Scroll down to see details of each car or if you would prefer to see just a list of all the cars jump here
Car number one....Austin 10 - 1939
This was my first, given to me by my brother Des in 1964. A small British car the Austin 10 for 1939 was completely redesigned and very different to any previous Austins.
The car had a 1140cc four cylinder flat head engine, it produced 32bhp (24kw) and could reach a sizzling 60 mph (97kph).
Other interesting facts, it had rod brakes, the foot pedal was connected to each wheel by a rod, pressing on the pedal forced the shoes apart inside the drums and the car would come to a stop, eventually!.
It was actually quite a comfortable little car with its four doors and real leather seats. I drove many miles in this car. Oh, there was no radio or air/con. not even a heater. This car, along with my brother Jim and my dad's help, taught me everything I needed to know about fixing something when it broke, and I think almost everything did break at some stage. Other important lessons I got with this car; the importance of using quality tools, the temptation to buy cheap tools is very strong, especially when the wages are little but the first time a poor quality wrench slips on a nut and the message gets through, tool maintenance, like putting them away after a job.
Another distinctive feature about this car was the monster chrome headlights, I fondly recall polishing those things.
When I first got this car it was black, I painted it light blue, I used a hand brush and painted it myself, I was actually quite proud of the job I did too.
Unfortunately the car in the photo is not my actual car but it is the same model. The Austin 10 was produced from 1939, right through the war and was replaced by the better known Austin A40 in 1947.
Update...November 2018...the black and white photo to the left is of the ACTUAL car!!...thanks to brother Jim who found it among old snaps...the photo was taken in Toi Toi St, Nelson...the old brickworks behind...in the photo the car is the original black....thus it was probably before Des gave it to me....the photo possibly taken around 1962 or 63.
Car number 2...1952 Ford Consul
This car was distinctive in that it was my very first foray into Hire Purchase!. It was known as a 'wide mouthed' Consul and was a very popular British built car, quite a change from previous small Fords the new 1508 cc 47 bhp (35 kW) four cylinder engine had overhead valves, and hydraulic clutch operation was used, which back in 1950 was an unusual feature. However, a three-speed gearbox, with synchromesh only on second and top, was retained. The Consul was also the first British production car to use the now-common MacPherson strut independent front suspension, and was the first British Ford with modern unibody construction. It was a pleasure to drive and I was very proud of it. Again I no longer have any photos of my actual Consul but it looked very much like the black one to the left with the rearview mirrors on top of the guards.
Mine was blue in colour with white strips along the flanks just below the chrome strip. I sold this car to a neighbour before heading off overseas. I had this car from 1965 to 1967. The b/w photo above shows how similar the British Ford Zephyr and Consul...the Zephyr had the 6 cylinder engine....I had a Zephyr too, car number 7.
Car number 3...1955 Hillman Husky station wagon.
A great little station wagon, it had a 1265 cc 35 bhp (26 kW) side valve engine with single Zenith carburettor. Anyone with any knowledge of old Pommy cars will know how the Zenith carby was capable of driving sane men right around the bend!!
Unlike the Minx with its column change, the gear lever for the Husky was floor mounted. There were individual seats in front and a bench seat in the rear which would fold flat to increase load area. The trim material was leather cloth. The rear door was a single piece opening sideways, the front seats could also be folded foreword and this gave a very long flat area, actually long enough for me to sleep on which I did as I drove this car from Brisbane to Adelaide!
My brother Des was working in a meat works in Murray Bridge south of Adelaide and wrote to tell me there jobs going, come on down....I chucked in my Brisbane job, threw some tools, and camping gear, in fact all my worldly possessions and chugged off over the Toowoomba Range, December of 1967.
Driving through the Australian Outback should never be taken lightly...here it was, summer, I was in a car that had probably already traveled to the moon and back and I was about to drive 2000km!. As it turned out the trip was good, 1967 was not a particularly hot summer, at least as I drove across three states. I did have one little 'incident'...I was just out of Balranald in NSW, that’s on the Hay plain between Hay and Mildura, when the engine over heated, this was the first time anything had happened since leaving Queensland. A check under the hood quickly found the problem, the V pulley on the end of the crankshaft, the pulley that drives the fan belt and radiator fan had disappeared!...the belt was still there but no pulley, it appeared the nut had come loose and simply fallen off, of course with the fan not spinning the engine soon overheated.
Fortunately my luck was with me, I spied the V pulley wedged alongside the radiator lower mount..my lucky day. I allowed the engine to cool and I installed the pulley, it fitted onto a keyed shaft, it was quite a snug fit but the nut was missing, I was less that 20km from Balranald and I decided to take the chance and drive, slowly, into town and get a new nut.
I made it to town ok but...it was Sunday, town was a dead as a cemetery, the one and only service station didnt have a nut like I required, the nut was unusual in that it was quite large (maybe 30 mm (1") and thin in dimension and of left hand thread, nuts like that don’t grow on trees.
