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Australia’s version of Top Gear

Top Gear Australia maybe making a comeback, but during the 1970s there was another television program road testing the latest and greatest on the ABC.

Torque was a program on the ABC focused on cars, motorsport and the road safety providing in reflection a forthright opinion on the Australian marketplace provided by host Peter Wherrett.

Running from 1974 to 1980, Torque became a popular show for the ABC spearheaded by Wherrett as he proved a superb presenter through features focused on general motoring, various level of motorsport, automotive innovations and the industry as a whole in addition to providing easy to understand technical analysis.

Before it was fashionable to do so, Wherrett was concerned about the environment, safety and was not afraid to pinpoint failings in a particular model making Torque a compelling program to watch.

One advantage Wherrett had was he not only tested road-going models, but participated in a variety of motorsport competitions including a number of Bathurst 500s/1000s, many rallies and even completed a feature on racing’s future in Australia.

Wherrett was the first proprietor of an advanced driving school in Australia, so tests in regards to the effects of alcohol consumption and defensive techniques were a common theme throughout Torque. This also provided a unique viewpoint when it came to locking brakes, handling and the safety systems offered including seatbelts.

Road tests ranged from sporty models to the then-rare four-wheel-drives to the best the big three had to offer.

Torque led on to another program hosted by Wherrett called Marque celebrating the previous 100 years of motoring and recalling how modern (1980) cars had got to this point as he highlighted the innovations made.

A fixture on television heading into the 1990s, Wherrett passed away in 2009 at the age of 72.

Check out some of clips from Torque below, with the final season available to watch on YouTube.