Back On Track

I bought the Broadspeed GTS just after the Mini 50 celebrations at Wakefield Park in 2011, after seeing it advertised for sale in the pages of The Mini Experience magazine. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it to Wakefield, due to work commitments, as I was very keen to see the car driven by Brian Foley and Laurie Stewart.

Initially I did not intend to restore it, but I had planned to try to use it in events like historic regularity and other displays.

Not long after I took delivery of the car I took it to a track day at Eastern Creek for the CAMS Foundation drive day, which is held once a year.

It was an incredibly wet day, but it was good to get in and take it for a spin on the track amongst some very flash and expensive machinery. I had fitted some road tyres, rather than the slicks, for the wet.

I was amazed at how many people came up to me to talk about the car. They either knew nothing about it and wanted to know what it was, or they could remember Foley and Stewart driving it in its hey-day.

Wanting to open it up on a dry track to see how it would run, I took it to Wakefield Park for a track day as well, but I was surprised at the lack of power. Even though it sounded pretty mean, it didn’t seem to have any more power than my standard road Cooper S. So I figured it was time to freshen up the engine, as I planned to keep driving it.

I started to do more research into the car and try to piece together the history of its time with Foley and Stewart and then what happened since they sold it in October 1967. Quite a bit of this detail had already been covered in The Mini Experience (Issue 12), but I started to work on digging up more info and talking to those people mentioned in the magazine who knew the car or had owned it.

A few bits of info started to come out of the woodwork and I started chasing up a few leads.

A motoring journalist, David Berthon, who I got to know quite well through one of our clients Neville Crichton, was very interested to hear about the Broadspeed when I told him I bought it, so wrote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

This article lead to Barry Dare, who owns the only other Australian-built Broadspeed GT known to still exist, contacting me. As it turned out, Barry had a heap of info on my Broadspeed and a few of the original parts, including the original engine block, the alloy finned tappet chest cover and the 2+2 badge from the rear of the car.

Barry was more than happy to reunite these parts with the car, and to share all the info and knowledge that he had collected on the Aussie Broadspeeds over the years.

Barry and his wife Rhonda come to visit their daughter and her family every Wednesday near my work, so Barry will often drop in with another piece of Broadspeed info or to have a look at the progress on my Broadspeed.

As it turned out Barry had bought his car from Bob Williamson, a former Mini racer and Buckle Coupe owner, who had at one stage owned both the Broadspeeds at the same time. Many of the parts that were left behind when he sold the GTS went with the GT when he sold it to Barry.

I contacted Bob Williamson, who also had a collection of motor sport memorabilia, and he was able to fill me in on his recollection of the car and help me out by providing magazines and race programs from its racing days. Bob even had the original receipt from when he bought it from Mainway Car Sales in Mudgee, NSW.

As I pieced together more of the original parts and more photos and info about the car when it raced in 1966 and ’67 I became motivated to do more than just freshen up the engine. I really wanted to get it as close to its original racing condition as possible.

The great thing about the car is that it is so recognisable, and so distinctive, that you cant mistake it for another car when tracking down photos, articles and stories from the period. It proved to be a very exciting trail of discovery.

Having spoken to most of the previous owners who I could track down, I decided to take the car up to see Ron Williams in Tenterfield, who had done the previous restoration on it before he sold it to Paul Skinner of the Mini Car Clinic in Sydney.

Ron and his wife Val had vivid recollections of the car and were able to help with some photos and stories from when they restored it. Interestingly, Ron pointed out that he recalled the original Castrol green was still on the shell under the rear subframe. He had not liked the original colour, feeling it was too dark, so had painted it a much lighter, later version of Castrol Green.

I attempted to find any evidence of the original colour without removing the subframe but it had all been painted with flat black under-body paint

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The BMC Experience Issue 21. Apr-Jun 2017 Magazine


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