Posts Tagged ‘Jack Brabham’

(Theo Page)

The Cooper Mark 1 (later referred to as T41) was the Surbiton marques prototype or first mid-engined F2 car…

Note that there were also Mk1, 2, 3 etc air-cooled Coopers, the T41 was typically fitted with a Coventry Climax 1.5 litre FWB SOHC, two-valve engine.

This article was spawned by Theo Page’s Type 41 cutaway above. I thought ‘that would be nice to add to an existing article on the Paul England/Austin Miller car’ and then I came upon T45, multiple T51 drawings as well as the ‘Lowline’ T53 so the idea of a piece on the early water-cooled mid engined Coopers popped into my head.

I knew the John Ross and Dave Friedman archives had some great workshop/circuit photographs of the cars engineering detail but that was going to create too much visual clutter so the article is in two parts.

The first bit is the overall story- Who, What, Where and When if you like, the second is more around the design and engineering of the cars with photographs providing great visual support. An ‘eyeful is better than an earful’ and all that.

In terms of photographs I’ve already written a lot of Cooper articles, often ‘quickies’ with all of the best Australian photographs I could find contained therein- rather than re-use these, key ‘Cooper Climax’ and ‘Cooper Maserati’ into the search spot on the upper left primo home page and you can check them out at your leisure, I have sought photos hopefully many of you have never seen before- other than a few Kiwis anyway!

Off we go.

Wally Baker Cooper Mk8 Norton, South Canterbury Hillclimb circa 1960. ‘Clellands Zig Zag’, near Cave, on the east of NZ’s South Island. The road is tarmac these days (CAN)

 

1949 Cooper Mk3 JAP (Getty)

If John and Charles Cooper’s first mid-engined Coopers of 1948 set the company on a path to change the face of motor racing, the T41 hastened the onslaught on the long established (Auto Union pre-war duly noted) front engine motor racing paradigm.

Lets not forget the performance of the Cooper Bristols Mk1 and Mk II or T20 and T23 which were born as F2 machines and became Grand Prix cars with the adoption of F2 to determine the drivers and manufacturers championships in 1952 and 1953.

Those cars ‘launched the careers’ of a swag of top line pilots not least two World Champions in Mike Hawthorn and Jack Brabham.

The performance of the T39 ‘Bobtail’ and T40 Bristol which Jack ‘knocked together from the Cooper parts bin’, and in which he made his F1 Championship debut at Aintree in 1955- and aboard which he won the Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield later that year, emboldened human dynamo John Cooper to build a mid-engined car for the new 1.5 litre F2 which took effect from 1 January 1957.

Jack Brabham in his famous ‘REDeX Special’ Cooper T23 Bristol in the backyard of his parents house in Hurstville, Sydney circa 1953 (HRCCT)

 

Cooper Mk1 or T20 Bristol (Vic Berris)

 

Reg Hunt’s Len Lukey driven Cooper T23 Bristol during the 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park. Doncha think blokes look at racing cars in the same way they check out chicks- with absolute focus, totally oblivious of anything else going on in the immediate environs? Ninth in the race won by the Moss works Maserati 250F (G Smedley)

 

Colvin Algie, Normac/AC Special about to be lapped by Brian Pescott, Cooper T23 Bristol and Angus Hyslop, Jag D during the 1959 Ahuriri Road Races- Port Ahuriri, Napier, NZ North Island. JW Lawton Cooper 2 litre won from DC Hulme Cooper T45 FPF 2 litre and Pescott (CAN)

 

Brabham in his 1955 British GP debut/AGP Port Wakefield winning Cooper T40 Bristol, here at Mount Druitt, Sydney, probably also 1955 (Uni Newcastle)

In the UK six F2 races were held between the 14 July Silverstone British GP support race won by Roy Salvadori’s works T41 Climax FWB and the 14 October BRSCC Brands Hatch race won by the RRC Walker Racing T41 similarly engined car. The new T41’s won five of the six races, Salvadori four and Brooks one. Colin Chapman won at Brands on 9 September in a Lotus 11 FWB sportscar, an occasion where the T41’s were absent.

Finally the Brits had, in Coventry Climax, a manufacturer of modern, competitive engines which were available to all who could stump up the readies. During 1957 the SOHC, two-valve FWB was supplemented by the twin-cam, two valve FPF putting in place the family of engines which carted away two F1 titles in 1959/60.

Similarly, Cooper built cars for all.

There is other ‘confluential’ stuff which contributed to Cooper’s rise and rise too;

Jack Brabham arrived at Cooper in 1954 with his unique blend of driving, testing, mechanical and engineering skills. The energy of Jack and John Cooper must have been a truly awesome thing to watch- I’m not so sure I would have wanted to work for them but to view it all from the sidelines would have been quite something.

RRC Walker racing ‘attached themselves’ to the lads from Surbiton, specifically the contributions of Walker RRC, Moss S, and Francis A were mega, as we will see.

Not to forget the son and father combination of John Cooper, a racer to the core, and Charles Cooper who kept the business alive and well. As anyone who has run a small business well knows keeping an enterprise afloat is not easy especially in the fickle ‘only as good as yer last race’ world of motor racing. Cooper Cars was highly profitable throughout with John selling at ‘the right time’ a decade hence not too long after Charles died.

Where were we?- back to the Mark 1, or make that, for me, T41!

John Cooper and Owen Maddock produced a car which was strongly based on the T39 albeit the machine was ‘slipper bodied’ rather than having the all-enveloping body of the other car. Similarly it had independent suspension front and rear using top transverse leaf springs and wishbones at the bottom.

Jack, T41 Climax at Caversham during the 1957 F Libre AGP. Modern as tomorrow Cooper a contrast with the partial nose of the Fred Coxon Amilcar Holden Spl behind (K Devine)

 

Brabham, T41 FWB on his way to third in the 1957 AGP behind the Ferrari 500 3 litre of Lex Davison/Bill Patterson and Stan Jones Maserati 250F (D Van Dal)

 

Lady Wigram Trophy 1957. They are off, F Libre- Brabham in T41 FWB against the ‘Big Red Cars’- Reg Parnell and Peter Whitehead Ferrari 555/860 and Ron Roycroft in the light coloured Ferrari 375. D Type is Bob Gibbons, Syd Jensen, Cooper T41 Climax and Horace Gould, Maser 250F #2 on row 2. Look at the size of the Brabham and Jensen Coopers in relation to the Ferrari’s (CAN)

 

Austin Miller, Cooper T41 Climax leads Bill Patterson, Cooper T39 Bobtail Climax off Long Bridge, Longford during the 1958 Gold Star round won by Ted Gray’s big, booming Tornado 2 Chev. Both of these fellas progressed to T51’s, Patto won the 1961 Gold Star in one of his. He owned more Coopers in Australia than anyone?- perhaps Stillwell and Jones count was similar. Paul England raced Austin’s T41 in the 1957 German GP- DNF distributor after 4 laps

The production 1957 Mark II (T43) was settled upon that winter and put into build at Hollyfield Road.

It had a longer wheelbase that the Mk1 and bulkier bodywork to accommodate two pannier fuel tanks rather than the scuttle tank of the Mark 1- the suspension was the same as the earlier car, the drooped nose was a means of distinguishing between Coopers very latest offering and its predecessor.

Brabham debuted the Coventry Climax FPF engine- it took its bow at the 1956 London Motor Show, in the first race of the year, the Lavant Cup at Goodwood on 22 April finishing second to Tony Brooks Walker T41 FWB. Initially the 1475cc engine developed 141bhp @ 7300rpm and most importantly a swag of torque from 4000rpm- it’s peak was 108.5 lb-ft @ 6500rpm. The pint sized package weighed only 225 pounds.

It was a year of F2 dominance for the marque- in sixteen national and international races  Brabham won five, Tony Marsh, George Wicken and Roy Salvadori two apiece and Tony Brooks and Ronnie Moore one. Tom Dickson won at Snetterton in May aboard a Lotus 11 FWA when no T41/43 was present, Maurice Trintignant was victorious at Reims in a Ferrari 156 and Edgar Barth in a Porsche 550RS at the Nürburgring but otherwise it was all Cooper.

Pescara GP 1957. Jack in front and Roy Salvadori behind, Cooper T43 FPF 2 litre- 7th and DNF from Q16 and 15. Moss won aboard a Vanwall VW (57)

 

Dunedin International Road Race 1958. McLaren, T43 Climax #47, Syd Jensen, Cooper MkX Norton with #51 Geoff Mardon, VA Vanguard and Merv Neil in another T43 alongside. You can just see the Frank Cantwell Tojeiro Jag at left rear. Ross Jensen Maser 250F won from McLaren and Syd Jensen (CAN)

Meanwhile in Europe privateers were racing the cars in non-championship Grands Prix. George Wicken took his T43 FPF to Siracusa in early April DNF, Brabham was fourth in the Glover Trophy at Goodwood behind two F1 Connaught B Types and a BRM P25. Salvadori was second at the GP de Caen in July behind Behra’s BRM P25 but ahead of four Maserati 250F’s, a car Roy knew rather well.

In the BRDC International Trophy Innes Ireland’s T43 was sixth in his heat and Brabham second in his. Fourteen Cooper T41/43’s contested this race, the best placed was Salvadori in eighth behind BRM P25’s and Maserati 250F.

With a 2 litre FPF available Cooper ran a limited World Championship campaign that year, the best results were Salvadori’s fifth at Aintree and Brabham’s sixth at Monaco. Doug Nye explained how the 2 litre variant came about.

Early in 1957 Roy Salvadori tested Rob Walker’s F2 T41 and F1 Connaught Type B on the same day at Goodwood. He quickly realised the potential pace of a water cooled mid-engined Cooper and floated the idea of increasing the capacity of the FPF enough to tackle GP racing.

Soon, with Walkers financial backing- Rob ordered a chassis and 2 litre engine, the project was underway. Climax’ changes involved increasing the bore and stroke which required new pistons, liners and crank- the result, with only two days fettling was an astonishing 176bhp @ 6500rpm. Brabham used the engine at Monaco and ran as high as third before pushing the car over the line in sixth after fuel pump failure.

At the end of Jack’s European season he came home for the summer commencing his race campaign with the Australian Grand Prix at Caversham, an ex-airbase circuit out of Perth.

His T41 qualfied and finished third behind the Formula Libre 3 litre Ferrari 500 of Lex Davison/Bill Patterson and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F.

The 1958 Mark III (T45) added significant refinement in that the front suspension was changed to use coil springs and both upper and lower wishbones. At the rear the transverse leaf remained with upper lateral links were added which released the spring to do just that, relieved of its additional wheel locational function.

Coventry Climax chief Leonard Lee had endorsed a further increase in the capacity of the FPF to 2.2 litres, the maximum the original block could accommodate. Production of these engines was geared around resourcing two car Cooper and Rob Walker Cooper entries.

The F2 Index lists twenty F2 races in 1958 with Cooper T43/45 victory honours shared widely. Brabham and Bruce McLaren- Jack brought Bruce to Europe that year after Bruce had much Cooper success at home, had three wins each, Moss and Ian Burgess two with one each to Stuart Lewis-Evans, Kiwi, Syd Jensen, Maurice Trintignant, Henry Taylor, Tim Parnell and Jim Russell.

The big news of course was Stirling Moss’ win aboard Rob Walker’s T45 in the Argentinian Grand Prix. The car was fitted that day with one of the 1960cc FPF’s. Continental tyres contributed too, he ran on them from start to finish in place of his usual Dunlops. Vanwall, to whom Moss was contracted in F1 that year chose not to travel to Argentina given its cost, distance and because Tony Vandervell’s engines were not quite running well enough on Avgas just yet- there were new fuel regs from 1 January.

So Walker and Moss decided to have a crack at the race- and won! Use of Continentals was Rob Walker firing a shot across Dunlop’s bows ‘because they weren’t being very helpful on tyres at the time’ Doug Nye quoted Walker as saying in ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’. The Conti’s were were worn through to the canvas at the end of the race- Ferrari fell for the ruse of a prospective tyre change when Alf Francis and another mechanic paraded with wheels and jacks in the pitlane for a stop which was never planned to happen.

In non-championship GP’s Moss won the Aintree BARC 200 in April and the GP de Caen, on both occasions aboard a Cooper T45.

In Australia we were all excited by Cooper pace watching Moss and Brabham face-off in the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park, the last race at the Park until the modern era, won in searing heat by the Walker/Moss T45.

Roy Salvadori leads the marauding pack into the first turn at Monaco in 1958. He is followed by #6 Jean Behra, BRM P25, Tony Brooks Vanwall with #28 Stirling Moss, Vanwall. Brabham is to the right out of shot. Maurice Trintignant won in Walkers Cooper T45 with a bit of luck in a race full of DNF’s and clever strategy. Brabham Q3 and 4th, Roy Q4 and DNF gearbox (Getty)

 

Equipe Lukey during the 1959 AGP weekend at Longford, Cooper T45 2 litre FPF Climax. With a 2.5 FPF Len Lukey would have won in his ex-Brabham machine, but Stan Jones prevailed in a close tussle in his Maser 250F by 2 seconds (Walkem)

 

Bruce’ works T45 in the Ardmore NZ GP paddock 1960- Jim Palmer’s Lotus 15 Climax and Pat Hoare, Ferrari 256 behind. Brabham’s works T51 first- then Bruce and Stillwell and Stan Jones in T51’s (CAN)

At championship level Cooper enjoyed considerable success in addition to the Walker/Moss Argentine win.

Salvadori was second at the Nürburgring, third in Britain and fourth at Zandvoort whereas Jack was fourth at Monaco.

The 2.2 litre FPF made its debut at Monaco in the Salvadori/Brabham works cars. There, Maurice Trintignant ran a Walker T45 with an interim 2015cc engine and centre lock detachable Borrani wire wheels and in a crazy race of attrition, he won- two races on the trot for the RRC Walker Racing new-fangled Coopers!

In the more open faster races of the season the Coopers were simply giving away too much capacity but that would be remedied in 1959.

T51 Climax (T Matthews)

The 1959 Mark IV (T51) was identical in terms of chassis and suspension to the Mark III- the technical details of which are dealt with in the second part of this article.

It was one of the great customer racing cars of all time in that so many were sold (28 orders according to period factory records but the actual number of chassis built was far greater than this) and so many used it to win for two or three years hence in all corners of the globe.

Interesting insights by Cooper historian Doug Nye are voluminous and fascinating not least the fact that Coopers weren’t all factory constructed by Cooper staff. Some were, but others were built up by customer team mechanics at Cooper or using a ‘kit of parts’ provided by Cooper and built up elsewhere. The ‘kits’ could be complete or otherwise which is reflected in the many different details between cars which are nominally of the same model type.

The British Racing Partnership/Yeoman Credit take on a Cooper T51 Climax at Monaco in 1960- Tony Brooks Q3 and 4th-Moss won in a Walker Lotus 18. Compare the bodywork and detail of this car with the ‘factory standard’ car of Noel Hall below (D Friedman)

 

Noel Hall’s Cooper T51 Climax at Lowood, Qld in 1959. Probably during one of the two Lowood Gold Star rounds (unattributed)

Whilst, as noted above, the T51 chassis and related componentry inclusive of the gearbox was carried over from the T45, the critical aspect of the package essential for ultimate success was redesign of the FPF to the maximum allowable F1 capacity limit of 2.5 litres unsupercharged.

The 2.2’s of 1958 were fragile at the margin, the block and crankcase had been weakened in the process of taking the engine from its original 1.5 litres to a smidge over 2.2. The crank counter-weights could not be enlarged and as a consequence the motor vibrated and ran roughly- its life was usually short if over-revved.

Walter Hassan’s redesign started as late as 1 December 1958.

A new block was made by Birmal in light alloy integrating both the block and crankcase and extended from 3 1/2 inches below the crankshaft to 8 5/32 inches above it, Nye wrote. The bore/stroke was 94mm x 89.9mm for a capacity of 2495cc. Cast iron wet liners were used and a five main bearing crank. Beneath the crank was a jackshaft which carried three oil pumps- one pressure and two scavenge. The engine was ‘cross-bolted’- eight studs each side of the block screwed into the main caps.

The two valve, DOHC engine, as before, had its cams driven by a train of gears. The Mk1 2.5 litre heads had 1 1/2 inch bore ports feeding 1.937 inch inlet valves and 1.687 exhausts. Nye notes the engine was ‘under-valved’ initially in case of structural deficiency elsewhere. Fitted with twin-Weber 58 DCO carbs the engine revved happily to 7000rpm developing circa 240bhp @ 6750rpm and ‘pulled like a train from as little as 4000rpm’. Remember that the 2207cc unit produced 194bhp.

Brabham would have well and truly noticed the weight gain mind you- the 1.5 FPF weighed 225lb, the new 2.5 290lb.

Doncha hate thoughtless crops! Headless Repco technician, probably Michael Gasking, with an FPF bottom end in the Repco Engine Lab, Richmond circa 1963 which means its probably one of Jack’s 2.7 ‘Indy’ spec engines used in the NZ/Oz pre-Tasman F Libre days. Note the beefy steel Laystall crank, deep block as per text and row of holes ‘at the top’ for the cross-bolt studs. It’s a story in itself but Repco were licensed or approved by Climax to look after the FPF’s which extended to manufacture of rings, bearings and pistons with CC providing block and head castings which were machined by Repco. Brabham was the first ‘customer’ (M Gasking)

Cooper’s factory drivers changed in 1959 as Roy Salvadori, for years a contracted Aston Martin driver, committed himself to David Brown’s old-school front-engined cars in F1 as well as their sportscar program.

It was a remarkably loyal call by Roy but one not readily understood given his back to back test of Rob Walker’s old and new cars only twelve months or so ago. Roy was very much the quicker of he and Jack in 1958 and really was in the box seat with all of the knowledge about what was coming down the Cooper pike…A Le Mans win together with Carroll Shelby that summer was some compensation for the Aston Martin DBR4 which was ‘too little too late’ without getting lost in that tangent.

