FLY­ING W HITS THE TRACK

Unique Cars - - NEWS -

ECHUNGA SOUTH Aus­tralia -based his­toric racer Eric Cos­sich is tack ling his fourt h His­toric Win­ton t his May, adding colour to the event with his Fly ing W Wolse­ley Spe­cia l Num­ber 10.

Grow­ing up on cat­tle and sheep sta­tions, Eric Cos­sich be­came ob­sessed with cars from a young age and his early ex­pe­ri­ences and love for cars led him to ta ke on re­build­ing t he 1955 Fly ing W.

Eric is pas­sion­ate about his­toric car rac­ing not only for him­self but t he gen­er­a­tions to fol­low.

“We need more young peo­ple in­volved and be­hind t he his­toric car scene now more t han ever, so t hat it con­tin­ues,” he said.

“I be­lieve you have not lived un­til you’ve driven an his­toric race car – as a guy once said to me – “t wo ways you dif­fer from Fan­gio: 1 - you have fire­proof un­der wear. 2 - t here’s sk id­marks in them!”

The re­build was com­pleted four years ago and Eric said, “The car per­forms in­cred­i­bly well and is ver y re­li­able wit h no me­chan­i­cal is­sues. It’s a credit to t he Fech­ner Bros and Hen­der­son who built/ de­signed t he orig­i­nal car.”

The Fly ing W stor y be­gins in 1945 at the end of WWII. Af­ter watch­ing t heir first car race at Bris­bane’s Strat hpine Airstrip, brot hers Rob & Brian Fech­ner and their friend Len Hen­der­son, be­gan a life-long love of cars.

At the 1954 Bris­bane EKK A show t he trio spot­ted a 6/80 Wolse­ley mo­tor mounted on a stand. Ad­mir­ing it they won­dered how they could beat loca l race aces, Gly n Scott and Wal An­der­son in their new Holden-pow­ered spe­cia ls.

By July 1954, plans for a new car had been drawn and work be­gan.

A model T Ford chas­sis was the base, mar­ried to a Lan­cia Lambda front end and dif fer­en­tia l, mounted v ia 1 ⁄4 el­lipt ic springs and their own de­sign sus­pen­sion arms. Next the Singer 9 gear­box was in­sta lled.

Len heard about a Wolse­ley 6/80 en­gine for sa le at a Sal­is­bur y firm. The stor y goes a loco en­gine was dropped on the Wolse­ley and the en­gine was sa lvaged from the wreck­age. Al­though it was new, it was miss­ing t he dis­trib­u­tor, man­i­fold, fan and clutch but could be bought for 50 pounds. The three couldn’t hand over their money fast enough.

The Fly ing W’s body was made of 3 ⁄4” x 1/8” flat steel, ham­mered to shape, onto which sheet alu­minium was riv­eted. As the body was fit­ted and t he grille bolted in place it was sug­gested a W for Wolse­ley should adorn t he front. Then a friend sug­gested turn­ing t he winged ‘M’ on his Match­less mo­tor­cy­cle up­side down. A vari­a­tion of t he ‘M’ was cre­ated and t he ‘Fly ing W’ of the Wolse­ley Spe­cia l Num­ber 10 was born.

It took seven months and 250 pounds to make.

In 1955 it com­peted suc­cessf ully at sev­era l events and in May 1956 it took the sta r ter's flag for t he last t ime, at t he Burleigh Hill Climb with Len Hen­der­son in the driver’s seat, cla im­ing t he sec­ond fastest time in t he Un­lim­ited Rac­ing Car Class and beat­ing t he likes of MG, Jaguar and Alfa Romeo.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from com­pe­ti­tion, t he Fly ing W was cut up and the back end used for a wa­ter­ing pump.

Over 10 years ago Eric con­tacted the Wolse­ley Car Club who put him in touch wit h Queens­lan­der Bill Martin who had the orig­i­nal en­gine. Eric t hen ap­plied to CAMS for an Ap­pli­ca­tion in Prin­ci­ple to re­build t he car. Eric ac­cu­mu­lated a ll t he pieces for t he t ribute, re­built t he en­gine, us­ing t he orig­i­nal Wolse­ley dash gauges, (small rec­tan­gu­lar cream face), and 16-inch bra ke drums, be­lieved to have come from the orig­i­nal Maybach.

The His­toric Win­ton meet­ing runs over the weekend of May 26-28 and will fea­ture a dis­play of more than 2000 rare and re­stored ve­hi­cles.

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