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Australasian specials


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#1 KzKiwi

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Posted 05 March 2000 - 05:08

For those of you who have been perusing the 'Most successful nation?'thread you may have noticed a lot of discussion on 'down under' drivers and cars. We may as well create a new thread dedicated to them!

Thanks to Barry Lake (is this the same ex 'Modern Motor' editor, if my hazy memory is correct?)and Ray Bell for the Information on the Miller Special - I thought the 'aircraft parts' story was very good.

Ray mentioned Ern Tadgell in his reply. Did he not build and race a 'Porsche special' in Australian Hill climb events in the 1950s?

And then there was Eddie Perkins and his 'Lancia Special'. From what I can gather there was not a lot written about these 2 cars and i would love to find out more about them ('Historic racing cars in Australia' by Blanden makes no reference to them).

Over the ditch in New Zealand there was the same amount of ingenuity going on. A man called Hec Green was pumping out his 'RA' specials. His RA 4 and RA 5 models were extremely impressive, as both were rear engined racing cars built in the early 1950s. These were powered by Vanguard engines so were quite a bit bigger than the 500 cc Formula 3 cars of the same layout and era.

Indeed when the Cooper racing team came out to NZ in the mid 1950s they took back to Europe with them Hec Greens use and mounting of the Citroen gearbox.

And then there is John McMillan and his 1951'Mc Millan special' which had a chain driven 2.3 litre Ford Jeep motor mounted TRANSVERSELY behind the driver. This preceded
The Bugatti T251 by 5 years and the Honda RA 271 by 13 years in using the same layout.

And this is just the start!! We will wait and see where it ends!!


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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 March 2000 - 16:02

I've got some great stories on disk about a lot of these - when Mark helps me set up a website we'll get some links together. The Tornado, the Regal, heaps of them - no end to the ingenuity and even desperation involved. The Wylie Javelin, with its sideline piston listing in the Rolloy piston books (Wylie Javelin - All models) for the subsequent 25 years! Foreign orders....

#3 KzKiwi

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Posted 06 March 2000 - 15:14

Ray, count me in. BTW do you know how many pistons were sold by Rolloy for the Wylie Javelin? They most probably still have a few on the shelves gathering cobwebs. They were reliable cars those Wylie Javelins - sold a few too... ;)

[This message has been edited by KzKiwi (edited 03-06-2000).]

#4 Barry Lake

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Posted 14 March 2000 - 12:41

KzKiwi:

Yes I am the former editor of Modern MOTOR (now known as MOTOR).
I began collecting it from issue number 2, later found number one (June 1954) in a second hand shop, had my first article published in it in 1972, joined the staff 1979, was editor from 1981 to 1989 before escaping to become a Henry Manney-like "Editor-at-Large" working from home.
I still have a regular column which has run - with the odd name change - for more than 21 years. I also conduct a Tyre Test for the magazine every year.

#5 KzKiwi

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Posted 25 April 2000 - 03:04

INGREDIENTS:(from mid 1960's recipe)
Take 1 only Ferrari Super Squalo single seater chassis,
1 only Chevrolet Corvette engine,
Some Kiwi ingenuity,
1 set of original wire wheels from the Super Squalo, and
1 Morris Minor body shell.


Chop and modify the Minor body shell to fit to existing Ferrari chassis. Graft Corvette engine into the chassis frame. Add intrepid pilot by the name of Garth Souness and let loose on the nearest race track.

RESULT: The "Morrari".
Very fast Morris Minor,
Outright lap record at Pukekohe race track for a few years,
Driver that stays dry in any wet races.

Just one of the weird and wonderful creations form someones back yard. Every countries got them. Any other interesting additions that members can shed some light on ?????


[This message has been edited by KzKiwi (edited 04-24-2000).]