John Cooper therefore recruited Masten Gregory and promoted Bruce to the F1 squad with Jack’s unique contribution in and out of the car ongoing.

Vanwall withdrew from Grand Prix racing, and soon altogether, so Stirling Moss raced Rob Walker’s Coopers. The primary difference in specification between the works cars and Walker’s were that John Cooper didn’t provide his you-beaut modified ERSA gearboxes. Walker was left to his one devices, contracting Valerio Colotti to build transmissions, which it transpired failed repeatedly.

In some ways it could be said 1959-1960 were the years of the gearboxes. Moss would have won in 1959 had the Colotti’s held together in the Walker 51 and a Lotus 18, ‘the car of 1960’ would perhaps have won in 1960 were it not for the unreliability of Colin Chapman’s sequential ‘Queerboxes’.

Having said that Cooper created their own luck by building modified versions of the Citroen-ERSA boxes in 1959 and the Owen Maddock designed, Jack Knight built ‘Cooper-Knight CS5’ transaxle in 1960.

Ifs, buts and maybes mean nothing in motor racing- but they are interesting all the same!

Chassis #F2-16-59 , Noel Hall’s T51 was a new car ex-factory, fitted with a 2.2 litre FPF, here outside his garage business- where was that? (J Ellacott)

Jack Brabham won the 1959 title with 31 points from Tony Brooks, Ferrari Dino 246 and Vanwall on 27, Moss 25 1/2 and Phil Hill, Ferrari Dino 246 on 20 points.

The season was open in that Brabham, Brooks and Moss won two races apiece- Monaco and Aintree for Jack, Nürburgring and Reims for Tony and Monsanto and Monza fell to Stirling.

Moss lost the Monaco and Zandvoort leads- and was out early at Monza due to Colotti failure. But the works-boxes were marginal too and Jack nursed them, there is little doubt he had greater mechanical sympathy than Moss- and most other drivers for that matter. One does often make ones own luck in all forms of human endeavour.

2.2 Coventry Climax engine detail and ‘curvaceous’ Maddock frame (J Ellacott)

Both Jo Bonnier and Bruce McLaren took their first Championship Grand Prix wins that year- at Zandvoort (also his last) and Sebring aboard BRM P25 and Cooper T51 respectively.

Five non-championship events were held in 1959 and there, too the Coopers were dominant- T51’s took the Glover Trophy at Goodwood- Moss from Brabham powered by their brand new Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF’s, the International Gold Cup at Oulton Park went to the Moss/Walker Cooper and Jack bagged the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.

Front-engined non-champ victories went to Jean Behra’s Ferrari Dino 246 at Aintree- the BARC 200 and to Ron Flockhart’s BRM P25 at Snetterton in October- the Silver City Trophy.

This is one of my favourite Cooper shots- Harry Schell in a delicate, high speed Yeoman Credit T51 Madgwick drift at Goodwood during the April 1960 Glover Trophy. DNF engine after 20 laps. Ireland’s Lotus 18 won from the T51’s of Moss and Chris Bristow (Getty)

 

Jack with T51 in the Longford paddock 1960. Is that Alec Mildren in the striped shirt? Jack won in ‘F2-4-59’?) from Mildren’s T51 Maserati and Bib Stillwell, T51 Climax. Lovely atmo shot! Big, hungry DCO mouths (R Lambert)

Cooper were more dominant in Formula 2 where Coopers T43, T45 and T51 ‘cleaned up’.

The most successful combination of the year was Moss at the wheel of Rob Walker’s Borgward engined T43 and T45 with four wins. Tim Parnell and Chris Bristow took three apiece, Brabham two and one each for a lengthy rollcall- Jim Russell, Henry Taylor, Jack Lewis, Maurice Trintignant, Roy Salvadori, Harry Schell, Stan Hart, Trevor Taylor, Ron Carter and Tony Marsh. Amazing really, Cooper built and sold a lotta motor cars!

Moss’ Walker T51 Climax in the Ardmore paddock, NZ GP 1960. Moss DNF clutch after 27 laps- Brabham T51 won from McLaren T45 and Stillwell T51, Bib’s 2.2 the other two fellas 2.5’s (LibNZ)

At the European seasons end Moss, Brabham and McLaren headed south to the Antipodes for what would become an annual trip to race hard in the sun and play hard in the sun…

The NZ GP at Ardmore was won by Jack’s T51 as was the Longford Trophy in early March.

The Surbiton boys received a rude awakening when they fronted up in Argentina on 7 February with their T51’s to be comprehensively blown off by Innes Ireland’s new Lotus 18 Climax- Chapman’s first crack at a mid-engine design was a rather successful one in FJ, F2 and F1…

Bruce won the race after the Lotus failed but Jack DNF’d with heat-treating failure in his ERSA gearbox.

Suitably chastened the Cooper crew famously began the design of what became the Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’ on the long haul flights back to the UK. Doug Nye records that they landed in Heathrow on 17 March with the 14 May Silverstone International Trophy the deadline for completion of new cars.

Mike Barney preparing Jack and Bruce #18 T53 Climax in the Reims paddock in 1960- first and third, Jack won from pole. Technical details as per second part of the article but note the ‘bungy’ retained huge ally fuel tanks and relative height of T53 compared with T45/51

A head start was provided by Owen Maddock’s Cooper-Knight CS5 gearbox- it was just entering limited volume production in Knight’s workshops. McLaren’s College drawing skills were deployed to assist Maddock with Jack providing thought leadership and sketching whilst John chased suppliers for parts.

In essence the T53 was longer, sleeker, lower and lighter with a new, reliable gearbox able to take the loads of the more powerful FPF 2.5- itself mounted a smidge lower in the stronger in torsional stiffness by 25% (over the T51) Lowline frame- in the final year of the long-lived, very successful and interesting 2.5 litre F1.

The second half of the article covers the T53 technical advances in plenty of detail.

Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’ (Brian Hatton)

Innes Ireland won the Glover Trophy at Goodwood in April and the International Trophy at Silverstone in May- Jack’s T53 was second.

Moss could see the Lotus writing on the wall so Rob Walker acquired an 18 prior to Monaco- Stirling promptly won the race albeit Jack led until lap 41 when he spun on  a wet patch and clobbered the Ste Devote wall- the damaged frame was repaired in time for Zandvoort where he won- the Lowline’s first win was on the board.

At Spa the cars were jets- Jack was 2.5 seconds quicker than the nearest pursuer in practice. He won easily with Bruce second after others fell by the wayside- Nye notes Bruce’ car topped 180mph.

By Reims the T53’s were fitted with larger capacity oil pumps to prolong crown-wheel and pinion life. Jack started from pole and won again after a great long duel with Phil Hill’s potent Ferrari Dino 246.

Jack won again in Britain after Graham Hill’s BRM brakes faltered and he spun 6 laps from home, Bruce was fourth, adrift of the two Lotus 18’s of Surtees and Ireland.

This photo and the one below are to illustrate the size and shape differences between the 1959 T51- here Lance Reventlow’s works car and the 1960 T53- Bruce’ #2 car at Silverstone during the British GP weekend- up the road is one of the BRM P48’s. Brabham’s T53 won from the Surtees and Ireland Lotus 18’s. Bruce was 4th and Lance’s car was raced by (his Scarab fellow driver) Chuck Daigh- DNF overheating from Q19 after 56 laps

 

The shot from the rear is during the 1960 French GP at Reims- Olivier Gendebien T51, 2nd at left with Bruce’ T53 at right, 3rd. Jack won. Great effort by Gendebien in the BRP Cooper

Fortune again favoured the team at Oporto with another one-two whilst in non-championship events Ireland continued to win- the cars had the speed to win shorter events but not the reliability to win Grands Prix. He won the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton in September and Moss the Oulton Park Gold Cup in Walker’s Lotus later the same month.

The Italian organisers engineered a Ferrari win at Monza by running their race on the banked circuit and Moss- well and truly back after his terrible Spa crash on that deathly weekend early in the season, the victor in the US GP at Riverside in the Walker 18.

In Formula 2 Cooper did not have it all their own way in 1960 as they had the year before- of 26 races Cooper won twelve, the Lotus 18 six, Porsche 718 five and Ferrari 156 three- the latter car ‘a dry run’ for their 1961 World Championship winning cars. Of the Cooper brigade Brabham and Jack Lewis won three races, Mike McKee two and George Lawton, Roy Salvadori, Maurice Trintignant, and Klaas Twisk one apiece.

Bruce works T53 FPF 2.5 Lowline at a very soggy Wigram 1961. Bruce was fourth behind Brabham, Moss and Angus Hyslop- Cooper T53, Lotus 18 and Cooper T45, all Climax FPF powered (CAN)

 

Technical…

T43..

 

In a Motorsport Gordon Murray appreciation piece about the Cooper T51/53 he wrote that when he went to Brabham (in 1972/3) he inherited Pete Beddings and his Dad who made all of the early Cooper shells ‘…but I don’t know who styled them. Whoever it was obviously had an eye, because they were very pretty and quite effective aerodynamically. I suspect it was John saying “its a bit like this”.’

‘I still love to see a little Cooper at Goodwood: they still stir the blood just the same as a Ferrari or a Lotus. They were also well made for the period- if you look at, say, a Ferrari of the time, the frame technology is pretty basic: the rear engined Coopers were at least multi-tubular. Not pure spaceframes like Chapman moved on to later (I think he was well and truly there already Gordon!), but they were clever-simple for reliability.’

The T43 chassis was made of the usual Cooper 1 1/2 inch steel tube. The Mark 1 tall frame hoop encircled the seat back bulkhead and was unbraced whereas here (below) it was unbraced but the top chassis longerons each side of the engine bay were braced against the lower longerons by a three piece ‘Y member’.

What about those Cooper chassis’ which have always offended the purists- a true multi-tubulars spaceframe chassis should use straight tubes only, each stressed in either compression or tension.

Famously, after laying out several straight tube designs for the Mark 8, and in John’s absence having them rejected by Charles Cooper, Owen Maddocks decided to take the piss and presented an option in which every tube was bent- to his surprise it was embraced by Charles, a good intuitive Engineer.

Doug Nye recounts Owens account of the discussion about the approach when John Cooper returned.

’Curving the top frame rails down to meet the bottom ones reduced wracking through the frame. You could run curved tubes where they wouldn’t interfere with fuel tanks and suchlike. One of our very good welders always told me he preferred simple joints- with just one tube jointed into another- to multiple joints with with three or four tubes involved. We didn’t like weld overlapping weld and so tried to arrange things to avoid that. With curved tubes we could follow the body lines more closely, so we didn’t need the old strip -steel frame to support the body panels. What had started as a joke began to look quite logical, and very practical…’

The F2 Coventry Climax 1475cc gave circa 141bhp @ 7000rpm in its first evolution and drove through a Citroen-ERSA transaxle, which coped pretty well with the demands put upon it at that stage. Note the change linkages and beautiful rear suspension detail- traditional transverse leaf and wishbones Cooper design.

Coopers curvy frame shown to good effect.

In 1956/7 wire-wheels were still very much the norm in motor racing, Coopers progressive inclination was reflected on the magnesium alloys specified on their cars pretty much from the start. Objects of beauty, lower unsprung weight and strength were amongst the favourable properties.

Crystal clear John Ross shot- not quite close enough to checkout the chassis number however! I wonder who was the steering wheel provider of choice.

Note the gear lever and linkages to the left- the weak link of the higher powered T45 and T51’s covered in this article were the gearboxes, a solution was finally arrived at for all in the form of Mike Hewland’s concern in the early sixties when a racing gearbox finally ‘became a spacer between the engine and rear of the chassis.’

Smiths instruments of course- I wonder if one of those to the lower left is for gearbox oil temperature?

The engine progression in 1957 goes something like this.

F2 Coventry Climax FPF 1500cc 141 bhp was the ‘standard engine’ for F2 T43’s.

In F1 Jack Brabham raced at Monaco with a 1960cc FPF for the first time and later in the season, as outlined earlier in the article, 2.2 litre engines were approved by Leonard Lee late in the year and made available to the works and Rob Walker teams in 1958- and others later.

The T41’s side panels wrapped tightly around the chassis hoops whereas the T43’s were bulged to clear the fuel tanks either side of the driver- sufficient tankage was incorporated for a race of 200 miles duration. The bulged body panels were carried clear of the frame on light-guage outriggers.

See the bungees retaining the fuel tanks above. Brakes in standard form as here, were Lockheed 10 inch x 1 3/4 inch drums but Girling discs were an option and commonly specified. Shock absorbers were Armstong and uprights, I think, fabricated in-house.

Very slippery.

Lean, lithe, light and uber-responsive given the low polar moment of inertia.

Not for the faint of heart and not everybody familiar with a front-engined racer could successfully make the switch- mind you, by 1956 a generation of racers had cut their teeth on air-cooled, mid-engined Coopers so they were rather used to the handling properties of the little beetle-backed machines.

 

T45…

 

This group of photographs are all of an F2 T45 FPF 1.5 but the technical elements of the F2 and F1 T45’s are the same with the exception of engine capacity of course.

The Mk3/T45 F2 and F1 and 1959 Championship winning Mk4/T51 F2 and F1 cars are virtually identical so lets take a deepish dive into the T45 and the changes over the previous T43.

This chassis is fitted with an F2 1475cc FPF- T45’s were also fitted with 1960cc, 2015cc and 2207cc FPF’s in 1958.

The bore/stroke at the latter capacity was 3.5 inches- this ‘square’ configuration was only made possible by slipping a ‘sandwich plate’ between the block and the head to get the required stroke height. On Avgas this motor produced 194bhp @ 6250rpm.

The shot above provides just a glimpse of the rear transverse leaf spring aft of the chassis cross tube.

Its lateral location was now provided by a short link pivoted on the left side frame trunnion and bolted to a centre clamp (you can just see the inner end) retaining the leaves in the middle of the spring.

Front to rear weight balance of most Coopers was about 44-56%- quite similar to the best front engined cars with a rear mounted fuel tank.

The T45 chassis was  1/2 inches lower than the T43- at the front it now incorporated upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/Armstong shocks rather than the transverse leaf used by Coopers from the start.

Ain’t she sweet.

Note the Alford and Alder forged front uprights, these wonderful bits of kit, then fitted to the Standard 8 and Triumph TR3 Road cars, were installed in F1 Brabhams up to and including the 1966 World Championship winning BT19 Repco- and Formula Fords well into the late seventies and beyond. One of motor racings most ubiquitous components, surely?

The front wishbones were of the welded tubular type and included a Chorlton ball joint at their outer end. The uprights lower threaded trunnion was coated with cadminium plating setting the finished product off nicely. Roll bars were housed within the bottom frame cross-member.

The photograph below shows (apart from the very obvious) the top leaf outer end, Armstrong shock and inboard mount for the lower wishbone. The wishbones were more widely based at both the top and bottom than on the Mk2/T43. The outboard mount for the Armstrongs was stiffened- it was on a crossbrace welded between the wishbone legs. Note the fuel filter, starter motor and height of the gearbox.

On the earlier cars the height of the engine in the frame was determined by the Citroen based gearbox as its input shaft from clutch to gearbox passed high above the inner driveshafts.

In the early Mk2’s the engine was canted 18 degrees to the right and inclined downwards at the front by 5 degrees to lower the centre of gravity.

Jack Brabham’s ongoing contribution to design elements of Coopers in addition to set up and on circuit tuning is well established and recognised. Brabham maintained ongoing correspondence with Ron Tauranac back in Sydney. It was Ron’s suggestion to use ‘drop gears’- spur gears inside the gearbox bell-housing which allowed the engine/gearbox to be lowered a full 2 1/2 inches within the chassis frame.

Cooper worked with ERSA in Paris, the gearbox manufacturer and Jack Knight’s specialist shop in Balham, to effect those changes. A bonus was incorporation of a quick-change final drive ratio feature.

Jack famously visited ERSA in early 1958 and had six gearboxes cast with extra strengthening ribs. He laid out all the patterns on the bench and added Plasticene here and scraping a core there- the trick cases were just man enough to handle the power of the 2.2 engines in 1958 and 2.5’s in 1959. ZF slippery diffs were added too- a side trip for Jack whilst in Germany, back at Surbiton ‘…John covered his tracks so Charlie would not hear of the extra expense’ Nye wrote.

‘All Cooper chassis pickups…had been provided by drilled triangular welded-on brackets known as “Bradnack Lugs”, and on the Mark 3 frame those anchoring the inboard pivots of the lower wishbones were aligned above the bottom frame rails instead of below them. Both top and bottom frame longerons were more widely spaced than on the preceding Mark 2’s with less pronounced tube curvature’ Doug Nye wrote.

 

Whilst noting Cooper’s mid-engine approach itself was at the time revolutionary, the evolution of the cars from T43 to T45/51 was more evolutionary in nature addressing design/performance weaknesses or strengthening componentry based on hard won experience.

Charlie, John and Jack were all racers…and supreme pragmatists.

They were not after the great leap forward- they had that conceptually, beyond that they sought performance advantage and reliability whilst Charles, with a ready eye on the family fortunes, ensured the whole kit and caboodle could be sold at a profit and repaired and maintained cost-effectively back at Hollyfield Road or by a customer in the paddock at Gnoo Blas.

Doug Nye is at pains to point out in HAGP that the specification of these cars is not fixed or hard and fast given so many of them, as we covered earlier, were built in the factory by the teams running them or using kits of parts supplied. The ultimate detail and personal tweaks applied means that individual chassis differed from one another almost as a matter of course.

Take your pick of artists in terms of T51 cutaway drawings!

The one earlier in the article is Tony Matthews, above is James Allingtons’ and the one below is Brian Hatton’s so every angle and detail must be well and truly covered!

 

T53 ‘Lowline’..

