The fate of #13C and its mates
Our twin focuses this issue on Bob Holden and the 50th anniversary of the Morris Cooper S’s Gallaher 500 triumph just begs the question: what became of the 1966 race’s winning chassis? Sadly, the answer is not good. The car was stolen not long after its second Bathurst 500 campaign and never recovered.
The ’66 race winner, bearing NSW registration plates EFK 167, was sold on behalf of BMC by none other than Bob Holden himself post-race. One of the conditions of the sale was that it couldn’t remain Castrol green, as per the works’ cars, so it was painted white.
“One of my customers ended up with the Bathurst winner,” Holden explains. “John Millyard raced the (white #45C) Mini at Bathurst the following year with Andy Frankel, who was one of George Shepheard’s guys and ran my office.”
Millyard and Frankel finished 12th outright in the 1967 Gallaher 500 in the ’66 winning chassis, performing well but delayed when the crew changed the wheel studs as a precaution after other Minis experienced problems. The best of the Cooper S entries was Holden and Tony Fall in fifth place, behind a pair of XR Falcon GTs and two Alfa 1600 GTVs.
“John Millyard was a muso who played at a nightspot in Martin Place (in Sydney’s CBD),” Bob Holden continues, “and one night the Mini was stolen from outside the venue and he got the insurance money.” Goneski! Intriguingly, we have heard rumours from elsewhere of a red Mini that raced at Oran Park in the late 1960s, and which came to grief exposing white paintwork underneath the red! And, so the story goes, Castrol green paint under the white!
While this got tongues wagging, we must stress this story is impossible to verify – just as any chassis that popped up today purported to be the ’66 winner would be. But what of the other super Coopers in the race, including the cars that finished second through ninth? Incredibly, none of the 16 class A Minis that came under starters’ orders on October 2, 1966 is known to have survived. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
The fact that these were standard production vehicles, mostly road-registered and run by privateers, meant their fates were mostly sealed on public roads. Perhaps one or two have been squirreled away in garages or sheds and will re-appear as long-time owners pass on and their families offload them.
While cars from the Mini’s signature Bathurst year remain MIA, one significant Bathurst Cooper S has re-emerged in recent years. The sole surviving works entry from BMC’s trio of Bathurst 500 assaults (1965-67), driven to eighth place in 1967 by Irishman Paddy Hopkirk and Aussie Brian Foley, has survived. This car was purchased by Chris and Irene Hannan in 1975 and used as a daily driver until the early 1980s when it was retired to a dirt-floor shed on their NSW North Coast property. Affectionately known to them as ‘Paddy’, due to the Hopkirk connection, this Cooper S spent some 25 years in the shed, until the current owners were able to acquire the car and set about its restoration to its Castrol green colours. While Paddy had been the source of many meals for rats over the years his identification plate was still on the car.
Paddy (#28C) was displayed at Bathurst 2016 alongside a group of humble Minis dressed up to look like the (MIA) Cooper Ss that finished first through ninth in ’66. It was a nice salute to Mini’s most famous feat a half-century ago. The dressup efforts had AMC wondering what became of those 16 chassis from the ’66 Gallaher 500. It would be good to know which chassis are known to have been written-off and which ones might still be out there awaiting rescue.
Black-and-white images of those top nine finishers from Bathurst 1966 are displayed down the left-hand side of page 78.
Whaddayaknow? Contact us via email@example.com