Sunday, April 29, 2018

Kym Ninnes : Can't take a trick.

Poor old Fidini. Left the track at Collingrove due to operator error and managed to find a half a dozen strategically placed rocks, one of which took off the right rear wheel. The wheel flew off down the hill clearing one fence then through another and looked like cleaning up a car or the secretaries office when a brave bystander kicked it into submission. I heard the only damage was to a rear number plate.
Special thanks to the Ambos, the Firies, the recovery personnel, Dave Shaw for loaning his trailer for the recovery and my fellow Clubbies who unloaded and then reloaded the poor old car onto my trailer for the sad journey home. I had only been back racing for two days since being cleared by my hip replacement surgeon and the hip passed the test with flying colours.
What a fabulous group of people. Thanks to everyone involved.
Michael Bishop, can you put this on the Hillclimb page please.

Actually I think it was very lucky it was only the wheel that rolled down the hill. It could have been the whole car with Kym in it. Remember Keith Rilstone in the Nagari?


The 2 guys are Gary Elliott and the late Peter Norris on the left. That's Leah holding little Christo Low and Shirl Clements "mothering" young Timmy Cullen. This was more than 40 years ago. Now, that little Cullen boy has just constructed my new Ikara chassis.

My love for the Honda 9 Coupe has not waned.

And here's one on Gumtree.


The very last true Honda designed by Mr Honda before his death.


is a fine example of a 47 year old low mileage car not a restored one. It has been driven regularly on club rego and has taken part very successfully in a few track days.

I drove it this week on a 350klm run that was not only great fun but fault free. The car now has 76,900 miles on the clock.

The engine is an alloy, air cooled overhead cam configuration with a dry sump and 4 carburettors.

This gem produces 116bhp from 1300cc.

Free revving to its 9000rpm maximum, a leader in performance in the 70"s.

Chassis is all independent suspension with disc fronts and finned drum rear brakes.

As shown by the pics this car has been lightly modified with adjustable coil over uprated front shocks with custom top mountings.

Rear suspension has been modified with uprated shocks,negative camber adding up to race kart type handling.

Brakes have been upgraded to competition specification.

Car will be sold with all parts to return it to its original specification.

Costing the same as a Fairlane in 1971 Australia only imported around one hundred of these Hondas and they are fast becoming very sort after by collectors world wide.

I can assist in world wide shipping and also offer a video walk round if required.

Gosh! Here's another one and one fifth of the price.

This is a rare Honda 1300 coupe 9S. Genuine 9S with the four carb motor, correct "6xx" engine number and 9 series door trims. Body is generally rust free other than some light surface rust from sitting around. Very few still exist with solid bodies. All the parts are there including good glass etc. There are no more cheap 9S coupes - anything decent in Japan is A$20K+ now unlike 10 years ago. This is running and driving but requires a restoration. Great classic car and hard to find. only one on gumtree same colour and not the 9S for $25k. Located Kilmore East.

Friday, April 27, 2018

No, it's not a Frisky.

It's a Zeta coupe.
Note the South Australian rego plates.
And it's got doors, and suicide ones at that.
A bit of power there.

Maserati 121

As pretty as the Ferrari bread van.
And handing out styling cues to the Mark 4 coupe.

But come around to the front, it doesn't look too bad.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A nice little piece of WA history on Gumtree.












Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pete with a beard.

Elgaram memories.

I see that this blog was some time ago but I just came across it. I am Rex's (much younger) brother in law and I have fond memories riding in the elgaram.....mostly at insane speeds at least that how it felt for a 9 or 10 year old. I remember the lagged exhaust running along the inside passenger floor.......and being fed apple cider at the end of a day at the hill climbs & bloody Minogue and Rex thinking it funny when they stuffed me in the snout with my feet up gain st the radiator and head protruding while Rex drove around the car park. Good memories around a car that I everlasting memories of. I'm so glad that it has apparently survived.

MArk Pendlebury.
Bob and Rex must have been funny buggers.

My own early recollections came in about here......
.......about the time Iain passed it on to Patrick. The bonnet has been mislaid and Iain somehow tracked it down to previous owner, Fred Woolski's cousin but it was a bit short one end.