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 April 2000 - 03:54

Outright lap record? With the Tasman cars around... are you perhaps thinking outright sedan lap record?
As for lap records, there is only one car in the world that held the outright lap record when its chassis was forty years old...
The chassis was from a 1911 Regal Underslung, which did sterling service in the Hughenden area for its first owner for a decade. As it decayed, it was sold to the Alford family, who used it for a further 11 or so years, but tired of its magneto packing up in the middle of the night out kangaroo shooting.
Herb Avery owned the Western Motorworks at Longreach and bought the car when its gearbox packed in - it sported a three speed transaxle that bounced up and down on the rear axle - as he saw some future in its underslung chassis.
Discarding the 30" wheels and fitting a more conventional size for the day, he tossed every mechanical component, fitting Austin 20 engine, box, rear axle and steering. The brakeless front axle remained. His efforts included an alloy sporty body of very spartan inclusions and were intended to give him a car with which he could beat his brother's Vauxhall.
It didn't, from all accounts, but the Austin grille was at the forefront of his future efforts to win bets on his times from town to town in the Queensland outback. He won a lot of money with it.
About 1946, after he'd moved into Brisbane, Rex Law bought the car and fitted a 1930 Dodge front axle so it would have 4-wheel brakes, also converting the rear brakes to hydraulic. He actually won the Whites Hill hillclimb with it in this form, and he raced it at Strathpine and Lowood and in various sprints etc.
Looking for more power, he substituted an ohv 6-cyl wartime Austin truck engine, but found it little faster, and as time for the AGP to be run in Qld for the first time was running out, he built an all new car round a Buick Century engine and a T-model Ruckstell rear end.
It failed him, but in the meantime he had Allan Larsen fit a side valve Cadillac V8 engine, along with a 1927 Dodge gearbox, and it finished the GP going strongly. For most of this period it wore the Austin artillery wheels in either 20" or 21" form, but occasionally it had smaller wheels fitted for gearing advantages at hillclimbs.
When Rex went to Bathurst he fitted a Studebaker gearbox with overdrive for the long downhill run on Conrod, later he converted a Ford rear end to open tail shaft and used that.
In 1950 the car set the outright lap record at Lowood, and that stood through to 1951 - when the chassis was forty years old.
As 1953 rolled around, many newer cars were on the scene and Rex was not able to see any point in continuing. Already the engine was being taken out between race meetings to be used in one of his International buses, which he had converted to rear engined.
He put it under the house and bought a Jowett Jupiter chassis along with a huge 6-cylinder aircraft engine. Just what his plans were we don't know, but they never came to fruition.
The Regal was lost forever when the house was torn down... just wait till I can post pictures...

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#7 Falcadore

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Posted 09 May 2000 - 21:51

Just reviving an old topic, partly to set Ray's mouth watering (and inspire some stories), but also cause I scanned a few pics.

Mind the keyboard Ray Posted Image

Firstly the legendary 1953 Maybach I
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Hiding behind in the Maybach's shadow is a 1934 Lagonda Rapier Special

The 1935 Kleinig Hudson
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a group shot
#19 1948 Ford V8 Special, behind it 1949 CMW Ford Special, and a 1947 MG TC special.
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the 1952 Jaguar sports car engined HWM, which won the 1954 Australian Grand Prix at the hideously dangerous Southport road course with Lex Davison at the wheel.
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the 1958 Molina Monza
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the infamous "Black Bess" 1948 Ford V8 special
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1955 Crowfoot Holden
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The 1956 Waggott Holden in front and behind 1955 Zephyr Special
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and while not an Australian special, but for interest a 1947 4.5 litre Lago Talbot Formula One. The appearance of which on these shores spelt the beginning of the end of the Australian specials as the first (apart from odd Maseratis and Bugattis) of the ex-factory Grand Prix cars that started to replace the specials at the pointy end.
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As an aside this Lago (driven by Doug Whiteford) and the Maybach (driven by Stan Jones) staged the battle for the lead of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, the first to be held around the Albert Park Lake.

yours
Mark Jones
----------
"I prefer the empirical approach"
"And what pray tell is that?"
"Well you might call it the suck it and see method"

[This message has been edited by Falcadore (edited 05-09-2000).]

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 May 2000 - 05:32

There are a couple of cars that are original in that lot... the Maybach is a reconstruction and is a good one, as is the Kleinig car a fairly good representation - but without the fury. The Crowfoot has remained to this day, the HWM is just nicer. The really original one is the Zephyr, this being the one that predated the Lotus 49 in using the engine and gearbox as a stressed member... and it flew!
Black Bess was said to be a dreadful handler, but Whiteford raced it for years and it won him great accolades.
Nice collection of pics, Mark, let's talk before you do it again... and just a mention for the Austin Healey boys... there are more Healey 100S models in Australia than in any other country.. note the one in the background.

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#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 July 2000 - 03:58

I've brought this up again so I can post some pictures later on, but if anyone wants to throw in a few words they are naturally welcome. Any picture requests?

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 July 2000 - 22:36

Here are a couple of real special Specials... Rex Law's 'works team' for the 1949 AGP at Leyburn...

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The Regal, with its newly installed Cadillac engine, has not yet been fitted with its new grille and bonnet. The Buick Century-powered car in the foreground was built new for this race, had no gearbox, but a two-speed Ruckstell T-model rear end.

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2000 - 00:19

...and a view of the Regal competing at a hillclimb a few months beforehand... powered by Austin 6-cyl truck engine:

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The chassis is from a 1911 Regal Underslung, the front axle 1930 Dodge (fitted to give it front wheel brakes!), radiator from the 1920s Austin 20 that donated most of the rest of the mechanicals when it was built up in 1933. It ran the AGP with 21" artillery wheels on the rear.. because the smaller wheels planned had no tyres available... they had been purchased, but a house fire, in which Allan Larsen's nephew had died, destroyed them. Larsen was given the AGP drive in return for fitting the engine.

