The following page contains
a small selection of various magazine articles and car club newsletter
articles I wrote during my time as the president of the Datsun Sports Owners
I’m a bit annoyed at the moment, I got a speeding
ticket the other day. To be honest getting a speeding ticket isn’t what
is annoying me, it’s the circumstances in which I got the ticket that is
a bit distressing.
My knowledge of Queensland traffic law history
is a bit shaky, but it must have been about six or so years ago when the
first speed cameras appeared on the side of the roads in our fine state.
Like the majority of the population (i.e. everyone except Camry drivers
and people who have badges on their cars that say "RACQ Member for over
50 years') I saw this as a major obstacle to my pursuit of driving pleasure,
and I must say, it was a successful deterrent on behalf of the Queensland
Government that made me slow down significantly and diligently obey all
the speed limits, for about one week. After that one week I soon returned
to my usual mildly psychotic driving style, but during that week I came
up with a plan. It was painfully obvious that before too long I would get
caught by one of these radar emitting Mitsubishi mounted mobile Minoltas,
and when I did eventually get caught the experience would most likely set
me back at least a hundred dollars, so if I was going to have to donate
a hundred bucks to the new state revenue raising fund I might as well get
some benefit from it. I decided that when I got my first speed camera offence
in the mail I would get it framed and hang it on the wall. It would be
just perfect, a photo of myself (always a visual treat in anyone's eyes)
hurtling down the highway in my magnificent little red sports car with
the wind in my hair, and as an added bonus it would also have a digital
readout of the stupid speed I was traveling at the time. I was so excited
by the idea I could hardly wait for my first "Camera Detected Offence"
to arrive, I even had the wall space set aside for it.
For reasons that defy explanation, the empty space
on my wall remained vacant for the next half a decade. Anyone unfortunate
enough to have been a passenger m my Fairlady on anything that looked vaguely
like an interesting bit of road in that time will no doubt struggle to
understand how I could have escaped the evil clutches of the Flatfoot Photographic
Service for so long. In actual fact the last time I got a speeding fine
of any type was when I was twenty years old, and still relatively sensible
whilst behind the wheel. But all that came to an end a few weeks ago, it
finally happened, the long Kodachrome arm of the law finally caught up
with me. As I opened the letter I glanced up at the empty space on the
wall, after years that blank section of plasterboard was finally about
to be filled. For a while I pondered whether I would need one or two down
lights to illuminate my stunning new police provided print of my car. Would
I go for the varnished mahogany frame or maybe one of those slick powder
coated picture frames? The anxiety was killing me, I couldn't wait any
longer, I tore open the envelope to see a photo of myself, it was a beautiful
day, the sun was shining and the trees were a beautiful lush green colour
either side of the road as I was screaming past a white Subaru WRX in my……
my…… my girlfriend's Hyundai Excel !!! The excitement turned to anger,
I'd waited all that time and in the end I ended up paying a hundred bucks
for a photo of a stock standard Hyundai!
As anger slowly turned into depression I stared
at the blank space on the wall and pondered the universe. What did this
all mean? I wanted my photo of myself with the wind in my hair driving
my beautiful little red sports car, I paid my hundred bucks, it was rightfully
mine, but instead I got a Korean sedan. Was this all a case of bad karma
coming to get me ? Was it a payback for all those Camry drivers I hassled
all the way up Mt. Nebo until they finally got out of the way ? Was it
all those nasty things I've said about MG owners (and their mothers) over
the years? I continued to ponder these questions while I drove around at
the speed limit, for about a week. After that I slipped back into mobile
idiot mode again and went out in search of another Camry owner to annoy,
what the hell, I've still got a space on the wall that needs filling!
What the hell is wrong with young people today
? When I was a young person (which I might add wasn't that long ago) I
used to hate it when older people said things like "What the hell is wrong
with young people today?", but now I seem to understand their frustration.
So, what is wrong with young people today? I
have a seventeen year old male employee who has just bought his first car,
a mid 1980s Subaru Leone. Admittedly not an inspired choice of vehicle,
but the Leone is a pretty good first car, it's reasonably OK looking and
like most Subarus it's almost indestructible, and according to young Dave
there's plenty of scope to improve it and make it better. Where my young
charge and I seem to differ in our opinions is with what constitutes an
improvement. When I was that age and had just got my first car I was pretty
keen to work on it too, with every spare dollar going towards the car.
My needs for improvement back then were all performance related, the car
looked great but I wanted more speed. Those early years saw the money spent
on things such as two engine upgrades, the obligatory wide wheels and low
profile tyres, and assorted suspension work. All good sensible improvements.
