Taken around 1998/9 at my parents house at Turkey Beach on the coast of Central Queensland.
We were down at Turkey Beach from Rockhampton and surrounds to spread my Dads ashes in the bay if I recall correctly. The kids in the photo are my kids and three of my nieces. In the front is Lillian, who turned 17 today (22nd January). From the left is my son Kris, who will be 30 this year and looks 10 years younger the lucky bugger. Then there is Bonnie, my eldest daughter, who is 31 this year and also looks 10 years younger. The little one hiding her face is my Niece Ashleigh. She will be 22 soon. Kelsey (Ashleigh’s sister), is in Lisa’s arms. Kels cracks 20 this year. Ash and Kels are my younger sister’s girls. Lisa (who will reach the big 30 at around the same time as Kris) is the youngest of my Big sister’s three children. Actually, if I was to show you pics of all of these kids now, you’d swear they’d found the fountain of youth. Well, the 30+ kids at least. The younger ones have youthful good looks anyway :).
The Valiant has a long history that has links to a friend in Rockhampton, then my father and my defacto brother, John Wode, then another friend of the family, and finally me.
The car is a 1967 VE Valiant. It had a 225 slant 6 with extractors and a slightly bigger carby. A 2 and half inch stainless exhaust, and those sweet Octopus mags with 225s on the rear and 215s up front. It had the front discs (actually the full drive train) and a Black interior with armrest seats from a VIP model (the upmarket one), and the body had undergone extensive work to bring it up to this standard. The front shocks were heavy duty gas, and I screwed the front torsion bars down about 2 inches. It also had air shocks and stabiliser bars on the back. My father had been a previous owner and towed a 22 foot trailerable yacht around with it. Besides my Kombi (that my father gave me, rather than accept $700 as a trade in at the car sales yard), this was my favourite vehicle. OH, yes, it hammered, and it stuck to the road like glue, unlike some valiants I had driven previously.
History of this VE
Many many Moons ago, well for many years back and up until the 2000s, there was a Panel Beaters called ‘Sergeants’ (the last name of the owners) in Denison Street in Rockhampton. It was a family affair and the boys would go on journeys around the state and often interstate, sourcing old Valiants in various states of disrepair. They’d bring them back and either restore and sell them, or keep the special ones, or strip them for parts. They probably had the best range of parts for early model Valiants anywhere in Queensland, possibly Australia.
Anyway, one of the sons found this car as a shell, with nothing worth salvaging except the body, which was in quite good condition. He took it home and grabbed the drive train and interior from a VIP of the same era and built the car up for his mum. It drove up and down the highways around Rocky for some time. Once, the front passenger tyre blew and caused damage to the inside of the wheel arch (they were all steel back then). The ripples from the beating the guard copped from the tyre could still be seen when I owned it. It started to show its age, so he sold the car to a yard in Blackwater, next door to where my father managed an equipment hire business. My dad saw it and bought it straight up. He would have made a deal with the guy I’m sure.
Dad and John stripped it back and began to clean up all the rust that had been growing in it. They replaced a lot of sections with steel, then finished it and painted it. Anyway, Dad used it to tow his yacht, and other boats. Mum would drive backwards and forwards to Brisbane some 800km away, and it just kept going. Eventually it was sold to some people in Blackwater who maintained it in immaculate condition. Finally, they decided to sell it. My family heard about it and asked if I would be interested in buying it, because I’d always liked the car. So I did.
I owned it for some years. We cruised around all over the place. I would spend some Saturdays, with wheels off the car, hand polishing the mags with a paste of whose name I can’t remember. It was a german brand. They weren’t Chrome either, they were Alloys that I polished to a shine. I also used to wash it and chamois it. It was polished sometimes, but really didn’t need it. One afternoon while returning from study at the Uni, I had a tail-ender that damaged the grill, radiator, bumper and both guards. I replaced all that eventually, but didn’t get it painted. Then the transmission had some dramas. So I parked it under the house, hoping to save some money to return it to its former glory. Eventually I sold it to a friend for $400. Some 2 years or more later, I was at a property on the Emu Park Road, and my Valiant was there, completely restored and looking better than ever, with a $700 price tag that I couldn’t afford. Maybe one day it’ll cross my path again.
Footnote: On the same property that the valiant was at, was a group of four Kombis set up as backpacker/WWOOFer sleeping quarters. One of those Kombis was the one I made mention of earlier. I had sold that a loong time ago to a painter.