After a brief hike in the scenic Glass House Mountains, my brother suggested we go to nearby Kilcoy to get some delicious sausage rolls and pies from their bakery. Upon arriving in this bucolic town, we happened across a sign that read “Car Show at Showgrounds.” I wasn’t expecting to see a world-class array of vehicles, thinking that it would be dominated by hot rods and maybe a few Monaros. Although it wasn’t a massive car show and it was starting to wrap up as we got there, I was very pleasantly surprised by the diversity of vehicles. This picture says it all, really: a 1962 Buick LeSabre, a 1979-82 Holden TE Gemini panel van, and a Datsun 280ZX.
I didn’t want to keep my brother and his partner too long as they aren’t automotive enthusiasts. Our short visit, though, did still allow me to take over a hundred photos on my iPhone. I’m surprised that a small regional show had such a good mix of vehicles, so I’m going to have to check out more local shows in future with my hybrid SLR camera in tow. The very first vehicle I saw at this show was this Rambler Rebel parked by the entrance. The Rambler name stuck around longer here, with a few AMC vehicles being assembled from completely-knocked down kits at Australian Motor Industries. This meant you could buy a Rambler Matador and a Rambler Javelin.
This pristine Holden VC Commodore immediately captured my attention and my brother’s. Growing up, my parents had a 1978 VB Commodore 3.3 automatic in chocolate brown until it was stolen. It was replaced by a canary yellow VH Commodore with the smaller 2.8 six but a five-speed stick. Let this picture serve as a teaser for a future article on these handsome early Commodores. This particular example was in base L trim, with the 3.3 six and a three-speed automatic.
MGBs seem to be one of the more common classic cars that I see on the roads, so I don’t really stop to give them a second look. This MG RV8 stood out, though. A whopping 1579 of the 2000 RV8s produced were exported to Japan, due to the Japanese people’s affinity for British vehicles. They were not officially sold in Australia, but obviously some have made their way here. The venerable aluminum 3.9 Rover V8 reappeared in the last of the MGBs, but so did the rear leaf springs and rear drum brakes.
Speaking of MGs that weren’t sold here, I was extremely surprised to see this MG 6. Produced by the Chinese-owned MG Motor, this C-segment compact hatchback is manufactured in Thailand, China and the UK, and exported to various global markets. MG is planning to launch here, which likely explains all the promotional material in the back. The styling of these is fortunately not a tacky retro throwback, but they don’t have a massive amount of presence. Still, these MG 6s – the Magnette name is used for sedans – show promise and apparently handle quite well. They actually share their front subframe with the defunct Rover 75.
There was just one 75 at the show. These 75s were a decent effort but didn’t save the company. They always left me cold, thanks to droopy, ostentatiously retro styling much like the Jaguar S-Type. Like the S-Type, though, the styling improved with facelifts and the addition of performance models. These definitely warrant a detailed article as well, so stay tuned.
One more shot of the 75 is needed though to truly communicate how tacky these looked. I love wood trim in cars and I love pale leather seating surfaces, but this curvy jellybean styling jars terribly.
This classic Rover 3.5 Litre Coupe was more my style. I guess you could call these P5 Rovers ahead of their time, labelling a four-door sedan a “coupe” a good thirty years before Mercedes launched the CLS.
While these are a lot more upright than today’s four-door coupes, that C-pillar is pretty racy. Did Rover get a lot of scorn for daring to call a four-door a coupe?
I was surprised by the number of Buicks at the show. There was this beautiful Wildcat…
…another Wildcat, surprisingly well-suited to its banana cream yellow…
…as well as this 1970-72 GS Stage 1. I much preferred the Cutlass of these years, or the 68-69 Skylark/GS with the bold sweepspear. After 1970, these looked far too bland for Buick: compare and contrast with the Wildcat and its neat detailing. In my opinion, the 1973 Colonnades were a huge improvement stylistically (particularly the short-lived Century GS).
The square gauges were a classy touch, though.
The most elegant Buick on show was this 1965 Riviera. Silver suits the achingly gorgeous lines well. A lot of cars these days are silver with a black interior, but this Riviera shows how that color combination should be done!
The interior was absolutely exquisite. Such a bold design and yet so elegant at the same time.
This 1959 DeSoto Firesweep had some peculiar red trim beneath the door handles, and on the front bumper.
Also note the amber turn signals at the rear.
There were a row of Ford GT40s at the entrance.
There were just as many Pontiac Firebirds as there were Australian cars combined. Interestingly, I saw only one Camaro – a first-generation model – and it was leaving as I was arriving. Obviously, American Curbsiders are probably quite used to seeing Firebirds at auto shows but this was a new experience for me.
Here I am talking about cars that are a dime a dozen in North America, though. So how about something truly Aussie, like this mint-condition Holden Kingswood wagon?
Valiant Toyota Crown ute in period orange is more your style?
I should appreciate these more, but these 1960s Holdens (the maroon wagon and mint green sedan on the right) are just so common in Australia still that I struggle to gather any interest in them. The last of the Torana/Sunbird series would catch my eye on the street, and maybe one of the rarer HZ Holdens of 1977-80. But these? Sorry, I didn’t take too many pictures.
These 1970s Falcons were one of the rare instances where a coupe model was actually produced. Sadly, there were none of the coupes at the show, but there was this XB Falcon GT sedan. It sure must feel weird for you American Curbsiders to see a performance trim on a sedan of this era, and it must also leave you flummoxed to see styling so clearly reminiscent of the contemporary Torino.
A full article is needed on these Leyland P76s to truly do them justice. A family friend is actually a card-carrying member of the P76 Club, so I definitely have access to a lot of historical information. This is a stock paint color, amusingly called Am-I-Blu. While as a kid I didn’t find these too exciting, I now appreciate them for their period styling and their obscurity. Nice cars.
This WB Statesman de Ville was depressing. It was missing trim and had this godawful aftermarket bullbar. I love these WB Statesmans and once contemplated buying one but unfortunately, anything Aussie and halfway interesting from the 1980s and earlier holds its value extremely well.
Japanese cars were not very well-represented – I counted two – but this 1978 Toyota Corona Mk II Grande coupe sure was an interesting sight to behold.
It looks like the Japanese knew how to be Broughmantic, just by looking at that formal grille…
…and these incredibly tacky velour seats. What, no coach lamps?
The French were better represented, with this Renault R8…
…and this Citroen
DS ID with incredibly peculiar wheels. I love goddesses but these wheels are hideous.
Finally, as it is Thunderbird week, let us end on this “Bullet Bird”. I’ve always been impressed by the looks of these, but this one just didn’t have much presence in the metal. I blame the red paint job, because bright red is rarely a good colour for cars in my opinion. I also didn’t ogle this for long because right next to it was that 1965 Riviera. It’s funny: GM may have been beaten to the personal luxury punch by Ford, but when they arrived they really brought it.