Historic Car Brands
The Bolwell story began in the early 1960s, with Campbell Bolwell’s dream to design and build sports cars – a dream that became a reality when he built his first fibreglass sports car at age 16.
A 15-year-old Campbell Bolwell bought a 1937 Ford V8 sedan for $100 and his brother Graeme decided to take the car for a run in the forest, instead of going to school one day. The panels were damaged so badly that Campbell decided to replace them with moulded fibreglass and, in doing so, created the Bolwell Mk1. Little did he know that his experimenting with the ‘new technology’ of moulded fibreglass would grow to become Bolwell Corporation of today.
In 1962, after developing hands-on fibreglass moulding skills, Campbell turned his custom sports car hobby into a business. The Bolwell Mk 4 was his first commercial model that sold more than 200 units.
Bolwell Cars went on to create five different commercial models – 800 cars in total – and in so doing earned a place in Australia’s automotive history.
From cars, Bolwell diversified into other fibreglass products and quickly became known for excellence in fibreglass and composites manufacture – sought-after by customers that included smaller Australian businesses through to larger international transport and marine companies.
The Mk IV was a kit car, offered as a coupe with gull wing doors and as an open sports car. Over 200 were produced between 1962 and 1964.
Mk V coupes were produced between 1964 and 1966, using mostly Holden components and 75 were sold.
The Mk VI, also known as the SR6, was a one off mid-engined sports racing car built in 1968.
Bolwell Mk VII – Gavin-Anderson
The Mk VII coupe was produced between 1967 and 1971, mostly as kits but also in fully built form. Some 400 examples of this model were sold. Later kits from around 1969 onwards were built by Kadala Cars for Bolwell. Last version cars had Nagari Dash and gauges, Nagari Seats, Nagari pedal box and Nagari style rear suspension linkages.
Nagari is an aboriginal word meaning ‘flowing’ and the Bolwell Nagari, also known as the Mk VIII, was the company’s first full production sports car with 100 coupes and 18 convertibles made.
Bolwell Nagari – Falcadore
It was manufactured from 1970 to 1974 and became the best known of the nine Bolwell car designs. The Nagari featured a Ford 302 or 351 cubic inch V8 engine mounted in a 920kg, 2280m-wheelbase body and backbone chassis. Suspension components also came from Ford and the steering was from the Austin 1800.
The Nagari was a popular choice of production sports car in the early ‘70s, competing in the Australian Sports Car Championship (ASCC). Peter Warren won the 1975 Australian Tourist Trophy for Production Sports Cars driving a Bolwell Nagari.
The MkIX Bolwell was the kit-car, Ikara model. It had step-over sills instead of doors and it had a mid-engined VW Golf 1600cc OHC engine and four-speed box. The engine could be tuned to produce up to 180hp, giving this lightweight rocket phenomenal performance.
Bolwell MkIX Ikara – Wayne Schiller
In late 2006 a new, carbon fibre-bodied, reborn ‘Nagari’ was previewed at the Sydney and Melbourne Motor Shows. It was a mid-engined two-seater coupé with a carbon-fibre tub, front and rear subframes and a carbon-reinforced composite body.
Power came from a tuned Toyota Aurion 2GR-FE 3.5-litre V6 engine was available either naturally aspirated or fitted with an optional Sprintex supercharger. Initially the new Nagari was available with a six-speed automatic but a six-speed manual transmission was later developed. Prices started around $150,000 for a basic model, and could range up to $260,000 for a top-spec model with supercharged engine.