Tak­ing a back seat

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle man -


Fer­gu­son’s first event was in a Citroen Light 15 in 1953 sit­ting in the back seat as the team’s gate opener!

Af­ter a few events he started nav­i­gat­ing for Stan Ou­ton in a Peu­geot 203. But young Barry was keen to drive and was us­ing a Fiat 1100 in gymkhanas, hill­climbs and some lo­cal club tri­als.

He soon re­alised that VWs had some in­trin­sic ad­van­tages in ral­lies and bought a new 1200cc Bee­tle in Jan­uary 1958 from Lanock Mo­tors to do just that.

The NSW Rally Cham­pi­onship started in 1960 and Barry won his first in 1961 with Tony Den­ham in the Bee­tle. As a re­sult Lanocks agreed to give Barry a new Bee­tle to rally in ’62.

“Doug Don­ald­son the MD at Lanock was in­ter­ested in mo­tor­sport and de­cided it was a good idea to give us a car to run each year,” said Barry. The back­ing meant he never had to pay for his ral­ly­ing again.

“I could pre­pare the car in a week­end at my Dad’s in Goul­burn. You’d put a pair of rear shocks on the front, upgrade the headlights from 36 to 40watt, fit a skid plate, re­move the hub­caps and block the brake ad­just­ing holes,” he ex­plained.

Liv­ing in New­cas­tle he met Ron Thomp­son who was a me­chanic and auto elec­tri­cian in his fam­ily busi­ness, C.W. Thomp­son and who would be im­por­tant in those early VW years.

“Ron gave us some real ad­van­tages in those early VWs,” said Barry. “He con­verted our ’61 VW from six-volt to 12-volt and made it work, leav­ing the starter mo­tor at six volts so you only had to touch the key and the car would start, while six­volt cars would crank away and even­tu­ally fire.

“The big ad­van­tage was run­ning two driv­ing lights, shock­ing old Lu­cas Flamethrow­ers, ini­tially, but at least bet­ter than a sin­gle 36-watt which was all the six-volt cars could cope with.”

Al­though not a me­chanic Barry loved think­ing things through, look­ing for ways to im­prove the car. An ex­am­ple was in fix­ing a prob­lem with Bee­tle rear shock­ers pop­ping the rub­bers off the top mounts.

“I re­alised putting a big steel washer un­der the 17mm nut would solve it,” said Barry. “It was a small fix but meant we could press on while oth­ers had to stop to fix it,” he added.

“Ron also found a 12-volt air­craft land­ing light that he reck­oned would make a very good driv­ing light and he was right, they lit up the night and gave us an­other ad­van­tage over the op­po­si­tion.

An­other in­no­va­tion was a VW in­dus­trial en­gine that was be­ing used by Pi­o­neer Con­crete to power the ag­i­ta­tor on its ce­ment trucks. This ‘big block’ 1500 was a rev­e­la­tion of­fer­ing more torque and power.

VW Aus­tralia gave Barry a spe­cial twin-carb 1600cc Bee­tle to win the South­ern Cross in 1967, a grand fi­nale to his VW ca­reer.

Main: Barry Fer­gu­son was re­united with his old Bathurst 1966 Isuzu Bel­lett, now pre­served by Brett Wild, at the Phillip Is­land Clas­sic. More on this re­union next is­sue. Left: He caught the VW bug in ’58.

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