Albany Advertiser’s Jessica Cuthbert reviews Albany’s Racing Revolution

Check out for a review of Albany’s Racing Revolution.


Albany’s Racing Revolution 1936-1940 – OUT NOW





Albany cover final AMENDEDBUY NOW AT


Albany’s Racing Revolution 1936~1940 subtitled A Pictorial Celebration of the Around the Houses Races, written by West Australian motoring historian Graeme Cocks and published by Motoring Past Vintage Publishing, tells the story of the first motor races at Albany.

The book features more than 140 photographs collected over many years. Every race from 1936 to 1940 is featured. Many of the pictures have not previously been published.

“The photographs tell the story of the winners and the losers, the cars and the drivers and the spectators who flocked to the south coastal town to see something new to Australia — racing on city streets,” said Graeme Cocks.

“All the local legends of the sport are included: Jack Nelson in his Ballot Special, Ossie Cranston in his Ford V8 Special, Allan Tomlinson in his Australian Grand Prix winning MG and a host of lesser known names from the early races.”

“The Albany Grand Prix was regarded as the ultimate prize in Western Australian motor sport in the 1930s and the pictures vividly illustrate the intensity of the competition. These races were very hard fought,” he said.

“The cars were also unlike the race cars of today. Many were regular cars turned into racers, while others were thoroughbred European racing cars from famous names such as Bugatti.”

The book has been produced in softcover and in limited quantities. Bu your copy now at

Graeme Cocks’ last book, Red Dust Racers, recently won the Gold Medal in the Transportation category of the 21st Annual Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York. The award will be presented on 30 May 2017 at the BookExpo publishing convention in New York which is North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals attracting an audience from around the globe. The book on motor racing at Lake Perkolilli near Kalgoorlie was also shortlisted at the International Historic Motoring Awards in London in December 2016, making it one of the top eight motoring books worldwide last year. Mr Cocks is the only Australian writer to be shortlisted twice at these awards. He was short-listed in 2015 for his previous book The Mighty MG Magnettes of 33.
Since it was launched in August last year, the book Red Dust Racers has taken the story of a forgotten motor racing track near an abandoned ghost town to a world audience. The limited edition book has found customers in Europe, USA, Asia and Africa as well as in every Australian state.

Motoring Past Vintage Publishing also has other great West Australian motoring books including Albany motor racing identity Phil Shephard’s new book The World’s Fastest E-Type Jaguar – The Quest for the Record. The book is the story of Team Shephard and their quest for speed on the dry salt of Lake Gairdner in South Australia. Every year, Phil and his team took their E-Type across the Nullarbor to find out just how fast an E-Type could go. It’s a great story of how a knockabout bunch of West Aussie’s accomplished what hadn’t been achieved before.

Other books for sale include Red Dust Racers, The Mighty MG Magnettes of 33 about the greatest era of MG racing in the 1930s, Chassis 141 – the Story of the First Le Mans Bentley, and Albany A Go Go about motor racing in Albany after the war.




Graeme Cocks has always had a passion for stinking, noisy, dirty and uncomfortable early motor racing cars.

Trained as a journalist at the Western Australian Institute of Technology, he worked briefly in journalism before giving away the journo’s life and backpacking around the world. Returning to Perth, he began a career in travel writing before being drawn to the world of public relations at communications manager at the WA Tourism Commission.

A chance opportunity to represent the tourism body in the Genevieve 500 Race in 1992 re-kindled his interest in old cars and then he saw the old bangers racing around Midland at the Gull Speed Classic in 1994. He had to have one. His search for a suitable car led him to re-create a Chrysler called Silverwings which raced at Lake Perkolilli in 1927. He had to know more about this place he’d never heard of but he was distracted by sailing ships.

His passion for historic ships which began with a stint working for the HM Bark Endeavour Foundation in Fremantle and South Africa, led to him taking a leading role in the Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation which began constructing a replica of Duyfken, the first ship recorded in history to visit Australia. He accepted the challenge of a new role as Project Director of the Foundation. He supervised the completion of the ship and arranged the first reenactment voyage of Duyfken to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Golf of Carpentaria in 2000. He then arranged the longest reenactment voyage ever conducted by an Age of Discovery replica ship before or since, from Sydney to Amsterdam via Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa and the Azores in 2001-2002 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Dutch East India Company.

