Holden LH Torana L34 – Holden Dealer Team, Hardie Ferodo 1000 4th Place – O’Brien/Negus
Holden Dealer Team LH Torana L34 driven by Charlie O’Brien and Wayne Negus to finish in 4th place at the 1976 Hardie-Ferodo 1000.
Harry Firth and the Holden Dealer Team certainly had something to prove heading to Mount Panorama for the 1976 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst. While the crack Holden squad had tasted success in the 1974 ManChamp Series and 1975 Australian Touring Car Championship, the jewel in the Australian motorsport crown – the Bathurst 1000 – had so far eluded their factory L34 Toranas.
After failing on a grand scale in 1974 and being out-done by privateer Peter Brock in 1975, Firth was eager for a result and arrived at Mount Panorama with a two-car team; car #1 crewed by stars Colin Bond and John Harvey and car #8 crewed by Queenslander Charlie O’Brien and Western Australian Wayne Negus.
Gold Coaster O’Brien had made his Bathurst 1000 debut a year earlier in a privateer Torana L34 while Negus had finished runner-up two years earlier, also in a Torana, with Bob Forbes.
The duo’s first Bathurst start for the Holden Dealer Team saw them qualify their #8 Torana seventh fastest with a 2m28.3s lap, just over three seconds slower than pole man Allan Moffat’s Hardtop Falcon.
A total of 16 L34 Toranas started the Bathurst race in ’76 but the #8 Torana almost instantly found itself in troubles on race day. Negus started the race and later in the day O’Brien found himself running in a solid third and looking good for a podium, though reportedly running on seven cylinders. But Team Brock’s Peter Brock – delayed earlier in the day – was charging in the latter stages and got by O’Brien in the closing laps to grab third place and relegate the second HDT Torana to fourth place with both cars running around three laps behind the leaders.
That was the position both cars held to the line, crossing 3.1-seconds apart to give O’Brien what would remain his best Bathurst 1000 finish for 18 years until he ran home fourth alongside Tony Longhurst in 1994.
The 1976 race is mostly remembered for the agonizingly slow final laps run by John Fitzpatrick in Bob Morris’ wounded, though eventually race-winning, Ron Hodgson Torana L34.
However, with the HDT car of Bond and Harvey finishing second and O’Brien/Negus fourth, it marked the third time that a pair of HDT cars had finished in the top four at Bathurst and the last time until 1982.
Produced in die-cast with fully opening parts, highly detailed engine bay, boot, racing interior and a beautifully replicated livery, this is a must have limited edition collectable for Holden, HDT, HRT and Bathurst 1000 fans.
It will be produced in an exclusive limited edition of only 402 pieces featuring a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.