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Cortina GT500 - Ford's Bathurst Special of 1965


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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:41

To avoid all of this getting in the way on the BMC thread, where the discussion started, the following is a list of deviations the GT500 had from the standard 2-door Cortina GT (as sold in Australia) specification...

Engine:

Head ported and polished, ports matched with inlet and exhaust manifolds.
Camshaft reground by Wade Cams in Melbourne.
Dual choke Weber carburettor rejetted to match cam and head.
Larger conrod bolts (from Tansit?).
Higher spec main and big end bearings.
Pistons selected to give greater piston/bore clearance.
One-piece steel crankshaft pulley of smaller than original diameter (to slow generator and prevent cavitation of water pump).
Flywheel lightened.
Copper core plug leads with Bosch clip-on caps.
Colder plugs.
No air cleaner fitted to engine. Buyers did get one, it's said, in the boot, but none was fitted to the engine or specified.
Flywheel lightened.

Gearbox:

Lotus Cortina ratios with 2.5:1 first gear.

Suspension:

Lowered with heavier springs and dampers.
Standard GT wheels (4.0" x 13") were fitted with 165-13 radial ply tyres.

Brakes:

No backing plates on front discs.
Alan Standfield-made aluminium air scoops to front brakes.

Interior:

Rubber mats in place of carpets for lightness.

Fuel tank:

An additional 8.5-gallon (imperial) fuel tank was fabricated from aluminium and mounted behind the rear seat. Two filler necks from this protruded through rubber sealing rings in holes in the panel between the rear window and bootlid with quick-release aluminium caps on each. A large (possibly 2.5") hose ran from the base of this tank into the original tank under the boot floor.

Bodywork:

Round cover riveted over original fuel filler hole in rear panel.
'500' badges on rear flanks near original 'GT' badges.

I'll have to confirm it later, but it's possible the clutch was altered too. All modifications were carried out to Harry Firth's specifications in his Auburn workshop. 110 cars were built and registered between some time very early in 1965 and September. Ten cars were entered at Bathurst and they succeeded in winning the event. Bo Seton drove the winning car partnered by Midge Bosworth. Almost all of these cars achieved just over 110mph through the flying eighth on Conrod Straight during the event.


Edited by Ray Bell, 08 October 2021 - 10:58.


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#2 sterling49

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:49

Great thread Ray! Now then, my '66 GT, a dark blue facelift "aeroflow" model, had I believe, 78 bhp, and induction was via a twin choke downdraught Weber (28/36 DCD ?) and the usual thrills of four branch, fancy dials, nice seats (for the day!) and an awful UMBRELLA handbrake, I cannot see Roger Clark achieving good use of this contraption!!! However, the Cortina was such a great drive after mum's Anglia that I learnt to drive in, that had awful chairs (no they really were!) drum brakes and vague steering at best...........The Cortina and the Mini were the pioneers of fast cars for all, well done Walter Hayes and Alec Issogonis :up:

#3 Terry Walker

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:52

Guy in Perth - Dave Manners? - had one which he bought second hand and rallied for a while in the late 60s. It was the real deal, and eventually someone pried it from his fingers and it's probably restored now. Or racing! I can't remember it if was 2 or 4 door, but I do remember the twin fillers and the blanking plate on the original fuel filler. Red, with possibly a white upper.




#4 RTH

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:30

The MK1 Cortina was a big step forward in design and a great drive at an everyday price at the time, it is still a desirable car to own especially in GT or Lotus form.

#5 David Shaw

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:43

The MK1 Cortina was a big step forward in design and a great drive at an everyday price at the time, it is still a desirable car to own especially in GT or Lotus form.


Yes, my 1963 GT model last seen 18 years ago is still missed.

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:44

Originally posted by sterling49
Great thread Ray! Now then, my '66 GT, a dark blue facelift "aeroflow" model, had I believe, 78 bhp, and induction was via a twin choke downdraught Weber (28/36 DCD ?) and the usual thrills of four branch, fancy dials, nice seats (for the day!) and an awful UMBRELLA handbrake, I cannot see Roger Clark achieving good use of this contraption!!! However, the Cortina was such a great drive after mum's Anglia that I learnt to drive in, that had awful chairs (no they really were!) drum brakes and vague steering at best...........The Cortina and the Mini were the pioneers of fast cars for all, well done Walter Hayes and Alec Issogonis


I can't remember whether or not the GT500 had the umbrella brake handle... but I can see that you've led a deprived childhood!

You really needed a quality car in your life somewhere to show you the shortcomings of the Pommie Ford trash to which you became so inclined. At least Norm's had some 203s.

#7 Terry Walker

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:56

I briefly owned a June 1971 end-of-model series 2 Cortina GT, with all the gingerbread from the Geelong parts bin: Capri hubcaps, wood dash, cloth seats, vinyl roof, and it wasn't badged a GT but something else (XL??), but it had the lower stiffer suspension, GT engine, slight wider wheels and (ugh!) textile radials. It was less than 18 months old when I bought it, and it had sat in the sales yard because it was the same shade of yellow as the RAC WA cars and that's what the punters thought it was - ex RAC.

It's the only car I have every totalled. My faul entirely. It had a hell of a stiff ride, went like **** (the fastest car I'd owned to that date), and was a great car.

I still think the S2 Cortina was a great car. A mate in Canberra bought one for $150 dollars a few years later, with what seemed like a dicey engine. Was a bog standard version, early S2 with I think a willowy long gear lever. Turned out to be bad maintenance, no problem to cure, and an absolutel snap. He had a last-of-line Falcon 351 GT (XA?), and used this one as a round-town hack. Roomy, practical, simple. They don't make 'em like that any more.



