Licenced to Thrill – The world of Expensive Numberplates

Many of us work hard to try and obtain the car of our dreams, spending countless hours and cash to make them just right, but there is one side of the automotive spectrum that many consider the icing on the cake, the simple licence plate. Some care not for a customised rectangle, but for others, it’s what matters the most. Here we will take dip into the world of expensive number plates and see what all the hype (and cost!) is about.

Many of us have heard the urban legends of certain plates selling for 6 figures but haven’t experienced it firsthand, yet there is an entire market place that exists beneath the surface which dedicated to unique, exclusive and desirable number plates. There are a few things that make up a sought-after plate, and these usually aren’t your high school nicknames (I’m talking to you “Smithy”). Things such as the model of a particular vehicle, such as 911 for a Porsche or GT-HO for a Falcon, easily add to the exclusivity of the plate. The value doesn’t lie in the material of the plate, but the bragging rights of finishing off a special car with its name sake.

For those living the highlife, the digits game is the place to be. The general rule is the fewer digits on the plate, the greater its potential resale value is and case is in point would be the single digit 1. The Victorian plate was purchased from retired mechanic from Ballarat in 1984 for $165,000 and is now currently owned by the owner of Coles and Fosters Peter Bartels current value, estimated at a cool $2.5 million, not a bad investment by any means. Some other honourable mentions would be the purchase of a Dubai “D5” and “1” numberplates for $9 million and $14 million respectively.

For many of us our pride and joy provides us with enjoyment and passion, but when passion goes to extremes, it’s not crazy to think that those with the cash would want to highlight it more.

Do you have an awesome numberplate of your own? Ever sell a plate only to find out its worth a mint? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section.

The Rare lions - Revisiting one of the Rarest GROUP A's of all time

Back at a time when Australia was serious about muscle cars, a popular beverage company took one of Holden’s most desirable creations at the time, and made it even more special. Here we will take a look at the ultra-exclusive 1991 HSV VN SS GROUP A (TOOHEYS GROUP A)

It was the year 1991 and Brocky was back on Holden’s books, driving the VN Group A SS like a bat out of hell. The VN Group A SS was the result of the 500 vehicle requirement for homologation touring and group a cars. The car itself was Holden’s most intimidating yet however it wasn’t until great race sponsors Toohey’s decided to go ahead with the mother of all promotions, sparing dodgy key chains and stubby holders, the beer giant decided to go all out and add their own touch to Holden’s already formidable beast.

The Group A VN SS was a truly well designed piece of kit. The engine featured Chev NASCAR conrods among other upgrades and Germanys own ZF supplying the first six speed ever fitted to a Holden. Not to mention Bilstein shocks all round and AP Racing claiming the clutch department with the car being fitted with switchgear, cruise and trip computer from the upmarket Calais. All in all, the beast was putting out a mind boggling 215kw (for the time) and got the midas touch from the crew at Tom Walkinshaw Racing, who placed the car in a British wind tunnel and got to work on its aero package.

Tooheys got their hands on chassis number 123 (1000V8) and 161 (2000V8), painting the cars in black and decorating with the appropriate decals , the two Rare Lions were on the cards to one lucky winner who gave the second vehicle to his son in law. Since then time has passed and car 1000V8 has been lovingly brought back to original condition after the current owner found the car used and abused. The whereabouts of 2000V8 remains a mystery, either being hidden away in a shed somewhere or having met its maker.

When it comes to Aussie legends, only in Australia could a beer company partner with an automotive powerhouse to produce some of the rarest Group A cars ever. So when it comes to the performance icons of the past, we say pour a cold one and raise a glass!

Do you know the whereabouts of the lost unicorn? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the mythical beast? Head over to the comments section on our Facebook page and let us know! ­­­

When scrap comes back – The revival of the Datsun 240k

When it comes to cars that flew under the radar, it is hard to think that the humble Datsun 240k would ever become a collector’s item, but like many unique cars of the era, they are growing in appeal and value.

The 240k was released in the early 70’s from the growing Japanese Datsun brand and debuted into a market filled with HQ Holden’s, VH Valiant’s and XA Falcon’s. The vehicle was not always considered the best in terms of looks quickly labelled as unattractive by the media, slotting somewhere above the questionable 120Y’s and behind the sleek 240z. The car featured a straight six L24 engine and cost around $5000 at the time, however it was a big call to spend that amount of money on a car that was considered by many to be inferior to its home grown counterparts.  

Coming in both sedan and coupe variants, the car sold well, although with no performance orientated model, the car never garnered the curb side appeal of a GT Falcon or Holden Monaro. It was seen as nothing more than a little Japanese run around and this image of the car and moving times saw them move into a class that could be considered undesirable.

With the boom in technology and performance experienced in the 90’s, the little Datsun had lost much of its unique appeal. The price of scrap metal was soaring, leading many of these unloved cars to be traded in for nothing more than a quick buck, with the rest of the remaining cars living out their days rusting away in the back of paddocks and properties across Australia.

It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that demand soon began to outweigh supply. With numbers significantly diminished, the existing examples soon began to catch the eye of enthusiasts whose parents had owned the car or those who had their own experiences with the old Datsun. The once quirky Japanese vehicle had fast become a desirable classic and it didn’t take long before barely salvageable rusted cars were being snatched up from paddocks and sheds across the country.

From a car that was once considered worthless to one that is now fetching prices similar to that of cult Aussie classics, it goes to show that it can be hard to predict which car is destined to garner such a passionate following. The 240k has gained more and more respect over time and with its love it or hate it styling the car is always one to stir the pot, but we tip our hat to the humble Datto for adding another piece to our exciting and diverse automotive history.

Do you have one of these classics hiding in your shed? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the 240k? Head over the comments section of the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!

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.