Super2 Mid-Season Recap

Super2 is the name given to the second level of Supercars racing in Australia. It’s undergone a number of name changes in recent years, but the level of entertainment and gripping racing hasn’t. It’s provided a home for superseded top tier Supercars, and is a place for drivers aiming to enter the big league to test themselves in close quarter racing.

Naturally there is some big money being moved around on track in the form of Commodore, Falcon, and Nissan shaped cars. All of these are draped in sponsorship logos and proudly representing Rare Spares is Perth born Adam Marjoram.

The West Aussie is no stranger to high performance racing. The Saloon Cars category and Porsche GT3s have felt the Marjoram touch, before finding a place in the biff and barge that was V8 Utes. The talented Marjoram quickly caught the eye of Erebus Motorsport and the dynamic Betty Klimenko.

After rapid growth in racing stature here and almost winning the V8 Ute Championship in 2015, Marjoram entered the Super2 category and raced the Ford FG Falcon in a tough competition in 2016. 2017 and Marjoram moves into a Holden VF Commodore, where he remains but now with the Image Racing/Erebus Motorsport team.

There have been two rounds of the Super2 with Adelaide and Perth having seen the cars on circuit so far. Qualifying for the Rare Spares backed driver wasn’t kind for his first 2019 race, starting from 11th, but did manage to make his way up through to 9th. Race 2 was a better result, with Marjoram getting good pace on the tight Adelaide street circuit and finishing in 6th.

Round 2 saw the category head to Barbagallo, a circuit that Marjoram knows well. Up against some serious competition, and just weeks away from his 26th birthday, Marjoram’s first race was forgettable, with no result against his name after reaching 7th. Brake failure took him out of a top 8 finish on the last lap and took him out of serious points contention. Race 2 saw Adam climb from 10th to 6th off the start, only to be muscled off the track on lap 3, dropping to 12th and driving back through to 10th.

Round 3 was held in rainy conditions in the normally sunny town of Townsville. Race 1 Adam qualified 13th and was in contention for pole but a last second error took that out of his hands. The race itself saw him finish as high as 6th. This would be where he would finish in Race 1, and in Race 2 just had nowhere to go. Most of the second race was held under safety car conditions due to the inclement weather. A second 6th will be in his history books for the third round of Super2s in 2019.

Adam says of Rare Spares that he aligns with them due to their passion for motorsport, and enjoys their like minded attitude when it comes to cars and the aftermarket automotive industry. For the rest of the year he says a podium is well and truly within sight, and by continuing to harass the top five, he’s certain that a podium finish and a chance to spray the champers is his!

Are you a follower of Super2 and/or Adam Marjoram? Let us know your thoughts on the category and this talented and engaging Perth born driver via our blog feedback section. 

 

 

 

VT Olympic Edition Commodore

“And the winner is....Syduhknee” And with those words in the early 1990s the Olympic games were heading to Australia for the first time in over forty years. They kickstarted a revamp of a tired section of Sydney, reinvigorated Little Athletics, and would give Australia’s own, Holden, a chance to showcase its home grown hero, the Commodore.

In 1997 Holden released the VT Commodore. In a program that would ultimately cost around $600 million, Holden took the outgoing VR/VS sheetmetal  and revamped both exterior and interior. Taking Opel’s Omega B, a brand and car that Holden used previously for its Commodore designs, it was widened, strengthened, and given a substantial increase in electronics. Underneath was a work in progress for the IRS or Independent Rear Suspension and the front MacPherson struts. Both had changes that would contribute to a ride and handling package widely regarded as being far better overall than the previous model.

The Commodore Executive was the door opener to the VT range, followed by Acclaim, S, SS, Berlina, and Calais. All models received a driver’s airbag, with a passenger airbag an option on the S and Executive.

Safety items such as ABS were an option on the base model Executive, but standard on the rest of the range. Traction control was standard on the Acclaim and Calais.

