:s2: Whilst digging up a photo for a thread here the other day it occurred to me that my (now much rounder) bum had sat in an awful lot of drivers seats to which I'd owned the keys (or at least rented them from a financier).
For what it's worth I thought I'd post a few brief thoughts about each one that hasn't actually fallen victim to the early onset of Alzheimers disease and been forgotten (and some of them should have been !).
For the sake of simplicity I'll start chronologically
THE EARLY YEARS - H****N
(subtitled - I know, I was young and it was the 70's)
1. A 1963 EJ Station wagon c/w the mandatory side and rear curtains and in a wonderful shade of ivory. Sort of poor precursor to the Sandman panel van and for much the same reason. 138 grey motor and three on the tree it was a great way to explore whatever it was I was exploring then. Used considerably more oil than fuel and was the proud holder of a number of canaries for undue noise / undue smoke !
2, A 1964 EH Sedan - a major improvement even with the dreaded H****n badge. It was resprayed a sky blue and fitted with a 161 and four speed box and a pair of Torana front buckets. Also had its fair share of canaries for undue noise thanks to a split manifold and twin copper pipes. Also served as my first introduction to radial tyres from a company that should remain nameless as they had a nasty habit of delaminating at higher speeds - not a life enhancing experience.
3. The first Ford - a 1964 XP two door in a very dark green. With a 170 "pursuit" motor and three on the tree it was a powerhouse compared to the previous H****n vehicles I'd been driving. Sadly someone else decided they liked it too and it disappeared one fine night never to be seen again.
4. Being uninsured and as poor as a church mouse meant the next one had to be cheap and thus a Valiant AP6 Wagon with the 273 V8 and torqueflite found a home in my garage. As my first V8 I couldn't believe just how much power it had or how lethal it could be in the wet and it was this propensity for hangoing the tail out (I thought I was good at it) that convinved me to try my hand at rallying -
5. This led to a little Fiat Millicentro - an 1100 cc buzzbox that was already set up for forest thrashing - it's major problem was it's liking for close encounters with trees (nothing to do with the driver) and it met it's untimely end when it picked on one that was waaay too big to hit. At least it was the navigators side of the car.
6. Scraped enough debt together to buy a rally prepped Escort with the 1600 BDA motor and close ratio box. It was painted canary yellow (blended well with the defect notices) and only had a top speed of about 90mph thanks to the gear ratios. But it got there quick! Finally decided if I was to become old (which I estimated at the time to be 30) I should give the rallying game away which then led to -
7. A 289 XW GT in any colour you like as long as it's bronze metallic. Awesome acceleration and no brakes. Being a 108lb weakling at the time the heavy steering and the heavier clutch finally took their toll on me so it got traded on -
8. An HG 350 GTS M****o with the dreadfully slow synchro Saginaw gearbox. Just as well it had heaps of grunt 'cos you had to redline it so that you didn't drop out of the power band by the time you'd changed gears. It was like this: clutch - count to five - shift to neutral - clutch count to 5 - shift to next gear. Was a nice looking bus in it's metallic green and gold stripes but still ended up making way for -
9. An HG 253 V8 Trimatic Premier in a crimson red. Wasn't the fastest thing around but much more comfortable than the M****o to live with on a day to day basis. This also provided me with the worst experience of my life to that time with a brake disk exploding at about .. well too fast. This in turn led to several exciting moments and a pulse rate of 200+.
10. Deciding I needed another wagon made way for a HQ Premier 253 wagon with three on the tree - very interesting gear ratios with first being good for about 0-15 mph and second everything from 15-85 and third for not much else. Had a wonderful electric tailgate and a love of dramatic power slides whenever it saw as much as a garden sprinkler full of water.
That ends the first few years which was mostly a H****n era before I saw the light.
Hmm lets see if I can beat that with cars I've owned.
1st car 1979 Red Toyota Corona CS 4 speed manual. Bought from my parents for $4000. Good car, very reliable except for when I smashed it. After repairs I was hit by a stolen Ford going across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on my birthday.
2nd White Ford Meteor, can't remember what year it was built. This car used to motor for a 1.8! I loved that car, drove it hard and never had any problems with it.
3rd Gold Toyota 4Runner SR5 1985 5spd manual. Bought it second hand on Parramatta Rd from Wagon Wheels. It was an ex QLD car and it was the biggest lemon that I've ever owned. The wife had the rear diff go on her on the M4 whilst crawling in peak hour traffic. Cost me $1300 for another diff. Sold the car after only having it for 8 months.
4th White Ford Telstar 1986 model? manual. Another good car except it didn't have power steering. This was fine when driving but it handled like a tank in the car park.
5th 1989 Metallic Brown Magna TN last of the square models. First automatic that I'd bought. A good car to drive but was forever replacing the tyres and it drank fuel like a fish.
