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Performance News - 22 February 2000

First Real Tin Top, Stove-Hot GTP Formula, Quickies

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First Real Tin Top

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Continuing No.8 in a series of 52 interesting facts about Ford Australia to celebrate its 75th Anniversary Year....

Today we take it for granted that our sedans and hatchbacks have a solid steel roof, but it wasn't always the case. Ford introduced the steel body to passenger cars in Australia in 1935 but the roof was still a fabric section as the technology for pressing a complete curved steel top wasn't yet available. In 1937, however, Ford Australia imported a new hydraulic press which enabled it to press the complete roof in one piece. The 1937 Model 78 was the first Australian-built car to have this modern innovation. The new car also boasted headlights built into the mudguards similar to those on the luxury Lincoln Zephyr that Ford had imported for Managing Director Hubert French. The new V8 engine used the aluminium heads which were also a feature of the Lincoln and which boosted power to 95 horsepower.

Stove-Hot GTP Formula

The world's fastest GT production sports cars will compete in Australia this year in the new Century Batteries GTP Nation's Cup motor racing series. Cars such as the 310 km/h Porsche 911 GT3, the Ferrari F360 Modena, Lamborghini Diablo, BMW Z3, Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar XKR and Honda NSX will be on the grid when the eight-round series starts in Adelaide on April 8-9.

GTP Nation's Cup and Australian GT Production Car Championship cars will each run in separate races at rounds of the Shell Championship Series and at other events throughout Australia, including Bathurst's Mount Panorama. PROCAR Australia has nominated 21 specific models as eligible to compete in the GTP Nation's Cup, and these vehicles are permitted certain performance-enhancing mdifications.

The GT Production Car Championship will continue to compete in an eight-round series, opening in Perth on March 19, plus non-championship events at Phillip Island this weekend and Bathurst in November. It features five revised classes, emphasising GTP's special relevance to popular road cars.


  • Astre Automotive, Australia's leading passenger car importer and distributor of the Hyundai and Audi brands, has purchased a ten per cent stake in Autobytel Australia, a new automotive e-commerce joint venture comprising major partners and the St George Bank.
  • Holden exports surged dramatically in 1999, eclipsing the previous year's figures and contributing A$955 million to Australia's balance of trade. In a year where total automotive industry exports grew by 23 per cent, Holden vehicle exports led the charge. Last year's total of 22,965 vehicles (valued at A$543 million) represented a remarkable 235 per cent increase over 1998, when Holden exported 9,774 vehicles. Despite the slow recovery in Asian markets, exports of Holden four-cylinder engines in 1999 (191,815 units) exceeded the 1998 total by just over 40,000 units and generated $350 million in export revenue.

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