Whether tired of loaning his beloved V8 Ford to his eldest son or perhaps because of a nod toward teenage rite of passage, my Father took me to Brisbane to look at used cars in 1955. Two years later at 18 I’d finished National Service intensives, and with civilian and army licence backing felt ready to tackle anything that moved.
Eric my Dad was passionate about vehicles and a kaleidoscope of cars entered and left his possession over the years. Sniffing around Brisbane used car lots as was his custom he rested loving eyes on the Vauxhall Velux and thought of his son. It looked like an abandoned child from a working-class family, and that is likely why Eric in sympathy as a survivor of the great depression warmed to its possibilities. On his next trip to the Capital he took his son.
Eric bought cheap and was canny enough to know he could fix what he purchased and add to his fortune on rebuilt cars using considerable mechanical skills. It was his hobby as a diversion from many business interests. He probably thought his son would have the same interest when he urged the car on me, and loaned money with an easy repayment plan to make it mine. I gratefully took the keys and headed for the hundred-mile journey from the State Capital Brisbane to the little rural town Gympie Australia where we lived at the time followed by a blue smoke haze.
The motor was worn out in all but speed. That suited me fine. My friend Max the mechanic inspected the car and noted with concern the blue contrails as he tested it on the highway. As a mechanic and car lover he was horrified at its obvious need of a rebuild but in the meantime advised me to put in ten gallons of oil every time I filled with a gallon of petrol. He was perhaps exaggerating.
Eric expected me to immediately pull the motor down and do what was necessary to restore it to its original pristine glory. In my teenage years I had other things on my mind and never got around to it.
But I did put my heart into adding value immediately. With the addition of white sidewalls which were thought super cool in those days, artificial foxtail and several flags on the antenna indicating places of note visited, reflector strips on the sides, and a Model T Ford 6 volt horn plugged into a 12v battery that shrieked a happy welcome to impressed pedestrians the Velox was a notable sight around town.
The Velox had a gear change lever on the steering wheel which had an interesting history of coming adrift at the most inopportune times requiring a pause by the side of the road to get into the engine compartment and reattach rods that connected with the gearbox. These pauses were misinterpreted by young ladies who’d been persuaded to accompany me to some form of entertainment around town and it became apparent this glorious car had to go.
So, noting the local Marching Girls troop were interested in more sporty kind of vehicles the Land Rover era took over no doubt inspired by my recent conscription into the Army for a period of National Service and my Vauxhall treasure found its way back to the used car market to be replaced by a Land Rover to the appreciative nod of marching girls who packed in to the limited passenger space to be ferried around town for their practices and trips to the beach on weekends.
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