Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The building of my Mark 7 convertible - episode 2

In this picture, the car is now completed and no longer belongs to me. I sold it unfinished to Colin Michael who had John Evans finish assembling it. John repainted it black. I had painted it white. (It looks better black, IMNHO.) I had some photos of it after I had painted it but they got lost somewhere at Fibrecar. I took it to a Show and Tell and painted the engine Holden Engine Red and put a "161" sticker on a standard rocker cover I bought for the occasion. It didn't fool too many people!

Anyway, as you can and will see, John did a fabulous job on it. Colin had been hassling me to sell it to him and when I decided to go back to Uni, I did the dirty deed and sold it to finance my studies. I've had sellers remorse ever since!

The bonnet bulge you can see came from an early Corvette. Royce had a Corvette bonnet stashed up in the rafters and it seemed perfect for the job. The bulge broke up the flat expanse and gave the bonnet added height which I think it needed visually and it also stiffened the bonnet. Unfortunately, I didn't take a mould off it. I thought I'd do another one later but in the meantime Royce threw out the Corvette bonnet in a clean-up!

The ripples you can see in the reflections on the guard come from the corrugated factory skylight and not the guard! Here we are, full frontal. John Evans' great paint job is fully evident here. John made and fitted the headlight covers. He used to do a lot of van customising including bubble windows. He also fitted the flush covered turn indicators which are a bit hard to see in the photo. He also fitted shortened Fairlane tail lights to the rear which you will see further down.

I bumped into John by chance a few years after selling the car. He told me he had it back to do a major repair on it. It seems the owner after Colin had had a head-on argument with a Ford F100, if memory serves me correctly. The front of the body was completely smashed up to the windscreen, though, the bonnet must have survived reasonably well. Fortunately, and perhaps incredibly, the driver only had minor injuries. (Great cars these fibreglass cars!). John was lamenting having to stick all the broken pieces back together to reform the front of the car. He knew it was a one off. I then told him I had a mould for the complete front including the windscreen surround. He looked at me for a moment with his mouth wide open and then said, "You're kidding me!" So we settled on a price and I went off to make a front panel and John went home the happiest man in Melbourne that day!

This final picture is noteworthy for four things:-
My trusty Suzuki, the even more trusty Mr. Ric Kemp, the flattering way it shows up the rear deck conversion and the shortened Fairlane tail lights.

All these photos were taken at Fibrecar, by the way. I had a lot of good times there working again with Royce and when Don Elliott was there as well it was a lot of fun. One time I must tell you about what a great whistler Don is.

I hope this has been interesting, John, and not too long winded. It's been enjoyable for me looking back on the project.



It's been enjoyable for me reading this and I am sure enjoyable for everybody else too. I have some nice photos of that car myself which I will share in a little feature I would like to do on Mk.7 convertibles. Your old car also featured on the 1993 club calendar. (I think it was 1993). We've got copies if anybody is interested. I remember the car being in Sydney, owned by a member of the NSW club. Then it went to Qld and I think it was last year it was advertised for sale. Gee, Ric Kemp's thinned out a bit hasn't he.

The building of my Mark 7 convertible - episode 1

By Jim Shanahan.

Some weeks ago Jim offered to send some photos of the construction of his Mk.7 convertible and here they are - over to you Jim.......

Hi John,
here are the pictures of my Seven I mentioned. I thought I'd give a little commentary on each one.

When I started doing some work for Royce in the eighties, I knew I'd have to build myself a car. When I had worked for Bolwells I had struck a deal with Linley Hughes to build a Nagari but I never had the cash to do it. So here was my chance again!
I started thinking, though, that I had built plenty of Nagaris (bodies, at least), why not do something different? I thought of making a Mk.7 but I was aware of problems with the roofline including the flat back window. There was also the issue of having the fuel tank in the passenger compartment. (Though, it's my wish to do a coupe in the not too distant future.) A convertible Mk.7 would fix these problems and it certainly would be different. It could be done by grafting on a Nagari Sports rear deck. Simple, right?! All the moulds were there, so why not?

I wondered what it would look like. Royce said he didn't know of a Mk.7 convertible but he had seen a Mk.5 convertible (the one on your blog a couple of weeks ago, no doubt) and that it looked good. I fooled around with some photos and drawings and then decided to do it.

