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An Italian flavour from Australia. Really?

The 1980s was a decade of affluence and expenditure especially in Australia as businessman bought mansions with sportscars to match.

Lamborghini and even De Tomaso were the choice of the rich, the latter taking a starring role in prominent VFL player Warwick Capper’s film clip for the song ‘I only take what’s mine’.

Businessman Paul Halstead’s day job was Director of Marketing at Insurance Data Processing company Idaps as he supported the build and race program of a De Tomaso with legend Kevin Bartlett behind the wheel. It was moderately successful winning multiple races.

The next thing was to develop a road car and the Giocattolo was the result.

Just 15 were built between 1986-1989 based on an Alfa Romeo body, a mid-engined layout and initially an Alfa V6, but this changed to a Holden V8 with output to 190kW.

Based on Alfa Romeo’s cancelled Group B Alfasud Sprint 6C powered by a mid-mounted Busso V6, but the Italian marque elected not to sell the two prototypes to Halstead and body shells were instead sourced from New Zealand

It proved a financial disaster for Halstead as the Barry Lock-designed Giocattolo lost millions, but it is a venture now reflecting on it as one to be proud of.

A former McLaren engineer, Lock changed the rear geometry with a self-designed cast aluminium crossmember and independent rear suspension system. The rear floor was cut to allow the fitment of a Holden V8 and the ZF five-speed transmission, with a bulkhead installed to seal the cabin.

Brembo brakes ensured the Giocattolo stopped well, Simmons supplied the rims and a toolbox was part of the package, featuring a bottle of Bundaberg given production was completed on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Space age for the time in terms of road car technology was the use of Kevlar for the panels ensuring it was a light package, tipping the scales at just 1085kg.

Sold for $92,000 back during its sales run, it has since become a classic due to its rarity and most of the 15 are still around today, including one in Halstead’s shed.

Two years ago, Halstead announced another new model featuring three seats and a mid-mounted double LS7-based W16 engine termed the ‘Hyperod’ has also been developed with the aid of Lock.