Pikes Peak 2017 Wrap-up

Known as one of the most extreme racing events in the world, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb roared into Colorado once again in June, with highly accomplished drivers and riders making their way from all corners of the globe to have a crack the famous ‘Race to the Clouds’. While in its current paved form, the course isn’t quite as insane as it once were (check out the iconic short film ‘Climb Dance’ to see what old school Pikes Peak was all about), there’s no doubting the task at hand is only suited to the supremely talented and/or the slightly crazy. Taking the win in 2017 was Romain Dumas, a French Porsche factory driver and former Le Mans 24 hour winner. For Pikes Peak he took the wheel of his Norma MXX RD Limited to take victory for the third time in four years. Despite the impressive victory and a respectable time of 9 minutes and 5 seconds, Romain was left somewhat disappointed in the run and explained that mechanical issues put a stop to having a run at Sebastien Loeb’s incredible record run (8min13sec) in 2013. “It’s difficult to put words to this victory. The primary objective was to win, which is what we did and it’s never easy here. Never. I even questioned whether I’d get to the summit....We got first place, but we wanted so much more that I’m unable to feel completely satisfied today” Said Dumas. While one-off prototypes are undoubtedly incredible, at Rare Spares we can’t help but cast our eyes through the results to find how the classics went! In a throwback to the old school Pikes Peak days, an Audi Quattro S1E2 drew cheers the whole way up the mountain on its way to a respectable to time of 12 minutes and 18 seconds. The 44 year old Porsche 911 RSR driven by Christopher Lennon found itself inside the top 25 outright and 3rd in the open class with a seriously impressive time of 10 minutes and 50 seconds. Arguably the crowd favourite was R J Gottieb in his amazing sounding ’69 Chevy Camaro who was able to tame the mountain in a tick over 11 minutes to wind up inside the top 35 outright. Australia’s best hope of victory in the car category came in the form of Tony Quinn, who piloting his 633kw VR38DETT-powered Ford Focus bodied machine came within 3 kilometers of setting a lighting fast time before his brakes gave way. Although disappointed, the failure hasn’t dampened Quinn’s spirits who has stated he will back to take on the mountain again next year. The most impressive Australian result this year belongs to Sydney born Rennie Scaysbrook, who riding a brand new KTM Super Duke 1290 R finished second outright in the bike category. By doing so, Scaysbrook became only the 3rd man in history to break the 10 minute barrier on a motorcycle. The Pikes Peak Hill climb holds a certain prestige, with competitors and spectators alike respecting that this mountain is a special beast, capable of wreaking havoc on those who take it lightly. Many have stated that the incredible Sebastien Loeb/Peugeot record from 2013 may never be broken, and in fairness no one has come even close yet. However, with a number of incredible custom built hill climb machines popping up across the world, it’s unquestionable that Pikes Peak is sure to retain its incredible reputation long into the future.

