Another ‘Race of Champions’ HDT Commodore from the 1980 AGP meeting at Calder has popped up. After a 20-year hiatus, it’s ready for JB again.
HDT Commodores from the one-make ‘Race of Champions’ at the 1980 Australian Grand Prix meeting at Calder in Melbourne remain very, very interesting cars with some of them still unaccounted for, over 35 years later. AMC has featured this event and these cars before (way back in issue #32) so I was interested to recently receive an order for old photos from this event on my AN1 Images online motorsport archive website (plug, plug, check it out at www.an-1images.com)
The order had a clear theme – images of the John Bowe-driven Commodore that ultimately won the event overall. While Bowe didn’t win either of the races, his combined results meant he was the champ of champs that weekend in the new Brock Commodores.
A quick call and follow up revealed what I instantly suspected: the photo order had come from the car owner.
Andrew Bond told us the familiar red Commodore has been owned by his family for the last two decades. While the photos here show it with the popular Simmons wheels, he assures us that it will have the period-correct wheels fitted when it’s placed on display.
“After the race the cars went to tender and I believe this car ended up as a media car, information that I picked up when I was involved with the HSV Owners Club in the 1990s,” he tells the V8 Sleuth. “They had a competition at Bathurst in 1981 to pick Brock’s best lap time and whoever got the closest got the Bowe car. A young kid from New South Wales won it so it was shipped to Suttons in Sydney and they took the photos, etc but the kid was only 16 so he took the cash instead of the car, which was bought by another gentleman.
“He moved to Melbourne in about 1983 and had it serviced the whole time and the guy he sold it to is the guy we bought it off in 1994.
“It had had a hard life to start with and it was in pretty bad shape when we got it. We got it back on the road in 1995 and the wife used it as a shopping trolley for three or four years then it lived in the back of my workshop for a long time. We didn’t have the time or money to do anything with it and we closed the workshop down and farmed it around a few sheds.”
About two years ago the bullet was bitten for a restoration to occur, so the Bowe-driven HDT Commodore was pulled apart and given a tidy up.
“I’d been procuring parts for it over the last 20 years but it didn’t really need a great deal of work, some panels were replaced from where it was bashed up a bit. The left front guard was pretty bad from where John had tidied up Charlie O’Brien in the second race! But otherwise we left everything as it was. It has new paint and the headlights don’t fit that well, but then again they didn’t after the first race at Calder after a few taps!”
Bond’s Commodore has matching numbers engine and gearbox with just signage left to take it all the way back to 1980 and that’s where our photo archive came in handy.
“I’ve been in contact with the owner of the Dick Johnson car so I’d like to tee up a time to go and have a look at the lettering and signs,” says Bond. “There are so many great details I have picked up on the car from the photos I actually got from AN1 actually, details that I just didn’t have before!”
While we’re chuffed to have assisted with this car, the big question is: what’s next?
“I want to run it in Regularity so it’s at least back on the track,” he says. “I’ve been in touch with JB’s manager too to tee up getting him
along to have a drive of it somewhere, sometime.”
As many AMC readers will recall, the HDT ROC Commodores were given Group C log books for the one-off race, however CAMS today won’t issue an Historic Group C log book to Bond, instead offering a Group 3J Improved Production one.
While this is obviously a source of frustration for the current owner, there’s no doubt this is a very interesting car in Australian muscle car history and one that we’ll see out and about sometime very soon!
Afew issues back we featured the Allan Grice Craven Mild A9-X Torana that owner Tony Sawford currently races in the Heritage Touring Cars category.
Part of the car’s history included its initial sale from Grice’s Sydney-based team to a chiropractor whose identity we couldn’t determine at the time of publication.
We’ve tracked down the former owner of the aforementioned Group C racer and have confirmed his identity to be James Carter. James continues to practise on the NSW Central Coast and, after a few calls to track him down, indeed confirmed he was the very chiropractor we had been chasing!
“I bought it from Allan (Grice) following Bathurst and had it converted to the road, but we left everything in it, put a handbrake in it and modified the mufflers,” he recalls.
“I was practising in Mosman and I knew Frank Gardner (Grice’s team manager of the time). He was a patient of mine and someone else referred him. He said ‘if you get my back sorted I’ll get your driving sorted out!’
“I’m a bit of a petrolhead, so that’s what happened. He gave me some key instruction and took me around the tracks, it was an amazing experience and shortly after that I purchased the car,” Carter continues.
“I did intend to club race it but never got to it. I went to Canada shortly after that and stored it and finally after a few years realised I wasn’t going to be able to use it so I sold it. It had everything original, including the numbers and sponsor stickers. I drove it only on the road pretty much but I did do some lap dashes and hillclimbs in it too.”
The-V8 Sleuth team is working hard with Muscle Car Masters event management to secure a range of interesting cars for this year’s event for both the Peter Brock tribute and the Sports Racing Car Invitational.
One car that has come out of the woodwork that we’re keen to have along is the VP SS V8 Commodore driven by P. Brock and Tony Scott in the 1993 Bathurst 12 Hour.
While Brock’s 12 Hour cars aren’t as celebrated as his October 1000-kilometre cars, they’re still interesting parts of his history at Mount Panorama.
Which reminds me, anyone got any leads on the six-cylinder Commodore he drove with Neil Crompton and Peter McKay in the inaugural 12 Hour in 1991? I’d love to hear from you!
As-always, I love hearing from AMC readers with questions, information or feedback. If you’ve got an interesting car or interesting stories, shoot an email to email@example.com or call my office on 03 9585 1981.