I decided that the wreckers yard would probably be the only place I could get one. I found the yard and wasn’t surprised to see it closed, I prepared to spend the night out front, It was quite cool that day so I decided a fire would be good, I went off to collect some firewood, I'd only walked a few steps when I came across a small pile of discarded car-parts, small springs, screws, wiper blades etc...a nut caught my eye, my heart rate jumped a bit as I picked it up...it sure looked ok. With great hopes building up I hurried back to the Husky, quickly lifted the hood and put the old broom-stick in place to hold it up...believe it or not the nut that I had just found fitted perfectly!! I couldn't believe it!...I stayed there the night anyway and come sunup I was a long way on towards Adelaide.
I met up with Des and spent the next few months working in the Murray Bridge Meat works Digestor, anyone who has been near a meat works will know that working in the digester is not the best job going, it involves boiling down all the offal from the meat works into tallow...the smell gets into your hair and skin and is almost impossible to remove...ah well the money was good.
Around the middle of 1968 the meat industry went into the doldrums due to a wide spread drought, the meat works put men off and, as usually is the case, last on - first off. Des was lucky enough to keep his job.
Myself and my friend Tom decided to check out the big lights in Sydney, by this time the Husky was without a roof and would not be the car to get us to Sydney.
Why no roof?, you may well ask...in the late 60's rabbits were in plague proportions around Murray Bridge, one of the favourite pastimes of the meat workers was bunny shooting, we would go almost every afternoon. I recall some paddocks quite close to town that appeared to get up and move the rabbit population was so thick! We cut the roof from the Husky to make it a shooting wagon, a bar was welded across the top and you could stand and shoot as your mate drove across the paddocks!!..it was terrific fun.
Another car is another story......
Car number 5...Holden FE 1957 model
In 1957 Holden produced the FE model, it was a major departure from previous models, it was very "chevy-like' and it was an instant success. A number of variations were made. a station wagon, a utility, a panel van and of course a sedan. The FE models were built on a longer wheelbase than the FJ series Holdens which they replaced and they featured totally different styling, the FJ models having used a body shape carried over from the original Holden 48-215 series introduced in 1948.
A single piece windscreen was now fitted and other improvements included a 12 volt electrical system (replacing the previous 6 volt system), improved steering, a front stabilizer bar and wider wheel rims. All models used a 2262 cc in-line six cylinder engine, coupled with a 3 speed manual gearbox.
Engine improvements over the FJ included the use of bigger valves and the lifting of the compression ratio to 6.8:1, which increased the power output from 45 kW (60 hp) to 53 kW (71 hp).
The one I had was a standard sedan, the bottom of the range, the next one up was the 'special' (you can see a 'special to the left in the photo above) and where it had a radio (called wireless' back then) and a heater mine have neither but it was mine. I brought this car in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Not long after I brought it the meat works I worked at reduced the number of staff and of course I was one in the number.
My mate Tom, who also found himself 'between jobs' talked me into taking a trip.
Tom had grown up the lower New England district of NSW, his folks lived in Singleton and he wanted to go and see them...I had no plans at that stage, we had been paid off by the meat works so we chucked our gear in the back and off we went.
My Brother Des didn't have any idea of what he would do but he figured he would try for work in Adelaide, some 80 km away...we said our goodbyes and parted company, I was never to see Des again.
Our trip to NSW was good but we didn’t find a job, mind you we didn’t try very hard either.
After about a month of spending time with Toms many relatives in NSW, including camping in an old church owned by Toms uncle in Broke, we returned to SA. Tom had had a girlfriend in Murray Bridge and I think he missed her some, again, I had no plans so back we went.
By this time this old Holden was not running so well...the bankroll was getting down and I didn't want to spend too much money on her....sold her to a wrecker in Adelaide and I left that city on a northbound train....I had Perth WA in my sights...eldest brother Jim was there....
Car No 5....Renault Dauphine..1960
It should be noted that most of the cars I owned in my early days were...well..bombs!! Yet, as said earlier, I learnt a lot from them, when one is forced to fix ones own car one soon learns..lol.
Once I had put together a reasonable set of tools I found my love affair with the car blossomed, I got a lot of satisfaction from fixing them...often I'd just pull something apart simply to see how it worked, I spent many hours in the local libraries pondering workshop manuals.
At this point in time I had discovered that some cars are good to work on, Holdens and Jap cars are good, British cars can be a real pain but French cars take the cake...I became convinced that French engineers went out of their way to make even simple servicing a major event!!...I had this little French car for a very short time and was quite glad to get rid of it....it has faded way back into my memory and should stay there.
Car 6...Hillman Minx..1955
The Minx sold between 1945 and 1947 had the same 1185 cc side-valve engine, the same wheelbase and virtually the same shape as the prewar Minx. This postwar Minx became known as the Minx Mark I (or Minx Phase I). Between 1947 and 1948 a modified version, known as the Minx Mark II was offered. My particular car had done many miles, I owned it while I lived in Perth...during one of my sillier moments I suddenly decided that I had had enough of working for a local council and with little more than a "See You" I drove away from brother Jim...a few days later I was in Kalgoorlie west of Perth...the old Minx was showing signs of age and I decided I'd ditch it and hitch a ride across the Nulabor Plains.
