Mum the hoon


Craig Avery Theodore, ACT

Love your workshop; best part of the mag if you ask me… It’s interesting that you have bought up the Chrysler Centura. This was my first car and the one I learnt on. Moonstone was the color, JSB-644 was the NSW number-plate. I can attest, this car was very quick in standard trim with the 245 Hemi six. It was a rocket off the line and brilliant at overtaking at 100km/h.

It was my mother’s car until it passed on to me. She loved it and drove it how it should have been driven.

She has many stories about that car, but one has stuck in my head for years. She was at a set of traffic lights; on the right was a loud hotted-up HZ panel-van and on the far right was a hotted-up Falcon Coupe (probably an XB).

Both drivers were eyeing each other off and revving up for a traffic light grand prix. The lights go green, mum floors the Centura and leaves them in her dust. She said when they caught up to her, their mouths were open so far, their chins were scraping the floor.

I ended up trading it in on a 1982 VH SL/E V8 (it had a red 308 and Rochester four-barrel in it for some reason) and it was nowhere as quick as the Centura. I hope the Centura still exists, but she was succumbing to rust when I let go of her. I’ve included a picture of her on a trip around NSW when I was a kid. Note the two other brown cars in the convoy – the Cortina and the Premier – they couldn’t keep up…


Morley says...

LOVELY YARN, Craig. My own dear mum is one of those people who probably never should have had a license but does. I shudder to think of the carnage he’d have created with a Hemi-powered Centura under her. She was most put out when my dad bought a V8 HQ Kingswood and he always reckoned she felt like a German soldier driving a tank in that HQ. Mind you, with a manual trans and no power-steering, I can kind of see her point.

Your VH SL/E with the red 308 seems like a bit of an oddity, because by then, Holden had switched to the blue engines. So maybe somebody blew up the original donk and transplanted an earlier one to get back on the road.

Wouldn’t have mattered much, because while the differences between the red and blue six-cylinder Holden motors were pretty major, there were vastly fewer differences between the blue and red V8s. In fact, the big change was the move to fit the 253 (or 4.2 litre as it was by then) with the Rochester carb a la the five-litre rather than the little two-barrel that had been fitted to the red 253 since the engine was first seen in the HT.

And don’t be dismissive of the Rochester carb just because it’s what the factory chose to fit: They’re actually highly regarded in the trade and are reckoned to be as good as any aftermarket carb of the same cfm rating.

And apparently, with a few demon tweaks, the old Rochester four-barrel can seriously outperform many an aftermarket carb.