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Holden Heritage Collection – Driving Down Memory Lane

When it comes to cars, our passion generally extends beyond the vehicles themselves. Car parts, posters and memorabilia go hand in hand with automotive obsession, and when the Royal Australian Mint decided to produce a collection dedicated to one of Australia’s most loved brands, the team here at Rare Spares couldn’t have been more excited. The Holden Heritage Collection is a series of 12 coins celebrating some of Holden’s most memorable creations. Here we will take a look at some of our personal favourites. Starting with the 1948 FX Sedan. This car was the first to bear the Holden name, it did 0-60mph in 18.7 seconds and fuel consumption better than most cars today of 6.3L/100km. The FB Holden makes its appearance with its unique American styling cues and gorgeous wrap around front windscreen. This classic was also the first Holden to be exported in left hand drive form. Then there is the ever so popular EH Holden, with its classy looks and advanced red engine - this vehicle was produced between 1963 and 1965. We also love the HK Monaro, with its timeless muscle car looks and potent 327ci topping the range, this was a sports car designed, engineered and manufactured from right here in Australia. Another personal favourite of ours is without a doubt the LJ Torana GTR XU-1. This car was the cream of the crop with its 202 and was made famous after it claimed victory at Bathurst in 1972 with a young Peter Brock behind the wheel. The Holden Heritage Collection also features the FC, FE, FJ as well as the HQ Kingswood, HX Sandman and even the humble VC Commodore. The collection is comprised of uncirculated 50 cent coins, however the value of these are much more to an enthusiast and also comes with their own unique card describing the history and details of the vehicle. We know that most people who don’t have an automotive passion might scratch their heads trying to wonder how we could be excited about coins, but as classic car enthusiasts, we would have it any other way. Have you owned any of these iconic Holden’s yourself or managed to get your hands on these limited edition coins? Let us know and share some photos in the comments section of our Facebook page!  

Torana Triumph – The Holden of the Future

The Holden Torana is one of Australia’s most loved cars and with many still on the road today, it’s easy to see that they are just as popular as ever. With both the LC and LJ cementing their place in our proud motoring history, there was one model that almost defined it, the Torana GTR-X. The GTR-X was a product of the ambitious 1970’s Holden motor company who was out to produce a car that pushed the boundaries of automotive design. The future halo car’s styling was one that was influenced by iconic European sports cars of the time such as the Lotus Esprit and Maserati Khamsin. The GTR-X featured an incredibly sleek-wedged shaped fiberglass body and ran mechanical components from the LC GTR XU-1. The engine bay housed the 186 from the XU-1 complete with triple Stromberg carburettors and was mated to a 4 speed manual transmission and 3.36 rear axle. The car also featured pop-up headlights, elevated rear light assembly, flush mounted door handles and fuel filler. The design was finished with a black and orange strip that housed the infamous GTR-X name and ran along the bottom of the body sweeping up to meet its distinctive LC Torana inspired taillights. Weighing in at a feather weight 1043kgs, the stunning vehicle had the agility to match, recording a top speed of 210km/h during testing. The interior featured a wealth of instrumentation within the aluminium dashboard including electric clock, ammeter, speedo, and tachometer as well oil pressure, water temperature and even an engine vacuum gauge. Although the LX Torana, in race bred A9X from, was the first Holden fitted with four wheel disc brakes, the futuristic GTR-X almost claimed the title by a full 7 years. Unlike many concepts, Holden was genuinely serious about its production which they highlighted throughout brochures and promotional footage. Unfortunately due to unexpected production costs the car was never fully realised and only one complete example is in existence today. This prototype was restored back to its original white paint finish and currently resides at Holden’s Melbourne offices. There is rumour that the original pre-production body is undergoing restoration somewhere in the south east of Melbourne, but one can only wait patiently until it sees the light of day. With Holden creating some of the country’s finest cars, we can only imagine what could have been if this masterpiece was put into production. What did you think of the GTR-X when you first laid eyes on it? Futuristic flop or pinnacle of motoring excellence? Head over the Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Reliving the glory days – A look at Group N Touring Cars