Aussie Cars that never were

When we think about Aussie cars, our minds drift towards the Commodore, the Falcon, or the Territory. However, what about those Aussie cars that didn’t quite go as far in the public domain as these classics? Australia has produced some awesome cars that didn’t quite reach the lofty heights laid out in planning. In this article we will take a look at three Aussie cars that didn’t sell in the intended quantities, but still hold a special place in Australian automotive history. Ilinga AF-2 The Ilinga (aboriginal word meaning ‘distant horizon’) AF-2 was designed by Tony Farrell in partnership with Victorian businessman Daryl Davies. The intention for the Ilinga was to be a high-performance luxury coupe utilising aluminium body panels over a steel chassis, using a modified Leyland/Rover 4.4 litre V8 to provide the power. Before running into financial difficulties, two prototypes were built and orders were taken, however the 1970’s oil crisis ensured the closing of Leyland Australia, meaning the Ilinga had lost its engine supplier. One of the prototypes lives in the carpark entrance of the Melbourne Museum, whilst the other is nowhere to be found!   Giocattolo Born in 1986, the Giacattolo was the brainchild of Paul Helstead and F1 engineer Barry Lock. With plans to build Australia’s first Supercar, Helstead and Lock took an Alfa Romeo Sprint and dropped a 5 litre Walkinshaw Holden Group A V8. Producing 220kw and 500Nm, the car was a rocket, capable of powering the Giocattolo from 0-100 in under 5.5 seconds while having an electronically limited top speed of 260kph. With upgraded tyres, brakes, transmission and a supremely high tech suspension package, the Giocatollo was akin to a Go-Kart on steroids. The $80,000 price tag however was a bridge too far for consumers, and production ceased after only 3 years and 15 units were built. To take a look at the article we put together on the Italian/Australian pocket rocket earlier in 2017, click here. Joss JT1/JP1/Vanguard With more comeback tours than John Farnham, what started out as the Joss JT1 was supposed to be Australia’s answer to iconic supercars such as the Enzo Ferrari and Lamborghini Murcielago. It has never eventuated unfortunately, as numerous attempts to get the project off the ground including renames to JP1 and eventually Vanguard have fallen flat. Featuring a 6.8 litre V8, the 940kg supercar was fast enough to achieve 0-100kph in less than 3 seconds and run the quarter mile in a tick under 12 seconds in stock trim. Only 1 Joss has been built to date and the outlook looks bleak, however we’ve been in this position before only for Joss to announce that the project has been fired into life again! So who knows, maybe there’s still hope for the Joss JT1/JP1/Vanguard? Have you spotted any of these low production Aussie cars on the road? Or maybe you’re the proud owner of one of the very few remaining Giacattolo’s? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

The $312,000 Monaro

A pristine condition 1970 Holden HT GTS350 Monaro has been sold at Lloyds Auctions on the Gold Coast last month for a whopping $312,000. Eclipsing the previous record of $310,000 set in March, this ‘pride of the fleet’ becomes one of the most valuable Monaro’s ever sold at auction. Features include impeccable Platinum Metallic paint, a mere 119,000km on the odometer, a two speed powerglide automatic transmission and of course a 5.7 litre 350 Chevrolet engine. With the sale of this iconic Australian car, we decided to take a look back at the HT GTS350 Monaro and discuss why it holds a special place in the hearts of Australian motoring enthusiasts. The HT Monaro was introduced in 1969 to much fanfare and whilst the minor design changes including the bonnet scoops and bold bonnet stripes were well received, it was the introduction of the 350 Chevrolet that got the punters excited. Not only was the GTS350 a winner with the public, it left a fair mark on the Australian racing scene as well, where it experienced almost immediate success on the track. In 1969, in its first year under the management of Harry Firth, Holden Dealer Team GTS350 Monaro’s took out the top and third step of the podium at the Hardie Ferodo 500, piloted by Colin Bond/Tony Roberts and Peter Brock/Des West respectively. The Monaro would also go on to take out the 1970 Surfers Paradise 12 hour race driven once again by Bond and Roberts as well as the 1970 Australian Touring Car Championship driven by Norm Beechey. Beechey’s feat was made even more impressive as a result of an 8th place finish at Calder Park, a DNF at Warwick Farm Raceway and a DNS at Symmons Plains. The Monaro would go on to race a further two years in the ATCC before the ‘supercar scare’ of 1972 rendered the Monaro ineligible for the newly developed Group C production class. Whilst the HK GTS327 Monaro was a great car and may have been the first to take up the fight to the GT Falcon, it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head in terms of usability. It was the GTS350 which propelled the Monaro to levels at the very least equal to that of the Falcon GT. Power outputs were comparable between the Holden and Ford marquees whilst acceleration and top speed figures were almost identical. The GTS was a second faster to 50mph, however only a shade faster to 100mph (20.1 to 20.6), ensuring the Holden v Ford rivalry raged on. Significant suspension improvements were made to the GTS350 over the regular GTS models with performance in mind. Stiffer shocks, a heavy duty stabiliser bar and rear radius rods ensured a much sportier ride whilst bearing a significant improvement over the harsh ride of the HK GTS327. The end result was a car suitable for the track whilst also being completely practical for day to day use. Interestingly, the GTS350 in manual guise was the first Holden that could be ordered with rally wheels. The Monaro will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Holden fans, with the iconic coupe representing some of the most iconic designs in Australian automotive history. At Rare Spares, we love to hear your stories of Australian classic cars; do you own an early model Monaro? Or maybe you have your eye on a particular classic? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments below.

