26 Mus­cle Mail

The reader’s let­ter that is judged to be the best in each is­sue will win a Meguiar’s de­tail­ing pack.

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

We hear from read­ers who: raced Pac­ers at Bathurst; scrounged an L34 part from Sir Jack’s Bathurst ‘76 To­rana; took their Phase IIIs on hol­i­day; love their Prince Sky­lines and love/hate Phil An­ders. Theme song: ‘Please Mr Post­man’ by The Bea­tles.

Sir Jack’s crew to the res­cue

Found these pho­tos whilst mov­ing house re­cently and they jogged my mem­ory of my LH To­rana L34 that I bought new in 1974. Well, it was ‘nearly new’.

Here’s the true story... I had or­dered a stan­dard LH SL/R 5000 from Free­man Mo­tors in Ade­laide in 1974 for around $5000 in those days. An L34 was a tad over $7000 and out of my price range un­for­tu­nately. Whilst wait­ing for my SL/R to be de­liv­ered, my brother called me (he was spare parts man­ager at Free­mans in those days). They had an L34 stolen off the lot a week or so ear­lier and it had just been found in Dar­win and re­turned to Free­man Mo­tors. It had about 4000km on the clock and other than that was in pretty good nick, just a long joy ride!

Any­way, this par­tic­u­lar car had never been reg­is­tered but could no longer be sold as a new car due to be­ing re­ported stolen and the in­sur­ance claim, etc.

Would I be in­ter­ested to take it for the price of my or­dered SL/R no ques­tions asked? The catch be­ing NO war­ranty. Hey, I was 18, did I care about war­ranty, I was about to get a Yel­low L34! The deal was done.

My car is the last in the pic­tured line-up of four L34s in early 1975 of guys I knew and went driv­ing with in Ade­laide. I used it for coun­try camp­ing trips, note the trailer and roof racks, and for cir­cuit sprints. The photo is ex­it­ing the bowl at Ade­laide In­ter­na­tional Race­way.

Any­way the car was no prob­lem, ran like a dream... un­til a trip to Bathurst in 1976 to watch the 1000. Along the Hay Plain from Ade­laide to Bathurst it de­vel­oped a miss that grad­u­ally got worse. Af­ter sev­eral stops we found the trou­ble­some twin-point dis­trib­u­tor ro­tor but­ton had a crack in it. Great (note sar­casm). Ever tried to buy one of those from a coun­try Holden dealer? You guessed it, no luck. We made it to Bathurst, think­ing log­i­cally that some­one in a To­rana rac­ing team would sell me a ro­tor but­ton so as to get a young South Aussie To­rana fan back to Ade­laide.

Af­ter the race, straight to the pits, cracked ro­tor but­ton in my pocket to prove I wasn’t a tacky sou­venir hunter. Well, to my sur­prise ev­ery me­chanic from a ma­jor team I talked to shook their heads, they had all re­placed the fac­tory twin-point, twin coil with Mal­lory dis­trib­u­tors, be­cause the gen­uine ones were un­re­li­able at high revs and prone to fail­ing (no shit!), so they had Mal­lory spares, but no parts for the orig­i­nal unit.

It would be fair to say that I didn’t have a lot of spare cash in those days and the thought of hav­ing to pur­chase a com­plete new dis­trib­u­tor to get home was pretty daunt­ing. Walk­ing out of the pits we came across the Stir­ling Moss/Jack Brab­ham L34 on a crash truck. It, of course, was in­volved in a start­line crash.

Any­way, I made one last plead­ing ques­tion to the cig­a­rette-smok­ing, beer-drink­ing me­chanic sit­ting on the bon­net of the car, whilst sadly pro­duc­ing my cracked ro­tor and telling him my whole sad story.

He turned around, popped the bon­net, reached back, flipped off the dis­trib­u­tor cap and pulled the ro­tor off Sir Jack’s crashed L34!

Yep, I reckon Sir Jack’s and Stir­ling’s L34 was about the only one run­ning a gen­uine fac­tory twin-point, twin-coil dis­trib­u­tor. Ten bucks and it was mine.

Fit­ted it and drove home, happy as could be. I won­der if any­one ever tried to start Sir Jack’s To­rana some­time af­ter the race, prob­a­bly won­dered how the crash had knocked the ro­tor but­ton off. I think my $10 was go­ing to­wards the pur­chase of the next slab of beer.

