A Look Back at the Cars of 1989

The final year of the 1980s closes out a decade of varying hair styles, musical tastes, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars sagas (before they got truly silly) and an innovative decade of car engineering and design. Holden’s VN Commodore was reaching the end of its design life, and still packed a 5044cc V8. The SS was a hot looker thanks to well integrated body mods, and was the last Commodore without an independent rear. The VN of 1989 featured an upgraded 3.8L V6 which was quieter and more reliable, and would also be the basis for the Toyota Lexcen. Ford had revived one of the brand’s most popular nameplates with its own, inhouse designed, Capri. A slim looking two door, available with a hard or soft top, the Capri didn’t set the automotive market alight and was available for just five years. The later models had a stylish “jeweled” look to the tail lights, and featured pop up head lights. Unfortunately, the entry level model was hobbled by a three speed auto. Mitsubishi was moving the Magna along quite nicely with a design based on the American Galant. Essentially a “cut and shut” build, with some minor design changes but widened to suit the Australian lifestyle, the TN Magna came with two, four cylinder engines for power only. One sucked fuel via a carbie, the other pushed fuel in via fuel injection. Neither could be said to be “powerful” with the EFI version shunting out just 93kW from the 2.6L capacity engine. Toyota’s Camry of 1989 was a complete revamp of the original hatchback version that was imported from Japan. An effectively expanded version of the Corolla of the day, it had been in production in that shape for just two years, after Toyota Australia switched local manufacturing away from the venerable Corona nameplate. Originally available with a front driven chassis powered by a four cylinder, a V6 option came along soon after. Mercedes-Benz was starring with the C-Class in 1989. The 190 design was in overhaul mode, with 1989 seeing prototypes for what would be the 1993 release of the C-Class model range. The design was a freshen up of the 190 sedan, with a sleeker profile and more aerodynamically suited for the autobahns. BMW was in a good mood too, with the E34 5 Series selling well against its main competitor of the day. In 1989 the design was still fresh, having been released just two years before. 1989 saw the release of the 520i, featuring an updated straight six that produced 110kW. The M5 was also virtually brand new too, with that year’s model packing a 232kW straight six. What kind of car did you have in 1989? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

Rare Spares sponsors the "Welcome Strangers” team in the Autumn Shitbox Rally, 8th – 17th May 2019

Rare Spares are proud to announce that they are sponsoring Aaron Barnes’, a long time Rare Spares customer, team the “Welcome Strangers” in the Autumn Shitbox Rally, Perth to Sydney via Uluru – May 8th – 17th. The Shitbox Rally challenges teams to drive cars worth less than $1,000 across some of Australia’s most formidable roads, all in the name of charity. Aaron and the ‘Welcome Strangers’ will be tackling these formidable roads in a VS Commodore Ute. Aaron Barnes provided us with an update on the build and everything that needed to be completed to get a RWC (road worthy certificate) for the upcoming rally. “It’s been one hell of an undertaking to get this ute going. So far we have completed the following to get it RWC and ready for the long journey ahead - New Tie Rods Ends New Castor Bushes New Front struts New front rotors and brake pads New rear rotors and brake pads New rear shockers New engine mounts New Radiator New water pipes New LHS Rear tail light New side indicator lens New Tyre New Spark Plugs and Leads New Pinion bearing in the axle Replaced Rocker cover gaskets Replaced inlet Manifold Gaskets New Oil Temp Sensor New Air Filter New Cat back Exhaust New headlight globe New RHS Bumperette New rear reflectors New Oil Filter New oil New Coolant New Fuel Filter Added a Nudge Bar Added a Tonneau Cover   Still to go are the flood lights on Nudge Bar and the Custom Roll bar to hold spare wheels and Jerry Cans.” “I am sure there may be a couple of small things I have missed as well, but that is the majority of what has been done and is still to go. I completed all these myself with the guidance of a local retired mechanic called Neil Boyle. I call him "The Mechanical Yoda" as he knows everything and has saved 1000's in getting it done by a workshop.”  “We had completed all the issues pointed out by the RWC report and completed them only to have it drop a cylinder, overheat and have coolant pissing out as we arrived to get it finalised. We managed to get a pass and came back to find the inlet manifold was stuffed and needed to be replaced. 7 Hours later we had it fixed and started it up and it purrs like a kitten now, the ECU has levelled out the missing cylinder and it's all going well.”  “The day arrives to go to ViCROADS on Monday and we are driving along thinking we are home and hosed and all of a sudden the revs jump up to 4000 and we slow down. The transmission has just dropped 4th gear and is stuck in 3rd... I could not believe it, after all the work we had done it's just been one thing after the other with this ute. So we arrive at Vicroads having Transmission fluid pissing out on the inspection bay mixed with coolant and I am thinking "this is not good." “Luckily the VICROADS guy was a top bloke and once he knew we were on the Rally he was happy to give the car a quick sighting and hand over the plates. So we are officially Road Worthy but have a potential time bomb transmission on our hands...” “So hopefully everything is fixed now, if not, we may not make it across the Nullabor to start the Rally.”  “We have raised $5,500 so far so we made our target of 5k and we are officially in the rally and the pressure is on to get this machine rally ready.” Check out Aaron’s youtube channel “Barnesy’s Builds for further updates on the build - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN816jozxyemfTzXYNIM68g   

