Volkswagen Beetle – The Peoples Car

The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most instantly recognisable cars in the history of automotive manufacturing, and just as interesting as the silhouette of the iconic bug is the story behind its concept. In this article we will take a quick look at the history of the Beetle and delve into its Australian connection throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

The origins of the Volkswagen Beetle date back to the early 1930’s when a Fuhrer by the name of Adolf Hitler proclaimed that the automobile, an at the time luxury afforded to only the very rich, should be available to the masses. Hitler specified that the ideal vehicle must be suitable for carrying 2 adults and 3 children at 100 km/h, while consuming no more than 7 litres of fuel every 100 km. Tasked with creating a vehicle to service the needs of the masses was tasked to Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche set about designing and building three prototypes, branded only ‘Volkswagen’ (“The Peoples Car”), the very round, bug-like appearance of the car ensured it was colloquially referred to as the Beetle.

Throughout WW2, Porsche developed a number of military spec Beetles that served as the first to leave his Wolfburg factory. With it’s now distinctive rear-mounted air cooled engine, the military spec vehicles were near on indestructible and were even designed to float for a short period of time in case of emergency!

By 1945 production was in full swing and the first customer vehicles were spreading throughout the streets of Europe. Armed with a 19kw flat four engine, the early Beetles proved a massive hit with the public and at a price of only 990 Reichsmark, which was similar to the price of a small motorcycle; the Bug was a genuine option for almost all families.

Fast forward 8 years and importation of the Beetle commenced into Australia, with assembly of the Peoples Car commencing in Melbourne by 1954. Throughout the 60’s locally manufactured parts and panels were being utilised in Melbourne built Beetles, with work being undertaken at the now HSV owned Clayton manufacturing plant. As we’ve become all too familiar with in recent times, sales of the Beetle eventually began to decline and in 1976 all Australian Volkswagen manufacturing efforts were ceased and the workshop was sold to Nissan Australia.

It wasn’t until 1998 that the first major re-design of the beetle took place and a look at the current Beetle finds a significantly different car to what was established way back in the 1930’s. The engine has been moved to the more traditional front mounted layout while power figures have increased with range topping models featuring in the area of 150kw. The unmistakable shape is still present and although not everybody’s cup of tea serves as one of very few modern cars that pay homage to their historical ancestors.

Do you own an early model Volkswagen Beetle? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about it in the comments section below.

Four Incredible Australian Barn Finds

Barn finds are the stuff of any rev-heads dreams, but for most they are just that; a dream. For some however, dreams of uncovering a timeless classic hidden away in a barn or shed have come to fruition, with many not quite understanding the goldmine they possess until the car has long outlived its ‘best-before’ date. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a quick look at four incredible barn finds that have been uncovered across Australia over the last decade.

1956 FJ Special

Found in Essendon back in 2010 this beautiful example with original paint bears a proud 43,067 miles on the odometer. A Southern Motors sold car it has it’s original leads, original owner’s manual and receipts still with the car. It was a one owner car and obviously was used very sparingly. It has some light battle scars such as some panel scrapes from a brush with a steel gate and some speckling in the paint but this all only adds to the character of this very original car. It’s current custodian purchased the car from the original owner’s son and continues to maintain it so as to keep it’s history intact.

1968 HK Monaro

The original owner of this Monaro had stored it in his shed for the first 24 years of its life, and upon purchase by its current owner it spent a further 25 odd years under wraps. For the first 49 years of this car’s life it had seen very little action, and it wasn’t until the current owner’s brother got in his ear about fixing it up to make a trip to Summernats 2016 that there was any real plans to get this car back on the road. With only a dash of oil and tank of fuel added, the Monaro fired into life and with only a couple more updates this classic Monaro was on its way to Summernats! From then on, despite its exterior appearance, the iconic Monaro has been a picture of perfect reliability, regularly hitting the road for a leisurely cruise.

1977 LX A9X Hatchback

Purchased when the collector/owner recognised the investment potential of the A9X in the mid-90’s, the Torana was then stored on blocks under his house and used very sparingly throughout the next 17 years. Back in 2011, the Flamenco Red Torana was found still dormant under the late collector’s house and listed for auction with no reserve. While it was expected the Torana would fetch in the vicinity of $80,000-$120,000, the room was shocked to see bidding rise to an astounding $149,000! With only 99,000 original kilometres, this barn find was described as being in immaculate condition, and likely to be one of the best kept, unrestored A9X’s in the country! The question is what’s she worth now?