Driving for a Cause – Classics cars at the Variety Bash

The Variety Bash was founded in 1985 by none other than Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, after he invited a few mates to make the trip from Bourke in far western New South Wales all the way up to Bourketown in northern Queensland. Along the way teams would recreate the Redex Car Trials of the 1950’s whilst raising money for the Variety Club of New South Wales, a charity which to this day still raises money for children with special needs. There were a few rules for participants; all cars had to have been manufactured pre-June 1966, have no performance modifications and meet a number of safety considerations such as carrying a certain amount of water, oil and be prepared for the harshest of Australian conditions. Other ‘rules’ were fines for things such as not having enough fun, cheating (or not cheating enough!), going too fast or not fast enough and taking the event too seriously. At the end of the day, the event isn’t a race; it is an enjoyable fundraising event to help those in need! Dick Smith’s car for the first event was a 1964 EH Holden, which he went on to use in all Variety Bash’s up until 2001, throughout which time he raised upwards of $2 million. The old Holden has had almost all of its parts replaced at one time or another, with the exception of the driver’s side door which remains original! The car now resides in the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in Sydney after a broken front chassis rail brought an ending to its bashing career. A tradition that has stuck since the events early days is that of weird and wacky car designs and competitor costumes. From a Mad Max V8 Interceptor replica to Hippy Vans and even Limousines, the Variety Bash has seen it all throughout the years! A quick look through the Variety Bash’s cars for sale section of their website gives you an idea of the sort of vehicle required for such a journey. Highlights include a 1976 Cadillac Grandeur Opera Coupe, a 1991 Ford F150 Ambulance, a tiger striped Mercedes Benz 450SEL and a 1984 Rover SD1 V8. None of which would generally sound suited to a cross country road trip, although fit the theme that’s made the Variety Bash a truly iconic Aussie event. Whilst the event was originally founded in New South Wales, Bash’s now take place around all states and territories of Australia, each with their own unique travel itinerary. To get involved, head over to the Variety website and start your fundraising!Have you ever participated in the Variety Bash? Or are you in the process of putting together a car for the 2017 event? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us all about it!

