THE final Group C touring cars are among the most beloved racing machines in Australian motorsport history.
Collectively they are known as the ‘Last of the Big Bangers’, but where did that term come from?
It was coined by industry icon Tim ‘Plastic’ Pemberton, then publicity and marketing guru of Holden’s motorsport efforts.
The phrase was used to promote the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team’s brand new VK Commodores, resplendent in white and fluorescent red, which were destined to race only a handful of times before the end of Group C.
Naturally, the two factory Commodores feature in Racing the Lion: An Illustrated History of Holden in Australian Motorsport, a 400-page hardcover book paying tribute to the marque’s rich competition history spanning over seven decades.
So that covers the ‘Last’ part, but what about ‘the Big Bangers’?
“That was only because the Holdens were about to change from five-litre engines to 4.9-litre (to better suit incoming Group A rules),” he told V8 Sleuth in 2019.
“I just thought, well, it’s the last race for the big five-litres … it’s the last of the ‘Big Bangers.’”
Ironically, the difference in capacity between the Group C-spec Holden V8 and its Group A successor was a mere 57cc – 5,044 versus 4,987, or 308 cubic inches against 304 in the old numbers.
The reduction in capacity dropped the Commodore into the 4501-5000cc class and allowed it to shed 80 kilograms from its minimum racing weight.
Although ‘Big Bangers’ was dreamt up for two factory Commodores, the description lent itself naturally to apply to the entire suite of outgoing Group C machinery.
“We did a poster with the car on it and what have you, and the media guys thought it wasn’t bad and got hold of it and used it to promote the Bathurst race,” Pemberton added.
The ‘Last of the Big Bangers’ lived up to the hype: Brock swept all three Australian Endurance Championship races he started in the #05 VK, including claiming the Holden Dealer Team’s first 1-2 result in the Bathurst 1000.