STAGE WRITE

IF I WAS A MILLIONAIRE AND COULD BUY ANY CAR IN THE WORLD, I WOULD HAVE SONNY LEONARDíS 840HP, 615-CUBE BLACK í57 CHEVY GROCERY-GETTER IN A HEARTBEAT

BOB KOTMEL

IKE Ford and Toyota before it, Holden has shut down its car manufacturing plants and thousands of Australians are now out of work, facing uncertain times. My heart goes out to them, and I really hope they find employment. This is going to sound like a dumb idea, but maybe some of them could get together and start their own car reconditioning business. There would be so much combined automotive skill that restoring an old Holden or Ford would be a piece of cake for them. Imagine if you could buy a fully restored Aussie Ford or Holden rebuilt by factory staff?

I know a few millionaires, and in nearly every case theyíve worked hard to get what theyíve got. They started on wages, were good at what they did, took a gamble, went out on their own, started a small business, worked hard, went through some really tough times and after many years are now reaping the rewards. Theyíre not silver-spooners.

Three of these friends recently asked me my Fo d To ota befo e it Holde opinion on buying expensive fast cars new or second-hand. One rang up from Melbourne to tell me heís thinking about buying a new $160K Jeep Trackhawk, which runs 11.6s off the showroom floor. Thatís a pretty quick Jeep. I suggested a Dodge Demon or Hellcat.

Iím not sure if an SRT Demon will ever get to our shores, let alone be able to be registered, as they are a 9.65@140mph wheelstanding factory street machine. But I did see a Hellcat for sale here.

So hereís a challenge: Imagine you had a million dollars in the bank, your net worth is growing daily, youíre getting on in years, know you canít take your money with you and you can have any car you want. What would you buy? Although I really found it hard to put myself in my wealthy friendsí shoes, hereís my evil street machine mind at work.

The first thing is, brand new doesnít always mean reliable. A late-model Mustang owner I know has drama every time he fills up. The engine management does not compute.

Itís been back to the dealer several times, but they havenít fixed the problem. Factory dealers leave a lot to be desired and are partly responsible for the demise of our local car manufacturing industry in my opinion. So if money is no object, Iíd build a tough street machine. Iíd pick a two-door body shape I really liked.

Ford, GM and Chrysler made some killer cars in the late 60s and early 70s. Chrysler has a small following compared to Ford and GM, but I love some of the Mopars of that era.

I wouldnít say no to a íCuda, Challenger, Dart, Road Runner or Charger. If I had to choose one, it would be an American Charger; I probably get that from watching The Dukes Of Hazzard. And for an Aussie Mopar, our homegrown Chargers rule.

For a Ford body, itís really hard to go past the í69 fastback Mustang. It was the best-ever Ford shape in my view. And if I had to pick an Australian Ford, I think Iíd choose an XA/B/C coupe. I love the style of the Aussie Ford

coupe, especially lowered with lots of rubber under the guards.

As for the General, thatís a tough call. There were some really cool GM cars in the late 60s, but for me itís almost impossible to go past a Cokebottle-shaped Camaro for looks. I had a í69 GTO Pontiac, and I loved that bodystyle too. For an Aussie two-door, it would have to be an HK/T/G Monaro.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if you love the shape of a four-door family car like an XY or HQ sedan, then thatís your dream machine.

As for an engine, if you want cheap, reliable power, itís very hard to go past a late-model Ford Barra or turbo LS motor. I know many of you get patriotic about brands, but I reckon a 750hp Barra-powered, 3200lb Aussie Charger would be a 9.3@145mph daily-driven weapon. Yes, you could get the same result by turbocharging an original 265 Hemi-six, but I like the idea of the reliability and fuel efficiency of the late-model Barra conversion.

For Ford power, I reckon a Jon Kaase-built naturally aspirated Boss motor is as good as it gets for a í69 Mustang fastback. But Iím also thinking a twin-turbo late-model Coyote motor with a tricked-up oiling system would be wicked. Or how about one of Dandy Enginesís 1600hp turbo 427-cube Windsors? Thatíd make for a mid-seven-second, 180mph street missile. Iíd love to see one of them raced at Street Machine Drag Challenge.

No need to say much about Chevy power Ė turbo LS motors are finding their way into everything. One of the local hot rodders is putting a twin-turbo LS into his í57 Ford. To a Blue Oval purist thatís treason, but to me itís a very practical budget conversion Ė potentially a 1000-1500hp sleeper.

But all these great cars aside, if I was a millionaire and could buy any car in the world, thereís one that stands out above all others. I would have Sonny Leonardís Alston-chassis, 840hp, 615-cube black í57 Chevy grocerygetter in a heartbeat. s

IF I WAS A MILLIONAIRE AND COULD BUY ANY CAR IN THE WORLD, I WOULD HAVE SONNY LEONARDíS 840HP, 615-CUBE BLACK í57 CHEVY GROCERY-GETTER IN A HEARTBEAT