Street Machine - - Contents -

A com­mem­o­ra­tive car show to cel­e­brate the life of one of our favourite hu­mans

BACK in July 2018, I wrote a lit­tle piece for the SM web­site about my wife Sarah, her MG, the sub­se­quent, re­liefrid­den sale of said MG, and the cre­ation of our prog­eny that fol­lowed. I fin­ished the col­umn with: “We were never sure if the MG was go­ing to get us there, and right now, we’re ex­cited as to where we are go­ing”. Well, I’ve got to ad­mit, that was a bald-faced lie, be­cause at the time my wife was crit­i­cally ill. In Oc­to­ber, she died.

I re­ally liked my wife. I mean, I loved her. At least twice; there’s ev­i­dence of that. But I liked her be­cause we shared so many in­ter­ests. I get re­ally upset when fel­las tell me they’ve had to sell their pride and joy be­cause their wife made them. Or be­cause they were told to ‘grow up’. Our hobby is just that, and sell­ing some­thing cool with­out 100 per cent mu­tual con­sent just reeks of im­bal­ance. I’m not say­ing the kids should starve be­cause Pops needs a grille for his HK Monaro, but un­less the bank is at the doorstep bay­ing for blood, why can’t a fella (or fel­lette) have a hobby?

Breast can­cer is a sav­age beast; it took my wife apart piece by piece. She fought it for four years with some wins and losses along the way, but sel­dom was there room for fri­vol­ity. We couldn’t plan a hol­i­day, and aside from the dailies, all car ex­pen­di­ture went on hold. But we lived and laughed as much as pos­si­ble. We hung out with mates. We threw the kids at each other and sat back to watch the car­nage. We had a quiet drink at Christ­mas and re­flected on, at 3.5 years since di­ag­no­sis, how lucky we were to still have her around. By July though, the writ­ing was on the wall; we didn’t get a win after that and the dis­ease kept chip­ping away un­til she sim­ply couldn’t take an­other breath. On that day, my heart broke.

Sarah, it seems, was a rare one. She never de­manded or even re­quested that I sell my cars. When I vol­un­teered to do so, she rea­soned: “They’re not cost­ing us much; just keep them.” The laid-up in­sur­ance is cheap, and they aren’t reg­is­tered, so as usual, she was right. All they were cost­ing us is real es­tate, which we have plenty of.

That’s the mark of a good part­ner; she un­der­stood my pas­sion and em­braced my hobby. Ac­tu­ally, she em­braced our hobby. She drove my old cars in cruises and fes­ti­vals. She once sorted my Weber in­stal­la­tion be­cause I threw my span­ners across the yard after re­al­is­ing I’m all shifters and no Snap-ons. She drove a 1967 Isuzu Bel­lett ev­ery day for a year be­cause it was handy, plus of course, she had her won­der­ful MG.

As our fam­ily grew, her daily driv­ers re­flected her eclec­tic au­to­mo­tive tastes; we had a 4.0 V8 Lexus LS400 for a lot of years, only part­ing with it when the electrics be­came pos­sessed by the ghost of Nikola Tesla. We up­graded to a Sin­ga­porean-de­liv­ered 2009 Caprice with the 6.0L L98. Sarah was pissed when a lifter shat it­self, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a full en­gine re­build, but she com­mit­ted to it be­cause she loved her V8 Holden.

By the time the work was done, she was too sick and sore to drive it. Up­graded with a cam and a mild tune with her bless­ing, she winced in pain when I tromped it for her just once, her left arm hold­ing her head in place as her neck, weak­ened by metastatic can­cer in her nearby lymph nodes, strug­gled to brace against the g forces. A wry smile said it all; she al­ready en­joyed wast­ing fools at the traf­fic-light grand prix and the tick­led LS was next-level.

It wasn’t just cars; mu­sic, movies and friends all had about a 90

per cent com­pat­i­bil­ity rate. Go­ing through 20 years of pho­tos, I’m as­tounded at what we shared – Foo Fight­ers con­certs, Big Days Out, Grin­ners, Re­gur­gi­ta­tor, The Liv­ing End. Solid Gen-x rock ’n’ roll. We had a cou­ple of good hol­i­days too, in­clud­ing a mon­ster trip to the USA where we hit a few car mu­se­ums, then got pissed on the Mis­sis­sippi.

