Posts Tagged ‘Holden Torana GTR-XU1’

Colin Bond in the Holden Dealer Team’s ‘new’ LC Holden Torana GTR XU1 V8 during the Easter Bathurst meeting in 1972…

New in the sense that this ‘cleverly disguised’, pensioned off 1970/71 Series Production V8 re-engined car fitted with rear wing, wide wheels was a ‘sleeper’- the prototype of the General’s (General Motors Holden) proposed ‘308 V8’ powered 160 mph 1972 Series Production Bathurst contender, make that winner.

The machine also featured widened 6X13 inch steel wheels and a full-width front spoiler incorporating brake ducts intended for the road-going variant.

During the weekend the V8 bullet was demonstrably quicker than the normal LJ 202 cid Series Production XU1’s winning the 5 lap Touring & Sports Closed Scratch Race from Ron Gillard’s XU1 and Graham Ryan’s Charger.

Bondy was a bit lucky as Bob Jane’s ‘full blown’ Torana V8 4.4 Repco ‘620’ Sports Sedan blasted away to an early lead only to slow, pit and rejoin the race back in 11th. But a win is a win, the only one for the car. Bond did a best lap of 2:39.6 to win, in comparison, he did a 2:43.9 in his Series Production LJXU1 to win the ‘Better Brakes’ Series Production Touring Car 17 lapper earlier in the day.

Its hard for me to picture my parents as ‘rampant rooters’, but they are of that generation who, free from the pressures of the war years hit the bedroom and created us ‘Baby Boomers’- that statistically big post-war rump of the populace who are still grimly hanging onto power.

Critically, we are a huge mob worldwide who drove demand for all sorts of consumer products throughout the sixties and seventies buoyed by a strong global economy and the expansion of consumer credit. The latter in essence allowed us to live beyond our means doing so as the houses we bought gained capital values of almost obscene levels (in Australia) thereby taking care of our debt/equity ratios. None of us are complaining mind you, even if our kids are!

In the US the car manufacturers noticed we youngsters, particularly our  burgeoning wallets and therefore the potential to flog us stuff. They delved into their parts bins and packaged existing hardware- engines, gearboxes and chassis underpinnings into very attractive packages. Ford’s Mustang and Chev’s Camaro being ‘Pony Car’ cases in point.

By 1966/7 those components were finding their way to their Australian subsidiaries and were packaged into yummy stuff such as the 289 cid V8 powered 1967 XR Ford Falcon GT and 1968 HK Holden Monaro GTS327. They were mighty fine racing cars compared with the Morris Cooper S and Ford Cortina GT/GT500 which had been the top guns at Bathurst till then.

The inexorable rise in Australian touring car racing gathered apace in the sixties and had morphed into three classes. ‘Series Production’ were essentially showroom stock cars, the class to which the Bathurst 500 was run. ‘Improved Production’, as the name suggests allows greater modification- was the class to which the Australian Touring Car Championship was contested. The category allowing the wildest modifications was ‘Sports Racing Closed/Sports Sedans’.

Inevitably motor racing played it’s usual part in the corporate brand building of the manufacturers and ‘moving metal’ of these new machines or rather the more modestly specified brothers of the race intended cars. The ‘win on Sunday, promote the shit out of it on Monday, flog on Tuesday’ adage has been a good, fairly accurate one down the decades.

For enthusiasts the cars modified for intended race use were what we sought and could buy if one had the readies as sufficient numbers had to be built and sold for road use to allow ‘Group E’ Series Production homologation for racing eligibility.

Holden initially raced V8 engined Monaro’s very successfully in Series Production winning a Bathurst 500 or two, 1968 and 1969 to be precise. Mount Panorama pickings were decidedly slimmer once the marketing focus changed to the six-cylinder Holden Torana in 1970.

There was nothing to stop privateer teams running the ‘Top Gun’ Holden Monaro GTS 350, some did, but the ‘factory’ Holden Dealer Team had to run the cars Holden’s marketing needs demanded. There was not the budget/resources to, say, develop, prepare and race Monaro’s on tarmac and Torana’s on dirt, that choice would have been the optimal one.

Without going into all of the detail for international readers, Ford and Chrysler competed locally with factory teams. General Motors Holden, the local GM subsidiary was a bit more ‘prim and proper’ over observance of the supposed American Automobile Association ‘no motor racing ban’, did so via the back-door ‘Holden Dealer Team’, a small outfit operated by ‘The Fox’, Harry Firth, former racer, mechanic, engineer and Bathurst 500 winner out of premises in Queens Avenue, Auburn, a twee inner-eastern Melbourne suburb.

Mason/Mason Mazda R100 and Cooke/Mason Monaro GTS350 Bathurst 1969. Digby Cooke qualified the Monaro 2nd, DNF with Trevor and Neil Mason 21st in the race won by the Colin Bond/Tony Roberts HDT GTS350 (S Jek)

Cooke/Bowden Monaro 350GTS Bathurst 1970 Q2 and DNF gearbox, Bathurst below (S Jek)

In creating the first ‘race variant’ of the Torana- the 1970 LC , ohv, 186 cid six-cylinder engined GTR XU1 Harry Firth and his small team including long time mechanic, Ian Tate, driver Peter Brock and GMH created the first in a series of the best all round competition ‘taxis’ in Australia. The LC and later 202 cid LJ 1971-73 XU1’s were supreme road cars (the LC ‘praps not so much, it was way too choppy in spring/shock rates to take your babe to the drive-in) and winners in rallies, rallycross and on the circuits.

