Herald Sun - Motoring - - Special Report -

THE most un­likely car brand of all was the first to tackle Bathurst. Volvo did it in the 1980s, at a time when it was fresh from the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, look­ing to build a per­for­mance push to coun­ter­bal­ance its safety stand. Of course, it didn’t work . . . But that didn’t stop Volvo Aus­tralia from clos­ing Mt Panorama in 1984 and un­leash­ing a freight train of its hero cars, the 760 Turbo, on the track with for­mer tin-top cham­pion Colin Bond as safety of­fi­cer.

It was my first time at Bathurst and I still re­mem­ber vividly the chal­lenge of lap­ping the track, try­ing to go quickly with­out threat­en­ing the car or my­self. The blunt-edged Volvo was ca­pa­ble of crack­ing 200km/h down Con­rod Straight, be­fore the Chase was added to slow rac­ers, but it lurched and bumped and rolled over the top of the moun­tain at speeds that would have hor­ri­fied any­one who ac­tu­ally bought a Volvo in the ’80s.

I can still re­mem­ber the words from Bondy— who went on to be­come driv­ing stan­dards chief for V8 Su­per­car rac­ing— as he made dire threats if any­one from the press con­tin­gent so much as scratched one of the Volvos.

Since the Volvo ex­per­i­ment a cou­ple of other press preview drives have been held at Bathurst, but none on the full track.

Lexus was the most re­cent vis­i­tor, af­ter host­ing a press preview for its LS flag­ship at Nur­bur­gring in Ger­many, but only for an up­hill sprint to show the per­for­mance po­ten­tial of its GS450h hy­brid.

Swede heart: Colin Bond and the Volvo 760 Turbo.

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