1971 Year In Review

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Modern Motor HQ Test
Such was the importance of the all new HQ that Modern Motor released an LP of their road tests.

Holden HQ
1971 would see the first of the all new HQ model Holden's come off the production line. They remain a watershed in design and are easily the most recognisable older Holden around.

Mercedes 107 350SL
Mercedes were to release the first of the R107 body shape SL's, the 350. The R107 would prove so popular, it would remain in production until 1989.

BMW CS Series
BMW would release the sensational "CS" series in 1971, arguably the best and most collectable BMW's to date.

Apollo 15 Moon Buggy At $378 million, the 4 wheel steering Apollo 15 moon buggy was the most expensive mode of transport in 1971.

Charles Manson
1971 would see Charles Manson and three members of "The Family" convicted of the murder of Actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969.

Matlock Police
Vic Gordon, Grigor Taylor, Michael Pate and Paul Cronin were the original "Matlock Police", a highly successful police drama to run on Channel 0 for 5 years.

The HQ Holden Release

The biggest news on the automotive front for 1971 was the release of the all-new HQ Holden, the new model bringing about major changes and improvements to all Holden variants. Modem Motor magazine editors said that an 8800 kilometre test of the HQ Kingswood had shown that the new model "raised the average family man's car to above average status".

In many other quarters, the HQ Holden was hailed as the most significant Holden since the original 48-215. As well as introducing new versions of the previous Holden sedans, wagons and coupes, the range included a new long wheelbase luxury model called Statesman (the Brougham designation being dropped).

The HQ's six-cylinder engines were carried over from the HG, but with a longer stroke to increase the capacity. Two versions of the local V8 were offered with the imported Chevrolet '350' available in the Monaro. The HQ was the first Holden built with a semi-chassis frame (to improve rigidity and reduce noise and vibration) and it introduced other new features including flow-through ventilation and four-wheel coil springing.

During the three years the HQ series stayed in production, various 'Specials', such as the Vacationer option package, were announced. The sporty Holden SS V8 sedan featured a four-speed manual gearbox and many Monaro details - few realised its Belmont origins. The Statesman, which replaced the Brougham, was built on the extended wagon wheelbase and was 26 cm longer than the other sedans. It was available in Custom and De Ville versions. The HQ range also included utilities, panel vans and Holden's first cab/chassis truck.

The HQ design placed a considerable emphasis on safety, and during its life nearly half a million HQs were sold. That made it easily the biggest selling single Holden model range, although the sales were made over a longer period than previous models. If your up for it, why not put yourself into the drivers seat and let Rob Luck, Bobo Faulkner and the V8 engine of the 1971 Holden Monaro take you for a ride down memory lane.

Ford's XY Falcon Battles It Out

1971 would not bode well for Ford, given the fanfare that accompanied the release of the HQ Holden, and Chrysler too were to launch their all new VH Valiant. That left the XY Falcon to battle it out, by now a somewhat aging design - it being the final expression of a theme introduced 5 years earlier with the XR Falcon. Few back then would have realised just how highly prized the XY would eventually become.

The XY did however enjoy better than expected sales given the stiff competition, some buyers obviously not all too impressed with the more modern designs on offer from GMH or Chrysler. It also helped that the fleet buyers loved the XY, it by now having established a stellar reputation for reliability and durability. Taxi operators too started their trend towards using the solid, familiar Ford.

With the US Falcon's being dropped, that left Ford Australia to design their very first all-Aussie car, the XA Falcon, however we would have to wait until the 24th February, 1972 to see the outcome.

Big News In Car Safety

The big news on the automotive safety front for 1971 came from Chrysler, who introduced a brake-slip control system, (an early version of antilock brakes). 1971 would also see BMW intorduce their wonderful CS coupes - arguably the best of all BMW classics. Ignoring the under-powered 2000CS of the early days, other CS coupes had the best six-cylinder engines in the world - powerful, smooth and refined. All CS coupes offered the remarkable build quality and driver comforts, plus exceptional handling for a 4-passenger car.

In other motoring news, Leyland Australia announced plans to build a large family car, later to be designated the "P76"; Dunlop released its first slick racing tyre; British Leyland showed off its electric mini-car prototype, and Radial tyres were tipped to replace all other forms in the coming years. Perhaps the most expensive automobile to be driven that year was by the team aboard the Apollo 15 spaceship. The $378 million dollar "buggy" featured four wheel steering, but gave little concession to creature comforts. Australian Renault sales for the last quarter of 1971 were a record - in December the company delivered 1051 cars, the first time it had reached 1000 a month in Australia.

The introduction of legislation to make the wearing of seat belts compulsory in Western Australia was first considered by Cabinet at a meeting on 1 July 1971. Victoria had already passed similar legislation six months earlier and found that its death toll fell by 20 percent. The WA Police Minister advised Cabinet that only one of the 72 people killed on WA roads in the same period had been wearing a seat belt. Of the 1656 injured, a staggering 92.6% were not wearing belts.

