Falcon Favourite - John Bowes Favourite Falcon Racer

When it comes to motorsport icons, it’s hard to look past John Bowe. With a successful career that spans over four decades and the only driver in Australian motorsport history to win an incredible six National Championships in four categories, JB has forged his own path and his own legacy. Although Bowe is known to steer anything with four wheels, he has been affiliated with the blue oval for some time and here we will take a look at the man’s favourite Falcon as Australia bids farewell to the iconic model.

It’s no secret that JB has been behind the wheel of many memorable Fords over the years. Who can forget the incredible Shell Sierra RS500 or the iconic AU and BA Falcons, the aussie hero has even been known to pilot classic frames such as a vintage mustang in the TCM Series. With so many amazing cars, you’d be surprised to know which one stole JB’s heart, the EBII that he drove to victory at Bathurst in 1994. Holding off five pursuing Holden’s late in the race, JB and Dick Johnson thrilled onlookers to take the win in one of the most intense Bathurst 1000’s ever, a moment that is still etched in every motorsport fans memory.

At the end of 1994 the car was converted to EF specifications with a different roof, front guards and boot among other things being added. Soon after, the vehicle claimed another win in the 1995 V8 Supercar Championship. It’s no surprise that JB’s favourite Falcon racer is the one he has had such a positive success from. The car itself was originally built by Jimmy Stone at DJR, with every part meticulously planned to extract maximum performance and drivability.

Although there was somewhat of a raining success, the Falcon faced tragedy when it was involved in a crash in 1996 at Phillip Island Circuit, bouncing around on its tail, roof, nose and finally into the wall at the Hayshed after a collision with Craig Lowndes. With the crash taking place at 235km/h Bowe was lucky to walk away, however the iconic Falcon met its maker in race car heaven.

With so many stories to tell, both on the track and off, it is sad to say farewell to one of the blue ovals most beloved offerings. However with such a great community and availability of spare parts, we know that the falcon will live on for many years to come.

What is your favourite Falcon? Make sure to head over the comments section of 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! ­­­

End of model Runout - The Monaro that Almost Was

The Holden Monaro has been one of Australia’s most iconic cars and one that has defined our motoring pedigree as we know it, but there is one model that never carried the great nameplate, and that’s the Holden HX LE Coupe.

The unofficial final model of the original Monaro series that began with the HK in 1968, was the limited edition Holden HX LE coupe and was released on September 27 1976. The car itself was a nod to the Monaro, sharing the same metal work and was adorned with gold pin striping and ‘LE’ lettering on the model's distinctive metallic crimson paint. Although it never officially carried the Monaro name, the fact it was a top end coupe, led Holden fans to regard the car as a true blue member of the family.

There were just 580 examples of the limited edition HX LE Coupe produced and they came fresh from Holden's old Pagewood plant in Sydney. The striking coupe featured double quartz halogen headlights,HX Premier front end, front and rear spoilers and the unique US sourced “Honeycomb” 14x7 inch polycast wheels which completed the package.

The car also features an array of high tech gadgetry that included power windows, power steering, power aerial, integrated air conditioning, heated rear window, quadraphonic eight-track cartridge player and was finished with tinted windows. The passenger compartment of the coupe featured a walnut finish dash fascia and centre console with velour and cloth trim, a mighty luxurious package in 1976.

The HX LE came with Holden's healthy 308ci V8, the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission and a Salisbury limited slip differential, all parts that were considered high performance Monaro essentials. However with Holden’s choice not to name the car officially as a Monaro, the HX LE was essentially the combination of prestige additions and surplus parts.

Although the Holden HX LE Coupe was never officially called a Monaro, it had all the ingredients to wear the name with pride!
But why do you think Holden chose not to name the car a Monaro? Head over the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!

Radial Tuned Suspension

24. December 2015 10:56 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Ask an Australian car lover who invented RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension) and the answer will be Holden. However, ask an American car lover who invented it and they would likely say Pontiac. In truth, the facts are a little hazy.