I sold my car around 1980 and I be­lieve it’s now in the hands of a prom­i­nent car dealer and To­rana col­lec­tor in Ade­laide. I imag­ine it’s still got Sir Jack’s ro­tor but­ton.

If the new owner reads this and wants more pho­tos/de­tails of a car with sto­ries, I’d be happy to chat. ED: Great story and pics, Peter. We will put you in touch with the owner when they con­tact us – nudge, nudge – as we’d love to see a photo of the car to­day.

Let­ter from a Pacer racer

Isaw AMC #71 at the newsagency at Tul­la­ma­rine, so as an old Pacer man I had to buy it, didn’t I! You might be in­ter­ested in hear­ing about my love af­fair with Pac­ers, start­ing off with my blue VF. It was my ev­ery­day road car, but in those days of Se­ries Pro­duc­tion rac­ing, it was worked a bit harder on some week­ends, vis­it­ing places such as Catalina Park, Warwick Farm and Oran Park.

It was bought to race, so it had the op­tional slip­pery diff, and I had it bal­anced. It was al­ways com­pet­i­tive: at the 1970 Easter Bathurst I had a race-long dice with Leo Geoghegan, which led to an in­vi­ta­tion to be his co-driver in Oc­to­ber for the big race.

The VF was a great car to drive. The old slant six had so much torque that the lack of a fourth gear did not mat­ter as much as you might have ex­pected. The han­dling was out­stand­ing for the era, helped by the tor­sion bar sus­pen­sion’s abil­ity to al­low plenty of neg­a­tive cam­ber. The brakes were not won­der­ful, but were ad­e­quate if you did not abuse them. It did, if I re­mem­ber, 118 mph (190km/h) down Con­rod Straight.

The only prob­lem I ever had with it was cracking a hub at Oran Park. I then dis­cov­ered that this was a known prob­lem, and Chrysler fit­ted race cars with X-rayed crack­tested hubs. As my car was bought to race, it had the spe­cial hubs fit­ted – not to my knowl­edge! Mine was the first spe­cial hub to fail, and the only spare Chrysler had avail­able had the wrong direc­tional thread – Chrysler used left- and right-handed threads. Pity the guy who bought it and found three left-hand threads and one right-hand thread!

Be­fore the 1970 Hardie Ferodo I was in­volved in test­ing both the 2-bar­rel and the 4-bar­rel VG Pac­ers, with the 4-speed gear­box mi­nus first. The 2-bar­rel was a big im­prove­ment on the dear old VF. It han­dled at least as well, and with the ven­ti­lated front discs braked bet­ter for longer. It could do around 130mph (209km/h) on Con­rod Straight. De­spite hav­ing no first gear, the ra­tios were pretty good at Bathurst, al­though a bit slow out of The Cut­ting.

The 4-bar­rel was over-car­bu­ret­tored. Out of The Cut­ting the 2-bar­rel could just about stay with it, and it was very hard to get the carby right. I pre­ferred driv­ing the 2-bar­rel. [ED: Nick is too mod­est to men­tion that he and Leo fin­ished fifth at Bathurst 1970].

A year or two later I had to get a com­pany car, and I got a VH Pacer. What a tool! It was quicker than the VGs, and han­dled and stopped as well. It was as quick as any au­to­matic V8, and was not too thirsty. The wheel and tyre com­bi­na­tion was an im­prove­ment, as was the in­te­rior de­sign and com­fort. The three-speed gear­box was a pity, but un­less you wanted a real thrash over an in­ter­est­ing bit of road it was not a real prob­lem.

Ah, Pac­ers. They summed up Chrysler Aus­tralia’s prob­lems. They all just missed out, be­cause of lack of money, short-sight­ed­ness – or both. Still, a largely un­ap­pre­ci­ated part of Aus­tralia’s mo­tor­ing his­tory. Nick Led­ing­ham Email ED: Thanks for drop­ping us a line, Nick. Great to hear those vivid rec­ol­lec­tions from a rac­ing Pacer pioneer. Mean­time, when we posed the ques­tion, ‘What’s your favourite Oran Park mem­ory?’ on our Face­book page, one of the re­spon­dents, with a fa­mil­iar sur­name, of­fered this...

