Sunday, January 31, 2010


Tom Drewer has been home for Christmas. I think he's heading back to US tomorrow or this week sometime. While he was here this article appeared in the Advertiser.

A response from Roo re the Buchanan in the Elfin picture.

It's actually this one I believe it's the ex-Jim Wright car that raced at Bathurst in 1958 & 59 before being sold onto SA. can tell by the white paint under the front lights and the the lack of cutaway on the front wheel arches. Only a small number were built without the cutaway, this being the first.
Just in case you couldn't view the 2 photos mentioned, I've reproduced them above. I'm still having trouble working out which one it is in the register section in the Buchanan Motor Company website that Roo organises.

more on the Chuck Manning Special

Remember the Chuck Manning Special? We talked about it a couple of times last year. There are a lot of them around America although Chuck only built the original one. After it won the inaugural sports car race at Golden Gate Park, it achieved such notoriety that everybody else wanted one, mainly because of its rigis chassis design probably. Chuck responded to this by supplying plans to anyone who wrote to him and the rest is history. This car has the protruding upper lip that has been mentioned in posts on the Mark 7 with Nagari doors. Maybe that's where the idea came from. Since those Chuck Manning posts I have heard from the odd US citizen reminiscing about the cars, including Ron Dona, who worked with Chuck at Douglas Aircraft in the 50s where they became close friends. In 1958 the both left Douglas in El Segundo and went to Aerojet in Sacramento. Ron is very familiar with the Chuck Manning Special and its innovations and below are some of his recollections.
Re: An overveiw of Manning's car and innovations. Some of this was documented 60 years ago in Road and Track articles but here's what I recall.

Chassis: Chuck did not feel that his chassis was of great interest. The design criteria was to satisfy his torsional stiffness (TS) requirement at a low weight. He said that when TS was met the beam stiffness would OK and mild strength steel would be adequate. Calculations showed that a single four inch diameter tube with the right wall thickness would be preferred to the heaver double ladder design, but that tubing was not available at the company surplus metals yard. A side note of the chassis was that after winning the Palm Springs race the press asked Chuck if he would divulge his chassis design and he said "send me $2.00 and I'll send a copy of it". The response was so great with bags of envelops containing $2.00 in them that the postal service sent investigators to find out if mail fraud was involved.

Transmission: This was an era before 4//5 and 6 speed transmissions were available and synchronizing low gear in three speeds was unknown. He found that double clutching to get into first gear while moving looses time; however, he demonstrated to me how well he could double clutch. His solution was to modify the Ford transmission to add synchromesh to first gear of his special. This was no small challenge. When synchromesh added to first gear that gear now spins at several times the top gear speed, all the time, creating many problems. While Chuck thought this was a break thru compared to the chassis and offered to sell plans for this modification few were interested.

Odds and ends: Engine camshafts of that era were crude and many local machinists thought they could build a better" winding stick" as they were called. Chuck created his own lobe profile based on a sign wave and had it machined at Iskenderian for his special. The Manning special was built in a detached two car garage behind Chuck's home in Inglewood, CA. As you reported no cars were built for sale. The last time I saw the car it had an egg crate grill and the headlamps were facing to the rear (typical Manning thinking-- headlamps are required but they might have less drag facing to the rear).

Ron Dona

more F1 and dust

Dust first.
On a day set aside for one of the regular "busy bees" at the Truro and Districts dirt circuit which will be having its very first race meetings this year, I want everybody to see what I think are the best GRID GIRLS ever. Here they are with their not so modern wheelbarrow picking stones out of the start/finish straight.
This track is only about a mile from where I started school. I bet not too many people even knew that there was once a Dutton school.
....and, by the way, McLaren have released images of their MP4-25, the car they are pinning their hopes on for 2010.Mercedes power again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

F1 and dust.

