PROJECT COMMODORE!

UNABLE TO RESIST A BARGAIN, GLENN TORRENS GRABS A PIECE OF 80S AUSSIE LUXURY

WORDS & PHOTOS GLENN TORRENS

IT POPPED up on one of the Facebook sales pages I regularly haunt: It’s an Atlantis Blue VC Holden Commodore SL/E. It looked to be all-there and was quite reasonably priced. Just three suburbs away, a poke and a prod under the tarpaulin in the seller’s backyard revealed a Commodore that I thought could be easily brought back to life.

THE CARS

’76 BMW 633 Owned since 2014 Miles 134,251

’1980 VOLVO 262C Owned since 2017 Kms 215,000

’66 SHELBY GT350 Owned since 1996 Miles 55,085

’79 KINGSWOOD Owned since 1982 Kms 361,491

’79 VB COMMODORE Owned since 2016 Kms 143,000

’90 MAZDA MX-5 Owned since 2016 Kms 240,329

1982 VC SL/E Owned since 2018 Kms 57,268

’79 RS2000 Owned since 2012 Kms 139,083

It’s one of my favourite cars and pretty much my favourite colour. And even though my garage has enough ‘projects’ in it… How could I resist?

Towed home a few days later, I got stuck into the old girl. Judging by the stunning condition of the interior, I reckon this poor old dame has been cherished for maybe 25 of her 35 years. But then, as with the life cycle of many cars, a new young owner has stuffed a set of lowered springs and a blarey sports exhaust underneath… And then, no surprise, he crashed it.

“I RECKON THIS POOR OLD DAME HAS BEEN CHERISHED FOR MAYBE 25 OF HER 35 YEARS”

The boot-lid and nose were damaged, although not too badly. Windscreen and turret damage from a falling tree branch during a storm had sentenced the SL/E to a couple of years in a backyard where the cockroaches had moved in and many interior parts had acquired a feint green haze of mould. The day I inspected it, the front carpets were under water. Yuk!

At home, a closer look along the doors and rear quarters revealed a few minor wibbles and wobbles… but nothing that would require more than few weekends’ worth of effort to fix. There was some rust, too, in the usual VB-VL Commodore traps of the panel below front and rear windscreens and a few bubbles in the spare tyre well. No big deal.

Under the bonnet is the standard 3.3-litre Holden blue six-cylinder. The dash shows just 57,000km and lifting the oil filler cap showed an engine that is sludge-free inside. One of the ideas I have is to (maybe) plonk in a later-model fuel injected Holden V8 and four-speed auto – both from a VN or later Commodore – to create a terrific cruiser.

With no log books, an obviously patchy past and the fact it needs restoration, this car will never be a true big-buck collectorspec like an original books-and-condition time-warper. But that’s not going to stop me restoring it to showroom-fresh condition to create a cruiser that any Aussie car nut would throw a thumbs-up at.

It’s survived this long so it deserves to be pretty again!