 

(D Friedman)

As mentioned earlier the threat of the Lotus 18 meant that a ‘clean sheet’ approach was needed- a Cooper-esque clean sheet in any event! Every part of the T51 was quickly scrutinised through lenses of lightness, simplicity, strength and efficiency.

Fundamental design tenets were laying the driver down to aid aerodynamic efficiency, a coil sprung rear end (Charles Cooper fought a pitched battle on this score Nye records by insisting that a transverse leaf rear also be designed should the coils fail), greater torsional stiffness and an improvement in performance around the T51 ‘weak tracks’ which included fast places like Reims and the Avus.

(D Friedman)

The chassis was still essentially a four-tuber of 1 1/2 inch 18 gauge thick top rails and 19 gauge bottoms. Diagonals braced the frame bays ahead of the cockpit but that area was un-braced ‘other than small tube ties welded across the joint apices’.

The long rear bays were unbraced on both sides, when the engine and gearbox were fitted- the latter ‘CS5’ had five mount points frame stiffness was of course enhanced. There were two diagonals in each side with a common apex halfway along the bottom chassis rail.

The engine mounts were welded onto curved tubes to reduce the length of the mounts, both of which were welded to the middle of the main frame members, this ‘would have been heresy to an accomplished stress man like Colin Chapman’ Doug notes.

(D Friedman)

The engine was lowered another inch over the T51 by reducing centre-offset between the step-up gears in the gearbox and allowing the driveshafts to rake upwards to the hubs rather than being parallel with the ground when static.

The steering column was lengthened and moved from behind the front axle line to ahead of it- thus the pedals could go forward and the steering wheel rake made more vertical all allowing the driver to adopt a more laid-down pose aiding aero on those fast courses.

The oil tank capacity was the same but its shape was changed- it was lower and wider, still behind the radiator but pushed forward to reduce nose height.

(D Friedman)

Suspension wishbones were wider and stronger.

The ‘CS5’ transaxle was a lovely bit of kit. It was remote sumped in its gearbox section with splash-feed to the final drive and ZF diff. The unit placed its gears above the oil level so only a pressure pump was needed.

The gearbox ‘…proved essentially trouble free…Jack Knight recalled the vast amount of machining required…its cost to Cooper was around 1000 pounds a box which was virtually prohibitive. John Cooper managed to hush it up, telling his father they cost around 400 pounds each- and The Old Man was livid even then!’ Nye wrote.

No doubt Chapman would have been keen to get hold of a couple of these boxes half way through 1960, fitted thus he had a championship winning car.

Note the CS5 gearbox and pressure pump on the outside casing, oil filler neck and upper and lower rear suspension wishbone mounts (D Friedman)

The prototype Lowline was completed at around 9 am on Friday 6 May 1960 and taken to Silverstone, where after a few shakedown laps, Brabham drove faster and faster- within 10 laps he was 2 seconds under the lap record. Then Bruce jumped in and went quicker still.

Cooper were well and truly back in the game!

 

Bruno Betti’s take on the Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’

So where does this series of cars fit in the pantheon of racing cars and motor racing history?

Gordon Murray was rather eloquent about that aspect.

‘When I think back to GP milestones , its pretty obvious really, the first rear-engined F1 Cooper. Not so much from a technical point of view even though it was so simple and so effective compared to the other more complex cars of the time but because it brought with it probably the most significant change in Grand Prix cars…’

‘Who else can lay claim to such an impact. And i’m including pre-war cars like Auto Unions because they were such bad examples of rear-engined cars…The real pioneers were Charles and John Cooper, first with the 500 F3 cars and then having the bottle as a small concern to go ahead and do a GP car.’

‘Really the Cooper was more significant, more forward looking even than the Lotus 25 because it meant a fundamental change in packaging, weight distribution, frontal area, in philosophy. And it was an ultra simple car as well, easy to run easy to work on. I always tried to build my GP cars at both Brabham and McLaren to be as simple and easy to work on as possible, and therefore get reliability, and the Cooper was such a good car from that angle. And that Climax was a very under-rated engine because it was built by a very small company. So, the whole package was pretty radical. John probably hasn’t had the credit he should have overall.’

‘All kinds of things appeal to me about it: firstly it was a great little family business, two bright guys and then the giant killing aspect…I just love that aspect. And these guys did two titles back to back…’

Finally, Gordon concluded ‘As a designer i’d have loved to have been the first to say “hang on that’s a  bit cranky having the engine in the front”, with that weight distribution, that frontal area, the prop-shaft losses, compared to the extra traction, better braking- everything gets better with the engine behind. You can’t help saying “Why didn’t somebody think of this before”…

1961 February Teretonga International, NZ. L>R Tony Shelly, Cooper T45 Climax, Pat Hoare, Ferrari 256 (in essence a Dino 246 with 3 litre Testa Rossa V12) Denny Hulme Cooper T51 2.5 FPF leased off Yeoman Credit and Jo Bonnier Yeoman Credit Cooper T51 Climax- to the right is Malcolm Gill in the silver Lycoming, a very successful, iconic Kiwi aero-engine special. No less than Jim Clark was impressed with a drive of this car! Bonnier won from Roy Salvadori, Lotus 18 off the back of the grid, Hulme and Hoare (CAN)

Etcetera: Cooper Mark and Type Numbers…

Allen Brown advises that the ‘T type’ descriptor started at Cooper in 1963. It was applied both prospectively and retrospectively. Stephen Dalton ‘tangibilises’ this in that after extensive research, he can see Cooper using a ‘T number’ for the first time in an October 1962 issue of Autosport where Cooper are quoted about ‘the new Cooper Monaco, the Type 61’

Doug Nye wrote more broadly about the timing of the detailed way in which racing cars commenced to be identified (that is, for example, when a Cooper or Cooper Climax became a Cooper T51 Climax) ‘When it comes to a type numbering system- as in so many things Cooper- don’t rely on published references to same…I have seen all types of T scrawls on some drawing copies.’

‘When I publicised manufacturer type classifications in a “Motor Racing” magazine article reviewing the 1 litre F2 seasons 1964-5 that was the first detailed references that many people had seen to some model classifications which are now used as common terms. I was not the first- but I think at least amongst the first- to present such nerdy detail.’

‘Race reporters had seldom used even Brabham BT classification before then…Brian Jordan had previously produced a little booklet essentially for model makers which included type number detail. I also seem to recall Paul Watson freelance writer/entry fixer of the 1960’s having on a few prior occasions cited a type number’ Doug concluded.

Renwick 50, in the very north of New Zealand North Island, November 1961. Flagman at the bottom of his downward arc on the podium at right! Preliminary heat on the one off rectangular circuit which used the main street. Bob Eade, on pole Maserati 250F, Tony Shelly, Cooper T45 FPF 2 litre. Pat Hoare (won the main race in his Ferrari 256 V12) on row 2 then the Bob Eade 250F and the rest including Chris Amon- in front of the sportscar on the right perhaps? (CAN)

Credits…

Special thanks to the fantastic John Ross Motor Racing Archive and Dave Friedman Archive, Theo Page, Brian Hatton, University of Newcastle, The Nostalgia Forum, ‘CAN’-Classic Auto News- Allan Dick, Milan Fistonic, Geoff Smedley, David Van Dal, oldracephotos.com.au, Getty Images- Bernard Cahier and GP Library, John Ellacott, Ron Lambert, Tony Matthews, James Allington, Bruno Betti, Ken Devine Collection

Bibliography…

‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, grandprix.com, oldracingcars.com, F2Index-Fastlane, Motorsport ‘Cooper T51/53’ interview with Gordon Murray in June 2000

Tailpiece…

Jack at his happiest and most creative.

‘Jack Brabham…was always working with the cars, looking at them, thinking about them…’Owen Maddock fondly observed of Jack to Doug Nye.

Its a posed shot above no doubt but it illustrates the point all the same…

Finito…

 

(Natlib)

Jack Brabham sorts some Coventry Climax, or more particularly, Lucas electrical problems on the Ardmore pit counter during the 1960 New Zealand Grand Prix, January 9 weekend…

That Brabham’s mechanical abilities were right up there with his talent at the wheel has never been in doubt!

Note ‘the breakfast of champions’ bottle of Coke at the ready. The wooden box of Macleay Duff whisky is more troubling but I think its safe to assume Jack was not mixing the two liquids to assist his quest for greater speed. Not that early in the day anyway.

Brabham at Ardmore 1960, Cooper T51 Climax (Natlib)

Bruce led the race in a Cooper T45 FPF 2.5 ‘brought up to 1959 specs’ wrote Bruce Sergent, whilst Jack’s car was a new 2.5 litre T51.  McLaren’s 3 laps up front ended when he was passed by Moss’ Rob Walker T51, also fitted with a 2.5 FPF.

Brabham and Moss then staged a spirited dice with the lead changing a number of times before ‘Brabham’s determination and slight edge in performance’ put Jack in front on lap 18.

Moss was stopped by a broken clutch-shaft on lap 27- Brabham and McLaren then put on a show for the crowd before a ‘form-finish’- Brabham won from McLaren and then Aussies Bib Stillwell and Stan Jones in 2.2 litre engined T51’s. John Mansel and Arnold Glass followed in Maserati 250F’s in fourth and fifth and best of the front-engined, now, old guard…

(Natlib)

David Piper’s Lotus 16 Climax (DNF driveshaft) from Moss’ Rob Walker Cooper T51 Climax 2.5, #88 Ron Roycroft’s ex-Gonzalez Ferrari 375 (twelfth), Malcolm Gill, Lycoming Special (DNF) then Stan Jones, Cooper T51 Climax 2.2 and Ted Gray, Tornado 2 Chev DNF.

Brabham raced on in Australia after his NZ Tour, click here for that; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

Credits…

‘Natlib’- National Library of New Zealand, Bruce Sergent on sergent.com

Tailpiece…

(Natlib)

A couple of beaming youths- Brabham and a somewhat bloodied McLaren with the goodies. I doubt Jack thumped him so circuit grit is probably the culprit.

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…

image

Jack Brabham looking very comfy in his Brabham BT20 Repco with ‘lightweight’ head-cam attached during practice at Watkins Glen in 1966…

When looking at this shot it’s amazing to reflect on such equipment, every man and his dog have ‘GoPros’ to capture their sporting triumphs these days whatever they might be.

What Jack was up to is interesting, and not covered in the MotorSport report of the race. ‘Grand Prix’ was released on 21 December 1966, the date of this footage is the Watkins Glen weekend of October 1/2 that year.

Given James Garner’s presence is this some late footage for the classic which would have been in the final production stages or some other sort of promotional activity?

I’m interested to know from you ‘Grand Prix’ anoraks or any of you who were there.

image

image

Brabham, Bandini and Surtees at the start. Brabham BT20 Repco, Ferrari 312 and Cooper T81 Maserati respectively (Upitis)

Jacks car is not his regular 1966 mount, the one-off 1965 BT19 chassis but rather a BT20, the 1966 F1 design raced by Denny throughout the year.

Brabham put the Repco V8 engined car on pole, a good effort as he was experimenting with both Lucas and Bosch ignition systems during practice which hampered him putting sequences of quick laps together.

He led the race convincingly until a cam follower broke, jamming the camshaft and breaking its drive chain. Jim Clark lead from that point, lap 55 in the Lotus 43 BRM. The engine of Jim’s car, BRM’s spare, was still being fitted and finessed right up to the start of the race.

It was a famous win, the H16’s only victory and ironic that the complex, heavy, powerful lump was in the back of a Lotus rather than the BRM chassis the Bourne boys had laboured so long and hard to perfect. Tony Rudd’s mob deserved the win more than Chapman’s but that’s motor racing! Cooper Maserati were second and third, Rindt in front of Surtees after the 1964 World Champs T81 tangled with Peter Arundell’s Lotus 33 Climax early in the race.

Click here for an article on the Lotus 43; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/17/jim-clark-taking-a-deep-breath-lotus-43-brm/

Clark heads to the dummy grid whilst Richie Ginther walks behin- #5 is the nose of Jack’s car

Credits…

Alvis Upitis

Tailpiece: Jack being plumbed for the camera before the off, the new World Champ has everything to smile about…

image

Finito…

 

(N Tait)

‘Victory Swig’: Jack Brabham partakes of the winner’s champagne, Aintree, 18 July 1959…

Brabham won the British Grand Prix from the British Racing Partnership BRM P25 driven by Stirling Moss and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T51- Jack similarly works mounted to Bruce.

This story of the race was inspired by a couple of marvellous pieces from Nigel Tait’s Repco Collection. I wrote a largely photographic article about this weekend a while back too; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/01/masten-gregory-readies-for-the-off-british-grand-prix-aintree-1959/

(N Tait)

The reality of the win was a bit more complex than the Telex back to Repco HQ of course.

Brabham was aided by the very latest version of the Coventry Climax Mk2 FPF 2.5 ‘straight port, big valve’ engine as Doug Nye described it, and the very latest version of the modified Citroen-ERSA gearbox which used roller rather than plain bearings and oil pumps to aid the reliability of the transmission which was being stretched beyond its modest, production car design limits by the increasingly virile FPF. The short supply of 2.5 litre Climaxes was such that Denis Jenkinson noted ‘…Lotus have to share theirs between F1 and sportscars and a broken valve or connecting rod means a long delay’ in getting an engine returned from rebuild.

This you beaut gearbox was not made available to Stirling Moss or Maurice Trintignant, driving Rob Walker’s T51’s so Moss elected to race a BRM P25- he had lost leading positions in the Monaco and Dutch GP’s due to dramas with the new Colotti gearboxes the team had been using in their Coopers. The BRM was prepared by the British Racing Partnership given Moss was not confident in the Bourne marque’s standard of race preparation after brake failure of his works Type 25 at Silverstone in May.

(Getty)

Moss in the BRP BRM P25- he raced the cars in both Britain and France (Q4 and lap record but disqualified after a push start) with Brooks #20 trying to make the most of a Vanwall VW59 that lacked the advantages of monthly competitive pressures and consequent development in 1959. The champion marque or ‘International Cup’ winner in 1958 of course.

Ferrari stayed in Italy due to industrial unrest, the metal workers were on strike. On top of that Jean Behra bopped Team Manager Romolo Tavoni in an outburst of emotion after Tavoni glanced at his tachometer tell-tale after the conclusion of the French GP and challenged his driver. His Ferrari career was over, and all too soon, two weeks after the British GP, he died in a sportscar race which preceded the German GP at Avus.

Without a ride in his home GP, Ferrari driver Tony Brooks (works Ferraris were raced by Brooks, Behra, Phil Hill, Cliff Allison, Olivier Gendebien, Dan Gurney and Wolfgang von Trips in 1959- no pressure to keep your seat!) raced an updated Vanwall instead. He was without success, back in Q17 despite two cars at his disposal and DNF after a persistent misfire upon completing thirteen laps.

The Vanwalls were the same as in 1958 ‘except that the engine had been lowered in the frame, as had the propshaft line and the driving seat, while the bodywork had been made narrower and some weight reduction had been effected’ noted Denis Jenkinson in his MotorSport race report. Such was the pace of progress the Vanwalls had been left behind after their withdrawal from GP grids on a regular basis. Nye wrote that the performance of the car was so poor Tony Vandervell gave Brooks all of the teams start and appearance money in a grand gesture to a driver who had done so much for the marque.

(unattributed)

Aintree vista above as the field roars away from the grid, at the very back is Fritz d’Orey’s Maserati 250F- whilst at ground level below Jack gets the jump from the start he was never to relinquish. Salvadori is alongside in the DBR4 Aston and Schell’s BRM P25 on the inside. Behind Harry is Masten Gregory’s T51- and then from left to right on row three, McLaren T51, Moss P25, and Maurice Trintignant’s Walker T51.

(J Ross)

So the race was a battle of British Racing Greens- BRM, Cooper, Lotus, Vanwall and Aston Martin- in terms of the latter Roy Salvadori popped the front-engined DBR4 in Q2, he did a 1 min 58 seconds dead, the same as Brabham but did so after Jack. He faded in the race in large part due to an early pitstop to check that his fuel tank filler cap was properly closed- an affliction Carroll Shelby also suffered. The writing was on the wall, if not the days of the front-engined GP car all but over of course- there were three front-engined GP wins in 1959, two to the Ferrari Dino 246, in the French and German GP’s to Tony Brooks. At Zandvoort Jo Bonnier broke through to score BRM’s first championship GP win aboard a P25.

The stage was nicely set for a Brabham win from pole but it was not entirely a soda on that warm summers day ‘The big drama was tyre wear. I put a thick sportscar tyre on my cars left-front. Even so, around half distance i could see its tread was disappearing…so i began tossing the car tail-out in the corners to reduce the load on the marginal left-front.’

‘Moss had to make a late stop, and that clinched it for me. I was able to ease to the finish with a completely bald left-front’ Brabham said to Doug Nye. The Moss pitstop for tyres was unexpected as the Dunlop technicians had calculated one set of boots would last the race but they had not accounted for Stirling circulating at around two seconds a lap quicker than he had practiced! Moss later did a fuel ‘splash and dash’, taking on five gallons, as the BRM was not picking up all of its fuel despite the driver switching between tanks.

(MotorSport)

Whilst Jack won, the fastest lap was shared by Moss and McLaren during a late race dice and duel for second slot- Moss got there a smidge in front of Bruce ‘…as they accelerated towards the line, which was now crowded with photographers and officials, leaving space for only one car, Moss drove straight at the people on the right side of the road, making them jump out of the way, and to try and leave room for McLaren to try and take him on the left. This was indeed a very sporting manoeuvre…’ wrote Jenkinson. McLaren won his first GP at Sebring late in the season delivering on his all season promise. Harry Schell was fourth in a works BRM P25 and Maurice Trintignant fifth in a Colotti ‘boxed’ T51 Cooper despite the loss of second gear, with Roy Salvadori’s Aston, after a thrilling, long contest with Masten Gregory’s works T51, in sixth.

