2000 TARGA TASMANIA TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS IN A NAGARI.
By Peter Jones
Here’s a short story written after things calmed down after our aborted attempt at Targa Tasmania 2000. B8/76 is now in the care of Peter S. of SA
and I hope he doesn’t mind me relating some of the past trials and tribulations of Bolwell ownership.
Anyway……..to TARGA 2000
This was the sixth year to see us making the pilgrimage to TARGA and to date had achieved varying results. Targa plate in ’95, crashed out in ’96,
Targa plate in ’97, ’98 and ‘99 giving us a Gold Targa Plate in ’99 and becoming the first Bolwell to achieve a Gold plate by doing so.
So with all that under the belt and with me being navigator for all those years I thought it was about time I had a drive.
Then it was just a matter of working through the development list. This saw the motor and gearbox out, just for a look, and back in after a $5,000 rebuild.
Gee it’s good to have something to spend one’s money on. Then a revamp of the front suspension geometry to get some more camber and caster adjustment.
While this was going on we just happened to notice that the lower ball joint plates were beginning to rip out of the lower arms and the journals that hold
the inner bushes were becoming out of round. Fixed all that. Then we looked at the rear suspension, again. The plan this year was to finally get rid of the
angled top arms and put some parallel arms on with a Watts linkage. At the same time we rolled the diff so as to get a better pinion angle.
This meant cutting out the bottom of the tunnel and moving the lower shock mounts, but we got all that done.
Then the test driving began. You might recall there were a few cyclones visiting North Queensland early in the year. The first test drive saw us land in the
middle of a stretch of water which shouldn’t have been there. It poured in from everywhere, floor, doors, vents etc and we ended up sitting in water laughing like drains.
Gave a new definition to "bucket" seats and I’m sure the tourists sitting on the bulbar of their 4WD waiting to cross took an interesting story back to Germany.
Next test drive saw the fuel pump let go on the oil side which sprayed oil all over the inside of the left hand headers.
Next test drive had the LHR brake pipe fracture with resulting loss of brakes.
Next test drive saw smoke escape from the wiring to the starter solenoid which picked its moment to give up the ghost.
Then we were ready. The Nagari left Cairns just before Easter, fully stickered and ready to go, with plenty of time for the transport company to get it to Melbourne.
Flew into Melbourne on the Friday and arrived at the transport company at about 11:00 am.
“Hi, we’ve come to pick up a Bolwell, rego 367OXB”
“Yes sir, just sign here. Someone will bring it around shortly.”
“Mind if I go out the back and get it myself?”
“No, certainly. Just follow this gentleman here.”
Go out the back to a large holding area with various Targa cars getting onloaded and offloaded and just sitting around in the rain.
“You here to pick up the Bolwell?”
“Yep! Sure are.” [lots of enthusiasm]
“You going in Targa?”
“Yep! Sure are.” [lots of enthusiasm]
“It hasn’t got many stickers on it.” [hmmm, perhaps he is being sarcastic as car is covered]
“Well, it did have when it left Cairns.” [lots of enthusiasm]
“Here you go.”
As we turn into a shed I am confronted with a black MK 7, totally devoid of any stickers and looking a little forlorn.
“Nope, that’s not the one.” [lots of enthusiasm]
[pregnant pause] [worried expression] “Are you sure?”
Half an hour later…… “We’re looking for your car. It may have been taken down to the port with other Targa cars.”
Half an hour later…… “We’re still looking for your car, we don’t know where it is.”
Half an hour later…… “We’ve found your car. It’s in Sydney.”
Apparently the MK7 had been in Melbourne getting some work done and was to be shipped to Sydney. So instead of picking up that one
(the one with no stickers on it whatsoever) they took the one that had Targa TASMANIA all over it instead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To their credit, the transport company did everything right from there on in and we ended up getting the car from Burnie on the Sunday. 24 hours late,
but at least we were in the event.
The prologue at Georgetown was slippery for us. 100 cars went through in the dry and then about 30 cars including us scored a rain shower. Then it dried again.
A fairly poor time which would seed us further towards the front of the field than I would have liked, but at least we were in the event. I met up with Peter Ulrich
and his daughter and swapped tales about how wet roads and Nagaris (don’t) mix. Did I listen? No.
By lunchtime the next day we were out of the event.
Wet road, overcast, shadows, 4th gear, curve left, stepped out, full lock right, slide for a looonnng time, use gum tree to stop – bugger!
We were lucky. We hit the tree with the RHF wheel on full lock, square across the tread. The force was in line with the chassis rail and resulted in tearing the
front lower control arm pivot point out, folded the rear leg of the lower control arm at 90 degrees and then ripped it off, tore the ball joint out of the top control arm,
pulled the end out of the steering rack and pushed the wheel up into the footwell – bugger.
“You OK Ron?” [calm, but not much enthusiasm]
“Yeah. You OK?” [also calm, also not much enthusiasm]
“Yeah, I’m OK…..oh, no I’m not. My feet are trapped.”
Got my right foot out and really pulled on the left as I felt some movement there. Really pulled hard and the left foot came out. Slumped back in the seat
and then saw some flames out of the top of the engine bay. Unclipped fire extinguisher and handed it through the window to Ron and then exited stage left,
over the tunnel and out the LH door.
Stood up and then thought that my ankles were really sore.
Sat down. Rub ankles. Grass really cold and wet.
Sat down. Ankles REALLY sore.
Ron [fire now out] and a spectator helped me across the road.
“Are you OK? You’re a funny colour.” [concerned voice of helpful spectator]
“Yeah, I’m right.” [rubbing ankles but giving up and lying down]
“Do you blokes come from North Queensland?” [concerned voice of helpful spectator]
“Yeah.” [really not interested, ankles REALLY hurt]
“Well if you come from North Queensland, I really don’t think you should be that colour. How about a cup o’ tea?”
And that was that. Two broken ankles, one worse than the other. Exit Tasmania stage left.
First 24 hours – “I never want to be involved in motorsport again. I don’t even want to watch it on TV. I can’t dig a hole big enough to bury the Bolwell in.
I will take up knitting.”
Second 24 hours – “ I will sell the Bolwell and buy something made out of metal. Maybe I can do Targa again.”
Third 24 hours – “Out of all these old car magazines you’d think I would be able to find SOMEthing that puts a grin on my face like the Nagari.”
Fourth 24 hours – “ Nah, she’ll be right. Just get it back up here and fix it. It’ll be better than ever. Soon as I get out of this wheelchair I’ll be right on it.”
But next year I will take an umbrella. This is a very important piece of equipment for ALL Nagaris for wet road driving.
The idea is that you sit on your right foot and just give the throttle a jab with the umbrella every now and again………………………..
Peter Jones & Ron Cheeseman.