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Early Lotus sales outlets in Australia


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#101 275 GTB-4

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Posted 19 October 2014 - 22:55

Ohhhh dear...looks like we may have lost a 6 or 7 (looks like a 7) in Goulburn (car said to be newly restored)...commiserations to the owner

http://www.goulburnp...oulburn/?cs=181

Edited by 275 GTB-4, 19 October 2014 - 23:06.


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#102 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 October 2014 - 23:49

Ten to one it wasn't even a Lotus...

The newspaper only said it might be.

#103 GMACKIE

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 00:12

It was a Lotus...and a very nice one too. :cry:



#104 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 00:36

It would have been a shame even if it wasn't...

It looks like a good enough fire to melt all the alloy and destroy the frame, soften the axles too, probably.

#105 GreenMachine

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 02:24

7 S4?  Radio talked about burning fibreglass ...



#106 275 GTB-4

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 05:00

Ten to one it wasn't even a Lotus...

The newspaper only said it might be.


I'll have $100 on the nose at those odds....mine and Buckley's chance of getting a dividend though...

#107 275 GTB-4

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 05:03

7 S4?  Radio talked about burning fibreglass ...


Well heard there GM..quite possibly..there are several in ACT (don't know about GLBN)

EDIT: front guards look more like cycle rather than the S4 full guards...

Edited by 275 GTB-4, 20 October 2014 - 05:45.


#108 GMACKIE

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 06:23

I'll make it easier for you.....it starts with 'E'. :lol:

 

GM



#109 Catalina Park

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 06:53

Lotus Esprit.

#110 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 08:24

Oh, they burn really well...

All that will be left is some ash, a rusty crankshaft, some gears and a puddle of molten aluminium.

#111 DanTra2858

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 08:55

The Europa was also prone to catching fire, usually caused by the battery not being correctly fastened down to stop it moving in the car.

#112 275 GTB-4

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 22:12

I'll make it easier for you.....it starts with 'E'. :lol:
 
GM


I'm guessing that you read 1985 Lotus Esprit Turbo...but why does the video show an "open wheel"? or is it a black placky bin or similar?

Edited by 275 GTB-4, 20 October 2014 - 22:16.


#113 GMACKIE

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 22:41

Guessing wrong [again]  ;) . Son, Dave told me about it.....he knows the [gutted] owner. Burn away all the fibre-glass, and you have "open wheel".



#114 cooper997

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 05:13

May as well add this 'new' Tasmanian Lotus distributor here. It appears in both day's 1960 Longford programmes.

 

1960_Longford_Lotus_advert.jpg

 

Stephen.


Edited by cooper997, 03 May 2018 - 07:59.


#115 cooper997

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Posted 14 December 2014 - 01:27

An advert Derek Jolly placed in 7/63 AMS announcing his new showroom in Adelaide.

1963_Jolly_Lotus_ad.jpg

 

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 03 May 2018 - 08:07.


#116 M bennett

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 10:31

Excellent, like everything Derek did, those recordings were done in a professional manner on a massive reel to reel recorder. Both those recordings survive, they were recorded on 1st April 1963 in the new Cheshunt factory, which had opened in 1959, Derek conducted a Q and A style interview.

                When Ron Hickman OBE came to Australia in 2007, with his wife Helen, we played his interview to him as an after dinner treat. He had no recollection of the interview taking place and of course had never heard the end result. We presented a CD copy of the interview to him, close on 45 years after it was first recorded. Ron of course we know as the inventor of the Black and Decker WORKMATE

                In 2012 had I had the greatest pleasure in taking a  CD copy of the Colin Chapman interview back to the UK and presenting it to Hazel and Clive Chapman. The absolute thrill was sitting down with Clive and Hazel as they listened to the recording for the very first time, this time 50 years after the initial interview took place.

                 Derek Jolly did everything in style and kept everything dated and notated.  

             Mike Bennett   Adelaide  



#117 cooper997

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 22:28

The latest Australian Muscle Car magazine (#78) has a letter from Ray Barker about being offered the accountants job at Geoghegans and staying for 18 years. This of course follows on from the photos they published in #76..

 

Stephen



#118 Paul Newby

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 23:27

Back on topic, how long did the Geoghegans have the Lotus distribution (I presume for New South Wales) and who took over from them? I presume that once Elans and Europas dried up by 1973/74 there would have been slim pickings - Elites would have been hard to shift and so would Eclats and Esprits -if we ever got any - after that.

