The “LapreCorn” is back!

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, and in 2019 he brought something special in the form a race car that was virtually home-made by a series of owners.

In early 2019, the Corowa Free Press reported on Terry’s 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.

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.

Earlier in 2022, the LapreCorn made an appearance at the Winton historic meeting in May, with Terry’s daughter Chelsea at the wheel. Unfortunately, a suspension problem cut the car’s appearance short, but Terry has specifically asked if he could bring it to this years Show and Shine. We answered the question with a resounding “Yes please!”

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 legendary Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow, 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.”

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 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.

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

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 though, 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 Australian National Show and Shine on Sunday October 2nd.

.. Ray Read

Picture: The “LapreCorn” with Chelsea Cornelius at Winton.