The Brabham BT62 – Australia’s Newest Supercar

5. November 2018 09:01 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Royalty comes in a few forms. There are the royal families of the world. There’s rock royalty like Angus Young, movie royalty like Meryl Streep. Then there are motorsport royalty names like Brabham. Australia’s own Sir Jack created a special place in history with his bespoke Grand Prix cars and the engineering prowess.

Now, in 2018, the Brabham name has been thrust back into prominence with the release of a car and a company bearing the famous name. Brabham Automotive, with David Brabham, son of Sir Jack Brabham, at the helm have released earlier this year the Brabham BT62.

BT continues a small yet very significant part of the Brabham history. Sir Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac made up the BT part of the names given to the race cars built starting with the BT1 from 1961.

The BT62 is a purpose built track weapon with none of the cars to be built destined, currently, to see road work. There’s some astonishing figures that come with the sleek, aerodynamically tuned design. Weight is just 972 kilograms and the car is powered by a bespoke 5.4-L V8 that produces 522kW. Torque? Plenty, thank you, at a hefty 667Nm. A race spec exhaust is naturally fitted and has been tested to produce a 98 decibel noise limit. The fuel tank holds 125-L and fuel is entered via race spec connectors.

Hi-po cars also need downforce and the exterior design of the BT62 has plenty. In this case there is more downforce than the weight of the car, at 1200 kilograms.

That last figure is more important than the face value suggests. Brabham Automotive are only building seventy, and they’re all intended to be track-based weapons. And with weight being the enemy of racing cars, that 972 kilograms comes courtesy of carbon fibre body panels, including the canards, front aeroblades and splitter, the dual element rear wing and diffuser, and the floor.

Race tech is in the form of a dry sump lubrication system, Motec engine control, and a fly by wire throttle system. An air jack system for quick lift and wheel change is also fitted. More Australian royalty in the form of a Hollinger six speed sequential transmission that has an engine “blip” on downshift can be found underneath the svelte bodywork, plus bespoke paddle shifts.

Being a track day oriented machine also means some basics need to be fitted. A FIA approved safety master-switch is coupled with a race spec 12 inch digital screen complete with GPS tracking and timing. Ride and handling comes courtesy of double wishbones front and rear that hold push-rod Ohlins TTX dampers and coil-over shocks.

The BT62 incorporates Brabham components to add extra Brabham DNA. Centre lock race wheels from Brabham are wrapped in 11J x 18 rubber up front, 13J x 18 at the rear. Brembo supply the stoppers with carbon pads on carbon discs, with 380mm and 355m front and rear.

The suspension has Brabham’s own Combined Bump Limiter, which minimizes front and rear yaw action. Brabham also fit their own steering wheel made from carbon fibre with the driver ensconced in a Brabham seat.

To be made available in a Celebration and Signature series, commemorating Brabham wins or personal design touches, brabhamautomotive.com stands ready to take your order…if any cars are left.

What do you think of Australia’s newest supercar? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page, and let us know in the comment section below this article.

Classic Australian Touring Cars

Brand loyalty. It’s a “thing” that companies spend a lot of money on in research and making it happening. Perhaps the best example of this is in the world of cars and there’s nothing more stronger nor more divisive than the love a man hath for the brand of car.

That’s why any list of Australia’s top touring cars will always be subjective, sure to cause discussion, and will be debated at length. Agreed, there are the drivers and team to consider but tell that to the marketing teams.

1. Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III

1971 and Bathurst see this car linked permanently in our motorsport history. Lap 43 of The Great Race saw Bill Brown and his yellow XY roll along the Armco after his front right tyre blew at over 100mph coming into McPhillamy Park. Three and a half rolls later Brown and his XY became part of folklore. Though it wasn’t the first time Bill had put a GT-HO on its lid, but that is a story for another day.

However there is the car itself. In qualifying for 1971’s race the top seven grid spots would be occupied by this racing machine from the Blue Oval factory. The top two cars were factory backed, the other five from privateers, and just 1.1 seconds separated fourth through to seven. Pole sitter Allan Moffat would take pole by three seconds ahead of John French.

Moffat and his Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III would go on to win the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500 and would fill in five of the top ten positions at race finish.

