THE PAINT was faded on the roof and there were a couple of pimples of rust. But the chrome was clean and classy; the interior needed no more than a good scrub with upholstery cleaner and there weren’t any dents. And this lovely WB Statesman parked on the grass at the cruise was FOR SALE…
Owner Dave introduced himself and invited me to take a close look.
I sat in the driver’s seat and, like a little kid, made vrrmm vrrmm noises as I wiggled the steering wheel, getting a big laugh from Dave. A more serious inspection showed a perfect set of floors and no more than a mist of oil around the often-weepy rocker cover gaskets. Being one of the last of these Statesmans made – a De Ville Series II from late 1984 – it had Holden’s then high-tech trip-computer and all the hardware required for it to function remained in place, as did the air-con and everything else. Nothing was missing, nothing was wrong and it looked as fresh and honest as you’d expect from a car with just 129,000km.
Dave had bought it from the original owner and, with H-plates, cruised regularly with one of the local classic Holden car clubs. Recently, he’d had a fresh dual exhaust fitted and replaced the brake master cylinder. Nothing else, as Dave said, because there was simply no need. Dave was keen to see it go to a good home. He’d recently retired and was soon to travel around Australia in a caravan. His Monaro was stored in his double garage, as was much of his furniture, and the house was to be rented while he was livin’ the dream. The Statesman was simply one car too many. Make an offer, he said.
I stood there scratching my chin and thinking how wonderful it would be to cruise in this lovely old prime-minister mobile… That lusty V8… I had a bit of spare money… And after owning a HQ Premier V8 for more than a decade, I know how they work.
But then grown-up reality replaced little-kid enthusiasm. I found myself shaking my head. With a VW Beetle and VC Commodore SL/E both half-stripped/half-restored in my workshop, another VW Beetle body-shell (my next race car) on a trolley; my Volvo and my brown Commodore wagon all requiring attention in the next few months, buying the Statesman would be silly… Another car was simply too much. I thanked Dave and walked away, confident of the rationality of my well-considered, mature and sensible grown-up decision.
Two days later as I sipped my morning cuppa, I had an epiphany (Google that!). It was like I was in a scene in a chick-flick where a Hugh Grant-like character realises the obvious love of their life, their soul-mate, their perfect partner, their yang to their yin is about to get on a plane or train and disappear from their lives forever… The Statesman was a stunner; a bargain; a beautiful low-kay example of glorious home-grown Aussie luxury and I’d be crazy not to buy it.
I rang the seller and of course, it had sold later that day.
I’ve been sitting on my back verandah for the last half-hour, my head hung in shame at my stupidity: YOU IDIOT.