Thursday, April 19, 2018

Still getting lots of attention at the Gosford Museum.

The Mark 7 with the Nagari doors.

That looks better.

This is B9/001's original chassis, now looking much tidier and straighter.

Aussie EV.

There are currently no Australian-made battery-powered car makers manufacturing in Australia, but ACE Electric Vehicles plans to change that.
The company, which started as GetGreen – an energy management company – before evolving into solar farm development and branching out into electric cars, says it wants to bring manufacturing back to Australia, specifically regional Queensland.
"We are proud to be launching our first range of Australian electric vehicles," ACE Electric Vehicles managing director Greg McGarvie said.
"This is now a realistic proposition since our agreements on a new patented manufacturing process for electric vehicles."
The group is targeting the release of its first electric car by the third quarter of this year, with two more vehicles scheduled to be released in 2019.
There are currently two models, a ute, dubbed the Yewt, and a cargo van. Prices will be belowe $40,000.
Mr McGarvie said the vehicles had been built predominately for urban environments, "they have been designed for jobs like small trades or physiology labs, where they are going back and forth".
The vehicles have a total range of 350 kilometres using a 40 kilowatt hour battery – the Tesla Model 3 has a 50 kilowatt hour battery – although 99 per cent of trial trips have been under 110 kilometres.
While the vehicles’ carbon fibre components are being built in China, they are assembled in Australia.
"They are shipped to Australia and put together like Ikea," he said.
Mr McGarvie said once demand increases all manufacturing will shift to Australia.
"Once we hit around 10,000 units a year we can shift all building and manufacturing to Australia."

Suffering from range anxiety

With the potential of creating a renewed, albeit smaller, Australian automotive manufacturing industry, many are asking why Australia remains reluctant to take up electric vehicles at the same pace as Europe, the US or China.
"The key reason for poor uptake is the cost of electric vehicles, range anxiety – the cars running out of charge – and poor access to charging stations and servicing facilities, as well as a lack of a range of models," Mr McGarvie said.
"We just need an open door. The current energy policy confusion is also impacting the ability of business to make investment decisions based on market risk."
This is supported, to a degree, by new research from Citi analysts.
They say the take-up rate is partially dependent on whether there are policy incentives put in place, however, even if there exists policies pushing the growth of electric cars the change-over from petrol-fuelled vehicles will take some time.
"Current new vehicle sales are around 1.2 million per annum versus a current fleet of 18.8 million cars, so even if 50 per cent of new vehicle sales were electric vehicles, the fleet would take around 30 years to replace," the Citi analysts said.
Currently, the only national incentive is a $100 million asset finance program.
Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said: "By providing discounted finance through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, it is hoped we can encourage a greater uptake of electric vehicles and reduce emissions."
However, Canberra is going its own way, announcing on Friday plans to make at least half of all newly leased ACT government fleet vehicles either electric or hydrogen powered. The plans also include the establishment of EV-charging stations between Canberra and Sydney, a review of parking and traffic as well as permitting zero-emissions vehicles to drive in transit and bus lanes until 2023.

Fast pinions for Austin 1800 steering racks

Fred Podner (Bolwell Club - Vic.) writes :-

Austin 1800 Racks and Fast pinions

As you may be aware many of our cars have Austin 1800 steering racks.  In the Nagari when combined with the XW stub axles and long steering arms the result is aa 4 turns lock to lock steering.  Many people have installed “fast pinions” which use the standard rack but the pinions have another tooth.  This increases the speed of the steering to about 3.5 turns lock to lock which makes to possible to catch the rear end ( similar ratio to GTHO’s and Bathurst chargers).  The Austin 1800 rack was also used in Mk7’s but with  many cars with Torana front ends it is hard to know how many cars have the Austin 1800 racks and if the steering needs the increase in speed.  At this stage there has been renewed but only limited interest in the fast pinions but the items have a very high set  up cost so we need to get a reasonable quantity produced and for that we need member interest and we need to understand how big the market is for future stock.  There has been at least 2 production runs that I am aware of in the past so quite a few Nagari’s and only one mark 7 that I am aware of has had the upgrade.  I can only assume that about half the Nagari’s with original racks have had the upgrade ( those with torana front ends run the torana rack  which is not suitable for the is upgrade).  If you have a Nagari and you are not sure if a fast pinion is installed then check the lock to lock  ( 4 turns is standard and 3.5 turns will already have a fast pinion installed- I am not sure about Mk7 standard turns lock to lock).   Installation of the fast pinion usually involves no modifications but the shims may need to be adjusted ( no one has had to do this in my experience).    In the case you have an Austin 1800 rack I would appreciate knowing A/ if you have a fast rack or not  and B/ if you are interested in a fast rack pinion. The first time they were made I think they were $300  the last time I did it they were $150 ( ten years ago ) and this a function of volume  the more interest the lower the cost.  I think if we can get interest this will be the last time around as I doubt I there will be sufficient volume for another production run in the future.  PS if people are aware of good gear cutting companies that may be competitive for small run production please let me know that also.  PS if you move the rack even small changes in position can upset the bump steer assuming you have set it at some point ( correcting bump steer – one of the best things to improve your car if it has not been correctly set up.) Regards Fred Podner

