The European Connection; Holden Commodore’s Euro Influence

To many the Holden Commodore is about as ‘true blue Aussie’ as thongs, vegemite, meat pies and kangaroo’s. With the announcement of Holden manufacturing in Australia ceasing at the end of the year, many are up in arms at the prospect of a re-badged ‘Euro’ Opel Insignia for 2018. However you might be interested to learn that Commodore has long held a strong European influence.

Back in 1978, the VB Commodore hit showroom floors, replacing the Kingswood and Torana with a model that was sized somewhere between the two. The VB, and subsequent VC and VH models were all significantly based on a combination of the Opel Rekord and the Opel Senator.

The story goes that during initial testing of the concept a test vehicle was driven through outback Australia where it is said to have broken at the firewall. As a result, significant improvements were made to the chassis, as well as modifications to both suspension and steering. Design cues throughout the rest of the first generation can be linked back to the Commodore’s European heritage, and whilst the VK and VL did move a little further from the original design, the resemblance is unmistakable.

The second generation of the Commodore heralded a new era for Holden, as they finally had a car that matched the Falcon for size. Once again strong design cues were taken from Opel, with the VN resembling the Opel Senator B and Opel Omega A. The chassis consisted of many components taken from the VL, which was then stretched, widened and strengthened to accommodate the increased sizing of the VN body work. The second generation Commodore would carry on through to 1997 when it was eventually replace by the all-new VT. The European connection would continue however right through to the VZ, with the third generation Commodore once again being based on the Opel Omega.

It was not until 2006 with the VE model that Holden would produce a Commodore not heavily based on its European counterparts. The VE and updated VF were and continue to be a favourite amongst the Australian public, with models such as the SSV Redline and of course the HSV variants showcasing the best of Australia’s automotive capabilities. To the dismay of many, Holden will be winding up its local manufacturing this year, and whilst the 2018 Commodore could very well turn out to be a great car, it just won’t carry the same meaning to many as the Commodores of yesteryear.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming Commodore? Will it be a fitting replacement or an imposter? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

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!

The HSV GTSR W1 - History In The Making

As a final, explosive swan-song for Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) and its final iterations of specialist performance packages, the most powerful HSV’s ever will be launched from their Clayton base. Enter the GTSR and GTSR W1.

Many will be familiar with the GTSR badge, which last made an appearance on the eye-catching yellow and somewhat polarising VS GTSR in 1996.

After 30 years working with Holden it seems only fitting that HSV have revived the GTSR moniker turning up the wick to modify these jaw-dropping GTSR creations, culminating in what is Australia’s most powerful Aussie production car ever, the W1.

No stone has been left unturned in the process of transforming the car into a modern, mechanical work of art. At the heart of the W1 is a heaving beast in the form of the hand built, 6.2L, supercharged LS9, Gen IV alloy V8. Originally the powerplant for Corvette in the U.S, HSV had to widen the track and front guards to shoehorn the V8 into the Holden. And we are glad they did!

To protect the strengthened internals and suit the demands the engine will be placed under, a nine plate air-to-water cooled dry sump lubrication system is employed, which is normally a feature reserved for racing machinery and supercars. To suit Australian conditions, a beefed up cooling system was included, as was a larger supercharger intercooler and hi-flow water pump.

The GTSR W1 displaces a massive total of 474kw/+815Nm of tyre destroying power. HSV claim the W1 will hit 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds and reel off the quarter mile time in an impressive 12.1 seconds, making it the fastest production car ever produced in Australia, adding another title to its long list. If you are keen, for the record, you can also hit 98.5km/h in first gear.

In what some would say true ‘purist’ spirit, the new GTSR range is only offered in 6 speed close ratio manual format. Although no automatic option may put a few potential buyers off, HSV’s philosophy of building a road registered race car aligns with their choice to favour a manual. And with manual transmissions becoming rarer each year, and the car’s potential as an investment platform in the future, going manual is another smart decision by HSV on this front we believe.

The bespoke list of modifications is truly incredible, many only produced with the W1. There is an OTR carbon fibre cold air intake, custom gearbox input shaft and gearset, single piece forged flywheel, AP racing six piston calipers, specially designed rotors for cooling, 20” wheels that maximise cooling to the brakes and wheels are wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo semi-slicks.

With handling such a critical component of connecting the driver to the road, HSV’s ultimate creation has an all-new Supashock suspension system, modelled off Walkinshaw Racing’s Supercars. Combined with the HSV enhanced Driver Interface (EDI) a full range of electronic based drive characteristics can be optimised to your preference, including torque vectoring, stability settings, launch control, bi-modal exhaust and electrical steering weight.

The end result of all of these individual changes is a package that is more than the sum of its parts and something HSV and the Australian automotive market should be proud of. It represents what can be accomplished from Australian based manufacturers, providing a ray of sunshine in what is otherwise a somewhat glum period for Australian manufacturing and automotive market.  

