The conspicuously large number of Bolwell Nagaris that competed in production sports car racing (ProdSports) in the 1970s highlights the broad appeal and affordable race-winning performance of this proudly Australian-made, V8-powered super car.
Although less than 120 were built by Bolwell in Melbourne, the thundering fiberglass-bodied Nagari was a common sight in both coupe and roadster body styles on Australian race tracks, where it was competitive at club, state and national level motor sports.
Many were prepared and driven by part-time weekend racers with limited funds and technical resources, who appreciated the Nagari’s mechanical simplicity and tried-and-tested Ford V8 drivetrains that ensured power-packed performance with good reliability and parts back-up.
The Nagari never won the nation’s premier sports car title - the Australian Sports Car Championship - but that was largely due to technical rules which for the majority of the ASCC’s near two-decade existence (1969-1988) catered primarily for Can-Am and Le Mans-style Group A cars designed and built purely for competition use.
These magnificent hand-built machines, like Frank Matich’s SR4 Repco, John Harvey’s Bob Jane Racing McLaren M6B Repco, Phil Moore’s Elfin 360 Repco and Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MS7 Repco-Holden, were the cars to beat from 1969 to 1975.
As a result, production sports cars designed primarily for road use like the Nagari didn’t stand a chance of winning the title until 1976, when the Group A thoroughbreds were dumped in favour of Group D Production Sports Cars – two years after the Nagari had ceased production.