#8 thunder427

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:57

Norm may have had 203's,but to add to the 'who had what section' Bob Jane raced a FIAT,4 wheel disc brakes ,4speed with synchro's,same car that Mr Norm was chasing down when he 'roofed' the 'Black' FX/Holden at Calder Park ,just out of 'Tin Shed' corner..................regards427

#9 sterling49

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 13:24

I can't remember whether or not the GT500 had the umbrella brake handle... but I can see that you've led a deprived childhood!

You really needed a quality car in your life somewhere to show you the shortcomings of the Pommie Ford trash to which you became so inclined. At least Norm's had some 203s.


Mum also had a Pug 403, like Colombo (same awful colour too), no fear of me whipping that off the drive Ray...............there was a short period, late '66-early '67 that Ford put 1,300 non x-flow engines in the Mk 11s, these were heavenly for anybody that went on to buy the Simca Alpines (Chrysler) that sounded like they had a man with a clack machine under the bonnets, tappet/camshaft noise was incredible.

#10 Paul Hurdsfield

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 13:24

Great thread Ray! Now then, my '66 GT, a dark blue facelift "aeroflow" model, had I believe, 78 bhp, and induction was via a twin choke downdraught Weber (28/36 DCD ?) and the usual thrills of four branch, fancy dials, nice seats (for the day!) and an awful UMBRELLA handbrake, I cannot see Roger Clark achieving good use of this contraption!!! However, the Cortina was such a great drive after mum's Anglia that I learnt to drive in, that had awful chairs (no they really were!) drum brakes and vague steering at best...........The Cortina and the Mini were the pioneers of fast cars for all, well done Walter Hayes and Alec Issogonis :up:



Hyah Sterling :wave: I had a 65' Mk1 GT aeroflow, Monaco red with a black stripe, yes they came with a 28/36 twin choke downdraft weber carb, and the dreaded umbrella handbrake, that was because of the centre console that the GTs had, the Std cars had a 'normal' handbrake. Mine was bored out to 85mm making 1650cc and with a pair of 40dcoe webers it made 100bhp, wow, back then that was mega power, and with 60s handling and brakes it was great fun, I blew that engine up on the M6 (I still have one of the pistons) :blush: When I rebuilt it I got a crankshaft from a Lotus 1558 engine from Westune in Bolton, (Pete West and John Myerscough ran the place, and ran escorts in special saloons, John also ran in F5000 for a while) I was able to re-use the block so I now had 1708cc, even better than before :lol: My wife and I have many happy memories of that car, we did most of our courting in it  ;) What really sickens me is I dont have a single photograph of it :well:

#11 sterling49

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 16:20

Hi Paul, sounds a lovely piece of kit, they looked fabulous in Monaco Red and yours had all the right bits on it, I remember Westune well, especially Myerscough, I wonder what the GT500 produced at the flywheel? The 1500 pushrod, was such a tractable unit, that responded well to tuning, as all of us remember the 1,650 c.c. Anglias racing, back in the day. I too, have no photos of my one :cry:

#12 RS2000

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 17:12

Westune, Bolton were of course known for preparing Jim Bullough's winning Mk1 Lotus Cortina and, later, Escort TC for the Motoring News Rally Championship, as well as the Internationals such as the RAC Rally (on which they serviced it at one time in a Mk3 Zephyr Estate). I believe there was finally a parting of the ways and then British Vita entered the picture (possibly because at that time BV were the Ford-favoured private preparation business that Clark and Simpson/David Sutton Cars later became?).
If this is to be a Cortina thread, Don Barrow has appeared on here and some of us would love to hear more about the earlier days with JB. If it is to revert to topic, judging whether the GT500 was a great car depends on knowing the exact regulations they had to run to and thus how well they took advantage of them. I'm afraid past articles that have appeared in Classic Ford etc. on the GT500 all fall down by not adequately explaining that aspect.

Edited by RS2000, 19 January 2010 - 17:12.


#13 sterling49

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 17:45

If Ray agrees, a Mk 1 thread would be great! Supersport (Rod and Ian Cooper) were pretty well known in preparing and driving Cortinas.

Don Barrow would have some great tales to tell................ :up:

#14 Ellis French

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 20:07

At Bathurst in 2005 (40-Year Anniversary of win) 10 genuine GT500's ....Most ever assembled in one spot since 1965 race.

Posted Image

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H Firth Viewpoint....RCN April 65
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It is widely accepted that not all GT500's were created equal...ie Port n polish and blue printing and other time consuming stuff didnt happen on all 110 cars...just the ones that mattered.

#15 Ellis French

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 21:01

Quote Ray Bell....

Fuel tank:

An additional 8.5-gallon (imperial) was fabricated from aluminium and mounted behind the rear seat. Two filler necks from this protruded through rubber sealing rings in holes in the panel between the rear window and bootlid with quick-release aluminium caps on each. A large (possibly 2.5") hose ran from the base of this tank into the original tank under the boot floor.

Bodywork:

Round cover riveted over original fuel filler hole in rear panel.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ray
The original fuel tank was turned around so filler pipe was at the back to meet up with the added tank easily by the hose you mentioned....not under the floor
The original tank also has a strengthening plate fixed to the top of it.

The added tank has 3 bolt in baffles.

The filler blank off plate has 4 screws not rivets at 12,3,6,9

The boot lid hinge has a stopper block to prevent lid hitting fillers when fully openned.

