AMC BEST LETTER
I blame JG
I’ve enjoyed the stories involving John Goss in recent months. He’s an interesting character – amboyant, maybe even a bit eccentric and de nitely determined. I guess my story is probably not the only one in which John was an inspiration and, quite seriously, shaped a large chunk of my life.
My rst memory was the South Paci c Touring Car Championship round at Oran Park in 1973. My father had Fords so I was never going to be a fan of anything else. Moffat and Goss were the more amboyant of the Ford bunch and the obvious kids’ choice. I bought a photo from Lance Ruting’s stand and managed to have JG sign it. I still have it.
My rst real etched-inthe-brain memory though was the next year as a 16-year-old kid standing on the hill above the last corner at Amaroo. Goss would have the XA sideways on entry and pointing straight up the hill as it got to the apex. No one of the era had anything like the same level of car control. Possibly not the quickest way, but enthralling to watch.
I recall another Amaroo meeting, standing above the pits with camera poised when JG arrives in a gorgeous red XB coupe road car with the trademark McLeod Ford stripes. He parks and spots me as he gets out, leans on the car, posing while I shoot the photo. And, yep, fast sunnies and neckerchief. Poser maybe, vain probably, but to this impressionable kid it was all just way cool. And who could forget the Aunger ads with the XA and leggy girls.
At 19 I desperately wanted to go motor racing. It had to be in a Falcon and I somehow scammed up the money to buy Graeme Bailey’s Chickadee XA sports sedan. It was pretty much the high standard of the era: Barry Sharp-built lightweight with a mega Peter Molloy engine. However, I quickly learnt that what JG did in those things was an awful lot more difficult than it seemed. I’m not sure that anyone else of that era was as good at carrying a car on tortured tyres through the full range of understeer in, oversteer out dynamics. His ability to throttle steer was amazing.
The miracle was that JG could then steer a F5000 with such precision. He and John McCormack were certainly the standout, lateral-thinking engineers. I recall too that they both favoured open-face helmets and goggles at one point... way cool.
In the early days of the Muscle Car Masters I told John my Amaroo memory of the XA and how he was to blame for my lifelong passion ... at which point my wife jumped in and said he was also then the reason why I had no money! Everyone laughed and I think John was a bit chuffed. He is a genuinely nice guy.
I’m reminded too of the time when I went to Katoomba to look at the yellow XA. After its time with Gary Willmington it was sold to Russell Kramer (then Falcon sports sedan driver) who had re-bodied it into an XC with a view to running Bathurst. He didn’t get an entry so decided to sell. Not buying it was one of my less wise decisions, though no one could have predicted the current eye watering prices.
JG was a gun. The success came from hard graft and privateer, underdog engineering. His impact on me as a kid was profound. I would’ve become hooked and spent a life playing with racecars anyway but, as I’m now 60 and look at my collection, it’s way more than coincidence that I have Fords and an XJS. Just need the F5000 too!
Keep up the good work. Just when you think that muscle car stories have all been done you nd another angle to keep us all interested.
Mick Meaney Email
Cat Boy and the ginger farmer
Iam writing to say a big thank you for publishing my photo of ‘Cat Boy’ in issue #104, although ‘Old Alley Cat Man’ would be a bit more appropriate. It was also a highlight for me was to have my car in the ‘My Muscle Car’ section.
The ‘Cat Boy’ idea came to me while laying awake at around 2am one morning when all sorts of stuff goes through my brain, as it does for everybody. Well, I hope it’s not just me!
Now though, I feel assured that I will have sponsorships lining up at my door, and I am sure your merchandising department is busy with the ordering of the ‘Cat Boy’ tin plate’ signs, T-shirts, coffee mugs and other items. I look forward to checking my mailbox every day for the royalty cheques to start arriving.
As I mentioned in the MMC section about the reaction of previous owner, ginger farmer Victorio Alberti, to seeing his old car again, I have attached a photo taken about 10 years ago, when I visited Vic for the rst time.
Also, I would like to say I have had the pleasure of reading your mag from issue #1 and look forward to many more years of interesting reading. I have to go now as I think I see the Spandex rep coming up the driveway waving a contract.
Lloyd ‘Cat Boy’ Thies Upper Caboolture, Queensland
ED: Need a manager, Cat Boy? Seriously, I encourage other readers to send us contributions to My Muscle Car, just as you have. Dress-ups not mandatory!
