Fiat’s Beloved

FIAT'S BELOVED

Fiat’s Beloved

The Fiat 124 Spider is as Italian as the Dolce Vita under the Southern sun.

Michael’s Fiat is the first original black 124 Spider that Fiat released, the oldest Fiat 124 Spider in Australia and the 13th oldest Fiat 124 Spider in the world! Not only did these rare stats appeal to Michael, but the fact that the car is designed by Pininfarina and had the same characteristics as early model Ferrari’s (Michael’s dream car) made it an easy choice to make the Fiat his back in 2003.

THE LITTLE CAR COMPANY

Stop thinking of Fiat as a little car company. It may make little cars but that’s different. And just because there was never an aggressive bolt in the body of any Fiat you’ve ever met doesn’t mean that the same applies to the parent company either. It just so happens that Fiat makes enough little cars to be the second largest manufacturer in the entire little-car producing world.

PININFARINA BEAUTY

The RS2000’s were designed by Ford’s Cologne styling department in Germany, which was home to the company’s high-performance European operation. However, it took Ford Australia quite some time to decide when the time would be right to introduce this car to the Aussie’s, despite not being a stranger to the enthusiasts.

Through its successes in motor racing, especially in events like the Hardie Ferodo 1000 and to an even greater extent in rallying, the RS2000 is a well-known and highly respected car.

The Australian version was not the pure-bred German RS2000. Instead, Aussie buyers had to make do with a compromise car.

The styling was the same, but because the RS2000 was made in Australia, Ford chose to use the standard 2.0-litre OHC Cortina engine. Although it was a nice suburban engine, quiet and moderately powerful, it was not anything like the more highly tuned European RS2000 engine. Despite this disadvantage, the Aussie RS2000 still proved itself to be an exceptional little car for drivers who wanted extra excitement to brighten mundane driving.

The RS2000 has become something of a legend in Ford circles and with its rally heritage, it was the Seventies equivalent of Subaru’s WRX and Mitsubishi’s Evo. Announced in ’79, the Australian RS2000 differed from its English counterpart in a number of ways and was available in both two and four-door guises, with a two-litre engine and short-shift four-speed gearbox.

Although Aussie production figures for the RS2000 aren’t well documented, there were approximately 2,400 produced and relatively few of these survive. With interest in the RS Escorts coming up all the time, it won’t be long before values on the Aussie RS 2000s begin to climb rapidly.

If you’re looking into something similar to Chris’ RS2000, now is definitely the time to start looking hard for good, low mileage examples.

SPIDER FACTS

The Fiat 124 Spider is considered to be one of the best looking roadsters designed with agile handling and fun driving characteristics. It was well known as an affordable roadster and started with a capacity of 1438 cc in 1966 progressively increasing to 1608 cc in 1970.

The main claim to fame is that it broke the English monopoly on the small convertible roadster designs and was the first to use a mass produced Double Overhead Cam (DOHC) engine. The DOHC version utilised reinforced rubber timing belts, an innovation that would come into nearly universal use in the decades after its introduction.

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Australian Financial Services Licence No. 230041. 

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One-Year Wonder

ONE-YEAR WONDER

One-Year Wonder

A rare unit from America’s muscle heyday, the AAR ‘Cuda was built for a purpose.

The magical year for America’s Trans Am racing series was 1970. Momentum in the SCCA-sanctioned series had been building for the past few years, but the explosion in the Pony Car market saw every manufacturer want a piece of the action, so what better way to show off your wares than on the racetrack in a manufacturer’s championship.

The dawn of the new decade saw factory-backed teams representing Ford (Mustang), GM (Camaro and Firebird), AMC (Javelin) and newcomer Chrysler, who fielded both the new ‘E-Body’ Plymouth Barracuda and its Dodge Challenger sibling.

NUMBERS TO RACE

Dan Gurney and his ‘All American Racers’ (AAR) team were recruited by Chrysler to run the Plymouth Trans Am tilt. In addition to his management role, Gurney would also get behind the wheel, with David ‘Swede’ Savage serving as the other driver in the two-car team.
Gurney’s AAR workshop also built the Dodge Challenger driven by Sam Posey, but the round-by-round management of that campaign was handled by Ray Caldwell’s ‘Autodynamics’ operation.

As the deal was signed in October, 1969, AAR had only a few months to get the cars built and tested before the opening race of the ’70 season.

Chrysler had to build a number of roadgoing cars to homologate the new AAR ‘Cuda for racing, too.

