’67 BT24 was and is a superb car, its race record we shall review in an article about Brabham Racing Organisation’s (BRO) successful ’67 season.

In terms of the engine, keeping it simple and light had paid big dividends for Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. (RBE) in the first year of the 3 litre formula.

The fortunes of Ferrari, BRM, its H-16 engine the antithesis of the Brabham Repco’s in terms of weight and complexity and the Maserati V12 were well covered in my article on the ’66 season. Dan Gurney’s Weslake V12 engine showed promise but reliability continued to be an issue. The Ford Cosworth DFV didn’t race until the Dutch GP in June 1967. Brabham’s needed more power of course, too much power is rarely an issue, but they figured they needed less power than most others on the grid. If Jack and Denny started the season with a reliable, just quick enough package BRO could retain their title as others sought to make what were ultimately potentially quicker, more sophisticated multi-cylinder, multi-cam cars reliable. Click here for my article on Jack’s successful 1966 season;

denny le mans

The beautifully fast, light, forgiving championship winning Brabham BT24 Repco 740 ahead of Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312 at Le Mans during the ’67 French GP. Denny 2nd to Jacks winning sister car, Amon DNF with throttle linkage failure (Automobile Year)

They were an intensely pragmatic group of racers in this Brabham/Repco senior mix…

Repco’s Charlie Dean, Phil Irving, Norman Wilson (designer of the ’67 RBE740 Series V8) Brabham and Tauranac all built winning cars (and bikes in Phil’s case) themselves, as in built with their own hands. Dean created the extraordinary series of Maybach Grand Prix cars, look at my Stan Jones article for much detail about this series of racers built by Charlie and initially raced by him, and then later by Stanley with much success. Norman Wilson built a Holden engined special in his youth covered in brief at the end of this article. Tauranac and his brother Austin built and raced the ‘original’ Ralts before Ron joined Jack in the UK in 1961.

Dean, Wilson, Tauranac and Brabham had been/were drivers. They knew what it took to win races. They understood winning was as much about torque as power. Handling was essential, the circuits then were all far from just requiring top end power, what was needed at Monza was different to the blend of corners and contours at Brands. All had driven cars and lost races due to unreliability. They understood a balanced package was critical, that whatever power they had needed to be put to the road. The point I make is that these guys were practitioners not theorists on ‘an engineering jolly’.

The RB group were about the application of sound pragmatic engineering practice, they didn’t have to think deeply about this stuff it was part of their DNA given the ‘build and develop it yourself’ school from whence they came. These guys weren’t ‘university engineers’ (which is not to say they lacked formal qualifications) but very practical chaps. Let the others chase ‘engineering perfection’ as they saw it, ‘an evolution of what we have is probably enough to do the trick’ was the correct thinking.

It was a whole different ballgame they confronted at the same time in ’68, but this was mid-’66, the game-changing DFV was still a distance away…

rb 740

Repco studio shot of the front of the amazingly compact ’67 championship winning ‘RBE740’, SOHC, 2 valve ‘between the Vee exhaust’, circa 330bhp V8. The ‘mix and match’ of engine parts described in the text is proven by use of 620 water pump, 630 chain timing cover, oil filter American ‘Purolator’, note oil pump below the dry sump pan, and up top the ends of aluminium water cooling rails, Bosch distributor and Lucas fuel injection trumpets (Tait/Repco)

1967 Engine Design Deliberations…

Ex RBE Engineer Nigel Tait; ‘By July 1966 the World Titles had already been ‘wrapped up’ for the year so the team were already thinking about the engine for 1967. Phil, Jack and Ron were all keen on the idea of getting the exhausts out of the airstream to clean up the car in terms of better aerodynamics and also for ease of plumbing the exhausts which otherwise had to negotiate the tubular chassis frame’. The 1966 BT19 championship winning chassis did not present a very effective frontal profile, its exhausts well out in the breeze.

Colin Chapman was far from the first chassis man to be prescriptive about design elements of an engine, as he was to Keith Duckworth in relation to the Ford Cosworth DFV, particularly in relation its integration with ‘his’ chassis.

