Australian Muscle Car-Magazine-Current issue

Australian Muscle Car Magazine

Dick’s Greens-Tuf Mustang

by mcowner

Our cover story this issue is about the Group A racecar we’ve dubbed ‘The Stayer’. Dick Johnson’s mean green Ford Mustang only won a single race, but this orphan became an Australian motor racing icon and proved a vital stepping-stone on Dick’s remarkable career journey.

The AMC office’s dictionary defines a stayer as ‘a tenacious person or thing, especially a horse able to hold out to the end of a race’. Dick’s pony was a stayer in two senses: it held him over until the Sierra Turbo arrived; and it invariably was still galloping on at race’s end.

The Mustang had a great name, but no pedigree. Johnson would have to take this bastard child of trans-Atlantic parents and on the sweat of his own brow turn it into a winner. It was never going to be a world-beater against factory turbo cars, yet it became an unexpected fan favourite downunder over the two seasons that he raced it, 1985 and ’86. It certainly did nothing to diminish Dick’s standing as the ultimate Aussie motorsport underdog.

We speak to Dick at length and hear how this mechanical whiz made the Group A Mustang competitive. We also outline where his two Zakspeed-sourced cars are today.

Issue #98 also marks the passing of Aussie Holdens by revisiting GM-H Pagewood in Sydney, presenting a matching pair of A9X Toranas and a complete set of Group A Commodores.

  AMC Issue 98- Dick’s Greens-Tuf Mustang 1

Soon the only trace of Holden at Pagewood will be the workers’ old pub, as remaining buildings at GM-H’s former Sydney assembly plant are completely torn down. It’s a metaphor for local manufacturing’s October 20 demise, signifying more than just the end of the line at Elizabeth and for Aussie-built Commodores. We took three former Pagewood workers out to their own stomping ground to hear their recollections of the GM factory where Holden’s first Bathurst winner, the Monaro GTS 327, was built. We also present a stunning GTS Monaro that was built at Pagewood.

Then there’s our feature on four brothers who have four Commodores with one common build number. They have a very familiar name, too.

This is not the only set of matching Holdens in AMC #98. We profile two Roadways A9Xs – one sedan and one hatch – that were running mates in the late 1970s, spent nearly two decades apart and have now found a home again with each other, as AMC discovers.

We can’t recall ever seeing a profile on perennial touring car privateer Bill O’Brien. AMC caught up with O’Brien in Canberra, of course, to hear the story of his everlasting Bathurst attacks in powder blue.

Meantime, motor racing legend Allan Moffat takes us back to his epic 1973 season – when he won both the ATCC and the (first) Bathurst 1000 – in this extract from his long-awaited autobiography, Climbing the Mountain

This story is complemented by an interview with one of his former crew members. Among former Lot 6 mechanic Colin Russell’s many achievements in motorsport was building the engine that won the first Bathurst classic held over 1000 kilometres. AMC sat down with Russell to hear his recollections of fettling the fastest GTs of the late 1960s and early ’70s in both quarter mile and touring car competition.

For hardcore racing history buffs, we continue our series on Aussies racing in the United States. America’s F5000 scene offered big-buck tobacco-funded prizemoney and attracted Australia’s best open-wheeler drivers of the 1970s who invariably punched above their weight.

It’s fitting that Matich was the first Australian to try his hand in US Formula 5000. After all, Matich’s F5000 programme began off the back of his US Can-Am sports car effort.

Kevin Bartlett had several reasons for hitting the US scene. He and his mate Max Stewart were among the Aussie contingent in American F5000 in 1973. They followed expatriate Australian Horst Kwech, who was among the Lola T300 runners in 1972.

Bob Muir is best known for his Army Reserve Falcon, but it was his open-wheeler career during the early ’70s where he really starred. Meanwhile, for John Walker, doing US F5000 was never about the money.

The severe leg injuries Warwick Brown sustained at Surfers Paradise in early ’73 prompted him to look to the American F5000 scene. AJ, meanwhile, sought extra-curricular racing activities in F5000 when he was establishing himself in F1. Then there was Vern Schuppan.

All that and a whole lot more in AMC #98.

