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!

The Modern Classic – Taking a look at the last of the mighty Monaro’s

Australia has had its fair share of automotive icons over the years, vehicles that encouraged, shaped and defined our automotive culture as we know it. The Holden Monaro has been one particular model that arguably takes out the crown as one of Australia’s most important four wheeled creations and, with a linage that spans a number of decades, the car has won its place in the hearts of enthusiasts across the country. Here we will take a look at the last of the popular two door coupes which farewelled one of Australia’s most loved performance breeds, the Holden Monaro CV8. The first CV8 Monaro graced the automotive scene 20 years after the HX LE was released. The car had created its own culture and was the prized fighter in the Holden vs Ford debate, so the third coming of the vehicle had big shoes to fill. The first modern Monaro concept was revealed in 1998 at the now debunked Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The VT-Based coupe received so much fanfare that Holden had no choice but to give the people what they wanted. The first release occurred 3 years later in 2001 with the VX Commodore based Monaro CV8 (V2) coming onto the scene in spectacular fashion. The Aussie powerhouse featured a 5.7 L Gen III V8 mated to either a 6 Speed manual or 4 speed automatic transmission. The Series 2 model soon debuted at the start of 2003 with a revised dashboard from the VY Commodore, a new wheel design and various colour changes. The CV8-R was a limited edition variant that was available in either a grey or red colour scheme. It wasn’t until the VZ Monaro hit the market in 2004 that the vehicle received revised front and rear bumper assemblies and the infamous double ducted bonnet. Holden knew that the coupes time was nearing closer to an end so the final incarnation of the Monaro was produced, the CV8-Z, and was limited to 1100 units. The CV8-Z featured a sunroof, unique wheels and bold colour choices and was revered by many as a fitting farewell to the Monaro legacy. As soon as Holden announced it was the end of the line of the Monaro, many had hoped, or even wished that it was going to make a comeback with a next model release, however as we now know, with Holden ceasing Aussie manufacturing, this last hurrah of the true Aussie performance coupe will forever hold its place in the history books. What did you think the CV8 did the Monaro name justice? Have you owned one of these fierce rides? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Licenced to Thrill – The world of Expensive Numberplates

Many of us work hard to try and obtain the car of our dreams, spending countless hours and cash to make them just right, but there is one side of the automotive spectrum that many consider the icing on the cake, the simple licence plate. Some care not for a customised rectangle, but for others, it’s what matters the most. Here we will take dip into the world of expensive number plates and see what all the hype (and cost!) is about. Many of us have heard the urban legends of certain plates selling for 6 figures but haven’t experienced it firsthand, yet there is an entire market place that exists beneath the surface which dedicated to unique, exclusive and desirable number plates. There are a few things that make up a sought-after plate, and these usually aren’t your high school nicknames (I’m talking to you “Smithy”). Things such as the model of a particular vehicle, such as 911 for a Porsche or GT-HO for a Falcon, easily add to the exclusivity of the plate. The value doesn’t lie in the material of the plate, but the bragging rights of finishing off a special car with its name sake.For those living the highlife, the digits game is the place to be. The general rule is the fewer digits on the plate, the greater its potential resale value is and case is in point would be the single digit 1. The Victorian plate was purchased from retired mechanic from Ballarat in 1984 for $165,000 and is now currently owned by the owner of Coles and Fosters Peter Bartels current value, estimated at a cool $2.5 million, not a bad investment by any means. Some other honourable mentions would be the purchase of a Dubai “D5” and “1” numberplates for $9 million and $14 million respectively. For many of us our pride and joy provides us with enjoyment and passion, but when passion goes to extremes, it’s not crazy to think that those with the cash would want to highlight it more. Do you have an awesome numberplate of your own? Ever sell a plate only to find out its worth a mint? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section.

