Category Archives: Holden

More on Bathurst models

By Mick Haven

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

As an avid collector of Australian models, I currently have around 210 across three scales, I read the contribution from Frank Koh/Karl Schnelle about the Trax Holden Commodore with interest. Although I’ve got a reasonable number of Trax models, this is one I haven’t got. I first started collecting them because of a number of trips ‘down under’.

The floodgates opened with 1:43 scales when I started collecting road cars, the first one in 2002. This was Biante’s Holden VT Concept car in blue/black. Its stablemate, the mustard gold example would follow sometime later. These were a real eye opener. They had a fully detailed interior and chassis, and steerable front wheels! At just $55 Australian Dollars they cost me about 25 UK Pounds. Astonishing! I’d never seen anything like them. The real car, a two door coupe based on Holden’s popular Commodore four door saloon, was shown at the 1998 Sydney Motor Show for no other reason than to test public reaction for a production consideration. Reaction was positive to say the least. Production began and it would be released in 2001. It would be known by the resurrected name, Monaro, although Holden‘s designation was CV-8, appertaining to Coupé V8. VT was the designation for the range of Commodore models in production at the time.

The year before, i.e. 2001, in a model shop in a Melbourne suburb I had bought for the measly sum of 59 Australian Dollars a ‘Classic Carlectables‘, 1:18 scale Ford Falcon V8 Supercar. “Classic Carlectables”, I asked myself, “who the devil are they”? I’d never heard of them, neither had I heard of Biante, Trax, Dinkum Classics or any other home grown brands. Although basic by comparison to today’s excellent offerings from Carlectables, they were superb and like nothing I had seen before. They were easily on a par with or better than, the popular brands we were more used to here in the UK at that time. V8 Supercars was something else I knew little about back then. That would change. I kept in touch with the shop, who put by two more for me, at a very reasonable, ‘two for $100’ due to my impending return in 2002. With the exchange rate at around two to the pound, they represented astonishing value. From then onwards, I was trawling the ‘net almost daily for them, getting them from model shops down there, and also from car dealerships, either by visiting them while on holiday or from their web site. many car dealers had a stock of model cars equal to many a hobby shop, although as you would expect they were only relevant to the brand of car, i.e Ford or Holden. To offer models from ‘the opposition’ is treason, a hanging offence, well almost. They would also stock a superb range of clothing and other memorabilia, none of which were or are available here.

In 2011, it was suggested to me that I collect models of all the winners from the Bathurst 500 (miles) as it was from 1963 until 1973, when it would become the ‘1000‘, as in kilometres, which it still is. After my initial reticence had subsided, I set about the task in hand, as I already had some, along with models of cars from the A.T.C.C., the Australian Touring Car Championship. I currently need seven models to complete the set from 1963 to 2017. Unfortunately, the set is unlikely to ever be completed, either because a certain car has not been made, or if one has, because they are rare and consequently too expensive for me to buy even if found. Those wanted are Holden Commodores from 1993 and 1995, the 1997 B.M.W. 320i, Holden Commodores from 2001,2003,2004 and 2017. The 1993 and 1995 winners were produced by Classic Carlectables but only in 1:18 scale. Although they did release a model similar to the winning car, it is not, the winner. The B.M.W. raced to victory by David and Geoff Brabham, sons of the great, Sir Jack, is unlikely to be released, due, apparently, to no manufacturer wanting to take a gamble on the possibility of poor sales. The BMW won at the time of the European touring car invasion in the 1990s, which didn’t sit well with die hard Ford and Holden fans. The winners from 2001, 2003 and 2004 have been released, but are hard to find, are very expensive if they are found, and the seller, usually in Australia, quite often won’t post to the UK. The 2003 car can be found in 1:64 scale but like the 1:18 models, would be out of context in a cabinet full of 1:43 scale models.

I’m not aware of the 2017 winning Holden being released thus far, and I haven’t heard as yet if one will be. I hope so because 2018 is final year in the epic battles between the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, dating back to 1967, the year which was a victory for ‘The Blue Oval’ with the first ever win for a car with a V8 engine. It will be a tad ironic if the last ever race between the two protagonists is also won by a Falcon, which currently heads the V8 Supercars championship.

