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Lot 268: Sebro Mk. IV Single Seater Grand Prix Car

Exceptional Motorcars and related Memorabilia, Bonhams & Butterfields (14 August 2009)

As in so many things in life, those days that went badly are often remembered far longer than those days when everything went according to plan  so it was for the Stebro Mk IV. Peter Broeker came to Canada with his family after World War 2 and started an automotive repair business in Hamilton, Ontario. While there he enjoyed taking in the stock car scene and probably dabbled a bit in the roundy-round racing. He moved to Montreal in the fifties and opened the Stebro Garage. More importantly to our story, when he moved to Montreal, he discovered the flourishing sports car culture there, and got hooked on racing, and more specifically, hooked on single seat formula car racing. Somewhere along the line he began supplying the sports car crowd with customized exhaust systems to improve performance, and pretty soon that business took precedence over the automotive repair shop. Broeker built up his exhaust business essentially to fuel his dreams of becoming a race car constructor. The first Stebro was the Mark 1, built in 1960 in the Stebro repair garage on McGill street in Montreal. It was a conventional front engined formula junior powered by a BMC engine and drive train. The Mark II Stebro was rear engined, again BMC powered. The Mark III was a modified Sadler MkV sports racer  one of the original Can-Am cars . Broeker modified the Sadler by adding eight inches to the wheelbase and fitting a conventional transaxle. Then came the Mark IV which was built over the winter of '62/'63. The chassis is a space frame made of thin wall chrome-moly tubing. Body work is aluminum. The original engine was a Martin prepared Ford FJ engine, connected to a Hewland MkIV five speed gearbox. Suspension was conventional for the time  upper and lower A arms at the front , reversed lower A arm and upper top link at the rear  save and except for the unusual location of the front springs  outboard, but within the bodywork, and out of the air stream. Brakes are Girling and are from a Lotus 21 F1 car. Fuel tanks are oversized to run more than the usual FJ 20 lapper  in other words, the car was always intended to be a dual purpose FJ/F1 car. Broeker had completed a deal with Martin engines in England to purchase a supply of the F1 motor they were developing, which was based on the recently introduced Ford of England 1500cc five bearing block. His intention was to build two cars and enter them in the 1963 U.S. GP (there was no F1 Canadian GP at the time). His drivers were to be John Cannon and Ernie DeVos, who was considered the local hot shoe and who had had considerable success in FJ in Canada over the previous couple of seasons. Things started to go awry fairly early on. First, delays in building the car meant there was not time to build two Mark IVs, so Broeker's entry for the U.S. GP was for one MkIV and one MkII, both with Martin Ford power. Broeker promptly wrote off the sole remaining MkII at Mosport. The Mark IV was completed and tested by John Cannon, who pronounced it good  and then left Canada to go race for John Mecom in the US. Broeker then proceeded to campaign the Mark IV as an FJ for the rest of the '63 season (the U.S. GP was held in September at this time) doing very, very well, often besting DeVos in his Brabham, and even winning an FJ event at Watkins Glen. With reliable power from the Martin F1 motor, both Broeker and DeVos were confident that they could make a reasonable showing at the GP. The only problem was, the Martin F1 motor turned out to be unreliable. In fact, it was a complete disaster, chewing up its oil pump drives and generally misbehaving. As the GP approached, Broeker kept asking for his motors (he had already paid for them) and kept getting put off by Martin, as they tried to fix the problems. Eventually (and at the last moment) they gave up and simply refused to supply an engine for the Stebro. By this time absolutely determined to run in the GP, Broeker quickly built up an essentially stock Ford 1500cc engine, with whatever performance components he could easily take from his current race motors, such as the twin Weber carbs, and trailered the car down to Watkins Glen. Ernie DeVos, realizing he was not going to have anything close to the horsepower of the other cars on the grid, decided that this was not the opportunity to break in to F1 that he hoped for, and left, leaving Broeker as the team's driver. Peter Broeker took the Stebro out to practice, and had the front oil seal fail on the hastily built motor, causing oil to be deposited on the track, and generally making a bad first impression. He managed to qualify the car eventually, and only three and a half seconds slower than Baghetti in the ATS  not much, but something. And so there Peter Broeker was, finally, running in the U.S. GP with a car of his own design and construction, what a feeling that must have been. Unfortunately, even the race did not go smoothly, as on about the third lap the gearbox jammed in fourth gear, so he never got to show even the limits of