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Camira vs Maverick Fight for Gay Car Supremacy 
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Car(s): 1965 Wasp, 1966 Bellett sedan, 1966 RatBellett sedan, 1967 Bellett GT, 1978 Gemini van, 1994 LS400, 2004 VY SS Sandman
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When I was a kid, you were either Ford or Holden. Everyone was. Even girls. The girl up the street; her Dad had an XC Falcon 500. She was Ford. My Dad had a VB Commodore. I was Holden. Holdens were Australian. Fords, in my eyes, were the evil American overlords trying to undermine the little Aussie battler in Holden.

Of course, what I didn't know then was that their cars were as international as each other; Ford's earlier Falcons were adapted US designs up to the XA Falcon, while the VB Commodore was a modified Opel design. Different cars, different eras, but when stripped back to their undies they were products that filtered down from their multinational parents.

Neither was a bad car; locally built Fords and Holdens had plenty of build issues on and off over the years, but the locals were deep in the era of "Monday and Friday" cars, whereby someone fitting the braking system at 4:59pm on a Friday arvo would be just as likely to mount the brakes with zip ties if it meant getting to beer o'clock at 5:01 exactly. The Australian way. Work like buggery until knock off time, then let it all hang out.

Overall, these cars were fairly reliable, dependable and they all have a respected and justified place in the local automotive landscape. There were a few blips on the radar though.

The original Ford Falcon was built in Australia from an almost unmodified US design that dropped ball joints at the first sight of a pebble on an Australian road, while the HD Holden had pedestrian slicing fenders that were criticised as dangerous even back in 1965 when nobody wore seat belts, drank 15 schooners before driving the kids home around a dirt road on the edge of a cliff and smoked solid tar.

But still, these cars are now fondly remembered as classics and rightly so.

I spent 17 years imparting the following piece of essential wisdom on anyone with ears; Holdens rule and Fords are gay*. Then one day when I was about 20, I had an epiphany. I was wrong.

I mean, how can I seriously, with a straight face tell someone that a Holden Apollo or a Holden Nova is NOT gay? Solid, reliable cars both of them, but only because they were designed by Toyota, built by Toyota and were, in fact, Toyotas. As part of the Button Plan, manufacturers were paring down their locally built models and it made business sense for Holden to sell the Camry and the Corolla with only minor details differences rather than import or build their own small cars. Uh sorry one-eyed Holden fans, but I can't seriously exclaim that Holdens rule when there was a pair of whitegoods Toyotas with the Holden badge affixed.

And the Apollo's predecessor, the Holden Camira wasn't much chop either. Despite winning Wheels Magazine Car of the Year with the original local version of the General Motors J-car, the first JB-model Camira was criticised for being poorly made, noisy, slow and just generally crap. By the third and final JE-mode, the Camira was fairly well built, came with a 5-speed across the range and had a ball-tearing 2.0 EFI motor. But it was still front wheel drive and looked like a Chinese man at the front. I can't pretend it's not gay.

In fact, due to necessary economies of scale, Holden has built, assembled, rebadged or imported multiple models that no one-eyed Holden fan could seriously consider. Examples include the Holden Scurry (Suzuki Carry van), Holden Astra (earlier as a Nissan Pulsar and later an Opel Astra), the Barina (Suzuki Swift, Opel Corsa or Daewoo Kalos - take your pick) and any number of Korean-sourced small and medium-sized cars in the last few years. Gay.

But the one-eyed Ford man can't be ignored either. Locally, Ford gave us the mighty Falcon GTHO in Phase I, II and III form, the last of the 351ci V8s in the Ford Fairmont ESP, the Mark 1 Cortina GT and GT500 and a bunch of other awesome machines.

Can I label them as gay? No, I can't. Have I turned Blue? No, I haven't.

Because Ford aren't guilt-free in the gay car stakes either. The Ford Telstar was a re-badged Mazda 626 and at least looked measurably different to the Mazda, however it was no inspiration in design or styling. Notably though, the Ford Corsair that ran from 1989 to 1992 was a re-badged Nissan Pintara and while it too quite different to its Japanese-Australian counterpart, the Aussie-built Pintara was not a car to rejoice in and essentially ended Nissan's local production due to dated styling and poor build quality.

The local Ford Maverick turned out to be popular, but this also is pretty gay. This rebadged Nissan Patrol sold exceptionally well for a badge-engineered vehicle, especially when even the grille was identical to that of the Patrol. It seems impossible that a one-eyed Ford fan would seriously buy a car that was clearly a Nissan, but plenty of them did. Theoretically they were either drunk enough not to notice that the Mavericks were Nissan Patrols, or that their local Ford dealer, who they'd known since they were six was doing them some tidy deals.

