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Sunday, May 26, 2024


MORE than 25 years after a frightening testing accident ruled the car out of the Bathurst 1000, Paul Morris’ first V8 touring car is being restored to its Diet Coke glory.

Known as PE 021, this Holden Commodore was built by Perkins Engineering at the start of 1994 for new customer Logamo Racing and campaigned by Morris alongside Tony Longhurst’s Benson & Hedges VP.

The full story of the car is told in our new book, Perkins Engineering: The Cars, 1986-2008, which remains available for pre-order in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.

Morris reveals in the book the cause of the Lakeside testing crash that resulted in him switching to a BMW for the following week’s Tooheys 1000 and reflects on his challenging first foray into V8 racing.

Logamo ordered a replacement chassis from Perkins Engineering but, with the team split up at year’s end, that car (dubbed PE 024) was sold to John Alcorn’s Alcair Racing and never competed in Diet Coke colours.

The crashed PE 021 chassis though was eventually rebuilt and raced as a VS Commodore in a variety of hands between 1998 and 2003, which included two starts in the Bathurst 1000.

PE 021 during the Lakeside ATCC round in 1994. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

It was purchased in 2019 by Alcorn, who was attracted to the car for its connection to his own team’s story and admits the in-progress restoration has proven a big task.

“When we started repairing it, we could not believe the amount of bog that was in the car, it was absolutely terrible,” says Alcorn.

“A lot of extra bars were put in to strengthen it, which made it safe to race, but to get it back to original Perkins spec was a lot of work.

“There’s about three bars in there that the engineers said should stay, but we’ve gotten rid of most and repaired it properly. It’s come up very well.”

Major work has been required to return the car to its original specifications. Pic: Supplied

Alcorn has sourced an original Perkins Holden V8 engine for the car and hopes to have the restoration finished sometime next year.

Its resurrection is taking place alongside that of another Perkins-built Commodore, PE 029, which was controversially converted back from VR to the older VP model by Perkins for Bathurst in 1996.

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