27 September 2017

Amazing barn find GTHO Phase III for auction

Gosford Classic Car Museum is hosting its very first public auction on Saturday 28th October, with VIP guests including Australia’s wealthiest heading to the Coast to view some of the nation’s most prized vehicles. Supported by Pickles, Australia’s number one auction and valuation specialist, the Museum will have up to 70 classic cars on sale, ranging from $50,000 AUD into the millions.

Headlining the auction are four show-stopping vehicles:
  • 1971 Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III – fewer than 100 models remain in the world
  • 1988 Porsche 959 – the world’s fastest street-legal production car when first introduced
  • 1968 Lamborghini Miura – Italy’s finest sports car
  • 1966 Aston Martin DB6 – the longest production run up to that date of any Aston Martin model
Gosford Classic Car Museum is home to the largest collection of cars in the Southern Hemisphere and was founded by Tony Denny in 2016, who – a car collector himself – decided to turn his hobby into a passion project.

In support of a very important cause, the Museum will also auction off its unique Formula Vee, with all proceeds going to NSW Kids in Need, which supports six child-focussed charities in the region. The previous owner was a racer who sadly passed away from cancer last year.

Tony Denny, Founder and Owner of Gosford Classic Car Museum said: “We’re thrilled to open our doors to the world for one night only, in what is one of Australia’s largest car auction this year. Selling off 70 of our classic cars is no easy feat; however, it is essential we make room for the exciting new collections that we have waiting in the wings. We can’t wait to see familiar and new faces on auction night!”

General admission tickets to the event can be purchased from Eventbrite for $25, with VIP options available as well. The catered affair is expecting up to 1500 guests.

Steve Allen, National Manager of Prestige Vehicles at Pickles added: “We are excited to collaborate with Gosford Classic Car Museum to bring to life Australia’s most iconic classic car auction to date. With the amount of quality and exotic collections going under the hammer, we foresee it being a great event.”

For bidders unable to attend, an online bidding facility – Pickles Live – allows bids to be placed worldwide in real time. All vehicles can also be viewed prior to auction in person by appointment or online.

For full details on the auction, visit https://classiccars.pickles.com.au/

23 September 2017

Web Spin: 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob Softail

So what's all the fuss about Harley-Davidson's new Softail range? And what happened to Dyna?

Even though I’ve owned a Harley for nearly two years and rode my first one a year before that, I still consider myself a Harley novice. However, I have been making up for lost time, swotting up on the copious history of this venerable make and riding as many of the models as I can.

Now, with the release of the new 2018 models last month, tongues were definitely wagging at the news of the dropping of H-D’s Dyna models, merging them instead with Softails into a single line. So, what does that mean?

To investigate, I headed out to Harley-Heaven in Western Sydney to meet new dealer principal, Craig Smith. Smith has been with the brand for more than a decade, servicing dealerships around the country for H-D head office prior to his new role in the big seat in Blacktown, replacing the affable John Buchanan, now back home in New Zealand.

Harley-Heaven Western Sydney
Harley-Heaven in Western Sydney

On a record hot September Saturday, dozens of diehard H.O.G. members and freelance riders are gathered for the semi-regular ‘shop ride’ at the smart new dealership where there’s comfy couches, a kick-butt coffee machine and lots of shiny chrome and matt eye candy.

David, Craig (dealer principal) and Joe at H-H 

Craig ushers me out to the rear where his demo bikes are parked and introduces me to a spanking new Street Bob, complete with the all-new four-valve-per-cylinder Milwaukee-Eight 107ci V-twin with dual counterbalancers. It’s the entry-level bike for the new Milwaukee-Eight range, stripped down and raw, ‘bobber’ style. The mini ‘ape’ bars are a bit unfamiliar to me initially, but they certainly work with the aesthetics.

2017 model Street Bob with exposed shocks.

“The old Dynas had the familiar twin rear shocks but now the suspension is a single coil and shock under the seat and the tubular frame is now 65 per cent stiffer than the old style Softail and has half as many component parts,” Craig tells me, “There are fewer welds and no more rubber engine mounts. Instead the engine is solid mounted, increasing frame stiffness.”

