Round Oz Trial Replica Commodore - today's tempter

By: Rod & Greg Owers

Presented by

IMG 0273 Reliability Trial Commodore IMG 0273
group Reliability Trial cars with Barry Ferguson group
bush Reliability Trial Commodore bush
numberplate light Lucky find - an original numberplate light numberplate light
radios Reliability Trial Commodore radios
track day A bit of track time in WA. track day
IMG 4484 Reliability Trial Commodore at the finish line. IMG 4484
donor car The donor car - a 1980 Vacationer donor car

Reliability Trial competitors share their story

Father-son team Rod and Greg Owers built an HDT Commodore replica for this year’s Reliability Trial re-run. Here they give us a bit of an insight in what it took to participate. Oh, and the car is now for sale

In early 2017 we became aware of Todd Martin’s proposed Repco Round Australia Reliability Re-Trial and by mid-February had entered and committed to build a tribute car of the original Car 3. 40 years ago Shekhar Menta, Rauno Aaltonen and Barry Lake drove the Holden Dealer Team entered VB Commodore to third place.

We decided that a s-x-cylinder car had to be sourced and luckily a friend was prepared to offload his 130,000 km factory four-speed original Vacationer to be the starting point.

The engine along with the rest of the driveline was rebuilt to ensure reliability, with this in mind we kept it relatively standard, only fitting a mild cam, extractors and slight increase in compression but retaining the factory air-conditioner.

With the knowledge that Peter Ferguson had also entered the event and to drive his father’s original car from 1979 the #17 HDT Commodore our goal was to produce a tribute car that could be parked proudly beside the #17 and add to the colour of this 40th Anniversary. Thanks to Peter we made several trips to NSW to take photos, tracings and measurements of the special mods that were made to these cars and was granted permission to get inside the #05 Brock winning car at the Bathurst Car Museum.

The front and rear bumpers were made by Greg along with the spares box behind the drivers seat and the navigators panel. The rally trip meters and lights were sourced via eBay from around the world.

A lucky find at a local swap meet was the special rear number plate light used on the original cars

The signwriting was sourced from the same company that had been used by the Ferguson’s when they re-painted the #17 car.

One of the challenging items to get right was the colours, after many test samples being sent to Peter we finally found the original codes and proved to be spot on when the car was placed beside the original #05 and #17 cars at Bathurst during the event. Thomas-Parker Rare Spares provided the paint.

Over the next 12 months the car was displayed at several Tasmanian car shows, historic meetings at Baskerville and Phillip Island along with a trip to Bathurst Supercars just to get some kays under it.

With the start being exactly 40 years to the day it was finally great to get underway and flagged off by Bev Brock.

With a 9.09am start time on August 5, the first 350km to Port Fairy had us doubting their navigational skills (this was a first for them as only form of competition prior was some club racing) as it was 2.12pm when the check point was finally found. All smiles though when advised we were one of the first to arrive.

With many cars lost and some bogged we were held there for two hours before continuing onto Mt Gambier for the night. During this late afternoon drive a driving light was destroyed when a large kangaroo jumped into our path.

With the next three days being an average of 500km-plus, and much of this on dirt, we were quickly into early morning starts that included a briefing some 30 minutes prior to the first car getting away.

On day five we detoured into the Koonalda Homestead to check out the abandoned vehicles from the 60s and 70s and we first got to assemble the three HDT cars for a photo shot.

The next morning as we assembled at the Old Telegraph Station at Eucla for our run into Kalgoorlie we were joined by the 2 HDT support vehicles and the Mule Commodore, with Barry Ferguson adding to the photo opportunity.

The trip had some good deviations along the way. A typical morning start saw the cars assemble at a local Repco outlet/civic square or original 1979 point of interest.  Week two we detoured to Barbagallo Raceway just north of Perth with the opportunity to turn a few laps.

The finishing line greeted us after 28 days, 15,578km, 1993 litres of fuel costing $3421, and 925 route instructions. It was a big trip!

Reliability Trial finisher gallery

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