Friday, January 31, 2014

This year's calendar.

I'll be picking them up from the printers on Monday at the latest. Same prices apply.
If you can't wait for your copy, you can use your old 1986 version, it has the same dates. I know because a non member bought one recently for that purpose.
Apologies to Alan. This particular car got the nod from the powers-that-be. There's always next year.
It's time I paid tribute to Phil Egel who for I don't know how many years now, has designed our calendars and taken them to the printing stage at no cost to us. He's a good bloke and a Sturt Football Club member. And, Stacey, he's in the Mamboobies.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


The DKW was a strong little car.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Need a windscreen for your race car?

City Plastics for all your plastic fabrication
61 East St Brompton SA 5007
(08) 8346 6500
City Plastics Pty Ltd is a small privately owned and operated, plastic fabrication company established in 1968, we are situated in a suburb of Adelaide, (the capital city of) South Australia.
Although we are only small in size we are big on experience, currently our staff each have an average of over 15 years experience in plastic fabrication.

Our main activities are in the field of thermo-plastic fabrication, we are experienced in working with most of the available thermoplastics.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

1970 or 1972.

This is Gary's chassis plate.
As you can see it clearly states it is a 1970 coupe. But wait........
When the car came to South Australia it didn't have a chassis plate at all. If it had ever had one it would have remained on the previous owner's mantlepiece. In all of its racing years there would have been no requirement for it to have had one. However, in about 1993 Colin wanted to turn it into a road car. In NSW it was a requirement that all registered vehicles have a chassis number, presumably to help trace them if they happened to be stolen. I am presuming the inspector couldn't find a valid chassis number wherever he looked on the car. It would then be his job to issue one to it. A blank chassis plate would then have been legitimately acquired from Bolwell or the Victorian Bolwell Club to be attached to the car with the appropriate information stamped on it. Each state authority had the provision to issue engine numbers and chassis numbers if a vehicle didn't have one. N932898P is one of these numbers, where the "N" signifies NSW, the "P" is for police and the "93" shows the year it was issued. So this number was the 2898th number issued by the NSW police in 1993. As for the 1970 stamped on it I'd say it was a good guess by somebody but not necessarily correct.

....and this one in the same edition.

1969-74 Bolwell Nagari: Once a kit car, now a cult car.

