Historic Group A & C at the Australian Grand Prix

For my last post from the Australian Grand Prix, I’ll take a look at the historic Group A & C class. It’s worth noting that to participate in this class, the car has to have actual log booked race history. Even though they were racing door-to-door, all of these cars are the real deal and most of them have genuine Bathurst history. There are no replicas here.

In my opinion, these cars are straight from the glory days of Australian touring car racing – the mid to late 1980’s. In the era immediately before the introduction of the V8 Supercar category, the best way to win at Bathurst was to get the fastest car possible from Europe, hire the best gun drivers possible and go for it. It also helped that the Bathurst 1000 was a round of the World Touring Car Championship, so the best teams and drivers from Europe made their way to our humble shores each year. The cars and drivers we dream about today were actually here and racing on Aussie soil. I was born in 1988, so I’m a little bummed that I missed witnessing this era in person. It must have been amazing.

We’re actually very lucky that a lot of these historically important cars are still here. The last three rounds of the WTCC were Bathurst, Calder and Wellington (NZ), so at the end of the year it made financial sense for the teams to sell the cars here, rather than go to the expense of transporting them back to Europe for sale.

There was a huge field at the AGP, so I’ve picked out a few of the cars that I think will be of particular interest. 

This is the actual Jaguar XJS V12 that Armin Hahne and John Goss drove to victory in the 1985 Bathurst 1000. Before it came to Australia it had an extensive race history in Europe, including wins at Donnington, Sicily, Salzburg Ring and the Spa 24hr. It finished 2nd in Brno and at Macau, 5th at the Nurburgring before it’s 1985 Bathurst win, and then went on to compete at Fuji in Japan and Wellington in New Zealand.

This video is actually of the 1985 sister car driven by Tom Walkinshaw, but his pole position qualifying lap is surely one of the all time great automotive videos. Just listen to it down conrod straight, it sounds superb. It’s feels strange to see a lap of Bathurst before the chase existed.

I wonder how one goes about finding a genuine set of TWR centrelock Speedline rims?

Or a TWR steering wheel for that matter. If it could speak, I wonder what incredible stories this wheel could tell.

In real life it sounds exactly as it does in that YouTube clip – loud, unmuffled and raw.

This Sierra Cosworth was driven in the British Touring Car Championship by Damon Hill.

I love those centrelock BBS rims.

This was cutting edge safety back then, but that cage looks rather primitive by today’s standards.

Moments in time, everywhere you looked.

This Group A E30 M3 is one of the BMW Motorsport/Schnitzer Team factory cars used by Roberto Ravaglia & BMW to win the 1987 World Touring Car Championship. This actual chassis was entered in the Nurburgring, Spa 24hrs, Brno, Silverstone 500 TT and the Bathurst 1000.

I know a lot of readers are dedicated BMW fans, some of whom race E30’s, so for their benefit the specs of this car are: BMW S14 engine, capacity 2330cc, fuel injected, approx 300hp @ 8000rpm. 5 speed BMW Motorsport close ratio Getrag ‘dogleg’ gearbox, LSD with 75% lockup. Fully adjustable BMW Motorsport/Bilstein alloy front struts and coilover rears. 330x32mm Brembo front brakes, 280x22mm AP racing rear vented discs. 9×17″ BBS 3-piece rims with magnesium centres. Homologated weight: 960kg.

The JPS E30 M3 was also there. I apologies for not getting better photos of these cars, the conditions were terrible for photos and the cars were naturally being swamped with people.

This is really not a very good photo but there’s so much win right here that it’s worth posting anyway.

Jim Richards was driving this 635csi Group A.

I would have thought that placing the oil cooler there would make it susceptible to damage from other cars, but I guess it worked so well with the amount of airflow there.

George Fury has to have just about the coolest name in Australian motorsport.

This Alfa Romeo GTV6 was built by the factory to full Group A specs, and was driven to an incredible 8th place finish in the 1985 race by Colin Bond.

The infamous GIO Skyline R32 GTR. I found it really interesting that it sounded nothing like the ’32 GTR’s you see these days – maybe a completely different exhaust design? Or maybe the passage of technological development on the RB26 has come so far since then.

Mark Skaife’s R31 was also out, as was the older R30 model. The FJ30 in the R30 sounded fantastic on full song, and spat the most fiery flames out the pipe every lap without fail.

Not to mention the crew, who were all wearing this vintage Nissan Motorsports uniform.

The racing wasn’t exactly desperate, but they weren’t hanging around either. Good, close, clean racing was the order of the day and it was great fun to watch.

I love the 70’s branding on some of the Aussie cars.

And the wheel designs too, from an era when everyone was trying to get a competitive edge in the fledgling world of aerodynamics. These brake cooling vanes look almost homemade.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage from the Australian Grand Prix. I’ve got a lot of material that I haven’t posted, so send me an email if there’s anything you’d particularly like to see.


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