Boot also has a rubber mat ....(as well as interior of car mentioned).

The generator bracket is strengthened. (double and welded)

Air Cleaner was supplied in boot wrapped in brown packing paper.

Strengthening plates (flat with rolled lip) fitted on each side of rear inner guards.





#16 Dale Harvey

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 21:31

I still have a 1965 4 door GT sitting in the garage, with Twincam and close ratio gearbox fitted. Restored in 1990.
Dale.

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 22:29

Originally posted by sterling49
If Ray agrees, a Mk 1 thread would be great!


No thanks, guys...

Please keep it to the GT500, there would be so many tales of ordinary GTs and normal Mk1s and Mk2s and Lotus Cortinas that they would swamp the entire thread.

Maybe Twinny can put 'Exclusively' into the title?

Oh, and that website quoted on the BMC thread said they put out 98bhp at the flywheel. I would reckon that the best of them might have had a tad more, the majority (those other than the ones destined for Jane/Reynolds and the Geoghegans) possibly something less.

Only two official Ford entries that year with outright prospects and they both failed to finish, it was left to Bo Seton to bring home the bacon, but only just ahead of the legendary Bruce McPhee in another GT500.

One would have to conclude, too, that while Harry was examining the hundreds of heads from which he could choose, he would have used the very best unmodified ones to prepare the cars Ford entered in the lower classes.

#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 23:11

Originally posted by Ellis French
Ray
The original fuel tank was turned around so filler pipe was at the back to meet up with the added tank easily by the hose you mentioned....not under the floor
The original tank also has a strengthening plate fixed to the top of it.

The added tank has 3 bolt in baffles.

The filler blank off plate has 4 screws not rivets at 12,3,6,9

The boot lid hinge has a stopper block to prevent lid hitting fillers when fully opened.

Boot also has a rubber mat ....(as well as interior of car mentioned).

The generator bracket is strengthened. (double and welded)

Air Cleaner was supplied in boot wrapped in brown packing paper.

Strengthening plates (flat with rolled lip) fitted on each side of rear inner guards.


I should have checked my picture of the plate...

Posted Image

I'll check with Norm today on the generator bracket and inner guard strengthening. And by the way, the 'Norm' to whom I refer is the owner of the car, Norm Smith... an old friend of mine who also owns a Lotus Elan +2 and has all the bits to make up a Lotus Cortina out of a standard body he has there.

But he drives Pugs... of course.

I won't be checking to see if you're wrong, I might add, I'll just be making sure these things are on his car and on his list, which he couldn't find in a hurry last night.

Edited by Ray Bell, 19 January 2010 - 23:30.


#19 Ian G

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 00:06

No expert on all this as i was at School at the time but it was a model i always maintained an interest in,particulary in the 1990's and early 2000's when they hit the $20,000 + bracket,one car last Year had a price tag of $30,000 and the owner was honest enough to say it was reshelled. Buyers beware however,replica fuel tanks/fillers and brake scoops bob up on Ebay every so often, $500 for the tank and $600 for the scoops(or v.v.).
A couple of things that i have been told over the years and haven't been mentioned yet and may (and may not) be correct,there was no sound 'deadner' used on the panels and Ian Tate did the head work on the Bathurst cars,the rest were outsourced. Also the extra fuel tank and Lotus gears/ratios were homolagated for the Cortina GT Gp 1 car by Ford UK in 1964 so it was adapted by Firth not invented. I notice the Safari Rally cars had different ratios to the Bathurst cars however.




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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 01:35

Well, you'd have a hard time in a rally with a 2.5:1 first gear!

Been talking to Norm again. Just to put you in the picture, he's owned his car since it was ten months old. He's pretty fastidious with his cars and very much aware of what makes them tick. He's also gathered data on the GT500s because of his ownership and he was recently told by someone who is regarded as an expert that his is the most original he's seen.

Getting to the items listed by Ellis:

The original fuel tank was turned around so filler pipe was at the back to meet up with the added tank easily by the hose you mentioned....not under the floor
The original tank also has a strengthening plate fixed to the top of it.


Both incorrect, though it might appear correct to someone looking at one of these cars.

The original fuel tank was tapered upward slightly on the underside to give more ground clearance further from the axle, so it couldn't readily be turned around. So they took the filler neck off the back of it and soldered a plate over the hole. The filler neck was then grafted into the right front top of the tank, while there was also a small vent hose between the tanks.

The 'strengthening plate' was probably a dealer fix after the cars were sold, no doubt a warranty job. With regular use with the weight of the upper fuel tank over humps and bumps, they found the fuel tank tops started cracking, so what Norm describes as a 'bracket' was fixed over the top of the tank.

His car doesn't have this.

The added tank has 3 bolt in baffles.

Good point.

The filler blank off plate has 4 screws not rivets at 12,3,6,9

Covered previously with photo as well. Quite right, screws had Phillips heads.

The boot lid hinge has a stopper block to prevent lid hitting fillers when fully opened.

One each hinge, correct.

Boot also has a rubber mat ....(as well as interior of car mentioned).

Undoubtedly correct, we didn't discuss this.

The generator bracket is strengthened. (double and welded)

Top or bottom bracket?

Norm's car does not have anything different in either bracket to standard issue on Cortinas. It does have, however, lockwired bolts on the bottom bracket and has had since he bought it.

Air Cleaner was supplied in boot wrapped in brown packing paper.

Didn't know about the brown packing paper, but Norm had previously heard this. They were not a part of the cars' specifications, but undoubtedly supplied so engines wouldn't wear out too quickly (warranty...) with road use.

