Posts Tagged ‘Frank Gardner’

One of the things that attracts Lotus fans to the marque is the elegant simplicity of Chapman’s cars…

My Elise S1 was born long after Col’s death but the brand essence he established pervades Hethel’s hallowed halls to the present.

The Twelve has to be the ultimate in that respect, its simple elegance, size and weight are amazing alongside a Dino 246 or even a Cooper T41/43 of 1957/8.

Many have thought the miniscule cigar of a machine was a GP winner in 1958 fitted with a 2.5 FPF sans dodgy ‘Queerbox’- Cliff Allison was a Belgian Grand Prix winner that year so equipped? Its size is partially a function of its F2 original intent- the Sixteen, its successor is big by comparison.

Of course Moss would have belted everybody in a 2.5 FPF engined T43 in 1958 too- albeit Cooper had its own gearbox problem to solve to allow success.

 

Allison hooks his 12 into La Source early in the Spa weekend, no #40 decal on the car yet

The opening shot is the Team Lotus lads fixing a gearbox problem at Zandvoort in 1958.

Note the bungee cord affixed ‘knee’ fuel tank and chassis repair to the vertical tube which drops from the ‘dash which has been carried out away from Hornsey.

Cliff Allison was sixth that late May weekend from Q11 and Graham Hill a DNF with engine dramas from Q13. Moss’ Vanwall won from Harry Schell and Jean Behra in BRM P25’s- perhaps the circuit suited the BRM’s, Jo Bonnier took the marques first championship victory in the Dutch dunes twelve months hence.

Team Lotus made their F1 debut in Monaco the week before so Allison’s sixth- just outside the points in those days was impressive.

Even more so was Cliff’s fourth in chassis ‘357’ at Spa- the most supreme of power circuits of course.

The 2.2 litre Lotus qualified twelfth and finished behind the Brooks Vanwall, Hawthorn Dino and Lewis-Evans Vanwall but ahead of four other 2.5 litre cars- he was timed at 167 mph on the Masta Straight.

OK, there were nine race retirements but it was a mega performance all the same and its said that none of the three cars in front of him would have completed another lap- had the race been a tad longer perhaps Lotus would have taken their first GP victory in the third such event they contested, but ’twas not to be.

Cliff parlayed his performances in 1958 into a works Ferrari drive in 1959 of course. An underrated driver I reckon.

Allison hiking an inside front right at very high Spa speed 1958- famously fourth ‘behind three cars which could not have completed another lap’. Cliff used Teams 2207 cc FPF in this race which was good for 194 bhp @ 6250 rpm

Mechanical Gubbins…

The late John Ross was popular with Team Lotus, he was given great access to the factory throughout the fifties as Chapman’s eponymous marque became more ambitious with each successive project.

The photo below and the one of the rear of the chassis were taken on a visit by John to Hornsey in November 1956. This is the first 12 chassis built- ‘301’ which was constructed by Frank Coleman at the Progress Chassis Company opposite Stan Chapman’s pub, the Railway Hotel in Tottenham Lane, Hornsey, North London. Progress were the chassis supplier of choice for some years.

(J Ross)

 

Press launch at Lotus/Railway Hotel, Hornsey, October 1956. Note the famous ‘Wobbly Web’ cast magnesium alloy wheels first designed for the 12 but used well into the sixties (J Ross)

The prototype, clothed in its Frank Costin designed body was then assembled into a complete machine for the London Motor Show held at Earls Court between October 17-27 1956 by Colin, Mike Costin and John Lambert working to a very tight deadline.

It was shown to the press at a Lotus works function albeit the engine was an incomplete mock-up of the new 1475cc Coventry Climax F2 engine and ‘its all new Lotus transaxle was just a wooden maquette’ wrote Doug Nye. The engine in production form gave 141 bhp @ 7300 rpm on F2 regulation 100 octane fuel and weighed 280 pounds.

1475 cc Coventry Climax FPF aboard ‘353’ at Motorclassica in 2018. Those Webers are sand cast 40DCO3’s (M Bisset)

This show car ‘was never man enough to be raced’ as its joint welds had been ground away so much for display purposes there was barely enough weld left to hold the thing together. After some years at the Montagu Museum at Beaulieu it is part of the Chapman Family Collection.

Bernard Cahier’s shot below is of Graham Hill’s car, chassis ‘353’ during the 1958 Monaco GP weekend, I covered this important Lotus weekend in an article i wrote a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2016/11/29/cliff-allison-lotus-12-and-the-mid-engined-revolution-1958/

At Monaco GP 1958- both cars raced that weekend were fitted with 1960 cc FPF’s which gave 176 bhp @ 6500 rpm, note the twin-throat SU’s. Car is Hill’s ‘353’

The photograph below shows the beautifully designed and fabricated spaceframe chassis, de-Dion tube, and its locating links fore and aft. Inboard discs and calipers, Lotus ‘Queerbox’ mock-up, only the coil springs are missing.

Two de-Dion cars were built, ‘301’ and ‘351’, definitive spec 12’s were fitted with Chapman’s stunning, simple and effective ‘Chapman Strut’ suspension. Note that ‘351’ was converted to strut specifications.

(J Ross)

 

‘353’ with a focus on its perky little rump and particularly its Chapman Strut rear suspension (M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

The 12 was Chapman’s second single-seater design, the first was a project for Tony Vandervell to design the 1956 Vanwall chassis- it and its successors were rather competitive cars, winner of the 1958 International Cup for F1 Manufacturers.

The Lotus chassis was made of 1 inch 20 gauge tube, the bottom rails used aircraft spec Reynolds 531 material. Curved inch square cross-members linked the main longerons, whilst the upper rails were of inch round 20 gauge linked by similar sized verticals to the lower members. All triangulation was by 3/4 inch tube. The undertray was attached rigidly to the bottom bay to aid stiffness, the spaceframe itself weighed 47 pounds complete with all brackets.

(M Bisset)

Front suspension is by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units.

Or perhaps more accurately a wide based lower wishbone, single top link and sway bar which also performed locational duties. A classic case of Chapman minimalism or getting something to do two purposes.

Australian Lotus 12 Connection…

I’d finished a nice neato-quickie article to the point above and then thought, hang on a minute, there is a nice Australian connection to a couple of these cars in that ‘351’ was brought to Australia by crop-duster pilot/business owner Ern Tadgell in 1958 and Frank Gardner imported the ex-Gee Hill ‘353’ in 1961.

Both are still in Australia too, so lets head off in that direction, a 500 word exercise has turned into a 7000 word feature mind you.

‘351’ was named ‘Sabakat’ as a ruse to keep the Australian Federal Fiscal Fiends (Australian Taxation Office) from imposing duty on the car imported by Tadgell in the hold of a Percival EP.9 crop-duster he and his friend, business partner and fellow racer Austin Miller brought back to Australia. In similar fashion, Aussies ‘Miller Special’ which occupied the hold in another EP.9 piloted by Austin, was in reality a Cooper T41 Climax.

Sabakat was raced by Ern for two years powered by the Climax FPF 1.5 engine before the motor blew in a reasonably big way. He sought to improve the 12’s pace by fitment of a 7.6 litre Lycoming aircraft engine in an act of mechanical butchery- in the sense that the conversion was a back of the paddock, crude, blacksmith’s exercise.

It was comprehensively burned to a corn-chip in an accident during the AGP weekend at Lowood, Queensland in 1960.

Ern Tadgell In ‘351’ or Sabakat at, still 1.5 CC FPF powered (autopics.com.au)

Unsuccessful in his endeavours to acquire the ex-Hill ‘353’ circa 1970 racer/historian Graham Howard created a replica of Sabakat with the assistance of many of his friends and contacts, most notably Tony Caldersmith who fabricated the chassis and brought the project together.

Whilst Graham is sadly no longer with us ‘Sabakat’ still is- every time I see that car I am reminded of that kind, decent man and uber-enthusiast. This car has been well chronicled over the years not least by Graham himself in Australian ‘Sports Car World’ magazine eons ago.

‘353’s history is covered in even greater detail as the current owner for many years, Adelaide’s Mike Bennett, obtained so much information in the process of researching the car he wrote a limited edition book about it- ‘Lotus 12 Chassis No 353: The History’ no doubt some of you have a copy (I don’t).

Lets focus on ‘353’ initially, Sabakat is in many ways the more interesting story, we will come back to it later on.

Mike Bennett picks things up- ‘353 is one of the two cars which took part in Lotus’ first GP at Monaco in 1958 where it was driven by Graham Hill, the other Lotus 12, chassis ‘357’,  was driven by Cliff Allison. Graham went on to drive ‘353’ at the Dutch and Belgian GP before he moved over to the Lotus 16. These Monaco cars survive today after they both spent many years unused and in storage.’

‘353’ was a 1957 build car, the very first race for of a 12 was Cliff Allison’s Lavant Cup entry on 22 April 1957, he was classified seventh in the race won by Tony Brooks Cooper T41 Climax FWB.

The Twelves missed the following British Silverstone, Brands and Snetterton meetings in April/May but Herbert MacKay-Fraser raced ‘351’ to second place behind Jack Brabham’s Cooper T43 FPF at Brands on 9 June.

Hill in ‘353’ Goodwood, Easter Monday 1958

‘353’ first raced (using the F2 Index as my reference source- it is probably more up to date than some of the books I have I suspect) in the BRDC International Trophy meeting at Silverstone on 14 September. Both Allison and Henry Taylor drove it in the heats with Allison retiring in the final.

Hill raced it in the Woodcote Cup at Silverstone in late September for fifth place- Roy Salvadori won from Brabham, both aboard works Cooper T43’s with Allison third in ‘357’.

The 5 October Oulton Park International Gold Cup was an F2 event in 1957, Brabham and Allison were first and second with Hill eleventh in ‘353’.

Over the Winter ‘353’ and ‘357’ were prepared for an assault on the 1958 Grand Prix season primarily by changing the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF with engines of 2 litres in capacity. It would be some while yet until Climax invested in a 2.5 litre version of a motor which became iconic. With a lot of work the Lotus sequential ‘Queerbox’ was gaining some semblance of reliability led by Keith Duckworth, we will come back to that in a little bit.

Before the commencement of the 1958 European Championship season in Monaco- Moss took an historic mid-engined victory in Rob Walkers Cooper T43 Climax at Buenos Aires in mid-January, Hill and Allison raced their Twelves in several non-championship F1 events in the UK.

The first was the F2 Lavant Cup at Goodwood where Hill and Allison were second and third behind Brabham’s Cooper T43. During the same 7 April meeting they also raced in the F1/F2 Glover Trophy- a DNF for Hill in ‘353’ and fourth place for Cliff in ‘357’ behind Hawthorn’s Ferrari Dino 246 and the works Cooper T45 Climaxes of Brabham and Salvadori.

At the BARC 200 at Aintree on 19 April Hill was seventh and Allison eighth and at the BRDC International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone on 3 May Hill was eighth and Cliff sixth in ‘353’ and ‘357’ respectively.

Some days prior to 18 May, the Lotus entourage headed off in the direction of the famous Principality.

Graham settles himself into ‘353’ whilst Roy Salvadori, Cooper T45 Climax comes past. Silverstone, BRDC Intl Trophy 3 May 1958 (J Ross)

At Monaco Allison was sixth in ‘357’ and Hill, DNF engine as he was in both the two following rounds at Zandvoort and Spa- Allison was sixth and fourth. Graham had shocking reliability issues in 1958- worse was to come in 1959 mind you!

At Reims both Lotus’ had engine dramas and did not finish albeit Graham raced a Lotus 16, as he did for the balance of the season. He raced ‘353’ in the F2 support race but failed to finish in the Coupe International de Vitesse won by Jean Behra’s converted Porsche RSK.

Hill’s best result amongst a shocker of a season reliability wise was sixth at Monza whereas Cliff’s Q5 at Aintree for the British GP was fantastic toting 2 litres and seventh at Monza were his best, in addition to the Spa result. It was a corker of an F1 debut year, without doubt Cliff proved both how fast he and the 12 were.

Cliff Allison looks on at left, and Colin Chapman at right as Graham sets off for some practice laps in ‘353’

 

Hill In ‘353’ ahead of Tom Bridger, Cooper Climax during the French GP F2 support race, GH car may be ‘352’ (LAT)

 

Hill In ‘353’ during the Monaco weekend. Note front upper and lower wishbone suspension and Girling disc brakes- outboard front and inboard at the rear

After Hill started to race the Lotus 16, chassis ‘353’ was put to one side of the Hornsey workshop but was soon sold to John Fisher in Portsmouth, he engaged a number of drivers to race the car in 1958.

