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Mike Lowe’s trusty steed heads into retirement

10 November, 2014


After finishing 20 years' of Targa, Mike Lowe's Fiat Abarth will be retired to the New Zealand National Motorsport Museum

After finishing 20 years’ of Targa, Mike Lowe’s Fiat Abarth will be retired to the New Zealand National Motorsport Museum

All racers have to hang their helmets up some day, and Mike Lowe has announced that that day has come for his trusty steed. After participating in, and finishing, every Targa event for the last 20 years in his 1964 Fiat Abarth, Mike has decided to retire the iconic vehicle — it will be relocated to its new home in the New Zealand National Motorsport Museum.

According to Mike, “the time is right … she was telling us something when the clutch failed just three corners from the end of the last stage.”   

Mike kicked off the inaugural 1995 Targa with co-driver Steve Cannon, seeded 22nd following the prologue stage at Pukekohe Park Raceway. As an indication of the little Abarth’s performance, it was clocked at 142kph on the circuit’s back straight — barely any slower than a Dino 246 GT.

The Targa debut would be marked by a high-speed crash after hitting a puddle of oil at around 160kph, putting the Abarth in no condition to continue. However, the car was repaired to drivability, and completed the event. These on-the-fly repairs would become a staple of Mike and his team’s Targa involvement, with every event requiring impromptu repairs of varying intensity, from broken axles, oil leaks, a blown head gasket, through to full-on crashes. As Mike has said, “We came, we broke, we repaired, and we finished!”


The Jowett Jupiter turns 70

John Ball has always enjoyed tinkering with old boats and cars. He’s old enough to think having gearbox parts on newspaper on the floor of his bedroom, while the relevant car sat waiting on nail boxes, was a normal part of growing up. His passion has always tended towards old British bangers. He reckons he’s fortunate not to have got caught up in the American muscle scene.
John’s love affair with this Jupiter started in December 2015 when, with some time on his hands during a Christchurch trip, he searched online for ‘cars, before 1970 and in Christchurch’.

A passion for classics and customs

In the highly competitive field of New Zealand classic and custom restorations, reputations are won or lost on the ability to maintain consistently high standards of workmanship. A company managing to achieve this is D A Panel beating Ltd, of Rangiora near Christchurch. Is your classic or custom car restoration stalled, or in need of a refresh, or perhaps you are looking for experts to rebuild that recent import project out of Europe or the ‘States?