Driving for a Cause – Classics cars at the Variety Bash

The Variety Bash was founded in 1985 by none other than Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, after he invited a few mates to make the trip from Bourke in far western New South Wales all the way up to Bourketown in northern Queensland. Along the way teams would recreate the Redex Car Trials of the 1950’s whilst raising money for the Variety Club of New South Wales, a charity which to this day still raises money for children with special needs. There were a few rules for participants; all cars had to have been manufactured pre-June 1966, have no performance modifications and meet a number of safety considerations such as carrying a certain amount of water, oil and be prepared for the harshest of Australian conditions. Other ‘rules’ were fines for things such as not having enough fun, cheating (or not cheating enough!), going too fast or not fast enough and taking the event too seriously. At the end of the day, the event isn’t a race; it is an enjoyable fundraising event to help those in need!

Dick Smith’s car for the first event was a 1964 EH Holden, which he went on to use in all Variety Bash’s up until 2001, throughout which time he raised upwards of $2 million. The old Holden has had almost all of its parts replaced at one time or another, with the exception of the driver’s side door which remains original! The car now resides in the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in Sydney after a broken front chassis rail brought an ending to its bashing career.

A tradition that has stuck since the events early days is that of weird and wacky car designs and competitor costumes. From a Mad Max V8 Interceptor replica to Hippy Vans and even Limousines, the Variety Bash has seen it all throughout the years! A quick look through the Variety Bash’s cars for sale section of their website gives you an idea of the sort of vehicle required for such a journey. Highlights include a 1976 Cadillac Grandeur Opera Coupe, a 1991 Ford F150 Ambulance, a tiger striped Mercedes Benz 450SEL and a 1984 Rover SD1 V8. None of which would generally sound suited to a cross country road trip, although fit the theme that’s made the Variety Bash a truly iconic Aussie event.

Whilst the event was originally founded in New South Wales, Bash’s now take place around all states and territories of Australia, each with their own unique travel itinerary. To get involved, head over to the Variety website and start your fundraising!

Have you ever participated in the Variety Bash? Or are you in the process of putting together a car for the 2017 event? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us all about it!

When Plastic Becomes Classic – The New Historics

If you are anything like us, in the last couple of years you may have found yourself with a confused look on your face as you sit at the traffic lights or cruise down the highway on the weekend. 

 

In front of you is a car on Historic or Club plates that is absolutely not historic from your perspective!

Of course Historic and Classic are different things to different people and even definitions vary, but we would be safe to assume that most people view an XYGT Falcon, an original Mini Cooper, a Datsun 1600, a ’57 Chevy and a A9X Torana as classics, whereas Historic vehicles tend be 1940’s and earlier in our book.

As time marches on though, so does the rolling Historic/Classic/Club registration systems that have been adopted across the country. Most Australian States and Territories employ rolling 30 year Historic/Classic permit schemes, whereas Victoria and WA have a rolling 25 year cut off for Historic vehicles. SA has adopted an alternative philosophy, with a fixed date for cars needing to be built before 1/1/1979 to be eligible.

For the most part, these schemes rely on a club’s helping to administer the approvals and there are generally some additional requirements and technicalities across the states, however we would have to write a thesis to explain all the ins and outs for each state. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have some Australia wide regulations on these types of schemes! It may be a pipe dream, but we can always hope.            

It’s important to note that as we write this article, if we wind back time 30 years, it would be March in 1987. Even scarier however for the status of ‘Historics’ is that WA and Victoria are now accepting vehicles older than March 1992! As 1992 represents the newer wave of what is eligible in these states, we will focus on this year for the sake of simplicity; and for other states, take it as a sign of things to come.

As we scan our way across models released in 1992, a picture starts to emerge of the reality we are starting to see appear on our roads.

So what cars were built in 1992?

Starting locally, the Holden VP Commodore was well into production and everything from a Berlina to a rare VP HSV Maloo Ute could receive the historic treatment.

Over in the blue oval corner, Ford had just released the EBII Falcon GLi and in fact next month is 25 years since the EBII XR8 hit the showrooms.

The records show that after the Falcon and Commodore, the remainder of the Top Ten cars sold in Australia in 1992 are the Mitsubishi Magna, Toyota Camry and Corolla, Ford Laser, Toyota Landcruiser, Nissan Pulsar, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Lancer and the Holden Rodeo. Perhaps not all of these cars will meet criteria or will be approved, but from what we can see generally could be considered under the schemes in Vic and WA.

If money was no object, why not register a 1992 McLaren F1 road car?

Another shock has been was seeing imported JDM vehicles such as the Nissan Silvia and Skyline’s already running around on Club/Historic plates.

 

Hyundai X2 Excel anybody? Didn’t think so, but if you were keen the option is there!

