Chasing bits is the most fun – what do you reckon #5 399

By: Glenn Torrens, Unique Cars magazine

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Glenn Torrens reckons chasing parts is as much – or more - fun that driving the car

Chasing bits is the most fun – what do you reckon #5 399
It's only a few parts away from 100mph...

I haven’t mentioned it much in Unique Cars but I own a VB Holden Commodore. I particularly like Commodores; over the past 20 years I’ve owned a VP Holden Calais, a VT HSV Senator, a VT Berlina and have recently bought a time-warp VN Calais V8 as a Sunday cruiser. Plus, I’ve been lucky enough to have driven dozens more in WHEELS and Motor magazine comparisons over the last 20 years.

Anyhow, my VB – the first early Commodore I’ve owned - needs a bit of work. I bought it from a carport where it sat for most of the past 20 years and although the 5-litre V8 purrs like a kitten, the body and trim need a comprehensive restoration. I might be able to save the velour seats by giving them a sympathetic scrub, but after many Aussie summers, the door trims and dashboard look like smashed Sao biscuits. There is some rust in the body and there are other bits and pieces missing, too.

So I’m busy with the sometimes frustrating, sometimes heart-breaking task of collecting all the parts I need for its restoration. Luckily for me, there’s a great Holden wrecking yard near where I live: Classic Oz Wreck. The owner, Greg, has been helping keep old Holdens alive for years and being 15 minutes’ drive away is quite handy. Unlike the fast-food type ‘parts reallocation retail facilities’ these days where you buy parts over the counter, Greg’s is a traditional yard where he’ll let you wander in with a handful of tools and disassemble what you need with little risk of getting the wrong part.

The last couple of times I’ve been there, I’ve collected sun visors and good-condition window-edge trims – the ones on my car now are dented and damaged – and Greg had a great correct-colour dashboard and instrument binnacle hanging up in his warehouse. Sold! 

I’m also keeping an eye on some early Commodore Facebook pages and eBay looking for all the bits ‘n bobs I need – everything from the correct turbine-style alloy wheels to an interior light lens. Plus, I’ve spread the word among a few Commodore-loving mates, too, that I’m on the hunt. Like generations of car restorers over the decades, I’ve embarked on The Great Parts Chase!

And you know what? Despite the expense ($40 or $50 bucks every now and then doesn’t seem like much money, until you add it all up!) I’m enjoying it. Really enjoying it. Like most car enthusiasts, I have a clear picture in my head of how the finished car will look (it’s a restoration to factory specs) but in the past few weeks - despite the fact it’s summer, 36 degrees most days and humid like a sauna - I’ve found myself almost pining for an hour or two scratching around in Greg’s yard… even more than the beer I have when I arrive home with my ‘new’ parts. And in my office, I’m checking for parts on-line even before I’ve opened my emails... am I becoming an addict?

Is chasing the parts and building the car be more fun than enjoying the drive when it’s finished? What do you reckon?

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