Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Let me start with a brief tribute to this man.
John Edwards Davies who owned B8/26 for most of its life. Unfortunately, just like Tony, Jim, Wayne etc., he departed way before he should have, succumbing to a very vigorous cancer. John was a stalwart of the MGCCQ going way back even to the days when Barry Gibb was a member with his MGB. (How many people, Owen Bolwell, knew the BeeGees name came from three members of the Queensland MG Car Club with the initials B.G., Barry being one of them?) And talking of the BeeGees, which is off-subject and irrelevant really, but nevertheless, I've started now, Jason, our congenial Queensland Easter host, sings in a choir that last week took first prize in the 2018 Wynnum Manly Eisteddfod performing the BeeGees' song "How deep is your love."
John and Diane's, and John's in particular, activities included managing the club's very own hillclimb - Mt. Cotton. In fact, I have heard John referred to as "Mr. Mt. Cotton". Runs up the hill in the Bolwell gave him a taste for speed events and he became a regular, not only at Mt. Cotton, but also Mt. Coot-tha, the Leyburn Sprints and Speed-on-Tweed.

Not long before this cancer thing appeared out of nowhere, John was preparing to repaint the Nagari. Now, this car is fitted with the most effective way of extracting hot air from the engine bay and thus allowing it to run cool, even on hot days. I can vouch for that, having owned that car myself. This took the form of vents at the outer extremes of the bonnet rather than at the back of the central bulge where you find back pressure from the windscreen.
Anyway, before painting took place, John was going to take moulds of the two depressions in the bodywork so that we could replicate this venting system. That took a back seat when he became ill and while he and I were exchanging medical backed alternative treatments he lost the fight. Now the car has been painted I doubt that anyone would contemplate taking moulds over the new paintwork.

I bought B8/26 in March 1977 from Robert Moore who lived in Torquay, Victoria. Robert was the second owner. I can't tell you who took delivery of it from the factory as I don't have access to that list held by some members of BCCA-Vic. Robert was a go-kart racer and the Nagari was his transporter, the kart sitting nicely between turrets on a rack bolted to the boot lid. It was nothing as drastic as this of course.
To this day you can see the evidence of where the rack was bolted on the underside of the boot lid. It was the customary deep yellow back then.
That's the family car across the road.
I chose this picture of B8/26 and B8/37 taken on the rocks at Port MacDonnell during a Mt. Gambier Easter because there's a story there. B8/37 is Garry's car of course. I was having a drag with a 427 Corvette (as you do) in Hutt Street which is inside the Adelaide CBD square mile. We were neck and neck as we came out onto the parklands on Hutt Road when lo-and-behold there's a cop car coming the other way. They did a u-ey and on came the flashing lights. The Corvette went left up Glen Osmond Road and I went straight on up George Street and Duthy Street. I made it home without incident and ultimately went to bed. About 1.00 am there's a knock at the door and it's a couple of cops who wanted to talk to me about the car out the front which was seen racing earlier in the evening. Of course I didn't know anything about that and the car hadn't been out at all during the night. "Ah, come on" says one cop, "how many of these yellow Nagaris are there around?" "Well", I said, "there is another one up at Mylor" (Garry's). "Ah, yes, but we've got you there, we got the last three digits of your number plate, triple zero" says the other cop. My answer - "I'm not saying it was the Mylor car, but its rego number is RLT-000 and mine is SSG-000". In those days they didn't have computers on board so they went away to check up. Most Bolwells in SA had triple digit number plates but that's another story. Two hours later the cops are back to tell me that my story was verified but don't worry, they'll be keeping an eye on me, which they did and that's yet another story.

In 1981 I sold the car to Udo Selter who painted it Pepper Red.
 Here's a later photo of B8/26 and B8/37.
Udo didn't have it long, he used the car as a stepping stone to a GT40 kit. While in his care it was the subject of the 1982 club calendar. As it was accelerating up Montefiore Hill, Drew Lenman was photographing it from the dog box at the back of my HJ wagon.
The next owner was Camilla Ullrich in Sydney and Udo delivered it to her on New Year's Day in 1982. Camilla didn't have it long either. A change in her circumstances saw the car ending up in John Thompson Sports Cars on Parramatta Road where it would not have been missed by Mark Philip Cleaves who kept a very keen eye out for the many Bolwells that appeared in yards along that road.

