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.

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.