The XR Falcon
In 1968 the XR Falcon
model began the legend that was to be the GT. This family car muscled out 225HP thanks to the 289 Windsor V8. The start of the Falcon GT's was only sold in one colour - Gold. 596 of these made it into production. The GT versions of the Falcon are probably the most famous of the breed, and certainly among the most desirable and collectable today.
What inspired Ford of Australia to produce such a car can be reduced to a single word: Bathurst. In its early years, the annual 500 mile race at the mountain road course of Mount Panorama
attracted many entrants driving a wide variety of foreign and domestic cars, including the first purpose built local Ford ‘race’ car, the Cortina GT500
. But Ford wanted to showcase their domestic product, and with the Victoria Police requesting Ford build pursuit specials, it was logical that the GT would evolve.
The HK Holden
1968 would see the General release the all-new Holden HK
- arguably the most ambitious series to date, bringing a large array of additional models and new mechanical features including an imported V8 engine. The HK also introduced the soon-to-be famous “Kingswood” name for the volume-selling model. The HK was bigger, lower, heavier and more rounded in appearance.
The two major model additions were the Brougham
luxury variant and the Monaro
sports coupe. The V8 engine was available on all models and proved such a success that a significant number of Holden buyers were still specifying 'bent-iron' engines more than 20 years later.
Obviously for fans of Unique and Classic cars, it was the sleek, pillarless two-door Monaro that was the highlight of the range. Introduced six months after the rest of the HK range, it would quickly take pride of place in Holden dealer showrooms across the country. Its 'boy racer' appeal was universal - a tribute to the foresight of the then GMH
Managing Director Max Wilson, who was instrumental in the development of the Monaro design and engineering concept and who recognised its long-term potential.
The new Monaro boasted potent performance and looked every inch the part with its long, wide body, flared wheel arches and sweeping roofline modelled on the Oldsmobile Tornado. Of the three Monaro models released, the most sought after then, and now, was the potent 'Bathurst-bred' GTS 327, fitted with a US-built 5.3-litre V8.
The Premier and Brougham
While the upmarket Premier was retained (and featured a different roofline to lesser models), the General released an extended version of the HK sedan, the Brougham, in July. It was over 20 inches longer than the Premier and featured the Chevrolet-built '307' V8 engine, automatic transmission
, power steering
and the most plush Hoiden interior to-date.
The Brougham name would be dropped in favour of Statesman from the HQ onwards, making the Brougham a rather difficult car to obtain, particularly one in good condition. Much like the Ford Landau, this lesser known Aussie car was one of the first to become collectable and, naturally, remains highly sought after today.
1968 would see Torana bodies being made in Australia for the first time, while work progresses on a V8 engine plant at Fishermans Bend. And just when it seemed things couldn't get any better for the General, Bruce MePhee and Barry Mulholland, driving a Monaro, won the Hardie-Ferodo 1000
, giving Holden its first victory in the annual Bathurst endurance race.
The Toyota Corolla
1968 would mark the year that Toyota would introduce one of Australia's, if not the world's, most popular cars - the Toyota Corolla
. By then, Toyota was rapidly gaining a reputation for building innovative, reliable and quality built affordable cars, while the British car manufacturers were quickly gaining a reputation for building yester-tech unreliable and underpowered jalopies.
In other motoring news, the sales figures for 1967 are released, showing that 430,379 motor vehicles were sold in Australia; The latest edition of the UBD Sydney street directory shows about 25,000 streets in the city spread out over 862 square miles; John Lennon traded in his psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom V for a 230 kmh Iso-Rivolta; Young Aussie racing drivers Greg Cusack, Leo Geoghegan
, Kevin Bartlett and John Harvey are tipped as stars of the future.
The 15th New Zealand Grand Prix
New Zealand's world champion racing driver, Denis Hulme, was rushed by ambulance to hospital after a collision with Southlander, Laurence Brownlie in the closing stages of the 15th NZ Grand Prix at Pukekohe in January. Hulme had concussion and lacerations to the face; Brownlie had a broken leg and foot and severe shock. Chris Amon
(NZ) won the Grand Prix after a magnificent drive in his red Ferrari Y6 2.4 litre racer. It was the 23 year old international drivers' first major win in a single seat racing car. Amon
hounded Jim Clark
in the Lotus-Ford V8 for 45 laps until Clark's motor failed, then went on to a comfortable win at the end of 58 laps of the 1.7 mile circuit.
The finish of the race was dampened by the accident in the 56th lap in which Hulme, at the time lying third to Amon
and Australian Frank Gardner in the Brabham Alfa V8, collided with the smaller Brabham-Ford driven by Brownlie. Hulme, driving a Brabham-Ford 1600cc car, had performed remarkably to keep the small car up with the leaders. He came up on Brownlie along pit straight and was unable to pass him before reaching the long back straight, although he attempted to pass at the Railway Corner.
According to eye-witnesses, Hulme was passing Brownlie towards the end of the back straight when the cars touched wheels. A race official said Hulme's car appeared to climb straight over the back of Brownlie's who spun off to the left, hitting a pole and skidding along a fence, while Hulme's car went to the right and hit a wire safety fence. Pieces of both cars were spread along the track for about 200 feet. Immediately after the accident, an inquiry was instigated.