 

I do remember a great road test on the Esprit Turbo in Sports Car World magazine in 1983. The red Esprit was on the cover and Mike McCarthy wrote a great road test on the car. From memory I think they sourced the Esprit from John Thompson Sports Cars, which were on Parrmatta Road in Burwood. That place was a mecca for sports car lovers in the early 1980s....



#119 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 05:44

There was a small number of those later cars around...

We had a member on here, his username was 'Bernd', who had a bit to do with one... an Elite? A similar car was owned by Owen Wuillemin's son Adrian. I remember once there was a photo posted here of one that had burned to the ground, too.

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#120 275 GTB-4

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Posted 25 December 2014 - 10:01

Back on topic, how long did the Geoghegans have the Lotus distribution (I presume for New South Wales) and who took over from them? I presume that once Elans and Europas dried up by 1973/74 there would have been slim pickings - Elites would have been hard to shift and so would Eclats and Esprits -if we ever got any - after that.


Discounting the yard on the corner of the Hume, Hoxton Park Road and Terminus Street which would have closed well before Haberfield stopped pushing Lotus around the early seventies?...

GeogheganLotus_zpsaabc5a68.jpg

#121 Ray Bell

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 01:21

Originally posed by Paul Newby
Back on topic, how long did the Geoghegans have the Lotus distribution (I presume for New South Wales) and who took over from them? I presume that once Elans and Europas dried up by 1973/74 there would have been slim pickings - Elites would have been hard to shift and so would Eclats and Esprits -if we ever got any - after that.....


By the end of their period with Lotus, Geoghegan's were the Australian distributors...

It appears that they either relinquished that or lost it somewhere between mid-1972 and perhaps 1974. Marc Schagen is sure that no twin-cam Europas came in via Haberfield. Jim Smith in Melbourne then took over Lotus importing for a long period.

And my comment before about Adrian Wuillemin's car, that was an Elise.




.



.

Edited by Ray Bell, 31 December 2014 - 03:57.


#122 275 GTB-4

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 05:36

Discounting the yard on the corner of the Hume, Hoxton Park Road and Terminus Street which would have closed well before Haberfield stopped pushing Lotus around the early seventies?...


So how long were Geoghegan's at 95 Parramatta Rd Strathfield before moving the 10 minutes away (in those days!) to 253 Parramatta Road Haberfield?

#123 cooper997

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Posted 28 December 2014 - 03:12

It's not exactly early, but this thread may as well chronicle the history of Lotus sales in Australia.

 

Here's Jim Smith's Manton advert in the 1978 Melbourne Motor Show catalogue.

1978_Manton_lotus.jpg

 

The James Bond Esprit was promoted as a drawcard for this Motor Show.

 

Going by the stand writeup, Manton's Lotus display consisted of a Elite 502, Esprit & Super Seven.

 

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 03 May 2018 - 08:06.


#124 Paul Newby

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 02:29

Ray, you said that no twin cam Elans came in via Haberfield. Surely you mean the later  "Big Valve" Elan Sprints? Or maybe you mean the Twin Cam Europas? Of course all Elans were twin cams....  ;)



#125 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 03:56

Sorry, I meant twin-cam Europas...

I will edit that.

#126 GMACKIE

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 04:36

I think most people assumed you meant Europas, Ray....I did. No need to correct every little mistake - we all make 'em. :cool:

 

Happy New Year.



#127 275 GTB-4

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 09:48

Did they ever consider putting a Renault 1400 into an Elan?

 

If they did, me might have more Elans running around today...maybe...possibly



#128 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 December 2014 - 11:05

The 16TS engine would have been a boon for either car...

A great little engine.

#129 275 GTB-4

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 21:20

Off Topic: read today that post Jim Clark's death, Elan etc badges were black as a mark of respect.



#130 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 03:40

Yeah, that happened...

That was in the Geoghegan era.

#131 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 06:56

Discounting the yard on the corner of the Hume, Hoxton Park Road and Terminus Street which would have closed well before Haberfield stopped pushing Lotus around the early seventies?...

GeogheganLotus_zpsaabc5a68.jpg

Pete is wearing his Bathurst race wear!



#132 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 21:12

That photo was probably from the file of photos taken at Bathurst for the sponsor...