He was enticed back to Fremantle to be the first general manager of the Fremantle Motor Museum, at the time, the largest private museum in Australia. The new job rekindled his long standing interest in historic motor racing and he produced a number of publications on Western Australian motoring history.

In 2007 he was awarded the unusual and esoteric honour of “Member of the Order of the Knights Templar” in Australia for services to motoring and maritime history.

In 2015, his major work The Mighty MG Magnettes of 33 about the remarkable MG racing cars and their drivers from 1933 was shortlisted for the London-based International Historic Motoring Awards.

For 20 years, in between arranging international sea voyages for a sailing ship, managing museums and writing other books, he was beavering away on the story of Lake Perkolilli, intent on bringing this unknown part of Australian motoring history to a wide audience. The centenary of motor racing at Perko in 2014 provided the spur to complete the book, and Red Dust Racers is the result.


Speech at Important Collectors’ Cars Auction at Carriageworks for Mossgreen

The latest Mossgreen Auction of Classic Cars has a great selection of fine cars. I was asked to speak at the Cocktail Function about 100 years of motoring. Here’s my speech.


Mossgreen Important Collectors’ Car at Carriageworks
100 Years of Motoring
Address by Graeme Cocks
26 May 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen

James Nicholls asked me to give a talk this evening entitled 100 years of motoring. He had a good reason for this. The oldest car in Sunday’s auction is a 1913 Ford Model T and the newest car is a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette.

Yep, that is 100 years alright.

But perhaps the title of this talk should be 170 years of motoring because the DNA of two of the cars in our auction goes back to 1834.

That was the year when Gottlieb Daimler was born in Germany. He was born before the railway had arrived in continental Europe. There were steam trains in Britain but the mainlanders had not yet caught onto the idea.

A decade later, in 1844 another giant of the automobile industry, Karl Benz was born in Germany. And 120 years later, their names would be combined in the name for Auction Lot number 2, the Mercedes Benz 220S and the Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster (lot number 16).

It was said that the first motor race ever held was when the first two cars were manufactured. If that is the case, then it was Karl Benz second patent Motorwagen which would have been in that race.

The Germans were a decade ahead of the rest of the world in the conception of the motor car. Of course, the French grabbed the idea and thanks to people such as Count De Dion, they turned motor car manufacturing into a major industry.

Unfortunately, the might of British industry which had shown the world how to make steam engines and railways, steam ships and manufactured goods of all kinds, was held back by the reluctance of the powers that be to allow motor cars free reign on their public highways.

The next man in our century and a half of motoring was Henry Royce. He was born in March 1863. Gottlieb Daimler was already 29 years of age and Karl Benz was 21.

Henry Royce was also a driven man but he was driven to success as an engineer and businessman who manufactured electrical equipment before discovering that a market existed for a high quality car at the turn of the new century.

The 1936 Rolls-Royce 25-30 (Lot 14) has all the hallmarks of Sir Frederick Henry Royce who died three years before this car was delivered to its proud new owner, the artist Frank Salisbury. Royce’s supreme engineering skills and desire to create the very best car in the world are embodied in this car.

We now go from the man who built what was once called the best car in the world and sold them to hundreds of people a year to the man who wanted to sell a car to everyone in the world. Yes, you guessed it, four months after the creator of the Rolls-Royce was born in Peterborough in England, Henry Ford was born on a farm in Michigan in July 1863.

Henry Ford is quite different to everyone else I will talk about tonight. His signature car, the Ford Model T, is not remembered for its beauty, it is not remembered for its speed, it is not remembered for the precision of its engineering.

The Ford Model T is remembered as the car that put the world on wheels and made the horse obsolete. More than 15 million Ford Model Ts were built from 1909 to 1927. At one stage in Australia, about four out of every five cars on Australian roads were the Model T.