03 January 2014
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Colours can change the whole aura of the Nagari more than most cars. Soft-sheen metallics seem to integrate the various body details and make its fibreglass construction less obvious. The early Cortina parking/indicator units which Bolwell recessed into the body seemed purpose-made for the Nagari.
The Nagari marked Bolwell’s transition from kit car to factory turn-key sports car. Because of tiny local volumes, the Nagari owed as much to readily available local components as inspired design, highlighting the fundamental difference between it and mainstream factory rivals. Yet the Nagari has stood the test of time as the only all-Australian sports car ever that can boast a production run of four years and an estimated 118 examples, many of which raced successfully. 
The Nagari, first seen as a Mark VIII kit powered by anything from a Ford Kent four to a Holden six according to an owner’s whim and finances, was pushed into factory production to protect the integrity and quality of the V8 design. Its Aboriginal name translates to something that flows, appropriate given the fibreglass body and the way it looked. The Nagari badge was used to separate its factory-build status from those before it.
The larger bonnet hump and MGB parking/indicator lights identify this example as a later model with Cleveland power.
Attempts to rate the Nagari against the Chevrolet Corvette or Lotus Elan, are neither realistic nor helpful as early Nagari examples could never match their factory development and parts. Even the AC Cobra, a mainstream production AC Ace with a Shelby Ford V8 engine transplant, is not a fair comparison. Perhaps the closest in concept and execution was the TVR Griffith, a model that shared an earlier version of the Nagari’s Windsor V8.  
Later examples, once Nagari production gained momentum, were a huge improvement over the early cars after Bolwell ploughed sales revenue back into the cars. The 1970 release price of around $6,000 which had risen to $10,000 by 1974, ensured that the Nagari always cost 30 to 50 per cent more than a new Falcon GT. 
The kit cost of $2800 only made sense if you had access to a wrecked XR or XT Falcon GT with a decent drivetrain. Despite the transition to factory production, archival material confirms that the factory would still supply vehicles in various stages of completion. Even a turn-key Nagari demanded a serious commitment from 1970s buyers. Its closest rival, the Datsun 240Z, was only a shade over half the price at the end.
An early Nagari with the black front nudge section, two-piece alloy wheels with polished steel rims, Dunlop Aquajets and Cortina parking/indicator units generates a very different presence to the metallic red car above.
The Nagari was also the first Bolwell supplied with “a round 2-it”, a mysterious part missing from earlier Bolwells. At one stage, it was estimated there were more unfinished Bolwell kits lying in Aussie garages than on the road, because the owner didn’t get “a round 2-it”. 
Although Bolwell had been producing cars since 1962, the lack of visible proof of Bolwell’s formidable credentials and experience was a major issue in establishing the new Nagari. Even today, less than 200 of the 800 Bolwells (kits and final production examples) are on the road. Pristine, untouched kits from the 1960s still surface because the owner never got “a round 2-it”!
After launching the Mark VIII at the close of 1969, Bolwell pulled the pin in 1974 just as crash and emissions requirements were about to get tougher. It was an inspired decision. The Nagari was starting to age but had left Bolwell with a clear lead in the fibreglass and composites field. Replacing the Nagari would have been a thankless and funds-busting project.
Bolwell then built the “back to basics” Ikara clubman kit with VW Golf mechanicals located behind the driver. Later projects include the front sections of Kenworth and Iveco truck cabs, Robnell bodies, replica GT40 bodies and a number of OE components for mainstream manufacturers. Bolwell also built a sci-fi range of supermarket children’s rides and supplied the colourful moulded McDonald’s family restaurant furniture. 
More recent projects include blades for wind-powered generators, a range of truck aero aids, weather shields and protective casings for outdoor equipment, futuristic camper trailers, and a revival of the Nagari itself. 
The Lamborghini Miura was obviously the inspiration for many Nagari details but its Countach replacement was already on the radar by the time Nagari production gained momentum. (Image from:
What was a Nagari? 
Campbell Bolwell is often given the credit for the Nagari but his brother Graeme Bolwell delivered the technology leap that lifted the Nagari to the next level compared to its kit car predecessors.
The British kit car industry, driven by tax breaks and aspirations of poorly paid buyers, showed the way. Lotus built an absolute winner with the Lotus 7 Clubman, a model completed with parts from any number of rusted-out small Fords. Lotus then offered its benchmark Elan as a kit to keep its far more sophisticated suspension and drivetrain affordable.
For the Bolwell brothers, it made more sense to exploit the many Holdens that had left Aussie roads. After establishing the striking Mark VII around Holden parts, it was time for Graeme to go overseas and work for Lotus as Campbell took care of business.
The Lotus Elan is most often linked with the Nagari but the Europa was just as influential in the coupe’s style. Doors, nose aperture and the fake rear pillars (called strakes or flying buttresses) were Europa-inspired. Europa-style fixed door glass intended for the Nagari was ditched in an instant after Nagari internal heat was experienced. (Image from Wikimedia.commons)
As a result, the Nagari is sometimes mistaken as a variation of the Lotus Elan. The two models share a similar backbone chassis capped by a fibreglass body. Graeme also fine-tuned the body-chassis mounting with Lotus-type aluminium bobbins moulded into the fibreglass but the resemblance ends there. Local componentry then dictated Nagari dimensions and the final chassis design. 
The Lotus-style backbone chassis, one of the Nagari’s early strengths, depended on the lightweight fibreglass body for side-impact protection, one of the many issues waiting to come back to haunt it.
Bolwell did an outstanding job of Nagari styling behind the hessian curtain at its Seaford facility (a Melbourne bayside suburb near Frankston). It was inspired by ground-breaking designs already familiar to Australians. Even if it didn’t establish new trends, it was still far more daring than the 240Z for 1970. 
