Friday 30 December 2016

Bathurst 1989 in 1/32: The Scalextric Sierras..

...yep, seriously.

In my ramblings about late-80s/early-90s Group-A ATCC Ford Sierras in the previous post, I'd reminded myself that I had an old Australian "Bathurst" Scalextric set with a couple Ford Sierras, given to me as a present as a kid.
Not having Sierras of any form sold here new; seeing any Sierra = instant memories of those Scalextric Sierras specifically...
..So spending a couple hours writing about Sierras, followed directly by a week-or-so off due to Christmas holidays? What would you think I'd do?

The SCALEXTRIC "Bathurst" Slot Car Racing Set.

For any international readers confused-yet-still-curious at this point, I'll save you a little Googl'ing:
Bathurst is the name of a town ~200km west of Sydney. This town is the home of the very much loved Mt. Panorama circuit.
A special 1000km race is held here towards the end of the year, outside of the normal Australian Touring Car Championship. In the late Group-A era ~1987-1992 (when this race was known as the James Hardie 1000, then the Tooheys 1000), the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworths that had dominated so many of the Australian Touring Car Championships, unsurprisingly did very well: an RS500 was on Pole for all years except 1991, won 1988 and 1989, and was 2nd for 1990 and 1992.

So in 1989/1990 when the English slotcar manufacturer Scalextric styled a set after the track... was obviously no surprise to see it feature a pair of very successful Sierras. Winning sells, and these things were a big deal.

The two cars included... in the adverts above: Peter Brock's 05 Mobil 1 Racing car, and Dick Johnson's Shell Ultra Racing number-17!

Damn I loved that white 05 Brock car as a kid.

The two cars, controllers, and enough track to do a figure-eight. As shown above, to build a replica of the Mount Panorama circuit would require quite a few additional pieces...

Close-up of one of the cars; showing the fin that slots into the track, and the brushes that connect the power to the electric motor driving the rear wheels. Between the motor and rear wheels you can see the "Magnatraction" magnet that helps hold it to the track, while the front wheels' only job is to stay out of the way...

One of the track pieces...

..and one of the little clip-on railings: all made in Great Britain.

One of the controllers, and its basic clip-on connection to the underside of the track.
I'm surprised/amazed this all works so well, with so many open-air 12v connections required to make it work at all...

...but work it does! Well, other than the hour or so of delicate track adjustments to get the damn cars to stay on!

Done. Good fun.

*looks at list of cars newly available for 1989* ...ooh, now where can I get that Porsche.....

Thursday 22 December 2016

Unfashionably late to the Group-A party: Colin Bond's 1992 Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth...

Another one from the display at the Sandown Retro Round back in September...

1992 Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth.
Twin-cam, turbo-powered, racing variation of Ford's plain-Jane 3dr Sierra. This 1986- RS500 one of the 500 evolution models on top of the 5000 'standard' Ford Sierra RS Cosworths, built to meet FIA Group A homologation requirements for Ford to go racing in the late 80s.
It was worth the effort.
Likely news to no one, but these things were hugely successful; absolutely dominating Group-A in Australia until Nissan's 1989- BNR32 GT-R came along to ruin even the Cosworth's fun.

Not as though 'that was it' for these, with the Ford remaining very competitive right up to the end of Group A reg's for the ATCC in 1992.

..with that point making the 1992 build/launch of this particular car somewhat odd.

Amazingly, this car was built for the 1992 "Tooheys 1000" (Bathurst) - one specific race months after the 1992 ATCC was already said and done.
Keen? Yep. It sure as hell had to shine, as there weren't too many opportunities for a Group A touring car afterwards!, did it? least a podium for the effort?!

Errrr, no. No it did not.
Unfortunately oil-pressure issues saw the No.8 Bond/Smith Caltex Sierra return to the pits just seven laps into its debut race. Ohhh, the pain...

So there it was. What is claimed to have been the last Sierra RS500 built, with what would be the least amount of actual Group-A era use under its belt.
"Only driven to church on Sundays"? It's the race equivalent: "seven laps and parked; one owner, as new...."!

