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 These outdated and underpowered cars were no match for Datsun’s comparatively modern 240z.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.

The Lost Playgrounds – Revisiting Forgotten Race Tracks

The world of motorsport is the driving force behind many of our automotive passions, from Brocky conquering the mountain to drivers trying to be the fastest down the strip, the automotive landscape we know and love was built on the many scenes that exist within it. Unfortunately as time moves on and budgets deplete, these once famed automotive playgrounds turn to nothing more than bare concrete overrun by the earth underneath claiming back its territory. Here we will take a look at some of the forgotten racetracks that time has forgotten. 

Catalina Park – Australia (pictured above)

Starting on home turf, “The Gully” was a 2.1 km circuit which opened on February 12 in 1961 and was originally the home of top level motorsport during the 1960s. The mountainous location featured amazing scenery however it was prone to fog which regularly caused delays to races. The track was incredibly narrow by today’s standards and was surrounded by walls, railings and hillside. The tracks use decreased with the opening of other circuits closer to Sydney such as Oran Park and Amaroo Park and closed at the start of the 2000.  

Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track – Japan (pictured above)

Once upon a time this was Japans most famed tracks. Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track was built in the 1960’s to serve as Japans first official Formula 1 Grand Prix track, however it didn't take long before it began changing hands rapidly. First it was designated as a NASCAR track, and then it sold to Mitsubishi and later become Toyota’s property. With its high speed banked corners, Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track was abandoned after it was decided to be too dangerous for modern motorsport.

 

Valencia GP Circuit - Spain (pictured above)

Although this marvellous track may be one of the most recently built, it has still suffered a similar fate to those before it, with financial misfortune the cause of its demise The Valencia GP track was built in 2007 and was used as an official F1 GP track but failure to negotiate a deal with the F1, the owners soon abandoned the track in 2015.

When it comes to places to test your machine, there are plenty of well-known and exciting locations. However we feel that some of the super circuits, if only given a chance, could come back more exciting than when they left. 

What is your favourite racing track? Which ones do you have the fondest memories of? Make sure to head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page to let us know! 

Rent-A-Racer - The Ford Shelby GT-350H Mustang

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drive an iconic American muscle car? Back in May 1966, Hertz New York took that same wondrous thought and made it a reality with the “Rent-A-Racer” program. This genius idea gave every day people the ability to rent a street legal track spec Shelby GT-350 for only $17 per day ($70 per week) plus an additional 0.17c per mile.

Apart from the colour scheme, the 1966 Ford Shelby GT-350 was mechanically no different from the Ford Shelby GT-350H with the H simply stating for “Hertz”. The Hertz version was released in the incredibly popular gold stripes on black paintwork compared to the standard Shelby with white with blue stripes plus a few other optional variations. The 1966 Shelby delivered 306hp under foot (a 35hp increase from standard high performance mustangs with 271hp) plus a few other go fast bits such as high rise manifold, a big four barrel carby, 11 inch Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes to help pull up the extra horsepower, wider tyres to aid the muscle car physique, front sway bar for stiffness and a full set of Koni’s at all four corners.

50 years on Hertz is once again offering the performance thoroughbred to the world. This year the iconic Ford Shelby GT Mustang has been released with the “H” attached to selected Hertz outlets. So if you’re flying around America, you are able to enquire about the Hertz Adrenaline Collection of cars and you will soon have the option to rent a 2016 Ford Shelby GT-H Mustang. Although the $17 per day price point may have taken a slight increase, the newer edition has some major increases to merit the cost, improvements in drivability, aesthetics and power will be the main updates for the new halo car.

There were 1000 Mustangs produced for Hertz in 1966, while it’s unsure at this point how many are to be produced for the 2016 release, it’s sure to be limited, so early bookings will no doubt be a necessity if you want the chance to realise your dream of driving one of the most iconic & prestigious American muscle cars ever to grace the black top.

What did you think of the Rent-a-Racer idea? Did the car look the part or fail to impress? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Rare Spares Launch New Television Commercials

Rare Spares have launched two new television commercials which will be aired on 7Mate throughout the remainder of the year, so keep an eye out!

The commercials are designed to relate to car enthusiasts and feature old, rusty vehicles being restored back to new from tail to bonnet, with a voice over communicating Rare Spares key messages around their new slogan ‘more than just a part in your project’.

Officially endorsed by Holden and Ford, Rare Spares have two partner programs, ‘Holden Restoration Parts’ and ‘Ford Restoration Parts’. These logos feature prominently in the advertisements, which use a classic Holden and Ford as restoration projects.

The first features an old Holden Monaro being restored to new – Click below To View

http://rarespares.net.au/news/tvcholden.aspx

The second features an old XA Ford Coupe being restored to its former glory – Click below to View 

http://rarespares.net.au/news/tvcford.aspx

 

RARE SPARES….. More than just a part in you project.