Between the Vee exhausts had been raced successfully by BRM with its P56 1.5-2 litre family of V8’s in recent years. Ferrari also chose the same approach with its ’67 3 valve V12, its fair to say it was an F1 design trend of the time. In some ways Ferrari’s approach was better than Brabham’s as Ron maintained outboard springs and shocks on both the front and back of his ’67 BT24 chassis. Ferrari, as they did in 1966, used a top rocker and inboard front spring/shock presenting less resistance to the air at the front of the car at least. Ferrari went outboard at the back like Brabham. (and the rest of the grid)

rb 620 and 740

Old and new; ’66 RB620 305 bhp V8 left and ’67 RB740 330 bhp V8 right, F1 champions both. 740 was 3 inches shorter, 4 inches wider across the heads and 15 lbs lighter than 620. Dimensions otherwise the same; 25.5 inches long, 17.25 inches wide across the bellhousing (Repco)

Conceptual Design of the Heads…

RBE Chief Engineer Norman Wilson; ‘ It would have been Jack’s idea to put the exhausts in the centre (of the Vee). Jack asked if it could be done. I remember when i started designing them i spent a lot of time, probably 3 or 4 days, just drawing one cylinder up to try and prove that you could fit everything in. See you have got a whole row of head studs, you have got to have water passages between the port. The whole idea was to prove that you could get the inlet port in, exhaust port and all the head studs. That was a giant task to figure out in a way’.

‘It meant putting the outer row of studs underneath the exhaust ports. I don’t think i have the layout now but i remember spending a huge amount of time and finally i went to Frank Hallam (RBE General Manager) and said i think we can do it. And thats how the 40 Series heads started’. ‘To manage to get everything on one side and the thing is unlike most engines we built as we wanted big ports. So to fit all these big ports in plus the port wall, plus the bolt bosses was a major task. I think it took about three days work for me to fit everything in a rough layout’.

jack butt

Jack’s BT24 Repco 740 being fettled during ’67, circuit unknown. ‘Box is 5 speed Hewland DG300 transaxle, note rubber ‘donuts’, Lucas injection ‘bomb’ or fuel pump to the right of the box, also rear spaceframe chassis diaphragm. Getting the exhausts outta the airstream shown to good effect in this shot (unattributed)

The ’40 Series’ Between the Vee 1967 Cylinder Heads Design Detail…

‘…the new cylinder heads retained parallel valves but they were now in line with the cylinder axis (instead of at 10 degrees to the axis as on the ’66 20 Series heads and were flush to the head face’ said Wilson. ‘The 40 Series heads used the Heron head design. In this design the cylinder head is flat and the piston has the combustion chamber in the top of the piston (a bowl in piston arrangement). The other feature of the 40 Series head is that it had a tall inlet port. It had a fairly long, relatively straight section there on Jack Brabham’s suggestion. He had received some highly secret information from Honda that this was the way to go. In hindsight i don’t think so. All these things are better in hindsight, but that’s how we did it’

‘The Heron head, i think everyone agreed, had to be the way to go because the Cosworth SCA (F2 engine) was 1000cc and was putting out 120bhp. At the time in F2 it was winning everything. I think it put out 123bhp. Now if you are looking at a 3 litre engine, thats 369bhp. And at that time that would have been been looking for us a fairly exciting sort of figure. The other point about the Heron head is it allowed us to have a single camshaft which we wanted to have the low weight, simplicity and ease of manufacture’.

‘The 40 Series head was purely made for the car. No other reason. It put the exhausts down the centre of the Vee…thats what Ron wanted, he made the car so why not get what he wanted’.

‘The highest output of the 740 Series 3 litre was only a bit over 330bhp. This horsepower rivalry between the different engine manufacturers at the time, the horsepower numbers were really irrelevant. At the time Maserati claimed about 500bhp, but they were adding on about 100bhp to make up for the exhaust gas pollution in the test cell. But really its about the area of horsepower curve’. ‘If they had 500bhp they would be leaving us behind a lot quicker than they are leaving us behind!’ was a quip Rod Wolfe recalls Jack making to the boys in the RBE engine assembly area on one of his trips to Australia in 1967.

‘One of the philosophies was for the engine to always have a wide power range and good power at the bottom end of it which suited the light car. So if ours was 330bhp there was no way other cars had 400-500bhp claimed. Our power was distributed much more evenly across a wider range of revs. Thus Denny Hulme would say it was great to drive a Repco Brabham because he could overtake competitors in the corners as if they were ‘tied to a fence’.

There were some problems with 40 Series head porosity during ’67 as ex-RBE machinist/storeman Rodway Wolfe recalls; ‘Norm did a fantastic job to even succeed with the casting and it proved to be a great engine in larger capacity too, bigger valves etc…we were able to fit very large valves without too many seat problems. The 40 series did have a lot of porosity problems with the ports, some we scrapped as the ports actually broke through when we were porting them and there was not the welding equipment available that we have nowadays to repair them. Porosity, a big drama, as i say, one of my jobs was to send the castings to ‘Nilsens Sintered Products’ in Richmond where they placed the heads in a vacuum and impregnated them with hot resin. Vacuum impregnation solved some of these problems’.

