10 August 2019

The Classic Rally Phenomenon

From Australian Road & Track Magazine - Winter 1992
Artwork produced by Brian Caldersmith for the 1992 video sleeve.

Mototorsport does a full circle and returns to an era of challenge, camaraderie, chivalry and low budget.

Top level motorsport has exploded into a fury of stress, excess and enormous expense. Formula One drivers could practically pay the Third World debt with their spare change!

What's left for those of us who want to race, have fun and not take a triple mortgage to do it? Of course there are always club sprints, motorkhanas and sundry events, but they can get a little wearisome after a while.

Enter the classic rallies, currently springing up all around the country. Now common in Europe, the wave really began here with the 1988 Hallet Nubrik Grand Prix Rally, and has spawned the now mandatory Repco Mountain Rally and others like the Targa Tasmania.

Usually about four to six days long, these events combine all the action and thrills of navigational sections and competition events, and culminate in gala fib-telling occasions.

What sort of car do you need? Some events have boundaries like the pre-1975 Repco. The Grand Prix Rally will consider almost anyone with a 'special or unique car of some sort. When they get thirty MGBs applying, however, they have to pull a few out of the hat. It's quite common too to see humble Morries and Holdens mix it with the exotic Ferraris and Porsches, often embarrassing the more expensive machinery. Factory and dealer teams appear regularly as well as company directors, pro race drivers, doctors, accountants, janitors and council workers. Everyone can get in there and have a go. More often than not these events gain enough interest to attract substantial TV and newspaper coverage, and can always be seen in glossies like this one.

The costs can vary. Take an average two-person team and their accommodation, travel, food, etc.. Targa Tasmania: probably around $5-6,000 easily (that's a dear one!). Grand Prix Rally: say about $2,500. Now, the Repco is a real bargain at under $2,000, and tends to attract those who find the sometimes snobby GP Rally out of their league. The hidden costs are a little unpredictable but obviously must include provision for repairs, car preparation, your ‘accustomed manner', and so on.

Both the Grand Prix Rally and Targa Tasmania will undergo (I hear) substantial changes for their next events. Neither can be expected to get cheaper, but the Repco organisers have hit on a formula straight away - and it works. Volunteers make a heroic effort to stage the event, keeping costs down straight away, and the competitors just love the testing navigation.

So if you have a smart car in the garage and don't know what to do with your next holiday, throw in the wife and kids and go on a rally!

Related story: Jaguar Drivers' Club Repco Mountain Rally at CuriousJag (with video)

See the National Museum of Australia's Historic Vehicles in Action

Brabham racing car, Royal Daimler, Aeroplane Jelly T-Model Ford truck will take to the track

A hundred years of automotive history will be in action when a selection of iconic vehicles from the National Museum of Australia take to the track at Wakefield Park Raceway in Goulburn, New South Wales, on 17 August.

05 July 2019

Will Electric Motorcycles ‘Spark’ a Riding Revival?

While there is nothing revolutionary about electric vehicles, new technology and greater concern for the burning of fossil fuels has seen a new wave of electric motorcycles ready for market.

When the giant Harley-Davidson Motor Company develops a brutish electric motorcycle, you know something is afoot.

H-D’s new LiveWire project is all the indication you need to know electric motorcycles are about to go mainstream. Customers in North America will be taking delivery of their pre-ordered machines from August, while Aussies and Kiwis will have to wait until 2020 for theirs - with a price tag of around $40,000.

LiveWire is clearly aimed at riders who like big, powerful machines. Top speed is cited as almost 180kmh and - hang on! - you can get to legal highway speed in about three seconds. H-D intend to build a network of charging stations throughout the dealerships to cater to the expected 200km range. Charging can be completed in about an hour, so there's plenty of time for a coffee and window-shop while waiting.

And it’s just as well H-D is ahead of the game with LiveWire because breathing down their neck is a swathe of similarly futuristic machines ready to take them on.