The photo below shows the new body out of the original mould. The mould was rough but surprisingly good considering the number of bodies that came out of it. I didn't bother making the roof as I was only going to cut it off. The pic shows the rear deck attached and roughed in. The photo below shows the rear after I had taken a mould off it. The holes were then cut in front of the boot lid to make the blisters for the Lotus struts to stick through. The rear edge and style line were picked up some as I thought it would look too droopy at the back without the roof line to visually hold it up. You can see this in the extra distance between the tail-light recess and the deck lip.
There was a fair bit of filling required both on the deck and on the rear quarters to get good looking panels. This was then glassed over then gelcoated (various greens) and blocked back two or three times. Final pointing up done in good ole bog! The boot and deck sides required more work than I had anticipated. The panel and bootlid had to be shortened to fit the body but this left three distinct curves instead of the nice single curve of the original rear edge. Anyway, a little cutting, a little bogging and a lot of sanding (always sanding!) and it was done.

Well that was the hard bit I thought. Now for the easy bit, filling in a few whoops and dips in the front.

The next picture shows the body propped up on drums and the wheels as well. Under it you can see the HR front end with MG steering. I believe the car no longer has this arrangement. You can also see various bits of mouldings tacked onto the body. There are Nagari wheel arches and shortened Nagari headlight recesses.

I had started to fill a few whoops and dips and I was having trouble making one side match the other. After much puzzling, I finally took a tape measure to it and was I surprised. "Hey Royce, this car's not symmetrical", I yelled across the workshop in amazement. "Yeah........didn't you know that?" "Err.....no", was my quiet reply. I'll never forget it. Welcome to the wonderful world of Mk.7s! Nearly all the work I had done up till that stage had been with Nagaris and they were symmetrical. It never occurred to me that the 7s weren't. It's amazing how good they look given the lack of symmetry. I guess it's because we are so used to looking at peoples faces which are certainly not symmetrical.

I then thought what a dumb idea it was to do a Mk.7 instead of a Nagari. But I'm glad I did as it was very satisfying once I bit the bullet and took the diamond saw to it. I guess it's the nature of Mk.7s for each one to be an individual car. You can't leave them the way they are straight from the moulds as seen in the pic above anyway. I think this is why I find them so interesting. I positioned the headlights a little higher, maybe an inch, to comply with the then lighting laws. The passengers headlight was moved forward and outwards a little to match the driver's side. This all helped to make shaping the guards with a flowing line easier.

To disguise somewhat what I had done, I moved the radiator opening up as well together with the lower pan and also spread the opening a little to match the wider spread lights. This also gave me the chance to make the opening a bit more symmetrical, too. The picture shows the top of the nose filled in. The bonnet line seemed to flow better now onto the nose which was a bonus. The guards are yet to be filled and shaped.

There were lots of other things I would have liked to have fixed up or straightened but I knew I had to draw the line somewhere if I wanted to get it on the road in a reasonable time. The project gave me added respect for what Graeme Bolwell and Ross McConnell had done in making the Nagari pattern.
This photo shows the front having been shaped using a resin and microballoon/talc mixture as a bog and then glassed over to consolidate it all. I think the doors came out of moulds that Don Elliott made off his doors after he fixed the shape up. But I'm not certain of that. Speaking of Don, he was often at me to take more pictures of it during the build but I wasn't that interested. I wish I had taken his advice more. I'm glad I have the few photos I do have now.

The front was surfaced by first hitting it with an angle grinder to take the high spots off and then coated with bog. This was sanded back by hand and then gelcoated with a mixture called "plug white". This process of bog and gelcoat is then repeated once or twice. I put green tinter in the plug white so as to be able to see where I'd sanded and to be able to pick out the low spots easily. I have a photo of the whole body covered in this green gelcoat but I don't have it scanned.

Back to the picture: you can see the Hemi motor being lowered into position. It was a Valiant 265. I had thought of putting a Buick V6 in it but in the end opted for the straight six. I reasoned that the chassis was set up for a straight six and the Hemi was available during the model run, as well. It was only one inch longer than the Red motor. Royce cut and welded a small recess in the HR crossmember, welded up some engine mounts, which is what's happening in the picture, and it fitted in beautifully.

Prior to the motor going in, Royce also welded in a space frame of sorts into the chassis to stiffen the whole thing up. The chassis came from a car that two brothers had down Morwell way and used to hillclimb it. I can't remember their names unfortunately. This car was bought by a chap whose name I also can't remember for the moment (I think I'm having a Senior Moment here!). Anyway this chap wanted to fit a 350 Chev in his car and had a space frame made up. So I bought the original chassis. Except it was hardly original any more as it had a Lotus independent rear end in it mated to a Holden diff centre. If you look at the photo you can see the rear wheels cocked in on an angle as they are unweighted.

