Our winner Mike will be reading up on How To Drive by Ben Collins, Top Gear’s former Stig, tig, from from under under a a new new AMG AMG cap, while pocketing $200 and a year’s MOTOR subscription. Next month we’re gifting g the the cash, cash, mags, mags, along along with with 911 x 911: The Official Anniversary Book from Porsche. We award ideas, opinions, prose e and and originality. originality. Get Get typing! typing!
WINNER LETTER of the MONTH
ONE LUCKY BASTARD
I’M A LUCKY BASTARD. No, really. You see, 16 years ago you selected me as the “Lucky Bastard” to help judge Performance Car of the Year 2003.
Morley, Hawley, The Fat Controller, SizzleDick – all the legends were there. Victorian country back roads, top speed testing at Avalon Airport (and trying to pull up a Dodge Viper doing 300km/h after missing the brake mark), track testing at Winton (and the look on the photographer’s face when my ambition exceeded my ability at Turn 8), and of course the entertainment put on by the team each night – it was the best week of my life.
Since then I’ve been lucky enough to have some fun cars in my garage. My current daily driver is a Mini Cooper S. But now it’s time for the next car. I looked at a 2017 BMW 440i – a rare manual. Really quick. Quiet. Refined. Classy. But it just wasn’t quite right. An Audi S3 or VW Golf R didn’t do it for me. Honda Civic Type R – ugly as buggery. Nothing was quite right.
And then I found it. This one is a keeper. A 2014, 6.0-litre Holden SSV Ute. What am I thinking? Well, for one, there will never be another real ute. We are also seeing the last of the V8s. And a manual transmission is a thing of the past. The Ute wakes the neighbours every time I start it (hell, it sounds good), it fits the mountain bike in the back, is ideal to take to Bunnings, and I can’t fit a pair of arguing kids in the back. Perfect.
I agonised over this. Should I get a second-hand M2 Pure? An A45? Both choices safe and sensible. But the Ute? A little like that colleague you used to sit next to at work. The one you flirted with, then got a new job and you never saw again. The one you’ve always thought, “what if?”
Yep, the Ute is like that. I wasn’t going to die wondering. I’ve taken the plunge. Pissed off the wife. Put a huge grin on my face. And I’ve taken myself back to 2003 at Winton in an SS Commodore – the bellowing, sideways, uncouth car that scared that photographer. It reminds me why I am such a Lucky Bastard.
Mike, via email
I’ve read MOTOR October’s piece on the Morgan and cannot believe how a marque has bastardised such a classic as the Morgan Plus Six.
I have been through the factory and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into every Morgan. It is like some rich kid has bought a Morgan and swapped parts with his father’s BMW. Very sad.
David Lynch, via email
On Michael Balague’s comments on the Holden Commodore in MOTOR September 2019. Does he forget the Commodore was an Opel-designed car when it was brought to Australia, so it has returned to where it started?
The Commodore is being built by Peugeot now since General Motors sold Opel to the French brand.
Les Menzies, via email
I recall recently seeing a call for the return of Paul Cockburn to the fold.
I have been reading MOTOR long enough to remember his regular contributions and can honestly say his wit and penmanship (and maybe Morley’s) were one of the prime reasons for me subscribing to the magazine 16 years ago!
The quality is still there, along with mostly a good read, but I miss Cockburn and just can’t come to terms with Tiff Needell and his egotistic ramblings of self-praise occupying the same space. Please give Cockburn the space and rid the cringe factor.
Steve Kenny, via email
“Wot’s in a name?” she sez… An’ then she sighs,
An’ clasps ’er little ’ands, an’ rolls ’er eyes.
“A rose,” she sez, “be any other name
Would smell the same.”
(An excerpt from The Sentimental Bloke by C.J Dennis.)
The Holden name should be retired and called General Motors. Well, I offer that Government Motors would be more appropriate considering the amount of taxpayers’ dollars the company has taken.
Donald J Beus, via email
You guys have fallen into the same trap most journos do when comparing acceleration times. When two cars have the same 0-100km/h times they are not neck-a-neck. They are simply travelling at the same speed, with the more accelerative car still way out in front, since it bolted off the line. Time to distance is more meaningful in reality.
These 0-100km/h times are one of the most commonly quoted stats, and manufacturers sometimes even specify gearing to optimise that statistic at the expense of driveability, because it looks better on the spec sheet.
My old WRX could hit 100km/h in six seconds, and the equivalent-era HSV could hit it in five seconds. But the thing is, at five seconds the WRX is still further down the track, to the chagrin of many an HSV owner.
Matt Waite, via Facebook
As a mechanic, I have personally encountered individuals who have asked me to simply wash out and re-use their oil filter; another who asked me to stretch 13-inch tyres onto 14-inch rims. Another customer hit the roof when we billed him for an air filter.