Ken Williams writes :-

G'day Fred,
As you may recall, I fitted one of your fast pinions to my Nagari soon after I bought it and it was the best thing I could have done.  It made little difference to the steering effort required, but in my case, reduced the turns lock to lock from 3.8 to 3.3, which at least gives a fighting chance of catching the rear if (when) it steps out.  Fitting the pinion was easy and required no changes.  I liked it so much I bought another for the rack to be fitted in my Mk.7.  While I probably won't need another, I would recommend the fast pinion to anyone who does not have one. 
Cheers,  Ken.

If anyone is interested in one of these pinions, they are welcome to email me on and I can pass your interest on to Fred.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A long and comprehensive article on Bolwell.

From a blog called Silodrome, but don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.


Reading time: about 17 minutes.
    The Bolwell Nagari is a car that few people outside Australia have heard of, much less seen or driven. Bolwell were, and still are, Australia’s sports GT car, designed and made by a group of brothers who built their first car whilst ditching school as teenagers.
    This is a GT car that reflects the Australian “Jack’s as good as his master” culture in which it is expected that everybody will be given a fair go. For the Bolwell brothers that fair go meant that Australia’s GT car should be made using Australian made parts that were affordable and accessible: and that the car should be kept inexpensive so that an average bloke could afford one.
    Early cars were made available as kits for an owner to build themselves: the last of the original Bolwells, the Mark VIII Nagari, started out as a kit, but soon the kit car option was taken away and customers could only buy a complete car.
    Bolwell Nagari kit
    To put the cost of the kit car version into late 1960’s perspective, a new Ford Cortina or Datsun 1600 (i.e. Datsun 510) cost around AUD$2,000.00. The Bolwell Nagari kit cost AUD$2,795.00: so if you could afford a new four cylinder Ford or Datsun you could probably afford a Bolwell kit. This was a GT car for the ordinary guy, and it offered the performance and handling of some of the more exciting Italian exotics, being similar in many ways to the Bizzarrini GT Strada(aka. Bizzarrini GT America and Iso Grifo Competizione), except with Australian characteristics.
    To put the driving experience of the Bolwell Nagari into perspective consider that the car used the same engine and transmission as that of the Ford Falcon GT, but installed all that lovely power into a fiberglass bodied GT car that weighed quite a bit less than the four door sedan.
    I first came to appreciate the power of the Falcon GT in 1970 when I did a competition driver’s course at the local race track, and one of the course participants had a somewhat tweaked Falcon GT Phase I sedan. That car would smoke its tires in first and second gear, and you could hear the tires howling as they tried to get grip in third. So if you can then imagine that sort of power in a lightweight fiberglass sports car you have an idea of what driving the Nagari was like.
    Bolwell only recommended British Avon tires for the Nagari to keep the power under control. Behind the wheel for a “brisk” drive the first impression was of being glad it had headrests as the acceleration was everything one could have hoped for. Despite its having a live rear axle the car was stable, controllable, and enormous fun, and you could build that fun for yourself for AUD$2,795.00.