2. TWR Jaguar XJ-S

Jaguar is one of those brands that is either a love, or it’s a ummm, no thanks. And whilst it may not instantly be recognized as a classic Australian touring car, it did win a Bathurst 1000. The Jaguar’s Bathurst story started when Tom Walkinshaw Racing took the long and elegantly designed V12 from one of Britain’s oldest brands, and turned a grand touring car into a race oriented touring car.

The car itself took over from the legendary E-Type in 1975 and in racing trim would be entered into the then Group C category. This was for cars with engines of over three litres in capacity and placed the near five metre long “Jag” against Holden’s VK Commodore with a 5.0L V8.

In the hands of TWR and Tom himself, three XJ-S machines would be in the top ten for the 1985 James Hardie 1000. Entitled “Hardies Heroes” grid spots 6, 2, and 1 would have the JRA Ltd backed cars in place. John Goss piloted the number 10 badged car for sixth in the shootout, with Jeff Allam and Walkinshaw himself taking second and pole.

Come race time and it was the German/Australian pairing of Armin Hahne and John Goss that would greet the chequered flag after 163 laps and a race time of six hours forty one minutes. Goss would also set the fastest lap with a 2:21.86.

3. Holden LX Torana SS A9X Hatchback.

Regarded as possibly one of the prettiest yet aggressive looking cars on Australian roads, the Holden Torana hatchback of the mid 1970s would be powered by a choice of six and V8 engines. With the tag of A9X giving the car a stronger differential and rear disc brakes plus slightly modified suspension and a Borg-Warner T10 manual four speed transmission.

Powered by the L34 spec 5.0L V8, Holden entered the LX into the Class A category for the 1978 Hardie-Ferodo 1000. That years was the introduction of the Hardies Heroes shootout, where drivers literally would draw the top ten running order for qualifying from a hat.

This era was also the sweet-spot for the Holden v Ford rivalry, as the top ten would see six Holdens and four Ford XC Falcon hardtops. Driven by Peter Brock, it would be the Marlboro-HDT Torana that would take pole by 8/10ths ahead of the Moffat Ford Dealers pairing of Colin Bond, a long time friend of Brock, and Allan Moffat.

History shows that the Holden LX Torana SS A9X Hatchback would fill four of the top ten finishing positions, with another two being the A9X four door versions. Brock and co-driver Jim Richards would be the only car to complete the full 163 laps, finishing a full lap ahead of another A9X hatchback driven by Allan Grice and John Leffler.

And then there was the legendary performance at Mount Panorama in 1979, where Brock and Richards would finish a staggering 6-laps ahead of everyone else – the next seven placed cars were also A9X Toranas.

4. Ford Falcon XC GS Hardtop

Ford Australia had resurrected a two door design for its legendary Falcon nameplate with the “coke bottle” XA Falcon in 1972. A slender nose would be offset by a somewhat heavy tail, with the rear flanks seemingly overwhelming the 14 inch diameter wheels. Subsequent redesigns would see subtle changes at the rear and with the blunter XB and XC noses adding an assertive presence.

Although perhaps of itself not a car that imprints itself into racing consciousness, it was the 1977 one-two finish of the big machines that has the XC Falcon two-doors in this list of classic Aussie touring cars.

Although Allan Moffat, the Canadian born driver that had made Australia his home, had qualified third, behind team mate Colin Bond, he would subsequently lay down the quickest lap of the 1977 race. Finishing a lap ahead of Peter Janson and Larry Perkins in their A9X hatchback, team orders had Moffat lead Bond into the final turn and across the line by a half car length in vision that brings tears to the eyes of Ford fans.

5. Volkswagen Beetle 1200.

1963 and the Volkswagen Beetle is finding love and homes throughout the world. It also found success on Australian racetracks. Entered into Class A, a category for cars costing less than nine hundred pounds, the “Dak-dak” would be amongst the list of cars racing at Mount Panorama for the Armstrong 500. The race had moved from Victoria’s Phillip Island and with the Australian Racing Drivers Club the new organizers.

In Class A, four VW 1200s would be in the top 5, with the winners of the class, Barry Ferguson and Bill Ford completing 116 laps of the new venue, and completing this list of the top five Australian Touring Cars.

