Tag Archives: Coventry Climax

Junior Formula One – Heron Alfa Romeo

In 1960 Les Redmond and Syd Diggory built today’s featured Heron to compete in the Formula Junior Series and fitted it with a Formula Junior spec Ford 105E engine.

South African Tony Maggs bought the Heron and fitted it with a Coventry Climax Formula One spec engine with the intention of racing it in the 1960 South African Grand Prix.

Heron Alfa Romeo, Goodwood Revival

Having failed to qualify for the race due to mechanical problems Tony sold the Heron on to Ernest Pieterse who’s Scuderia Alfa Team fitted the car with the road car based Alfa Romeo twin cam engine that remains in the car to this day.

Ernest success with the car include a 6th in the 1961 Rand Grand Prix, 2nd in the 1961 Mozambique Grand Prix and a win in the 1961 Rhodesian, now Zimbabwe, Grand Prix.

Heron Alfa Romeo, HGPCA Test Day Silverstone

Team Valencia’s David Hume bought the car in 1964 and he continued to race the Heron for two seasons in South Africa without success.

In 1966 Andrew Smuts raced the Heron in its final race the Natal Winter Grand Prix.

Heron Alfa Romeo, Eddy Perk, Silverstone Classic,

Eddie Perk is responsible for reviving the Heron and he is seen at the wheel of the car at last years Silverstone Classic meeting.

Thanks for joining me on this Junior Formula One edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Bearing His Own Name – Brabham BT3 F1-1-62

After winning the 1959 and 1960 World Drivers Championships driving 4 cylinder Coventry Climax FPF powered Coopers Jack Brabham went into business with fellow Australian engineer and designer Ron Tauranac to found Motor Racing Developments (MRD) was founded to build racing cars for customers and the Brabham Racing Organisation.

It is believed that the Brabham name was only applied to Motor Racing Developments cars after it was realised that the pronunciation of MRD was akin to the French expletive.

Brabham BT3, Donington Grand Prix Collection,

After building the initial MRD retrospectively known as the Brabham BT1 Formula Junior car a batch of 11 BT2 Formula Juniors was built before thoughts turned towards building a Formula One car today’s featured BT3.

Jack Brabham left Cooper at the end of 1961 and initially raced a Lotus Climax 24 #947 until today’s featured car was ready for the German Grand Prix.

Brabham BT3, Donington Grand Prix Collection,

Only the one Coventry Climax FWMV V8 powered BT3 was built and it was noted for having a roomy cockpit compared to it’s rivals in particular the svelte Lotus 25 built for the equally svelte Jim Clark.

Other notable features included; a Francis-Colotti Type-34, 6 speed gearbox, 9 inch disc brakes and external pipes to the front radiator to help keep the cockpit temperatures down.

Brabham BT3, Donington Grand Prix Collection,

Jack was the first person ever to start a Grand Prix in a car bearing his own name at the 1962 German Grand Prix where he qualified 24th after an engine failure and retired from the race when his improvised throttle linkage proved problematic.

After winning the non championship Danish Grand Prix in his Lotus, finishing third in the non championship Gold Cup in the BT3 Jack missed the Italian GP but returned to for the US Grand Prix and drove the BT3 now fitted with larger brake discs to finish 4th to become the first man to win World Championship points driving a car bearing his own name.

Brabham BT3, Donington Grand Prix Collection,

At the non championship 1962 Mexican Grand Prix Jack finished 2nd to the Lotus 25 shared by Trevor Taylor and Jim Clark and at the season ending South African Grand Prix Jack recorded another 4th place finish.

Jack drove the car in two championship rounds in 1963 finishing a best 5th in the Italian GP, but more importantly he won the non championship Solitude Grand Prix in Germany and Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg, finishing latter 5 laps ahead of his pursuers.

Brabham BT3, Donington Grand Prix Collection,

New Zealander Denny Hulme also drove the BT3 to a fourth place finish in the non championship 9th Kanonloppet race in Sweden.

The BT3 was then sold to Ian Raby who fitted a BRM V8 motor and entered it into four world championship rounds over the ensuing 2 seasons, his best result was 11th in the 1965 British Grand Prix.

Brabham BT3, Donington Grand Prix Collection,

David Hepworth bought the BT3 from Ian and fitted a Chevrolet V8 for use in hillclimbing. Tom Wheatcroft latter acquired the car and had it restored back to it’s original specification.

The car is seen at Tom’s Donington Grand Prix Collection prior to it being sold on in 2012.

01/03/15 Errarta the photo’s originally posted with this blog showed the intercontinental 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder Brabham BT4 driven by Jason Minshaw to victory in the Jack Brabham Memorial Trophy at last years Silverstone Classic meeting not the BT3 as I erroneously thought.

Thanks for joining me on this “Bearing His Own Name” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Maserati Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Versatile Winner – Ginetta Zetec G12 by DARE

A contemporary of the similarly mid engined Lotus Europa, the Ginetta G12 launched in 1966 was designed for the club racer which could be bought for £1,200 in component form.

Ginetta Zetec G12, Prescott

The car was built round a tubular space frame with the fibre glass panels bonded to the frame to make up the cockpit.

Ginetta Zetec G12, Prescott

Numerous motors were fitted to G12’s including the 1 litre / 61 cui Ford (Cosworth) SCA from formula junior, 1.5 litre 91.5 cui Coventry Climax pre 1966 Formula One Motor, 1.6 litre Lotus Twin cam as used in the Elan and Lotus Cortina models, 2 litre Martin V8 and in at least one instance a 3.5 litre / 214 cui all aluminium Buick V8.

