Sunday, February 28, 2021

Ric Kemp still at Koni? He was in 2013 when UNIQUE CARS came out with this great article.




Eric Bana’s 1973 XB Falcon Hardtop is one of Australia’s most talked about cars. It’s common knowledge in car circles that he has owned it most of his life and it was the subject of his self-produced and directed documentary, Love The Beast. It’s also well known that the car was all but destroyed in a crash at the unforgiving and spectacular Targa Tasmania in 2007.

"A month after the crash, people were asking me if I had it back on the road. They clearly had no idea how hard it is to restore a crashed Australian classic. There seemed to be a sense of, ‘well mate, you’ll probably just throw a bunch of cash at it’. I was really surprised, and a bit pissed off, that they thought it would be that easy."

The crash clearly affected Bana and his attitude towards the car. It was as though a life-long dream had been cut short.

"I really didn’t have any emotional energy for the idea of rebuilding the car for a very long time. Imagine you build your dream home and Hurricane Hugo comes through and levels it, then someone turns up a week later and asks, ‘have you finished rebuilding it yet?’. You are still picking your photo frames out of the rubble.

"I was a bit confused, because on the one hand I felt like I didn’t deserve to fix the car. I’d restored it twice with my bare hands, a third without my physical involvement. Then, I’d wrapped it around a tree. I thought, ‘well, that’s it’.

"I came to a point where I started to miss the car. I got to the stage where it felt like the car wasn’t just mine, that it belongs to a lot of other people because of the movie [Love The Beast].
"The real turning point was when I visited Dick Johnson. He introduced me to Robbo [Robert Haken] from Logan Valley Smash Repairs and he said "stop f***ing around and send the car to Robbo". (Haken carries out panel repairs on Dick Johnson Racing’s V8 Supercars). So, that’s what I did. It felt right."
Once he had pressed ‘go’ on the restoration, Bana took a hands-on approach and it quickly became clear to him that body panels for XA, XB and XC two-doors are almost extinct.

"It would be easier to spin your own plutonium than obtain parts for an [XA-XC] coupe. I spent at least a year tracking down bits and pieces. I used contacts, car clubs, eBay. It was a shitfight, to tell you the truth."

While XB coupes in going nick exist, Bana refused to take a running coupe off the road. His love for the model runs deep and he wants to see as many on the roads or being restored as possible.

"I was absolutely determined that no other coupe was going off the road for my car. No way, José. That just would not sit right with me. That would mean one less coupe on the road and I really felt that was not my right," he says.

The car was sent to Haken and the real work of extensive straightening, welding, panel and final paint work was carried out. The build became an intensely personal experience for Bana.

"There was always going to be an engine rebuild and a lot of suspension work, the re-assembly was going to be big and I was determined to be on the tools for all that. That was non-negotiable.
"The car returned from Robbo, it was great to look at, but it was just a roller. Mark Johnstone – who is a very competent race car mechanic – and I went to work."

Bana had decided on creating a ‘Targa car that was going to be driven on the road’. This meant the Windsor-spec 408ci V8 required a complete rethink.

Displacement was held at 408ci and a Dart block was utilised, and locally fabricated and developed 3V CHI heads were chosen. These went to head guru Nathan Higgins for porting. The resultant compression ratio was a friendly 10.8:1.

The engine build was undertaken by ex-Ford Performance Racing mechanic Brad Nankervis. "I knew pretty quickly Brad was the right person for the job. Totally professional," Bana says. "He listened to the brief."

"I researched everything that Brad suggested. From rocker ratio to whether to go with a T&D shaft mount rocker arms or a solid roller cam – the decisions were made together."
With final performance figures of 447kW at 7200rpm, it’s clear that the decisions made were pretty spot-on.

Carburation is supplied by a 750cfm Holley with metering blocks and the cam is a solid roller Crane. JE pistons are hooked to a steel crank via Scat rods and spark arrives via MSD electronic ignition. The dry sump is one of Dick Johnson Racing’s V8 Supercar jobs.

The exhaust is a work of art and the headers were painstakingly laborious, occupying a couple of weeks’ full-time work. Finishing work was carried out to a very high standard by specialist Jody Ely, then Bana and Targa navigator and life-long mate Tony Ramunno set about creating the rest of the exhaust.

