Toyota says sayonara…Schumacker Ferrari’s fifteen minutes of fame…Aston Martin take a dive…garage a piece of auto history…lots more..

Yet another piece of Australian manufacturing has been assigned to the dustbin of history with the official closing of the Toyota plant in Melbourne after more than fifty years of production. Australia was the first country outside Japan to produce Toyota cars, starting with the Tiara in 1963 at a factory in Port Melbourne. Famous brands to follow included Crown, Corona and Corolla.

As part of a joint venture with Holden, Corolla production was switched from Port Melbourne to a plant at Altona leased from Holden that produced variants of its Corolla (Nova) and Camry (Apollo) for GM. All now sadly ended, victim of an ideologically driven bunch of idiots in the federal parliament and their lackey, the Productivity Commission.

More than 3000 people attended an official closing ceremony at the Altona plant where global president of Toyota Akio Toyoda walked down the line fare welling manufacturing employees and expressing his sincere appreciation for the hard work and dedication that had been demonstrated in the lead up to their last day.

The company has a program that will run until the middle of next year, to help employees find new jobs and plans for Altona included the relocation of key business units and the development of a Centre of Excellence.

TMA’s transition to a sales and distribution company involves moving all corporate function from Sydney to Melbourne and reducing its workforce from 3900 to approximately 1300 people.

Schumacher’s Ferrari seeks its fifteen minutes of fame

What’s this, a Ferrari racing car pivotal in winning Michael Schumacher’s fourth world drivers title to be sold at a contemporary art auction?

You’re kidding! No way!

But yes, the 2001 Ferrari F1 car which won two GPs, including the famous Monaco Grand Prix and clinched the world drivers and constructors titles, will be sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction to be held next month in New York.

So, instead being alongside Bugattis, Bentleys and other Ferraris, a car that was built by the world’s most successful F1 constructor, by far the most valuable marque at auction and driven by the world’s most successful F1 racing driver, will be sold in the company of artworks from Warhol, Basquiat, and Johns.

The decision to classify the Ferrari as contemporary art by the choice of sale venue is clearly heavily influenced by the state of the respective markets.

The collectible car market is down from its peak of three years ago, but according to ArtPrice Contemporary Art Market, contemporary art has emerged as the art market’s primary locomotive.

While collectible car aficionados have long regarded the subjects of their passion as works of art, they may be a little dismayed if the art market begins to think along similar lines, as prices will undoubtedly skyrocket.

The figures are irrefutable, with contemporary art turnover having grown +1400% in 17 years from US$103 million in 2000 to US$1.58 billion in 2017.

So strong is the contemporary art market, for works created by artists born after 1945, that the segment’s record price of $58.4 million for a work by Jeff Koons in 2013, was eclipsed earlier this year by the $110.5 million fetched by a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat (above).

Just which camp will score the Schumacher Ferrari will be watched with intense interest, as it is unquestionably an objet d’art, yet it is unprecedented in automotive auction history for such a recent championship-winning vehicle to reach auction.

The vehicle, however, can qualify as functional art with its frighteningly powerful 3.0 litre V10 that is unrestricted in its performance and eligible for historic racing, where winning would be a case of ‘pole putting’.

Ferrari’s Corse Clienti services would house, service and prepare the racer in Maranello for its owner and transport it to and from any event in the world, offering the services of its F1 mechanics and the instruction of the company’s test drivers.

The car is expected to fetch ‘well in excess of $4 million’, but if it is indeed recognized a contemporary art, the price might shake the foundations of the collectible car industry, not to mention validate the Sotheby’s and RM Sotheby’s partnership which began in February 2015.

Aston Martin takes a dive into the deep

Aston Martin has been really busy lately. Along with keeping up with its usual line-up of regularly evolving sports and luxury cars, it’s been working on projects like the AM37 powerboat it showed at last year’s Monaco Yacht Show, the race-derived Valkyrie hypercar and an all-electric vehicle.