The chap I bought the chassis from saw my convertible and wanted one, too. I made him a panel but I don't know if the car ever hit the road. I had started to use flat glass side windows but ended up using the rear door windows out of an old Toyota Corona. I forget who discovered this idea but I was happy to borrow it and they worked out a treat. Royce advised me to use Volkswagen window regulators as they utilised a cable drive and so the handle could be mounted anywhere and at any angle. I also used the Volkswagen exterior door handles. They worked well too.

The Seven body was full of odd little surprises. When I came to fit the Nagari Sports windscreen top I found it an inch or so wider that the seven pillars. I ended up spreading the pillars to fit it in.

To be continued.......

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kevin Cociani on B8/81 and B8/90

Hi John,
Well your information is correct, I bought chassis 81 from Vern Leng. He was getting a space frame chassis made for his Nagari B8/81. My chassis (103 or 104? - I can't remember right now) - (really chassis 90 - Ed.) was damaged and Vern wasn't happy with the way his car handled, so offered chassis 81 to me.
All I did was replace the badly worn shockers and suspension bushes and repainted the chassis and the coupe drives beautifully. I bought a brand new body from the Bolwell factory.

Just to refresh your memory, I'd bought a Nagari in 1978 (103 or 104?) - (90) and wrote it off after 2 weeks of owning it. I hit a tree in the country when I lost control at around 130mph. I still remember, (driving at 10pm).. I lost my high beams for some reason and kept driving using low beams heading towards Mannum cruising around 110 mph and I caught up to 2 HQ Monaros doing around 100mph, I over took them like they were standing still, once I got to my side of the road I glanced at the speedo and saw 140, I instantly lifted my foot off the pedal then looked up and the road had veered to the left and I had passed the bend. The Nagari still took the bend sideways in at incredible speeds, still trying to control the car, the car then turned and slid across the road and hit a ditch which was shaped like a ramp and found myself flying through the air. To this day I still say if the car was made of steel and not fibreglass I wouldn't be here today.

The car was fully restored to concourse condition more than 25 years ago, but now I drive it with more respect...
The car was a lethal weapon back then and even in these times and technology of today the Nagari is still lethal. I've driven a lot of cars but nothing compares to a Nagari, and that is why I've still got the car. I've had plenty of good offers but I can't see myself parting with it..

You can put this story and the attached pics in your Bolly Blog, looks like you have started something John. Your blog is getting pretty popular!!

Cheers Kevin Cociani Damaged
Rebuilt Bolwell coupe

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dick Murphy - I'm answering my own question

Talk about a bad memory. Here I am wondering about where The Dick Murphy car has gone and right under my nose is an email the club secretary received last year from the current owner.

Hi John and fellow Bolwell car owners,
My name is Dave Hamlin and on arrival in Australia from New Zealand in 2005 I purchased a Mk. VII Bolwell in a very sad condition but mostly all there. So starts the restoration of this car which has some history of being raced by Dick Murphy, Barry Coleman and Brian Rhodes all of Western Australia. Brian Rhodes has recently seen the car and acknowledges that parts of the car did in fact come from the very car he raced and wrote off in 1976. The car was put together in WA by Dick Murphy of "Autosport", Kenwick WA and completed 03.12.69, chassis no. WA 007, engine number 186S123102. I bought the car from a WA Bolwell car club member, Stacey Nicolaou in 2006. Mostly there BUT all wrong from the way the car was originally built.

Guest author Peter Jones again

Here are a few pictures of the superb restoration job Peter Jones and Ron Cheeseman are doing on B8/49 which I have had stored in my computer since mid-2006. Take a look. Then read Peter's account of "A Tale of Two Bollies"


For anyone who read my story on the trials and tribulations experienced during Targa 2000, here’s proof that it’s hard to give up Bollys.

I’ve had the pleasure to own Nagari number B8/76 since 1984 to 2006 when Peter Schmidt took up the caretaking role. Over the years I have removed, replaced, changed, painted, fixed or broken just about every component or piece of fibreglass or steel that came out of the factory, and many that didn’t. With all that ownership and seven visits to Targa Tasmania under the belt I finally decided it was time to let the dear thing entice some other eager petrol head. So my faithful navigator and I queued up for Classic Adelaide 2005 with the intention of making that the swan song.

Classic Adelaide was duly run and completed relatively trouble free and I stored away lots of good memories doing so (another article perhaps?) Anyway, as the Nagari was about to be loaded onto the TNT truck for the trip back to Sunny North Qld, John Low, SA Bolwell President Supremo, found a prospective buyer. It all looked good and there was a fair amount of back and forth discussion happening as I approached 21 years of ownership.