If they'd been fitted to the engines or mentioned in the specs, the Bathurst cars would have to use them. Clever Harry!

Strengthening plates (flat with rolled lip) fitted on each side of rear inner guards.

No sign of anything like this on Norm's car. He looked under the wheel arches and inside the boot, found nothing. There is, however, a stiffener on each side mounted between the parcel shelf and inner guards, but this was on all models in Australia.

The picture shows that in the 220 I photographed the same day:

Posted Image

Is that what you mean, Ellis?

Further to all of this, Norm consulted his GT500 parts list. Things not mentioned so far were:

Head gasket - not the fabric type, but the original Anglia 105E gasket (copper/asbestos/steel) was specificed and fitted. The normal type were prone to failure.

Thermostat - again, Harry was a cagey old type. No thermostat was fitted, but a brass restrictor plate was put in place with a hole about the size of that in the thermostat.

Double valve springs - additional inner springs were fitted.

Oil pressure raised - a spacer was fitted behind the pressure relief spring on the oil pump.

Copper-lead bearings - I mentioned this before, just clarifying the specification.

Inlet manifold roughly polished - as well as matched to the head.

Besides this, he says this isn't mentioned in the list but it's on all these cars...

Modified fan blades - a triangular piece cut off the tips to clear the longer crank pulley bolt.

Now, to further educate our British friends, here's something that all Australian Cortinas had:

Posted Image

A part of the 'export package' I understand, an extension to each end of the front crossmember with bump rubbers on it. And forged rather than pressed lower control arms.

I'm sure all the Dagenham rally cars got these!

Another thing, which I can't give you in a photo, is a brace that was welded between the inner guards and the scuttle/firewall. The only underbonnet pics I have don't show these as they apparently weren't there on the 220 model... the only car I've fully photographed.

By the way, it's a 220 that Norm has in his shed for conversion to Lotus Cortina specs, and he's compared the rear inner guard detail with that car and sees no difference (as mentioned above) between that and the GT500 in that area.

Edited by Ray Bell, 20 January 2010 - 01:37.


#21 Ellis French

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 02:51

No expert on all this as i was at School at the time but it was a model i always maintained an interest in,particulary in the 1990's and early 2000's when they hit the $20,000 + bracket,one car last Year had a price tag of $30,000 and the owner was honest enough to say it was reshelled. Buyers beware however,replica fuel tanks/fillers and brake scoops bob up on Ebay every so often, $500 for the tank and $600 for the scoops(or v.v.).
A couple of things that i have been told over the years and haven't been mentioned yet and may (and may not) be correct,there was no sound 'deadner' used on the panels and Ian Tate did the head work on the Bathurst cars,the rest were outsourced. Also the extra fuel tank and Lotus gears/ratios were homolagated for the Cortina GT Gp 1 car by Ford UK in 1964 so it was adapted by Firth not invented. I notice the Safari Rally cars had different ratios to the Bathurst cars however.



Its generally accepted that around the 1st 20 built had no sound deadner....so maybe all the cars destined for competition. The others as mentioned in a previous post had minimal or no time consuming work done to engines etc....they were simply built to make up the numbers with less time spent on them. From the outside they looked like a GT500.

Harry's book notes that Ford supplied all the parts and bought in the brake air scoops and longdistance fuel tanks.
The tank brackets were locally built.
It also mentions all genuine Cyl heads were done and are marked by Ian Tate.




#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 02:59

By the way, Norm told me he's read somewhere that Harry had a prototype for a 1966 build to meet further challenges...

This one, to be called a 'GTB', added a pair of DCOE Webers, a higher compression ratio and 5½" Lotus Cortina steel wheels to the list. It was quashed when the ARDC demanded 250 identical cars as the qualifying figure from 1956.

#23 Ellis French

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 03:07

No expert on all this as i was at School at the time but it was a model i always maintained an interest in,particulary in the 1990's and early 2000's when they hit the $20,000 + bracket,one car last Year had a price tag of $30,000 and the owner was honest enough to say it was reshelled. Buyers beware however,replica fuel tanks/fillers and brake scoops bob up on Ebay every so often, $500 for the tank and $600 for the scoops(or v.v.).
A couple of things that i have been told over the years and haven't been mentioned yet and may (and may not) be correct,there was no sound 'deadner' used on the panels and Ian Tate did the head work on the Bathurst cars,the rest were outsourced. Also the extra fuel tank and Lotus gears/ratios were homolagated for the Cortina GT Gp 1 car by Ford UK in 1964 so it was adapted by Firth not invented. I notice the Safari Rally cars had different ratios to the Bathurst cars however.



Its generally accepted that around the 1st 20 built had no sound deadner....so maybe all the cars destined for competition. The others as mentioned in a previous post had minimal or no time consuming work done to engines etc....they were simply built to make up the numbers with less time spent on them. From the outside they looked like a GT500.

Harry's book notes that Ford supplied all the parts and bought in the brake air scoops and longdistance fuel tanks.

It also mentions all genuine Cyl heads were done and are marked/signed by Ian Tate.




#24 Team Result

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 03:17

By the way, Norm told me he's read somewhere that Harry had a prototype for a 1966 build to meet further challenges...

This one, to be called a 'GTB', added a pair of DCOE Webers, a higher compression ratio and 5½" Lotus Cortina steel wheels to the list. It was quashed when the ARDC demanded 250 identical cars as the qualifying figure from 1956.


