The Missing in Action name has gone MIA. Theme song: A certain U2 song.
Missing In Action is changing. Truth be known, as time marches on, finding suitable vehicles to search for is getting trickier and trickier. What’s more, actually finding those MIA cars is bearing less fruit. Nonetheless, whenever we ask readers to nominate their favourite sections of the magazine, MIA is invariably in the top three responses.
Therefore, from this edition, AMC is broadening this page’s scope. After much deliberation, the back page in your favourite magazine becomes Waddayaknow?
We’re not abandoning the MIA concept, just expanding upon it. This is now a quest for information on pertinent vehicles from our muscle car or touring car history. That mission includes the whereabouts of the relevant cars today.
The idea came to us when we posted some of Ian ‘Noddy’ Madden’s shots from the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 on AMC’s Facebook page, specifically pics that we couldn’t manage to squeeze into Punter Pics last issue, #75. One of Noddy’s images (pictured below), which showed a humble class car negotiating Forrest’s Elbow, drew a big reaction.
Typical was the comment left by reader Steve Amor, who wrote: “Missing in Action subject. Cortina @ Bathurst!? Never seen that.”
If ever there was a suitable car for our first Waddayaknow, it’s this one.
Okay, it’s no muscle car, so don’t bother writing in to complain. However, it is an Aussie-built machine that contested our Great Race of which little is known. With the Australian automotive industry soon to pull down the shutters, there’s clearly a growing interest in all locally built or assembled cars. That includes TC Cortinas.
Of course, Mk I Cortinas had a distinguished competition history and scored three consecutive wins in the Bathurst 500, from 1963 to 1965. The MkII version didn’t reach those lofty heights, yet still had a tin-top racing presence courtesy of Jim McKeown. In contrast, the Mk III, launched in Australian in August 1971, had a lower profile than Salman Rushdie (remember him?).
Geoff Westbury and Jim Sullivan did their bit, though, driving a 2.0-litre L version at Bathurst that year in Class C, for cars priced $2501-$3150. The pair qualified 49th in the 60-car field and completed 110 of the 130 laps, for 35th outright. This equated to eighth in class, seven laps behind Gary Cooke’s pace-setting Mazda RX2, LC Torana GTRs, Escorts and a Morris Cooper S.
As the pics on this page show, the Cortina carried the signage of Newcastle businesses (Ford dealer) Klosters, NBN 3 TV and radio 2KO. Oddly, the crew added splashes of pink around the windscreen for race day, despite it being the only Cortina in the race!
Sullivan had a long career as a journalist, and later news director at NBN, and contributed to Racing Car News in this era.
Three years earlier, Sullivan drove another orphan – a HK Kingswood – to 28th, while Westbury campaigned a Hillman Arrow in 1967 and Cortina 1600 in 1970.
Beyond that, details of this Novocastrian-backed Cortina effort are thin on the ground. We’d love to know more.
So Waddayaknow? And does this Cortina live on today?
Our journalistic radar is telling us there’s a story to be told about the only TC Cortina to grace the Great Race. We’d love to hear from drivers, crew, sponsors, whoever...
Well, waddayaknow about this 1971 Bathurst Cortina? Drop us a line at email@example.com