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Australian Muscle Car Magazine

Rewind to Bathurst ’79

by mcowner

There’s never been a Bathurst classic anything like the ’79 Great Race – and that’s why Australian Muscle Car magazine has dedicated 50 pages of its latest issue to that year’s Hardie-Ferodo 1000. Over 90 percent of the 100+ images that colour these pages have never previously been published.

The Holden Dealer Team’s decimation of the field is unprecedented in the Bathurst 1000’s long history. The Peter Brock and Jim Richards-driven #05 Torana A9X won the race by an astounding six laps. Six!

To put that winning margin into perspective, no other winning car has put more than two laps on the field in the 60-year history of the annual Mount Panorama endurance race.

So the 1979 Hardie-Ferodo is truly an aberration of Bathurst history. The September/October 2019 edition of AMC puts the spotlight on that particular race 40 years on and it makes for a fascinating exercise. There are firsts, lasts, oddball entries, a stellar cast of internationals, giant-killers, new technological developments… and the truly limp-wristed efforts of the various Ford teams in that year’s race. Oh, and it’s not every year you have the son of a feisty female British Prime Minister in the field!

AMC begins its celebratory coverage of the 1979 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 with the extended recollections of key members of the victorious HDT – the team manager, the co-driver, the engine builder and wide-eyed new recruit. All have great tales to tell via the colourful recollections and insights.

But it’s not just the winners that we celebrate in issue #111 of AMC. We also present the story of that year’s giant-killing privateer performers, who were recently reunited with the newly-restored Torana that took them to a surprise podium finish. Not many racing reunions are 40 years in the making, but then very few privateer efforts jagged results as juicy as Ralph Radburn and John Smith’s third place.

We also detail Garry Rogers’ first big result on the mountain – as a driver. And examine why the Ford attack was so pathetic. If you think that sounds harsh wait till you read the story of Ford’s worst ever year on the Mountain.

Beyond our Bathurst ’79 anniversary coverage, we present a more positive Falcon story, one of a V8 Ford that has endured. This car is one of the three works Falcon XT GTs that finished top 10 in the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon. It’s been out of public view for so long that most Ford and rally enthusiasts assumed it no longer existed – so it created quite a stir when it unexpectedly surfaced at the Falcon GT Nationals in Adelaide earlier this year.

No Muscle Man profile this issue. Instead, we feature a Muscle Woman. Sue Ransom is Australian motorsport’s most versatile female driver ever – and she might just be our most versatile full stop. In a career that began in rallying, Ransom transitioned to tarmac and made five Great Race starts before embarking on a career as a professional Top Fuel and Jet Funny Car driver in the United States. In between she worked as a motoring journalist and in public relations at Ford, Mazda and marketing manager at CAMS – and she also played an instrumental role in the creation of the icon ABC TV motoring programme, Torque.

All that and a whole lot more in issue #111 of Australian Muscle Car magazine, on sale from September 5 to October 23.

Disrupter! Allan Moffat’s Mazda era

by mcowner

For more than a decade, Allan Moffat was Ford’s racing hero, but all that changed in the early 1980s. Having been abandoned by Ford, he abandoned them, handing the Blue Oval mantel to Dick Johnson. Worse than that, he sided with Japanese carmaker Mazda to race an RX7.

Now, Australian Muscle Car magazine gives readers the most requested story of the last few years: an examination of Moffat’s RX7 era.

Moffat and controversy were always familiar bedfellows. But the Mazda RX7 ramped it up to another level, confirming Moffat as Australia’s ultimate motor racing anti-hero in the early 1980s. Not since his meteoric arrival with the Trans-Am Mustang in 1969 had the expatriate Canadian worn the metaphorical black hat so comfortably from the moment he declared his intention to race the Japanese sports, er, touring car.

The latest ‘Disruptor’ issue covers this tumultuous period over no less than 22 pages. In modern parlance a disruptor, according to our dictionary, is “Something that drastically alters or destroys the structure of something.” What better word to describe the man and his little Japanese cars!