#12 KzKiwi

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Posted 04 July 2000 - 10:10

Ray,

Since you appear to have mastered the art of posting pictures have you got any of Ern Tadgells 'Porsche special' and the 'Lancia Special' of Eddie Perkins?

Back in 1966 a Kiwi by the name of Dennis Smith built a special that weighed in at only 225 kg. This car was christened the 'Smith Spyder', all due to the fact that the body of the car was only 500 mm wide, which gave the appearance of having a very wide track.

The most amazing thing about this car was its engine - a 1500cc V4 Johnson outboard motor. This was tilted at 40 degrees from the horizontal and had a huge(!) Smith built flywheel that was 100 mm in diameter. The powerband of this motor was between 1000 and 7000 RPM - the car could wheelspin in top gear which, incidentally, was a 3 speed Renault gearbox.

Unfortunately the car never got to show its full potential as it was written off on a cold, wet and very windy day at Pukekohe. It appears the strong cross winds blew the little light weight creation of the track.

Apparently the car still survives to this day....somewhere.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2000 - 13:51

No promises, Kz, but if you post a picture of the Morrari, I'll see what I can do about the Tadgell thing and Perkins' Lancia. I know there's a guy out at Fernvale who has a lot of stuff from that period... man, we could go on forever here.
On the subject of the Johnson-powered device, there used to be a hillclimber in Melbourne who used the same engine in a little openwheeler.. forgotten his name (shame on me, he was a co-conspirator in a business dealing once, he also having Peugeots), but it was a nice little powerplant.[p][Edited by Ray Bell on 07-05-2000]

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 10:16

One thing I didn't mention about Law's Regal was its past life. Purchased from the Alford family, who were tiring of its magneto problems and encountered a breakage in the axle-mounted gearbox, it was rebuilt by Herb Avery of Longreach in Central Queensland. He wanted two things of it - to blow off his brother's Vauxhall and to win more bets. Here's the original:

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The underslung chassis can just be seen in this picture, and it was this that appealed to Avery.
This car was fitted with engine, gearbox, rear axle and steering from an Austin 20 and the alloy body built in about 1932/3, but retained the brakeless Regal front axle. The 30" Regal wheels were discarded, these appearing to comer from an Oakland, while the rear ones have reinforcing drive plates added, you will note.

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The bets? Herb would watch the new straight-8 cars of the travelling salesmen come into town day after day from his Western Motorworks. Later he'd drink with the salesmen at the pub, and hear them brag of the speed of their Chryslers and Studebakers. Then he's say he had an old car that would get to an adjoining town (perhaps 70 or 100 miles away) and back quicker than them. Laughing at his car, they'd put their money down... and lose it.

#15 Huw Jenjin

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 12:34

I'd like to see a picture of the Morrari. i can believe it held the outright lap record.
Although not Australian, A guy called Nick Mann started hillclimbing a Morris Minor, and each year came back with it further modified, ---Rover V8, then enlarged capacity, then turbo charged, and then fitted with nitrous oxide injection, also each lear getting lowert and lighter, and the engine and driver further back in the body.
Presscoot produced some wonderful specials, pprobably one of the most memorable being "Doc" Taylor's "Bitza Special", which carried alarmingly little body work and safety equipment, but was usually driven in a spirited fashion. Its driver was very old by any standards, and not a little nutty. Other specials included the mid jaguar engined "Sound of Music" and the "flying bedstead" of which I remember little except their resemblance to agricultural machinery.
OTher interesting UK cars were Colin Hawker's DFV-W 1600TL,
Mick Hill's Beetle-Chev (F5000), a DAF-Chev, and a countless Skodas, with anything from Morand through to BDG power units.


#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 14:07

Some cars were major mix & match efforts, others simply a race car built out of the main components of a road car. This is one such:

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Built in 1954 from the remains of a burned out Austin Healey 100, the Mac Healey was put together by Greg McEwin in South Australia. It did suffer changes in its life, but was returned to its best form by Roger Wells in the seventies.
The only departure from original equipment is the Austin Champ 5-speed (and no reverse) gearbox, but for a while it raced with a Holden 6.
The chassis is completely Healey, the body has an abundance of the right sort of lumps and louvres to make it interesting, and when it was red it looked great on the high line round Winton's infield sweeper with Roger's scarf blowing in the breeze.

#17 Huw Jenjin

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 14:13

if I remeber correctly the Austin Champ had as many speeds in reverse as it did going forwards, so reverse gear must have been in the transfer case or the final drive... i cannot imagine full tilt in reverse being much fun....

#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 14:17

That's correct. I can see it being quite an exciting exercise, myself.. but there would only be low range in reverse, I feel sure.
There's a little more to the story. When the Holden engine was fitted, it went in with a different box (possibly a TC), and the old Healey engine and the Champ box were left at a service station. Years later, Roger went to retrieve it and found it had been thrown out. In Australia there were very few civilian versions of the Champ, so he obtained one from the military version, which was powered by a Rolls Royce engine, not the Austin. So he had to get an adaptor made...