Former H-D engineer and motorcycle designer, Erik Buell, has unveiled his first full-size electric machine, the Flow electric motorcycle under his new brand, Fuell. Last year, Buell teamed up with Vanguard Spark, formed by Alfa Romeo F1 principal Francois-Xavier Terny of Vanguard Motorcycles and Frédéric Vasseur, founder of electric Formula E race car company Spark Racing Technology. With this kind of backing, the serially luckless Buell should be a force to contend with. The Flow “urban mobility” electric motorcycle will be a relatively modest performer and priced at around half that of the LiveWire.

Beyond these two, BMW is known to be seeking hybrid drive technology patents, Triumph are again surveying owners while Finnish company, RMK, are preparing a science fiction-styled machine called the E2 which utilises a hubless rear wheel and direct drive motor.

“The future is electric, we’re not far from starting series production,” said Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali who, along with VW Group Chairman Matthias Mueller, upped the ante when he said Ducati would have an electric motorcycle “by 2020”.

And if that wasn’t enough, Chinese electric motorcycle company Super Soco expects to sell three much cheaper, scooter-like electric models in Australia any time now.

So, it would seem the die is set for a serious influx of electric motorcycles sooner rather than later. Just when these machines will finally make their way down to Australasia - and at what price - is the next question.

02 July 2019

Australia's newest luxury car brand: Genesis is launched in Sydney [watch]

A glamourous ribbon-cutting at the first Genesis Studio, in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, has marked the launch of the Genesis brand in Australia.

The flagship studio was unveiled by Executive Vice President, Global Head of the Genesis Brand, Manfred Fitzgerald.

The launch of Genesis Studio Sydney introduces a new premium customer experience to the Australian market, and will be joined by Genesis Studios in Melbourne and Brisbane next year.

The stunningly designed Studio in the retail heart of Sydney’s CBD is defined by its spiral staircase encircled by a spectacular, bespoke large-scale curved LED screen.

19 June 2019

Lake Perkolilli claypan racing is back

It’s called sacrilege! Desecration! A travesty! Covering precious antique race cars and bikes in sticky red dust and driving them at extraordinary speeds. The drivers of 100 pre-war race cars and motorcycles who will be heading to the isolated claypan of Lake Perkolilli near Kalgoorlie in September this year don’t care what the purists think.

Getting down and dirty with their vintage cars is their greatest reward for bringing the old bangers to life.  The ability to race on one of the world’s oldest motor race tracks is getting old cars restored and fired up again all over Australia.

12 to 15 September ON A CLAYPAN 
NEAR KALGOORLIE, Western Australia

Lake Perkolilli is legendary amongst those who know about the outback origins of Australian motorsport.  The rock hard and billiard table smooth claypan was a Mecca for speed merchants who wanted to claim Australian speed records, and from 1914 through to 1939 many records were set by cars and motorcycles.

When around-the-houses motor racing came to Western Australia and the spectators did not need to trek the 600km to the Goldfields, Lake Perkolilli or “Perko” as it was called was forgotten and virtually abandoned. 

The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival from 12 to 16 September this year will resurrect the old natural track and re-live the glory days of motorsport.  The competitors will get their vehicles (which are all at least 80 years old) covered in thick red dust that seems to get ingrained into the paint so it never comes off.  The dust will seep into everything. “So what?” is their reaction!

They’ll camp in the bush — just like the racers of the 1920s and 1930s who trekked from Perth to test out their cars and bikes on what was called the “Brooklands of the West”.

Britain has its Goodwood Revival on a converted airfield, the USA has The Race of Gentleman on a beach and now Australia has the Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival on a claypan in the outback. 

The oldest cars at the Red Dust Revival will be Ford Model T speedsters.  The venerable Model T released to the world in 1909 was not known for speed but when the smart young mechanics of the era stripped them back and hotted-up the engines they were fast and loud. 

There will be Chrysler racers from the 1920s, replicas of the cars which set Australian 24 Hour Speed Records back in 1926 and 1927.  Austin Sevens, the original “Baby” Austins will compete head-to-head with more expensive and sophisticated cars such as Bentleys and Lagondas.

