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Brock legacy - values soar for race champ's machines

As a friend and fan of Brock, Len Pennisi not only owns and treasures his three Brock Commodores, he's also keeping the Brock memory alive through Brock's former company, HDT Special Vehicles based at Revesby.

Pennisi and his brother Sid bought the HDT Special Vehicles company in 1994.

“It always was a legacy to keep the cars going the same way he did it, exactly the way he ran it, with enthusiasm and passion. And to make sure people have the parts to keep these cars on the road,” he says.

Not only does he own the company, he also raced VC Commodores himself and currently owns three Brock Commodores; a white VK group III model, a red VH and a white VC.

He says through HDT — where they fix, provide spare parts and build and sell Brock Commodores — they've seen the cars recently boom in popularity.

“Unfortunately with Peter Brock's demise last year, cars quadrupled in value ... everybody wants a piece of that era,” he says.

“Collectors are buying them, not selling them again and they're not getting driven.

“A lot of people are buying them to make money, like buying a house.”

Pennisi says Brock's first VC Commodore model was worth around $12,000 to $15,000 just 18 months ago. They're now selling for around $35,000 to $40,000. “ I sold a good VH a couple of days after Brock's death for $24,000 and it sold recently for $46,000. I can't see them going down ... we have more people wanting to buy than we have cars to sell,” he says.

Pennisi says it's not only the death of Brock that has contributed to the increase in value, but also the astronomical amounts being paid for other older cars such as Holden Monaros, Valiant Chargers and Ford Falcons.

As they become less accessible, people turn elsewhere to cars such as the Commodores, he says. Pennisi says about 5000 cars were officially built, with perhaps 3000 surviving .

He says there are still some owners who enjoy their Brock Commodores as daily drivers, but a lot of care has to be taken as they are easy targets for thieves. And while the older, more sought-after cars may have taken muscle to drive, Pennisi says the Brock Commodores have no such problem.

“They have airconditioning and power steering, disc brakes, plush interiors and they are comfortable to drive. They have everything — power, handling and room to put five people in them,” he says.

And the other appealing factor is the cars served a dual purpose; they could hold their own on the track or the road.

Most Brock Commodores came out with 5.0-litre V8 engines, although Pennisi says six-cylinder turbo engines were also available as an option in the late 1980s.

“It's not like today's supercars. You can't buy a car raced on the track as a road car but in those days you could buy almost the same car as was being raced,” he says.

“You could take it to the track as well as (use it as) an all-purpose type of car. They had a very nice interior, unique wheels, unique body kit and specific engine modifications.”

As for the Pennisi brothers, keeping both HDT and the memory of their racing hero alive is a top priority.

“I knew him personally for over 20 years,” Len says. “The day it happened (Brock's death) reminded me of JFK. The world stopped, everyone was ringing us up and asking what happened. I got phone calls from all over Australia and even overseas, 2 1/2 days after that people could not believe it happened. It took me months to believe it.”

And with the passion that Pennisi as well as fellow Brock Commodore owners possess, people won't forget these cars.

“Obviously I was that passionate that I raced them, bought the company, own the cars and still work with them today,” he says.

Fast facts

Vehicle: Brock Commodore

Value: when new: around $20,000

Value two years ago:
VC: $12,000-$15,000
VH: $24,000

Value now: $35,000-$45,000

Verdict: The legend lives on in these classic Brock Commodores of the 1980s. They've become even more sought-after since the death of Peter Brock last year.

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