On a street in Kalgoorlie I left a note on the dash telling who ever read it that this old Minx was now finders keepers! I hitched a ride thanks to a very friendly truckie...from memory I think it took me over a week to get back to the eastern states...btw, the road across the Nulabor was unsealed back then!
No 7...Ford Zephyr 1956
My seventh car was a Ford Zephyr, a British car. The car had quite similar looks to my second car, the Ford Consul but whereas the consul had a 4 cylinder engine the Zephyr had a six. (pop back to the consul?...click here)
I had this car in Adelaide, it was quite good to drive but the engine, despite being a 6 lacked power...my Ford Zephyr was a pretty uninspiring car and I dont recall much of it, mine was black in colour, not a good shade to have in Adelaide where summer temps will nudge 40 degrees celcius.
I had this car while I worked for a small trucking company, my job was to drive out to the many vegetable gardens around SA and bring product back to the city markets...the early morning starts were not to my liking however and I lasted just a few months...when I left Adelaide I gave this car to a coworker.
Car eight...Morris Major...'55
I brought this car when I was in Sydney. My memory is quite hazy about those days unfortunately. Little do I recall of this car or the time in which I had it.
The old black and white photo was taken outside the BMC (British Motor Corp.) assembly plant in Zetland, Sydney, this is not my actual car here but I remember the plant well, the brick building with the three windows was the factory office, the paymaster was located there.
These cars were assembled there from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) imports from England in 1958 and 1959. I worked at the Zetland plant for a short while in 1970. At that time they were assembling Austin Kimberleys and Tasmans. In 1973 they produced the Leyland P76, an Australian designed car and, as some motoring experts stated..."a car before its time"...the P76 did not sell at all well due to radical design and quality issues (it was after I had left remember!) and this resulted in BMC scaling down and eventually leaving Australia completely.
My Morris Major was the 'elite' version whatever that meant..lol, it wasn’t a bad little car, not very powerful but reasonably cheap to run.
Car Nine - Ford Falcon 1962 XK
This car was a beauty...it was big, well to me it was, it was light and airy due to the amount of window glass, it had an automatic transmission...my first! and it was also the first car I ever got a traffic violation in!!..for overtaking on a double line.."You deserve it!" you are probably thinking...well lemme tell you what happened; It was a weekend and I decided to take a drive from Sydney where I was living to Canberra, the nations capital...when I was about 100 km or so from Sydney I came up behind a wide load, a huge thing it was, it was holding quite a bit of traffic, a section of highway came up that was a bit wider so the driver of the wide load pulled over to the left and slowed to allow the back-log of traffic to pass, due to its width each car had to partially cross the double lines, like a sheep I did as everyone else did but when it was my turn a NSW Police highway patrol car came over the hill towards me, he did a quick U-turn and pulled me over...I protested and pointed out that other drivers were doing the same thing, he responded by saying that could only get one!!
The XK Falcon put the willies up GMH for a short time, it was quite different to the Holden car of the time but problems with the Falcon, particularly the weak front suspension (US designed) and propensity to rust soon put the Holden back at the top of the list.
Despite this I enjoyed my time with my 1962 Falcon and I had it for quite some time.
Car Ten - Holden FJ 1954, first of two
I have no idea why I called this page 'The fantastic FJ', there really was not much fantastic about this car...this is the first of two FJ holdens I was to own, both of them were ex Sydney taxis and had probably traveled to infinity and even beyond...I brought this particular car when the Falcon (car No 9) started to play up...now the Falcon was a '62 and this one a '55 model..lol, not many people go backwards in their car choices.
I really cant recall a whole lot about this car, or the next one. The FJ was the second car that GM-H (General Motors - Holden) produced in Australia, the first, commonly but unofficially called the FX came out in 1948, funnily enough the year of my birth, in fact the first one came off the Fisherman's Bend (Vic) just one month before I was born. It was about this time that I was working on a grain elevator at Newcastle but, as usual I soon became bored with this and decided to travel on..btw, wish I still had this car, FJ's and the earlier FX's will fetch good prices today...being Australia's first car.
Car Eleven - Holden FJ 1955
The second of my two FJ Holdens was almost identical to the first..who wants variety anyway!.
I didn’t have this car for very long, once again I was to get itchy feet and needed to 'hit the road' as they say...unfortunately this old car, which I only brought to get to and from work, was way past its use by date and had to go..I sold it to a wrecker...actually he was reluctant to even take it but did so when I told him about the new battery, I had put in to it just a few weeks before...lol.
By no means was this to be my last Holden, they were and still are, well made and good value vehicles.. it is certainly a shame that General Motors Holden will cease making automobiles in Australia by the end of 2017.
Car twelve, Standard Vanguard 1952
After I sold the second of my two FJ Holdens I hitch-hiked north to the Sunshine State...sorta back where I started I guess. I got a job working in the old flour mill at Albion, it was in the news in early 2014 as a fire completely destroyed it. I understand luxury apartments are to be built on that site.