The problem was, whilst there was an Australian Manufacturers Championship, run over rounds at Sandown, Bathurst, Surfers Paradise, Adelaide, Phillip Island (depending upon the year) the only race that mattered to the punters watching the Teev at home was the Bathurst 500- and Ford had a mortgage on that classic with their mighty, four door, 351 cid V8 engined Falcon GTHO’s.

Colin Bond’s HDT Torana LC GTR XU1 in the Bathurst pitlane 1971, 4th in the race won by Moffat’s works Falcon GTHO Phase 3 (autopics)

Whilst the Torana’s were continually developed they simply lacked the mumbo to win at the Mountain. The solution was simple, build a V8 variant of the XU1. The prototype of the car is the beastie Bondie is wheeling around Bathurst in the opening photo, it was put together in late 1971 using a cast-off HDT Series Prod LC XU1 raced by the team in 1970/71.

Fitted with a 5 litre Holden ‘308’ V8, M21 4 speed gearbox, suspension tweaks and away they went, the car was driven by Brock, Bond and Larry Perkins.

Repco Holden F5000 V8. Phil Irving designed, with assistance from Brian Heard, engine produced circa 470-520 bhp throughout its life (Repco)

Lets not forget that the Holden 308 V8 parts competition bin was deep. Repco had built and been racing the F5000 variant of the engine for about two years by the time the HDT boys started playing with the 308, inclusive of two Australian Grand Prix wins in cars driven by Frank Matich- 1970 in a McLaren M10B and 1971 in his self-built Matich A50

Bond, Hell Corner, Bathurst Easter 1972, XU1 V8

The test-bed car was registered for road use and carried the Victorian number-plate KSN-116 and was first raced by Bond as shown here at Bathurst.

Brock then raced the car at Adelaide International with Larry Perkins given the task of driving it across on the Great Western Highway and also racing in one of the support events. Firth was starting to get an idea of how their Bathurst contender would fare later in the year.

Perkins in Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B/E Ford during the 1972 Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy at Surfers Paradise, first F2 home (G Ruckert)

Larry drove and tested for the HDT in 1972, mainly competing in Rallycross, his primary race program that season was driving Garry Campbell’s Elfin 600 B/E Ford ANF2 car to the national Australian Formula 2 title. He was off to Snetterton for the Formula Ford Festival with Garrie Cooper’s first Elfin 620FF late in the year, he won the Australian FF ‘Driver to Europe Series’ in 1971 but took his prize a year later knowing he would be better prepared, the rest is history.

Larrikins in the HDT Rallycross LC XU1 supercharged ‘Beast’ at Catalina Park in Sydney’s Blue Mountains in 1972. What a career!- FV to F1, Rallycross to Le Mans, he did, raced, built and won in everything (autopics)

Brock raced the LC V8 car at Calder on 14 May in the ‘Marlboro Trophy Series’ minus spoilers but with the widened steel wheels shown in the Bathurst shots earlier in this article, in a combined sports Sedan and improved tourer race running as a support event for the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ event for F5000 cars.

He raced mid-field amongst much faster sports sedans including Norm Beechey’s Monaro, Bob Jane’s Camaro, Alan Hamilton’s 911S and John Harvey’s Torana Repco V8 and barely rated a mention in the race reports.

That the car was ‘slipping under the radar’ was perfect from the HDT’s perspective.

Ford Falcon XA GTHO Phase 4’s come together at FoMoCo’s Oz ‘Skunkworks’ at Lot 6 Mahoneys Road, Broadmeadows on Melbourne’s north-western fringe.  Note the 36 gallon tank beside the standard item. 4 cars built (unattributed)

Whilst Holden were beavering away on their 1972 Bathurst contender, out in Mahoneys Road, Broadmeadows on the other side of Melbourne Ford were working on the new XA Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 4 whilst in Tonsley Park, Adelaide Chrysler were working on a V8 engined RT Charger, the E55.

For enthusiasts and racers these were mouth watering machines with enormous performance potential and engineering integrity.

GMH were proceeding to develop the production version of Harry’s V8 prototype ordering three GTR (not XU1) V8’s, which were sent down the Elizabeth, South Australia plant production line on 13 April 1972 for use by the Experimental Engineering team at GM’s Port Melbourne plant in inner Melbourne.

And then along came the media hysteria ‘Supercar Scare’ which was a frenzy of journalists and politicians whipping themselves into a lather over ’18 up year olds driving around the streets of our cities at 160 mph’.

This topic has been well ventilated down the decades amongst enthusiasts in Australia, their is little point adding to it here. Not that there is any doubt of the performance capability of any of these cars. Arguably a drum braked, cross-ply tyre shod, terminal understeering six-cylinder, ‘poverty pack’ Holden Belmont was a more lethal weapon than a well engineered ‘Supercar’ which was fit for purpose. A Belmont wasn’t fit for anything other than as an inner city cab operated at less than 35 mph.

