The Bolwell Nagari is coming back, and it’s making a return to V8 power. Mid-engined V8 power.
This new generation, to be known as the Bolwell Nagari 500, will be officially unveiled later this year by Campbell Bolwell, who spoke exclusively with MOTOR about the upcoming car.
“The latest version is called the ‘500’, which would be roughly equated to the [horsepower] output,” Bolwell tells MOTOR.
“It’ll have a six-speed manual ‘box and a 6.2-litre V8, an LS3.”
With approximately 370kW, Bolwell is looking to build a car with power levels rivalling that of an AMG C63 S, but with a naturally aspirated engine.
But it might not even need those outputs to perform rather heroically if its other major aspects are to have their impact.
“There are two big technical benefits we’re ‘trumpeting’ about with this car,” Campbell Bolwell says, “the first being that it uses our composites technology, which we’ve developed over the last 50 to 60 years.
“The method uses our vacuum-assisted system, which means we were able to get the whole car’s weight under one tonne.”
Bolwell Nagari 300, the second and most recent generation of Nagari. Toyota V6-powered, $150k-plus price tag
He says that, rather than create a heavier car that requires more stopping power and needs more effort to turn, the technology developed by the Bolwell Corporation has allowed the new Nagari to be composed of lighter material produced through closed moulding.
“Braking times and handling will be right up there because you’re not slinging so much weight around.
“We haven’t completed the testing on it but we will do our own testing and, in the brochures for the release, we’ll have our claimed times.
“I’m hoping to get around three seconds, but we’ll see how we go. It’ll be a quick machine, that’s for sure.”
Bolwell says the second major point he’s spruiking is the lack of a traditional chassis.
“We’ve got some sub-frames front and rear that hold the suspension and a few of the mechanicals, but basically it’s built on a very rigid tub, or occupant capsule.”
Think of it as Bolwell’s own version of the concept some racecars are built with, or the MonoCell system used by McLaren Automotive.
“That capsule uses a lot of carbon fibre and Kevlar, in the method of creating this rigid capsule in which the occupants sit.
Campbell Bolwell hasn't let the design of the new Nagari 500 slip yet, but says its proportions are similar to the 300
“The idea being that if you have a major accident, it doesn’t matter if the motor flies off in one direction and the wheels in another. As long as that capsule is protecting the people inside, they’ve got a better chance of walking away.
“We’ll also have traction control and a lot of other electronic safety systems.”
Bolwell also tells us the Nagari is to score adaptive dampers, which he’s aiming to be electronically adjustable from within the cabin, as well as Recaro sports seats. In place of a traditional dash will sit a “module fitted behind the steering wheel which is programmable with all the dash visuals.”
While Campbell Bolwell’s company has expanded and even opened plants overseas, he says that the Nagari needs to keep to its Aussie roots.
“A lot of Bolwell Corporation is based around composite materials and components that we build for industry in Australia and overseas.
“But the car has to be built in Australia.”
The Original Nagari touch
Nagari fans will be pleased to know that the men who built the original Bolwell Nagari (or the Bolwell Mk.VIII as it is also known) are still hard at work, putting in hours of development into the Nagari 500.
Next year, 2020, will mark half a century since the original was released, so Campbell Bolwell says it’s a prefect coincidence for the new car to come along.
“We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Nagari, the first ones were built after my brother Graeme came back from working at Lotus with Colin Chapman on the Europa. I think he worked on one of the IndyCars, too.
“We took the Bolwell MkVII, built around Holden parts, and we did a deal with Ford to supply the V8 motors and transmissions.
“It was redesigned as the Nagari using principles Graeme had learned with Lotus.
“That was the first one, and of course the main two people working on that were Graeme Bolwell and Ross McConnell. Working on the latest Nagari, I’ve still got Graeme and Ross!
“They’re a bit older and greyer, but they’re still working on the new Nagari.”
It makes sense then that Bolwell says the heritage of the original car will shine through visually.
The first Nagari was, and still is, beloved by owners and fans alike; Plenty still exist today
“In terms of styling, there’s some similarity between the early Nagari and the latest Nagari. A scooped-out back, the crinkle along the edge, the grille’s not that far different, but of course now it’s been quite modernised.
Mr Bolwell hasn’t allowed outsiders to see the car yet, but says its design will go some way to bringing fans of the original Nagari around to the idea of a new one. The V8 will do the rest of the work.
“It’s all got our own glass, of course, so we’re able to style it the way we want it,” Bolwell says.
“Personally I think it’s a very pretty car, a classic design, but of course I can’t show you the car yet.
“We’re looking at officially releasing it to the press towards the end of September, and we hope to have it displayed at Motorclassica.
“The first things we’re going to be asked are: ‘How fast does it go?’, ‘How much does it cost?’, and ‘When can I have one?’
“I can’t answer those three questions yet.”
But Campbell Bolwell knows he’s onto a winner with the Nagari 500, noting that club members have made it clear what they liked about the first version.
“There’s a lot of love for the early Nagari, and they love it because it has the V8.
“It was obviously the right move to go back to a V8.”