    The history of Bolwell sports cars has humble, almost Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn beginnings. A sixteen year old Campbell Bolwell along with his brother Graeme, skipped school to get into building a sports car. This the sort of scenario that a few of the major sports car makers have come from: Bruce MacLaren started out with a tweaked Austin 7, which you can see to this day on display at the MacLaren Technology Centre.
    In the case of the Bolwell brothers it was not an Austin 7 but a 1937 Ford V8 chassis. The body panels were hand fabricated and the boys discovered that the car could actually outperform the Austin-Healeys, which were one of the premier affordable sports cars in Australia at the time. That first car survived for a couple of years and then Campbell and Graeme got stuck into their second creation based on a MG chassis. The MG chassis was low, light, and because it had been designed as a sports car it had good weight distribution. To their surprise the boys discovered that his new creation was a tad quicker than the first car despite the fact that it only had a four cylinder engine.
    Campbell worked in the Public Service and then at Coles as a trainee and by 1962 a twenty year old Campbell Bolwell had amassed the sum of two hundred pounds. This might not sound like much nowadays but back then a good wage was about twenty pounds per week and most people got rather less than that. With that two hundred pounds behind him Campbell Bolwell quit his job with Coles and started his own car building business. It is a story not unlike that of Bill Harley and the Davidson brothers.
    The first kit car built by Campbell and Graeme was called the Bolwell Mark IV. It was built on a space frame chassis with a fiberglass body and was powered by either a Ford Cortina four cylinder engine of 1,600cc capacity, a Peugeot four cylinder, or Australia’s own Holden 6 cylinder “grey” engine.
    The body was supplied to be built as either a coupĂ© with gull-wing doors or as a convertible. The Mark IV was succeeded by the Mark V and Mark VI. In 1966 Campbell and Graeme Bolwell went for a short working holiday in the UK and spent some time at Lotus Cars. The time there convinced them of the need to graduate from just producing kit cars to building fully built cars. On their return to Australia the brothers designed what they hoped to be their last kit car, the Bolwell Mark VII. This car was built on a backbone chassis whilst the engine was the relatively new Holden “red” engine, which was an in-line six cylinder with a seven main bearing crankshaft. That engine was made in a number of versions with capacities of 149 cu. in., 179 cu. in., 161 cu. in., and the 186cu. in.
    It was the Mark VII that really established Bolwell as Australia’s sports car maker, an Australian equivalent of Britain’s TVR and Lotus. Bolwell had by this time become expert in fiberglass fabrication and the quality of their fiberglass work was excellent. The Mark VII was made to use off the shelf Holden components except for the gearbox which was initially a Ford unit as Holden were not yet making a suitable four speed, and the Holden three speed with no synchromesh on first gear was not a worthwhile choice for a sports car. Because it used such common generic parts the Mark VII became a popular choice for motor racing as well as for road use. About 600 Bolwell Mark VII kits were sold between 1966 and 1972.
    Campbell Bolwell had a vision to create something that might just prove to be a world beater however, and that meant creating a car that would be the equal of the famed AC Shelby Cobra. This was to become the Mark VIII, better known as the Nagari. The Bolwell Nagari was based on a backbone chassis made of 14 gauge steel, similar to the Mark VII, but made to accommodate a Ford 302 cu. in. Windsor V8 engine. This was the engine fitted to the Ford Falcon GT Phase I that had been making quite a name for itself as the “Broadmeadows Bogan”: Broadmeadows being the location of Ford’s Australian factory and “Bogan” being an Australian colloquial word similar in meaning to the English word “hooligan”. So if a fast British car might be described as being suitable for a “gentleman thug” then the Falcon GT was being given a similar epithet. This was the car that Campbell Bolwell would take the engine and transmission from and insert them into his lightweight sports car to create Australia’s answer to the AC Cobra.
    Bolwell Nagari Specifications
    The Bolwell Nagari did not use the Falcon GT suspension however, but Bolwell created their own with a view to making the car handle at least as well as a Shelby Cobra, even if it wouldn’t be able to compete with a Bizzarrini 5300 GT (which had an American V8 engine and gearbox, but used an independent rear suspension). To this end the front suspension was by unequal length wishbones with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, whilst at the rear the Ford Falcon’s leaf springs and live axle were replaced by trailing arms, coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers to much better locate the Ford live axle. Over the top of that technically promising foundation Bolwell fitted a svelte fiberglass body that made the car look like a world class GT.
    Bolwell Nagari coupe roadster
    The Bolwell Nagari (Mark VIII) entered small scale production in 1969: initially available as either a kit or a fully built car with a hard-top coupĂ© body style. A soft-top convertible style was also offered but these are much more scarce than the hard-tops. The kit car option was phased out as quickly as Bolwell could manage it however. There isn’t an exact known number of the Nagaris produced, but probably around 130 give or take a few. This was the era when the US government was introducing emissions controls regulations for automobiles, and safety standards. The Australian Government decided to follow suit and brought in emissions controls and the “Australian Design Rules” (ADR) which mandated crash performance for automobiles. No provision was made for small scale specialist makers such as Bolwell to be exempted from crash testing etc. and so it became simply uneconomic for Bolwell to continue to build cars. Production of the Nagari ceased in 1974, and Bolwell moved on to creating fiberglass moldings for a variety of industries.


