Thursday, June 26, 2008

Markham 450

Designer, Al Melling, formerly of TVR (now closed, apparently) is about to release a "back to basics" sports car called the Markham 450. It's a rear wheel drive, 2 seater convertible powered by a 5.7l Chev V8 on a steel space frame chassis. The aim is for the car to be "easy for owners to modify as they see fit". Autocar magazine claim the target price is 40,000 pounds and the car will be available at the end of this year.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Even more Canon pics.

It was called the Canon car even in post Canon times. Before we leave it alone, here's some more photos and a few comments from Peter G. It was on the Ford stand at the 1973 Melbourne motor show. Note the "Powered by Ford" label on the bulge. The car must have used 3 different bonnets; the racing bonnet with radiator vent, the racing bonnet without the vent and the later standard bonnet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Canon car again

Months ago Jim S sent me this photo of the Canon car. It was a promotional picture for the Canon sponsors. At the time he was making me aware that the car ran a Boss 302. He also mentioned that it was the first of two bodies that it had and the new body did not have the big race flares. Ross McConnell made some neat ones by moving the standard wheel arches out.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Australin Grand Prix

On and off I have been a bit of a fan of the Australian GrandPrix. I mentioned before that my first visit to an AGP was when I was 9 or 10 at Port Wakefield. I wasn't born when the Lobethal event occurred but I'm looking forward to the re-enactment later this year neverthless. I have to admit that my memories of Port Wakefield are a bit dim. I remember the wind and the dust and I remember that the back of the field for the main event seemed to be a bit of a mottley crew although I do recall there being at least a couple of TR2s which didn't make it to the start and a couple of 100/4s which did. One of the 100/4s was driven by Clem Smith. When I was a big boy I managed to have an example of each of these sports cars. Anyway, I would like to have been able to say that I remember Jack Brabham's win from third on the grid and former BCCA member, Keith Rilstone's fine 6th in the Rilstone Special but I don't. The next time the AGP came to SA was in 1961 at Mallala but it wasn't until 1964 that a girlfriend's father introduced me to the delights of that place.

In the sixties, the many and varied cars that made up the field of an AGP settled down to mainly Tasman Cup cars which were re-engined previous year F1 cars where the Australian drivers were joined by international F1 drivers who had come to Oz and NZ to compete in a series after a hectic season in Europe. The seventies was the time of the big-banger F5000s but by the end of that decade people seemed to be getting a bit tired of that formula and there was a growing interest in the little Formula Pacifics. Bob Jane gathered up the AGP making it quite a spectacle at Calder for 5 years until the real stuff happened in Adelaide in 1985. It is the first of these 5 events that I wanted to talk about. To make the transmission from F5000 to Formula Pacific easier Jane opened up the event to both categories but, to add even more interest, he also opened it up to F1 cars and managed to secure two, Alan Jones in the Williams FW07 he had just taken to the World Championship and Bruno Giacomelli ("Jack O'Malley") in the Alfa Romeo 179 (not to be confused with the Holden 179 that Norm Beechey drove years before). I did hear that Guy Edwards was to have brought a Fittipaldi F5A but that didn't eventuate. The F1 cars were there to bring the crowds in and they did just that, and they sounded fantastic. Alan Jones was keen to win as his father, Stan, was a former AGP winner and the only other father and son to have won their home GPs were the As.caris. Antonio won the Italian GP in 1924 and Alberto in 1951 and 1952. Anyway, win it he did with Jack O'Malley coming in second and another international, Didier Pironi third in the Elfin MR8 Chev. The first Aussie was Alfredo Costanzo in 4th in the Lola T430. Incidentally, 6th place was taken by Bolwell Mk.7 builder, Rob Butcher, in another Lola. He was actually third the previous year. Now have a look at the above picture of the Williams in the Calder pits. It's parked in the open alongside a Falcon ute, the surface is rolled quarry rubble. This must have been a far cry from what those blokes were used to in Europe. It is also a distinct contrast to the pit area in 1985 and onwards in Adelaide and then Melbourne. If I can think of a reason, I'll show you some photos of the inside of the Williams, Ferrari , Lotus etc. pits in 1985 sometime. That unsealed surface in the Calder pits brings me to another matter. That year, I had a hand in the manufacture and printing of a batch of jackets for a fruit juice company promotion at the GP. They were fairly big jackets and I imagined they were to be worn by pit crew members. I got to see them at the event and was a bit surprised. They were worn by a group of young women with extremely long legs which just disappeared into the base of the jackets. The jackets just covered their Khyber Passes. It looked pretty crazy but the crazy bit didn't end there. They were also wearing stiletto heels. They must have really earned their free admission struggling around that rocky ground on the old high heels. You still see that sort of thing today. It's not uncommon at Mallala and elsewhere to see the cool dudes strolling around the pits showing off the "bling" and the newly developed biceps, but that's not all they are showing off. Also on their arm is the dolly-bird they met at the nightclub the night before, still in the stilettos. These blokes must be sadists. Wouldn't you think they would say "wear your sneakers". I don't know if these young women are always taller than the blokes or whether it's the heels that does it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Michelins

