1969 MRC MkII Repco-Brabham 5 Litre V8
Queenslander Lionel Ayres became synonymous with big sports car racing in the seventies, but his history in motor sport dates back to 1952. Born in 1931, Ayers purchased his first race car in 1952 from Sydney, an MG TC. Soon after, he entered the car in the Strathpine Airstrip ¼ mile sprints organised by the Queensland Motor Sporting Club. On the 21st November 1952 he became the under 1500cc sports car record holder. Many more records followed during the 1953 – 1955 period. The TC was replaced by a TD which was replaced again with a TD Mk II. Ayres soon realised it was quite time consuming to convert existing road cars into proper race cars. His next project involved purchasing a wrecked MG TC and an MG TB in 1954 and building a ‘proper race car’ out of the two cars. During the next couple of years Ayres successfully raced this MG TC all over Australia. When the MG TF was released, he was able to source a new 1500cc engine and crankshaft from the MG agents in Brisbane and that engine was put into the TC. Ayres continued having success racing his heavily modified TC and in 1958 he entered the car in the Bathurst 100 and ended up winning its class. Time had come to retire the TC and over the next few years Ayres raced a single seat Cooper MG and a Lotus 20 FJ.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s Rennmax Engineering, based in Sydney, owned and run by Bob Britton, was one of Australia’s leading sports racing and open wheel racing cars builders. He was responsible for a series of highly competitive designs, most of which were using components of existing cars from overseas manufacturers such as Cooper and Lotus.
In 1966 Lionel Ayres raced his first Rennmax built car, a replica of the Lotus 23. Ayres had established his own company, Motor Racing Components (MRC), which prepared his cars and part assembled them in Brisbane. Whilst the car was built by Rennmax, it was modified by MRC to suit Ayres’ requirements and it was subsequently raced as an MRC Lotus 23B.
Following the MRC Lotus 23B was the MRC Mk II, which had a custom built space frame chassis and was powered by a Traco-Oldsmobile alloy block engine with a 4.6 litre capacity. The final Rennmax built car raced by Ayres was the Rennmax Repco in 1972, which used the Repco 740 Series 5 litre V8 engine and Hewland DG300 gearbox from the MRC Mk II. He later entered the historic arena racing in Group N and restored the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale the 1968 MRC Mk II.
It is understood the chassis of this car was designed by Rennmax’ Bob Britton in conjunction with MRC who subsequently completed the car to Lionel Ayers specific requirements. The first engine for the MRC Mk II was sourced from the United States and it has an interesting history in its own right! In 1965 Jack Nethercutt II built a custom racing car in the US, the Mirage. It was designed to run in the Can Am series. It was strikingly beautiful, but development had taken too long and by the time it was finished it was no longer competitive. Interestingly the Mirage was test driven by Ken Miles. The car was powered by a 8-cylinder, 4600cc Traco-Oldsmobile engine with 4 Weber carburettors. When the Mirage was dismantled Ayres purchased the engine for his MRC Mk II.
The body was purchased from McLaren. It was the same body shell as used on the McLaren Elva Mark II. Fitting the body onto the MRC MKII wasn’t straight forward. The MRC Mk II was wider, so to solve this problem Ayres cut the body in half (length wise) and inserted a 4-5” strip to widen the body.
The original CAMS logbook on file, which was issued on the 21st October 1968, shows the car’s first outing was at the Surfers Paradise International Raceway on the 26th October 1968. On its second outing on the 23rd November 1968 at Lakeside, Ayres achieved his first win in the car. The car was raced regularly through until May 1969 and it achieved regular success.
Ayres needed more power and there was very little that could be done to develop the Traco-Oldmobile engine further. He decided to purchase a new engine for the car. He found what he was looking for in his back yard and opted for an Australian built 8 cylinder 5 litre fuel injected Repco engine. It produced 467 bhp, was lighter and due to the fuel injection system, more responsive. The new power plant totally transformed the car.
By November 1969 the MRC Mk II was back on the race track with its new engine. The car achieved regular success in 1970 winning a number of races. A highlight was in July 1970 at Lakeside where the car won and set a new outright lap record of 54.7 seconds.
Ayres had a very successful Australian Sports Car Championship season with the MRC Mk II in 1971. He finished first in round 1 at Philip Island, second at Warwick Farm, fourth at Wanneroo Park and second again at Mallala. Ayres finished a close second in the championship to John Harvey driving the Bob Jane Racing McLaren M6 Repco. Harvey finished on 29 points and Ayres 26 points both well ahead of the rest of the field.
In 1972 the MRC Mk II was retired from racing. Ayres sold the car to Dennis Geary, less the engine, as a road project car. Sometime later the car was sold to Gavin Sala, but under his ownership it never turned a wheel.
The current owner purchased the car in 1996, when he found it in a garage, complete with a Repco engine. The car (but not the body) had been saved by an enthusiast when its life as a static display had come to an end. Fortunately the chassis was in a very good condition. It still had the original chassis paint and no rust at all. The rest of the car was a complete basket case, including the Repco engine.
The current owner embarked on a journey to completely restore the car. It turned out to be a 7 year journey. The engine was in need of a complete rebuild and some parts needed to be either sourced or even remanufactured. The current owner entrusted the task to former long term Repco employee and engine guru Don Halpin. He couldn’t have found a better person! When Halpin was finished with the engine it was as good, or maybe even better than the day it first left the Repco factory.
The next challenge was the body. There was nothing left of the original body. Using a wide variety of images, a buck was fabricated to create a mould. The body was then laid up in strand matt and polyester exactly the way the original was manufactured. It took two years of hard work to create the body. During the process the current owner managed to contact Lionel Ayers who supplied him with a tin of the original blue paint used for the stripe on the car!
The wheels were another story. Fortunately, Ayers had kept the original castings for the wheels and was willing to share those with the current owner. A new set of magnesium wheels were made.
Once the car was completed the current owner had it CAMS certified. A new logbook was issued on July 7th 2005. The certificate of description as well as the log book are on file.
Since the MRC Mk II was restored it has been regularly used at various events all around Australia up until 2009. In recent years the car has been sparingly used.
The current owner has now decided to sell the car and give its next custodian the opportunity to enjoy the ownership of a fabulous sports racing car. He is a true car enthusiast and has committed to a full handover to its new owner.
A full set of body moulds, a number of spare wheels, wheel moulds, some miscellaneous spare parts and an excellent history file will accompany the car.
The MRC Mk II is a unique piece of Australian motor racing history and needless to say it attracts a lot of attention wherever it goes.
- Unique Australian designed and built sports racing car.
- Powered by a rare Repco-Brabham 5 litre V8 engine.
- Completely restored to original specifications.
- CAMS log book.
- Well maintained by its current owner.
- MRC MkII Repco Brabham
- Race Car