Using it in an ad would have been an easy thing to do.

#133 275 GTB-4

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 01:53

So how long were Geoghegan's at 95 Parramatta Rd Strathfield before moving the 10 minutes away (in those days!) to 253 Parramatta Road Haberfield?


adding 315 Hume Highway, Greenacre...the original building is still standing by the looks of it...

315HumeHwyGreenacre_zps36ed2738.jpg

315HumeHwyGreenacre2_zps414dcd86.jpg

#134 Spaceframe7

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 22:52

Hi All.    This info. may not be relevant to the posted question, but it may provide some dates that could apply?  In 2014 I had read on the Lotus Seven Register (U.K.) quoting a Lotus Factory source that: "The first official twin-cam engined Seven left the Lotus Delamare Road factory in March 1965 and was bound for Leo Geoghegan in Liverpool, NSW, to be used for racing". Always curious about these things, I noted that according to published works on the Seven, Lotus continually stated that the twin-cam would not fit this car.  This was contrary to a number of owners who had carried out the conversion, and especially Graham Nearn of Caterham Cars who drove a twin-cam fitted Seven to the Lotus Factory circa 1968 to show them that it could be done.  After this, Lotus produced 13 (and probably a few more?) Twin Cam Sevens (Seven SS) in 1969.  I wanted to find out from Mr. Geoghegan if, in fact, Lotus had shipped him a Seven Twin-Cam car in 1965 - clearly 4 years prior to them officially using this engine in a Seven.  With much appreciated assistance from Marc Schagen, noted Lotus Australia Historian, I was able to contact Leo.  Being 17 hours time difference, I called at a decent hour for both of us.  What a very interesting, v. helpful and v. humorous man he is.  He confirmed that he never received a Lotus Seven at his dealership in Liverpool NSW fitted with a twin-cam engine.  He did remember the approximate date when Lotus decided to fit the t.c. and produce the 13 or so SS models, but by then Geoghegan Motors were finding it very expensive to import Lotus Cars due to high import taxes, shipping costs etc., so they discontinued doing so after 1968/69. He does not recall ever seeing a Seven fitted with a t.c. in Australia at the time (1965), or being used for racing with one fitted thereafter.  Although the information on the Lotus Seven Register may have come in good faith from a source at the Lotus Factory, Marc Schagen advised that every Lotus Seven shipped to Australia was noted as being sold to the Geoghegans as they were the official Lotus importer.  If such a car was ordered by an individual direct from the Lotus Factory, they (Geoghegans) may never have known about the transaction, although for such an unusual request, they would surely have heard about it?  Marc is confident that no t.c. Lotus Sevens came through the Geoghegans (confirmed by Leo), and that there were no t.c.s in Sevens anywhere in Australia in the 1960s (the Lotus Seven Series IV Twin Cam did not appear until the beginning of the 1970s, and was also manufactured under licence in New Zealand by Steel Brothers). Leo told me about a customer in 1965, who asked Geoghegan Motors to turn his car into the fastest Seven ever. They bored the 1500 c.c. Ford 5 bearing engine out to 1650 c.c. by fitting 85 m.m. Cosworth pistons, fitted a Cosworth camshaft, a 105E Anglia gearbox fitted with Mike Hewland close ratio internals, special wheels, and a few other modifications to make the car go as fast as possible.  When they had finished preparing the car, and after they had personally poured quite a bit of money into the project, the customer decided that he didn't have the cash to pay for it, and walked away.  So Leo and his brother decided to use it for racing at Warwick Farm Raceway (N.S.W.).  He told me that at the time, Warwick Farm was more suited to smaller cars such as Lotus, Coopers etc.  At the conclusion of their race,a Cooper Monaco came in first, followed by Leo's brother Ian (also known as Pete) second in a Lotus 23 (bored out to 1475 c.c.with a 3 bearing crankshaft), with Leo third in his 'tuned' Lotus Seven. In the paddock after the race, he was surrounded by Lotus fans, and received multiple offers for the car in a sort of bidding war. Consequently, he and his brother recovered all their costs (plus a bit more), and thoroughly enjoyed the racing as a bonus. He recalls a couple of customers in the mid 1960s wanting a Lotus Seven so much that one gentleman traded in a TR3 getting a very low price for it compared to the cost of a Seven, with another customer trading in an Austin Healey 100S.  I know nothing of A.H., but Leo advised that recently in the U.K. (2014?) an A.H. 100S, very rare when first produced apparently, sold for 1 million pounds sterling. With hearty laughter he didn't think that any Seven would fetch that amount.

