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... 
..it 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.