Identity Crisis – Rebadged Cars

Rebadged or badge engineered cars have been common place on public roads for decades, with manufacturers and in some cases governments searching for ways to efficiently manage automotive production. In this article we take a look at four examples of rebadging that have been relevant to the Australian automotive landscape over recent years.

VF Holden Commodore SS – Chevrolet SS

Back in 2013 at Daytona Speedweek , a VF Commodore sporting Chevy badges was unveiled to the US public to a mostly positive reception. It’s wasn’t the first Commodore to be exported and rebadged oversees, however it will be the last. Since the late 90s, Commodores have been exported overseas in various guises. From the Chevrolet Lumina in the Middle East and South Africa, to the Omega in Brazil as well as Vauxhall and Pontiac variants in the UK and US respectively, the Commodore has been rebadged significantly over the years. The Chevrolet SS in question struggled sales-wise in the US, with the lack of a manual option drawing much criticism amongst the very automotive enthusiasts the car was intended to target. A shame really, that the Americans never truly had the chance to appreciate one of Australia’s most loved cars.

Nissan The Ute – Ford Falcon XF

The Ute was one of the simplest rebadge’s you are ever likely to see, with everything from the indicator stalk mounted horn to the grill and steering unmistakably Ford. Even under the Nissan logo on the front grill was a Ford oval shaped space. The Nissan Ute was sold as a result of the model sharing scheme known as the Button plan in the mid-late 80’s. The idea of the plan was to rationalise the Australian automotive industry by inducing car manufacturers into sharing the platforms of key cars.

Toyota Lexcen – VN Holden Commodore

Another rebadged model as a result of the Button plan was the Toyota Lexcen, which was named after Ben Lexcen, the designer of the American Cup winning ‘Australia II’ and its innovative keel design. Kind of ironic that a rebadged car, with little innovative design features, was named after a man who designed one of the most iconic innovations in Australian sporting history, isn’t it? Anyhow, the Lexcen was better received by the Australian public when compared to the Nissan/Ford of above and the Holden/Toyota model sharing scheme would last until 1997. Differences were mostly limited to the grill, badges and some minor interior changes.

 

Toyota 86 – Subaru BR-Z – Scion FR-S

Sold in Australia as the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BR-Z, and in the US at one point as the Scion FR-S, this rear-wheel drive bundle of fun is one of the more popular modern day badge swaps. Featuring design work and product planning from Toyota and engineering and production from Subaru, the 86 was Toyotas attempt at re-entering the ‘drivers car’ market, whilst the BR-Z was Subaru’s attempt at creating a rear-wheel drive to complement its felt of all wheel drive options. With a four-cylinder engine that whilst zippy won’t set the world on fire, the ‘Toyobaru’ has become a favourite amongst sports car enthusiasts looking for a solid ‘bang for your buck’ option.

 

Do you own one of these rebadged cars? Or maybe you own another rebadged ‘classic’. Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below

Sinful Conversions - Engine Conversions That Cause a Stir

In the automotive community, we’re no strangers to engine conversions. Whether it be a neat LS-swap or dyno warping Barra-swaps, we tip our hat to clean and well-engineered engine transplants. However, not all engine conversions make the automotive gods happy, some are downright riot-inducing, with enthusiasts from all corners kicking up a stink. In this article we will take a look at a handful of controversial engine conversions.

Ford Barra Powered HG Belmont

Searching for something a little different from the tonne of LS-swaps around these days, this owner decided to take the ever-popular Barra engine and slot it into the early 70’s Holden. With a sub-11 second quarter mile time the old “Holden” will towel up many popular sports cars, whilst still being used by its owner as a daily driver!

 

Skyline GTR Powered Torana

Dropping powerful engines in smaller cars has been a passion of many a person since the dawn of time. As automotive enthusiasts, we can’t help but look at a car, bike or boat and wonder what we can do to make this faster? Well, in the case of the LX Torana, dropping a twin turbocharged RB26 under the hood is sure to make the trip from A to B in quite a hurry! There are of course a few Holden enthusiasts who are none too happy with a Japanese heart beating in the Aussie legend.

 

LS1 Powered XY Falcon – XYYNOT

This XY Falcon will surely cause a stir amongst both Holden and Ford fans, with one of the most iconic Falcon’s receiving a Chevrolet heart. Featuring a Harrop blower, the cammed, near stock LS1 is producing a solid 458 rear wheel horsepower and is used throughout the Australian drifting circuit!

 

1967 Pontiac Firebird with Toyota Prius Hybrid System

Coming completely out of left field is this Prius-powered 1967 Pontiac Firebird. Enough to make any rev-head cringe just a little bit, this engineering marvel has set the owner back just over $10,000US to date and is expected to be on the road by 2019.

 

LS1 powered Porsche 911 

Porsche fans – turn away now! Replacing the iconic flat six in the rear of this 1986 911 is the tried and true LS1, resulting in a horsepower gain of over 170hp! From a purely performance point of view, when you take into consideration other upgrades including wheels, tyres and suspension, this Porsche is a bit of a weapon. However, the purists still cringe at the thought of anything other than the flat six gracing its engine bay.

Have you heard of any crazy engine swaps that make purists cringe? Or maybe you’re in the process of your own engine swap? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

The Future Of The Auto Industry Down Under

We spoke to Rare Spares Ambassador and Racing Legend, John Bowe about the future of the automotive industry in Australia and the end of Australian car manufacturing.

“I wouldn’t class myself as an expert, but I’ve had a full motoring life and I think it’s quite sad that we’re not going to have any manufacturing here anymore, because some of the cars that Ford and Holden have produced have been seriously iconic Australian cars,” said Bowe.

“All these problems started years and years ago and have been perpetuated by the following governments, so it was inevitable that this was going to happen.”

"Once Holden and Ford have declared their hands, Toyota ultimately wouldn’t have any choice, because the fringe industries which unfortunately are going to suffer a great deal of job loss, can’t sustain with one manufacturer. It’s like a stack of cards unfortunately. I have a lot of compassion for the people involved.”

“It’s my opinion that there will still be growth in the Australian car market and companies such as Ford and Holden and Toyota will become more profitable.”

“There will still be an aftermarket. In the last five to seven  years there has been a bit of a change in our culture about which type of cars we drive. We have a massive choice of cars in Australia, so the aftermarket will always be there. It’s a changing scene for sure, but there will always be an aftermarket.”

“Rare Spares will probably see some growth, because cars that have been Australian and have a place in people’s hearts will be being restored more, so I can see this market going up.”

“I think the tariff will probably stay as it is. I can’t see much changing, except for higher unemployment rates. The government is charged with developing other industries that these people can be employed in.”

The car industry isn’t going to be there anymore and it makes me sad, but I’m not surprised.”

 “The level of interest in restorations now is increasing because everyone that loves cars realises that we aren’t going to have Australian Falcon’s or Commodores, and the cars of the 80’s are now going to become restorable.”

“Where it used to be the 50’s and 60’s and then slowly became the 70’s, this is going to bring forward the 80’s cars like the XE Falcons and VK Commodores. People will be restoring them because they are part of our history.”