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Dream team

Firstly, a big con­grat­u­la­tions on AMC is­sue #115. I have man­aged to read it from cover-to-cover with my usual speed (as I do with ev­ery is­sue), and I now face the long and agonising wait (for me) un­til is­sue #116 hits the stands.

I thor­oughly en­joyed the ar­ti­cle on the Craven Mild ‘Dream Team,’ and about the Com­modore it­self. As a long-time en­thu­si­ast who de­vours ev­ery­thing re­lated to mo­tor­sport, this ar­ti­cle brought back some mem­o­ries from some of the mag­a­zines of the day. I used to have ev­ery is­sue of Rac­ing Car News and Auto Ac­tion go­ing right back to #1, but had to part with them when I moved in­ter­state. What re­ally raised my in­ter­est is the two pho­tos of the Com­modore that were taken at Sym­mons Plains in 1980. In one photo the Com­modore wears the ho­molo­gated front spoiler, but in the other, it doesn’t. I re­mem­ber read­ing that the car prac­tised with the spoiler tted, but Frank Gard­ner told the mo­tor­sport re­porters at the time that he was con­cerned about high en­gine tem­per­a­tures. As a pre­cau­tion, the spoiler was re­moved overnight in prepa­ra­tion for race day to al­low bet­ter air ow to the ra­di­a­tor. As it turned out, Mother Na­ture de­cided to chuck it down, so en­gine tem­per­a­ture was never an is­sue.

An­other car that was men­tioned very brie y was the Barry Lawrence Com­modore. It would be in­ter­est­ing to know whether this car has even­tu­ally been re­stored, be­cause if it’s the car that I think that it is, then it’s had a re­ally in­ter­est­ing life. In 1982 at Bathurst it suf­fered an en­gine fail­ure on lap 2 in The Cut­ting, and the en­su­ing chaos in­volved Terry Fin­ni­gan and Steve Har­ring­ton, ef­fec­tively end­ing the races for all three cars. In 1983, the same car quali ed well, but was bought off Barry by Ross Palmer. Ross then gave it to An­drew Har­ris and Garry Cooke to run, while Palmer took their XE Fal­con for Dick and KB to run af­ter the Hardies He­roes ac­ci­dent. If it is the same car, then it was re­painted by the TAFE guys overnight, and is the only Com­modore to ever run at Bathurst wear­ing spon­sor­ship from a Ford deal­er­ship... and wear­ing Ford badges on both front mud­guards. The Com­modore went on to nish 10th, and in the process Har­ris won the Rookie of The Year Award. I can’t help but feel that if it is the same car, then there’s a story in that one as well.

One nal lit­tle piece of trivia. There was one un­men­tioned V8 at Sym­mons Plains on that week­end in 1980. That was Kevin Bartlett’s Nine Ca­maro. I can re­mem­ber an ar­ti­cle in Launce­s­ton’s lo­cal news­pa­per, The Ex­am­iner, from that week­end. KB hadn’t had a lot of seat time in the Ca­maro due to the in­juries that he suf­fered in a For­mula 5000 ac­ci­dent at Sandown in 1979. It was those in­juries that had kept him out of the car at Bathurst, and he was keen to make up for lost time. I re­mem­ber him telling one lo­cal journo that his team had been at the track at the break of dawn each day, and that it was just him rac­ing the rab­bits!

One last piece of re­as­sur­ance. I may have had to part with my col­lec­tion of RCN and Auto Ac­tion mag­a­zines, but NO­BODY is get­ting my AMC col­lec­tion!

Thanks for your time and take care in these crazy days.

Adam Clarke


The folly of Su­per­cars

Con­grat­u­la­tions, rstly, on an out­stand­ing is­sue 115 – pos­si­bly the best Aus­tralian mo­tor mag­a­zine for a long time. And I say this, still with lots still to read. But I have nished the Su­per­cars story, thank good­ness. When will this mob wake up?

They are rea­son­ably good race se­ries or­gan­is­ers, although they could be bet­ter.

As car de­sign­ers, they’re bloody dread­ful. Why, in hell’s name, does this small team of peo­ple think they can do a bet­ter job than Ford, GM, Toy­ota, Hyundai, etc at mak­ing a car? They do it badly and ex­pen­sively, bug­ger­ing around while try­ing to make ev­ery­thing equal. Like a Mc­Don­ald’s burger, with as much ap­peal.