    Bolwell Nagari 301 cubic inch V8
    The Bolwell Nagari was made as one basic model with the main difference between the early and later cars being that the early production cars were fitted with the Ford “Windsor” 301 cu. in. V8, but when that ceased production Bolwell began fitting the Ford 351 cu. in. V8. In the interest of getting the best possible front to rear weight distribution the heavy V8 engine was placed as far back in the backbone chassis as possible, so far back in fact that the flywheel was located behind the windscreen line. Getting the weight distribution even was going to be important to the Nagari because it was going to be pushing a lot of power through the back wheels and there needed to be weight there to ensure the car kept traction. The location of the engine was quite like that of the Bizzarini GT 5300 and both cars suffered from the same problem, heat in the passenger compartment. Insulation can only achieve so much and to really make a Nagari comfortable air-conditioning is a good idea.
    The Ford 301 cu. in. (5 liter) V8 was fitted with a Holley 2 barrel 500 cfm carburettor and produced 220bhp @ 4,600rpm with torque of 300lb/ft @ 2,600rpm. This engine gave the Bolwell Nagari a standing to 60mph time of 7 seconds and a top speed in the vicinity of 130mph. The later 351 cu. in. Ford V8 engine produced more power but shoehorning it into the Nagari’s chassis required some modifications. With a 351 cu. in. V8 under the hood one road tester claimed the top speed was 147mph. We suspect that finding that out was a bit of a “white knuckle” experience.
    The engine and carburettor fitted determines the bonnet/hood profile. The 301 cu. in. cars have a modest air-scoop on the bonnet and one very early one appears in photographs with that small air-scoop reversed. The earliest display Nagari for the 1969 Melbourne Show had a flat bonnet/hood which was only made possible because the carburettor was removed from the engine. There are a few variations on the hood bulge depending on the carburettor(s) and engine fitted.
    Bolwell Nagari 351 cubic inch V8
    The front suspension was fully independent by unequal length wishbones and coil springs, this being mounted on the front of the “Y” fork of the backbone chassis (see diagram above). The rear suspension was mounted on a “T” section at the rear of the backbone chassis incorporating trailing arms to provide positive location of the beam rear axle with limited slip differential. Again coil springs were used. The propeller shaft passed through the chassis backbone to the rear axle. The steering was originally a rack and pinion unit from the Austin 1800 sedan which Bolwell listed as having 3.3 turns lock to lock: this was subsequently replaced with an Austin Kimberley steering box with 4.2 turns lock to lock. Turning circle was 34′.
    Brakes of the early Nagaris fitted with the 301 cu. in. V8 were 11¼” vented discs at the front and 10″ drums at the rear, the brakes being servo assisted with dual hydraulic circuits as was mandated by the ADI at the time. Brakes of the later 351 cu. in. V8 cars were discs all around. The Nagari was also fitted with alloy wheels which Bolwell described as “heat dissipating wheels”. Original wheel size was 14″x6″ and the tires were 185×14 radials. With the light weight of the car and the tires available on the market back then, Bolwell advised Avon tires for the car. Having the wrong tires on a Nagari did not help its handling, nor its handling of power at the rear wheels. The Nagari with the Ford Windsor V8 weighed 18cwt/2016lb, so it was about the same weight as a Ford Cortina of the late sixties or a Datsun 1600 (Datsun 510). It was a car that would benefit from twenty-first century wheels and tire technology.
    The Nagari was only 44″ high, comparable to the Bizzarrini GT 5300 which was 43″ high: consequently neither car is particularly easy to get in and out of. For those of us who are not 6′ tall it is perhaps a bit easier, but those of Jeremy Clarkson proportions may find it more of a challenge. Once in the car one becomes aware of the limited room in the foot well: the backbone chassis construction pretty much ensures there is just not quite enough space there. All the Bolwell Nagaris bar one were made in right hand drive. The one exception was made for an American client who didn’t take delivery of the ordered car, so it was purchased by someone in Australia who used it for racing where the fact that it was left hand drive was not a big issue.



    When looking for a Bolwell Nagari your best first port of call will be one of the Bolwell car clubs. With so few Nagaris in existence and almost all of those located in Australia they will tend to know of most cars still in existence. The backbone chassis was made of 14 gauge steel and steel can rust so it is your first concern, although you also need to look for cracks and the integrity of welds. A new chassis can be constructed but there is a significant cost in doing that. Pay particular attention to the rear box section as that is a rust trouble-spot on both Nagaris and Mark VII cars. You must get the car up on a hoist and check for corrosion and accident damage. Check all suspension mounting points, suspension bushings etc. Most Australians live in coastal cities and regularly visit the beach so expect that the car you are looking at has been exposed to salt air.
    On a test drive you are looking for signs of shock absorber failure (knocks, vibration), steering wandering or excess steering free play, movement or rattles in doors or body panels. Check door operation and fit. Jacking up the car and checking the opening and closing of the doors can provide tell tale signs of chassis flexing.
    Check tire wear patterns. Chassis or suspension/steering problems will often show up in unusual tire wear patterns.
    The fiberglass bodywork on Bolwell cars was very good, better than many, so you are mainly looking for damage from accidents or collisions with wildlife such as kangaroos or wombats. A collision with a kangaroo will tend to result in its going over the hood/bonnet and if the windscreen is not laminated it can finish up in the car on the driver’s lap. The end result of such a scenario is damage to both car and driver, the kangaroo often survives and hops off once out of the vehicle. Wombats will cause low front damage and they normally finish up going under the car, as do road-kill kangaroo carcases. So look for damage consistent with collision with animals as well as traffic accident damage.
    The quality of the paint will depend on how recently the car has been painted. The old gel-coat finish was not as good as modern finishes and getting a good re-finishing on a tatty looking car will do some wonders. For replacement body panels contact your Bolwell club. The Victorian club has original molds for the fiberglass panels of some Bolwell car models.
    The interior of the Nagari poses no great difficulty for an automotive trimmer. Instrumentation was generic and should prove to be repairable or replaceable. If the car does not yet have inertia reel seat belts they will be a worthwhile fitting for the additional comfort they provide. The Nagari was made to be a kit car or production car and so everything is made to be owner fixable.
    Check the that the door seals actually seal, on the original cars they sometimes didn’t. Your first trip through a car wash is often the time you find out whether there are leaks or not.