Frozen in Time – The Best Aussie Car Museums

The Australian public has long had a fascination with classic and exotic automobiles. Classic Aussie icons such as the Monaro and Falcon as well as international masterpieces produced by icons such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz have always drawn a crowd! So where can the general public go to catch a glimpse of automotive history in Australia? There are a number of classic car museums sprawled across our great land; Holdens, Fords, old cars and new, there is sure to be a museum that fit your tastes! In this article we will take a look at five car museums in Australia that have caught our eye. Gosford Classic Car Museum Just over an hour north of Sydney you’ll find one of the biggest and most expensive car collections in the world. Housing over 450 vehicles, the ex-Bunnings Warehouse is practically heaven for any car enthusiast. Owner Tony Denny made his fortune selling a large percentage of his share in AAA Automotive, Europe’s largest used car network and spent a decent chunk of it compiling this museum of epic proportions. Featured cars include a LaFerrari, a super rare Onyx Black GHTO Phase III, a 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S, a DMC DeLorean and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Denny has a knack for spotting future classics, so be sure to keep an eye on the forever changing list of cars gracing the museum floor!     The Fox Classic Car Collection Lindsay Fox is a name familiar to most Australians, but did you know he owns a spectacular line-up of over 50 prestige cars? The Fox Classic Car Collection is located in Docklands, Victoria and is home to Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes Benz marquees. The collection has been acquired over 30 years and includes cars previously owned by Ringo Starr, Bing Crosby and Bob Jane, among others. The Fox Classic Car Collection is open 3 days a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. National Motor Museum The National Motor Museum is home to approximately 200 cars as well as a fully restored 1920s Petrol Station. Located in Birdwood, South Australia, the National Motor Museum houses a number of cars that have shaped Australian society such as the 1908 Talbot and Tom Kruse’s 1946 Leyland Badger. Not restricted to just cars, the museum also houses an impressive fleet of motorcycles and more memorabilia than you can poke a stick at! The National Motor Museum is open every day from 10am-5pm. National Military Vehicle Museum Located in Edinburgh, South Australia, The National Military Vehicle Museum was originally built to provide the vehicles with undercover storage whilst providing the public with a place to view them. There are a number of vehicles from various different eras however the majority of the collection is from WWII. This is the ideal place if you want to touch up on your Australian defense history or take the kids along to have a look at some truly impressive war vehicles. The National Military Museum is open every Sunday and on Public Holidays. Lost in the 50’s Lost in the 50’s is a true step back in time. With over 10,000 items on display including more than 30 of the most impressive 50’s American cars in Australia (maybe even the world), Lost in the 50’s is a must see for all automotive enthusiasts. Notable cars include a Batmobile, DeLorean and Eleanor as well as chrome fenders for as far as the eye can see. Located in Edgeworth, New South Wales The museum is only open on certain days throughout the year, so be sure to plan ahead and give them a call! Do you own a classic car in showroom condition? Or do you have your own story of one of the many car museums across the country? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments below!

Power Boost - Taking a Look at Two Iconic Aussie Turbo’s

Over the years, Australian manufacturers have been mostly known for producing family sized rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated six and eight cylinder vehicles. However, throughout the years, both Holden and Ford have dipped their toes into turbo-charging technology, providing affordable cars with oodles of power and a plethora of modification options. Whilst there have been a number of turbocharged vehicles from Australian manufacturers, none have captured the hearts and minds of the public quite as much as the VL Turbo and the XR6 Turbo. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at these turbo powered favourites and discuss what made these such successful models. Holden Commodore VL Turbo With unleaded petrol coming of age throughout the 80’s, Holden battled to find an engine appropriate for their new VL model that could deal with the new fuel. So, when they turned to Nissan and sourced the Skyline bound RB30 six cylinder for the new Commodore, Australian car enthusiasts were understandably excited. Excitement levels would reach their peak when it was announced that a turbo would be coupled with the RB30, producing a powerful 150kw. Not only was the turbo of significance, improvements were also made in the form of front disc brakes, 15 inch wheels and FE2 suspension, making the VL turbo the affordable modifiers dream. The Australian Police Force also took note as they adopted a modified version of the VL Turbo as their new pursuit vehicle. These VL’s were denoted “BT1” and featured a number of modifications such as different pistons, upgraded four wheel disc brakes, Corvette front calipers, larger oil pump and a knock sensor. These modifications not only gave the Police a vehicle capable of chasing crooks down a highway, they allowed officers to perform breaking manoeuvres out of reach to the average car of the time. VL Turbo’s and particularly BT1’s are worth a pretty penny on the used car market these days and you’ll be doing well to find one that isn’t modified to the gills. However, VL Turbo’s still contain a certain level of “wow” factor that will buy you a level of street cred that’s out of reach to a current model Commodore. Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo  In 2002, the BA Falcon XR6 Turbo brought upon a step outside of the Falcon’s recent conservative comfort zone and was a Falcon truly deserving of a performance car reputation. By bolting a Garrett turbo onto the 6-cylinder ‘Barra’ engine platform, the XR6 turbo was able to produce a lively 240Kw/450Nm whilst giving its 8-cylinder competition a serious hurry-up. Fast in stock form and a tinkerers dream, the Barra platform was able to handle a wild level of modifications. Fast forward 14 years and Ford has released its last iteration of the XR6 Turbo – the FGx XR6 Turbo Sprint. Producing a mind bending 370kw/650nm in overboost form, which is only activated at full throttle for a maximum of 10 seconds; the XR6 Turbo Sprint is the fastest 6 cylinder ever produced in Australia. Based on the previous FPV F6 model, features of the new Sprint include a new lower airbox, carbon fibre intake and a freer flowing exhaust. Other specifications include updated suspension, new Pirelli tires and a recalibrated ZF automatic transmission. Despite a somewhat lackluster interior, which has remained largely unchanged since the original BA, a 0-100 time of 4.7 seconds and a quarter mile time “in the 12’s” is enough to ensure Ford enthusiasts aren’t at all bothered by the interior. The end result is quite possibly the best ‘bang for your buck’ Australian car ever built. These two cars will most likely go down in history as the two greatest turbocharged Australian produced cars ever made. Do you own either of these two iconic fan favourites? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about your turbocharged pride and joy in the comments below.