’77… Muscle Car heaven

by mcowner

The latest AMC celebrates the two biggest muscle car events of 1977 – the A9X Torana’s launch and Allan Moffat’s famous Bathurst 1-2 victory. We present stories on the first A9X to record a win (in the hands of Peter Brock), the A9X racecar that never raced and 40 reasons to love the ultimate factory Torana V8. Let’s walk through each of the above in more detail…

It’s 40 years since our main cover car, the Peter Brock-driven ‘Patto hatch’ won on debut in the 1977 Hang Ten 400 at Sandown in Melbourne. This stunning blue and gold machine then sat on the Bathurst pole and led the most memorable of races early, before the plans of the Brock brothers unravelled. You’ll have to read our 8-page ‘life story’ feature on this car to find out why it dropped out of contention on October 2, 1977 – and why it dropped out of public view for a long period. This machine has long been overshadowed by the Moffat team’s triumph and Brock’s subsequent victories in HDT versions in 1978 and ’79.

After 20 years in virtual hibernation, the ‘Patto hatch’ has returned to prominence and now for the first time AMC details its long overlooked history.

Our other cover car is Greg Hayes’ stunning Palais White Torana. This sits somewhere between the surviving racing A9Xs and the 405 factory-spec road cars produced. We photographed it on the shores of Canberra’s Lake Burley-Griffin, but perhaps it would have been more appropriate to shoot it outside the nearby National Museum of Australia, or, better still The Treasury!

The latest AMC also names and proclaims 25 notable Torana A9X racecars that live on today.

AMC #97’s other major focus is Allan Moffat’s form-finish. He welcomed us into his home to view and photograph his personal scrapbooks from season ’77.

We had to travel to Le Mans to interview his winning co-driver from Bathurst ’77, Belgian Jacky Ickx. The endurance race specialist has only been back to Australia a couple of times since playing his part in arguably the Great Race’s most famous victory. So to hear his recollections we had to catch-up with him, fittingly, at Le Mans.

Fresh imagery of Bathurst 1977, especially the 1-2 ‘form finish’, is hard to come by for mags like AMC. So it was like a breath of fresh air when we first clapped eyes on Keith’s pics which form this issue’s Punter Pics section.

To continue the Bathurst ’77 theme we profile fabrication genius George Smith. George has built about 80 famous racecars, including nine Bathurst winners and three rally champions, for the likes of Allan Moffat, Nissan, Peter Brock and HRT. He was also part of Moffat’s pic crew at Bathurst in ’77.

For Chrysler fans, we present a very special tribute Charger. The Kaleda family has decked out a genuine E38 in the livery of patriarch Ray’s most successful Bathurst challenger. The E38 has proven a hit at car shows as it helps keep memories alive of an unsung privateer’s Great Race feats.

Onto our regular track-focused Sacred Sites section now, which this issue zooms in on South Australia. For the last two decades Adelaide International Raceway has been something of a Clayton’s circuit – the racetrack you have when you don’t have a racetrack. It’s still sitting out there in the sun as we point out.

Finally, MIA is back for one issue only, as the V8 Sleuth’s detective work has uncovered a surviving A9X Torana with an amazing history and several claims to fame. Its life story includes being the very first GMP&A racing chassis built and the last A9X to win an ATCC race.

All that and a whole lot more in issue #97 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

The Falcon GT turns 50

by mcowner

The Falcon GT turns 50 AMC #96 spotlights the very first Aussie muscle car, the 1967 Ford XR Falcon GT. The XR GT turns 50 in 2017 and therefore so does the Australian muscle car. To celebrate a half-century of fast Falcons, AMC presents 50 reasons to love the first GT.

Our long list of reasons is coloured by a beautiful example of this model in its trademark GT Gold hue. But the most famous roadgoing XR Falcon GTs of all are those commissioned by tobacco company, Gallaher International, for promotional work back in 1967. These eight cars were driven by Gallaher’s sales reps and have long been something of a holy grail for Blue Oval enthusiasts. No more than four survive today in varying states and we’ve tracked down arguably the most pristine version, which resides these days in Townsville, Queensland.

Our coverage of this landmark anniversary also includes an interview with the man they call ‘Mr Falcon GT’. Ian Vaughan seems as busy in retirement as he ever was in a decorated 37-year career with Ford Australia. Yet Vaughan was more than happy to stop to discuss the birth of the Falcon GT.