Young Dave has spent a similar amount of dollars on his new car, the only
difference is that he has spent it all on his car stereo.
In 1985 I went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert
at QE2 Stadium, as I walked into the stadium I went past the stage and
I looked up in awe at the speaker boxes stacked about seven storeys high
either side of the stage. Even from the rather poor seats I had right up
the back of the stadium my ear drums nearly exploded when Bruce hit the
opening bars of 'Born in the USA'. No disrespect to Mr. Springsteen, but
his sound system that night was pretty girlie compared to the aural assault
that awaits you when you enter the "Dave-mobile".
As Dave enters the car park at my shop the ground
starts shaking, all other sounds are totally eliminated by the thud-thud-thud-thud
noise emanating from the Leone's blue velour cabin. Your first thoughts
are "God, I wish he would wind the windows up to stop some of that noise",
until you realise that the windows are actually wound up.
In the middle of the dashboard sits the control
centre of the Leone's noise generating system, a stereo unit that looks
like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. As is normal with most seventeen
year olds, the equaliser is set with the bass on full and treble on low,
clarity must be sacrificed in the search for maximum thump.
With alarming regularity Dave comes to work and
says things like "hey, I just bought a Double Whammy Flugel Bass Thump-Master
3000 for my car" or "I just got a Super Hyper Pile-driver Turbo Gruntbox
Woofer", I assume he speaks Yiddish because I have no idea what he is saying.
The other day he shows up at work and says "hey come and see what I have
done to my car!". We wander out to the little black Leone and he opens
the boot. Now call me old fashioned if you like, but I always thought that
the boot (or trunk, for any American’s reading this) was for storing luggage
and tools and things like that, I was obviously mistaken. The boot of the
Dave-mobile is now completely taken up by a single speaker that is about
the size of a small velodrome.
Then there is the other current obsession with
neon lights. He had coloured neon tubes in the car, under the car and around
the car. At night the thing lights up like a Las Vegas brothel.
So, after spending the equivalent of the GNP
of a small African nation on this car what has he achieved? When I spend
money on a car I expect it to go better, but Dave has spent all this money
and has successfully made it slower! The car must me about 50kg heavier
thanks to the stereo system, about 40kg of that being the weight of the
magnet in the boot mounted speaker. The other thing is that the car actually
suffers a dramatic power drop when he turns the stereo on as the alternator
struggles to come up with the additional three trillion watts consumed
by the amplifiers.
It concerned me that he had spent that sort of
money on his car stereo when the same dollars could have got him a Subaru
EJ2O turbo engine to fit into the car and turn it into a really interesting
beast. Then I saw how he drives, I feel much safer on the roads knowing
he doesn't have any more power.
Today we are going to talk about a subject we
are all fond of, nipples! We are going to discuss what nipples are, how
to look after your nipples, a bit of a history of nipples, why some of
us have an extra nipple, and also look at a few pictures of nipples.
No, not those sort of nipples, I meant grease
If you mention grease nipples to an American he
probably won't know what you are talking about. This is because Americans
refer to them as a "Zerk fitting", or a "Zerk", or if he is an older American
he might call it an "Alemite fitting". The name "Alemite fitting" comes
from the fact that the first company to manufacture the grease nipple was
the Alemite Die Casting and Manufacturing Company in Chicago. The term
"Zerk" comes from the name of the inventor of the grease nipple, Oscar
Mr. Zerk was an interesting character. He was
a prolific inventor and was something of an unrecognized engineering genius.
As well as inventing the grease nipple, by the time of his death in 1968
Zerk had over 300 patents to his name. Zerk helped to design the first
six cylinder engine, and then designed the process for making pressed steel
wheels for cars. He also invented a wide variety of other items including
the hubcap, an early automatic transmission, a quick-freezing ice cube
tray, a spatterproof nail brush, a fail-safe braking system for trams,
a vibration-free camera tripod, an oil well recovery system, a refrigerator
for cars and a process for dyeing women's panty hose gradually darker at
the knee and ankle to make larger legs appear slimmer. He also invented
a home coffee grinder for his own use, but didn't bother to patent the
invention because he didn't see that there would ever be any market for
such a device.
Oscar Zerk was born May 16, 1878, in Vienna,
the son of Flora and Bernard Zerk, a prominent textile manufacturer in
the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Zerk showed an early interest in engineering
and had a deep facination with cars, which were a novelty at the time.
