Fresh Off The Plane

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So there I was, stepping freshly off the tarmac at Sydney’s mascot airport in 1964 with my parents and the cabbie pulled up and asked where we wanted to go – for some reason the company bringing us down to Australia booked us into a hotel in King’s Cross and so away we went – on the wrong side of the road.

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I did not take note of what sort of a cab it was but I did scope out all the other cars on the road as we went into town. And what a weird lot they were. Holdens, Falcons, Valiants, Morris’s, Standards, Vauxhalls, Datsuns, Volkswagens, Hillmans…the parade of dumpy little cars went on and on, relieved occasionally by a Ford Galaxie or Fairlane or a Humber Super Snipe. the trucks were worse, or better, depending on your bias. I was dismayed and thrilled to see some of them.

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Now 50 years later I can look back with nostalgia to that first right-hand-drive glimpse of motoring outside North America. What I once saw as Noddy cars are now normal size – and the norm in my town seems to be vans, tray-top utes, or varying sizes of SUV’s. I greet a dear old FJ or Austin A40 with tears of joy – they seem so neat and self possessed amongst the aggressive black and silver money wagons. The drivers now are the self¬†reliant type as well…they have to be since the spare parts market has gotten so expensive. I recognise the type.

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It’s not rodding as we know it, but it is good for the soul. Of course there are rivalries amongst the owners – there would be in any society – and some of the old cars are not gems. they never were. But they are a link to a more cheerful time.

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Note: Nostalgia is best indulged in during spring and autumn between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM and not when there is any sign of rain or rush-hour traffic. Old cars are prone to be difficult to drive in bad weather and heavy traffic and cold is never a good thing.

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