Muscle Mail AMC BEST LETTER
The reader’s letter that is judged to be the best in each issue will win a Meguiar’s detailing pack.
Stirling’s special sedan
you for the great article on the Stirling Moss Special VG Valiants in issue #82. It brought back some fond memories of my first Valiant.
I was really surprised to read that the Stirling Moss Specials accounted for only 148 of the total VG build and even more surprised that there were only nine ‘Stirling’ sedans. However, I can shed some light on one of the previously unaccounted-for Moss sedans.
In 1970 my father purchased a new VG Valiant Stirling Moss Special sedan from Batson’s Garage in Gympie, Queensland.
Our 1960 FB Holden Special station wagon joined the list of Holdens in that big parking lot in the sky when it lost an argument with a cow on a country road at Mary’s Creek, outside Gympie.
My uncle ordered a very ‘special’ VG sedan for my Dad. The hemi had not long been released with all the hype of Stirling Moss’s publicity. Back in the day, with every new Valiant model release, dealerships were provided with the new cars prior to the release date so that on the release day the dealership could have the real cars on the floor. Dad and myself (though pre-licensed) were often co-opted to help drive these pre-release cars (and cars for stock) from Austral Motors (Brisbane and Queensland distributors) to Gympie, so we saw and drove the R and S series, the AP5s and AP6s, the VC, VF and VG and later VH and VK in many models, well before the general public.
From memory, our special VG arrived about August, 1970. It was a Stirling Moss Special registered as PRB-659. It was white with a black vinyl roof, wheel arch mouldings, wheel trims, side protection strips, black floor carpets, that incredible remote external driver’s side mirror and bags of new car scent. No wire headlight protectors though, no heater demister, no radio, no discs, just drum brakes, bench seats and two front seatbelts; a genuine 1970s, six-seater, family car.
Much has been written about the hemi motor. In the sedan and hardtop form there were three versions. The legendary 245ci in either single or two-barrel Carter carburetted form and the sleeper, the little known 215ci hemi low-compression motor with a single-barrel Carter. Different versions of 245 tune also powered the VG Pacers (2 and 4 barrel).
Our Stirling sedan carried the 215 hemi. It ran on ‘standard’ petrol – the 245s ran on ‘super’ – and it was a free-revving delight without, seemingly, the timing chain harmonics and stretch issues of the 245 and later 265 hemis. Very same design though, with no retainer for the cam. Three on the tree, padded dash, and a floor-mounted headlight dipper switch completed the picture. After the FB it was Formula 1-spec stuff.
In the early 1970s and it was university for me. Matchless 500 single and Honda 750 four, until finally my ever-caring uncle decided I needed to be saved from death on two wheels and found me a ’64 Cortina GT with a blown motor. In late 1973, I purchased the VG Stirling from my Dad and he replaced it with a VJ sedan in similar spec to the VG, but without the Stirling tag, obviously.
April 2, 1974. It’s about 4pm, Tuesday afternoon, inward-bound on Ipswich Road at Oxley, south west Brisbane, not too far from the Austral Motors warehouses (where the VG Stirling started its Queensland life) and a ZD Fairlane (green with parchment vinyl roof) driven by an over-indulgent, lunchtime drinker wanders across the outbound lanes, hits the hedged centre island and launches itself into the air, heading right. It lands, very inelegantly, on the bonnet of the inbound VG Stirling, destroying itself and the Stirling in one brief moment.
The purple HQ Ute following the VG buries itself into the back of the VG and something else hits the HQ spinning it around. Smoking brakes, breaking glass, sirens, ambulances, flashing lights, tow trucks, hospitals and insurance claims. Everyone survived, but both the VG Stirling and the ZD became fodder for the Ron Wanless (yes, that Ron Wanless) wrecking yard car crusher, probably both ending up as Coke cans.
And that was the end of one of those nine VG Stirling sedans, the only trace of it now is in an old newspaper cutting which I kept (see photo). Perhaps the only VG Stirling 215 hemi ever made. That leaves only five VG Stirling sedans now left unaccounted for and the three existing sedans. I’ve never seen another VG Stirling sedan, and had no idea how rare they were until your story.
I replaced it with a VJ Charger 265 2 barrel (rego OEC-719) – Sunfire yellow with black bumblebee striping.
Congratulations to Simon Smith for preserving his Aussie icon VG Stirling hardtop. Great mag – I have every issue! ED: Commiserations Lex, thanks for sharing your SMS Val’s story. You will be pleased to know that our feature car’s owner, Simon Smith, has now found out more about his SMS hardtop’s early history. See his note over the page.