Queensland's Leon Ellery bought it and took it home where he dismantled it to duplicate the chassis and take moulds from the body. The master plan was to take it all to California and sell cars, calling them Centaurs. The Centaur was a much revered Queensland sports car constructed by Tim Harlock, so banana benders weren't too impressed even though there were a few manufacturers around the world that used the name Centaur after the Greek God. The outrage would have been similar to South Australians if somebody went offshore and built Elfins. Leon must have been worried about copyright issues because he widened the body by 4 or 6" and fitted an RX7 windscreen.
So, off he goes to the US with his project, settling in Garden Grove, just south of LA., but not before putting B8/26 back together and selling it to John. I don't think he got around to producing any Nagari pirate jobs but he did do a collection of clubbies most of which were sold in Japan.
Anyway, Leon died over there and his family brought his stuff back to Australia which included the wide Nagari and a clubman. The Nagari was sold to Gary Williamson who set about reverting it back to the correct width. Personally I think that's a pity as the car was certainly unique.

B8/26 was ready for sale when we were up in Beaudesert earlier this year, family friend Ray Evans having done a fine job on it.
However, the MG Car Clubs have their national get-togethers at Easter time too and Diane was off to Tasmania with another lady in the MGCCQ in this MG imitation of an MR2 Spyder.
Anyway, B8/26 has been sold and returns home to South Australia albeit the other side of the state as Trevor is domiciled in Whyalla. We do expect to see Trevor and the car over this way and I believe he is looking to make the trip to Phillip Island next year. Oops, cancel that, Lake Gairdner Speed Trials are around the same time so he'll be there for sure, not necessarily with the Bolwell.

Here endeth the epistle according to St. John.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

For sale in American River.

Sounds like a move to the mainland to me.


These are a pair of VDO gauges.
They fit snugly into the holes that the old Stewart Warner gauges came out of. I think they look pretty smart and you can buy them in a set of 5 gauges for roughly about the same price as a set of Stewart Warners that doesn't include the tacho. So then you have to go looking for a tacho for upwards of $200. I think I've found a good alternative.

An obituary in today's Advertiser.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Good ol' Ron.

A sports coupe with a Holden engine? Ron McPherson crafted his dream combination twice.

Story: Tony Lupton. Photos: Shannon Morris.
August 2018.

In the late 1960s, young Ron McPherson’s dream was a sports car with a Holden engine. The time was right – Bolwell Cars were producing just such a vehicle, called the Bolwell Mark 7, that could be assembled by their enthusiast owners.

“The idea of an English four-cylinder sports car didn’t appeal to me, but a coupe with a Holden engine did.”

Ron was a fitter and turner and liked the idea of building his own car. He also liked the Bolwell. “It looked stunning, low and wide,” he says. “With fibreglass, any body shape was possible. I got to thinking that I could own one of these.

“The idea of an English four-cylinder sports car didn’t appeal to me, but a coupe with a Holden engine did. It was weatherproof and you could lock it up, just like an everyday road-going car, so I paid £350 ($700) for the body and chassis kit.”
One of the features that made the Mark 7 unique was the windscreen. Campbell Bolwell, the car’s designer, decided to make his own, with a sweeping curve and big sloping rake. It affected the design of the whole car. 
“It was unusual for a small-scale manufacturer to design their own windscreens,” Ron continues. Contemporary car manufacturers, such as Buckle and Buchanan, used windscreens from production sedans.

 'We drove it with our three kids to the circuits. It was a case of racing on Sunday, shopping on Monday.'

Putting a six-cylinder engine in a lightweight sports car meant the performance was brisk. Ron used an old “grey” Holden motor for a start, then upgraded to a new 179-cubic-inch Holden “red” motor, which at just under three litres’ capacity meant he could compete in that class in production sports car racing. He competed at Lakeland Hillclimb, then in circuit races at Sandown, Calder, Phillip Island, Hume Weir and Winton.
By 1975, the Mark 7 was showing its age compared to new Porsches and the later-model Bolwell Nagari. So Ron decided to part with his racer and buy a Datsun 1600. 
“My wife Carol and I raced the Datsun in sprints,” he says. “We drove it with our three kids to the circuits. It was a case of racing on Sunday, shopping on Monday.”
The Datsun is still owned by daughter Karen, who raced it herself before moving to Formula Vee, becoming the first woman to win a Formula Vee race in Victoria along the way.

