Posts Tagged ‘Maserati 250F’

lukey

Len Lukeys’ Cooper Bristol, Mount Druitt, NSW in May 1958, having set FTD at 13.53 sec for the standing quarter (J Ellacott)

‘Now that really is a beautiful looking racing car! Wotizzit I wonder’, the young gent seems to thinking…

The smartly attired chap is surveying the lines of Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol at Mount Druitt in Sydney’s west in May 1958. Len Lukey was both a champion driver and successful businessman, founding ‘Lukey Mufflers’ in the 1950’s, a brand still respected today.

Melbourne born, Lukey started racing relatively late, aged 32 having established and built his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business from its Nepean Highway, Highett base. Generations of enthusiasts are aware of his name because of the original equipment and performance exhausts and mufflers he produced. No lowered, worked EH Holden with wide ‘chromies’ and twin SU’s was complete without the distinctive Lukey logo being displayed on its exhaust’s for following traffic to know its performance intent.

Lukey started competition in the Victorian hills with a side-valve Ford Mainline Ute, Australia’s ubiquitous workhorse down the decades. It was in this car at the opening Altona meeting in 1954 that he frightened the life out of Stan Jones in Maybach when he spun whilst coming through The Esses, the car looking all the while as though it had lost its way transporting a load of mufflers from Highett to Williamstown. The competition regulator, the CAMS, frowned upon the use of such a utilitarian vehicles in racing so he switched to the first of a series of Ford Customlines.

Len Lukey, Ford Customline, Rob Roy, 1957 (B King)

 

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Equipe Lukey during the 1959 AGP weekend at Longford, Cooper T45 Climax- unknown, Neil Marsden, Helen Lukey, Claude Morton and Len Lukey (Jock Walkem)

 

Awesome shot at the start of the 1959 AGP at Longford, showing not least how narrow the track was then- the old start line was on The Flying Mile towards Mountford Corner. Winner Stan Jones has the jump in his Maserati 250F, then Len, partially obscured in his Cooper T45 Climax, then Arnold Glass, Maserati 250F, Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S, Ron Phillips, Cooper T33 Jaguar, Alec Mildren, Cooper T45 Climax and the rest (unattributed, I’d love to know the name of the photographer)

Its interesting to review the stunning march of touring car domination of Australian motor racing and look at the role Len Lukey had in its rise. Australian Motor Sports had this to say in its January 1960 issue, ‘…there can be no doubt that by tuning these massive cars to the highest possible pitch, Len Lukey started the ball rolling towards the day when the term production car racing became such a farce that a special Gran Turismo Class had to be instituted’.

Lukey had some spectacular moments as he learned his craft, a trip through the hay bales at Albert Park and a lucky roll at Phillip Island- there was no rollover protection in those days, both were lucky escapes.

The car was timed at 106mph at Gnoo Blas, Orange in 1956 beating both Jack Myers and the Aldis Bristol. His dices against Jack Myers, the Sydney Holden driver were crowd pleasers in the way Geoghegan/Beechey battles were a little further down the track.

He soon took hillclimb class records at Rob Roy, Hepburn Springs and Templestowe, all in Victoria.

Both Myers and Lukey progressed into single seaters via Cooper Bristols. In Lukey’s case his ascent to the top was quicker than just about any Gold Star winner, and then, he almost immediately upon achieving the prestigious award in the longest ever season- twelve rounds in five states, retired as a competitor but remained in the sport as a circuit owner and sponsor.

Team Lukey during the 1957 AGP weekend at Caversham- Customline and Cooper T23 Bristol (K Devine)

Lukey commenced racing the ex Reg Hunt/Kevin Neal Cooper Bristol in 1956…

He was ninth in the ‘Olympic’ Australian Grand Prix won by Stirling Moss at Albert Park in a works Maserati 250F.

In the 100 mile Victorian Trophy Race he was fifth behind Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 3 litre, Brabham’s Cooper Climax, Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Holden, it was an auspicious open-wheeler debut. He started a campaign to contest the Gold Star the following year- the first time the Australian Drivers Championship had been contested.

The season commenced at Caversham, 16km from Perth, held in searing heat and famously won, after much argument about lap-counting, by Davison’s Ferrari which was shared by Lex and Bill Patterson- Len was fourth in a fast reliable run in the Cooper. He was fifth at Albert Park and then late in the season scored two thirds in the New South Wales Road Racing Championships at Mount Panorama and in the Port Wakefield Trophy held at the South Australian circuit in rough bush country 100km north-west of Adelaide.

He set Australian National Speed Records in both the Cooper- 147.4mph, and the Customline at 123.3mph outside Coonabaraban in north-western NSW in 1957.

The Cusso was timed one way at 130mph, the car that weekend festooned with masking tape, shields over its headlights, an enclosed radiator and sealed doors and boot to squeeze every bit of speed from the beast. Len had to enter the car through the windows, safety again very much to the fore!

The car which ran at Coonabarabran was a new shell, but all the learnings and good bits of the earlier one were transferred across. Len raced it for a further year before being selling it to Melbourne driver Owen Bailey but it was badly damaged in an accident at Albert Park in 1958, Bailey’s first meeting in it.

On the way to winning the ‘South Australian Trophy’, Gold Star round at Port Wakefield in April 1958, Cooper T23 Bristol (unattributed)

 

Lukey at Albert Park during the Melbourne GP in November 1958, Lukey Bristol, Jaguar Corner. ‘Vanwall-esque’ nature of the body clear if not as beautiful in execution (B King)

 

lukey

Len Lukey being congratulated by Derek Jolley for his 2nd place in the October 1958 Victorian Road Racing Champinsghip at Fishernans Bend. Lukey Bristol, Ted Gray won in Tornado 2 Chev (K Drage)

Its amazing to compare and contrast the short four or five round Gold Star contests of later years with the more arduous nature of the series earlier on, particularly given the standard of Australian highways then.

The 1958 award was contested over nine rounds starting at Orange in New South Wales, from there to Fishermans Bend in Melbourne, then south across Bass Straight to Longford, to Port Wakefield north of Adelaide in South Australia, then two rounds at Lowood, Queensland in June and August- so I guess depending upon other race commitments one could leave your car up north- then to Mount Panorama, Bathurst New South Wales for the Australian Grand Prix in October and then, finally two rounds in Victoria- Albert Park in November and Phillip Island in early December.

The 1959 Gold Star was held over a staggering twelve rounds- and so it was that Len committed himself to a couple of serious tilts at the title in 1958 and 1959, the lessons learned in 1958 were applied with great success the following year when he won the title.

Len was third in the opening South Pacific Championship round at Gnoo, Blas Orange in January, Jack Brabham won that event in his Cooper T43 Climax but was ineligible for Gold Star points as a non-resident.

Back home to Victoria Len was then fourth at Fishermans Bend in February and fifth in the Longford Trophy in March. Stan Jones won at the Bend and Ted Gray at Longford in the big ‘booming Chev Corvette 283cid V8 engined Tornado 2.

He scored his first splendid Gold star win in the South Australian Trophy at Port Wakefield in April, winning from Austin Miller’s Cooper T41 Climax and Keith Rilstone in the amazing Zephyr Special s/c.

Then followed a long haul back to Melbourne to ready the car and then a 1650km tow to Lowood Queensland for the two rounds held on the disused airfield circuit.

He bagged a pair of thirds in the Queensland Road Racing Championship at Lowood in June and the Lowood Trophy in August- Alec Mildren won both of these events in his Cooper T43 Climax, with Len looking lovingly and with considerable longing for one of these mid-engined cars, an aim he would realise before the year was out.

Len had developed his own thoughts on how to improve the performance of his Cooper and built a new spaceframe, high-bodied chassis, the ‘Lukey Bristol’ into which the mechanicals of the factory car were fitted.

Ready for the AGP, the car was taken to Bathurst but finished a distant sixth, two laps in arrears of Lex Davison, Ern Seeliger and Tom Hawkes aboard 3 litre Ferrari 500/625, 4.6 litre Maybach 4 Chev and 2.3 litre Cooper T23 Holden-Repco respectively.