Rare Spares’ Automotive Movie Guide – 5 of our Favourites!

There are some topics in life which are more divisive than pineapple on pizzas. Star Wars versus Star Trek, Holden versus Ford, Connery versus Moore. Best car films in any discussion fall into the divisive category.  What makes for a good car film, though? Is it the car or cars? The story line? The set pieces? Trying to pin down a definitive list is impossible, so we thought we’d shop around and get an idea of what people thought. One film that was a clear favourite is a homegrown production. Starring a young up and coming actor named Mel Gibson, it’s a movie that brings in just about everything a good car film needs. Action, pathos, a chase scene or three, “The Goose”, and of course that incredible XB Falcon. “Mad Max” is a film that simply can’t be overlooked.  Steven Spielberg is best known for a few films starring Harrison Ford and a mind-blowing sci-fi film or two. However, an early part of his career involved a story that is about as simple as it comes. With minimal dialogue it relied on Spielberg’s ability to heighten tension with a simple camera move. Starring Dennis Weaver and based upon a book written by a car driver that had a similar experience with a mad truck driver, “Duel” remains one of the most gripping films of its kind nearly fifty years on. It’s almost impossible to write a list of car films without including this entry. The stars of the film were three little machines designed by Alec Issigonis. The story line, again, was simple. Money, in the form of gold bullion, a few gags, some brilliant scenery and an amazing chase sequence, toss in the broad Cockney accent of Michael Caine, and you have “The Italian Job”. This one celebrates fifty years of delighting audiences. It was agonizing to toss out some of the films that could have made the cut. There is the original “The Fast and The Furious” from 1955, and the remake & subsequent series of films. There was Jason Statham’s “The Transporter”, and the sublime recreation of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in “Rush”.  But number 4 goes to a Steve McQueen favourite. Based on real life events, and featuring film from one of the races itself, “Le Mans”. Takes our fourth grid spot. Packed with macho appeal, and the sense of unburnt “gasoline” hovering around the screen, Le Mans was notable for the bravery of the cameramen hanging on to the cars and heavy cameras of the time. Number five features a product of Ford. Debate was heavy as to whether it was the Mustang called Eleanor, or a different hi-po machine wearing the Blue Oval badge. Ultimately it was another Steve McQueen film that won this intense battle and the honour of number five goes to a film that has an unbroken street-based chase scene of nearly ten minutes. Two cars were used, powered by a 325hp 390ci V8 powering down through a four-speed manual. The film is, of course, “Bullitt” Tell us via our social media links what your top five films are? Is there a “Fast and Furious” in there, perhaps a different Mad Max film? We’d love to know your thoughts and feedback here at Rare Spares.   

How did Datsun become Nissan?