Elements of the Bolwell Mark VII inspired by the E-type Jaguar were combined with a front and cabin that both drew on the Lamborghini Miura. The alloy wheel design was almost a direct lift from the Miura. Door apertures, rear strakes which created the illusion of long rear pillars and other design details also reflected Graeme Bolwell’s exposure to the new Lotus Europa. 
It took considerable skill making the coupe’s short and relatively tall cabin look much sleeker than it was. It also explains why the later Nagari roadster looked a different car as there was no roof to expose the short wheelbase. In fact, the roadster dictated major new body mouldings and chassis tweaks.
The Nagari wheelbase of just 90 inches/2286mm, just two inches longer than a SWB Land Rover, was way too short for the fat front and rear tracks of 57inches/1448mm and 59inches/1499mm respectively. The Lotus Elan had a wheelbase of 80inches/2032mm with a front track of 44inches/1118mm and a 47inch/1194mm rear track. 
Nagari cabin was a work in progress evolving from unacceptable to just acceptable. The glovebox lid, full console and classier black finish shown in this later example were critical improvements as the seats, gauges and Cortina dash pad deserved better in earlier cars.
A chassis design that allowed the relatively heavy cast iron Ford V8 drivetrain (compared to the alloy head twin-cam Lotus four and its single rail Ford gearbox) to be mounted almost front mid-ships was all that stood between a lethal-handling Nagari and one that was acceptable. Many would argue this line was in fact too fine.
Anyone familiar with local family cars would recognise the Nagari’s track figures as belonging to the much bigger XR-XY Falcon series, dictated mainly by the Falcon’s hefty rear axle. The wide but short Nagari footprint ensured an innate twitchiness that would challenge even the best chassis tuners.
Where the Elan had a Y-section at each end to support the ground-breaking Lotus rear struts, the Bolwell chassis had to end in a T-section to support the Falcon’s massive live rear axle that could handle the V8 grunt.
The Nagari design left little room to generate optimum angles for the various rear suspension arms and mounts. Pulling-up that amount of unsprung weight before it could launch the almost featherweight rear section of the Nagari into orbit as it traversed rough Aussie roads, was also a challenge, and then some. 
The rear is one of the Nagari’s best views and most often seen with its off the line performance. Fake rear pillars as shared with the later Jaguar XJ-S stopped the cabin from looking short and stumpy.
This was less of a concern for track use where the suspension could be screwed down but as an indigenous sports car, the Nagari was expected to cope better with Aussie roads at higher speeds than the average.
Unfortunately, the Jaguar XJ6 which would later provide an almost limitless supply of tough independent rear ends that would transform cars like the Nagari, had only just been released!
Although the later Cleveland V8 was still an unbelievably tight fit even after Bolwell modified the chassis Y-section, it was mounted well back for better weight distribution than expected. The installation also left plenty of room for the huge modern thermo-electric fan shown here, an essential upgrade for modern traffic.
Pick a Part
Bolwell’s integration of readily available locally-produced parts was inspirational after they came together as if they were meant to be that way. It was no cake-walk.
Drivetrain: Ideally, Bolwell wanted to maintain its Holden heritage by using Holden’s new lightweight, compact V8 except Holden would not supply Bolwell. 
It’s not hard to work out why. Holden’s new V8 was brand new and needed to be kept close to home to sort out any teething issues, of which there were quite a few. Because a local Holden four speed manual gearbox was imminent, an imported gearbox could only be a short term solution. Holden was also busy promoting its new V8 as a sophisticated new engine choice worthy of powering its stunning Hurricane concept car. You could imagine conservative forces within Holden not wanting it associated with a kit car. 
Bolwell credits motoring journalist and then Sports Car World editor Rob Luck with negotiating the supply of Ford’s 302/4.9 Windsor V8 and top loader four speed gearbox. This was during the reign of Ford chief Bill Bourke and his competition offsider Al Turner, whose job was to also market a wide range of Ford performance parts under the Super Roo mantra to engage younger buyers. Running a Ford engine under the bonnet of any hot car, kit or otherwise, was exactly what Ford was promoting.  
Ford also supplied Bolwell with brand new front suspension uprights and hubs compatible with the Falcon GT’s huge new Kelsey-Hayes ventilated front disc brakes, top-loader gearbox and small block 302/4.9 V8 all fresh from Ford’s current XW Falcon. The heavy duty rear axle was also a local Ford part.
The benchmark Lotus Elan chassis was designed for an engine narrow at the base and the clever Chapman-strut independent rear end, later picked up by Lancia and Mazda thus under the rear of every Ford Laser. Because the Nagari’s Y-section had to be spread to fit a V8, width was already a problem before the heavy duty Falcon live axle was adapted at the rear. Note the early Windsor V8 exhaust manifold swap and coil over shock rear suspension.
Ford had no problems with diverting an imported crate engine with manual transmission and its Ford number sequence from its most likely Falcon GS destination to Bolwell. Bolwell then developed its own front unequal length wishbones to accept the Falcon uprights and its own rear axle location and springing which were similar to a Torana’s. 
A shortened local Austin X6 Kimberley/Tasman rack and pinion system took care of the steering. 
The engine was placed so far back in the chassis that the clutch and flywheel ended up behind the windscreen. This forced Bolwell to develop its own short throw linkages to move them forward of the centre armrest leaving them directly above the gearbox inspection plate.  Bolwell was one of the few that addressed such issues. Sorting Ford’s own top loader linkages was always a challenge so it was not a task for the backyarder.
Apart from a switch from the stock Autolite carburettor to a two-barrel Holley 500, the US engine was kept factory OE. Even the engine-driven fan stayed although it needed an extension block to reach the radiator in the nose. 
The Y-shaped front chassis section crimped space where it was needed most for the V8 exhaust to exit on both sides. Bolwell simply swapped the factory cast iron exhaust manifolds from side to side then flipped them so they exited at the front of the engine but the manifolds were now almost level with the rocker covers. 
Bolwell engine pipes had to be routed forward between the block and front cross-member. Because this introduced extra heat high in the engine bay ready for an under bonnet heat soak scenario, the Mark VII-type side vents became more than just a styling link. They were essential to maintain airflow but even then, the heat build-up was too high for the stock cooling system in hot summer traffic.
