Supercar scare

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Supercar scare was a national controversy that arose in 1972 in regard to the sale to the public of high performance "race homologation" versions of Australian-built passenger cars.

The cause of the controversy was an article published in the Sun Herald newspaper [1] on 25 June 1972.[2] Written by Evan Green and entitled "160 MPH 'Super Cars' Soon", it claimed that Australia's three major carmakers, General Motors-Holden's, Ford Australia and Chrysler Australia were each about to produce new models, based on family saloons but with top speeds of 160 miles per hour [3] (approximately 260 kilometres per hour). The intent by each manufacturer was to sell at least 200 units of their respective models to the public, thus making them eligible for the Hardie-Ferodo 500, a major motor race held at Bathurst,[3] and a forerunner to the current "Bathurst 1000" event. The proposed models were a five litre V8 engined version of the six cylinder Holden Torana GTR XU-1, a 380 bhp Ford Falcon GTHO Phase Four and an uprated version of the Chrysler Valiant Charger fitted with a 300 bhp six cylinder engine.[3] The article quoted New South Wales Transport Minister Milton Morris as saying that he was appalled at these cars being sold to ordinary motorists and that "if manufacturers are making these supercars available to the general public because this is a condition of eligibility for the Bathurst 500, then I think it is imperative that race organisers closely examine their rules."[3] Green went on to say that the models would introduce new standards of handling and control in Australian high performance cars and he quoted Holden Dealer Team manager Harry Firth as saying that the proposed Torana V8 model would be "the best handling, safest car on the road."[3]

On the following Wednesday Mr Morris said he would "seek a national ban on such cars"[4] and the following day the Queensland Minister of Transport, Mr Hooper joined in calling for a "national ban on the registration of popular make high-performance cars capable of speeds in excess of 130 mph".[4] In another announcement on that Thursday, Mr D Thomson, secretary of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, stated that regulations would be changed to discontinue all "series production car" races and allow manufacturers to race specially modified race vehicles derived from a production vehicle.[5] Thomson also said that the Bathurst 500 "had created large problems, one of the greatest of which was the marketing of the 'super-cars'".[5]

On Friday, 30 June, a spokesman for General Motors-Holden's announced that the company had abandoned its plans to build and race a V8 powered Torana "because of concern expressed by government leaders".[6] On the same day a spokesman for the Ford Motor Company stated that "We are considering the situation" and a spokesman for Chrysler Australia Ltd claimed that "The Charger R/T is not a super-car".[6] The following day Ford announced that it would not continue with production of its GTHO and that the company would seek Government guidelines for the production of performance cars.[7] On the same day Chrysler said that it had abandoned development of a V8 competition version of the Charger R/T and that it would "withdraw from "direct participation" in series production racing, including the Bathurst 500." Chrysler reported that the V8 Charger was not intended for the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500, though factory backed race drivers Leo and Pete Geoghegan did test a ute fitted with a 5.6 litre 340ci V8 and with the R/T Charger's wheelbase at the Mallala circuit in South Australia. The racing brothers reported that the extra weight of the V8 gave the car severe understeer and required earlier brake points. As a result lap times were around 2-3 seconds slower than when the car was fitted with the Hemi six, though it was expected that the long straights and more open nature of the Mount Panorama Circuit would better suit the V8 engined car.[7]

The Ford Falcon GTHO Phase IV was a casualty of the "Supercar scare"


References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill Tuckey, Australia's Greatest Motor Race, 1981, page 162
  2. ^ John Wright, Classic metal: Holden EH S4 Retrieved from www.uniquecarsmag.com.au on 21 January 2012
  3. ^ a b c d e Evan Green, "160 MPH 'Super Cars' Soon," The Sun Herald, Sunday 25 June 1972, pages 1 & 19
  4. ^ a b Qld joins bid to ban fast cars, The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday, 30 June 1972, page 3
  5. ^ a b 'Super-car' era to end soon, The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday, 30 June 1972
  6. ^ a b GM-H quits power race, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 1972, page 1
  7. ^ a b Evan Green and Peter Allen, 'Big Three' all drop high-speed supercar plans, The Sun Herald, July 2, 1972, page 3 & 27.