The fate of #13C and its mates

Australian Muscle Car - - Whaddayaknow? -

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.

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