Rare Spares Legend – Tony O’Donnell

Tony O’Donnell is a well-respected automotive industry stalwart, serving the interests of the broader automotive community selflessly for over 20 years. Tony sought and succeeded in unifying the car community to bring about change in government regulations surrounding automotive regulations. The flow on effect of his work has been beneficial to enthusiasts across the country. Tony’s long term contribution was formally recognised at Summernats 29 in front of the Saturday evening crowd, being awarded the coveted Rare Spares Legend Award, receiving the now iconic golden helmet. The Rare Spars Legend Award has been bestowed only on the most deserving of contributors to the scene and Tony joins the who’s who of street machining in Australia and was very humbled to join this group. “I was blown away to be honest. When I look at the other guys who have received it, they are the names we have dropped in our conversations on some of the topics we have discussed over the years at club level and with the government. Being included in this company is mind blowing,” said O’Donnell. “I have to thank the group of people who have been involved in the Australian Confederation of Motor Clubs (ACMC) and for all their huge amounts of work over the years. Alan Hay and Duncan Gay have both been integral to the success we have had as well as many others who have contributed to the changes we have been able to implement. Thanks to Rare Spares and Summernats for the honour,” he added. The award was presented to Tony by Rare Spares General Manager David Rayner, who was proud to be adding Mr O’Donnell to the Hall of Fame. “We will be only awarding a total of ten Rare Spares Legends and with eight already chosen, the answer to who would become our ninth quickly became apparent and that was Tony O’Donnell,” said Rayner.  “Tony has represented the classic, historic and street machine worlds for many years and his work behind the scenes has directly and indirectly touched thousands in our scene. We thought it was fitting that Tony receive some public recognition for his services to the industry over many years. Congratulations from Rare Spares on behalf of the entire community,” he added. Tony held an interest in cars and motorsport from as far back as he can remember. His father was a panel beater. “I grew up tinkering with cars with mates until my early twenties and I even still have a collection of various car magazines I was reading back in the 1960’s. I then forayed into racing, competing in Formula Ford, and it was here that I joined my first club to get my licence to compete,” said Tony. He also started working for Shannons Insurance and over his twenty year career with Shannons, was regularly exposed to the world of automotive clubs and car shows and built up a network of friends and acquaintances across the country. In Tony’s dealings with the clubs, it became apparent that not only were there challenges around vehicle regulations and existing vehicle ownership, but there seemed to be no unity or discussions amongst clubs to find common solutions. “Street machines, historic vehicles, 4WDs, motorcycles and hot rods all shared common problems and were affected by government regulations so we had the chance to pool a large number of people and clubs together,” explained Tony. “It became clear that if these individual clubs and groups could come together and form a larger representative body, the community would have much more clout in drawing the attention of the government. I fortunately had the contacts through my career at Shannons and worked on getting the groups talking to each other,” he added. The Australian Confederation of Motor Clubs was then formed and with the help of Alan Hay who was able to introduce Tony and the club to various politicians, initial steps were made in representing the concerns of the automotive community at government level. “More recently, we have been fortunate to have Mr Duncan Gay, the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, that has been another influential figure in moving our interests forward. Progress was not immediate but I am proud of the fact we have been able to setup the Vehicles Standards Working Group that discusses issues around regulations and topics such as exhaust noise, permits and engineering certificates and things of this nature.” “It was a combination of the ACMC’s work and the Minister that have brought about the working group that is providing a direct line with government. My proudest achievement is that we are not adversarial now with government departments. We have a solid relationship with the politicians and have a permanent place to discuss our interest via the Working Group,” said Tony. A conditional registration is now on its way for modified cars with more flexible regulations. This will be music to the ears of many in the community and is a perfect example of Tony’s work being realised to the benefit of the entire community. 

We had a blast at Summernats 29!

