|Australia has always been known internationally for a number of things; most definitely a place with some of the best beaches in the world, friendly locals, the great outback and some of the deadliest spiders and reptiles in the southern hemisphere. Supermodels like Elle Macpherson and Annalise Braakensiek were but a few of our early glam gals who did us proud abroad and paved the path for Jen Hawkins and Rachael Finch to follow.
Comedian Paul Hogan taught Australia how to laugh and sold us to the world using nothing more than a smile, quick wit and the humble Shrimp and a Barbie (Q that is, not the doll) !
In more recent times, it’s been also the quality of our actors that have been widely recognised. To list them all would be an endless list, however those that most come to mind include such stars as Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and the lovely Olivia Newton John.
Whilst Eric Bana impressed us all with his diversity of humour, action, adventure and emotion, he may also have single handedly re-introduced the world to the Classic and Legendary Australian Muscle Cars !
In the documentary, The Beast, Eric revealed a more intimate and personal side to his personality, by demonstrating vulnerability, self doubt, attachment and great courage all packaged inside the envelope of his beloved XA GT Falcon !
There were of course many icons over the years of Australian Motorsport; the Valiant Charger, the monster Ford GTHO, the Holden XU1 and A9X Torana and of course the much loved GTS Monaro !!
Besides the fact that all those listed above come from the same period (the muscle car era of the late 60’s to mid 70’s), those that know Australian Motorsport history, would recognise something else in common with all those cars, and in a word, it is another of Australia’s legendary icons – Bathurst !!
To be classified as a legendary classic muscle car from Australia, required one thing, and that was that the car had to be proven in the toughest race track of the land, perhaps one of the toughest in the world, Mount Panorama in Bathurst !
These cars with Bathurst heritage are highly sought after by collectors all over the world. And those available for sale fetch a mighty fine price ! GTHO’s have been known to sell for between 3 qrtr million upwards to a million dollars. Indeed the pair of Allan Moffat’s Mustang and Goeghegan’s GTHO, known for their tight battle for the mountain in 1972, were sold together for upwards of
An original and genuine opportunity to own a piece of Australian heritage does not come around very often at all ! Especially one that has been looked after and preserved or restored to its former glory !
Enter Australian actor James With and his 1970 Bathurst HT Monaro !
Many would know James With as the Australian actor who starred in a number of Hollywood block-busters alongside Sylvestor Stallone in Rambo and Will Smith in Independence Day 4. Few though, would know of his passion for independent films, for helping young film entrepreneurs get a break, and for .. CARS !!
” Well, you know I grew up and went to school in Perth,” he says, ” and after graduating from the
But what’s the connection to the HT Monaro ?
” When RAMBO was released in Australia last year, I gave a number of interviews to assist with Sony Pictures releasing the film in Australia. Shortly after these interviews I was sent the screenplay by a young writer who was hoping to have me play the lead role. I read and loved the story, which featured the 1970 HT Monaro as the lead character’s car, and hence I decided to make a film back in Western Australia.”
” I moved back to Perth to begin the process of producing the film and shooting on location there, however I soon learned that the costs of production in Australia are exorbitantly high and there is very little support for independently produced films here. After completing portions of the film in Australia that feature the car, we wrapped and are currently in the process of completing the picture in Thailand and India.”
As a little bit of a paradox to Eric Bana though, whose XA GT, according to Doctor Phil in the movie, was a big part of his identity, in James’ case, the HT Monaro was a part of his character’s identity !
” I adore the car,” he says, “but I don’t personally feel it possesses or resembles my own identity. I love beautiful cars and bikes, and I have my favourite classic cars, although I have yet to acquire all of the one’s I like… Perhaps after the next couple of movies I will be in a position to indulge and delve more into this passion. Perhaps I am more like a 1967 Ferrari or a classic motorcycle, I love riding fast bikes, and have owned quite a few over the years!” he laughs.
” I don’t anticipate living in Perth and although it is now in storage, I feel that this car should be shown and viewed by as many people as possible, I’ve achieved that aim by putting it into my film, and I am so busy with completing the current film, and have a slate of feature films in development, that I just don’t see I will be doing the car justice by leaving it in a garage in a city I am unlikely to travel back to any time soon.”
” I specifically bought the 1970 HT Monaro as the current film I am producing has this car written into the script, and the director felt very strongly about having a genuine item.”
Whilst researching and browsing advertisements, James was able to connect with someone who was managing the deceased estate of his uncle, who was a big classic car collector.