The last two round of the championship were back in Victoria, he was fifth in the Melbourne Grand Prix, an exciting race weekend in which Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham scrapped at the front of the field in 2.2 litre Cooper T45 Climaxes- the race was won by Moss from Brabham then Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S, Bib Stillwell’s ex-Hunt Maserati 250F and then Len.

Lukey was quickly in discussion with Brabham about purchase of the Cooper T45- the very latest of Surbiton’s machines at the time, and would soon have the 2 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined machine in his workshops providing him with the tool to do the job in 1959.

Len was still active on the hills, winning both a new NSW sprint record and FTD at Mt Druitt in 13.53 seconds, this articles opening photo is at that meeting. In July he spun at the end of Rob Roy when the throttle jammed open, Len was thrown from the car before it rolled to a halt, but it was a lucky escape.

The final Gold Star event was the Phillip Island Trophy on Boxing Day but Len spun the Cooper in a preliminary event damaging the cars suspension enough to non-start the championship race. The Coad brothers sportingly lent him their Vauxhall Special but the car was outclassed, with Lukey third in the Gold Star with 21 points, then Alec Mildren on 23 with Stan Jones deservedly taking the title with 31 points- Stan won two rounds at Fishermans Bend and Phillip Island and was third on three occasions- Gnoo Blas, Longford and the first of the two Lowood rounds.

The Lukey boys push the Cooper T23 Bristol thru the Longford paddock in March 1958, behind is the Lou Abrahams owned, mighty Tornado 2 Chev, victorious that weekend (HRCCTas)

 

Len and Stan Jones on the cover of the March 1959 issue of AMS in recognition of a marvellous AGP dice resolved in Jones’ favour 1959- Cooper T45 Climax from Maserati 250F

After Brabham contested three New Zealand internationals in early January 1959, Lukey bought the car from Jack. It was fitted with a 2 litre FPF rather than one of the 2.2’s Jack had been using- these engines were rare with the full 2.5 litre variants built around new blocks being readied back in Coventry for Cooper, Rob Walker and Lotus’ use in F1 that season- rather successfully so as events transpired.

In 1959, as mentioned above, the Gold Star was contested over twelve gruelling rounds- between 26 January and 14 June, the halfway mark of the season, those on the title chase travelled from their home base, to Orange, then Fishermans Bend, Longford, Port Wakefield, Bathurst and Lowood- Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland, with an arduous second half of the season still to come.

The competition was strong- Len and Alec Mildren raced Cooper T45’s, Bill Patterson a T43 with Stan Jones the other racer who had committed to most of the rounds- racing his Maserati 250F, Maybach 4 Chev and later in the season he took delivery of a Cooper T51 Climax as did Bib Stillwell, David McKay and Austin Miller but the latter trio did not race across the continent in the manner Len, Alec and Stan did.

In much the same way that the new-fangled Coopers were challenging the front-engined orthodoxy in Europe so too of course was the case in Australia albeit there was no surprise at the speed of the Coventry Climax engined cars given the giant killing nature of the air-cooled Coopers since the first appeared of one at Bathurst in the dawn of the fifties.

Only two points separated the Cooper T45 Climax duo of Lukey and Mildren at the seasons end- Len won the title with 68 points to the Canberra motor-dealers 66.

Mildren won three rounds- Fishermans Bend and the two Lowood rounds mid-season whereas Len won two- at Caversham and the last round at Phillip Island when the pressure was well and truly on. The Cooper’s differential failed during Saturday practice, Len did not have a spare, Noel Hall did but it was affixed to his car which was in Sydney. Jack Myers removed the gearbox and popped it onto a ‘plane, there the precious cargo was collected from Essendon Airport and then taken to Phillip Island where it was fitted to the car. The machine was finally ready about an hour before the off- Lukey led from the flag and on the final lap equalled the lap record- a memorable win indeed.

Alan Jones quizzing Lukey about the handling characteristics of his Cooper- Otto Stone, racer/engineer/mechanic and fettler of the Stan Jones Maserati 250F at the time is to the right of Alan and Stan is far right but one in the white helmet ready for the off, Phillip Island 1959 (unattributed)

 

Lukey and Jones scrapping through Longford Village, AGP 1959, ‘pub corner’- Cooper T45 and Maserati 250F (oldracephotos.com)

Stan Jones won two rounds as well, notably the Australian Grand Prix at Longford after a race-long dice with Len- it was a classic battle of the time between the powerful front engined 2.5 litre Maserati and the more nimble, but less powerful 2 litre Climax powered Cooper. There was a bit a karma in Stan’s race win as no-one in the field, other than Mildren, deserved an AGP win more and Alec’s time came twelve months afterwards at the conclusion of an even more thrilling dice between Lex Davison’s 3 litre Aston Martin DBR4/300 and Mildren’s 2.5 litre Cooper T51 Maserati at Lowood.

Jones also won at Port Wakefield in March in the big, booming Maybach 4 Chev, stepping back into the car he vacated two years before when he acquired his Maserati 250F. His friend and engineer, Ern Seeliger had replaced the SOHC straight-six Maybach engine with a Chevy V8, and made other changes to what had been called Maybach 3, there was something a bit poetic about a Maybach taking one last win this late in the piece given the front-running nature of this series (of three or four variants of cars depending on how yer do your count) of cars for the best part of a decade.

Bill Patterson, like Mildren and Jones had a very long race CV which he enhanced in 1959 with two wins in his Cooper T43 Climax- arguably a quicker driver than Mildren and Lukey, if not Jones- Patto was also in a run to Gold Star victory, his turn would come in 1961 aboard a Cooper T51 Climax the year after Mildren.

Single round wins that year were taken by Jack Brabham, taking his traditional win at the season opening Gnoo Blas ‘South Pacific Championship’ before heading back to the UK and by Kiwi Ross Jensen’s Maserati 250F in the prestigious Bathurst 100 at Easter but neither qualified for Gold Star points as non-residents.

Bib Stillwell was the other round winner in his new Cooper T51 Climax at Bathurst in October. Bib was perhaps the slowest of all of this generation to mature as a driver at the absolute top level but he won four Gold Stars on the trot from 1962 to 1965 with a blend of speed, consistency and the best of equipment.

What was impressive about Lukey’s win in 1959 was his relative inexperience against the fellows he beat, all of whom had fifteen years to a couple of decades on him in race experience, but it was a close run contest. That year a driver could only count their scores from nine of the twelve rounds, Len and Alec scored in ten rounds apiece, both had to drop a round- both discarded 3 points, and so it was after a long, intense year of racing criss-crossing the vast brown land that Lukey won from Mildren by only 2 points. Amazing really, but the CAMS learned the lesson and the event was never held with that many rounds again.

Lukey only raced once more, in the 1960 NZGP at Ardmore and then sold the car to concentrate on his business interests.

It was a good performance too- seventh on the grid amongst all of the 2.2 and 2.5 litre FPF’s but it all came to nothing after undisclosed dramas after finishing 36 of the events 75 laps- Brabham won from McLaren, Stillwell and Jones- two Cooper 2.5’s from two Cooper 2.2’s rather put the state of play at the time into sharp relief.

No photoshop here, Jones and Lukey during their 1959 Longford AGP dice getting some serious air as the cross the railway line on the outskirts of Longford village on Tannery Straight (C Rice)

 

Left to right, Lukey and Mildren in Cooper T45 Climaxes and Bib Stillwell in his new T51 at Caversham in October 1959- Len took the win (K Devine)

 

(B King)

Whilst Lukey retired from competition to focus on his business, he remained a friend of motor racing until his untimely death in 1978…

He provided financial support to various competitors not least Jack Brabham, the works F1 Brabhams of the sixties used Lukey exhaust systems right into the 1966 and 1967 championship winning Brabham BT19 ‘620’ and BT24 ‘740’- all of the works F1 cars were fitted with Lukey exhaust systems.

Look closely at the rear of one of the Brabham BT24 Repco ‘740’s during the 1967 GP season in the photograph below and you can see the ‘Lukey Mufflers’ made exhausts on the car- and the company name on the chrome plated exhaust endpieces.

In 1962 Len acquired a Holman Moody built Ford Galaxie ‘R Code’ 406cid four-door which was raced initially by Lex Davison, Len no doubt encouraging his purist racing car friend in the direction of the ‘dark side’. The shot below is of Norm Beechey racing the machine against Max Volkers’ Cortina at Lowood in August 1964, I wonder who got the better of this encounter in the wet? The Galaxie still exists.