Stephens, Ginetta Zetec G12, Prescott

In it’s first year of track competition was the most successful G12 driver winning 11 national races and setting 5 fastest laps in 1966. By the following year the new Chevron B6 provided stiff competition for the G12 and by 1968 it had been succeeded by the open G16. G12’s were raced internationally at Spa and the Nurburgring but without any notable results.

Stephens, Ginetta Zetec G12, Prescott

The G12’s were however good hillclimbers and sprinters with successes by Walter Flückiger won the Swiss Hillclimb championship in his SCA powered example in 1968 and repeated the experience in 1969 after chopping the roof off. Similarly David Render drove his Buick powered example, chassis 05, to the British Sprint Championship title in 1971.

Ginetta Zetec G12, Prescott

It is thought around 27 of these cars may have been built between 1966 and 1968, it appears several may have ended up in Japan. As with the Ginetta G4 production of the G12 was restarted by DARE.

Ginetta Zetec G12, Prescott

Today’s featured 2 litre / 122 cui Zetec powered example, built by DARE, is seen at Prescott where it was driven by Nick Stephens, it should be good for rest to 60 mph times in the region of 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 150 mph. Last time I saw it in November it was for sale, if you would like to speak to the owner do not hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks for joining me on this “Versatile Winner” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Viva Las Vegas – Elva Mk 6

In 1964 Elvis Presley was teamed up with Ann Margret to make one of his better films Viva Las Vegas, a story about a race car driver trials and tribulations as he attempts to compete in the Las Vegas Grand Prix in a blue Mk 6 Elva.

Elva Mk 6, Danville Concours d'Elegance

In the process Lucky Jackson, played by Elvis, falls head over heals for the hotel swimming instructor Rusty Martin played by “marvlous” Ann Margret and promptly loses his money set aside to pay for a new engine and spends the rest of the film working as a waiter to pay his way and preparing for a talent contest which handily has a prize big enough to pay for a new motor.

Elva Mk 6, Danville Concours d'Elegance

It has recently been rediscovered that two different Elva Mk 6’s were used in the Viva Las Vegas film, the first seen on the trailer pulling into Las Vegas and in the workshop is a rare Maserati powered example, which has an extra pair of nose air intakes required by the Maserati motor. The Maserati powered car was a non runner at the time of filming thanks to a ceased bearing in the motor. The second car is a Coventry Climax powered example and can be most easily distinguished by the pair of faux centre air inlets in the nose seen in this linked photograph.

Elva Mk 6, Danville Concours d'Elegance

The lack of four air inlets in the nose points to the possibility that the car photographed by Jay Wollenberger at Danville Concours d’Elegance last year “might” be the Climax powered car that Elvis is seen racing in the film. However it would take a lot more evidence to confirm the possibility before I would part with any cash to either bet on it or purchase the vehicle on the basis that it is the Climax powered Elvis car.

Elva Mk 6, Danville Concours d'Elegance

I won’t give the plot away but I’m sure you can work it out Elvis + Hot Girl + Talent Contest + Las Vegas Grand Prix = ?, here is a link to the official trailer to help you with your maths.

Wishing Elvis a Happy 78th Birthday tomorrow.

My thanks to Jay Wollenweber for his smashing photographs, to harmonizer, RA Historian, David Birchall, Jerry Entin, Peter Morley, and ovfi at The Nostalgia Forum for illuminating the story of the two Elvis Elva’s.

Thanks for joining me on this “Viva Las Vegas” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Oblique Mounted Engine – Lotus 16

The Lotus 16 was Colin Chapmans second single seat / open wheel design built for the 1958 season with lessons learned from the Lotus 12.

Lotus 16, Silverstone Classic

Unlike the 12 which had an offset motor fitted so that the driver could sit next to instead of on top of the prop shaft running to the rear of the car, the Lotus 16 has an obliquely mounted motor running right side front to left side rear which made a big difference to the way the car handled.

Above Eddie McGuire is seen at Silverstone in the remains of the very first Lotus 16 chassis #362.

Lotus 16, Goodwood Revival

The Lotus 16 did not prove particularly successful with Graham Hill scoring a best 6th place in the 1958 Italian Grand Prix. Though it should be noted the cars motors were giving away 500cc / 30.5 cui to their rivals. Lotus persevered with the 16 the following season, now with full size 2.5 litre / 152.5 cui Coventry Climax motors with Innes Ireland scoring 4th and 5th place finishes in the Dutch and Portugese Grand Prix respectively.

For 1960 the Lotus 18, with it’s motor in the back replaced the 16 but the 16’s were used on four further occasions with out any further success. Bruce Halford who made an ill feted start in the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix driving a private John Fisher entered Lotus 16, bought a similar model in the mid 1970’s and turned it into a regular winner of historic events.

Jochuln Folch-Rusinol can be seen in the #12 above overtaking the 1959 Technica Mechanica Maserati of Tony Wood at the Goodwood Revival. These two cars along with the 1959 Ferrari 246 Dino represented the pinnacle of front engined Grand Prix racing cars that were comprehensively beaten and superseded by the rear engined Coopers in 1959 and 1960 when Lotus joined the rear engined revolution with the Lotus 18.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Oblique Mounted Engine’ edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 6 cylinder V8 star of the small screen ! Don’t forget to come back now !