I don’t know much about Mr Fisher but he was a motor-cycle and car dealer based in Portsmouth and became one of a rare breed- F1 private entrant in that he fielded a Lotus 16 for Bruce Halford to race in many championship and non-championship events throughout 1959. The 12 seems to have been a ‘toe in the water’ exercise for the ‘John Fisher Equipe’ as he named his team. At least one source suggests he was Lord Mayor of Bristol later but I can find no hard evidence to support this- I am intrigued to know more about Fisher if any of you can oblige.

Maurice Michy raced ‘353’ in the F2 Trophee d’Auvergne at Clermont Ferrand in late July 1958 and Bruce Halford ran it at the Brands Hatch Boxing Day meeting.

No less than Maria Teresa di Filippis was entered at Syracuse in late April 1959- Stirling Moss won the F2 IX Gran Premio di Siracusa in a Rob Walker Cooper T43 Borgward from Jean Behra’s works Ferrari 156 and Jack Brabham’s Cooper T45 Climax, di Filippis was out with an oil leak after completing 10 of the races 55 laps.

Crystal Palace’s London Trophy was raced to F2 rules in 1959, Bruce Halford raced ‘353’ again without success, he had an undisclosed mechanical problem which outted the car after 20 laps- Salvadori’s Cooper T43 Climax won.

Bruce Halford aboard ‘353’ at Brands on Boxing Day 1958. Mike Hawthorn looks on. Mike has less than a month to live, he died on 22 January 1959 (J Ross)

In 1959 Frank Gardner arrived in the UK from Australia, buying the car from John after a demonstration by Bruce Halford.

After a few brief outings it was shipped back to Australia in 1960 where it has been ever since. Whilst John Blanden claims Gardner raced the car in the UK I have found no evidence in terms of published race results to support that, but it is entirely plausible that he tested it. ‘It lay unused for some 27 years in New South Wales due to a failed crown wheel and pinion which is unique to the car. My friend Don Asser and I acquired the car in (the annual Adelaide Grand Prix auction) in 1991 and we returned it to its former glory over four years’ wrote Mike Bennett.

Frank Gardner had been running the Mobil Service Station at Whale Beach, a superb place on the northern end of Sydney’s Barrenjoey Peninsula (the stretch from Manly to Palm Beach in simple terms) with ‘Len Deaton calling around to put fuel in his motorbike and a friendship grew. It seems that Len funded the process of getting them all to the UK’, that is Frank, Len and his wife Veda and children Rik and Ti.

Frank, with a strong track-record in Australia in his C and D Type Jaguars did rather well in the UK but in the early days he was just another youthful (but not what you would call young) racer from The Antipodes trying to make his way in a much bigger pond than the one he left in Australia.

FG and Rik Deaton running amok, possibly Mallory Park (L Deaton)

 

FG at work in the ex-Allison/Team Lotus transporter, place unknown (L Deaton)

 

FG services the transporter supervised by Chief Mechanics Ric and Ti Deaton (L Deaton)

Along the way they acquired the ex-Team Lotus transporter not from Lotus but from John Campbell-Jones at the ‘Cornwall Garage and Engineering Co’ who had bought it from Lotus earlier.

‘The unit had originally been built by Cliff Allison, probably using a bus from the family business in Cumbria and taken with him when he joined Lotus. The swing-out crane on the side was Cliff’s way of being able to lift out engines etc at circuits.’

In time honoured fashion, part of the business model of Australian racers from John Snow pre-war to Alan Jones and beyond was to acquire competitive, or thereabouts, racing cars in the UK and ship them home to Australia to a scene which was not quite as hot as that in Europe. In that process valuable cash was raised to keep the racer afloat for season in Europe.

And so it was that the Leaton’s and FG bought three cars- the 12, a Lotus Eleven and a Cooper FJ- the latter ‘in fact was an ex-Rob Walker 2 litre Climax car raced raced by Moss and converted back to FJ before sale’ Bennett’s research found.

All three cars made their way to Australia- the 11 and 12 are still here whereas the Cooper ended up in the US.

The photo of the Lotus 18’s on the way to the docks below is taken with the SheppErton Film Studios behind the wall. On a trip in 2010 Bennett managed to find the exact spot from the the passing road and glimpsed the block of flats, the only difference with the elapse of fifty years being the satellite dishes attached to the abodes!

(L Deaton)

During 1960 Gardner was racing Lotus 18 Formula Juniors supported by Jim Russell’s school, I am sure the proprietor didn’t notice the missing company truck for a few hours to deal with FG’s commerce to keep his racing career afloat. Isn’t it a wonderful shot to show what it took in those days?

In 1960 Frank Gardner raced a Cooper T52 Ford Formula Junior and in 1960 a Lotus 20 Ford entered by the Jim Russell School, Deaton and his family returned to Australia setting about selling the three cars.

The Twelve was advertised for 2200 pounds, eventually selling to Joe Hills in July 1962 who removed the Climax engine. Later that year it was sold to a partnership of Ian Stewart and David Conlon who fitted a 1500 Ford engine- in 1963 it reverted to the sole ownership of David Conlon who retained it, running it on only several occasions when driven by Garry Berman until 1967.

That year David Holyoake acquired it and retained it all the way through until 1991. ‘For many years the car was stored in his Camden, NSW tyre store surviving with its original chassis, alloy bodywork, suspension, radiator, 5-speed sequential gearbox, fibreglass fuel tank in the tail, wheels, seat etc.’

Back to Mike Bennett.

‘During the painting process we discovered the ‘No 2′ centre punched in all the body panels which identified the car (with the assistance of ex-works mechanic Willie Griffiths) as the one driven by Denis Jenkinson on public roads in Hampshire on Christmas Day in 1957.’

‘This secret jaunt started from The Phoenix Hotel in Hartley Wintney and was witnessed by Colin Chapman, Bill Boddy and Merv Therriault. Merv, a Canadian mechanic at Team Lotus had nothing better on offer for Christmas Day than to go to The Phoenix and start up and warm up the car ready for Denis to drive.’

‘Inevitably, of course the car broke down with a lucky family having a surprise visitor over Xmas lunch when Jenkinson sought the use of a phone to alert the Lotus lads to an inert Lotus. In a wonderful touch Merv, now 83, is coming over from Vancouver to mechanic on the car’ in Mikes Goodwood Festival of Speed run in 2012.

‘The car driven by Cliff Allison at Mallory for MotorSport was in fact chassis ‘359’ the ex Ivor Bueb car not his ‘old-banger’ chassis ‘357’ which is now being raced in the UK by Nick Rossi. Chassis ‘357’ lay dismantled for many years’ in a mixture of Aldershot, just adjacent to the north-east of Farnham, and the village of Bentley, nearby to the west wrote a combination of Bennett and Doug Nye.

Mike Bennett continues in relation to ‘353’‘…Gary Berman was involved with the car, he drove it for David Conlon, the owner at the time. David had the car when he operated the BP service station in Silverwater, Sydney…Regarding the use of an MGA gearbox, to clarify this, two Lotus 12 cars came to Australia, #351 and #353.’

‘#351 had it survived (in original form) would have been a real piece of Lotus history, it was the first Lotus single-seater to turn a wheel’ as the second 12 built. It was fitted with a 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF (F2) engine as all Twelves originally were but the Queerbox had not been finished because the ZF gears were delayed.’

As a consequence ‘351’ was fitted with an MG Magnette gearbox attached to the engine with a stepped-down special rear diff in the tail- a BMC B Series differential inside a Lotus casing with a specially made three gear 1:1 transfer case to lower the driveline under the driver’s seat. All of the later cars had the five speed Lotus Queerbox.’

Chapman in amongst it July 1957- two 12’s in front of him, 6 built in 1956 and a similar number in 1957 (J Ross)

 

Chapman tests ‘351’ at Silverstone in March 1957 (G Goddard)

 

Team Lotus Lotus 12 ‘351’ March 1957 Silverstone test session- standing are Chapman, Ron Flockhart and Graham Hill, kneeling left is Willie Griffiths whilst Mike Costin is in the cap on the right. 351’ still fitted with de Dion rear suspension at this early stage (G Goddard)

#351 was Lotus’ first test bed’. The car was the chassis run during the very first test at Silverstone on 11 March 1957 attended by Mike Costin, Graham Hill, Willie Griffiths and Colin Chapman, the car was driven that day by the chief and Hill.

Chapman and Herbert MacKay Fraser were entered in ‘351’ at the Lavant Cup, Goodwood in April but failed to start. MacKay-Fraser was second to Jack Brabham in the BRSCC F2 race at Brands in June but missed the final of the London Trophy at Crystal Palace as the transmission failed in his heat- that 10 June meeting appears to be the ‘351’s last in the UK.

Its intriguing why, at that stage of the game Ern Tadgell chose a Lotus rather than a Cooper but perhaps his choice was around personal preference rather than the way the wind appeared to be blowing in terms of the competitiveness of mid-engine cars.

Coopers had made a huge impact in Australia- both air and water cooled, Jack Brabham won the 1955 Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield, South Australia in the Cooper T40 Bristol he knocked together quickly enough to make his Championship GP debut at Aintree during the 1955 British GP.

‘It (351) was sold ‘new’ to Ern Tadgell…and imported into Australia in the belly of a cropdusting aircraft which somehow bypassed a few customs officers- thereafter it was known as Sabakat. After blowing its (Climax) engine it was fitted with a Lycoming aircraft engine, crashing and burning at Lowood, Queensland in 1960’ during the Australian Grand Prix carnival in a preliminary race.

‘It was totally destroyed, however, Graham Howard, with the skills of Tony Caldersmith, made a replica of Sabakat…#353 always had its 5-speed sequential gearbox but when the crown-wheel and pinion failed and could not be replaced, an attempt was made in David Holyoake’s ownership to fit a VW gearbox transaxle in the tail, but its installation was never completed’ wrote Mike Bennett.

(M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

‘The gearbox for the Lotus 12 was a unique design and a major challenge for Lotus.’

‘It was a five-speed sequential gearbox with a reverse. The hard steel components for the gearbox were made for Lotus by ZF in Germany. In fact Keith Duckworth’s first overseas visit was to ZF to oversee the ZF component’s manufacture. The gearbox was also used in early Lotus 15s.’

‘The LSD carried a unique crownwheel and pinion with a large hypoid offset. This was necessary to get the prop shaft below the drivers seat. The rear universal joint is right under the drivers seat in a safety cage. One wag noted that if the UJ broke the driver gets to join the Vienna Boys Choir!’

‘David Holyoake told us that he and his brother drove the car with its failing crown wheel and pinion until it would move no more. The remains of the crown wheel attest to this. Attempts were made by David in the 1970’s to get a replacement from ZF without success.’

‘In around 1984 Bill Friend in the UK had a small batch of these CW&P made and we acquired the last one as a spare. Currently there is another run of CW&P being planned for the handful of Lotus 12 owners in the world. It is one spare part worth keeping on the shelf as they seem to get made once every 30 years!’

‘Keith Duckworth made a significant contribution to making the gearbox reliable, his positive stop gearchange worked first time as well as his fabricated “sump” around the crown wheel which holds the oil in close proximity. Initially the gearbox was planned to be dry-sump but in Team Lotus hands the front gear case was closed off and remained “wet”, the dry sump pump being only used to squirt oil onto the CW&P. The scavenge and pressure pump is the engine oil pump off a Velocette MSS’ continued Mike.

‘353’ again at Motorclassica in 2018 (M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

 

(LAT)

Let’s exit Europe more or less where we started, with a great photograph- this time Cliff Allison at Monaco in 1958, doesn’t ‘357’ look rather purposeful and pretty.

 

Lotus 12 ‘351’ aka Sabakat…

 

(unattributed)

Ern Tadgell in the Gnoo Blas pits during ‘351’s first race meeting in Australia, the South Pacific Championship Gold Star round, over the Australia Day long weekend in January 1958.

In his research Graham Howard unearthed the factory ‘351 build card’ which records ‘Chassis 351 fitted with FPF engine No 1003 & MGA gearbox sold to Tadgell’.

Hungry bell-mouths of two twin-throat SU’s, car still, in ex-factory specification inclusive of lovely red leather bound steering wheel.

Bill Turnbull, who helped Tadgell with the car in Toowoomba recalls ‘that Ern used methanol fuel which did not suit the cork carb floats, and that there were overheating problems which warped the head.’ The little FPF blew during the Longford Trophy weekend in 1960. Turnbull believes Tadgell picked up the ‘Sabakat’ name in the Middle East, somewhere on the flight between England and Australia!

Tadgell and Miller were a couple of ‘Boys Own’ type characters, the likes of which are not around any more. Sadly.

The duo met in the dying days of World War 2 in the Royal Australian Air Force and like so many pilots post-war attempted to parlay their newly developed skills into a career, and so it was that Super Spread Aviation Pty. Ltd. was incorporated in 1952, aerial crop-dusting was new at the time.