jack wf

Brabham on the Warwick Farm grid, WF Tasman round in 1967. In relation to the cooling duct feeding the engine Rodway Wolfe comments ‘There were a few heat problems in the valley of the engine with the 40 series as the fuel metering unit was also located in the valley but small heat shields seemed to correct this problem and it was not an issue once the car was on the track of course’. It seems these ducts were used in the ’67 Tasman rounds on the 640 engines used by Jack and Denny and subsequently sporadically on the 740 engines, Le Mans for example (Bruce Wells)

A typically pragmatic decision to the heads was made in relation to the 1967 Repco block…

Remember that the ’66 engine used a heavily adapted version of the Oldsmobile F85 aluminium block. Repco still had a swag of unused blocks sitting in Rod Wolfe’s Repco store at Maidstone. The blocks had been successful, a world title proof enough of their effectiveness, but the machining and adaption required to make them an effective race tool meant they were expensive but still sub-optimal. But it wasn’t all plain sailing with the block however much it may have seemed so from the outside, Tait; ‘For much of 1966 we had serious blowby issues due to distortion of the dry sleeves and it was not until almost the end of that year that we went to wet sleeves. The F85 Olds blocks came with dry sleeves in situ’.

Repco’s race engine commercial ends were to be served by building and selling engines for Tasman use and for Group Seven sportscars, burgeoning at the time globally; 2.5 litres was the Tasman Formula capacity limit, the F85 ‘maxxed out’ at 4.4 litres which was the capacity used for the sportscar engines. Repco’s first sale of a customer engine was the 4.4 litre 620 Series unit sold to Bob Jane for his Elfin 400.

So Repco decided to ‘have their cake and eat it too’. The new bespoke ‘700 Series’ block would allow all of the F85 ‘600 Series’ bits and bobs to attach to it; heads, timing case, sump the lot. So Repco could gradually use its stock of F85 blocks for Tasman and sportscar use whilst ‘700 Series’ blocks were used in F1 for 1967 and more broadly in capacities up to 5 litres subsequently. As engines were rebuilt the 600 blocks were replaced progressively by 700 series units, 600 blocks ceased to be used when there were none left. Typically practical, sensible and parsimonious Repco!

Whilst the ‘700 Series’ block design decision, to allow 600 hardware to be attached was a ‘functional’ pragmatic decision the aluminium block itself was also improved being redesigned to increase rigidity. The new block design was commenced by Irving, he and others say, prior to his departure from RBE, but the completed block is his replacement as Chief Design Engineer, Norman Wilson’s design.

rb team

The post Phil Irving RBE design team; L>R GM Frank Hallam and Engineers Norman Wilson, Lindsay Hooper, John Judd and Brian Heard (Repco)

Phil Irving’s departure by resignation or sacking by RBE GM Frank Hallam is an important part of the RBE story and will be dealt with in a separate article. I explore not just the difficult relationship between these two characters but also the broader issues of the leadership of Repco, CEO Charles McGrath’s key enduring support of the RBE program and the appointment of Bob Brown as the Director responsible for RBE instead of alternatives including Charlie Dean at the projects outset. The antipathy between Hallam and Irving was partially about personality but also about politics and legacy in terms of who is responsible for what of the RB620 design and build. More on this topic very soon.

For now lets just focus on the RB740 engine which in no way shape nor form was negatively impacted by Irving’s departure…whilst noting that their probably would have been no 740 had it not been for the success of Jack and Phil’s RB620, JB as the engines conceptual designer and PI as its detail designer and draftsman…


Machining the RB700 block, note the stiffening ribs referred to in the text (Wolfe/Repco)

Norman Wilson; ‘When i went there (to RBE from Repco Research) John Judd (who had been seconded to Repco by BRO in the UK) had done a new crankcase. So i asked to look at it and John showed it to me and i said we can’t make it. It was impossible because it was the basis of a whole new engine. It became a mutual decision (by the design team) that we make a crankcase that went underneath, on top of and behind exactly what we had’. ‘We couldn’t have made a crankcase, head and timing case all at once. So we made a crankcase and then we did the 40 series heads. We had to have a timing case with the heads but it meant we didn’t have too much to do at once and we just kept progressing’.

Wilson;’The new crankcase was designed from scratch but was also designed so it could accommodate the 20 series cylinder head if we wanted to. It was critical being a fairly small outfit that we had the maximum amount of interchangeable flexibility between all the components that we made. So the 700 series crankcase was designed to overcome the problems that we had seen or experienced with the Oldsmobile F85 600 series crankcase. It had wet liners, that in part was due to the fact that it was easier to cast the cylinder block with a wet liner design in that it simplified dramatically the coring required for the casting of the block’.

