Call it a mid-life crisis, call it trying to recapture a spent youth, probably both. But for years I’d heard my Dad speak volumes about a funny little Fiat he used to own called an 850 Sport Coupe. With a rear mounted 903cc four producing just 52hp when fresh, I never really ‘got’ these cars, but Dad loved both of his.
He bought one brand new in the 60’s and thrashed it all over the place, eventually rolling it on a dirt road, and replaced it a few years later with a near new slightly used example. He told stories of winning a drag race against a 350 Monaro (on wet grass!), of taking it camping in the outback, and of bombing it through the dirt roads of the Red Centre around Alice Springs. It sounded like a fun car.
One day a few years back I was zinging through the Adelaide Hills on my way to Macclesfield when I saw a pretty little red car for sale on the side of the road. Those four big headlights were unmistakable; it was an 850 Coupe! I immediately hit the brakes and stopped for a closer look, and it turned out to be nice, clean 850. Not a show car by any standards, but a good solid driver. I snapped a couple of pictures on my phone and emailed them back home to Dad along with the owner’s phone number and didn’t think much more of it.
It was Mum’s stern face that told the story when I got home a few days later. It turned out that Dad had phoned the owner, and the price was just good enough to be a real temptation. Too much of a temptation it seemed, and after 35 years, Dad was the proud owner of an 850 Coupe once more. He was ecstatic. Mum…. not so much. Continue reading →
The Hyatt is known around the world as one of the premiere chains of high end luxury resorts and hotels, and their sprawling Hyatt Regency Resort at Coolum Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was no exception. Spread over 150 acres at the base of Mount Coolum, the lush resort was home to the rich and famous, and has hosted the internationally renowned PGA golf tournament since 2002.
However a few years ago the venue was purchased by mining magnate Clive Palmer, a man fortunate enough to posses the lucky combination of eccentricity and extreme wealth. As you would no doubt expect from the brain behind Titanic II, he has added his own special touches, the most obvious of which is his car collection.
Personally, I kind of respect Clive Palmer in a weird sort of way, and I like the way he just pursues his passions regardless of what anybody else thinks – the world would probably be a more interesting place if everyone acted like that. And really, you’ve gotta hand it to anyone crazy enough to buy the Hyatt and then make the guests shuffle around three pre-war Fiat’s before they can check in.
In January of this year Palmer converted one of the spare rec halls into a car museum, filling it with his 110 strong collection. Soon after, the decision was made to construct a dedicated building for the collection, and the collection was moved off the premises in readiness. However, when I visited in May construction of the new museum building had not yet started, so instead there were several cars dotted around the resort. As you do. Continue reading →
A few months ago Any Given Reason took a closer look at the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari. Without the ability to take one for a drive at the time we were left to arrive at our conclusion based on looks and assumptions alone, which was that it seems like a cool, fun little car, but its eye wateringly expensive price made it not very good value.
So when the chance arose to take one for a spin through the hills, I jumped at it. I was keen to answer two questions: how does it drive in comparison to the regular Abarth 500, and is it worth the money? For this story I’ll avoid re-hashing the minute details of the Tributo (you can read that here), and will instead look to answer these questions.
The first thing you notice as soon as you climb into the Tributo are the seats and how fantastic they are. Made in Italy by racing specialist Sabelt, they bear hug you in the corners yet remain comfortable in the commute. They’re easily the most similar to fixed back race seats I’ve found in any road car, however they are juxtaposed against the upright city-commuter driving position which shines through from the 500′s origins. It feels slightly odd for the first few kilometers, but the driving position is actually pretty good once you get used to it. Continue reading →
On holiday in Queensland recently, I found this Fintail outside the local supermarket. Riding low on a set of polished moon discs, it was looking super fresh.
In the mid sixties the Fintail sat in the middle of Mercedes’ lineup and featured a 1988cc four. Interestingly, the W110 was the first car to be extensively crash tested. Built from 1965-1968, just over 70,000 W110 200′s were constructed at Mercedes-Benz’s Sindelfingen plant.
This particular example has been lowered and ‘stanced’ by its young owners. I personally love the look, but what do our more traditional readers think? Should these old classics be left alone as they are, or is it a good thing that a whole new generation of enthusiasts are keeping them on the road and enjoying them?