(B Thomas)

 

 

Brabham BT24 Repco during the 1967 season (unattributed)

The 1962 Armstrong 500 (miles) production car race resulted in extreme circuit damage to the the Phillip Island track, the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club Club (PIARC) could not afford to repair the bitumen out of meagre club funds and as a consequence the track sat idle for two years.

During the initial track fund raising to build the place a decade before, Repco and Olympic Tyres supported bank guarantees for PIARC to a value of £17,000. Without funds to service the loan- no race meetings and therefore no income, Repco and PIARC made the regretful decision to sell ‘The Island’ property.

Shortly thereafter Lukey was chatting to racer/enthusiast George Coad at Essendon Airport whilst awaiting a plane.  Upon learning from Coad that PIARC was forced to sell the facility, Lukey immediately rang the clubs President and offered to buy it for £13,000.

As part of the deal, Len imposed a condition on the club that racing be revived. Lukey would develop the property and PIARC re-build the track and facilities and run four events a year for ten years. Lukey had a passion for the island and the circuit but also knew what it would take to revive and run the place having been a PIARC committee member some years before. PIARC paid Len $2 per year in rent.

The first public race meeting was held three years later in September 1967. The circuit was sold again after Lukey’s death and is now the wonderful facility we all know and love, without Lukey’s timely investment it would not be there today.

The Lukey brand hasn’t been in family hands for decades but lives on as a wonderful reminder of its founder, a great driver of both touring cars and single-seaters, a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of the sport.

Love this shot of the Cooper T23 Bristol during the 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park, the machine is getting plenty of attention- finned drum brakes and top transverse leaf springs front and rear both clear (G Smedley)

Additional Lukey reading…

Do click on the links for these two short articles- their are some stunning photographs contained within. Here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/20/teds-tornado-and-lens-cooper/ , here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/08/stan-jones-agp-longford-gold-star-series-1959/ , and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/11/1958-longford-trophy/

Etcetera…

 

 

(unattributed)

These big barges occupy a lot of real estate and did no harm at all to attract the punters- touring cars were on the rise, sadly, even in 1956. Len Lukey from Norm Beechey in Ford Customlines during the 1956 AGP carnival. Is the Holden 48-215 on right front below that of Jack Myers?

(unattributed)

Cooper T23 Bristol..

(unattributed)

 

(B King)

Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol blasts past the Army Barrack’s at Albert Park during the 1956 AGP, and below the cockpit of the immaculately prepared Cooper at Templestowe Hillclimb in Melbourne’s east.

(B King)

Doug Nye wrote the history of the 1953 build Cooper Mk2 Bristol chassis’ on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2003.

He lists ’11 (ish) to 12 (ish)’ chassis. The ‘Lukey’ car is ostensibly numbered ‘CB/9/53’.

‘1953 ‘5’ The Tom Cole Mk2 – in effect totally destroyed in fire at Syracuse

1953 ‘5B’ The Tom Cole Mark 2 rebuilt as above around a fresh frame, driven by Swaters, Cole, Graham Whitehead- to Dick Gibson- sold to Australia probably Reg Hunt. (Reg Hunt’s Mark 2- alleged sold NEW in 1954) for Kevin Neale in Australia- to Len Lukey- Frank Coad- Eddie Clay- Ken Cox- Peter Menere- Jumbo Goddard and to Tom Wheatcroft for The Donington Collection. But this was surely in reality the ex-Tom Cole second Mark 2 of 1953…ex-Gibson’ Nye wrote.

(B King)

Gardening at Templestowe circa 1958- no harm done by the look of it.

(A Lamont)

It would have been a wild ride around Longford, mind you, the forgiving nature of the Cooper Bristol chassis would have made it slightly less challenging than some other cars of the day.

This wonderful shot is during the 1958 Gold Star meeting in March- the first ‘national’ Longford won by Ted Gary in Tornado 2 Chev.

(unattributed)

Len at Albert Park, am guessing in 1957, who and what is that behind him?

(B King)

Lukey Bristol..

(unattributed)

Lukey heads up the Mountain, Mount Panorama during the 1958 Australian Grand Prix in October- well and truly outgunned in his new Lukey Bristol which had made its race debut at the previous Lowood Gold Star round, on a circuit which rewards power and a forgiving chassis.

The Lukey Bristol was an evolution of the factory product, but lighter with a chassis designed by Lukey. It had a more enveloping body clearly influenced by Frank Costin’s Vanwall design and using castings made and machined in Melbourne. The engine from his CB was used, the new machine also had a transverse leaf rear end like the original.

It was advertised for sale in this form as were the various components and body panels which were made of fibreglass. Bob King believes three of the chassis were built- the Lukey Bristol, ‘Faux Pas’ and a third. Both the cars mentioned are in the hands of David Reid, do get in touch if you can add more to this.

(Miller Family)

The photograph above and below are of the construction of the Lukey Bristol at right, with the Cooper T23 at left denuded of its constituent parts, at the Lukey factory in the Nepean Highway.

Note the rifle on the wall to scare off late night intruders, ‘chicky-babe’ calendars on the wall and robust spaceframe chassis- who the artisans are would be great to know.

Things have progressed in the shot below with a rear suspension corner, straight off the T23 soon to be bolted on, transverse top leaf spring carried over, chassis clearly lower and wider than the original.

(Miller Family)

 

(B King)

The page above is included for the section about the ‘Lukey Mufflers Chassis’ and related components. I was going to crop and then thought let’s all read it and weep- Frank Shuter’s Maserati 8CM will do me!

The ad makes mention of both front and mid-engined chassis availability- the former were of the type used on the Lukey Bristol, the latter built off a jig created from the Cooper T45 chassis- one of the Cooper experts will be able to hazard a guess as to how many chassis were built using this jig, not the only T45/T51 jig in Australia either!

(B King)

Len Lukey, Lukey Bristol chases Bib Stillwell’s ex-Hunt Maserati 250F during the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix- they were fourth and fifth respectively. Stirling Moss won the race in a Rob Walker Cooper T45 Climax from Brabham’s similar car- the chassis bought by Len at the end of the summer, and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S.

Look at the lean of the heads into the corner and the relative roll of the Lukey Bristol compared with the Maserati.

(unattributed)

Winning at Part Wakefield in the Cooper Bristol in 1958 and contesting the 1958 AGP at Bathurst the same year, he was sixth. The #56 car behind is Bill Reynolds in the Orlando MG Spl 1.5- Murrays Corner.

(B King)

More Australian Motor Sports, this time incorporating the ad for the sale of the Lukey Bristol.

Cooper T45 Climax..

(G McNeill)

 

(unattributed)

Lukey rounds Stonyfell Corner, Port Wakefield, South Australia in the 1959 ‘Gold Star’ round- Cooper T45 Climax.

The shot below was taken during the Fishermans Bend Gold Star round in early 1959.

(unattributed)

Information about this car is a bit opaque, like so many Coopers of the period but the story goes something like this. Chassis T45 ‘F2-10-58′ was believed to be a factory machine raced by Jack Brabham until it was damaged at the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix.

It was acquired by Jack after being rebuilt around a new frame, brought to Australia and raced to second place behind Stirling Moss’ similar Rob Walker owned car in the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park, the last race meeting held at the celebrated circuit in its first iteration as a motor racing venue.

Jack then took it to New Zealand to contest the 10 January Ardmore NZ GP, again finishing second behind the Walker/Moss T45. He was second at Wigram and third at Teretonga behind Ron Flockhart, BRM P25 and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T45 Climax and then headed back to Europe, Len acquired the car at this point.

The car was then bought by Melbourne’s Jon Leighton who raced it successfully for a couple of years albeit the competiton got pretty tough with so many 2.2 and 2.5 litre FPF engine T51 Coopers on the scene.

It passed into the hands of Melbourne Architect Richard Berryman, and then later to Len Lukey’s widow, the car was an attraction at the Phillip Island museum for many years during the long period the Lukey’s owned the track and was occasionally raced by Keith Lukey, Len’s son.

