WHY PERKINS BUILT TWO FORD V8 RACE ENGINES

Larry Perkins. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

ALONGSIDE 49 race cars, Perkins Engineering churned out 198 engines during its operation between 1986 and 2008.

PE’s bread and butter were of course Holden and later Chevrolet touring car and V8 Supercar race engines, built for Larry Perkins’ own cars and his band of customers.

The company also worked on a host of Holden engines for road car clients through until the end of 1991, while a V6 was even built for a customer’s boat!

Other odds and ends included a fleet of Holden V8s for AUSCAR competitors and Holden V6s for the Formula Holden/Formula Brabham open-wheel category.

Larry Perkins and Neill ‘Part’ Burns in 1988. Pic: Supplied

But it might surprise some V8 Sleuth readers to learn that the Perkins workshop also churned out a handful of Ford motors, including two competition V8s.

No, they weren’t part of a Perkins fact-finding mission aiming to uncover just what the opposition had at their disposal during the five-litre era, but rather they were a customer job.

The two Ford V8s were built in 1986 for the Group A Mustang of privateer racer Lawrie Nelson.

Nelson’s Mustang pictured at the 1986 Sandown ATCC round. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

Nelson was friends with Neill ‘Part’ Burns, who headed up the PE engine department from its establishment in 1986 through until the end of 1991.

The full list of PE engines is published for the first time in the recent book, Perkins Engineering: The Cars, 1986:2008, and also includes a trio of Formula Ford powerplants.

“An engine is an engine, it’s as simple as that,” concluded Perkins when asked of building the Ford motors.

“Whether it be a Formula 1 engine of today or anything we did, it’s all based on the rulebook.”

Perkins Engineering: The Cars, 1986:2008 is sold out in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop, but a limited number of the 2500 printed remain available at the National Motor Racing Museum.

Drop by the museum in Bathurst or call them direct on (02) 6332 1872 to secure your copy.