Peter Broeker moved to Canada with his family at the end of World War II. He opened an automotive repair business in Hamilton, Ontario, moving to Montreal later in the fifties, where he opened the Stebro Garage. Though a fan of racing, it was not until his move to Montreal that he became serious with the sport, especially single seat formula car racing. Soon he was supply the racing world with customized exhaust systems to improve performance, and later would become a race car constructor.
The Stebro Mark 1, the first of Stebro, was built in 1960 in the Stebro repair garage on McGill street in Montreal. It had a front engine formula junior design powered by a BMC engine and drive train. The second evolution of the Stebro was the Mark II, a mid-engine design also powered by BMC. The Mark III was a modified Sadler MKV sports racer. The Sadler was modified by adding eight inches to the wheelbase and fitted with a conventional transaxle.
The Mark IV was built over the winter in 1962 and 1963. It featured a space frame chassis made of thin wall chrome-moly tubing. The body was clothed in aluminum and original powered by a modified Ford FJ engine mated to a Hewland MKIV five speed gearbox. In the front was a conventional upper and lower A-arm suspension setup, with a reversed lower A-arm and upper top link in the rear. Girling brakes, courtesy of a Lotus 21 F1 car, could be found at all four corners. The large fuel tank meant it could race more than the traditional 20 lap Formula Junior race.
Broeker made a deal with Martin engines in England to purchase a supply of the F1 motors they were developing. These new powerplants were based on the recently introduced Ford of England 1500cc five bearing block. Broeker intended to build two cars and enter them in the 1963 United States Grand Prix. His intended drivers were to be John Cannon and Ernie DeVos, who had considerable success in FJ in Canada.
Like so many stories, the build did not go as planed and delays meant changes to the schedule. These delays meant there was not time to build two Mark IVs, so Broeker's entry for the US GP was for one Mark IV and one Mark II, both fitted with Martin Ford Power. John Cannon tested the Mark IV and found it to be a capable machine, but then left Canada to race for John Mecom in the United States. Broeker then campaigned the Mark IV as an FJ for the remainder of the 1963 season.
The Martin F1 engine turned out to be troublesome and unreliable. As the dates for the US GP approached (at the time, the United States Grand Prix was held in September), Broeker kept asking for his motors, as he had already paid for them and was awaiting delivery. Martin continued to put off Broeker as they aggressively worked to resolve the engine problems. The engine was not ready in time, and Broeker was forced to find an alternative. He built up an essentially stock Ford 1500cc engine, using whatever performance products he could find from his current race motors, and trailered the car down to Watkins Glen. Enrie DeVos, realizing the car was seriously lacking in power, left - leaving Broeker as the team's driver.
During practice, the front oil seal failed on the hastily built motor, causing oil to flow onto the track. He was able to qualify the car, just three and a half seconds slower than Baghettin in the ATS.
After about three laps into the race, the gearbox jammed in fourth gear. Broeker continued to race, though the car was down on power and not able to achieve its full speed due to the gearbox jam. As the checkered flag fell, Broeker was classified in seventh place, making his the first Canadian to compete in and finish a World Championship Grand Prix. The Stebro became the first and only Canadian-built car to do the same.
The following season, Broeker brought the car to Europe for the inaugural European Championship Formula II season. Power was from an 1100cc Martin Ford Motor, which would prove to be lacking compared to the finely tuned Cosworth engines. The best results were 8th places at Hockenhiem and Zeltwig.
Broeker returned back to Canada, and in preperation for the 1965 season, he modified the Mark IV slightly, giving it a larger radiator, modified bodywork, and a Lotus Ford twin cam motor. In this guise, the car won many of its outings. For the next three years, the car accumulated over 100 victories across North America in Formula Libre and Formula B class races.
At a race in late September of 1968, Broeker crashed the Stebro at the St. Jovite track. The car was badly damaged but Broker was ok. The car was quickly rebuilt and tested, only to reveal problems with the handling. Instead of building a new car, Broeker purchased a British Chevron. Broeker would continue to race until 1980, when he passed away from cancer.
Broeker had kept the Mark IV as a back-up car in case he needed it. After he passed away, it remained outside where it began deteriorating quickly. The current owner purchased the car in 1985 and began a complete restoration. After the work was completed, it was entered in a race in late September 1988. It won the vintage class at the Canadian Run Offs held at St. Jovite, continuing its winning pedigree.
The car is currently powered by a Ford 1500cc, just like it was fitted when it raced in the US GP in 1963. It has its original gearbox and other major mechanical components. The bodywork is the original 1965 modified, including the paint job and the dents and dings of decades of racing. There is a modern roll bar, a fuel cell, fire extinguisher system, and seat belts to comply with modern racing requirements.
In period the Stebro raced in Formula Junior, F1, F2, Formula Libre and Formula B between 1963 - 1968.
In 2009, this unique piece of racing history was offered for sale by Bonhams Auction at the Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia
sale in Carmel, CA. It was estimated to sell for $70,000 - 100,000, but would leave the auction unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2009