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Thread: Willis Family Commodore Sports Sedan

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbanger View Post
    Yeah right, so you are saying '2 door' cars like Ian Algie's Alfetta, Wayne Huxford's Capri, Graeme Addis' Charger and Barry Algie's Monaro and a host of others were not 'Sports Sedans' and ineligible for NI Sports Sedan Association events? Tui billboard time.
    Isn't the wording SPORTS sedans?

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey

    Wouldn't the Graeme Addis charger be the first space frame sports sedan built ?
    That was around 1977 or '78 from memory

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Grimwood

    No it still maintained the floor ect.


    Incorrect Mr Grimwood. Graeme's original 'Wild Wheels' space frame Charger Sports Sedan had its floor removed in 1975
    It was built as a full space frame without a floor.
    The only original Charger sheet metal retained roof, A B and C pillars, front windscreen cowl, partial firewall, partial sills, partial rear guards, partial rear panel.
    Definitely no floor, no front rails, no rear rails.
    Full space frame, centre section of seamless hydraulic tube, front clip of ERW tube, rear clip seamless hydraulic tube, removable body panel support gantries ERW tube.
    Used 3 alloy plates to reduce front to rear racking of space frame - 2 of these plates were motor plates, the 3rd was a diaphragm brace in the lower section of the main B pillar hoop.
    This work pre-dates the Willis Commodore by more than 8 years. I have pics if needed.
    Last edited by THEDROPSHOP; 03-30-2016 at 04:05 AM.

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by khyndart in CA View Post
    Rod,
    I wish I had known you when you here in the Santa Barbara area. I think you were at the Corvette place by the freeway near Carpinteria, would that be correct ? Anyway great stories of your adventures in the US. Thanks for sharing. You also came across Spinner sorting through "stuff" here also !
    "Paton & Black" engines;
    I may have mentioned this before but when Spinner was a lad at Kiwitahi he sold my sister a horse (It probably wasn't his to sell !)
    When Annette got it home it was so frisky she couldn't get a saddle on so she gave it back to (Spencer) and got her money back. The next day,(Wilbur) the horse broke out from the Black's paddock and walked / trotted the 3 miles down the road to our house. I think we kept the Wilbur and never gave "Spin" any money for the horse ! So our families go back a long way..I think they were about 12 at the time, so that is over 60 years ago.
    I used to play bare foot footy with John Paton when we were lads and his sister married my best friend.
    So when I saw this on the Willis car, it brought back many memories even though we are many miles apart.
    See Rod you did not know your writings and photos would have such an effect on someone.. well done.
    Attachment 34338


    (Ken Hyndman )
    Ken I was not on this trip, but just thought it was good idea to 'Fleece a bit of history from the boys'

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbanger View Post
    Yeah right, so you are saying '2 door' cars like Ian Algie's Alfetta, Wayne Huxford's Capri, Graeme Addis' Charger and Barry Algie's Monaro and a host of others were not 'Sports Sedans' and ineligible for NI Sports Sedan Association events? Tui billboard time.
    Big Banger sorry but you got it wrong, and missing the whole thing.

    Big Banger, thanks for your input, and I think we all actually do know about the PDL11, Hey no one said any thing about those cars you have mentioned not being Sports Sedans, because they were. As you mentioned the PDL11 was a few years before in NZ motorsport and never was a Sports Sedan , and sorry Jims Falcon was a Aussie version and never ran in NZ Sports Sedans. Sorry buddy but it was before Sports Sedans became a class, the class became may be because MANZ squashed the 'other class'
    Also PDL11 did not run as 'Sports Sedan' in Aussie either, as it was not accepted and ran as invitation.

    And sorry but I do not want be getting into a shit fight but just trying to bring a bit of 'History out' in regard to part of Sport Sedan Association history, North Island, You had OSCA, South Island, which to credit still runs and is awesome.

    And talking of history 7 Litres ring a bell.

    Any way sorry I got bit pissed off, but did feel there would be some one too F*%k a good ole story, so that be it.

    yea we need to get it right, but for F*^k sake there is life north of cook strait.