    Whichever of the original engines the Nagari has these units are solid and pretty agricultural. Normal checks will be for leaking oil seals front and back, rocker cover seals etc. Check for rattles or sounds that should not be there. Check for exhaust blue smoke indicating piston ring problems or valve guide problems. Do a cylinder leakage test. Check the radiator coolant for milky deposits indicating oil in the coolant. Check for signs of water in the oil, again, if oil and water come together there will be milky deposits.
    Check the transmission for operation, the four speed Ford gearbox is a joy to use. The most common place for gearbox problems to show up is on second gear because it gets so much use. Make sure second gear engages smoothly on the over-run, such as slowing down for a right angle left hand corner, and that it has no tendency to pop out of gear. check for excess play in the propeller shaft joints. When driving the car listen for knocks from the transmission.


    If the electrical system is original then it is decades old and due for replacement. If the car has been re-wired then things should be all working perfectly. Whichever scenario check that everything does in fact work as it should, an auto electrician can do the necessary testing better than most of the rest of us can.


    Look for service records and documentation of work done. The Bolwell club will often be a good source for the history of the car you are looking at.


    The Bolwell Nagari had the potential to be a great success not only in Australia, but also in world markets such as Europe and the United States. The design and engineering is perhaps not at the sophisticated level of an Italian thoroughbred but it is about the equal of a Shelby Cobra, and the Nagari is a great driver’s car, it’s enormous fun to drive. If you are looking for a car that provides AC Cobra excitement and owner tweak-ability then a Bolwell Nagari is a car you’ll without doubt enjoy.
    The Bolwell Car Company still exists and they have a new model, the Bolwell Nagari 300. At time of publication the list price was AUD$197,000, so it is not so much a car for the average bloke as the original Nagari was. But if you are looking for something exotic and unique then you will find the Bolwell Nagari 300 on the Bolwell Car Company website.
    Bolwell Nagari roadster
    Editor’s Note: If you have tips, suggestions, or hard earned experience that you’d like to add to this buying guide please shoot us an email (the address is in the footer). We’re always looking to add to our guides, and your advice could be very helpful to other enthusiasts, allowing them to make a better decision.

Hay, NSW.

With an overnight stay like this, who really wants to go home?

Overall champions.

Congratulations Mike and Tina.
Mike claimed he's "wrapped". Well, so is the car.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ikara seats.

Don't the Ikara seats look good in a Mk.7?
They feel good too and you can ride all day in them with no ill effects.

Mk.7 tail lights.

I think it's Eddie and Mike in WA (correct me if I'm wrong) who are a long way down the track with stamping out Toyota Crown tail light housings. Here's what they have achieved so far.
The need for this has come about due to the rarity of these items these days. There are no NOS and try finding items like this in wrecking yards now. They were only on the second generation S40 models (1962 - 1967) and only on the sedans and to top it off, the first S40 sedans had tail lights like this :-
Despite the fact that the S40 was eventually assembled in Port Melbourne, tell me the last time you have seen one. Anyway, be that as it may, the boys are pressing on with solving the scarcity. They will be available either polished or chromed, but with a further $80.00 for chroming, I think the polished units look nice. They are even planning LED fittings which will enhance the luminosity and brightness (both words have slightly different meanings) when the lenses we are purchasing are fitted.
Updates and progress reports will be posted on this site so keep an eye out.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Plumbers' crack.

Or should that be shearers' crack?

Ikara brains trust.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Judged No.1 at the Show 'N' Shine.

Congratulations Peter Kordic, worthy winner by a good margin. The car was built a few years ago now but you'd never know. Very innovative. You've done a great job and so has George May who made no small contribution.
The raised roofline is evident in this photo. This was done when the car was in the hands of Richard Windham who is a bit on the tall side. Compare it to Jim Fogarty's, another nice Qld Mk.7.
Talking of "nice Qld Mk.7s" here's Barry Campbell's ex-Matt Pintar ProdSports racer.

JWF Italia for sale

" Its on an austin A40 chassis 
its an original 1959 ? JWF body complete with the screen & quarter windows . Unfortunately someone has flared the front guards it has the A40 front end & a hilux ? diff that someone has put in it to roll it around . considering the rarity of the original bodies & its reasonably good condition for age & having the original hand made chromed brass windscreen surround & quarter windows i feel $5000 is a fair price"

Contact Ian Weber on
0432 652 190
Car is on the Gold Coast QLD

Monday, April 9, 2018

They're still out there.

Mark 7s, tucked away in sheds all over the country. Still in the Sunshine State, Phil and Jenny visited this fine example in the hilly country of Peachester, a bit south of Malaney.

