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.