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Weekly Motor Fix: Mike Lowe’s new Targa Abarth

20 October, 2015

When veteran Targa driver Mike Lowe — and his co-driver Philip Sutton — line up to start the 21st annual Targa NZ next Monday (Labour Day, October 26) once again they will be in a small Enzed-backed Abarth sports coupé. However it will not be the same classic model in which Mike started and finished all 20 previous week-long Targa New Zealand events.

Now that Mike’s 1964 model Abarth Berlina Corsa — ‘Barty’ — has been retired from active duty, ‘Barty 2’ will take over as his Targa car. Despite its near-identical Enzed livery, the new car couldn’t be more different from its predecessor — and that’s because Barty 2 is a modern-day front-wheel-drive Abarth Assetto Corse works race car that has been converted to R3T tarmac rally specification. It is powered by a turbocharged, front-mounted 1400cc engine that produces 140kWs of peak power for a top speed of 225km/h — giving the Mike a big performance advantage over his older Fiat.

“In the 20 years of Targa we have seen the event get faster and with less older cars running,” Mike said. “In that time we had to push Barty way beyond its design brief just to keep up and it became clear that we needed to keep him for special or smaller events, and find something else to use for the next 20 years. When I saw the new Abarths (on a visit to the factory in 2012) I knew then we had to have one.”

This year’s six-day Targa NZ event starts in Auckland on (Labour Day) Monday October 26 and finishes in Palmerston North on Saturday October 31 — check out the current edition of New Zealand Classic Car for full details and route maps.

Photo credits: Fast Company / Mike Lowe and ProShotz

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?