That they found motor racing was a common path for many of those who fought and survived the war and needed some excitement to fill a gap in their lives.

The Edgar Percival EP.9 was demonstrated in Australia by way of a sales tour conducted by popular British racing pilot, Beverley Snook between May and July 1957. In June 1957 Super Spread placed an order for two aircraft, the dynamic duo made their way to the UK in the months prior to their marvellous adventure return flights to Australia.

The two Super Spread Percival EP.9’s at Moorabbin in 1961- how easy would a stripped Lotus 12 or Cooper T41 chassis fit in there!? This plane still exists and nicely in Austin Miller’s son’s hands. He and the late Austin bought it in 1996, it was restored and then added back to the Civil Register of aircraft in July 1998. In another racing sidebar, one of the many owners of this plane down the decades was Lionel Van Praag, the pre-war champion speedway bike racer about whom I wrote not so long ago (G Goodall)

They left Stapleford Aerodrome in Essex, where the aircraft were built, on 19 September 1957- each of the planes contained their new racing cars, the chassis of which would have been accommodated easily, contrary to some reports that have it that the cars were ‘cut-up’ and re-welded back together again in the Land of Oz.

Austin’s ex-Paul England Cooper T41 was the more astute purchase but Ernie’s Lotus was not to be sneezed at, although neither were outright contenders amongst the Gold Star grids of the day- 1958 topliners were the Lex Davison Ferrari 500/750, Stan Jones Maserati 250F and Ted Gray’s Tornado Chev, but on a good day they were certainly point-scoring machines. Click here for an article on Aussie’s Cooper;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/20/aussie-miller-cooper-t41-climax-trevallyn-hillclimb-launceston-tasmania-1959/

After 32 stops between England and Australia! our two intrepid adventurers flew their EP9’s into outer Melbourne’s Moorabbin Airport, where they were based, on 27 October 1957.

Germane to the story and Sabakat’s new engine is a third EP.9, chassis or frame number 32, which Super Spread acquired a little later. It was air freighted to Australia in parts and assembled locally by the company. This aircraft provided the engine which was soon to be fitted to Sabakat.

On 15 April 1958, after completing a rebuild of that plane following a crash on Flinders Island in February, Austin and engineer Bill Symons took to the skies at Moorabbin and ‘immediately after take-off the aircraft climbed steeply, stalled and crashed to the aerodrome. The elevator cables had been installed so as to reverse normal operating sense’ the official report into the accident recorded. Both guys were seriously hurt, the badly damaged airframe was struck off the aircraft register on 28 April 1958.

Whilst the planes wings and other parts went into EP.9 #46, the Lycoming engine was aok and sat unused in Super Spread’s workshops for a little while…

Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S from Tadgell- note that the car by this stage is red…Longford 1959 (P O’May)

 

Tadgell, Middle Ridge, Toowoomba 1958 (D Willis)

Ern raced the Lotus extensively throughout Australia from the time it arrived contesting some Gold Star events, including Lowood- where he took the lap record, Bathurst, Longford and other circuits. In addition, he also had occasional drives in Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder, the car these days in Lindsay Fox’ collection in Melbourne.

At some point he based himself in Queensland, the preparation and modification of ‘351’ was done up north. I know from discussions with Austin Miller’s son Guy, that Aussie, apart from being a very talented pilot could also wield machine tools with the best of them- his cars were self prepared inclusive of maintenance and rebuilding his FWB and FPF Climaxes. I doubt Aussie was involved in the work on ‘351’ at this stage but am intrigued to know exactly who modified ‘351’.

All was fine with Ern’s Climax engine until the March 1960 Longford Trophy when the motor let go during the race won by Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax, by then Austin had a T51 too, his 2.2 litre FPF engined car failed after 3 laps, so not a good weekend for the two aviators.

What to do next with three months until the AGP at Lowood on 12 June was Tadgell’s challenge?

The percentage play would have been to rebuild the Climax engine to 1960 cc which Ern’s block would have accommodated- but the potential to run up the front with a 270 bhp powered Lotus, oops, Sabakat was too great a temptation!

The dogs breakfast- Sabakat Lycoming presented for scrutineering at Lowood in 1960. ‘Take it home matey’ appears a reasonable response by todays standards, but they were different times of course. Note the immense width of the Lycoming flat-6 compared with the slender Climax inline-4 (SCW)

 

(B Miles)

 

Inlet tracts and stub exhausts of 7.6 litre, beefy Lycoming clear (B Thomas)

The Lycoming engine fitted to the EP.9 was a member of the O-480 family of six-cylinder, horizontally opposed, air-cooled, two overhead valve motors. All were of 7.86 litres in capacity but there were at least five variants all with an additional prefix preceding the ‘480’ to indicate the specific configuration of the engine.

Until recent times Sabakat’s Lycoming engine type and capacity has been the subject of conjecture, Ern didn’t help by listing the capacity of the engine in the AGP program as 8150 cc which just does not fit. Some photographs, most notably those of Bill Miles and Brier Thomas posted online in recent years make it clear the engine was a Lycoming horizontally opposed six- not a four. Publicly available information about the engines fitted to the EP.9’s also makes the detective work easier than pre-internet times as well.

The exact specification of the engine is unknown but it was normally aspirated by carburettor- and unsupercharged which suggests a power output between 270-295 horsepower at circa 3000 rpm. Geoff Goodall’s aviation site quotes the EP.9 engine type as Lycoming GIO-480.

270-295 bhp sounds great of course but the engine, despite lots of alloy was big, bulky and heavy at 498 pounds. The 1475 cc Climax FPF was small, compact and light at 280 pounds, so the little, svelte, beautifully triangulated Progress chassis all of a sudden had another 220 pounds in weight, and lots of girth to cope with. Magazine reports of the day indicate the chassis was lengthened to accommodate the Lycoming.

It goes without saying that in a straight line, everything would perhaps be hunky-dory but the propensity of the machine to change direction with anything other than disinterested alacrity would be something else, unless some supreme engineering was involved.

But the photographic evidence suggests that that was not the case and that rather, ‘automotive sodomy’ was performed with a ‘rough as guts’ insertion of Lycoming, to put it politely.

Note the jury-rigged external fuel tank above and long, three inlet tracts from carburettor atop the engine and (below) stub exhausts.

It is not clear whether Tadgell and his team had time to test the car prior to race weekend but reports of the day suggest not.

This account is by Romsey Quints aka Bill Tuckey in Sports Car World ‘Last of all (entrants) to arrive was a pink painted monster barely recognisable as what had been once Ern Tadgell’s 1.5 litre Lotus-based Sabakat. Peeping like bare skin at a concubine’s waist from among the odd tubes and chopped up-panels of the poor baby’s lengthened frame was 8150 cc (we now know it was 7860 cc) of grinning air-cooled flat-six Lycoming aircraft engine.’

‘Towards dusk an ashen Mr Ernest Tadgell, sweat streaming from every pore despite the coolth of the evening, wheeled his Lycoming-Lotus through the pit gate after covering three eye-popping laps. Muttering something about frantic understeer and three-thou at 120, he disappeared into the night.’

Australian Grands Prix back in the days of yore had a sprint race or two before the main event. Ern lined up his aero-engine special and only completed one full lap before disaster struck, accounts differ, either something broke or he ran wide on a corner but whatever the case the result was the end of ‘351’.

Sports Car World saw it this way ‘…Tadgell made one hair-raising tour of the circuit, embarked on another and then understeered off at the left-hand Castrol Corner’. Bill Turnbull says that the torque of the Lycoming engine was too much for the rear suspension hub which broke, overturning the car. Back to SCW, ‘The ungainly Lycoming-engined brute rolled on contact with the (hay) bales, tipped bold Ernie on the ground and then flopped in a blazing heap beside him. A courageous official hauled the erstwhile pilot out of the area and doused his burning clothes…from the course ambulance Ernest Tadgell Esq, announced his retirement from racing.’

 

The steering wheel appears re-usable but not much else (B Thomas)

‘All that was left of Sabakat, which had been largely magnesium alloy, were the steel wheels and hubs’- perhaps the hubs but not the wheels for they were magnesium ‘wobbly- webs’.

Tadgell impacted the result of the AGP indirectly in that Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati broke a half-shaft on the line in the preliminary which claimed Sabakat. The fire which Tadgell started and was fuelled by the hay bales and dry grass took some while for officialdom to get under control- all of which was valuable time Alec put to good use by personally repairing his car which he then used to win the race by the slenderest of margins from Lex Davison’s Aston Martin DBR4/300. Click here for more about Mildren and a detailed account of the AGP;

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Whilst Sabakat was dead Tadgell raced on in an immaculate Lynx Ford FJ in 1962/1963 but his lifestyle got the better of him in the end, he died of burns from a crop-dusting accident in 1965, his, like Austin Miller’s are life stories which would make stunning reading. As Romsey Quints observed, ‘Ernie Tadgell was a marvellous man who ate up life like a cat at a dish of ice-cream.’

Bill Turnbull wrote that the remains of Sabakat were stored in an aircraft hangar near Oakey, but by the time Graham Howard went searching in the early seventies whatever there was had been ‘spread by the winds’. Tadgell’s family are still involved in aviation, servicing helicopters.

Lex Davison’s Cooper Vincent s/c leads Ern Tadgell’s Porsche Spl in the very first race of the very first meeting at Phillip Island, the ‘Grand Opening Meeting’ on 15 December 1956- clearly Ern liked air-cooled cars- he had a few ‘works’ drives of Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder too (P Island)

 

Very rare shot of Ernest Tadgell in his Porsche Spl, no idea of the circuit but perhaps Lowood given the domicile of the photographer. Note sure about the chassis but the engine of this car was a 356 1498 cc flat-4 fitted, of course, with twin Solexes- circa 100 bhp @ 6200 rpm, box a modified VW. An ‘FV’ a decade before its time- what became of it? (J Psaros)

Lets have a look at some photos of the Sabakat Replica to round out the story.

From idea to first test was the best part of a decade- Graham Howard sought to acquire ‘353’ in 1970, the first test session for Sabakat was at Amaroo Park, Sydney in April 1979.

Tony Caldersmith working on the new Sabakat chassis in 1973 (SCW)

 

Tony Caldersmith did the Grand Tour of Europe as we Aussies all eventually do. He managed to get a job at Hornsey building pre-production Elites in 1958 and later was Service Foreman at Cheshunt, inclusive of writing the Elite Service Manual. He later switched to Team Lotus ‘in charge of their base operations, which basically meant creating an organisation that rebuilt the expired components of the last race and had new set ready for the next event’. He left to go to Handley-Page working on Victor bombers and ‘rejected a lot of sheet metal work as not up to Qantas standards! The photo at Hornsey is of the prototype Lotus 7 Mk2 Ford 1172cc on top of purchaser, and friend of Tony’s Warren King’s Riley 9 (T Caldersmith)

Howard relates how audacious a project it was in his Sports Car World article- he knew little about Sabakat at the outset, let alone that it was ‘351’, he had none of the components of the car nor drawings either.

But by 1972 he was piecing together the history of the dozen Lotus Twelves, had a set of drawings from John Player Team Lotus Team Manager Peter Warr, was sourcing the many bits he needed and critically had the support of Sydney domiciled ex-Lotus employee Tony Caldersmith who agreed to get involved and fabricate the chassis and other key bits and pieces.

‘…Tony’s contribution held everything else together. And just as he had been able to dig down into his files to produce a (12) drawing, throughout the whole project he was forever digging into his resources and producing solutions, calculations, not to mention actual components, to take the project a stage further’ wrote Graham.

Enthusiast, racer, restorer, fettler, recognised global Lotus expert, author and all round good guy Graham Campbell Howard in the early 2000’s (AMN)

 

Howard at Amaroo Park, Sabakat 2 (B Caldersmith)

I don’t propose to paraphrase Graham’s long, beautifully written and detailed SCW article other than to observe that it was an amazing triumph to build such a car by an impecunious enthusiast, supported as he was by an army of friends and colleagues who allowed the realisation of a dream. It is wonderful to see Sabakat 2 on a regular basis.

Brian Caldersmith kept a photographic record of the restoration, to complete this piece.

(B Caldersmith)

Graham in Tony Caldersmith’s driveway proving just how light that spaceframe is!- roughly 50 pounds. 1973 i’m guessing.

(B Caldersmith)

 

(B Caldersmith)

We are quite some way down the track by this stage, just use your eyes to see the multitude of bits and pieces sourced, and or fabricated by Tony.

Engine is a ‘period’ Climax 1.5 FPF from the ex-Charlie Whatmore Lotus 11- so too are the gearbox and wheels. Adrien Schagen donated a pair of smashed Lotus 11 de Dion hubs which were identical to the 12 design.

