Unique Cars - - THE HUMBLE UTE -


En­sur­ing that you are buy­ing a gen­uine Sand­man is es­sen­tial. Codes XX7 or XU3 fol­low­ing the model des­ig­na­tion on the Build Plate should de­note a gen­uine ve­hi­cle, but they were only used in the Bris­bane fac­tory and some did leave without them. Ex­pert as­sess­ment is rec­om­mended be­fore buy­ing and even then 100 per cent cer­tainty is un­likely. De­spite the ve­hi­cles’ pop­u­lar­ity when new, HQ-HZ ute side pan­els are dif­fi­cult to find, so check care­fully for rust and ex­ces­sive filler. Re­pro­duc­tion tail­gate skins. mud­guards and the bon­net are avail­able but check around wind­screens, wheel-arches, the cabin floor and lower fire­wall for rust. Re­pro­duc­tion stripes and de­cals are avail­able or they can be copied by a ve­hi­cle sign-writer.


If your Sand­man en­gine isn’t blow­ing blue smoke, leak­ing buck­ets of oil from the rear crank­shaft seal or over­heat­ing then it prob­a­bly has a fair chunk of life left. Even if the mo­tor is tired, all the parts needed for a re­build are avail­able and in­ex­pen­sive. Re­tain­ing the orig­i­nal en­gine is im­por­tant if you’re look­ing to main­tain the value of an oth­er­wise orig­i­nal ve­hi­cle and a pro­fes­sional bot­tomend re­build should cost $3500-5000. The orig­i­nal four-speed man­ual or Tri-matic trans­mis­sions eas­ily han­dle the out­put of stan­dard en­gines and they too are eas­ily re­con­di­tioned.


No en­demic dra­mas here as the HQ-HZ com­mer­cial mod­els stuck with coil front/ leaf rear sus­pen­sion which was tough and very ba­sic. Worn shock ab­sorbers and chopped-out wheel bear­ings are com­mon, so it’s worth giv­ing the front wheels a wig­gle and the front end a ‘bounce’ test. V8s had power disc front brakes which are ad­e­quate if in good con­di­tion. Look for ex­ces­sive brake pedal travel or hy­draulic sys­tem leaks. These can be re­vealed by press­ing the pedal for around 30 sec­onds with the en­gine run­ning and not­ing if it heads to­wards the floor.


Bucket seats, door arm­rests trim and GTSstyle steer­ing wheels are the items of in­te­rior trim that put Sand­man utes in a class above ba­sic bench-seat ver­sions. The in­te­rior plas­tics were good qual­ity but 40+ years of sun and ne­glect will cause cracks and pos­si­ble dis­in­te­gra­tion of switch-gear. New items aren’t gen­er­ally avail­able but re­plac­ing the cen­tre con­sole with a re­pro­duc­tion item will cost around $1000. Un­less the ve­hi­cle has been treated to a com­plete restora­tion the wiring is likely orig­i­nal and prone to fail­ure, so make sure that in­di­ca­tors, the ven­ti­la­tion fan and high-beam head­lights all work. Fac­tory air­con­di­tion­ing is a ma­jor bonus but may need con­sid­er­able money spent to work re­li­ably.

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