Each year one week before the Australian Grand Prix, the Victorian Historic Racing Register runs its Phillip Island Classic races. Cars entered ranged from 1920s grand prix cars to a 1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Above is a 1973-75 Falcon GT hardtop (with a reverse hood scoop that was homologated for racing a few years later), and an early 2nd-gen Camaro Z/28 (not sure what year) with a similar scoop.
But as well as a pretty incredible range of cars on track, there is plenty to see on the other side of the fence. I’ll start with this early “pre-A” Porsche 356, with the Continental badge indicating it is from 1955 – Ford quickly stopped the use of that nameplate.
This 1967 ZA model Ford Fairlane 500 is the first ‘local’ model, based on the second-generation Fairlane. It changed the face of the market and marked the beginning of the end of North-American Ford sedans in Australia. Standard engine was a 289, although a 200 six could also be had. The wide chrome 12-slot wheels, GT rear view mirror and shaker hood scoop were not standard on this model, and the shaker is sitting higher than factory so there may be something tasty under the bonnet here.
The Goggomobil Dart is an infamous car in Australia. Its initial impact as a bargain basement “sportscar” was not that great, as only 700 or so were built in 2 years from 1959-61. The Dart was based on the German microcar imported by Bill Buckle Motors in Sydney, with a locally-designed fibreglass body that was so low doors were not required. The car weighs just 345 kg / 760 lb, on a 71” wheelbase and 120” overall length.
The car was referenced in a well-known phone directory commercial in the 1980s and has been a ‘mascot’ for the Shannons auctioneers and insurance company. This is the interior of the Shannons car, best described as basic, and snug.
There were two engines available, either a 300 or 400 cc two-cylinder air-cooled two-stroke mounted in the rear, and dwarfed by its battery! Suspension is fairly rudimentary, and wheels are a tiny 10” diameter. I wonder how far the silver car was driven to the race track?
There are a lot of car club displays, such as these Holden Dealer Team Commodores, which were built by Peter Brock’s company. Both the cars above appear to be SS Group 3 models, which started as homologation models for touring car racing, although they have features such as reverse bonnet scoops and wind splits on the top of the front guards that did not feature on the race cars. They are powered by a Holden 308 ci V8.
Opposite were a nice pair of Fiat X1/9s, that look like they would be a lot of fun to go and find some winding roads with.
Alongside was one of the later Fiats sold in Australia, the Regata sedan, together with a 127 hatch. Having said how rare the 127’s are in my previous post from the Lancia show, this isn’t the same car!
The 1976-79 P6 LTD was Ford’s flagship in Australia, and the longest ever Falcon-based car with its double-stretch 120” wheelbase. This was 5” more than the ‘normal’ Fairlane, which itself was 5” more than the Falcon. The LTD was well-equipped with a pretty lavish interior and an imposing exterior, and I have vague memories of one my aunt & uncle owned.
It seems that any decent-size car show has an XY Falcon GT, but one like this unrestored example is extremely rare. The colour Wild Violet is rare too – just 15 GTs came out of the factory in this colour (of 1557 total). For a long time they would be routinely repainted in a ‘cooler’ colour, but the last 15 years has seen their desirability skyrocket. This car has the Saddle tan vinyl which was less common with Wild Violet than whiten, and also has a 4-speed to make the most of the 300 hp & 380 ft-lb from the 351 Cleveland that lives under the Shaker scoop.
This Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 is the right era to have been racing at Philip Island, back when the Australian Grand Prix was held on a public road course on the island 90 years ago, but I don’t believe any actually competed.
Here is the heart of the machine, a DOHC six-cylinder of just 1750 cc (helped by a supercharger hiding behind the radiator), designed by the legendary Vittorio Jano.
Nearby were a pair of Jaguars, a 1955 Mark VIIM and a series 1 XJ6 (1968-70?). It is interesting to compare the rather formal Mk VIIM, which still had styling clinging to themes from the 1930s, and much sleeker XJ6 which would remain the template for Jaguars for another 40 years?
Another landmark Jaguar was the SS100. There aren’t that many cars that inspire replicas, are there? Never mind that they weren’t always that well executed, if I’m thinking of the Beetle-based ones.
As a change of pace, here is a Mark 2 Ford Escort panel van. It was for sale, and the $15k asking price is undoubtedly optimistic but perhaps a reflection on the rarity of these vans particularly in this condition.
For something more recent, here is a 2010 Holden Commodore SS wagon. No doubt you have spotted the Pontiac front end; for some reason (!) Holden had a few spare for a limited edition run that saved owners doing their own conversion. I understand that the wagon variant was only approved (it was introduced a full 2 years after the sedan) on the basis it would also be exported to the US – oops!
Going classical again, here is a Lancia Appia sedan and Fulvia Sport Zagato. The colours are reflective of the cars’ eras too, a plain grey for the mid-50s Appia versus metallic silver for the late-60s Fulvia Zagato.