(BRM)

Nearest is Schell’s fourth placed BRM, then Trintigant’s T51- fifth, and up ahead McLaren’s third placed T51. BRM took the teams first championship win at Zandvoort in late May. No less than nine Cooper T51’s took the start in the hands of Brabham, McLaren, Trintignant, Gregory, Chris Bristow, Henry Taylor, Ivor Bueb, Ian Burgess and Hans Hermann

Photo and Research Credits…

Nigel Tait Collection, MotorSport 1959 British GP race report by Denis Jenkinson published in August 1959 and article by Doug Nye published in December 2009, Getty Images, John Ross Motor Racing Collection, BRM, Pinterest

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

The relative size of the McLaren Cooper T51 and Moss BRM P25 is pronounced on the grid. The pair were to provide lots of late race excitement after Stirling’s second pit stop.

(J Ross)

Wonderful butt shot of the Salvadori Aston Martin, #38 is the Jack Fairman driven Cooper T45 Climax, DNF gearbox, and Graham Hill’s Lotus 16 Climax up the road- he finished ninth.

(J Ross)

Roy Salvadori racing his DBR4 hard, he was at the top of his game at that career stage- if only he had stayed put with Cooper for 1959! He recovered well from an early pit stop but ultimately the car lacked the outright pace of the leaders however well suited to the track the big beast was. Carroll Shelby failed to finish in the other car after magneto failure six laps from home.

Two of these magnificent machines found good homes in Australia in the hands of Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell in the dying days of the Big Cars- Lex only lost the 1960 AGP at Lowood from Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati by metres after a magnificent race long tussle.

Tailpiece: Brabham, Cooper T51 Climax, Aintree…

(MotorSport)

It’s almost as though Jack is giving us a lesson in Cooper designer/draftsman Owen Maddock’s T51 suspension geometry arcs!

Jack was famous for his ‘tail-out’ speedway style of driving, one eminently suited to the Coopers of the era. Lets not forget, according to Jack’s account of the race, he was accentuating this aspect of his driving to save the load on his increasingly threadbare left-front Dunlop.

Jenkinson in his race report observed that ‘The Coopers, both F1 and F2, were going extremely fast, and looking horribly unstable, yet the drivers seemed quite unconcerned, whereas drivers of more stabile machinery following behind were getting quite anxious at the twitchings and jumpings of the Surbiton cars.’

However untidy it may have all been, they were mighty fast, robust weapons of war.

Finito…

(J Mepstead)

How many Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. race V8’s were built during the 1965 to 1969 period of the companies existence?…

Not sure that I know the answer in full.

Lets build a list which will be ongoing Work In Progress as we determine the number built, the car they were initially fitted to, a bit of history perhaps and the perfect world would be their ultimate destination inclusive of owns them now.

The article was stimulated by ex-RBE man John Mepstead, above, sending this photo of a very late 760 Series V8- the 4.8 litre ‘E41’ which was fitted to Frank Matich’s Matich SR4 and raced through 1969. ‘Shidday’, I thought, thats a pretty late RB Meppa is giving a tug! It must be towards the end of the production of the engines?

So, I had a bit of a fossick through Rod Wolfe’s suitcase of goodies and found a couple of source documents I knew were there to get us started. One is an ‘Engine Position’ list dated 17 July 1968, another is ‘Management Memorandum Number 1’ dated 30 June 1967.

Rod also has Graham Bartil’s notebook of engine settings made when he was assembling or rebuilding them, so in a couple of cases we have the ‘birth-date’ of the engines. I love Graham’s use of branded Repco stationery below, the first record in this exercise book is on 20 June 1966 and the last on 27 July 1966.

Malcolm Preston, in his book cites particular engines as used in various cars or events.

 

(G Bartils- Wolfe)

 

Race motors are grandfathers axe of course- blocks and heads and other bits and pieces are replaced either as a matter of routine maintenance, as a consequence of a moment of destruction or an upgrade to the latest and greatest componentry.

So an engine- ‘E6-620’ may have started as a 620 but had its block replaced in 1967 with a 700 Series block- the 20 Series heads and timing chest etc will bolt straight onto the 700 block- and thus becomes ‘E6-720. Do you get my drift?

Given my articles so far do not cover all of the engine types built, we have only done 620 and 740 in detail there is a summary towards the end of this piece of each engine you can use as a ‘ready reckoner’ of what engine is what.

What started conceptually as a list of engines changed when I went searching for information and was reminded of the Facebook ‘veins of gold’ represented by dialogue between RBE folks which deserved to be captured permanently and packaged into some semblance of order.

There is some quite exquisite detail amongst the online badinage between Rodway Wolfe and Nigel Tait over about five years with others such as Michael Gasking, John Mepstead, David Nash and the late Don Halpin adding facts, perspective, anecdotes and flavour.

Then, as momentum built amongst a few folks Rodway went back through his diaries from 1967 to 1969 and came up with some wonderful- and in a couple of cases hugely important snippets, these bits start with ‘Rod’.

Denis Lupton gave me David Nash’s number a couple of weeks ago, but of course I hadn’t got around to calling him- he gave me a yell on 18 February offering the engine list assembled by the late Don Halpin- typed and dated 15 December 1972 but with additonal annotations by hand, who surely built more of these engines in the last fifty years than anyone.

As a consequence the piece is a big, long bastard at over 12,500 words. Ridiculous really, so grab a couple of ‘longnecks’ and a nice cold glass before the off!

Special thanks to all of those who have provided assistance in recent times or online some years back- very little of this article is from a book- such a publication does not exist.

Other Notes

I have put in build years as headings which are indicative rather than definitive but at least serve to help structure the article. The engine numbers do not all run ‘in sequence’ as much of the article had been written by the time I had the full list of numbers, and it is a big job to re-format.

This is Repco anoraks only stuff of course, I assume you will have read the links immediately below, that is I’m operating on the basis you have a base level of knowledge as I do not ‘join all the dots’ throughout.

Finally, by way of introduction any errors of commission or omission are mine.

Remember this piece is WIP- if you can add bits to the puzzle or knowledge of these wonderful bits of engineering do get in touch.

Homework before you start this piece are these articles on the RBE-620 Series;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

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

and again; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/08/man-of-the-moment/

and this one on the RBE-640 and 740 Series;

https://primotipo.com/2016/08/05/rb740-repcos-1967-f1-championship-winning-v8/

and this one; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/28/give-us-a-cuddle-sweetie/

To cut to the chase RBE Pty. Ltd. built about 51 engines, that is engines or part thereof allocated a number, Redco Pty. Ltd built 1, Don Halpin 2, plus various bibs and bobs which will become apparent via the responses this article attracts.

Finally, that RBE count does not include ‘special projects’ inclusive of the Repco-Brabham Pontiac Project…

Here we go.

 

(SMH)

 

The photograph above is Ron Tauranac and BT19 ‘620’, the 1966 championship winning combination, at the ‘Shifting Gear’ National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne exhibition in 2015.

Click here for an article about that fantastic gig; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/13/shifting-gear-design-innovation-and-the-australian-car-exhibition-national-gallery-of-victoria-by-stephen-dalton-mark-bisset/

 

1965-1966

 

RB620-E1

The very first 2.5 litre engine built in Richmond, first run on the dyno in March 1965 ‘Wade 185 camshaft’ noted in (undated sadly) Graham Bartil’s book entry.

It may well be he has transcribed the details of E1 into his book as a point of reference for another engine he was working on.

 

(G Bartils- Wolfe)

 

As at July 1968 it was a ‘mock up display engine’- which presumably means no gizzards inside.

No more on this engine as it’s build is well covered in one of the articles by Rodway and I referenced above.

David Nash owns E1 presently, built as a 4.4 litre 620, he plans to fit it to Peter Holinger’s first Repco engined hillclimber he also owns.

 

Repco Brabham engine #1 RB620 ‘E1’. This was the only engine fitted with Webers, this set of carbs were borrowed from Bib Stillwell, the Oz champion racer’s car dealership and race shop were in Kew, several kays from Doonside Street (Repco)

 

Phil Irving, Jack Brabham and Frank Hallam with Roy Billington fettling- Brabham BT19 Repco 620 2.5 E2 at Longford 1966

 

When I looked at this photo I thought ‘Shit! The only guy missing from the core 1966 Championship winning team is Ron!’ But its not quite that simple of course…

The Repco F1 engine program came about as one of a series of progressive motor racing steps starting with Dave McGrath’s purchase of Charlie Dean’s Replex business- the Repco Board did not decide ‘out of the blue’ to build a Tasman 2.5 / F1 3 litre engine.

Repco’s motor racing history can be characterised as having distinct phases as follows.

They are the Charlie Dean Maybach period from the early to late fifties- racing Maybach’s 1 – 4 with Stan Jones as driver. Then the Repco Hi-Power head period- a program initiated by Dean with the head designed by Phil Irving. Whilst aimed at road use, these heads which sat atop Holden ‘Grey’ six-cylinder motors had huge racing take up.

The Coventry Climax phase was run by Frank Hallam from 1962 onwards when Jack sought assistance to prepare and supply parts for his 2.7 litre and later 2.5 litre FPF’s. Michael Gasking primarily built and tested the engines.

Then comes the RBE program initiated by Jack in 1963’ish, sponsored at Board level by Dave McGrath, CEO of Repco Ltd and Charlie Dean, by then a Repco Director. Bob Brown, a Repco Director was appointed by McGrath as Director of RBE Pty Ltd- the entity which built the motors with Frank Hallam as General Manager. Phil Irving and Norman Wilson were the Chief Engineers in 1965/6 and 1966-9 respectively.

The final phase was the Repco Holden F5000 era from 1969 to 1974 with Dean the Repco Director in charge of REDCO Pty Ltd. (Repco Engine Development Co) Malcolm Preston was General Manager/Engineering Chief…and in the words of the great Gomer Pyle ‘Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!’- Phil Irving returned as Chief Engineer.

Phil was ‘brought in from the cold’ by Charlie and Mal given Frank Hallam was out of ‘earshot’ at Repco Research in Scoresby, a long way from Maidstone! You can bet your left nut that Hallam would not have been a happy camper when that particular bit of news made its way to his part of the Repco Empire.

I may have laboured the point- which is that by the time of the RBE program Repco was a corporate with a racing culture and ethos- if not throughout all of the conglomerate at least embedded in part of it.

Click here for a feature article on the Repco-Holden F5000 program;

https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

 

Repco Boardroom, St Kilda Road, Melbourne probably late 1965 L>R Bob Brown, Frank Hallam, Jack Brabham, Sir Charles ‘Dave’ McGrath, Ted Callinan and Charlie Dean – all but Hallam and Brabham were Repco Ltd Directors (Tate/Repco)

 

Building on that, the key planks of Repco motor-racing participation and success start with Charlie Dean, a racer to his core- Maybach car builder, AGP competitor and the rest.

But of course he wouldn’t have been able to run the Maybach program within Repco and develop a whole swag of engineers and a ‘racing culture’, especially within Repco Research in Sydney Road, Brunswick without Managing Director and later Chairman ‘Dave’ McGrath’s ongoing support of him- and later Jack in a very personal kind of way.

McGrath’s patronage of the various race programs went all the way through to his retirement from Repco.

Frank Hallam was a good choice as RBE General Manager- he marshalled the forces within the typically political nature of a large multi-national very well and managed the Coventry Climax program with Jack and other customers effectively.

The misgivings by some close observers of Repco about Hallam are the enormous over-reach in his engineering design claims generally and for RB620 in particular- at Phil Irving’s expense. Without ventilating that again, see here for my thoughts on the topic; https://primotipo.com/2017/04/21/repco-rb620-inside-story/

McGrath made the decision to give senior executive responsibility for the RBE program to Bob Brown, in part because the Coventry Climax project was run within Brown’s Repco division. It was Brown to whom Hallam reported and who in turn was accountable to the Repco Board. In some ways the more logical choice would have been Dean for all the obvious reasons, whereas Brown was not a racing enthusiast at all, quite the opposite in fact.

It seems to me what McGrath was after was the commercial objectivity Brown would bring to the table- success was far from assured at the outset after all, rather than Dean’s racing knowledge. Dean at the time was Director of another division of Repco. Brown would assess the corporate promotional value and engineering technological rub off of the race program far more objectively than Charlie would as a ‘died in the wool racing enthusiast’ perhaps. Upon reflection it was another astute management choice by McGrath, one of the outstanding Australian industrialists of his era.

I won’t chase the McGrath tangent but see here for the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for Sir Charles McGrath; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mcgrath-sir-charles-gullan-dave-15173

To those key people you can add those around the car in the Longford pitlane- Phil Irving, RB620’s designer, brought to the table by Dean, Brabham- ‘architect and instigator’ of the entire program and its lead driver, Roy Billington, BRO’s Chief Mechanic and Ron Tauranac, designer and constructor of Brabham cars. Lets not forget Denny Hulme as well in the second car.

The cast for 1967 changed a bit with Phil’s departure but for that first year the folks mentioned were both the project foundations and the ‘tip of the spear’ on the Grand Prix and other grids.

 

The BRO 1966 crew- Bob Ilich, Roy Billington, Hugh Absolom, John Muller, Cary Tayor, Denny Hulme, Jack Brabham, Ron Tauranac, John Judd and Phil Kerr. Car is a BT20 620

 

RB620-E2

2.5 litre

BRO

Used by Jack in BT19 in the two 1966 Tasman races at Sandown and Longford

As at July 1968 it was a mock up display engine

Rod ‘4 March 1969 620 3 litre E2 received from Mayne Nickless’

Engine fitted to BT19 when restored

 

1 January 1966 first race for a Repco Brabham Engines V8, South African GP East London. Jack is on pole in car #10 Brabham BT19 620 fitted with engine E3, winner Mike Spence is in the #1 Lotus 33 Climax with Denny’s #11 Brabham BT20/22 Climax FPF completing the front row. Car #12 is John Love’s ex-McLaren 1965 AGP winning Cooper T79 Climax (unattributed)

 

RB620-E3C

3 litre

BRO 1966.

This motor had slightly larger inlet valves, ports and throttle diameters compared with the 2.5 and gave 280 bhp @ 7500 rpm.

It was flown to England after 6 hours testing, fitted to BT19, tested at Goodwood briefly and then transported to South Africa for the non-championship GP at East London on 1 January 1966

BRO is ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’

MRD is ‘Motor Racing Developments Ltd’, a company owned by Jack and Ron Tauranac which built Brabham racing cars.

BRO was one of Jack’s businesses which raced the works cars.

It acquired the cars from MRD, hired drivers, entered races, prepared them, banked the prize money etc- initially it was owned entirely by Jack, and later, from about 1966 after Ron, quite reasonably chucked a wobbly, Tauranac also had an equity interest.

Don Halpin wrote that engines E1 and E2 were built at Richmond.

 

The move from the corner of Burnley and Doonside Streets (81 Burnley Street) Richmond to 87 Mitchell Street Maidstone…

 

Generally speaking moves of business premises tend to be to a location close by- employers more often than not do it that way to keep the team in the boat.

Whilst 14 kilometres is not too far the decision of Repco management to move the ‘sexy bit of Repco’ was a biggie in local terms as the shift was from Melbourne’s inner east of the Yarra to the not-so-inner west, then very much the ‘wrong side of the Yarra’ especially to those east of the river, which was most of the RBE employees at the time.

These days the West is much more gentrified with places like Williamstown, Seddon, Spotswood, Yarraville and Footscray attractive places to live (Williamstown always was top-shelf mind you). But Lordy, in the pre-Westgate Bridge days, which slowly started the transformation of the west, that was shocker of a commute.

For someone like Phil Irving, commuting from Warrandyte, then and now semi-rural Melbourne outer east it was a ‘cut lunch and camel ride’ away. In fact, dealing with that daily drive and Phil’s flexible working hours was a big factor in the melt-down of the relationship between Contractor Irving and Company Man Hallam.

Stories abound of Phil’s nocturnal hours and his raids on the biscuit barrel overnight leaving the cupboard bare.

Tait, ‘All of Phil’s Repco Brabham drawings (he drafted all of RB620, Tait has sighted every drawing made and signed by Phil) and those of our other designers are now preserved in the RMIT University Design Archives’ in Melbourne.’

Wolfe recalls ‘When I joined in late 1965 the project had just arrived at Maidstone. The General Manager was Frank Hallam. In the drawing office, the Chief Engineer was Phil Irving, he was assisted by a young guy named Howard Ring. All the drawings from part number 620-001 (crankshaft) were in that office.

Peter Holinger was the Production Engineer, the Production Superintendent/Factory Manger was Kevin Davies. We also had a Commercial Manager, Stan Johnson who came and went’.

‘Around this time Michael Gasking also transferred from the Richmond Laboratory- he was Chief of Engine Assembly and Testing. Nigel Tait helped him as did Graeme Bartils who was a qualified mechanic helping assemble the engines at Maidstone. All the engines were tested at Richmond until we got to the second stage of our own test house’ recalled Rodway.

Tait ‘Mike Gasking was mostly at Richmond because we didn’t move the Heenan and Froude GB4 dyno until late in 1966 and all of the engine running for RB was on the GB4 until late 1966 by which time the new cells were ready (see snippet later) and the new G49EH H & F dyno was bought.’

On the machine tools as leading hand was David Nash and John Mepstead who was a great all rounder and about five other guys. Even the old capstan lathe on which I first made the RB engine studs for E4 onwards had been set up at Maidstone in late 1965.’

 

Equipe Repco Brabham out the front of the RBE Works at 87 Mitchell Street, Maidstone during the 1967 Tasman rounds. Tow cars are HR Holden Panel Vans as we call such things in Oz! (E Young)

 

Tait remembers the move ‘The plant there, in fact the whole site had been bought by Repco about a year before, it basically housed the old ACL companies (the land and buildings had been acquired by Repco as part of acquiring the businesses themselves).