In the end, the giant-killing RX7 almost killed Moffat himself, both metaphorically and physically. A huge accident at Surfers Paradise in 1984 left the four-time touring car champion battered and bruised in every sense. And then it was all over. CAMS adopted international Group A for 1985, Mazda and Peter Stuyvesant walked away from racing, and Allan Moffat was once again (at least until old rival Peter Brock came knocking) an unemployed racing driver.

Moffat himself, who sadly now has little memory of his glorious racing past, summed up the RX7 experience the article’s author David Hassall in a 1985 interview: “The fact that it took two years to homologate is Australian motorsport’s loss, as well as mine. I think you would agree that the Mazda RX7 did nothing but improve Australian touring car racing. It gave privateers an opportunity to compete at a financial level that wasn’t horrific. In the Ford days, 95 percent of everyone’s creative effort was spent on the engine and five percent on the car. The ratio with the Mazda was exactly the opposite. The only time we spent on the engine was how long it took to undo the box it came in…”

Our story also outlines what became of the chassis he raced between 1981 and early 1985.

Beyond our Disruptor story, the latest AMC examines another great civil war on the racetrack: the 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. There may not have been much Ford opposition but it was still one of the most hotly contested ATCC title fights ever. It was a fiercely fought and sometimes bitter civil war between two Holden camps: Peter Brock and the factory Holden Dealer Team vs Bob Morris and the Ron Hodgson Motors squad. The respective team bosses, John Sheppard and Peter Molloy share their recollections.

Meantime, the dream of driving around Australia is something that for most of us will remain always that: a dream, an unfulfilled item on the bucket list. That’s not the case, however, for a small group of Ford enthusiasts, who earlier this year took on the challenge of circumnavigating this wide brown land in a pair of Falcon XY GT-HO Phase IIIs.

Our ever-popular Muscle Man feature this issue profiles a Geoff Brabham. He carries the biggest Aussie name in world motorsport, but Geoff wasn’t content to be just a famous son. He carved out a remarkable international career over two decades – in Can-Am, Indycars, IMSA sports cars, Le Mans and even stock cars – then returned home to score more wins, including a controversial one at Bathurst.

All that and a whole lot more in issue #110 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

The first all-Aussie Monaro

by mcowner

The HT Monaro GTS celebrates its golden anniversary in 2019. To celebrate, the latest issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine presents 50 reasons to love these classic ‘Marilyns’.

What’s more, the 253ci-powered version of the GTS Monaro launched in ’69 was the first all-Aussie Monaro. The V8 versions of the HT’s predecessor, the HK, were powered by Chevrolet’s small block V8s, whereas the HT 253s were built at Fishermans Bend.

The cover of issue #109 is adorned by a green and gold example of a GTS 253. What could be more Aussie than an early Monaro with an Aussie engine painted in our national sporting colours?

Those same colours in form of stripes were drapped over the GTS 350 that Colin Bond drove to victory at Bathurst in ’69.

‘Bathurst Bond’ was the name they were calling ‘CB’ after his and Tony Roberts’ victory in the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 in their Holden Dealer Team Monaro HT GTS 350. In our latest issue Bond reflects on the whirlwind of success that he enjoyed upon becoming a factory driver for Holden that year. The ever-popular and cheerful driver also shares with AMC readers some Monaro pics from his own collection – including wedding day shots with new bride Robyn in a brand new roadgoing Monaro.

Our latest issue, #109, has over 30 pages of HT Monaro tales and content.

Beyond Monaros, our brand new issue has plenty of interest for students of motor racing history. In the second installment of our two-part Muscle Man feature, Ron Gillard talks us through some of the many racecars he built, prepared, and sometimes even got to race, through the 1970s and ’80s – including the V8 Commodores and the later VL Turbo six model in production car racing, and the pivotal behind-the-scenes roles he played in the one-make Triumph TR7 and Ford Laser Series.

For Ford fans, we present a classic Bathurst tale of a lone 351 V8 Falcon XY in a field mostly comprised of six-cylinder Toranas and Chargers. This sounded like a potential class D-winning proposition in the 1971 Bathurst 500 to Gerry Lister and David Seldon. It was a good plan, but sadly that year the pair just didn’t get the right breaks –or the right brakes.

