Keeping you up to date with all things Rare Spares.

Rare Spares

Rare Spares Blog

  • Join Us on Facebook!
  • Visit Us on YouTube!
  • Follow Us on Instagram!
  • Subcribe to Our RSS Feed

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

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!

X Why?

Meet James Mackie. James loves old Ford’s. James also loves drifting. Finally, James loves the Holden V8 LS series engines. What do you get if you combine these three things together?  One crazy XY Falcon. James would describe himself as a Ford man, but loves all cars.  His previous collection included another XY Falcon, an XW Fairmont and an EB Falcon that he modified with a turbo and drifted over the course of a decade.  He has also owned a VT Clubsport R8, so it is not just all about Fords. “I’d bought a XW Fairmont for a thousand dollars and then sold it on again not long after, but I regretted not putting the EB Falcon running gear into that XW so I kept a look out for another similar car. James bought the current Falcon XY you see for $3,000 but his original engine swap idea didn’t turn out as appealing as he had first thought. “I’m into burnouts, Performance Car Mania, drag racing, drifting and circuit racing so I needed the new car to be a real all rounder.” “I was going to put the engine and gearbox from my EB Falcon turbo in to the XY, but it was going to be complicated, expensive and require some cutting of the radiator support so I wasn’t keen on cutting up the chassis for an engine swap. James then spent time thinking through the various other engine options for the XY. “The two common paths are to build a Cleveland 351 or a 351 Windsor engine, but my budget was limited and to get the horsepower I was looking for (400hp+) I was probably looking at up to twenty thousand dollars to build one properly. A Toyota 2JZ engine is a super strong engine popular in the drift scene and James even considered this, however it was also going to require chassis modifications so it was ruled out. James remembered reading about a XY Falcon in a Street Machine magazine that was running a supercharged LS1 engine, so figured it could be an option. However going down this path, James knew he would be (according to some) committing a cardinal sin. “I knew it was one of Australia’s most iconic cars and it was a hard decision to make, but putting that aside, the LS1 seemed to be the smartest, most practical and cheapest swap available to be able to do all the things I had in mind.” A friend was selling a LS1 engine and gearbox for only $1,100 which was too good to pass up and very soon the build began.   “I started by pulling the car down to fix some rust issues and also prepare it for a roll cage.”   The cage is very comprehensive and not only stiffens the chassis but will keep James safe in any motorsport discipline he chooses. New engine and gearbox mounts were fabricated at this time in preparation for the engine. James also purchased some XY floor pan panels, sills and rubber seal kits from Rare Spares to assist in the restoration. The engine was modified with a camshaft, new valve springs and new oil and water pumps. A custom exhaust system was also produced, before a tune was carried out, which resulted in a solid 370hp at the wheels. “It took 12 months to build and was a full restoration, without the paint job. I love the rat rod look so the car doesn’t actually look like it has been restored” said James.    “I nearly had three nervous breakdowns over the build and it really hit home what I had done when I got the car running. Many times during the build I thought ‘what the hell am I doing?” After unveiling the car on social media and at his first few events, James copped a lot of negative comments which he expected, but after explaining the reason he went that way, most people seemed to come around.   One of the car’s early outings was at the Calder Park drags where it ran a solid 12.2 second pass down the quarter mile.   The car remained bulletproof for a year but then things started to go wrong in 2014 when James competed in the Victorian Drift Championship. During Round 1 the wheels studs snapped. At Round 2 the clutch let go and in Round 3 he snapped an axle. Snapping an axle at Calder Park while going sideways at 100km/h was not part of the plan. The mid-season drifting festival resulted in a spun bearing so the engine was rebuilt properly with head work and pistons for Round 4. Unfortunately at Round 4 the motor self-destructed. James believes it was something oil related but the engine was so badly damaged he is not sure the exact cause. Although James is now in limbo with the car’s future, he hopes the next step will be a 6 Litre LS2 with a supercharger, which is the dream.   A lover of all motorsport, James is keen to have a crack at hill climbs, circuit days and motorkhanas moving forward and the car will no doubt attract attention and divided opinions wherever it goes. James hopes people can look past the engine swap and just appreciate the car for what it is. “I absolutely love the car now and don’t have any regrets. I can drive it in just about any form of motorsport. There are not many XY Falcons that can do that and do it well.” “Nothing is over the top, it has a standard steering box, it still has leaf rear springs and is quite mild to drive. Anyone could take an X series Falcon and do what I’ve done without breaking the bank.” “I want to thank Mick, Mish, Chris and Dale for all their assistance in the build.  I couldn’t have built it without them and of course my girlfriend Tanya for her support.”

