Tweaks for classic cars - What Do You Reckon 445

By: Glenn Torrens

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A sore back has Glenn Torrens thinking about worthwhile tweaks for classic cars

Writing about adding some equipment to my Pajero – plus getting the air-con in my 1979 Commodore wagon and the Pajero running icy-cold again recently – reminded me of the fact that no matter how much fun older cars are, they can often be made better with a few tricks and tweaks.

Years ago, I bought a 1980s Nissan Pathfinder that I saw advertised for a staggeringly low $1500. The reason it was so cheap (the value of a tidy Pathy at the time was around $5000) was the fact its gearbox was broken. With money to be spent, its owner decided it was a good time to update to a Patrol, not fix the Pathy, so was selling it cheap.

Tempted by the price – and the chance to do some more weekend camping – I decided to buy and repair the Pathy. Before the two-hour trek to inspect it, I phoned a 4WD wreckers/workshop for a price for fitting a second-hand gearbox. The Pathy was bloody beaut – apart from the gearbox, of course – so I bought it. A phone call to my tow-truck driver mate Simbad and the Pathy was safely delivered to the 4WD workshop.

A few days later, I paid the $1000 bill and happily drove it home. With around $2500 into my new toy, I was looking forward to soulful weekends exploring the Aussie bush and relaxing around campfires cooking steaks and drinking icy-cold beers with mates.

But my happiness soon faded: every time I drove the Pathfinder, my back would ache. Something as mundane as a quick trip to the shops gave me painful cold spasms like nothing I’d ever felt before. I’d never knowingly injured my back playing sport, racing cars or whatever, and it was only the Pathfinder that made my back twinge. So, I guessed my discomfort was due to the Pathfinder’s seat and driving position: it had crap thin foam-padded wire-sprung vinyl seats typical of many 1980s light-duty commercial vehicles.

A bloke I knew, Vic, had a Recaro seat in his Land Cruiser and he swore by its comfort and support. Meanwhile, I swore at my Pathy every time I drove it. To be honest, I’d always thought aftermarket seats were a bit of a wank but a test-sit and a chat with Vic convinced me a good seat might cure my back-ache. So, when another bloke I know, Jace, offered-up a pair of old Recaros from his beach buggy for a mates-rates price, I grabbed them.

Sorry to sound like a walking, talking spokesperson for a well-regarded German brand of orthopaedically designed automotive seat, but installing one of Jace’s old seats in my Pathfinder absolutely transformed my ‘connection’ and comfort with it in a way I never thought possible. As well as for bush treks and camping, I’d intended to use my Pathy as a cheap suburban run-about (instead of my other car, a nice shiny Senator) so instead of avoiding the Pathy, I now loved driving it.

That seat - that I own to this day – is just about the best accessory/upgrade I’ve added to any vehicle I have ever owned.


From Unique Cars #445, Oct 2020

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