The owner of the York Motor Museum, Peter Briggs, today announced that he has placed his iconic Torana race car to auction on 28 May 2017 at the Mossgreen Auction in Sydney.
He said he thought the car could fetch a million dollars and the time was ripe to sell.
“I’ve owned the car for almost 40 years and it is time to pass it on to another enthusiastic owner,” he said. “With the demise of Holden manufacturing in Australia it is clear that Australian car collectors are keen to snap up the great cars from our motoring history — and this is certainly just such a car.”
This Torana A9X was raced for three years by the Ron Hodgson Team in the Australian Touring Car Championship. It was one of 10 bare shells supplied by Holden to be prepared for racing.
The car delivered Bob Morris a second place only to the great Peter Brock in 1978, and helped Bob Morris win the championship in 1979. It was the first time in the Australian Touring Car Championship that a private team had beaten a factory team of the same cars.
This car, a Torana A9X (a factory code for a particular option combination) was built by Ron Missen for the Ron Hodgson Team to be driven in the 1977 Bathurst race by American Johnny Rutherford (Indianapolis 500 winner in 1974 and 1976) partnered by Janet Guthrie — the first woman to race at Indianapolis. The bare body shell was provided from the Holden spare parts division with all non-essential parts deleted and no sound deadening.
The partnership was, however, slower in practice than their Australian team-mates and during the race, Rutherford collided with another car and retired on lap 13 without Janet Guthrie getting a drive. Officially, they completed lap 13 and were ranked 57th. The car’s offside guard and doors was damaged and the steering damaged. This was one of the great races where Allan Moffat and Jackie Ickx won in a Falcon GT with their team mates of Colin Bond and Alan Hamilton second.
At Bathurst in 1978 the car was driven in the Hardie-Ferodo by Bob Morris, again partnered by John Fitzpatrick with a sister car being driven by Derek Bell and Dieter Quester. On the first day’s practice, Morris was fastest, on a lap of 2.17.7, followed by Moffat in a Cobra, on 2.22.3. The last official practice in the rain saw Peter Brock in a Torana on 2.20.065 first and Morris fourth, on 2.21.776. In the race, the Bell/Quester car retired when a tyre failure caused their car to slam into a fence, on lap five. Unfortunately for its sponsor, Ron Hodgson, the Morris/Fitzpatrick car eventually retired after 73 laps, with a suspected broken camshaft drive after being as high as third.
The CAMS logbook, however, has the damage to the Derek Bell/Dieter Quester car listed: “Extensive damage O/S/F sub frame upper & lower wishbone upright & caliper”. This suggests that Bell and Quester were actually driving this car, and not the sister car.
Derek Bell is well known as a sports car driver, winning the Le Mans 24 hours five times, the Daytona 24 three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice. He also raced in Formula One for the Ferrari, Wheatcroft, McLaren, Surtees and Tecno teams. Dieter Quester was an accomplished race driver from Austria (and current European touring car champion) who raced BMWs in Europe and one grand prix race.
Bob Morris came second in the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1978, second only to Peter Brock driving the Holden Dealer Team Toranas, only two points ahead. At the end of the year Peter Molloy was appointed team manager. An accomplished race engine builder, he instituted a comprehensive development plan to challenge the Holden Deal Team in 1979 and Bob Morris was immediately successful.
The Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) ran its AMSCAR sprint series in parallel with the Australian Touring Car Championship, Bob Morris won the series in 1979 driving the Torana, winning at Oran Park on 25 February, and at Amaroo Park on 11 March 1979 and 14 April 1979.
He raced the car to a win again at the Australian Touring Car Championship Round 3 at Oran Park on 25 March 1979. For the remainder of the season he used the other team car. Bob Morris was crowned Australian Touring Car Champion at the end of the season, beating the Holden factory team.
According to the CAMS log book, the Amstar race was its last outing in Bob Morris’ Ron Hodgson Racing Team. The car was purchased by Peter Briggs, raced a few times at Wanneroo Raceway near Perth and then placed on display at the York Motor Museum.
The York tourist landmark opened in 1979 and the car has been a major attraction at the museum ever since except for a period where the car was placed on display at the Fremantle Motor Museum.