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Thread: Group A - International Touring Car Formula

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by nick_tassie View Post
    A Shannon's representative told Drive yesterday that the auction house was reluctant to make comments on the value of any car they had not personally inspected. But she said that a "Bathurst-winning Brock Commodore... may bring between $250,000 and $500,000".

    It would have been better if this girl had said nothing at all, this chassis never won Bathurst

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jimdigris View Post
    No. But feelers were put out by one Australian party to get GM to homologate the 1984 IROC Camaro for the 85 season once CAMS announced Australia was going Group A in 85. GM werent interested at all, wouldnt even submit the paperwork, even after being told the Ford Mustang was homolgated. Shame really. They saw it purely as European and hence no sales there, no local interest, no point. And in the US, if US manufacturers arent involved, then no-one cares
    Thanks Jim. Re the Camaro, I also vaguely recall a story appearing in Auto Action about the Camaro being homologated for Group A, but of course it came to nothing. Naturally, AA interviewed Kevin Bartlett for the story.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by jimdigris View Post
    This being a NZ temporary approval to compete? AFAIK the XE was never homologated in pure Group A, I do recall Dicky racing an XE in NZ but the car wasnt his, it was a cross between NZ production racing and the inoming Group A regulations, tons of grunt but no brakes and dodgy transmission, didnt it have non-standard front and rear spoilers, similar (probably was) to what came out on the Australian "sports pak" model?
    The Falcon was actually fully legal to race in Group A, but I believe this may have only the case in NZ, using the same rule that initially allowed the Commodore to race in Aus. According to reports at the time, the FIA allowed locally sold NZ cars to have a production number of just 200. However, I've always been slightly confused by this, as my understanding is the XE Falcon V8 was never assembled in NZ. The XD had been, but the liveliest model was the 302ci Fairmont Ghia, with auto transmission!

    True, the three Falcons that raced in New Zealand Group A had all come from the local production series which evolved into Group A. I once asked Bruce Anderson how it was the front and rear spoilers were fitted to the cars when racing in Group A trim, given they were never a production feature. He said his team fitted spoilers to their car, and nobody pulled them up on it, so they just left them there.

    Ford Australia were never interested in racing the Falcon in Group A, so this model had a very limited life, even in NZ.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    I once asked Bruce Anderson how it was the front and rear spoilers were fitted to the cars when racing in Group A trim, given they were never a production feature. He said his team fitted spoilers to their car, and nobody pulled them up on it, so they just left them there.
    I love this story, that's a very European attitude to racing, do it and see if anyone picks us up for it. Or maybe the opposition didn't know what was right and what wasnt with everything being new

    Ford Australia had announced the end of the cleveland when Australia would go to unleaded, and a very boring over square (pardon the pun) fuel injected OHV six was the falcons immediate future. Dicky Johnson toyed with the idea of a home grown turbo with help from HKS and even made a few prototypes, but the non reving engine wasnt really suited to racing, and besides, it would have to run in the 5-6 weight class. Shame Ford didnt have the foresight to fuel inject the big 351, I think it would have been at least as good as the Mustang even if it did have to run 1400KG

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by jimdigris View Post
    I love this story, that's a very European attitude to racing, do it and see if anyone picks us up for it. Or maybe the opposition didn't know what was right and what wasnt with everything being new

    Ford Australia had announced the end of the cleveland when Australia would go to unleaded, and a very boring over square (pardon the pun) fuel injected OHV six was the falcons immediate future. Dicky Johnson toyed with the idea of a home grown turbo with help from HKS and even made a few prototypes, but the non reving engine wasnt really suited to racing, and besides, it would have to run in the 5-6 weight class. Shame Ford didnt have the foresight to fuel inject the big 351, I think it would have been at least as good as the Mustang even if it did have to run 1400KG
    Yeah its funny how these things just sort of slip through. The story of the Falcons in Group A is more about evolution than anything. In a way they were part of the landscape, and were really just swept in to help with the transition as part of Group A when it was introduced to NZ. Their story really goes back to the early 1980s. In NZ, production car racing had always been really popular. The B&H sponsored 500 mile race that had begun in the '60s evolved into a race series in the early '80s, and there was another one sponsored by ANZ bank. In the large capacity class, the cars had to be NZ assembled, and the sportiest model for Holden was their V8 SL/E, while Ford had its V8 Fairmont Ghia. Both were only available with an auto trans, so thats what teams had to run.