In an effort to make the cars more ‘production-based’, the homologation minimum was set at 2,800 for Plymouth – up from only 1,000 units the previous season.

It was all a bit tight, both in the AAR workshops and on the factory floor, but Gurney got the race cars ready and Plymouth got all the homologation specials built – almost. History shows that only 2,724 AAR ‘Cudas were produced, but its seems SCCA rulemakers weren’t counting! One of those homologation specials is the car you see here.

PRICEY FISH

When new, the roadgoing AAR ‘Cuda was the most expensive Plymouth Barracuda/’Cuda you could buy. At US$3,966 before options, it was 20 per cent dearer than a base ‘Cuda V8 hardtop, but you got a fair bit of gear – and unmissable style – for your coin.

Under the bonnet, the AAR ‘Cuda used an engine configuration unique in the Barracuda lineup for 1970. The 340ci V8 was similar to that used in the actual race cars (the race engines had to be de-stroked to meet the 305ci capacity limit), but topped with a trio of 2-barrel Holley carburetors and connected to a 4-speed manual transmission and Sure-Grip diff. Heavy duty suspension at both ends was augmented with front and rear sway bars, while power-assisted front disc brakes were standard. Wide rear wheels and tyres ensured all 290 horses from the powertrain didn’t go to waste, while the side-exit exhausts mimicked those on Gurney’s AAR racers, but featured extra bends and redesigned mufflers to make them street legal.

RICK'S RIDE

This particular AAR ‘Cuda has been owned by Rick Saunders for more than eight years now, but he came across it purely by chance. The Victorian was actually looking for a ’71 ‘Cuda when this AAR came up – at a good price.

History on the car was sparse, but it appeared reasonably solid and looked undeniably cool, so a deal was done.
Investigation revealed that the car was originally painted in Lime Light green, but had been changed at some point to the Vitamin C Orange it wears today.

As a mechanic, Rick found the work the car needed wasn’t daunting, and completed fairly easily after purchase. This included a new fuel tank, fixing the gear stick (shifter breakages were a known problem) and some electrical work.

Inside and out, the car is stock, right down to the 15-inch steel Rallye wheels, but Rick has worked a little more mumbo into the engine department with high compression heads and a lumpier camshaft.

ONE YEAR ONLY

For all the fanfare of Plymouth and Dodge’s entry into the Trans Am series, the outcome was disappointing. The AAR ‘Cudas were fast, but fragile, with Chrysler-mandated strengthening of engines, gearboxes and diffs upping the weight to the point where the cars struggled to be competitive. Gurney vacated the driver’s seat after two rounds to ensure there was enough money for Savage to complete the season, but returned for a “retirement” send-off at the final round.

The best result for an AAR ‘Cuda in that golden 1970 season was a second place for Savage. At the end of the year, Chrysler joined GM and Ford in withdrawing their factory-backing and Trans Am was the worse for it. The series continued, but undeniably lacked the sparkle of preceding years.

Of course, the end of the Plymouth ‘Cuda racers meant the end of the homologation requirements, too, so the AAR ‘Cuda road car became a one-year-only model.

Fortunately, guys like Rick are keeping the AAR ‘Cuda – and a bit of the Trans Am era – alive today.

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Ford Heaven

FORD HEAVEN

Ford Heaven

Mark Fenech’s 1988 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is one of eight in his garage.​

Mark has got to be Sydney’s biggest Ford car buff! He’s got a crazy garage full of a bunch of small Ford’s, but there’s no doubt that Mark’s 1988 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is a stand out beauty! This highly collectable Ford in the rare colour of Crystal Blue drew Mark in and he couldn’t resist adding it to the collection.

CRYSTAL BLUE

12 years ago, while keen to start up a new project, Chris stumbled upon a shell of a 1980 Ford Escort Mk2 RS2000 at a local car wrecking yard while a mate was looking for some parts. Being the Ford fanatic he is, the RS2000 seemed like a no-brainer to work on.

From what Chris knows, the car had been through quite a few owners, all who modified the RS2000 at some point. The last known owner tried to sell the car but was unable to get his asking price, so he split it up and sold in as parts, dumping the shell at the wreckers.

Since purchasing, the RS2000 has undergone a full body restoration. Chris has added a new motor, suspension, interior, wheels and tyres.  He’s ramped up the engine with a PL30 Kent Cam, oversized valves, a Ford Motorsport inlet manifold, Alloy adjustable cam pulley, alloy accessory pulley and a .040 rebore. The RS2000 features a four-speed manual transmission.

