Posts Tagged ‘Paul England’

Repco Record NZ

The one and only ‘Repco Record’ in surreal surroundings, the Wairakei geothermal field near Taupo in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island in 1959…

After the end of Maybach’s useful life, the racing brainchild of Charlie Dean well covered in my article on Stan Jones, the talented Repco Engineer looked for a new project. https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Dean, Head of Repco Research, the large transnationals ‘Skunkworks’ turned his attention to the creation of a road car which would form a test bed for the companies products, a promotional tool and an expression of Repco’s innovative capabilities.

Dean recruited Tom Molnar (Chief Engineer of Patons Brakes) and Wally Hill (Repco Research) to assist with development of the car; Molnar with its engineering and brakes, Hill built the body with some assistance from Bob Baker to Deans design, a process completed in Dean’s spare time at his Kew, Melbourne kitchen table!

The cars construction took 4 years, the yellow coupe made its debut at the 1959 Melbourne Motor Show, where it was ‘The Starlet’ painted a distinctive shade of yellow.

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The ‘Repco Experimental Car’ as it was then unimaginatively called was a mobile test bed designed to trial the groups products, but that didn’t stop contemporary reports speculating about series production. In the context of its time it was a highly specified, comfortable high speed car of potentially modest cost using largely production based components.

When originally built it was fitted with a Ford Zephyr engine with a Raymond Mays cylinder head Dean bought to fit to his company car, and an MG TC gearbox. A Holden engine was slotted in when the Repco ‘Hi-Power’ head was developed, a David Brown Aston Martin ‘box replaced the MG unit at the same time.

‘Sports Car Worlds’ Peter Costigan tested the Record with Dean on board and raved about its comfort, performance, roadholding and handling. Less impressive was the David Brown ‘box and brakes which faded after repeated high speed applications. The car cruised comfortably at 100mph with a top speed of 120 mph, the Repco modded Holden engine in ‘touring tune’. Heavier shocks, improved brakes and an oil cooler were suggested improvements.

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Repco shot with the car posed in front of Repco Research’ new home in Dandenong, Victoria. Late 50’s. (Repco/From Maybach to Holden)

The pretty Coupe was used during the filming of ‘On The Beach’, a Hollywood movie shot in Australia featuring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire during 1959.The film was based on a novel by British/Australian author Nevil Shute.

The car was one of several used in the productions racing scenes filmed at Phillip Island. It was during breaks in filming that SCW magazine drove the car, it was about this time someone dubbed the car ‘Repco Record’ a name never officially endorsed by Repco but an appellation which stuck!

Repco SCW 03

Repco ‘Hi-Power’ headed Holden ‘Grey Motor’ 2.3 litre OHV 6 cylinder, cross-flow engine fed by 2 Weber carbs. Circa 133 bhp with a ‘cooking cam’ and extractors. (SCW Magazine)

After testing of various Repco subsidiary components and the changing of the cars livery and especially rear window treatment the Record was sold after a few years into private hands, it is still in Australia, last sold several years ago and pops up occasionally at historic events.

Repco Record 2014 PI

Contemporary shot of the Repco Record at Phillip Island in 2014, changed frontal treatment not for the better. (Stephen Dalton)

Specifications…

The Record used the then contemporary (1948-1962) Holden 6 cylinder ‘Grey Motor’ bored to 2360cc. It featured a cast iron block, 4 bearing crank fitted with Repco Hi-Power crossflow, OHV semi-hemispherical cylinder head, 2 Weber 36 DCLD7 downdraught carburettors. On a compression ratio of 8.7:1. the engine developed circa 133bhp@5500 rpm and 141lbs/ft of torque@4000 RPM. For more on the Repco Hi-Power head see the separate section below.

The chassis was of integral construction with a tubular backbone, the steel body was welded to the frame to provide stiffness.

Suspension comprised modified Holden components; wishbones, coil springs and telescopic dampers at the front. At the rear a Holden live axle, quarter elliptic leaf springs and telescopic dampers was used. Rear axle was ENV spiral bevel, its ratio 3.66:1, Gearbox was a David Brown 4 speed manual with synchromesh.

Brakes were hydraulic drums front and rear with a Repco PBR booster, Steering by recirculating ball. Tyres: 6.40-13 on steel wheels

Fuel Capacity: 42 litres (9.5 gal) Height: 1320 mm (52 in) Length: 3810 mm (150 in) Weight: 1018 kg (2240 lbs) Wheel Base: 2286 mm (90 in)

Max. Speed: 120 m.p.h. (1st gear: 48 m.p.h., 2nd gear: 66 m.p.h., 3rd gear: 98 m.p.h., 4th gear: 120 m.p.h.) Acceleration: 0-60 m.p.h. in 10.5 secs. 0-100 m.p.h. in 21.2 secs. Standing quarter mile: 17.2 secs.

