Touring Car Masters 2018 - Previewing the final rounds

The Australian historic racing car category, the Touring Car Masters, is definably Australia’s premium historic racing cars group. The guidelines are comparatively simple: have three driver categories and have cars of a pre-1976 era. Trackside watchers will see Chevrolet Camaros, BOSS Mustangs, and entrants from Australia’s own automotive vaults of history, the Valiant Chargers, Ford Falcon GTs, and Holden Monaros.

The driver regulations cover ProMaster for professional drivers, ProAm for part time “let’s have fun” drivers, and ProSports. This is something different in allowing a car to be entered by different contestants in order to try and gain extra points for the car in a championship sense.

There are some BIG names in the TCM as they’re known; Phil “Split-pin” Brock, Glenn “The Babyfaced Assassin” Seton, Andrew Miedecke, Jim Richards, Steve Johnson, and Rare Spares Ambassador John Bowe.

The category itself is now in its twelfth year having being born in 2007. The 2018 season has eight rounds and is part of the Supercars overall presence. This year kicked off in Adelaide and has completed five rounds so far. There’s three more rounds to go and all three will be part of the Supercars enduros: Sandown for September 14-16, Bathurst over the weekend of October 4-7, and then the final round in Newcastle for the November 23-25 weekend.

In the overall standings its John Bowe on top, having won three of the five rounds thus far. Steve Johnson is tapping on his rear bumper, with 959 points, just 18 shy of Bowe’s 977. Former V8 Ute drivers Adam Bressington and Jason Gomersall are in third and fourth, with all four in the ProMasters driver group. Fifth overall goes to Cameron Tilley, well known for his driving exploits in a Falcon GT-HO. Cam also leads the ProAm driver standings, with respected Production Touring Cars pilot Jim Pollicina leading the ProSports.

Unless both Bowe and Johnson have shockers over the next three rounds, allowing Bressington, Gomersall, and Tilley a sniff of top two success, the gap they have over the third placed Bressington, currently on 837 and 97 ahead of Gomersall on 744, it’s likely either of these heroes from the DJR historic stable will claim the top step of the podium at the end of the 2018 season. Former Mustang driver Bowe has been driving a Holden Torana once owned by fellow racer Charlie O’Brien in the 2018 season, a car featuring a permanent tribute to the late Jason Richards. Johnson has taken over the wheel of the car Bowe raced and sold a couple of years ago to his good mate Tony Warner. The car is unsurprisingly known as “Mustang Sally”.

Of the 2018 season so far Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe has a few words. “The cars are sensationally difficult to drive. In some cases there’s over 700 horsepower and only 15 x 8 inch wheels and tyres! No wonder they need a bit of caution.”

John has stated that he feels the category’s driving standards may need some scrutiny, “These old classics are way more expensive to fix than modern cars. There’s no doubting that the TCM is popular with the spectators and TV audiences but no one enjoys seeing these cars wrecked.” John himself has been on the receiving end of some of the driving standards he feels needs scrutiny, which makes his 2018 results all the more remarkable.

What’s your thoughts on the Touring Car Masters? Let us know on our Facebook page in the comment section below this article!

The Holden Monaro 427C - Australia's Homegrown GT Monster

The Australian automotive industry is an oddity in the global scheme of things. A small buying population, the most brands per head of population, and innovations not seen elsewhere, make it virtually unique.

Although we weren’t the first to build a car with a hardtop and two doors, we certainly made some great ones. Ford, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Holden all have cars that are memorable and one that stands out was the Monaro 427C. 

Designed, engineered, and built in Australia, this car was intended to be a track weapon and race in the Bathurst 24 Hour. The first of these races was set to run in late 2002, meaning the development of the car, slated to run in 2003, had to be brought forward. 

The heartbeat of the 427C was its US sourced 7.0L or 427cid V8. With the Holden Racing Team turning down the offer of developing the machine, Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM) took the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R engine, a Monaro body, and the responsibility of running the 427C as a race car. 

The car would later be a controversial one; the race would attract cars from outside Australia such as Lamborghini’s Diablo GTR, Ferrari’s 360 N-GT, and the monstrous Chrysler Viper ACR. All of these cars would race with the same engine they would come off the production line with. However, the Monaro at the time came with Chev’s fabled 350cid or 5.7L V8, and therefore would be ineligible to run. However, the organiser of the race, which would come under the umbrella of a racing group called Procar, allowed the Monaro to be run with the bigger engine to be seen as more competitive with capacities such as the 8.0L V10 in the Viper.

As the race was going to be run under the then current GT regulations, GRM had to design a body kit to suit both the regulations and the aerodynamics of the VX Commodore based two door. Using the V8 Supercars design as a basis, GRM fitted a wider rear wing that sat below the car’s roofline, as per the regulations. A similar front air dam was fitted to the front, and underneath the 427C utilized a number of components that could be found on a Supercar. 

