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Australasian specials


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#51 Ron B.

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 11:37

I was wondering at first where the pics of you running in the 70's were taken then I remembered the South Islands beach race history. I was at Ron Roycrofts once and noticed he had a chev Four Beach racer he had picked up in the South Island . The nearest we had in Auckland was Dirt track Racing at Kumeu and Mere mere which originally was actual Hot rods racing and now it has morphed in later years into a sort of high speed stock car racing. great fun though! .

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#52 David McKinney

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 13:23

Originally posted by Ron B.
I was at Ron Roycrofts once and noticed he had a chev Four Beach racer he had picked up in the South Island

Can't think what that might have been - can you, Peter?

#53 Ron B.

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 21:20

David,that was in 1972 or 73. Ron had been collecting Chevs so he had one of every year from 1917 to 1972. It was amongst a lot in the shed nearest the road . Built just like a typical 1930's sprinter and used mostly Chev 4 parts. Possibly with an Oldsmobile 3 port head.
It was also very very old and decrepit Much like a lot of his goodies.... ;)

#54 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 22:14

Ron B No I can't tell you anything about the Roycroft "Chev 4 beach racer" except I have heard about such a car but I have never seen it

#55 David McKinney

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 22:55

The only Chev-powered one-off I recall from when I was there a couple of years later was the former SH Special, but I wouldn't have described that as resembling a 1930s sprinter. It was light blue, I think

#56 Ron B.

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 23:33

Heres an arty shot of the Stewart Special's Flattie.
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#57 Ron B.

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 23:37

Originally posted by David McKinney
The only Chev-powered one-off I recall from when I was there a couple of years later was the former SH Special, but I wouldn't have described that as resembling a 1930s sprinter. It was light blue, I think

You didn't manage to get any pictures while you there did you?
Some of Rons cars like the buggatti's sitting there all covered in dust would have made evocative shots. Plus,he owned a dark Blue 1932 Chev coupe which was identical to my familys. Someone has contacted me recently from New Zealand asking about it. There were only six right hand drive 32 chev coupes built as it happened.

#58 David McKinney

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 06:50

No, no photos
He must have given the Bugatti a wipe between your visit and mine, as it looked fantastic. Not so some of the other cars, though
I didn't get time to take in the Chev collection

#59 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:22

This is one of the single-seaters that I photograhed in Roycroft's shed. The cars were so crammed in that it was hard to get a decent shot.


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#60 Ron B.

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:36

Wow,what A sweetheart! Citroen Grille(?) with special body,but what was the chassis ? looks almost like a Ford Diff of some description too.
When I used to pop in there we would spend hours discussing the merits of things like knee action suspension and other Chev things. It's a great pity knowone took the time to do a recorded interview because he was a really interesting guy.

Weren't there two Buggatti's side by side? The Jag engined one with the rather handbuilt looking body?

my old Kodak instamatic wouldn't have coped with the gloom in there so i never thought to take pics.

meanwhile back to the topic, I had business interests in Kaikohe in the mid North and one of the people I dealt with was Fred Courtney. He owned a rather interesting special he called the offenhauser Special .It was red with a Jag Engine and Ford SV V8 running gear. I sort of remember it had had several names over the years and these were painted on the tail .
Again I have no pics of it...:

#61 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:45

Then there was this old Chev.


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#62 Ron B.

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:48

Another one I came across in 1990 Near Parkes,new South Wales was a Special called the Riley Special. not only owned by a mr Riley a farmer of those parts, but the engine was Four cylinder Riley with a home made quick change diff with swing axles .I was after him to sell it ( i wanted the diff for a project) but he was reluctant to let it go ,but some years later he phoned me and asked if i still wanted it but my circumstances had gone to hell so I had to decline. Does anyone ever remember it in any kind of competition role around Central NSW ( Orange,Bathurst etc ) ?

#63 Ron B.