    Sports Sedans Association was formed after the others and MANZ F&%ked it and needed somewhere to race their 'different' cars, and Bay Park took it on (with severe hassle from MANZ) but they stuck with it and along with Taupo (new then) Car Club and Sports Sedan members becoming members of Taupo Club and Auckland and running at club meetings which quickly became big meetings.

    Sorry no shit fight intended, but horse's for coarse's. I love the PDL11 and more so the original car as it progressed through life.
    Last edited by Rod Grimwood; 03-30-2018 at 07:47 PM.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by THEDROPSHOP View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey

    Wouldn't the Graeme Addis charger be the first space frame sports sedan built ?
    That was around 1977 or '78 from memory

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Grimwood

    No it still maintained the floor ect.


    Incorrect Mr Grimwood. Graeme's original 'Wild Wheels' space frame Charger Sports Sedan had its floor removed in 1975
    It was built as a full space frame without a floor.
    The only original Charger sheet metal retained – roof, A B and C pillars, front windscreen cowl, partial firewall, partial sills, partial rear guards, partial rear panel.
    Definitely no floor, no front rails, no rear rails.
    Full space frame, centre section of seamless hydraulic tube, front clip of ERW tube, rear clip seamless hydraulic tube, removable body panel support gantries ERW tube.
    Used 3 alloy plates to reduce front to rear racking of space frame - 2 of these plates were motor plates, the 3rd was a diaphragm brace in the lower section of the main B pillar hoop.
    This work pre-dates the Willis Commodore by more than 8 years. I have pics if needed.
    Sorry guys. but it started as a ?
    Then modified as you quote, and had.
    "The only original Charger sheet metal retained – roof, A B and C pillars, front windscreen cowl, partial firewall, partial sills, partial rear guards, partial rear panel."

    I am trying to just do a bit of history on a car, and it never had any of the original, so were are we.
    Graeme's was a time changer in our sport but started life as a car.
    Do we understand.
    PS I love the car, and it's owner/driver is a good bugger as well.

    Sorry Thedropshop,
    Last edited by Rod Grimwood; 04-10-2016 at 12:05 AM.

  6. #46
    Now you can all get into it as I am off fishing tomorrow until Sunday, please do not put too many tricky bits on, as I may be tired on Monday and grumpy.

    PS good to have at least got the memories working, 100dreds of cars and 1000s of people involved over the years and maybe you can all do a thread on your experiences and cars etc. Long time dead guy's, don't take them with you (some parts you can take with you OK) share those stories and bits and pieces, (even if bullshit/not quite right) it is ' OUR HISTORY OUR SPORT, AND PASSION'

    See you all next week
    Last edited by Rod Grimwood; 03-30-2016 at 10:14 AM.

  7. #47
    Good Grief!! Bigbanger, you guys are picking holes in F#$K All. and in the process wrecked what was a great story.

  8. #48
    Nothing wrong Rod with telling the story of the Willis contribution to our sport and I for one enjoyed the story to date, but the fact remains the Willis Commodore was not the '1st Full Space Frame Sports Sedan' and entitling your story as that will bring out those who will point out the facts concerning the PDL Mustang II and the Addis Charger pre dating it.

    If I can address you other comments;

    You wrote ' Hey no one said any thing about those cars you have mentioned not being Sports Sedans, because they were.' I was replying to John McKechnie who wrote to the effect to be a sedan as in sports sedan, the car had to have 4 doors (Commodore) which obviously is not correct. Hence my examples of 2 door sports sedans.

    You wrote 'the PDL11 was a few years before in NZ motorsport and never was a Sports Sedan , and sorry Jims Falcon was a Aussie version and never ran in NZ Sports Sedans.' To have been a 'sports sedan' it's not necessary for a car to have competed in a NI Sports Sedan Association race, the term was not nomenclature specific only to the SSA and the term was widely used in the post 6 litre (yes it was 6 litre) Shellsport days in the late 1970's and early 1980s. This includes the period when the PDL 2 ran in several races against both local and visiting Australian cars (including the NZ (Murray Bunn) built Big M Falcon of Jim Richards at Baypark etc.