Given the challenges, it was a clever installation that didn’t leave any wildcards to cause warranty issues if something failed, an outcome not unknown with mass-produced US items at that time. 
However, for a Lotus-inspired design that would normally utilise the lightest parts that Colin Chapman could get away with, the Nagari was corrupted by heavy-metal US muscle car mechanicals. The engineering challenges were enormous with a track so wide and components so heavy compared to the rest of the car. It was about to get worse.
Just as Bolwell had developed the Windsor V8 Nagari over successive builds, Ford stopped importing the small block Windsor 302 V8 during 1972. Seizing the gap in Holden’s arsenal after the imported Chevrolet 350 V8 was neutered under new US unleaded emissions requirements, Ford placed a special Geelong version of the Cleveland V8 into local production. 
To replace the smaller imported Windsor 302, Ford built a unique Australian 302/4.9-litre de-stroked Cleveland version using the bigger 351/5.8-litre block, a disaster for Bolwell. Although the previous Windsor 351/5.8 could be squeezed in despite its taller block, everything about the Cleveland was bigger. 
This superb early Nagari Sports was a rare factory lightweight version built as a road car. The roadster body was the better choice for tall Aussies and the open cockpit provided welcome relief from drivetrain heat. It must rate as one of the most achingly beautiful and rarest roadsters ever built. (Image from:
Holden still would not supply its V8 engine despite a new local four speed gearbox. With a V8 XU-1 under development and the Torana GTR-X still under consideration, Holden was possibly keeping its options open on the Nagari market with a GTR-X V8.
The Geelong 302 delivered more power but Bolwell was left to re-engineer the Nagari chassis for its 351 levels of extra weight and bulk. Such changes were effective from examples numbered in the high 50s to the early 60s except some Cleveland chassis cars were fitted with leftover Windsors in the transition.
The Nagari’s Y-section front rails had to be dropped by a full 2 inches/51mm and the cross member reduced from six to four inches to create the space for the bigger engine. The bonnet was given a bigger bulge to clear the extra height.
Yet the Geelong engine was still too big and high to use the stock exhaust manifolds. Special extractors had to be developed to exit just ahead of the engine mounts. On the passenger’s side, they had to be modified to clear the oil filter. 
Because the new engines were supplied to Bolwell from Geelong, not US units diverted from the Ford assembly line, they carried a special AIE (Australian Industrial Engine) number and prefix. Occasionally, a 351 would be slipped into Bolwell deliveries then randomly fitted during Nagari production even though Bolwell remained committed to the 302/4.9-litre specification. 
However, such flexibility in specification left more space than most classic cars for later owners to upgrade or finesse their Nagaris for track use or enhance their performance or practicality. Values don’t seem to be too adversely affected providing changes don’t stray too far from the original.
The Geelong 302 boosted performance considerably, but as Allan Moffat discovered with his much bigger Trans Am Mustang, the extra weight and size of the Cleveland V8 were not welcome where handling balance was an issue.
At around the same time, Nagari rear axle location was changed. Earlier cars had coil over shock units, lower trailing arms and upper control arms mounted diagonally via threaded ends with cups and bushes to the outside corners of the rear T-section. 
Separate coil springs and dampers replaced the earlier coil over shock units. A new T-section then housed the upper spring mounts while the spring bases worked through the trailing arms. The upper and lower control arms had conventional bushes pressed into them. 
Although the improvement over the early cars was dramatic, the lack of precision in the Nagari chassis and instability over bumps remained an ongoing concern.
This early Nagari Sports with its Cortina parking/indicator lights is arguably the prettiest and most integrated of all Nagari models. The “rightness” of the roadster body and how good it looked surprised even the Bolwell brothers when its unique rear section came out of the moulds.
Body: The first coupes featured solid colours including Ford’s Vermillion Fire and the Mustang’s Grabber Orange. Cadmium Yellow shared with Coca Cola trucks was so popular that it became known as Coca Cola Yellow. Later cars featured metallics including a silver grey, Jaguar blue and the metallic green made popular by the XU-1 Torana. Again, because Nagaris were so often personalised, today’s Nagari market tolerates some variation in this area.
Although there were no bumpers as such, Bolwell integrated easily-replaced nudge sections front and rear. These were painted black on early examples, body colour later, although the rear section was usually left black. Factory replacement rear sections gained over riders as the bootline and rear bumper section were almost flush but this improved design didn’t reach production cars. 
Early cars had the recessed front parking/indicator lights from the Aeroflow-upgrade of the Mark I Cortina. Later cars had MGB units which stood proud and didn’t look as integrated. Tail lights were Hillman Hunter, perfect for the job, as they also appeared on the similar rear of the latest Aston-Martin.  They were no worse than the Fiat units on the rear of the Lamborghini Miura. Later headlights were Cibie quartz halogen, a big local advance and essential as the Nagari nose left no room for supplementary lighting.
Bolwell’s own alloy wheels originally had alloy centres and steel rims shod with red-walled Dunlop Aquajets. These were later upgraded to a stronger one-piece all alloy design fitted with Avons.
The new roadster involved far more than cutting off the roof. Although barely 18 examples of the 118 Nagaris were built as a roadster, the changes were extensive. Known as the Nagari Sports, the new body was offered from Build no 47 in 1972. Both the chassis and rear body section were strengthened including an internal hoop ahead of the boot aperture. 
Other roadster mods included a different inner rear guard design, new reinforced seat belt mounting points, frameless doors and a rear bulkhead moved further rearwards. This allowed extra seat adjustment, addressing the limitations of the coupe cabin. Extra storage behind the seats compensated for the loss of boot space.
Lightweight bodies could be ordered for racing. 
