Identity Crisis – Rebadged Cars

Rebadged or badge engineered cars have been common place on public roads for decades, with manufacturers and in some cases governments searching for ways to efficiently manage automotive production. In this article we take a look at four examples of rebadging that have been relevant to the Australian automotive landscape over recent years. VF Holden Commodore SS – Chevrolet SS Back in 2013 at Daytona Speedweek , a VF Commodore sporting Chevy badges was unveiled to the US public to a mostly positive reception. It’s wasn’t the first Commodore to be exported and rebadged oversees, however it will be the last. Since the late 90s, Commodores have been exported overseas in various guises. From the Chevrolet Lumina in the Middle East and South Africa, to the Omega in Brazil as well as Vauxhall and Pontiac variants in the UK and US respectively, the Commodore has been rebadged significantly over the years. The Chevrolet SS in question struggled sales-wise in the US, with the lack of a manual option drawing much criticism amongst the very automotive enthusiasts the car was intended to target. A shame really, that the Americans never truly had the chance to appreciate one of Australia’s most loved cars. Nissan The Ute – Ford Falcon XF The Ute was one of the simplest rebadge’s you are ever likely to see, with everything from the indicator stalk mounted horn to the grill and steering unmistakably Ford. Even under the Nissan logo on the front grill was a Ford oval shaped space. The Nissan Ute was sold as a result of the model sharing scheme known as the Button plan in the mid-late 80’s. The idea of the plan was to rationalise the Australian automotive industry by inducing car manufacturers into sharing the platforms of key cars. Toyota Lexcen – VN Holden Commodore Another rebadged model as a result of the Button plan was the Toyota Lexcen, which was named after Ben Lexcen, the designer of the American Cup winning ‘Australia II’ and its innovative keel design. Kind of ironic that a rebadged car, with little innovative design features, was named after a man who designed one of the most iconic innovations in Australian sporting history, isn’t it? Anyhow, the Lexcen was better received by the Australian public when compared to the Nissan/Ford of above and the Holden/Toyota model sharing scheme would last until 1997. Differences were mostly limited to the grill, badges and some minor interior changes.   Toyota 86 – Subaru BR-Z – Scion FR-S Sold in Australia as the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BR-Z, and in the US at one point as the Scion FR-S, this rear-wheel drive bundle of fun is one of the more popular modern day badge swaps. Featuring design work and product planning from Toyota and engineering and production from Subaru, the 86 was Toyotas attempt at re-entering the ‘drivers car’ market, whilst the BR-Z was Subaru’s attempt at creating a rear-wheel drive to complement its felt of all wheel drive options. With a four-cylinder engine that whilst zippy won’t set the world on fire, the ‘Toyobaru’ has become a favourite amongst sports car enthusiasts looking for a solid ‘bang for your buck’ option.   Do you own one of these rebadged cars? Or maybe you own another rebadged ‘classic’. Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below

Vacation Nation - Looking Back at the Humble Holden Vacationer

As Aussie as thongs, meat pies and kangaroo’s, the humble road trip is an Aussie institution. Most of us will remember those drives in the back of the car as the family headed North, South, East or West to that holiday home, camp site or Uncle’s place somewhere up the road. No doubt those fond memories were re-created with the next generation, this time with you in the front seats! With such a treasured pastime as the road trip, Holden were in tune with this fact, and playing to the feelings of freedom and good vibes of those holidays, launched specific ‘Vacationer’ models. This up-spec’d model would appeal to those looking at a special model that could make the long hauls across our vast nation somewhat more comfortable. In 1972 the Holden HQ Kingswood Vacationer model was released. And what a beauty she was. Premium additions like a luxury centre arm rest and door to door carpets, chrome wheel trims and a selection of two-tone colour options, joined the 202 engine and tri-matic automatic gearbox with disc brakes. The Vacationer model made appearances throughout the majority of the subsequent Holden line-up, culminating in the last appearance of the vacationer model in 1995 when Holden released the VS series. At the time of release, the VS Commodore Vacationer was $30,370 which in today’s money is $50,951. What did you get standard for your money when ordering a new Vacationer in 1995? Air conditioning, power door mirrors, remote (keyless) central locking, power steering, power windows all-round, plus the all-important cruise control to gobble up those highway miles. While we don’t think Holden will revive the Vacationer model any time soon, it was an interesting model that for many years was a reflection of the habits of a vacation nation! Were you one of the many children who spent countless hours’ road tripping in the back of a vacationer? Or maybe you still own a Vacationer? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below!

The Future is now – Holden’s Concept Cars

With Holden closing down its production in Australia in 2017, not only will remember classics such as the Torana and the Australian built Commodore, we will also miss the impressively forward thinking and sometimes crazy concept cars. Holden have been particularly active in designing concept cars throughout their history, with many capturing global attention and in some cases knocking on the door of production. In this article we take a look at four of our favourite Holden concept cars from the last 50 years. The EFIJY The ‘EFIJY’ was built by Holden in 2005 as a tribute to the iconic FJ and successfully mated the past, present and the future in to one timelessly impressive looking package. Although not technically built in the same vein as many concept cars, which often indicate technology and design of the future, the EFIJY was met with a similar reception. Designed and built afterhours as somewhat of a passion project, the car was built on a modified Corvette chassis and featured a thumping 6.0 litre V8 producing 480kw/ 775nm. The car was so well received it was even the recipient of the 2007 Concept Car of the Year award in Northern America, proving that the EFIJY’s timeless good looks appealed to a global audience. Despite high demand from millionaires such as sheiks and sporting stars, Holden made the decision to cap production at one, with the EFIJY currently residing at Holden’s headquarters in Port Melbourne.     The Hurricane Built in 1969, Holden’s ‘Hurricane’ was Australia’s first glimpse into what the future of motoring may look like. Featuring a rear-view camera, an early form of satnav, inertia reel seatbelts and one of the most interesting door opening mechanisms ever seen, the Hurricane was a long way ahead of its time. A mid mounted 193kw 4.2 litre V8 coupled with some very aggressive aerodynamics ensured the remarkable concept car was also quite zippy for the time. In 2011, a refurbished Hurricane was unveiled at Melbourne’s Motorclassica event after 6 years’ worth of repairs had been undertaken to restore the Hurricane to its former glory.     Torana GTR-X This featherweight Torana concept was born in the 1970’s with serious intentions of eventually going into production. Featuring the 186 from the XU1 driving power through a 4 speed manual transmission, this 1043kg prototype reached a top speed of over 200km/h during early testing. The car also featured pop up headlights, four wheel disc brakes taking many design cues from the Lotus Esprit of the day. The GTR-X featured in promotional footage and brochures, confirming Holden’s interests of production. However, it wasn’t to be as higher ups decided that the GTR-X was best left in concept form, leaving many a Holden fan to wonder what could have been!     Coupe 60 When the Holden Coupe 60 was unveiled in 2008 at the Melbourne International Motor Show questions were quickly asked as to whether or not it may herald a new era of Monaro’s on Australian roads. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Holden ensured fans the Coupe 60 was nothing more than a concept. Featuring a b-pillar less design, massive 21-inch centrelock wheels and an E-85 friendly 6.0 litre LS2 V8, the Coupe 60 was the stuff of Holden fans dreams. Showing that the concept car wouldn’t have been too far out of place on the race track, the vehicle featured a rear diffuser, front splitter and a carbon fibre spoiler. The Coupe 60 was received so well at the initial unveiling that other manufacturers even halted their own planned vehicle announcements in fear of being overshadowed. What has been your favourite Holden concept car? Head over to Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.