(B Caldersmith)

On wheels now, nice pair of flairs Graham- ‘Staggers’ perhaps?

Say 1977’ish, still in the pre-build stage well before everything comes apart and the chassis enamelled and re-assembled.

After getting a quote from the very prominent Stan Brown in Sydney for the body, Doug Nye introduced Graham to the Donington Collections panel man, John Cole with whom he contracted. He ended up paying pretty much the same amount without the advantage of being able to ‘chew the ear’ of a local artisan! The result was mighty fine mind you.

(B Caldersmith)

 

(B Caldersmith)

Completed.

In the Amaroo paddock, date folks- Graham’s ex-Alex Strachan Lotus 6 Climax alongside Sabakat 2. Who is the burly fellow fettling the 6?

And racing at an Historic Amaroo.

(J Lambert)

Sabakat In more recent times at an Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park display. Sabakat lives on…

Erratum…

Mike Gosbell, the current custodian of Sabakat got in touch after publication with some engine details of ‘351’.

‘The build sheet on chassis ‘351’ that Mike Bennett gave me shows that the FPF motor was ‘1031’ not ‘1003’. ‘1031’ is period to around September 1957 so Ern Tadgell got a new motor when he purchased ‘351’. I don’t know what happened to its original motor, but it may be ‘1002’ which is unaccounted for.’

‘FPF ‘1003’ is the motor that Graham Howard used in the cars re-creation ex-Jack Brabham works Cooper T43 F2, the motor that was removed at Monaco (1958) and replaced with a 2 litre FPF F1 motor so Jack could run after an accident in qualifying.’

‘I have a copy of Graham Howard’s original application to CAMS (to build the recreation) showing that the FPF motor would be ‘1005’, that was the Charlie Whatmore motor but was not used- that motor was used when Tony Caldersmith rebuilt the Mildren Cooper T51′ Mike wrote.

Tailpiece 1…

(D Beard)

Mike Bennett’s ‘353’ during the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, David Beard’s creative approach pops a Lotus 29 Ford Indycar into the foreground. Nice.

Bibliography…

‘Theme Lotus’ Doug Nye, Aviation Safety Network, Geoff Goodall’s Aviation History Site, F2 Index, The Nostalgia Forum Lotus 12 and Sabakat threads in particular the contributions of Stephen Dalton, Kenzclass, Ray Bell, Dick Willis, Mike Bennett, Bill Turnbull and James Lambert, Mike Gosbell

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, John Marsden, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, Len Deaton, Australian Motorsports News, David Beard, Brian Caldersmith, James Lambert, Dick Willis

Tailpiece 2: Allison, Moss, Scott-Brown, Goodwood, April, 1958…

(Tumblr)

Allison’s 12 Climax ‘357’ leads Moss’ Rob Walker Cooper T43 Climax with Archie Scott-Brown’s Connaught B Type through the Goodwood Chicane during the April 1958 Glover Trophy.

Cliff was fourth in ‘357’, Archie sixth whilst Moss’s Climax motor had a nasty conrod failure. Mike Hawthorn won from Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori- ‘old school’ Ferrari Dino 246 from John Cooper’s latest Cooper T45 Climaxes.

Moss took the first championship F1 win for a mid-engined car in one of Walker’s T43’s at Buenos Aries only a couple of months before on 19 January.

Finito…

(G Bruce)

Ron Tauranac’s two Brabham BT5 Lotus-Ford twin-cams’s were built in 1963…

The Ian Walker Racing ‘SC-1-63′ achieved plenty of success in the hands of both Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins.

The car used a typical Tauranac multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with upper and lower wishbones at the front and lower links, inverted top wishbone and two radius rods- coil spring/shocks front and rear. Rack and pionion steering, disc brakes all around, a Hewland 4-speed gearbox and a Cosworth tuned Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam of 1596cc giving circa 140 bhp completed the package.

The photograph below is a BT5 test session at Goodwood early in 1963 with the Aussies out in force, oh, and a Kiwi.

From left in the nice, warm ‘jumper’ is Paul Hawkins, lanky Frank Gardner, the Guvnor and Denny Hulme. All rather handy at the wheel of a motorcar- and on the end of a ‘spanner’.

(unattributed)

Credits…

Gordon Bruce, frankgardnermotorsport.com

Tailpiece: Gardner, BT5 Ford, Mallory Park…

(FGM)

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com.au/JEllis)

Frank Gardner leads a twenty-three car field away at the start of the 23 lap, 103 mile 1964 Australian Tourist Trophy, Longford on 29 February…

Gardner is aboard Alec Mildren’s Lotus 23B Ford 1.6 from Bib Stillwell, Cooper Monaco Climax FPF 2.7, Frank Matich, Lotus 19B Climax FPF 2.6 and Bob Jane, Jaguar E Type Lightweight and then in the distance is Frank Coad in the Lotus 15 Climax FPF 1960cc which Derek Jolly raced to win this event at Longford in 1960.

The Lotus was for sale, with Coad in Melbourne, close to potential East Coast potential purchesers, rather than in Adelaide where Jolly lived. ‘Hoot’ Gibson bought it for Bevan to race not so long after this, he drove the wheels off it of course, on the way to a drive with Bob Jane Racing several years down the track.

Matich (Brabham BT7A Climax obscured) and Jane seem to have found a nice bit of concrete on which to base themselves for the weekend. Or is a purpose built bit of ‘wheel alignment’ concrete? (oldracephotos.com.au/Smith)

Bob’s E Type had not long been in Australia, it first raced at Calder in December 1963.

Mildren’s Lotus is a new car whilst the great rivals in ‘outright’ sportscars- and from about then single-seaters too with the Matich acquisition of a Brabham BT7A, Stillwell and Matich are racing well developed cars- the 19B was FM’s second Lotus 19, whereas Bib had been racing the Monaco since September 1961.

(S Dalton)

Who is that pushing the Lotus into position with Matich- Bruce Richardson or Geoff Smedley? Gerry Brown is behind the Stillwell Monaco perhaps- click here for plenty on that wonderful machine; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

(S Dalton)

Whilst the opening photo immediately after the start shows Gardner getting the initial jump, 2.7 litres of Coventry Climax torque cannot be denied with Stillwell running strongly as the field contemplates the run up the hill past the Water Towers to the drivers left.

Gardner is second and Matich third, probably taking it easy off the line in deference to the somewhat fragile gearbox, then Jane and perhaps Greg Cusack’s Ford Cosworth 1.5 pushrod engined Elfin Mallala.

Matich looking for something in the Lotus cockpit- ‘his orange maybe’ as Stephen Dalton wryly observed (S Dalton)

The race was disappointing in that Stillwell and Coad were disqualified for push-starts, neither car was fitted with an operable self-starter- whilst Gardner was a DNF with gearbox problems after completing 23 laps.

Stillwell led from start to finish and had the time to make two stops to argue the toss with officialdom- and still was in front of Matich who stayed with Stillwell early- until Bib was disqualified, then Frank eased back confident he would be adjudged the winner.

FM won in 61.18 minutes at a race average speed of 101.25 miles per hour (fastest lap 2:33.0) with Stillwell protesting that his starter motor was operable but wouldn’t start the engine! Jane was second (2:43.3) and Greg Cusack, Elfin Mallala Ford 1475cc, third, a lap behind (2:48.4).

Les Howard was fourth in his Lotus 23 Ford 1098cc, 2 laps adrift (2:57.9), he had a great scrap throughout with the Coad 2 litre Lotus 15 (disqualified) with Bryan Thompson’s Elfin Mallala Climax fifth and John Edwards- the first Tasmanian home, sixth in his Morgan Plus 6 1998cc (3:15.8) 4 laps behind Matich.

Cusack was timed at 140 mph on ‘The Flying Mile’, Matich 150, Stillwell did 156 mph- as did Jane’s E Type.

Checkout ‘Long Weekend at Longford’, a superb Tasmanian Government film of the 1964 Longford weekend, it has excellent coverage of this race, apart from the rest of it which oozes with the relaxed atmosphere of the times.

Cusack’s Elfin Mallala exiting Newry Corner for the run down The Flying Mile (R Bell)

Greg Cusack was on the climb towards Australian National F1, racing a couple of Elfins- an FJ/WR375 and the Mallala sportscar which was derived from Elfin FJ componentry.

Two Mallalas raced that Longford weekend- Cusack’s Ford powered, third placed car and one driven by Shepparton racer, and later Touring Car/Sports Sedan drawcard, Bryan Thomson. The Thommo car was Coventry Climax powered, that 1.9 litre machine was eighth.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

The Cusack Elfin Mallala at rest in the paddock, I’ve long thought the Mallala was the prettiest of all of Garrie Cooper’s sporties. Five of the cars were built in 1962-3 based on the hardware also used by Cooper in the Elfin FJ single-seaters I wrote about a short time ago- all still exist.

As to the drivers of the ‘Humpy’ Holdens, please let me know.

(S Dalton)

Jane above passing the pit complex. Is that the Kerry Cox driven Paramount Jaguar in pitlane?

Matich on his merry way below- a very successful car with quite a few Brabham suspension components by the time FM and his boys had finished with it.

(S Dalton)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Stephen Dalton Collection, Mr Ramsay, Ray Bell

Etcetera…

(Ramsay)

Bevan and Hoot Gibson going for a blast around the streets of Mansfield in the newly acquired, immaculate Lotus 15 Climax, circa 1964- I love this shot, its just so ‘period’.

The story of the ex-works/Jolly/Gibson Lotus 15 is told here; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Tailpiece…

Matich, Lotus 19B on Kings Bridge- he turns to the right as he leaves the bridge in the direction of Longford village. Note the little boat/yacht trailer in the foreground. If memory serves there is/was a boat club in that part of the track?

The 19B met its maker at Lakeside in July 1965. Matich took the car to a Gold Star round we was contesting in his Brabham as preparation for the ’65 ATT, which was held that November and won by Pete Geoghegan in a Lotus 23B Ford. Matich had an enormous accident in the 19B pretty much destroying it and hospitalising himself.

Related thereto was the loss of his Total, the French oil company sponsorship- the local franchise of Total was acquired by Boral Ltd who were not interested in motor racing. As a consequence Matich went in a new direction- sportscars to the exclusion of single-seaters until 1969, the net effect was the purchase of an Elfin 400 Oldsmobile (aka the ‘Traco Oldsmobile’) with which he won the March 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy back here at Longford.

The Matich Lotus 19 story is here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/08/bay-of-plenty-road-race-and-the-frank-matich-lotus-19s/

Finito…

 

 

frank

(Rod MacKenzie)

Frank Gardner using all of his Mildren Alfa’s 310bhp chasing Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 ‘Warwick Farm International’ pole time, 8 February 1969…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 sportscar engine was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing- a step on its way to F1 competition by the Arese marque.

Mildren, a Sydney Alfa Dealer, former Australian Gold Star Champion and Australian Grand Prix winner had one of the most professional teams in Australia. He had impeccable Alfa Romeo/Autodelta connections having acquired and raced two GTA’s and a TZ2 in the early to mid sixties, and in the process ‘polished’ Alfa’s Australian brand, one of the greatest of the ‘Grand Marques’ which was then relatively new to the ‘Oz market.

Click on these links to articles about Alec Mildren and the Mildren Racing Autodelta Alfa’s;

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabham BT11A/BT16 being raced by Gardner on his annual trips home from Europe was being ‘flogged’ by the Repco Brabham, BRM and Coventry Climax V8’s in 1966/7, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections and local marketing needs.

image

What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was? Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the ’68 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in the Brabham BT23A Repco. Bartlett won the ’68 Gold Star in this car and was equal 9th in the ’69 Tasman (Dick Simpson)

Mildren ordered eventaully three 2.5 litre Tipo 33 V8 engines which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D…

The car arrived in Australia in time for the final round of the domestic Gold Star Championship- the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in 1967- FG won upon the cars race debut. He then contested the 1968 Tasman.

The motors were then installed 12 months later into the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car designed by Len Bailey and built for the team by Alan Mann Racing for the 1969 Tasman Series.

Both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman Series and then ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship, when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star  in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively- BT23D and ‘The Sub’ respectively.

In 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s 2 litre ‘TC4V’ 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas injected 275 bhp engine for part of the season.

image

(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

Above is a beautiful photograph of the 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam, fuel injected, 2 plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Jim Clark, Chris Amon and Piers Courage in Lotus 49, Ferrari Dino 246T and McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engine, both of which powered the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’…

‘My memory tells me the Alfa had around 350lbs (of torque) and the Waggott about 230lbs. The useable power range was quite different with the Alfa workable between 4500-8800 rpm and the Waggott 6800-8750rpm. Not perfectly accurate as i work from  memory but around that kind of difference’.