And now, pardon the pun, the company has dived into the deep end with a submarine. Yes, that’s right, one of those twenty thousand leagues under the sea things.

Apparently, Project Neptune is the first effort of Aston Martin Consulting, a division providing cross-industry design, engineering and manufacturing services aimed at ‘distilling the brand’s essence into exciting new projects’.

According to AM Consulting’s managing director Bradley Yorke-Biggs (yes, that’s his real name, but then this is AM) this is the company’s uno numero thing: “It is a clear and engaging demonstration of how Aston Martin’s expertise in sports car design and craftsmanship can be extended into new aspects of the luxury world.”

And they seem to have done this very well. The silver body looks really smooth and the flanks are as sleek and curvy as any speedboat hull, almost like an aircraft fuselage fins extending upward at the rear.

AM has blended the glasshouse neatly into the frame giving the impression of a rear-set supercar with an ever-present sense of springing forward off its rear wheels. A must for any design-conscious super yacht owner.

No specs are provided, but the 1650/3LP, the sole three-person ‘LP’ submersible on Triton’s website, relies on dual 5hp primary and dual 5hp vertran thrusters powered by a 30kWh lithium iron phosphate main battery.

The single pilot operates through a combination of joystick, touchscreen and manual override controls, lighting the way with an exterior array of five 20,000-lumen LED lights.

The sub can remain underwater for up to 12 hours and reach speeds up to three knots (5.6 km/h) whilst those aboard stay comfy in an air-conditioned cockpit.

If it hasn’t already sold out, it seems like the kind of billionaire’s toy that could show up in a future edition of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, a destination not unfamiliar to Aston Martin, nor Triton.

Your chance to garage a piece of auto history

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a couple of racers from way back will go under the hammer in a more traditional classic car auction in Melbourne this month. A 1934 MG Q Type ($A400,000) and a ‘hybrid’ 1924 Vauxhall 30/98 Tourer OE86/100 ($A330,000) are the stars of the Australian International Concours d’Elegance & Classic Motor Show.

According to auctioneers Mossgreen, the MG (chassis 0257) that may originally have been either dark green or black, as it is painted currently, presents a wonderful opportunity for someone to garage one of the purest British pre-war racing cars now available.

Utilising a slightly narrower chassis, but based on that of the K3, MG created a car capable of some 120 miles an hour in two-seater format that in 1934 clocked 122mph (196km/h) at Brooklands with George Harvey-Noble driving a single seat version.

Chassis number 0257, the seventh of the eight cars built, was the same year delivered new to Cec Warren in Victoria and the earliest image of the vehicle is at Sellick’s Beach in South Australia, a hard, smooth surface measuring over 3km in length on which aeroplanes were known to land.

Just prior to the second world war the car came into the hands of Hope Bartlett of New South Wales and was to achieve the lap record for cars under 750cc at Bathurst in a time of 3 minutes 47 seconds.

In 1948, it was bought by a John G. Peek and the following year won the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Hawkesbury, a quarter-mile sprint and its class at Mt Druitt and recorded 18.64 sec at Castlereagh. On 11 June 1951, it set a new Australian record for the standing quarter mile at 19.82 secs and the standing kilometre of 38.88 seconds.

Last year, the vehicle underwent major engineering work that appears to have returned it to look very much the same as in the 1934 photograph taken at Sellick’s Beach when owned by Cec Warren.

The total production of the Vauxhall 30/98 was just 596, which included 13 built before the first world war. The build quality and craftsmanship of the 30/98 has resulted in the survival of a relatively high number of vehicles, especially in Australia were the Vauxhall was very popular.

In the 1920s, the 30/98 was very much a fast tourer as opposed to a sports car such as the Bentley’s, which were so prominent at this time at Le Mans. Although the company did not race the 30/98, Vauxhall guaranteed 100mph (161km/h) for any unit that was stripped down.

The vehicle for auction was made into a single car from two Velox bodied 30/98 fast tourers shipped to Australia in 1924, and in the 30s was the Trans-Continental and Round Australia record holder.