I’ve just nished reading issue #105. A great issue, of course. I particularly enjoyed the story about TWR 022 and its long journey since its construction.
I hate to say this, but I think you made an error in the pictures with the story. As the article says, the car was owned in 1990 by John Lusty who ran it at Bathurst that year with Bernie Stack. The picture you have on page 56 is not of that car but the other Lusty team car driven by brother Graham and Captain Peter Janson. There were two Lusty cars that year. The car in the photo is the car the Lusty team built up in 1989.
Peter Jolly Email
ED: Peter, you are entirely correct in suggesting we ran an image of the wrong Lusty car. Apologies!
Thank you Mr Lawler
I’d like to thank AMC for reviewing John Smailes’ new book, Race Across the World, which led me to contact the publishers Allen and Unwin. Thanks to them, especially their publicity coordinator Julie Greska, I was able to not only obtain a pre-release copy, but also have John sign it with a dedication to a wonderful quiet achiever: 92-year-old racing driver and car-builder, Brian Lawler (pro led in
AMC #69). Brian, ‘Mr Lawler’ to his 1950s TAFE students like Bruce Stewart and Mal Brewster, was a competitor in the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon, doing the lion’s share of the driving in the #6 Lawler/Hodgins/Wait Ford Fairmont XP. It was a real pleasure for our group of friends to present him with a copy of this book 50 years
after the event; and to thank him for being a mentor and role model to so many in motorsport.
For the record, a tie-rod end broke on the XP Fairmont on the Perth to Marvel Loch, WA section and it took six hours to x; by which time they had missed the next two control points and had to retire. They did drive to Warwick Farm in time for the official nishers to arrive, though.
Dave Nichols Co-founder Festival of Sporting Cars
Grey matters 1
Great magazine, as always, but I do have a comment on the ‘Fifties Shades of Grey’ article on the early Holden six engines in issue #105. The grey Holden cranks were dropforged carbon steel K1037F, not cast iron as written. Holden used forged cranks in early red engines while developing their modular cast iron units. As a point of interest, most of the early grey components were forged: engine, gearbox, diff axles.
I had a Humpy with a hot grey engine. One solution to crank breakage was to t a Chrysler or Mercedes harmonic balancer to the front of the crank to equalise longitudinal load on the crank and t steel main bearing caps.
Jim Murdoch Email
Grey matters 2
Great article about the Holden grey engine in the latest issue, though there is a small mistake in the article. The engine that powered the 48-215 right through till the FC was only 132ci. The 138ci in was released in the FB and continued through to the EJ when it was replaced by the ‘red six’.
Craig McManus Via Facebook
In the ‘Unsung Heroes’ issue ( AMC #104) I was greatly interested in the comprehensive history of the last Monaro to start in the Great Race. Indeed it helped me to compartmentalise a portion of my own 1973 history.
You see, at the time of this ‘one and only’ HQ GTS 4-door competing in the Hardie Ferodo 1000 I was employed in the Dealer Organisation Department of GM-H Sales, Port Melbourne. My immediate boss, Peter McNamara (see pic), had a few Hardie-Ferodo 1000 trade passes and on the Thursday or Friday prior, suggested we should motor up to Bathust for the race. Leaving early on the Saturday morning in his company car, an HQ Kingswood, the plan was for us to be back at Fishermans Bend, bright and chirpy Monday morning!
We arrived at Mount Panorama late on Saturday September 29, just in time to see the end of qualifying from the summit vantage point where the circuit, at Sulman Park, leads to McPhillamy Park. This section of track is a long left-hand, downhill sweeper. Being my rst ever visit to the circuit, I was ‘gob-smacked’ by the huge speed of the big heavy Ford Falcon Hardtops as they transferred weight and moved under power through that big undulating left-hand sweeper. I was bitten and smitten.
At dusk the racetrack reverted to a two-way traffic scenic road, and reopened to the public. Unsurprisingly, Peter and I, along with other pilgrims to The Mount took the mandatory ‘people’s drive’ around the circuit. I found it terribly hard to imagine how the likes of Bond, Brock, Roberts, Carter, Goss and Moffat and others could compete ‘door handle to door handle’ across the top of the mountain. My admiration for these Gods of the 1970s touring car genre had just jumped a thousand percent.