A slip of your fingers on the keys, Ray? I presume you meant to write 1966. A quick question: I always believed GTs (Australian delivery) were all four-door models, making that another distinction between those and the GT500s, can anyone correct my belief?

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 03:29

There was a time when they were all 4-door...

But by qualifying time for the '64 Bathurst race they were available in both 2-door and 4-door. The cars at Bathurst that year were 2-doors. The GT500s were specifically built from 2-door GTs, not 2-door 440s upgraded.

Yes, I did mean 1966.

#26 Team Result

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 04:29

There was a time when they were all 4-door...

But by qualifying time for the '64 Bathurst race they were available in both 2-door and 4-door. The cars at Bathurst that year were 2-doors. The GT500s were specifically built from 2-door GTs, not 2-door 440s upgraded.

Yes, I did mean 1966.

Thanks for the correction, Ray. The penny should have dropped with the GT500 badging explanation, earlier in this thread.
My $150 GT was a four-door and I always was envious of my mate's GT500, 'course the 2-doors were only a part of that envy!


#27 Ellis French

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 05:06

There was a time when they were all 4-door...

But by qualifying time for the '64 Bathurst race they were available in both 2-door and 4-door. The cars at Bathurst that year were 2-doors. The GT500s were specifically built from 2-door GTs, not 2-door 440s upgraded.

Yes, I did mean 1966.



Ray
2 Door 440's would be pretty rare...lol

The model number for the 2 door GT/GT500 is 27134

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 06:12

Of course...

We'd be looking at 240s, like Glynn Scott drove in that race. And finished first in class and a lap behind two of the 220s.

#29 cooper997

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 07:51

I don't believe it has been covered in either this, or where this all began in the the BMC thread. The reason for building the 110 GT500's was because a Lotus-Cortina was way over the price limit for Armstrong 500 eligibility. Plus there was never going to be enough of them sold & registered in Australia in any given year. Classes were based on the car's price, not its engine capacity. Hence the GT500 ended up in Class D - £1301 to £2000. This was the event's highest price bracket.

They were built over a 4 month period - March, April, May & June 1965.

BGT Brake & Clutch (originally Auburn, Melbourne-based - now Dandenong) built up a special clutch that utilised a Rootes Group pressure plate.

Alan Stanfield made the brake ducts & the extra fuel tank.

Although already mentioned, Ian Tate is still playing with racing cars and for many years ran his business from Harry's Auburn workshop (where the GT500 was originally modified). He's also long time President of the Victorian Historic Racing Register - the promoter of Phillip Island Historics.

Frank Lowndes was another one of Harry's mechanics that worked on the GT500 and is probably better known these days as father of V8 Taxi, sorry Supercars driver, Craig Lowndes.

Harry Firth told me at Calder in 2006 that he did build a prototype GT 500 Mk2 (still Mk1 Cortina body) with twin Webers for potentially running in 1966. When the idea was canned he took it rallying. And for the 1966 Gallaher 500 (new sponsor, as in Irish Tobacco Company) at Bathurst, he did a "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" scenario and ran a BMC Australia Morris Cooper S.

If you've ever seen Harry's old workshop in Queens Avenue, Auburn, you'd wonder how the hell they ever managed to turn around 110 Cortinas in 4 months. Of course after Ford pulled the pin on Harry, his workshop changed to Holden preparing his HDT (Holden Dealer Team) Monaros & Toranas.

So the GT500 was a one race wonder, but won the race it was built for. It's winner was Barry 'Bo' Seton & Midge Bosworth (we need more info on Midge folks). Bo being father of Glenn Seton who raced in ATCC/V8 Supercars in Nissans & Ford's during the last 25 or so years. The pressure was on Glenn in 1995 for the 30th anniversary of the GT500 victory. Had he won the '95 Bathurst race he had the choice to take loot (30 grand IIRC) or take his old man's winning GT500. He didn't win the race though. Last I saw in 2006, that winning GT500 was on display at the Bathurst Motor Racing Museum.

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 26 September 2020 - 12:45.


#30 seldo

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 08:26

I recall at the time my mate's Mum was about to buy a new car so between us we convinced her that this was the ideal gadget... So I arranged for an order for a white/red GT500 from City Ford for her. Funnily enough she hated it as it was very hard to get off the line with the tall 1st gear....so we able to use it almost at will. Ron wasn't much of a driver and used to ask me to drive it, and we took it to the Castlereagh drags one day where I managed a (I thought) fairly credible 17.8sec for the 1/4. Getting off the line was very brutal - red-line the tacho and simply side-step the clutch, but even with that it hardly leapt off the line and would bog to about 3000 rpm before it got going again. Another detail is that I feel it had Michelin Xs as standard

#31 gkennedy

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:17

& Midge Bosworth (we need more info on Midge folks).

I'm sure others can add a lot more, but: Midge Bosworth was a fellow humpy Holden racer along with Barry Seton during the 'Neptune Series' days at Catalina Park in the early - mid-sixties. I can't remember him ever winning, but I remember him being one of the quicker drivers, although (IIRC) his car was a bit on the untidy side. He'd still be in his sixties, so still a young bloke, if not as young as he was as the 'Youngest ever Bathurst winner' - a title he held for about thirty years, until young Craig Lowndes came along. I'm trying to recall Midge's actual name. I knew it, but... no - gone.

I remember Allan Stanfield who made the GT500 alloy brake scoops. I went to his factory at Botany one day with Doug Chivas. Allan and his dad did like the old saying told him to do: Build a better mouse trap. They made 'Supreme' rat and mouse traps. I think they're still around - the mouse traps, that is.


