Brock’s ‘78 A9X
Peter Brock/Jim Richards
1978 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 winner
#05 Marlboro Holden Dealer Team Holden LX Torana A9X hatchback Our series on the cars that conquered the Mountain continues with the first of two Torana A9Xs driven to victory by Peter Brock. AMC outlines the lifestory of the 1978 Bathurst-winning car, which, in some ways, has lived in the shadow of its older brother, the ‘79 race winner. But shouldn’t.
Peter Brock remains a giant of Australian motorsport nearly a decade after his death. Of all the cars that spring to mind from his glorious career, front and centre are the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team A9X Toranas he steered in 1978 and 1979 upon his return to the factory fold.
These 400-horsepower, five-litre Holden 308-powered racers were the cars that Brock often expressed his love for when asked about the favourite cars of his career.
They are the ones in which he performed some of his most skilful mastery of conditions, opposition and the stopwatch.
Brock was in fact quoted in 1980 as saying of his 1978 Bathurst winner: “A taut, muscley little car with heaps of urge and good brakes, bumpy through the corners like a sports car, in fact a pretty exciting thing.”
Thirty-six years on, it’s hard to find a better way to describe it.
One of the most commonly made mistakes by race fans is believing that his two Hardie-Ferodo 1000 wins in A9Xs came in the same #05 Torana. They most certainly did not and this issue we’ve decided to put the ’78 winning car’s history under the microscope.
In the past we interviewed Brock on the A9Xs generally (issue #2), focused on the 1979 ATCC battle between Brock and Bob Morris specifically ( AMC #11) and detailed the A9X road and race project overall (issue #35). However, never before have we stopped to tell the story of the car that gave Brock his third Mountain win and the great Jim Richards his very first of an eventual seven.
While the 1979 winner is often lauded more considering it was the last Torana Bathurst winner and won by the record margin of six laps, the ’78 winning car has a longer racing history and more twists to its tale. Not only did it win Bathurst, but it claimed a Sandown endurance crown as well as numerous Australian Touring Car Championship round wins and endurance round victories as well.
Its results sheet is in fact far more impressive than the 1979 car, which had a brief competition life and the romantic notion of a six-lap victory to help cement its place in history.
Another often overlooked point is that the chassis number (the sole identification number on a GMP&A shell earmarked for competition) from the ’78 A9X bodyshell shows it to be an earlier example than the unit that became the 1979 Bathurst-winning chassis. Both shells were manufactured in late December 1977 at GM-H’s Dandenong, Victoria plant, although it’s unknown when these GMP&A race shells would have been subsequently completed (to race spec) on the production line. Completion to race spec involved the GMP&A shells being walked down the line with a number of road car processes skipped in the interest of saving weight and construction time for teams. This included leaving off unnecessary brackets, sound-deadening compounds, and panel joint and window sealants. The factory workers also put in double the number of spot welds to increase strength and rigidity.