Another variation of the Nagari rear with a body-coloured nudge section showed how vulnerable all Nagaris were in everyday use and highlight why Bolwell developed a replacement section with over riders to provide more protection.
Cabin: The Nagari interior never really lived up to its purchase price despite Bolwell’s ongoing efforts and its big advance over earlier Bolwells. 
The first cars featured a bleak untrimmed centre console and switch panel, no glovebox lid and a cheap-looking woodgrain instrument panel. A leather-grained instrument panel and glovebox lid were added later. A later padded centre console that extended from the centre armrest up to the dash also made a difference although its toggle switches were still what you would find in an early Mini. 
The original drilled alloy-spoked wood-rimmed steering wheel which came from Aussie accessory manufacturer SAAS was a highlight and featured a factory quality Bolwell boss. There was an interim-spec steering wheel that featured the three drilled alloy spokes with a thick leather bound rim and black Bolwell centre. It was replaced by a stark all black two-spoke design with a thicker leather-wrapped rim and the Bolwell centre boss recessed into a flat black surround.
The steering column, dash pad and “Aeroflow” eyeball vents came from the current Mark II Cortina. ADRs later dictated a Valiant collapsible steering column section with integrated steering lock.
Along with the Stewart Warner gauges, it was the Cortina’s crash pad (with family resemblance to the one in the XT Falcon GT and ZA/ZB Fairlane) that saved the cabin from amateur hour status. The special Bolwell sports seats built on shaped fibreglass shells with contoured bolsters, textured inserts and separate headrests were state of the art for the era even if they did slide on XW Falcon runners.
Proper wind-up windows with fixed quarter vents were an important last minute addition after cockpit heat was found to be unbearable. 
Because the optional air-conditioning had to be mounted behind the seats, it did a better job of chilling the necks of passengers than dousing the pervasive heat that seeped from the mechanicals around the driver’s legs and the intense Aussie sun exposed through the steeply-raked screen.
Why wasn’t it exported?
After 1972 suggestions that it would go to Singapore and South Africa in various stages of completion (it didn’t happen beyond one-off examples), a LHD Nagari displayed early in 1973 raised hopes that it was ready to sell up a storm in the US. 
This sole LHD example was an early cancelled California order before it was presented as the 1973 Melbourne Motor Show car hence some early body details. It was then raced in Australia in LHD before it was converted by a later owner.
New ADR crash requirements including tough side impact standards were then flagged for the local industry for 1974. By September 1973, Lotus, with its much healthier global sales, had killed the Elan as soon as it faced the same challenges elsewhere. 
Locally, the Torana GTR-X, even if it never reached production, educated Australians on how a 1970s coupe should look. As described earlier, the Bolwell brothers had the good sense to prepare for a dignified withdrawal in 1974. 
The sole LHD example was a cancelled California order before it was presented as the 1973 Melbourne Motor Show car hence some early body details. It was raced in Australia in LHD before it was converted by a later owner.  
The adventurous Bolwell Ikara marked a return to a Clubman-type kit which exploited the growing number of VW Golfs sold in Australia during the late 1970s. It re-located the entire Golf transverse drivetrain and front suspension behind the driver for a mid-engine layout similar to the Lamborghini Miura and Fiat X1/9 amongst others. A Nagari post-script, it showed that Bolwell ingenuity hadn’t died. (Image from:
So did the Nagari transcend a kit car?
Because of close staff involvement in the Nagari’s gestation, Sports Car World magazine (from the Wheels stable) was more kindly disposed to the Nagari than any local publication. In March 1973, when it tested the final specification of the Nagari Sports and rated it against the XA Falcon GT Hardtop, Mel Nichols nailed what any keen driver would have discovered in a test drive:
“The Bolwell still feels rather raw, although you can see and feel how far it is coming with every one you drive. The suspension needs further sorting out to get the precision that is missing now, and to stop that instability over bumps. The braking balance and performance needs development, the steering needs gearing up considerably, footwell ventilation will have to be worked in and a better system of sealing the top around the windows is necessary. A bigger fuel tank would be nice too…” 
All was forgiven however, as Nichols claimed “these faults don’t overshadow its gut-twanging appeal.” Unlike Nichols, Nagari owners had to live with one as an everyday driver and even well-heeled Australians baulked at running a $9200 sports car in 1973 just for a weekend squirt. A Jaguar E-type Series III V12 was barely $11,000. 
After the XA Falcon GT Hardtop moved the local V8 muscle car benchmark ahead by a full generation in style, refinement and dynamics, this 1973 comparison with the latest Bolwell Nagari Sports was eagerly awaited as the battle between Australia’s two ultimate muscle cars. Although the Nagari put in a stellar performance, it emerged that development had not kept pace with its big price increases, a vital factor in its tiny 18 sales. It really did deserve better.
After almost three years of relentless Bolwell development, these faults could only be rectified by purpose-built parts. If Bolwell was able to switch to Holden V8 power in 1972, limited development funds and resources could not only have been redirected to fix these shortfalls, the faults would have been less pronounced with the lighter powertrain. 
That Nichols felt compelled to state after almost three years since release “you can see and feel how far it is coming with every one you drive” suggests the Nagari still had some way to go to match factory development levels of rivals. 
Because the starting-point was so drop-dead gorgeous and fun to drive, the Nagari is one story with no ending in sight. As Australians prospered and owner needs could be spread over several cars, the Nagari’s failings could be subtly addressed with new parts and technology causing prices and demand to soar.  
Although this video features an early coupe, there are glimpses of the later roadster and the new rear suspension design which mounts the coil springs in a totally new position separate to the rear shocks. Even more intriguing is the offer of a Nagari kit suitable for four, six and eight cylinder engines. Although the Nagari is increasingly being enshrined exclusively as a turn-key production car, it appears that the factory was not always reading from that page at the time!