 

Do any forum members with knowledge of Lotus Sevens in Australia, know or perhaps have heard of one being privately imported in 1965 fitted with a twin cam engine (i.e. other than non twin-cam Sevens imported through the official factory dealers?)  Leo advised that the twin-cam was very expensive for him to import compared with the regular Ford engine range. Just another mystery emanating from the Lotus Factory archives. Thanks,  S7


Edited by Spaceframe7, 24 March 2015 - 23:00.


#135 DanTra2858

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 07:34

During my time at Geoghegan's 1969 there was only one that came through Haberfield & it was a 1500 pushrod motor, the Seven was a bloody difficult car to build especially the front guard alignment as all mounting points had to be drilled meaning continus checking from side to side.

What I do remember is that it had a LSD fitted & on completion the guy who orded the car on pick up day turned up with a Duffle Bag full of clothes, thermos flask & sandwitches to see him in good stead for his running in drive to Adelaide SA, almost forgot that we had to help him fit his Kidney belt & get him into the car then belted him in with a full harness, he had not orded a soft top for the car.

Yes they were the days.

Edited by DanTra2858, 25 March 2015 - 07:39.


#136 cooper997

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 05:29

A cheeky Leaton Motors Lotus dealer advert - this one late 1960.

 

Leaton_Motors_Lotus_ad.jpg

 

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 03 May 2018 - 08:05.


#137 Spaceframe7

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 00:00

Off Topic: read today that post Jim Clark's death, Elan etc badges were black as a mark of respect.

That would have been for the 1969 Lotus manufacturing year only. For the 1970 registration year and on, the badges returned back to the green, yellow and white.  My 1969 Seven (built October 1968 - factory papers verify this) had the black and silver badge factory fitted.  Most (all?) Series 3 Sevens imported into Canada were Lotus Factory built complete cars. S7


Edited by Spaceframe7, 04 April 2015 - 00:01.


#138 cooper997

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 01:06

In recent days I've been helping the current custodian of the Leo Geoghegan Lotus Elite with a few bits and pieces. In the banter that has been going back and forth, it became known to me that Roger had been able to gather Leo's thoughts and memories of this giant killer driver and car combination of the Australian race circuits during 1960/61 Gran Turismo racing. CAMS having classified the Elite as a GT in 1960, It also goes without really needed to be said that Leo played a major part in Lotus sales in Australia." Whether incidental to his success on track or when Geoghegans actually brought the cars in. This car helped bring that about.

 

What was also established with the the emails going back and forth, was that Roger had written a piece for fellow Elite enthusiasts. With a little arm twisting he has allowed me to share this and some photos to illustrate Leo in action with TNF.

 

The other factor is that Roger has been diligently chasing the history of his car and previous custodians of this special Elite. So if anyone knows anything about, or where a Graham Gardner and Murray Coombes might be found then please let it be known. We are however talking the 1963 - 65 period for their apparent ownerships.

 

Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reminiscing with Leo Geoghegan - one of Australia’s most successful racing drivers.

 

Remember the days when racing cars were in the main a sport rather than a business?

When enthusiasts attended race tracks which were either dirt, loose gravel, or at best part tarmac. Even Bathurst, which is to this day based on normal driving roads, but with modern safety standards, modern pits and a billiard table smooth road surface, was once a track where only the brave, dim witted, or extremely talented would venture. The trackside safety features were eucalypts or wire fences, with the odd hay bale for the cows to munch on as the sedans, sports cars or open wheelers whizzed by on their road tyres, or for the cash rich few, on 1960s race tyres. Not much better grip, but the racing tyre logo on the rubber reassured the brave few, with their right foot pinned to the floor:- either consciously, or through fear of backing off with the bonnet of the car behind similarly near out of control.

 

Many times the track side paddocks were rich with snakes (as they can be today at Bathurst) or with knee deep mud. “Those were the days” I hear some say.

What was, and is clear today is that there were a few very talented drivers in Australia from the mid 1950’s onward, these drivers were largely self funded, due to the paltry start and prize money on offer. Their aspiration was to win and break even over the racing season, whilst remaining fit enough to maintain employment whilst fettling the car (or not) before the next race meeting. One such talented driver was Leo Geoghegan, the first owner of Elite 1141 who I recently spent hours with, filling in my knowledge of his exploits in the most successful Australian delivered Elite – but more of that later.

