Historic last Holden-powered Bathurst winner lives on
The last Holden-powered Commodore to win the Bathurst 1000 is slowly but surely being brought back to life by Jack Perkins and his famous father, Larry.
The 1993 Tooheys 1000-winning #11 Castrol Commodore VP of Perkins and the late Gregg Hansford has been the focus of a major restoration project for the father-and-son duo over recent months at their workshop in Sunshine in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
“The car has been at the paint shop for the best part of two years from when it came back into our possession,” Jack Perkins told AMC.
“It’s been an enormous amount of work to get the body shell back into condition. We’ve cut out 32kg of bar work that had been added to the cage over the years that wasn’t there in 1993 – sill bars, a Larry bar (diagonal windscreen brace) – and we had to remove them without damaging the original bar work.
“The car had copped a caning for 15 or 20 years so we wanted to maintain as much original DNA as possible.”
The ’93 winner was as a VP Commodore and raced by Perkins that season before continuing its racing life in the hands of privateers including John Trimble and Mark Poole and, in more recent years, as a Sports Sedan in Victoria driven by Ian Cowley.
A major ‘box tick’ for the restoration is the fact the actual Holden V8 engine used in the car on race day at Bathurst ’93 (featuring its unique cylinder head and block homologated by Perkins to tackle the new Chev powerplants of the time) has been reunited with the winning chassis.
“The car came with a Chevrolet in it and the previous owner had sourced a Perkins Holden engine but it wasn’t one this chassis had run.
“Our good friend and customer Dave Gardner had a few engines from another car purchase and one of those was the ’93 race engine. So thanks to him we were able to get that and now we have the matching car and engine combination, which is very unique.”
Six-time Bathurst winner Perkins has been stripping the engine down himself to see what’s inside with a full rebuild to ’93 specs to follow based on original build sheets retained from the period.
“We’ll make sure it’s nice and reliable so when we do take it for a drive we don’t get too stressed about it going bang,” says Jack. “It’s got the original crank and Dad is pretty keen to rebuild it personally.” The conversion of the car from VS back to VP speci cation has taken a huge amount of time. A donor VP Commodore was sourced for parts that couldn’t be located via new-old GM stock.
Advances in paint technology in the 25 years since the car won Bathurst have also proven a hurdle, though close connection and help from PPG has paved the way for getting the correct colour matches for the white, black, green and red livery.
In a nice touch, Perkins Jnr has kept Ryan and Rhys Hansford – sons of the late Gregg – updated on the project.
“The day we got the car back I told them what was going on and they were excited,” Jack said. “When the car’s nished they’ll enjoy it as much as we do.
“Getting the car to the track is a long way away; we’ve been going for two years with not a lot to show of it just yet.
“I’d like to have a drive myself; it’s going to be a cool piece of history to have back together.”