Targa Tyros!

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Ben Galli

Hurtling through the Tasmanian landscape in a classic race car is a game where you have to trust the machinery. Here are two of the best

Targa Tyros!
Owners Rex Broadbent and Clive Massel share their very special machines

There’s no question Targa Tasmania has produced some monumental challenges over its colourful history, leading to the development of some amazing cars – particularly in the classic classes.

Here, owners Rex Broadbent and Clive Massel share their very special machines. Both of which claim several class victories in the legendary event.

Rex Broadbent 1974 Porsche RS replica

"It’s an excellent machine – it really is," says Rex, who clearly has a strong affection for his bright yellow rocket. Not surprising, since he has had a hand in its development for over 25 years.

The car began life as a normal stock-standard base-model 911, until one of its owners decided to prepare it for the Porsche Cup series, the predecessor to the local Carrera Cup. 

"It started off with a very meagre 2.7lt motor in it and it just wasn’t very fast," explains Rex. "The then owner had a 3.4lt engine made up, that was based on a 3.2lt Carrera engine from about 1984 with bigger barrels fitted. 

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Classic Porsche silhouette.

"He drove it a couple of times and I think scared himself. Instead of having 170hp it had about 320 or 330 – a big jump. So the guy stopped racing it and decided to sell.

"He thought the best way to sell it was to get a good result in at least one race and asked me to drive it.

"We entered it in the 1996 Australian Grand Prix Porsche Challenge. A very good friend of mine, Graeme Andrews, and I worked on the car and installed a proper roll cage because prior to that, it had an aluminium bolt-in half cage. And I wasn’t prepared to race it with that – it wouldn’t have been survivable if you’d had a crash.


"We worked for a month or more putting a cage in it and refining the suspension. We did the race and I got third place – got on the podium. 

"The owner had a decent offer on the car, which he rejected as he had a figure in his mind." 

It was still on the market nearly four years later and Rex snapped it up at what was by then a very favourable price.

His plan was to do the odd state series as a marque sports car and perhaps Targa. That’s when good mate Mike Goedheer stepped in, declaring it was a great idea and offered to navigate. It was the beginning of a very long run with the event, from 2000 to 2017. Highlights included a win in the handicap trophy, which led to bigger things.


A proper roll cage was fitted before Rex would drive it.

The crew and the car won the inaugural Classic Outright competition in 2007 and repeated that performance for the next five years! An incredible run.

As with many of these machines, its development has involved quite a journey, though for Rex one of the highlights has been sorting the suspension.

"That’s kind of my forte, with an engineering and scientific history, so I really enjoy refining suspension. The suspension pick-up points are considerably altered from the original car. I reduced the amount of camber change that the rear wheels have over bumps. A 911 has a semi-trailing arm and I moved the pick-up points to reduce the amount of camber that it has. 

"On a Targa stage, you’re going through a big range of suspension movement because of the nature of the roads. The way the semi-trailing arms are installed on a Porsche it produces camber and toe-out changes, when you go over bumps. 

You can’t eliminate it within the rules, but you can reduce it.

"The front end is fabricated using tubular steel wishbones and rod ends. Again, the pick-up points were altered and the arms were made longer to reduce camber changes over bumps. A lot of work to get rid of bump-steer. 


"However, the biggest improvement though was working in conjunction with a really good friend of mine who has since passed away. That was Gary Baker. He and his brother Mike were off-road champions back in the seventies and eighties. 

"Gary was a Bilstein expert working out of a grotty little factory in the Clayton area and a brilliant engineer. He had worked with Jim Richards, Mark Skaife, Fred Gibson – all the big names. An unsung hero.

"He and I got on really well from a technical point of view. I wouldn’t know what’s inside a shock absorber but I’m good at relating what’s going on in a car, and he interpreted that beautifully. He made me shock absorbers and that was the key. The car was absolutely stunning. 

"We miss him, he made all the people for whom he worked look better than they were and I’m included in that!" 

As for the mechanicals, it had an engine rebuild about five years ago and the engine capacity was increased from 3.34lt to 3.46. Rex explains, "The way that was achieved was we put in a crankshaft from a racing GT3, which wasn’t an easy job, but it’s incredible that a crankshaft out of a 2008 model car can be grafted into that engine from 1984. 


"I haven’t dynoed it in that spec, but would estimate 330-340hp.

"It’s running two triple triple-choke 46mm Webers, and it’s got twin plugs – another modification." As Rex says, it’s a very analogue car. 