 

Leo and “Pete” Geoghegan were brothers of a very far sighted Father, Tom. Leo gave much of the credit for his success to his Dad, who had an eye for the right car, and was manic about car preparation, maintenance and the professionalism demonstrated by his “drivers.” Tom Geoghegan's normal business, a “taxi fleet” of 6 cars went through a weekly routine of a daily service…driven six days, always serviced on the 7th day. Leo put this down of one of the keys to their success; They never turned up to a customer or a race meeting with an ‘iffy” – ill prepared car.

Second he told me his Dad strongly urged “the boys” that one only needed to be leading at the end of the last lap!! Fearless driving that left the car or driver “wounded” before the last lap meant one of them could never win.

 

Leo_1961_Bathurst_practice.jpg

1961 Bathurst practice with Ian G "following" in the first Jag. Leo said he "played with him all round the circuit....Could have left him far behind at any time"

 

Leo and Pete kept meticulous records of their car set up, particularly when they moved onto open wheelers. Customers mostly wanted to buy the Lotus open wheeler which Leo had driven to a win, rather than the new still crated car because they suspected the yet to be built open wheeler was inferior to the example he had driven. Leo told me that his Dad made it conditional when they started to deal in cars that he had to be prepared to sell his winning race car after a couple of meetings and uncrate and build another.

 

He told me they never changed anything from the spec in which it came from the factory, believing Chapman and his team knew what they were doing. The only exception was when they put a rear wing on a Repco engined Lotus 39 and braced it to the rear roll over hoop rather than mounting it to the rear suspension a la Chapman. He told me that Lotus mechanics had mumbled how much better that was rather than Colin’s belief that it could be free standing and mounted to the top of the rear shocks.I digress; I didn’t visit Leo to discuss in detail his later very successful exploits, rather to gain knowledge about Elite 1141 which now graces my small collection of Lotuses.

 

The Geoghegan brothers first raced a black Holden from the 1954 season and laid the foundation for their reputation for being competitive and winning in a vast range of cars. Leo raced more than 50 different vehicles successfully and drove against several world champions who visited Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. He beat some by remembering his dad’s mantra about only needing to be leading on the last lap. He crashed out only a couple of times in his long career, once in Elite 1141, but more of that later. Leo told me that his Dad realized the Holden couldn’t keep winning against increasingly stiff competition, and the final crunch came when David McKay turned up in a 3.4 Jaguar. Something had to be done. “Dad suggested, based on his reading of the European car magazines that we should buy an Elite”. “The success of the early hand crafted Elites in short circuit racing and at Le Mans convinced his Dad that it could be a winner, despite the fact it was made from fibreglass, was probably fragile and appeared underpowered”.

 

Before outlining the achievements of Leo with Elite 1141, it s worth explaining that in Australia at the time the groups that raced were often a mixed bag of marques and models. The Elite was eligible at various times for Series Production and GT Races, sometimes raced in “Sports Cars” against Corvettes, Cooper Jag etc. In Appendix K, there was an even wider rag bag of cars which didn’t naturally fit together as a truly fair and competitive bunch. Leo said “it wasn’t affordable for the Geoghegans to buy a successful competitive race car, the prices were exorbitant”.

Appendix K was 2 seat sports cars with a roof, however this regulation allowed fabricated hard tops to be added, even if hard tops were not available from the factory. So the Frank Matich D type Jaguar with a fabricated hard top was slipped into Appendix K. There was no upper engine capacity limit, so the competition often included Tony Oxleys Ferrari 250 PF driven by David Mckay, which had been purchased for 8,500 pounds, and Bob Jane’s Maserati 300S.

 

And what about a Lotus X1 or Lola, with fabricated roofs of course, and Gavin Youl in a well prepared Porsche 356 Super 90.

And what about the 3.5 litre Zephyr engine Buckle, or the large number of highly tuned 3 litre Holden specials, with special heads, disc brakes, and other performance bits.

You get the picture. If Leo was to race an Elite his chances at some circuits should have been marginal.

 

Leo_1961_Warwick_Farm.jpg

 

The motley crew of Elite competition at Warwick Farm.