Robert Shannon, founder of the insurance business well known in Australia was the right kind of owner sensitive to the car and it’s importance- I recall speaking to him about it during Melbourne City Chamber of Commerce meetings on several occasions.

After Robert’s sudden death by heart attack, Ron Walker, ‘father’ of the Albert Park Australian GP’s of today owned it, did nothing with it and then rather blotted his local copybook by selling it via Bonhams in the UK. It would have been rather nice if the Cooper with such a significant Australian history was advertised locally and stayed here.

Do contact me if you can assist in filling the gaps.

Credits and references…

John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Ken Devine Collection, Bob King Collection- Spencer Wills photographer, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, Doug Nye on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, oldracingcars.com, Wikipedia, Jock Walkem, Charles Rice, Geoff Smedley, Andrew ‘Slim’ Lamont, Greg McNeill, Austin Miller Family Collection

Special thanks to Bob King for some wonderful photographs and tidbits from his AMS collection

Tailpieces: Lukey with Cooper T23 Bristol sans bodywork, Templestowe circa 1958…

(B King)

 

(B King)

Finito…

Dunedin 1956 (T Selfe)

The Aston Martin DP155 single seater is surely one of the great marques lesser known models, here at Dunedin, New Zealand in February 1956…

It is significant too as one of the seminal steps in AM’s occasional quest to get into Grand Prix racing. The DBR4/250 cars were tested later in 1957 although not actually raced by Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby until 1959 by which time the mid-engine revolution was underway and by the seasons end ‘complete’. The Cooper T51 Climax delivered bigtime on the earlier promise of its predecessors.

I chuckled when I first saw Tony Selfe’s wonderful photo as the most successful individual GP chassis of all time- Tony Gaze’s ex-Alberto Ascari Ferrari 500 chassis ‘5’ is alongside its stablemate Peter Whitehead’s car and one of the least known GP cars of all time in far-away New Zealand! Not that its fair to call DP155 anything more than the test hack it most assuredly was.

There are not a huge number of photos of DP155 extant, whilst not super sharp the shot is useful to be able to further appreciate Frank Feeley’s body design within the constraints of the wide DB3S sportscar chassis upon which it was based and way up high seating position atop the driveshaft.

But lets go back to the start.

The project dates to the early 1950s when Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd first contemplated construction of a Grand Prix car, the first step was intended to be an F2 machine.

The intention was to mate a variant of the 2.6 litre LB6 engine with a DB3 sportscar chassis. An early prototype was assembled in the winter of 1951/2 using a mildly-tuned 2-litre version of the engine, however, Technical Director Prof Dr Robert Eberan von Eberhorst rejected the idea and the car was quickly dismantled and forgotten.

HWM’s John Heath showed interest in the ‘tuned down’ engine for his F2 cars but David Brown knocked that notion on its head.

The CSI announced a new 2.5 litre Formula 1 to which World Championship Grands Prix would be run from January 1 1954- a replacement for the 2 litre ‘F2’ formula of 1952-1953 during which the Ferrari 500’s in works and privateer hands had been dominant.

In Autumn 1953 Aston Martin contemplated F1 once more, but as a low priority, busy as they were with their sportscar programs which made great sense from product development and marketing perspectives.

The project was given the classification ‘DP155’, the car, allocated chassis number DP155-1, comprised a DB3S chassis frame ‘in narrower single seat form’ powered by a 2493cc (83×76.mm) version of the Willie Watson-designed 2.9-litre Aston Martin engine. Doug Nye cites works mechanics John King and Richard Green amongst those involved in the build, whilst Aston Martin’s legendary stylist, Frank Feeley, designed the bodywork.

John Wyer estimated an engine output of circa 180 bhp on alcohol fuel at the time- well short of the Tipo 625 Ferrari and Maserati 250F which developed at least 200 bhp in early 1954.

The twin-plug DB3S engines of 1955/6 developed about 210/215 bhp but by this time the F1 opposition were at 240/250 bhp so ‘it seemed a futile exercise for Aston Martin, whose sports-racing cars were notoriously and persistently underpowered, to contemplate building a Formula 1 car powered by a derivative of these engines’ wrote Anthony Pritchard.

The car was put to one side in the workshop as sportscar programs were prioritised. Click here for articles on the DB3S; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/, and; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/31/yes-frank-i-love-it-magnificent-in-fact/

Reg Parnell testing DP155 at Silverstone (or is it Chalgrove?) fitted with 3 litre supercharged engine (RAC2)

The DP155 2.5 litre engine was subsequently installed in works Aston Martin DB3S sports-racing car chassis ‘5’, which Reg Parnell drove to good effect in that year’s British Empire Trophy race at Oulton Park- he was third behind Archie Scott-Brown’s Lister Bristol and Ken McAlpine’s Connaught ALSR.

This prompted contemporary rumours that Aston Martin was considering an entry into Grand Prix competition. Such stories were denied but the belief that this was the case intensified when Aston Martin confirmed that Reg Parnell would race a DB3S-based single-seater car in New Zealand during the first months of 1956.

Reg had identified far-away New Zealand races as offering very useful motor racing earnings during the northern hemisphere winter, perhaps in conversation with Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze who were ‘veterans’ of the trip south to the Land of The Long White Cloud having raced there the two years before in their matched Ferrari 500’s.

The prototype DP155 was dusted off with its original drum-braked 1953 chassis and  fitted with the supercharged 3-litre engine Parnell had used with co-driver Roy Salvadori at Le Mans in 1954.

The supercharged engine then exploded while being tested by Reg at Chalgrove so DP155 was shipped ‘down under’ with a normally aspirated 2493cc engine ‘fitted with special camshafts, connecting rods and pistons’.

The British contingent to New Zealand comprised Stirling Moss, Maserati 250F, the two-amigos Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze with their Ferrari 750S engined Ferrari 500’s, Leslie Marr’s Connaught B Type Jaguar and Parnell’s Aston Martin.

Sir Leslie Marr (still alive at 97 years of age) is a landscape painter of some considerable note, it was in the formative stages of his evolution as a painter- an interest and capability he explored whilst an RAF Technician during the war, that he also raced cars, contesting amongst other events the 1954 and 1955 British Grands Prix.

Kids Jist Wanna Have Fun. In the Wellington backstreets, just unloaded off a ship and about to be sent by rail to Auckland, Ardmore. L>R Gaze HWM Jag, Whitehead Cooper Jag, McKay Aston DB3S and Moss Maserati 250F (CAN)

 

The first race of the tour was the Third New Zealand International Grand Prix at Ardmore Airfield, 25 km south-east of Auckland, in the north of NZ’s North Island.

Senior Kiwi motoring journalist Allan Dick wrote a very concise, interesting piece on the development of racing in NZ post-war in his ‘Classic Auto News’, i am going to use elements of that into this article as the history and most of the venues will be unfamiliar to many.

‘As far as can be ascertained, prewar “racing” had been confined to beaches with only one “circuit” race- the 1932 Prosperity Grand Prix run on a road circuit in the Auckland suburb of Orakei- very much a one off.’

‘While there had been motorsport and car clubs before WW2, it was when peace returned that the sport got organised…It had its roots in Dunedin, when, in 1947, Percy and Sybil Lupp and Harry Hedges formed the Otago Sports Car Club…then Harry went south and was one of the prime movers in creation of the Southland Car Club.’

‘With new clubs joining with the old it was decided to form a national umbrella body, which became the Association of New Zealand Car Clubs- the ANZCC…now MotorSport NZ.’

Allan continues, ‘With the new structure, getting circuit racing going became a priority…with no permanent racing circuit in NZ. In 1948 the Canterbury Car Club was determined to hold a race meeting…on the outskirts of Christchurch. The authorities would not approve the road closure…a deputation including Pat Hoare approached the government and approval was given for the use of Wigram Air Force base…it became a regular annual feature for decades.’

‘Inspired by this, the Manuwatu Car Club got the use of the Ohakea Air Force base and staged the first NZ GP there in 1950. In 1951 public roads were closed in Christchurch for the running of a meeting at Mairehau…so…proper circuit motor racing was now well and truly established, but these were temporary airfield or road circuits.’