So, the cars were all ‘pulled’ (or considerably softened as a luxury cruiser in Chrysler’s case) by manufacturers keen to maintain the high tariff walls the pollies provided which enabled them to produce sub-standard crap, flog it to the punters and make a poultice.

‘Let’s not piss the pollies off’ was the main aim of GMH, Ford and Chrysler management, the price of not building a few hundred high-performance machines was a cheap one to pay to keep the self serving State Governments and Canberra dickheads at bay.

(carthrottle.com)

It’s a shame really as the spec of the XU1 V8 would have been sweet- slinky, small (floppy in race terms) body, 308cid 300 bhp’ish V8, M21 4 speed box, Detroit locker diff, 6×13 inch Globe Sprintmaster wheels, long-range fuel tanks and aerodynamic aids. The car would have been a great 160 plus mph package with the slightly heavier V8 sitting back a bit in the chassis relative to the venerable Holden ‘Red’ six.

Torana racer/engineer Lee Nicholle had this to say about the prospects/charcteristics of XU1 V8’s on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’.

‘They do flex-horrid little car but they were also a great race car! I suspect though that Harry, Brock and Larry probably would have done the things that help- take all the rubber from between the front crossmember and chassis rails, that stiffens up the front no end plus of course the roll cage helps too, even the basic alloy ones in vogue then. Plus maybe some basic seam welding, though the car was road registered’.

‘That car (the HDT prototype) as an experiment seemed to work ok. I have seen no end of 308 LJ’s over the decades and they are NOT an evil monster, whatever the newspapers of the day insinuated. They are nicer to drive than a standard XU1 as the engine (V8) is far smoother than the lumpy, grumpy 6’.

‘With the right bits it (the V8) it is nearly a bolt in. There were over 30 built by a nearby country Holden Dealer here in South Australia as well as a few others by dealers interstate. They would not have been a great deal faster than a 6 cylinder XU1, unless the engine was worked’. (note the Repco parts bin comment earlier in the article)

Lee continued ‘My XU1 Chev Sports Sedan highlighted that. A 300bhp Phil Irving head Holden 6 was as quick as my then 380bhp Chev, though my engine bill was a LOT less which was the reason originally (to change from the Holden 6 to Chevy V8). Later with over 500bhp I was considerably faster than the sixes of course’.

With their V8 plans scuttled the HDT gave the specifications of the LJ six a tickle, by use of a wild ‘HX’ camshaft and with engines balanced and blueprinted they gave circa 212bhp. Globemaster Sprint alloy wheels were used and some revisions to the suspension- they evolved a good package which gave Peter Brock his first Bathurst win- the last solo win as it happens in 1972. In truth the win was as much down to Brock as the car.

The later V8 L34 and A9X Torana’s incorporating lots of Repco goodies would of course come soon but the LJ V8 is a wonderful mighta-been with KSN-116 proof positive of just what a weapon the XU1 V8 was…

Brock on his way to LJ XU1 victory, Fiat 850 Coupe behind, Bathurst 500 1972 (unattributed)

What  Happened to the Cars…

Depending upon your source there are some differences, but here we go all the same, he says with trepidation, ‘taxi’ enthusiasts are far more rabid then we open-wheeler nutbags.

1.HDT’s LC GTR-XU1 V8 Prototype

The ex 1970/71 HDT team car, KSN-116 was converted back into a 6-cylinder XU1, sold and has never been seen again, amazing given its significance

2.The three GTR V8’s were built in GM’s Elizabeth factory on 13 April 1972…

They were painted three different colours, lets identify them in that manner

Its said that Holden Experimental Engineers- Ed Taylor’s crew, fitted 308 V8’s with full spec ‘XW7′ parts with Harry Firth given the Pink and White cars to finish off, and, when completed, then handed them back to GM

.’Sebring Orange’ LGN-307

Registered by GMH on 6 September 1972 with a V8. Referred to as the ‘Lockwood Special’ due to the bonnet pin locks so fitted! Brock drove it as a loan car but the 308 V8 had been replaced with the 202 LJ 6

GM’s Administrator of Motorsport and PR also used the car as his company vehicle for a while before it was finally retired to Holden’s Engineering section.

Tendered for sale by GM in February 1975. Stolen in Melbourne’s Bundoora, Victoria in 1985 and never recovered.

.’Strike Me Pink’ LDH-255

Initially registered by GMH on 28 April 1972 with a 6 cylinder engine, a V8 was fitted later by Experimental Engineering

Tested by Brock at Calder where it was a ‘bit of a pig’ and then taken back to Queens Avenue, Auburn for attention to the suspension- spring rates, shocks and suspension bushes. When tested again at Calder by Brock on 31 May 1972, running a 2.78:1 diff and Detroit Locker it was a second a lap quicker than a normal XU1 driven by Colin Bond at the same test.

