PHOTO: The 1954 Wolseley Flying W Special of Eric Cossiche from South Australia represents the heritage of home-built Australian racing cars at next weekend’s Historic Leyburn Sprints
LEYBURN (Queensland) - When the Historic Leyburn Sprints roars into action next weekend it will celebrate not only the time the Darling Downs village hosted the Australian Grand Prix but also the ingenious home-built cars that helped revive Australian motor-racing after World War 2.
The entry list of 28 cars at the 1949 grand prix included 19 described as “Specials” - either roadgoing models lightened of superfluous bodywork or ground-up creations using combinations of secondhand parts. Their expensive imported rivals included two Bugattis, the winning Delahaye, a Jaguar and several MGs.
Virtually all the “Australian Specials” were constructed by enthusiasts with either limited funds or skills, but made up in speed what they lacked in style.
They became part of an engineering tradition that has continued for decades and will be remembered when around 20 cars that have been built as one-offs compete among a total entry of 210 in the weekend’s time-trials on the Leyburn 1.0 kilometre street course.