At that time Vaughan was a young product planner and budding rally driver. Fate saw him land at Ford as a graduate trainee in 1964, at virtually the same time that American marketing whiz Bill Bourke arrived in Melbourne. Bourke would soon blaze a trail through Broadmeadows, changing it from a producer of bland family sedans into a vibrant marketing outfit where the key word seemed to be ‘excitement’. Vaughan strapped himself in went along for the ride.

“Yes, it was a very exciting time for the company – it was an exciting time in the car industry, I reckon,” a still sprightly Vaughan, 75, says from his Melbourne home. “In the 1950s when the car industry was getting going in Australia, the Holden was a basic sedan car and the Falcon came in and did the same thing, and then around the mid-60s we decided to put a bit of excitement into it!”

Learn more about the XR GT’s development in our extended interview with Ian in the latest issue.

Another legendary figure who helped craft the XR GT into a motoring icon was Harry Firth. Before his passing in 2014, Firth penned his recollections on the XR GT for the ‘Ford and I’ one-shot magazine. We borrow from that story when Harry recalls his demon Bathurst 1967 tweaks and outlines his vivid recollections of how the race panned out.

Elsewhere in this issue we focus on the Aussie assault on Can-Am MkII.

It’s 40 years since Can-Am was reborn for the 1977 racing season. While Can-Am MkII lacked the impact and grandeur of the original, it does hold more significance for Australians. While the original Canadian-American Challenge Cup,1966-1974, was dominated by Kiwis and lightly spiced by Australians, the shoe was on the other foot for the series’ second coming from 1977. Alan Jones, Geoff Brabham and Warwick Brown all starred and we speak to each of them.

For Holden fans, our ‘Torana artefact’ story is a must. It tells of a 1974 Torana SL/R 5000 L34 that Gary Bartlett finally made his own 10 years ago and which continues to slowly reveal the part it played in Holden history.

A second L34 article this issue is set to cause many pub arguments. Armed with some new evidence we have another look at the epic 1976 race – and cast serious doubt on recurrent claims that the second-placed HDT Torana had actually been one lap ahead of the winning Bob Morris/John Fitzpatrick Torana.

Our Muscle Man this issue is Bob Forbes. His time in the touring car privateer ranks as a driver was followed by a long stint as a team owner as the professional era dawned. Part two of our profile also highlights Forbes’ significant role in reshaping the sport.

All the hardcore details about the 1978 Ford Falcon Cobra that you could possibly want to know is in our R-Rated section. No nudity.

Finally, our regular Sacred Sites feature looks back on the original 3.78km Grand Prix layout of the Adelaide Parklands circuit and considers its place in racing history.

Hey, that’s an E49 VJ!

by mcowner

There’s more to this humble-looking VJ Charger than meets the eye. It’s a factory-built beast that was the final Charger to roll off the production line at Tonsley Park powered by the granddaddy of Aussie six engines, the mighty E49.

The last ever E49-engined Charger features loud and proud on AMC #95’s cover and in a 10-page feature inside the mag outlining how this surprise packet came to be. After all, E49 engines were only fitted to VH Charger, right? Not quite. Our in-depth story explains all.

The new issue also spotlights Can-Am – the biggest of Big Banger racing series that had virtually no rules, but lots of Kiwi and Aussie flavour. Born in 1966, in its early years it was racing unlimited. The category culminated a few season later in big block Chevs stretched to over nine-litres to counter 1200bhp Porsches. Can-Am’s 1966-74 era is increasingly viewed as the zenith of motorsport innovation and spectacle.

It’s 50 years since Aussie star Frank Matich’s high-profile assault on the second season of Can-Am, 1967. We piece together what happened when the Match family and crew hit North America, with previously unseen images from the family’s archives.

Frank Matich wasn’t the only Australian driver to race in the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, with Jack Brabham, Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins also having a dig. While Aussies can’t boast the prolific success – or anywhere near the number of Can-Am starts – of their New Zealand counterparts, the quartet who did contest events certainly didn’t lack for dramatic experiences or exotic machinery.

Now about those Kiwis. New Zealand’s success on the world motorsport stage is unparalleled for a nation of its size. And nowhere did NZ perform more strongly than in Can-Am, thanks to the ‘Bruce and Denny Show’ at McLaren. Chris Amon also flew the flag. We speak to a former V8 Supercars team owner about his time with McLaren.

