Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Anyway, in 1970, I was working for the Motor Vehicles Department and its one and only office (no branches had been established then I'm pretty sure) was in the Railway Building next to Parliament House. (When we moved out of there the tenancy was taken over by another den of iniquity - The Adelaide Casino). Part of my job as an assessor was to establish standards for new vehicles to enable subsequent similar vehicles to sail through the registration process with a minimum of fuss. I can assure you that my bosses didn't think this Nagari thing would catch on and I'm sure they couldn't erase the mind-set that associated Bolwell with one-off kit cars, so it took a second one to appear in SA before we got around to weighing one and establishing all the other criteria. Incidentally, RAC horsepower ratings were some strange calculations that took into account bore diameter and number of cylinders and divide by the number you first thought of but the length of the stroke was not considered. Well, to cut a long story short, which I don't seem to be good at, one day this orangeish-red Nagari coupe turned up out the front for its Police inspection. This inspection was required because the car had come from Victoria on a permit and involved looking at the engine number and seeing if it appeared on a list of not yet recovered stolen vehicles, nothing more, nothing less. You can't be too sure about those crooks over the border. As I am very good at digressing, I'll do it one more time. I had a police inspection for one of my own Nagaris a few years later. The policeman assigned to this job had been in the force for a long time and he hadn't caught too many bank robbers lately so they gave him a clipboard and a pencil and a white lab coat (he looked just like a goal umpire before they tricked them up with colourful shirts) and off he set to demand visitors to the MVD (it became MRD later) to raise their bonnets so that he could do his stuff, i.e. look for engine numbers. His other tools of trade were a torch and a magnifying glass. Anyhow, I had bought this nice deep yellow Nagari in Melbourne (no.26) and of course it needed to have its inspection. Now the Ford Motor Company issued a special set of numbers (with the prefix A1E) to all of the engines that were off the shelf and supplied to outside customers, e.g. not destined for their own vehicles. For some reason they stamped this number underneath, on the lip where the bell housing bolts on. I explained this to our friendly policeman who wasn't prepared to believe me. Besides, he wasn't getting down on the ground to get his white dustcoat dirty for anybody. So I lifted the bonnet and he went about his work poking his torch into all the nooks and crannies, but to no avail. This one had him really stumped. His decision was that I should go away and find the engine number in my own time instead of wasting his and come back when I had found it. Tony Cullen had an engraving tool at his workshop in Blackwood so I went up there and we engraved the appropriate engine number in about eight different places. Back I went for my second inspection and this time he found one of the eight or so engine numbers. His comment was "I can't believe I missed that last time, I'm usually pretty good at finding them". I just remembered his first name was Russell. My son had little Jack Russell called Russell and he was an angry little terrier too. I must remember to ask John Davies if the car still has the original engine whether he has seen the engine number in more than one place. Getting back to B8/5, it turned up out the front as I said, and when I heard about it I raced downstairs with this crappy old camera that I kept in my top drawer for such an occasion and snapped off a picture.
It was an amazing site and you can see the driver of the Valiant taxi is amazed too. The car was so new that the side windows were fixed one piece jobs like the ones on the drag car in a recent post. You can also see te early Nagari mags that had alloy centres but steel rims. The car was purchased new from Bolwell Cars, Seaford, Victoria by Michael Kuhn, a builder from Plympton.
A year later, in 1971, Michael and the Bolwell moved to Darwin as the building industry was booming there by then. By 1979 it had found its way to Melbourne and in that year it was purchased from a Melbourne car yard by Bob and Kerryn Hampton of Emerald. They used this car for many years, only selling it to buy the Howard Ellis yellow sports. Later, Bob and Kerryn moved to the Gold Coast taking the yellow convertible with them. I really don't know much about the ownership of B8/5 after the Hamptons but it did go to NSW and a subsequent owner was Craig Wade. It is now owned by NSW member, Gordon Ross and here are a few pictures of it at a club event up there.
As you can see, it has a very distinctive bonnet bulge. I'm not sure I've seen another one like it.
It has also gained some new wheels. Most people would say thank goodness because those very early Nagari wheels were a bit of a worry. However, if anyone has any of them laying around, I might be interested in purchasing them, especially if the price was something like what an old pensioner like myself could afford. Talking about Nagari wheels, I remember Peter G saying the other day that the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory made them for Bolwell. Well, a long time ago, I was at a place called J. Swift Diecasters Pty. Ltd. on Ferntree Gully Road, Clayton North who offered me the dies for the one piece Nagari wheels. They were way down the back, out in the weather, and had been for many years. Unfortunately they were beyond redemption, otherwise I would have bought them on the spot.
