Vacation Nation - Looking Back at the Humble Holden Vacationer

As Aussie as thongs, meat pies and kangaroo’s, the humble road trip is an Aussie institution. Most of us will remember those drives in the back of the car as the family headed North, South, East or West to that holiday home, camp site or Uncle’s place somewhere up the road. No doubt those fond memories were re-created with the next generation, this time with you in the front seats!

With such a treasured pastime as the road trip, Holden were in tune with this fact, and playing to the feelings of freedom and good vibes of those holidays, launched specific ‘Vacationer’ models. This up-spec’d model would appeal to those looking at a special model that could make the long hauls across our vast nation somewhat more comfortable.

In 1972 the Holden HQ Kingswood Vacationer model was released. And what a beauty she was. Premium additions like a luxury centre arm rest and door to door carpets, chrome wheel trims and a selection of two-tone colour options, joined the 202 engine and tri-matic automatic gearbox with disc brakes.

The Vacationer model made appearances throughout the majority of the subsequent Holden line-up, culminating in the last appearance of the vacationer model in 1995 when Holden released the VS series. At the time of release, the VS Commodore Vacationer was $30,370 which in today’s money is $50,951.

What did you get standard for your money when ordering a new Vacationer in 1995? Air conditioning, power door mirrors, remote (keyless) central locking, power steering, power windows all-round, plus the all-important cruise control to gobble up those highway miles.

While we don’t think Holden will revive the Vacationer model any time soon, it was an interesting model that for many years was a reflection of the habits of a vacation nation!

Were you one of the many children who spent countless hours’ road tripping in the back of a vacationer? Or maybe you still own a Vacationer? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below!

American Hero – Top American Import

When it comes to American muscle cars it’s hard to look past the iconic Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Although there are a number of other stateside classics that will go down in history as American greats, it’s the Mustang and Camaro which typify what the scene is all about. In this article we’ll take a look at the two US classics, what made them special and how they were received in Australia.

In 1961, Lee Iococca, the Vice President and General Manager of Ford had a vision. This vision was to build a car that could seat 4 adults, have bucket seats, a floor mounted shifter, weigh no more than 2500 pounds, be no longer than 180 inches long and sell for less than $2500. After a few years and a couple of interesting looking prototypes, from this vision the Ford Mustang was born, with the first car rolling off the production line in March 1964.

In Australia, the Mustang has gone through periods of great popularity mixed with periods of little interest, mostly as a result of the cost of importing and RHD conversion proving to be a bridge too far for local consumers. However, early Mustangs were a hit from the get go, with up to 200 first generation Mustang’s being imported by Ford Australia in 1965, converted to RHD at their Geelong plant and sold to the public for around $6000. The timeless design was received well by enthusiasts in Australia. Throughout the last 50 years, early year Mustangs have remained a desirable car for Aussie enthusiasts which are reflected in modern day re-sale values.
Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention the current 6th generation Mustang which has proved to be a hit on our shores. The rear-wheel drive 5.0 litre V8 producing 306kw/530Nm is somewhat filling the void that has been left by the departure of the Falcon, providing the public with a high powered substitute for the XR8, albeit in coupe form.


On the General Motors front, the main competition to the Mustang over the years has been that provided by the Camaro. The Camaro was born in September 1966 as an answer to the booming popularity of the Mustang. Featuring a long hood, short deck, seating for four and a unitized body construction with a separate front sub frame, the Camaro came with engine options ranging from a 230ci straight six to a 427ci V8.


The Camaro was received well in Australia in the beginning, and was successful in Australian motorsports, further thrusting the classic car into stardom. Bob Jane would win both the 1971 and 1972 ATCC at the wheel of a Camaro ZL-1. Much like the Mustang, the Camaro went through a period in which they were less desirable to the Australian public which, unlike the Mustang, has not really recovered in the form of Camaro Australian sales. Unfortunately for Australian motoring enthusiasts, in its current 6th generation guise, there are no formal plans for the Camaro to reach Australian dealership floors.


