When Plastic Becomes Classic – The New Historics

If you are anything like us, in the last couple of years you may have found yourself with a confused look on your face as you sit at the traffic lights or cruise down the highway on the weekend.    In front of you is a car on Historic or Club plates that is absolutely not historic from your perspective! Of course Historic and Classic are different things to different people and even definitions vary, but we would be safe to assume that most people view an XYGT Falcon, an original Mini Cooper, a Datsun 1600, a ’57 Chevy and a A9X Torana as classics, whereas Historic vehicles tend be 1940’s and earlier in our book. As time marches on though, so does the rolling Historic/Classic/Club registration systems that have been adopted across the country. Most Australian States and Territories employ rolling 30 year Historic/Classic permit schemes, whereas Victoria and WA have a rolling 25 year cut off for Historic vehicles. SA has adopted an alternative philosophy, with a fixed date for cars needing to be built before 1/1/1979 to be eligible. For the most part, these schemes rely on a club’s helping to administer the approvals and there are generally some additional requirements and technicalities across the states, however we would have to write a thesis to explain all the ins and outs for each state. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have some Australia wide regulations on these types of schemes! It may be a pipe dream, but we can always hope.             It’s important to note that as we write this article, if we wind back time 30 years, it would be March in 1987. Even scarier however for the status of ‘Historics’ is that WA and Victoria are now accepting vehicles older than March 1992! As 1992 represents the newer wave of what is eligible in these states, we will focus on this year for the sake of simplicity; and for other states, take it as a sign of things to come. As we scan our way across models released in 1992, a picture starts to emerge of the reality we are starting to see appear on our roads. So what cars were built in 1992? Starting locally, the Holden VP Commodore was well into production and everything from a Berlina to a rare VP HSV Maloo Ute could receive the historic treatment. Over in the blue oval corner, Ford had just released the EBII Falcon GLi and in fact next month is 25 years since the EBII XR8 hit the showrooms. The records show that after the Falcon and Commodore, the remainder of the Top Ten cars sold in Australia in 1992 are the Mitsubishi Magna, Toyota Camry and Corolla, Ford Laser, Toyota Landcruiser, Nissan Pulsar, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Lancer and the Holden Rodeo. Perhaps not all of these cars will meet criteria or will be approved, but from what we can see generally could be considered under the schemes in Vic and WA. If money was no object, why not register a 1992 McLaren F1 road car? Another shock has been was seeing imported JDM vehicles such as the Nissan Silvia and Skyline’s already running around on Club/Historic plates.   Hyundai X2 Excel anybody? Didn’t think so, but if you were keen the option is there! The rest of Australia may be eyeing off 30 year old vehicles still, but if Victoria and WA’s schemes are anything to go by, we will be quickly shifting our definition of Classic and Historic, at least as it applies to registration. So the next time you double take on a car that is very un-historic, consider the future. There will come a time when that VF commodore wagon in the garage might be ready……..scary thought! Are you currently running a car on Historic/Club/Classic registrations schemes or eyeing off a model that is about to become eligible? We’d love to hear your stories and experiences in this area from around Australia.

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!

