Posts Tagged ‘Elfin T100 Clisby’

(Wheels)

Whilst Darwin’s ‘Northern Standard’ reported that the attempt on the Darwin to Alice Springs record by Brisbane racer/motorcycle dealer Les Taylor and his salesman, ex-Spitfire pilot Dick Rendle’s Jaguar XK120 was a ‘well kept secret’, news of it soon spread.

So much so that when the duo arrived in the Alice 10 hours and 32 minutes after leaving Darwin they were greeted by the local ‘Wallopers’ who slapped Taylor in the local nick and charged him with four offences.

The pair set off at 6.30 am on Thursday 2 August 1951, arriving at 5.02 pm after covering 954 miles- an average of 90.5 mph. Plentiful telegrams of the interested enroute made the job for the police easy! The previous record was set by Jack Day in his Day Special (Bugatti T39 Ford V6 Spl) at 16 hours in 1950.

Excitement along the way was provided by cattle on the road between Pine Creek and Katherine, and a horse close to Barrow Creek, fortunately the svelte lines of Coventry’s finest remained intact. See the full story in Wheels here; https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/classic-wheels/vanishing-point

(Wheels)

 

(unattributed)

Our earliest motoring heroes, household names, were the drivers who set innumerable north, south, east and west intercity records between all sorts of weird and wonderful places, but that all became a bit dangerous so the practice was made illegal in 1930, hence the intervention of the gendarmes above. See here for a piece on these pioneers;

It begs the question as to who was first to cross the country by car, that honour, from north to south goes to Horace Aunger and Henry Dutton aboard a Talbot in 1908 above.

The pair left Adelaide in Dutton’s Talbot on 25 November 1907 travelling through country which could only be tackled by a modern 4WD but the cars crown wheel pinion failed south of Tennant Creek, with the wet season moving in  the intrepid duo travelled by horse to the railway line at Oodnadatta and made their way home.

The second bite at the cherry commenced on 30 June 1908, with a more powerful Talbot. Ern Allchurch joined them at Alice Springs, after repairing the damaged car at Tennant Creek the two cars drove in convoy to Pine Creek where the ‘disgraced’ Talbot was sent by train to Darwin, the trio reached Darwin on 20 August.

This car is at Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills- another reason to visit this great museum. A piece on Transcontinental competition here; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/21/city-to-city-record-breaking-and-car-trials/

 

(Driving & Life)

What a thrill it was to see Alan Jones win the 1980 Australian Grand Prix at Calder in his Williams FW07 Ford and match his fathers similar feat achieved aboard a Maserati 250F at Longford in 1959.

The Calder event was for F5000 and F1 cars- specifically Jones’ machine and the sensational Alfa Romeo 179 3 litre V12, my abiding memory of that weekend forty years on is the sound of the Alfa as Bruno Giacomelli worked the fabulous screaming twelve up- and particularly down the six speed ‘box.

(unattributed)

 

(An1images.com)

Peter Brock exits Dandenong Road during the September 1977 Sandown 400K.

Brock won from Allan Grice’s similar Holden Torana A9X in a year of slim pickings for the Fisherman’s Bend mob- it was twelve months of Carroll Smith/Moffat/Bond domination of Group C touring car sprint and endurance racing- a welcome change of fortunes for those of us with no marque based bias.

 

(unattributed)

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard, Singer 9 Bantam on the way to winning the first Australian Touring Car Championship aka the ‘Australian Stock Car Championship’ at Lobethal in 1939.

Rewrite the record book folks, the first ATCC was run and won at Lobethal in 1939, not Gnoo Blas in 1960, see here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/04/first-australian-touring-car-championship-lobethal-1939/

 

(J Ellacott)

One of John Ellacott’s signature Homestead Corner shots at Warwick Farm, circa 1963.

Its Charlie Smith in the ex-works/Frank Matich works Elfin WR275 ‘Catalina’ Cosworth Ford 1.5, he looks pretty relaxed in his short-sleeved shirt too. Below at Mount Panorama.

