V8 SLEUTH WITH AARON NOO­NAN

Australian Muscle Car - - R-rated -

Last is­sue’s de­but col­umn has prompted plenty of sug­ges­tions and thoughts from AMC read­ers as to the crazy places around the world that Aussie rac­ing cars have ended up! The story about the pair of Mo­bil Holden Dealer Team Com­modores built for the ETCC that year sure has en­cour­aged re­ac­tion from plenty of read­ers – plus a few leads to fol­low up on in the fu­ture.

One reader has even emailed to tell me they be­lieve that one of Al­lan Grice’s Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship Com­modores from 1986 has ended up in Fin­land with a ca­reer as a ral­lycross car!

I know there’s an ex-Briggs Mo­tor­sport Fal­con V8 Su­per­car in Malaysia, an ex-HRT Com­modore in Eng­land and a smat­ter­ing of Aussie mus­cle all over the world.

Find­ing the most ob­scure place that an Aussie rac­ing car has ended up surely sounds like a mis­sion for a V8 Sleuth – but only with the help of fan­tas­tic read­ers, so please drop me a note with any sug­ges­tions! Last

is­sue’s cover story cel­e­brated the 40th an­niver­sary of the Holden To­rana SL/R5000 and the go-faster L34 ver­sion. That’s prompted me to write some words about an im­por­tant car that is sit­ting in coun­try Vic­to­ria.

The first Holden Dealer Team SL/R 5000 To­rana – driven in the fi­nal two rounds of the 1974 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship by Peter Brock and help­ing him clinch his maiden ATCC crown – lives on.

The first HDT V8 rac­ing To­rana, it was also raced by Brock and Colin Bond in a few races af­ter those ATCC rounds, but came to grief at Lake­side in the 4IP Pro­duc­tion 500 event for tour­ing cars when a right brake disc col­lapsed and he speared off into a bank.

The HDT had brand new cars for the ManChamp races when the L34-op­tioned chal­lenger was in­tro­duced, so this car was then taken off the track and re­paired.

It was then sent across to Perth to Wayne Ne­gus and passed through the hands of four more own­ers be­fore be­ing pur­chased in 2007 by Rod Hat­field of Bal­larat, who takes up the story.

“When Brock crashed it at Lake­side, he and Michelle Downes (his wife at the time) brought it down and the mo­tor and gear­box was taken out of it and it was taken to John Dixon to re­pair it,” he told the V8 Sleuth.

Pres­sure from the Western Aus­tralian Holden Dealer Group and Marlboro, who com­plained about a lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion and ex­po­sure in the West, saw the car trans­ferred to Ne­gus in 1975 (hence why it then wore a ’75 HDT Marlboro liv­ery).

“Harry (Firth) gave Ne­gus the car to setup and race and he raced it over there for a few years,” says Hat­field.

“It went from him to John Mor­ris and then to Glenn Baker, who was the last one to ac­tu­ally race it in 1984.

“Then it went to David Tay­lor and then Peter Gil­li­son, who was in Col­lie, a min­ing town in Western Aus­tralia.

“It was in a bad way when we got it. It hadn’t been reg­is­tered and he’d put some plates on it and went to one of those ‘go and whoa’ days but he put it into a tree go­ing from sec­ond to third gear. It was bent pretty badly and was five inches and five-eighths shorter on the driver side!

“It had been sit­ting there since 1992 and I got it in 2007. Ini­tially we didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t un­til Wayne Ne­gus wrote us a let­ter that we got onto what it re­ally was. Ev­ery­one over there had thought it was a promo car.

“But Wayne sent Ian Tate (ex-HDT me­chanic) and me an email and he told us the whole story and that’s how it all started.

“It had been sug­gested that the SL/R 5000 had been turned into a HDT rally car, but we clar­i­fied later though that it had been an L34 that be­came the rally car.

“John Dixon was the miss­ing link who could ver­ify the car when we were go­ing through the CoD (Cer­tifi­cate of De­scrip­tion) process with CAMS a few years ago.

“He had it all worked out from look­ing at it within the day. He re­mem­bered that he’d put a new rail in it and they had a lot of trou­ble get­ting parts given the cars were new then and didn’t have many spares so early in the pe­riod of those cars. Ba­si­cally, with­out him we were stuffed!

“The CoD process took two and a half years and I spon­sored Tel­stra to do it! We chased up ev­ery­one who worked on the car.

“It’s still got the orig­i­nal roll-cage in it. We had to start again with a fresh mo­tor but Ian went back through and found de­tails in his diary of what he’d done for the en­gines back in 1974. He’s done the same thing as he did back then and when they put it on the dyno it had 325 com­pared to 305 from back in the day.

“I just need an­other 70 more to keep up with the L34s!”

He ran the car at Calder just be­fore its re­cent spe­cial ap­pear­ance at the Phillip Is­land Clas­sic (see page 74), and was suit­ably thrilled.

“I took it for a run be­cause I hadn’t taken it through its paces in the three years since it has been fin­ished. But it was a beauty!”

Hat­field would like to race it, but given its rar­ity and value as Brock’s first ATCC win­ner, he reck­ons it’s best he doesn’t.

“Plus, it just won’t be com­pet­i­tive with the other Group C cars. With my Dust­ings (ex-Rod McRae) L34 we’re just start­ing to shake up a few A9Xs and Com­modores. But with the SL/R 5000 and L34s you have to drive them care­fully too.”

Now look­ing sharp in its 1974 Brock ATCC ap­pear­ance and spec­i­fi­ca­tion, the SL/R 5000 formed a spe­cial part of fes­tiv­i­ties at the re­cent Phillip Is­land Clas­sic given it’s the 40th an­niver­sary this year of Brock’s first ATCC crown.

Are­cent trip to Mount Panorama for the Bathurst 12 Hour gave me the chance to make a trip to stop in at the Na­tional Mo­tor Rac­ing Mu­seum on the Mon­day af­ter the race (which was a ripper by the way!).

Some vi­sion caught me eye on one of the TV screens in there – it seemed to be ac­tual Chan­nel Seven race tele­cast vi­sion from per­haps 1964, maybe the 1965 race.

Now, given my in­volve­ment with the Seven Sport Magic Mo­ments of Mo­tor­sport DVDs via Chevron and Seven, I know that there would ap­pear to be noth­ing of the sort in the ar­chive.

So where did this vi­sion come from? I asked one of the Mu­seum staff, who in­di­cated it had been used as part of last year’s 75th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions of Mount Panorama.

Per­haps it came from a film reel that had been given to Arm­strong, the spon­sor of the time? Did you per­haps do­nate it to the Mu­seum? I’d love to know, it’s very much a piece of Bathurst en­durance race his­tory.

As al­ways, I love hear­ing from AMC read­ers with ques­tions, in­for­ma­tion or feed­back, so shoot me a note to aaron@v8sleuth.com.au and keep read­ing fu­ture is­sues for sto­ries that could some­times be deemed stranger than fic­tion…

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