After securing their first Bathurst win in 1968, “Holden” sought to repeat the dose in 1969, with the formation of the ‘Holden Dealer Team’ (HDT).
While officially a team created by Holden dealerships to circumvent General Motors’ international ban on factory-sanctioned racing, HDT was nevertheless a factory operation, both organised and funded by Holden.
The Monaro ‘GTS 350’ that would be HDT’s weapon of choice for the Mount Panorama enduro had been added to Holden’s HT range in June, 1969, specifically to counter Ford’s XW Falcon GT-HO.
A development of the Monaro GTS 327 that had won Bathurst the previous year, the HT Monoaro GTS 350 featured a 350 cubic inch (5.7-litre) Chevrolet V8 engine, 4-speed manual transmission, complementary driveline parts and disc front brakes.
For their Mount Panorama debut at the 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 500, HDT entered three of the new Monaro GTS 350s, with the driver pairings of Colin Bond and Tony Roberts (car #44D), Peter Macrow and Henk Woelders (car #42D), and Des West and Peter Brock (car #43D).
While Brock was regarded as a talented driver by HDT’s Team Manager, Harry Firth, he was an unknown to most everyone else. He’d raced a highly-modified Austin A30 to great success in local events but had no first-hand experience of Bathurst.
In fact, Brock hadn’t even seen the Mount Panorama circuit until three years before his ’69 race debut.
Coincidentally, another famous racing name making his Bathurst debut that year was Allan Moffat.
While the Monaros had a slight displacement disadvantage against the 351ci (5.8-litre) V8 in the Falcons, the HDT effort was assisted by problems with tyres that Ford has brought in specially for the race.
In qualifying, XW GT-HOs took the first two places on the grid, while the Brock/West #43D Monaro would start from tenth in a massive field of 65 starters.
Chaos ensued on the opening lap when a crash at Skyline triggered a chain reaction that blocked the track. When the track was cleared the #59D Falcon GT-HO of Ian and Leo Geoghegan led the field and Class D in which the Monaros were also entered.
As the Falcons succumbed to problems from their special tyres (including a rollover from Bo Seton in the #60D car following a puncture), the Brock Monaro led the race briefly before the usual shuffle of pit stops put the Bond/Roberts #44D Monaro into the lead.
Moffat would later recount how he thought he could have won the race that year. He had been gentler on his tyres than the other Falcon drivers, but obeyed the team when they ordered him in for a late tyre and brake pad change.
Late in the race, the Bond/Roberts Monaro was holding an 8-second lead over the Bruce McPhee/Barry Mulholland #46D Falcon GT-HO, with the Brock/West Monaro third and Macrow/Woelders #42D Monaro fourth. The top three all were on the same lap, while the Moffat/Hamilton #61D Falcon was a lap behind.
By the time the chequered flag was waved, the leading margin had stretched out to almost a minute and Bond cruised to his and HDT’s first Bathurst win.
That ’69 Mount Panorama enduro would be the first and last time HDT ran Monaros. From 1970, the team switched to the smaller, lighter and six-cylinder-engined Torana, but results were some time coming.
At the 1970 Hardie-Ferodo 500, Moffat won in an XW Falcon GT-HO Phase II, while the best finishing HDT Torana was the all-female pairing of Christine Cole and Sandra Bennett in 13th. Bond finished 16th and Brock 37th.
The frustration of 1970 was repeated in ’71 when HDT once again saw the Ford Falcon GT-HOs romp to victory. The HDT Toranas didn’t even make the top ten in qualifying, but finished somewhat better in the race, with Bond fourth and Brock eighth.
In 1972, it all turned around, with Brock taking his first of what would be nine wins, while Bond was out of the race early after crashing in the wet.
The rest, of course, is history.
After its podium turn in 1969, the Brock/West #44 HDT Monaro was sold on to Bob Morris, who would race it in NSW through 1970; achieving enough to get a seat with HDT at Bathurst that year, partnering Peter Brock in the team’s then-new LC Torana GTR XU-1.
The car would be sold four more times after this, as described in the CAMS log book, but what – if any – racing it did in the hands of subsequent owners is unknown.
After being found in a shed in New South Wales, the car was given a thorough nut-and-bolt restoration in the mid-2000s that included returning the 350 V8 with Rochester four-barrel carby, Muncie close-ratio gearbox, front disc brakes and Hotchkiss/Salisbury diff with a 2.85:1 ratio to its 1969 Bathurst specification.
The resto even included a set of original and correct ERH70 x 14 radial ply tyres for the 14x6 steel wheels.
Finished in an accurate recreation of its Bathurst livery from 1969, the restored ex-Brock Monaro was officially unveiled at the Muscle Car Masters event at Eastern Creek in 2007. Soon after, it was added to the ‘Peter Brock Experience’ collection of original and tribute Brock cars assembled by Peter Champion.
The Monaro was still part of that collection when the ‘Experience’ closed in June, 2018, and most of the collection was auctioned off.
With this car now on the market through GraysOnline, there are expectations that its Brock provenance (documentation and CAMS log book is included) and Bathurst history will see it comfortably fetch a six-figure sum - and possibly seven-figures - when it goes to auction.
Bidding for the GraysOnline auction opens from 4:30pm on 20 September and closes on 8:35pm on 25 September. To register for bidding, go to: graysonline.com