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The ultimate Perkins VL Commodore Group A tribute

SIX-TIME Bathurst 1000 winner Larry Perkins is a legend of Australian motorsport.

The cars his Perkins Engineering business built, developed and raced are the stuff of legends too, so much so that V8 Sleuth published a book in conjunction with Larry and his son Jack documenting the history of all of them in 2021.

There’s a very small amount of unnumbered, unsigned copies remaining here ready to be snapped up now via the V8 Sleuth Superstore.

The VL Commodore Group A SV that Perkins drove in 1990, 1992 and 1993 in a range of liveries – chassis PE 010 – is a special car in his career, and now it’s being paid the ultimate respect in the form of a tribute car.

Long-time Victorian-based motorsport competitor Dylan Innes has turned what started as a COVID club sprint car project into a Perkins tribute car that is set to hit the track soon.

The tribute car is presented in the red #11 Perkins Engineering livery that Perkins used at the Sandown round of the 1992 Australian Touring Car Championship.

It featured a range of other sponsors on its flanks during following rounds of the ATCC that year before turning into a yellow and blue Bob Jane T-Marts car for the Sandown 500 onwards.

The car ran in Castrol livery in early 1993 before Perkins moved into his brand-new VP Commodore, the car that he and Gregg Hansford drove to victory in that year’s Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst.

Perkins heads the BMW of Tony Longhurst at Sandown in 1992. The same Commodore – in different colours – led home a Paul Morris-driven B&H BMW M3 later that year in the Sandown 500. Photo: an1images.com / Graeme Neander.

“It’s coming along quite well,” Innes told V8 Sleuth this week of his tribute VL.

“We’re realistically a couple of months off it hitting the track and then it will get its first real run at the Winton Festival of Speed, the Tribute car guys have got a class they run at that event, so we’ll get it up there.

“Later on, the plan is to do some Sports Sedan stuff and have some fun with it.”

His Perkins VL tribute started its life as a road car that had been set for the wrecking ball.

“A mate of mine saved it from the wreckers and I decided I needed a COVID project after selling the last car I had, but it wound up a bit more advanced than I thought it would be – I’m certainly not complaining though!

“It was going to originally be a quick build to do some club sprints in, but it’s turned into a full-on race car that has a lot of Group A type of spec.”

One thing that isn’t Group A spec is the engine; a 355 cubic inch, dry sump stroker with alloy heads that is currently carburetted with plans of a fuel injection system being introduced down the track.

“It has 611 horsepower off the dyno, which is probably a bit more power than LP had in the red VL back in the day!” says Innes.

“Back in ’92 my dad and I went to that Sandown ATCC round. My dad was a massive fan of the ‘Walkinshaw’ Commodores and Larry and he had a few Walkinshaw road cars, one had a Perkins-built engine in it. In fact, I spotted it in the list of engine numbers in the Perkins car history book!

“I’ve always been a fan of that VL Perkins race car and the livery always took my fancy. I pondered using some other liveries from over history but just couldn’t go past the red Perkins car.

“Given the genuine car has been restored in its Bob Jane T-Marts livery, I thought ‘why lose a livery’ and decided that the red ‘PE’ car was the way to go and the rest is history.”

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