1992 Bathurst Re-cap

As the Supercar enduro cup is about to begin and the iconic Bathurst 1000 creeps up on us at a rapid rate, we’ve decided to produce a series of articles on some of the more memorable Bathurst’s over the years. We chose to begin with 1992 for a number of reasons, firstly it’s one of the more controversial Bathurst in the race’s history, and with the re-introduction of turbochargers in 2018 (in the form of wildcard entries) creating a bit of talk currently, we thought it would be worth checking out the last time turbo’s hit the mountain.

For a bit of background in the 1992 event, Jim Richards and a young Mark Skaife had been campaigning the all-conquering Nissan GT-R throughout the 1991 and 1992 seasons with a championship a piece and Bathurst victory in 91 to boot. To say that the ‘Godzilla’ wasn’t universally loved would be an understatement. Ford and Holden fans were displeased with the GT-R’s perceive benefits, namely four-wheel drive and a power advantage.

Bathurst weekend arrived and to the joy of Ford fans, Dick Johnson was able to upstage the GT-R in the top 10 shootout, putting down an incredible time in his Ford Sierra RS500 with Skaife following almost 2 seconds behind. On race day, the track was hit with severe weather (eventually resulting in 16 DNF’s), with Richards’ and Skaife’s four wheel drive GT-R benefitting from the inclement conditions.

In the early stages of the race, tragedy struck. New Zealander Denny Hulme lost his life after suffering a heart attack mid-race. Hulme’s car came to a rest on Conrod straight under seemingly innocuous circumstances, before he was then transferred to Bathurst Hospital where he passed away.

Racing resumed after a prolonged safety car period and as conditions worsened the majority of the field pit for wet tyres, however, the Nissan stayed out on slicks ensuring they were able to stretch their lead to a seemingly insurmountable one-lap lead. More and more cars found themselves in the wall as conditions continued to deteriorate, and eventually the stewards were left no option other than to red-flag the race. In the meantime, as Richards continued making his way around the circuit he damaged the front left wheel of the GTR, before losing traction out of forest elbow and winding up off the circuit with a score of other mangled cars.

The stewards were left with the unenviable task of declaring a race winner, eventually deciding to score the race as finished on the previously completed 143rd lap, resulting in race victory to Richards and Skaife. The result didn’t sit well with Holden and Ford fans, who booed and jeered the two as they stood on the podium. Richards’ response will go down in racing folklore; “I thought Australian race fans had a lot more to go than this, this is bloody disgraceful. I’ll keep racing, but I’ll tell you what, this will remain with me for a long time. You’re a pack of arseholes.”

While certainly creating a stir at the time, in hindsight it’s just one of many incredible moments that shape the history of the incredible racing spectacle that takes place at Mt Panorama each year.

Stay tuned as we continue to talk Bathurst in the lead up to this year’s great race. What do you remember about the 1992 Bathurst 1000? Do you agree with the steward’s decision? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Summer Cruising – 5 Classic Convertibles

Whether it’s cruising through the countryside or through beachside tourist hotspots, there’s hardly a motoring experience that compares to driving a convertible on a beautiful summers day. In this week’s article we will take a look at five of our favourite drop top classics.

1958 Chevrolet Corvette

With most Corvette’s along the journey displaying a certain level of ‘cool’, it’s difficult to pick just one as our favourite. However, there’s just something about the ’58 Chevy Corvette that screams American Classic. With white wall tires, quad headlights, an abundance of chrome and the iconic ‘creases’ in the doors, the ’58 ‘Vette is remembered as one of Chevrolet’s most popular cars. 283 cubic inches of engine were bolted to a 4 speed manual transmission, resulted in an (at the time) impressive 290hp from the top of the line fuel injected model.

 

Shelby Cobra

The Shelby Cobra was the brainchild of Carol Shelby, who deemed it a great idea to place a Ford V8 engine in the tiny AC Ace roadster body. The original V8’s of choice were 260 and 289 cubic inch variants before making way for monster 427 and 428 cubic inch engines. Worldwide, the Cobra continues to prove popular among collectors although an original will set you back a pretty penny! More likely to be within reach of us mere mortals are the ‘continuation’ models that Shelby America still sells to this day or a replica kit car that is produced by several companies around the globe.

 

Ferrari 250GT SWB California

The Ferrari 250GT SWB California is not only one of the most beautiful cars ever built; unsurprisingly it’s also one of the most expensive to ever be sold at auction. Sold for an eye wateringly high sum of US$15.2 million 12 months ago, this 250GT is one of only 56 ever built. While 56 is an already low number, at the present time only around half of those are accounted for. So, if you have a spare US$15 million up your sleeve, now might be the time to make a play for the 250GT convertible you’ve always had your eye on.