So I was waiting by the phone, expecting the prospective buyer to call from Adelaide, having resigned myself to the fact that I was REALLY going to sell it, and having convinced my partner, Jan, that I was REALLY going to sell it……Jan has heard this before of course. Years ago we were contemplating getting a swimming pool built and I said I’d sell the Bolly to finance it – the first day we dived into the pool Jan asked “How come the Bolwell’s still in the garage?” Well, these things happen, don’t they?? …………..back to the story at hand, waiting by phone.

Phone rings. Caller ID shows 08 SA number. Answer. It’s not “prospective buyer” but a fellow Nagari owner from Hobart!!! Confused? I was. And then the bombshell – “I’ve decided to sell my Nagari – and I want you to buy it!!”

Now over the years I’ve come to believe that Nagari owners are suckers for punishment – who else is going to sit beside a throbbing V8 in 35+ degree summer heat while being gassed by exhaust fumes while still telling all and sundry that he’s enjoying himself. But I won the “sucker stakes” in less than five minutes and suddenly found myself the proud owner of B8/49, and a cold sweat forming as I picked up the phone………

“Hi darling, you know how I said I was selling the Nagari……”
“yes yes yes yes yes yes”
“Well, ………….I’ve bought another one.”
Stunned silence.
More stunned silence.
“You’re gutless aren’t you? Too scared to tell that to me face to face so you’ve chickened out and phoned instead…..etc etc etc”

Actually, I had considered writing a letter, posted from Sydney on my way out of the country. But all is good – rang faithful navigator who proved he was just as big a sucker as we quickly negotiated to go “halves” in the project thereby shedding some of the load.

B8/49 is progressing through a complete rebuild. All stripped down and chassis painted, driveline back in, body back on, wiring and trim done. Only the fiddly bits remain now and it will grace the For Sale columns…….and this time I’m not, definitely NOT, going to buy another Bolly.

Though the Mark10 has a certain appeal……………

Peter Jones – April 2008

Black Nagari sports

After making the comment that I couldn't recall any other black sports versions, in come the flood of protests. Here's a photo of Dave Bruce's black sports. It's chassis number 4. It's not a factory built sports though. It's the ex-Borelli, ex-Nicholson coupe. Dave made the conversion about 1990 according to Peter G. and it was painted black both before and after the body swap.That's Dave looking right at you.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dick Murphy

This very radical Mark 7 was built and raced by Dick Murphy in Western Australia. Occasionally he would venture over to SA to have a crack at what could be offered at Mallala. These 3 photos were taken at Mallala in the 60s. My understanding is that this car is now a road car and still living happily in the west. I'd love to be updated on it. Maybe all the WA racing legends were called Dick. I immediately think of an old colleague, Dick Ward, who built very quick sports sedans and operated a motorsport shop (the best place to buy rod-ends and chrome-moly in Australia). To me his most memorable race car was a tiny little Fiat Abarth with rotary power that well and truly mixed it with the big bangers of the time.

Those old days at Mallala were good for Bolwell people (pre Nagari) and it is where I met such people as Doug Seath, Rick Clough, Chris Wall, Ron McPherson, John Szabo etc. etc. etc. (there wasn't a Bolwell club in South Australia until 1972. We were such show-offs because we could get a better view of races by standing on our roofs, something Holden owners wouldn't do. I recall Ken Stratton had the strongest roof, I think he had glassed in an extra layer, and there wasn't any worry about scratching it - he drove that Mk.7 for years and years in its undercoat as did Grant Deckert with his.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Now that's a real chassis!

Here's a clipping from a page in an old 1981 Australian Motor Racing publication. It shows K & A Engineering's workshop and look what's in the foreground, it's the Van Elsen machine. K & A doesn't look like that anymore.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wayne's nw car.

I was just emailing a couple of photos of B8/111 to Wayne Murphy for his scrapbook and thought I'd share them with everybody else. Wayne has just bought the car. It is rather accident damaged and I understand Don Elliott is building a new body for it. Anyway, these photos were taken in 1974 in the driveway of the owner at that time, Michael De Crespigny.
Remember, Wayne, MGB front blinkers on this one. Note also the recessed spotlights - just like your red one. I once had a red (vermillion fire) coupe, B8/43, that had those round holes on each side of the nose cone too. I think they look good. I'll show you a picture of it probably tomorrow if I get a chance.

How many Nagari sports WERE there?

Last month we established that the age old notion of there being 13 original Nagari sports was a bit out and we counted 19. Well, car number 108 turned out to be a coupe. However, in the late 70s this black one was built and took the previously unused number 13. It was built by Tony Grant, who worked at the factory, for himself. He made himself a body and the chassis was one that they had at the factory with wheels or castors underneath and was used for moving newly made bodies around. So that's back to 19 again. Tony was the one at the launch of the NEW Nagari who was offering crayfish in exchange for one of the new cars. That's not such an unusual practice. My brother-in-law thinks that crayfish is legal tender in Australia and has stayed in many a hotel in exchange for a few crays. These photos were taken at Calder at the launch of the Ikara. They were successful in getting an example of each of the models for display and the black car was the Mk.8 sports example. It's the only black one I know of. Look at the bonnet bulge on the silver Nagari coupe. It's off-centre. Was this one of the very rare six cylinder ones? I can't remember.

