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61  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 04:30:41 PM
In 1972, Bob Jane was already looking to replace his ZL1 Camaro, and had a Holden HQ Monaro built. As he owned a General Motors Dealership and Holden was the Australian branch of General Motors, it made sense from a marketing perspective to be racing a local product. The HQ Monaro was fitted with coil-springs on the rear, but otherwise was similar in many ways to the Camaro, and could be fitted with a small block Chevy, as the biggest engine available for the car was a 350 Chev.

The small block Chevy was built by Al Bartz, with Warren Brownfield alloy heads. John Sheppard, who was a Jane employee built for car for Bob Jane, then fitted a self-modified Lucas mechanical fuel injection system, and was getting 600hp.

The Monaro made its debut in 1972, driven by John Harvey, while Bob Jane himself continued to drive his Camaro until the Monaro was fully sorted. Bob Jane raced the car until the end of the 1977 season. Here he is chasing another Monaro at Calder Park, this being Pete Geoghegans car, which was also fitted with a fuel injected small block Chevy, and Ford GT40 wheels!

Some video footage of the Geoghegan Monaro in its second season with ugly widened bodywork and racing against Allan Moffats DeKon Monza can be viewed here:

Note in the footage, Jim Smith is shown racing the old Bob Jane Camaro in mid field, as is John Pollard, racing the ex Frank Gardner SCA Freight Camaro which I'll cover also.

Anyway, I promise this will be the last post on non-Camaros.

62  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 04:04:32 PM
Of all the Camaro's that raced down-under, this car was the most successful. It was built up for Bob Jane from a genuine 1969 ZL1, to compete in the Australian Touring Car Championship. The ATCC at the time had a maximum engine size limit of 7,000cc, so Jane was able to run the car with the alloy 427. The car took a full year to build, and made its ATCC debut in 1971. Jane is a very successful businessman who at the time owned the largest General Motors dealership in the Southern Hemisphere, and his nationwide tire chain called Bob Jane T-Marts.

He'd raced a succession of Mustangs in the ATCC but hadn't achieved the success he'd hoped with these, so set about building this car. Bob had close ties with the McLaren racing team, who provided info to help with the rollcage construction and suspension. The plan had been to fit fuel-injection as the Mclaren Can-Am cars were running at the time, but the project was running late for the opening round of the '71 ATCC, and so a big 1180cfm Holley was fitted to the top of the 427. But Bob put the car on pole in the opening round of the ATCC, even though he placed 2nd in the race behind Allan Moffats Kar-Kraft Boss Mustang in wet conditions. The team realised then the single Holley should be up to the job.

I'm unsure of power figures, but John Sawyer, who oversaw the build of the car, said it had upward of 600hp. The real problem the team had was holding gearboxes together, as the Muncie M-21 and M-22 casings kept breaking under the load. So a steel casing was fabricated, then sand blasted and anodised to look like it was alloy, and this worked well. The rear end was a full-floating 12-bolt and Watts-linkage. Wheels were 15" x 10" Minilites.

Jane narrowly won the '71 ATCc with this car from Moffats Mustang, then the Confederation for Australian Motorsports (CAMS) imposed a 6,000cc engine limit for 1972, so the 427 was pulled and replaced with a small block. With this fitted, Jane won the ATCC again in '72. Jane used to regularly rev it to 9,000rpm, so it was a strong little engine.

It was sold to Jim Smith in 1973, but never enjoyed much success again as a road race car, and was eventually converted into a drag car. It was bought back by Bob Jane several years ago and restored by Myles Johnson. More info on the restoration can be found here:

63  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: August 01, 2011, 03:16:14 PM
Thanks again for your compliments Jon, very much appreciated.
64  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: ZL1 CAMARO SCCA ? on: August 01, 2011, 03:15:35 PM
Yes Jon, Bob drove the drag car. He liked to be involved with the drag racing side of Calder Park. He had an HQ Monaro built in 1972 to replace his orange ZL1 and he sometimes did a bit of drag racing with this car also from time to time, even though it was a road race car.
65  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 30, 2011, 06:45:19 PM
Jon, thanks so much for your kind words about The Roaring Season. Yes, there was a lot of hard work involved, and still is, as there would have been with you creating this amazing forum you have here. But the hard work is all worth it when new people join the forum and contribute their own stories and photos. I worry sometimes people think its a New Zealand forum, when my intention is that it be international, but its only been running for 3 months, and a large number of the members are Kiwis, so it may give that impression. I'm very pleased in that members of the forum are now organising their own Roaring Season get-togethers, at certain venues in NZ and Australia, where they can meet up and shoot the breeze. I always intended that it be a community, so this is very encouraging.