The Rare lions - Revisiting one of the Rarest GROUP A's of all time

Back at a time when Australia was serious about muscle cars, a popular beverage company took one of Holden’s most desirable creations at the time, and made it even more special. Here we will take a look at the ultra-exclusive 1991 HSV VN SS GROUP A (TOOHEYS GROUP A) It was the year 1991 and Brocky was back on Holden’s books, driving the VN Group A SS like a bat out of hell. The VN Group A SS was the result of the 500 vehicle requirement for homologation touring and group a cars. The car itself was Holden’s most intimidating yet however it wasn’t until great race sponsors Toohey’s decided to go ahead with the mother of all promotions, sparing dodgy key chains and stubby holders, the beer giant decided to go all out and add their own touch to Holden’s already formidable beast. The Group A VN SS was a truly well designed piece of kit. The engine featured Chev NASCAR conrods among other upgrades and Germanys own ZF supplying the first six speed ever fitted to a Holden. Not to mention Bilstein shocks all round and AP Racing claiming the clutch department with the car being fitted with switchgear, cruise and trip computer from the upmarket Calais. All in all, the beast was putting out a mind boggling 215kw (for the time) and got the midas touch from the crew at Tom Walkinshaw Racing, who placed the car in a British wind tunnel and got to work on its aero package. Tooheys got their hands on chassis number 123 (1000V8) and 161 (2000V8), painting the cars in black and decorating with the appropriate decals , the two Rare Lions were on the cards to one lucky winner who gave the second vehicle to his son in law. Since then time has passed and car 1000V8 has been lovingly brought back to original condition after the current owner found the car used and abused. The whereabouts of 2000V8 remains a mystery, either being hidden away in a shed somewhere or having met its maker. When it comes to Aussie legends, only in Australia could a beer company partner with an automotive powerhouse to produce some of the rarest Group A cars ever. So when it comes to the performance icons of the past, we say pour a cold one and raise a glass! Do you know the whereabouts of the lost unicorn? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the mythical beast? Head over to the comments section on our Facebook page and let us know! ­­­

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

When it comes to cars that flew under the radar, it is hard to think that the humble Datsun 240k would ever become a collector’s item, but like many unique cars of the era, they are growing in appeal and value. The 240k was released in the early 70’s from the growing Japanese Datsun brand and debuted into a market filled with HQ Holden’s, VH Valiant’s and XA Falcon’s. The vehicle was not always considered the best in terms of looks quickly labelled as unattractive by the media, slotting somewhere above the questionable 120Y’s and behind the sleek 240z. The car featured a straight six L24 engine and cost around $5000 at the time, however it was a big call to spend that amount of money on a car that was considered by many to be inferior to its home grown counterparts.   Coming in both sedan and coupe variants, the car sold well, although with no performance orientated model, the car never garnered the curb side appeal of a GT Falcon or Holden Monaro. It was seen as nothing more than a little Japanese run around and this image of the car and moving times saw them move into a class that could be considered undesirable. With the boom in technology and performance experienced in the 90’s, the little Datsun had lost much of its unique appeal. The price of scrap metal was soaring, leading many of these unloved cars to be traded in for nothing more than a quick buck, with the rest of the remaining cars living out their days rusting away in the back of paddocks and properties across Australia. It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that demand soon began to outweigh supply. With numbers significantly diminished, the existing examples soon began to catch the eye of enthusiasts whose parents had owned the car or those who had their own experiences with the old Datsun. The once quirky Japanese vehicle had fast become a desirable classic and it didn’t take long before barely salvageable rusted cars were being snatched up from paddocks and sheds across the country. From a car that was once considered worthless to one that is now fetching prices similar to that of cult Aussie classics, it goes to show that it can be hard to predict which car is destined to garner such a passionate following. The 240k has gained more and more respect over time and with its love it or hate it styling the car is always one to stir the pot, but we tip our hat to the humble Datto for adding another piece to our exciting and diverse automotive history. Do you have one of these classics hiding in your shed? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the 240k? Head over the comments section of the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!

