1969 Year In Review

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Datsun 240Z
Fast, Refined, Good Looking...the 240Z was an instant success.

DeTomaso Mangusta
DeTomaso's Mangusta, never as successful as the Cobra but using the same formula for success.

Holden HT
Forget that it was the first Holden to have a plastic grille, remember it as the first to offer an all-Aussie V8.

Holden Torana LC
The HB Torana had been a Vauxhall import, but the LC was made entirely in Australia.

Easy Rider
Filmed in 1968 with a budget of $380,000, Easy Rider quickly bacame a cult icon. Budget approval for the film was only made following the 16mm scenes taken from the New Orleans Mardi Gras, although these feature near the end of the film.

Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy would win the Oscar for Best Picture, but the Duke would win the gong for Best Actor in "True Grit".

The Datsun 240Z

The continued challenge for Japanese car manufacturers during the 1960’s was to break into the lucrative US sports car market - and with the competition quickly becoming dated (such vehicles as the Austin Healey 3000, Triumph TR and E-Type Jaguar) the time was ripe. Datsun employed Albrecht Goertz (who also worked for BMW) to design a new modern sports coupe - the 240Z.

The “Z” was clearly a copy of the E-Type, but was pure and elegant enough to have its own appeal. Powered by a smooth and punchy straight six motor, the Datsun 240Z entered the market priced in line with the lesser Triumph GT6. Instantly successful, some 150,000 would be sold up until 1975, the year it was replaced by the larger and less enthusiastic 260Z.

In 1969 the retired Argentinean racing driver Giugiaro DeTomaso released his fledgling companies second, and perhaps most famous car, the “Mangusta”. Perhaps taking a leaf out of AC’s book on success (the Cobra), DeTomaso created an Italian super-car that, instead of using V10 or V12 engines such as those used by Ferrari and Lamborghini, used a donor Ford 289ci V8 that had already enjoyed success powering the AC Cobra, Ford GT-40 and Mustang GT-350.

The HT Holden

In May GMH would release the facelift update to the HK, the Holden HT series. Most noteable in with this new model was the availability of an all-Aussie V8, an engine until then only seen in the spectacular Holden Hurricane experimental car. The locally designed and built V8 came in two versions: the '253' (4.2 litre) and '308' (5 litre). The '308' was standard on the stretched Brougham but initially the imported '307' was fitted to other 5-litre HT models.

Both versions of the Aussie V8 were praised for their low overall weight, compactness and smoothness. Demand was strong. Although the HT's styling changes were minor, they resulted in a cleaner-looking design. The model brought more traditional wraparound rear light clusters and the redesigned grilles (with different designs for different models) made use of new ABS plastic.

There were also flatter rear flanks, which eliminated the hip at the rear roof pillar and resulted in a wider back window. Other features included an increase in track width, improved suspension, a new instrument panel (and with it a more traditional analogue speedo), and synchromesh on all forward gears for all manual models.

A new windscreen wiper system with an articulated wiper blade provided greater visibility and all other safety features introduced with the HK - including the telescoping steering column and dual master brake system - were carried over. The HT model choice included sedans, wagons, Monaro coupes, the Brougham, plus utility and panel van versions. Demand for the Monaro continued to run well ahead of supply. In August 1969, the extremely potent 5.74 litre Chevrolet '350' V8 was offered with the limited-build 'Bathurst Pack' Monaro GTS.

A long list of options therefore gave HT buyers a choice of five engines and four gearboxes, a limited-slip differential, 'Superlift' shock absorbers, front-wheel disc brakes, power steering, power windows, bucket seats, reclining seats, refrigerated airconditioning, 'rally' wheels and, last but not least, the option of a vinyl roof. Perhaps the most consufing for the HT buyer was the choice of transmission, on offer being the "Three on the Tree" three -speed manual gearbox, two four-speed manual gearboxes, the two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, finally, the three-speed Trimatic automatic transmission.

While on the subject of things happening at GM, the original HB Torana was replaced in 1969 by the Australian manufactured LC Torana, available with an imported 'four' or locally made six-cylinder engine. Between 1969 and 1972, some 74,627 were sold. And recognising how important safety was becoming in the design of any new car, Holden opened a new "Safety Design Centre" at Lang Lang, which boasted both an impact sled and a 10-tonne concrete barrier for crash testing. The capital expendicture was no folly, Holden retaining its position as Number 1 in Australia and manufacturing its two millionth vehicle.