Son of a gun’s mem­o­ries


many to have a favourite. The Tas­man rounds there; the 1974 AGP, which was bit­ter­sweet with the old man miles in the lead with two laps to go but forced out; Toby Lee Sports Sedans; Agostini do­ing a demo in the 1970s; Graeme Crosby do­ing wheel­ies down the en­tire straight mid-race be­cause he was so far ahead; Alan Jones jump­ing the start at the 1977 AGP; Moff in the ‘Stang (nearly) be­ing taken out by some bloke in a Valiant; sit­ting on the hill on prac­tice day and lis­ten­ing to a F5000 alone on the track and thun­der­ing down the straight as it went up through the gears.

I re­mem­ber as a kid ar­riv­ing and say­ing hello to Max Ste­wart. He would pick me up and toss me in the air. Man, I got some height, but thank­fully he caught me on the way down. Watch­ing the Ca­maro win the ATCC round there af­ter a big bat­tle with Brock in 1980; Big Pete side­ways in the Monaro – every­where! The 1976 Roth­mans round for F5000 in the wet – big cars slid­ing round on a wet track on slicks. Like I said, too many to have a favourite! Greg Bartlett From Face­book

Early OH&S mea­sures

Is­sue #72 is a ripper. I have fond mem­o­ries of Oran Park, both as a spec­ta­tor and a flag mar­shal in the 1960s so it was an ap­pro­pri­ate choice as AMC’s first Sa­cred Site. I imag­ine you’ll do Catalina Park at some stage, so have in­cluded some im­ages shot there.

See­ing your Wind­sor speed­way story brought back Sun­day af­ter­noon mem­o­ries of an­other speed­way in Syd­ney’s west, at West­mead.

Thought you might be in­ter­ested in a snap that I took of the top-notch OH&S fa­cil­i­ties at West­mead, to avoid be­ing hit by fly­ing mud. All you needed was an as­bestos ce­ment sheet with an eye-hole punched in it, picked up from the spec­ta­tor mound.

It would be in­ter­est­ing to do an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig where the hospi­tal is now. The old stock cars (the barred-out Ford V8 sedans and coupes) were buried in a big rubbish tip at the rear of pits at West­mead, when they no longer could get around un­der their own steam.

Keep go­ing! Alex Fry Email

Sun, sand and Phase IIIs

Thought I would drop you a line to tell you about an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence I had over the hol­i­day break. Like many other fam­i­lies, we headed to a favourite sum­mer des­ti­na­tion – in our case, the Talle­budgera Car­a­van Park on the Gold Coast.

As usual, the fam­ily was en­joy­ing the sum­mer sun and beach en­vi­ron­ment, but this year, in amongst all the car­a­vans, the campers and four-wheel drives, were a cou­ple of ve­hi­cles that looked a lit­tle out of place in the mod­ern era: two fully re­stored and im­mac­u­late XY Fal­con GT-HO Phase IIIs.

As a reg­u­lar reader, I’m well aware that one of the mag­a­zine’s themes over the past cou­ple of years has been to look at how our revered Aussie mus­cle car clas­sics were used in the past – i.e. the daily driver, work ve­hi­cle and pulling the fam­ily car­a­van on hol­i­days (such as in Punter’s Pics – is­sues #66 and #67). Of course lately the ma­jor­ity of these highly-prized ve­hi­cles are fully re­stored and se­curely locked away by their proud own­ers, only to see the light of day when it’s time for their reg­u­lar clean or to at­tend some spe­cial event. Here how­ever, were two own­ers who de­cided that go­ing away wasn’t go­ing to stop them en­joy­ing their beloved clas­sics.

For Si­mon (Ver­mil­lion Fire ex­am­ple), the car­a­van park was just down the road from his home in Bris­bane. How­ever, for Mark (Monza Green), driv­ing up from Mel­bourne took a lit­tle longer. Not that Mark is un­ac­cus­tomed to driv­ing Phase IIIs long dis­tances, as he and Dave Frake (GT Ford Per­for­mance) are well known for their trip across the Nullar­bor in 2007, for the GT Na­tion­als that year. As one can imag­ine, the sight of two Phase IIIs in a car­a­van park saw many people drop­ping by to chat about the cars and rem­i­nisce about the old days when such cars were the tow­ing ve­hi­cle of choice.