'Once I’d sold mine I realised I couldn’t just go and buy another one.'

Four years after selling his Mark 7, the absence of a Bolwell in the garage was getting the better of Ron. “Once I’d sold mine I realised I couldn’t just go and buy another one. Mark 7s were rare, but my passion for them never disappeared.”

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The one he found wasn’t pristine. “It had been in a prang, been stripped for parts, was missing a mudguard and bonnet and had chooks living in it.”
He bought it for $200 and rebuilt everything himself, including the mudguards, bonnet and boot lid. It took until 1982 for him to get the car on the road, powered by a 186 Holden engine. 
“I will definitely keep this one,” he says. “I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.”

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Bolwell mark 4 in Carsales?

Well, even though it said BOLWELL, it turned out to be a GINETTA G4.
Never mind, it seems like a nice little car anyway and at $12,500 it's certainly not overpriced.

Friday, July 13, 2018

It's official!

The official route for the 2018 Bay to Birdwood Run!

On Sunday 30 September, hundreds of historic motoring enthusiasts will travel from West Beach, along Anzac Highway, through the centre of Adelaide then up to the Adelaide Hills on North East Road, finishing at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

More information.

Justin's Nagari's history is coming together bit by bit. Today he received this letter from a former owner who Justin thought was the first owner and turned out to be the 4th.

Dear Justin,                                                                                                                                                                          
    Must apologize on reply to your April E Mail but was in process of new computer. So nice to see how my Nagari has brought so much joy to so many people.
    No doubt, as with me there were many times of utter frustration and despair trying to make progress.
We can talk for hours on this subject but shortly there were 3 people involved in legal tangle. A Mr. Mac Gill and a Mr. Weston made an agreement with BOLWELL CARS PTY LTD to produce the car locally. 
    They brought a complete car in plus a a body and chassis with doors. bonnet and boot lid. things did not go well between the partners and they broke up. Mac Gill sold the Nagari to a Mr. Loubser but Mr . Weston repossessed the car from him as he was the rightful owner. 
In lieu for all his trouble Mr. Weston signed over to Mr. Loubser the Nagari body and relinquished all claims and rights thereof, this happened in 1972. 
    I met Loubser in early 1973 and he offered the body and parts to me and I contacted Campbell Bolwell and cleared with him [still have copy of letter] they were in no mood to do any business with me as they were very upset with Mac Gill and Weston. 

This was the start of a great journey of tears and frustration after I bought the body etc. from Loubser 
Will follow up with my woes from 1973 to 1979 when I decided just to build up the “car” I had and have at least something for all the effort.
Regards, Harry Roscoe.

Looks like Justin's car was built up from a body/chassis and quite possibly had no I/D. We now know why the proposed South African production facility did not eventuate.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

An ROH ad from 1974

Bruce Tonkin kicking up a bit of dirt for ROH. The association between SA members and the South Australian manufacturer ROH goes back at least that far. And what has happened to Yellow Dolly? It's been in storage for about 30 years now, still owned by Iris I believe.

Remember the Efijy?

Well, this is the Zefijy.
Created by craftsman, Graham Slater in the UK. It looks like it gets out and about a bit more than Efijy.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Another Nagari to the Qld group.

The John Barnett yellow sports, that he has had for many years, has moved North, into the hands of Gordon Ross to share accommodation with the yellow GT40. It goes to show that you can't go without a Nagari for too long once having had one.
As you can see, Gordon has wasted no time whipping that 4.4 litre Leyland V8 out to get stuck into the refurbishing.

This car was built by Richard Windham from scratch using the moulds held at the time by Fibrecar (family connections) before Fibrecar began churning cars out. I guess you could call it the Fibrecar prototype. Bolwell's records were a bit incomplete and there was no name recorded against B8/86 and Richard chose that number to stamp on the car only to find that Bernie Van Elsen's Nagari had that number all along. Here's a photo of it in its early days.

Not a bad project.

In NZ.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Justin Murphy getting closer.

As you can see it's road registered now. The car still needs the wiring finished plus fuel and brake lines. It should fire up then. Unfortunately Justin has had to cancel the entry to the Silverstone Classic at the end of July. A shame as that would have been a perfect debut.