26. March 2019 12:13 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Those of us of a certain age will remember that the brand name Nissan was unheard of, and Datsun was synonymous with small Japanese cars. However, there is a substantial history to both companies. Datsun itself was founded in 1911. Part of the name, DAT, comes from the company founders. Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, and Meitaro Takeuchi. Mergers and minor name changes occurred, and in 1931, produced a car called Datson, son literally in the sense of meaning “son of DAT”. These were built at a time where cars with a certain engine size could be driven without the need for a license. However, as son may also mean “loss” in Japanese, it was changed to Datsun. Nissan was founded in 1928, as a holding company named Nihon Sangyo, with the company governing manufacturers such as Hitachi and, crucially, Tobata Casting. The conglomerate was known as Zaibatsu. Ni and San came from the Nihon Sangyo names and were quickly joined to become the name Nissan. Datsun itself had been merged with another company, Tobata Casting, in 1933. This gave rise to both brands expanding, with Nissan hitting the American market soon after. It was 1934 that saw Yoshisuke Aikawa, the founder of Nihon Sangyo, created a separate automotive parts division of Tobata Casting. This was called the Nissan Motor Company Limited. Prior to WW2, Datsun’s passenger car manufacturing was expanding well, however the Japanese-Chinese war saw Datsun manufacturing mainly trucks for the Japanese Army. A need for cheap cars was seen after WW2 and both companies would soon be heavy hitters in this market. Cars such as the Patrol, the 240Z, and Bluebird came into being. Nissan entered the US market in the late 1950s and sold cars under the Datsun brand name. It’s about here that Nissan saw Australia as a potentially untapped small car market also. The same was occurring in Europe and the U.K., with small cars such as the Sunny and Cherry gaining a strong market share. This came at the same time that British Leyland’s manufacturing woes saw their products not regarded as reputable. It appears that the merge and rebranding of Datsun into Nissan was due to some internal politicking and a desire to have a “one brand” presence. It was in the first half of the 1980s that the rebranding was undertaken, with a rumoured cost of US$30 million at the time to change signs at dealerships whilst other associated costs such as manufacturing plant changes totaled over a half billion. Datsun as a brand was resurrected in 2012 for low cost cars in just a few regional markets such as Indonesia and Russia. What is your favourite Datsun? Let us know in the comment section below this article on Facebook. 

