Sunday, March 22, 2009

GT2

More inspiration from Peter's Sydney Seaforth GP photos. This time the Milano GT2. The GT2, in my opinion was a relatively simple car yet for 3 years in NSW was a front runner in sports car racing among some very formidable company. Milanos were the most popular of the various kit cars built by JWF through the late 50s to early 60s. The Milano started as an open car but later they came up with a roofed version and called it the Milano GT. The name JWF came from the three partners, "Sam" Johnson, Geoff Williams and Grant Furzer but by 1962 Geoff and Grant had gone their separate ways. Sam continued on with the JWF fibreglass business, moving away from sports car bodies and concentrating more on industrial products (does this sound familiar?). However he did go motor racing with a couple of mates, earthmoving contractor Bruce Leer and Moss Angliss. Sam and Bruce ran 179 powered Milano GTs on fabricated twin tubed chassis and Moss raced a Lotus Super 7. For those that don't know the original Milano GTs looked nothing like the GT2 and maybe I'd better post some photos later. After a lapse in racing for Sam and Bruce, they became bitten by the bug again probably inspired by the bits in the workshop left over from the racing days. They were also inspired by the success Moss was having with his clubman and thought about how that style of car would go with a 179 in it. The GT2 doesn't look much like a clubman but you will notice that the cars have long noses and the driver sits right back in the clubman position. Two cars were built, Sam doing the bodies and Bruce doing the chassis. Some of the bodywork was actually bonded to the chassis for additional strength. The cars were ready to race in late 1970. By then Sam's wife didn't like him racing any more and Moss, who had helped build the second chassis, mainly drove Sam's car. Both cars were painted black and looked stunning. The motors were almost standard apart from being fitted with triple one and three quarter inch SUs. Yet they were front runners. I used to follow their performances with enthusiasm, often through the pages of RCN and Auto Action. In 1972 in round 3 of the Australian Sports Car Championship at Warwick Farm, Bruce came a creditable 6th and Moss 7th behind such cars as the Elfin 360s of South Australians Phil Moore (3rd) and Henry Michell (5th) and the Elfin ME5 of Charlie Occhipinti (4th). The ME5 is the awesome car that we are now following with equal enthusiasm in the hands of Trevor Lambert. When the emphasis in sportscar racing shifted to Production Sportscars, you might recall Charlie came out with that monstrous Corvette and to this day, Chris Clearihan is still grumbling about Charlie flipping his ex-Canon Nagari at Hume Weir as he came up to lap him resulting in the car being rebodied in LHD form. I've digressed so much that I might as well do so even more. On the subject of the 1972 championship, in round 5, 7th place was taken by Barry Coleman in a Bolwell Mark 7 which might be of some interest to the friends of Dave Hamlin. Meanwhile, back at the GT2, pressure came from everywhere for replicas to be made but Sam was adamant that they just weren't viable as they would be too much work. There was just one exception. A cousin of Frank Matich was able to convince them to build a third car for him and that car is still around today in the hands of Scott Whittaker I believe. In 1973 both works cars went to Western Australia. Firstly Sam's car, but it wasn't long before the new owner pranged it and wanted to buy Bruce's which went over there too. I'm not sure which car it is but former NSW Bolwell Cub president, Andrew Kluver, owns this GT2 below. It would be great to hear from Andrew about the recent history of his car.
In more recent times I came across Bruce Leer when he came to SA for a round of the speedcar championship with his speedway team. I have a feeling he was building speedcars and supporting his son in that endeavour as was my old friend Bruce Howle (another Bruce from Sydney).

12 comments:

Jim said...

Nice car and interesting story, John. Simple is best, eh?!
I don't suppose you know what car the windsceen came from, do you?

Anonymous said...

There was a great article on the restoration of the Kluver car in Aust Classic Car in 2002, March, May, June and July.
This wasn't a simple car and sorry Jim I'm not sure of the windscreen.
PeterG

Jim said...

Thanks, Peter. It just struck me how much like a Bolwell screen it looked

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John L said...

Reading the May 2002 Australian Classic Car,Andrew's car is the Bruce Leer one. How it made its way back from WA is not clear but when he acquired it in 1999 it had been languishing in a leaking shed in a northern beach suburb of Sydney for a dozen years or so and was out in the open in a quarry for some time before that.

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Rod said...

Remember seeing the Milano at Amaroo and Oran Park in the early seventies, just a fantastic car, my brother had a Mark 7 Bolwell,which was great but the Milano seemed to come from another world, and it was a good place.It was lways near the front or in front to.Why they never sold that shape is beyond my comprehension, that is why I still remember the name.
So only one car left?Would buy it in a flash.

speedwest.net said...

Hi

The Milano GT2s were owned in WA by Russell Lamborn. The first car was destroyed against the entry to the old pits at the top of the hill at Wanneroo in June 1973. I don't remember what caused the accident but I do remember it was something which had been put together back to front in the rear suspension or brakes. I was there on the day and it was a very, very big accident, with Lamborn requiring several stitches to his forehead after slamming into the steering wheel. The car was always campaigned in its original black and gold livery in WA.

Lamborn re-appeared in mid 1974 in the bigger engined Milano, which had been painted in a lovely red orange colour always listed in the programme as 'red pepper'. The second car had a rear wing which the first didn't have, and was campaigned by Lamborn until 1976 when Perth jeweller John Blennerhassett purchased the car. John ran the car until 1981. After that, the thread goes cold in WA.

I do remember loving both the cars. They were really gorgeous. I would love to have plenty of money to make a handsome offer for one of the two existing cars.

There are images of both cars during their stay in WA at my website, speedwest.net. I hope this helps your history of the cars.

Ray Bell said...

Hi, these were great cars!

And Barry Campbell's Bolwell 6 was a nice thing too. I remember them all very well.

Just like I remember writing the story about the GT2s which you have largely quoted. This was published a few years ago in Motor Racing Australia.

Perhaps you should have acknowledged this?

Ray Bell

John L said...

Sorry about that Ray. I most certainly would have acknowledged your article in Motor Racing Australia had I seen it. Any information in this blogpost that hasn't been derived from my own memory has come from comments on the Milanos in the Autosport forum that you often contribute to and I often "try" to contribute to. You may have noticed elsewhere in this blog that I have actually mentioned your name when quoting from the forum.

John L said...

Sorry about that Ray. I most certainly would have acknowledged your article in Motor Racing Australia had I seen it. Any information in this blogpost that hasn't been derived from my own memory has come from comments on the Milanos in the Autosport forum that you often contribute to and I often "try" to contribute to. You may have noticed elsewhere in this blog that I have actually mentioned your name when quoting from the forum.