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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Genuine GT-HO Phase III resurfaces

by mcowner

AMC #101 showcases a genuine XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III that was hidden away for four decades and has only now resurfaced. It’s a relic from racing’s glory days that’s been frozen in time – rust, dust, warts and all – in exactly the form it last raced. Now that it’s back in the spotlight its intriguing back story can be told.

The pages of AMC have showcased many magnificent beasts from the much-loved Improved Production era of Australian touring car racing over the years. Yet never have we featured one of these animals still in exactly the form in which it last competed. Until now.

This car with its original paint, bodywork and running gear is a bit like a mighty creature preserved in a museum through taxidermy – it’s a magnificently original specimen despite showing the effects of aging. In this Falcon’s case, its aged appearance is 46 years in the making.

This survivor last raced on May 14, 1972. On that day, at Calder Park, it hit the track against machines driven by the greats of the tin-top scene. When the chequered flag fell to end the meeting’s 15-lap finale, no one could have foreseen that this yellow monster would never visit a racetrack again. Just as this Ford was starting to hit its straps, it was parked, having contested just six race meetings. Its dust-encrusted interior and corrosive-spotted paintwork is the result of being tucked away in a handful of locations ever since.

Today it stands as a fascinating time capsule for us to study. If it could talk it would tell some fascinating tales from its short competition career. Yet, the most amazing stories from its life are the ones before and after its half-dozen track attacks.

This is a genuine XY Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III that first competed in the Series Production era at the 1971 Sandown 250. En route to that event it was involved in an ultra high-speed police chase along the Hume Highway that ended, ironically, at Broadmeadows.

For a full rundown on this incident, the strife and times of its owner, how it came to be taken off the track after a handful of events and why it was squirreled away for four decades, check out issue #101 of Australian Muscle Car. On sale now.

Over 16 pages we outline its short but eventful competition life and how it was being developed into arguably the most stunning and toughest-looking genuine Phase III to hit the track in period.

Yet, even without the words, this car, with its tarnished appearance makes for a fascinating visual feast.

Beyond our cover story, AMC’s revamped news section examines an issue on the lips of race fans across the nation. Ford Australia continues to reject pleas to allow its Mustang – or any other current model – to be represented in the Supercars series. AMC investigates the impasse and wonders whether there is another way forward.

Meantime, Australia’s oldest racetrack celebrates a milestone anniversary, while Australia’s newest racetrack opens.

Bob Morris is our new legend columnist, while we welcome back Aaron Noonan.

For Holden fans, a legendary Holden Monaro from New Zealand’s storied muscle car past has been resurrected and returned to the track. We also take a good long look at the V8s Till ’98 campaign that began when Holden’s very own V8 engine came under serious threat in 1984. But then the cavalry – armed with typewriters and a catchy tagline – arrived to rally the troops and save the day.

This issue’s Muscle Man is Bruce Stewart, the quintessential Bathurst co-driver, providing fast and reliable back-up between the 1965 and 1997 Great Races. He’s still racing today via racing with his son.

All that and a whole lot more in the new edition of AMC magazine.

Celebrating 100 issues of AMC

by mcowner

Celebrating 100 issues of AMC 1AMC has cracked the ton! Our milestone 100th issue names the top six most significant and desirable modern muscle cars. It’s a tribute to issue #1’s cover story naming six classic Aussie muscle cars under $20K. Issue #100 also features genuine exclusives with reclusive racing great Norm Beechey and Al Turner.

The cover story of the very first issue of  Australian Muscle Car in 2001 named the six ‘Conrod Classics’ you could own for less than $20K. The machinery this modest budget bought you back then now brings a tear to the eye. How about an HK Monaro GTS 327, Falcon XB GT Hardtop, Torana SL/R 5000 L34 or VC Brock HDT Commodore for what was – and still is – new small-car money?

We wish we’d taken our own advice, given the Muscle Car boom that happened in the ensuing five years and the continuing value growth these Australian performance icons have enjoyed. Monaro GTS327s valued at about $18,000 in 2001 now sell for over $200,000. That’s growth of over 1000 percent in just 16 years. Our new issue includes the values of all six classics today.

However, it’s the job of issue #100 to heed the lessons learned and to put some (relatively) affordable Aussie muscle in the garage as well as on the cover. Three of our cars come from the HSV stable, the other three where the FPV badge. The latest issue also nominates a second six under $20K, to neatly tie into our first issue cover story and uncover the real-world machines to balance out the muscle-car superstars – each of these provides the path to a flexing of your love of Aussie muscle, on a realistic budget.

