The Turnham GM6

 

The Turnham GM6 started life much differently. Here is its story.

It was first powered by a Climax 2.5 engine. After acquiring the remains of the Atom/Tasma chassis I then set about repairing and refurbishing it with the intention of putting a Falcon 6 and VW gearbox as per John Goss. Enter Bob Wright who happened to have an ex Lex Davison/Bill Reynolds 2.5 Climax engine and a Colotti Type 51 (I think) gearbox for sale.

What with the 1959 Cooper chassis bakes and shockers, etc. I had enough bits and pieces to put together a reasonable car. After beavering away for around 12 months, which included hand building an all aluminum body of the then current square wedge shape. I finished it the week before the Symmons Plains round of the Australian Sports car championship in the November of 1972.

GM6

 

The GM6 started life with a Coventry Climax 2.5 litre engine and Collotti gearbox.

 

My first drive of the car on the Wednesday went with a few minor problems but wasn’t too bad. I know after the little clubman going down the main straight it seemed like a rocket ship, having around 230hp to play with. As I recall there was a very good field of approximately 16 good sport cars with pole going to John Harvey in the McLaren M6A Repco. We qualified in 8th spot for the 40 lap championship race which I was quite happy with.

 

The race started in damp conditions but we had intermediate tyres which suited the conditions. Slicks may not have even been about at that stage but I will stand corrected. I do not remember a lot about the race other than Allen Watts in the ex Allen Ling Lotus 23 went into a marshal post sideways on the second lap bending the car like a banana. I circulated being lapped by John Harvey a few times coming home in 8th place 3 laps down... To just be able to finish a race of that length after spending 12 months single handedly building a car of that nature to me was very satisfying.

 

I raced the car in circuit racing and hill climbs for the next season but the Climax motor was pretty tired and I didn’t have the money or knowledge to rebuild it. Repco had sold all the spares to England and it was a pain in the butt when you wanted something.

GM6
with Tasma Repco
This was only the second race meeting for the car.
At Symmons Plains leading John Bowe in
Bob Wright's Tasma Repco

Late in 1973 I packed up the wife and 3 kids in a caravan and went to Sydney to look at the motor racing there. This was a big trip for someone who had only been to Melbourne twice before. The trip and its adventures is another story.

 

In the time there we went to Oran Park and Amaroo Park and the cars that impressed me the most was the Milanos of Moss Anglis and Bruce Leah (?) with their red Holden 6 motors. The decision was then made to come home and pull the Climax motor out and slot in a 192ci red motor with Webber carburetors. This I feel was a smart move for me as the Holden was much cheaper to run and within my ability to keep going.

 

The Climax motor was sold to John Blanden in Adelaide. The car now had another change of name to the Turnham GM6 (General motors - 6 cylinder) The car was now reliable and as I was able to drive the thing much harder without the fear of the Climax going BANG the times were equal to and if not better than the Climax.

 

Through out this time we ran at hillclimbs winning class records at Highclere and Flowerdale with outright records at Stanley and Poatina which was the longest hillclimb in Australia. In November of 1975 at Symmons Plains we came third in the last round of the Australian Sportscar Championship behind Garry Coopers Elphin MS7 and Henry Michells Elphin 360. This was very satisfying but the field was not the quality of some of the earlier rounds.

Sportsman of the Year
Sportsman of the Year
The car was raced throughout 1974 with good success at Baskerville and Symmons Plains with the good fortune of being awarded the Hobart Sporting Car Club Sportsman of the year. Other award winners included John McCormack, Allen Ling, Bruce Gowans and many more well known Tasmanian names.

In early 1976 I again packed the wife and 3 kids in the Transit van but this time with the racing car and enough gear to last us three months and headed for Sydney to run in the NSW Tourist Trophy at Amaroo and other races at Oran Park. We rented a house in Fairfield started work in a panel shop to pay the food bill and sent the kids to school.

 

Arriving at Amaroo for the tourist trophy I was a little nervous about qualifying as there was a full field with half a dozen reserves and never having to qualify before and not knowing the opposition it was exciting. The field included Allen Newton with the R & T Chev, Paul Gibson’s Renmax Repco Barry Singleton’s Elphin 360 Repco, Andy Roberts in his Roberts Terry Gallery in a Rover V8 Proctor plus many more with a horde of clubman’s which were very fast. After qualifying and a nervous wait till the times come out we ended up 5th on the grid.

 

The first race was a 5 lapper which was pretty good and we ended up coming in 4th spot which then ended up as 3rd because Barry Singleton was disqualified for jumping the start. We were now a little excited about our prospects in the tourist trophy. Our excitement soon disappeared in the first lap of the main race however as going into Honda corner Terry Gallery used me for a brake marker bending the body work the rear suspension putting about 3 inches of toe-in on the left rear wheel. Out and we didn’t even complete one lap.

 

After 3 months with 2 race meetings at Oran Park and another at Amaroo it was time to come back to Tasmania. Unfortunately we didn’t crack a win but we were always up the pointy end of the field. It was then decided to build a new car so it was time to put the GM6 on the market, but in the mean time I continued to race it until selling it to well known local kart racer and character Geoff Jacobs. Geoff then let me race the car when he had commitments with his karting which was very generous of him and I appreciated it. Geoff raced the car for the next 3 years with success but with a few minor bingles and in 1979-80 had a larger bingle which he then traded the wreck in on the TS8. With sports cars a dying class I then sold the Colotti gearbox, Cooper brakes other parts to Mr. Paul Moxon of NSW who then restored the ex Alex Mildren Cooper Maserati which is where the gear box started life in the first place.

 

It had done a full circle. The rest of the car was taken to the local dump. This car started life in 1962-3 and is a tribute to Bob Wright and Jim Saward’s workmanship with the basic chassis lasting for twenty years racing with lots of success with various engines and a variety of drivers.

Big grid

 

Peter leads Andy Roberts (S2) and Terry Gallery
(Manx Mirage SR2
)

 

The back of the photo reads; Many thanks Peter for your support during our 1976 racing season, fond regards, Group "A" Sports Assoc. NSW.