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 14:22

Something for Lea Francis lovers now. This car is the Stewand, and it's photographed at lovely Lobethal at the final meeting in 1948, driven by owner Norm Andrews.

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It was called the Stewand, and was built originally on the Lea Francis chassis to use a Jeep engine. It ran at Bathurst in that form in 1947, but by Lobethal at the end of the year it had been weighed down with an Austin truck ohv 6, which might have been 3.6 or 4 litres. That's why the bonnet has the bulge.
Not a terribly successful car, but a good looking one and impressive in this picture. Later in that meeting it lost a wheel, which was pitched into the crowd above Mill Corner. I think it's fitting that I let Barry tell the rest of that story.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2000 - 14:45

In 1926 Ballot were making a 2-litre touring car that had a distinctive shape to its chassis. Jim Gullan in Melbourne acquired one just after the war, with a view to going racing in a Special. Jim had fitted the Ford V8 to the 1919 Indianapolis Ballot after it blew up, but found the overheating problems just too much. Seemingly transfixed with Ballots, he had the fuel tank out of the 1922 Targa Florio Ballot fitted to his Wolseley Hornet so he could go the distance in the 1936/7 AGP, but it caused his retirement when the large load surged so badly he lost it and hit a hidden post.
He wrote that he was determined not to fall for the Ford problems again, so bought an Oldsmobile six from a taxi-operator who had bought it new as a spare for his cab and never used it. You'll see in the picture that he made up for the extra engine weight by reducing the chassis weight:

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The shape was deliberately modeled off the ERA, and the car was progressively developed over about five years, in which time Jim won many races on handicap. He was a friend and partner of Doug Whiteford, racing against him in Black Bess, the Ford that won the 1950 AGP. Gullan won the handicap section in that one, too.
In 1951 it had changed owner and travelled to WA for the AGP there in company with the two tow cars, two trailers and the second race car of the Alan Watson equipe. It was the sole member of the group to arrive, and sole is an operative word... driver John Cummins had hocked his shoes for the last petrol he needed to get there.
En route it had broken its gearbox, so the taxi depot was scoured for a replacement. It didn't finish the race, but had the honour of running over a policeman's foot while it was running.

#21 KzKiwi

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Posted 08 July 2000 - 19:34

Ray, sorry but i can not oblige with the Morrari request as i am 'scannerless'. If you close your eyes and imagine a Morris minor body with seriously flared wheel arches and wire spoked wheels, all in a huge opposite lock drift....that pretty much sums it up.

I was browsing thru a book called 'Uphill races' last week which traces the history of the hillclimb scene in GB - bugger me if I didnt find a picture of a Rover V8 engined Morris Minor (a Morrari clone) - it could be the one Huw J makes reference to in his recent posting. As you would expect this book also makes reference to the various specials that were part of the hillclimb scene. Two that stick in my mind are:

John Bolsters 'Bloody Mary', which was powered by 2 JAP motorcycle engines c/w lots of period smoke (and probably Castrol 'R' fumes). Eventually a plan was hatched to put 4 of these JAPs in the one chassis - unfortunately, or should that be fortunately, the war intervened and put a halt to the project.

The McCandless specials from Ireland, that were test beds for the designers theories and ideas on four wheel steering and four wheel drive - all of this in the early 1950s. Even had handle bar steering on one of the specials too.

BTW I wouldn't mind communicating with this chap from Fernvale Ray.
[p][Edited by KzKiwi on 07-08-2000]

#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 July 2000 - 22:08

I'll try to remember when I catch up with him, Huge... mostly Victorian (if not all Victorian) pics from mid 50s to perhaps early sixties.
Did I ever tell you about the Ausca 4WD of Paul England, while we're on the subject of Hillclimb cars? 2.2-litre VW at the back, 1.8 and the front, with a supercharger driving off the front for both engines... and a 2-litre spare in the truck just in case... it could go either end.
Caused no end of excitement for those holding the 'hockey stick' in those less enlightened days!

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 July 2000 - 00:31

A grid full of Specials spoiled only by a couple of interlopers:

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Frank Kleinig's Hudson is on pole, across the other side of the track, with Arthur Rizzo's Riley Spl alongside, then the winning Delahaye, the SS100 of Keith Thallon, and 'the white car,' George Reed's Skate driven by bee-keeper Dick Bland.
Second row is the Law Buick, then Snow Sefton's 2-gearbox (dinkum! - one back to front to give an overdrive!) Ford V8 Spl, a gap where the Wolseley Spl belonged, Larsen in the Law Regal Cadillac, then Alf Bowers in the Terraplane-engine midget with big wheels.
Third row is three MG Spls (or stripped cars) and then... believe it or not, that's a Bugatti! A Bugatti 37 with a Dodge engine, and alongside it the nose of the Dick Cobden MG TC Spl. Next row is the Ford V8 of Theo Trevethan (based on some kind of Morris), Keith Saunders with another Cadillac Spl, then the Ford V8 in an ancient Vauxhall (note the bonnet flutes!) of truckie Jack Wright, with a jackrabbit start putting the nose of (perhaps) Ross Gray's Ford V8 Spl up inside Cobden.

