Se­cret mark­ings

Australian Muscle Car - - Immortal Muscle -


has read count­less emails and cor­re­spon­dence from a range of sources in­clud­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions and first-hand anal­y­sis of the NMRM car un­der­taken by pas­sion­ate and ea­gle-eyed en­thu­si­asts. We’ve also had con­ver­sa­tions with a wide cross-sec­tion of peo­ple in­volved with the HDT at the time and with the cars since.

One of th­ese chats un­earthed what can only be de­scribed as a ‘gold nugget’ of in­for­ma­tion we were very keen to pur­sue.

The source was Jeff Grech, ex-HDT me­chanic, who later would work for Perkins En­gi­neer­ing, the Volvo Dealer Team, Gib­son Mo­tor­sport and lead the Holden Rac­ing Team dur­ing its golden late 1990s and early 2000s pe­riod.

Now out of the sport, Grech re­vealed to AMC a never-be­fore-pub­lished piece of in­for­ma­tion that could hold a cru­cial clue as to which of the Marl­boro HDT Com­modore VK Big Bangers is #05 and which is #25.

How does he know? Be­cause 30 years ago he says he made a unique mark on both of the cars as they were be­ing built.

For the first time, Grech re­vealed to AMC the mark he made on both cars.

“The #25 car had an ‘S’ on it and the #05 had ‘B’ on it,” Grech told us. “That’s all it had for ‘Slug’ (John Har­vey’s nick­name) and ‘Brock’.

“I just stamped them with a let­ter and a ham­mer punch. There was noth­ing very high-tech about it. The dashes were out (of the car) so I just went bang and bang! It was just as ‘Part’ (fel­low for­mer HDT crew mem­ber Neill Burns’s nick­name) put stamps on the en­gines.

“There was a mark­ing I put on the cars. On par­tic­u­lar cars and I’ve al­ways done it, even later at Holden Rac­ing Team, there was al­ways a lit­tle sig­na­ture put some­where just so you knew.

“Just like when peo­ple lay con­crete and put a lit­tle sig­na­ture into it be­fore it dries.

“Now whether that is still there or not, I can’t com­ment. On one of the cars, if there’s a let­ter on the sec­ond bend down to the floor on the A bar, that will re­ally tell the story.

“No one else knows that and I’ve never told any­one about it un­til now.”

AMC has worked with the Na­tional Mo­tor Rac­ing Mu­seum in analysing the roll-cage of the HDT Big Banger in their pos­ses­sion. The area is one that has not been an­a­lysed. Un­til now.

Terry Mor­gan is work­shop man­ager of the Bathurst Re­gional Coun­cil, owner of the NMRM, and has had a long in­volve­ment with the 1984 HDT Com­modore in its pos­ses­sion.

Mor­gan has had a very close look for the mark­ing, us­ing a lip­stick cam­era ca­pa­ble of tak­ing clear images. Sadly he’s en­coun­tered a road­block.

“We’ve had a look ev­ery­where and we have a pretty good tool for do­ing th­ese things,” he says. “There is one spot (on the cage) where you can’t get ac­cess even with the dash re­moved. There is a metal plate about 75mm long cov­er­ing that area of the roll-cage. You can’t get in be­tween the metal plate and the roll-cage with­out tak­ing an an­gle grinder to it and we’re cer­tainly not go­ing to do that!

“We’ve looked up and down where the kink in the cage is and there’s cer­tainly noth­ing ob­vi­ous around the front, top or sides. So I think the mark is cov­ered. I’d say it’s in the spot where the plate is cov­er­ing it.”

It goes with­out say­ing that the AMC team was buoyed by Grech’s rev­e­la­tion, only to be de­flated when told this el­e­ment of the cage is un­reach­able. Nev­er­the­less, the in­sight is one that has never been re­ported any­where be­fore and, given that the cage in the car that went to Perth and Eng­land was changed, there will be nei­ther a ‘B’ or ‘S’ mark­ing in that area of the cage in the car now owned by Peter Cham­pion.

De­spite the dis­ap­point­ment of reach­ing a dead-end re­gard­ing Grech’s se­cret mark­ings, other av­enues of in­ves­ti­ga­tion proved more fruit­ful.

Above: After learn­ing of Grech’s se­cret mark­ings, AMC asked Bathurst Re­gional Coun­cil’s col­lec­tions man­ager Tim Pike for per­mis­sion to check the NMRM’s VK. The lip­stick cam­era re­vealed that an L-shaped metal plate cov­ered the spot on the roll-cage where Grech made his mark. The Cham­pion car’s roll-cage was changed in the UK.

Peter Brock and Jeff

Grech. Bathurst 1984 ss ro C l au P

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