‘The Oldsmobile engine showed it had main bearing problems so we altered the main bearing arrangement to be much more rigid. We extended the studs up through into the centre of the Vee with nuts on top to take some of the load up through to the top of the block. The unfortunate part of that was the design was right but people would always do the nuts in the top up tight. And of course what would happen was the cylinder block being aluminium would expand more than the stud and would eventually break it. What they should have done, and no one would listen, was do them up at a much lower torque so when the engine got hot it would put the right load on the stud’.

repco boys

RBE Boys, Maidstone, undated but circa 1966/7. Back L>R Kevin Davies, Eric Gaynor, Tony Chamberlain, Fred Rudd, John Mepstead, Peter Holinger. Middle; Vic Mosby, Howard Ring, Norman Bence. Front; David Nash, Rodway Wolfe, Don Butler (Tait/Repco)

‘The front bearing panel of the block was made stronger because this had proved to be a weakness with the Oldsmobile block. The back of the block was made with the same stud pattern as the Olds block so that all the existing gearbox adaptors could be used. The block was made with the idea of making it as light as possible and that was one of the critical things in design. In the end Frank suggested we put some diagonal ribbing on the 700 series crankcase walls to strengthen them’. ‘The sidewalls of the crankcase were actually bolted to the main bearing caps…cross bolting (and strengthened the crankcase considerably). So i felt the diagonal ribbing was really quite irrelevant. …Frank wanted it and, you know, he was a pretty good boss to work for, so thats what we did’.

‘The other thing about the block was that later when we made the 4.2 litre Indianapolis engines (760 Series DOHC, 4 valve V8 in 1968/9) we could alter the sealing arrangements, in fact the later F1 engines (’68 860 Series) were the same, so we used Cooper rings instead of head gaskets. Cooper rings sealed the combustion chamber and O rings sealed the water passages. But we also then had a groove around the outside of the Cooper ring joined with a shallow slot to the edge of the head so if one Cooper ring leaked slightly there was no way it would pressurise the cooling system’.

rb block

RBE700 Series block, note the cross bolted 5 main bearings (Repco)

‘With the Indianapolis engine (760 Series 4.2) those grooves came out of the inside of the Vee. So you could run your engine in the pits and you could put your finger over the end of each groove and you’d know if any of the Cooper rings were leaking slightly. The 700 block was the same height as the Olds F85 block. And the 800 block (860 F1 and 830 Tasman 2.5) was a (1.5 inches) lower one to make the engine smaller.’

The 700 Series block apart from being stronger was also 15 Kg lighter than the F85 ‘600 Series, Norman Wilson again; ‘The F85 block was designed to be diecast on a diecasting machine, it was perhaps a bit thicker in spots just to make it easier to cast. We got rid of a considerable amount of aluminium around each cylinder…The Repco block didn’t have all the bosses down the centre along the block for the cam-followers. It didn’t have the cam-bearings for the centre camshaft (of the F85) We didn’t have the stiffener plate on the bottom. The bearing caps were bigger but they were done a bit better and they were probably no heavier than what was there. And in all the places where strength was not required we just skinned them down as much as we could’.



Most of the components for the engine were made by Repco subsidiary, Russell Engineering, few were contracted out.

Wolfe; ‘Most of the RBE engine components were made at the Maidstone factory. The pistons and rings however were other Repco companies and the crankshafts Laystall in the UK but no other F1 engine constructor made their own pistons and rings in 1966, even Ferrari used Hepolite pistons so Repco were unique’.

Harold Clisby’s engineering business in South Australia cast many of the heads. Kevin Drage, the senior engineer at Castalloy, the Clisby subsidiary who made the heads recalled that around 120 cylinder heads of four types’ 30,40, 50 and 60 Series were cast by the company over the period of the RBE program.

The 30 Series head was detailed by John Judd and was two valve with inlet and exhaust ports on either side of the head, ‘crossflow’ inlets between the Vee and exhausts out the side. 40 Series (the ’67 championship winner) heads were detailed by Norman Wilson which had inlet and exhaust ports on the same side of the head, between the Vee exhausts.

Drage recalls that; The two valve 30 and 40 Series heads were soon followed by the four valve 50 and 60 series designs. John Judd drew these up with the 50 Series design having diagonally tangentially ported inlet and exhaust valves resulting in 16 inlet trumpets and 16 exhaust pipes, the 60 Series design having siamesed inlet and exhaust ports’. The 50 Series heads which were built and dyno tested and the 60 Series 1968 F1 4 valve, DOHC design are a subject of a future article. The fact that RBE persevered so long, at GM Frank Hallam’s insistence with the 50 Series heads delayed development of the 60 Series design, to RBE and BRO’s cost during the ’68 F1 season.

The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermens Bend, not too far from RBE’s Maidstone factory made the alloy crankcases and timing covers, note that Wilson went to double-row timing chains with RB740 compared with the single chain of RB620.