Here's the latest list of chassis numbers of original Nagari sports:- 13, 47, 55, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 77, 78, 81, 82, 111, 112 and 119. Any more corrections?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

B8/81 update

That picture I posted of B8/81 in its silver livery was taken at Mallala but the details were a bit wrong I discover. The year was 1983 and the cars in the background were Ric Kemp's Mk.7 and Gus Safranco's Nagari. Vern Leng had already acquired the Ikara by then and was competing in it that weekend. The above photograph shows B8/81 on the track and the driver isn't as big as Vern. It is in fact the next owner, Robert Radman. Pete Garvin remembers Robert getting an engineering award for fitting a Chev in a Nagari.

Monday, April 21, 2008


From Peter Marr in Newcastle came this:-
Just been reading your blog and saw the pic of the Nagari with the Eureka. As it happens I was at a car show near my place this morning and was parked next to two Eurekas.
Peter Marr

It must be Eureka week. A yellow one is now living one street over from me in Kapunda. It is powered by a Datsun 1200 but goes pretty hard. I think those little 4 cylinder Datsuns are great. Richard's old Mk.4 that ended up in Germany had a Datsun 1400 in it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

a pic. from Jim White

True to his word of course, Jim has sent a shot of B8/81 taken during the Classic Adelaide in 2005. Here's one to go with it of the car parked in the pits at A.I.R. alongside Chris Clearihan's Nagari about 30 years ago. That's Chris walking away from the camera in the shiny white racesuit. That car was still in its LHD form then.

Rick's Mark 7

I've been hearing a bit lately about Rick Wallace's extensive Mark 7 rebuild. Apparently progress is huge in recent times. This will be another new addition at Tanunda in Easter next year. For those who think Rick has never driven his car here's a photo of Rick with his then young son pulling out of the Buffalo Restaurant car park about 20 years ago just to prove them wrong.

More on B8/81

Here is an email from Jim White about B8/81

Good stuff John,
I will send some photos soon. I am having trouble with my photo files and hope I can recover them.

When Ross C. purchased the car it had a Chev motor fitted, 350, I think. He had the Chev removed prior to taking delivery and replaced with the original Cleveland 302. So the numbers match and the car has its A1E numbered engine. Ross purchased another car at the same time, B8/2 I think. He had the idea to swap chassis on both cars to produce a more original Sports. One look told him that Cleveland into Windsor chassis does not go so after a while he sold both cars, one to Ron and the other to Rex Hallang, I think. He then purchased the Sports now owned by Guy Smith (number B8/67). Ross now has another very original Sports, whose number escapes me now but next time I speak to Ross, I will ask. I was told third hand that the original chassis from 81 is under Kevin Cociani's coupe. So maybe it is still in SA with the identity of Kevin's original coupe, albeit with a new body and sports chassis.
Ron rewired the car and he and engine guru, John Bennet, rebuilt the motor. The whole car was pretty tired when I purchased it from Ron in 1993 and it was not going, although all it needed was an exhaust system and carby to get it underway again. I started the full rebuild in 1996 and the car reappeared in 1998 at Mt. Gambier. Everything was rebuilt, including the motor as although it had been blue printed, gas flowed and matched, it had also spent so much time on the dyno that the rods had ovalled and stretched.
The chassis had been galvanised which made welding difficult, but sand blasting the body back to gelcoat was very successful and Ross McConnell did a fantastic job on the repairs and paintwork. It is still in excellent condition after 10 years. Gary Blackman did the trim and hood, the hood is also the best fit I have seen on a Bolwell.
The heads are a work of art and I wish I had photographed them for reference. I replaced the front of the body so the glassed in nose and dodgy repairs have all gone. By the way I notice that in the photo of the silver car there is no nose cone at all. I found some original seats to replace the Recaros that came with the car and a set of original wheels. The seats came from a late model Mark7 that was being rebuilt and it burnt in a shed fire, but hthe seats were elsewhere at the time. The wheels came from Ken Rowland's collection of parts.
I feel that a drive to Kapunda should be on the agenda soon.

On a different note, I was moved to see the photo of my old mate and best friend Ron at the wheel of 81, he died 14 years ago in an aerobatic Pitts Special crash and I often still think of him.

