John Austin Ballarat

AS A CHILD of the 60s and 70s a home grown car was quite simply a part of life. Like eating.

Dadís rough and ready camping trips in the HK wagon or the HG replacement, these cars willingly traversed tracks, paddocks and towed caravans to Queensland. Pops XW then XB Falcon utes were as much a part of the farm as the Herefords. All taken for granted.

I could reminisce at length about family Fords and Holdens, distant days all swirled together adding to oneís tapestry of life, but history is being made every day.

I look out the window to the Fords parked outside. And no Iím not brand myopic. I love my W124s, thereís some Mi16s in the shed, Iíll happily be buried in the trusty diesel 80 series. Sell them all and Iíd still have to add cash just to buy a shiny upmarket whiz-bang with a bluetooth whatsit and steering wheel not connected to a rack. When hell freezes over.

No, the three Australian made blue oval products sit out there ever ready for anything asked of them. Unquestionably Kelpie not Poodle. The BF RTV ute has well over 300,000km on the clock and refuses to wear out. It doesnít use an ounce of oil. It only got hot once when the weather warmed up before I had a chance to remove all the grass seeds and locusts from the radiator. The crown wheel and pinion were replaced, thatís the only major work in 10 years of service. The 12 year old AWD Territory has, likewise, done well over 300,000km. The rear bushes were replaced about four years ago. Oh, and it did need a front CV joint last year. It tows horse floats, race cars and about two tonnes of my wifeís everyday necessities. Just my opinion but I believe the Barra is one on the most robust and well sorted six cylinder engines in the world.

The real marvel is the AU2 wagon. Itís got a moon distance on the clock as well but it just keeps on keeping on. And the thing still drives like it did when it was a young lad.

Like the others, not one engine issue, nor the gearbox or the diff or pretty much anything.

I did the headlining a year or so ago, thatís it. My Fords are well used, well serviced like everything else and spend plenty of time on dirt roads. Yes, over the thousands of kilometres Iíve replaced the odd ball joint and of course rotors etc but everything is simple and cheap. I thought of buying a spare BA-BF 6 cyl engine just in case. How many would you like sir? They are about $300. I wonít bother, mine are running just fine.

Where else in the world can you own such a strong and reliable vehicle that was built within a short driving distance of your house?

Combined, the three Fords parked outside have traversed the equivalent of about 65 round-Australia trips for a total parts cost of less than a Land-Cruiser 200 Series injector pump and set of injectors or replacing an exploded transfer case in a Mazda CX9.

Itís with a heavy heart that I say thank you to Ford Australia for such fond memories and for the much appreciated contribution to our life.

ED The Ford Territory showed true Aussie ingenuity. World-class dynamics, good looks, and as you have shown John, itís robust too.