Which generation Mustang’s and Camaro’s are your favourite. Would you like to see the latest Camaro on Australian showroom floors? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

Driving for a Cause – Classics cars at the Variety Bash

The Variety Bash was founded in 1985 by none other than Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, after he invited a few mates to make the trip from Bourke in far western New South Wales all the way up to Bourketown in northern Queensland. Along the way teams would recreate the Redex Car Trials of the 1950’s whilst raising money for the Variety Club of New South Wales, a charity which to this day still raises money for children with special needs. There were a few rules for participants; all cars had to have been manufactured pre-June 1966, have no performance modifications and meet a number of safety considerations such as carrying a certain amount of water, oil and be prepared for the harshest of Australian conditions. Other ‘rules’ were fines for things such as not having enough fun, cheating (or not cheating enough!), going too fast or not fast enough and taking the event too seriously. At the end of the day, the event isn’t a race; it is an enjoyable fundraising event to help those in need!

Dick Smith’s car for the first event was a 1964 EH Holden, which he went on to use in all Variety Bash’s up until 2001, throughout which time he raised upwards of $2 million. The old Holden has had almost all of its parts replaced at one time or another, with the exception of the driver’s side door which remains original! The car now resides in the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in Sydney after a broken front chassis rail brought an ending to its bashing career.

A tradition that has stuck since the events early days is that of weird and wacky car designs and competitor costumes. From a Mad Max V8 Interceptor replica to Hippy Vans and even Limousines, the Variety Bash has seen it all throughout the years! A quick look through the Variety Bash’s cars for sale section of their website gives you an idea of the sort of vehicle required for such a journey. Highlights include a 1976 Cadillac Grandeur Opera Coupe, a 1991 Ford F150 Ambulance, a tiger striped Mercedes Benz 450SEL and a 1984 Rover SD1 V8. None of which would generally sound suited to a cross country road trip, although fit the theme that’s made the Variety Bash a truly iconic Aussie event.

Whilst the event was originally founded in New South Wales, Bash’s now take place around all states and territories of Australia, each with their own unique travel itinerary. To get involved, head over to the Variety website and start your fundraising!

Have you ever participated in the Variety Bash? Or are you in the process of putting together a car for the 2017 event? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us all about it!

Frozen in Time – The Best Aussie Car Museums

The Australian public has long had a fascination with classic and exotic automobiles. Classic Aussie icons such as the Monaro and Falcon as well as international masterpieces produced by icons such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz have always drawn a crowd! So where can the general public go to catch a glimpse of automotive history in Australia? There are a number of classic car museums sprawled across our great land; Holdens, Fords, old cars and new, there is sure to be a museum that fit your tastes! In this article we will take a look at five car museums in Australia that have caught our eye.

Gosford Classic Car Museum

Just over an hour north of Sydney you’ll find one of the biggest and most expensive car collections in the world. Housing over 450 vehicles, the ex-Bunnings Warehouse is practically heaven for any car enthusiast. Owner Tony Denny made his fortune selling a large percentage of his share in AAA Automotive, Europe’s largest used car network and spent a decent chunk of it compiling this museum of epic proportions. Featured cars include a LaFerrari, a super rare Onyx Black GHTO Phase III, a 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S, a DMC DeLorean and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Denny has a knack for spotting future classics, so be sure to keep an eye on the forever changing list of cars gracing the museum floor!

 

 

The Fox Classic Car Collection

Lindsay Fox is a name familiar to most Australians, but did you know he owns a spectacular line-up of over 50 prestige cars? The Fox Classic Car Collection is located in Docklands, Victoria and is home to Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes Benz marquees. The collection has been acquired over 30 years and includes cars previously owned by Ringo Starr, Bing Crosby and Bob Jane, among others. The Fox Classic Car Collection is open 3 days a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

National Motor Museum

The National Motor Museum is home to approximately 200 cars as well as a fully restored 1920s Petrol Station. Located in Birdwood, South Australia, the National Motor Museum houses a number of cars that have shaped Australian society such as the 1908 Talbot and Tom Kruse’s 1946 Leyland Badger. Not restricted to just cars, the museum also houses an impressive fleet of motorcycles and more memorabilia than you can poke a stick at! The National Motor Museum is open every day from 10am-5pm.

National Military Vehicle Museum

Located in Edinburgh, South Australia, The National Military Vehicle Museum was originally built to provide the vehicles with undercover storage whilst providing the public with a place to view them. There are a number of vehicles from various different eras however the majority of the collection is from WWII. This is the ideal place if you want to touch up on your Australian defense history or take the kids along to have a look at some truly impressive war vehicles. The National Military Museum is open every Sunday and on Public Holidays.

