Bruce Gowans Toyota Celica Repco V8 Sports Sedan

In 1977 John McCormack from Adelaide built a Repco V8 powered Celica Sports Sedan for Bruce Gowans from Tasmania.

The car ran successfully in the 1978 Australian Sports Sedan Series coming third behind Alan Grice and Jim Richards. In that same year, Gowans drove the Roadways Gown/Hindaugh A9X Torana on two occasions; once in a touring car round at Calder achieving seventh place and then co-driving with Garth Wigston in the Rothmans 500 at Oran Park, where they finished second. Unfortunately, the politics of motorsport prevented Gowans from fulfilling his racing dream of driving at Bathurst that year as had been planned.

The Celica is powered by a 5.0 L Repco V8. The engine was originally designed for Formula 5000 racing but became a very popular choice for the Sports Sedan series. It produces 510 horsepower, 570 Nm (420 lb-ft) of torque and a wonderful sound thanks to its flat-plane crankshaft. Power runs through a Hewland five-speed manual transmission and Hewland limited-slip differential.

As well as its national success, it also competed in Tasmania from 1977-1981 before being sold in 1982. It competed in various events until the 1990s before a historic racing competitor in Western Australia used the componentry to rebuild a damaged Formula 5000.

The empty shell was sold back to Bruce Gowans in 2007, who since that time has been restoring it to its original specification.

John McCormack said seeing the vehicle come to life again was “exciting”.

“I didn’t think I’d ever see it back in the track to be honest, and I don’t remember it looking as good.’’ – John McCormack

Bruce Gowans added: “When John first saw the car race, he said to me ‘it is too good to leave it in Tasmania”, as it worked out to be a quicker car than they anticipated. “Over the 16-race series we finished third behind Allan Grice and Jim Richards, who had much bigger budgets, as we were a small budget team running it from here.

“But the consistency was good enough to accumulate enough points, and we finished in front of the Holden Dealer Team and other prominent drivers, which was a big achievement.

The appearance of the car is now fantastic and the whole mechanical package is now fantastic as well. We will be treating it fairly carefully, giving it a blast down the straight, but we will be careful around the corners.

Known as a quick, smooth driver, Gowans enjoyed success in a sport he loved that was simply a weekend hobby for him. Bruce Gowans is still involved in motorsport today through his son Adam’s participation and success in Aussie Racing Cars.