Mr Bean, McLarens, Minis and Movies – The Rowan Atkinson Car Collection

One of the most famous of all British actors’ Rowan Atkinson shot to fame in Blackadder, but of course is remembered most for his Mr Bean character, that formed the TV series and movie spin offs of the same name. The Mr Bean character left audiences around the world in ruptures thanks to the comedic brilliance and eccentric style of Atkinson. At the same time, the iconic yellow Mini that Mr Bean drove around complemented the character of Mr Bean perfectly, and who doesn’t love a Mini! In a world far away from the crazy world of Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson is an avid car enthusiast and collector, owning many jaw-dropping, rare vehicles. Many enthusiasts may already be aware that for many years Atkinson owned an incredible McLaren F1, one that he purchased brand new in 1997 for 640,000 pounds. Not one to leave the McLaren as a museum piece in an air conditioned garage, Atkinson effectively drove the car as his ‘daily’ for many years, putting a huge number of miles on the car and was regularly spotted picking up groceries and attending events in the car. With so much driving, the chances of an accident increase and unfortunately, the poor McLaren was involved in two crashes during Atkinson’s nearly two decades of ownership. The second and far more serious accident occurred when Atkinson lost control on a high speed slippery bend, colliding with a tree. The impact was so severe that the engine of the McLaren was thrown 60ft from the car and left Atkinson with a broken shoulder. Luckily the McLaren was insured, because the repair bill was a massive 900,000 pounds (or around $1.5 million AU), becoming England’s highest ever single insurance pay out at the time. What was the annual insurance cost you may be asking? Apparently it went up to around $90,000 after the big crash! Atkinson ended up selling the McLaren in 2015 for the tiddly sum of 8,000,000 pounds (13 million AU!) Bargain! The McLaren was only a small piece of a bigger collection of classics.       An Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato is something of a rarity but Atkinson enjoyed stretching the legs of the British thoroughbred while in his ownership.       Mercedes Benz SLS with gull wing doors anyone?       Atkinson is a fan of Honda’s and although he also owns a Honda Civic Hybrid plug in model, the Honda NSX makes up for things and is a much nicer sight!     Atkinson is quite private so other rumoured cars in his possession are hard to confirm, but a Lancia Delta Integrale and an Audi A8 are among those believed to be in his stables. One thing you won’t see Atkinson buying is a Porsche! "I have a problem with Porsches. They're wonderful cars, but I know I could never live with one. Somehow, the typical Porsche people -- and I wish them no ill -- are not, I feel, my kind of people. I don't go around saying that Porsches are a pile of dung, but I do know that psychologically I couldn't handle owning one." he explained.

Rare Spares Feature Car Story: Jarcon Moore’s 1975 HJ Panel Van

Rare Spares have been a supporter of the classic car modification and restoration scene for over four decades and are proud to witness the sheer number of enthusiasts who share in our passion. Rare Spares’ recent 40 Year Daily Driver Facebook Promotion has proven the place that classic cars still have on our roads. We recently spoke to promotion winner Jarcon Moore, who gave us the rundown on his beloved 1975 HJ Holden Panel Van. When the Western Australian spotted a pale blue HJ Panel Van on the road on his way to TAFE a year and a half ago, it was love at first sight. A long-time lover of Holden’s and Panel Vans, Jarcon approached the owner, successfully negotiated a deal to take the popular Australian classic off his hands and has been using it as his daily driver since ever since.   “I’m the third owner of the car; the second owner had it for 38 years. It was originally purchased by a demolition company from Melville Motors and was white in colour, before being repainted the pale blue it is today”, Jarcon says.   Commenting on the positives and negatives of using a 42 year old car as his daily driver, Jarcon notes the lack of air-conditioning and power steering. However, these things don’t really worry him and he’s quick to point out the Panel Vans ability when helping any family and friends who need to move things and the ease of general maintenance. Jarcon hasn’t encountered too many issues with the HJ and mentioned his favourite moment with the car was when he got his P’s and was finally able to drive it on his own.   “I don’t really have to worry a lot about the car, just some general maintenance here and there. I haven't had many issues as of yet other than a lot of rust, and on one day it decided to shut down twice, I’m still not sure of the cause.”   Jarcon hasn’t made any modifications other than converting it back to a column shift, and as far as what the future holds for the 42 year old HJ?   “I plan to restore it, put in a 308 as well as a four speed transmission and possibly turn it into  a Sandman look-a-like”.   As a reward for winning the Rare Spares 40 Year Daily Driver Facebook Promotion, Jarcon has earnt himself a $500 Rare Spares Voucher and a signed Rare Spares cap. We look forward to hearing how Jarcon’s restoration goes!   Do you still use a classic car as your daily driver? Or maybe you have a 1970’s Holden parked in your garage? Head on over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments 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.

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.