Here's another little pic of 81 with a similar coloured Eureka.

I remember Robert Radman having a Chev engine in the car. Rob Wilson put one in Gary Allen's coupe when he had it and I knew of one other. I don't think they are much of an idea for Nagaris because you can't get them far enough back in the Y frame and it mucks up the handling. Tony Opie's Mk.7 had a Chev V8 in it but I do recall him changing the back plugs through little holes from inside the car. I wish Rolls Royce had thought of that.
I presume the Mk.7 that burned in a shed fire was the Whyalla one. That's 3 I can think of that burned out in sheds, because that was the fate of the above car of Tony's and Colin McAskill lost a very nice Mk.7 that way as well.
Jim, you don't miss much, noticing the missing nose cone. It didn't have quarter windows in it either. It was straight out of the paint shop and Vern couldn't wait to get it up to Mallala.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pantera pics - a special Pantera

That's fantastic. I just asked the question in the previous post and through came these pics inside half an hour. Thought I'd share them.

B8/81 again

Since writing the previous post about B8/81, I have been sent a picture of it in its red livery. Ron Sisley is driving and Ross Carrington is the passenger and they are on their way to the Renmark Easter event in 1987. Noticeable is the higher bonnet bulge and the glassed in nose.
Does anybody have other pictures from Renmark? The main reason I am asking is that I took the red Pantera that year and the only photo I have seen is one of Leah giving it heaps on that clay pan and as memorable as that picture is, I just wonder if there are others.
The Easter before was at Coleraine and we were set to take the Pantera then as well. About a week before, the nose was run over by the back wheels of an STA bus. The driver was looking at the car and wasn't thinking about where the back half of his bus was going as he turned in front of it. STA gave us a rented Camira to go away in which was a bit of an anticlimax.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Here's another little potted history of a Nagari sports especially for Jim White, the current owner. I lost track of the car for a while when it spent some time over the border but I'll tell you what I know and other readers can fill in the gaps. I've had a number of Nagaris in past years and this one will always be my favourite and silly as this sounds, it gives me a warm feeling knowing it's in good hands with Jim, who, incidentally, has now owned it longer than anybody, some 15 years, and it is firmly entrenched in the family forever. After rebuilding this car he needed a challenge and picked up an ex-SA coupe that I heard had been sitting in a swamp for years in Cairns and restored it beautifully. Later he decided that 2 Nagaris might be 1 too many and sold it for enough to buy a low mileage red NSX to join B8/81 and the Evo. Anyway, enough of that, back to the beginning. The car was purchased new from Bolwell Cars on 27th Feb. 1973 by Mrs. Beverley Bonython of Bellevue Heights. Jim Shanahan, who worked for Bolwell at the time, was reflecting recently on this car and others - he drove it over to South Australia to deliver it. What he was reflecting on was the differences in power outputs from the Ford Cleveland 302s straight out of the box. The Terry Spooner/Sally Matthews/Peter Garvin B8/60 was the most powerful one he had found and this one (B8/81) was at the other end of the scale. The problems must have been sorted a year or so later when I bought it because it appeared more than adequate for my purposes. The Bolwell was a particular shade of orange as were all of Beverley's cars and she disposed of her orange MGB when this car turned up. She was very safety concious, hence the installation of the rollover bar, and always wore a crash helmet, insisting that her passenger wore one as well, on her interstate trips. It would have been the latter part of 1974 when I bought the car (maybe early 1975 - I know that Chris, my son, was 2 at the time and he was born in 1972). Beverley's husband, Jim, had an aviation company called Rossair, based at Parafield and I used to enjoy his stories about flying Mustangs in America. Apparently they have awesome horsepower and are not as precise as other planes and that sounded good to me. That's how I have liked my cars. "Brute strength and ignorance" some people call it. That feeling of teetering on the edge of controlability feels good. The Pantera was a bit like that and a Bolwell with big horsepower is good too. When I was in my late teens, after growing up on a diet of Austin 7s and Morris 8/40s, I was given a drive at Mallala in a Cadillac powered Allard. That must have been what did it. My dad was a Chev and Buick man and I followed him down that path, with a two-tone Vauxhall Vagabond in between. Anyway, talking about Mustangs as we were, I was lucky enough to have been at Parafield the day Langdon Badger started up his ex-Maralinga Mustang, that he had completely restored, for the first time. Well, you've never heard anything like it and the ground shook like there was an earthquake. It made me think that Americans must have built their planes like they built their hotrods. There's no such thing as too much horsepower. Langdon also restored a Spitfire and I'm sure they are similarly powered but on the ground they just don't seem to have that earth shattering presence. Now, when starting cars on the Macclesfield stage of the Classic Adelaide, that black Pantera, as it snakes off down the road, makes me think of that Mustang. The orange HQ Monaro has the same affect.
We were really talking about B8/81. Here's a photo of me competing in a sprint at A.I.R.

