Paul Schilling's Buchanan Cobra
BUCHANAN COBRA 1959/61
Body Number 003
Researched and written by Paul SCHILLING.
This is the history of a Buchanan Cobra, which came into my possession in July of 2004; it is body number 3, with a serial number of 12161. This car is one of an apparent seven cars produced between 1958 and 1961 initially by Nat Buchanan in conjunction with Pressed Metal Corp Ltd who built the box section chassis and later by J&S Fiberglass Sales. They were all built in New South Wales.
The business went belly up probably early 1960 with the introduction of the Bug Eye Austin Healy Sprite, which was marginally cheaper and faster.
The business was taken over by J&S Fiberglass sales probably in 1960 or 61 and they completed the remaining bodies already commenced by Nat Buchanan.
The vehicle had been owned and stored by an associate of mine one John Bradbury of Templestowe since he acquired it from Duttons Car sales early in 1995. The engine had been stripped down after a camshaft failure shortly after John acquired the car and John was intent on getting the rebuild done at the expense of the original engine builder.
The block, head and parts sat under the Bench(es) at Tate Engines in Queen Street Hawthorn and later at Metropolitan Avenue at Blackburn for about 8 years as a civil action against the engine builder finally lapsed. The Cobra and another vehicle acquired by John at the same time as the Cobra sat in his garages through three house moves until both cars were purchased by myself in July of 2004.
The first record that I could find of this car since it completion sometime between 1959 to 1961 was that it had found its way into the hands of a person named Wayne Fletcher of Queenbean A.C.T. some time in 1983. The car had the build number of 003 on an identification plate attached to the fiberglass firewall.
At the time the vehicle was discovered by Fletcher sometime in 1983, this Buchanan Cobra had acquired a Datsun 1500cc motor and 4 speed gear box and had a radiator sticking up through large hole in the front panel and was being used by a couple of boys somewhere in Queenbean as a paddock bomb.
Fletcher then acquired the Buchanan for an undisclosed amount and took it home to begin a restoration. During the course of restoration Fletcher fitted the Standard ten mechanicals and a motor of 994 ccs and the Cobra was once again in a running condition. It was not known what mechanicals were fitted to the car prior being converted to a paddock bomb with the Datsun mechanicals
Enter one Richard. G. ROSE sometime in 1985/86 who resided in Maroubra in New South Wales who had heard about this Buchanan Cobra through an unidentified source and decided to purchase it for the purpose of developing it into a racing car to race in Historic classes in N.S.W. He purchased the vehicle sometime in 1985/6.
I have spoken to Richard Rose on a number of occasions since obtaining possession of the Cobra and he has provided the early history of the car.
The Buchanan Cobra was duly restored by Richard and acquired a Historic Log book number V6867 from C.A.M.S. on the 7.8.1987 as a Category 5 Group LA vehicle.
Richard ran the Buchanan with the 994 cc Standard ten motors until 1991 when he fitted the 1147cc motor.
The history is a little vague at this stage as the N.H Buchanan Motor Co Pty. Ltd. closed down in about 1960/61 and was bought out by J&S Fiberglass of 287 Ramsay Road Haberfield in NSW. Nat Buchanan had finished at least 2 cobras and J&S continued to complete the remaining cobras to make 7 in all completed.
J&S also completed the other Buchanan bodies for the Buchanan Holdens and the M.G. chassis cars of which about 135 bodies were completed by Nat Buchanan and later J&S Fibreglass.
Three of the seven Cobras have also been identified as remaining, one is in New Zealand and was recently sold on E-Bay for $3000.00 NZ in bits and having been converted at some time to Jaguar XJ6 mechanicals, at the time of writing this car is still in bits and very unlikely to proceed much further.
The other Cobra is in NSW in the hands of a “collector” who also collects Lloyd Alexanders and other exotic collections of cars, bits and pieces and this car is probably destined to remain as an ongoing project much like the Cobra in N.Z.
Richard Rose raced the Cobra in 994cc capacity until 1991 when his research disclosed the J&S Fibreglass completed the remainder of Cobras with the 1147 Triumph Herald motors and twin S.U carburetors.
A letter from the Factory Manager Richard Maryland indicated the later fitment of the 1147cc Triumph Herald motors and twin S.U. carburetors.