Meanwhile, this year it was South Australia’s turn to host the Falcon GT Nationals – and over the ’19 Easter weekend the Crow Eaters turned on an impressive show featuring more than 250 Fords spanning the entire history of the Falcon GT. Full coverage in issue #109.

Our Sacred Sites section pays homage to a series of small regional tracks. Terry Walker in his book Fast Tracks: Australia’s Motor Racing Circuits 1904-1995 used some colourful phraseology to sum up the proliferation of small country racing circuits in north-eastern Victoria in the 1950s and ’60s. He wrote of such tracks being sprinkled through the region “like currants in a bun!” We pick the currants from that bun for you to digest!

All that and a whole lot more in AMC magazine. On sale now.

Unlocking GT-HO secrets

by mcowner

It’s 50 years since the first Falcon GT-HO model hit Aussie roads and racetracks. To celebrate this golden anniversary, issue 108 of Australian Muscle Car magazine presents the story of an early XW ‘Phase 1’ that played an important part in the development of the factory racing HOs. While its provenance is unquestionable, the car’s owner enlisted AMC’s help in learning more about its early history.

You’re going to have to get yourself a copy of issue 108 – on sale April 4, 2019 – to get the full story on this amazing car, but here’s a teaser…

 

 

It is a 1969-build GT-HO Falcon, what retrospectively is called a Phase I. But more than that, it’s a car that’s reportedly a graduate of the Ford Special Vehicles program, based at Lot 6 Mahoneys Road, and the very car Ford gave to Repco to develop the Falcons’ dual-plate clutch. It’s a car that has never been raced, and had just road use and 70,000 miles under its belt when found.

“When I first saw it, it had a drop-sheet over it and stuff stacked on top,” relates owner and restorer Grant about his early noughties find. “You couldn’t even see the car until you pulled it all off. I couldn’t believe that here was this GT-HO being used as a storage shelf.

“I’d looked around at a few GTs and HOs before but nothing really grabbed me, but when I heard the back story to this car I knew this was a special piece of Ford motoring history in Australia.”

Over the ensuing 15 years Grant has discovered a great deal about what made it special, but a few questions about its early history remained. He first contacted the magazine in late 2017 to discuss the possibility of an AMC story. We instantly knew we had an appropriate cover car for our 50th anniversary GT-HO celebratory issue – this very edition – if he was prepared to wait 18 months. He was.

 

Unlocking GT-HO secrets

 

It’s actually a car that AMC briefly mentioned in issue #44 from 2009, when marking the GT-HO’s 40th anniversary via an in-depth technical examination of the first XW HO and the Al Turner-led in-house factory Ford race team’s earliest activities. That story included a list of the ‘works’ cars from 1969. The list ran to five Brambles Red vehicles, two listed as GT prototype/racecars, two dedicated racecars and a Repco development car. Few further details were provided about the latter.

We are pleased we can now tell you more about that Repco machine! And help Grant fill in some more gaps about its history. Like all good tales, there remains an element of mystery about one or two aspects of its life – including the engine that has powered this beast since 1969 – as we explain in issue 108.

Beyond our cover car, we present stories on some intriguing characters.

Some said pairing the pragmatic Larry Perkins with flamboyant Peter Janson at Bathurst would be a disaster. They were wrong. AMC chatted to these two very different characters about their remarkably successful privateer partnership. They are not exactly two peas in a pod. One was an entrepreneurial Melbourne socialite, who was prominent at equestrian events one weekend, before enjoying the many delights of motorsport the next. The other was a no-nonsense, engineering-focused bloke usually absorbed in solving all manner of mechanical problems.

Janson was English-born and lived a showy lifestyle supported by an occupation he described as being ‘a gentleman’. Perkins, in contrast, grew up on a farm in Cowangie in the Mallee region of Victoria, and had doggedly forged a career in motorsport that took him all the way to Formula 1.