After completing work on his engine and wheel designs in Austria and in
England he decided to try his luck further abroad and set sail for the
United States on the Lusitania in 1907. During the long journey across
the Atlantic Zerk started to ponder the then current problems with lubrication,
and it was on this trip that he came up with the idea of the grease nipple.
On his arrival in New York he patented the idea, and then approached Alemite,
who specialised in lubrication, and went into partnership with them. The
basic design of the Zerk grease nipple has not changed since 1907.
Oscar Zerk had an interesting personal life. He
was married four times. One wife died during childbirth, one marriage ended
in divorce and another was annulled. In the 1940s Zerk (65 years old at
the time) wrote a business letter to the Curtis-Wright aircraft engine
company, which was opened by a 20 year old filing clerk at Curtis-Wright
named Adele Zerk. Adele was interested to find someone with the same surname
as hers, and wrote a letter to Oscar Zerk to say hi and to enquire about
his name. The two exchanged letters for the next two months. Oscar then
travelled from his home in Wisconson to New Jersey where Adele lived and
asked her to marry him. She moved back to Wisconson with him and they were
married and lived happily ever after, or more accurately they lived happily
for a while until they got divorced and he married someone else.
After Zerk retired he used part of his considerable
fortune (there have been an estimated 20 billion grease nipples sold to
date, with Zerk getting royalties from these sales this amounted to quite
a bit) to purchase a 3-story mansion that was the former home of the man
who started the Jockey underwear company. He gutted the mansion and turned
it into a private museum of Paleontology. Oscar Zerk died in 1968 at the
age of 90.
||So, what is a grease nipple?
A grease nipple is basically a one way valve
that allows grease to flow in while preventing the grease from coming back
There are only three parts to a grease nipple,
there is the grease nipple case, a ball and a spring. The ball sits inside
the grease nipple case, the spring sits under the ball and pushes it against
the hole in the top of the nipple case to create a seal. When a grease
gun is attached to the nipple, and pressure is applied to the grease gun,
the force of the grease pushes against the ball and the ball is forced
inwards, at the same time grease is able to flow around the ball and through
the grease nipple case. As soon as the handle on the grease gun is released
and the grease stops flowing, the spring then pushes against the ball creating
a seal that stops the grease from coming back out through the nipple.
What can go wrong with a grease nipple?
Not much actually! Occasionally the steel ball
will rust and this will cause the ball to lock into place. If you attach
the grease gun to the nipple and start to pump the grease, only to find
that the grease is coming out around the nipple rather than flowing through
it, this is usually a sign that the ball has seized. There is probably
some highly technical way to free up a seized ball in a grease nipple,
but all I do is to push the ball inwards using the end of a screwdriver
until I can see that it is moving, then attach the grease gun. Before you
grease it the next time you should fit a new nipple, they cost less than
a dollar from any auto shop.
I have also encountered the occasional one with
a broken spring. This lets the ball disappear inside and will no longer
seal. If you pump grease through it only to find that grease is coming
back out the hole after you remove the gun, this is a sign that the spring
has probably broken. The nipple should be replaced ASAP.
When you are greasing the car make sure you watch
what you are doing. As you pump grease into a ball joint or tie rod end
you should be able to see the rubber grease boot expanding as it fills
with grease. Don’t pump it so full of grease that it pops open the boot
and grease starts coming out everywhere, this will break the boot and allow
dirt and grime to enter the joints.
You should always wipe the top of a grease nipple
with a rag before attaching the grease gun, if you don’t then any dirt
or grime on the nipple will be pushed inside. If there are visible rust
particles on the top of the nipple it is a good idea to replace the nipple,
as these rust particles could also be forced inside.
When you are replacing front end parts it is
worth noting that some brands of tie rod ends and ball joints don’t actually
give you a new grease nipple, instead they just have a bolt or a plug in
the hole where the nipple should be. If you get one of these make sure
you fit a nipple yourself.
How often should I grease my car?
The owner’s manuals for our cars specified 6000
miles (10000 km) service intervals for the greasing of the car. The only
exception to this case should be if the car is driven in the rain a lot
during the service interval, or if the car does a lot of creek crossings,
in which case it is a good idea to grease the car earlier.
Why should I bother greasing my car this often?
A container of grease costs about $10. If you
are lazy and/or not mechanically minded, a mechanic won’t charge you very
much for what is only a 15 minute job. (I can’t tell you what it costs
because no one touches my car except me)
The cost of replacing all the parts that have
a grease nipple on them in a Datsun sports car is $2637.02, plus labour,
plus wheel alignment, etc. You do the sums yourself!
