MONAROS ON THE TRACK

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

The Monaro GTS 327 be­gan to be hurled around Aus­tralian race­tracks with sen­sa­tional suc­cess not long af­ter the first Monaros hit the streets. A first-up win by Tony Roberts and Bob Wat­son in a GTS 327 Monaro at the 1968 Sandown three-hour en­durance race set the scene for Bruce Mcphee and Barry Mul­hol­land to pi­lot their War­wick Yel­low Monaro to vic­tory in the ’68 Hardie-fer­odo 500 at Bathurst. Named for its 327-cu­bic-inch (5358cc) Chevro­let V8, this in­trepid per­former boasted a Chevro­let Sag­i­naw four-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, wider wheels and tyres, a larger 164-litre fuel tank, and im­proved en­gine cool­ing. The first Great Race proved a clean sweep for the Monaros, with the com­bi­na­tions of Jim Palmer / Phil West and Tony Roberts / Bob Wat­son claim­ing sec­ond and third, re­spec­tively, for a clas­sic all-holden, all-monaro podium fin­ish. The fol­low­ing year, Monaro again proved its met­tle, with Colin Bond and Tony Roberts claim­ing vic­tory and the young Peter Brock, also driv­ing a Monaro, fin­ish­ing third. In 1969, the first year un­der Harry Firth, Holden Dealer Team Monaro 350s came first (Bond/roberts) and third (West/brock) out­right in the Hardie-fer­odo 500 at Bathurst. HT GTS mo­tor sport vic­to­ries in 1970 in­cluded the Surfers Par­adise 12-hour race (Bond/roberts) and the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship (Norm Beechey). Al­though vir­tu­ally re­tired from com­pe­ti­tion du­ties — re­placed by the XU-1 To­rana — the Monaro still man­aged an amaz­ing year on the track in 1970. Beechey’s Monaro won the 1970 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, the first vic­tory for a Holden driver in the cham­pi­onship.

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