Mystery Box Rally

It’s been wryly said that the first rally came after the first twenty owners of “horseless carriages” met at a pub. Disclaimer: there may be little, if any, truth, to that but it is true that car rallying sprang into life very early in the history of the car. It is generally accepted that the first rally was the Monte Carlo Rally of 1911. The format, without the name as such, goes back even further, with the 1894 Paris – Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition.

As cars, or automobiles, developed, and the technology evolved, rallying grew in popularity. Worldwide, various formats grew, with perhaps the best known being the WRC, with intercontinental rallies also proving popular. All of these take money, and sometimes lots of it. So for those with an eye on the economic side?

Australia’s world renowned for the larrikin streak and sense of humour and with a strong aftermarket car culture various forms of rallying have come and gone. One of the newer ones has, at its heart, what Australia holds dear. Mateship. Called the Shitbox Rally, drivers have cars that hover around the $1000 and are driven on a variety of road surfaces. The funds raised go towards cancer research via the Cancer Council of Australia.

The rally has spawned a child, and this is called the Mystery Box Rally. One key component of the regulations is that the cars must be at least 25 years old. It will be a looped drive, starting and finishing at the same location, and in October of 2018 the rally began from Mildura, in Victoria.

Founded in 1887, the town is situated around 100 kilometres east of the South Australia/New South Wales/Victoria border and sits on the banks of the Murray River. It’s a beautiful little town and ideal for the rally start. The cause itself is identical to the Shitbox Rally, with funds raised (teams are asked and expected to raise a minimum of $3500) going towards cancer research. Teams cover incidentals such as registration fees, food and accommodation, and fuel for around 2,500 kilometres.

To add to the enjoyment and the struggle, the regulations stipulate that only two wheel drive cars can enter. All wheel and four wheel drive cars are excluded, as are historic and vintage vehicles. The organisers, with perhaps a wise eye, also stipulate that the car to be entered should be cost effective in the possibility of a breakdown. Smartly, the organisers limited each team to just two drivers, again with an eye on the potential for carrying passengers, they being those that have had a vehicle give the ultimate sacrifice.

Drivers are kept in the dark as to the day’s route overnight – which adds the element of mystery, with information only provided to the teams early in the morning. And organizers are at pains to point out it’s not a race, as such. The winner is judged on how much was raised, the actual condition of the car (or, how hopeless it is), the joie de vivre the team exhibits, and literally anything that organisers decide on as the event progresses.

The 2018 Mystery Box Rally saw something in the order of over one hundred cars entered, ranging from a 1992 Toyota Camry wagon to a 1993 Ford Laser, from a 1990 Toyota Celica to a 1993 Holden Commodore wagon. Most teams reached their minimum $3500 amount, with Jasmine Brill & Felicity Pollock, in Fergus, a 1992 Mazda 626, raising $13,607 under the team name of “All The Gear And No Idea”.

“Two Burkes In A Merc”, Paul Marsh and John Koerner rallied a 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300C and snared $11,700, whilst Lindsay and Nicholas McAulley raked in $5725 in their 1982 Volvo 244GL, an unbreakable car if there is one.

This year’s rally raised over $367K, with a guaranteed minimum 80% going towards cancer research. If this looks like something that appeals, register here: https://www.mysteryboxrally.com.au/contact/

Have you ever entered the Mystery Box Rally and have a story to tell? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know all about it in the comments section below this article! 

Aussie Classics go for Record Prices

19. November 2018 09:47 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

“Everyone’s a winner, baby” goes the refrain in that song from Hot Chocolate, and there were two winners at a recent Lloyd’s classic car auction. Showing that taste and money can combine well, two absolute Australian classic car rarities were sold for two million dollars or more. One of these is possibly amongst the rarest cars the planet has seen, the other a car attached to a name that is synonymous with Australian motorsport.

In the early 1970s Ford Australia had produced the world’s fastest four door sedan. The Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III was powered by a 5.8L, 351 cubic inch pushrod V8.Top speed just shy of 230 kph and would see the Phase III reach one hundred kilometers per hour in a then astonishing six and a half seconds.

Development was underway on its replacement. Based on the slimmer, sleeker, less angular, XA Falcon, the Phase IV would have been the next chapter in Ford’s already illustrious muscle car history. Prototype cars had been engineered and built, however a media frenzy erupted.