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott.’

image

Kevin Bartlett won the Macau Grand Prix in 1969 in the Mildren Alfa ‘Sub’, here in the paddock. What a handsome bit of kit the car was and still is- restored by Lionel Ayers a decade ago to Waggott engined spec and retained by his family (Natalino Couto)

‘The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations. Frank Gardner having raced only the Alfa Romeo engined variant of each car’.

‘Len Bailey was the (Mildren’s) designer of the tub which flexed a little at the rear with the Alfa’s torque, less so when the Waggott went in, with suspension being a (Brabham designer) Ron Tauranac adaption’.

image

Mildren’s Glenn Abbey fettling the ‘Sub’ in the Singapore GP paddock , 1970 (Eli Solomon)

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the engine. A similar 3 litre, four valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine (the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven two-valvers) was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

The F1 Alfa Romeo 3 litre V8…

Was an all aluminium unit with a bore/stroke of 86mm X 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used, the four camshafts driven by chains.

 

mac engine

Andrea de Adamich, McLaren M14D Alfa Romeo during 1970 (unattributed)

The valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa Romeo/Autodelta claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form. Modified with gear driven camshafts for F1 use, Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10,500 rpm at a time the 3 litre F1 competition- Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12,000 rpm.

It was not enough really, not without impeccable reliability, but Alfa had put their toes back in F1 waters with McLaren in 1970 and then March in 1971- and would return with Brabham in the mid-seventies, as they had started with Mildren’s Brabham BT23D a decade before.

Etcetera: BT23D’1′, New Zealand 1968…

image

Another photo of the Tipo 33 V8 in the spaceframe BT23D- FT200 gearbox clear as are the four coils and two distributors for all those plugs- 2 per cylinder. Car had a chequered history but still exists happily in restored form in Australia (Ian Peak)

 

image

Just to show the ‘Sub’ was yellow! Bartlett the cover boy of this terrific seasonal publication of the 1969 Australian Racing Season. Here the car is in 2 litre Waggott spec

 

Bartlett all ready to go- BT23D with Alec Mildren at right

Bibliography…

Kevin Bartlett, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, Rod MacKenzie, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, Eli Solomon, Natalino Couto

Tailpiece: Rod’s initial Frank Gardner ‘Yellow Sub’ photo at the articles outset, uncropped…

image

Finito…

 

‘My signature shot, Jim Clark Lotus 49 Ford DFW and Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T. Two of the best drivers of their time. Taken early in my photography journey. Not only is it a record of the 1968 Surfers Tasman race, the pic is pretty well balanced and shows the scenic aspect of the old Surfers Paradise track. I describe in the Tasman book, the trauma experienced in getting to and from the race’ (R MacKenzie)

 

I finally bought the Tasman Cup bible at Sandown a while back, what a ripper book it is!…

 

There are some heavy dudes involved in it. Publisher Tony Loxley has assembled a swag of ‘in period’ talent- journalists, photographers and drivers to contribute, forty in all. I blew my tiny mind when I got it home and penetrated the thick plastic, protective cover to unveil content rich words and images. That Sunday afternoon was completely shot.

At $A95 it’s a snip, nearly 500 pages of beautifully printed and bound hardcover with about ninety percent of the (900’ish) images unfamiliar to me. Mucking around with primotipo I’ve seen plenty of shots in the last four years or so- it was awesome to view a vast array of unseen images, some from the archives of ‘snappers ‘I have met online’ who have kindly allowed me to use their work on my ‘masterpiece’.

Which brings me to Rod MacKenzie’s work.

I’ve used his images before but the material in the Tasman tome is sensational for its compositional artistry. So I gave him a yell and said you choose two photos (Clark and Muir) and I’ll choose two (Gardner and Walker) to showcase the work and support this article. The photo captions are Rod’s, his ‘artists notes’ if you will. We plan some occasional articles going forward, many thanks to Rod.

 

‘Frank Gardner, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo negotiates Newry Corner at Longford, Tasmania 1968. Perhaps one of the wettest races i have attended. At least i was taking photos, not driving! This pic has its own appeal, i just pressed the button. Frank’s skills were tested and you can see the race was on public roads with spectataors in the most unsafe areas. Fences were barbed wire, no run-off and badly cambered roadway.’ (R MacKenzie)

 

Rod writes about his work…

‘We all have favourites.

In over fifty years of motor racing photography some of my earlier photos remain dear to me.

However, the photos were not quite as important as the spectacle of close racing between highly skilled ‘pilotes’ in competition with their cotemporaries.

They at the time were the source of income to attend the many race circuits and were sold to magazines in Australia and overseas.

Now the photos have become most important.

These photos are now historical records of these men and some women whose exploits have been written about and add reality to reports and clarity to memories.

I also endeavoured to photograph many of the competitors ensuring not only ‘the stars’ were captured.

Without the photos, memories become clouded and distorted. Not by intent, but by the passage of years.

My photos of several Tasman Series spent some time in the proverbial shoebox during a period of having a new family to bring up.

They were revisted to be included in two books (so far) from Tony Loxley of ‘Full Throttle Publishing’ about Formula 5000 and The Tasman Cup and have been included in many other books now. I have released some of the photos on social media and they are still appreciated judging from some of the comments received.

I take pride in my photos as i try to add ‘something’ above and beyond a picture ‘of a car on asphalt somewhere’. A good black and white photo in my view is more difficult to produce than a colour photo and just suits the history of races.

My photos should convey the ‘atmosphere’ of motor sport- the drama, the commitment, the excitement, the humour, the unusual, and the extraordinary when that is possible.

Consequently my shots can be moody and dark, bright and clear, or show incidents capturing moments of drama.

They generally also have content to ensure recognition of the location of the subjects. The content may be from background, the cars, the weather or the occasion.

Together, Mark Bisset and i plan a small series of ‘favourites’ chosen between us from my vast collection.

These random photos will continue to appear as time and subject allow, and i also invite you to sample a few more from my http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/ website and Facebook Group.

Until the next offering, enjoy the photos here’.

Rod MacKenzie

 

‘One of those shots that work even when most things are not right for composition. The car is too far away, the foreground is irrelevant, the background does not relate to much. BUT John Walker, Matich A50 Repco, in a 1973 wet Tasman race came undone at the Warwick Farm Causeway, and used the short circuit to recover. The pic shows how lost he seemed to be!’ (R MacKenzie)

 

This weighty addition to my shelves got me tangentially thinking about what ‘The Essential Library of Books on Australian Motor Racing History’ comprises. I reckon its these works, in no particular order…

.‘The Official 50 Race History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard (and others)

.‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

.‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard

.‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay

.‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley

.‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan

.‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

.‘Jack Brabham Story’ Brabham and Doug Nye

.‘Tasman Cup 1964-1975’ Tony Loxley (and others)

.‘History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard and Stewart Wilson

.’Historic Racing Cars In Australia’ John Blanden

The above books don’t cover the Repco Racing story in anything remotely approaching full. Two that sorta do are Malcolm Preston’s ‘Maybach to Holden‘ and Frank Hallam’s ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ but both have warts. Malcolm’s is good, mind you, my Repco Brabham Engines buddies say it has quite a few errors. Hallam’s book is 70% insight and 30% arrant bullshit, but you need a fair bit of Repco knowledge to separate, page by page, the gold from the crap. I’ve stayed clear of marque specific books- Catford on Elfin and King on Bugatti for example, as I’m trying to get spread of topics from a small number of books not a long list of works…

I’m really interested to hear from you all on additions or deletions to the list.

The debate isn’t ‘my favourite books on Australian motor racing’ but rather the minimum number of books which most thoroughly tells the history of Australian motor racing. What books should a young enthusiast with limited funds buy is perhaps the filter to apply to your thinking?

Whilst the biographies listed may seem specific- they are, but they also cover heaps of related racing stuff over the period of the subjects life, so have great breadth.

Pre-war Oz racing books are thin on the ground, few were written- in that sense Medley’s and Gullan’s books are gold. So too are the relevant chapters of the ‘History of The AGP’ which provide lots of context in addition to the race reports themselves.

Howard, McKay and Medley were/are enthusiasts/racers who have wonderful historic perspective and deep insight that only masters of subject matter have. Bringing all of the threads about a topic together and drawing conclusions is hard, all have that ability.

All of the books listed are out of print except ‘John Snow’ (Medley still has copies) ‘History of the AGP’ and ‘Tasman Cup’, but all can be obtained with patience on eBay. The only one which is a bit on the exy side is Phil Irving’s book, the prices of which are high given huge global Vincent enthusiast demand in addition to us car guys.

In any event, all debate on the topic is invited, and yes, lets hear of your favourite books as well…

Credits…

Rod MacKenzie Collection

Tailpiece: Bob Muir, Lola T300 Chev, Warwick Farm 1972…

 

(R MacKenzie)

‘Action! Getting close to Bob Muir’s Lola T300 in the Esses at Warwick Farm in 1972. This remains my favourite Warwick Farm location although getting it right was really difficult. There were only a few places that were close enough to warrant an uninteresting background.

So we have the best location, best looking Lola, and a great photo that shows Muir’s speed and commitment at the most difficult section of the ‘Farm’.

Finito…

(AMR)

Bruce McLaren points his Ford F3L/P68 into Druids Hill Bend during the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour on April 7…

I guess we all have our favourite racing eras, my own are the seventies and eighties but visually the ‘last front engined decade’, the fifties and the ‘first mid-engined decade’, the sixties have to be right up there.

In sportscar terms the latter is stunning- the bill of fare without limit from the Ferrari 250P early in the decade to the 512S at its end (1969 design and 1970 raced), Lola Mk6 to T70 Mk3B, Chaparral 2 to 2H, Porsche 904 to 908, Elfin Mallala to ME5 and Ford GT40 to F3L.

The F3L has to be a candidate for the hottest of hotties with its extravagant length, voluptuous but subtle compound curvature- it’s possibly the spunk-muffin of them all but sadly, as is so often the case with stunning chicks, the beauty was only skin deep.

On the face of it Fords 3 litre Group 6 challenger- the designation is an acronym for Prototype 1968 Ford 3 Litre had all it needed to succeed; the backing and funding of Ford UK, Castrol and Goodyear the most punchy, torquey and reliable F1 engine of the day- the Ford Cosworth DFV, it was designed by the very well credentialled Len Bailey- then on the payroll of Harley Copp, Ford Director of Engineering and built by Alan Mann Racing in Byfleet, Surrey. On top of that the roll call of drivers included the best GP and sportscar racers of the day. How could they fail? But tank they did, by early 1969 the project was dead. What went so terribly wrong?

No less than father of the Ford DFV program, Ford’s European Director of Public Affairs, Walter Hayes launched the F3L at a large function of motor racing’s great and good at the Hilton Hotel in early 1968.

The car blew the brains away of all present in terms of its looks, aerodynamics and advanced specification- it was indeed an amazingly compact, fully-enveloped two-seater Grand Prix car in its conception and execution.

(AMR)

Len Bailey was apprenticed at Austin and moved to the US in 1955 where he worked for American Motors and Ford in Dearborn. He was part of a team which worked on Fords racing efforts and then returned to the UK, still employed by Ford as Chief Draftsman on the Ford Advanced Vehicles GT40 project designed by Eric Broadley. The body shape of the GT40 in its successful form was designed by Bailey in the workshops of Specialised Mouldings with assistance from stylists from Ford UK and US. Bailey designed the Mirage adaptation of the GT40 raced by John Wyer in 1967 and the engineering of many of the Alan Mann Racing touring cars.

In Australia Bailey is best known for his late 1968 Alan Mann Racing built, monocoque Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ single-seater, which used some Brabham BT23 componentry (uprights, wheels, steering rack) and was raced very successfully by Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, Bob Muir and Ray Winter way into 1974 powered by Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8 and Waggott 2 litre TC-4V engines in ANF1 and finally the Ford Hart 416B twin-cam ANF2 motor.

Frank Gardner in Len Bailey’s AMR built Mildren Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5V8 Tasman Formula car in the Warwick Farm Esses during the sodden ‘WF 100’ won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW in a blinder of a wet weather drive, FG was third in this excellent car. It was a front three car, the absence of wings before the Australian leg meant the car didn’t realise its ultimate pace that summer- god knows why it was delivered from the UK sans wings, its not as tho Bailey or FG didn’t know they were needed?! Superb car which won races throughout Australasia and Asia thru till 1974. Still extant in the hands of the Ayers Family in Waggott engine form (B McInerney)

 

Superb Ford Cosworth DFV V8 cutaway by Vic Berris (Autocar)

Bailey was inspired to build the F3L by the Ford Cosworth DFV given its small size and light weight. Len decided it would make an ideal sprint engine but Keith Duckworth questioned the engines durability, it was designed for 200 mile Grands Prix events after all- so in the first year, 1968, it was not intended to contest Le Mans.