As motoring enthusiasts, most of us are fans of motorsport in one form or another, from the golden days at Mount Panorama to the modern high tech powerhouses we see in the V8 Supercars, we really can’t get enough motorsport action. Fortunately for those of us who are fans of classic metal we have the thrilling Touring Car Masters series on offer as well as many grass roots events. However there is another class that really holds its own in the world of competitive racing and that is Group N Touring Cars. For those unaccustomed to the old school racing category, it was introduced in 1981 and originally only cars manufactured prior to 1965 were eligible. Vehicles requirements stated that only saloons with seating for four passengers could be entered and mechanical modifications were allowed as long as they replicated those which would have existed to the prior to 1965. The class was a runaway success and due to its popularity, the eligibility criteria changed in 1995 to include cars built up until the end of December 1972, allowing a larger and more varied array of vehicles to compete. Today the group features three distinct sub categories. Group Na is suitable for cars that were commercially available in Australia prior to the end 1957 and includes timeless classics such as the Morris Oxford, Jaguar Mk 1 and the Austin A30. Group Nb is a broader class that includes vehicles that were built and cemented a competition history either overseas or on home soil, as long as the make and model was homologated by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile). These cars could be manufactured up until December 31st 1964 and includes pioneering vehicles such as EH Holden, XM Falcon and the nimble Mk1 Mini Cooper S. Group Nc is only for touring cars that competed in Australia between the start of 1965 until the end of 1972. These classics must have competed in the Australian Touring Car championship or the third category for Group C in Improved Touring Cars. This is the most popular Group N category due to its accessibility and includes many iconic cars such as the 1967 Camaro, Holden XU1 LJ Torana, XY Falcon and Valiant Charger as well as a long list of others. Group N racing is for those who want to relieve the golden days of motor racing and with these classic cars, although a handful at times, the experience can be incredibly rewarding. With the modern world moving ahead and advancing vehicle technology, many will always have a soft spot for these vintage rides and we are thankful that there are so many racing series which celebrate and promote classic car culture. Here at Rare Spares, we love keeping your old classic alive by supplying a broad range of parts and panels to keep your pride and joy running perfectly. If you have fond memories of the series, or have even entered yourself, head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and share it in the comments!

Prevention and Preservation - Safeguarding Your Classic

There is just something about old cars that makes them special, the sound, the simplicity, the nostalgia, but there are a couple things we don’t like to discuss. Their temperamental nature and expensive running costs are all second to biggest destroyer of classic metal, rust. It’s a harsh reality when it comes to owning a classic car but back in the day, automotive manufactures were focused on design and never really stopped to think how their cars will fare 30 years down the track. Most left the factory with minimal safeguards against the elements but over time, paints and finishes have improved to become more resilient to our climate, so the condition of these classic cars today was largely left in the hands of previous owners. Appropriately nicknamed “Cancer” due to its ability to spread rapidly throughout a vehicle, the sight of rust can be disheartening at first. Generally speaking you could be up for big bucks if you are lacking metal fabrication skills or aren’t on good terms with a fabricator. The process usually involves stripping the car back to bare metal and hitting it with a sand blaster, a time consuming and frighteningly expensive process. Lucky for us Rare Spares takes pride in offering replacement sections from panels to fenders and even rails and sub frames, without these god send parts, you would probably have to take out a bank loan to get things up to scratch. So once you have sorted out the rust (or made a smart purchase) it is time to make sure it doesn’t come back. Some choose not to but we think it is a good idea to prevent the rust from gaining a foothold again. Everyone has their own personal method of prevention which generally includes Fish Oil, Cavity Wax or Lanox, all we can advise is to make sure you treat the right places. We suggesting hitting the door sills, inner guards, wheel wells, cavities, anywhere water can collect, it can rust.  Nowadays cars are coated from factory to prevent rust, but modern cars still miss the classic feel and charm of a vintage masterpiece. If you have carried out a big repair job or have your own rust prevention secret, head over the comments section of the Rare Spares page let us know!  

