Buchanan Racer, unfinished restoration for sale
Wal Mitchell's old Buchanan racecar is looking
for a new garage to call home. After languishing for many years, the
unfinished restoration is available for sale for $32,000. It's run a
number of engines over the years but started out as a MG "Y" type chassis
with body number 38. At one stage it was fitted with a Grey Holden 6
cylinder engine. Anybody looking for a historic racer would have a good
basis to start here.
According to the owner Matt: " The car is not
finished but we have all the major components including correct close
ratio gearbox and grey Holden "core engine". Fibreglass body work is 80%
complete, chassis is rolling. It has approval in principal from CAMS to be
certified for historic racing and just needs to be finished in the
selected race period and configuration. We have race records. Pictures and
history on this car and it's driver. $32000 AUD. For more info Please call
Matt 0434088757 Or email
HRG restoration Mike White, owner of the
only Buchanan in the UK, has been giving his HRG Godfrey Special a big
birthday. It's undergoing a restoration after years of hard use on the
hillclimbs. The gearbox and brakes have been rebuilt and a roll hoop
installed to protect the driver.
New Buchanan article published
have been a bit quiet in the Buchanan world of late. I've just had an
article published in the Aston Martin Owners Club Quarterly magazine that
has raised a few eyebrows. Seems very few Aston people knew of the
Buchanan and it's origins. The record has now been put straight! Read it
Summer 2013 3 pages - Fibreglass
Based on a 1948-51 Talbot
chassis; brakes, hubs and suspension are also Talbot sourced. It features
a bored out Holden Grey motor, triple SUs and a MG gearbox. Instruments
are fitted and working.
All that is needed is some
fettling to finish off the project and get another Buchanan back on the
road where it belongs.
MG needs a good home *****SOLD****
deliberation, Neil Marshall has decided to put his Buchanan up for sale.
"Too many toys, another son's wedding this year (one last year), helping
another son to buy a house, etc, etc, etc, etc."
The classic Aston Martin DB3S
body shape. One of only 72 known Buchanan bodies and only 20 being MG
This car has a complete MGA
chassis with period BMC engine, gearbox and running gear. The original
Buchanan body is complete and includes genuine Buchanan: detachable
hardtop, windscreen and seats. Other genuine Buchanan spares are included
with the car. These will not be sold separately.
Repco Holden Buchanan racer
John Marano contacted me
recently with more details of his dad's old Buchanan, the
"Godfrey Special" that now resides in the UK. It had been rebuilt in
1963 and also featured some unusual engine vents; additionally there had
never been confirmation it had a Repco head.
Re: the rebuild.
Apparently the subframe that held the front suspension was cracked and
moving around. Dad removed the body and had new and stronger subframe
fabricated and refitted. He rebuilt the engine at the same time.....rings,
bearings, etc. He actually did his mechanical apprenticeship at Holden way
back in the late '40's I think so he knew those old grey motors inside
The engine was already fitted with a Repco Hi-Power head when he bought
it. He sold the Buchanan to a car dealer friend in Brisbane called Blair
Shepard who was also a well known speedway racer but he on sold it to
someone out near Toowoomba we believe. We also heard that this fellow then
removed the Repco head and fitted it to a speedboat.....what a waste. I
was only 3 when this happened.....
As a note, he Always referred to the car as the Repco Holden rather than
Re: side vents.
They were also already fitted to the car before dad bought it but he was
never really sure why. He said that it was all open into the engine bay in
the area behind the vents and he could only guess that someone thought
cutting the vents in would allow the heat to escape easier and possibly
increase airflow and therefore aid in cooling.
Orange Austin A40 Buchanan
One of the great pleasure I get
from this site is when I hear back from current and past Buchanan owners,
There stories are very enlightening and help fill in some of the missing
histories on the cars. One such ex-owner is Colin Connaughton from Orange,
I'll let him tell the story:
... here are a couple of pictures for
your excellent website - brings back lots of memories ...
