Idle Torque marks 15 years
Torque began in 1997 with a story about a rare, aluminium bodied Jaguar XK120 and its owner Neville Martin. Supplied picture

Back in September 1997, a new column quietly appeared in The West Australian's Motoring section, written by an extremely excited young car fanatic who still can't stop writing about old cars.

Idle Torque:
BARN FINDS
MERC'S LASTING IMPRESSION
CREATIVE CARS
CLASSIC SCHACHTS
MONZA 1000 HEROES
OLD TRICKS
SUPERAMERICA
LONG RESTORATION FINISHED
BUY A BACK-TO-THE FUTURE CAR

That was, I'm afraid, yours truly. The column was called Idle Torque, a name chosen from about 10 options I'd supplied to the motoring editor.

At the time, I couldn't believe I had just landed a job which I thought would take me years to get.

I didn't really know it at the time, but this role was about to generate some wonderful career opportunities and some of my most cherished car memories.

In putting together that first Idle Torque column, I met Neville Martin and his amazing aluminium-bodied Jaguar XK120.

I found it unbelievable that this, the rarest XK120 of all, was residing in a suburban Perth shed.

Even more exciting was being taken for a ride in this souped-up British silver bullet on that drizzly day as part of my research.

Never had I sat alongside someone more attuned to their car and all of its idiosyncratic needs.

At the time I was amazed that Mr Martin was driving it in the rain, but later realised that to him, the car was so much more than a collector's item.

The Jaguar needed to be driven and he needed to drive it. It was a part of him and vice versa.

Club events have consistently featured strongly in Idle Torque, and it's been great to recognise the tireless work of people who are in it for love alone.

As well as that, it has been especially rewarding to report on how WA enthusiasts in our many car clubs have been preserving and recording our State's motoring history.

Idle Torque may have contributed to those records in a modest way, but I see the role of the column more as a way of bringing the work of these people to the attention of a wider audience.

Delving into the history and restoration of important WA racing cars such as the White Mouse, the TS Special, the Plymouth Special and the Repco Holden was particularly enjoyable.

It was also satisfying to report on the old Caversham racetrack having its future secured as a place that will honour those who raced there between the mid-1940s and 1969.

Last, but most importantly, having the opportunity to meet some of the pioneers of WA motorsport has been a great privilege.

Hearing their stories and being able to recount them in Idle Torque as they told them was, and is, always rewarding. Many have since gone to heaven's racetrack and this makes my time with them even more cherished.

Never-endingly, classic cars are enveloped with stories about heroics, mystery, discovery, archaeology, endurance and restoration and, as a result, I am endlessly fascinated by them.

I know I'm not alone in this fascination and I thank you, gentle and intelligent reader, for your support of Idle Torque over the past 15 years.

The West Australian

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