Jim Shanahan sent me this. I don't know where he got it from. Somewhere in America I guess, judging by the spelling.





D. NO MORE FLATS... (well, I'll believe that when I see it)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

B8/85 (not B8/105)

Yes, I gave you a bum steer. The gold car in the picture is B8/105. I think I'm right this time. Anyway, Colin has sent in a photo of B8/85 as he acquired it. I remember at the time thinking it looked like a huge shark had taken a bite out of it right where the driver was sitting. Floor, seat, door etc.

Nagari racing history

This little article is mainly for Leo Kusters' benefit. It is from Auto Action in March 1973. It tells us that the Canon race car is about to hit the track. But already Alex Tsakmakis is racing. And Ranald Maclurkin has been racing his first Nagari for some time. It also tells us that there are 2 other people racing Nagaris, presumably Peter Warren and Steve Webb.

The Canon photographic competition

Here is a little sequence of events relating to the competition. Firstly the ad in SCW for the competition, then the Auto Action article about the winner and finally the winner's advertisement to sell the car.

The prize is obviously not the actual race car although the article sort of intimates that it is. Does anybody know which number was assigned to this car?

Written off Canon Nagaris

Further to Monday's post about Peter's queries, here's the Auto Action reports on each of the 2 incidents.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Canon Nagaris continued and B8/85

Continuing on from where I left off yesterday, I've found the recalcitrant photo. Peter's last paragraph said "Both damaged bodies were very severe, probably requiring total rebody." Well, yes you are right there. Bits of Canon car body lay around behind the Bolwell factory for some time. It seems that most Bolwell fans in Melbourne have a souvenir piece they have picked up at some time. I have heard that Don Elliott has a Canon car door suitably repainted in the correct colours hanging on the wall at his factory. Someone else has a bonnet and somebody else has a bootlid and others have various other little bits and pieces. And this brings me to B8/85. This is the car that that poor young lad killed himself in not long after he turned 16. This photograph is of the car when it was pretty new in the carpark at Calder. When you click on the picture to enlarge it you will be able to make out Frank Rushton's (there's a blast from the past) yellow Mk.7 in the pits with the bonnet up. As you can see from the number plate it started life in Victoria. Anyway, at the time of the accident in about 1978 I reckon, it belonged to a lady in Double Bay in Sydney and her 16 year old unlicenced son took the car for a spin one night. His older brother raced open wheelers and he was going to be a Formula One champion one day. He lost it on one of those treacherous Double Bay bends hitting a pole sideways.. "Police said the speedo was locked on 240 km/h when they arrived with firemen and ambulancemen." A few of us can attest to the relative safety of a frontal impact but side impacts are a different thing. After that the car found its way back to Melbourne. Colin McAskill, who seemed to have an uncanny knack (and probably still does) of uncovering lost Bolwells, bought the car in Melbourne together with enough secondhand body bits to rebuild it. The point of my telling you this is that among the bits was the Canon car roof. Anyway, the car was taken back to Adelaide and stitched together. Colin sold it to Rob Wilson who traded it in to Allan Hanns on the B8/57 (yes the ex-Canon car, don't these things go full circle). Allan sold it to Tony Opie and I think it was when he had it that it achieved some notoriety when it broke the chains and jumped off the rollers at Darlington Dynotune and disappeared out through the back wall of the workshop. From Tony, the car went to Brett Lewis in NSW and correct me if I'm wrong, was eventually sold to Alan Harmer and is now in the hands of Greg Merritt.

That Easter again

Here's the latest from Peter M. I should have run a photo competition. Speaking of photo competitions, see my next post.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Canon Nagaris

Peter G writes:-


I'm confused. The original Terry Spooner racer is the one shown in the Archives photos - big flares, MGB parkers etc. This car was totaled whilst on a trailer on its way to Surfers raceway. Was it replaced with another car or rebodied, the later racer has much smaller flares. This car was wrecked at Hume Weir by Chris Clearihan and replaced with B8/57, am I correct??

