Reader Geoff Chawner of Ipswich sent in some photos of his 1960s model of a Lotus Cortina in the famous blue and white colours of the Neptune Racing Team. The #3 Cortina was driven by Jim McKeown in the Improved Production category.
Geoff picked up this model about 15 years and it’s now a highlight of his model car collection. He says it’s based on a friction-drive plastic model made in Hong Kong, not made to any particular scale. He thinks it was a promotional giveaway, possibly available from Neptune petrol stations in the mid-1960s. We’ve never seen one before.
The Neptune team’s race colours are supposedly the reverse of the Shelby Ford design used on Cobras and Mustangs.
He’s seen a similar model of the Neptune Team Mini Cooper S, as driven by Peter Manton, which makes you wonder if there was also one of the third car in the team, Norm Beechey’s Ford Mustang?
Beechey initially drove a Holden EH S4 in Team Neptune colours before upgrading to the more memorable Mustang, winner of the 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship.
Neptune was a local brand of petrol, bought out by Shell, which continued to operate independently until 1969. Their logo was King Neptune holding a trident, so in an era when corporate sponsorship wasn’t allowed they stretched the rules and ran as Team Trident. Red and white Trident bumper stickers were given away at Neptune petrol stations and were often seen seen stuck on road cars or, in my case, on my skateboard.
Those who like this car can also buy the more recent die-cast model made in 1:18 scale by Biante. The Biante website says they have sold out of the Cortina although they turn up sometimes on eBay, priced at around the $200 mark. Die-cast models of the Beechey Mustang and EH Holden have also been produced.