Beyond our twin cover stories there’s plenty of content in AMC #95 to keep both GM and Ford fans happy.

Holden enthusiasts will love our ‘Muscle Man’ profile on Bathurst privateer Bob Forbes, who raced a succession of Toranas through the 1970s and very nearly pulled off a surprise win in the soggy 1974 Hardie-Ferodo 1000. Forbes was also the Kevin Bartlett’s first choice co-driver when KB raced the Nine Sports Camaro. Bob recalls his runs in the big, brakeless midnight blue-coloured Chev in the 1979, 1980 and 1981 Great Races.

For Ford fans there’s our history lesson on Tickford’s first coming in Australia and coverage of the recent GT Nationals in Perth.

For fans of both marques, we recall the ‘Mr Holden’ versus ‘Mr Ford’ drag racing events over the quarter mile at Castlereagh.

Calder Park is the focus of our popular Sacred Sites section. “Two sq-sq-squirts and a w-w-w-wiggle” was how five-time Australian touring car champion Pete Geoghegan described the simple layout of the original circuit.

Meanwhile, we preview an event that will finally see John Harvey receive a plaque for finishing runner-up in the 1976 Hardie-Ferodo 1000. All this and a whole lot more in issue #95 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

Eureka moment!

by mcowner

Eureka moment!

AMC #94 has dug-up the glittering life story of a ‘Nugget Gold’ Falcon GT-HO Phase III. This car, a stunning example of the granddaddy of Aussie muscle cars, has long been considered precious metal. But a speck of info unearthed last year led to an eureka moment: it was built to be John Goss’s 1971 Bathurst ride, but never climbed the Mountain. The latest AMC issue explains why.

The 1971 XY Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III displayed here is well known to those characters who’ve hovered around the Falcon GT scene for decades. It’s a stunningly presented and impeccably credentialed example of a Phase III. So much so, this matching numbers car has won countless awards over the decades. Yet for every awards judge who crawled over the car and every enthusiast who lusted over it, none knew the finer details of its early history. That’s because the story of its first private owner and how he came to take possession had been lost in the sands of time. Until now.

Or more correctly, until the current owner Billy Karantonis bought the car in early 2016. Karantonis had no idea at the time of purchase that a fascinating and previously untold back story would soon emerge.

He did know that he was buying a well-respected and much sought-after Phase III enjoyed by several prominent members of the GT fraternity and a car that came with its original logbook. But it wasn’t until a mate of his, fellow GT tragic Bob Sahota, picked up on the name of its first owner from that logbook and made a connection that previous owners had overlooked, that the slow reveal of info took a most enlightening turn. Sahota recognised the name of the first owner from an article he’d read in issue #30 of Australian Muscle Car magazine and set to work tracking him down.

That first owner, Noel Ward, had vivid recollections of taking delivery of the GT-HO in mid 1971 from Sydney dealer McLeod Ford. He only received the car from Goss as the rising star didn’t want to race this machine to Bathurst. Find out why in issue #94.

Beyond our ‘Eureka!’ cover story we also feature Peter Brock’s least successful, seemingly bedeviled Commodore. This was the one Commodore that he took to Bathurst in the Group C era that rarely gets mentioned, seemingly overlooked and forgotten by history, likely due to its lack of a Bathurst win. Maybe it’s the fact it’s one of very few Brock Bathurst racecars that no longer exists that has consigned this third-built HDT Commodore racecar to being absent from the lists of all-time classic Brock muscle. It’s the ‘Devil Commodore’ that, had it achieved the ultimate success at Mount Panorama in 1981, would have linked together two separate Brock streaks of three wins in a row in the race and given The King a whopping seven straight wins in the Mountain classic. Find out its fate in the latest issue.

Our Muscle Man this issue is Gary Scott, who overcame an indescribably tragic event as a teenager that would have turned a lesser man off motorsport forever. We caught up with the rapid and outspoken Queenslander to hear his remarkable story.

You never know what gems will turn up at Australia’s premier Historic racing event until you get there. AMC had its cameras poised and ready to capture the machines that ventured out on track for our four-page report.

