V8 Sleuth/R-Rated

Australian Muscle Car - - Con­tents - WITH AARON NOO­NAN

Aaron Noo­nan up­dates us on the many things that have come across his desk in mo­tor rac­ing his­tory-land. Mean­time, the XB GT model gets our ‘nuts and bolts’ R-Rated treat­ment.

There has been plenty go­ing on in re­cent times in the Aus­tralian tour­ing car col­lec­tor mar­ket with some sig­nif­i­cant trans­ac­tions go­ing through in re­cent months. Plenty of hype and at­ten­tion was cre­ated by the re­cent de­ci­sion by Walkin­shaw Rac­ing to sell a pride and joy of the team’s time rac­ing as the Holden Rac­ing Team – the 1990 Bathurst-win­ning Win Percy/Al­lan Grice Com­modore VL Group A ‘Walky’.

Orig­i­nally built in Eng­land by Tom Walkin­shaw Rac­ing and flown out to Aus­tralia to com­pete in the 1988 Tooheys 1000 in Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles colours, it in­fa­mously lasted just a few laps with Walkin­shaw him­self at the helm. Re­built, it had its re­venge on Mount Panorama two years later to record a pop­u­lar win, the first in ‘The Great Race’ by the HRT.

I’ve heard all sorts of num­bers bandied about as to what it has been sold for, but need­less to say the fi­nal price would have been de­cent – it’s a very spe­cial car in Bathurst his­tory and also in terms of Aussie mus­cle car her­itage. This was the year HRT over­came the hordes of Ford Sierra tur­bos through a com­bi­na­tion of su­perb en­gi­neer­ing, great driv­ers and a never-say-die team spirit. In­deed, AMC #13’s cover story was en­ti­tled ‘Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble’, as the lo­cal mo­tor­sport me­dia didn’t rate the V8 Com­modore as a po­ten­tial Bathurst win­ner in ’90. None­the­less, HRT caught ev­ery­body by sur­prise and de­liv­ered ar­guably the Red Lion’s most coura­geous win at Mount Panorama.

I’m just glad it’s stay­ing here in Aus­tralia; there was a range of over­seas-based buy­ers, all very keen to get their hands on a unique part of TWR his­tory!

Its new owner? Eg­gle­ston Mo­tor­sport. Rachael and Ben Eg­gle­ston also own last is­sue’s cover car, the VR Com­modore Craig Lown­des and Greg Mur­phy drove to vic­tory in the 1996 Great Race. Also

find­ing a new home in re­cent times is Peter Brock’s 1991 Mo­bil 1 Rac­ing Com­modore VN. Built by Perkins En­gi­neer­ing when the 1982, ’83 and ’84 Bathurst win­ners re­united for a sea­son, it’s been pur­chased out of Tas­ma­nia by Mel­bourne’s Keith Lin­nell. It’s the one and the same car that Brock drove at Bathurst in ’91 in that wild Top 10 Shootout lap where the roar­ing Holden V8 was all-singing and Brock slid side­ways across McPhillamy Park – worth look­ing back at the video­tape to re­fresh your mem­ory if it’s slipped through your grey mat­ter.

The car was later con­verted to V8 Su­per­car spec, so it still has a Chevro­let en­gine from that era. But it’s in VN body­work and looks great,

so hope­fully a restora­tion back to full Group A VN spec be­neath the pan­els can be done some­where in the fu­ture. Ford

fans should have en­joyed the re­cent retro round at the Sandown 500 in Mel­bourne with a range of great cars on dis­play.

We even ar­ranged for Bruce Hein­rich to bring over his Su­percheap Auto Fal­con AU from South Aus­tralia for cur­rent day Su­per­cars star Chaz Mostert to slip be­hind the wheel of for some TV film­ing, in ad­di­tion to a press photo shoot with its orig­i­nal pilot Steve Ellery.

Poor Chaz is fully in the era of se­quen­tial gear­boxes in Su­per­cars, so found com­ing to terms with the H-pat­tern a lit­tle bit of a chal­lenge in just a mat­ter of a few laps.

The V8 Sleuth team put to­gether a sig­nif­i­cant car dis­play at Sandown for Su­per­cars to help ev­ery­one get in the ‘retro’ mood.

See­ing Neville But­ler’s great big ex-Garry Willm­ing­ton XD Fal­con Group C car parked next to Stephen Toth’s lit­tle Toy­ota Team Aus­tralia Corolla was cer­tainly a scene of con­trasts!

A cou­ple of rip­per Al­lan Mof­fat hard­top repli­cas gave us some 1970s taste and 1990s Group A era Ford ac­tion came via Chris Still­well’s Shell/DJR Sierra (the last of the six the team built) and the 1992 Bathurst Cal­tex car of Colin Bond; its liv­ery repli­cated on the track by Craig Lown­des’ #888 Com­modore for the retro round.

Throw in the mighty ex-John Mann Ap­pen­dix J Mus­tang among a range of other cars and tastes of fans were catered for no mat­ter whether they are a blue or red car fan – or of any­thing else for that mat­ter!

Over­all, it was the first time that the Su­per­cars fra­ter­nity re­ally got into the spirit of the retro round con­cept and the ded­i­ca­tion to the task paid off hand­somely. Not only did the ‘old school’ theme give the Sandown 500 wide­spread pre-event me­dia cov­er­age (a dif­fi­cult task dur­ing the footy fi­nals), but it cre­ated a fun track­side vibe that also came across on tele­vi­sion. With

con­fir­ma­tion Holden will move the Holden Rac­ing Team brand from Walkin­shaws to Red Bull/Triple Eight next year, that brings an end to the cur­rent chap­ter of the HRT.

I’ve been work­ing on a spe­cial lim­ited edi­tion book cov­er­ing the rac­ing his­to­ries of all of the team’s cars and now we’re at the point where you can reg­is­ter to be alerted to when you can pre- or­der your copy to make sure you don’t miss out as we put the full stop on the Walkin­shaw era of HRT cars and their his­tory.

The de­tails are here on this very page, but make sure you get in and reg­is­ter your email ad­dress with us as we are only print­ing a lim­ited num­ber of copies.

We’ve been in­ter­view­ing a range of for­mer team driv­ers and per­son­nel as well as sift­ing through all sorts of ma­te­rial that have con­firmed some of our the­o­ries and time­lines on the ‘war sto­ries’ of some of the cars, par­tic­u­larly the Group A VL and VN Com­modores and the early winged VPs – all wait­ing to be re­vealed!

Our own archives fea­ture a lot of great pho­tos that have never been pub­lished – un­til now! We’ve also talked to the var­i­ous de­sign­ers of all of the great HRT liv­er­ies and have some great be­hindthe-scenes sto­ries or how, why and what.

This book is a lim­ited edi­tion and there’s still so much con­tent that we just can’t quite squeeze in! So I thought I’d share a lit­tle shot of a photo that hasn’t made the cut for the book.

This shot is Win Percy in 1991 on the Lang Lang prov­ing ground try­ing to break the mag­i­cal 300kmh bar­rier in the team’s very first VN Com­modore. He didn’t quite make it to the 300 mark, but it’s al­ways in­ter­est­ing to see race cars in places other than on race tracks! 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 aaron@v8sleuth.com.au or call my of­fice on (03) 9585 1981.

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