The “LapreCorn”

Picture: The “LapreCorn” with owner / builder Terry Cornelius.

It looks like a Maserati, has a name that sounds like a small Irish fairy, and has been over sixty years in the making.

Corowa motor racing enthusiast Terry Cornelius has been a long-standing supporter of the Australian National Show and Shine Euroa, displaying a variety of vintage racing cars, but this year he has something very special to offer.

Recently, the Corowa Free Press reported on Terry’s latest project.

“A long-time historic and speedway racer, Terry said this ‘grey’ Holden engined special was laid down by prominent special builder Don Lapham of Orange. Don had big plans for his creation, but the project stalled indefinitely prior to 1960. By that stage, it was a well formed tubular chassis with its suspension and steering principles and drive-line in place,”

Sydney’s Tony Skinner became its next owner, but no further progress was made until Terry acquired the rolling chassis in 1990, and in spite of its progress remaining stalled for a further extended period, good strides have been made in recent times.

Early during Terry’s ownership, a letter was sent to the Confederation of Motor Sport (CAMS), which included a supporting one from Don Lapham (since deceased) outlining the unique circumstances of the vehicle’s progress (or lack of) prior to 1960.

“CAMS came back with a ruling that providing the project progressed in the spirit in which it was begun, then a pre-1960 log book would be granted,” Terry said. “The car bears a striking resemblance to a 250F Maserati.”

The chassis is of a tubular space frame construction, incorporating a 'Grey' Holden engine with triple SU carburettors adapted to a Singer Nine 4-spd gearbox driving a heavily modified Holden differential centre which supports early Holden brakes mounted inboard. Rear suspension is via a transverse spring with modified FC Holden (front) lower control arms and employing made-up uprights.

At the front is another transverse leaf spring (Peugeot) with rack and pinion steering sourced from Renault. Its front and rear hubs are Morris Marshal, (or Austin Healey).

One detail not exactly pre-60 is the E Type Jaguar throttle linkage kit sourced from EBay in 2018!

Terry told us about the story behind the car’s intriguing name of “LapreCorn.”

The surname of the original builder was “LAPham”. This was PRE – the current owner, “CORNelius.” So, a combination of parts of these names became Lap (pre) Corn. (Get it?)

With a name which sounds curiously like “Leprecorn”, the legendary Irish fairy who guards the Pot of Gold, it was reasonable that there should be some connection to that name. As a result, Terry devised a logo for the car, consisting of “…a very individual couple of stickers on the sides which signify a tiny Leprechaun where the 3-tiered crown of the Maserati would be.”

Terry said, “The choice of name would come about by marrying the two names of the constructors and the obvious twist was irresistible, hence the reference to the 'Leprechaun-style' logo.”

So, what’s the connection to Maserati?

Having attended the early AGPs at Albert Park in the late fifties together with his father Arthur, Terry had developed a love for the 250F Maserati. Hence the car's unmistakable resemblance to the car that Stirling Moss drove to victory on that memorable occasion.

The Maserati 250F, which was a racing car made by Maserati of Italy used in '2.5 litre' Formula One racing between January 1954 and November 1960. Twenty-six examples were made.

The 250F principally used the SSG 220 bhp (@ 7400 rpm) 2.5-litre Maserati A6 straight-six engine, ribbed 13.4" drum brakes, wishbone independent front suspension and a De Dion tube rear axle.

The 250F first raced in the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix where Juan Manuel Fangio won the first of his two victories before he left for the new Mercedes-Benz team. In 1956 Stirling Moss won the Monaco and Italian Grands Prix, both in a works car.

Stirling Moss later said that the 250F was the best front-engined F1 car he drove.

Shortly after the completion of the LapreCorn, Terry displayed the vehicle at the Winton Historic meeting in May of this year. The application of the 6 cylinder Holden grey engine works perfectly with the theme of the 2.6 litre Maserati A6, although it’s doubtful whether the old grey would have the same power output.

On second thoughts, with a knowledge of Terry’s history and expertise with engines and race cars, perhaps ….

You can see the LapreCorn and chat to Terry about the vehicle at the motor racing stand in Area 5 of the Euroa Show and Shine on Sunday October 6th.

.. Ray Read