Ex-Repco engineer George Wade is often given credit for the camshafts but Rod Wolfe says; ‘we made the camshafts for all of the engines, George Wade profiled them to various specs but we turned the billets with a mimic tracer on our Tovalieri lathe. The very first 620 cams were cast iron but were changed to steel in 1966’.

Lucas fuel injection was of course again used, as well as a Bosch distributor.

Summary of RBE740 F1 3 litre engine specifications/suppliers…

Bore/Stroke; 3.5X2.55 inches, capacity 2996cc. Power 330bhp@ circa 8400rpm, weight 350 pounds

Compression ratio 12:1, valve sizes 1 13/16inches inlet /1 1/2 inches exhaust, valve angle vertical, valve lift .40. Valve timing 50, 70, 50, 70

Pistons, rings and main bearings by Repco, big end bearings supplied by Vandervell

Lucas fuel injection, Bosch coil and distributor, Champion plugs, Esso fuel and oil and Borg and Beck clutch

Denny Hulme and Jackie Stewart, Levin NZ Tasman 1967 (Digby Paape)

Denny Hulme DNF ignition and Jackie Stewart 2nd in their ‘between the Vee’ exhaust Brabham BT22 ‘640 Series’ Repco and BRM P261 respectively Levin, NZ 14 January 1967 (Digby Paape)

Racing the 640: 1967 Tasman Series…

The first race of the 1967 GP season was the South African GP at Kyalami on January 2, Jack and Denny raced 620 Series V8’s, the 740 was running late due to delays in patterns being made for the 700 crankcase. Its an interesting observation given that Hallam told Brabham by letter dated 23 September that the 700 patterns were half finished. In any event, the engine was late so made its debut in the Tasman Series, or more specifically 640 Series engines did; the new heads atop the 600 Series/F85 Olds blocks.

jack south africa

Brabham giving his 620 engined BT20 some welly at Kyalami during the South African GP at Kyalami on 2 January 1967, he was 6th from pole with Denny 4th from grid 2. Pedro Rodriguez won in a Cooper T81 Maserati (unattributed)

RBE staff numbers during the Christmas/New Year 1966/7 period swelled to 37, 23 engines being assembled during this period. Frank Hallam records that due to the great amount of dismantling, assembly and experimentation that took place only four 2.5 litre motors raced in the Tasman Series. The 640 series 2.5 litre Tasman engines gave circa 265bhp@8500rpm.

Brabham’s full ’67 F1 season i will cover in a separate article, here we look at the Tasman races for the 640 and early season F1 races of the 620 and 740.

gasking and bton, pre sandwon

RBE’s Michael Gasking and BRO’s Roy Billington and another mechanic prepare Brabham’s ‘RB640’ 2.5 V8 engined BT23A before the Sandown Tasman round on 26 February 1967, DNF ignition. Repco Maidstone factory (Wolfe)

If you take the view that the ’67 Tasman was a warm up for the ’67 World Championship then it was a success for Brabham and RBE. The 40 Series heads were thoroughly race tested during the annual Australasian summer contest.

Equally important was Jacks mount, his car designated BT23A was an adaptation of Ron Tauranac’s very successful new 1967/8 BT23 F2 design, which won dozens of races in Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 litre F2 spec. The Tasman BT23A was effectively the prototype of the BT24 which went on to win the ’67 titles, so the Tasman ‘blooded’ both the chassis and engine well before the F1 season. The reliability which flowed from this development process won RBE and BRO the ’67 championships, the Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV was well quicker but had not had the development miles the Brabham Repco’s had…

Jim Clark took the 1967 Tasman title in an F1 Lotus 33 fitted with a stretched to 2 litre Coventry Climax FWMV V8 engine, a quick, reliable, well proven combination. Clark took 3 wins, Jackie Stewart 2 in a similar F1 BRM P261. But the stretched to about 2.1 litres P56 V8 stressed the BRM transmission to its limits, the ‘tranny its weakness that summer. Jack was equal 3rd on the points table to JYS with 1 win.

Jim Clark, Lotus 33 Climax, NZ Tasman, Levin 1967

Jim Clark Lotus 33 Climax, Levin International winner, 14 January 1967 (Digby Paape)

Jack and Denny contested all rounds of the championship with the exception of Teretonga, the last Kiwi event. Jack took a win at Longford and Denny 3rd at Wigram his best. Brabham had a lot of unreliability but the problems weren’t in the main engines; for Denny a radiator hose at WF, gear selector at Sandown and electrical problems at Longford and for Jack a driveshaft breakage at Teretonga and ignition dramas at Sandown.