#32 wagons46

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:19

Midge Bosworth was a Liverpool boy and good mate of Bo's, worked most of his working life for A C McGrath the Liverpool Holden Dealer and held in very high regard by Bert McGrath. He was one of the appendix J Holden competitors in the early 60's and drove a black FX just as immaculate as Bo's at Catalina, the Farm, Oran Park and Bathurst, even going to Sandown for the Holden race in 1962. Good mates got him the GT500 drive at Bathurst in 65 and his great effort was rewarded with a win. He moved to the Gold Coast later in life where I believe he still is. Midge was 24 yrs old when he won Bathurst in 1965.

Edited by wagons46, 20 January 2010 - 09:35.


#33 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:31

Cooper... Midge Bosworth was one of the old regulars in FJ and 48/215 racing around the Sydney circuits. He wasn't in the top rank, but a mid-fielder. Bo Seton was always among the fastest of that crop, and contrary to your thoughts that he's best known as Glenn's father I'd rather think of him as the man who set most fastest laps at Bathurst and punted some of the fastest tintops around.

The man who lost his job with the loss of Ecurie Australie was actually Alan Ashton. Alan Standfield was in Sydney and purely worked the aluminium sheetmetal. Today he lives in Grafton and some of the GT500 owners catch up with him to get repairs done on their brake ducts.

I posted originally that Norm wasn't sure about the clutch. It seems it didn't come up on his list today, though it might be he missed it. I'll let you know, he does say the clutch was marginal.

#34 gkennedy

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:10

and drove a black FX just as immaculate as Bo's at Catalina,

SORRY! Maybe I remember it after a previous bad weekend.

Edited by gkennedy, 20 January 2010 - 10:10.


#35 Ellis French

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:27

Quote Ray...
"Getting to the items listed by Ellis:

The original fuel tank was turned around so filler pipe was at the back to meet up with the added tank easily by the hose you mentioned....not under the floor
The original tank also has a strengthening plate fixed to the top of it.

Both incorrect, though it might appear correct to someone looking at one of these cars.

The original fuel tank was tapered upward slightly on the underside to give more ground clearance further from the axle, so it couldn't readily be turned around. So they took the filler neck off the back of it and soldered a plate over the hole. The filler neck was then grafted into the right front top of the tank, while there was also a small vent hose between the tanks.

The 'strengthening plate' was probably a dealer fix after the cars were sold, no doubt a warranty job. With regular use with the weight of the upper fuel tank over humps and bumps, they found the fuel tank tops started cracking, so what Norm describes as a 'bracket' was fixed over the top of the tank.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ray...
My bad wording re the tank filler. I meant the filler was turned around toward the rear of the tank..not the whole tank as it reads.

Bracket = strengthening plate. Its about 2" wide and goes right across the tank to stop cracking etc as described. It is probably a warranty fix by dealers and/or Firths as a result of rallying.

The boot lid..... one stop plate on LHS hinge looking into boot.

The inner guard support is visible in your pic in a previous post .After checking, my info source says on all post 63 bodies not just the 65 GT500 so its not 500 specific but should be there. Early Lotus C's used to ripple the back guards.

The Gen...top bracket is double and welded while lower is HD as per GT and nuts wire locked as described. The welded brackets are not listed separately in the 500 parts list and may have evolved as a fix.

The original aux tanks definitely have bolt in baffles and the bolts are clearly visible. There are 2 bolts in each baffle on the side of the tank that is visible.

Some of the 500's had 2.5 lock to lock steering in lieu of the standard GT 3.2 but this doesnt appear backed up by documentation.

Regards
Ellis

Edited by Ellis French, 21 January 2010 - 01:21.


#36 cooper997

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:35

Thanks gkennedy, wagons46 & Ray for info on Midge Bosworth. The reason I asked for more info was he virtually disappeared without trace, after the race. In fact I sometimes wondered whether Joe Bosworth on here was him, under his real name.

My turn for a cock-up, getting my Alan's mixed up. Once I read 'Ashton' it was one of those "you d**khead moments".

Stephen

#37 Ian G

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 23:02

I remember Allan Stanfield who made the GT500 alloy brake scoops. I went to his factory at Botany one day with Doug Chivas. Allan and his dad did like the old saying told him to do: Build a better mouse trap. They made 'Supreme' rat and mouse traps. I think they're still around - the mouse traps, that is.


The machine that made them is in(or going to be) the Power House Museum,iconic product.

Slightly OT but this this thread has got my memory banks working,does anyone know details of the supercharger Firth fitted to the GT(may have been Lotus's) Cortina's,i think they were intended for Rallying. Google doesn't bring anything up,i had all the details in a motoring mag. but they were ruined by water in storeage and i tossed the lot out about 10 Years ago.




#38 Ellis French

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 01:18

The machine that made them is in(or going to be) the Power House Museum,iconic product.

Slightly OT but this this thread has got my memory banks working,does anyone know details of the supercharger Firth fitted to the GT(may have been Lotus's) Cortina's,i think they were intended for Rallying. Google doesn't bring anything up,i had all the details in a motoring mag. but they were ruined by water in storeage and i tossed the lot out about 10 Years ago.

----------------------------------------

The Supercharger he fitted to a Lotus Cortina is mentioned in the DVD ....The Fox...The Harry Firth Story....Chevron.
He sourced it from under his house I think and it was plugged up with a Hobart Mercury newspaper to keep the bugs out, dated 1961. I am not sure if this is the one you refer to.