Last issue we listed the best and most significant Sports Sedans of all time. This time we present the weirdest and most wonderful (and even the not-so wonderful), what could be termed the top 25 ‘most different’ Sports Sedans.

Rally cars don’t come more muscular than the Mercedes Benz 500 SLC that ran in the World Rally Championship almost 40 years ago. Now one Aussie enthusiast has built himself a replica to contest increasingly popular classic rallies.

All that and whole lot more in the new issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

Pocket rockets!

by mcowner

Pocket rockets!

The latest issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine examines the controversial topic of ‘Bathurst XU-1’ specials.

Peter Brock’s win in the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 immortalised the XU-1, yet it’s the ‘1973 Bathurst XU-1s’ that are the fastest and most revered road versions of Holden’s hot six. AMC #93 puts the spotlight on these often misunderstood cars to explain all. With the help of surviving HDT personnel, XU-1 owners, Holden experts and our pristine, unmolested and matching numbers feature car, AMC puts the facts down on paper about the ultimate ‘Amendment 9/2E’ machines of 1973.

We explode myths and attempt to set the record straight on these highly sought-after XU-1 roadcars. While very few of these have come up for sale in recent years, they have traditionally changed hands for figures as much as 50 percent greater than earlier LJ XU-1 models of comparable condition.

Continual changes were made to the LJ XU-1 over the two years it was Holden’s high-performance model, many of them to homologate parts for the racecars under both Series Production and, from the start of 1973, Group C production touring car rules. These upgrades came at the request of HDT chief Harry Firth, who worked with Holden’s engine department and management to get them on the road and, therefore, on the track.

Of course, such upgrades have become the stuff of myth, legends and endless scuttlebutt in pubs, at car club meets and, more recently, on social media. Claims, counterclaims and conflicting evidence are all par for the course. Good luck finding period magazine test reports on these cars given that Holden was still publicity shy in the wake of the Supercar Scare of June 1972 – an episode that directly contributed to the very existence of these cars.

As the men who created them age or pass on, digging up the truth becomes increasingly difficult. Nonetheless, there’s enough of the key players still around and available documentation to paint an accurate picture of the batch of 150 cars produced in the third quarter of 1973 that very nearly gave Holden a second consecutive giant-killing victory on the Mountain.

Outside of our cover story, the new issue also outlines how the original model BMW M3 beat its V8 and turbo opponents to claim the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship. Our story celebrates the 30th anniversary of this feat by visiting Jim Richards’ workshop and chatting to the racing great about his time in the pocket rockets.

Richo is such a fan of the M3 racecars, he now owns one of the chassis he used during that 1987 ATCC campaign. Naturally, that’s our feature car.

For Ford fans, we’ve tracked down the XT Falcon GT that won the 1969 Surfers 12 Hour. The XT GT is famous for failing at Bathurst in ’68, but the XT Falcon GT model did go on to win the (much longer) Surfers Paradise 12 Hour race in early ’69. Incredibly, the actual winning car from that enduro survives, as you will see when you pick up your copy of issue #93. All that and much more in the latest issue.

Back from the dead

by mcowner


Back from the dead! If there’s one famous racecar motorsport fans have yearned to see returned to a racetrack it’s the groundbreaking McCormack Charger. AMC #92 outlines the herculean restoration effort for this and another of Mac’s Sports Sedans, the Repco V8-powered Celica.

The restoration of the Celica and Charger means the ‘Super Mac’ collection of Sports Sedans is now complete, as McCormack’s Unipart Jaguar XJS has been well-preserved throughout its 36-year life.

“There are so few surviving frontrunning Sports Sedans from that era, much less meticulously restored examples,” John McCormack told AMC magazine for our feature stories. “That all three of the cars I was responsible for have survived is remarkable. To have all three of the cars together in the one place for the first time was really something.”

That ‘place’ was Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek for the recent Muscle Car Masters, where we shot the three Sports Sedans for our stories in issue #92.

“I suppose we’re fortunate that the right people have the three cars – Mark [Trenoweth] and Bruce [Gowans]. They are such enthusiasts. By ‘they’ I mean Mark, Bruce and all of those who put so much time to get them here.”

As to the Celica, it received a painstaking, ground-up restoration by its original owner which has returned this sweet-sounding Repco V8-powered Sports Sedan – a more compact version of its creator’s famed Charger – to the racetrack.

