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.

Roxburgh Park Sound Off Event

Roxburgh Park Auto One/Rare Spares played host to a very successful sound off/show ‘n’ shine on Friday 15th November.

Weather was fantastic ensuring a large turnout for the event, which was complete with a free sausage sizzle, promotional girls collecting donations for the local CFA, door prizes and exclusive store discounts. The BBQ was going all night and the in-store promotion offered a 20% discount store-wide and an extra-special 30% off audio products for the sound off.

“We had over 300 cars turn up on the day and raised $760 for the local CFA,” said Brad De Pasquale, Store Manager.

Awards were given to the best cars in the JDM, Muscle Car, Aussie Tuner and Audio categories.

“There were a number of high quality cars like the Toyota Supra which won the ‘Showstopper’ award. Other winners included an LJ Torana and a yellow Maloo Ute.”

Many Auto One suppliers were in attendance and available for guests to speak with including MotorActive, Penrite, National Auto Parts, SP Tools, Auto Concepts and more.

Rare Spares and Auto One are looking to make the sound off an annual event as it was a huge success and a great opportunity to bring car enthusiasts together to share this passion. Some incredible cars and sound systems were on display as you can see from the event footage - click here to view.

 

Rare Spares Launch New Television Commercials

Rare Spares have launched two new television commercials which will be aired on 7Mate throughout the remainder of the year, so keep an eye out!

The commercials are designed to relate to car enthusiasts and feature old, rusty vehicles being restored back to new from tail to bonnet, with a voice over communicating Rare Spares key messages around their new slogan ‘more than just a part in your project’.

Officially endorsed by Holden and Ford, Rare Spares have two partner programs, ‘Holden Restoration Parts’ and ‘Ford Restoration Parts’. These logos feature prominently in the advertisements, which use a classic Holden and Ford as restoration projects.

The first features an old Holden Monaro being restored to new – Click below To View

http://rarespares.net.au/news/tvcholden.aspx

The second features an old XA Ford Coupe being restored to its former glory – Click below to View 

http://rarespares.net.au/news/tvcford.aspx

 

RARE SPARES….. More than just a part in you project.

Win A Day In The Drivers’ Den with Cameron McConville!


Rare Spares are offering two lucky winners an incredible HSV Drive experience with our Ambassador Cameron McConville.

 

Don’t just meet Cameron McConville, join him for a lap around the track and a full day thrill-seeker experience, learning the tricks of the trade. Improve your skills behind the wheel and enjoy a refreshing lunch with this fantastic prize offering from Rare Spares.

 Valued at over $650 The Day in the Drivers’ Den package includes:

  • The chance to meet Cameron McConville and other top racing drivers

  • Experience the GEN-F range: drive the 430kW GTS, the race-bred ClubSport R8, the tradesman’s nirvana, the Maloo R8, the sophisticated Senator Signature and the ultimate freedom machine, the ClubSport R8 Tourer.

  • Learn new skills around circuit driving, understeer/oversteer, ABS and swerve manoeuvres, seating and steering technique and more.

  • A lap around the track with Cameron McConville

  • A smorgasbord lunch with refreshments throughout the day

                   "The ultimate HSV drive experience is for any thrill seeker looking to enhance their driving skills in an action-packed day on the track" 

Cameron McConville

 To enter this promotion click here!

Entries close 3pm on July 23rd 2013.