End of model Runout - The Monaro that Almost Was

The Holden Monaro has been one of Australia’s most iconic cars and one that has defined our motoring pedigree as we know it, but there is one model that never carried the great nameplate, and that’s the Holden HX LE Coupe.

The unofficial final model of the original Monaro series that began with the HK in 1968, was the limited edition Holden HX LE coupe and was released on September 27 1976. The car itself was a nod to the Monaro, sharing the same metal work and was adorned with gold pin striping and ‘LE’ lettering on the model's distinctive metallic crimson paint. Although it never officially carried the Monaro name, the fact it was a top end coupe, led Holden fans to regard the car as a true blue member of the family.

There were just 580 examples of the limited edition HX LE Coupe produced and they came fresh from Holden's old Pagewood plant in Sydney. The striking coupe featured double quartz halogen headlights,HX Premier front end, front and rear spoilers and the unique US sourced “Honeycomb” 14x7 inch polycast wheels which completed the package.

The car also features an array of high tech gadgetry that included power windows, power steering, power aerial, integrated air conditioning, heated rear window, quadraphonic eight-track cartridge player and was finished with tinted windows. The passenger compartment of the coupe featured a walnut finish dash fascia and centre console with velour and cloth trim, a mighty luxurious package in 1976.

The HX LE came with Holden's healthy 308ci V8, the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission and a Salisbury limited slip differential, all parts that were considered high performance Monaro essentials. However with Holden’s choice not to name the car officially as a Monaro, the HX LE was essentially the combination of prestige additions and surplus parts.

Although the Holden HX LE Coupe was never officially called a Monaro, it had all the ingredients to wear the name with pride!
But why do you think Holden chose not to name the car a Monaro? Head over the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!

Rare Spares Fundraising Activities for Men’s Shed

Depression affects 1 in 8 men at some point in their life and can be attributed to many different factors such as personal health issues, life events/ circumstances and even isolation. The factors that lead to depression also make living an enjoyable and fulfilling life very difficult. The Australian Men’s Shed Association aims to tackle these issues by creating a space where its members can engage and encourage one another through a variety of activities and events, all in the name of improving relationships and quality of life.

With many Shedder’s also being motoring aficionados, building and restoring their own unique rides, Rare Spares wanted to play a role in assisting the association. Sharing many of the same values as the AMSA, Rare Spares are now undertaking fundraising activities and have been doing so for almost 12 months. When purchasing a Rare Spares product online, customers have the opportunity to make a donation. Donations can also be made at Rare Spares’ two company owned stores, Roxburgh Park and Bayswater North. When customers purchase a product in store, they are informed about Men’s Shed and asked if they would like to make a donation. Roxburgh Park store manager, Brad De Pasquale, spoke on the importance of Men's Shed’s work.

“The association is great. It definitely helps the older guys. They get to do hands on activities and spend time with people who have similar interests. The comradery they build with one another is powerful and I think it makes a big difference to their lives.”

Both stores feature posters and flyers promoting Men’s Shed and the important work they do. North Bayswater Store Manager, Dylan Boyes, also mentioned how crucial Men’s Shed is to its members.

“We all have someone in our family or know somebody who could use a helping hand. Men’s Shed’s around the country provide a great environment to enable a conversation and build friendships. It’s an atmosphere where people can bond and support one another and that is really important.”

Rare Spares also show their support through VIP nights, sausage sizzles and even working directly with sheds around Australia, and it’s not just Rare Spares that gives their support, but also Aussie motorsport legend John Bowe.

“It’s nice to be able to help people in any way possible, I commend Rare Spares support of Men’s Sheds and the association will always have my support.”

JB is proud to be involved with organisations that make a difference, be it restoring classic cars or improving the health and wellbeing of the community. After attending the AMSA annual dinner, the racing icon was deeply impressed with the organisation.

“It was a very moving experience, these organisations are incredibly important, and the work they do is vital.”

In 2005 there were over 200 Men’s Sheds nationwide and over 930 members and that number has well and truly grown and continues to grow with more Sheds opening around the country. The AMSA aims to create awareness of mental health issues and improve the wellbeing and quality of life of its members. Rare Spares is excited to support such an important organisation and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Holden Heartbeat – Revisiting HRT

10. October 2016 14:14 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

When it comes to Australian motorsport, there is no team more iconic than the Holden Racing Team. HRT is one of most successful teams in the previous V8 Supercar series and here we will take a look at some of the defining moments in the team’s long history.

HRT was formed in 1990 out of the joint venture that began a few years earlier between Holden Special Vehicles and Tom Walkinshaw Racing. That year, the VL Commodore with its roaring V8 was pitted against a technology focused field which included the Ford Sierra and Nissans GT-R. Although the GT-R had been dominating the season, Mt Panorama provided one of the most memorable Bathurst 1000 races of the decade, with Allan Grice behind the wheel the team won against all odds laid the foundation for future success in the series.

