The Future is now – Holden’s Concept Cars

With Holden closing down its production in Australia in 2017, not only will remember classics such as the Torana and the Australian built Commodore, we will also miss the impressively forward thinking and sometimes crazy concept cars. Holden have been particularly active in designing concept cars throughout their history, with many capturing global attention and in some cases knocking on the door of production. In this article we take a look at four of our favourite Holden concept cars from the last 50 years.

The EFIJY

The ‘EFIJY’ was built by Holden in 2005 as a tribute to the iconic FJ and successfully mated the past, present and the future in to one timelessly impressive looking package. Although not technically built in the same vein as many concept cars, which often indicate technology and design of the future, the EFIJY was met with a similar reception. Designed and built afterhours as somewhat of a passion project, the car was built on a modified Corvette chassis and featured a thumping 6.0 litre V8 producing 480kw/ 775nm. The car was so well received it was even the recipient of the 2007 Concept Car of the Year award in Northern America, proving that the EFIJY’s timeless good looks appealed to a global audience. Despite high demand from millionaires such as sheiks and sporting stars, Holden made the decision to cap production at one, with the EFIJY currently residing at Holden’s headquarters in Port Melbourne.

 

 

The Hurricane

Built in 1969, Holden’s ‘Hurricane’ was Australia’s first glimpse into what the future of motoring may look like. Featuring a rear-view camera, an early form of satnav, inertia reel seatbelts and one of the most interesting door opening mechanisms ever seen, the Hurricane was a long way ahead of its time. A mid mounted 193kw 4.2 litre V8 coupled with some very aggressive aerodynamics ensured the remarkable concept car was also quite zippy for the time. In 2011, a refurbished Hurricane was unveiled at Melbourne’s Motorclassica event after 6 years’ worth of repairs had been undertaken to restore the Hurricane to its former glory.

 

 

Torana GTR-X

This featherweight Torana concept was born in the 1970’s with serious intentions of eventually going into production. Featuring the 186 from the XU1 driving power through a 4 speed manual transmission, this 1043kg prototype reached a top speed of over 200km/h during early testing. The car also featured pop up headlights, four wheel disc brakes taking many design cues from the Lotus Esprit of the day. The GTR-X featured in promotional footage and brochures, confirming Holden’s interests of production. However, it wasn’t to be as higher ups decided that the GTR-X was best left in concept form, leaving many a Holden fan to wonder what could have been!

 

 

Coupe 60

When the Holden Coupe 60 was unveiled in 2008 at the Melbourne International Motor Show questions were quickly asked as to whether or not it may herald a new era of Monaro’s on Australian roads. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Holden ensured fans the Coupe 60 was nothing more than a concept. Featuring a b-pillar less design, massive 21-inch centrelock wheels and an E-85 friendly 6.0 litre LS2 V8, the Coupe 60 was the stuff of Holden fans dreams. Showing that the concept car wouldn’t have been too far out of place on the race track, the vehicle featured a rear diffuser, front splitter and a carbon fibre spoiler. The Coupe 60 was received so well at the initial unveiling that other manufacturers even halted their own planned vehicle announcements in fear of being overshadowed.

What has been your favourite Holden concept car? Head over to Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

5 of the Best Australian TV Car Commercials

Australia has been home to many fantastic car ads over the years, with manufacturers pushing to appeal to our unique mannerisms and sense of humour. In this post, we look at 5 of the best car commercials that have hit Australian’s TV screens over the years.

Subaru Outback – Made For Australiana - 2015

This clever Subaru Outback ad, which was based on the original Australiana skit written by Billy Birmingham, received extremely positive reviews when it hit screens in 2015. The narrator expertly twists the pronunciation of Aussie towns, animals and phrases to piece together a 90 second clip outlining an epic Subaru Outback road trip. The ad has received well over 2 million views on YouTube, cementing it as one of the most popular Australian Car ads in history.

 

Football, Meat pies, Kangaroos, Holden Cars - 1970’s

This 1970’s Holden ad is arguably Australia’s most iconic car ad. To this day, the tune is still familiar to anyone whose ears have been graced with the chant of: “Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars”. The aim of the ad was to entrench Holden Cars as a brand that was to be associated with all things universally considered Australian. Featuring clips of iconic Australian locations such as the Sydney Opera House intertwined with shots of the era’s Holden cars; this ad is an interesting look back at Australia in the 70’s.

 

Honda HR-V - Dream Run - 2015

The Honda HRV ad titled “Dream Run” is one of the most well produced Australian car ads of the last 5 years; featuring everything from a transformer like HR-V to a talking dog. This ad takes viewers inside the lucid dreams of main character ‘Brian’, who at every step is being told to ‘wake up’. Fortunately for Brian, magically a Honda HR-V appears and he’s able to get away from everything and everyone who’s trying to end his incredible adventure. “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics serves as the perfect backing track to this weird and wacky ad.

