The first weekend in September heralds the return to spring weather in Australia. Spring begins in Australia as fall does here in North America. Perfect 75-degree temperatures greeted a massive crowd for the second running of the Muscle Car Masters at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway.
I guess the logical place to start with this story is some forty years ago when the seeds of the Australian muscle car scene were sown. Before the mid-sixties just about every car made in Australia had a four or six-cylinder engine. V8s were not to be found in any significant numbers. The same went for the high performance aftermarket scene, which only had sporadic forays into V8 performance before the end of the ‘60s down under.
The real barometer for performance back then was the Annual Bathurst 1000 race (then called the Gallaher 500 mile race – sponsored by the Irish cigarette company). In 1966 a Morris Mini won the event but in 1967 it had moved over to the V8 and the participation of the local car makers. V8s in local cars continue to this day though Chrysler in Australia dropped out of local production in 1980 when they sold operations to Japanese giant Mitsubishi.
As you may have seen in the Pentastorm news item recently Australian-made Chryslers are a quite bit different from their North American counterparts. While Chrysler made a Charger here it was nothing like the famous Dodge Charger in the “Dukes of Hazzard.” I once went to the Australian Street Machine Nationals in a Chrysler/Valiant “Drifter” sedan delivery, but I digress. Let’s get back to the Masters.
The inaugural Masters last year was a one-day affair. The event marred by rain that didn’t stop from 4 am to 4pm, but still a solid 6,000 people came out to attend the event. The event had a large display of some 400 classic muscle cars mainly from large enthusiast clubs but in March this year when the number reached 700, entries were closed.