Wheels October 2021

Wheels is Australia’s original motoring magazine. Launched in 1953, we’ve been trusted by generations of Australians to provide entertaining and forthright opinions on the good, the bad and the ugly of new and used cars. A world-class car mag with a formidable international reputation, Wheels covers the full gamut of cars – from sports cars to four-wheel-drives, economy to family cars – but it also covers the people, personalities and the power plays behind one of the world’s most dynamic industries.

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in this issue

3 min

“BE CAREFUL OF this thing, grasshopper,” said my Editor at the time. “It’s loose”. It was 2008 and into my very youthful hands were dropped the keys to a Toyota TRD Hilux; 5.3 metres and 1855kg of high-riding, leaf-sprung-rear supercharged behemoth. Sporting a not-too-concerning 225kW and 453Nm from its 4.0-litre blown petrol V6, power reached the bitumen via 265-section, slightly-more-concerning all-terrain tyres. For my first blat in not just a hotted-up Hilux but a dual-cab ute altogether, the meteorologists at the Bureau in Sydney had forecast beautiful sunny weather, meaning therefore it was raining so hard someone somewhere was surely loading an ark. At my first roundabout not 100 metres up the road, I was winding on opposite lock and thinking I’d be scooping my eyeballs out of the footwell as…

3 min
twin-turbo z gets set to rip

IT’S ONE of the most hotly-anticipated sports cars of the year – and when the covers finally came off the Nissan Z in recent weeks, it did not disappoint. Although we’d seen its design before, the final production vehicle is nearly physically identical to the Z Prototype design study upon which it’s based. A rarity in this day and age. After months of speculation, the Japanese marque confirmed the Z will be powered by its VR30DDTT powerplant – borrowed from the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport – which provides a decent power and torque increase over the outgoing 370Z. While the 3.7-litre naturally-aspirated V6 in the old car could manage 253kW and 371Nm, the new 3.0-litre twin-turbo punches out 298kW at 6400rpm and a solid 475Nm between 1600 and 5600rpm. Sticking with the classic twodoor,…

1 min
evolution of nissan’s icon

1969 Datsun 240ZX The 240Z – or Nissan S30 or Fairlady Z as it was also called – was, on paper, fairly conventional. A 2.4-litre straight six in a rear-drive coupe, though later 2.6 and 2.8 engines came in 260Z and 280Z guise. 1978 Datsun 280ZX Essentially a redesign to follow on from the 280Z (from which its drivetrain came), the ZX powered into the 1980s with turbochargers for some later models. Paul Newman famously raced a 280ZX. 1984 Nissan Z31 300ZX More aerodynamic and now with V6 power instead of in-line engines, the Z31 brought more power to the Zed, but also became heavier and duller, approaching the 1500kg mark at its portliest. 1989 Nissan Z32 300ZX A fine-driving return to form for the model: stiffer, lighter, and offered in both atmo and turbocharged guises. Its tail-lights provide the styling…

2 min
acdelco moves on old holden turf

THE HOLDEN name is becoming closer to extinction in Australia as General Motors seeks to start up a new offshoot business which will eventually take over from the remnants of the lion and stone. After the withdrawal of Holden from the Australian marketplace at the start of the year, only its service centres remain as a reminder of what was once the most successful local brand Down Under. While General Motors still has an affiliation with the Holden service centres, it is beginning the process of putting distance between it and its former manufacturing arm by opening separate service centres under the ACDelco brand. An amalgamation of AC spark plugs and Delco spare parts, the General Motors subsidiary isn’t new to Australia, having sold batteries and other genuine items through suppliers over recent…

1 min
dealers versus fcai

FRESH FRANCHISING REFORMS affecting car dealerships have divided the industry. The Federal Government has released a new discussion paper outlining its plans to introduce a standalone code of conduct and mandatory binding arbitration. While the proposed changes are welcomed by the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), the Federal Chamber for Automotive Industries (FCAI) says the reforms don’t focus enough on consumers. James Voortman, AADA CEO says, “The release of this discussion paper marks another significant step in reforming the imbalances which exist between dealers and some manufacturers. “We believe this provides an opportunity for our industry to come together and build on the progress that has been made towards a fair and reasonable set of rules which govern relations.” The new franchising reforms follow other revisions to the regulations, which came into effect earlier this…

3 min
semi-conductor shortage critical

IT WAS NOT that long ago, June to be exact, Toyota was telling us all it was not affected by the current global shortage of semi-conductors. When other manufacturers were either admitting their production was starting to really suffer – or keeping their heads down and hoping the storm wouldn’t come their way, the Japanese giant was claiming all was well because it had been “forward planning”. It had, according to Australian Vice President of Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley, learnt from natural disasters on home turf a decade ago, and “future-proofed” its supply chain. Fast-forward to today, and Toyota has had to suspend production across 14 of its Japanese factories in September as it too now grapples with the worldwide chip shortage. The latest announcement comes after the brand had to temporarily shut…