Famed Australian sports car manufacturer Bolwell looks poised for a comeback with the company having revealed a new working mid-engined concept car that marks the return of the Nagari name for its 50th anniversary.

Dubbed the Nagari 500 – following on from 2008’s Nagari 300 that packed a Toyota-derived V6 – this concept boasts, as you might have already guessed, 500bhp (373kW) produced by a longitudinally-mounted 6.2-litre LS3 V8 from a Chevrolet Corvette, which is backed by a six-speed manual gearbox from Audi and rear-wheel drive. Oh yes.

Perhaps even more importantly than packing some power is its incredibly light kerb weight – claimed to be under 1000kg – which could possibly give it a better kerb weight than a Bugatti Chiron, which makes 390kW per tonne.

While the original 1969 Nagari the tiny carmaker founded by Campbell Bolwell, whose brother Graeme worked under Colin Chapman at Lotus, is best known for was made largely from fibreglass, the Nagari 500 features a carbon-fibre and kevlar tub moulded in the company’s own vacuum infusion system at its factory in Melbourne.

The rest of the hardware it’s packing is just as serious as its drivetrain – double-wishbone suspension with pneumatically adjustable dampers, 355mm cross-drilled front brakes, and staggered 19-inch wheels measuring 10.5 and 12 inches in width front and rear respectively all features on the concept, showing this is no garden shed bodge job like the offerings of some small manufacturers, even if this concept was produced by a team of just four or five, most of whom worked on the original Nagari back in the 60s and 70s.

A lot of that is due to the fact that while the Bolwell name has been absent from the car market for a while, building sports cars is really just a side project for the company which focuses its efforts on fibreglass and composite manufacturing here in Australia, along with in Thailand, hence the know-how to work with such complex materials.

Bolwell itself claims that it aims to put the Nagari 500 into production during 2020, although pricing and final specifications are yet to be announced.

Speaking to GoAuto, company founder Campbell Bolwell claimed that the new model should deliver true supercar performance, including the potential of a sub-three-second 0-100km/h time.

“We’ve had it out for a few drives, and it’s a real supercar. As with the original Nagari, this is a proper road car – it’s hugely powerful, but you can drive it to the shops. It even has a boot,” Bolwell noted.

Although the mechanical side of things might be worked out, the working concept car you see in the shots has a little way to go until it is truly production ready. A look at the interior reveals a shift knob that I can identify as being borrowed from one of my own cars, a Mk4 Volkswagen Golf, while the steering wheel looks to be taken from something like the Mazda BT-50, judging by the buttons. The materials all look nice though, as does the huge centre screen.

Regardless, we here at Drive Section are passionate about Australian manufacturing and are very excited to watch this thing hopefully take shape over the course of the coming year or two. Even if the only car manufacturing taking place here is in small numbers from the likes of Brabham and now Bolwell again, we are very glad to see that there’s still some cars managing to be produced in this motoring nation.

Patrick Jackson
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