Lost in the 50’s

Lost in the 50’s is a true step back in time. With over 10,000 items on display including more than 30 of the most impressive 50’s American cars in Australia (maybe even the world), Lost in the 50’s is a must see for all automotive enthusiasts. Notable cars include a Batmobile, DeLorean and Eleanor as well as chrome fenders for as far as the eye can see. Located in Edgeworth, New South Wales The museum is only open on certain days throughout the year, so be sure to plan ahead and give them a call!

Do you own a classic car in showroom condition? Or do you have your own story of one of the many car museums across the country? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments below!

The HSV GTSR W1 - History In The Making

As a final, explosive swan-song for Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) and its final iterations of specialist performance packages, the most powerful HSV’s ever will be launched from their Clayton base. Enter the GTSR and GTSR W1.

Many will be familiar with the GTSR badge, which last made an appearance on the eye-catching yellow and somewhat polarising VS GTSR in 1996.

After 30 years working with Holden it seems only fitting that HSV have revived the GTSR moniker turning up the wick to modify these jaw-dropping GTSR creations, culminating in what is Australia’s most powerful Aussie production car ever, the W1.

No stone has been left unturned in the process of transforming the car into a modern, mechanical work of art. At the heart of the W1 is a heaving beast in the form of the hand built, 6.2L, supercharged LS9, Gen IV alloy V8. Originally the powerplant for Corvette in the U.S, HSV had to widen the track and front guards to shoehorn the V8 into the Holden. And we are glad they did!

To protect the strengthened internals and suit the demands the engine will be placed under, a nine plate air-to-water cooled dry sump lubrication system is employed, which is normally a feature reserved for racing machinery and supercars. To suit Australian conditions, a beefed up cooling system was included, as was a larger supercharger intercooler and hi-flow water pump.

The GTSR W1 displaces a massive total of 474kw/+815Nm of tyre destroying power. HSV claim the W1 will hit 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds and reel off the quarter mile time in an impressive 12.1 seconds, making it the fastest production car ever produced in Australia, adding another title to its long list. If you are keen, for the record, you can also hit 98.5km/h in first gear.

In what some would say true ‘purist’ spirit, the new GTSR range is only offered in 6 speed close ratio manual format. Although no automatic option may put a few potential buyers off, HSV’s philosophy of building a road registered race car aligns with their choice to favour a manual. And with manual transmissions becoming rarer each year, and the car’s potential as an investment platform in the future, going manual is another smart decision by HSV on this front we believe.

The bespoke list of modifications is truly incredible, many only produced with the W1. There is an OTR carbon fibre cold air intake, custom gearbox input shaft and gearset, single piece forged flywheel, AP racing six piston calipers, specially designed rotors for cooling, 20” wheels that maximise cooling to the brakes and wheels are wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo semi-slicks.

With handling such a critical component of connecting the driver to the road, HSV’s ultimate creation has an all-new Supashock suspension system, modelled off Walkinshaw Racing’s Supercars. Combined with the HSV enhanced Driver Interface (EDI) a full range of electronic based drive characteristics can be optimised to your preference, including torque vectoring, stability settings, launch control, bi-modal exhaust and electrical steering weight.

The end result of all of these individual changes is a package that is more than the sum of its parts and something HSV and the Australian automotive market should be proud of. It represents what can be accomplished from Australian based manufacturers, providing a ray of sunshine in what is otherwise a somewhat glum period for Australian manufacturing and automotive market.  

Keen to get your hands on this piece of Aussie automotive history in the making? Unfortunately you are already too late. Once word got around of the impending launch of this incredible machine and the fact only 300 W1’s are ever being produced, orders flooded in, resulting in the car being sold out before it even hit the showroom floor. In fact, more than 500 additional orders were unable to be fulfilled, leaving many potential owners disappointed they would miss out.

Of course all this performance, exclusivity will come at a cost. How much? Well you won’t get any change out of $170,000. That may seem like a hell of a lot of money, but given its status as the most powerful HSV ever, the fastest production car ever built in Australia, the most technologically advanced HSV, and the final Holden HSV to ever be built, there are more than a few reasons to join history.

Will the HSV GTSR W1 become the next GTHO Phase III in the future, or is it overpriced for what it is? Let us know on the Rare Spares Facebook page.