Power was courtesy of a 3.8L EcoTec V6, or Holden’s own 5.0L V8. At the time, the Series 1 V6 could also be specified with a supercharger as a factory fitted item. In 1999 the range had a slight update, dropping the supercharged V6 and slotting in the Chevrolet sourced 5.7L V8, which saw the end of Holden using its own 5.0L.

The Olympic Edition was like most of the other limited edition cars made available from Holden.  Badges denoting it was part of the Sydney Olympics were fitted to base model cars, and bumpers were body coloured. Wheels were sourced from the higher spec Berlina, aircon was standard as were power windows, and the exhaust was given a chromed tip. Inside a bespoke Olympic Edition cloth was used for the seats and the key came with an Olympic Edition badge. Finally, a dash mounted plaque stated that these cars were of the 3500 cars supplied by Holden and used during the Olympics for official duties.

Being little more than a cosmetically enhanced Series 2 VT means that prices for these are on par for the everyday version. But who knows, if you have one it may have been the car that had Cathy Freeman or Ian Thorpe as a passenger.

Do you own one a VT Olympic Edition Commodore ? Tell us your story via our blog comments or drop us a line via our social media links. 

1970s Aussie Street Machines

Street Machine. Two words that, for a slowly diminishing band of brothers, mean a lifestyle, a form of rebellion, a chance to self-expression via changes to sheetmetal, shoehorning into a tight engine bay a donk that shouldn’t fit but does, or layers of luscious custom “kandy” pearl paint.

Although largely a forgotten scene in the eyes of the public, street machine aficionados will be happy to tell you the cars and the lifestyle are alive and well, and that there are names as revered in the field as McCartney is in music or Hawking in science.

One particular magazine, born of the era, and still living in an age of electronic media, was originally called Street Machine and Van Wheels. That second part provides an echo of the past, with panel vans from Holden, Ford, Chrysler, and a smattering of others, part of street machining history.

One such entry was the 1977 HZ Holden panel van of Greg Mercer. Starting with a clean sheet, Mercer and his dedicated team reworked every aspect of the humble HZ. Gull wing style doors, flares, a TV in the interior watched whilst one relaxes on shagpile carpet and an enlarged rear window in the tailgate, plus a huge mural on the rear flanks, mark this one as having history in both the panel van era and as a street machine. 

Rodney Neal cast his eyes over the coke-bottle flanks of an 1973 XA Falcon “tudor” in bright yellow, liked what he saw, but thought to himself it’s lacking in.....big rear rubber, a lowered road scraping stance, and a “Clevo” fitted with one of the biggest “huffers” available at the time, breathing through a scoop big enough to catch whales. Rodney dreamt, and his dream came true in the form of the eyeball searing “Lethal Weapon”.

Kevin Monk etched his name into street machine history with a car so good, its American based body has many thinking it was modified in the States. Nope. His 1970 Dodge Challenger is a work of art and all homegrown down under. Slammed to a floor meets tarmac stance, coated in a red paint so deep one could drown in it, Monk’s epic work was powered by an engine Thor was scared of. Packed with all of the proper go-fast good bits, the alloy 426ci monster churned out a massive 1000 ponies in its time.

Sometimes a street machine can look for all the world like a car that’s had some big tyres melted on to the rims and not much else. Craige Wood had a Falcon XW/XY ute that looked a little like this, with the addition of a pair of oil refinery draining carbies bolted to the top of a meaty 429ci engine. A resprayed body hides hundreds of hours of painstaking work underneath, chromed bumpers were filed and straightened to look like new, and huge Cragar 15x12 alloys at the back add up to a noticeable yet subtle looking piece of street machine history.

Our final pick is one that Australia had never seen the likes of before, and has not seen since. Allan Cooper had a philosophy that mirrored the two “O”s in his name. Cooper took a Holden HQ ute, painted it black and called it Blo Bak. He added an extra pair of tail lights for a 2x2 look, filled in the tailgate’s gaps and added a spoiler to crown the tail lights, added fins from the ute’s roof down to the spoiler and that was almost enough. No sir. Clad in silver paint and slotting in a 253ci up front, Blo bak 2 was born. Out back, slap bang in the middle of the ute’s tray, is a heavily reworked and blown 350ci Chev carried over from the first version. Power goes to the ground via a TH425 transaxle “tranny” and the rubber wraps Moon wheels.