#39 Ian G

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 03:07

----------------------------------------

The Supercharger he fitted to a Lotus Cortina is mentioned in the DVD ....The Fox...The Harry Firth Story....Chevron.
He sourced it from under his house I think and it was plugged up with a Hobart Mercury newspaper to keep the bugs out, dated 1961. I am not sure if this is the one you refer to.


Thanks,i haven't seen the DVD,i'll track it down, the supercharged Cortina's ran in Rallies in the mid 1960's(i think) and not sure if Firth drove or just prepared them. A friend happened to mention them(i had forgotten about the supercharged ones) a couple of Years ago,he thought they would make a good Historical Rally car but it would open a can of worms for elgibility unless you could get one of the originals.



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#40 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 03:14

----------------------------------------

The Supercharger he fitted to a Lotus Cortina is mentioned in the DVD ....The Fox...The Harry Firth Story....Chevron.
He sourced it from under his house I think and it was plugged up with a Hobart Mercury newspaper to keep the bugs out, dated 1961. I am not sure if this is the one you refer to.

I have heard a similar story about the blower on the Beast, the HDT LC Rallycross car. The blower was also supposed to have been on Harrys MG.


#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:02

That's right, so it was probably the same supercharger...

Ian Tate also has a supercharger that's been lying around unused for a long time, I wonder if it got a run too? It was from the Ian Mountain Peugeot Special.

But we're getting off topic.

#42 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:24

Got a note back from Norm on the clutch:

"I'm sure the clutch is the same as the GT. Nothing appears in the parts listing. It's a pissy little spring thing that cannot cope with the tall first gear. When I get the car going again I'll use a Lotus Cortina diaphragm which is larger in diameter. Need to use a four bolt Lotus flywheel and a Ford Anglia 105E bell housing.
This is another of a few modifications that should have been made to all the cars."

#43 Ellis French

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:55

Got a note back from Norm on the clutch:

"I'm sure the clutch is the same as the GT. Nothing appears in the parts listing. It's a pissy little spring thing that cannot cope with the tall first gear. When I get the car going again I'll use a Lotus Cortina diaphragm which is larger in diameter. Need to use a four bolt Lotus flywheel and a Ford Anglia 105E bell housing.
This is another of a few modifications that should have been made to all the cars."





There is an optional pressure plate listed...same part no. twice
No mention of optional plate

If you read Harry's book on the GT500's he says wouldnt let the truckies load the cars onto upper decks of the transporters for delivery as they cooked the clutches doing it. They later only used low loaders as a result. He preferred the Dealers to come and pick them up on trade plates where possible.

The Seton /Bosworth car was never especially prepared for racing at Auburn Rd according to Harry but was an off the shelf car so to speak. Harry asked Seton in later years what he did to the car and was told they basically just balanced the engine.....which supposedly should have been already done.

There is an interesting story re the winning car. It was supplied still in its damaged race state for a 3 day road test evaluation. At some stage during the test the headlights were turned on (one had been broken during the race, maybe the Mini Cooper incident or a rock) and the car wiring caught fire. Wonder if the same may have occurred if they had turned them on during the race. The car had to be towed back and a new wiring loom fitted.







#44 Ian G

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 07:34

For anyone interested there's a copy of the 20+ page Ford Service Bulletin for the 500 on Ebay at the moment,A$15 which is fair considering the normal Ebay ripoff. I wish i had kept all my BMC Technical bulletins and Competition parts literature,worth a small fortune now to enthusiasts.

Ebay GT 500 Link.




#45 wagons46

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 07:40

[quote name='Ellis French' date='Jan 21 2010, 17:55' post='40885.

The Seton /Bosworth car was never especially prepared for racing at Auburn Rd according to Harry but was an off the shelf car so to speak. Harry asked Seton in later years what he did to the car and was told they basically just balanced the engine.....which supposedly should have been already done.


[/quote]

...........and that's all you could do to the engine, BUT rest assured Bo went through the whole car with a fine tooth comb, and that is why they never lifted the bonnet or changed a wheel and survived 500 miles ahead of everyone else.

#46 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 08:39

It would be interesting to know what Bruce McPhee did to prepare the second placed car...

Bruce was a cunning old bloke, probably smarter than Harry I'd say. He would have waved some magic wand over his, it was the fastest down Conrod in the race IIRC and it had to come through the field after a first lap incident to get second place.

#47 cooper997

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:37

Here it is... the full Class D entry list. As published for the punters who paid their 2 shillings for the official programme.

Armstrong 500, Bathurst - October 3rd, 1965

Class D - SALOON CARS £1,301 to £2,000

CAR No. ENTRANT / DRIVERS CAR COLOUR
1D FORD MOTOR COY Ford Cortina GT500 White
L.Geoghegan, I Geoghegan
2D CONTINENTAL & GENERAL DISTRIBUTORS
PTY LTD Studebaker Blue/White
F Sutherland, A Mottram
3D BRITISH & CONTINENTAL CARS
PTY LTD Volvo 122S Cream
J Martin, TBN
4D GRAWILL MOTORS PTY LTD Ford Cortina GT500 White
B McPhee, B Mulholland
5D BRITISH & CONTINENTAL CARS
PTY LTD Volvo 122S Red
G Ward, B Collerson
6D CANBERRA SPEED SHOP Ford Cortina GT500 White
P Brown, R Gulson
7D AUSTRALIAN MOTOR INDUSTRIES Triumph 2000 Red
M Stewart, R Young
8D D WALKER Ford Cortina GT500 Green
D Walker, C Kennedy
9D K RUSSELL Triumph 2000 Green
K Russell, C Wear
10D NEEDHAM’S MOTORS PTY LTD Studebaker Blue/White
W Weldon, W Slattery
11D FAIRFIELD MOTORS PTY LTD Ford Cortina GT500 Ivory
B Seton, M Bosworth
12D HUNT BROS (Sydney) MOTORS
PTY LTD Ford Cortina GT500 White
W McLachlan, J Murray
13D R SALTER Ford Cortina GT500 Grey
R Salter, K Wiggins
14D FORD MOTOR COY Ford Cortina GT500 White
R Jane, G Reynolds
15D BELVEDERE MOTORS Ford Cortina GT500 White
R Beasley, R Hodgson
16D OTTEN MOTORS Fiat 2300 Blue
A Otten, M Crampton
17D A DAVIS Ford Cortina GT500 White/Brown
A Davis, M Mander

