w Strut your stuff
cial paperwork on the two 1984 HDT Commodore VKs seems to be thin on the ground. Sadly, the whereabouts of the two original logbooks is unknown.
In the absence of a car’s logbook, the next best thing is the logbook application made by a team to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport prior to the vehicle’s racing debut.
Previous AMC research into HDT Commodores for other projects on other team cars of the period shows that simple details referring to chassis or body numbers weren’t included in logbook applications to CAMS, though they were recorded in the actual logbooks themselves.
Our sources have confirmed this was the case for the two logbook applications made for the two day-glo VKs with ‘NIL’ listed in the critical chassis number field.
In any case, the first completed Big Banger car – confirmed by a range of sources – was known as HDT COM 6 with a marking as such made in the strut tower. That same marking is evident on the car in Bathurst’s NMRM.
The second car was known as HDT COM 7 and, given that the front end/strut towers of that car were replaced at some stage after accidents overseas, it has had a small ‘HDT COM 7’ plate added to it that is not original from 1984.
HDT mechanic Jeff Grech vividly recalls that the first completed car was Brock’s and stayed as #05 for its entire, albeit brief, racing life. This in itself is simple evidence that the first completed car would be the earlier chassis number – and that had been #05. “Yes, the 05 car was the first built,” he says. “To be fair, when you mean ‘first built’, they were actually built alongside one another together.
“But the car that was in the photo shoot was #05 and it stayed #05. It was the priority and it was important to have it done.
“I remember we didn’t shake the #25 car down at Calder; it wasn’t ready. From memory, Larry [Perkins] was still doing the second manifold and the adaptor plate for it and a few other things.
“We finally made Sandown. The #25 car didn’t
run until then. It didn’t get a shakedown but they were simple cars and it really didn’t need it.”
Grech supplied AMC with a photo of an engine bay of one of the HDT cars from Sandown 1984. It clearly shows a date written on the battery in texta – ‘6/9/1984’ – which was the Thursday of race week at Sandown given the race was on Sunday September 9.
Another photo shows the #05 car being pushed back into the bay nearest pit exit of the two used by the HDT that weekend (and we also have another photo taken by another photographer from the rear of the garage showing the same), meaning we’re 99.9 per cent sure the engine bay image is of #25.
The marking of such a late date of the battery would line up with Grech’s recollection that the second car was finished only just before Sandown and did not run prior to heading out there for the Castrol 500. The last minute scramble didn’t stop the HDT finishing first and third.
Top: This pre-Sandown shot supplied by Neill Burns shows the two VKs ready for the short trip to their first race. Centre: The NMRM car displays the COM #06 stamp on the strut tower. Below: Engine-builder Burns in the HDT workshop.
Top: Brock and Perkins gave the new #05 a debut win at Sandown. Centre: #25 engine’s bay at Sandown with the battery’s date-marking evident.