Inside the Collection

The Nota Fang – an Australian-made sports car

Photograph of Nota Type IV 'Fang' sports racing car
Nota Type IV ‘Fang’ sports racing car, chassis No. 224/71, made by Chris Buckingham, Nota Engineering, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, 1971. Powerhouse Museum collection 90/557.

This Australian-designed and built sports racing car is the prototype for the Nota Type IV ‘Fang’ in the RT (Road Track) Series. It was manufactured in 1971 by a small Sydney-based automobile manufacturer, Nota Engineering, of 40 Smith Street, Parramatta, probably the oldest specialist manufacturer of sports cars in Australia.

The Nota Fang was designed and manufactured in an attempt to fill a niche market for inexpensive sports racing cars at a time when the traditional roadsters such as MGB or Austin Healey were increasing in cost and luxury. The aim was to produce a sports car capable of both road and competitive track work which offered racetrack performance and style for a bargain price. In 1971 it sold for $2000, not much more than a 1969 Datsun 1200, but with very little luggage space and few creature comforts. The Nota Fang is of design and technological significance for its positioning of a Mini Cooper ‘S’ transverse mounted engine in the rear, which gave the car a power-to-weight ratio similar to a Ferrari or a Phase III GT Ford Falcon.

Photograph of Dashboard of the Nota Fang
Nota Type IV ‘Fang’ sports racing car, chassis No. 224/71, made by Chris Buckingham, Nota Engineering, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, 1971. Powerhouse Museum collection 90/557.

The car was designed by Chris Buckingham and built in 1971 with 105 production cars made between 1971 and 1975. Over the last five decades Nota Engineering have produced a wide variety of low-budget specials, sports, and racing cars but the Nota Fang was their most popular road car and largest production model.

The car is also representative of local sports car production by small workshop manufacturers in the Clubman class (production engines in light frames). These were typified at the time by makers such as Canstel in NSW and Elfin in South Australia. Of the 30 serious Australian sports car manufacturers, the Nota is considered by some to have been the most successful, with victories not only on the track but also hill climbs and rallies.

Chassis No. 224/71
Engine capacity: 1275
Cylinders: 4 in line
Bore & stroke: 70.61 mm x 81.28 mm
Power: 82 bhp at 6000 rpm (61 kW)
Max torque: 81 lb.ft at 3000 rpm (110 N m)
Compression ratio: 9.75:1
Steering: rack and pinion
Brakes: 8 inch drums front, 7 inch drums rear
Carburettors: 2 x 1¼ inch SU
Wheels: 12 inch (30.5 cm) diameter
Performance: 0-60 mph (0-97 kph) in 9 seconds
Top speed: 120 mph (193 kph)

Concept drawing of the Nota Fang
Drawing of the Nota Fang designed and made by Chris Buckingham 1971-1973. Powerhouse Museum collection 2008/192/1.Gift of Chris Buckingham, 2008.

If you’d like to see the Nota Fang and other Australian-made cars in the Powerhouse’s collection like the Australian Six, Leyland P76, Goggomobil Dart and the Mini K, come out to Castle Hill in NW Sydney to the Powerhouse Discovery Centre’s Open Weekend on 16 and 17 November 2013 and join a Behind-the-Scenes tour.

Post by Margaret Simpson, Curator, Transport


4 responses to “The Nota Fang – an Australian-made sports car

  • I guarantee it went a lot faster than 120 mph. More like 135 mph. And that was before I fiddled it. If you left it at 1275cc you weren’t serious. Mine came with 1100cc and when I was finished it was a bit over 1350.

  • Most happy to come across the story on the Nota Fang. I used to wield the chassis for Chris out there in Blacktown for a short time, the old nickle bronze and oxy is what we used in the old days. I built one of the first kits, so it was good to come across the story

  • Great story re Nota sports cars history. Are they still in business ? If so where are they located today 2020, and are they a good company to deal with even though they are an Australian ? If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it- many thanks in advance – dave

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