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Friday, June 14, 2024


HARRY Firth’s famed Queens Avenue workshop that served as the first home of the Holden Dealer Team has been demolished.

The site – 33-35 Queens Avenue in Auburn – was purchased in March 2019 by developers, who lodged plans earlier this year to build a $7 million six-storey commercial/residential building in its place.

While Boroondara City Council has yet to give the plan final approval, the hallowed workshops that sat on the site have been partially demolished.

Reputedly built in the 19th century as a Cobb & Co station, the workshop became home to Firth Motors from 1962 through to Firth’s retirement in 1978.

From within its walls came many of the most iconic and successful touring cars and rally cars of that era, many of which appear in our upcoming limited-edition release Racing the Lion: An illustrated history of Holden in Australian motorsport, 400-page hardcover book that will feature an entire chapter devoted to the Holden Dealer Team among a celebration of Holden’s heritage in racing.

Packed with photos never before published, it’s the perfect collector’s piece and can be pre-ordered HERE.

Firth in his workshop in mid-1977, his final year running the Holden Dealer Team.

Initially, however, it was a succession of fast Fords that emerged from Firth’s Queens Avenue workshop, with the Ford Cortina GT500, the 1967 Bathurst-winning Ford Falcon XR GT, and the Ford Falcon XT GTs that tackled the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon all prepared on the site.

Holden’s recruitment of Firth in 1969 saw the Holden Dealer Team operate primarily out of the Auburn workshop for the next nine years.

Among the iconic machines produced in that period were the 1969 Bathurst-winning Holden Dealer Team Monaro GTS 350, the first car Peter Brock raced to victory in a Bathurst 500, the outlawed V8-powered Holden Torana LJ XU-1 prototype Series Production car, the Beasts – the HDT’s supercharged rallycross Torana, and its Repco-Holden V8-powered Torana Sports Sedan – the Holden Torana LH SL/R 5000 L34, and the Holden Torana A9X … and that’s just to name a few.

The site in June 2019 as captured by Google Street View.

John Sheppard’s appointment as HDT chief saw him move the team to Chetwynd Street, North Melbourne for 1978.

Firth’s workshop then became home to the car preparation and engine business run by former HDT mechanics Ian Tate and Matthew Philip, with Tate retaining the building through to the end of 2000.

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