22. January 2016 09:50 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)
The streets came alive with party vibes and Exhibition Park pumped to the sound of horsepower as the Street Machine Summernats, proudly supported by Rare Spares, returned to Canberra.Thursday’s annual Summernats City Cruise welcomed the ‘Nats to Canberra with an expanded number of cars parading in front of thousands of locals and automotive fans. “Thursday was fantastic, the City Cruise had around 250 cars rolling down Northbourne Avenue and crowds lined the streets, it was fun to watch,” said Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez.Despite being day one, the crowds were busting for some burnout action, with the Last Chance Shootout Wild Card Burnouts attracting a 12,000 strong audience for the tyre-frying action, with Aussie rockers You Am I providing Thursday night’s soundtrack.Friday saw the Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine, the Dyno Dynamics Horsepower Heroes Shootout plus the Liqui-Moly National Burnout Eliminations. The Top 60 show cars were on display in the Meguiar’s Pavilion as well as the Great Uncover, where never seen before marvels were unveiled for the first time.Later, DJ Brooke Evers entertained the crowd and she was followed by the new prince of Australian Hip Hop, Seth Sentry. Saturday had a packed schedule with the Liqui-Moly National Burnout Championships, Dyno Dynamics Horsepower Heroes Shootout and Federal Tyres Miss Summernats, which was won by Canberra local Amanda Beattie.The Rare Spares Legend award was presented to Tony O’Donnell by Rare Spares General Manager David Rayner. This prestigious award in the form of an exclusive gold helmet was created to recognise the lifetime contribution to the street machine world. Tony enters the Legend Hall of Fame alongside eight other past worthy winners. As the sun set, the party really got going with the Supercruise in the main arena, followed by a Fireworks spectacular set to a DJ Black Summer soundtrack. The fun continued with the iconic Hoodoo Gurus.Sunday was finals day with the awarding of the most coveted prize in street machining, the Street Machine Summernats Grand Champion, which went to John Saad in his stunning 1972 Mazda RX-3. The winner of the world’s most prestigious burnout competition, the Liqui-Moly National Burnout Masters went to Andrew Poole in his Holden Commodore after a tyre shredding extravaganza that had the crowds going wild.The Dyno Dynamics Horsepower Heroes Shootout overall winner was Jake Edwards in his yellow turbocharged Holden Torana that achieved an incredible 1782hp at the rear wheels.The surprise addition of Red Bull Racing Australia's six time V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup also thrilled the huge crowds with some fantastic burnout action.Entrant numbers came to a huge 1952, the largest yet for the event, with crowd numbers in excess of 100,000.“What a fantastic event. We’ve had beautiful weather, amazing cars and terrific crowds for what was another great Summernats event,” said Mr Lopez.As the proud supporter of Summernats 29, Rare Spares had a major presence with our own Rare Spares Exhibitors Pavilion. And it was at the Rare Spares stand that the crowd took advantage of some amazing offers including a massive 20% off everything plus free shipping.On top of that, customers had the opportunity to go into the draw to win the ultimate motorsport weekend, known as ‘Rare Experience!’ where tickets to the 2016 Clipsal 500 with flights and accommodation for two were up for grabs. Lucky winners Mark and Jane from New South Wales were thrilled to hear they had won this money can’t buy Rare Experience. Also at the Rare Spares Pavilion, fans were also able to check out none other than John Bowe’s race winning Touring Car Masters Holden Torana and RSP Director David Ryan’s famous FJ Holden.Summernats 29 has proved once more that it is the premier automotive event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and Rare Spares are once again proud to have supported such a great and iconic Australian event. And just like car enthusiasts right across the country, we can’t wait for Summernats 30!  

