Tales from the underbelly - Mick's Workshop 467

By: Mick McCrudden

oldsmobile 2 oldsmobile 2

Sandbags for suspension setup, buying a Golf GTi and more

We’ve been playing with a sixties Chevrolet Impala recently, getting the ride height set to where the owner wants it, on the proviso we won’t do anything that causes the tyres to rub. The owner is a lovely bloke and long-term customer, so we get on well. But I had my doubts about getting the car as low as he wanted. Nevertheless we were willing to give it a go.


Along the way, we took the opportunity to make some improvements to the standard suspension set-up. This is a big car, so any help it can get is worthwhile.

Up front we’ve gone for fully adjustable coil-overs from McDonnell Brothers. They can be set for ride height, plus compression and rebound damping. They’re working with A-arms from Air Ride, all of which has allowed us to play with the geometry to get it working properly with the lower attitude. Both companies helped out a lot, as did Don from Suspension City who has been working with us on new rear coils and an adjustable Panhard rod.


Now there was a fair bit of fiddling to get the car sitting the way the owner wanted it and, despite my reservations we’ve managed to get it so nothing Is rubbing. There is a little more tweaking to go from the way you see it here.

The catch with this sort of work is you really want to be able to set up the car temporarily before making big changes. So when the owner was coming over for a chat, I asked him to swing by his local nursery and grab four big bags of sand.


Eh? Well, we wanted to weigh down the boot to check exactly what he wanted. That still wasn’t quite enough, so we tossed in a couple of old iron V8 heads as well, which got it spot on! Sometimes the old methods still work.

Meanwhile progress continues on Ed Guido’s VK Commodore wagon. The headers for the 355 stroker V8 have been sent across to Andrew at Competition Coatings, and we’ll bring you a little insight on that process in the near future.


That engine is being matched to a four-speed TH700 auto.

We’re getting close to the point where we’ll be dropping in the engine – watch this space!

Here's my tip

Winter Blues


It’s winter, which means the weather has turned foul in the south of the country, and that means cars can get locked up for months. Try to avoid that. Put aside an afternoon where you do nothing but haul cars out of the shed and take them for a run. About 10km will be enough do the trick. It’s a whole lot better for them than just starting them in the shed.


Get a Golf


Hi Mick. I’m in the market for a first-model VW Golf GTi and was just wondering about a couple of things. First, do you reckon it’s worth chasing and spending a bit of money on? Second, what should I be looking for?

Sharon Benson

IF ANY car ever screamed good times, it was a Golf GTi. They’re great fun to drive and really involving. If you look at Volkswagen’s history on the series (would you believe they were launched as long ago as 1975?!) they reckon the initial plan was to build just 5000 of them, to recoup the development cost.

Of course the market had different ideas and the series became a top-seller for the company.

As for the first model, they’re definitely a modern classic and worth preserving. You should however do some rough numbers on any car that requires work, as it’s often cheaper to buy a car that’s already been restored.

And believe me, with rare exceptions, any example that’s survived this long will have had at least one rebuild by now as they get used enthusiastically and get worn out.

The good news is they’re a very easy car to work on. There are no tricks to them and, perhaps with the exception of some trim, parts support is pretty good. They’re popular internationally, which means there is a good aftermarket support network for them. Good luck with the search!


Fuelling future


Hi Mick, thanks for the mention of Wilsons Carburettor Service in your recent article. Like you, we have a problem keeping up with the workload!

A lot of our work is shipped in from interstate, or wherever. We have the advantage of running all of our carburettors on a test engine, which makes this process easier for the owner, believe it or not.

We are training new staff and have had to get our heads around that, as this hasn't been done in decades.

Tony Whelan
B&M Wilson Carburettor Service

TONY'S CREW is one of the very few surviving specialists in the country. It was an industry that was fading away, until the current trend for restoring old cars really got underway. So the surviving businesses have found themselves busy again!

There has long been a real concern that some of these trades would literally die out as the owners retired, so it’s good news that Tony and crew are bringing along some fresh blood.

Bimmer love


Hi Editors. I have been wanting to share my car with you for a while. I bought this 2000 BMW Z3 back in 2019, a few years out of school, and the moment I saw it I knew it was something special. We bought it sight unseen and flew to Melbourne the next day to collect.

The car currently sits on a low 126,500kms and has only been used for weekends and perfect weather. It has been my goal and passion to ensure the car is preserved and only improved by replacing items with OEM parts and keep it 100 per cent original. This is the very rare 3.0lt version with the red and black Imola interior.

Since I bought it we have had the factory BBS wheels fully restored, new rear window and the original soft top reconditioned. I have replaced some tired plastic plugs and bits on the interior with factory bits to ensure its condition.

Heaps of other small bits done and it remains mechanically A1.

Oskar Raue

NICE CHOICE of car, Oskar. They are a great drive and I love that straight six 3.0lt engine, which saw service in several models.

The Important thing with that powerplant however is to be sure it’s serviced by someone who knows what they are doing. The right lubricants and servicing are absolutely critical, or they can fail. This is one of those rare occasions where I’d say take it only to a BMW specialist. Or, if you’re servicing it at home, make sure you do your research before laying a spanner on it. And yes, we’ll chase you up for a story.


Trivial Pursuit

Merry Olds


One of the more colourful motoring pioneers was Ransom Eli Olds, of Oldsmobile fame. He founded his company in 1897 and sold it in 1899, but stayed on as Managing Director. His Lansing factory burned down in 1901, taking with it prototypes of steam and electric-powered cars. The sole survivor was a gasoline- powered Curved Dash Prototype, for which there were 300 orders on the books. That car really established the company and became the subject of the popular song In My Merry Oldsmobile.


WANT SOME ADVICE on a build or a potential car purchase? Heck we’ll even tackle long distance diagnosis. Drop MIck a line at uniquecars@primecreative.com.au


From Unique Cars #467, Jun/Jul 2022




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