Vale: Peter Wherrett

peterwhFormer ABC motoring personality Peter Wherrett has died of cancer, aged 72.

Before Top Gear and other motoring television there was the ABC’s Torque, a show that championed motoring in the 1960s and ’70s.

In 1973 an ABC producer asked the then journalist to present the pilot program of a show on cars and motoring.  Torque went on to deliver a massive and long-running success for ABC with eight series.

Wherrett was known for his humour, sharp intelligence and a genuine love of what he was achieving. At the end of the seventies he traversed the world filming a major series on the history of the motor-car, called Marque.

Accompanied by a very successful book, the series took 18 months to complete and was another prime-time winner for ABC TV. During the ’80s he explored the need to explore alternative energy sources in the series The Balance of Power.

In later years he was a motoring presenter on TEN’s Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

But his life was not without controversy.

In 1985  he was caught driving under the influence of alcohol. A second driving incident attracted another sensational round of publicity. But it was in a biography with his brother Richard, a famed Sydney Theatre Company director, that he admitted to part-time crossdressing, which he said dated back to his formative years.

Torque remains a shining early example of motoring television in Australia.

Peter Wherrett is survived by his son Steven Wherrett, daughter Jane Whitburn and six grandchildren.

Source: ABC News


  1. All very sad,I still have peter’s first real racing car, the lynx formula junior that he raced at warwick farm etc still with his name proudly on the side. I am racing it next wednesday, i shall wear a black arm band and see if i can do a lap of rememberance at lunchtime. Farewell Peter.

  2. I still remember those ads Peter made back in the 70s for Pye Colour TV (“Which colour set are you going to buy?”) and the Federal Governement’s “Save Our Petrol” energy saving programme, and also his talk-radio stints at 3AK and 3AW here in Melbourne where he really got to demonstrate his versatility outside the subject of motorsport – after all, it wasn’t only motorsport that made him a radio and TV legend; for example, his fascination in the 70s for the then newly-fangled colour TV technology really shone with those Pye ads. Still, it would probably be hard now for Australia to find another motoring personality with the same unique humour and colourful wit that Peter had. R.I.P. Peter.

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