Seeing Stars – Superstars and their Cars

When it comes to the automotive bug, it seems that no one is immune. Although our cars can all vary by value, we all have one thing in common, a passion for machinery on four wheels. Whether it’s the way they drive, the nostalgia or even pure style of a ride, we all have a soft spot for mankind’s arguably greatest invention. Here we will take a look at a few of the entertainment industries most notable characters and the breath taking fleet of cars that they have in their arsenal. It’s probably best to start this list with the one person we would probably all put our hands up to trade places with. He may not be known for his outgoing dress style, but this American talk show host’s car collection is something of a childhood fantasy. Jay Leno possesses more supercars than most museums, holding some incredibly rare (and expensive) pieces in his collection such as the 1994 McLaren F1, 1969 Lamborghini Miura S and even the timeless 1955 Mercedes 300SL. Not a supercar snob by any means, Leno also a 1970 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and a 1963 Corvette Stingray hiding around in his 130 car warehouse! He may have single handily ruined top gear and take the award for the most annoying bloke on the planet, but UK car fanatic Chris Evans has a few rides that easily makes him the envy of many car nuts across the world. His collection over the years has included a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder which was previously owned by Steve McQueen, the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, a 1972 VW Beetle and even a Porsche 944 Cabriolet, talk about a varied taste. Jerry Seinfeld has been a comedy mastermind for many years but most car lovers know him for something else. Seinfeld’s collection is known to almost rival that of Leno’s and with more than 60 cars under his wing, he is always on the lookout for the next thing to catch his eye. When looking at his collection, you can see that each car has been personally selected out of pure passion and the man clearly has an undeniable draw to Porsches. His fleet includes a 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR and an incredible 1990 Porsche 962C. He even has the first air-cooled Porsche 911, which he still considers his favorite.   Bringing it back to home shores who could not include Eric Bana. The Aussie acting legends roots had been clearly grown from the blue oval, with his first car, a 1973 Ford Falcon XB Coupe, featured in his stand out films for car lovers, Love the Beast. Add to that the fact that Bana races in the Targa Tasmania and it’s clear that this actor has earned the title of celebrity gearhead. With such a broad automotive spectrum, sometimes we can feel pretty envious of people who have mass collections of dream cars. However, we think as long as you have something you can call your pride and joy sitting in your driveway, then you are just as lucky. Who would you like to swap spots with for a day? What would you have in your dream collection? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below!

Rent-A-Racer - The Ford Shelby GT-350H Mustang

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drive an iconic American muscle car? Back in May 1966, Hertz New York took that same wondrous thought and made it a reality with the “Rent-A-Racer” program. This genius idea gave every day people the ability to rent a street legal track spec Shelby GT-350 for only $17 per day ($70 per week) plus an additional 0.17c per mile. Apart from the colour scheme, the 1966 Ford Shelby GT-350 was mechanically no different from the Ford Shelby GT-350H with the H simply stating for “Hertz”. The Hertz version was released in the incredibly popular gold stripes on black paintwork compared to the standard Shelby with white with blue stripes plus a few other optional variations. The 1966 Shelby delivered 306hp under foot (a 35hp increase from standard high performance mustangs with 271hp) plus a few other go fast bits such as high rise manifold, a big four barrel carby, 11 inch Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes to help pull up the extra horsepower, wider tyres to aid the muscle car physique, front sway bar for stiffness and a full set of Koni’s at all four corners. 50 years on Hertz is once again offering the performance thoroughbred to the world. This year the iconic Ford Shelby GT Mustang has been released with the “H” attached to selected Hertz outlets. So if you’re flying around America, you are able to enquire about the Hertz Adrenaline Collection of cars and you will soon have the option to rent a 2016 Ford Shelby GT-H Mustang. Although the $17 per day price point may have taken a slight increase, the newer edition has some major increases to merit the cost, improvements in drivability, aesthetics and power will be the main updates for the new halo car. There were 1000 Mustangs produced for Hertz in 1966, while it’s unsure at this point how many are to be produced for the 2016 release, it’s sure to be limited, so early bookings will no doubt be a necessity if you want the chance to realise your dream of driving one of the most iconic & prestigious American muscle cars ever to grace the black top. What did you think of the Rent-a-Racer idea? Did the car look the part or fail to impress? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Wooden Wonders – The world of wood panelled cars