What do you think is the greatest classic Australian Touring Car?
Tell us below or join the conversation on our Facebook page!

Picture Credit: www.autopics.com.au

Classic Bathurst Recap - 1989

Changes were in the wind in the 1989 Bathurst 1000. Sponsored by beer giant Tooheys, the event continued its growth in stature internationally, and internally. Teams expanded from one car to two, and a return to the past was made, in the form of a standing start.

The all-conquering Ford Sierra RS500 was back and in bigger numbers. Enough were here that one of Australia’s favourite sons and a Holden icon had made the jump into the Blue Oval camp. The King of the Mountain would also be involved in an incident that, although technically within the rules, wasn’t seen as being of a sporting nature.

The Sierras attracted big names from overseas. Briton Andy Rouse came in to drive alongside Peter Brock. Ruedi Eggenberger returned to run the Allan Moffat operation, with a brand new car for Klaus Niedzwiedz, Moffat and Frank Biela. Alain Ferté flew in to drive a Glenn Seton car. Toyota was here, with the six cylinder Supra. John Smith and Drew Price, while Nissan had Anders Olofsson.

This year’s race was also an advance in television coverage, with the Tooheys Top ten shootout broadcast in full for the first time. The fastest ten cars from qualifying on Friday were sent out on the Saturday to determine the positions. Of the top ten final results, all but one were Sierras, with Nissan and Jim Richards claiming seventh.

Peter Brock would be given pole and it would be the only pole position of his career that wasn’t in a Commodore powered by a V8. It would also be a frustrating result for the Holden faithful as there were no Red Lion cars to be seen in that ten. There is also a little bit of history here, with all cars in the top ten being powered by a turbocharged engine, a feat not seen before or since.

The controversy around Brock and his car was simple, in essence. A fire suppressant system in the cars used a gas called Halon. A nozzle in the engine bay after the top ten run was found in scrutineering to have been pointed towards the engine’s turbo intercooler. The theory was that the gas had been discharged, lowering the temperature and boosting the engine output. Although later deemed to be not illegal, Brock was fined five thousand dollars.

A return to the standing start procedure also raised eyebrows. With a set start time of 10:00am, a formation lap had been performed and cars lined up on the grid. However it appeared that some were a little early and the subsequent wait may have contributed to a number of cars suffering engine failures during the race.

Race start and Brock lead the field, with old mate and sparring partner Dick Johnson, (with co-driver being Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe) in hot pursuit. There would be drama for Andrew Miedecke inside the first lap, with his #6 Sierra stuck in fifth gear thanks to a broken gear selector. This came on top of the #8 sister car, driven by Andrew Bagnall, crashing during the top ten shootout, however with only light damage allowing the car to start as the tenth car.

Coming down Conrod Straight, Johnson’s Sierra would pass Brock to take the lead, where throughout the next 160 laps it would remain.

The race would see a number of cars fail to finish due to mechanical problems. Brock himself would pit his Sierra, complaining of a loose rear wheel. The Tony Longhurst and Giancarlo Brancatelli Sierras would retire with Brancatelli’s car losing a wheel, and Longhurst out after his Benson and Hedges #25 car blew a head gasket. Longhurst would move into the #20 car and along with Alan Jones and Denny Hulme completed the race in fifth.

Glenn Seton’s Sierra had found oil on the track at Skyline. Seton’s #30 Peter Jackson sponsored car slammed into the tyre barrier backwards. Seton was ok and the car was able to be driven to the pits for repair where he, John Goss, and Tony Noske would later pilot the car to 20th. The #35 car would not complete the race.

Debris from Seton’s vehicle had an unfortunate knock-on effect for Brad Jones. Brake lines are an effective piece of equipment in a car when they’re in one piece. Jones’ car would have theirs cut by the debris, leaving Jones to find that out at speed coming into the Chase. He and co-drive Paul Radisich benched the car and would lose eight laps, finishing 9th.

The Sierras were showing signs of stress with the #18 Shell Ultra Hi car, driven by the UK pairing Jeff Allam and Robb Gravett, suffering electrical issues. Allan Moffat’s second car would be parked after just thirty laps, whilst John Mann and Murray Carter’s Sierra lasted just ten.