‘For 1953, Mairehau, Wigram and Ohakea were joined by a fourth- a genuine inner city, “round the houses” meeting near the wharves in Dunedin.’

‘…any “international” aspect to these meetings had come from Australia, but in 1954 the whole motor racing scene shifted up several gears with the first truly international race meeting- the New Zealand International Grand Prix on the air force base at Ardmore…Now we had five race meetings annually- three airfield and two road circuits. Two in the North Island and three in the South.’

The 1954 meeting (and season) contestants included Ken Wharton’s BRM P15 V16, Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 125, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta and a swag of Australians including Stan Jones in Maybach 1, Jack Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Lex Davison’s, ex-Moss/Gaze HWM but fitted with a Jaguar XK engine instead of the F2 Alta unit and others in addition to locals.

Wigram Trophy 1954. Ken Wharton in the extraordinary BRM P15 on pole beside Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 125, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta and Fred Zambucka, Maserati 8CM. Whitehead won from Gaze and Wharton (LibNZ)

The first NZ GP at Ohakea was won by John McMillan, Jackson Ford V8 Spl in 1950, the other two events prior to 1956 were at Ardmore in 1954 and 1955 and won by Stan Jones, Maybach 1 and Bira, Maserati 250F

And so it was that our 1956 visitors looked forward to a summer of great racing with the Moss Maserati a huge drawcard and NZ GP race favourite off the back of Bira’s 250F win twelve months before.

Shipping problems with the Moss car, the two Ferrari’s and Marr’s Connaught- which were sent to Wellington rather than Auckland did not get things off to a good start. The Connaught was deep in its ships hold and had to be flown to Auckland on the eve of the race, hurriedly assembled and run without being properly prepared.

For the other visitors it was missing spares and wheels that were the issues but all was made good by the time of the race.

Moss, Whitehead and Parnell all took 2 seconds off Ken Wharton’s two year old BRM T15 V16 lap record in practice with Moss taking pole from Whitehead, Gaze, Brabham, Cooper T40 Bristol (the car in which he started his championship career during the 1955 British GP- and in which he won the Australian GP at Port Wakefield later in 1955), Ron Roycroft, Bugatti T35A Jaguar and Parnell.

Ardmore 1956 grid. Moss, Whitehead and Gaze #4 up front. Row 2 is the Roycroft Bugatti T35A Jaguar, #6 Parnell, Cooper T38 Jag, Syd Jensen, Cooper Mk9 Norton and Tom Clark, Maserati 8CM on the outside. Frank Kleinig is in the light coloured Norman Hamilton owned Porsche 550 Spyder and probably David McKay’s Aston Martin DB3S beside Kleinig and perhaps Alec Mildren’s Cooper T23 Bristol this side of the Aston (unattributed)

 

Tony Gaze Ferrari 500 chasing Leslie Marr Connaught B Type Jaguar at Ardmore during the 1956 NZ GP (Ardmore)

Reg had a fraught start to his weekend in that DP155 threw a connecting rod during the second day of practice. He was well and truly up the creek sans paddle without a spare engine but via the good graces of Peter Whitehead raced his Cooper T38 Jaguar in the race, a most sporting gesture (and the car Stan Jones acquired that summer). Click here to read about the car; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/05/mount-tarrengower-hillclimb/

Gaze led for some of the first lap but then Moss romped away for the balance of the 200 mile journey- he had lapped the field by the end of his thirty-third tour. Some late race excitement was provided when a broken fuel lead sprayed fuel into his cockpit but even after a pitstop to top up the cars fuel he won by three-quarters of a minute from Gaze, Whitehead, Marr and Parnell. Brabham didn’t start with gearbox failure- it split as he was warming it up in the paddock.

All the fun of the fair, 1957 Wigram start. The splash of colour on the front row is Ron Roycroft’s blue Ferrari 375 and the red Ferrari 555’s of Peter Whitehead, who won, and Reg Parnell. The green car on the front row left is Brabham’s Cooper T41 Climax (unattributed)

 

Reg Parnell, DP155 at Wigram (RAC1)

 

The circus then gathered at Christchurch in the north-east of the South Island for ‘The Lady Wigram Trophy’ held at the RNZAF Airbase 7km from the city on 21 January 1956.

The crew in Feltham ensured a new 2922cc engine was flown out to allow installation in DP155 in time for practice.

Moss had returned to Europe after Ardmore but his 250F was put to good use by Ross Jensen and later John Mansel for the ensuing five years or so.

NZ was to be a happy hunting ground for the Brit who won the countries premier race in 1956, 1959 aboard a Cooper T45 Climax and again in 1962 in Rob Walker’s Lotus 21 Climax not too long before his career ending Goodwood accident.

DP155 finished a distant fourth in the 71 lap Trophy race- up front Peter Whitehead was over 5 minutes ahead of the Aston hybrid- he won from pole ahead of Tony Gaze and Marr. Leslie was 1m 35secs adrift of the winning Ferrari with Syd Jensen the first NZ’er home in his Cooper Mk9 Norton 530cc.

Gaze Ferrari at the Dunedin Wharves- David McKay’s Aston DB3S at left (CAN)

 

Dunedin heat start- Gaze Ferrari left, the Arnold Stafford Cooper Mk9 Norton in the middle on pole and Roycroft’s Bugatti T35A Jag at right on the second row (unattributed)

 

Vroom-vroooom-vrooooooom. I can hear the sharp, staccato bark of the 3 litre four as Tony Gaze warms up 500/5 at Dunedin- then the Parnell Aston DP155 and an Aston DB3S (unattributed)

 

Syd Jensen, Cooper Mk9 Norton on pole for the feature race alongside Gaze’ Ferrari 500 (TA Thompson)

From there the circus travelled south, still on the South Island to the Otago Harbour city of Dunedin for the ‘NZ Championship Road Race’ on 28 January.

The event of 120 km was 44 laps of 2.74 km around the Dunedin ‘Wharf’ Circuit. Not everyone liked the place as the surface was rough and tough and included a section with a gravel surface.

Syd Jensen’s nimble, fast, Cooper Mk9 Norton started from pole with Gaze and Arnold Stafford in a similar Cooper on the outside of the front row. Marr, Parnell and Whitehead were back on row 3- Kiwis Ron Roycroft Bugatti T35A Jaguar 3442cc, Ron Frost, Cooper Mk9 Norton and Tom Clark, Maserati 8CM were on row 2.

Jensen set the crowd afire in the little Cooper harrying the bigger cars finishing third overall and setting the fastest lap of the race.

Gaze won from Parnell, Jensen, Whitehead and Tom Clark. Marr started the race, did one lap to get his staring money and then retired, not impressed with the place at all, with the other overseas drivers complaining that they were unused to driving on a metalled surface where some sections of the track were unsealed.

 

Parnell head down, bum up whilst Peter and Tony contemplate a post loading cool bevvy. Aston DP155/1 in all of its glory nicely juxtaposed by the industrial surrounds (T Selfe)

Immediately after the Dunedin race these amazing photographs were taken by Tony Selfe of Parnell, Whitehead and Gaze loading their exotic racers onto a low-load railway truck for transport to the next round they were to contest at Ryal Bush, 20 km north of Invercargill, at the very south of the South Island.

Parnell is still ‘suited up’ in his racing kit, the intrepid competitors in the DIY style of the day have helped Tony sip the victory champagne or beer and then taken their machines straight to the adjoining railyards for the Dunedin-Invercargill trip. That chain looks a very butch way to attach the light, alloy Ferrari to the flat rail-car.

Next up is Whitehead’s Ferrari- Peter steering, Tony rear left and Reg at right (T Selfe)

The visitors missed the 4 February South Island Championship at Mairehau but were at Ryal Bush the week later, 4 February for the First ‘Southland Road Race’, a 240 km race- 41 laps of a 5.87 km road course.

Back to Allan Dick’s history lesson on the evolution of NZ circuits.

‘To the farthest south, Invercargill motor racing enthusiasts looked north, and, as one of the founding members of the ANZCC felt it was their duty to join the motor racing scene and they eyed a vacant bit of land on the outskirts of Invercargill on which to build a permanent circuit, but they lacked funds.’