This car was built by Henry van Schaik of Orange NSW, probably in 1957
- I can only recall that Henry ordered the body soon after seeing a
magazine article about Buchanan bodies which featured a Buchanan MG TC -
possibly in Sports Car World. His car was built in the workshop of the VW
dealer in Orange, Norm Campbell, which was the meeting place for many of
the local road and race enthusiasts at the time. Paintwork was done by the
resident spray man, Ron Howarth.
I think the choice of an Austin A40 as a base was dictated more by cost
than any thought that it would be superior to a TC. Nonetheless, the car
was well finished, with dark green paintwork and a light tan hood, and the
A40 wheels had the usual pattern of holes painstakingly drilled in them,
though whether for lightness, brake cooling or appearance I'm not sure! As
I recall, the A40 chassis presented some problems in getting a low enough
floor line and seating position, and an additional "bump" was moulded into
the bonnet, alongside the standard air scoop, to give clearance for the
A40's downdraft carburettor. As the pictures show, it was road registered
in NSW as BJF 210.
The first picture shows a rear view of the car, taken in Lords Place,
Orange, opposite Robertson Park, but probably more importantly, outside
the Royal Hotel! Note that the original wire-spoked A40 steering wheel is
used. Also, it has what were called "winter tread" tyres on the rear -
many of the local roads were not tar sealed in those days.
The second picture shows the car competing in a hill climb run on the
property of local enthusiast Don(?) Pilbeam - the property was known as
"Pilbeam's Perogative" and the hillclimb was simply a reasonably well
graded dirt/gravel section of one of the tracks on the property. A number
of events were held there by the Orange Light Car Club in the 1950's.
All of the above is according to my memory only (I was 11 or 12 years
old at the time), so my apologies if I have any of it wrong. Sadly, Henry
van Schaik died some years later, in a light aircraft accident I think,
and I have no recollection of what had happened to the car by then.
Triumphal return, TR3 Buchanan for sale
Alan Mitchell in Orange has
finished the restoration of his Triumph TR3 based Buchanan. He's looking
at selling it as he has retired from work and racing. It's currently
unregistered and fitted with a 2 litre TR engine that was rebuilt and used
on road in a TR3A for 3,775 miles. It also has extractors, disc brakes,
HS6 Carbs, rack & pinion steering, roll bar, chassis gusseted for extra
rigidity, spare set of wheels and tyres. Many of original parts as
extra's, including windscreen & hardtop, spare worked engine. Repainted in
Monza Red. Offers around $22,000. Alan Mitchell (02)6361-4732 (Orange
NSW). Used in historic racing from 1991-2002. email:
Apologies for no updates for a
while, been busy writing a 2000 page Aston Martin book! In the meantime
the Buchanan world has seen a few more cars appear. Gavin Black has built
up a Triumph Herald Vitesse based special with a new body resembling the
Aston Martin DB3S. You can read an article on it here:
Magazine Buchanan Article
Another Buchanan wakes after 30 year slumber
Yet another Buchanan has arisen
from a long slumber and taken it's rightful place back on the road. It's
even better when a father/son team put the car back together. Mark
Wells from Melbourne dropped us a line to tell his story.
"Hi, thought I would let you know about my car. It was purchased by my
father Ian Wells roughly 30 years ago I think, as a very rough body on
what I believe is a TF chassis, can't find any id plates.
It sat behind the garden shed for 10-12 years before work was started. We
have not been particularly faithful to its original form, as Dad was
starting to suffer from Parkinson's Disease, the decision was made to
build him a reliable toy with some modern touches. Dad's great friend and
gifted engineer Peter Tucker, as well as myself spent many weekends over
many years getting it going and also adding the Aston style nose.
Engine: Toyota 18RG twin cam
Gearbox: 5 sp steel Toyota
Diff: Datsun R160
I realise these modifications will probably not please the purists, but
frankly don't care, they were after all a kit car!
As to previous history, I have no information, but do not think it would
have competed or we would never have made the radical modifications we
On my fathers passing the car became mine and I am continuing the process
of completion, however it had it's first competition run at the VHRR
hillclimb at Rob Roy on the weekend, running in the invited sports car
class. Despite Michelin XVX tyres that are probably nearly as old as me,
some pretty dodgy suspension and fuel starvation issues, I managed to
break 30 seconds (however by how much is a matter of some contention as
the official times were not posted by the time I left).