In 1972 two journalists had discussed the planned release of the XA Phase IV. A story was printed and this quickly attracted the ire of politicians around the country. Just as quickly as the fire erupted, the program from Ford, with Holden and Chrysler also in similar development situations, was cancelled.

Journalist Harvey Grennan, the man said to be the catalyst for the cancellation, says there were four cars built, of which three were Brambles Red in colour were destined for the race track. The other was a production built Calypso Green and the only Phase IV to be fitted with a compliance plate.

Extra work was performed on the cars, such as changing the seat material to cloth instead of vinyl, and removing the radios. When the balloon went up, the cars were, as Grennan put it, “…quietly sold out the back door for as little as $3500…”.

Two of the red cars were destined for Fred Gibson and Allan Moffat, with the third being a spare. Moffat’s machine was sold to a rally driver and from there to the Bowden family collection. Another was sold to a rally driver, who on-sold it, with that car destroyed in a crash, said Grennan. The third car, and the one sold at Lloyd’s, was bought by collector Paul Carthew in 2000. The Calypso Green road car was sold via Jack Brabham Ford in Sydney, and after a handful of owners has enjoyed a mostly pampered life since the mid 1980s

Moffat was in attendance at the auction and was the person that “dropped the hammer” to conclude the bidding, with the Phase IV going for two million dollars. Chief Marketing Officer for Lloyd’s, Brett Mudie, said: “It didn’t surprise me that the car sold for this amount. We were expecting it to smash the last record quite easily, with bidding already at $1.5 million 3 days before the auction. The Phase IV’s limited number, immaculate condition, celebrity affiliation (with links to Fred Gibson and Allan Moffat) along with its chrome bumper all contributed to the car selling at this price and will underpin its value into the future.”

The other vehicle sold was born of the factory that was Ford’s biggest rival, and developed by Moffat’s friend and racing sparring partner, Peter Brock. The 1982 HDT VH Commodore was sold for $2.1 million, with its own piece of history being the first car to win the Bathurst 1000 twice in a row. In this car, “Peter Perfect” was King of the Mountain in 1982 and 1983.

HDT itself goes back to the 1960s and was a racing arm of Holden put together by Harry Firth. Drivers included Brock, and Colin Bond, with Firth seeing Brock’s potential as a race driver then. In 1979 Brock bought the HDT name and commenced an aftermarket company in 1980 called HDT-SV. Their first road car was based on the VC Commodore, the second model in the relatively new to market Commodore range.

One of Brock’s best mates, another Peter and with a surname related to motorsport, Peter Champion, took over the company after Brock’s tragic death in 2006. A wealthy business man in his own right, Champion had put together Australia’s largest collection of Brock cars, including the VH up for auction. Of the car and Brock himself, Champion says: “This result shows that Peter’s legacy lives on, and that people valued him not only as one of the best drivers in motorsport, but as a person.”

Champion had put most of the collection up for sale in 2013, with the proviso the cars remain together. The “Champion’s Brock Experience” was relocated to the DreamWorld theme park in Queensland from Champion’s Yeppoon base in 2015, where an anonymous collector bought the cars

The queues of people at motorsport events before Brock’s passing are testament to that, as are the immense amount of items signed by the legendary driver.

 

 

 

 

The Brabham BT62 – Australia’s Newest Supercar

5. November 2018 09:01 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Royalty comes in a few forms. There are the royal families of the world. There’s rock royalty like Angus Young, movie royalty like Meryl Streep. Then there are motorsport royalty names like Brabham. Australia’s own Sir Jack created a special place in history with his bespoke Grand Prix cars and the engineering prowess.

Now, in 2018, the Brabham name has been thrust back into prominence with the release of a car and a company bearing the famous name. Brabham Automotive, with David Brabham, son of Sir Jack Brabham, at the helm have released earlier this year the Brabham BT62.

BT continues a small yet very significant part of the Brabham history. Sir Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac made up the BT part of the names given to the race cars built starting with the BT1 from 1961.