Ferrari have just released shots of their 2010 model Ferrari F10. I just love this overhead shot.
Meanwhile, take a look at the latest dust storm approaching Broken Hill the other day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tail Lights

Peter Marr has written today:-
"Interesting about the tail lights. I haven't found your original post about them (and can't remember the content - CRAFTS again) but from the pics of Barry's car in WA I gather that some think that the lights should have the indicator on the inside and the stop/tails on the outside. Am I right?
If you have a look at the attached pic of my ex cars you will see that both have the lights with the indicators on the outside. The Nagari was as it was when I got it (which doesn't mean much after 30 odd years) but the Mk 7 lights were from a Suzuki Grand Vitara. They were marked Left & Right and whilst not marked top and bottom you could tell from the way the drain holes were in them which way they were meant to be fitted."The original post was on Saturday, 9th Jan. 2010 and titled "Easter @ Bridgetown, 2010" and yes, Peter, the discussion was about whether the indicators should be on the outside or the inside. I'm not at all sure about this but meanwhile, I'm off to our friend, Geoff's, to check out the back of his Vitara. The light assembly might be a good substitute for a pair of truck lights on a Bolwell we have up here at the moment although they look pretty smart too.

A very early Streamliner

An early Streamliner makes it a very early Elfin of any kind as they were their first production model, making 23 of them between 1959 and 1963. This one was racing in 1960 I know. This photo was taken at a 9 chain sprint that used to be held alongside the Gawler to Tarlee Road, just near the turnoff to Kapunda. I bet not many remember that. There are 4 sportscars in this picture. Can anybody name the whole 4?The Elfin was built using the remains of an E93A Ford, so it had a 10hp side valve engine, gearbox, diff etc, even removing the torque tube and shortening the tailshaft. It still has the Anglia wheels you'll notice. It belonged to Tony Alcock. His really good mate of the time, they were apprentice mechanics together, was a friend of mine, Peter D, who incidentally is president of the SA P76 Club. Peter and Tony (Hank) used to share the driving of this little car. I don't think this practice of sharing your car with your friends has gone away much really, I recall my youngest son sharing the drives of his RX3 with his mates. What may have disappeared though is driving your race car to race meetings interstate. Anyway, Tony and Peter had this big plan to go overseas and try their luck but when the time came Peter chickened out (I can relate to that) and Tony went without him. The rest is history and Tony carved out a reasonable career in motorsport which came to an abrupt end when he was part of the Embasy Hill F1 Team when Graham Hill crashed his Piper Aztec attempting to land in the fog in North London, killing himself and Tony, along with Ray Brimble, Terry Richards, Tony Brise and Andy Smallman.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trevor in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

This weekend was the first weekend of the New Zealand Motor Racing Festival which also includes part of the Tasman Revival as well as the tribute to Bruce McLaren (the Mclaren Revival). Because of this, McLaren sports cars and F5000s have arrived from all over the world. I think I have counted 38 F5000s competing, lots of McLarens but including 3 Elfins. There are another 3 Elfin sports cars there as well, including an Elfin Mallala that lives over there (the ex-Charlie Occhipinti one) running in an Historic class, but in addition to that, there are races for CanAm sports cars that include Trevor Lambert's ME5 and Steve Webb's 360 Repco, this weekend driven by Murray Sinclair. Up against some pretty formidable opposition that includes a few of those huge McLarens, including one of 8.8 litres!, and, I noticed, one of those later single seater CanAm cars, they've acquitted themselves very well. This weekend was at a new facility called Hampton Downs which is about an hour's drive out of Auckland. There were 2 races for CanAm cars on Saturday and another 2 on Sunday. Results are available on the Mylaps site, then select "car" and then select "NZ". From what I can see Trevor didn't make it to the grid for race 1, where Murray Sinclair came 2nd, but he was certainly there for the next one where he worked his way from 10th to 4th, Murray DNF'd. Next day, Trevor finished 7th in the morning race, Murray 2nd. However, in the next race he made it up to 2nd early in the piece and held that position to the end. Here's a few shots of the mighty ME5 taken in the Sunday races by Neville Cooper.
Haven't seen many pictures of the 360 except for this one where Marrilyn Monroe was being photographed.As mentioned before, Neville took these excellent shots. Please, no reproductions, but he can provide high quality copies at very reasonable costs. Email him at

Upside-down Tail-lights.