The one we used for Repco Brabham was the old Glacier factory, on the corner was the Perfect Circle factory. There were still hundreds of bearings stocked there.’ Wolfe remembers ‘I transferred from Replacement Parts (another Repco subsidiary) and when I arrived Kevin Davies took me next door to watch them making piston rings and the girls production line packing them.

‘As I recall, the move over from Richmond to Maidstone took place over 1966 with new machinery coming in, and as a Cadet Engineer my bit was to make shadow boards for the new machines.  I was never officially at Maidstone apart from the shadow board work and helping Mike Gasking with assembly of some of the early engines which he and I then ran back at Richmond’ Nigel’s ever sharp brain recalls.

Amongst all of the parts moved was a stock of Coventry Climax 2.5 and 2.7 FPF components which Mepstead recalls moving in his van over the 1965-1966 Christmas period to Maidstone.

The Climax stock of parts was shifted from the east to the west of the Yarra and lasted all the way to 1970 when Malcolm Preston was still doing ‘mailers’ to get rid of unwanted stock in the formative Redco F5000 era. Amusing amongst Rodway’s collection is the customer list complete with the ‘lousy payers to whom credit was not to be extended’. I shall protect the names of the innocent.

Wolfe recalls there were 12 un-machined Climax blocks (provided by CC in the UK, not cast in Australia as some sources would have it- which were progressively sold when fully machined) as well as a good stock of pistons and rings, Wolfe made Climax main bearing studs on the old Herbert capstan lathe- no Coventry Climax engines were bench tested in Maidstone- that work had all been done in Richmond.

 

Jack in the BT17 Repco 620 4.4 at Oulton Park in 1966, Brabham’s only race in the car (N Tait)

 

RB620-E4

4.3 litre

BRO 1966.

Sent to the UK at short notice and fitted to the Brabham BT17 sportscar, the only Group 7 car MRD ever made- a car acquired by Nigel Tait in mid 2018.

Hallam instructed Irving to build this engine, which had not been scheduled and interrupted the F1 build program, causing ructions internally- in fact the engine was a 3 litre F1 unit, which was pulled down and rebuilt to 4.3 litres in capacity.

Producing circa 350 bhp, the motor had considerable blow-by, which was addressed with a dose of ‘Bon Ami’ washing powder down the inlet trumpets, to bed in the rings.

Irving in his autobiography records that his suggestion of a teaspoon of Bon Ami sprinkled into the air-intake had been interpreted as a teaspoon full into each cylinder! The engine, as a result, ‘had to be dismantled to get rid of the abrasive, which had smoothed up the bores nicely but had enlarged them by about six-thou. The engine was running again by Sunday evening and was duly crated and sent off by air…’ Irving wrote.

It was ironic that Nigel would buy the car whose 620 engine he had worked on in 1966 five decades later albeit then fitted with a 5 litre 740 V8 the second owner acquired with the car when sold by Brabham.

The blow-by was caused by distortion of the dry sleeves which was solved by the adoption of wet sleeves in the 700 and 800 series blocks.

April 1966

Returned to RBE and dismantled as at July 1968. Scrapped

 

(M Gasking)

 

The document above is Mike Gasking’s RB620 reference note to check the timing of the engines before testing it. Gold, isn’t it!

 

RB620-E5A

3 litre

BRO 1966

Second 3 litre engine used by Denny in the French GP

Ongoing development of the 3 litre 620 V8’s yielded 310 bhp @ 7500 rpm and 260 bhp from 6000 to 8000 rpm

E5 had one new block

 

RB620-E6B

3 litre

BRO 1966

E6 rebuilt with 3 new blocks

July 1968 ‘Now in South Africa’- Luki Botha ex- BRO

 

E6 RB620 dyno plots by Nigel Tait

 

RB620-E7A

3 litre

BRO 1966

Dyno tested on 20 and 27 June, 12th (Wade Climax 133 cam) , 14th ,19th (133 cam) and 27th (after second rebuild) July 1966

 

(G Bartils- Wolfe)

 

Given the pages of details on this motor, it appears that it was used as a development engine at RBE at least until the dates recorded above.

E7 rebuilt with 1 new block

Dave Charlton, South Africa ex-BRO

 

(G Bartils- Wolfe)

 

 

Repco Brabham RB620 3 litre (Repco)

 

The RB620 first coughed into life in March 1965 in the Doonside Street, Richmond Engine Lab and was still winning races in Australia into the seventies- it had a nice long life.

In all of the bullshit about who gets credit for this motor, having listened to lots of different people and read all manner of material Brabham is its conceptual designer. His outline to the Repco board was a simple race engine comprising the Olds F85 block, SOHC, two-valve heads and fuel injection.

The detail designer inclusive of ALL of the drawings was Phil Irving, with Brabham ‘keeping an eye over his shoulder’ during those late night sessions in the UK at Phil’s flat in early 1965 with the Repco design team finessing ports, valve sizes and bibs and bobs after Phil was given the flick by Frank Hallam. Or resigned, depending upon the account.

Hallam marshalled the forces of the clever artisans of Maidstone to build it- a considerable contribution in itself.

Developmental issues in use involved various elements and solutions.

The ‘Fordson Major’ tractor oil pump gears were machined from steel after the 1966 Sandown Tasman failure.

The Lucas fuel distributor ‘was originally driven by the portside camshaft at the rear. After the South African disaster (in fact after Sandown) where the belt failed while the engine was winning its first GP Phil moved the distributor into the front of the valley and it was driven by a common shaft with the Bosch ignition distributor…The Lucas petrol injection is referred to as a fuel distributor rather than a ‘metering unit’ in that it does not pump fuel to each injector. The fuel is supplied by a 100 psi (‘fuel bomb’) pump to the fuel distributor which meters the fuel to each injector’ wrote Rodway.

Wolfe ‘We started fitting stronger dry liners after, i think, Monaco as a liner split. Jack sent the engine back to Maidstone and we bored the cracked liner out and found a cavity under the crack. (The liners in the 600 blocks were cast into the aluminium by Olsmobile) From then on we just shrunk the liners in, after boring out the cast in liners we heated the blocks, took the liners out of the dry ice and dropped them in. The 700 and 800 blocks had wet liners.’

 

 

The newspaper advertisement above is a very early one, the car shown is BT19 with ‘E2’ 2.5 fitted whilst in Australia early in 1966. Repco have no race wins to promote just yet, but they would come soon enough.

 

RB620-E8

3 litre

BRO 1966

Assembly on 23 June 1966

July 1968 ‘Now in Switzerland’ – to Guy Ligier (France) ex-BRO then to Silvio Moser?

 

(G Bartils- Wolfe)

See Michael Gasking’s dyno test data sheet below on E8-306 bhp @ 7750 rpm in November 1966- amazing to think Jack won the World Title with a smidge under 300 bhp that year.

 

(Repco Collection)

 

RB620-E9

4.4 litre

Rod ‘Supplied to Bob Jane after rebuild on 3 November 1967’

July 1968 At RBE dismantled. Scrapped

 

RB620-E10

4.4 litre

Bob Jane- fitted to Jane’s Elfin 400 in late 1966- first raced in the 1967 Tasman Rounds, this engine was the first customer motor sold by RBE as against works engines used by Brabham

 

Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 litre, Lakeside Tasman meeting 1967 (W Byers)

 

Bob Jane rebuilt and sold the 400 to Victorian Ken Hastings after Bevan Gibson’s tragic Easter 1969 Bathurst death in the car but sans engine.

M Richardson acquired the engine for a boat

Click here for an article on the Jane 400; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

 

 

Jack Brabham and Commerce…

 

Jack was a tough nut, he was in the business of motor racing, not motor sport, after all.

Repco’s spare parts business was enhanced in that Jack sold cars fitted with engines which in theory at least, were on loan to him as part of his sponsorship arrangements with Repco…

Wolfe ‘We never ever received a going engine back from Jack. Not even the Indy engines. Jack sold anything he could get. In 1967 five Repco Brabham engines started the South African Grand Prix- Jack and Denny were the only ones with our (RBE) engines. The others were Jack’s deals’- that is engines fitted to cars sold by Jack to other drivers.

‘Don’t get me wrong, Repco didn’t worry. I had to write up a (internal) sales docket for each engine sent to the UK but there was no payment made, we were sponsoring BRO. But Jack was a lethal businessman and i don’t blame him…It was in his interests to not be specific about which engine is which (in terms of keeping track of individual engines)

‘…he sent back the remains of BT19 to Australia, all that there was, was a very dilapidated chassis…a very clever restorer called Jim Shepherd did a brilliant job…i don’t know who paid the bill but it wouldn’t have been Jack. Repco purchased the BT19 from Jack but every time i ever talked to him at various Adelaide GP’s and wherever since he kept saying he owned it.’

 

Charles McGrath and ‘Deals on Wheels’ Jack Brabham after their 1966 successes (Repco)

 

Frank Matich picked up the theme in a September 2012 MotorSport interview with Australian journalist Michael Stahl.

‘Matich says his 1964 season was handicapped by the absence of his best Climax engine and the forged rods and pistons he’d had made in the US. Repco was proposing to build Climaxes under licence, Brabham had suggested they borrow Matich’s for development.

He was again leading at the next round, Lakeside (having started from pole at Warwick Farm) when his cobbled-together Climax blew up. “Denny Hulme came over and said, “Frank we’ve got the same bits, I worry we might have the same problems”. I said “What do you mean the same bits?”, he said, “Well I’ve got your pistons and rods”.

“And this was what Jack did a lot. He was f**kin’ ruthless. He was an old villain! He’d look you in the eye and just laugh at you. You’d get the shits with him, but there was no point, he’d just do it to you the next time. That’s how he won”.

‘Earlier this year (2012), Brabham was named one of Australia’s living treasures. Matich doesn’t dispute that for an instant’.

“Well he is a national treasure! Mate, I admire the bloke. Anything I say that’s critical, please don’t take it the wrong way. I’ve been bitten by him, but I just put it down to being a mug. I knew what he was like, because i’d been told by Bruce and others. But we’ve always been friendly. We never had cross words” Frank concluded.

Let it be said that FM was not exactly a ‘shrinking violet’ himself!

Name a World Champion who wasn’t or isn’t a tough nut! Jack could charm the birds from the trees when required but he was a hardened professional who understood what it took to win and his market worth from his earliest pro-Speedway years in the late forties.

Without doubt every dollar invested in BRO by Repco was returned tenfold by Jack and the team.

 

Jack Brabham customer deals? Team Gunston launch prior to the 1967 Rhodesian BP at Bulawayo, Sam Tingle and John Love, both Repco 620 powered. #4 Tingle’s LDS Repco built by Louis Douglas Serrier and #1 Brabham BT11 Repco ‘with Cooper suspension’ (wheels.24.co.za)

 

RBE Dyno House…

The test house, ‘down the back’ of the Mitchell Street site was ‘Designed by the Repco Architect and Ross Kirkham who was the Manager of the Engine Lab (in Richmond) and by the way a brilliant engineer’ wrote Nigel Tait.

‘The concept was that the exhaust from the engine went into a space in the walls which was cleverly attenuated and there was no back pressure or need for silencers.’

‘Ross, no longer with us sadly, was one of the nine in the Automotive Components Ltd buyout in 1986 and for quite some years he was the Manager of the ACL Bearing Company in Launceston (Tasmania)’.

 

RB test house at Maidstone- first stage, engine testing continued at Richmond until the second stage of the building was completed (R Wolfe)

 

Wolfe recalls ‘a tape recording of Mike and Barty testing the ’66 German GP engine..’ (where is that Rod?) ‘the second test house was built a fair bit later and the hydraulic dyno added’.

The conditions in Doonside Street Engine Lab in Richmond were altogether more Dickensian with Rod’s favourite photo the one below of Mike Gasking on the dyno and Nigel Tait manning the throttle with his wedding tackle rather too close to the action for me- neither protected by a safety wall.

The Dyno was ‘actually in a temporary tin shed 100 metres down Doonside Street with no acoustic sound absorbing on walls or roof. And the tube from the exhausts went straight out into the open air. The noise was so great that Vickers Ruwolt who had their factory across the road said the cracks in their wall was caused by us! Quite likely’.

‘The front entrance to our building was known internally as “Lavatory Lane” since that’s where they were’ recalled Tait. Wolfe’s response- ‘World Championship Winning F1 engine built in a Tin shed on Lavatory Lane, Melbourne, Australia’…

 

(Repco)

 

Mike Gasking was almost the Repco ‘in house model’, he is in so many of the PR shots in part because it was his role to assemble and test the engines but no doubt also due to his youthful good looks!

Gasking recalls Ron MacLaine and Peter Telford from Repco Head Office at 618 St Kilda Road as the pair who contracted David Holmes as the official Repco photographer across the group.

‘We were not very good at publicity with many of the dyno shots done at very short notice, so i always had to dress well’.

 

(Repco)

 

‘The noise in the dyno room was unbelievable and frightened most everybody. You can see with the 4.2 Indy engine percolating very well (at Maidstone above), everybody had left the room except the photographer and me. Then i would work the engine as you can see, my photo says it was around 7000 rpm. I have the Db reading somewhere.’

‘To think we ran fifth at Indy (Revson in 1969) was fantastic. Norman Wilson and Don Halpin were there, i only did the dyno work and final assembly- notice no guards or other protection.

I can’t recall ever an angine failure on the Dyno. We ran the 2.5 and 3 litre in excess of 9000 rpm or a bit more but did not necessarily tell Jack or Denny about this!’ quipped Michael.

Australian engine builder/race engineer/driver mentor and allround guru Peter Molloy recalls it as ‘spooky with the controls in the room, years back i was in THE room, with Mike doing (John) Harvey’s 2.5 and was glad to get out’.

‘I have seen a flywheel ring gear split and spear the wall separating Merv’s (Waggott) office from the Dyno Room at Waggott Engineering (in Greenacre, Sydney). It had the effect of wanting to hitch your pants up!’

 

1967

 

Denny, BT24 ‘740’ Mosport 1967

 

The ‘sheer economy’ of Ron’s 1967 BT24’s always blows me away.

One of my favourite GP cars had just enough of everything- power, torque, chuck-ability and forgiving handling, it was as aerodynamically efficient as anything out there at the time and more reliable than other machines up front.

The only thing it didn’t have much of was weight…Oh, it didn’t use much fuel either.

 

RB640-E11C

2.5 litre

David McKay- fitted to McKay’s Scuderia Veloce ex-works Jack Brabham 1967 Tasman car BT23A raced by Greg Cusack, Phil West and others

Rod ‘8 November 1967 E11B sent out for display (no record of return)’

Rod ‘3 January build up’ and 9 January 1968 E11C dyno 265 bhp’

Rebuilt with 700 Series block, described as 740 in July 1968

2.5 litre 640 Series V8’s gave around 277 bhp and were 6 Kg lighter than the preceding 620 2.5

Rod’s diary notes delivery, after a rebuild, to SV on 16 June 1969

I Harvey for a boat- ex-McKay

The engine has turned full circle- fitted to the BT23A owned by the National Automotive Museum as an RB740 E11C 2.5 litre

 

RB640-E12

2.5 litre

July 1968 At RBE dismantled. Scrapped

RBE/BRO had a full-on attack on the 1967 Tasman- two cars with Jack racing BT23A and Denny a BT22. Am guessing this was one of the float of engines used that summer

Rebuilt with 700 Series block, described as 740 in July 1968

 

One of the 1967 Tasman ‘640’ 2.5 Brabham Repco’s in the Levin paddock (M Fistonic)

 

 

 

 

 

Denny not best pleased with his Brabham BT22 ‘640’ 2.5 at Wigram in 1967 (Classic Auto News)

 

RB640-E13

2.5 litre

The Repco lists I have do not mention it but this engine was first fitted to the RC Phillips owned Brabham F2 BT14 raced by John Harvey in 1967.

The car, prepared by Peter Molloy when sorted was quick, inclusive of a ‘Diamond Trophy’ win at Oran Park later in the year.

When Spencer Martin retired from racing, having won two Gold Stars in 1966 and 1967 Jane hired Harvey to replace him- and acquired the BT14 with this engine.

For whatever reason, Jane’s team removed the motor and fitted it to Jane’s Brabham BT11A- rather than race the BT14 which had its teething problems behind it.

 

The BT14 was sold.

John Harvey raced BT11A in the 1968 Australian Tasman rounds.

E13 was then fitted to Jane’s ex-Brabham 1968 Tasman car – the Brabham BT23E which was raced by Harvey from 1968-1970.

Rod ‘3 January On dyno 259 bhp’

Rod ‘9 January 1968 E13B delivered to Bob Jane’

Rebuilt with 700 Series block, described as 740 in July 1968

To Peter Simms and fitted to BT23A in the modern era. Is now the spare engine of BT23A in the hands of the National Automotive Museum as RB740 E13B 2.5 litre (with E11C fitted to the car)

For the sake of completeness BT23E was also fitted with RB830 V8’s later in its life- the two 830’s were ex-Brabham BT31 1969 Tasman car (Sandown Tasman and Bathurst Gold Star). Rodway Wolfe recalls being instructed to deliver/allow the collection of these engines by Bob Jane Racing free of charge

 

RB40-E14

2.5 litre

July 1968 ‘Never completed’- described as 740- rebuilt or built again with 700 Series block

 

RB640-E15B

2.5 litre

July 1968 ‘Block only- at RBE’- described as 740

Rod 4 February 1969 ‘E15 returned for overhaul from Geoghegan’

17 June 1969 ‘started block changeover’- Wolfe diary

Used by John McCormack in his Elfin 600C- replacing the ex-Brabham BT4 Coventry Climax FPF first fitted to that chassis, in 1970

Then to Bob Wright for his Tasma (nee-Wren) Repco in Tasmania

 

RB640-E16

2.5 litre

Fitted to Leo Geoghegan’s ex-works Clark Lotus 39 Coventry Climax FPF 1966 Tasman car

Described as 740 in July 1968

Engine adapted beautifully into this chassis by John Sheppard and Bob Britton creating one of the prettiest of all sixties open-wheelers. An iconic car in Australia- and still here restored, sadly in my view, in Coventry Climax form

For the sake of completeness the Lotus 39 was also fitted with RB730- Preston says E16 was fitted with 30 Series heads- so at that stage is a 730

Later the 39 was fitted with an RB830 V8 in 1969/1970- perhaps this engine with 800 block?