Repco AMS annual advert

Repco Record contemporary press ad. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

repco high power

Repco Hi-Power headed Holden engine complete with optional aluminium rocker cover. Engine variously named ‘HighPower’ ‘Hypower’ and ‘Hi-Power’ the latter the name it was finally marketed as…notwithstanding the name on the rocker cover! (Maybach to Holden)

Repco Hi-Power Head…

All countries have production car engines which, with tuning provide a staple for road going sedans, racing or sportscars, sometimes all three!

The BMC ‘A and B Series’, Ford 105E through Kent engines, the small block Chev and Ford V8’s and more recently Ford Zetec and Toyota 4AGE engines spring to mind. In Australia the Holden ‘Grey’ and ‘Red’ 6 cylinder engines were the tuners weapon of choice for 2 decades starting in the early ’50’s.

Repco were active in racing throughout this period, largely starting with the efforts of Charlie Dean and his Repco Research colleagues based in their Sydney Road, Brunswick, inner Melbourne base.

Phil Irving of Vincent and Repco Brabham RB620 Engine fame, his exploits well covered in the articles I have written about the 1966 World Championship wins by Brabham and Repco, designed the ‘Hi-Power’ cylinder head to meet market needs and exploit the knowledge Repco had gained about improving the performance of Holden’s 2200cc, 6 cylinder, iron, 4 bearing, OHV engine which in standard tune gave, according to Irving, a claimed and real 62 BHP at 4000 rpm. Click here for an article about Irving’s 1966 F1 Championship Winning Repco engine;

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

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Contemporary ‘horsepower press’ ad from ‘Wheels’ magazine July 1962 edition. (Wheels)

Irving, a noted author himself wrote about the Repco head in Barry Lake’s late, lamented and sadly shortlived ‘Cars and Drivers’ magazine in 1977, this piece is based on Irving’s article, the quotes are just that…

Irving’s simple proposal to Dean was to design a head which would increase the engines power, Dean agreed on the basis that the design be interchangeable with the original head, inexpensive and simple enough to be machined with little or no special equipment. In effect this precluded the head being made of aluminium so cast iron it was.

‘The valves were arranged in two rows with the 1.375 inch exhaust valves vertical and on the near side, while the inlets were inclined at 25 degrees on the opposite side, their heads being 1.56 inches in diameter’.

‘The 6 circular exhaust ports were short and direct, while the rectangular shaped inlets were arranged in two groups of 3, springing from the 2 galleries, these formed partly in the head and partly in the manifolds. The manifolds were simple open sided castings, made in several types to suit vertical or horizontal carburettors’.

The pressed steel side plates were replaced by an aluminium plate. ‘This feature enabled the head to be widened to give room for desirably long inlet ports and inclined rockers which oscillated on a hollow bar… Another bar carried the exhaust rockers, both bars mounted to pedestals integral to the head and thus free from flexure under load.’

Cost pressures meant the rockers were made of nodular iron, hardened locally and proved failure free.

Most of the development work was done by Repco subsidiaries; Warren and Brown the patterns, Russell foundry the head castings, Brenco the heavy milling and Repco Research the final machining.

‘There was no fancy work done on the ports, the first head was slapped on an FE Holden engine that was fired up in the middle of the night…after playing about with jet sizes and ignition settings we obtained 85bhp with a single Holden carburettor on a mocked up manifold’

‘The compression ratio was only 7.5:1 to suit the 90 octane fuel of the day which most people today (1977 at the time of writing) wouldn’t even put in their lawn mowers!’

‘It was an encouraging start with 100bhp, it was enough to push a road car along at over the ton…but more was needed for serious racing…which wasn’t difficult to get by changing camshafts, raising the compression ratio and boring .125 oversize…with each carburettor supplying 3 cylinders it was discovered the induction system came into resonance at around 4000rpm’.

irving and england

Ropey shot of Phil Irving and Paul England, ‘Racers’ in thought word and deed both! They are fettling the first Hi-Power head on the Russell Manufacturing Co dyno, Richmond, Melbourne. This was the same cell in which the first RB620 F1/Tasman engine burst into life in 1965. This first head was fitted to England’s Ausca sportscar, the car very successful, a car i must write about. (P Irving/Cars and Drivers magazine)

The bolt on kit was priced at £150, a fully rebuilt engine with camshafts and carburettors of the clients choice was £450. ‘The most popular choice was the 140bhp version with 2 double choke progressive Weber down-draft carburettors which gave a road speed (in a Holden sedan with three ‘on the tree’ speed gearbox) of 114mph’.