More development is planned, however the car is basically a weekend toy
that will have to prized form my "cold dead hands", to paraphrase Charlton
There's not 1 but 2 Buchanans
currently on EBay. The first is David Hutton's MG TD based car mentioned
here a few weeks ago. It's body number 55 and still wears the original
Buchanan Body ID plate in the engine bay. Here's the link
The second is an engineless
Buchanan on a homebuilt frame with Holden mechanicals. It used to run a
Holden Grey motor 25 years ago. The wheels are from a FJ but with wider
offset rims and the body has had flared arches grafted on to cover these.
More details here:
Fiat returns to the track after 50 years
"The second of the "Works"
built Buchanan racecars, the Buchanan Fiat, made a visit to the Phillip
Island circuit for the historic races this month. In the hands of owner
Peter Albon it completed the drive down and back from Melbourne without
any problems. Peter commented "I
was surprised (and grateful) of how well she went. However the wind and
sun on your face gets to you after a while! It was great to see some great
cars and be a part of it. The Island was great this year and I got to see
a real works 3s in the flesh. Very Cool!"
David Hutton owns a MG TD based
Buchanan that he is searching for some history on. It runs a MG
engine/gearbox/rearend on a TD chassis but with seats from an early MGB.
The chap he bought it from had purchased the car in SA. If any knows of
this Buchanan David would be most grateful for any details.
Single-seater based Buchanan Amilcar
In the early 1950's Clive Adams
and Jack Pryor of "PRAD" converted an old Amilcar chassis into an alloy
bodied single-seater sporstcar that became known as the PRAD 2.
The midget like single-seater,
which was raced extensively by Clive Adams in the early fifties, was
thought to have been dismantled and discarded in the mid fifties when the
partners moved onto later PRADs. However the PRAD did have another life
being fitted with a Buchanan body and Ford Zephyr engine in 1957/58. It
was restored in the 1973/85 period in Sydney, later moved to Canberra and
eventually to WA where it was eventually sold at auction to Noel Robson
who was John Surtees mechanic back in the day.
Noel passed away last year and
his widow has finally decided to sell the car as she has moved into a
smaller home and has nowhere safe to store it other than in the carport.
The Buchanan is complete and running with a spare motor and in Busselton
in WA. The car is advertised in the latest Unique Cars, page 233, with an
asking price of $25,000 ONO. Mrs. Robson and her deceased husband were
friends of Nat Buchanan when he was building the bodies in the late
1950's. There is a article on the car in the
August 2002 Classic & Sports Car.
On the road
Peter Albon, custodian of the
Buchanan Fiat, reports it's passed
the RWC and is now registered for road use in Victoria, This was the same
car campaigned by Bruce Maher at Bathurst, Mt Druitt and Schofields back
in 1957/58 and one of the factory entered racers of the period. Look
closely and you can see the new "Buchanan Body" badges mounted on the
grille and steering wheel! the BRG paintwork looks superb and really
suits the car, well done Pete.
John Low over at the
Bolly Blog keeps unearthing photos of
South Aussie Buchanans from his archives. They are all of the variant
without the cutaway in the front wheel arch. It seems six or so cars were
built like this and at least 3 found their way to the Adelaide area.
It's been a while since
Buchanan has had much press but lately coverage has come thick and fast.
The NSW Bolwell club ran a 2 page article in their
September 2009 issue of Slipstream
Bolly Blog ran a segment on the Buchanan
Australia Custom Kitcar magazine
scooped them all in November with a 10 page article by Buchanan MG owner
Additionally I've come
across some colour archive racing photos of Buchanan MGs on the Queensland
MG car club
website. The first shot is
Buchanan's QLD dealer the Swift Service Station. The second is Bill Weekes
in the very first Buchanan to hit the race track, at Strathpine in March
1957, where Bill placed 1st. and 4th. There are also some photos of Ian
Michels' Buchanan hardtop racing at Lakeside in 1961.
