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Australia’s niche sports car

On the Repco Garage various niche sports cars have been featured including the Goggomobil, Bolwell and New Zealand’s Saker, but the Purvis Eureka is another unique range.

Founded by Allan Purvis following a holiday to the Britain in 1971, the company which bore his name was first licenced to build the ADD Nova. This turned into the Purvis Eureka kit car named to honour the historic event in Ballarat during the gold rush, even the Southern Cross flag was adopted as the company logo.

Debuting with a stir at the 1974 Melbourne International Motor Show, the Eureka Purvis definitely made waves as its sleek design took inspiration from the British kit cars of the time including the Nova and Stirling, which was sold in the US.

Production began not long after with the Eureka Sport and was upgraded in 1975 through the release of the PL30 featuring a revised instrument panel housing more gauges, squared taillights partnered with a narrow bumper bar, elevated roof line and a larger centre console, which reduced leg room due to its increased width.

The next year there was a further update coined the F4 carrying further styling tweaks led by round headlights, large airducts and a rear spoiler, with a targa top introduced during the 1980s. A unique part of the Eureka was its lifting canopy ensuring doors were not required.

Through its 17 years of production, the Eureka Purvis body was mated to a chassis sourced from the Volkswagen Beetle in addition to some editions shared the same flat-four powerplant with one of the world’s most popular models.

Later along the line Ford’s inline four-cylinder or rotary engines from Mazda were introduced providing more powerful options for lightweight sports car.

A Volkswagen four-speed transmission sent power to the rear wheels.

Improving the breed during its long production run was key for the Eureka as problems emerging included poor brakes, disconnected steering, a deafening exhaust, manufacturing finish and polarising handling were all improved upon thanks to owner feedback.

Total production of the Eureka reached 683 units before ending in 1991 at its Dandenong plant. Across the Tasman in New Zealand manufacturing also took place though it is unknown how many were produced when this closed in 1990.

Two prototype Purvis models, the Freedom Machine and Free Spirit were never produced.