Despite the DFV being concepted by Colin Chapman and designed by Duckworth to be a stressed member of a car the aluminium monocoque Bailey laid down provided for the engine to be carried by traditional aluminium side booms, a choice which was both unnecessarily heavy and problematic in terms of utility. It took too long to remove and replace th engine and it was said heat problems were caused.

The choice of the chassis design is intriguing- whether it was Bailey’s choice or one imposed on him ‘due to political problems within Ford’ is unclear. The latter seems odd- by the end of 1967 Chapman had agreed to Hayes request to make the engine more widely available in 1968 to other teams ‘so as not to destroy Grand Prix racing’, as Hayes was fearful the Lotus 49 Ford cars would do. So Chapman agreed to that, despite his contract providing Lotus with engine exclusivity for a period of time. The point in this chassis design context is that McLaren and Matra, in designing their 1968 M7A and MS10 GP cars located their engines exactly as Chapman did on the 49- they were bolted the the rear chassis bulkhead, that is used as stressed chassis members rather than supported as Bailey/Mann chose to do, or were forced to do, with their F3L sportscar.

Inperial College wind tunnel in 1967 (unattributed)

To finish this long treatise on the F3L chassis Autosport’s John Bolster in an article he penned about the car in March 1968 reported it ‘was a full monocoque with riveted and bonded aluminium panels; in fact the only unstressed panels are in the small removable nose section and the tail. The skin is of 0.03 inch malleable aircraft alloy throughout, and the shape of the body is intended to produce the lowest possible drag while keeping the small, light car on the ground. At 200 mph it is calculated that a downward force of 600 pounds will be generated’.

The compact size of the F3L is stunning in any picture of it, this is in part due to the cars wheelbase which was a short 7 feet 3 inches with a track of 4 ft 7 ins. The wheelbase was ‘considerably shorter than that of the grand prix single-seaters employing the same power unit’ Bolster wrote. He continued, ‘No doubt this short wheelbase can be used because of the stability conferred by the body shape, and in particular by the Ford-patented vortex generating tail. The overall length is 13 ft 10 ins, the width 5 ft 10 ins, the height 2 ft 11.5 ins and the frontal area 14 sq ft’. Whilst the car undoubtedly had the hands of stylists involved, the fundamental shape was developed with the aid of extensive testing in the Imperial College Wind Tunnel during 1967.

Suspension was GP car standard of the day- upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/damper units at the front and single top links, inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods and again coil spring/dampers at the rear. Roll bars were of course adjustable at both ends. Girling brakes of 11.5 inches diameter were carried inboard of the uprights in the interest of cooling with drive from the hubs provided by short live axles. Light alloy wheels used three-eared knock-on hubs, with peg drive and were 15 inches in diameter with rim widths of 8/9 inches at the front and 14/15 inches aft. Goodyear tyres were used which, given the tyre contracts of the day meant that only Goodyear contracted drivers could be used- not that in any way that limited the talent pool available! Uprights were cast magnesium, steering rack and pinion and the gearbox was a Hewland DG300, relatively understressed in this application.

The 3 litre Ford DFV developed around 420 bhp @ 9000 rpm at this stage of its development, the radiator was mounted at the front of the car with electrics and fuel injection the same as those used in the single-seaters mentioned above. The fuel filler was concealed in the scuttle, the fuel tank capacity was 26.5 gallons, the mandated spare wheel was carried flat behind the engine with compulsory luggage capacity also in the tail. The minimum weight for Group 6 cars was 1435 pounds, the F3L in its early form weighed in at a comparatively svelte 1480 pounds.

Breathtaking artistry of Theo Page- F3L P68

Bolster reported that ‘It is intended that 1968 be a development season for the car, and Alan Mann will enter it in five or six races. Most of the test driving will be performed by Denny Hulme and Frank Gardner, but Jim Clark/Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren/Denny Hulme are scheduled to drive the cars at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch on April 7, which will be the first public appearance’.

If only Jim Clark had raced the F3L that fateful weekend the course of motor racing history would have been quite different, instead the Lotus/Firestone contracted driver raced an F2 Lotus Ford FVA F2 car to his death at Hockenheim.

Bolster concluded his article with the observation that ‘This brilliant design will allow the Ford Cosworth V8, hitherto a Formula 1 unit, to appear in a new sphere. Though the enclosed two-seater is heavier than the single-seaters, its vastly better aerodynamic shape will enable it to reach higher speeds and over 200 mph will certainly be within its compass. This is yet another proof that when Fords go motor racing, they employ all the latest advances in technology and there are no half measures.’

All of Bolster’s observations held true with the exception of half-measures- it was only half-measures in terms of commitment to the cars development which precluded the success that was well within its performance reach…

Gardner’s Nurburgring crutch. The tall, lanky pilot had an extra one and a half inches added to the wheelbase of ‘the second chassis’ built to give him a bit more ‘wriggle room’ (Getty)

The legendary bearded scribbler, Denis Jenkinson, of course attended the cars launch and spoke extensively to Frank Gardner about the car during the function- he was keen for a ride in the new machine with Gardner happy to oblige, a Goodwood test date was soon sorted.

Jenkinson takes up the story in MotorSport ‘I spent a whole day at Goodwood watching Gardner drive the car and he didn’t like the way it steered, though he was unable to explain clearly why. The front end gave no hint of confidence on fast bends and seemed to want to step out sideways, but he could offer no technical suggestions and Bailey and Mann seemed out of their depth with a car they had conceived but were unable to suckle. Jack Brabham was there testing one of his F2 cars (BT23C Ford Cosworth) so Alan Mann asked him to try the Ford. On three laps Brabham approached the chicane and at the last moment thought the better of it and took the escape road. After about 5 laps he drew into the pits, opened the door, and before anyone could speak, he said, in that dead-pan voice that is so typical of Brabham, “How brave do you want me to get?” Without more ado he got on with his Formula Two car and left Gardner, Bailey and Mann scratching their heads, not knowing where to look for the root cause. The late Mike Spence tried the car and was more explicit, describing the movement of the car as being as if the steering rack was moving, making the car step sideways at the front when the torque was applied to the steering wheel. Some primitive, strong arm stuff with long levers indicated that the front structure was rigid enough, and Spence did wonder if the car was aerodynamically unstable, but this was out of the question, for the Ford publicity boys had written pages on the new secrets of the aerodynamics of the tail section which gave the car very special stability. Before the abortive day finished I suggested to Gardner that I’d still like a run around in the passenger seat, if only to be able to see at close quarters what they were complaining about. He was adamant; he said he was reluctantly prepared to risk his own life, but he was not prepared to risk somebody elses. It must have been bad, so I went away and got on with something else’ Jenkinson concluded.

Nonetheless the testing of the car continued, Gardner, Richard Attwood, Mike Spence and John Surtees all drove it and assisted in its development and by the time of the intial Brands outing the car was quick- if unreliable. This is of course not unexpected- the 917 was a pig in 1969, Gardner famously thought he and David Piper should have been awarded an Iron Cross for wrestling it around the Nurburgring 1000 km when none of Porsche’s contracted drivers would- won Le Mans in 1970.

Lets have a look at how the F3L fared at each of its competition appearances.

Alan Mann and Walter Hayes in suit, and the lads, Brands 1968. McLaren/Spence car (AMR)

1968 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 7)

The two-car Alan Mann transporter rumbled into the Brands paddock late for the first day of practice, the second P68 having been just completed. The cars were to be driven by Rindt/Spence and McLaren/Hulme (substitutinq for Clark/Hill, Clark having to take late Lotus 48 FVA F2 commitments at Hockenheim).

McLaren was second fastest in practice with the works Siffert/Hermann Porsche 907 on pole. The other F3L broke its engine and was withdrawn due to the lack of a spare. As a consequence the driver pairings were shuffled with McLaren/Spence teamed to race. McLaren drove a great race, the engine hesitated off the line with Bruce dropping to sixth, but he recovered to lead after 30 minutes. A great dice with Jo Siffert and Vic Elford in works Porsche 907’s saw some place-changing, but McLaren still led at the first pit stop. Spence resumed in third place, but within 20 mins coasted to retirement opposite the pits with a broken driveshaft coupling. The Ickx/Redman John Wyer Ford GT40 won from Q5 with the Porsche 907’s of Mitter/Scarfiotti and Elford/Neerpasch second and third.

Denis Jenkinson saw the race and observed ‘The lone race entry completed only 65 laps, but it held the lead at times, which was most impressive, and when it retired with a broken driveshaft joint everyone was genuinely sorry and we all thought “that car is a certain winner when they get it sorted out”. Oddly enough the strange handling experienced at Goodwood was an aerodynamic instability, and tail spoilers were claimed to have cured all the troubles, as simply as that. For a first attempt in an experimental year the BOAC outing was fair enough, for the car was clearly a winner.’

Gardner, Karrussell, Nurburgring 1968 (unattributed)

Nürburgring 1000 km (May 19)

In a shocker of a meeting for the F3Ls- two cars were entered for Pedro Rodriguez/Chris Irwin and Attwood/Gardner, Irwin crashed at Flugplatz during practice, receiving severe head injuries. The car landed badly on its tail, flipped end to end, the ferocity of the prang caused injuries which hospitalised him for some time.

Interestingly Irwin had done an 8:40.4 lap- quicker than Gardner’s 8:42.5 and good enough for fourth on the grid had be been able to start. On the ultimate test of handling the F3L’s were fast- off the pace of the fastest 907’s but they were very much on home turf and crewed by drivers who knew the place like the back of their hands.

Attwood started the race, but on lap 1 the retaining clip on the right front brake caliper disappeared and the brake pads fell out, Attwood limped back to the pits. On lap 2 the driver’s door came open and twisted itself out of shape, to compound a shocker of a weekend the right rear tyre punctured. On lap 3 Attwood got going again a lap and a half behind the leaders. After a few more laps the engine died due to a broken ignition transistor, the sleek coupe was retired out on the long circuit.

The Siffert/Elford 908 won from the Hermann/Stommelen 907 and then the Ickx/Hawkins Wyer GT40- just under four minutes covered the top 3 cars after 1000 Km of racing.

Chris Irwin about to saddle up for his last, fateful, motor racing laps, Nurburgring 1968, F3L P68 (unattributed)

In a June 2008 MotorSport interview Chris Irwin spoke of that fateful weekend which ended his incredibly promising motor racing career.

‘How the accident happened and why it happened don’t know. I have no memory of it whatsoever. All I can remember of the weekend is that the car I was driving went incredibly quickly and every time I came in I asked them to put a higher top gear in it. We were doing something like 240 mph on the straight. It really was the most lovely piece of equipment before I finished with it.’

Irwin’s completely wrecked F3L P68 ‘1002 or ’02’ after its Flugplatz landing. I wonder who the Ford fellow with the helmet is? (M Forster)

Irwin spent ten days on life support following the accident. ‘When I woke up they asked me how I felt and I said my right ankle hurt. I’d got a broken ankle and they didn’t know about it. I had to go back to hospital quite a few times for further surgery. I had some very good treatment; the finest that money could buy. I was left with epilepsy as a legacy of the accident, which is controlled by pills, and i’m still allowed to drive’ Irwin concluded.

It is ironic that the death of another F3L driver, Mike Spence at Indianapolis could have opened up a seat for Irwin, with ten GP starts behind him, at BRM for the balance of 1968. The ifs, buts, and maybe’s of motor racing fortunes…

Chris Irwin, BRM P261, Longford, The Viaduct, during the 1967 Tasman Series. Irwin raced this chassis when Richard Attwood returned to Europe- he contested the Warwick Farm, Sandown and Longford rounds for a DNF, 4th and 3rd (DKeep/oldracephotos)

 

Spa 1000 km (May 26)

The single surviving F3L was driven by Gardner and German racer Hubert Hahne.

High speed stability and predictability are all for driver confidence on the Ardennes Forest daunting road circuit as is the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.

The early handling developmental problems of the F3L seemed to be cured with Gardner taking pole at 145.8mph, with a huge 4 second margin from Jacky Ickx’s John Wyer Ford GT40-and this on a circuit Ickx knew like the back of his hand. The F3L achieved 211 mph on the Masta Straight.

The good work in practice was ruined in the race however. Ickx led Gardner through Eau Rouge, but the F3L slipped to 10th and pitted after the first lap. This was the car’s first run in the rain and cool air ducting funnelled water all over the electrics. Given there was no easy fix the team withdrew the car- again a developmental issue which should have been foreseen but was not difficult to put right with appropriate changes to the machine.

The race was won by the Ickx/Redman Wyer GT40 from the Porsche 907 of Mitter/Schlesser and Hermann/Stommelen 908.