The magnificent Ford Model T we see here tonight was built in 1913 (Lot 2) when Henry was still wasting money putting brass on his cars. In 1915, he realised the error of his ways and painted steel replaced brass as he kept reducing his prices, again and again, and sales kept going up and up.

And while brass Ford Model Ts weren’t the cars which made Ford a household name they are the most collectible ones today.

Eight months after Frederick Royce was born in England, and four months after Henry Ford was born another giant name in the motor car industry was born in Ohio in the New World. His name was James Ward Packard, born November 1863, and like Frederick Royce he went on to manufacture electrical equipment before becoming interested in motor cars. Just like Frederick Royce, James Packard understood the need for precision in electrical engineering and this idea of making a better product than his competitors also came through in the 1936 Packard 120 motor car (lot 18) and the 1940 Packard One-Ten Drophead Coupe (Lot 12).

And like the Rolls-Royce 25-30, the Packards were manufactured after their namesake’s death and the creator’s ethic of superlative quality still shone through.

The same could be said of the next man to be born in our parade of the greatest men in motoring. His name was Ransom Eli Olds. He was born in June 1864. What a great American story was Ransom Olds. The son of a blacksmith with a passion for engines of any kind, he attracted capital to create a car all of his own. It wasn’t a Benz, or a Daimler or a Rolls-Royce. It wasn’t a Packard. Who would want a car called an Olds?

So it became an Oldsmobile. The Curved Dash Oldsmobile was the first series production automobile and laid the foundation for the US automobile industry which became the powerhouse nation for motor cars in the 1920s.

Ransom Olds was also the victim of the dog-eat-dog capitalist system in the United States and the company which more his name was taken from him. He started a new company with an even better name: Reo.

Reo built great cars exactly how Ransom wanted them built. He retired from active duties with the company until the Great Depression brought him back to Reo to take charge and help the company avoid bankruptcy.

Under his leadership the company created the Flying Cloud. It seems no coincidence that the 1933 Reo Flying Cloud was created during RE Olds tenure back at the top of the company which bore his name. It has the style of one of the true heroes of the American auto industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are still only in 1864, Ransom Eli Olds and Henry Ford were still in nappies. It was another 11 years before another giant of the motor car industry was born in what is now part of the Czech Republic.

Can anyone guess who it was? It was, of course, Ferdinand Porsche, born September 1875.

Long before the three Porsches we see here this evening were created, Ferdinand Porsche was using his engineering skills to create electric cars and one of the greatest cars of all time, the Mercedes SSK.

He is probably best remembered today for the Porsche 356 (Lots 4 and 8) and the Porsche 911 (Lot 15) which was created after his death but shares the distinctive lines of the 356 that also was derived from his other great creation: the Volkswagen beetle.

From the great German marque we go back to America for the next man who is now almost forgotten except that the most popular car built by General Motors bears his name – the Chevrolet.

Louis Chevrolet was born in Switzerland in December 1878, and his Swiss-French parents moved to the New World where the young mechanic raced cars and made them go even faster than the people who built them. While his name was purloined in a series of swift moves be William Durant of General Motors, it is great that his name lives on with the Chevrolet Corvette.

Louis Chevrolet always preferred fast cars to cars for the masses and the Corvette is the now the oldest surviving sports car brand to come from Detroit. I am sure he would have approved a car like the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette which is a blend of ideas from Europe and the USA — just like Louis himself.

I can’t let the 1870s leave us before we mention the birth of CS Rolls on 27 August 1877. Whilst Frederick Royce was the genius engineer, CS Rolls was the great salesman who added his name to the pairing.

In 1880, we saw the birth of Thomas George John. Luckily the man with two Christian names and a surname which was also a Christian name did not name his cars a John. I like the name of Alvis much more. He was a naval architect with the eye of an entrepreneur who excelled at bringing talented engineers and designers together to build great cars. The 1953 Alvis TA21G (Lot 11) is just such a car which was built when competitors such as Jaguar were coming out with great cars at a lower starting price — but Alvis cars are still known today for their superb quality.

