How is everyone coping with “Lockdown”?

These are unprecedented times with COVID-19 affecting everyone in so many different ways never experienced before in our lifetime. Lockdown has affected so many people’s livelihoods, businesses, health, family/social structures, relationships, schooling, sport, hobbies and passions.

I am passionate about all things cars and love driving, test driving new and used cars and sharing those driving experiences with friends of similar mind and interest. Lockdown has temporarily stopped us all from enjoying and pursuing our sport, hobbies, passions & interests. So, my two best friends, my twin brother Alfred and David, both driving buddies and passionate car nuts, decided through this lockdown and social distancing period to write, share and talk about the cars we have owned. It’s still important to enjoy your passions in different ways and stay connected.

My brother through his corporate life had managed to own 43 cars and David being a son of a used car dealer had a rich history of driving many classic and exotic cars which shaped his taste for many cars he has owned.

So, for the duration of the Covid19 Lockdown I am going to share our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

I will call this series of posts – #Lockdown #Cars we have owned.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

Richard (1st car): 1978 AUSTIN KIMBERLY

So officially the first car that my twin brother, Alfred and I owned. Mum & dad bought us an Austin Kimberly. It was the car we shared and took us both to Uni. Not a very muscular or sporty name for your first car. Falcon, Torana and Charger rolled more easily off the tongue. Not Kimberly! It was like they took the popularity of the Mini, sliced it in two, widened it and lengthened it and made it family size. That concept was applied by Mitsubishi when they took the very popular Sigma, drew a line through the middle, widened it and created the Magna.

The picture is the exact colour and car we owned. Being a 2.2L straight 6 Cylinder, it was exceptionally smooth. It quotes 86kw, however, we had a single “SU” carby while Margaret, my girlfriend and now my wife, had one also as her first car with twin “SU”s and it performed much better and really accelerated well. It was spacious, with a bus-like large wheel and a long, vague linkage shift 4 Spd manual.

The central velocity joints were worn so you could not accelerate through corners, a hallmark beneficial handling characteristic of FWD cars. This was a relatively new phenomena for Aussie drivers as our motoring was dominated by RWD family haulers. Remember, the first Ford Laser FWD was a sales hit. So it jerked and made noises like a shotgun going off when too much accelerator pressure was put on as you tried to accelerate around a corner.

Overheating, as a driver was a natural summer state with no air conditioning in this car. Additionally, overheating and failing to start, pushing this car with my brother over the Bulleen Rd bridge in peak hour traffic in 35c summer heat, both wearing suits and 6” high heels with no grip was an uncomfortable memory.
Unlike the first cars of today, there was an element of rolling a dice whenever you started a car. You made the sign of the cross, with the hope that it would not break down and strand you from getting you to and from your destination. A real problem especially with mobile phones not yet invented to call Dad so you could be rescued.

What about the good?

Dad reconditioned the engine and after months off the road Driving it for the first time, it felt special and a revelation of what this car would have felt like when new. So smooth, so refined, ran like a Swiss watch even with the hydro elastic suspension oozing out of the rear suspension, still a very comfortable ride. Plus bucket seats were wide like lounge chairs.

All going beautifully until my brother that same year, flying down the eastern freeway blew a Conrod. So disappointing! The beginning of the end before we traded it in and led to a special car in my life which I eventually would own outright. My beloved 1978 Ford TE GL Cortina 250 4spd. That is another chapter and instalment.

We also had a second bronze Austin Kimberly, Dad bought so we could have a car each. Everything that could be bad about a Kimberly was passed down on to this one. Reliability was not our friend. Both traded in at the dealer. We thought we were lucky to get some money for them as we knew the dealer had just bought himself two bitter lemons.

Everyone remembers their first car as it represented the first real symbol of freedom in your youth. Their rite of passage, sign of independence, masculinity, it took you places you chose, to start creating your own memories, not ones you had with your parents in the back seat of the car. It also introduced you to the concept of begging. Begging for money for petrol from your parents, fixing the car, paying for the rego. It started you realising the concept of money and how little you had and your dependence on others (your parents) still to maintain your independence in driving your car.

It made me get a job to fuel my independence.

Note the Kimberly engine was expanded to a 2.6L and found its way into the legendary Leyland P76. Another car that Won “Wheels Car of the Year” and ended up a disaster and disappeared from the Australian motoring landscape.

David comment:
Never had the pleasure of driving a Austin Kimberly. I will not talk about all the cars I drove growing up. Being the son of a used car salesman,the cars were too numerous and varied to remember well. Highlights included a genuine Falcon GTHO phase 2, Maserati Merak SS, Corvette Stingray, HQ and HJ Monaros, Fiats – 850 coupe, 130 coupe, 1965 Milecento, 128, Alfas – 105 GTV, spider, Alfetta 2.0 sedan, original Giulietta, Sprint, Alfasud, BMW – 2002ti, 3.0 csl, 635, first 528, various 7 series, Mercedes 450 SLC etc etc

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