Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Bathurst 1000 and its predecessors were not all about Holden versus Ford. Certainly that’s the hype that’s been pushed at us or the last 20-25 years. The tribal warfare aspect has been as big a part of the event as anything else.
But it has not always been exclusively Holden versus Ford. Indeed, other brands have featured, even starred, over the decades. If you cast your mind back to the rst Armstrong 500s at Phillip Island, the winning car rst time out was a Vauxhall. Then, a year later, a Mercedes-Benz. Okay, then Ford went on a tear and won year after year, with only a Mini getting in the way in 1966.
Then Ford and Holden shared the wins, year after year, until 1985, when we all were able to breathe a sigh of relief. The Jaguar steamroller nearly didn’t win – all three cars had trouble, but Armin Hahne and John Goss hung on, literally, with a broken seat, to win from BMW.
And it’s with the 1985 cars we start our journey. Biante brought us a beautiful 1:18 scale model of the winning car. They sold out ages ago, but some are on eBay and the like. I found one seller asking $400 for a mint one with a Goss-signed certi cate of authenticity. With opening doors, boot and bonnet, all the detail is there to be seen.
Interestingly, they didn’t make (as far as I can nd) models of either of the other cars.
They also made a 1:43 version – much more affordable, of course, and a much more realistic base for modi cation, unless you’re well-heeled. With the right stickers, of course, you can make it into the Soper/Dickson or Walkinshaw/Percy cars, or a European Touring Car Championship car. Then there’s the chance of remodeling it into Garry Willmington/Peter Janson or Goss/Bob Muir cars.
The second-placed car was the Bob Jane T-Mart BMW 635 of Bob Ravioli and Johnny Chooklotto. Or Roberto Ravaglia and Johnny Cecotto. This model is also available on the used market. I found a 1:43 Spark version for $100. Much more affordable, right?
But the ‘other brands’ models aren’t all European exotics. Group C was the time when a suburban dealer or a workshop owner or panel shop could build and run a car themselves. And before Group C it was even simpler. That a workshop owner or such could, in theory, buy a car and run that as is. Yeah right. There was still a lot of preparation to do, but it was preparation, not building from a at-pack.
Classic Carlectables have made a series of fantastic models of Valiant Chargers in 1:18 scale. They’re still doing it. Their latest offering is the Leo Leonard example from New Zealand. I have a couple of their brilliant models from this mould in my collection, including the Leo Geoghegan/ Peter Brown car from 1971 and the Doug Chivas/ Damon Beck car from the following year, that nished an excellent third.
Trax also made some Charger race models. As you might remember from last issue, the Trax cars tended to be road cars with decoration – no roll cages or racing tyres. But, when they were making them, there was no alternative, so if you wanted one, what were you to do?
Mazda’s RX7 was a popular choice for privateers. They were cheapish to buy and build, fairly simple and offered good performance for the money. Biante, again, are our savior when it comes to large-scale models. They made a few 1:18 versions of the Allan Moffat cars that did so very well in the early eighties. There are also cars as raced by Murray Carter (Valentine Cards),
Peter McLeod (Slick 50), Tony Kavich (Yellow Pages) and two plain-body versions in either black or white.
Like the Classic Carlectables Chargers, the Mazdas have great detail. Everything opens, the interior and under-bonnet detail is all there and looks spot-on. Perhaps oddly, they didn’t make the two other really successful RX7s, the Terry Shiel or Barry Jones cars. These two, along with McLeod, were consistently the fastest of the privateer Mazda drivers.
Hotwheels, too, help us out, with their release a few years ago of an RX7 in Group 2 speci cation. Enthusiasts all over the place have been turning these into Group C cars and I’m no exception. I’ve done a Terry Shiel Eurocars one and am part-way through a Phil Alexander car. The Alexander car is an interesting one; it started life as a Mazda Australia press car. Then Phil (who operated Alexander Rotary) bought it as a road car.
Phil couldn’t help himself and in 1981 was racing in production cars, before turning it into a Group C racer for his Bathurst debut that year. He had a DNF, but for the next two years he and Ron Gillard nished in the top 10. In 1984, Gillard shared the car with Mark Gibbs and it had another top ten.
Mike Griffin bought it and turned it into a sports sedan, then Neil Crompton raced it for a time. It’s now in bits in a shed awaiting restoration.
Kevin Bartlett’s Camaro is a favourite car of many of us. And that’s been modeled by Classic Carlectables, in a couple of versions – Bathurst and ATCC. Please don’t ask Kevin to sign it upside down. It’s not funny anymore!
This model is gorgeous and they go for about $270 on the used market. Probably less than they should, really. Once again, it’s got fantastic detail and accuracy. There was also a 1:43 version made by Models56, a small-volume maker based in Sydney. They too, are long-gone and only around on the used market.
Moving back to the later years, in Group A, there are some choice models available. Biante, again, brought us Nissan Skylines in 1:43 and 1:18 scales. As is normal these days, the nasty cigarette logos are missing, but you can get aftermarket ones to ll in the holes on your car.
Hot Wheels have done a few Skyline models, and my go-to man Garry Miller has done a pair of 1989 R31 Skylines in the factory Nissan colours. They look great, right? Garry’s work is fantastic, especially when you consider how small a Hot Wheels is, so any aw is magni ed.
Likewise, their BMW 635s and M3s (the JPS ones, anyway) have big holes in their liveries. Once again, you can get after-market decals. And if you’re really keen, Tamiya made a kit of the 635 in Group A form. It came in a couple of versions – the ‘Genuine Parts’ car that had pictures of the car’s interior and under-bonnet on the body and the Jagermeister car. Either would make the base of a Bathurst 635. With decals available aftermarket, you’d have a great model.
Lastly, think back to the Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing story a few issues back. Does anyone remember the six-cylinder Leyland Marina some optimist ran at Bathurst? Now, if I could just nd a model of a two-door Marina…