How many grease nipples does my car have?
If you own a new car then the answer is probably
none. Many new car manufacturers no longer install grease nipples, this
is due to a wonderful new invention they have called “planned obsolescence”.
This means that things like ball joints are now “non-servicable parts”,
they are pre-packed with just enough grease to get them through the new
car warranty period. After that they expect you to either a/ buy another
new car from them, or b/ buy more non-servicable parts from them at extortionate
If you own a quality vehicle, a car that was
built in an era when things were built to last, like say, a 1960s Datsun
sports car, then the answer is 22. (except SP311s and CSP311s, see below)
Grease nipples in a Datsun Sports are located on the 2 upper ball joints,
2 lower ball joints, 4 upper control arm bushes, 4 lower control arm bushes,
there are 6 on the steering rods, 1 on the idler box, 1 on the handbrake
rod pivot on the diff, and 2 on the tail shaft universal joints. (though
some replacement universals do not have grease nipples)
Polymastia is a medical condition where a person
is born with an extra nipple. SP311s and CSP311s are polymastic, they have
an extra grease nipple. This extra nipple is located on the speedo cable
right angle drive unit that is attached to the gearbox. This right angle
drive unit is only found on the SP311 and CSP311 and is not used on an
SP310 or SR311. This should be greased at the same time as the other grease
nipples on the car.
So now that you know all about nipples you can
go and tell you spouse/partner/significant other that you have just spent
the last ten minutes reading a story about nipples, and looking at pictures
of them as well. I’m sure they will be impressed!
I see red
It finally happened the other day, I guess I knew
it would one day. The signs had been there for quite a while that it was
about to happen and it finally did, I have totally forgotten how to drive
like a normal person.
I came to this startling conclusion the other
day after arriving home from a grocery shopping expedition. Now, when a
normal person goes grocery shopping they hop into their normal car and
drive off at a sensible speed (at the speed limit for most people, except
for people in white Mistubishi Magnas who drive at l0kph under the speed
limit at all times), they then do their shopping and return in an orderly
There are two reasons why I have a problem with
being able to go on a normal shopping trip. One is that I own a sports
car. There is apparently some (as yet undiscovered by me) way of driving
a Datsun Sports in something approaching a normal manner. I can't remember
exactly who it was that tried to explain this to me but I don't think he
is in the club anymore, I think he sold his Sports and bought a white Magna.
The other problem I have is that I live on top of a mountain, and the road
leading from the closest Coles supermarket (at the bottom of the mountain)
to my house (on top of the mountain) is one of the best driving roads you
will ever see. I'm sure the guy who designed this road owned a 1966 Datsun
Fairlady and designed every corner to suit the car.
So, after my little shopping foray I piled all
the bags of groceries into the boot of the Fairlady and headed up the hill
towards home. I was trying to come to terms with this "driving like a normal
person" concept as I made my way up the mountain and was generally doing
an OK job of it until suddenly my rear view mirror was full of a rather
large red Ducati (do they make them in any other colour?) with a rider
who obviously wasn't out for a gentle cruise through the mountains. At
this point any rational thought went out the window and was replaced with
the thought "no Italian bike is getting past me", I did the only logical
thing that came to mind, I dropped the gearbox back a gear and nailed it.
Luckily this all happened at the start of a very twisty section of road
and the big Italian bike couldn't get close to the back of the Fairlady
through the series of 90 deg. bends. As I threw the car through the corners
I could hear the bags of groceries shifting around in the boot, but rather
than do what a normal person would do (i.e. slow down, or stop and check
to see if the contents of the boot were OK) I had a more important agenda
to consider (i.e. getting the maximum distance between me and the red Ducati
before we got to the big straight that was coming up soon). So I continued
to hammer through the corners trying to ignore the banging sounds coming
from the boot.
Coming out of the last corner and onto the straight
I had about a 100 metres between me and the bike, which was never going
to be enough, and soon the inevitable happened and the Ducati arked up
and passed me like I was standing still. I knew when to concede defeat,
I'd had my fun so I backed off and cruised home at a more sensible speed
(though not too sensible).
At home came the startling conclusion that I
spoke of earlier. I opened the boot to take out the bags of groceries and
an interesting sight greeted me, although nothing was actually broken,
nothing was actually still in the grocery bags either, and I spent the
next five minutes putting everything back into the bags so I could carry
I went shopping today, just prior to writing this,
and thought of the trip back the other day with the Ducati while piling
the groceries in the boot. I thought to myself that maybe I should take
it a little easier on the way home today, then I had a better idea, I wedged
the groceries in so that they wouldn't move, then took off up the hill
at the usual nutcase rate.
