ROTARY RAVE

ED:

Great to see the coverage of Japanese classics in issue 426. And especially the Mazda RX-3 story.

Having had a mint, original Series 1 RX-7 recently, and an NSU Ro80, I’ve been a bit of a rotary fan – as well as owning all sorts of cars from a 324cc 2-cylinder to a 7.7-litre V8. One element of your story is a bit contradictory. It repeats several times that the RX-3’s fuel consumption was high. But in fact, it was only high compared to similar sized cars – Corollas and such, which had far inferior performance. The cars which had similar performance to the RX-3 had similar fuel consumption. Your story even mentions that for $200 more you could have bought a Charger. Would the Charger owner have worried about fuel consumption? Of course not, and nor did an RX-3 owner.

In 1972 the cost of a litre of fuel in Australia was just 10 cents.

The RX-3 was a compact performance car – and Mazda also offered the same car with a traditional engine, the 808, which gave economy and performance like other cars of its size. It’s time the RX-3 stopped being unfairly maligned for this.

Paul Blank Perth

ED: Thanks for that, Paul. You make a good case. We had another reader – Dave Hudson – point out there were some non-original parts on our RX-3 cover car. Given its age, that’s not entirely surprising, but it remains one of the best unrestored examples we’ve seen in a while.

HEAVY METAL

I’m in the market for a used 4X4. Something that hasn’t been worked too hard. A little bit of style & luxury would be good, and if it has some unique collectibility prospects, all the better. Budget limit around $15k.

A tidy looking 04 VW Touareg V10 TDI Diesel, with 180k on the clock, for $11k, seemed to tick a lot of those boxes. I’ve been in awe of that car since Top Gear towed a 747 with one, & I know they’re a rare beast, with not many made.

So I booked an RACQ inspection for it.

Then, while prowling the net for more info on the V10 Touareg I came across an article on Jalopnik called The VW Touareg V10 TDI was more of a nightmare than you can ever imagine! It detailed the many gremlins that VW had built into its technical tour de force, most of them electrical. The real deal breaker however was when they mentioned that the V10 Lump was so crammed into the thing, it requires total removal for most service items! & if that wasn’t bad enough, the rig is so large it requires a special oversized Hoist to raise the body off it, which VW Dealers had to install, before they were allowed to sell & service one. Which means I’d be restricted to dealer services forever!

Now this is a well looked after car (full service history) that I’d lusted after for years, at a price I could finally afford, with excellent collectibility potential (they never made many, & with those service requirements most are heading to an early grave). So was I brave enough to bite the bullet? Not this Little Black Duck!

Caveat Emptor People! Caveat Bloody Emptor!

Gary G Smith Ravenshoe, Qld

ED: Yep, there are days when an old banger with a humble pushrod six or eight in the snout seems to make a lot of sense.

“THE VW TOUAREG V10 TDI WAS MORE OF A NIGHTMARE THAN YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE!”

ROAD SONGS AND TV CARS

I’ve been a bit slack, should have written this a while back. Iconic cars used by detectives: Jack Irish (Fitzroy detective in ABC three one-offs and two series) drove a Studebaker Hawk until it got totalled, then “graduated” to a Rover 2000.

Road songs: Well, this is right up there for me -“Party On Wheels”, by The Takeaways a fictitious group from the ABC series Sweet And Sour. Lead on this track is James Reyne. Thought that I’d nominate it because nobody else will!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb5tP8YzE8k

Hope you enjoy it. Keep the plugs sparking.

MORLEY: From A Studebaker to a Rover? Now that’s a definition of `graduated’ I was previously unfamiliar with. But good lord! Sweet and Sour. Now, I haven’t heard that mentioned in a month of Sundays. But I swear, as a young bloke, I used to watch that on the ABC. My excuse was that my girlfriend at the time, the highly pneumatic Debbie, was a huge fan, but even I had to admit, there was something catchy about the music. I don’t recall James Reyne being in the show, but I think his brother David was. The music for the show was a who’s who of ANZAC talent including Don Walker, Ian Moss, David McComb, as well as Sharon O’Neill, Reg Mombassa and even Todd Hunter from Dragon. So it was always going to be fairly musically switched on. And if memory serves, the lead female in the show was Tracey Mann, but the actual singing was the work of Deborah Conway of Do Re Mi fame. Also, the Aussie car flick Running On Empty (Remember, `That‘s nice, green is nice’?) featured Deborah as the female lead.

Believe it or not, late last year there was a big Running On Empty festival out at Cobar in western NSW where large chunks of the movie were shot in the run up to the film’s 1982 release. I don’t believe Ms Conway attended.

Richard Fisher, Email