Yet, despite being motor racing’s odd couple, at least from the outside, their partnership produced a trio of Bathurst 1000 podiums in just four Mountain campaigns together for Janson’s part-time team.

Meantime, we’ve featured some good storytellers in the Muscle Man section over the years and Ron Gillard rates among the very best of them. Gillard is known today as one of the Great Race’s finest privateer preparers and team managers, but this issue, in the first of a two-part profile, he talks us through his own driving career.

 

For Chevy fans, we’ve got good news. Frank Gardner’s ’67 Camaro Z28 racecar has recently resurfaced in the UK, meticulously restored to its former glory. The big Chev boasts a racing history that spans no less than three continents, with strong connections to Australia. Its story is also told in the pages of AMC 108.

All that and a whole lot more in the nation’s favourite retro motoring magazine.

Bathurst A9X found

by mcowner

It’s 40 years since A9X Toranas crushed the field at Bathurst, finishing first through eighth. Now, one of those A9Xs has resurfaced. The latest AMC opens the shed door and blows away decades of dust to present the story of a racing relic once campaigned by a pair of perennial privateers and larrikin mates.

Next time you pass one of those ubiquitous self-storage facilities, with their rows of identical and nondescript roller-doors, ponder what vehicular treasure might lie within. Dilapidated sheds and garages in rural settings might be more readily connected with dream car finds, yet here’s proof these distinctly unromantic high-security suburban storage units are now more likely to house wonderful automotive finds.

As we learnt when invited along to document the retrieval and pick-up of an A9X Torana that changed hands for the first time in 37 years, self-storage centres are the new ‘barns’. For here was an A9X hatchback that had been gathering dust unmoved in the same industrial ‘box’ in Sydney’s west for over 15 years.

And not just any A9X Torana. This one played a significant part in the revered nameplate’s most famous moment – the aforementioned routing of Bathurst 1979. 2019 represents the 40th anniversary of Brock’s six-lap victory of September 30’s Hardie-Ferodo 1000, a day Ford fans would rather forget. So it’s appropriate one of hatches that provided backup to the factory-supported Holden Dealer Team has popped back up after several decades in hibernation. The car has not been started in a decade, or driven for 30 years, yet still packs its race engine.

It’s also a machine that epitomises what the Bathurst race was all about in the Group C era, privateer and dealer-entered teams scoring impressive results when the bigger budget pretenders fell by the wayside.

Adding a further glow to this find is that it’s the Torana in which two mates, who loved a drink and raced purely for the fun of it, scored their best result in the Great Race. Issue #107 overviews both its track history and how it ended up in hibernation soon after it was taken off the track.

Pick up the ‘Awoken’ issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine to learn more about this campaign, the drivers and the hatchback’s life since retiring from racing.

It was an extraordinary first day back in the sun, literally, for our feature car and AMC was privileged to tag along and check out this time machine.

Issue #107 also profiles former HRT team manager Jeff Grech, names the top 25 Falcon touring cars and tells the story of the Gulson brothers Phase III. Another Bathurst racecar fitted with a towbar!

The reintroduction of the Chevrolet brand into the Australian market place via HSV’s ‘remanufactured’ Camaro is a timely reminder that General Motors’ bowtie brand once had a significant presence in this country. For issue #107 AMC has enlisted the help of a local marque expert to background the post war GM-H-assembled right-hand drive Chevrolets and Pontiacs.

All that and a whole lot more in the latest issue of AMC.

Camaros in Australia

by mcowner

Issue #106 of AMC magazine celebrates the latest Chevrolet Camaro’s launch locally by highlighting the first generation cars sold by GM-H dealers. Half a century before HSV launched its ‘remanufactured’ right-hand drive Camaro, a small number of Holden dealers imported, converted and sold General Motors’ original ponycar. The new issue tells the story of these largely unknown cars in our ‘History Repeats’ issue via a surviving first-gen Camaro – a white machine Patterson Motors sold new and which, incredibly, is still in the hands of its first owner.

