HOBART car enthusiast Rodney Williams’ pride and joy is not just rare, it’s the only one in the world.
Hand-built for the 1951 Australian Grand Prix, the one-off machine was raced by its creator, Perth coach builder Harry Smith, in the 1950s.
After the Aussie GP and a handful of local races, it then went off the radar until 1970 when it was found rusting in a swamp in Western Australia.
Now restored to its former glory, Williams, 67, could not be more proud of his 1951 Smith Ford V8 Special, which was one of the jewels in the crown of the Historic Baskerville race meeting for classic cars at Baskerville Raceway — Australia’s second-oldest race track behind Bathurst — over the weekend.
“It’s completely hand-built, a one-off, very rare car,” Williams said.
“It’s the only one of its type in the world.”
Its components are all Ford bits, including the side-valve 3.5-litre Ford Mercury V8 engine.
“It’s very unique for its time because it has full independent suspension with coil springs,” Williams said.
“It was very revolutionary at the time.
“I would hate to put a dollar figure on how much it’s worth.”
The Ford Special is a handful on the track.
“It’s a very difficult car to drive,” Williams said.
Historic Baskerville brought the circuit alive to the sound of classic machines built pre-1976. More than 200 competed in nine categories on both days.
Event director Peter Killick said the 2000-strong turnout was one of the best since the 1970s, and so was the size of the entry list.
“It’s been a great weekend, so we are absolutely rapt,” Killick said.
“It’s the third-biggest crowd at Baskerville since the 1970s, behind the last of the Tasmanian 10,000 race and the truck racing.
“Historic racing is growing strongly all over the world.”
Shannons have given a very good account of the car's history.