SOMETIMES things don’t go according to plan, but it works out better that way in the end.
Dave Lowther’s 1981 Holden ute is good example. Bought to supply spare parts to one of his other utes, it ended up taking donations of spare parts from Dave’s collection at Batlow, and now he gets around in it all the time.
“I bought it off a bloke about six years ago,” he recalled.
“It was a wreck. I bought it for parts for my HJ Sandman ute, but then I thought I’d have a go at getting it going.”
It wasn’t easy. “There was a lot of work in it,” he said.
“I had to do substantial rust repairs and general mechanical work to get it up to the stage where I could get it registered.
I used a lot of panels I had in the shed and ended up piecing it together with those.
In the end it was a matter of sorting out little stuff, like electrical stuff.
It took about 12 months all up. Once I sorted the bugs out it ended up being not a bad vehicle.”
The ute came with a 253 V8 engine, with an Aussie four-speed manual gearbox. Dave put in bucket seats from a UC Holden Torana, the final Torana model built, and a neat aluminium radiator.
He swapped the 14-inch wheels for 15-inch wheels from a Chevy Impala, and matched these with a set of Firehawk Indy 500 tyres.
“These wheels and the high-profile tyres made it ride a lot better on the road,” Dave said.
He had problems with the clutch, so he replaced it, and also put in a Rochester carburettor and gas mixer for the LPG fuel it runs on.
“The steering’s pretty good and it’s good to drive, although I am used to driving this type of vehicle,” he said. The tray in the back makes it practical as well.
“I carry a few loads of stuff,” he said. One of the more obvious modifications Dave has made is the colour, but this also didn’t go totally to plan. “It’s a Honda colour, called Ferraro Lavender,” he said. “I saw it and thought, ‘that’s unusual, a bit different.’
It didn’t come out as purple as I thought it would.”
Dave said the ute was fairly economical. “I can do 100km on a little bit less than $20, which is not bad for a vehicle this age, and a V8,” he said.