Are you a street machiner? Own a car that is a street machine? Tell us your story via our blog comments or drop us a line via our social media links.

(Pictures courtesy of Which Car and Street Machine)

 

 

 

 

 

History of the Holden Torana

2019 marks the fortieth anniversary of the cancellation of an Aussie icon. Originally based on a small and boxy British design, the Holden Torana started as an edgy and squared off two door body shell. The HB Torana was released in 1967 and came powered by a 1.2L four cylinder, with a four speed manual attached. If you wanted a self shifter, a three speed auto was made available as an option.

The HB was very heavily based on the then Vauxhall Viva, with essentially minor cosmetic changes and differences visually. Underneath were drum brakes front and rear, and Holden offered disc brakes up front as an option.

1968 saw an engine boost, under the name of Series 70. Compression was modified, a different carbie was fitted, and power reached the heady heights of 51kW, or 69 horsepower as was measured then. The auto was deleted from the standard engine which produced a mere 42kW/56hp.

Another Aussie icon, Brabham, would be added to the Torana’s history early on. The Series 70 engine which featured a single Zenith-Stromberg carbie, was upgraded to a pair of them capped with sports air filters. Along with front disc brakes, standard with the HB’s Series 70 engine, the Brabham Torana had a low restriction exhaust, wider wheels, and some body styling. Peak power here was 59kW/79hp.

Holden and Vauxhall collaborated on developing a four door HB and September 1968 saw the release of the HB four door. This differed even further from the Viva, with the styling markedly changed from its British cousin. A new collapsible steering column was standard, a redesigned dash with instrument cluster and indicator stalk update, and a steering wheel pinched from the larger Kingswood/Monaro.

A complete redesign was given for the LC, with early versions featuring a close resemblance to the HB but from the A pillar back was completely new. Engines were upgraded to offer a six cylinder for the first time. The 2.6L or 161ci would morph into the 173ci and finishing with the legendary 186ci.

The body was modified from the HB to allow for the bigger straight six, transmissions were a three speed manual or auto, or a four speed manual. The Brabham model was discontinued here. Seats went to bucket seats as standard across the LC range and the British dionated a more powerful 1.6L four, with 60kW/80hp on tap.

But perhaps the standout for the LC was the addition of the GTR. A two barrel Stromberg WW carbie on the 161ci was standard, as were front disc brakes. This would form the basis for yet another Australian automotive icon.

The Holden Torana GTR-XU1 used the 186ci engine, fitted with three Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburettors. The engine breathed out via cast-iron headers through a performance cylinder head and camshaft, and a four-speed manual gearbox was sourced from Opel. The car was developed by HDT and “The Silver Fox”, Harry Firth. Visually it appealed, with front guard flutes, a rear spoiler, wider wheels, and had a Monaro like dash with sports dials.

Holden revamped the LC into the LJ. This featured a redesigned grille and three boxes for the tail lights instead of the LC’s horizontal strip. Engines changed slightly, with a 1.3L unit added to complement the 1.2L and 1.6L. The 1.2L was available in the two door body only, the new 1.3L was available in both two and four doors. The 161ci and 173ci, or 2.2L and 2.8L engines, were carried over and Holden transplanted the 3.3L, or 202ci, into the LJ.

That engine would be the heart of the LJ GTR-XU1. With 200hp or 149kW, a M20 four speed manual, and a triple CD-175 Zenith-Stromberg carbie induction, the LJ would be part of history in 1972. The Hardie-Ferodo 500 was won by the up and coming Peter Geoffrey Brock, in a drive that would become the basis for the legend that would become “Peter Perfect”.

Unfortunately, a development of the XU-1, colloquially known as the XU-2, would not see the light of showroom days. Rumoured to pack a 224kW/300hp 308ci V8, the “Supercar Scare” would see Holden, Ford, and Chrysler, bench there hi-po vehicles.