Brock recalled the car gave 271 bhp on Jack Hunnam’s dyno

.’White’

Intrigued to know the story

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, autopics.com, plannerpower, Sharaz Jek, Graham Ruckert

References…

Various online Holden forums, The Nostalgia Forum comments by Lee Nicholle, HDT Club of Victoria magazine, shannons.com, strikemepink on shannons.com, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

Afterthought: Bruce Hodgson in the only 1972 Australian Supercar that ‘got away’…

(plannerpower)

Bruce Hodgson with Fred Gocentas aboard their Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 4 during the Southern Cross Rally, Mount Faulk Road outside Port Macquarie in October 1973.

For all the plans by Chrysler, GMH and Ford for the Supercars of ’72 only one ever competed albeit as a rally car, hardly the function for which Howard Marsden and the boys at FoMoCo intended!

Of Ford’s four Phase 4’s constructed, the least built up racer, the spare was given to John Goss, it was sold via McLeod Ford, assembled for road use.

Hodgson and Gocentas, Phase 4, rally and date unknown (unattributed)

The first and most developed of the racers was sold to a chap in Toowoomba and is now in the Bowden Collection.

The second racer was given to Hodgson, a Ford works Escort rally exponent who rallied it for several years before the machine was involved in a head on accident with a Holden Commodore, the wreck exists.

The production model was sold, via a car yard to an astute Sydney dentist in 1978 who is believed to still own it.

Tailpiece: ‘The Beast’- HDT Sports Sedan, the ultimate V8 LJ Torana XU1, Colin Bond, Warwick Farm, May 1973…

This race meeting must have been one of the last open ones at Warwick Farm. Car built quickly by HDT with an old shell, the essential element of which was a 480bhp Lucas injected Repco Holden F5000 V8. Mawer alloy wheels clear, a crowd pleaser, the car was too basic in spec by then to be a winner even in the hands of Brock and Bond

Finito…

moffat capri sandown

Robert Davies captures Alan Moffat is his Ford ‘Cologne Capri’ RS3100, exiting ‘Dandy Road’ upon its Australian debut, at the Sandown Tasman meeting February 1975…

Whilst Alan Moffats’ car is well known by most Australian enthusiasts, the factory RS2600 campaigned by David Mckay in the 1972 Dulux Rally is a bit more obscure, we will come back to Moffats’ car, McKays’ was the first to appear.

mc kay 2 finish of dulux

David McKay with Ford RS2600 Capri, Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne at the end of the 1972 Dulux Rally. (David McKays Scuderia Veloce)

David McKay was an ex-racer of world class, the most influential Australian motoring journalist of his time and boss of Scuderia Veloce, retailer of Ferraris’ and other exotica and a team which ran some of Australia’s’ best cars and drivers. https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/ and https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

The Dulux Rally was a unique event in the World, whilst influenced by the Tour de France was different in that competitors faced both the challenges of dirt rallying and circuit racing. The Rally only lasted 2 years, such was the cost of running an event over 2 weeks commencing in Queensland and finishing in distant Victoria.

The Dulux was promoted and run by the Sydney based ‘Australian Sporting Car Club’ and worked commercially due to the support of ICI Australia, whose research showed the most effective way to promote the name change of ‘Balm Paints’ to ‘Dulux’ to the trade in 1971 was via motorsport. Re-finishers, panel and paint shop proprietors were interested in motorsport, so the key commercial support to get quite a radical event off the ground was made.

dulux rally route

Not exactly the same events as 1971 but similar in 1972, and a lot of ground to cover!

McKay very successfully ran an Alfa 1750 GTV powered by the 2 litre race engine out of his friend Brian Foleys’ ex-factory GTAm circuit racer, a veritable 210bhp wolf in sheeps clothing in 1971…McKay finished 2nd to Colin Bonds’ factory Holden Torana ‘LC’ GTR-XU1. No mean feat as Bond was one of Australia’s most versatile drivers; a winner in open wheelers, on the dirt and on the circuits as both multiple Australian Rally Champion and a winner of the Bathurst 500 and many other circuit races.

mc kay hume weir

McKay racing to victory at Hume Weir circuit near Albury. Compare the ‘race or tarmac spec’ of the RS2600 with the rally shot below. Car sans front spoiler in this shot. (David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce)

For 1972 McKay was keen on a more competitive mount, the nature of the various hats he wore and his capabilities meant he was attractive to all of the local manufacturers/importers. McKay was invited to breakfast with Fords CEO Australia, Bill Bourke, on his departure from Australia who asked if there was anything he could do for McKay in his new appointment elsewhere in the Ford empire.

McKay recalled ‘Ford were running V6 Capris’ in European Rallies and perhaps Bill Bourke could collar one which wouldn’t be missed in time for the ’72 Dulux? This he did together with a mechanic to look after a car which had been run by Ford France. Howard Marsden (head of Fords racing program in Australia) was enthused and turned on his Ford works crew’.

rs 2600 cutaway

Evolution of these cars explained in the text. 1972 spec RS2600; pushrod OHV, fuel injected V6 engine modified by Weslake in the UK. Ultimate race engines produced circa 320bhp@7300rpm from 2995cc, the standard engine 2637cc and 150bhp. 5 speed ‘box, LSD. (Bruno Betti)

hermann mt mc ginn 240z

Edgar Hermanns’ factory Datsun 240Z, the Japanese factory a big supporter of Australian Rallying for a decade or so. Navigator Roger Bonhomme. Here the car is being serviced at the Mt Ginn stage outside Canberra. (Green Machine)

The 1972 Dulux entry was not large at 27 carsbut included International, Edgar Herrmann in a factory Datsun 240Z, Colin Bond and Peter Brock in factory Torana GTR XU1’s both of whom were equally at home on tar or dirt, Australian Rally Champion Bob Watson in a Renault 8 Gordini, Stewart McLeod, XU-1 and Bruce Hodgson, Ford Escort Twin Cam and many other top drivers.

