Rare Spares Holden Torana GTR-X Concept Car

Holden has a very strong history when it comes to designing and engineering concept cars. Of recent years there’s the immaculate Efijy, and the reborn Monaro. Both two door cars, interestingly enough, as two other concept cars were also two doors. There’s the Hurricane, and the Torana GTR-X.

The latter came oh so close to being put into production, and the chassis itself was based on the LC Torana XU-1. The low slung, fibreglass bodied, slinky looking, machine even had the same engine, the then potent 186S.

Exterior design was eye catching, with a long bonnet that started with a flat, shovel-like nose, pop up headlights, a steeply raked windscreen, and a sharp tail with hockey stick tail lights. These were design elements that were later seen in two of Italy’s best from Ferrari and Maserati.

Inside the cabin featured laid back bucket seats, milled aluminuim sheeting, a plethora of gauges for oil temp and pressure and the like, and a short throw gear selector for the four speed manual.

That was connected to the straight six which produced 119kW and 265Nm. They’re hardly groundbreaking numbers now but for a car built in 1970 that weighed under 1050kg, they provided more than enough punch. Unique at the time were the disc brakes to be found at each corner.

It’s unclear exactly how many versions were built; some say three, some say four, but it’s known that just one example of what could have been an inspirational car survives. Holden has a museum at its Melbourne based headquarters, where the sole survivor lives in cosseted luxury.

Why wasn’t it ever sold? The population of Australia in 1970 was just over twelve million and Holden’s numbers indicated that wasn’t enough to justify what would potentially be a low volume seller. Considering how well received the Datsun 240Z was when it was released just a year before, and how it’s perceived still after nearly fifty years, one could say this was a somewhat shortsighted view.

Have you seen the Holden Torana GTR-X? What do you think of the 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.

When scrap comes back – The revival of the Datsun 240k

When it comes to cars that flew under the radar, it is hard to think that the humble Datsun 240k would ever become a collector’s item, but like many unique cars of the era, they are growing in appeal and value.

The 240k was released in the early 70’s from the growing Japanese Datsun brand and debuted into a market filled with HQ Holden’s, VH Valiant’s and XA Falcon’s. The vehicle was not always considered the best in terms of looks quickly labelled as unattractive by the media, slotting somewhere above the questionable 120Y’s and behind the sleek 240z. The car featured a straight six L24 engine and cost around $5000 at the time, however it was a big call to spend that amount of money on a car that was considered by many to be inferior to its home grown counterparts.  

Coming in both sedan and coupe variants, the car sold well, although with no performance orientated model, the car never garnered the curb side appeal of a GT Falcon or Holden Monaro. It was seen as nothing more than a little Japanese run around and this image of the car and moving times saw them move into a class that could be considered undesirable.

With the boom in technology and performance experienced in the 90’s, the little Datsun had lost much of its unique appeal. The price of scrap metal was soaring, leading many of these unloved cars to be traded in for nothing more than a quick buck, with the rest of the remaining cars living out their days rusting away in the back of paddocks and properties across Australia.

It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that demand soon began to outweigh supply. With numbers significantly diminished, the existing examples soon began to catch the eye of enthusiasts whose parents had owned the car or those who had their own experiences with the old Datsun. The once quirky Japanese vehicle had fast become a desirable classic and it didn’t take long before barely salvageable rusted cars were being snatched up from paddocks and sheds across the country.

From a car that was once considered worthless to one that is now fetching prices similar to that of cult Aussie classics, it goes to show that it can be hard to predict which car is destined to garner such a passionate following. The 240k has gained more and more respect over time and with its love it or hate it styling the car is always one to stir the pot, but we tip our hat to the humble Datto for adding another piece to our exciting and diverse automotive history.

Do you have one of these classics hiding in your shed? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the 240k? Head over the comments section of the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!