“The Americans know it as ‘The Hugger’.” That was how Bill Patterson Motors introduced the Chev Camaro to potential buyers in its print advert in 1967. The sporty new American coupe wasn’t a part of GM-H’s model range (of course, Holden at that time was gearing up for the release of a V8-powered sporty coupe of its own, in the HK Monaro), but if you hankered for a ‘Hugger’, you could get one from a handful of Holden dealers such as Bill Patterson – and, remarkably, only a matter of months after the Camaro first went on sale in the USA.

The owner of our white feature car saw Pattersons’ advertisements in a 1967 magazine article where an example was tested and promptly visited the Melbourne dealership and ordered his car. Four months later he picked it up – and has owned it ever since.

But GM-H dealers weren’t the only Aussie businesses converting Camaros and other American cars from LHD to RHD in the 1960s. Among those others who got a piece of the conversion action was a prominent pair of racing identities based in Sydney’s wealthy beachside locales, albeit on opposite sides of the city and doing their own thing.

One of the bigger converters in Sydney was Bill Buckle. He had the requisite expertise and business acumen to undertake such work – even though he found himself in the conversion business as much by accident as design.

“I bought myself a Corvette Stingray, a new car, and did the conversion myself at home,” Buckle, now in his early nineties, explained to AMC for this story. “It took about a week. It was a relatively easy conversion. There were much harder ones after that!”

The conversion business just flowed on from there. A right-hand drive Corvette Stingray wouldn’t have been easy to miss in Sydney in the early ’60s; almost as soon as it was on the road Buckle started getting enquiries from people who’d seen it and wanted a right-hook Corvette of their own.

“Then the message just got around, I guess. It just never stopped from there.”

Bill Buckle Auto Conversions in Brookvale on Sydney’s northern beaches opened for business in 1963. Under Buckle’s astute direction, it quickly developed into a busy and lucrative operation.

At its peak, Bill Buckle Auto Conversions was completing up to four conversions a week, with a staff of around a dozen.

Meanwhile on Sydney’s south side, at Taren Point in the Sutherland Shire, Ray Morris was also doing a roaring trade in right-hand drive conversions. Ray, father or future Bathurst winner and Australian Touring Car Champion Bob Morris, was an old friend of Buckle’s from way back. They didn’t see themselves in serious competition with one another, but then demand for converted American cars was so strong that there was more than enough work around to keep all the Sydney conversion businesses rolling along nicely.

Our Camaros in Australia issue is an opportune time to look back at some of the more legendary Camaros to have graced our tracks over the years. Thus, issue #106 names the Top 10 Camaros in Australian motorsport over the last five decades. Our top choice is examined in more detail, as there is no more revered Chevrolet Camaro in Australia than Bob Jane’s awesome 1969 427ci ZL-1. AMC outlines why this ballistic bowtie beast is the most legendary of all Camaros down under.

While our new issue is heavily themed around Camaros, there is plenty of other content. This edition’s Muscle Man profile is Peter Brock’s 1975 Bathurst winning co-driver Brian Sampson. The Melbournian combined successful business and motor racing lives for an extraordinary 60 years. Sampson has racked up countless other victories in a career he wants to resume, at age 83.

Then there’s a feature on Brad Jones’ Cooper Tools Commodore VL that will soon be a museum piece. This car played a important part in both BJR’s and the Thunderdome’s racing history.

For Ford fans, we delve into the history of a roaring Group C ‘Fordie’ whose racing life was largely spent as a fill-in or stop-gap measure for a succession of greats. It’s a Falcon hardtop with a unique story that’s flavoured by a recurring theme.

We can’t say the Falcon hardtop now presented as the #32 Bryan Byrt Falcon XC in Heritage Touring Cars had a particularly successful racing career. In fact, it proved to be something of a flop in the late 1970s.

Yet, don’t hold that against it. Because when we sat down and rummaged through the period magazines, old videos and history files, it soon became apparent that this car has quite the tale to tell.

It’s a coupe that passed through the hands of several race teams, often used as a short-term option or substitute; a car called off the bench when a race team’s main weapon was indisposed.