Adelaide 2019 Race Report - Adam Marjoram

Adelaide is now done and dusted we had our best overall result yet and below is how it unfolded. Wednesday 27th February I arrived in Adelaide on Wednesday morning for the usual day of set up, scrutineering, track walk, team meetings and review data and vision from previous years. Now for the un-initiated in Supercars or Motorsport, I will use these race reports to take you behind the scenes of Supercar racing as understanding some of the intricacies of the sport will make the race reports more interesting. Although I am still racing for image Racing this year, the support from Erebus Motorsport this year has stepped up to another level. Combine that with the fact that Dunlop Super 2 Supercars and main game Supercars are now identical except for main game will use a soft tyre at some tracks where we are restricted to hard tyres at most events (2 events will be soft tyre). Just to cover the track walk and why we do it, every driver walks every track before practice to make their driver notes as things change from year to year, track surfaces and grip levels change, bumps in braking zones, curbs, even track signage or other landmarks that drivers may use as a pointer as to where to brake for a corner may move. Can you imagine if last year’s track notes tell you to brake at the Fosters sign and this year they moved it 20 metres closer to the turn, it would get ugly very quickly. Once the track notes are made the engineer and driver use them as a guide during the meeting combined with the car data to quantify if the driver is actually braking and accelerating where he should be or whether he can gain time by braking later and accelerating earlier. Everything done it was time to have dinner and get an early night.  Thursday 28th February Today I get to drive the car in anger for the first time at a race weekend this year. The format for Adelaide is two practice sessions on Thursday, qualifying and Race 1 on Friday, Race 2 on Saturday and Race 3 on Sunday. For Practice 1, we elected to put on a very well used tyres as being a street circuit the track was dusty and dirty, and the first session is really all about getting you eye back in and finding out how well balanced the car feels so there is no point wasting a new set of tyres. With that said numerous teams actually bolted on a new set which are obviously faster so we finished well down the order in P12 about 1.5 seconds off the pace. The car had a fair bit of understeer during the session, so we made some adjustments before practice 2 to find more balance. You will hear the word “balance” used a lot in Motorsport as that’s what every team and driver is chasing, the better the balance, the faster the car. A car that is well balanced will brake in a nice straight line, transferring weight to the front wheels to aid in turn in without trying to swap ends, it will then rotate when steering input is made, and will then squat down and transfer the weight to the rear wheels as you accelerate off the turn giving you great drive.  A racecar that wants to go straight when you turn the steering wheel has understeer, a car that slides in the rear when the throttle is applied has oversteer. Too much understeer or oversteer will be slow, as you can’t direct it and transition the weight perfectly through the different zones of a corner .  With some set up changes made it was time for Practice 2. We started the session on the same old tyres we used for practice 1 and the car felt instantly better. Half way through the session we elected to put on a green set (new) tyres to see how the balance is on new tyres as this is what we will qualify on. On the first flyer we were in the top 3 in times, however the end result was not that good p15 as we went early on the new tyres and the track got faster and faster so those that left it later to put on greens were rewarded with better times. We used this to make sure the car was good for Qualifying rather than set a good lap time. Just talking tyres for a second, depending on the track surface and the track temp a new set of tyres will only produce their fastest times for between 1-3 laps, after that they drop between 2 tenths to half a second a lap. After that they level out a bit and slowly lose time over the next 20-30 laps. So if you have not set a good time in qualifying with two flying laps you may as well pull in and save the tyres because you will not go any faster as the tyres have lost their best bit. After each session we viewed the data, debriefed with the engineer as to what changes we need to make to go faster. At 7.00pm I was a guest speaker along with Steven Johnson at a corporate function held in the city, where I was interviewed on stage and did a question session with the audience and shamelessly dropped some great sponsor plugs. It is always good fun being able to share my stories and experiences with guests, and love meeting new fans!  Friday 1st February Qualifying was scheduled for a 12.30 start, with the ambient temperature being 40 degrees and inside cabin temp being about 20 degrees hotter than ambient it was going to be a tough session.  Regarding tyres, each team is allocated 3 new sets of tyres to use through practice, qualifying and three races, so tyre conservation is always part of the strategy, otherwise by race three you have nothing good to race on. We rolled out on our best used tyres to set a banking lap just in case a red flag is pulled ending the session. Our strategy was to do two flying laps on our two remaining sets of race tyres and sit out the rest of qualifying. With the first set, the car felt great and I had lit up two green boxes on my second flyer only to brake a little too deep in turn 14 locking the rears costing me about three tenths and that would have put me in the Top 5. I then boxed and sat in the pits for a few minutes counting the clock down before my last run. With new tyres on I set about ragging the hell out of the car to put me further up the grid. Unfortunately as the track temp was still rising not many went any faster so my qualifying lap was the one set on the first set of tyres. As the chequered flag waved I had Qualified 9th for Race 1. Although not a bad result if I had not made the mistake in turn 14 I would have finished 5th fastest. Race 1 was scheduled to start at 5.40pm and it was still close to 40 degrees so 19 laps in this heat was going to be gruelling. As a driver we have a few driver aids to help us deal with the heat stress from the high in-cabin temperature. We have a cool shirt that pumps coolant through an ice box and then through capillaries in the fireproof undershirt we wear. We also have a helmet fan that forces cooled filtered air through a tube connected to the top of our helmets onto the top of our heads and via a manifold on the helmet for us to breathe.  The problem for me was that on the roll around lap before the start of the race my helmet fan decided it was way too hot to work so it gave up. As the lights went green, I did not get a very good start, I simply did not hook the car up properly and lost two positions before the first corner. It was then “elbows out” to get those positions back which I did by going around the outside of cars on the first lap. We had two safety car periods during the race due to accidents, but in the heat this only makes the inside of the car hotter as you get heat soak from the engine and brakes but very little air flow to remove it.  After the second safety car period the gap I had made had disappeared and I had to fight for the rest of the race to rebuild the gap behind me. My brake pedal had got so hot that it had burnt and started to blister the bottom of my foot through my race boots.  The final few laps were quite painful as you can imagine applying 100kg pressure on a burn each time I hit the brake pedal. By the time the chequered flag waved I was 7th across the line, a great way to open the account for the year! Saturday 2nd February Our race start today was not until 3.30pm so there was plenty of time between corporate box visits, driver signing sessions and pit tours to review the data and race set up from race 1. To alleviate some understeer problems I had in race 1 we decided to change the rear roll centre, and put on our other set of new tyres. Race 2 Starting P7, this time I absolutely nailed the start, as I went to pass the car in front down the middle, he blocked me, so I flicked it left and passed him on the inside and made it 3 wide into the turn 1-2 chicane. The set up changes we had made had still not fixed the understeer problem which made me very vulnerable to dive bombs at turn 9 as I could not hold mid corner speed through turn 8. The cars behind me were putting immense pressure on, so I backed them up a little into each other working their rear tyres harder than they wanted also whilst they were fighting each other it gave me a bit of a break.  At the end of 19 laps I crossed the line in 6th, with a nice straight car – more points for the championship. Sunday 3rd February Once again only one race today with Race 3 starting at 2.00pm, after reviewing the data, my engineers decided to change front springs and rear anti roll bar to fix the understeering problem I had had during the last two races. This has been a problem we battled all weekend, and to move forward we needed this fixed. But at least the weather today was a bit cooler – a nice change, but it became very humid! I again got a good start, but by the end of the first lap I knew we had gone a little too far with the changes and my understeering car was now oversteering quite badly. As a drivers we can trim understeer or oversteer by stiffening or softening the front and rear anti roll bars. As a general rule if you soften the bar you give more grip, if you stiffen the bar you lose grip.  By about quarter race distance I was maxed out on bar adjustment and still oversteering to the point of having a couple of scary moments through the high speed turn 8 that ended my race last year. I tried everything I knew to keep my position but unfortunately lost three positions during the race to finish 9th. All in all we had a great start to the Championship with me taking 6th overall for the round and Championship. I would like to once again take this opportunity to thank all my sponsors, Penrite Oil, Rare Spares Fabcon, Altrex, Carplan, Little Tree’s, Industrial Chemical Supplies, Bremtec Brakes, CoolDrive Ultima Shock Absorbers, Supercharge Batteries, Wesfil, Tridon, PK Tools, Nova and DB Connect. Until next time. Adam Marjoram       