 

First Generation Mazda MX-5 

Comfortably the most modern car on this list, the MX-5 is also the cheapest, and most likely the most fun to get behind the wheel of. The pint-sized Mazda doesn’t fit the typical sports car bill, opting in favour of a small sized 1.6 litre engine producing 85kw, Mazda instead turned its focus towards handling, utilising a further back than usual engine placement coupled with a shockingly low total weight of 980kg’s to bring the fun. The fourth generation MX-5 is now on showroom floors and after straying from the original brief for the second and third generations, all reports suggest the latest model is just as much a hoot to drive as the original!

Jaguar E-Type

Battling the above Ferrari for ‘most beautiful car ever built’ the E-Type roadster to this day is still immensely popular among collectors. With four wheel disc brakes coming standard and independent coil spring suspension, this Jag handled incredibly well for its day. Power was supplied by a 3.8 litre engine in series I models while later models were graced with the larger and more powerful 4.8 litre engine. While not in the same price range as the 250GT California; you’ll be hard pressed to find an E-Type convertible with much change to spare from a couple of hundred grand.

What is your all-time favourite convertible? Do you agree with the list we’ve compiled? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Five unusual HSV’s

Holden Special Vehicles has earned an iconic status in the Australian automotive landscape over the last 30 odd years and has manufactured some of the country’s most impressive and fastest sports cars. However, as with most manufactures, not every single model has been a hit with the public and some won’t go down in history as ‘special vehicles’. Time has not aged the below cars particularly well, but none the less in this article we will take a look at three HSV’s that were on the unusual side.

HSV SV1800 Astra

The Nissan Pulsar… ah Holden Astra, wait no the HSV SV1800 Astra will go down as one of the least inspiring and unsuccessful HSV’s to hit the showroom floor. Powering the SV1800 was the all-conquering 1.8 litre four Cylinder Holden Family II engine which produced a mind-warping 79kw and 151nm. HSV took the Pulsar, added HSV badges, a Walkinshaw-esque ‘wind tunnel designed’ body kits and a HSV build plate. Only 30 sedans and 35 hatchbacks were ever sold, with the remaining body kits winding up as a special option for the regular Holden Astra.

HSV Jackaroo

For the HSV Jackaroo, designers took the regular Holden Jackaroo added an uninspiring body kit, velour trim and badges… and that’s about it. Less than 100 of the off-roaders were built, so perhaps as with many other obscure, short-lived cars if you’re an owner you may be wondering if you’re sitting on a gold mine. Guess again. The HSV variant of the Jackaroo will likely net you somewhere in the region of $5-7K (very marginally more than the Holden variant). Off-roaders bemoan the lack of a V8 or a supercharger that would have undoubtedly ensured the Jackaroo lived up to the HSV reputation of being ‘special’.

 

HSV Challenger

Chances are that you’ve probably never heard of the VN Challenger, only the most diehard HSV fans will remember the 50 ‘dolled-up’ Executive Commodore’s that were put together for the Holden dealer group in Canberra. Features included body coloured wheel covers and bumper bars, pin stripes, a HSV grille taken from the SV3800 and Challenger decals and the only colour option was ‘Alpine White’. While the Challenger itself is not particularly unusual, in fact if anything it’s far too ‘usual’ to be considered a ‘special vehicle’, it’s the reason behind its production which is strange. In the early 90’s, HSV produced a number of short run models to coincide with motoring events and other reasons they saw fit, including the Challenger as well as the DMG90, SVT-30, 8-plus and Plus-6, none of which quite reached the lofty heights of many HSV’s that followed.

Have you owned any of the above HSV’s? Or maybe you have a story about one of the many other HSV’s that have hit showroom floors over the last three decades? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

Gone But Not Forgotten – Australian Tracks of Yesteryear

Australia plays host to a number of internationally renowned motorsports events each and every year with Philip Island, Mount Panorama and Albert Park the most notable circuits on the motorsports calendar. But what about the tracks of yesteryear, the tracks that once held events which spectators would flock to in droves? What happened to these tracks and what lays in their place now? We will look to answer a few of these questions in this week’s blog.

