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HomeNewsBathurstThe Perkins-built Commodores forever linked in history

The Perkins-built Commodores forever linked in history

LARRY Perkins’ Melbourne-based engineering business produced a range of Commodore race cars for its own use, but also a large quantity for a long list of privateer racers.

They are all documented in the hugely-popular book V8 Sleuth published in 2021 covering the history of each Perkins Engineering-built car – a small number of unnumbered, unsigned media review copies are still available here in the V8 Sleuth Superstore.

One of Perkins’ customers was David ‘Truckie’ Parsons, the former truck racer that made the move into V8 touring car racing with a Perkins-built customer Commodore during the 1995 Australian Touring Car Championship.

In fact, Parsons ended up having two different Commodores built for him by Perkins and both cars are among the multitude of unique race and road cars part of the ‘UnReil Collection’ being auctioned by Lloyds Auctions this weekend.

Parsons’ first VR Commodore – Perkins Engineering chassis 026 – ended up crashing out of the 1995 Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst when suspension failure pitched it into the wall at the top of Mountain Straight.

The body shell was sold to John Faulkner who looked to use it for his foray into V8 touring car racing, but he ended up buying a car from the Holden Racing Team instead.

PE 026 later passed through the hands of a few private owners and was used in club level racing before being returned to its former Parsons Bathurst 1995 livery in 2014 and later acquired by former V8 Supercar privateer Neil Schembri.

Schembri also had connections with Perkins given he’d bought Larry’s first Castrol VR – PE 025 – and raced it in the mid to late 1990s before it was written off in a nasty crash at Phillip Island in 2000.

Perkins supplied Parsons with a replacement Commodore for 1996 – PE 028 – and the privateer continued to race that before running low on funds, though this car also ended up with a Schembri connection.

It was sold to and raced by Ballarat privateer Robert Smith in the late 1990s and early 2000s and then went through a few hands, later being returned to its 1996 Parsons Transport livery when raced by Bradley Neill in the V8 Touring Car Series’ Heritage class.

MORE: Perkins’ Australia Day honour

Schembri eventually ended up buying PE 028 and had it re-liveried in the blue and yellow hues of his departed GearBox Commodore that had been written off in the Phillip Island Konica V8 Lites crash.

He appeared with the car at the 2022 Sydney Classic at Sydney Motorsport Park to turn laps, a circuit where the car made its racing debut in Parsons’ hands in the opening round of the 1996 Australian Touring Car Championship.

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