Rare Spares backs Adam Marjoram in 2019 Dunlop Super2 Series

Rare Spares are excited to announce their sponsorship of Supercar driver Adam Marjoram in the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2019. Adam Marjoram will channel an Erebus Motorsport livery in the 2019 Dunlop Super2 Series, when he carries backing from Rare Spares, Penrite Oil, ICT, Bremtec and Supercharge Batteries. “Rare Spares are thrilled to be associated with and support Adam Marjoram and the Image Racing Team in the Dunlop Super2 Series this year.” said Melissa Drake, Rare Spares Marketing Director. Marjoram is entering his second season with Image Racing in the 2019 Dunlop Super2 Series and will be racing alongside team mate Jordan Boys. The Rare Spares logo will feature on the front bonnet of car 15, as well as on the transporter, pit walling, dashboard, race suit, team apparel and merchandise and other promotional materials. Marjoram will also appear at several Rare Spares events throughout 2019.  “We believe 2019 is going to be a fantastic year of racing in the Super2 Series and we wish the best of luck to Adam Marjoram”  Rare Spares are committed to their involvement in all aspects of Australia’s car culture, from motorsport to classic car restorations and motoring enthusiast festivals.   Supplying tens of thousands of parts to thousands of car restorers and hundreds of car clubs across Australia and New Zealand, Rare Spares has become an iconic Australian brand in the automotive aftermarket restoration industry over the past 40 years. With official backing by both Holden and Ford, Rare Spares offer a one stop shop for enthusiasts living their dreams of owning and restoring a classic vehicle. To find out more about Rare Spares, the huge product range available, and for a full list of distributors across Australia, visit www.rarespares.net.au   

