Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director, Composites Australia Inc.
The car’s distinctive low slung, head-turning sleek design was an instant success with punters who were in the market for an affordable, reliable sports car. Three models of the Eureka were produced including the Sports (74- 75), the PL30 (75-76) and the F4 from 1976 until the company closed in 1991.
The one-piece canopy that substituted for doors gave the car a European flavour. So, too, the body hugging seats with full harness seatbelts, optional mag wheels with radial tyres, a sports exhaust system, and pop-up headlights in later models. Headroom was increased in the F4 as well as the option of an electrohydraulic operating mechanism for the canopy that was known on occasion to trap occupants. Subsequently, many owners adapted their canopies to Targa tops, thanks to the relative ease of working with FRP construction.
The Eureka was offered both as a kit car and as a fully assembled vehicle in a range of gelcoat colours. As a kit car, it could be fitted with a variety of engines, though most were powered by Volkswagen’s reliable 1.6 and 2.0-litre flat fours along with a handful of Mazda rotaries. For a sports car, the Eureka was notably affordable. It was fuel efficient, in the lowest insurance category and sales tax could be avoided by constructing the car at home. According to Paul Patton, President, Purvis Eureka Car Club of Australia Inc., all the panels on the Eureka were fibreglass including the dashboard and seats. “The main body tub was one piece from nose to tail which bolts onto the steel VW floorpan then there’s the front, rear and side undersills and the roof, bonnet, boot lid (engine cover), headlight boxes, dash, seats and a few odds and sods get attached to the body and that’s pretty much it. The main body tub is made from woven roving all around the passenger compartment and over the back windscreen forming a nice, strong roll bar of sorts and the rest is layers of ordinary glass matt and chopped strand with gelcoat on top of course.
Apart from the passenger compartment, the rest of the body compartments are considered sacrificial in an accident and this has been proven plenty of times over the years too.”
Production expanded to New Zealand during 1977, before closing up in 1990. An impressive total of 683 units were produced in Australia until commercial operations ceased in 1991.
Along with other Australian fibre-classics, the Eureka has a special place in Australian motoring history and is recognised as such by the National Gallery of Victoria. In 2018, the original Eureka moulds were refurbished and returned to the Purvis family to provide Eureka enthusiasts access to replacement parts and accessories for rebuilds and restorations.