‘But 1956 was Southland’s Centennial Year so it was decided to hold a race meeting on a road circuit to get the sport established and help raise funds. Unlike their Dunedin cousins, the Southlanders opted for a country circuit rather than a city one after plans to close roads around Queens Park failed…they moved into the country and closed three roads around the small settlement of Ryal Bush which included a section of the main road to Queenstown.’

Whitehead was on pole from Marr, Gaze, Clark and John Horton in an HWM Alta 1960cc s/c (ex-works/Gaze) whilst Reg was back on row 3 in the Aston on the stretch of road being used for racing for the first time.

Dick describes the place as ‘…the Reims of NZ- three long straights with three tight corners and high speeds…But unlike Reims, Ryal Bush was narrow and lined with lamp-posts, hedges, ditches, drains and fences. Average speeds were around 150km/h, making it the fastest circuit in New Zealand.’

Given the vast European experience of Whitehead, Gaze and Parnell they should have felt right at home!

(CAN)

Allan writes of the photo above, ‘Photographs of this era are rare. Photographs from Ryal Bush are even more rare. The starters flag has just dropped and the cars are away with a very clear indication of just how narrow the roads were…take your time and drink in the details.’

‘Car #3 is the Ferrari of Peter Whitehead and the Streamliner is Leslie Marr’s Connaught. Car #4 on the second row is Tony Gaze and the antique looking car is Tom Clark in the pre-war Maserati 8CM. Clark had picked and chosen his races this season. Behind Clark is John Horton in the HWM Alta and alongside him is Frank Shuter in the Edelbrock Special.’

‘Also in the photograph can be seen the white Austin Healey 100S of Ross Jensen, the black 100S of Bernie Gillier and the Bugatti Jaguar of Ron Roycroft.’

‘I think it may well have been the start of a heat as there were several other cars entered that aren’t there- including Parnell in the Aston Martin, the Australian Aston Martins (Tom Sulman and David McKay), Pat Hoare’s 4CLT Maserati, Bill Crosbie’s local special and Bruce Monk in the advanced JBM Ford.’

Peter Whitehead won in 1 hour 35 minutes from Gaze, Parnell, Roycroft and Frank Shuter, Cadillac Spl V8 5200cc. Marr retired after an accident on the first lap.

The meeting was a huge success with plenty of money made, preliminary work began on what became Teretonga, its first meeting was in November 1957.

Peter Whitehead, perhaps, in front of Leslie Marr, Connaught at Ryal Bush in 1956- note the row of haybales in front of the wire farm fence and extensive crowd (Southland Times)

 

Parnell in NZ 1956, Aston DP155 circuit unknown (S Dalton)

 

Ryal Bush entry list

Peter Whitehead was complimentary about the meeting in an interview with ‘The Southland Times’, quipping ‘We’ll be back next year- if they will have us’- he was too, he won the race in his Ferrari 555 from Parnell’s similar machine.

Peter had some suggestions about how to improve things, these extended to shifting the pits to a slower section of road and that the corners be concreted, apart from that he ‘spoke highly of the race, its organisation and the favourable report he was going to give to the Royal Automobile Club in London.’

The visitors missed the season ending Ohakea Trophy at the airfield of the same name on 3 March, shipping their cars back to Europe- not so Tony Gaze mind you, he sold both the HWM Jaguar sports and the Ferrari 500 to Lex Davison who would also do rather well in the years to come with the ex-Ascari chassis- the 1956 and 1957 Australian Grands Prix amongst its many victories.

Before leaving New Zealand the visitors indulged in some deep sea fishing out of The Bay of Islands for a week before heading home. ‘Whitehead is headed for South Africa, and two important international races, including the South African Grand Prix at Johannesburg- he won the event last year. (he won the 24 March Rand GP in March 1956 too aboard the Ferrari 500) Mr Parnell’s next important engagement is the 12 Hour Sebring race in the United States’ the report concluded.

Parnell continued as a works-Aston Martin driver with DP155/1 put in a corner of the Feltham race shop until it was sold to ‘inveterate specials builder’ and entrant of the RRA (Richardson Racing Automobiles) Specials, Geoff Richardson, who fitted it with a 2.5 litre single-plug engine.

Richardson told Anthony Pritchard ‘I paid about 900 pounds for it and it proved a great source of annoyance to me because John Wyer guaranteed when I bought it that it gave 190bhp. I put the engine on my test bed and got 145/146bhp- Wyer had a twin-plug engine but he wouldn’t sell it to me, I never spoke to him again. I made up a 2483cc Jaguar XK engine for it and got nearly 200bhp on pump fuel.’

Geoff Richardson in DP155/RRA Spl at Snetterton in 1957 (Autosport)

 

DP155/RRA Special circa 1961 at left and in the early 1970’s at right. Note RRA badge on grille at left, wider wheels and tyres at right (AMOC Register/HAR)

Richardson only raced the car twice before buying an ex-works Connaught B Type and therefore decided to sell it. At the request of David Gossage, the new owner, Richardson rebuilt it in 1957 as a sportscar fitted with the body from the Lord O’Neill DB3S/105- modified at the front with a simple oval radiator intake, it was registered UK ‘UUY504’.

Gossage sold it to a hotelier, Greville Edwards, who had a bad accident in it in which his girlfriend was killed.

Richardson then re-acquired the car and built a replacement chassis using ‘main tubes supplied by Aston Martin’ said Geoff- and further modified it in the rebuild by replacing the torsion bar rear suspension with coil/spring damper units and fitted the de Dion axle with a Watts linkage in place of the sliding guide, also fitted was a Salisbury ‘slippery diff. He modified the nose to make the machine more aerodynamic and finessed a 3 litre crank into a 2.4 litre Jag XK block to give a capacity of about 3.2 litres.

Geoff and his wife ran it in a few sprints and on the road before its sale in 1973. Richard Bell restored the car to original DB3S shape and built a twin-plug engine of correct spec, then the car passed through a couple of sets of hands before being modified to 1955 team car configuration by Roos Engineering in Berne.

The last reported owner is in Tennessee…whilst the line of provenance is clearish the car in the US is quite different to the one Parnell, Gaze and Whitehead loaded onto a train on that gloomy Dunedin evening in February 1956!

DP155 via RRA via DB3S/105 body in 1988 and referred to as chassis 131-DB135 registered UUY504

 

Etcetera…

 

Reg Parnell in Peter Whitehead’s Cooper T38 Jaguar at Ardmore during the 1956 NZ GP (sergent.com)

 

Ryal Bush program signed by Whitehead, Marr, Gaze and Parnell.

 

Gaze’s Ferrari 500 in the Dunedin railyards 1956 (T Selfe)

 

Tom Clark’s Maserati 8CM, Dunedin 1956 (CAN)

Photo and Reference Credits…

Tony Selfe, ‘Aston Martin: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, Allan Dick and ‘Classic Auto News’ July 2016 post on Ryal Bush, ‘Hissing Cobra’ by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas on 8WForix, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, sergent.com, Aston Martin DP155 thread on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, Stephen Dalton Collection, Aston Martin Owners Club, The Southland Times, TA Thompson, astonuts.free.fr, Graham Woods Collection

Tailpieces…

(T Selfe)

A crop of the opening shot, Aston Martin DP155 being washed at Dunedin in February 1956, maybe one of you proficient in Photoshop can sharpen it up a bit.

Its just a footnote in motor racing history, but quite an interesting one all the same. It is a shame it lost its single-seater identity, what interest it would create had it survived in ‘original’ specification today.

And below, Reg at Wigram.

(unattributed)

Finito…

(B Miles)

Arnold Glass blasts his Maserati 250F out of Quarry Bend, Bathurst, Easter 1960…

The Sydney motor dealer and later Datsun importer loved this machine and its forgiving nature. Arguably it was the car with which he achieved his best results even if it was becoming a little passe by the time he got his hands on it in 1959.

He finished second in the ‘Bathurst 100’ Gold Star round behind Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati and ahead of Bill Patterson in another Coventry Climax engined T51.

