CC Junkyard: Bishops Bridge Many Years Ago

A recent CC clue on the OB CAC Bedford bus looked familiar. Sure enough, among some photos I’d scanned earlier, there it was in all its dilapidated streamlined glory. While an invitation to climb aboard might seem futile in the state pictured here, it should be noted this was taken a long time ago and the old bus was one of two vehicles earmarked for collection by enthusiasts. So let’s take a walking tour for a last look at some less fortunate internees of the junkyard.

Before setting off, keen eyes will note this bus also has a rear doorset unlike the earlier examples we’ve seen.

Briefly, the backstory to this adventure and the images taken nearly 30 years ago in the Hunter Valley in NSW, Australia. Unsurprisingly, I like old and interesting cars and actively seek them out. This means exploring country wrecking yards at every opportunity.  A weekend trip through Bishops Bridge led to this yard which was being cleared, the crusher was returning the next week to finish the job. Luckily the remaining stock, furthest from the road and with the highest concentration of old iron, was still available to explore. But this was no mere sightseeing ramble, I was interested in parts and after an invitation to take whatever I wanted at no cost and to just leave it stacked out of the way next to the Bedford for pickup, it would have been downright rude to leave empty handed.

We begin the tour with a tetanus booster and a look at the tail of a 1962 Pontiac Laurentian sedan, locally assembled from a Canadian CKD kit, perched atop a 1970 Ford Galaxie.

Moving around to the front and it becomes apparent why the car was taken off the road.

A wider shot of the grouping shows a Tank Fairlane in the undergrowth. These were sold locally from 1959 until 1962. Also notable for being the gold medal recipient from the Comité Français des L’élegance of Paris— in acknowledgement of the world’s most beautifully proportioned cars—at the Brussels World’s Fair. Or was it?

The compact Fairlane of 1962 superseded the Tank. A 1963 Fairlane is seen here below a second generation XR (Sept 1966-67) or XT (1968) Falcon

Local Fairlane derivatives of the Falcon commenced with the ZA (1967-68) whose tail lamp is peering through the fern. That’s an XA-XC (1972-79) panel van rusting quietly to the left of the Fairlane.

From the location of the trim fixings this looks to be an XL (1962-63) Falcon rear quarter, a car often thought fragile in its initial XK form. Ford noted the shortcomings substantially reworking the front suspension and added torque boxes to the body of the XM of 1964. The XP was introduced in 1965 with a legendary endurance run at the proving ground where at least one of the hardtops was rolled during the event. When crossing the finish line it did not look pretty, but it was still going which was the point of the exercise.

Still pretty, but not going, is this XP Falcon wagon. This is the final facelift of the early bird and utilises some Comet sheetmetal for a very attractive look. Not apparent from this photo is the rear overhang of the local wagon being significantly less than the US market original. Australians were, however, still offered the dynoc and glassfibre trimmed Squire from XL to XP series, they were never common and survivors are highly sought after cars today.

This Mk I Zephyr (1951-56) was, along with the Bedford bus, awaiting a new lease on life. The MacPherson strut front suspension is revealed with the removal of the guard.

Not so lucky, but a good deal rarer, is this locally designed Mk II Zephyr utility destined for the crusher. The Zephyr’s unitised construction would have made the re-engineering a challenge and it is probably overbuilt, it is also likely this utility is concealing further rust. We’ve all seen worse 356s brought back, so all this needed was money and a cult following. The XA – XC ute in the background also deserved better.

And now we reach the A bodies. First is this AP6 (1965) Valiant Regal sedan, a premium offering in its time, on a VF (1969) Valiant sedan.

This is a VF Chrysler VIP, a local market long wheelbase A body with the extension visible in the rear door drop glass. The hand painted twin coachlines remain faintly visible on the upper bodysides. The peeling vinyl top would reveal the unfinished lap jointed turret. To conceal this expediency, and the plug reducing the rear screen aperture, a layer of padding was inserted beneath the vinyl top. It looked a million dollars and inevitably held water and promoted rust. These were very nice cars, of which I’m sure you’ll be convinced by the end of the tour. It is held aloft by the sheer hubris of BMC and Alec Issigonis’ ADO 17 Austin 1800.

This is the radiator shroud panel and metalwork to accommodate the VIP quad lamp styling. This car is the VG (1970-71), successor to the VF, which can be determined by the ventless front door glasses. The VG VIP, in V8 configuration, was the first car sold on the Australian market with air conditioning as a standard fitting.

And this is the model specific VF-VG VIP tail lamp. More about this later…

A P6 Rover, single carb 2000. Its alloy bonnet (hood) and very little else has been salvaged. An AP5 or 6 obligingly holds it at this jaunty angle. In the background is an example of the first Vauxhall Viva (HA 1963-66)…let’s say it was fear of snakes, rather than total disinterest, that held me back from that one.

Here we see an Austin A95 (1956-59). Not a common sighting in my experience despite assembly taking place in Sydney.