The fun didn't last too long as I was forced
to travel most of the way home doing l0kph under the speed limit stuck
behind a white Magna!
I don't want to sound like I'm making a derogatory
racial comment, but Japanese people must have REALLY small hands. I came
to this startling conclusion at about 10.00am on Wednesday the 20th of
November whilst trying to get a spanner into a space in my little Japanese
sports car where my rather normal sized Australian male hand just won't
fit. I was quietly contemplating this fact at 10.00am because at 9.55 am
I managed to get my arm stuck in an inexcessable place in the engine bay
of my Fairlady and for 5 minutes I tried every conceivable contortion I
could think of to try to break free, but after all that I was still firrnly
wedged into place and I was going nowhere.
The problem all started a few days earlier when
it started to sound like someone had replaced my sweet sounding Nissan
H20 engine with something out of a chaff cutter. About a week earlier I
pulled out the fractured remains of my original extractor, which had two
cracks in it about the size of the San Andreas Fault. I had thoughts of
welding it up but the poor old thing was so thin it looked like it was
made of alfoil, any attempt to weld it would have blown it into a million
pieces. So we decided to fit an old spare I had to get it going again.
The spare wasn't too flash either and had warped considerably, as it sat
on the head there was a 2-3 mill gap between the #2 and #3 pipe and the
bead. I uttered the traditional Australian chant of "she'll be right mate1t
as I tightened the manifold nuts, hoping it would all seal allright. And
it did seal allright, for approximately 2 days, after which it blew the
manifold gasket at #2 and 3.
So off the manifold came again. The first time
I took it off was at my friend Alastair's place, another fellow Fairlady
owner. Of course Alastair has a spectacular array of good quality tools
and I didn't have too much trouble getting it on or off, though the bottom
manifold nut opposite #3 cylinder did take longer to get off than all the
other nuts combined. But back in my shed we don't have any fancy pants
tools, we have crappy $15 Super Cheap spanner sets, so things were never
going to be easy. Lately I have taken on this philosophy that if one nut
or bolt is obviously going to be harder than all the others I will do that
one first. So first on the agenda was the bottom manifold nut opposite
#3 cylinder. I got my hand under the #2 carb and up under the exhaust manifold
but I couldn't quite get the spanner in place. I arched my back heavily
to the right, twisted my elbow into a previously untried position and lunged
further under the manifold, as I did this I felt my elbow slip off the
top of the inner guard and drop down toward the starter. As soon as I felt
that happen I knew I was in trouble. My elbow was stuck about an inch lower
than the top of the inner guard and no matter what I did I couldn't get
out of that position. After exhausting my vocabulary of swear words and
slowly realising that I could be there all day if I didn't settle down
and figure this out I hit on the idea of removing the air cleaner to get
some extra space to move.
To do this I would have to use a 1/2 inch spanner,
I own two 1/2 inch spanners, one was in the boot of the car, so that wasn't
an option, the other was the one I was using to get the manifold nut off,
which by now had done what all spanners usually do when working in the
engine bay and had fallen down onto the ground. I managed to contort into
a few more improbable positions that could possibly give me a career as
a circus act in the future and got my right foot under the car and started
to drag the illusive 1/2 inch spanner from it's resting place under the
sump. Then it was a matter of contorting to the left to bend over and pick
it up. With the spanner in my left hand I managed to take off the air cleaner
and freed my battered and bruised arm. With the air cleaner out of the
road the nut was considerably easier to remove, but it was still a case
of undoing it 1/16 of a turn at a time, and it still took about 5 minutes
to get the damn thing off.
Once the manifold was off I was left with the
decision of whether to fix it properly or to do a bodge job and get the
thing going again asap. It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows
this car that I took the second option and emptied half a tube of Maniseal
onto the joints, while again chanting the great Australian mantra "She'll
be right mate". The car has all too many of these "temporary fixes", when
something breaks it only ever gets a quick fix because I am going to restore
the car next year and I will fix it all properly when I restore it. For
the last ten years I have been going to restore the car next year, when
that day finally comes I'll no doubt be cursing the idiot who emptied half
a tube of Maniseal into the extractor.
Alan and Ruth's Victorian Adventure
Just a quick note of explaination for any non-Australians
that may be reading. Just like in the USA, there is quite a bit of healthy
rivalry that goes on between people in the north of Australia and those
from the south. The problem is that the north is a tropical paradise, and
the south is not, so southerners are all grumpy because they are jealous.
