I went to a wonderful museum last year and wandered at will amongst the cars – they had apparently been collected by a local mining magnate and were stored in a country town about an hour out of Perth. The collection was an eclectic one, and I was unable to fathom why some of the items were of interest to the owner. But I got in cheaply on a seniors ticket and looked my fill.
The most puzzling of the cars were the racers – mainly because they were such a mixed bag and there wasn’t clear story of how they fitted into the story of local car racing. I puzzled out a few things for myself, but have probably gotten it wrong.
This imposing beauty may well be a replica of something that raced elsewhere in the world. I think it a 1904 Samson Napier from the sign but the condition of it seems too perfect. The really impressive part is the use of the copper tubing to form both an engine compartment and a cooling radiator. No seat belts or windscreen seem to make the position of the mechanic more perilous that need be as he is denied even the comfort of the steering wheel to hang on to.
Smaller, lighter, weirder…this yellow boat tail seems to have a motor-cycle engine partially buried in the front of the chassis. The front axle has the same sort of steering action that we used to see in billy carts or soap-box racers – albeit with a vertical spring to rest on.
The final drive is also a thing of interest – is it really going to go forward with just a rubber vee belt and two pulleys? Not with that particular belt, I imagine…
And the single light at the front…acetylene, one supposes, and certainly an elegant little brass accessory. But it argues that this mechanical confection was let loose on the open road after dark. A midnight apparition.
Now we’re getting somewhere…but unfortunately we never did. This special is the partially – built remainder of a project that was to have been the salvation of a young man of good family. Alas, it did not succeed.
Here is a racer! I am assuming an Offenhauser under that bonnet and mag wheels and all the trimmings that made American speedway racing great in the 40’s and 50’s. I am at a loss as to how it got here or exactly what tier of racing it competed in over there. Was it an Indianapolis car?
Here is an Australian car of the 50’s and 60’s. Home made but to a quasi-continental style for circuit racing in the eastern states. It almost echoes a Mercdes style, though the engine is likely to be American or Australian.
I wish I knew more. On another visit I will get more information. Please note that there are wilder birds seen at other Perth exhibitions from the early days of motor sport in the state. Few of them ever look good, but they do attract the eye.