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Dick’s Mustang lifeline

When CAMS changed the touring car regulations to international Group A in 1985, it left Ford hero Dick Johnson out in the dark until the venerable Mustang saved the day.

When the change of ruleset was announced by CAMS at the end of 1983 to allow teams a season to plan it left Johnson in unknown position as the Blue Oval didn’t quite have a competitive option as the Merkur XR4Ti (the precursor to the Sierra) was not available yet, however a German option emerged.

Zakspeed already had a history with Ford as it supplied turbocharged engines for its IMSA GTP campaigns and although it didn’t fit the marque’s marketing strategy, but the Fox Body Mustang provided an interim before the Merkur, then the Sierra.

Building two Mustangs for the local DPM (Deutsche Produktionswagen-Meisterschaft), Zakspeed didn’t enjoy success albeit featuring a driver line-up of Klaus Ludwig and Klaus Niedzwiedz. Privately built entries from Seikel Motorsport and ABR Ringhausen had better results, with the latter team finishing sixth in 1984 before improving to fourth the next season.

Meanwhile, as Johnson secured his fourth Australian Touring Car Championship in 1984 the Queenslander purchased two Ford Mustangs from Zakspeed of which one made an appearance at Bathurst to test.

Standing to the rather muscular Group C Falcon, the Mustang appeared stock and was down on horsepower, but this was the future.

Of course, Johnson did have success in the Mustang in what was an unlucky journey for the duo, though it can claim credit to winning the maiden touring car event supporting the Australian Grand Prix.

Crucially though, it kept Johnson in a V8 Ford during a time of unknown for the Blue Oval before the influx of turbo power courtesy of the Sierra.

Also, Johnson celebrates his birthday just a couple of weeks after Mustang celebrated 60 years since its launch. The Repco Garage wishes a happy birthday to both!