Friday, 10 November 2017

Laser: The Brilliant Breakthrough

Jumping into a little more detail on some Instagramery from a few weeks back; the fiery twin-carb '81 KA Laser Sport..

"Up (..over..?) at the Ford Performance Club of ACT's 2017 "Capital All Ford Day" in Queanbeyan today, and it's straight to the *real* gems! Interior shot of a KA Laser S (..for 'Sport') twin-carb of an early Laser/Meteor pairing. I've spotted and posted a bit on the 1983- KB facelift Laser S' over the last 1400+ posts, but genuinely can't think of the last time I came across the model in its (1981-) KA original-form. Wow. The decals, the stripes, the gradient fabric.... #capitalallfordday #fordperformanceclubofact #fordaustralia #ford #fordlaser #laser #lasers #lasersport #twincarb #kalaser #kblaser #mazda #mazdafamilia #mazda323 #japanesenostalgiccar #1981"

"Stepping back for a full shot of yesterday's '81 KA Ford Laser S; a better look at those early-KA (S-)specific details, and what's further differentiation for an already-rare model! There's the two-tone stripe running below the belt moulding (which supposedly came in a blue-combo too..), the B-pillar extension cover/trims, and the specifically-*early*-KA-specific grey-centred alloys instead of the lush four-hole units on the comparatively -'common' ('s not common at all...) KB. Interesting tidbits, but not likely going to come up at your next pub trivia night... #icarethough #lettuce #capitalallfordday #fordperformanceclubofact #fordaustralia #ford #fordlaser #laser #lasers #lasersport #twincarb #kalaser #kblaser #mazda #mazdafamilia #mazda323 #japanesenostalgiccar #1981"

*the stench of anticipation in the air*
..yep, the aforementioned Laser/Meteor pairing.
Spotted through the sea of Falcons as I arrived at the show. What a pleasant surprise. I've got nothing but time for those who do their bit for automotive variety. Someone has to appreciate these things, and hell.. it's may just have to be them!

I managed to have a good chat to the owner of the Laser too. It certainly wasn't surprising to find that he was a fairly hardcore enthusiast of these first-generation cars, had a small fleet of the things (again "if not me, who?! / I can't, not!") and very knowledgeable... but was a pleasant guy to boot! What old front-driving economy car enthusiast isn't going to be pleasant though eh?
What was more unusual was this was not some low-kay creampuff chanced upon from a careful original owner (so often the case with the more inexpensive/obscure things due to 'unjustifiable' cost of repairs/restoration), but one loved back to looking as good as it does as financially-gently as possible. Nothing but respect for this, even when it does sometimes involve sacrificing others similar to get the best parts possible. That's just the way it has to be.

 A shot showing many of the early-KA Sport-specific details: those front and rear seats (rear being split-fold with headrests), the B-pillar-trims, the charcoal-centered alloys, and the blackouts edged with dual-colour stripes running along the belt line and up the back of the C-pillar. Supposedly there was another colour pairing available..

Love that gradient-red patterned black interior. Along with the 4spoke wheel and silver highlights (shown in the shot at the top of the page), it makes for a great looking place to be regardless of what car it's in!

Laser: The Brilliant Breakthrough.

1.5litre engine, with 5 speed manual transmission
Standard equipment
As for laser GL 3 door but with these different, upgraded or additional features:
Front Anti-sway Bar
Uprated SPrings
Uprated Dampers
Alloy Road Wheels
ZR70S x 13 Steel Radial Tyres
Rectangular Iodine Headlamps
Laminated WIndscreen
Dual HOrn
Bold Beltline/C Pillar Stripe
Driver's Foot Rest
Interior Courtesy Lamp with Spot Lamps
4-Spoke Soft-feel Steering Wheel
Windscreen Wipers with Intermittent setting
Quartz Digital Clock
Brake Lamps "OUT" Warning Light
Centre Console (Large)
Steering Column with Height Adjustment Facility
Driver's Seat Cushion Tilt Settings
High Pile Carpet in Passenger Compartment
Remote Control Rear Hatch Release
Left Hand Side Remote Control Exterior Rear View Mirror
Split Rear Seat Backrest, each side Featuring
- A Headrest
- Recline and Fold Forward Facilities

I always found the front-hinged bonnet/hood a curiously stylish detail on these..

All otherwise so tidy in here..

Some detail shots of that "Bold Beltline/C Pillar Stripe"
The rear louvre is a period-correct accessory that just happens too look additionally fantastic here alongside those glasshouse blackouts. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but it's a damn shame these are near impossible to find/remove undamaged from the wreckers. Not as though they're worth anything to buy, but.. you know.. could be useful to have..! more exterior shot, and we're done. A great example of a now painfully-rare model. Properly got a buzz out of seeing this at the show, and hopefully other Laser/323/Familia enthusiasts get a kick out of seeing these pics!

