Really motoring along

When playing cars with Cameron today, I was thinking about the cars *I* used to play with as a kid, and the Ferrari Testarossa and Lamborghini Countach posters I had on my walls when I was in year 7.

My first car was a long way from those dreams !   (sorry, Cameron – you probably won’t have a Pagani Zonda on your P-plates).

I thought I’d find some old photos of the cars I’ve owned – I remember seeing an old photo of my Dad’s VW Beetle from when he was in his early twenties – and often wondered what other cars he’d had.  

So – bit of nostalgia ahead, feel free to skip.   This post is mainly for you lads (Cameron & Liam) – a view back at what cars your Dad owned before you were around.

Mazda 929 Station Wagon

Well, this wasn’t technically my first car, but was the family car I learnt to drive in.  Dad took me for some first drives around the off-main-roads of Philip Island.  Interestingly, this is where the original Mad Max movie was filmed (!)

From there, more laps of the carpark at VFL Park (Wellington Rd) – which is now a field of houses.  Had some good weekends away camping, borrowing the family truckster – was a bit of a “boat” to steer – but was a great car to learn to drive.

Details : 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder, 4 door wagon – BIG & SLOW

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Ford Escort Mark I

My first real car was bought from my Dad, who’d been using it less and less, and just made sense for *ME* to buy it from him.   Initially was a bit faded, and dull – and I spent a few months cutting and bogging, after sanding all panels back to metal and undercoated.  All while driving to and from Swinburne Uni (including being stopped by Police once).

Looked amazing after being re-sprayed, and was a real “achievement” – some great memories of that car.   Took it on the ferry to Tassie, and went camping and touring.   Drove it to concerts of the day – L7, Nirvana, Faith No More, Motley Crue, Warrant, Def Leppard and even Poison.  A really fun car – for my Uni days.

Details : 1.3 litre, 4 cylinder, 2-door – PURPLE – with tiger-skin seat covers !

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Datsun 200B

When I moved to Cairns for a 3-month programming gig, I was planning on having a “working holiday”, but ended up staying for 2 years.  I bought an old shit-heap after the first 6 months, knowing that it might only need to last me a year or so.

It had done 320,000 kms – and had been driven to Cairns from PERTH !   It was rusty, but drove alright, brakes were good – and engine pretty much OK.   So, only $650 – and it was mine.

By the time I was done with it, it was running on 3 cylinders, leaked exhaust gas into the car through the rusted boot lid, had no carpet, the front passenger seat was broken & wouldn’t stay upright, the back seat was loose and just along for the ride, and the whole car smelled musty from water leaks & humidity (was nick-named the SeaQuest 200B). 

I drove it to the wreckers, and it started spurting water out of a hole in the radiator – ka-put, dead…   A broken car.   3 weeks later, I was flying home to Melbourne.

Details : 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder, shitbox – LOVED IT !

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Ford LTD

When I began working again in Melbourne, I had to get a car – as the Ford Escort had been killed/died while I was in Cairns.  The clutch was shot, couldn’t get up the street at all, and engine clapped out – was a bit sad actually.

I decided to get a V8 – why not.   I found a Ford Fairlane that had been re-fitted/re-trimmed as an LTD – so the interior was new, from a more recent model.  And the mag wheels made it look like a cool ride – and I loved the big silver vertical grille.   $10,000 later – it was mine.

Was a great cruise mobile, I was never a drag racer or hoon, but “low & slow” was the way to go – it sounded awesome too.   I remember driving in an underground car park, and accelerated past a parked Porsche – and set off the car alarm !   

Warm summer night, windows down, sunroof open – driving and “listening” to that V8 – lots of fun.

A trip to Merimbula too, although some over-heating on return, and air conditioning problems from then on.   Then the transmission went, and new tyres for those nice mags cost me $1000.  

And the alternator ran down and died about 2 am in Jerilderie on the way to Queensland – so had to sleep in the car outside the mechanics (pic below)

Time for a change.

Details – 4.9 litre V8, dual-fuel gas/petrol, simmons wheels, cd-player

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Mazda 626 V6

I’d always like the new style Mazda 626 – Dad had one also at the same time (the previous model) – one of the other dev’ers in Cairns had one, and they went rather quick, were nicely fitted out – and looked great.

I was adamant on a 5 speed manual, and found a charcoal grey hatchback that was ex-lease (only 3 years old).  From Southport in Queensland – had previously belonged to a sales guy for Hewlett-Packard.

Traded the Ford LTD for $6,000 – and paid another $18,000 for the new Mazda ($24,000 car !) – I finally had a nice car – and a nice car loan too.

This car saw me through for close to 9 years – around Tassie (again), great Ocean road, Echuca, Avoca, Adelaide (Big Day Out 2000), and then became a family car !

Firstly Chloe had the backseat, and then Cameron took over, in 2005.  We started to realise that we needed a larger family car, and there were some troubles a-brewing in the engine and air-conditioning of the Mazda – so a new car was needed (and – we’ve currently got a Holden Commodore VZ Wagon)

Details : 2.5 litre, 24-valve V6, front-wheel drive, cd, sunroof, power everything

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Nissan Pulsar

This car was Donna’s car – and just became mine – about the same time as the Mazda became a family car.   I just needed to get to/from the office or train station – and it was a great car, drove well – but had no power steering – was hard work to turn the wheel when parked.  No air conditioning either – I melted in summer. 

It was easy to find in car parks, being bright yellow !   I fitted a CD player, and some new speakers, and was a nice little station-runner.

Summer was approaching, and the cooling system was pretty dodgy, and time to get something newer.   We had a friend who was selling an old Ford Festiva, so we sold the yellow submarine – Donna was kinda sad to see it go – she’d had it for 6 years or so, since before we’d met.

Details : 1.6 litre, 4 cylinder, 5-speed manual – YELLOW !

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The Holden Commodore & Ford Festiva we currently have don’t rate much of a mention – not until we bid them farewell.


Cars – it’s amazing how integral they are to our lives.   Lots of folk would say they’re not “into cars” – or think there’s a bogan petrol head mentality for those who are passionate about cars (and motor racing) – but nearly EVERYONE has a car – or has HAD a car.

And – most would agree that each car seems to have a personality of sorts.  Maybe character or individuality is the better way to think of it – but you can definitely have a friendship with a car (ok – no sniggling – you know what I mean)

Or – is it more that the car is “there” when memories are created with friends, family, holidays, work to/from – could it be that “man’s best friend” is a car…?

Whatever the reason, it’s been nice to look back at the cars I’ve owned, and yes – to think about where I was in life, and with who – and so forth.

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Hopefully my NEXT car will be a new Subaru – got my eye on the Impreza RS at the moment – will see what 2009 will bring. 

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