Keen to get your hands on this piece of Aussie automotive history in the making? Unfortunately you are already too late. Once word got around of the impending launch of this incredible machine and the fact only 300 W1’s are ever being produced, orders flooded in, resulting in the car being sold out before it even hit the showroom floor. In fact, more than 500 additional orders were unable to be fulfilled, leaving many potential owners disappointed they would miss out.

Of course all this performance, exclusivity will come at a cost. How much? Well you won’t get any change out of $170,000. That may seem like a hell of a lot of money, but given its status as the most powerful HSV ever, the fastest production car ever built in Australia, the most technologically advanced HSV, and the final Holden HSV to ever be built, there are more than a few reasons to join history.

Will the HSV GTSR W1 become the next GTHO Phase III in the future, or is it overpriced for what it is? Let us know on the Rare Spares Facebook page.

Seeing Stars – Superstars and their Cars

When it comes to the automotive bug, it seems that no one is immune. Although our cars can all vary by value, we all have one thing in common, a passion for machinery on four wheels. Whether it’s the way they drive, the nostalgia or even pure style of a ride, we all have a soft spot for mankind’s arguably greatest invention. Here we will take a look at a few of the entertainment industries most notable characters and the breath taking fleet of cars that they have in their arsenal.

It’s probably best to start this list with the one person we would probably all put our hands up to trade places with. He may not be known for his outgoing dress style, but this American talk show host’s car collection is something of a childhood fantasy. Jay Leno possesses more supercars than most museums, holding some incredibly rare (and expensive) pieces in his collection such as the 1994 McLaren F1, 1969 Lamborghini Miura S and even the timeless 1955
Mercedes 300SL. Not a supercar snob by any means, Leno also a 1970 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and a 1963 Corvette Stingray hiding around in his 130 car warehouse!

He may have single handily ruined top gear and take the award for the most annoying bloke on the planet, but UK car fanatic Chris Evans has a few rides that easily makes him the envy of many car nuts across the world. His collection over the years has included a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder which was previously owned by Steve McQueen, the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, a 1972 VW Beetle and even a Porsche 944 Cabriolet, talk about a varied taste.

Jerry Seinfeld has been a comedy mastermind for many years but most car lovers know him for something else. Seinfeld’s collection is known to almost rival that of Leno’s and with more than 60 cars under his wing, he is always on the lookout for the next thing to catch his eye. When looking at his collection, you can see that each car has been personally selected out of pure passion and the man clearly has an undeniable draw to Porsches. His fleet includes a 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR and an incredible 1990 Porsche 962C. He even has the first air-cooled Porsche 911, which he still considers his favorite.  

Bringing it back to home shores who could not include Eric Bana. The Aussie acting legends roots had been clearly grown from the blue oval, with his first car, a 1973 Ford Falcon XB Coupe, featured in his stand out films for car lovers, Love the Beast. Add to that the fact that Bana races in the Targa Tasmania and it’s clear that this actor has earned the title of celebrity gearhead.

With such a broad automotive spectrum, sometimes we can feel pretty envious of people who have mass collections of dream cars. However, we think as long as you have something you can call your pride and joy sitting in your driveway, then you are just as lucky.

Who would you like to swap spots with for a day? What would you have in your dream collection? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below!

The Future Of The Auto Industry Down Under

We spoke to Rare Spares Ambassador and Racing Legend, John Bowe about the future of the automotive industry in Australia and the end of Australian car manufacturing.

“I wouldn’t class myself as an expert, but I’ve had a full motoring life and I think it’s quite sad that we’re not going to have any manufacturing here anymore, because some of the cars that Ford and Holden have produced have been seriously iconic Australian cars,” said Bowe.

“All these problems started years and years ago and have been perpetuated by the following governments, so it was inevitable that this was going to happen.”

"Once Holden and Ford have declared their hands, Toyota ultimately wouldn’t have any choice, because the fringe industries which unfortunately are going to suffer a great deal of job loss, can’t sustain with one manufacturer. It’s like a stack of cards unfortunately. I have a lot of compassion for the people involved.”

“It’s my opinion that there will still be growth in the Australian car market and companies such as Ford and Holden and Toyota will become more profitable.”

“There will still be an aftermarket. In the last five to seven  years there has been a bit of a change in our culture about which type of cars we drive. We have a massive choice of cars in Australia, so the aftermarket will always be there. It’s a changing scene for sure, but there will always be an aftermarket.”

“Rare Spares will probably see some growth, because cars that have been Australian and have a place in people’s hearts will be being restored more, so I can see this market going up.”

“I think the tariff will probably stay as it is. I can’t see much changing, except for higher unemployment rates. The government is charged with developing other industries that these people can be employed in.”

The car industry isn’t going to be there anymore and it makes me sad, but I’m not surprised.”

 “The level of interest in restorations now is increasing because everyone that loves cars realises that we aren’t going to have Australian Falcon’s or Commodores, and the cars of the 80’s are now going to become restorable.”

“Where it used to be the 50’s and 60’s and then slowly became the 70’s, this is going to bring forward the 80’s cars like the XE Falcons and VK Commodores. People will be restoring them because they are part of our history.”