John Balmer was an adventurous competitor in speed events such as the Mt Tarrengower hill climb near Maldon, where his family had a property.  His mother purchased OE100 in 1934 as a gift for her son.

With his co-driver Eddie Scott, John set the transcontinental Darwin to Adelaide, Fremantle to Adelaide, and Adelaide to Melbourne records during 1936 in OE100. In 1938, sponsored by Shell, Dunlop and Repco, Balmer and Richard Kent established a new 9326-mile circumnavigation record of the Australian continent in 24 days, 11 hours and 58 minutes.

Balmer and Robinson had become friends at the University of Melbourne. In 1942 as pilots for the Citizen Air Force stationed at the Melbourne Showgrounds, before being sent overseas, they decided to combine their two vehicles into one good car under shared ownership.

Having taken the heaviest battering on the rough Australian terrain, the body of OE100 was discarded and its engine, still bearing three record breaking commemorative plates, front axle and gearbox, incorporated into OE86.

Sellick’s Beach in South Australia, a hard, smooth surface measuring over 3km in length on which aeroplanes were known to land.

THE RANGE ROVER VELAR is the latest vehicle to be awarded five stars in Ancap’s safety ratings. The new medium-sized luxury SUV includes autonomous emergency braking as a standard feature that operates at high and low-speeds and can detect and react to pedestrians.

Ancap say that that the vehicle offered ‘good’ levels of protection for occupants in the side impact test which replicates a traditional ‘T-bone’ crash and an oblique pole test that replicates a run-off road crash where the vehicle and driver’s head strikes a tree or light pole. A ‘marginal’ level of protection was recorded for the chest of the rear seat adult occupant in the full width frontal test.

Following on from the recent announcement that from 2020 all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles will be electrified, the Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid will go on sale next April.

Badged P400e, the new model combines a 221kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor. The 297kW total available power output, available through the permanent four-wheel drive system, is said to deliverr 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds and a maximum speed of 220km/h.


 ANCAP RECENTLY LAUNCHED an app designed to help Australians make safer vehicle choices. Said to be the first of its kind in the world, it provides a new mechanism for consumers to access Ancap safety rating information in the lead-up to a vehicle purchase and provides additional safety-related content, features and news. Ancap safety ratings provide consumers with independent information on the comparable safety of new vehicles sold in Australia and complement the commonwealth’s role as vehicle safety regulator.

THE MINI LIVING – INVERT EXHIBITION featuring 13 architectural models designed to match a brief built around sustainable, small-scale living in an urban environment, has opened in Melbourne.

The 1:20 scale models have been designed and built by some of Australia’s best established and emerging architects, who were tasked with using a six by ten metre plot in Melbourne’s city centre to create a home suitable for a young family of four.

The project is a joint venture between Mini Australia, green magazine, RMIT and the City of Melbourne.

According to the car company’s Tony Sesto, the exhibition demonstrates just how easy it is to reduce our impact, increase the functionality of our living spaces and share these experiences with our families and neighbours.

“Becoming resource-conscious and embracing small-scale living doesn’t mean you have to forego modern luxuries.”

The architects involved will hold a number of workshops that will be filmed and published online @ Mini Living – Invert will run from 4-8 October. CLICK HERE for more info.

EFFICIENTLY MANAGING the electricity generated from solar panels could be a lot easier with the release of Projecta’s range of automatic, four-stage Smart Solar charge controllers.

Ideal for owners of motor homes, caravans and four wheel drivers, who spend extended time on the road and away from mains power, the new controllers use a four-stage charging process that allows the user to tailor settings to best suit requirements and battery type.

All three controllers in the new range are EMC-approved and allow the owner to set the charging profile to suit either a wet, AGM or gel battery chemistry types. Mobile phones, iPads cameras,etc, can be recharged using a couple of 5V 2.4A USB ports. and similar devices.

Each controller is simple to operate and is equipped with a low voltage disconnect function that protects the battery from damage from over charging. Other benefits include a built-in temperature sensor that enables each unit to optimise charge performance and offer additional protection.