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 17:17

I've finally got around to looking at this thread, and loved Mark Jones’s pictures. These were the cars that featured in some of the first race reports I read.
I also have to thank Ray Bell for explaining a couple of mysteries - for example, I never did sort out Jim Gullan’s various Ballot-based cars.
I always regarded the Maybach and the Tornado as Australia’s two best specials, on the grounds that they regularly and consistently matched the best imports of their respective periods. The same could apply to some later Oz products but the Lynxes, Elfins and Matiches - even Joluses, Barry! - were not one-offs, so don't really qualify as specials.
I’d forgotten about the Eddie Perkins Lancia, but do remember him in a VW special. I think his sons later raced more modern VW-powered single-seaters, and one of them did quite well in more senior formulae in other parts of the world.

KzKiwi will no doubt be pleased to learn that Bolster did indeed run BM with four engines, both before and after WW2.

My main reason for reviving this thread however is to clarify some of the earlier information on NZ cars. Of course the Morrari never held the outright Pukekohe lap record though it did, I seem to recall, hold the outright saloon record ( or sedan if you’re American or Australian....).
The first of Hec Green’s rear-engined cars had a modified Standard Vanguard engine and was called the RA Vanguard but the second, known simply as the RA, used a twin-cam RA engine designed and built by Green and his associate Jack Brewer. They also made their own gearbox and even the wire wheels. The story about Green putting the Cooper team onto Citroen gearboxes is a good one, but by the time the team came to NZ in 1960 they had already been using them for several years.
Many years later some well-meaning person decided Green’s rear-engined cars should be called RA4 and RA5 - which they never were - and unfortunately everyone now uses the same incorrect nomenclature.
Green’s very first car was called a Wolseley Special, his next a Singer Special and the third RA III. The Wolseley was never called anything else when Green had it, but he did give the Singer the new name of RA II after it had a Vauxhall engine installed. It soon became universally known as the RA Vauxhall, later RA Zephyr and ultimately 260M Zephyr Special. RA III raced under the name of Chevrolet Special, Fiat Special, something else which I’ve forgotten and finally Lycoming Special as various engines were substituted over the years.


#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 January 2001 - 12:36

David.... checking to see what you had posted, I found that a couple of my pictures weren't showing. I've now fixed this, so the 1949 AGP start and the Ballot Olds pictures are here for your viewing.

#26 Allen Brown

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Posted 14 January 2001 - 17:46

Ray

Have you come across a sports special called the Argo Sports, probably built in the mid to late 1960's and possibly by Tony Osborne? It is said to have been built using parts from Osborne's ex-Davison Cooper lowline.

I'd love to know a bit more about it and what might have become of it.

Allen

#27 KzKiwi

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Posted 21 January 2001 - 22:32

David,

Thanks for your informative posting and for correcting my slip up about the Green/ Cooper Citroen gearbox story: of course the works Cooper team did not arrive in NZ until the 1960 season, and they had first used the Citroen box on the T39 of 1955.

Hec Green tossed out the standard Citroen gearbox on his RA/ Vanguard a few seasons earlier than this. It appears that the impetus to do this was when Jack Brewer had the gearbox seize solid on him at the 1953 NZ Road Race Championship in Dunedin - at high speed to boot. Green took the opportunity to design, build and install a 4 speed box based on pictures he had seen of a Cisitalia gearbox. This mirrors the problems Cooper encountered with the ERSA derivative throughout the 1955 - 59 seasons.

Some, however, never encounted any problems at all. Doug Haigh grafted a complete "Traction Avant" system from a light 15 onto his 1952 rear engined single seater, aptly named the "Citroen Special". By all accounts it was a very reliable little machine.

David, with regards to the correct naming of Hec Greens specials do you know when the later cars were first referred to as RA 4 and 5? Given the fact that there were up to 3 RA specials competing in the same race or event during the early 1950's it is entirely logical that they should be numbered in numerical sequence - logical, but not necessarily correct that is.

A quick summary of his cars is as follows:

1947/48 RA/Wolsley - Using an engine out of an ex Scotland Yard flying squad car. Subsequently re-powered by Vauxhall and Vanguard engines. Later known as the "ACE special".

1949 RA/Singer - This was a car that was commisssioned by and built for Pat Hoare to race in. In order to keep the driver low in the chassis, Green lowered the drive shaft by way of a step down chain drive arrangement. In the pursuit of horsepower, a S/C Vauxhall engine was installed, only to be superceded by a Zephyr powerplant. Later known as the 260M Zephyr.

