Dolomite Sprint Group C Race Car

  • Model:Dolomite / Sprint
  • Year:1976
  • Purchase Date:2005-04-08
  • Reg:
  • Comm No:
  • VIN:VA17977DLOS
  • Engine No:
  • Paint Name:BL Competition colours: white/red/blue
  • Mileage:N/A
  • Location: AU

Ralph Radburn asked his close friend Ron Hodgson to build his original car for the 1977 Bathurst 1000, but eligibility problems (‘fly-cuts’ not homologated) meant the car was withdrawn. Ron Hodgson ran both a Dolomite and Holden team and CAMS threatened to disqualify the entire Hodgson Holden Racing Team should the Dolomites run.

Based on the ’75 BTCC ‘Broadspeed’ Group 1 spec the Radburn car had the option of twin 2” SU’s, or 50mm DCOE Webers with a single choke. This increased power from 127 to almost 165 BHP. British Leyland (BL) homologated a wide ratio O/D gearbox (low 2nd. and high 3rd.), giving a superb CR effect and variable rate/height springs were combined with Bilstein/Armstrong shocks. Adjustable anti-roll bars with super-hard ‘rubber’ bushes locating the upper wishbones and the standard LSD, with alternate ratios available through Leyland Special Tuning (ST). Power came on mid-range and lasted to near 7500 RPM. In July 1978 Gerald Kay purchased the Radburn car. At one of his first outings brake-failure caused a spectacular crash and Kay made the front page of AAA (April 12th. 1979).

In 1980 Gerald Kay’s business used BL diesel engines and through this relationship BL sponsored Kay through JAGPARTS (Don Lane). The car was upgraded to the latest BTCC Group 1 specs for the 1980 Bathurst 1000 which included homologation of twin 48 DCOE Webers along with a big bore exhaust. Power neared 185 BHP. Two gearboxes, a wide-ratio 5-speed and an ultra close ratio 4-speed were added along with LED ignition and rev-limiter. Flares were added to cover the fatter tires and AP 4-spot callipers with vented discs fitted with brake scoops. Spherical (rose) joints (often used in testing) were also homologated and to get ‘power to the ground’ two more location arms (with optional Panard rod) were added with heavier front coils and (optional) brace-bar to prevent coil ‘punch through’.

Kay, at one time owned three Dolomites, one of which was sold to his friend and Bathurst co-driver Martin Power. The remaining two, the former Berthier car and this one often changed colours but always wore the same blue and white with red stripe livery which made them interchangeable! For the 1980 Bathurst 1000, car #49 was the official entry. However, while being unloaded from the ‘Leyland’ transporter it blew a diff spline, closely followed by a gearbox and finally an engine. Most teams had ‘work-arounds’ when problems arose and Gerald Kay and Don Lane it seems were no different, as door and bonnet swapping was often done in preference to a DNS. Needing extensive repairs #49 may have been set aside and the second car simply substituted by swapping the doors and bonnet in the transporter. Today, they say they could never be certain which of the two Dolomites was actually running at any event between 1980 and 1983. In 1985 Kay sold the second of the Dolomites. The third was kept. It was his favourite because it handled better and, like this car, was built to the latest BL specs. He kept the third Dolomite for some years eventually selling to a friend who, according to Kay converted it to a forest rally car for his son. It’s believed that car was extensively damaged in its first outing in a forest rally in Tasmania.

1980 Bathurst 1000: Despite the drama it looked as though Kay might actually finish! At 1.07 p.m. the ‘official’ timing report showed the Dolomite in 41st. place. The car shattered a disc early and required regular oil top-ups. Nevertheless, it ran well until two laps from the finish when the throttle cable broke at Forrest Elbow! Stopping the car, Kay grabbed a screwdriver from the glove box, lifted the bonnet and wound both throttle screws for maximum engine speed. He jumped in and crawled over the mountain only to have to push the car to the finish line where he was immediately ‘disqualified’ for exceeding the allowed five-minute time-lapse at the end of the race! Kay last raced at Sandown in February 1982 and this car was sold in 1985. In storage for 15 years the car was restored and raced in the newly formed Group C Historic class where it won both the Group C under 2 Litre class and outright championship in 2001.

In 1979 the car carried present livery, but by late 79 it had changed (Sandown?) to that of its sister car for 1980 2 Litre comp as well as bathurst. We are currently prepping panels ot repaint in 1980 colours as well as adding back the Union Jack to the roof, orederd to be removed nby CAMS in the senenties as it was deemed advertising. CAMS has graciously allowed this reparation.

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