the nearly stock motor he had, let alone actually go at racing speeds  he was faster winning the FJ race earlier in the year with a much smaller motor....Broeker soldiered on and eventually was classified seventh. In the process he became the first Canadian to compete in and finish a World Championship Grand Prix, and the Stebro became the first and only Canadian-built car to do the same. As an aside, this was also the first appearance of a Ford engine in a WCGP. This was not the end to the story of the Mark IV. The following season, Broeker took the car to Europe for the inaugural European Championship Formula II season. The car was fitted with an 1100cc Martin Ford motor  probably what Martin offered Broeker in replacement for the failed F1 motor. He didn't know the circuits (Broeker enjoyed racing, but did not have illusions of being near the top rank), and by this time Martin had been comprehensively eclipsed by Cosworth as a builder of racing engines, so it is not too surprising that the best results were 8th places at Hockenhiem and Zeltwig. Broeker came home, and for the 1965 season he modified the Mark IV slightly, fitting a larger radiator, modified bodywork, and a Lotus Ford twin cam motor. Ironically perhaps, for this motor uses the same type of Ford block as the failed Martin F1 motor  and now the Stebro won everything in sight. For the next three years, Broeker and the Stebro were virtually unbeatable, chocking up over 100 victories across North America in Formula Libre and Formula B class races (what we now call Formula Atlantic). Broeker and the Stebro won multiple Canadian and Quebec championships over this time frame. Such was the dominance of the duo that Broeker rather cheekily installed a stand for the checkered flag so he wouldn't have to hold it during victory laps..... All good things come to an end, however, and in late September of 1968 Broeker comprehensively crashed the Stebro at its home track, St. Jovite. Broeker was not seriously injured, but the car was a mess. He hastily rebuilt it, tested it, found it handled poorly, and came to a major decision: Stebro Exhausts was a successful business and occupied much of his time, so rather than build a new car, he bought a British Chevron and ended his dream of being a race car constructor. He never built a Mark V. For the next ten years, he raced Marches and Chevrons, keeping the Stebro in his workshop as a back up should he need it. He was looking for a replacement for his B27 Chevron in 1980 when he passed away from cancer. The Mark IV languished outside in a leaking trailer for the next five years after that, deteriorating at an alarming rate. At this point in 1985 it was acquired by the current owner, a long time club racer and vintage race car enthusiast, who began a complete restoration. During the rebuild process it was found that the chassis had over 40 cracks in it as a result of the St. Jovite crash  going a long way to explain the poor handling Broeker experienced after he rebuilt it. In late September 1988, 20 years after Peter Broeker last raced the Mark IV, the Stebro won the vintage class at the Canadian Run Offs held at St. Jovite, becoming a Canadian champion in yet another class. Currently the Stebro Mark IV is equipped with the same Ford 1500 cc motor it used in the U.S. GP in 1963. It still has its original gearbox and other major mechanical components. The bodywork is the original 1965 modified, right down to the paint job and the dents and dings of decades of racing. A modern roll bar, a fuel cell, fire extinguisher system, and seat belts were installed during its renovation, but otherwise the car is pretty much what Peter Broeker hoped would put him in the race car business in 1963. Today the car's condition can best be described as aesthetically exceptionally original and well patinated, while mechanically it has been run within the last few years for demonstration but not in anger. In period the Stebro ran in Formula Junior, F1, F2, Formula Libre and Formula B between 1963-1968, which gives it a wide range of National and International Historic racing possibilities. As it is currently fitted it is eligible for Formula B events and if fitted with a Formula Junior engine it could be used in those events which would enable it to participate at the Lime Rock meets, Wine Country Classic and Monterey Historics where it could run in either class E2 or E3, and still be eligible for Formula B. It is also thought that it would be eligible for European racing and that an application for an FIA Technical passport would be successful by its definition provided that all other criteria of its condition was approved. The Stebro Mk IV will always represent an interesting chapter in Canadian racing history and of one man's pioneering campaign on the racetrack, the next chapter in that story awaits the buyer. Offered on a Bill of Sale.

Lot Details
Auction Exceptional Motorcars and related Memorabilia
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail, Carmel, Calaifornia, U.S.A.
TypeCar
Lot Number268
Estimate$70000-$100000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1963
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors