There can never be a bad time to enjoy a car show and nobody, apart from the bloke who chose to camp in a leaky tent, was complaining as the cloud dissolved and open spaces surrounding Willowbank Raceway an hour west of Brisbane filled with cars.
This isn’t a high-profile drag-racing event, although participants are invited to try their skills and reflexes on the track. No, the annual Autospectacular is more social than combative and welcomes absolutely anyone with an interest in historic or high-performance motor vehicles.
Isolated showers may have deterred a few but the roll-out of cars was still massive. From 7.00am the carparks surrounding the drag-strip, go-kart tracks and dirt circuit sprouted with colour and by 9.00 the carpet of cars extended all the way to the access road.
They came individually, in social or family groups, or organised and en masse.
The Autospectacular has become a popular destination for Club Runs, giving owners of vehicles on restricted registration the opportunity to legally exercise their historic vehicles with a decent run into the countryside.
Largest of the official groupings brought together a massive display of local Fords from the 1960s to most recent models. A massive turn-out by members of the XR Falcon Club in particular stood as tribute to a brand which will not be allowed, if its supporters have their way, to fade into history.
Against the roar and screech from the very adjacent dragstrip we managed to chat with several owners and get close to a variety of cars that brought individuality to a day where any car with character will be warmly welcomed and admired.
PHILLIP MURPHY is a Ford man many times over, having owned everything from a clutch of A Models to an F100 pickup and V8 Mustang. Then this V6-engined ‘mini Mustang’ caught his eye.
“I just liked the shape of it and the style,” Phillip said of his 1970 model Capri GT. “It’s a lot more comfortable than the older cars and it goes pretty well too,” he confirmed.
Auto Spectacular 2018 marked the Capri’s first show outing since joining the Murphy fleet, which now also includes a pair of 1929 Plymouths. “Until today I’d only driven it about 20 kilometres, Phillip said, “so this is a pretty big outing.” The task of travelling from home at Plainlands, just west of Ipswich to Willowbank would hold no terrors for a model that during the 1970s regularly collected silverware at the annual Bathurst 1000 enduro.
However, Phillip’s car isn’t likely to venture anywhere near the track.
“I just enjoy going to shows and seeing the cars and talking to people so that’s what I hope I will be doing a lot in this one.
ANDREW WILSON is an enthusiast of eclectic tastes. In addition to the Camaro that was his car of choice for this year’s Autospectacular (it was also for sale) he owns or has previously owned a huge variety of vehicles.
“I’ve had pretty much everything,” Andrew said. “Recently though it’s been a 1942 Fargo, 1950 Ford F100 and a couple of 1940s Hudsons. I’m only selling the Camaro because I’ve run out of shed space.” The car was acquired more than a year ago from Portland, Oregon and served as Andrew’s transport during a US trip before being shipped home, accompanied by a huge stock of original parts and spares.
“I’m the third owner and the car comes with all the documentation plus I’ve got the original wheels, suspension, even the headlight covers and all the vacuum gear that goes with them. There alone you’re looking at $1000 in the USA and that’s if you can even find the stuff.”
THE OWNER of this magnificent and very scarce Chrysler could be forgiven if its restoration had fallen a little short of perfection.
The Newport Wagon is among the rarest of its breed and its exceptional condition is the result of four years intensive work and many hours spent accumulating parts.
The car was originally from California and when acquired so afflicted by rust that grass could be seen through the floor-pans. A complete strip and rebuild followed, including fabrication of unobtainable items and intense work reviving those components that could be re-used.
“Some parts are compatible with similar Dodge models but things such as the head-lining are unique to this model and had to be reproduced,” Barry explained.
Then came registration in a country not familiar with cars that can accommodate this many people.
“In the USA,” Barry said. “It will accommodate nine people. In Australia, unless I wanted to go through the process of registering it as a bus, it’s an eight-seater with the rearmost seat only legal for two.”
NATHAN WEST is the 4th owner of this genuine HD 179 Special that was sold originally at Roma in central QLD but found its way eventually to Fernvale in the Brisbane Valley.
“I only bought it five weeks ago from a 92 year-old man who has kept in very nice condition,” Nathan said. “I haven’t had to do much to it and don’t think I will as you don’t see many that are this original.” Nathan is a bit of a ‘barn find’ fiend.
His other car which stayed at home on Autospectacular Day is a 1275cc Mini Cooper S which he rescued from ‘storage’ and brought back to running condition.
In keeping with its wonderfully authentic condition, the HD comes with a range of original Holden accessories including the Diamond Dot radio, rear venetian, wheel-trims, mudflaps and headlight protectors. As part of his display, Nathan also brought along a selection of period items like a picnic basket, rare portable radio, LP records and the obligatory possum tail hanging from the mirror.
“Just for a bit of fun and to spark some memories from people who recall things like that.
IT IS HARD for any former ‘Datto’ owner (and there are many of us) to see a car like Shane Davis’ 1600 sedan and not feel a pang of why-did-I-ever-sell-it? envy.
Shane himself is a former 1600 owner; having had one as a second car back in the 1990s. But it was nothing like the example on display at Willowbank.
“The paint is Bionic Blue and it’s got a 2.0-litre motor, twin Webers and a five speed out of a 240K,” Shane revealed with the eagerness of a man who never gets tired of talking about his car. “It’s got uprated brakes out of a Commodore and we have had it on the track up at Lakeside but just for the cruise, nothing serious.”
Would he consider giving the 1600 a run in its more natural environment? – the Dirt Sprint circuit located a literal stone’s throw from where the car was parked on this sunny Sunday.
“Oh no,” came the quick response.
“My son looks after the presentation and he wouldn’t like that at all. It isn’t a show car but we still managed to pick up a trophy for Best Japanese at a recent local display for charity so it certainly attracts attention.”