For their next major auction on Sunday, 9 May, Burns & Co. Auctioneers and Valuers have secured one of the most significant vehicles in Australian Touring Car Racing history, in the form of Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan’s 1967 Ford Mustang GTA.
Consigned to the Burns & Co. Mother’s Day Classic Car Auction from the Wall Racing Collection, Geoghegan’s 1967 Ford Mustang GTA remains the only car in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) to win on three consecutive occasions, taking the title in 1967, ’68 and ’69.
Geoghegan had previously won the ATCC in 1964 running a MkI Cortina GT, but Norm Beechey’s
success in one of the first Mustangs to arrive in Australia (winning the ATCC crown in 1965) convinced him the pony car was the way to go.
Geoghegan first raced a Mustang in the ATCC in 1966, winning that year’s championship ahead of Beechey, who had switched to a Chevy Nova. In April, 1967, Geoghegan imported two new stock Mustangs, a notchback GTA and a V8-engined fastback GT.
Now, as Mustang aficionados will know, a ‘GTA’ was an automatic. Geoghegan knew this, too, but suspecting that CAMS may bar the fastback – which they did - he knew he could take that car’s 302ci V8, four-speed close-ratio Top Loader manual gearbox and bulletproof 9-inch diff and fit them to the GTA without breaking the Group C Improved Production rules.
Geoghegan’s lead mechanic, John Sheppard (later to be a lynchpin of the Holden Dealer Team’s success in 1978 and ’79), prepped the notchback for competition by fizzing up the 302 with a quartet of Weber carburettors, then adding auxiliary water temp gauges, a roll hoop and a handful of other mods allowed under Group C rules.
The more noticeable changes included the use of 8.0-inch wide rims and modified steering and suspension geometry (to work around the Group C ban on bodywork modifications), which led to three-wheel cornering that made Geoghegan a crowd favourite whenever he took the Mustang to the track.
Another quirk of Sheppard’s set-up was overly soft rear suspension, which catered to most circuit layouts of the day and allowed the car to squat under acceleration and take off, rather than just spin the wheels.
With an H-pattern gearbox, no power steering and brakes which could be described as ‘adequate’ at best, the Mustang was a handful to drive, but Geoghegan was supremely skilled behind the wheel and that’s why he won five Australian Touring Car Championships, including three in a row in the Mustang GTA.
By the time Geoghegan had won his third consecutive ATCC title in 1969, his racing rivals were closing in, so Sheppard was adding updates and improvements like a large front air scoop for cooling and mechanical fuel injection to deal with the competition.
Geoghegan continued to race the Mustang into the early 1970s, and it was at Warwick Farm in 1970 that a young Des Wall first saw it in action. Little did Des known then that he’d own the car more than three decades later.
After Geoghegan sold the Mustang in 1971, it was modified by its next owner to compete in the growing Sports Sedan category, but only raced occasionally before it went into storage in the mid-1980s.
In 2001, Sydney enthusiast Ross Donnelly bought the ex-Geoghegan Mustang and had it restored to 1972 racing spec, hence its flared wheelarches and 10-inch wheels, instead of the Geoghegan-era standard bodywork and 8.0-inch wheels.
Upon completion of the resto in 2003, the car was raced regularly by Donnelly in historic competition, before he consigned it to auction in 2005, where Des Wall bought it. Des left the Mustang mostly unchanged, racing it at a handful of meetings each year.
With Des’s passing in 2012, the GTA passed to his son, David, who’s a talented driver in his own right, with Supercars, Carrera Cup, GT and Production Car racing on his resume.
Over the past decade, David has exercised the car occasionally, adamant that race cars belong on racetracks, not in museums.
In its current spec, the ex-Geoghegan ATCC-winning Mustang GTA is described by Wall Racing as being eligible for Group Nc competition. It has been consigned for the Burns & Co. Mothers’ Day Classic Car Auction with full provenance, including CAMS logbooks.
Other consignments include Bob Jane’s 1972 HQ Monaro GTS 350 Improved Production racer, a race-prepped 1971 XY Falcon, 1969 Mustang Mach 1, 1980 Camaro Z28, 1971 HG Monaro GTS, 1974 XL Charger Sportsman, custom XB Fairmont hardtop, a pair of ’71 XY Falcon GT replicas and more.
Burns & Co Mother’s Day Classic Car Auction
Sunday 9 May (pre-bidding from Thursday 22 April)
1 & 2/4 Market Dve, Bayswater.
Online and phone bidding available. Floor bidding limited as part of a COVID-safe plan.
Pre-auction inspection available on 1 May and 8 May, subject to COVID-19 developments.
For more details, go to: www.burnsandcoauctions.com.au