And Another Thing... PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Monday, 23 May 2016 21:47

Following on from the post the other day, I’ve been giving my driving future a lot of thought. After all, I’ve owned the 180SX for seven months, and it’s been off the road for three of them. (However is back on the road at the time of writing - hooray!!) Not to mention I bought a ute that doesn’t run, and the Prelude that I’ve owned for approaching 12 years hasn’t moved since it ran out of rego last November (note to self – I should really do something about that) I planned on doing some work on it over the Christmas holidays, but I guess I was just too busy…

G6ETurbo

FG Falcon G6E Turbo. Image from the internet, claim if yours

 

But it's with the Mazda that things start to get interesting. You see when you drive a normal car you don't expect things to go wrong. Little Lola has some rattles and other weird noises that you sort of expect when a car starts to approach having travelled 200,000km. Nothing that I don't think we can fix – one of them is an exhaust heat shield that has come loose - but they’re enough to prove that she has a personality. Just last month she chucked a hissy fit and refused to start when we were trying to leave the race track; which resulted in me chasing a new battery at 8.00 on a Thursday night! (That was fun...not...)

But the real epiphany came just a week ago. With my ute not ready to move things, we borrowed a ute off a family member to move some furniture. This is a clean and tidy VE Series II SV6, with 6-speed manual and blue paintwork. And when you drive this with a tonne of stuff in the back (figuratively; a Commodore ute can't move a full tonne) you realise what a wonderful thing they are. These things are the perfect answer to moving things around our country in comfort. And as a result we quickly realised how sad it is that they won't be around much longer.

My opinion of the VE II Ute shouldn't be a surprise to anybody, given the way I praise the wagons built on the same architecture. The ute is wonderful, and is properly a car while so many other light commercials edge even further way from the ute ethos to become merely small or mid-size pick-up trucks.

But just before I changed jobs I got the chance to drive my former boss's car, an FG Falcon G6E Turbo. At the time I joked that if I'm ever mature enough to need a family car that this is what I'll buy. The thing would undoubtedly be one the best late model cars I've ever driven. I ran out superlatives to describe it pretty quickly, but the lack of a manual gearbox would almost certainly be enough to stop me from buying one.

But consider that between these two, they typify modern cars. They don't stand out in traffic - indeed my old boss does more hoon-ey things than I ever could, and nobody bats an eyelid because he's just driving a late model Falcon. Just like a hundred thousand others. Same with the Commodore ute, nobody looks twice because there are so many of them around.

The G6E with its turbocharged 4.0L six cylinder is every bit as fast as my dearly departed S14 was, while the Commodore is near as makes no difference to as fast as the 180SX. Despite their extra weight both handle almost as well thanks to the advances in suspension and chassis design in the last 20 years. Although I seriously doubt either will stop as well as the 180SX does, especially after the big brake upgrade is completed. Both can be supremely fun to drive, and neither returns significantly poorer fuel economy than the 180SX. And the Falcon even dumps raw fuel into the exhaust on gear changes, so you get the backfire noises just like an F1 car…unlike the 180SX which just randomly backfires occasionally.

And they do all of this with modern car road manners. They're quiet, well screwed together and they have every conceivable electronic thing to keep me amused at traffic lights. They don't scrape their respective undercarriage every time you drive over something thicker than a box of matches, and neither car will sulk in the corner and cause the owner to wait for weeks for obscure parts to arrive from the other side of the country. They aren't scared of Police the way the turbo Nissan is, and they have good sound systems without needing to take up half he boot. The seats do a good job of holding the occupants while cornering without needing to be stiff and unmoving, and all of the interior electronics actually work.

What I'm saying is that the OEMs have caught up. While the 90s turbo imports are still awesome, they are to a point where something available from a local dealt off the factory floor is almost as good (and in many cases better).

I mused to the ladyfriend the other day that sometimes I wonder why I persist with a 20-year-old import for my driving enjoyment. Especially when you look at the raw numbers and find that something widely available is not only almost as good but easily upgraded to make it vastly better.

She responded by asking why don't I just go and buy one then. If that was truely the way I felt then what reason could I possibly have for not simply returning the Nissan to the scumtree from whence it came, leaving my evil hoon days behind me and buying something late model like I've been describing. I could stop constantly trawling scumtree and skid sales for parts to replace bits that probably should not have failed, and may even get weeknights and weekends back; rather than spending them under a bonnet in the shed.

And I suppose I could do that. Maybe not even a Falcon or Commodore, but even something like a later model Impreza WRX – you know, one of the WRXs aimed at the boy racer who has grown up. A second hand BMW 3-series coupe would look great in my driveway too, and they can be had for reasonable money. Or I could simply act my age and buy a Honda Accord Euro. A mate has a dark grey one with the six speed manual and leather interior that will be for sale soon. Perfect car for a retired car nut. Hell, I could even retain a bit of the evil streak with something proper grown up like one of the hottie Fiestas or Clios that I continually threaten to buy. Or even a Mini Cooper S perhaps?

But these thoughts all came later. During the initial discussion, I didn't have to think long and hard about my response. It came to me instantly. My response was quick, to the point and possibly even witty. Sure it was brief but it was to the point.

Because I don't want to.

 

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