Radial Tuned Suspension

24. December 2015 10:56 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Ask an Australian car lover who invented RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension) and the answer will be Holden. However, ask an American car lover who invented it and they would likely say Pontiac. In truth, the facts are a little hazy. In America, Radial Tuned Suspension started in the mid-70s when radial tyres were becoming more of a standard feature on GM cars, and Pontiac tuned the spring rates and shock valving to better match the type of tyres going onto their new cars. In Australia, the first cars to get RTS were the Holden HZ Kingswood SL, Premier, Wagon and GTS. The HZ hit our roads on October 1977, so from that perspective, the victory goes to our friends on the other side of the Pacific. RTS, according to Holden was “an important new design which integrates all suspension components into one finely tuned system.” Assistant Chief Engineer Peter Hanenberger from GM Germany headed up the RTS program in Australia and explained RTS was designed to “reduce vehicle roll when cornering, improve straight ahead stability and improve vehicle handling and load carrying ability on all types of road surfaces.” Effectively it was designed to match all the suspension components because Holden was also moving from bias ply tyres to steel belted radial tyres. Changes included wider wheel rims, revised body mountings as well as the chassis. Front and rear stabiliser bars helped control lean, the four coil springs were deeper, front suspension control arms were redesigned and moved, control arm bushings were reengineered and new, larger diameter shock absorbers were carefully tuned to match the RTS system. All this was designed to create Holden’s claim of “exceptional road holding”. RTS was so important to Holden, it ran an advertising campaign. It showed a Kingswood SL against a BMW in an evasive manoeuvre display to demonstrate how well it compared against one of the best handling European sedans. A Holden Premier was then pitted against a Mercedes Benz on a bumpy and undulating road, which showed our home grown hero had just as good a ”smooth, flat ride” as its more prestigious and expensive competition. With the Europeans easily dispatched, the advertisement then turned to Holden’s domestic nemesis. (No prizes for guessing who that might be!) This involved a typical highway exit situation where the RTS equipped Kingswood easily out manoeuvred the competition around a tight bend in wet conditions, showing how predictable the Kingswood SL corners as compared with the other car. That other car, without RTS, was of course unable to follow the Holden at the same speed. So there you have it. RTS was designed as “a system, through a sophisticated program of engineering research, designed for Australian conditions, so as to enjoy confident, relaxed driving, mile after mile.” Of course, RTS may have been cutting edge at the time, but suspension systems have certainly moved on and will continue to evolve. It’s certainly interesting to see the progress that’s been made over the last four decades of automobile development, that’s for sure. 

Rare Spares Rare Specials at Summernats 29

Hot off the press! Rare Spares is going to make your Summernats trip even better! For the 29th edition of this iconic event, Rare Spares is offering a HUGE 20% off* plus FREE Shipping for all orders placed and paid for at the Rare Spares stand during the entire event period! PLUS Rare Spares are giving you the opportunity to go in the draw to WIN the ultimate motorsport weekend, known as ‘Rare Experience!’** How does tickets to the 2016 Clipsal 500 with flights and accommodation for two and a weekend to remember sound? All you have to do is see the team at the Rare Spares stand in Pavilion C to enter! Rare Spares will also be showcasing none other than John Bowe’s race winning Touring Car Masters Holden Torana and RSP Director David Ryan’s famous FJ Holden all weekend. To take advantage of these great offers and help us in celebrating Summernats and the classic cars we love, join us at the Rare Spares stand for Summernats 29! The coveted Rare Spares Legend award will again be presented with a new industry legend being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Who will it be this year? Find out on Saturday night in the Main Arena. *excluding vouchers and items already on special and 20% off full RRP of Rubber Kits ** For full terms and conditions see the online entry form at the Rare Spares stand. Permit No: ACT TP 15/08101