Rod ‘Leo Geoghegan’s engine returned to the factory after bearing failure on 6 January 1969’. ‘8 January Geoghegan engine E16C on dyno’

Mark Beasy advises he has E16 640 Series- ‘with a hole in it! Would like to get the rest of the castings and turn it into a coffee table one day’ !

E16 730 was fitted to the Rennmax BMW sportscar circa 1971. Doug McArthur acquired the engine from Leo Geoghegan after Leo sold the Lotus 39- the Rennmax Repco is still fitted with the engine all these years later, I think its 3 litres in capacity now and owned in 2019 by Jay Bondini in Melbourne.

Click here for a feature article about the Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax/Repco;

https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

 

Repco Brabham RB740 (Repco)

 

Norman Wilson led the team which designed ‘740’, a masterful extension of the original 620 but with a bespoke block cast by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.

It was designed in such a way that the 20 Series heads, front case etc bolted to the new block thereby allowing the upgrade of the original motor cost-effectively.

Use of the ’40 Series’ exhaust between the Vee design was dictated by Tauranac or Tauranac and Brabham rather than the ’30 Series’ which, whilst designed at the time, came later in a production sense when twinned with 700 or 800 block to create the ultimate Tasman 2.5 engines.

‘The redline was 8200 rpm or as Jack said 8800 at a pinch!’ quipped BT24 owner Brian Wilson.

 

Cary Taylor, Bob Ilich, John Muller and Roy Billington in 1967 (Repco)

 

Brian Wilson ‘The car above is Brabham BT24-1 (a car he owned and raced for some years) A more common sight at GP’s was the cam-covers off (than the view above).  Wear on the cams was an issue with the 740 engines. Peter Molloy fixed it by cutting microscopic holes in the lower section of the cam lobes’.

Rod Wolfe ‘It was not a problem on the 3 litre 40 Series (740), may have been on the 2.5 engines, but not enough for us to worry about it. Denny won in 1967 with our standard 740 Series. On the quad-cam (860) it sure was, it’s what destroyed our chances in 1968.’

‘Mike Costin’s ran cast Iron cams with steel buckets in the Ford Cosworth FVA after they had problems. We ran steel cams and steel buckets in our FVA (860) engines. I reckon that’s why we had collapsed cam buckets. Remember Phil (Irving) specified cast iron cams in our early engines’.

We will come back to the problems with 860 a little further on in this article.

 

RB740-E17

3 litre

BRO 1967

740 Series 3 litre engines developed around 350 bhp @ 8400 rpm

 

RB740-E18

3 litre

BRO 1967

Nigel Tait advises Alan Hamilton’s Tiga hillclimber has E18-740 fitted to it. Before that the motor was fitted to Roger Harrison’s Elfin 600C hillclimb car- the Tiga succeeded it.

Nigel has a spare block which is E18A- ‘My E18A has had a rod through the side but is welded up and renumbered’.

 

RB740-E19

3 litre

BRO 1967

Brian Wilson communicated that ‘The 740 engine in BT24-1 was E19. This engine was in the car when Basil van Rooyen got it from Jack in South Africa. Still in it when we had it. Amazing. The engine in BT24-1 now has no number. We built it up from scratch here as a spare.’

‘Jochen apparently drove the spare BT24 (BT24-3) a few times early in 1968 (he did, in South Africa and Monaco- whilst Jack assessed the 860 as ‘race ready’ and Dan Gurney raced it at Zandvoort as a third BRO entry) It actually finished some races unlike the RB860 engine BT26’s. The spare BT24 is the car which ended up in Switzerland looking a bit like a Lotus 49 and with a DFV. It was being restored in that form I last heard’.

 

(N Tait)

 

RB740-E? (BR 740/127E RAC)

Nigel Tait recently acquired Brabham BT17, ‘the engine number is ‘BR 740/127E RAC’, clearly not stamped by us at Repco.

Rod Wolfe observed ‘Is it possible that it had to be officially stamped for a particular race event, eg Healey ran a 740 3 litre in the Le Mans 24 Hour. In the US the Indy car guys had some strict rules.

When Jack arrived at Indy (in 1968) we got an urgent request for money to be paid before we could run ‘Repco’ on the side of the car. Also we had the latest Magnaflux crack-tester in Maidstone but for Indy all the engine internals had to have certificates from a registered aircraft crack-tester company…’

 

RB740-E20

3 litre

BRO 1967

 

RB620-E21

July 1968 ‘At RBE dismantled’.

Scrapped – block South Africa

 

RB620-E22

4.4 litre

In production as at 30 June 1967 for Frank Matich who raced two Matich SR3 sportscars in most of the 1967 Can-Am Championship.

He then raced one of the cars (having sold another in the US) back in Australia giving Chris Amon a comprehensive belting in the ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 350 Can-Am in the sportscar supporting events which were part of the Australian 1968 Tasman rounds.

There are plenty of details about their tussles that summer in this feature on the Ferrari P4/350 Can-Am;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

 

Matich, Matich SR3 Repco 620/720 4.4 at Calder, late 1968 (unattributed)

 

This engine was sold by Matich to Bob Jane.

Janey found a great home for it in creating one of Australia’s most iconic sports-sedans, the John Sheppard built Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco 620 4.4, the engine bay of which is shown above.

Sheppo is well advanced with a recreation of this car, it will be a joy to behold. Elfin Historic Centre owner Bill Hemming has the Elfin 400- it will be intriguing to know the engine number of Bill’s engine and the numbers of John’s ‘cache’ of Repco V8’s!

 

John Harvey driven, Bob Jane owned Holden Torana GTR-XU1 Repco 620 4.4 at Wanneroo Park in 1971. John Sheppard’s attention to preparation detail in all of his cars ‘concours’ (R Hagarty)

Article here on Australian Sports Sedans including some information on the Sheppard/Jane Torana Repco;

https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

 

RB740’SSS’-E23

3 litre

‘SSS’- Short Stroke Special experimental lightweight, magnesium 700 block. Aluminium liners, magnesium pistons, light 2.5 litre crankshaft and 5 litre head- 1.9 inch inlet and 1.6 inch exhaust valves

Preston writes ‘A 3 litre 740 Series engine E23 was rebuilt with a magnesium 800 series cylinder block and later scrapped’

 

RB620-E24

3 litre

Scrapped

 

RB720-E25

5 litre

Rod ‘2 January 1968 completed and despatched’ in preparation for the Tasman Series sportscar support races

To Bob Jane ex-Don O’Sullivan

 

RB730-E26 X ‘Experimental’

5 litre

Rod ’22 November 1967 Sent for Repco advertising in Adelaide’

Later built as 740 for Bob Jane and fitted to the McLaren M6B sporty

 

RB740-E27 X

5 litre

Sold to A Griffiths for a hillclimb car, later to John Cussins

 

RB840-E28 X

3 litre / 5 litre ? Aluminium block

‘Mock up parts used in E28’ Don Halpin

 

(M Bisset)

 

Repco and Innovation- The Diagonal Port 850 Series Engine Program…

 

So far I’ve not done features on the experimental 50 Series engine or the definitive, problematic 1968 quad-cam, gear driven, thirty-two valve Repco Brabham RB860 3 litre F1 engine- Repco’s DFV challenger if you will.

So we need to go into a bit of detail for the purposes of this engine-number exercise but not too much as I will come to each engine in due course in feature pieces.

Repco, Brabham and Tauranac read the play well for 1967, the mainly all new 740 did the job but only because the Ford Cosworth DFV- which won upon its debut at Zandvoort, was unreliable in its first year- without doubt the Lotus 49 Ford was the fastest car that year, driven as it was by Messrs Clark and Hill.

For 1968 ‘they all’ as far as I can see agreed they needed a more powerful engine given the number of DFV’s in circulation that year- Team Lotus, McLaren, Matra International and Rob Walker had the motors- the DFV won all but the French GP as it transpired, Ickx took that one in a Ferrari 312.

Frank Hallam, to his credit, pursued the innovative diagonal port path then also being blazed by BMW with their Apfelbeck 1.6 litre F2 engines.

Nigel Tait ‘The idea of the diagonal port quad cam engine is to obtain maximum airflow, hence power. With the inlet valves placed diagonally rather than side by side their theoretical diameter is greatest. But the opportunity for siamesing the ports is lost so this means there have to be inlets and exhausts on each side of the cylinder banks. Thus 16 inlets (and injectors) and 16 exhausts in total.’ See the photographs which illustrate the point.

Depending upon which account you believe the engine either gave about 400 bhp without development or not that much after a lot of development- circa 360 bhp.

The really important aspect here is the time taken to develop the 850, before, eventually the engine was put to one side.

 

RB850-E30

3 litre Radial- four valve engine bench tested but never installed in a car

360 bhp @ 7600 rpm with twin plugs and dual ignition to improve combustion

Rod ‘8 November 1967 Had the 750 cylinder heads vacuum impregnated (to fix porosity)

Rod ’13 January 1968 E30 start-up 365 bhp @ 9200 rpm’

Now owned by Nigel Tait

When I composed the photograph below at ‘Shifting Gear’ in 2015 I was juxtaposing the conservative BT19 and in particular its 620 engine with the ‘radical or edgy’ nature of 850.

I love the fact that Repco- Frank Hallam had a crack at gaining the ‘unfair advantage’ with this approach having two World Titles under their belts. His error of judgement, given that time was rapidly ticking, was to persevere with it long after his Chief Engineer, and others suggested it was time to move on.

Lets come to Chief Engineer Norman Wilson’s perspective in a moment.

 

(M Bisset)

 

In that lost time context Rod Wolfe’s 22 November 1967 diary note ‘Forwarded 850 Series mock-up to BRO’ is really interesting.

I mean in that if the shit had not already started to hit the fan in terms of the degree of difficulty Tauranac was going to have trying to adapt the engine with all of its induction and exhaust plumbing challenges to his spaceframe chassis for 1968- it well and truly would have when the engine mock up arrived at MRD.

With the notoriously conservative Tauranac and Brabham- very successfully so I might add, vehemently opposed to the 850, Hallam finally gave Norman Wilson and his team their head in developing the 860 motor.

But it was all too late.

Using the Tasman series in whole or part as a developmental exercise was a factor in the success of 620 and 740. Jack did only a limited 1968 Tasman campaign in a 740 2.5 engined Brabham BT23E with the 2.5 830 Series making its race debut in the final Tasman round at Sandown. 860 was not raced as it was not ready and not built in 2.5 litres in any event- there was not the time to do so.

RB860 is much maligned but should not be- the Rindt/Brabham BT26 860 combination were very fast in 1968 when the engine held together, which was not often and never for too long.

Lets not forget Jochen put the circa 400 bhp BT24 860 on pole at Rouen and Mosport- and started from grid two at Zandvoort and grid three at the Nürburgring- so the thing was not a slug, but reliability was woeful.

All of this was capable of being made good, in fact the motors fundamental problem was similar to that experienced by the DFV in 1967.

Norman Wilson ‘We discussed and explored a radial valve idea (for 1968) but we ended up using a combination of new ideas and old. What we finished with was the lower 800 Series blocks with twin overhead camshafts, four valves to the cylinder heads but without the radial valve idea’.

‘The radial valve thing didn’t work. Originally it was made so the gas went in and rotated. But this was really a blind spot Frank had. The gas went in and the heavier fractions of the gas got centrifuged to the outside’.

‘When you are lighting a fire in the combustion chamber you light the richest portion of the mixture first because that is the bit that will burn better faster. And with the spark plug in the centre we were igniting a very lean mixture. The problem was with the best engine we produced we had a 56 degrees ignition advance and so the piston is only half way up the cylinder at ignition. The pressure before it reaches top dead centre is just incredible and that’s negative work’.

‘Frank really wanted to do it, was absolutely desperate to do it. I think this is probably where the disagreements with Jack started with Frank. Frank was pushing this thing, it was stretching our resources more then it should have’.

‘I must be quite honest. I knew this would happen but I just never thought it would be as bad as it was. So we are into hindsight again. At the time you are flat out trying to get the 1968 engine built’.

‘I cobbled up some cylinder heads (the 50 Series) and went up to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (in Fishermans Bend) to get them cast. We put two plugs in different positions away from the centre, but there were virtually no water spaces because of the complexity of the porting.’

‘We did what we could as a cobble up to try to get some dyno figures and see if we could ignite the mixture on the outside, the rich part, and get the thing to work. But it was quite obvious after talking to Jack about it that if we did get the thing to work it was pointless because Ron wouldn’t use it anyway (because of the installation difficulties in the chassis). I think this was the first sort of real breakdown between Frank and Jack.’

The 50 Series heads were never used in a car ‘In fact the engine (850 prototype) would have only done probably 15 – 20 dynamometer hours’ concluded Norman Wilson.

However, at the end of the unsuccessful 1968 season a confluence of events resulted in Repco Brabham’s withdrawal from F1. These were Brabham’s need for a competitive engine in 1969 with the DFV his preference, Repco Ltd having a new Managing Director when Charles McGrath stepped down in 1967 (he remained as part-time Chairman until 1980) and the fact that the company had largely achieved its brand building globally via the most cost effective three year raid on the World F1 Championship ever staged.

And all of this from an outfit that had not built an engine from scratch of any sort, let alone a race engine before 1965.

But lets for now leave the radial-valve 850, short block 2.5 litre 830 and 3 litre 860 and the 700 Series ‘long block’ Big Muvva 4.2, 4.8 and 5 litre 760 engines for the feature article they all deserve.

Back to the count, and the 860 engine shortly…

 

RB840- E31

2.5 litre

Bob Jane

 

RB840- E32

2.5 litre

Rod ’13 January 1968 magnesium block engine 264 bhp’ (Tasman engine)

Scrapped

 

Jochen Rindt in. Brabham BT24-3 at Monaco in 1968, perhaps fitted with E37 740?

 

RB740-E37

3 litre

BRO 1968

Rod ’11 April 1967 E37 3 litre 740 sent to BRO 330 bhp’

At the end of the 1967 season Jack and Denny’s BT24’s were sold with engines. Chassis BT24-3 was raced, as written earlier, by Jochen Rindt and once by Dan Gurney in earlier 1968- perhaps this was the engine fitted to that chassis?

 

(Repco)

 

The Engine assembly area at Maidstone…

Rod Wolfe ‘From left to right- Michael Gasking, Don Halpin, Michael Clement aka ‘Rivella’ a Swiss ‘who didn’t know a word of English’, Graeme Bartils and John Mepstead.

Tait ‘That’s an interesting photo. The quad cam engines shown are almost certainly 4.2 Indy engines because they appear to be 700 Series blocks (as against the 3 litre F1 jobbies which used the short 800 Series block). Also they have Repco-Brabham cam covers- the 4.8 litre and 5 litre engine for Frank Matich (fitted to the SR4) had “Repco” only. One of these 4.2 litre engines is my spare for the Matich SR4. In the same photo is a 2.5 litre or 3 litre 40 Series engine with its central exhausts’.

In looking at these Maidstone factory photos its interesting to see the way RBE geared up to produce the engines in commercial quantities with reliable spare parts back-up.

That is, spares were available and when ordered would fit.

This is in no small part due to Frank Hallam’s well documented by him, and agreed by others, process of both using his Capex budget to buy modern machinery and his maintenance budgets to properly look after and update older equipment.

As a consequence engines of a particular type were the same rather than bespoke- in the latter case requiring a lot of hand fettling to assemble and run. I have in mind the problems Dan Gurney had with the Weslake V12’s in writing this sentence. Cosworth Engineering of course geared up with modern machinery to build an enormous number of production racing engines.

 

(Repco)

 

The engine mill shown above is perhaps the first such tape- controlled mill in the country.

Rod Wolfe recalls that ‘When we first set it up Peter Holinger (Production Engineer) made a tape for the reader- the thing that looks like a fridge on the right of the machine. He set the (mill) table up and started up the machine. With a loud hydraulic roar the table moved, north, south and west and then east and with a loud grunt everything stopped and silence.’

‘A big blue light came on the control panel. Me being my usual kid from the bush, I asked Pete what the blue light meant? In typical very dry Peter Holinger style he said “It means it didn’t bloody well understand what I asked it to do!” All the boys were standing around watching and old Phil Irving wandered up and said “Well its done its first job successfully, it has brought all production in the shop to a complete standstill!” They were wonderful days’.

Nigel Tait points out that ‘In the background against the wall are three crankshaft making machines which for some odd reason we bought from the BMC (Zetland) plant in Sydney. I doubt they were ever used’. Rodway ‘You are right Nigel, I never saw one go at all. They were set up with all the tools and everything for the BMC crankshafts, but I am not sure which models. I think Frank Hallam did have intentions of using them but the budget reductions later brought it to a halt. Bill Santuccione worked on getting them going for a time so he would know their story’.

 

(Repco)

 

Geoff Walker, above, around 1968/9 milling a quad-cam cylinder head. It could have been for an 860 engine of 3 litres or 760 of 4.2, 4.8 or 5 litres. Geoff is recalled as a very good programmer of the NC (numerically controlled) equipment and came from one of the machine tool companies.