 

Toyota Hilux – Baby Come Back - 2011

Tragedy strikes in this 2011 ad when a man’s Hilux roles off a cliff and into the ocean below. The incident results in the character slipping into a deep depression, as he’s unable to cope with the loss of his beloved Ute. As the grief proves too much and the man walks alone along the beach at the scene of the accident, he is amazed to stumble across his washed up Hilux. Unbelievably, the Hilux is unscathed and starts without issue. This ad was well received as it not only gave a funny portrayal of the ‘tough-ness’ of Toyota’s Hilux, it didn’t take itself too seriously, which is a trait many of the target audience could associate with.

 

Holden Ute - Thunderstruck - 2001

Although maybe not as creative or cutting edge as some of the others on this list, this ad succeeded in capturing the dreams of many of the car’s target market. The ad portrays a SS Ute cutting loose in a deserted field, resulting in a huge tornado and storm. With AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” playing in the background, this ad was successful in outlining that the SS was a car not to be messed with. Interestingly, this ad was produced pre-hoon laws, at a time when many manufactures were pushing the limits of what was allowed to be shown in TV ads.

What is your favourite Australian TV car commercial? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know below in the comments section.

Roaring Heart – The Aussie Powered Alfa

In 1986 Paul Helstead and Formula 1 engineer Barry Lock set about building one of Australia’s first supercars; a rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Sprint. The initial plan was to pair the Sprint body with a mid-mounted 2.5 litre Alfa Romeo V6, coupled with a ZF 5-speed transmission and Brembo brakes. This hot coupe was to be named ‘Giocattolo’, which translates in Italian to ‘toy’. Shortly after testing began, the Giocattolo team was to face issues in guaranteeing a steady supply of engines from Alfa Romeo, thus the search began for a replacement power source.

Halstead and Lock were to eventually decide on the Holden Walkinshaw 5.0 litre V8 Group A engine as the new power plant. Producing 220Kw/500Nm, the new engine package was a rocket, capable of powering the Giocattolo to 0-100kph in just 5.4 seconds, whilst having an electronically limited top speed of 250kph. As a result of the upgraded tires, brakes, transmission and a high tech Formula 1 style rear suspension setup, the Giocatollo possessed handling characteristics not dissimilar to a road registered go-kart on steroids.

The interior of the Sprint was also modified in the Giocattollo build process. The standard seats were replaced with leather Recaro’s, a Momo steering wheel was added and the dash was modified to fit the extra gauges. Other interesting features were the new centre console with integrated handbrake lever, power windows, air conditioning and even central locking.

As a result of the $80,000AU price tag, the Giocattolo did not sell particularly well, with only 15 of the Italian-Australian supercars were built, including 3 prototypes. In 1989 the Giocattollo closed its doors after 3 years of production, finding that it was not the right time for such a car in the Australian market.

Of the 15 built, car number 007 was destroyed in an accident in 2001, whilst one other is unaccounted for. Car number 007 was originally owned by the Brisbane Bears Australian Rules Football Club and was painted in the club’s colours; with a gold exterior and maroon interior. Car number 011 is also believed to have been owned by Lindsay Fox at one point in time, whilst the Queensland Police were even considering using Giocattolo as their pursuit car! All known remaining cars are reported to be in great condition and have been known to change hands for well over the original $80,000 price tag.

What is your favourite uniquely Australian car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Bucking the Trend - How Australia fell in love with the 240z

When Mr Yataka Katayama was employed by Nissan Motor Company back in 1960, he was tasked with marketing a car to the lucrative US market that strayed from the company’s roots of producing no-frills transportation to the local Japanese market. After failing throughout much of the sixties to produce the car that would penetrate the US market, in 1966 development began on a project named ‘Z’.

The aim for project ‘Z’ was to produce a car that was powerful, comfortable, had great handling characteristics, looked nothing like a typical Japanese car of the time and it had to be affordable! After 3 years of development, the Datsun 240z was released to the US public in 1969 featuring a SOHC 2.4 litre six-cylinder power plant, disc brakes upfront and independent suspension. Whilst none of those features individually were particularly ground-breaking at the time, the 240z was the first car to include all of these features in an affordable package

After any initial problems were ironed out, production of a right hand drive 240z commenced in 1970 before being distributed around the world. The Datsun 240z proved immediately popular amongst car enthusiasts in Australia and has developed somewhat of a cult following in the decades since. Powerful rear-wheel drive cars have always proved popular in the Australia market, and the 240z was a way for the average punter to own a car that was quick, even by today’s standards. The 240z was capable of achieving 0-60mph in 8 seconds before accelerating to a top speed of 125mph (201kph).

The 240z was immediately well received in Australia, despite being more expensive than both the Ford GTHO and Cortina. The Japanese 240z benefitted from favourable magazine reviews that in many cases compared the vehicle with miss-matched competition such as the Triumph TR6 and four cylinder offerings from Alfa Romeo and Lancia. These outdated and underpowered cars were no match for Datsun’s comparatively modern 240z.