 

In January or February 1960 Father and son flew to Adelaide to test drive the first Elite demonstrator CBU 1073. Leo thought the car was gutless, after driving a 150hp Holden for several years, and he wasn’t convinced it was a good idea to purchase an Elite.

His Dad and Derek Jolly (the Lotus agent) convinced him a Stage 3 car would have heaps more horsepower and could be competitive, and the deal was done. Leo recalled the car cost just on 3000 pounds – a tidy sum of money, well above the list price of a bog standard Elite. Derek was clearly a pretty sharp car dealer.

They waited almost 9 months for Elite 1141 to arrive, and they took delivery in Sydney. Leaton Motors the NSW agents “got a few hundred dollars (or £200 as it would have been in Oz back then) despite never being involved in the sale”, and Leo is still sore about that.

The first drive of the car from their workshops on Liverpool Road, west of Sydney convinced Leo he had been right. He said the car was a nightmare to drive, it was twitchy, unpredictable and “got funny in the middle of corners”. He took it back to the workshop convinced they had bought a lemon. Brother Ian “Pete” Geoghegan came to a similar conclusion. A good friend, and competitive driver Brian Muir came back after his test and said “change the tyres – the Michelin Radials are probably the cause”.

They bought a set of Dunlop race tyres and the car was transformed. Leo said his Father and brother were completely taken aback by the change in the car's behavior. They had run the Black Holden on Olympic Cab tyres for years and this exercise demonstrated they had probably never got the best from the car. He discussed this revelation with others who had been at Lotus who said “they never raced the cars at Le Mans on Michelins because they were known to be rubbish”.

 

At Philip Island on the 18th September 1960 a week or so later with the Elite on Dunlops “it went exactly where you pointed it” – “I didn’t need to slow down for any of the corners”. This was the first race the Elite came up against Gavin Youl and his very quick Porsche, suffice to say it was the Elite’s first two wins, with lap records set in both races.

 

Leo_1960_Philip_Island.jpg

 

First race meeting - September 1960 Phillip Island

 

The sceptics were still expecting this fragile “underpowered” car to break, and fail to finish races at the three high speed, long straight circuits of Longford, Bathurst and Orange where Leo himself initially thought he would get thrashed. At the next meeting at Bathurst in October 1960 Leo qualified on pole, but numerous cars blasted past him off the line, by the time he went up through the cutting (where he remembers the Buckle passing him going up the hill) he was well down the field, across the top “cars sliding all over the place.” Wally Mitchell in a Holden special had an enormous accident” which both he and Bill Buckle thought would be his last racing incident. “Next lap around Wally was sitting on the ground smoking, and serious racing resumed”. Suffice to say the Elite won again.

(PS. I visited Leo at the Marion Centre on 20th February 2015 during his last fight with the Big C, and he confessed the reason he was slow off the line is that he had the handbrake on. It happens to the best of us!) After this second meeting during their maintenance regime they discovered the trailing arm cups had cracked and a local machining guru Merv Waggott machined two new assemblies from steel.

 

Leo confirmed he ran the Stage 3, 5 bearing camshaft equipped car to an indicated 8,000 rpm which he had calculated was worth 120 mph down the Bathurst straight, although at the meeting at Orange the car was measured over the flying 1/8th mile at 130 mph. Another first place, new lap record and the sceptics were beginning to wonder whether they had it wrong.

 

The Elite with Leo behind the wheel continued its winning ways at Warwick Farm December/60, Warwick Farm Jan/61, Catalina Park Feb/61, Longford Mar/61, Warwick Farm Mar/61, Bathurst Apr/61, setting fastest laps and New Class Records along the way. In April 1961 Australian Motor Sports magazine refers to the winning ways of Leo, who had now accomplished 10 wins from 11 starts. 1961 didn’t get any better for the competitors. Leo notched up a win at Lowood in April. Wins at Catalina in July 1961 and a win in the first heat at Warwick Farm on 31st July and “the” accident in the second heat.

Leo remembers it well…” it had been pouring with rain, the track was waterlogged in places, the race should have been cancelled. I was angry the race was being run and the Appendix K regs.….” I only ever drove beyond my capabilities twice, and both times I crashed. At Warwick Farm the circuit crossed the horse racing track twice where sand had been laid upon which two boards surfaced with an abrasive material were affixed. The surface was very good but I had been overdriving against the D Type. The Elite slid sideways, it had been aquaplaning – the outside wheels dug into the sodden grass on the outside of the track, the car rolled over to its side and onto the roof quite slowly. The windscreen shattered, the battery dropped out of its case. We put the car on its wheels and I drove it back to the workshop in Liverpool minus the windscreen.” A DNF went on the record for the only time.