The Minister considered it an urgent matter in the interests of humanity, and for reasons of economy and pressure on hospital accommodation and services. On 13 July 1971, the West Australian Cabinet approved the drafting of legislation to amend the Traffic Act to make the wearing of belts compulsory. New South Wales also introduced similar legislation that year. Naturally the Seat Belt Safety Campaigns were soon to follow - and soon the unfamiliar would become familiar, the wearing of seat-belts almost second nature.

By 1973, legislation had been passed in all Australian States and Territories for compulsory wearing of fitted seat belts in motor vehicles and the wearing of protective helmets by motor cycle riders and their pillion passengers. Australian Renault sales for the last quarter of 1971 were a record - in December the company delivered 1051 cars, the first time it had reached 1000 a month in Australia.

The 1971 Bathurst Hardie-Ferodo 500

After the 1971 Bathurst event, many were left asking what was wrong with the Hardie Ferodo 500? Looking at the attendance figures (around 40,000) and a TV audience (calculated at around 2.5 million) there seemed to be little wrong. But if you were to dig deeper it is likely you would have touched on some rather touchy subjects. The scoring equipment and system was, by 1970, totally inadequate for the size and stature of the event, and for 1970 the organisers narrowly avoided a disaster with the results. Over the preceding years it had become pretty obvious that the race was no longer a general guide to the vehicles generally available on the local market or at the local dealership - except in the lower classes A, B and C. After the event was held, general opinion was that...

  • The Bathurst facilities for weekend race-goers and the circuit conditions from the pits to spectator areas for campers are "apalling."
  • The Prizemoney was not proportionate to the cost of entry - whether factory or private - and the race was virtually being "subsidised" by the trade which paid heavily right down the line. ∙ The Australian motor industry was generally dissatisfied with the format of the race. The consumer was also disenchanted with the general format.
  • The organisers didn't appear to have a forward plan for the race and improvement and progress was not significant. ∙ The outright results did not relate to the sales floor and the bid for outright honors was costing manufacturers tens of thousands in cost of vehicles entered - and up to millions in development costs. One of the biggest questions the ARDC was asked after the event was "What is happening to the gate takings?"

At the crowd figure of 40,000, the ARDC should have netted between $90,000 and $120,000 at $3 per head - allowing for the fact children were less. The first-man-across-the-line Allan Moffat earned the paltry prizemoney sum of $500 – and that was from Hardie Ferodo, not the ARDC. Only conditional prizemoney gave him a reasonable return for his efforts and professionalism - ATN Channel 7 tossed in $1000 and because of products he used, it was claimed by some that he earned a further $4000. Still paltry for the preparation investment of the car alone that must have run to $20,000 or more.

Most Ford-mounted privateers admitted to $10,000 entry cost (including the car) so there was no fair return even at the cheapest level. Just where is the money going? The ARDC was paying for costly circuit resurfacing, repairs and improvements and the race was an expensive year-long organisational problem, but payments for work were on a reasonable time payment agreement and most of the services of the massive list of race-day officials were free. Also, it was well known Hardie Ferodo kicked the till heavily to help meet costs and their efforts were not insignificant. The same year Warwick Farm's AGP meet had a total prizemoney purse of $13,000 and $6000 for the AGP alone. With much lower attendance figures, lower gate slug and little sponsorship assistance, the figures demonstrated the massive discrepancy with the ARDC's Bathurst takings.

Wherever the money was going – it was not into timing equipment. The ARDC's system was primitive and the IBM computer was not able to help because it was severely hampered by the human factors involved. Some suggested that the ARDC should have been operating a Le Mans-type system for the 500-mile race. This would have involved using a "buried electronic loop" in the roadway with a transmitter fitted to each of the cars competing. As each car crossed the loop, it would automatically flash an electronic signal to a computer terminal which would process the information in terms of laps completed and elapsed time. IBM had the equipment that could process such information instantly and accurately - making the system absolutely foolproof. The cost of this system was purported to be between $20,000 and $40,000 depending on the degree of sophistication.

Outright honors for 1970 involved virtual Improved Production cars and it was a scathing indictment of the format of the race that at least two manufacturers made open public statements that the cars competing for line honors "were definitely not available for general sale to the public." Many questioned the purpose of the race in the first place – remember this was a time when the idea behind Bathurst was that you could buy the winning car, or at least its very close facsimile, at your local showroom after the event. By 1970 the outright power race drastically affected the lower classes - with an unfair preference system that gave priority to outright entrants above class entries which really related to the showroom floor. In other words, the race had completely departed from its original purpose as a competition arena for the cars the average motorist might want to buy.

The motor manufacturers were unhappy about it, the trade was unhappy about it, and so too the public were becoming dissatisfied. So, with the emphasis coming down to who had the bigger budget to win the event, the 1970 Bathurst race was not so much a question of who would win but who would fill the minor placings. Once the three official practice sessions were over it was only a matter of Allan Moffat keeping his Falcon intact for the distance and he had to win.