In 1994 Rickard Rydell was unable to compete in the Bathurst 1000 due to family matters back home in Sweden, so a young Formula Ford driver was chosen to take his place, that person was Craig Lowndes. Lowndes showed a stunned crowd that he had what it takes up against motorsport legend John Bowe and two years later become a full time driver for HRT, winning a huge amount of races and then going on to take home the crown in the 1998 and 1999 championships.

It would be difficult to mention HRT without noting its most important figurehead, the legendary Peter Brock. Brocky was arguably Australia’s most successful motor racing driver and was somewhat of a Bathurst Legend and signed to the team in 1994. With a string of wins under his belt, the deal only solidified Peter Brocks dedication to Holden.

Later on HRT began to enter their golden years with Mark Scaife behind the wheel of the imposing VX HRT 045. Skaife piloted the powerhouse to take two championship and Bathurst victories from 2001 to 2002 with Tony Longhurst and Jim Richards as co-driver. The partnership was a winner and in 2003 the car was converted to a VY under new Project Blueprint rules. Word is that Scaife loved the car so much, he still owns it!

HRT defined motorsport in this country and was the home for many of Australia’s most well-known drivers. Although future of the team is up in the air, the name HRT will no longer continue after Holden decided to end their 26 year relationship in August of this year. Hopefully the team will evolve with the support of Walkinshaw Racing but this remains to be seen. After winning six drivers championships and Bathurst seven times, we are proud to have witnessed the passion and prowess of one of the country’s most important motorsport teams.

What is your favourite moment in the long history of HRT? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!


Restoration Renaissance – A tribute to Les McVeigh, his two retiring partners and a look at the past and future of Rare Spares

7. October 2016 14:07 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

When it comes to keeping Aussie classics alive, there is no business that does it quite like Rare Spares. With a deeply rooted passion for all things automotive, the company has gone leaps and bounds to cover a variety of makes and models like no other. Rare Spares provides automotive enthusiasts across the country with the necessary life lines to keep their pride and joy running like a dream and looking great
The company started from humble beginnings, supplying new and refurbished parts for 1948 - FJ series Holden’s. The business quickly grew from a residential basement to a variety of locations throughout Melbourne as a result of the increasing demand and popularity of their products.

In 1986 the company expanded its offerings to also include Ford parts as well creating products that catered to OEM specifications and even developing an industrial rubber product range. Rare Spares was soon being distributed Australasia wide, the company had gone from being a small automotive parts manufacturer to an industrial powerhouse incorporating metal pressing, information technology, clips & fasteners as well as hose products.
Rare Spares has proudly supported the Australian Automotive Aftermarket over the years, and when it comes to keeping our pride and joy on the roads, it wouldn’t be a long shot to suggest that anyone with a classic Australian car has relied on Rare Spares to provide them with some of the finest of details. Also catering to industrial sectors, Rare Spares has been a significant and crucial contributor to our automotive landscape as a whole. 

But it would be difficult to discuss Rare Spares without mentioning one of its most important contributors, Managing Director Les McVeigh, who sadly passed away in early June of this year. Les was an instrumental part of Rare Spares, co-founding and growing the company over four decades to now becoming a multi-million dollar parts supplier for classic Ford’s and Holden’s, as well as other manufacturers.

Not one to run a business solely with profit in mind, Les was an automotive enthusiast through and through. Since an early age Les enjoyed the hands on aspect of the scene which would explain his passion for creating important and even forgotten parts. At the age of 18 a young Les McVeigh purchased an FX (48 215) Holden from Dandenong that managed to travel 50 meters before blowing up. Not to be deterred, Les got the car home and got to work replacing the engine and has remained a Holden man from that time onwards.

Les as well as the Rare Spares directors are first and foremost passionate car people, so their enthusiasm and dedication has translated into the long running support they have provided to the automotive restoration community for over 40 years. 
Les had been a vital part to the key of Rare Spares success, but other long time partners have been vital to ensuring the businesses growth and variety of products.  Neal Videan, Director of Supply, is hanging up his boots after 36 years of contribution. When asked about his time at Rare Spares, Neal discussed how he played his part in bringing the company to life.
“Working with the company has been incredible, there have been so many things I have had a hand in getting manufactured and brought to market, but still working for the company today to bring in profits and dealing with customers that I set up years ago.”
A theme that is echoed throughout the company is the quality of the people who work for Rare Spares.

“I truly enjoy the diversity of the people who work for the company, I think we have a real family feel within the organisation”

When asked about the future of the company, Neal was excited for what is on the horizon.
“We will be growing the base of industrial products customers, which includes contract manufacturing and I think there will be more and more demand parts for the traditional Rare Spares product lines. Even with the demise of Holden and Ford people will still want to do up the Aussie icons.”

As Neal says goodbye to the company he helped build, he discussed what he plans to do in his spare time. 

“I will have a few family duties to attend too but I actually have a soft spot for classic motorbikes. I usually play around with Vincent HRD’s.” 
General Manager David Rayner also has also been fundamental to the growth of Rare Spares over the years. 