Monday, May 19, 2008
This black and white picture is from a Custom Rodder magazine showing the car at the 1972 Melbourne Hot Rod Show.
These last pictures were taken at the 1989 Victorian branch Show 'n' Tell and as you can see they show the car reverting back to something standard. The Hemi has gone too. I shouldn't say "reverting back" because the car started life in that radical form. From my own point of view, if I wanted to wake up that debate on the integrity of standard cars, I think that the car has a history of its own in that drag car format and that history has now been lost. It's the same as the 3 six-cylinder Nagaris and the four-cylinder one, they have all been changed to 302 V8s. Anyway it is good to see John reunited with his old car. Did you get that Mk.7, John?
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The body will be digitally recorded into "Rhino" program and smoothed/made symmetrical on computer before final shaping on their machining centre.
They have just installed the machine and the Laro is their first job.
AusComposites will be machining bucks/moulds straight off computer images for outside customers. Anything is possible - 10m boats, planes, CARS, widgets etc.
I think it's very exciting that such a progressive company is local. Anyone who wants to find out what's possible should call Serge or Sarah on (08)8329 9900. They are keen to show what they can do.
We wish they were up and running 12 months ago! Better late than never and anyway, others can benefit from knowing an Adelaide company has this capacity.
I can think of a few MK.7 builders that could have done with this. Imagine the right hand side being symmetrical with the left hand side!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
This red one was powered by a 6-cylinder grey motor too and at the time was owned by Roger Boylan. Subsequent owners were Ken Stratton and Roger Trethewey and it is now being rebuilt by hill-climber Alan Foster although the six cylinder is long gone.
The opposite extreme is the fitting of a rotary. You've really got to look hard to find the engine, yet this is the way to get the most power of all.
Getting back to the grey motor, that's what lived in my Mark 5. For a very short period in its life it had a Repco cross-flow head fitted that I had picked up from Dean Qualmann who used to build grey motors for speedway. Apart from the power it produced, I used to like just lifting the bonnet and looking at it. One of my deepest regrets is my impulsiveness in sending it over to the Bendigo Swap Meet when I had a touch of the shorts. Naturally it was snapped up. I'll never see one of those again I'm willing to bet.
Monday, May 12, 2008
From where I don't know, he acquired a Mk.4B body and below is how Dinky turned out to be in the end.
This photo below is that very body sitting on a trailer in a backyard in suburban Adelaide where it was taken to flop a mould before the Dinky rebuild took place. Lots of procrastination eventuated and eventually the body was called back to Melbourne before the moulds were made.
Peter did get to use Dinky in its new form but died at an age too young to be fair quite a few years back now.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
This is a body out of the Mk.4B mould. This is the car that the late Werner Rodkin used for hillclimbs and now resides in Europe. Do you know how it got to be over there? Well, a German couple entered their exotic sports car (I forget now what it was) in the Targa Tasmania one year and when they arrived to compete found that their car was still on the high seas so they bought this little car which just happened to be on the market at the time so that they didn't waste their entry. After the Targa they decided they liked the car so much they took it home with them.
Anyway, the 4A and the 4B do look different. Which do you prefer?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Smiths Potato Chips have one and Pete Garvin sent me some photos of a couple that are used for home deliveries of Big Macs and owned by a Melbourne suburban McDonalds outlet. I once knew of a radio station that had one. Sportscar lovers say they are not real Bolwells but there is an oval shaped, brass coloured "Bolwell" badge on the front for all to see. The purists then say that they are still not Bolwells because they only built the body and not the chassis. These bodies were mounted on commercial versions of Suzuki or Daihatsu chassis. Anyway I think they are Bolwells and I've always wanted one. Pete calls them the Mark Nine-and-a-half. They appeared between the Mk.9 Ikara and the Mk.10 Nagari. I know of one languishing in a warehouse but I've never had the available funds to make them a decent offer. I did respond to an ad. for one in Unique Cars once. It turned out to be a pirate job. Ther's one for the original vs. replica debate.
Friday, May 9, 2008
You can get some idea of how it is going to look. These are getting to be old photos really as it has progressed relatively fast of late and looks even better now. Basically these are photos of the buck. The buck and sub-frame are about to come off the chassis to be detailed for moulds. The chassis is complete under there somewhere(!), ready for finish/weld/seal/paint and assembly.
Whilst it is still a relatively small car (4.15m long X 1.86m wide X 1.27m high) the cabin is large. Simon's human test dummy @ 6 ft 3" & 135 kg. can get in and out easily and the seat is not adjusted all the way back for his driving position. I must say that it is the easiest car for me to get into and out of as well and I feel very comfortable in the driver's seat.