The BJR Transporter

Back in the 60s, if you went car racing, chances are you would fill your race car with everything you needed for the weekend. What you couldn’t fit would be strapped to the car somehow, before you hit the road and drove it and yourself to the race track to go racing. Oh how times have changed! This week, we’re going to see how a modern professional V8 Supercar Race Team, and to be more precise, the Brad Jones Racing Team, moves their expensive, powerful and precious cargo around this huge country of ours to compete in the fiercely competitive series. Team BOC’s "B-Double" transporter will typically travel about 50,000km per year. This amount of travel in this behemoth of a truck won’t get you much change from $100,000 in running costs alone. Up front and pulling the total load of about 58 tonnes is the Freightliner Argosy prime mover. At $375,000 new, the Argosy needs to deliver and fortunately, it does in spades. It gives drivers all the creature comforts needed for long days on the road. The 110 mid roof cab has the lot. From the Ezyrider II high back air suspension driver’s seat with lumbar support, 51” double bed sleeper compartment and air adjustable tilt and telescopic steering column, to dual air conditioning, cruise control and a chrome and leather steering wheel. All this luxury sits over a 15L, 560HP engine and 18 speed manual gear box. As impressive as the Freightliner Argosy prime mover may be, what it pulls is just as impressive. The two trailers are each split into two compartments. Trailer A is used for carrying the heavy equipment when on the move and transforms into the engineers briefing room and office when parked up for race meetings. Trailer B’s front section is used as the driver's area where they can store their helmets, driving suits and race gear. The mid-section is the workshop area and includes a lathe, vice and work benches and the two race cars travel nose to tail on ramps above the workshop area. The underbelly of the B trailer features 16 lockers loaded with spare gear boxes, diffs, jack stands, car set up equipment and consumables. The entire outfit, worth about $1.5 million each, (and BJR run two!) is packed to the rafters with enough parts to completely rebuild the cars, including spare engines, gear boxes, diffs and every other body part. At a race and you need a spark plug? Have no fear. Each transporter carries ten boxes of them! How about a wheel? Well, each transporter has 64 spare wheels and tyres, just in case. Need some tools to change a tyre? Will 15 fully equipped tool boxes, along with gas canisters, air jacks and panel beating equipment help? An impressive setup I think you would agree. Next time you’re watching your favourite driver spraying champagne in celebration on the podium, now at least you’ll have more of an idea of how they got there. 

Rob's Torana

7. December 2015 12:00 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)
We here at Rare Spares eat, sleep and breathe classic cars. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion. So, what do we do when we leave the office after helping Rare Spares customers restore their cars? We restore our own of course. Our Graphic Designer, Rob Mackey, is a case in point. His beloved 1971 LC Holden Torana two-door that still presents in its factory Rally Red hue and Sandalwood trim, is not just a car to him; it is part of the family. Originally sold in 1971 from Reg Hunt Rhodes in South-East Melbourne, Rob stumbled upon “Cherry” on eBay some 34 years later during the Easter weekend of 2005. With $2000 in hand (and $2000 in his shoes!) he eventually purchased the car from a well-known drag racer in Thomastown for $3800 and jumped straight on the boat back to Tasmania. Still running its original 161 motor and trimatic gearbox, Rob quickly swapped this out for a 186 that would eventually make way for the worked 202 red motor that still powers the old girl to this day. Not content with a standard 202, many of the original parts have been replaced. Rob rebuilt the motor himself into a classic Hot Street Combo including all the usual upgrades, such as; Stage 3 Yella Terra head, Roller Rockers, aftermarket cam shaft, Starfire rods, extractors, electronic ignition and a 38DGMS Webber carburettor off a V6 Ford Capri. Next on the “to do” list was the transmission, which was changed from the original column shift Trimatic transmission to a floor shift Celica five speed gearbox. At the same time the original 2.78 Banjo was replaced with a lower ratio 3.55 limited slip version. The suspension has all been upgraded with improved springs and shocks, coupled with front and rear sway bars to firm up the ride, while the brake booster, callipers, rotors and 13X6 Sprintmaster wheels were upgraded to LJ GTR XU-1 spec. Inside, there’s a Bond half alloy roll cage. Rare Spares came to the rescue for the next addition, supplying the reproduction steering wheel and centre console from a LC GTR Torana. Cherry sat then for several years while Rob worked and travelled overseas. Rob, who does all the mechanical work himself, recently cut some rust out of it and welded in new bits which came from RSP and is getting painted as I type this blog. Due to the odometer, which is off a 1973 LJ Torana, only going to 99,000km, its mileage is a bit of an unknown, but Rob thinks he’s done about 30,000km in it in the past 10 years. Cherry is Rob’s third Torana, and is bringing it back over from Tassie to its spiritual home of Victoria in January. His first  car was a 1970 LC S four door, followed by a 1973 LJ SL four door. (Guess where his current speedo came from?) Rob says he’ll never sell this one, even though he estimates it is worth in excess of $20,000. He would like another one… but also always had a bit of a soft spot for early Monaros. Rob is also an long-time member of the www.gmh-torana.com.au  internet forum which is proudly supported by Rare Spares.