Just in case there's someone out there that hasn't seen this article in Shannons Club......

Bolwell Nagari: The ultimate all-Australian ProdSports racer

03 January 2014
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Ranald MacLurkin was one of the first drivers to blood the stunning new Nagari coupe in ProdSports racing and his car became a familiar sight on Victorian tracks. Here the beautiful V8 beast is captured in full flight at Melbourne’s Calder Park in 1973. Note MacLurkin’s subtle wheel arch flares to cover the fat 10-inch wide tyres allowed under the ProdSports rules.
The conspicuously large number of Bolwell Nagaris that competed in production sports car racing (ProdSports) in the 1970s highlights the broad appeal and affordable race-winning performance of this proudly Australian-made, V8-powered super car.
Although less than 120 were built by Bolwell in Melbourne, the thundering fiberglass-bodied Nagari was a common sight in both coupe and roadster body styles on Australian race tracks, where it was competitive at club, state and national level motor sports. 
Many were prepared and driven by part-time weekend racers with limited funds and technical resources, who appreciated the Nagari’s mechanical simplicity and tried-and-tested Ford V8 drivetrains that ensured power-packed performance with good reliability and parts back-up.
The Nagari never won the nation’s premier sports car title - the Australian Sports Car Championship - but that was largely due to technical rules which for the majority of the ASCC’s near two-decade existence (1969-1988) catered primarily for Can-Am and Le Mans-style Group A cars designed and built purely for competition use.
These magnificent hand-built machines, like Frank Matich’s SR4 Repco, John Harvey’s Bob Jane Racing McLaren M6B Repco, Phil Moore’s Elfin 360 Repco and Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MS7 Repco-Holden, were the cars to beat from 1969 to 1975. 
As a result, production sports cars designed primarily for road use like the Nagari didn’t stand a chance of winning the title until 1976, when the Group A thoroughbreds were dumped in favour of Group D Production Sports Cars – two years after the Nagari had ceased production.
Ross Bond’s Nagari is hounded by Warwick Henderson’s Chevrolet Corvette and eventual series champ Ross Mathieson’s Porsche Carrera at Calder Park, on his way to victory in the opening round of the 1978 Australian Sports Car Championship.
While the incentive for such a change may well have been to encourage more road-legal makes and models, which in theory would be more affordable to buy, cheaper to run and which spectators could better relate to, the end result was nothing but an embarrassing Porsche benefit. 
During the ASCC’s six year production-based period, the German thoroughbreds galloped away with every title thanks to star drivers like Pete Geoghegan, Allan Moffat, Alan Hamilton and John Latham and a smorgasbord of the latest factory race cars like the Carrera RSR, 930 Turbo and 934 Turbo. 
Even so, it was during this production-based era that the Nagari came as close as it would ever come to winning Australia’s most sought after sports car title. 
A rule change for 1978 made Hamilton’s 934 Turbo ineligible and Nagari driver Ross Bond came within a handful of points of claiming the ASCC, after winning two of the four rounds and finishing equal second to championship winner Ross Mathiesen in his Porsche Carrera.
To bring an end to the German marque’s domination, the championship returned to purpose-built competition sports cars in 1982. Although Bernie van Elsen’s wild-winged, K & A engineered Nagari roadster continued to be seen in the result sheets, the 1970s Aussie-made super car - and sports car racing in general - were clearly past their peaks.
With dwindling fields and a general lack of spectator and media interest, the championship was cancelled after the 1988 ASCC. 
Even so, the Bolwell Nagari’s widespread popularity and success in Australian production sports car racing during the 1970s shows how good the basic product was in its prime. It had its shortcomings like any car, but clearly for many competitors those beautiful flowing lines combined with simple, affordable and brutal Ford V8 performance far outweighed any negatives.
A fantastic shot of Aussie ProdSports racing at Calder Park in 1972, with the new Nagari roadster mixing it up with Datsun and MG competition. Production sports car racing was a popular class of racing in the 1960s and ‘70s due to a wide choice of eligible cars that could be purchased, prepared and raced on a reasonable budget.
Bolwell Nagari: Born to race
When the Nagari went into production in 1970 as a ‘turn-key’ production car, on paper it seemed to have all the raw ingredients required for a low maintenance, high performance competition car which would respond well to performance upgrades. 
A robust backbone chassis fabricated from 14-gauge sheet metal provided torsional rigidity calculated at 678 Nm per degree of twist and left a hefty margin for extra performance and cornering forces. The front of the chassis embraced race engineering principles tying in the Ford Windsor 302 cid (4.9 litre) small block V8 with the front suspension cross-member. The transverse chassis member at the rear, which located the body mounts and rear suspension, allowed further development.
The compact Windsor V8 was set so far back in the chassis that its location relative to the front axle line was described at the time as “almost mid-engined”.   Because the Windsor V8 had been racing in everything from GT40s, Mustangs to AC Cobras, proven performance parts were widely available. The chassis of later cars were re-engineered to accept the larger and heavier Cleveland V8 with all its race bits.
A prominent NSW-based Bolwell racer was Peter Warren in his Nagari coupe, here leading one of the numerous Datsun roadsters that were a common sight in 1960s and ‘70s ProdSports racing.
Even if the production wishbone front suspension was dictated by a mix of Bolwell and Ford parts, it was a good starting point.   The heavy live rear axle, located by lower trailing arms, radius rods and coil springs, also left room for development. Steering was via rack and pinion and brakes were power-assisted front discs and rear drums.
On top of this rolling chassis was a wind-cheating lightweight fibreglass body, initially available only as a coupe before the stunning roadster became available in 1972. The coupe’s roof was about the same height as Ford’s iconic GT40 Le Mans racer.
With all that V8 grunt on tap in a car that weighed just over 900 kgs, the raw sub-15 second 400m performance in standard road-legal trim was shattering for its day. The mind boggled at its potential, attracting plenty of budding production sports car racers keen to unleash the new Nagari on the race track. 