Other mechanical attributes like the pinto engine and rear leaf spring suspension can be a bit old-fashioned even when the cars were new, but they are efficient, lightweight and fun to drive!

Jaw dropping and gorgeous in every respect, this RS2000 finished in Monza Blue, amazes perfection seeking connoisseurs, like Chris. From the front wings to the black coachline below the swage line trimmed slightly short of all the panel gaps, this car is definitely a unique one.

LUSTED BY THE YOUTH

The Ford Sierra Cosworth, otherwise known as the ‘Cossie’ defined the 1980s and the teens who lusted after them. Now those youths have grown up, and the prices of the ‘Cossie’ have matured alongside them, the best ones today are worth just as much as – or sometimes even more than – contemporary Ferraris.

In 1983, Stuart Turner, Ford’s new motoring boss, realised that the Ford was no longer competitive in touring car racing. He suggested mating an experimental Cosworth 16-valve engine with a turbocharger and inserting it into a three-door Sierra shell. The RS Cosworth’s first debut was in 1985.

In 1988, the Sierra got the Sapphire treatment. The car changed to have more of a subtle looking four-door styling and while still not cheap, represents the best value today. Well-preserved Sapphires are going up in value, even since Mark bought his over 2 years ago.

Finding an un-molested car like this is a challenge, and because of dubious rust proofing out there, finding one in a condition similar to Mark’s is hard. RWD Sapphires are now also uncommon.

THE NAME OF THE GAME

Dick Johnson’s racing team gave the Ford Sierra’s their name in 1988/1989 at the Australian Touring Car Championship. He dominated both years alongside his team mate John Bowe who finished first and second place. The Sierra’s took the top three in the championship in both years.

In 1988, Dick Johnson and his team also took the step of homologating a modified Ford nine-inch axle for the Sierra. Meaning its weak drivetrain, one of the cars biggest weaknesses, was eliminated which allowed the car to be driven harder with less fear of failure. This was also seen as essential in Australia which used standing starts compared to the rolling starts used in Europe.

The Ford Sierra Sapphire is the driver’s car. Many experienced Ford driver consider the 4-door Sierra to be the best of the lot… This is a big call considering the 2-door is an iconic unit.

Considering this one is an Australian iconic race car, the drive is remarkably smooth, strong and responsive that to the high-performance engine.

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Perfect Holiday

PERFECT HOLIDAY

Perfect Holiday

This rare piece of 1950s Americana makes a bold statement on the road.

In 1959, America’s ‘Chrome Age’ reached its peak. The decade finished with some of Detroit’s wildest ever designs: designs that, for many, are still revered today. Of course, those with even a passing knowledge of four-wheel Americana will be familiar with the ’59 Cadillac.

Those sky-high tailfins defined the era like nothing else and have made it a popular choice with individuals and hire companies alike.

Equally as memorable are the ‘batwing’ fins on the Chevrolet’s 1959 models, while Ford’s 1959 ‘tank’ Fairlane is arguably the most popular of all Blue Oval offerings from the entire 1950s. While the Caddy and Chevy still draw a lot of attention today, it’s fair to say that GM’s other 1959 models aren’t as well-known or popular here. Buick’s sharp tailfin treatment and diagonally canted headlights has found favour with a number of enthusiasts, while 1959 saw the debut of Pontiac’s “split” grille; a style feature that the brand would hold onto for decades. Oldsmobile, however, largely missed the spotlight and remains GM’s most underappreciated 1959 car.

OLDS IN AUS

Oldsmobile’s ‘curved dash’ runabout was America’s first truly successful automobile and set a template for volume production in the USA, well ahead of the Ford Model T. In 1901, the same year it debuted in the US, a curved dash Olds is believed to have been imported into Australia; making it one of the first American cars to reach our shores.

For much of the interwar period, Oldsmobile was a popular brand in Australia. Both locally-bodied (by Holden) and fully-imported Oldsmobiles roamed our roads, with the local offerings including the famous ’sloper’ coupe and four-door tourer bodies that were unavailable in the US.

Following World War II, local Oldsmobile manufacture and assembly continued, but with the 48-215 Holden gaining momentum, GM-H officially phased Oldsmobiles out of the locally-available range in 1951.

Today, an Oldsmobile of any era – and especially from the late ‘50s – is a rare sight here, even at an American-themed car show. But the Oldsmobile Club of Australia, as well as individual enthusiasts like Wayne Beard, are keeping the marque alive.

