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This week I returned from a long visit to my homeland South Africa; during this time I spent three weeks in the magnificent Kruger National Park. On the way from Joburg to Kruger – which is about six hours driving on beautiful, well-marked, smooth, wide roads – I was passed on two occasions by two fairly new Holden SS V8 Utes (badged Chevrolet in South Africa.) I was driving a rented Toyota Corolla 1.6 and doing a steady 140km/h. The two Holden (Chev) V8 Utes flew past me doing probably 170-180km/h.
I smiled and laughed at the joy of these two brute V8s doing what they were designed and meant to do – go bloody fast. What a wonderful sight watching the two big Aussies rapidly disappearing at speed, V8s singing a beautiful song.
It highlighted the pleasure of driving in South Africa. Very few speed cameras, no Highway Patrol, no school zones, hardly any police. Just get on with things and enjoy life without nanny-state Big Brother watching your every move. It also allows you to watch the road, not the speedo.
Australia is a great country, but driving here, sadly, can be a painful chore and no longer enjoyable.
David Porter, Bondi Junction, NSW
As most new cars have space for a full-size spare wheel, why are space savers called ‘spacer savers’? Surely they can’t be weight savers as they are made from steel. Would it be more accurate to call them cost-savers for the manufactures? Given that there are ADR regulations for appropriate wheel and tyre sizes that can be fitted to a car, how can space savers be approved as safe?
Ian Gibson, Kangaroo Point, Qld
In all your car reviews, I cannot recall reading an assessment of headlight performance. This is a potential safety issue and some vehicles may not measure up. I had a D40 Nissan Navara until recently that had pathetic headlights – not so noticeable in the city, but extremely deficient in the country. I installed higher rated bulbs to improve the lighting performance, along with a set of driving lights. Surely it can’t be too hard for manufacturers to fit a decent set of bulbs in headlights?
Then there’s instrument panel legibility. The aforementioned Nissan Navara was so poor in this regard that it needed an additional GPS speed unit so I could see how fast I was going in the daytime. Some vehicles have instruments that look lovely at night but are very hard to read in bright daylight, especially if they are set back in the binnacle. What is wrong with white needles on black dials for decent legibility and to avoid potential safely issues?
John Robinson, via email
The introduction of the new Brabham BT62 supercar has given new optimism as to what can be achieved in Australia if we try hard enough. Until now, a lot of Australians never thought that building a world-class supercar in Australia was possible, but we now know it is very doable.
David, thanks for sharing your experience in South Africa, and the evocative imagery of the now-extinct great Aussie V8 ute at full noise. Enjoy the next 12 issues of Wheels on us.
When Brabham Automotive starts production here, it will create hundreds of new local jobs and will earn millions in export dollars for Australia.
For the last 15 years, before the announcement of the Brabham BT62, Joss Developments has built Joss Supercar prototypes. Like the Brabham, it too is a premium quality, world-class supercar that could sell well in Australia and abroad. But sadly the Joss hasn’t made it into production because the company hasn’t been able to get adequate funding in order to do so.
If an Australian company can provide the funding to get the Brabham supercar into production, surely there is an Australian business that could help find funding to get the Joss supercar finally into production?
Malcolm Webster, Boronia, Vic
The German word schadenfreude (taking pleasure in another’s misfortune) seemed a fair response as I scanned the Marketplace section in the June issue looking in vain for sales of the Holden Commodore.
Having pulled the pin on local production, Holden has imported a medium-sized generic German hatch as a replacement. Your own review in the same issue recognises the Calais version is a Calais in name only.
Instead of letting the Commodore nameplate go out on the high that the VFII model served, Holden has done its version of replacing Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men. Younger, leaner and better house-trained, but what made it work is gone. The broader history of Commodore will be tainted by this last, unloved orphan.
Mark Walland, Mornington, Vic
I recently test-drove the ZB Commodore, and while I found that the turbo four fast and handled really well, the six is a slug, and I would not buy it.
After being a Holden owner since 1965, my next new car will not be a Holden. Several reasons for this: no full-size spare tyre.
I live in the country and in the last five years I have shredded a tyre on two occasions more than 500km from home. A full-sized spare saved me.
Map updates for navigation are $180 without service $129 with a scheduled service. Then there’s the resale of around 40 percent. I doubt Holden will be still trading as Holden within three to five years (how does GM Australia sound?)
Instead I’ll be looking at a Subaru Forester, or the new Genesis G70 or possibly a Kia Stinger to replace my VEII Calais.
John Gourlie, via email
Having long considered diesel as the best option for my next long-distance road-tripping family truckster, your Dirty Deeds article (Wheels, June) was bang-on for content and timing.
I think I may now be wholly converted to sparks – of both the petrol-ignition and voltage (ie, hybrid) kind alike.
Darcy Maynard, Canberra, ACT
The June edition was another great issue, thank you. However, on page 63 (‘The Incredibles’)you gave a very nice thank you to the team at the Dutton Garage, yet you failed to acknowledge Jeff Dutton. I’m flabbergasted by this omission.
Whilst being a humble MG owner, I have always had a dream of someday owning a Ferrari, and I’ve always been made welcome at Dutton’s.
I also fondly remember the fantastic Dutton Grand Prix Rallies in which I had the pleasure of competing. Again, these were the vision of John Blanchard and supported by Jeff Dutton. Please, credit where credit is due – thanks Jeff for all you have done for the classic car movement. And to the new team at Dutton’s, please keep up the good work and vision.
Glenn Renshaw, via email
I’m writing to provide some extra intel on the engine fitted to the Brabham BT62. The engine is a Ford Coyote, with engine management by Motec. Motec have plenty of experience getting power out of naturally aspirated Ford V8s. Just think of what they do for the Supercars entrants.
Without the constraints of regulations like those in Supercars and other motorsport categories, there was plenty of further performance potential in the Coyote engine. I personally know some of the people involved. It’s fantastic that Aussie knowledge is being displayed to the rest of the world.
Nelson Heywood, Awarua, NZ