Damn dirty sports car stealing southerners!
It has been happening for years now, a Datsun
sports car gets advertised for sale in Queensland and then some damn dirty
sports car stealing southerner comes up from New South Wales or Victoria
and buys it and takes it home with them. The number of Datsun sports cars
in Queensland has been slowly dropping over the past decade and it's all
because of these damn dirty sports car stealing southerners. It’s not fair!
Not only is it not fair, it doesn't make sense either. Ask any true Queenslander
and they will tell you that the Antarctic Circle is actually located at
the 28th parallel, or as we call it Tweed Heads. People living in the frozen
wastelands of Australia (NSW and VIC) don't need sports cars; it's too
cold down there for a convertible. They should all be required by law to
drive sensible cars like Camrys. Cardigan wearers should be made to drive
cardigan cars. But no, they don't understand that, they have to come up
here and steal our precious Datsun Fairladys and take them back to the
tundra regions of the country where they have to live the rest of their
lives wearing snow chains.
So there I was sitting in front of the computer
late one night last winter (it was 21oC at the time, because if you ask
any Queenslander they will tell you that it never gets below 20oC up here
in sunny Queensland) when I typed 'datsun' into the search section of eBay.
And the first thing I saw was a listing that said 1964 DATSUN FAIRLADY,
“Buy it now $3000”. Not Bids start at $3000, it was “Buy It Now for $3000”.
From the description of the car it sounded like a bargain, but then I saw
the detail that made me want it more than anything else, it said LOCATION
- MELBOURNE. It was in Victoria, perfect! This was my opportunity to exact
revenge on those damn dirty sports car stealing southerners. On behalf
of all Queenslanders I could strike a blow against the southerners and
steal one of their cars. From the time I saw where this little Fairlady
was located I had no control, my mouse hand moved automatically over the
Buy It Now button and I clicked. Our Victorian Fairlady adventure had begun.
We headed to the airport ready to invade Victoria
by stealth. We boarded the plane like a modern day Indiana Jones and Lara
Croft, except without the silly hats. All good military actions are intricately
planned in advance, and our insurgence into the nether regions of Australia
would be no different. We had a precise and complicated three point plan,
which was basically A/ fly to Victoria, B/ drive the car back, and C/ make
up the rest as we went along. The secret to any type of military action
is to sneak up on the enemy from a distance and attack by stealth. As we
descended into the heart of darkness (Victoria) I realized that we may
have slightly overdone the sneak up from a distance bit. We were flying
down by JetStar, which drops people off at Avalon Airport. Regardless of
what JetStar tell you Avalon is not ‘conveniently located to the west of
the Melbourne’, it is actually a tin shed somewhere near Adelaide. Avalon
Airport could be best described as being Caboolture Aerodrome with a Coke
machine. It’s named after a crappy Toyota so what do you expect ?
As we got off the plane I realized it was actually
minus 43oC outside. Snow ploughs cleared a track to the terminal and huskies
pulling sleds carried us to the building. (OK, I made that bit up, there
were no huskies, but it was about 10oC, and that is pretty damn cold for
We hopped on a bus that was driven by someone
who looked strangely like Blakey from ‘On The Buses’, and headed towards
the city, admiring the view along the way. I had Ruth with me, who is a
“reformed Victorian” who would act as my personal tour guide. It was on
this part of the trip that I realized that there was a major problem with
the disguise I was wearing, which was a bright red jacket that was covered
with patches that said things like “Datsun Sports Owners Association” and
“Early Datsun Car Club”. Regardless of this small oversight we managed
to sneak into Melbourne without being spotted by any of the damn dirty
sports car stealing southerners. From the city we then had to head across
to the eastern suburbs to collect the car. We could have done the sensible
thing and caught a taxi there, but being a Queenslander who hadn’t seen
much of Victoria before I thought it would be much better to hop on a tram.
Trams operate at 1 ½ times walking pace and stop every 50 metres,
but are a lot of fun for an out-of-towner. It was pretty obvious that I
wasn’t a local because I sat on the tram grinning like a retard constantly
saying “these trams are hilarious”. Oddly no one else on the tram seemed
to share my opinion.