I’ve written a story about Arnold, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

This machine, chassis ‘2516’ was Jean Behra’s works car throughout 1955 before being imported to Australia by Reg Hunt as a replacement for the 250F engined A6GCM Maserati with which he achieved much in 1955. Hunt didn’t race the 250F for long before retirement at a way too an young age to take on his family responsibilities and a growing automotive empire based in Melbourne’s Elsternwick. Here is a piece about the A6GCM; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/12/hunts-gp-maser-a6gcm-2038/

and Reg; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

Bib Stillwell raced ‘2516’ in 1957 on his inexorable rise to the top of Australian racing and then Arnold acquired it competing into ‘into the Cooper era’ when he too acquired a T51. ‘2516’ inevitably, sadly, ended up back in Europe, none of ‘our’ Maser 250F’s survived here into the modern era

Credits…

Bill Miles, Rob Hartnett

Tailpiece: Bathurst pits, warming her up…

(Rob Hartnett)

Finito…

JMF trying to stay warm at chilly Silverstone, 5 October 1970…

In this day and age of every Tom, Dick and Irving recording their every exploit from the bedroom to the mountain top it’s instructive to look at just how far we have come in camera packaging over four decades or so.

Patrice Pouget is just about to shoot some action footage from a precariously mounted camera atop the svelte tail of a Maserati 250F for a documentary on the great mans life. ‘Fangio’, directed by Hugh Hudson and narrated by the champ himself was released in 1971. The car is ‘2516’, originally a 1955 ex-works car raced mainly by Jean Behra and then sold to Australian Reg Hunt and raced in turn by Bib Stillwell and Arnold Glass before returning to Europe in the sixties and Historic Racing.

I must watch it.

Credit…

Terry Disney

Tailpiece…

 

(unattributed)

‘It is not common for racing cars to be photographed from the rear- more usually from the side or front.
Here are a few rear views (or views of rears) from my archives’ – Bob.
Jack Saywell, above, in his only appearance at Bathurst in his 2.9 Alfa Romeo P3, Easter 1939.
He could do no better than 6th when his engine was reluctant to start after a pitstop to adjust the brakes. The photo below is from ‘The Magnificent Monopostos’ by Simon Moore- this pitstop one of several during the very hot 1939 AGP at Lobethal, the heat caused major tyre problems for the heavier cars which did not afflict winner Allan Tomlinson’s nimble, light MG TA Spl s/c, Jack was 6th again.

(GP Library)

My anal side, not dominant at all in normal life kicks in with a wonderful selection like this- I feel the need to pop in chassis numbers where I can- but I am going to resist given the time required to do so! Good ole Google works pretty well- ‘Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo P3 chassis number’ will give you anoraks a path to finding what you want, otherwise just enjoy these magnificent photographs from Bob’s archive, Mark.

(unattributed)

Paul Swedberg drove John Snow’s Delahaye 135CS to 2nd place at the Bathurst 1939 meeting, in John’s absence overseas. Paul’s own Offenhauser Midget, in which he was virtually unbeatable on the on speedways, was not entered.

(unattributed)

Ted McKinnon finished 13th in the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in his Maserati 6CM. Doug Whiteford won that day aboard the first of his two Talbot-Lago T23C’s.

(S Wills)

An unknown car exhibiting the disadvantages of a swing rear axle system. Something tells me that this is DW Stephenson in his DWS? Templestowe Hillclimb in outer eastern Melbourne, September 1954.

(S Wills)

Maserati’s chief mechanic Guerino Bertocchi is leaning into the cockpit of Moss’ victorious Maserati 250F at Albert Park during the AGP weekend in 1956.
Having debuted as a riding mechanic with Alfieri Maserati in the 1926 Targa Florio and subsequently being riding mechanic in thirteen Mille Miglias as well as the 12 Hour of Pescara, it has always saddened me that he should die in 1981 as a passenger to an American during a trial drive of a modern Maserati. Car enthusiast Peter Ustinov told an amusing story concerning Bertocchi. Guerino delivered a new Maserati road car to Ustinov in Switzerland and said to Peter “I don’t know who you are Senor Ustinov, but you must be important to have me, Bertocchi, delivering your car”.

(S Wills)

Reg Parnell enters Jaguar corner in his Ferrari Super Squalo during the same wonderful 1956 AGP weekend.
The 30mph sign would not have deterred him. It also serves to remind us that ridiculous speed limits are not a new phenomenon – this sign was at the start of Albert Park’s main straight.

(S Wills)

This photograph shows the large SU required to feed the highly modified supercharged Vincent engine in Lex Davison’s Cooper. Phil Irving was the designer and the modifier of this motor – still labelled H.R.D on its timing cover. Templestowe 1957.

(S Wills)

Stirling Moss in the Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre, Melbourne Grand Prix, Albert Park, November 1958.
This photograph is taken during practice – the race was held on a hot day and the Cooper was denuded of much of its rear body work in an endeavour to keep the driver cool. The long shadows show that the photograph was taken in the early morning – I seem to recall that practice was at 6.30am.

In spite of the hour, note the huge crowd at Jaguar corner. In a previous post I have mentioned that Moss really only showed his sublime skill during the 1956 AGP when it began to rain with just six laps to go. On this morning Stirling was struggling with locking brakes and again demonstrated phenomenal car control – I was crowd marshalling at about the point from where this photograph was taken.

(S Wills)

Almost a rear view – note the missing engine cover to cope with the heat. Moss won the 32 lap, 100 mile race from Jack Brabham’s similar Cooper T45 Climax FPF, Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Bib Stillwell’s Maserati 250F.

Sadly this was the last race meeting at the ‘Park until the modern AGP era.

(S Wills)

Len Lukey (5th) in the Lukey Bristol tailing Bib Stilwell in the 250F Maserati through Jaguar corner in 1958.

(S Wills)

Ted Gray in the Tornado 2 Chev- again at Albert Park of course in 1958, Ted retired the Lou Abrahams car after completing only 4 laps.

(S Wills)

Len Lukey in the eponymous Lukey Bristol at Templestowe 23/3/1958 – or was it still called the Cooper T23 Bristol until it got its Vanwall inspired body?

(S Wills)

JW Philip in an Austin Healey at Templestowe on 20/04/1958. We know nothing of this car and driver.

(S Wills)

Jack French in a  Cooper Norton of only 499cc, but still good enough to break the magic (to me) 30 seconds. His time 28.15 Rob Roy, 1959. Coopers with various power plants were ‘King of the Hills’ in those days.

(S Wills)

At Templestowe in 1958; Bruce Walton in his Walton Cooper. Six times Australian Hillclimb Champion from 1958 to 1963.

(N Hammond)

And lastly, me at Rob Roy in my Type 35 Bugatti in 2008.
Credits…
Bob King Collection
References: ‘AGP – Howard et al’, Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing John Medley, ‘ The Magnificient Monopostos’. Simon Moore. ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand, 1920-2012. King and McGann
Tailpiece: Spiro (Steve) Chillianis, Rob Roy 1960, with some work to do …

(S Wills)

Car is the ex-Eddie Perkins rear engined Lancia Lambda Special, now fitted with an Austin A70 engine, or should we say ‘was fitted’. He recorded a time of 80.88 seconds- perhaps the ambulance broke the timing strip?
Finito…

(B Young)

Stan Jones, Maser 250F and Bib Stillwell Cooper T43 Climax joust into Mountford Corner during the 1958 ‘Longford Trophy’ Gold Star round, 3 March…

It was the first time the great Tasmanian circuit hosted a round of the national drivers championship, the locals turned out in droves, including enthusiast/photographer Bob Young who took these remarkable, crisp oh-so-clear, evocative photographs.

Colour photos of this quality are so rare of Australian racing then. Each one in some ways deserves to be posted on its own but in the end I decided it was better to do a short article around them as a group. They are not the only shots he took on the day mind you- others have already been posted on the Historic Racing Car Club of Tassie Facebook page and filched by me! See the links at the articles end to view some of them.

I wonder whether Stan is having a shot down the outside of Bib or is Bib plunging down the tiny- but just big enough gap Jones left for his fellow Melbourne motor dealer buddy/competitor. Whatever the case, i suspect Stan The Man- and he was very much one of them at the time, gathered Bib up on the long run out of the tight right-hander, gently rising and then steeper towards the Water Tower- 2.5 litres of Maser six having a bit more grunt than a 1.7 litre Climax FWA four.

