Australia’s Oldest race car heads to the US

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Wikner Special LEAD Wikner Special LEAD

The Wikner Ford Special of 1922, to be exhibited by the Model T Ford Club of America

This Wikner Ford Special holds the title of Australia’s oldest race car, and dates back to 1922. In 2013 it was recognised internationally when it was inducted into the Model T Ford Club of America’s Speedster Hall of Fame.

The car recently has made the trans-oceanic voyage to the MTFCA Museum in Richmond Indiana, where the car will be displayed for the next two years.

The story behind the Wikner Ford Special is amazing in itself: Built by two brothers, Geoff and Roy Wickner, with dreams of making aircrafts - they needed something to show potential financial backers.

Wikner -Special -front -quarter

The engineering found within the car is touted by Doug Partington as "quite incredible", especially for "how sophisticated it is for the 1920s".

The car is built around a primitive space frame, gas-welded together from two Model T chassis’. And the rear is designed like the rudder from a WWI plane.

As the Wickner brothers excelled further with their aviation dreams, the Wickner Model T was turned over to the Roberts Family in Ipswich, likely as payment for having the boys live with them.

Wikner -Special -side -Winton

Fast forward to 1958: where a then-14 year old Doug Partington desperately wanted a race car and  found this very car, disassembled, in the Brisbane Courier Mail for £20.

With ten quid from his mother, and the four he had of his own, Doug bought the car, where it eventually ended up in storage for decades.

When a friend pointed out that Doug’s car looked a lot like one that appeared in a book about Geoff Wickner, Doug realised what he’d been sitting on since he was a little boy, and restored it over a number of years.

Wikner -Special -sign

Since finishing the restoration in 1999, Doug entered the car in various classic motorsports events, but eventually in 2008, decided that the car was too important to continue racing – out of fear of any of the original components breaking.

At the end of last month however, the Wickner Special made the trek over the ocean, and landed in Richmond Indiana where it will be on display by the MTFCA at their museum for the next two years.

Penington and his family will be landing in the US soon, to speak at the Museum’s Homecoming event on July 14. If any of you are passing through Indiana in the next few years, be sure to check out this important piece of Aussie motoring history!

Wikner -Special -USA

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