Done. Fun.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

"The Last of the Big Bangers"

One more Holden to oh-so-neatly round out what was an initially-unintentional month of Holden celebrations. Fresh from a quick trip up to the fantastic National Motor Racing Museum at the base of the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, NSW, last weekend: the 1984 Peter Brock / Larry Perkins VK Holden Commodore Group C (Australian) Touring Car. 

It properly is an Aussie touring car icon, with the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team VK Commodores - the other being the number 25 John Harvey / David Parsons car - finishing 1/2 at Bathurst in 1984.

 ..this wrapped up the wild Group C era of the Australian Touring Car Championship, which moved onto Group A for '85.

Subtle branding, for the kids..

Stylish camel-coloured fabric fixed-back race seats..

..working well with those Italian one-piece 16" Momo alloys.

 Stickers? Vinyl-wrap? Pah! Crack out the model paints - it's arts & crafts time..

Bright, sharp, to-the-point. What a livery.


Friday, 20 October 2017

Graham The Sedan

...and following on from yesterday's post; well it's all over red rover. Or, err.. Holden
It seems fitting at this point to post a little of my own Aussie-made Holden: an April 1976 HJ (1974-) Holden Monaro GTS sedan. It's an original Adelaide-build (Elizabeth plant - the last of Australia's GM plants and the one that closed today) GTS in a laughably vain 1886-18X/L32/M40/GU7 combination: Absinth Yellow with the plastic spoilers, over a Slate Black vinyl interior with the red stripe and herringbone inserts; absolutely shouting performance and speed.. all while backed-up by the smaller 4.2litre (253ci) V8, Trimatic 3spd auto, and positively leisurely 2.78:1 10bolt Salisbury! Fortunately I never did mind, and by now the little 4.2litre has well and truly forged itself a place in my heart!
Now while the HQ-HZ(-WB) generation Holdens mightn't exactly be a product of the '80s; being a top seller through the '70s and early '80s meant they were not surprisingly a go-to used-car for many Australians in the decades that followed - including my family's (my childhood's!) chariots-of-choice in the late-'80s through early '90s. 
Mum had two HZ wagons (stocker white-on-blue followed by a red-on-tan 350/4spd-swapped one Dad got "for towing the 'van"!), Dad had the WB ute followed by a HZ tonner, Pop (my grandfather..) had the once-flash and now flogged-out HJ Caprice he'd piloted since new, and.. Nan.. well Nan had the smaller-yet-heavily-related LX Torana. 
I remember standing in the garage before school while Mum's wagon warmed up, tracing the "4.2 LITRE" badge on the tailgate with my finger. I remember waving at following motorists through the huge wind-down rear tailgate window from the rear-facing third-row seats my parents had fitted; sliding my pocket-money past the weather-stripping and into the rear doors, and when a truck scraped the side while it was parked across the road from school. I remember racing my brother around the back of dad's WB ute, stretching the tonneau-cover elastic over the hooks before he went off to work; then sitting on the car's roof as he came down the driveway when he got home - later trusted with the steering when there was faith it wouldn't end up in the wall! I remember the fart-in-a-bathtub sound of the 253 in dad's later HZ tonner coming up the hill, the 'slab-o-meat' Cheviot alloys, and the bench front seat and column auto combination fitted to both utes. As contrast from the other end of the Holden pricelist: the formed bucket-seats and huge legroom in the back of Pop's Caprice, the badges on the doorcards surrounded in cushy fake wood, the elaborate map-lights in the pillars, and memories of when my brother jammed his finger in the cigarette lighter. Ohhh.. that nuggety old Caprice; once Pop's pride and joy from a high-flying mid-70s, now childhood-me's crunching rust beneath the vinyl top with my fingers? A fun afternoon activity. Twisting and springing the hell out of the once-proud upright badge on the end of the bonnet/hood; the driver's seat and armrest that no longer had a millimetre of leather left on their upper surfaces; the bootlid that was never latched due to laziness, and the length of wood used to prop it open .
Good times. Solid memories. 
..and the Torana? Writing messages in the back of those shaggy sheepskin seatcovers on the way to Northland, the otherwise spartan interior, and bouncing the car like a trampoline on those poor chrome bumpers with all our might... 

Yep, it's this generation of Holdens in particular that has a huge place in my heart... and why I still close my fours!

So when in the market for a project/toy 10-15years ago, what was I going to buy myself? A big ol' properly-Australian, chassis'd HQ-HZ of course! There were plenty about, parts were dirt-cheap, and nothing was unknown; this has all definitely changed in the decade-plus since, but it was the perfect first project at the time.

Some photos from the years that followed... was off the road from ~2006-2010, and has maybe done.. gee.. 10,000km since? Occasional-use that's much more occasional-use than I intend it to be!
It's far from perfect and has the this-was-put-together-by-a-teenager build qualty I'd one day like to rectify; yet still, it's registered, it runs... and I absolutely love the thing. There's no rush.