When will they un­der­stand that we want va­ri­ety in the way races pan out, with dif­fer­ent strate­gies and dif­fer­ent cir­cuits pro­vid­ing dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios? Close times, with ev­ery­one up ev­ery­one’s bum, do­ing the same thing all the time ac­cord­ing to a big book of rules, is not breath­tak­ing, hard-to-pre­dict mo­tor­ing rac­ing.

Think Mi­nis, Sky­lines, To­ranas, Fal­con GTs, Jaguars, Sier­ras, Ca­maros, Maz­das, Volvos, Lo­tus Corti­nas, etc, etc. Cur­rent ex­cite­ment seems to be to dec­o­rate a car dif­fer­ently, pos­si­bly hark­ing back to bet­ter times. It’s money badly spent. It won’t in­ter­est the me­dia or spec­ta­tors.

When will some­one in the se­ries re­alise that, if one car has more horse­power than an­other, it will use more fuel, do more pit stops, be harder on brakes and tyres – and that a slower car may catch it, if not at Bathurst, then at Win­ton?

Weight, frontal area, front/rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion are all mat­ters that make car com­par­isons in­ter­est­ing for the car com­pa­nies, spec­ta­tors and view­ers.

When there were classes, there were nu­mer­ous bat­tles – out­right, in the classes and then how some class he­roes were go­ing over­all. Now they can’t even vary their fuel or brake per­for­mance. So there’s just one story to tell, for the com­men­ta­tors and the spec­ta­tors.

For the Ade­laide race a few years ago to be won be­cause the car run­ning fth had pushed 140 litres of not-needed fuel in and out of its tank where the four in front hadn’t was garbage. Races are run and won on race tracks, not in rule books.

Come on Su­per­cars, open up the regs, stop rac­ing to a thick rule book that pro­hibits in­no­va­tion. Stop all your ex­pen­sive aero test­ing. Get the en­gi­neers, the car com­pa­nies, the team strate­gists back into the game so that a wider range of peo­ple can take an in­ter­est in nd­ing out what might hap­pen at this meet­ing – or the one af­ter that.

Good­ness, it might even in­ter­est car com­pa­nies…

This hia­tus is a chance to get back on course to ex­cit­ing, in­no­va­tive, un­pre­dictable and more var­ied mo­tor rac­ing. And, hope­fully, cheaper. Will Hagon

Dawn, not Diane

Just nished read­ing your Whad­daya­know ar­ti­cle in is­sue #114, which cov­ered mar­ried rac­ing cou­ple Max and ‘Diane’ Dick­son. I have no con­nec­tion to the fam­ily but can of­fer the fol­low­ing clue. On the right front quar­ter panel of the main pic­ture you’ll see the names Max and DAWN Dick­son. Great mag, I have ev­ery sin­gle is­sue from #1 and look for­ward to ev­ery in­stall­ment.

Leigh Peer­man


ED: In­deed you’re right, Leigh – some­how not one of us in the AMC of­fice spot­ted that as we were putting the is­sue to­gether! But af­ter we read your email we had an­other look at the pic, and sud­denly it Dawned on us… Some­times you just can’t see the wood for the trees…

Dawn at Catalina

Re Whad­daya­know from AMC is­sue #114, the Cortina pic­tured has Dawn Dick­son as the driver in the of­fi­cial pro­gramme from

Catalina Park in 1968. Mrs D Dick­son is en­tered in a Sport­four Mini in event 2. I found a photo of this car on au­

Richard Gold­ing


ED: Well spot­ted, Richard, and here is that pic of Dawn (not Diane!) Dick­son at the wheel of the Sport­four Mini at Catalina Park in ’68.

No longer Holden on

Here are my thoughts on the Su­per­cars cov­er­age by Mark Mathot in AMC is­sue #115 and where it should go from here. The cat­e­gory still pro­vides ap­peal with name driv­ers and teams chas­ing glory, and there may be a snip­pet of emo­tion re­main­ing for parochial fans if the cho­sen badge is

rst across the nish line; but that is still de­pen­dent upon there be­ing an identi able re­la­tion­ship be­tween man­u­fac­turer prod­uct and race car.

For Ford, that vis­ual ac­cep­tance surely dis­ap­peared when the Fal­con was re­tired. For Holden, the im­age

of a front-drive car pos­ing as a RWD prod­uct, (and one not only not pop­u­lar in the mar­ket place, but also not identi ed by both Holden and Ford fans as a Com­modore), has al­ways been a bit of a stretch. NASCAR found the head­light and grille stick­ers and badges thing on sim­i­lar body shapes to be a bridge too far, so I couldn’t see it get­ting

much trac­tion out here. And now there’s no Holden any­way…

No eco­nom­i­cal way out of this dilemma, if the sport is to con­tinue to in­crease its sup­port base. Would love to see a gen­uine Ca­maro/Mus­tang con­test like the orig­i­nal Trans-Am, but that’s not go­ing to hap­pen.