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 08:14

I remember that one Milan,probably one of the cars i would like to have owned ( still would) I have a deeply disturbing interest in the Hop up methods used before WW2 . :lol:

#64 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 08:15

Originally posted by Ron B.
Meanwhile back to the topic, I had business interests in Kaikohe in the mid North and one of the people I dealt with was Fred Courtney. He owned a rather interesting special he called the offenhauser Special .It was red with a Jag Engine and Ford SV V8 running gear. I sort of remember it had had several names over the years and these were painted on the tail .
Again I have no pics of it...:



This is Fred's car.

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#65 Ron B.

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 09:01

I had never seen it with the bonnet on....interesting no? ;)
I see it has been named the "Northland Special" . Fred told me it had a Ford flattie in it originally which explained the Ford Running gear.

#66 David McKinney

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 09:28

Thanks for the photos, Milan
I don't think I saw the Citroen-fronted car. And if the Chev special was on hand I would probably have dismissed it as being just a stripped touring car :)

#67 Ron B.

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 09:59

Originally posted by KzKiwi
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).]


The Morrari was broken up when the all comers class was banned .... The chassis now lives under a restored Ferrari.
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#68 Ron B.

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 10:26

The all comers class was a wild scene ,some of the wildest were the bread van Anglias


Bread van anglias

#69 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 18:53

Originally posted by Ron B.

Weren't there two Buggatti's side by side? The Jag engined one with the rather handbuilt looking body?



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#70 Ron B.

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 02:15

Someone must have made that alloy shell for Ron,I had left NewZealand around that time so I never saw it dressed like that. The skin I saw on it resembled flattened out corogated iron. :)

#71 Ron B.

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 02:19

Milan ,any pictures of his home brewed Ferrari single seater? . One of my late Uncles was on hand when he nearly collapsed from Heat exhaustion racing it. I did have brownie pic of the situation but it has been lost over time sadly.

#72 hatrat

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 09:23

Here is Ron in the P3 chasing another NZ Special - the George Smith GeeCeeEss.

[IMG]http://img510.images...geeceeess1a.jpg[/IMG]

#73 Ron B.

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 11:02

aaah. the Alfa! I'll bet he was just lining up the Ford to get past him.. :)

#74 David McKinney

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 12:17

Ohakea 1953 - which was a handicap. The Alfa started 75sec behind the GeeCeeEss

#75 Ron B.

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 13:14

on another thread mentioon is made of the Tornado and how it had an OHV conversion on a Sidevalve Ford V8. would it have been one of these ?

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#76 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 21:36

What an incredible coincidence!

No... Lou Abrahams built the Tornado heads himself in Melbourne. The one pair of heads went first into a boat (the boat was called Tornado, hence the heads were named such), then into the race car. When that car, an Alta, crashed in 1955 they were transferred to the new car. When a Corvette engine became more attractive, they were put into a road car, when that was put off the road they were stashed under a bench.

When somebody cleaned up one day...

#77 Ron B.

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 22:12

Oh gawd,you don't mean the heads were scrapped?!..do any pictures exist of the Ford conversion?
I have seen pics on here of a single seater with Ardun Heads racing in Australia. Ardun heads ( Arcus Duntov,the father of the performance Corvette as it happened ) themselves fetch huge money and are reproduced in the USA. The tornado heads heads in the flyer were made by Lee Chapel who managed 224+ mph in 1952 in a streamliner on Bonneville salt flats,so they worked well. :)

#78 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 01:18

Another from the Roycroft shed.

This is the RJR Special. Based on the Symonds Halliwell Special that Ron bought in 1956. Fitted with a Jaguar engine.

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#79 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:02

The smaller version of the Ardun heads shouldn't be hard to find...

Originally built for the V8/60 engines, they went into mass production in South America in the late sixties when Chrysler needed to update the Esplanada, the vestiges of the Simca Vedette. Here's a pic of one:

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And yes, the Tornado heads were scrapped... along with the patterns.