The rally commenced after a run from Brisbane to Grafton at Surfers Paradise Raceway.

The Capri had a high speed miss which cost power, McKay finished 3rd on a track tailor made for the car. Due in Sydney on the second night, David organised the SV Team to be on hand to rectify the problem, there, out of the rain which had accompanied the rally since it’s start, a condenser was identified as the cause of the misfire and fixed.

With full power the car won the Silverdale Hillclimb and night racing at Oran Park, then a circuit on Sydney’s Western outskirts. This put a smile on Ford fans faces and gave General Motors Holden and their Torana’s cause for concern…

McKay also won the Dapto Hillclimb, having time to divert to visit his ailing mother in Bowral Hospital enroute to Canberra!

mc kay mt mc ginn stage

Chassis number of this car unknown but campaigned by Ford France before imported to Australia by Ford Australia for McKays’ use in this event. Car is being fettled to ‘dirt spec’ for the Mt Ginn stage. Note difference in tyres and ride height, later to be an issue. McKay concerned about the surface, tar had been laid on top of dirt elected not to contest the Mt Ginn event which was won by Colin Bonds’ XU-1 Torana. (Green Machine)

brock from hermann

Hermann and Brock had fun, the 240Z in front of Peters’ Holden Torana XU-1. Torana like the Capri, a versatile car at home on track or trail.Winner of both the Australian Rally Championship (Bond) and Bathurst 500 (Brock). Mt Ginn, Canberra. (Green Machine)

McKay ‘passed’ as he put it on the Mount Ginn event, ‘spitting the dummy’ over the condition of the track surface, even protesting the organisers conducting the Mt Ginn activity at all…he could do so as the Capri was comfortably in the lead at the time.

Based in Albury, on the New South Wales/Victorian border for several nights the car won the circuit events at Hume Weir, another lost circuit, and several nights of rallying. ‘The Capri was very quick on dirt surprising both (navigator) Garry Connelly who was doing the navigating and myself but it wasn’t to last’.

‘Apparently the wide Goodyear Ultragrips should have been fitted with tubes to give some protection against deflation over the rocky outcrops and we had tyre problems on one section. On another a rear coil spring became detached from its mountings and pierced a tyre. The final blow was hitting a rocky ridge in the middle of the dirt road with the front cross member and pushing the lot back out of alignment. ‘

‘No-one else had noticed the ridge, all driven safely over it as we had expected to do. In our jubilation after the wins at Hume Weir earlier in the day we had inadvertently forgotten to reset the ride height, consequently we were rallying with race track settings and it took the Ford boys a long time to straighten out the mess’.

rs 2600 warragul

This shot of the Capri being fuelled at Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria, en-route to Phillip Island shows the ‘fun of the fair’ and the interest in the cars during the events long trip from Queensland to Victoria. (motorsportarchive.com)

The Torana’s therefore skipped off into the distance. On the final leg towards Melbourne the Capri won a 20 lapper at Phillip Island, lapping the Torana’s, McKay finally able to use its ‘moonshot 5th gear’ on the Islands’ long main straight.

The event finished at Melbourne’s Dallas Brooks Hall, the two ‘works’ Holden Torana ‘LJ’ XU-1’s first and second from Stewart McLeod third, McKay and Connelly seventh in the exotic Cologne Capri.

The car does not seem to have been rallied again but passed into the hands of Melbournes’ Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter, a noted engineer/driver who mated the car with donor parts from the March 751 F5000 left in Australia by John Cannon, the engine, gearbox, suspension, and brakes all used in the cars conversion to a ‘Sports Sedan’, the March tub was attached to a VW transmission and sent to New Zealand to deal with the import duty issue which otherwise arose…

If memory serves the cars injected 5 litre Chev was later ‘twin-turboed’, if any reader knows of this RS2600’s ultimate destiny i am intrigued to know.

big_6184_N_Ritt_77

Ex McKay ‘Cologne Capri’ RS2600 after transformation into a ‘Sports Sedan’ by Graham Ritter in Melbourne. Sports Sedans in essence an unlimited Sedan class. Major mechanicals ex-John Cannon March F5000 car. 1977 Sandown Park. (oldracephotos)

1973 RCN cover

RCN’s January 1973 cover featured the ’72 Dulux Rally, cars featured the Bond Torana, Hermann 240Z and, hard to pick RS2600 night racing at Oran Park. (Stephen Dalton)

Moffats RS3100…

Alan Moffat made his name in Australia as one of our greatest touring car drivers but was born in Canada and emigrated to Australia with his father who was posted here for career reasons in the early 1960’s.

