2020-Australia’s Fastest Car

The question of Australia’s fastest car was to be decided when the BP sponsored Australian Speed Records were scheduled to be conducted at Coonabarabran in central NSW on 28 September 1957. Incredibly the course selected consisted of a four mile stretch of narrow tree lined country road linking Coonabarabran with Coonamble via Baradine.


A mere week before the event Abrahams and Gray decided to fit a new Chevrolet Corvette engine into the Tornado. The Corvette engine was adapted to the Ford gearbox and a new fuel injection system was fabricated and installed. On the way from Melbourne to Coonabarabran the Tornado was unloded from its trailer and driven over 200 miles of country road to run it in!


For the speed attempt the Tornado was fitted with a 3:1 final drive ratio and 19 inch wheels with 5.25 inch wide tyres. The team were hoping for over 160 mph but magneto issues limited revs to 5300rpm. It was then decided to fit a lower 2.8:1 ratio differential to reduce revs.


On Sunday 28 September 1957 Ted Gray streaked down the road hitting 157.53mph, a new Australian record achieved with hastily fitted Chevrolet power. First prize for this monumental achievement was £275. The Tornado continued racing into the 1960s becoming increasingly less competitive, but survives to this day as a reminder of Aussie ingenuity and know how.


Tim Perrin




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