Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cars - It's a boy thing

Growing up in Melbourne in the northern suburbs, all my friends couldn't wait to get their driving licence. Most lusted after either a Holden or Ford, both Australian built cars originating from American designs of the post-war era. Later in the 60s, they grew squarer and had fins but I preferred something a little different. No chrome fat wheels for me, my wheels preferred Michelins.

Michelin man - the fat man of tyres.
I never really came to grips with Orstralian cars although I have had them in the past.

My last Citroen Traction Avant - note the Aussie bushman's hat on the roof.

My leanings were towards French, British and Italian cars. My first car was a 1951 Citroen Light 15, followed by Renault Dauphine. These two cars cemented my direction for the future.

It was a great fun car, my Dauphine, although a Gordini would have been a step up. Maybe one day I'll find another.

The Dauphine and the ID19, so different yet so enjoyable in their own special way to drive.

Having said that, I did go through a British period of cars starting with MGs & Triumphs and a great little 1969 Mini, along with these French and British cars came membership to both Citroen and MG car clubs. Many great memories stem from these Clubs and friendships from those days exist now.

We had Triumph saloons over the period of our boys growing up - leather, wood, pure luxury we thought..... The Mini was great fun and my boys at 12 and 10 drove it in MG Car Club motokhanas on grass.

My little 850cc Renault Dauphine was a delightful car with its roundish curves and flat headlights poking out of a nose unlike the traditional chrome grill of the Holdens and Fords. The motor was in the back and openings behind the rear doors allowed air to travel to the rear engine compartment to cool the radiator. I can remember achieving the top speed of 75 mph on a downhill stretch. Very scary.

With the Renault Dauphine being a memory, in the late 70s a Renault 16 came my way. As a recycled bachelor, it helped me move home a few times. The seats had all these various configurations so I could transport my wardrobe, records and books. Oh yes, the bed also.

My first Citroen was a Slough built model out of England. Compared to the French built Traction Avant, it had such upgrades as a sunroof, leather upholstery and wood grain dash and door trims. It was the first of many Traction Avants, followed by a 1954 model and later a 1951 Big Six model with the huge 3 litre six cylinder engine.

A 1960s ID19 Citroen also joined the collection - now this was considered to be a radical choice by my Holden/Ford friends. It might not be very quick at the lights but it certainly was "Queen of the open road" with its air-cutting shape and its quirky suspension.

I had always wanted an MG during the 70s and in 1976 I was able to purchase a six year old MGB. This was the start of long association with the MG Car Club of Melbourne.

Our 2nd MGB was red, the 1st (mine) was indigo blue. Although Sue's everyday car, we used it on weekends for hillclimbs, motokhanas and general club competition.

The MGB was followed five years later with an MGA restoration project. Then came two 1950s MG Magnettes and a very cute 1963 MG 1100. The 1100 was a front wheel drive derivative of the Morris 1100. It was a surprisingly good little car for many years.

The MG Magnette saloon, quite a nice car, not quick (1500cc) but leather and wood gave it an attitude of refinement.

Yes, it does look a little sad doesn't it, but it was great project and done with my own hands after a 6 month panel beating course.
By the way, Sue was carrying our 2nd born who is now 21.

A great little car that we developed for competition in the MG Car Club.

At some time it was suggested that everyone should an Italian love affair and mine was the ownership of two Alfa Romeo Coupes. The first was a white 1974 2000GTV 105 (again Sue's everyday car). I truly loved that car and so it was followed by a 1979 Alfetta GTV, naturally in red. It was my substitute Ferrari.

How lucky was Sue to have this as her everyday car?

And my everyday car.

In the last decade, French cars again adorned our driveway. The Peugeot 505 GTI was a drivers car with its sweet 5 speed gearbox, magnesium sports wheels and subtle rear spoiler. With this first experience of Peugeot, my next company car was a Peugeot 307 before being replaced by my current MG ZT 190 sedan. We haven't abandoned our love of French cars as Sue's daily transport is a 2000 Citroen Xantia. Its a superb car and so comfortable to drive. In the car park it would go unnoticed but like the Citroen ID19, its real features become apparent on driving it for a while. They have the best suspension of all cars.

Probably a favorite of ours, not realising its qualities till after purchasing the 505 GTI.

I quite often think I would like another classic to take out on sunny days - maybe another Traction Avant, yes but hellish in Melbourne traffic with its big drum brakes and flip flop wipers.

Yes, if I lived in the country it might be OK. Tootling down country lanes, wearing my beret. I like that image.
My two Alfas would still cope with city traffic to this day as would the 505 GTI.
But I think I would like to "return to the future" and lovingly restore an example of my very first Renault Dauphine.
Cars - It's a boy thing......Isn't IT?????


  1. Leon, You are sooooo right. My friend's first car in the sixties was a Dauphine, and each time he sees one nowadays he just goes beserck! Wait till I show him your post tomorrow ... he'll blow a fuze, that's for sure. Boys will be boys, always ... won't they? Martine

  2. Boy thing alright, but it is fun to see these old cars.

  3. This blog from "Monte Carlo" is also from Jilly of "Menton daily photo". Did you guys consult when you both posted about cars?

  4. Thanks for your comments Martine and Nadege.
    I should mention, most our hobby cars were Sue's everyday cars.
    I checked out Jilly's Monte Carlo daily photo. How weird is that?
    She takes great pics.

  5. Don't tell anyone - but there is a very nice peugeot 204 cabriolet on the market just near us.

    It would involve buying the neighbour's garage, but would be perfect for sunday afternoons

  6. Or Peugeot 304, if you want me to be precise!

  7. From what I've seen in rural France, you probably need a Renault 4 van or 2CV van to carry all your home revovation gear in!!!!!!
    Then another garage could come in handy. A man needs a shed!!!

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