Ford GTHO vs. Holden Monaro at the Mount

The battle for outright honours at the 1969 Bathurst race was fought out between Ford, with the "HO" optioned 351c.i. GT and GMH, with the Monaro GTS 350. Ford ensured that it would not be caught short of power, fuel capacity, or brakes and the HO option pack allowed the already good handling of the GT to be further improved. GMH matched the Ford product in the power department, but there were few other notable changes. The imported 350 engine running a 10.25:1 compression ratio, and fed by a four barrel Rochester carby, produced a tremendous 300 bhp at 4800 rpm and developed 380 ft./lb. of torque at 3200 rpm.

This gave it a healthy advantage over the 1968 car, which had 250 bhp at 4800 rpm and 325 ft./lb- at 3200. A 3.36:1 limited slip differential promised neck-breaking acceleration with a top speed approaching the much-voiced 130 mph mark. An optional 3.8:1 ratio was also available. Braking was rumored to be something of a problem with 1969's 327-engined car - although at Bathurst in 1968 the Holden’s seemed to have no more problems than the Fords - and for 1969 the 10.6 inch diameter discs were thicker, giving better heat dissipation. Like the 327, the 350 had stiffer shockers, heavy duty stabilizer bar up front and rear radius rods. Fuel capacity remained at 25 gallons. 6.00 JJ rims were used with D70 red band wide oval tyres.

Determined to sway the odds as much as possible in their favour the Ford men took a long, hard look at the GT and decided that some attention to the handling and power department wouldn't go astray. The result was the "HO" (Handling option) pack which added $245 to the price, but set the car up as a potential race winner. A fibreglass spoiler was fixed to the area beneath the front bumper bar to cancel the aerodynamic lift usually transmitted at high speeds. At the time Ford claimed not to have tested the effectiveness of the device, but said similar attachments had been proven overseas.

The only alteration to suspension was the fitment of a rear stabilizer bar – in an attempt to move the handling a stage further ahead of Holden and the Valiant. The ventilated disc brakes remained untouched and the fuel capacity remained at 36 gallons, with no baffles to prevent the large weight transfer that occured when the tank is around half empty. The biggest changes were under the bonnet, although Ford claimed that power output remained unchanged over the standard car.

To improve torque in the lower rpm range, the camshaft was modified, an aluminium inlet manifold was fitted and a 600 c.f.m. Holla four barrel carburettor replaced the standard unit. To handle the extra power and to ensure reliability, a 3 inch diameter propeller shaft was fitted and heavy-duty alternator and regulator were used. The new HO’s made their debut at the Sandown Three Hour on September 14 and the Bathurst 500 on October 5, 1969.

World News

In world news, the new ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II would make its maiden voyage; USA launched the Apollo 10 moon flight (as prelude to planned moon landings in July), while an unmanned Soviet spacecraft landed on Venus.

Formula One Championship:

Jackie Stewart (Britain) / Matra-Ford

1969 Bathurst Winner:

Colin Bond & Tony Roberts / Holden Monaro GTS 327

NRL Grand Final:

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Melbourne Cup:

Rain Lover (J. Johnson)

Wimbledon Women:

Ann Jones d. B.J. King (3-6 6-3 6-2)

Wimbledon Men:

Rod Laver d. J. Newcombe (6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4)

The Movies:

  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • The Wild Bunch
  • Easy Rider
  • Anne of the Thousand Days
  • The Italian Job (number #5 in our Top 5 Car Chase Movies)

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - Midnight Cowboy
  • Best Actor - John Wayne (True Grit)
  • Best Actress - Maggie Smith (The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie)

Gold Logie: Graham Kennedy (In Melbourne Tonight, Nine)

The Charts:

  1. Penny Arcade - Roy Orbison
  2. The Real Thing - Russell Morris
  3. OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA - The Beatles
  4. Honky Tonk Women - Rolling Stones
  5. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head - Johnny Farnham
  6. Seomthing (Come Together) - The Beatles
  7. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - The Hollies
  8. One - Johnny Farnham
  9. Make Me An Island - Joe Dolan
  10. Where Do You Go To My Lovely - Peter Sarstedt


  • Dwight David Eisenhower (WWII General and thirty-fourth President of the USA)
  • Joseph P. Kennedy (Father to the famous Kennedy clan)
  • Jack Kerouac (American writer)
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