Gold Buchanan at Buchanan's QLD dealer Swift
Bill Weekes Buchanan MG TF 1957
Body Badges available
After a few years of pottering
around I finally have the "Buchanan Body" badges in my hands. Based
off the original "Buchanan Cobra" badge made 50 years ago, they are ready
for shipping to any Buchanan owners. Like the original they are
domed to fit the curvature of the car bodywork.
Cost will be AUD$45 (numbers
are limited so get in early) with shipping of AUD$15. ID plates are
also available at AUD$30, they are an exact copy of the stick on metallic
plate fitted to the cars by Buchanan back in the late 1950's.
Original ID plates
Reproduction ID plates
Your body number or type can be
printed on them if you want. Anyone who would like to order can
contact me via
08.10.09 On the road again
After some surgery and the addition of coloured vinyl tape my
Buchanan is back on the road again. New tyres have raised the ride height
and make the car look more proportional now. Just waiting on a new
steering wheel hub so I can finish the interior off before enjoying the
rest of the summer driving the car.
08.10.09 RIP Arthur Rizzo
Another link to Buchanan's history has passed away.
Arthur Rizzo designed the chassis for the first Buchanan, the stillborn
Zephyr engined coupe. His twin tube chassis, of which he built 12,
was the basis for at least 8 Buchanan bodies including the Gladiator.
More details here
RIP Arthur Rizzo
The "Works" racers
I'm just finished a new section on the
racecars, Buchanans built at the factory and entered by
them in events. I posted the following on Atlas F1 Nostalgia Forum: "The
second of the "Works" built Buchanan racecars has resurfaced in Melbourne.
The Buchanan Fiat was the second racecar built up by Nat Buchanan and
Bruce Maher at the Buchanan "Works" in Annandale. It raced at Bathurst in
1957 in the NSW Championship for Sportscars, winning on handicap.
SCW Feb 1958 Fast Future Fiat It
was on a Rizzo twin tube chassis with Fiat 1100 engine, mechanicals and
suspension. The Buchanan "Works" built up 3 race cars in total, all driven
by Bruce Maher. They were the 1957 Buchanan MG, 1957 Buchanan Fiat and
1958 Buchanan Holden hardtop. All competed at Bathurst. There were plans
for a fourth racecar, a Buchanan Standard, but these were shelved and the
Buchanan Cobra built using Standard mechanicals, a new body built by Stan
Brown and chassis designed by Jack Pryor."
04.02.09 Progress at last
Apologies are in order for the lack of updates on my car, it's
taken longer to get some of the bits together to complete it. I
fabricated a new fuel rail in copper nickel to look more period with the
restored SU carbs, I had to get the brass banjos in from the UK to silver
solder onto the fuel line and find some brass "t" fittings to join it
together. While I was at it I fitted an aircraft style fuel cut-off valve
mounted on the floor in front of the passenger and a pressure regulator to
the fuel line.
The dash is installed and
most of the restored instruments fitted. To go along with the uprated
ignition system I've hidden an adjustable digital rev limiter under the
dash. The old Holden grey motor has a habit of snapping cranks if
revved over 6000 rpm so I figured this was a good way to prevent an
expensive engine rebuild. It's set at 5800 rpm to give a bit of leeway but
still extract maximum horsepower from the engine.
In from the cold
Bruce Maher's old racing Fiat may have
resurfaced in Melbourne. Peter Albon, current owner of a Buchanan
Fiat special on a twin tube Rizzo chassis, thinks it may be his car.
He's been watching this site and after comparing his car with the Fiat
racer in the old SCW magazine article has noted the similarities between
the tubular chassis, the Fiat 1100 front suspension and back end, original
dash layout, Triumph door latches and fuel filler position in the boot.
Peter has owned the car for
over 10 years and has been methodically restoring it. The accompanying
photos show the car looking stunning in BRG. He hopes to have it
registered and roadworthy soon. It's great to see another Buchanan
lovingly restored to its former glory.
