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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

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

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.

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!

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

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

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  internet forum which is proudly supported by Rare Spares.