I must have had the car for a few years because today I discovered a photograph of it at the Hamilton Easter with a very pregnant wife posing on the bonnet. That dates it as 1976, the year Andrew was born. We enjoyed a number of interstate trips and the car always performed faultlessly.

B8/81 was finally passed on to Vern Leng, our local cop who was such a big man that he appeared to be twice the width of the narrow Nagari seats. Vern took it off the road to have Performance Engineering build a very rigid chassis for it. I have no idea where the old chassis went but they always go somewhere and this one was in pretty good shape. The very substantial chassis jig is still floating around Adelaide somewhere, I believe. When the car reappeared it had been repainted silver, a very tricky paint job that was a dark gunmetal grey that got lighter as you cast your eye down the body.

In about 1980-81 Vern became the owner of the blue Ikara no. B9/02 and the Nagari passed on to Robert Radman, another South Australian. I'm not sure how long Robert had the car but he sold it to Ross Carrington, in Victoria, another aviation person and a member of the Victorian club. Somewhere along the line it was repainted yet again, this time bright red. The next owner was Ron Siseley who sold it to Jim White in about 1993.

During the course of the restoration by Jim B8/81 became a dark metallic green and as you can see, it looks wonderful.
That's orange to silver to red to dark green. This is a very sketchy history but maybe Jim can add to it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bolwell owners' National Meet, Easter 2009

Just a little advance notice - next year's Easter event is to be organised by the South Australian group and will be held in the Barossa Valley. Those going will be staying at the Weintal Resort in the heart of the Valley in Tanunda.
Keep a look-out for more details as they come to hand in the SA pages of the Bolwell Car Club website.

Ikaras, variations on a theme

I was getting a few Ikara photos out for Graham for his Ikara project website and they have been sitting on my desktop since. I'm about to tuck them away in my Picasa and thought that before I do I'll share a couple with everyone. Two versions of plumbing for the Golf engine, the top one's Rick's and the bottom one's mine.
The poor old turbo is looking a bit worn after a hard life, almost paper thin vanes. I'm thinking a lot about alternative power plants. Lots of things are going through my mind (even Darrell's sugestion of the supercharged Toyota V6, although cost would probably rule that out). Any other good ideas out there?

Response to previous post

I have had a couple of emails since posting the photo of the red Nagari coupe the other day and it is amazing to me as a novice blogger how every blog evolves into something more. One was from Glenn with some pictures of the car when it was in his custodianship (here's one below) and another with a copy of a magazine article in Sports Car World in 1988 about that very car. The Bolwell Car Club website has a link to a collection of magazine articles and later on today I'll forward it on for them to add this one to that ever-increasing collection. So watch out for it there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This one's for Glenn Krawczyr

Glenn, this is how your old Nagari looks today. What colour was it when you had it?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

One for Roger T.

An interesting article from the internet, a story of a tour of the Nota workshop in outer Sydney (might be one to follow up by the NSW crew - unless they already know about it) - http://www.notasportscars.com/Documents/Nota_Story_Feb_2006.pdf

"Then we pass a Bolwell Mk.7. Boy, what a transformation. The Holden front cross member has been removed and a modified Nissan cross member, power assisted rack, discs and uprights are married toNota adjustable wishbones (Saving over 60kgs). To the backbone chassis Nota has added a perimeter chassis and roll cage which is welded into the sills of a Mazda MX5, dramatically increasing the torsional stiffness, (an inherent weakness with the backbone chassis). This allows the Mk.7 to use the doors, scuttle windscreen and soft top of the MX5 and provides very nice electric windows as well. The rear suspension was altered, the live axle being replaced with a Nissan 280Z independent one. It's then shod with Sumitomo 15"x215/50 front and 15"x265/50 rear on Simmons 15x7" and 15x9" respectively. Finally, the engine to go in is from a GTR Nissan "Godzilla". What a formidable car this is going to be, But does one call it a Bolwell, Nissan, Mazda or a Nota? It is probably more Nota now than anything else as they are the ones who have engineered and put this incredible package together in a redesigned, rebodied and transformed soft top sports car (it was originally a coupe)."