However the Skylines and Commodores were showing no such signs. Alan grice and Peter Janson would find themselves in the top five thanks to smart fuel pit strategy however some gremlins got into the transmission, dropping them to tenth at race finish. Brock’s rear wheel issue looked to have been fixed and the team would be back in the top three half way through the race. But again a problem occurred, this time with a recalcitrant wheel nut needing to be cut off. The hub was discovered to be so worn a new one could not be fitted and the team was out.

Bowe and Johnson had cemented their lead but in the closing laps the turbo boost pressure was falling. Bowe nursed the car along enough to hold the lead, watching the second Moffat Sierra, driven by Niedzwiedz and Frank Biela eventually fall off enough for Bowe to pit for a final fuel stop and get the car across the line for the win a full minute ahead of Biela.

Third would go to Jim Richards and a young Mark Skaife, in the Nissan Skyline HR31 GTS-R, with a team driver swap having Anders Olofsson bring home the second car in fourth.

Of fifty six cars entered, twenty nine would not see the chequered flag for the Tooheys Bathurst 1000 in 1989.

Classic Bathurst Recap - 2006

The Bathurst 1000 of 2006 will be forever etched in history as the one “The King of the Mountain” watched from up high and saw his protégé’ Craig Lowndes, alongside a champion in the making, Jamie Whincup, hold the first ever Peter Brock Trophy over the pit lane crowd.

It was the second win for CL, as he’s known, and the first for Whincup after his second place the year before.

Thirty one cars would be entered in this year’s “Great Race”, with an almost even split of Holden and Ford branded vehicles. Ford would field fifteen BA Falcons, the first model after the ill-fated AU Falcon, whilst Holden showcased sixteen VZ Commodores, the final iteration of a design essentially a decade old.

Qualifying was tight and intense, resulting in the top eight cars being separated by under a second, and the top eighteen cars separated by under two seconds.

Again it was almost an even split for the then top two locally made cars, with four Falcons and six Commodores. Of the top five though, just one blue oval branded car would be there, with a former Holden driver, Jason Bright, in second. Provisonal pole had gone to Holden driver Mark Skaife in a blistering 2:06.9764, just a tenth ahead of Bright’s Falcon.

The Top Ten Shootout would see Skaife carry that form onwards, with a 2:07.4221, a full three tenths quicker than Bright. Rick Kelly, New Zealand born Jason Richards and Greg Murphy, all in Commodores, would round out the top five. Eventual race winner Lowndes, driving the Ford BA Falcon, would be beaten to fifth by a mere four one thousandths of a second.

The race itself was held on Sunday October 8. In 2006 it was the ninth race weekend of the then V8 Supercars Championship. It would also prove to be the longest race since 2002. With all 161 laps completed it finished just seven seconds shy of seven hours and a full twenty two minutes longer than the previous year.

A race start incident proved to be crucial in the final results. Pole sitter Skaife went from hero to zero within a half minute, with a clutch failure leaving him battling to get his Commodore moving to race speed. Although he had cleared the first corner he had got as far as the first rise on the road to the top of the mountain, and with heavy traffic behind him an unfortunate Jack Perkins was blindsided, ploughing his Commodore into Skaife’s and forcing him into the wall.

This allowed the second grid spot driver, Jason Bright and his co-driver Mark Winterbottom, to take the lead. However a brake lockup had Bright require a tyre change with just fifteen laps completed. More woe befell the duo with Winterbottom garaging the car on lap 28. A full fourteen cars would fail to finish the 2006 race, with Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe, alongside his mate and co-driver Brad Jones, finishing eleventh.

The race was punctuated by a number of safety car interventions, including one of over twenty minutes after the veteran Kiwi born Paul Radisich, on lap 71, had his Commodore spear into a retaining wall at the Chase. The impact rolled the car onto its side and left Radisich in need of trackside marshal intervention to remove him from his stricken vehicle. Just six laps would be held in that fourth hour of the race.