"We hand-made our own gearbox crossmember, complete with holes big enough for the exhaust to run through," says Bana. This kept the exhaust as snug to the floorpan as possible, adding ground clearance, and giving the car a very uncluttered look.

Melton (Vic) based Di Filippo Performance Exhausts made the mufflers and supplied the catalytic converters. "I’m very happy with how the car sounds," says Bana. Suspension was next.

"The suspension was really pretty basic – leaf sprung and pretty under-developed for Targa. That was my own fault," says Bana."Robbo rang me and said, ‘If you think I am going to bolt leaf springs into this car, you are kidding yourself.’ He said ‘this is your chance to do it properly.’"

Bana quickly agreed. (V8 Supercar builder and ex-Stone Brothers employee) Tony Porter Solutions was commissioned for the XB’s structural suspension upgrade, creating bespoke coil-over units comprised of a tri-link, four-bar set-up with interchangeable anti-roll bars at the rear and fully-fabricated upper and lower arms at the front along with Eibach springs all

Fully-adjustable Koni shocks were re-valved and specced specifically for the car by Koni’s own suspension engineer, Rick Kemp.

The nine-inch diff’s centre ratio was changed from 3.55 to 4.11, "to make it nice to drive with the five-speed," says Bana. Floating axles and Romac floating hubs complete the picture at the rear.
The Simmons wheels walk the fine line between period look and modern grip. Sizes are 18x10-inches at the front, and 18x11 at the stern. The fat rubber is Falken RT615K – 245/40R18s up front and 315/30R18s filling the rear guards.

Brakes are AP six-piston calipers at the front and four-piston jobs on the rear, both utilising 12-inch rotors.

The TKO Tremec five-speed gearbox survived the Targa crash and remains in the car, as does the full caged race interior with Auto Meter instruments. Reflecting the lovely, high-end quality of the interior are the door panels, constructed entirely of carbonfibre. It’s a wonderfully detailed, thought-out restoration.

The build proper took a full two years and the result is a picture of quality engineering, reflecting the Bana approach of ‘doing it right’.

Of course, the question that needs to be put to rest is, will there now be a sequel to Love The Beast?

"No, the story there is complete", Bana adds with emphasis. "The fact is I now get as much satisfaction out of looking at and driving the car as I did competing in it."

Yep, The Beast lives. But both it and its famous owner’s wild days in Tasmania are over. Let the new phase begin.


In 2007, Bana entered the XB in the Outright Classic Division of Targa Tasmania, his second time in the big coupe. The event offered a dramatic backdrop to his documentary, Love The Beast. Bana and his navigator, Tony Ramunno, were into the fourth day, competing in the 37.7km Cethana stage, south-west of Sheffield in Tasmania’s North West, when the Beast understeered solidly into trees on a right-hand bend.

"I misjudged a tight right-hander and we went in too fast – the car understeered off the road and onto the gravel and we went into a couple of trees at a fairly low speed," Bana recalls with a wince.

Both driver and co-driver came out of the wreck shaken but uninjured.

"It was always going to be my last rally – I’d decided that before we went to Tassie. I’d just seen too much carnage. I decided to concentrate on the circuit stuff. I was just no longer prepared to put the navigator or car in harm’s way.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win it at Targa. That’s stupid and naïve, but I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t get sucked into the adrenaline of the event, which, inevitably, I did," Bana admits.


Think about car movies that stick in your memory. While most are long in the tooth now and fictional like Le MansBullitt, and Vanishing Point, good car documentaries are thin on the ground. And local ones? Yep, it’s hard to think of many.

So, Eric Bana’s first foray into the ‘real life’ car movie genre, Love The Beast, was well-timed. It opened in March 2009 and deals with an iconic Aussie car built, loved and driven by an Aussie bloke. So what was the catalyst for Bana, who can make more money in Hollywood than he ever could producing a local doco?

