Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Valour Formula Ford

A Valour driven by Peter Hughes in 1972 held the Pukekoe lap record for a Formula Ford

I am really interested in hearing from anyone who owns a Valour Formula Ford or Formula Vee so please email me don_short@bigfoot.com

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Designer - Trevor Larsen

As you will see later in the blog there were three cars that were designed by Trevor Larsen of Auto Research. I believe that the first cars were designed and built in Huntly. The company was moved to Lake Road, Hamilton in the early 1970's when they started building the Formula Fords.

There were 14 kitsets Formula Vees and 2 factory built Vees that were used in the Auto Research Driving School that operated out of Bay Park, Tauranga.

Ten Formula Fords were built plus a further two in production at the time the company was closed down. Two of the Fords went to Australia. One returned to New Zealand.

Do you know whatever happened to the Formula Ford that arrived in Australia in the 1970's? I would love to know.

Only one Formula Junior was built

Formula Junior

The first car was a Formula Junior powered by a 1100cc Cosworth Ford engine rear mounted through a Hewland Mk 4 or 5 gearbox was built out of the Huntly workshops. The car weight estimate was about 880 lbs with a height of 26 1/2 inches to the top of the screen.
The overall length was 11 feet 10 inches. The chassis was Multi-tubular space-frame of 1 inch, 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch, 18 and 16 gauge high tensile seamless tubing. The front suspension was independent double wishbones of un equal lengths with coil over Armstrong shocks. The rear was full independent with wide based lower wishbone, twin radius rods and inside upper link in conjunction with adjustable Armstrong shocks. The brakes were 9 1/4 inch with twin master cylinder, adjustable balance bar and pedals.

Type 694 Formula Vee

The next was a series of Formula Vee's Type 694 (69 for 1969 and 4 for Formula 4) I am not sure on the number of Formula Vees that were built but I have seen photos of the double decker trailer that was used to transport them to Bay Park for the driving schools. The company even used to offer an annual scholarship in a Formula Ford.

Type 723 Formula Ford

Valour Formula Ford Type 723 (72 for 1972 and Formula 3 was Formula Ford) was produced in a factory in Lake Road, Hamilton by a company called the Auto Research. It was New Zealand’s first racing car production line. Approximately twelve 723 cars were manufactured to different levels of finish. These cars were debuted at the Hamilton Motor Show in 1971.

One of the Valour works cars
The chassis design and suspension were taken from a Titan Formula Ford. The body was built by Trevor Larsen and John Hyde (directors of Auto Research Ltd) with the help of a body builder and overseas tradesman. Moulds were made from the shell and fibreglass were taken from these for the production cars.
"There is no profit in the prototype. This one will cost about $9000 when it is finished," said Mr Larsen. The car was planed to be tested on the 11-12 March 1972. They had planned to have three Fords racing as a works team and also used by the New Zealand Racing Drivers School for training cars. The kit was to cost $960 with out the Ford GT motor, $3300 as a rolling chassis or $5200 ready to race.
Auto Research was the fist company in New Zealand to begin making racing cars on a production basis. Eight of the 10 cars to be made in the first year were meant to have been sold even before the first car was completed.
Here are some of the differences between the two cars.
  • The front nose cone.
  • The cars had a hammerhead shark looking front nose cone when they first started racing. This was subsequently banned as it was considered to be a down force aid.
  • The radiators on the side of the car and not in the nose that was normal at the time. Therefore the fluids were not carried though the chassis tubes
  • The rear top engine cover is ramped at the rear when the Titan cover is flat Two pedal options were offered. Top mounted or bottom mounted. The body may have started by using Mark 6 Titan components but by the time they were finished it was quite different.

