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James Gullan and his Ballot Oldsmobile


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#1 Brian Lear

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 10:49

During the 1939 Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal, James wrecked the 8 cylinder 5 litre engine in the Ballot 8. He subsequently fitted a Ford V8 and onsold the car.

In 1944 be began thinking about a replacement for the Ballot Ford and acquired a 2 litre Ballot Sports with a wrecked body. He used the chassis and some other parts as the basis for his new racing car - the Ballot Oldsmobile.

I am trying to ascertain the source of the 2 litre car.

The answer is possibly contained within the pages of his now unobtainable autobiography "As long as it has wheels."

If anyone has this book, I would like to find this information

 

Brian Lear

 



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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 12:40

John Cummins loaned me that book a long time ago, shortly after I gave it back to him he asked me where it was... he must have loaned it to someone else and forgot who...

From memory, however, this car had not been a racer at all. The problem is getting muddled up with information when the 2-litre Ballot was about at the same time.

A small point... the Indianapolis Ballot was Ford V8-powered and raced by Jim at Lobethal in 1940. It had been rebodied by that time too.

#3 cooper997

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 22:56

Brian, I make the assumption you're aware of the October 1946 AMS with Jim Gullan's Ballot sports subject of that issue's Australian Specials feature. I don;t believe it reveals the source though.

 

Just for the record the December 1946 issue covers the Gullan 'Indy' Ballot V8 in Bob Shepherd's 'Vintage Competition Cars of Australia' with Bob's brilliant illustration. That reveals how some of the car's parts went to Anthony Heal in the UK. His son Oliver has previously posted on TNF.

 

Recent activity on Bob W's Facebook motor racing photos site has seen Troy Davey-Milne active and mention of his dad, now 93. So could be worth contacting Troy to see if he can ask, given Earl was about during that era and building specials like Gullan.

 

Failing that there's a chance Pat Ryan in the VSCC (Victoria) or Bob King could help, or even a couple of TNF members, Dick W and John M? Or last case scenario is I know who I can probably borrow a Gullan book from.

 

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 20 March 2019 - 22:57.


#4 cooper997

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 09:04

I assume Brian has his answer from other sources, but for the rest of us I've borrowed the James Gullan book 'AS LONG AS IT HAS WHEELS' - self-published back in 1993.

 

Turning straight to Chapter 6 The Ballot Oldsmobile, it mentions this early within the first page "Then one day a friend told me he had seen a Ballot car for sale, at a garage in South Melbourne. As I had only ever seen the two Cooper Ballots, I found it hard to believe until the radiator badge was described as having an Anchor on it. We went down in the Ford, bought it for 15 pounds, and Christine towed me home."

 

The Chapter then describes how tired it was, how parts were onsold (engine for a Bugatti special) and how basically all that remained of the car in its special form was the Ballot name for registration purposes. The Chapter also gives a rundown of events he ran the car at.

 

The list of other cars that came his way also makes an interesting list - GP Salmson, Wolseley Hornet special, Austin special, GP Ballot, Stutz Black Hawk, Ballot Ford, V8 Hot Rod, Zephyr special, GP Alta (raced in the UK), several early MGs - inc K3 and several more interesting, but more modern cars of the 50/60s. Some used for competition and then there's his drag racing era.

 

A potted history of James Gullan's life with cars was published in issue 62 Australian Muscle Car magazine in mid 2012.

 

In the February 1994 Rob Roy Hillclimb programme there's a page dedicated to James Gullan and Bill Leech. Both had recently passed away. For those interested James is recorded as having died of a heart attack aged 79, early Friday 21/1/94.

 

Stephen



#5 cooper997

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 09:35

The penny just dropped that I should have asked Phil, who loaned me the Gullan book. Because he has a couple of friends with Ballots. One being Douglas Blain, 60 odd years ago editor of Sports Car World, but for the last 20 or so years publisher of The Automobile magazine in the UK. Might be worth a message to the magazine Brian.

 

Stephen

 

edit - re-read this and noticed the second sentence made it sound like they had the books, but it was meant to be "friends with Ballots."


Edited by cooper997, 27 March 2019 - 23:20.


#6 Brian Lear

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 12:28

Thanks for your help with my question Stephen. I have been following some leads for a copy of the book, so you have saved some effort for me.

As you say, there was not much Ballot in the Ballot Olds. Basically only the chopped and shortened chassis. I do have the AMS containing the articles you mentioned which have been a great help.

Sad to learn that Jim died shortly after his book was published.

 

Brian Lear



#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 13:54

Also sad that he only published a small number of the books...

I think there was just 100.

And I do hope Cummo eventually found his, Christopher would really appreciate having that around.




.

Edited by Ray Bell, 26 March 2019 - 13:55.


#8 cooper997

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Posted 27 March 2019 - 23:15

This is the Gullan book

1993-Gullan-book-TNF.jpg

 

The copy I have borrowed certainly confirms Ray's comment of 100 copies. The flyleaf has 'James Gullan' signature then at the bottom there's another J Gullan signature, then below it  '100 LIMITED EDITION 1993' It's hardcover, no dustjacket.

