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Thread: RA3, The "other Lycoming"

  1. #1

    RA3, The "other Lycoming"

    As I have somewhat of a passion for the above car, which like many specials of the postwar period has had a few names, I have decided for my own enjoyment to try to straighten some of it's tangled history.
    I have also posted on the 2 major NZ Racing sites on that "other social media" for Old NZ Motor Racing, and New Zealand built Racing Cars, however, anything folks have to offer, personal stories, photos and such would be great.
    So far I have the Hec Green story from Classic Car, and articles from Classic Driver, some of Hec Green's memories and of course there is the Vercoe to consider.
    I'll keep posting as I go. Photos are popping in all sorts of places.
    Just to remind folks the car, here is a pic taken by Steve Ritchie at Leadfoot.Name:  Lycoming Rhys shunk.jpg
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  2. #2
    World Champion ERC's Avatar
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    For your collection Rhys:


    Name:  215_0314_146 Lycoming.JPG
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    Name:  215_0407_58 Lycoming.JPG
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    Name:  215_0407_59 Lycoming.JPG
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  3. #3
    World Champion Roger Dowding's Avatar
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    The Graham Vercoe image from his book

    Pages from the book P246 and 247 detailing the RA3 and the RA4 [ RA Vanguard ].
    This photo is attributed to Herb Gilroy.

    Name:  Motoring Books #059 RA3 article Historic NZ Racing Cars P247 book sml Graham Vercoe (666x700) (2.jpg
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    crop of the photo;

    Name:  Motoring Books #058 RA3 Dunedin 1953 sml Graham Vercoe book P247  (2).jpg
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    Seen before I am sure Rhys..

  4. #4
    A few shots taken at the Hamilton Museum in December 2014.

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  5. #5
    Sometime in I think 1969, the old man and I had been to a meeting where the old race cars had come out to play. It looked like fun so once home we pulled out some old Wigram programmes and started working out what cars were where - and what may be available.
    Dad - Wally Thomas - had been a founder member of the MRC and had been involved in a lot of other stuff around Canterbury so knew a few people. Once we'd eliminated our first picks he remembered Duncan Rutherford and his Lycoming. We rang him then and there.
    His first reaction - after the usual haven't seen you for etc... was " i'm not finished developing it ! I've bought a Jag independent rear end I want to fit.
    This reaction is of course usual with special builders - they're never finished.
    Anyway, we succeeded in securing first option on it. Sadly never confirmed this in writing.

    Life and Motorcycle racing got in the way for the next few years and it was largely forgotten.

    About 2 years later dad had been in to see Hec Green and came home saying I'd been offered the bare chassis of the car Hec and his son Murray had built. Apparently a Lotus 7 style road/track car - which the old man said took BMC A series bits.
    I'd just bought a Manx Norton and couldn't afford to go down the debt rabbithole any further so had to decline the offer. I've kicked myself many times since as i believe it went to the dump.
    I note that several sources say it was Fiat based. Can anyone confirm this as we were told A series.

    Greg Thomas - new member

  6. #6
    Hi Greg, the RA3 (Lycoming) and the A series based cars are 2 different ones. The one I am researching is Fiat based, even has the original Fiat 508 (1938) chassis in there. The A series car I believe, as you say was pretty ground up build with BMC bits.
    FWIW many people were "If I decide to sell you have first option".
    Last edited by Oldfart; 02-13-2022 at 01:07 PM.

  7. #7
    Thanks Roger, yes I have seen that, discarded my copy of the book before migrating. Useful to add to what I have. I'm sure there must be more photos of the car in this guise!

  8. #8
    Thanks Milan for the photos.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfart View Post
    Hi Greg, the RA3 (Lycoming) and the A series based cars are 2 different ones. The one I am researching is Fiat based, even has the original Fiat 508 (1938) chassis in there. The A series car I believe, as you say was pretty ground up build with BMC bits.
    FWIW many people were "If I decide to sell you have first option".
    Some time after Duncan's death some of his stuff appeared at a Canterbury VCC sweap meet. A midget chassis amongst other things I remember. It was educational listening to the stories of attempts to buy stuff off him while he was alive. Our story was just another in the series.

  10. #10
    Name:  RA DONE 002 (Small).JPG
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    and the small"one

  11. #11
    World Champion Roger Dowding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldfart View Post
    Thanks Roger, yes I have seen that, discarded my copy of the book before migrating. Useful to add to what I have. I'm sure there must be more photos of the car in this guise!
    Am sure have seen it with the decorated nose, think the " flames " were Red, must look through my stuff..
    Cheers
    Rhys,

    Roger

  12. #12
    World Champion Roger Dowding's Avatar
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    RA3, Fiat Chevroilet Lycoming

    " Oldfart " has seen these images putting them here for others to see;

    Article on Hec Green and his RA cars are in the NZ Classic Car - Limited Edition Collector Series Volume 11, Issue #5
    Volume 1 Issue #2 had the Ron Roycroft story amongst others;


    A photo from the Scott Thomson Book " Up to Speed " of the RA Lycoming with Duncan Rutherford at the wheel.
    The Hairpin at Dunedin in 1957.
    Interesting is the "Stringer " mentioned in the Dunedin 1957 photo is in the Jack Brabham Cooper Sports Car, has successfully raced a Porsche 356 in 1956 -57 competing against the Austin Healey cars of John Seabrook 100M and Ross Jensen 100S. see on the AH Thread- to be posted.

    Name:  RA Cars Hec Green #011 RA3 Lycoming Dunedin 1957 Duncan Rutherford sml Up To Speed book  2022013.jpg
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    Cover of the Book Volume 11

    Name:  Motoring Books #0004 NZ Classic Car - Classic Kiwi Motorsport Vol 11 sml IMG_20220126_172937 (3).jpg
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    Another photo of the RA from Russ Haines archives - just found this one

    Name:  RA Cars Hec Green #014 1953 Hec Green RA3 Chevy 6 Rakaia Domain Russ Haines  (800x600) (3).jpg
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  13. #13
    In the company of a couple of thoroughbreds at a Canterbury Car Club Sprint at Ashburton in early 1959.

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  14. #14
    Thanks Milan, that is a help with having some dates when it's known to have the Lycoming.
    I have just gone back and read the Vercoe piece. As can be seen there are several inaccuracies. This car didn't have a Vauxhall, nor was there an 850cc Fiat.
    GregT, according to Vercoe Errol Norris has the car you were looking for. Might be worth a call?
    Last edited by Oldfart; 02-13-2022 at 01:12 PM.

  15. #15
    I know Errol. AFAIK he has the last race car but not the road one Hec and Murray built. Next time I run into him I'll ask however.

  16. #16
    Thanks to Kelvin Brown who has sent me an article from when the car was near new. It's an extract from "Modern Motoring" and exceptionally helpful for information on the original build, and dispels a few more myths from "you know where".
    I now understand why the Chev motor was replaced by the original Fiat by Arthur Kennard. The motor had been more than breathed on by Hec!
    Last edited by Oldfart; 02-18-2022 at 11:35 AM.

  17. #17
    I'd love to see that. Any chance of a scan ? Fwiw, pretty well all Hec's cam profiles were based on the 500cc Speedway JAP. Cut and duration lengthened as required. For many years the problem with them was that all he could get for buildup material was wearbronze - which is not a long term cam material.

  18. #18
    Des Wild and the RA111 Greg, if you message me an email I can send them. They are too big for this site, but badly lose clarity when reduced.

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