Denny Hulme, Brabham BT22 Repco, 1967 NZ Tasman, Levin

Denny Hulme’s pretty, effective, Brabham BT22 ‘640’ Repco, Levin 1967. DNF ignition (Digby Paape)

At that stage Repco hadn’t sold customer Tasman 2.5 engines of any type, the engines were made available later in the year in time for commencement of the domestic Gold Star series (640 & 740 Series 2.5 V8’s) in the meantime the more important business of getting the 3 litre ‘740 Series’ V8’s into Tauranac’s exquisite little BT24 was the priority.

jack and denny

Jack from Denny in BT20’s; Jack’s 740 engined and Denny’s 620, Denny won both heats and Jack the final giving the 740 the first of its many wins in 1967. Oulton Park ‘Spring Cup’, 15 April 1967 (Brian Watson)

The first F1 event of the European ’67 season was the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on 12 March. Dan Gurney won both heats and the final in his Eagle T1G Weslake, Jack was 9th a ’66 spec 620 engined BT20 with Denny DNF, similarly equipped.

The ‘Daily Express Spring Cup’ at Oulton Park followed on 15 April, Brabham ‘cleaned up’ in BT20’s; Denny won both heats and Jack the final taking a great race win for the new 740 3 litre V8 with Denny 2nd in a 620 engined ’66 chassis.

jack monaco

Jack proved the speed of the new RB740 V8 at Monaco, its championship race debut, plonking it on pole but it went bang with a broken conrod in the races 1st lap, car is Jack’s beloved ‘old nail’ Brabham BT19, his ’66 championship winning chassis. Denny won in ‘last years’ quick and reliable BT20 Repco ‘620’ (unattributed)

BRO fitted its first 740 Series engine just in time for the Monaco GP on May 7. Apart from the delays caused by late patterns for the blocks, Repco Die and Tool Co forged conrods developed faults. After being unable to establish why the Repco rods were failing the team went the Carillo route, the team using these tried and true products…despite not being made in Oz! Rod Wolfe; ‘We did discover that the champfer at the bolt heads did not match the bolt radius under the head of the bolt and even when tensioned correctly they were not seating properly resulting in a couple of failures’.

The definitive RB ‘740 Series’ engined Brabham BT24 didn’t appear until Jack gave the chassis/engine combination its championship debut at the Belgian GP, Spa on June 18. This was 2 weeks after the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 took the first of 155 GP wins, the 1967 successful Brabham GP season a Repco story for next time…

denny spa

‘Black Jack’ at La Source during the ’67 Belgian GP. Both he and Denny retired with engine problems in BT24 and BT19 respectively. Dan Gurney took a famous and well deserved win in his Eagle T1G Weslake V12, 18 June. Compact nature of the F2 derived BT24 clear (unattributed)

Repco 1966/7 promotional film…

Check out this great footage, the first half covers Brabham’s victorious 1966 F1 season, the other bit the ’67 Tasman season, the debut of the 640 Series V8’s including some factory footage of the engines build.


test house

Rodway Wolfe ‘The dyno test house at the rear of the Repco Maidstone factory. The silver drum on the side was the fuel tank which was changed when needed. The walls of the building were very thick…when the engines were running at full noise you could hold your hand against the wall and get a massage! Fascinating!’ (Wolfe)

jack wf

Repco 640 2.5 V8 power; Jack all cocked up in Warwick Farm’s Esses during the AGP, Warwick Farm 19 February 1967. Brabham was 4th in his BT23A, Stewart won from Clark and Frank Gardner in BRM P261, Lotus 33 Climax and Brabham BT16 Climax respectively (unattributed)

repco holden

Repco works Brabham Repcos’ on the move, Tasman Series, Longford, Tasmania 1967. ‘Rice Trailers’ the ducks guts at the time, tow cars are Holden ‘HR’ Panel Vans, 3 litre straight OHV 6 cylinder engines and ‘3 on the tree’ column shift manual ‘boxes (Ellis French)

jack sandown

Sandown Tasman, 26 February 1967, Brabham, Brabham BT23A Repco, Stewart BRM P261 and Hulme on the outside, Brabham BT22 Repco, all DNF! Jack with ignition, Stewart crown wheel and Hulme gear selection problems. Clark won in a Lotus 33 Climax. You can see the ducts directing cooling air between the Vee shown in an earlier shot (unattributed)


Jack hooks into the Viaduct ahead of Jim and Denny in David Chintock’s impression of the ’67 Longford Tasman round which Brabham’s BT23A won (Wolfe/Racing Car News)

Etcetera: Norman Wilson RBE740 Chief Designer…

rb norman

Norman Wilson in the study of his St Kilda, Melbourne bayside home in early 2016 (Greg Smith)

Its interesting context to Wilson’s work at Repco Brabham Engines to look at the car he built as a ‘youngster’ before his ‘glory years’ as part of the Maidstone team. The car is both innovative and practical in its adaptation of proprietary parts, a combination applied in his later work.

