BATHURST POLE BLUEBIRD SET FOR FIRST RACE SINCE 1985
THE Nissan Bluebird in which George Fury scored a record pole position for the 1984 Bathurst 1000 is ready for its first race in nearly 37 years.
The Group C machine is part of a strong entry list for heritage touring car racing at the Sydney Classic at Sydney Motorsport Park on June 11-12.
It will be launched by Nissan owner and enthusiast Brian Henderson, who has previously competed in heritage touring car events aboard the Group A machines Skyline DR30 and Gazelle.
Henderson’s Bluebird was the last of three built to Australian Group C rules in the early 1980s and made its winning debut at the hands of Fury in the 1983 Oran Park 250 enduro.
The car suffered mechanical problems at Sandown and Bathurst, the latter after a qualifying effort from the front row, ahead of victory in the touring car support race at Calder’s Australian Grand Prix meeting.
In 1984 Gary Scott raced the car in the AMSCAR series, the final ATCC round in Adelaide and the Silastic 300 at Amaroo Park (which he won), before sharing it with Fury in Bathurst.
There, Fury stunned the Holden and Ford V8 heroes by taking pole position with a lap of 2:13.85s, which is the fastest ever for a touring car on the pre-Chase layout.
It was Great Race’s first pole for a Japanese, turbocharged car, and 24 seconds quicker than Fury’s previous Bluebird in qualifying on its Bathurst debut in 1981!
Bathurst’s race however was a disappointment as the Fury/Scott entry lost many laps with differential issues and finished 16th.
This car’s racing life with the factory team ended on a high note, however, as Fury again won the Calder AGP support race, which was the last major event of the Group C era. .
It was also the only time the legendary Holden Dealer Team VK “Big Bangers” was defeated.
This Bluebird was loaned to Scott to race as a sports sedan in 1985 before being restored by Gibson Motorsport, who had taken over the Nissan team from Howard Marsden.
It was retained by Gibson until it was sold to collector Terry Ashwood in 2001, from whom current owner Henderson purchased it in 2013.
The following year the car was used by the V8 Supercars Nissan Motorsport team, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of Fury’s pole position with a retro livery.
The promotion involved Fury getting back behind the wheel of the car for a filming session at Winton and demonstration laps at the Bathurst 1000.
Henderson’s subsequent attempts to race the car at Sandown in November of that year and at Bathurst in 2015 were nullified by mechanical issues and the car sat idle until this year.
“The car hasn’t raced at all since the last race meeting it had in sports sedans with Gary Scott in 1985,” Henderson confirmed to V8 Sleuth.
“Mechanically, everything has been completely refreshed with a new engine, a new gearbox, all new, all built with respect for the times.
“We did a practice day at Ipswich in February and it all went well, and we were supposed to race at the historic Morgan Park meeting (in May), but we got caught in flooding on the way up.
Henderson is also preparing the Bluebird sister – the second of three built and raced by Fury/Fred Gibson at Bathurst in 1981 and 1982 – for owner Adam Workman.
Once a regular in Heritage Touring Cars, this car has also been refreshed and will head to Sydney Motorsport Park for its first race since 2016.
“This will be the first time since 1984 that the two Bluebirds have raced together,” Henderson noted.
“The cars will look a treat and hopefully reward us with some reliability. I can’t wait to get the cars out and let people enjoy them and see them on track.
Australia’s Bluebird racing program is perhaps best known for two things: Fury’s pole lap at Bathurst and unreliable engines.
There are plenty of crazy stories about how powerful the 1.8-litre turbocharged engines were at their peak, as well as the tricks the factory team used to alter the boost during the race!
Henderson has consulted with those involved with the original Bluebird racing program, however, and is well aware of the limitations of the engines.
“It’s a decent 350-400 horsepower engine, depending on the temperature on the day. They’re just a Z18ET crossflow engine, that’s pretty much what they do,” said he declared.
“The kind of results we’re getting, the horsepower and torque are very similar to what they had back then, but probably a bit safer because we have better engine control.
“Adam and I both have Motecs so we have a little more safety in our engines than they had, it was a bit of a Hail Mary!
“The engines however have very good torque characteristics, they start very strong, very early, but everything stops before 7,000 rpm, so we don’t need to rev them.
“They have big tires and they are not very heavy, so they are quite pleasant to drive, unlike the DR30…”