Morley's workshop returns

By: David Morley, Unique Cars magazine

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UC Holden Special EJ Sedan So, when did the red motor really start? Let the fun begin... UC Holden Special EJ Sedan
UCdavemorley splitty VW Morley's splitty Kombi needs a little work. UCdavemorley splitty VW

Morley was in witness protection for a while there, but now he's back!

Morley's workshop returns
Morley is back!

Seeing Red

If you’ve been missing this column in your favourite armchair read, there’s a good reason - it’s been AWOL. Frankly, I had so many haters on my tail I had to go into witness protection for a while. Haters?

Yep, seems I really stirred up a hornet’s nest a few months ago when I suggested that Holden may have built a small number of EJ Holdens with red motors rather than the grey motor that powered the vast majority of EJs and, in fact, every single Holden up to that point. The hypothesis was based on various yarns I’d heard over the years that claimed Holden had stuck red sixes into the last batch of EJs because it had simply run out of grey motors during the run up to the introduction of the mighty red donk.

People who’d never seen or heard of such a thing seemed genuinely offended that I could put forward such a theory and the debate kicked off like a Pommy soccer brawl. My statement that just because nobody’s seen one for decades doesn’t mean the Tassie Tiger is definitely extinct, didn’t seem to help. Apparently, you lot wanted proof, not a theory.

Well, we’re still on the hunt. So I’ll ask again: If anybody out there has owned, worked on, seen or even been run over by an EJ Holden with a factory-fitted 149 on board, please let us know. And if you think the idea of a red-powered EJ is weird, consider the most recent rumour I heard while sitting on an oil drum, drinking beer: Holden actually had an LJ Torana burp off the production line back in the day with a two doors on one side, and one door on the other. And not just a door missing; the car was actually fitted with the two short doors for a sedan one side, and the single long door for the hardtop (for want of a better word) on the other. Couldn’t happen? You’d think  so, wouldn’t you. But then, how the hell do stories like these start?

Morley’s Soapbox

Meantime, the subject of roadworthy certificates has been cropping up a lot. In Victoria, for instance, the most recent changes to the club permit scheme now mean that every post 1948 car applying for a club permit has to have been through an official roadworthy inspection. This is no small endeavour in the Garden State and can easily cost $150 or more. And that’s if the car passes.

Here’s my advice for getting the RWC tick of approval: don’t overlook silly little things like worn out pedal rubbers and a cracked indicator lens. They’re all fails when it comes to the crunch. Also, don’t turn up in a mobile rubbish heap. If the inspector has to move 500 Maccas wrappers to see whether the floor has holes in it, or has to use his or her multi-grips to remove a dead cat from the passenger’s seat, you – as the car’s owner – have just failed the attitude test. And that’s when the inspector really starts looking for other stuff.

The other piece of roadworthy folklore around when I was a kid was that you deliberately left one obvious thing wrong with the car. That gave the inspector something to fail you on and, suddenly, he looked like he was doing his job. In Victoria, that was always a windscreen with a chip in it, since any windscreen more than a couple of years old was going to fail anyway. I’m betting it it doesn’t apply these days, so don’t blame me if it doesn’t work.

Get The Vibe

Moving right along, elsewhere in this magazine, you’ll see my luvverly VN SS in the Our Shed section. Low-kays, no power windows to cock up and now with all the shot suspension bushes replaced by nice, new, purple urethane ones. The only catch is, the damn thing still has a low-frequency vibration through it under load. Now, I tested these things for magazines when they were brand new, so I’m aware of the shortcomings of the two-piece tail-shaft.

So that’s where I started looking first. But no, the uni joints are all fine and the shaft’s centre bearing is in good shape, too. The engine and gearbox mounts all check out, as well. Next will be a new set of rear shocks and maybe a four-wheel alignment. In the meantime, has anybody else had this problem and, if so, what’s the fix? And please don’t tell me there’s no fix and that ‘they all do that’. Then again, if Holden couldn’t eliminate this trait in the brand-spankers test-car it lent me in 1990, maybe I am stuck with it. But some genius out there must have cured the problem, and I want to talk to them.

In the meantime, this column is back in business and hopefully we can solve a few mysteries and answer a few workshop questions from readers. So let’s have them… Letters and postcards to uniquecars@bauertrader.com.au, please.

Kombi Kapers

What am I up to now? Inspired by the recent sale of a 23-window Kombi for a breathtaking $202,000 at Shannons, I’ve dusted off my old Splitty relic and it’s getting some love. Read more next issue.

(From Unique Cars magazine number 373, March 2015)

Ed's note: we're sitting on a backlog of Morley's Workshop columns and will be catching up over coming weeks. Guido

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