THE FORD MUSTANG THAT SAW THE BEGINNING AND END OF GROUP A
DIFFERENT iterations of Ford Mustangs have appeared in different eras of touring cars and Australian racing – but only one car can claim to have covered the start and end of the Group A era.
Lawrie Nelson Mustang Capri Components, available for sale now via the V8 Sleuth Showroom here was at the very first race in which Group A cars entered – the 1984 Castrol 500 at Sandown – as well as the very last Group A event in 1992 at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Adelaide.
Along the way he appeared in a series of Australian Touring Car Championship rounds, two Bathurst 1000s and six Sandown 500s.
Nelson, a longtime Capri driver, imported a Mustang GT from the United States in 1984 and turned it into a race car from there.
The Victorian privateer already held a special place in ATCC history by this time, as it had contributed to Ford’s list of championship wins, albeit in a race often overlooked in the story.
The then Capri driver won the only three-litre race held as part of the ATCC’s Oran Park round in 1979, when organizers held separate races for small and large cars.
So he helped contribute to Ford’s 400 milestonee ATCC / Supercars championship race victory won last year by Anton De Pasquale at The Bend, celebrated in a limited edition available here in the V8 Sleuth Superstore.
Nelson’s Mustang made its first appearance in the Group A class of the 1984 Castrol 500 at Sandown, but a litany of problems with the new car led him to retire it after practice and race his trusty Capri at the place.
Nelson and Peter Jones took the ‘Stang to Bathurst to compete in the Group A class of that year’s ‘Great Race’, but only completed one lap due to steering problems.
The Capri Components Mustang was a more regular presence in the 1985 ATCC, including the opening round of the Group A era at Winton. Nelson went four more rounds that year with a best sixth-place finish in Winton’s season opener.
He teamed up with Bill O’Brien for Sandown and Bathurst although the pair did not complete any of the endurance classics. As other Ford racers moved into Sierras, Victorian Nelson stood firm with this Mustang, although his appearances from then on continued to be largely limited to his home country.
Nelson and the Capri Components car appeared in all three ATCC rounds in 1986, two in 1987, four in 1988, three in 1989 and a final appearance at Phillip Island in 1990 and he and the car were regulars in the annual Sandown 500 every year until 1989.
Since the car had such a long life in Group A racing, it was able to take advantage of a range of homologation upgrades that made this Mustang the most successful car of its type in the world. .
In 1986 the internals of the Getrag gearbox were upgraded to the stronger Holinger gear set and CAMS allowed a full floating nine inch Ford differential with a Harrop alloy center to be fitted in 1987.
In 1990, CAMS allowed a range of freedoms to the normally aspirated V8 engined Group A cars, so Lawrie used those changes to fit a Ford Motorsport four-bolt Windsor engine block, Ford SVO aluminum cylinder heads and a manifold manifold. single aluminum alloy intake.
The very last appearance of the Group A touring cars in Australia was at the 1992 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide and it was only fitting that Nelson would dust off the Mustang and join the field for a final blast of ‘period’ .
Participating in this Adelaide event meant that this historic Mustang held the very unique distinction of being the only car present at the very beginning and very end of the Group A era in Australia, from Sandown 1984 to Adelaide 1992 .
This piece of Ford motorsport history has now been on the market since its third and current owner. The car underwent a full rotisserie restoration at Gunnedah Repairs with a new all-steel roll cage installed along with a new fuel cell and complete engine rebuild by Brad Tilley Auto Garage.
The car has been a regular in heritage touring cars and comes with a Motorsport Australia description certificate, allowing it to compete in historic motorsport in Australia. It is also highly eligible for historic Group A races around the world.
Watch this Mustang in action below in Bathurst when it competed in the Heritage Touring Cars class at the Mountain: