The Bathurst Kingswood!?

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -


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!”

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