Them’s the brakes

Bob Watson

Your story on the HQ Holden in Unique Cars issue #378 evoked some memories for me. After the fiasco of the oil-cooled disc brakes for the Monaro GTS350 for Bathurst in 1969, for which I was the design engineer, I was made brake design engineer for the HQ program.

You mentioned complacency in your article.

Well, this also extended to some aspects of engineering for the HQ. The intention by my predecessor was to carry over the HK/HT/HG brakes to the HQ – a heavier car. The brakes were already recognised as poor, with dismal fade resistance and rear wheel lock up problems, which had been hammered by the motoring press. I was horrified, and went to my boss chassis engineer Jack Rawnsley to propose ventilated front discs with a sliding caliper and a proportioning valve for the rear brakes.

Jack was very supportive, we went to George Roberts to put the case. George was negative, his position was that the rear brakes should lock first to retain steering on icy roads. “In Australia?

Hello!?” were our thoughts.

Jack persisted and although time was very short to start of production, we got the changes done, thanks to great work by manufacturing at Holden and Bendix Mintex, the brake supplier.

Jack was a great boss.

ED: If there’s one consolation we can draw from that whole episode, it’s that George Roberts, like Tony Abbott, also got his marching orders. Thanks for that insider’s view from Holden at the time, Bob.

We’d love to sit you down with our ex-Ford guy Rob Blackbourn for a couple!