In Simon's words it is not a race car on the road. e.g. it will ride smoothly, have provision for "thickshake drink holders", secure storage in cab for laptop, handbag(s), camera etc. Also 2 full size golf bags and 2 medium suitcases, 2 toilet bags and some miscellaneous soft stuff in the boot, plus a full size spare and 75 litres of fuel.
With LS2 etc. it will be a useful split-personality, ie 0-100 in sub 5s for 20% of its life but will take off in 2nd, shift to 6th and keep up with the traffic for the (realistically) largest part of its life (without alarming any of the faint-hearted who may be present!).
Chassis torsional rigidity is over 30,000Nm per degree.
Simon reckons if it rattles, knocks, squeeks, shimmies or bump steers in any way he will burn it to the ground! I don't think there will be any fear of that.
We'll see soon enough.
Comments are encouraged. Just click on the word "comments".
Thursday, May 8, 2008
The history of the car goes back some time. Where the body and chassis came from originally I have no idea. Perhaps Gary Williamson, the current owner, may know. Anyway, it turned up in California where the owner widened it to accommodate an RX7 windscreen. Really, the plan was to go into production over there and widening it was part of getting around copyright problems (at least that's what I've been told). Anyway, before much progress was made in that direction the bloke died. His beneficiaries brought the car back to Australia and eventually it was acquired by Gary. My understanding is that Gary bought it at a good price because it had no integrity as an original Nagari, which should please the protectors of the values of credentialed vehicles. Gary had begun the narrowing process but I think I might have chucked a spanner in the works by suggesting that it looks better wider. From my point of view, the long job of taking the four or so inches out of it is not going to make it into an original car as it has no chassis number and would still be a special or hybrid no matter what. I think it has historical interest as it is in its own right and a wider car, apart from being visually pleasing, is more practical as it gives a bit more elbow room inside and maybe (dare I say it?) the provision for wider seats.
All this leads me to something not altogether different. For some time there have been these questions floating around, especially from the Eastern states along the lines of "what's John Low up to over there?". It's time to come clean. I have been involved in a project to build a "modern day" Nagari and part of the plan was for it to be not a lot different in concept to the original Nagari, e.g. front engined, V8 powered etc. (how the new Nagari should really be). But it needed to be wider to accommodate ageing baby boomers and with ease of entry suitable for half cripples such as myself. It is coming along nicely and it's not just wider, but all the dimensions have increased out of necessity and as time goes on it is looking less like an original Nagari. An approach was made to Bolwell to officially call the car a Nagari "Tribute" as that was the intention - a tribute to the original design. The response was that we must not have any reference to "Nagari" as they were down the track with their own new Nagari. It's now unofficially called a "Laro" which is a reference to the designer and builder, Simon Aram. In the words of Patrick Conlon, "watch this space". Some spy shots are on the way.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The other car pictured was at the same race meeting and is the Maserati of Colin Hyams. Colin didn't seem a lot older than us but he must have had a few bob and I mention him because he had a genuine LeMans GT40 that I managed to drive around the Adelaide Showgrounds. The Sporting Car Club had a car show in Centennial Hall called the Cavalcade of Cars and the GT40 was one of the attractions. This was in the days before security companies and the young members were the overnight guards and helped with putting the cars in their places and so on.
On my night to be on duty I remember having a comfortable sleep in the back of a huge Packard limousine that was originally the chauffered mayoral car for the Nuriootpa council in the days before amalgamations and when Mayors had flash cars. This was later to be my wedding car and was also used in the film "On The Beach" so Ava Gardiner and Gregory Peck had parked their bums on my comfortable bed.
While on the subject of AGPs, my dad, when I was in primary school, took me to the AGP at Port Wakefield, so I was a witness to former Bolwell Club member, Keith Rilstone coming 5th in the Rilstone Special. When I was even younger, dad took me to Adelaide Oval to see the great Don Bradman play in his last test match against England. He was out for a duck!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
This one is Dino's and retains the original Mk.7/Toyoya tail lights and blacked out rear section which emphasizes the rear lip.
The third one is Mark's and I like this particular photo of it because you can see the late model Nagari boot seal and guard flares and different tail lights yet again.
This one is Tony's (or was ). It was once a black coupe and almost overnight just appeared as a Fosters blue convertible. The photo was taken through the windscreen of the Pantera on the way home from Renmark way back then. The car was particularly memorable that Easter for its giant burnouts. Unfortunately it is no more as it was completely destroyed in a bushfire at Kangarilla last year.
This last one is Roger's and notice that Roger has chosen to retain the coupe's original shape at the rear and looks great.
Five different Mk.7 convertibles and five different approaches.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
The last we people down South have heard is that it was up for sale again about 12 months ago and it apparently was sold to a different car yard.