We arrived at our destination and saw our new
Fairlady sitting in the driveway. A quick look at the car showed that it
was much better than we had been expecting. You could tell straight away
that it was a Victorian Fairlady because it had a brand new soft top. Queensland
Fairladys all have crappy old soft tops because our weather is beautiful
one day, perfect the next, so we never use the roof. (…. or is that just
me ?) Obviously there were a few problems that would need attention at
some stage, as you would expect from a $3000 sports car, but we happily
jumped in the car and headed towards sunny Queensland. We had strode into
enemy territory and had successfully captured one of their prized sports
cars, now all we had to do was get it back home.
We didn’t get too far into our return when we
realized that this little Fairlady wasn’t going to leave without a fight.
Some kind of weird Melbourne Mojo was working to make sure it didn’t leave.
Less than a kilometer into the trip it was obvious that something was very
wrong with the front of the car. The steering was very vague, and once
you got over 80kph it was frightening, it had the directional stability
of a 3 year old on rollerblades. I climbed under the car and checked everything,
it all looked good. “Maybe the wheel alignment is out”, I surmised at the
time. It was too late to get it looked at, plus we couldn’t take the chance
of getting the alignment checked because we might get caught by one of
the damn dirty sports car stealing southerners. We would be easy to spot.
It was obvious that we “weren’t from ‘round these parts” because being
Queenslanders we had suntans, people like Eskimos, Innuits, Siberians and
Victorians all have lily white skin. (I’m sure I read that somewhere) We
would probably stand out like George W. Bush at a Mensa meeting. Then to
make it even more frightening, the sun had set and it started to rain.
The headlights were set up so you could spot koalas with the left light
and blind oncoming truck drivers with the right. The wipers also had a
small problem that meant that they cleared water off only 10% of the screen,
and that 10% was not the part of the screen one would normally look through.
We now had car control that resembled a one legged cross eyed 3 year old
on an ice skate, wearing a Batman mask. We stopped a few more times to
have a visual inspection of the front end to try to spot the handling problem.
After checking all the more complex possibilities I decided to check the
more simple things, like tyre pressures. The gauge at the service station
said, 40psi, 45psi, 7psi, and 48psi. An even 32psi fixed the problem and
we were on our way. We had thwarted an obvious attempt by the damn dirty
sports car stealing southerners to sabotage our trip, and under the cover
of the night we made our run for the NSW border.
As the night progressed we soldiered on. As we
passed the various road signs it made me realize we were truly in a foreign
land, we passed signs to bizarrely named places like Puckapunyal, Nagambie
and Mooroopna. (As we all know, up here in Queensland we only have sensible
place names like Humpybong, Indooroopilly and Mt. Mee) We were tired and
could drive no more, eventually were entered a town called Siberia and
decided to stay the night. (I thought it said Siberia through the 10% of
the lower right hand corner of the windscreen I had to look through. Apparently
the sign said Shepparton, it was cold enough to be Siberia though, so you
can understand my confusion)
We awoke bright and early the next day (9.30)
and had to shovel our car out from under 43 feet of snow. (… OK, I made
that up as well, but it was about 5oC, which is DAMN COLD for a sun loving
Queenslander) we then had an uneventful run to the NSW / VIC border. We
had escaped the perils of Victoria, but who knew what dangers lurked in
New South Wales. The NSW lot have an even worse reputation for coming up
here and stealing sports cars than the Victorians do, they were sure to
try to interrupt our plans. We headed up the Newell highway through Forbes
and Parkes and on through Dubbo. Driving through town we realized that
Dubbo wasn’t quite as exciting when there wasn’t 50 Fairladys in the place.
We got to Coonabarabran and stayed the night.
We awoke bright and early the next day (10.30)
and found that our car was encased in a glacier and we had to use a blow
torch to extract it from the ice. (…OK, I made that up as well, but it
was really, really cold and we did have to scrape frost off the car) As
we left town we had a decision to make. Would we take the high road or
the low road? The low road, the Newell Highway, is a bunch of boring straight
roads through a lot of cotton fields. The high road, the New England Highway,
is a twisty road through the mountains. We were in a sports car, so there
was no question really, we would take the high road. Plus the last time
we went on the low road I sang the Beach Boys song “Cotton Fields” for
about 350 kilometres, there was a good chance that Ruth might start throwing
things at me if she heard that song again. The only potential problem was
that the New England was allegedly a bit colder, but we had just stayed
in the polar regions of Sheparton and Coonabarabran, how much colder could
At about this point it is probably a good time
to explain something to anyone who doesn’t know me, and that it that it
has to be near cyclonic conditions before I even think about putting the
roof up. I live by the Datsun sports owners creed, which is that if it
is raining and you are getting wet, then you should speed up so the water
goes over your head. It takes more than a bit of cold weather to make me
put the roof up. Roofs are sissy girlie things. It is an affront to one’s
manhood to put the roof up. It is outside of the spirit of sports car ownership
to actually use roof. So, as with most of the trip, we headed off up the
high road with the roof down and the wind in our hair. (Except for a certain
female in the car, who wore a beanie) Little did we know that the NSW people
were about to try and sabotage us with their secret weapon. Really, really,
really bloody cold weather!
