It’s one of Australian motorsport’s great controversies, but the argument of which ‘Big Banger’ was the 1984 Bathurst winner has ended.
An argument over which Holden VK Commodore HDT Group C race car was the winner of the 1984 Bathurst 1000 has finally come to an end.
The Bowden family – owners of car care products Bowden’s Own – recently acquired one of the two HDT Commodores in the dispute, and replaced Peter Brock’s iconic ‘05’ on the doors with John Havey’s ‘25’.
Affectionately known as the ‘Big Banger,’ those involved in the Holden Dealer Team at the time have long said the real winner of the 1984 race was donated to the Bathurst Council after the race, living in the National Motor Racing Museum at Mount Panorama.
However, over the years some pundits have argued the late Peter Brock won The Great Race in the other identical Commodore, which has passed through a number of collectors in recent years.
Part of the dispute comes from a letter penned by Brock himself, in which he told a former owner this vehicle (‘car two’ from here on, for clarity) was the true race winner.
Despite the confusion, Brock did indeed drive the vehicle (car two), showing it off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2005 – just one year before his death – where a decal inside inside the car read “This is the real 05”.
In 2018, a logbook surfaced which was said to have proved car two’s credentials – but one person who sighted the artefact at the time told Drive it was in suspiciously good condition for a document that was almost four decades old.
It’s understood the Bowden family had reviewed the evidence before acquiring the car, acknowledging it as being the number ‘25’ car.
But the ‘25’ Commodore carries its own provenance – driven by John Harvey and David ‘Skippy’ Parsons to second place at the 1984 Bathurst 1000 behind Brock in an historic one-two victory for the Holden Dealer Team.
“Our family has been on the sidelines and can see/understand both sides of the argument, but have sided with the physical evidence and HDT team members that all point to the ‘05’ in the Bathurst museum being the correct ‘05’ and the equally-iconic ‘25’ being the car we now proudly have at home in our shed,” the Bowdens wrote in a statement posted online.
“This week we changed the numbers back to what we feel is the right thing to do,” they wrote, with accompanying photos showing the transformation.
“John Harvey was a great friend who we were lucky enough to have [him] come and stay with us a few times over the years, in all sense of the word he was a total gentleman. It’s a shame he didn’t get to see this moment, but he and David ‘Skippy’ Parsons can now be celebrated with the famous Brock/Perkins ‘05’ VK together once again.”
Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than 15 years. Ben was previously an interstate truck driver and completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021. He is considered an expert in the area of classic car investment.