RECENTLY I received an interesting email from Bob Brackam, the man behind Rollmaster timing chains, Romac Performance Products and Precision Cam Drives. He has gone back to his passion of working on older British bikes, from post-war to 1975 models, and in particular, T160 Triumph Trident 750cc Triples. Bob reconditions the cylinder heads as well as makes lots of parts for them, including his own big-bore 855cc and 875cc pistons that live. He said he’s making some of his products using 3D printing, with special plastics that handle 160-degree heat, which really intrigued me. Just shows you how far technology has come. And now he’s about to it would be like an awesome free-rolling car show. His suggestion for the date is Saturday 8 September, to coincide with the 12th anniversary of the passing of the legendary Peter Brock. Perhaps a couple of retired racers might like to lead the procession around Mount Panorama in road-registered replicas of their old cars. Keep your eyes open for the event on Facebook.
I also ran into Greg Hunter, who used to be the co-owner of the Muffler Shop in Mackay. He now lives in Invercargill, New Zealand, and builds race cars for a living at Leitch Motorsport & Restoration. Greg showed me photos of a Formula 1 car they’re rebuilding, and mentioned they’re getting start making his own bike frames from Rod Andrews-supplied chrome-moly.
Next I received a message from Domenic Ciccio, who has grown up reading his dad and uncle’s Street Machine magazines as a kid. These days Dom follows his dad’s XY in his own LJ Torana. He subscribes to SM and once he’s read each issue he passes it onto his dad. He suggested putting on a muscle car/street machine cruise from Sydney to Bathurst, with a leisurely lap of Mt Panorama to pay homage to the historic circuit, a barbecue in the afternoon and then returning home. Sounds terrific to me, and several requests for blown street engines. We had a really good discussion on blowers versus turbos, and I suggested that it’s very hard to go past the practicality, reliability and efficiency of an intercooled turbo engine for the street these days. Greg would be in the box seat to specialise in LS or XR6 turbo conversions for street cars over there. He has the exhaust manifold and pipe-bending expertise to make exceptionally good turbo headers, as well as the intercooler pipework.
Blowers might look tough and sound mean, but turbos rule the street both here and in the US. John Faraone is making over 2500hp in his street-driven, seven-second Charger, while in America, Jeff Lutz’s twin-turbo ’57 Chevy is now reported to be making 3500hp. If that’s true, Jeff’s street-driven ’57 shoebox will be capable of running fives at Hot Rod Drag Week this year.
A while ago I went for a ride with a group of bikes up to Mt Nebo, and one of them was an all-electric Zero. No noise, no oil, no fuel – just plug it into a powerpoint and recharge it for a few cents a night. The super-reliable daily commuter can split lanes legally in and out of Brisbane traffic, has free parking on the footpath and is super-cheap urban transport. And the fastest electric bike in the world has run sixes at over 200mph.
More and more electric cars are coming, too, and it’s only a matter of time before a company like Tesla comes up with a quick-charging method for service stations. As Bob Dylan sang, the times they are a-changing, and fossil fuel-powered vehicles could end up like the horse and cart. So enjoy driving your high-performance street machines, hot rods and muscle cars while you can buy high-octane fuel for them. Just like digital cameras have replaced film cameras, electric cars will replace hydrocarbon-powered cars.
An even scarier thought: technology, automation and robotics are going to bring us driverless cars. Future generations might never have the pleasure of driving a car!