Elsewhere in issue #100, we’ve asked founding editor Mark Oastler to reflect on his nine years as editor of AMC. And founding publisher Ray Berghouse recalls MarkO’s pitch for a new mag. We also look back at other major features in the first issue of AMC to see how things have panned out for that edition’s cars and stars.

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But it’s this month’s Muscle Man profile that’s a genuine exclusive. It’s 45 years since Norm Beechey took an axe and guillotined his racing helmet, an act that signified the end of his racing career and the start of his life as a racing recluse. In an exclusive befitting this landmark issue, Beechey has granted AMC the most comprehensive and insightful interview ever.

Meantime, no individual contributed more to Australia’s heritage of homegrown high performance than Al Turner. Therefore, there was no more appropriate person to track down and interview for issue #100 than the father of the Falcon GT-HO.

Celebrating 100 issues of AMC 3

Long-time AMC readers – and those looking to pick up back issues – will love our Issue Guide. It’s a listing of every major story featured in this magazine since its inception and includes a shot of every cover from #1 to #100, too.

All that and a whole lot more in the centurian edition of your favourite magazine. On sale now.

Issue #99 of Australian Muscle Car magazine

by mcowner

Issue #99 of Australian Muscle Car magazine is all about the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda tales – vehicles the ‘big three’ manufacturers oughta have produced in significant numbers but somehow fell through the cracks. AMC puts the spotlight on six such cars that were either prototypes that didn’t go ahead or machines that enthusiasts have produced themselves out of passion and curiosity. And simply because they could! Our six run to: Cortina V8 – While Ford Australia’s product planners gave consideration to a TC Cortina V8, they didn’t follow through on bringing this car to life. One South Australian enthusiast has built his own vision of what Ford was thinking.

Holden Monza V8 – Peter Brock was never short of an idea or new project and one of his best was a V8-powered Monza that either Holden or HDT Special Vehicles should have produced. Brock procured a Monza off the Opel assembly line in Germany, shipped it to Oz as his prototype and that car survives today. As we show you in issue #99.

Centura V8 – Chrysler Australia Limited should have taken a leaf out of Holden’s book by marketing four, six and V8 versions of its mid-size, mid seventies offering, the Centura. It would have worked a treat, judging by the Mahogany Brown 360ci-powered V8 Centura that one Victorian has built himself. You’ll love the cream vinyl roof.

Torana XU-1 V8 – Two years ago we exclusively revealed that the pink LJ GTR Torana V8 prototype lives on in Tasmania. At that time, 2015, that survivor was powered by a six-cylinder engine. Now, that magnificent little car is again powered by a 308ci engine – for the first time since the mid 1970s. Read our update in issue #99.

V8 Charger R/T – No one was more disappointed with Chrysler Australia’s decision not to sell and race a V8 R/T Charger than one of its own engineers, Bob Burke. So he built his own one-off version.

EA Falcon GT – Ford’s first V8 Falcon for a decade was a 1990 American-built prototype that never made production, but it paved the way for many more that followed. That car lives on today, stored away at Broadmeadows. Switching our focus to racecars, issue #99 presents the ultimate Bathurst Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – the Bob Morris XD Falcon demolished on the Mountain in 1981. There’s an amazing, previously untold back story to this green and white machine, which is unique to our sport’s history – one race, instantly competitive, credited with second place, but never to grace a racetrack again.

Our Muscle Man personality this time is Johnny Goss. Has there been a more intriguing Bathurst winner than Goss? In this career overview, AMC’s editor, with input for the man himself, ponders what makes him tick.

The GTV6 we’ve dubbed ‘Il frigo giallo’ – the yellow fridge – lives on today as a reminder of the Alfa Romeo marque’s mid-1980s return to local tin-top competition with two of the greatest Aussie drivers behind the wheel.

Our event coverage includes 13th running of the Muscle Car Masters, which included the event’s most ambitious display yet. Plus there’s coverage of Brocktober 2017, effectively the nationals for the Brock Commodore Owners Association of Australia, and the latest instalment of the Leukaemia Foundation fundraiser which headed to NSW for the first time.

Those who like it dirty, will love our presentation of the top 25 Muscle Cars on dirt.

For drag racing fans, we put the spotlight on Santo Rapisarda. Americans adore Australians, especially those competing in top-line US motorsport. Rapisarda Autosport International’s ‘coals to Newcastle’ efforts have earned the Sydney squad respect and affection among NHRA fans.

Finally, there’s the Sacred Sites history lesson about Bathurst’s little brother, Sandown. The Melbourne circuit has a long and distinguished history, but is on borrowed time.

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.