Rare Spares backs Adam Marjoram in 2019 Dunlop Super2 Series

Rare Spares are excited to announce their sponsorship of Supercar driver Adam Marjoram in the Dunlop Super2 Series in 2019. Adam Marjoram will channel an Erebus Motorsport livery in the 2019 Dunlop Super2 Series, when he carries backing from Rare Spares, Penrite Oil, ICT, Bremtec and Supercharge Batteries. “Rare Spares are thrilled to be associated with and support Adam Marjoram and the Image Racing Team in the Dunlop Super2 Series this year.” said Melissa Drake, Rare Spares Marketing Director. Marjoram is entering his second season with Image Racing in the 2019 Dunlop Super2 Series and will be racing alongside team mate Jordan Boys. The Rare Spares logo will feature on the front bonnet of car 15, as well as on the transporter, pit walling, dashboard, race suit, team apparel and merchandise and other promotional materials. Marjoram will also appear at several Rare Spares events throughout 2019.  “We believe 2019 is going to be a fantastic year of racing in the Super2 Series and we wish the best of luck to Adam Marjoram”  Rare Spares are committed to their involvement in all aspects of Australia’s car culture, from motorsport to classic car restorations and motoring enthusiast festivals.   Supplying tens of thousands of parts to thousands of car restorers and hundreds of car clubs across Australia and New Zealand, Rare Spares has become an iconic Australian brand in the automotive aftermarket restoration industry over the past 40 years. With official backing by both Holden and Ford, Rare Spares offer a one stop shop for enthusiasts living their dreams of owning and restoring a classic vehicle. To find out more about Rare Spares, the huge product range available, and for a full list of distributors across Australia, visit www.rarespares.net.au 

The Holden ECOmmodore

Holden has a history of quietly sneaking concept cars or forthcoming design changes into public view. Possibly its biggest hidden in plain sight concept of the last two decades was the ECOmmodore of 2000. Ostensibly a four door coupe version of the VT Commodore, it would eventually point the way towards the upcoming rebirth of the Monaro after showcasing a concept in 1998. But the real talking point was the engine package inside the swoopy body. Holden had joined the then burgeoning hybrid technology race, and in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO, put forward a petrol and battery powered engine combination. The petrol side was a transversely mounted 2.0L four cylinder, replacing the 3.8L V6 normally found under the VT’s bonnet. An electric motor, complete with super-capacitors and lead-acid batteries, supplemented the four, with power rated as 50kW. The fuel tank was down to 45L yet the expected range was 800km thanks to a near halving of consumption. There was plenty of torque available for the hybrid with a total of 290Nm, but thanks to the electric motor, 100Nm was there on startup. The transmission was a five speed manual and, because of the east-west engine layout, fed that oomph to the front wheels, not the rear. Emissions were said to be 10% of the normal V6 engine yet performance would have been within cooee of the existing engine and auto transmission. The body was a slightly modified Monaro shell; not only were there four doors, it was fitted over the longer wheelbase wagon floorpan. Aluminium was used to replace sections of the steel floor, with other weight saving additions such as polycarbonate replacing the glass windows, strong but lightweight carbon fibre panels, and some fibreglass panels also. Good looking 18 inch alloys were bolted to the reduced weight suspension components, with rolling resistance lowered by fitting narrower than standard tyres at 165/55. All up, the modifications lowered drag from 0.32cd to 0.28cd. The ECOmmodore would star in the Sydney Olympics torch relay, leading the first 70km stretch from the heart of Australia, Uluru. Although never intended to be a production vehicle, costing showed that if it had been produced, it was at a $3000 premium over the VT at the time. Ahead of its time at the time, the ECOmmodore foreshadowed other marques developing four door coupe bodyshells, and even more, it was 18 years ahead of a tantalizing piece of “what if” with HSV revealing that plans to electrify the ZB Commodore were being investigated. The last known location of the ECOmmodore was inside The Powerhouse Museum. What’s your favourite Holden concept car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments sections below this article! 