1950 RA/Fiat - A car that was commissioned by and built for Des Wild to compete in. Once again the original engine was replaced by a Chevy 6, then a Vauxhall and, finally, a 5 litre flat 4 Lycoming aero engine. After the Lycoming engine transplant the car was known as the Lycoming special, although it should not be confused with Ralph Watsons special of the same name.

1951 RA/Vanguard - Built by Hec Green and Jack Brewer, this was the first of the RA rear engined cars. Green and Brewer utilised a standard Vanguard engine and fitted a supercharger c/w intercooler to it. Later modifications were done to the engine in the interests of reliability. This car also incorporated rubber bands on the front suspension as well as a radical 'low pivot' swing axle setup on the independent rear suspension, whereby the swinging 1/2 axles pivoted below the diff/ gearbox assembly instead of above (A few seasons later, in 1954, Mercedes Benz had a similar system in use on the W196).

1954 RA/Green - A bit of a mystery car (under modern definition it would be referred to as 'RA 4.5' or 'RA5 Mk 1'), as it appears to have been raced for 1954 and 1955 only, before being cast aside in favour of the definitive 'RA5'. This car incorporated Hec Greens first real attempt at designing and building his own motor. The only items not built or done in NZ were the Vanguard crankshaft, rods and liners. The cast alloy engine block and gearbox housings were made from war surplus propellors that had been melted down. Green retained the use of rubber bands in the front suspension setup but went back to a more conventional IRS assembly - ironic considering that the RA/Vanguard was considered to be a fine handling car. Just as ironic was the fact that Green disliked the cars quirky handling and this appears to be the main reason for the appearance of 'RA5'.

1955-59 RA special/Green - The only items retained from the 1954 car were the motor and gearbox assemblies. Everything else was new, including the lack of rubber bands in the suspension layout. This car took a long time to manufacture, due to Hec Greens increasing interests outside of motor racing. As such, appearances were also spasmodic. This was the car that so impressed the Cooper team when they were in NZ for the 1960 races.

1960 RA/Fiat - Built by Green for his son. No known race history though.

David and Milan, etc, I would welcome your comments on the above, as I am sure that these notes can be improved on and should not be left to slip away. What is for certain is that Hec Green was a very capable and innovative builder of racing cars, with ideas that were ahead of their time - certainly when taking into account the fact that these cars were not built in mainstream Europe but in the Southern hemisphere, where access to information and technology was a lot harder to come by.

Regards,

Kirk.

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 16:08

Allen... I feel sure it was called the Argo Chev, and it was owned by Tony Osborne, who also owned a McLaren M4a.
If parts came from a Davison lowline, they would have travelled through a number of hands first.
Perhaps you are confusing this history with that of Wally Mitchell's RM1, built from the wreckage of the Davison cars after Lex and Rocky were killed?
I just turned up a photo of Peter Macrow driving it at Calder in mid-1968. From memory, the car was fairly new then, and it didn't race for very long. I don't know its present whereabouts or later history, but I can ask around?

#29 Allen Brown

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 18:42

Ray

I was told - by John Blanden I think - that the Argo was based on the Cooper lowline that Tony Osborne bought from Lex Davison after the 1963 Internationals - i.e. after Lex replaced it with the ex-McLaren Cooper T62. I think Osborne's first race in it was at Sandown Park on 15 September. After Longford 1964, I lose sight of it again and John suggested that it became the basis for the Argo.

Does that make any sense?

Allen

#30 David McKinney

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 20:51

KzKiwi:
We’re more or less in agreement on Hec Green’s cars. I didn’t mention the sportscar because it didn’t affect what I was trying to say, and - like you - I don’t believe it ever raced.
In addition to reading as many race reports as I could find in NZ and Australian magazines of the period, I once spent a happy couple of weeks going through newspaper archives in Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill, and can state quite definitely that none made mention of an RA4 or an RA5. Nor do the many 1950s race programmes I have seen.
The first time I saw these names used was in one or other of Vercoe’s books. I had earlier challenged him on his arbitrary renaming of the Wolseley Special (as RA I), and he explained he had done it for reasons of logical classification. Logical, yes, but wrong! He applied the same ‘logic’ to many other NZ specials, and gave them names which were never used in period. I repeat, the only cars known by numbers in period were RA II and RA III, and then for only one or two seasons.
I could ‘nitpick’ over a few details in your summary of the various cars, but accept your view that the 1960 car was a new one: I always believed it was merely an updated version of the 1954 car. Certainly the bodywork was significantly different. If you wanted to use the Vercoe terminology, these would surely be RA5 and RA6 rather than RA4.5 and RA5?
But whatever names are used, nothing can detract from Green’s innovative approach to design and construction.



#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 22:22

KZ - Having a particular interest in Wolseley Specials, could I please have some more detail on this car? Exactly which model engine, for instance?
Allen - I'm not familiar with any stories about the Argo, ie. I don't think RCN went into any detail with it, so it's brick wall time for me there, but I will ask Peter Larner when I see him... some time....

