Tag Archives: New Zealand

Just Waiting – Ferrari 500/625A/750 #3/2/0482

Wondering around the pits at Silverstone during an HGPCA test day a couple of months ago I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cars just waiting for their stories to be told, one such was today’s featured Ferrari which was built in 1952 as a 4 cylinder 2 litre / 122 cui Ferrari 500 chassis #3 for the Formula 2 season which was also designated as the World Drivers Championship Formula.

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

This car is said to have raced alongside the sister chassis #005 raced by Alberto Ascari to two consecutive World Drivers Championships, though I have yet to discover who drove it or the results it achieved.

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

In 1954 new Formula One regulations were adopted for the World Drivers Championship mandating 2.5 litre / 152 cui motors and when Ferrari ran into problems with it’s intended ‘Squalo’ 553 challenger they converted some of the old Formula 2 cars to “625” specification with larger 2.5 litre / 152 cui 4 cylinder motor. This particular car then became a 625 with the chassis number 2.

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

With no progress on the Squalo and later 555 Super Squalo designs Ferrari updated this car further to 625A spec for the start of the 1955 season with a more aerodynamic tail, the chassis was lengthened by just under two inches, the additional length being inserted by cutting the chassis just ahead of the cockpit and the suspension was revised with coil springs replacing the transverse leaf spring at the front.

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

The cars first race of the 1955 World Drivers Championship season was in Argentina, which lent it’s initial to the 625 designation. Two 625A’s were entered and they finished second and third behind reigning champion Juan Manuel Fangio’s Mercedes Benz. Unusually the two 625A’s were each driven by three drivers coming in second were Gonzalez, Farina and Trintignant and third were Maglioli who shared with Trintignant and Farina !

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

The next race was at Monaco where Maurice Trintignant qualified today’s featured car 9th behind a pair of Mercedes Benz cars, three Lancia D50’s and three Maserati’s. During the race Trintignant, for whom everything outside racing was ‘just waiting’, guided his car to an unlikely victory as those ahead retired with mechanical issues while the Lancia driven by Ascari famously fell into the water which he survived only to be killed four days later testing a Ferrari sports car at Monza.

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

The 1955 Monaco victory was the first World Drivers Championship event to be won by a Frenchman since it’s inception in 1950, the first to be one on Englebert Tyres and Ferrari’s only victory in the 1955 Championship season. At the end of the year the car was fitted with a 4 cylinder 3 litre / 183 cui Ferrari 750 sportscar motor and sold to British wool merchant and amateur racer Peter Whitehead, with Peters old customer chassis number #0482 to compete in the unrestricted Formula Libre races being held in New Zealand in 1956. Peter won both the Lady Wigram Trophy and the Southland Road Race, note some sources incorrectly point to this car being driven by Peter Whitehead to two victories in New Zealand in 1957, by then he was actually drove and won both races with in a Ferrari Super Squallo 555 fitted with an 3.4 litre 860 Monza sports car motor.

Ferrari 500/625 A/750, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

Late in 1956 Froilan Gonzales bought the car and took it to Argentina where it appears to have remained until it resurfaced in the United States in the 1990’s. Current owner Alexander Boswell bought the car in 1999 and found the three chassis numbers which confirmed the cars identity and history welded one atop the other.

Mr Boswell had the car restored to the same 3 litre / 183 cui 625A/750 #0482 specification as it was when supplied to Peter Whitehead by Ferrari for his New Zealand adventure.

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


Racing Transformer – McLaren Elva Mark I #M1A-20-15

In 1952 aged just 14 years old Bruce McLaren entered his first competition driving event a hillclimb in New Zealand with an Austin A7 Ulster which hois Dad Les had restored. by 1957 he was driving a Cooper Climax which he also modified sufficiently to become runnner up in the 1957 and 1958 New Zealand Formula 2 series.

By the end of 1958 Bruce made his Grand Prix debut in the German Grand Prix driving a works Formula 2 Cooper Climax where he finished fifth but was not awarded any World Championship points which were only awarded to drivers of Formula One cars. Bruce stayed with Cooper for seven years becoming the then youngest Grand Prix winner aged just 22 in the 1959 US Grand Prix at which his team mate Jack Brabham won his clinched his World Championship.

In 1963 Bruce founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd and his first car was the Zerex Special a car that had been transformed from a 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Cooper Climax single seater Formula one car to a two seater sports car powered by an Oldsmobile V8 featuring a tube frame of Bruces own devising, the rechassisied car painted garden gate green was distinguished by eight stub exhausts angled to the rear, won first time out at Mosport in Canada in 1964 and again at Brands Hatch the same year. This car was last seen in Venezuela at the end of the 20th Century.

For 1964 Bruce built 3 Oldsmobible powered M1A sports racing cars which were the first first to bear his name, of which the first Bruce raced, the second was used for testing and the third was a show car. Bruce entered into an agreement with Trojan who were also owners of Elva Cars to build a production run of customer M1A’s under license for the 1965 season.

McLaren Elva Mark I, Goodwood Revival

Today’s featured car is one of the 24 M1A’s built under license and was marketed in the USA as the McLaren Elva Mark 1 which could be fitted with Chevrolet, Ford or Oldsmobile V8’s. This particular chassis #M1A-20-15 was originally supplied to Joe Starkey who is recorded as having won seven events in McLaren Elva Mark 1 chassis in 1965 and 1966, although at the time of writing these achievements have not been specifically ascribed to the chassis featured today. If you believe this car is the one Joe won those races in, as seen winning at Green Valley in 1966 in this linked photo by Jerry Melton please do not hesitate to chime in below.

In 1968 having failed to attract much interest in it’s 3 litre / 183 cui Formula A open wheel series the SCCA opened up it’s premier category to 5 litre / 302 cui stock block motors which over the ensuing 6 years proved extremely popular in the US, UK South Africa and particularly Australia where the F5000 series, as Formula A was known outside the USA, remained a premier category until 1982.

For the new 5 litre / 302 cui regulations Joe Starkey had his M1A transformed into an offset single seater open wheel car running a 500 cc / 30 cui undersized Oldsmobile motor. Starkey’s McLaren in open wheel form can be seen in this grainy linked photo. Joe was not alone converting a McLaren 2 seater into an open wheeler for Formula A.

Since the featured photograph of the car restored to it’s original closed wheel form was taken, with current owner John Bladon driving at Goodwood, the large chrome safety cage has been replaced with a black one of more modest proportions in time for a winter trip to Australia.

I’ll be celebrating McLaren’s first 50 years by featuring 3 more McLarens on Sunday’s for the rest of April.

My thanks to owner John Bladon, David McKinney and RA Historian from The Nostalgia Forum for their help identifying today’s featured car.

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