RIP Guy Buckingham 1921-2015

| 30 Nov 2015

Founder of the Nota car marque and life member of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, Guy Buckingham, has died. He was 94.

Though best known for his colossal contribution to the development of Australian motorsport and founding of Nota, Guy Buckingham's career began in Great Britain as a contemporary of Colin Chapman and Len Terry. 

As Midlands Secretary of the 750 Motor Club during the 1950s, Buckingham's passion for motorsport was well known in Britain. However, after tiring with the family jewellery business he emigrated with his young family for a new life in Australia. 

With help from a wealthy relative, Buckingham opened a service station where, despite the locals' love of Holden powerplants, he produced copies of his Arnold-Buckingham Special. He made ends meet by building a series of one-off specials with fellow ex-pat Jack Wiffen, including a converted twin-cam Consul-engined Formula Libre car and a 500cc AJS bike-engined Formula 3 racer.  

Credit: Brian Caldersmith

A Streamliner followed, and claimed the 1960 Australian Sports Car Championship with Guy at the wheel. Each of these cars bore the name 'Nota', so named for Guy's infant son Chris, who struggled to say 'motorcar'. 

In addition to building some 300 cars throughout the 1960s, Buckingham made an immense contribution to the development of Australian motorsport, including being responsible for laying out the Oran Park circuit and giving a number of lectures on race car design as part of the Westinghouse World of Sport television programme. He is also credited with introducing Formula Vee to Australia, partly thanks to his own exploits in his BMC A-Series-powered FJ in the '62 season. 

By the 1970s, strains within his relationship led to Buckingham returning to England. Plans to introduce Nota to the UK were scuppered when a bull damaged the demonstrator, and his interest in cars began to wane. A successful spell trumpeting in a number of jazz bands followed, as did courtship of his second wife, Jean, but the lure of motorsport proved too great to resist – before long he was back in the world of the 750MC and had spent four months building a car for Ken Freeman. 

After two successful seasons, Buckingham's eye turned to saloon car racing, for which he built two Hillman Imp silhouette racers. However, after just three seasons animosity between the drivers resulted in him leaving the world of motorsport for good, turning his attention instead to his love of aircraft. 

Photo credit: Charles Best