Off the beaten path – A look at some of Australia’s best driving roads

We are all privileged to call Australia home, with world class scenery right at our door step and summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to get our pride and joy ready for some amazing road trips. Here is a list of some of Australia’s best driving roads and what makes them so special. Great Ocean Road – Victoria   Covering 243km of some of the country’s most breathtaking coastline, the winding road passes through lush rainforests, over limestone cliffs and alongside a number of offshore inlets and blowholes. Originally built as a memorial to those who fought in World War I, the coastal marvel is home to a number of tourist attractions such as The Twelve Apostles and the London Bridge. Although the speed limit has been lowered over time, it still doesn’t make it any less breathtaking. 99 Bends – Tasmania With a stretch of road known by locals as the 99 Bends, you’d be able to bet that it is one hell of a drive. The sections of winding road are a fleeting example of what Victoria’s closest neighbour has on offer. Smooth freshly paved tarmac glides through some of Tassie’s best mountain ranges making the route a true test of skill and bravery. The stretch of road is also a favourite among drivers or the Targa Tasmania, but whether you have a high performance street machine or a classic cruiser, this road never fails to impress. Macquarie Pass - New South Wales Deep within one of New South Wales many national parks, hides an extraordinary 8km road that has many stories to tell. With an abundance of narrow roads, tight hairpins, steep roadways and limited visibility, the stretch is notorious for accidents, but when driven with caution, the technical and testing road is incredibly rewarding. Black Spur Drive - Victoria A favorite spot among car enthusiasts and motorcyclists alike, Black Spur Drive is one of Victoria’s many unique offerings. The towering Eucalyptus trees and a sea of flora and fauna, makes the backdrop one of a kind. The road twists and turns over 30km between Healesville and Narbethong and features many hairpin turns and short punchy straights. Although two thirds of the Black Spur was burnt in the Black Saturday firestorm, the road is still just as beautiful as it is challenging. Think we’ve missed a couple or have a few secret spots of your own? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and share your favourite piece of asphalt in the comments!

The Rotary Holden – When Cultures Collide

Many of us have fond memories of the old HJ Holden. Whether it was the humble sedan, the handy wagon, useful ute or even the mighty Monaro, these cars are a staple of our automotive history. Featuring a base 173c straight six up to a 308ci V8, these cars were quite a performer at the time, but there is another tale to the humble Holden that lived a very different life overseas. Japan is known for its automotive quirks and out of the box designs, but in 1975 there was a prestige car taking place. Mazda needed a flagship sedan that was large, comfortable and would appeal the luxury vehicle market. Having made ties with General Motors, our HJ Premier was soon exported to the land of the rising sun to fill their missing segment. Exporting cars and re badging them is nothing new and has been done for many years, but Mazda didn’t want to skip on adding it’s most well-known feature to the luxury sedan, a factory fitted wankel rotary engine. The 13b has featured in many of the brands cars over the years but its most unique use would undeniably be in the Holden HJ. Known as the Mazda Road Pacer, the rebadged (and re-engined) HJ (and later HX) Premier and most were destined for use by Japanese Diplomats and high ranking government officials. The car offered many ultra-luxurious features that no one knew they wanted such as a central locking system that automatically activated over 10km/h, a chime system that activated at 90 km/h, duel air conditioning, a mini fridge in the boot a dictation systems and stereo that could be controlled from both the front and rear seats. The short lived unicorn was made over the span of two years and with only 840 produced and with Japans snowing winter conditions, not many have expected to last to the current day, making the car as rare as hen’s teeth. The strangest thing is that some die hard Mazda/ and Holden fans have imported a handful of these cars back to Australia. So if you see one of Holden’s classic icons sporting a pair of quirky fender mirrors, just know that the owner hasn’t miss-matched two classic car cultures and probably has a story to tell about his Road Pacer.