 

At the 18th December 1960 event at Warwick Farm the Elite had set fastest lap but finished 2nd behind the D type of Frank Matich. At the meeting of 21st May 1961 at Warwick Farm Leo had a class win in the GT scratch race but finished second behind the Maserati 300S of Bob Jane, the Elite having a loose plug lead with the car running only on 3 and a half cylinders due to the plug lead being left loose after a pre race change. He said that if he had been on 4 cylinders the Maserati would not have won. This was the only time the Maserati beat the Elite.

 

Leo constantly referred to his Father’s brilliance in spotting cars including the Elite, which could be winners. By now the sceptics were beginning to believe it was unbeatable and that fibreglass might not be that fragile. Leo said they crowded around the car, after the crash, to check the damage – or lack of it. Maybe Chapman had it right – composites were here to stay. Those who had believed that cars needed a strong chassis, metal panels and a big engine were being won over.

 

The car continued to win in Leo’s hands until December 1961 when he decided to sell the Elite with 2000 miles on the speedo to Brian Foley who continued the cars racing career until early 1963. Brian had 10 class wins with 1141 before he sold it on.

 

Leo was most proud of the fact that the Elite was the only racing car ever purchased which was sold for its original purchase price. “The family usually lost 50% or more of the original investment”. Much later, even his Lotus 39 with a Repco Brabham was sold for substantially less than the purchase price. During the 17 months or so the Geoghegans owned the Elite the only work (aside from replacing the trailing arm cup, the windscreen and scratches from the Warwick Farm rollover), was reinforcing the diff case with fibreglass and at 1500 miles lifting the head for a look, - “nothing was replaced, other than a head gasket during the inspection”.

In Series production and GT scratch races the car was unbeaten, 23 wins in 19 race meetings, according to the Marc Schagen book of 2012 “LOTUS The Historic Sports & Race Racing Cars of Australia.”

Elite 1141 was the winner of the inaugural 1960 Australian GT championship at Bathurst. Across the classes, including Appendix K it still achieved better than an 80% win rate with Leo at the wheel.

 

For my friends overseas I should confirm that not only was the Elite a special car, but that Leo was a very special driver.

Perhaps if I close by telling you that he was within 1 second of Stirling Moss’s time at the Tasman (International) event in 1962 when both of them were invited to drive a Lotus 18 post the Tasman meeting. He also finished second to Jim Clark, when Leo was driving an older less competitive car at Sandown in 1969 when Frank Gardner, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Jack Brabham had all been on the start line for the race.

Leo reminded me in closing that you only have to be in the lead on the last lap, and that second to Jim was a disappointment, but not the end of the world.

 

Leo was 78 years young when I recorded these recollections and died at 12.15 am, 2nd March 2015.

 

Roger M

 

(Initial) Interview recorded July 2014


Edited by cooper997, 03 May 2018 - 08:04.


#139 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 09:35

Nice enthusiastic story... but...

The Lotus 49 'free standing' wing mounts were not on the top of the shock absorbers, they were attached to the uprights.

Someone might confirm my suspicion that there were no 'Series Production' races relevant in those years. To say it raced against 'Corvettes' would be testy, though the Carter Corvette was out there, maybe that was what he actually said or meant. 3-litre Holdens would have been pretty thin on the ground too, probably 3.5-litre Buckles as well.

I don't think I've ever seen a cow anywhere near the track at Bathurst. And the description of the crossing at the Farm really need to be much clearer.

All the same, it's nice to see a bit of what Leo had to say about it.



.

Edited by Ray Bell, 04 April 2015 - 09:36.


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#140 GMACKIE

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 10:08

Thanks for posting that, Stephen.

 

Leo was very 'kind' on his cars. I saw that Elite roll at W. Farm...it was a very 'gentle' roll.



#141 cooper997

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 01:36

No worries, Greg. I was just the arm twister. For reasons that have quickly become apparent.

 

If you don't mind I'll give Roger your email, he'll enjoy your eyewitness account.