Since then I’ve not been to another Great Race but have been fortunate to have run an Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 at Bathurst in sports car historic racing classes on four occasions, including this year in the Group S support category for the 12 Hour. Without doubt Mount Panorama is Australia’s Valhalla of motorsport and this near geriatric competitor experiences a close to heaven-like experience whenever in its ambit.
But back to 1973, and coincidentally my company lease car at GM-H was an HQ Monaro GTS 4-door 308 four-speed in Sable Metallic (silver) with ‘Lone O’Ranger’ boot and bonnet paint-out panels.
Why I went for the heavy V8 four-door sedan and didn’t select the nimble, high performance LJ Torana GTR XU-1 has been a recurrent personal mystery and a long-standing lament. Heaven knows, there were any number of equally overthe-top colour schemes in the Torana range with which I could have demonstrated my immature disregard for reasonable social norms. Moreover, presumably the Torana’s lease cost would have not been much different from the ‘simply outrageous’ (snigger, snigger) monthly sum of $41.37 for the Monaro which was then deducted from my salary. As a curiosity, the GM-H actual pay deduction authority is attached. Even in 1973, this was a piffling cost for a callow, single, car mad 23-year-old from Brisbane!
In those days my personal car was a TR6. Meanwhile, the
big GTS 4-door certainly made for fun and easy touring, albeit the ever present reality of hideous understeer was always a potentiality on The Great Ocean Road. Holden’s Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) was to follow some years later and de nitely arrived none too soon!
One pic attached is from a camping long weekend at Wilson’s Promontory and the other is of the Monaro GTS outside the Fishermans Bend Company Car Garage awaiting pre-delivery.
So, on that Sunday, September 30, 1973 when I discovered the Muirs Holden, black HQ Monaro GTS 4-door in the race, and doing well, I was intrigued. My photo shows it running strongly at Hell Corner. However, the rationale of running this car against the dominant and factory supported XU-1s and Ford Falcon hardtops had always eluded me.
Accordingly, after reading Steve Normoyle’s massively researched and extremely wellwritten article a little conundrum has now been explained. Yes, privateer Ron Dickson took it to the factory teams and it was an heroic effort. Sadly, as you document, but for a valve train failure, the big HQ would have nished sixth “having to drop out 30 laps from the nish.” Thank you for the excellent piece, and in retrospect I now don’t feel too bad about my choice of Australian muscle car in 1973.
I now have a favour to ask. After the late ‘70s I lost contact with Peter McNamara, but I understand he left GMH and went onto installing management accounting systems for car dealerships. So, if any AMC readers can assist in putting us in touch that would be most appreciated.
John Carson Chapel Hill, Queensland jaccar[email protected]
That’s my old car!
When I picked up issue #104, to my surprise on the cover at the top second from the left was a red GT with a vinyl roof. I had never come across another XW in that combination, so turned to page 76 and to my amazement there was the very car I purchased new in 1969!
I had the car till 1971 when I sold it to a friend who had it for some time before on-selling it. I have often thought of the car and wondered if it still existed. I am delighted to see the car again and would enjoy talking to Darren about my time with the car some 47 years ago.
I have supplied photos from the period when I owned the car, 1969-’71.
As an aside, earlier this year I was reacquainted with another car I owned and had lost track off. It was a VL Commodore Group A Plus Pack which I purchased new in 1986 and sold in 1988, around 30 years ago. Scott the current owner took me for a run and I was thrilled to be reunited with the car after all that time
John Taylor Email
Issue #104 is one of the best. I just love the way you unearth more and more background stories on signi cant events – in this case the ‘68 Hardie-Ferodo 500. Being a Holden fan and just 16 years old at the time, that win was something else. To be still learning new things about it some 50 years later is a real treat and just one of the reasons AMC is the bible for Aussie muscle car enthusiasts.
Loved the new photos. After the countless photos and images of #13D over the years, I don’t actually recall ever seeing a photo of the rear of the car and its rego number. Great to clear up the brake pad change mystery too and also good to get the full story on Des West’s car and the ‘oversized’ valve issue.
