22 Muscle Maniac
This edition Muscle Maniac James Cockington reports back in on a 60th birthday bash with a Mopar flavour and also uncovers an XR GT that was quite a hit when it was first sold in Shepparton. Theme song: Michael Sembello’s ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance.
As previewed here a few issues ago, the first annual American Motors Corporation/ Rambler car show was held this year as part of the annual Chrysler’s on the Murray event.
The gathering, celebrating the AMC marque’s 60th anniversary, was a great weekend, says organiser Jason Chaplin.
“Shame it stormed on Saturday night and it was a bit touch and go Sunday morning. We had about 40 cars on the radar but lost a few due to the weather, although 27 AMC cars in the one spot certainly isn’t something that happens every day in Australia.”
Most of those on show were Australian-made, assembled in Port Melbourne by AMC importers Australian Motor Industries. AMI even put their own badge on these cars.
Last issue this magazine put the spotlight on Clem Smith’s remarkable – and remarkably long – motor racing career. Clem had a long association with Chrysler product but we now know that he’s also a fan of AMC – American Motors Corporation that is. He sold his fair share of Ramblers, Javelins, et al through his Adelaide dealership and kept one for his own collection.
Clem was a bit crook that weekend so he asked his mechanic Gordon Sweeney to tow the car over from Adelaide. The chocolate brown Javelin is a 1970 model and No. 46 of only 70 made by AMI that year.
“I have never seen one so original,” says Jason Chaplin.
Clem also has a mint 30,000 mile 1954 American Motors-built Hudson Hornet which he hopes to bring over next year.
Another long-distance entry was the Rambler hearse formerly owned by Madame Lash, now owned by Gordon Pendlebury from the Blue Mountains. Sad to say, it was destroyed in the recent bushfires, along with the other cars in his collection, but Gordon decided to tow it over anyway. He replaced the collapsed springs, removed the motor, transmission and all other unnecessary items to reduce weight and replaced the tyres and rims so it could be steered.
Fortunately the famous (or infamous) STIFF number plates survived.
The hearse was a big hit. Gordon has written a book on his bushfire experiences, so more on this next issue.
All of the seven Javelins and five of the Hornets on display were Aussie-built models. A real rarity was the 1970 Ambassador Hardtop which was bought new in the US as a RHD car because the owner knew he was being posted over here.