End of model Runout - The Monaro that Almost Was

The Holden Monaro has been one of Australia’s most iconic cars and one that has defined our motoring pedigree as we know it, but there is one model that never carried the great nameplate, and that’s the Holden HX LE Coupe. The unofficial final model of the original Monaro series that began with the HK in 1968, was the limited edition Holden HX LE coupe and was released on September 27 1976. The car itself was a nod to the Monaro, sharing the same metal work and was adorned with gold pin striping and ‘LE’ lettering on the model's distinctive metallic crimson paint. Although it never officially carried the Monaro name, the fact it was a top end coupe, led Holden fans to regard the car as a true blue member of the family. There were just 580 examples of the limited edition HX LE Coupe produced and they came fresh from Holden's old Pagewood plant in Sydney. The striking coupe featured double quartz halogen headlights,HX Premier front end, front and rear spoilers and the unique US sourced “Honeycomb” 14x7 inch polycast wheels which completed the package. The car also features an array of high tech gadgetry that included power windows, power steering, power aerial, integrated air conditioning, heated rear window, quadraphonic eight-track cartridge player and was finished with tinted windows. The passenger compartment of the coupe featured a walnut finish dash fascia and centre console with velour and cloth trim, a mighty luxurious package in 1976. The HX LE came with Holden's healthy 308ci V8, the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission and a Salisbury limited slip differential, all parts that were considered high performance Monaro essentials. However with Holden’s choice not to name the car officially as a Monaro, the HX LE was essentially the combination of prestige additions and surplus parts. Although the Holden HX LE Coupe was never officially called a Monaro, it had all the ingredients to wear the name with pride! But why do you think Holden chose not to name the car a Monaro? Head over the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!

Rare Spares Fundraising Activities for Men’s Shed

Depression affects 1 in 8 men at some point in their life and can be attributed to many different factors such as personal health issues, life events/ circumstances and even isolation. The factors that lead to depression also make living an enjoyable and fulfilling life very difficult. The Australian Men’s Shed Association aims to tackle these issues by creating a space where its members can engage and encourage one another through a variety of activities and events, all in the name of improving relationships and quality of life. With many Shedder’s also being motoring aficionados, building and restoring their own unique rides, Rare Spares wanted to play a role in assisting the association. Sharing many of the same values as the AMSA, Rare Spares are now undertaking fundraising activities and have been doing so for almost 12 months. When purchasing a Rare Spares product online, customers have the opportunity to make a donation. Donations can also be made at Rare Spares’ two company owned stores, Roxburgh Park and Bayswater North. When customers purchase a product in store, they are informed about Men’s Shed and asked if they would like to make a donation. Roxburgh Park store manager, Brad De Pasquale, spoke on the importance of Men's Shed’s work. “The association is great. It definitely helps the older guys. They get to do hands on activities and spend time with people who have similar interests. The comradery they build with one another is powerful and I think it makes a big difference to their lives.” Both stores feature posters and flyers promoting Men’s Shed and the important work they do. North Bayswater Store Manager, Dylan Boyes, also mentioned how crucial Men’s Shed is to its members. “We all have someone in our family or know somebody who could use a helping hand. Men’s Shed’s around the country provide a great environment to enable a conversation and build friendships. It’s an atmosphere where people can bond and support one another and that is really important.” Rare Spares also show their support through VIP nights, sausage sizzles and even working directly with sheds around Australia, and it’s not just Rare Spares that gives their support, but also Aussie motorsport legend John Bowe. “It’s nice to be able to help people in any way possible, I commend Rare Spares support of Men’s Sheds and the association will always have my support.” JB is proud to be involved with organisations that make a difference, be it restoring classic cars or improving the health and wellbeing of the community. After attending the AMSA annual dinner, the racing icon was deeply impressed with the organisation. “It was a very moving experience, these organisations are incredibly important, and the work they do is vital.” In 2005 there were over 200 Men’s Sheds nationwide and over 930 members and that number has well and truly grown and continues to grow with more Sheds opening around the country. The AMSA aims to create awareness of mental health issues and improve the wellbeing and quality of life of its members. Rare Spares is excited to support such an important organisation and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Tyre symbols and their meaning