Choice of model depends on the size and output of the solar panels to which the smart controllers will be attached. Projecta’s range of Smart Solar Controllers is available from leading automotive and camping outlets nation-wide.

WHATEVER THE RESULT at this year’s Mt. Panorama, the real battle for enthusiasts’ hearts, minds, and particularly, wallets, will continue at Shannons Spring Auction on November 13. At an emotional aftermath for the industry after Holden officially ceases production on October 20, one of its favourite ‘sons’, a 1968 HK Monaro GTS 327, will cross the block in Sydney

To add further lustre to the occasion, the Monaro is finished in the same GTS 327 hero colour of Warwick Yellow as the Wyong Motors-entered Monaro of Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland that led the historic 1-2-3 Holden domination of the 1968 ‘great race’.

Coming from the estate of its late owner, the Monaro is said to have matching tags, firewall and engine numbers, a rare find in the classic Monaro market. The vehicle has been the subject of a long-term full body rebuild over 15 years that has included a repaint in the correct acrylic material, while its engine, gearbox, differential and brakes have all been rebuilt. ($170,000-$195,000).

Ford got its revenge at Bathurst in 1970 when Falcon XW GTs in HO specification finished first and second outright. So, for Blue Oval fans, Shannons have a very clean and well-presented XW GT in the same auction.

Ordered in the unusual colour of Zircon Green with dark saddle interior, but with the model’s distinctive bonnet locking pins, stripes, Super Roo decals and bonnet black outs deleted, this GT is very much a ‘sleeper’.

In keeping with this persona, it was equipped with automatic transmission, power steering and dealer-fitted air conditioning, while the car was also ordered with a Superfringe radio, a laminated windscreen and the optional heavy-duty dust package.

The GT’s current owner bought the car way back in 1973 with just 25,000 miles on its odometer and treated it to a body restoration in 1997 at 78,000 miles, but kept the interior factory original. The engine, transmission and suspension were also overhauled mechanically at the time and the GT remains very much as rebuilt, having done nominal mileage over the past 20 years.  CLICK HERE for more info


BURSON AUTO PARTS has expanded its own brand of engine coolants that provide repairers access to coolant formulations that have been specifically developed with a unique chemistry that makes them compatible with the service and factory fill long life coolants manufactured by Japanese and Korean OEMs.

Based on a state of the art phosphated organic additive technology (P-OAT) inhibitor package, the new Burson blue and pink coolants exceed both ASTM D3306 and JIS K 2234-2006 Class II industry standards for corrosion protection.

The coolants provide up to five years, or 250,000km, of service protection, are silicate, borate, nitrite and amine free and are claimed to offer exceptional protection for all cooling system metals, including aluminium and ferrous alloys.

HAS THE KITTEN FINALLY TRANSFORMED into an Ultra growling, fully grown up pussycat? Well, maybe. And it’s all courtesy of a rebranding featuring a sleek new Ultra range of products, built for what the company say is a ‘special breed’.

The much-loved cleaners, polishes and protectors that have kept Aussie cars performing and looking their best since the 1960s have been revved up and restyled for a contemporary new line of garage essentials for those who demand the best performance.

Shona Fitzgerald, CEO of the Kitten’s owner CRC Industries, says it’s a significant milestone for the company: “First trademarked in 1964 and developed specifically for Australia’s harsh conditions, the Kitten brand has been a mainstay for motor enthusiasts for generations. The launch of Kitten Ultra is an exciting new chapter for the company.”

Shona also reckons that with sleek new packaging and various formula enhancements, Kitten Ultra combines striking shelf appeal with extra muscle to clean, rejuvenate, polish and protect like never before.

“The new range is setting pulses racing amongst amateur car buffs and professionals alike, with Erebus Motorsport Supercar driver David Reynolds one of Kitten Ultra’s biggest fans.”

Kitten Ultra is now available at Repco stores nationwide and other outlets from mid-December.






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