“In the 36 years I’ve been with the company, it’s been incredibly interesting, enjoyable, often challenging but ultimately rewarding”

When asked about the most exciting aspect of being involved with the company, David touched on the importance of Rare Spares within the automotive community.
“It would have to be the end results of manufacturing a huge variety of componentry for the restoration market. That ultimately is what we do, making parts for motoring enthusiasts; it’s the most rewarding and exciting part of the business.”

David also provided an insight into where he sees the company heading in the future.
“As the cars get older, we will be making parts for newer cars, when they get 20-30 years old, we will be the ones keeping them on the roads. Of course we will continue to make parts for cars we traditionally made parts for as I can see the demand for these growing.”

Whilst Rare Spares is expanding, David plans to slow things down a little once he leaves the company by focusing on travel and maintaining his fleet of cars which includes a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, Ford Granada and a Ford Zodiac among others.
David Ryan, Director of Finance also provided some insight into the direction of the passionate company.

“There is still a vast array of spare parts that need to be made, we haven’t backed off on our new product program, and we are now making parts of the size and complexity that we hadn’t even dreamed of five to ten years ago. As the model years roll on, more parts will be required, it’s an ever unfolding landscape and one we are truly excited to be involved in.”

Lance Corby has been with the company for 36 years and now assumes the role of Managing Director. When asked about the future of the company Lance mentioned that Rare Spares will continue to grow despite the end of Australian vehicle manufacturing.

“Rare Spares is a progressive company, we will continue to move forward with the times and fact motoring companies are moving manufacturing out of Australia doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. There is a great opportunity for Rare Spares here and we are going to look outside of the box, we don’t want to restrict ourselves to what we are doing today. We will try and move the company forward in any which way we can.”

Melissa McVeigh, Director of Marketing and daughter of Les, shared her thoughts on the company’s legacy and direction.

“We are all very excited and optimistic about what the future holds for Rare Spares.  Although we may have recently lost over 150 years of knowledge of those who are no longer with us be it in passing or retiring, their legacies, passions and drive live on in all of us.”
Melissa also continued to mention how Rare Spares will continue to flourish as time goes on.
“We now have a very dedicated, knowledgeable team at Rare Spares and we are all looking forward to the future in working together to continue to grow and overcome any challenges we may face with the changes in the Automotive Industry.”

“We are passionate about what we do and the people we do it with. As a wise man once said to me, if you’re not making mistakes you’re not growing or learning, just don’t make them twice.”

As Rare Spares continues to hone their focus on classic Ford and Holden parts, many new products are destined to hit the shelves, the future of Rare Spares continues to brighten as many of the common place cars we see today, become the classics of tomorrow.

However it is clear to see that Rare Spares co-founder, Les McVeigh’s legacy will continue to positively impact everyone in the automotive scene for decades to come and with Australian manufacturing coming to a close, the next chapter for Rare Spares begins.


That 70’s Show – Revisiting popular passenger cars of the 70’s

27. September 2016 10:55 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Back when Countdown was on TV and AC/DC rocked the airwaves, the Holden and Ford rivalry was spilling over from the 60’s and Japanese imports were becoming an increasingly popular choice. The 1970’s produced some of our most loved vehicles and here we will take a look at how the automotive landscape existed in this groovy era.

Holden was the powerhouse against Ford and accounted for 1/3 of all car sales; even though this had slightly decreased since the 60’s, Ford’s accounted for almost a quarter of sales with Chrysler being the third most popular brand. Four door passenger vehicles were common place, but with the introduction of two door coupes, the sportier man’s option soon became the Monaro, Falcon or Charger. Later on in the decade Ford was closing the gap against Holden with notable models such as the Cortina, Capri and Escort, but it wasn’t until 1977 that Ford took the title from Holden as the country’s most popular automotive brand with just over 54,000 Falcons sold. Although Ford had taken the sales lead by the late 70’s Holden hit back with one of its most memorable and potentially most important cars in our motoring history, the humble Commodore.

Even though Holden’s and Ford’s were selling big, up and coming Japanese brands Datsun and Toyota were facing off and slowly gaining a foothold in the Australian market. Toyota was the most popular Japanese brand with their sporty Celica and reliable Corolla until 1973 when Datsun’s 1200, 1600 and 180B models outsold Toyota’s. Although the Japanese brands sales figures didn’t come close to that of Holden or Ford’s, the early 1970’s proved that they were growing in popularity with 1 in 5 cars sold coming from the land of the rising sun.

With such a vast automotive landscape, Australia in the 1970’s was a time of innovation and design and although both Holden and Ford are discontinuing production of their famed offerings, we at Rare Spares are proud to be able to support these models, new and old, for many years to come.

What is your most memorable moment from the 70’s? Sitting in the back of your parent’s classic or purchasing your first car for a bargain price? Head over to the comments section on the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!