The Bathurst mu­seum piece

Australian Muscle Car - - Immortal Muscle -

The

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.”

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