Mini Mus­cle

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

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…

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