Canon had a photographic competition and the prize was to be the first racer, was the car rebuilt as a street car? Auto Acton articles lead me to assume this is correct. The winner of the car was Trevor Tilley from Frankston, who put the car up for sale unregistered. Where is the car now?

Both damaged bodies were very severe, probably requiring total rebody.

Can you make all this clearer?


I don't know much about the original car having only seen it on a couple of occasions but I bet there's a number of people out there who do and I too would like to know its early exploits. I'm wondering whether it was rebuilt and raced after the trailer accident or did Chris acquire the wreck and build it up himself. Bearing in mind that he had a number of Nagaris in various states of repair. It seems to me that quite a few of the early Nagaris went to the area around Canberra and central NSW and a lot of them met their fates at high speed. Chris used to gather up the wrecks. He must have been collecting chassis plates. Anyway he would have had plenty of bits to build up a race car. He was on the ProdSports scene quite early in the piece. Not as early as Warren, Webb, Latham, Maclurkin, Jones, Tsakmakis etc but early enough to race against them. Hume Weir was a long time ago remember. Chris was over this way the other day and I did say I'd email him the address of this blog. I'll do that as soon as I finish this post. Then he might be able to make a contribution in the comments section. Yes Peter, the car was replaced by B8/57. After rolling the car at Hume Weir, Chris needed Bolwell to supply him with another body. Bolwell had the left-hand-drive car languishing around the factory and the quickest way to get him back on the track was to let him have that. He then went on to race the car in that form. By the way, Chris was pretty lucky to get out of that prang as well as he did because the roll bar which is in the car to protect him on such occasions, collaped, bringing the roof down to dashboard level. Don't be fooled by the size of the flares because I recall them changing a few times. When Chris moved on to Kaditchas and so on, I leased the Bolwell from him before Allan Hanns bought it outright some time later. I remember one of the first things that needed to be done was to redo the flares because they didn't conform to CAMS requirements. Beven Young spent a long time on them, getting a nice shape.(see the photo below). Actually these 4 next photos might be some for Gary Allen's album and I'll talk about them in a minute. (Gary is the current owner). Despite the number plate, it wasn't really a road registered car. However it did used to get road tested around the streets of Mitcham/Unley in the early hours of the morning after the finishing touches of an engine rebuild after burning the midnight oil. Sounded good too. After all, you couldn't wake the neighbours up revving it in the shed. Better to share it around with the whole neighbourhood. Isn't it funny how times change. Now on Friday nights I lie in bed and listen to the hoons doing their burnouts and wonder whether they ever think about people's sleep patterns being disrupted. The best way to start and run a tight new engine is to tow the car around the block. Thinking back, nobody ever had to endure discussions with the police or anything. Not so with somebody else I know. Many years ago I used to occupy a factory off Richmond Road making truck spoilers, or fuel savers as they wre called, for the interstate haulier industry. I shared the building with a man who, among other things, built go-karts. Because I had a day-job, this activity took place at night. I don't think this bloke ever went home because he was always there when I arrived and still there when I left. Anyway, he used to test out his go-karts around the streets of Richmond. One night he came flogging around a corner straight into the headlight beams of a patrolling cop-car. Actually he was on his way back from the Vili's pie factory nearby with a couple of pasties for us. Vili's had a 24-hour shop at the factory frequented by hungry taxi drivers and other overweight shift workers. Anyhow, he had to stop and explain what he was doing and why he had no lights on his vehicle (whoever heard of a go-kart with lights anyway). To cut a long story short, they didn't see any reason to charge him with anything and just said don't let us catch catch you again. To cap it off they obliged with a push start. I wonder if cops are still like that?

Now, Gary, after the ProdSports career, the car did get road registered and painted a nice shade of blue. (see below).

These photos were taken at Mallala when it was being demonstrated to Rob Wilson who ultimately bought it. Mallala was closed down then because Frank Williams, who developed AIR had an embargo placed on the track to protect his interests in his own circuit, but we were able to go there and do some "testing". The red car was Gus Safranko's. That car had a short career as a racer too. It was the Alex Tsakmakis car. When Alex disappeared, obviously the car didn't. That bloke is crossing the track with the boot lid because he was retrieving it after it blew off.

Peter, I remember the Canon photographic competition. I even got an entry form (twice, I think) at Calder or somewhere with good intentions. I never ever recalled there being an outcome but obviously there was. Rohan tells me that the prize car went to Sydney and ultimately was destroyed in a fire. There was another Nagari prize. It was the prize in a War Veterans Lottery. Does anybody know anything more about that?