This is the the Morris Major Elite (1962-64), a local rebody of the Wolseley/Riley 1500 which by all accounts was a decently sorted thing when superseded by the Morris 1100 in the local market. And I’m not just saying that because Curbivore Chris is, in addition to being a jet pilot, a Major owner. Curbside Classicists intent on seeing more Morris are referred to the video “The Hundredth Meridian” by Canadians The Tragically Hip.

How ever did that get there? A Curbside Conundrum? Moving on…look away now, Bryce! It’s for your own good.

A Series V, Va or VI Hillman Minx (1963-65) sedan perched on an XA or XB Falcon. The white painted roof of the Falcon suggests it’s the earlier XA. Two toning died very suddenly among local producers in the mid 1960s with Holden restricting the choice to white only roofs offered from EH (1963-65) onwards, except for limited run specials like the Vacationer.

A Humber Vogue (1963) above a Torana HB s.II 4-door (thanks Bernard) with the glimpse of what looks like a Fiat 1100 circa 1959 in the upper right.

And another Fiat, this is 1800/2100/2300 (production window 1959-69). Not a common car in these parts, and a premium offering in its day. We might get just one at the annual Italian car display day and the most cursory interaction with the owner will reveal they are impossible to find parts for.

I had an idea what this might be, but I thought it would pay to check. Chris of the Grey GooSE responded “At a guess, it is a rusty finny. More information?…It is an early car, pre 1962. It is not an air suspended car. It is a RHD model, and probably Aussie assembled. Most likely a 220S, but hard to be definitive”.

How can such statements be made, you ask? Bonnets were counterbalanced by torsion bars to mid 1960, the hinged heating flap in the firewall was discontinued for 1962, the black painted engine bay says it’s locally assembled, no 3 litre cars were locally assembled and in any case it has none of the 3 litre’s additional brightwork, and finally the S was priced lower than the fuel injected SE so it’s reasonable to assume they’d be the more numerous. The W111 sedans were locally assembled by AMI at Port Melbourne who coincidentally undertook assembly of Toyota cars, such as the pre facelift RT 40 Corona peeking out at the right.

AMI also assembled Triumph cars and this 1968 Rambler Rebel sharing the ground level accommodation with two HQ Holdens. The Type 3 notchback Volkswagen residing upstairs was built by VW Australia at Clayton SE of Melbourne.

And finally the tour arrives at what’s left of a FJ Holden (1953-56) panel van stacked on a FC Holden (1958-60) sedan. On top of the mid ground stack is a HD (1965-66) sedan regularly pilloried for their susceptibility to rust, “kidney cutter” front guards, and too-narrow track front and rear. These deficiencies were remedied with the update to HR leading to speculation the product codes actually stood for “Hastily Devised” and “Hastily Revised.” The biggest failing of the HD was really in arriving immediately after the very successful, and still widely liked, EH series. Now, if you please, to the exit via the gift shop.

While you make you your selections, let me tell you about mine. I spent a frantic few hours in intermittent rain retrieving parts with only the most basic tools. I focused on the VIPs as I had always liked the cars. The haul included the long rear doors, ventless front doors, tinted glass, town car rear screens and seals and numerous other small items. The tail lamp clusters/end caps were removed putting a cold chisel through the quarter panels because I wasn’t carrying deep sockets. Naturally I wished for more time and that I could have been more systematic in the search, but was very glad with that I did get. The next weekend, in a borrowed van, I dragged all the parts back to Sydney.

I still have the Compact Fairlane’s C pillar badge on a shelf in the garage.

The reactions of onlookers varied from amused to concerned, depending on their proximity to the action. The fact that should be disclosed is that none of the parts collected suited any car I then owned. I was still studying, working but making very little, and had no suitable storage facility. So in anticipation of the universe sending me a VIP sedan, I harvested a lot of stuff that was stored first at my mother’s house in Sydney, then a storage unit in Canberra and finally at my own house in Melbourne. The VIP stuff was really a minor part of the collection when compared to the C-body Dodge Phoenix spares I’d amassed since 1985. Just writing this makes me feel tired from the transporting and stacking involved.

Later the universe did send me a VG VIP which we held onto for years. An interstate move meant a lot of work to pass inspection, and later my wife took it over while on maternity leave. Yes, even the AC worked, more specifically the vacuum controls were made to work once more. There was also a very nice VE VIP (the introductory model on the standard wheelbase – some of which were exported to the UK to replace the Humber Super Snipe in the Rootes lineup) which my brother had for a while. In gathering these bits of unobtainium I effectively ensured I never needed any of them for the cars while I owned them. These parts all went with the VIP which was sold about in 2001 and has since been fully restored. There was a sigh of relief when the VIP, the Phoenix, and all their parts finally left as the trade off for acquiring the 450 SE L 6.9

Thanks wrecking yard guy, and thanks universe. That VIP was one very fine car.