5 of the Best Australian TV Car Commercials

Australia has been home to many fantastic car ads over the years, with manufacturers pushing to appeal to our unique mannerisms and sense of humour. In this post, we look at 5 of the best car commercials that have hit Australian’s TV screens over the years. Subaru Outback – Made For Australiana - 2015 This clever Subaru Outback ad, which was based on the original Australiana skit written by Billy Birmingham, received extremely positive reviews when it hit screens in 2015. The narrator expertly twists the pronunciation of Aussie towns, animals and phrases to piece together a 90 second clip outlining an epic Subaru Outback road trip. The ad has received well over 2 million views on YouTube, cementing it as one of the most popular Australian Car ads in history.   Football, Meat pies, Kangaroos, Holden Cars - 1970’s This 1970’s Holden ad is arguably Australia’s most iconic car ad. To this day, the tune is still familiar to anyone whose ears have been graced with the chant of: “Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars”. The aim of the ad was to entrench Holden Cars as a brand that was to be associated with all things universally considered Australian. Featuring clips of iconic Australian locations such as the Sydney Opera House intertwined with shots of the era’s Holden cars; this ad is an interesting look back at Australia in the 70’s.   Honda HR-V - Dream Run - 2015 The Honda HRV ad titled “Dream Run” is one of the most well produced Australian car ads of the last 5 years; featuring everything from a transformer like HR-V to a talking dog. This ad takes viewers inside the lucid dreams of main character ‘Brian’, who at every step is being told to ‘wake up’. Fortunately for Brian, magically a Honda HR-V appears and he’s able to get away from everything and everyone who’s trying to end his incredible adventure. “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics serves as the perfect backing track to this weird and wacky ad.   Toyota Hilux – Baby Come Back - 2011 Tragedy strikes in this 2011 ad when a man’s Hilux roles off a cliff and into the ocean below. The incident results in the character slipping into a deep depression, as he’s unable to cope with the loss of his beloved Ute. As the grief proves too much and the man walks alone along the beach at the scene of the accident, he is amazed to stumble across his washed up Hilux. Unbelievably, the Hilux is unscathed and starts without issue. This ad was well received as it not only gave a funny portrayal of the ‘tough-ness’ of Toyota’s Hilux, it didn’t take itself too seriously, which is a trait many of the target audience could associate with.   Holden Ute - Thunderstruck - 2001 Although maybe not as creative or cutting edge as some of the others on this list, this ad succeeded in capturing the dreams of many of the car’s target market. The ad portrays a SS Ute cutting loose in a deserted field, resulting in a huge tornado and storm. With AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” playing in the background, this ad was successful in outlining that the SS was a car not to be messed with. Interestingly, this ad was produced pre-hoon laws, at a time when many manufactures were pushing the limits of what was allowed to be shown in TV ads. What is your favourite Australian TV car commercial? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know below in the comments section.