I have not been able to ascertain just when J&S Fibreglass acquired the remaining Buchanan bodies and the uncompleted Cobras.
J & S Fibreglass when into liquidation in 1980 and I am unable to locate another company of the same name to this day.
I am not able to say with any accuracy, which Buchanan Cobras, how many or them or the body numbers of them, were built by J&S Fiberglass, or at what year this endeavor began and was completed. I am however able to say that the Buchanan Cobra model which apparently consisted of seven vehicles being build, over a period from 1959 to 1961 and at some stage the model acquired the 1147cc Triumph Herald motors with twin S.U carburetors.
Nat Buchanan provided one completed Cobra registration number NSW BMG-000 for road testing in September of 1958 by Modern Motor magazine He later went on to provide another car, registered number BMG111 for road test by Sports Car World in May of 1959.
Another road test was conducted by the Great Australian Sports Cars and Specials, magazine on the same car registered number BMG111 and this article makes mention of the fitting of the larger Triumph Herald engine to the Buchanan Cobra. It is not clear when this article was written but it is clear that it was written after the fitment of the larger 1147 motors.
I am a member of the Victorian Racing Register and as such have been campaigning the Cobra in historic events in Victoria since early 2005 and enjoying some success with it in Regularity, Hill Climbs, and Sprints etc. It is a great little car and with the 1147 cc motor it is quite rapid and regularly give M.G.s TCs As and Bs and Austin Healy Sprites a run for their money.
The car has a current CAMS historic log book in Group SA. Production Sports Cars.
quote "The other Cobra is in NSW in the hands of a “collector” who also collects Lloyd Alexanders and other exotic collections of cars, bits and pieces and this car is probably destined to remain as an ongoing project much like the Cobra in N.Z."
huh...Lloyd alexanders...where did you get that...never owned one...
although I had looked at buying one..but it was not strange enough as a micro car...
is this referring to my car or body no 1 you mentioned on Buchanan site
and if it is car no 1 ,after our discussions about our cars,then you must have missed my car from your list..
as you know i put you onto the owner of car no 1 and he did not discuss owning lloyds to me...which i think he would when I told him I was into micro cars.
although you mentioning Lloyd Alexanders makes me feel you refer to a micro car enthusiast. [perhaps me]
[no 1 is well on its way to going by the photos he showed me,so thats why I am assuming your reference is to me]
well if you are infact referring to me then regards it "destined to remain as an ongoing project" ...I think that's my prerogative, although my health is stuffed [threat of lungs transplant,scares me to restore anything now], the decision has been made to continue with it as it gives me more pleasure than my beloved micro cars .
the fellow I had lined up a few years ago to restore the chassis,is retiring and has now contacted me to work on the chassis in a few months...if this does eventuate then it will be a work in progress.
and whether I choose to restore it or not is up to me, considering I have probably Australias most iconic Sports car fully restored by myself [ long finished probably 15 years ago] and has been driven with full rego and later club rego..a Goggo dart,with the incredibly rare clamshell hard top.
Not only that I have another lessor known Aussie sports car..a Lightburn Zeta Sports ,so have three Aussie Sports cars..and hence testament to my love of Aussie fibreglass production sportscars...and would like to own more,and I actually prefer cars as is and not restored..you can see shiny cars at any car show..eventually it becomes tedious..there is something about seeing a car as it was found..far more exiting.
The original Foster car museum being testament to that...far more exiting than shiny "better than new" cars.
My love of fibreglas production cars extends to my Bond Equipe and a collection weird and wonderful micros..
and yet due to my health I have been selling off some of my collection, with the intent to keep my three Aussie Sports cars and my Bond Equipe.
and its my right to do what I want.Do you not agree.
although this is responce is "tongue in cheek" I get the feeling that some information is scrambled..maybe.
I had a wanted advert on the triumph site for owners of Buchanan Cobras and another for Bond Equipe owners..and had responce from owner of no 1 ,and I think I got your details from the fellow at the buchanan site.
the internet is truley a small place.
so how are you Paul?
Last edited by buchanan cobra; 10-03-2008 at 04:16 AM.
I havn't heard from you for quite a while, I hope that you are travelling well as you can with the problems that you have.
I am travelling well and having a ball with the cobra, I have just rerturned from Phillip Island from our historic event and tommorow we are off to Rob Roy for the Ïnternational Hill Climb event.