"I’d always been bitterly disappointed in any film or documentary that’s been angled towards [enthusiasts] – [they] never felt like they fulfilled the emotional side," Bana begins. "[It was] what I was trying to get with Love The Beast. Peter Hill (one of the producers) and I wanted to satisfy that void, speak to the heart of that market, people that love their cars and see the importance of the social side of it." – GL


This XB hardtop, Eric Bana’s first car, has been a defining element in his life since he dragged it home 28 years ago when he was just 15.

Much has changed in Bana’s life since then but the XB remains. It’s clear that it is more than the sum of its parts, offering stability and a tangible link to happy memories. He still loves the thing as much as he did as a Ford-crazy teen.

"It originally had a six and was pretty tired. It was only nine years old when I bought it, but it looked more like 40! Looking back, I would’ve been better off saving and spending $3000 on a coupe because I would have ended up with a beautifully straight GS." – GL


1973 Ford XB Falcon

Engine: 6685cc V8, OHV, 16v, 750cfm Holley carburettor
Power: 447kW @ 7200rpm
Torque: 550Nm @ 5400rpm
Weight: 1650kg
Gearbox: 5-speed TKO Tremec
Suspension: independent, Eibach coils, Koni shocks, fabricated upper/lower arms (f); independent, Eibach coils, Koni shocks, tri-link four-bar set-up, interchangeable anti-roll bars (r)
Brakes: AP 6-piston calipers (f), 4-piston (r); 12-inch rotors


What's happening with the new Giocattolo?


Saturday, February 27, 2021

For Phil Lowe.

 Anthony Ramage has come up with another photo of Bruno Carosi's Mk.5.

Here's a few others.

Monday, February 22, 2021

It's everywhere.

 Unless there's lots of them on the prowl already.

Spotted this time by Ed at Cars on the Coast.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

For what it's worth.


If you are like me with ankles that are seizing up to some extent then you do tend to compensate or compromise. For my needs I don't feel I'm missing out by finding "heel and toe" difficult.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

What to do with your old Capri.


There used to be a yellow Capri kicking around Melbourne with a complete Bolwell Mk.5 front on it. I wonder where that is now.

Poor bugger.


Just because I like the photo.


This little beauty.........

........bobbed up at the All Brithish Day at The Bend. Wait a minute, how did that rough looking Morrie Minor get in, Ross Allen? I guess it's British after all.



 Amazing isn't it. The bubble must burst one day. Surely you can't keep getting a million dollars for an XYGT (can you?) I sold mine for $4500 in the 80s and thought I was doing well. There's ebb and flow. Not that long ago good Nagaris were occasionally bringing $80,000. Now $60,000 is more around the mark. Although with demand outstripping supply, that could change.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Good to catch up.

 You couldn't go to Goolwa without catching up with Fatty Finnis.

Michael left his mark on the old ProdSports days as a forceful driver of the ex-Donnelly E-type and the ex-Latham Porsche. One of my favourite memories of his racing was in his group N Mustang when he came up to lap a couple of Cooper Ss and drove straight between them without touching them but taking out both their mirrors. Ruth Franck was driving one of the Minis, not sure who was in the other one. Anyway, CAMS took a very dim view of that effort, don't know why.

SWB Citroen.


The new fibreglass roof would have been easy to create.

While on the subject of Citroens here's a 2CV powered Morgan copy called the "3CV".

Sunday, February 14, 2021

How's this for an Ikara motor?


3 cylinders, 400 BHP and weighs 88 lbs (that's only 40 kgs).

Thursday, February 11, 2021

"Wheels" One that got away.


Mini Jem - Advertised November 1992


Making your Mini look different from everybody else’s Mini wasn’t hard during the 1960s. Radfords made luxury Minis, Broadspeed made fast ones, Marcos and Mini Jem made theirs in the shape of a Cornish pastie. This car, located in South Australia, is very likely one of the TaylorSpeed versions built under licence in Adelaide and with detail differences from the British cars. Ten were reportedly built here, with recent photographs of red and orange cars indicating that at least a couple have survived. Anyone know the fate of this white car or seen one recently?

Was: $3000. Now: $15,000-20,000

Not sure where they got their 2021 prices from.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Friday, February 5, 2021

A nice little article on the Williams Special by James Killingsworth, the current owner.