The rest of Australia may be eyeing off 30 year old vehicles still, but if Victoria and WA’s schemes are anything to go by, we will be quickly shifting our definition of Classic and Historic, at least as it applies to registration.

So the next time you double take on a car that is very un-historic, consider the future. There will come a time when that VF commodore wagon in the garage might be ready……..scary thought!

Are you currently running a car on Historic/Club/Classic registrations schemes or eyeing off a model that is about to become eligible? We’d love to hear your stories and experiences in this area from around Australia.

When Records are Smashed, Australia’s Most Expensive Torana

The year is 1977, the first Star Wars movie, ‘A New Hope’ had just hit the screens, and a trip down to the local Holden Dealership for a shiny new Torana SS A9X would set you back $10,800. Fast forward 40 years and a savvy car enthusiast just hit the jackpot, selling his iconic Aussie hatch in original paint with only 120,000k’s on the clock for a cool $260,000.

In front of a record crowd of classic car enthusiasts at Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers auction on the Gold Coast in January, bidding was short and sweet, an un-named online bidder was victorious less than 5 minutes after the car was rolled into the auction house, purchasing the car and able to bask in rare Holden glory.

So what makes this Torana so special, you may be asking? The A9X was an option available for the SL/R 5000 sedan and SS hatchback LX. Only 405 were produced for sale, 305 four-door and only 100 two-door hatches between August and December 1977.

The idea behind the A9X Torana was to homologate the model for racing in the Australian Touring Car Championship, where Holden was in need of a car that could keep them at the top of the podium. And successful they were; the A9X dominated the ATCC from the get-go with wins throughout the tail-end of the 1977 season, and a complete domination of both the 1978 and 1979 series. Not to mention huge wins in the 1978 and 1979 Hardie-Ferodo 1000, including a mammoth 6-lap win by Peter Brock and Jim Richards in ’79 capped off with a then lap record on the final lap of the race.

Features such as a 10-bolt Salisbury diff, rear disc brakes, the option of a Borg Warner Super T10 four-speed transmission and approximately 100 other differences to the regular LX Torana ensured the A9X was special enough to justify its racing pedigree.

Handling was significantly improved with a steering rack mounted solidly to the front crossmember and radial tuned suspension. A9X’s were clearly identified by their rear facing, bonnet-mounting carburetor induction scoop.

The A9X has gone down in history as one of Australia’s greatest muscle cars, and with scarce few produced, it’s fantastic to see an example in such pristine condition go to a new home!

Have you ever owned an A9X Torana? Or perhaps you’ve owned a different Australian Classic that’s appreciated in value over the years? Head on over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comment section below!

Rare Spares Feature Car Story: Jarcon Moore’s 1975 HJ Panel Van

Rare Spares have been a supporter of the classic car modification and restoration scene for over four decades and are proud to witness the sheer number of enthusiasts who share in our passion. Rare Spares’ recent 40 Year Daily Driver Facebook Promotion has proven the place that classic cars still have on our roads. We recently spoke to promotion winner Jarcon Moore, who gave us the rundown on his beloved 1975 HJ Holden Panel Van.

When the Western Australian spotted a pale blue HJ Panel Van on the road on his way to TAFE a year and a half ago, it was love at first sight. A long-time lover of Holden’s and Panel Vans, Jarcon approached the owner, successfully negotiated a deal to take the popular Australian classic off his hands and has been using it as his daily driver since ever since.

 

I’m the third owner of the car; the second owner had it for 38 years. It was originally purchased by a demolition company from Melville Motors and was white in colour, before being repainted the pale blue it is today”, Jarcon says.

 

Commenting on the positives and negatives of using a 42 year old car as his daily driver, Jarcon notes the lack of air-conditioning and power steering. However, these things don’t really worry him and he’s quick to point out the Panel Vans ability when helping any family and friends who need to move things and the ease of general maintenance. Jarcon hasn’t encountered too many issues with the HJ and mentioned his favourite moment with the car was when he got his P’s and was finally able to drive it on his own.

 

“I don’t really have to worry a lot about the car, just some general maintenance here and there. I haven't had many issues as of yet other than a lot of rust, and on one day it decided to shut down twice, I’m still not sure of the cause.”

 

Jarcon hasn’t made any modifications other than converting it back to a column shift, and as far as what the future holds for the 42 year old HJ?

 

“I plan to restore it, put in a 308 as well as a four speed transmission and possibly turn it into  a Sandman look-a-like”.

 

As a reward for winning the Rare Spares 40 Year Daily Driver Facebook Promotion, Jarcon has earnt himself a $500 Rare Spares Voucher and a signed Rare Spares cap. We look forward to hearing how Jarcon’s restoration goes!

 

Do you still use a classic car as your daily driver? Or maybe you have a 1970’s Holden parked in your garage? Head on 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.