20 Nov 2013

Racing at Killarney 1974 and other stuff

Way back in 1974 I went to Cape Town,South Africa on business trip for a few weeks and one Saturday afternoon drove out to the local race circuit-Killarney.There I photographed this rare sight-a Jaguar XJ6 racing -with Table Mountain neatly placed in the distance.I cannot remember any details of the races I saw that day except that it was club racing.
At that time South Africa had very high duties and restrictions on importing fully built up cars so most cars were either manufactured in South Africa or assembled from CKD (completely knocked down ) kits.This XJ6 would have been locally assembled.

Leyland South Africa which I was visiting loaned me an Austin Apache to use for my stay.The Apache was a locally manufactured version of the British Austin 1300 with an extended bonnet and boot made from Triumph Toledo sheetmetal.It sounds appalling -and it was.It really was an ugly car. It was also made in Spain and sold under the name Austin Victoria(!).

Photos from Wikipedia.

The example I drove had an AP automatic gearbox made by Automotive Products of Leamington Spa in the UK .It was quite advanced in that it was 4 speed and very compact as like the manual gearbox it had to fit into the sump of the tranverse engined Mini and the Austin/Morris 1100/1300 .However as launched it had an achilles heel in that it had no "P" position.If you parked on a slope/hill you were totally reliant on the handbrake to stop the car rolling.The A series engine was pretty puny in terms of power and when coupled to an automatic driving the Apache hard around Cape Town was a slow and noisy experience.
The AP gearbox did get a "P" position later on and I believe that it lived on right upto 1990.

The photo was taken on Ektachrome slide film on a little Olympus Pen half frame camera which took 72 photos on what was normally a 36 exposure 35mm film.The camera was very capable as you can see from the quality of this scan from a tiny transparency.The problem with half frame was that you held the camera the wrong way round.The camera was held upright for horizontal shots and horizontally for upright shots.Both confusing and inconvenient.

I clearly remember that I arrived in Cape Town on a Saturday morning and after I settled into the hotel I was down in the local shopping strip visiting a bank to cash some travellers cheques when I saw a bus pulling away from a bus stop.It had two doors one labelled-"whites only" and the other "coloureds only".Now I obviously knew about apartheid at the time but to see what it meant in reality really hit me hard.

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