1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 'Bathurst' Coupe
Bathurst, home of Australian motor racing, saw a series of epic battles staged between rivals Holden and Ford in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the Monaro drawing first blood in 1968. For 1969, the Holden Dealer Team entries were managed by the legendary Harry Firth for the first time, with Colin Bond teaming up with Tony Roberts to score a sensational victory on Mount Panorama, backed up by Des West and Peter Brock's third place. Norm Beechey's famous yellow HT 350 GTS won the inaugural ATCC and for a time at least, it seemed Holden could do no wrong. A series of limited production, homologation specials were produced in order to qualify certain parts for racing, the first of these being the HK Bathurst Special, with a 327-cid V8 under the bonnet, heavy-duty diff, beefed up suspension and long-range fuel tank. When the improved HT model range was unveiled in May 1969, the HK's 327 V8 was replaced with a more powerful, Chevrolet-sourced 350-cid V8. Holden broadened the appeal of the GTS 350 by adding automatic transmission to the list of options, these cars having a slightly lower compression and detuned engine and were marketed as a Businessman's Express. In manual guise the 350 remained a real rocketship, with a 10.25:1 compression ratio and 300 bhp on tap, making this the most powerful Holden yet. Nobody is certain exactly how many HT 350s were made but the best estimate seems to be around 700. The GTS package added bonnet scoops, stripes and unique wheel trims, along with the option of houndstooth trim. Other mechanical improvements made across the HT range included the adoption of neoprene rubber front suspension bushes to replace the old steel bushings on the HK, resulting in a much more comfortable, quieter ride. The interior also came in for some revision, with a new seat design, door trims and revised instrumentation using more conventional round dials in place of the HK's old strip speedo. With the switch to the Torana as the frontline race weapon in 1970, the HT 350 was the last real Bathurst homologation Monaro built by Holden and as such, has always been sought after by collectors.