American Hero – Top American Import

When it comes to American muscle cars it’s hard to look past the iconic Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Although there are a number of other stateside classics that will go down in history as American greats, it’s the Mustang and Camaro which typify what the scene is all about. In this article we’ll take a look at the two US classics, what made them special and how they were received in Australia.

In 1961, Lee Iococca, the Vice President and General Manager of Ford had a vision. This vision was to build a car that could seat 4 adults, have bucket seats, a floor mounted shifter, weigh no more than 2500 pounds, be no longer than 180 inches long and sell for less than $2500. After a few years and a couple of interesting looking prototypes, from this vision the Ford Mustang was born, with the first car rolling off the production line in March 1964.

In Australia, the Mustang has gone through periods of great popularity mixed with periods of little interest, mostly as a result of the cost of importing and RHD conversion proving to be a bridge too far for local consumers. However, early Mustangs were a hit from the get go, with up to 200 first generation Mustang’s being imported by Ford Australia in 1965, converted to RHD at their Geelong plant and sold to the public for around $6000. The timeless design was received well by enthusiasts in Australia. Throughout the last 50 years, early year Mustangs have remained a desirable car for Aussie enthusiasts which are reflected in modern day re-sale values.
Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention the current 6th generation Mustang which has proved to be a hit on our shores. The rear-wheel drive 5.0 litre V8 producing 306kw/530Nm is somewhat filling the void that has been left by the departure of the Falcon, providing the public with a high powered substitute for the XR8, albeit in coupe form.


On the General Motors front, the main competition to the Mustang over the years has been that provided by the Camaro. The Camaro was born in September 1966 as an answer to the booming popularity of the Mustang. Featuring a long hood, short deck, seating for four and a unitized body construction with a separate front sub frame, the Camaro came with engine options ranging from a 230ci straight six to a 427ci V8.


The Camaro was received well in Australia in the beginning, and was successful in Australian motorsports, further thrusting the classic car into stardom. Bob Jane would win both the 1971 and 1972 ATCC at the wheel of a Camaro ZL-1. Much like the Mustang, the Camaro went through a period in which they were less desirable to the Australian public which, unlike the Mustang, has not really recovered in the form of Camaro Australian sales. Unfortunately for Australian motoring enthusiasts, in its current 6th generation guise, there are no formal plans for the Camaro to reach Australian dealership floors.


Which generation Mustang’s and Camaro’s are your favourite. Would you like to see the latest Camaro on Australian showroom floors? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

Falcon Favourite - John Bowes Favourite Falcon Racer

When it comes to motorsport icons, it’s hard to look past John Bowe. With a successful career that spans over four decades and the only driver in Australian motorsport history to win an incredible six National Championships in four categories, JB has forged his own path and his own legacy. Although Bowe is known to steer anything with four wheels, he has been affiliated with the blue oval for some time and here we will take a look at the man’s favourite Falcon as Australia bids farewell to the iconic model.

It’s no secret that JB has been behind the wheel of many memorable Fords over the years. Who can forget the incredible Shell Sierra RS500 or the iconic AU and BA Falcons, the aussie hero has even been known to pilot classic frames such as a vintage mustang in the TCM Series. With so many amazing cars, you’d be surprised to know which one stole JB’s heart, the EBII that he drove to victory at Bathurst in 1994. Holding off five pursuing Holden’s late in the race, JB and Dick Johnson thrilled onlookers to take the win in one of the most intense Bathurst 1000’s ever, a moment that is still etched in every motorsport fans memory.

At the end of 1994 the car was converted to EF specifications with a different roof, front guards and boot among other things being added. Soon after, the vehicle claimed another win in the 1995 V8 Supercar Championship. It’s no surprise that JB’s favourite Falcon racer is the one he has had such a positive success from. The car itself was originally built by Jimmy Stone at DJR, with every part meticulously planned to extract maximum performance and drivability.

Although there was somewhat of a raining success, the Falcon faced tragedy when it was involved in a crash in 1996 at Phillip Island Circuit, bouncing around on its tail, roof, nose and finally into the wall at the Hayshed after a collision with Craig Lowndes. With the crash taking place at 235km/h Bowe was lucky to walk away, however the iconic Falcon met its maker in race car heaven.