Beyond our cover stories, issue #92 also celebrates the Brock VL Group A’s 30th birthday. AMC presents 30 reasons to love this most, erm, polarizing of homologation models.

This issue also profiles the greatest Aussie racing export you’ve probably never heard of. Brian Muir is. It’s amazing what ‘Yogi’ achieved and drove.

Elsewhere in the magazine we outline the latest news, including the closure of Holden’s engine plant, how muscle car auction prices are up, the crowning of the new TCM champ and a Pontiac GTO racing in the USA that salutes the 2016 Bathurst-winning Commodore.

And wait till you see the aerial photography taken above Nambucca Heads RSL Club’s carpark. Plus Shane Jacobsen goes on the Aussie Muscle Car Run.

Finally, we farewell racing legend Fred Gibson who has filed his last ‘Right Said Fred’ after three years as AMC’s esteemed columnist.

’66 Clickety-click

by mcowner

Asset image for blog AMC 91 1 smallerAMC #91 rewinds 50 years back to 1966 and the dawn of the Muscle Car era as the previously conservative Big Three manufacturers – Ford, Holden and Chrysler – geared up for a colourful period of performance motoring.

1966 saw the introduction of decimal currency, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and American influence on our motoring scene.

We check out the Big Three’s performance offerings in ’66: Ford’s newly introduced V8-powered XR Falcon; Holden’s HR X2 and Chryslers VC V8.

1966 was also the year the mighty Mini Cooper S triumphed at Bathurst. We chat to the winner of that race, Bob Holden, who tells us how he and Finnish flyer Rauno Altonen went from being the third-string BMC combo to the local factory team’s spearheads. Bob opens up on the demon tweaks he made to the #13C Cooper S in the week leading up to the big race.

Speaking of Minis, AMC #91 puts the spotlight on the Aussie-built Cooper S model. Few car enthusiasts know that the long list of cars built in Australia includes the 1966 Bathurst-winning Morris Cooper S model. The Aussie-produced Cooper S – which was far more than a local assembly job – was made within a well-hit cover drive of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Motor racing was changing rapidly in 1966 with a series of firsts and lasts – and unprecedented success for those from the antipodes. AMC presents six images from season ’66 that sum up racing in the period.

Beyond our 1966 content, we tell the story of a pioneering A9X Torana. Just when you thought all of the Group C Torana racecars were either lost forever or already found, another one has emerged – Warren Cullen’s rare four-door A9X from 1977.

All that and much more in the latest issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

Lowndes, Murph & HRT 033

by Luke

9609_SD500_GT-1082 smallerAMC spotlights the 1996 Bathurst 1000 – when Aussie touring car racing changed forever. Craig Lowndes and Greg Murphy were elevated to superstar status, ushering in a new generation of driver. Issue #90 tracks the life story of the car they drove, HRT 033, and its place in racing history.

To say that one single car made a driver’s career or its creation can be pinpointed as the key pillar upon which a team’s ascension to the throne as ‘V8 Kings’ was built is most certainly a big call. But when Lowndes and Murphy both agree that the Holden Racing Team’s ‘Supercar’ VR Commodore built in 1996 fits the bill for both of those assertions, it’s bloody difficult to argue the point.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the duo claiming the endurance double at Sandown and Bathurst. It’s also the 20th anniversary of a breakthrough blue ribbon season for HRT where it also claimed the Australian Touring Car Championship for the first time, with Lowndes, as well as the end-of-year Mobil Series in New Zealand with Murphy.

At the core of it all was HRT’s Chassis 033, commonly known as ‘Gabrielle’; a car that gave the previously troubled Melbourne-based team its mojo.

It created headlines, pushed the envelopes of technology of the time and won its fair share of races – not bad for a VR Commodore body shell that began its life on the Holden production line at Port Elizabeth in South Australia.

It may not be a Torana XU-1, Falcon Phase III, or even a Group C Commodore or Ford – the types of cars that live firmly in the hearts and minds of Bathurst tragics as absolute pieces of classic muscle car history – but there’s no doubt this Bathurst conqueror is a piece of modern Australian motorsport, and indeed, modern muscle car, history.

