Readers drop us a line with their memories of the significant Torana A9Xs and pay tribute to living legends of our sport: Allan Moffat and Ray Kaleda.
Bo’s A9X racecar
Ican fill in some of the history of the Seton A9X – the one that actually raced in period. As a bit of background, I am the bloke from Wagga mentioned in the issue #97 story. I raced an early model Holden when there was still a class for them, moved on to a Series Production Torana XU-1 in the early 1970s, then drove some of Denis O’Brien’s many Mustangs and his 427 Galaxie. Seton had a drive in this car at an Oran Park practice day and said, “You bastards are bloody mad.” We had got to be good mates with Seto, getting engines dynoed there and staying at his house when we were in Sydney. (Denis eventually bought his dyno). One night, after the end of its Group C racing life, we were sitting out in his back shed drinking numerous beers looking at the A9X. I asked, “What are you going to do with the car?” His reply: “I don’t know.” I had always had a fantasy about driving a racecar on the road and told him I would buy it. He said there was no class for them and when I told him I would put it on the road he thought it was joke. He laughed and said you can have it for ten grand, thinking I was not serious. He kept the bargain and also put in a fresh engine, his tallest diff and softest spring and shocks, plus a set of grooved slicks. I got it registered (don’t ask how) and away I went! It was impossible to drive on the road with the grooved slicks and the noise from stones hitting the un-insulated floor and guards was deafening. We under-sealed everything and put radials on. Had to go down a size in width and diameter on the front to enable it to turn, but left the 15x10s on the back. It still had the race paint scheme, drop tank, roll-cage, race seats, etc in it and I drove it as a toy car for a few years until a policeman suggested I put it away unless it was very late at night.
I decided to race it in Sports Sedans and not wanting to damage the original panels put on fibreglass doors, guards, bonnet, bumpers and hatch. I also fitted perspex windows, gutted the interior and away I went again. Seto saw it like that at Amaroo and nearly cried until I told him I still had the original bits.
In this class it merely ran around in the middle of the field, but this was all I expected. Was only for fun.
Eventually I sold the car to Ken I’anson of Berry, SA and gave him all the original pieces. He put it all back together, painted it white and raced it for a while. Last I heard of it was when Seto wanted to buy it back and he traced it to Melbourne. This was a few years ago, but the guy wanted over three hundred big ones even then so Seto declined.
I don’t know what has happened since then. Ross Woodbridge Email
Make that the Top 26 notable A9X survivors
I’ve just read the latest AMC (#97) and I thought I would let you know that one more Bathurst A9X has survived. It’s the four-door Torana that Ralph Radburn and John Smith drove to third place in the 1979 Hardie Ferodo 1000.
As you can see, its restoration is well on its way to completion and hopefully be ready in time for remaining 40th anniversary celebrations of the Torana A9X.
The Les Small-inspired ‘sunroof’ (ED: see MIA in AMC #37 for an explanation of the roof panel) remains as it is part of the car’s DNA. We were fortunate when we bought the car back in 1986 that the car was still complete in every aspect. Chris Angeli Email ED: Fantastic, Chris. It will be great to see this survivor out and about in public again.
Promise to Moffat
Ijust wanted to add an anecdote about Allan Moffat to the articles in issue #97 which were fabulous. I would like to share this story about his
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generosity and friendliness.
At the All Ford Day a couple of years ago at the signing desk I approached Allan with a collection of postcards that I had bought back in the 1980s which were models of the Falcons that he had driven at Bathurst. I asked if he could please sign them. He agreed if I promised not to sell them on eBay. I assured him that they would be framed and would hang from my wall.
He signed the lot and I thought that I’d share a photo of them on my wall. If you or the team at AMC bump into Allan please reassure him that they are indeed on my wall. Patrick Caruana Email
Mini Moff models
Re the article by Bruce Moxon in Mini Muscle on building a Moffat car, here’s a photo of a model Mustang I built up as a tribute car. It’s photographed alongside the original car. Dave Page Email
Working for Ray Kaleda
Regarding the story on Ray Kaleda (AMC #97), as a teenager I worked for Ray at the ‘College Auto Port’ at Gladesville (Sydney) in the mid 1970s.
It is important to remember back then that ‘Kaledas’ was a local landmark for guys in the area who were interested in cars. Plenty of people always coming and going for general chats, tune-ups and hanging around. Everyone seemed to know Ray and he was on good terms with nearly everyone.
It was amazing how many would show up the week after a race meeting and want to catch up with him for all the news, etc. There was always something going on at the place and always someone to chat to about something.
The servo was a meeting place for a lot of good cars – Monaros, Minis, GT-HOs, MGBs, etc. They all came and went in for a ‘tune-up’ on the dyno and a tank of the special ‘race’ fuel he mixed up for one of the bowsers. They were great days at Gladesville.
His wife Irena would drop in some days with the three boys all in their school kit and they’d be running all round the joint getting into crap until Mum hauled them back home for the day.