International Motorsport

June 1971 was dominated by the Le Mans 24 Hour race - both on the track and on film. On the track, Porsche continued their successful season, with the 4.9-litre Type 917 winning at the staggering average of 138.13mph, Marko and Van Lennep driving. The Attwood-Muller Porsche 917 was second, while the latest Ferrari Type 512M cars were third and fourth. The race itself was completely predictable, and not very exciting. The film Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen was tremendous stuff for racing fans (if not for the box office) for it intermingled actual 1970 race footage with specially staged racing sequences, in a thin story centred around Steve McQueen and the Gulf-Porsche team.

Plans were announced for the rebuilding of the Le Mans circuit, with a new 'infield' section between Arnage and the pits (which actually happened) and for a completely new main straight. In other events, the Indianapolis 500 race was won by A1 Unser (Colt-Ford) at 157.735 mph, while Jacky Ickx's Ferrari won the Dutch Grand Prix, and the Martini Porsche 908-3 of Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse had won the Nurburgring 1000 kliometre race. By comparison, Ove Andersson's fine win, in an Alpine-Renault, in the Acropolis Rally (which was his fourth win of the year) went almost unnoticed, as did Chris Sclater's victory in the Scottish Rally.

Charles Manson And The Family

In International news, Charles Manson and three members of "The Family" would be convicted of the murder of Actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969. One of the lesser known things about Manson was that he befriended Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys fame during the late 1960's.

It was a time of upheaval in Wilson's personal life. He had divorced his wife Carol and soon found himself caught up in a lifestyle where drugs were readily available. Hanging out with the likes of Manson was indicative of the dark place he found himself in. Togther, Wilson and Manson wrote a song, "Never Learn Not to Love." It was included on the Beach Boys album 20/20, released in early 1969.

Dennis's friendship with Manson ended abruptly when Manson became incensed that he was not given a published credit for writing the song. Following the Tate/LaBianca murders, Dennis received threatening calls from Manson's cult warning him that he was next. He often awoke in the morning to find that the furniture in his home had been mysteriously rearranged during the night. Dennis could finally relax in 1971 after Manson was securely behind bars.

The Vietnam War Spreads

In other world news, the war in Vietnam intensified and spread to Cambodia before the impact of anti-war demonstrations forced the Americans to withdraw. After the tanks of North Vietnam rolled into Saigon, the world witnessed the "killing fields" of Cambodia and the phenomena of the "boat people". India would invade the Eastern Province, expelling the Pakistani forces and creating the new country of Bangladesh. Back home, William McMahon was to replace John Gorton as PM after Gorton, faced with a split vote following a 'no-confidence' motion, was to cast the deciding vote against himself!

The highly acclaimed American childrens series Sesame Street began to air on the ABC in 1971, while over at Channel 0 (10) a new weekly police drama was to hit the small screen - Matlock Police. The Crawford Productions serial was to enjoy a 5 year run, and nearly all Australians that were around to enjoy the show will no doubt remember constable Gary Hogan of Solo One (Paul Cronin) continually radioing "Shirl" at base. GTV9 also debuted some of their new shows, however we doubt anyone at the time would have forseen the enormous popularity of "Hey Hey It's Saturday" hosted by Daryl Somers and his pink feathered friend Ozzie Ostrich. A Current Affair also launched, and was hosted by Mike Willesee.

Formula One Championship:

Jackie Stewart (Britain) / Tyrrell-Ford

1971 Bathurst Winner:

Allan Moffat / XY Falcon GTHO

NRL Grand Final:

South Sydney (16) def. St. George (10)

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Hawthorn (12.10.82) def. St. Kilda (11.9.75)

Melbourne Cup:

Silver Knight (R. B. Marsh)

Wimbledon Women:

Evonne Goolagong d. M. Court (6-4 6-1)

Wimbledon Men:

John Newcombe d. S. Smith (6-3 5-7 2-6 6-4 6-4)

The Movies:

  • The French Connection (number #3 in our Top 5 Car Chase Movies)
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - The French Connection
  • Best Actor - Gene Hackman (The French Connection)
  • Best Actress - Jane Fonda (Klute)

Gold Logie:

Gerard Kennedy (Division 4, Nine) and Maggie Tabberer

The Charts:

  1. Eagle Rock - Daddy Cool
  2. Pushbike Song - The Mixtures
  3. Maggie May - Rod Stewart
  4. I Don't Know How To Love Him - Helen Reddy
  5. Love Is A Beautiful Song - Dave Mills
  6. The Banks Of the Ohio - Olivia Newton John
  7. Black Night - Deep Purple
  8. Daddy Cool - Drummod
  9. L.A. International Airport - Susan Raye
  10. Love Story - Andy Williams


  • Duane Allman (Legendary Southern Rocker)
  • J.C. Penney (Founder of one of the US's most famous retail stores)
  • Igor Stravinsky (Russian composer)
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