Classic 60’s Cruisers From Australia

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Whenever you use the phrase “cruiser ” for a car you conjure up a whole raft of images from different people. Some see it as a description for giant California convertibles on Hollywood Boulevard. Others  think of Grand Touring cars in Europe…trying to grand tour through rotten little streets. Today’s cars are cruisers in the Australian sense – they were capable of long-distance travel with useful loads – in one case loads of people and the other loads of gear.

6 years of development separates the station sedan – the Holden EJ of 1962 – from the ute – the Holden HK of 1968. Surprisingly, there is probably not a lot of difference in the engine that drives them or the drive train connected to it – Holden made its changes sensibly over a long period of time. These are vehicles that never had to battle modern legislators and computers, either. They work because they work and there is room in their engine bays to work on them to keep them working.

The station sedan, or wagon if you insist, was equally seen in the city or the country, and was the mainstay of the yearly holidays down south or up north. You could pack the whole family in and still have enough space in the back for the camping gear and suitcases. That long roof and sturdy gutters were also host to no end of very long roof racks and the carrying capacity rose as the petrol milage fell. It was the days before aerodynamics was invented – there was just air. Not air conditioning, you understand – just air. It leaked into the driver’s side window until you fitted moulded perspex shields to the window. Then you overheated.

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The ute hauled only two or three people in the front, but as many as you could stack in the back. This is no longer allowed because certain communities in our northwest had horrific accidents with overloaded utes – the practise now attracts a hefty fine. Not that they pay any attention to that, I daresay, but down here we have to obey it. But you can still put the dog back there if you tie his lead to the side of the car.

A ute is a dangerous thing to own if people find out about it. All of a sudden the owner becomes a public haulage contractor ( unpaid ) and has to invent excuses to avoid being called on to move house or haul chook manure for his mates.

Note I cannot guarantee that the blue HK is genuinely used by a speed shop. These days people paint lots of artistic statements on the sides of their rods and you don’t know it they’re real or not. I kinda think the Florida beach patrol I saw a few years ago was made up , and I’m equally uncertain about the Mad Max interceptors. Perhaps it’s only forbidden to put on the local police markings. If this is the case I’ll definitely consider RCMP badges for my next 1949 Mercury…

The joy of Holden in the land of the Holden is not the fact that it is totally reliable and never breaks down. Far from it… It is the fact that there are a lot of parts out there for them. And some of the cars only have electricity in them that does sensible things…and they’re easier to work on.

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