All was going well as we headed into Tamworth.
We had two minor dramas as we approached town, the first was that we managed
to get a small rock lodged in the brakes, which made a squealing sound
like a fist fight between a banshee and a possum, this was easily fixed.
The second was that Ruth turned violent when I insisted on singing Slim
Dusty songs every time we passed a road sign with Tamworth on it. From
there it was a fun twisty climb up into the mountains, and this new Fairlady
was handling the run like a dream. But as we continued to climb the temperature
continued to drop. By now it was so cold I had two jackets on.
The other sissy girlie thing that no real man
would ever think of using in a sports car is a heater. Real men don’t need
heaters, we are tough. (or maybe stupid) If Arnold Schwarzenegger owned
a Fairlady you can bet he wouldn’t use some skirt-wearing heater as he
drove through Guyra.
As the mercury continued to drop I started to
hear a strange sound coming from the left hand side of the car. It started
off quietly, but was continually getting louder and louder. My ears were
frozen and not working well, but the noise actually sounded like a female
voice suggesting we should put the roof up! This couldn’t be true, but
it was. I know this is hard to believe but Ruth actually wanted the roof
up! And it wasn’t even raining! I was panic stricken, what if someone saw
me in a sports car with the roof up? All those years I spent honing my
action man image would be destroyed. We eventually negotiated a compromise,
I turned on the sissy heater.
As we approached Glen Innes I looked up to the
sky to check out the rather odd looking clouds that were forming. As I
did some odd little white flakes landed on my glasses, as I looked back
through the windscreen there were more white flakes. “What the hell is
this white stuff” I asked. “Oh my god, it’s snowing! We REALLY have to
put the roof up now” was the reply from Ruth. (I know I made up some of
the other cold weather bits, but this time it is true, it really was snowing,
honestly!) I’d never seen snow before, and there was now way known I was
going to miss out on my first snow experience by putting the roof up. We
drove into town for the next 10 kilometres with the sound of protests coming
from the left side of the car, and laughter and “woo hoos” coming from
the right side. We stopped in town and I gave in, the roof went up. My
macho image was now officially in tatters.
We descended the mountains and the temperature
slowly climbed to a more acceptable level (it was now only about minus
20 on the Queensland scale) and we were about to make our final run to
the border. We were apprehensive as we neared the border. We had spent
too long getting out of the southern states and we were sure the word would
be out by now amongst the damn dirty sports car stealing southerners that
one of their own had escaped. We were braced for a road block at the border.
It was going to be like a remake of Smokey and the Bandit. We would be
like Burt and Sally (but with about 300hp less) having to jump the Fairlady
over a sea of Phill Brooks and Lou Mondellos and Claude Movias, and Haydn
Goochs, and other allies of the damn dirty sports car stealing southerners
intent on stopping us from crossing the line to liberate this Fairlady
from the south. They had tried to stop us with their psychotic tyre pressure
and windscreen wiper adjustments, and they had used their dodgy weather
against us, and broken our spirit so badly that we had to act like southerners
and put our roof up. But they hadn’t stopped us, Queensland was in our
sights, nothing would stop us now.
But no one was waiting to ambush us at the border,
we crossed the line without drama. We had made it back without resistance.
How could this be? The only thing I can think of was that there must have
been an AFL game on, or lawn bowls, or synchronized swimming, or some other
odd sport that southerners like. As we passed the state line the clouds
instantly disappeared and the temperature in Stanthorpe was a toasty 32oC,
we were back in the Sunshine State, where the weather is beautiful one
day and perfect the next. (It was actually about 5oC, but don’t tell the
We returned triumphantly to Brisbane, a crushing
blow had been dealt to the damn dirty sports car stealing southerners.
We had finally reversed the trend. Now, fellow readers, it is time for
all Queensland Datsun Sports Owners to follow our example. Go forth DSOA
people, and mount your own raids on our southern neighbours and bring more
sports cars back to sunny Queensland where they belong. And maybe while
you are at it you can send them some of our Camrys so they have something
more suitable to drive.
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