A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


EH Holden Sedan 1965

EH holdens ruled, HQ served, L300 8 seater almost ideal, VW Golf economical rocket, finding the car to suit a changing need.

Carolyn’s Dad, Les, always bought the run-out model new car, usually the base model, this one a 1965 EH Holden sedan he had bought new.  It was straight and unmolested, 149 3-speed manual.  In need of refurbishment, the usual rust in the lower section of all panels, I began collecting bits and parts eventually repairing all the rust, some replacement doors and respraying the car inside and out in a new Holden colour Chamois a creamy green colour close to the original green,  very nice.  With the two EHs, the wagon was more useful and the decision was made to sell the EH sedan to a young lad who was the son of a friend, of a friend, sad to see it go.  However, Carolyn’s parents had offered us their Datsun 180B sedan a Family car much more economical to run.

Datsun 180B Sedan

Family car, very economical to run and easy to drive, it was an interim car, too good to pass up when it was offered to us but not as useful as a wagon.  Another car I should have kept.

HQ Holden wagon. 1976

Yes I liked my wagons, the HQ looked good on paper, big roomy car, drove well, 173 low compression motor, 3-speed manual all syncro box.  I had always heard buying a car from the auctions at work was the way to get a good deal. 

Sally approved

Bought 11/8/1978 at 43,000 km, because I could fix panels and paint I tended to buy a fixer-upper than get the best car for my money.  The HQ was a great car, that was after I repaired a couple of dents and resprayed it inside and out,  a nice Saffron yellow with an original brown interior.  Upgraded the sway bar on the front and fitted a rear sway bar, a huge improvement to the flatness of the ride when cornering. 

The HQ looking splendid in Saffron Yellow, Sally approved!

We did a family road trip to the Sunshine Coast with Carolyn’s parents, Les and Val and my parents Don and Gus, towing a Camper trailer that could sleep 6.  There and back in 4 weeks no problems.  The HQ was My last wagon, a good workhorse, but I was a small car man at heart.

Logbook of the trip to Yandina 3 couples in the HQ and towing a Camper trailer.

HQ wagon with Camper on the Sunshine Coast QLD

Carolyn relaxed on the Veranda

Ians House in the Bush is coming along very well

Mystery Crators Bundaberg QLD Don (foreground) Les, Gus, Val and Carolyn.

Visiting the Mystery Craters is a journey of discovery! Halfway between Bundaberg and Gin Gin is Australia’s most baffling phenomenon. Since their discovery in 1971, the origins of the 35 oddly shaped craters have remained the subject of controversy. The mottled mixture of sandstone and ochre stain has been the subject of many investigations and various theories have been offered.

Stopping at Zack’s Toowoomba was a must Photo opportunity for Les Zacher Carolyn’s dad

Local on the bench, standing Carolyn, Dan, Gus, Val and Les

Trip Totals 112.55 Ltrs, 6994 Km (17 MPG or 6.22 Km per Ltr) A once in a lifetime trip, glad we did it.

Golf GL MkI 5 door 1976

The Golf was a sensation when it came to Australia, a 5-door hatchback with a responsive 1600cc four-cylinder motor.  It was the now car of the 1970s, I wanted one, I did! I traded the HQ.  From a big family wagon to a small, five-door hatch.  A great little car, our daughter had arrived and the bassinet was secured in the back with the seat belts.  No capsules or baby car seats then.  Apart from the lack of proper maintenance by the previous owner, and the usual ignorance of what was required of a proper car maintenance schedule, it was an amazing car. 

We toured the eastern states in our holidays, camper trailer in tow, no problems just fun to drive. With the Camper trailer in tow, Carolyn, Sarah and I teamed up with Tony, Helen and Neil to tour across to The Smowys in May 1982 taking in some snowball throwing, and Clogging around.

Lack of proper maintenance, was yet to catch me out, Carolyn was driving when the Golf would run out of enough petrol to drive. Pulling into the curb, the Golf would run at idle, then after driving away the engine would die away for lack of fuel. Call home, I came out and inspected the engine to find the fuel filter blocked, punched a hole through the filter with a screwdriver and away Carolyn was on the road again.

Golf magazine from America had all the after-market gear one could only dream of along with many interesting articles.  Eventually, the growing family, our son Nic arrived and with encouragement from my best friend, Darryl a Mitsubishi L300 minibus was the go.

Sold November 1983

Mitsubishi L300 minibus

My friend Darryl suggested the L300 mini bus was a great car for the growing family.  Our Golf was in need of updating we were now a family of four and often could do with an extra two seats, six seats, the L300 was an 8 seater and affordable. 

The car dealer offered us a half-reasonable price, ex-Rental has only driven in the city by little old ladies on Sundays.  Right from the first drive, the L300 was a goer, it would cruise at 110kph all-day and had versatile 8 seats and room for luggage. 

On a trip to Mildura with Carolyn’s parents for a weekend away with the Camper trailer, the L300 performed faultlessly there and back.

Blocked fuel filter

 Yes! that was an understatement in the L300’s case.  Fuel filters were catching me out again. The filter was packed solid with bull dust from the outback.  Well, permission from the workshop foreman to pull the fuel tank out in the workshop car park and then during my lunch steam clean the tank.  To be sure I pulled off the Carby, stripped it down, cleaned refitted.  Awesome was the appropriate word.  The next day the L300 was back together and drove it home.  On the following weekend while driving the family along Greenhill Road Wayville the L300 began to miss fire and lost power.  Able to drive home able it at a reduced speed, 58km,  when at home I pulled out the spark plugs, numbers 1 and 2 were smashed to a pulp, hmmm, me thinks.  When I was reassembling the L300 I noticed there was one spring washer missing, funny I thought I had accounted for all bit when I pulled it down.   Hmmm.  One could ask the question, Nah! I was sure from then on to regularly inspect and change Fuel filters from then on.

Anyways, when I replaced the spark plugs alls-good and the L300 never missed a beat ever again.

A car before it’s time

When I was calculating the mileage fuel consumption was good, oil consumption was extreme, a pint per 100 miles.  Funny about that, it did not blow oil smoke but it burnt it all the same.  I tackled the used car dealer and, they laughed. 

The good times with the L300 Minibus trips away with Carolyn’s Mum and Dad, Val and Les, particularly the versatility of the car, room for 6 and luggage. 

A problem with the Minibus.  One day Carolyn was driving on a wet day, needing to stop in a hurry while changing lanes, opps, around she goes, the L300 came to a halt, sideway. 

Carolyn had not expected such an experience which made her wary when driving, she suggested time to find another car. 

I saw the L300 a few weeks after we traded it, an acquaintance bought it and in his deal, he got an extender warranty with the car, I congratulated him on a wise decision, say no more.

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