I’m sure I’m not the only one to watch with interest last year when six times Australian Sports Sedan champion Kerry Baily launched his latest challenger – an Aston Martin DBR9. Sports Sedan, the category where basically anything goes, has always (for me, at least) been a slightly comedic racing class, where teams would aim to build the fastest tube frame racer with the biggest possible engine, and then shell it in the most unlikely bodywork. The whole class functions around the simple preposition of ordinary, everyday cars racing wheel to wheel at astronomical speeds you’d never expect.
So I was initially a little confused when I first saw pictures of the DBR9. Imagination is the only limit in Sports Sedans so it could be a home creation, but then again a genuine DBR9, Aston’s just superseded factory international GT racer and Le Mans enduro challenger, would theoretically fit within the Sports Sedan rules.
I was recently at the Shannon’s Nationals at Mallala shooting a story for popular Australian car blog Downshift Aus (you can see the story here), so I found time to check out Bailey’s Aston in a little more detail.
So the short answer is that it isn’t a real one. Several years ago Kerry was traveling in England and saw the factory DBR9′s racing and fell in love with them, deciding that a DBR9 would have to be his next Sports Sedan. He investigated building one out of an actual DB9 road car, but determined that it wasn’t worth it as “the only things that would be retained would be the badges at either end”.
Gold Coast bodywork experts Dennis Bedford and Rob Sarvo were consulted, and it was decided that the easiest way to replicate the DBR9 would be to simply up-scale a 1/18 model. This Minichamps 1/18 was purchased, in full Le Mans trim no less, and the careful measurements began. Continue reading →
James Rodda and Dave Langfield have won Rally Wattle Range, the first round of the South Australian Rally Championship held recently on April 26-27 in the South East region of South Australia. In a tough event where simply finishing was an achievement in itself, Rodda came through to claim his maiden victory by over two minutes and took maximum championship points over the diverse set of stages.
The pairing of Michael and David Krichauff drove a consistent yet fast event to claim a solid second place outright in their class P5 Subaru.
The final place on the podium went to the Galant VR4 of Mt Gambier locals Paul Heenan and Andrew Kreisl. It was expected that local knowledge would certainly play into the hands of the Galant’s of locals Heenan and Brown, and this was certainly the case.
In a fantastic effort considering it was their first ever rally in a new car, Jamie Pohlner and Ben Judd claimed fourth place in the ex Sam Brand GC8 Subaru. This must have been a special result for the crew, because other than two khanacross events earlier in the year, this was their first serious event.
The top five was rounded out by Barry and Helen Lowe in the thundering VB Commodore. This is fast becoming a very popular car on the national historic rally circuit, and Barry has stepped it up to a whole new level for 2013. The old Holden V8 (itself a wild motor) is out, replaced by a Nascar spec Chev V8. I was told that this engine arrived from the US producing over 800hp, and that Barry has tuned it down to a more reliable 550 for gravel work. It has that spine tingling high pitched wail that is only produced by very seriously tuned race engines, and throws massive rooster tails of dust and rocks wherever it goes. Continue reading →
As the alarm went off at about 6am on Sunday morning, I awoke to a really odd sound. A constant, almost comforting patter. What was it? Ah yes, rain. And lots of of it. In my early morning stupor I came to the conclusion that I should just go back to sleep, and it probably will stop by the time I need to get up. 7am and the alarm buzzed again, and for some damned reason it was still raining. At least I wouldn’t need to wash the car I concluded, and promptly fell back asleep. Wintery mornings do not welcome the early bird.
Rewind a couple of weeks. After receiving some feedback from the first Burger Meet held on a Friday evening at Fancy Burger in Blackwood, I decided to try something a little different for the second Burger Meet. The main suggestions were that the location was less than inspiring, and that people wanted to go for a bit of a drive as well. So with sunny late summer hills mornings in mind the decision was made to hold the second Burger Meet on a Sunday morning in Mylor, with the burgers served up from the picturesque Harvest Cafe.
Gourmet breakfast burgers? Check. Picture-perfect surroundings? Check. Twisty driving roads to arrive at the venue? Check. Constant rain and freezing cold temperatures? Check. Damn. With this in mind I didn’t really expect a huge turnout, and I couldn’t really blame people for not coming. It takes a strong passion for cars to get out of a nice warm bed on such an awful Sunday morning.
But then one by one, people started arriving in all sorts of interesting cars. Continue reading →