The 2023 season won’t be the first time a Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang have done battle in Australian touring cars, with the two-door coupes going head-to-head for the championship in the early 1970s.
SupercarXtra Magazine issue #127 goes under the skin of the Gen3 Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro Supercars and looks at the history of the Camaro and Mustang in Australian touring cars.
The Mustang became the car to have under the Improved Production rules introduced for the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1965, winning five consecutive championships between 1965 and 1969. That run came to an end at the hands of the Australian-made Holden HT Monaro GTS350 in 1970, but the pendulum soon swung to the Camaro.
Bob Jane scored back-to-back titles with the Camaro ZL-1 in 1971 and 1972, narrowly defeating the Mustangs of Allan Moffat and Ian Geoghegan in 1971 and overcoming a forced engine reduction in 1972.
When the Australian Touring Car Championship and the Bathurst 1000 moved to the locally-derived Group C rules in 1973, the Camaros and Mustangs were forced out by Holden and Ford’s Australian-made products, initially the Torana and Falcon.
The Camaro returned in Group C-spec in the late 1970s into the early 1980s, most notably with Kevin Bartlett’s Channel 9-sponsored Z28, though championship and Bathurst success eluded the coupe. The Mustang also made an unsuccessful return under the Group A rules in 1985, quickly replaced by the Sierra.
When Ford switched from the Falcon to the Mustang in 2019, it represented a seismic shift in Supercars with a two-door body shape running under the V8-based rules for the first time since their introduction in 1993. The arrival of the Camaro in 2023 completes the shift to a new era for Australian touring cars.