Further to this, until the laws of attrition made the feeble, base model Escorts and Cortinas desirable from a classic standpoint, they were underdone for local requirements and no match for the Torana or the mighty Isuzu-developed Gemini that was being built at Acacia Ridge plant in Queensland, known at the time for having the best quality of any Holden plant in the nation, plus a SOHC 1.6 across the range rather than the boat-anchor Ford Kent 1300cc OHV motor.

So after my epiphany I could no longer be so clinical and one-eyed. Not all Holdens rule, not all Fords are gay and one day I worked out that sometimes it was even the other way around.

And sometimes it wasn't.

And despite my newfound maturity, I still haven't bought a Ford.

Cheers,

Dave


* see previous post for disclaimer on things that are gay

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Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:13 pm
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thats ok u not buying a ford dave, coz thats why we have holdens............
to keep nut jobs from driving fords!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

after all, the car that was 'all australian' has been viewed for years and bloody years as being the first holden.........
HA! i say. a look thru the rejected designs of the 1946 chev show otherwise!
and the classic holden 'red' motor being 'australia's'.................... apart from being in english vauxhall's for 10 years before we ever saw it has been omitted from history too! :lol:

anyone guess what was the first TRUE aussie car?? (they were some early 'specials' built using components from various sources, but i'm talking production car, that the pubilc could readily buy, that was a wholely new design)

hey, u forgot a few of the badged engineered beautys too........................
the nissan ute, aka an xf falcon ute with a glued on nissan badge, and all class!
the toyota lexcen, aka a vn commodore. named after the brilliant 'australia II' yacht designer ben lexcen, who would have turned in his grave if he'd seen what an abomination they'd put his name too...........
the holden drover, aka suzuki sierra 4x4. now they werent bad. u could flog them to death, and it'd still get u home!
the ford laser, aka mazda 323. probably the most successful badge engineered one of all. ford sold heaps more lasers than mazda sold 323's!
the ford econovan, aka mazda 'something' (can't remember the name). best part was the ad on tv. they used with mark mitchell as 'con the fruitier'!
the ford courier ute, aka mazda b2600 ute.
actually, ford and mazda still do the same now...... that's why the mazda bt50 and the ford ranger look exact-loctly alike.

lets's see how many more indecti-car's we can list, coz i'm damn sure i have missed some!
post your additions below please!

u do know that the camira was also badged as an isuzu too, as the 'aska'...................
the old camira joke stood tall for years too.........
q: "how do u know if a camira has been fixed"
a: "coz it's not blowing smoke............."

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Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:03 pm
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after all, the car that was 'all australian' has been viewed for years and bloody years as being the first holden.........
HA! i say. a look thru the rejected designs of the 1946 chev show otherwise!


I own a 1936/7 chev coupe utility holden badged/plated build number 644


Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:23 pm
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What about the Valiant Galant (Mitsubishi Colt Galant),and the early Sigma was badged Valiant, also the Honda Civic badged as Rover.
and new players Holden Craptiva (Daewoo) :lol:


Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:32 pm
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gt orphanage wrote:
after all, the car that was 'all australian' has been viewed for years and bloody years as being the first holden.........
HA! i say. a look thru the rejected designs of the 1946 chev show otherwise!

I own a 1936/7 chev coupe utility holden badged/plated build number 644


is that a "holden motor bodies" built car gt orphan?
rare car these days!

forgot about the sTigma! easily done tho.......
was the honda/rover marriage a civic? i thought it was a honda accord.
but who would take any notice of it/them anyway!

and the original daewoo.......................... yeah well............................
an opel kadette of 10 years earlier, with that damn camira engine back to haunt us again!
i well remember being on holidays on the gold coast with the girlfriend, now wife, and having one of those things as a renter. i made sure i tested the engine for them, just to make sure all the camira 'gremilns' had been exterminated........ poor little car would never have been the same again......... :lol: :lol:

and then of course, we forget 1 that we should have seen first, us being isuzu-heads.
isuzu kb20 = chev luv!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:oops: :oops:

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Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:42 pm
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i am told the bodies were built in melbourne front panels and other parts were shipped from usa.The copliance plate i supose you would call it today sits on the lhs under the bonnet on the outerside of the kick panel.


Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:54 pm
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thanks gt orphan!
i knew holden's made bodies for imported chassis like chevs and other GM stuff, as well as some ford's (!!) in the days before they went into building whole cars, but i couldn't remember if it was done in melbourne or adelaide.
cheers!