One car is even being shipped from the United Kingdom to be a part of the revival of motorsport at Perkolilli.

About 40 classic motorcycles will also race on the claypan for the first time since 1939. The great marques of the past such as BSA, AJS and Triumph will be well represented as well as obscure brands such as Corah which have been forgotten in time.  The “flat tank” racers with their black racing leathers and big singles or V-twins will add to the spectacle. 

Vintage aircraft will also fly up from Perth to the claypan just like the original era.

The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival is run by a group of enthusiasts from the vintage motorcycle and sports car fraternity who just want to experience the thrill of claypan racing.  To administer the event they formed the Lake Perkolilli Motor Sports Club Inc.  Everyone who enters the event with a car or motorcycle automatically becomes a member of this very exclusive bunch of people who can say that they have competed on one of the world’s oldest race track with exactly the same surface as a century ago.

The event is free to attend as a spectator and thanks to the City of Kalgoorlie/Boulder there is camping adjacent to the claypan and the most basic facilities.  And that is how it should be!  Camping in the bush and enjoying the smoke, smell and clatter of old race cars and bikes as they kick up the dust.

For more information go to www.motoringpast.com.au

10 May 2019

All-new BMW 8 Series Coupe and Convertible

BMW Group Australia is proud to announce local pricing and specification for the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe and Convertible range.

“The legendary BMW 8 series has made its return, and Australian markets will have access to two model variants this time – the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe and Convertible,” said BMW Group Australia CEO, Vikram Pawah.

“The classic Coupe body caters to customers who are seeking that classic sporting feel, and the Convertible provides an option for those who enjoy a premium open-air grand touring experience.”

“With the latest technology, supreme performance and sophisticated interior design, both variants will set the benchmark within the luxury sports segment and are a clear statement of intent for BMW. These vehicles are a fantastic demonstration of modern day luxury without compromising performance and handling.”

BMW 8 Series Convertible and Coupe range pricing*

BMW M850i xDrive Coupe $272,900*

BMW M850i xDrive Convertible $281,900*

What lies beneath: the new 4.4-litre V8 engine

At the heart of the all-new BMW M850i xDrive Coupe and Convertible sits a 4.4-litre V8 twin turbocharged petrol engine.

An all-new aluminium alloy crankcase increases rigidity while wire-arc sprayed iron features within the cylinder bores to reduce frictional losses. Grafal-coated pistons and material updates to connecting rods, main bearings, head gaskets and chain drive system ensure strength and efficiency. A viscous damper on the crankshaft enhances smoothness.

Both turbochargers are larger than before and feature a twin-scroll design and are individually charge-cooled. Located inside the vee, they are positioned for immediacy of response.

The High Precision direct fuel injection is rated at 350 bar, while VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing work in conjunction with the turbochargers to deliver strong acceleration throughout the rev range.

This thoroughly modern V8 generates peak power of 390kW between 5,500rpm and 6,000rpm, with an M5 Competition-matching 750Nm of torque delivered from 1,800rpm and 4,600rpm.

As a result, the BMW M850i Coupe is able to achieve 0-100km/h in only 3.7 seconds, with a guttural soundtrack to match, thanks to the standard flap-controlled Sport Exhaust system.

Similarly powered, the BMW M850i Convertible completes the standard sprint in just 3.9 seconds.

These impressive outputs are delivered through the latest generation eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. This is fitted with a wide-ratio gear set (ratio spread increased from 7.07 to 8.59) to ensure relaxed high speed driving and improved efficiency. For those times when ultimate control is demanded, shift paddles allow the driver to manage ratios as required.

SOURCE: BMW Australia media release

04 May 2019

MV Agusta: Rubles to the rescue

As with any Italian opera, there is always one more scene to script and so it is with iconic Italian marque, MV Agusta. Since we last featured MV Agusta in World, Signore

Castiglioni has brought Russian finance on board through Timur Sardarov’s Black Ocean Investment Group to form a new entity, MV Agusta Holding.

This welcome cash influx has allowed the highly desirable, 94-year-old brand to focus on limited production, high-end machines and the stunning MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro, unveiled to the public at the EICMA Show in Milan on November 4 last year, is one obvious result.

