Luke West


Australian Muscle Car - - Induction -

I’ve said it be­fore and I’ll say it again: we never know what we’ll un­earth when we em­bark on an AMC story. This edi­tion’s cover story, on #61E’s ill-fated at­tempt on the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500, is a per­fect ex­am­ple. We knew the story of this sur­viv­ing GT-HO Phase III was a ripper be­fore we hit the go but­ton on re­search­ing it. The tale of a Bathurst-bound team’s thor­ough­bred hit­ting an er­rant horse on ru­ral roads a few weeks be­fore the big race just begged to be told in full.

What we didn’t know – and sub­se­quently dis­cov­ered – was the sad back-story to Bald­win Ford’s one and only Great Race cam­paign.

The ‘Wild Horses’ fea­ture, start­ing page 36, paints the full pic­ture, so I won’t go into de­tail about it now. But I do want to high­light that the story pro­vides an in­sight into the days when dealer-en­tered teams pro­vided the bulk of the Hardie-Ferodo’s field.

These were the glory days for Ford on the race­track and in the show­room, as the Blue Oval ate into the Red Lion’s mar­ket share. Thus, most Ford deal­er­ships were boom­ing. But not all.

I made a point of driv­ing past the old Bald­win Ford – now Ti­tan Ford – when the West fam­ily headed to the beach one Satur­day in March, at the peak of re­search­ing the story. I would have stopped to take a pic, but I took pity on the mis­sus, who has al­ready en­dured a life­time’s worth of car-re­lated side-trips.

Nonethe­less, it was re­as­sur­ing to see that an im­pres­sive-look­ing deal­er­ship is still on the site. I say this be­cause many of the deal­ers whose names fea­tured on race­cars of Bathurst’s Se­ries Pro­duc­tion era have fallen by the way­side in re­cent times.

AMC’s of­fice is just around the cor­ner from the site of for­mer Ford stal­warts Alto Ford, so it’s the one I’m most tuned into.

Any­one who lived in Syd­ney through the 1970s and ’80s will tell you that you couldn’t turn on the TV or ra­dio with­out hear­ing Alto Ford’s dis­tinc­tive and long-time jin­gle: “Take a drive on the north­side, don’t go south or east or west... come to Alto Ford... take a drive on the north­side, for­get about the rest... come to Alto Ford...” And many a Bathurst race­car fea­tured the dis­tinc­tive name.

Alto Ford has now dis­ap­peared. I had no­ticed the Alto Group’s Audi fran­chise slowly ex­pand into spots pre­vi­ously dressed in blue. Then one-day in early 2013, the Ford signs van­ished. To­day a Mit­subishi show­room and yard sit on the old Alto Ford site at Ar­tar­mon. Red di­a­monds re­placed the yel­low ban­ners of the short-lived Opel out­let.

I’m sure AMC read­ers have no­ticed the dis­ap­pear­ance of long-time deal­er­ships, be they Ford or Holden, in their own area over the last five years. Last year’s bomb­shells will surely ac­cel­er­ate the shift­ing sands in deal­er­land. Sad, re­ally.

Any­way, hope you en­joy the story about the old warhorse. I know you will be moved by the back-story too.

A Volvo in AMC?

That’s right, part of our ‘The Cars that won Bathurst’ se­ries. Given Volvo’s stun­ning V8 Su­per­car en­try, it’s a good time to re­count the mar­que’s finest mo­ment on the Moun­tain (BMW’s too) and find out where the car lives to­day.

Scott McLaugh­lin’s in­stant Su­per­car suc­cess and the groundswell of good­will to­wards the happy-golucky young­ster and the Swedish brand have been fas­ci­nat­ing to ob­serve.

But now things could get re­ally in­ter­est­ing. AMC is now keen to see how Holden’s rac­ing heavy­weights re­spond to an­other mar­que win­ning reg­u­larly. As we noted last is­sue, Holden has never been shy in flex­ing its po­lit­i­cal mus­cle when things don’t go its way in Aussie rac­ing’s pre­mier di­vi­sion. We’ll fol­low de­vel­op­ments as the sea­son pro­gresses.

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