A holy grail of race-bred Toranas with rare provenance is about to hit the auction block at Grays, in the form of HDT racer Wayne Negus’s street-driven A9X GMP&A hatch.
The wildest part? It’s been an auto from day dot!
Each was double-seam-welded and gussetted for rigidity, and unnecessary weight was ditched – standard GMP&As had no sound deadening, bumper overriders, stereos or the like. Captive bolts were welded in for rollcage fitment, while some even claim the steel panels and glass were thinner to slash even more weight.
The cars weren’t assigned a body number on their tags either, instead being stamped GMP&A. It all led to some controversy between Holden and CAMS, but the cars were allowed to race.
Street Machine’s own Castrol GTX A9X giveaway from 1987 was a GMP&A hatch, and like the car you see here it was one of a handful to end up on road duties instead of a tough life on the circuit.
This hatch’s original owner was WA racer Wayne Negus, who passed away in 2016. The son of 50s and early 60s racer and later senator Syd Negus, Negus graduated from a Mini to a Series Production XU-1 Torana (one of which just went to auction), before heading east to spin spanners on the HDT fleet in the 70s.
He would later drive with both HDT and on his own, making two Bathurst starts and landing a third spot behind Peter Brock and John Harvey for a Wanneroo Park 1-2-3 finish in 1978. His LX hatch racer survives to this day and can be seen at the Bunbury Motor Museum.
In a 2003-dated letter confirming the car’s authenticity, Negus explains how the roadgoing GMP&A came to be.
While leading a 1977 endurance race at Oran Park with John Harvey, his car stalled at the back of the circuit. Negus ran back to the pits, grabbed some tools, pulled the fuel line off the carby, and sucked up a mouthful of fuel.
He spat it down the barrels, hooked the fuel line back on, and held onto lead, though the issue would soon repeat itself. Negus puts it down to a disintegrating fuel tank sponge blocking the pump valve, and the whole caper got plenty of TV coverage, much to HDT’s glee.
“[They] asked if there was anything they could do for me,” Negus writes. “I said ‘yes please, I would really like an A9X,’ joking of course. Anyway, they said yes.”
Negus supervised the lightweight hatch for a week until it left the production line on a Friday. “I arranged a car trailer to pick up the shell and towed it to a mate’s house in Melbourne, then went back to the plant and picked up the motor and transmission,” he writes.
“I fitted the motor and transmission over the weekend, [and] got a police permit to drive the car back to WA, where I licensed the car.
“The car was ‘run in’ from Melbourne to Ballarat, then driven fairly hard non-stop back to Perth. The trip took a total of 39 hours, which included a 20 min stop at Balladonia for a meal. The only other stops were for fuel.”
The A9X was essentially built back to street trim at the plant, fitted with mod cons like a/c, a stereo and electric antenna, sound deadening, a woodgrain dash and herringbone trim, and even a towbar.
The no-fuss GMP&A white was also replaced with Mustard Yellow, but most notable is the provision for a TH400 auto instead of the standard Super T-10 manual. While the auto wasn’t technically fitted on the production line, it’s about as close as it gets.
The mill was built to L34 specs, which former GMH production supervisor Mike Prowse believes was assembled and delivered to the plant by Repco. It’s still in the car.
Bidding on this car is now live at Grays, so click through to their site for more pics and details! For enquiries, contact Rian Gaffy on 0412 033 827.