Brock’s ‘78 A9X

Peter Brock/Jim Richards

Australian Muscle Car - - Tha Cars That Won Bathurist -

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.

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