GMH - Not Officially In Motorsport
The 179 EH came about thanks to Victorian Holden
dealers Bill Patterson and Bib Stillwell, who reckoned that the Armstrong 500 would make a good competition debut for the EH. They obviously had friends at GMH's Fishermen's Bend plant, who understood that a competition version of the EH was necessary – and it would be preferable if it were to include such additions as disc brakes, a floor change four-speed box, bucket seats, larger fuel tank, etc. The 179 cu. in. engine had modifications including improved breathing and exhaust
. But Holden were keen to stress that their decision to build the necessary number of cars to make them eligible for racing should not have been misconstrued as an official entry into motor sport.
As you would expect, nothing was further from the truth. At the time of the EH
, GMH were duty bound, as were the entire GM
global conglomerate, to abide by the agreement among American manufacturers (Ford excepted) not to support motor racing. At the time GM
were far and away the world's biggest automotive corporation, and many considered that, had the organisation have backed motorsport, they would have steamrollered all opposition, and the sport would have suffered. So, while GMH were not officially into motorsport, they were following their successful pattern in the States, where you could buy a Chev or a Pontiac in various stages of tune (read racing trim) and with various extras. The EH 179M, judged historically, can be seen as nothing more than an attempt to gauge the extent of the growing market of pseudo-racers.
But such was the demand for the 179M that the General was soon to release the (officially designated) EH 225 M-S.4 with its 179 cu. in. engine. It was identical to the EH 225 M except for a rear axle ratio of 3.55:1, a PBR servo brake unit, small clutch changes which included a different lining, a slightly modified steering column gearshift mechanism, a .25in. increase in the tail shaft diameter, and a 12 gallon fuel tank which was been achieved by enlarging the lower half. Other changes included a modified carburettor, float chamber, larger clutch housing, which also made it necessary to revise the exhaust
pipe attachment bracket, etc. Since the race rules permitted competition brake linings, the car was fitted with sintered iron linings on the front and Mintex on the rear. Sintered iron linings had already gained a good reputation, thanks to Norm Beechey's racing Impala, and many considered them as effective as discs.
A fire-extinguisher, a lap belt and a laminated screen are required for competition, were also fitted to the EH. Armstrong shocks were naturally a must for the race, and the Holden used competition Armstrongs all round with adjustable on the rear. Some 120 of these cars were produced and sold to the public for A£1160. There were some cases, it was alleged, of dealers selling these cars at inflated prices - and it was obvious that, with 600-odd dealers, GMH couldn't give one to each. This gave rise to the rumour that the cars were not available to the public and that the ARDC, the Armstrong 500 organisers, should have considered refusing their entry.
Apart from the 120 "produced and sold" cars, the factory produced for the Victorian dealers three cars to be driven by Bib Stillwell - John Youl, Bill Patterson-Doug Whiteford, Lex Davison-Brian Thompson, in the Armstrong 500, another one for Scuderia Veloce for the same race, and a couple for themselves as test cars. The handling of the 179M, aided by the shock absorbers, was quite remarkable - flat and firm, yet never uncomfortable. Shod with Goodyear G8 tyres
, adhesion was good. Not only was the car a pleasure to handle, but it stopped wonderfully and kept on stopping without any fuss or roughness. In fact, being abusive to the brakes
actually made them better, any uneven pulling disappearing the more agression was administered. The 179 didn't object to revs either, but it was unnecessary to go over 55-60 in second in any serious acceleration because the engine picked up magnificently in top.
It is disappointing then that, below, you will not see any S4 EH Holdens
listed. Had they have raced, they would have wiped the floor. But GMH was unwilling to press the case for the cars inclusion, and the Armstrong 500 would remain another Cortina GT
event. The Victorian S4 EH's were given over to the Police Forces in Victoria and South Australia when the ARDC originally banned the cars.