We drew the line at TV shows. She out­grew the im­ma­tu­rity of South Park and Archer, in­stead fo­cussing on Bor­der Pa­trol, be­cause end­less footage of Asians try­ing to bring ran­cid meat into the coun­try was some­how en­ter­tain­ing. But you know what? That worked, be­cause while she was tut­ting and rolling her eyes at some hare­brained Ger­man back­packer with an in­cor­rect im­mi­gra­tion visa, I’d stick the head­phones on and spend the time writ­ing for you guys.

So, what I’m say­ing is, you might not find a woman (or man) who is as deep into the cars as you are, but try to find some­one who re­spects and en­joys your hobby. Some­one who will sug­gest you take the clas­sic out on a nice day. Some­one will­ing to twirl a large Bake­lite steer­ing wheel and do an Austin Pow­ers-like 40-point turn. Some­one who, as­sum­ing you’re not go­ing to force your kids to eat dis­carded cas­sette tapes for food, doesn’t mind you spend­ing a few bucks on your ride ev­ery now and then.

Non-car peo­ple have hob­bies too; cro­chet is one. So is knit­ting. And bak­ing cook­ies. I don’t stand there and scoff at those in­ter­ests and I ex­pect the same back from the cookie crowd. But I’m not sure the cro­chet com­mu­nity is quite so, if you’ll ex­cuse the pun, close-knit, be­cause as Sarah’s life drew to a close, peo­ple ral­lied around to sup­port us.

A group of friends took shifts in com­ing around, or­gan­is­ing din­ner, help­ing with the kids or as­sist­ing Sarah to the loo. When you’re only go­ing once ev­ery 24 hours, it’s sud­denly a pri­or­ity. With­out the help of the ‘Shifties’, I’m not sure where we’d have been. A lot less sane, that’s a cer­tainty.

A good mate of mine, Jeff Hughes at Shan­nons In­sur­ance, pitched in the only way he knew how; he or­gan­ised a cruise. With in­volve­ment from Bill Galka of Cof­fee N Chrome Inc, along with James Kout­lakis and Horse­power Crew, the Cruise For Sarah went off on Re­mem­brance Day, 11 No­vem­ber.

The event was a short cav­al­cade of chrome and car­bon­fi­bre from the Mile End Home­maker Cen­tre to Bonython Park. But de­spite the name, it wasn’t about the cruise; it was about the com­mu­nity. Peo­ple came along not only to throw a few bucks in the tin for breast can­cer re­search, but to pay their re­spects to a young lady taken at 39 and there­fore way too soon. Some wanted to say they were sorry for my loss while oth­ers were con­tent to sim­ply park their cars on the grass and lis­ten to tunes pro­vided by acous­tic duo Rachel Vi­doni and Ben Whit­ting­ton.

There’s a say­ing, ‘happy wife, happy life’, but it’s bull­shit. My the­ory is, find some­one that is the yin to your yang, black to your white, Paula Ab­dul to your MC Skat Kat. Form a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with them, nur­ture each other, praise, love and ful­fil them as they would you, en­joy their com­pany and share many in­ter­ests while en­sur­ing there are dif­fer­ences, then hold on for dear life re­gard­less of what hap­pens. Maybe it was too per­fect; I’m not sure ev­ery­one gets the chance, but I’m glad I did for the time that I had. Happy wife, happy life? How about happy spouse, happy house.



04: Emily Cole wan­dered around with son Phoenix, while hus­band Si­mon sought to pur­chase a Chrysler New Yorker. Guess we know the name of their next kid, then01: The Ja­panese were well rep­re­sented, with this vin­tage Toy­ota Stout shar­ing as­phalt with a rare Corona Mark II coupe03: An­drew Mcin­tosh brought out his CSP311 Nis­san Sil­via. Hand­built and one of only 49 de­liv­ered to Aus­tralia, it’s the grand­daddy of ev­ery Sr-pow­ered drift pig you’ve even seen02: Is there a bet­ter VN rep­re­sent than the HSV SV5000? Tim Cronk’s ex­am­ple presents as-new in SV rac­ing green

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