WAYNE'S WORLD

The rarity of a 1959 Oldsmobile was just one of the elements that appealed to Wayne when he spotted this one in JUST CARS back in 2012.

The advertised car was a Ninety-Eight ‘Holiday’ hardtop sport sedan fitted with a factory-correct 394ci V8 and ‘Jetaway’ 3-speed HydraMatic auto transmission.

The Ninety-Eight represented the top of Oldsmobile’s three-tier model structure (above the Dynamic 88 and Super 88) for 1959 and was the second most expensive Oldsmobile you could buy that year. At US$4,159 new, only the US$4,362 Ninety-Eight convertible outpointed it.

So, why ‘Ninety-Eight’ and not ‘98’? It was a curiosity of the Oldsmobile range that, while the Super and Dynamic 88s were badged ‘numerically’, the Ninety-Eight model name was identified in written form, and had been since 1952.

As well as the rarity, Wayne also love the size of the hardtop sedan. At 18.2 feet long by 6.7 feet wide (5.54mt x 2.05mt), the ’59 model Ninety-Eight was significantly longer and wider than the previous year’s model. All-new styling for the ’59, dubbed the “Linear Look”, accentuated these expanded dimension, too.

Bold O-L-D-S-M-O-B-I-L-E lettering in the grille AND tail panel meant the car was easily identified from both ends, while dual headlights were incorporated into the grille and widely spaced – wide enough to allow customisers to fit a third full-size headlight in between.

Trimmed-down tailfins, smaller ‘rocket’ tail lights and a significant reduction in chrome trim further identified the ’59 models and foretold the coming decade’s styling trends.
For Wayne, the size and style of the big Olds appealed, as did the condition. The price was right, too, so he bought the car and has been enjoying it ever since.

SHOW STAR

The previous owner had imported the Ninety-Eight from a dealership call Gessewin Motors in South Dakota in 2007. Perhaps reflecting the somewhat unloved nature of Oldsmobiles amongst classic car enthusiasts, Wayne discovered the car had been sitting in Gesswein’s showroom for several years before it came here.

Soon after purchase in 2012, some rust around the base of the Oldsmobile’s rear window was repaired, with the fuel pump rebuilt the following year. Since then, the car has needed nothing.

With the grunt of the 315hp (235Kw) V8 and smooth-shifting auto, the Ninety-Eight is a delight to cruise in, while the rarity of the car causes more than a few double-takes from other road users.

The Olds draws plenty of attention at shows, too, scoring a ‘Top 4 Classic Car’ trophy at the Northern Beaches Car & Hot Road Show in both 2013 and 2014.

With this car, Wayne is in pretty special company, as Jay Leno also has a ’59 Oldsmobile in his world-famous car collection. Given Leno’s penchant for the rare and unusual, this is further proof of the ‘uncommon’ nature of a 1959 Oldsmobile.

While Wayne’s garage will never match that of Jay Leno’s, he is keen to pair this Oldsmobile with another – a 1959 Ninety-Eight convertible. Maybe Leno can help out a fellow Olds enthusiast with that one!

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Space Age

SPACE AGE

Space Age

This rare 1960s Phoenix is an incredibly preserved time capsule.

Queensland customer, Dave Roberts, has always had old cars. He started out with a 1966 Vauxhall Viva, then moved onto a GTS Monaro, three Chargers, and a couple of Escorts. Now, he’s got this 1961 Dodge Phoenix.

The 1960s was a cool time to buy a car in Australia. With the increasing desire for power and sex appeal, this drove the auto design decisions. If you look back in time, the new muscle cars, as they were called, were truly the supercars of the day!

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

The engineers at Chrysler had recognised this new market and announced the 1960 Phoenix. Based on the Dodge Dart, it derived its name from the upmarket variant of the USA, which luxuriated in the triple-barrel handle of Dodge Dart Phoenix. The Dodge Phoenix did very well in Australia’s 1960s car market and attracts plenty of admiration to this day.

Dave is a fan of wings and was originally looking for a 1959 Chevrolet. “I was looking at absolute buckets of rust for five to ten thousand… I’m talking submerged vehicles that were absolutely useless, but you’d still be paying that amount because it’s a Chev.”

He was reading Just Cars magazine one day and sure enough, there was the Phoenix. Although not what he originally had in mind, it had wings and it was unique… Of course, this ticked all of Dave’s boxes! It was in Syndey, and a young guy had bought it with the plans to hot it up. Life happened, and the guy got married and had kids, so the Phoenix ended up sitting in his garage.

