Historic Sports Sedans
Despite a growing interest in Sports Sedan racing’s glory days the Historic Group U category has been struggling to get cars on track and gain traction. However, the tide may be about to turn. AMC investigates.
Despite a growing interest in Sports Sedan racing’s glory days, the Historic Group U category has been struggling to gain traction. Just a handful of cars have been log-booked. AMC investigates.
Engine revs rise and the ground begins to shake as a packed grid of Sports Sedans prepares for the start. On pole position it’s John McCormack’s Ansett Team Elfin Valiant Charger. Alongside is Pete Geoghegan’s HJ Monaro GTS 350. Jim Richards’ Big M Falcon XC Hardtop is on row two, flanked by Colin Bond’s Holden Dealer Team Torana LH. Behind them are Mark Trenoweth’s Jaguar XJS, Bryan Thomson’s Chev-powered Mercedes 450SLC, Tony Edmondson’s Alfetta-Chev and Allan Moffat’s Cologne Capri.
If that sounds like the ultimate all-star Sports Sedan fantasy grid, think again: because a field just like this could, in fact, be a reality. All of the abovementioned legendary muscle racers have
survived the test of time. Some of them have already been restored to their 1970s or early ’80s former glory; others are still undergoing refurbishment.
The Historic Sports Sedan scene has been quietly building for at least the last 10 years. Importantly, it now has official CAMS Historic classification – Group U (pre-1986 Sports Sedans). As yet there is no formal club structure to administer the category, and nor are there really any formalised Group U races.
But judging by the level of activity around the country in the burgeoning Historic Sports Sedan scene, it is only a matter of time before we see regular stand-alone events for these unique old machines.
We are already seeing some of these modified monsters from the ’70s and ’80s beginning to reawaken and return to the track. In the last issue of AMC we featured Mark Trenoweth’s beautifully preserved John McCormack-built Jaguar XJS. The Jag is now officially log-booked as a Group U Historic Sports Sedan.
But that’s not the only exciting piece of kit to be found in the Trenoweth garage, because Mark has also acquired the McCormack Valiant Charger. It’s currently being painstakingly refurbished to original 1974 spec. There’s a good chance we’ll see both
these cars at this year’s AMC Masters – the Charger won’t be finished but Trenoweth hopes to be able to bring this most famous of Sports Sedans along as a static display.
McCormack built three Sports Sedans in the 1970s, and the third one – Bruce Gowans’ Toyota Celica-Repco Holden – is about to join the XJS as a restored Historic car. Gowans raced the Holden 5-litre V8-powered Celica from 1977 until ’81, finishing third in the ’78 Australian Sports Sedan Championship. He bought the car back in 2008 and, after a lot of work, and some assistance from McCormack, the Celica is reportedly almost ready to go. It’s expected to make its reappearance at the Baskerville historic meeting later in Tasmania this year.
The ex-Geoghegan Monaro and ex-Jim Richards Big M Falcon are works in progress.
In NSW David Wall recently finished work on the complete restoration of his father’s old Torana LH Sports Sedan, the original 1975 Colin Bond HDT Sports Sedan. For Des Wall, this resto had been a long term labour-of-love project, but Des was taken by cancer in 2012 and never got to see the finished machine. This stunningly presented factory Holden Sports Sedan stands today not only as a monument to Sports Sedan stalwart Des Wall, but also as an example to others looking to restore their own Sports Sedan.
Interestingly, David Wall has another old Sports Sedan that could potentially join the historic ranks. Des’ old (ex-Bryan Thomson) Toyota Supra-Chev was built in 1988, but before that it’d had a previous life as the Bob Jane Monza – the car in which Peter Brock triggered that infamous multi-car start crash at Adelaide in 1983, before Allan Grice drove it to victory in the following year’s Australian GT Championship.
It wouldn’t be difficult to turn it back into a Monza, but David reckons he’ll more than likely keep the car in the (Supra) form in which his father raced it.
But the complicated ancestry of the Monza/
Below: From little things, big things grow. Group U is still in the formative stages but there are exciting times ahead – the legendary Sports Sedans pictured above have either been, or are being, restored.
The John McCormack Repco-Holden V8-powered Valiant Charger is in the middle of a complete restoration and will soon return to the track.