Clem’s ca­reer

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Man -

Down near the south­ern end of Ade­laide’s ma­jor north-south ar­te­rial high­way, the peren­ni­ally clogged Main South Road, sits a used-car lot that looks a lot like ev­ery other used-car lot spotted up and down ei­ther side of the busy thor­ough­fare. As mo­torists sit and stare ahead, stuck in their daily com­mute to and from wher­ever it is they are go­ing, a rare few would re­alise that one of these car yards car­ries a name re­spon­si­ble for shap­ing a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of South Aus­tralia’s di­verse mo­tor­sport her­itage.

Clem Smith Mo­tors, in the Ade­laide sub­urb of Ed­ward­stown, may look like ev­ery other sec­ond­hand car­yard but the name be­hind it is not like any other. With a his­tory stretch­ing more than 60 years at the coal­face of mo­tor­ing and mo­tor­sport, Clem Smith’s story should have been told in more de­tail by now. But this quiet and some­what re­served man never re­ally felt the need or, more likely, had the time.

“This is all the kind of stuff I prob­a­bly should put in a book one day,” he tells AMC, when we chat. He’s not wrong.

Now well into his eight­ies and de­spite some re­cent health is­sues, Clem is still busier than most men 50 years his ju­nior. He continues to sell cars, some­thing he has done for 66 years now, while on week­ends you’ll likely find him out at his coun­try es­cape, other­wise known as Mal­lala Mo­tor­sport Park.

There, at South Aus­tralia’s only op­er­a­tional per­ma­nent rac­ing cir­cuit, he’ll un­doubt­edly be work­ing on is­sues re­lat­ing to an up­com­ing event or tin­ker­ing with bits and pieces that need fix­ing or up­dat­ing. Or he will be sim­ply chat­ting to any of the var­i­ous par­ties who hire out the chal­leng­ing, tech­ni­cal 2.6km cir­cuit that sits on the north­ern plains about 60km from Ade­laide’s CBD.

It quickly be­comes ap­par­ent that the story of Clem Smith comes in three rather dis­tinct parts: the car dealer, the racer and the cir­cuit owner. It’s a yarn that pro­vides an in­sight into the con­sid­er­able chal­lenges of both rac­ing and sell­ing Chryslers.

Clem is not one for blow­ing his own trum­pet. As such, he’s not one to keep a dossier on his com­pe­ti­tion achieve­ments, which in­clude a start in an Aus­tralian Grand Prix, fin­ish­ing a Round Aus­tralia re­li­a­bil­ity trial, along with his time as a se­ries pro­duc­tion pioneer, Sports Sedan stal­wart and speed­way stock car sen­sa­tion.

When AMC sug­gests to Clem that we ‘start at the be­gin­ning’, he breathes and says qui­etly: “It’s a fairly large story, that...”

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