“It virtually had chickens living in it, but still thought, “Yeah, I gotta have it”, Dave explains.

Dave knew the Phoenix was something different, but the drawcard for him was that he didn’t have to go searching the four corners of the globe to find parts for it. When he bought it, only minor parts were missing, the paint had been redone in a modern grey, the dash had been painted and the seats and carpets were re-upholstered. The carbs and chrome air filters are now new and not in original condition.

After giving his Phoenix a bit of a tidy up here and there, it is now in a nice mechanical condition and runs and drives well. With a mix of its powerful good looks and throaty sounds, this Phoenix definitely turns a few heads on the roads!

THE DART LINE

The Dart line was originally offered in three trim packages: ‘Seneca’ which was the basic trim package, ‘Pioneer’ which was the mid-range trim package and the ‘Phoenix’ which was the premium trim package.

The 1961 Dodge Phoenix was top of the line for its year and fewer than 4,000 models were produced.

The unit got a facelift and was restyled, inside and out, with new fabrics and door trim, a new instrument panel, and colour-keyed steering wheels. Designers at Chrysler restyled the vehicle to emulate the mid-sized Polara.

The 1961 Phoenix was a monocoque design and was advanced for its day – using independent torsion bar suspension up front and semi-elliptic out back. The styling was dramatically revised from 1960 with a wide concave aluminium grille encircling the dual headlights.

The Dart had lived a long production lifespan and has endured multiple aesthetic and mechanical changes through its 16 years of production. Dodge evolved and adapted the Dart to all of the different trends, safety and emission concerns and Government regulations that the market had to offer.

They had the undeniable reputation for longevity, durability and value. It’s safe to say that the Dart’s had a good run!

THE JETSON'S: SPACE AGE

“She brings some major 1960s The Jetson’s Space age vibes to the table,” Dave confirms when asked what he loves most about his Phoenix. The Jetsons represented a nostalgia for the future, and perhaps more oddly, it still represents the future to what Dave grew up with. The wings on his Phoenix brings back vivid memories of the spaceship from watching the show as a kid.

“I guess you could say that my Phoenix is an incredibly preserved time capsule!”

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Rusty Red

RUSTY RED

Rusty Red

When Ray got hooked up with this ex work-horse, he ended up finding himself a keeper!

Ray Rust has been into hot rods, American pickups and customs for nearly as long as he can remember. Since he has always had a soft spot for pickups that’s exactly what he set his sights on finding. Not long after making that decision, he came across the featured truck advertised in Craigslist, San Fransisco, that seemed to tick all boxes. After checking out some images and speaking with the San Fran owner, Ray was sold.

SO DAMN PERFECT

Knowing the look that Ray preferred, he went right to work on the Chevy. He whacked on some roller rockers and a ‘Mutha Thumpa cam’ because let’s face it, nothing grabs your attention at a car show more than the hard-hitting sound of a thumping, high performance idle. He added a 350/350 auto combination and gave the motor a fresh new rebuild and now runs alloys heads. He finished off with a high-rise allow manifold and Holley carby. The engine bay had been detailed and fitted with polished alloy accessories. The truck is running a late 80s Camaro front end brakes and power steering. The rear end is also a late Camaro.

After Ray handled the mods and bodywork to his satisfaction, the icing on the cake came in the way of covering the truck in several coats of what he now calls ‘Rusty Red’.

With body mods and custom paint handled, Ray then whipped up the chrome wheels which are fitted with white wall tyres.

“My Rusty Red has delightful curves, perfect proportions, timelessly simple grille, and a practical upright cab. It’s just so damn perfect!”

CLEAN IS THE WORD

“Clean” is one of those words often used in the automotive culture that it’s almost lost all meaning. However, Ray’s ’48 Chev is nothing but clean. Probably even clean enough to reinvigorate the word and remind others exactly how it should be applied!

As the first thing, most will notice, the paint is probably a good place to get the conversation started. If “clean” is the goal, what better colour than Rusty Red? The paintwork shows well from every imaginable angle and gives the truck a level of class that most ex-work horses can only dream of.

THE ADVANCE-DESIGN SERIES

“Clean” is one of those words often used in the automotive culture that it’s almost lost all meaning. However, Ray’s ’48 Chev is nothing but clean. Probably even clean enough to reinvigorate the word and remind others exactly how it should be applied!

