The great V8 de­bate

When it comes to mus­cle car value and rank­ing, a Bathurst vic­tory is a crit­i­cal fac­tor

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - MARK HINCHLIFFE mark.hinchliffe@cars­

CHOOS­ING the great­est Aussie V8 is likely to spark a de­bate that will rage long af­ter the flag has fallen on the Great Race.

Based on bang-for-buck im­pact, as well as clas­sic mus­cle ap­peal, Shan­nons In­sur­ance says it has to be the Fal­con XY GT-HO Phase III that ruled at Bathurst in the 1970s and was then the world’s fastest four­door sedan.

A sil­ver Phase III was passed in at the Bris­bane Mo­tor Show auc­tion in 2008 at about $750,000.

‘‘ You wouldn’t get those prices now as the bub­ble burst on the Aussie V8 mus­cle car mar­ket over 12 months ago and we haven’t seen those numbers back ... yet,’’ Shan­nons spokesman Phil Ross says.

But Dan Bow­den, whose Sun­shine Coast fam­ily mu­seum has one of the great­est col­lec­tions of Aussie mus­cle cars, reck­ons the top prize goes to the Fal­con XR GT, which won Bathurst in 1967 and which he calls the first of the ‘‘ real Aussie V8s’’. Bathurst vic­tory seems to be the com­mon thread here. But what about Hold­ens?

Ross says the next most valu­able cars are Bathurst­win­ning Hold­ens— the 1978-79 A9X To­rana hatch­back and the 1968 HKMonaro 327 V8 ‘‘ or pos­si­bly the 1970 HT 350 V8 Monaro’’.

‘‘ Shan­nons Auc­tions sold a HK 327 Monaro for $220,000 at one of our auc­tions at the height of the mus­cle car price wars,’’ he says.

Ear­lier this year an A9X was passed in at a Shan­nons auc­tion in Mel­bourne at more than $270,000. ‘‘ They only made 100 of these,’’ Ross says,

‘‘ so the Holden fans will ar­gue it’s the No. 1 Aussie V8 of all time and the most col­lectable.’’

Road cars are one thing, but race cars at­tract even higher price tags.

Bow­den’s mu­seum has Peter Brock’s 1979 A9X, in which he won Bathurst by six laps, set­ting a record on the last lap while wav­ing at the fans. It’s in­sured for $1 mil­lion-plus.

Bow­den says the car re­cently won an Auto Ac­tion poll as the most sig­nif­i­cant race car in Aus­tralia’s his­tory and won a Face­book poll among Bow­den fol­low­ers.

De­spite all that, he reck­ons the HK327 GTS Monaro is

‘‘ one of the most beau­ti­ful and a real con­tender’’, win­ning Bathurst in 1968.

Oth­ers to con­sider are:

■ Holden L34 To­rana, with Hi-Po op­tion Our only al­lAussie-made en­gine.

■ HDT Group A Brock VL Com­modore An­other ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial. ‘‘ The po­lariser plus pack ver­sion adds to the story,’’ says Bow­den.

■ Fal­con XC Co­bra, One of the first 30, the Bathurst spe­cial ver­sions.

■ Fal­con XA GT RPO-83 A lot of the Phase IV gear went on these spe­cial cars.

Ross says the buy­ing pub­lic awarded hero sta­tus to the cars that con­quered Bathurst.

‘‘ I don’t think this kind of hero sta­tus for Aussie V8s will be as big with the later model cars but time may prove me wrong,’’ he says.

‘‘ There is a bit of a cult fol­low­ing start­ing with younger guys and the hum­ble XD Fal­con at shows.

‘‘ I al­ways thought it looked more like a taxi but af­ter look­ing at the Dick John­son Tru Blu Fal­con Group C race car at Bow­den’s mu­seum I have changed my mind.’’

Nei­ther Ross nor Bow­den men­tioned any Chryslers.

‘‘ Sadly, Chrysler didn’t have

any good V8s,’’ Bow­den says.

The ones with any real sport­ing pedi­gree were the six­cylin­der ver­sions.

In the end they built the V8s in the Charger, the VJ E55 ver­sions, but they were very toned down, mar­keted against the big lux­ury Ford Fair­mont and LS Monaros, not as a sport­ing car.’’

Ross says a fully re­stored six­cylin­der E49 RT Charger in the pop­u­lar Vi­ta­min C (orange) six-pack Big Tank’’ (ex­tra fuel for Bathurst) can be worth $170,000-$200,000.

I once asked Leo Geogeghan if he thought a Charger could win Bathurst and he said not with­out a V8,’’ Ross says.

He couldn’t beat the V8 GT Fal­cons up the moun­tain. There was a 770 Charger re­leased with a V8 but it never ran at Bathurst. If they had

Moun­tain of his­tory: One of the great­est Aussie mus­cle car col­lec­tions

Charmer: The Fal­con XC Co­bra as driven by John Goss

Fal­con pha­lanx: Four phases of the GT-HO, from right, Phase I, II, III and IV

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