Matich had a pair of these cars at his disposal in Sydney in addition to a Clubman and did much to enhance the Elfin name in the important Sydney market. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/04/12/elfin-fj-catalina-250-275-375-wr/

(T Sullivan Collection)

 

(VW)

The Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia VW Polo WRC successfully defended their driver/co-driver titles in Spain having already retained the manufacturers title in Australia in 2015- for the third time on the trot.

Rally Australia was run from September 10 to 13 out of Coffs Harbour, the champs finished ahead of teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Anttila Miika and then the Citroen DS3 WRC crewed by Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle.

(VW)

 

(D Foster)

The Prad Healey at Lakeside in 1961, surely it’s the best looking Healey 100/6 ever built?

This unique car was modified not long after it was acquired new by Queenslander, Doug Cavill in January 1958.

The engine was modified extensively so by racer/engineer Bill Reynolds and the body by the vastly experienced and talented Sydney ‘Prad’ boys, Barry PRyor and Clive ADams in Sydney. A fast, stunning machine was the result, the car still exists but the beauty has been stripped of her party clothes, almost criminal really, see here; https://primotipo.com/?s=prad+healey

 

(An1images.com)

Scott Dixon, Reynard 92D Holden leads the 1998 Sandown Gold Star round at Sandown.

He won four of the twelve races on the way to the title, including this one. In a season of great consistency he finished every race and placed second on five occasions, winning the title from Todd Kelly also aboard a 92D by 43 points with Mark Noske a further 8 points adrift in a Reynard 95D.

 

(D Williams)

This bunch of shots by David Williams took my eye- they were taken at Hume Weir long after the last meeting had been held at the hugely popular Albury-Wodonga border-town circuit.

Club sprints and the like were held long after the final open meeting, see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/06/hume-weir/

David’s camera caught some wonderful Lukey Mufflers signage, the 1959 Gold Star Champion was always a friend of motor racing throughout his life, most notably as the owner of Phillip Island for a couple of decades

(D Williams )

 

(unattributed)

Max Patterson’s ex-Mal Ramsay Elfin 300C chassis ‘SS67-6’ Ford during the 1973 Macau Grand Prix.

Amongst the sweetest of all of Garrie Cooper’s cars.

The Melbourne car dealer qualified the car on the second last row amongst the other sportscars but was out early in the race won by The Monaco King of the era- John Macdonald’s Brabham BT40 Ford. Piece on the Macau GP here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/20/macau-grand-prix/

 

(B Williamson Collection)

A couple of Caversham shots.

Look at the crowd above- I suspect it’s after the 1957 AGP won by Lex Davison and Bill Patterson aboard Lex’ Ferrari 500/625.

The shot of the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM could only be in Australia- superb bush backdrop to a sensational car being driven to a win of the ‘Six Hour Le Mans’ by Spencer Martin and David McKay on 7 June 1965. Feature on the car here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

(K Devine Collection)

 

One of the most ambitious and audacious acts in Australian motor racing was Harold Clisby’s design and construction of a 1.5 litre V6 F1 engine.

At the time the engine was designed and built from 1960 to its first run on the test bench in 1964 the headcount of Clisby Industries was seventeen people. And they built almost all of it in-house. They being Harold, Project Engineer, Kevin Drage and Machinist, Alec Bailey.

I cheated with the chassis plate by the way- its ‘orf a Clisby air-compressor.

(D Lupton)

The 1.5 litre 120 degree, DOHC, two-valve, twin-Clisby triple-choke carb fed V6 was tested at Mallala for the first time, fitted to an Elfin Type 100 ‘Mono’ in March 1965.

It raced only four times before being put to one side whilst Clisby made hovercraft, steam trains, a castle and much, much more. Surely our countries greatest mighta-been? See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/22/elfin-mono-clisby-mallala-april-1965/

(K Drage)

 

(HTSA)

Bill Patterson enters Penrice Road, Nuriootpa during the Barossa Vintage Festival meeting in April 1949.

His MG TC Spl s/c is almost brand new and took two wins that weekend including the feature  event. Here it is below on its competition debut weekend at Rob Roy in January 1949. See here for the Nuriootpa weekend; https://primotipo.com/2020/08/27/barossa-vintage-festival-meeting-nuriootpa-1949/

(R Townley Collection)

 

(D Lupton)

Bob Jane’s Equipe was pretty impressive right from his earliest days.