Roaring Heart – The Aussie Powered Alfa

In 1986 Paul Helstead and Formula 1 engineer Barry Lock set about building one of Australia’s first supercars; a rear-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Sprint. The initial plan was to pair the Sprint body with a mid-mounted 2.5 litre Alfa Romeo V6, coupled with a ZF 5-speed transmission and Brembo brakes. This hot coupe was to be named ‘Giocattolo’, which translates in Italian to ‘toy’. Shortly after testing began, the Giocattolo team was to face issues in guaranteeing a steady supply of engines from Alfa Romeo, thus the search began for a replacement power source. Halstead and Lock were to eventually decide on the Holden Walkinshaw 5.0 litre V8 Group A engine as the new power plant. Producing 220Kw/500Nm, the new engine package was a rocket, capable of powering the Giocattolo to 0-100kph in just 5.4 seconds, whilst having an electronically limited top speed of 250kph. As a result of the upgraded tires, brakes, transmission and a high tech Formula 1 style rear suspension setup, the Giocatollo possessed handling characteristics not dissimilar to a road registered go-kart on steroids. The interior of the Sprint was also modified in the Giocattollo build process. The standard seats were replaced with leather Recaro’s, a Momo steering wheel was added and the dash was modified to fit the extra gauges. Other interesting features were the new centre console with integrated handbrake lever, power windows, air conditioning and even central locking. As a result of the $80,000AU price tag, the Giocattolo did not sell particularly well, with only 15 of the Italian-Australian supercars were built, including 3 prototypes. In 1989 the Giocattollo closed its doors after 3 years of production, finding that it was not the right time for such a car in the Australian market. Of the 15 built, car number 007 was destroyed in an accident in 2001, whilst one other is unaccounted for. Car number 007 was originally owned by the Brisbane Bears Australian Rules Football Club and was painted in the club’s colours; with a gold exterior and maroon interior. Car number 011 is also believed to have been owned by Lindsay Fox at one point in time, whilst the Queensland Police were even considering using Giocattolo as their pursuit car! All known remaining cars are reported to be in great condition and have been known to change hands for well over the original $80,000 price tag. What is your favourite uniquely Australian car? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Cars and Australia in 1955

19. February 2015 14:34 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Sixty years ago, Australia was a much smaller, simpler nation. World War Two was well and truly in the past and the baby boomer generation were well and truly blossoming. In 1955, the Australian Prime Minister was Robert Menzies,  HMAS Melbourne was commissioned into the Australian Navy and the controversial  Snowy River Hydroelectric Scheme started producing power for the first time. The number one song on the Aussie music charts in 1955 was ‘Hold My Hand’, by Don Cornell and Nat King Cole. The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix was held at the former Port Wakefield Circuit and was won by Jack Brabham in a Cooper Bristol. The Australian car scenery certainly looked very different to that of today. In 1955 there were 1.4 million passenger vehicles registered in Australia.  As a comparison that figure is now over 13 million. For every 1,000 people in Australia in 1955, there was only 153 cars on our roads.  That has obviously changed with a much higher  568 cars per 1,000 people now grid locking roads across the country. We wonder what it might be like in another 50 years? There was less people on our roads, but safety of roadways and vehicles was in contrast to now, quite primitive.  Seatbelts were not required to be worn until 1970 and the total road toll in 1955 was 2042 people. That is per capita nearly triple the current road toll statistics. The FJ Holden was becoming the car of choice for many Australians, having only been released the year previously.  With a 2.2 litre straight six engine, the FJ produced around 65hp and would go on to be the iconic car it is today.   Ford was offering the Ford Customline and also the Fordomatic vehicles, which were both powered by a Ford V8 and were a much larger car than the FJ Holden. It was around 1955 that Drive-in theatres were starting to be introduced and no doubt many Aussies would have been taking their cars down to the local drive in theatre for a night out. Times change, but it’s always good to look where we have come from and enjoy years gone by. Luckily, with Rare Spares help, many of the cars from this era are still proudly kicking on. 

