Lancer Love - What Do You Reckon 442

By: Glenn Torrens

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mitsubishi lancer gsr mitsubishi lancer gsr

Glenn Torrens shares a good-luck tale about his first car

My P-plate car was a 1974 Lancer two-door sedan. Between its Chrysler badges it was all-Mitsubishi (fully imported from Japan – if that matters now!) and like most peoples’ first cars over the years it was more than a decade old. Think BF Falcon, VZ Commodore or a mid-noughties Lancer now - the good ones are worth a few weeks’ wages and the bad ones are worth just about nothing.

And that, folks, was how much I paid for my Lancer: nothing! Of course, after telling you that, you know there’s bit of a story…

One of my best mates, Davo, had a Lancer that his grand-pop Maxxy sold him cheap as a P-plate machine. It was soon tricked and tweaked with a sporty SAAS driver’s seat, Kenwood stereo in a custom centre console, a set of those oh-so-80s square-styled 14-inch Sigma Scorpion wheels to replace the skinny steel 13s and a two-inch exhaust. With weekends and women on our minds, Winnie blues on the dash and The Angels and Midnight Oil on the Kenwood, we cruised everywhere. I thought I’d eventually get a Torana as a first car (when a good LC/LJ cost $500) but Davo’s little Lancer was awesome, so when I spied another Lancer in a local front yard, arse against a paling fence with grass to the sills and no number plates, it was love at first sight.

After riding my Malvern Star Dragstar past a few times to nonchalantly peer at the Lancer, I decided I had nothing to lose by knocking on the door and asking. I opened the flyscreen and tapped on the timber. The door swung open to reveal a bloke in a blue singlet and Stubbies. Meekly, I asked that I was ahhh… wondering… ummm… what was happening to that car parked in the front yard…?

Without much more than a scratch of his chin, the bloke said "Mate, if you can get it running, you can have it!" My brain instantly turned to mush. The bloke gave me a quick tour of the car and told me that although it had a damaged bearing in the motor, it still drove: It needs a battery and here’s the keys.

I pedalled home as fast as I could to collect my little tool kit, borrow Mum’s Holden battery and steal Dad’s lawn mower fuel. I used my billy-cart to transport everything the 10-minute fast-paced walk back to the forlorn Lancer.

With Mum’s battery in place and a splash of Dad’s lawn-mower juice in the carby the Lancer fired almost straight away. Flushed with the optimism of youth – and therefore deciding everything would be no-worries and, no, there wouldn’t be any police around to catch an unaccompanied L-plater in an unregistered old shitbox with half-deflated, half-bald tyres terrorising suburbia - off I went in the mighty Lancer.

But I didn’t go straight home. Ignoring the doink doink noise from the Lancer’s suffering 1400cc motor, I made a pit stop at Davo’s place, a few blocks the wrong way, to share with him my prize… and to have his dad reveal to me that there was no water in the radiator and stuff-all oil in the sump. Topped-up and with darkness descending, I drove the Lancer home, hiding it in the backyard where Dad shook his head in disbelief and where Mum didn’t notice anything until she hung out the washing a few days later.

I spent after-school afternoons that winter patching the rust, swung in a $150 second-hand 1600cc motor bought from a schoolmate’s dad and, just before summer, had it registered.


From Unique Cars #442, July 2020

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