The Falcon 300+ Prototype

Cars were simple once. Four doors, two doors, five doors in a wagon, three in a panel van. Australia’s own motoring history is full of variations on the theme, particularly of the two door variety. Holden had the Monaros and Toranas, Mitsubshi the Starion, Toyota the Supra and Celica, Chrysler the mighty Valiant, and Ford? Ford had a “tudor” going back to the days of the XP Falcon, a beautifully proportioned and styled machine. Escorts and Cortinas bobbled in and out with two doors. There was the heavy hipped XA to XC coupes, and then….nada. And it stayed that way for some time, until a design proposal for an AU Falcon based coupe was put forward. Admittedly, the AU wasn’t the prettiest looking thing on the road, so a coupe? Inspiration, in a way, came from brothers Troy and Clayton Hillier, well known in street machine circles. Based in Tenterfield, the brothers had, without attention and fanfare, converted an AU sedan to a coupe. Once Ford had been made aware of the car by W.A. based Advanced Engine Components, (AEC), and Millard Design in Victoria. Along with the soft approval of Ford, the car was put together in a relatively short time. Showcased at the Melbourne Auto Show in 2001, the red and silver highlighted machine certainly grabbed plenty of attention. Power was courtesy of a supercharged 4.6L V8, said to produce 370kW and 660Nm (with varying figures for both, it must be said), thanks to the Sprintex huffer from AEC bolted on top. Gears came courtesy of a six speed Tremec manual, that, when spun up, would join with the engine to see a 0-100 kmh time of 4.6 seconds, a rapid time in anyone’s book. Having 245/35 ZR19 and 275/30 ZR19 tyres to steer and grip certainly helped. Stoppers were four and two potters from Brembo. But it was the styling that made this car, sadly a one off, stand out.  There was tacit support from Ford Australia, with the then head of Ford Motorsport, Howard Marsden, overseeing the build project. It was based on the TE50 sedan platform, and was given some serious massage work. Computer Aided Design, or CAD, was employed. A redesign of the rear bulkhead and floorplan was undertaken to reduce weight and increase torsional strength. The rear guards were given a push outwards, but the main ingredient was the rearward movement of the B pillar by 200 mm. Naturally this meant the doors had to be lengthened and strengthened to suit. In order to overcome what is called a “crown effect”, and working with an already bulbous roofline (which would be flatted substantially for the BA Falcon), visual and physical design cues were employed. The roof was flattened substantially, however a lower profile rear wing was fitted to assist in making the car, especially from the rear, look lower. Twin headlights were fitted inside the triangular housings up front. The bonnet was massaged to provide clearance for the Sprintex supercharger. Bodywork here was a change to a simple looking air intake and the ground scraping chin on the bumper. Inside, the trim was lifted by fitting leather clad seats with red and grey trim. The driver binnacle was upgraded by using the Fairmont dash, however the overall dash design, complete with its soft organic curves, was untouched in real terms. The build itself was effectively a joint venture between the three companies and relied on Ford to see the project through for a viable sales base. Allegedly there were fifteen orders for the car, and at a price of around $100,000, that was a substantial investment. However, without the deeper pockets of Ford being available when they withdrew their support, the Falcon 300+ would remain an orphan, and a blip in Australia’s “tudor” history. What has been your favourite Australian made prototype? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article. 

