Tag Archives: Australia

Four Independently Sprung Tons – Bluebird Proteus CN7

Between 1955 and 1964 Donald Campbell, son of Sir Malcom, set 6 World Water Speed records in the remarkable jet powered hyroplane Bluebird K7.

Equally remarkably during much of this time Donald was also raising the funds for todays featured Bluebird-Proteus CN7 for an attack on the 394 mph land speed record which had been set by John Cobb driving the Railton Mobil Special in September 1947.

After Donald had set a new water speed record of 202 mph with his K7 hydroplane he asked it’s designers Lew and Ken Norris if they would like to design and build today’s featured record breaking car.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

The Norris brothers set about devising possibly the worlds most sophisticated motor vehicle with a monocoque chassis housing a modified 4,450hp Bristol-Siddeley Proteus turbo prop motor that delivers power through two gearboxes to the front and rear axles which in turn drive the independently sprung 52 inch Dunlop wheels.

The Norris Brothers and many since anticipated that the Bluebird Proteus CN7 would be capable of 500 mph.

Despite the cars front wheels having only a 4 degree turning angle Donald Campbell gave the CN7 it’s first public outing at Goodwood in 1960 managing a couple of demonstration laps. With the engine running at idling speed it still managed to reach 100 mph on the straight.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

Donald’s first attempts to break the World Land Speed record at Bonneville in 1960 ended with an accident in which he suffered a fractured lower skull and a broken ear drum.

While recuperating Donald learned to fly and rebuilt CN7 for a Land Speed Record Attempt in 1963.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

Lake Eyre in Australia was chosen not only because more space was available by also because it had not rained there for 20 years… until Donald and CN7 turned up.

In 1964 Donald returned to Lake Eyre and without a properly dried out salt surface managed to raise the World Land Speed Record to a disappointing 403 mph, nearly 100 miles an hour short of his target.

On the 31st of December 1964 Donald became the first man to set World Speed Records on Land and Water in the same year when he set his final new record aboard K7 of 276 mph on Lake Dumbkeyung also in Australia.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

The regulations for land speed records were relaxed to allow thrust powered vehicles without driven wheels shortly after Donald set his record in the four wheel drive CN7.

The Norris brothers were envisaging rocket propulsion for a new Bluebird Mach 1.1 vehicle when Donald was killed aboard K7 on Coniston Water in England while he was trying to raise the World Water Speed record on January 4th 1967.

Bluebird Proteus CN7 is seen in these photographs at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu where it is usually to be found when not out on loan.

Thanks for joining me on this “Four Independently Sprung Tons” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another Triumph Rally car. Don’t forget to come back now !


First Australian – TVR Grantura Mk3 #9/686

The MK3 and later TVR Grantura’s, first seen in 1962, featured a new chassis designed by John Thurner to primarily accept either 1622 cc / 98.9 cui or 1798 cc / 109.7 cui four cylinder MG motors.

TVR Grantura Mk3, Oulton Park

It would appear that while enquiries about racing a TVR in Australia Peter Owen inadvertently was appointed TVR’s Australian Agent. In 1964 today’s featured car chassis #9/686 fitted with the larger MG motor became the first TVR to be imported to Australia where Peter registered it for the road and took it to the Sydney Motor Show.

TVR Grantura Mk3, Oulton Park

During 1964 Peter also clocked up a couple of wins at Oran Park and Warwick Farm before employing a rising star, Kevin Bartlett, to drive the car.

TVR Grantura Mk3, Oulton Park

After being campaigned down under until the 1970’s #9/686 was bought by French Journalist Christophe Wilmart just over ten years ago who brought it back to Europe and had it prepared for historic racing.

Current owners Colin and Helen Elstrop bought the car, seen here in the paddock at Oulton Park last weekend, to the UK in 2007 and have raced it regularly since.

Thanks for joining me on this “First Australian” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I be returning to Redhill Village Hall for Breakfast. Don’t for get to come back now !


Motorised Goat – Farmobil

A couple of months ago I started clearing some stuff out through my e-bay account, including a collection of French Adverts from a magazine called Connaissance des arts.

Chrysler, Advertisement, Connaissance des arts

One item that really triggered my curiosity was featured on the undated Chrysler ad above was the cute l’il utility vehicle referred to as the Farmobil below.