Mount Panorama Bathurst

The regional city of New South Wales, Bathurst, is home to the widely renowned Mount Panorama Circuit - one of the most fearsome motor racing circuits in the world. The track, which is a public road for most of the year, holds the Bathurst 12 hour motor race each February and the Bathurst 1000 motor race each October. Mount Panorama is open to the public on non-race days, however if you intend on bringing out your inner ‘Lowndes’, unfortunately a strict speed limit of 60km/h is enforced (sorry!). Unique in its rural setting, the remarkable track is 6.213km long with a 174-metre vertical difference at its highest and lowest points. In its infancy, dating back as early as the 1960s, the race was dominated by the smaller cars until the development of Ford’s 289 cubic inch V8 Ford Falcon GT. The smaller cars were no match for the big V8 which dominated the Mount on the long up hills and down hills, ultimately changing the face of racing at Mount Panorama forever. Subsequently, manufacturers country-wide attempted to tame the mountain with their vehicles, as success at the track would greatly increase the car’s image and credibility in the Australian marketplace, thus increasing sales. Ongoing rivalry at this time between Ford, Holden and earlier Chrysler bred the era of our much-loved muscle cars including the Holden Monaro and Torana, the Ford Falcon GT and later GT-HO Super Falcon, and Chrysler's Pacer and Charger. It was also not long after where we were introduced to the late legend Peter Brock, crowned “King of the Mountain” after going on to successfully capture nine Bathurst 1000 victories. Since 1999, Ford and Holden have lead the pack by miles in the Bathurst 1000, with crowd numbers rapidly increasing each year… and this year was no exception. An enormous 201,416 fans joined the adrenalin rush and excitement of Bathurst, the second highest ever attendance topping last year’s crowd of 195,261!

The Vehicle Proving Ground

Have you driven a Ford or Holden that’s less than half a century old? If so, before that car made it to the showroom and then eventually to your good self, the first models of its type off the production line would have gone through testing, just to make sure everything was tickety-boo. But we're not talking about a couple of spins round the block and a “She’ll be right mate.” On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth. Australia’s first automotive testing and development complex was Lang Lang, 95 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. The 2167 acre site was purchased by Holden in 1955 with the first testing of the FC in 1957. Still in operation, Lang Lang runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week apart from public holidays. The high security facility consists of 44 kilometres of roads, consisting of every conceivable road condition, from the high speed banked ring road to skid pans and ride and handling tracks with different levels of surface, grip and road noise. And those roads and tracks have been well used, with over 111 million kilometres of testing being accumulated over the years. The recent VF Commodore had racked up over 1.1 million kilometres of testing alone. Besides the massive network of test roads is also Australia’s most comprehensive vehicle safety and emissions laboratory. Ford’s version of its vehicle proving ground lies near the You Yangs, 55 kilometres to the south-west of Melbourne. The 2300 acre site which began operation in 1965 consists of over 80 kilometres of the same type of torturous roads and tracks found at Lang Lang. Cobblestones, corrugations and Belgian blocks are par for the course along with a low speed track, a high speed ride and handling course and sealed and unsealed gradients and skid pans. The fun continues with a salt and mud bath, an environmental exposure area, crash test site, climatic test chambers, anechoic dyno chamber, high speed wind tunnel and finally, an emissions testing laboratory. And what proving ground would be complete without a high speed test road? Well, Ford has that covered too with a 4.8 kilometer high speed circuit. So next time you take your pride and joy for a ride, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that it’s been well and truly put through its paces before getting anywhere near a dealership showroom.