Craig Lowndes Motorsport Career

His Mum calls him Craig. His mates call him whatever they want. Fans call him CL, or Lowndesy. We know him as Craig Lowndes. During his racing career he would become known for not just his talent, but his ever present smile, a great sense of humour, and a deep appreciation for his followers. In a (V8) Supercars career that started in 1996, the year of his 22nd birthday, Lowndes became a winner at Bathurst seven times, including the memorable win in 2006 where he and Jamie Whincup became the first to have their names etched on the Peter Brock Trophy. He’s a triple V8 Supercars champion, and, as of the end of 2018, no longer a full time competitor in the Supercars championship. Born in Melbourne on June 21, 1974, Lowndes trod a path many others have followed when following a motorsport dream. Karting was the weapon of choice, and at the age of nine he was likely to be found at the Whittlesea karting circuit, some forty or so kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD. It took less than a decade before racing success came his way. In Formula Ford Lowndes found a kindred automotive spirit, gaining valuable exposure in the Motorcraft Formula Ford “Drive To Europe” series in 1991. Other drivers that found fame in this series were Russell Ingall, Tomas Mezera, and Cameron McConville. 1993 and Lowndes wins the Formula Ford championship, propelling him into the vision of Formula Ford in Europe. The championship title eluded him, but not by much, with third being notched up. Come 1994 and he’s in Formula Brabham, winning the Australian Silver Star. Also known as Formula Holden, the series itself was short-lived. The Brabham nomenclature was part of the series for just five years, from 1991 to 1995. V8 Supercars were coming and the bright lights beckoned. Lowndes was added to the test team crew of the Holden Racing Team and competed, in what was meant to be a one off appearance, alongside Brad Jones for the 1994 Sandown 500. The drive was successful enough to impress team principal Jeff Grech enough to offer a seat that had become vacant to Lowndes. The 1994 Bathurst 1000 race cemented Lowndes as part of the Australian racing landscape. Ballsy driving, a rookie error or two, and a second place in 1994 set him on the path to become a full time member of HRT, winning the championship with them in 1996. On his first full season with them, mind. It had Lowndes drive next to Greg Murphy, with the win making Lowndes the youngest driver to win “The Great Race” at the time. Although Australian success was his, the call from his heart to return to Europe was strong. 1997 and the International Formula 3000 Championship saw Lowndes sharing team driving duties with Juan Pablo Montoya. The candle was alight but the success proved elusive for the Victorian, with just one season completed and Lowndes returning to Australia. By this time the V8 Supercars category was established and in full flight, with Lowndes quickly returning to form on Australian circuits. The 1997 Sandown 500 was added to the trophy cabinet, with “Murf” his co-driver. The next year Lowndes and Mark Skaife co-starred throughout the year, and Lowndes took out the 1998 championship. 1999 promised a lot inside the new VT Commodore and consistent performance had Lowndes on track to win that year’s championship by the time round eight arrived. The location? Calder Park. The result? A car written off, one of the most spectacular rollovers seen in Aussie motorsport, and one very lucky CL. Although the crash gave him just minor injuries and being forced to miss the Sandown race that year, his lead was such that the championship was yet again his. Australia’s automotive brand rivalry was brought to the fore at the beginning of the 21st century as Lowndes went from a red lion to a blue oval on his car. Further colour changes came in the form of his AU Falcon being a combination of black, silver, and green, the latter on the headlight covers and giving the car the affectionate nickname of “the green eyed monster”. As much a talking point the car was, it didn’t deliver for Lowndes. It wasn’t until 2003 when a move to FPR, Ford Performance Racing, that his first win with Ford and the first since 2000 came along. The tenure with FPR proved short in time, with Lowndes signing with Team Betta Electrical, or Triple Eight Racing, for 2005. This was partly spurred by a 20th place finish for the 2004 season. Again his tilt at the championship was looking good; he’d taken the most victories, and the most pole positions, but incidents such as a wheel smashing his windscreen at the 2005 Bathurst race had him place second behind Russell Ingall. However, there was a highlight for Lowndes in the form of the Barry Sheen Medal. Voted upon by motorsport writers, former drivers, and commentators, it was a recognition of Lowndes in that he’d won without being the year’s championship winner. Perhaps the most memorable of wins for Lowndes was at Bathurst in 2006. Just weeks after the tragic passing of his friend and mentor, one Peter Brock, Lowndes and Whincup muscled their way through for the win to finish just a half second ahead of second placed Rick Kelly. Lowndes capped off that year by winning the Barry Sheene medal for the second year running. 2006 would also see he and Whincup take the first of three Bathurst victories in a row, making them just the third pairing to do so, with Brock and Larry Perkins, and Brock with Jim Richards the others. In a flagging of what was to come, Ford Australia cut their motorsport sponsorship. Lowndes made the move back to Holden, with whom he would become the first driver to reach 100 wins, win his fifth Barry Sheene medal, and his third most popular driver award. 2015 saw him win his sixth Bathurst 1000. 2017 would be perhaps his career lowlight, with no wins to his name. Although this spurred talk of retirement which was denied, in mid 2018 Lowndes, CL, and Craig to his mum, along with his ever present smile, announced he would retire from full time competition. What was your favourite Lowndesy career highlight? Head on over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comment section below this blog!