With just 300 units offered worldwide, this exquisite bike packs the 998cc inline four-cylinder powerplant derived from the company’s World Superbike Championship F4 RC racer. The naturally aspirated engine claims 155kW, making it the most powerful naked sports bike in the world, easily seeing off rivals such as BMW’s S 1000 R and KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R.

This new Brutale is adorned with stunning black, electronically-adjustable Öhlins forks and a competition TTX36 rear shock absorber. Stopping is courtesy Brembo Stylema brakes. Electronic wizardry includes an Inertial Measurement Unit which oversees traction, wheelie, launch and engine brake control. There’s ABS of course and MV’s bidirectional, clutchless quick-shift transmission. The whole works are gift-wrapped in a steel trellis frame decorated with gold aluminium side plates, a gold-painted swingarm and ultra-light carbon fibre rims.

At time of writing, a few were still available. The price? Don't expect change from AU$75,000

As published in WORLD Magazine - Autumn 2019

Bimota: Maestro Tamburini’s ‘Grand Vision’ blurred

More Italian Motodrama

Such is the Bimota saga, which began with the brand’s formation in 1973 when, like a recital from the three tenors, Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini came together to form a marque derived from the first two letters from each of their names: Bi-Mo-Ta.

Initially, the titanic trio worked on heavily customising the top bikes from leading Japanese makes and gradually moved to Ducati and BMW for the current crop of space-age machines.

But Bimota hit a major speed bump when their native-designed ‘V Due’ engine was recalled at the same time as they lost their Superbike sponsor, forcing the company into its first closure in 2003. Since then, the marque has been owned by prominent Scientologists, Marco Chiancianesi and Daniele Longoni who closed the factory in 2017 and moved all the components to Switzerland, or so it is said.

First presented at Milan’s EICMA in 2016, the Tesi 3D RaceCafé (pic above) employs Ducati’s air-cooled 803cc V-twin engine currently seen in the Ducati Scrambler and is limited to 150 units worldwide. The radical appearance is thanks to a distinctive Omega-type frame and its peculiar, hub-steering front suspension with mono-damper Öhlins. The whole package weighs a mere 162kg.

All that tribulation aside, a determined investor can still obtain a late model Tesi 3D on the collector market for around AU$50,000. New ones, although theoretically possible, are difficult to import, so be cautious.

When Bimota will play its grand finale, no one knows. But for now, at least, the value of these rare and desirable technical masterpieces remains solid.

As published in WORLD Magazine - Autumn 2019

07 March 2019

Mercedes-Benz classic 300 SL

The 300 SL, be it Roadster or Gullwing – is one of the most recognisable models in the history of Mercedes-Benz.

First introduced with trademark ‘Gullwing’ doors, and often considered as the first real ‘supercar’, the 300 SL proved hugely popular and so was later developed as an open roadster.

a 1960 Roadster, previously owned by German industrialist, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, of the Krupp steel dynasty

The evolution of the 300 SL began with imported car impresario, Max Hoffman. When Mercedes-Benz won the Carrera Panamericana (a border-to-border road race across Mexico, held from 1950-1954) in 1952 with a W 194 300 SL coupé, Hoffman seized the moment to approach the marque with a radical idea: take the racing-derived tube frame W194, with its high performance 3-litre engine, and create a road-going sports car aimed at the upper end of the aspiring US sports car market.

Mercedes-Benz, still valiantly trying to shake off the devastation of the war and the weak European market, took him up on the idea, and the 300 SL was born.

This historic 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing sold for more than a million dollars at Sotheby's

Improvements to the 300 SL's usability were made throughout, yet it was still clear that this model was derived from a racing car. As aerodynamics played an important role in the car's speed, the Mercedes-Benz engineers would place horizontal "eyebrows" over the wheel openings to reduce drag. With fully independent suspension, a close-ratio gearbox with straight cut gears and the first direct fuel injection system with four-stroke engine ever offered in a production automobile, the 300 SL was a technological tour-de-force. When introduced in coupé form to the US market at the 1954 New York Auto Show, it became an instant sensation.