Farmobile Chrysler, Advertisement, Connaissance des arts

Last thing I imagined was that this item would sell to a Farmobil owner…. living in Perth Australia !
Mark Bird owner of today’s featured Farmobil kindly sent me some photo’s of his vehicle and some information about it to share.


The Farmobil story begins in a small town on the southern border of Germany with Switzerland in Gottmadingen where the former Fahr factory occupied 4,000 employees in the production of agricultural machinery and equipment with metal castings a speciality.


One of the products they designed in co operation with BMW is the Farmobil a light utility truck with all round independent suspension and a drive train including, 4 speed synchromesh gearbox, 2 cylinder BMW 700 cc / 42.7 cui motor, stick shift, brakes and wheels lifted more or less straight out of a BMW 700 LS.


To maximise flexibility the windscreen could be folded down and the doors removed and for inclement weather the Farmobil was provided with a canvass roof, it had a power take off for farm implements and could even be converted into a six seat passenger vehicle.


The 32 hp air cooled horizontally opposed motor was originally developed for BMW motorcycles, but this is not the same single cylinder unit as used in the BMW Isetta bubble car or R60 flat twin as used in the BMW 600 Bubble Car.

Assembley of Farmobils was put out to tender which was won by Greek low volume manufacturer Peter Kondorgouris who founded Farco to build the Farmobil in Thessalonika, Greece, from 1962 to 1966.


During this time Chrysler was looking for away into the European markets and acquired Farco as a first step towards establishing a European base. However shortly after the acquisition Ford sold it’s share in the French Simca concern and Chrysler bought it giving them an entrance into the French and German markets while the Farmobil manufactured in Greece, outside the European Economic Union (EEC) at the time, attracted prohibitive taxes.


In Greece, where the Farmobil was never officially distributed, it was known as the ‘motorised goat’. Chrysler distributed it through it’s network within the EEC however by 1966 production came to an end after efforts to move production to Rotterdam, and the UK where two vehicles fitted with Hillman Imp motors from the Rootes Group, soon to become part of the Chrysler empire all failed to secure a future for the versatile machine of which just under 1000 were built between 1962 and 1966.


Mark, a member of the “Special Interest Vehicle Association” (SIVA) found his 1966 example needing a full restoration in France in 1999 and took it back to Australia where he spent 12 years locating all the correct parts to restore it back to the as new showroom condition seen here.


He says that “It is a completely unknown vehicle in Australia so it’s a bit difficult to share it with others” outside the the Special Interest Vehicles Association whose members own a diverse range of vehicles including Hino Contessa, Messerschmitt KR 200 & 201, NSU Prinz and Ro80, Autobianchi Bianchina, Trojan 200, Nissan S-Cargo, Honda s600″s , Coupe 7″s & 9″s as well as N360 and TN360 to name a few.

My thanks to Mark for sharing today’s photographs of his stout little Farmobile about which he contributed to a fuller description which can be seen on the allpar.com website linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this “Mechanised Goat” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for a few of the many stories behind the oldest Bugatti in Britain. Don’t forget to come back now !

18/02/14 Errata in the original post of this blog I incorrectly spelled Farmobil, it has no ‘e’ and stated; that the Farmobil’s transmission was a Porsche design which it was not, that the motor was shared with the BMW Isetta Bubble car which was also incorrect.

Apologies for the confusion and thanks to Mark Bird for pointing out the inaccuracies. Mark also tells me that the Farmobil is not to be confused with the similar but completely unrelated Steyer Puch Haflinger made in Austria.


Who can it be now ? – Vauxhall VXR8

The Vauxhall VXR8 is a badge engineered HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) Clubsport built in Clayton, Victoria Australia.

HSV Clubsports, based on the then current Holden VE Commodore body, were sold as the CSV (Chevrolet Special Vehicles) CR8 in the Middle East and Pontiac G8 in the United States.

This model is fitted with a 425 hp 6162 cc / 376 cui LS3 engine.

A Bathurst option was available with a 530 hp supercharged version of the LS3.

Regular GALPOT readers might remember the HSV strap line from my blog on the HSV Maloo R8 runs ‘ I just want one !’ which is equally applicable to this antipodean model I think you might agree.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Clayton, Victoria edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at some of the details from this weekends Race Retro exhibition at Stoneleigh. Don’t forget to come back now !