A few observations (that I hope I've got correct).
3D ended up having Bill Ford (ARDC Pres) & Des West drive it. David Walker went on to race Lotus 72's in F1. The Andrew Davis & Bob Salter GT500's had already been written off & rebuilt (or were replacement cars) prior to the race. Des West & Andrew Davis were one of the very first to race Minis (Morris 850) in Australia. Barry Collerson had raced a Lago-Talbot. And no doubt there's plenty of other anecdotes you can all add.

Stephen

#48 cooper997

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:43

...I wish i had kept all my BMC Technical bulletins and Competition parts literature, worth a small fortune now to enthusiasts.


Yes Ian, I'll have to agree with that. I'm always on the hunt for interesting BMC & Mini related trinkets (sorry Twini, just evening up the balance for the 'F' talk on the BMC thread).

Stephen

#49 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 13:00

And to put some results in to tidy it all up:

CAR No. ENTRANT / DRIVERS CAR COLOUR
1D FORD MOTOR COY Ford Cortina GT500 White
Leo Geoghegan, Ian Geoghegan

Disqualified. Lost two laps early changing plugs, given black flag after the engine was restarted before refuelling was completed later in race. Protested and allowed to run to finish, completed full race distance.

2D CONTINENTAL & GENERAL DISTRIBUTORS
PTY LTD Studebaker Blue/White
Fred Sutherland, Alan Mottram

13th outright, 6th in class on 120 laps

3D BRITISH & CONTINENTAL CARS
PTY LTD Volvo 122S Cream
John Martin, TBN

12th outright, 5th in class, 106.3mph driven by Bill Ford and Des West, 121 laps

4D GRAWILL MOTORS PTY LTD Ford Cortina GT500 White
Bruce McPhee, Barry Mulholland

2nd outright and in class, 111.6mph on Conrod.

5D BRITISH & CONTINENTAL CARS
PTY LTD Volvo 122S Red
Grahame Ward, Barry Collerson

16th outright, 7th in class, 108.9mph (Ward's road car?) 118 laps

6D CANBERRA SPEED SHOP Ford Cortina GT500 White
Peter Brown, Ray Gulson

34th outright, 9th in class, 111.9mph, 106 laps. Driver changed diff out on circuit borrowing one from the Hodgson car parked nearby!

7D AUSTRALIAN MOTOR INDUSTRIES Triumph 2000 Red
Max Stewart, Bob Young

10th outright, 4th in class, 105.2mph, 124 laps. Bob Young was a Vee driver.

8D D WALKER Ford Cortina GT500 Green
David Walker, Carl Kennedy

40th outright, 11th in class, 108.9mph, 64 laps, last race finisher. Broke con-rod, raided spare car for parts to rebuild engine and rejoin.

9D K RUSSELL Triumph 2000 Green
Keith Russell, Col Wear

Rolled in esses after 60 laps, retired.

10D NEEDHAM’S MOTORS PTY LTD Studebaker Blue/White
Warren Weldon, Bill Slattery

27th outright, 8th in class, 123.9mph, 112 laps. Took the lead early but soon had brake problems.

11D FAIRFIELD MOTORS PTY LTD Ford Cortina GT500 Ivory
Barry Seton, Midge Bosworth

1st outright and in class, led most of the second half of the race, 110.5mph on Conrod Straight.

12D HUNT BROS (Sydney) MOTORS
PTY LTD Ford Cortina GT500 White
Bill McLachlan, Jack Murray

5th outright, 3rd in class, 109.4mph, 128 laps, a great finale to a pair of greats from Bathurst's past. I'm sure this was the weekend Jack Murray drove all around Bathurst sounding off with his Coocooracha air horns in some great Yank Tank.

13D R SALTER Ford Cortina GT500 Grey
Bob Salter, Ken Wiggins

37th outright, 10th in class, 110.5mph, 97 laps. Blew diff.

14D FORD MOTOR COY Ford Cortina GT500 White
Bob Jane, George Reynolds

Broke No 4 con-rod at 58 laps, coasted to pits to retire.

15D BELVEDERE MOTORS Ford Cortina GT500 White
Bob Beasley, Ron Hodgson

Broke con-rod at 54 laps, retired on circuit.

16D OTTEN MOTORS Fiat 2300 Blue
Fred Otten, Mike Crampton

Retired at 65 laps, 'oil shield' given as explanation in Bathurst book.

17D A DAVIS Ford Cortina GT500 White/Brown
Arthur Davis, Paul Mander

Crash caused retirement at 14 laps. Davis was spectacular and hit a tree.




#50 lotcor

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 23:27

If anyone is interested, Harry will be making copies of the original GT500 owners manual with some
important markups that may of occured during the build.
Tim.