All that and a whole lot more in issue #106 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

The Goss on JG’s prototype

by mcowner

In issue #105 of Australian Muscle Car magazine dual Bathurst winner John Goss takes us inside his newly-built 1975 Bathurst Group C prototype Falcon – a car that caused quite a stir when it broke cover earlier this year.

The XB Falcon hardtop had Ford and motorsport fans wondering just ‘what on earth’ the blue and white beast was all about. Was it a surviving road car from the era worked over or a newly-restored period racecar? Or something else?

The Goss on JG’s prototype

Members of AMC magazine’s own staff were among those left scratching their heads as to the Goss Special’s role and purpose. Our long list of questions only grew as the car made public appearances during the year. So we put the call in to the man affectionately known as ‘JG’ to find out more.

Once we pinned Goss down and he gave us a personal tour of the car, we learnt that there was quite a story behind its creation and composition. Sorry, but you’re going to have pick up a copy of issue 105 to discover its purpose, as JG gives readers a full briefing on the car’s makeup.

The Goss on JG’s prototype 2

Beyond our cover car, we put the spotlight on HSV’s much anticipated Chev Camaro. Bruce Newton sampled the ‘remanufactured’ right-hand drive Camaro at the American muscle coupe’s official Australian launch and reckons the wait has been worth it.

We also chronicle the career of one of Australia’s greatest race mechanic/engineers, John Sheppard, whose many racing achievements include the 1978 and ’79 HDT Peter Brock Bathurst wins. Sheppard also prepared cars for the late Bob Jane, whom we pay tribute to in the same issue after his recent passing.

Meantime, with Holden ending development of its six-cylinder twin-turbo Supercars engine, fans won’t get to see a ‘six’ contest our top-level touring car series for the foreseeable future. While many fans welcome the retention of the V8, there are those who lament the fact the General won’t be unleashing its new V6 on our racetracks as original planned. For these are people with long memories, who fondly recall when the first six-cylinder powered Holdens went racing. We review its history in our ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ feature.

All that and a whole lot more in issue #105 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

Holden’s unsung Bathurst heroes

by mcowner

Holden’s unsung Bathurst heroes and hero cars is the theme of the latest issue of Australian Muscle Car magazine. The new edition, issue 104, presents five Holden stories covering the years 1963, ’68, ’73, ’78 and ’83. The quintet of stories has one common theme: cars, drivers or events that have been largely overshadowed or overlooked over the years.

It’s exactly half a century ago since a Holden won the Great Race for the very first time. No one back then could have known that it was just the start of a long and gloriously successful era in touring car racing for the General. But it didn’t start as expected, with a successful debut for factory team cars. Rather, that first Bathurst victory went to a privateer Holden Monaro driver. Bruce McPhee’s achievements at Bathurst in ’68 do tend to get overlooked a little these days, which is a pity as it was a cunningly executed victory by a chap of which little is known by most people who worship the ground other Bathurst Holden winners walk on.

blog image1 issue #104

There’s so much more to McPhee’s story and victory than what’s been previously told. With the help of Bruce’s daughter Anne and race mechanic Mark Levenspiel – and previously unseen photographs – we shed new light on the McPhee team’s landmark 1968 Bathurst win and the man himself.

Holden’s Bathurst history didn’t start with McPhee in ’68. It kicked off five years earlier, in the very first Bathurst 500. While one of the new EH models finished a solid second that year, further back and almost unnoticed, the oldest Holden ever to start the Great Race at Bathurst made it to the finish against rival teams’ expectations. It’s somewhat poetic that the ‘galah performance’ of this pioneering pink-and-grey FB model Holden in the ’63 Armstrong 500 started the marque’s colourful history. It’s a story that’s never been told – until now.

This unlikely racecar gave a pair of racing mad lads a boy’s own adventure. Fifty-five years on, we’ve tracked down drivers Lex Brailley and Phil McCumisky who tell their story to AMC.

