Vale – Clive Adams

Clive Adams

Image thanks to Brian Caldersmith

We are sorry to have to tell you that Clive Adams, one of the mainstays of NSW racing during the ‘50s and a founder member of the ARDC back in November 1951, passed away on Wednesday, 22 April, just two months short of his 100th birthday.

He was one of Australia’s engineering greats, conspiring in the 1950s with fellow craftsmen Jack Pryer and Stan Brown to design and build the range of Prad sports/racing cars, acknowledged by many as the best designed and most beautifully proportioned Australian Specials ever crafted.

Clive was a competent race driver, too. His first mount was a front-wheel-drive supercharged Alvis from Alec Mildren. The loss of the Alvis with a blown engine first time out at Bathurst prompted Adams and Pryer to fabricate their own car from a concoction of MG, Amilcar and Bugatti parts, powered by a Ford V8/60 engine. It was 1950 and this was the first Prad, to be followed by a series of four more over the next ten years.

The next car, Prad ll, was based on a monoposto-bodied Sydney Speedway car, stretched and widened, and achieved good placings at Bathurst and a record at Hawkesbury hill-climb before being replaced in 1956 by Prad lll, powered by Holden. During the build, Clive kept his eye in with borrowed drives in such cars as Stan Coffey’s Cooper-Bristol, Tony Arditto’s Jaguar sports and Ray Fowler’s MG J2, in which he lapped Mt Panorama in 3m.07s – just think about that! 

Racing in those days was mostly at the Mt Druitt circuit, an abandoned wartime airstrip secured by Belf Jones, who became the ARDC’s first Secretary, with George Bell the President. Along with Clive, the inaugural Committee comprised leading drivers Arthur Hayes, Jack Robinson, Laurie Oxenford and Leo Bernard, joined soon after by Doug Chivas and Frank Kleinig and in 1953 by Jack Brabham. 

Clive and Jack Pryer continued their association and in 1959 produced probably their finest creation, Prad lV, with a 200bhp Grand Prix Alta engine and Jaguar XK120 gearbox, which they finally passed on as a gift to Spencer Martin, their ardent supporter.

Long past retirement age, and with a well-established workshop at Taree, NSW, Clive continued to work on his and other cars. These included those of son, Ian, who raced through the ‘60s and ‘70s in a Lotus 7 (now owned by Melinda Sexton), a Lotus 23B and a Lola T330. HSRCA members will possibly be familiar with the Shane Bowden car (now in Victoria) and Mal Reid’s Prad Holden. 

The attached Brian Caldersmith artwork was commissioned for the HSRCA’s February 1999 Oran Park event which recognised the achievements of Clive and Jack who attended as patrons for the event.

3 thoughts on “Vale – Clive Adams”

  1. Early 60’s my dad owned and raced Prad Holden with mg gearbox and 4 wheel disc brakes at Warick Farm and Catalina Park. Sold in mid 70’s .would like to know current history. His name was Ron MCNair. Thanks

    • Hi Steve. Came across this story while searching. My father, also John [94 ] was a great friend of you dad Ron. I to remember him owning the PRAD. Dad worked for Ron on weekends at both the BP and later Golden Fleece, I would often go with dad and help at service stations. We lost contact with him when we moved to Adelaide in 1970. Dad shared racing cars with your dad and has a picture of him racing the ex Alf Blight MG at Silverdale on his wall of his house today. I was there that day I think Ron had the PRAD at that event, or may be the ex Dyson Holden.
      Cheers John 0438568186

  2. My uncle, Sonny Knott owned the altar with the Holden grey motor for a nearly two years (he didn’t race it).
    I have some photos of it with my dad in the drivers seat.
    I would love to see it in person if anyone can share with me the current owners details.
    Jason Knott


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