As the first thing, most will notice, the paint is probably a good place to get the conversation started. If “clean” is the goal, what better colour than Rusty Red? The paintwork shows well from every imaginable angle and gives the truck a level of class that most ex-work horses can only dream of.

“These beauties are very easily one of the most recognised classic trucks ever. You can find these anywhere from original condition to fully customised restomods with fuel injected engines. Either way, you cannot go wrong with a Chevy pickup,” Ray boasts.

As the collector vehicle lifestyle continues to evolve, classic pickups have become the fastest growing segment among collectors. The number of pickups purchased by collectors has grown more than 56% over the past five years compared to any other collector vehicle segment!

“There was a time when trucks were only used by collectors to tow another car to the show, but now they are seriously collectable in their own right”.

Ray’s advice to all wanting to enter the collectable world is to start with a classic pickup. “They are readily available, easy to work on and very affordable.”

Rusty Red lives with Ray’s 1927 Model A Roadster which has been featured in a previous Ryno Rides article, and his 1988 C4 Corvette.

“Out of all the collectables I drive, this one is closest to my heart. When I take her out for a blast, I feel like I am living the dream!”

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Road Rocket

ROAD ROCKET

Road Rocket

Jaw dropping & gorgeous in every aspect.

This RS2000 amazes perfection seeking connoisseurs, like Chris. Chris has been a Ford junkie ever since purchasing his first car, which was a 1973 Ford Escort Sedan. Since then, he’s added a 1978 Ford Escort Mexico replica and a 1978 Ford Escort Ghia to his collection. You could say Chris has a thing for Ford’s…

PROJECT RS2000

12 years ago, while keen to start up a new project, Chris stumbled upon a shell of a 1980 Ford Escort Mk2 RS2000 at a local car wrecking yard while a mate was looking for some parts. Being the Ford fanatic he is, the RS2000 seemed like a no-brainer to work on.

From what Chris knows, the car had been through quite a few owners, all who modified the RS2000 at some point. The last known owner tried to sell the car but was unable to get his asking price, so he split it up and sold in as parts, dumping the shell at the wreckers.

Since purchasing, the RS2000 has undergone a full body restoration. Chris has added a new motor, suspension, interior, wheels and tyres.  He’s ramped up the engine with a PL30 Kent Cam, oversized valves, a Ford Motorsport inlet manifold, Alloy adjustable cam pulley, alloy accessory pulley and a .040 rebore. The RS2000 features a four-speed manual transmission.

Other mechanical attributes like the pinto engine and rear leaf spring suspension can be a bit old-fashioned even when the cars were new, but they are efficient, lightweight and fun to drive!

Jaw dropping and gorgeous in every respect, this RS2000 finished in Monza Blue, amazes perfection seeking connoisseurs, like Chris. From the front wings to the black coachline below the swage line trimmed slightly short of all the panel gaps, this car is definitely a unique one.

RALLY HERITAGE

The RS2000’s were designed by Ford’s Cologne styling department in Germany, which was home to the company’s high-performance European operation. However, it took Ford Australia quite some time to decide when the time would be right to introduce this car to the Aussie’s, despite not being a stranger to the enthusiasts.

Through its successes in motor racing, especially in events like the Hardie Ferodo 1000 and to an even greater extent in rallying, the RS2000 is a well-known and highly respected car.

The Australian version was not the pure-bred German RS2000. Instead, Aussie buyers had to make do with a compromise car.

The styling was the same, but because the RS2000 was made in Australia, Ford chose to use the standard 2.0-litre OHC Cortina engine. Although it was a nice suburban engine, quiet and moderately powerful, it was not anything like the more highly tuned European RS2000 engine. Despite this disadvantage, the Aussie RS2000 still proved itself to be an exceptional little car for drivers who wanted extra excitement to brighten mundane driving.

The RS2000 has become something of a legend in Ford circles and with its rally heritage, it was the Seventies equivalent of Subaru’s WRX and Mitsubishi’s Evo. Announced in ’79, the Australian RS2000 differed from its English counterpart in a number of ways and was available in both two and four-door guises, with a two-litre engine and short-shift four-speed gearbox.

Although Aussie production figures for the RS2000 aren’t well documented, there were approximately 2,400 produced and relatively few of these survive. With interest in the RS Escorts coming up all the time, it won’t be long before values on the Aussie RS 2000s begin to climb rapidly.

If you’re looking into something similar to Chris’ RS2000, now is definitely the time to start looking hard for good, low mileage examples.

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Turbo Smooth

TURBO SMOOTH

Turbo Smooth

She’s one big ball of nostalgia!