"The transmission is still a 915, basically what was in it in 1974. But we have unique ratios to suit Targa. With the gearing, the top speed was about 235km/h and of course, the car could go a hell of a lot faster than that. It’s a typical maximum speed you’d reach on a fast Targa stage. So I just wanted maximum acceleration with a realistic top speed."

What’s pulling it up? "The brakes are significantly updated with AP calipers on the front, from a mid-1980s touring car. Before it was disallowed, we fitted ABS. In the early days of Targa, no-one ever considered someone would bother doing it, so brakes were free. 

"With discretion, we fitted ABS around 2010, and we weren’t the only ones doing it. The organisers discovered what was going on. My car still has ABS, but when I was doing later Targas we would disable it. That was fine as we still had the adjustable bias.


"I think ABS is the best thing since sliced bread. Targa is generally half wet and half dry. It’s the intermediate sections that are damp which are the scary bits, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. The ABS was an absolute revelation.

"When I first started the rallies, it still had the Porsche Cup body shape, which was that of an RSR. It would encompass 10-inch rims on the front and 14-inch on the back. We first went to Targa with 9-inch on the front and 11s on the back because there was no restriction. After we’d won the Classic Outright, the rules changed to allow a maximum 9-inch width and 17-inch diameter. 

"So we had these huge mudguards with 9-inch rims on the back (8-inch on the front), so the car had a transformation. It was narrowed down to RS spec, which is how it is now and looks much more in proportion.

"During that transformation back from RSR to RS, the shell was stripped and all the original underseal, which was still in place, was removed. That saved a good 20kg."


Speaking of weight-saving, the crew even went to the trouble of stripping out the original elaborate cabin heating set-up, replacing it with a more simple unit of their own design. It ran two 12V hairdryers as demisters.

However, Rex reckons the car is still a little overweight. 

"It started off life as a Porsche Cup car," he says, "which had a minimum weight. So when we put the roll cage in, we didn’t skimp on the strength of the bars because otherwise it was going to have to carry ballast. 

"It’s nice going into Targa with the security of such a substantial weight but you are carrying it around. That was the only blemish on it being a perfect Targa car. We could pull 60kg out it."


It got more grunt over the years.

What does he like about Targa? "It was brilliant. If it ever runs again, it won’t be the same as it used to be. I started in 2000 and you had the start point and the finish point, and you just went for it with minimal intervention. There were no artificial speed limits in the early days."

Rex doubts he’ll tackle another Targa Tasmania, but the Porsche is a long way from retired. "I still do the occasional Porsche Club event – sprints and hillclimbs. 

"It’s lovely when you get on track with the current GT3s and cars like that and you can actually give them a run for their money."


Clive Massel 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super

For Clive, the Alfa has turned some of his beliefs – or prejudices – on their head. An example: Alfas are unreliable and best avoided.

He happily admits some of his views were formed when he was winning touring car races (and a championship) in South Africa in his BMW 2002. His was for a time the only example in the field, usually battling a dozen or so Alfa drivers who apparently gave no quarter. "They gave me hell," he says, "I hated them!"


Giving it plenty at Sandown.

Now, the Giulia Super on these pages has become a firm favourite.

The Alfa apparently passed through the workshop of the legendary Ray Gulson in Canberra, himself a long-term Alfa racer and founder of a tuning workshop that became the Gulson Alfa Romeo dealership that survives today.


Under the bonnet, the stock engine was replaced with a tuned 2.0 DOHC powerplant running twin Webers and feeding a five-speed transmission. Exact details of the tune have been lost over time, but Clive says it was clearly designed for accessible torque, rather than high-revving horsepower.

The car hit the targa-style rally circuit in 2001 and for a long time was campaigned by John Dunkley and son Sean. Along the way it won a huge amount of silverware, including Targa Tasmania’s Early Classic class in 2005, 2006 and 2007. 


Two-litres of Alfa’s finest.

Plus, it has competed in a long list of circuit events.

"It’s been the most remarkable race car I’ve ever owned," says Clive. "People tell me to stay away from Alfas. Well let me tell you, owning the equivalent 2002 BMW, every third race you do the motor or something else. That Alfa to this day is running the original engine and gearbox – they have never been out. The diff is the same. It’s needed brake pads and we recently put a clutch in it. 


"Everyone who has driven it says it’s the best handling example they’ve driven." 

He sees the whole situation as funny, admitting up until this car arrived in his driveway, he had never owned an Alfa and swore he never would. 

And now? Clive agrees there are some cars you ‘gel’ with and for him this is the case with the Giulia. "I like the look of it. It’s the best racing car I’ve owned. It’s fantastic to drive. It’s so adaptable. You can drive it in town, but when you drive it on song, it’s in another league." 


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