Clas­sic Wheels

Six of the best

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents -

Mo­tor­ing writ­ers, hav­ing driven just about ev­ery­thing on wheels, still love act­ing out the game, most fre­quently at din­ners af­ter new-model launches and prefer­ably with a cou­ple of equally pas­sion­ate de­sign­ers or prod­uct plan­ners.

I still play the game with en­thu­si­ast friends, de­spite know­ing that the va­garies of mood mean to­day’s care­fully con­sid­ered se­lec­tion may not sur­vive into the mor­row.

In late 1979, as ed­i­tor, I de­cided the sub­ject de­served a mag­a­zine fea­ture. Five Wheels con­trib­u­tors were asked: If you could have any six cars in the world, what six would find a place in your garage? Each was given what I thought was a re­al­is­tic word count: 750. Or 3750 words in to­tal, so a se­ri­ous fea­ture. Trou­ble was no­body wrote to length. Bill Tuckey, bless him, sub­mit­ted over 1500 words. Don Hogg went clos­est to the tar­get with just over 1000 words.

Paul Hig­gins, mak­ing the point that he’d al­ready owned 62 cars, in­clud­ing six Rolls-royces, plumbed for a 6.9-litre Mercedes S-class, BMW M1 (be­cause it com­bined Ger­man en­gi­neer­ing with Ital­ian style), Range Rover, 911 Turbo and an Al­fa­sud Sprint, plus a full-to-the-brim petrol tanker. John Mel­lor also chose a Range Rover, plus Se­ries III Jaguar XJ6, VW Scirocco GTI, 1921 His­pano-suiza, Lambo Coun­tach (for its con­cept car styling … did he ever drive one?) and a Lo­tus Su­per Seven “to clear the cob­webs from your brain.”

For Don Hogg, noth­ing beat a sil­ver, gull-wing Mercedes 300SL, an ob­ject of fan­tasy from child­hood. His first car, a blue Re­nault 750, also made the list, along with a Lagonda, Saab Turbo (re­mem­ber, this is 1980 when Saabs were mostly great), 4.2-litre Com­modore wagon and Jeep Chero­kee.

Tuckey choose to di­vide his se­lec­tion into cat­e­gories: for com­mut­ing he went for a Re­nault R4; Tour­ing: a 275 GTB4 Fer­rari; Fun: 1275 Cooper S; Restor­ing; XKSS Jaguar; Vet­eran/vin­tage: Bu­gatti Type 41 Royale; and His­toric Rac­ing: Maserati 250F Grand Prix car.

Reread­ing the story, I have no idea how Tuckey’s two se­ri­ous er­rors of fact crept into his piece and, even now, I re­main em­bar­rassed I didn’t spot them: No way was the great Lan­cia Aure­lia front-wheel drive; and the orig­i­nal 1964 Pon­tiac GTO came with a 389 cu­bic inch V8, not the 426 cu­bic inch V8 Tuckey men­tioned.

Matt Whe­lan opted for the same group­ing idea, though his head­ings were dif­fer­ent and he ad­mit­ted his real pref­er­ence was for a Du­cati 900SS mo­tor bike. Nos­tal­gia: Co­bra 427 S/C; Col­lec­tor’s item: Fal­con GT-HO Phase III; Tour­ing car: Holden Com­modore SL/E with a hot six-cylin­der en­gine; Per­sonal car: Al­fa­sud Ti; The wife’s car: Honda Ac­cord sedan; Re­cre­ation: a Mercedes-benz mo­torhome.

Along with a dis­parate col­lec­tion of cars, there’s great writ­ing here – the best piece, sur­pris­ingly in a field that in­cludes the tal­ent of Tuckey and Hig­gins, is surely Don Hogg’s – just don’t ex­pect any brief reads. Or 21st cen­tury po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. Why not try com­pil­ing your own list?

FIVE WHEELS CON­TRIB­U­TORS WERE ASKED: IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SIX CARS IN THE WORLD, WHAT SIX WOULD FIND A PLACE IN YOUR GARAGE?

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