Peter Wherrett

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

Peter Wherrett (9 June 1936 – 23 March 2009) was an Australian motoring and motor sport journalist and race car driver.[1]

Wherrett was born in Marrickville, New South Wales. He learned to drive when his parents got their first motor car when he was twelve.[2] Angry at the lack of motorsport performance in his family car, he complained to various newspapers and was hired in 1958 by The Sydney Morning Herald to write for them on the sport.[2]

Wherrett was best known as the presenter and co-writer of Torque, a popular motoring television show from 1973 to 1980.[2][3]

Advanced driver training[edit]

In 1967, Peter Wherrett set up Australia’s first post-license driver training school as "Peter Wherrett Advanced Driving". In 1980 he sold the school to his manager Peter Finlay.[4]

Motor racing[edit]

Peter Wherrett drove Bathurst in a 1969 Mazda, in 1970 in a Ford and in 1974, 1975 and 1976 in Alfa Romeos.


From 1973, Peter Wherrett presented the ABC TV program series Torque and later a historical series called Marque, which is the only television program on that topic to be produced for free-to-air television.[2] During the 1980s he explored the need to explore alternative energy sources in the series The Balance of Power. He also served as the motoring guru in the Channel Ten infotainment production Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, which aired from 1991 to 1999.

In 1974, Wherrett courted controversy on Torque, after he raised issues about the rear braking on the HJ model Holden Kingswood.[5]

Wherrett was also a pit reporter for Channel 7's coverage of the 1983 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst.

Wherrett Sigma[edit]

In 1981, Mitsubishi Australia produced a limited edition "Peter Wherrett Special" GH Series Sigma sedan. Only 1016 cars were produced, which were commissioned after Wherrett complained about the GH Sigma's terrible performance and handling and was challenged to design a better car by the Mitsubishi Chief Engineer in Japan.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Peter Wherrett was married and divorced three times. His first marriage was to Denise Wirth. They had a son, Steven, and a daughter, Jane, and had six grandchildren. His second marriage was to Lesley Brydon, former Executive Director of the Advertising Federation of Australia. His third marriage was to Kim Mathers. When Kim obtained employment in Europe as a chef, Wherrett remained in Australia. Because of their physical separation, they decided to divorce amicably in 2006. Following that divorce, Peter sold the house that they had shared in Queensland and moved to Lake Macquarie in New South Wales.[7]

In 1985, Peter was caught driving a Mitsubishi Sigma while under the influence of alcohol. A second driving incident attracted another sensational round of publicity.

Peter Wherrett wrote a memoir entitled Desirelines with his brother Richard, who died in 2001.[8] The book recounted Peter's interest in cross-dressing.[8] As a child, Peter discovered their mother being abused by their father which led to an "empathy for his mother as an abused wife, and passion for women generally".[9] He later discovered his father was also a cross-dresser and consulted a psychiatrist who said that Peter's behaviour was obsessive but harmless.[9] Peter went on to write The Gender Trap which examined the "compulsive nature of cross-dressing".[9]

After Wherrett and Mathers separated in 2006, Peter went to live as a woman, Pip Wilson, at Lake Macquarie.[9] Peter lived as a woman for the last two years of their life, and they described this as "my last great achievement".[10] Wherrett died in 2009 from prostate cancer.


  • Peter Wherrett's A Century Of The Motor Car
  • Marque a Hundred Years of Motoring ISBN 978-0-642-97460-0
  • Torque ISBN 978-0-7254-0383-6
  • Quest for the Perfect Car : My Life in Motoring
  • Motoring Skills and Tactics
  • Explore Australia BY Four-Wheel Drive with Kim Wherrett
  • What They Don't Teach You In Driving School ISBN 978-1-920923-40-2
  • Grit: An Epic Journey Across the World - the story of Francis Birtles epic 1927 journey. ISBN 978-1-920923-62-4
  • Wheels of Australia (editor)
  • Drive It! The Complete Book of High Speed Driving On Road And Track (1981)
  • "Desirelines: an unusual family Memoir" (1997) with Richard Wherrett. ISBN 0-7336-0485-4


  1. ^ "Motoring journalist Wherrett dies". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
  2. ^ a b c d "ABC interview with George Negus". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 August 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  3. ^ "Australian Screen - Torque". Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  4. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  5. ^ Unique Cars - Feature: 40 years of the mighty HQ
  6. ^ "'Torque' of The Auction". 3 June 2004. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  7. ^ "Peter Wherrett: a larger-than-life personality on life's long road".
  8. ^ a b Wherrett, Peter and Richard, Desirelines: An unusual family memoir, (Sceptre, 1997), ISBN 0-7336-0485-4
  9. ^ a b c d Stephens, Tony (25 March 2009). "A passion for cars and women: Peter Wherrett, 1936-2009". Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. ^ "Obituary - Pip Wilson (Peter Wherrett)". Seahorse Society of NSW. Retrieved 2010-01-06.

External links[edit]