Easily the best looking Buchanan.

This is Paul's Buchanan Cobra. There were only 7 Buchanan Cobras made and you can count on one finger the ones that survived. This one certainly has. Praise the Lord as they say.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

What a great idea.

Mini hatchbacks.

They don't ALL last forever.

Even the Clemente can't boast a register of all 18 vehicles produced. This yellow one is no more following an accident.
The most travelled Clemente of all time as Kym N. circumnavigated the entire continent and wrote a book about it called Kym Round Oz.

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.

Rob Wragg writes :-

Hi john
Just in the process of rebuilding the rack in b847 have managed to get a Austin Kimberly rack of ebay don’t know what condition it will be in the current one is held together with steel brackets as the diecast ends are loose on the metal middle pipe section. I think the kimbnerly ones are 4 turns not 3.3 would I need one of these pinions you are talking about. I am not sure what b8 47 is. Reguards rob wragg snr. Ps might just swap the parts over into a shortened Kimberly rack if they are the same. 

Fred responds :-

Right now I am not 100% familiar with Leyland products that’s not to say that you might well be.  So first things first.  The original racks are Austin 1800.  I don’t know the difference to the Kimberly which the body I think was larger, whether the underpinnings are the same as the Austin 1800 or not I don’t know. ( I grabbed an Austin 1100 rack once and got it home to find the outside was different to the Austin 1800, I never checked the internals and that’s on the to do list one day).  I know that some parts are interchangeable between leyland cars but I have never got any conclusive proof of what is interchangeable ( I suspect the Austin 1800 locking rings are the same on some MGB models, have to find an MGB expert to show my locking ring and part numbers to).

Lock to lock is a function of the rack pitch, the length of the threaded position of the rack the rack stops  the pinion the steering arm and any suspension stops. I don’t know what the original Australian Austin 1800 was but think it was quite high ( some very early English  Austin 1800 racks had even higher ratios but they cured this at an early stage and I don’t think any of those racks were fitted to Australian cars).
I recently installed a new rack housing on a Nagari where the housing had come apart.  You need to retain the original rack ( toothed shaft) as it would have been shortened in addition to the housing) unless you plan on machining down the rack internal shaft as well as the housing.  I can send you photos and advice ( a photo of yours would help. Otherwise I am assuming you have the outer sleeve welded onto the original ( as per the repair pictures attached) – I have only ever seen one Bolwell without the outer sleeve ). If you have done set  steer before ensure you can put the rack back in the exact position ( or you will need to redo the bump steer - even a mm change can have a significant effect- I have a trick for this).

If your rack housing ends have worked loose it would have done so for a reason .. please check the rack supports for cracking or flex.  The original “bent” rods aren’t strong enough  This was the problem on the Nagari rack I fixed.  Also check the supports for square and parallel so that bolt up doesn’t stress the housing ends against the housing tube.  Consider triangulating the bracing ( or cross bracing) what engine / sump style do you have?

Doing the front bump steer best thing for under $100 you can do to your car if it hasn’t been setup for minimum bump steer ( assuming you can do toe in and have access to simple measuring equipment ( if you can stretch to borrowing or buying a digital level you can do the castor too ( Best $60 I have spent I use it on everyone’s cars).  I can give you some advice if I know what you can tackle or what tools you have or need.  Happy to chat about what you have done on the car/ plans for the future.  Unless you are confident and experienced I would advise caution when doing work on the rack ends.  Housing repair / replacement will require the rack end/s to be removed, involving resetting the locking rings.  Failure to get the correct engagement will run the risk of the rack ends loosening and coming off resulting in instant loss of steering.  Note replacement of the pinion does not require the tie rods to be disconnected from the rack

I will add you name to the interested list.  At this stage you are the first but I had 2 requests a while ago ( maybe one was yours).  Due to the high set up cost we ae still a long way off getting a viable number produced but I am encouraged as we now have a start.

Cheers Fred

PS I haven’t swamped you with info as I may be preaching to the converted but happy to provide more detail just need to know what will be of help.

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.