Here at Calder in 1963 are the two Jaguars- Mk2 and Lightweight E Type, the interloper is a Fiat 2300.

Stephen Dalton suggests its probably the weekend of the December 8 Australian GT Championship meeting. Click here for a piece on Bob’s cars; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

(D Lupton)

 

(I Smith)

JM Fangio and Jack Brabham aboard Lance Dixon’s 8C Alfa Romeo during the ‘Fangio Meeting’ at Sandown in 1978.

What a meeting that was! It was pinch yourself all weekend, it is such a treasured motor racing moment for all of us that saw it, let alone had a chance to be on the bill. Not that i remember the AGP or the taxi race!

 

(I Smith)

Magic moments- as clear now in my mind as then was JMF teasing the big booming 3 litre straight-eight (SLR engine fitted) out of third gear Shell Corner, into a big slide and holding it, with the whole of the pitlane and those perched on the pit counter roaring in approval. And delight. He did it again and again too.

Marvellous it was. See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/21/juan-manuel-fangios-sandown-park/

(I Smith)

Some beautiful shots by Ian Smith here.

Jack telling the press or assembled masses at the Light Car Club how hard he had driven BT19 Repco ‘620’ his 1966 F1 Championship winning tool to stay in front of the 1954/5 Mercedes W196. That’s Kerry Luckins, LCCA President at rear.

(I Smith)

 

(P Townsend)

John Leffler being tended by Paul and Steve Knott at Oran Park during June 1974, Bowin P8 Hart-Ford 416-B ANF2 car.

John Joyce’s Bowin P8s were amongst the most sophisticated, advanced racing cars ever built in Australia. With wedge shape, hip radiators and variable or ‘rising’ rate suspension the car picked up some of the Lotus 72’s design cues.

Leffler was the only driver to really take the fight to the tussling Birrana pilots Leo Geoghegan and Bob Muir in the 1974 Australian F2 Championship, had the car’s suspension been sorted by Leffler and Joyce earlier in the season perhaps Leffo’s yield would have been greater than one win!

This was a seriously fast racing car, John raced it everywhere in 1974 including some Gold Star rounds where he made the tail of the 5 litre cars look decidedly average. I’ll have this car in my collection please. A bit about the car here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/20/brabs-gets-the-jump/

 

Leffo and Bob Muir collided at Lakeside in December causing them both to retire- that left front is punctured

 

Peter Brennan Collection

Repco luminaries Nigel Tait, Rodway Wolfe and Aaron Lewis were musing a couple of weeks ago about how many Repco-Brabham ‘760’ 4.2 litre, quad cam, 32 valve ‘Indy’ V8s were built for Brabham Racing Organisation’s 1968 and 1969 Indy 500 assaults. The answer is three.

My Repco history has not yet given the 3 litre 860 and 4.2/4.8/5 litre 760 a real go, but i did wonder who paid for the Indy engines. Repco’s ad in the 1968 Longford program provides the answer- Goodyear. I’d love to know how much they paid?

Peter Revson got the best results out of the 760 engined Brabham BT25s in drives which changed the direction of his driving career. He finished a great fifth at Indy in 1969 and won the two heat Indy Racing Park 200 against a field a great depth that July and proved there was nothing wrong with Repco’s quad-cam, four-valver that development could not solve.

There is some information about the four-can engines in this ridiculously long epic; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/22/rbe-by-the-numbers/

Repco-Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. ‘RBE’ ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre, gear-driven four cam, four valve, Lucas fuel injected V8 (Repco)

 

(oldracephotos.com/King)

Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 Spyder on the hop at at Longford in March 1967.

In the feature race he finished third behind the Matich and Jane Elfin 400s, the new car having made its race debut at Sandown the week before. See here for a piece on Hammos’ 906s, i had a looong wonderful chat to him a couple on months ago which i really must turn into words, note to self! See here in the meantime; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

Bibliography…

TwistedHistory.net.au, Wheels magazine

Photo Credits…

Wheels, Russell Garth, John Ellacott, Darren Foster, David Williams, AN1images.com, Bob Williamson Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Denis Lupton, Kevin Drage, Richard Townley Collection, Ian Smith, Chris Griffiths, ‘Driving and Life’, Peter Townsend, Repco, Yogi Weller, oldracephotos.com, Terry Sullivan Collection

Tailpiece…

(autopics.com.au)

Spencer Martin aboard the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax during the 1966 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Cup meeting.

