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.
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.
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.
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.
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.