    The racing was pretty close, but then Holden decided to build a small production run of SS Commodores specifically for the series in 1982, fitted with a 4-speed gearbox, Simmons wheels, sporty suspension, front and rear spoilers, etc etc. Peter Brock was drafted in to help with them. The rules only required a batch of 25 homologation models be built, although Holden actually built 30 of them.

    Obviously the Commodores just ran away with everything over the next couple of seasons, so the series rules were tweaked to allow the Falcons more freedoms to be more competitive, including running a 351, 4-speed gearbox, front and rear spoilers etc for the 1984 season. The rear spoilers were Group C spoilers. For the 1985 season, Group A was introduced, the Falcons were drafted in, and although their spoilers weren't actually legal, because they were already fitted with them, nobody seemed too bothered. When Group A arrived in NZ, Neville Crichton and Kent Baigent went and bought a couple of Group A BMW 635s from Europe, and these soundly trounced all the local Falcons and Commodores (the Commodores in that first season were all the old 1982 NZ built SS cars upgraded to Group A regs) anyway, so illegal spoilers on the Falcons weren't really an issue.

    There were three Falcons that raced in NZ in the 1985, season, the Anderson brothers Pinepac XE, the John Morton owned XE which Robbie Francevic co-drove, and the Gary Sprague driven XD. But by the time the international Wellington street race was held in January 1985, only the Anderson car was still racing. Bruce Anderson made a tentative phone call to Dick Johnson to see if he'd be interested in sharing the Falcon at Wellington and the Pukekohe race that followed it a week later. Johnson agreed, and promptly stuck the big Ford on pole at Wellington. He was running away with the race early on, but only lasted 9 laps before the rear end gave up.

    Regarding Johnsons Falcon turbo, he had one of these as a road car in 1984. At the time the general consensus seemed to be that he'd race a Falcon XE turbo in Group A in 1986, using the Mustang as an interim car in '85. Like you say though Jim, it came to nothing.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    then Holden decided to build a small production run of SS Commodores specifically for the series in 1982, fitted with a 4-speed gearbox, Simmons wheels, sporty suspension, front and rear spoilers, etc etc. Peter Brock was drafted in to help with them. The rules only required a batch of 25 homologation models be built, although Holden actually built 30 of them.
    I was standing in line at Surfers paradise in 83 or 84, I cant remember the exact year, waiting to talk to Peter Brock. The bloke in front of me (who was a kiwi) was telling everyone in the line that he had a VH commodore he had shipped from NZ that was "built by Brock and only one of a couple dozen" and "it's faster than any Brock Special sold in Australia" We all laughed and were thinking he was full of it. But when he got to talk to talk to Peter, he told him about it, Peter nodded and then he asked Peter if he would sign the dash. To everyones amazement Peter said yes and he followed the guy to the car park and left us standing there like stunned mullets
    He came back and talked to us all waiting in line like it was par for course.

  7. #27
    A friend of mine had one of those Brock Commodores. He described it as a beast and his wife was too scared of the thing to drive it.

  8. #28
    Yep, thats right Jim, and in the case of these cars, the cars bought off the dealership showroom floor were the actual cars that raced. I believe of the 30 built, approx 1/3 became race cars. Brock himself raced one of them, shared with David Oxton, while a second GM Dealer Team car was shared by Peter Janson and Denny Hulme. They're all quite sought after now.

    To be fair, they were indeed faster than the Aussie Commodores, but only because the Aussie cars were choked down by anti-pollution gear the Kiwi cars didn't have to have.

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  9. #29
    some pics I took in early 1988, it must have been early as Lonhurst's Sierra (the same car that won Bathurst that year) is in Freeport colours. All are at Oran Park. Sadly these are the only surviving photos I have of a collection of over 900 I took during the GroupA era, the others were lost in a flood a couple of years ago. The only reason I have these is that they were at a mates place at the time of the flood.

    John Bowe instead of Greg Hansford in the second Shell Sierra

    Dicky in the 17 Shell Sierra

    Factory Nissan Car 30

    Another shot of the Factory Nissan Car 30

    Factory Nissan Car 15

    Mobil BMW M3 Car 7

  10. #30
    Mobil BMW M3 Car 05 just lapped Murray Carter's woefully slow Sierra. Murray had a beautiful brand new NSW road registered black Sierra in the car park, there was a lot of speculation that the car was a genuine RS500, but I'm sure he said it was just a RS500 body kit on a Cosworth RS, still, it looked the goods!