The Mercedes-Benz Museum charts the entire history of the world’s oldest car manufacturer. A total of 1,500 exhibits are featured in the museum, including 160 vehicles.

04 March 2019

Ford Mustang shines on debut

The Ford Performance Mustang Supercar has completed its first full weekend of racing in the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with a successful showing at the Superloop Adelaide 500. Ushering in a new era for Ford and Ford Performance in Australia, Mustang teams Shell V-Power Racing, Tickford Racing and 23Red Racing all showed strong performances, with Mustang claiming its maiden victory and the lap record at the famed Adelaide street circuit.

27 February 2019

Nigel Paterson to edit Australian Road Rider from Issue 151

Paterson has worked on numerous motorcycle magazines, websites and even a motorcycle TV show since he joined the publishing industry at Revs Motorcycle News in the 1990s.

“I’m super keen to get started on Road Rider”, Paterson said. “Greg’s done a fantastic job with ARR in recent years and I’m planning to continue that great work.

“I’ve been a road rider since I was 16 years old and enjoy everything from sports to touring to adventure and even commuting. I’ve worked on a number of bike magazines over the years and I’m really happy to be joining the team at ARR.”

Australian Road Rider has been inspiring Aussies to get out there and see their country and the world from the saddle of a bike, publishing the best road tests, tour stories and feature articles every second month.

Paterson will take over the editor’s role from issue 151. Officially he starts on March 1, but he’s already making preparations and plans for the magazine.

If you have any editorial submissions you can contact Nigel directly on or npaterson@umco.com.au.

It is from issue 150 that we farewell outgoing editor Greg Leech. Greg, otherwise affectionately known to the Australian Road Rider community as Snag, has decided to pass the baton to Nigel to pursue other interests. Snag has been the ultimate professional as editor over the last 3 years leaving ARR in a strong position as the leading voice for the road riding enthusiasts of Australia. Whilst we will be sad to see him go we can still look forward to him spinning a few yarns in his distinct style as a contributor in the not too distant future.

“I have loved every minute of my time with ARR. I believe it is the premier bike mag in the country, but I would say that. Seriously, I wish Nige the best of luck and hope he'll let me write a thing or two!" – Greg Leech

20 February 2019

Australian Road Rider super value subscriptions

All round saving on all of our Australian Road Rider offers!
Whether you're willing to join us for 6, 12 or 24 months
- you'll be saving money and enjoying all things Road Rider.

Grab it while it's hot- you won't get a better offer than this

04 January 2019

New DRIRIDER Adventure boot.

On test in the New England High Country
Roll into the parking lot at any of your favourite bike stops and do a quick survey of riding gear. Who’s wearing what? Boots, jackets, gloves et al. I’m putting $50 on the bench right now that of the dozens of riders and pillions mingling around with their steaming lattes, more than half are sporting a piece of DriRider kit. In fact, I’ll go further and assert that many will be DriRider from head to toe.

There’s a good reason for this. For 35 years, DRIRIDER has protected Aussie riders with such high-quality apparel and accessories as thermals, boots, gloves, luggage and (since 2015) helmets. Designed specifically for our weather conditions and made for a true Australian fit (he says looking at his waistline).

Our latest piece of test kit is the brand new for 2019 Adventure C1 boot. Straight out of the box they look on the money and fit like a glove, secured by three, easily adjustable, quick-release fasteners and Velcro. I like the way they immediately feel safe and confident. Inside is a replaceable antibacterial liner, breathable with reinforced heel and toe area plus an ankle protector to EU standard (CE EN13634).

Mid-cut C2 in brown
The exterior is full grain leather with water-repellent suede upper with tough-as-nails moulded shin plate protection. You can bet they are water-, mud- and cow shit-proof too.

The same essential style is also available in a mid-cut (C2), with both also coming in brown if that’s your thing.

You’ll find them at your favourite gear outlet at an RRP of $299 for the full height or $249 for the middie.