Anyway, this old Vanguard, another confounded Pommy car, was born in 1952. It was an odd sort of thing, a big car it had heaps of room inside, many a night I spent sleeping on the back seat. These cars had unusual engines, wet sleave motors originally destined for farm tractors I believe. It had a manual transmission with a very vague selector hanging off the steering column...getting the correct gears was hit and miss. The linkage was not a strong point and even low mileage models were sloppy in this regard.
Other than that there is little I recall about this car, it certainly wasnt the nicest looking car I ever owned...lol.
It was while I was working at the Albion flour mill that I met a bloke named Dennis, now Dennis had an uncle working in the Northern Territory, his was building station fences, he had just secured a contract and wanted Dennis to join him..had a job for me too. Old Vanguard was sold, almost given, to a coworker and onto a Greyhound Coach and I went....next stop Darwin..NT.
Car number thirteen, Willys Jeep 1959
This vehicle was actually joint owned. During my short time in the Northern Territory working as a fencer I was in the company of two other blokes and technically we all owned this Jeep as we all owned our fencing gear. I sorta except responsibility however as I was the one to ensure the old thing kept going.
The engine bearings were shot on this Jeep and I fondly recall spending a day replacing them in the workshop on Inverway station...of course what should have happened was the entire engine should have been pulled out and the crankshaft ground, unfortunately due to our location some 1000km from a suitable engine repair workshop we decided to simply replace the shells.
This was a 1959 Willys Jeep SW or station wagon, it had the 4 cylinder petrol engine, an engine said to be unstoppable. Of course it was 4 wheel drive and it was amazing just where the thing would go...little was known of its history but it had spent a pretty hard life on NT roads when we got it.
I remember once we were 'rock jumping' in a gully when one front wheel let go at the CV joint, the CV joint allows the wheel to turn and steer, it consists of a series or large balls running inside a cage, the cage broke and the balls went flying...it was a very slow, and noisy trip home that day!
Unfortunately, our time in the NT came to an end...the drought and low beef prices of the time meant that the property owner simply could not afford to have more fences erected...we stayed on and got a contract to build a road grid but eventually we had to leave....back to Brisbane we went.
Car number 14, Vauxhall Wyvern 1956
Following my experience in the northern Territory I returned to Sydney. I had left my mate Dennis back in Brisbane, although we had both decided to go directly to Sydney from Darwin Dennis changed his mind and stayed with his folks in Chermside, a Brisbane suburb.
The Vauxhall Wyvern had a 4 cylinder engine, it was a nice car to drive but a little underpowered, I had a job in Sydney working for British Leyland at the Zetland factory, I worked on Austin Tasman and Kimberley cars, I had left just as they started production on the infamous P76 ...you can read about the P76 here. click your browsers back button to come back here.
I remember having a small flat in Redfern and I also recall renting a garage from the local chemist to house my Wyvern.
Car number 15, Morris Oxford 1960
My 1960 Morris Oxford. Series V.
It would have been around 1970 or so when I had this car, I had been working at British Leyland in Zetland, Sydney, when once again the travel bug bit. A work mate had this car for sale and I brought it. Loaded all my worldly possessions and headed north, once again. The car was actually quite comfortable as a long distance thing.
Designed by Italian car guru Farina and powered by a BMC B series 4 cylinder 1.5 litre engine it was no drag car but it cruised comfortably and economically. It took me faithfully over the Blue Mountains and north to Queensland, to Brisbane again to be exact.
Car number 16, Holden EK Station Wagon 1962
After I returned to Sydney I brought another Holden, this time a station wagon. It was an EK model, one of the most popular Holdens made. The photo is of the actual car and the photo was taken at Bathurst, at the famous Bathurst 1000, or as it was known back then The Hardie Ferodo 500. Not sure on the year but probably around 1970 or maybe 1971. The other two blokes in the photo are Tim and Rob, two friends I met in Brisbane, they were Tasmanians but currently living in Brisbane, they were on a working holiday. Rob and Tim and Pam and Elaine, Tims girlfriend, and I became great friends when I went back to Brisbane the following year, Rob was actually my best man when I got married in 1972.
Following our marriage Pam and I moved to Woody Point on the Redcliffe Peninsular, Tim and Rob were living in their caravan in the San Mateo caravan park (now gone) near the corner of Padstow and Logan Rds Eight mile Plains.
Due to the distance apart we eventually didnt keep in close contact with Rob or Tim and I suspect they may have returned to Tassie...internet searches have been unable to locate either of them.
I traded this old Holden in at a Parramatta Road car sales on a Cortina....next page.
Car number 17, Ford Cortina 1969
Whilst still in Sydney I traded the Holden EK in at Ron Hodgson Cars Sales, a very large car sales yard at Parrammatta.
Pams family had decided that they would all move to Queensland....by that time Pam and I were engaged so it made sense that I would go along too.
This car was also significant as it really was the last 'bomb' I was to own, with the exception of a couple of cheapie second cars along the way from this point on our main car was always a good one.