 Ian Williams started building the Williams special in April / May 1964, utilizing a Grey Holden engine purchased in bits for £10 and a Riley 1.5 litre gearbox. The car was completed in August / September 1965 in time for the Geelong Speed Trials, now known as the

Geelong Revival Motoring Festival


The space frame of RHS tubing and aluminium was constructed by Ian and a friend in Mordialloc, to their own design. Triumph Herald front suspension and rack and pinion steering was included in the design, and a Morris Minor rear axle mounted on an "A" frame and radius rods.
The front and rear panels in fibreglass are from a Bolwell MK4, purchased new by Ian for the project, the front panel modified to accommodate the much larger Holden engine. Improvements to the car shortly thereafter included replacing the Triumph Herald drum brakes with discs from a MK3 Zephyr adapted to the Herald Uprights, and replacing the rear axle assembly with one from an FE Holden.
The car was initially road registered in 1965 as the Williams roadster, chassis number 1, registration number JHW•082. At the time in Victoria cars were road registered by simply turning up at the local police station and filling out the appropriate forms.
The following is Ian's recollection of the event:
Presented early one morning 1965 at East Geelong police station. Parked in specified car park flanked by low hedge. Police officer asks where car is for inspection, from the desk nothing in sight! Assured it actually was there, the officer has a look and instantly decides his superior officer should do the inspection! Superior is a large man, who, I think for something to say insists on sitting in the car. For a 16, 17 stone man this was somewhat difficult! First the fibreglass seat could not accommodate fully his rear end, which instantly sat him up several inches, causing his elbows to interfere with the doors. Secondly, his police issue boots (!) covered all three pedals at once. He indicated that this was not safe and would have to be modified. My reply was that if you can't fit in the thing, you wouldn't drive it! He said that if the car was ever sold, the recipient would be unsafe. My reply again was the above. In a fit of temper, I drove home, grabbed a pair of tin snips and cut out half the aluminium drivers door then used a crowbar to bend the accelerator and clutch pedal away from the brake! Within an hour I was back at the branch, who then calmly did not re-inspect but proceeded with the registration paperwork! ( the doors are now fibreglass and the pedals re-jigged). As an aside, I spent hours, days, weeks setting up a micro windscreen wiper to actually work since I was under the impression i needed a wiper even though I looked over the perspex screen. I later was told later that if I had nominated the screen as a wind "deflector", I wouldn't have needed the wiper.
On with the registration paperwork, the first question, was what type of car was it? Having not thought about this, I said the engine was Holden so it probably was a Holden. The officer hesitated, then said " I don't think General Motors would be happy about that". After mulling over the Bolwell shells and home made chassis, he asked "what's your name, son?" The car was duly recorded as a Williams roadster! I was able to give an engine number, but the next question was for a chassis number. After admitting it didn't have one, I was told to go out and scratch number 1 on it somewhere. It was with great pride I was able to drive back home (via all the main streets of Geelong- which created quite a revelation in those days) with registration number JHW•082.
The car was initially raced by Ian at the Geelong Speed trials in 1965, entered in Class 4 and wearing number 28, the car covered the distance in 18.89 seconds. The car was entered under the Ecurie Corio banner, at Ron Redpaths suggestion after carrying out some exhaust system work on the car. The car was also raced at Calder Park in 1966.
The Williams Special then went into storage for many years until Ian decided to take up Historic racing after attending an historic meeting at Sandown in the early eighties.
A Group M Log book was issued by C.A.M.S. for the Williams Special on the 20-05-1981. The car’s preferred racing number has always been “33” as Ian played Football for Geelong in the early 1960's wearing the number 33 guernsey.
In September 2003 Ian passed the car on to his son, Troy Williams, who continued to race the car until April 2005 when the car was acquired by Larry Varley.
Larry commenced a complete strip down and rebuild of the car, later debuting it at the Phillip Island Historics.
I took custodianship of the car in 2016 and set about putting it back on the road having obtained the original JHW•082 registration plates from VicRoads.
To this day the car remains in Geelong, registered for the road, with ambition of more racing fun once things begin to get back to normal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Not entirely ridiculous.


There's actually a bloke in Melbourne who sleeps with his Nagari doors and "that's no bull" as they say at Pedders. I'm pretty certain that there's no lady in her underwear ready to climb in with him though.