Two-times ASCC winner John Latham is best remembered by Bolwell fans for his spirited driving of this Nagari coupe which reportedly was originally built by the factory with the unfulfilled intention of running a ‘works’ car. Latham was a prominent figure in Australian sports car racing, sharing his first ASSC title win with Alan Hamilton in 1977 before claiming his second title in 1981 – on both occasions driving Porsches.
Case study: Steve Webb’s Bolwell Nagari
One of the most successful Nagaris to compete in production sports car racing in the 1970s was owned by Sydney-based Steve Webb, whose son Jonathon now competes in V8 Supercar racing with the Tekno Autosports team he established in 2011.
Steve’s immaculate bright blue Nagari roadster was typical of the 1970s ProdSports breed. A regular visitor to meetings at his local Amaroo Park and Oran Park circuits, Webb enjoyed considerable success which included winning the ARDC/Better Brakes production sports car series at Amaroo.
Like many Nagari racers, Webb was a ‘weekend warrior’ who had to finance his racing through other activities during the week. He worked on his car after-hours and on weekends with the help of friends and also bought and sold Bolwells. The profits he made from rejuvenating tired and tatty Nagaris were pumped directly back into his motor sport activities.
The production sports car rules were similar in philosophy to those that applied to touring car racing at the time. Standard chassis and drivetrain elements had to be retained, but there were allowances for modifications in key areas to make road cars into better race cars.
Webb is well placed to comment on racing Nagaris in the 1970s, as he competed in both coupe and roadster versions and developed an intimate technical knowledge of the breed through hands-on involvement in development and routine maintenance.
Alex Tsakmakis was another competitive Nagari racer often seen at Victorian tracks in the 1970s. His muscular-looking coupe is seen here in action at Calder Park. Note the huge offsets on the lightweight alloy wheels and fat race rubber bulging beneath those big wheel arch flares. So tough!
"I’ve heard people refer to the Nagari as a larger V8 version of the Lotus Elan which in some ways I think is a fair comment,” he told Shannons Club. 
“I’ve restored a Lotus Elan and obviously spent a lot of years working on Bolwell Nagaris, so having played with both I think it’s fair to say that even though the Nagari had a live rear axle the inspiration for its design certainly came from Lotus.
“The Nagari had most of the ingredients you could want for racing, except for the wheelbase and track dimensions. The wheelbase was too short for the track width of the car; it was too square which didn’t give it enough directional stability and made the handling a bit twitchy.
“The standard front-end (suspension) geometry also left a lot to be desired, but we sorted those things out over time. We started with something that was pretty ordinary and just kept making it better.” 
As a teenage car enthusiast Webb was knocked out by the Nagari on its release as a production car in 1970 and like many enthusiasts wanted to drive one on the race track.
“I started with a coupe in about 1971. The NSW agent for Bolwell at the time was Fleetwing Garage at Lakemba and the proprietors were John Edwards and Neil Stevens. 
“They’d just traded-in a doctor’s car on a new Nagari, so I bought it. Apparently the good doctor had been using it as a call car (home visits etc). It was lime green with a Windsor V8. It had dodgy gel-coat and a few other things that needed attention, so it was nice and cheap for a young bloke like me who couldn’t afford anything better. 
Another fast and nicely-presented Nagari was John Gourlay’s coupe which finished fourth overall in the 1979 ASCC despite only competing in half the rounds. The 1979 championship was again dominated by Porsche Carreras which finished 1-2 with a Lotus Europa third overall.
“We set about putting those ugly factory guards on it (wheel arch flares), painted it black and raced it a few times in Sydney. At first I used IDA Webers but I had to cut a hole in the bonnet for clearance which the scrutineers didn’t like, so I changed it over to fuel injection.
“Later on I took it down to a race meeting at Hume Weir (near Albury) but I ended up going nose-first into a wall and demolished the front of the car. So when I brought it back home to be repaired, I figured it was also time to make some improvements.”
Neil Stevens, who played a pivotal role in the development of Webb’s Nagari, hand-fabricated a new front-end that rejuvenated the Nagari’s wayward front suspension by using proper competition parts hand-made by Rennmax racing car manufacturer, Bob Britton. 
These comprised elegant upper and lower wishbones, lightweight uprights, huge brakes and other items; all one-offs originally built for a Mustang sports sedan that was wrecked in a crash. Webb bought all the undamaged front-end components from that car which were adapted to the Nagari. The standard steering rack was also replaced with a Rennmax component.
“It gave us a nice, adjustable racing car front-end that we could work with because the biggest limitation with the Nagaris - be they road Nagaris or race Nagaris - was always the front suspension,” Webb revealed.
“Those early cars suffered from terrible bump steer, which is why you’ll find a lot of the later Nagaris were modified by Neil Stevens. They put late model Torana front ends in them which got rid of all the geometry problems that those early cars had.
“We also strengthened the car’s rear-end because they used to flex quite a bit around the T-intersection of the rear chassis.”
One of the fastest Nagari roadsters of the 1970s ProdSports era belonged to Sydney-based Steve Webb. This car was a regular sight at his local Oran Park and Amaroo Park tracks where it enjoyed great success. Note the smoother self-styled wheel arch flares and cut down racing windscreen, which was more a wind ‘deflector’ to stop Webb’s helmet being buffeted at high speeds. These low screens also reduced the car’s frontal area for better air penetration.
Although Webb’s car was originally a coupe, extensive body damage caused by the Hume Weir crash prompted him to update to the roadster body. This offered several advantages in terms of lighter weight, less frontal area (with the low profile windscreens of the era) and much improved open air driving comfort.
“Don’t underestimate the coolness issue,” Webb said. “When we ran it as a coupe it was incredibly hot inside, particularly as I was silly enough to paint it black which made it even worse.
“They had poor ventilation and your feet would get fried because they were right beside the engine and the exhaust pipes. The switch to the roadster body solved those problems. 
“I bought the last roadster body that they (Bolwell) had sitting on their factory floor. I drove down to Melbourne overnight in my little truck from work, picked the body up early in the morning and drove back to Sydney with it the next day. 