Aussie Concept Cars That Took On The World

23. July 2014 17:03 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
With the demise of the traditional Australian motor shows and the sad reality that Holden and Ford will be ceasing manufacturing in Australia, it is an end of an era. Not only will car production cease, but sheer Aussie ingenuity and engineering know how will no longer be channelled into world beating, cutting edge Australian built concept cars. Cars which have over the years proudly showcased what Aussie car manufacturers can do given the opportunity and a clean sheet of canvas. Concept Cars have nearly been in existence as long as the car itself. Concept Cars work in three ways. They push the engineering envelope, showcase and market the manufacturer’s talent and also capture the public’s imagination. They are the ultimate projects for automotive engineers to be part of. As a celebration of what Australia has been able to achieve in terms of Concept Cars, we take a look at three of Holden’s most famous examples, which were recently displayed together for the first time at the Meguiar’s MotorEx motor show in Melbourne.   "This is the first time these three concept cars have been together in the one place at the one time” said Richard Ferlazzo, Design Director GM Holden.  The three cars in question are ‘Efijy’, ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Coupe 60’, which are all very different and all very special in their own right. Around the world, the 1960’s and 70’s were known as the golden era in concept car design and dozens of those incredible creations are still a sight to behold today. Searching on the web can quickly dissolve the hours with the stories and images surrounding these cars. Australia has always had its own home grown, world class engineering talent and this is reflected in Holden’s first and arguably most spectacular Concept Car, known simply as ‘Hurricane’. To say this car was a technological tour-de-force in its day was an understatement. Hurricane was primarily a test bed to explore these new technologies and was never intended for production. Many of its then futuristic features are now taken for granted in the automotive world. It was fitted with oil cooled four wheel disc brakes, inertia reel seat belts, digital gauges, a climate control system and an early GPS system known as Pathfinder. Equally impressive is the rear view camera that was connected to an early TV screen for occupants to see behind them. This technology only started to appear in the mainstream automotive world more than three decades later. The Hurricane is a wedge shaped machine with supercar lines and is a fibreglass body over a steel space frame. The car is extremely low with a total height of only 990mm.  The engine is a mid-mounted 4.2ltr V8 fitted with a four barrel carburettor and makes an estimated 260hp.  One of the most spectacular features of the car is the way occupants enter and exit the vehicle. A single piece hydraulically operated canopy moves up and forward and resembles something closer to a fighter jet or a futuristic car from a sci-fi movie. Also on display were two more modern Holden creations. ‘Efijy’ is the name that would come to mind first if someone asked you to name a Holden Concept car and it is not hard to see why. Efijy is a beautiful blend of 1950’s classic Hot Rod styling with a modern power plant and technology, which has resulted in international awards and acclaim the world over since its debut at the 2005 Sydney International Motor Show. It even won the coveted Hot Rod magazine’s 2006 Hot Rod of the Year and was also the North American Concept Car of the Year in 2007. Efijy was built in house at Holden with the assistance of many of Holden’s key suppliers and was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FJ Holden. The car is a pillar-less coupe, painted in a stunning House of Kolor Soprano purple. Efijy is powered by a supercharged 6.0-litre V8, producing in excess of 600hp. It rides on air suspension and features some very-trick, electronic instrumentation. The remaining concept car on display at the event was ‘Coupe 60’ which was built as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Holden releasing the 48-215 (FX Holden). Based on the Australian VE Commodore, Coupe 60 is both a road and race hybrid concept. It is another two-door pillarless machine, with striking lines, including lengthened and re-sculptured doors and a raked windscreen.   Supporting the race car theme is carbon spoilers, front and rear diffusers, along with huge 21-inch centre-lock wheels outfitted with smooth racing slicks. Under the hood is an E85-friendly, 6.0 litre LS2 V8. It even has a side exit exhaust and monstrous Brembo brakes if you were in any doubt as to its credentials. Sadly we will not see any new Australian based concept cars from Holden or Ford in the future, however Australian engineering and ingenuity is alive and well and Australian’s should be proud of what has been accomplished over the years by both Holden and Ford on the concept car front.