The family was going to fly up and I was going to drive up, on my own. I had of course driven this distance many times, I decided I'd go via the 'inland route', over the Blue Mountains and up the Newell Highway to Brisbane...the trip took we about 4 days and I was totally happy with the way this little Ford went.
One part of the trip is lodged in my memory...the time of the year was winter, my very first night was spent in a caravan park at Bathurst, I had a little one man tent, in the morning a severe frost had occurred...I recall dropping the ropes and poles and the little tent just sat there...frozen!!
The above photo was taken in the front yard of our little rented cottage in King Street, Woody Point, we lived there for about 2 years....first son Darryl was born while we lived there. (Redcliffle Hospital)
Car number 18, Holden Gemini 1975
Car number 18, the Holden Gemini was an enigma. It is the only brand new car we ever purchased and arguably the worst.
The Gemini was advertised as GM's World Car, it was made by Isuzu in Japan and assembled in Acacia Ridge, Brisbane. Termed the 'World Car' because General Motors had this grand plan to have their vehicles produced in one or two central locations and then shipped in a CKD state (completely knocked down) to assembly plants in the country they were to be sold, variations of that original plan operate today by most major manufacturers.
Our Gemini was a 1975 model, one of the first produced and at time I had the distinct impression that there was a lot 'trial and error' involved...everything that could go wrong with that car did go wrong!!
Mostly minor things fortunately, for example the windscreen wiper arms were secured to the drive arms simply by friction fit, no splines, the slightest amount of strain (like when the screen was not totally wet) would see them slip, the clutch action was such that it was virtually impossible to achieve a smooth start, the clutch was replaced under warranty but soon deteriorated again. The cabin and boot seal rubbers did not do their job and a puddle on the floor in both areas was ensured after rain.
We only had the Gemini for twelve months and, despite losing money of course, traded it on a Ford. :)
PS; the photo was taken in 1975 in the front yard of our Woody Point (Queensland) home, a youngish looking Pammy there too.
Car number 19, Ford Falcon 1972
After the disastrous Holden Gemini we brought an XA Ford Falcon, and despite it being almost 3 years older it was like cheese and chalk, this car was in excellent condition, everything worked properly and it was one of the best cars we ever had. With its 250 ci (4.1 litre) engine was was quite capable of towing a caravan and we often hired one to take on holidays. The grainy photo to the left was taken around 1976 or 1977 at a rest area just south of Howard on the Bruce Highway in Queensland. This rest area is one that we have stopped at on many occasions and although still there it no longer has a sign post giving away its location ( a new rest area has been created a little further along) but when ever we are up that way we will usually stop there. Sadly it is no longer maintained and will probably disappear in the not too distant future. Australian Ford Falcons have always been very good value for money cars, they may lack some of the refinements of some imports (they have improved a lot recently however)..but at one stage the Falcon was the countries most popular car. Ford Australia, like Holdens, are going to cease production in 2016 sadly.
Car number 20, Ford Escort 1976
Towards the end of the 1970's the oil embargo hit...this caused a significant leap in world oil prices. Not only did the petrol price rise but there was talk of oil being in very short supply, many Brisbane service stations had 'No fuel' signs out.
Some local 'experts' were even suggesting that rationing would occur with preferences give to essential vehicles only. Naturally this scared a lot of people, us included, the Ford Falcon, good car as it was did not drink petrol slowly!..and like many people we down downsized, we traded to a British Ford Escort with a 'motor mower' sized engine of 1.3 litres. The Escort was small, slow and easily forgettable.The photo of the white car is not our actual car, ours being blue, I hunted everywhere but could find just the one remaining photo, the lower one. Here we are having a bbq at Mt Glorious, Brisbane, with friends, our actual Escort can be seen in the back ground.
Car 21- Holden HD - 1967 (The shooting brake)
This car is a little different to the previous ones...firstly I joint owned it.
My mate Chris, seen in front of the car, shared the cost of this old bomb, we got it for next to nothing and we drove it to a friends cattle station near Kumbia in Queensland. Our intention was to make it into a shooting wagon.
We cut a hole in the roof to allow one of us to stand on the floor and shoot (we had cut the bench seat in half) and removed unnecessary stuff, like hubcaps etc.
In this photo we were in the process of doing that, the photo was taken at the country property. The property owners, Rod and Val were having a lot of trouble with kangaroos, they were in plague proportions on the station and the fences were being wrecked. Chris and I found this old car and with Chris driving his own car we got it up there.
The old vehicle was quite good at negotiating the properties roads, the fact it had a limited slip differential helped of course. Chris and I left the old car up at the property in an old shed and we used it many times.
Unfortunately Rod and Val eventually retired from farming and sold the property and we lost contact, but this time the old Holden was beyond public road use and it was wrecked.
Car 22 Volkswagen Beetle '61
This car was significant!!....and this may surprise a number of people, this car is the car that Pam learnt to drive in!!...yes, no joke, read on.
