HDT hero

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle man -

Ral­ly­ing

was banned in NSW in ’69, so there was no state cham­pi­onship. Just as VW de­cided to get out of ral­ly­ing, call from Harry Firth of­fered Barry a drive in a HT 253 Monaro for the South­ern Cross in Oc­to­ber that year, re-ig­nit­ing his Holden re­la­tion­ship.

He took fourth in that Cross and iron­i­cally was pipped for the fi­nal podium spot by Colin Bond in a Mit­subishi Colt, who just a week ear­lier had won the Hardie Ferodo 500 in the HDT 350 Holden Monaro.

“There was al­ready talk of a switch to the six­cylin­der To­rana in 1970 while also run­ning GTS 350 Monaros in the Am­pol Round Aus­tralia in July, so it was a timely call.”

Sea­son 1970 proved in­ter­est­ing with the ill-han­dling To­rana GTR caus­ing the un­flap­pable Fer­gu­son more than a few scares thanks to its un­pre­dictable be­hav­iour.

“The big prob­lem was its lack of sus­pen­sion travel and it took a lot of work to sort out the beast, but they did in the end.” said Barry.

“You’d en­ter a cor­ner and it might un­der­steer or over­steer and some­times do a lit­tle of both. It was di­a­bol­i­cal, but it was our job to sort the car out and make it com­pet­i­tive for a tilt at the Aus­tralian cham­pi­onship.”

Firth put Bond in the 350 Monaro for ARC ral­lies while Barry used the new To­rana GTR in NSW and Bond’s Bathurst co-driver Tony Roberts in Vic­to­ria.

Barry was happy with a state cam­paign for var­i­ous rea­sons. “I was still work­ing for Arnott’s, I had a young fam­ily and com­mit­ments and this was still just a hobby for me, I was happy for it to stay that way.

Al­though in de­vel­op­ment phase and still about as sta­ble and pre­dictable as a shop­ping trol­ley, Barry took the new GTR to three wins clinch­ing his fifth NSW ti­tle and his first in a Holden.

“The team sorted the To­rana sus­pen­sion, length­en­ing arms and us­ing shims to pack the bushes to give the car some pre­dictable man­ners, al­though in­trin­si­cally it was al­ways a com­pro­mise.”

He topped the year by win­ning his se­cond South­ern Cross, driv­ing the 186ci LC XU-1.

With the To­rana sorted, Fer­gu­son won his sixth NSW ti­tle in 1971 in the then new LJ XU-1 bring­ing his time with Firth’s HDT to a close. In ’72 he’d join Doug Ste­wart’s Mit­subishi team snar­ing his sev­enth and eighth NSW ti­tles.

Top: On the 1970 Am­pol Trial. Below left: With Dave John­ston. Bot­tom right: On the ’72 South­ern Cross Rally.

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