These two front and rear shots are of the Gardner/Hahne F3L at Spa 1968- the car an absolute (unattributed)

 

RAC TT, Oulton Park (June 3)

A single car was entered for Attwood who took pole at 1:36.0. The F3L led for 10 laps but retired with a Hewland differential failure.

Lacking confidence in the ability of the car to finish the race, Attwood had also been nominated as co-driver in David Piper’s Ferrari 412P- they drove superbly to second place just 9.4 secs behind Hulme’s winning Lola T70 Chev after three hours’ of racing. Paul Hawkins was third in his GT40.

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (July 27)

Another good performance was spoiled by fragility.

Frank Gardner qualified second behind Hulme’s Lola T70 Mk3 Chev, but led from the off staying there for 41 of the 65 laps, causing Denny to spin in his spirited pursuit of the red Alan Mann car. With 16 seconds in hand the DFV engine lost oil pressure, FG retired the car after 41 laps rather than pop the expensive motor. During the race Gardner proved the cars speed setting a new lap record of 1:28.6.

The race was won by Hulme’s Lola from the GT40’s of Paul Hawkins and Ed Nelson.

Later in the year the car was entered in the (sportscar) Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg in late August but was withdrawn, Jenkinson said because of ‘political strife at Ford’.

The 1968 Manufacturers Championship was won by Ford with 45 points from Porsche on 42 and Alfa Romeo on 15.5.

Gardner testing the new P69 at Goodwood. Poor quality shot shows front wing between the two guards and fully enveloping nature of the body  (D Phipps)

 

 

Due to changes in the Group 6 regulations made by the CSI in relation to windscreen heights amongst other changes Bailey designed a new car for 1969, it was essentially an open version of the P68 but much more revolutionary in its aerodynamic specifications.

When announced to the press on 7 April the P69 was described by Ford as ‘a research vehicle…designed as an integral airfoil study…the P69 continues the (F1) study to the sports prototype field. The P69 integral airfoil utilizes a system of interconnected adjustable airfoil wings mounted at front and rear. Action of the two wings is controlled both mechanically and hydraulically with the pitch angle being governed directly by air pressure bearing on the wing surfaces when the car is in motion’.

‘The front airfoil is mounted low down between the extended front fenders. The rear airfoil is attached by its leading edge to the upper surface of the car. The prototype has a maximum speed in excess of 200 mph and is 15 inches shorter, 5 inches lower, and 2.5 incjes wider than the P68 prototype- a closed car- which first raced last year’.

Len Bailey is quoted as saying ‘We have set out to promote positive downward lift forces with a minimum of drag. Later it is envisaged the rear flap will serve as an air brake which will be directly controlled by the driver’. The engine was of course the Ford Cosworth DFV as used the year before ‘with the water radiator in a special duct at the rear of the car while ducts are cut into the side and underside of the car for the engine and transmission oil cooler as well as the rear brakes and engine trumpets’.

The chassis, suspension and brakes are similar to the P68. At the time of the public announcement wind tunnel tests had been completed at at the MIRA facility at Nuneaton and Gardner had completed a ‘comprehensive test at Goodwood. Drivers announced for the 1969 Brands Hatch BOAC 500 on 13 April were the Australian duo of Gardner and Brabham.

Gardner on the move at Goodwood, shots of car rare, especially in its original form, rear wing/spoiler clear (D Phipps)

Talk about Mann and Bailey doubling their bets!?

You might think the safe move, the winning one would have been to make reliable what was clearly the fastest sportscar of 1968 and win in 1969. But instead the AMR crew added more complexity. One can’t help but wonder if the car wasn’t some type of publicity stunt- the press release said the car had moveable aerodynamic devices which were illegal under the rules then and now. Predictably, the FIA acted swiftly, before the P69 had even raced!

With its moving aerofoil flap between the front headlights and enclosed ‘single-seat’ cockpit there was no way the car could be made compliant without spending a great deal of money. The cars rear mounted radiator was said to be 30% more efficient than the one in the front of the F3L coupe, but if the cars central body section was altered the performance advantages would be lost.

In order to race the car at Brands the car was fitted with a pair of conventional free-standing wings mounted to the front and rear uprights…

Gardner in Ford jacket, Alan Mann a couple of blokes away to his left. Wings added clear, Brands Hatch (unattributed)

 

Ditto above (unattributed)

1969 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 13)

The new open-bodied P69 ran its bearings in practice, yet again this problem had ruined a race weekend.

Various reports have Brabham not wanting to have anything to do with the car at all having initially driven it but even in the limited practice laps at Brands completed the car recorded a 1:33.0 lap- way off Siffert/Redman Porsche pole of 1:28.8 but again, limited laps were completed and it was the cars first race run.

Hulme?Gardner F3L on the 1969 Brands 6 Hour grid (unattributed)

In any event, that now left the P68 coupé- with a suspension-mounted rear wing, in the hands of Hulme/Gardner to start the race without its younger sibling . The car qualified 3 seconds adrift of pole with tired engines a continuing problem, the car, driven by Denny Hulme retired with low oil pressure on lap 14, he held 5th position at the time.

Porsche 908/2’s took the placings- the Siffert/Redman crew won from Elford/Attwood and Mitter/Schutz.

P69 at Druids Hill, Brands 1969, probably Frank Gardner at the wheel (unattributed)

The ongoing engine failures were odd, the motors were not racing beyond GP distances but were failing consistently with atypical bottom end problems.

Richard Thwaites, who acquired the 1968 BOAC chassis #1000 in the nineties identified the cause of the engine problems.

‘When I bought the car ‘chassis No 1000′ was dynotaped to the dashboard, I belive this was original as it was exactly the same faded dynotape as the labelling for all the switches. I had the car restored by Hall & Fowler 1994-96…with regard to the engine problems in 1968 which were mainly bearings, when we restored the car we found a major design fault with the oil tank. Whilst the oil was collected from the bottom of the tank, the outlet pipe came out of the top of the tank and over the monocoque before going down to the oil pump. The oil had to be sucked up about 18 inches and I believe that with the thick oils that were used at the time, it caused cavitation in the oil pump which led to bearing failure. We changed the oil tank so the pipe came out of the bottom of the tank and did not have any problems’ Thwaites wrote.

By this stage faith in the project was well and truly disappearing.

Alan Mann had wanted to gain experience from racing the cars whilst Ford had not wanted to race them until they were race-worthy so there was a certain amount of deadlock. From Ford’s perspectine the good old reliable GT40 had won at Le Mans in 1968 and of course the same John Wyer run chassis ‘1075’ took victory again in 1969- they hardly needed Alan Mann’s cars, as it turned out

Gardner’s F3L P68 in the Silverstone paddock, Martini Trophy meeting 1969 (unattributed)

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (May 17)

Frank Gardner repeated the  previous year’s pace, by taking pole with 1:28.0. There was very heavy rain on race day, so the team removed the rear wing because speeds would be lower. The engine badly misfired with wet electrics on the warm-up lap, Bailey recalled ‘…suitable rain shields were available , but they were not fitted when the car set off on its warming up laps. The engine popped and banged over the deep Silverstone puddles and there was nothing Gardner could do when seven or eight cylinders all chimed in together at an unexpected moment and put the car off the track.’

Chris Craft won the race from Brian Redman, David Piper and Paul Hawkins, all four raced Lola T70 Mk3B Chevs.

The F3L’s were put to one side in a corner of Mann’s workshop, the final ignominy was for them to be raided as a suspension parts source for AMR’s second Can Am car- the ‘Ford Open Sports’- has there ever been a more sexless name for a spectacular racing car?

But let’s come back to that tangent in a moment, a Ford Cosworth DFV engined car did win an endurance event in 1969- the Imola 500 Km in September.

Ickx at the wheel of the Mirage M3/200 Ford Coupe, Nurburgring 1000 Km 1969 (unattributed)

Mirage M2-300 and M3-300 Fords…

When legendary team boss/manager John Wyer considered his JWA Automotive options for the new sportscar rules of 1968 he was keen to get hold of the DFV too- he planned to build a ‘sprint’ car like Alan Mann to supplement his GT40’s which he suspected may struggle with ultimate speed. That option wasn’t available to him as the supply of the motors was limited and AMR got the sports-racer gig.

Undeterred, Wyer briefed Len Terry to design a 3 litre Coupe powered by the BRM ‘sports car’ V12 which Bruce McLaren first used in his McLaren M5 in late 1967 GP events. Whilst quick, the BRM engined cars were not fast enough with Wyer finally getting his hands on the DFV in 1969.

The team quickly modified their existing chassis to accept the smaller, punchier DFV with the M2-300 Coupe having its first race start in the hands of Jackie Ickx/Jackie Oliver in the 1 June Nurburgring 1000 km, why not start with one of the toughest of all events, after all the chassis was well sorted?! The coupe qualified fifth and retired with rear suspension failure.

Bonnier/Muller Lola T70 Mk3B Chev alongside the Ickx/Oliver Mirage M3/300 Ford, further back is the Matra MS650 of Servoz-Gavin/Rodriguez (unattributed)

 

Jackie Oliver in the Mirage M3/300 Ford, Osterreichring 1969 (LAT)

At Watkins Glen the same pair raced an M3-300 Spyder- JWA made some minor changes to the racers spec and hacked off most of the heavy body. Q5 and DNF with camshaft failure on lap 112 was the result. Off to the Osterreichring in August Ickx popped it on pole but steering failure stopped the pair short on lap 199- at this stage the Mirage appears to have a ‘touch of the P3L’s- lotsa speed but no endurance!

But Ickx and the little racer redeemed themselves at Imola on 14 September winning the 500 km race in a classy field which included works Alfa Romeo T33/3’s driven by Ignazio Giunti, Nanni Galli and Andrea De Adamich as well as works Porsche Salzburg 908/02’s piloted by Kurt Ahrens, Rudy Lins, Vic Elford and Hans Herrmann.

Giunti’s 2nd placed Alfa T33/3 alongside Ickx in the Mirage M3/300 Ford 1st and Art Merzario’s Fiat-Abarth 3000 behind DNF. Imola 500 Km start 1969 (unattributed)

To rub salt into his F3L wounds Frank Gardner co-drove Mike De Udy’s Lola T70 Mk3B in the race and had a front row seat to view the Mirage’s pace as it lapped his troubled Lola several times…

Ickx won from the Giunti T33/3 and Van Lennep/Ortner Fiat Abarth 2000. What Alan Mann and Len Bailey made of this win when they read about it in that weeks Autosport is unrecorded, but if it had been me I would have said- ‘There ya go, you should have stuck with us Walter, we would have got there eventually!’ Perhaps Walters polite response would have been ‘Well Alan, waiting till hell freezes over was longer than acceptable’.

Ickx, Giunti and Merzario from the off, Imola majesty (unattributed)

Where were we?

The F3L’s had been cast to one side in AMR’s workshop as Len Bailey embarked on the design and construction of their last car, the ‘Ford Open Sports’ Can Am racer.

This aluminium monocoque machine was built during early 1969 and tested by Frank Gardner and Can Am ace Denny Hulme before delivery to the ‘States where it was raced in the final two rounds of the 1969 Championship- at Riverside, DNF halfshaft failure by Frank Gardner and at Texas International where Jack Brabham raced it.

Jack qualified the experimental Holman Moody prepped alloy 494cid injected Boss V8 engined car seventh and worked his way up to second late in the race before being slowed by an oil leak which dropped him to third behind Bruce McLaren’s dominant McLaren M8B Chev and George Eaton’s McLaren M12 Chev.

Had the swoopy, curvaceous car been built and tested earlier in the season who knows what the 740 bhp, Hewland LG600 5 speed equipped racer could have achieved?

‘Certainly the potential was there. And yet the Open Sports Ford vanished as quickly as it appeared. Perhaps a victim of Ford Motor Companies lack of commitment to the Can Am, or its drastic budget slash for 1970, or Alan Mann Racing closing its doors at the end of the 1969 season, but the Open Sports Ford never raced again’ wrote Steve Holmes. Click here for more about this interesting car, rather than me getting lost in this tangent- the car still exists too, on Steve’s ‘The Roaring Season’ website; http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?53-The-Open-Sports-Ford

Gardner testing the Ford Open Sports at Goodwood in mid-1969 (AMR)

FOS- 494 cid ally Holman Moody prepped Ford V8, circa 740 bhp (TRS)

Jack Brabham, Ford Open Sports with Chuck Parson’s Lola T163 Chev at Texas International (unattributed)

After the closure of Alan Mann Racing the two remaining Fords ‘languish under dust covers in a hangar on an aerodrome in Surrey… neither of the surviving cars has suspension, gearbox or engine installed. The suspension was robbed to be put on the Ford Open Sports…In view of the poor results obtained the top brass at Ford were probably happy to see the project at an end. But they had provided one of the most exciting looking sports cars ever seen. Furthermore it was an All-Ford effort which is praiseworthy, and a contrast to other Ford-financed racing ventures’ MotorSport wrote.

