Great Vincent Car Surfaces

Loose Fillings hears that the Holinger Vincent is coming up for sale in West Australia where it has been in the hands of Jim Runciman since the early 1980s.

Peter Holinger, with his wife Beverley, built a world-wide business in competition gearboxes. He trained as a machinist at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, and in the mid-1960s played a key role in machining components of the Phil Irving-designed Repco-Brabham V8 engine. He became one of a number of Repco people – Paul England, Ivan Tighe and Keith Young were others – who built Vincent-powered hillclimb and racing cars. Even more were built by other enthusiasts. From 1933 to 1954 give or take a few, some 650 Vincent-HRD motorcycles were sold in Australia and many of these engines found their way onto race tracks, hillclimbs and speedways during the nineteen-sixties.

The Holinger Vincent, a beautifully-built spaceframe car, first appeared unsupercharged in late 1963. It was soon supercharged and its engine stretched to 1400cc, in which form it was competitive with the England and Tighe cars. With the car converted to wider wheels, Holinger set a new outright record at Lakeland hillclimb in1968, but the car never quite achieved an Australian championship and it was retired in 1970. It has never been fitted with a body. Next for Peter, the first of two Holinger-built Repco V8-powered hillclimb cars appeared in 1972, and with these cars Peter won four Australian championships, in 1976, 1978, 1979 and 1988.

Peter Holinger and his Vincent engined car at Silverdale 24 July 1966 according
to Graham Howard’s notes on these photos

Peter was a keen hillclimb exponent and his first car, which was an original design, followed the general path of the time with a Vincent based engine in a very light chassis. This design was almost a continual work in progress from 1963 and in 1965 or 1966 was in supercharged form. As Peter put it, the car was designed to run 1000 yards (the approximate length of most of the local hillclimbs). The car delivered a standing start ¼ mile time of 10.33 seconds and it is not unreasonable to consider this may have been the fastest time then recorded in Australia as It was prior to the establishment of drag racing in the country.

For tyres, Peter utilised a Tasmanian recap on the rear called a Tiger Paw which was not fully cured so it gave a lot of mechanical grip. Post 1966, he began to design and build his Repco V8 engined car and bits of the first car were sold off to a number of parties. Through David Rapley, Jim Runciman managed to purchase the chassis, running gear, and final drive from separate parties and subsequently purchased the engine from Brisbane to where Peter had sold it. The one item missing was the steering rack which had been used in the newer car. Jim says that Peter generously made another steering rack so the car is very near to 100% original.

The Holinger Vincent in Jim Runciman’s workshop

The basic space frame is constructed from chrome-moly tubing which has been nickel-bronze welded. The front and rear suspensions evolved from practice at the time which used twin wishbone front suspension with coil overs and at the rear has a layout which looks very Lotus like. The brakes are drum all round but were subsequently changed to front discs which is outside the CAMS Group M period so Jim has returned these to the original drum configuration at the front. The car is fitted with a ZF pattern limited slip differential and new pawls have been made for this. The original pre ’66 Lynx style wheels are with the car however Jim made patterns, cast and machined new wheel centres and had new aluminium rims spun.

The motor in the current state of tune using a Marshall J100 supercharger produced 165bhp at 6000 rpm in the era. When Jim repurchased the engine, Peter Holinger stripped and reassembled the bottom end and then passed the job of assessing the state of the engine and gearbox to Vincent man Ken Horner. The crankshaft was custom built and the unit was dismantled, reassembled in the crankcase with new main and big end bearings and succesfully test run. The primary drive is fully geared as is the supercharger drive. An electric starter and adaptor have been manufactured by Ken Horner and incorporated into the supercharger drive to simplify starting. The gearbox internals are as made by Peter in the original casing and the gear ratios are designed for car use.

Peter Holinger’s utterly committed hillclimbing style is captured in this Bruce Leeson photo from Silverdale, New South Wales, in 1968. The sole instrument is the tachometer, mounted above the driver’s left foot. The never-bodied car is running its later composite alloy wheels.

The car is currently for sale at $80,000 and Jim Runciman can be contacted at 0419 847888 or runcimans@westnet.com.a

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