I was going to go on with this post and actually had a fifth photo inserted but it has gone up in smoke. I'll continue in another post when I find it again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The bigger picture

Dino has sent in this picture also at the same time in the same place but this time showing all of the cars in the line-up. Ho can you upstage that? Maybe a helicopter shot of the whole of Thredbo!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Peter M has just sent in this photograph of four Bolwells taken in the same carpark at Thredbo on the same occasion that Simon P took his Nagari photos. The yellow car on the left is (or was) Peter's. Believe it or not it is a Mk.7 - don't let the Nagari nose fool you. It has recently gone to a good home in Victoria. Click on the picture for a bigger, better look.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Following is an email from Peter G which is mainly in response to the discussion begun by Simon P and relating to the identity of the coupe in the 3rd photograph he supplied.

It's difficult to use the indicators as a pointer to the car's age. B8/90 has Cortina blinkers as well as the full moulded bumperetted rear as has B8/15. B8/62 is the same also - all rebodied or partially rebodied cars.
B8/(F8)/21 also had bumperettes when I saw it in Tassie in the 80s, now removed.
- see attachments.

B8/80 has a separate rear panel with bumperettes moulded in - from the factory??

Two of the Fibrecar sports, Murphy and Hallang, have Corina indicators, moulded rear panels and lack bumperettes. The Murphy car was changed by him after he bought it from Ken Rowland. I had the body for the Hallang car changed by Royce to Cortina front and clean tail when I commissioned it. I also had the earlier dash panel (steering column) moulded in, this probably suited Rex when he transferred the mechanicals from B8/3 on to it.


I do agree with Peter that there is no way of checking the age of a Nagari by certain features as owners change things by taste or necessity. What I really should have said was that the car in the photo had MGB blinkers and therefore couldn't be Merryn's because hers had Cortina blinkers (well, last time I looked anyway). By the way Peter Marr sent an email identifying the third car as Meryn's as well.

Going through the cars mentioned one by one....B8/90 was the car that Kevin Cociani pranged badly and Bolwell made him a new body. It came with the new rear treatment of course because that's how they were by that stage. We all know how meticulous Kevin is and he had a preference for the Cortina blinkers. He even moulded his own lenses. I can't tell you about B8/15 but presume it had accident damage some time in its career (most have, all of the original ones are way over 30 years old now). B8/62, the ex-John Katona car, was later fitted with a Fibrecar body and, let's face it, once that happens they can take any configuration. Number 21 is a Fibrecar reproduction anyway and I did hear that the Tasmanian former owner still has the old bits tucked away. Yes, B8/80 was a factory built car but I do recall that it was restored by the second owner (Guy is the 4th I think) only 10 years after it was built. And finally, the last 2 mentioned were Fibrecar versions as well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Here's proof

In the previous post I raised the question of when the first Nagari raced. While we still don't know for sure so far, this article in Modern Motor dated June 1972 (sent by Peter G) shows that the first Nagari sports was racing by then and that the coupe version was already racing prior to that. Keep those articles rolling in!

Reading the article raises another question. Do we add Bob Muir to our list of Nagari race drivers? And another. How many Nagaris in kit form went to South Africa? My guess is only the one mentioned in the previous post. Prove me wrong!

Help wanted

This lovely looking Nagari is raced in Europe, predominantly in Germany, by Leo Kusters. It would help Leo with his eligibility for the class he races in if he could prove that the cars were raced in the years that they were produced. This one is chassis number 44 which tells me that it was made in 1973. Mainly they were made from 1970 to 1974. If I remember rightly, this car started life in South Africa or was there early in its life anyway. Somehow it turned up in England. I recall it being advertised for sale in one of those glossy ads in the back pages of Autosport. Anyway, it moved across to Holland or Belgium or Germany and Leo has been racing it for a few seasons now. When did the first Nagari hit the track? This shot of Peter Warren was taken at Oran Park in 1974. I see it has the MGB blinkers. Did Peter have another Nagari race car before that? I think he might have. The race car that Barry Main bought from him was no. 46 (pre-MGB blinkers). I had a feeling Peter was the first to race a Nagari.
Or did Ranald (below) beat him to it? When did either of them start? Or was it John Latham? Might be time to drag out those old Auto Actions and Racing Car News.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Simon says

From Simon P in New Zealand comes:-
I just read your blog: what a complicated web the Bolwells ancestry weave......more incestuous than a daytime soap! Great reading!! I'm sure I have photos of the Lewis's B8/93... is it the red one attached? And how about the other 2 taken at Easter nationals at the Snowy Mountains when I first got my car.