The BT62 is a purpose built track weapon with none of the cars to be built destined, currently, to see road work. There’s some astonishing figures that come with the sleek, aerodynamically tuned design. Weight is just 972 kilograms and the car is powered by a bespoke 5.4-L V8 that produces 522kW. Torque? Plenty, thank you, at a hefty 667Nm. A race spec exhaust is naturally fitted and has been tested to produce a 98 decibel noise limit. The fuel tank holds 125-L and fuel is entered via race spec connectors.

Hi-po cars also need downforce and the exterior design of the BT62 has plenty. In this case there is more downforce than the weight of the car, at 1200 kilograms.

That last figure is more important than the face value suggests. Brabham Automotive are only building seventy, and they’re all intended to be track-based weapons. And with weight being the enemy of racing cars, that 972 kilograms comes courtesy of carbon fibre body panels, including the canards, front aeroblades and splitter, the dual element rear wing and diffuser, and the floor.

Race tech is in the form of a dry sump lubrication system, Motec engine control, and a fly by wire throttle system. An air jack system for quick lift and wheel change is also fitted. More Australian royalty in the form of a Hollinger six speed sequential transmission that has an engine “blip” on downshift can be found underneath the svelte bodywork, plus bespoke paddle shifts.

Being a track day oriented machine also means some basics need to be fitted. A FIA approved safety master-switch is coupled with a race spec 12 inch digital screen complete with GPS tracking and timing. Ride and handling comes courtesy of double wishbones front and rear that hold push-rod Ohlins TTX dampers and coil-over shocks.

The BT62 incorporates Brabham components to add extra Brabham DNA. Centre lock race wheels from Brabham are wrapped in 11J x 18 rubber up front, 13J x 18 at the rear. Brembo supply the stoppers with carbon pads on carbon discs, with 380mm and 355m front and rear.

The suspension has Brabham’s own Combined Bump Limiter, which minimizes front and rear yaw action. Brabham also fit their own steering wheel made from carbon fibre with the driver ensconced in a Brabham seat.

To be made available in a Celebration and Signature series, commemorating Brabham wins or personal design touches, brabhamautomotive.com stands ready to take your order…if any cars are left.

What do you think of Australia’s newest supercar? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page, and let us know in the comment section below this article.

Classic Australian Touring Cars

Brand loyalty. It’s a “thing” that companies spend a lot of money on in research and making it happening. Perhaps the best example of this is in the world of cars and there’s nothing more stronger nor more divisive than the love a man hath for the brand of car.

That’s why any list of Australia’s top touring cars will always be subjective, sure to cause discussion, and will be debated at length. Agreed, there are the drivers and team to consider but tell that to the marketing teams.

1. Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III

1971 and Bathurst see this car linked permanently in our motorsport history. Lap 43 of The Great Race saw Bill Brown and his yellow XY roll along the Armco after his front right tyre blew at over 100mph coming into McPhillamy Park. Three and a half rolls later Brown and his XY became part of folklore. Though it wasn’t the first time Bill had put a GT-HO on its lid, but that is a story for another day.

However there is the car itself. In qualifying for 1971’s race the top seven grid spots would be occupied by this racing machine from the Blue Oval factory. The top two cars were factory backed, the other five from privateers, and just 1.1 seconds separated fourth through to seven. Pole sitter Allan Moffat would take pole by three seconds ahead of John French.

Moffat and his Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III would go on to win the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 and would fill in five of the top ten positions at race finish.

2. TWR Jaguar XJ-S

Jaguar is one of those brands that is either a love, or it’s a ummm, no thanks. And whilst it may not instantly be recognized as a classic Australian touring car, it did win a Bathurst 1000. The Jaguar’s Bathurst story started when Tom Walkinshaw Racing took the long and elegantly designed V12 from one of Britain’s oldest brands, and turned a grand touring car into a race oriented touring car.

The car itself took over from the legendary E-Type in 1975 and in racing trim would be entered into the then Group C category. This was for cars with engines of over three litres in capacity and placed the near five metre long “Jag” against Holden’s VK Commodore with a 5.0L V8.

In the hands of TWR and Tom himself, three XJ-S machines would be in the top ten for the 1985 James Hardie 1000. Entitled “Hardies Heroes” grid spots 6, 2, and 1 would have the JRA Ltd backed cars in place. John Goss piloted the number 10 badged car for sixth in the shootout, with Jeff Allam and Walkinshaw himself taking second and pole.