6th Red 1966 Triumph GT6 Mk1 bought as a car to drive while restoring. Sold it a couple of years ago at a great loss. Love that car dearly.
7th 1995 BlueToyota RAV4. My first new car and one of the first sold in Australia. Fun car to drive on the road and in the bush.
8th 1997 Blue Subaru Impreza RX. My second new car, can't say enough good things about it. What a fantasic thing to drive if only it was a little quicker and had the 2.5 in it like the RV that has just been bought out.
9th 1999 Hot Chilli Red AU S Pack, I really wanted this car but wasn't sure about selling the Subaru. The power of the I6 won out, I unlike a lot of other people actually liked the AU style and the grill didn't look too bad in the body colour.
10th Second hand White 1989 KE Laser. I got sick of catching the train to work and found this very tidy car. Unlike all the other Lasers I looked at this was actually in very good condition.
11th 2001 Venom Red AUII XR6. The love of my life (except my wife of course!).
My Car's Website: Click Here
Sept 03 BA XR6 Turbo, Silhouette, T5, APS Unichip, BPT short shifter & Momo bits, FPV pedals, Custom Leather, 18" Wheels, PBR sports calipers, Window Tint, Typhoon CAI, Side stripes.
Ok - we left off with the HQ wagon which met it's untimely end compliments of a large roo - wasn't enough of the front left to call a car so the insurance money paid for -
11. A Mazda RX3 - it was a boring white colour with the 5 speed manual but absolutely nothing at the time went the way these things did. Sadly you could hear the bodywork falling apart around you and the thing had mor rattles than a millionaires baby. After disconnecting the rev limiter I finally blew the thing up somehwere off the end of the tacho. Sayonara rice burner.
12. Poor again I found a really cheap Rover 3500 SD1 in Dark blue - magnificent looking vehicle with a sweet (if underpowered) 3.5 litre V8 and Chryslers good old torqueflite auto. Made a sweet combo and the beast was well equipped with fruit however what it didn't have was reliability. Each morning was a new experience in what won't work today thanks entirely to Lucas - the Prince nof Darkness. Someone once said to a Rover owner "how do you know which switch does what" - to which he replied "it doesn't matter none of them work"! Know that experience all too well. Finally let me down once too often and was traded for ..
13. You'd have though I'd learnt but like any young man I was easily seduced by a good looking body and not too worried about the running gear so I found myself in a Burgundy Series 2 XJ12. The absolute last word in quietness, smoothness and good handling in a big car BUT also the last word in dodgy electrics, temperamental mechanicals and sheer bloody mindedness. They always said you needed two of them so that one was on the road and this one did it's very best to live up to the legend. If things weren't falling off - they just stopped working. As it was rapidly driving me to ruin in repair bills it got the flkick in favour of ...
14. A VB V8 C*******e (sorry) with the four speed manual. Lousy body, even worse gearbox (chewed front bearings at an alarming rate) and the Sage green paintwork faded faster than a winter tan. All in all an absolute piece of crap and the final nail in the H***n coffin apart from a couple I've been forced to drive as rentals or fleet vehicles.
15. My excuse for this one is that it was a Wheels COTY winner - an Avocado green P76 V8 Exec. Not a bad thing in many ways - great engine (basically a stroked version of the Rover 3.5) and a nice autobox but it suffered from the pommy disease with things falling off and not working. Was a very short visitor.
16. Back to sanity (loud sigh of relief) and an XC 302 Cobra with the manual box. An absolute little ripper with dodgy seats but that didn't matter when the right wellie was planted. Went overseas for a while to work so sold it and drove a variety of fleet vehicles and renters for the next bit of time.
17. Came back to good old Aus (there ain't no place like home) and shouted myself an FC LTD with the 351 and C6 auto. Had been converted to dual fuel but was just a big lovable thing with the dead cow and enough grunt after a bit of engine work to help it breathe better. Had a nasty habit of backfiring through the carbie which eventually led to it catching fire under the bonnet and wreajkiong a fair bit of havoc. Got it repaired only to have a repeat 6 months later and ecided that it should make way for ..
18. A shutter headlight model LTD in dark bronze with the 351. Surprisingly everything worked on this beast and after some front end work it actually turned corners reasonably well. This one had been built with the 4V heads and went like a cut cat. Sadly other people frequently took a liking to the chariot style wheel covers until I couldn't get anymore in Australia so I got a set oi 12 slotters made with 15" centres to suit. Eventually someone offered me more money than I thought was smart for it so I sold it and bought ..
19. The first of 2 XF S-Packs this one being with the 4 speed manual and in Arctic White. Was reliable if rather bland and lacking in mumbo after it's predecessors.