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Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:00 pm
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i will let you know for sure i did some research on the net a while ago i am prety sure it was vic there was a photo of them as body shells standing on their nose around fifty of them.
btw unfortunatly ours is a garden ornament we took some cars to a scrap metal dealer and swaped it for a car we took down it has a tree growing in the back looks cool and gets a few comments.


Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:20 pm
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Car(s): 1980 117 Coupe Giugario Edition, 1993 Subaru SVX, 1997 Honda Legend, 1998 Mazda Roadster, 2001 Toyota Will VS
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Here in New Zealand, after poor sales of the Camira JB, we got the Camira JJ, which was a rebadged Isuzu Aska. It was a much better car but the damage had already been done. My current daily driver is one of these, all the Holden badges have been removed to reveal the Isuzu badges underneath. :D


Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:09 am
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Well Dave, my vote is for the Camira as the lemonest 'gay' car (sorry, still hard to get used to 'gay' in this context!). At least the Maverick was basically a solid Nissan underneath. The Ford move to sell rebadged Mazdas lifted their average brand quality, I reckon. Mazda were subject to quota restrictions, hence the outselling by the ford equivalents, but that was a good thing, 'cause it left the better screwed together Mazdas available to people like us. (Lasers, Meteors & Telstars came in in C.K.D. kits & were knocked together by Hastings Deering.)
So what of the first 'all Ausie' car? If the 215 was a Chev, the Falcon was a falcon, & the Valiant was a Plymouth, then perhaps this was the first 'true blue'..............
(Hmm, can't put pic into draft, see next post) :ugeek: not.

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:14 am
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D'oh, no pics in this thread, I get it.
Is the first all aus car the Lightburn Zeta?
In Adelaide between1963 & 1965, a cement mixer company made 343 of these 2-door wagons. The omission of a tailgate meant the seats had to be removed to load any cargo (oversight). It was fitted with a Villiers 2 stroke twin that had to be stopped & run backwards to go in reverse.
Aussie ingenuity!! Pretty crap, but it WAS original design. (There's one in the Birdwood museum).
We are a small population, and economies of scale will probably dictate that our manufacturing efforts will always be tart-ups of other countries' cars, but that's probably better than driving around in Zetas.
To be fair, every maker has probably had a crap model - EA Falcon (crap!), 1986 HDT Director with 'Energy Polariser' which aligned molecules to make a basic V8 commondore with tacked on fibreglass into a super performer (not)- rubbish! Even Toyota - circa '78 Coronas with the 'starfire 4' chopped down red motor (ex Sunbird) - gag reflex!!
Actually, Camiras don't seem so bad now!
Cheers, friends, Matt.

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:09 pm
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There was a Zeta (Villiers ,twin cylinder ,air cooled 2 stroke) motor and diff. on EBay last week - made 400 and something dollars.
KB

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:44 pm
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What about the LLoyd Hartnett an all Australian car built by Holden I think, a car designed by Holden executive


Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:40 am
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Oh, Yes, who could forget this icon of Australian motoring history? (or is that 'blip'?)
Englishman Lawrence Hartnett, ex-C.E.O. of G.M.H. after a falling out decided to show 'em. He bought a french design in 1848 and set to work. About 70 examples of the 2 door, 600cc air cooled flat twin, front drive sedans between 1951 & 1955. (One lived in St. Marys when I was a kid - I remember 'cause I saw it get into a minor accident!) They went broke in 1956.
Definately an Australian-ish Car.
Any others?
Cheers, Matt.

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Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:42 am
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Oooo...Aussie car history, fun!

Firstly, Holden bodies were made in Adelaide until the Port Melbourne plant popped up in 1946, AFAIK. Look up Sir Laurence Hartnett's book 'Big Wheels Little Wheels'. Local bodies on US chassis and scuttle, until unitary bodies came along, then we made the lot. A triumph in low volume engineering. The last part of the original 1930's Woodville plant was knocked down (without any fanfare whatsoever :cry: ) last year to make way for a new Bunnings.

I'd give my eye teeth for a Hartnett (not a Lloyd-Hartnett...already had one of them), having placed wanted ads for decades, the best I've managed to turn up is a brochure, a lubrication chart and a few stories from old timers. They were a revolution in car design, but a nightmare to manufacture, so justifiably died before their time (the last remnants of Gregoire's design being the final Panhard passenger car of 1967).

I'm not ashamed to admit I love Zeta's too (*evades flying beer can*), haven't owned one...yet.

