It went out in a blaze of glory...

Australian Muscle Car - - Whaddayaknow? -

W ay back in 2016’s is­sue #91 we cov­ered the Aus­tralian-built Mor­ris Cooper S in great de­tail, from the road cars to the boys in blue and, of course, the mighty Mini’s giant-killing rac­ing ex­ploits in the 1966 Bathurst 500.

In that is­sue’s Whad­daya­know sec­tion we pon­dered the fate of the win­ning Bob Holden/ Rauno Aal­to­nen #13C Cooper S, as well as the other eight Cooper S en­tries that nished sec­ond through to ninth. Sadly, not one of those nine cars is known to have sur­vived. And that lat­est re­quest for info, not sur­pris­ingly, drew a com­plete blank.

Thus, some two years later we are no closer to nd­ing one of the magni cent nine from ’66. Yet at least we can re­port on the spec­tac­u­lar demise of one of th­ese su­per Coop­ers – the #16C car raced by Barry Arentz and Barry Se­ton that nished ninth. It’s a car that com­peted in two vastly dif­fer­ent leg­endary mo­tor­sports events on con­sec­u­tive week­ends.

Is­sue #102 out­lined North­ern NSW-based Arentz’s rac­ing ca­reer. It told of the suc­ces­sion of Fords he drove through the 1960s as his fa­ther Martin sold the brand through his deal­er­ship, En­ter­prise Auto Ser­vice, in Casino. Barry had starred in a Ford Cortina GT on both the 1964 Am­pol Trial and the 1965 Bathurst 500, im­press­ing one Harry Firth. How­ever, the 1966 Bathurst 500 would be a Ford-free race, at least for outright hon­ours. To stay in the game Arentz needed to nd a dif­fer­ent ride.

“I bought a sec­ond-hand Bri­tish Rac­ing Green Cooper S from the Casino BMC dealer in early 1966,” re­calls Arentz to­day. “It was my daily driver, but I raced it con­sis­tently up at Lake­side and Surfers Par­adise as well as hill­climbs and sprints. It was very suc­cess­ful.

“I was friendly with (’65 Bathurst win­ner) Bo Se­ton and, one day, he sug­gested we run the Mini at Bathurst. I thought, ‘What a great idea!’, so we did.”

The Arentz Cooper S was ‘pre­pared’ by a lo­cal Casino me­chanic and then driven to Bathurst for the big race. Prob­lems started in prac­tice with a strange noise from the rear of the Mini.

“I was com­plain­ing about a thump in the back dur­ing prac­tice,” Arentz re­calls. “Some­one left a tool­box in the boot, which punc­tured a hole in one of the fuel tanks!”

The hole was patched overnight and the Arentz Cooper S started the race run­ning com­fort­ably with a pack of swarm­ing Minis in the top ten. Manic slip­stream­ing down Con­rod was a feature of the race and it caught out a num­ber of Minis, in­clud­ing Arentz’s, which over­heated badly.

“I didn’t quite make it to the top of the moun­tain and it all but seized. I ac­costed some ag mar­shals and conned them in giv­ing me all the ice and wa­ter out of their es­kies and packed that around the en­gine and waited a few min­utes for it to cool be­fore it red up and we got it back to the pits. We lled it up with wa­ter and some ad­di­tives that xed the leak­ing head gas­ket. We must have lost over 10 min­utes.”

De­spite the set­back, two Bar­rys nished ninth outright com­plet­ing 125 laps.

The fol­low­ing week Arentz teamed up with good mate and Am­pol Trial nav­i­ga­tor Ge­off Stock and en­tered the in­au­gu­ral South­ern Cross Rally.

“That was a non-event,” re­mem­bers Arentz. “The Cooper S wasn’t a good rally car. It was too low and frag­ile. It didn’t take us long to re­alise we would de­stroy the car if we con­tin­ued, so we re­tired.”

A year later that punc­tured fuel tank from Bathurst would come back to haunt Barry.

“We took the Mini to a gymkhana at Lis­more it late 1967 or early 1968, I can’t re­mem­ber. We had a pic­nic bas­ket in the boot which fell over and a fork fell out. One end of the fork touched the bat­tery and the prong touched the sol­der on the re­paired fuel tank. The hot fork melted the sol­der, fuel ran out and it ig­nited. I tried to drive it down to a creek, but I got out of it and it ex­ploded. Friends fol­low­ing me tried to put it out with blan­kets. I got quite badly burnt and ended up in hospi­tal. It burnt to the ground. “It made the front page of Bris­bane’s Courier

Mail news­pa­per the next day. The worst part was that I had just sold the Cooper S to a guy in Bris­bane. I had to call him and tell him he couldn’t buy it be­cause I’d just burnt it.” Paul Newby

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.