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 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.
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