 

Stephen



#142 GMACKIE

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 06:54

That is OK, Stephen, although I only have a 'fleeting' memory of the Elite roll.

 

I have a vague recollection of Brian Foley driving that Elite...could that be so ? I don't think he 'liked it' :)

 

Leo and Foley, in my view, were very much alike [as drivers]...fast, yet rarely 'came un-stuck'.



#143 cooper997

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 09:11

Thanks Greg, I'll pass on your email. Yes Brian raced it after Leo, in SV colours. Murray Coombes and Peter Williamson too apparently. Hence why Roger would like to find out about Murray.

In the late 90 s it was in Paul Samuels collection.

Stephen

#144 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 09:29

I trust you'll pass on my notes too...

If a bloke goes to all the trouble of talking to Leo about it, noting it all down, writing it up like that and collecting the pics, I'm sure he'd like to make it accurate as well.

#145 GMACKIE

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 21:58

Reminiscing with Leo Geoghegan - one of Australia’s most successful racing drivers.


 

...….” I only ever drove beyond my capabilities twice, and both times I crashed."

 

 

Leo was 78 years young when I recorded these recollections and died at 12.15 am, 2nd March 2015.

 

Roger M

 

(Initial) Interview recorded July 2014

That shoud be made into a huge sign, and shown at every Drivers Meeting, everywhere! :clap:



#146 275 GTB-4

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 22:29

My recollection of both brothers is that Pete could wring the neck of just about anything he could fit into and get it to do extraordinary things whilst leaving all and sundry behind...
 
Leo on the other hand was super fast, pretty to watch and smooth as silk.
 
I know which brother I would give a car to to win at all costs and which one I would choose if I didn't want to have to pay for chassis re-alignment or strengthening!   :)
 
Both Ian and Leo were a fabulous asset to the Aussie racing scene...and there are a lot of people (like me) who are lucky to have been inspired and entertained by their performances.

Edited by 275 GTB-4, 06 April 2015 - 23:12.


#147 275 GTB-4

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 06:31

SCW August 1963

SCW%20Aug%201963%20Geoghegans_zpshdavg5p

#148 cooper997

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:13

With the Longford thread having some discussion on the 1st Lotus Elite into Australia, here's the advert Derek Jolly ran in the Feb 60 AMS.

 

Lotus_Decca_ltd_TNF.jpg

 

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 03 May 2018 - 08:00.


#149 pmurray

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 23:02

With reference to Stephen Dalton’s posting in 2014 (above #114) of the advertisement for Lotus Elite in the AMS March Longford programme I think I can add some information which may be of interest to some or maybe not.

 

I believe the photo is of Mills Bates’ Elite, chassis number 1049 and his son Grant who was born to his first wife Margaret in Launceston on 7 June 1953 so Grant would have been approximately six years old when the photo was taken.  At the time there was only one other Elite in Australia (chassis number 1073) and that most probably was in South Australia with Derek Jolly as a “demonstrator” and was later featured at the 1960 Melbourne Motor Show. 

 

Re the Tasmania dealership

 

I have been given copies of the correspondence between Mills and Derek Jolly in the years 1959 to 1962.  In a letter dated 2nd May 1959 Mills wrote  “…..(this) means that Goss and I can go ahead with our plans of forming a small company.  We would like to apply for a Tasmanian Lotus Agency.”  Jolly’s reply was supportive and he indicated he would write to Lotus about it.

In a further undated letter Mills writes “ …… Goss and I have formed company – Performance Cars Tasmania Pty Ltd.” ( a copy of the company letterhead was included in my copies of correspondence).

 

There is no further mention of the company until a letter dated 14 June 1962 when Mills writes “…have several ideas re active agent – we were ready to blossom out …..when Goss decided he would still work for a wage (he had sold his agri business and now manages it).”

 

Bates advertised his Elite in February 1962.  He is not listed with the Tasmania Medical Council after 1961 which might put his return to Guernsey as late 1962 / early 1963.  Presumably the company ceased around this time.


Edited by pmurray, 08 January 2018 - 03:19.


#150 cooper997

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 01:01

Great addition Peter.

 

I might be putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with something other than 4, but there was also Performance Automobiles in Tasmania. John Pooley is the name I associate with it and there's a feature in one of the BMC factory magazines in the 60s. It's a long time since I looked at that but recall he was from the UK also.

 

Stephen