The year would have been around 1974, Darryl was just a couple of years old or so, we were living at Kallangur and I was working at Chesney Caravans and working shift work, Pam was having difficulty doing the things she needed to do with the odd hours I was working....a neighbour had this old VW for sale and I convinced Pam that I could teach her to drive it. Anyone who has driven a VW will know that there has probably never been an easier car to drive. The car was in pretty poor condition, I had to put a new clutch in it and new front suspension, I repainted it to a nice blue, similar the the car in the photo, the bottom section. Pam eventually got her learners permit in this car and after much 'expert' tuition from me she became quite accomplished. I didnt mind driving this old car either, you have to own a Beetle to love them so they say, I can say I never loved this car at all!...noisy, not very powerful and small...have you ever seen the boot in one of these things?.
We decided to get rid of it, we sold it and actually made quite a tidy profit...a neighbour brought it for his daughter, for years afterwards we used to watch it driving past.
Next car we brought was also for Pam....oh, at the same time we still had our Ford Escort, car No 20.
No 23...Hillman Minx (Lizzie) 1958 model
Like the VW before it we had this station wagon as a second car, second to our Ford Escort. This Hillman Minx was in quite good condition, we named her Lizzie, I cant recall where I brought her but I think I saw her sitting in some ones yard, and like a sad puppy I took her home...actually we had sold the VW and as Pam was still in the learner driver mode I thought ti would be good for her.
In about the middle 70's Pam and I were invited to a wedding at Petrie, we were living at Kallangur at the time, I had too much to drink and Pam drove us home!!..fair dinkum!..now that wasnt far, maybe 3 or 4 km but we hit nothing and got home safely.
Pam however decided she didnt have the nerve for driving and when her learners permit expired she never renewed it....Lizzie went to a new home and we reverted to a one car family...this car was one of the very few that we gave a name to..oh, except for some that I often called bastard or sh*tbox of course...lol
No 24 Toyota HiAce Van. 1976 model.
This vehicle was quite different to any I had before.
About this time we had started something that we would continue to do for the rest of our lives; camping.
With our current car, the Ford Escort (No 20) this meant loading the trailer up with gear and hooking it to the little Ford, a car that did not take kindly to a trailer on the back.
I could see the versatility of a van such as this, a work mate had a similar one and told me of his exploits in the weekends where he and his family would throw camping gear in the back and just head out of town.
The one I brought I converted it into a camper, I installed a cupboard with cooking and sink facilities, a fold down bed, a TV etc.
As a family we traveled half way around the country in this van. It was however very slow with its 1.6 L engine, it also lacked comfort, it was of course a commercial vehicle designed to deliver groceries etc.
It was a good vehicle. Another friend brought an almost identical model and together our two families did a lot of camping. We would drive these vehicles places some 4x4 owners would balk at!.
No 25 Chrysler Sigma 1979 model.
This car followed our Toyota HiAce camper, as mentioned the Toyota was really a commercial vehicle and comfort was something it lacked. Our new found interest of camping was still something we wanted to pursue, we had a trailer (lightweight aluminium actually, also in photo) and the Sigma was quite capable of towing it.
Two significant points or milestones about this car, it was our first to have an automatic transmission and, yeppee! the first to have air conditioning.
We traveled many kilometers in this little station wagon, as far west as Adelaide.
One thing I do recall about this car, when we had the loaded trailer on it would sometimes jump from Drive to 2nd!...quite un-nerving to go suddenly from 2000 rpm to 4500 rpm!...never could find out why it did this but I suspect it was in the design of the T-bar shifting mechanism, other than that, not a bad car. The photo above was taken at Kirkleigh Campground on the shores of Wivenhoe Dam, one of our favourite camping locations many years ago.
No 26. Mazda Econovan - 1981
While our Sigma station wagon was good for towing our trailer filled with camping gear we actually missed the versatility of the Toyota HiAce we had previously, I saw this Mazda E1600 Econovan sitting in a car yard at Kedron (Brisbane) one day and had a close look. It was in very good condition, low mileage and was priced well. I took it for a test drive and very quickly discovered it was a very different vehicle to the Toyota to drive, despite having a small engine (1.6L) the gearing was such that made for quite 'spirited' driving. In much the same way as I had converted the Toyota I converted this van into a camper also..the tiny photo is the sole remaining one and was taken during one of the many camping trips we were to do around South East Queensland.
No 27. Holden Kingswood - 1979 model
The Holden Kingswood was one of Australia's most popular cars, many thousands were on our roads. It ran from 1968 til 1984. Ours was a 1979 HZ model and the last shape, the model did run for a further 5 years but it was pretty much unchanged. Our version had a 6 cylinder engine and a 3 speed column change manual transmission, I swapped the standard gearbox for a Nissan 5 speed floor shifter and I replaced the bench seat with a pair of buckets.
Our particular car was ex-Telstra and was in good condition with a full service history as you would expect, in buying this car we actually dropped back a couple of years, the Mazda Econovan was a 1981, the Kingswood 1979.
A good car and one we traveled many miles in, the photo on the top right was taken on the Nulabor Plains during our trip to Western Australia to see brother Jim and his family in the early 80's. The lower photo was taken when we first moved to Underwood, in the 80's.