Moffat commenced racing in Australia in a Triumph TR3A and progressed to a Lotus Cortina bought from Team Lotus at the end of 1964, Moffat having worked with the team in the United States.

His racing of the Cortinas in both Australia and in the US is a story in itself, suffice it to say that at the end of 1967 he was competitive enough to be invited to join Ford’s KarKraft as a development driver.

moffat lotus cortina texas

Moffat in his ex Allan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina contesting the TransAm race at Green Valley, Texas in 1967. Aussie Lotus Cortina exponent Jim McKeown was assisting Moffat at this stage. (Jerry Melton)

Ford was fully committed to the TransAm Series to promote its image. It was a hotbed of competition with Shelby American representing Ford. Allan co-drove the first two rounds (Daytona 24-Hours, Sebring 12-Hours) of the 1968 Trans Am, with Horst Kwech, the car did not finish either race.

He returned to Australia to work for Bob Jane after Jane purchased a genuine 1968 ex Shelby Trans Am Mustang, Allan returned to Detroit in early 1969 and met with Jack Passino, Ford Racing Director who organised a brand new 1969 Trans-Am Boss Mustang.

Moffat brought the car to Australia and with support from Coca-Cola in one of the first commercial deals of its type in here and raced the car as a professional becoming one of the most iconic car/driver combinations in Australia.

Moffat and the Trans Am won 101 of its 157 starts but ironically not the coveted Australian Touring Car Championship for which it was intended, ATCC rule changes forced the Mustang into the Sports Sedan category. The Mustang was competitive but with new rule freedoms during 1974 wins became fewer, against the mid engined cars now being developed. Moffat, to his eternal credit chose not to ‘hack the car about’, one of only 7 genuine factory 1969 Trans Ams’…but he needed a competitive mount to replace the famous car. His immaculate Ford connections secured one of the works Capri RS3100’s at the end of Fords successful 1974 European Touring car championship campaign…

This is a slightly truncated version of Mark Oastlers tremendous article about the car in ‘Shannons’ magazine…if you have a hankering for Touring Cars its worth signing up to the Shannons site just to get access to Oastlers’ excellent articles, http://www.shannons.com.au/club/

moffat mustang

Moffat in his TransAm Mustang leads Bob Jane in the almost equally iconic Camaro, the latter powered by an aluminium big block Chev…and whether in 427 aluminium or 350 iron block usually had the legs on Moffats smaller, lighter and better handling Boss 302 Windsor  engined Mustang. Occasional 351 outings noted! Oran Park , Sydney circa 1971. (Unattributed)

Why Ford built the ultimate RS

‘The catalyst for creation of the RS 3100 was the 1973 ETCC, when BMW fended off a gallant season-long challenge by Ford’s less powerful RS 2600 Capris to win the prestigious title.

BMW had caught Ford by surprise that year by equipping its 3.5 litre CSL coupe with a huge boot-mounted inverted rear wing, made even more effective by a full-width scoop mounted along the rear edge of the roof to feed it clean air flow for maximum downforce. Not surprisingly, the big CSL coupe soon earned the nickname ‘Batmobile’!

Ford rightly figured that to overcome the CSL challenge in 1974, the Capri would firstly require more power. However, the RS 2600’s German 2.6 litre V6 engine, which had already been bored out to 2.9 litres capacity and was producing around 320 bhp, had reached the peak of its development.

By comparison, the capacity of BMW’s potent 3.0 litre in-line six had been increased to 3.5 litres under the FIA’s liberal Group 2 rules, providing a big power advantage over the Fords. The obvious answer was a switch to the larger capacity 3.1 litre British-built Essex V6 as used in UK-built Capris.

The CSL’s inverted rear wing also provided a considerable edge in traction and high speed stability so Ford had no choice but to join the aero wars with a large rear spoiler of its own. Wind tunnel and track testing of various designs proved how effective a large ducktail spoiler could be.

As a result, Ford committed to production of a ‘homologation special’ called the RS 3100 that would serve as the road-going production basis for its full-house Group 2 competition cars for the 1974 ETCC attack.

Built in a batch of 250 (the minimum number required for FIA homologation) the British-built RS 3100 came with front and rear spoilers and the 3091cc Essex V6. Use of this engine of course would allow the 1974 race car to increase its engine capacity to 3.5 litres to match the BMW.

The small batch of RS 3100 road cars went on public sale in November 1973 with FIA homologation approved on January 1, 1974. Surprisingly perhaps, these rare homologation cars proved hard to sell. Evidence of that fact is that 50 of the 250 built were shipped to Australia as late as June 1974 where they were eventually sold through selected Ford dealers.

ford gaa v6

Ford Cosworth GAA 3.4 litre DOHC, 4 valve fuel injected V6. Circa 420bhp @ 8500 rpm and 280 lb/ft of torque at 7000rpm. Cast iron block, aluminium Cosworth heads.

Cosworth to the rescue

Michael Kranefuss was the man in charge of Ford’s ETCC program. Given Ford’s long and successful association with Cosworth, in particular its 3.0 litre V8 DFV Formula One engine, he approached the Northhampton firm to design the new RS 3100 race engine. Initial discussions between Ford and Cosworth about this engine had started back in 1972.

