Ford motorsport legend, Ken Harper, dies
- 18th September 2012, 9:32am
The Melbournian mechanic, and one-time Ford works driver, suffered a stroke while on holiday in Queensland.
Ken Harper (pictured with his son, Kim) came into prominence as the first person to drive a Porsche in competition in Australia after he formed a friendship with Norman Hamilton, the importer of Porsche vehicles, in the early 1950s. The pair entered the car in the 1953 Redex Round Australia Trial in a completely untested (and, at the time) completely unsuitable vehicle.
The lure of long distance trials enticed Harper to enter further Redex and other Round Australia trials, circumnavigating the country in a Humber Super Snipe in 1954 and Standard Vanguards in 1957 and 1958.
A gifted mechanic and car preparer, Harper was signed by Ford to drive a Falcon in the East African Safari in 1962 and, closer to home, in the Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island in 1962 and 1963 when they finished 1-2.
When the Escort Twin Cam came onto the scene in the late 1960s, Ken was contracted to prepare a team of three Escort Twin Cams for Australian rallying, which resulted in his continuing love for rallying and the building of customer cars, as well as his own.
As late as 2011 the octogenarian was still competing in selected events in his Ford Mustang (he did one last Round Australia, the Mobil 1 event in 1995) and tinkering with his son’s Escorts in his workshop in suburban Melbourne.
He is survived by his wife, Olive, and sons Lee and Kim. He will be greatly missed by the legion of friends he has built up over the years.
RallySport Magazine extends its condolences to this extraordinary man.
We will have a further eulogy on the life of Ken Harper in the coming days.
- Jeff Whitten
SUBSCRIBE BELOW TO READ THE FULL STORY
By clicking "Subscribe Now" you agree to receive news, offers and updates on RallySport Magazine. If you do not wish to receive marketing communications, you can update your preferences in My Account.
We will commence charging your payment method after the 7 day free trial expires. If you cancel after expiry of your trial, cancellation will take effect from the end of your current monthly subscription period. You will not be refunded any fees paid to RallySport Magazine unless otherwise set out in the terms and conditions.