With the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 rapidly approaching, today on Saturday Sleuthing we thought it was a good time to wind back the clock and have a look at a Bathurst-winning car and its history.
However there’s even more reason to focus on the 1993 race-winning Castrol Commodore VP of Larry Perkins and the late Gregg Hansford given that very car - Perkins Engineering chassis 017 - is currently being restored to its former glory.
Larry’s son Jack will be behind the wheel as James Courtney’s co-driver in the #22 Mobil 1 HSV Racing Commodore next weekend at Bathurst in addition to his Dunlop Super2 Series Commodore, but when he’s not behind the wheel in recent times he’s been busy working on the restoration of the ’93 Mountain-conquering car.
As many of our readers will remember, this particular Castrol Commodore was the last Holden to win Bathurst with a Holden V8 engine, given every one of the General’s cars to win since has done so with a Chev/GM-based powerplant.
“It’s tracking really well,” Jack told our V8 Sleuth this week of the restoration.
“We’ve been on the project for the best part of 12 to 18 months since we were able to source the car off Dave Gardner.
“It was in pretty ordinary condition. Having been 20 to 25 years old it was in need of a birthday.
“We wanted to do the job properly and set about getting a ripper fabricator on board in Travis Langman.
“Travis is ex-Perkins Engineering and while he wasn’t there when this particular car was built, there are still plenty of guys around who worked on it for him to consult with.
“He knows the ‘PE way’ and he’s really enthusiastic about these projects, as am I.”
Work on the car so far has focused on chassis preparation with paint the next step of the process.
“We’ve cut out about 35 kilograms of additional bar work that had been added to the car over the years,” says Jack.
“That was quite an extensive process. We have made sure the original roll cage wasn’t damaged when we removed some of the other bars.
“We’ve been very busy on the chassis repair and preparation point of view and we’re just about ready to have it off to the painters.
“There’s no body filler in it at all. It’s as good as we could get it back to how it was in 1993.
“The big part of putting these cars back from VS to VP spec is the quarter panels and parcel shelves, so it’s a big job for the rear three-quarters of the car.
“The car raced for so long that it’s had some hits in each corner but we’ve tidied all of that up now and once it gets back from paint we can build it up back into a car again.”
The car, which made its debut at Phillip Island with Perkins in 1993 and raced as the #11 Castrol entry for the remainder of that season, has proven to be a relatively straightforward restoration, aided by original records and drawings retained by Perkins Snr and Jnr.
“We haven’t had any really massive dramas and we haven’t set a timeline on the car’s completion so we’re just working to get the jobs finished than to a specific end date.
“We’re doing everything really thoroughly and there’s been quite a bit of research gone into it. Our own records have been quite handy.
“We’ve been fortunate to track down the original engine, which was the last Holden engine, and we have all of the hardware and most of the bodywork.
“From our record keeping and drawings we’ve been able to identify serial numbers and specifications for parts.
“Because it raced for so long, a lot of the bits in the car have been ‘hot-rodded’ over time, so we’re able to bring it back to original spec.
“The engine was built brand new for the ’93 race. Actually, the PE boys built two engines, one a spare and one to be the race engine.
“It was actually the spare that ended up in the car for the race instead of the original … there’s a lot of the details surrounding that and many other elements of the car that will come out over time.
“It’s been a really cool project, good fun to work on.”
The 1993 Bathurst winner actually had a very long racing life. After Perkins built himself a new Commodore for the 1994 season, his former #11 Holden was sold off to privateer John Trimble and raced as the Daily Planet Commodore.
It was then acquired by James Rosenberg for Mark Poole to race in 1995, above, and the South Australian ran it through to the end of ’98 before it was purchased by Owen Parkinson and driven by a range of drivers during ’99.
The car later competed in Wesley May’s hands in the 2001 Konica V8 Supercar Series and was eventually purchased and raced in Victorian Sports Sedan competition by Melbourne security company owner Ian Cowley, below, before it was sold to collector David Gardner and then on to the Perkins family.
Saturday Sleuthing will take next week off for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 but will return on Saturday October 14 with a car with an interesting story that points ahead to the Vodafone Gold Coast 600.
If you have a car you’d like to see featured by our V8 Sleuth this year, send him an email here or visit the website here to get in contact.