The Group 2 rules required use of the manufacturer’s standard cylinder block, but a timely change that allowed use of alternative cylinder heads for 1974 left Cosworth with the task of designing new aluminium heads with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and an initial power target of 400-plus bhp.

The Cosworth GAA-V6 was designed by Keith Duckworth and Mike Hall, featuring cast aluminium heads that could be used on either bank. The four overhead camshafts operating 24 tiny valves were belt driven by toothed pulleys at the front of the engine, with one spark plug per cylinder and Lucas mechanical fuel injection.

Cosworth needed to increase the cylinder bore size of the Essex block, but wayward casting tolerances meant that few of these mass produced blocks survived the machining process.

It settled on 3412cc as the safe limit. Cosworth also beefed up the bottom end with rugged four-bolt main bearing caps.

In-house dyno testing of the new 3.4 litre GAA-V6 began late in 1973 and it produced 420 bhp straight up, instantly meeting Ford’s 400 bhp plus target. With on-going development these engines reached 450 bhp at a spine-tingling 8750 rpm.

The RS2600’s five-speed ZF gearbox was carried over and matched with a rugged Borg & Beck triple-plate clutch in a feather-weight magnesium bell housing.

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Ford Cosworth GAA V6 engine detail in Moffats restored car. (spooky21)

The RS 3100 Cologne Capris were built with a win-at-all-costs approach at Ford’s German competitions department in Cologne, under chief engineer Thomas Amerschlaeger. The exotic materials, quality of workmanship and attention to detail evident in the construction of these factory race cars was beyond belief.

The emphasis was on minimising weight, as the lightweight fiberglass doors, bonnets and boot lids used on the RS 2600 were no longer allowed and the new Essex V6 was slightly heavier than the German engine. This resulted in a 50 kg weight increase in the new cars, which would be offset somewhat by the more powerful 3.4 litre Cosworth engine.

They started with standard LHD steel body shells taken from the production line which were rumoured to have spent time in an acid bath to remove some excess metal before they arrived at the workshop.

Large aerodynamically shaped fiberglass wheel arch flares were installed at each corner to shroud huge wheels and tyres and lightweight laminated window glass was fitted throughout the cabin. The large front and rear spoilers, which under Group 2 rules had grown considerably from the road car versions on which they were based, were fitted front and rear.

The increased weight of the Essex V6 altered the car’s critical front to rear weight distribution, which Amerschlaeger’s team addressed by mounting the engine’s dry-sump lubrication oil tank and fuel injection pumps inside the boot area, where the battery and huge 120-litre long distance fuel tank also resided.

Oil cooling radiators for the gearbox and rear axle were also moved to the tail end and mounted directly behind the rear wheels, with oil circulation controlled by a pump driven directly by the tailshaft via a toothed belt and pulley arrangement. The engine oil cooling unit was mounted in the nose where it was fed fresh air through the grille.

The engineers also experimented with a rear-mounted engine radiator but found that there wasn’t sufficient air flow available because of the effectiveness of the huge front spoiler in stopping air from flowing under the car. Amerschlaeger eventually opted for twin side-mounted engine radiators mounted just ahead of the rear wheels.

sandown

Moffat hooks the Capri into ‘Shell Corner’ at Sandown showing the cars exotic bodywork, ducts, rear mounted radiators, LHD format. Superb. (Unattributed)

The standard dashboard pad and door trims had to be retained but the rest of the interior was stripped bare, leaving a full set of competition gauges, remote switch panels, massive roll cage, on-board fire extinguisher system plumbed to every corner of the car and lightweight Nomex covered driver’s seat.

To minimise weight, many suspension components were made from aluminium or magnesium.

Under Group 2, a touring car’s suspension had to keep its original ‘architecture’ so the RS 3100 was equipped with strengthened front suspension towers, Bilstein aluminium McPherson struts with gas-filled adjustable dampers, a wrist-thick anti-roll bar, magnesium hub carriers and solid aluminium replacing rubber in all suspension bushes.

Likewise the Capri’s live rear axle and leaf spring design had to be retained, but Ford got very creative in its rule interpretation. It complied by fitting leaf springs, but they were made from lightweight composite materials and had no springing function at all.

This was performed instead by big coil springs and adjustable gas-filled Bilstein shocks. Ford’s homologation paperwork stated that these coils were simply ‘additional springs’ and the FIA duly agreed!

The rear axle was located fore and aft by upper and lower trailing arms and laterally via a Watts linkage that also allowed adjustment of the car’s rear roll centre.

The brakes were huge with four wheel discs permitted under Group 2, even though the road car had rear drums. The ventilated front rotors measured 12 inches (305mm) in diameter and more more than 1.0-inch thick, clamped by powerful servo-assisted calipers.

The front brakes were also fitted with an automatic water cooling system connected to a large tank in the cockpit which could spray a fine mist onto the disc rotors to cool them down each time the brake pedal was pushed. The rear discs were slightly smaller 10.5 inch diameter units.

The racing wheels and tyres were enormous given the size and weight of the car, capable of generating such huge cornering forces that the works Capris were often seen in the ETCC cornering with their two inside wheels clear off the deck.

