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.

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!

2016 Motorsport Season Wrap Up

When it comes to the automotive world, it definitely goes without saying that we at Rare Spares are suckers for Motorsport. Whether it be the iconic Supercars (formally V8 Supercars) or the Touring Car Masters, we can’t get enough of fast and furious four wheeled action. Here we will take a look back at some of the series my exciting moments and how they finished up.

Last year the Supercar series went through, some big changes, one of which was dropping the V8 name from the series to make way for turbo charged vehicles. However, the year was not without incident. Who could forgot the Red Bull poster boys Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen fighting at the front throughout the season, until the second last round in New Zealand where one punted the other, sending Van Gisbergen sliding off the road. This Supercars season also saw the first full-time female racer in decades enter the series. Simona De Silvestro was a former Indy Car racer and with her impressive wild card entry in the 2015 Bathurst, she was locked into a three year deal in the Australian category.

Some other big moments saw HRT move to Triple Eight with Holden choosing the team over Walkinshaw Racing, ahead of the development of their new 2nd generation Supercar. The biggest story would have to go to the events that took place at the Bathurst 1000. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were named the Bathurst champions after a dramatic end to the race in October. Whincup was stripped of his first place result due to a 15 second time penalty that was applied post-race. The series ended up being taken out by Van Gisbergen after an extraordinary display of skill and ability throughout the year.

The Touring Car Masters also provided nothing short of a thrilling series once again, with high horse power and classic metal never failing to impress. One of the most memorable moments would go to the man Glenn Seton taking out the title for the first Trans-Tasman challenge. The Touring Car Masters and Central Muscle Cars went head to head at Mount Panorama for an incredibly exciting race which saw the Thunder Road Racing Team Australia driver claim his third TCM race win at Bathurst and fourth of the season.

The series also provided some valiant efforts with Eddie Abelnica ending a 64 race streak without a Touring Car Masters race victory, thanks to a brilliant performance at the stunning Phillip Island GP Circuit. Abelnica powered his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon hardtop to the win from fourth on the grid, passing Glenn Seton, Jason Gomersall and John Bowe in an outstanding display of steering. The Touring Car Master season title went to none other than Rare Spares ambassador, John Bowe, after he recorded his eighth race win of the year with an 80 point lead ahead of second place winner, Eddie Abelnica.

With such an exciting season of Motorsport behind us, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate automotive scene and with 2017 in full swing, we cannot wait to see what this year will bring!