Then there’s the story of the Monaro nameplate’s unexpected return to Bathurst, in the hands of Ron Dickson, in 1973. The tale of the big black HQ Monaro, another little known Holden Bathurst hero car, whose story, until now, has yet to be told.

blog image2 issue #104

Of course, much is known about Peter Brock’s nine Bathurst winners. But few are aware of just how easily it could have unravelled for Brock in 1978 in his return appearance on the Mountain for the HDT – as team boss John Sheppard explained to AMC. Sheppard, an unsung Holden hero if there ever was one, offers some fascinating insights into that race – which itself lives in the shadow of the crushing six-lap win the following year – and what it was like to work with Brock.

Fast forward another five years and in ’83 Brock famously (or infamously?) won Bathurst by swapping across to the sister #25 entry after the #05 car’s engine quit a mere eight laps into the race. That earned the ’83 #05 machine the dubious honour of being the worst performed of all the cars Brock started at Bathurst. Perhaps as penance it was fitting that in ‘retirement’ the car ended up unceremoniously perched atop the roof of a Melbourne Holden dealership. Read on for the story of how it got there – and how Brocky himself helped get it back down!

Beyond our cover stories, we present the Top 25 most memorable moments for Dick Johnson Racing on the Mountain. In truth, this could have been a Top 40 or Top 50, but we’ve whittled it down to just 25 moments.

blog image3 issue #104

Issue #104’s Muscle Man is Spencer Martin, who is interviewed and profiled in detail. Martin was the Holden Dealer Team’s first driver and a two-time Gold Star champion.

We also review the AMSCAR Series’ Group A years.

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

 

The mighty Monaro turns 50

by mcowner

50th birthday of the mighty Monaro 1

AMC celebrates the 50th birthday of the mighty Monaro by presenting 50 reasons to love and revere Holden’s first muscle car, the GTS 327 – like the wacko advertising used to launch it! Dressing a model up as Little Red Riding Hood complete with a ‘wolf’ as a trusty sidekick? What were Holden’s advertising agency thinking? Or smoking?

Actually, issue #103 of Australian Muscle Car magazine will tell you what this was all about as we outline Monaro’s marketing campaign for its two-door image car. This includes backgrounding the famous catsuited-model night shot featuring a Warwick Yellow Monaro. If you think Holden was solely targeting hairy-chested macho men with its hottest Monaros, think again.

The latest issue also goes behind the scenes of the super coupe’s design, development and racing.

Imagine what it was like to join Holden in early 1968, just as the company was about to unveil its revolutionary Monaro. Who better to walk us through the super coupe’s styling than automotive design historian and author Paul Beranger, who, 50 years ago, became the youngest member of the team that had brought a legend to life.

For Ford fans, we feature a very special shed-find – a Goss racing HO. It’s the car that rocketed John Goss to racing stardom, which has resurfaced in New Zealand after decades hidden away. This blue and black beast is the Falcon raced by Goss in the Bathurst classic in both 1971 and 1972. It’s the XY GT-HO in which he won the 1972 Sandown 250 and that year’s South Pacific Touring Car Series. This makes it, in AMC’s estimation at least, the most successful known-surviving privateer or dealer-entered Phase III from Australian motor racing’s storied Series Production era. It’s the only non factory-prepared and entered GT-HO to win a round of the Australian Manufacturers Championship and claim a tin-top series win.

50th birthday of the mighty Monaro

Issue #103’s Muscle Man profile centres on George Fury. ‘Furious George’ has rarely given interviews, and has hardly been sighted since retiring from racing in 1991, but he made an exception for veteran motorsport writer David Hassall and AMC. And he has plenty to say about his incredible journey from his troubled home country to a starring role at Bathurst.

Fury really was an enigma. A quiet and humble farmer, he was nevertheless confident in his own ability and can still surprise with a blistering opinion. He’s been notably absent from the motorsport scene for more than 25 years, but not through any sense of bitterness or disinterest. In fact the Talmalmo farmer remains a fan, watching F1 and Supercars races on TV from the remote property on the upper Murray he has called home almost his entire adult life. He even has a racecar in his shed and anonymously takes it to the occasional Winton trackday.

