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A Charger with a difference

The Repco Supercars Championship turns it focus to Tasmania and Symmons Plains this week, with one of its legendary drivers being John McCormack.

McCormack is a multiple Gold Star Australian Drivers’ Championship winner, but also took on the world of Sports Sedans during the halcyon days of big prize money, name drivers and interesting innovation.

Appearance money was impetus for McCormack and Elfin boss Garrie Cooper, so too a commercial deal with Adelaide-based Chrysler Australia, with both companies separated by mere kilometres.

The deal provided a Charger, budget, support and a transporter to make sure the program was a success, as the rich Toby Lee Series at Oran Park was the McCormack’s biggest target.

Highlighted by its Repco Holden F5000 engine, the Charger also included a Cooper designed roll cage providing much needed rigidity, Elfin F5000 suspension components, a five-speed Hewland DG300 transmission and transaxle.

It was a trendsetter in regards to engine location as it was placed alongside the driver in a rather spartan interior, while its F5000 influence was copied by many in the years to come.

Making its debut in 1974 at Adelaide International Raceway, the Charger not only took victory there, but it won the series it was set out to be successful in – the Toby Lee Series at Oran Park.

Despite the immediate success, the Charger was taken over by fellow Tasmanian Tony Edmondson in 1975 and continued to be successful.

However, entries such as Bryan Thomson’s Chevrolet-powered Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, the Sidchrome Ford Mustang of Jim Richards and finally the mighty Chevrolet Corvair driven by the late, great Frank Gardner shifted the Sports Sedan game quite considerably entering the 1980s.

McCormack re-entered Sports Sedans with a new Jaguar XJS, but a road accident on the way to an event at Calder Park forced him to retire.

Edmondson moved to a K&A Engineering built Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV and suffered a serious crash at Surfers Paradise International Raceway during the 1979 season.

A new version was built and Edmondson took multiple titles into the Sports Sedans-to-GT Championship era.

And the Charger? Well this was recently restored and is currently displayed at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania in Launceston, not far from Symmons Plains.