Bolwell’s new Nagari 500 promises carbon composite 500-hp supercar in 2020

Bolwell’s new Nagari 500 promises carbon composite 500-hp supercar in 2020

In the 1970s, there was no cooler car available in Australia than the Bolwell Nagari. With muscle car mania dominating Australian public automotive consciousness as it was in America, the limited production Bolwell Nagari sports car bridged the sedan-sportscar chasm by squeezing a stock Ford 302 V8 into a lightweight composite body that could be mistaken at first glance for a Lamborghini Miura, using the subsequent power-to-weight advantage to blow the doors off anything else on the road.

The Nagari name means “flowing” in Australian Aboriginal language, and in its time, those flowing lines were quite revolutionary, having evolved separately to the Miura as both Lamborghini and Bolwell settled on the mid-engined layout that would become standard in supercars. The shape of the Nagari could be seen many years prior to its release as it evolved from the kit cars produced by the brothers Bolwell somewhere between the Mk 5 and the Mk 7.

A 1971 Bolwell Nagari. Chassis design for the Bolwell Nagari was influenced but not directly derived from Lotus, even though it is very similar to the Lotus Elan. Bolwell liked the idea of a backbone chassis as used in the Mk7, though it made the chassis a lot stronger in the Nagari to accomodate the Ford V8 engine

Bolwell

It’s ironic that despite decades working in sports car development, it was Graeme Bolwell’s links to Colin Chapman at Lotus that brought the unexpected benefits that ultimately sustained the company. Graeme spent a period working at Lotus and it was the manufacturing techniques and design know-how associated with composite manufacture which contributed to the integrity of the Nagari, but ultimately provided the basis for the Bolwell company’s success in composite manufacture across myriad industries.

Graeme brought that expertise back from Lotus, where he worked on the Indianapolis race car and the Lotus Europa. Once the brothers got back together, one of the legends of Australian sports car manufacturing was born as the Nagari was produced.

National sports car titles and the adoration of the local automotive press made the name Bolwell seem much bigger than the tiny sports car manufacturer in reality was, but in the 60 years the Bolwell brothers have been producing their succession of sports car models, more than 700 cars were produced.

These days, the automotive side of the Bolwell empire is but a small subsidiary, with the company’s primary skill sets in advanced composite manufacture supplying trucking manufacturers (Kenworth and Iveco), fast-food building fit-outs (McDonalds), caravans (Bolwell’s own designs), scooters, flight simulators, wind turbines and marine fixtures.

The brothers still burn a candle for making serious sports cars, though, and the Nagari name has been resurrected once before. In 2008, the company used its carbon fiber vacuum infusion system to produce the AUD$200,000 (approx. US$135,000) Bolwell Nagari 300 supercar, powered by a mid-mounted supercharged 3.5-liter Toyota V6.

The Bolwell Nagari 500 debuts at Motorclassica 2019 in Melbourne, AustraliaThe Bolwell Nagari 500 debuts at Motorclassica 2019 in Melbourne, Australia

Noel McKeegan/New Atlas

The latest car to wear the Nagari name runs a full-blooded V8 again, and met the public this weekend at Melbourne’s international collector car show, Motorclassica 2019.

The new Nagari 500’s engine is a Chevrolet LS3 6.2-liter V8 producing 372 kW (500 hp). Just as Ford would once lift a 302 V8 and transmission direct from its Melbourne Broadmeadows production plant for Bolwell to create one of the original Nagaris, Chevrolet now supplies whole engines ready to go.

The high-revving, deep-breathing Chevrolet LS3 6.2L V8 is the motive force behind the new Nagari 500, installed in the new car as a 500-hp unit, but with all the off-the-shelf, go-fast goodies available for the near ubiquitous performance engine, it is effectively available at any power level requiredThe high-revving, deep-breathing Chevrolet LS3 6.2L V8 is the motive force behind the new Nagari 500, installed in the new car as a 500-hp unit, but with all the off-the-shelf, go-fast goodies available for the near ubiquitous performance engine, it is effectively available at any power level required

Chevrolet

The engines to be installed in the new Nagari 500 begin life as the 430-hp LS3, but the output is increased to 500 hp, and almost any horsepower level required is available off the shelf.

The engine is mounted longitudinally amidships in the new Nagari 500 and bolted on to a six-speed Audi gearbox with a sequential gearbox under consideration.

There’s no pricing, no availability date, and there isn’t a great deal of detail available on concrete plans, but the limited amount of information that is available suggests that the wait will be worthwhile.

The interior of the Bolwell Nagari 500The interior of the Bolwell Nagari 500

Bolwell

Some of the other technological niceties of the Nagari 500 that were confirmed over the car’s initial public outing included an 8.0-inch central dashboard information display, keyless entry, Recaro seat, 355-mm ventilated and cross-drilled…

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