Learner bike sales booming
Celebrations for the LandCruiser’s 60th anniversary have been marked by the release of the retro FJ Cruiser, but some still yearn for the original.
The diamond-in-the-rough of Toyota’s range has a history here and Karin Scanlon (pictured above) has kept her Cruiser un-polished, so to speak.
Mrs Scanlon and her late husband Michael bought ‘‘Milo’’ new in 1984.
‘‘It is plated April 1983 and we kept our eye on it for a while on the showroom floor,’’ she said.
The family took delivery of their new off-roader and never looked back.
‘‘Milo’’ is a 1983 LandCruiser BJ42 LX model, powered by a 3.4-litre naturally-aspirated diesel, and is one of the earliest of the breed with a five-speed manual gearbox, airconditioning and power steering.
The 42-Series ran from 1979 through until 1984, when the FJ/BJ model ceased production in most countries.
The short-wheelbase 4WD has been used as its maker intended, taking the family to Tibooburra and Camerons Corner not long after it graced their driveway.
‘‘In 1985 my husband and I and our son took the vehicle to Mootwingee north-east of Broken Hill, Tibooburra and Camerons Corner, it was a fantastic trip and the vehicle travelled faultlessly,’’ she said.
It’s still only showing 143,000km on its clock — there’s a RAV4 that Mrs Scan- lon uses day-to-day — and ‘‘Milo’’ is largely original, although some (reversible) changes were made for a recent Simpson Desert trip.
‘‘It was something that my late husband would have loved to have done so I did it for him and thoroughly enjoyed it,’’ she said.
The convoy travelled from Adelaide to Roxby Downs, through to Dalhousie Springs, Purni Bore and across the Simpson Desert to Birdsville , then back to Adelaide via the old In-
It was a fantastic trip and the vehicle travelled faultlessly
namincka road, 3500km in 15 days.
‘‘It is not an easy trip . . . but the immense sense of satisfaction as you sit on top of Big Red, is indescribable,’’ she said.
Mrs Scanlon is conscious of keeping the car as original as possible — although it seems unlikely to go on the market.
‘‘ I still have the original wheels and the storage system installed in the rear of the wagon has only used existing holes, no holes have been drilled into the vehicle — I still have all the rear seats,’’ she said.
Toyota’s recent re-introduction of the FJ Cruiser has renewed interest in the original — the FJ40 LandCruiser was seen as a genuine off-roader — more than 1.1 million were produced between 1960 and 1984.
This year the company is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the LandCruiser, which began production in Japan in 1951, and has sold more than 6.4 million globally, including wagon, military versions and the smaller Prado— more than 765,000 have been sold here since it first arrived in 1958. MOTORCYCLE sales continue to struggle, but learner bike sales are booming with even performance marquee Ducati producing a special model for Australia.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries motorcycles manager Rhys Griffiths says Learner Approved Motorcycles (LAMS) are so popular they need their own category.
‘‘Currently the motorcycle sales figures do not separate out LAMS bikes,’’ he says. ‘‘In the current review of the industry figures, we have strong indication from all participating manufacturers that they would like to see LAMS as a defined category so we can get an indication of overall numbers.’’
LAMS bikes are administered by NSW’s RTA for all Australian states and territories except ACT and WA as being all electric scooters plus bikes under 660cc with a cut-off power-to-weight ratio.
‘‘The only state currently not implementing LAMS is WA,’’ says Griffiths.
‘‘However they are currently undertaking a review of their licensing system, and it would appear that LAMSis definitely on their agenda.
‘‘I would like to see the case for upping the cc limit, but I don’t believe there is any work being done in that space. The consideration of weight is a factor in going higher in the cc limit.’’
Some companies have suitable bikes just outside the cc limit that have sophisticated suspension and ABS brakes, which are considered important for novice riders.
Several manufacturers have also had models with sub-660cc engines that have been upgraded with larger engines and no longer qualify as LAMS bikes. They say Australia’s market is too small for manufacturers to make specific models to suit our LAMSlaws.
Ducati’s popular entry-level Monster bike is one of those that has grown in capacity to 696cc, outside the LAMS limits. However, from May, Ducati will have a Monster 659 based on the 696.
Alison Fraser, spokeswoman for Ducati importers NF Imports, says engine capacity and power output were changed to suit our LAMs requirements.
‘‘It’s been produced specifically for the Australian market,’’ she says.
‘‘Both they and us want Australian learner riders to have the opportunity to ride a new Ducati.’’
Production starts this month and they arrive in May, but pricing is yet to be announced.
‘‘Like all our new bikes it will have a two-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 24-hour roadside and emergency assist, so learner riders wanting to ride a Ducati won’t have to buy an older model any more,’’ she says.
Many rider groups consider the small-frame 250cc restriction for learners as impractical and unsafe for tall or heavy riders.
‘‘There is now a vast list of suitable LAMS bikes which you can check out on the RTA website,’’ Griffiths says.