Up Front



WHAT is a fun thing you can buy for your street car for under $5? Air for tyres? A carbyful of fuel? Two big cable ties to fasten your nephew’s hands together in the shed?

Or how about a copy of the December 1985 Street Machine? I paid $3.99 for mine (free postage) off eBay. The cover price is $2.80, so over the 11,131 days (give or take) since it was published, its value has increased by a mere $1.19. If an astute investor had bought 35 copies back in 1985, it would equate to a free carton of beer in 2016. Free bloody beer – I’m drier than a Nullarbor rabbit!

So to celebrate Street Machine’s 35th birthday – yep, the first issue of this august tome came out in 1981 – here’s my thoughts on that December ’85 mag, a typical issue from an era in which SM was the biggest-selling car mag on our island, Brocky was selling Group As, the flat-top was the coolest haircut going, and there was no such thing as demerit points or mobile phones. selling


HQFORU: SM’s first ever giveaway car is close to my heart. You see, I’ve been looking at SM giveaway cars for a decade and a half now, and finally my time has come – I am going to win the 2016 Torry hatch, thereby giving me a direct and tangible link back to HQFORU from MYHATCH. This HQ coupe is one of the best-looking cars to have ever graced SM (Rex Webster’s FJ is the other contender – check it out on p220); it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a red Q coupe with the Heartbeat of America under the bonnet! The 80s styling lines and modifications are unmistakeable; the colour-coded bumpers and red-lined grille look great against the blackedout window frames and the big red Chev badge sitting proud and loud on the nose as it should. Pumped front and rear guards stretch out over the BF Goodrich rubber – a stark contrast to the current tuck-and-tub look. The Momo tiller, roof-mounted aerial and Sabelt harnesses slung over the seats are as 80s as my tape collection.

BADBUG: This chopped matte-black LHD flame-job-wearing Beetle is another feature car close to my heart – I dig the dak-daks. I wonder if a Bug sporting a boxer four would make it into a 2016 edition of SM?

Torry hatch has no front bumper and a small chrome air cleaner sticking out of the bonnet – just like the current trend. And it has Hotwire rims. Damn, I miss Hotwires. The engine block and inlet manifold look resplendent in gold against the chromed-out engine bay. Flared, fat and fantastic. If this car was a song it would be Scarred For Life by Rose Tattoo.

GOLDEN GLOW EH: An oldie golden Holden with pumped guards and jellybean mags. It’s got a 186 with triple SUs and a ridgy-didge handbuilt-by-the-owner velour interior. That is the great thing about these old mags – I close my eyes and I can hear that engine: alloy timing gear, Genie extractors, the intake draw of triples, and even a doubleshuffle down-shift. All hail the Holden red six. And the Alpine tape player.

EAT351 TORANA HATCH: This black


UP FRONT: Editor Phil Scott puts the Ford Motor Company “on blast” for canning the V8 and the turbo six. He gets a fair old wind up too; I kind of feel sorry for the Ford guys. Oh yeah, except they are massive wankers.

ALMOST UP FRONT: The announcement that SM will be sponsoring the Street Machine Nationals #7 in Canberra; Graeme Cowin slaying them in the US with his 266.27mph Trans Am.

PLANKKMAN: Planko laments the loss of the Holden red. I can write no more – even though it was over 30 years ago, it’s still too raw. By the way, not many people know Brian Plankkman is Ricky Muir’s godfather.

SHOOTIN’ THE BREEZE: Chic Henry writes about the upcoming Street Machine Nationals and how he wants to set up a trade area at the Nats so owners are able to drive up in their street car and have their Holley carbs seen to by industry reps. He also writes about murals and van paintjobs dying.


INSIDE the cover is the same ‘VK vs 911’ ad I read as a schoolboy. The 911 is only a bee’s dick faster than a VK but twice the price; when I read that, I wanted a VK.

There are a few full-page colour ads for the old cancer sticks, too. One that I find interesting is the one for Marlboro; I watched PB win Bathurst the year prior in the Group C Marlboro VK, and my fave mag was littered with ads for Marlboro cancer sticks – and still I never have tried a cigarette!

A black-and-white Redline inlet manifolds ad shows five manifolds, four of which are for six-cylinders (two crossflows, two red) – only one is for a V8. That shows you how far street machines have come in the past three decades; where I lived back then, there were a hell of a lot of hot sixes and only a few V8s. V8s are considered the norm now.

Other ads that caught my eye: 15x30in sunroofs, a bargain at $139; chrome traction bars (tramp rods) are great value at $49 a pair; a Chev Torker II inlet manifold is $199 (you’d pay that for a carby inlet for an LS1 today); Roadrunner Engines are selling a Stage 3 208 Holden red long motor for $854.

SO THERE you go – if you good people are keen for a bench race, expression session, chinwag, truthtelling contest or a few stubbies in the shed, there’s plenty more SM history for you to enjoy over the next 50 or so pages.

Makes me want to go crack 88mph in my VK.