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Archive for October, 2013

Tail’s Still Wagon.

It’s pretty much accepted that Australian ingenuity created the “ute”; what’s forgotten is the country’s love affair with the humble station wagon. It’s also overlooked at how many are still available.

First and foremost is the Holden Commodore Sportwagon. The Commodore has had a wagon for every model since the range was released wayyyyy back in 1978. With the release a couple of months ago of the VF, Holden took the somewhat unusual step of releasing all models at once, whereas previously the wagon was shown later. Unfortunately, there wasn’t funds to redevelop the wagon and ute rear.2013_holden_vf_calais_v_sportswagon_02-0219

Ford had a wagon version of the Falcon pretty much from the start; the Territory effectively killed that much to many fleet buyers annoyance whilst Toyota canned their Camry wagon when they released the Aurion whilst Mitsubishi never released a wagon version of the 380, the car that superseded the Magna. 2013 corolla wagonBUT, Ford has the Mondeo wagon, Toyota may yet re-release a Corolla wagon for Australia (shown overseas) and Mitsubishi had a Lancer wagon until 2007. Other brands have wagons too with various names such as Tourer, Estate or Shooting Brake, with BMW, Audi, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Mazda, Hyundai, Volvo, Volkswagen, Skoda and even Jaguar with their XF Sportbrake.

Jaguar-XF-Sportbrake-3Subaru-Outback-3

 

Skoda Superb wagonThere’s always been benefits of having a non-SUV load carrier, with the extra space for day to day tasks such as shopping but room for kids stuff like prams, bikes, even the humble family pooch. The exterior design has varied from blocky, to what looks like an add-on to the very stylish.

Unfortunately, with the rise of the SUV the demand for a low riding wagon is slowly dropping off here in Australia and in the US whilst remaining steady in the UK and European region. They’re useful, practical, better for many people than a SUV or sedan so consider that when next you go looking for something with practicality and room.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Station_wagon

Still Holden On…But For How Long?

Holden’s call for extra funding has been answered in the most unexpected way; the answer was no yet they look like they will get their funds request. Confused?holden_logo_01

As it stands,  it appears the Federal Government has had a change of heart and will NOT go ahead with the proposed funding cuts of around a half billion dollars. This isn’t good news for just Holden, it’s good news for Toyota and Ford AND all of the businesses that supply the automotive industry. Holden also hadn’t put forward a formal request for extra funding by the end of 2013 as they were expected to do, as Industries Minister Ian Macfarlane’s office confirmed recently. Current funding for Holden was approved and locked in by the previous Government, which was intended to give Holden the strength to manufacture two cars through to 2022. Says Mr Macfarlane after the walk through at Holden’s Elizabeth, South Australia factory:  “There’s money there,” he said. “The Labor Party’s added money through to 2020, which we haven’t touched and I’m not going to touch – that’s all there for keeps. It’s in the forward estimates, it’s been through the budgetary process, it’s been legislated, there’s at least $1 billion. The more, the better, as far as I am concerned, because I don’t want the industry to close down, I want them to keep going.”

This would indicate that although the Government had said they’d withhold $500million, it wasn’t mentioned that there would still be the same amount on offer anyway. This comes from an interim investigation that Mr Macfarlane has requested into the state of the industry to be completed within three months with a more detailed report to follow by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Should that report be as Mr Macfarlane clearly hopes, then there will be funding put forward with that coming from the surplus due to an underspend of allocated funds, thanks to the downturn in production over the last couple of years. This also apparently backs Holden’s original call for extra funding due to a change of market conditions since their original funding request was signed off by state and the Federal Governments in 2012.holden_logo_01

A Jealous Englishman: What the World Needs to Learn from Australia

Good day fair readers!

I do very much believe some introductions are in order. My name is Lewis and I am coming to you from the  distant shores of the United Kingdom. If I am to be totally honest, my aims are very simple. All I would like to do is to bring a little happiness into your lives through my automotive ramblings. My love for the motoring world runs deep into my family history; motor sport has been the unifying factor that has pumped passionately through the genetics of my family. As long as I know I am spreading some of the happiness that cars have brought me, I am a happy man.

 Every generation has a legend. Every journey has a first step. Every saga has a beginning

…Just a little something for you Star Wars fans out there.

As you are reading this, you will come to realise just how special you are. Your eyes now have the privilege of seeing my first blog post, here on the online majesty that is Private Fleet. Finding THE article to start with is always going to be tricky. After much searching, it came to me. And as I write this, there could never have been any other option. As a Brit with a love for motor sport, I have been possessed by the green eyed monster. Australia has everything that I am looking for. Many of my favourite things come from Australia; Jack Brabham, nice weather and Tim Minchin to name but a few.

Tim Minchin – Dark Side (2009)

But most of all, you raging beauties hold the answer. You hold the answer to one of the largest problems that has befallen the modern world. When you mention ‘motor sport’ to any average person on the street, chances are their reply will have something to do with Formula One. Formula One was a once great sport that has now fallen into crisis. Hard, adrenaline fuelled racing has now been replaced by tyre choices and pit strategy. And APPARENTLY, one or two overtakes in a race marks them out as proof of amazing driving talent. But that is another story.

