During the early days of Group A racing , New Zealand brothers Wayne and Bruce Anderson competed in two Mustangs. Brett Maddren provides the story and photos about one of the cars

The car started out as one of two Mustangs bought to Australia by Don Smith, long-time partner of Barry Seton. This car is known as “Abe’s Babe” and there is a plate affixed to the dash which is still there today.

Seton built up the car for he and Smith to race at Bathurst in the Group A class in 1984. The Anderson brothers bought the car in 1985 as raced at Bathurst, (as part of a three car deal) and shipped it over to their Pinepac premises in Auckland to prepare it for Bathurst in October that year. They completely rebuilt the car, getting body panels and an ignition system form the U.S., suspension, wheels and brakes from Australia and a fuel cell from the U.K. An engine from Dick Johnson’s workshops in Brisbane was built before the car was shipped to Bathurst.

Johnson had been Ford’s leading light in Australia and had been the driving force behind making the Mustang competitive in Group A. Prior to Johnson’s input, the Mustang had been homologated to race in Group A by Zakspeed in Germany as a bit of toe in the water. But it didn’t achieve much and was parked.

Johnson went to Germany and checked out the Mustang and found a car with some potential. It had a five litre Windsor engine and a five-speed Getrag gearbox and suspension layout similar to the Holden Commodore. Johnson found the car handled well but lacked real power. Through Ford, he arranged for a homologation package in August ’85, including a roller bearing camshaft, extractors, bigger brakes and extra gear ratios. The engine changes were most welcome, the Ford engine now producing some 320hp. In 1985 a drive of the Anderson Brothers’ XE Fairmont at Wellington led to the Kiwis acquiring a Johnson Mustang engine for the Pinepac Mustang.

The Andersons arrived at Bathurst ready to go and did plenty of practice laps with the spare engine. However a vibration problem saw them change to the Johnson race unit early and they qualified 27th. They started well but a broken oil cooler line and a blown head gasket saw them in for repairs and the car eventually retired out on the track after 17 laps.

The car then competed in the Wellington and Pukekohe 500km races at the beginning of 1986 before going to Brisbane prior to Bathurst to have some preparation work done by Ron Richards Brisbane Engine Centre (he was one of Dick Johnson’s mechanics).

Both cars competed at Surfers Paradise prior to Bathurst. Abe’s Babe was driven by Bruce up to sixth before a timing chain let go. At Bathurst in October the car practiced well, eventually qualifying 39th. They again ran well in the race but after 81 laps the engine broke a timing chain and lost its oil.

Although they didn’t go to Bathurst in 1987 they competed in the Wellington WTCC race that year qualifying 29th and finishing 14th.

The Andersons sold the car in 1988, it completed in various group A races till 1990.

In May 2005 the car was located in Timaru NZ in fairly complete and unmodified Group A condition; the car was purchased and shipped to Auckland where Ken Hopper Race Cars started a completed nut and bolt restoration of the car to its 1985 spec and livery.

When completed the car was tested at Pukekohe Raceway before being shipped back to Australia.

Once in Australia the signwriting was completed and given a further test at Queensland Raceway to prepare the car for its first race in 16 years at the Eastern Creek Historic meeting where it will race against other Group A and Group C historic race cars.