German BBS composite rims (magnesium centres with aluminium rims) were secured by a single central locking nut and fitted with tailor-made Dunlop tyres that measured a staggering 16 inches (405mm) wide at the rear and 12 inches (305mm) on the front.

With top shelf drivers the calibre of Niki Lauda, Jochen Mass, Toine Hezemans and Dieter Glemser on the team, Ford was ready for all-out war.

capri sandown

Alan Moffat again at Sandown upon the cars debut in Australia, February 1975. Car limited a bit by the use of locally mandated wheels of no greater than 10 inches in width. Cars lack of power and especially torque relative to local 5 and 6 litre opposition, torque important on our more ‘stop/start’ circuits rather than the fast, flowing circuits for which the car designed a disadvantage. (Robert Davies)

The 1974 ETCC

‘Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse for what promised to be the battle of all battles for the ETCC crown between Ford’s new RS 3100 Capris and BMW’s mighty CSL ‘Batmobiles’.

The world’s worsening energy crisis, which had been triggered by the Arab-Israel war, forced car companies to quickly change priorities in their marketing and product development strategies. Motor racing programs were hit particularly hard during this time, including Australia where Ford withdrew its factory support in January 1974.

Sadly BMW also began to scale down its racing activities during the ETCC which left easy wins to the new Capris at several rounds. Even so, despite these outright victories and the vast sums of money spent designing, building and developing the new RS 3100s, it was the German Zakspeed-prepared RS 1600 Ford Escorts which ended up winning the manufacturer’s title for Ford due to a points system that was heavily weighted in favour of smaller capacity cars.

The last time an RS 3100 Cologne Capri competed in full works guise was when Jochen Mass and Toine Hezemans were sent to Kyalami in South Africa to compete in a gruelling non-championship 9-Hour endurance race as part of the Springbok series that featured many sports cars. The Capri was fast and faultless again, winning the touring car class and finishing an outstanding fifth outright.

The same car – chassis number GA ECPY19999 – would not return to Germany after the race, though, as it was destined for a very different life in Australia.’

motor racing oz

The Moffat era

‘In late February 1975, GA ECPY19999 arrived at Allan Moffat Racing in Melbourne after being shipped directly from its last race as a works car in South Africa.

Although the stunning European thoroughbred won first time out at Sandown it soon became apparent that the Capri, which was built for long distance racing on high speed European tracks, was going to be doing it hard against lighter and more powerful V8 competition on Australia’s tighter tracks in short sprint races.

Its V6 engine just couldn’t match the explosive power and torque outputs of rival V8s. And it was restricted to the local maximum wheel width of 10 inches, which was a substantial drop in traction given the car was designed to race on massive 16-inch wide rears and 12-inch fronts in Europe.

It was also comparatively heavy given its touring car racing origins, competing against increasingly sophisticated purpose-built local designs that featured mid-mounted V8 engines, space-frame chassis, Formula 5000 suspension and featherweight composite body panels.

Moffat had his sights set on winning the inaugural Australian Sports Sedan Championship (ASSC) in 1976, so when it became clear he would need V8 power to do it he sourced a state-of-the-art DeKon Chevrolet Monza from the US. With 6 litre Chevrolet V8 power, it was immediately more than a match for the best sports sedans in the land.

Even so, the RS 3100 Capri still had an important role to play as the controversial Monza was sidelined midway through the ASSC due to questions over its eligibility. So while that was being sorted out, Moffat dusted off the Capri for two crucial rounds at Wanneroo in Perth (which he won) and A.I.R in Adelaide (where he came second). The Capri proved it was still highly competitive, effectively sealing the title for Moffat and finishing its Australian career on a high note.’

Moffat retained the car, as he did the Mustang for decades before finally selling it to a lucky collector in New Zealand.

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Another view of Moffats restored Capri in New Zealand. (spooky21)

The Kiwi Connection…

For the sake of completeness there were only two other, I think, ‘Cologne Capris’ which raced in Australia, both originated from the ‘other side of the ditch’, the colloquial name we Australasians give to the Tasman Sea, which separates Australia and New Zealand.

Grant Walker raced the ex-works RS2600 imported into New Zealand by Paul Fahey which won the NZ Touring Car Championship in 1975 converted to Cossie GAA power.

Don Halliday raced the GAA powered car he and his equally talented brother built up in NZ with many factory parts as well as local ingenuity.

Both scored points in the 1976 Australian Sports Sedan Championship, ironically won by Allan Moffat in the Chev Monza which replaced his Capri, as Mark Oastler points out above the Capri did play a vital role in that series victory.

The story of these cars is well told by Steven Holmes on his ‘The Roaring Season’, click on this link for an interesting read.

http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?1274-Article-Recreating-The-Halliday-Capri

Etcetera…

1975 Sandown Capri

 

Credits…

Robert Davies, Jerry Melton, autopics.com, spooky21, Green Machine, Bruno Betti, oldracephotos

‘David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce’ autobiography, Mark Oastler/Shannons for the RS3100 article, snooksmotorsport.com

The Roaring Season

Stephen Dalton for the research assistance and material