Voice of #F1 Fans: Tonka toys and 4 wheel drive F1 cars


Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Oddball

Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.

I have a a confession…’my name is Oddball and I’m an addict’

The sun is blazing down and my arm is thrust deep into the bowels of my latest purchase. Behind me are once unloved machines of yesteryear, bought back to life by me but for now cast asunder as the new addition needs some love.

You see like many people, I have a passion for machines. If it makes a bang and moves then its a must have and this latest fume belching monster is making my day.

She – BTW why are all my toys called girls?..  I told you I had a problem.. – had a drinking problems but after a rebuilt fuel pump, she’s now purring like a kitten; but a kitten weighing in at 4 tonnes and smoking twenty a day. Yes TJ13 is about F1, bear with me and I’ll get to the point – eventually.

She – is a David brown 995 tractor from 1971, I pulled her out of a life of shifting pig swill into a nice heated garage and now she is gleaming in the sun.’oh sh#@ is that oil?’

Bow this isn’t my usual kind of purchase as most of my ‘girls’ normally have more sculpted bodies and are less field pluggers and more movies stars. But there was something I need from Mr. Brown’s creation because under her rather thick skin is hidden a secret. This particular lady shares some habits with older Aston Martin’s – drinking heavily and occasionally wetting herself but all this aside – David Brown of Aston fame had a knack of making fantastic gearboxes my latest pride and joy is a fine example of his designs and ideas. This box changes cogs like nothing I have seen, even the Ferrari of this year would be hard pressed to beat the shift in this agricultural machine and now it’s getting the attention it deserves.

Currently in Formula One, we have 21st century state of the art gearboxes that mostly last a whole 5 races – some 1500 miles give or take 100. By contrast, I have a 40 year old machine that’s spent its life outside, probably never even had a change of oil change, and been abused at the uncaring hands of a Derbyshire farmer – yet she still she moves like a Swiss watch.

Old Mr Brown would be proud but he wasn’t the proprietor of the only tractor company to enter into motor sports, given Lamborghini’s heritage and the mostly forgotten work done by Ferguson. Yes, the maker of the red machines you see out in the fields today also dipped their toe into the world of high octane fun.

Fred Dixon and Tony Rolt considered the possibility of using 4WD in circuit racing, and with Ferguson keen to promote the transmission systems of his tractor firm work began on the P99 in 1960. With a 50–50 torque distribution front to rear the car, Claude Hill’s design was built to have an even weight distribution over both axles. This meant the positioning of the gearbox necessitated a front-engined design but inn F1 Coopers and Lotus were beginning to have success with the now normative mid-engined car design.

But the real killer for the 4WD project, which was nearing its completion, was a decision by F1’s governing body to reduce the size of F1 engines by 40% making the extra weight of the 4WD transmission a much bigger penalty. Nevertheless the team persevered and fitted a standard 1.5-litre Climax 4-cylinder engine, mounted at a slant to make room for the front drive-shaft. In addition the driving position was moved slightly off-centre to accommodate the gearbox and rear drive shaft to the driver’s left hand side.

The car was first raced in the 1961 British Empire Trophy, where Rob Walker put Jack Fairman in the car, but this turned out to be a bad move as Fairman crashed on lap 2. In the British GP at Aintree, Fairman drove the car again, but in act which to modern drivers would appear absurd, Fairman surrendered his car to Stirling Moss after his Lotus 18 failed. The car was unfortunately disqualified for outside assistance on lap 56.

The P99’s last major F1 outing was a fitting end as Moss drove it to victory at Moulton Park. In February 1963, the car, having been fitted with a 2.5-litre Climax engine, was driven by non other than Graham Hill in the Australian GP and the Lakeside International placing sixth and second. This unique racing machine’s final racing action came in the form of a hill climb event in 1964, which she ended by winning the title.

So next time you pass a forgotten machine left rotting in a hedgerow, why not jump on the seat and give the stick a little time. Your heart may beat a tad faster and you will most likely inhale the fumes that are every engineers drug. As I’ve said before, if it moves and makes a noise – we will probably try to race it and even the at the pinnacle of our gazzilionaire sport, we remember it was blue collared at heart.

See also TJ13’s Jenny Mowbray article on the P99: Fergusson’s futuristic F1 four wheel drive 


9 responses to “Voice of #F1 Fans: Tonka toys and 4 wheel drive F1 cars

  1. Thanks Oddball…I really enjoyed that 🙂

    I’m currently putting together a Ford Cosworth DFV…to put into my Lotus 49. Unfortunately it is 1/12 scale and only made of little bits of plastic. I do love how it looks just like the real one…though it does lack sound and the smell of fuel and oil! I had more than a twinge of jealousy with your description of the real thing…but mine will fit in a glass display cabinet which is a possible advantage…at least in suburbia! I would love to be able to drive it though 🙂

    • Thanks Jennie,It doesn’t matter about the size as you can still enjoy all the details of the car and some of the really detailed diecast things are a work of art(gazing at my shelves now and they are littered). The DFV was one of the last engines I worked on in a March 2-4-0. The unit is an absolutely beautiful hunk of metal and I still get goose bumps when one is brought back from its slumber.

  2. Did Tonka use the “an elephant can stand on this toytruck” advert worldwide? I was so impressed, O had to have one. Got the black ‘suv’ (before they were called that) and 35 years later my kids play with it.

    • I have never seen that ad but as for Tonka…I wish that all cars could be made Tonka tough,it might stop the PPI claim guys ringing every 5mins😇

  3. Oddball, enjoyable reading that.
    Jennie, nice to know about your hobby/toys, I too have mine, about sixteen in total, all with smell, fuel and oil, they all run, all made/machined/build by me, some my own design some to others design, all scale models, some from castings some machined from solid stock, just four of them, Pratt & Whitney R-2800 double row 18 cylinder radial 1 inch bore/1-1/8 inch stroke for 260cc, made in 1980 to the design of Samuel K Hodgson Dallas Texas USA, all of it machined from the solid. Wright J-5 Whirlwind 130 cc 9 cylinder radial, from casting and design of Karl Erik Olsryd Sweden, made about 15 years ago. these are both about 12 inches diameter and both air cooled, they are a joy to hear them run. A 95 cc water cooled side valve V8, my own design 1 inch bore/1-1/8 inch stroke, machined from solid, 8 inches long, recently finished. A sweet running water (hopper) cooled hit & miss 1-1/2 inch bore/2 inch stroke, magneto ignition circa 1920 style farm engine, my own design and machined from solid stock.
    Talking of really detailed diecast models, they are a very popular collection were a come from, a lecturer professor close relative of my wife is one of the biggest collectors in Europe, with a really vast collection.

    • That sounds absolutely brill salvuborg, I know that making something in scale is damn tough especially when it’s a working model. I did see a scale Ferrari with a full working v12 and the guy made absolutely everything,the cool bit was the valve springs…biro springs!! Now that’s recycling,you should write a post as I am sure many will enjoy reading.

      • Yeah!
        Although I’m not into die cast models myself (models, I’m ok with – says loyal husband with kids) I really would like such an article. Because everyone Has a passion and I they share it, there’s always a good story.

      • Thank you for the complement, you did not say what model scale FERRARI it was you was talking about, the number one top model replica scale FERRARI in the world is a miniature 1:3 scale 312PB that actually starts and runs, by Pierri Scerri of Avignon France, (watch on you tube) if interested, incredible to see and watch running. I have personally seen this model in person and meet the man himself.
        re the spring, I make/wind my own springs including heat treatment, easer than looking for the right size, I also make my own spark plugs (miniature ones 6mm thread)

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