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 These outdated and underpowered cars were no match for Datsun’s comparatively modern 240z.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

Seeing Stars – Superstars and their Cars

When it comes to the automotive bug, it seems that no one is immune. Although our cars can all vary by value, we all have one thing in common, a passion for machinery on four wheels. Whether it’s the way they drive, the nostalgia or even pure style of a ride, we all have a soft spot for mankind’s arguably greatest invention. Here we will take a look at a few of the entertainment industries most notable characters and the breath taking fleet of cars that they have in their arsenal. It’s probably best to start this list with the one person we would probably all put our hands up to trade places with. He may not be known for his outgoing dress style, but this American talk show host’s car collection is something of a childhood fantasy. Jay Leno possesses more supercars than most museums, holding some incredibly rare (and expensive) pieces in his collection such as the 1994 McLaren F1, 1969 Lamborghini Miura S and even the timeless 1955 Mercedes 300SL. Not a supercar snob by any means, Leno also a 1970 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and a 1963 Corvette Stingray hiding around in his 130 car warehouse! He may have single handily ruined top gear and take the award for the most annoying bloke on the planet, but UK car fanatic Chris Evans has a few rides that easily makes him the envy of many car nuts across the world. His collection over the years has included a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder which was previously owned by Steve McQueen, the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, a 1972 VW Beetle and even a Porsche 944 Cabriolet, talk about a varied taste. Jerry Seinfeld has been a comedy mastermind for many years but most car lovers know him for something else. Seinfeld’s collection is known to almost rival that of Leno’s and with more than 60 cars under his wing, he is always on the lookout for the next thing to catch his eye. When looking at his collection, you can see that each car has been personally selected out of pure passion and the man clearly has an undeniable draw to Porsches. His fleet includes a 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR and an incredible 1990 Porsche 962C. He even has the first air-cooled Porsche 911, which he still considers his favorite.   Bringing it back to home shores who could not include Eric Bana. The Aussie acting legends roots had been clearly grown from the blue oval, with his first car, a 1973 Ford Falcon XB Coupe, featured in his stand out films for car lovers, Love the Beast. Add to that the fact that Bana races in the Targa Tasmania and it’s clear that this actor has earned the title of celebrity gearhead. With such a broad automotive spectrum, sometimes we can feel pretty envious of people who have mass collections of dream cars. However, we think as long as you have something you can call your pride and joy sitting in your driveway, then you are just as lucky. Who would you like to swap spots with for a day? What would you have in your dream collection? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below!

2016 Motorsport Season Wrap Up

When it comes to the automotive world, it definitely goes without saying that we at Rare Spares are suckers for Motorsport. Whether it be the iconic Supercars (formally V8 Supercars) or the Touring Car Masters, we can’t get enough of fast and furious four wheeled action. Here we will take a look back at some of the series my exciting moments and how they finished up. Last year the Supercar series went through, some big changes, one of which was dropping the V8 name from the series to make way for turbo charged vehicles. However, the year was not without incident. Who could forgot the Red Bull poster boys Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen fighting at the front throughout the season, until the second last round in New Zealand where one punted the other, sending Van Gisbergen sliding off the road. This Supercars season also saw the first full-time female racer in decades enter the series. Simona De Silvestro was a former Indy Car racer and with her impressive wild card entry in the 2015 Bathurst, she was locked into a three year deal in the Australian category. Some other big moments saw HRT move to Triple Eight with Holden choosing the team over Walkinshaw Racing, ahead of the development of their new 2nd generation Supercar. The biggest story would have to go to the events that took place at the Bathurst 1000. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were named the Bathurst champions after a dramatic end to the race in October. Whincup was stripped of his first place result due to a 15 second time penalty that was applied post-race. The series ended up being taken out by Van Gisbergen after an extraordinary display of skill and ability throughout the year. The Touring Car Masters also provided nothing short of a thrilling series once again, with high horse power and classic metal never failing to impress. One of the most memorable moments would go to the man Glenn Seton taking out the title for the first Trans-Tasman challenge. The Touring Car Masters and Central Muscle Cars went head to head at Mount Panorama for an incredibly exciting race which saw the Thunder Road Racing Team Australia driver claim his third TCM race win at Bathurst and fourth of the season. The series also provided some valiant efforts with Eddie Abelnica ending a 64 race streak without a Touring Car Masters race victory, thanks to a brilliant performance at the stunning Phillip Island GP Circuit. Abelnica powered his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon hardtop to the win from fourth on the grid, passing Glenn Seton, Jason Gomersall and John Bowe in an outstanding display of steering. The Touring Car Master season title went to none other than Rare Spares ambassador, John Bowe, after he recorded his eighth race win of the year with an 80 point lead ahead of second place winner, Eddie Abelnica. With such an exciting season of Motorsport behind us, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate automotive scene and with 2017 in full swing, we cannot wait to see what this year will bring!