For those who weren’t around at the time, it’s virtually impossible to convey the reaction the Monaro caused in 1968. A Warwick Yellow example would stop traffic and cause a crowd to gather like no other car I’ve ever seen.
As much as I love the 327s and HT350s, it still grates that the HG350 doesn’t get the recognition it deserves (apart from AMC’s brilliant story in issue #51 and some amazing articles in Wheels and Sports
Car World). Sadly, a lot of newer/younger readers won’t have seen those. While the other two have the Bathurst connection, the HG350 (with the second generation engine) is actually the fastest of all those early Monaros and isn’t power what it’s all about in a muscle car? I’m biased, of course, because, as you may remember, I own one of these amazing machines.
Got that off my chest, so now I can get back to re-reading issue #104.
Glenn Flinkenberg New Zealand
Richards was champ
Love the magazine and loved the AMSCAR articles published over issues #103 and #104, especially the Group A years in the second instalment. I was just curious about the part in the article that mentions that Tony Longhurst won the 1987 AMSCAR Series and how it was possible for him to do so?
Longhurst did outscore Richards in the rst round, but then Longhust did not compete in the second round due to a crash in practice, while Richards racked up three second places behind George Fury in the day’s races. The third round, held in conjunction with the ATCC event, was won by Richards from Longhurst, and then the fourth round saw Richards and Longhurst
team up together to win the Hardie-Irrigation 100. I don’t know the official points system for the 1987 title but at a glance I would have assumed Richards won it?
Keep up the great work, I eagerly await each and every issue. Luke Blattman Email ED: Luke, thanks for dropping us a line and questioning just who was the 1987 AMSCAR champion. In the absence of more de nitive records (any records really), we relied on a source that wrongly stated Tony Longhurst was the ’87 champ.Your email prompted us to hunt for other sources and we can now con rm that, as you state, Jim Richards claimed the title.
Wyong ruled Bathurst ’68
Issue #104’s story on Bruce McPhee was brilliant. It certainly brought back a lot of memories of growing up in Wyong.
There is another Wyong connection to the ’68 Bathurst 500. My brother Russell and I prepared the Cooper S for Charlie Smith and Don Holland that won class C. That was the start of my friendship with Don which is still going strong today.
Another story which brought back a lot of memories for me was on the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon. I was in the nal year of my apprenticeship at BMC and was asked if I would take an Austin 1800 ute down to the Snowy Mountains loaded with spares and be part of the service crew for that leg of the Marathon. It took me one second to say ‘yes’.
There were two other people organised who I had to meet up with when I got there. One of them was to be the navigator to guide us around the Snowy Mountains; that person’s name was Roger Bonhomme, who obviously went on to become one of the top navigators in Australia.
As was reported at the time, Evan Green should have won the Marathon, but unfortunately a service “stuff up” resulted in one of the rear hubs being over-tightened causing the wheel-bearing to overheat and seize.
When I went over to London for the start of the 2000 London to Sydney Marathon, I was able to meet up with Andrew Cowan. I reminded him that he was very lucky to win the 1968 Marathon in his Hillman Hunter due to Evan’s nut problem.
Andrew agged us off at the start and when it was our turn, he put his head in the window and said to me, “Noel, I have some very good advice for you on the Marathon: don’t let anyone touch your nuts.”
My navigator at the time was a mate of mine, Ric Macey. We still laugh about Andrew’s advice to this day. I still have the XY that we built for the 2000 Marathon up in the shed. It is a beautiful car to drive and is actually for sale if you would like to buy it! Noel Delforce Lochinvar, NSW
My XU-1 raced Goss’s HO
After reading issue #103 and the story about the Goss GT-HO Phase III, I remembered a photo I have. It was taken on the starting grid of the Glenvale 200 with the HO in the foreground with my LC Torana GTR XU-1 in the background.
It looks like Jim Richards at the wheel of the HO.
I have included photos of my XU-1 both in the race and how it is now. The Torana is a late 1971 CK block XU-1 bought by Richard Brocklehurst from GM-H Australia to run the late 71/72 GTX Series Golden 100 and Glenvale 100 and 200 race meetings to replace his early yellow LC XU-1.
What he didn’t tell them was that he also ordered a Phase III and planned to run the rst one to arrive which was the Falcon, so he on-sold the Torana. It was bought by Rod McCallum, who owned Papakura Truck Sales and was raced many times in 1972, ’73 by Rod and Bob Homewood including the Glenvale and Golden 100.