Re the Beechey Monaro, yes it is impressive how subtle they were able to keep the flares. The Australian regulations at the time were quite strict, in that the shape of the production vehicle had to be retained as much as possible. 1970 was the first year teams were allowed to fit 10" wide wheels. Prior to that it was 8", same as the Trans-Am.

Beechey used two different gearboxes in the Monaro, depending on which track he was racing at. He had a close-ratio Muncie, and a Saginaw. The Saginaw really only retained the Saginaw casing. Inside was a set of straight cut gears machined by Australian gearbox specialist Peter Hollinger. Hollinger created a very tall 3rd gear so Beechey could by-pass some gears on certain tracks. On the top of the gear lever Beechey had a small trigger hand throttle device linked to the carbs. On down changes he would blip the hand throttle, rather than having to heel-toe, as he felt this set-up was more sensitive than the traditional heel-toe.

The rear end was a full-floating custom made 12-bolt with additional GM clutch plates and factory heavy-duty sprint pack. The axles were 30-spline custom made steel billet.

This was a very trick car for its day.  
66  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: ZL1 CAMARO SCCA ? on: July 30, 2011, 06:24:10 PM
Guys, Bob Jane purchased two new ZL1 Camaros in 1969. One was an orange manual car (VIN 610732) the other a blue auto (VIN 620934). Bob Jane owns a race track in Melbourne, Australia, called Calder Park. Calder has a very long front straight that doubles as a drag strip when not being used as a road race track.

The orange Camaro was stripped and built into a road race car utilising the alloy big block. Jane raced this car in the 1971 and '72 Australian Touring Car Championship, winning the championship on both occasions. But it only raced with the 427 in 1971, as the Confederation for Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) placed a 6,000cc engine limit for 1972, so Jane pulled the 427 and fitted a 350. The 427 was sold to Frank Gardner, for a 2nd generation Camaro he raced in Europe sponsored by SCA Freight.

The blue Camaro was built up for drag racing, and Jane raced this at his Calder Park drag strip. Jane raced it with the 427 for a couple of years, then pulled that out, and replaced it with a small block. However, Jane kept the 427. The orange road race car was sold in 1973, and I think the blue drag car was sold the same year. It was eventually converted for road use, and was involved in a collision on the road in the 1980s, stripped of its salvagable parts, and the rest was scrapped.

The orange race car was road raced by Jim Smith for a few seasons, then sold a couple more times, then bought by a fellow named Mike Tydell, who converted it for drag racing. When Bob Jane eventually bought the car back, it was in poor shape, as can be seen in the thread Jon has posted above on its restoration. But it has now been restored back to its 1971 guise by Myles Johnson. The engine fitted when the car was restored was that originally fitted to the blue drag car, when Jane had kept.

Hope that clears things up slightly?
67  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 28, 2011, 03:37:08 PM
OK, not a Camaro, but something you might find of interest. This is a 1970 Holden Monaro HT GTS350. Holden is the Australian arm of General Motors, and Holden Monaro's were designed and built in Australia, and sold throughout Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Their underpinnings were similar to those on American GM cars, mostly the Nova and Camaro. They were made available with several different engine options, beginning with a 6-cylinder, but, importantly, they were also available with a small block Chevy V8. Initially a 327, then, from mid-1969, a 350.

Norm Beechey had this particular car built, with support from Holden. Beechey was a flamboyant driver and a real hard-charger. He won the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1965, with the first Mustang to race in Australasia. This was replaced by a gorgeous Chevy Nova. In 1968, he briefly raced a Camaro, then built an earlier HK GTS327 Monaro for 1969, before this car was built.

It was a big-budget car for its time. It was lightened as much as possible, fitted with 15" x 10" Minilites, and the 350 was fitted with four 58mm side-draught Webers. Beechey used this car to win the 1970 Australian Touring Car Championship (the Australian equivilent of the Trans-Am). Fortunately, after Beechey sold the car in 1973, it wasn't chopped up and remained largely intact for much of its life, and has now been restored as below.

68  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 28, 2011, 03:16:07 PM
Yes, I agree Jon, a shame nobody got Terry Allan's story when they could. The interest in these types of cars in Australia is a relatively recent thing, believe it or not. Its probably only been the last 10 years that interest has grown from a very small core of historic enthusiasts, to becoming more widespread. The media, through specialist magazines, has been the real catalyst for the education and interest in touring car history in this part of the world. And, of course, it starts at the top, with the more celebrated, more successful cars, and filters down to those that didn't enjoy as much success. 