I am very pleased to see that you are going to do some work on number 1.
Is there any thing that you need for it?
I may be able to help out. I unloaded a lot of 994 engines and parts on EBay a couple of months ago but I still have some useful bits that may be of some use to you.
You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
great to hear from you
but see my rantings above are to prove the point that some of the current information is perhaps mixed up..or we both are mixed up?
I was the guy who your friend was asking if i would sell my car,as I was downsizing my collection of other cars,needless to say my sportscars were not for sale.
I do not own number 1 .. I am the guy with the micro cars.
The guy with number 1 who I put in contact with you a couple of years ago..I dont believe he owns micro cars.just number 1 and a dato.
[But I will keep him and his details anonymous,though i do know he asked me to exchange his details originally with you..and I guess you have spoken.]
and his car is almost finished back then,,ie he told me his car was 95% complete and 60% finished.looked good in photos and I envy him.as you.
his was the only other one that I knew had original windscreen like mine..
as regards the photo of number one on the site,that is not like the photos he had sent me,unless that was a before shot????which it could have been.
His car is definately in new paint a few years ago.But each of his shots were of seperate pieces so he might have had only this before shot to show it complete although he said he had to make a bonnet from scratch [his was missing] where that one seems to have its bonnet..which makes me think its not his car ie not number one.
and its definately not my car [who is the micro car guy.]
His car had just had the chassis finished and his body was already painted...
mine is stripped of all paint and chassis is rusty.And none of thiose photos are of my car.
but the exciting thing was at a swap meet I met a fellow browsing my morris stuff,who by luck I had mentioned I had a Cobra...in which he imediately said he owned one years ago and still had the badges..he wanted some morris stuff so we did a trade a few weeks later,,he got something he needed for his mini and I got two badges in mint condition..a round badge and the Cobra script..I bet not many have those now..he had kept them for years and only parted with them when he found someone with a Cobra..otherwise he was keeping them..I'm not sure if he said he had owned the car from new or from early days..I had another friend who had various sportscars over the years who also claimed to have owned a cobra.
And my car is non of those featured in the photo lineup on Buchanan site.
Although a few years ago I did contact that site and was put in touch with you. At the time he did not have a register for Cobras.
hope this makes the plot thicken..
cheers rusty..car and person
Last edited by buchanan cobra; 11-03-2008 at 10:59 AM. Reason: typing errors
mine's bigger than yours
Its me Brian the owner of the other Buchanan Cobra body 001. I bought it from the son of the man who bought it new in 1958 back in 1984-85
Yes I did have to make a bonnet. The son was putting in a fiat 124 sports motor in it and sent the bonnet off to have scoops put in. He then forgot about the project and lost interest.
I had the Datsun 1200 ute with the toyota 4age 1600 in it.
I have since got myself a Nissan Gti-R pulsar as a daily driver and 2 weeks ago got a 1968 Rolls Royce.
The car is basically together and possibly awaiting my retirement to race historically ( another 9 years) I would like a new wiring loom (same as morris 1100) any ideas? I manage to secure a g/box with a remote shifter. The body has also the engine number on it and I have the original engine so I could eventually work out the cc (998 I think)
email me if you like
Last edited by Normo; 05-06-2008 at 08:39 PM. Reason: spelling mistakes
oh thank heavens you found this thread brian
I thought I was imagining talking to you..tee hee.
yes mate I didnt want people to confuse "No 1" with my car...
being your car is the first made and is very close to being restored.and mine is not.
and the information for these cars is a little confused...
and also didnt want people to think our cars were to languish unrestored.
It seems my car has remained neglected from the Buchanan website..[which I much prefer, I really dont like the idea of car registers],but I do like to put any misconceptions right, seeing that the internet is now revealing all about everyone, so at least any info should be righted. the internet is really a small world, and it seems any mistakes become fact if not righted.
As it is I see Pauls car as an exiting car being perhaps the first we know to be put back on the track...it looks great, and certainly helps inspire me to continue towards completing mine, and the photos of yours Brian certainly do the same, and with yours I can see closer to what mine could look like being yours is a road car with windscreen,
Certainly the windsreen changes the looks somewhat, with Pauls sitting low, but without an original windscreen it looks very sleek,
obviously the windscreen and higher stance of a roadcar would bring it more inline with midgets and sprites, for those not sure of its stance as a road car.