More wood.

B8/63 - almost but not quite.

Poor Terry Hulm missed taking B8/63 to Easter by a whisker. A death in his mechanic's family meant the last minute jobs didn't eventuate. That couldn't be helped. Here's some photos of the car. It's going to be a beauty Terry.
There's always Phillip Island next year I guess.

This is the ex-Ben Kaplan car and many years ago was owned by Rohan and later by David Thompson, although it was Monza red when David had it.

Terry is one of 6 that we know of that almost made it, the others being :-
          Graham Nichols, Ikara - not road tested
          Garry Warren, Nagari - last minute brake dramas
          Matt Jenkins, Mark 7 - paint job issues
          George May, Nagari - fuel pump problems
          Wayne Schiller, the green Ikara - water pump issues
Still, 22 cars is a fine effort. Apparently the record is 24. If 3 of the above 6 had made it then the record would have been broken. Next year it will be for sure.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


That's not a bit of rag attached to Ken's LH door handle. It's Chris's tattered flag.

B8/38 and Easter.

Easter 1985 - Steve Barnard.
Easter 1991 - Richard Gac
Easter 2018 - Greg Pittaway.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Favourite 3-wheelers No.34 - The Bummer.

Bolwell Mk.8 - Nagari

The Bolwell Mk8 was different to previous models in several significant ways:
  • It was the first Bolwell car with a name, not just a number. The name ‘Nagari’ is apparently an Australian Aboriginal word meaning "flowing"
  • It was conceived as a fully built production car, not as a build it yourself kit. Campbell Bolwell was concerned about the quality of cars being driven around brandishing his name on them, and decided that the time was right for a professionally built, up-market Australian sports car. Kit versions of the Nagari were, however, sold.
  • It was designed to incorporate Ford components instead of Holden parts specified in the Mk5, Mk6 and Mk7, including a V8 engine. Furthermore, mechanical components would be sourced new from Ford rather than refurbished second-hand parts as for previous models.
Graeme Bolwell had come back from a working holiday at Lotus in the UK in late 1966 with plenty of ideas about what could be done with fibreglass and the need to design for the material you are using. Graeme basically became Bolwell’s R&D department and spent two years in a walled off area of the Bolwell factory with a Mk7 developing the new Bolwell Nagari. Graeme effectively threw away the book on making steel cars and designed the Nagari for fibreglass. The biggest single production change was in the manufacture of the whole Nagari body in one piece, instead of making all the pieces, removing them from the moulds and then glassing them all together. The other significant advance was in the use of bobbins (aluminium plugs set in fibreglass) for mounting body parts and body/chassis attaching points
The Nagari doors, with an outer skin and an inner stressed door frame/skin were Lotus Europa inspired but went further and added a unique top section that intruded into the roof area giving better cockpit access. Another of the unique features of the Nagari was the bulging door-line, with the curve of the windscreen continuing into the doors and then sweeping in again as you move toward the back of the car, leaving the rear end narrower than the cabin. The huge curve in the windows didn’t matter because they were to be fixed in place with ventilation via ducts through the dashboard. This again was an idea borrowed from the Europa, but it didn’t take long for Bolwell to conclude that it wouldn’t really work in an Australian summer. The use of a proprietary dash top was another Lotus trick and along with the moulded console trims, made the whole interior look much more professional than the previous models.
Chassis design for the Bolwell Nagari was also influenced by but not directly derived from Lotus, even though it is very similar to the Lotus Elan among others. Basically Bolwell liked the idea of the backbone chassis – the Mk7 had a type of a backbone but in the Nagari they made the chassis a lot stronger as they now had the big Ford V8 engine
New supply arrangements were negotiated with Ford and Ford would take a motor and gearbox fully assembled off the production line for Bolwell. The engines were supplied with Autolite carbies on them but Bolwell replaced them with a 2 barrel Holley 500 carbie. Bolwell had to modify the chassis, headers and so on when Ford later changed from the Windsor V8 to the Cleveland engines. Although the Nagari was designed with Ford V8s as the power plant of choice, a handful of cars were built with Holden 6s and one constructed with a 1500 cc Cortina 4. Many of these variants have received V8 transplants; it now would be highly unusual to find a Nagari without a V8.
One of the other changes for the Nagari was the introduction of special Bolwell mag wheels. The first two piece version had Bolwell centres, which were basically a copy of a Lamborghini Muira and they were bolted onto a steel rim. They looked good but they weren’t very strong, so eventually Bolwell changed to a fully cast one piece wheel.
Nagari production began in 1970 and continued through to 1974, when a number of factors came into play to affect its demise: specifically rising prices and impending stricter ADRs (Australian Design Rules).
Bolwell introduced the soft top Nagari Sports in 1972; not only because it looked so good but also because it was hoped that it would sell a few more cars. Many folk are surprised to learn that the Sports came about quite early in the Nagari lifecycle, at chassis number 47. Bolwell had to make some new moulds but could keep the bonnet and front and rear bumper but still had to make a whole new main body mould, with the roof chopped off. They also had to make a new inner guard and come up with some seat belt mounting points inside the back mudguards. The chassis was strengthened in a few key areas, and a steel tube was incorporated into the rear body section to provide extra strength as well. The doors also had to be modified to remove the window frame, although the small quarter window and upright was retained to add some strength. Space behind the seats in the Sports was increased by moving the rear bulkhead back slightly. This meant that the seat could slide back further for better legroom, and meant that additional space was available behind the seats for coats or small bags or potentially for small passengers. The downside was that the boot space was reduced somewhat. Interior trim and all mechanical specifications were identical to the Nagari coupe.
Many improvements were phased in over the Nagari’s production life, notably: chassis revision for the larger (physically) Cleveland V8s (ie from the original Windsor); adoption of MGB front parking lamp/indicators in place of earlier Cortina units; use of an energy absorbing steering column and flat steering wheel; and adopting a larger bonnet bulge specifically for the larger engines.
Unfortunately Bolwell’s production records for the Nagari have gone missing so there is no real way to quantify the actual numbers of Nagaris, both Coupe and Sports, actually produced by Bolwell. Latest best estimates by Nagari aficionados is that 18 Sports were produced along with 100 Coupes (or GTs) making the total production of Nagaris from 1970 to 1974 a grand total of 118 units.

