Adelaide 500 recap

The 2018 Clipsal 500 is the season opener for the category now known as Supercars. This year's event was history making on four fronts: seeing the Audi Sport LMS R8 cars race in Australia for the first time; the debut run for the new SuperUtes category; the first major event for Holden in 2018 after ceasing manufacturing in 2017; and the debut of the Opel sourced ZB Commodore in a trim never to be seen on Aussie roads.

 

It's the twentieth time that Adelaide has hosted the opening round and the street circuit, renowned for its ability to bite any driver that blinks, didn't fail to do so again.

 

The program is always full at the Clipsal, with the headline act backed by a solid group of support categories including Improved Production cars, Carrera Cup,  Stadium Trucks, the Dunlop Super 2 series (formerly known as the Development Series), and the Touring Car Masters.

 

New to Australia were the Audis. There's a strong competition base in this category and they joined the Australian racing scene for the first time after successful seasons in the South East Asian region.

 

But it was eyes on the ZB Commodore as the new bodyshape hit the track for the first time on Friday. Fourteen of the ZB shapes ventured out and, as expected, it was Jamie Whincup in the Red Bull team that topped the timing chart first up.

 

However Whincup would also be the first in the Commodores to hit the walls in the notoriously fickle street circuit and necessitating some frantic behind the scenes repair work overnight. Qualifying had Kiwi gun Shane van Gisbergen top qualifying and he'd go on to win the weekend's races.

 

The Commodore itself has seen much debate, has divided purists and general punters, and with a non V8 powertrain and FWD/AWD inside its hatchback styled body in the road-going versions, further, in many opinions, takes Supercars away from its production based roots.

 

The Stadium Super Trucks have proved to be a crowd pleaser since they commenced racing in Australia, with the 2018 season seeing a famous Australian name in the charts. Brabham. Matthew Brabham.

 

Proving that petrol runs deep in his veins, Brabham would close out the weekend with a first and two thirds. The weekend was not without incident for the high flying machines, with one driver hitting a wall just before the finish line after a collision with another driver. Somehow the vehicle made it across the line in a cloud of smoke sans a rear wheel.

 

As always, the Touring Car Masters, or TCM, put on a show and Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe didn't hold back in his racing efforts. JB qualified third in the Wilson Security/PAYCE Holden Torana SL/R before setting the fastest lap in race one, but traffic early in the race had the Torana fall to mid field.

 

Race 2 was a better effort, with Bowe finishing second, and just three tenths behind Steven Johnson, son of his old racing partner, Dick. JB also managed to set the faster race time than Johnson and closed to within a tenth of the fastest ever race lap for the TCM at Adelaide, set by one John Bowe in 2017 at 1.29.28.

 

The Torana continued its form in Saturday's third race, taking the checkered flag a full half second ahead of Johnson in his Mustang, and again knocked on the door of the outright race record. Sunday's fourth and final race for the TCM category saw Johnson failing to finish, but Bowe avoided any entanglements to take out the race, winning the weekend, and seeing just two one hundredths of a second needed to break his own race record, setting a 1.29.30.

 

As a Rare Spares ambassador, John Bowe is an ideal fit for the Touring Car Masters as well, as Rare Spares have parts and panels for the kinds of cars that race in this spectator friendly category. You can find out more about Rare Spares at www.rarespares.net.au

 

Were you at the Clipsal 500? What did you think? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

 

Future Classics – 5 Australian cars with investment potential

It seems to be every couple of weeks we hear of a mint condition A9X Torana, Monaro or GT-HO hitting the market for a monumental price, and they don’t seem to be having many issues finding a new home. So, with the Australian car manufacturing industry officially closed for business, which cars of more recent years will replace the classics of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in another 50 years’ time? Well, in this article we take a look back at the cars produced in Australia since the turn of the century, and create a very short list of cars that might just be considered a classic in the future.

Ford Falcon FGX XR8 Sprint

The FGX XR8 Sprint was the most powerful Falcon ever produced, thanks to a 10 second overboost feature that elevated power specs from 335kw/570nm to a mammoth 400Kw/650Nm in short bursts. It was a final farewell for a model that had a long and illustrious history on both public roads and the race track. The final Falcon was a fantastic representation of what the Australian car manufacturing industry was capable of; not only was the car blisteringly fast, it was comfortable, looked good inside and out and rivalled many of its European counterparts in refinement. It will hardly be a surprise when the value of this car increases over time.

Holden CV8Z Monaro

The CV8Z Monaro was the final offering of the reincarnated Holden Monaro in the 2000s. It featured a beefed up 5.7 litre LS1 producing an impressive (for the time) 260kw. While the car was essentially a coupe version of the SS Commodore, the more compact appearance made the Monaro appear a considerably more sporty option than its full sized brother. Prices are already rising on good condition CV8Z’s, with the 6-speed manuals the pick of the transmissions.

