Seeing Stars – Superstars and their Cars

When it comes to the automotive bug, it seems that no one is immune. Although our cars can all vary by value, we all have one thing in common, a passion for machinery on four wheels. Whether it’s the way they drive, the nostalgia or even pure style of a ride, we all have a soft spot for mankind’s arguably greatest invention. Here we will take a look at a few of the entertainment industries most notable characters and the breath taking fleet of cars that they have in their arsenal. It’s probably best to start this list with the one person we would probably all put our hands up to trade places with. He may not be known for his outgoing dress style, but this American talk show host’s car collection is something of a childhood fantasy. Jay Leno possesses more supercars than most museums, holding some incredibly rare (and expensive) pieces in his collection such as the 1994 McLaren F1, 1969 Lamborghini Miura S and even the timeless 1955 Mercedes 300SL. Not a supercar snob by any means, Leno also a 1970 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and a 1963 Corvette Stingray hiding around in his 130 car warehouse! He may have single handily ruined top gear and take the award for the most annoying bloke on the planet, but UK car fanatic Chris Evans has a few rides that easily makes him the envy of many car nuts across the world. His collection over the years has included a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder which was previously owned by Steve McQueen, the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, a 1972 VW Beetle and even a Porsche 944 Cabriolet, talk about a varied taste. Jerry Seinfeld has been a comedy mastermind for many years but most car lovers know him for something else. Seinfeld’s collection is known to almost rival that of Leno’s and with more than 60 cars under his wing, he is always on the lookout for the next thing to catch his eye. When looking at his collection, you can see that each car has been personally selected out of pure passion and the man clearly has an undeniable draw to Porsches. His fleet includes a 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR and an incredible 1990 Porsche 962C. He even has the first air-cooled Porsche 911, which he still considers his favorite.   Bringing it back to home shores who could not include Eric Bana. The Aussie acting legends roots had been clearly grown from the blue oval, with his first car, a 1973 Ford Falcon XB Coupe, featured in his stand out films for car lovers, Love the Beast. Add to that the fact that Bana races in the Targa Tasmania and it’s clear that this actor has earned the title of celebrity gearhead. With such a broad automotive spectrum, sometimes we can feel pretty envious of people who have mass collections of dream cars. However, we think as long as you have something you can call your pride and joy sitting in your driveway, then you are just as lucky. Who would you like to swap spots with for a day? What would you have in your dream collection? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below!

2016 Motorsport Season Wrap Up

When it comes to the automotive world, it definitely goes without saying that we at Rare Spares are suckers for Motorsport. Whether it be the iconic Supercars (formally V8 Supercars) or the Touring Car Masters, we can’t get enough of fast and furious four wheeled action. Here we will take a look back at some of the series my exciting moments and how they finished up. Last year the Supercar series went through, some big changes, one of which was dropping the V8 name from the series to make way for turbo charged vehicles. However, the year was not without incident. Who could forgot the Red Bull poster boys Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen fighting at the front throughout the season, until the second last round in New Zealand where one punted the other, sending Van Gisbergen sliding off the road. This Supercars season also saw the first full-time female racer in decades enter the series. Simona De Silvestro was a former Indy Car racer and with her impressive wild card entry in the 2015 Bathurst, she was locked into a three year deal in the Australian category. Some other big moments saw HRT move to Triple Eight with Holden choosing the team over Walkinshaw Racing, ahead of the development of their new 2nd generation Supercar. The biggest story would have to go to the events that took place at the Bathurst 1000. Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were named the Bathurst champions after a dramatic end to the race in October. Whincup was stripped of his first place result due to a 15 second time penalty that was applied post-race. The series ended up being taken out by Van Gisbergen after an extraordinary display of skill and ability throughout the year. The Touring Car Masters also provided nothing short of a thrilling series once again, with high horse power and classic metal never failing to impress. One of the most memorable moments would go to the man Glenn Seton taking out the title for the first Trans-Tasman challenge. The Touring Car Masters and Central Muscle Cars went head to head at Mount Panorama for an incredibly exciting race which saw the Thunder Road Racing Team Australia driver claim his third TCM race win at Bathurst and fourth of the season. The series also provided some valiant efforts with Eddie Abelnica ending a 64 race streak without a Touring Car Masters race victory, thanks to a brilliant performance at the stunning Phillip Island GP Circuit. Abelnica powered his Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars XB Falcon hardtop to the win from fourth on the grid, passing Glenn Seton, Jason Gomersall and John Bowe in an outstanding display of steering. The Touring Car Master season title went to none other than Rare Spares ambassador, John Bowe, after he recorded his eighth race win of the year with an 80 point lead ahead of second place winner, Eddie Abelnica. With such an exciting season of Motorsport behind us, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate automotive scene and with 2017 in full swing, we cannot wait to see what this year will bring!