Here’s a challenging game; guess the age of the Morgan! The 4/4 debuted in 1955, and has been produced ever since. This may be the Plus 4 version, I’m not sure. The registration number gives a pretty good clue here – would you believe 2012?
Another car that would have been at home on the track was this 1936 Delage D6-70 that came driving in mid-morning. This has a 2.7-litre 6-cylinder engine which would make around 130 hp, and the type had some racing success in the late 1930’s. It certainly looks the part!
The early-90’s Alfa Romeo RZ is a very rare machine, with just 284 built from 1992 to 1994 by Zagato including a few built the receiver after Zagato went under! It is one of the more striking designs ever put on sale, and perhaps the shoulder-level window line is less unusual these days? The RZ had a 3.0 V6 driving the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transaxle.
I’m going to guess this Plymouth Barracuda is a 1968 based on the presence of marker lights. Other than a V8 badge on the flank, I’m not sure what trim/powertrain this is, possibly the new-for-1968 318, but it sure does look nice! Quite reminiscent of the later local Valiant Charger actually.
To delve heavily into the “something different” file, here we have a 2010 Bolwell Nagari and a 1971 Mazda Cosmos, of course powered by the 10A rotary. The Bolwell is a revival from the local sports car manufacturer after almost two decades absence (the parent company is still very active in plastics and composite manufacturing), and has mid-mounted Toyota V6 power. With just 990 kg / 2200 lb to propel it is pretty rapid, but a shame that the design is not as beautiful as the original Nagari – I don’t believe that many have been built.
Car clubs form a strong part of the displays at the Philip Island Classic, and the Mazda club was represented by a 323 GTX and 1989 MX-5.
I’ve seen this 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL convertible around before, and the colour is something special – Sahara Rose from what I can tell.
From the letter M section, a Mercedes-Benz 220S Cabrio and a no-less-loved Morris Minor 1000.
This Daimler from around 1910 was getting a lot of attention! Of course having the bonnet open helps, so let’s take a look…
How about this, a 4-cylinder engine cast as two pairs of cylinders. Daimlers of this era had sleeve-valves, and depending on model 80 or 96 hp from what I can tell. Don’t miss the polished brass water pump, or the fins on the radiator tank that would linger as a styling feature when Daimlers were re-badged Jaguars.
Crossing over to the infield portion of the grounds, I’ll cheat slightly with one of the cars racing – this 1936 ERA R5B which was originally owned by Prince Bira of Siam (now Thailand), which is why it is painted the light blue colour. It has a supercharged 1.5-litre 6-cylinder which had high-mounted camshafts activating push rods, rather the overhead cams suggested by its appearance. This was one of the international cars featured at the meeting.
This 1962 Chevrolet Impala is pretty famous, having won 70% of the races it entered in 1962 including two state championships. It is believed to be the only 4-door equipped with a dual-quad 435 hp 409, because the local touring car regulations required 4-doors. Original driver Norm Beechey rediscovered the car many years later and has restored it.
Here is a 1928 Stutz (boat-tail speedster) with a 5-litre straight eight. It is a regular in the Regularity class that aims for consistent lap times rather than outright speed, with less arduous licensing and technical requirements that see some cars on track that owners would not race.
I’m not sure if this Ford F350 was an original race transporter or a tribute, but it is nicely done. The livery matches that of the 1982 Bob Morris/John Fitzpatrick Ford Falcon that was crashed heavily in the final practice session before the Bathurst 1000 that year, and missed the race.
This is a 2004 Ford Falcon XR8 pulling a 1972-ish Holden Torana GTR-XU1, which will be within its 2300 kg towing capacity. Depending on where in New South Wales it calls home, it has 300 miles or considerably more to travel.
This 1978 Holden Torana SS A9X hatchback has a unique history, being built up from one of a limited run of lightweight bodyshells produced for race teams, but which never found its way onto the track.
I didn’t take many photos in the non-club or public parking area this year, because most of the cars were not uncommon – from Australian eyes at least. Plus a single day is not really enough to tour the pits, display areas and car park as well as watch the racing! This is a 1969 (XW model) Ford Fairmont, the top trim level of the Falcon, excluding the long-wheelbase Fairlane that is. This car is Vintage Burgundy in colour, and looks pretty original other than the driving lights, tailpipe and of course the Centreline wheels – I don’t recognise the car but it looks like a street & strip setup, and there are a few around that run in the 11-12 second range for the quarter mile without significant visible modifications. Note the MG, Jaguar and Triumphs in the background.
I’ll finish with this 1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R, which is the road-going base for the Group A touring car that I mentioned at the beginning (#14 GIO-sponsored GT-R that won the 1991 Sandown 500 by 6 laps). This one looks to have a Veilside kit, whch is one of the more outlandish available, and is a JDM import built after the small run of Australian-delivered cars.