Here’s another one of my tuning projects born out of curiosity, serving as a case of what could have been.
Killer Kramer: The Story of the K23 V8 and How It Launched Mason Motor Sports
Enterprising race driver Troy Mason once drove for Albury Motors, the brand’s factory team, before acrimoniously leaving after the 1972 season due to not being offered a contract for the following year, despite a string of good results. Undaunted, he set up a new operation - Mason Motor Sports - in March 1973 along with a few of his close friends and other associates. Initially, the brand focused on tuning Kramer products such as the K216.
His first project was fitting a mechanical fuel injection system to a K23 Sprint’s 12-valve straight-six. Coupled to a set of more aggressive cams and a higher compression ratio, it felt much more eager at high revs, and had far superior throttle response. The tradeoff was increased fuel consumption, but the improvements in reliability negated this somewhat. This package was fitted to a few hundred K23 Sprints, until it was discontinued when Kramer started offering their own fuel injection system as an option in 1978.
But Mason was not content with modifying the K23’s existing engine, and having grown accustomed to the sheer grunt of a pushrod V8 over the past few years, he soon began craving more power. One night in September 1974, he spotted a 5.7-litre Albury Universal V8 engine for sale at a local car parts store. Without further ado, he bought the engine - a non-blueprinted one, but a V8 nonetheless - and the next day, he set about retrofitting his personal K23 Sprint with it.
The results were startling. It was immediately obvious that the extra power and torque provided by the V8 made it much more of a straight-line performer. Of note were the significantly increased top speed (now over 140 mph) and the far quicker 0-60 mph time (6.9 seconds). It was thirstier than a stock Sprint, and its weight distribution was even more nose-heavy, but this did not matter to enthusiasts, especially those in America, where new Federal legislation had drawn the teeth of many contemporary muscle cars.
The resulting car was called the K23 Super, and apart from its characteristic V8 rumble emanating from its wider exhaust pipes, there was little to distinguish it from a stock K23 Sprint. Using his links to Albury Motors, he was able to procure a steady supply of Albury V8s to offer as part of the conversion kit until 1980, when the last K23 left the Kramer production line. In addition, he also offered a handling pack alongside the engine swap; it consisted of rear disc brakes and a retuned suspension with monotube dampers and could be ordered separately, or along with the Super kit.
Ultimately, this would be just the first step in Mason Motor Sports’ growth, firmly establishing its reputation as one of the world’s best-known tuners in the years to come. As for Troy Mason himself, after the K23 Super was discontinued, he went back to fettling Albury V8s in 1982, by which time they had port fuel injection as standard. Eventually, his business became so successful that, twenty years later, he released a twin-turbocharged, all-carbonfibre, scissor-doored supercar - the Goshawk - and the rest is history.