 

1968

 

RB860-E33

3 litre

BRO 1968

 

RB740- E38

3 litre

Bob Jane (makes no sense- the capacity I mean for Tasman racing)

 

RB740- E39

3 litre

Block only- South Africa

 

RB860-E40

3 litre

Dismantled

Rebuilt as 2.5 litre 830 for Bib Stillwell, ex-Brabham BT31, later Ian Ross and fitted to his Elfin 600C in the modern era

 

RB860- E42

3 litre BRO 1968

Fitted to Peter Simms BT26 in the modern era

 

(A Lewis)

 

RB860- E43

3 litre

Scrapped

In recent times built by the late Don Halpin into a 2.5 litre Tasman engine for the Will Marshall owned Brabham BT31 and most recently fitted into the Aaron Lewis restored ex-Brabham/Jane/Harvey Brabham BT23E

 

RB860- E44

3 litre

Not completed?

 

RB860- E45

3 litre

REDCO display mag block

 

The 700 and 800 Series ‘conventional’ four-valvers…

 

Note that the short 800 Series block engines were of either 2.5 litres ‘830 Series’ SOHC parallel two valve, crossflow type or 3 litre ‘860 Series’ DOHC four-valve crossflow type.

The large capacity four valve engines were all ‘760 Series’ of 4.2 ‘Indy’ and 4.8 and 5 litre ‘Matich SR4’ type

 

 

(B Watson)

Jack Brabham, sprouting wings- Brabham and Ferrari led that charge in F1, at Oulton Park contesting the International Gold Cup in August 1968.

He started the race one second adrift of Graham Hill on pole and DNF’d with an oil leak- Jochen lasted 8 laps less with a similar ailment. Stewart won in a Matra MS10 Ford in a year of dominance for Cosworth.

The background to the F1 860 V8 for 1968 we covered in the context of the failed radial valve 850 experiments.

As outlined, the net effect of persevering with 850 for too long was an under-developed 860 for 1968.

The 3 litre Repco Brabham 860 Series V8 was almost as nicely packaged as the ‘industry standard DFV’ albeit a bit heavier and was not built to be used as a stressed member of the car as the DFV was specified to be by Colin Chapman to Keith Duckworth.

RBE Chief Engineer Norman Wilson ‘The Cosworth DFV was different to the Repco-Brabham 860. The Cosworth engine was the first engine to be designed as a stressed member (in fact I think Vittorio Jano’s 1954 Lancia D50 may have that honour). The design philosophy of the crankcase and oil scavenging were all totally different. The 860 was a heavier but I think stronger engine, while the Cosworth was running sort of 9000 rpm we should have been looking to run 10000.’

A 400 bhp, reliable Brabham BT26A RB860 was a winning chassis in 1969 as indeed, twice, the BT26A Ford DFV was.

There were plenty of 860 engine failures during 1968, the fundamental problem was similar to that experienced with the DFV in 1967- torsional vibration of the valve gear which ‘…was wrecking the cam followers. And the solution to the problem was fairly simple. All we had to do was modify the cam drive like the Ford DFV engine and we could have fixed it.’ said Wilson interviewed in Simon Pinder’s Frank Hallam biography.

 

(Sutton)

 

Wilson ‘What happens is that at certain speeds the front of the crankshaft will tend to go a little bit like a tuning fork and as it rotates the front of the crankshaft oscillates back and forth and the oscillation is transferred up through the timing gears. It was making two of the camshafts do the same thing. So when the cam lobes were going around they were ruining the cam followers. The Cosworth engine had a little spring gizmo in the first timing gear to absorb this so it is not transmitted through the whole system.’

‘And Frank realised we needed something like this (after a discussion between Cosworth’s Mike Costin and Norman Wilson) and we were working at doing that when Charlie Dean arrived on the scene and said he thought it was a lubrication problem. That was the cause of a fair bit of argument between Charlie and i.’

‘The engine could have been as good as the Cosworth, there is no problem about that. It was a tiny bit heavier than the Cosworth but that really wasn’t the problem because we could have put the thing on a diet and saved some weight. The first thing we could have done is changed aluminium components to magnesium, so there was room for weight saving’.

Wilson ‘Really we should have fixed the camshaft drive, got rid of the rest of the projects and just gone for it’, where ‘gone for it’ means just concentrate on F1 not do F1, Tasman, Indy, Special Projects and customer engines…

Rodway picks up ‘the rest of the projects, ‘…I agree with Norm’s claims about other projects. We had one of our best engineers working on the crankshaft lathes from BMC. We were designing and building the Pontiac (303 cid race engine) for GM. We also machined a batch of Volvo cylinder heads and spent many hours dyno and car testing. Let alone machining Frank’s Austin 1800 cylinder block and fitting a Derrington head and Weber carbies…’

Whatever the commercial imperatives, all of the above impinged on the limited resources the team had for core programs in 1968- F1, Indy and customer needs globally.

 

Repco RB760 4.2 litre ‘Indy’ V8 (Repco)

 

Wolfe of the engine above ‘Possibly a 4.2 Indy engine, one of 3. It has the later sump with the scavenge pump fore and aft’. Tait ‘Its quite possibly the one used by Jack. Some years ago he told me that one of the two engines he had disappeared after being lent to Goodyear in the US’.

The one that’s in my SR4 at present seems to have been one of the first, if not the very first 4.2 quad cam. Its throttle slide upper cover has been milled from solid aluminium as opposed to later ones which were of cast magnesium. I came by this engine with help from Aaron Lewis who knew that Les Wright had removed it from his Brabham Buick in order to fit its Buick based engine- the engine number panel is blank. I have no idea how the Repco engine ended up in the Brabham Buick. The Matich SR4 didn’t ever race with a 4.2, though that’s all I had until I built up a 5 litre…’

Rodway Wolfe in relation to the V8 missing in the ‘States ‘The story I got was that the engine was being used by the Gulf Oil Company for research! I did try a few avenues a few years ago and drew a blank. As far as I recall…E35, E36 and E37 were the 4.2 Indy engines. I don’t recall what the 2.8 was. I still have the intake manifold for the disbanded 2.8’.

 

(I Lees)

 

Ian Lees fettling Jochen’s BT25-1 at Indy in 1968.

Tauranac’s BT25 was famously Brabham’s first monocoque chassis, interestingly, despite the BT25 and F1 BT26 coming together at MRD at about the same time Tauranac chose a tried and true spaceframe for his new F1 design- albeit with the use of sheet aluminium riveted and glued to the frame to add rigidity.

It does make you wonder why he didn’t do a variant of the Indy chassis for F1 in 1969- perhaps unwanted weight is the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RB760-E35

4.2 litre

BRO Indy campaign in 1968/9

Fitted to Brabham BT25 chassis- engine despatched from Maidstone to Indianapolis at 1.30 pm on 28 May 1969, together with a very comprehensive inventory of spare parts running to 5 typed foolscap pages, inclusive of a 700 Series block.

Rod 29 February 1969, ‘Ordered new gear-cases for Indy engines to be cast in aluminium due to cracking’

Rod’s diary notes the departure of Norman Wilson and Don Halpin to Indy on 13 May 1969, and E35 sent to the US on 6 May 1969

One of the BT25’s, with 4.2 litre ‘760’ in situ at MRD in early 1978 (P Blood)

 

The photos are of the BT25’s being built at the MRD  works, at Byfleet, Surrey beside the canal. Many readers will be wistful at this view because quite a few of you did a stint working in this factory in either the Brabham or Ralt era.

 

RB760-E34

4.2 litre BRO Indy campaign in 1968/9

Fitted to Brabham BT25 chassis

Rod Wolfe’s diary records that on Thursday 11 April E34 4.2 litre ‘off dyno’ so it is safe to assume the car with engine fitted at MRD is the chassis raced by Jochen in 1968, fitted with engine E34, given the other engine, E35 did not leave Melbourne until 28 May 1968.

 

Three BT25 chassis being built at MRD in 1968 (P Blood)

 

‘The photos are of the two BT25’s being built early in 1968. It’s probably the third tub behind. It was not used until revised into the BT32 Offy-turbo Jack raced in 1970’ wrote Aaron Lewis who restored one of the BT25’s a couple of years ago, and fitted with engine E34- some of you may have seen David Brabham race the car in a tribute to Jack at Goodwood.

Lewis ‘I found my car hanging upside down from the roof of Bill Simpson’s North Carolina shop’.

 

RB760-E36

4.2 litre

Scrapped

Now owned by Nigel Tait- one of the engines fitted to his Matich SR4

BRO Indy campaign in 1968/9

In 1968 BRO entered one car for Jochen Rindt, he qualified sixteenth of thirty-three cars and was out after 5 laps with a holed piston, the race was won by Bobby Unser in an Eagle Offy.

Rod Wolfe’s theory in response to my question as to why the engine went kaboomba is as follows; ‘ No-one ever came up with an answer! Personally my theory is as follows. But I only hold an A-Grade Mechanic ticket so you might need greater brains than mine! The 4.2 Indy engines ran the later type sump with two scavenge pumps (one each end) the original Irving system used one scavenge pump at the front with an inertia valve in the sump.

Under acceleration the valve moved backward and opened a gallery at the sump rear and under braking the oil all moved forward and a gallery opened in the front. The 4.2 Indy engine, as said above, had a pump at both ends and was pumping oil mist and oil and air continually.

Jack had problems with this sump system with the gaskets being sucked into the sump. He cured this by fitting an extra screw between each original 5/16 inch stud. As with lots of engines the RB V8 uses oil spray under the piston for lubrication and cooling the piston crown. My own thoughts have always been that the combination of nitro-methane (fuel) and “perhaps” a diminished oil spray internally made that little difference and caused the detonation. All engines have a difference in cylinder temperature dependent upon coolant flow or their location in the block. I won’t bore you any more but the picture shows (below) it ran very hot’.

 

(R Wolfe)

Speaking of pistons, Nigel Tait chips in ‘Incidentally you may recall that our pistons were made from castings made at Richmond (Repco) by Jim Hawker. I understand that when Jack appeared at Indy with the 4.2 the scrutineers asked for the Certificate of Forging and they couldn’t believe the pistons came from castings!’

‘Jim Hawker was our Foundry Manager at Richmond. I’m pretty sure he accompanied Phil Irving as ‘tail end charlie’ on the first Repco Reliability Trial in the Chamberlain tractor. He was originally at Rolloy when it was owned by the Chamberlain family. He also made a V8 Peugeot from two 403 cylinder blocks. About as bizarre as the diesel Holden engine made by the delightful Ruggero Giannini but that another story!’ Nigel concluded.

I’ll avoid the Jim Hawker tangent other than to say his role at Chamberlain is covered in this article;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/24/chamberlain-8-by-john-medley-and-mark-bisset/

The soundness and competitiveness of the 860/760 design was proved by Peter Revson’s performances with it in 1969.

He started the 500 from slot 33 and finished fifth and was stiff not to win the Rookie of The Year title- Mark Donohue started from position 4 and finished seventh and bagged the rookie award.

Doug Nye wrote that Peter’s Brabham Repco Indy result ‘effectively began the elevation of Revvie’s career from self-funded dilettante privateer into a genuine front-line professional racing driver.’

Later in the season Peter drove his BT25 760 4.2 to a win in the Indy 200 GP at the Indy Racing Park road course on 27 July.

This event was run over two 100 mile heats, Peter won heat 2 from Q3 ahead of Mario Andretti, George Follmer and Al Unser and was third behind Dan Gurney and Al Unser in Eagle Ford and Lola Ford respectively in the other heat- winning the event overall.

The point to be taken from both the Indy 500 fifth place finish, and the Indy 200 win is that the 4.2 760 engine seemed to have overcome the 860 ‘gremlins’ from the year before albeit without fitting the anti-torsional vibration spring ‘gizmo’ Norman Wilson wrote of earlier.

I wonder if for whatever reason the torsional vibration of the valve-gear was in part a function of the different blocks- the tall 700 and short 800? That is, the tall 700 didn’t have it whereas the short 800 did? The maximum quoted revs of both engines were the same- 8500 rpm for the 3 litre 860 and 4.2 litre 760.

The 760 4.8 litre and 5 litre V8’s fitted to Frank Matich’s Matich SR4 also did not have the valve-gear problem. The Matich example is not as good a test of the engine design’s endurance as the Indy successes in that the Australian Sportscar Championship rounds were much shorter and the competition nowhere near of the same depth- in essence FM was not pushing the SR4 as hard as Revson was his Brabham BT25. John Mepstead, who looked after FM’s 760 engines in 1969 and into 1970 can give us a perspective on this.

Its an intriguing question, keen to hear theories from you engineering types.

 

840 2.8 turbo inlet manifold from Rodway’s Repco Collection

 

RB840-E?

2.8 litre turbo-charged BRO Indy campaign 1968

Rod ‘800 block for 2.8 litre started’ 17 June 1969

This is a mystery engine in terms of its number. There is no doubt it was built and tested but none of the lists I have access to discloses its number.

Norman Wilson ‘Ron Tauranac wanted it. Ron felt we could have won with a turbo engine. In 1968 I had visited AiResearch and another turbocharger maker in Chicago. The engine used the 40 Series heads and we got some pretty good power out of it. We had a carburettor Jack supplied from BRM which was probably not a clever idea because with the very high G-forces which you get at Indianapolis there’s no way the thing would have worked properly’.

‘We needed fuel injection so we had proper control from both the drivers point of view and from a fuel consumption point of view because there was a fuel consumption limit…But fooling around with that SG carburettor and all that stuff was just another blind alley. We should have sat down and thought it through and not done it. We should have done the 4.2 litre and left it at that.’

 

Evolution of Cylinder Heads and Budget Constraints…

 

‘The first (20 Series) heads were cross flow but incorporated a throttle slide track as part of the casting, the 40 Series are centre exhaust and inlets in the valley…’- Wolfe.

Rod Nash then chimed in ‘…the 30 Series followed the 20 Series but Ron Tauranac vetoed the 30 Series as he wanted exhaust pipes in the Vee, for a more streamlined effect- the 30 Series didn’t eventuate until much later.

‘When we were testing new conrods, we didn’t want to risk compromising the 40 Series heads as these were our production heads at the time. So (when) we assembled the 30 Series heads and used then on the test engine, and found they gave more horsepower than the 40 Series. The result was too late to use in F1 (the first 830 2.5 was installed in the back of Jack’s BT23E at the final Tasman round in February 1968) so we used the 30 Series in the later Tasman 2.5 engines’.

Tait ‘We only had one size of the magnesium housings for the inlet tubes, so the only choice was to vary the height’.

Wolfe ‘Nigel is right there as unlike some other F1 engines our problem with the RBE engines was not getting air into the engine- it was to burn the fuel/air more efficiently that which was getting in there’.

‘In the 2.5 the longer inlets enabled the ability to use the air column compression effect to stuff a bit more in as the valve closed. This the area of building racing engines that costs so much to research. When we built the 760 quad-cam 5 litre we used the same valve sizes in the 860 3 litre quad-cam. Repco just didn’t have the money to spend on playing with valve sizes or inlet diameters’.

Peter Molloy then commented ‘What you are trying to say is you didn’t have ‘induction energy’ that increases the port velocity, called the ‘supercharge effect’ that gave you a later closing valve, one of the problems you had Rod was poor combustion. But we all go through theses scenarios, I loved getting the end result, understanding the energy that is a available in engine geometry.’

‘Remember the Three C’s- Calculators, Common Sense, Compronise’

‘And the fourth is Cash!’ added Tait.

 

1968-1969

 

Tasman 830’s…

 

 

Here is a rare photograph of German racer Dieter Quester in Bob Harper’s ex-Cooper Elfin 600C Repco ‘830’ 2.5 E29 during the 1969 Macau Grand Prix weekend.

Three 600C’s were built- this one, an FVA engined car for Hengkie Iriawan and a third for John McCormack. The latter was initially fitted with a 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF from John’s ex-Brabham BT4 1962 AGP machine, and later with a 740 Series RB V8 E15B for the final period of the ANF2.5 formula in 1970.

Garrie’s car was sold to Steve Holland (or was it Bob Harper) after the 1969 JAF Japanese GP at Fuji. Steve Holland was ‘out of his depth in the 600C at Macau’ so Bob Harper considered giving the drive to Dieter Quester who did a 2 min 41.5 seconds lap- jumping out of the BMW he raced that weekend.

Eli Solomon wrote that ‘…eventually Holland got the drive. Steve Holland’s issues with the #87 Elfin Repco V8 ended on lap 37 when he pulled out with suspension troubles, having been in 4th position’. Quite how he could have jumped out of the BMW sent for him by the factory into the Elfin is a bit clouded- but Quester’s few laps at Macau in 1969 is an obscure bit of Elfin and Repco history.

Further Elfin/Repco history is that GC took his only Gold Star round win aboard this chassis at Mallala in October 1969 when the car was back at Edwardstown for a freshen/rebuild.

Malcolm Ramsay raced the car in Asia in 1970 and throughout the Gold Star, won that year by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott.

 

RB-830-E29

2.5 litre

BRO –

One engine initially built- and fitted into Brabham’s BT23E in the final 1968 Tasman round at Sandown for the race

Rod ‘8 January 1968 E29 830 2.5 on the dyno 278 bhp @ 8750 rpm’

Then to Elfin Racing Cars Garrie Cooper on 21 February 1969- fitted to GC’s Elfin 600C, raced in Asia then to Malcolm Ramsay as his 1970 Gold Star car.

Then fitted to Henry Michell’s Elfin 360 sportscar in 1971 after the end of the 2.5 litre ANF1- and still installed in that Elfin.

 

RB840-E31

2.5 litre

BRO 1968 Tasman for Brabham’s BT23E

Then to Bob Jane

 

RB840-E32

2.5 litre

BRO 1968 Tasman for Brabham’s BT23E

Scrapped

 

RB-830-E50

2.5 litre- Elfin Racing Cars Garrie Cooper- fitted to GC’s Elfin 600D, his 1970 Gold Star contender

Then fitted to Phil Moore’s Elfin 360 sportscar in 1971, as it still is

 

(The Matich SR4 fitted with 4.8 litre 760 ‘E41’ Repco)

 

Big Bertha- The Big Repco’s…

 

Frank Matich’s new Matich SR4 at Warwick Farm’…photo taken on the day of the cars first test run late in 1968, the ZF gearbox was changed to a Hewland LG gearbox in November 1969′ advises Derek Kneller.