Having just spoken to Peter and
going back through some previous emails from past owners I'm 100% sure
this is the old Bruce Maher Buchanan Fiat that raced at Bathurst in
October 1957, as well as other NSW circuits. It was a factory car
built up by the Buchanan Motor Company to promote the bodies. The
original engine was removed by Fred Grant in the late 1980's and replaced
with a Fiat 124 engine and 124 front brake discs were also fitted.
02.10.09 A Peachy find
Ex-pat Aussie Ted Newsome in Connecticut, USA emailed details
of a Buchanan he used to own. According to Ted: "I discovered it under a
peach tree in the North Adelaide suburbs (photo attached). I towed
it back to Melbourne, had it a few months but did nothing to it other than
to clean it up a bit, as I was too busy with my Turner group D racing car
at the time. I sold it to the guy that made the racing suits (cannot
remember his name). He intended to go historic racing with it. It
apparently had some racing history as it had some notes and details
written in pencil under the bonnet. It had a Holden grey motor with twin
SU's and allegedly was on a HRG chassis with a XK120 gear-box. I never did
confirm the chassis, but it seemed too long a wheelbase for an MG. I
remember the shifter was impossible, it was almost under your right
armpit. Hope that this is of interest to you, and maybe fills in some
It is indeed the old Godfrey
Special, a HRG chassis based Buchanan with a lightweight racing body
similar to the Gladiator's. It raced at Bathurst in the hands of Jack
Edwards and also at Lowood and Strathpine in QLD. The car now resides in
The "Godfrey Special" as
discovered under a peach tree in the mid 1970's
02.08.09 Aston failure, Buchanan success
I've been doing some research on the Aston Martin DB3S the
Buchanan body is based on. It appears Aston Martin tried building
fibreglass bodies for the DB3S back in 1953/54. Unfortunately it was an
abject failure and the only 2 bodies built were scrapped. They laid the
fibreglass up over a wooden body buck, rather than building a mould,
and then had to sand down the outside of the body to get it smooth. The
first body didn't have enough hardener in the mix and the body collapsed.
Terry Hadley, a mechanic in the
racing department at Astons back then, filled me in on the details. Seems
no one had any experience working with fibreglass so they were starting
from scratch. The only completed body was extremely heavy and had no door
or bonnet openings, it was fitted to a chassis but never went on the road.
After the DB3S race cars were
wrecked at Le Mans in 1954, they removed the glass body and fitted a
used alloy body to the chassis to continue racing that season. AM
never used fibreglass again.
Two years later and Buchanan's
body first appeared, a much more professional job than the factory effort.
Aston Martin never found out about the fibreglass wonder from Down Under!
The DB3S at Goodwood not long
after the fibreglass body was removed and an alloy one fitted
01.29.09 New Discovery
Just received an email from David Homburg, he's recently picked up another
Buchanan from Little River down Geelong way. He found it on EBay, it's a
Holden Grey engined car on a homemade box section chassis with Holden
front and rear suspension. The bodywork has had some interesting
mods around the dash cowl and tail but everything seems to be there. It's
sat since the 1980s but will hopefully be back on the road soon.
More progress on my car today,
turned on the battery and electrified all the new wiring for the first
time. No smoke to worry about but the electric fan seems to blow fuses.
Will put a relay into the circuit to solve the problem...other than that
all systems are go! Carbs should be back next week after restoration and
hopefully will fire the beast up for the first time this year and test out
the revised ignition system.