“That car is definitely the car that made me and it made the Holden Racing Team,” Lowndes tells AMC. “I’m really blessed to have been a part of that era. It carved a path for the team and me.

“If I could have any of my old cars in my garage, that car is definitely one of them.”

His partner in crime from ’96 fully concurs.

“I think that car really made HRT,” says Kiwi Murphy, who made his last Bathurst 1000 start as recently as 2014.

“Effectively before that they (HRT) were on the ropes at the end of 1995. After Bathurst I remember there being a fair bit of angst and concern over the whole continuation of the operation and money from Holden. It was a terrible result with both cars not finishing either enduro; it wasn’t good.

“1996 was key. The fact Craig was so strong and won the championship and then we went and did the Sandown and Bathurst double, you could almost feel the relief with it all and it cemented HRT into being the powerhouse that we all knew it was for so long.”

Nicknamed ‘Gabrielle’ by HRT new car build chief of the time Tony Frederiksen, the ‘033’ chassis only ever made one trip to Bathurst in its racing career. But it can lay claim to a 100 percent Bathurst winning record, the sort of stuff other race cars can only dream about.

It provided a couple of young guns with the opportunity of a lifetime and they grasped with both hands. Pairing two young bucks together today is nothing out of the ordinary, but 20 years ago many pundits believed the factory Holden outfit was crazy for doing so. The gambled not only paid off, it changed the face of local touring car racing forever as other teams soon adopted a youth policy as the owner/driver era wound down.

HRT’s stellar 1996 season also laid the foundation for the team’s domination of the rebranded V8 Supercar series, winning six titles in seven years and six Bathurst 1000s between 1996 and 2011.

Beyond AMC #90’s cover story, what better way to mark October 7’s passing of Ford’s Aussie manufacturing than to highlight some great servants and unsung heroes of Ford’s recent history.

Meantime, it’s 30 years since the most-capped combination in Bathurst history appeared on the touring car scene. AMC catches up with Trevor Ashby and Steve Reed.

Our other big feature focuses on the many obstacles Wayne Draper faced in bringing his automotive dreams to reality and how a small band of enthusiasts are ensuring his muscle car legacy lives on.



Peter Brock: the untold stories

by Luke

Rear_FlatAMC marks the 10th anniversary of Peter Brock’s passing with our ‘Brock: The Untold Stories’ issue. We put the spotlight on Brock’s virtually unknown VH Group 3 High-Output Commodore; investigate the disappearance of his 1975 Bathurst-winning Torana; meet his first apprentice; and review his greatest overseas drive.

The first of these is a story on the hottest version of the most overlooked Brock Commodore, the VH Group 3. As the owner of almost half of the known surviving High Output-optioned versions of the VH Group 3 told us, “It’s the most powerful of the Brocks. Just like the GT-HO Phase III is the king of Ford muscle cars, the High-Output is the king of the Brocks,” says feature car owner Rob Losurdo.

Then there’s PB’s 1975 Hardie-Ferodo 500-winning Torana SL/R 5000 L34 that’s long since ‘gone to God’ and fallen off the radar. The fact this chassis was destroyed in the late 1970s has contributed to a lack of attention for its achievements. Understandably so, we guess, as it’s the surviving Bathurst-winning Brockmobiles, such as the A9Xs, that are focal points for on-track celebrations and media coverage. This exposure then perpetuates their fame and mystique.

In short, Bathurst ’75 is Brock’s forgotten Bathurst victory. No surviving car; no #05 on the door; no glamour HDT assault.

And, until now, no images in circulation showing what became of the car. In an exclusive, AMC publishes photos of the ’75 winner when it was turned into a black road car and subsequently written-off. For the first time we tell the complete life story of the first V8 Torana to win Bathurst.

Meanwhile, there’s our story on Brock’s first foray to the Spa 24 Hour race, which generated about 0.1 percent of the attention of his mid 1980s adventures to Europe’s tin-top classic. Yet his first, in 1977, was the most successful.

Beyond Brock we feature the only automatic R/T Charger ever built and track its life and recent restoration. Plus we review how Phillip Island was saved from near certain death. Ford fans will enjoy our story on the first XE Falcon to hit the touring car trail – the maroon machine of Brian Callaghan.

All that and much more in the latest issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine. On sale now.