Oran Park

Oran Park closed down in 2010 to make way for a housing development after almost 50 years of racing. The course held a reputation within both the car and motorcycle world as a tight, fast and unforgiving circuit which punished even the slightest mistake. The last Supercar race took place at the venue in 2008, in what also served as Mark Skaife’s final full time race event, Rick Kelly went to win the final race of the weekend while Garth Tander took the round win. Unfortunately, as a result of the housing development there’s not really anything left of the track at Oran Park, with only the street names such as Moffat St, Seton St and Peter Brock Drive to represent the racing of yesteryear.

 

Surfers Paradise Raceway

Racing in Surfers Paradise began long before the days of champ cars, the Indy 300, A1 Grand Prix and Supercars as we know them today. Way back in 1966, Gold Coast Businessman Keith Williams (of Sea World fame) decided to build a co-existing race track and drag strip in Surfers Paradise. The popular track hosted weekly drags as well as the ATCC, Tasman Series and even the 1975 Australian Grand Prix with drivers such as Peter Brock, Dick Johnson, Allan Moffat and Bob Jane racing at the track regularly. As with Oran Park, Surfers Paradise Raceway was demolished to give way to the ever-expanding urban sprawl. Of course racing still continues in the form of Supercars on the iconic Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, so not all racing has been lost in the city.

 

Catalina Park  

Opening in 1960, ‘The Gully’ as it was commonly known was one of the nation’s more treacherous racing circuits including rock walls, cliffs and a narrow track right in the heart of the blue mountains. As a result of its mountainous location, fog issues ensured that many race days encountered scheduling issues. While racing stopped at the venue in 1970, the track was utilised for one lap dashes with single cars up until the 1990’s. In 2002 the site was declared an Aboriginal place.

Lobethal

Considered by some to be Australia’s Spa-Francorchamps, Lobethal was a fast, flowing street circuit in South Australia. The almost 14km course ran through the towns of Charleston and Lobethal, with scores of spectators basing themselves at the local pubs to watch the racing. The 1939 Australian Grand Prix was raced on the Lobethal circuit, with racers completing 17 laps in the scorching Australian summer – a number of cars were unable to complete the race. The final race meeting was held in 1948, before closed-street racing was banned altogether by the South Australian government.

Have you driven or raced around any of these circuits? Or do you have a favourite Australian circuit that’s no longer with us? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments section below.

Demolition Derby – Taking a look at the Winton TCM Crash

Back in May at the Winton SuperSprint, motorsport fans witnessed one of the bigger crashes in the history of the Touring Car Masters series. At Rare Spares, we love watching our favourite cars of yesteryear wind back the clock and hit the track in earnest. However, we can’t help but cringe a little when we see these beauties on the back of a truck being towed back to the pits in a crumpled mess! But, it is motorsport and we all know the risks when hitting the track, so in this article we’ll take a quick look at the incident, who was involved and what has gone into getting these masterpieces back on the track.

Qualifying at Winton couldn’t have gone much better for Jason Gomersall who was able to place his Big Mate A9X Torana on pole for race 2, declaring it his greatest achievement in motorsport. The team was understandably stoked with the achievement, beating out racing legend John Bowe by mere two-one hundredths of a second. Unfortunately for Gomersall, the weekend became unforgettable for all the wrong reasons less than 24 hours later. Gomersall was off to a cracking start to the race, clearing his competition and heading into turn 2 with the track to himself. From here it all went pear shaped though, losing the rear end of the beautiful Torana he span in front of the oncoming field. What came next can be best described as complete and utter chaos.

Gomersall span into the path of Eddie Abelnica and his XB Falcon before being collected by Mark King’s Camaro leaving both cars with very heavy front end damage. The ensuing pack had nowhere to go, with a number of cars finding each other or the surrounding walls. John Bowe was also caught up in the incident, resulting in a few broken ribs and a short stint in hospital. When all was said and done, seven cars were involved in the incident and the race was suspended.

With a short turnaround to the Darwin round, many teams faced an uphill battle to get their cars back in racing condition. Gomersall’s Torana sustained extensive damage to the front cross member, steering rack and radiator, however the engine was largely undamaged and the rest of the car from the firewall back was almost unscathed. Incredibly the A9X was back racing in Darwin finishing in P4 for the weekend. Mark King’s Camaro wasn’t quite as lucky, however it’s well on its way to hitting the track again. In the meantime King has been behind the wheel of an incredible looking 1972 GTS Monaro.

The TCM series continues in 2017 with rounds remaining at the marquee Supercar events held at Sandown, Bathurst and Newcastle, make sure you don’t miss any of the action! Do you own a TCM worthy classic car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.