Someone would surely have pics of the engine, though. John Medley?

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#80 Ron B.

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 02:35

I have seen the Simca vedette in sprint cars a long time ago but I have never heard of a conversion for those. The V860 did have some Ardun heads made,something like 6 sets. ($$$$$). Allard stuff is easier to find that those. :) .
The Simca parts won't fit a V860 which are highly collectible on their own today and not to be confused with the 21 stud V8's, especially the tin sided ones with the welded water jackets.
Hmmmm...I wonder where i could track some of those down....;)
There were a lot of "tool room " conversions for Fords built. Joe Davis built a beautiful DOHC conversion in the early 50's.
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http://www.roadsters...flathead/#Davis
Ford did have ideas of building DOHC engines,heres a link to his patent.
http://www.google.co...ford#PPA1943,M1

#81 hatrat

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 04:57

I think the RJR is with Peter Benbrook now.

Here are a couple of early NZ Specials (George Smith at the rear in one of his early creations).

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#82 David McKinney

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 07:08

Not George Smith but the car's next owner, Frank Shuter
The car in front is Fred Sharman's V8 Special

#83 hatrat

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 09:55

Should have picked it up that George didn't usually wear a white helmet - he had a darker one.

Here he is is the same car:

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and another shot sans helmet:

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#84 bradbury west

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:02

I don't do patronising, but this is just brilliant
Roger Lund

#85 john medley

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:14

Hear. Hear.

Just Brilliant

#86 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:14

Originally posted by bradbury west
I don't do patronising, but this is just brilliant


Sure is... but will they tell us where that pic of the two Kiwi Ford V8s was taken?

#87 David Shaw

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 11:35

I'll take a punt on it being Mairehau near Christchurch.

#88 David McKinney

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 12:33

That's what I would have said, David
Wasn't sure enough though, because they both raced on a dirt track the same year (1952) and I haven't seen enough photos from there to be sure
That does look like Mr Macadam's finest in the foreground, though, which makes me think Mairehau is the more likely

#89 bradbury west

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 13:31

With all the talk of Ron Roycroft, it may be timely to mention Scott Thomsons' book;
Up to Speed, the Roycroft years in NZ motor racing
publ. by Steele Roberts, PO Box 9321, Wellington, Aotearoa, NZ
info@steeleroberts.co.nz
www.steeleroberts.co.nz

A very comprehensive volume based on the Roycroft archives etc.. Very good service from the publ.
usual disclaimers

Roger Lund

#90 Ron B.

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 22:04

I'll have to save up and buy that! thanks for the headsup!.
Heres one,the Dunstan Rotary valve head-- in the BBM? Pic was sent to mer from someone who bought them on fleabay.
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#91 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 23:11

That looks more like a speedway car, Ron...

It did run in speedway, didn't it? Maybe with different cam timing?

#92 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 23:48

Looks like a midget,plus the constant flow injection. Very rare piece though.

#93 Ron B.

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 13:03

T.P.Cholmondeley -Tapper would have to be the spiritual Father of racing in New Zealand although practically unknown by most fans. This was his Buggati in the 1930's and the basis for a bit of special building in OZ.


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The car is for sale today in the 1937 mode.