Special Colour Vehicles

6. November 2015 16:21 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)
What’s your favourite colour? How many times have you been asked that question? Learning about colours would probably rank as one of the first things we learn as children. And we use colour so much, we don’t even know we are. Whether we know it or not, colour is an important part of our lives. Companies also know this and take advantage of the subconscious benefits it can provide. It wasn’t that long ago that a major confectionary company actually tried to copyright a shade of purple as its own. So we know companies place great emphasis on colour and its importance to corporate identity. Back in the 60s and 70s, big companies cared so much, they had the likes of Ford and Holden produce extremely limited numbers of vehicles painted in what could only be described as their ‘corporate colours’. Shell Oil, one of the biggest companies in the world, is easily identified by its yellow and red colour scheme. It had two XW GT-HO Phase2 Falcons painted in what is now known as ‘Shell Yellow’. Gallaher, a major U.K based multinational tobacco company wanted its then corporate logo colours, silver with red stripes, to adorn 8 Ford Falcon XR GTs in ‘Gallaher Silver’. Companies a little closer to home also started to get in on the act. Brambles, then only a transport and logistics company had its trucks painted in a unique shade of red. Que Ford with its four ‘Brambles Red’ XY GTs. And Waltons, a large department chain store founded in the 1950s, had a distinctive blue as part of its corporate identity. Here’s where Holden enters the fray with its ‘Waltons Blue’ Torana. And there’s many more examples of corporate colours infiltrating car manufacturer’s colour choices. From ‘Agfa Orange’, ‘Fanta Orange’ and ‘Ansett Blue’ to ‘Royal Automobile Association Yellow’ and ‘C.U.B Brown’. Chances are that if you were a company back in the 60s and 70s with a distinctive corporate colour, a Ford or Holden was driving around the country proudly displaying it for you.

Safety In TCM

30. October 2015 09:04 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)
The Touring Car Masters in recent years has become one of motorsports most loved categories. The series transports fans back to the heady days where names like Beechey, Moffat, Brock and Johnson were the gods of the racetracks. As much as the drivers were considered gods, the cars were almost on the same level. Moffat’s ‘Coke’ Mustang and Brock’s SLR 5000 Torana are now considered motorsport royalty and hold a very special place in the pantheon of great racing machines. But are today’s TCM cars just like the cars of the old days? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Really, the answer is “kind of”. Yes they look exactly the same, tough and brutish, with an engine note that makes motorsport fans run to the fence to see what’s making such a beautiful sound. However, one big difference between the old and new is the safety aspects of the cars... and thank goodness! Back in the heyday of the 60’s and 70’s, racing drivers took their lives into their hands every time they strapped themselves into their machines. While today’s racing is still dangerous, drivers stand a much better chance of emerging from an incident relatively unscathed. Some of the cars in TCM generate well over 600 horsepower and can easily get up to speeds in excess of 250kph, so although we might like these cars to be exactly as they were back in the day and stay true to history, keeping the driver safe is a priority. Today’s TCM cars feature cutting edge safety systems such as full roll cages as opposed to 4 point cages or indeed nothing at all and full side intrusion beams to keep the driver safe instead of just a door skin that came from the factory. Carbon fibre race seats are now used instead of the unsupported seat that came with the car from the showroom and of course 6 point race harnesses instead of a lap sash belt... and that’s just the cars! Drivers are now better protected by their racing attire too. Three layer flame resistant NOMEX race suits with fire proof gloves, boots, socks and underwear, carbon fibre helmets attached to head and neck restraint systems (HANS Device), are all a far cry from cotton race suits, no gloves, loafers and open face helmets which were the only available options at the time. So next time you’re at the track, make sure you go by the TCM pits and take a closer look at the cars of yesteryear with the technology of today and tip your hat to those brave souls of the past because back in its heyday, racing really was DANGEROUS!