Bruce McPhee

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents - Story: Luke West Images: Chevron Ar­chive

McPhee’s daugh­ter and his race mechanic help shed new light on the 1968 Bathurst win­ner.

The bloke who broke Holden’s Bathurst duck is lit­tle known out­side rac­ing cir­cles and AMC’s read­er­ship. Yet there’s so much more to Bruce McPhee’s story and vic­tory than what’s been pre­vi­ously told. With the help of Bruce’s daugh­ter Anne and race mechanic Mark Leven­spiel – and pre­vi­ously un­seen pho­to­graphs – we shed new light on the McPhee team’s land­mark 1968 Bathurst win and the man him­self.

Be­fore Brock, Firth and the Holden Dealer Team there was Bruce McPhee. It might come as a shock to some Holden en­thu­si­asts, es­pe­cially those blinded by de­vo­tion to rac­ing rock star Brock, but the mar­que’s long his­tory of suc­cess on the Moun­tain be­gan with a char­ac­ter far re­moved from HDT fold – in more ways than one. The fact Bruce McPhee was not based in the mo­tor rac­ing epi­cen­tre of Mel­bourne, nor the big smoke of Syd­ney, but in re­gional NSW meant he was largely off the radar. McPhee was en­trenched on his beloved Cen­tral Coast, out of sight and out of mind of ‘the es­tab­lish­ment’. Even af­ter he won the 1968 Hardie-Ferodo 500 there was no sup­port from GM-H. Nor, as the years passed, was he widely known out­side his own stomp­ing ground. Yet in the Wy­ong dis­trict today, his fam­ily, friends and car en­thu­si­asts re­main ercely proud of their man’s achieve­ments.

Some say he was as wily as Firth, al­beit more mod­est, as blow­ing his own trum­pet was de nitely not his go.

So we’ll blow it for him, as be ts some­one who was the rst to win Bathurst in a Holden. It’s a feat that’s largely been lost in the sands of time and in the shadow of higher pro le en­ti­ties.

McPhee won the Oc­to­ber clas­sic in very spe­cial cir­cum­stances, as have been told in the pages of AMC over the years, most ex­ten­sively in is­sue #17, when he was in­ter­viewed at length on many tech­ni­cal as­pects of the car’s prepa­ra­tion. Al­beit not from the per­spec­tives we present this is­sue.

Thanks to pre­vi­ously un­seen and pub­lished images from the Chevron ar­chive – which only re­cently resur­faced af­ter be­ing sep­a­rated from the main photo les – and tap­ping the rec­ol­lec­tions of the pri­va­teer team’s crew members, we are able to shed new light on the pri­va­teer who laid the plat­form for the more fa­mous Holden gures over the en­su­ing 50 years.

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