A technically minded casual observer would see a Hollinger six speed manual transmission, wheels of 18 x 11 and 18 x 13 inches, MacPherson strut front suspension and a trailing arm rear, bolted to coil springs and thick anti-roll bars. The engine was said to be good for 600 ponies (447kW) and would be bolted into the front of a car weighing 1,400 kilograms. 

All up the Monaro 427C would be 4789mm in length, run a front and rear track of 1559mm/1577mm, and roll on a wheelbase of 2788mm. The aero package provided plenty of down-force and made for a stable on track racer. 

Raced at the 2002 Bathurst 24 Hour by a team of four drivers, being Garth Tander, Nathan Pretty, Steven Richards, and Cameron McConville, the car was also being touted as being available as a road car. The race car itself would prove to be strong, durable, and a race winner. Although despite suffering a flat tyre and a collision with another car, the car would ultimately win in its debut race by 24 laps.

As a road car, it was potentially to be powered by a 433kW version of the 427cid engine. But, as a business case, the numbers simply didn’t add up and would result in a mooted buy price of $215,000 being out of reach of its intended market. Just two road going cars, and just four race cars, would be built.

The Monaro 427C would go on to compete in the Australian Nations Cup Championship in 2003, and the Bathurst 24 Hour race in the same year. A second race car had been built by then. Driven by Peter Brock, Jason Bright, Todd Kelly, and Greg Murphy, the car would win by just 0.3035 of a second. Tander, driving the 2002 winning vehicle, was thwarted in a last sector charge by a yellow flag thanks to a car close to the racing line.

The 427C would race in 2004 and see a third chassis completed, before the Nations Cup category collapsed due to fiscal issues. With regulations reverting to GT Championship rules in 2005, the Monaro 427C was deemed ineligible. Of the race cars, one is with a private collector, one is in the Bathurst Motor Museum, and little if anything is known of the locations of the others.  

Rare Spares D’Alberto Car Collection

With great wealth comes great responsibility. That’s what Bill Gates said. He should know, having been one of the all time wealthiest people. But define wealth? Is it purely a monetary value? Or can it be a little philosophical and be of something untouchable, like the love a parent has for a child? Perhaps that wealth can be something others covet and envy.

If it’s this, then the D’Alberto family certainly had wealth. This came in the form of a collection of motor vehicles that, in some cases, had barely a thousand kilometers worth of driving. The Echuca, Victoria, based family owned a car dealership group, spread across four locations in Victoria and New South Wales, and had amassed a considerable amount of cars over the past decades, including a 1927 Chevrolet ute, a 1927 Buick Tourer, a 1921 Model T Ford, and an absolute gem in the shape of a 1988 VL Walkinshaw Group A SS. Build number 333, if you don’t mind.

Never registered it had still somehow covered some kilometers, but just 1308 of them. Part of the collection of cars that was auctioned off by Mildura based auction house Burns & Co, its new owner handed over $305,000 plus auction fees.

The auction itself wasn’t just about moving rolling metal however. Plenty of boxes full of marketing material and posters were available, such as the evolution of Holden from the 1960s to the 1970s, Peter Brock and Holden Racing Team items, driving lights, user manuals for vehicles, trim pieces, and spare parts.

It’d be fair to say, however, that it was the astounding collection of cars being offered that attracted the most eyeballs. Cars such as a 48/215, a Corvette Stingray, even a Sydney Olympic Torch Relay fitted out Commodore were there for the asking.

A 48 year old LC Torana GTR went for an eyewatering $165,000, a similarly aged HT Monaro with a naturally aspirated 5.0L engine lightened the wallet for $170,00, while some more modern muscle in the form of a 1992 VN Group A SS saw $210,000 against its name.

The D’Alberto brothers certainly had an eye for quality and made sure that as many as possible of the cars were in as best a condition as possible. Hence the responsibility part of the opening quote. A quick look through the online catalogue showcases shiny and well maintained cars, including a lovely 1970 Monaro GTS with a 186ci straight six cylinder. With the speedo reading just 313 miles travelled, it sold for $240,000.

Do you have your own piece of Australian motoring history in your garage? Tell us about your pride and joy in the comments section on our Facebook page.

Keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Rare Spares by following us on social media, and by tracking news via our blog.

Time with a Legend

25. November 2014 12:47 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

When it comes to custom car creation and engineering for street machines and hot rods, Rod Hadfield and his Castlemaine Rod Shop is one of the best in the business, revered for the quality of workmanship and amazing machinery coming out of the shop. Rod is a true legend in the scene and there is not much he hasn’t seen or done when it comes to car modification, so he sat down with Rare Spares to discuss his love of cars. 

Rod’s passion started at a young age.