Barry C wrote last night:-
"Thank you for pointing out my error."
"I have also sent a photo of a recent Healey run to Seabird for lunch. Healeys are lovely cars but which one would you own?"From my point of view, I'd take any one of them. These days it would take a HUGE lotto win to be able to buy one. Enlarge the photo and you'll notice the Bolwell tail-lights have been swapped over.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New pedal box.

Peter Kordic has just finished testing his new pedal box from Optimum Balanced Products in England. The floor mount gives him more room, he needs to move his legs a lot less. Also, he now has variable bias front/rear. It was a bit complicated getting the MC diameters right but has offered to post a spreadsheet that does it all, on the club forum. I, for one, will look forward to that.

Family Affair

Dads giving their sons a leg up in motorsport are by no means rare. The likes of Mike Drewer and Bob Tweedie making sacrifices to advance the careers of their respective sons is eclipsed by Nigel Mansell, he's got two sons in his team. The Beachdean Mansell Motorsport team are to run a factory-backed Ginetta-Zytek Z09R in the LMP1 class of the Le Mans Series this year. The drivers are to be Mansell's sons Leo and Greg with Nige joining them at Le Mans if they can gain an entry. Here's the orange Ginetta. You can't miss it when it's that colour.
....and here's Nigel and Greg at Silverstone last year when they had a one-off drive in the Ginetta. Leo and Greg have been gaining experience in 2009, Leo in the LMS and Greg in Formula Renault 3.5s (I think).
Back in 1985, the very first year of the Grand Prix in Adelaide, our company, which was involved in sports promotion, organised a luncheon and talk by Nigel Mansell at the Lion Hotel on the Friday before the big race. It was a sell-out and very successful and Nigel turned out to be a very funny man. This is him in the pits on that weekend. I can't remember if I took this photo or Allan Hanns. Scotcher Petroleum had the fuel contract so Allan had the job of dishing out the fuel to the F1 cars. You might remember that Allan drove John Scotcher's Group A sports car. Leah and I just had to swan around the pits like a couple of starry-eyed toffs, crossing the bridge to our seat in the stand opposite for the actual race, where the living daylights was scared out of us by that FA-18 that just appeared out of nowhere. It was all exciting and new to us after the dusty old conditions at the previous 5 AGPs at Calder.

Monday, January 25, 2010

On the grid

Hampton Downs, Sunday, 24th January, 2010. Photo by Neville Cooper.

Spandau Ballet reformed after 20 years.

Coming in April.
Now do we get to ask someone how the yellow Ikara got to Hong Kong?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Of Mark 4s and Historic Registration

Here's a newspaper clipping from the motor section of Friday's Herald-Sun.We in South Australia are very lucky to have what is considered by most people to have the best historic registration system in the country. That's why we don't do anything outside the rules to jeopardise that system. Victoria's permit system is very restrictive by comparison, but it looks like some modifications are on the way to allow more flexibility.
That's Roger Allgood's Mark 4 in the picture. For those who don't know, that's the ex-Dave Bruce, ex-Paul Smith rotary powered car. There have also been rotary powered Mark 7s. Peter G has been musing over the various powerplants used in Mark 4s. He knows of the Holden Greys, Zephyr, Cortina, Corolla, Datsun 1200 and 1600, Ford 289 V8, Alfa 2ltr, Mazda Rotary and Hillman Imp. Offhand, I don't think I can add to that list, except for the Celica motor in the yellow one. Can anybody else?
I should devote more blog time to Mark 4s and think I will. Trouble is they are a bit thin on the ground in SA compared to other states.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More on those A-arms