The Rarest Parts

The Rarest Part As cars age and slowly dwindle from the roads manufacturer support eventually stops producing parts for these vehicles and this is where Rare Spares steps in, providing thousands of parts for all manner of vehicles without part support. Although rare parts are a speciality of Rare Spares it was time to explore deeper into the world of the Australian parts market. What are some of the rarest parts that exist in Australia?  We asked Rare Spares Director’s to find out some of the extremely rare parts they know of within the market. A few years back, Director David Ryan remembers looking everywhere for a rubber seal that is at the base of the windscreen divider bar on the FJ Holden.   “It was a very obscure part and we just couldn’t get hold of one, so we ended up producing one ourselves.” Said Ryan. Torana A9X ash trays are another random item that are available from time to time, but are at a huge premium. “An A9X ash tray could go from anywhere up to $1,000.” According to Managing Director Les McVeigh, FC front fenders and EH bonnets are another two items that are very hard to come by. “They are not in high demand, but if you were after one, it could be hard to track one down” said McVeigh. For Rare Spares, some of the most difficult spares to produce are the more modern vehicle body panels. “The HQ front panel that the grille fits onto was a challenge to get right” said Ryan. As for the most popular parts, they are often the newly released items that have been produced based on demand from customers. “Monaro GTS steering wheels have proven to be a popular item as has the GTS rear vision mirrors” said Ryan.    Rare Spares is happy to look into producing parts as long as there is demand. If you have a query about a part please add your details to the Rare Spares ‘Wish List’. http://www.rarespares.net.au/Wishlist/Wishlist.aspx 

Shiny New Banner For 48-78 Holden Car Club Hunter Valley

Rare Spares recently presented a large club banner to the 48-78 Holden Car Club Hunter Valley for their continued loyalty. The 48-78 Holden Car Club Hunter Valley was formed in the early seventies and through passionate members has survived nicely, with the club now in its fourth decade of existence. As a member of the club you receive stickers for your car and a newsletter every month. You will be able to spend time with a great bunch of like minded people with an interest in early Holden’s. There is also a wealth of technical information and parts advice available shared between members.  Furthermore membership provides access to the RTA Historical registration scheme. The club has a social scene and have a club based outing at least once a month. The club meets once a month on the second Monday upstairs at the Hexham Bowling Club at 7pm. If you would like to know more, simply attend a meeting. New members are more than welcome. For more information on the 48 to 78 78 Holden Car Club Hunter Valley Inc head to http://www.48to78holden.com/ Rare Spares offers great rewards to car clubs simply by being members of the Rare Spares Loyalty Club. Clubs receive exclusive invites to Project Partner nights, special access to promotions and access to Rare Spares sponsored events. Also benefiting clubs is the ability for members to earn rewards for their club simply by shopping at Rare Spares. Every dollar spent at Rare Spares by club members becomes one point earned by your club. This can then be traded in for items such as Banners, Esky’s and club flags. For more information click here.

Banner For FX-FJ Car Club of Canberra

The FX FJ Car Club of Canberra are an active club within the Rare Spares Loyalty program and have been awarded a club banner for their continued support. "The unveiling of the Rare Spares banner was quite an event and we were all very impressed. It was a pretty cold evening hence we are all rugged up. Thanks again for your support." Said Club President Ian Constantine. The FX-FJ Car Club of Canberra was established in 1977 as a club to encourage the interest in ownership, restoration, preservation, maintenance and the use of the 48/215 (FX) and FJ Holdens. The club also caters to other early model Holden’s and accepts these cars in any condition. The FX (48-215) model as the first Australian built car designed and priced for the average Aussie family, and kicked off Australia’s love affair with Holden. The club is based in Canberra and caters for those in Canberra and surrounding regions, and as far and as wide as Yass, Cooma, Goulburn and the South Coast. The club is also socially active, with close to 40 members, but always encourages new members to join or even just pop in to their next club meeting. All you need is an interest in these vehicles. “We also hold monthly runs which may include car show events, BBQ’s, social gatherings, bowling nights and general get-togethers. Our members regularly attend motoring shows both in Canberra and Australia wide.” Said Mr Constantine. It’s easy to become a member of the Rare Spares Loyalty Club and start receiving rewards for your club. CLICK HERE to sign up. 