Well, Simon, I'm glad that the blog has dragged you away from the daytime soapies if nothing else. There is more to life. Was the Easter you mentioned the one at Bright a few years back? I made it to that one. In the interests of accuracy I'll let our avid readers identify these cars.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I'm really only guessing that this is number 1. It's a good guess though because this picture is one of the release photos issued in 1969 featuring both Bolwell brothers. Copies of this are even held by the National Archives in Canberra. I dragged this picture out because the other day Colin was commenting on the ROH pressed steel wheels on a couple of the early Nagari racers and sure enough here they are again. Note also the one-piece side windows again.

Does anybody know what happened to this car after it left the factory? The only information I have is that it was traded in on a Cortina at a Sydney car yard in 1974.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Early Days at Calder

Thanks to Henry S here's some memories to take you back.............. 1. Ranald Maclurkin trying to shake off a Datsun. Pesky little critters those Datsuns.
2. Ranald at Glo-weave.
3. Ranald Maclurkin, John Latham.
4. John Latham and the prototype sports.
5. Oops, lost it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nagari race cars

Here's a list of Nagari race drivers that come to mind:-Peter Warren, Ranald Maclurkin, Steve Webb, Chris Clearihan, John Gourlay, John Latham, Alan Edwards, Trevor Jones, Ross Bond, Allan Hanns, Barry Main, Alex Tsakmakis, Bernie Van Elsen, Ross Donnelly, Max Ullrich, Arthur Neill, Rob Wilson, Ian Wookey, Steve Pretzel, Leo Kusters. There's 20 names, That represents a few cars too. I'm sitting by the computer waiting for the emails about who I've left out.

The photo below is of 3 of them and I'l talk about some others from time to time in the future. This photo was taken right down the back of the AIR circuit in the late 70s. Here you can see Alan Edwarda leading John Gourlay followed by Barry Main. Barry's car I'm pretty sure came from Peter Warren as a dedicated race car although it was very much updated and maintained by Barry's mate Norm (no, not Clements). It was B8/46. After its racing career had ended, the chassis went into Rob Luck's show car (see below). Despite the chassis being well engineered, Rob tells me that there's not much of it left as he turns it into a very sophisticated road car - the next stage in its career.
The body was bought by John Van Wokum and this is the car he produced. I believe it is in Western Australia now.
John Gourlay's car is B8/38. It was raced originally by Ranald Maclurkin and quite successfully I might add. John did very well with this car but did retire it after he built another one which used to be referred to as the SuperBolwell. That car, with massive horsepower, went on to monster the Porsches and Panteras of the day. When its race days were over, the chassis found its way under a Saab sports sedan and the body came over to South Australia where it still lives. Keith Rilston rolled his B8/110 at Collingrove hillclimb and bought the body to replace his damaged one. The guard flares were taken back very nicely but Kevin Cociani did such a nice job of repairing the old body that the Gourlay body was never used. Meanwhile, B8/38 was sold to Peter Thiry from Wentworth, NSW. Peter was no stranger to Bolwells having previously had a Mk.7 and also was the original owner of B8/93, a factory demonstration car that Campbell had sold directly to him. He was a friend of the Thiry family. That car spent a long time with a number of South Australin owners and is now in the hands of Sue and Geoff Lewis. After Peter, B8/38 went to Steve Bernhardt in Victoria. I don't know how long Steve had it. I'm sure this car is the one that Richard Gac has had for many years. I haven't seen it since Richard had an unfortunate accident in it at Mallala some years ago.

Alan Edwards' car is also an ex-Ranald Maclurkin car although its history is that it was built up from bits. Ranald's son, Ashley was telling me that Ranald acquired a Nagari body by following one on a trailer heading for the tip. Maybe this was the basis for Alan's car. I do recall that Ranald's soft top was made from a hardtop. Does anybody know what happened to the Alan Edwards car?

Ranald Maclurkin, incidentally, went on from Bolwells to race a very potent TVR Griffith and later an Elfin F5000 and a Matich SR3. I remember one day at Calder, a wheel came off Allan Hanns' Nagari and shot up in the air and came down straight through the TVR windscreen landing alongside Ranald. He was a lucky man that day! I don't know what Ranald does these days but do know that both his sons have Datsun Z racers and with more than a passing interest in 240Zs and 260Zs will follow their careers with interest.