ROUGH DI­A­MOND

Street Machine - - Contents -

This VG Pacer was dragged out of the desert, rid­dled with bul­let holes. Now it lives to fight an­other day

Icar at a car show is also T’S not of­ten that the most talked-about def­i­nitely the case with David the worst-look­ing one, but that was Pacer hard­top at this year’s Rawns­ley’s bul­let hole-rid­den VG by the semi-trailer load Red Centrenats. This thing had patina the bush not far from Aileron, from spend­ing al­most 30 years in Alice. a lit­tle town about two hours out of and heard about a Mus­tard “I moved to Alice Springs in 2002 says. “All my ques­tions fell Pacer dumped north of town,” David in about 2009 a mate through on no one know­ing the car; then, seen one north-west of Alice Valiant cir­cles men­tioned his dad had Aus­tralian Mus­cle Car in in the 90s. In 2012 an ar­ti­cle ap­peared asked them to send my de­tails to mag­a­zine. I emailed the ed­i­tor and few weeks later a mate rang me the per­son who sent the im­age. A a mud map and ad­vised which and said it was his pic. He sup­plied cat­tle sta­tion the car was on.” or so ring­ing the cat­tle sta­tion David then spent the next six months Christ­mas Eve 2012, they gave three times a week, un­til fi­nally, on re­move the car. him per­mis­sion to en­ter the land and back at David’s place – well, By Aus­tralia Day 2013 the car was front and rear bumpers, no what was left of it. “It had a bootlid, stone tray was there and the tail-lights, no doors, no guards, the half,” says David. In ef­fect, it was bon­net was on the ground folded in more on that later. ba­si­cally yard art at this point, but end up in their fi­nal rest­ing Or­di­nar­ily, the story of how these cars to dig up a bit of this Val’s place is lost to time, but David man­aged a bloke orig­i­nally from Sydney his­tory. Ap­par­ently it was owned by 80s, and one of his mates who drag-raced the car in the early

THE BUL­LET HOLE-RID­DEN PACER HAD PATINA BY THE SEMI­TRAILER LOAD FROM SPEND­ING AL­MOST 30 YEARS IN THE BUSH

I INI­TIALLY THOUGHT IT WAS TOO STUFFED, LOOK BUT I HAD A MATE AT IT AND HE SAID: “MATE, THIS CAR’S 90 BET­TER THAN PER CENT OF THE CARS PEO­PLE ARE RESTOR­ING”

re­called that the car had run a four-bar­rel in the past, which re­quires the re­lo­ca­tion of the wiper washer bot­tle, and there is ev­i­dence of this hav­ing been done in the en­gine bay. “The last prob­a­ble owner worked on cat­tle sta­tions in the mid-80s in the NT; he re­turned back to Sydney in about 1986 with­out the car,” David ex­plains. “The story I got was that the car had a rear sus­pen­sion fail­ure on a back­road where it ended up ei­ther up­side down or on its side. The left rear B-pil­lar was badly bent and the right rear spring front hanger had been torn out of the floor when I started work­ing on it. It had been poorly re­paired at least once prior to this.” You would think with the way that David has brought this car back to life us­ing well-worn but orig­i­nal parts that he’d be a Valiant nut from way back, but that’s not the case at all: “Back when I was a young fella in Mel­bourne, it was only the wogs that owned Valiants. My step-fa­ther was a race car driver, so for my first car he asked me: ‘What do you want in a car?’ so I said: ‘I want two doors, lots of car­bies and lots of gears!’ He said: ‘Get a Charger,’ but they only had three gears, so at the time I had the choice of two cars. I could buy a $3000 E38 or a $3000 Dat­sun 180B coupe, and I bought the 180B in the end be­cause only wogs buy Valiants!” It was ac­tu­ally David’s wife that turned him on to Vals; she wanted him to build her a Charger. “I started col­lect­ing what­ever bits I could find in Cen­tral Aus­tralia, buy­ing any­thing that came up for sale,” he says. “At one stage, I think I had 32 Valiants in the yard. Lucky I’ve got seven acres!” The ini­tial plans David had for the car may make a few Valiant fans wince. In all like­li­hood, if it had’ve been an or­di­nary VG coupe, not a Pacer, it prob­a­bly would have ended up in the gar­den as yard art or sliced in half and hung up on the shed wall! “I ini­tially thought it was too stuffed, but I had a mate come over from Sydney and he looked at it and said: ‘Mate, this car’s bet­ter than 90 per cent of the cars peo­ple are restor­ing,’” David says. “We’re spoiled for choice out here in Alice Springs; there’s no rust out here. Apart from where the paint is gone from the bul­lets, there’s not a speck of rust in it.” With a project David was work­ing on for a mate stalling around Easter time, it looked like it was fi­nally time for the Pacer to cop a bit of love. Not too much, just sort out the me­chan­i­cals and leave as much of the car’s his­tory in­tact as pos­si­ble. The VG was pushed into the shed on 29 April, which meant there was a lit­tle over four months to turn the gut­ted shell into a run­ning and driving car in time for Red Centrenats. “I wanted it to be as close to a gen­uine Pacer as I could – that was full of bul­let holes,” says David. For­tu­nately, Hot Mus­tard was a pretty pop­u­lar colour choice back in 1970, so David man­aged to track down the miss­ing body pan­els in match­ing orig­i­nal, in­clud­ing an orig­i­nal Pacer front-left guard. The other pan­els just needed a bit of mask­ing tape and flat black paint to repli­cate the Pacer stripe. Thank­fully, David didn’t go to the ex­tent of shoot­ing the new pan­els up with a shot­gun to make them an even more per­fect match! David even man­aged to save the orig­i­nal bon­net, which was in

AF­TER MAK­ING A SPLASH AT RED CENTRENATS, DAVID’S PLANS ARE TO GET THE CAR LI­CENSED AND ON THE STREET

some fairly ma­jor surgery: “I re­ally bad shape, al­though it took in it, so in the end I cut straight­ened it out, but it had no strength an­other bon­net.” The other the skin off it and glued the skin to re­quired was the left-hand ma­jor piece of body­work that was whack. “When I got the car B-pil­lar, which had taken a pretty big inches, so a back win­dow the B-pil­lar was pushed in six-to-eight “So we put a Porta Power wouldn’t fit in the car,” David says. it with­out los­ing any paint.” in there to push it back out and did to be pushed back out to fit The right rear quar­ter also needed done to the rest of the panel. a wheel un­der it, but very lit­tle was No point mak­ing it look too nice! lot more live­able with a set The in­te­rior has also been made a door trims, and a gen­uine of high-back bucket seats, car­pet and in. Pow­er­ing the car is a Pacer in­stru­ment clus­ter went back that came out of NBA star re­built Pacer en­gine and three-speed it out for a 360. At least An­drew Bogut’s Pacer af­ter he swapped it’s gone to a good home. a small dust storm – at Red Af­ter mak­ing a splash – or per­haps get the car li­censed and on Centrenats, David’s plans are to are exit holes, so they’ve the street: “Some of the bul­let holes have to belt those in. I got quite sharp edges and I’d prob­a­bly but she drives dead re­ally thought it would be driving side­ways, – ex­cept for the wind noise straight. It’s quite a nice car to drive s from all the holes in the fire­wall!”

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