Now, the most shocking admission...my 1300cc Ford Escort panel van dumped on my TE Gemini from a great height, and I'd buy one over a Gemini any day. Unfortunately, I found my Gem to be unreliable, clunky, slow and pedestrian to drive, whereas (even in 1300cc form) the Eccy was a blast...plus the chick loved it. Unfortunately, so did the local scumbags, who stole it and blew the clutch. Bye bye Eccy.

I'm forced to drive a Hundy wagon daily, but purchased a new Ford Fiesta a couple years back (for da missus), and it is light years above GM's Korean equivalent. Can be great fun to drive too!

So, whilst I'm happy to remain aloof from the GM v Ford thing, I have to be the worm in the apple and admit that GM (whilst Ford isn't prefect by a long stretch) rarely gets it right. But that's coming from Fiat owner. :mrgreen:

My apologies Dave...I hope this doesn't destroy our cyber-friendship?

Cheers,
Duane

PS: Anyone mentioned Holden's badge engineered BR Gemini and Piazza? Yay Isuzu...lets not mention the Camira again.


Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:15 pm
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Yeah Duane, I also like the rare weird stuff, even if they were crappy when new - at least they're different. I find myself with a camera full of oddities after any car day, but not too many torana/mustang pics.
There was an other Hartnett than the Lloyd? Can you post a pic?
I remember going to the Sydney motor show one year & seeing the Gvang steam car. There was much excitement. Where is it now? Probably a conspiracy thoery about that! (Like the sea-water car).
Escort beats Gemini?? Bizzaro world!! Still, I've owned neither, so can't say. Might have been better if the Gem was a van.
BTW, don't mean to offend anyone - hopefully there's someone loves each type of car (no doubt). I've even had people ask "but why?" about Bellett's!! But that's easy to answer!
Cheers, Matt.

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Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:18 am
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Hi Matt,

Here's a pic of Sir Larry's first effort post-GMH, the Hartnett Pacific Tourer. Sitting in it, Miss Australia 1950 no less...they don't make 'em like they used to.

Image

This car was released as part of range, including the Tasman sedan and, later, wagon and van (used by NSW PGO) models. Laurence Hartnett, having left GMH over disagreements ranging from styling, to size and price of the upcoming Holden sedan, hit the ground in Europe trying to find a small family sedan he thought would suit the Australian market. Amongst those canvased were VW and Renault. However, he settled on Frenchman Jean Albert Gregoire's AFG (Aluminium Francais Gregoire) prototype, which had previously failed in UK under the banner of Kendall (an attractive name for a car).

The 2-cylinder 600cc flat-twin AFG featured extensive use of lightweight aluminium, including a revolutionary cast aluminium 'carcas' (or bulkhead), which Gregoire had been unsuccessfully peddling to the French automakers post-war, prior to Kendall's involvement. Larry bought the leftover parts and prodution jigs from Kendall, and got an AFG prototype thrown in gratis.

Back here, Hartnett arranged a grant from the Victorian goverment and set up a small assembly venture in Port Melbourne. To keep overheads and factory space to a minimum, he employed Commonwealth Engineering (Commeng to train buffs) to manufacture the bodies to fit the cast aluminium carcasses. However, this proved near impossible to achieve, due to the vast tolerances required as a result of the casting process. Commeng couldn't meet their delivery targets, and with 120 chassis' sitting bodiless, Hartnett decided to use a few local suppliers to hand fab bodies whilst he took Commeng to court. The Victorian Government withdrew their grant, 5 years went past, Hartnett won the case, but the project was sunk. He moved on to sucessfully market German Lloyd cars in Australia (as the Queensland assembled Lloyd-Hartnett) before parent company Borgward went toes up in 1961.

Luck changed for Hartnett that year, when he decided to import the first Datsun Bluebird's from Japan, thus becoming the father of Nissan Australia (who he handed the reins to in 1971). He passed away in 1986...I had a letter ready to send to him, but never made it in time. JA Gregoire was eventually successful in obtaining royalties from Panhard, who manufacturerd a very similar car to the AFG (the Panhard Dyna), increasing in complexity until Citroen purchased and wound the firm up in 1967 (although they still make military vehicles). He had a successful career as an engineering consultant (know to many as the father of front-wheel drive) and passed away in 1992. Commeng still exist.

There are a handful of Hartnett's around, the most famous (beside the actual AFG prototype at Birdwood Mill) being this li'l beastie, which has appeared at a few B2B's and many other classic motoring shows. With no service or parts back-up, most (sadly) would have gone to the tip years ago.

Image

I don't know why, but I've always wanted one.

Sick.

Cheers,
Duane


Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:38 am
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