Datsun’s focus on performance during the production process meant that the 240z proved immensely popular in the aftermarket industry, with the car ultimately proving to be a competitive racing package. Although racing of the 240z in Australia did not take off immediately, it was in the Sports Car Club of America meetings where seeing a 240z leading the pack was becoming all too common. Datsun’s involvement in racing in Australia eventually came in the form of the national Australian Rally Championship, with Ross Dunkerton driving the 240z to a series victory in 1975, and the incoming 260z in 1976 & 1977.

To this day, the Datsun 240z remains a popular option for car collectors and heritage racers alike, with mint condition, un-modified examples selling for north of $50,000AU.

Have you ever owned or driven a 240z? Let us know about your pride and joy on the Rare Spares Facebook page and below in the comments section.

Falcon Farewell – Saying Goodbye to the Aussie Icon

When Ford introduced the XK Falcon to the Australian market back in 1960, not many would have predicted the impact that the ‘Falcon’ name would have on the Australian motoring landscape. Production of the Falcon came to an end in 2016, although along the 56 year journey Ford was able to produce a number of iconic Australian cars. Here we take a look at six Falcons that will forever be remembered by Australian motoring enthusiasts.

1965 XP Flacon

The original XK is remembered as a car that unfortunately wasn’t built with local conditions in mind, resulting in the model receiving a poor reputation amongst consumers. Ford went back to the drawing board; with build quality issues being quickly remedied and by 1964, the XP Falcon was the car that kick started over five decades of manufacturing of the Falcon in Australia. In order to overcome durability issues faced in the original Falcon, Ford conducted 70,000km of around the clock on-road testing at their You-Yang’s facility. The end result of this arduous testing was a car that proved to be capable of handling everything Australia’s harsh conditions could throw at it.

1971 XY GT-HO Phase III 

Arguably Australia’s most iconic car, the XY GT-HO Phase III was originally built in order to homologate the XY Falcon for racing. Only 300 units were built. The 351 cubic inch that lay underneath the bonnet was a true fire breather, non-standard heads and valves with an increased compression ratio of 11.5:1 coupled with a 780 Holley carby. It was capable of a top speed of 142mph and 14.4 seconds down a quarter mile which propelled it to the fastest four door sedan in the world at the time. The HO also came couple with  These days a very good example of one of these cars would set you back a bit south of $500,000.

1973 XA GT RPO83

In 1972 the XA Falcon range was introduced, with arguably one of the biggest body styling changes since the introduction of the Falcon it certainly made an impression in the car park. With the Supercar Scare and the cancelling of the Phase 4 program hope was not completely lost for a hero car beyond the GT staple.1973 gave rise to Regular Production 83, a performance package option with 250 units scheduled 259 were eventually built. The package included a big 780 Holley carby and extractors along with some other rumoured extras. Not all were fitted with the same equipment supposedly and this has led to many theories as to what was factory and what wasn’t on the limited run cars. They now demand a substantial premium with a recent Lime Glaze RP083 Sedan said to have sold for $240,000.

1980 XD ESP

1979 brought another body styling transitioning from the XC range which marked the introduction of side intrusion bars and the forever iconic blue oval grille and bootlid badges. The XD was more reminiscent of the XY styles with sharper body lines and was heavily influences by the European Granada Mk2. With the departure of the GT name in 1976 the public now were deemed ready for another substantial sports package, the European Sports Pack (ESP) option in 1980. Option 54 – ESP, included “Scheel” fornt seats, Red lit instruments/clock, Bilstein shockers, dual rear radius rods and Bathurst Globe rims. Ever since the introduction of the ESP they have been a sought after vehicle with XD and XE ESP’s demanding between $15,000 and $45,000 in most cases depending whether they were 6 cylinder’s or fitted with the highly desirable factory T code 351ci engine.

2002 BA XR6 Turbo

In 2002, the BA XR6 Turbo brought upon a step outside of the Falcon’s recent conservative comfort zone. This turbo charged engine package option utilized the new Barra I6 4.0L with a Garrrett GT40 Turbo, it was able to produce a lively 240Kw/450Nm whilst giving its 8-cylinder counterpart some serious competition. The new look BA design with the XR6 Turbo offering went a long way to erasing the memories of the largely unpopular AU range.
 

2014 FGX XR8 Sprint

The 2014 FGX XR8 Sprint will go down in the history books as the most powerful Falcon ever produced. The brochure will tell you that the XR8 Sprint produces 335Kw/570Nm, although as a result of its ‘transient over-boost’ feature, maximum power figures will read closer to a whopping 400Kw/650Nm. The FGX brought in a number of cosmetic changes compared to the outgoing FG, although the interior stayed much the same. Whilst some may deride the fact the interior is a little plain, and that the car is lacking a few common technical features, it still remains that the consumer had access to unbelievable power figures at a very competitive price point.

The Ford Falcon will forever hold a special place in Australian motoring enthusiast’s hearts, and with a number of other Falcons arguably being capable of making this list, we’d love to hear which have been your favourite Falcon’s over on the Rare Spares Facebook page and in the comments section below.