Terry Allan's Camaro probably falls into the latter category, as although it was the first Camaro to race anywhere in Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), and although it gathered plenty of interest when it made its race debut, it didn't enjoy a very successful career. Big block race cars just weren't agile enough to be able to outrun small block cars, despite their power advantage. In fact, Terry Allan was interviewed on one of the 3 occasions he raced the car in New Zealand, and said he was considering fitting the car with a small block. But he sold the car shortly afterwards.

Also, Terry Allan himself was an unknown driver when he first appeared with the Camaro, and vanished quickly after he sold it in 1971. So the project wasn't as high profile as many. Its only been in the last couple of years an Australian magazine ran a small article on Allan's Camaro, asking if anyone knew its fate, or details of Allan himself, and thats when a reader wrote in informing that Allan had died a few years ago.
69  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: 1969 Wolverine Trans-Am photos on: July 27, 2011, 09:04:54 PM
Thanks for that info Jon. I know the red and white Firebird Titus drove still exists. Is anything known of the fate of the Fisher Firebird? Fisher drove a '69 Firebird in a few Trans-Am races in 1970. Could this be the same car with sheetmetal changes?
70  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 27, 2011, 08:46:16 PM
Jon, many thanks. The Terry Allan Camaro is one shrouded in mystery, and nobody seems to know for sure the true story. Or, at least, nobody has come forward with the true story. Allan himself died a few years ago. It was said to have originally come from Nickey Chevrolet, and apparently was going to be built for the Trans-Am. But to me that doesn't make sense, as I've also read it was a genuine big block SS396 car, so would have required to have the engine replaced. The story goes that Allan was in the US on a business trip in very early 1967, and bought the car, then had Bill Thomas prepare it with the big block for racing. When it arrived in Australia it had all the SS badges.

The current whereabouts and fate of the car are also unknown, it vanished during the 70s.

Here is an ad placed in a New Zealand magazine in mid-1971.

71  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: 1969 Wolverine Trans-Am photos on: July 18, 2011, 03:16:49 AM
Jon, these photos are just outstanding! Thank you for posting them. I have a couple of questions.

Is the Dick Brown Gagnon Springs Firebird the same car Craig Fisher drove in '68? And if so, I thought this car was repainted white and red? Or was this the Titus car?

Also, Bob Tullius ran a Javelin in the Nascar Grand Touring series in '69. Would he have run the same car in both championships?
72  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 18, 2011, 02:58:41 AM
Rod Coppins raced the ex-Spinner Black '67 Camaro for 3 seasons, the last of which it was painted Winfield gold. Here he is with team mates Barry Phillips and David Oxton.

73  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 17, 2011, 12:53:37 AM
Here is Thomson's Camaro in its home land. Photo courtesy of Ellis French.

74  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 17, 2011, 12:45:19 AM
At the same Bay Park event that Joe Chamberlain raced at in late 1970, the organisers also brought out two Australian Camaro's to race. Now while New Zealand had a 5,500cc engine limit, Australia had a 7,000cc engine limit at this time. Allan's was fitted with a 396ci big block, Thomson's a 427ci big block. Straight line speed wasn't a problem, but slowing these things down on the tight Bay Park layout proved challenging. Look at the understeer Allan is fighting.

I forgot to mention, New Zealand had a wheel width limit of 12" at this time, and this would go out to 14" within two years, while Australia had a 10" wheel width limit.

The car in front is Terry Allan's '67, which was the first Camaro to race in Australia. The second car is that of Bryan Thomson. Both cars ran quad-Webers, which was also common down this part of the world.

Note that the Thomson car is right hand drive.

75  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: New Zealand/Australian Camaros And Firebirds on: July 17, 2011, 12:33:37 AM
During the New Zealand summer racing season, as the rest of the racing world was have its off-season, New Zealand event promoters would often pay to have one or two international drivers bring their cars down to race. They'd pay all their costs, and the driver would usually manage to sell his car to one of the locals, so he'd fly back home with a suitcase full of cash.

In late 1970, the promoters of Bay Park Raceway in Tauranga, in the North Island, who knew the pulling power a good field of sedan racers would have for pulling in the punters, brought American Trans-Am privateer Joe Chamberlain out to race, with his '69 Camaro. Chamberlain wasn't quite on the pace of the front running Kiwi drivers with their bigger engines, but he fared pretty well. He raced at Bay Park and Pukekohe (near Auckland), then sold the Camaro to Ian Rorison, who had local hot-shoe Dennis Marwood drive it for the next couple of seasons. It was fitted with a 355ci motor in late 1971.

Chamberlain had a great time racing down-under, enjoying the summer weather and the laid-back Kiwi approach to racing, as did the international open wheeler teams when they'd come here to race each year.

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