Ol’ matey p’tatey was used to his Kingswood and was dead sure his Camry with that new-fangled EFI malarkey didn’t need an air filter. I shit you not. Reasonable customers are just as much a mechanic’s dream as a car that’s easy to work on.
Greg Broderick, via Facebook
WHAT IS THE GTI-6? It’s got the more powerful engine. It’s pretty high-revving, so you can rev it between three and four grand, and then it keeps going right up until 7000rpm. And it’s got a really good induction note and exhaust note, stock.
WHY’D YOU PICK IT? I live near Daylesford so you can take it out for a drive without going straight into traffic. I had a 306 before this that actually got written off, but it was only the base model and I thought, ‘Well, that handled pretty well, so I’ll see what this has.’
AND? The six-speed close-ratio gearbox also means you can rev out its gears really nicely and use its linear throttle response, as opposed to a turbo or a five-speed, which would be more spread out through the gears.
HOW DO YOU USE IT? I mainly used it as a daily driver for the first couple years, then tucked it away to use it just as a weekender to drive around in. I did a trip up to Queensland and back, which was pretty fun! It handled it flawlessly. Even though it was old when I got it, it would still keep up with newer cars since they are heavier.
FAVOURITE TIME WITH IT? Just getting out somewhere on different roads and knowing you have a car that’s enjoyable to drive on them, rather than just getting you from A to B. You can say, ‘Yeah, I’ll do this’, and feel it through this corner and hold your own with new cars that have fancy stuff like traction control.
PLANS? It’s never burnt any oil or anything. It’s good like that. All original, except a Remus muffler. That’s the best way to keep them. Then put it on club plates in five years. I’ll have to join one [laughs]. Replace the clutch, cam belt and see if it appreciates like the 205 has.
The new Bugatti Chiron top-speed monster (the new Super Sport 300+, which recently clocked 490km/h) is great, but only makes the McLaren F1 seem more impressive. It achieved a two-way average of 386.4km/h (and a 391km/h run in one direction) on March 31, 1998. And this was with no turbochargers, rear-wheel drive, no assisted steering or brakes, and it was a five-year-old customer car. Still the all-time hero in my book.
The Chiron ‘long tail’ is mind-boggling, with an extra 100km/h on top of the F1, but it just can’t compare in my opinion.
Clinton Down, via Facebook
I’ve spent two weeks in Europe (Portugal and Hungary) driving at speeds that would see me locked up back home in Australia.
My trusty steed was only a Fiat Tipo diesel station wagon, but I must say it cruised at 135-160km/h without much fuss. At those speeds it goes through diesel quicker than Donald Trump goes through characters on a tweet.
But what impressed me about European driving is the fact you can do the above speeds safely. And I think this comes down to driver training, and more importantly drivers’ attitudes.
The majority of drivers will not dawdle in the fast lane; they will move over as soon as they have overtaken; they will not tailgate. Trucks will stick to the slower lanes. Oh, and as for the Speed Kills mentality, I can tell you I concentrated harder on the 300km trip at close to 130km/h than I would at 100km/h on the Hume.
I arrived refreshed and surprised to see a hearse pass me while I was doing 130km/h. Couldn’t see if there were any paying customers in there!
Nektis Pariss, via Facebook
So I’ve read that F1 wants to drop the Motor Generator Unit Heat component from powertrains to cut costs, boost simplicity and even the playing field come 2021. While I welcome those things, along with louder turbocharged engines, I can’t help but feel like it’s a step away from the sport’s point.
It is, as Cyril Abiteboul put it, made up of technological companies, and currently four manufacturers have aligned themselves with F1 because its format challenges their engineering capabilities and highlights them when they get it right.
This is the driving force behind Formula One’s bleeding-edge technological smarts.
Francis Jollins, via email
Georg Kacher more or less opens his article on the new Cayman GT4 (August 2019) bemoaning the lack of PDK and longing for the ability to “stick the lever in Drive and indulge in a slo-mo waft until the road clears”.
Poor old Georg sounds like he’s really lost his zest for life: joining the distracted, auto-zombie traffic brigade while some of us still revel in the joys of manual-shifting, which keeps us more engaged, able to concentrate on traffic flows, less prone to distraction and generally more aware.
Tantric Six? Sounds like he needs a self-shifting Cayman with a flat-four to me…
Alex Bryden, via email
The staff on the magazine would take the manual, don’t worry, Alex...
YOUR MONTH IN SOCIAL MEDIA
Tag your pics with #motormag so we can find you
1. James Keene on Facebook “Hillclimb at Bathurst not long ago in my weekend roady”
2. robwithers on Instagram “10 days until I find out how well I have screwed this motor together”
3. Benny Jay on Facebook “2004 Ford Falcon DJR320, build 14“
4. Glee Brady on Facebook“Which one do I drive?” Both!
5. Gerald Koning on Facebook “Just sharing my drive for the weekend” Looks the goods!
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