#32 Ian McKean

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 23:58

Originally posted by Huw Jenjin
Presscoot produced some wonderful specials, pprobably one of the most memorable being "Doc" Taylor's "Bitza Special", which carried alarmingly little body work and safety equipment, but was usually driven in a spirited fashion. Its driver was very old by any standards, and not a little nutty.



"Doc" Taylor's special was actually called the Caesar special. I think it had a six cylinder AC engine, probably a GN chassis and a modern-day scrutineer would have a fit if he saw its gravity feed petrol tank above the engine. I have a nice photo of it taken with a box camera in about 1957.

John Bolster's 2 and 4 engined cars were actually quite separate cars rather than just another 2 engines in the original. Bloody Mary, the 2 engined car, had a chassis originally made entirely of ash (!!) but later reinforced by steel strips bolted outside the wood (was this the first use of sandwich construction in motor sport?). The 4 engined car had a steel chassis with independent front suspension, and would do 0-100 in less than 10 seconds. Handling was not brilliant and it was excessively prone to wheelspin. Bolster sat so far back he had to keep his elbow up or it would touch the back wheel. Maybe this was why he had a soft spot for old BM and after the war went back to his first love.

Bolster's brother Richard also built a number of specials and worked up to 4 engines, in this case Rudge not JAP. The brothers used to drive their specials on the public road but as Bolster wrote "We could never drive in close proximity, however, as, no doubt owing to some oversight on the part of the licensing authorities, both cars had the same registration number".


#33 ry6

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Posted 25 January 2001 - 17:52

I have seen a few photos of Hec Green's RA5 and if it was built/designed in 1954 it must have been way ahead of its time in looks. Oh so neat - Clean lines and lovely "proportions".
Another pretty good Kiwi effort was the Stanton Spl.- it had a huge engine in the back. Must have been an aero engine.
I saw these pix a long time ago in New Zealand.
Can anyone reproduce photos of those cars here?

Another favourite car of mine was the Normac - built by a family from Dannevirke. Name of McCutcheon. They made several specials and gave me some copies of photos and details on the specs. I will find them one day.

It has always amazed me how resourceful those Kiwi builders were. Miles from nowhere and still able to build something very ingenious and VERY quick.

Regards
Rob


#34 Ray Bell

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Posted 26 January 2001 - 06:27

My mistake, Peter Macrow it was!

He put me onto Ray Gibbs, who still owns the Argo, but in bits. He's tired of people chasing it, and refers me to Blanden for details...

#35 ry6

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Posted 27 January 2001 - 11:34

Regarding my earlier comment on the Normac's built by the McCutheons. They came from Norsewood, a tiny village near Dannevirke, in Hawkes Bay. This village to this day is the HQ of a woollen garmet factory of high repute.
These "special" builders must have had to wait ages for engines parts and gearbox parts from the USA and Britain when they were unable to fabricate, design, make, or adapt/modify from standard parts.
Regards
Rob

#36 KzKiwi

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Posted 27 January 2001 - 20:39

David,

The 1954 RA was, in Hec Greens own discription, a separate vehicle from the one that appeared during the 1960 season. He also confirms that only the motor and gearbox were retained from the 1954 car: everything else was new.

Using the modern definitions, I agree that the 1954 car should be known as 'RA5', with the 1956-59 car referred to as 'RA6.

Where it gets confusing and frustrating is that the 1956-59 car is now universally accepted as 'RA5', even by its current owner!! The same applies to the car that Green built for his son in 1960, which is known as 'RA6'. All of this has come about because it was thought that the car built in 1954 was the same one that was racing in 1960. It is only in the last 2 or 3 years that the existence of 2 separate cars has been confirmed. Prior to this, there were several verbal reports of seeing the 2 cars together - but no hard evidence. Perhaps it is time to update the history of the marque before it is too late!

As for Ray's query on the Wolseley engined special built in the late 1940's it is probably better that I post you the information that I have on this (From several sources, as well as being quite long). If interested PM me with a postal address and I will arrange this.

Rob mentioned the Stanton Special, aka the "Cropduster".
Built in 1954, the choice of power was quite startling - a 6 litre Gypsy Major aero engine driving the rear wheels via a duplex chain drive, with the driver sitting in front of this 4 cylinder device.

This car had a reasonably succesful career driven by Morrie Stanton. Together they held several NZ speed records in the 1950's, as well as winning the 1959 NZ hillclimb championship, c/w loads of opposite lock.

Regards,

Kirk.

#37 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 June 2002 - 23:14

I walked into the old gent's home. He lived alone, in his mid-seventies, he showed signs of having had a hard life. He was happy to talk to me (I was there on a work project, nothing relating to racing at all...) but said he'd like to keep on watching the motor racing on TV as we spoke.

I said, "That's all right, I'll watch it with you... how long have you been following racing?"