Three brothers were born between 1885 and 1887 in Lombardy in Italy and made their name in Bologna. They are, of course, the Maserati brothers.

These are the first of our automotive pioneers we’ll talk about tonight who were children of the automobile age. Karl Benz was dashing around in his three wheeler on the other side of the Alps while these boys (I won’t name all the brothers) were being brought up in the world of steam – their father was a locomotive engine driver.

They are a wonderful example of the unique Italian combination of passionate engineering and design. The birdcage Maserati re-creation (lot 9) we see here tonight captures the essence of the Italian ideal where form and function combine to create a beautiful whole.

We’ve been talking a lot about Europeans and Americans tonight. Let’s come closer to home and talk about Sir Edward Wheewall Holden, born in the same year as the first of the Maserati brothers — 1885. His name is on the Australian supercar in our auction – the 1977 Bob Morris Torana (Lot 7).

General Motors bought his coach building firm to build cars in Australia. The end result was the support from the Commonwealth Government given to General Motors to set up large scale car manufacturing in Australia.

The Monaro and this Torana were probably (and arguably by the Ford and Chrysler fraternity) the ultimate in home grown Australian performance cars. Bob Morris took on the might of General Motor’s Holden Dealer Team and won.

This car is from Australia’s golden era of car manufacturing where the product matched the needs of the Australian public.

Far from Bathurst and way back on the 18th February 1898 when the French were in love with motorised tricycles, a young man was born in northern Italy. Yes, it was Enzo Ferrari. What can be said of Ferrari? He raced cars, then he made his own. Ferrari was so important to the Italian automobile industry that Fiat subsidised his company to keep the name of Italian cars at the forefront of motor racing.

In the 1920s, Walter Chrysler put a “red head” on his sporty models — but who remembers that? When Ferrari painted the top of its engine red and called the car the Testarossa in 1986 everyone took notice!

The last man to be born before the turn of the new century in our list of motoring greats was Donald Healey, born 3rd July 1898. The Austin Healey 100M (Lot 17) and the diamond-in-the-rough Alvis-Healey (Lot 10) remind us of his talents. Donald Healey earned his wings as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in World War One. Lucky to survive the war in the air he was invalided out of the service and after the war studied automotive engineering.

The great Healeys of the post war years are testament to his belief in blending sports with performance.

The last man in our gallery of honour tonight was born in 1904. He’s the only man who was born in the 20th century. I have included him not for his automotive genius but for his ability to save a company from certain disaster, pick it up, resurrect its fortune by producing great cars and then move on. His initials stand on great cars that were part of many a young man’s fantasy in the 1960s (they were part of mine).

Yes, he was David Brown. DB. Lots 5 and 13 are Aston Martins. Aston Martin has had more owners than probably any other motor car brand in the world but without David Brown it would be an orphan brand today.

So that brings me to the end of our cavalcade of great cars and the great men behind them.

I will leave you with one quote from one of our men who made one of the cars in this weekend’s auction. Every one of these men are no longer with us but I will leave the final word to one of them.

“Death will destroy my body, but my creatures will keep on living ever after, in the years to come.”

Enzo, we all agree.

Graeme Cocks

Lake Perkolilli Veterans at the Celebration of the Motor Car at Cottesloe

The Vintage Sports Car Club of WA featured three Perkolilli cars at its 30th Anniversary display at the Celebration of the Motorcar 2016.  Paul Dean’s Lagonda Rapier, Barry Macintosh’s Bartlett Special and the Chrysler Silverwings replica all featured at the display.


The World’s Fastest E-Type – The Quest for the Record now on sale.

Allen and  Phil Shephard launched their magnificent new book, “The World’s Fastest E-Type Jaguar. The Quest for the Record” at the Jaguar Car Club of Western Australia clubrooms on Sunday 27 November. The car was also placed on sale for the first time at teh Motoring Past table at the Vintage Sports Car Club of WA’s display at the Celebarion of the Motorcar in Cottesloe.  A limited number of copies are available now. Sea freight copies will go on sale in three weeks so place your order now at if you want to order for Christmas.