Forbes 500/1000: the out­right cam­paigns

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

Things got a lit­tle more se­ri­ous in 1971 as Forbes went to Bathurst for the first time in a po­ten­tial out­right win­ner, an E38 Valiant Charger, with John Mill­yard as co-driver.

“I was liv­ing in Drum­moyne at the time, and Selke Mo­tors was the lo­cal Chrysler dealer, and they spon­sored me, along with fuel and oil ad­di­tive com­pany, Bar­dahl.”

Forbes qual­i­fied 13th, third fastest of the 10 E38 Charg­ers. It was a promis­ing start to the week­end but, un­be­knownst to Forbes and Mill­yard, they went into the race with what amounted to a tick­ing time­bomb un­der the Charger’s bon­net.

“Chrysler was pretty se­ri­ous about win­ning the race,” Forbes ex­plains. “Some time be­fore Bathurst, they sent a guy up from Ade­laide to see us: he wanted to see the en­gine. I had the en­gine out of the car and all the bits were at Lynx En­gi­neer­ing be­ing bal­anced and blueprinted. So I took the Chrysler guy over to Lynx, and he wan­dered around and had a look. He spent an hour or so there, and then off he went. There were a few Charg­ers in Syd­ney: Gra­ham Ryan, Bob Beasley, I think, and the man from Chrysler ob­vi­ously went around and saw ev­ery­one in Syd­ney who was run­ning a Charger at Bathurst, check­ing their en­gines.

“That was fine. But in the race, the en­gine started to knock and lose oil pres­sure. I had a pretty good record with build­ing my own mo­tors, and I couldn’t see what was hap­pen­ing here – I thought ev­ery­thing would have been fine with that en­gine. The poor old Bar­dahl guy, he freaked out: ‘be care­ful what you say!’ he said, wor­ry­ing that peo­ple might think it was the Bar­dahl oil ad­di­tive that caused it.

“We didn’t know what it was, but later that day at Bathurst the chief at Chrysler came up and asked us what had hap­pened. I told him, and he said, ‘Had you seen our engi­neer, did he come up to see you about the en­gines?’ I told him that he had come and seen us. Then he said, ‘Did he tell you about the prob­lem with the cylin­der heads?’

“Ap­par­ently in one batch of heads, the com­bus­tion cham­bers were cast slightly out of po­si­tion, just frac­tion­ally off­set from where they should have been. It meant that when the pis­ton came up, it just touched the face of the head a lit­tle bit. So, we’d done all the prac­tice, qual­i­fy­ing, and the 46 laps of the race with that en­gine, and

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