Elsewhere in this edition we recall Amaroo’s much-loved AMSCAR Series, in particular the Group C years. A follow-on feature zeroes in on privateer who beat the professionals to win the 1983 AMSCAR title – Terry Shiel. AMC speaks to Shiel about his title success, of taking on Moffat’s factory RX7s and being a privateer trying to make his way in a category with a famously flexible set of technical rules.

Another racing star, Kevin Bartlett, plays tour guide to AMC readers through his personal mementos, curios and souvenirs from his equally eclectic racing career.

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

The Flight of the Bluebird

by mcowner

Issue #102 shines the spotlight on two birds of prey. Firstly, the cover story examines Nissan’s Bluebird Turbo racer that took pole at Bathurst in 1984. We talk to the men who built and raced Australia’s first turbocharged touring car, and reveal the tricks needed to make them win.

Turbocharging was still in its infancy when Nissan Australia decided to go touring car racing in 1981. Three years and 60 blown turbos later, the company had made its point, and ushered in the era of turbocars.

Naively, the Bluebird was originally intended to merely win the domestic Group C touring car category’s three-litre class, but it didn’t take long for the team to realise the potential of turbocharging. As forced induction took hold in Formula 1, rallying and at Le Mans, the small crew at Nissan Motor Sport’s rented factory in Melbourne’s southeast unleashed more and more power from its 1.8-litre four-pot. Soon it was matching the big V8s like Peter Brock’s Marlboro Commodores and Dick Johnson’s Greens-Tuf Falcon.

And these were touring car upstarts. The crew came from rallying, lead driver George Fury was new to circuit racing, the Bluebird had never been used in competition, and turbocharging was still something of a black art.

However, team boss Howard Marsden knew his way around the traps and soon they made their mark. Between dozens of embarrassing and smoky failures, the boxy yet attractive Bluebirds started winning races. And Fury was a revelation.

There were significant race wins, but the Bluebird’s zenith came in the dying days of Group C at Bathurst in 1984, when Fury beat Brock and the ‘Last of the Big Bangers’ Commodore to pole with a scintillating lap that would stand for years as the fastest at Mount Panorama. That achievement – on probably the wintriest day of on track action on the Mountain – has since become the stuff of legend.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in AMC issue #102, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Falcon XT GT with previously unseen imagery of its titanic battle with Monaro in the ’68 Hardie-Ferodo 500.

Bathurst ‘68 was the first time the Ford Motor Company of Australia and General Motors-Holden went head-to-head in a fierce, take no prisoners battle for muscle car supremacy at Mount Panorama. It was the race that created the Ford versus Holden Bathurst legend – and the XT Falcon GT was the Blue Oval’s official representative in this milestone race.
AMC presents 50 reasons to love the XT Falcon GT.

The man widely known as ‘Mr Falcon GT’ has no hesitation in nominating the XT as the best Falcon GT Ford produced. Big call that, but product planning executive Ian Vaughan says the light Windsor 302 engine gave the car better balance and steering than the models that followed with their big, heavy 351 Clevelands.

“It was a well-balanced car, a nice sporty sedan for the enthusiast – and I know it won them over because a lot of my car club mates went out and bought GT Falcons, so it achieved its goal,” says the 37-year Ford Australia veteran as he recalls his favourite GT of all those produced between 1967 and 2001, when he retired.

To complete our celebration of the XT model Falcon, we recall the time when the Blue Oval thought outside the square when it came to its four official entries at Bathurst in 1968, with a three-on-the-tree Falcon 500 V8 flying the Ford flag in class C in an eventful – and overlooked – campaign. There’s quite a back story to this plain jane-looking Ford.
Beyond our birds of prey, we present a story on the Walkinshaw VL you have when you’re not having a Walkinshaw VL – to borrow a line from a long ago advertising campaign for a non alcoholic alternative to spirits. In fact, this ‘Walky’ had both a dash of Clayton’s and a clash with Clayton.

This is the unusual tale of Bob Tindal’s Commodore VL Sports Sedan, now magnificently restored and resplendent in the trim in which it so infuriated the then-fledgling HSV, 30 years ago.
All that a whole lot more in issue #102 of Australian Muscle Car magazine.

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