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Allan Moffat’s 1969 Trans-Am Mustang

Submitted by on November 9, 2011

Allan Moffat’s immortal 1969 Trans Am Mustang is one of the greats of Australian motorsport. The car won 101 of 151 races it contested, and today it continues to thrill crowds as part of the incredible Bowden Car Collection.

“The Moffat Mustang is the cornerstone of our muscle car collection,” Bowden claims. “It’s just the best muscle car Australia has ever had.”

Here is the story of the car affectionately known as the “Moffstang” as told by Mark Oastler. This article original appeared in Australian Muscle Car Masters Magazine

THE GREATEST

To generations of fans, Allan Moffat’s Trans-Am Mustang is simply the greatest touring car Australia has ever seen.

Even those too young to have personally witnessed its on-track performances have grown to understand its unique status, from listening wide-eyed to countless stories told by their fathers of the excitement created every time it hit the track.

Australian enthusiasts had never seen anything like it when it erupted onto the local scene in 1969. Sure, they’d already seen earlier model notchback Mustangs driven with great skill by the likes of Pete Geoghegan, Bob Jane, Norm Beechey and others, but Moffat’s ’69 Trans-Am was like something from another planet. Here was a brand new, state-of-the-art Ford factory racer fresh from the US where it had been built to topple Chevrolet in the Trans-Am wars that year. Its shark-like nose, aggressive forward rake, ground-scraping ride height and screaming Boss 302 V8 engine left no one in any doubt about its open-cheque performance pedigree.

Looking very pretty early in its career, painted in the bright red corporate colours of big time sponsor Coca-Cola, somehow this exotic factory racer had found its way to the other side of the world to be driven by a young, little known Canadian with a single-minded determination to become Australia’s first full-time professional racing car driver. To do that, he would have to earn a lot of prize money by winning a lot of races. He certainly chose the right tool for the job.

In an incredible competition career from 1969 to 1974, Moffat and his amazing Mustang amassed 101 race wins from 151 starts (or roughly two wins for every three starts!) and volumes of qualifying and lap records around the country. That stunning strike rate alone could explain this car’s fanatical following, but what made its success all the more astonishing was that Moffat was often competing against muscle monsters with far greater engine capacity. Cars like Bob Jane’s big block 7.0 litre ZL-1 Camaro, Norm Beechey’s 6.0 litre HT GTS Monaro and Pete Geoghegan’s ferocious 5.8 litre Super Falcon all towered over Moffat’s humble 5.0 litres of small block V8, during the “Improved Production” days of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) from 1969 to 1972 .

On tighter tracks with a premium on handling the Coca-Cola Mustang had no peer, yet on renowned power circuits like Sandown and Mount Panorama, Moffat and his Trans-Am could more than hold their own. This was due to the car’s superb aerodynamics, seemingly limitless reserves of braking and cornering power and its driver’s resolute determination to win.

This hard-headed approach was often criticised by his racing peers, earned the wrath of race stewards on occasions and polarised public opinion. You either loved him or you loathed him, yet the ability of Moffat and his Mustang to draw huge crowds to a race track was prized by track promoters around the country.

History records that Moffat never won the ATCC with the Mustang, after four hard years of trying. However, such a statistic is irrelevant when compared to the car’s extraordinary success rate and countless unforgettable performances that have each earned their place in history. There has never been a car like Allan Moffat’s 1969 Boss 302 Trans-Am Mustang. And there never will be. Enjoy.

TRANS-AM: A BRIEF HISTORY

The long path that led to the creation of Allan Moffat’s Mustang can be traced right back to the release of the original Mustang in 1964. America’s first “pony car” created such a buying frenzy that it wasn’t long before Ford’s major competitors in Detroit – General Motors, Chrysler Corporation and American Motors Corporation (AMC) – created their own interpretations of FoMoCo’s sexy, compact performance model fitted with potent small block V8 engines. Indeed, by 1970, the need to succeed in this hip, youth-driven market had also attracted brand divisions within these giant corporations with Lincoln-Mercury (Cougar), Chevrolet (Camaro), Pontiac (Firebird), Dodge (Challenger), Plymouth (Barracuda) and American Motors (Javelin) all competing for buyers at some stage.

Showing remarkable foresight back in 1965, America’s major road racing sanctioning body,   The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), was quick to see the potential to rapidly escalate Detroit’s pony car war by setting up a new competition category for these domestic production sedans. Commencing in 1966, the new category was divided into two classes based on engine capacity – under 2.0 litres (Group I) and over 2.0 litres (Group II) with a maximum engine capacity limit of 5.0 litres. Other key regulations included production of a minimum 1000 units of each model, 116-inch (2946mm) wheelbase, 2900 lbs (1315kgs) fuelled-up racing weight and that each race be a minimum of 2.5 hours in duration.

In another inspired move, the SCCA came up with a brilliant name for its new series – The Trans-American Sedan Championship, or “Trans-Am” for short. This series would go down in history as the catalyst for some of the greatest muscle cars and ferocious ‘knock ’em down, drag ’em out’ manufacturer-backed racing that the world has ever seen.

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