STREET MACHINE Summernats 31 was a blinder. The temperatures in Canberra were scorching for the most part, but that didn’t deter over 100,000 punters and a total of 2145 entrants from passing through the gates of Exhibition Park in Canberra.
My ride for the weekend was the freshly repaired Turbo Taxi. If you haven’t heard of it, the Turbo Taxi is a former Melbourne cab that has been treated to a bunch of force-fed hot-up goodies – while retaining LPG fuel, rubber floor mats and all of the other taxi accoutrements.
Scarily, Scotty aquaplaned off the road on Day Three of Drag Challenge last year, causing serious damage to a bunch of panels, the intercooler and a hundred other bits. Luckily, the guys in the car were unharmed, but I can tell you it was alarming to receive the phone call. After checking that the car was still straight, Scotty got to work repairing it, ready for me to drive up to the ’Nats in the New Year. Luckily yellow taxi panels are plentiful in the wrecking yards!
And while the Taxi is the pure definition of a dunger, it has been massively popular on our YouTube channel and I can tell you that after driving it around for a couple of weeks, it has plenty of fans in the real world, too! I took plenty of them for laps around the cruise route and no, I didn’t charge them a cent!
The taxi theme is a hit even with the non-car people I meet – it always produces smiles and questions at every rest stop – and car folk appreciate the budget factor. While the builds like these aren’t chrome-bumper cool, they can be blindingly fast for minimal bucks. And if you blow an engine or gearbox, a dirt-cheap replacement is as close as your nearest wrecker.
She’s also comfy on a long haul, cheap to fill up and you can bet we were glad to have airbags when we pranged it.
The thing I look forward to most about Summernats is seeing what new cars turn up, and this year produced a bumper crop. However, the car that got me the most revved up wasn’t a new build; in fact it was over 40 years old – namely the GForce Junkie HK Monaro. Built by Steve Langham in the late 70s, the HG-fronted coupe was one of the toughest street cars in NSW in its day, complete with blown 427 big-block power. Steve sold the car and went on to build an equally famous Pro Street-style Chev Monza (SM, Feb/Mar 1983).
In the late 80s, the HK found its way into the hands of 17-year old Bill Stevenson who – somewhat incredibly – drove it regularly on the street, before putting it in storage for decades.
Bill and his mates spent four months before the ’Nats getting the car back into roadworthy condition, and it caused a sensation when it lobbed in Canberra. Bill plans to preserve the car just as it is, patina and all. In fact, the cracks on the rear quarters were caused by cow saliva!
Seems Bill stored it in a cow shed for a while, where the bovine occupants developed a taste for HK Monaro.
While we’d heard rumours that GForce Junkie was a survivor, it was awesome to see such an important part of our sport’s history still in such amazing condition. Search streetmachine.com.au for a cool video we shot on the day, and look out for a feature story on the car in an upcoming issue. s