It was then bought by Graham Crawford who tted triple Dellortos which it still has.
I bought the XU-1 in the early 90s. It was sitting under a tree with a tarp over it down the side of a house in East Auckland. After checking the ownership papers and recognising the names of previous owners, I did a deal with the mother of the owner – from memory if I paid his speeding nes I got the car.
I raced it a couple of times before moving to Australia and have since used it in regularity events, etc. I would like to race it again but unfortunately the only class for old production cars is Group N, which have no history and are not factory-spec. Richard Johnson ED: It’s strange, Richard, that there’s no racing class for old Series Production racecars as there are plenty of cars around.
Son of Chickenman
Flicking through the pages of issue 104, I came across the “Bathurst in the Rain” feature. Great shot of the Chickadee Commodore in the wet at Bathurst 1986. I am pretty sure this photo was taken in Wednesday or Thursday practice, with Graeme Bailey at the wheel. Allan Grice was delayed at London Heathrow, due to a bomb scare, and didn’t get in the car until Friday. The track was completely dry from Friday through to the end of the race on Sunday. Keen observers will note that the car in this photo doesn’t yet have the additional sponsor decals applied that were present in qualifying and the race. Anyway, my point is that that photo reminded me of my favourite shot of the car, which I think may have been in your feature on the Chickadee Commodore in a previous edition. What a background!
Derek Bailey (very proud son of Graeme)
Inspired by your feature on the Peter Brock 1983 Bathurst 05 Commodore in AMC #104, I thought I should give a plug for the driver who finished second in that race, the elusive and so often misunderstood Allan Moffat – and also his excellent autobiography Climbing the Mountain.
The prickly Moffat did not have Brock’s easy nature or media charm and unlike Brock did not welcome an intrusive TV camera and microphone shoved under his nose just prior to a race. But he fought and drove hard with an intense level of professionalism in all he did and added greatly to the drama and passion of the sport over many decades.
I have recently watched the seven-hour TV coverage of the 1983 race courtesy of Chevron and the Channel 7 archives. At the podium presentation it was all glory to King Brock and his co-drivers, and when Moffat is called out to receive his accolades the track audience response was predictably hostile. After a tough day-long race in his droning Mazda RX-7 he was second only to Brock and so the look of resigned disappointment was clear to read on Mofat’s face. I could not help but feel sorry for the guy after all the celebratory praise the winners Brock, Harvey and Perkins received.
So love or loath the man, you owe it to yourself, if you are a true Great Race tragic, to read his story in his own words. In his senior years he is a lot more forthcoming with information than he was back then!
Roger Swanson. Ashfield NSW.
Iso enjoy the column written by Bob Morris.
Although I was a kid at the time, I always regarded Bob as one of the most aggressive, spectacular and professional drivers of the 1970s and early ’80s.
I was and am very much an Allan Moffat/Ford fan, but when Holden started to dominate in 1978 and particularly ’79, before the rise of Dick Johnson, Bob was my hero against Brock!
Even more so when, in mid-late 1980, it was announced he was switching to Ford!
There have been a number of features on Bob in the past, but I was wondering if as an extended column or another feature, Bob had any memorabilia he could share?
Of great interest would be his own collection of photos he may have collected, news clippings, driving suit, (Bob’s suits were particularly memorable) helmets, etc.
Regardless of that, as part of his column could he please critique the other drivers of the era? Of great interest would be why he didn’t rate Dick Johnson’s driving highly. And I’d love to read about any agro or mind games he played against or received from Moffat, Brock, Grice, etc. Also, how the whole Rutherford/Guthrie Bathurst entry came about has always intrigued me.
Keep the interesting stories coming AMC, I always look forward to the next edition!
Pete Dadson Email
Ienjoyed your Sacred Sites article on Port Wakefield, about which very little ever seems to have been written. It sounds like a pretty desolate place. There is an amusing postscript to the story. I was at Adelaide for the rst day of F1 action on the Thursday in 1985. There was huge anticipation; it was all glitz and glamour. So it was most amusing that John Cummins started his course commentary by saying, “Well, it’s all a bit different from Port Wakefield in 1955”!
David Greenhalgh, Roseville, NSW