    But please continue with the story, I'm interested in hearing more on the Willis MX6 Chev and later.

    BB

  9. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by rogered View Post
    Good Grief!! Bigbanger, you guys are picking holes in F#$K All. and in the process wrecked what was a great story.
    The facts or a 'good story' - you choose?

  10. #50
    Damn. I was really enjoying the story on this car, and the innovate guys who built it. I'm just old enough to remember most of the late 70's / early 80's Sport Sedan cars.

    I appreciate that aspects of the stories thread title may not be historically accurate to some, but come on, Mr Grimwood has taken the time to post photos and a write a story about a car and adventures of a bunch of young fellas who were out there doing it.

    Trainspotting's great if that's what your into.

    Give the man some credit.

  11. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Habu View Post
    Damn. I was really enjoying the story on this car, and the innovate guys who built it. I'm just old enough to remember most of the late 70's / early 80's Sport Sedan cars.

    I appreciate that aspects of the stories thread title may not be historically accurate to some, but come on, Mr Grimwood has taken the time to post photos and a write a story about a car and adventures of a bunch of young fellas who were out there doing it.

    Trainspotting's great if that's what your into.

    Give the man some credit.
    I can't see where anyone has knocked Rod personally on this thread, and nor can I see any failure to give credit for the story.

    However for the sake of historical accuracy, there really should not be an issue where people (as several have) point out factual errors.

    Sometimes people like yourself Habu may effectively say 'never let the facts get in the way of a good story', but given that internet postings live into the future and may be treated as fact when they actually are not, there's a good reason for others to raise the issue of the factual error.

    My understanding is that Rod will continue with his story on the Willis' exploits and I'm sure we're looking forward to that

  12. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbanger View Post
    I can't see where anyone has knocked Rod personally on this thread, and nor can I see any failure to give credit for the story.

    However for the sake of historical accuracy, there really should not be an issue where people (as several have) point out factual errors.

    Sometimes people like yourself Habu may effectively say 'never let the facts get in the way of a good story', but given that internet postings live into the future and may be treated as fact when they actually are not, there's a good reason for others to raise the issue of the factual error.

    My understanding is that Rod will continue with his story on the Willis' exploits and I'm sure we're looking forward to that
    The intention of my post was merely to acknowledge that someone has bothered to take the time to write an article, I enjoy accuracy as much as the next person. Pretty sure Chopper Read would have been impressed with your analogy of my interpretation of the story bigbanger.

    Looking forward to future instalments

  13. #53
    Er, OK, well this one has got a little side-tracked hasn't it. Its good to discuss the merits of ground breaking cars such as this, and I guess most of the above replies are correct in their own ways.

    To my way of thinking, the first space-frame sedans that raced in New Zealand were the Allan Moffat and Red Dawson DeKon Chevy Monza's. These were built in the US and arrived in NZ in late 1975.

    The first NZ built space-frame sedan would have been the PDL Mustang II, which first raced in late 1976. The Addis Charger would be next?

    Both the PDL II and Addis Charger utilized an original production body shell in which all the not-required sheet metal was cut away and new fabricated fibreglass panels purpose built as replacements.

    From reading Rod's early posts, the Willis Commodore was the first NZ built space-frame car to use a completely fabricated body shell. So all the fore-mentioned cars are really pretty ground breaking in their own way.

    Anyway, keep the pics and info coming Rod. This is a great thread.

  14. #54
    Just received some more photos and info so more shortly.

  15. #55
    I have changed a couple of bits in earlier posts, I did not really check spell etc.

    Ok, I am relaxed,(kind of so don't annoy me) after being bashed around on the sea for couple of days.

    A bit of history on the Trans Am that Brett bought.
    A lot of this was not discovered until after the trip.

