1979 Aussie touring car champion headed to auction

Bob Morris drove the independently owned Holden Torana to the national championship in 1979 | Mossgreen Auctions photos
Bob Morris drove the independently owned Holden Torana to the national championship in 1979 | Mossgreen Auctions photos

In the 1970s, the Holden Torana was Australia’s fastest muscle car, and the basis for the GM subsidiary’s battle against Ford in the nation’s touring car championship racing series, which was just as intense, perhaps even more so, than Camaro vs. Mustang in the Trans-Am series in North America.

In 1979, Australian touring car history was made when an independently entered Holden Torana won the championship, with Bob Morris beating the legendary Peter Brock for the series title.

The Torana has been displayed for decades in two Australian museums
The Torana has been displayed for decades in two Australian museums

And now, the car that Morris drove to the championship is being offered for the first time at auction, Mossgreen’s first collector car sale in Sydney, scheduled for May 28 at Carriageworks.

“In 1979 the Torana battled to a victory, winning first place for Morris, creating Australian motor sporting history as the first time the ‘undergoes’ — a private team — had beaten the factory team entrants,” Mossgreen said in its news release about the car joining the auction docket.

“This is a classic tale of grit and dogged determination winning out,” added James Nicholls, Mossgreen car specialist.

“Still in running order, this rare Torana is highly original, and still showcases the livery it wore in 1979,” he added.

“An exceptional rally car, it holds a special affection with Australian motorsports enthusiasts, and is of particular significance to the Holden brand and its list of Australian automotive sporting achievements.”

Indeed, Mossgreen expects the car to sell for $850,000 to $1.05 million Australian ($625,000 to $775,000 U.S.).

Mossgreen reports that the consignor purchased the car, technically a 1977 Holden Torana A9X hatchback, after its championship season, and last raced it in 1980. Since then, it has been displayed in museums in York and Fremantle.

Also on the docket for the auction are cars ranging from a 1913 Ford Model T to a 2013 60th anniversary Chevrolet Corvette 427 convertible. Other high-dollar listings include a 1964 Aston Martin DB5, a 1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk. 2 Vantage, a 1962 Porsche 356 T6 “Notchback,” a 1959 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” re-creation, a 1954 Alvis TA21G fixed-head coupe, a 1936 Rolls-Royce 25-30 HP, a 1983 Porsche 911 (930) Turbo, a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL, a 1956 Aston-Healey 100M, and a 1986 Ferrari Testarossa.

In addition, vehicle registration plate “36” for New South Wales will be offered and is expected to sell for as much as $330,000 U.S. For that price, the buyer gets to put a vintage, low-number and license plate on a vehicle and drive it legally.

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