But as the cars were there to en­joy and not just look at, I sug­gested a trip down to Bal­lina to look at a nice collection of rare small Fords. As you can imag­ine, two Phase IIIs trav­el­ling down the high­way got plenty of at­ten­tion by driv­ers and pas­sen­gers of other traf­fic, not to men­tion the lo­cals of small coun­try towns that we de­toured through due to traf­fic is­sues around By­ron Bay. I’m sure the fact that both cars were run­ning 3.9:1 diff ra­tios and were revving freely, had noth­ing to do with it!

Once at Bal­lina, we got to look at some great cars (in­clud­ing some ex-Bathurst Es­corts and Corti­nas) as well as Gra­ham Mein and Ron Gil­lard, who both com­peted at Bathurst and had some won­der­ful sto­ries to tell.

On the way back to the coast, we stopped in at the Ho­tel Brunswick at Brunswick Heads for a late lunch and caught up with a group of other GT own­ers – in­clud­ing Dave Frake also up from Mel­bourne – who were al­ready there soak­ing up the hol­i­day at­mos­phere. One of the high­lights of the trip how­ever, was com­ing back up the old Pa­cific High­way from Brunswick, up through the Bur­ring­bar Range and along the back roads to Mur­willum­bah and along the Tweed Val­ley Way. These are some of the best roads on the east coast on which to truly en­joy a thor­ough­bred clas­sic car and the guys had a great time.

Al­though dif­fer­ent people look at clas­sic car own­er­ship in lots of dif­fer­ent ways, it’s great to see a cou­ple of own­ers who aren’t afraid to still use them, de­spite what the mar­ket says they

are worth. When I asked Mark why he brought de­cided to bring his car up, he said, “Why pre­serve it just for some­one else to en­joy af­ter you are gone. The time to en­joy it is now, while you can.”

My sen­ti­ments ex­actly. Paul Til­ley ED: Amen to that, brother! Paul also po­litely pointed out that a photo in the Oran Park Sa­cred Sites sec­tion last is­sue fea­tur­ing the Geoghegan Lo­tus Cortina was in­cor­rectly cap­tioned 1963, when it was from 1964.

More Mus­cle Car rules

First off, great mag­a­zine. Not that there was any­thing wrong with the old for­mat, but good to see some fresh sec­tions – R-Rated sounds like a great idea.

I es­pe­cially like read­ing Phil An­ders’ col­umns. His re­cent ‘13 rules of mus­cle car own­er­ship’ ( AMC #72) got me think­ing. I agree with the 13 listed, (es­pe­cially the cus­tom rego rule) but I was won­der­ing his opin­ion on three more I thought of.

Rule 14: Chev badges on Holden Com­modores are a no-no. Do Amer­i­cans drive around with Holden badges on their Chevs? Can’t say I’ve seen a Holden Ca­maro re­cently.

Rule 15: Clas­sic cars on LPG. If a clas­sic car was meant to be on BBQ gas it would have been built that way. If you’re wor­ried about fuel con­sump­tion then you’re in the wrong mar­ket. An XY Fal­con 500 GT clone run­ning on LPG isn’t fool­ing any­one.

Rule 16: Not specif­i­cally a clas­sic car, but XR6 Fal­cons with XR8 bon­net bulges and/or Boss stripes. Your bon­net bulge doesn’t make you look tougher, nor is it even re­motely as iconic as a XY Shaker. So no points there ei­ther.

Any­way, keep up the good work. Loved the Pacer fea­ture last is­sue. Great to see an un­der­rated car get some much de­served at­ten­tion. Luke Char­teris Email Phil’s re­ply: Thank you for your sup­port, Luke, and for your con­tri­bu­tion of rules 14, 15 and 16. I had in­tended to only have 13 rules, that be­ing my favourite Bathurst­win­ning num­ber. How­ever, in hon­our of Dick John­son, I will add one more. Rule 17: Take rules 1 to 13 with a grain of salt.

Less Mus­cle Car rules

In re­sponse to Phil An­ders 13 rules of mus­cle car own­er­ship – what a load of garbage!