27. April 2016 11:44 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)
Tyres are the unsung heroes of car safety. While they may not be the most exciting part of your car, they are vitally important for keeping your car on the road. As you dutifully and regularly check your tyres for ware and pressure, you may have noticed a bunch of numbers and letters on the sidewall. Ever wonder what they all mean? Well, today we’ll find out, and the best way to do this is to look at an example.                                      225/55 R 16 91V DOT XBFU XJJX 1315 RFT NO REF This jumble of numbers and letters above may look confusing, however it’s a typical example of what you would see on a tyre’s sidewall. Each one means something, though some are more important to us as drivers than others. Let’s start with tyre size. The ‘255’ in the above sequence is the width of the tyre in millimetres across the thread. The ‘55’ is the ‘Aspect Ratio’ which is the profile height of the tyre as a percentage of the width. In this case, the aspect ratio is 55% of 255mm. Next in the sequence is the ‘R’ which stands for ‘Radial’. A Radial tyre is constructed with the plies running at a 90 degree angle to the direction of travel. A ‘B’ would indicate a Bias construction where the plies run diagonally across, however most new tyres these days are Radials. The ‘16’ in the above example is the size of the rim in inches that the tyre fits and is effectively the size of the hole from one side to the other. The next number, ‘91’ is the load index. It is a code which tells you what weight the tyre can carry. For example, 91 equates to a maximum load of 615 kilograms when a load index is consulted. The Speed Rating is next: S= 180km/h; H= 210km/h; V=240km/h; Z > 240km/h; W= 180km/h; Y 300km/h. So for our example, our tyre’s speed rating is 240km/h which is the maximum speed the tyre is capable of. After the speed rating will be the letters ‘DOT’ followed by a series of eight letters and numbers. DOT means the tyre exceeds the safety standards laid down by the Department of Transport in the USA. The series of eight letters and numbers is a serial number used by the manufacturer. The ‘1315’ tell us when the tyre was made. The first two digits is the week of the year and the next two is the actual year. So in this case, the tyre was made in the 13th week of 2015. ‘RFT’ in our example denotes these are Run Flat tyres. The symbol does change though according to the manufacturer. For instance, Pirelli use ‘RFT’, but Michelin use ‘ZP’. Tyres that are specifically designed to be used on certain car makes occupy the next space in the form of a code, depending on the car manufacturer. In this example for instance, the ‘NO’ tells us that this tyre has been specifically designed for Porsche. Last but not least is a code to show whether or not a tyre has been reinforced to carry extra weight. This code will change depending on the manufacturer. For our tyre, it’s ‘REF’ but it could be XL, RF, RFD, etc. depending on which company made the tyre. This list, while not exhaustive covers most of what you will find. Red dots, rotation arrows, whether the tyre can handle mud and snow, mountain snowflakes and the like can be found, along with the basics like maximum tyre pressure. Who would have thought a tyre’s sidewall would provide so much information?  

Future Collectables

11. April 2016 10:11 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)
Australia’s classic car market is thriving with the usual suspects grabbing the attention and attracting the big dollars. But what about tomorrow’s classics? What will be the next Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III, the next Torana A9X? Who knows, but we’ve come up with just some possibilities. Will we be right? Only time will tell. Time to get out the crystal ball. In no particular order and starting with a car that needs no introduction and whose forefathers are already very collectable; the Third generation Holden Monaro from 2001 to 2005. And within the range specifically: the CV8-R; CV8-Z; GTO; GTS and Coupe 4. Now these, it could be argued have already reached classic status. They, like some others on the list have certainly become very collectable, attracting prices many times more than what they originally sold for. From Ford in 1999 to 2002, the FTE (Ford Tickford Experience) TS 50 and TE 50 AU Falcons. With three hand built engines available, from the 5.0 litre 200kw and the 5.0 litre 220kw to the 5.6 litre 250kw, these already exclusive beasts will be even more so in the future. These were also the last models to use the iconic Windsor engine which had been used in Falcons since the late 1960s, increasing the likelihood of future classic status. Back to Holden, this time with the HDT VE Commodores. Anything from HDT is the bee’s knees and the VE is what would be in our garage, quietly waiting for this already very collectable and much sought after car to enter classic status. The Ford Falcon GT-P from 2002 to 2006 also makes the list. This upmarket GT cost around $70k when new and they can be snapped up for under $20k now. That would bring tears to the eyes if you had bought it new and sure, the price might keep heading that way. Or it might not. With possibly the most awesome moniker ever to grace a car anywhere is the Ford FPV F6 Typhoon, built between 2004 and 2008. Winning Motor magazine's Australian Performance Car of the Year award in 2006, you can also pick one up for less than $20k. A bargain, just like many of the current classics that depreciated after leaving the showroom only to eventually become more collectable and valuable as time went on.