HSV GTSR Maloo

The HSV GTSR Maloo is the fastest V8 Ute in the world, and as such will hold a special place in the heart of local car enthusiasts for many years to come. Truly one of a kind, the supercharged V8 ute features a host of goodies including 20inch forged alloy wheels, oversized brakes, bi modal exhaust, an impressive suspension setup and a torque vectoring differential. All these goodies result in a ute that stands out from the pack, creating a monster that looks just as home on the worksite as it does cutting laps at a track day. A cult favourite among young males, the Maloo will remain a desirable purchase for the foreseeable future.

Ford Tickford TS50 T3

In general, the AU Falcon was not a terribly attractive car, and thus nor was it a terribly popular car, so by the time the BA come along most were happy to see the back of the oddly proportioned AU. The shining light, however, of the AU range was undoubtedly the Tickford enhanced range of TE50, TS50 and to a lesser extent TL50 Falcons. The pick of the bunch was the TS50 T3, which featured a hand built 5.6 litre V8, lowered suspension, and an all at the same time outlandish but understated body kit. While power may have been down compared to its direct competition – the HSV Clubsport; an absurd amount of torque ensured that in real world situations, the TS50 could bat well above its average. While the AU may not be popular across the board, among die hard Ford fans, it doesn’t get a lot better than this!

HSV W1 GTRS

How could we end this list with anything other than the W1? Less than a year since it was announced, all 300 have been snapped up and the prices are blowing out on the open market, with some selling for around a hundred grand over their $169,000 asking price! With the Corvette ZR1 derived LS9 and performance mods everywhere you look, this car is a true track monster, producing an enormous 474Kw and 814Nm. Expect to see a number of these HSV’s tucked away under wraps, only to surface many decades from now with a truly ridiculous price tag.

Do you have any cars that you think should be on this list? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

John Bowe 2017 Touring Car Masters season review

Rare Spares Brand Ambassador and our long-time friend John Bowe has just wrapped up his 2017 Touring Car Masters campaign at the Newcastle 500 over the weekend. In what was a hard fought series Bowe and his Torana SL/R 5000 spent many rounds at the front of the pack and even led the series coming in to the final round. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as he could do little to stop the hard charging Steve Johnson on the tight streets of Newcastle’s East End. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a quick look at Bowe’s incredible season.

The 2017 TCM season kicked off way back in March at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and for Bowe the season started with a bang. Bowe was challenged early in both races 1 & 2 before recording victory in both, while a 6th in race 3 was enough to guarantee him the round victory. Round 2 at Winton saw one of the biggest accidents in the category’s history and unfortunately Bowe was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Race 1 went swimmingly for the number 18 Torana as Bowe worked from 23rd on the grid to take the win, a monumental effort around the short Victorian circuit.

Race 2 was where it all went pear shaped for a large number of the TCM field as Jason Gomersall span in front of the following pack as he rounded the 2nd corner on the first lap. Gomersall span into the path of Eddie Abelnica and his XB Falcon before being collected by Mark King’s Camaro, leaving both cars with very heavy front end damage. The ensuing pack had nowhere to go, with a number of cars finding each other or the surrounding walls. Bowe was sandwiched in the middle of all the action and the resulting broken ribs ensured a non-start for race 3 and a short stint in hospital for the fan favourite.

Bowe was able to make a speedy recovery from the massive shunt to line up only four weeks later at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. It wasn’t quite a fairytale comeback as a gearbox issue left the Torana in a plume of smoke early on in the first race. Some quick work was done to the Torana and he was able to make it back on to the circuit for races 2 & 3, finishing in 2nd and 1st respectively.

On to Queensland Raceway and after recording his 90th victory in the TCM category Bowe left the event sharing the championship points lead with Adam Bressington. The ‘paper-clip’ as it’s known in the industry provides a unique challenge to competitors with a number of difficult breaking sections wreaking havoc on the TCM field. Sandown provided a unique challenge to competitors as race 1 was run in terribly wet conditions. The conditions provided a shuffle in the running order with Bowe finishing in 8th. Race 2 was abandoned while Bowe was out in front after Gomersall parked his Torana in the tyres at the end of the back straight. Wrapping up the weekend with a 2nd in race 3, Bowe was able to take the lead in the championship over his rivals.

While Bathurst wasn’t a bad weekend for Bowe by any stretch of the imagination, the event began the late season run of Steve Johnson. Scoring 4,2,2 finishes throughout the weekend was enough for Bowe to maintain the championship lead, however closing quickly was Johnson who took 2 of the 3 victories throughout the weekend at the mountain.

Bowe entered the final round with a 5 point lead, however was only able to manage 3rd in both races, making up ground throughout the first half of the track but struggling to keep up with the big Mustang of Johnson and the Camaro of Bressington down the more open sections of the track. The championship went to Johnson who won both races and the image of Bowe congratulating Johnson post-race will be go down as one of Australian motorsports great moments of sportsmanship.

As well as TCM racing, Bowe has kept busy piloting a number of different race cars throughout the country this year at a host of different events. Take a look at his Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the incredible cars John gets behind the wheel of – very impressive!

What was your favourite moment of the 2017 TCM season? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

When Records are Smashed, Australia’s Most Expensive Torana

The year is 1977, the first Star Wars movie, ‘A New Hope’ had just hit the screens, and a trip down to the local Holden Dealership for a shiny new Torana SS A9X would set you back $10,800. Fast forward 40 years and a savvy car enthusiast just hit the jackpot, selling his iconic Aussie hatch in original paint with only 120,000k’s on the clock for a cool $260,000.