Reborn Wrecks – Creating a Masterpiece

When it comes to cars we often picture ourselves cruising down long winding roads or working away in the shed, getting our pride and joy running just right. But sometimes that’s just not enough to satisfy our automotive obsession. Most of us are just big kids at heart and now we have the tools to turn those left over spares sitting at the back of the shed into something special. Some may frown because these parts could be used to restore other classics, but these cars can be beyond repair and it could be their last chance before they are sent to china and turned into a fridge. Many creative individuals have spent countless hours and money on turning forgotten or discarded parts and sections into some of the most original furniture and decretive items. Buying a wreck can be cheap as chips and if you have some fabrication skills and a little bit of creativity on your side, there is no limit to what you can do. For those who couldn’t see themselves carving up a piece of classic metal, Rare Spares provides a plethora of reproduction panels so you can sleep easier at night. Pool at the pub is fun, but how about having your favourite American classic converted into a pool table? Carpool Tables in the US turns out these wonders starting at a cool $10,000 US, but we think it might be more fun making it yourself!     Who doesn’t love BBQ? The only thing we could think that would make it better is being able to stare at your favourite classic whilst cooking away. Take this incredible HDT Torana for example, our personal favourite and definitely a good way to forget the salad.     It’s not an uncommon sight to see old Chevrolets rear cuts turned into bench seats at American Diners, especially considering their size and comfort from factory! Man Cave’s all over the country are hiding some of the wildest and most unique creations. If you or someone you know has created a unique piece of automotive art, feel free to post it in the comments section on our Facebook page!

Jason Bright – A look at one of motorsports most familiar faces

Australian Motorsport has many characters and one of the most well-known names in the scene would be Jason Bright. Born in Moe in regional Victoria, Bright’s fondness for competitive racing started at a young age. Beginning his motor racing career in 1988, the then 15 year old Bright took the title of the Junior Club Championship in Gippsland. The fast learner went on to win the Senior Championship at the club a year later, showing that he was as eager as anyone to cut his teeth into the world of professional motorsport. Bright’s success in karting led to him competing in the Victorian Formula Ford Championship and then moved into the Australian category in 1993. After successfully winning the Australian Formula Ford Championship in 1995, Bright finished runner-up in the Australian Drivers Championship in 1996 however managed to snag two wins in the US Formula Ford 2000 in the same year and was awarded Rookie of the year. The progressive driver made his debut into V8 Supercars a year later at the fast and tight Symmons Planes Raceway. His on track performance was noticed and he was soon indoctrinated by Stone Brothers Racing after becoming a full time touring car driver. Bright promptly won the Bathurst Classic (one of his favourite personal achievements) in 1998 before departing Australia with his eyes set on a Champ/ Indy car racing title in 2000. After coming in sixth in the Indy Lights Series in America, Bright returned home and signed on with the Holden Racing Team in 2001, coming in third for the season. Bright later established Britek Motorsport in 2005 whilst driving for Ford Performance Racing and unfortunately experienced difficulty propelling the marque to success with limited placings in the V8 Supercar series. Although Bright joined his own team in 2007, the dissolution of Britek Motorsport eventually led to him joining the Brad Jones Racing (BJR) team in 2010. Since then, the competitive driver has managed to claim many podium finishes over the years as well as the memorable JR Trophy at Pukekohe in 2013. Bright is still racing for BJR in this season of the V8 Supercar series and it’s clear to see how he has become such a highly regarded competitor. “I’ll keep racing competitively as long as I continue to enjoy it; I’m not ready to hang up my helmet just yet!" Not short on racing experience, with a string of international and local victories under his belt, Rare Spares are proud to support such a talented motorsport veteran.  

