My Muscle Car AMC readers show us their muscle cars.
What is it?
“That’s what most people ask me. It’s a 1972 Bolwell Nagari Coupe. It’s number 71 of 120 built right here in Melbourne. They were all front-mounted Ford V8, Ford running gear and Ford rear axle. The steel Y chassis was Bolwelldesigned and built, as was the breglass body. When I tell people that it was designed and built in Melbourne in the late 1960s many people don’t believe me.”
When did you buy it?
“I bought it on September 26, 1998.”
Why did you buy it?
“As a young kid in love with cars, I dreamt of owning a Ferrari. As I grew into my teens, I started to hear the horror stories of Ferrari service costs and repair bills. It was sobering. The dream faded and nally disappeared. In 1980 I was at uni studying Mechanical Engineering. A friend asked me if I would go with him to visit his friend, Fred, who was working on his car at home. We turned up to a typical suburban home. At the end of a long driveway was a garage and poking out of that garage was the nose of a Nagari. I looked at that car and thought to myself, ‘It looks like a Ferrari, but has Falcon mechanicals. Can’t be expensive to run or maintain.’ A new love affair started. I drew Nagari after Nagari, imagining what mine would look like. The lusting continued but life, wife and mortgages conspired to keep it just that – a dream. Fast forward to 1998, I’m at home casually thumbing through the Saturday
Age car classifieds and see ‘Bolwell Nagari for sale’. At the insistence of my wife, I called the Healey factory in Melbourne and yes, they had a Nagari and it was for sale. We drove out there and looked at the car of my dreams. After a drive and a bit of chin rubbing, I signed the papers. It was mine!”
What do you know about its history?
“Not a great deal. It’s hard to know what any car started life as and what modifications were made along the way before you owned it, let alone a limited production one like the Nagari. At various times in its life, my Nagari has had a 302 Windsor, was painted orange and before that red. Someone told me that they thought it had a six-cylinder in it at one time. When I bought the Nagari, it had a 302 Windsor. I always liked the Ford racing Cleveland alloy valve covers
and wanted them on my car. Everyone I spoke to said that it was an easy swap. After all, that was what a Boss motor was (Windsor block with Cleveland heads). Trouble was that all the inlet manifolds available were the high rise type and that wouldn’t t under the Nagari bonnet. Eventually, a wise man told me, “If you want Cleveland valve covers, put a Cleveland in it”. An engine swap would only take a weekend, two weekends tops... right? As luck would have it, my chassis was the later Cleveland type so it would t without modification. Well, after my best friend Fred donated blood, sweat and two years of his spare time, it drove out of the garage with shiny new alloy valve covers sitting on a new 351 Cleveland. As well as a new radiator, rebuilt toploader, new drop tank and many, many more tweaks. And yes, that’s the same Fred who started my love affair with Nagaris back in 1980.”
How does it go?
“That’s usually the second question people ask me. When you tell them it runs a 351 Cleveland and a toploader, people look at how small it is and how light it must be (same size as the rst generation Mazda MX5 but 200kg lighter) their eyes open wide. My usual answer is: ‘It’s ludicrous!’”
Anything you’d like to add?
Nothing wakes you up more than slipping in behind the wheel and going for a drive. All your worries and gripes just melt away. I drive it most weekends. I’m not precious about getting it dirty. I was a member of the Bolwell Car Club long before I even owned one. They have regular events and I enjoy taking the car for a run with them, or one of the many Facebook cruise nights or even just out for a cruise on my own. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Nagari and we will be meeting at the Phillip Island Classic, Historic racing meeting (8-10 March 2019) where Bolwell will be the ‘Marque of the Meet’. There will be Bolwells from all over Australia there for the weekend. It will, without doubt, be the largest collection of Bolwells ever in one place. I am looking forward to being there and meeting fellow enthusiasts, including current and past Bolwell owners and Bolwell lovers. Hopefully many of you will come and join us. Drop by and say hello.” [ ED: You can contact the club’s Fred Podner via bolwellcar[email protected]]
Vic Garra Car: 1972 Bolwell Nagari Hometown: Melbourne,Victoria