With so many stories to tell, both on the track and off, it is sad to say farewell to one of the blue ovals most beloved offerings. However with such a great community and availability of spare parts, we know that the falcon will live on for many years to come.

What is your favourite Falcon? Make sure to head over the comments section of the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments.

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!

Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport

27. March 2015 14:06 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

The Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport is the largest historic automotive meeting of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and provided a thrilling weekend of sights and sounds for entrants and enthusiasts alike. 

The annual event took place March 5-8 at its home, the iconic  Phillip Island circuit, about 90 minutes south of Melbourne and was the 26th instalment of the now famous festival.

Every year the event attracts many of the most awe-inspiring, collectable and historic cars from around the world and in 2015, over 500 entries were received for the three day festival, including 17 cars and drivers from overseas.

Crowds were slightly down on last year, due to the wet conditions on Friday and cold temperatures on Saturday, however that didn’t affect the quality of the weekend.

Over the three days, 49 races were scheduled to cater to the various categories and classes of vehicles present, including open wheelers, sports and touring cars.

“Overall everyone enjoyed the weekend, despite some trying conditions on the Friday with some harsh weather and rain. Driver behaviour was fantastic and very few incidents on track,” said event organiser Ian Tate. 

“One of the special cars attending was a 1936 ERA, built in England. The car won the 1938 Australian GP with Peter Whitehead.”

The fiftieth anniversary of the Ford Mustang also coincided with event, providing the opportunity for celebrations around the milestone, which included Allan Moffat’s game changing Coca-Cola Mustang Trans-Am, a huge turnout of Mustangs and celebrity drivers.  There was also a Mustang Parade on Saturday and Sunday.

Brian Thomson was the patron of the meeting this year.

“We also want to thank Rare Spares for their support they provided to the event, it was appreciated.” 

Rare Spares is a proud supporter of the event, and had a marquee with staff on hand to field enquiries from enthusiasts about parts throughout the weekend.

Rare Spares also ran a $200 voucher promotion and hundreds of attendees entered for the chance to win. 

For more information on upcoming Rare Spares supported events head to www.rarespres.net.au 

 

 

 

The Love of a Mustang

25. November 2014 12:27 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

The Ford Mustang is arguably one of the world’s most iconic cars and by the end of 2015, the  Mustang will be once again heading for Australian shores.

With the ending of the locally produced Falcon and the associated performance models of FPV, Ford will be missing a performance model to sell to Australian consumers and the Ford faithful.  This is where the famous Mustang re-enters the equation and will resume a love affair that has existed in Australia for 50 years.

The Mustang was debuted at the New York motor show in 1964 and was an instant success, selling one million examples in the first eighteen months of production.

With the swell in popularity from around the world, Australia got its first taste of RHD converted models of the Mustang in the late 1960’s.

Steve McQueen solidified the cool factor of the Mustang ‘brand’ around the world with the extensive use of a 1968 Mustang in the movie Bullitt as Steve belted his machine through the streets of San Francisco.

After this time, most of the Mustangs seen in Australia were being imported privately in LHD specification.

Between 2001 and 2003 Ford Australia did convert a small group of Mustangs to compete with Holden’s then new Monaro, however an expensive price tag of $90,000 resulted in less than 400 models being sold.

The sixth and latest generation of the Ford Mustang will be a truly global player and is a huge update for the iconic machine, with design cues taken from the beautiful lines of the 1968 version, as shown below in Bullitt.  

The Mustang will be officially built in Right Hand Drive and for the first time will change from a solid rear axle to Independent Rear Suspension or (IRS).

Australia will be receiving the V8 model naturally with the same engine as FPV’s GT engine sans supercharging and a solid 324kw’s. Purists may scoff at the fact the new Mustang will also be available in a four cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged engine, however with a handy 231kw’s, 433nm of torque and some positive fuel economy numbers, it may prove to be a popular choice.

It remains to be seen how successful the new Mustang will be, but early indications seem to support a successful introduction of the new model.

Ford has reported more than 13,000 enquiries about the new Mustang and with Ford dealers indicating pricing in the range of $50- 70k depending on model and spec, the price point is much more palatable than the previous batch sold by Ford in the early 2000’s.

Finally, despite many new features, the one that stands out is the ‘Burnout’ button. It essentially is an electronic line lock that initiates the front brakes, and releases the rear brakes, so if you are heading to the drag strip and want to warm your tyres, you are all set!