Summer Loving - Australia’s best driving roads (Continued)

Australia isn't called the lucky country for nothing, we have great weather (in some places), a thriving automotive culture and world class scenery at our doorstep. So when it comes to the great Aussie road trip, we really are spoilt for choice. Here we will continue our list of amazing drives, just in time for summer.   The Nullarbor Plain -Western Australia (pictured above) If you have a few days to spare then we suggest heading off from Ceduna in SA and head west for 2000km to Perth through the wide, almost treeless, landscape of the Nullarbor. It may be dry and known as a harsh environment, but it’s surely no desert. The flowing wooded hills flatten out to plateaus that are sprinkled with bluebush. Kangaroos line the roads and giant wedge-tailed eagles patrol the skies. You’ll probably need a four-wheel-drive if you plan to leave the highway, but otherwise it’s easy driving with plenty to take in.  Kuranda - Queensland (pictured above) If you take off from the tropical beaches of Cairns, it won't take long before you are experiencing the incredible World Heritage listed rainforest air around the mountain retreat of Kuranda. We suggest keeping your windows down along the route to truly take in the humming of thousands of cicadas from among huge buttress trees as  well as the sounds of the birds that call the rainforest home.  Uluru to Kings Canyon - Northern Territory (pictured above) This three hour drive along the Lasseter Highway from the red rock to Kings Canyon will provide you with true blue red earth country and skies bigger than you could ever imagine. You can also take the trip starting off at Alice Springs and take on the Red Centre Way. You’ll need about five days, with stops at historic towns and ancient rock art sites, not to mention the odd wild camel, this is one special journey. Sydney to Melbourne Most of the time this trip is made by budget airline, but did you know that choosing the four wheeled option can be a lot more fun? Expect a string of quant coastal towns, wild camping spots, vast national parks and turquoise lagoons. The lovely scenery is complimented by plenty of beaut fishing spots, birdlife galore and many kangaroos who regularly pose for photographs beside the surf at Pebbly Beach. With all these great spots to check out, we say fill up the tank, throw in your swag and get to adventuring! What's your favourite drive? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments! 

The Lost Playgrounds – Revisiting Forgotten Race Tracks

The world of motorsport is the driving force behind many of our automotive passions, from Brocky conquering the mountain to drivers trying to be the fastest down the strip, the automotive landscape we know and love was built on the many scenes that exist within it. Unfortunately as time moves on and budgets deplete, these once famed automotive playgrounds turn to nothing more than bare concrete overrun by the earth underneath claiming back its territory. Here we will take a look at some of the forgotten racetracks that time has forgotten.  Catalina Park – Australia (pictured above) Starting on home turf, “The Gully” was a 2.1 km circuit which opened on February 12 in 1961 and was originally the home of top level motorsport during the 1960s. The mountainous location featured amazing scenery however it was prone to fog which regularly caused delays to races. The track was incredibly narrow by today’s standards and was surrounded by walls, railings and hillside. The tracks use decreased with the opening of other circuits closer to Sydney such as Oran Park and Amaroo Park and closed at the start of the 2000.   Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track – Japan (pictured above) Once upon a time this was Japans most famed tracks. Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track was built in the 1960’s to serve as Japans first official Formula 1 Grand Prix track, however it didn't take long before it began changing hands rapidly. First it was designated as a NASCAR track, and then it sold to Mitsubishi and later become Toyota’s property. With its high speed banked corners, Fuji Speedway NASCAR Track was abandoned after it was decided to be too dangerous for modern motorsport.   Valencia GP Circuit - Spain (pictured above) Although this marvellous track may be one of the most recently built, it has still suffered a similar fate to those before it, with financial misfortune the cause of its demise The Valencia GP track was built in 2007 and was used as an official F1 GP track but failure to negotiate a deal with the F1, the owners soon abandoned the track in 2015. When it comes to places to test your machine, there are plenty of well-known and exciting locations. However we feel that some of the super circuits, if only given a chance, could come back more exciting than when they left.  What is your favourite racing track? Which ones do you have the fondest memories of? Make sure to head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page to let us know! 

