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.
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 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.
Not to mention the crew, who were all wearing this vintage Nissan Motorsports uniform.
#Albert Park #Alfa Romeo #Australian Grand Prix #Bathurst #BMW #E30 #Ford #GTR #Jaguar #M3 #Nissan #R32 #Schnitzer #Skyline #World Touring Car Championship #XJS