Come race time and it was the German/Australian pairing of Armin Hahne and John Goss that would greet the chequered flag after 163 laps and a race time of six hours forty one minutes. Goss would also set the fastest lap with a 2:21.86.

3. Holden LX Torana SS A9X Hatchback.

Regarded as possibly one of the prettiest yet aggressive looking cars on Australian roads, the Holden Torana hatchback of the mid 1970s would be powered by a choice of six and V8 engines. With the tag of A9X giving the car a stronger differential and rear disc brakes plus slightly modified suspension and a Borg-Warner T10 manual four speed transmission.

Powered by the L34 spec 5.0L V8, Holden entered the LX into the Class A category for the 1978 Hardie-Ferodo 1000. That years was the introduction of the Hardies Heroes shootout, where drivers literally would draw the top ten running order for qualifying from a hat.

This era was also the sweet-spot for the Holden v Ford rivalry, as the top ten would see six Holdens and four Ford XC Falcon hardtops. Driven by Peter Brock, it would be the Marlboro-HDT Torana that would take pole by 8/10ths ahead of the Moffat Ford Dealers pairing of Colin Bond, a long time friend of Brock, and Allan Moffat.

History shows that the Holden LX Torana SS A9X Hatchback would fill four of the top ten finishing positions, with another two being the A9X four door versions. Brock and co-driver Jim Richards would be the only car to complete the full 163 laps, finishing a full lap ahead of another A9X hatchback driven by Allan Grice and John Leffler.

And then there was the legendary performance at Mount Panorama in 1979, where Brock and Richards would finish a staggering 6-laps ahead of everyone else – the next seven placed cars were also A9X Toranas.

4. Ford Falcon XC GS Hardtop

Ford Australia had resurrected a two door design for its legendary Falcon nameplate with the “coke bottle” XA Falcon in 1972. A slender nose would be offset by a somewhat heavy tail, with the rear flanks seemingly overwhelming the 14 inch diameter wheels. Subsequent redesigns would see subtle changes at the rear and with the blunter XB and XC noses adding an assertive presence.

Although perhaps of itself not a car that imprints itself into racing consciousness, it was the 1977 one-two finish of the big machines that has the XC Falcon two-doors in this list of classic Aussie touring cars.

Although Allan Moffat, the Canadian born driver that had made Australia his home, had qualified third, behind team mate Colin Bond, he would subsequently lay down the quickest lap of the 1977 race. Finishing a lap ahead of Peter Janson and Larry Perkins in their A9X hatchback, team orders had Moffat lead Bond into the final turn and across the line by a half car length in vision that brings tears to the eyes of Ford fans.

5. Volkswagen Beetle 1200.

1963 and the Volkswagen Beetle is finding love and homes throughout the world. It also found success on Australian racetracks. Entered into Class A, a category for cars costing less than nine hundred pounds, the “Dak-dak” would be amongst the list of cars racing at Mount Panorama for the Armstrong 500. The race had moved from Victoria’s Phillip Island and with the Australian Racing Drivers Club the new organizers.

In Class A, four VW 1200s would be in the top 5, with the winners of the class, Barry Ferguson and Bill Ford completing 116 laps of the new venue, and completing this list of the top five Australian Touring Cars.

What do you think is the greatest classic Australian Touring Car?
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Picture Credit: www.autopics.com.au

Classic Bathurst Recap - 1989

Changes were in the wind in the 1989 Bathurst 1000. Sponsored by beer giant Tooheys, the event continued its growth in stature internationally, and internally. Teams expanded from one car to two, and a return to the past was made, in the form of a standing start.

The all-conquering Ford Sierra RS500 was back and in bigger numbers. Enough were here that one of Australia’s favourite sons and a Holden icon had made the jump into the Blue Oval camp. The King of the Mountain would also be involved in an incident that, although technically within the rules, wasn’t seen as being of a sporting nature.

The Sierras attracted big names from overseas. Briton Andy Rouse came in to drive alongside Peter Brock. Ruedi Eggenberger returned to run the Allan Moffat operation, with a brand new car for Klaus Niedzwiedz, Moffat and Frank Biela. Alain Ferté flew in to drive a Glenn Seton car. Toyota was here, with the six cylinder Supra. John Smith and Drew Price, while Nissan had Anders Olofsson.