His battles in this car, by then owned by Bob Jane, with Kevin Bartlett’s matching Alec Mildren owned car were the toast of racing in 1966-1967, the two mates and young professionals racing hard, fast and fair.

Martin won two Gold Stars in those years and then retired, too early in the minds of many but at precisely the right time for the man himself. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

Finito…

(K Drage)

‘If the 10,000 odd spectators who saw an attractive white racing car at South Australia’s Easter Mallala race meeting on 18/19 April 1965 thought no more about it, they may be excused. It won no events and did not complete the days racing…

Yet the Elfin Clisby, as it is called, is potentially Australia’s first internationally competitive Formula One racing car. Virtually every part of it has been built in Australia, by Australians with remarkably few resources.

The chassis is basically Elfin Monocoque, (Elfin T100 or more colloquially and commonly referred to as the ‘Elfin Mono’) the latest design by Garrie Cooper of Elfin Sports Cars, at Edwardstown South Australia’.

 

I’ve hit gold, in my own mind anyway- I’ve found a first hand account of the Elfin T100 Clisby V6 race debut at Mallala, South Australia over the Easter weekend in 1965.

It was written by ‘The Canberra Times’ journalist Bill Norman and published on Saturday 8 May, here it is in all of its contemporary glory untouched by me. The photo choices are mine though as the newspaper photo reproduction ain’t flash at all, as are the captions except one which is attributed to Bill.

An introduction to Australia’s only F1 car is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/18/clisby-douglas-spl-and-clisby-f1-1-5-litre-v6/

‘The previous spaceframe open-wheeler (the FJ/Catalina) handled so magnificently that it is doubtful whether the Monocoque is much better in this respect. However, frontal area is much less, and all up weight is down by 60 lb. This, combined with four-wheel disc brakes (which most variants of the Catalina had) and general refinement, make it as advanced a design as anywhere in the world.

Despite its stressed skin, aircraft-type construction using vast numbers of pop rivets, the builders say it is both easier to construct in the first place, and easier to repair following a crash rather than the ‘birdcage’ (sic-spaceframe!) Elfin before it.’

 

Early Elfin Mono sketch by Garrie Cooper sent to his friend/Elfin employee Tony Alcock, and later Birrana Cars partner/designer, then in England, 6 May 1964 (J Lambert)

 

Early stages of chassis construction- car ‘off the peg’ in the sense the car was designed for the pushrod Ford and Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine, not a V6 (R Lambert)

 

Burning the midnight oil- the racers lament (J Calder)

 

Ron Lambert further along in the build process, front and rear suspension being assembled, engine in situ (K Drage)

 

‘But the Clisby engine is the heart of the car, and the most interesting part of it. This is because no Australian has previously been ambitious enough to attempt to build a Formula 1 racing engine right from scratch.

This gives a clue to Harold Clisby’s character. He is a man who believes implicitly that “anything you can do i can do better”. Very often he is right. He is a master at finding an efficient way of doing things. His air-compressor business is a model of self-contained, compact manufacturing  and as well as marketing air-compressors in Australia, he has built up a growing export market.

Interests? Clisby seems to be interested in everything interesting. In a section of his workshop, alongside the Elfin Clisby are several perfectly restored veteran cars, including a steam locomobile. Ancient motor-cycle engines adorn his workshop. He recently bought the ex-Eldred Norman 14 inch Cassegrainian telescope, which is still the largest privately owned telescope in Australia. When Hovercraft were news some years ago, Clisby built one for fun.’

 

‘The sting to its tail…Mr Harold Clisby’s unique V6 engine is mated to a Volkswagen gearbox and differential. This photo was taken immediately after the first try out at Mallala when vibration shattered all four distributor caps and broke an exhaust bracket. The problem is now cured’ (Bill Norman words) In fact the photo is not at Mallala but outside Elfins- i’ve used his caption for this photo which is almost identical to a monochrome shot used in the article referred to above which will not reproduce in any way adequately.