"A very long time," he said as he kept an eye on the powerful touring cars racing on the box, "I used to drive up from Lismore to the races up in Queensland all the time."

"Were you at Leyburn in 1949?" was my next question. "Yes," he replied. "Big crowd there that day," I offered... "...indeed."

So I started to talk about Rex Law's Regal Cadillac. He knew nothing about it, but was entranced. I told him it was at Leyburn, but his memory failed him. As I kept looking at the strange shape of the door leaning up against the lounge room window, trying to identify what manner of car it might be from, we chatted on. Work was forgotten... I had all weekend for that!

At one point he told me he had a lot of photos from those old days, and he wanted to give them to somebody connected with historic racing so they would be safe when his time is up. I offered to scan them all and put them on CD and pass the originals on to the HRCC of Qld, so he said he'd dig them up if I came by the next day. This I did... some of the pics are here...

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The Regal sitting oddly askew on the grid at Leyburn circa 1951, the Stan Jones Maybach and Lex Davison in the MG Special being more prominent. By this time the Regal had a Ford rear end...

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Another Leyburn grid, this time mostly MGs... not sure about that rear engined car over the other side...

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Looks like it might have been a chilly day out on the Downs... Lex Davison in Diana's car...

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No idea whose this car is, I would say it was a road and race car and it's clearly a Ford V8 Special. Any help?

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This is the Anderson Holden, very modern alongside the various road cars on the scene. I would love to know at which hillclimb venue this was taken.

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The only pic I've ever seen of the Kleinig Hudson in its final form and race ready... note the eight stub exhausts! This is wearing the Maserati body, with the Peugeot front end, offset rear axle.

In the end my curiosity got the better of me about that door... I walked over to turn it round so I could see the outside... and picking it up to do so I learned all. It was feather light! An aeroplane door! For a project, this old guy has chosen to spend his spare time (well, he is retired!) rebuilding a slightly crashed Cessna 172!

#38 275 GTB-4

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:06

On the weekend in Canberra...

Canberra Charity Cruise....last Sunday to raise money for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. A great variety of cars, bikes and the fire brigade attending the cruise.

Posted Image

#39 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:15

Those truck grilles sure are handy things!

Thanks for the pic...

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#40 275 GTB-4

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:37

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Thanks for the pic...


So you intend to use the image elsewhere?

#41 bradbury west

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:58

I see that the ex Clem Dwyer Plymouth Special is advertised for sale in the current Vintage Racecar
Roger Lund

#42 D-Type

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 11:15

Originally posted by 275 GTB-4
On the weekend in Canberra...

Canberra Charity Cruise....last Sunday to raise money for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. A great variety of cars, bikes and the fire brigade attending the cruise.

Posted Image

A nice picture - but which Australian special is it?

#43 275 GTB-4

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 08:53

Originally posted by D-Type
A nice picture - but which Australian special is it?


You might have to wait for whatever rag Bell is writing for to "break" the story :rolleyes:

#44 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 09:06

Originally posted by 275 GTB-4
You might have to wait for whatever rag Bell is writing for to "break" the story


You're so sweet...

I haven't seen or heard of this car before at all. At a guess I would say it's been created as an 'in the likeness of' car within the past three or four years.

How on earth you can draw conclusions from me thanking you for posting the pic is totally beyond me.

#45 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 09:20

While I have no idea of that car it does appear to be quite an old special, could be period or built 20 years ago. It seems to have a lot of Ford V8 bits and that Freighter grille [or maybe a lot of early Freighter!]

#46 David McKinney

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 10:25

Originally posted by Lee Nicolle
...it does appear to be quite an old special...

That's what you're supposed to think :lol:

In fairness, I have to admit I don't know when it was built...

#47 Ron B.

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 20:49

Having read through this i see a few pics have been taken down ( those little squares irritate me :) ) Anywhere else i can see pics of the regal?

Regarding the above special,it's probably a retro style thing,there are plenty of them being built these days to catch the nostalgia hot rod theme.

Here is a good example,the Toad Hall special,built a few years ago race in Historics. It features a model T chassis with flathead ford running gear.
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#48 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 08:55

The Toad Hall Special. Looks a bit like my "K8" car
In New Zealand Neil Stuart built several cars of this type
Check them out on

#49 Ron B.

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 09:48

Hi Peter,just what I Like!. I can assume that the toad hall special is very much like a K8 .It was was built by Artist James Corbett. In the pics I put up it has a 8BA but normally ran an offy equiped 99A . The trans has closer ratio Zephyr gears and a regular open drive V8 diff. These days all the early V8 stuff is worth gold so there is little chance of me building one. The Neil Stewart car is far prettier than the toad though.. :)
http://www.jamescorbettart.com/

#50 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 11:16

Ron B I run a 99A bored to 3 3/8 and a '49 Mercury crank giving it a 4" stroke works out at about 286 CI