Historic Bathurst Winner: 2021 Holden ZB Commodore Supercar

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On Saturday, March 11th, 2023, Australian motorsport entered a brave new world. Not only did it see a new generation of vehicles take to the grid for the first race of the 2023 season, but it was the first time since the V8 era commenced in 1992 at the Sandown 500 that there was not a Holden to be seen. With the demise of the brand, its place as General Motors’ frontline fighter was taken by the Chevrolet Camaro. This 2021 Commodore is one of the last to be built to the previous rules and has a couple of claims to fame. Chief among them is that it is a genuine Bathurst winner. It now needs a new home, with its owner listing it here at Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers. It is offered in an online auction, and bidding has already reached A$325,000 (US$217,600). If you wish to own a piece of racing history, a few days remain to stake your claim.

Before we dig too deeply into the specifics of this Commodore, I feel it deserves some background information. Australians haven’t genuinely embraced open-wheel racing since the 1970s. The exceptions are the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the population strongly supported the Indycars when they competed on the Gold Coast street circuit. Otherwise, sedan racing in various forms has remained the staple. In 1985, the country adopted International Group A Touring Cars as its premier category but abandoned it at the end of 1992 as costs spiraled out of control. A new class was developed utilizing production Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon bodyshells fitted with aerodynamic spoilers and wings, powered by 5.0-liter Ford Motorsport and Chevrolet V8 engines. The category underwent evolutionary changes but received a major shake-up in 2013 with the introduction of “Car of the Future.” The new cars brought wholesale changes, including a control chassis and other peripheral components and the adoption of a six-speed transaxle in place of the Holinger gearbox and Ford 9″ rear end. The cars further evolved with the “Gen 2” ruleset for 2017, and it is under these regulations that the category raced until the end of 2022. With the demise of Holden and the adoption of the Ford Mustang to replace the Falcon, Gen 2 had struggled, and category organizers recognized that significant changes were required to reflect market relevance. Therefore, it started with a clean sheet of paper to develop the latest Gen 3 specifications. However, it means that the outgoing ZB Commodore is ineligible for frontline competition, and this helps explain why this classic is now offered for sale.

Under the Group A regulations in 1990, Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) formed the Holden Racing Team (HRT) as the official factory team. The fledgling outfit tasted success at that year’s Bathurst 1000 and would dominate the V8 formula through the late-1990s and early-2000s. Results began to taper badly, in part due to the collapse of the TWR empire in 2003. However, Walkinshaw regained control of the team in 2008. He subsequently passed away in 2010, with the team passing to his son, Ryan. Results were patchy, at best, with the team losing its factory status in 2017. Ryan acted quickly, and by 2018, it morphed into Walkinshaw Andretti United (WAU). New partners in the team included Zak Brown from McLaren and Michael Andretti. The team made some gains in subsequent years but was once again a genuine contender in 2021. Lead driver, Chaz Mostert, scored several race wins, but that year’s Bathurst race will go down in history. Practice and qualifying were uneventful until Mostert pulled a magic lap out of the bag in the Top Ten Shootout to place this Commodore in pole position with a qualifying lap record. Helping the team’s cause, Mostert’s co-driver, Lee Holdsworth, proved capable of lapping at a similar pace to him. It would be fair to say that Mostert and Holdsworth dominated the race because although they won by less than four seconds, they led 106 of the race’s 161 laps. The success was made more impressive as they achieved it despite losing significant time when the car suffered a punctured tire at one point. Mostert continued using this car throughout 2022, with it becoming surplus to requirements with the advent of the new rules. Therefore, it is the last Holden that team took to Victory Lane. A second claim to fame adds further historical significance to this Commodore. HRT/WAU has been a Holden stalwart throughout its life, and the concept of the team lining up with anything but a General Motors product was unthinkable. However, management reasoned that it required factory support to continue racing, and only Ford could offer that option. In May 2022, WAU announced it would switch to Ford Mustangs, ending a thirty-three-year association with Holden. This Commodore is race-ready and finished in the correct livery from its 2021 Bathurst victory. The team performed a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, and it presents superbly. Although it is now ineligible for outright competition, the new owner could enter it into the Supercars’ second-tier division, where it could be a potent weapon in the right hands. However, its historic significance means it will probably spend its life as a display vehicle with the occasional demonstration run.

The road-going car upon which this Commodore is loosely based was a five-seat sedan, but you would struggle to get two people into this monster. The interior is all business, with the only creature comfort being some padding on the body-hugging seat and a dry ice box for the driver’s cool suit. It is a maze of barwork, and the fact that the category has suffered no serious injuries since adopting these rules stands as a testament to the strength and safety of these vehicles. The driver grips a thick wheel covered in switches to control the radio, pit lane speed limiter, drink delivery, and other functions. Through the wheel, they view an LCD that provides vital information and a set of shift lights to ensure changes happen at the right moment. To the left are controls for the anti-roll bars and the shifter for the six-speed transaxle. More observant readers will notice that the driver’s seat is well in-board, leaving significant space between the occupant and the outside world. Sadly, the category suffered a fatality and some serious injuries with the seat in its more conventional position under the old rules, so Gen 2 regulations moved the driving position for added protection. As with the exterior, this Commodore’s interior presents perfectly and is ready for competitive action.

When organizers unveiled the V8 formula in 1992, they envisaged the 5.0-liter engines powering the Commodore and Falcon would produce around 450hp. This proved accurate then, but development never stands still in motorsport. By 2021, power had jumped to 650hp, and these cars could haul the mail at places like Bathurst. The power feeds to the road via a six-speed Xtrac transaxle. Stopping power comes from enormous control four-wheel disc brakes, while its control 18″ “Team Dynamics” racing wheels are wrapped in Dunlop tires. With so much power at the driver’s disposal and the gear ratios “fixed” under the rules, it is not unusual for these cars to sit on the rev limiter for an extended period on Bathurst’s legendary Conrod Straight. The gearing equates to around 300kph or 186mph, which is anything but slow! This Commodore scored twenty-three podium places (including eight wins) from sixty-four starts. Those statistics make it one of the most successful vehicles from the Gen 2 era. It is mechanically healthy and ready to hit the track with a new (and lucky) owner behind the wheel.

Until recently, it was unthinkable that WAU would field anything but a General Motors product, and it seemed it would follow most of the field in preparing a pair of new Camaros for this year. That the organization that enjoyed the longest continuous link to Holden could switch to the opposition was more than many diehard fans could stand. Therefore, this 2021 Commodore Supercar takes on added significance. It is a former Bathurst winner and comes from a team that was once Holden’s powerhouse factory outfit. The bidding sits at A$325,000, but I won’t be surprised if it doubles before the hammer falls. That reflects how important this classic is in Australian motorsport history.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Mark

    Should be worth 500-600k to race in the Super 2 feeder series but I thought Zak Brown wanted it for his collection after the Bathurst win and regretted selling it ? Time for him to step up.

    Like 1
  2. Slideways

    Up to 505K with 4 days left!

    Like 1

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