01.25.09 Racing Fiat Unearthed
A chap from Melbourne contacted me over the weekend with details of a
Buchanan Fiat he used to own that is still in the area. With a bit of
research into some old magazine articles I suspect it is the ex-Bruce
Maher Buchanan Fiat that competed at Bathurst in 1957 and 1958. You can
find the article here:
SCW Feb 1958
Fast Future Fiat
While I was finding the article
I figured I may as well scan in all the old magazines I have that feature
the Buchanan. In total there's 11 from 1956 to 1959 with stories on the
car. This is the list, it may not be exhaustive, but covers quite a few
*Click on the description for the article
Modern Motor 1956 October -
New Plastic Car Built Here
Wheels 1956 November -
Sports Cars Made In Australia
Modern Motor 1957 May -
Buchanan Body how to
Australian Motor Sports 1957 August -
Modern Motor 1957 October -
Buchanan MG test
Sports Car World 1957 November -
Fashioned in Fibreglass
Sports Car World 1958 February -
Buchanan Fiat review
Motor manual Monthly 1958 March -
Local Fibreglass Bodies are real beauties
Sports Car World 1958 May -
Buchanan MG Gladiator review
Sports Car World 1958 June -
Buchanan Holden review
Modern Motor 1959 April -
Australia's Fastest Unblown MG
One thing I've always wondered about is the origin of the
bonnet scoop on the Buchanan bodies. I know Nat changed a few things
on the mould to differentiate it from the Aston DB3S and always thought he
used the Lagonda (an enlarged DB3S) for his inspiration.
It seems he initially used the scoop in 1956 on the very first Buchanan
car he built, the red car in the cover picture from Modern Motor in May
1957. Whatever happened to the
first Buchanan, it wasn't the prettiest of vehicles and wouldn't have sold
as well as the "body", but it is an important piece of Aussie motoring
01.18.09 Back To Work
It's been a few years since I've done much work on my Buchanan Holden,
last major job was fitting a roll cage under the bodywork and sorting some
cooling problems with an alloy radiator and electric fan. I also
discovered the hood scoop was causing a pressure bubble in the engine bay
and preventing the hot radiator air from exiting. I had my
fiberglass guy remove the scoop and smooth out the bonnet line.
I also got back to work on
the website and with the help of John Medley's excellent book "Bathurst:
Cradle of Australian Motor Racing", I put together a list of the
Buchanan racecars that competed
there and elsewhere. I've also uncovered a few more cars that have been
added to the Register as well as a
section for the Buchanan Cobras.
I decided it was time to
sort out the electrics on my car, I'm pretty sure they dated back to when
the car was built in 1958 with a few bits spliced in since. As the
Buchanan was based off the Aston Martin DB3S I used it as a reference for
rewiring my car. Using the
DB3S wiring diagram I
ordered all new Lucas wiring from
Rhode Island Wire using the
wire colour guide.
All the old wires were
removed and I built up a new loom using the wiring diagram as a guide. Any
connections were done using Lucas bullet connectors and after laying out
the loom in the car to check for length it was wrapped in 3M electrical
tape. I took the opportunity to update the Bosch distributor and
replaced the points with a
Pertronix "Ignitor" unit, Part # 1864A, a "Flamethrower" coil,
Part # 40511 and 7mm high output spark plug leads.
NASCO bypass oil filter was getting a bit worse for wear so I
replaced it with a remote unit with a spin on filter for ease of use.
Over the years I have been
collecting a set of DB3S instruments to fit to my car and, as I had the
wiring out, now was as good a time as any to install them. Fortunately I
have a few mates with real DB3S's who took templates off their dashboards
so I could replicate one for my car. I had a company in the UK make up a
new 15" diameter wood rim wheel and hub to fit my steering column.
The DB3S used a mechanical rev counter with a takeoff from the back of the
cam cover, as the Holden Grey motor didn't have an overhead camshaft I had
the rev counter converted to electric to run off a connection on the coil.
When Nat Buchanan took some
drops off Tom Sulman's DB3S to make the Buchanan bodies he changed a few
key features. He enlarged the cowl over the dashboard and added one to the
passenger side. On some of the bodies he built for racers this was
deleted. The dash cowl is the same shape as that on the DB3S but has
been extended up, by carefully cutting it back the original shape can be
replicated. I also removed the cowl on the passenger side as it never
looked quite right, it was more MG TC than Aston!
Currently I am fabricating the
dash panel in alloy and fitting up the instruments and connecting the
wiring loom. A new Perspex windscreen is being made along with a cover for
the passenger side of the cockpit. I also want to redo the fuel line to
the SU carbs and sort out the linkages and accelerator pedal. The
SU's have been sent off for a full rebuild and a set of new tyres ordered
ready for the race season. The radiator hoses need replacing and a
set of leather bonnet straps will finish off the engine bay nicely.