 

Otto Stone steering, Stan and John Sawyer, 250F, Longford 1958. Racer/engineer Stone’s counsel and car preparation were key factors, with perhaps Jones growing maturity as a driver, in Stan’s well deserved success. Pirelli Stelvio tyres BTW- photo is that sharp! It’s early in the weekend, the team have not applied the real race number decals to the car yet (B Young)

 

Bib sold his ex-Hunt 250F to Arnold Glass and jumped into the first of many water-cooled Coopers with the T43 (F2/9/57 according to John Blanden) whereas Stan, who changed racing cars more often than he did his Jocks- and had a long history of Cooper air-cooled and T23 experience, hung onto the 250F (chassis ‘2520’) and profited from the decision rather than jump into a Cooper just then. He did of course buy T51’s in time, with which he was very fast.

Stan won the 1958 Gold Star with two victories at Fishermans Bend and Phillip Island- book-ending his season with wins and returned to Longford twelve months hence and finally won the AGP he so richly deserved aboard the 250F from Len Lukey.

By that stage Lukey had switched from the Cooper T23 Bristol shown below to an ex-Brabham Cooper T45 Climax Jack raced in Australasia in late 1958 and over the summer races of 1959 before heading back to the UK and a World Championship aboard factory Cooper T51’s.

 

Len jumped from Ford Customline Touring Cars into this Cooper Bristol and an evolved Lukey Bristol in a relatively too brief racing career, his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business funded his racing efforts- he was a friend to motor racing via Phillip Island and other means for the rest of his life. Another mighty shot, Len has just started his turn-in to Mountford, car looks just superb, as indeed it was-well prepared and driven (B Young)

 

Lukey’s Cooper Bristol was the ex-Tom Cole-Reg Hunt-Kevin Neal machine, chassis ‘CBR/2/9/53’ with which he did so well in 1957-8, but the reality was the car wasn’t an outright winner, hence the upgrade to the then, very much latest available, Cooper T45. With this he pursued Gold Star 1959 success in a year of speed, consistency, good preparation and perseverance- at twelve rounds it was the longest ever Gold Star championship.

Late in its ‘in period’ Australian life the front engined T23 was fitted, as all of the Australian Cooper Bristols were, with a Holden ‘grey’-six or Chev small-block V8, in the case of this car a Holden engine. The racer eventually passed to the Donington Collection in the early seventies and later still back into private hands.

 

The Man in Red- Lukey nattily dressed with his wife holding a serious camera. Long chromed exhaust said to be unique to this ex-Cole-Gibson-Hunt-Neal-Lukey et al car (B Young)

 

There is little doubt a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered Cooper would have very comfortably won the 1959 AGP and Gold Star but them things were like hens teeth- 2.5 FPF’s were issued only to works and favoured teams in Grand Prix racing until the Climax lads could keep pace with global demand which in practical terms meant during 1960.

Ted Gray won the Longford Trophy on this clear but chilly Tasmanian weekend, to have heard the big, booming fuel-injected Chev V8 engined Tornado blasting its way around Longford would have been really something!  This car does sound just like an F5000, imagine that in 1958!

It’s showtime. Raceday. Just love this shot, atmosphere plus.

Len Lukey’s and Lou Abrahams’ boys push their steeds to the form-up area. That beautiful, clever beastie to the left is Tornado 2 Chev 283, the yellow Cooper in the background is Aussie Millers T41. Note the Repco service van- its chilly too, 3 March is still summer’ish but most of the chaps are well rugged up against Tasmanian cool.

 

(HRCCT)

 

Business end of the Tornado 2 Chev in the Longford paddock. GM Corvette ‘small block’ 283 CID V8 with lots of goodies from the US including Vertex magneto and home grown fuel injection using some Hilborn Travers components, circa 380bhp (B Young)

 

As you would have surmised from the foregoing descriptions of the cars, Australian National F1 at the time (until the end of 1963) was run to Formula Libre, hence the presence of Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maserati 300S below.

I have bemoaned the fact that Doug bought a sportscar from the Officine Maserati team at the end of the 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park, rather than one of the three 250F’s they had with them.

Whilst Douggie was no spring-chookin’ by then- he started racing pre-War and won his first AGP aboard his Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’ back in 1950, he still would have given his contemporaries a serious run for their money in his always beautifully prepared and driven cars.

Doug sold this car in the early-sixties to Bill Leech, the racer and pillar of the Victorian Light Car Club who used the car both on the road- it was a familiar sight on Beach Road jaunts from Brighton, and at historic meetings in the early years of such racing in Australia. It was a sad day when this ‘mobile Monet’ left our shores.

 

Ooh-la-la. Sex on wheels and what a backdrop- the vivid red Maser 300S ‘3055’ contrasted against the dark shadows and green Mountford Pine- it’s still there by the way (B Young)

 

It was another batch of Bob Young’s photos which inspired an article I wrote a little while back on Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder, which on this weekend was driven by Melbourne Hillclimb ace Bruce Walton in the sportscar events.

 

(B Young)

The photo below is of the A Edison entered 1250cc MG TF Spl- I know nothing about the car or driver, who can fill us in?

 

(B Young)

 

Article Links…

Longford Trophy and Tornados; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Porsche 550 Speedster; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

Longford in detail; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

Stan Jones; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Doug Whiteford; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/05/doug-whiteford-black-bess-woodside-south-australia-1949/

Etcetera…

 

(B Young)

Constabulary ensuring the Course Car- Clerk of The Course perhaps, leaves the circuit to make way for the racers.

 

(B Young)

Paddock scene may be the 1959 AGP meeting.

 

(L Lukey)

The Lukey Cooper Bristol again.

 

Credits…

Bob Young on Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania Facebook page, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

 

(B Young)

 

Tailpiece: The ‘Tasmanian Tyre Service’ Handicap…

It’s a bit of a puzzling photo really- the handicap grid sort of makes sense but Doug Whiteford belongs up the back with Stan as ‘scratch- men’ rather than at front left. John Youl’s red Porsche 356 stands out, other drivers and cars folks?

By the way, they are in the original starting line area, on The Flying Mile, just a way back from Mountford Corner, clearly Bob Young stuck to this part of the track and the paddock- to the right of the racing cars.

 

Cropped version of the above photo, the focus Stanley, ‘2520’ and the lads (B Young)

John Sawyer is leaning on the tail, Otto Stone is on the right approaching, Stan readies himself in the cockpit, I wonder who the fella in the neato Maserati overalls is, and in the MG TF up the road to the right is Charles Button, still active in the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania today Grant Twining tells me.

 

 

 

Finito…

(S Wills)

Stirling Moss was at his impeccable best in his works Maserati 250F in winning the 1956 Australian Grand Prix held over 250 miles at Albert Park, 2 December 1956…

With six laps remaining it suddenly rained and it was only then we saw what a true master Moss was- controlling his slipping and sliding car on the treacherous track with sublime skill.

Stirling is probably being interviewed by a journalist, or perhaps he is attending to an autograph? Known for his love of sleek cars, it is said he was not averse to sleek women. We think the young lady at right is his current friend. Does anyone have any clues as to her identity? What about the Moss wrist-watch, a distinctive part of his race apparel at the time- can any of you horologists advise us of make and model?

In the photograph below he may have been telling Reg Hunt, fourth and first local home in his 250F, how easy it was. Reg is already in street attire whilst Moss has not had a chance to change. We know the curly, dark headed boy is John Calligari, but who is the partially obscured driver on Reg’s left?

Look at all the boys, young and old, their eyes riveted on the man of the moment, or more particularly one of the two men of the era…

(S Wills)

Regular readers may recall the first of racer, restorer and author Bob King’s ‘Words from Werrangourt’ article a month ago. Bob has amassed an immense collection of photographs in sixty years of intense interest in motorsport which he is keen to share.

My traditional Sunday offering is a ‘quickie’- a few words and an image or two. This format will be used to gradually get the work of some wonderful photographers ‘out there’- fear not, there is enough to keep us going for a decade or so. And many thanks to Dr Bob!

Feature on the ’56 AGP…

https://primotipo.com/2016/12/27/moss-at-albert-park/

Credits…

Bob King Collection- photographer Spencer Wills

Finito…