Rent-A-Racer - The Ford Shelby GT-350H Mustang

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drive an iconic American muscle car? Back in May 1966, Hertz New York took that same wondrous thought and made it a reality with the “Rent-A-Racer” program. This genius idea gave every day people the ability to rent a street legal track spec Shelby GT-350 for only $17 per day ($70 per week) plus an additional 0.17c per mile. Apart from the colour scheme, the 1966 Ford Shelby GT-350 was mechanically no different from the Ford Shelby GT-350H with the H simply stating for “Hertz”. The Hertz version was released in the incredibly popular gold stripes on black paintwork compared to the standard Shelby with white with blue stripes plus a few other optional variations. The 1966 Shelby delivered 306hp under foot (a 35hp increase from standard high performance mustangs with 271hp) plus a few other go fast bits such as high rise manifold, a big four barrel carby, 11 inch Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes to help pull up the extra horsepower, wider tyres to aid the muscle car physique, front sway bar for stiffness and a full set of Koni’s at all four corners. 50 years on Hertz is once again offering the performance thoroughbred to the world. This year the iconic Ford Shelby GT Mustang has been released with the “H” attached to selected Hertz outlets. So if you’re flying around America, you are able to enquire about the Hertz Adrenaline Collection of cars and you will soon have the option to rent a 2016 Ford Shelby GT-H Mustang. Although the $17 per day price point may have taken a slight increase, the newer edition has some major increases to merit the cost, improvements in drivability, aesthetics and power will be the main updates for the new halo car. There were 1000 Mustangs produced for Hertz in 1966, while it’s unsure at this point how many are to be produced for the 2016 release, it’s sure to be limited, so early bookings will no doubt be a necessity if you want the chance to realise your dream of driving one of the most iconic & prestigious American muscle cars ever to grace the black top. What did you think of the Rent-a-Racer idea? Did the car look the part or fail to impress? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Wooden Wonders – The world of wood panelled cars

As automotive enthusiasts, there are a million and one things we love about cars. From exhilarating performance to their racing pedigree and history, there is a broad spectrum of things that appeal to us, but all of this is nothing without style. There have been a number of body styles over the years, some quirky and some more practical, but one of the most unique to appear in the automotive spectrum would be those with wood panels or “Woodies”. These vehicles were the example of outstanding craftsmanship and design flair and here we will take a brief look at the origins of the style and some of the cars that defined the movement. In the early days of engineless transport, wood was used in the construction of many horse drawn carts and carriages. These sound design elements naturally transferred across too many early motor vehicles, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that cars with wood become the desirable choice. It was Ford in 1929 with the Model A that claimed the title of the first mass produced Woodie, with more than half of the vehicles exterior being crafted with timber. Although the use of this material was a relatively common place at the time, advancements in steel stamping slowly pushed wood to be used more for styling than structure. The 1946-48 Chrysler Town and Country was one of the vehicles that adopted wooden styling and hit the nail on the head in terms of design. The station wagon was the first Woodie with an all-steel roof and featured wooden double doors (also called “Barrel Back” doors) and came in a four door sedan layout. The popular Chrysler Town and Country two door convertible was also offered and at the time was the most luxurious car on the market! The Packard Super Eight was produced pre-WWII and was one of the most luxurious of the time. The vehicle featured a 160HP straight eight engine, not to mention wooden doors and rear quarter panels. However, the Woodie movement was not without its ugly ducklings and this generally came in the form of “faux” wood made with vinyl trim which began plaguing cars from the 1970’s all the way to the 1990’s. Thankfully this trend never really caught on in Australia. When it comes to cars of a bygone era, its clear to see how outstanding design and creativity can stand the test of time. Although beautiful, we are pretty happy that manufactures steered away from termite-bait on wheels to more practical and durable materials. What do you think of these wooden wonders? Timeless beauties, or better left to rot? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

The Modern Classic – Taking a look at the last of the mighty Monaro’s

Australia has had its fair share of automotive icons over the years, vehicles that encouraged, shaped and defined our automotive culture as we know it. The Holden Monaro has been one particular model that arguably takes out the crown as one of Australia’s most important four wheeled creations and, with a linage that spans a number of decades, the car has won its place in the hearts of enthusiasts across the country. Here we will take a look at the last of the popular two door coupes which farewelled one of Australia’s most loved performance breeds, the Holden Monaro CV8. The first CV8 Monaro graced the automotive scene 20 years after the HX LE was released. The car had created its own culture and was the prized fighter in the Holden vs Ford debate, so the third coming of the vehicle had big shoes to fill. The first modern Monaro concept was revealed in 1998 at the now debunked Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The VT-Based coupe received so much fanfare that Holden had no choice but to give the people what they wanted. The first release occurred 3 years later in 2001 with the VX Commodore based Monaro CV8 (V2) coming onto the scene in spectacular fashion. The Aussie powerhouse featured a 5.7 L Gen III V8 mated to either a 6 Speed manual or 4 speed automatic transmission. The Series 2 model soon debuted at the start of 2003 with a revised dashboard from the VY Commodore, a new wheel design and various colour changes. The CV8-R was a limited edition variant that was available in either a grey or red colour scheme. It wasn’t until the VZ Monaro hit the market in 2004 that the vehicle received revised front and rear bumper assemblies and the infamous double ducted bonnet. Holden knew that the coupes time was nearing closer to an end so the final incarnation of the Monaro was produced, the CV8-Z, and was limited to 1100 units. The CV8-Z featured a sunroof, unique wheels and bold colour choices and was revered by many as a fitting farewell to the Monaro legacy. As soon as Holden announced it was the end of the line of the Monaro, many had hoped, or even wished that it was going to make a comeback with a next model release, however as we now know, with Holden ceasing Aussie manufacturing, this last hurrah of the true Aussie performance coupe will forever hold its place in the history books. What did you think the CV8 did the Monaro name justice? Have you owned one of these fierce rides? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