There is lots more technical stuff to ponder, but the proof as they say, is in the pudding, so let’s ride.

Close to fifty Harleys roar out onto Sunnyholt Road with me trying to look the part as the massive formation heads toward the Hawkesbury in a rowdy phalanx of Milwaukee muscle.

Smoko near Pitt Town.

Even though I am circumspect to begin with, the easy-riding nature of the new Street Bob soon has me confidently sweeping through the tight bends and accelerating smoothly out of the apexes like I know what I’m doing. The feeling is deceptively light and nimble and I find I can actually lay the bike over a little without scraping the pegs. Vibration is minimal and the power comes on smoothly right through the rev range.

Harley’s clever advertising copywriters are calling this “new school technology, skip school attitude.”

As with any radical change, there will be those who resist. Will Dyna make a comeback down the line? I doubt it. Harley-Davidson is knuckling down with a renewed R&D force that has promised 100 new models in the next 10 years which means there will inevitably be some ‘out with the old’.

Whether you’re an old hand or a dreamer, nothing should stop you getting into your nearest Harley-Davidson dealership to make up your own mind.

2018 Street Bob profile. No more visible shocks.
Rear suspension is neatly tucked under the rider seat.

Test Bike:

Harley-Davidson Softail Street Bob (2018)
Milwaukee-Eight 107ci V-twin (1,745 cc)
Priced from $23,495AUD

Test bike supplied by Harley-Heaven Western Sydney
70 Sunnyholt Road,
Blacktown, New South Wales 2148

04 September 2017

Confederate motorcycle: The Rebel Yell

A Confederate motorcycle is a thing of monstrous beauty. Not for the faint hearted or lightly heeled, it’s unashamedly American in every way. Roderick Eime takes up the star spangled banner.

Would you buy an expensive motorcycle and never ride it? Do you consider an item of exceptional industrial design a work of art in line with a Picasso or Dali? Well, if so, you might be in the market for a new Confederate.

While daily road use is possible, the small, select group of Confederate motorcycle owners are more likely to have their machines mounted on a plinth in the man cave next to the IXO Elysium carbon fibre pool table and the William Wiley pinball machine.

The Confederate buyer is more than a mere enthusiast or design dilettante, he (and yes, it’s more than likely a ‘he’) is a true aficionado, a genuine connoisseur whose love of motorcycles transcends the simple joy of riding to one of a near spiritual obsession.

“What we wish to do relative to to our screenplay, our ‘song’, our communication through the machine and the brand,” says Confederate CEO and founder, Matt Chambers, “is to encourage a new approach where every person is nurtured to be exactly what they were born to be. To be completely in harmony with what's going on inside of themselves.”

Now that could easily sound like self-indulgent waffle to the casual listener, but hear me out.

Chambers is not your average guy, not your average businessman, nor even your average visionary. After funding his studies by running his father’s pool hall, he earned a bachelor of arts in business administration from Louisiana State University in 1975, then went on to receive a juris doctorate degree in 1978, launching a solo 13-year career in law in Baton Rouge.

After winning a massive police brutality case in 1990, he sold up in favour of his true love and went on to create Confederate Motor Company, Inc. underpinned by the philosophy of “enlightened design through true American inspiration”.

Chambers doesn’t just pay lip service to this motto like so many hollow corporate mantras. Fiercely patriotic, he adheres to the belief that Americans are among the world’s greatest designers, if not the greatest. Sure, we could argue about that all day long, but he’s just as quick to point out the gaping flaws in the system it has created and why the great American designs have fallen by the wayside in favour of focus group-researched dross.

In a TEDx talk he gave in Birmingham, Alabama in 2011, he articulates both his love and loathing of “the American Way”. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, but essentially Chambers calls out the slide into rampant consumerism as “a system of chicanery and hucksterism” led by the likes of GM. It’s a system, he asserts, that has turned beautiful and functional engineering into faux-branded consumer junk.

