The Story of Silver Wings

Page 6

For any other car, a long retirement should have been in the offing. The much travelled Chrysler was now the toast of Australian motor racing.

However, Attwood and Colliver's racing career had just begun.

At a hill climb event at Red Hill near Perth, the Chrysler took six seconds off the record with a Bugatti settling for second place.

Record-breaking captured the public imagination and the Chrysler's 24 hour record did not last long. Wizard Smith noted the advantages of Lake Perkolilli and drove a new Studebaker Commander roadster all the way from Sydney to Kalgoorlie. At Lake Perkolilli, he then took 38 minutes off the 1000 mile record and averaged 70.88 miles per hour for 24 hours. He then raced the Studebaker from Perth to Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane covering 3,000 miles in six days three hours and 32 minutes, breaking every record along the way.

In 1928, the Perkolilli races were sanctioned as a national event with the main race on the program the Australian Championship Motor Car Race. The Chrysler had been rebuilt for the race. Gone were the spare tyres keeping weight down on the rear of the car. A new aluminium boat-tail body gave the car the appearance of a serious racer. The Chrysler became known as "Silver Wings", no doubt a reference to the car's radiator cap in the shape of a Viking helmet with the wings of Mercury and the slender polished aluminium boat-tail body.

Only cars which qualified at over 75 miles per hour were included in the Australian championships. Once again, Colliver's main competition was a Bugatti. Jack Smith's Bugatti jumped Silver Wings at the start but as the big car got wound up it passed the Bugatti with ease and was never headed. The new look Chrysler lapped at up to 88 miles per hour. The crowds mobbed Colliver after the 50 mile race.

With nothing to lose, Colliver again put the car in the 20 mile State Championship. This time he lapped the course at 92.3 miles per hour. The newspapers again hailed the effort, claiming that the drive certainly created an Australian dirt track record speed, if not a world record. Certainly, the only faster Chrysler in the world at the time was a highly developed car driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell at Brooklands in the United Kingdom which topped 100 miles per hour on the banked circuit.

Colliver returned to Lake Perkolilli again in 1929. This time his main competition was to be an Auburn speedster. Colliver led from the start and began to pass the back markers on the eighth lap.

"He was leading by two or three hundred yards and travelling at nearly 100 m.p.h. when in lapping another competitor he was obliged to swing wide. This, coupled with the fact that he was then driving in a dense cloud of dust, caused him to run off the track momentarily, turn completely around a couple of times and come to rest with his engine stalled. By the time he had regained the track, the Auburn was too far in the lead to be recaught."

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