If an owner of a mus­cle car wants to paint his XY GT Wild Vi­o­let then they should do it. If they want to put af­ter­mar­ket flares, scoops and Sim­mons on their To­rana then they should do it. If they have the wrong tyres, crap num­ber plates, stick­ers, in­cor­rect ap­parel, art, sig­na­tures, nick­names, etc, then that’s up to the owner.

It’s their car and they should feel free to en­joy it as they see fit.

Not ev­ery­one wants a per­fectly re­stored car as it came from the fac­tory.

Phil An­ders can have his opin­ion but his judge­men­tal guide wasn’t worth print­ing. Rob Humphreys From Face­book

Can­non­ball re­union

Ihave been asked to help spread the word of an up­com­ing ‘re­union’ of par­tic­i­pants, of­fi­cials and fans of the Can­non­ball Run which was staged in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory in May 1994. So this year marks the 20th an­niver­sary.

The re­union will held at the me­mo­rial on the Stu­art High­way, ap­prox­i­mately 98km south of Alice Springs and at the Stu­art Well Road­house and Car­a­van Park which is 5km north of the me­mo­rial on May 24, 2014.

There have been pre­vi­ous gath­er­ings at the me­mo­rial by a few Can­non­ball fans over the last few years, how­ever it is our aim to bump this up a notch or two and en­cour­age for­mer driv­ers, crews and of­fi­cials to at­tend this year’s gath­er­ing, and if pos­si­ble some of the orig­i­nal en­tered cars.

Please be aware that this re­union is not ‘of­fi­cial’ in na­ture and we make no claims of rep­re­sent­ing any or­gan­i­sa­tion re­lated to the orig­i­nal Can­non­ball Run. We are sim­ply a group of en­thu­si­asts who wish to re­mem­ber the event for how it was in­tended and not for how it ended up. It is not a ‘catered for’ event. It is strictly BYO ev­ery­thing. Ac­com­mo­da­tion is avail­able at the Stu­art Well Road­house and Car­a­van Park which is the clos­est avail­able to the site. Book­ings should be made di­rectly with them.

There will be no ad­mis­sion price charged for the re­union, with all of the at­ten­dees pay­ing for their own food and drink.

If enough in­ter­est is re­ceived, we in­tend to pass the ‘can’ around amongst at­ten­dees to raise some money for the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice, who we feel to be a wor­thy cause.

We are ask­ing for help in spread­ing the word around amongst known Can­non­ball com­peti­tors, crews and of­fi­cials that this get to­gether is now hap­pen­ing. So please con­tact us via email: can­non­ball­run­re­union2014@out­look.com

There is also a Face­book page - sim­ply type in ‘Can­non­ball Run NT 1994 - 2014 20th An­niver­sary and Re­union’. Dar­ryl Kelly Email

Prince and the evo­lu­tion

Just a quick note to say that 2014 is the 50th an­niver­sary of the Prince Sky­line GT (launched May 1964). It’s a car which has a sim­i­lar story to the EH S4 fea­tured in AMC #68, the dif­fer­ence be­ing the Prince GT was con­ceived by a small Ja­panese com­pany and cre­ated by aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neers, but with the same goals in mind: to go rac­ing as a pro­duc­tion sedan to pro­mote the model and the com­pany. Prince merged with Nis­san in 1966. A to­tal 293 ex­am­ples of the high per­for­mance GTBs were ex­ported to Aus­tralia from 1965-1968 of which some 30 sur­vive. Some are on the road or be­ing re­stored, ac­cord­ing to the Prince Sky­line GT Reg­is­ter.

The sim­i­lar­i­ties to the S4 in­clude that it was a four-door sedan with a two-litre (EH was 2.9-litre) in-line six-cylin­der en­gine and that both mod­els com­peted in the early Bathurst 500s.

The Sky­line had multi carbs, a five-speed gear­box, disc brakes (on the front), LSD, and a big fuel tank (99 litres) and var­i­ous other mods, all fac­tory stan­dard and it was ho­molo­gated for com­pe­ti­tion.

The birth of the Sky­line may not be of in­ter­est to your read­ers, as I do ap­pre­ci­ate it is not a mus­cle car, but I do re­mem­ber there was a story on the Gibson-era Sky­lines in an early edi­tion of the mag­a­zine, with a small men­tion of the Prince GT her­itage.