This trip was a 'biggie', from Brisbane to Perth and return is over 10'000km!..it was a good trip but we did have one mechanical issue; in getting the Kingswood ready for the trip I noticed a slight 'wetness' on the inside of the drivers side rear brake drum, when I pulled the drum off I found that the oil was coming from a crook wheel bearing seal, specialist equipment is needed to fix this, the bearing and seal is one unit and a press is needed to replace it, so down to the mechanic shop I went. away we went, we were not far from Perth, Southern Cross, about 370km away actually when during my morning checks, oil, water etc I noticed another dribble of oil in the same place as before!!...the bearing was faulty. (A quick note here, I cannot over-emphasize the need to do daily vehicle checks when traveling in remote areas, a quick check under the hood and a look under the car is the minimum)
The leak was minor and the diff level was ok so we decided to press on to Perth and get it fixed there, Jim and I took it to his local bloke and he thought that the incorrect bearing had been fitted... this was denied by the workshop that originally fitted it, when I got back home.
One other memory I have of this car is a very annoying rattle...I did everything possible to find it but failed, I recall taking everything out of the back, including the spare, all the tools and the jack etc and driving over corrugated roads in an effort to located it...I never did! This was not the reason we traded it in on the next car, Ford Falcon however :).
No 28. Ford Falcon XF 1986...
This Ford was the third Falcon that we have owned (No 9 XK) and (No 19 XA model). Falcons have always been a pretty reasonable car, this one was no exception, quite large, comfortable to travel in and quite powerful with its 4.1 litre 6 cylinder motor. It wasnt that bad on fuel usage either. This car was a natural at towing our small caravan and I think it would have handled a much larger one with ease.
Falcon, like most Australian cars of that era were easy and reasonably cheap to maintain, as usual I did all my own repairs and maintenance and parts for these cars could be purchased almost anywhere.
Ours was an XL variation, bottom of the range as as such it lacked some creature comforts such as electric windows and better sound system but it was a good car and I always enjoyed driving it....eventually the time came however, the odometer was touching 200k km and I didnt want to have big repair bills...I missed this car for some time. The photo on the left is the actual car, and our caravan, the photo on the right is the same model but not ours, but a better view.
Car No 29 - Holden Commodore VR. 1995
Our Commodore was not the best car we ever had...actually far from it. It was rather a dull, unexciting car, basic as they come with a 3.5 V6 engine...I suppose it was ok but it..I dunno, it was uninspiring or something. I had a number of minor things go wrong with it, I did spend a lot of time fixing it, in the photo on the right I'm under it!..one of the rubber rings supporting the exhaust system had broken and I had to use a section of fence wire (sorry Scenic Rim farmer) to fix it...lots of small things like that. I didn’t have it for very long.
Car No 30 - Jeep Cherokee XJ, 1996 4X4.
If I had ever owned a car that I had regretted selling it is this one. This Jeep was my first four wheel drive vehicle. apart from an old one I owned in the NT (No13).
It had done just a few km when I brought it and it was in as new condition. Back then Jeeps had a reputation of being excellent off roaders straight out of the box, they had a powerful engine (4L petrol) good ground clearance, good approach and departure angles and an excellent four wheel drive system, including a centre differential.
We drove this vehicle all over Queensland including Fraser Island a well as a couple of interstate trips, we took it along some pretty ordinary roads and never once did we get stuck, we did pull out a few other stuck 4x4's along the way even.
It did have one drawback, well two actually, firstly it was no fuel miser, it loved the stuff!, and secondly the cost of servicing and parts was astronomical.
The poor fuel consumption was just one reason I decided to sell petrol was nudging $2 a litre about then, the other reason was that I had been told the the rear diff (LSD) needed to be replaced, these diffs have clutches internally and the cost to repair was quoted at $2800.
Even so I intended to keep it and have it converted to run on autogas, I contacted the Jeep dealership and I was told that they had not seen one successful LPG conversion, I decided to trade it on something that could be converted.
At that time the fed govt was offering a rebate of $4000 on all gas conversions as part of a 'green scheme'.
Note. Interesting to note here that after I sold the Jeep I noticed many around that been converted to gas!!...easy to tell as the law requires number plates have a little LPG symbol to indicate a gas conversion, I saw many!!
Car No 31 Holden Rodeo Crewcab 4X4.
My second four wheel drive. A 2004 Holden Rodeo Crew Cab four wheel drive utility. This car followed the Jeep and had big shoes to fill, it never quite did.
This car had a 3.5L V6 engine and a 4 speed auto, as a four wheel drive it wasn’t in the Jeep league, the ground clearance was not as good and the long rear overhand was a hindrance in rough going.
It was however much cheaper to run, I took advantage of the govt gas conversion rebate and had the job done..initially it ran very well on gas, it was actually difficult to tell if it was running on gas or petrol (it could run on either).
