Australian Muscle Car


- Au­ Sports · Cars · American Motors Corporation · Surfers Paradise · Championship · Holden Dealer Team · New South Wales · Peter Brock · Dick Johnson

Our Back in the Day sec­tion in AMC #114 fea­tured some fan­tas­tic im­ages from the Surfers Par­adise round of the 1974 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship. As the pics showed, it was the day Peter Brock not only gave the new LH model To­rana SL/R 5000 its race de­but but also wrapped up his rst ATCC ti­tle.

It was also the one and only time Brock and Dick John­son raced as Holden Dealer Team team-mates.

At Surfers that week­end Dick drove a sec­ond HDT en­try, the ‘NSW’ HDT To­rana XU-1 nor­mally raced by Colin Bond. En­list­ing the ser­vices of a top lo­cal ace was per­haps team boss Harry Firth’s way of pro­vid­ing

Brocky with backup – or was Firth au­di­tion­ing John­son for a HDT co-driver role later in the year at Bathurst? A Brock/John­son pair­ing in a HDT To­rana L34 – it never hap­pened but what a Bathurst driver combo that would have been! At the time John­son was among the coun­try’s top pri­va­teer To­rana driv­ers – and in­deed had shared (and pre­pared) Bob Forbes’ XU-1 to sixth place at Bathurst the year be­fore, in what was thethen 28 year-old John­son’s Great Race de­but. At the time, in fact, the fu­ture Ford hero was a com­mit­ted Holden man. In his 10 years in the sport to that date, John­son had only ever raced Hold­ens.

This got us think­ing. Dick’s var­i­ous old Ford race ma­chines that sur­vive to­day are much revered and gen­er­ally worth a pretty penny. But where are the Hold­ens? It’s hard to re­call a sin­gle one of them ever even pop­ping up for sale, let alone be­ing lov­ingly re­stored to its for­mer glory. It’s al­most as though they’ve been erased from his­tory.

Which is per­haps not too sur­pris­ing. Af­ter all, Holden fans prob­a­bly feel a bit con icted when it comes to cher­ish­ing an old Holden race car made fa­mous by a Ford star. And

Blue Oval fol­low­ers would be even less in­clined to have any­thing to do with an early Dick John­son car with that Lion badge at­tached.

So, we won­dered: where are all the lost Dick John­son Hold­ens?

John­son be­gan rac­ing, like so many oth­ers in the early ‘60s, in a Humpy Holden. Dick bought a sec­ond-hand FJ model with 57,000 miles on the clock and hot­ted it up at home (and painted it up in a kind of dull beige colour from tins of paint he found un­der stored un­der the house). The FJ soon made way for a red EH Holden, fol­lowed by a yel­low To­rana GTR modi ed for Im­proved Pro­duc­tion (in this car Dick scored his rst ATCC cham­pi­onship points, at Lake­side in 1970). A lit­tle later John­son got to­gether with lo­cal Holden dealer Zupps to race its Se­ries Pro­duc­tion XU-1, with Dick’s GTR now run­ning in Zupps colours.

The plan had been for Zupps to up­date to a new LH To­rana SL/R 5000 for John­son to drive, but this never even­tu­ated. In­stead, Dick did a deal to race an XU-1 with a dif­fer­ent Holden dealer, Barry Nixon-Smith. Dick was still rac­ing this car as late as 1976 (and still giv­ing the top L34 driv­ers a run for their money) un­til an of­fer came from Bryan Byrt Ford to switch to the dark (blue) side and race its XA Fal­con Hard­top Sports Sedan and new XB Group C tourer.

The Nixon-Smith car, we be­lieve, is known – the ill-fated Brock/Chivas XU-1 Bathurst ’73 car. But about the oth­ers? How many Dick John­son Hold­ens are still out there? So, Whad­daya­know?

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 ??  ?? Whad­daya­know? Con­tact AMC via am­ced­i­to­ and please out­line de­tails in your email.
Whad­daya­know? Con­tact AMC via am­ced­i­to­ and please out­line de­tails in your email.
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