Aussie Concept Cars That Took On The World

With the demise of the traditional Australian motor shows and the sad reality that Holden and Ford will be ceasing manufacturing in Australia, it is an end of an era. Not only will car production cease, but sheer Aussie ingenuity and engineering know how will no longer be channelled into world beating, cutting edge Australian built concept cars. Cars which have over the years proudly showcased what Aussie car manufacturers can do given the opportunity and a clean sheet of canvas. Concept Cars have nearly been in existence as long as the car itself. Concept Cars work in three ways. They push the engineering envelope, showcase and market the manufacturer’s talent and also capture the public’s imagination. They are the ultimate projects for automotive engineers to be part of. As a celebration of what Australia has been able to achieve in terms of Concept Cars, we take a look at three of Holden’s most famous examples, which were recently displayed together for the first time at the Meguiar’s MotorEx motor show in Melbourne.   "This is the first time these three concept cars have been together in the one place at the one time” said Richard Ferlazzo, Design Director GM Holden.  The three cars in question are ‘Efijy’, ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Coupe 60’, which are all very different and all very special in their own right. Around the world, the 1960’s and 70’s were known as the golden era in concept car design and dozens of those incredible creations are still a sight to behold today. Searching on the web can quickly dissolve the hours with the stories and images surrounding these cars. Australia has always had its own home grown, world class engineering talent and this is reflected in Holden’s first and arguably most spectacular Concept Car, known simply as ‘Hurricane’. To say this car was a technological tour-de-force in its day was an understatement. Hurricane was primarily a test bed to explore these new technologies and was never intended for production. Many of its then futuristic features are now taken for granted in the automotive world. It was fitted with oil cooled four wheel disc brakes, inertia reel seat belts, digital gauges, a climate control system and an early GPS system known as Pathfinder. Equally impressive is the rear view camera that was connected to an early TV screen for occupants to see behind them. This technology only started to appear in the mainstream automotive world more than three decades later. The Hurricane is a wedge shaped machine with supercar lines and is a fibreglass body over a steel space frame. The car is extremely low with a total height of only 990mm.  The engine is a mid-mounted 4.2ltr V8 fitted with a four barrel carburettor and makes an estimated 260hp.  One of the most spectacular features of the car is the way occupants enter and exit the vehicle. A single piece hydraulically operated canopy moves up and forward and resembles something closer to a fighter jet or a futuristic car from a sci-fi movie. Also on display were two more modern Holden creations. ‘Efijy’ is the name that would come to mind first if someone asked you to name a Holden Concept car and it is not hard to see why. Efijy is a beautiful blend of 1950’s classic Hot Rod styling with a modern power plant and technology, which has resulted in international awards and acclaim the world over since its debut at the 2005 Sydney International Motor Show. It even won the coveted Hot Rod magazine’s 2006 Hot Rod of the Year and was also the North American Concept Car of the Year in 2007. Efijy was built in house at Holden with the assistance of many of Holden’s key suppliers and was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FJ Holden. The car is a pillar-less coupe, painted in a stunning House of Kolor Soprano purple. Efijy is powered by a supercharged 6.0-litre V8, producing in excess of 600hp. It rides on air suspension and features some very-trick, electronic instrumentation. The remaining concept car on display at the event was ‘Coupe 60’ which was built as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Holden releasing the 48-215 (FX Holden). Based on the Australian VE Commodore, Coupe 60 is both a road and race hybrid concept. It is another two-door pillarless machine, with striking lines, including lengthened and re-sculptured doors and a raked windscreen.   Supporting the race car theme is carbon spoilers, front and rear diffusers, along with huge 21-inch centre-lock wheels outfitted with smooth racing slicks. Under the hood is an E85-friendly, 6.0 litre LS2 V8. It even has a side exit exhaust and monstrous Brembo brakes if you were in any doubt as to its credentials. Sadly we will not see any new Australian based concept cars from Holden or Ford in the future, however Australian engineering and ingenuity is alive and well and Australian’s should be proud of what has been accomplished over the years by both Holden and Ford on the concept car front.