‘The harmonic balancer was the weak link with bad, critical oscillations at 6200rpm…crankshafts were prone to break if run consistently near 6200rpm…’

103 heads were made most going into road cars or speed boats ‘In a couple of seasons Hi-Power heads just about dominated sedan racing with drivers like John French, the Geoghegans, Stan Jones, Bob Holden and Ray Long on top of the pile’. Lou Molina fitted one to his MM Sportscar, (later supercharging the engine), Tom Hawkes to his Cooper in place of the Bristol original for a while holding the Phillip Island lap record together with Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625.

‘General Motors failed to evince any interest in our design which would have kept them ahead of the game for years…The end of the engine was hastened by the advent of big V8’s…and by a change in (racing) regulations which prohibited replacing the heads on production cars’.

hi power engine design

Phil Irving’s drawing of a cross section of his Repco Hi-Power head, his notes self explanatory. (P Irving/Cars and Drivers magazine)

Etcetera…

record 2

The Record worked hard as test bench, promotional tool and ‘function starlet’, here at such a function. The controversial and ever evolving rear fin is well shown in this shot. In the context of its time, an attractive car, front on view arguably its best angle? (Repco/From Maybach to Holden)

hi power ad

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‘Repco Record’ at the Phillip Island Classic in 2008. Front treatment has changed along the way, not for the better! (Dick Willis)

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Repco Hi-Power head and related parts price list 1956. (From Maybach to Holden)

Credits…

Stephen Dalton and his collection for the provision of ‘Sports Car World’ March 1960, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ May 1959 and ‘Modern Motor’ January 1960 as reference sources, Dick Willis, ‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, ‘Cars and Drivers’ Magazine Number 2 1977 Phil Irving Repco Hi-Power head article.

Finito…

oz miller cooper tas hillclimb

(Guy Miller)

‘Austin Cooper always drove with enthusiasm’, here it’s written all over his face as he extracts all his Cooper T41 Climax has to offer on the way to achieving FTD…

The quote is attributed to noted Australian Historian John Blanden, this car one of 6 T41’s built for F2 racing in 1956. Chassis F2-2-56 fitted with a 1.5 litre SOHC Coventry Climax FWB engine was raced with some success by Ken Wharton before being shipped to Australia together with his Ferrari 750 Monza and Maserati 250F for the ‘Olympic Grand Prix’ meeting at Albert Park in 1956.

It was later taken to NZ for the 1957 GP meeting at Ardmore, near Auckland where Wharton was tragically killed in the sports car support event when his Monza rolled.

The car returned to the UK and was acquired from The Wharton Estate by roving Aussie engineer/racer Paul England on a racing holiday. He contested F2 events at Snetterton and Mallory Park as well as the 1957 German GP at the Nurburgring.

paul england nurburgring 1957

Paul England contesting the 1957 German GP, Nurburgring in the Cooper T41. DNF. England was a Repco trained engineer, builder of the ‘Ausca’ a fabulous Holden engined sports car special in which he had a circuit racing career ending accident at Phillip Island. He later formed a very successful engineering business, won multiple Australian Hillclimb Championships in self built cars and entered cars for, and assisted drivers such as Larry Perkins. (Unattributed)

At the end of the 1957 season the car was bought by Aussie Miller who was also visiting Europe. The Cooper came into Australia in bits along with various aircraft parts, Miller an agricultural pilot…as in a very good crop-dusting pilot! A Lotus 12 was also imported in bits for Ern Tadgell, the cars taking on the names ‘Miller Special’ and ‘Sabakat’ in the best traditions of motor racing thereby avoiding the ‘fiscal fiends’ punitive import taxes otherwise applicable to imported racing cars…

The Miller Spl first raced in Australia at Phillip Island in 1958, Aussie competed in circuit racing, sprints and hillclimbs achieving class firsts in the Victorian Road Racing Championships and Victorian Trophy.

Austin then progressed to an ex-Stan Jones Cooper T51 Climax, the T41 then passed through many hands and I believe is still in Australia.

Miller fitted a Chev V8 to the Cooper T51 and set an Australian Land Speed Record, that is another vastly interesting story about this amazing racing character, driver, publican and pilot…

miller spl albert park

Aussie Miller kissing the kerb in the ‘Miller Spl’ Cooper T41, Albert Park, November 1958. (Guy Miller)

Credits…

‘History of Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Guy Miller