In the early-mid 1970s the Torana would change again. A limited release TA model would be seen for just eleven months. And then, in March 1974, another body change. The LH and LX Toranas were bigger, boxier, four door sedans and would also see the design feature a hatchback.

The LH kicked off with a unique engine range. A buyer could choose from a 1.9L four, the 2.8L and 3.3L sixes, and the thumping 4.2L/253ci or 5.0L/308ci V8s. However, the 308ci was reserved for the SL/R 5000 sedan, which also offered the limited run L34 option. The 263 versions built had engines with stronger internals and higher compression ratings, and the wheel arches outside to fit in even wider wheels and tyres.

Come February 1976 and the updated LX was released. Headlights were back to round after the LH’s squarish style. Prototype hatchbacks from the LH body saw production in the LX, and performance was hobbled somewhat by the introduction of emissions reduction equipment. Power outputs were starting to be officially presented as kiloWatts, not horsepower. The four cylinder engine would see life under the name of the LX Sunbird, with the sixes and eights badged as Torana.

Holden’s then revolutionary RTS, or Radial Tuned Suspension, would also be marketed alongside the Sunbird and Torana. 1977 and a three letter/numerical option would become yet another part of the car’s legend. A9X. The engines were largely untouched but it was the handling and braking packages, and the addition of the huge bonnet mounted air scoop, that made the option a standout. The racing version in the hands of Brock and Jim Richards would win The Great Race at Bathurst in 1978 and 1979.

March 1978 saw the final update, with the UC Torana losing the V8, softening the appearance externally, and revamping the interior. The hatchback didn’t last either, deleted a year after release. The UC revamp also had the Sunbird updated to fit the UC spec. However, Holden saw the VB Commodore in competition with the Torana and the nameplate was retired in late 1980.

Which Torana was your favourite and why? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

A Look Back at the Cars of 1989

The final year of the 1980s closes out a decade of varying hair styles, musical tastes, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars sagas (before they got truly silly) and an innovative decade of car engineering and design.

Holden’s VN Commodore was reaching the end of its design life, and still packed a 5044cc V8. The SS was a hot looker thanks to well integrated body mods, and was the last Commodore without an independent rear. The VN of 1989 featured an upgraded 3.8L V6 which was quieter and more reliable, and would also be the basis for the Toyota Lexcen.

Ford had revived one of the brand’s most popular nameplates with its own, inhouse designed, Capri. A slim looking two door, available with a hard or soft top, the Capri didn’t set the automotive market alight and was available for just five years. The later models had a stylish “jeweled” look to the tail lights, and featured pop up head lights. Unfortunately, the entry level model was hobbled by a three speed auto.

Mitsubishi was moving the Magna along quite nicely with a design based on the American Galant. Essentially a “cut and shut” build, with some minor design changes but widened to suit the Australian lifestyle, the TN Magna came with two, four cylinder engines for power only. One sucked fuel via a carbie, the other pushed fuel in via fuel injection. Neither could be said to be “powerful” with the EFI version shunting out just 93kW from the 2.6L capacity engine.

Toyota’s Camry of 1989 was a complete revamp of the original hatchback version that was imported from Japan. An effectively expanded version of the Corolla of the day, it had been in production in that shape for just two years, after Toyota Australia switched local manufacturing away from the venerable Corona nameplate. Originally available with a front driven chassis powered by a four cylinder, a V6 option came along soon after.

Mercedes-Benz was starring with the C-Class in 1989. The 190 design was in overhaul mode, with 1989 seeing prototypes for what would be the 1993 release of the C-Class model range. The design was a freshen up of the 190 sedan, with a sleeker profile and more aerodynamically suited for the autobahns.

BMW was in a good mood too, with the E34 5 Series selling well against its main competitor of the day. In 1989 the design was still fresh, having been released just two years before. 1989 saw the release of the 520i, featuring an updated straight six that produced 110kW. The M5 was also virtually brand new too, with that year’s model packing a 232kW straight six.

What kind of car did you have in 1989? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article!