Matt J has sent some photos of those Racecraft A-arms.
Matt's been off the air for a while with the arrival of their first-born, a little girl. She's 6 months old now. The Mark 7 is back at George's again and work is about to re-commence. A 302W has been built for it. The chassis looks interesting as it sweeps wide to allow access to rear sparkplugs and to make room for extractors.
Peter K, the front spoiler Dino was referring to is actually a rubber one. Some people will remember the flares I had on the rear of my old dark green Nagari sports to keep it legal. They were made from that rubber 4WD moulding that you buy in lengths and cut to size. Roger used some of that moulding, shaped it and screwed it under his nose using big flat washers. If you screw the curved part to the car rather than the normal part it bends out into the shape of a spoiler. Roger is off having some skin cancers removed but next week he'll be able to take some photos of the front of his car and I'll post them here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More on Peter's front end.

Peter Mac was enquiring about the A-arms on Peter Kordic's car and wondering who made them because he's thinking of changing his Torana front end to something like this. Well, the answer is George May at Racecraft. The same A-arms are on George's and Jason Webber's Nagaris and Matt Jenkins' Mark 7 as well. You have to cut and reshape the cross member though. Here's another picture.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Qld Mk.7 front end prompted this note from Chris.

Hi John, the picture of the Qld Mk 7 front end prompts me to tell you that I have recently started looking at coil-overs for our Holden front ends. In looking at the QA1 site they provide upgrades for a number of American cars using their shock absorbers and springs. What appealed to me about their approach is that they use an adjustable shock absorber with a single spring seat at the bottom which is also adjustable though the use of threads as per normal. The clever part about it is that they then use a spring with a large diameter at the top that fits the cross member and a suitable diameter for the shock absorber at the bottom. This means that you effectively have a coil over shock absorber without the need for any modification to the front end, which is very appealing. Springs and shockers can be bought individually or as a kit from QA1. I then contacted Kings Springs in Qld ( company with a world wide reputation) and their response is that they can make tapered springs; the issue that they saw is “the test will be fitting together all the coil over material in the car as the outside diameter of the seat and lock ring won't fit through the hole in the lower control arm. A Bilstein monotube shock is 50mm in diameter and is a tight fit into the lower control arm, so you would have to piece it together.” I guess that any adjustable shock absorber could be used, just don’t use the top spring seat. I am obviously not in a position to put this into action as without a nose etc I can’t determine spring weights – but if people are thinking about coil overs it may be a really good option as there is no cutting and shutting or making of new wishbones required and so they could be fitted without taking the car off the road and would mean that ride heights could be adjusted. Cheers Chris G

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mark 7 developments in Queensland

Peter K has sent a photo of his front end. Looks very impressive. It's just been de-nolathaned so hopefully he can get a few more kilometres out of it now.
The next step is to do something to stop the nose lifting at 200 clicks. He's thinking about an airdam and in keeping with the period is considering bending up a small metal one a-la XU1. He did, however ask about the mould we had. This is it below along with a piece that's come out of it.
It was really done for Nagari racecars but as you can see below, it looks OK and is fairly effective on Mark 7s as well.

New arrival.

Here's the black beast arriving at Bryan B's place.
....and here it is in his back yard.Nice big fuel tank I see. Yes it has NSW origins, see the bonnet bulge. I must be careful talking about bulges. I mentioned an increase in the size of a bonnet bulge after fitting a Datsun 6 on an American TVR forum and was warned that it was a family site. Anyway, Bryan is like a kid with a new toy and I'm excited too. I can't wait to see it.

The Mark 7 with the Nagari doors - part 5

This lot of Dino's photos centre around the rear hatch which seems to have caught his eye.
....and finally a shot of an authentic looking chassis plate which may also pose a link to Fibrecar who saw the need to produce a batch of these. I'm told it also has a year stamped on it - 1965.My understanding is that the first Mark 7 appeared in 1966 and in 1966 it was still possible to get a Mark 5. This would make this car a very early example.