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!

Power Boost - Taking a Look at Two Iconic Aussie Turbo’s

Over the years, Australian manufacturers have been mostly known for producing family sized rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated six and eight cylinder vehicles. However, throughout the years, both Holden and Ford have dipped their toes into turbo-charging technology, providing affordable cars with oodles of power and a plethora of modification options. Whilst there have been a number of turbocharged vehicles from Australian manufacturers, none have captured the hearts and minds of the public quite as much as the VL Turbo and the XR6 Turbo. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at these turbo powered favourites and discuss what made these such successful models.

Holden Commodore VL Turbo

With unleaded petrol coming of age throughout the 80’s, Holden battled to find an engine appropriate for their new VL model that could deal with the new fuel. So, when they turned to Nissan and sourced the Skyline bound RB30 six cylinder for the new Commodore, Australian car enthusiasts were understandably excited. Excitement levels would reach their peak when it was announced that a turbo would be coupled with the RB30, producing a powerful 150kw. Not only was the turbo of significance, improvements were also made in the form of front disc brakes, 15 inch wheels and FE2 suspension, making the VL turbo the affordable modifiers dream.

The Australian Police Force also took note as they adopted a modified version of the VL Turbo as their new pursuit vehicle. These VL’s were denoted “BT1” and featured a number of modifications such as different pistons, upgraded four wheel disc brakes, Corvette front calipers, larger oil pump and a knock sensor. These modifications not only gave the Police a vehicle capable of chasing crooks down a highway, they allowed officers to perform breaking manoeuvres out of reach to the average car of the time.

VL Turbo’s and particularly BT1’s are worth a pretty penny on the used car market these days and you’ll be doing well to find one that isn’t modified to the gills. However, VL Turbo’s still contain a certain level of “wow” factor that will buy you a level of street cred that’s out of reach to a current model Commodore.

Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo 

In 2002, the BA Falcon XR6 Turbo brought upon a step outside of the Falcon’s recent conservative comfort zone and was a Falcon truly deserving of a performance car reputation. By bolting a Garrett turbo onto the 6-cylinder ‘Barra’ engine platform, the XR6 turbo was able to produce a lively 240Kw/450Nm whilst giving its 8-cylinder competition a serious hurry-up. Fast in stock form and a tinkerers dream, the Barra platform was able to handle a wild level of modifications.

Fast forward 14 years and Ford has released its last iteration of the XR6 Turbo – the FGx XR6 Turbo Sprint. Producing a mind bending 370kw/650nm in overboost form, which is only activated at full throttle for a maximum of 10 seconds; the XR6 Turbo Sprint is the fastest 6 cylinder ever produced in Australia. Based on the previous FPV F6 model, features of the new Sprint include a new lower airbox, carbon fibre intake and a freer flowing exhaust. Other specifications include updated suspension, new Pirelli tires and a recalibrated ZF automatic transmission.

Despite a somewhat lackluster interior, which has remained largely unchanged since the original BA, a 0-100 time of 4.7 seconds and a quarter mile time “in the 12’s” is enough to ensure Ford enthusiasts aren’t at all bothered by the interior. The end result is quite possibly the best ‘bang for your buck’ Australian car ever built.

These two cars will most likely go down in history as the two greatest turbocharged Australian produced cars ever made. Do you own either of these two iconic fan favourites? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about your turbocharged pride and joy 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.

Cars and Australia in 1955

19. February 2015 14:34 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Sixty years ago, Australia was a much smaller, simpler nation. World War Two was well and truly in the past and the baby boomer generation were well and truly blossoming.

In 1955, the Australian Prime Minister was Robert Menzies,  HMAS Melbourne was commissioned into the Australian Navy and the controversial  Snowy River Hydroelectric Scheme started producing power for the first time. The number one song on the Aussie music charts in 1955 was ‘Hold My Hand’, by Don Cornell and Nat King Cole.

The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix was held at the former Port Wakefield Circuit and was won by Jack Brabham in a Cooper Bristol.

The Australian car scenery certainly looked very different to that of today. In 1955 there were 1.4 million passenger vehicles registered in Australia.  As a comparison that figure is now over 13 million.

For every 1,000 people in Australia in 1955, there was only 153 cars on our roads.  That has obviously changed with a much higher  568 cars per 1,000 people now grid locking roads across the country. We wonder what it might be like in another 50 years?

There was less people on our roads, but safety of roadways and vehicles was in contrast to now, quite primitive.  Seatbelts were not required to be worn until 1970 and the total road toll in 1955 was 2042 people. That is per capita nearly triple the current road toll statistics.

The FJ Holden was becoming the car of choice for many Australians, having only been released the year previously.  With a 2.2 litre straight six engine, the FJ produced around 65hp and would go on to be the iconic car it is today.  

Ford was offering the Ford Customline and also the Fordomatic vehicles, which were both powered by a Ford V8 and were a much larger car than the FJ Holden.

It was around 1955 that Drive-in theatres were starting to be introduced and no doubt many Aussies would have been taking their cars down to the local drive in theatre for a night out.

Times change, but it’s always good to look where we have come from and enjoy years gone by.

Luckily, with Rare Spares help, many of the cars from this era are still proudly kicking on.