Well good,now it's established that No 1 is not mine [the micro car guy], but brian's the dato guy.
Mine is a late model and as such may or may not have had the herald motor?
Brian there is a guy making new looms for all cars in aussie, he used to be in baulkham hills but has moved up north somewhere, i think he had a name like Vintage Wiring Looms, he would have one, If you remember I was heavily into morris 1000s so have contact through those...
but being a 59 car it's more likely the loom was Morry 1000, not 1100 as 1100s were not made at that time...its more likely from an earlier car than morry 1100...many of these looms are available overseas too.
The thing is the 1000 has a single speedo but the cobra has two dials and the closest i have come too is wolseley 1500 which is what i am going to use in mine as it is correct diameter.
I would like a new loom, the reason I said morris 1100 was that the British were not ones for making changes. The guy who sprayed my car back in 1989 cut the loom and whilst it was dragging on the ground wheeled the car over the blinker switch. I owned a motor wreckers in Campbelltown at the time and the morris 1100's had the exact same switch and same coloured wires going to the switch. no matter what I would like new wiring for reliability. Did you see the Shelby Cobra forum in the states. I wrote that I believed I owned the world's first Cobra and it wasn't named by Shelby. Boy were they upset.
Anyhoo lets help keep the links alive and the word out on Buchanans.
yea.... i was the other guy on your thread that was extolling the virtues of the buchanan...under the same moniker as here
by the way i think you will find the blinker switch on the 1100 is the same as the morris 1000 . it was common on minor 1000, and mini as well
I wouldnt be surprised if this switch wasnt used on Triumphs anyway..as it was a common switch then.
that reminds me Paul or Brian, my car has an early minor keyway steering column unceremoniously connected to the standard 10 steering shaft, what [upper?] column is correct..standard 10 or morris minor
I say this as Brian, that blinker switch on morris cars was connected only too splined steering columns,.
G'day Buchanan Cobra,
I'm the bloke who runs the Buchanan website. www.buchanmotorcompany.com
Apologies if I neglected your car on there, I lost my hardrive a few years ago and haven't recovered all the pictures that may have been sent to me yet. I would love to include your car and any details, I know you may be adverse to this, but I would like to make sure I have my facts correct and include all the cars still in existance.
The red car pictured was owned by a member of the Kempsey car club back in the 1960's, Chris Seam sent me photos. I have also come across details of chassis number 8, it seems the owner of it even took a mould of his car and built up a few more bodies in the 1960's. Details here under the "Feeling Old" heading http://www.clubmansqld.org/newslette...tter-Jul01.pdf
I am scanning in all the road tests and articles on the Buchanan Cobras and should have them up in the next few days.
I was fortunate to be contacted by Nat Buchanan's nephew last year. He sent me a brand new original Buchanan Cobra badge his uncle Nat had given him.
Any info from owners or ex-owners on the cars would be most appreciated.
ex John Reaburn Buchanan Holden
Last edited by Buchanan Holden; 05-01-2009 at 10:20 AM.
nice to hear from you
thanks to paul we are now starting to get a few buchanan people talking on here.
yes we spoke previously via email
i too found that info, on chassis number 8 a while ago on that same website..it was an interesting read,
yes it is true I am adverse to registers [well not the idea just like to be a little more private i guess although it does seem I talk a lot hee hee]
i am on the goggomobil register, messerschmitt register and the skoda register [yes i have skodas and if i had money I shoud have bought that skoda powered buchanan recently]but on these registers I dont actually have any personal details about my individual cars..just dont like it bandied around..maybe that will change once I restore the car?
no you haven't neglected my car as I hadn't supplied you photos, and at the time you had no info on the website for cobras...so no problems...you didnt do anything wrong.
you did give me pauls details back then which I thank you for.
Pauls car is inspiring and so is what I have seen of car no 1,
so I hope to have my car done one day, if my health allows...of all my cars it is my buch cobra and my bond equipe I hope to drive in future ,and also my Lightburn Zetasports...along with my restored goggo dart, then I could let the others go..perhaps tee hee.
I will keep in contact with you in future though..
thanking paul for this cobra liason on his thread...cheers mate.