Car had literally been through a service with a Sydney independent the day before. Younger brother driving it, me in the Esprit, a customer in the yellow porsche and the 360 leading up front.
We made it throught Sydney, started up Putty Road, and were just about at Kolo, where there's a few bends and it's the start of some great driving. In the rear view I saw younger bro falling back a bit, but he knows the road well and I figured he had to pee or something similarly exciting.
This is the first bit of road with no phone reception, so I drive on with the other two cars about another 5 windy K's to Upper Colo. As soon as I'm elevated and there's reception, the phone starts going nuts with messages.
I pull over, and hear what's possibly the worst possible message you can ever hear. <Crackle ... sh<crackle> MAN ... FIRE ... HELP <crackle>
Looking back down Putty we can see a black plume above the treeline. At this point I know the f*cking 355 is gone, but I'm freaking out as I have no idea whether my brother is OK and at that point I truly do not give a crap about the car. I tell the other guys about the message, and tear off back towards the smoke.
As we come around a bit sweeper downhill, in what is a 100K zone, I see the first massive black smoke, and there's just a ball of fire at the bottom of it. Somehow the road's already blocked off, and I run the Esprit up onto the side bank beside banked traffic and sprint to towards the fire.
There's a fire truck there, just dumping water out of the hoses directly into the 355, which is ablaze from tip to tail. The heat was fierce from literally 100m away. I'm still freaking out, looking for my brother and the police officer who's on the scene practically tackles me as he sees me sprinting downhill. While explaining it's my car, and I need to know what's happened to my brother, I spot him at the other end of the roadblock with other police - I cannot tell you how happy I was to see he seems to be OK.
45 minutes later, the fire's out, roadblock is cleared and literally everyone just drives off. We're left in the middle of the bush, with a burnt out wreck, and no phone reception.
Talking to my younger bro - the car seemed to be running fine, he'd had a few chances to open it up a little and it was running strong. As he was coming up the first round of hills he literally saw a flash from the rear, and saw through the letterbox rear window, a tiny lick of flame. He pulls over on the hill, shuts down the engine and jumps out. In the 10 seconds to do that, the fire's already eaten through the holes in the rear grill. 10 more seconds later, the car starts to rock with the heat, another 10 and it's rolling backwards - presumably as the handbrake cable is melted and gearbox is practically a puddle. Remember this is on a sweeping hill, in a 100K zone through bush. Bro has the amazing sense to reach back into the car (must have been blazing hot) to turn the wheel as the car starts to roll - which means it rolls backward into the embankment - rather than into the middle of a highway - or across he highway, and into the ditch and bushland. Amazing thinking under intense pressure and he saved a bad situation from being a potentially fatal one.
I'll add a bit more on the follow up - but the extinguisher in the car was useless. The fire was far too aggressive. It happened stupidly quick. From flash to on fire end-to-end in maybe 2 minutes, whole car was gutted in less than 30. Amazing work by the police and firemen, both of whom were co-incidentally on the way to investigate other incidents.