Hulme's removal from the race left Australian Frank Gardner secure from threat in second place, and the British driver, Piers Courage
, was rewarded for his persistence by taking third in his little McLaren Ford F2 car. Jim Palmer of Hamilton (NZ) put up a tremendous performance to come from a late start, a quarter of a lap behind, and finish fourth. He had fluffed the start and the field was over 18 seconds away before he got off the grid. Next came Australian Paul Bolton, by then living in New Zealand, who had not been able to stave off Palmer with his ageing 2.5 Brabham-Climax (the car which Hulme drove in 1967
Forced out early in the race by clutch and fuel trouble in the V12 BRM
, New Zealander, Bruce McLaren wasn't at all happy with the performance and reliability of the car. He said he wasn't able to drive fast enough to notice how the track was, and summed up the drive as "disgusting". Chris Amon
led away from the start, but the lead didn't last long. By the time he and Clark
were halfway along the back straight, the green Lotus had shot past the red Ferrari. Amon
was not to be shaken off so easily - grimly he stuck to the tail of the Lotus for lap after lap, never more than a couple of hundred yards behind.
has the edge on sheer speed, Amon was matching the double world champion in handling all the way - and sometimes he was outhandling the Flying Scotsman. By the fifth lap, the green Lotus and red Ferrari were lapping the tail of the field, and Clark was recording laps of better than 101 mph. They had opened up a gap of several hundred yards on the next trio, Gardner, Rodriguez (BRM
V8) and Hulme, who in turn were clear of McLaren (BRM
V12) and Courage (F2) with Bolton a half lap behind. Meanwhile, Palmer, left stalled on the grid, was cutting his way through the field and had, by this time, reached 12th place, closing rapidly on the 1.5 litre leaders.
In this smaller class, Brownlie had taken the lead from Roly Levis and Graeme Lawrence in similar cars, the order changing later to give Lawrence second place in the class. Aucklander Peter Yock, spun his Lotus BRM
off at Railway Corner and holed the radiator; Levis also spun, letting Lawrence through, and at the same time Rodriguez called into the pits for his first clutch adjustment.
Clark put in a race record lap of 60.2 seconds, just under 105 mph, but it was Amon who kept the pressure on to turn in a lap of 59.9 seconds, becoming the first to break the "magic barrier" of one minute in race conditions. By this time, McLaren's race was finished, and a couple of minutes later so was Rodriguez' in the two litre BRM
V8. On lap 30, the leader was still Clark with Amon in close attendance, both well clear of Gardner and Hulme.
Courage had been lapped by all four, and Bolton and Palmer (now seventh) had also been lapped. At this stage of the race it looked as though everything was settling down, and it was only a matter of Clark holding off Amon. The first touch of drama came when Clark's motor sounded rough coming past the pits on the 45th lap. His hand went up in the air as he rounded the sweeping stables curve and he ran onto the grass and stopped with suspected timing gear breakage.
Then Palmer and Bolton received the attention. They had a tremendous dice until the Hamilton driver passed the Australian into fourth spot - his usual spot in the NZ Grand Prix races. On lap 50 only Amon, Gardner and Hulme were on the same lap, with Amon slackening his headlong pace and Hulme creeping up on Gardner who was experiencing mild electrical problems. Caught in the slower traffic, Hulme lost a little ground on lap 56, then moved up to pass Brownlie on the back straight.
He was overtaking Brownlie on the slight bend where the cars begin to brake when the accident occured, putting paid to his chances of bringing a small, underpowered car into a major placing. Palmer held off Bolton to the finish, and following Brownlie's removal from the scene Lawrence moved up to sixth place and first 1.5 litre car home. The New Zealand Grand Prix was watched by about 37,000 people in brilliant weather.
Formula One Championship:
(Britain) / Lotus-Ford
1968 Bathurst Winner:
Bruce McPhee & Barry Mulholland / Holden Monaro GTS 327
NRL Grand Final:
VFL/AFL Grand Final:
Rain Lover (J. Johnson)
Billie Jean King d. J. Tegart (9-7 7-5)
Rod Laver d. T. Roche (6-3 6-4 6-2)
- Bullitt (number #1 in our Top 5 Car Chase Movies)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Romeo and Juliet
- Funny Girl
- The Lion in Winter
- Barefoot in the Park
- You Only Live Twice
Brian Henderson (Bandstand, Nine)
- Best Picture - Oliver!
- Best Actor - Cliff Robertson (Charly)
- Best Actress - Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl)
- Hey Jude - The Beatles
- Those Were The Days - Mary Hopkin
- Star Crossed Lovers - Neil Sedaka
- Scarborough Fair - Sergio Mendes
- Love Is Blue - Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra
- White Room - Cream
- Macarthur Park - Richard Harris
- To Sir With Love - Lulu
- Love Child - Diana Ross & The Supremes
- Honey - Bobby Goldsboro
- Jim Clark (Arguably the greatest F1 Driver - ever)
- John Coltrane (Jazz musician)
- Woody Guthrie (Folk musician and artist)
- Langston Hughes (American Poet)
- Alice B. Toklas (American literary figure)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (American civil-rights leader)