THE Holden Dealer Team remains one of the most famous squads in the history of Australian touring car racing, so to take an up-close look at any of its former cars is indeed something special.
The car featured in this story, the ex-Bond 24C LJ Torana XU-1 now owned by collector John Anderson, was born in the wake of Colin Bond’s early exit from the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst.
And it holds a unique place in history as the only HDT car raced for the famous team by Dick Johnson!
Bond, the 1969 Bathurst 500 winner was sent out by team boss Harry Firth on intermediate tyres for the wet start of the 1972 race, but not even the sublime skill of Bondy was able to navigate the tricking conditions without crashing out at the top of the Mountain.
To rub salt in the wounds, the recovery crew sent to recover the smashed Torana slung chains through the windscreen and the side windows to pick it up and carry it!
That kinked the roof and there’s also a report of the car smashing up against the back of the tow truck while it was swinging on the chain!
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The HDT transferred the running gear into to a brand-new shell hurriedly organised for the team in order to get Bond back onto the track for the next round of the ManChamp series at Phillip Island a few weeks later.
As it turned out, the new Bond #24C Torana then went on to enjoy a few more years with the HDT before the arrival of the V8-powered SLR/5000 Torana.
The XU-1 ran the rest of the ’72 ManChamp Series and was again wheeled out in 1973, reportedly for teammate Peter Brock to drive at the Bathurst Easter event, and later in the year for Bond to drive in the ManChamp round at Phillip Island.
Wearing new Marlboro signage, the little XU-1 then helped Bond seal the Sun-7 Series at Amaroo Park, winning two of the three rounds it competed in. It’s also understood to have been the same car that Dick Johnson drove in his one-off appearance for the HDT at that year’s Surfers Paradise round of the Australian Touring Car Championship.
TORANA IN PRINT: Order ‘Racing The Lion’ here, our 400 page hardcover Holden motorsport history book here, packed with Toranas!
Decommissioned as a race car soon after, it was sold as a road car in April 1975 and then went on a long journey through no less than 11 more owners, covering Kyabram (where it was sold via the local Holden dealer, Brewster & Maddern) and Wodonga in country Victoria, back to Melbourne, then to Orbost and on to Albany and Geramungap in Western Australia.
Painted black and then mustard yellow, the ex-HDT Torana eventually found itself into the hands of Daryl Caine in 2006, who confirmed the real race identity of his car via Firth and ex-HDT crew member Ian Tate.
Sadly, he passed away two years later and a range of his friends, including fellow HDT enthusiast Larry Kavanagh, assisted to place the car on display at the National Motoring Museum in Birdwood in South Australia.
Now in the hands of current owner John Anderson, the ex-Bond XU-1 been put back to its 1973 mechanical specification, featuring 58mm Webers, and is presented in its #24C Bond HDT red, white and black colouring.
While the body itself may not have raced in ‘The Great Race, this car has a unique and direct link to one of the HDT’s Bathurst challengers and scored some silverware of its own in the final year of the six-cylinder XU-1’s racing life with the Firth-led squad.