“I never liked the look of the factory wheel arch flares they made for racing. I thought I could make some much nicer ones that blended better with the shape of the car, so we set about moulding up some new flares which we then mounted on the new body on the newly rebuilt chassis.  
“We also simplified the wiring loom and attached the body to the chassis using only eight bolts so that when we had to work on the car we just had to undo those bolts and a few things then lift the body clear off the chassis and place it on some stands. It made working on the car so much easier.”
Pure nostalgia! A wonderful shot of Steve Webb (right of frame) and Nagari arch rival Ross Bond leaving the competition well behind as they thunder up Bitupave Hill moments after the start of another ProdSports race at Sydney’s Amaroo Park in the mid-1970s.
Like most racing Nagaris, Webb’s car was powered by the wonderfully light and compact 5.0 litre small block Windsor V8, as the larger and heavier Cleveland unit fitted to later model Nagaris (and trialled by some competitors in 351 cid/5.8 litre form) resulted in inferior handling.
Webb’s race engine, built by Neil Stevens, utilised the much stronger Boss 302 cylinder block developed for US Trans-Am racing with rugged four-bolt mains for high rev tolerance. Dry-sump lubrication and competition-grade crank, rods and pistons completed the small block Ford’s stout bottom end. 
A high performance solid camshaft was matched with fully worked 302 Windsor heads, topped with high quality valve gear and fed high octane racing fuel via a Hilborn constant flow mechanical fuel injection system. Hand-made exhaust extractors snaked their way rearwards through the tight confines of the engine bay to a booming open exhaust system.
Webb said he never had the funds nor the inclination to run any numbers on a dyno, although he suspects his healthy little Ford V8 was producing around 400 bhp. 
He also never put the car on a set of scales, so power-to-weight ratio clearly was not considered the most important measure. “It was either a good car to drive and won races or it didn’t, simple as that,” Steve said with typical pragmatism.
A competition clutch and Ford top loader four-speed gearbox proved to be rugged and reliable. Steve’s top loader was a special race version from the US, equipped with a more precise shifting mechanism.
Ross Bond’s clean and mean Nagari roadster charges through Dunlop Loop at Amaroo Park in 1976. Bond’s car set the bar pretty high in terms of its overall build quality and attention to detail.
Power went to ground through a stronger nine-inch live rear axle sourced from a compact Fairlane. This featured Ford’s bulletproof nine-inch crown wheel and pinion, thicker fine-spline axles and a Salisbury clutch-type limited slip diff that was adjusted to suit Steve’s driving style.
Although this type of LSD required constant adjustment, Webb said its consistent and predictable power delivery was a much better option than the brutal in-or-out engagement of the Detroit Locker given the Nagari’s handling traits.
“All I ever ran was the Salisbury clutch-type LSD because if you kept the (clutch) plates screwed up tight it worked fine,” he said. “How guys like Peter Warren drove them with a Locker I will never know, because the Nagaris were very twitchy with their short wheelbase and wide track dimensions.
“I recall in the early days I actually borrowed Peter’s Locker diff and put it in my car to test it out at Amaroo Park. I came through the left hander there (Honda Corner) and when I hit the throttle it locked when I didn’t want it to, suddenly turned hard left and drove me straight up the earth embankment that ran all the way down the back straight. 
“I almost drove the entire length of that embankment at 45 degrees before I could get the thing back on the road again. It was scary. I drove straight back to the pits and said ‘pull that bloody thing out!’”
Under the ProdSports rules, the Nagari had to retain its standard front disc/rear drum arrangement which wasn’t a problem for Webb as the Rennmax front-end upgrade featured huge ventilated disc rotors clamped by powerful Girling four-spot racing calipers. 
A lone Datsun 2000 is the meat in a Nagari sandwich during a ProdSports race at Oran Park in 1974, led by Steve Webb’s gorgeous roadster with Peter Warren bringing up the rear in his immaculate coupe.
These were more than adequate to meet his braking requirements without having to worry about the rear drums overheating or locking up. “We just adjusted the brake bias so that the rear drums virtually didn’t work. They were just there to hold the rear wheel in place and not much else.” 
Webb’s Nagari initially ran Mawer lightweight composite racing wheels in the maximum allowable 10-inch width before moving to wheels tailor-made for the car by Tony Simmons.
Suspension tuning was fairly straightforward, in keeping with the relatively basic and simple design of the car. Finding the right balance of coil springs, adjustable competition dampers and anti-roll bars resulted in a fine handling race car that was fast, predictable and satisfying to drive.
Ranald MacLurkin leads Alex Tsakmakis in a duel at Melbourne’s Calder Park in 1973. There’s no denying the Bolwell Nagari’s intoxicating blend of beauty and beast made it a popular choice for a large number of ProdSports racers.
“It was a very successful car, particularly at Amaroo Park which was just around the corner from where I lived at Parramatta,” Webb said. “It was my local circuit so I spent a lot of time driving around there and the car was very well suited to that track.
“The late (motoring journalist) Barry Lake tested the car and did a write-up on it for one of the motor sport magazines at the time. He said he couldn’t believe what a good handling motor car the Nagari was, but having said that it was very un-Nagari like in terms of things we had to re-engineer on the car to make it that way.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Corniche not a Shadow.

Nice little piece of work from Ricardo.
I've always said they make good sportscars.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Last year saw the 40th anniversary of the P76. In SA the diehards had a pilgrimage to Birdwood to visit the one resident there.
But there were rallies all over Australia.
All this prompted a certain lady in Ipswich to highlight her husband's drag racing exploits.
And, from out in the bush comes Leyland's version of Mad Max.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Targa car now a race car.

Remember this?
It's Trevor Eastwood from WA driving the Mk7 in the 1995 Targa Tasmania (with Geoff Eastwood pointing the way I think).
Geoff writes "I built the car for Trevor and still own it." He's modifying it for racing at the moment. Here's some photos from his blog "bolwellmk7"
Incidentally, this is not the Geoff Eastwood red Mark 7 that went to Barry Campbell in Queensland. That's another one.