Bolwell Mk 8 – Dimensions and Specifications
(Sourced from Bolwell promotional materials and Sports Car World Road Test)
Wheelbase90” (2286mm)
Track Front57” (1448mm)
Track Rear59” (1499mm)
Overall Length158” (4013mm)
Overall Width66” (1676mm)
Overall Height44” (1118mm)
Ground Clearance6” (152mm)

ChassisBackbone type steel chassis 
EngineFord 302 ci (4958cc) (351 ci optional). Compression 10.0:1. Holley 2 barrel 500 cfm carburettor.
TransmissionFord “top loader” four speed all synchromesh, remote control mechanism
SuspensionFront – Independent with unequal wishbones, coil spring damper units. 
Rear – Live rear axle located with 2 oblique torque arms and 2 trailing arms 
Fully adjustable coil spring damper units
SteeringModified Austin 1800 rack & pinion, 3.3 turns lock to lock, turning circle 34 ft
BrakesHydraulic vented 11 1/4” disc front, power assisted. 10” drum rear. Separate circuits.
WheelsBolwell alloy wheels 14” x 6”
Tyres184 x 14 radial ply

Horsepower220 bhp @ 4600 rpm (Windsor engine)
Torque300 ft/lb @ 2600 rpm
Standing Quarter Mile14.8 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph (209kmh)
Fuel ConsumptionCruising – 24 mpg 
Overall – 22 mpg 

Ikara specs.

In the links is one called Bolwell Car Club of Australia. There has not been an update since 2012 and much of the material is misleading to say the least. However before I remove the link completely I will make use of the well written model descriptions starting with the Mk.9. Here goes.

