Reborn Giocattolo set for TARGA return after 15-year absence

Experienced driver Adam Kaplan has confirmed a key change of machinery with the unique Giocattolo poised for a long awaited comeback at TARGA High Country from February 11 to 13.

Kaplan has garaged the popular HSV – that is adorned in tribute livery of the 1990 Bathurst 1000 winning Holden at the hands of Win Percy and Allan Grice – in favour of the Giocattolo.

The Noosa-based competitor has revived the Giocattolo which was all but destroyed in a huge accident at the 2007 Classic Adelaide rally.

“It was a significant accident with the car scrunched up into a little ball that we had to straighten out. It took a long time,” Kaplan explained.

“The GFC and other business challenges got in the way of us spending time on it for a while there.”

The Giocattolo is an Australian creation from the mid-to-late 1980’s that is built on an Alfa Sprint body. Kaplan’s example is powered by a Holden V8 which is mated to an Albins 6-speed sequential transaxle.

It is believed only about 15 were produced in a project that involved former McLaren engineer Barry Lock. The super light car is armed with a prodigious amount of performance given its colossal power-to-weight ratio.

Set to do battle in the Classic GT section of TARGA High Country, the Giocattolo (which means toy in Italian) is no stranger to TARGA competition having seen action at various times in the 1990’s and 2000’s at the signature TARGA Tasmania.

“This will be its first run in 15 years so there might be a bit of sorting out to do,” Kaplan said, who has been in possession of the machine for more than 20 years.

“TARGA High Country will be a bit of a live shakedown because we have entered the Giocattolo for the 30th Anniversary TARGA Tasmania in a few months.

“It has a long TARGA history, so we are looking forward to jumping back in the car.

“The car won’t turn a wheel until the first stage at TARGA High Country. It’s a brand new build and most of it is custom manufactured.”

Kaplan will again be helped by regular co-driver Aleshia Penney in the hotly contested Classic GT category.

In what is shaping as another gripping battle, Liam and Larry Howarth (1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R) will do battle with Geoff and Toni Hewitt (2009 Nissan GT-R) in the Early Modern 4 class. The pair were second and third respectively at the 2021 edition of the High Country classic.

Queenslanders Paolo and Claire Buccini (2008 BMW 135i) will be seeking back-to-back wins in Early Modern 2. The pair won the EM2 class at TARGA Great Barrier Reef last September.

A record number of more than 210 entries have been received for TARGA High Country.

There are 20 competitive stages scheduled across the three days with eight stages listed for the opening day where the lunch stop is at Whitfield.

Saturday action sees six stages with the lunch break at Euroa before the field finishes the day with the popular street stage through Mansfield.

TARGAfest will follow immediately after the street stage with the first competition cars expected at 5pm.

The final day sees another six stages with the first competition cars expected at the Eildon lunch stop at 11.10am.

The field will then tackle the final three stages – Skyline, Eildon and the final run to the Mt Buller summit where the first competition cars are set to be flagged away at 3.41pm.

For more information including full road closure details head to