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Stunning tribute Sports Sedan breaks cover

ONE of Australian Sports Sedan racing’s most iconic cars has been stunningly recreated over 20 years after the original was destroyed.

Bryan Thomson’s VW Type III Fastback Sports Sedan was built by his long-time engineer Peter Fowler in the mid-1970s to contest Calder’s $100,000 Marlboro Sports Sedan Series.

Like John McCormack’s famous Chrysler Charger of the period, the VW utilised Formula 5000 componentry in a bid to create the ultimate tin top.

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Thomson and Fowler took the concept a step further by choosing a rear-engined road car, from which a mid-mounted engine position – mimicking that in a Formula 5000 – could be adopted.

A McLaren M10B Formula 5000 was gutted to build the unlikely weapon, which Thomson drove in the 1974 and ’75 series, finishing a narrow runner-up on both occasions.

Thomson at the wheel of the original car at Calder. Pic: an1images.com / Trevor Thomas

Thomson halted his racing exploits at the end of that season and sold the car. Briefly campaigned by new owner Vince Gregory, the VW was later stripped of its components for a Formula 5000 restoration.

Fowler subsequently rescued the bodyshell and stored it at Thomson’s rural property with the intention of one day restoring it.

Unable to justify the time and expense of such a project and fearing anyone else attempting a sub-par effort, the pair eventually decided to scrap the shell – burning the remains in 1999!

Fast-forward more than 20 years and the history of Sports Sedan racing is being celebrated through the recently minted Historic Sports Sedan Association and its president Simon Pfitzner.

Having purchased another Thomson/Fowler creation, a Mercedes 450 SLC, Pfitzner wanted to recreate the VW Fastback and enlisted Fowler to do the honours.

Inside the beast. Pic: an1images.com

“I got to know Peter through buying the Mercedes,” Pfitzner explained to V8 Sleuth.

“I spoke to him when I first got it and asked what happened to the Volkswagen. I said to him ‘I’ll see how I go with time and money, maybe one day I might build one’.

“After thinking about it more, I rang Peter and said, ‘my silly idea with the Volkswagen, it’s probably better if you build it, because I’ll just be ringing you and asking what to do!’.

“He was retiring at that stage, and he’s said it’s been quite good for him, because it’s given him something to do that he’s passionate about. He’s been building it in his workshop.”

The tribute car appeared in public for the first time at Mallala Motorsport Park’s All Historic Meeting last weekend, Fowler taking it to the event for static display.

The recreation on display at Mallala. Pic: an1images.com

“I’ve supplied as many parts as we could, based on what Peter said was in the original,” explained Pfitzner, who runs the internationally renowned Pfitzner Performance Gearboxes.

“We sourced McLaren uprights, a Hewland transaxle, we got that all rebuilt, the original bellhousing, a five-litre engine, Lucas fuel injection system… and then he started the build.

“We’re two or three years into it. This weekend (at Mallala) is the first time I’ve seen it, he’s sent me pictures every now and then, but it’s pretty exciting to have it here.

“Peter’s done a stunning job of it. I said to him it’s probably a little too nice to use, but Peter said we built it to use it and we will be using it!”

Originally hoping to have it running at Mallala, it’s now likely the car will appear with the Historic Sports Sedan field as an ‘invited recreation’ later this year.

The mid-mounted engine and transaxle as seen through the boot. Pic: an1images.com

“The engine and trans are built, clutch is done, the car is a roller, it’s just wiring, fuel system, oil system, water, the mechanical Lucas fuel injection has got to be completed,” added Pfitzner.

“There’s a bit of tin work to do, but a lot of it is done. It’s at the stage now where you could put a lot of hours in and probably not see it, because it’s all hidden under the dash.

“We don’t have a set target (for completion). Peter definitely wants to go to Sandown with it and we’d love to go to Baskerville, but I think we’ve missed the cut-off for booking the boat.

“We’ll see how we go. We’d obviously like to go back to the tracks that the car ran at.”

Pfitzner paced the field in three of the ‘Super Sprint’ sessions for the Historic Sports Sedans at Mallala aboard the ex-Thomson Mercedes.

The category will be back in action as part of the Sydney Classic at Sydney Motorsport Park on June 9-11.

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