‘It took at least 8 hours to change the ratios in the ZF ‘box due to the synchromesh, and you needed specialised tooling, it was easier to change the crown wheel and pinion. FM had two ZF ‘boxes set up with different ratios, if was far easier to change the whole ‘box’ Kneller recalls.

 

RB760-E41

4.8 litre

Frank Matich for the Matich SR4, winner of the 1969 Australian sportscar championship- this was his race engine throughout 1969. The motor was assembled by ‘Meppa’- John Mepstead, dyno tested and tweaked by him and then maintained by him throughout the year as he travelled with Matich during the season

Engine now owned by Nigel Tait, together with the SR4- we wrote an article about this car a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

See RB760-E48 ‘A second 760 4-cam was built when I came back from Sydney, a 4 cylinder 2.4 litre engine was built and fitted to Frank Hallam’s Volvo’ wrote John Mepstead.

 

Frank Matich SR4 and RBE General Manager Frank Hallam at Oran Park in late 1968 (Repco)

 

1969-1970

 

RB830-E47

2.5 litre

BRO for Brabham BT31

Rod Wolfe helped Jack assemble BT31 at Maidstone as told in our article linked below. Its interesting looking at Rod’s diary entries that week prior to the final, Sandown 1969 Tasman round.

Wednesday 12 February

BT31 arrived (unassembled in a box) at 3.45 pm. Brabham arrived at 8.30 pm- ‘BT31 assembly commenced’

Friday 14 February

4.15 pm took car to Calder for test

Sunday 16 February

Sandown International, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T, Jochen Rindt Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Jack Brabham, Brabham BT31 Repco 830

Rod ’28 February 1969 E47 ready for BT31′

7 April 1969 Rod records Brabham’s Easter Bathurst ‘Bathurst 100’ Gold Star win in BT31 and his lap record of 2:13.2 seconds

Several RB 830 2.5’s were built, the photo above is of Jack in BT31, his 1969 Tasman car, at Sandown the story of which is told here.

Rodway and I wrote an article about BT31- a car he owned for many years; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/26/rodways-repco-recollections-brabham-bt31-repco-jacks-69-tasman-car-episode-4/

Rod Wolfe advises both ‘BRO’ 830 V8’s were provided to Bob Jane Racing for use by John Harvey in Jane’s ex-Brabham, Brabham BT23E and the Bob Britton/Rennmax Engineering built ‘Jane V8’ Harvey raced in the 1970 Gold Star.

Where are these two motors now- of which E47 is one?

 

Brabham in BT31 with, probably engine E47 830 2.5 fitted at Sandown in early 1969 (R MacKenzie)

 

RB760-E49

5 litre- Frank Matich for the Matich SR4

Mepstead ran the engine on the Maidstone dyno on 29 December 1969, and again on 19 January 1970

Peak power was 558 bhp @ 7500 rpm and 392 lb ft of torque. The big, fat, flat torque curve stretched all the way from 5500 rpm-428 lb ft through 415 lb ft at 6500 to 392 lb ft at 7500 rpm

‘E49’ is the bad-arse Repco motor- the most powerful of all the engines inclusive of the later Repco Holden F5000, pushrod engines, the best of which were the flat-plane crank engines which maxxed out at 525’ish bhp

Rodway Wolfe recalls ‘The SR4 (5 litre) engine was brought back to Maidstone for an overhaul. There were only two guys capable of a proper rebuld. Don Halpin or John Mepstead. Mal Preston would not give either the time as he was under pressure from Charlie Dean for the F5000. So the SR4 engine sat fully dismantled on a trolley next to my desk. It stayed there for months and gradually the parts disappeared!!!’.

Nigel Tait chips in ‘…aha the mystery deepens, or does it? Derek Kneller assures me that the SR4 had its 5 litre in it when it was sent down to Repco but the Koni shockers went onto the A50. I’ve always wondered where the engine went’.

 

John Mepstead’s plot of 760 5 litre ‘E49’ power curve in January 1970- ‘only’ 558 bhp- if only that engine was built in January 1968- as well as SR4, for the 1968 Can-Am! (J Mepstead)

 

FM and the SR4 outside the Matich BP Servo in Castle Cove 1969 (B Caldersmith)

 

RBE760-

4.2 litre

Nigel Tait owns two engines for the SR4, the first was mentioned earlier in the article but lets now them to the count.

‘…the engine in my Matich SR4 at present is a 4.2 litre. The engine number panel is blank. This is the engine that we bought from Les Wright about 2002, I think, he had taken it from the Brabham BT21C Buick as this was the wrong engine for the car.’

What Nigel is alluding to is Les needed to fit the Buick engine to the Brabham as that was the motor it ran in period- and was therefore the motor it needed to have fitted in order to get a Log Book and Certificate of Description to compete in Australian Historic Racing. Therefore the luvverly 760 4.2 was surplus to his requirements, and duly sold to Nigel.

 

RBE760-E30 over-stamped to E34

5 litre

This motor is the second of Nigel’s SR4 engines and is ‘The spare I built up from a variety of parts I had. It is a true 5 litre capacity (unlike the 4.8 litre E41 first fitted to the SR4 in 1969 which was usually in press reports at the time quoted at 5 litres, but like E49 which raced in SR4 in 1970 and is now ‘missing’- having as written above, probably, progressively walked out the factory door)

The engine number has been changed but seems to be RB760 E30 overstamped to 34. I have marked it 5 litre’ Nigel advises.

 

Lionel Ayers, Rennmax Repco ‘740’ 5 litre, Karrussel, Lakeside 1973 (G Ruckert)

 

RB740-E48

5 litre- Lionel Ayers for MRC and later Rennmax Repco

12 May 1969 ‘5 litre for Lionel Ayers’ is this receipt of order or delivery of the engine?

 

Brewster with the Ex-Ayers Rennmax Repco 5 litre in the time Jim Phillips raced it (Tom Condon)

 

RB760- E51

5 litre

REDCO built for Jim Phillips / Hoot Gibson for the ex-Ayers Rennmax Repco

 

RB830-E53

3 litre

Don Halpin built for J Long boat

 

RB830- E54

2.5 litre

Don Halpin built for Will Marshall 1995, also a note to the effect ‘mag block’

 

Repco Brabham Engines Description and Specification Summary…

 

 

Obiter Dictum…

Is a Latin phrase meaning ‘by the way’ its used by Judges as a remark made in passing as they make their judgement upon the poor unfortunate before them.

In this context the important material below was provided by people in response to the article, they are ‘by the way Mark whilst you are standing in judgement just be aware of this’ –  important aspects of clarification, correction or context.

 

Without the Irving and Hallam Combination there would have been no World Championship…

Rodway Wolfe ‘The Hallam/Irving saga makes good reading but it wasn’t quite as it seems.’

‘We had to have Frank, I miss the guy, he was a machine-tool master. He only employed people that he trusted to do the job, he asked them to do the work using the method he specified. Lots of very skilled operators will not take instructions on how to do the job. As a result Frank was very careful of who he trained. He was obsessed with machine tools.

Phil was absolutely hopeless at “anything” other than design. He couldn’t work with people and was in his own little world. For example, when Phil finished a phone call he just hung up…no good bye or see you later…he just hung up at the end of a sentence and continued his drawing. Phil drove a beat-up old Land Rover diesel that had tears in the canvas top…at one stage the ACL employees next door complained to Frank that Phil used to scratch their cars when he arrived at work at 11am.

What I am getting at, is we had to have both of them. Without that combination there would have been no World Championship.’

Well said Rodway Wolfe.

 

Pay attention Frank! Norman Wilson, who succeeded Phil Irving as Chief Design Engineer holds a fuel metering unit circa 1967, with Frank Hallam, General Manager (Repco)

 

The Purchase of BT19 from Jack Brabham and its Restoration…

Nigel Tait ‘The BT19 was purchased by Repco from Jack Brabham at the instigation of Repco Director AB ‘Tony’ Avery, who later left Repco after contracting throat cancer. He is still around and I see him from time to time.’

‘I have the correspondence from Jack accepting the purchase price of $10,000 for the BT19. The car was (i think) actually sent to us from Japan, probably from Honda. It had a 2.5 620 engine at that time. I have previously noted that Don Halpin provided a 3 litre (E2) he had in exchange for the 2.5.’

‘The car was restored at Repco’s cost by Jim Shepherd (spelling?). Repco’s Warren Dick, of our Marketing and PR Division, was appointed for coordination of the project, while i with help from Don Halpin took over the project once completed. Warren kept a log of every single expense and only a few months ago i gave this to Repco to keep with the car.’

‘Once completed, the car was taken, mostly by me, to a great number of places interstate (eg Speed on Tweed) and the last time Jack drove it was during the last day of the Commonwealth Games Torch Relay at Albert Park in 2006.’

 

Brabham, BT19 at Albert Park during the soggy torch relay Nigel Tait describes (Getty)

 

Bibliography / Information Credits…

Rodway Wolfe Collection, Michael Gasking Collection, John Mepstead Collection, ‘From Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, ‘Mr Repco-Brabham: Frank Hallam’ Simon Pinder, Nigel Tait/Repco Archive, MotorSport September 2012 article by Michael Stahl and October 2011 article by Doug Nye

 

Photographs…

In addition to the above

Classic Auto News, Peter F Blood, Rob Hagarty, LAT, wheels24.co.za, Getty Images, Eoin Young Collection

Tailpiece: Happy Jack with one of the ’66 Championship winning RBE620’s…

 

(Repco)

 

That’s all folks- about 55 engines or so overall, but the count continues, do get in touch if you have information to add or suggested corrections to make.

 

Finito…

(M Williams)

Jack Brabham in his 1966 F1 Championship winning Brabham BT19 Repco during the Sandown Tasman weekend, 27 February 1966…

The pretty little poppet with the camera is far more attractive than the RBE crew from the factory in Richmond/Maidstone. I guess she has been dispatched from Repco HQ in St Kilda Road to catch all the action. Which rather begs the question, what became of the footage missy captured?

The car is powered by a new Repco Brabham Engines ‘620 Series’ 2.5 litre V8- the motor in 3 litre capacity made its race debut in South Africa on 1 January. BT19 was a very busy car in 1966 and well into 1967.

I’ve done this story to death of course, here on the engine; https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

and here on Jack’s 1966 season; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

but these two photos were too good not to share.

Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill created a BRM sandwich for Jim Clark that ‘Sandown Park Cup’ weekend- second in his Lotus 39 Coventry Climax FPF, the BRM lads were aboard 1.9 litre P60 V8 engined P261’s. Jack was out on lap 6 with a failed oil pump causing substantial engine destruction.

That is RBE620 ‘E2’ 2.5 in its engine bay. Over the next 12 months or so it would have no shortage of Repco RB620, 640 and 740 V8’s popped into and out of it (M Williams)

As is well known, the one and only Brabham BT19 ‘F1-1-65’ was built by Ron Tauranac in 1965 to suit the dimensions of the stillborn Coventry Climax FWMW 16 cylinder engine and lay unused until pressed into service as the first car into which the Repco RB620 V8, designed by Phil Irving, was installed.

Utterly conventional in design, Jack put the light, chuckable car to rather good use throughout 1966- see Werner Buhrer’s outline and drawing of the car below.

Etcetera…

I’d actually finished this piece and then cruised through my archive and noticed how many other photographs I had of this particular weekend.

Some are only of ‘proof quality’ recently posted by Repco-Brabham engineer/racer/historian Nigel Tait, but they are still valuable to share to document RBE history.

So here they are, in sort of chronological order…

(N Tait)

Mike Gasking giving an RBE620 2.5 a whirl in the Richmond test cells in late 1965- is it the engine in Jack’s car at Sandown?- more than likely it is ‘E2’ with those long inlet trumpets, yes.

Gasking was in on the ground floor- he was apprenticed at Repco and was involved in building and testing Jack’s Coventry Climax FPF engines and then throughout the Repco Brabham Engines period to its end.

Dyno is a Heenan & Froude GB4 which remained in Richmond for a while before being transported to RBE’s new digs at 87 Mitchell Street, Maidstone- this move took place in the early weeks of January 1966.

(N Tait)

Off she rolls from the truck, ‘Peters Corner’ and the start of the run up the back straight in the background.

BT19 has been a busy already. Fitted with a 3 litre RBE620 V8 the car was shipped to South Africa from the UK fitted with engine # ‘E3’ for the non-championship GP at Kyalami on 1 January.

Phil Irving describes the 3 litre engine as ‘…built up from scratch, with the cylinder heads as drawn for the original 2 1/2 litre, except that the inlet ports were enlarged and re-shaped to improve gas-flow and throttle-slides as developed for the 2 1/2 litre engine, were used. After assembly and short running-in, full power tests returned an output of 310 bhp (in his book Malcolm Preston quotes 280 bhp @ 7500 rpm with 310 bhp achieved several months later)…there was just time for an afternoon shake-down run (Goodwood) before the car was loaded onto the boat (to South Africa)…’

That SA GP was won by the works Lotus 33 Climax 2 litre FWMV of Mike Spence, Brabham retired when the fuel-injection pump seized having set pole and led for all but the last nine of the sixty laps.

BT19 was then air freighted to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport and trucked to Richmond where the 3 litre ‘E3’ was removed and the 2.5 litre ‘E2’  installed for the Sandown.

Many of you will recall Roy Billington, front and centre below, as a Brabham Racing Organisation mechanic for many years. All of Nigel Tait’s Christmases have come at once- he had just commenced at Repco as a graduate Cadet Engineer, his first assignment looking after Brabham’s new car- it does not get better than that at 22! Phil, leaning on the Lukey exhausts with ever-present fag in his mouth!

(N Tait)

Nigel Tait, Roy Billington and Phil Irving are fussing over ‘RBE620’ 2.5 ‘E2’ In the Sandown paddock on the Thursday or Friday prior to the meeting.

Plenty of pressure, it was the home teams first home race resulting in a massive crowd turnout of 55,000 people on raceday to see Brabham and his ‘all-Australian’ racing car make its local debut.

Irving quotes over 250 bhp was given by the 620 2.5 litre- not much greater than the FPF but the V8 had good mid-range torque and could be revved past it’s power-peak without self-destruction, unlike the short-stroke FPF’s which tended to be rather brittle if over-revved by even a smidge.

(N Tait)

Frank Hallam now joins in the fun between the exhausts- left to right Hallam, Billington, Tait, the very obscured Irving and Black Jack. On the pit counter beyond is lanky Norman Wilson, Peter Holinger, a nun identified fellow and Bob Brown, a Repco Ltd Director.

The sergent.com race report has it that the car was troublesome during practice, with 30 bhp being found overnight to put Jack right in amongst the front-running BRM’s of Stewart and Hill. Nigel recalls Phil getting cross with him on the race weekend , ‘We were working on the throttle slides on the BT19 the night before the Sandown meeting and it turned out to be a very long and late night. I went out to the all-night hamburger place and bought one for Phil but he spat it out. How was i to know he didnt like onions?- a great bloke and very clever’.

(I Nicholls)

Look at that crowd! Kidlets, Billington- who is the guy in the cap who always looked after Jack whilst he was in Oz and is in ‘all’ the shots?, Nigel Tait at right having cast aside his grotty lab-coat.

At Sandown Jack set a new lap record in his heat, the Exide Cup- the results of two heats determined grid positions.

The Tasman race engine seizure occurred in ‘…that the start of the race was delayed and everyone started with cold engines. The Repco V8’s oil-pump relief valve failed on the first lap (actually the sixth lap according to the various race reports) of the race the oil pressure went up to 160psi, the pump gears stripped and the engine locked up at about 7000 rpm’ according to Phil Irving.

Tait recalls ‘That night…I had the task of removing the pump and dismantling it. Frank Hallam and his wife Norma were there as was Phil’.

The oil pump gears were from a Fordson Major tractor out of an FM diesel model- they were amongst some components from proprietary vehicles used in RB620- which from that day were not sintered but machined from steel.

Rodway Wolfe noted that ‘I remember on the Monday after that Sandown race…when I arrived at the Maidstone factory at 8 am the drawing of the oil pump gear with new specifications was on Kevin Davies, the Admin Manager’s desk. Phil had made the modifications overnight. He (famously) didn’t keep the same hours as other management but he didn’t knock off at 5.30 pm like other management either!…’

‘Frank Hallam arranged for new steel gears to be made while Roy Billington helped me to remove and dismantle the engine. We found two crankpins were badly overheated and the crank was bent, so the crank and the main bearings were replaced, but fortunately the pistons, rings and cylinder liners were undamaged.

Although changing the crankshaft entailed almost completely dismantling the engine, the timing case and oil pump could be handled as units and we had the engine re-assembled with new pump gears and brake-tested by Tuesday afternoon. We stuck it in the car that night and it went off to Tasmania on the Wednesday (to Longford)…’ Phil wrote.

(T Brandt)

Jim Clark and Jack saunter through the Sandown paddock. Not the greatest of weekends for either!

In Jim’s case the 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine in his Lotus 39- which had been the motor of choice in the Tasman series since its inception in 1964 was now being found wanting by the V8’s of BRM and Repco.

Clark returned the following year with Lotus having taken a leaf out of BRM’s book- their 1967 weapon was a 1.5 litre F1 Lotus 33 fitted with a 2 litre Coventry Climax FWMV V8, with which Jim took the 1967 title convincingly from BRM and Repco Brabham.

(T Brandt)

And again above…meanwhile below the boys are about to pop the car into the truck for the drive back to Richmond and overnight checks before the start of official practice.

‘The start’ of a rather fruitful partnership wouldn’t you say…

Credits…

Max Williams & Nigel Tait Collections, Tony Brandt, Ian Nicholls, sergent.com, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

(N Tait)

Finito…