As the cars current owner Greg Smith observes ‘the Norman Wilson Special is a beautiful study of a late fifties racing car with its Mercedes’ styling and layover engine, side vents and knock-off wire wheels’

rb nw spl

‘Norman Wilson Spl’ in the foreground at Templestowe Hillclimb in then outer eastern Melbourne. Pat Hawthorne’s Lycoming Spl behind. The carbs are Webers, sidedraft right angle alloy castings (Greg Smith)

Norman started his 6 cylinder Holden engined ‘Norman Wilson Spl’ around 1956 aged 29/30. The chassis is a spaceframe, front suspension Wilson’s using inverted Holden uprights and wishbones, his own cross member and geometry. Steering is rack and pinion. The rear end is a ‘cut and shut’ Holden with an offset diff to lower the driver, springs are quarter elliptics with some neat locating links.

The clever bit was laying the Holden engine over at 30 degrees to the horizontal to both lower both the centre of gravity and bonnet line. By the time the car was finished Norman had moved to Repco, where it was completed and furnished with 3 large, single throat Webers Charlie Dean bought for Maybach but never fitted to it when that car was fuel injected. The ‘box was Jaguar, the beautiful aluminium body built by Barry Hudson who also did the Ian Mountain (Peugeot) Spl.

Norman raced the car, mainly in Victoria from 1960-63, it passed through several hands before being ‘chopped up’ in the late ‘60’s. With the interest in historic racing growing, and knowing the historic significance of the car and driver, reconstruction was commenced by Graemme Brown in Adelaide in the mid 1980’s, its first run in 1997. The car is currently being rebuilt by Victorian racer, engineer and raconteur Greg Smith to its precise period spec from whom this history and photos were provided. There is a whole lot more to this incredibly clever car built by Wilson in his youth, we will do a feature on it when Greg is close to its completion, I’ve seen it, the thing is sensational, Smithy will race it during 2017. I also plan to write more about Norman Wilson’s career, too little is known about this fella, now 91. so important in the Repco story.


Recollections of Rodway Wolfe and Nigel Tait

Norman Wilson quotes from Simon Pinder’s ‘Mr Repco Brabham’, Doug Nye ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

Kevin Drages comments from ‘The Nostalgia Forum’

Greg Smith’s photos and details of Norman Wilson and the ‘Norman Wilson Spl’

Photo Credits…

Rodway Wolfe and Nigel Tait Collections, Repco Ltd archive

Autocourse, Digby Paape, David Keep, Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season, David Keep/, Automobile Year, Ellis French, David Nash

Tailpiece: Jack Brabham guides his Brabham BT23A Repco into the Viaduct on his way to victory in the ‘South Pacific Trophy’, Longford 5 March 1967. He takes the first of many ’40 Series’ Repco 1967 wins…

jack longford



Teddy Mayer and Bruce McLaren, McLaren M7C Ford 5th, at Monaco on 18 May 1969, the hi-wings disappeared overnight. Hill G won in a Lotus 49B Ford (Schlegelmilch)


McLaren ‘owned’ the color papaya and having created brand recognition many marketers can only dream about walked away from the distinctive orange hue…


Bruce and his M14A Ford before the ‘Race of Champions’ at Brands Hatch, 22 March 1970, DNF after an accident, Jackie Stewart won in a March 701 Ford (Fox)

Bruce McLaren Motor Racing ‘broke through’ in the 1967 CanAm Series, Bruce and Denny crushed the opposition with the fabulous M6A Chev, a joint Bruce and Robin Herd design collaboration.


Bruce McLaren at Las Vegas 1967, McLaren M6A Chev, it may be a blur but you knew what it was because of the colour, right!  John Surtees won in a Lola T70 Mk3B Chev, both McLaren’s DNF with engine failure (Getty)


Modern marketing started in the US. In trying to create ‘cut thru’ or ‘pop’ on then new colour telly the McLaren hierarchy, Teddy Mayer is credited for choosing the distinctive shade which defined the marque until the Yardley McLaren era of 1972.


Denny Hulme, Kyalami 1972, on the way to a South African GP win in the ‘Yardley’ McLaren M19A Ford (unattributed)

The M6A gave its sponsors a ‘fair crack of the whip’, the ’67 colour stuck, being adopted on the factory CanAm, F1,2,5000 and Indycars until the early seventies.