Licenced to Thrill – The world of Expensive Numberplates

Many of us work hard to try and obtain the car of our dreams, spending countless hours and cash to make them just right, but there is one side of the automotive spectrum that many consider the icing on the cake, the simple licence plate. Some care not for a customised rectangle, but for others, it’s what matters the most. Here we will take dip into the world of expensive number plates and see what all the hype (and cost!) is about. Many of us have heard the urban legends of certain plates selling for 6 figures but haven’t experienced it firsthand, yet there is an entire market place that exists beneath the surface which dedicated to unique, exclusive and desirable number plates. There are a few things that make up a sought-after plate, and these usually aren’t your high school nicknames (I’m talking to you “Smithy”). Things such as the model of a particular vehicle, such as 911 for a Porsche or GT-HO for a Falcon, easily add to the exclusivity of the plate. The value doesn’t lie in the material of the plate, but the bragging rights of finishing off a special car with its name sake.For those living the highlife, the digits game is the place to be. The general rule is the fewer digits on the plate, the greater its potential resale value is and case is in point would be the single digit 1. The Victorian plate was purchased from retired mechanic from Ballarat in 1984 for $165,000 and is now currently owned by the owner of Coles and Fosters Peter Bartels current value, estimated at a cool $2.5 million, not a bad investment by any means. Some other honourable mentions would be the purchase of a Dubai “D5” and “1” numberplates for $9 million and $14 million respectively. For many of us our pride and joy provides us with enjoyment and passion, but when passion goes to extremes, it’s not crazy to think that those with the cash would want to highlight it more. Do you have an awesome numberplate of your own? Ever sell a plate only to find out its worth a mint? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section.

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! ­­­

When scrap comes back – The revival of the Datsun 240k

When it comes to cars that flew under the radar, it is hard to think that the humble Datsun 240k would ever become a collector’s item, but like many unique cars of the era, they are growing in appeal and value. The 240k was released in the early 70’s from the growing Japanese Datsun brand and debuted into a market filled with HQ Holden’s, VH Valiant’s and XA Falcon’s. The vehicle was not always considered the best in terms of looks quickly labelled as unattractive by the media, slotting somewhere above the questionable 120Y’s and behind the sleek 240z. The car featured a straight six L24 engine and cost around $5000 at the time, however it was a big call to spend that amount of money on a car that was considered by many to be inferior to its home grown counterparts.   Coming in both sedan and coupe variants, the car sold well, although with no performance orientated model, the car never garnered the curb side appeal of a GT Falcon or Holden Monaro. It was seen as nothing more than a little Japanese run around and this image of the car and moving times saw them move into a class that could be considered undesirable. With the boom in technology and performance experienced in the 90’s, the little Datsun had lost much of its unique appeal. The price of scrap metal was soaring, leading many of these unloved cars to be traded in for nothing more than a quick buck, with the rest of the remaining cars living out their days rusting away in the back of paddocks and properties across Australia. It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that demand soon began to outweigh supply. With numbers significantly diminished, the existing examples soon began to catch the eye of enthusiasts whose parents had owned the car or those who had their own experiences with the old Datsun. The once quirky Japanese vehicle had fast become a desirable classic and it didn’t take long before barely salvageable rusted cars were being snatched up from paddocks and sheds across the country. From a car that was once considered worthless to one that is now fetching prices similar to that of cult Aussie classics, it goes to show that it can be hard to predict which car is destined to garner such a passionate following. The 240k has gained more and more respect over time and with its love it or hate it styling the car is always one to stir the pot, but we tip our hat to the humble Datto for adding another piece to our exciting and diverse automotive history. Do you have one of these classics hiding in your shed? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the 240k? Head over the comments section of the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!