Tuesday, 11 April 2006 01:27

Smith, Graham

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Graham Smith

The fact that Graham Smith raced and restored motorcycles for 15 years has had a significant bearing on his success in racing and restoring historic cars. 
He raced a Norton Dominator and a TZ 750 Yamaha.  “The TZ 750 was the Grand Prix two-stroke.  “If the TZ dumped you on the ground, you wouldn’t get up,” he says
After many years of experience and success in Australia and New Zealand, he decided that he was too old for motorbikes.  He decided to have a go at restoring cars, working from his panel repair shop in Torquay, on the Surf Coast of Victoria.
It was not long before business began to grow, despite the fact that he has never advertised, but yet has managed to restore some of the world’s finest historic cars, including the ex-Phil Hill Monza Ferrari shown in our photographs. (above, left and below, right) During the Grand Prix carnival in Melbourne last month, this car drew crowds of admirers, and a German television crew sent images of it halfway across the world. 

ferrari_monza_3_S.jpg ferrari_monza_2_S.jpg allard_ardun_1_S.jpg

When I asked him why the owner of some unique and valuable car would choose an Australian builder to make it the best of its kind in the world, he shrugged his shoulders as if he had no idea. But it is clear that during his time as a student in the University of Hard Knocks, ‘working on chassis modifications and that sort of thing’, he knew what was going to work on a race track, and what was not. He applied his knowledge and science in making racing cars that would handle exactly as they should, would conform to all provenance requirements, and be strong and reliable.  
Modesty aside, he does admit that “Somewhere in the world, someone is talking about me.”  

Our other photos show a Type 57 Sc Bugatti from 1938 under restoration in Graham’s workshop. It came from America, but is now owned by a Queensland businessman.  (Below) 

bugatti_atalante_2_S.jpg bugatti_atalante_1_S.jpg
His first successful race car was the J2 Allard (ex Stan Jones).  He had built several replica Allards before there was ever a chance of owning a real one.  So he borrowed Stan Jones’s car to make a copy.  People occasionally mistook one of his replicas for the real thing and swore that they had seen some stranger driving Stan’s car.
As well as the Allard, ( see http://www.motorsnippets.com/news_item.asp?articleid=492) Graham also owns a formula 5000 March which he raced in New Zealand.  It has a 5 Litre Chevrolet engine.  It came 16th in the New Zealand championship where formula 5000 is very big and full on.
I asked him what were his worst moments in car racing.  He answered, “I haven’t had what I would call a worst moment in racing.  However, I sometimes feel that I have had an endless stream of  bad luck – blown clutch, chewed cams, and the like.”
At the Australian Grand Prix during March this year, the Allard and the Ferrari were both part of the carnival. 

The Ardun motor in the Allard had the wrong kind of metal in the cams with the result that they destroyed themselves and spread slurry through the entire engine, which of course had to be rebuilt. (Right)  In another recent incident a ceramic element had been used in the clutch, and its unexpected strength proved too much for the rest of the transmission, and so considerable damage was done.
However, it’s not always bad luck.  At the Grand Prix, the Ferrari owner had to leave suddenly for Queensland, so Graham got to drive the car.
“Something always comes up.”

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Le fait que Graham Smith commençait sa carrière en auto sport avec les motos a eu une importance signifiante sur son succès en emballant et en reconstituant les voitures historiques. 
Il a emballé une Norton Dominateur et une TZ 750 Yamaha.  “La TZ 750 était la modèle Grand Prix qui de 1974 a 1982  gagnait le Daytona 200 14 fois.  “Si le TZ vous vidait sur la terre, vous ne vous lèveriez pas,” dit-il.
Après 15 années d’expérience et de succès en Australie et en Nouvelle Zélande, il a décidé qu'il était trop vieux pour continuer avec les motos.  Il a décidé de reconstituer des voitures, fonctionnant de son atelier de réparations de panneau dans Torquay, sur la Surf Coast de Victoria.
Il n'était pas longtemps avant que les affaires aient commencé à se développer, malgré le fait qu’il n'a jamais fait de publicité. Pourtant il a reconstitue des voitures historiques les plus fines du monde s, y compris la ex-Phil Hill  Ferrari Monza montrée en nos photos. Pendant le carnaval du Grand Prix à Melbourne le mois dernier, cette voiture a attire des foules d’admirateurs, et une équipe de télévision allemande envoyait des images à travers le monde. 
Quand je lui ai demandé pourquoi le propriétaire d'une certaine voiture unique et valable choisirait un constructeur australien pour en faire la meilleure de sa sorte dans le monde, il a gesticulé comme s’il n'avait aucune idée. Mais il est clair que pendant son temps en tant qu'étudiant à l'Université des Coups Durs, travaillant aux modifications de châssis des motos, il a su ce qui marcherait dans une voiture de course, et ce qui ne marcherait pas. Il a appliqué sa connaissance et science à faire marcher les voitures de compétition exactement comme elles devraient faire – vites, fortes et victorieuses. 

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