ONE OF MY cars is a 1990 VN Holden Calais V8 manual. Quite rare – I’ve personally seen only two in 25 years, bought the second and been made aware of only a half-dozen others by various Facebook pages – this one is a factory built/tagged but untidy high-miler. It runs and drives but its engine isn’t original and some components – such as the air-con compressor and condenser – are missing.

I probably shouldn’t have bought it and I probably paid too much!

My plan is to restore it to its 1990s glory by respraying the dark metallic blue paint, binning the bling wheels, the P-plate-spec chopped springs and the cheapo sports steering wheel and refurbishing the interior. Unlike my twoowner, full-books, collector spec Phoenix Red V8 Calais auto, this blue manual can never be ‘original condition’ so I’ll probably modify it with a lopey Crow cam and dual exhaust, and daily-drive it… just like many of us did in the 1990s!

With my new project (yes… another one!) safely at home, I began searching for all the parts I needed. I soon found the correct Holden sports springs and Calais wheels close to home and some Calais-spec interior door cards appeared on a FB page from rural Victoria.

Buying car parts from interstate is usually impractical – or by buying sight-unseen, laced with danger – but as I travel regularly for my roles with Street Machine and 4x4 Australia magazines, I can sometimes plan my treks so that I can collect car parts and I’ve collected headlights, seats and wheels from as far as Brisbane and Melbourne.

I know I’m lucky to be able to do this as most other car nuts must deal with couriers, shipping etc with the extra costs and hassle that can take the ‘gain’ out of a ‘bargain’.

Anyhow, these Calais door cards seemed to be exactly what I wanted. The seller double-checked with me to make sure that I knew exactly what I was buying: Calais-spec door cards to suit a VN. Grey, not brown… No rips… No tears… No damage. Yep!

I asked if I may collect personally, if he was happy to wait…? Yes, no problem. So rather than fly to Melbourne for a recent Street Machine event, I drove so that I could collect these door cards without the extra hassle or expense of having the seller ship them to me.

I love a good road trip so was on the road before dawn enjoying the scenery of southern NSW and northern Vic, with a break – and a terrific pie – at Holbrook. Excellent! But when I knocked on the door of the seller’s house nine hours after leaving home, I was presented with the little cloth-covered ‘door cards’ that fit above the armrests… not the complete interior door panels that I was expecting. And no, I’m not criticising the seller… This bloke did his best to describe and clarify what he was selling, but our definitions/ interpretations of door ‘cards’ and ‘trims’ were different!

Goddamn… In hindsight, I can’t believe I didn’t ask for one simple, easy phone pic… all I could do was laugh!