 

This year I have added three more winners, all of which were must haves. The first two, which arrived back in May, are the late great Peter Brock‘s 1972 Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1, and Dick Johnson’s fearsome Sierra RS 500 from 1989.

The third model is another Peter Brock car, his 1982 Holden Commodore VH. This would be his third win out of a record nine times.

The model is the ACE Commodore referred to.

 

The Torana and the Sierra are by the former Apex Models and the Commodore is from Ace Models, a brand written about in a previous MAR by Graeme Ogg. Apex have recently been taken over by Biante, so I expect some interesting models forthcoming from that amalgamation. A word of thanks to Graeme Ogg for introducing me to Ace Models, a name I wasn’t aware of until he wrote about them in MAR. I subsequently ordered one of their superb Falcon BA Utes from Gateway, my favourite Australian dealer.

 

One other Aussie which came this year is a model of Dick Johnson’s 1985 Greens Tuf Bathurst Mustang. Although the car wasn’t a winner, it’s an excellent example of the type. The model was professionally built for me from an Automodelli kit, sourced here in the UK from Grand Prix Models. At the time of writing, I’m waiting on the release of another Automodelli Dick Johnson Mustang, his J.P.S. liveried car from the Wellington 500 in 1986, although no doubt it will be the Greens Tuf casting, with J.P.S. decals added. Can’t wait. So, as for the remaining Bathurst winners, I don’t hold out much hope of ever completing the set. Fortunately, those I have got, along with the A.T.C.C. cars, make a fine collection and have given hours of satisfaction finding and collecting them.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Bathurst Holden Commodore

By Frank Koh

Here’s an Australian racing legend that looked a lot like an Opel Rekord, but this Holden was capable of doing great things that four and six cylinder Opels could never have dreamed of. The Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon were domestic-engineered, locally-built high performance V8 muscle cars that dominated the road racing scene in Australia (and neighboring New Zealand).

While at present there are no more Australian-built V8 muscle cars, Australian diecast brand Trax Models immortalizes these iconic vehicles in 1/43 scale.  Along with competitors Biante Models and Classic Carlectables, the Australian model car scene is bustling with activity, and there are many exclusive-to-Australia-and-New-Zealand diecast and resin miniatures that embody the unbridled passion for performance that the cars from that part of the world possess.

This 1984 Holden VH Commodore was a formidable, if not exceptionally colorful, competitor at the Bathurst racing circuit in Australia. Trax Models released this beautiful car as part of its line of 1/43 scale cars that raced at Bathurst. Today the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) remains one of the most popular racing series, but with the closure of the Holden factory last year, the era of the Australian-Built V8 Powered Muscle Car has come to an end.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Australian Jottings

by Graeme Ogg                                                     July 2014

A little while back I saw some photos of an interesting 1:43 1959 Australian Ford Fairlane which was being offered on eBay. Unfortunately the model was photographed in its box, making it hard to see some of the detail. I found the website of the maker, Ace Models (www.acemodelcars.com) and just for fun I contacted them to ask if they had any decent photos. It turned out that the owner, Tony Hanna, knew me from my scribbling days in MAR and was happy to provide some background info.

He spend 20 years working as a pattern-maker for Trax, but has also produced models on his own account, like the Holden Torana GTR-X Concept and a Broadspeed Mini, under the Modelcraft Miniatures and Revolution names. Ace Models is his latest independent venture. He supplied me with the Fairlane shown here in pale blue and white resin. The brightwork is a mix of photo-etching and adhesive chrome strip (like a kind of very heavy-duty Bare Metal Foil).

 

He was very honest about the fact that he would like to improve some small details. For example the rear amber indicator lamps (which were white reversing lamps on US cars) are a little too large. He also hoped to improve some of the trim pieces. But as you can see, it is a pretty attractive model as it stands, and there are plenty of resin models on the market with more serious detail faults – and not a word from their makers about correcting them!

