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The golden era at the Holden Dealer Team – Brock’s 05 moments

What a period Peter Brock enjoyed on his return to the Holden Dealer Team in 1978, which led to a period of dominance rarely witnessed since.

Debuting at Bathurst with the HDT in 1969 and winning three years later, Brock turned into Holden’s number one promotional tool. Marrying Miss Australia Michelle Downes during this period thrust him into the public eye as Harry Firth began to lose control of his star driver.

Winning the 1974 Australian Touring Car Championship along with aiding the HDT to the MANCHAMPS title failed to save Brock’s place in the team and the prodigal son was forced to become a privateer.

First running with Melbourne privateers Norm Gown and Bruce Hindhaugh in an underfunded campaign during the 1975 season, which proved successful at Bathurst alongside Brian Sampson where Brock scored his second victory.

The next year he formed Team Brock alongside brother Phil, but this proved an unsuccessful spell even with backing from leading Melbourne Holden dealer Bill Patterson.

It was a time of transition for the HDT during this period as well. Colin Bond took back the mantle of Holden’s leading hero when Brock left and won the 1975 Australian Touring Car Championship before leaving to join Allan Moffat at Ford the next season in a shock defection.

During this time, John Harvey had joined the team and was joined by a variety of young drivers including Ron Harrop and Charlie O’Brien among others. There was a change at the top as well with Firth being replaced by the meticulous John Sheppard.

After a walloping at the hands of Moffat, Bond and Ford in 1977, Holden were forced into action with bringing Brock into the fold number one priority.

February 5, 1978 marked the return of Brock to HDT in a fresh team featuring Sheppard at the helm and the experienced Harvey as loyal lieutenant.

Holden had also released the A9X version of the Torana at Sandown in 1977 and promptly won in Brock’s hands as a privateer. Pole followed at Bathurst, but various niggles stopped the Brock brothers from spoiling Ford’s crushing 1-2 finish.

The return race for Brock was at Sandown driving the HDT’s second string four-door A9X, but he still won against the likes of Allan Grice, Bob Morris and Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan in two-door versions.

From then, Brock transitioned to the two-door and won three rounds to defeat the Ron Hodgson dealer-entered A9X by two-points in the title chase. Making it four Sandown enduro event victories in a row, Brock was partnered by quietly spoken New Zealander Jim Richards at Bathurst and took his third win at the Mountain.

If 1978 was the perfect start, then 1979 cemented Brock and Holden as a dominant force. An enthralling championship battle fell the way of Morris, but Brock once again took the win at Sandown as the Mountain awaited.

Not going into too much detail as it may feature as later story, but 1979 confirmed Holden’s domination and in particular the Brock-HDT partnership as Richards joined again for a six-lap demolition.

The lack of competition in 1979 led to Holden pulling its support from the team due to its dominance and Sheppard was out. This led to Brock with the help of a few Holden dealers Australia wide led by Vin Kean in South Australia to support HDT.

CAMS had also changed the touring car regulations to reflect the current market forcing Holden teams to race the Commodore and although Ford didn’t support it, the development of the boxy XD Falcon.

Continued support from Phillip Morris, Castrol, TAA and the Holden dealers (which in return for the backing sold HDT Commodores developed by Brock) ensured Brock once again took the championship. Bathurst proved a hard road, but misfortune for Ford rival Dick Johnson led to a come from behind victory again with Richards.

Johnson was back for vengeance backed by a considerable donation from the public matched by Ford swayed the momentum to the Queenslander as he won both the championship in a tense finale at Lakeside and Bathurst.

A difficult season followed in 1982 when non-homologated engine heads were used in the HDT Commodore leaving Brock disqualified from all but two rounds of the year.

With Larry Perkins joining the HDT as team manager and co-driver to Brock, it led to another successful period for the squad, particularly at Bathurst. Brock and Perkins took the flag in 1982 to take HDT’s fourth win in five years, a remarkable record.

An influx of old rivals in new machinery such as Moffat in the potent Mazda RX-7, rally star George Fury driving the turbocharged Nissan Bluebird and former co-driver Richards in a Frank Gardner-run BMW.

Third in the title was the result after gearbox dramas early in the season. Reliability problems hit at Bathurst as he and Perkins switched to the second entry driven by Harvey displacing brother Phil out of a drive. The trio took a controversial, but perfectly legal victory, number seven for Brock.

Le Mans sums up 1984. Brock missed rounds of the ATCC due to preparations for his tilt at the world’s most famous endurance race with Perkins, but the emergence of the ‘last of the big bangers’ VK Commodore was a fitting finale.

Sandown and Bathurst success with Perkins capped off a fantastic era for the HDT, but the world was waiting as Group A was introduced.

Make sure to check out the Peter Brock Trophy competition on the Repco Garage, the Tour and sign up to not miss any of the content placed here.