Summer Loving - Australia’s best driving roads (Continued)

Australia isn't called the lucky country for nothing, we have great weather (in some places), a thriving automotive culture and world class scenery at our doorstep. So when it comes to the great Aussie road trip, we really are spoilt for choice. Here we will continue our list of amazing drives, just in time for summer.   The Nullarbor Plain -Western Australia (pictured above) If you have a few days to spare then we suggest heading off from Ceduna in SA and head west for 2000km to Perth through the wide, almost treeless, landscape of the Nullarbor. It may be dry and known as a harsh environment, but it’s surely no desert. The flowing wooded hills flatten out to plateaus that are sprinkled with bluebush. Kangaroos line the roads and giant wedge-tailed eagles patrol the skies. You’ll probably need a four-wheel-drive if you plan to leave the highway, but otherwise it’s easy driving with plenty to take in.  Kuranda - Queensland (pictured above) If you take off from the tropical beaches of Cairns, it won't take long before you are experiencing the incredible World Heritage listed rainforest air around the mountain retreat of Kuranda. We suggest keeping your windows down along the route to truly take in the humming of thousands of cicadas from among huge buttress trees as  well as the sounds of the birds that call the rainforest home.  Uluru to Kings Canyon - Northern Territory (pictured above) This three hour drive along the Lasseter Highway from the red rock to Kings Canyon will provide you with true blue red earth country and skies bigger than you could ever imagine. You can also take the trip starting off at Alice Springs and take on the Red Centre Way. You’ll need about five days, with stops at historic towns and ancient rock art sites, not to mention the odd wild camel, this is one special journey. Sydney to Melbourne Most of the time this trip is made by budget airline, but did you know that choosing the four wheeled option can be a lot more fun? Expect a string of quant coastal towns, wild camping spots, vast national parks and turquoise lagoons. The lovely scenery is complimented by plenty of beaut fishing spots, birdlife galore and many kangaroos who regularly pose for photographs beside the surf at Pebbly Beach. With all these great spots to check out, we say fill up the tank, throw in your swag and get to adventuring! What's your favourite drive? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments! 

House on the Hill – Checking out Mt Panorama’s Most Exclusive Property

Mount Panorama is one of the most well-known names in the world of Aussie motorsport, from Brocky to Bowe; the circuit has played host to some of the most breathtaking races we have ever seen. With the famous track also doubling as a public road for the majority of the year, there are a few residents who have the privilege of calling it home. However, with arguably the coolest property at Mt Panorama now on the market, you could join this exclusive club. 505 Conrod Straight is a quant 10 acre property that is situated right on Conrod Straight. The motorsport dream house is located at the rise of the first crest heading towards The Chase, making it ideal for viewing the fastest piece of bitumen in  the country. As you’d expect, property on Mount Panorama doesn’t become available very often so you will want to get in quick if you want to snap up a piece of automotive nirvana. Back in 2002 the circuit oasis, equipped with guest house, large garage and a pool, sold for $255,000. Now estimates are putting it closer to $2,700,000, so you better have some deep pockets if you plan on taking name to possibly the most unique address in Australia.  Although many motorsport fanatics would dream of living in such a place, there will only be one very lucky person who can claim the title of “King of the House”. Owning such an incredible piece of land does come at a price, you would have to deal with your driveway being closed four weekends throughout the year, but when you have the best viewing position out there, we say that’s a pretty good compromise. Would you like to live at Mt Panorama? Do you think you could control yourself living on Australia’s best race track? Head over to the comments section on the Rare Spares Facebook page to let us know!

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.

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!

Wooden Wonders – The world of wood panelled cars

As automotive enthusiasts, there are a million and one things we love about cars. From exhilarating performance to their racing pedigree and history, there is a broad spectrum of things that appeal to us, but all of this is nothing without style. There have been a number of body styles over the years, some quirky and some more practical, but one of the most unique to appear in the automotive spectrum would be those with wood panels or “Woodies”. These vehicles were the example of outstanding craftsmanship and design flair and here we will take a brief look at the origins of the style and some of the cars that defined the movement. In the early days of engineless transport, wood was used in the construction of many horse drawn carts and carriages. These sound design elements naturally transferred across too many early motor vehicles, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that cars with wood become the desirable choice. It was Ford in 1929 with the Model A that claimed the title of the first mass produced Woodie, with more than half of the vehicles exterior being crafted with timber. Although the use of this material was a relatively common place at the time, advancements in steel stamping slowly pushed wood to be used more for styling than structure. The 1946-48 Chrysler Town and Country was one of the vehicles that adopted wooden styling and hit the nail on the head in terms of design. The station wagon was the first Woodie with an all-steel roof and featured wooden double doors (also called “Barrel Back” doors) and came in a four door sedan layout. The popular Chrysler Town and Country two door convertible was also offered and at the time was the most luxurious car on the market! The Packard Super Eight was produced pre-WWII and was one of the most luxurious of the time. The vehicle featured a 160HP straight eight engine, not to mention wooden doors and rear quarter panels. However, the Woodie movement was not without its ugly ducklings and this generally came in the form of “faux” wood made with vinyl trim which began plaguing cars from the 1970’s all the way to the 1990’s. Thankfully this trend never really caught on in Australia. When it comes to cars of a bygone era, its clear to see how outstanding design and creativity can stand the test of time. Although beautiful, we are pretty happy that manufactures steered away from termite-bait on wheels to more practical and durable materials. What do you think of these wooden wonders? Timeless beauties, or better left to rot? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!