Later however the gas conversion played up and it was often returned to the installation company for repair, the final straw was after I fitted a new gas injector system at considerable cost and still had operating problems. It was my opinion that petrol engine gas converting was still in experimental stages in Australia and there were a number of issues to overcome...I do know that new systems inject LPG in a liquid state rather than gas and I understand this are a big improvement. After spending big on attempting repairs to the system I decided to get rid of it, whilst it was running okay. I did however develop a liking for the crew cab utility concept and the usefulness it offered...read on.
Car 32 - Nissan Navara D40 4x4 Crewcab 2012 model.
Our current car (Feb 2015 anyway!) is a 2012 Nissan Navara 4x4 Crewcab utility. It has a 2.5 litre Common Rail Turbo Charged Intercooled diesel engine and with its 400 nm of torque is is quite capable of towing our 2 tonne caravan. Fuel consumption is somewhat disappointing however: without the caravan this vehicle achieves around 10 - 12 litres/100km, quite good but once the van is hooked on this figure jumps dramatically to around 17 litres/100km!.
Why this happens is quite easy to explain: firstly, adding two tonnes of square brick hanging on the back is of course going to add to the amount of fuel required but what also increases this usage is its automatic transmission, it is a 5 speed tranny and 5th gear is over-drive, all is well when traveling along a flat highway, at 90 - 95 km/hr (our usual speed) the tacho is sitting on around 1700 RPM in OD, problem is that as soon as the slighest hill is encountered the transmission will drop back to 4th and the revs jump to 2500 or more!, and there goes economy.
In hindsight perhaps a manual transmission would have been a better choice but we have heard of a number of issues with modern clutches, not just Nissan either, apparently many similar vehicles these days utilize what is known as a 'dual mass flywheel', the design is such that it tends to smooth out any roughness but we understand that this type of clutch is very intolerant of heat, and often it is necessary to experience some slippage (heat) when maneuvering a caravan or trailer.
Update note....the vehicle has now traveled over 20'000km and the fuel consumption seems to have improved, it was suggested to me that this would happen...a recent check returned 11.12L/100km in a mixture of city and country driving, with the caravan 15.2L/100km was gained on our western trip so while this improvement is welcome it does show that a diesel engine equipped with modern refinements such as turbo charged induction and a common rail will not necessarily be frugal on fuel.
Update 2, February 2015, (had the car 12 months now) at this stage we have traveled about 26000km. After chatting to owners of similar vehicles I realize that perhaps fuel consumption is not that bad, our most recent trip to Sydney achieved around 15L/100km consistently and as this trip, unlike the western Queensland trip, involved a large degree of hilly country perhaps that is not excessive. Having said that, while I accept the high fuel consumption I am still quite unhappy with the towing capabilities of this vehicle, despite being rated with a 3000kg towing capacity and with 300kg on the ball I find that it very nearly rides on the bump stops with our 2000kg (210kg on ball) caravan hitched up, we have often experienced a thud when the axle contacts the bump stops!. I am also quite unhappy with the four wheel drive capabilities of this vehicle, despite at this point doing very little off road driving. According to the specifications the Navara has a ground clearance of just 205mm and a wading depth maximum of 450mm, it also has very poor underbody protection, the fuel tank (plastic) has no protection at all! by comparison our Rodeo before was 250mm and 600mm respectively, and there was a steel plate covering the tank. This might seem to be quite pointless to mention as in the past 12 months we have done almost no off road work but the fact is I am hesitant to do go off road due mainly to the reasons above.
In summary, when I brought this car I had in mind to keep it for many years, it would quite possibly be my very last car, unfortunately it is more likely that there will be a car number 33, so watch this space
Now, at 31000km I can say that things certainly improved, a recent fuel consumption test came back at 9.97 L/km around town and 14.76 average on our ANZAC Trip south.
I did have the suspension upgraded however, that made a big difference to the way the vehicle rides. A snorkel has been fitted now too, I did that not so much from creek crossings but because I wanted to get the air intake up away from the dusty road we seem to be finding more and more of...
Another update....in June 2016 at 43'000 km everything is going good, unfortunately I have been quite disappointed with the performance of my local Nissan service centre, I have been taking it to the same place for a number of years, now that the warranty has expired I have considered taking it elsewhere, Nissan servicing costs are quite high, this time, June 2016 I applied a number of 'traps' to the vehicle with a 'white out' brush, I marked various items that were listed on the service invoice...they failed miserably.
Update. July 2018....the Navara has now travelled over 70'000 km and I have to admit I have become quite attached....those 70K km have been absoultely trouble free!....since the last update we have installed a canopy which has made a major improvement, the standard tyres were replaced at 67'000 km. A snorkel has also been fitted.
Fuel consumption average hovers around 15 L/100km and given that most of our travels include towing the caravan I consider this acceptable.
I am not however completly satisfied with the automatic transmission's performance; this five speed unit spends too much time in 4th, 5th gear is an overdrive and the slightest hill or head wind will cause it to downshift, this results in driving along what appears to be a level road at 90 km (our usual touring speed with the 'van) at 2500 - 3000 RPM rather than the 2000 RPM in 5th.
The latest photo is to the left.
Other than that all is well, sadly I would not contemplate purchasing another Nissan product due to the very poor servicing experience I had earlier on.
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