..if nothing else; if it was to spend the following two decades as a garage ornament - at least it was a good looking one! Love the red&white Caltex livery here...

...something else caught my eye when given the chance for an in-person look though..! brighten the day (even further) for an SSR tragic: 17" centerlock six-spokes, with that hollow-spoke magnesium face. Nice. A surprising choice on the European Ford...

Inside, there's a Sparco race seat, suede Personal wheel, and a six-speed Hollinger behind the YB turbo four.
As further randomly-interesting details: the T-bar style lever to the left of the driver's seat is the front sway-bar control, while the unit in front of the shifter there (with the 'AP' decal) is the brake bias...

...and we're done. Finishing off here with a rear shot, a view of that absurd (but absolutely iconic) Sierra RS wing. I'm a fan!

Now I'm off to go crack out that Sierra "Bathurst" Scalextric set I've had since I was a kid.. ooh, and the Texaco Superfast Matchbox.. and the.....

Friday 9 December 2016

What a Legend...

One from last weekend's TCCAV Classic Japan car show; what was - when asked - my 'favourite thing I'd seen' that day...

...I must've said it to half-a-dozen people. I meant it. Out of all those cars; a metallic-gold, front-driving, automatic Honda coupe?

Well.. yeah.

I've just always had a bit of a thing for these retiree-chariots; so coming across this very tidy, original example, hit very hard with the why-isn't-this-mine feelings..

Likely re-capping much of what I'd said when I last rambled about these four years ago: first generation of Honda's still-sold Legend; introduced in 1985, with the coupe following in 1987 - a bodystyle only available for the first two generations. Basic SOHC V6's were mounted transversely under that sloping bonnet/hood, and powered the front wheels through 5spd man or 4spd automatic transmissions.

Ol' Goldie Hawn here specifically would be sporting the naturally-aspirated 128kw (172hp) 2.7litre V6, the four-speed, and weigh in at ~1430kg/~3150lbs...

...clawing at the bitumen through some 205/60s mounted on the properly-directional 15" alloys.

Tempra Touring? Eurgh.. only the best this far down the track, for the former luxury coupe...

Actually... speaking of which, as it really needs to be stressed: this was not a cheap car when it hit the Australian market in November 1987. At a whisker under $60,000, it was dearer than any of the high-performance Japanese coupes of the era (Supra, 300ZX, RX-7 Turbo..); near-enough the same price as a Prelude and an Integra, or two twin-cam CRX's and change..

..but I digress..
It's those delicate lines I love so much on these. How they look 'light on their feet'. Slim sides, with a tight beltline-to-sill height (visually helped further by that low two-tone); the subtle box-flares that fade in and out down its length; those thin pillars framing the large glasshouse...
Details that combine to prevent large, boring, surfaces of colour; and make the relatively-large Japanese coupe (it's ~4750mm long) appear a lot smaller than it is.

The tidy original exterior wraps not-too-surprisingly around a tidy original interior: two-tone, tan leather and brown plastics/carpets; with glossy brown wood impressively restrained to the console/HVAC area.
What else have we got here? Well there's a dainty four-spoke leather trimmed wheel, cruise control, fairly comprehensive instruments, and sunroof controls (somewhat oddly..) at your fingertips.
The radio is the seemingly standard-fare Honda Australia Pioneer KE-8003ZH: an AM/FM/cassette unit I covered with a few detailed shots in a recent Honda Concerto post..

102,681kilometeres - 63,803miles - and it shows.
Not 30,000km a year, then sitting under a tree for the next two decades; no.. this looks like gentle use.. much-loved use..
Thumbs-up to the current owner for keeping it so tidy.

Australian launch advert: Prestige has never been more exhilarating. Honda hammering home the message of its Formula 1 efforts, and careful lighting on the solid-white coupe showing off those oh-so-neat flares mentioned above...

Honda's Legend. "A car whose performance - unrestricted by old-world pedigrees - became the index of excellence for the discerning motorist."