This year’s race was also an advance in television coverage, with the Tooheys Top ten shootout broadcast in full for the first time. The fastest ten cars from qualifying on Friday were sent out on the Saturday to determine the positions. Of the top ten final results, all but one were Sierras, with Nissan and Jim Richards claiming seventh.

Peter Brock would be given pole and it would be the only pole position of his career that wasn’t in a Commodore powered by a V8. It would also be a frustrating result for the Holden faithful as there were no Red Lion cars to be seen in that ten. There is also a little bit of history here, with all cars in the top ten being powered by a turbocharged engine, a feat not seen before or since.

The controversy around Brock and his car was simple, in essence. A fire suppressant system in the cars used a gas called Halon. A nozzle in the engine bay after the top ten run was found in scrutineering to have been pointed towards the engine’s turbo intercooler. The theory was that the gas had been discharged, lowering the temperature and boosting the engine output. Although later deemed to be not illegal, Brock was fined five thousand dollars.

A return to the standing start procedure also raised eyebrows. With a set start time of 10:00am, a formation lap had been performed and cars lined up on the grid. However it appeared that some were a little early and the subsequent wait may have contributed to a number of cars suffering engine failures during the race.

Race start and Brock lead the field, with old mate and sparring partner Dick Johnson, (with co-driver being Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe) in hot pursuit. There would be drama for Andrew Miedecke inside the first lap, with his #6 Sierra stuck in fifth gear thanks to a broken gear selector. This came on top of the #8 sister car, driven by Andrew Bagnall, crashing during the top ten shootout, however with only light damage allowing the car to start as the tenth car.

Coming down Conrod Straight, Johnson’s Sierra would pass Brock to take the lead, where throughout the next 160 laps it would remain.

The race would see a number of cars fail to finish due to mechanical problems. Brock himself would pit his Sierra, complaining of a loose rear wheel. The Tony Longhurst and Giancarlo Brancatelli Sierras would retire with Brancatelli’s car losing a wheel, and Longhurst out after his Benson and Hedges #25 car blew a head gasket. Longhurst would move into the #20 car and along with Alan Jones and Denny Hulme completed the race in fifth.

Glenn Seton’s Sierra had found oil on the track at Skyline. Seton’s #30 Peter Jackson sponsored car slammed into the tyre barrier backwards. Seton was ok and the car was able to be driven to the pits for repair where he, John Goss, and Tony Noske would later pilot the car to 20th. The #35 car would not complete the race.

Debris from Seton’s vehicle had an unfortunate knock-on effect for Brad Jones. Brake lines are an effective piece of equipment in a car when they’re in one piece. Jones’ car would have theirs cut by the debris, leaving Jones to find that out at speed coming into the Chase. He and co-drive Paul Radisich benched the car and would lose eight laps, finishing 9th.

The Sierras were showing signs of stress with the #18 Shell Ultra Hi car, driven by the UK pairing Jeff Allam and Robb Gravett, suffering electrical issues. Allan Moffat’s second car would be parked after just thirty laps, whilst John Mann and Murray Carter’s Sierra lasted just ten.

However the Skylines and Commodores were showing no such signs. Alan grice and Peter Janson would find themselves in the top five thanks to smart fuel pit strategy however some gremlins got into the transmission, dropping them to tenth at race finish. Brock’s rear wheel issue looked to have been fixed and the team would be back in the top three half way through the race. But again a problem occurred, this time with a recalcitrant wheel nut needing to be cut off. The hub was discovered to be so worn a new one could not be fitted and the team was out.

Bowe and Johnson had cemented their lead but in the closing laps the turbo boost pressure was falling. Bowe nursed the car along enough to hold the lead, watching the second Moffat Sierra, driven by Niedzwiedz and Frank Biela eventually fall off enough for Bowe to pit for a final fuel stop and get the car across the line for the win a full minute ahead of Biela.

Third would go to Jim Richards and a young Mark Skaife, in the Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R, with a team driver swap having Anders Olofsson bring home the second car in fourth.

Of fifty six cars entered, twenty nine would not see the chequered flag for the Tooheys Bathurst 1000 in 1989.