Reading Unique Cars December issue, they made the point very clear that predicting this stuff is very difficult. Armed with an 1990’s book, probably found in a garage sale somewhere, some poor author’s predictions were resolutely shot down in flames with an arsenal of smart arsery and hindsight. So naturally I thought I’d have a crack and share in the future embarassment.
The challenge is they’re much harder to pick now than ever. You don’t see cars on the race track now. So HSVs and FPVs miss the mark and well and truly the point. They’re not classics because a V8 Supercar barely resembles the road car. As the costs appreciated, many of these guys will be AMGs and BMW M series by now. But what about the special editions, such as the Ford Cobra? Well there’s more investors than owners that just fang them and that’s never good news. If you haven’t seen one in a wreckers yard or up a telephone poll then it ain’t gonna be collectible. They will never appreciate just because baby boomer has moth balled one in a car cocoon in case their super fund goes bunk. Frankly you’d be better off investing in getting Charlie Sheen to mind your cocaine stash.
One could argue classics ended with plastic bumpers. To a large extent you’d be right. Cool was stamped in metal and not moulded in plastic. But logic isn’t part of the equation. But what makes a classic car? In my opinion, it’s something that was cheap and plentiful, cool and relatively affordable. They’re the cars that made little kids stop and swoon or ask ‘what is that daddy?’ as it goes past. So anyway here’s my crack at cars in Australia I think will be classics – and more importantly why.
First generation Subaru Impreza WRX
This was the car that introduced words like ‘smash and grab’ and ‘car jacking’ to Australians. Before then they were things that happened in South Africa or LA. But within a year Subaru went from keeping pensioners mobile to getting every red blooded boy racer (and a few criminals) champing at the bit to drive one. If you believe the stories, some test drives were indeed deadly. Or my favourite rumor that there was so much grip, you could bend the chassis at speed. But enough hype, this car was unique. It was the first accessible turbo, all wheel drive car that sold in volumes in Australia. It had grip 10 ways into Tuesday and plenty of grunt. Sure there were Mitsubishi Evos available on grey import, but this was a car your dad could have as a company car (pretty cool dad though).
The first generation had the tiniest turbo of any of the Rexs but the most poke of the first 3 generations. It looked a lot better than its successors too. A lot better. Even when it was half way out the window of a local shop being ram-sacked. Many of these Rexs are now hanging on their last legs. Having suffered several P Platers, hoons and even the odd bank job, good ones are hard to find. Ones that aren’t hanging together by gaffer tape are dead set collectible vehicles straight up. They will start to appreciate in value.
Nissan Silva S13/Nissan 180sx
These cars are both a drift icon and a laughing stock. While the Subaru was gripping, Silvias were sideways everywhere. Sure we (well I) used to call them derogatory things like the Sri Lankin Lambo or Pakistani Ferrari (I’d even heard Nissan Saliva). Yes some owners were dreaming beyond their means, but they were a toey, easily modifiable car that was great fun to drive. Silvias came in three models the J, Q, K (Jack, Queen, King). The Ks are the turbos and very, very few Js came to Australia. The Qs were so cheap and cheerful, it made you wonder how the Js could be any more basic. There really wasn’t much to scrape off the bone.
But that’s entirely the point. These were cars made for the youth market when Japan’s economy was booming. Every twenty-something salary man wanted something cheap, stylish and fast they could modify in their own way. Very much Akin to the Ford Mustang of the sixties, and look at those now. There I said it, the Silvia is the Japanese Mustang. There’s so much in common it’s not funny. Both were cheap, light, powerful and easily modifiable. You’re just as likely to see one on a race track as you are on Chapel St. Probably tied together with cable ties and the obligatory gaffer tape after some dodgy drift antics.
There are very few straight ones left here and very few left in Japan in one piece. Some of those Sri Lankans will be millionaires soon and want to regale their youth. These will be classic cars.
Ford Falcon BA XR6 Turbo
While this car goes against the grain and that’s why it’s a classic. It’s relatively boring to look at. Hell virtually every company car in Australia was a Commodore or Falcon XR6 at the time; it wasn’t a V8 and it was a big, oversized lug compared to imports. So it’s a crap shoot right? No definitely not. It was lighter than a V8 so it handles better (incredibly well for such a big car) and has plenty of usable torque. At the time any more torque and it would’ve said ‘Kenworth’ on the bonnet. It’s very easy to get sideways without being dangerous or twitchy at the limit. I owned one and it was both more fun than a nanny on speed but had the manners of a Rhodes Schollar. Plus if you take the turbo badges off and it was the ultimate sleeper too. Remember every sales rep or car rentee in Australia had one. Oh and did I mention how tuneable it was? It wasn’t long before mechanics started realising that bulletproof Falcon Aussie 6 power plant could take turbo boost by the shed load. Highway Patrol coppers love them too. Especially on the big long stretches of the Nullarbor Highway.
It might have been different but by god it worked. As the first of the breed, I think these will be the classics.
Toyota Hilux/Landcruiser ‘mine spec’ utes
Any handy bloke worth a pinch of salt has had a crack at mining. Mining is dirty and hands on and that means utes. Big dirty utes. Plus miners makes tonnes of cash. So cashed up fly in, fly out miners drive Landcruisers all week, then fly home. Then what? They put their toys in the Hilux and go camping. This generation of cashed up bogans are going to have fond memories of these work horses. Who knows what the future of Aussie mining is, let alone the V8. But that alone is enough to make a ute the new sandman. These utes will be a big part of peoples’ lives and will be remembered.
No before you say so, not only the Type R one either. But yes that is awesome. Strangely, these seemed to have disappeared from the roads but were fabulous fun to drive. Honda founder Sochiro(?) Honda was a motorbike rider at heart and it shows. Because every Honda when given the berries thinks it’s a motorbike. They rev like stink and just want to rev higher and harder. VTEC is like liquorice or something. Once you have a taste for it, there’s no going back. Nor is front wheel drive the bane of a racer’s existence. With the right driver, they will give the Subaru and the rear drive cars a run for their money. Case in point it’s unique, increasingly scarce, revs like a sewing machine on meth and goes like stink. Classic all the way to the bank.
Holden VT Commodore SS
The big lug has it in spades. This one was the last of the all Aussie Holden V8s. After that the venerable Chevy Gen 3 350 donk has been used ever since. It was designed by Michael Simcoe who drew up the Monaro. It was the first in the line of VT-VZ Commodores that saw a huge Holden renaissance. There was the Monaro, stretch utes, even a 4WD wagon. And it all started with this strapping young VT. Plus for the clanger, it had one of the best colour combos they had too (Ravens Blue?) that really suited the Commodore. A colour that was sorely missed on later models. The VT was a proud Aussie blood nut that would’ve bought a tear its daddy (The Holden HQ Kingswood’s eye). Most have been written off by hoons now or are on bricks. Not fast enough to compete with the newer commodores and not special enough to collect. But they have collectors credibility written all over them. These cars are crackers.
So there you have it…
Yes there’s no real obvious HSVs or FPVs in there. Nothing even that remarkable. You may have even owned one (I have). The point is you would want to own one again. Sometime when you’re fat and sixty wanting to relive your hey day. Maybe you could never afford one and now you want to rub everyone’s nose in it? Or will you just be a Porsche Boxster like everyone else? Either way that’s my view. Watch me fail on this one!