The West

Idle Torque: Charging in time
Witnessing a gathering of classic Australian cars was a fitting way to end a celebratory weekend. Supplied picture

As of about a week ago, my age now begins with a "four". To celebrate the fact I haven't yet got hair plugs or a tight designer tank top, my beloved arranged some Aussie muscle car therapy for me.

She had carefully planned it as a surprise, one which involved a drive down the coast in an iconic muscle car, a muscle car show, perfect weather and pizza at Little Creatures brewery.

She was quite sneaky about it as well, to the point where she had me waving my finger knowingly while raising my unruly, greying eyebrows. What a trickster.

I knew something was up when I heard the iconic howl of a Chrysler six in the distance.

Birds suddenly flew from the trees and dogs cowered in their kennels as that old engine bellowed and blew up unleaded like it was 20c a litre again.

Then the vision of 1970s Australiana appeared before me.

It was a VJ Valiant Charger packing a 265 Hemi, a four-speed on the floor, jellybean mags and the Rolling Stones on the stereo.

It's owned by an old mate who goes by the name Bones. He's also a fine specimen of 1970s Australiana. Partly because, like his Charger, he also makes a lot of noise when fed volatile fluids in the correct dosages.

So there the Charger was in my driveway, with the open driver's door looking as inviting as Roxanne with her red light on.

Sliding into the high-backed seat, I leant back and took hold of the big, triple-spoked wheel and the long, unsprung gear lever.

I backed it out and drove away gingerly, manhandling the steering and being careful to avoid the brand-new Toyota Aurion press car I had parked nearby.

A surprise blast down the coast in this Valiant Charger made for a memorable finish to a certain columnist's 40th birthday weekend. Supplied picture
In a Charger, second gear is the place to be. That alone is all the evidence you need in the no-substitute-for-cubic-inches argument. It emphatically demonstrates the sort of raw, unhinged mongrelness that made these cars so popular in their day and why they're so sought after.

With the company, the car and the perfect weather, the drive down the coast was brilliant in itself. It was topped by a muscle car gathering near Captain Munchies in Fremantle.

It was later lamented that there was no collective noun for a group of Monaros.

Among the contenders offered to fill this gaping hole in our dialect were "a bloke of Monaros" and "an orgy of Monaros". Either way, as long as I'm around them every now and then, that midlife crisis could well be deferred indefinitely.


York Motor Show, from 10am.
JULY 14-15
Dowerin Autokhana Plus, Field Day site, Dowerin.
Phone 0417 019 808.
Super Model Car Sunday, Cusack Road, Malaga, 9am-4pm.
Phone 9448 0110.
Father’s Day Hot Rod Show, St Patrick’s Primary School, Fremantle, 10am-4pm.
Phone 0417 767 566.
Shannons One-Day Classic Rally, Perth and surrounds.

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