The Prince Sky­line GT Reg­is­ter is plan­ning to cel­e­brate the mile­stone with a gath­er­ing of own­ers in May 2014. Noel Sin­clair Email

What went wrong?

RRe­gard­ing Paul Gover’s com­ment piece in AMC #72, it’s hard to know what would have hap­pened to the Com­modore and Fal­con had both com­pa­nies iden­ti­fied the trend to smaller ve­hi­cles much ear­lier.

Sure both com­pa­nies had smaller im­ported op­tions, but these did not have the ap­peal of the home-grown prod­uct. The re­al­ity was that for decades the ‘big two’ were in­dis­pens­able for Aus­tralian fam­i­lies and property own­ers for a myr­iad of tasks, such as tow­ing boats and cart­ing hay, etc.

But over time the twin-cab ute and SUVs were en­croach­ing on the big sedan/wagon’s ver­sa­til­ity and the me­nial task of shop­ping was rel­e­gated to the smaller sedan im­ports.

The ex­cep­tion, of course, were the large two-tonne SUVs that moth­ers just had to have for the twice-daily school run. At 40km/h in a

school zone at peak times these are death on wheels for the kids – grumpy old man speak I know, but true just the same. Eric Waples Al­bion Park, NSW

Like fa­ther, like daugh­ter

Just a lit­tle story of our fam­ily’s XA GT – and how his­tory has re­peated it­self. The XA was bought by my Dad, Kevin May, back in the early 1970s as a demo model from Al­lan Lung Ford, Port Au­gusta, South Aus­tralia. The XA GT is the first car I ever had a ride in af­ter leav­ing hospi­tal as a new­born.

My wife and I re­cently had our first child and I think you can guess which car our bun­dle of joy came home in. Our bub, Sophie, loved it too. No sooner had we started to drive off and she fell asleep to the sweet tune of the V8.

The XA GT was my Dad’s daily drive for the most part up un­til 1978 when he traded it in on a 1978 Fair­mont GXL.

Through­out my child­hood, Dad would al­ways rem­i­nisce about the XA GT and say that he wished he had never sold it. Dur­ing the 1980s we saw it on one oc­ca­sion, parked on the side of the road. We also saw it ad­ver­tised once for sale but were not in a po­si­tion to buy it. I used to keep pic­tures of it on my bed­room wall sur­rounded by other GTs, etc.

Then in 1994 a GT club mem­ber in­formed us he knew the where­abouts of the car. We got con­tact de­tails and rang the owner, Ron. He had the car in his shed, as it had be­longed to his son but he had un­for­tu­nately passed away. Ron was then in­tend­ing to com­plete the restora­tion of the car that his son had al­ready be­gun.

We asked if he wanted to sell, given our his­tory with the car but he was not in­ter­ested at that stage. So Dad gave him our con­tact num­ber and asked to him to call if he ever changed his mind. Mean­while, Dad bought an XW GT, re­stored a Red Pep­per XA GT and sold the Fair­mont GXL which was fully loaded with a warm 351 – Mid­night Blue with grey vinyl roof.

Mov­ing for­ward to 2000, Dad re­ceived a phone call out of the blue. It was Ron want­ing to sell the car. We went straight around to his place and there it was still in the shed in the same state as it was in 1994. He had not touched a panel. The rest is his­tory! We bought the car, re­stored it to­gether and had it on the road by 2003. We were proudly awarded ‘Best Re­stored XA GT’ at the GT Na­tion­als 2005.

Dad had also re­tained the orig­i­nal XA GT owner’s man­ual from when he had first owned the car, for all those years, and was very happy to see them re­united with each other. Adam May Ade­laide, SA Due to a bumper crop of great Mus­cle Mail, our reg­u­lar Mus­cle As­sist sec­tion has been ‘rested’ for this is­sue. As­sist will re­turn next edi­tion. Mean­time, reader Rob Bai­ley pointed out that one of the two Cus­tom­lines that crashed in 1958 at Al­bert Park (shown in Mus­cle Ma­niac last is­sue) was driven that day by Owen Bai­ley and not for­mer owner Norm Beechey as stated in the story.

Peter Per­rin Langhorne Creek SA

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