I started there late 1974 needing to earn a buck to pay for my bike (cycle) racing. He gave me a start at 75 cents an hour! Not bad money back then to be honest for a 14-year-old kid who just wanted to work around cars. Over time he taught me more and gave me more responsibility and hours and I earned more. I learned a lot about dealing with people and learning to ‘read’ them and get along with them. Very, very good training for later years.
Re Bathurst 1976, I remember that weekend well – as a disaster from the get go. Bob Stevens organised the Braun money and the team was half his guys and half Ray’s. I was a gopher and, after the Saturday crash, remember being at Bathurst Motors until very late on Saturday night while they tried to straighten the rails. They had to give up in the end. The whole weekend was a nightmare of silly things going wrong, fuel linkages, fuel shield/ dividers behind the rear seat, axles breaking and nobody really gelled in the team.
When the car failed to make the start on Sunday, we headed back to Sydney on Sunday morning in his red XB GT – sideways up the hill out of Lithgow! Yeehah! Greg Farmer Email
Jolly well Rogered A9X
Thanks for the great profile story you ran on my father Ray Kaleda in issue #97. As an aside, that same issue’s A9X content mentioned this hatchback raced by Garry Rogers. Here’s a ‘Punters Pic’ I took of the car after its crash at Amaroo Park. Danny Kaleda Email
Thanks for the snippet on the HD from 1975 and the included shot of me at the wheel in issue #96’s profile on Bob Forbes.
Thought the attached picture better shows both the lack of suspension movement and how difficult it was to sit upright on a bench seat. Note the damage to the near side front guard is evident in both pictures, the shape of the Armco fence onto the straight at Amaroo Park from memory.
The HD shot was taken exiting BP Bend onto the straight at Oran Park.
Issue #95 carried a section on the L34 driven by Wayne Negus ending up in the river at Sandown, with a letter to the editor from Warren Mills in issue #96 further outlining the brake issue from the time.
The car was re-built as witnessed by the second shot, this time from Amaroo Park, with it on pole. I was behind the wheel and given the competition in that particular race, so it should have been!
Thanks for the story on Bob, a great amount of detail and some very fond memories. Denys Gillespie Email
Can-Am MkII fan
Can- Am MkII ( AMC #96) was an era of innovation: ground effects, wings, switch to racing radials, use of chassis from F5000, F1, Indy Cars, European F2 with added turbochargers, even asymmetric cars with the driver beside the engine. Needless to say the aero made them even faster than F1 cars for much of the time. As for the drivers, many were great champions in this and other classes. Rhys Filbee Via Facebook
Can-Am MkII survivor
Cooper built three Elfin MR8s, this one (chassis 8772) was the second built. It first ran at Oran Park Racing in the 1977 Australian Grand Prix.
Then Vern Schuppan rebodied it with ‘cycle guards’ and took it to run Can-Am for two seasons. It was re-bodied as the photos below show and run with Bobby Boxx on return to Australia. I ran it from 1991 to 1994. Then Aaron Lewis raced it and changed the body back to Ansett F5000 configuration. Now Bill Hemming has it and races it.
Hope you find it interesting as a single-seater than ran in Can-Am (MkII) as an Elfin MR8 A-C. Ron Gouttman Sydney, NSW
173 GTR turbo
Your article earlier this year ( AMC #93), prompted me to tell you about my 1972 Torana GTR. I bought the GTR new in my early 20s but was disappointed by the limp performance. So when I had saved enough money I took the car to David Inall for a turbocharger installation. This included water injection, ‘O’ ringed head, 45DCOE Weber carby, free flow exhaust, etc. The engine ran at about 1.4 bar of boost which radically changed the performance of such a light car and provided me with a few years of fun and enjoyment.
It would easily do 13 seconds for 0-160km/h with at least 200kW of power.
For the first two years the only trouble I had was a blown head gasket. Unfortunately the lack of a waste gate control probably contributed to turbo failure while giving it a big rev. The Opel gearbox was about stuffed as well, so I returned the car to original specs just before I was transferred overseas for two years and later traded it on an Alpine White E49 Charger with 30,000 kays on the clock. The Charger was not as fast or nimble as the Torana; the XU-1 would have been a better car to turbocharge due to its stronger components and LSD. Dave Regal Gold Coast, QLD
One small correction
on another great issue, #96, and your celebration of the Falcon GT’s 50th anniversary. In relation to the ‘50 Reasons to Love the First GT’ article, I would like to make one small correction to the ‘Colour My World’ item, which says: “Among the others, were Sultan Maroon and no less than three shades of white. The latter included Avis White, a nod to Ford’s fleet customer.”
Although there were three ‘white’ cars built, there were only two shades of white: the Avis White car noted above and the two Polar White racecars – one for the Geoghegans and one for Greg Cusak, as noted in the article on the Geoghegan car.
An interesting fact about the Avis White car, is that during production, this car got pulled from the production line for a time and was directly responsible for a number of GTs having nonmatching engine and chassis numbers, before someone identified the error. Paul Tilley Burpengary, QLD