Gary’s 1967 Holden HR Special is a hit at car shows across Australia.

Gary had his dream car planned in his mind and when a 1967 Holden HR Special popped up on eBay, he couldn’t say no.

“I’ve always had a love for old Holden’s, especially the HRs… It seemed almost stupid to let this one slip away.”

NEW STYLE, NEW COMFORT, NEW CAR

In 1966, the Holden was on its way out after being under increasing pressure from Ford’s Falcon and the Chrysler Valiant. Both of these cars offered more power for not a lot of money. The situation wasn’t helped by the comparative failure of the Holden HD, which was unsuccessful in reaching the hearts and minds of Australian buyers.

Motor enthusiasts were excited with the claims that the HR 186S was soon to be the best Holden yet. Turns out, the HR’s handling was a big improvement and the new Holden was a much more comfortable ride.

HR Special sedans were, back in the day, a pretty punchy machine. Howling their tiny tyres from a standing start, a 186 manual would hit 100km/hour in slightly more than 13 seconds and can reach out to an achievable 155km/hour.

Holden’s marketing described the HR as “Turbo-smooth” and good examples of the model, like Gary’s, are becoming increasingly difficult to find in today’s age.

“Your world changes around you when you discover the new Holden. This year Holden’s gone all-out on everything except the price – new style, new comfort, new car. Discover the new Turbo-smooth Holden for yourself. You only have to drive it once to discover nothing else will do…” – Holden’s HR marketing, circa 1966.

The car has a smoother performance and a gearbox that is a delight to use which adds a refreshing variety to the Holden stable. Also available were power disc brakes and a limited slip differential that would ensure all power to the ground effectively. This was a common build configuration and the best package as far as performance went in Special or Premier sedans. Codes were assigned to be attached to the base model designation to make the task of ordering a car simpler than individually specifying each component from the ordering procedure.

The HR featured a revised grille, re-worked roofline and a larger window area, revised rear lights and changes to almost all exterior body panels compared to the Holden HD series.

Other changes included a revised ball joint front suspension, widened track and an improved interior trim. The 186-CID motor developing 145 horsepower, supplemented a significantly quieter and smoother engine. The revised styling and clean, modern lines still look top notch on the roads today!

AUSSIE HERO

Gary reckons that “the Holden deserves to be mentioned as a muscle car as it was one of the fastest Aussie cars on the road in 1967!” And perhaps unknowingly, Holden had created a real rocket in terms of serious performance available to the everyday driver.

Since purchasing the car over four years ago, Gary has treated the Holden to a sound system re-vamp, including a new Bluetooth matchless player, 6.5” pioneer split systems speakers in front kick panels and 6.5” Sony 4-way speakers in the rear parcel shelf. He’s also added a 12” Rockford Fosgate subwoofer in the booth and a 340-watt Kenwood amplifier under the front seat.

Gary’s Holden is a daily drive which he loves to take out cruising as much as he can. “The memories it brings back to people at shows when I have it displayed and the comments I get is truly amazing. She’s just one big ball of nostalgia!”

He’s had a few almost irresistible offers from other Holden junkies out there but hasn’t been able to part with it. “If the right offer pops up and the timing’s right, I guess you never know.”

*Images courtesy of Us2 Photography, Charged Images, Katrina Cram Photography and Focus 64.

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Family Cruiser

FAMILY CRUISER

Family Cruiser

"You'll have more fun in a '57 Ford."​

This rings very true for Mark and his family, who will be creating memories in this car for years to come. Mark wanted an easy car that looked as though it would fit into a scene on American Graffiti, but what he got ended up being so much more. Now he knows he could never part with it.

“This one is a keeper. My kids helped me build it, so it was a family project. [The] sentimental value is [worth] more than the car would ever get if we sold it.”

Wide, Low and Sleek

In 1957, the Fairlane 500 was very successful, due to new proportions and more modern styling, making it the best-selling car in America, overtaking its rival Chevrolet for the first time since 1935.

The Fairlane 500 was the top-line model (others included the Custom, Custom 300 and Fairlane) and it was longer, wider, and lower by 2 inches, with a sleeker look than previous models. With a single headlight front, unmistakable long flanks, chrome trim and low tailfins, the Fairlane 500 grew quickly in popularity and is widely recognized, even today.

