Me and my motor
REMEMBER the 1980s? Big hair, Michael Jackson and Mitsubishi Starions. Garry Carroll is aged 34 but says he’s ‘‘still an ’80s kid’’.
‘‘That’s when I was a kid, and I don’t want to grow up,’’ he says.
So he bought a Mitsubishi Starion, and then another, and then another . . . five all up.
‘‘I saw Cannonball Run. Jackie Chan was driving a Starion and I thought I’d love to have that,’’ he says.
‘‘If you buy one, you have to buy two because one is always in the shop getting something done to it. I know one guy who has 12.’’
One of Carroll’s Starions was written off in a crash, another was cannibalised for parts and he sold another because he didn’t like the paint job. The two remaining Starions are a black 1982 JA show car and a silver 1985 JB daily driver.
‘‘I bought the JA in 2000 and paid $8000 but I’ve spent more than $80,000 on it,’’ he says.
‘‘I saw this black Starion driving around town and I loved the paint job, so I flashed my lights at the driver and pulled him over.
‘‘He goes ‘hello’ and I said ‘How are you going? I just wanted to have a look at your car’. I ended up buying it off him.’’
Carroll might have bought it specifically for the black and purple pearl paint job but he has since had it repainted twice.
For a while, Carroll used it as a show car and won about 40 trophies at car audio competitions, winning the Australian round of the International Auto Sounds Challenge in 2001. He has spent $25,000 on the sound system alone.
‘‘There are bits you can’t see, like the equaliser that’s worth $2500, a crossover under the seats that’s worth $1500 and there’s $6000 in amps,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s only 300 watts but it’s built for clarity, not high volume. If you shut your eyes you wouldn’t think you were in a car.
‘‘I listen to a lot of vocal music – Michael and Janet Jackson and Billy Joel. I’m stuck in the 1980s – like the car, I suppose.’’
It not only sounds hot but runs hot, too, with a complete engine rebuild, new Garrett turbo, new manifold, bigger cooling system and a lot of tuning to yield 223kW at the wheel.
‘‘It would be a 12sec car (on the quarter-mile drag strip) but I’ve never been tempted to take it out drag racing. If I wanted to go fast, I wouldn’t have loaded it down with a stereo and done the interior and fancy paint job.’’
In original form, the Starion JA’s two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumped out only 125kW at the crank.
‘‘I tried to keep the Starion alive so it has the original engine,’’ he says.
‘‘I could have gone berserk with an Evo engine but I wanted to keep the original. I’d fall asleep in a Merc because it’s too smooth. I need to bounce around in the seat a bit.’’
No problems there as it features Ralliart KYB suspension and 18-inch Simmons wheels.
He also spent $2500 on the steering and $3000 on the airconditioning.
Other features are the full sevencow leather upholstery and Knight Rider light at the front.
‘‘I did some of the interior but mainly I like to point and direct,’’ he says. ‘‘I’m not very motor savvy.’’ He bought the JB in 2006 for $5000, mainly as a daily driver.
‘‘I had some paintwork done on it, changed the speakers and CD player, put on new wheels and a front spoiler. I only spent about $6000, maybe more.’’
Carroll’s first car was a Nissan Bluebird and he has since owned about 30 cars, but has mainly been true to Mitsubishi with several Colts, and then the Starions.
‘‘My next car might be a Mitsubishi Outlander,’’ he says. ‘‘My wife, Carmel, is pregnant so my life’s over . . . my next car will have a baby seat and I’ll have to grow up.’’
For the record, Carroll discredits the story that the car was incorrectly named Starion because the Japanese boss couldn’t say ‘‘stallion’’.
‘‘That’s incorrect. They had a lot of cars and engines named after star constellations,’’ he says, citing the Austarion.com forum of which he is one of 1570 active members around the world.
STARION STRUCK: Gary Carroll and his two favourite cars – a black 1982 JA show car and a silver 1985 JB daily driver. He has spent more than $80,000 on the JA since buying it in 2000.