A CAR designed to win the prestigious Can-Am sports car series is the latest to join a special display marking Repco’s 100th anniversary at this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000.
The Repco-engined Matich SR4 will form part of the ‘Repco in Motorsport’ exhibition at the National Motor Racing Museum as the company continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
While Repco’s engines are best known for their success in open-wheel racing, the Matich was aimed at delivering the company success in one of the most revered categories of sports car racing worldwide.
Matich was regarded as one of Australia’s top drivers of the 1960s, having raced competitively with visiting F1 stars when they came Down Under for the annual Tasman Series.
Instead of following the path to Europe laid by Jack Brabham, Matich looked to take his self-built race cars to North America.
The Can-Am Series was a sports car category where engine capacity was unlimited and technical rules restricted only by a designer’s imagination, it’s rich prize purse and ‘anything goes’ philosophy attracting factory entries from the likes of McLaren, Ford, Ferrari and Porsche, as well as from independent racers like Matich.
A pilot campaign in 1967 aboard his Matich SR3 revealed its 4.4-litre Repco V8 lacked the power of its six-litre Chevrolet V8-engined rivals so Matich plotted a return in 1968 with his new SR4, built and designed with Henry Nehrybecki and fitted with a 4.8-litre, quad-cam version of the Repco V8.
However, the car never got the chance to race in the category it was designed for.
Delays in the build of both chassis and engine meant Matich missed the 1968 Can-Am season, while a lack of funds and the ending of Repco’s F1 engine program meant a 1969 campaign wasn’t viable.
Instead, the SR4 dominated the Australian scene. Matich romped to victory in the inaugural Australian Sports Car Championship in 1969 with victories in the three rounds at Warwick Farm, Surfers Paradise and Sandown.
However, the SR4’s competition life was brief; Matich parked the car for 1970 in order to focus on Formula 5000, and its ownership passed to Repco.
The car lives on in the hands of former Repco engineer Nigel Tait, who purchased the car in 2005 having looked after the machine for first Repco then ACL for the preceding three decades.
The Matich SR4 is the latest car to be announced for the ‘Repco in Motorsport’ exhibition with more to be revealed in the lead up to this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000, held on October 6-9, 2022.