The Bolwell Ikara was conceived in 1978 when the Bolwell engineering and design team set out to create a sports car that was fun to drive without any of the compromises of the motor industry’s safe, conventional and boring suburban “committee car”.
The basic design concepts of the Ikara included:
  • Space frame tubular steel chassis based on sports race car principals and utilizing a built in roll bar for safety
  • The engine and transmission was a front-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf 1.6 litre transaxle unit mounted in a mid-engine position behind the driver with modified gearbox linkages. Using the Golf unit in this way also provided independent rear suspension complete with disc brakes.
  • Front suspension was from a Holden Gemini, which also provided independent front suspension with unequal length wishbones, disc brakes, and rack and pinion steering with an energy absorbing steering column system.
  • Wheels were specially designed light-weight 13 inch alloy units from Simmons. Specifications called for larger rims and tyres (225/60) at the rear than at the front (185/60).
  • Bodywork followed Campbell Bolwell’s ‘function before fashion’ design principles with simple Clubman styling utilizing high-strength-to-weight fibreglass panels, whilst offering a ‘pleasing and highly individualized appearance’.
  • The Ikara was to be sold as a kit or component car as this was the best way for Bolwell to be able to offer the Ikara at anything like an affordable price and without the requirement for Bolwell, as manufacturer, to go through all the ADR testing compliance and regulations that had effectively killed the Nagari. 
Given the unfortunate demise of Bolwell following the Nagari, the Ikara also needed to be seen as a promotional vehicle by Bolwell to generate recognition of its expertise in fibreglass and composites. As a result, the Ikara combined a range of fibreglassing techniques, including chopper gun sprayed up parts, hand laminated parts and some very specialized injection moulding. Because of its marketing emphasis, the finish of the Ikara fibreglass panels and general workmanship was top class; a view confirmed by magazine and newspaper car reviewers almost without exception.
The Ikara was also conceived from the very start as a ‘world’ car with potential export opportunities. The chassis and fibreglass panels could certainly be exported or perhaps manufactured overseas under license; and although the Golf engine appeared to be the best choice for the Australian market and for many overseas markets, the engine/transmission/suspension unit from several other cars (eg Renault 5, Honda, Mazda 323, etc) could be readily substituted if necessary. Similarly there was a range of suitable alternatives to the Holden Gemini front suspension for overseas markets, and the steering could also be transferred to left-hand-drive quite simply.
Bolwell produced a remarkably detailed 128 page Construction Manual for the Ikara as well as a detailed price list which very clearly set out exactly what was required for the owner/builder to complete their Ikara, and offered discounted pricing on four product packages. The basic Stage 1 kit started at $4,890 (just under the magic $5,000 price-point) where-as the comprehensive Stage 4 kit cost $9,490 (just under the $10,000 price-point). To this the purchaser had to add the cost of Golf and Gemini parts, which could be new or second-hand, and around 150 hours of labour. For the more skilled or cash strapped prospective Ikara owner, Bolwell even provided details of ‘delete’ options from the standard pricing which would potentially allow an Ikara to be fully completed, with engine and transmission but obviously with some compromises on parts and quality, for a minimum of around $7,5000. At the other end of the spectrum Bolwell indicated that there were authorised Ikara constructors available around Australia for those owners who needed assistance putting their Ikara together.
The Ikara project happened extremely fast, taking not much more than twelve months to get from design stage to having an Ikara actually on the road. This was mainly as a matter of necessity as the Ikara was conceived as a short run, low volume car, with a correspondingly low budget, so things had to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Following a sneak preview to members of the Bolwell Car Club, the Bolwell Ikara was officially launched at a function at Melbourne’s Calder Park Raceway in November 1979. This was a professionally organised event featuring the first two Ikaras and attracted world-wide media interest and coverage, including a report on the ABC’s 7.00 pm news service. Official presentations were followed by a ‘Cavalcade of History’ featuring examples of all Bolwell models going back to the Mk4. After the media bit with journalists and TV crews, it was then left to the general public to go for a bit of a fun drive with John Latham, noted Bolwell Nagari racing driver, around the witches hats. For a reasonably small event, the Ikara launch certainly created considerable interest. The Ikara was available for sale from around January 1980 and by the end of 1980 Bolwell had built a total of 12 Ikaras
The Ikara project was wound down at the end of 1980. In February 1985 arrangements were finalised with a Greek consortium to purchase the rights and tooling for the Ikara and the jigs, moulds, patterns and other tools were all shipped off the Greece. Although the intention was that Ikaras would continue to be produced as both completed car and as kits, and that Bolwell would retain a consultancy role, nothing has ever been heard about the Greek Ikaras.
Bolwell Ikara Dimensions and Specifications
(Sourced from Bolwell promotional materials plus various contemporary road tests)
Wheelbase2336 mm (92”)
Track – Front1365 mm (53¾”)
Track – Rear147 mm (57¾”)
Overall Length3683 mm (145”)
Overall Width1740 mm (68½”)
Overall Height1092 mm (43”)
Ground Clearance140 mm (5½”)
Weight – Kerb625 kg (1375 lb)
Fuel Tank40 litres

ChassisMulti-tubular spaceframe. Roll-bar incorporated.
Engine(Typically) 1588 cc (96.91 cubic inch) displacement, 55 kW (74 bhp) @ 5600rpm, 
119 Nm (88 lb/ft) @ 3200 rpm. Compression 8.2:1, SOHC.
TransmissionFour speed all synchromesh, remote control mechanism
RatiosFirst: 3.45
Second: 1.94
Third: 1.37
Fourth: 0.97
Final drive ratio: 3.90.
SuspensionFront: Unequal length non-parallel wishbones, coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers. 
Anti-sway bar. Adjustable for castor, camber and toe-in.
Rear: Independent, McPherson strut. Optional anti-sway bar, Adjustable for camber and toe-in.
SteeringRack and pinion. Collapsible column. Turning circle 10.36 m. 3.7 turns lock to lock.
BrakesFour wheel disks. No servo assistance. Hydraulic dual circuit, independent master cylinders front and
rear with adjustable balance bar.
WheelsAlloy/steel composite, super light-weight
TyresFront 185 x 60 x 13
Rear 225 x 60 x 13

PERFORMANCE:(information based on Wheels/Sports Car World November 1980 road tests)
Maximum speed163 kmh (5600 rpm)
Acceleration0-50 kmh 3.9 seconds
0-100 kmh 11.3 seconds
0-130 kmh 22.1 seconds
Standing Start0-400 m 17.4 seconds
Fuel Consumption9.5 km/l (26.8 mpg)
7.5 litres/100 km (restated)