1979 Year In Review

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Ford Falcon XD
The 1979 Ford Falcon XD did not compromise on size like the VB Commodore had over the HZ.

Alfa Romeo GTV6
The Alfetta GTV6 would quickly gain Alfa a strong and deserved reputation for building arguably the worlds sweetest V6 engine.

Mazda RX7
Project X605 successfully challenged the Holy Grail of the Aussie V8.

BMW M1
The M1 remains BMW's only ever mid-engined car.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan
Margaret Thatcher would become Britains first female PM in 1979, and is pictured here with counterpart US President Ronald Reagan.
The big news for Ford fans in 1979 was the release of the XD Falcon. The XD marked the start of Ford's determined push to become market leader in Australia, a goal they ultimately achieved, but one that at the release of the XD beyond their grasp.

With the smaller VB Commodore firmly in its gun sights, many perceived the XD as too large and cumbersome in comparison. While downsized slightly from the previous model, it was still a big car, but, in styling, it made the shift from copying US style to a more sharp edged European look.

The XD was too new to be competitive on the race track, leaving the 1979 Bathurst honours to the Peter Brock in his Torana A9X. This was the second victory in succession for 'Brocky', as well as for the formidable Torana A9X. So competitive was the car that Brock stormed home on the last lap, setting a new record!

Alfa's reputation for building the world's best V6's started in 1979 with the introduction of the Alfetta GTV. It sported a beautiful body styled by Giugiaro, true 4 seat seating capacity and a rear transaxle gearbox that improved front-to-rear weight distribution to 50/50. handling was impressive, but performance was lazy when powered by the 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre twin-cam four-cylinder derived from 1750 GTV and 2000 GTV's.

What would make traditional Aussie V8 fans buy Japanese? It seemed the Holy Grail would never be challenged, until 1979 that is. Project X605 finally made it’s way to Australian soil after stellar sales the preceding year in overseas markets. Exciting from every angle, agile and quick, it quickly became stuff of dreams for many Australians. The manufacturer, Mazda; and the car, the RX7.

By 1979 Alfa would return to manufacturing true sporting masterpieces, such as the GTV6. The engineering excellence of this vehicle, particularly the silky-sweet V6 engine, would help re-establish the reputation of this truely great automobile manufacturer.

Meanwhile BMW would make a forray into the Italian dominated Supercar arena, releasing the stunning M1. The car was actually only produced to satisy homologation racing rules, and therefore only 457 were made. To this day, it remains the only ever mid-engined BMW, and the in-line 3.5 litre 6 cylinder engine developed a staggering 277bhp.

BMW knew that manufacturing such a low volume car was not their forte, and so outsourced the original production to Lamborghini. Despite its impressive power and performance, the M1 was not able to match the Turbo Porsche 911 - and this spelt the end for the car. Designed almost entirely for racing, if it could not conquer its competitor it would never survive, and production ceased just one year later.

In February Channel Nine introduced its new weekly current affairs program "60 Minutes", based on a successful US show of the same name. While slow to gain audience share, it would go on to become one of Australia's highest rating shows.

February also saw the launch of Channel 0/10's new soapie set within the walls of a female prison. "Prisoner" would go on to become hugely successful both in Australia and the UK.Speaking of the UK, 1979 would see Margaret Thatcher become the first female British Prime Minister in history.

Formula One Championship:

Jody Scheckter (South Africa) / Ferrari

1979 Bathurst Winner:

Peter Brock & Jim Richards / Torana A9X

NRL Grand Final:

St. George (17) def. Cantebury (13)

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Carlton (11.16.82) def. Collingwood (11.11.77)

Melbourne Cup:

Hyperno (H. White)

Wimbledon Women:

Martina Navratilova d. C. Evert Lloyd (6-4 6-4)

Wimbledon Men:

Bjorn Borg d. R. Tanner (6-7 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4)

The Movies:

  • Apocalypse Now
  • All That Jazz
  • Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Breaking Away

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Best Actor - Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer)
  • Best Actress - Sally Field (Norma Rae)

Gold Logie:

Bert Newton (The Don Lane Show and New Faces, Nine)

The Charts:

  1. I was Made For Lovin' you - Kiss
  2. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
  3. Lay Your Love On Me - Racy
  4. Born To Be Alive - Patrick Hernandez
  5. I Don't Like Monday's - Boomtown Rats
  6. Computer Games - Mi Sex
  7. Please Don't Go - KC & The Sunshine Band
  8. Knock On Wood - Ami Stewart
  9. Some Girls - Racey
  10. Heart Of Glass - Blondie

Farewells:

  • Lowell George (The Orson Wells of Rock)
  • Captain George Eyston (Prolific Land Speed Record Holder)
  • Arthur Fiedler (Boston Pops Conductor)
  • John Wayne (The Duke)
  • Charles Mingus (Jazz Composer)
  • Jean Renoir (Painter)
  • Nelson Rockefeller (Multibillionaire & former US Vice President)
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