1974 - 1991
|Flat 4 (VW)
|4 spd. man
It was said of kit cars during the 1960’s
that they were sheep dressed as tigers. This was
true, and proved the major reason for buying one.
However it was also said of kit cars that the mechanicals
and suspension were so poor that you could hear them
coming ten minutes before they arrived.
Purvis worked tirelessly on overcoming the “kit
car” reputation, thereby making a place for
the Eureka in the Australian market.
Eureka was factory supplied except for the running
gear and the engine. Purvis recommended a 1967-69
VW Beetle, however engines ranged from the 1600 VW
to modified Kombi engines of up to 2 liters, and
even included 1.6 liter Cortina engines, along with
a handful of Mazda rotaries.
by lack of working capital, Alan Purvis relied strongly
on owner involvement, with their feedback on problems
and new ideas resulting in continual modification
and improvement to the basic kit during the production
In terms of its styling the Eureka was an almost
unqualified success. Based on the Nova which was
first released in the UK, over 4000 kits were sold
worldwide under various names. The Eureka had a low
slung and powerful look, evoking images of Italian
Super-cars that never failed to turn heads.
Countach air scoops added an extra touch of class,
and the Targa roof available from the early 1980’s
afforded much better (and for tall drivers much needed)
One of the major problems with
the Eureka was the effect on handling caused by having
most of the weight behind the axle, making the suspension
at both ends somewhat of a compromise. There was
a Purvis model that featured a mid-engine racing
rotary motor, which totally overcame any real problems
associated with using a Beetle floor.
But as it stood,
the stock Eureka (if such a thing existed) was best
kept to the straight and narrow. But given the origins
of the car, and the fact that it really only appealed
to enthusiasts, it became part of the ownership experience
to continually finesse the suspension to get it “just
The low centre of gravity helped, and
with the right combination of shocks many drivers
were able to continually push the Eureka harder into
corners. Many discovered however that when traction
was lost, the rear-end would let go suddenly and
Those that purchased the car new could
avoid sales tax by constructing the car themselves,
a job that required attention and care rather than
enormous automotive skills. Naturally then the finish
of the car depended entirely on person assembling
the kit. The determination of Alan Purvis to make
his idea work can be gauged from the fact that a
near disastrous fire in early 1980 at his factory
did not stop him for more than a few weeks.
Sports model was produced between 1974 and 1975.
It can be identified by the low roof line and flatter
windscreen angle. Typically there were plastic moulded
rear tail lights, and inside there was a rounded
instrument panel and narrow centre console. The dash
was very narrow, forcing those that wanted to fit
a radio to place it rather inconveniently on the
passenger side. Fortunately however some concessions
were made to driver comfort, particularly with the
inclusion of two large centre mounted air vents.
PL30 model followed in 1975, and would remain in
production for a little over a year. A higher roof
catered for taller drivers, while an increase to
the angle of the windscreen cut down on reflection
problems. The rear-end treatment looked far less
like a kit-car than its predecessor, and featured
a vastly better looking squared off rear tail light
assembly complete with narrow bumper underneath.
The instrument panel grew in size, allowing the fitment
of extra gauges and, best of all, allowance was made
so that a radio could be fitted in the centre.
F4 model was manufactured between 1976 and 1991.
The headlights were rounded, while the rear deck
over the motor was flat. Visually the Eureka was
always the best value in Australian performance vehicles,
and the enjoyment derived from owner improvement
(many of whom were ingenious in their modifications)
earned the Purvis Eureka a place in Australian automotive
history – a place it thoroughly deserved.