So what was this thing called the "Supercar Scare" of 1972? Ok lets get to the beginning as some of the facts are clear and some were a little cloudy. In 1972 it happened so fast it was like wild fire. If it happened today you probably find it would take years to be acted upon. Bathurst was what it was all about and the big race as to win this race was better than winning all the other races combined.
1960: When the original 500
mile event was held at Phillip Island the
rules were for standard production cars with a
clause stating "must comply with the spirit of
the event". The Light Car Club of Australia
took great effort in making it clear that they
only wanted standard cars. There was not even
any prize money for the winner and the cars
were road registered and driven to the event.
It moved to Bathurst a few years later and
soon after specials started appearing in the
race like the GT500 Cortina. As the race grew
in popularity so did the use of ways to
stretch the rules and the next progression was
the factory team and the win at any cost.
Slowly items such as belts, seats, struts,
tyres etc. started to appear and although they
sometimes caused arguments it was slowly but
surely getting away from the standard
production cars. What was happening was
if you could get away with it then it was ok.
There were calls for a minimum of 1000 cars to
be made to prove it was a standard production
car but by the time GM-H entered into the ring
with the new Monaro 327 the minimum was only
June 25th 1972: This was where it began as it was the day that a Sydney newspaper ran a story on the front page that put fear into many people which included some high ranking politicians. "160 mph Supercars", it stated that the three main car companies were about to unleash 160 mph V8 Supercars onto the unwary buying public and at the forefront of these was the so-called XU-2 which was 308 cubic inch version of the XU-1! It was being developed and driven around the streets by none other than the grey fox, Harry Firth who had been to speeds of 145 mph (230 km/h) while testing its performance capability which was not it's top speed. Now compared to todays speeds it may not sound huge but if you remember that this was in 1972 and the 351 GTHO III was only capable of 140 mph. Fitted with Perfectune heads, webbers and flows the Bathurst model Torana would have been easily capable of doing sub 13 second quarter mile times and probably top speeds of around 175 -180 mph with the right gearing down Conrod. The Street version would have been a little more then the 1973 street six cylinder XU-1 which was able to pull off a 15.2 second quarter where as the 1972 Bathurst car of Peter Brock could do a 13.5 second quarter. The standard 308 was about 10kg heavier but had 25% more power than the worked 202 XU-1 engine, 190 bhp verses 240 bhp so if it was tweaked, 300-330bhp would have been on the cards. The E49 was rated at an awesome 302 bhp from 265ci.
June 26th 1972: Chrylser announces it is producing the "the most powerful six cylinder car in the world". NSW Minister for Transportation, Milton Morris was concerned about these specially built cars being driven on the roads. After the Chrysler release things hotted up with people calling them "bullets on wheels" and "death on wheels supercars". The pressure on the car manufacturers was becoming overwhelming and from all directions. It seemed a matter of time and it was Holden that eventually bit the bullet so to speak.
June 30th 1972: GM-H officially announced it was stopping development of the V8 Torana project. Politicians were the main reason for the dropping of the Holden Supercar as there was a bit political blackmail going on. Television, radio and newspapers went into a spin about what had happened and Ford dropped it's planned Phase Four about 2 weeks later and Chrysler dropped it's planned V8 race car as well. The reason this was done was the minimum build to allow the car to enter the Bathurst race was 200 units. Bathurst was and still is the race that counts most for everyone concerned and it was even more important in the 70's as it was a symbol of who had the best car. Sales of the Bathurst winning car would soar for months after so it was important for the manufacturer to have his product in front when the checkered flag fell. The cars then were a lot closer to the street cars than they are today and the public were less informed than the public today about what had been done to these cars to make them perform as well as they did.