“We’ve lost our core competency,” he tells the transfixed audience, “we have become like the vinyl roof on the Cadillac, the fake wood veneer, the fake hubcaps. It’s a marketing trick, devoid of substance, leaving us empty and helpless with our addiction to consumerism.”

Confederate is his vision of restoring prowess to the American Way through his motorcycle designs which imbue a sense of both strength and rebellion. Chambers says this restoration of essence and culture can be achieved by selfless dedication to purpose and exceptional craftsmanship. Yep, heady stuff alright, but he backs this up with the product, which he describes succinctly thus:

“The new Hellcat we have just completed has the lightest, stiffest, toughest drag race-inspired chassis architecture, spinning the lightest driveline from the heaviest flywheel located at the centreline vertical and horizontal axis of the motorcycle, powered up to the fattest pistons, pushing through the longest stroke, making the greatest amount of torque as a percentage of weight of any machine by far, ever made.”

Let’s just catch our breath for a moment and have a look at what this machine is all about.

In the saddle

Tested: Confederate X132 Hellcat Combat

Test Rider: David Song.

Even for the experienced rider, there is a certain level of apprehension and intimidation that needs to be overcome. All of a sudden there is a massive 2200cc V-Twin capable of 217Nm and 120kW under your butt. That’s about as much grunt as a medium-sized sedan. Not to mention the handbuilt, military grade aluminum chassis machine comes with a pricetag just shy of $100k.

Even though the Hellcat has the appearance of a straight line drag bike, it is surprisingly agile, thanks largely to its low 220kg dry weight and ideal balance. BST carbon wheels and a multi-piston Beringer braking system keep the whole box and dice nicely on the road.

Two 1100cc cylinders ensure there’s plenty movement down there. As the twin pistons work up a head of steam, it’s the kind of intense vibration a brace of Browning .50 caliber machine guns generate, an analogy not lost on this bike with its namesake a brutal WWII US fighter plane. This machine is very much alive, reminding you at every moment of its exceptional capabilities.

The riding position is comfortable as the bike itself is not physically massive like some enormous cruiser with all the trimmings. After a while, the heat transmitted through the headers becomes quite noticeable, especially if you’re idling in traffic. An encouragement perhaps to keep moving on a breezy open road

As expected, the Hellcat is a head-turner for sure. Just try and ignore its raw nakedness right down to the exposed timing belt and aluminum framework. It’s a motorcycle few have ever seen the likes of and the thunderous exhaust note gets everyone else’s attention, even if you’re trying to be quiet.

Despite the Hellcat’s visual aggression, it’s a remarkably relaxed bike to ride. This is no sport bike that needs constant encouragement, instead surf the abundant wave of torque that’s right there from way down low in every one of the five close-ratio gears. That said, when the throttles are opened, the acceleration is just off the scale. Despite the very effective 190/55/17 Pirelli Rosso tyres, if the Hellcat had a joystick and flaps, it would surely take off.

Quick Bits

Hellcat X132 (base model)

Engine: X132 Copperhead; 132 cubic inches (2,163 cc); 56° Fuel Injected V-Twin; 4.4” Bore x 4.4” Stroke; One-piece Forged Crank; Journal Bearing Design

Power: Torque: 150 Foot Pounds

Horsepower: 132 BHP

Unitized case: Machined 6061 Aircraft-Grade Billet Aluminum

The Confederate X132 Hellcat Combat set the record of 172.2 mph on the Bonneville Salts, which translates to 200 mph on asphalt.


The handful of Confederate motorcycles that make their way into Australia and New Zealand come by way of Urban Moto Imports in Melbourne.

With production run numbers in the dozens only, the next to arrive are a pair of FA-13 Combat Bombers, followed by R131 Fighter and P51 Combat Fighter, the world’s first and only vehicle to be carved entirely from solid billet blocks of military-grade aluminum. By the time you read this, someone will have likely shelled out the $200k-plus, but make the call by all means.


See also WORLD Magazine feature, Spring 2017 (click to read)