The name ‘Fairlane’ came from Henry Ford’s Fair Lane mansion in Michigan, and credit for the car’s popularity can be largely attributed to Henry Ford II. The popularity of the car led to it’s feature in many films and TV series of the time which has contributed to it’s ongoing recognition alongside Thunderbird and Chevrolet.

Early commercials highlighted the strength and sturdiness of the vehicle, showing an airplane pilot comparing its power to his plane. But with all the power of the V8 engine, a 1957 ‘Popular Mechanics’ survey of Ford owners showed only 6.2% ordered seat belts!

When Mark saw the car advertised on eBay in 2007 he knew he had to have it. “[I’m a] bit of a full-sized Ford man and the 4-door pillarless as well as the rear fins on the car appealed to me. I hadn’t really seen anything like it going around at the time so decided it was something I was keen to build.”

THE KNOW-HOW NEEDED

The car was originally imported into Queensland (from the USA) in early 2004 and “went through a few Australian owners with none really knowing how to start the build. I just pulled the car apart and went from there.”

Mark’s ‘family project’ went through a full strip and rebuild. There was “no rust in the floor so [I] never took [the] body off [the] chassis, but at one point the car consisted of a roof and two rear quarter panels sitting on a chassis.”

Mark took the car back to basics completing “a very [classic] looking rebuild.”

“Everything was taken back to metal, rust repairs completed and painted. [The] engine [was] rebuilt with mild cam and electronic ignition but otherwise [I kept it] standard. [The] cooling system [was] upgraded with a custom aluminum radiator, [and the] stereo hidden in the glove box, so the dash appears standard.” Finally, Mark added “twin 2-inch exhaust to give the car a nice note.”

The car was built as a family cruiser with black vinyl interior. The rest of the car was left with standard parts. “I have had performance [cars] in the past, but when you drive performance cars in hot weather you have overheating problems and I didn’t want that this time. We love the car to cruise around in and listen to music.”

Mark’s family will surely be creating memories in this car for years to come – combining both nostalgia and dreams for the future. “It’s just easy… it cruises along. It has that real old-school look and feel.”

The Fairlane’s original marketing certainly rings true here, “you’ll have more fun in a ’57 Ford.”

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Classic Chevy

CLASSIC CHEVY

Classic Chevy

When you think of American cars, the Chevy comes to mind

Even if you are not remotely interested in cars but spotting a ’57 Chevy is easily identifiable. Having both performance and great looks, the ’57 Chevrolets were immensely popular and they still are. The moment Joseph saw the ’57 Chevy, he knew he’d own it.

STYLISH AND SPORTY

The headline describes it all. Did you know, the first Bel Airs of this era shared only their front sheet metal ahead of the A pillar panel with the rest of the range? The windshield, doors, glass, and trunk were common with the Styline DeLuxe Convertible Coupe. However, the roof, rear quarters, and rear windows are uniquely designed.

It makes more sense to why the ’57 Bel Airs are well-maintained examples, especially Sport Coupes and Convertibles. They are highly sought after by car collectors and enthusiasts!

Pictured: Joe’s classic chevy; the dream machine!

DREAM MACHINE

Until today, the ‘57 Chevrolet Bel Air is still his dream machine. The restoration work of his ride took approximately 3-4 years after it had been in a museum for about 35 years! The car had the right mix of style, performance, and an appealing price tag which he couldn’t say no to.

Joseph loved the wheels and stereo sound system of his Chevy. He knew that his cool ride was exactly in line with modern fashion and design… It was the height of the Chevy line-up! This machine would charm drivers everywhere whenever it’s out on the road.

Since purchasing, Joseph’s ride was equipped with the performance of 400cid engine. The Chevy is roomy, tastefully restrained with its smooth and flat paint – it’s no wonder that this machine has captured Joseph’s attention.

Pictured: This machine would charm drivers everywhere, whenever it’s out on the road.

CLASSIC CHEVY

“The reason why I bought this Chevy was that I was due for a new one. I have had a similar one before, but it’s good to have a change and… it felt great!” claimed Joseph. Previously, Joseph had other classic cars under his belt such as the ‘72 and ‘75 Holden Torana, Holden HT and HX Monaro, including a ‘55 Chevy. Impressive, huh? It’s indeed more than just a collection!

Today, the ‘57 Chevrolet is known as the ultimate “Classic Chevy”. As a matter of fact, the ‘57 Bel Air is among the most recognisable American cars of all time! This Bel Air runs and drives beautifully without any handling issues, odd noises, or fluid leaks.

Pictured: Having both performance and great looks, the ’57 Chevrolets were immensely popular and they still are!

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