TARGA Tasmania has lured some incredible machines to the island state over the years.
There have been sublime showroom classics, supreme exotic supercars, museum masterpieces – all beasts in their own right.
Perhaps the biggest beast of them all was Eric Bana’s 1974 XB Falcon.
It featured in the brilliant film Love The Beast which focused on Bana’s effort to rebuild the car for a second time so it could compete at TARGA Tasmania in 2007.
Bana regrettably crashed the Falcon coupe during the event and while he and co-driver Tony Ramunno escaped injury, the car suffered major chassis, suspension and panel damage.
All these years later, the film that was released two years after Bana’s crash has left a phenomenal legacy on TARGA.
While the XB coupe may not make the list of the greatest cars to have competed in the iconic tarmac rally, the list of magnificent machines from the last 15 years, considered the ‘modern era’ of TARGA, is impressive.
One of the most evocative and successful examples within the aforementioned time parameter is the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
This low-slung Italian super coupe, powered by a viscerally screeching V10 powerplant became the weapon of choice for Devonport aces Jason White and his uncle and co-driver John.
While the Whites debuted the potent Lambo in 2006, they had to wait patiently until success finally arrived for the Bologna brand for the first time in 2010.
It would be the first of four overall TARGA wins for the Whites in Lamborghini Gallardo machinery with the others coming in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
The four wins in the all-paw Gallardo came following the White’s maiden TARGA Tasmania win in a Nissan Skyline GT-R in 2005.
With the changing rules of eligibility keeping entrants on their toes, the Whites would take a huge risk and decide to end their hugely successful association with the Italian supercar.
Enter what would become one of the most potent weapons in tarmac rallying, the Dodge Viper ACR Extreme.
The Whites would fail to finish on debut in the American muscle car however they would claim the 2017 and 2018 TARGA Tasmania events as they refined the Viper to become a somewhat surprising force in the world’s ultimate tarmac rally.
Another Viper would soar to the giddy heights of TARGA Tasmania supremacy when locals Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey took the overall win in 2021.
There have been many great cars which have been lured into the Classic component of TARGA.
At the head of the list is Rex Broadbent in his 1974 Porsche Carrera 911 RS, driving clearly the most dominant classic car.
After winning his first Classic outright competition in 2002, Broadbent would rattle off wins in the Porsche from 2007 to 2012, a stunning stretch of unbeaten runs which puts the 70’s spec Zuffenhausen product as one of the most important TARGA machines of the past 15 years.
Also worthy of mention is the legendary German rally driver Walter Rohrl, who with co-driver Christian Geistdorfer campaigned the 1981 Porsche San Remo 911 SC at TARGA in 2011.
The Porsche was the same car which Rohrl was on the cusp of victory at the 1981 World Rally Championship San Remo event only for the driveshaft to fail.
Another key Porsche, the 356 B Carrera Abarth worth in excess of $1 million, a car which helped cut a path to greatness for the manufacturer in GT racing, took part in the 2009 TARGA event, at the hands of Porsche Museum director Klaus Bischof.
Classic cars of significance include Steve and Rachel Coad’s 1971 HQ Monaro, the 1948 Holden 48-215 of Paul and Christine Freestone and Len Cattlin’s menacing orange-hued Ford Boss Mustang.
Furthermore there are quite a few honourable mentions of machines and while not in the competition proper, they have no less had an impact on the event.
Some of these are the Pagani Zonda C12S roadster which acted as the official sweep car in 2008. At the time it was the only legally registered one of its type in Australia and was valued at more than $1.5 million.
A $2.5 million McLaren P1 was used as the course car at the 25th anniversary TARGA in 2016 and other notable supercars have been a $4.2 million LaFerrari and a $2.2 million Senna McLaren.
And as TARGA looks to usher in a new class for Electric Vehicles, it is important to remember the first Tesla roadsters to be let loose in Australia were involved in the 2011 event in touring and a new green class which remains a pioneering moment in TARGA’s heritage.
The 30th anniversary TARGA Tasmania, which will take place from April 26 to May 1 this year will feature nearly 500 vehicles, providing something for every motoring enthusiast to watch.
For further information, including road closures, please go to www.targa.com.au.