The photo below is of more significance than i realised when i first saw it on the internet, my friend Derek Kneller recalls; ‘I joined McLaren’s a fabricator having worked at the experimental department of Hawker Siddeley working on the P1127 (Hawker Harrier vertical take off fighter) on 26 March 1968. One of my first tasks was to prepare this car for its first tests with the ‘ally big block 7 litre Chev. I worked through the weekend with Wally Willmott and and Gary Knutson to get the car ready. We essentially ‘hacked’ the back off the M6 and grafted the rear of the proposed ’68 M8 onto the car.’

‘The photo is L>R Denny, Gary Knutson partially obscured, Teddy Mayer, Phil Kerr and Bruce. Wally is in the blue shirt and Jo Marquhart to the right in the suit with overcoat. They are supervising the ‘mule’ M6A/2 at Goodwood on 24 April 1968′. Gary Knutson and Colin Beanland built the engine at Al Bartz’ shop in Los Angeles, its losing oil which is the reason for the concerned faces. George Begg, McLaren confidante and Kiwi racer/car builder took the photo. The papaya M6 rather contrasts with the dull, rolling Sussex hills in the background and the flash pit-counter in the foreground!


(George Begg)

David Hodges records in his ‘Profile Publications’ article on the McLaren M8 that after this chassis was used in this series of tests, and later aerodynamic work it was returned to M6 specification and then sold.


Jody Scheckter’s works McLaren M21 Ford BDF F2 car during the ‘BARC 200’ Euro F2 Championship round at Thruxton, 3 April 1972. Jody DNF with overheating, race won by Ronnie Peterson’s March 722 Ford BDF (M Hewitt)


Andrea De Adamich’s McLaren M14D Alfa Romeo, Mont Tremblant, Canada 1970. DNF engine, race won by Ickx’ Ferrari 312B (Schlegelmilch)

Until Yardley’s arrival on the side of the M19 a swag of sponsors logos sat comfortably on McLarens against the gorgeous, distinctive from afar, shade.


#5 Denny Hulme and Peter Revson’s McLaren M20 Chevs at Donnybrooke, Minnesota , 17 September 1972 (Upitis)

Lotus, the leader in so many aspects of racing showed the power of wholistic F1 branding of a racing car with the ‘fag packet’ Gold Leaf Team Lotus, Lotus 49’s which first appeared in the Wigram, New Zealand round of the Tasman Series 0n 20 January 1968. Jim Clark raced, just, in the early months of the year in the ‘modern advertising era’.


Jim Clark in the Teretonga paddock, Lotus 49 DFW, his GLTL Lotus freshly painted car finished 2nd to Bruce’ works BRM P126, painted traditional green! 27  January 1968 (Ian Peak)

Of course the Americans had refined the art (advertising on racing cars) for 50 years before the rest of the world caught up, or regressed depending upon your view of it. You cannot imagine Cadbury abandoning purple yet McLaren walked away from a signature colour which defined their cars in a most distinctive way. I’m not suggesting Bruce and the boys had as much brand equity in papaya as Cadbury in purple but you get my drift.

Ferrari of course are the prime example of a marque who ‘own red’. Their sponsors have always obtained the coverage sought against a red background rather than Ferrari adopting the ‘packaging’ of their corporate partner of the season or decade!

pap denny

Denny Hulme on his way to winning the 1968 Canadian GP at Mont Tremblant, Bruce was 2nd in a great day for the team. McLaren M7A Ford (unattributed)


Peter Revson, Indy qualifying 17 May 1972, McLaren M16B Offy. Peter started from grid 2 but DNF with ‘box failure after 5 laps. Mark Donohue won in Roger Penske’s customer M16B (Bob D’Olivo)

pap nose

Hulme’s McLaren M20 Chev at Donnybrooke in 1972, Francois Cevert won in an ex-works M8F, both McLarens DNF with popped Chevys (Upitis)

In more recent times papaya has staged a comeback appearing on the McLaren F1 GTR LeMans car, occasionally as an F1 testing colour and as a favoured choice on its exotic road cars…


Pedro de la Rosa and Mika Hakkinen in early 1997 testing of their McLaren MP4/12 Mercedes at Jerez, they raced in boring silver of course (


McLaren M20 Chev in 1972, almost a CanAm signature, the staggered injection trumpets used from 1970 (Getty)


Rainer Schlegelmilch, Alvis Upitis, Getty Images, Fox Photos, Bob D’Olivo, Michael Cooper,, George Begg, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, Duncan Fox, Derek Kneller, David Hodges ‘The McLaren M8 Series’

Tailpieces: McLaren F1 GTR set against the Dunlop Bridge 16 June  1996, Le Mans 24 Hour…


(Michael Cooper)

Victorious Papaya Blur…

bruce spa

Bruce on his way to a win at Spa in 1968, M7A Ford (Schlegelmilch)