    Mbil BMW Car 1

    The beautifull sounding but outclassed Merc showing a Sierra the correct line , this car was heaven to the ears

    Another shot of the merc, about to be put a lap down by a DJR Sierra

    Mobile Concrete Pumping VK, I don't know why but this VK had a completely different sound to all the other Commodores, it sounded like Grice's VL in 87

  11. #31
    HSV VL in the paddock before the race

    Tony Longhurst's brand new Sierra in Freeport colours, blindingly fast for new unsorted car, made everyone sit up and say wtf

    Another shot of the Freeport Sierra

    Everlast VL about to be lapped

  12. #32
    Better comment before someone picks me up for it Larry's VL is at Amaroo, not Oran park

  13. #33
    Fantastic photos Jim, really enjoying these. Sorry to hear about your huge collection lost in the floods.

    1988 was an interesting year in that it promised so much, but in hindsight was the beginning of the end for Group A. And not just in Australia. Many of the teams struggling to get both speed and reliability out of the Ford RS500s had tapped into it by 1988, and they just wiped the floor with everything. I remember the 1988 ATCC as being a DJR whitewash. I just went and found the results from that season, and either Dick Johnson or John Bowe won 8 of the 9 races. The only one that slipped away was won by Longhurst. It was already becoming a one-horse race. But the cars themselves were completely fascinating.

    Those new Nissans were to my mind some of the best sounding cars ever to race in Group A.

    Was that Merc the one raced by Phil Ward? Came out to Australia in 1986 from memory?

    I remember Longhurst making an announcement late in the ATCC that he'd be unveiling a new paint scheme for Bathurst. Those B&H colours really popped and were quite different to anything the other teams had.

  14. #34
    Have to agree about the 6 cyl Nissans, I remember a visiting U.K journalist in the pits commenting "now that's what a race car should sound like" when the Nissan went past changing up at about 7500 RPM, it sure did sound great, unlike the 4 cyl Nissan which sounded like a wet fart

    Yes it was Phil Ward's merc, it IMHO was the best sounding 4 cyl touring car I have ever heard, for a couple of rounds he was running it just as it came from Europe, still with kevlar dash (and some penalty ballast) that he turned up at Bathurst 86 with, and still with a straight thru exhaust! I think it wasnt until Amaroo that he was forced to run a muffler because the EPA were there with their dreaded SPL meter, the bane of many that round. A friend who was in a teams pit crew said he heard the usually quite placid driver mumbling in the pits that round that he would like to stick that SPL meter where it deserved to be if he came their way again lol I was stunned because this particular person was considered the gentleman of Australian motorsport
    Tony's car was immaculate, as you would expect for any car with Frank Gardner's magical touch, and it's straight line speed was equal to Dick Johnsons car 17. But if that car was considered immaculate, you should have seen the second unraced spare car TL had at Bathurst in 88, the standard of preparation for that car was second to none in the touring car world. I asked a member of TL's pit crew if they were going to roll out the new car and he said they hoped to, but alas it just sat in the garage for the whole week

  15. #35
    Jim, I'd forgotten how good the Nissan HR31s sounded until I saw a couple of them racing at the Muscle Car Masters about 5 years ago. Brought back a lot of memories. Like you say, the earlier 4-cylinder Skylines just didn't compare.

    So what happened to that spare Longhurst RS500? Did he ever race it?

    And what happened to Murray Carters RS500? he drove that car for a few years.

  16. #36
    Longhursts spare was raced by him the following year, I think Alan Jones? might have piloted the old car at Bathurst in 89

    Dont know what happened to Carter's Sierra, but do I have a couple of pics of his road going Sierra


    Here is a pic I took of Larry Perkins immaculate VL at Oran Park in 88, this car was eventually converted to TWR spec and was the seconf Perkins car at Sandown and the not raced spare at Bathurst that year. It was to be raced in 87 at Bathurst but Larry was so pleased with the VK he ran that instead, until Chrighton punted him into the wall



    The rather spartan cockpit of Larry's VL, only the bare bones necessities with Larry


  17. #37
    Can't be too many photos around of the Perkins VL in that colour scheme pre-Walkinshaw spec Jim?

  18. #38
    A few from Wellington 88.Dick first.Name:  DJ Sierra 1.jpg
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  19. #39
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  20. #40

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