    Part of recollection from Ralph, this from a note he wrote for John Telfor who has Ralphs old Mazda RX7 explaining how it got to have the gear it has. this is another story for later:

    I (Ralph) went over with Brett as his mechanic and we travelled around the USA and Canada in an old Ford van and open trailer (we lived out of the van and meet other racers all over the country that we stayed with and rebuilt the car for upcoming meetings, a real budget deal, and quite a story as everything we owned was on the trailer behind us) This Camaro was quite famous in itself (although we only realized it years later after we had cannibalised it)
    It won the 1984 trans Am series with David Hobbs driving. It was car number 28 of a 2 car team owned by Portland Industrialist De Atley and sponsored by Budweiser beer in USA.
    This Camaro Trans Am was based around a Stock Car Products road race chassis from Santa Fe Springs n California. it had coil over suspension all round with 3 link quick change rear end, non-power assist rack and pins steering, front and rear anti-roll bars and a rear watt linkage that was attached around the differential pinion snout.

    Another note on car, this from Ralphs diary notes dated 1 January 1986 and also includes the Fischer Engine data.
    1984 Chevrolet Camaro, originally built & run by De Atley with Chevrolet factory backing. In year Brett bought car it was reskinned by Bob Brewer with 1986 panels developed by Proto Fab Moulds available thru Fischer Engineering.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Rod Grimwood; 06-10-2016 at 10:42 PM.

  16. #56
    The guys travelled to Memphis and made camp in an unused shed and finished off final preparations for the 1st meeting.
    This was exciting time and when they arrived at the Memphis track there were all these big trucks and trailers and huge marques erected around the pit area. They spotted a pole with a water tap on it away in the corner away from were all the others were set up and thought well water that's handy for us, we will set up there.
    They attracted a little attention (looks of what the f%#k we got here) and were not overwhelmed with autograph hunters or photographers (David Attenborough was busy elsewhere).
    They settled in and erected the hospitality/pit/accomodation tent and then set about final prep of car.
    Well that night they discovered why no one was set up near the 'water tap' as they were lucky to survive the night when the mosquitos came to visit. Next morning was shift.

    There was a couple of switchs on dash that attracted attention, and were never used.

    Well in a field of 40 cars and never having seen the track let alone drive around it Brett qualified in the 30s and remember he was up against the best from those days and budgets a lot different to baked beans and bread.
    1st race and a finish of 21st, not too shoddy for starters. 2nd race 16th so a few were kind of taking a little interest and they started to meet a few people. The Americans could not believe that they had driven all the way in the van and trailer and the tent and van was home between some empty sheds etc.
    Accomodation/sleeping quarters was to become a bit of humour in some places.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Last edited by Rod Grimwood; 04-10-2016 at 05:28 AM.

  17. #57
    Next meeting was 2 weeks later and way on up too Mosport. Canada.

    It was along haul and in between this the guys pulled the car apart, checked it over and replaced little things, did a couple of adjustments and banged her back together.
    Well when they arrived at Mosport there were the familiar looks from some but a few waves from others who made themselves known at 1st meeting in Memphis and they were impressed that the team had made it all the way to Mosport.
    Pity the weather was not as kind, as after the effort to get there it poured with rain 1st day and then rained for the next 2 days of practice and qualifying. Well what do you do when you have no wet weather tyres, of coarse just sit in van and tent and wait, and eventually give up and resort to a quite beer.

    Well race day was drizzly and the track still wet/damp but not saturated. Brett had not done a single lap around the track in a car and was allowed to start off the rear of the grid. This was on slicks and had people looking. Well after the race which was 40 laps long and he came in 10th, the Ford and Chevrolet Teams stood at the pit apron and applauded him into the pits. He also had a standing ovation from the stands and others along the pit wall. Not bad for the trailer boy's.
    Well of coarse this did change attitudes to the NZ guys and they made a lot of friends as time went on. The US teams did not underestimate them and helped with workshops and other assistance over the next couple of months.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by Rod Grimwood; 04-10-2016 at 01:28 AM.

  18. #58
    Couple more photos, of how it was when it rained and the Camaro coming down the hill/straight that leads onto the main straight at Mosport.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  19. #59

  20. #60
    Off this weekend with boys to Hampton to give the Can Am Lola sports car a run, so hopefully will sort out a bit more to add to what I have. Been busy and it is not going to slow as off to Barbagello with F5000 mid Oct and then 2 weeks later Sandown. So story will be on back burner. There is a lot of history in the parts that came from the Camaro.

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