The Bathurst Kingswood!?
Kingswood!? You’re not taking the Kingswood! I’ve just Glad Wrapped the aerial. We’re not sure what Ted Bullpitt would have made of this – the only Kingswood to race in the Bathurst classic.
The long-running Holden nameplate’s legendary status in Australian popular culture, thanks largely to the Kingswood Country TV sitcom, didn’t extend to motorsport fame. However, in 1968, the year the Kingswood was launched in the HK Holden range, one example did contest the Hardie-Ferodo 500.
Mount Panorama was more Monaro country than anything in ’68, but motoring journalist Jim Sullivan and Sib Petralia did climb behind the wheel of a 186S-powered ‘King’.
The pair was entered in Class C, for cars priced $2251 to $3000, primarily the domain of the Morris Cooper S. Eight Minis took on four Fiat 125s – Lex Marinos’s character Bruno Bertalucci would have been proud – a solitary Falcon XT 500 V8 and its fellow orphan. The #35C car, sourced from Newcastle Holden dealer Young and Green, qualified in 43rd place, 29 seconds off pole-sitter and race winner Bruce McPhee’s best and 15 seconds slower than the quickest in its class, the Falcon.
“The Holden belonged to motoring journo Bill Tuckey who was also running his high performance advanced driving school,” Sullivan explained to AMC.
Jim says he had just returned from racing Formula 3 in Europe and was simply happy to accept Tuckey’s invitation for a free drive. He can’t recall what motivated Tuckey to enter a Kingswood six specifically, but does have vivid memories of the campaign itself.
“A good friend of mine, Peter Mullen, who was also a really handy hillclimb driver, had a tuning business. He set the car up – although there wasn’t much you could do.
“I seem to remember our tweaking boiled down to fiddling with ignition advance, etc and then seeing how fast the 186S would go from a standing start on a particular stretch of road. Then checking the speed against Peter’s own car, which also happened to be a 186S.”
“It was a pretty trouble-free run, although we had the gearbox in and out a few times during practice because it kept jumping out of third gear. It did the same in the race so it was one-handed drive whenever it was in third.”
Jim’s definition of “pretty trouble-free” must be different to ours! Especially as he and Petralia found themselves without brakes from very early in the race.
“My only moment was after a pit stop for fuel, when I went for the brakes at Skyline the pedal went to the floor – the old brake fluids had a tendency to boil and Skyline would have been the first hard application after leaving the pits. So, holding third gear in, it meant a bit of onehanded desperation to stay off the fence. I guess it was easier to wash off speed by going sideways back then.”
After its spin they battled on to the finish 28th overall in the 60-car field (16 laps down on McPhee) and 10th in class (seven laps down on Charlie Gibson and Don Holland’s Cooper S).
And that was the end of the famed Kingswood nameplate’s Bathurst career. What became of the #35C HK is unknown.
If, by some miracle, this 186S ‘King’ still exists, we’d love to know and receive pics. After all, this car played a small but unique part in Holden’s glorious Bathurst history.
As Ted Bullpitt would say, “Pickle me grandmother!”