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HomeNewsBathurstHow Giltrap kick-started Perkins Engineering

How Giltrap kick-started Perkins Engineering

THE generosity of the late Sir Colin Giltrap played a key role in making possible the careers of countless Kiwi racing stars.

But there’s an Aussie motorsport legend who also owes his significant success to some well-timed support from the Giltrap Group founder and motorsport enthusiast.

VALE: Sir Colin Giltrap, 1940-2024

Larry Perkins was a budding Formula 3 racer when he first met Giltrap at the Monaco Grand Prix in the mid-1970s.

Towards the end of the decade, Perkins tackled the 1978/79 Formula Pacific New Zealand International Series in a Colin Giltrap Racing March 78B, becoming the first driver to win for Giltrap.

Having switched his focus to touring cars, Perkins then called upon Giltrap when starting Perkins Engineering in 1986.

Perkins and Giltrap on the grid at Bathurst in 1986. Pic: Supplied

As detailed by V8 Sleuth’s Will Dale in Perkins Engineering: The Cars, 1986-2008, Giltrap loaned Perkins $60,000 to fund the creation of the team’s first two VK Commodores.

“I remember making a repayment of approximately $5000,” recalled Perkins for the book, having run the Enzed Commodores with ‘Car Owner: Colin Giltrap’ emblazoned on them.

“A few months later, when I saw Colin somewhere, I said ‘I’ve got to make some more payments to you for that car.’

“He said: ’No, you’ve made all the payments, you don’t need to make any more. All done.’ That’s the sort of gentleman of a bloke he is.”

Perkins paid Giltrap back in a different way, scoring his team’s first victory on Kiwi soil.

That came in February of 1987 when Perkins shared PE 002 with New Zealand’s own 1967 Formula 1 World Champion, Denny Hulme, in the Pukekohe 500.

It was only possible after some more notable Giltrap assistance; Perkins’ crew rebuilt the car at one of the Kiwi’s workshops after a crash at Wellington the previous weekend.

The Perkins/Giltrap relationship would have been much more prominent had fate played a different hand in the months that followed.

Peter Brock’s bust-up with Holden over the Energy Polarizer led to The General’s performance road car business and factory racing team status being put to tender.

That was ultimately won by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, but not before a joint Perkins/Giltrap pitch.

“We were an up-and-running team – admittedly, not big and under-financed – but it looked good to me,” said Perkins of the opportunity to run what became Holden Special Vehicles.

“So Colin Giltrap and myself, from memory, put in a tender where we were to leverage heavily with Giltrap’s already established automotive business.

“Colin and his people did an awful lot of work towards the PE/Giltrap tender for HSV.”

Giltrap signage on the front of PE 001 at the 1986 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

Perkins paid tribute to Giltrap on Thursday following news of the Kiwi’s passing, aged 84.

“Colin was a tremendous supporter of motorsport over many years, and he helped so many young blokes to get their careers off the ground,” said Perkins.

“I was very fortunate to have known Colin since the 1970s, and would not have made my career what it is without the support of Colin.

“He was a unique character, and whether it be personal help or circuit activity, if it was motorsport, Colin would always be helpful.

“And as a true gentleman, he never sought any personal accolades, ever.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the family on this sad occasion.”

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