1971 XY GTHO Phase 3

This blue oval barn find currently resides in the Gosford Classic Car Museum, it was purchased recently by the museum in the back blocks of WA. It was a one owner vehicle and all travel was notated by the owner in a log book and all receipts also kept. Sold new by Lynas Motors the local Ford dealer, it has not been driven since 1982. It is 1 of only 18 XY GTHO’s produced in the factory Nugget Gold metallic paint. It currently sports a set of Bathurst Globes on it’s feet and has not even been started yet by the museum. A guess at value would lead you to think it would push seven figures but in the current market it is very difficult to say with such a rare well documented example…

Do you have a classic car living in your shed? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know all about your classic car!

Another Car in the Wall – The Nick Mason Car Collection

Better known as the drummer from the iconic band Pink Floyd, Nick Mason is also the proud owner of a car collection that would rival that of most around the world. With approximately 300 cars passing through his ownership over the last half a century, Nick Mason is fortunate to have driven every single one of them, and in many cases has hit the track in some of the most iconic vehicles in automotive history. Mason’s collection currently sits at over 40 and features classics such as the Bugatti T35, Porsche 962, Ferrari 213 T3 and Aston Martin LM18. As impressive as these are, there are still a handful of cars in Mason’s possession that surpass these classics.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Worth potentially north of $40 Million AUD, Mason was able to purchase this masterpiece for 35,000 pounds back in 1977, and admits to feeling a little bit stupid at the time to be spending so much on a car. Little did he know it would go on to become one of the most valuable cars in automotive history! One of only 39 built, this GTO lives a cosy life, however has been used in the past to drop the kids off at school and has even been spotted parked on London Streets! 

Maserati ‘Birdcage’ Tipo 61

Owning the lucrative title as possibly Mason’s favourite car, the Tipo 61 earned the nickname of ‘Birdcage’ as a result of its roughly 200 chro-moly steel tubes welded together to form it’s chassis. The ‘Birdcage’ still hits the track, and has cut laps at the famous Goodwood Revival on more than one occasion.

McLaren F1 GTR

Unfortunately this car hit the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this year, as Mason lost control of the car during a demonstration at Goodwood resulting in some relatively high speed contact with a tyre wall. Fortunately the damage was not terminal, and the GTR will live to see another day. To give you an idea of how rare this car is; there were only 106 F1’s built, and of those only 28 wore the GTR badge. The GTR was essentially the race going version of the iconic McLaren Supercar and dominated various GT racing series in the mid-late 90’s.

Ferrari 512 S

A spectacular car, the Ferrari 512 S did a lot of things right, it had oodles of power and looked absolutely fantastic. However, according to Mason, they didn’t quite get the aerodynamics right, which has led to some interesting moments behind the wheel of the prancing horse. Powered by a 5 litre V12 (hence the name 512), this Ferrari led a somewhat disappointing racing life as it had to contend with the all-conquering Porsche 917. Rules were eventually changed to close the loophole which allowed heavy 5 litre cars to race against the lighter 3 litre cars in the early 70’s sports car racing world, thus rendering the 512 S somewhat obsolete on the track.    


This spectacular collection is up with the best we’ve ever seen! Do you know of any other celebrities with impressive car collections? Or maybe you have a burgeoning collection of your own? 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.

Vacation Nation - Looking Back at the Humble Holden Vacationer

As Aussie as thongs, meat pies and kangaroo’s, the humble road trip is an Aussie institution. Most of us will remember those drives in the back of the car as the family headed North, South, East or West to that holiday home, camp site or Uncle’s place somewhere up the road. No doubt those fond memories were re-created with the next generation, this time with you in the front seats!

With such a treasured pastime as the road trip, Holden were in tune with this fact, and playing to the feelings of freedom and good vibes of those holidays, launched specific ‘Vacationer’ models. This up-spec’d model would appeal to those looking at a special model that could make the long hauls across our vast nation somewhat more comfortable.

In 1972 the Holden HQ Kingswood Vacationer model was released. And what a beauty she was. Premium additions like a luxury centre arm rest and door to door carpets, chrome wheel trims and a selection of two-tone colour options, joined the 202 engine and tri-matic automatic gearbox with disc brakes.

The Vacationer model made appearances throughout the majority of the subsequent Holden line-up, culminating in the last appearance of the vacationer model in 1995 when Holden released the VS series. At the time of release, the VS Commodore Vacationer was $30,370 which in today’s money is $50,951.

What did you get standard for your money when ordering a new Vacationer in 1995? Air conditioning, power door mirrors, remote (keyless) central locking, power steering, power windows all-round, plus the all-important cruise control to gobble up those highway miles.

While we don’t think Holden will revive the Vacationer model any time soon, it was an interesting model that for many years was a reflection of the habits of a vacation nation!

Were you one of the many children who spent countless hours’ road tripping in the back of a vacationer? Or maybe you still own a Vacationer? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below!