Type A Vauxhall to join line-up at Australian Hillclimb championship

100-year-old Vauxhall in hillclimb Rob Rowe at the wheel of the 100-year-old Type A Vauxhall. Picture: Peter Stoop
杭州桑拿按摩

Rob Rowe at the wheel of the 100-year-old Type A Vauxhall. Picture: Peter Stoop

Rob Rowe at the wheel of the 100-year-old Type A Vauxhall. Picture: Peter Stoop

Rob Rowe at the wheel of the 100-year-old Type A Vauxhall. Picture: Peter Stoop

Rob Rowe at the wheel of the 100-year-old Type A Vauxhall. Picture: Peter Stoop

Hill Climb competitor Bill Norman.

Hill Climb competitor Brett Haywood.

Hill Climb competitor Ron Hay.

Hill Climb competitor Greg Ackland.

TweetFacebookLOOK at any modern racing car and you can see straight away that it has been designed for function rather than form.

Big wings generate huge downforce to weld then to race tracks, huge tyres have rubber compounds that glue them to the surface and even the drivers sit so low the tops of their helmets are barely visible above the bodywork of the slender single-seat machines.

One hundred years ago things were different, the cars elegant rather than aerodynamic.

Wheels and tyres were tall and skinny, body designs were more artistic than scientific and drivers and their riding mechanics sat tall and proud to not only see the road ahead but also manhandle their cars, crunch the external gearshift, reef on the big handbrake lever and heave on the huge steering wheel.

The changes of 100 years will be brought into sharp focus at Ringwood this weekend when the Newcastle MG Car Club hosts the Australian Hillclimb Championship.

Because among the sleek racers preparing to battle the Ringwood hill will be a car that is essentially the grandfather of the modern hillclimb machine, a vehicle that was actually built 100 years ago by British car maker Vauxhall as a factory racer and celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend surrounded by its automotive “family”.

“Fifty Bob”, as the car is known, is a Newcastle resident considered by many as one of Australia’s most significant racing cars.

Owned by Peter Adams – the car’s sixth owner in 100 years — and driven by Rob Rowe, the Type A Vauxhall, with its big 3.0 litre, four-cylinder, side valve engine, came to Australia in 1914 and in a long and illustrious career broke hillclimb and intercity records everywhere.

In the hands of Boyd Edkins the old Vauxhall broke the record for Sydney’s Artillery Hill in 1914 and the Sydney – Melbourne record in 1915, taking just 15 hours to do the run, all of it on gravel roads.

Rob Rowe describes it as a very different car to drive.

“It hasn’t got electric start so it need a crank handle to start it and it has a hand-operated fuel pump so fuel pressure has to be pumped-up,’’ Mr Rowe said.

“It’s good for about 50km/h per 1000rpm and it has a completely ‘crash’ gearbox [there are no synchromesh rings in the gearbox] but once you get it into second gear it’s magic.”

Of its performance, he says Fifty Bob is still a bit of a stallion.

“Peter Adams has been up Artillery Hill in his V8 Holden Commodore and reckons it still wasn’t as quick as Fifty Bob.”

The Australian Hillclimb Championship is one of Australian motorsport’s oldest titles, dating back to 1938. Held in a different location each year, it has attracted some major players.

The late Sir Jack Brabham won it three times, Lex Davison, Greg Cusack and Peter Whitehead all held the trophy aloft and hillclimb specialists Paul England, Peter Gumley and Bruce Walton have tasted victory, Gumley an astounding 10 times.


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