Some of the first examples went to a well-known Australian model shop, Gateway Models, so to us foreign buyers it looked like they were the only game in town, as the Ace website doesn’t show them. But in the meantime Tony had been approached by Trax and offered a deal, with the result that they took the rest of the first production batch. Suddenly, the model is on the front page of the latest Trax mini-catalogue. They don’t actually claim it is a Trax model, it is meant as a stop-gap until the next real Trax models come along. Apparently it is part of the deal that the additional stocks now being produced will keep the model in its original form, without any changes, so if an enhanced version eventually appears, it will come out under the Ace Models name. In the meantime he is working on a 1959 Fairlane station wagon in both Australian and US versions, to be followed by a 1959 Dodge Custom Royal four-door and 1960 Dodge Phoenix four-door (both cars were imported CKD from the States, so they will effectively be the US versions). I don’t know at the moment if these will also be marketed by Trax, or independently under the Ace brand.

He also mentioned that other forthcoming items this year include a 1966 Chevy Nova, initially in sedan racing form for Australian race fans, then in a civilian version for world-wide sales, a New Avengers Broadspeed Jaguar XJC (complete with John Steed figure!) and a Goggomobil Dart, which was a diminutive but surprisingly pretty Australian fibreglass-bodied sports car. It was based on the what is of course acknowledged to be one of the finest sports car chassis of its generation, the Glas Goggomobil microcar.

Tony is currently looking for overseas distributors in the UK and elsewhere. In the current overcrowded market he will have to come up with models that fill a gap and catch the imagination, at an acceptable price. Brave man; I guess we should wish him well.

The fact that the banner at the top of the Trax catalogue says Getting Trax back on track … is quite revealing. Without getting into personalities, it seems that the management changes at the top were a bit turbulent, and model planning and commissioning got somewhat sidetracked in the process. That was compounded by production delays and erratic deliveries from China, which cannot have helped the cashflow situation either. And just like MAR before it went digital, there are ongoing concerns about the impact of increased postal charges.

 

Tony reckons this whole upheaval cost them about a year of normal operations. There haven’t been many really new models, the only new item showing on their website for the past few months has been a re-hash of the old 1:24 Chrysler Charger. And they seemed to be pushing their luck with too many versions of the very nice Holden Statesman in the Opal series (basically just grille and colour variations) and may be struggling to unload them all. Then they pulled a real stunt with the Holden Trax LTZ mini-MPV, requiring Trax fans to cough up AU$100 dollars advance payment, with the balance of another 30 dollars or so payable when (or if) it eventually emerged. After some production problems it is now on release, which must be a relief, although unlike their usual limited specials not all were sold out in advance, so they are now on offer to all comers for a mere AU$99. Those who paid up front for the exclusive must be really happy. Available in eight colour choices each model comes with a cheap digital watch with a plastic strap matching your colour choice. (If that doesn’t break your resistance, nothing will). By the way, this SUV was apparently designed by Opel in Germany, mainly styled by Ford in the US but, oddly enough, with the nose and grille style contributed by Holden, and it is built in South Korea. There will also be Chevy Trax, Opel Mokka and Suzuki Kruze versions.

The mini-catalogue shows a couple of other forthcoming models, a Surfer Roo, which was a one-off built by Ford in 1969 based on an XW ute, and a Holden Commodore Walkinshaw Group A racer built by Holden Special Vehicles in 1988. Both models are resin, and look a little rough in the photos but Tony confirms they are mock-ups he produced some time ago and should be much better in production form. Whether they are of much interest to many people outside Australia is another matter.

 

It seems that much of Trax future production will be resin, and apparently at twice the price of their old-style diecast models. I don’t know how well that will go down with their traditional buyers, or maybe they have decided that casual demand for models of Oz family favourites is dwindling, and they are now catering to a hard core of serious buyers.

Another new string to their bow is that they seem to have joined forces with Century Dragon and are offering a 1:43 resin Land Rover (made from 166 parts) for AU$149 and a Toyota Land Cruiser (made from 266 parts) for AU$165. Again, not your usual pocket money model from Trax, but a lot of parts for your money.

Speaking personally, I thought they struck the best balance between the simple diecasts and the expensive Select models with their Opal series, which had nice quality and a distinctive style. But there you are.

Let’s hope they manage to get their act back together. There are still things to be done. A note at the back of the catalogue says COMING SOON … Things We Missed from the Past and Aussi Icons (Gee, I thought they’d done all those). We shall see what emerges.


We welcome your comments and questions.  Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.