Friday, 24 February 2006 01:55
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Gladiator

Written by  Dick Willis
The Gladiator was built in 1957 using the engine and gearbox from an MG TC.    Dick Willis
Gladiator




 
THE GLADIATOR was built by Barry Taylor of Sydney in 1957 using the modified engine and gearbox from an MGTC he had raced at Mt Druitt earlier in the 1950's, a tubular chassis built by Arthur Rizzo using MGTF front and rear axles, suspension and brakes, and a special fibreglass Buchanan body. The Buchanan bodies had used a mould taken from Tom Sulman's Aston Martin DB3S, but The Gladiator differed by having only one door, a large headrest behind the driver, no bonnet scoop, only one hump on the dash, no bootlid, and was fitted with an undertray.
The car took its name and identity from the unit of the Royal Marines of which Barry Taylor was a member in WW2.
The Gladiator's first race meeting was at Bathurst, Easter 1958, also running at the October meeting, but the MG engine proved to be unreliable and was replaced in 1959 by a modified Holden motor, later that year the nose was lengthened in an effort to alleviate front end lift on Bathurst's Con Rod straight. In this form the Gladiator was quite successful, usually being placed in the first six in Bathurst's then popular sports car races. Late in 1959 well known MG racer, Holt Binnie acquired the Gladiator and proceeded to race it at every opportunity until 1964, mainly at Bathurst and Warwick Farm, in later stages the car was known as the Vandervell Holden in deference to Holt's crankshaft reclaiming business.
In 1973, Don Simpson who lived at Blaxland in the Blue Mountains answered an advert for an old racing car at Concord for sale for $30. It was the Gladiator and it was a mess. Undeterred, Don paid up, took it home and began the lengthy task of restoring it to its former glory. It was virtually completed by January 1977 and had a shakedown run at Amaroo prior to its debut at the Historic race meeting later that month but Don was tragically killed in the Granville train disaster while travelling to work on Jan 18th,1977.
His widow, Narelle intended to keep the Gladiator but in 1989 John Trezise of Sydney became its fourth owner. John raced the Gladiator regularly in Historic events until selling it in August, 2000, to Dick Willis of Coffs Harbour.
As the Gladiator had by now become somewhat tatty, Dick completely stripped and restored the car, hoping to be able to have the car relive its glory days as raced by Barry Taylor and Holt Binnie. Its first appearance after restoration was at the HSRCA's Historic meeting at Oran Park GP circuit in April 2001 where it took pole position, and it has since been successfully raced at Wakefield Park, Goulburn and at Queensland Raceway, Ipswich and at the Grafton Hillclimb and Leyburn (Qld) Sprints
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