The Bathurst museum piece
car on display at the National Motor Racing Museum was presented to Bathurst council in 1985, 12 months after its famous victory.
For the bulk of the time since the handover it has been looked after by Bathurst Regional Council’s workshop manager Terry Morgan.
Neill Burns was a long-time Holden Dealer Team member charged with the responsibility of pumping out the power from the Holden 308 engines.
“They gutted #05 and it went to the Museum with just standard road stuff in it,” he recalls. “Holden were paying for it to go to the Museum.
“A 253 (cubic inch) engine went into it. I thought it came back in 1985 to have the right gear put back into it, but I left (HDT) at the end of that year so I’m not sure.”
It would appear that the car later – presumably after the handover to the Council at Bathurst in October 1985 – had the road gear removed, so when Council came into full-time possession of #05, it was minus its most valuable running gear. This was no shock, as Brock had indicated this would be case.
“The #05 car was a rolling chassis when we got it back,” Morgan recalls. “It had its guts stripped out and was sent to us. We fitted out the Group C running gear and had to source an engine, gearbox and diff.
“The car came back completely assembled but with standard componentry. There were standard links holding the diff in place, so we got Harrop Engineering to send us drawings for the race parts and we manufactured those ourselves and made them up here.
“We acquired a Super T10 gearbox and also an engine about 20 years ago, which was from the ex-Peter Janson Cadbury-Schweppes Group C Commodore. The only real variation in the engine from what the HDT had run was the pistons – they had run Cosworths in the Brock cars.
“So it’s not Brock’s original engine in the car and we’ve never passed it off as the full, complete car that raced at Bathurst.
“When it came back it had all the signage on the dashboard of [the] Brock and Perkins [car], the indicator displays and the little signs on the dash.
“It was in the Museum for 10 or so years and it had school kids through it and heaps of people used it as a backdrop for their weddings with brides even sitting in it!”
Sadly too though, eager memorabilia hunters took all sorts of little bits and pieces from the car over these years, meaning there are likely plenty of people out there with their own little piece of ‘Big Banger’. Nonetheless, most of the HDT’s white, hand-painted instrumentation markings remain, as we will outline in the next section.
“I don’t know how many gear knobs were souvenired over the years!” says Morgan.
Burns says he is surprised the museum car didn’t have the original running gear in it.
“All the stuff was upstairs in the workshop. Gearbox, rear end, engine, there were four of five engines there. That’s why I can’t understand why they (the museum) got one from somewhere else.”
The explanation for this appears to have ended up being cost.
“We had the car for a while before we started to do some work on it,” says Morgan. “Our budgets in those days for racecar restorations were $13,000 or $14,000 a year. We had a quote from Larry Perkins for an engine for $20,000.
“So we went shopping and found one for $10,000 which we purchased.
“We rebuilt it over a number of years. Once our budget for a year was gone, we had to wait for the next year.
“Our #05 car has never been re-sprayed. Because it had original signage and stone chips, we just left it as is.”
One exception is the front bumper/spoiler which deteriorated to such a degree that it was starting to look very tatty, in contrast to the rest of the car. The original signage on the spoiler has been touched up in the last couple of years, most notably ‘Rocktober’.
“Sure, we could have tidied it up a lot more and restored it better, but it’s not always best to do that,” Morgan explains.
Another of the elements that has had some work is the seats. And it was while having them re-upholstered that another telltale sign of it being #05 emerged.
“Bathurst Trim did that for us around the time actually that Peter died (in 2006). The gentleman that did the work called us. He knew about the discussion about the identities of the two cars from 1984 and said that the fibreglass seat moulds beneath the upholstery had ‘Brock 05’ with black texta on the fibreglass with ‘DOM 84’ (DOM standing for Date of Manufacturer).
“Sure, you could swap seats in cars just like you could swap doors, but I don’t know they would have gone to that much trouble!”
“The car we’ve got, the shell and wheels are genuine. Brock’s team did his carburettors a bit different to most other cars with Webers. They sat them the other way around and machined the inner edges off them so they had better flow into the HDT manifold which was a homologated part. Others had them standing up on an adaptor plate.
“We’re not saying we have the car as it won Bathurst in 1984, but we’re pretty happy we believe we have the winning chassis from that day.”
Morgan did confirm that the car did briefly leave the Museum and return to Brock’s workshop in Melbourne. We believe this was in 1988 given the existence of a photo showing it in Brock’s workshop with an M3 BMW also in the frame.
“It had been sitting here for a while and there may have been a thought they could get it restored by Brock’s team,” recalls Morgan.
“It got down there but turned around pretty quick. [Former boss] Peter Gannon said we were going to have to do it ourselves. It was too much money and the parts were no longer available anyway (ED: Understandable given Brock had busted up with Holden by then too and was racing BMW M3s!) so the next thing we knew it was back here and we started to source bits ourselves.”