 

I do recall Tony Johns turned up some copies about 10 years ago, but not sure whether they were some excess run copies or some signed he'd re-discovered in a box downstairs. However, apart from currently selling the new 'Vintage Bentleys in Australia' book he has co-authored for the Bentley Drivers Club of Australia, he is now out of the book trade.

 

Stephen

 

 
 


#9 cooper997

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 01:15

Although I've been aware for some years of its existence, it was only a couple of months ago I stumbled upon a copy of the 1950 Floyd Clymer book 'Special Racing Cars and Hot Rods of the World' at a swap meet.

 

It appears Clymer must have been in contact with Arthur Wylie because numerous 1940s Aussie specials appear in its pages. Even more prominently is Charlie Dean's Maybach on the cover and Earl Davey-Milne's Bugatti-Hudson on the rear. Plus this one within.

 

Clymer-book-Ballot-Olds.jpg

 

Stephen



#10 john medley

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 03:43

The chassis holes remind me: at Hume Weir Cummo in Ballot Olds left the road between Globe and Stratford, water rushing in through the chassis holes, emerging from the watery ditch the Ballot Oldsmobile shaking itself like a wet dog with water pouring back out of the chassis holes-- all witnessed by me as I arrived.



#11 oliver heal

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Posted 30 June 2019 - 17:46

As far as I can see James Gullan had nothing to do with the "2-litre" Ballot special apart from competing against it with his "4.9 litre" Ballot special. He wrote to my father on 20 January 1940 describing the cars against which he had raced in Lobethal. He described the 2 litre Ballot as having been imported into Australia "by A. Cooper some years ago. It ran off the road at Phillip Island killing the driver 3 years ago. It is now fitted with a V8 motor, 2 carbs and a Scintilla magneto. It did 108 in West Australia and laps at 84."

 

In the race the V8 Ballot from west Australia blew up wrecking the motor.

 

There is an article in Australian Motor Sports Dec 15 1947 which describes the Ford V8 Ballot Special in some detail and from which it would seem there was by that stage very little Ballot left at all. following the crash at Phillip Island (which the magazine says was 1935) the wreck was shipped to Perth in pieces. What could be salvaged was mounted in a shortened (8ft 6in) 1929 Chevrolet chassis by Jack Nelson but very soon the Ballot engine blew up when the crankshaft broke. Following that by September 1936, a 1934 Ford V8 motor was installed set back 14 inches from the front axle with a Ford radiator and Ford gearbox and modified to take an open prop shaft and fitted with a single seater body. In 1947 it was owned by Syd Barker.



#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 October 2019 - 22:34

Confirmed, of course, by Gullan's description of how he came across the car...

Of interest, the fuel tank of the 2-litre car was never shipped to WA when Jack Nelson selected the parts he'd take. It was used by Gullan in his Wolseley Hornet in the 1936 SA Centenary GP to give it greater range, but fuel surge in the big tank caused him to lose control and he ran over a spike which put him out of the running.

#13 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 07 October 2019 - 07:59

I assume Brian has his answer from other sources, but for the rest of us I've borrowed the James Gullan book 'AS LONG AS IT HAS WHEELS' - self-published back in 1993.

 

Turning straight to Chapter 6 The Ballot Oldsmobile, it mentions this early within the first page "Then one day a friend told me he had seen a Ballot car for sale, at a garage in South Melbourne. As I had only ever seen the two Cooper Ballots, I found it hard to believe until the radiator badge was described as having an Anchor on it. We went down in the Ford, bought it for 15 pounds, and Christine towed me home."

 

The Chapter then describes how tired it was, how parts were onsold (engine for a Bugatti special) and how basically all that remained of the car in its special form was the Ballot name for registration purposes. The Chapter also gives a rundown of events he ran the car at.

 

The list of other cars that came his way also makes an interesting list - GP Salmson, Wolseley Hornet special, Austin special, GP Ballot, Stutz Black Hawk, Ballot Ford, V8 Hot Rod, Zephyr special, GP Alta (raced in the UK), several early MGs - inc K3 and several more interesting, but more modern cars of the 50/60s. Some used for competition and then there's his drag racing era.

 

A potted history of James Gullan's life with cars was published in issue 62 Australian Muscle Car magazine in mid 2012.

 

In the February 1994 Rob Roy Hillclimb programme there's a page dedicated to James Gullan and Bill Leech. Both had recently passed away. For those interested James is recorded as having died of a heart attack aged 79, early Friday 21/1/94.

 

Stephen

350 Chev powered EH Holden ute drag car, I remember it from one of the  HotRod magazines



#14 Steve L

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 12:17

It would be interesting to know the story of the ex Indy and Australia Ballot racer shipped to the UK and restored recently. Does anyone have the new Ballot book to check please?

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 12:22

That would be the 1919 5-litre car, surely?

Imported to Australia by the Coopers, various engine maladies were seen before it erupted and then a Ford V8 was fitted.

When Ron Egerton decided to return it to original he had to obtain the engine owned by Briggs Cunningham, he traded a Cotton Desgoutes (sp?) car for that engine in damaged form and then spent a thousand man-hours making the four parts for a replacement crank.

I think the con-rods he used in it were from an Oldsmobile, anyway he got the engine going and enjoyed using the completed car for some time. Did it have a Rolls-Royce front axle or something.

Finally, he sold it to someone in France IIRC.