In America, Radial Tuned Suspension started in the mid-70s when radial tyres were becoming more of a standard feature on GM cars, and Pontiac tuned the spring rates and shock valving to better match the type of tyres going onto their new cars.

In Australia, the first cars to get RTS were the Holden HZ Kingswood SL, Premier, Wagon and GTS. The HZ hit our roads on October 1977, so from that perspective, the victory goes to our friends on the other side of the Pacific. RTS, according to Holden was “an important new design which integrates all suspension components into one finely tuned system.”

Assistant Chief Engineer Peter Hanenberger from GM Germany headed up the RTS program in Australia and explained RTS was designed to “reduce vehicle roll when cornering, improve straight ahead stability and improve vehicle handling and load carrying ability on all types of road surfaces.”

Effectively it was designed to match all the suspension components because Holden was also moving from bias ply tyres to steel belted radial tyres. Changes included wider wheel rims, revised body mountings as well as the chassis. Front and rear stabiliser bars helped control lean, the four coil springs were deeper, front suspension control arms were redesigned and moved, control arm bushings were reengineered and new, larger diameter shock absorbers were carefully tuned to match the RTS system. All this was designed to create Holden’s claim of “exceptional road holding”.

RTS was so important to Holden, it ran an advertising campaign. It showed a Kingswood SL against a BMW in an evasive manoeuvre display to demonstrate how well it compared against one of the best handling European sedans. A Holden Premier was then pitted against a Mercedes Benz on a bumpy and undulating road, which showed our home grown hero had just as good a ”smooth, flat ride” as its more prestigious and expensive competition.

With the Europeans easily dispatched, the advertisement then turned to Holden’s domestic nemesis. (No prizes for guessing who that might be!) This involved a typical highway exit situation where the RTS equipped Kingswood easily out manoeuvred the competition around a tight bend in wet conditions, showing how predictable the Kingswood SL corners as compared with the other car. That other car, without RTS, was of course unable to follow the Holden at the same speed.

So there you have it. RTS was designed as “a system, through a sophisticated program of engineering research, designed for Australian conditions, so as to enjoy confident, relaxed driving, mile after mile.” Of course, RTS may have been cutting edge at the time, but suspension systems have certainly moved on and will continue to evolve. It’s certainly interesting to see the progress that’s been made over the last four decades of automobile development, that’s for sure. 

Mount Panorama Bathurst

The regional city of New South Wales, Bathurst, is home to the widely renowned Mount Panorama Circuit - one of the most fearsome motor racing circuits in the world. The track, which is a public road for most of the year, holds the Bathurst 12 hour motor race each February and the Bathurst 1000 motor race each October. Mount Panorama is open to the public on non-race days, however if you intend on bringing out your inner ‘Lowndes’, unfortunately a strict speed limit of 60km/h is enforced (sorry!).

Unique in its rural setting, the remarkable track is 6.213km long with a 174-metre vertical difference at its highest and lowest points. In its infancy, dating back as early as the 1960s, the race was dominated by the smaller cars until the development of Ford’s 289 cubic inch V8 Ford Falcon GT. The smaller cars were no match for the big V8 which dominated the Mount on the long up hills and down hills, ultimately changing the face of racing at Mount Panorama forever. Subsequently, manufacturers country-wide attempted to tame the mountain with their vehicles, as success at the track would greatly increase the car’s image and credibility in the Australian marketplace, thus increasing sales.

Ongoing rivalry at this time between Ford, Holden and earlier Chrysler bred the era of our much-loved muscle cars including the Holden Monaro and Torana, the Ford Falcon GT and later GT-HO Super Falcon, and Chrysler's Pacer and Charger. It was also not long after where we were introduced to the late legend Peter Brock, crowned “King of the Mountain” after going on to successfully capture nine Bathurst 1000 victories.

Since 1999, Ford and Holden have lead the pack by miles in the Bathurst 1000, with crowd numbers rapidly increasing each year… and this year was no exception. An enormous 201,416 fans joined the adrenalin rush and excitement of Bathurst, the second highest ever attendance topping last year’s crowd of 195,261!