HK-HT-HG NA­TION­ALS

Cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of HK Hold­ens with one hell of a hoo­te­nanny in Ade­laide

Street Machine - - Contents -

FIFTY years ago, the first HK Holden rolled off the pro­duc­tion line. Spawn­ing icons like the Kingswood and the mighty Monaro coupe, the HK (along with the HT and HG it­er­a­tions that fol­lowed) helped truly ce­ment Holden’s place in Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing fans’ hearts. To cel­e­brate the HK’S 50th birth­day, the in­au­gu­ral HK-HT-HG Holden Na­tion­als took place in Ade­laide over the week­end of 19-21 October, thanks to the tire­less ef­forts of the Na­tion­als com­mit­tee and the HK-HT-HG Own­ers Car Club of SA, spear­headed by pres­i­dent Paul Kan­nane.

And what a cel­e­bra­tion it was, with pun­ters mak­ing the trip from as far away as WA, Queens­land and even NZ. Pro­ceed­ings kicked off on Fri­day night in Gepps Cross, 10 min­utes from the CBD, then headed north on Satur­day for the Collingrove Hill­climb; down south to the pic­turesque Mclaren Vale for a Sun­day show ’n’ shine, be­fore wrap­ping up at Gepps Cross drive-in. Get­ting amongst it all was AFL leg­end Barry Hall and his an­gry HG Prem, as well as Sum­mer­nats founder Chic Henry, who also did a spot of judg­ing.

Ap­proach­ing the Croa­t­ian Sports Cen­tre venue on Fri­day night, it was ex­cit­ing to see the many HK/T/G models along the road as they fil­tered in, and I felt a twinge of pride that the first Na­tion­als was be­ing held in my home­town. Upon en­ter­ing, I spot­ted Shane ‘Tappy’ Tap­scott’s HT Monaro body atop a Nissan Pa­trol GQ 4WD chas­sis, tow­er­ing above the other rooflines. I fig­ured he’d cop a bit of stink-eye for what would be deemed sac­ri­le­gious by the purists, but rather than pass judge­ment, most peo­ple were in­trigued to learn more.

Step­ping past that be­he­moth, I cast my eye across the car park, and was pleas­antly sur­prised to see ev­ery model and body type rep­re­sented with an ar­ray of colours, mods and fin­ishes. Some proudly sported their 70s and 80s mods, in­clud­ing era-cor­rect mag choices of jelly­beans, Hotwires and Hustlers. Sur­vivors, con­cours builds and full-blown drag cars rounded out the dis­play.

“We were go­ing to be happy with any­thing over 100 en­tries,” said Paul Kan­nane. “We ended up cap­ping it at just over 250!”

And while the Fri­day night of­fer­ing was great to sali­vate over, I reckon the heart-thump­ing thrill of see­ing the 47- to 50-year-old rides pound up the Collingrove Hill­climb on Satur­day was the cat’s py­ja­mas.

The pic­turesque track is well laid out and of­fered easy ac­cess for ev­ery­one to watch pro­ceed­ings. Around

40 driv­ers put their rides through their paces, snaking their way up the track. The runs grew faster and cleaner as pun­ters got a feel for the cor­ners – and for how much they could push their large-bod­ied and of­ten drum-braked and man­u­ally steered Hold­ens.

I was lucky enough to get a cou­ple of pas­sen­ger-seat punts around the track with Brett Unsworth in his HT Monaro GTS. Twisting through the un­du­lat­ing track gave me a whole new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what Brocky han­dled at Bathurst all those years ago! The track was so much nar­rower and steeper than I’d imag­ined, yet no one binned it in a bad way. In fact, the runs were very re­spectable.

Af­ter the hill­climb fun, ev­ery­one filed out for a cruise to the de­funct Holden plant in El­iz­a­beth to mark the 12-month an­niver­sary of its clo­sure. The fac­tory visit was a high­light for many, as it’ll soon lose its iconic sig­nage due to the de­com­mis­sion­ing process for the new owner.

Come Sun­day, a bright sky greeted us for the show ’n’ shine at Le­con­field Win­ery in Mclaren Vale. “We wanted a venue that wasn’t a sports oval,” Paul ex­plained. “Le­con­field is a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion with a lush lawn area and the most stun­ning back­drop you could ask for.”

As pun­ters gath­ered into their body-style group­ings, a hand­ful of fear­less tan­dem sky­divers landed in the pad­dock only me­tres from the shiny and rather ex­pen­sive ma­chin­ery. The venue’s tight con­fines kept ev­ery­one to­gether, adding to the friendly and re­laxed at­mos­phere. Once the judges had picked their top rides, the tro­phies were handed out be­fore ev­ery­one headed back to Gepps Cross to watch Chris­tine and Mad Max at the drive-in for the event fi­nale.

As a spec­ta­tor, I wish I had been an en­trant. With so much on of­fer, to be part of it all in your cruiser would’ve been a blast. Even the goodie bag was full of cool keep­sakes, all for the early en­try cost of $100.

“The spon­sors were great; they helped to keep the costs down, which meant more peo­ple could en­ter and also make it free to spec­tate,” Paul said. “We planned a fam­ily-friendly event with a re­laxed at­mos­phere that catered for all HK/T/G models in any con­di­tion, which in­cluded a driv­ing event, and the hill­climb was the best value for money. The Nats will be in Queens­land next year, but we’ll have it back in SA in 2023, so hope­fully by then The Bend Mo­tor­sport Park is af­ford­able for us to race at.”

We’d sure like to see that.

THE TRO­PHIES WERE HANDED OUT BE­FORE EV­ERY­ONE HEADED BACK TO WATCH CHRIS­TINE AND MAD MAX AT THE DRIVE-IN

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Barry Hall’s fe­ro­cious 572-pow­ered HG Prem made an im­pres­sive en­trance to ev­ery por­tion of the Nats, gar­ner­ing keen on­look­ers ev­ery time. “I loved the event,” said Barry. “It was a push to get my car there. I had it dy­noed only two nights be­fore leav­ing and put in a new Castlemaine Rod Shop front end on the day we left!”

Vanessa Kan­nane co-pi­loted her yel­low 350-pow­ered ’68 HK Kingswood wagon with hubby and club pres­i­dent Paul. “My goal is to be the fastest woman out here,” she said, hav­ing caught the hill­climb bug with her first run only a month prior. “I’m lov­ing it; now I want a full CAMS li­cence to race here more of­ten.” She headed home with Queen Of The Hill hon­ours

David Clark whipped out the tight­est and clean­est runs on Satur­day to take home King Of The Hill and Most Con­sis­tent V8 in his 350-pow­ered HG Kingswood. Com­plete with rac­ing seat, har­ness, tacho and race rub­ber, the sedan is a reg­u­lar at Collingrove with con­sis­tent 39-sec­ond runs. He backed it up on Sun­day with a Mod­i­fied HG Kingswood win

An­drew Mid­dle­ton’s HK Monaro coupe epit­o­mises the cur­rent Ade­laide Aussie mus­cle car scene. Fea­tur­ing a show fin­ish of Sil­ver Mink and a strik­ing red fac­tory in­te­rior, it’s fin­ished off with a stonker 434ci Mo­town-blocked Chev full of go-fast parts, while rolling on Cen­ter Line Auto Drag fats ’n’ skin­nies

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