In front of a record crowd of classic car enthusiasts at Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers auction on the Gold Coast in January, bidding was short and sweet, an un-named online bidder was victorious less than 5 minutes after the car was rolled into the auction house, purchasing the car and able to bask in rare Holden glory.

So what makes this Torana so special, you may be asking? The A9X was an option available for the SL/R 5000 sedan and SS hatchback LX. Only 405 were produced for sale, 305 four-door and only 100 two-door hatches between August and December 1977.

The idea behind the A9X Torana was to homologate the model for racing in the Australian Touring Car Championship, where Holden was in need of a car that could keep them at the top of the podium. And successful they were; the A9X dominated the ATCC from the get-go with wins throughout the tail-end of the 1977 season, and a complete domination of both the 1978 and 1979 series. Not to mention huge wins in the 1978 and 1979 Hardie-Ferodo 1000, including a mammoth 6-lap win by Peter Brock and Jim Richards in ’79 capped off with a then lap record on the final lap of the race.

Features such as a 10-bolt Salisbury diff, rear disc brakes, the option of a Borg Warner Super T10 four-speed transmission and approximately 100 other differences to the regular LX Torana ensured the A9X was special enough to justify its racing pedigree.

Handling was significantly improved with a steering rack mounted solidly to the front crossmember and radial tuned suspension. A9X’s were clearly identified by their rear facing, bonnet-mounting carburetor induction scoop.

The A9X has gone down in history as one of Australia’s greatest muscle cars, and with scarce few produced, it’s fantastic to see an example in such pristine condition go to a new home!

Have you ever owned an A9X Torana? Or perhaps you’ve owned a different Australian Classic that’s appreciated in value over the years? Head on over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comment section below!

The Future is now – Holden’s Concept Cars

With Holden closing down its production in Australia in 2017, not only will remember classics such as the Torana and the Australian built Commodore, we will also miss the impressively forward thinking and sometimes crazy concept cars. Holden have been particularly active in designing concept cars throughout their history, with many capturing global attention and in some cases knocking on the door of production. In this article we take a look at four of our favourite Holden concept cars from the last 50 years.

The EFIJY

The ‘EFIJY’ was built by Holden in 2005 as a tribute to the iconic FJ and successfully mated the past, present and the future in to one timelessly impressive looking package. Although not technically built in the same vein as many concept cars, which often indicate technology and design of the future, the EFIJY was met with a similar reception. Designed and built afterhours as somewhat of a passion project, the car was built on a modified Corvette chassis and featured a thumping 6.0 litre V8 producing 480kw/ 775nm. The car was so well received it was even the recipient of the 2007 Concept Car of the Year award in Northern America, proving that the EFIJY’s timeless good looks appealed to a global audience. Despite high demand from millionaires such as sheiks and sporting stars, Holden made the decision to cap production at one, with the EFIJY currently residing at Holden’s headquarters in Port Melbourne.

 

 

The Hurricane

Built in 1969, Holden’s ‘Hurricane’ was Australia’s first glimpse into what the future of motoring may look like. Featuring a rear-view camera, an early form of satnav, inertia reel seatbelts and one of the most interesting door opening mechanisms ever seen, the Hurricane was a long way ahead of its time. A mid mounted 193kw 4.2 litre V8 coupled with some very aggressive aerodynamics ensured the remarkable concept car was also quite zippy for the time. In 2011, a refurbished Hurricane was unveiled at Melbourne’s Motorclassica event after 6 years’ worth of repairs had been undertaken to restore the Hurricane to its former glory.

 

 

Torana GTR-X

This featherweight Torana concept was born in the 1970’s with serious intentions of eventually going into production. Featuring the 186 from the XU1 driving power through a 4 speed manual transmission, this 1043kg prototype reached a top speed of over 200km/h during early testing. The car also featured pop up headlights, four wheel disc brakes taking many design cues from the Lotus Esprit of the day. The GTR-X featured in promotional footage and brochures, confirming Holden’s interests of production. However, it wasn’t to be as higher ups decided that the GTR-X was best left in concept form, leaving many a Holden fan to wonder what could have been!

 

 

Coupe 60

When the Holden Coupe 60 was unveiled in 2008 at the Melbourne International Motor Show questions were quickly asked as to whether or not it may herald a new era of Monaro’s on Australian roads. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Holden ensured fans the Coupe 60 was nothing more than a concept. Featuring a b-pillar less design, massive 21-inch centrelock wheels and an E-85 friendly 6.0 litre LS2 V8, the Coupe 60 was the stuff of Holden fans dreams. Showing that the concept car wouldn’t have been too far out of place on the race track, the vehicle featured a rear diffuser, front splitter and a carbon fibre spoiler. The Coupe 60 was received so well at the initial unveiling that other manufacturers even halted their own planned vehicle announcements in fear of being overshadowed.

What has been your favourite Holden concept car? Head over to Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.