Back in the 70s some parts were hard to find so as kiwi's they adapted other parts or just made them. In the sale brochure there was two gearbox options. The first was a Hewland Mk8 if you could find and afford one or a modified VW gearbox.
The 723 had quite unique rear uprights that were cast aluminum with the words VALOUR cast in the side. I have also seen the same upright with M.J. casting marks. I understand that this is for Mark and John being Mark Petch and John Olson. These uprights utilized a CV joint from a Morris 1100 a disc is from Triumph 2000 and the caliper from a Hillman Hunter.
The steering wheels on the Valour’s are quite unique in they have three fingers supporting the outer ring. On each of these fingers is a series of holes. There was also an arrangement that would allow the steering wheel to be removed by unwinding the badge although I have never seen one.
You hear some interesting stories when you start asking around about these cars. I spoke to the original radiator supplier about how the calculated the size necessary to cool then engine. He laughed at me. He said he was given two shrouds and asked to make radiators to fit them.

Original Owners of Valour Formula Fords
John Broomhead
Dennis Martin
Ian Simcox
Ross Martin
David Tait

Auto Research

The two Auto Reseach works cars at Pukekoke
Auto Research was the name that the cars were manufactured under in Lake Road, Hamilton. It sounds very much like motor racing today, there were lots of people there working for nothing just trying to help get something off the ground

Auto Research also run the New Zealand Driving School. They had a special double decker that they carried the Formula Vee's across from Hamilton. They offered some scholarships for promising drivers. They would use some of the great drivers of the day to help instruct the students e.g Roly Levis
Newsletter to Valour owners from Trevor Larsen

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ian Simcox 723

Ian Simcox built my car from components he purchased from the factory. He was an enthusiastic competitor who had graduated from the NZ Racing Drivers School after winning a scholarship with them.
The car was later owned by John Hyde one of the owners of Valour Cars. He campained the car for a few years until Jeff Goile took it over. After that I believe the that the car was owned by Steve Grant more well known as Radar.

This car was lost for many years and parts were since found in someone's garden. The current owner is Andrew Denton and you can read his rebuild story

This car has now been sold and shipped to Australia

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dennis Martin 723

Dennis Martin built my car from components he purchased from the factory. He was an enthusiastic competitor who had decided to make the step up from Formula Vees. The car was assembled with a Mk8 Hewland and all the other necessary equipment. When it came time to race Dennis had to borrow tow cars of people because he had put all his money into his racing car.
After a time of competing in the 723 he decided to pulled apart and use the components designed and built a Formula Ford himself. This car that he built looks quite different but is still running today. Even though it is not a Valour it has value in that it is a car that has survived from the 70's
Dennis was still competing the last time I looked. He went from Fords back to Vees and has at least one national Vee title. Today I think he is now building Formula First (Formula Vee)

John Broomhead's 723

John had started his single seater racing with the New Zealand Racing Drivers School. This was another part of the Valour Car business. John got is NZRDS qualifying car in October 1971 that made him eligible to use both the Formula Vee and Formula Ford cars

John built his car up from a kit over two years. He campaigned the car at various club meetings usally as car number 64 and three national meetings at Baypark during 1973 till 1974. It was at the October 1974 meeting that they car was destroyed. The car had the normal engine with a Hewland gearbox and did not run with the rear covers.

"The reason for the accident - well I left the braking for the hairpin very late - after having been in the wrong gear for the rolling start and being left behind by everyone - leapt on the brakes - everything locked up so I eased the brakes and they wouldn’t release - the balance bar between the master cylinders jammed in its housing and kept the brakes full on as a result the car continued in a straight line until it encountered the fence, where upon time slowed down the right front suspension went whistled over my shoulder along with various other bits and I began, very seriously to pray, because we were airborne and it looked as though we were going to fly in amongst the group of tree trunks and stumps which were stacked up not vary par from the fence and I was going to die."John Broomhead

John suffered a 20cm cut to his hand and a very very vary bad attitude for the rest of the day.

The chassis was a write off and dumped. The other parts that were of value were sold to other drivers or used on a car called a Radar the was built by Steve Grant

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ross Martins 723

This car was built from a kit by the Martin Brothers. Ross was the driver and his brother was an engineer who made most of the components for the car.

This car was restored by Frank Van Lingen in the mid 1990s. Frank is the buinsess on resotring cars for other people so he really enjoyed working on his own project. This enjoyument showed in the finsh of this car. It is faultless.

He ran the car for a while at historic meetings until he was convinced to sell the car to a partnership that included John Hyde one of the directors of Auto Research Limited.