Similarly, British motor sport was once spearheaded by the British Touring Car Championship. But with the onset of the 00s and the decline of the ‘Super Tourers’ the sport became unpopular, and the great racing descended into thuggish behaviour and unfair driving. the BTCC during the 90s included some of the greatest racing I think I have ever seen, and to say that i grew up with it makes me so very happy.

The Greatest Few Laps of Any Race Ever – BTCC 1992 Season Finale!

Although I must say that the BTCC is back on the rise again in the UK, it is still to reach the meteoric levels of the 90s. And well, the less said about Formula One the better really. I have spent many an hour pondering over how motor sport can be improved. And then I realised that I have known the answer all along. The V8 Supercar championship is the beacon of hope in an ever darkening world.

V8 Supercars - Bathurst 1000

Everything about the sport is exactly how I wish motor sport could be. The cars look phenomenal, they sound like the bellow of some holy deity and the racing is pure and unfiltered. If I could ask for anything, it would be for the drivers of the V8s to head on over to the paddocks of the Formula One and BTCC grids and give them a lesson in how racing should be. This sport alone proves just how amazing Australia is and, even though it may be geographically many thousands of miles from where I am, I feel a better connection with the sport than I do with many on my own shores.

And not just the sports themselves, but the arenas for these automotive showdowns are rivalled by very few others across the world. I mean, is there a more exciting, heart pounding experience possible than a full throttle lap at Bathurst? I would like to see a Formula One car deal with a track like that. The Bathurst 1000 is an incredible event that makes me realise just how great some of these racing drivers truly are. There have even been occasions when my heros from the BTCC such as John Cleland and Matt Neal have attempted the Bathurst 1000 and proved that it really is no piece of cake.

So, as I bring my love fuelled rant to a close, I would like to leave you with one final message:

Dear Australia,

Whatever happens, please do not go changing. You are the beacon by which the rest of the world should follow. Whether we are talking comedy or motor sport, there is no place like Australia. I can only wish I had the chance of heading on over and sampling this majesty for myself. 

Thank you for the motor sport!

All the best,

Me!

Until next time my lovely readers.

Keep Driving!

Peace and Love!

Top 5 Australian Cars of the 20th Cenury

Although Australian cars are the world over known for certain characteristics, it goes without saying that often people don’t sit down to think about the specific cars that have helped shaped the nation for generations. In this blog post, we look at the top 5 Australian cars of the 20th Century, and give our reasons as to why, despite flashier or smarter options available, these workhorses have kept the country turning.

The Ford Falcon

One half of the Ford/Holden rivalry that continues to this day, the Ford Falcon was in many ways seen as being bested by the General Motors variant. The Ford itself however was, and still is, a perfectly capable family sized powerhorse. It’s inclusion on this list is indisputable – Ford is planning on stopping Falcon production in 2016 as the sales of larger, gas guzzling cars begins to dwindle.

Ford Falcon Australia

Holden Commodore VT

The Commodores as a line of cars themselves are of course perfectly able – but the VT model of 1997 is especially important, as it marked the beginning of Holden’s recognition in global spheres. It still is the best selling Commodore to date – and with a more European inspired design (such as the rear suspension from the Vauxhall Omega) parts were fairly easy to come by.

Holden Commodore

Toyota Avalon

The Toyota Avalon didn’t sell well, but it is important in the car market in Australia, if only because it inspired the enormously popular Toyota Aurion. Introduced as a 1995 year car, it may look boring, but was one of only a few in its field offering front wheel drive in a largely rear wheel drive market. As you can expect, attaching a 3.0 V6 and an automatic gearbox to a front wheel drive car didn’t provide the world’s best handling.

Toyota Avalon

Toyota Camry

Originating in approximately 1980, and following the same lines as the Toyoto Celica Coupe, the Camry continues to this day to be North America’s best selling car and incredibly popular in Australia and Asia. At the time, it was considered well equipped and well designed – it also followed the trend at the time for Australia’s cars to be more economic, cheaper and lighter.

File:1997-2000 Toyota Vienta (MCV20R) Grande sedan (2011-06-15) 01.jpg


Holden VL Commodore SS Group A

You might think that all the cars we’ve featured so far have been pretty bland – and to some extent you’d be true – but you wait for this one…

The Holden VL Commodore SS was the first car produced by the Holden Dealer Team – an official partner organisation to Holden who boosts the performance of stock cars to eye watering levels of speed and power. The Holden VL Commodore SS Group A spawned a generation of Holden Special Vehicles and helped promote the V8 Racing Scene to the hugely popular levels it enjoys today.

Holden VL Commodore SS Group A

Private Fleet host a large number of car reviews – contact us to find out how we can help you make the right decision and find the right car for you.

Author: David Lye