The Hidden Harvey 1979 HDT A9X Torana.
16 September 2011
There is really not much higher on the Holden food chain than the immortal HDT A9X's from the late 1970's. With John Sheppard at the helm and drivers like Peter Brock and John Harvey piloting them expertly they had some of the most memorable victories of any race car on tracks all over Australia. Brock's cars have been well documented, with both the 1978 and 1979 cars here in our collection. John Harvey's cars on the other hand are another kettle of fish, read on how we finally uncovered the 1979 car and it's remarkable history. As you will see many great race cars can have multiple lives!
One of the greatest A9X Torana's ever made, uncovered!
In 1979 this A9X Torana was campaigned by the talented driver John Harvey as the number two M-HDT car. Brock was given a new car, which was distinct with its fawn coloured interior. For the opener of the ATCC series at Symmons Plains it was Harvey who came out on top, beating the pack, just to show that he was still a force in the Torana's. Round two he finished a 3rd behind Brock and the now very determined Bob Morris in the Hodgson A9X.
White grill was a distinct marking for John Harvey's car in 1979.
Oran Park was next and Harvey finished 4th. Then it was Sandown and he finished in 6th place. At the Wanneroo race he finished 2nd to team leader Brock who was in a very tight points race with Morris for the overall championship. 3rd was the best he could manage at Surfers where the Bryan Byrt Falcon driven by Queenslander Dick Johnson almost won the race. Brock was once again the winner from the 4 door A9X of Charlie O'Brien. Lakeside was the seventh race of the series; Harvey came 2nd behind Bob Morris who was now 5 points in front of Brock. The final race at Adelaide Raceway was a win for Morris giving him the championship he thoroughly deserved. Brock came 2nd and Harvey getting 3rd in both the race and championship.
Bathurst that year was to be the Torana's last race. Harvey had Ron Harrop as a co-driver and on lap 57, with Harrop at the wheel the Torana lost its brakes and hit the wall at XL bend. The Torana had managed to get as high as 2nd place till the accident. It was hardly a fitting end to its great racing career.
That year the M-HDT team was given the most commanding win ever; the great race when Brock and Richards once again won. It was however, a win like no other. They got pole position then led the race from start to finish never surrendering the lead. He finished 6 laps in front of his closest competitor and just to make a point, set a new circuit record on the final lap. It only cemented the status of the M-HDT as the late 70's dominant force.
The un-repaired Torana was sold after the '79 race to the HDT panel and paint man, Jim Sheppard. He carefully rebuilt the car to like new specification and it was from this point the 1979 Harvey car disappeared from view for the next 30 years, even though it was hidden right in front of us and everyone else this entire time.
Car on the left look a little bit familiar to anyone?
This special A9X, like many race cars, has had a long and incredible life, which began in a year earlier in 1978..... Before becoming the main car for Harvey in 1979. it was in fact the Peter Brock 05 machine that won both Bathurst and the Australian Touring Car Championship.. This is why those with eagle eyes would have spotted why mechanically it is in the 1979 spec (exhaust out the other side, upgraded suspension, brakes, diff breathers etc), but has had the 1978 Bathurst livery as applied in late 1979 by Jim Sheppard at HDT.
We and every other owner have always kept it this way till this week. The change in the livery has come about as we have the honour of John Harvey coming to visit us as the special guest for our big Open Day tour. We thought it fitting to convert (to the best of our ability in a short time frame), the 78 car back to his 1979 machine, thus bringing back the two team cars for the first time together since Bathurst 1979.
The 1979 M-HDT team cars, Harvey will enjoy being reunited with her again this weekend!
It's always interesting how the race cars can change throughout their careers, and the journey you can have discovering all about them. It is just another reason as to why we love the history and enjoy sharing it so much with others on our collection tours. Looking forward to this next Open Day, hope to meet a few of you there, or at another one in the near future.
Love your car,