20. The second of the two XF S-Packs in Red - this one had been turboed with a five speed manual box. Power was very much all or nothing bit it was fun to drive as long as you didn't mind chewing up rear tyres (and diff centres). Good fun but expensive it finally convinced me that production based perfromance was always the best bet and that there was no subsitute for cubic inches.
THE SANE YEARS
(subtitled: Why didn't I wake up sooner!)
21. A bit more sedate this time came a ZL Fairlane in Silver. A nice thing to drive but it had it's fair share of injector problems and the vacuum fluoro dash liked going for a rest every now and then. Otherwise it was good, reliable transport but not all that exciting.
22. A brief flirtation with an HSV Clubbie but sanity prevailed and I couldn't live with the awful gearbox, plain interior and people breaking into it (why didn't someone just take the whole thing).
23. Another LTD - this time a burgundy NA that was another comfortable drive but about as exciting as a date with your sister. Time to change the pace (must be a mid life crisis coming on)..
24. A dark green EB GT - what can I say ? It was love at first sight and despite the dodgy interior fit and finish it was just a great drive. Badly needed bigger wheels and better tyres but it served as a reminder that this country makes some very great cars. Parked on the street one day it was used as a speed limiting device for a 12 tonne truck and reduced to half an EB.
25. At least his insurance paid and saved my NCB (oh for the good old days) so I invested in an EL XR6 in the Gunmetal Grey with auto. Shocking headlights (I was doing a lot of country driving) and a little loud at cruising speed but a great drive when the day was right. Comfortable, quick and fuel efficient - what more could you ask for ?
26. The answer to that question came later - in the meantime a moment of insanity led to the purchase of another Rover 3500 SD1 - this one kitted with all the go faster bits out of the racing skunkworks. Looked a million dollars, made enough noise to wake the dead, had a real steel rear spoiler that meant three times the amount of gas in the hatch struts so it wouldn't crown you and went like the clappers. Was even vaguely reliable. Only serious problem was the headlining kept getting damp - not very good for velour. Turned out that they built these things with a nice unpainted mild steel water collection tray behind the hatch header rail - eventually this rusted out and the water simply ran inside the headlining. A good panelbeater and new headlining later it was as good as gold.
27. Saw the arrival of an AU1XR6VCT in Galaxy Blue with the adaptive auto. Another example of a badly undertyred car with far too much torque for the poor old 16" Dunlop Bathurst 1000's and the seats were absolutley atrocious - so much so that it lasted a mere 20,000 kms before being replaced by ...
28. The current pride and joy a TE50 in Sparkling Burgundy with the ESS auto. This is finally the answer to the what more could you want question. It's not perfect but it's well equipped, comfortable, handles like it's on rails and is decently quick. Wasn't quite quick enough but after a trip to Herrods for a stroker conversion it's now plenty for me. Plenty for the boys in their R8's too as a few have found out the hard way. This is a car that looks like a class act and doesn't disappoint when you get behind the wheel.
29. The orders already in for an AV TS50 or whatever it gets called and hopefully it will arrive before the warranty on this one runs out !
Anyway thanks for listening - hope it inspires others to share their experiences. I've undoubtedly left out a few that weren't worthy of mention (a Datsun 180B SSS for one) but these are the standouts for the right and sometimes wrong reasons.
1972 New1100 Mini Moke (aka the mobile tent) : Young and single and trying to be a hippies so I can share in all that free love and sex. 80 mph flat out even with foot flat down Greenmount Hill. But if you got close enough to the rear end of a GT Falcon the drafting with all that sail area would let you keep up. Cabin was full of leaded petrol fumes all the time (might explain half the brain damage). Got married so traded on a...
1976 New GC Galant: Reliable, dull colourless boring and too noisy. See where free love and sex gets you. Traded on a .....
1980 New LC Lancer. Fun reliable and cheap to run and I still have it 22 years later for my work commuter. But meanwhile I bought....
1976 Secondhand KB Centura 4 litre hemi. Masses of acceleration. Heavy clutch and flexing firewall; wife drove it through a stop sign and wrote it off a week after I had just done an engine rebuild. Replaced with a second hand...
1980 CM Valiant 4.0 Litre Auto. The rust appeared in a new place each year and I got tired of having to make my own parts so traded it on a...
1989 NB Fairlane: Nice car and still have it ans it's in mint condition (now going) but the trans shop broke an oil filler cap and left the bits in the engine so it was parked for waiting for me to repair it for a while so in the meantime I bought a...
1993 NC V8 Fairlane at auction: Been in a muddy salty area and so the underbody isn't too neat but the family like the V8 and the premium sound system so the NB may have to go. .... eventually or shall I trade both on a newer V8 Fairlane or LTD ... watch this space.
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