You did a com­pre­hen­sive sum­mary with the Holden story in the same is­sue. The two Monaros, (p81), and the VE Sedan were all good look­ing cars. The

VE of course was a top car through­out. When I rst saw one at a dealer’s out­let I was im­pressed, and also wor­ried, be­cause from mem­ory Ford had de­cided not to do a com­pletely new Fal­con at that stage.

Only crit­i­cism I had was that it was a big car, which wasn’t for me back then.

Re­gard­ing the FJ; back in the late ‘50s my folks lived out­side Lith­gow and one day there had been a head-on crash be­tween said model Holden and a new MKII Ze­phyr out along the high­way. My dad re­marked that the Holden had folded up like a tin can with the steer­ing wheel and shaft pushed up through the wind­screen. The Ford was mostly in one piece. Iron­i­cal now but given the pur­pose of mod­ern crum­ple zones the Holden may have been the safer car to be in. Eric Waples


The real Horst Kwech?

Paul Newby’s piece on Horst Kwech last is­sue (and ref­er­ences to Kwech in pre­vi­ous is­sues) re­minded me of a char­ac­ter in a ctional book that I read as a kid

- Dead Heat at Le Mans, by Eric Speed. To­day, I pulled the ti­tle out of stor­age and icked through its pages once again. And there it was… Horst Kwech, car builder from Chicago, with a cou­ple of new Chev Monza IMSA-spec race cars.

Co­in­ci­dence? Surely not. I won­der what the back story is to him be­ing used in a ctional book aimed at teenage read­ers? Was Kwech aware of the book? Did he know the au­thor? These are ques­tions that might never be an­swered. Dead Heat at Le Mans, pub­lished in 1977, was the fth and nal ti­tle in the Wynn And Lonny Rac­ing Books se­ries that also in­cludes The Mex­i­cali 1000, Road Race of Cham­pi­ons, GT Chal­lenge and Gold Cup Rook­ies.

I’ve not read these other ti­tles, but would be in­ter­ested to ac­quire them if any AMC read­ers had a copy they no longer wanted. Sim­i­larly, I’m on the hunt to nd an­other ti­tle from my youth, 500. It’s based around the Indy 500 in the mid ‘60s and is part of a Check­ered

Flag se­ries of chil­dren’s ction books that fea­tured a che­quered ag for the cover.

FYI #1 - I’m a long time reader of AMC and en­joy the old race car and driver ar­ti­cles the most – the fa­mous and the ob­scure. Keep it up! FYI #2 – I col­lect & build model race cars and run a blog about it: www.wixy500. com At­tached is a photo of a re­cent diecast con­ver­sion I did; TEKNO’s Jack LeBrocq/ Johnathan Webb ‘Truck As­sist’ ZB Com­modore from 2018 in 1:43 scale.

Mark Wicks

Pon­tiac-pow­ered Corona

An­other great is­sue. As per your Holden time line, here is a lit­tle-known GM in­ter­fer­ence. Around 1978 Holden when was work­ing on de­vel­op­ing a lo­cal four-cylin­der en­gine they were look­ing at us­ing half of the 5-litre V8, as per the cur­rent Pon­tiac Tem­pest in the USA (ie: with one cylin­der bank cut off).

At this time the badge en­gi­neer­ing be­tween Toy­ota and GM was just start­ing to hap­pen. The new Corona was com­ing and Toy­ota was strug­gling to meet the then min­i­mum lo­cal con­tent rules with that model. They ap­proached GM for help, from my mem­ory, and then sources within Holden de­cided on the four-cylin­der ver­sion of the red six, as the half V8 Tem­pest en­gine would not t the Corona en­gine bay. Se­condly, Toy­ota did not want to ex­ceed a 2-litre limit, hence the 1.9-litre ca­pac­ity.

You may re­mem­ber about this time Peter Wher­rett com­mis­sioned the tting of a 2.6-litre Mit­subishi Astron four-cylin­der into the four­cylin­der VC Com­modore. Road tests agreed that this would have been the go and could have been a suc­cess­ful four-cylin­der Com­modore.

I had a four-cylin­der Com­modore ve-speed for a while as a com­pany car and, ex­cept for hills and the A/C load­ing up the power, the car was good. It’s maybe dif­fi­cult to go back in time, but if true it ex­hibits an­other short-sighted ap­proach from GM.

Jim Mur­doch (sub­scriber)

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