As seems traditional with the Bathurst 1000, a late race incident played a part in the final standings. Jason Richards also lost control and hit a wall. Laps remaining were just ten. Rick Kelly and Craig Lowndes were dealing with a six second buffer prior to the final safety car call to deal with the Richards car. A fired up Lowndes would lay down the race’s quickest lap on the 158th circuit of the 6.213 kilometres worth of tarmac, and would greet the chequered flag a bare half second ahead of a determined Kelly.

In tumultuous and emotional scenes on the presentation balcony, Lowndes would be in tears as he acknowledged his late friend and mentor, Peter Brock.

Is 2006 your favourite Bathurst 1000? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us your memories of the weekend in the comments section below this article.

Rare Spares – Commodore Goes International.

27. August 2018 10:07 by Rare Spares in General, Rare Spares  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

It’s almost an ice to Eskimos and coal to Newcastle situation. Holden, the isolated arm of General Motors, was once a huge exporter of Aussie built cars, and that includes the Commodore.

It was built here in Australia and sold in the U.S. under the Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet SS labels, with the latter bringing a wry smile to those that decried the Chev badge on a Commodore in Australia. Finally, a Commodore that left the factory with the bowtie badge fitted!

The cars were largely the same as those seen “down under” with the obvious noticeable exception being the switch to left hand drive. The Pontiac G8, based on the Holden VE Commodore, was sold there over the 2008-2009 model years. Pontiac as a brand was discontinued by GM in 2009 however, leaving Holden and GM in a bind as to what could be supplied.

The G8 featured a larger and more muscular looking twin nostril front end than the VE Commodore and a redesigned lower front bumper section. The G8 was initially released as the G8 with a 3.6L V6 before the GT and GXP, packing a 6.0L and 6.2L V8 respectively. The GXP was loaded with the sporty FE3 suspension package, leather interior, and a six speed manual transmission that was originally slated to be in the GT. The GT itself featured cosmetics such as a quad exhaust rear end and clear tail light lenses, an 11 speaker sound system from Blaupunkt in Germany, and offered options such as 19 inch wheels.

Holden had a history with Pontiac going back to the early noughties. The GTO, a rebadged and rebodied Monaro made its debut there in 2004. Unfortunately, the GTO didn’t sell well in the American market – they didn’t take to the Australian built GTO like they had in the past for the American built versions. The Commodore also sold as the Chevrolet Lumina SS in the Middle East and the Vauxhall Monaro in the UK, it was powered by the 5.7L/350cid V8 found in the Corvette of the day. Pontiac’s history was evident with the familiar large twin nostril design before an addition in 2005 had an extra pair on intakes fitted to the bonnet. The final model in 2006 came with a 300kW 6.0L engine.

Holden also shipped the ute and Caprice to the U.S. The Caprice formed the basis for a vehicle used in various police forces whilst the ute was marketed as a sports truck, the G8 ST. The Caprice was so popular with the American police force that an exclusive PPV (Police Patrol Vehicle) version as built. It featured a unique column shift automatic transmission – which was not used on any other model in the range. It was not available to the public, and could only be ordered for Police use.

The export program was quite successful for Holden, with revenue of $1.3billion reported in 2006. Despite the success for Holden in Australia, General Motors in the USA decided to park the Pontiac brand, after more than 80 years history with the nameplate. The demise of Pontiac also left Holden in Australia with a lot of spare parts that were no longer required. To utilise the Pontiac spares, Holden introduced an optional no-cost package on the series 2 VE Commodore SSV featuring the Pontiac G8 style nose and style.

After Pontiac was benched, GM re-introduced the Commodore as the Chevrolet SS. This was based on Holden’s VF platform. Sold from late 2013 until the program was cancelled in 2017, just shy of 12,900 cars were sold.

The SS sold in the U.S.  powered by the LS3 V8 that punched out 309kW and 563Nm. Standard transmission was a paddle shift fitted six speed auto. Holden’s engineering team had stiffened the chassis, rejigged the suspension settings, and improved the safety factor by re-engineering the steels used. The redesigned chassis rails combined with electronic items such as Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, and a better electrical system.

What are your thoughts on the export program? Did you buy one of the Commodores that was released with the Pontiac body add-ons? Let us know via the comments section or on our Facebook page.