The famous 81' Bathurst livery returns on Tru Blu

1 March 2012 

The Dick Johnson Tru Blu Falcon is one of the more iconic Fords to have ever raced in Australia, winning both the 1981 and 82 Australian touring Car Championships and the 1981 Bathurst 1000 enduro with his great mate John French.

Bathurst 1981, the great race.

When Johnson replaced Tru Blu for the new Red Roo XE falcon, the old XD was sold to Qld privateer Alf Grant, who ran her in different liveries for the next couple of years. She still had a bit of success finishing first ford home with David Seldon in 7th place 1983, and a gallant 10th place at Bathurst in 1984 with Grant and young Craig Harris.

Bathurst 1984 with Alf Grant and Craig Harris.

25 grand for an old XD, tell em their dreaming!

In hibernation at the DJR Acacia Ridge workshop in 1993.

Grant put Tru Blu up for sale in 1985, and the buyer ended up being her first master, Dick Johnson. She then went into hibernation in the corner of Johnsons Acacia ridge workshop still wearing the same livery from Alfs last race. When Dick moved  the DJR team to its new big headquarters at Staplyton in 1998, Tru Blu was stripped of the old livery and a new version, representative of its Tru Blu days was placed on the body. It took pride of place in the museum display with his other equally famous Ford racing machines.  


In 2006 DJR hit a big hurdle when their major sponsor went belly-up, as part of a rescue package the Museums cars were bought by David Bowden. Seeing it important to have these cars running once again old tru Blu was brought out of hibernation and refreshed mechanically by the DJR team. Here at Bowden?s Own we had looked close at the different liveries she ran back in the period and none match what was then on the car, so we thought it was important to get her back to looking like she did back in the day.  After much deliberation it was chosen to put her back to Bathurst 1981, perhaps her crowning glory where Johnson shared the car with the legend John French.


How we bought her in 2007


Bathurst 1981, with Frenchy at the wheel.

How she looks now, Feb 2012.

Numerous images, all sourced from David Blanch at of the 81 race were studied and then the search went on to find all the different period decals that were applied to the car. Talking to Johnson about it on numerous occasions we found all the stickers, which much to our surprise were not hand sign written, but were all vinyl. The only one we had a real issue with identifying was on the lower rear quarter of the car. It turned out to be a Wynn?s decal that one of our good Facebook fans identified when we put out the call for help. We later had Mitch, the historian at Dick Johnson Racing verify this for us. And Peter Lyall find one in the UK and get it sent to us, thank you to all those guys!


Johnson made mention that this Wynns decal was only on for this race as they gave him a bit of money if he was to win the race, which of course he did! Not to mention the healthy amount he was paid by them for the amount of laps lead as well, very handy!


The 1998 livery, as we first got her.



2012, looking pretty damn nice hmmm...

Tru Blu finally went to its top secret location to get all the work done to her, if you look at the before and after images you will see there was quite a bit to do. But look close and you will still see a lot of the marks, bumps, scrapes etc, as the paint and body were all kept original, most importantly for the historical value of the car, as every time you remove or modify something that was original you lose a bit of the history, being sympathetic to the way they are is pretty critical.  We are also strong believers in race cars having a few marks on them, to show they are racers, not just posers!


From behind, still tough in 2006.


Chasing KB in 1981

Mighty Ford muscle as she looks today.

A small list of the detail changes is as follows; the gold pin stripes re done, from one end of the car to the other. Bathurst decals all done perfectly to scale and re applied, all the imperfections were copied perfectly, from the way the Valvoline stickers go on the door lines, even down to the gold pin striping going onto the Bathurst 1000 sticker touching it on one side and going under it on the other side, exactly how it was in the race.


Johnson pushing hard at the dipper


Qld loves a Ford, I think the rest of Australia loves this one too.

The fuel tank cleaned and decals applied, front bumper put back to correct as per the Johnson days, chrome strip on the bumpers, black sills painted back to original Skyish Blue, jacking plates cleaned and polished, rear vision mirror repaired,  Gold # 17 on the roof, correct Motorcraft stickers with the black outlines on the bonnet, no outlines on the bonnet and boot, correct headlight covers,  exhaust back in the right place and done back to red and most importantly, the famous # 17 was put back to how it actually was in the day.  




To say we are proud of the final result is a vast understatment.

Since seeing her first race as a young lad, Tru Blu has always had a special place in my heart and now having her back to this Bathurst livery has really come close to completing her in our eyes. The next and final step is to rejoin her with the famous master, Dick Johnson..which we hope to do soon!

Loving the mighty Tru Blu,

Dan Bowden