Reflecting on a Legend – The Story of the Rare Spares Ambassador

John Bowe is one of Australia’s most highly respected motorsport icons with an incredibly successful career that spans over four decades. The living legend carved his own path being the only driver in Australian motorsport history to win an incredible six National Championships in four categories. JB started his journey in 1971 debuting in Formula Vee and taking out the Tasmanian title at the early age of 16. Winning the Formula Ford crown a year later showed that the young gun had what it took and his motorsport journey began. JB’s career stepped up significantly in speed when he joined the ranks of the Formula 5000 category, breaking through in 1984 to claim his first Australian Drivers Championship and showed the ADC was no fluke, taking the title for a second time a year later.  Bowe received the coveted CAMS Gold Star in 1984 and 1985 and it propelled him into the sphere of the Touring Car world. He made his Touring Car debut in the Mark Petch Motorsport 240 Turbo during 1985, becoming a full time Volvo driver for the 1986 season. In 1987 JB took on the endurance season as co-driver to Glenn Seton with the Nissan Motorsport team. 1988 would prove pivotal for JB, joining the Dick Johnson Racing Team (DJR) in the nimble, high power turbo Ford Sierra RS500 starting his long term association with the blue oval. Racing in the Touring Car Championship and continuing victories with DJR, JB’s legendary status was beginning to take place. Fast forward a couple of years and the team landed their first Sandown 500 win. It wasn’t until shortly after in 1994 that JB and Dick Johnson held off five pursuing Holdens late in the race to take the win in one of the most intense Bathurst 1000’s ever, a moment that is still etched in every motorsport fanatic’s brain. With many successful moments, JB eventually left DJR in 1999, and after spending time with PAE Motorsport, went on to join Brad Jones Racing in 2002 and transformed the team soon after. His final season was in 2007 racing for Paul Cruickshank Racing. Upon retiring from full time racing, he had 213 Championship race starts, a record that still stands today. Completing 22 seasons with the level of success the JB had is feat that will never be forgotten. Bowe was inducted into the V8 Supercars hall of fame in 2009 for his incredible achievements in the sport. JB has continued his love affair with the world of motorsport, racing for various teams and working with Ford as their factory test driver. JB hasn’t shied away from the limelight with an impressive 80 Touring Car Masters races under his belt he has won three TCM titles in his own 1969 Ford Mustang “Sally” Trans Am, and his last in a Holden Torana SL/R 5000. “I wanted to drive something that was Australian, and honestly I’ve always had a soft spot for the Torana since I was a kid,” explained John. Although we have touched on a brief history of JB, we cannot go without mentioning his passion and enthusiasm for the world of motorsport, continually motivating newcomers and mentoring many current and future champions. “I am leaning more towards the historic scene nowadays, but honestly, I love motorsport and I will continue to be involved in one way or another for as long as I can,” mentioned John. JB’s love for the automotive world has never been a secret and we at Rare Spares are proud to have John Bowe as our Ambassador for the past ten years. “I am a car enthusiast through and through, and we all share a common bond, without Rare Spares, three quarters of Aussie classics on the road wouldn’t be on there,” he added. We are certain that the next ten years will be just as exciting and in the famous words of Mark Skaife “Bowe can drive anything”, and we are sure he will continue to do so for many years to come.  

Race HQ – Chasing glory in one of the most popular Holden’s ever built

The Holden HQ will forever be remembered as the most popular Holden ever built in Australia, with close to half a million rolling out of Holden factory’s between 1971-1974. The HQ is also debatably one of the best looking cars the company has ever made (yes we know there are plenty of others) and is one of the brands most versatile; available in sedan, wagon, panel van, and coupe variants. These vehicles were powered by various engines during production, from the humble 173ci six cylinder red motor all the way through to the cracking 350ci Chevrolet V8, there has always been something for everyone. The once commonplace car has now caught the eye of collectors, leading prices to climb, however there are still so many diehard fans of Holden’s popular platform that there is an entire race series dedicated to them! HQ Racing Australia has been around for over 25 years and offers affordable grassroots motorsport to anyone seeking cheap thrills. The series spans the entire country, with each state running their own events. When we think of racing, we commonly imagine high powered beasts that would blow the doors off a modern car, however this series has a kicker, the requirement to race is that the HQ Kingswood must be near stock and retain the factory fitted 202ci Red Motor and single barrel Stromberg carburettor mated to a 3 speed manual. Now that’s what we call a challenge. Due to the restrictions the racing is extremely close, which means that there is inevitably some panel damage occurring. This is probably why HQ parts were being swallowed up very quickly until remanufactured parts could be made - and we're glad we can help out here! However the HQ hasn’t been known to be a slug by any means, and all you have to do is look to the other end of the spectrum to see that some are still given the go fast treatment. The Touring Car Masters (TCM) is arguably Australia’s premier classic racing series, and always has a HQ or two in the mix. One of the most well-known would be Brett Youlden's lime green HQ Monaro. The car was originally purchased as a rusty shell, then restored and loaded with all the goodies you could imagine. The no expenses spared HQ features a heavily worked 350ci V8 with a Holley carburettor, comprehensive roll cage, Koni adjustable shocks and Alcon calipers. The car puts down a massive 630HP and 520 ft lbs of torque and if you’re keen enough, it’s currently for sale. The HQ has carved its way through Australian motoring history, and although it’s a regular show stopper at meets and car shows across the country, we can all sleep better at night knowing there is someone somewhere thrashing the absolute beans out of one!