Tuesday, July 31, 2018

B8/26

Let me start with a brief tribute to this man.
John Edwards Davies who owned B8/26 for most of its life. Unfortunately, just like Tony, Jim, Wayne etc., he departed way before he should have, succumbing to a very vigorous cancer. John was a stalwart of the MGCCQ going way back even to the days when Barry Gibb was a member with his MGB. (How many people, Owen Bolwell, knew the BeeGees name came from three members of the Queensland MG Car Club with the initials B.G., Barry being one of them?) And talking of the BeeGees, which is off-subject and irrelevant really, but nevertheless, I've started now, Jason, our congenial Queensland Easter host, sings in a choir that last week took first prize in the 2018 Wynnum Manly Eisteddfod performing the BeeGees' song "How deep is your love."
John and Diane's, and John's in particular, activities included managing the club's very own hillclimb - Mt. Cotton. In fact, I have heard John referred to as "Mr. Mt. Cotton". Runs up the hill in the Bolwell gave him a taste for speed events and he became a regular, not only at Mt. Cotton, but also Mt. Coot-tha, the Leyburn Sprints and Speed-on-Tweed.

Not long before this cancer thing appeared out of nowhere, John was preparing to repaint the Nagari. Now, this car is fitted with the most effective way of extracting hot air from the engine bay and thus allowing it to run cool, even on hot days. I can vouch for that, having owned that car myself. This took the form of vents at the outer extremes of the bonnet rather than at the back of the central bulge where you find back pressure from the windscreen.
Anyway, before painting took place, John was going to take moulds of the two depressions in the bodywork so that we could replicate this venting system. That took a back seat when he became ill and while he and I were exchanging medical backed alternative treatments he lost the fight. Now the car has been painted I doubt that anyone would contemplate taking moulds over the new paintwork.

I bought B8/26 in March 1977 from Robert Moore who lived in Torquay, Victoria. Robert was the second owner. I can't tell you who took delivery of it from the factory as I don't have access to that list held by some members of BCCA-Vic. Robert was a go-kart racer and the Nagari was his transporter, the kart sitting nicely between turrets on a rack bolted to the boot lid. It was nothing as drastic as this of course.
To this day you can see the evidence of where the rack was bolted on the underside of the boot lid. It was the customary deep yellow back then.
That's the family car across the road.
I chose this picture of B8/26 and B8/37 taken on the rocks at Port MacDonnell during a Mt. Gambier Easter because there's a story there. B8/37 is Garry's car of course. I was having a drag with a 427 Corvette (as you do) in Hutt Street which is inside the Adelaide CBD square mile. We were neck and neck as we came out onto the parklands on Hutt Road when lo-and-behold there's a cop car coming the other way. They did a u-ey and on came the flashing lights. The Corvette went left up Glen Osmond Road and I went straight on up George Street and Duthy Street. I made it home without incident and ultimately went to bed. About 1.00 am there's a knock at the door and it's a couple of cops who wanted to talk to me about the car out the front which was seen racing earlier in the evening. Of course I didn't know anything about that and the car hadn't been out at all during the night. "Ah, come on" says one cop, "how many of these yellow Nagaris are there around?" "Well", I said, "there is another one up at Mylor" (Garry's). "Ah, yes, but we've got you there, we got the last three digits of your number plate, triple zero" says the other cop. My answer - "I'm not saying it was the Mylor car, but its rego number is RLT-000 and mine is SSG-000". In those days they didn't have computers on board so they went away to check up. Most Bolwells in SA had triple digit number plates but that's another story. Two hours later the cops are back to tell me that my story was verified but don't worry, they'll be keeping an eye on me, which they did and that's yet another story.

In 1981 I sold the car to Udo Selter who painted it Pepper Red.
 Here's a later photo of B8/26 and B8/37.
Udo didn't have it long, he used the car as a stepping stone to a GT40 kit. While in his care it was the subject of the 1982 club calendar. As it was accelerating up Montefiore Hill, Drew Lenman was photographing it from the dog box at the back of my HJ wagon.
The next owner was Camilla Ullrich in Sydney and Udo delivered it to her on New Year's Day in 1982. Camilla didn't have it long either. A change in her circumstances saw the car ending up in John Thompson Sports Cars on Parramatta Road where it would not have been missed by Mark Philip Cleaves who kept a very keen eye out for the many Bolwells that appeared in yards along that road.

Queensland's Leon Ellery bought it and took it home where he dismantled it to duplicate the chassis and take moulds from the body. The master plan was to take it all to California and sell cars, calling them Centaurs. The Centaur was a much revered Queensland sports car constructed by Tim Harlock, so banana benders weren't too impressed even though there were a few manufacturers around the world that used the name Centaur after the Greek God. The outrage would have been similar to South Australians if somebody went offshore and built Elfins. Leon must have been worried about copyright issues because he widened the body by 4 or 6" and fitted an RX7 windscreen.
So, off he goes to the US with his project, settling in Garden Grove, just south of LA., but not before putting B8/26 back together and selling it to John. I don't think he got around to producing any Nagari pirate jobs but he did do a collection of clubbies most of which were sold in Japan.
Anyway, Leon died over there and his family brought his stuff back to Australia which included the wide Nagari and a clubman. The Nagari was sold to Gary Williamson who set about reverting it back to the correct width. Personally I think that's a pity as the car was certainly unique.

B8/26 was ready for sale when we were up in Beaudesert earlier this year, family friend Ray Evans having done a fine job on it.
However, the MG Car Clubs have their national get-togethers at Easter time too and Diane was off to Tasmania with another lady in the MGCCQ in this MG imitation of an MR2 Spyder.
Anyway, B8/26 has been sold and returns home to South Australia albeit the other side of the state as Trevor is domiciled in Whyalla. We do expect to see Trevor and the car over this way and I believe he is looking to make the trip to Phillip Island next year. Oops, cancel that, Lake Gairdner Speed Trials are around the same time so he'll be there for sure, not necessarily with the Bolwell.

Here endeth the epistle according to St. John.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Phew! What a scattered post John, covered so much ground.
One question; photo 15 ‘later shot of 26 & 37’ - are you sure thats B8/26? MGB front lights, one piece Nagari wheels and no heat extractors at bonnet corners! Which car?
PeterG

Anonymous said...

I think PeterG is right John, I am fairly sure this is Peter Carpenters Nagari, taken at my place with B8/37 when Peter came over to SA with a group of Vics for a weekend at Mallala in the early 2980's.
GarryW

Anonymous said...

Oops, of course I meant "the early 1980's.
GarryW

John L said...

OK, my mistake. It was a long time ago.