America vs Korea for the title of best muscle car? The Kia Stinger GT S not only trounces the Mustang GT, it demolishes the Audi S4, BMW 340i and the Merc AMG C43. Britain’s most nostalgic metal vs Cologne’s American three cylinder rocket? Top Gear says “pound for pound (the British currency, not the British weight), the Ford Fiesta ST3 is the most fun, best all-round hot hatch on sale”. The Mini Cooper S rates 30 per cent lower than the Ford. And in the reasonably priced sports cars competition it’s no surprise to readers of this column that any Porker 911 takes gold. Naturally the lads recommend the 370kW GT3 Touring. Yours for a lazy $330k plus a few drive-away charges. Silver goes to Woking’s own McLaren 3.8T 420kW 570S. You should drive away my second favourite as well for somewhere over $500k.
Talking of luxury sportscars, reader Peter Bateman writes: “I do feel obliged to inform you of a more neurotically dangerous beast at 48km/h than a Porker at warp speed. And one which turns 70 this year. Not the Land Rover nor the 48/215 but the Morris J-type van. Forget about getting adrenaline flowing going hither and thither around Marulan, try a J van at 32km/h in traffic and your knuckles will be blanched.”
Now many readers, like Peter, believe I spend my life driving Porkers, Beemers and McLarens in exotic climes with free plastic glasses of Coopers and Dom Perignon Vintage 2009, Tokujin Yoshioka Limited Edition sitting in the cup holders. While this is true, I also had a period of youth (wonderfully misspent) that included a heap of friends who made the 21 lads in Lord of the Flies look like the lead singers in the Vienna Boys Choir (can I just put in a gratuitous plug here for the upcoming Sydney Theatre Company production of LOTF with lassies as well as lads playing the lads?) leading the hedonistic lifestyle of surfers at the time, who of course were working to a more equitable gender structure but acknowledged the surfing aesthetic involved a postmodern incarnation of the sublime that distorts rational risk assessment. That means we peroxided our hair blonde, owned balsa wood surfboards with no leg ropes and drove up and down the beaches searching for the perfect wave and other more sensual objects in a wonderfully restored Tip Top Morris J Van.
I know many younger (younger than 70) readers who have no recollection of the bread being delivered to your home by a driver in the Tip Top Morris J Van. Friends, you missed a lot. This was the same era when the post person delivered letters twice a day, and spent the week leading up to Christmas Day buoyed by a few hundred glasses of what passed for beer in those times, staggering up the street trying to remember what envelopes to put in what letter boxes.
Anyway, the point of all this is to alert you to Pete’s exhibition of J vans at Motorclassica in Melbourne from next Thursday and the following weekend, outside the Bendigo Town Hall, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the van’s debut at the 1948 Earls Court Commercial Vehicle show. If I was in Australia rather than driving a very exotic old German masterpiece around Europe with cup holders full of Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Marzen (the 2018 Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale of Deutschland), Reichsrat von Buhl, Von Buhl Reserve Sekt, Pfalz NV and a belly full of pork knuckle, I would be there to see 200 cars, motorcycles and former F1 champion Alan Jones talking, standing with you for selfies and signing autographs.
Good to see a new partner in our crusade for car owners’ rights. Canberra lawyer Ross Reid has a client insured with AAMI. AAMI and owner Suncorp have recently starred in Kenny Hayne’s royal commission. Talking of Kenny, most of you wouldn’t know KH is super on the tools. Last week he spoke very knowledgeably about sparkies, concreters, framers and drainers. Anyway, the insurer recently approved a rebuild of a damaged one-year old Prado involving the replacement of the whole bodywork on to a new chassis frame. Toyota Australia confirmed that unless the repairs are carried out by a Toyota Australia approved repairer, any subsequent claim under the new car warranty will be doubtful to say the least, but will definitely be refused if the claim involves parts or repair activity affected by the repairs. Of course, the AAMI repairer is not Toyota-approved and it turns out there are no Toyota-approved repairers in the ACT.
As Ross says: “Ramifications for new car owners who make insurance claims and don’t check their warranty conditions could be disastrous.” Not to mention the loss in the Prado’s value with body/chassis numbers not matching. Of course, we’ll chase this up.
Talking of rock stars, many of you also don’t know that ACCC boss and motorists’ friend Rocket Rod Sims grew up in a multi-dealership family, Sims Motors in Lorne. No wonder Rod is on to the caper carried out on our readers in Hondas and Mazdas where, to quote Rod: “Even where a new car has a known mechanical issue, consumers did not receive the ACL remedies they were entitled to … This can involve a consumer bringing their new car in to be repaired repeatedly, instead of being offered a replacement or refund.”
The only carmakers who you can trust to comply with consumer guarantees (thanks to Rod and enforceable undertakings) are Holden, VW and Hyundai. You’re on your own with the rest.