As automotive enthusiasts, there are a million and one things we love about cars. From exhilarating performance to their racing pedigree and history, there is a broad spectrum of things that appeal to us, but all of this is nothing without style. There have been a number of body styles over the years, some quirky and some more practical, but one of the most unique to appear in the automotive spectrum would be those with wood panels or “Woodies”. These vehicles were the example of outstanding craftsmanship and design flair and here we will take a brief look at the origins of the style and some of the cars that defined the movement. In the early days of engineless transport, wood was used in the construction of many horse drawn carts and carriages. These sound design elements naturally transferred across too many early motor vehicles, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that cars with wood become the desirable choice. It was Ford in 1929 with the Model A that claimed the title of the first mass produced Woodie, with more than half of the vehicles exterior being crafted with timber. Although the use of this material was a relatively common place at the time, advancements in steel stamping slowly pushed wood to be used more for styling than structure. The 1946-48 Chrysler Town and Country was one of the vehicles that adopted wooden styling and hit the nail on the head in terms of design. The station wagon was the first Woodie with an all-steel roof and featured wooden double doors (also called “Barrel Back” doors) and came in a four door sedan layout. The popular Chrysler Town and Country two door convertible was also offered and at the time was the most luxurious car on the market! The Packard Super Eight was produced pre-WWII and was one of the most luxurious of the time. The vehicle featured a 160HP straight eight engine, not to mention wooden doors and rear quarter panels. However, the Woodie movement was not without its ugly ducklings and this generally came in the form of “faux” wood made with vinyl trim which began plaguing cars from the 1970’s all the way to the 1990’s. Thankfully this trend never really caught on in Australia. When it comes to cars of a bygone era, its clear to see how outstanding design and creativity can stand the test of time. Although beautiful, we are pretty happy that manufactures steered away from termite-bait on wheels to more practical and durable materials. What do you think of these wooden wonders? Timeless beauties, or better left to rot? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

The Rare lions - Revisiting one of the Rarest GROUP A's of all time

Back at a time when Australia was serious about muscle cars, a popular beverage company took one of Holden’s most desirable creations at the time, and made it even more special. Here we will take a look at the ultra-exclusive 1991 HSV VN SS GROUP A (TOOHEYS GROUP A) It was the year 1991 and Brocky was back on Holden’s books, driving the VN Group A SS like a bat out of hell. The VN Group A SS was the result of the 500 vehicle requirement for homologation touring and group a cars. The car itself was Holden’s most intimidating yet however it wasn’t until great race sponsors Toohey’s decided to go ahead with the mother of all promotions, sparing dodgy key chains and stubby holders, the beer giant decided to go all out and add their own touch to Holden’s already formidable beast. The Group A VN SS was a truly well designed piece of kit. The engine featured Chev NASCAR conrods among other upgrades and Germanys own ZF supplying the first six speed ever fitted to a Holden. Not to mention Bilstein shocks all round and AP Racing claiming the clutch department with the car being fitted with switchgear, cruise and trip computer from the upmarket Calais. All in all, the beast was putting out a mind boggling 215kw (for the time) and got the midas touch from the crew at Tom Walkinshaw Racing, who placed the car in a British wind tunnel and got to work on its aero package. Tooheys got their hands on chassis number 123 (1000V8) and 161 (2000V8), painting the cars in black and decorating with the appropriate decals , the two Rare Lions were on the cards to one lucky winner who gave the second vehicle to his son in law. Since then time has passed and car 1000V8 has been lovingly brought back to original condition after the current owner found the car used and abused. The whereabouts of 2000V8 remains a mystery, either being hidden away in a shed somewhere or having met its maker. When it comes to Aussie legends, only in Australia could a beer company partner with an automotive powerhouse to produce some of the rarest Group A cars ever. So when it comes to the performance icons of the past, we say pour a cold one and raise a glass! Do you know the whereabouts of the lost unicorn? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the mythical beast? Head over to the comments section on our Facebook page and let us know! ­­­