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This is the blurb from the classic cars for sale site.Chassis Number 37332 has a fascinating history, having been sold new in London as a standard T37 with 4 cylinder 1496cc single overhead cam engine and naturally aspirated. In 1931 it was acquired by Miss Eileen Ellison and T.P.Cholmondeley Tapper, an expatriate New Zealander and sometime racing driver who vividly describes his exploits with this car in his lovely book Amateur Racing Driver. The pair of them (although Miss Ellison scarcely gets a mention in the account) raced it for about five years in England, on the Continent and even further abroad in South Africa with considerable success.
During this period the car underwent a number of changes to make it both more reliable and more competitive, which included fitting a pressure-fed crankshaft, special stronger con-rods and a supercharger from another Type 37A. The brakes were replaced with a larger set from a Type 44 touring car and the distributor gave way to a magneto. Cholmondeley Tapper reported that, after fitting the supercharger, he was plagued with oil loss from the crankcase breather, a problem not solved until the engine was replaced with a new Type 37A one at the Bugatti Works in 1935. In 1936 he purchased a Maserati and thus sold the Bugatti to a Lieutenant Lakin in the Royal Navy and he commissioned Leslie Ballamy to convert the front suspension to one of his swing-axle designs. Ballamy had at the time a thriving business converting beam-axled cars to divided-axle IFS. This was achieved using a single transverse leaf spring and bending the dumb irons of the Bugatti chassis inwards to provide a front pivot point for the new wishbone suspension. A narrow streamlined nose enclosed the specially made radiator, giving the car a sense of purpose. Ballamy drove the Bugatti at Prescott in 1937 and won the Novice’s Cup. At Brooklands, the great Richard Seaman agreed to drive the Bugatti in the 1938 Brooklands Whitsun Meeting but only managed two laps, the car being raced at Brooklands again in September when the engine expired. By 1952 it had been sold to a John Cummins in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and he took it to Australia where he installed a Holden engine and thence competed for many years in various hillclimbs and race meetings, sometimes in bare chassis form. He sold it in 1963 and it was eventually bought by T. Roberts in 1980 and who already had the original blower and associated parts for the car, so set about returning it to its original form and retaining the Ballamy front suspension. He painted it white as per the original Tapper/Ellison days.
The current owner decided to return it to its more distinctive form as the ‘Ballamy Bugatti’ and entrusted Auto Restorations in New Zealand for this; using period photos a new nose was made in the Ballamy style with a special radiator fitted inside. The rest of the bodywork panels are original except the bonnet (which is from a Works T35). Nineteen inch wheels have replaced the sixteens and the brakes, which had been converted to hydraulic operation in Australia, were converted back to mechanical operation which allows for vintage racing eligibility. The paint was changed to the current blue and the IFS was crack-tested and overhauled. Both the compression ratio and blower boost pressure have been raised to exploit modern fuel octane ratings. For practicality the car is fitted with an electric starter, battery and charging system. The Brooklands exhaust is not strictly correct for the Ballamy era but looks the part! The engine puts out about 100bhp or so, plenty.
Offered fully restored and prepared ready to go, the Bugatti is already accepted for the 2009 Australian GP demonstration event. With a fascinating and virtually continuous ownership history ‘The Ballamy’ is log-booked and comes with a certificate of historic classification.

#94 David McKinney

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 14:05

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Any Kiwis remember this one?
It was raced all over the country by its constructor in 1958 and 1959, and by the next owner in 1960 and 1961
Photo: wenoopy

#95 hatrat

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 21:01

How about the Reg McCutcheon Normac MkIII that was subsequently sold to Alistair McBeath?

#96 David McKinney

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 21:51

Sounds good :D

#97 onelung

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 22:46

Wasn't there a speed boat in South Oz which raced with a Dunstan head? I'm not absolutely certain on that, but I clearly remember there was a Waggot head motor in another one at the same place (Snowden's Beach, Port River).
Of the latter boat, when asking the usual pimply-faced young boy question "what is it?" the response was .. the bottom half's Holden, and the top half's a work of art, son!

#98 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 22:46

What were the details, David?

It looks a pretty neat thing for the day...

#99 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 23:17

Details I do not know but yes there was Dunstall, Waggot and Repco headed boat motors. All of those engines were used in Midgets too. The theory of the Dunstall head was great but I believe they had more than a bit of sealing troubles.
The Waggotts made the most power though the Repcos were more driveable, both in midgets and sedans. And a Repco in a supermodified too!

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#100 onelung

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 23:41

No wonder my memory was jogged re the DunsTAN rotary head boat - take a look HERE .
Looks like it could have been a hydroplane rather than a skiff, too.