Kerry Dowling's VN Commodore Group A - extras

By: Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

KerryDowling VN GPAcommodore Kerry Dowling with his VN Group A Commodore KerryDowling VN GPAcommodore

VN Group A owner Kerry Dowling gave us some extra material on his favourite obsession - here are the bits that didn't make it into print.

Kerry Dowling's immaculate VN Group A features in issue 454 of Unique Cars magazine and, while it's a great story, we didn't have room to run the whole thing in print.

So here are a few little bonus pieces he sent us.

tooheysCommodores.jpg

The Tooheys 1000 Cars

As naming rights sponsor for the annual big race at Bathurst, Tooheys came up with a novel promotion. It purchased two Durif Red cars and repainted them black as a giveaway to one lucky punter, exclaiming "one for you and one for your mate", from memory.

I think you had to cut a piece of a carton coupon for one entry. I know I entered and checked out a few bottle shop bins!

Anyway when I was looking to buy my second Group A, one of the black cars popped up for sale. Again I am a bit vague on this but I think it was the son of the winner. I drove out to somewhere in the Liverpool to Smithfield region to look at the car.

I stood outside his garage as he went inside a gate and entered the garage unseen in a side or back door, and I chuckled to myself listening to what sounded like numerous chains and locks were being undone. After a couple of minutes the door finally opened and there it was.

We had a conversation where I said there are only two black ones, should be worth something one day, he agreed, but I was really disappointed with the black re-paint job and of course all the stone chips were Durif Red so I decided to keep looking and found a Durif car with just 4000km on the clock on blocks. It hadn’t even had its first service!

The Great Race

Sunday October 6, 1991, saw the 32nd running of the the Great Race, The Tooheys 1000.

The top 10 shootout saw two Nissan Godzilla’s sitting on the front row of the grid, where a factory-backed team masterminded by Fred Gibson saw a young Mark Skaife put the GT-R on pole in record breaking fashion, being the first driver since Brock to produce fastest qualifying lap ever, fastest race lap and the win. (The lap record was set in the team's #2 car he won in the #1 car.)

He was also fastest production car down Conrod straight 293km/h, a record not broken until 2010!

In contrast the naturally-aspirated VN Group A driven by Brock attained 278km/h and the VL Group As entered topped out at 270km/h.

The VN Group A didn’t just have GTRs to contend with but had to battle strong teams of Ford Sierra RS5000s, so the top ten grid looked like this:

  1. Richards/Skaife Nissan GTR                     
  2. Gibbs/Onslow Nissan GTR
  3. Seton/Hansford Sierra RS 5000                 
  4. Shiel/Radisich Sierra RS 5000
  5. Johnson/Bowe Sierra RS 5000
  6. Brock/Miedecke VN Group A
  7. Price/Walden Nissan GTR                           
  8. Perkins/Mezera VN Group A
  9. Parsons/Park Sierra RS 5000                       
  10. Grice/ Percy VN Group A (defending Champions)

The VN Group A of Alan Grice and Win Percy finished second outright although a lap down on the all-conquering Skaife/Richards GT-R. But as consolation they were a lap up on the third place GT-R of Gibbs/Onslow.

It’s also noteworthy the first three VN Group As were to finish in second, seventh and eighth positions, beating home seven VL Group As and a swathe of Sierras.

If you have not seen Brock’s 1991 insane qualifying lap, absolutely wringing the neck of the Group A, check it out on this link.

It was never going to be a fair fight. It was a race between rear drive Holden V8 retrotech versus Nissan supertech electronically-controlled all-wheel drive, with parameters masterminded by Gibson’s amazing local technicians to determine the amount of power front to rear giving it magnetic track holding.

The GT-Rs ran 477kW - 596Nm twin turbo compared to the VN Group A numbers of 421kW – 582Nm.

It was always going to be a tough ask and consider at the top of Panorama, 862mt above sea level, the V8 would lose 15kW but Gibson could adjust the twin turbo settings to maintain power. The GT-R could blast 0-60kph in 1.6 sec, while the Group A managed 0-60 2.9 sec. In a 0-100 contest, it got worse for the Holden.

Rolling Super?

If you're thinking of buying a Group A, or similar, I like to start with the premise that a good classic is just suoperannuation you can play with.

When you are a confessed obsessed car tragic like myself, and subscribe to Unique Cars mag, you tend to think you have your finger on the pulse of prices for the muscle and classic cars. Had you asked me a year ago pre-Covid, it’s true I could have told you.

However, just like the real estate market, the muscle car prices have gone nuts! With prices growing weekly, I’m sure it is due to no overseas travel, in my own case I hadn’t had a decent overseas holiday jaunt since I had hair, and my wife saved for ages for a dream trip for us, this disposable income has to go somewhere.

The VN Group A prices continue to climb and they often change hands without advertising. This comes about through car club meetings and murmurings where a member will say, "mate if you ever want to sell, I’m serious". If you dare just whisper that you are thinking of selling, the phone starts ringing, the bush telegraph is amazing.

Just these past three months I understand that one changed hands at $183k, another one at $200+ and we have seen higher numbers at auction.

Kerry Dowling

 

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