 

‘His engine would take an entire article to describe in detail and i won’t attempt to do so.

The important thing to remember is that Clisby designed and buily every part except the electrical sysytem, in his small factory. Aluminium alloy castings, nitrided steel crankshaft machined from a solid billet, 120 ton vibrac conrods: the lot. He even built the two triple-choke carburettors- a tremendous task on their own.

Basic engine configuration is a 1.5 litre V6 with a bore of 78mm and stroke of 58.8. Cylinder banks are set at an angle of 120 degrees, using duel overhead camshafts for each bank and hemispherical combustion chambers. Each camshaft drives its own distributor, and each distributor has its own coil. Although complex, his two spark system should give reliable ignition far past the normal maximum rpm of 9,500.

In fact the engine has been tested to 11,500 rpm without trouble. When one looks at the components it is easy to see why. Short, chunky connecting rods, rigid crankshaft with big bearing areas and solid, but light, short skirt racing pistons all go to make it virtually unburstable.’

 

Engine from rear- ring gear machined into periphery of flywheel which is attached to the crankshaft by 6 sturdy cap screws (SCG)

 

Dummy run to mount the engine (MRA)

 

‘Lubrication is by dry sump, using 80 psi pressure. With this system, a primary pump provides oil pressure for the bearings, while a large scavenge pump keeps the sump empty of oil and passes it to the oil tank in the nose. It combats oil surge positively and makes it simple to cool the oil properly.

Dynamometer tested recently, the engine gave 165 bhp on a compression ratio of 9:1. Since this, the ratio has been raised and power should be now closer to 180 bhp. Assuming further developments to bring this figure to 190 horsepower, and considering the car’s much lighter weight, South Australia may soon have a Climax eater.

A modified Volkswagen gearbox differential unit is direct coupled to the motor, and power is transmitted through rubber universals and Hillman Imp halfshafts to the rear wheels.

The Easter Monday racing debut of the Elfin Clisby was promising in some ways and disappointing in others.

When well known driver Andrew Brown drove it in the first scratch race, two things were at once obvious. Firstly the engine had a a bad carburetion ‘flat spot’ in low to medium range, and secondly, the tremendous acceleration once this point was passed.

No one who saw the car apparently getting wheelspin in third gear really doubts that sufficient ‘urge’ is there. A healthy bark came from its two 2.5 inch exhausts and acceleration in each gear seemed almost instantaneous once the ‘flat spot’ was passed.

In his first race, Brown drove to a creditable fifth place against some very hard driven machinery. This despite a self-imposed rev limit of 8,000- well below maximum power at 9,500- and relatively slow acceleration away from the corners due to carburetion troubles.

A rear tyre blew out in lap one of the second race, and the Elfin Clisby ‘went bush’ in a cloud of dust. The suspension sustained some damage and ended the days racing for the car.

Inevitably there are a few teething troubles, but none seem very serious. The carburettor chokes are too large for good low speed torque when used in conjunction with a gearbox of only four speeds. Bottom, second and third gear ratios were not suited to the circuit, which magnified the first problem. High frequency vibration- always troublesome in a V6 engine- was a difficulty at first but now has been all but cured.

Undoubtedly the car has great potential. Perhaps come 1966 and the new Federation International de L’Automobile Formula One of 1.5 litres supercharged, we may see a supercharged Elfin Clisby taking honours overseas for Australia.’

 

Mk 1 Mono distinctive rear suspension (K Drage)

 

VW gearbox and battery of distributors clear. Car first raced with stack type exhausts, see article linked for later, conventional setup (K Drage)

 

(K Drage)

 

(J Lambert)

Credits…

Article by Bill Norman in ‘The Canberra Times’ Saturday 8 May 1965, Ron Lambert, James Lambert Collection, James Calder Collection, The Nostalgia Forum, Motor Racing Australia, Kevin Drage, Sports Car Graphic

Tailpiece: Ain’t She Sweet- Australia’s only F1 car, Elfin T100 ‘M6548’ Clisby, Elfin’s, Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown 1965…

(K Drage)

Finito…