What followed, was a very impressive history !
” I was given the history of how the car had been purchased from the Kingsley Racing Team in 1971, and when I flew over to see the car for the first time, it was painted white and had a number of, let’s say 80’s modifications done to it, which I felt clearly needed addressing before we could use it in the film.”
” After transporting the car back from Sydney, I joined the local Monaro Club in Western Australia where I met a great group of Monaro lovers, and met members Greg and Phil of A1 Malaga. Phil is a legendary detailer and did a fantastic job of restoring the classic lines and providing the Daytona Bronze paint job.
I was given photographs of the car when it was purchased from the Bathurst Racing team and hence I knew the best choice in colour was to give it the original colour and lines that it had back in 1970.”
” I sourced the best upholsterer in Perth, who just so happens to live close to where I grew up and went to school as a young boy, and hence was able to get a full original interior in the original black materials. The people who worked on this car are passionate about their craft and have done an amazing job to restore her to original glory. My family mechanic, who is a genius, and raced stock cars for many years, and has worked on my family’s cars for nearly 20 years worked on the engine, and performed all the necessary work to get it registered in Western Australia. The State has very strict vehicle laws and this was an ordeal in itself, as the engine is certainly powerful and I had to order some parts for the 350 Chevy engine from California, before the vehicle would pass the inspections at the vehicle licensing centre in Perth.”
Reluctantly, it is now Jame’s intent to sell the classic muscle car to a lucky individual, and the perceived current tough economy doesn’t sway his enthusiasm one little bit !
” The 1970 HT Holden Monaro is the ‘Steve McQueen’ car of Australia. It’s a true classic, with lines that scream raw power and it oozes with sex appeal. And now that this car has been featured in one of my films, I’m sure someone will fall in love with it for multiple reasons. I just feel that the person who is meant to have the car will see it and know they must have it!”
And what a collectible it would make ?!
As James mentioned earlier, he is a man of other passions besides the cars he loves so much.
” Acting is my greatest passion and has driven my involvement into other areas, hence as mentioned earlier I am now producing a number of films.”
” I set up my first production company in 1994, and I am also just at the early stages of directing a film, which has been an aspiration for a while now, it’s just finding the time to do it all, but I intend to immerse myself into most aspects of film making throughout my career, and work with as many great talents as possible. I just love the creativity of making movies, and working with creative people.”
As you would expect, the experience of working with actors like Stallone and Smith, on major block buster films, would be quite an inspiration.
” Working with Sly was an amazing and intense experience, 51 days on location in the jungles of Northern Thailand, near the Myanmar border. Although I have worked on a number of Hollywood films that have shot up in that region over the years, having RAMBO as your director, the producer and the writer, and of course the star was something verging on surreal at times.”
” Working with Will on Independence Day was great, a funny guy, and just for the shear magnitude of the film, which was the biggest budgeted movie ever at the time. I spent time out in the Nevada and Utah deserts and shared the make up trailer with Will. Working with really talented actors in Hollywood at the Sony Pictures Studios was thrilling too, and I really respect the German precision directional style of Roland Emmerich for this style of movie making. I have fond memories and experiences of both films, and I’ve developed lasting friendships.”
James is exceptionally busy at the moment with the current film in progress, and a slate of feature film projects in development, for which a number will be shot on location in India.
“I’ve also been asked to star in two Bollywood films, which are planning to begin filming next year. I’m busier than I’ve ever been and its a really exciting time for me. There’s just so much happening in terms of the entertainment industry, and I am working with some really amazing people.”
James expresses some disappointment with the industry in Australia though,
“The recent experience of development planning and filming in Australia left a lasting impression of the industry there. The people I worked with on my crew were great, however, the opportunities and efficiencies of production in Asia and India, and even the US are far more manageable and attractive. I truly believe that a lot needs to change to attract foreign producers to film on location in Australia.”
For the moment, the Thailand landscape suits James and he points out that his favourite things of the country as …
” The wonderful scenery, the tastes and delights of the cuisine, and the Thai people are really friendly and accommodating. I sound like a promotional advertisement for the Kingdom.” He laughs.
And on that note, we thank James for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us and let us into his world a little more. We wish him the best of luck with all endeavours and look forward to hearing more about many successes in the future !
” Thank you for this interview and the opportunity to talk about my car! And best of luck with your new social network http://www.autobabes.ASIA, I love it and hope the launch goes really well !”
Thankyou James ! <
On the set of ID4
On the set of