“As soon as I was old enough to pick up a screw driver or any other tools I was making bits and pieces and if something was broken, I would pull it apart, figure out what makes it work and then fix it. Living in the country on a farm meant you had to learn to rely on yourself to fix things or you would be stuck.”

Hadfield feels that he had opened Pandora’s Box when he learnt to weld.    

“Once you can weld and join metals together, that is the secret, you can create nearly anything you can think of.”

Before Hadfield opened the Castlemaine Rod Shop, he had been tinkering with cars for some time and managed a conversion that had not been attempted before.

“I fabricated a Datsun 4 speed gearbox into a Holden ute and nobody had done that type of thing back then.”

The conversion created so much interest that people started asking Rod how they can do the same swap or something similar to their own car, in turn alerting Rob to the fact there could be a market for a business along those lines.  

“The Castlemaine Rod Shop started small, but we judged the market and started with fitting and supplying gearboxes and it went from there.  Customers also wanted a new clutch to go along with the new gearbox and other related parts and our requests continued to widen.”

From humble beginnings, The Castlemaine Rod Shop now has eighteen full time staff working on a variety of projects at any one time.

With the success of Rod’s shop, he has been fortunate enough to be part of some amazing projects and events.  One of the most memorable was the trip to the Bonneville salt flats for the ‘Aussie Invasion’ at the 50th Anniversary of the famous event.

 “For years I had been reading about it in the American rod books and the pictures and machinery were just incredible so it became a goal to take one of my own cars over there. 

With only a year to prepare, Rod decided to commit to the trip and worked for 12 months on the huge task of getting himself, his car and his team plus two other cars shipped to the U.S safely and all in time for the big event. There were many hurdles with shipping companies, government regulations and quarantine, but finally Rod was standing on the famed Bonneville salt flats he had read about for so many years.

There were three cars that headed to the U.S, with the hope of joining the famed 200mph club. Rod took over a 1953 Studebaker, housing a supercharged 540 ci V8 with an estimated 1300-1400hp “I believe we were the first Aussies to ever go over there. All three of the cars achieved our 200mph goal which was great. We not only represented Australia, but we did the sport proud.”

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was one of the best trips ever” said Hadfield.

Although Rod has been part of dozens of incredible projects, arguably his most famous creation was a car so incredible, it sent waves around the globe.










The car in question is the 1955 Chevrolet powered by nothing less than a Rolls Royce Merlin P51 Mustang, 27 litre Supercharged V12. 

It is always interesting to find out how a creation such as this was initially conceived, with Rod explaining how it came together.

“I’m a great reader of history and war and what the P51 achieved was incredible. I was very fond of the incredible Rolls Royce Merlin engines and I had always wanted to purchase one if I ever got the chance.”

When Rod found one available, he snapped it up and with the engine back at the shop, he quickly decided he shouldn’t have it just sitting there as a static display, so naturally, he started thinking if he could fit the engine in a car. 

When it came to choosing a car for the job, Rod knew immediately what to choose.

“The 55’ Chev was the perfect car to put the engine in. It is one of the most famous cars of all time so it made sense to install one of the most famous engines of all time.”

 The project was named “Final Objective” and incredibly, the build took two fabricators working full time over five years to put together the one off masterpiece of engineering.

The car was such a revelation, that it is now officially has its own Guinness World Record as the “World’s most powerful street registered automobile.”

The hot rod and street machine custom scene has certainly seen a great transformation since Rod first started out in the Industry.

“The biggest difference between then and now is simply the availability of information. When I first started, there was for the most part virtually no information on many vehicles and custom fabrications we were taking on, so it became a serious process to plan and build new parts or think of new processes to make parts or create new solutions.  

Another huge difference that makes owning street machines and hot rods easier these days is the availability of parts.

“Back then parts were so hard to get so they had to be custom made and really thought out.”

Never one to shy away from challenging and individual projects, Rod is currently working on what he believes is another world first, which is fitting an American LaFrance V12 to a small and rare Fiat Topolino.

Rod is always happy to provide advice and imparted some knowledge for all the Rare Spares supporters.

“There is two things that really make cars a winner in my view. That is the wheel and tyre combo and the overall stance of the car.

For those building their own project, Rod gave the following pearls of wisdom.

“Pick an idea or theme, get some good advice, and then stick to the plan. If you continue to talk to too many people and continue to ask for advice on directions, you may go in circles and ultimately delay or even never complete the project.”

“Make sure you have the resources to build it. Research and plan for parts you need and if you see a part become available, don’t procrastinate, because your project may go forever if you don’t seize the opportunity on parts when you find them.” 

Finally, Rod was deeply honoured to receive a Rare Spares Legend Award. He proudly displays the award in the shop.

“Rare Spares have done a lot for our industry, and being in business myself, I appreciate what they do”.