It's a bit like Pierre's Mk.5/Capri in a way.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Original Owners 2

Another possible original owner has been suggested to me from NSW. That's Dave Calver. David, as far as I recall, had 2 Nagari sports, a red one and a yellow one, one was manual and one was auto (B8/77 and B8/119). As far as I am aware he bought them both new and I have never heard of either of them being sold. I could be very wrong because I have not heard any news of him since he moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast several years ago. Someone out there may like to correct me.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Original Owners

I have been told on more than one occasion that there are only 3 original Nagari owners that still have their cars to this day - Henry, Graham and Arthur. Well that doesn't include Bernie Van Elsen. Bernie bought B8/82, a red sports, new from the factory (via the SA dealer) in 1972 using it as his every-day road car. I remember him coming along to an MSCA sprint at AIR (this was prior to the reopening of Mallala). see below. He must have enjoyed it because the next thing we know he's joining our 6-hour and 4-hour teams
and then he's lining up on the grid for combined sports car races. At about this time the Australian Sports Car Championship switched to ProdSports and Bernie goes on to run his car in the National Championship. Here's a picture of Bernie and B8/82 taken at Baskerville just outside Hobart.
Wow! 2 piece racesuit and sneakers, they've been outlawed for donkeys years now.
Baskerville was great. It was a one-off event the organisers wanted to put on so they paid everybody's expenses to get down there which must have cost a few bob because there was a full grid of the best Production Sports Cars including at least 6 Nagaris that I can think of (2 from SA, 3 from Victoria and the Ross Bond car from NSW).
After a few years the National Championship reverted back to Group A and the next thing we know, Bernie, who just couldn't stop spending money, got K & A Engineering to build him a real race car. The old body was retained but the chassis was certainly replaced (which brings me to something else and I'll try and talk about it in a minute), in fact they really created a monster (only eclipsed by Bernie's VESKanda). Below is a picture of the monster Nagari coming off the bowl at A.I.R.

To me it's a far cry from the days when Bernie and Maryanne, his former wife, with 3 little kids crammed in the back, would set off interstate in the car.

I know I go off on tangents but that reminds me that at the same time we used to do the same thing with B8/81 but at the time we only had one little boy. When he was 2 (he's 35 or 36 now) we had a 4-point harness made up for him which was anchored in the boot, and he used to sit up behind us with his legs down each side of the tunnel. We were going through Bordertown one day and we were pulled over and given a lecture by some concerned people about torturing this poor little chap by exposing him to open motoring. He actually loved it.

This started out as a post about original Nagari owners so I'd better get back to it. We've established that there were three and Bernie makes four. But there's another! (It's a bit like the steak knives). I reckon I've been told by at least 6 different people (so far) that they have purchased the very last Nagari ever made by the factory. Anyway, there was a bloke from New Zealand who might just have the correct claim to that honour. I don't know what his chassis number is but I bet somebody out there can tell me. Anyway, I suppose it must have been about 1974, he walked into Bolwells and wanted to buy a Nagari only to be told that he was too late, "we're not making them any more" - They're out of production. That wasn't acceptable so money changed hands and a car was produced and he still has it (still in gelcoat form). Well, that makes 5. With a bit of luck we might find more - please let me know.

Somewhere in this post when talking about replacing the chassis I mentioned there was something else I wanted to bring up. I had a sports body (it was a lightweight one, only 2 layers) that Bolwell had made for me. I didn't have any plans for it at the time and Tony Britton in Canberra wanted to buy it. Well, he did, and we also teed up Bernie's discarded original chassis to go with it. Tony built a very nice car from all that and when he eventually wanted to sell it, I bought it and it became my company car for a while (this was pre-Pantera). Anyway, the point I was going to make is this.On the Bolwell Club website forum the banter has been going on for some time now about original cars vs. replicas. I've noticed that the people defending the integrity of their original cars have come up with a notion that a factory built body OR a factory built chassis is the basis for the car being genuine. Well, this car has a factory built body AND a factory built chassis yet it's still a ring in. So, what do you make of that? It's now in the hands of Garry and Rosemary Warren, not that they bought it from me, there was another owner in between.

Tony had installed a disc brake 9" rear end which is all very well but boy, they're wide (I also think the car was OVER braked). Anyway, the wheels stuck out so far past the guards it didn't look right, not to mention the attention you would get from South Australian cops. I didn't want to ruin the body by fitting racing fibreglass guards. Well, have a look at Bernie's car in the Tasmanian photo. When he fitted the race wheels and tyres he was faced with the same problem and solved it by getting those rubber guard extensions from Opposite Lock or somewhere, that they have for 4WDs and tractors. Anyhow, they solved the problem at the rear of this car too. They're great! You just buy the stuff on a roll and cut it to length and screw it to the wheel arches. Garry has sold the 9" and he doesn't have to go to the trouble of cutting off the guard flares.

A footnote : Bernie has registered the monster and is driving it around again.