One of these Ford financed racing ventures MotorSport referred to was the Ford Cosworth DFV mind you! They go on ‘Bailey is obviously sorry that his baby should have been spurned by its godparents, and indeed thinks it could still be competitive (in April 1970). Weight could come down by replacing the metal nose and tail sections with glass-fibre parts and he still thinks the car would give a Porsche 917 a good run down the Mulsanne Straight’.

Doug Nye picks up the story of the F3L’s in the late 1970’s ‘…I was telephoned by Harry Carlton who was head of Ford’s press department at Warley, Essex’.

‘Knowing of my connection with Tom Wheatcroft and the Donington Collection he told me that Ford’s management had just concluded that the progressively deteriorating pair of Ford P68’s they owned were simply a waste of space. “Unless we can find a home for them, they’re going to be cut up- d’you think Tom might be prepared to house them?”.

‘I told Harry I was sure he would, to guard the P68’s with his life and I’d get straight back to him. I called Wheatie “Ooh aye lad, bootiful, bootiful, get ’em to send ’em oop ‘ere all right”. I called Harry back and put him in direct contact with Wheatie. I think the cars were removed to Donington’s store the next day. One was quite sad and sorry, the other a little less damaged. One of them had a door come open while being trailed back from a motor show…and the airstream on the motorway had then ripped the door clean off…Like so many Len Bailey designs it looked terrific but was somewhat deficient in many areas, not least its nervous SWB handling and-I was told-its structural strength was inadequate to contain the DFV’s devastating vibration’.

‘Tom subsequently, as I recall, part-exchanged one of the cars with Gavin Bain in New Zealand in return for the remains of the Alfa-Aitken Bimotore. The other went to David Piper, and he subsequently built a replica with a slightly longer (more congenial) wheelbase…or something like that.’

‘Richard Attwood recalls one of his greatest disappointments as being in the P68 in the Oulton Park TT. It was so immensely superior to anything else in the field around Oulton, that he was absolutely confident of success- only to be sidelined by some pettifogging fault…I’m quite proud that in small part I contributed to the car’s survival’ Nye concluded on The Nostalgia Forum.

F3L, Brands 1968, McLaren/Spence (AMR)

So, what do we make of the F3L program and why it failed? What would it have taken to succeed? Why did Ford get the jitters?…

 Whatever the design shortcomings of the car, the F3L P68 was an incredibly fast car on medium/quick Brands Hatch, the blinding speed of Spa and the tremendous, unique test of chassis the Nurburgring represents. The speed of the thing is not in doubt.

 The ability of AMR to respond to the necessary developmental changes and preparation is though.

In 1968 AMR built and prepared the Lotus Cortina and Ford Escort twin-cam in which Frank Gardner retained his British Touring Car Championship crown won the year before in an AMR Ford Falcon Sprint. So, its not as though the team ‘lost their touch’, and to be fair the only problems with the P3L which were repeat ones rather than one-offs or learnings were engine ones- which they really should have solved.

Maybe the perfect combination in 1968 was Alan Mann built cars raced by JW Engineering who did know a thing or two about sports-prototype preparation and development!

FG and Peter Arundell play follow my AMR twin-cam leader during the Silverstone BTCC round on 27 July 1968 (unattributed)

The P69, unless there were political reasons for doing it was bonkers. The ‘68/9 winter would have been far better spent sorting what they already had- a very fast but unreliable P68. Had Alan Mann Racing done that and raced the cars perhaps Ford would have won the 1969 manufacturers championship with points gained by its 3 litre P3L and the 5 litre GT40- a win at Brands in early 1969 possibly would have breathed life into a program which was from that moment ‘dead in the water’.

 Its said money was tight and that Ford equivocated in their support. What certainly changed or continued in 1968 was that the GT40 was still a reliable car and a race winner- the venerable Mk1 may have had its sad moments early on in its racing life but it paid back bigtime in 1968/9! Wins at Monza, Spa, Watkins Glen and Le Mans in 1968 and Sebring and Le Mans in 1969 apart from secondary level events fell to the 5 litre beastie. From Ford’s point of view, as 1968 unfolded, they didn’t need the P3L as they thought they did when the car was mooted in mid-1967.

Denny Hulme, McLaren M7A Ford- 2nd behind Graham Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford, 1968 Mexican GP Jarama (unattributed)

Whilst the Ford DFV delivered bigtime in F1 from its debut win at Zandvoort in 1967 it was a sprint not an endurance design, the 3.9 litre endurance DFL Le Mans winner came much later. As the roster of GP teams and privateers formed a queue at Duckworth’s Northhampton door he was up to his armpits in conrods keeping up with the manufacture of engines, rebuilds and ongoing development of the 90 degree V8 to keep ahead of the Matra, BRM and Ferrari twelves. He didn’t have time to mess about with the changes necessary to evolve the DFV into an endurance motor and may well have expressed to Hayes his reservations about the engines being used in an unintended application, with resultant failures- and the risk to Ford’s reputation in relation thereto!

 In addition ‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’; Ford were winning Grands Prix and World Titles, the Escort was winning rallies, the Ford Indy engine won its share in the US, the Boss 302 Mustang was a winner on three continents- ‘who needs a sportscar program when we have winning global programs and local ones?’ such as that in Australia where Ford GTHO’s were dominant/competitive in touring car racing- may well have been the views of FoMoCo’s top brass.

 On 12 March 1969 a Porsche 917 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show- the ante was being upped by the 4.5 litre Porsche, and soon too Ferrari with their 5 litre V12 512S, the P3L was destined to be a bit player in this company even if they were reliable.

‘And so there was no further P3L publicity from the prolific Ford writers, no explanations, no excuses as to why they hadn’t swept the 1969 board: in fact nothing more than a deathly hush’ wrote Jenkinson…whilst the remains of the P68’s left over from the Ford Open Sports build were moved, interred really, to a hangar at Fair Oaks aerodrome, near Chobham, Surrey not too far from Byfleet where they were born little more than eighteen months before.

 Sad really for such stunning, fast, under-developed and prepared cars- the P3L’s were on the cusp of delivering all their looks promised but for the application of some race and developmental basics for a professional team like Ford/AMR…

Designers original intent- Ford press shot (Ford)

Chassis Numbers et al…

Treat this as being indicative rather than definitive, none of my usual online sources have neato, fully debated and therefore resolved  summaries of which P68 is which. I have relied mainly on the opinion of Richard Thwaites who owned ‘1001’ for years- but provided the information on the P68’s after he had sold his car and therefore he had no vested interest in the outcome of his particular version of events.

Owners claims always need to be treated with a degree of circumspection during the period in which they own cars in my experience. In most cases the connection between bullshit and the upward trajectory of the fiscal sale implications of the bucket of bolts in question seems way too often to be a temptation even the most devout Catholic of owners fall prey to.

McLaren F3L P68 with one of the works Porsche 907’s behind, Brands 6 Hour 1968 (AMR)

F3L P68 #’1000′ or ’01’

The #34 McLaren/Spence Brands 1968 car Richard Thwaites believes is the car he acquired from Australian Ian Cummins who in turn bought it from Kiwi Gavin Bain who had part-exchanged it in a deal with Tom Wheatcroft.

‘..I am sure it is the one that raced in the BOAC 500 in 1968 as the bodywork is identical to race pictures and the car came with solid discs. I believe David Piper’s original car is the one that was built after Irwin’s crash and subsequently raced in the 1969 BOAC 500. My car did not have the holes in the alloy bodywork for the wing supports, nor were there any signs of welded patches. When I bought the car chassis ‘No 1000′ was dynotaped on the dashboard…the car was later sold by Gregor Fisken’

Rare shot of Jochen Rindt in an F3L P68 before the engine popped, Brands 6 Hour practice 1968 (LAT)

F3L P68 #’1001′ or ’02’

Rindt/Spence car at Brands 1968-unraced. Destroyed in Irwin’s 1968 Nurburgring crash.

One version of events is that the car was progressively stripped of useful parts and the remains scrapped- this is the theory to which I subscribe.

The other (David Pipers) is that the remains were retained by Len Bailey after AMR closed and were rebuilt by ex-AMR chief mechanic Brian Lewis in modern times. Raced by Piper and others and later bought by Alan Mann.

Richard Thwaites ‘The Piper continuation car has nothing to do with F3L history. No part of the car is original and it only looks like an F3L because it has a fibreglass replica body with about 10 inches added on the engine cover to cover the extended wheelbase’.

Car has a modern AMR chassis plate ‘P67-F3L-002’ (P67 is not a typo

1969 Brands 6 Hour vista behind Amon’s Ferrari 312P. 55 Elford/Attwood and 54 Mitter/Schutz Porsche 908/02’s, 58 Denny Hulme aborad the F3L P68 he shared with Frank Gardner, 908/02 alongside is Herrmann/Stommelen, blue T70 Mk3B Lola is Taylor/Dibley, red Lola T70 3B is Hawkins/Williams and the white one Sid Taylor’s car driven by Revson/Axelsson…and the rest! (unattributed)

F3L P68 #’1002′ or ’03’

New car built up after the Irwin crash. Raced in the 1969 BOAC 500 by Hulme/Gardner. Eventually to Tom Wheatcroft and then to David Piper

Gardner, F3L P69, Brands 1969- pretty as a picture without the wings! (unattributed)

F3L P69

The car was cut up by AMR after the BOAC 500 debacle in 1969- tested and practiced but did not race.

No doubt the chassis number mystery is ‘resolved’ in the Ed Heuvink book ‘Alan Mann Racing F3L/P68’- if anybody has a copy fill us all in. The jist of the above is right even if the precise minutae is not- noting the veracity and precision of the minutae is critical in these matters of historic accuracy.

Talented craftsmen at AMR Byfleet during the first F3L build. Alan Mann in suit (AMR)

Arcane Irrelevance…

After his first lap in the early, unwieldy, recalcitrant Porsche 917 during the ’69 Nurburgring 1000 km, I’m sure Frank Gardner wished he was in his nifty, nimble, small, responsive, fast…if somewhat unreliable P3L- he qualified the P3L fifth in 1968 and tenth in the Panzer-Wagen in 1969. Mind you, the pace of change, particularly in tyre technology back then is such that his time in the 917 was 4.7 seconds quicker than in the F3L the year before. Gardner and David Piper were 8th in the race won by the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/2.

(unattributed)

Bibliography…

Autosport 22 March 1968 article by John Bolster, ‘The Nostalgia Forum Ford P68’ thread in particular the contributions of Doug Nye and Richard Thwaites, ‘Classic and Sportscar’ February 1996, MotorSport April 1970 article by Denis Jenkinson and June 2008 article by Paul Lawrence, Darren Galpin’s International Race Report

Photo Credits…

Alan Mann Racing, Getty Images, Vic Berris, Brendan McInerney, David Keep/oldracephotos.com.au, Manfred Forster, David Phipps, LAT, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Ain’t she sweet…

(AMR)

Finito…

(Telegraph)

The highest paid Dunlop tyre fitter in the world attends to the needs of his Lotus 32B Climax, Warwick Farm, 1965…

Its practice prior to the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ so Jim Clark assists Ray Parsons in between on-circuit sessions on the Friday or Saturday before the race.

Its Frank Matich zipping by in his Brabham BT7A Climax, he was quick too, off pole and led Clark and Graham Hill for much of the first lap. He was 3rd, five seconds behind Brabham in 2nd with Jim a minute up the road from Jack in an emphatic victory.

Roy Billington, Brabham’s chief mechanic is the black clad dude to the left of Jim. In the white helmet is the tall, lanky frame of Frank Gardner and beside him his Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax. A DNF for Frank that weekend with Coventry Climax engine dramas on lap 25.

(Telegraph)

In the photo above Roy Billington is tending Jack’s BT11A, its Jim’s Lotus behind. The tall fellow to the right, in the cloth cap is, I think Lex Davison- Lex retired on lap 3 with a busted steering wheel in his Brabham BT4, an odd failure for a driver of considerable deftness and touch.

‘Topless’ behind Lex is Jim Clark talking to Warwick Farm boss, Geoff Sykes- to the left near the pit counter is again Frank Gardner.

Its all happening, as I say…the first six home were Clark, Brabham and Matich, then Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT11A, Graham Hill similarly mounted in the Scuderia Veloce entered machine and then Kiwi Jim Palmer in his BT7A.

Credits…

Daily Telegraph, oldracingcars.com, Bruce Wells on The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Jim and Lotus 32B Climax on the hop…

(Bruce Wells/TRS)

He is entering The Esses and has clearly given someone or something a ‘tap’, the nose of the Lotus is slightly bruised. I’ve written about this car, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Finito…